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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Natural Farming for a Living

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  • Steven Smith
    We are Quaker and simplicity is one of our core values. But simplicity does not necessarily mean a life of scarcity. As we continue to perfect our farm we
    Message 1 of 92 , Jul 16, 2008
      We are Quaker and simplicity is one of our core values. But simplicity does not necessarily mean a life of scarcity. As we continue to perfect our farm we are working toward never having to start an engine, but making hay for winter forage and pushing snow in winter still require it. We follow Natural Farming principles--no tilling, no chemicals, no artificial soil amendments, no bare soil, planting mutually supportive polycultures--and always asking ourselves Fukuoka's question "how about not doing this or not doing that." From a Systems Thinking standpoint this means discovering what element has been removed from the natural system that is requiring my labor and attention to replace it, and finding a manageable way to reintroduce that natural element and eliminate my work. The particular practices of Natural Farming change with the geographic and ecological setting of course, but that is what makes it fun, discovering how to apply them to our
      particular situation. But we earn a living. We will send our kids to college. We have phones, and a car, and wireless access. In fact my work has led me to believe that unless I can demonstrate to my neighbors that this is a life of abundance rather than one of scarcity they will be much less inclined to consider learning to steward the Earth in this way, and the urgency with which we need to teach more how to live this way increases daily.

      Hey all, I would find it helpful if posters regularly indicated there location in their post. It helps me frame their queries and any suggestions I might be able to offer. Thanks

      Steve Smith
      Two Friends Farm
      2934 250th Street
      Marshalltown, IA 50158

      ----- Original Message ----
      From: Linda Shewan <linda_shewan@...>
      To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 5:44:18 PM
      Subject: RE: [fukuoka_farming] Natural Farming for a Living

      Hi Lee,

      First up - I chose a man who can give me pretty much whatever we need in
      terms of comfort - but he can't be happy with the simplicity I crave meaning
      there is a constant 'gap' in our relationship. We are looking forward to the
      future where we may meet - where he feels financially secure enough to
      simplify - isn't that concept strange... Trust me, find yourself a partner
      that will be happy with, indeed craves, the simple life. Believe me, there
      are some of us out there...

      Don't try and go all out in one go, keep the laptop and keep connected
      online with people like us. If you grow excess and sell at a local market
      you will also stay connected that way. It doesn't take a lot. I have started
      making a pesto with native spinach that grows like a weed (perfect for
      natural farming) and my local connections are slowly but surely growing with
      it. I am still in the money economy but by the time that collapses I feel
      comfortable that I will have a lot more connections in the community to
      support my family through it - AND I can pay the lease on the land this way!

      This statement is heresy on this list but you may feel more comfortable
      starting from a permaculture perspective. There is a large social network in
      permaculture and it encompasses many of Natural Farmings ideals - no
      chemicals, working with nature, using handtools instead of powertools -
      subsistence living to a large extent. But it also acknowledges our current
      cultural environment and the need to 'Obtain a Yield' (one of the 12
      principles of permaculture) so that you can survive in this world. For me,
      the pesto is my yield, then as people are opened to the idea of using the
      native spinach, just the leaves will be and then ... we'll see. Permaculture
      also shows lots of options for heating, cooling etc outside the usual realm
      so there is a raft of self education you can do in the meantime. I think
      Toby Hemingway's book Gaia's Garden seems to be the preferred one in the US
      as a starting point - it should be in the local library.

      Go for your goal. I believe you need a social network and online may not be
      enough. Search out the area you want to buy land in and see if you can
      connect with people in the community by attending farmers markets and
      similar events. Talk to the locals - you will then find out if the community
      suits you before spending all your money on the land.

      Good luck and all the best, Linda

      From: fukuoka_farming@ yahoogroups. com
      [mailto:fukuoka_farming@ yahoogroups. com] On Behalf Of Lee
      Sent: Wednesday, 16 July 2008 1:31 PM
      To: fukuoka_farming@ yahoogroups. com
      Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Natural Farming for a Living

      Back in 2004 I discovered organic farming. At that time the higher
      prices payed for organic produce restored my childhood hope to farm
      for a living. I then went on to discover various methods of farming
      on small organic farms. As my knowledge progressed, I began to
      desire to farm with less and less technology, or farm equipment.

      My first plans were to farm with a small used tractor and used
      implements. Then, in December of 2005 in an issue of American Small
      Farm I read an article about how one man still farmed with horses.
      He was also a professor, and explained the economics of horse
      farming, and all of the numerous benefits. I was excited to discover
      that it was still profitable and functional, especially since I had a
      background of breaking colts. I felt like I could combine my love
      for horses with a passion for organic farming, and everything would
      be wonderful.

      Well, in the coming months I subsicribed to a journal and a magazine
      about farming with horses and oxen. I learned a bit more and was
      further encouraged. Then, during the spring of 2006 while digging on
      the internet for more organic farming information I read about
      permaculture and no till gardening. Also, that spring in an issue of
      Acres USA I seen one of Masanobu Fukuoka's books the One Straw
      Revolution mentioned. The title of the book and a few words
      describing it stayed on my memmory. In the spring of 2007 I
      purchased the book. I was taken away by the wisdom in Fukuoka's
      methods, and his devotion for being in harmony with nature. At that
      point I changed my mind about wanting to farm with animals and till
      up the land.

      Since then I've been working an average of 60 hours a week in order
      to save money to purchase farmland. In about a years time I have
      managed to save thousands. Not hundreds of thousands, but tens of
      thousands, thanks to a career opportunity in construction.

      Nevertheless, this is certainly not a career that I want to spend my
      life in. I am still working towards my goal of farming for a living.

      I do have some concerns though. My biggest concern is whether or not
      I will be able to earn a sufficient income to meet my needs. Now, I
      am aware that a living a life of natural farming is more than just
      farming techniques, but a way of life that is more natural and
      simplified. I welcome the idea of further simplifying my life, and
      I am interested in voluntary simplicity. I currently live debt free,
      and TV free, but the rest of my life is that of a typical "tight"
      spend-thrift american. The problem arises for me when I consider the
      fact that I would like to provide finacially for a spouse. I'm
      currently single, and have no prospect, but I do worry about this. I
      also worry that I will not be able to find a spouse that would be
      happy living a life of great simplicity.

      I can see that living without electricity and living car-free would
      drastically reduce my expenses, but what about transporting my
      produce to the market? What about my social needs (though I'm a bit
      of an introvert), and what about the desires of a potential spouse?

      I'm beggining to question at this point whether or not I must choose
      between a life of natural farming, and providing financially for a
      life partner. Choosing to live off-the-grid is not tough for me, but
      choosing to live without solar panels, a laptop, a cell phone, and a
      fridge is tough for me. I know that I can do without these things if
      I must, but will I meet a woman in America that desires to live such
      a life? Then, there's living car-free, transporting produce, and so

      I guess that I'm asking for some direction, and a bit of

      I also need some hands-on experience with natural forming before I'm
      able to even subsist on it?

      Which brings up a good point. Should I only expect/desire to live at
      a subsitance level, and not trasport produce? I see the benefits in
      living such a life, but I fear being lonely and disconnected from my

      I've considered joining a commune in order to meet my social needs,
      but I feel that I will be limited in the amount of choices that I
      will be able to make concerning the layout of the farm, and so on.
      Maybe I'm being a bit selfish in that respect, and should see that
      some trade-off must exist in order to share my life with others.

      Back to the hands-on experience. I do need to learn. I have some
      knowledge about plants and the soil, and a bit of experience with
      livestock, but when it comes to real natural farming, I do not have
      any experience. Aside from my fears concerning financial issues, I
      know that I do not "yet" have enough knowledge and experience to
      natural farm at even a subsistence level with any certainty.

      Any advice would be much appreciated, even though some of my
      questions go beyond the realm of natural farming in some ways.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • grannis04
      -No, the chicken layer pellets are poultry feed for laying hens. It is grain based feed but if you want complete ingredients maybe check the label on the bag
      Message 92 of 92 , Jun 22 7:17 PM
        -No, the chicken layer pellets are poultry feed for laying hens. It is grain based feed but if you want complete ingredients maybe check the label on the bag at your feed store. Steve G.

        fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, yarrow@... wrote:
        > So are chicken layer pellets similar to Sluggo (iron phosphate
        > pellets), which is sold as a nontoxic (to pets and wildlife) snail
        > and slug remedy at about $5-10 (est.) a pound in the U.S.? What's in
        > them? Do birds eat them, or do you need to hide them (as with Sluggo)?
        > At 11:00 PM +0000 6/22/09, grannis04 wrote:
        > ---Micheal, I don't know what a chicken later pellet would be but
        > chicken layer pellets are fed to laying hens. This really works and
        > is very inexpensive. A 50lbs. bag is about $12.00 here. Good luck,
        > Steve G.
        > >
        > >
        > > Steve, what is a chicken later pellet?
        > > Michael
        > >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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