Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Ember days of March...

More Wisdom of the Ancients, Permaculture and Excrement

I’ve been studying the ancient methods of farming in arid regions, with an eye to incorporating these ideas into our place. I was surprised to learn that in Israel attempts are being made to re-use ancient Byzantine farms and irrigation systems dating to the sixth century AD. These are by no means the oldest irrigation systems in use today, but most of the ancient systems use no pumps or power system being fed entirely by natural (gravity) methods. I am also amazed that modern farms use practically NONE of the ancient methods, in spite of the facts they are extremely advantageous.

The Hopi and Zuni tribes used several methods which should work well here. These include direct irrigation, waffle-grid, buried terra cotta pots (which seep water thus watering your plants) flood plain planting, gravel mulching, sand dune fields for beans (the sand holds moisture, but requires windbreaks to prevent the plants being buried or exposed by drifting sands) and terracing. Terracing is labor intensive, but requires little maintenance once established and slow the flow of moisture (allowing the plants to make better use of the available rainfall)and retards soil erosion very effectively. Arid land farming involves rainwater harvesting on a large scale – we have four terraces now but will have to build many more.

I hope to get a number of trees established. Trees are a form of permaculture known as “silviculture” and can last for centuries with proper upkeep. The large number of commercial orchards in this county are some indication that the idea can work here, with careful attention for the water needs of the plants as well as the regular care. Nut orchards, specifically walnuts, have a dual purpose in that the trees can be sold for valuable lumber when mature, some of the others also produce valuable lumber (American chestnut for example) and we plan on putting in several acres of nut orchard. The fruit trees will be for our own use, largely. In my opinion permaculture should be an idea whose “time has come” as our intensive but short lived forms of agriculture cannot last, with catastrophic results for our civilization.

I ran across a magazine titled Permaculture, based in England. It looks to be pretty interesting stuff, from how to raise chickens to providing your own power. Among their book selections, one is titled “How to Shit in the Woods” by Kathleen Mayer. Now this is a book many of us could have used! I know that such a subject seems painfully obvious, it is surprising how many people have no idea how to go about handling the problem of the “call of nature” while out in the wilds. Proof is easy enough to find, for many of us have found the ‘spoor’ of some unlucky person who either did not know how to do this in a sanitary manner or was just too damned lazy. What a pleasant surprise it is to be out hiking in God’s country, only to find you have stepped into someone else’s shit pile; a person for whom the world is their toilet, a person who cares not a whit for the beauty of nature or the health risks of human excrement perhaps reaching our public water supplies. One does not always have a shovel or hoe to excavate a hole, but one can almost always find a stick, a flat stone, or even the heel of a shoe to make some kind of a depression in which the excrement can be buried. There is justice in the world however, as we can be sure that some of these outdoor defecators who cannot be bothered to attempt to bury their excrement, even by covering it with a rock, have just as good a chance as anyone of stepping into someone else’s shit.

That is it for this edition…


“We must find a way, or we will make one.” –Hannibal Barca


Blogger Erika said...

I can't wait to see some of the pictures of your place... and I am really glad I am not the only person who talks about shit on my blog.

10:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Business Logo design
Hit Counter
[Most Recent Quotes from] [Most Recent Quotes from] [Most Recent Quotes from]
[Most Recent Quotes from]
[Most Recent Quotes from]
[Most Recent Quotes from]
[Most Recent Quotes from]
[Most Recent Quotes from]
MORE More metal prices including TIN, TUNGSTEN etc click here /