The Big Project, Part 9
Well, the project continues to evolve.
I've thought a lot about the energy inputs into my burgeoning permaculture system, and I always go back to the fundamental premise that the only 'free lunch' out there is derived from capturing the energy of the sun.
Unfortunately, most of the sun's energy on my property was being appropriated by pine trees. I don't particularly like the taste of pine trees, so I had to get rid of some of them and replace them with something a little more palatable.
I'm in the process of converting the volunteer pine forest into pasture. I learned that digging up the pine stumps, which have a taproot that can be 30' deep, had the effect of destroying the fragile topsoil because so much sand and clay was unearthed in the process. So, I left the stumps and am in the process of accelerating their decomposition by putting high-nitrogen cow and chicken manure on the stumps.
It's important to have the pasture, because basically I'm relying on this energy pathway to fuel the growth of my garden: sun-to-grass-to-cow-to-manure-to-vegetable plant. In this way the garden comes much closer to being self-sustaining and requires fewer and fewer external energy inputs.
The chickens continue to do an excellent job keeping down the resident insect pest population, and this spring Pan was riotous in the baby-making department. My four Gulf Coast native ewes each gave birth a healthy lamb (all female lambs, by the way), and my Pineywoods cattle are presently dropping calves. Here's a pretty little bull born last weekend:
The mulberry trees I planted last year are beginning to bear fruit this year, and they've rapidly grown. I planted more fruit and nut trees this spring, also.
We had a nice windy spring and the windmill performed like a champ, pumping thousands of gallons of water. I built a few more raised bed gardens and produced many strawberries, heads of lettuce, onions, carrots, etc.
Next up: build a compost tea maker to help process the cow manure as a liquid fertilizer and connect my tilapia tanks to the parallel water system to provide fish-waste nutrients to the garden.