It happened so gradually, I didn’t even see the transformation taking place. A year ago, almost to the day, I was still a normal person. I could wander around outside, and just see terrain. It would be pretty, or it would be boring. It would be desert or it would be alive. It could have cows, or chickens or fences, but I would just see it as it was and move on. I was but a passerby in the great system that is our world.

 

Now, that’s different. Now when I look out at everything around me, my eyes are already mapping contours on the ground. I see where the water will flow when it rains. I see where trees can be added to a space, and how it would change that areas around it. I can estimate how much sunlight an area gets and know what to do to affect that amount. I look at bare dirt and immediately start looking for a source of mulch to cover it and start the healing process.

 

Somehow, without even realizing it, I have become a permaculturist, and there is no going back now.

 

This was spectacularly rubbed in my face last month. Last month, my wife and I took a trip from our dry and rocky desert home in Tucson, AZ to the much lusher and more livable portion of the state in the White Mountains. In the five years we have lived here, we have taken three trips up there. It is beautiful up there. In 100 square miles, you can see every type of terrain known to man. Everything from harsh desertscapes to alpine lakes to grasslands that look like Kansas. We absolutely love it, and always have a wonderful time driving around and just looking at the different landscapes.

 

Each time we go up there, we stay in the town of Show Low, as it’s the biggest community in the area. Show Low is tucked into an alpine forest, and surrounded by trees. If you drive slightly to the east, it opens out into grasslands where they graze adorable little Hereford cows, and you can see them out on the plains. In the past, my reaction was always to look out and moo at them, then drive on.

 

This time I saw the scenario with all different eyes. The trees didn’t just happen to stop and that’s where they were grazing cows, the cows had created the grasslands from destroying the trees. The cows were spread out over way too much space, and were in the process of overgrazing entire ranches. The most useful land in our state was being destroyed without purpose. Yet I didn’t see a hopeless scenario, I knew how to fix it.

 

Immediately my mind was contour mapping the properties, and breaking the grazing areas into smaller spaces for rotations. I knew the area got about 18 inches of rain in a year, which is plenty to regrow the forests. Swails could be cut into each of these pastures to catch as much rain as possible. The cows could be fast rotated through much smaller areas and create a much healthier eco system. Rather than relying on just cattle farming, these ranches could also tractor thousands of chickens through and create a second stream of income. That would help the people as well as building fertility with …

 

Crap!

 

Somehow when I wasn’t looking, my brain has become hopelessly infected with permaculture. It has passed the information consumption portion of the learning, and is now fizzing away at the incredible urge to DO something. There is no problem too big or too small, I just have an incredible urge to tackle them. If you continue with this learning.

 

I even know when it started, yet it was such a gradual change I didn’t even notice it happening to me. The knowledge just reached critical mass at some point, and it all clicked for me. Granted it was probably about 3 months after it clicked for my wife, she is a natural which is God’s way of keeping me humble, but that’s another story.

 

Last year I started listening to “The Survival Podcast” by Jack Spirko. I really wasn’t into the whole food storage and survival aspect, but he would mention permaculture every few episodes, and I was intrigued. He would talk about these two gurus, Geoff Lawton and Sepp Holzer, and how they were doing great things. This Jack guy was using their teachings to grow food in the Arkansas hot dry summer. I looked around at my hot dry Tucson summer, and figured I could learn something.

 

I got tired of waiting for more mentions of these guys, and I went straight to the source. I watched Geoff Lawton’s Urban Permaculture DVD, and it was all over. I just had to learn more. So for the last year I have spent as much time as I can poring over every scrap of information I could find on permaculture. It has saturated my brain and my being. Now, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t turn it off. Permaculture is every where, and you can see the world with new eyes.

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