Digging the first swale in 2006.
2007. First year’s garden after our Permaculture design implementation began.
The garden in August of 2013.
It now includes ducks, chickens, honeybee hives, annual and perennial food crops, 20 fruit trees, berries, grapes, fruit-bearing shrubs, medicinal herbs, dye and cordage plants, 3000 gallons of rainwater catchment, a rainwater-fed pond-to-garden system, a greywater-fed garden (left of the pathway), prolific backyard composting operation and an operating greenhouse built with 95% recycled materials. All on a 6000 square foot lot with a 1200 square foot house and a five minute walk to downtown. Urban Permaculture!
We’ve just weathered the FIRST storm of the season and it’s January 26th. Our area got up to 4 inches of rain in just a few days. Luckily, our rainwater catchment tanks were down to 700 gallons. That amount came from the only other bit of rain we’ve had this Winter which was months ago. We let the first day if this storm’s rain rinse off the roof then turned the valve and sent all that glorious water to our tanks.
We’ve got two 1350 gallon water tanks and a 150 gallon stock tank (duck pond). The first night of the storm brought us the remaining 2000 gallons we needed and the rest came out of the overflow pipe to flush the duck pond. It rained for two or three more days and we now have a VERY clean pond! The fish are happy, the ducks are happy, we’re happy. You get the picture.
We need more tanks!
Our tanks come from Tank Depot. We order online and have them delivered to our driveway. They are lightweight and if you have the clearance you can just roll them into place. We have them on base rock platforms framed with rot-resistant wood.
The duck pond stock tank was purchased on Craigslist. It’s the Rubbermaid brand. Whenever possible we buy things used but you can find these tanks at any good feed store.
Remember- The problem is the solution. We used to have big issues with water around our house foundation. Now, we don’t and we also save money on water for our livestock and gardens.
Rainwater is precious. It does not belong in a storm drain. Catch it, slow it, sink it.
Well… it has certainly been a while!
We’ve added a second 1350 gallon rainwater tank and a 150 gallon duck pond. The rainwater tanks and the pond are full and the rain is still coming down!
We collect our rainwater off of our asphalt shingle roof so we had some concerns about asphalt residue, fungicides, etc. ending up in the rainwater we collected. Brad Landcaster mentions in his rainwater harvesting book the idea that asphalt roofs might leach only when it’s hot out and not when it’s raining in the winter. We were still unsure. So, we filled the new duck pond and put a dozen goldfish in to see if they would live or die. Not a single fish died! The ducks love bathing and swimming in their new pond (really just a 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank). They poop while they frolic and the fish eat the poop. It’s an idea we read about in Bill Mollison’s big permaculture manual.
The pond does not have a pump or filter. The rainwater tanks gravity feed water to the pond through a hose. The pond has it’s own hose out a spigot at the bottom which we use to water the garden (also gravity fed). The pond water contains nutrients from both the duck and the fish poop. Everyone and everything benefits. The rainwater tank overflow fills the swales in the garden and sinks the water on site for future use. As we drain the pond to the garden we refill it with the fresh rainwater. The system actually works. Amazing.
So, back to the case of the “sneaky chicken”….
The ducks got a new duck house to go with their pond and I guess the chickens got envious. One morning not long after the new duck house was set up I did my usual morning rounds. I opened the duck house door and the they all came piling out. A few seconds later out came a chicken! I could not figure out why one duck would not go in the night before. Well, there are four ducks and four nest boxes. I guess she had gone in there and found her nest box occupied and came back out refusing to share with the likes of a chicken. I kind of felt bad since I had physically picked her up and shoved her in there not knowing the whole story. So, out came the chicken who immediately ran over to the chicken coop and begged to be let back in. She has not flown the coop since.