The Pest Control Chicken

If you are an animal and environmental lover like myself, you may be the type to always keep your eyes peeled for new ideas to live an organic life. As a worker for a pest control company, and an environmental enthusiast myself, people always ask me, what is a great way to keep bugs and spiders out of my house without using toxic sprays or calling the exterminator regularly? The major piece of advice I am giving to others time and time again, is to look into getting a couple of chickens.Chicken Pest Control

Chickens are actually amazing pest exterminators. Their diet primarily consists of eating what they can pick out of the ground, or snag off of the ground. Having a couple of chickens to stand guard in the yard means you got some termite eaters, cockroach chewers, slug swallowers, snail suckers, tick tasters, and enjoy the bugs in your yard like beverages. Chickens do a lot more than just lay eggs and supply tasty meat for farmers. They really do some solid work around the land that they’re bawkin’ around on.

Chickens take out the bugs on your land, and work tirelessly to get their daily meals. They’re life goals are to pick out the next piece of food from the ground, so they can hurry to the next delectable delight. For those that have a larger number than the usual critter count on your land or inside your buildings, instead of hiring a pest prevention management crew to come regularly, think about hiring a couple chickens at the lowest wage imaginable at $0/hr. There really isn’t that much responsibility you will be undertaking with these chickens on your land, just be sure to keep an eye on them and ensure they’re not up to any funny business.

For those garden growers, we recommend one of three options to protect your garden from chicken manure or obstruction.

  • Install a chicken pen, and only allow chickens into your garden for a short time-frame daily.
  • Put your garden in a pen to prevent the chickens from sneaking into the garden.
  • Cut chicken wire and install it into your bed to prevent the chickens from ruining the soil around your garden, but still allowing the chickens a free roaming area.

I hope after this long description on the benefits of pest control you are getting out of chickens, you didn’t forget about possibly the most fantastic treat you are getting out of them. Eggs! You know how free roaming chickens on your hand, producing high quality organic eggs. Some chickens can lay up to an egg a day, so treat yourself to a helping of protein to start your day. These eggs are so much of a higher quality egg than you are getting from the non-organic eggs at the grocery store. Those eggs are often in a building locked up in a pen or cage in very close quarters with hundreds, sometimes thousands of eggs. The chance of salmonella is highly increased, and the quality of the egg is lower due to an out of shape chicken, and feed that is of lower quality nutritional value than what chickens normally eat.

The chicken provides many uses to us. The reason many societies really value what they provide. I’m actually a chicken owner myself, and believe there are so many uses they are providing, it really has been an improvement in my quality of life. This website is always writing up interesting articles, and if you are looking for some more ideas, surf around. I will be answering your chicken questions below if you have any.

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Dumpster Diving: Food for you plate, food for your plants

Producing food for oneself takes a considerable amount of time, planning, and patience. Mother nature possesses the ability to take out even the most tediously planned out food forest in the swipe of a single storm. But if there is one thing the urban environment unconditionally guarantees us, it is waste. Businesses and households provide us with an abundance that even the most well fed hunter-gatherers would have a hard time conceiving. The possibilities to repurpose this waste are just as varied as the niche consumer markets that modern corporations appeal to. Whether you have an established forest plot or you’re just starting out, exploring your local dumpsters and waste bins after hours is a good habit to get in to. I have been dumpstering locally for a few months on a very casual basis, and every time I seem to come back home with more than I know what to deal with. As I write this, I have a second fridge full of pineapples and mushrooms from over a week ago, while my first fridge is full of oranges, apples and strawberries I’m struggling to eat before they develop mold. Here are a few ideas I have come up with in regards to food waste, along with a couple I’m already practicing:

Animal Feed. Chances are, much of the food you find will still be edible for human consumption. But if you are struggling with feed costs and lack the space or ability to raise your own feed, a large supermarket can often supplement food for the animals in your system. Grocery stores have a very small tolerance for imperfections in their product, and fresh produce is no exception. I frequently encounter large piles of leafy greens like lettuce and cauliflower, which will be an excellent meal for my chickens once they come of age this summer. You may also come across disused shopping carts behind supermarkets and thrift stores, which are great tools to have when transporting large amounts of organic material around. I also imagine they serve as great conversation starters for your neighbors.

Compost. Technically, compost could be a byproduct of your dumpstering efforts if you use manure from your animals that were fed pilfered greens. Or, in my case, you end up with so much food that some of it is bound to go bad before you get a chance to use it. Case in point, the red wrigglers in my vermiculture system have spent just over a month in the bin underneath my stairs, and have already turned a 5 pound pile of grapes into a compact layer. This is in addition to the food scraps that have been coming from my kitchen, all of which are now underneath another layer of bedding and about 9 cups of overripe blueberries. Worried about overwhelming them, I place the rest of the food waste in a compost bin outdoors. If you need to jump start your compost pile, or are considering a large scale vermiculture system, food waste may be the solution.

Personal diet. Many people would consider this taboo, how can trash possibly be safe to eat? Not to mention the cleanliness of the dumpster to begin with, say the naysayers. From my experience, I find the condition of the dumpster to closely resemble the condition of the establishment it belongs to. McDonald’s is relatively greasy even on the inside of the restaurant, just step behind the counter and the floors become similar to a slip-and-slide if you’re wearing the wrong shoes; I would never dig through a fast-food dumpster. But the bin behind a supermarket is hardly much worse then the shelves they stock. What I find especially disappointing is the amount of packaged food that gets thrown out. I’m talking about bags of apple slices, plastic wrapped pears, peppers and zucchini, and entire vines worth of grapes that have travelled across the country and from around the world just to be thrown out. Producers go through all the extra effort and resources to add a layer of plastic to temporarily preserve the food, only to have it end up in a landfill for eternity.

Freegan: a person who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods.

Freegan: a person who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods.

Acquiring all this food has been a great way for me to practice my baking skills. Even in the middle of a harsh Midwestern winter, I can create breads, muffins, jams and wines from fruits that couldn’t even grow here during the summer.

Feeding others. In my opinion, this is perhaps one of the most rewarding uses for dumpstered food. This will take at least a small group of coordinated people, and living in a more rural environment has it made it more difficult to organize this personally. But it is a great way to introduce people to concepts they wouldn’t otherwise know about, while exposing the scale of food waste in our society. One group you may have heard of from time to time is Food Not Bombs. Food Not Bombs is a collection of autonomous, independent worldwide chapters that repurposes food waste into free vegan meals for the public. Unlike a traditional charity or soup kitchen, Food Not Bombs empowers marginalized individuals by giving them the ability to cook and serve alongside organizers. You can visit foodnotbombs.net to find an existing chapter or for information on starting a chapter yourself.

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Tips. Whatever use you find for the food in the trash, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Scout the location during the daytime. This will help you determine whether or not there are locks, compactors or other obstacles before you go out at night, and minimize the amount of time spent exploring in the dark (unless that’s the part you enjoy the most).

Bring a headlamp, a pair of gloves, and a pocket knife. For me, regular flashlights always end up becoming part of the trash. It’s too easy to drop it when your trying to fish out a bag of oranges wedged underneath a pile of milk cartons. The knife and gloves are helpful for cutting through and handling plastic bags.

Avoid meat products. This isn’t just because I’m vegetarian. Unlike vegetables, it doesn’t take long for raw meat to harbor dangerous bacteria when left outside.

The ‘burbs are bountiful. If you can, take a car or bus out into the suburbs. There are typically more supermarkets per capita, and their security measures are more lax than in the inner city. The same grocery store that locks their bins behind locked doors in the city may have an unlocked dumpster reserved specifically for organic waste in the outer rings. Competition from other divers is almost non-existent, and you won’t provoke suspicion as much as you would while wandering around a city alley that is shared with a residential neighborhood.

Have fun, be safe. One of my favorite parts of dumpster diving is just about getting up at night. Unfortunately, some business owners don’t share this sentiment. Bleached food isn’t unheard of, but you can avoid this becoming a problem by regularly cleaning up after yourself and leaving the dumpster in the same condition as you found it. Know your rights for confronting the police, and be aware of your surroundings. If you prefer, you can find dumpster diving communities on social media sites like Facebook and Reddit to share tips and post your nightly haul.

Permaculture is all about interacting with our environment in a positive and responsible manner. Where hunter-gatherers once roamed the fields and forests searching for edibles, the urban dweller is confronted with a bounty of food and tools if they simply start searching. If our goal is to circumvent modern agriculture and lessen it’s destructive impact on the environment, why not take advantage of the wasteful byproduct it produces?

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Guest Introduction

Hello readers, my name is Alex and I intend on posting here occasionally to talk about permaculture and self reliance. A little about myself, I currently live in central Minnesota on a farmstead that my father has owned for quite some time. With his consent, I’m planning the establishment of an edible food forest and the creation of sheet mulched garden beds. I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors here lately, studying the land and getting the feel of the layout and what I have to work with. The 12 acre property is a mixture of woodlot, sod yard, wild grasses and a portion of field that is rented out to a local farmer and aggressively tilled year after year for the sole production of corn or soybeans (I’m working on changing that.) Just this morning, while watching the sunrise on top of an old boxcar that sits out back, a owl came across the meadow flying straight towards me, tactfully veering left before I had a chance to realize how close I was to a face full of feathers.

As you might be able to tell, my living situation greatly contrasts with the nearby urban metropolis of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Rather, I live in the ultimate symbol of American waste, the exurbs. Cheaper and more isolated than the suburbs, the exurbs take what was once mainly rural agricultural land and turn it into large, sprawling neighborhoods that spread across the countryside. The property I live on is now just a relic of that former past, and contains a run down barn, silo, corn crib and grainery that I’m fixing up. But just down the street from me is a housing development that was built in the mid-2000’s. The developers took a large farm field, paved some roads through it including several cul-de-sacs that dead end in the adjacent forest and began building spec houses. They called it “Scenic Hills,” and placed a large granite monument at the entrance with the name, despite the fact that there almost no hills to be found for miles in any direction. That pretty much sums up the nature of the all housing developments around here.

 

That being said, any posts I make here will strictly pertain to an urban audience. I don’t believe societal transformation can be accomplished with a smattering of isolated, rural enclaves, and I have much respect to those who are in the thick of it and trying to be self-reliant in the city. I consider myself lucky to for the opportunity to practice permaculture on such a large plot of land, and will try my hardest to spread and distribute useful knowledge and ideas through my experiences. You can read more about my projects on the blog I recently started, and I look forward to posting here.

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Guest Bloggers Wanted.

Here is the deal. I love this website. I worked really hard to get it where it is, and I would like to see it go to another level.

The problem is, I just don’t have the time to write for it, search videos or to do my podcast…for example I have three that just need edited and posted, and they have been like that for 2 months.

So here is how I want to solve the problem.

I want other writers to take it over. The only rule for the site is all content must be Permaculture, homesteading, urban agriculture and local food related.

The same goes for links. You can back link your own material, you can link to any material that is related to the subject of this website. Anyone who posts non related material will be deleted without comment or appeal. So as a matter of policy if you think it might not be related, shoot me a message and ask.

So if you would like to be one of the people who takes this site to the next level, fill out the form and I will get you set up forthwith.

In the message box put your preferred username, password and the name you want displayed when you post.
* indicates required field

Posted in Aquaponics, Beekeeping, Chickens, Co op, community garden, community resilience, Community Supported Agriculture, Composting, container, Dairy, design principles, DIY, DIYFS articles, ducks, food forest, Food Security, Fungus, Garden, Goats, greenhouse, hanging garden, homesteading, Housing, Huglekulture, hydroponics, keyhole, keyhole, Livestock, News and politics, no till garden, Organic, Pasture Rotation, Perennial Staple Crops, Permaculture, pest control, Pigs, rabbits, rain garden, raised bed, Recycle/repurpose, Soil Improvement, tower garden, Urban Gardens, Vermicompost, vertical garden, Water management, worms | Comments Off

Indianapolis Permies- Seed swap & meet and greet at the Winter farmers market Sat 12/12/15 from 10 am to ???

Like Permaculture? Not sure if you do or not and just curious?

Want to learn more about sustainability?

Live in or around Indianapolis?

Have some seeds you want to swap?

Do you need to ask a really in depth question of an experienced designer (or six or seven of them)?

If any of those questions is a yes then swing by the Indy Winter Farmers Market at 202 E market street, and get to know some of the people involved in Permaculture in the central Indiana area.

Torrie Rae has asked that folks RSVP for some secret she has planned, so either hit her up in this thread or send her an email at shining.entity@gmail.com.

Hope to see you all there.

 

 

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The Root of Urban Permaculture

As I begin todays article, many of you are going to start exclaiming about how this isn’t about Permaculture. The reason for this is that I am not writing about herb spirals, swales, water storage, urban gardens (well I will mention them briefly, I just can’t help myself) or most of the other topics that we normally preach and teach about.

No, today I am going to talk about attitudes, especially those of the youth culture; and what the older generations have to show/talk to them about in order for this idea of a Permanent Culture to mean anything.

This article came to me while I was trolling around facebook and I saw a post from a friend of mine that said, “The difference between this generation and ours is that THIS generation is so focused on BEING HOOD that they don’t understand the goal is to GET OUT THE HOOD. It’s our duty as MEN to teach them”.

I agree with this sentiment for the most part, but an early reply to it gave an even better concept. “I wish I had time to elaborate on this fam….but simply put….its NOT for us to GET OUT THE HOOD!!! ITS FOR US TO BUILD IT UP AGAIN!!! ”

There is nothing more meaningful in Urban Permaculture that can be expressed in my humble opinion. To me this one statement is what it is all about. Taking the environment we have been born into, and returning it to the glory it once held.

I won’t bore you with the whole conversation that followed, but essentially the gentlemen discussing this recognized the way that gentrification is benefitting people outside of the communities that are being reborn, instead of the people who have lived there through the bad years. They see that people need to become more self sufficient, and less dependent on those who would build wealth on their very sweat. They see the need to pass on the idea to the next generation that the lesson that being “hood” is not a badge of honor, but that surviving the hood and elevating oneself above it is. The most heartening part was when they started questioning whether they were doing enough to elevate those behind them as they have done to elevate themselves.

That is the root of Urban Permaculture. Rebuilding our society by using local resources and relying on our neighbors and being available for our neighbors to rely on us. Everything else we talk about; from urban gardens to chemical free living to workshops to water conservation and waste management are just concepts and tools that will help us get there.

We can make our cities more resilient and sustainable that are places of abundance and equity. We just have to remember that WE have to do it and we have to teach the generation behind us about it too. No one else will for us.

Have a great day and go grow something.

 

Posted in community resilience, design principles, DIY, DIYFS articles, Food Security, Housing, News and politics, Permaculture, Urban Gardens | Comments Off

A couple of Rough Types II

Geoff Lawton and David Spicer discuss large scale Permaculture design at Zaytuna Farm.

Permaculture News

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A Permaculture Talk with Steve Jones

Steve Jones is UK Permie whose bailiwick has been intentional community.

This talk is of a much broader spectrum though and should be enjoyed by many.

 

Sector 39

Posted in community garden, community resilience, design principles, Food Security, homesteading, Housing, News and politics, Organic, Permaculture, Recycle/repurpose, Soil Improvement, Urban Gardens | Comments Off

The trompe moves water, compresses air and apparantly removes iron from water, all without electricity.

The first video is specifically about how a Trompe is being used to remove iron from water and to clean the river without external power.  The second is a more thorough explanation about this practically forgotten 16th century technology.

We can design systems that do positive things without wasting resources. All we have to do is learn and implement.

Posted in Aquaponics, design principles, DIY, Energy, hydroponics, News and politics, Water management | Comments Off

A Backyard Permaculture Tour

This is one of my favorite types of posts to make. A tour of an ongoing backyard Permaculture garden. Rick Larson is located in zone 5 (Wisconsin) and is working a good sized yard. You can see from the video that he has a wide variety of food growing, all with sustainable methods. It doesn’t get more local than you backyard. Enjoy the tour.


Rick Larson

Posted in community resilience, design principles, DIY, Food Security, Garden, hanging garden, homesteading, no till garden, Organic, Pasture Rotation, Permaculture, raised bed, Soil Improvement, Urban Gardens, vertical garden | Comments Off

Water Is Life with Sepp Holzer and Tamera Community

One cannot emphasize enough the importance of water to all life. When we are designing to improve landscape there is no other factor that matches the need to hydrate the site. This video is a very informative piece on how to build natural water retention systems and provides an example of what can be done in even extremely arid areas.

Video from The Permaculture Zone

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Nature outrunning science when it comes to solving environmental problems.

Anyone who starts studying nature starts out freaking out about what great environmental damage we are doing to the planet, and the more they learn the more they realize that this planet is incredibly resilient and will survive long after humans have ceased to be anything more than the molecular stardust we started out as.

Then the second wave freak out begins when we realize that the damage we are doing will be survived by the planet, but not by us or many other creatures….unless of course we come up with a fix.

As all Permaculturists know, the best designs start by observing nature. This includes designs to fix our previous errors. This pattern was reinforced again on September 29, 2015 when Stanford News published this report, which describes a study that found that the common meal worm, not only can survive by eating Styrofoam…but biodegrades it the equivalent of what hundreds of years in a landfill would, IN JUST  24 HOURS!

Don’t misunderstand this statement…Styrofoam still sucks in the environment, but now we have a natural path to recycling it. Its just a matter of time before some enterprising young person starts recycling urban Styrofoam to feed meal worms that feed his chickens whose eggs tend to go in a Styrofoam (or cardboard which is also biodegradable by meal worms and beetles) and closes this waste loop forever.

The point of this little article is just what the title alludes to. The answers to all of our problems are in nature. This planet has been developing for billions of years. While I am sure we are throwing some new problems at it, natural selection and adaptation are highly efficient means of solving them; and quite frankly most of the problems we are creating are only problems because they fly in the face of natural processes to begin with.

I do feel the need to mention that this article is not meant in any way shape or form to discredit modern science. Scientific method is not the problem. People who want to apply technology before they have a reasonably good idea what will come of it are. Science discovered this natural solution just like it created the problem…and it sometimes solves problems that were created outside of its gates.

At any rate…learn something new today and share it. Oh and Grow something!

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Advanced Permaculture Design Course with Peter Bane in Akron, Ohio.

So I haven’t, been as active on here as I would like of late….and that will be changing soon. I fully intend to get back on the podcast and share all the great info I find…but I have a few more things to do so that my life is structured so that I can devote the time that this project deserves.

That said, the reason I am breaking my hiatus to post is that Peter Bane is putting on a 6 day Advanced Permaculture Design Course in Akron, Ohio from November 8th through the 13th.

So, if you have taken your PDC and would like to take your design skills to the next level…I would highly suggest taking this opportunity.

Here is a link to Permaculture Activist where you will find the details about this and other courses they offer.

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Inspiration and a call for help from the “Urban Farming Guys”

A few short years ago, when I was first getting really interested in Permaculture and all the great changes our culture and society could experience just by people learning to provide for their own needs…especially food; I ran across a youtube video and website by The Urban Farming Guys.

At that time it was a small group of people with a couple of houses and lots they had bought in an severely blighted area of Kansas City growing some gardens and raising fish in aquaponics systems. But they were making a difference. When I saw the work they were doing, and what they had already accomplished; I knew my work was going to focus on what we can do in the urban environment. The level of cultural healing, the urban renewal, the building of local economy…all by educating and empowering an at risk community to provide for themselves… suffice it to say that these guys have provided a roadmap to rebuilding the most damaged parts of our cities.

Fast forward to now. They had made any major press releases in the last couple of years. I honestly assumed that they had burned out like so many other of these type projects…or lost through some of the other pitfalls that not for profits fall into.

And then I ran across this video.

It turns out, they have just been quietly doing their work, continuing to have a huge impacts in this neighborhood. Now they want to take it to the next level and put a “maker space” into that community and continue its growth spiral.

So check out the video. If you can donate. If you can’t, get inspired about what can be accomplished.

Posted in Aquaponics, Co op, community garden, community resilience, Composting, DIY, Food Security, Garden, Housing, Organic, Permaculture, Recycle/repurpose, Urban Gardens | Comments Off

Perennial Staple Crops with Eric Toensmeier


(Eric Toensmeier)

One of the common barbs tossed at Permaculture is a lack of staple crops. Well once again Eric Toensmeier has stepped up to provide a lot of good research and information of perennial plants that can fulfill this niche. Check it out and get educated.

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