Tag Archives: Joel Salatin

Experiment and make mistakes, it is a good thing

I was doing some research the other day. Well that is what I tell my wife when watching videos on YouTube.  I was researching some of how Joel Salatin integrated different operations of his farm, and some of the new opportunities for your farmers he is a part of. If you have not heard of Joel I highly recommend learning all you can from him, his books, online, interviews, podcasts, and videos. He is a great source of knowledge and experience. Joel integrates many aspects of his farm operation from the timbering area, to the sawmill, to the pigs, to the rabbits, to the chickens to people. I was amazed how one waste is another input for a different system. How by putting two things together that you think as separate, can give a dramatic improvement overall when you look at the system as a whole. Something he said struck me as so true, that I often say myself but in a different way.


“Anything worth doing, is worth doing wrong the first time”

He shared how the success they have found on their farm wasn’t from this great insight that just came from a book, class, or Devine intervention. They learned along the way on what works, what doesn’t, learned by accident even. Another one of my mentors Geoff Lawton has a somewhat similar philosophy, as does Sepp Holzer. One of the keys to permaculture is experiment, and see what works best in your climate, your soil, with your lifestyle. Try things out and see what happens.

 I find this very true in my own experiments and progress.  Stop researching and trying to find the perfect solution, the perfect plant, the perfect design and it work 100% of the time on the first time. You will learn much more for experimenting, making your own, and trying things out. Sure, you may not be successful all the time, but you learn an aspect, you are doing, you are getting your hands dirty. Maybe you get a totally unintended result because of what you thought was a failure, but totally was a better outcome.


When my experimental stacking fodder system didn’t work as I expected, it was by chance I was starting my spring seeds in the same area inside. The new seed trays I had planned on using have small notches on the rim. These notches were a great fit for left over pipes in the area from another project. Boom, I now can stack these new trays using the pipes in the notches as spacers. As it happens, the air gap is sufficient for air circulation. Bonus, the trays were on sale and got them for 0.99 each. So, now we have fodder system 2.0.

Another example, v1.0 of worm composting completely failed. Smelled bad, all the worms died, and wife was NOT happy with the smell. By chance, I met a local guy who teaches worm composting. I had done everything wrong that I could possibly do wrong. Worm v2.0 success. When we collected all the surplus apples that fell on the ground, I fed them to the worms. I needed paper/cardboard for bedding for my worms. This is where my junk mail/cardboard shredding system comes in. Worms are taking a waste and turning it into a resource. This year, I started making compost tea with castings, and spraying on my seedlings. I now have an additional resource from a waste. Had I not failed so miserably, I would have never wondered why I had failed so miserably prompting me to use the failure in a class I was giving about what not to do. Had I not stated how I failed in a class I was giving, this gentleman wouldn’t have offered his help, and I wouldn’t have some of the best looking plant starts ever.

The point is, you NEVER fail. You learn something that didn’t work. Learn from this, but don’t repeat it. Try a different variable; maybe a different plant, a different location, or a different interaction on your part.


Permaculture, What is it anyway?

Permaculture in my opinion is landscaping and designing property or a homestead, working with the environment, with system that already exist, for an optimal sustainable output.

There is no way I could explain permaculture in one blog post or a combination of posts. There are so much better teachers and information already out there. Instead I can tell you how discovered permaculture, then my take on each of the sources, and how I apply some of the teachings.
First I googeled the term when I first heard it. Here is the wiki link for permaculture.

I was turned on to permaculture idea about a year ago from listening to Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast (TSP). Here are the tagged episodes and blog posts from his site. Jack spoke of Geoff Lawton and had him on several episodes. Recently Geoff offered an online version of his course, and being a Member Support Brigade (discount program through TSP)

Currently I am taking Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture who took over for Bill Molison one of the founders of the permaculture education. Bill’s book Permaculture Design manual is a massive source of information and while taking the course I got the book at a discount. While at Geoff’s site be sure to check out the micro gardening. You have to register each time you go to the site. He does not, will not, sell e-mail address. The only thing I have ever gotten from Geoff is an announcement when a new video is out. No spam increase at all.

Through Jack and the TSP I found Paul Wheaton from Permies and Rich Soil. Paul is a little out there at times, but I take what I want from his podcast and forums. I get good nuggets of information here and there.

From Paul I got turned onto Sepp Holzer and his books. Sepp doesn’t speak English so watching his videos are difficult if there are any. His book has quite a bit of information.
Also through Jack I found Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms. Joel manages a variety of animals without hormones, antibiotics, and rotates his animals in a fashion that is sustainable and more productive than currently used practices. Joel has more than one book, so here is the selection.

While I am on a suburban lot of only 0.2 acres the information I got from Joel was good for consulting purposes and my future homestead when we are able to get more land.

Again through Jack I found Darby Simpson who is local and is literally the next town over. I have gotten to speak to Darby several times, and met in person at our local farmers markets. He runs a consulting business and has a family farm managed in the style of Joel Salatin. Joel is big time, and chance of my asking him a question is slim. Darby is local, same climate and environment, and knows the area and markets. This information has been key for me. He has enlightened me to the ins and outs, rules, regulations of local farming, farmers markets, and networking.

I have blended bits and pieces from all of these sources. I own several of the books, videos, visit the blogs, forums, and online videos often. I wish I had discovered some of these sources before we started designing our suburban lot, but we are constantly evolving it as we learn more and what works and what doesn’t. The principals were the key factor. We rarely have to water our gardens thanks to what Geoff, and Paul have taught us. We free range our chickens so we learned that anything we want to grow, from medicinal herbs to veggies have to be protected from the ravenous hoard. They eat EVERYTHING. If they don’t eat it they scratch around it killing the plant. We tried keeping the birds in a run, but they were just unhappy. With a six foot privacy fence we have never had one want to escape. In the last two years I feel I have learned more than I had in the previous 20 about gardening, the environment, land management, homesteading, self sufficiency, and the value of producing your own food. I can help on your own piece of land whether it be an apartment to acreage. Information is available on the consulting tab or use the contact us page.