I’m sure most folks follow the weather to some extent, even if it’s as minimal as noticing if it’s raining or cold or hot or whatever while walking to their car or looking out a window. Here in Kansas we have a saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes, it’ll change” and typically that is what seems to happen. Except this Spring Kansas has decided to make up for whatever drought-like conditions we have had over the last 10-20 years and go ahead and get us all the water we need for the next several years. The only problem with that is that most folks have not adjusted their homesteads to handle that much water all at once, including your humble Mad Farmer.
Several years ago when I first heard about Permaculture I started reading everything I could find and started listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos and reading blogs. There are some truly great resources available now, Scott Mann’s Permaculture Podcast, Diego Footer’s Permaculture Voices, Paul “The Duke of Permaculture” Wheaton at Permies.com, Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast, Rob & Michelle Avis of Verge Permaculture and of course, Geoff Lawton, the appointed heir of Father of Permaculture, Bill Mollison, as well as many, many more. Once you get into the actual design stage of Permaculture my biggest take away is storing and using energy – more specifically water.
Successful Permaculture design, and for that matter, any site design needs to account for water: how much, where it comes from, what you will do with it, how it can be stored and ultimately, directed back into your site or off site in the best way possible. We’ve been at the current homestead for just over five years. When you make changes slowly over time it’s difficult to see what has changed. We have been taking pictures along the way and it’s startling what the property looked like five years ago and how much we have actually accomplished in that time. Some of the changes have been a deliberate attempt to shape our landscape, some of the changes have been made for convenience and lifestyle and some have been just flat out experimental “Hey, let’s see what happens if we do this”.
The farther I move along the Permaculture path and work on deliberate design the more I understand there is always more to refine and tweak and re-design. It turns out that because life is an ever-changing system there are always variables you can only attempt to plan for. Maybe it’s 10 inches of rain in two or three days, maybe it’s a scorching hot summer or a bitter cold winter. Plan resilience into your systems, remember that “One is None, Two is One and Three is Better” when working on your designs and systems and remember that almost everything has multiple uses and inputs and outputs, almost nothing in nature is a single straight line. Observe, research and plan and good luck with your variables.