glen summers

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since Nov 24, 2013
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Recent posts by glen summers

Hey Travis

Ya, I agree with  not raising animals.  Lots of better ways to spend your time and resources at first.

You mentioned that you have Russian olive.  This is an invasive plant that you may find to be a nuisance.
Difficult to get rid of and hard to keep from spreading.  I don't have experience with this plant specifically,
but I have experienced autumn olive and bush honeysuckle.  These two plants will own
your property over time if you let them get ahead of you.

Another "invasive" plant to avoid even though it is native to some small areas of the eastern US is black locust.
I grew up just south of you in Wayne county and our neighbor planted these along his property line with us.
As these trees grew they began to send out lateral roots which sent up sprouts in our garden.  
None the less, thinking it would be nice to have this useful wood around, I planted a dozen or so of our
neighbors sprouts here on our place in IN.  I now have over an acre of locust trees and they are expanding
exponentially...and that is despite merciless harvesting.

I think a good rule to follow when starting plants is, as far as possible, use what is native.  
Other than food species, keeping it native will lessen the chances of introducing something
that will cause problems.

Finally, I'm not sure that you will be able to get a living fence to hold hogs.  Would be good to hear from
hog farmers on this.

3 years ago
I’ve had neighbors of all stripes ranging from wonderful to not so hot.  Fortunately, never any really bad ones.  One neighbor we had in KY liked to, as another neighbor put it, stir up shit and sit back and watch what would happen.  

My family has owned the land I live on for 75 years, 40 years of which they were absentee owners.  When I moved here in 1986, it took me several years to convince people that they could no longer have free use of our land.  They thought all those years of unhindered use conferred some form of permission to continue.  It was necessary for me to inform them how lucky they had been to have had the free use of our property for all those years but that would no longer be the case going forward.  I now have little problem with chronic trespassers…other than ginseng thieves which is a whole different level of aggravation.

I like the response of John Wolfram.  Working with your neighbors is a great way to build a positive relationship.  You may be able to limit a neighbors incursions by “giving him permission” to use a piece of your property if he abides by your rules.  Give him the exclusive right to ride his 4 wheeler through your place as long as it doesn't turn into a ATV highway and there isn't trash lying around.  He may then help you keep others out.

Hopefully, you had the seller survey the property before you purchased it.  If that is the case, you could contact the surveyor to confirm the location of the corners.  If stakes are already present, you could drive fence posts….deep….to emphasize the stake's presence.  Marking the lines with tree marking paint would help as well.  I try to err on my side of the line just a bit when marking.  Flagging is nice because you can change it if you make a mistake.  Flag your lines and ask your neighbors to confirm they are in the correct location and then paint the line when everybody is on board.   Fences have a way of becoming the established line once built, so you better get it right.

People should try to have lines surveyed before a land purchase.  It will need to be done sooner or later, either when you fence, log, sell your property, etc.  It’s difficult to blame people for trespassing when the lines are not marked.  When lines are not well established, loggers have a way of helping themselves to trees as well. We have had trees swiped by loggers cutting on adjoining property on multiple occasions.  If you think logs have been taken from your property, the burden will be on you to show that- i.e. you will need to have a survey done.   If you can establish theft, here in Indiana, the victim is awarded triple value for the stolen trees.  Loggers will usually not take enough trees to make it worth wile to have a survey done.  If the line is surveyed and well marked in advance, loggers should not be a problem.

I like to accommodate my neighbors need to hunt and just wander and enjoy the outdoors.  I try to coordinate hunting so we all get a chance to hunt and hopefully kill some deer.  Deer are a horrendous problem here and I need all the help I can get.  My general policy is that anybody is welcome to walk through my property.  I just don’t want them to take anything or leave anything.  Most of them feel the same way.  
4 years ago
We always felt the awkwardness of deviating from the family norm.  But our family was always pretty tight knit and while its not clear just what they may have thought of some of our ideas, they were tolerant.  It certainly didn't hurt that some of them "had to live like that" at some point in their life and while they may have thought us silly or worse, they did have a grip on what we were experiencing.  And sometimes they thought some of the things we did were pretty cool....god forbid they would ever do it.
Christmas was always the most awkward time...particularly when the kids were little.  What we managed to finally do was draw names.  Since everyone in our family had pretty much everything they needed, the task of buying presents was usually an ordeal.  If they didn't have it already, it was probably beyond the scope of a present.  By drawing names, we managed to save ourselves and the rest of the family from the agony of buying presents and spare us and other family members of the burden of unwanted junk.  The way everyone finally accepted this idea, though, was to exempt the children.  Sure, buy for the kids if you want, but we only need to buy a present for one adult.  This worked great.  Since over time, everyone wound up with one of our hand made objects, we began trading our stuff at art shows we attended to add a little variety to our gifts.  Although it didn't always happen, it was best to get the names chosen early so we would know who we would be buying for.
Don't know what you all think of this, but it seems to me that choosing a life style that differs  quite a lot from those around you can be interpreted as a criticism of the life style you're ditching.  Its like not drinking or doing drugs at a party when everyone else is.  It might be good to keep in mind that when you leave behind the values other members of the family hold, they might feel a certain degree of rejection.
4 years ago
Ya, Mike. I don’t really like the mindset that you need to be doing something. If you’re taking care of your place and seeing that it’s not being degraded, that’s doing a lot. If your soil is growing alfalfa, it’s in good shape by conventional standards. And by growing alfalfa, you’re not further degrading the soil. It’s not unusual to see people who feel they should be doing, doing harmful things. One of the tragedies of modern agriculture is the loss of farmers with a deep knowledge and understanding of place. This understanding takes a lifetime of experience and observation. Too many people do before they understand.

Having said that, with regard to land stewardship, one learns by studying and doing. With ag land, a pond and forest, you have a great laboratory in which to learn. And what a super opportunity you have to learn together with your daughter. I always felt that the first products I sold from my land were products I sold to myself…food, lumber. And when influencing others, my primary target of influence was my kids.

It is sad to witness the fact that it pays to destroy land. To pay for land at current prices, farmers face gamblers ruin. To make the purchase of land cash flow, one needs to drive it hard. Though there are niches where sustainable farming is competitive….such as the mentioned pasture meat system… it’s pretty hard to compete with people farming with such a short time window. As a forester, I’ve had opportunities to buy land over the years in which I could have made money had I been willing to degrade the land. In reframing, I have watched others step in and do exactly that. I think people who are not money focused move to the margins to keep investment low and avoid gamblers ruin; take advantage of niche markets and to find a more favorable and supportive social environment. It’s tough living in areas, i.e. much of rural USA, where progressive ideas about land stewardship and social structures find little traction.
6 years ago
Nice to see all the folks here in Indiana learning ways to be more sustainable which I guess is what permaculture is all about. I live in west central Indiana near Turkey Run State Park. For the past 30 years or so (egad) I have been trying to learn how to make my life more sustainable, or to be less dependent on this incredibly complex and, it would seem, increasingly fragile society we live in. Not an easy task. My view is that brighter days are not ahead but that we live in interesting times and all we can do is embrace our reality and get on with the exciting and challenging task before us.
One of my goals is to decrease my admittedly large environmental footprint and increase my resilience. In a spiritual sense I suppose this means learning to find joy and satisfaction in the wonder of our existence and in the beauty that surrounds us; we can't buy happiness. But on a practical level maybe it's about efficiency.
Tools are pretty important to sustaining ourselves, and I have come to possess quite a few of them. But tools are something that require and feeding (tools come to possess you)...and after my early years of acquiring them, I have become aware of how unsustainable many of my tools really are. Now the pressing question becomes how to get the work done more simply, more sustainably (though not necessarily more easily). How can I get a task done without gas or electricity? How can I make a garden without using a rototiller... at all? How can I build without need of a shop full of power equipment? What can I do to make my home more energy efficient? How can human muscle or ingenuity be used to do many of the jobs I relegate to my machines. Efficiency. Of course, people will say that we can't replace machines. However, I'm afraid the time is fast approaching in which we will have no choice other than to replace some of them.
So I just keep limping along, exploring and experimenting with new ideas. Lots of failures along the way and a few successes too... Of course a big component in all this is a community of people with somewhat similar goals, sharing ideas, providing support of various kinds and hopefully creating a space for synergy to occur. Look forward to hearing more from you all and some others as well.
6 years ago
From a permaculture standpoint, I love working green wood since it can be reduced from a tree to a finished utensil with a few simple hand tools... I do use a chain saw to get the tree down. Once on the ground and cut to the appropriate length, I use wedges and then a froe to quickly obtain a "blank" of suitable size. Next I use a hand ax, aka hewing hatchet or broad hatchet to quickly shape the piece. Finally I work with draw knife and spoke shave on the outside (of a bowl or spoon for instance). Inside I use a sculptors adz on spoons or bowl adz for bowls. I finish spoons with a spoon gouge and don't try to sand or carve away the resulting texture.

Understanding a few simple properties of wood greatly increases one's chances of being successful when working green wood. First, wood shrinks at different rates and amounts depending on grain orientation... radial, cross sectional and tangential. Wood shrinkage is small in the tangential plane (parallel to the bole of the tree) and can be ignored with respect to spoons or bowls. To overcome the problems that stem from the differential shrinkage of the radial and cross sectional plane, it's a good idea to stay as far from the pith of a tree as practical. I try to take bowls a couple inches from the heart and split spoons from the left over slab in the center. It's important to note any "starred heart" or cracks which originate in the heart of a tree. They can result in a readymade cracked bowl.

Wood dries most rapidly where the cells have been severed which would be the end of a log. One might think of cracking as nothing other than differential shrinkage. When a piece of wood cracks this is just the result of the cracked area drying more quickly than the un-cracked area. Facilitate the boards drying evenly and cracking is not an issue. Cracks almost always occur along the end grain because moisture escapes so quickly here. The rest of the board remains swollen with moisture and is unable to shrink and a crack results. Even thickness helps a lot in reducing cracking. Slowing drying of the end grain by some means can be effective. Bury finished implement in saw dust, place in unsealed plastic bag, wet end grain or coat ends with oil...I prefer mineral oil being inexpensive and non toxic. By all means remove the finished but unseasoned piece to a high humidity environment. Be careful to avoid mold which stains the wood. Mineral oil is a good choice for finished wooden ware though food grade oil that isn't subject to going rancid will produce a more attractive finish. Walnut or olive oil are good readily available choices.

As for the best wood, use what you have and try not to be dissuaded if you lack what some expert pronounces to be "best". Ease of carving, close grain structure( to avoid difficult cleaning), food compatibility, durability and beauty are among the considerations and there are lots of species that meet these criteria.
6 years ago