Farm Beginnings: The End of the Beginnings for Sweet Showers Farm

A freshly painted mailbox!

This is my last posting about Farm Beginnings because I feel we have passed by the Beginnings part and are onto the beginning of the Doing part.

The Doing part, as you know, is the steady pace learning and exploration tango contained within every moment - you try corn on the lower field for the first time, the squash borer kills all of your cucumbers, goats escape (again), the strawberries are too wet, the chickens are decimated by a hawk, you hold a baby lamb as the sun rises, the sunflowers are pulled down because you planted your peas too quickly to trellis along and everything falls onto the pumpkins. (In the future, may all of my “problems" be as simple as sunflowers falling onto the pumpkins!)

Part of the Permaculture Design Course was to envision what would be on the land in 15-20 years. So this is the global view.

We are calling our land Sweet Showers Farm, courtesy of my Chaucer days. Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote. Sweet Showers Farm works two ways. The Sweet can be a noun showering down upon the Farm and/or the Sweet can be an adjective describing the Showers of rainfall. It makes me wiggily with happiness.

For my future questions there are many online resources to help me:, Virtual Grange, Greenhorns, Beginning Farmers, Young Farmers Coalition, and I have been cultivating neighbor mentors.

Courtesy of my Permaculture Design Course (PDC), which I highly highly recommend as a way to recharge your educational, spiritual, and joy of life batteries, we have a farm plan and goals for the next 25 years.

A closeup of the plantings and whatnot near the house - akin to a vision board.

The PDC did a wonderful job inspiring me - but it also left a bug in my ear. The first day, our instructor Andrew Faust, punctured through my idealism in one obvious comment. It was along the lines of, “You know, people want to run away and create their little paradise, which is great. But what happens when your well is poisoned from the leachate from the municipal landfill, your air quality is so poor you can’t leave the house some days [which happens to those close to Concentrated Animal Feeding Organizations - aka factory farming, the EPA did a study on it], your weather is so weird that you can no longer plant the crops of your grandparents [see Tabasco], and your animals are stressed from the heat and stop producing enough milk to feed you.”


So there it is - the balancing act of life. I am you and you are me and we are all in this together. The choices rest in the Doing.

May sweetness shower our farm...

Here is the post on Real Time Farms

Upset about Fracking? Get excited about Biogas!

I woke up this morning excited, nay wiggly with excitement, because I want to learn all about Biogas generators and put one on our land. I don't know if it is legal to do so in my county (probably not, considering that you are not allowed to put in a composting toilet in your house), in which case I am excited to get that ball moving. images

Once I have put one on the land, I think our town needs a big one for our waste - we currently have a beaver problem near the landfill flooding the land, which might be a good segway to focus the community's attention.

Biogas is what happens when anaerobic bacteria eat organic waste, manure (from humans, etc) or biomatter (plants), and give off gas as a byproduct. For countries who don't have quite such a generous excess of land to throw landfills onto they are already utilizing biogas technology: UK, Germany, China, etc. There are a few instances of biogas in the US, however, Wikipedia seems to conflate biogas with Landfill gas, which is incorrect.

My first desk job was working with landfill gas - the ability to take the methane generated by the bacteria and turn it into electricity and put into an industrial boiler. However, due to airborne siloxanes (a type of plastic) from the breakdown of certain beauty products (often in deodorants) the plastic would gunk up the moving parts of the turbines as the gas was heated in the generators. Biogas is a clean gas, no plastics from industrial waste are coming out of your chickens. (at least, we hope not)

We learned in our Permaculture Design Course this weekend that 2 cows, OR 7 goats, OR 170 chickens (and not counting humans or other organic waste streams) can generate enough gas to serve the needs of heating/cooking for 3-4 houses (this is in China). Not that our teacher was recommending that everyone run out and get two cows to keep in the shower in manhattan to run their Wolf ranges. But this notion of a decentralized, regionalized power grid is VERY important and one that our country needs to address.

In the Bill Mollison's The Global Gardener series, there was a very simple example of this in India that was literally just this design.

In the next 30 years nearly 50% of our high power transmission lines will need to be replaced on the east coast and 13%-30% of the power is lost as it travels (that's the buzzing you hear near the wires). One of the principles of permaculture is that pollution is just waste that hasn't been put to better use.

(On a side note, landfills will 100% become super fund sites EVERY TIME because the liner only lasts 30 years and we are mixing industrial waste with organic matter which creates toxic leachate that goes into our groundwater, among many other fun/sad/horrible things. Check your well water if you live near a landfill and tell your neighbors.)

What does this have to do with food? Well, organic waste from the farm in whatever form: corn stalks, human feces, sheep manure, tomato vines, squash leaves, etc all have to go somewhere. You can compost the waste and feed the organic gold back onto your land and watch the pile steam in the winter from these bacteria - or, I would posit AND, you can harness the energy that is coming from the steaming pile and heat your house or run your stove or even your tractor with the biogas. To me, biogas is common sense - the bacteria are doing all of the work!

Upset about fracking? Get excited about Biogas!

Are you excited too now? Hope so!!

It all brings us back to the old adage, "Waste not, want not."

I wanted to write this out because I felt so wiggly that I was having a hard time focussing on my morning meditation. Still feeling wiggly with possibility and promise of the world and ideas and things happening, but I will try again to focus on my mantra!

As Abraham Hicks would say, I am feeling "tuned in tapped on!" ie, the power of the Universe is coursing through my beingness! What a wonderful wonderful thing!!

I wish the same for you today!