Tag Archives: Permaculture

What I learned homesteading in rural Florida

front bed spring 2012
Front bed Spring 2012. Tatsoi and petunias flowering. Marigolds, peppers, and cauliflower in background.

In 2008 we set out on an experiment. How self-reliant could we be on 5 acres in the middle of no where in central Florida? Away from people, traffic, convenience. We previously only lived in cities, buying everything we needed and then some. To say I learned a lot is an understatement. This ever-growing list is an effort to remember and share this experience.

  1. Shooting stars are common away from the city’s light pollution.
  2. Wind blowing through a pine forest sounds like waves crashing on the beach.
  3. It’s impossible to do everything yourself and ungrateful to think so.
  4. Just because land is dry this month does not mean it will be next month.
  5. Surrounding natural beauty can be easy to take for granted when you live in it.
  6. Folks living in rural areas are not necessarily environmentalists.
  7. They can be just as scared of snakes and spiders as city people.
  8. And some think burning trash is “good for the environment.”
  9. But if you can forgo judgement, you can learn a lot from people with different values.
  10. Tree height is inversely proportional to precision when estimating where it will land when felled.
  11. Homesteading is romantic until you actually do it.
  12. Farming and gardening involve just as much death as life.
  13. Figuring out what to do with all that food can be more difficult than growing it.
  14. It takes five days to dig a 3x20x30′ pond by hand with 3 people.
  15. There is no such thing as too much compost.
  16. Sometimes enthusiasm should be curbed; starting small is easier than failing big.
  17. There is nothing magical about permaculture.
  18. Over-planning can be just as problematic as not planning at all.
  19. Plans are not so useful for developing an exact recipe for action but more for thinking a process through.
  20. The human element is often the weakest and most unpredictable link.
  21. Never forget the element of time when designing.
  22. A system that requires constant intervention has compounding energy cost over time.
  23. Having livestock is a lot like having kids.
  24. Most mothers do not need assistance birthing.
  25. Play is common among juveniles of many species.
  26. Chickens are unique, even emotional. If you spend enough time with them you can tell them apart by their behavior.
  27. “Chicken wire” is not meant for chicken coops.
  28. A determined raccoon is very clever. They can open doors and work in teams. Given enough time, there is no such thing as a 100% raccoon-proof coop.
  29. Diurnal predators can be just as deadly as nocturnal ones.
  30. Cheap fossil fuels make manual labor exponentially easier and less time-consuming.
  31. Self-reliance is less about where you are and more about how you give and take.