Tristan Vitali

+ Follow
since Sep 02, 2012
Tristan likes ...
cat dog duck forest garden fungi trees food preservation solar
south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand Pollinator Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Tristan Vitali

s. lowe wrote:Seems like your best option would be to target their larvae. What predates their eggs and larvae in the water? How can you encourage more of those to take up residence in the streams?

When you have the stream on your property, and no others within 2 to 5 miles, that might be a good option. I believe the larva is food to many of the predatory insect larva that go on to help feed various fish, especially trout, populations. The problem we face with these buggers is that they take up residence in any clean, cool waters moving 1 mile per hour or more (up to some threshold I'm not aware of) and hatch out in such large populations that the swarms move around on wind currents, reaching sometimes hundreds of feet above ground level. They spread out for miles in every direction, usually but not always downwind of their hatch site.

As an example, we're between 5 and 8 miles from the main river and 3 miles from major streams in multiple directions, all good trout habitat (read clean, cold moving water), about 250 feet higher in elevation from the streams and 400 feet higher than the river. This entire area swarms with black flies starting from early to mid may, depending on weather, and lasting until usually the first or second week of july. The only sites in this area that don't see much activity are the sandy, gravelly and/or barren sites with little vegetation or the extremely dense natural monoculture forests such as the dense cedar stands where the canopy has completely closed out direct sun. Neither of these is a diverse ecology, and so not something I'd want to mimic here for food forests and perennial garden systems. It seems that their favorite sites to settle when the swarms move out are areas with damp but not wet soil, open sites with available brush and tall vegetation, and open forests like orchards. That basically covers the perennial gardens and food forest type systems that are so productive we often try to mimic.

It really is a catch-22. If the problem is the solution, and the more restrictions you're dealing with, the more elegant your solution will be, the solution to this one should be truly, mind-blowingly elegant!

1 month ago

Alder Burns wrote:Not sure if this will work for blackflies but it might be worth a try....several places I've lived the mosquitoes were so bad that I made up a smudge pot....basically a metal can on a chain with a few holes in the sides, into which I put some dry stuff and get it burning, then follow with some slower stuff that will make a lot of smoke.  Sort of like a bee smoker (which would also serve the purpose).  I would take this everywhere I went in the garden, and swing it around me like a priest with a censer, and then set it down such that any air current would keep the smoke wafting around me! At least mosquitoes, and many other insects too, cannot stand to be around smoke!

Smoke definitely makes a dent in the clouds. We use old metal bowls stationed strategically around the gardens while planting - get some coals built and dump handfuls of wet leaves and pine needles on them, then hope the wind doesn't shift too often  Without that trick, planting wouldn't be started until july!
1 month ago

Tristan Vitali wrote:Anyone know if muscovies will tackle these little vampires? I know they're big fans of mosquitos....just not sure if their eyesight is sharp enough and their bills are small enough

God I hope they do...planning to get some baby mother-duckers this spring to help with the biblical swarms of mosquitos and the like

If they don't do black flies, though, I may never get "spring fever" again

Note to others in case someone happens along wondering the same thing...the answer is no. They haven't been affected by the swarms like mammals are (the LGD lives in a screened box all spring), but they don't even bother trying to eat black flies. Nothing works for them when you have clean running water anywhere nearby.
1 month ago
You know you're a permie when you congratulate people on landing nursery jobs

Boon Safty wrote:You know you're a permie when...

You weren't able to make the boot program for financial reasons, but when you saw a job posting for labor at a nursery thought,

"2 birds, 1 stone"

and got the job

Congrats  I worked as a "weed boy" at a perennials nursery when I was 16 - first exposure to things like the edibility of chickweed, "compost" as a thing you could do with "weeds" and "red wigglers". If only I knew what I was getting into, I never would have ditched the job to go fishing!
3 months ago
Came to the thread a little late but wanted to chime in because, well, I just can't help myself :D

I do honestly believe S Benji has it with the 80-20 thoughts

S Bengi wrote:
To me a permaculturist prepare for the top 80% most likely scenarios that one might face. They would have basic needs like water(well/rain catchment), food production (sugar-honey, vegetables, fruits, tubers, eggs/chicken/etc), electricity, heating, mortgage free house, food production, quality pots/pan/etc that will last 25yrs plus.  Now for the other 20% of unlikely scenarios such as mega volcano covering 1,000sq miles with 10ft of lava, invasion by space aliens, worldwide nuclear war with accompanying nuclear winter, they tend to focus less of there energy on that.

So 80% of the scenarios are permie know, continuation of what we have now with equal chances of things getting better and things progressively getting more "scary" as time goes on. The other 20% of the scenarios are the really scary ones: nukes and EMPs; cultural revolutions of the, umm, less "stable" kind; solar superstorms or sudden violent climate upheaval; supervolcanoes and volcanic winters ... list is seemingly endless. In fact, in my mind, the split would be closer to a 60-40 considering just how much could go wrong as we continuously roll the dice here on our little blue marble ;)  ...but that's me and likely a product of the types of media I enjoy :D

What Nicole says is pretty much where I landed:

Nicole Alderman wrote:
A big thing the survivalist mentality seems to lack is the idea that you really need to being doing the stuff NOW to get you prepared. Start to garden now. Learn skills now. Build community now. Learn to live with less now. Because if you're suddenly trying to grow a garden out of a "survival seedbank" while hiding out in the woods, when you've never gardened before, you'll probably starve.


Two in a half years ago, I wrote this thread, The reality of homesteading has dissolved my "prepper"/homesteading fantasies. I used to always think I'd just magically be able to rise to the occasion and be the hero in my own personal story and instantly know how to do all these things to survive. But then hard times came, and I realized, man, there just isn't TIME to learn and do all that stuff. It's best to learn it now, make the connections now, make the world better NOW.

So rather than buying buckets of seed in mylar and 2+ years of shelf-stable food to go with an armory fit for the US Army (and the stash of band-aids to match), a more "sane" approach might be to start growing your own food, work the kinks out, then figure out how to store that in a shelf-stable form. The armory probably doesn't need to be that large if you're likely providing food and comfort to community that will be there to help protect you in those worst-case scenarios. And as for the band-aids, how about packing that wound with yarrow and covering with a comfrey and mallow compress instead?

Permaculture is the ultimate mindset for the modern prepper - frugality, stacking of functions, building wealth in a form that's more stable than gold coins ... what's not to love? The so-called "purple-breathers" could never see it that way, but for us "brown permies", it's part of daily life (speaking of which, I think we've got some more runner beans ready for the pressure canner tonight!). Flowing with the cycles and being flexible enough to not only make do with what you've got but actually thrive with it (*insert Geoff Lawton's trademark "abundance" here*) is a hallmark of the permie.

Best advice to a newbie-prepper or budding survivalist that I would have is to start storing away concepts like pattern recognition, zones, TEFA, wildcrafting, polyculture and guilding, foraging, natural building techniques, herbal medicine and lists of nutrient accumulators along side those stocks of canned beans. Better - start practicing them now...then you don't have to worry so much about the EMP and ensuing societal breakdown ;)  If you get good enough at what you're doing, you just might find yourself helping to support a community that will be there to help when it truly matters.
4 months ago

Joy Yumi wrote:We are camping on a property with honey bees, and have just found that the "bee-keeper" kills the bees when it gets too cold to keep them.
He'll just purchase new hives next spring. I'm horrified by this!
Thought I'd make an effort to find them a good home.
Especially since there's such a shortage of honey bees in the world.

Can't take them myself - our state has some sort of license requirement I still need to look into - but this one definitely caught my eye. Hopefully someone in the area will be able to help.

4 months ago

Benjamin Bouchard wrote:First and foremost, you might consider one of the wooden Swiss snaths from someone like One Scythe Revolution.  

I'll contact them about pricing and shipping one. Those prices do make me cringe a bit, though. You know what they say - you get what you pay for, except when someone's charging twice as much as the item is worth due to shipping it in from halfway around the globe and paying a fortune in import duties  I'm amazed no one is making these within the continental US.

Benjamin Bouchard wrote:But if trying to "fix" this notorious issue with the Scythe Supply stem, you can pre-drill and pin to keep it from loosening, or you can turn the hole into a rectangular mortise and tenon arrangement instead and make your own replacement stem/grip.

Drilling and pinning sounds like a nightmare for the snath shaft strength, which I'd love to avoid. Like I said in the OP, I tend to beat the poor thing mercilessly while clearing brush and can't image removing any more wood. It makes me nervous just thinking about it. And making my own stem and grip would be great if I had the time, tools and skills to make something I wouldn't be ashamed of, but that's just not the case. The idea of a rectangular attachment helping stop the twisting-out issue makes good sense, but my version of rectangle would likely come out closer to a professional's version of "oval" at this point
4 months ago
I've been using a european scythe for several years now and love it to pieces. Actually, that's part of why I'm posting. It's in pieces!

I bought an outfit from the Scythe Supply up here in Maine. Picked up both a ditch and bush blade with the custom fit wooden snath. Everything works beautifully and gets tons of use around here. There's one big problem, though - the middle grip keeps coming loose. It's done this so many times, and I've had to strip/sand/re-glue so many times, that I'm at the point where I'm going to need a new snath entirely. It's all the twisting force when hitting thick and unyielding materials that's doing it, of which we have lots to content with (from saplings to rotting stumps, to huge/heavy clumps of perennial grass sticking up several inches above the grade, to the many, MANY rocks [that's our best growing crop!], to the walls of the ruts in all the old skid trails).

So what's the verdict from those who've tried everything? I mean, I'd love to stick with wood for the simple reason that it feels good in my hands, but this grip-twisting-out issue really needs to be stopped. It slows down the work, screws up everyone's schedules and makes things more difficult (very unpermie...things are supposed to be EASY!).

1) Will metal actually do the trick to stop this craziness from happening 6 times a season? Or will I probably just end up with a useless, bent over snath after a few weeks of whacking down the 2" thick yellow birch saplings growing into thickets in my so-called pastures? I'm not joking - I do beat my scythe mercilessly upon everything in my path, and I'd have it no other way... can the aluminum snaths stand up to this tyranny?
2) Is that inherent spring and flex of a good hardwood handle going to be *sorely* missed using one of these aluminum snaths? I'm talking literal sense here - I don't want to find myself getting sore using the scythe.
3) Is there a simple, smart, and durable way to make a wooden snath, specifically those like the Scythe Supply sells, not suffer the problem with twist-out of the lower grip? I'd love to continue sending them my business (they're local after all, and especially these days, local matters hugely). I'd imagine a metal pin driven through the snath at the grip attachment would help, but that could weaken the shaft and makes me very nervous. Perhaps something other than wood glue to secure the grip?

There's so little info out there on this specific issue, yet I imagine I'm not alone in encountering it... I'm hoping a fellow permie will have some advice for me / us  As always, thanks for all the responses ahead of time.
4 months ago
You know you're a permie when you rent a backhoe to "put in some drainage around the cabin pad" and "dig up some building materials" (clay for cordwood/cobwood construction), but that drainage just happens to be 2 large ponds, one of which is an expansion inspired by the kratergarten (crater garden) while the other is an expansion for a future fish and duck pond

plus there's two cattail settling ponds in the main drainage around the pad to increase the dragonfly and frog populations

plus there's a new small pond in the pasture

AND there's now a section of topsoil 10 feet deep for the future peaches

...oh, and some decent huglekulture

These pictures are a week old already - should have grabbed more today but the machine goes back wednesday and I have still have SO MUCH TO DO!
5 months ago

Jen Fulkerson wrote:Thank goodness I only planted 1/2 my seeds because not one sprouted.  I wish I would have started them in pots instead of in the garden. Oh well I will try again in the Fall.  Good luck to everyone.

Do be aware that the seeds of alliums are notoriously short lived in storage - I actually saved seed from my own potato onions last fall (originally bought from territorial years back) and not a single one sprouted this spring. I think it was the lack of proper storage - they sat in a pail in the shed over the winter rather than being stored dry indoors :(  They stayed cool and dry, but it just wasn't good enough for such a delicate seed I think. Big failure there and I'll be trying again in a couple years.

Even the onion seed I purchase over the winter has a very low germination rate by the time we get to middle summer, which is messing up my attempts to start overwintering onions (established plants first thing in the spring would be a lot better than trying to race the summer solstice every year in this climate!)

Give them some extra time to sprout because older seed that's nearing its end of life is often weak/slow/erratic in germination. I have some onion seed planted in april just coming up now in a seed tray I replanted with lettuce and broccoli a few weeks ago.
6 months ago