Phoenix Blackdove

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since Jan 21, 2015
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Grew up in rural QLD. Met a nice gent on the internet. Moved to suburban Adelaide. Still there. Trying to grow things. Mostly failing. Currently grub-staking and saving for various life goals.
Adelaide, Australia
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Recent posts by Phoenix Blackdove

j tunney wrote:I am extremely interested in reintroducing Magnesium into our soils, and wondering if there is a way other than buying Epsom Salts to throw onto the land, so that it is available to what we are growing.  Seaweed?  What else?



I think for me it would depend on the existing soil structure and nutrient profile, as to what I used to add magnesium back to the soil. I would be hesitant to start broad-scale nutrient "fixing" without a decent soil analysis, because 1) most soil amendments are expensive and 2) if I'm just guessing, I could guess wrong and make a bigger problem than what I was trying to solve.

I wouldn't tend to use Epsom salts over a large area - I see them as more of a home garden "quick fix". Most people recommend using it as a foliar feed when plants are showing obvious signs of deficiency. It is a salt, after all. Given that it's a highly soluble form of the mineral, I'm not convinced much would stay in the soil in a useful way.

Dolomite (dolomitic limestone) often has good amounts of magnesium (and calcium) in it. As it's used to fix acid soils, though, it may be best to skip it if your soil is already fairly alkaline. (Interestingly, alkaline soils tend to be higher in magnesium anyway. It becomes more bioavailable at higher pH, too.)

If I had animals that I was grazing on pasture, my preferred method of adding trace minerals (not just magnesium) would be in supplemental animal feed. My father is a beef cattle farmer in south-east QLD. He's been using a product range called NatraMin on his paddocks for the last 5ish years to add trace minerals back to the soil. He also supplements the cattle feed with it during drought (so most of the last five years...). Of course then he goes and burns the paddocks every year, which seems rather a waste to me, but that's a different problem. (If anyone knows how to convince an intractable, third-generation, "burn it all every year" farmer how to stop doing that, I'm all ears... 8-| )

I feel that putting the magnesium through an animal is probably the best way to add it to pasture for several reasons. First, you're supplementing the animal and keeping them healthier while the soils regenerate. In very bad conditions, this can be the difference between life and death.

Second, the magnesium is more likely to become bound up in a stable chemical form as it passes through the animal and exits as fertiliser.

Third, that fertiliser will be full of biological activity that will help both the soil structure as a whole, and the stabilisation of any other nutrients that are applied to the soil.
2 years ago
I actually did a bit of research via Google Scholar about a year back on magnesium, to help a friend with fibromyalgia. There's not a whole heap of research out there - this tends to be the case with many vitamins/minerals, because you can't patent them and thus there's not a lot of research money out there for them. There's even less available for free reading.

However, I did find one small study that examined the magnesium uptake between people using an oral supplement, a foot soak with Epsom salts, and the control group (ie no supplementation) over a 6 week period. From memory, the study concluded that:
A) all the study participants had higher magnesium levels at the end of the study
B) the people soaking in the Epsom salts had higher levels of magnesium than people taking the oral supplements,

In addition, many study participants reported feeling better than before they were taking magnesium. I can't remember what health condition the study was looking at treating with magnesium (maybe diabetes?) but they broke down "feeling better" into a few different things.

I suspect that when WebMD says things like "that hasn't been proven" what they mean is either "the author didn't bother to look for supporting research beyond the conventional approach", or else "we don't know the exact, specific mechanism by which this occurs so we can't say that it's 'proven'".
2 years ago

Anne Miller wrote:Man-made supplements of folate are called folic acid and can be an important option when you are pregnant.



I would caution strongly against taking any supplement with folic acid in it, especially while pregnant.

Folic acid - the synthetic version of folate - cannot be absorbed properly by people with an MTHFR polymorphism (a mutation of the DNA at a particular spot in the genome). Depending on the position and severity of the polymorphism, folic acid could even be toxic to the person taking it. It's currently estimated that up to 60% of the population may have an MTHFR polymorphism, but most people don't know it.

In pregnancy, taking folic acid can lead to a greatly increased risk of tongue or lip ties in the baby. A tie is when the small piece of skin that holds the lip to the teeth or the tongue to the base of the mouth are much thicker and/or shorter than usual. These are Not Fun. They also aren't looked for by most doctors, midwives, or even lactation consultants, and can make establishing and maintaining breastfeeding very difficult if they aren't treated. My first child had an undiagnosed lip tie (we didn't catch it until about 10 months) and, well, let's just say that there should NOT be that much nipple scabbing involved in establishing the breastfeeding relationship.

If anyone finds themselves wanting to take a prenatal vitamin (I do, no judgement here), it's very important to make sure that it has folate in the form of either FOLINIC acid, or true folate. Folinic acid tends to be a better choice because it's one of the end-stage forms of folate - that is, it's what your body converts folate from food sources into.



Now, as for magnesium deficiency - this can be a tricky one. I absolutely agree that getting vitamins and minerals from food sources trumps a pill any day. Unfortunately, that only works if the food was grown on land that had the minerals present in the first place. Given that magnesium is one of the first minerals to really suffer under chemical based land management practises, it's not always available for the plants to uptake and then pass onto us/meat animals. This is especially true in certain regions of the world with very old soils. I live in Australia, for instance, which has some of the oldest soils in the world. It's not coincidence that there's also chronic magnesium deficiency in our soils. And double unfortunately, magnesium doesn't "reappear" in the soils once the land is shifted to permaculture techniques and sustainable management systems. So even if a grower is using super duper awesome better-than-organic growing practises, if they didn't get their soil tested to know what deficiencies are there and start correcting them, the deficiencies will still be present in the food.

In my case, I've decided I'd rather supplement with magnesium via Epsom salt and magnesium chloride soaks, rather than take the risk of becoming deficient while gestating. Magnesium is actually absorbed more efficiently through the skin than through the digestive tract (in supplement form that is). It also bypasses the rather low bowel tolerance threshold that magnesium has - one of the first signs you've taken too much at once is loose bowels. This low tolerance is why most people recommend starting with a small initial dose of an oral magnesium supplement and building up gradually.
2 years ago
They're getting harder to find, but a twin tub washing machine would do the job admirably. It's what Mum used for years (decades, actually) while all five kids and a farmer husband produced obscene amounts of laundry, with the house plumbed into rain water tanks with low head.



You can do multiple loads with the one tub of water. Well, it's actually two - the left tub does the actual washing, the right tub spins the clothes, then the clothes are soaked in a separate laundry sink of clean water for a while to rinse them. (If Dad had been doing some especially greasy chores, or the laundry backlog was bigger than usual, Mum would have TWO laundry tubs on the go for rinsing.) Then the clothes are spun again and hung out to dry on the line.

Mum averaged five loads of washing, twice a week, through a single machine tub of water. Sometimes up to nine loads during school holidays. (Socks and jocks -> school uniforms -> cleanish clothes, tea towels etc -> sheets/towels -> Dad's work pants and shirts.) They all came out clean. Ours was usually emptied into the regular drain (ie septic tank) when the weather was good, but the water was just as often bucketed out of the tub and doled out in miserable dribbles to the trees and vegetables during drought. I imagine it would be a fairly simple job to hook one up to a greywater system, were one so inclined.

Of course there's a certain amount of babysitting involved that you don't have to bother about with a an automatic washer. You have to move the clothes from tub to spinner to tub to spinner to line, every fifteen minutes or so. You have to watch that you put the drain hose back in the correct place when spinning the clothes or you're likely to flood the laundry when either the tub or the sink overflows. But I seriously doubt you'll find a more suitable machine for low water pressure situations.
2 years ago
I did a quick Google search to see if GAPS has been used to treat Type 1 diabetes, and apparently it has. Dr Campbell-McBride has claimed that all her (juvenile) patients with Type 1 have been cured following her recommended protocol. I find this claim to possibly be overblown, as most of what I've read about autoimmune disorders (which Type 1a diabetes is) states that it's impossible to stop the body from attacking itself once it's learned how. All you can do is remove the triggers that cause it.

I did however come across a rather interesting website, where a blogger has chronicled their family's journey to treat (hopefully heal) the wife's Type 1 diabetes. They report a modest amount of success in improving blood sugars, so it might be worth a thorough poke around the archives to see what might be of use.

http://diabeticdharma.com/gaps-year-one/
2 years ago
Given that Type 1 diabetes has an autoimmune component, it's possible that one of the dietary autoimmune protocols might help manage the symptoms. The three big ones (in order of development) are the Specific Carbohydrate Dirty, the GAPS Diet, and Autoimmune Paleo (AIP). They all have slightly different methodologies and approaches so it's best to read up on all of them (or at least GAPS and AIP) to see which one you think will fit you best. I'm happy to expand on each a little more later on when I have a bigger keyboard in front of me.
2 years ago
I feel like there's one important factor that's been missed in this (remarkably thorough) discussion - accessibility. There is a non-trivial number of disabled people in the world who, for whatever reason, are unable to wash dishes by hand.

For several reasons, I hate washing dishes with the fiery burn of a thousand suns. It's one of those activities that tanks my executive function like nothing else. I feel compelled to wash not just one sink, but every. single. thing. I can lay my hands on that needs cleaning. It takes a significant chunk of my time and energy. And by the time I'm finally done, I'm so wiped out mentally that I'm all but useless for whatever remains of the day.

For me, it would absolutely be worth the cost to buy a super-whiz-bang double drawer model that uses as much water as a gnat's piss. Doubly so if I can then pipe the thing to a grey-water outlet and let the garden use it up after. I will happily budget for an extra solar panel or two to cover the electricity, and cut my power usage to the bone in other areas to make it work.

I'm not even the only one I know with these kinds of accessibility issues around doing the dishes.
- One friend has a gigantic sensory aversion to dishwashing.
- Another has chronic back pain that limits them severely in anything they do while upright, including dishes.
- Another is multiply disabled, and finds basic self care almost impossible some days, let alone the prospect of keeping house.
- In my younger days, I also suffered from agonising back pain (brought on by bad posture and worse working conditions) that left me immobilised on the floor for hours, any time I was forced to stand in one spot and move nothing but my arms - the very essence of dishwashing. To this day it still limits the kind of work I'm willing to take on, because I REALLY don't want to create the conditions for that issue to resurface.

Now, I know that this is a somewhat different set of the dishwasher-vs-hand washing debate. But part of permaculture is systems thinking and making things work for everyone, no matter what their circumstances, so I feel it's something worth giving serious consideration to.
2 years ago
Something like a 20 quart pressure canner would probably work quite well for the pressure part. You can fill them up to 2/3 full so that's about 12 quarts of water in the chamber.

I think you'd probably want some kind of heat damping on the rocket stove, though - as far as I'm aware most pressure canners can't be used on anything hotter than a regular gas or electric stove, lest the bottom melts. I know my Presto model says not to use it on a turkey burner (whatever that is) because of the melting possibility.

Depending on how clean the water you're using is, it wouldn't be too hard to add a small filter somewhere up the line to take care of larger particles before they join the bits of food and plate gunk.
2 years ago
As the venerable poster above me said, some things are better suited to having the work done directly rather than generating the electricity to do it for us. One example that springs to mind is pumping water. I've seen many household water designs that rely on a small pump to get the water up to pressure every time someone turns on the tap. To me, this seems like an inefficient use of resources. I think it works just as well to have a small header tank raised above the the ground level - about in line with the house roof seems to work well- and use gravity to provide your water pressure. That way you only need the pump when the tank is empty and needs refilling from your larger ground based storage.

In fact, this is the design attached to several of the old farm houses I've lived in or visited back in my home state of Queensland. It seems to me that this set up would be easier to incorporate animal per into, as depending on the size of the header tank it might only need refilling ever few months.

I have another thought which I will preface with the statement that I'm not very knowledgeable about air pressure beyond the fact that it's handy, and can be used to run many things. Would it be possible to set up some kind of air capture and pressurisation device that could be animal powered, rather than assume that electricity is the only thing able to be generated in this manner? Bill Mollison is a fan of the trompe, and for good reason, but they're not going to work without a good drop and a running water source.
2 years ago
I'm a huge supporter of informed self-diagnosis.

There are many, many structural and social barriers between people who suspect they may be a/Autistic and getting a formal diagnosis.

Just some of these are:
  • Cost of diagnosis ($1000 in my country/state. Can be up to $5000 in other countries)
  • Availability of a diagnosing clinician (I know people who would have to travel five hours or more to get to an appointment - and most Dx procedures involve multiple sessions)
  • Age (there are comparatively few authorised clinicians who understand the differences between child and adult Dx)
  • Skin colour (PoC are drastically under-represented in formal Dx rates, partially because of systemic disadvantage and partially because the original diagnostic criteria focus on white people as the "standard")
  • Gender (Cis men are more likely to be "caught" for Dx because again, that's what the original diagnostic criteria focussed on. In addition, cis women and other female-presenting people tend to "look different" in their autistic traits, and tend more towards social chameleonism, so they are more likely to slip through the cracks)
  • Rampant ableism and gatekeeping, such that those who "pass" as neurotypical are often accused of being "not autistic enough" and thus not worthy of help, support, accommodations, or an official diagnosis.
  • Formal diagnosis may, in some states and countries, open one to the possibility of losing custody/parental rights of one's children (some places view any disability as a reason to confiscate children, whether there is any potential for abuse/neglect or not)


  • I'm pretty involved in Autistic advocacy online. While yes, there are probably some people who self-diagnose as autistic because it makes them feel cool/special/whatever derogatory term you want to apply, they are so minuscule in number as to not be worth worrying about. The reality is that being openly autistic quite often brings more hardship to a person than it solves problems for them. As Nicole, Neil and others in this thread have pointed out, there is a depressing number of people who want to wipe autistic people off the face of the earth as burdens, tragics, and not worth helping. (Thanks, Autism $peaks, you're doing a great job there. /sarcasm)

    And really, despite all that, it's pretty insulting to tell people that they should listen to the "wisdom" of neurotypical clinicians - who have only ever (and will only ever) see autism from the outside. As a set of behaviours rather than a way of being. As a deficit-based "disorder" rather than a natural neurodivergence found in approximately 1.5% of the human population. Lived autistic experience counts for a lot more, and there is more than enough of it out there (thanks to many tireless advocates in the autistic community) to intelligently inform one's decision to self-diagnose.
    3 years ago