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Darren Collins

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since May 04, 2011
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rabbit chicken woodworking
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Jamberoo, NSW, Australia
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Recent posts by Darren Collins

This guy does some really good calculations on energy storage options for a home-scale system:

The conclusion is that in general, batteries are probably the cheapest, most convenient, least dangerous and simplest energy storage option.

By far the best place you can spend money and effort is in reducing your energy storage requirements. The two things to think about are reducing your overall electricity usage and shifting usage patterns to take advantage of variable electricity generation availability (i.e. directly using the generated electricity instead of storing it for use later).

You can reduce electricity usage with things like buying efficient appliances, doing things manually, drying clothes on a line, having a solar hot water system, heating with wood, etc.

You can use generated electricity directly without using storage to do things like pump irrigation water from a well or creek up to a high tank/dam using solar power when the sun is shining (or wind power when the wind is blowing), and using that water supply to gravity-feed your household and/or garden so you don't need to run electric pumps on-demand. You could also run your washing machine and other appliances when solar/wind power is available, instead of running them from stored energy.
4 years ago
Hopefully some people find this as handy as I did...

Pick up an old mailbox from your local recycling centre, tip shop, Craigslist, Facebook freebie group, or wherever. I got this large stainless steel one for $5 from my local tip shop.

Install it in your garden, and store some hand tools in it - a knife, garden shears, twine, scissors, hand trowel, gloves, etc. It'll be weatherproof, and you'll always have the right tools handy when you need them in the garden!

I know this is an old post, but it seemed like a relevant place to post my thoughts...

I've built a sort of similar system, using 6 bays connected by a common aisle, and with a chicken coop and scratch yard separate. I can control the chickens' access to the bays by opening and closing gates.

Instead of just having grassy paddocks, though, I'm using the bays for intensive vegetable growing. The chickens have access to one bay for a month at a time, and I do all my composting in that bay. So when they are first moved, they get lots of fresh greenery to demolish, and then for the rest of the month they can pick over my compost heap and add manure. All my prunings, weeds, kitchen scraps and collected horse/cow manure go into the compost pile, and the chickens eat the good stuff and pick grubs etc out of the rest as it breaks down.

I've described it in more detail here, if you're interested: 6 Bay Chicken Garden Rotation System

I'd be interested in what other people think!
4 years ago
Yep, Chris Francis' videos were one of the two main sources of inspiration for my system - the other being Linda Woodrow's mandala gardens.

Funny thing is, Chris actually lives near me but we've never met. Would love to see his system in person, and get some feedback from him on mine! I think his has been going for 10 or 15 years now, so I'm sure he's learned a lot about how best to run it.
4 years ago
Yes, we're on a little bit of a slope too. Maybe about a 1 in 6 or so gradient. I've got the bays stepped down the hill, but the centre aisle just follows the slope.
4 years ago
After constant battles with the local wildlife over who should be eating the tomatoes I grow, I finally gave in and caged my entire garden.

I divided the caged area into 6 bays, and rotate my chickens through one bay each month before planting it out again. I was partly inspired by the Linda Woodrow chicken dome mandala garden thing, but I needed sturdier protection for my chickens (we have a lot of foxes and dogs in the area) and of course wanted to protect my garden from the birds and possums.

I've posted a writeup and photos here: 6-Bay Chicken Garden Rotation System

The system seems to be working pretty well so far. I know I'm not the first to do such a thing, but I haven't been able to find very much info on similar systems online. If anyone has done, or knows of, a system like this, please share! I'd love to get your tips and advice.

4 years ago
Sorry, replying to my own post - there are more and better pictures of the cabin here:
4 years ago
First, I have nothing to do with this property - just saw it on another site and thought some here might find it interesting!

The post I saw said this small A-frame cost about $700 to build. It's being advertised as an off-grid glamping getaway in beautiful country, and renting for a decent amount on AirBNB.

Seems like a nice way to bring some income to a larger property while you're trying to get your permaculture systems off the ground!

Does anyone at Wheaton Labs know of this property? Sounds like it's not too far away!
4 years ago
I recently heard mention in a podcast (was it a Geoff Lawton interview?) of a permaculture textbook that's widely used in Australian schools. I'm in Australia, and have kids in primary school, and I have no idea what it is or what it's called! In fact, I found this forum thread while searching for it .

I suspect it may be the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Gardens Program ( She has been instrumental in helping to set up hundreds of school gardens, and has published an excellent book called Kitchen Garden Cooking With Kids. It ties the garden and kitchen together, explains the seasonality of all the different fruits and vegetables, and is full of really well thought out recipes that primary school kids can make.

Some other resources I came across that you might find interesting:

A paper from the NSW Education Department, called "A food centered curriculum: How permaculture taught through school kitchen gardening can lead to more sustainable schools and communities and a more sustainable future":

Edible School Gardens:

Let me know if you find anything else interesting! I'm working on getting a permaculture garden set up at my kids' school.
8 years ago
I posted a summary of what I know about Daniel Salatin's rabbits over in the critters -> rabbits forum: