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Rocket Mass Heater Plans: Annex 6" L-shaped Bench by Ernie and Erica
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Neal Spackman

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since Mar 13, 2011
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Recent posts by Neal Spackman

Beth Wilder wrote:This is great and inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us!

Neal, do you have a print report somewhere that lists which tree and grass and other species were/are successful? I heard you mention that there are new acacias growing now, for example, which is great. At other times in the video, it looked like you might have some Prosopis and even some Parkinsonia species there. Is that right, or am I just seeing what I'm familiar with from our (more like 330mm/yr rainfall) high desert mesquite savanna (perhaps what I thought were mesquites were acacias -- we have and love both here, but the acacias right around us don't get as tall as the mesquite, so I tend to be thrown when I see other taller Acacia species)?

Near us, a rancher in the Chiricahua Mountains brought stonemasons up from Mexico to build checkdams and share their expertise. I was struck by the parallel of you-all bringing in Yemeni stonemasons for the stone terraces. Very inspiring. Thanks again!



Hi Beth,

Yes we trialled prosopis, parkinsonia, albizia, leucaena, faidherbia, casuarina, 2 different moringa species, commiphora, and ziziphus, plus all the local acacias that came up on their own.  There are others i would have liked to trial, but couldn't get the seed in or find a good source--particularly some african trees that i thought would do well.  
11 months ago

Anita Martin wrote:Thanks for posting the video, it was very inspirational! Great job, and respect for your perseverance.

I have lived myself on the West coast of the peninsula for years and explored a good part of the peninsula. It would be so great to see more projects like this. I am afraid an important part of the wildlife there is either extinct or vanishing. I remember seeing hordes of wild monkeys (in the 1980s), wulfs, and also (never seen by myself) the Oryx antelope and wild cats like leopards.

There is so much potential to start sustainable projects in the country, so your project is really uplifting.



The monkeys are still there up by Taif--there's a new highway headed up that way.  The wulfs are still there too--still hunted by the bedou and hung outside their tent as a trophy/warning.  I never saw a leopard but a man a couple hours down the road accidently poisoned one a few years back and was thrown in jail for it--they're highly protected and respected at this point.  I have no idea where the oryx and hyraxes are at this point but they're out there.  
11 months ago
Rebecca those vines were just supposed to grow for a season and then provide some woody groundcover--they did their job.  Silvopasture was the objective after i'd been there for 3 months and realized the initial design we did was deeply flawed.  
11 months ago
Used to post here quite a bit and it's been quite a while, but...

Here's what happened after 9 years in the Saudi Desert:

11 months ago

Mostafa Ismail wrote:

Dylan Mulder wrote : I love Elaine Ingham's work,





  So do I , I love Elaine Ingham work , and her approach is more convincing  to me more than any body else .

now what is missing ? or what is wrong ?

Is dr Ingham  wrong ? is she missing something ? is she keeping something to her self, and not telling in her lectures ?

I don't really believe in Mr Solomon approach ,

So can any body tell us who else have a better approach ?



السلام عليكم يا مصطفى.  

 You do need soil life and composting and manure.  As you know Egypt's ag land is desalinating ever since the high aswan dam was built and the floods/mud/silt cycle was disrupted.  As for water harvesting in Giza, unless you have mountains to centralize and direct catchment, your best bet is the nile.  
3 years ago






The flood video is from a late summer rain in September. First time in 5 years we have gotten any precipitation in a month other than December or January.
5 years ago
Raised beds drain water away from the beds, increase evaporation through greater solar exposure, and are typically the opposite of what you want to do in the desert. Sunken beds, on the other hand, increase shade, increase water retention, and decrease evaporation. If you're doing beds in the desert, you'll have more success with sunken beds rather than raised ones.
5 years ago
Referencing "Challenge of the Desert: The Negev", I was impressed at the scale they operated on. When you have catchment-production area ratios of 20-1 to 80-1 you can grow some very water intensive plants. What we're doing in the KSA, we're operating on a 2-1 ratio, and have been able to get the foundations of a silvopasture operation going on less than 3 inches of rain a year. I don't think we need to necessarily grow stone fruits and grapes the way they did in the Negev--but the baseline foundation of using a ratio of catchment to production is the only way to get things going in extremely arid areas.
5 years ago
Hey all,

As one of the few here trying to get an operating silvopasture farm in a hot/arid landscape, I was wondering what is out there regarding rotating poultry. We are past the point that I should have added animals, and since our climate seems to require doing everything backwards (sunken beds instead of raised beds, aquifer recharge instead of ponds, etc), I think we need our own subject for doing this.


I already have pigeons on my site, with an earth bag pigeon house we built. We haven't started intense management of it--in fact we didn't buy any pigeons. But we have 4 that have moved in and are living off the site. I think we could multiply that 100 fold with a bit of management and some more attention. I am under the impression that pigeons require the least labor out of all of these.

With chickens, i'm trying to figure out what kind of rotation I can do and also what kind of coop. With a standard coop, our hens would die from the heat, so it has to be something both well ventilated and well shaded, while being harvestable and mobile I am planning on starting a small flock once temps fall in October, and just trying some things out, but I am wondering what other peoples' experiences have been. Ours are going to eat fallen prosopis pods, pithecellobium pods, mooring pods, and fallen leaves as forage off our tree systems, and i expect to have to supplement it to start out with.

When I was in the Guatemalan desert i noticed a lot of people kept ducks, but they were mostly fed household scrap rather than foraging. Having a pool of water where I am seems almost nonsensical on a broad scale, but perhaps in a zone 2/zone1 border?

BONUS CRITTERS: The Arabian Hyrax.

I am also going to buy a few clutches of hyraxes, which in our context sell for about 125 dollars per head (for meat). They are native to our context and are tremendously hardy.
5 years ago