Can we kick it off tomorrow? I need tonight to finish up.
I'm back! Not that anyone was waiting on my shining light but I'm relieved to be able to say it, from an upright position with my mental capacity somewhat intact. I need to go do a quick dig through the last two sections to stimulate a thought process and then I'll just jump in if that works. I'm glad to see you've kept at it :)
I found this chapter to be enjoyable (and not so intense!).
My parents built a new house about 5 years ago on a site that had been a pasture for years and years, then was left to become very overgrown. When they were ready to build, they came through with heavy equipment and leveled everything and graded it flat. Then of course the lawn didn't go in forEVER and the soil was left bare for I think 2 growing seasons. Such a wasted opportunity!! I see this all the time in my area as folks build new houses on former farm fields. No earthworks. Flat. Bare soil. All you have to do is read this chapter once and it becomes so obvious! Duh.
I didn't get too excited about slopes and levels. It's interesting, but I don't have any projects in my near future that will require that knowledge. My little part of the world used to be mostly prairie. Not a lot of steep slope around here.
I was really fascinated by fig. 9.19 - the earth-compacted wall construction. A barn like that would be amazing. A google search only got me info for complicated home construction, though. I'd like to find more info on this.
I had to chuckle when he started describing machinery. I've got 2 little boys who are obsessed with trucks & tractors. And my brother works for Caterpillar. I pretty much already knew everything in that section. It only took 9 chapters to find something I could skip.
Meadow, you're right of course about the embracing of machinery. I was vaguely surprised about that when I first came across it (in Sepp Holzer's book as well), but you crystallized it with your description. If I had the energy, I could see making some changes on my property with an excavator or dozer. It seems so destructive initially. Seems like stepping backwards. But adding berms upwind from my house & garden, digging out a pond, adding one or two swales on my gentle slopes - the long term benefits would be awesome.
As far as the philosophical stuff... I'm a cynic. Sure, it's possible some, even many, of us could learn to act differently. But most won't. Not of their own accord. (full disclosure: I worked in public health. people don't want to change their behaviors. cause change sucks. it's too hard. people didn't start wearing seatbelts until it became law. same with helmets. people didn't stop smoking until government warning labels became law. then tobacco taxes went up. then smoking bans took effect. waiting for individuals to change on their own will never work. ever. education won't do it. marketing campaigns won't do it. scare tactics definitely won't do it - remember the black lung pictures?) Yeah yeah I know. I'm a ray of fuckin' sunshine. On the other hand, gardening, urban gardening, organic growing, diy, homesteading, and yes, permaculture, are all steadily gaining popularity and prominence in our culture. Awareness about GMO and the pro-labeling movement is consistently found in the mainstream news outlets (finally!). Lots of people are at least AWARE that things need to change.
I was surprised to see how much of this chapter actually applied to what I see in my urban community already...the parks department has done an excellent job of incorporating these design ideas over all ;).
That said, for the most part, earthworks fell kind of flat for me. I'm sure it's mostly a been here done that issue when trying to apply ideas to the family property (how is it that the old people knew so much with so little "education") and in town, other than the parks and soccer fields, there is very little earth to maneuver without a jackhammer and probable jail time... so, lots of ideas with no postage stamp applications.
I appreciated that he mentioned the rhythm that comes with doing things by hand as well as the nod to machinery. I own heavy equipment (I have to admit to driving a "big ol' truck"). I both respect and value how much easier they make my life. But I do think that the focus on bigger, better, faster came at the cost of actually participating in our work & being a part of our world to some extent. I think that's sad.