I thought it would be a good idea to share what we've been up to at our (Rob & Christina's) place. I'd like to make these updates regular so we can at the very least keep a log of our progression implementing our permaculture design. When we actually went outside and started implementation we ended up changing many aspects of the deisgn. I still need to re-draw the pictures to reflect the changes but this version here is mostly current to what our plan is.

We finally decided on a wood stove from a dealer in St Pete and got it installed towards the end of winter. It has a huge cooktop surface and if loaded with a full load of wood gets the house to 85F. We are really happy with it and were able to use it quite a lot this winter to stay warm and cook meals.

Most of what we had planted during the freezes liked the cold weather and really took off with the rain. We harvested some delicious carrots (that are actually sweet when fresh, unlike the bitter ones in the store), radishes, cabbage, tons of bok choy, mustard greens, lettuce, and sweet potatoes (we left some in the ground that are now re-sprouting with the warmer weather). We covered our plum tree throughout the freezes and the sensitive buds made it this time. It looks like we will be rewarded with some plums soon!

Lately the weather has been really nice, wet and relatively mild compared to our usual hot and dry spring. Thanks to El Nino our back pond is currently overflowing to the back acre of our property and into our neighbors pasture. This time last year it was completely dry. There is an explosion of amphibians due to these conditions. There are so many juvenile toads and frogs around the property you have to walk where you step--they are everywhere!

Some Canadian geese stop in for a few days

I've really been enjoying that extra hour of light that we got with the time change. We've been taking advantage of it by making piles of compost with leaves, mulch, horse manure, grass and spent coffee grinds from a nearby beverage plant. This compost was laid on top rotting wood to make raised hugelkultur beds in which we planted lima beans, eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, okra, basil, lemon balm, thyme, bearberry and calendula. I dug some holes around the house, filled them with compost and planted muscadine grapes and papaya to give us some shade for the summer. I'm also trying some moringa and looking for some pigeon peas right now for some quick edible shade to give some relief from the upcoming summer heat.

As far as animals we are currently down to just the cats and dog again. The horses went to a good home as well as the goats. We are looking at getting some diary goats as soon as we fortify the fence in the back with some electric hot wire. The neighbors mule escaped one night when I accidentally left the back gate open and we haven't seen him since. One afternoon last week we came home from work to find our chickens gone except for some piles of feathers, probably lunch for a fox or coyote. We want to get more chickens but need to figure out a way to keep them safe during the night *and* day. We are thinking a chain link dog kennel with wheels that can be moved around like a chicken tractor.

An edible spiderwort in bloom