Since this experiment began I think the understanding of how artificial light and its parameters like wavelength and flicker rate affect us has come a long way! The image is one I've seen before and sums up why CFLS especially might be not-so-good for us as biological organisms. The webpage I pulled it from seems fairly comprehensive and legit too.
Both of these poems moved me to tears when I recently heard them recited. They seem to fit well with the theme here.
The first is written by Aubrey Marcus and is inspired by Alison Nappi's: A wild woman is not a girlfriend. She is a relationship with nature, which is also copied below. Enjoy!
A wild man is not a boyfriend, he is a force.
Can you love me in the blinding heat of a birthing star, when I shower warmth on distant moons?
Can you love me in the hole of the cosmic Black, where no one can reach me? Not even you?
Can you love me then too?
Can you love me when I drag buffalo skulls through the dirt for days, to the rhythm of an ancient drum?
Will you love me if my beard hides the scars in my heart, from battles I cannot explain?
WIll you love me when I lack courage, when I am defeated, when I won't let you patch my wounds?
WIll you trust me when I smell of sweetgrass and sage, and when I stink of whiskey and sweat?
When I drink from the cup and play in astral light, will you anchor me to Home?
What happens when my words don't work, and I can speak with only my eyes?
Can you love me enough to let me go, without asking me where I'll be?
I am no poodle to lay groomed on a leash at your feet. I am the wolf that fetches the bones of truth.
A wild man is not a boyfriend. He's not built for animal husbandry. He is a force. He is a cause for an effect. He is a mission.
Are you afraid to let me inside you? Not just my flesh, but my soul. The wild man is neither burglar or vandal. I will not take anything from you. I will not trample on sprouting seeds or pick flowers as a trophy. I am the sun on flooded fields and the fire for tangled webs.
Don't be scared, lover, mother, maiden, crone. Take me as I am.
Even if I have the power to destroy worlds, I will not destroy you.
A wild man is a protector. A father. A warrior for all that is good.
When the chaos seeks to obliterate you, sheering your flesh from bone, I will hold all the pieces together in love, until you are ready to reassemble.
When your seas boil, and your winds throw cars at corn fields, I will wait patiently for you to catch my eye, so that both of us can laugh.
When Hell opens up the fiery gates, and sends all the cosmos against you, I plant my heels deep in the ground. I lay my shield low. My sword is sharp then, my love. The steel sings sweetly. With a smile, Hoka Hey! My last breath a farewell kiss. Today is a good day to die.
For ours is the oldest love affair. The greatest story ever told. Cupid and Psyche, Shiva and Shakti, You and I.
Same same but different. Would we have it any other way?
A wild man is not a boyfriend. He is a force.
Allison Nappi's poem:
A wild woman is not a girlfriend. She is a relationship with nature.
But can you love me in the deep? In the dark? In the thick of it?
Can you love me when I drink from the wrong bottle and slip through the crack in the floorboard?
Can you love me when I'm bigger than you, when my presence blazes like the sun does, when it hurts to look directly at me?
Can you love me then too? Can you love me under the starry sky, shaved and smooth, my skin like liquid moonlight?
Can you love me when I am howling and furry, standing on my haunches, my lower lip stained with the blood of my last kill?
When I call down the lightning, when the sidewalks are singed by the soles of my feet, can you still love me then?
What happens when I freeze the land, and cause the dirt to harden over all the pomegranate seeds we've planted?
Will you trust that Spring will return?
Will you still believe me when I tell you I will become a raging river, and spill myself upon your dreams and call them to the surface of your life?
Can you trust me, even though you cannot tame me?
Can you love me, even though I am all that you fear and admire?
Will you fear my shifting shape?
Does it frighten you, when my eyes flash like your camera does?
Do you fear they will capture your soul?
Are you afraid to step into me?
The meat-eating plants and flowers armed with poisonous darts are not in my jungle to stop you from coming. Not you.
So do not worry. They belong to me, and I have invited you here.
Stay to the path revealed in the moonlight and arrive safely to the hut of Baba Yaga: the wild old wise one, she will not lead you astray if you are pure of heart.
You cannot be with the wild one if you fear the rumbling of the ground, the roar of a cascading river, the startling clap of thunder in the sky.
If you want to be safe, go back to your tiny room the night sky is not for you.
If you want to be torn apart, come in. Be broken open and devoured. Be set ablaze in my fire.
I will not leave you as you have come: well dressed, in finely-threaded sweaters that keep out the cold.
I will leave you naked and biting. Leave you clawing at the sheets. Leave you surrounded by owls and hawks and flowers that only bloom when no one is watching.
So, come to me, and be healed in the unbearable lightness and darkness of all that you are.
There is nothing in you that can scare me. Nothing in you I will not use to make you great.
A wild woman is not a girlfriend. She is a relationship with nature. She is the source of all your primal desires, and she is the wild whipping wind that uproots the poisonous corn stalks on your neatly tilled farm.
She will plant pear trees in the wake of your disaster.
She will see to it that you shall rise again.
She is the lover who restores you to your own wild nature.
The house work continues on and on and ON! Smaller and more simple would have been really nice! But life is complicated and messy, just like the bottom photo. We have the needs and desires of loved ones to consider and then there's all the other REALLY COOL STUFF life hurtles us through. It would be so nice if the house was completely done but all in all I wouldn't trade it for anything else! Soil health initiatives on my family's conventional corn and soy farm, agroforestry, raising mangalitza hogs and cattle, and lots of other fun and exciting things have pulled me away from this forum and the at times from the house project.
Progress does continue though! We've finished interior walls, prepared for exterior stucco, finished the roof and facia, brought the upstairs bathroom to 85% completion, and will soon completely finish the spare bedroom. Over the next 6 months I hope to at least quadruple the pace of the previous 6 months. This will be accomplished by keeping myself accountable, enlisting the help of family members and holding them accountable, hosting another cob workshop to wrap up some details, and putting my money where my mouth is by hiring some help from part-timers, handymen, and professionals. Some of the finishing woodwork details can be outsourced and I've found a local who's really good with a trowel.
Halfway through the winter of 2014-2015 we started "camping out" in the new house, still cooking and showering in the old one but now this is our 2nd full winter. The firewood supply is growing without effort so it must working! I think we're using about 2-3 cords per winter and it will only get better as we add efficiency measures such as thermal window drapes and seal air leaks around the ceilings.
Hope everyone who reads this finds their own personal best way to make positive impacts on the landscape!
Glare is a fact of life in a passive solar home, at least it is in mine that I'm on my 3rd winter in. Trombe walls could work but I can't share any personal experience there since I don't have one. Summer sun is mentioned in the comments here but with good design that can be minimized or almost eliminated. You probably already know to try to keep it fairly long and narrow East to West and of course the proper overhangs are critical.
Some of the finer design details: Pay attention to finishes on floors, window sills, and furnishings. My wife put a clear vinyl table cloth on the dining table and it bounces a bright glare into the kitchen. Floors can be tricky since smooth and shiney is easiest to clean but relatively matte finishes help out. We have a tall counter halfway through the house separating the dining from kitchen and this does deflect most of the glare from the floor. Colors are important too. As we know, dark colors absorb more and convert to heat while lighter bounces more light off.
Most passive solar architects now know not to over-glaze. Just having a 5-6 ft wall section not glazed creates a nice pocket to place a reading chair or something in. Of course the shaded areas farther from the wall shift throughout the day. We have a living area with a ceiling that goes to the upstairs with the window up high. This keeps the sun from that window mostly on a dark painted wall halfway through the house or upstairs.
Hopefully by next winter I'll be able to report back how an attached solar greenhouse impacts the performance. We have section 12 or more feet long with no windows that will be inside the greenhouse, there's a doorway to one side and a double-hung window to the other that can let extra heat into the house if we choose to open them. I imagine that the greenhouse will reduce the glare we currently get through the door since it will be diffused through the greenhouse glass first.
I see that someone mentioned various curtain arrangements but I can't report on that either since I don't have any yet! Getting insulating window drapes to close at night should help out a lot though!
Nothing's perfect but I will say that I'm extremely happy with the performance of passive solar in my climate. Over Christmas I was gone for 8 days and with no supplemental heat in MN I came home to 55 F downstairs and 60F upstairs!
Good luck! Hope this helped!
I still check this out occasionally, missed the notification this time. I'm not very close to Duluth, much closer to Iowa. I know of permie groups in the twin cities and there has been a get together around labor day at harmony park north of Albert Lea for several years now. I'll mention to that they hosted the north american permaculture convergence in 2014 in case you missed it.
Time for a new photo! I'll try to add a few more this week. Construction continues, we now have a few walls finished and I'll finally get that stucco on this summer. Even though it's still a construction zone, living in the new house has been great! We only used two chords of wood to get through the whole winter and this will get better yet as more improvements are completed such as thermal window shades.
I don't know much about horses. I rode one once. Never owned one. Never had a friend who owned one. Don't even know if I really like horses.
But here's the thing. I work at, and own part of a big conventional corn and soybean farm. 1400 acres, spray, GMO's, and all that lovely stuff. On my homestead, in stark contrast, no poisons are used and I strive for a regenerative, beyond organic approach with my livestock, so naturally I don't want to put my own animals out on the land at the conventional farm. I'm looking for other avenues such as working with livestock people using more conventional or "natural" methods and setting up custom grazing on the large farm to begin to integrate animals.
If I get my own larger chunk of land what I'd really like to do is take a conventional field and profitably restore it's ecological functions, ideally even treating contaminated runoff from neighboring fields. I could and probably will take the custom grazing/ finishing approach I mentioned above but ethically I still have a bit of a problem with this especially when dealing with contaminated runoff areas. Part of me says, "not my animals, not for my customers, not my problem" and they'd probably end up better quality than CAFO animals anyway. Would horses, that no one is going to eat be a better option in at least some cases to use for the restoration of agricultural land?
I don't know the facts but it seems like there could be a large problem with unwanted horses in the US especially with restrictions against using them for things that they might frequently be used for in other parts of the world when a horse gets too old to do whatever horses do.
Hope I haven't offended any horse lovers here, if you are one please share your thoughts. I'm looking for any way I can to take land away from the corn and bean machine to better care for people and planet.
A question for Grant or anyone else who cares to chime in.
What are some unique ways you've come up with to keep the animals, hogs or cattle especially, from ravaging newly planted trees? On small acreages it's hard (mentally and maybe economically) to give up areas for many years while trees grow up enough to stand on their own. Temporary fencing can be used to squeeze in tighter but takes time and material especially if the area has the usually desired irregular edges. I plan on using some large (about 20" dia.) plastic tile sections anchored with T posts, not too quick or economical with large numbers of trees though.
The only advice I can give is to clearly articulate what you want, formulate a plan (or maybe about 6 by the time you're truly on your way!) and most of all stick to it!
You will learn that most of the ideas in permaculture are nothing new, it's just a framework for trying to make some sense of it all and to obtain results that are not simply sustainable but regenerative. Answers to your specific questions will present themselves as you observe the situation and learn from other examples around the world.
If you're interested in rice be sure to read the books of Masanobu Fukuoka and check the sections of these forums pertaining to him:
Now that's a smart idea for something to carry! Last year a neighbor rolled over a tractor onto himself and was stuck under it for hours while his wife was inside nearby. He yelled, which evidently wasn't loud enough might have had to do the tractor on top of him, and banged a wrench against the fender and even though she heard that it still took that much time before she realized something was wrong and he wasn't just working on something.
A phone works too but a whistle could be better in some cases.
Glad you're okay Dale and thanks for sharing all the gory details so that maybe we can all learn something!
Maybe I'll rent a post hole digger for the skid steer instead, if it looks like a bigger hole would be good. I could use some additional holes around here anyway. I'll try the crowbar method first. Thanks for the replies!
I'd like to ask the crowd here what you think about using a mechanical trenching machine for planting trees.
I've got a couple hundred trees on the way here and I've spoken with a neighbor about renting his trenching machine for planting as well as running some seasonal livestock watering lines and an electric line. My plan is to make shallow trenches where I want the trees and maybe widen or rough up the sides if it looks like it needs it. My time is limited so naturally I'm nervous about getting that many trees in the ground and protecting the investment. I'm hoping that the trencher will speed things up enough so I can focus more on mulching, watering, and protection from critters as well as seeding support species. Also I might consider running a water line (not irrigation for the trees) deeper in the same trench. I wonder if or when the roots could mess up a black poly pipe.
Instead of defining 5 specific things right now (It's Sunday and I don't feel like it's the right time for that at the moment! Gotta do a lazy day once in a while!) I'll just do a few quick paragraphs:
This year I want to sharpen the focus of HOW to work towards the vision of regenerative land management in way that is financially viable, resilient, sustainable, and scalable. I'll continue to get to know my animal partners, the pigs, cows, waterfowl, and chickens by raising them the best way I can and attempting to better integrate them with the plants, earth, and infrastructure.
On the larger scale I'm going to interseed a diverse cover crop mixture into a conventional corn field and work out an arrangement to graze someone else's cattle in it this fall. This project is through a grant, so I'll have some help paying for it and with the planning. I can see a business plan emerging from this two year project if it goes the way I think it will!
A one acre plot needs to be planned out this year to be planted over the next year or two. This will be a challenging project since the goal is demonstrate a system that will be more profitable than a corn-soybean system while not requiring much more time to manage. To put the time component into perspective I just estimated that the direct labor time per acre in a conventional farming system is probably around 40 minutes, and that estimate may be high.
Lastly, I'd like to spend more time enjoying life with my family. And get more of the house done!
Thank you Paul and Jocelyn for sharing all of this, you guys are very brave for airing all of your shit out in the open like this. It's also in my mind another act of generosity shared in hopes that others will learn from it. I know certain people will use this against you and think "Ha! Paul Wheaton thought he knew it all! Not so smart anymore, eh?" But you continue to hold your head high, admit mistakes, and most importantly continue on towards your vision. Please keep it up, what's going on here and in the larger permaculture community inspires many others who are going to help move this forward.
It's really nice to get feedback from people who "get it" and understand mostly what I'm doing and why. There has been a fair amount of local interest too, which has been a goal of this project from the start, but the conversations usually aren't very in depth. There's something to be said though for getting lots of practice explaining concepts such as passive solar, round timber construction and why this type of stuff matters.
9 out 10 acorns!
(only because I'll probably never give a 10)
This book changed the course of my life to some degree. About 8 years ago I was reading something and it mentioned seedballs. "what the heck is a seedball?" I wondered. So I googled it and found a video, "whoa, look at that crazy looking old dude with the long grey beard!" I thought. From there began the path that forever changed the way I thought of the concepts of 'nature' and 'farming' or at least made me more aware of it.
"Do nothing" farming is something we can all take many lessons from in this book Fukuoka seamlessly shifts from practical and tactile to the philosophical. He examines the limits of the scientific, reductionist approach and provides concrete examples of methods he has used.
I read this one about a year and a half ago and so much of the information is still fresh in my mind. Now that I just got cattle of my own I think I should get my own copy.
This book goes into such amazing detail and provides a blueprint for running a grass fed cattle business that I sincerely believe will lead to success for anyone with the patience and discipline to follow it. The philosophy presented by the author that forms the foundation for this instructional manual can be applied to any personal endeavor.
I'd like to see a lot more information with this level of detail on this forum. SIP's were never a major consideration in my own project but if they were I would have wanted do research well beyond what manufacturers and installers have to say about it. At first glance they do seem like an attractive option for roof panels.
Did this project ever take off? I see it's an older posting.
I love this idea and ever since attending my cousins wedding outdoors in the woods at a state park, I've had renewed interest in this type of thing. That area was was sloped downward toward the front with benches for seating under a full canopy of mature hardwoods. A wooded slope along a lake provided a backdrop.
One thing we noticed is that they trenched in electricity, this enabled music on an amplified acoustic guitar to fill the area.
I could see this going so many places especially over time with planted tree and shrub species and taking advantage of unique natural materials of the area. This type of project is only limited by the imagination!
Here in the mid-west 4-6" auger flighting (the screw part) and tubing can be found for scrap price or less. Check auctions or salvage yards. To move compost something oversized like 12" or larger might work best to prevent bridging, just gear it way down so it can be turned by hand or slowly by a motor.
At the conference between speakers and at mealtimes they set up presenters at tables to answer questions and have discussions with the attendees. The executive director of the Sustainable Farming Association John Mesko gives the introduction to this podcast. I found it interesting that he used to work for Dow Agri-Science and then began changing course after a family member developed food allergies.
Here's a really cool online tool I learned about at the conference. The picture is the older "legacy" version, a little quicker and easier to use. I also tried out the updated version, with much more info taken into account. In the beginning of the process you enter your top three resource concerns or goals for you cover crop mix. Almost every speaker at the conference and countless articles I've read emphasize that you need to state what you're hoping to accomplish in order to put together an effective mix. Most mixes used as examples at the conference contained at least 10-12 species and represented each of the 4 categories of cool and warm season grasses and broad leafs.
If you play around with these calculators pay attention to the carbon : nitrogen ratio. 24:1 is supposedly ideal, Gabe Brown looks for higher since his extremely active soil biology quickly consumes the residue or "armor of the soil". Another key figure is % rate so you know dense your planting will potentially be.
One thing that Gabe Brown really tried to emphasize is this: "Carbon drives farm profit."
He repeated this every time he spoke at the conference. Here are a few figures I copied down;
Each 1% of soil organic matter can be equivalent to over $500 per acre if you tried to make up the difference with purchased fertilizer (it was significantly over $500, I didn't catch the exact amount)
Each 1% of soil organic matter (SOM) has the ability to hold 25,000 gallons of water per acre
2/3rds of SOM is derived from plant roots instead of the above ground growth
By following the principles of soil health and using tools including ultra-high stock density grazing it's possible to build over 1% SOM per year
To illustrate the last point it was reported that on Gabe's ranch they brought one area tested from 3% SOM to 11% SOM in I believe he said 6 years!
Stay tuned for more info from my notes including some more specific and practical steps and methods we can all put to use!
Really a topic for a different day but I can share a bit more right now.
My day job is on a conventional corn and soybean farm "Haase Family Farms" and we've enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program. It basically gives us money to with the requirement of choosing and implementing certain changes on the farm that address resource concerns. I admit most of the "enhancements" as they call them don't provide much ecological bang for the buck in my opinion but some of them as previously mentioned read like they were written by one of us, terms like "alley cropping" "silvopasture" and "diverse planting of edible woody perennials". When I met Mark Shepard at the NAPC last summer and I mentioned this if my memory is correct he replied "you're welcome"
Anyway... I'm willing to use my entire portion of the payment from this program to invest in one of the enhancements we signed up for which is to plant a one acre "buffer" along the north edge of a field about 5 miles from my place to edible perennials and multi-use support species. I'm very excited about this project and will have lots to share in the future. It's going into the ground spring of 2016.
If you're interested in CSP talk to your county NRCS agent, I'm not sure what the requirements are. For the application your farm will be evaluated by their criteria and assigned points. I don't understand everything about it only what is required by me and my farming partners.
What is his biggest obstacle when it comes to convincing conventional ag farmers to switch to more 'unconventional' eco-practices as he is doing?
Very short answer from Gabe: "The farm program" he called it "antagonistic" towards what he sees as progress and good practices.
I can try to expand on what I think he meant by this knowing that Gabe doesn't use the federal crop insurance program or other USDA aid. For one, crop insurance places restrictions on the use of cover crops so that inter-seeding is, to the best of my knowledge, prohibited. There are many additional restrictions too, some depending on geographical region. Also any type of subsidy undermines the function of the market and potentially discourages farmers from taking advantage of free natural services to enhance soil health.
When I asked Gabe what he believes is his own personal greatest strength as a farmer he responded that it was that he didn't grow up on a farm and therefore is much more open-minded than the typical farmer. (My own thoughts starting here) Again back to the corn/soybean-centric farm bill, it does nothing to help shift the paradigm and look for a better model.
On a side note, I've found a silver-lining to the farm bill thanks to the hard work of a few individuals who I believe include Mark Shepard. The conservation stewardship program includes funding for activities that read like they were written by a permaculturist and I'll be using this funding to establish an acre of edible woody perennials in 2016, there will be a thread on this!
I'll be attending a conference next week and signed up for a small group Q and A discussion session with Gabe Brown. If anyone has questions for him I'll try to get them answered. I just started a thread here.
For next week, I signed up to be in a small group setting with Gabe Brown and will have the opportunity to ask at least a couple questions and hopefully many questions. Does anyone have any burning questions that they would ask him if they could? I'll do my best to get as many in as I can as long as they seem appropriate to me and maybe even if they don't. I'd love to act as a permies ambassador if that's okay.
It's next wednesday Feb. 18th 2015 so get them in soon!
Anyone have tips about poo-lessness and itchy, dandruff, flakey head?
I haven't used shampoo for close to a year now and it's going pretty well, no smell or greazy-ness but my hair usually seems too dry and I sometimes actually add a bit of oil but the wife hates it since it stains my pillowcase over time. The flakiness has been a problem my whole life and while I hoped going poo-less would solve it, it hasn't and has probably gotten slightly worse.