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Apr 7, 2008, 9:45:36 AM4/7/08
to Permaculture Design Course

Hello all,

I'm still here, just been a little quiet online. I've been busy,
busy with a couple of other things that have come up as well as trying
to get things organized for the spring...which has finally arrived!
Been feeling a little overwhelmed with it all but things are plodding
along a-ok.

The snow has finally gone. We've gotten a few late storms so for a
few weeks it seems that winter was never going to end this year.
I haven't actually been up at our place for a couple of months.. been
house sitting at the parents, so yesterday was literally a breath of
fresh air when we took a trip up to check it out. Since we weren't
living there at this time last year I had never seen it just after
the snow melt. Well it's very brown and wet! :) The birds are out
though, as well as the bees and we even saw one frog. Little bits of
green are poking there tips out of the soil though. My husband thinks
I'm a nut now because I spent a good hour wandering around and
squealing like a little kid and pointing "Oh look, look!"
A surprise though was when we saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes foraging
through the marshy water in the back. We live in a major migration
zone for the crane and after doing some 'googling' found out that it's
common for it to breed in our area and that not all continue on
north. I'm hoping maybe these two are planning to stay. If not it
was still a treat to see. They are beautiful birds.

The good news is that the two apple trees we planted last fall have
survived and have small buds on them. We also rescued a small wild
cherry tree from the parents place last year that was in the way of
bunkie my dad built. We just dug it up and planted it without much
hope that it would live. In the fall I thought it was dead. Well
nature has done it's thing and it has buds on it too. :)

Had a bit of setback with the tomato seeds. I planted an early batch,
they sprouted fine but developed a very aggressive mold. Instead of
fighting it I just scrapped the flats. It's not to late because this
is the week we normally plant them anyways.

So the plans for the next week are to get the seeds planted. Mom is
returning tomorrow which is good because we have several hundred to
plant. Nice to have a partner.

I spent the time at the house looking at the land and planning out
where all of the new garden beds are going. I'm going to be using the
no dig method so basically will be covering the areas that are now all
grass and weeds with various smothering material. For the beds that
will be planted sooner rather then later I'll be using newspaper (it's
free) and the composted straw which we have tons of. I also want to
reclaim the areas around the fence lines from the grass and will be
using plastic (free from the lumber yard) and some of the flat junk
that's been lying around the yard that the previous owns left. There
is a pile of corregated metal sheets and stack of old doors. Most of
those areas will be planted later in the summer with perennials and
shrubs so hopefully by that time it will be easier to deal with. It
sure won't look that pretty though. :)
I also have to get it through the hubby's head that..'.no we don't
need to bring in a small tractor or rototiller and dig up the whole
field.' He's still very skeptical or trying to get his mind around
'not having to dig'. "Trust me dear it works I've done it
before." ;) He's coming around though when I keep repeating. "Less
physical labor and time...nature can do it for us, if we're

It also looks like that we will be getting chickens this year. At
first I decided that it may be two much work at this time to get it
all set up for them. I discovered though, (not sure why I didn't
notice last year) that the shed behind our house that used to be for
the small dogs the previous owner bred is already set up perfectly for
chickens. It has pens in that actually have doors that lead out to the
fenced enclosures. I totally missed seeing the little doors last year
and though we would have to do some renovating to the shed if we were
going to use it for chickens. Not anymore! All we will have to do is
redo the inside with some nesting boxes and the roosts and instant
chicken coop. The plan is to get the flock going and then later on
work at figuring out the whole 'chicken tractor' thing.
There is a rare/heritage breed show in a few weeks so I plan on
making contact with people who breed heritage poultry and go from
there. Many of these breeds are endangered and we'd like to do our
part in fostering diversity in this area.

I've also been looking into getting bees and found the whole thought
quite overwhelming. I however discovered the small field of organic
beekeeping or 'natural' beekeeping, particularly something called
warres based beekeeping.
We've had a lot of issue with "Colony Collape Disorder" in Canada and
the US as well as problems with mites and other diseases. However in
the area of organic beekeeping they haven't been experiencing these
problems. In a nutshell in my reading it can be distilled down to
'factory farm, industrialized ' type beekeeping vs more natural forms
of beekeeping. It's really a no brainer when you get down to it.
Anyways the warres type techniques seem quite well suited to a small
scale permaculture system. It's low cost and low maintenance. You
basically set up the hives and leave them be to do what they naturally
do. It disturbs them less and the only time you fiddle with the hives
is twice a year, once in the spring and at harvest for the surplus
honey, the rest is just left for them to live on through the winter.
Some good info can be found here.

Anyways thats all for now. Must get to work!!

Leigh Blackall

Apr 7, 2008, 4:57:43 PM4/7/08
Wow! Thanks for the detailed update! I posted it to your wiki blog just for the record. Hope you don't mind.

You've inspired me to write an observation update for down here too.. as Autumn is happening, and I'm noticing so much in terms of new growth (which surprises me). I'm discovering so much about simple observation that I'm almost ashamed at how long I have gone in life without observing such things. This highlights Benny's concerns about us using technology to convey our discoveries I think, the fact that we (I) spend sop much time observing this virtual or representational world that I miss the opportunities to observe the world directly outside my window.. now - I'm striking a blanace.. slowly.

Anyway, many thanks for taking the time to update us Christine. Its great to know you're still with us and still observing. I wonder if you have scanned Youtube for short movies to show your Hubby :) Maybe he's just itching to wheel out a machine and ride it? I know I'm a bit like that :) If that's the case, he might be interested in learning about earth moving for water management.. all that mud you are dealing with now.. could that be managed through some alterations to drainage etc? There are some good videos on Youtube from the Australian Institute of Permaculture about such things..
Leigh Blackall
skype - leigh_blackall
SL - Leroy Goalpost
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