The stories, travails, mistakes, successes; the journey of a change in lifestyle for two would-be market farmers and permaculturists.


September, 2010

Who We Are.

How to explain that without being too boring, that is the question. goes.

We are Roland Frye and Denise Colombe-Frye.  We aren't young anymore, at least chronologically.  That is somewhat important, because the decisions involved in taking on a new adventure like the one we are participating in have to be somewhat colored by how long we can physically keep up the demanding work.  So, what are we doing??  And, Why are we doing it??

What are doing is taking our 7 acre homestead and seeing just how much flora and fauna we can stuff into every nook and cranny.  Not just any flora, but plants that are interesting, unusual, tasty, and hopefully marketable.  Our inspiration is the concept called Permaculture.  We were introduced to this holistic approach to living in fall of 2009, when we attended a weekend workshop at a farm near to us.  We were inspired immediately.  We have designed our property with some of these principles in mind, without realizing there was a name for it.  After being exposed to the work of pioneers like Mark Shepard of Viola, WI, we understood there was so much more we could do to feed ourselves, maybe provide a little income, and provide food for others.  All by working WITH the natural environment, incorporating the contours of our land, the micro climates, my love of animals, well... the list is as endless as our imaginations.  It could take a lifetime to explore it all.  We will just do what we can, and be the richer for it.

We started doing some preliminary planning then, just basically winging it as we went, as it is all a big experiment to see what works for us.  Last fall, we planted around 300 daffodils under our fruit trees, dug a pocket pond under the stone fruits, and got some chickens.  At that time, we were also still trying to sell this property.  We own 45 beautiful acres in NE Washington state, where we had planned to retire.  As the winter wore on, it was obvious that we would never be able to sell for what we had hoped and needed to get the move accomplished.  As 2010 began, we decided that we would have to give up on that dream, and see what we could do with what we have started already.  With that decision, we have plunged right in to this grand experiment.  As I write this, the long nasty summer is coming to an end.  The hot and humid mosquito breeding weather had started to give way to cool days and nights.  We have done more this year than I can enumerate, but boy have we learned a lot in these last few months.  I think we both have a sense of purpose that had gone missing in the year and a half we tried to sell.

Wonder Puggles
Our Namesakes

As of this writing, we have around 60 chickens, 6 turkeys, and 2 obnoxious geese.  I have 2 of my 3 black horses, Lightnin and Blackjack.  My old lady, Coco, has been gone a few years now, and is still missed.  Of course, the Wonder Puggles, Gus and Max guard us from imaginary dangers, and the cats keep the rabbits at bay.  The horses provide us with manure to make compost.  The chickens provide us with eggs, the extra roosters with meat, and they all provide us with their manure as well.  Our newest experiment will be with using a group of young chickens to cultivate out quack grass in our raised beds.  The weather made it impossible to weed like we wanted, and now the beds are choking with this nasty perennial weed.

Rabbit Control
Young Chickens Getting Feathers In 

The turkeys and geese rotate under our fruit trees.  We are hoping this will have a positive effect on their fruit bearing next year.  The idea is that their scratching and foraging will help eliminate pests and the such.  We won't know for sure until next year, but we have our fingers crossed.  The turkeys are heritage breeds, and they fly, fly, fly.  However we accidentally trained them to stay in a fenced area, at least part of the day, so we are able to make the rotating work.  The geese don't fly, and are very bonded to the turkeys.  It does help keep them around.  They are put in a secure area at night.  This fall, after living a really great life and helping our trees as well, we will have them processed for well, meat....  This is going to be really hard, but it was our intention all along, and we are resigned to it.  They are great entertainment, and will be missed for the most part.
Turkey Insanity

We expanded our raised bed gardens, adding no till deep mulch beds.  We started new beds for annual and perennial flowers, planted aronia, seaberry, grapes, and a host of other fruits to experiment with.  We started selling extra produce and flowers at the local farmer's market to see how that goes.  And, we have a regular following of egg customers.  Not too bad for a few months work.

One thing that I have been grateful for in searching for ideas and information was the willingness of others to document their ideas and progress for me to take advantage of.  I hope to be able to do the same here, cataloging failures as well as successes, so others can maybe avoid some mistakes.  It is all a grand experiment.