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Erica Colmenares

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since Feb 11, 2018
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goat forest garden chicken
We're transitioning to a wooded Tennessee property (currently living in a Nashville apartment). We have a son (born in 1997, now out in the world) and a dog (standard poodle, SO not a rural animal). We're interested in food forests, chickens, goats, and, well, everything (we're total newbies to permaculture).
Charlotte, Tennessee
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Recent posts by Erica Colmenares

We did a little playing around. I think it's ... OK? We got a good hard rain overnight, so I can see where it needs fixing. I'm learning about myself that I'm a do it badly the first time kind of person. I think the next steps are digging out a little more for the puddle side, and digging the lane out to drive further from the puddle. But it is better than it was.

I also took advantage of having the mini-ex and combined two deep wheel ruts from our house construction into one U-bend pond. I'm very happy with it.

5 months ago
Sara, I enjoyed your video. You have a beautiful space, it looks exciting. There are some very nice elements in place already - the fenced garden area, the outbuildings, lots of sunny, dappled, and shady areas. Looks like such a great homestead!

We are in a similar situation, in that we are thinking about a nine acre parcel around our home. My family has owned the land since 1970, and we've been more actively thinking about it for three years, and lived on it for four months. For a number of reasons I've been forced to slow down the work we do, and that's been a great thing, as it's given me time to really understand how I move around the property, what's growing where already, etc.

One thought I had about the truck access. It's a big hardscape question that makes sense to figure out soonish. Would the edge of that sunny field work (instead of near the house). Something like this?

5 months ago
I haven't been very successful at feeling peaceful about the *&%$#@ invasives, especially that Japanese Stiltgrass. In the one area where it has taken over, it's crowded out all of the native undergrowth. Do I trust that 100-1000 years from now, there will be some animal or insect that will eat it? Do I avert my eyes every time I walk through that stretch of our woods?

For now, I've been following Anne's advice and working on it from our front door outward. And it still makes me nutty, thinking I should be doing something, while knowing that really it's more than a person can do (at least a person who is unwilling to spray glyphosate).

5 months ago

Anne Miller wrote:Erica, I feel you are on the right track.

If that were my road I would dig a ditch on the side where you marked "Dig Deeper" though don't dig deeper make the ditch a foot or two closer to the edge.  Then create a way for the water to flow into the new ditch.

Then drive to the left like in the picture.

That solution works. It improves one side while keeping the other wet-ish for the beasties. Thanks!
5 months ago

Stacie Kim wrote:This would be a good project where you could earn a BB:

Fix a Pothole/Puddle--PEP BB earthworks

Some other permies folks have fixed similar situations, so maybe you could glean some ideas from that thread?

Ooh, thanks for that link. I should have known there was a BB!

Bruce, the longer term solution is what you suggest, moving the puddle completely to one side. I just don't have the bandwidth for that this weekend, so I am trying to cut corners and Save the Turtles in the short term.
5 months ago
We have a dirt lane that is in pretty good shape, with this puddle area.

It's been more or less like this for fifty years. Now that we've built a house here, there's more traffic (although not daily, as the spot is past our house and shed). Anyhoo, I don't really care about the puddling, but I do care about the turtles and frogs that may not live through the machines passing through.

We have an opportunity to use an mini-ex this weekend, and I wonder if it would work to shift the puddle to just one side, and then the occasional car/truck/tractor that comes through could drive to the other side? Or is it all just going to squish out and not last very long as a solution. I have gravel, if that would help at least delay the degradation.

5 months ago
Ooh, I forgot this thread! So many good books have been published recently (or I've had the luck to hear about them, later). Here are a couple faves.

I loved Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm, by Isabella Tree. While this family has resources and connections (and energy!) that I certainly don't, it's inspiring that they're using it to try to restore their 3500 acre estate to a pre-agriculture environment.

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorite SciFi writers, and The Ministry for the Future, his latest novel, did not disappoint. He presents a possible world future in which realistic (and fairly optimistic) actions lead to some change, diverting total societal collapse. I've listened to it twice, and will almost certainly give it a third listen.
by Kim Stanley Robinson

Louise Erdrich's newest novel, The Night Watchman, was just awarded the 2021 Pulitzer for Fiction, is as good as all of her writing. For me, it offers a small glimpse into a different world that exists and existed in the United States, Native American history, pride, culture, ways of being.

Finally, I'm sure it's recommended here somewhere, but another book that's merited two listens is The Overstory by Richard Powers. For me it was a little longwinded in sections, but the gems made it all worth that. Plus I liked the reader, which helps a lot.

5 months ago

Anne Miller wrote:I only worry about the plants in my Zone 1, mainly on the paths where I walk.

I appreciate this approach. It makes sense to start close to home. Then, if there's additional time or energy, branching outward is an option. Thanks, Anne.
5 months ago

The way I see it, removing plants that don't allow for diversity is probably a good move. Especially since that often means harm to wildlife who rely on the native plants for food. But removing "invasives" by any means and with no consideration of how removing them would affect the ecosystem they've been part of isn't always best. Observation and patience with yourself and the situation can help.

Heather, thanks for this, and your whole post. It's helpful to hear how you're moving through a similar situation -  bit by bit, and focusing your efforts on that knotweed!

But it’s only invasive if you let it go to seed.

Good point, Scott! I'm trying to improve my scything skills (actually, my scyth-sharpening skills!) as many of the areas aren't easy to get into with our compact tractor. But I hadn't thought of using it for chop and drop mulch!
5 months ago
I'm driving myself crazy with the idea that I owe it to the land to protect it from a number of pesky non-natives. For example :

Perilla mint! Easy to pull, but it's everywhere, first year just a couple plants, second and subsequent years a blanket of mint.

Tree of "Heaven" which is easy to pull when young or cut when bigger but propagates through its roots. Everyone says, "Ya gotta use RoundUp." Not doing that, so ...

Japanese Stiltgrass, which like the mint starts in small bunches and then takes over. It's an annual, but omg the seeds!

We have a plan to get goats, who I am assuming will eat everything, not just the plants that are bothering me ... I mean bothering the earth.

Anyone have any tips for learning to live in peace with plants that don't feel ideal?
5 months ago