Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Things to do to save your soul and help the planet

Remember all those things you could do to save the planet?  Did we do them?  Did they work?  Given the dire forecasts for the years ahead, like this post from Guy McPherson, I think I'll just try to stay sane.  Here are some old and maybe new ideas in no particular order.

1. Drink water from free water systems, not plastic bottles.

2. Quit driving. Walk, ride a bike, or don’t go.  Or bum a ride.

3. Watch sunrises.

4. Grow food.

5. Replace lawns with gardens or wild vegetation.

6. Plant trees, even though you may not see the fruit.

7. Compost your shit. For heaven’s sake, stop dumping it in drinking water!

8. Catch rainwater.

9. Re-use grey water from your washer, shower, or kitchen.

10. Generate no waste.

11. Quit using the word “waste”, because then you will see things as resources.

12. Turn off the damn lights when you leave the room! Didn’t your mother teach you that?

13. Tell someone they’re beautiful.

14. Raise an animal, butcher it and eat it.

15. Buy from locally-owned businesses.

16. Use a local currency.

17. Shop at farmers’ markets.

18. Plan a ‘green burial’.

19. Darn a holey sock.

20. Hug someone you love.

21. Go for a walk with your children.

22. Decorate a plain surface with found or repurposed objects.

23. Learn to identify ten new plants.

24. Offer gratitude before each meal.

25. Make music, either alone or with others.

26. Recycle your television (and don’t just watch TV online).

27. Define “enough” for yourself, and then get there.

28. Get rid of ten things you haven’t used in two years.

29. Eat some wild food.

30. Cook dinner from scratch.

31. Know that you are good enough just the way you are.

32. Plant flowers that honeybees and other pollinators like.

33. Acknowledge the inherent rights of other organisms and act accordingly.

34. Include water, air, soil and rocks in the above.

35. Take some food to your neighbors.

36. Plant flowers.

37. Take a day off from work. Repeat regularly.

38. Give a handmade present.

39. Give a gift of your time.

40. Obtain something through barter.

41. Invest in relationships.

42. Help a neighbor with a project.

43. Invest in a new independent business start-up.

44. Join and help out at a CSA farm.

45. Take a class or read about permaculture.

46. Try a cotton “pee rag” instead of toilet paper. Wash it when you’re done.

47. Talk to a plant and listen for a reply. (You’ll hear it in your heart.)

48. Designate one day a week in which you buy NOTHING AT ALL; a shopping Sabbath.

49. Use a hand tool in place of a power tool on your next project.  (Hammers don't count!)

50. Post this list where you will see it regularly. See if you can check off these things in a year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This year's chicken project

We're scaling up a bit from last year's 18 hens for meat.  This year it's two batches of 25 Cornish roasters. Giant feed-sucking meat-producing mutants. I'm planning to finish some at about ten pounds so they dress out to nice Sunday-dinner size 7-8 pound roasters.
The first new addition was a hoop-style coop that can be used as a greenhouse when the second batch of chickens is done with it, in true permaculture function-stacking style.  The plastic sides roll up 2/3 of the way for ventilation.

I call it the Chicken Cathedral after the gothic arch design made with PVC conduit (gray stuff is more sunlight resistant). I'd cut the 10-foot lengths down to 8 feet next time, instead of leaving them at 9 feet.
Some construction details for the DYIers:
Plastic ridge pole notched to take arches and couplings.  Must think about snow load!

The wood frame and braces are 1x3s to reduce weight, so I attched the chicken wire with wood screws and washers. Pounding staples would have knocked the whole thing apart.

Involving the next generation in making the door from a leftover 1x10.  LR was a big help!

All moved in! 
I add straw bedding when things start to stink, and we recently moved the whole thing about 12 feet to sheet mulch a new section of garden.  The first batch is about ready to "move to the freezer".  They will actually eat greens and garden scraps, too.
We've hung burlap coffee bags on the sides for shade, and on hot days we spray water on the bags to provide a bit of air conditioning.  The heat has definitely slowed growth a little.

Update 26 September:
We raised 48 chickens, totalling 307 pounds (average = 6 lbs dressed wt.).  Even with increasing feed costs, we managed to do it for about $1.50 per pound.  The birds got mostly non-GMO grain, but we ran out toward the end.  Next time I might butcher earlier and shoot for an average of 4 - 5 pounds.  Pretty happy with the Cornish Roasters!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sugarin' 2012

It's begun early this year. I tapped our maples yesterday, and thanks to a wonderful Christmas present, most of the sap runs downhill on its own!!! Twenty-four of the thirty trees are connected to tubing, which gathers and runs down ...

to the shack (sorry about the thumb).

The line empties into the barrel, which can be drained into the pan through the green hose.

There's been a lot of wondering about sap quality this year, thanks to the insanely mild winter in the Midwest. We've only had snow cover for February, really, and hardly any really cold weather. What will we get??

Sugar levels test at about 2%, in the same range as last year, so it will probably be just as sweet. For us, it's partly about the ritual. It just wouldn't seem like spring if we didn't get our maple tonic.
Migwech anininaatig!
(Thank you maple tree in Anishinabemowen or something like that.)