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Dog is loosing her winter coat, insects buzzing in the windowsill, we´re collecting eggs by the buckets now and drinking the morning coffee outside  – today I even went and fetched my magic garden belt (because I needed the knife) it´s certain all right, it´s dead sure: spring is here.

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One thing we do when spring arrives is to make a plan. We´ve been talking about the plan all winter but only when spring arrives we finally decide.
Funny thing about the plan is that it never lasts. Circumstances change. Situation. Money. Possibility. Time. Energy. Therefore the plan is not REALLY a plan. It´s more like a phenomenon; a certain point in the time/space continuum.
I think.
I guess.

When we arrived at this spot in the universe (confused, exhausted) we didn´t know a whole lot about permaculture. We knew a little. Plus a little bit about forest gardening, all in all we didn´t know a lot.

According to permacultural principles you view your land as divided in zones, the zones closets to your house should be the more cultivated, wilderness should gradually prevail and out there in zone 6 or 7 or something humans should never…. be humans (meaning: build, change, optimise OR destroy, damage or diminish depending on your view on humans)

It´s just the wild dosn´t know about the zones. The wild will enter your zone, it will.

Last year a sick fox came to us. It was very clear that it wanted us to kill it so we did and just this morning as I was planting these poppy seeds that I got from my mother (I collect the seeds and use them in my baking) two young ravens began to circle above my head. It´s not the way they call. It´s not the shiny feathers. It´s the sound of their flapping wings. That sound….
Closer.

We have created a microclimate here, a biotope…. bees, butterflies, insects even the elks and the deer (who feed on our kale), the flow in the well now that we actually drink from it… the longer I live here the more it amazes me to see how everything is dependent and interconnected. Which is why the idea of the permacultural zones seems more and more… redundant to me.
So I use them as a guiding line. An inspiration.

Kind of like this: a small basket containing an abundance (!) of food.
I´ll plant some of the seeds but not all of them.

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There was nothing when we got here. No house, no barn, not even a garden, a single apple tree. We don´t own a tractor. Everything here is done by hand.
The timber framing, the firewoodsplitting, the hugelkultur mounting. The only machine we have (besides the chainsaw) is a lawn mower. “Lawn mover?” you say. Yes.
We use grass clippings for mulching, in our experience this works the best here (better than hay, straw or forest floor material)

Because of our situation (actually moving into the actual wild not having not even the bare essentials to run a small scale homestead) we have had to be extremely flexible and able to adapt to a myriad of inputs. We´ve had major setbacks (like me getting sick last year) and we´ve lived a long time in a way that most people would find well below their standards. Living like this requires you to be able to tolerate discomfort but also requires some laissez- faire in your thinking.
So what if our roof is not really finished? It´s better than having no roof at all.
It will have to do (until we get the money and the time… and we probably never do)

That being said, the plan is still important. Almost like a live actual being.
The first years out here our plan was very long, many pages long.
Here is our plan for this year:

Buildings:

Woodshed (we´ve been putting off building a woodshed for too long, we need it), sauna (I probably don´t need to tell you why) and re- building the barn (we built it too fast) because this year we want to reintroduce animals to our homestead (we´ve had goats and sheep before) not so much because of the meat (yummi) more so for the manure.
Because above all- this year- we will focus on the garden.

IF we have time and money we will board the cabin before winter. I hope we will be able to but we probably won´t.
I also cross my fingers regarding the roof.

Garden:

We´ve been doing hugelkultur beds for 2.3 years now. We even made an herbal spiral, did the 3 sisters companion gardening too but I´m going to be honest with you: hugelkulturs attract ants and ants are already a problem as it is. Besides all of these methods (lasagne gardens, keyhole gardens and so on) they just don´t work for us.
What works is straight lines and squares. Sorry.

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This is our super soil-o-later de luxe. Building it was a big deal- but today we dismantled it just as we did the herbal spiral and some of the hugelkulturs. It´s kind of sad but it´s also exiting. We have found BETTER ways which is, in effect, what permaculture is about (or should be about) isn´t it: adopting, optimizing the output using minimal input. Letting nature do it´s thing and what nature does is this:
CHANGE.
Just like us.

We use the hen yard as a compost now. Since we are located at a slope and since hens will always scrape material downwards we now have a lot of really nice well worked through compost to mix into the potting soil…

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.. which we still have to buy in small quantities BUT it has moose on the package so that´s a plus!

While Jeppe began to take down trees/making building material for the woodshed I began the work to create a new herbal garden closer to the house (your herb garden plus spinach and salad should be located as close to the kitchen door as possible! AND you need your spinach as soon as possible in the spring!)

We need to be able to dry more herbs for winter (thyme, rosemary, sage) and I use chamomile, poppies, flax, sunflowers, st. johns wort, fennel, liquorice and many more for teas as well as baking.
(I think growing herbs is a good way to come a long way- fast) (I do a lot of pesto´s, like the nettle one the most)

The new herbal garden will be located here (the flat area with all of the snow is our main garden)

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Notice how the snow have melted closer to the edge of the forest?

It´s because the trees soak up the sun during the days creating a warmer environment on the west-facing side of our plot.
We should have located our fresh greens/herbal garden to the west from the beginning but as I said, we had too many things to do, too many things to think about, we didn´t notice the lay of the land, the rhythm, the way.

I didn´t make the beds neither in straight lines (difficult because of the location) nor as hugelkulturs (because we´ve given up on them) but I used the scrap materials I could (left over logs plus stones) and then I just went with it.

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– up and down the slope I went with the wheel barrow.
It was nice.

And then we had sausages for dinner.

 

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One day in and the plan is still on!

12 comments on “The plan

  1. DM says:

    Boy, I would love to spend a day or two helping you build your wood shed! Wished I lived closer 🙂 I didn’t have any $ for one so I started scrounging around our old property..found enough material to get the job done. I built one for us of an old pallets (for the floor to allow air flow) 4 used fence posts for the corners, some fence panels (for the sidewalls) some used 2 by 6’s for the roof framing and some used metal for the roof. I appreciate your attitude(s) regarding flexibility and being adaptable… enjoyed the update. DM

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    1. Oh yeah, pallets 🙂 Not a natural occuring ressource though but one time we got some from town and used them on the barn. Quick and easy! Nice to hear that others are doing what they can with what they have! Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. John N. says:

    You are correct regarding Permaculture. “Observe and interact” in the first principle; things change. And, “use small and slow solutions,” the ninth principle, ensures that our mistakes will not be too big to correct!

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  3. Dear Andrea, i really enjoyed building the herb spiral and i really enjoyed reading you dismantled it: things should never be permanent. I’ve been doing some more research into permaculture after I left your place and I even did a Permaculture Design Course in Spain. I still don’t like the “design” part of permaculture and the fact that it is humans manipulating nature when it should be the other way around. There is a lot of usefull stuff in it though. But through permaculture I really got interested in natural farming. Did you read Masanobu Fukuoka’s “the One-Straw Revolution”? I think you would love it. One of the first things my permaculture teacher told us was: in permaculture it is all about planning, the planning is essential. Fukuoka says: “The best planning is no planning”. I think your planning is more like a no planning planning. Lots of love to all of you and enjoy spring!

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  4. Nice to hear from you Monique. Many good thoughts were sent back to that summer and all of the good people when we dismantled the spiral 🙂
    Yeah, I know about Fukuoka and have read a bit but I must say that I still feel like this regarding much modern gardening: it is made into higher science and allthough this can be very clever and absolutely valid it also pushes people further away from the sense of “just doing it”. Plant a carrot- don´t take a course, you know.

    Nice to hear you went to Spain and dived further into this world 🙂 (and you are absolutely right about the planning part and me!)
    All the best and thank you´s!
    a

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  5. BeeHappee says:

    Viking belt looking so good on you!!! Sausages looking even better. And pine forests looking the best! Beautiful and inspiring!

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  6. nicoleaugust says:

    OK, I’m jealous ! It snowed again here this morning. I think we have turned the corner here for spring, but it is teasing us. I ordered some new seeds though, which made me happy. I like to try a few new plants each year. We have rows and squares too. I can keep track of things that way, and I can amend the soil differently for different plants. I like the permaculture ideas more for the perennial native plant areas and fruit trees.

    What kind of ants do you have ? The ones here get discouraged if I keep the soil damp and well mulched, but I’m guessing that the ants I see in the forest might like things different.

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    1. We have monster ants! 🙂

      You are right about perennials and fruittrees, I like that too (and wished that walnuts could grow naturally here!)

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      1. You wouldn’t happen to have fruit bearing hazel, would you?

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  7. ncfarmchick says:

    When I first started learning about permaculture methods, I was so overwhelmed. But, like anything, it helped to pick a few things I thought were doable for us at that time and our property and give it a try. You are so right, nature changes so becoming too rigid in your thinking (about anything but, maybe, especially Nature) is a sure way to become frustrated and hate the experience. Glad you mentioned huglkultur not working so well for you. We’ve had moderate success with ours but our low tunnel and container gardens have worked out better. However we use the huglkultur idea of logs, branches, etc. within some of our really deep containers and they do hold water amazingly well. And, like the reader above, I like the concepts of underplanting fruit trees. The best thing I’ve learned from permaculture is to really get to know your land. Observation is probably one of the most important skills in this (or maybe any other) kind of life. Observation and a willingness to change direction. Again, probably good attitudes for anyone. Thank you so much for sharing the “plan.” Excited to see what’s next.

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  8. I looked into this whole permaculture thing too. It somehow does not appeal to me. Seems to rigid, not really suitable for our climate either. Same goes for forest gardens.
    And hügelkultur sounds like a waste to me, apart from creating an antheaven. I use the logs for firewood. I use the branches for pathcover. Anything up to 2cm thick into the shredder, anything over it in 35cm pieces into the stove.
    Looking at the land seeing where what sort of plants grow, where water accumulates, where snow lingers and where shadows fall on what date at what time… That is just common sense.
    And ants are a major nuisance here to. We have an ant highway smack through the middle of our garden living area, the place where we sit and eat and such. Big ass forestants… commuting between stacks…. You can even hear them move, but they occasionally make fun objects for studying.

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