The Shire

It’s been a while since I updated the blog. This has been a huge summer for us. We bought 16 acres in June! It’s the next step for us in this Regenerative journey. It’s been non-stop work almost every weekend to get things set up, because we are attempting to work with minimal infrastructure, mob grazing, and multiple species to manage the land. It’s easy to dump lots of money into land like this ($450 to mow the pasture!), so we’re taking it slow and finding natural solutions to management. There are lots of Bradford Pears sprouting everywhere, so we’re getting a couple goats to eat them. We picked up 6 sheep last weekend to eat the broad leaf plants in the pasture, and before that, we brought on a couple calves to eat the tall grass. We also moved out chickens to The Shire to scratch and spread the calves’ calling cards and sanitize the pasture. So far, the only failure is that we lost all three of our roosters to a raccoon.

We’re really excited about the changes (and lambs) coming. More updates coming soon!

To keep up on the day to day updates, you can go to The Shire’s Facebook Page.

Sheep on Pasture

How to Stretch a Pasture Raised Chicken (Serves 6)

How to Stretch a Pasture-Raised Chicken PDF

Meal 0

When you buy your chicken, it is important to also get the neck and the feet.

Meal 1Meal 1: De-breast chicken and use white meat in a meal such as chicken fried rice, pictured below.

Meal 2: Cut off thighs and legs and use dark meat in a meal, such as chicken salad, chicken burritos, or chicken pot pie.

Meal 3Meal 3: Make chicken stock/broth from the remaining parts (body, neck, and peeled feet). If boiled down long enough, this should produce 14-15 cups of chicken stock/broth. The leftover meat from the body and neck can be combined with the meat to make chicken noodle soup or for another meal

Meal 4-001

Meal 4: Use the remainder of the chicken stock/broth as the base for any other meal, such as Potato soup or in a pasta dish that cooks the pasta in the broth. You can also drink the broth straight.

Picking up the Nucs! (Bees 2015)

IMG_5877I picked up two nucs (nucleus hives) this afternoon to expand our apiary (bee yard). I loaded them both with some extra tag-alongs into my trunk (which is why I kept my bee suit on). If you want to get some weird look, just ride around in town with a bee suit on.

IMG_5880We started two hives last year, because we read that the survival rate for first year bee keepers is 50%. True to form, we lost one hive this spring. They were alive and flying some of the days in February, but they didn’t have enough stores to make it through the last cold snap at the beginning of March. It was the smaller hive that we picked up last May, so that makes sense. They also didn’t expand as much as the other hive throughout the year. IMG_5881The other hive is going strong. We opened them up today and saw lots of maturing brood, so their numbers should be growing a lot in the days to come. For that reason, we went ahead and added a honey super, so they have plenty of room to grow into. You can see that we added a queen excluder (about an inch wide) to the green hive, just above the third hive body, so that the queen won’t lay eggs in the top (fourth) box, and we can harvest honey from it this year! (very exciting!)

IMG_5882IMG_5884The nucs were driven from Florida yesterday, but they made it safe and sound. I prefer to buy bees raised locally which we did last year, but since my hive died so late in the winter, there weren’t any opportunities for that. It is extremely hard to find bees for sale as late as March. You really need to order bees in January. I also opted to buy nucs instead of bee packages to give them a head start. A bee package comes with a set weight of bees and a queen. They have to start from scratch, building out the comb before they can start laying eggs and expanding the hive. A nuc comes as a small hive, including frames with comb built out on them, eggs and brood, and some honey. As I unpacked the nucs, I checked each frame for the queen, just to put my mind at ease. I did see her in the second nuc but didn’t spot her in the first. I’m not too concerned, though, because there were lots of newly laid eggs in both.

IMG_5885We installed both nucs, then put some hive beetle traps. They fit in-between the frames and are filled with vegetable oil. The bees can’t fit through the holes of the trap, but they chase the hive beetles through them, where they drown in the oil.

IMG_5887It was a great day to install the bees. They took to the new hives, and we’ll be monitoring their progress with anticipation! Thanks to my Mom for all the help!

If you need help setting up a new hive, we can help on choosing hive placement, provide an equipment purchase list, and supply training and nuc/package installation assistance. Go to the Regenerative Landscaping Services Page for more info.

“Paradise Lot”

Do you live in the city and dream of owning a farm? You need to read “Paradise Lot”! This book changed the way I think about the home I live in and what is possible. Don’t let the farm you wish you owned stop you from fully utilizing the site you do own. Regenerative Landscaping can help you plan and prioritize projects to reach your greatest potential for where you are today! Fill out our Design Questionnaire to start the process.

Getting Ready for Spring!

I am so excited to be enrolled in the Geoff Lawton Permaculture Design Course this winter! This opportunity is giving me even more tools to help teach how to produce healthy food and do it in an enjoyable way. I am really looking forward to all the designs that Regenerative Landscaping will implement this spring!

RLFoodForestThat reminds me that I already have Seaberry and Naking Cherry bushes on order for this spring. I would like to start working with you on designing projects now, so we can order all the rest of the plants that are needed for a thriving/regenerative ecosystem. There are usually short windows that trees can be shipped during the spring, so contact me if you’re ready to start planning for this spring!

Here’s some inspiration for you!

“Restoration Agriculture” – Mark Shepard

20150108_154618 This Thursday, I had a great opportunity to go to the 6th Agroforestry Symposium, hosted by The Center for Agroforestry at Mizzou. There were many good speakers including a Land Owner’s Panel Discussion (see picture). They hosted the Agroforestry Field Day I attended back in October.


My main reason for going was to hear Mark Shepard speak and hopefully meet him. He wrote a great book named “Restoration Agriculture” that has inspired me in Regenerative Landscaping. I even have some trees on order from his farm in Wisconsin to try out for Regenerative Landscaping. I was excited to meet him and get a signed copy of his book. I hope to get a chance to implement some more of his big ideas on regenerative agriculture.


Psalm 1 – Tree Reference

Planting Garlic 2014

Today, we finally planted our garlic (about 250). We were about one week late, because we shoot for having garlic planted on Halloween. Planting is really a fast process: just make a row in the soil with a garden shovel and poke each clove in, right side up, spaced about 6-8″. I also space my rows about 6″ apart.

Agroforestry Field Day!

I drove 3 hours this morning to attend Mizzou’s Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center 2014 Field Day. It included a great, informational tour of many of their projects. Here are some pictures from the tour:

This is an area where they are testing different walnut varieties. I couldn’t help but think of how much it looks like a park. Imagine parks that gave you food! It would just take someone willing to harvest.

Walnut Test Varieties

They were also testing out Pecan varieties:

Test Pecan Varieties
Pecan Test Varieties

And Chestnut varieties (video of harvester):

Chestnut Test Varieties


One of the main ideas that I’m interested in from today is Silvopasture, which combines trees, forage, and livestock. The livestock get tree cover to shade them during the hot summer and protect them from wind during the cold winter. The forage (grasses, legumes, etc.) have a more even production throughout the year. The trees hold heat closer to the ground, extending the forage growing season, and keep them from overheating during the hottest summer days. During all of this, the trees get fertilized by the livestock!

It was a little chilly, but all in all, a great day of learning. I’ll leave you with a picture of one of the beautiful farms I passed on the way home.


An Intro to Chicken Tractors

Chickens are a great first step to becoming self-sufficient. Here are 5 reasons to get them and why our Chicken Tractors are designed to fulfill each role.

  1. The most obvious reason to get chickens is for the fresh, tasty, and healthy eggs.
  2. Teaching your family about where food comes from – Each generation seems to get farther away from where their food comes from, which leads to a loss of awareness in what food is healthy. Your kids will know how eggs are produced. You can’t say that about processed food. We have included our boys as much as possible in taking care of the chickens: from feeding them scraps, to gathering eggs. One important design consideration this has led to is making sure that the chicken tractors can stand up to four boys! it’s taken a couple of iterations to get that part down.ChickenTractor01
  3. Peace of Mind – You know what is going into your eggs and how the chickens are treated. Buying “Cage free”, “Free Range”, or “Free Roaming” eggs doesn’t necessarily mean they are free to roam in the idyllic scene you might picture (Reference: Mother Earth News). Part of making sure your chickens get all the fresh greens they need is by moving them to fresh areas on a regular basis. Our chicken tractors are engineered to make them sturdy but mobile. The first chicken tractor I built weighs 150+ lbs. and feels like performing a deadlift every morning to move it. Not so with the new design. ChickenTractor02
  4. Chickens will eat your bugs, till your garden, and fertilize the soil – Chickens are omnivores and love eating bugs. The boys also love catching worms/bugs/slugs and feeding them to the chickens. Chickens also till up soil if left in the same place for very long. That kills weeds and incorporates their manure into the soil, which is rich in nitrogen. Our chicken tractors are designed with the “Square Foot Gardening” idea that the ideal garden bed is 4 feet wide. With 4-foot beds, a person only has to reach 2 feet from either side. During the summer, we move them around in the yard, so the chickens have fresh greens. During the winter, when there isn’t anything green to eat, the chicken tractor fits perfectly over our garden beds and can be left in place for longer periods of time in order to till the garden, kill weeds, and fertilize the garden.ChickenTractor03
  5. Entertainment/Low Maintenance Pets – Kids love watching and holding chickens. Each chicken has its own personality and place in its social group. Being able to move the chicken tractor, means that you can have a clean floor in the coop/run anytime you want. This makes the chickens more accessible to you or your children without having to deal with a mess.

ChickenTractor04 ChickenTractor05Note: The chicken tractor in these photos is incomplete, and now has a blue metal roof like the one on our Services page.