Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)

Part 3:    8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:    4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:    0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)   

Objective: Raise some chickens for food and to also help with insect, grass and weed control in our 2-acre organic community orchard…!!!

As most of you know, in permaculture design we attempt to:

  1. garner the greatest amount or number of yields
  2. from the minimum amount of work 
  3. while creating no waste (at least minimal)
  4. and restoring the environment.

Let’s see what additional benefits we can obtain from this project other than just the insect, grass and weed-removal help from 100 chickens.  This will be our chicken saga as it reveals itself in real time.   We’re always learning too and raising this many chickens at once, and in this way, is stretching us some.  

We will take the experience we do have, plus apply permaculture design principles, while adding in good-ole common sense (with help from some great books, friends  and the internet) to work creatively and see what we might come up with.

It all starts with an order of 100 chicks (multi-heritage breeds from McMurry) that Hayden and Cameron (our two work/study intern students) selected.  All were delivered through the U.S. mail.  All survived!  Hayden created a safe and warm habitat from a yard-storage container, a heat lamp, and some old boards and fencing.  This structure lasted almost 2 weeks before they outgrew it.  During this time we worked on a more permanent home/coop.

  Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)”

Building a Jean Pain Style Compost Pile

This past Sunday the Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup and Living Off The Grid Meetup joined forces to build a compost pile that would provide heat for the grow beds of a greenhouse.  

Some of the last loads of compost to go on the pile
Continue reading “Building a Jean Pain Style Compost Pile”

Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 2)

 Part 2 of 2

Click Here for Part 1

 

Pictured:  
Initial drawing of a keylined hillside with swales and linear food forest overlaid. 

 

Current Conditions

  • The field is east facing with a substantial slope (approximately 20%) that is presently planted with alfalfa and a host of other prairie and pasture plants. The land sustained many years of agricultural practices including tilling and chemical use which has caused two significant areas of erosion indicated on the map with tan, squiggly line in the sketch below.
  • The excess water running off the hill (during rain events and snow-melt) flows northward at the bottom of the hill where a substantial wet spot, located mostly on the neighbor’s property, has sprouted up many moisture loving trees and shrubs, most notably, black willow.
  • Some aged maple trees boarder the north/south highway, providing substantial shade on the lowest part of the property in the mornings.
  • Area 2 comes right up to the work and living area of the farm (Area 1) and picks up again just south of said area for 200 feet where the ridge meets the southeast corner of the property.

Permaculture Design Recommendations

Keylining and Swales

In order to deal effectively with the two distinct areas of erosion, (cream colored squiggles in aerial photo below) while simultaneously preparing the soils for an abundance of food production, we recommend keyline plowing in years 1 through 3.  Keylining is done until dramatic improvement to soil quality is achieved.  

Continue reading “Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 2)”

The Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup Builds a Rocket Stove

This Labor Day weekend the Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup traveled to Woodstock, IL to build a rocket stove. Here’s a time lapse video I made of what went on the first day. 

In case you it went by too fast for you in the video or you, I’ve pulled out some of the pictures from the video and posted them below.

  Continue reading “The Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup Builds a Rocket Stove”

Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 1 of 2)

Permaculture Design Charrette — July 2011

Above: The Design Crew – Completion of a Cup Swale

So often in the world of permaculture we focus on the elements of a design, like gardens, herb spirals food forests, or chicken tractors. It is all too easy to get distracted from what the real goals of permaculture are, which is how we assemble the items in the landscape into a cohesive and synergistic whole; the permaculture design.

Creating a design is an important part of our Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) courses but is not the only way that a design can be made. At the invitation of John and Ann Hippensteel of Wind and Sun Farm, Midwest Permaculture hosted a permaculture design charrette at their farm in Door County, WI. The charrette was opened up to their family & friends and the greater public.  In attendance were 4 family members, 6 other students, and 3 Midwest Permaculture instructors/designers — Bill Wilson, Milton Dixon and Bryce Ruddock.

We will share some of this design beginning with an overview of permaculture, the farm, the goals of the design, and our process. 

Continue reading “Wind & Sun Farm – A Permaculture Design (Part 1 of 2)”

What is a Permaculture Design Charrette?

A-Frame being used during a Permaculture Design Charrette

Learning to Create a Permaculture Design With Others  

Often times, the best way to learn something is by simply doing it.  It’s one thing to read and study about the permaculture design process, but until one actaully sits down and goes through all of the considerations and steps involved for an actaul piece of property, do the intricacies of this work really hit home.

The purpose of a charrette (a group design process) is to go through the design journey with others, some with more or less experience.  The idea is to tap the collective wisdom of the entire group to create a design that is likely better than any one person might create.

We will be hosting such a charrette in Door County, WI, over a 5-day period (June 29-July3) for a 40-acre farm. We will start by observing what is already there in the way of soil, sun, water, plants, local markets and other energy flows, move into what is possible with these combinations in comparison to what the land owners would like to create, and then dig into the research and design steps. By the time we are done, our hosts will have a permaculture design that they may implement over the next several years.

Time permitting, we may dig into some hands-on earth works such as digging some swales or rain-gardens.  Food and camping are included with the training.

Door County – Permaculture Design Charrette – June 29-July3

Homemade Grow Boxes


Self Irrigating PlanterI Loved this YouTube Video
Frank and his Homemade Grow Boxes

Build Your Own Self Irrigating Planter (SIP)
Meet Frank Fekonia from Queensland, Australia. Living in a relatively dry climate on a south facing slope he needed to come up with a way of growing bountiful gardens on rocky soil, on steep terrain, and with little water. Similar to the SIP, why not build tall raised beds or planters that conserve water while minimizing the amount of bending over to work the beds. Certainly he could figure out a way to build them for under $200 each. He did better than that. He built over a dozen of them for almost ‘nothink’. I love the creativity of Franks idea.