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January 2018
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Episode 143 Obtaining A Yield

Listener question:  About rabbits (but could have been about anything).  The question was how expensive are they to keep and is the return worth it?

Permaculture principle:  Obtain a yield.  Not get something back in return.  Depends on how you define yield.  I define yield as profit.  Now that may not sound very nature like or permaculturish.  But if if takes more calories to produce something than you get in return you literally can’t live off of it. 

 Now a profit doesn’t always mean you can see the reward.  If you plant flowers you might not actually get calories out of it.  But you get beneficial insects which protect your calorie crops.  You get pollinators which help make more food and thus actually result in more calories.  You plant cover crops and you get more nitrogen in your soil and lose less soil.  That makes production of calories better.  And sometimes the yield is just stress relief or beauty.  Some people will make the decision – I know it doesn’t return a yield, I’m ok with that.  I’m going to do it anyway.  But people who go in blind will end up getting disenchanted.

What is the most efficient use of calories and what is the most efficient use of land?  What is most profitable from a calorie standpoint to grow?  What’s the allocation?

Then what is most sustainable?  Do you even want sustainability? 

Are you comfortable with working a job, paying for animal feed or fertilizer and then eating pretty healthy stuff?  What is your goal?

 We get a system going and we realize that we are not profiting from the system in regards to calories, how do we make it more efficient?  We find ways to reduce inputs.  We find ways to get inputs that are less expensive.  Can the input be grown, harvested, gathered or foraged from your own land?  If not, can we get it cheap or free? 

 We salvage and reuse things over and over again.  Nothing leaves the property (although free and cheap things may certainly come in).   Garden feeds rabbits/us.  Rabbits poop.  Poop feeds garden.  Garden feeds rabbits/us.  Rabbits feed us.  Urine feeds garden.  Garden feeds rabbits.  Rabbits feed us.  Rabbit blood feeds garden.  Use and value renewable resources.  Nitrogen and carbon leave only when they float out as N or CO2.  And then we try to limit that.

 Let’s look at how some systems are ran.  We work.  We take money which is a result of work and we buy feed.  We feed the rabbits.  The rabbits feed us.  Rabbit poop, blood and our urine are discarded and never make it back to the garden  We buy fertilizer to feed the garden which feeds us alone. 

 One huge system that is inefficient becomes several smaller complimentary systems that are highly efficient and waste free.

Remember always that nothing is a result of no energy.  Laws of thermodynamics – first law, energy can be changed from one form to another but it cannot be created or destroyed.  No crop creates calories.  It takes sun energy and soil nutrients and stores the energy. 

 Second law – equilibrium.  Stored energy tends to entropy.  Return of energy back to the system.


1 comment to Episode 143 Obtaining A Yield

  • I agree, sometimes “yield” refers to the sheer enjoyment you get in return from whatever project you are working on.  Lord knows a true monetary ROI may never come on some of our ventures, but the satisfaction of doing things the way we want them done will have to be enough.  And don’t feel bad.. I’ve gotten in trouble for talking politics on facebook too.. LOL  That’s why I come over to YOUR page to do that stuff!  🙂