Tiny Forest

Tiny Farm. Boundless Compassion.

   Jan 24

I am now DACQA Certified

The Dairy Animal Care and Quality Assurance certification is a voluntary program that maintains a high level of quality protocols in animal handling (dairy cattle in this case), husbandry and marketing. The certification training has three benefits:
1) It protects animal welfare by assuring quiet, calm and safe handling procedures throughout the life of the dairy animal.
2) It protects the safety of people who work with dairy animals.
3) It protects the consumer receives a quality product that maintains a high level of consumer confidence and safety.

I chose certification training to learn best management practices for my farm and dairy animals. Tiny Forest is committed to compassionate and humane sustainable practices in all aspects of our farming. Tiny Forest has also registered in the premises identification program.

   Jan 12

Sweet Garth Brooks Parody by Jonas Boys

   Jan 09

Crowdfunding for Tiny Forest

Sometimes plans are like sand castles: they crumble. 2014 was a treasure chest of experience which came from hard work and determination. Despite the hard work, however, a garden didn’t grow. The soil is acidic and eroded. It needs another path toward recovery and health, and a slower time frame. Despite the determination, Tiny Forest still did not find its niche. IMG_0006

For the past few months I have been rethinking my business plan and though the location is wonderful for a farm-based egg and dairy micro farm, there is not much opportunity for financial independence with milk and eggs and there is a lot of competition. It is not a niche that can support the potential of Tiny Forest.

For over a decade I have been inclined toward raising calves and have raised them informally, with the extra milk from three dairy cows I had at the time. It is work that does not seem like work and it is an agricultural area that has a lot of room for improvement in humane standards and ecologically-sound farming practices. I feel both these aspects are ripe for change. Dairy calves are abundant and many face miserable weeks of existence being raised for veal. A few decades ago the outcry from the public on crating and denying calves iron, space to turn around or light severely cut back the market for veal. It was the best thing that could happen for calves and for humanity at the time.

I have rewritten the business plan to raise “milk in peace” calves (calves for the humane certified veal market), starting with single groups of 10 – 12 calves. This is a local, custom and sustainable venture. I’ve added two dairy cows to the business plan. Aside from Suki who is now 15 weeks, I would like to acquire two additional Jersey cows so that the calves are raised on whole milk. I am dividing pastures for the Lamancha dairy herd and the calves. Goats and cows do not share the same parasites. Manure will be used to build up the pastures, which the hens will help compost. The pastures can then be reseeded to become productive. Additionally manure will be offered to area gardens when Tiny Forest has recovered.

Tiny Forest is committed to Deep Ecology, to the Deep Green (only peaceful) Resistance and to the reality that 95% of Americans are not vegetarian and animal livestock farming has become synonymous with factory farms, cruelty, deprivation, antibiotic resistance, environmental degradation and poor health. I have studied environmental issues for the past decade and have designed Tiny Forest to be a model farm for clean water and healthy soil. We have the opportunity to take back some of the wealth and power we have given away to industrial agriculture corporations, to take back the responsibility for our own health and the welfare of animals in farming. We can introduce the understanding of our mutual interdependence with animals and Nature and live as part of an overall living network on Earth instead of living as if humans are the whole point to the planet.

Yesterday, I launched a crowdfunding campaign to help Tiny Forest progress toward humane veal calf raising. I am asking everyone with an interest in Deep Ecology and Deep Green farming ideals to help spread the word and to contribute if possible. The goal is $45k for a calf barn with electricity and plumbing, fencing, pasture rehabilitation and the first year’s expenses including the first year’s calf groups, 2 Jersey cows, hay and milk replacer (for the first year). Calves will be raised to 18-20 weeks in biologically appropriate environments and offered locally. I hope to achieve Humane Certification within the first couple of years but will develop within their standards from the beginning.
This is the link to Tiny Forest’s campaign. My deepest thank you,


   Nov 05

Mooving toward a Jersey Calf

Last year with the debilitating pain of my joints, mysterious inflammation, fatigue and shock at the work needed on the land, I promised this year would be my favorite year. But this year has been just as hard. My entire crop failed, killed by an unknown black fungus. The fruit orchard has exeprienced one calamity after the other. I had to part with my child Catahoula, Zero due to my physical ailments and his endless energy and beautiful willfulness. I almost gave up on Tiny Forest. I almost thought it was way too much for one 50 year-old woman.
But it is November and I am still here. My doctor has put me on medication that has left me pain free at least for a while. The inflammations are gone for now. I’ve fenced off almost two acres for my goats, most of it by myself. I am in the process of building a barn, by myself. I found a wonderful Anatolian Shepherd to care for my herd of Lamancha dairy goats. I’ve weathered thunderstorms and parched soil, a broken down car, a broken refrigerator, hauling off unknown tons of glass, metal, rotten wood, plastic, et. al and I am still here and, things are looking brighter.
There is a Jersey calf in my horizon. Five weeks old with lovely big round brown eyes, long eyelashes and skin the color of dawn. I’m in love and it isn’t even spring. It is autumn. The land is winding down. Leaves have gone from green to yellow and red and brown. Winds sweep them away as they parachute down from the branches. The days are quick and rapid succession but it is still 2014. There is still time for this to be my favorite year.

I have always been a late bloomer.

   Oct 19

“Faith in humanity restored”

Sometimes when we are knee deep in the stories of the human impact on the Earth the days can seem a little dark. Human activities which make the headlines involve war, violence, pollution, corruption and other greed and hatred inspired acts. Sometimes we forget that there are people all around the world that feel the same way we do. Their small acts of compassion and self-sacrifice for a greater good, restores our energy to keep on, keeping on for a greater good in our small niches in this vast universe.

Earth Videos on Twitter: “Faith in humanity restored http://t.co/8sIagcsOie”.

   Oct 14

Tiny Worm Farm

Having long known the value of compost, of course a compost pile has been on the “to do” list at Tiny Forest but before I get to that I’m taking a detour into the real low down and taking a worm’s eye view of the soil problems on this land.

There has been neglect. The clay soil has been trenched all over for water lines and electrical lines and those trenches became conduits for erosion, washing the nutrients away in streams. IMG_0464

There has been abuse. Hills of trash and debris built up for generations have created air pockets in the soil. While some of the material has been breaking down, much of the plastic, vinyl, metal, glass and so forth will take ages to break down in future lifetimes, not this one. Meanwhile new top soil has formed over them and so to clear them away would not only be costly and lengthy and create new erosion problems, it will also mean disturbing the land again. Each time a bulldozer has been brought in to help with the clean up, especially those things I could not do myself, it has also disturbed something else. A bulldozer is a two-edged sword. I am learning to live with the junk cars peaking out of tree roots, knowing I will be fencing them off before the goats are let loose in these areas.IMG_0471

There has been abandonment. While neglect and abuse can be corrected and many people purchasing land nowadays will encounter trashed parcels they have to clean up, the combination of abuse and neglect here has been followed by a decade of abandon. Uncorrected, the soil composition has broken down and top soil has been lost. A field of wild blackberries attests to the acidification of the soil. There is little nutritional value which is why the crops failed this year. Rampant fungus outbreaks take over patches and kill vegetation. Wanting to avoid chemicals, I have found very little to combat the plagues of insects, the fungus and the starved soil.

So compost pile will wait a little while longer. I have been reading how African farmers are gaining hard-won victories on their depleted soils. If they can do it on African soil, which has endured generations of abusive and ignorant agricultural practices, I can do it here. On to the Tiny Worm Farm.

First I reorganized my storage and came up with two Sterlite tubs and washed and dried them.
Next I drilled small holes in one of the tubs for air circulation. There are holes on the lid and all around the upper sides. There are also smaller holes drilled into the bottom so it can drain.

The Lid

The Lid

After drilling the holes, I placed three old plastic containers in the second Sterlite container. IMG_1545
This one, without any holes, will be the base which will collect the nutrient dense worm juice as it drains from the top bin. The bin with the holes is placed inside the second bin.

The top with the drilled holes for air circulation and drainage is nested onto the second container.

The top with the drilled holes for air circulation and drainage is nested onto the second container.

Then I put in some empty toilet paper rolls, fruit peelings and plenty of dried leaves and hay.IMG_1547

Worms eat the equivalent of their weight each day. So if I start with a 1/4 pound of red wigglers, I need to make sure they receive 1/4 pound of food scraps (minus dairy, oils and meat) everyday. This is one beneficial way to return one’s trash to the soil. Worm castings and worm juice are nutrient dense and can power the crops next year to fruitful bounty, improving the immune system of the soil and the plants in a simple, natural recycling process. Here is a link to the worm bin plans I followed.

Stay tuned for the progress reports.

   Sep 30

Can Human Urine Replace Chemical Fertilizers? – Modern Farmer

Pee power. Flushing it down the toilet wastes a powerful and CHEAP fertilizer. Put the power back in your dollar: waste less, save more.

Can Human Urine Replace Chemical Fertilizers? – Modern Farmer.

%d bloggers like this: