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Month: September 2017

Books: Robbing the Bees

Books: Robbing the Bees

“Ace handed me a plastic bear full of his most recent harvest, and when I tilted it to my mouth, head back, eyes closed, I really experienced honey for the first time, standing next to its creators. In that glistening dollop, I could taste the sun and the water in his pond, the metallic minerals of his soil, and the tang of the goldenrod and wildflowers blooming around his meadow. The present golden-green moment was sweetly and perfectly distilled in…

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Pressing Apple Cider with my Neighbor

Pressing Apple Cider with my Neighbor

Background My next door neighbor, from a family that values the traditional self-sufficiency skills, is an avid maker and consumer of apple cider. Every year he is out with friends in the fall making gallon after gallon of delicious fresh cider. For the most part, he stores it in a dedicated freezer, having developed the habit of drinking cider regularly throughout the year. I, on the other hand, have realized that I rarely think to drink fresh cider if it…

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Beekeeping: Combining my Hives

Beekeeping: Combining my Hives

I have been remiss in discussing what has gone on with my hives in my first year of beekeeping. There are pictures on the beekeeping page, but I have failed thus far to write a good description of the story. Long story short: my bees swarmed in early July. This is not normal behavior for bees in the first season when they are still filling out a hive. As near as I can tell, they overbuilt due to rapid weather…

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The season is changing, Fall is here

The season is changing, Fall is here

There was a hard frost overnight. It’s the second one, but it seems like a killer- though some of my sensitive plants weathered it surprisingly well. It’s always bittersweet, watching it go from summer to fall. It’s particularly difficult to know how to think about fall this year. It was a brutal, long, energy sucking winter last year. It was late to get anything in the ground. I don’t think anyone is ready for winter to come. And as I…

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Books: Farming for Self-Sufficiency

Books: Farming for Self-Sufficiency

“Now, the sort of self-sufficiency which I wish to treat in this book is not the old, pre-industrial self-sufficiency: that of the illiterate peasant or hunter who has never heard of anything else. That kind of self-sufficiency is, for better or worse, on the way out. What I am interested in is the post-industrial self-sufficiency: that of the person who has gone through the big-city-industrial way of life and who has advanced beyond it and wants to go on to something…

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Books: The Owner-Built Homestead

Books: The Owner-Built Homestead

“Reduced to its simplest terms, a homestead is an ecosystem in which humans evolve in mutual association and coexistence with plants, animals, and other life forces. In this cohabitation the various components of the homestead germinate, develop, and mature at varying rates for varying purposes, all interdependent and individually supportive of life therein.” – Barbara and Ken Kern, The Owner-Built Homestead.  The Owner-Built Homestead, Barbara and Ken Kern, 1977 (Second Edition). The Owner-Built Homestead is a classic text on neo-homesteading…

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Books: Farmers of Forty Centuries

Books: Farmers of Forty Centuries

“The great movement of cargoes of feeding stuffs and mineral fertilizers to western Europe and to the eastern United States began less than a century ago and has never been possible as a means of maintaining soil fertility in China, Korea, or Japan, nor can it be continued indefinitely in either Europe or America. These importations are for the time making tolerable the waste of plant food materials through our modern system of sewage disposal and other faulty practices; but…

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“Can American Soil be Brought Back to Life?”

“Can American Soil be Brought Back to Life?”

When North America was first settled there was rich, thick, virgin soil all the way from the Eastern seaboard through the Great Plains. This incredible fertility was a major driving factor in the country’s unprecedented economic growth. However, the soil has been taken for granted, plowed, shredded up, worn out, washed away, and covered in chemicals- left as little more than a sterile growth medium. When the famous Dust Bowl took place much of the damage had happened in just…

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Beautiful Finished Compost

Beautiful Finished Compost

I got some good pictures of my lovely finished compost with the wife’s properly working camera. It was a long wait to have this finished compost, but I’m sure it will step up my whole gardening game. My main problem was that I kept needing the organic matter for mulch before it was completed! Few things have the lovely smell and feel of proper compost.