Living on a small holding in rural Alberta, raising kids and animals, growing stuff, creating things with fibre, and living with PTSD. See more at www.applejackcreek.com.
29 May 2016
The journey to silver.
19 May 2016
Permaculture Inspired Design: Ponds and Drainage
We did get the forecast rain (which was especially welcome as the smoke from the fires north of here was making it really nasty), and the drainage is working as I had hoped! There will need to be more work done, of course ... the pondlet/stream north of the main pond needs to be tidied up and enlarged, I need to install some rain chains, and I will be extending the whole system down the hill to the pasture. My goal is to have a little pond that is gravity filled from the outlet from our sump pump and rain gutters - the sump pump is going to run anyway, so it might as well do some of my work for me! Gravity is working with me, as there's a lovely steep hill going down to the pasture. I'll just need to make a little stream that runs down the hill and dig a pond at the bottom that the cows and donkey can drink from. No doubt Caleb will swim in it on hot days, too, especially since our creek seems to be almost dry. I think the beavers have been expanding their upstream domain again.
See the red building in the top corner? That's the chicken coop ... I'll make a diversion from the creek to provide them with some water en route as well. The collection of logs and such is a 'water break' (sort of like a wind break, but for water) under the eavestrough opening. This is the first spot where I need to install a rain chain, to help keep the water coming directly down and not blowing sideways with the wind. Nonetheless, it's catching and moving the water where I want it to go.
You can see that the little pondlet has overflowed and is making a soggy mess in the grass. That's what we used to have every time it rained - just soggy grass, which would sorta drain towards the pasture but only sorta. With all the grass roots and such, it moved too slowly to really clear. With a smooth clay creek bed, it should flow nicely down the hill.
With the changing climate, holding water is getting to be more important: this is our first real rainfall of the entire spring ... we have had a couple of little sprinklings of rain but no major dumps from the sky. Hence the Fort McMurray fire and all the other assorted messes of this very dry spring. Having some water capturing features in the landscape will mean I can plant things that will be kept watered even if I am not paying attention, that birds and other little creatures can get a drink even when things are very dry, and I can dip a bucket in to water the chickens or other plants and such if I need to, without using well water. Seems like a good idea.
Best of all, if I can keep the water away from the foundation, the sump pump will have less work to do (and thus a longer life span). There'll be less chance of the basement flooding. And the stock water should be automatically refilled for most of the summer, without any work from me.
That's the plan, anyway. So far, the prototypes are working well so I am hopeful.
14 May 2016
So today I realized that I was quite annoyed at my family.
When The Reluctant Farmer is home he is - justifiably - on his time off. He works away for two weeks at a stretch, and when he is home he does a lot to help out. But his two kids are also here, and the work load far more than doubles. The kids just hang out with their dad and play… Which is a good thing (and something I feel jealous about because I didn’t get to do that when my kid was small for assorted reasons, most of them out of my control).
At 12 and almost 14 they are way big enough to be doing more.
I’m not policing chores and asking for help every day and paying attention to who did what and so on… I’ll still be the guy tracking all of what needs doing and that’s exhausting.
I clearly need more help and the Small People need the experience of contributing to the household as well.
When things aren't working you need to look at process and infrastructure - something needs adjustment.
I made a list of chores I am willing to hand off. I rated them with points, more points for bigger jobs. I told my husband that he gets to set the target each kid needs to meet, and I made magnets for each job with the chore title and points (on puzzle pieces my friend had given me - perfect!).
You do a job, you put the magnet in your square.
You can volunteer for any job that has a magnet available - I made enough to spread out the jobs and vary the amount of effort required. Since the kids are here two weeks at a time (with a couple of days back at mom’s in the middle during the school year) the target will be set for the two week stretch. Being an idiot can result in an increase. Doing extra will probably be worth something but haven’t worked out the details yet.
I figured that rather than fuming silently it was better to just attempt a solution - I knew my husband agreed in principle that the kids needed to be doing more, but we hadn’t had any real process that worked.
Maybe this will.