Landslides and Water Management

Monday night we woke up to quite a strong rainstorm. It’s been wet for many weeks already, so we did not think too much of it and went back to sleep. At sunrise we wanted to look around a bit, because we got quite some water (around 150 mm in just a few hours) and to our big astonishment we saw that the area around us was hit by some severe landslides. One of the bigger mudslides had come down the entire mountain at the higher side of our land.

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The picture above gives an idea of the amount of mud that came down, the one below shows the entire path it took. The vertical distance is slightly over 100 meters. Continue reading

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Piglets

The past few days have been exciting in multiple ways. After reading anything and everything we could find about the whole process of farrowing and piglets, we now experienced it with the birth of the first litters of our two gilts. It was quite a mixed experience and no doubt it will continue to be mixed over the next days and weeks as well. Since not much we do with our pigs follows the ways that are considered conventional it remains an experiment.

All external signs of the gilts developed as described, the behavioral signs were different though. Both were calculated to farrow last Wednesday. The plan was to lock them in in the corral at the moment they would get busy building a nest. We provided hay for their nests last weekend, then we waited and observed.

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On Tuesday around 11 AM we could not find one of the gilts. It turned out she was outside, on a slope, already giving birth. Continue reading

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Powers Of Observation

Within Permaculture we see nature as our ultimate teacher. She will demonstrate how species interact with each other and their surroundings and which effects you can expect from it. She will also demonstrate the response of the web of life to different (or changing) circumstances. Just observing, even with our rather limited knowledge of exactly how it all works, demonstrates which approaches we can choose to improve the conditions of our ecosystems.

We had an unprecedented opportunity in 2015/2016 to observe the effects of the greatest drought in decades in our area caused by the El Niño phenomenon. During 16 months we only had a minimal amount of short rain showers and blistering sun most of the time. Our dams dried out in December 2015 so irrigation was no longer possible and we were forced to let nature deal with the remaining months of drought by herself. Visions of dying plants and trees dominated our expectations, possibly leading to a totally ruined farm. Let’s not even go into the fire risk this was creating. Then nature gave us a pleasant surprise! Some plants did die of course, but some were barely affected, others just stopped growing and waited for the rains to return and nature gave us a clear demonstration of which circumstances influence survival for the better or worse.

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The same banana plant, first picture from December 2015 in the middle of the drought, dam in the background is dry. Second picture from October 2016, the banana is now flowering, rains are slowly coming back, the dam is starting to fill up again.

Some of the early changes we made to the land paid of big time. Continue reading

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World Permaculture Association

We’re happy to announce that Permaculture San Joaquin is now a member of the World Permaculture Association (WPA). We fit in their category Projects, and we are now part of a growing family in the Permaculture Laboratories Network (PLN). Each laboratory in this network has a name specific for their location. We’re located in a rural part of Colombia, not too far from the capital Bogota, with a climate that alternates between wet and dry seasons. We are named “Rural Wet-Dry Tropics Permaculture Laboratory”.

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Poem by Rachel Kann

What To Tell The Children

 

Tell them that this is the great awakening

Tell them that we humans have made some huge mistakes

And that’s how we now find ourselves in this tenuous place.

 

Teach them that hate is the poison.

Teach them that love is the remedy,

That it is better to be readied for what comes next,

Even if the revelation is painful.

 

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Weeds

How people use the word ‘weeds’ as a negative descriptor of a huge and very varied group of plants already indicates we’re falling prey to over simplistic thinking once again. To consider many plants as totally unwanted shows a denial of how nature functions. Weeds are nature’s answer to disturbed or destroyed ecosystems. Nature does not recognize unwanted plants, she only sees function.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn unused field, next to our dams, full of a diverse collection of weeds.

Every disturbance of vegetation is met with a reaction, be it fire, compaction of the ground, plowing, erosion or anything else and weeds are the first emergency responders. Continue reading

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Trees, Water and Climate

The way climate change is presented in general leads to a feeling that it’s difficult to do much about it. We tend to feel it’s up to government to set rules to limit the problem, but governments don’t show much action either; CO2 levels keep rising and our climate seems to get more erratic. These days another theory is emerging about climate change with a much more comprehensive approach than only looking at greenhouse gasses. This theory has everything to do with trees, water and our landscapes.

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Our climate is a complex phenomena which is influenced by many factors. Continue reading

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We Need To Act

Last Saturday, Bill Mollison, the man who founded the Permaculture movement, died. An outpouring of testimonies on the significance of his work by hundreds, if not thousands, of people followed. A memorial page for him on Facebook flooded with comments about how Bill changed people’s thinking (and through that their life) within a day after the page opened and more are posted every hour. There is a growing consciousness that these changes in thinking and working are way overdue. I think we’re witnessing an epic shift taking place and his death might very well be what will make us come together to make a major push towards a new paradigm for our planet.

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With the internet we have access to enormous amounts of information. So much even that it is almost paralyzing. How can we find a focus for what we read, look at, think about and work on? Continue reading

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Water

A few days ago we were in La Mesa for some groceries, and the talk of the week there was all about water… Because there wasn’t any. La Mesa has no drinking water as the last effect of El Niño. Most of our neighbors are in a similar situation. Nobody here is really prepared for extremes in the weather. We’re a little proud that our dams still have water so we can irrigate our gardens every day. As a result we got some carrots, a cabbage leaf and a squash for lunch and dinner today. In our water tanks we still have over 6000 liters of drinking water. We are slowly starting to get somewhere.

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Utter Neglect

We’re all a bit lazy sometimes and to be honest our choice to apply Permaculture was also slightly based on a wish for (future) laziness. If nature functions so well on earth, we can all setup our lives for nature to do most work leaving only a bit of maintenance and harvesting for us to do.

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Small Moringa tree, 8 months old, got watered for 3 months, then only rain, is now established, no further help needed. Starting to flower for the first time.

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