Author Topic: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE  (Read 3998 times)

Socrates

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Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« on: September 13, 2016, 04:11:22 AM »
If you have a desire to get into the nitty gritty of permaculture, Dr. Elaine Ingham comes to my mind. She goes on for hours and hours about what should be living in your soil, what it should contain, how and why, etc. etc.

You don't HAVE to go there. Permies creator Paul Wheaton himself suggests in many talks that you should not be overawed or daunted by the details of practicing permaculture; as long as you cover the basics, the details tend to work themselves out over time. Like, say we're talking minerals; if you plant trees (as you should), ultimately their roots will grow down and collect minerals from rocks below, bring them up in the form of wood and leaves, then these will naturally be distributed in time. Could you bring in seasalt/seawater or rockdust? Of course you could. Perhaps you even should; but if you allow nature to run it's course, your problems will be resolved by themselves over time, too.

I used to own Bill Mollison's permaculture manual. I TRIED to read through it but it's full of details and idealistic [i would even say "political"] principles that i found hard to deal with while i was just trying to find out what the basics of growing food were.
You can make any topic as complicated as you like and in Bill Mollison's book and at Permies forum people go into things in great detail, talking about the specifics of tactics and techniques or properties of certain species or breeds of flora and fauna. And that may all get to become appropriate for you at some point, but it can have adverse effects when starting out on a subject.
For instance, i was once looking into Macrobiotics and was having a hard time getting a good picture of what it was all about. Then i found a tiny book by the originator of Macrobiotics himself, George Ohsawa, and he explained briefly and clearly what it was about in a few pages. From that moment i could deal with it! But all the thick heavy books on the topic by other people, including by Ohsawa's successor Michio, just made my head spin.
With the matter of permaculture, however, i found that the classic written by the hand of the master himself, the king of permaculture if you will, Bill Mollison, didn't help me out at all. And i actually have never seen a book that does. Hence why i posted a basic tutorial on this forum.


I would like to continue on permaculture matters in more detail, let's say at an intermediate level. I will not get to an advanced level here because people like Dr. Elaine Ingham do that just fine. I will offer you links to many interesting talks and sources by permaculture experts in case you find yourself with the time and inclination to go there.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 04:22:37 AM by Socrates »
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Socrates

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Growing or stagnant; sustainability vs increase
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2016, 06:12:55 PM »
When you're green you're growing, when you're ripe you rot
While working at McDonald's i was told that it's founder espoused this saying and that the principle behind it was why McDonald's restaurants were a world-wide phenomenon. (The saying matters, the rest doesn't here.)

In a world in which conventional agriculture DESTROYS resources, permaculture principles and tactics may seem like a god-send. But there's really a permaculture implication, practice and principle that so-called sustainability is just about NOT MAKING THINGS WORSE. And that's really not setting the bar all that high.

Even permaculture experts only seem to be talking about mineral QUANTITY: keep the minerals in the soil.
There's an underlying principle, assumption or feeling that if you just leave nature in tact everything will be fine. Supposedly mainstream farmers have been destroying nature and if we just stop doing that, things will be great. But is setting the bar higher than the people who were destroying the planet really good enough? Hey, you're not as bad as Hitler; kudos for you!
Permaculture is good, don't get me wrong. But is it GREAT? Is it the best you could be accomplishing and is it even what you SHOULD be accomplishing?

Don't destroy soil and don't be a parasite on the land. Doctors might say: First do no harm. But doctors don't stop there. Why should you stop at doing GOOD when you approach farming?
It's simple; there are ways of BRINGING MINERALS TO the land that are not commonly talked about in permaculture circles. As someone who has researched health and diet for decades, this disturbs me for i have learned that minerals are not just important in relation to farming, they are also just about the most important thing in relation to health.

The main ways of BRINGING IN minerals is through seawater fertilization and rockdust.
However, putting manure on the land is really not about ADDING minerals; it is about RECYCLING and conserving them. What if the ground holds little to no selenium or silver? Does manure solve the problem? Well, it might if the animals that created the manure were eating foods that grew on selenium-rich or silver-rich soil and the plants they were eating were also uptaking said minerals. But those are two big IFs to begin with and since most soils nowadays are minerally deficient, if you have such amazing soil containing selenium and silver [forget about all the other trace minerals], you should be farming THERE...
Adding seawater or seasalt in solution [1 part seawater to 5 parts fresh water for grass] is the option that provides the widest range of minerals one might add to ones soil.

There are schools of thought in regard to seawater but i did recently learn that seasalt as fertilizer was the main product bought by farmers in the U.S.A. in the 19th century (besides gypsum). So there does not appear to be a reason to fear it, no matter which school of thought you adhere to.
Some people reckon that all that sodium in seawater should be bad for plants. That's not based on research, it's more of a gut analysis. However...
- 50 years of research by Maynard Murray disprove this idea
- the world's coastal regions fed by seawater that are the most productive in the world disprove it
- Geoff Lawton's Greening the Desert project proves plants can deal with excessive salinity
- there are OTHER lifeforms in soil and some of these LOVE all that sodium
However, 70% of sea minerals do consist of sodium chloride [tablesalt] and to get rid of it all you have to do is scrape it off the top; that's how salt manufacturers get tablesalt. Then you are left with just the bitters and some schools of seawater fertilization thought believe this is better to add to soil.
To be fair, not enough research has been done and personal experimentation could prove that one is better than the other in certain circumstances, for certain soils or for certain plants.


Permaculture sees a region with a certain grouping of flora and fauna and reckons that if one can just bring THAT ecology back to it's original state and KEEP IT THERE that one has done an amazing thing. And that much is true. However... It doesn't mean that all natural ecologies contain all the nutrients and minerals that HUMAN BEINGS require!
The greatest human settlements and cultures developed in certain areas where certain minerals were in abundance. That way people were not only able to SURVIVE but their brains, especially, were offered all the nutrients they required in order to achieve human GREATNESS. I'm talking especially about minerals like iodine, magnesium and lithium. You can survive on less of these but, for instance, Jorge Flechas is an iodine expert who states that if you give a pregnant mother sufficient quantities of iodine, that her child may have as many as 30 IQ points more... Now would you deprive your child of optimal brain function for no good reason? And what if smart people aren't smart but normal and today's normal people are dumn...? God knows destroying your own environment and thinking that NOT destroying it should be the greatest one might hope to accomplish don't say much about one's humanity or reasoning capabilities...

When you're green you're growing, when you're ripe you rot; conventional farming isn't about growing, it is about destructive, ravaging and parasitical tactics. But is permaculture about "growing"?
Permaculture is about sustainability but as i've heard one person put it: if you had to say your marriage is "sustainable", that doesn't sound like much, does it?
No, the saying applies to permaculture; you need to do more than just not go backwards. OF COURSE not going backwards is better than sliding down into clear mineral deficiencies, but there's more to growing food than managing soil, in the sense that a "manager" is really someone there to keep things rolling along smoothly. But the person in charge (of a company or in this case, of the soil) should also be looking to the future and to underlying principles and practical realities. So then there are 3 options: going backwards, standing still, or moving into an increasingly bright future:
- being in a state of rot
- being ripe and on the verge of rot
- being green and growing
What one popularly reads and hears about permaculture, specifically in a mineral sense, is that it is RIPE, i.e. one might be doing much better still. One might also be ADDING to mineral QUANTITY and QUALITY.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2016, 06:43:43 PM by Socrates »
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ilinda

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 04:45:54 PM »
Lots of good issues for discussion there, but for brevity, I'll address only two.

Sea salt.  After reading Maynard Murray's book (title slips my mind), something like FERTILITY FROM THE OCEAN DEEP(?), I decided to try SEA-90, which is evaporated sea water from Baja.  I bought this SEA 90 prior to the Fukushima disaster, and use it occasionally in the garden, on the fields, and regularly as a salt for the livestock.  I believe it is a good product, and BTW I have no financial interest in its use or sale.  The instructions that came packed with it give very specific directions on how to measure the amount needed for whichever preparation you want, such as garden, row crops, fields, animal salt, etc.

In Jared Diamond's book COLLAPSE:  Why Societies Choose..., he discusses how certain areas that are subject to volcanic eruptions at least every 100,000 years have relatively rich soil and have sustained people, and can continue to do so.  He also talks about coastal areas are also known for their rich soil due to the many minerals, trace and otherwise, that are found in the seaspray that regularly blankets the coastal areas.

The areas that do not experience the above will be those that are more likely to be problematic for farmers/gardeners, if the growing of food is continuous for generation after generation, unless the soils are somehow remineralized.

Lots of food for thought there.

Socrates

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2016, 08:01:55 PM »
Not to get off topic, but this is just too funny...
I was sitting here reading Jared Diamond's Collapse when it struck me that i should add this bit about seasalt to the topic of permaculture..  :P

Murray's Sea Energy Agriculture was brief enough, though. I learned a lot from his successors, too, like the guy who bought his farm, i think it's Don Jansen (podcast @ oneradionetwork). He tells about setting up a hydroponics system with seawater that should get anyone thinking, since that's just about diluting seawater and having your plants grow in gravel or something. The quality of produce should be through the roof but also the amount of plants per square foot is much higher than possible in soil.
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WATER; slowing it down
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2016, 07:39:17 AM »
I have already posted a few things on water but there is one basic water rule of permaculture: slow it down.

You don't want RUNNING water; you want water to seep or drip or collect. This may seem counter intuitive since running water is one of the basic attributes of civilization, right? But, no; running water is nice IN THE HOUSE; it is not nice in your garden.


However, the conventional method of stopping water from running off is to DAM it up. Now, dams have their place, in permaculture too, but dams are not your go to option in sustainable gardening. (And since we all grew up with conventional ideas regarding such things, we do well to check we're not making dams because WE feel comfortable with the idea...)
If there is a permaculture go to option, it would be to TERRACE.

Building terraces is simply about making a place flat so the water will not run off but will rather stay in place, sometimes collect there, and fall or seep through the ground relatively slowly.
Now, you must first understand the end game here; if you have loads of soil over a large area, it's partially holding on to moisture and partially allowing it to escape thanks to gravity. This subterranean drip and seepage will form a continual escape of some water and that will lead to escaping trickles and small streams. Then, in the end, you wind up with rivelets of water escaping the ground slowly here and there. That is SO MUCH BETTER than water rushing and gushing over the landscape, taking away mineral content and dirt. The water still flows, but slowly.
If the area is large enough, what you wind up with is year-round streams and brooks where otherwise you might experience annual floods. It's the same water, just slowed down...

In Geoff Lawton's Greening the Desert project in Jordan, this is what he has accomplished; it rains in Jordan, it just only rains in winter. So what to do with 9 months of drought every year? You slow the water down.
Conventional farmers in Jordan just let the water in winter rush away. Hell, they even let it evaporate, assisting the process by taking away all organic debris that might be covering the ground and burning it. That same debris could not only have been breaking down slowly to create new soil, but it would hold onto rain and allow it to seep downward while preventing sunlight to heat up the dirt underneath.
You can throw all the drip irrigation in the world at bald earth that's baking in the middle eastern sun but your soil life is either going to shrivel up and die or you'll be hopelessly dependent on irrigation, more or less day and night. And all you had to do was let the organic lie...

A gabion is rocks in chicken wire; what do gabions do? They slow running water down, allowing it to collect but keep on running (through the rocks) which allows debris in the water to settle and sink, while simultaneously killing the water's momentum so it moves on without as much destructive force.
In some situations gabions fill up with settled dirt and become a terrace.
If you had a giant flood each year from annual rain storms in mountains, how do you kill that destructive force? Simple: you put down enough gabions or terraces able to soak up enough of that water to allow it's force to dissipate (enough).
When a conventional farmer sees rocky hills in an arid or semi-arid locale, all he sees is a place to let his goats roam (and KEEP it dry, dead and rocky!). You also might look at it as a potential oases. Don't forget the entire Fertile Crescent was turned into desert... It can be turned back into lush green again. (If Geoff Lawton can do it in Jordan, it can be done anywhere; that's WHY he did it there.)

Swales are long ditches, popular in permaculture. They're filled with organic debris and become a focal point from where plants can get a foothold in dry landscapes. Water collects in the ditches and soaks the area surrounding it more thoroughly than the ground that just gets rained on and perhaps cracks when the rain has evaporated again. Plants in the swales have more subterranean water and they grow, create their own shade, send out roots that collect and hold onto even more water, and a cycle of soil creation and water harvesting is thus created (simply by putting some topographical relief in place).


It seems one might never cut down trees or use a tractor in permaculture, but often such practices are employed in the beginning; young trees are sacrificed when establishing a food forest and tractors are useful to help turn a landscape around so it services water harvesting. Then, one time only, are they very useful for establishing some flat terrain, some swales, some terraces, some ponds, etc. etc. depending on what the locale offers or demands.
But tractors are just a shortcut tool; the same results have been established by people around the world who built sawas and the like in the course of centuries of agriculture. In the end, whatever services the slowing down of the flow of water supports the creation and continued presence of soil.
Then if you don't let ruminants continually eat away the green so sunlight can play havoc with bare dirt, your terrace or terrain should support life that is forever expanding while it eats away at rocks underneath.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 04:26:18 AM by Socrates »
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Yowbarb

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2016, 08:22:18 PM »
Socrates, you are posting a wealth of info...great to read.
When you mentioned terraces, it reminded me of ancient terraces...
...
http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-patallacta-or-llactapata-ancient-inca-ruins-and-agricultural-terraces-13480793.html

Patallacta or Llactapata, ancient Inca ruins and agricultural terraces, view from [Inca Trail], Peru, Andes, "South America

Socrates

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Terraces; VETIVER GRASS
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2016, 12:41:01 AM »
Vetiver grass is awesome for building terraces because it's roots burrow down vertically many meters creating a natural organic barrier against erosion. When you plant a row of vetiver on the edge of a terrace, you create a natural, growing, self-sustaining barrier that protects your terrace's integrity.
Considering that terracing is essential to slowing down water and building soil, vetiver can be one of the great key species to have.

It is better to focus on general principles and rules than to base your tactics on details that tend to easily get lost or forgotten. That's why it's so useful to just focus on basic things like:
- slow water down
- terrace
- build soil
But there ARE a FEW details than can be very helpful when it comes to actually applying such important principles. And VETIVER is one of those.

Vetiver is being introduced around the world because it can help poor people with very limited resources to establish terraces and begin to turn their terrain around.
After TSHTF would you like to own a tractor? Of course you would; and you'd like to have HAM radio, and gasoline and all kinds of good stuff... You see where i'm going with this.
So if you have vetiver, even if you don't have your tractor and gasoline you can still accomplish much in the way of water management with limited effort.

I have been finding it very difficult to access vetiver. You must understand...
VETIVER DOES NOT REPRODUCE VIA SEEDS
So you can only buy young plants. The vetiver plant puts out little independent shoots that one can harvest and plant elsewhere and this is how vetiver is multiplied and transplanted. But you can't buy vetiver seeds.
However, the people selling vetiver appear to be mainly landscapers that are willing to come and plant some hill of yours or something BUT THEY WON'T SHIP YOU VETIVER shoots. But if you manage to have some vetiver and keep it alive, you have an awesome tool for landscaping, water harvesting and soil management (through terracing).
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Yowbarb

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2016, 12:52:21 AM »
Socrates, what vital info about the vetiver grass, I really appreciate it.
Going to see about finding some...

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2016, 01:29:42 AM »
Posting a few links;

1)   Finding a vetiver supplier in Europe "I would recommend the Sardinian supplier, he
       already delivered twice to both the Netherlands and Spain, and provided guidance when
       planting. More info at Vetiver Sardegna. http://www.vetiversardegna.it/ He also writes a
       very interesting Blog."
       http://www.vetiver.org
       http://www.vetiver.org/discus/messages/24/1182.html?1289812178

2)  "The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) promotes the worldwide use of the Vetiver System (VS) for a sustainable environment particularly in relation to land and water. The Network is a true network of individuals, groups, communities, entrepreneurs, and social organizations working together. The "networking" part is all voluntary - no managers and no remuneration! We believe that it is one of the most effective non profit environmental organizations in the world and is impacting greatly on all levels of society. The VS provides significant economic, environmental and social benefits. VS is now used in most tropical and semi-tropical countries, north to Italy and south to Chile.  Based on research and demonstrations through TVNI “partners,” including research institutions, development agencies, NGO's and the private sector, VS has expanded from a technology primarily for farm soil and water conservation to include major applications for ....." more

TVNI history, achievements http://www.vetiver.org/TVN_hist_achievements.pdf 
and timeline presentation:
http://www.vetiver.org/TVN_Hist_ppt_pdf.pdf

3)    This information is abstracted from Vetiver Systems Application - A Technical Reference
        Manual.
        VETIVER GRASS - PLANT PROPAGATION Link:
        http://www.vetiver.org/TVN-Handbook%20series/TVN-series1-2-vetiver-propagation.htm

4)   Vetiver Grass Sales Outlets
       http://www.vetiver.org/discus/messages/24/24.html?1462971799

5)  https://www.alibaba.com/vetiver-grass-seed-suppliers.html

SEE:  https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/VETIVER-GRASS-magic-plant_114628804.html US $1 / Plant | 200 Plant/Plants plant slips (Min. Order)
FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE
Important info from this website:

Packaging & Delivery
Packaging Details:   carton box with 200 plant slips, 15-20cm each one
Delivery Detail:   20-30 days
The plant slips can resist till 3 weeks without water.
They can be planted and developed in almost all soils and climates of the world.
Researches show that pH can vary from 3.3 and 12.5.
Vetiver resists temperatures between - 14°C and +55°C

Yowbarb

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2016, 01:43:36 AM »
PS Socrates, and all in Europe:
This might help. Amazon ships the Vetiver plants.
Here is a link to Amazon headquarters Europe which shows a location in or near the Netherlands: Not sure how to find the actual website for Amazon in Europe...but they do sell the vetiver!

Here in america, I've used amazon dozens of times and it's really fast and good service...
...

http://international-tech.amazon-jobs.com/locations.html

https://www.amazon.eu/p/feature/c3a224kb4nqv7ad

PSS Looks like this company ships all over the world: This starter pack is about 12 bucks...

Vetiver Grass 6 live plant trial pack (Chrysopogon zizanioides)
by Agriflora Tropicals https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00BVQRQTA/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new

Socrates

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Re: vetiver
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2016, 10:47:25 AM »
Looks like you did a lot of work there, Yowbarb! Valuable work indeed.

I sent out a number of emails following my post. (Just goes to show how it helps YOURSELF to post as much as it might help anybody else...) I may have found a supplier in Turkey. Thank goodness!

Yeah, people may forget that besides seeds, there are also bacterial cultures and growing plants and trees that are good to have. I've been collecting books on bonzai for this reason, too..

Vetiver is like another key species i'm excited about: Rhodesian Ridgeback: the more you learn about them, the more you're amazed at their versatility and usefulness. It's good to be reminded of their value once in a while...
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Socrates

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2016, 10:59:40 AM »
Vetiver Grass 6 live plant trial pack (Chrysopogon zizanioides)
by Agriflora Tropicals https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00BVQRQTA/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new

And then i try to order and get...
Sorry, this item can't be shipped to your selected address. Learn more. You may either change the shipping address or delete the item from your order. You can also see if this item is available to ship to your address from another seller.
That's the kinda stuff i'm talking about.
Had the same trouble ordering turpentine from an American company [G Forest]; won't ship to Europe.
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ilinda

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2016, 03:35:21 PM »
Vetiver Grass 6 live plant trial pack (Chrysopogon zizanioides)
by Agriflora Tropicals https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00BVQRQTA/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new

And then i try to order and get...
Sorry, this item can't be shipped to your selected address. Learn more. You may either change the shipping address or delete the item from your order. You can also see if this item is available to ship to your address from another seller.
That's the kinda stuff i'm talking about.
Had the same trouble ordering turpentine from an American company [G Forest]; won't ship to Europe.
I haven't checked yet, but Richter's in Canada often has herbal and other plants that I often cannot find anywhere else.  Just a stray thought.

Yowbarb

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Re: Complicated / detailed PERMACULTURE
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2016, 11:14:37 PM »
Vetiver Grass 6 live plant trial pack (Chrysopogon zizanioides)
by Agriflora Tropicals https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00BVQRQTA/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new

And then i try to order and get...
Sorry, this item can't be shipped to your selected address. Learn more. You may either change the shipping address or delete the item from your order. You can also see if this item is available to ship to your address from another seller.
That's the kinda stuff i'm talking about.
Had the same trouble ordering turpentine from an American company [G Forest]; won't ship to Europe.

Socrates, I am so sorry! I felt it was worth a try.  Now, since there are corporate headquarters in EU as well, there must be Amazon locations there who would get plants from Brazil, Spain, etc. and ship all over Europe.
Best of Luck with it.
If you do find a supplier can you please post it here...
Thanks,
Barb T.

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Re: vetiver
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2016, 11:17:27 PM »
Looks like you did a lot of work there, Yowbarb! Valuable work indeed.

I sent out a number of emails following my post. (Just goes to show how it helps YOURSELF to post as much as it might help anybody else...) I may have found a supplier in Turkey. Thank goodness!

Yeah, people may forget that besides seeds, there are also bacterial cultures and growing plants and trees that are good to have. I've been collecting books on bonzai for this reason, too..

Vetiver is like another key species i'm excited about: Rhodesian Ridgeback: the more you learn about them, the more you're amazed at their versatility and usefulness. It's good to be reminded of their value once in a while...

That would be great if the Turkey supplier works out! :)
Hoping...
Let us know!
:) Funny you should mention Rhodesian Ridgeback I posted about that breed and some pics
in a Topic...
http://planetxtownhall.com/index.php?topic=2977.msg40394#msg40394
I've never even been around one but i would like to get a couple pups and have them be survival group dogs...