Midwest Permaculture

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I recently went through the webinar series and I have just a few design questions from the "Marrow" text book.
1) How do you use sky-lighting in a way that doesn't leave your home with un-reachable windows that get dirty from tons of dust and bird droppings?
2) Marrow says feeding wildlife is bad, and I agree but I thought that meant human food and not out of your hand- in other words, what about bird feeders? Is that not proper/permaculture, either?
3) Marrow talks often of having chickens or ducks in your design but if you introduce ducks, won't they fly away? They're not much like chickens.

Thank you so much!

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Replies to This Discussion


You can use solar tubes as an alternative to traditional skylights. Light louvers can also be installed in the upper parts of the windows to direct the available light upward onto the ceiling.

An alternative to purchasing feed for wildlife is to intentionally plant certain things that they can use as a food source that you can also use. For example, I always let a couple of lambs quarter plants grow to their full size without pulling or pruning them. Once they go to seed and cold weather sets in the birds will eat and scatter the seed. This gives them a food source and provides me with a free crop the following spring. I have done the same thing with sunflowers, although I usually harvest the seed head before the squirrels get them and set them out later for the birds. I also have a couple of highbush cranberry bushes that provide privacy for me and late winter food for birds.

I have no experience with ducks, but my understanding is that they imprint on their owners if you get them when they're young enough and basically stick around because they're part of the family.

Thanks Thomas

Confirmation on feeding birds-planting so you invite and can sustain other creatures is definately loving. Im gathering using bird seed is not natural and therefore other ways of "feeding birds" like plants in general, is the more proper choice- am i understanding correctly?

How are your sky light alternatives used or how do they opprate? My thought of any type of design that brings light from above (like a roof) presents very difficult upkeeping for them to be clean. Would love to know more, thanks!

We feed wildlife here in South Milwaukee. Our plantings draw the attention of everything from birds to mammals so they all are eating from the garden. The trick is to plant something that will deter them as well as fill a niche. White Dutch clover for instance is a preferred food for rabbits and they will eat that before anything else except maybe tulips here. The baby bunnies are great experimenters and if it smells good they will nibble. Clover fits the bill for them. Birds are drawn to all the berries especially strawberries and saskatoons (Juneberries). Apples are thinned by the squirrels and they and the chipmunks totally devastate the hazel crop every year so there is no yield for us there except for the wood. They eat the flower buds in winter and the nuts in the summer.

Putting out some bird seed and cracked corn will supplement their diets and take some of the strain off of crop predation too. Cracked corn draws raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, doves, and other birds. White millet is the best alternative to regular bird seed mixtures which contain too much corn and sorghum as fillers. Black seed sunflowers are great and so are safflower seed. Put them in separate feeders from the millet. Same with unsalted raw peanuts and of course suet blocks. Those last two will attract most woodpecker species except flickers which love to eat the ants on the patio.

The best part of it all is that when you attract the birds and small mammals to your site they bring in other benefits including free fertilizer and insect pest control. Nesting woodpeckers will clean out some of your larger insects such as emerald ash borer. Smaller birds such as chickadees and nuthatches will eat scale insects off the bark of your fruit trees. Sparrows love the small caterpillars. The list of inter connections is almost endless. Basically by attracting other species and providing for their diverse needs with both plantings and supplemented feeds you can expand the guild benefits for every species available.

The ducks we have here are wild ones, mallards, and come every spring to mate here and to thin the emergent wild rice seedlings. A corn tray for them helps to draw them in also. Do not cut down seed bearing plants in the autumn and the birds will clean the seeds up for you all winter. Sparrows, juncoes, chickadees, and finches will all eat those seeds.

Alright- so now my only standing question is a better understanding of skylight options that don't include windows that are very un-reasonable to keep clean.
Thank you so much, Bryce


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