Tomi Hazel's Blog & articles

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2013 Article on Tom in the Applegator: With Design in Mind.

Community Inventory Report from the Little Applegate Valley

By: Tomi Hazel and Megan Fehrman, Spring 2017

The Little Applegate Valley (LAV) has been through a lot since the Dakubetede (Athabaskan speakers) were removed and Beaver before that.  The human social fabric exploded through the gold rush with many thousands of miners camped, tearing apart the stream beds and tunneling along quartz seams.  There even was a Chinese community who built the China Ditch and were not treated as bad as elsewhere.  A silent film was made of downtown Sterlingville, of which no trace remains.  Buncom (now a ghost town) was a small city.  Even Crump had thousands of miners shacked up all over the place and several small businesses. 

After the gold rush of the mid to late 1800’s, the settlers who stayed were the ones who had started farms and ranches to feed the miners.  These few white families filed homestead claims as well as mining claims and held grazing permits.  There were several small sawmills in the valley and almost every ranch did some of everything to extract value from the landscape.  The farmed soils were poor to begin with and only got worse, the mining ditches used for irrigation became less reliable and the forests close by did not grow back very fast.  This is a dry valley with steep slopes and metamorphic soils (alkaline and dominated by magnesium) that has not been friendly to settlement based on extraction.  Many ranches have gone bankrupt more than once. 

Over time, layers of settlement have included old families, new money, a few miners, firewood cutters, hunters, off road gladiators and counter-culture folks.  Starting in the early 1970’s, back to the land folks (hippies) found abandoned homesteads for relatively cheap with no building codes and reliable water.  Since the late 1970’s a drought has set in.  Tree ring records in the Sierras show 60 year drought cycles.  The LAV has been through droughts and good years since the 1850’s.  The Ecotopian settlers have brought environmentalism and farm rescue into the story and resisted the latest extractive efforts of timber corporations.  The industrial scale clearcutting that became the norm after 1980, in the PNW, is even more disastrous on our brittle landscape. 

Meanwhile, in the late 1980’s small organic farms started to operate and the first renewal of community organizing other than forest defense bloomed.  By the early 2000’s land speculation for country homes had ballooned and now, plenty of fancy cars are on the roads.  

The Grange movement had had its day during the 20th century (founded 1867).  Now new non-profits and cooperative marketing entered the community.  There is a flavor of culture here; the late 19th and the 20th centuries’ LAV never had churches, there were dance halls and schools.  The neighbors always have cooperated on cattle roundups and barn raisings and next door kids have married each other forming ties between ranching families. 

The newest layer of settlement of small farmers has brought more Ecotopians to the valley and we now have re-emergent culture.  A critical mass of young people have settled or visited to allow cultural institutions to rise parallel to the more business like non-profits.  A competition (of sorts) began between farms after small musical bands showed up at Siskiyou Cooperative CSA farm celebrations.  This gelled as the Battle of the Barn Bands.  We have had at least four of these hosted by different farms, sometimes even in a barn.  Then a private community center started to host a yearly social event called Cabaret, where folks put on skits and acts playing with themes wide and challenging.  A local wildcrafting winery hosts tastings with entertainment and catered food. 

Reading groups and clothing exchanges, seasonal themed parties and volleyball at the local county park materialized.  Some of the farms built businesses such as a multi-farm CSA, bakery, brewery, daycare, massage, a couple of creameries, a couple of small sawmills, and seed saving.  Farms and businesses learned to cooperate and got acquainted.  Several farms hosted educational events and courses.  Environmental protection work has continued, and now we are figuring out how to live and work with the Cannabis industry.  The LAV reached a level of population and commitment that suggested even more integration, and so the idea of community inventory and mapping as a shared group effort rose up.

Inventory Rolls In to Great Acclaim

In the spring of 2014, a couple of neighbors met a few times to plan a series of community meetings to map our resources.  We came up with a recipe.  Thirty folks showed up to our first meeting from various neighborhoods and farms in the valley. Hazel used some accumulated skills and posters from permaculture courses to set the stage, while talking the group through the concept and plan of community asset mapping (explained below).  We emphasized that none of these lists and compilations was to be photographed or posted online to reduce fears that local specifics would go viral, exposing sensitive information to whomever.  


In a second meeting, we reviewed the project and brainstormed what was missing, identified what actionable projects emerged out of the information and where we would go from here. We discussed external challenges to our valley.  We began to think like a community council. There were several committees formed to work on delicate questions, new categories, or to move forward with the obvious projects.  A bulletin board at Buncom, a ride waiting shelter at the Crump mailboxes, and a serve yourself farm store at the bottom of Yale Creek got attention.  Several small businesses in our valley talked about sharing bulk buying and recycling by-products between operations. 

There was a lot of enthusiasm for this community inventory process and some of the projects have seen some progress.  We had our third meeting in mid-June, 2017.  With our assembled bundle of posters and lists divided into three categories we reviewed our story thread with 22 folks, again – half of them new.  Systems posters hung about to keep us oriented.  We sorted into mapping, big ideas, and public services. 

At this meeting, we realized how little we know about the wide range of folks living in the LAV from the mapping group, who suggested we assemble a map bundle all to the same scale to be able to overlay them so we could think design.  This library would be accessible and include geology, timber, mines, trails, wildlife, water and fire.  Collect, organize and interpret.  The big ideas discussion reported the lack of housing, the need for family support (daycare and education), interest in cooperative projects (barn raisings and cleanups) and concern about food insecurity even with all these farms.  The public services group focused on communications and connectivity trees, the well being of our community and the organizing of emergency response.

We now celebrate a community calendar on line, volunteers organizing creek drainage (neighborhood) phone trees, progress on the ride/wait shelter and ongoing interest in sharing.  There is energy for perhaps three council meetings a year.  All-age educational evenings are popular; we have had two “report nights” hosted in local homes where a queue of presenters get five minutes each.  Much fun is had.  This whole storyline is deepening our sense of place.  

Eventually, the word spread about our process, and there was interest from other Applegate Valley neighborhoods. This article is meant to lend encouragement and enable other community inventories.  A Greater Applegate Economic Road Map process got rolling separately with similar goals, in 2016.  And now the two groups are meeting to exchange information and identify any possible synergies.

Recipe for Community Inventory, Reviewed with Systems Jargon   (for your entertainment and elucidation)

Scenario practices that set the stage for long-term plans, through brain-storming and visioning, orient and educate local folks to see ultimate optimums beyond imagined constraints.  Community inventory and assessment on a drainage basin scale is the foundation.  As knowledge is gathered and mapped, tabulated and modeled, we see potentials by peering through the layers of information, alert to quick fixes, design challenges and opportunities, emergent from complexity.

Making speculative community investments during a phase shift (as in chaos theory) is risky.  Small business start ups are especially exposed.  Community-scale planning is massively imaginative and ambitious, but that keeps us thinking.  Conservative planning is the lesson of Transition.  Releasing the resistance to hopeful visions is the first step.  Elise Boulding facilitated community gatherings that dared to dream in the late 20th century (Davis, CA, 1980’s).

Now, further down the cascading effects of failing globalism (back to Earth), let us imagine side creeks sending delegates to drainage basin spokes councils who (and where) collect the tools, books and hard copy maps to facilitate community inventory.  This does not need to be posted in the electronic ethers.  We should be collecting hard copies even as the satellites are still up.  During scenario imagining, the stress of community inexperience (true-believer extroverts and introverts with performance anxiety?) can be relieved by reminding folks this is play and practice.  Best get real local folks who may already know each other, family delegates, spokes that are from this farm, that lane or hidden gulch to show up for scenario practices.

When gathered and clumped by neighborhoods, after orientation (and songs of gratitude and praise), we will brainstorm the details and information in the ten categories (see Community Inventory poster, above) and list them on ten big pieces of paper.  Thus ten neighborhoods, so as to have every clump with a poster at every rotation.  This is the accumulating inventory of the drainage basin-wide, and the hyper-local aspects and resources listed in ten categories. 

As the posters rotate among the ten small groups, the lists and comments, in different scripts, fill up the posters.  Rotate the posters in a circle every few minutes.  After maybe an hour, there will be ten posters, full of lists.  Re-sort folks into affinity clusters that focus on each of the categories.  The new groups can then practice clumping the notations from each poster, sorting out the brainstormed lists and drawing a diagram of bubbles (the sorted out lists) on a new poster.  Lines can then be drawn to show relationships, actions, or bridges.  Perhaps a Ven diagram is appropriate with a space shared among radiating and overlapping bubbles.

 Out of this 2-3 hour meeting comes at least 20 posters.  The overall cache of the community inventory gallery will suggest a meta-poster (see “Community Resources” poster, above) implying a multi-dimensional map/model of a set of categories in relation to each other.  The next re-grouping of community delegates for council will hang the poster gallery on string lines with clothes pins so that participants can walk the gauntlet and update and review the mapped information and process.  The meta-poster will help set the stage to brainstorm the hopes and then the fears in order to clear the air for visioning.

By the end of this second session, obvious take-aways and to-do’s jump from the light of the discussion and action groups (committees) coalesce.  For example, if we start with listing our brainstormed outside threats, perhaps a committee of the wise can deliberate more deeply and report later on internal threats.  Workparties need organizing.  More posters modeling committee work can also be generated.  The list of maps and categories of information collected, the meta poster, can be shared to help other inventories elsewhere.  The local bundle stays home.

There are several types of systems posters that help display the context and bubbles of different categories in a chart, cartoon, storyboard or nest of lines (relationships).  The Ken Wilbur quads, dynamic spirals, zones and sectors, bubble webs and Ven diagrams can grace the walls or clothes lines of the council place as icons that surround the deliberation space and remind us while we dance through the conversations.   As in visiting Stations of the Cross or touring the Druidic Sacred Trees Grove.  These posters and icons work as mnemonic devices.  Traditional Ecological Knowledge, arranged around us.

Another very helpful multi-dimensional mapping procedure is to collect as many type-map layers as possible: topographic, geologic, hydrologic, wells, mining claims, ownership boundaries and area use plans, infrastructures and utilities, fire history, ethnographic archaeology, layers of colonization and extractive land use of the past.  If all these can be reproduced in the same common scale on see through plastic or thin paper (a picture window works as a light box), sequences of selected layers of information can be super-imposed and seen through for clues.  This is referred to as palimpsest, as in seeing shimmering depth in layers of paint, or skrying as in seeing meaning in chaos.

Three dimensional or conic projection maps (relief maps), sand box mock-ups and constructed models gather endless attention.  We can hover over them and see whole drainage basins.  Models can be hand made with layers of cardboard cut to match topographic map lines and then glue-stacked and elaborated with representative stick-ons (be creative) and applied texture and color.  A sand box model can offer an ephemeral perspective; we hover above as if an Eagle.  We can practice using our mind’s eye to see dimensions that are hard to model, such as time.  The mysterious (to Humans) dimensions are the air we breathe, the earth beneath us and the surrounding horizon (Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, 1996).

And So

There is a thread of continuity in the story of the last 170 years in our valley.  There is rarely any government.  Those institutions are remote as we are remote.  There is barely ever any law enforcement.  Too far from the coffee urn?  Too small a tax base?  We as a community have mostly been on our own.  We have succeeded and failed on our own wits.  Through all of this the land has taught us.  We have learned from place.  Some responses have remained and some have been left behind.  The Dakubetede were right to call themselves “the people of the beautiful valley”.  We are along for the ride because we love being here.

 

Megan Fehrman grew up in the heartland and earned her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Wisconsin before heading West.  After exploring several aspects of community organizing, sustainability, and education, Megan earned a Masters Degree at Portland State University, focusing on Community Food Systems and Agroecology.

The last several years, Megan has lived in the Little Applegate Valley on 86-acre ranch with her brothers as they establish their farm business and creamery. She works as the Education Program Director for Rogue Farm Corps, a non-profit that aims to help train, educate and assist the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

Megan is currently serving on the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Steering Council and was a 2013 Toyota Together Green Fellow. When not at work, Megan likes to dig in the dirt, walk in the woods, visit the city, take in some music, and spend time with family and friends.  She can be reached at mefehrman@gmail.com

Tom Ward aka Hazel is a long time resident of the Southern Oregon bioregion and has been advising farms and teaching Permaculture for over thirty-five years.  He has degrees in Forestry and Botany from Syracuse University and has taught at Laney College in Oakland CA., D-Q University in Davis CA, and at Thlolego Learning Centre in South Africa among many other institutes and communities.  He is presently managing a Social Forestry experimental station in Little Wolf Gulch near Ruch, OR, where he is demonstrating natural building, fuel hazard materials utilization, multiple products woods-crafting, wildlife enhancement and desert forest water management.  

Hazel is a member of the Siskiyou Permaculture collaborative team, who teach the PDC and advanced courses in Optical Surveying, Social Forestry, Design and Ethnobotany. TH holds permaculture diplomas from Bill Mollison's Institute, as well as from the Permaculture Institute of North America. Hazel is currently working on a book on Social Forestry. To find out more about internships or courses, go to siskiyoupermaculture.com.


WHAT TO DO WITH BLACK STICKY?
October 2016

Tree roots keep mostly horizontal near the surface.  Successful natural forests on clay soils have A layers with lots of mulch to keep the "hemisphere" (the thin layer of fungals and roots at the A/B soil horizons) happy.

The work we did on North Mountain Avenue near Ashland at Star Gardens in the early 80's with black sticky did involve some perennials.


PILGRIMAGE TO MT. SHASTA
December, 2015 Storytelling event at Jackson Wellsprings
Find the recording of the talk on the Video Page.

PERMACULTURE IN SOUTH AFRICA
May 2015

We have finally gotten Tom's South Africa slide show up on youtube.  This is a 2 hour presentation of a slide show given in January 1995 whose subject is Tom's four months at Thlolego Learning Centre near Rustenburg, South Africa in the fall of 1994.  Tom was there to teach a PDC and support village development with technical advice and help.  This was just after Nelson Mandela was elected president and the revolution had not yet fully settled down.  Tom says, "I learned a lot and taught the PDC in seven languages under translation with lots of break out discussion groups."  Find it on the Video Page of our website (third one down). 

ACORN WOMAN AND HER ECOLOGICAL CONSORTS
December 2014

On December 6, 2014, Tom Ward aka Tomi Hazel brought us the annual storytelling at the Jackson Wellsprings Community Room where about 100 people were present.  You can listen to the talk by going to our Video Page.

Acorn Woman is the guardian spirit of the White Oak tree, an ecologically key species of the forest in our region, especially in the oak pine savannah.  The White Oak has a high degree of connectivity in ecosystems, which is called implication, a poetic word in the English language with lots of different implications.  White Oak, Acorn Woman, the Triple Goddess, the White Goddess, Diana the huntress, all of these are associated with the White Oak in different cultures, in different places, showing us the central ecological importance of the White Oak tree.  Because she's such a strong woman, she has many consorts, the spirit animal plant guild of the White Oak.  We're going to meet her friends and talk about their relationships to her and to each other, and learn about our relationships to this place. 
 

ADVICE FOR POND BUILDERS
August 2014

The challenge with a plaster lining is that it only holds water if the pond is kept full.  When the plaster dries it cracks and you have to reseal.  Perhaps you can draw it down and then re-plaster and after several years it would hold better?  I do not recommend epdm liners as they are laminates of questionable materials but more importantly are glued seams with a toxic glue, even though they say "fish safe".  Try hdpe instead as it is non toxic but no glue works.  One has to heat weld although I suppose one could do some fancy folding.  I wrote an article about plaster ponds for the Permaculture Activist long ago.  

The most wonderful thing I found about a small lined pond is the soil moisture condensation on the underside of the liner.  Do put lots of cardboard or leaves or carbon material under the liner and expect to grow a lot of good herbs along the edge of the pond as the roots will follow the underside of the liner.

EXTREME WATER CARE
May 2014

The Water Care poster is a map of technologies.  It's about extreme water care.  If we're going to really care about water, there's a bunch of details we need to know to do that.  On this poster, the further we read out in the sectors, the harder that category is to do.  The easiest tricks to do are close in.  If we do water care properly, we close loops.  There are eddies, backwaters, where water care wiggles for a moment before flowing back again.





Let's start with SOURCE.  The easiest way to get water is from rain and snowmelt.  It's gravity delivered, it's high quality, Mama delivers it to your roof.  The next easiest to do is to recycle water, to re-use water.  This is way easier than pumping water.  The rest of these are "we have to dig to get to water," "we have to develop a spring to get water;" "Oh, we have to dig really deep to get to water;" that gets more and more expensive and difficult.  The easiest is to collect the water off your roof.  

ADVICE TO FARMERS ON WATER IN THE SISKIYOUS
April 2014

One important principle used in permaculture design is that the very best place to store water is in the soil and in vegetation.  We want to know where to sink in water on the landscape.  The slogan and program is, "Slow it, spread it, sink it."  With overhead irrigation, we lose up to 80% of the water.  The best method of irrigation is flood irrigation when it's done perfectly.

The state doesn't like keyline and infiltration.  They say it's stealing from the fish--Not True!  Charging the groundwater keeps the main stem of the creeks running at cool temperatures later in the summer.  If we were all infiltrating water, our creeks would run year round.  We need to learn to do these things on a landscape scale.  Between keyline ripping and swales and patterning, we can avoid the whole impounding issue of pond regulations because there's no law against swales.  There are no laws against infiltration.  "Look, We don't have any ponds.  I don't see any water,"--because it's underground.


THE WATER CYCLE
March 2014

Life is more complex than we can measure.  It's more complex than we can actually design.  We've produced three water posters to try to understand water.  This article addresses the Water Cycle.  The others will be discussed in follow-up articles.

On the Water Cycle poster let's start with evaporation, where water leaves the ground.  The first thing that happen when water leaves the landscape is three different ways that plants move water.  How does a redwood tree get to over 500 feet?  It can pump water three ways.  It does it through osmosis because the tree has minerals and sugar in it's sap, and the water in the soil doesn't have sugar in it; therefore the water moves into the plant because nature abhors a vacuum.  Water moves from less salty to more salty, and that's the nature of osmosis.  The second way that plants pump water is by capillary action, the tubes in the wood are tiny, microscopic.  That means that water tension likes to climb up those tubes, and the tubes end up being a pumping action because the water tension pulls itself up the tube; that's capillary action.  The third way the plants pump water is trans-evaporation, which means that the leaves with the sun on them evaporate water to stay cool and that creates a suction.  The leaves pull water up from the roots through evaporation; the trunk moves water up through capillary action and the roots pump water through osmosis.

This is important for permaculture because one of the best places to store water is in the plants.  The drought that we are in has left the trees with 5-10% moisture, when they should be at 80-90% moisture at this time of year.  So the trees are rapidly growing root hairs right now to suck up some of the 4 inches of rain that fell in the last few days.  All the trees are maximally extending their root hair surface, and it's all microscopic straws.  They're quickly trying to suck water into the trunk.  The trunk of a large tree can hold thousands of gallons of water, tons of water--it's amazing.


PERMACULTURE POTENTIALS
November 2013

We do not own the land, it owns us, and the land is sad for the loss of our careful attention and disturbances.  The human heart longs for usefulness, engagement and biological entanglement.  Permaculture moves us back towards home, to things we once all knew as a people place, and held in common stories and practices, all local and specific. Oooh, my heart grows faint with the promise of relationship and reciprocation, in the place where my macro-molecules will one day be reassembled in some new emergent complexity.

RESCUING THE REPUTATION OF MALIGNED AND MISUNDERSTOOD PLANTS
August, 2012

There has been plenty of controversy in seed saving, land restoration and Permaculture circles about "invasive weeds" and what to do.  Some have pointed out the inherent racism in judging species and some have blamed the plant newcomers for the decline of ecosystems and fondly remembered landscapes ("nostalgia guilds").

Often a recently arrived plant will have an eco-spasm.  For example, Mediterranean Desert Parsley, Torilis arvensis (we call it Velcro Burr for its affinity for socks) are to be found on disturbed soils.  There are lots of ways that industrial extraction of bio-life and minerals has caused disturbance.  Thus if we are disturbed to find our socks full of Velcro Burr burrs, we have some conceptual ecosystem tools to talk about this and get some therapy.

Ecological Implication implies that native long time resident species have a lot of commensalities: the plants, animals, insects, fungi etc that have relations to each other.  Oregon White Oak has been around so long that we can pick up pieces of petrified wood millions of years old on parts of the Old Cascade Mountains.  This sacred tree is important to both west coast indigenous folks and to the Druids of southern Europe.  She holds a reservoir of fungal associates and is very competent at recovery from hot fires by sprouting from the roots.  The mycorrhizal fungi can help many other perennial species recover by helping their surviving or carried-in seeds germinate and thrive.  She is also the usual habitat of many birds, butterflies and acorn gatherers.  The list of associates goes on and on.




  
BORERS ARE CERTAINLY NOT BORING
MARCH 12, 2012

We are in a long drought period that started in the late 70's. The 
pattern was found in tree rings in the Sierras. Such dry periods 
appear to last about 60 years so we are over half through. Who knows what climate wierding will do?

If a woody stem has good turgor (sap pressure) the larva hatched from eggs inserted by the ovipositor will be pushed out of the bark! Hard to keep good turgor when we have low carbon content soils and a Mediterranean climate of wet and dry extremes. There is a pine bark beetle population spike just now and we can measure low water pressure in the tree trunks. If we were burning regularly and taking out understory competition and making sure there are lots of mycorhizals and limiting compaction from tractors or roads or development then the pines would have better turgor. You cannot stop a bark beetle epidemic by cutting down affected trees (almost all of them presently) or by spraying poisons.

Seasonal Work, Festivals and Forestry on the Ecological Calendar 
published in the Permaculture Activist, November 2014

Let's start by cherishing the goal for us all to deeply realize that we are natural beings on this landscape and that we belong here.  That is a big healing for everyone; we’re not necessarily only making messes.  We have work to do here and the land misses us because co-evolution is deeply embedded in our genetics and there have been First Nations peoples working on Turtle Island for anything from 13,000 to 250,000 years depending on who you talk to.  It’s only very recently, 150-200 years ago that a regular cycle of seasonal stewardship got broken here in the Siskiyous.  We can still see the remnants of that ethnobotanical work as we walk around landscapes and find what the First Nations peoples were doing.  So it’s not that big a jump to get back into the game.

Paul Shepherd, author of Nature and Madness, and Coming Home to the Pleistocene, says to make sure that the children have full support when they’re infants, full body contact at all times—it’s called continuum parenting.  Then from 3-9 years old they should have plenty unsupervised nature immersion.   As a child in nature, the brain picks up the metaphors for thinking: the fox, the mud, the lichen, the dark, the light, the rain, the cold, the seasonal flavors, the template for all those symbols is genetically built into our brains.  If we have that full complement of natural symbology in our metaphoric repertoire then we have a chance of becoming adults, growing up and being useful.  A lot of us are missing parts of that vocabulary.  Read more.

Siskiyou Seasonal Work, Festivals & Pilgrimages on the Ecological Calendar
December 2013

Tomi Hazel's annual storytelling in December 2013 outlined what the future indigenous people of this area will be doing in the post-industrial world.  Watch the full two hour video on youtube.

The villages of Wagner County in the 22nd century (by the old reckoning) are tucked up into the side canyons and connected by rail and canals built on the old irrigation template. Semi-nomadic herbalist, herder, trader, horticulture, ranger, miller and crafter guilds all work together to Keep It Living.  Everyone has work, praise, family and is deeply connected to the land.  

In the ongoing series of reverse scenario vision talks, we previously talked about icons and indigenous essences of place, stories from the past, watershed repair for Return of the Salmon.  This talk explored a year of celebrations and work cycles by settled and  nomadic cultures sharing the work and supporting the shared council. We talked through a yearly cycle and remember back and forth what we can do Now, Next and Forever.  

THISTLES AND CORN
Posted October 2013

On the very day of my attainment,
I took unto myself a field of thistles.
I cleared the ground, plowed the earth,
And planted my crop in straight rows.
Thistles grew among the corn,
And eyes peered laughing from the forest's edge.

Poem by Gwion, 1990, and found in Greenward, Ho! An Ecological Approach to Sustainable Healthavailable from siskiyoupermaculture.com

 

WILD ANIMALS TELL US

November, 2012

When we humans find ourselves outside the hedge, away from the barnyard, with neither dog nor drove, wild nature greets us.  Small birds come by to take a look.  Gatherers, rangers, wood workers, poets and artists, we all have a lot to learn from the less tended edge.

The denizens of the woods come by to observe us.  We present edgy opportunities.  What might we knock over or pull down?  What is all that racket?  Or, what smells are those?  They seek the sounds and smells and flash of disturbance regimes!

The work we do in Zone V, "the wild lands" is critical to whole landscape integration.  Forested ridges provide water brooms and corridors for plant and animal movements.  Mixed forest and savannah foothills are traditional human forage lands and most specifies mosaics (or ecosystem types) co-evolved with human burning, seed dispersal, digging and hunting.


GREENHOUSE IN ZONE 5
May, 2012

Question: I've been hearing a lot about solar heated & cooled greenhouses for climates such as South Central WA and your neck of the woods.  Do you have any resources you would recommend I look at?


BIOCHAR VS. AGRICHAR
March 20, 2012

I make a distinction between biochar which is cooked in a closed 
container (double retort) at low temperatures (about 350 degrees F.) 
and is used for fertilizer (layered into compost or topdressed) and 
agrichar which is pure charcoal cooked by various methods at high temperatures (about 750 degrees F.)
 
 
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth; a bold blueprint for survival that diagnoses the causes of the environmental crises, by R. Buckminster Fuller, 1969
May 17, 2012

Just reread this forty-three years later, the positivist systems manifesto by the famous uber-geek.  It fits well with Overshoot, by William Catton (1981).  Where Bucky tells us in systems engineering lingo that all is well if we just get with the program, Catton tells us that we are sinful and doomed--something like that.

This is definitely a formative text to the can-do roll out of Permaculture shortly thereafter.  

HOW TO PROCEED ON A NEW LAND-BASED PROJECT
April 16, 2012

None of us (organizations and circles of friends) know what we are doing because the rate of change of the rate of change is accelerating.  All the trends of "Limits to Growth"  laid out in the early '70's are on track and  thus we cannot expect the future to look anything like we can imagine.  The trends (see Heinberg, for example) point to 2030 as the collapse point of all fossil fuel energy dependent and global systems.  Yes, that is what I said, all.  Sorry to be so curt and short, but to ignore this is to feed the beast more until it eats all species.  



















DEER IN THE GARDEN
February 21, 2012

Has anyone found an effective efficient way to keep deer out of the garden without an 8' fence?

Lovely to have a wild discussion on semi-domestication.  I would rather think myself such but the deer are coming from the other direction.  So to work deer (cultures in Asia milk them!) we might think design.  Lots of options depending on . . .

If one blocks a wildlife trail, they will search for alternatives.  So always find the flow paths and keep them open.  Perhaps plant a hedge corridor of browse they can keep open.

Deer in the wild can jump ten feet if they have a launch ramp, such as a leaning tree.  City allows only five feet (always check). (Ashland allows 6' in back yards until recently when they have decided to allow mostly transparent fencing up to 8'.)  High wires and sparkle dangles do not count as they can be considered temporary and see through.  I use sixty pound monofilament fishing line.  the glint is enough to deter without dangles.

The brush mulch I use covers the entire plant so that the noses do not rush in.  It is open so that one can reach in to garden.  I put the stem end in, near the middle of the bed and leave the twiggy ends pointing in every direction.

I believe that the mountain lion population is considered to be higher than ever, historically high.  The surviving deer out in the backcountry are big and strong and fast.  The deer in town are refugees.  Deer in the wold move a lot of beneficial mycorhiza around as they love truffles and then mix the mushroom spores with shredded wood that comes out the other end as innoculants.  Deer also are vectors for a number of diseases, especially Limes Disease.  We need to keep up the lizard population to clean the deer ticks of the spirochetes.  That means, as Mollison insists, mulch the cats.  Now we are getting dicey; if actually the dogs and cats are the ecologically useless surplus animals then we will have to deal with the humans.  Nobody wants to be useless and redundant, do we?

Well trained dogs might work with deer.  Cats might have to be kept
 indoors and the ferals fixed to prevent eco-spasm breeding like we have with abandoned pet rats here in Ashland.  You see we cannot have this conversation without the larger map of urban wildlife including us.  Busy humans tending a garden cottage density would be outdoors all times of day and night.  I can imagine a lovely complexity of care and attention.  Just now there is very little attention given to gardens and yards.  No time for that; got to pay the debts and keep up the appearances of value, without maintenance.

So we might want to tame the local deer, learn deer doctoring, develop a herding guild of costumed specialists and sell the cheeses to the eco-tourists?

Prolonged and careful observation rather than prolonged and thoughtless labor!  Occupy Home!  tw

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