Featured Tool – Seymour, Kenyon 14-inch Bow Rake With Aluminum Handle
Written by: Kirby Fry – Photo by: Elenore Goode
I’ve gone through a lot of bow rakes over the past 20 year and up until recently, I could only tell you what I didn’t like about them – the fiberglass handled rakes crack and split, the wooden handled rakes are heavy and frequently have the rake head detach.
Not too long ago, however, I was at Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply and spotted a very interesting looking rake. It had an aluminum handle which was light and strong and the rake head itself was welded and riveted onto the handle. There was one that was 17 inches wide and one that was 14 inches wide. I eventually bought both of them, but especially liked the 14 inch rake because the narrower rake is really good for tough jobs where the material you’re moving is heavy, inconsistent in size, and in large clumps.
It’s the first rake I reach for on a job site or at a permablitz.
The handle is 60” long, aluminum, and powder coated. It is strong, flexible, and durable. The rake is 14 inches wide with 13 tines, and is welded and riveted to the handle.
This bow rake has never even come close to failing me.
Featured Tool – Self-Leveling Rotary Laser Level
Written by: Kirby Fry
All photos © Elenore Goode 2019
This Bosch laser level is an entry level tool and can be purchased at most Home Depots for $499.00. It is self levelling, and has a range of 800 feet.
Who would need one of these tools? Builders and surveyors. The level has all sorts of applications. In the field we use it to survey conservation terraces, ponds, and to measure grades or elevation changes on slopes for locating roads and driveways. On the construction job site we can use the same level for determining the elevations of siding, doors, and windows.
The instruments I’ve used in the past started out as primitive, time consuming, and imprecise. In the US Peace Corps we used a simple A-frame with a plumb bob on it. Then for years I used a bunyip water level, or clear tubing filled with water attached to 2 yard sticks. My first laser level was a CST Burger rotary laser level but it was not self-leveling.
During our recent permaculture design course we used all 3 tools – the A-frame, bunyip, and laser level, and gave students the opportunity to experience a wide range of tools used to determine level and measure changes in grades.
Now I use the Bosch Self-Levelling Rotary Laser Level and there’s no going back to the more primitive tools unless I’m in a pinch. Laser levels can also be rented.
Written by: Kirby Fry
Razorback Shovel Long Handle Round Point – R248S LHRP
Earth Repair Corps, Interview with Pete VanDyck – 2018 06 20
By Kirby Fry
K: Pete, it has been my honor and privilege to work with you.
I believe that we first met during a permablitz maintenance event at Kealing Middle School around July 9, 2014. Since then, you have stepped up and filled some very essential roles for the sustainable design movement in Central Texas.
My gratitude goes out to you, and to EVERYONE else implementing best design practices.
Please allow me to ask you six or seven questions.
- How, and or why, were you drawn to regenerative design systems?
Thanks, Kirby. Yes, we did meet at Kealing Middle School and this is actually a photo from that day, good documentation there! Wow, I can’t believe how time flies! At first I was just interested in working outside with the land and plants, but I also had concerns about my own health, the health of society, and the health of our environment which made me want to look deeper into natural systems. It was the same as many other folks who find this path – it usually happens from either a health issue due to poor nutrition, environmental conditions, or being hurt in mainstream society. I was sort of all three. Permaculture Design has opened my eyes to the answers for all of these problems and since then I have been more focused than I had ever been in my life.
2. How did you first learn about permaculture and sustainable design in Central Texas?
After being stationed in San Diego, California for six years I finished my contract with the military and began searching for a new career. During my time there I had developed a skill in finding the right people to help me accomplish my goals. Really all you have to do is find the highest source of knowledge that you can and learn from that person. So I went seeking out Mr. Kirby Fry, who seemed to be that person when I moved to Elgin, Texas. I think I found out about the maintenance blitz at Kealing Middle School through Facebook. I first learned about Permaculture from Ben Falk’s great book “The Resilient Farm and Homestead”.
3. What are some important site selection criteria for a homestead or a farm that we should know about?
It’s very important to find a place with the capacity for redundant sources of water. That includes good wells and room for ponds and rain tanks. Access is also important – why buy land if half of it is inaccessible? Access can often be an afterthought when buying land, many folks figure that they’ll just be able to figure it out and everything will be fine. This can really throw a wrench in the gears when you are building a house and construction trucks cannot get to the building site, or the poor access keeps washing out, or roads are too muddy to cross, etc. I like a short road that’s high and dry, easy to maintain, and reliable.
The best place to put a road is on a ridge, so when you are looking to buy that property with the long easement that crosses multiple gullies my advice is to find a better one. I also like properties that are 20-50 percent forested. Trees make everything so much more comfortable in Texas, but I never advise buying fully forested properties. We ought to stay out of the brush and help reforest the land that needs the help. It’s also important to have a good solar aspect. Western facing hills can be brutally hot in the summer; I often find the biggest trees on the north side of the hill. Hills facing northeast seem to be the most comfortable in Texas for plants, people, and animals. I provide very reasonable pre-purchase assessments for anyone buying property. I can save people years of heartache with this service and I don’t think anyone should close on a property without getting professional eyes on it.
4. What are some important skill sets that we should know about in order to design a sustainable homestead?
It’s so important to find the right community. Getting a Permaculture Design Certificate is a really fantastic place to start. That way you learn how to think, instead of what to think. Then each person finds his or her own niche from there. Not everyone has to be a farmer or designer, we still need builders, teachers, medical professionals, and all the other important services. Equally important as the skill sets themselves is the person’s ability to apply their skills within the new paradigm we are creating through regenerative design. Designing a sustainable homestead really takes a vast amount of knowledge, having that community of like-minded individuals makes everything much smoother.
5. Please share with us some of your “hard knocks,” or what to avoid scenarios, that you may have encountered along your path.
Moving towards a regenerative lifestyle is not easier, it’s just different and can often be more difficult, but the rewards are great. Avoid long narrow properties; these usually cannot be sustainable or regenerative. Although long and narrow properties usually provide great return on investment for real estate investors, the shape of the property makes it awkward to properly place elements of a design in a way that is beneficial to the new landowner or the environment. Avoid long narrow access easements. Flash flooding is probably the most destructive force in Texas, stay out of the lowlands and keep dry. Seek professional advice as often as possible to find the cheapest and most effective solutions that will save money in the long term.
6. What are some of your aspirations for regenerative design in Central Texas?
I would like to see the re-hydration of the entire state of Texas so that our springs and rivers always flow year round. I’d like to achieve 100% ground cover 100% of the time on every project I am involved with. I think this great state we live in could become a beautiful work of natural art that is rich, abundant, and secure for generations to come. This is why I created my website, www.droughtprooftx.com. Other than that I just want to live peacefully and be a good example to others.
K: Thank you, Pete for your love of the land, your love of all life, and your love for wanting to do to help create agriculturally productive ecosystems.
Explosive abundance my brother,
Kirby Fry, Earth Repair Corps