Livestock, Working Animals — by Gina Gabet June 11, 2013
Photos © Craig Mackintosh
The image of the tractor has symbolized farming since the 1900s. In fact, you’d have to travel a bit further back in time to find an equally enduring symbol: the horse… until now!
Alternative farming practices — known variously as permaculture, organic, biological — continue making leaps closer to meeting our needs of sustainability. These ‘natural’ systems are being designed more and more to include the integration and use of animals. We’ve all heard of chook tractors (also here), vermi-composting (also here), and using goats as lawn mowers. Well, what about having some real horsepower to get the job done?Comments (6)
Livestock, Working Animals — by Keveen Gabet June 7, 2013
Permaculture loves redundancy; stacking functions over elements. It’s all about efficiency in design after all….
We are familiar with a few techniques to integrate animals into our farm life (chook tractor, aquaponics and vermicompost), but I don’t see enough concerning our other favorite animals: goats and sheep.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Working Animals — by Catherine Sullivan May 15, 2013
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
It’s score one for the bees. Last week the European Union banned neonicotinoid pesticides for a two-year period beginning early next year.
Key findings cited evidence of the role neonics play in destroying bee populations. The ban is specifically for flowering crops as neonics penetrate plants from treated seed through to affecting flower nectar and pollen, which bees and other non-target insects feed on. Bees in particular have a high acute toxicity to the systemic pesticides. It impairs their nervous systems, resulting in disorientation, navigational problems and coupled with damaged memory, affects their ability to forage. Neonic pesticides can also be retained in the soil profile for lengthy periods.Comments (2)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Fencing, Rehabilitation, Working Animals — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 12, 2013
Almost everyone who is exposed to permaculture concepts has seen the above graphic (from Bill Mollison’s Introduction to Permaculture). It’s a great way to get people thinking about how to create whole, functional systems that use different elements (like a chicken) in combination with other elements (like those found in your garden), to save labour and increase productivity. It is for many an eye-opening concept, but one that is quickly grasped, and one that encourages observation on the products and behaviours of many other elements — be they ‘animal, vegetable or mineral’.
It’s a great lead-in to permaculture thinking.
The gentleman in the video below well exemplifies this thinking. He clearly knows how to ‘manage’ his little chicken workforce. He knows what they love to do, and he knows they’ll charge him little to nothing for it. He recognises that to get the most out of the chicken, can also mean giving most to the chicken. This is a typical permaculture win-win.Comments (3)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Building, Compost, Livestock, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Rick Pickett March 20, 2013
Rehabilitating degraded land in the Peruvian Amazon requires utilizing many tools in ecological agriculture’s arsenal. We use a mix of sea kelp, calcium solutions, organic fertilizers, and rock phosphate to add nutrients to our sacha inchi and mocambo polycultures.
One fertilizing solution we were without on the farm when I arrived was the mighty worm bin.* Vermiculture, or vermicompost, is a low-tech, organic method of using the digestive capacity of redworms (Eisenia fetida) to recycle animal and kitchen wastes into solid and/or liquid organic fertilizers. The worms may also be used as a high-protein feed for poultry. Some enterprising farmers also get into the business of selling the worms, castings and/or teas.Comments (7)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Breeds, Insects, Working Animals — by Catherine Griggs February 5, 2013
This article is for all those people out there who are under regular attack from the cursed slug. If you live in Great Britain or North Wales like I do, you know all to well about these little beasts. 2012 was a year of slug plagues for most gardeners in the UK due to the wet and humid weather which provided ideal breeding conditions. And with climate change these wet, humid summers are not likely to go away, so it’s best to get prepared.
Slug plagues are of course a symptom of an unbalanced ecosystem in that their natural predators and parasites are not abundant enough to balance the slug population. A balanced ecosystem takes time to establish so slugs can be a big problem in newly created permaculture gardens, especially when mulch is used. I would like to tell you about the fastest most entertaining and resourceful way of getting rid of your slugs.Comments (10)
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Breeds, Food Forests, Insects, Livestock, Plant Systems, Working Animals — by Eric Toensmeier January 24, 2013
Cattle grazing under alder in silvopasture system
at Las Canadas, Huatusco, Mexico
Integrating livestock seems to be the best way to have a larger-scale food forest (anything over one hectare or a couple of acres). If done properly, livestock integration can greatly reduce labor and fossil fuel needs. It can create the conditions for happy and healthy livestock. Done poorly, it can ruin soils and destroy crops. Here are a few things that I’ve been learning as I travel around and view this aspect of permaculture in action (plus some important tidbits from reading).Comments (30)
Courses/Workshops, Land, Livestock, Swales, Working Animals — by Penny Kothe November 21, 2012
Capturing water before it runs off your property is key to rehydrating parched landscapes. Building ‘swales’ or channels along contour with uncompacted mounds is one way of assisting water infiltration.
Building swales can also be an expensive exercise utilising heavy machinery which is expensive to transport and hire.
Nick Huggins, of Jacmarall Farm uses an innovative way of building smaller swales that is within the economic reach of most small farmers. Using pigs to do the bulk of the digging work, Nick calls this ‘pigscavation’.Comments (2)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Livestock, Working Animals — by Ecofilms October 8, 2012
Here’s a great idea for a chicken coop built to fit the dimensions of straw bales. A simple four post construction with a raised floor and tin roof is all you need. Both sides of the chicken coop have temporary straw-bale walls that keeps the coop warm in winter and cool in summer. Chickens lay their eggs and roost in the center of the coop. In the springtime you replace the straw with fresh material. You don’t need to build any extra timber walls as the straw bales will keep the elements from entering the coop and keep the chickens nice and cosy.
The discarded bales can be either used as mulch bedding for the garden or used as deep litter for the chickens to scratch through and fertilize the material. Either way, its an efficient way to build your coop and keep the chickens happy.Comments (3)
Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Bird Life, Food Plants - Annual, Irrigation, Livestock, Plant Systems, Urban Projects, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Charlie Jones August 22, 2012
You don’t need to eat fish to set up a backyard aquaponics system! Ducks are a great alternative and produce a huge amount of nutrient for growing veggies (not to mention providing eggs, meat and snail and slug control!) and they’re generally good friends to have around. At the Farm of Fluff, Chris and James set up this ‘quaquaponics’ system with a few bits and pieces we’d collected from the side of the road — and so far it’s doing brilliantly! You need a strong pump and good filtration to cope with the large particles coming through though! (We found a whole tomato blocking the drain one day, so check and clean regularly!)Comments (7)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Fencing, Land, Livestock, Working Animals — by Dan Palmer July 18, 2012
In late 2009 we were engaged to complete a design for a ¼ acre block in the Melbourne suburbs. It was for a family of four and the husband in particular was keen to grow lots of food.Comments (4)
Browsing (feeding on vegetation other than grasses) may be an important aspect of the equine diet that is often overlooked, yet it may play an important role in the digestive health and the natural behaviour of horses. Scientists at the University of New England (NSW, Australia) are embarking on a research project to improve our understanding of an area of equine nutrition that is largely unknown.Comments (2)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Breeds, Building, Fencing, Livestock, Urban Projects, Working Animals — by Dan Palmer June 21, 2012
When designing edible gardens, a site-specific problem will often crop up. One of the most enjoyable aspects of permaculture design for us is devising site-specific solutions to those problems. In this short series we give four examples, all bona fide VEG originals, with a new one each month for the next four months.
Part One – the Chook/Fox Filter
The Site-Specific Design Problem
In 2005 Dan from VEG lived in a Melbourne sharehouse with abundant veggie gardens, a woodrow-style chook tractor and several chooks, as shown below. Another chook tractor is shown in the next photo to give a better idea of what the thing looked like — a lightweight moveable bottomless chook pen.
Compost, Project Positions, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Working Animals — by Robert Burns February 25, 2012
Aloha. This is an introduction to my TEDx talk and my WWOOFing experience here at the PRI’s Zaytuna Farm at The Channon, NSW, Australia.
I came here the day after Christmas 2011. I knew about Geoff Lawton and Zaytuna Farm from my time in Hawaii on an organic, educational farm there where I had seen the DVDs on permaculture that Geoff had made. I wanted to see what permaculture was all about. I had had an introduction to it there and so I ventured out. In my TEDx talk I mention going on a journey and it led me here to this permaculture farm and it is a wonderful experience. This has mostly been due to the people I have met here, the students/interns and the food is incredible. I tell everybody I am here for the food and chef Ish and chef Tee do a fantastic job.Comments (6)
Building, Insects, Working Animals — by Anthony Andrist February 6, 2012
Editor’s Note: Those keen to gain more expert insights into beekeeping would do well to take Anthony’s upcoming 1-day Introduction to Beekeeping using Permaculture Principles course, to be held March 25, 2012 at Lansdowne in the scenic Manning Valley on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Australia.
Go to the bee, thou poet: consider her ways and be wise.
– George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
Looking for simplicity and compatibility between styles, we moved next towards a top-bar design. Essentially, it is a wooden bar placed horizontally across the width of the hive and has a starter strip of foundation comb or a wax bead along the centre to encourage the bees to build comb. The bar can be flat on the bottom, have a notch along the centre to place a wax strip, a semi-circle, a triangle or even a comb footprint, to give the bees a starting point. The bars are set side by side across the top of the hive and can be any length. Most bars are between 3.175 to 3.5cm wide and from 40 to 50cm long.Comments (10)