Posted by & filed under Health & Disease, Livestock, Soil Rehabilitation.

This entry is about cows and pigs. But before we get down and dirty let’s start with some basic facts about humans’ and pigs’ nutrition to make sure we’re on the same page.

What does it take to fatten pigs efficiency?

It is said that all animals need proteins to be fattened efficient. Is it really true? Not entirely — in fact all we really need is a substance which proteins are made of: amino acids. Some of which the body can ‘produce’ on its own. These ‘self-made’ substances are called non-essential amino acids and they are synthesized mainly from carbohydrates and other amino acids.

And those amino acids that humans and pigs cannot produce themselves are called essential amino acids.

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Financial Management.

VersaLand fields: Tree shelters protect an emerging 145 acre permaculture farm

Even though they do not know it, the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supporting permaculture. You won’t find this word brandied within any official publications, and most extension agents would give you a quizzical look if you brought up a concept such as zonation, yet there exists a language and support system for many of the most important practices in permaculture farm-scale design.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Food Forests.

Small area of food forest


The Phayao Permaculture Center (PPC) is a new two acre permaculture design implemented to be the retirement farm for myself and my Thai family. It is located in the wet/dry tropics at 19 degrees north latitude in Northern Thailand.

Having taken the PDC course with Bill Mollison on Maui, Hawaii in 1982 It has been my vision to retire on my own PC designed land. This came about in 2012 when I purchased the land for my Thai family.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Peak Oil, Society.

Samuel Alexander (1), Simplicity Institute

Climate change is not ‘a problem’ waiting for ‘a solution’. It is an environmental, cultural, and political phenomenon which is reshaping the way we think about ourselves, our societies and humanity’s place on Earth. — Mike Hulme

1. Introduction

In recent years the notion of a ‘carbon budget’ has entered the lexicon of climate science (e.g. IPCC, 2013; Meinshausen et al, 2009). This concept refers to the estimated maximum amount of carbon emissions that can be released into the atmosphere in order to retain a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature levels below a 2°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. This is the global temperature threshold reaffirmed during the Copenhagen conference in 2009 but which many climate scientists argue should be revised downward (see, e.g., Jordan et al, 2013). Although the science underpinning the carbon budget is increasingly robust (see Le Quere et al, 2013), many scientists, politicians, and the broader public have been slow to recognise its radical socio-economic and political implications.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Housing, Bird Life, Fencing, Livestock, Urban Projects.

I started my journey with chickens with two lovely ex-battery hens who were so friendly and were real pets. However, they made short shrift of my garden and tended to wander everywhere into other people’s lawns. No matter how often I clipped their wings, they kept getting out. Although I really loved those two characters, they were causing problems for me and my neighbours. Sadly, they were subsequently stolen and so I decided to give Silkies a try.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Society, Village Development.

Imagine if Tom Vilsack (whose Wikipedia biography does not list any experience whatsoever with farming or farmers prior to his appointment as the United States Secretary of Agriculture) emerged from his offices to find a cow tethered on the street outside and protestors informing him that it was his task to milk her. This was exactly what happened in Norway during 2012 protests to changes in agricultural subsidies for Norwegian farmers. (1) The cow outside the council buildings sent the message that farmers and their unique sets of skills are vital to the health of our communities and food systems and are undervalued and underestimated in their complexity and import by citizens and politicians with little understanding of what farmers do.

Norwegian agricultural policy is interesting to consider because they have taken such a drastically different path from our own here in the USA. Historically, Norway has fought hard to preserve small farms, while America has focused on maximizing production, at any cost. In a 2003 report from the Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Knut Hei writes,

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Posted by & filed under Commercial Farm Projects, Compost, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Nurseries & Propogation, Seeds, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Trees.

When most people think about nurseries and plant propagation, they conjure up rows and rows of black pots and the smell of moist palettes of artificial fertilizer. But there is no natural law which dictates this to be the only, or even a preferable way in which to propagate plants.

While in-situ propagation from seed has been proven to be the healthiest and most energy efficient means of mass propagating most plants, sometimes you need to create sheltered controlled conditions for certain plants to get established.

If you are in a situation where plant pots are not available, if you cannot direct seed your plants, or you want to avoid the pots altogether, there are several other methods to get plants established.

Here I share a few ideas about natural, simple nursery establishment and protocols.

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Demonstration Sites, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation.

Stolen leaves over yucca plants with banana circle backer

The first time I did it I did so on the sly. I needed some mulch for a piece of dried up clay I was hoping to convert into a forest floor upon which I planned to grow a food forest. The piece of land next door was thick with leaves, and having seen the groundskeeper over there laboring with a rake on prior occasions, I decided to give him a hand. One morning, I started collecting leaves on a tarp, dragging them to the spot I was working on. I did it several times that day, and several times the next until I’d covered a space of about twenty square meters ankle-deep in leaves.

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