The last few days we’ve been experiencing some of the wet, clear, cool stuff that falls down from the sky, i.e.: rain. We may have had more rain over the last few weeks than we had all Monsoon season. Please understand, I am not complaining. We will take the rain whenever we can get it. It saves on us watering, helps us to recharge the aquifer, and allows us to see how our rain catchments are working. It also helps to keep things a bit more green – even during the winter – and therefore, less of a fire hazard; however, it does make for more mowing/weed whacking work. Continue reading
So – we start off the Wednesday update with some sad news. You may have already heard, if you follow our Facebook Page, that Big Buff succumbed to his injuries early on Tuesday. He took over quite well after Dodo passed and took care of the flock like a champ. Even the last few days, he wanted to be in the doorway and keep an eye on his girls. It’s always sad to lose a little life, but I’m actually glad he passed on his own and we didn’t need to make the decision to euthanize him. It’s hard enough taking care of those intended for meat, taking care of one you had expected to be around for a while as part of the flock is just really too much. Continue reading
“What are you doing this weekend?” Everyone seemed to ask me that today; the admin at work, the chiropractor, the mailman, the teller at the bank today. Quite frankly, I wasn’t really too sure. Mom and dad sent a vacuum (that works) home with me; I could do housework, there are still seeds that I want to plant, we’re supposed to be getting berry bushes that need to get into ground, we need to finish painting the chicken coop before the monsoon season starts, we also need to work on the circle garden. I wish I had started this blog yesterday so that I could say, “We’re making Stonehenge.” Now, after researching a bit for this blog, and having a discussion with Sue, I think that’s where the focus is going to lie- our own little Stonehenge, otherwise known as the circle garden. Continue reading
Even when we’re not around as much. It seems like it was a super busy week, and there were not enough hours in each day to get the things accomplished that we want to. And yet, things keep happening around here… Continue reading
We are always looking at different ways to harvest and keep water on the property. You’ve seen and read the blogs about the rain water collection tank, creating bio-swales, using mulch to prevent evaporation, the Hüglekultur techniques that also help conserve water use. We’re doing some versions of all of that, but these still rely on rain or utilizing well water to get/keep them going. Now Sue has found a water collection system that is just in the developmental stages. It harvests water directly from the air. It’s call the WaterSeer and is being developed in conjunction with the UC Berkley Sutardja Center and the National Peace Corps Association, and with viewers like you, or rather investors like Sue. Sorry, PBS announcer was creeping in there.
When we first were looking at this property, even though we visited it a few times, I don’t think we really realized how drastic the weather was going to be. The temperatures do fluctuate some, but in general, it’s been pretty mild. What has really surprised us is the wind! (I think I’ve said that a couple of times in this blog.) We seem to be in a wind vortex here, and it can be rather severe. You see to the left what was left of our first Chicken Tractor that Sue made over the summer. This is what we used to house the littles when they were first big enough to be outside without a heat lamp. It’s not a light weight object… it took two of us to move it… but here you see where it landed 50 yards from where it was, INSIDE the chicken run. So, it was lifted off the ground, glanced across the top of my car (that could have been much worse), then lost some altitude and stopped this side of our fence. Whew! Our other little shade structure took flight during that same wind storm which happened before Christmas. So, wind is something we contend with each day.
To help us divert, or slow, the wind in the future~ we have begun planting trees for a wind break. We brought a few with us from California and I think some of those will go along our front fence where our drive way is, but the wind often comes from the south-east and right into our back porch. So, Sue ordered 12 Deodar Cedar seedlings which we’ve planted along that side of the property. Sue is researching trees, finding those that grow realtively quickly, are drought tolerant, are hardy for our zone, and slowly ordering a slew of them. We might be impending our view, but the wind is just so incredibly desiccating that we have to be able to manage it somehow.
Another weather issue that we’re working with are the torrential rains. This photo is from New Year’s Day. That is Sue, out in a downpour, directing rain runoff to the “pond” that we’re keeping for water catchment. The main thing we want to do with all the rain that comes our way, is to keep it on the property as long as possible. If we’re not capturing it in the cistern, or in the rain tank, we’re trying to keep it in Bioswales or, as in this photo, direct it to water catchment basins that we’re keeping or creating on the property. If it isn’t filling up tree wells or Bioswales, it’s at least being kept on the property to sink back into the aqua-fir; instead of running down the street into the gutters. Sue placed an 1800 gallon rainwater tank by the house, that is set up to capture half of the roof runoff and the patio cover runoff. We’ve had two good downpours since she did that and it is already full! We’re already talking about adding something to the other side of the house and carport that will capture that water to be used as irrigation during the dry periods. The runoff that Sue is working with above, is actually the overflow from the rainwater tank…I tried to capture that in the photo to the right. You can see the rain gutter going into the tank, and, in the middle of the photo you see the water just pouring out of the overflow valve. It was amazing how quickly it filled up!
The other issue we’re learning to work with, and watch out for, is SNOW! Well, and freezing night temperatures. Sometimes the temperature fluctuation from day to night is 30° or more. Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning, we had incredibly frigid temperatures from a weather system that dusted us with snow. Didn’t seem to bother the Biggies much, but the Littles would not come out of the coop. However, by mid day we were back up into the high 50’s, all the snow had melted from our property and things just continued to warm up throughout the week. We’ve taken to watching the weather quite closely so that we know when to cover the citrus trees, and the few winter veggies that I planted. So far they’ve all come through OK. We even have a few limes on the tree still, and some very small green lemons. We’ve continued to harvest the Kale, and are watching our Cabbage and Broccoli grow bigger and bigger (see today’s Facebook Post for photos); the Spinach took a breather, but held on through the coldest months and now I’m waiting for a growth spurt! One of the real champions this winter was the Coriander (Cilantro) plant; I’ve cut it several times and it just continues to put out new growth. The Basil also overwintered, but I’m not sure it’s going to be much by spring… we’ll see.
It’s all a learning process and something new happens each and every day. It is always interesting and often entertaining. We encourage any of you to make a trip and visit the area, there is so much to see and do here – we promise you’ll never get bored! Just think on it!
Until then, as always,
Thanks for reading.
Today’s temps: Low last night was 37°, but our high was 65°. Strong, strong winds today – had to put up all the outside dog beds so they wouldn’t blow away! Clouds came in during the afternoon. Over the next couple of days we’re supposed to cool down again and – perhaps – have some light rains on Saturday and Sunday.
Egg report: Only one little brown egg today. One little white egg yesterday. After I bragged that they were doing so well. Maybe the winds put them off. We’ll continue to keep track.
The There are many different ways we’re trying to plant and grow our food over the long term. We’re on some densely packed soils and we have long dry periods, without much precipitation, so one thing we’re trying out is Hügelkulture. Hügelkulture is a type of raised bed gardening that replicates the natural process of decomposition that occurs on forest floors. In general, you mound or pile wood, leaves, weeds, garden debris- cover with compost or soil and plant on top. Over the long term, the gradual decay of the wood and other materials provides a consistent source of nutrients. Soul aeration increases as the debris breaks down, continually tilling itself over time. Also, the logs and beaches act like a sponge; rainwater is stored and then released during the dry times.
When we took over the care of the property, we inherited a water feature project that was only in its beginning stages. The previous owner had dug two separate pond areas connected by a stream. So there were ditches dug quite deep and Sue got the idea to fill them with the debris we were creating by trimming trees and pulling out weeds and more weeds. Now we have mostly filled the ditches with debris and are in the process of obtaining horse manure to cover the top and then adding some top soil from a neighbor’s yard- they don’t want it, it’s leftover from an excavation project. In a few weeks we’ll be planing our fruit and nut trees on top and seeing how it progresses over the long haul!
So many people have asked us why we wanted to move to Arizona. What will we be doing? What the heck is Permaculture? Not even the built in proof readers recognize that word! Here are some answers to those questions, if you’re still interested anyway.
Why Arizona? Well, to put it succinctly, affordability. This is a state and an area that we had usable land in an affordable price range. Sue was able to sell her house in California and purchase a home on 9 acres, with wells, and out buildings; fenced and cross fenced, in a beautiful area (see some of our photos in the gallery) and have funds left over to begin this enterprise. NO- it’s not in the desert! We’re located in a small “town” called Hereford, our house is around 4800 feet above sea level, nestled in the foothills of the Huachuca Mountain Range, with Oak , Mesquite, Manzanita, Sycamores, and many other beautiful native flora. We have deer, bears, javalina, some type of wild cats and many really cool bugs! This area is considered a birders paradise. Come visit us and see for yourselves.