Permaculture Land Management Principle #1- Observation

One of the hardest things for me to do is sit. My lifestyle is one of continuous movement. My understanding is that we are continuous  motion machines and to stop moving is to become stagnant with death ensuing shortly thereafter.

 One of the first steps recommended for new property owners who are contemplating a permaculture model is to spend the first year in observation. Observe the areas of light and shade, wet and dry, cold and warm. Observe how water and wind flow across the land. Observe and take stock of your assets and liabilities.

My teacher Ichi Lee says that it is in the clashes between our preconceptions and change that our greatest growth occurs. I took comfort in that this past few months as my habitual way of being clashed with what I must do to achieve my vision.

We do not know what we do not know, until we do. This is what I know now:

This property:

  • takes a northerly wind that comes off the lake in Fall and Winter with gusts that feel upwards of 40mph. I think I experienced lake effect snow for the first time in my life.
  • is covered in deciduous trees that let in more light in the winter and less light in the summer than I would have expected.
  • the house has a roof line that just screams for a sound water reclamation system.
  • has the most beautiful sun and moon rises that I have ever seen. They both come up over the lake and take my breath away.
  • 23.5 degrees of shift in the sun’s position over the course of the year is a bigger shift than I realized.
  • grey water discharge areas need to be managed.
  • the best place for my swing is down by the lake in the shade of an Oak tree.
  • don’t plant flowers down by the lake on the other side of the seawall just because there is no water there at that time.

As you may have guessed, some of what I know now is because I didn’t hold too fast to the Observation only tenet. I think the main thing is to avoid making any real and permanent changes until that first year has passed. Type 1 errors is what I believe they are called. Here are some fun pics of lessons learned!

Winter Snow

I mean how often does it snow in East Texas? 3 times this year!

Winter Snow

My grandson Peyton and his new friend Larry

2013 Property Condition

Lots of bare ground exposed.

Spring 2014

Evidence that I wasn’t always able to observe only. This year, in went the fruit trees, leguminous crops, and as much compost,grass, and clover seed I could get my hands on.




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