Wednesday, November 18, 2015

SHTF Gardening

The shit has hit the fan. The government has collapsed, a pandemic confines you to your homestead or the zombie appocalypse comes knocking on your front door; whatever the reason, Safeway isn't open and you're on your own. Where is your next meal coming from? If you plan on growing your own food, then you'd best be prepared for the realities of farming without: fertilizer, running water or any other external inputs and let me tell you, it is going to look quite a bit different from the intensive, raised bed, SFG garden your Old Lady grows salad greens in. You need a closed loop, no irrigation system that will feed you while the country collapses around you.
For starters," closing the loop" is requisite if you are cut off from external fertilizers and inputs and by “closing the loop” I mean utilizing the valuable fetilizer that is regularly coming out of your ass. You're already knee deep in shit. The world has gone down the toilet. It's a giant crap sandwich and you're gona have to take a bite, like it or not. All puns aside consider joining the Humanure Handbook t cult and hot compost your toilet, food scraps and garden weeds in a 5X5X 5 ft pile before tilling it straight into the garden. Aethetics aside, there is nothing wrong with this approach. If you cant stomach this approach, the next best thing would be to keep the pile underneath a large tree or in a bamboo grove and rake up the fallen leaves to mulch the garden with. The leaves will contain the nutrients that leak from the pile as it decomposes. If you have livestock, you might grow the animal food with humanure compost and the people food with animal manure compost in order to avoid the bad aethetics of “eating your own shit” (a common though highly innacurate and unrealistic observation). In either case, I hihgly recomend seperating the urine when practical (easier for the gentlemen than the ladies) to dillute and use as quick-release fertilizer. When Lowes stops selling giant bags of 10-10-10, you wont have much of a choice but to utilize that creamy, soft-squeeze, brown fertilizer so figure out a system you can live with and implement it yesterday! For humanure composting, I highly reccomend the Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins which can be found here:
When running water is out so is intensive gardening and right spacing. Forget the "living mulch" paradigm. Leaves evaporate more moisture than bare soil and significantly more than mulched soil. How much extra elbow room the growies need is going to depend mostly on your local tempature, rainfall and soil structure but 4x the intensive gardening spacing is a good rule of thumb. That means that if the package recommends 1 square foot per plant, you are going to give it 4 (2X2 feet as opposed to 1X1). What does spacing have to do with water requirments? Its elementary, my dear Watson. Each plant takes up water, and the sun and wind evaporate that water through the plants leaves. If there are 4 plants dessicating a square foot of space, they will use up that water roughly 4x faster than 1 plant utilizing the same space. Because the feasability of “water wise gardening” and the requisite spacing is highly dependent on your location, climate and plant variety and breed, it is best to figure this out in peace time BEFORE Safeway is packed ass to pecker with zombies and you're forced to rely on your garden for 100% of your nutrition. Start a seperate, experiemental dry garden in addition to your already exisitng irrigated garden today so you arent caught flat footed when it hits the fan. For limited irrigation or irrigation free gardening, i highly recomend Gardening Without irrigation: or without much anyway by Steve Solomon which can be found here:
Feeding yourself is likely going to mean growing things you currently take for granted and foods you may have never eaten or even heard of. Harvesting the first tomato on the block may make your dick swell with pride, but after the shit hits the fan, the gardens job is first and foremost to feed you and your family. You may know how to grow a mean salad garden but unless you can live off of the salad, the whole salad and nothing but the salad, then God help you if you didnt grow some staples. We're talking: grains, roots and beans. What grows consistently well in your area? If you can grow porn star BBC sized potatoes 2 out of 3 years, but those tubers get waterlogged and die the other 1 out of three, then you are going to fuck yourself relying too heavily on potatoes when you could have done: cassava, camas or taro. Don't know what those are? If any of those happen to be what grows well in your area, then you'd best unfuck yourself and learn to grow and cook them. Maybe you're lucky and the crops that grow well on your land happen to be what you already like to eat. Otherwise, get ready to change your dietary habits. On that subject, just like a stock portfolio, diversity is key to security. Grow a bit of this and a bit of that and you might not find yourself up shit creek when one crop fails.
A final thought: dont put tall crops in between your home and the short crops. This makes it easy for the shorter crops to be stollen but more difficult for you to inflict sudden lead poisoning on the theif. Hungry humans aside, your garden may attract wild game that could add some protein and fat to your diet. That's a two for one deal, Son.
Growing a survival garden in a SHTF scenario is going to be vastly different from growing your favorite veggies in a fertilized, irrigated kitchen garden but that doesn't mean you cant feed yourself with some comon sense and second hand knowledge. Keep practical: fetilization, irrigation, species and varieties and defense in mind when growing your SHTF garden.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Operation BIT (Bunny In my Tummy)

I'd held off on getting rabbits in anticipation of acquiring the "goat" portion of "Operation: Goat On a Rope" but since the red meat has not yet arrived (government bureaucracy is being blamed though i'm not so sure) I finally broke down and got three does and a buck so that I can at least start raising some meat and furs. Operation: Bunny In my Tummy (BIT) is a go.

Day one of Operation BIT and one of the fuzzy bastards escaped from the cage. Guess he'd rather get eaten by snakes than by me; such a shame. I assume that since the other three are still in there, they can't squeeze out. The dogs are FASCINATED by any creature that is beneath them on the food chain, rabbits included, and they make sure to go check on the rabbits every chance they get. They assure me they are making sure that no OTHER dogs have eaten the rabbits. My dogs, of course, would NEVER do such a thing (so they say).

Day Two, because the rabbits misunderstand the dogs good intentions and are terrified on ground level, I put their cage up on a table. Good thing too. One of the rabbits discovered today that she too is capable of squeezing out of the cage, but also that she is terrified of heights. The Houdini wana-be is back in Rabbit Jail and the lower half of the cage is now reinforced with metal grid to keep the little escape artists where they belong. 

Day three is... tomorrow; lets not get ahead of ourselves.

On a side note, I frequently receive the following inquiry: "You're going to EAT them?!?", to which I reply "No. Of course not. I'm going to eat their babies". In just two days, I have caused more tears to be shed than Star Wars Episode 1. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Naughty piggies? The dogs are on it!

Today, as I was walking back from the field, on of the student volunteers (we'll call her Tara) came running up to me and told me that one of the pigs had escaped the sty. The poor girl, being timid and outweighed, was at a loss as to what to do. This turned out to be my dogs long-awaited opportunity to do something useful on the farm.

I instructed Tara to keep the door to the pig pen open to admit the fugitive while keeping the others inside. Once she was in place, I called to my dogs and once I had their attention, I started running after the pig, crying in an exaggerated and excited voice "Get the piggy! Get the Piggy!"

Formosan Black dogs (the breed that makes up most of my mutts' bloodlines) though not bred for herding livestock, WERE bred for chasing wild boar. Admittedly, a farm pig is a poor substitute for a wild boar but they made it work. The thoroughly harassed pig decided that the pig sty IS safer than the outside world after all and ran straight back in.

First problem solved, Tara told me that the recently re-incarcerated pig had been misbehaving all day and she was scared to turn her back on it to clean the sty. Once again, my dogs were put on the job, this time as wardens of the pig sty. When any of the pigs would get too close, I'd once again tell the dogs to "get the piggy" and they would chase it back. Once at an acceptable distance, id give a "leave it" command. Eventually, the pigs all decided to stay in one corner, content to hump each other instead of fucking with the farmhands.

Will all dogs behave like this without training? Of course not. But if you spend enough time with your pooch, you probably know how much control you have over him, how he is likely to respond to certain stimuli and most importantly what his natural inclinations are. I know that my dogs love to chase things. I also know that their ancestors were bred for chasing pigs specifically. Because I've already put a lot of energy into teaching the "leave it" command I know that I can expect them to chase the pigs if allowed, and to return to me when I tell them the pig has had enough. This, in itself makes them excellent sty wardens. Because I'd assumed correctly that, when threatened, the pig would run back to a familiar, safe place, this combination of natural inclination and training made them acceptable livestock herders in this very specific instance. That being said, I certainly wouldn't set them loose on a flock of sheep with very positive expectations.

There are many jobs a dog can do besides watered down boar hunting, even with a small minimum of training. Perhaps you have a dog that can't be threatened or bribed into walking politely on a leash without trying to rip your arm off. He might be good at bikejoring. Maybe he is an accomplished digger. Set him loose in the garden on the off season to clear out the gophers and voles. Perhaps he is the laziest dog on the block but the local predators haven't figured that out. Put him in the chicken pen where so long as he is un-inclined to chase the poultry he will likely intimidate predators.

In short, figure out what your dog is inclined to do, give him whatever requisite training is needed to make him successful, then let him loose to accomplish his life goal: to assist and please you. Both you and Mans Best Friend will be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Experiment in clearing an overgrown bed (week 1)

I've recently been sold on the idea of no-till with cover crops by this lady:

 Thing is, to get the cover crop going, I'm going to have to clear out or weaken the weeds that are already established. Since Operation Goat On A Rope can't be implemented until we have a goat to put on said rope, I decided to try an experiment to see which of the following three methods would give the best weed control for the least effort: pulling them out with the field screw and rake, crimping then covering with 6 inches of leaves or crimping only.

As you can see from the picture, after a week the row that was only crimped is rife with grasses, sticking straight up like so many middle fingers. This is probably not going to be sufficient to give my cover crops the advantage they need to get established; moving on.

The second row, I painstakingly loosened the weeds with my trusty field screw, raked them up for pig food then sowed a mixture of: buckwheat, oats and sorghum to cover things up. None of the cover crop has germinated since I was banking on a typhoon that never came and consequentially didn't water. I expect germination after it finally rains. I'm in no rush. Ultimately, I feel like this approach took about as much time and energy as it took to transfer a 6 inch killer mulch to the next row though this method yielded three heaping wheelbarrows full of pig food.

On the third row, I broke out the hand crimper all over again and pinned down that grass like my name was GSP. I then covered everything with leaves. Some of the leaves in our compost pile are from aleopathic trees (not sure about the English name of this tree species) making this killer mulch extra deadly. True, I may find that I have effectively shot myself in the balls when I transplant broccoli into this row and find that aleopathy swings both ways or I might find that brassicas aren't bothered by this particular aleopathic compound. Only experimentation will tell.

Keep you all updated!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Naturally repel mosquitoes with lemongrass and foot odor

Lemongrass works great for repelling mosquitoes though it is hard to really estimate a range or an effective concentration to keep the little suckers away. I found that my legs get the most attention when I'm out in the field and since it is way too hot and humid to wear long pants, I've had to just “take it” like a Thai whore, that is, until today.

Putting lemongrass in my pockets has been ineffective. Rubbing it on my skin has not shown any noticeable effect either. Sticking a clump in each boot, however, has done wonders.

Grass in the boot has been highly effective at keeping my calves bite free. To be fair, the mosquitoes might be deterred by the leaves waving around rather than the scent. At any rate, it keeps them away from my legs. I haven't gotten bit on my arms either though my upper body gets less attention with or without the lemon grass in my boot.

This is my new go-to strategy. Perhaps it will be equally effective with other herbs in other climates where lemongrass doesn't grow. I encourage any and all anecdotes on natural mosquito repellent.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hugelkulture Misadventures

Remember in my first post how I'd mentioned you all taking the opportunity to learn from my negative experiences rather than making then yourself? Well, in the past 2 weeks, I've been hit with a double whammy of hugelkulture"learning experiences". In short: be aware that buliding sunken huglebeets are going to involve topping the new bed with sub soil (unless you already have very deep topsoil) and that the dirt you dig up to top the hugelbeet with will leave behind a pit that, if filled with rain water, will become like a cheap, pay by the hour love hotel for mosquitoes. Hello Dengue Fever!
Believe it or not, this is the "soil" on top of the hugelbeet a week after I painstakingly slung it up there. None of the oat grass or cow peas I sowed have made an appearance but the quack grass is doing just fine; go figure. Sure, there is a smorgasbord of nutrients, organic matter and retained water underneath, but the dirt appears to be completely unaware. In fact, this layer of sun baked clay is harder than a 12 year old boy watching his first porno. What I have been doing since this photo was taken is putting on alternating layers of dirt and leaves. Hopefully the OM turns the subsoil into something that will behave a little bit more like topsoil. 

See that knee deep pool of mud water? If you look close, you might see the mosquitoes sucking and fucking; sucking me and fucking each other that is. I wound up bailing out the water like a sailor on a sinking ship, all the while swearing like said sailor as the mosquitoes had a field day with my juicy, tender calves. Only after 5 days, through a combination of bailing and evaporation, the hole dried upI was finally able to get back to digging. Don't leave half dug pits at the end of the day. If it rains and fills up that pit, you are going to have to wait for it to dry up to go anywhere near it without getting eaten alive, much less do any actual digging. Dig it all the way so that even if it rains, you can fill up that pit with some wood and mulch to soak up the water and deny access to flying parasites. 

Hugelkulture by hand is demanding enough as it is. You don't want mosquitoes feeding on you while you labor, nor do you want your new bed unusable to anything aside from creeping grass because you neglected to mix organic material in with your subsoil topping. An ounce of prevention, my fellow permies! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

How to and how not to make a hugelbeet.

I've finished one hugelbeet and have started on a second. Experience is the best teacher, but if you're like me, you prefer OTHER peoples experience. I'll share some of my eff ups with you so that you can avoid my mistakes.

What I did on the first one was I dug down a single shovel depth, tossed the soil onto the previous section, dropped enough wood to raise it about a foot higher than the surrounding field, then moved to the next section. Rinse and repeat. I realized after I was done that: more or less wood requires just as much soil to cover and therefore more wood is going to have a higher return on invested time and energy, one shovel depth of soil is not nearly enough, one needs to make a point to bury the sod rather than tossing it on top with the soil (upside down or otherwise), it is very necessary to put the largest pieces on the bottom and progressively smaller pieces on top and that some kind of border is necessary to maintain your desired height and width.

Armed with a laundry list of do's and not not's, I dove into building a second, but not even 1/10th of the way through, some "shoulda woulda couldas" have popped up already. First the vindications that I'm doing it right this time: I dug and threw three shovel depths of soil on top of the previous section which is piled up with wood until it is sticking up 3 feet above the surrounding field. The sod goes onto the previous section once the wood is half piled up and the biggest chunks of wood are at the very bottom and the twigs and leaves are on the top, avoiding the problem of big-'ol logs sticking out of the tope periscope-style. However, I'm unimpressed with the performance of my wattle border and heavy leaf mulch in between the beds. I regret the blood sweat and tears poured into the wattle fence which is not nearly strong enough, nor driven far enough into the ground to support the sheer mass of rotting wood pressing against it from within. Next time, I will drive in posts as I am building the hugelbeet so that they get buried as im flinging soil onto the previous section. I don't see any advantage to weaving wattle fencing except for on the very top few inches where the soil is piled. The leaves, though being 6 inches thick at application are already being breached by the quack grass. I wished I had put down cardboard first and then leaves.

The picture is the second hugelbeet in progress. As you can see, the soil on top of any given section comes from the next section, leaving behind a hole in the ground to deposit more wood. This hugelbeet is sunken 2-3 feet in the ground and raised 2-3 feet above the surrounding field, making a hugelbeet that is approximately 5 feet tall.

The second picture is the same concept illustrated by the master stick-figure artist, yours truly, Daniel. I know, I know, sometimes I even impress myself. I try to stay modest but Lord knows it's hard.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Weed suppression in no till

Fine! Fine! I give up! Ill try this no-till nonesense! Now shut up about the friggin soil OM!

But really, the big reason that I've all but discarded the idea of no till is that I had, until today, never understood any no till weed control method aside from using large amounts of supposedly weed-suppressing organic mulch. If you want to know how well THAT experiment is doing, go ask the crab grass that is happily growing through the 12 inches (not exaggerating) of half-composted leaves.

Here i thought that the only way to eliminate a cover crop without freezing weather was to spray is with Roundup. Sure, I COULD break out the non-selective herbicide. I could also french kiss a cobra. Stupid people do stupid things, am I right? I was pleasantly suprised to stumble upon this site:

that features a hand crimper (no tractor required) and explains what a crimper does in such a simple way that even a dip shit like ME can understand. A crimper kills the cover crop by breaking (not cutting) the stem, while leaving the whole thing attached to the roots so that it doesn't get blown away by the next typhoon.

Add in the fact that oat grass is aleopathic and you have sold me hook line and sinker on this no till+ cover crop deal.

This hand crimper, BTW, does not eliminate the possibility of using the goats for clearing a row, but that is a subject for another post which is going up as soon as we finally GET the goats to try this madness out with.

Oat grass and cow peas are in the ground already on a very small patch of the two new hugel mounds. Ill let you know how cover crop elimination goes in 8-10 weeks.

Traffic Cone Dog

Yesterday, I woke up to find that Hero had managed to get a big gash in his side that required stitches. The vet bill: 3,000 NT (about 90$ US). For such carelessness, he has been sentenced to The Cone. Doorways are gona be a significant obstacle for the duration of his recovery.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Is hugelkulture worth the effort?

Hugelkultures benefits are many: eliminating or decreasing the need for watering and tilling, sequestering carbon, increased nutrient retention, increased soil OM, increased vertical growing space, increased fungal life, micro climate creation, blah blah blah. Chances are, if you have stumbled across my blog, you already know about the bad-assness that is hugelkulture. The one and only con of a (properly made) hugelbeet is the upfront labor required to create it.

Just how much labor is required? I once read on that the work expended in establishing a hugelbeet is equivilent to 5 years of labor condensed into one. Creating mine by hand, i feel that this is about accurate. Keep in mind, your milage may vary. I'm a 24 year old professional athlete so hauling logs and slinging dirt is one of the less physically demanding exersises I regularly perform. But even my grandma could build a huglelbeet if she had a tractor and any incentive whatsoever. My hugel beds are sunken, which means the dirt on top comes from the adjacent section, as opposed to being hauled from A-B which would be much more laborious. The logs im using come from a giant brush pile that is conveniently located about a football fields distance from the mounds ive been building. If your source of wood is further or closer, your project will be more demanding.

Most of us after reading the previous paragraph can agree that in my particular situation I have it much easier than the average bear. But on top of the relative ease or my situation, I have far more incentive than AJP (Average Joe Permie) as well. The rainfall around here tends to swing from one extreme to the other. I kid you not when I say that 2 weeks ago we were digging a drainage ditch to save the veggies from drowning but are now furiously pumping water into the field to keep them from drying out. The soil we have to work with is pretty high in clay which means it both drains poorly and presents lots of resistance to deep root penetration making veggies grown in it especially sensitive to excess and inadequate percipitation (though the quack grass does just fine). Hugelkulture provides a buffer against rain extemes by lifting the veggies above the muck, providing soft, easily penetrated soil to burrow into and high water retention. That's what we professionals like to call a "win-win".

On a side note, green vegetables can triple in price immediately after a typhoon. Having some leafy greens chilling on top of the hugelbeet immediatly after Mother Nature throws one of her infamous tantrums provides some economic opportunity. Cha-Ching!

Deciding wether or not to give your field the agricultural equivilent of breast implants is not an issue of pro's and con's. There simply aren't any con's aside from the upfront labor. It is deciding how much labor, in your case, it will take to make hugelbeets compare to how much labor it takes to manage your field without them, and how badly you need the buffer against rain extremes.

"Practical" permaculture as opposed to what? Part 2- Exercise vs Labor

Measuring the ratio of agricultural output to labor input is a fat crock of shit and is going to have to acknowledged as such for society to become sustainable. That's because, while a small percentage of the population grows food for the rest of us which necessitates: tractors, chemicals and "labor efficient" agriculture, the rest of us are either "exercising" to meet the doctor recommended hour a day, or dying from inactivity related diseases.

What advantage is there in: jogging, biking or whatever fad exercise is popular this month over: tilling a field, hauling compost or scything hay for livestock? If you answered "there is no advantage" then you and I are on the same page, Hommie. In fact, if you were to spend your doctor-recommended hour a day in the field, you'd probably contribute enough to grow everything you would eat on a vegetarian diet. Animals are going to require a little more work than an hour a day per person but that is a tangent for a different post. The truth is that growing fruit, vegetables and grains, even by hand, is not as labor intensive as you probably imagine it is.

I'm not comparing farming to martial arts or weightlifting for instance. Spading a field is not going to make you a trained deadly weapon or a beefcake MoFo, but it will fulfill your daily cardiovascular exercise requirement in a much more practical way than say: Tai-Chi, Tae Bo or Tying your shoes (see what i did there?). So practically speaking, pounding the pavement for an hour after work to stave off heart disease, aside from being boring, is an inefficient waste of time. 

Why does Average Joe prefer "exercise" over "labor" then? My best guess is that it is an insidious form of conspicuous consumption. Poor people engage in "labor" while us high-class folks buy food from the store, send our kids to daycare, shit in our drinking water and "exercise" after our busy, fulfilling and productive day of pushing paper. My second best guess is that the idea just doesn't occur to the average lemming.

Can a tractor rototill a field faster and more easily than you could spade it? Do chemical fertilizers require less labor to apply than compost? Does preemergent herbicide keep a field weed free more easily than a scuffle hoe? Well, my dear Watson, sure as a bear shits in the woods and my dogs shit all  over the otherwise soon to be harvested brassicas modern farming requires far less labor. But are these methods anymore "efficient" when 98% of us pound pavement instead of flipping soil? Quit drooling. It was a rhetorical question.

When you get bored of paying gym membership so that you dont keel over from heart disease at the ripe old age of 20, i'll have a spade and an extra pair of work boots with your name on them, my friend. We can "exercise" together and sustainably. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

The real reason cover crops are essential in any large scale agricultural operation

I'm going to assume you know all about how cover crops are used to: supress weeds, prevent erosion and fix nitrogen into the soil. What AJP (Average Joe Permie) likely doesn't realize is how by not using easy to kill cover crops he's selectively breeding difficult to kill weeds. 

This morning, I've been out raking a freshly spaded row to plant some sorghum in. Since our CSA uses tillage and mulch to control weeds, we are left with only the weeds that survive tillage and mulch. While the uncultivated sections of land in the corners of our property are growing a plethora of wild plants, the cultivated rows are growing little more than creeping grasses and purslane: the only stuff that is killed by neither tillage nor deep mulch. With no other weeds capable of surviving this double whammy and coming back to contend with the creepers, those little bastards run rampant like a caffeinated 5 year old on an airplane. 

The way I see it, there are 3 options. The first being to go Full Polyanna and convince yourself that the virtues of crab grass outweigh the cons (even as everything you plant among the grass shrivels up like an 90 year old penis). The second would be to break out the "bigger hammer", till twice and use more mulch. The third, and by far the most practical, would be to reintroduce those tillage fearing plants that my colleagues have dilligently driven to extinction by sowing a cover crop after harvest rather than letting the crab grass reclaim the row. 

By sowing a cover crop, you introduce vegetation that will compete with the crab grass but not with your all mighty spade. Will it miraculously eliminate crab grass in one season? I suspect not, but it will certaintly decrease those noxious, creeping stems with less human labor than anything else, barring and act of God, that I can imagine. 

How to keep dogs off of the grow beds

A pair of playful dogs can wreak havoc on a bed of newly transplanted starts. 4 dogs tearing through the farm can Fuck. Shit. Up. I'm not about to leave the dogs in the house while I go out to work. Other than their need to excersise, explore and roll in the dirt, they drop "fertilizer" in the field (as opposed to in my house) and they scavenge quite a bit which cuts down significantly on my dog food expense. That means the fuzzy, little terrorists and the vulnerable vegetables are gona have to coexist.

To be fair, a properly mulched bed is going to suffer very little loss from dogs walking across them or even laying down on top of them. However, if you get playful dogs accelerating, decelerating and making 180 degree racing turns on top of the freshly transplanted broccoli, its going to be a brassica holocaust. 

When you want to teach a new rule to a dog, there are 3 things to keep in mind: make sure the dog understands what the rule is, give the dog incentive to follow the rule and be realistic about the dogs cognitive ability. In this case, the dog needs to be taught which areas are off limits (the vegetable beds) reprimanded immediately when it transgresses the boundaries, and the human needs to realize that the dog can not distinguish between your prized cabbage and the bush it pees on every morning. After all, they are both green and leafy. 

First strategy i heard second hand but have not tried it myself, is to teach the dog to fear wire. Get a 9 volt battery and connect a length of wire. Stretch the wire somewhere that Fido is going to go snooping (I might leave this in front of my open bedroom door since that is off limits anyways, and kill two birds with one stone) and assuming Fido is anywhere near average intelligence, he will quickly learn an aversion to wire. After this, it is a simple matter of bordering the no-go zones with wire in order to repel the furry marauder. Is it mean to let your beloved pooch get zapped a few times? Perhaps. But it is much more humane than letting him piss off your neighbors until they start leaving out rat poison laced meat (true story). The dog understands that wire bordered territory is off limits, anticipates a shock  if it trasngresses this border (incentive) and is more than capable of learning that wire = pain. Now if only I can find a way to equate garbage can contents = ass whoopin', i'll be a happy dog owner. 

The strategy i personally employed is to encircle the growing area with three strands of cord with the top one being knee height. This very clearly marks an area in a way that even a dog can understand. The incentive, however needs to come from the humans. Rocks work very well for this (fuck you PETA). the dog wont need to get pelted with a pebble more than once or twice to get the message. This is going to work even better if your dog already knows the "leave it" and "out" commands.

Like almost every situation, an untrained dog is a liability while a trained one is the ultimate companion. Once Fido gets the message, there is no reason to expel him from the garden.


"Practical" permaculture as opposed to what? Part 1- feeding society

I find the typical permie farm, our own included, to be a piss poor example of practical, sustainable agriculture.

Welcome to Qian Jia Farm. Sign up for our CSA and we will hook you up, Son! We'll stuff your fridge with a variety of food that is packed with more nutrition than player haters even know what to do with! At least, that's the idea; my beloved CSA falls woefully short and has no strategy in place to move beyond providing vegetables. They are the highest quality and most delicious vegetables you're gona find around here but nobody is feeding their family on veggies alone.

As a matter of fact, just today the 2 full time employees, one other volunteer and myself are sharing lunch and I ask "how much of this came from our farm?". With a big shit eating grin and mental pat on the back, Auntie Volunteer proudly declares that the vegetables were grown on the farm, confessing by admission that the: meat, tofu, spices, noodles and fish came from the grocery store. Of course, I praised the vegetable dish, albeit with the sincerity of one complimenting a 5 year olds finger painting masterpiece, then finished the mostly store bought meal.

I, myself, consume a balanced diet consisting of: vegetables, fruits, grains and meat. Average Wang (the Taiwanese equivalent of Average Joe) much more grains and meat than fruits and veggies. Nobody i know of could make more than 10-20% of their diet off of produce from our farm. Essentialy, our farm produced a lot more education and good vibes than it does food.

And how can any system be "sustainable" if the farmer cant even feed himself?

Thanks for visiting my blog

My name is Daniel. I live in Qian Jia village, Hsinchu county Taiwan with my 4 stray dogs. We moved here to be a part of the local permaculture CSA and ill be documenting our contributions and the CSAs progress.

Thanks for visiting!