Suburban “farm” tour May 18th

Suburban “farm” tour. Come out and see what is possible on 0.2 acres of suburbia. We have ducks, chickens, 5000 gal outdoor aquaponics, 30 gallon indoor system, fruit trees, berry patches, edible landscaping, rabbits, grapes composting, vermicomposting, vertical gardening, rain harvesting, and medicinal herbs. The goats won’t be on property yet, but we will discuss different aspect of back yard goats as well.

In addition to covering all of the above and lessons learned through

We will cover how to use an A-Frame level for finding contours on your property as well as how to make an A-frame level.

Anti-chicken tractors

Where to find materials for cheap or free

We will talk and show different aspects of permaculture we are practicing.

Talk about the many ways to use a aquarium air pump to benefit your property.

Making and using compost tea

Possibly have a plant exchange as well (please if attending put what you will bring in the comments so others may benefit/trade)

Seem like a lot? We are only using about 40% of our 0.2 acres.

This is our home, and please respect we do not let the public in our home, so no public restrooms are available. You may also park in the drive as we will have moved our vehicles to accommodate you.

We can/do accept PayPal/credit debit cards. However cannot do both cash and electronic payments on the Meet-up space. Our PayPal ID is wolfbeachfarms@gmail.com and we use both Square and Paypal Credit/debit payments. Space is limited.

Start time is 1pm. If you need to make payments or otherwise, please show up a few minutes early. Estimated end time is 4pm

RSVP required. Please use this site.

 

Food shortages and prices may make you rethink homesteading

Many factors in both the US and overseas are beginning to affect food process. Food prices have steadily increased over the years yet there is more “food” being produced. When I say “food” not all of the food being produced is either consumable by humans or eaten here in the US.

Here in the Midwest and other locations the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) has taken its toll on pork farms. It is estimated that 10% of the pork production has been removed due to the illness. Removed defined as being either killed from the virus or killed to prevent further spread of the illness. Once a Confined Animal Feed Operation (CAFO) has been infected it spreads extremely fast. As a result pork and my beloved bacon prices will be increasing. Pork prices were already on the rise due to increased feed costs.

PEDV News

Across the globe droughts in some areas and flooding in others has played havoc with grain prices. The poor crop production is not only here but UK, Russia, Australia, and China.

Wheat Drought

Crops US

I know several larger scale farmers or people working the farms here in the US. Weather plays a big part on when you can plant, when you can harvest. Some days they are in the fields 20 hours a day or on a rotation to keep the equipment running 24 hrs due to the weather window. The fields are too wet to get machinery out, or too much wind, or the ground is ground still frozen. This winter did not help many I know.

The hard winter for many here in the US has also hit the tropical crops such as avocados, oranges, lemons and limes. Florida was hit hard by colder than normal temperatures and as a result the orange crops will be affected. For example the number of dropped fruit has increased due to the colder than normal winter, but another problem is facing Florida. A virus spread by an insect is hitting the citrus production hard.
Citrus Production by State

Citrus Virus

California is in a world all its own. While it once was the breadbasket of America this year it may be the cause of food price increases. The drought, and lack of snowfall in the mountains (supplies much of the water to the growing valley) has caused some municipalities to turn off the water to orchards and farmland. The drought is not only impacting the fruits and vegetables but also beef, and dairy. California once a major exporter of dairy products to the rest of the world, many ranchers are now sending in the herds for slaughter because it is simply too costly to feed them during the drought.

California

The food issues are also affecting alcohol production. Hard cider breweries are having a harder time keeping up with demand. Due to lack of heirloom verities and increased demand Cider production may feel the hit as well.

Cider

When you add in the political tensions between the US and other countries where agriculture is a significant export you are looking at all around food increases not only here in the US but across the world. Then add to that the continual erosion of the US dollar, the mismanagement by our government of our debt, and our problematic monetary system and we are looking at massive price increases over the next couple of years.

What does all this gloom and doom about food prices, poor yields, and droughts have to do with permaculture? EVERYTHING! These problems go to show that our current food production system is unsustainable and this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can reduce your food bills and dependency on what is placed in front of you claiming to be edible. Grow your own. You can do this even if you have only an apartment and now windows. Stop growing lawns and treating with mass amounts of chemicals and fertilizers so that you have a “green carpet”. You are doing more harm than good. What does green carpet do for you? Absolutely nothing. Even if you were growing it to feed to animals, you have contaminated it to the point it is toxic to keep out weeds and make sure it stays green. Permaculture is a method to not only produce for your family but can also be a supplemental income source.

This year our family has made the biggest leap into food production expansion than we ever have before, due mainly to what we see happening here in the US and the world. We are getting dairy goats because we cannot afford to pay $6-8 per gallon of milk that we estimate will be coming in the near future. We have been tracking prices of the food we purchase, and a 5lb bag of cheese went from $8.99 2 years ago to $15.99 recently. If prices like this continue we cannot afford to still eat like we have and cook from scratch. Having dairy goats, eliminates the need to purchase, cheeses (we like many different kinds cheddar, cottage cheese, hard cheese, cheese sticks, ricotta etc), butter, yogurts, milk, sour cream, and ice-cream. Add to that the ability to use the goat milk to make soaps and lotions and that is a huge reduction. We can now control what goes into each of these products and we are independent of the price increases. We are adding amaranth to our crops to reduce grain needs. We have expanded from our own yard, to using two other growing spaces so that we will be able to have an abundance.

Price Basket

USDA food prices over the years

When you look at the prices week to week it may only go up a few pennies. Not enough for many to recognize. But when you start looking over the years there are some massive differences. I am in my mid 30’s and I can remember gas under $1.00/gal, bread under $1.00/loaf and being in amazement when a grocery cart full of food was less than $100.00, and to go over $100 meant that we were having a big party, or cookout. Today the same cart will run $3-400. While we only shop every 2-3 months we still only spend around $250 for a family of 6. Why, because we cook from scratch, grow and make much of our own food. We want to see our grocery bill be less than $100 every 3 months if possible. This is NOT unreasonable if you eat seasonally, cook from scratch, and produce much of your own food? I have heard every excuse you are coming up with, because I have said them myself. “I don’t have time, I don’t know how, it takes too long, etc, etc.”. This is utter BS. Turn the TV off, get off the couch, stop going out to eat so much, and eat real food vs. junk that is pre-made out of a box. I was exactly there a few years ago and can tell you it can be done. It isn’t overnight, it is one step at a time, and it can only lead to good things.

I wanted to say thank you to my friend “Cedar” from Down to the Roots magazine and “Cedar News Service” (inside Joke for the TSP audience) who highlights all the issues relating to food prices and shortages. Without her, I would be unaware of all that is going on outside my small world.

New way to save! Refer a friend

Due to the majority of people utilizing the first 30 min free consulting time and NOT providing ANY feedback, that offering for the free consulting has been eliminated. Instead we are now offering a way to save for you and your friends.

The initial first 30 min of consulting time is at ½ price rather than the free as it was previously.

Past and current clients – When you refer a friend who books time based on your referral both they and you get 1 hr at ½ price. $50 savings! You get an additional 1 hr at $25 and the friend gets their 1st hour for $25. This is good for future clients as well. Thinking about booking, do so and use the 30 min price break. Then refer someone who you think can benefit for what I have to offer.

What do you get in 1hr? A lot. Don’t take my word for it.

“We are just so overwhelmed with information. There is just so much to process. We never thought that much was possible with our property. You have definitely given us so much to think about.”

MJ – Indianapolis

That was after only 1 hr walking the property with the owners.

“I would have never thought that was possible on my property”

CW – Indiana

Property was almost 100% shaded with trees.

“We never thought we could have our property earning money FOR us living in a suburban neighborhood”

MW – Indianapolis

“We didn’t think of that we could do as much with our 0.2 acre lot, and it really didn’t cost us much out of pocket with the ideas you gave us”

NF – Greenwood.

The Anti-Chicken Tractor

Most people who raise chickens are familiar with the chicken tractor. If you are not it is a mobile coop that allows the chickens to get fresh grass and other greens, exposure to other parts of your property, while remaining safe from predators and remaining contained. We have a six foot privacy fence and pretty much let the birds roam free. That is until they destroyed our gardens. So we put up a small poultry netting fence around our gardens. That worked for a while until the birds started eating the grass in the yard. So we seeded with clover, alfalfa, and grasses. But noting ever came up. We seeded again. Same thing, nothing. It wasn’t until I noticed one day the chickens were eating both seeds and new sprouts. So I came up with the Anti-chicken tractor. At the time we didn’t have money for paddock shift fencing to allow one area to be seeded. I did have some leftover chicken wire, and some misc. boards. It is basically a box with chicken wire around it. This is version 2.0. Version 1.0 was just wire with no sides. The Chickens discovered they could land on the top and push it down far though to get to the good stuff. Boom! Now I can seed a small area and allow the plants to take root and establish before the ravenous hoard get to them. It is amusing that there is no foliage around the inner edge where they can get their heads and beaks into it. The anti-chicken tractor also serves as a mobile rabbit tractor. When the rabbits need to be out for one reason or another we can put them on the lawn and mow it down. We USED to be able to put them in the front yard until our neighbors started spraying and the drift went into our space as well.

another anti-chicken tractor
another anti-chicken tractor
Anti-chicken tractor
Anti-chicken tractor
2 weeks using anti-chicken tractor
2 weeks using anti-chicken tractor

New podcast available – Permaculture

We just published our 3rd podcast. It is available on our 2 Midwest Guys site. It should be available on ITunes shortly. This podcast is a two part series on permaculture here in the Midwest. The more podcasts we do the better we feel they are starting to sound, and the easier they are to produce. This is an introduction to permaculture but you may pick up on a few things as we talk about not only permaculture but how we are applying it.

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Cold Hardy Bamboo

Recently we took a trip down to Southern IN to check out a bamboo farm. I have been looking for local sources of bamboo for referral in permaculture designs, and for general gardening purposes.  We found a great connection. Tim runs his bamboo farm, and sells the cut bamboo and live bamboo to help feed and take care of the exotic leopards he is rescuing. I learned something new, that bamboo is actually a type of grass. Lets see you try and mow this stuff!

Here is a picture of the bamboo we got along with Dustin my co-hose from 2 Midwest Guys, and Tim the owner in front of a bamboo grove we were digging from. I am 6′ call and this bamboo is roughly 20-22 feet tall (based on what we dug).

Bamboo Grove

This was just one of the many varieties Tim had on the property. This particular stand was known as Incense Bamboo Phyllostachys atrovaginata . It can get up to 30+ feet tall and 2 3/4 Inches in diameter. This particular grove we were in front of was only 5 years old and we could only get a portion of it in the picture. Tim explained that the bamboo will grow 2-3 feet per year until it starts to max out around 25 feet then slows down on growth each year.

Tim had some timber quality bamboo as well. Here is a picture of Kevin from Values Driven realty holding one of the cut shoots Tim had handy. This type of bamboo is used in construction, and is very solid. Some varieties of timber bamboo is stronger than steel and 1/4 the weight. In more tropical climates where the timber variety thrive they make buildings, scaffolding, and even bridges able to support 16 tons, out of it.

IMG_1037 IMG_1039

Bamboo doesn’t really have many pests or diseases here in the US. It can spread but with proper management it can be contained.

If you are looking for a fast growing privacy fence, wind row, dust barrier bamboo might be the trick. It is also good for erosion control, shade tolerant, evergreen, and these varieties are cold hardy. You can eat it, use it as building materials, vegetable garden poles, fishing poles, trellis, literally 1000 uses for it.

I had originally intended to use it as a living privacy fence. By chance I took some that I had growing at my suburban home up to feed to goats at the Global Soaps facility. The goats ate it like it was candy. So, now we have a new source of feed for our oats we hope to get soon. The less feed and hay I have to buy the better. So I now have a new permaculture plant to add to my grab bag of tools. Bamboo has many uses, and as such is acceptable for our homestead.

The university of KY put out a great publication about bamboo.

bamboo

I am taking another trip down to see Tim and will be bringing my trailer to purchase more clumps. Tim doesn’t have a website, and only accepts cash. If you are interested in getting some of you own bamboo, and are relatively local (Indiana)  please let me know, and hopefully we can work something out. I DO accept credit cards.  I hope to go within 2 weeks of this posting because I wanted to get the bamboo before it starts sending out new shoots and runners with the warmer weather.

Depending on order size and variety it will be $40-70 per clump. These are 3-4 year old plants, 15-25 feet tall with about a 1-2′ root ball on the bottom. They will be available on Indy Southside or could be delivered for an additional fee. The root balls are 50-200 lbs depending on how many shoots are in a bundle.  If you are planting for a privacy fence, 6-10 foot spacing recommended for faster fence, wider if speed is not an issue. If you are wanting some help incorporating bamboo into your landscape contact us!

Aquaponic pictures

Here are some pictures from our current aquaponic configurations. The greenhouse system has been 60% scrapped.  Once redesigned I hope to make into a Chinampa similar to the pic below.

Chinampa

Current designs.

Grow Beds are fed from the pond though the radial filter

Grow Beds

Pond (approximately 5000 gal)

Pond

Creek adds oxygen and will have filter plants along the path

Creek

Return from grow beds (Recycled PVC pipe from Aquaponics V1.5)

Return from Grow beds

Radial filter (with bottom drain not shown)

Radial Filter

Indoor System (Stocked with 40 tilapia from BlueNote Farms)

Indoor System

Survey for next class

Please take a few moments to let me know what and where you would like the next class to be offered.

Posting Delays

Just a quick update. Spring is here and the projects are in full swing. Since I switched from WordPress.com to WordPress.org I have so many new features, and options I don’t know where to start. I met with a good friend last night Adrian Oshea from AdrianOshea.com and he gave me all kinds of tips and tools to help optimize my page, look, and navigation for this site. Adrian designed our new logo for the podcast. So while it may not seem like there are many blog posts lately I am doing a lot of improvements behind the scenes.

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The new podcast is also keeping me pretty busy. We are looking to put out a show once a week until we can get more experience under out belts. We may do more, just depends. If you haven’t heard the new podcast is available at our site 2MidwestGuys.com or through ITunes.