Last I wrote, we had just readied our permaculture garden in a couple of inches of snow, which is to say, it has been a while since I've recorded our progress, and also that we have been very busy this summer, but luckily a lot of that has been preparing ourselves for our homestead.
Though we wish we could get up north to our garden more often, it is also part of our experimentation with Mark Shepard's STUN (sheer, total, utter neglect) method that we do not, as if we were around more, I think we'd fuss over the garden too much, perhaps even to its detriment.
The idea is that we foster healthy soil with plenty of mulch to lock in moisture and let the plants grow as they would without human intervention. And, astonishingly, it really seems to being working.
Here is the garden in May, when we transplanted chives, rhubarb, strawberries, red sorrel and catmint - all plants that Dan's clients asked him to pull out of their gardens, luckily for us, as another important part of this garden is to put as near to zero dollars into it as possible.
The strawberry plants we'd added in April had already grown quite a bit and were looking really healthy. I hate to say it, but I was actually really shocked that this was all working. In my experience, growing anything has required toil in the hot sun and constant weed pulling. Whenever we've visited the garden, there are of course some weeds sprinkling the bed, but they pull up so easily because the soil is so loose, and they are kept at a minimum due to the straw mulch.
When Dan visited the garden again in August, I was expecting to get pictures of parched, brown plants (pessimist that I am, I guess!), but here is what he sent me instead:
So lush and abundant and already producing fruits!
In addition to studying Joel Salatin, we've also been reading Mark Shepard, whose STUN method I mentioned above. A perennial permaculture farmer in Wisconsin's Driftless region, his book Restoration Agriculture is an excellent source for farmers in the area, and we've started turning our attention to learning about growing fruit and nut trees, and incorporating livestock into the mix for a more complete, sustainable system.
With that in mind, as well as Joel Salatin's Pastured Poultry Profits, Dan built a chicken brooder with scrap wood from his shop in anticipation of housing chicks - this will hold up to 100 chicks for the first 3 weeks of their lives. After that, they will go to pasture in a chicken tractor, which remains to be built, and will keep them safe, mobile and able to scratch around for goodies in the dirt, as they were intended to do.
For now we are preparing what we can and continue our search for a little plot of land to put it all on! More to come about our forays into livestock and anticipating our homestead ventures.