Today’s podcast covers permaculture principle 2 “Catch and Store Energy”.
We have all heard the saying “make hay while the sun shines” and this applies most directly to keeping and raising animals. Animals are a kinetic form of energy capture, transforming the hay and grain and scraps we feed them into other forms of energy more desirable to us (like eggs, meat, milk).
Listen to the podcast for a more in depth discussion of this topic.
As promised, I am including photos of some of the kids that have arrived at our homestead this year!
Some of the babies had weak fetlocks so I brought them into the house to put splints on them. The splints stay on only a few days and have already been removed and all babies walk just fine.
While they were inside I had to control their mess so we put diapers on them. The babies didnt seem to mind the diapers much at all.
An apartment dweller with no outside space is not without choices. You could keep a single well loved rabbit. You would feel her well and have a cage for her that makes it easy for you to collect her droppings. Those droppings and possibly her fiber are her yield. Her input is the food you give her. Your job is three fold: figure out how much of your kitchen scraps are healthy for her and then key your scrap production to appropriate levels for her. If you have too much, get a composting system. If you have too little, supplement her diet. Your second task is to not waste her pellets but to use them in your windowsill food growing systems. Your third task, if this is a fiber producing rabbit, is to collect her fiber when the time is right and either sell it for a monetary yield or to barter. This is a small and tight loop. You can gain so much.
An owner of a small home in the urban or suburban environment with little outdoor space can duplicate the apartment strategy and also expand to the exterior. You can build a well fortified hen house with good sized run (fenced in outdoor space) for a couple of hens (never have a single chicken, they need a flock). You do not need a rooster unless you will be free ranging the girls, the rooster helps sound the alarm if there is danger. Your hens lay eggs quite well in the absence of those noisy roosters that can make your neighbors turn state’s evidence against you and rat you out to the authorities. More and more towns and cities are coming around to the backyard chicken side of the game. You can also have outdoor hutches with a good humane run for rabbits if you would like to add this to your system. Both of these animals will eat your kitchen scraps but the rabbits should not be getting your meat leftovers. Your chickens are amazing omnivores and will eat almost any leftover or scrap though you do not want to feed them raw potatoes or things that are moldy/rotten. All of the manure from the chickens and rabbits go into compost with organic yard waste until it is not so hot and then right into the garden to close the loop.
Owners of larger homes on larger plots of land in suburbs and exurbs will have more space but perhaps more restrictions imposed on them by zoning, homeowners associations and themselves/their upwardly mobile social class. These barriers can be easily surmounted if there is a will and some creativity. As any animal in a permaculture setting must be tightly controlled there should not be “unsightly” animal waste or animals themselves cruising about on the lawn. The homeowner would need to commit to fully organic lawncare so as to protect their animals and their food gardens. Animals such as chicken and rabbits can be held in attractive housing near and amongst food gardens made to look like part of the landscaping (easy to do!). This is not the setting for loud animals like goats. A third species, fish, can be easily integrated as aquaponics, especially if there is some greenhousing/protected garden space. Aquaponics is a wonderful permaculture activity that tightly links fish culture to growing plants (hydroponically or simply as liquid fertilizer) yielding delicious fish and fruits and vegetables.
The last example, house in a rural setting, is like the one I describe in the podcast, namely, our homestead. Listen to the podcast for more details!
We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4).
We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings.
We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.