Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Inspiration at the Permaculture Design Course

First off, the pair of mallards came back for a visit (read: they came back for more mulberries) How exciting!

Many of you local readers know me as the chicken lady, as I'm the person who has been teaching the majority of classes on raising backyard chickens in the Phoenix area for the past several years. For those that don't know, I've been lucky enough to teach the "regular" chicken classes for the Valley Permaculture Alliance (formerly known as the Phoenix Permaculture Guild) and also the animal part of the Permaculture Design Course. It's always a blast to teach people who are so interested in becoming active participants in a positive and more complete relationship with their environment. This year I had the privilege of teaching at the VPA's newest version of the Permaculture Design Course being headed by Toby Hemenway (author of Gaia's Garden), that felt like kind of a big deal. I followed Toby and after my presentation was an amazing talk about seed saving by Bill McDorman, formerly of Seeds Trust, now the Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson. Also teaching, though not on the day I taught, was Brad Lancaster (of water harvesting fame). All of these people are accomplished and well-respected in this field, and I realized that they all live in Arizona. With all of the crazy press AZ gets over our often idiotic state government amongst other things, it's really inspiring that we have such vibrant permaculture, sustainability and service-oriented communities. I won't bore you with long lists of local groups and their accomplishments, but the list is long and the membership in these communities is in the tens of thousands. It makes me want to try even harder to learn, experiment and share more with my community. Maybe someday the headlines about Crazy AZ will take a backseat to the eco/forward-thinking powerhouse we could become? We have a little ways to go to catch up to parts of the Pacific Northwest for example... but the solar cooking's better out here. ;)

Monday, April 18, 2011


Over the years I have made a lot of bird friends. I don't mean people who also like birds, I mean birds. Most of them are ones that I've saved but every once in awhile a bird shows up and decides to spend 15 minutes or an hour with me and these are some of my favorite memories.

Last night I was picking mulberries from the tree over our driveway (I know, not the greatest place for a tree that makes a HUGE mess for 3 weeks a year, but that's where the birds planted it.) and my husband saw these guys fly our way...

Introducing Cowboy and Kickass

They hung around in the street for a few minutes and then wandered towards us. It turns out mallards like mulberries. I fed them berry after berry, 15 minutes or more later they followed me up the driveway and into the backyard. I didn't want them to get sick from eating too many berries so I switched to sprouted bread. They wandered around our backyard for a long time and we just sat there and watched until finally it was getting pretty dark (way too dark for photos) and they both stood up as tall as they could like little antennas and flew off together. It made my week.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Blog-- The Integrated Tiny House

This is a new blog about a project I'm hoping to embark on. I know there are currently people building very sustainable "normal-sized" houses, there is a growing awareness of permaculture and a small (no pun intended) tiny house movement, I'd like to combine all three and build:

The Integrated Tiny House

I'll need to do a little fundraising to get the project off the ground, but once it gets a little momentum I believe I have all of the resources to accomplish a proof-of-concept house. This would not just be intended to be a one-shot house for one family to live in, but would also serve as a teaching institution about the different processes involved in the structure and surrounding landscape.