Creating the Mainframe Design for our Farm

(Published today on permaculturenews.org)

This article is about how we figured out our mainframe design for roads, swales and ponds/dams. The pictures that show how those were installed you can see in an earlier article here.

Because the terrain of our farm was totally overgrown and the topography is a bit complicated, it took us two years to finalize this mainframe design. This process has taught us a few good lessons which I will mention as a possible help for people working on their own design.

In the picture below you can get an impression of our land. Most of our terrain is quite steep, with slopes ranging from 1:3 to 1:1. Only the central part is semi flat, with slopes varying between 1:8 and 1:3. The dotted line is the border of the property.

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Continue reading on permaculturenews.org —–>

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Beautiful Birds

Right now we think there are about 30 species of birds on the farm. When we arrived here in 2014 there were less, maybe 10 or 12 different types, so we hope that means we’re doing something right. Below a parakeet eating the seeds of a yarumo tree.

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Parakeets always show up in groups, sometimes more than 50 at once. They’re pretty noisy and very funny to watch. Continue reading

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Life

Yesterday I was invited to send in a short video in which I could explain my deepest motivation for our work here. I had to think about that for a minute. We have a lot of different motives for our work, so what is the core of what we think and try to achieve? To properly figure that out I decided to start writing down some thoughts.

I think our life is a gift, it for sure is not something we can make, at most we can pass it on if we receive a child. It is also not something we deserved, because we received life before we did anything at all. If it is a gift, does that mean you can just do anything you want with it, or does it come with inherent responsibilities?

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Continue reading

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Puppies – 3 weeks old

The six little puppies of Roosje are doing great. A week ago their eyes opened and they are getting a bit more active now. Roosje is obviously proud and she does a great job nurturing them. They’re growing fast.

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Continue reading

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The Ground Under Our Feet

The soil is quite literary the base of our existence. All minerals and elements are present in the ground. The quality of the soil determines the quality of all that lives. The soil is not ‘one thing’, it’s build up in layers. The top layer, the topsoil, is most relevant to us. This layer, called the A horizon in science, contains organic particles and a stunning amount of micro organisms: bacteria, fungi, and microscopic ‘worms’. These organisms do a lot of work in the soil: they structure it, hold on to water and convert minerals from rocks, sand and clay to states that plants can absorb. They break down organic material, like wood and plant remains, to make nutrients available again. Without these microorganisms the soil would be dead. You’d have only rocks, sand and clay like in a desert. Without life in the ground there is no life on top of it either. The topsoil is our most basic and important resource.

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In this article we will look at the problems we face regarding the soils on our planet. However the goal is to get to the solutions, but we can only get there if we define the problems first. Continue reading

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Amazing Collection

Until now over one million of insect species have been identified, with an estimated 5 to 9 million still to catalog. This makes the species of insects by far the largest group of animals on our planet. (Source). It’s no miracle then that we sometimes encounter some of the more exotic types on our land (or in our house). For example this mantis:

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Because of their posture, with both of their front legs up, they’re also known as ‘praying mantis’. Margoth expected it to bite me, but they’re rather calm creatures. Continue reading

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Sustainable Thinking

Many things on earth, maybe even everything, have a cyclical nature. For example the seasons, the water cycle of evaporation to rain, the oxygen we breathe and convert to CO2 which plants convert back to oxygen while taking the carbon out to grow. A cyclical process can in theory continue forever.

In our modern society however, many activities proceed rather linear. Our thinking often is in a simple cause and effect way. We do know that somehow when we say that ‘every story has two sides’, but even with 2 instead of 1 viewpoint it’s still a very simple way of looking at things. Because complex matters are difficult to understand we often get confronted by the ‘law of unintended consequences‘ (or worse: the perverse effect, when an action has the opposite effect of what was intended). Many climatic problems and rising pollution are unintended consequences of how our society functions. Because we tend to view things in a linear, simplistic way we are not or insufficiently aware of this.

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By definition in Permaculture we approach the world as complex without claiming we understand everything. Continue reading

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The Wild Garden

I think most people would have difficulty recognizing our garden. There are no neatly kept beds filled with straight rows of vegetables. Instead our garden follows the contour lines of the landscape and all plants are mixed with other vegetables and weeds. This morning our garden looked like this:

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The work on the garden started last year in October. Continue reading

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New life: Puppies

Yesterday Roosje, one of our two border collies, gave birth to 6 beautiful little puppies, 4 males, 2 females. We just took them outside for a little while to make a picture.

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She wouldn’t tell us who the father was Continue reading

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The tree that’s not a tree

The banana plant is the biggest perennial herbaceous plant growing on earth, so it’s not a type of palm tree. The plant consists of two parts, the root clump and the green shoots. One root clump can produce several dozens of shoots over its lifetime, which flower, fruit and then die back, followed by the next shoot fruiting, etc. The biggest banana plant on our land can easily reach 5 meters in height.

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The biggest banana plant on earth can grow to up to 12 meters, Continue reading

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