My current home doesn't have a verandah but I'd like it to! A long porch surrounding the entire house. With a porch swing, potted blueberry plants, and a long strong dog laying at my feet. The sweet smell of lrosemary and freshly-turned soil wafting across my yard. The chickens clucking contentedly as they scratch for goodies in the fertile dirt. Knowing we have a full root cellar, trees in the orchard about to drop their bounty, and soup made all from hand-picked harvests bubbling in the crockpot. Heaven.

Please move with me over to my current blog, ... thank you!

Snow equals permaculture, soup and goats

Here I am, watching the snow blizzard onto our property. So peaceful, although preventing me from seeing my beautiful Colorado mountains. But I'm recuperating from my painful week (one or two more days should do it). My thoughts turn to getting this property from virtual wasteland to a food-producing haven.

Ah.... my list...

1. Find exact property lines and measure.
2. Decide kind of fencing.
3. Discuss fencing with affected neighbors.
4. Discuss fencing with HOA (although defunct, still necessary).
5. Install fencing around perimeter.
6. Order fruit and nut trees and bushes.
7. While waiting, mark with landscape paint where to plant them.
8. Plant them.
9. Start certain veggies indoors.
10. Make frames for veggie garden and put in place.
11. Outline and lay concrete for barn.


Now... since we're in the middle of a "blizzard", can't exactly do number 1 and we've started working on number 2. I think we'll get them done this weekend, along with unpacking. But my question... I have been searching online for info about permaculture. I had read a couple of good books several years ago, but (1) they are based on Australia and it's weather patterns and (2) I didn't have a decent property back then and (3) had to return the books to the person who'd lent them to me.

Goal (Self-Reliance): We want to use our 2 acres to the absolute most.... as many perennial edible plantings as possible while leaving room for 2 different 3-Sisters crops and other veggie plantings in the Summer. We also plan to leave room for a fire pit, 2 barns, windmill, and keep the dog run as is (for dogs and people fun). Also need 2 small pasture areas to grow "hay" for our critters' Winter feed.

I'm too cheap to take a class (there are instruction places nearby). And there are so many permaculture books available at but I can't find one that deals not only with the USA but also takes into account the different weather patterns and elevations here. So much to consider... micro climates, what grows here and their benefits, high winds, etc. Plus our house, workshop and future barn is on top of a ridge (hill) that slopes down both for the back acre and the front acre, so we're windy and dry on top, and wet and windy on the bottom. We have only a couple of trees (but, as you know, we plan to plant lots in the front!).

Are there any permaculture people in Colorado nearby? If you have permaculture experience and want to help us design our 2 acres, keeping our needs in mind, we'll be more than happy to recommend you to others. We'll even place your contact info on this blog's website. We plan to write a book about this experience which means your contact info will be in that too. Take a chance! Help us plan our self-reliant homestead.

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I did a lot of research today to figure out what we can plant to feed our goats, rabbits, chicken and quail without relying on store-bought products. I'll post my findings over the next several days.

Meanwhile, I am still searching for 20-cent marigold seeds for my two-dollar garden! Since we have only gotten a couple of inches of snow up here on our little hill, we might be able to get out and search for those seeds this weekend. If I don't find some soon, I might trade some other seeds for some marigolds, as those flowers are absolutely essential in helping to keep away certain pests.

Otherwise, we have more boxes to unpack this weekend, and I need to find my kitchen stuff so I can cook! I really want some soup. Oh, and where are my clothes?!?!

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Patricia, the goat breeder we found, says our baby goats are doing great. Already put a deposit on them and the milking doe. The babies are about 3 weeks old (?) and are munching on grass already. They've had their disbudding, and the wether has been banded. Honey (the doeling) has quite a strong personality, not allowing any of the adults boss her around. Hawk (the wether) loves being with his sister; the two are best friends. We hope to have pictures next week (snowbound right now).

CM2, our milking doe, is progressing nicely with her pregnancy. Seems like it will be a long time before she gives birth and the kids are weaned. Still, looking forward to her joining Honey and Hawk before long. (If you remember, I'd originally contacted Patricia about the doe Bedazzled but she kept steering me to CM2. Hope she works out ok! Want a goat we can start milking right away.

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And for those of you who e-mailed, I'm doing better. My new med and herbal supplement regimen is really helping to break up the stones. I should be back functioning again this weekend. Hope hope hope!

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Note added at 6:40 p.m.: Unbelievable. Bit into an apple and started to chew. A cap/crown/whatever on a tooth that was just put on in Dec/Jan came off. Great. Guess I don't eat again until it's fixed, and can't call to get an appointment until Monday. Oh fun fun.


Anonymous said...

Bummer on your tooth! Resources: CSU seedling tree/bush program available through the county extension office or the Soil/Natural resources district. Also through the Soil Conservation district is the Fed NRCS (Franktown post office building has an office). CSU ag extension office has a lot of good info on plants/weeds, etc. Water will be the big issue -- quantity as well as time for the plantings, especially your trees (they need water over the winter to grow best), as well as weeding around the trees (definitely the most time consuming). Weeding is more important for a young tree than water (weeds/grass block the sun and take up the nutrients and water). Try dwarf trees for your fruit. They will mature a bit sooner, and are much easier to harvest the fruit. Also consider the deciduous full size fruit trees intermixed such that when they mature they provide the shade you want in the summer (from the perspective of May-Sept sun angle). There is a web page with calculator at an Oregon University (search on sun angle and solar stuff). A printable graphic is created. Back to water -- become aware of your limitations on your well permit and the HOA limits on how much you can irrigate, as well as water rights. You may be surprised how limited you can be if someone cares to make it so. Even the run off from your roof is not owned by you (though you can direct it so that it is absorbed before it leaves your property, you cannot legally store/catch it in barrels or reservoirs) -- unless you own the water rights. It is a game of the West, as the laws generally apply to a given longitude and West of it (left over laws from the mid 1800's).

Also, keep in mind the low density of hay/grass production in most of Colorado (water and growing season) of ~25 acres/cow/calf unit/year. Obviously a variable thing, but not far out for this area.

But bravo on your efforts and I wish you success!

Val...Techno Farmer said...

My name is Val. I am also in Elizabeth and trying to do the same as you. If you are anything like me you are going crazy looking at all the seed catalogs and planning. Keep in mind we aren't supposed to plant here until practically may! I have all the windows filled with seedlings.
Here is my blog:

Eric said...

I'm sure you've already read it, but I recommend Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemmingway for a Western US based permaculture book. Your local library should have a copy or be able to get it via inter-library loan.

fullfreezer said...

The first commenter was right about the water rights. I'm not in CO but have a sister who lives in Berthoud who was explaining the water rights to me. Yowza. Along with Gaia's Garden I would recommend you check out the Edible Forest Garden website and see if you can get the books from the library. They are (quite literally) the textbook on permaculture. Definitely see if the library can get them for you because hey are wickedly expensive (I know, I just got them for the permaculture class I'm taking!)
Good luck with your tooth, It just never seems to end.
We only got about 2-3 inches of snow here overnight but it's melting quickly.

Vikki said...

Thanks to all for your comments. Water rights: From what I understand, as of 2009, we can capture our rain water in Colorado. I don't know of any restriction, just that it's a result of a lawsuit.

Absolutely love looking through my seed catalogs, and planning what to order. I have all of our seeds, except the "pasture" seed that we need to special order.

I've read lots of permaculture books, including gaia's garden, but just don't have any myself. All were loaners from friends or from the library. haven't hooked up with the local library yet. Soon!