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Today, in this fourth installment of the Ultimate Homestead Designing Guild Blog series, you and I are going to talk about Permaculture Principle 5-8 and how they can help you design your homestead! Let’s start with Principle 5 Utilizing the Power of the Earth!

Utilize the Power of the Earth

Principle 5 states that we should Use and Value Renewables. Nature has an abundance of renewable resources that we can make use of. We should prioritize those, and try to reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources.

I think before we get into a few examples for this principle we should first discuss the definition of renewables on the homestead. Your first thought may be of recycling our waste but that is actually the next principle. This principle has more to do with power that is renewable like Solar Power and the like. It also focuses more on the powers that you can utilize that are already on your homestead. Like horse power ( true neigh power) or chicken power and many more powers. The earth is full of them.

When we first thought about using this principle on our homestead we first thought of solar power too. But after researching the cost we decided to dig a little deeper than that. And found at least two to start out with!

Geothermal Greenhouse

If you have been listening or reading much here at the Red Ridge Farm then I am sure you have heard my story about my dream greenhouse. This green house is not like any other greenhouse I have seen on the market. And that is because it is called a Passive Solar Greenhouse and it uses two of earth’s powers to warm it; Solar and Geothermal. I will give you a brief description here but if you would like to learn all the details about this green house you need to check out two podcast episode where I go into greater detail; Episode 6, Season 5 How to Build a Solar Greenhouse On Your Homestead and Episode 2, Season 5 What is A Passive Solar Greenhouse.

Here is a quick description.

A Solar Greenhouse design tries to trap as much solar energy as possible with its southern exposure and insulated northern wall. The north wall is insulated to reduce heat loss at night and on cold days. Vents are placed strategically to promote natural ventilation to keep the greenhouse cool when needed. A thermal storage mass is added to help store the sun's energy, usually in the form of natural heat storing objects. Like large amounts of water in black barrels, and stone that naturally holds the sun’s heat during the day and then releases it at night. This is called passive solar energy. And what gives the solar greenhouse its name.

The advantage of passive solar heat is that it can be built right into a solar greenhouse. The passive design will use little maintenance, compared to conventional greenhouse systems often do.

Do see now why this would be my dream use of this principle!

Chicken Power

The next way that we use principle 5 on our homestead and that is with the use of chicken power. We use chickens for lots of things. The first is that we let the free range on the homestead in the early Spring and Fall to help control pests and insects in the garden and pastures. We also use them as little garbage disposals. Any scraps the pig doesn’t eat goes to the chickens. We also put their scratching power to work in the pasture spreading manure and if we want to develop a new spot for trees or beds we put the chickens to work eating and scratching up the grass and weeds.

Chickens are great on the homestead and give so much more than just eggs for breakfast!

Follow Your Waste Trail

Principle 6 is all about Produce No Waste. If we value all of the resources that we have available and use a bit of ingenuity, we can make sure that nothing goes to waste. I mentioned above that this is where you would find recycling but if you look at your homestead you will find more waste trails than you think. Waste is essentially anything that you have an abundance of beyond your use! Excess Zucchini! Excess Manure! Excess Rain! Excess Love! And so many more things but let's talk about these.

I hit on this topic a little when I mentioned runoff and directing its path. But what other things are considered waste on your homestead? How can you give this waste a purpose? Rain water running off your roof can be stored for a drought or to water animals where you don’t have a water source. Your kitchen and garden scraps can be fed to the compost piles, pigs, and chickens. I run a small dairy on our homestead which results in our wasted milk going to our pig that we raise. Let me tell you there is nothing like the taste of milk fattened pork. What about your animal waste? My garden loves the fact that now with the waste from our goats it receives a mountain of fresh compost every Fall and Spring. To learn more about how this amazing compost pile came about then check out this blog post and podcast episode!

But what about love! When we as growers share the over pouring love of Jesus through acts of kindness or in sharing our bounty with a neighbor or local food bank. We essentially share love. Love for our fellow neighbor, Love for the earth, and Love for God! I am sure you didn’t expect to hear this topic when we are talking about waste. But this brings us back to the three tenets of permaculture:

Care for the Earth

Care for the People

Fair Share

What greater way can we do all three of these than by sharing the Love of Jesus! Share your excess with the world, tell your story, and treat all with love!

Now if you would like to learn more about God then join my weekly in the Growing with God segment of my podcast episode. In this segment I read from the Bible and we discuss the meaning behind God’s words! Or you can check out my new Messages from the Barn series on Instagram where I share tidbits from each of those segments or the Growing God pages on my Website!

Follow God’s Patterns

Principle 7 is Design from Patterns to Details. Take a look at nature and society. You can usually observe patterns in things like how beehives are organized, the design on a snail shell, or other things to give inspiration for your designs.

Connection in Nature

This is another principle that involves connecting with God’s design. One classic example that we have already talked about is a food forest or permaculture orchard. Which I mentioned before but will go into more detail about when we discuss principle 11 in the next installment of this blog series. This is where you take examples from nature and build on them by exploiting their details.

Movement of Animals

One connection we made is that animals move with the season as well as with the abundance of forage. Animals just like us like to eat what they enjoy most and will leave unwanted forage too. So one thing we have started doing is rotational and mob grazing. I go into great detail about this topic in this blog post and podcast episode. But I will give you a quick example here.

A few years ago I noticed that our horses when left in our pasture would graze specific spots over and over again and essentially over-graze those areas. This resulted in a decrease of the best forage in the pasture because we did not take the horse's connection to the land too long. Grass has a natural life cycle and by leaving the horses in the pasture too long they were eating the grass again before the grass had time to replenish its root system which resulted in loss of plants. Animals in nature naturally move across the land and leave the areas that have been grazed to move on to better forage which results in giving the already eaten forage a chance to regrow. By switching to rotational grazing and following the natural connection animals have on the land when they are allowed to move on from an area we have now seen an increase in our grass instead of a decline.

Another connection we made is that animals in nature travel in mobs which results in a more even grazing of an area. When we rotational graze we also create smaller pastures to create greater concentration even though we only have a few animals.

Diversify Everywhere

Principle 8 is to Integrate Don’t Segregate. Permaculture is all about having things support each other and work together, instead of having everything exist as an island unto itself. By pairing different plants, livestock, and other objects together correctly, we can take advantage of relationships they can have with each other.

Raise Multiple Is The Same Area

Above I share about rotational and mob grazing but another aspect that can be followed is multi species grazing or care. One of the main reasons we got goats is because there is just some forage that horses will not eat no matter how much you want them to eat them. They just don’t like them. So by bringing in goats that do like them when they are still making sure that the weeds are eaten back just as evenly as the grass is. And what about birds?

Birds in nature are the natural sanitizer. We have started adding our meat and layer chicken into the rotation as well because they do two things; spread the fertilizer and eat fly larva. Your land and grass can benefit in so many ways when you bring diversity into the equation. Nature doesn’t segregate so why do you and I when it comes to growing?

Connect Benefits

Look around your homestead and look for connections that may result in benefit in other areas too. For example by having my chicken house and pig pen located directly in the center of my garden. The chickens, our pigs, and the garden can benefit each other. Or by having roses along the edge of my garden, I benefit myself with their beauty and attract bees to my garden. I am sure you can come with loads more!

I would love to hear them. Comment below with your ideas.

God’s Design is amazing and so is your connection with it. I want to thank you for joining me in today's post on Permaculture Principle 5-8. In the next installment of the Ultimate Homesteading Designing Guide blog series, we are going to talk about the last 4 principles and how you use them on your homestead design!

Have a blessed day,


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