Category Archives: Permaculture

There is Funk in the Orchard

A few weeks ago i made a post, There is Fungus Among Usin which I outlined my entry into the world of Korean Natural Farming. About a week later my post, IMO aka Indigenous Micro Organismsoutlined the second step in creating microbial rich preparations for application. Today’s post is about the final step of stabilizing the two microbial cultures, Lacto-Baccilus & IMO, that I initially collected/captured then refined.

The Milk/Lacto serum mixture after two weeks in the closet

The Milk/Lacto serum mixture after two weeks in the closet

You can clearly see the separation of the curdled milk solids from the refined Lacto-Bacillus serum. This process grows the Lacto in an environment friendly to them and less friendly to the other microbes that were caught in the initial rice-wash water phase.

Separating out the milk solids

Separating out the milk solids

This stuff STINKS!!!! Bryan McGrath in his YouTube video, Korean Natural Farming-Lacto Bacillusmentions that he once tasted this “cheese” and it wasn’t bad. I’m calling Bullshit on that! My chickens gobbled the stuff up but the reek was/is horrid. The serum got mixed 1 to 1 with unsulphured molasses to create a shelf stable liquid that is supposed to be good for a couple of years.

The inoculated rice mixed with brown sugar after fermenting for 2 weeks

The inoculated rice mixed with brown sugar after fermenting for 2 weeks

The IMO stuff was heaven compared to that stinking Lacto concoction. The above mixture was combined with water at a rate of 10 to 1 then the solids strained out.

10 to 1 mixture

10 to 1 mixture

The solids from the IMO fermenting process

The solids from the IMO fermenting process

Again the chickens gobbled the dregs down, all of this funky stuff the girls are gobbling down should be good for them in that it really is just probiotics for the farm.

The ingredients of my pulsing spray

The ingredients of my pulsing spray

I applied my first full-bore pulsing spray to my orchard, garden beds, and coop area today. The ingredients were 5 ounces of my recently stabilized IMO/Lacto concoction, 2 ounces pure cold pressed Neem oil with a dash of organic dish soap to emulsify it, and 4 ounces cold processed liquid fish.


All of this was mixed with enough chlorine free water to fill my 2 gallon sprayer and applied to my fruit trees thoroughly. After the trees were soaked to the point of runoff the garden beds and coop areas were sprayed with what was left of the second sprayer full.IMO10

One of the Comfrey plants I thought I had lost

One of the Comfrey plants I thought I had lost


Look at the worms in the roots of this Comfrey plant I'm relocating

Look at the worms in the roots of this Comfrey plant I’m relocating

All of the microbes in this mixture are going to fed and energized by the fatty acids in both the Neem oil and Liquid Fish and hit the ground running, breaking down organic material into compounds less smelly and more useful to my plants. Additionally these beneficial microbes should colonize the bark, leaves, and mulch crowding out harmful microbes. I’m looking forward to blogging about the results both positive and negative. Initially I have one negative that I will have corrected before my next application, that little 2 gallon sprayer killed my back bending over to pump it up. There is definitely a 4 gallon back pack sprayer coming to my tool shed soon!
















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Wormy Permie?

In my trade if someone just ain’t right they get labeled as wormy, having just wormed my flock I think I understand the term a little better now. Surfing the blogosphere via categories I think may interest me it hit me that the term permaculture is being rather rapidly possessed by people that could use a good healthy dose of Wazine, or maybe even Swine strength Ivermectin.

There are Blogs where outlines for designing a permaculture haven are being developed with military precision and a rigid adherence to a formal Dogma that I have yet to find. Then there are the “certificate” holders that wax poetic about the near mystical experience they had digging a hole for an outhouse at the direction of some self proclaimed Permaculture Guru, and they paid “tuition” just for the honor of creating a place for this person to take a shit!

Where is this seemingly unreasonable rant coming from on such a hot, muggy, miserable Sunday afternoon? I read a post where a common schmuck, like myself, was worried that what they were doing on their little piece of Heaven might not “really” be permaculture because they were thinking of using a tractor! First off I need to clarify that in my little world wormy is most definitely a negative and possibly slanderous term, schmuck most assuredly is not! I am proud to be just a common schmuck and use it as a term of respect. Again, in my world, a schmuck is someone who just tries to do the best they can with what they got. The key point being TRYING, if your not trying to do something you might as well just go check yourself into somewhere where you ain’t gotta do nothing. OK that last thought didn’t quite develop properly but I think you get the picture.

I absolutely love Paul Wheaton’s site: there is lots of interesting information and a whole lot of schmucks. Those schmucks take the form of greasy haired hippies, serious engineer types, housewives (or househusbands), wannabe farmers, and generally every other type of person you can imagine. They are all great people just trying to make things better one little bit at a time. If what their trying works out they go on their and share their success, if it doesn’t they share that to. Again the key point being is that it is just a bunch of people like you and I trying to do something, they aren’t worried about following some set of rules, their just doing. To wrap up this silly little rant please don’t let the thought of breaking some “rule” of permaculture, or anything else for that matter, stop you from doing what your instinct is telling you to do.

Now for something completely different:









OK maybe not completely different. I decided to apply some of the principles I had learned long ago from the many National Safety Council conventions I attended. In the hierarchy of safety the most effective way to control a hazard is to remove it. Have you seen any of those Public Service Announcements about being sure to remove the door from your old refrigerator so a kid won’t suffocate in it lately? Didn’t think so, in fact if you ain’t over 30 you probably don’t have clue what I’m talking about, refrigerators used to have handles that latched them closed and kids would be playing hide and seek or some other game and get locked in them then suffocate. Just like in my war on the Space Alien Trained Evil Egg Eating Chickens, the refrigerator industry tried everything they could think of until they finally just eliminated the hazard. Since latches were removed from refrigerators the number of kids suffocating accidentally in them has plummeted, first results on my roll out nest box modification looks almost as promising. My sweety, Karen, showed me some fancy roll-out nest boxes in a chicken magazine, they wanted $50 a piece for them suckers! I Say No Way Jose! An old cage pan and a pair of tinsnips and I got roll-out 1.0. Hopefully this will fix the problem by eliminating temptation.


The nest box choices have been reduced from 6 to 4, with the 2 grey ones having been retrofitted with roll-out 1.0 devices. If this continues to work I plan on out fitting the to blue nest boxes with some sort of glued in shelf just inside the opening. The eggs laid in them currently naturally tool to the front. My little BCM dominant Barnyard Bastards have all escaped from the juvenile pen and are running with the big girls now so I expanded the roosting space by constructing the lovely ladder type monstrosity seen above. Wrestling that thing into place resulted in me being soaked completely through, did I mention that it is hot and muggy here today?

My mantra for the week is going to be “just keep trying” and I hope that all of you do to. If by chance your the one that was worried about using a tractor, try not to worry about the little things, I read your posts and your doing some amazing stuff, keep up the good work!

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Barney(s), Comfrey, and Mullberry’s

My Barney hatching went off OK I guess. A 25% hatch rate ain’t great but at least I got 4 cute little Barnevelder chicks in the brooder. WOW that sucks! I just went in to take a picture of my 4 Barney’s and noticed that two of them are having leg issues. 😦 Karen and I just put hobbles on them but I don’t have very big expectations, I tried this once before and all it did was delay the inevitable.

You can see the one in the foreground that is rocked back on his bum, him and the one behind him are the two having issues. They were fine yesterday, I wonder if I am doing something wrong during incubation? Karen thinks maybe the flock they came from is inbred? If you have any ideas let me know!

Tomorrow I am going to plant my two Mulberry trees, one positioned on the west end of my orchard to provide shade from our brutal afternoon sun. The other I am going to plant just on the outside of the Chicken run so that eventually its canopy will overhang the run to provide some shade and drop fruit into the run. Both trees need a little trimming so I bought some rooting hormone and am going to try propagating a couple new trees. While I’m at it I am going to cut a stalk from my Timber Bamboo and try potting up several cuttings to see if I can get the start of a windbreak going.

The 4 comfrey plants are going to be planted in my orchard, two at the head of the lanes between the first two rows. I think I am going to put the last two at the bottom of the center two lanes where the ground dips a bit causing the area to be a little moister than the rest. I’m not quite sure on that though, the idea of putting in a fourth 4’x4′ raised bed keeps popping back up in my head so we’ll see.

Lastly I am struggling with an egg eater(s), I have isolated the likely culprits but my egg production hasn’t gone back up. Before putting them in quarantine I would find 4 or 5 broken eggs a day now I’m not finding any broken eggs or shell remnants but am only finding 1 or 2 eggs daily.

If you have any advice I could sure use it on any of these issues.

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Closing a few loops

My best friend’s son Cody had his first successful hatch today and I think he’s hooked. My recurring chore of hauling mulch went off without a hitch with the one exception that John wasn’t there to discuss whats going on with my pluots or to see my super duper silenced air gun. This weeks load of mulch went into the chicken coop, I had filled the bottom of the henhouse to a depth of 10″ about 3 months ago. In that time the depth had shrunk to about 4″ due to the girls scratching it out under the sides and natural composting action. The mulch had also reduced in particle size from large shreds down to pieces 1/2″ and smaller.

My Sweety Karen came out to practice her Photography skills at The Fruity Chicken Orchard/Chicken Ranch today while I puttered around. She did a much better job with her Olympus than I do with my I-Phone.

I finally got around to setting up my compost bins on the west side of the henhouse. The idea is that I can go out once a week or so and rake up the girls feeding area and dump it all in the bins. Just cleaning up the accumulated mulch, chicken poo, and dried up vegetable scraps filled up one of the bins. Every ten shovel fills or so that got dumped in were followed by two bucketful’s of vile smelling water from the duckpond. All indications are that this compost pile should heat up rather quickly so that in a week, maybe two, I should be able to turn it into the second bin and start refilling the first.

That vile smelling duckpond is also on my radar, I know that it is full of valuable nutrients just waiting to transformed into something useful. The first level that will be implemented in this system is the introduction of duckweed into the pond. For a couple bucks I got a plastic baggy of water and a little bit of green stuff. Truthfully I felt that I got ripped off till I dumped it into a bucket that I had half filled with water from my Koi pond. That stuff goes everywhere, in addition to the bucket I now have several plastic shoe boxes with it in it. I read that it doubles in anywhere fro 24 hours to 10 days, we’ll see. I do know that the little bit that I put into the Koi pond seems to have multiplied several fold overnight.

Over at The Soulsby Farm Blog they had an interesting article on rain gardens, now we don’t get a lot of rain out here in Vegas but the article did make me think that I could do something similar in the outflow from the duckpond. The same drip irrigation system that refills the chicken waterers twice a day also refills the pond and creates a small amount of out flow. The challenge will be finding appropriate plants that will be able to tolerate our scorching heat while having wet feet. If anyone has suggestions please let me know.

The theme of this post ties into my overall purpose in writing this blog. Now keep in mind that this a personal purpose not some bigger than the sum of its parts, gonna change the world kinda purpose. Am I a great writer like Sara over at A Scribe’s Tale? or an amazingly talented Artist/Photographer like my sister Lorri over at The Eff Stop? The answer to both questions is an obvious NO! What I am good at is putting concepts together. Thats what I am doing on my Blog. Stealing other peoples ideas, twisting them about, then talking about how I think these ideas are going to work in my situation, and finally documenting the success or failure of my efforts. Yeah I sometimes am trying to entertain, brag, stimulate, or maybe irritate readers. My core philosophy is to keep focused on the things I have control of and to make things better one little thing at a time.

In summation if you have ideas or are doing things that might help in my situation, please comment and let me know about it. Or you can just like my post, you can be sure I’ll surf on over and glean something useful to plagiarize.

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Chicken Forage part 2

This morning I set up a dinner table for my chickens next to their coop. The idea came from this article I read over backyard chickens.

Some stuff in that article seem a bit off to me, like worrying about your chickens eating where they shit. Come on! it’s the other way around, they shit everywhere! when one dumps a really good one the others come running over to see if there might be something good in it. In my opinion to many people try to apply human sensibilities to animals and trying to keep your chickens eating in a clean sterile environment is just nuts. But the idea of putting something in my run to get the girls to jump around and put a little effort into getting their food seemed to mesh well with other stuff I had read regarding foraging and paddock systems.

I got lucky in finding a local restaurant that the chef was willing to give me scraps from the kitchen as long as I provided a couple of clean buckets. This morning the girls first take out order came in, I wasn’t sure what to expect but if todays haul is typical we hit pay dirt! The buckets had melon halves that still had plenty of flesh, carrot peelings, bell pepper cores and tops, scallion roots, and all of the seeds out of the melons. As you can see the girls went nuts.

With these great vegetables and the cooked rice I have been getting my feed bill should stay under control. Currently I have been going through about 1/2 a bag of all-purpose pellets a week for my 25 chickens, 5 ducks, and 1 ducken.

The pellets are provided all the time in my treadle feeder which really helps keep down the amount the pigeons eat. When I first got this feeder last year it took my chickens about a week to figure it out but now when they hear the door go CLACK they come a running!

Overall I’m finding that while my situation may not be perfect for a by the book paddock/forage feeding plan as Paul Wheaton out lines in his article, Raising Chickens 2.0, with a little creativity I can create a hybrid system that should make for happier healthier chickens and lower feed bills.

As I was going back through this Blog post it dawned on me that the key to making foraging work for a suburban flock is for the flock tender to do the foraging. Most of us don’t have the resources to produce our flocks entire feed needs. Either we are short on space, the climate is a bit challenging, or any other number of things such as regulations restrict our plans. Instead of throwing in the towel and relying on commercially produced feeds I am discovering that you need to think outside of the box and focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t.

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Chicken Forage

I read a very interesting article about raising chickens that advocated a paddock system as a way to reduce feed costs. The area in use for my flock isn’t big enough to separate into areas that would have time to rejuvenate between rotations but being roughly 20′ x 60′ I believe I can devide the area in half and still not overcrowd the girls. For a foundation I am going to plant a red mulberry tree in each 20’x30′ paddock, then I need to find some durable shrubs that will hold up to both the chickens and the hot dry summers here in Vegas. Does anyone have any suggestions? Will chickens eat rosemary? I know that stuff is tough and who knows maybe it would preseason my unwanted roosters! Bamboo is another plant I was considering, I have two big clumps of oldham bamboo that I can cut a chunk out of to transplant into the paddocks. I was kinda thinking that I would put a clump of bamboo near the overflow of my duck pond in the one area then place my 2′ diameter water basin in the second area with the bamboo located in the overflow from that. There is irrigation lines that have drip manifolds in both areas that are on a time clock to fill the waterers. I would sure appreciate any advice, expert or otherwise.


Hugelkultur Fugelkultur

One of the basic pieces of permaculture is a raised bed construction practice known as Hugelkultur, to me that sounds about like that VW commercial from the 90’s but what do I know. Studying up on the practice of hugelkultur a bit I read claims about not having to irrigate your garden all summer, decreased need for fertilizer, and improved soil structure. While I am highly skeptical of growing tomatoes in Las Vegas without watering all summer any gardner here in the Valley should be striving to improve their soil structure. As previously mentioned in this Blog there is considerable open space between the trees in my orchard

So with the goal of putting in a couple of raised beds and the concepts of hugelkultur whirling about in my head I kicked Cammie outta bed, got in the Jeep and headed up to the Fruity Chicken!
Notice the Planks over Cammies Head
We stopped off at the local Lowes and picked up some 5/8″X6″X6′ dog eared cedar fence planks, I had used these same planks a couple weeks ago to make my sunken beds. Why these planks? Well they are cedar, but mostly they are cheap! Less than $2 a piece. I cut them to length and assembled them with gorilla glue and my brad nailer into 4’X4″ boxes, I did reinforce the corners with L-brackets because I had them.
The area chosen for my two raised hugelkultur beds is between the Eastern most rows of trees in the Orchard, I chose this location because of access and so that as the Fruit Trees grow they will give the beds some afternoon protection from the sun.
The next step after choosing the site and placing the frames is hugelkulture thingy of this project….filling the frames with rotten wood, wood chips, and coffee grounds. (the coffee grounds thing aint really in any of the Hugelkulture stuff I read but I figured it can’t hurt)
Above are my finished beds awaiting planting. On top of the wood and coffee I put about 6″ of compost. Bullshit you say! Those beds were only 6″ to begin with! Well I filled them with compost, watered them, pulled the frames up, backfilled around them, and repeated until the truckload of compost was gone. Tomatoes are going to be planted on North end of the beds with Peppers in front of them and I’m not sure what in front of the Peppers.
Cammie says all of this Gardening and Blogging is exhausting and it’s time for a nap!
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