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     Greetings and Salutations. First off, I must thank all of my friends who helped us to get to July intact, at moerkaats urging in the comments of my last diary...We recieved almost $1400 dollars, which was sufficent to get  into July. Having no coin of the realm to pay them back, I have decided to try to return their largesse with the only "coin" available to me, information. Accordingly, this will be the first of several diaries about sustainability, from a small farm point of view. A summary of the current state of my farm, and what our options are at this time will appear at the end, for those that choose to read that far.

      Sustainability has become the newest buzzword, and seems to enjoy usage across the spectrum, from greens, to corporate press releases. and like all buzzwords, will shortly disappear from the lexicon, both from over-use and under-definition. Like many words that achieve this particular status, it seems to have almost as many meanings as it does advocates. Accordingly, I will define it for my purposes here, and hope that my definition sufficently meshes with yours to be sensible.

     In my lexicon, physical sustainability refers to systems, or groupings of systems which can be operated over the long term with no degradation of the systems, although individual components may suffer degradation. additionally, physically sustainable systems must, at the very least, be energetically and environmentally neutral or benign (although, one would hope that they show a net positive activity in both dimensions). My definition is system based, as I can see no way to examine the sustainabilty of a single component or device, without the context of the system it is being utilized in.

     Likewise, there is a flip side to sustainability, one which gets the greater amount of thought at the moment, as it is much more intimately related to politics, and the short term return viewpoint which has become the de facto law of the land...Financial Sustainability is much more chimeric in it's definition, which for my purposes I take as: a system which provides a clear and definable profit over the long term, with clearly defined return on financial investment, and no periods of negative return in the short term. Unfortunately, that definition is patently absurd by any standards I am familar with, given that the socio-politico-economic factors that the system must perform in are not subject to any bounds that are applicible to the system we are working with.

        Hopefully some-one smarter than I can come up with a better definition, one that is applicable to the systems I am describing, describing the real world, but at least marginally comprehensible. I use this definition in the meantime, as it is what is required of small farms at the present time, and thus useful in that context.

      As readers of my previous diaries have probably surmised, I don't understand financial sustainability, and am not going to try to speak of it, except as it pertains to the examples I use. My concentration and efforts are directed to physical sustainability, and that is what I was trying to develop and maintain on my farm. For purposes of discussion, I have divided the farm up into various subsystems, all of which are related and interracting with each other in the real world, but which can be seen as acting independantly (ie) each subsystem as enacted or planned, utilizes each other system as a source or sink of materials and or energy, with the net export of the system (farm) as a holistic entity being foodstuffs (cheese, eggs, vegetables), raw materials (wool, wood, compost), and energy (electricity, gaseous and liquid fuels). The subsystems I will examine in future diaries will be Heating and cooling, electricity and fuels, goats and sheep, vegetable products, fowl, and cooperatives (extending the system).

       When we first came to this location in 2002, our goal was to build a farm that would be productive (although the land was deemed to have little or no potential for commercial agriculture), environmentally sound,  and sustainable (although we didn't use that word back then). We had as our examples Salitin, Rodale, and the New Alchemists. Over the past four years, our aims have broadened, as our financial means diminished, and this provided a potent training in the difference between financial and physical sustainability, and how they can diverge. the optimal herd size for a piece of property is determined by available feed (hay, grain, and pasture), and all of these ideally would be determined by the land, environment, product requirements and labor resources, instead, in a situation analagous to the current health insurance system, they are determined  (indirectly) by people in suits who have often never set foot on a farm. Likewise energy systems are determined on a one size fits all basis, and choosing the correct one for your operation becomes a question of "how much green can you afford", and the repercussions can exceed the scope of immediate finance and applicability.As an example, I was recently refused a refinancing package, because my furnace is outside my house.


      Currently, we are told that we will be lucky to keep the farm, this even though sales of wood furnaces and sustainable energy systems are up and increasing. We have been rejected by 6+ underwriters (and 3 brokers have given up), for reasons like "non standard heating system" and "unique property"...according to brokers and lawyers in the area, we have the following options available to us. After all the activity with these mortgage companies, my credit is effectively destroyed, having dropped 130 points to 545, and preventing any additional moves in the direction of refinancing.

Option 1: Close the farm and the sustainable energy company, get jobs paying a minimum of 100K, and they will defer principle payments for several months...this option is from the "agricultural" lender that currently holds our mortgage. They will not consider a refinancing, and will not allow us access to the equity in our property (150K+ according to an appraisal) to restructure our debt...this option requires us to sell all animals immediately, and come up with 11-12K within a week.

Option 2:Declare bankruptcy--pretty much as above, but we only need to raise 2500 this week, plus complete destruction of our credit.

Option 3:Raise 15-16K by july 15th, with 5K raised before thursday of this week, without tapping into the operating funds of the farm or business, use this money to pay off the most aggressive creditors, and bring us up under 10 days for all other accounts, vastly curtail the development of the farm, and the business, cutting out all maintence, and non-essential expenses...reduce all herds to bare breeding stock, stop development of the coop, get second and third jobs and "hope the horse learns to sing"

Option 4: Allow the lender to sell the house/farm, get rid of all the animals, and move to a city, try to get a job in computer science or biochemistry or system engineering after being out of the job market for several years.

Option 5: find someone willing to help us obtain a mortgage, or hold a mortgage for us, on the basis of our 15 years of perfect credit and 3 mortgages paid off, rather than the last 30 days of aberrant activity...unfortunately this isn't much of an option, as my fairy godmother has (obviously) had her employment terminated.

      All of the above options require that we stop development of the coop we are trying to form, and all development we are/will be doing in sustainable energy ahnd sustainable systems.

Originally posted to farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 10:47 AM PDT.


which option should farmerchuck persue

16%2 votes
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75%9 votes
8%1 votes

| 12 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  karma...the final frontier: (23+ / 0-)

    because when money isn't, you need that shoulder more than ever....

    and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

    by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 10:42:38 AM PDT

  •  I'm stepping out into the heat wave (9+ / 0-)

    for a bit, as putting up fence helps me clear my head...looks like a slow response day here, so will reply to all comments upon my return.

    and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

    by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 10:55:04 AM PDT

  •  I don't want to say one way or the other (7+ / 0-)

    as there may be someone much more knowledge than I who comes in with a viable alternative for you.

    But, you surely know, you mustn't let the farm go without a fight.

    You may have to hunker down for the foreseeable future and "plod along" until we can get some changes in place.

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:02:16 AM PDT

  •  imho I would, as long as you can protect (8+ / 0-)

    the farm and the breeding stock, ck with a bankruptcy attorney and start from scratch.

    As soon as the bankruptcy is filed let alone granted you will be deluged with credit offers.

    If it were me, the only choices would be those that saved the farm as I really don't think I could return to city life and remain sane.

    Good luck and I hope that whatever you choose the end results are good. We need more small farmers like yourself, not less.

    "every saint has a past, every sinner has a future" Oscar Wilde

    by buddabelly on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:24:44 AM PDT

  •  yikes (5+ / 0-)

    my immediate reaction: declare bankruptcy AND get off farm jobs.

    but hang onto the property.

    or ... sell and move to Arkansas or eastern Oklahoma, and start it all over again.


    in short, your options aren't very good. and even here, where the cost of living is way low (but jobs hard to find and don't pay well), most people work off the farm.

    and - even here - it's hard. eg, one of my best friends was a certified organic farmer - until she broke her ankle.

    but i think you would find a much better support system someplace like this and, even with the dearth of jobs, more options.

    even though i hate to tell you that.

    what does farmerterri think? is her outlook as bleak as yours?

    •  no she's under a lot of stress (3+ / 0-)

      and like me is not optimistic, but I wouldn't say we have given up...sorry for the bleakness of the options, but when you wittle thru the weasel words that the banks use, that is what they are presenting to us. Since I was laid off, the sustainable energy gig WAS my off farm job. and the job options around here are VERY limited. The biggest problem with the bankruptcy angle is I would lose/have to close that business. But don't worry, we take a lickin, but keep on tickin.

      and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

      by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:42:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  so (4+ / 0-)

        is there no option of continuing the sustainable energy business? could you reorganize it?

        yeesh. and some people actually wonder why, every year, my plans here get a little bit smaller. eg, instead of buying solar panels, i'm caulking like crazy.

        as for jobs, oh yea, i understand! i'd given myself until August 1st to find reasonable employment. and i am now employed - or will be, come mid-August - fulltime, but whether it's actually reasonable in terms of continuing my plans here is a bit questionable.

        that's the unfrtunate state of things. i know some people who manage to do it fulltime, but they got set up a long time ago. but the majority are doing other gigs, as well.

        it's like this: i want a nice jersey cow so badly! have wanted one for a few years. but to get a nice jersey, i'd need a new barn. i'd also need to do several thousand dollars worth of fence fixing. and i would need to have no work to bring home - iow, i would need to have no grading (which isn't going to happen), no lesson planning (which is't going to happen) and no other obligations which require extensive work at the computer or extensive time away from home (which isn't going to happen).

        therefore, my dream of a nice milkcow keep getting put off. now, when the day comes i have about $8,000 extra to put up a new barn and fix the fencing and buy the nice milk cow AND no obligations which would require late nights which make it difficult for me to get up at 5-6 a.m., etc., i'll get a nice milkcow.

        but that day, thanks to the times we live in, is getting further and further away.

  •  Fairy Godmothers Do Exist - (6+ / 0-)

    But they are frightfully busy these days.

    I'll talk to the ones I know and see if someone can spare a wave of the wand.

    Keep the Faith, Farmerchuck. It's not over til the fat lady sings and she's not nearly ready for her encore.

    (tip: double space your paragraphs so more people will read the whole thing - cheap advice from your favorite online editor)

    I'm the person your mother warned you about.

    by Unique Material on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:39:29 AM PDT

  •  What is the projected net income for 1-2 years (4+ / 0-)

    if you were to get a short term loan (from a third party) to hold off creditors?  What amount would be needed as a loan for the next year or so to pay off the s-t creditors and keep the farm going?  Ie. Based on projected earnings, could the farm "turn itself around" in the next couple of years (but for the impending collection proceedings)?

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:43:17 AM PDT

    •  the farm alone couldn't (4+ / 0-)

      not with the mortgage rate what it is (9%) and going up (9.5% in july)....excepting the mortgage the farm definitely could show profit in that time period. The farm and the side business together could unequivically show a profit in one year even with the current mortgage rate, but the short term debt and immediate claims will prevent that. the s-t debt stands at about 40K, and the monthly maintenance on it is about 2K, not including late payments.

      and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

      by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:50:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I was trying to ask if you could get a loan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        on which payments would be deferred for [two] years, would that be 1) sufficient to hold off current creditors, and 2) a loan which could likely be paid down starting in approximately two years (but not a balloon payment due in two years.)
         Such a loan would approximately replace existing s-t debt, but would defer payments for another 1-2 years.

        My Karma just ran over your Dogma

        by FoundingFatherDAR on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 12:30:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sounds very much like a debt restructuring (0+ / 0-)

          which is what we were trying to do in the first place. and I have no doubts whatsoever we could meet the terms of such a loan...It is similar to what we were trying to achieve with our equity.

          and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

          by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 12:34:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I have to ask why (3+ / 0-)

        did lenders allow you to take out large loans in the first place?  I once applied for a credit card and mistakenly put down that I made $1000.00 a year.  I was offered credit of $2000.00 so I called the credit company and asked why, if I only made $1000 was I offered $2000, as I couldn't possibly pay my bill if I were to use that credit card.  

        It doesn't help your situation much now, but you might ask your lenders what made you a great risk four years ago, and not so great now.  Maybe ask a lawyer that question also as it might seem that you were set up to fail - a serious form of harassment.

        "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

        by JFinNe on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 12:41:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  i'm not farmerchuck but ... (4+ / 0-)

          i'll answer from my perspective of a rural person surrounded by farmers who has stuck a toe in ...

          it's the nature of the beast. unless you're agribusiness, farming these days is an extremely high risk proposition. it's dangerous, it pays not just badly, but negative and, despite your best intentions, you will run out of money.

          add to that, farm equipment requires petroleum products to run, and the price of petroleum products has, what, doubled? in the last couple of years, meaning that hay and feed have skyrocketed, not to mention the simple costs of running the machinery ...

          and the costs of materials for maintenance have also skyrocketed since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. consider: i put a metal roof on in 2003-2004 for $2000, cost of materials around $1000 (yes, labor's cheap here because there are no codes). today, materials alone would cost well over $2000. that's double.

          for me to repair my fences? conservative estimate around $7,000.

          and that doesn't even get into the cost of barns, home maintenance, vet bills (even when you're doing much of your own vetting), etc.

          in short, i would venture a guess that farmerchuck's expenses have just about doubled since they first bought the place.

          but that's just my guess based on what i know from here.

          •  see the comment below, (3+ / 0-)

            but Runs has also hit the nail on the the past four years----
            Hay $1.50-->3.75 (225%)
            grain up 150%
            diesel up 200%+
            heating oil up 200%+ (if all the heat, hot water, and pasteurization were not biomass, we would have gone under 3 years ago.)

            during that same period the federally set price for milk up 27% (after spending much of the intervening time at -45%)
            fruit prices(wholesale) up 35%
            vegetable prices (wholesale) up 25-60%

            and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

            by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 01:03:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  when I applied for the mortgage (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          means are the ends, JFinNe

          I was a system engineer making 150K a year, specializing in intermediate to large scale distributed databases, and I was the founding engineer of a startup with venture capital funding from siemens.

          and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

          by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 12:53:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That makes sense (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and then you got laid off and your credibility zoomed to zero.

            Guess you didn't think much of the Church/Minister angle, so maybe think about this.

            Since it sounds and looks like you have a grasp of figures, ask if your current lenders would sell your loans to another larger lending company/bank.  That way your local lenders are off the hook for the next twenty or so years.

            "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

            by JFinNe on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 01:03:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Hmm (6+ / 0-)

    If I were you, I'd get with a bankruptcy attorney to find out what your options are, if you file for bankruptcy.  If the mortgage was obtained prior to the massive credit-industry bill several years ago, you may have a lot more options than you think.

    One alternative might be to get a (standard) furnace installed, and then have it removed/returned/resold after the refinancing.  That's a lot of jacking around to go to, in order to get refinanced, but it would be a way to get around the difficulties with the underwriters.

    Definitely don't let this go without a fight.  15 years of perfect credit and 3 paid-off mortgages means you're doing something right, but have just run into a temporary cash-flow problem.

  •  Since you are being so forthright ... (4+ / 0-)

    Might as well go all the way and let us know amount of money required:

    • What is "short term" amount that buys you a year, for example?  

    Blogging regularly at Ecotality Blog for a Sustainable Future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:50:27 AM PDT

    •  ahh well, no sense of shame here... (4+ / 0-)

      Loan Current Bal Interest Status Monthly
      Bus. Credit $24,900.00 8.5 $300.00
      Truck $6,400.00 8.5 $150.00
      Mortgage $254,595.00 8.85 $1,907.00
      Milk equip $10,000.00 9.25 I only $36.00
      Buckland Frm $48,721.00 8.75 $915.00

      Subtotals $344,616.00 $3,308.00

      Loan Current Bal Interest Status Monthly
      CC 21700 32 Current $1,500.00
      CC 5524 12 Current $200.00
      CC 7200 12 Current $400.00

      Subtotals 34424 $2,100.00

      Eq received Current Bal
      Boilers $18,000.00 9 3 month 0 int n/a
      Plumb Supply $6,300.00 10 5 m arrears
      Farm Supply $2,100.00 ? 3 m arrears

      Subtotals $26,400.00

      Eq received Current Bal
      hay/labor $3,100.00
      Hay $600.00
      Hay $3,100.00
      Hay $250.00
      Assets Value Notes
      Home Equity $155,000.00 Conservative Estimate
      Equipment $17,000.00 Estimated current value, with repairs
      Personal $10,000.00

      and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

      by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:57:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here is a little karma, and my sympathies (5+ / 0-)

    Farmer Chuck, I don't know how to advise you so I won't.  All I can say is I'm terribly sorry.  Owning a small farm is something I dream about frequently, until remembering that I owe the rest of my life to Nelnet Student Loan lender.  My credit was destroyed many years ago, long before ever having the opportunity to own a home.  

    Debt is crushing America.  Well.  This America.  The one belonging to the less fortunate.  

    Here's a rec and a pair of open ears.  I look forward to sharing in your knowledge, and offering whatever consolation I can provide.  

  •  Have you tried SBA microloans? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    farmerchuck, CSI Bentonville

    That is the Small Business Association.


    The Microloan Program provides very small loans to start-up, newly established, or growing small business concerns. Under this program, SBA makes funds available to nonprofit community based lenders (intermediaries) which, in turn, make loans to eligible borrowers in amounts up to a maximum of $35,000. The average loan size is about $13,000. Applications are submitted to the local intermediary and all credit decisions are made on the local level.

    Terms, Interest Rates, and Fees:

    The maximum term allowed for a microloan is six years. However, loan terms vary according to the size of the loan, the planned use of funds, the requirements of the intermediary lender, and the needs of the small business borrower. The maximum loan amount is $35,000, however, the average loan amount is around $13,000. Interest rates vary, depending upon the intermediary lender and costs to the intermediary from the U.S. Treasury. Generally these rates will be between 8 eight percent and thirteen percent.

    You may also want to check into sites like  Kiva and such under microlending. Most of the people who needs loans on there are from Third World Countries so not sure if you can file a loan need there but it is worth a look.

    Here's another Small Business Loan place.


    I don't have any money to send you myself, just ideas.

    I hope it works out for you!!

    "I would not describe us, though, as a Christian nation I guess the word "Christian" is what bothers me, even though I'm a Christian" John Edwards

    by Chaoslillith on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 11:59:59 AM PDT

    •  I/We appreciate your ideas and concerns (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CSI Bentonville

      truly, not asking for money, just want a reasonable mortgage, and a chance to restructure our debt...a chance to use the (sweat) equity we have built the past 5 years.

      and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

      by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 12:03:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Put A Huge Neon Cross (4+ / 0-)

    on top of your barn, get a Theology Degree and licence online and declare the land as property belonging to the Church of No Snivilin (or whatever might sound more legal,) and file yourself and Church as not-for-profit organizations.  Whatever money you acquire would be donations and therefore non taxable.  And of course have Church of Sundays and remember to serve a "light lunch" after a few meditations.  

    I am not kidding.  (Wish exclamation points were not no nos.)

    "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

    by JFinNe on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 12:20:34 PM PDT

  •  doesn't anyone want to discuss (2+ / 0-)

    the sustainability side of this diary?

    and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

    by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 01:08:10 PM PDT

    •  Looks like not (3+ / 0-)

      That's what happens when immediate crises show up.  Sustainability goes out the window . . . as well it probably should since you can't get to "sustainable" if you don't get to pass "Go."

      •  damn...I really wanted feedback (2+ / 0-)

        on my definitions, preferably from someone who understands finance better than I do...oh well, the rain finally stopped, time to go inspect the damage...back soonest.
           Actually I wanted to talk about sustainability to take my mind off other stuff, maybe tomorrow's diary.

        and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

        by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 01:17:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I liked your discussion of sustainability (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          farmerchuck, CSI Bentonville

          particularly the reminder that there can be no such thing as an individual sustainable practice, but only a complete sustainable system.  That idea gets lost in the loose lingo sometimes.

          However, there is the problem of what constitute the boundaries of a system involving biological elements. Without perfect knowledge, it would be impossible to determine whether a particular set of practices were ecologically sustainable, in every regard, for every element of the almost infinitely expanding "system," in the long-term.  It seems crucial to define a) what qualities/processes you wish to sustain, and b) for what/whom.

          Sorry if I'm being vague.  Even more sorry that your grand take was only $1400, though I'm glad everybody did what they could.  Still... just only into July?  That sucks.

          •  vagueness is intrinsic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            renaissance grrrl

            to loosely bounded systems...I think you are right though, without an"eternal golden braid" surrounding your system (metaphorically) you can't establish bounds on most of the relevant dimensions of the sort of systems we are talking about. what I generally do (at least in my head) is establish arbitrary bounds for the dimensions of interest, and make sure that the exit conditions for critical "marker" dimensions don't vary significantly...when you are talking hundreds or thousands of dimensions, even setting up your space is  almost impossible. as an example, if there is a stream  interacting with some system like a farm, one critical marker dimension might be fry numbers in the stream.

            and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

            by farmerchuck on Mon Jul 09, 2007 at 05:24:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  and remember, you alone made the difference (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            renaissance grrrl

            between june 30 and july 9....and we haven't given up, and don't intend's just going to be a bit more painful, and require a lot more sacrifice on our part. I just hope the sacrifice doesn't involve more weight loss, I can still spare a couple pounds, terri can't...

            and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings....

            by farmerchuck on Mon Jul 09, 2007 at 05:27:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  well (4+ / 0-)

      i'm hand pulling weeds in the places i can't mow.

      not sure how sustainable it is, given whenever i do this (which is about once-twice a week), i end up being barely able to walk the next day or two. :=D :=D  but, no way, given all the snakes and ticks and chiggers and brown spiders around here that i'd sit my rear on the ground for too long. so i have to bend from the waist, checking first to make sure there's no snakes.

      but it is environmentally friendly.

      also, i've only used pesticides once this year, and that was to spray the sides of this place so the brown spiders wouldn't get a yankering to move in. the consequence: omg, i have more butterflies than you can imagine. it's extraordinary. i've always had a lot of butterflies, but this year, my plants are covered with them. i was just out weeding by some of my scarlet runner beans and got to enjoy both a tiger swallowtail and a spice swallowtail gobbling from the bean's flowers, as well as countless skippers, gulf frittelaries (sp??) and some sulfurs. what a treat.

      one sad note, though - no bumblebees. i'm usually swarming with them this time of year, but i haven't seen any since early spring.

    •  I want to get an acre or two and try (2+ / 0-)

      this: Edible Forest Gardening

      An edible forest garden is a perennial polyculture of multi-purpose plants — many species growing together (a polyculture), most plants re-growing every year without needing to be re-planted (perennials), each plant contributing to the success of the whole by fulfilling many functions. In other words, an edible ecosystem:

      I read and reread David Jacke's books about this subject, planning for when I retire. It sounds like the kind of gardening even I could do!

      I hope things turn out OK for you. It's tough times to be a farmer (as opposed to an AgriBusinessMan).

      •  oh yea (3+ / 0-)

        that's kind of what i'm doing

        eg, i have scarlet runner beans and passion flower growing on the trellis of my front porch. and they're functioning to:

        1. provide shade;
        1. be beautiful;
        1. be ... edible!

        along the front, i've planted Black Beauty elderberry, which offer shade (they're giant things, one about 7') and privacy, and are edible for me and the critters.

        and in the back, rather than spending a few thou to replace the fence back there, i've started raspberry bushes. only have them along half that fence (the yard area here is pretty huge) but they should be all along the fence in another year or so. also have passion flower vines all along it, to help hold up what's barely standing and will be planting grapes, as well. and sunflowers. gotta have sunflowers.

        it's actually imo a much easier way of doing things. rather than defined garden areas and strictly regulated boundaries, i have stuff going all over the place. it also cuts down on the pests, believe it or not.

        •  Exactly (4+ / 0-)

          The up-front investment in perennial plantings is higher, and time is required.  But if one has the time, space, and money for stock, there aren't many good reasons to not plant useful trees, shrubs, vines, canes, and other perennial plants for food production.

          I currently have 8 trees in my orchard; I have 8 more waiting to be planted.  Next year I hope to get in nut trees, cane-fruit plants, and pawpaws.  Year after I'm looking at gooseberries, cherries, and other miscellaney to round out some of the fruit production.

          (I don't live on a farm.)

          •  yup (3+ / 0-)

            i have wild cherry trees that produce tiny but very, very sweet fruit.

            i've planted crab apples which - we'll see.

            and this fall, pecans and peaches go in the ground.

            i've also got blueberries and grapes, although thanks to a late freeze and very strange weather, they haven't been the greatest this year. and many of my flowers easily reseed.

            i intersperse flowers and vegetables. zucchini are being pretty ornamental this year, as are the beans. etc.

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