Episode-1318- Lessons and Stories from Permaculture Voices — 55 Comments

  1. Bob wells i THAT small? I never would have thought that. The nurseries around here….. sheesh they’re like mega nurserys. They’re scars on the landscape.

    But starting a nursery…. the more and more I go along, the more I’m going “yup, I think that’s my first calling”. Yesterday we put in the ground two white currants I got from Burnt Ridge Nursery. I pruned one beacuse it was taller than I wanted (for planting) and was starting to throw the twigs into the pile of twigs I’ve cut from apples and what not. I stopped myself and was like WAIT A MINUTE… I’m about to throw away 2 brand new white currants that I could be growing….. Instantly went into rooting hormone and in a pot.

  2. Agreed on all points. It was a great time. Diego did a great job. I spent 2 days at a seminar on a small farm in Valley Center, CA with Mark Shepard before Voices. He knows his xxxx. I think that you two would get along famously. From what I gather, he is former Force Recon.

    I will also be on a plane again tomorrow. Safe travels.

  3. “There is a business. Now go build it!” Thanks for the inspiration Jack. I’ll be working on it now. Anybody in Seattle or Puget Sound want to do this too?

  4. The Death Triangle. The only other person I’ve heard this from is my grandfather when I was 7. He was a cattle rancher.

    The lanky legs on cattle are akin to small paws on a dog. They are an indication of class (or the the lack of) and their ability to put on weight. Cattle with skinny legs usually put on a lot of gut but no meat. It reflects poorly at the scale.

  5. Thank you for giving us a great review of your time at “Permaculture Voices”. I couldn’t make it, but felt very informed from today’s show. Sorry you and Dorothy had a “show down” in the airport! Airports can be quite hostile (not always)…but you guys were in an airport in CA, yikes. Double trouble! hahaha

    California REALLY needs a permaculture shift. 🙂

  6. Wow Jack, Great podcast! This maybe the best I have heard in a while and the podcasts are getting better. I am going to have to listen to this one again. Keep talking about permiculture! I am planing to do Geoff’s Online PDC. I hope we are getting a discount because I am selling guns to fund it.

  7. Jack will you be making your presentation available for us or do we need to buy it from Diego. I’m fine either way just curious. Thanks.

  8. Every one that went to Judys lecture on cattle came out an expert on the Death Triangle. Logically many of these people went to Adam Klaus’ lecture on small farm dairy.

    Many of his cows displayed the Death Triangle, and all of us brand new “experts” immediately noticed it. Someone even asked him about it, he claimed it was bad lighting. His dairy cows definitely had the death triangle.

    My question : Does this indicator of gut fill not apply to a dairy cow?

  9. I fully agree with your critiques of voices. I fully support Diego and what he is trying to do but felt like the substantial investment in ticket, plane ticket, hotel and rental car could of been better spent. The best analogy would be on day one I showed up with a legal pad ready to fill it up with notes from the knowledgable experts, day two was a small notepad for notes, day three and four I didn’t even bring a pen.

  10. Thank you so much. Maybe next year I will be well enough to travel. This was so awesome I felt like I was there! I loved all the recaps you gave. Once again you answered or firmed up questions and ideas I have had. All on perfect timing for where we are at. Love how that works.

    The Backyard Nursery info from Mike McGroarty is excellent. I have most of his stuff and he really does take you step by step by step on what/ when/ how to do. From set up to growing to marketing. The info is easily transferable to other things as well. He is not personally answering as many questions as he has in the past but with the info he sells I don’t think there really are many questions. Should you have them you can join in the Growers Board. No experience there so can’t speak to that. I really don’t think I have come across a how to that was this informative. No I don’t get kick backs LOL.

    Thanks again

    • Roundabouts, I was at Backyardgrowers the other day. Jack has already posted looking for some unusual berry plants. I’m a member there as well.

      Jason Elliott

  11. I’d say right on all points. Mark Shepard has a video on YouTube that shows the level of intensity of his presentations. I knew nothing of Greg Judy before PV, but it seemed impossible to keep up with his lectures as there were too many amazing nuggets to jot down in my notes. That’s why I’m thankful Diego recorded everything. Like I told him Saturday, the 110 hours of video he’ll be offering would easily fetch over $600 as a DVD set.
    I would have to say the best lecture was the soilfoodweb one. I’d easily give $300 for a copy of it alone.
    It was an honor to finally meet you, Jack. Sorry I didn’t get to spend more time at the get togethers, I had some family issues going on at home that I had to take care of.

  12. Just gotta tell you Jack – when I heard your [minor] rant about the CA food safety code regulations in the SD Airport I had to laugh. I was just eating at a restaurant here in Austin Tx and ran into the same “regulation.” Friend I was with brought in some food from elsewhere and was told that Texas food safety regulations don’t allow outside food. The “prohibition” was even posted on the menu. (Something like “We’re sorry but xxx regulation does not permit outside food to be brought into this establishment.”) I don’t have time to look up the code so I don’t know if it is an Austin city reg or a Texas reg …. or one made up by the restaurant.

    • My God they are everywhere! And so folks tell me how any good comes from government when they have now gone this far!

    • For a government rant, Jack get this. The city of phoenix and most cities require an amusement license for any pinball machines or arcade machines publicly operated…. I literally need a license to be amused….

    • Not surprised. It seems to me that Texas is the “big gubnit” of the “South” or rather for “republicans” (hence why republicans talk about it being a bastion for liberty meanwhile the capital is Austin…..)

      I’d be surprised if that regulation was here in Louisiana, considering you can walk around most anywhere while drinking mix drinks. I mean all you gotta do is go to Bourban street where you can pizza/daquiri bar crawl all over the place like a free man (if that’s what tickles your fancy). I mean I know for a fact you can walk around and bring food around in the airport because I’m pretty sure I’ve already done it. But even then, could be a regulation, nobody cares.

  13. If I had a bunch of cockrels I had to figure out how to make a profit on I might experiment with capons.

    With today’s foodie culture there might be a potential untapped high end market for US grown capons.

    • I know what a capon is, I am not sure exactly how you “git er done”, how the hell do you castrate a chick? I mean a steer is pretty easy to do. How old are they when you do this? I mean a roosters balls are not very noticeable let alone a chicks.

      • Usually between 6 weeks to 3 months.

        Its not at all like castrating a mammal and requires a bit of minor surgery.

        Basically you make an incision between the last two ribs find the testes with a pair of forceps and cut them off then sew up the wound.

        This link explains the process and has some excellent photos.

        The University of North Texas also has a digital copy of the USDA farmers bulletin on capons for view for free.

        Anyway this is why I love the fiefdom concept. A farmer doesn’t have to learn a ton of specilized skills in order to produce a diverse product base.

        He can have one guy who does capons, a guy who makes cheese, a beer guy, ect.


        • I dont know if I can cut open an alive animal and rip its testis out with out anesthesia.

  14. Did Mark Shepard talk about how he sub-leases his land to others? I have been looking into what Marks been doing for over a year now, read his book 3 times, watched, listened and read every interview I could get a hold of. I just cant seem to get a clear picture of what he manages as a individual and what he sub-leases out to other. I liked everything you had to say great points!! On the OPL do you think that a owner of a large peace of land that installs a system like Marks, could then Sub-lease a grazing operation to a young farmer whereas the owner would take responsibility for the crops and trees and the sub-leaser would run his own mob grazing operation through the system, that would be 100% his, he would just have to pay rent(apply this to other operations as well). Thank you great podcast!! Mark is the reason I just went into contract for a 70 acre farm. I am just worried about as an individual what I can manage and what responsibilities I will have to delegate out to employees or sub-owners.

  15. Mark Shepard is coming to my area in May/June…so if u r in Illinois go to his site and in the events section u can learn more.

    Great ideas Jack.

  16. Jack, I looked back through the info. Do you have a link to vid from the guy who is growing cuttings in the raised bed? If it’s there I missed it. Thanks

  17. This is the guy, he sells his info.

    So clearly I can’t give away what he sells. I like what I see so far, they do try to up sell you to a private members area, but I have to say even though it is expensive if you are serious it seems worth it.

    • I’m a member there ( and I believe that it is very worth it, having my own backyard nursery is an endeavor that I am pursuing and I plan on growing plants to be used in permaculture appliactions. Sometimes they have a trial period where you can test drive the “Members Only Area”. That might be an option for you if you aren’t ready to go whole hog so to speak.

    • Thanks, I didn’t expect you to give away the vid. I dont mind paying for good info. PDC’s are “expensive” too 🙂

    • Jack,

      Mark Shepard came to Ames, Iowa this winter and put on a 10-hour short course…price of admission = $50! Thanks to Practical Farmers of Iowa ( I posted this info on the TSP forum. Best $50 I’ve spent on permaculture-related education.


  18. Regarding swales on terraced land (or “on a contour”), I was a soils inspector in my younger days so I’ve seen bad things happen. Jack is correct in saying that using “swales on a contour” depends on your exact situation. I can tell you exactly what the WRONG situation would be: a dry, sandy soil or dry silty sand soil on a steep incline.

    Why is this a problem?

    If you have standing water on a slope, it is heavy. Water weighs a little over 62 pounds per cubic foot. That weight will exert a downward pressure extending out like a cone at 45 degrees. The water will also percolate through the soil, adding its weight to the top-most portions of the soil before it reaches the drier lower portions.

    This all makes sense, so what is the problem?

    Sandy soils are less cohesive (sticky), especially when dry. Wet, sandy soil sitting on top of dry sandy soil tends to slough off during a heavy rain or when some guy cuts several swales into a steep, sandy slope and lets water accumulate there. This is what happens in Southern California when you read about mud-slides after a heavy rain.

    I am guessing that this happens less often in rainy areas where water has had years and years to percolate down into silty soils. There just isn’t that much difference created between layers when it rains so you get less sloughing off of the upper soils.

    Terracing will obviously help as long as you keep any standing water away from the edge of the terrace.

    So… without giving any specific advice, I’m saying that if you have a steep, DRY slope and you keep pouring water into it, if that water does not percolate down evenly and into the right kind of soil it’s going to become a problem. If nothing is at the bottom of the slope then it will be a messy problem and a set back but not much more than that. BUT if you build that little “cottage for two” at the bottom of the slope, then it may become a “cottage for one” or “none” when that wall of mud comes barreling through the backdoor.

    How can you mitigate this issue?

    Use deep-rooted plants on the slope like small trees and bushes and then WATCH THEM. If the plants start to tip over a little, then you know the slope is moving and placing pressure on them. Whatever you do, don’t use that so-called “ice plant” stuff you see growing on the slopes of every government highway (See: carpobrotus edulis for this evil little monster). They will tell you it clings to the slope like a mat and it does do that. They will tell you that it keeps the slope from sloughing off and it doesn’t do that. It adds weight to the slope and holds the water near the surface. It’s roots are too shallow and it is a nuance. Only government projects would think this plant made any sense for slope plantings.

    Once again: I’m talking about steep contours like 2 to 1 slopes or steeper. Not gently rolling meadows. OK?


    One more thing: If a soils engineer says I’m full of crap, then I’m full of crap. Listen to him and not to me. That’s what I would do. Soils engineering is still a black art practiced by individuals with more courage than sense. Even so, they are the experts and I would trust them over my own judgement. HOWEVER, they may hand you a line of BS just to get you to do what they want you to do if they think you are an idiot. That is fine. Forgive them and do what they say anyway or get a second expert opinion.


    “Silty sand” means soil containing more sand than silt.

    “Steep incline” means something steeper than a 2 to 1 slope and maybe even a 2 to 1 slope.

    “2 to 1 slope” means that for every two feet you go horizontally, you rise by one foot in elevation.


    • After all that I will say “it depends”. Sandy soil, really sandy is very well drained. Swales in such soil hold very little water for long, they infiltrate the water and well if you are swaling you are planting lots of trees too. So it really depends.

    • Agreed. It really does “depend”.

      Here in Austin, Texas many slopes are supported by solid rock underneath so it won’t matter how steep the slope is. It’s not going much of anywhere. But I once lived in Southern California which is largely desert. When they get a heavy rain it can cause real problems on the slopes.

      So… all I can give is a general response. Local issues are dependent on conditions so look for local experts who understand the local problems. I’ve seen soils conditions change radically within a few miles.

      Of course, none of my caution applies to gentle contours so I suppose it also depends on what a person means by a “contour.”

      I worry that I am being too negative. I was trained to look for what can go wrong and not what can go right so temper what I say in that light.


      • The solution there, gabions! They will create terraces over time, stop erosion, etc.

  19. Jack great podcast.

    If anyone wants to read Mark Shepard’s book, I recommend utilizing the index at the end. This should help you skip the same critique Jack was mentioning about speakers essentially preaching to the choir.

    Please for love of frank, anyone out there wishing to right a book about agricultural designs or methods SHORTEN the WHAT IS WRONG with INDUSTRIAL AG crap to a SMALL SECTION!

    Instead try focusing on the SOLUTIONS! If I want to read about industrial farming and their evils there are tons pf books written on the subject for far less than thirty or forty bucks.

  20. Hugelkultur on contour note. First great podcast and I agree with what you said, but worry that what you said could be taken the wrong way. This topic was mentioned on one of Paul Wheaton’s podcast in a discussion with Geoff Lawton, so tell me if you think I understand it correctly.

    Yes, since Sepp is terracing, everything he puts on those terraces are on contour or darn close, but in cold climates like Sepp’s, I would think you don’t want to put the Hugels even on what would be contour as that would trap both water and cold air coming down the hill and create a frost zone. Geoff said something like, “swales capture water, but Hugels capture water and cold air”.

    The reason I mention this is I want to convert a pine forest in PA to a food forest and thought I would just drop trees on contour to create Hugels, but now I think they should be Hugel areas, not real Hugel mounds. ie don’t make the mounds too high or they will capture the cold air that pours down the hill and that is the one thing that you may want to let go by.

    • If you just leave breaks in the hugel mounds the cold air will continue downslope through them.

    • I imagine if it is true that all one need do is to leave a space for the cold air to continue down slope, one could do the same thing by setting out a tarp or clear plastic sheet up slope and drape it over the area of concern to allow any cold air to flow OVER and PAST the mounds or .


  21. when the DVD comes out please have meetups showing the dvd!!! i will pay to watch the dvd with you guys!

  22. I am so freakin inspired by that $72000 idea that I can’t even express it. I knew that the possibility had to be out there and now I see a ghost of a path that I might follow. Great show! I will be listening to this one again.

  23. Hey Jack, its six days until registration starts for Geoff’s PDC. Are you going to have an MSB discount again this year?

  24. So this was an interesting podcast with many upbeat sounding parts.

    I was listening in bed and was almost dozed off when I got to the part where Jack says everyone is basically selfish and then predicts he’s going to get all this email and comments. I thought to myself, I am too busy right now and would not say anything nasty anyway. It is true people are selfish in many ways, but it doesn’t seem good to think that way too much. I recall Yogananda said how important loyalty is as it applies to family or spouse. I also thought of the bible verse where Jesus says “he who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”. I had debated about that with a christian friend once about what it means ..

    Anyway, I think I fell asleep right after that. Some hours later I had a dream. This dream had a number of strange parts but seemed connected to the podcast. First I saw a small guy, he seemed cool but he was nearly a midget. The midget showed me that even though he was tiny, if you where not watching what he was doing he could do very some very mischievous things. Then I saw a more average man, he had large imposing muscles and seemed threatening. Then I saw a huge man with giant muscles who seemed very scary. He was so large he could hardly move and the midget was able to sneak up behind him. None of these men had shirts on. Then I saw a disturbing image of death that I won’t go into in detail as it was kind of nightmare quality and morbid in many ways. It seemed like there was some connection where the men represented the physical but the later part was showing the transient nature of existence. I awoke and put the bible on my IPod and heard a deer make one of those strange snorting sounds out in the woods.

    • I never said people were selfish, I said they acted in their own self interest.

      • I may have been half asleep and lost some of the context or exact word at that point in the podcast.

        Weird thing is a friend of mine called from Maine and said she had a dream I was in trouble and was yelling in her sleep and woke people up in the house. This was the exact same night when I had my dream. She wondered if the moon was in a weird phase. Her daughter who is in North Carolina had a dream that night of a horse head that was dismembered from it’s body and was talking or something. That has similarities to parts of the dream I had. She didn’t want to tell me as she was afraid to freak me out but her daughter told her she should tell me.

        I had some tough interviews and am trying to find a job, spring has been a long time coming and there has been some podcasts on geoengineering that I found a little disturbing. I have cut back on listening to AJ but am probably going to cut back even more. I go through a phase frome time to time like that .. but those factors may have also played into it.

  25. Hi Jack, I’ve heard of you, but wasn’t interested in the “survivalist” aspect. Too Pollyanna, I guess, or maybe ostrich w/head in the sand. However, I have to say that you are just a lovely, lovely speaker. Very passionate. I’m a permaculture addict, and was dying to go to the conference. I’ve listened to several people recap the conference, and it sounds like what I was already thinking. If you’re very familiar with all the biggies’ work, you probably wouldn’t hear much that’s new, but the networking opportunities would be amazing. Out of everyone, Greg Judy is my favorite! So inspiring. Anyway, thanks for the permaculture fix. Can’t get enough.

    • Thanks Laura. Let me say it is very hard for me to understand though how anyone that gets permaculture doesn’t get the need for basic preparedness.

      Let me tell you that you are and I mean absolutely are a survivalist.

      Survive – continue to live

      ist – denotes one who specializes

      Hence a survivalist specializes in continuing to live. If you would take any action to preserve your life and think about how to do so, you are a survivalist. Don’t let the nonsense the media has painted about basic preparedness fool you, listen more, I bet 9 out of 10 shows will be something you really enjoy.

  26. Thanks Jack — you got me off the dime to join MSB with this one.

    RE: running workshops and doing combined marketing of nursery product, Raintree Nursery in Morton WA does something like that, see:
    I signed up for one of these and missed it, need to try to get there in April! They suggest to come with a site map and work design with you.. and of course, they are a nursery so I’m sure they’d be happy to send you home with a ‘start’ on executing your design.

    I’m searching for property in Lewis County, where Raintree Nursery is, all the more reason for me to make the connection. If someone out there has the capital or credit, in my searches for property in the area, I discovered that the nursery is for sale:

    I sure hope someone who cares about permaculture buys it! It’s a lovely location and I take Lewis Counts as “the redoubt of Western Washington.” For the record, my only interest is as a prospective customer, I haven’t even been out there or ordered from them yet.