Saturday, January 22, 2011

Goodbye Taylor Springs

Dear Tim,

I am absolutely convinced that Taylor Springs farm/ranch can earn a sustainable five-figure income in addition to paying off its mortgage and feeding your family healthy, nutritious foods …and do it with essentially no [well maybe not NO] additional investment in equipment, within a short ramp-up period.

Herbs and salads can easily be grown, year-round with a small greenhouse on the south wall where the water tank is now, in the west garden outside your front door. A small orchard in the south yard, with bees, can provide both fruits for your own consumption: fresh, jams and jellies, pies, dried fruits for storage, ciders, vinegars; and also cash crops.

Many varieties of corn, beans, and squash are easily grown, and you can easily grow all the varieties of chiles and tomatoes your little heart desires, for your own use and for sale fresh and dried at premium prices to passing Texans.

Moving to the barn and run-in sheds, you’ve already got the facilities for a small herd of milk and/or meat goats, a year-round flock of laying chickens, and enough extra room for fattening up 100 or so broilers and roasters a couple of times a year. Just don’t treat your run-in sheds as Fibber McGee’s closets, and plant the yards to perennial, edible cover crops. Easily built movable fencing will help. I’d even suggest establishing forage trees such as black locust or tanasaste in the corrals themselves, for good shade and edible pods falling off for your birds and livestock. You can probably also get top dollar for specialty birds such as quail or pheasant for nearby gentlemen hunters to shoot at.

The fields need more fencing to move animals around and not let them wander to ruin the best areas and ignore the marginal. The west field from the tree line west should be your woodlot: lots of fast growing trees such as black locust, to provide more high-protein pods for animal feed, fence posts, and a very high BTU firewood sustainably. Look into living fences such as osage orange for fencing the big fields, and solar-electric fencing for temporary, movable applications.

The key, of course, is water, and Taylor Springs is massively blessed in that regard. Please do everything you can think of to capture and exploit every source of water on the property. Make every drop work hard before it moves downhill. All your roofs are catchment. For example, I suspect most of your flocks and livestock in the corrals can be watered from the runoff from the barns and sheds. Dam the spring water where it exits the land; plant the grey water outlet [blueberries?]; uncap the wells; fill the cisterns; pump the spring and river; gutter and catch all the roofs …you get the idea. Compost your shit and save your pee for fertilizer.

You may have noticed by now that I haven’t mentioned cattle, but there are ample resources for local information about grass-fed livestock, permanently pastured, and that’s the direction you should go. Even if you’re only raising a small herd for your own freezer and some friends, there’s no need for purchased feed. There’s a grass-fed herd of Black Angus in Maxwell and I bet they’re good eating.

I’m sad I won’t be around to help, as I think and believe that turning Taylor Springs into the sacred oasis it truly is, is noble work that will bless everyone and everything that lives here for the next seven generations. Can’t ask for much more than that.

My best wishes to you and Kaye, and yours.



PS. Oh, did I mention that an acre of Jerusalem Artichokes will produce about 800 gallons of fuel-grade alcohol, as well as more high-quality edible forage, and is an easily grown perennial with few pest problems. Run all your vehicles for about 50 cents a gallon.