Tag Archives: Permaculture

Comfrey Fermentation

My next venture into Korean Natural Farming techniques is FPJ aka Fermented Plant Juice. Comfrey01 Comfrey02 Comfrey03 Comfrey04 Comfrey05 Comfrey06 Comfrey

The Comfrey I got from Coe’s Comfrey last fall are really doing well this year. In fact I should have paid more attention to where I had planted it, apparently I missed some when transplanting them out before tilling the area for the first of my new 4’x12′ beds and now there are little comfrey plants coming up all over. Those little plants are going to be allowed to get a little bigger before they get potted up and either transplanted or given to one of the Master Gardeners at the UNCE orchard. Comfrey Comfrey09

The first harvest of leaves resulted in a 1 gallon bucketful weighing a pound and a half. Four days later you can’t even tell anything was cut from the plants, this stuff grows like mad and thrives on high nitrogen sources like raw chicken manure and straight urine! Comfrey11Comfrey12

After mixing/macerating the comfrey at a rate of 2/1 with brown sugar the volume was greatly reduced. Comfrey14 Comfrey13

Four days later and the mix has started to funk up a bit but hasn’t gotten stinky….yet. Comfrey15

While not strictly according to the procedure laid out by Bryan McGrath in this excellent FPJ outline:  I added 3 cups of  dechlorinated water because it seemed like the right thing to do. At this point my Comfrey concoction smells sorta like canned spinach.



Then it was back into my newest hidey-hole to ferment until next weekend. If my brew starts developing the dreaded hydrogen-sulfide rotten egg smell it’s going to have to move up to the orchard to escape detection by my sweety Karen.



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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: permits.com 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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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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