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After reading some of these replies , I think I am one of the lucky ones. I live about 4 km out of a small town ( a pub and a post office/ general store ). I have 10 acres on which I have a few old ewes for breeding , a dam full of yabbies , fruit trees , a bit of a veggie garden. The missus has her girls ( chooks) . One pen is for eggs , two other pens are for some posh breeds she is breeding. Another pen is for the excess roosters that end up in the freezer. This year I got a 150% drop with the ewes , that is 15 lambs out of 10 ewes. Being a butcher by trade some of those lambs will join the roosters in the freezer , the rest will be sold to mates. There are even a few bunnies that were stupid enough to let me get close with a slug gun. At the moment I am playing around with solar. I had a couple of old jump packs laying around , so I pulled out the batteries and charge controller and hooked them up to a 10 watt solar panel that I bought for $20 . It is just enough to charge two iPods , two phones and an iPad. I just picked up a 40 watt panel for $60 so I will see how that goes.
we are getting a lot of cattle lice in the area with it being dry and it was time for drenching this morning. Its a full family job and as it was and i had two jump the wire yards and end up in the house paddock. After a lot of chasing and even more swearing two missed out.
I will get them whan i get back from SA. On a small farm its important to have quiet cattle and if you have any nutcases get rid of them quick, they cause a lot of trouble with the rest.
Bill Mollisons books are not to bad. "Ferment and Human Nutrition" I found interesting too, although not really related to permaculture. You may find that the ideas do not translate readily into some areas, or require modification. Weed control can be difficult in permaculture setups too.
I have had a practical book for years. The author is Masanoku Fukuoka. He was a genetic scientist in Japan back in the 1950's. He turned his back on the sciences and began to return to nature. His story is his book called "the One Straw Revolution". The practical book is " The Natural Way of Farming. The theory and practice of green philosophy". It is technical, but reading the first book is aspiring. The fellow is longed died, in the 1950's when petro-chemicals and fertilizers were making an impact, he was going in the opposite direction.
Yes I have done the permaculture course it is very good.
I have had limited success with it as I am still trying to find out local climate issues. I say limited only as in all year round event success but slowly improving. But the system works even if only part it is good common sense designing and planting. Companion planting (include weeds), micro environment , establishment plans (include weeds). permaculture is just not plants but everything from fence placement , gardens ,wind breaks, animals, recycling and so on and so on.
I had permaculture one (now out of print but redone as intro to permaculture) and two, they were awesome books, and from memory were based on either Tasmania or New Zealand climates so was closer to our neck of the woods than the North American stuff. Maybe someone who still has them can set that straight. A friend borrowed mine and never returned them...
I'm very interested in companion planting (I use marigolds, garlic, etc here) as I don't have a large enough block for a true permaculture setup so pick and choose little bits to help out.
Hi Just on Permaculture I thought I would list a few books that I used when doing my course which I done prior to the now tafe recognised ones run by the original students and authors.
Permaculture: A designer's Manual Bill Mollison
Introduction to Permaculture: Bill Mollison
Earth user's guide to Permaculture: Rosemary Morrow
Starting out with herbs: Margaret Roberts
Herbs their Cultivation and Usage: John and Rosemary Hemphill
Growing from Seed: Margaret Hanks
Organic Gardening: Peter Bennett
Organic Vegetable Gardening: Annette McFarlane
The Gaia Book of Organic Gardening: Patrick Holden
Companion Planting: Richard Bird
Secrets & tips from Yesterdays Gardeners: Readers Digest
The Australian Weekend Gardener; ABC
Trees for fruit and Foliage: Macoboy
The Handbook of Australian flowers for the garden and Home: Denise Greig
Attracting Birds to your Garden in Australia: John Dengate
Companion Planting in Australia: Judith Collins
The Rodale Book Of Composting
Grasses of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve and surrounding Regions
Australian Native Plants. Wrigley & Fagg
Natural Cattle care: Colby
Mangroves to mountains
Seed collecting and gathering
The list can be and is continually growing still But I include all My Bushcraft books on medicines , plant uses food and so on . Also include any basic DYI manuals, specific animal care that you raise. But as you can see Permaculture does encompass many different facets it is just not planting plants. Alternative energy is another factor. I will say I found it expensive to get all the base work done but it does become self sufficient lowering cost even down to minimal costs depending how quick it takes of and to what extent you take it too.
Only a few of the books listed were strongly suggested for the course most of the others were my choice into the areas that I wanted to deal with. Many worthy magazines are out as well. And Permaculture can be successful on small urban land through to many many acres
Self Sufficiency is the end goal and at a young age I have quite some time left before I get there.
We have an aquaponic greenhouse currently producing food with 200 silver perch powering it, many potatoes planted in reclaimed pallet wicking beds,
a few bathtub worm farms out the back creating castings and a chicken coop that is being finished this weekend to house 12 hens.
There are 18 citrus trees and a few avocados, they're quite small but most are covered in flowers, should have fruit in no time at all.
Plans in the future are for more growing systems and a whole lot more food production.
We're semi-rural on 3 acres, and It is more than enough. I wouldn't be able to handle anymore.... I can relate to those saying that country life Is harder than you first think. We were a city born and bread couple, with thoughts of country grandeur... We moved out here and absolutely LOVE it. But have also discovered there really is a lot of work involved, and it will take years to get well acquainted with our land. We are in WA, the soil in this area is terrible. natives thrive like mad, but vegetables punish you for planting them. We've hit a lot of "road blocks" in our road to self sufficiency but its all trial and error, were learning as we go. We also never imagined we would be sharing our property with so many fascinating creatures! Frogs, lizards of many varietys, snakes, mice (grrr), black Galahs, blue wrens and heaps of other birds, the occasional Ibis, goldfish, our dogs etc. we love it! Well, maybe not the snakes and mice haha
We have various fruit trees. Banana, orange, lemon, peacherine (yeh haven't seen the fruit on That one yet lol), Loquat. We have a few olive trees and pecans. Currently I'm (trying) growing capsicums, leeks, cos and butter crunch lettuce, corn, carrots and baby spinach. We have parsley and chives growing well now (haha whoop de do). It takes a lot of working the soil to grow anything here. Last year We managed to grow some potatoes, strawberries, carrots with sexy cancan legs, beans and tomatoes. Chillies tend to be very forgiving. Locals have told us its almost pointless trying to grow in the soil and that we should use raised garden beds which Intend on doing next year while I keep working in our soil. Another local said it takes about 8 years of TLC before the soil here cooperates. It's been 5 years for us and it is improving so I think he was right. We have a giant compost we've set up which has been great. We have a local friend who is hugely into permaculture and I'm beginning to learn from her.
We had 12 chooks a few yea back but they got stick fast flea, which was impossible to remove. We would have had to treat them twice a year, along with our dogs. The cost and time of this task meant the chills were costing us more than what they were giving us in eggs. So we had to give them away (fleas and all lol) I really miss them they were such a pleasure. And my daughter loved the daily egg collecting routine too.
We have massive water tank we invested in 2 yrs ago. It's fantastic. Although we do have scheme water here and septics, we use the rainwater for all our gardening and drink it after boiling it. Better than tap water. We have a wood fireplace in our main living area and that thing goes every winter evening. We just use dead wood from the property or whatever we Can get free from others. Our power goes out here alot so we have a solar cooker on standby which is fun to use. I make most of our food from scratch. It's rare for us to eat anything processed. We haven't ventured into livestock, and were not In a hurry to do so. Maybe when the kids are a little older and can help and enjoy it.
I menu plan very carefully and try to be as frugal as possible in any area I can think of. With the electricity bills going crazy high it's been a blow to the ribs. Were looking into going solar though the layout is expensive it may be worth it now. One skill I am useless at is sewing. Try as I might I can't get further than taking up pants and making bean bag squares for the kids. Just not my area lol. Would love to eventually clothe the family though.
What a dream to have hubby home and being completely self sufficient, working the land. But one that sadly won't come to pass for various reasons. But the lifestyle we currently live enables me to be at home full time with the children (we homeschool) and also enables my hubby to have three days off a week, so Really, can't ask for much better than that!
We have 100,000 litres (90,000 and 10,000 litre fire reserve) of rainwater and a really good bore water supply, the bore water I use for all garden watering, it has a high iron content and leaves rust stains on concrete but the plants haven't seemed to care the slightest.
I live in a very high rainfall area, that being said it's been rain free for a few months now and the water tank level is quite low. Unfortunately we don't have a greywater system and are just running an enviro-cycle septic system with a leach field out back.
It's more of the cost benefit of grid redundancy that pushes me to become self-sufficient. I doubt I'll ever be reduced to a neolithic state of self sufficiency but sure with the right food crops, tools and infrastructure set in place I'll be able to get close while retaining a high quality of living.