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Lisa Brunette

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since Apr 29, 2020
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Recent posts by Lisa Brunette

Howdy, permies! I never got any response at all to the below, and for all I know, 'Cloudpiler Hatfield' has moved on from Permies since his original post, but I just want to give a total shout-out thanks to him for the plumber's tape idea and to in general for being so awesomely useful. The plumber's tape solution for cedar-apple rust appears to have worked, and if so, it will save me the trouble and eaten cost of having to rip out a row of perfectly good cedar trees.

I wrote up my experience as a blog post here:

You can also see in the attached photo how the cedar rust appears on the leaves below the tape (those came in before I applied it) but none on the leaves above the tape.

Lisa Brunette wrote:

Cloudpiler Hatfield wrote:Our Eastern Red Cedar (Missouri) is just about hated by everybody in my neighborhood because of the Cedar/Apple Fungus.  If you grow apple trees in the conventional way (factory orchard) you cannot have cedars around because of this fungus.  If, however, you grow with a diversity of species (food forest) intermediary trees buffer the apples and the fungus doesn't affect them so much.  The spore zone is important and buffer trees like cherry and mulberry really help. 

I have also found that if I attach a piece of plumber's tape (about four inches worth) to the top of the tree, the tree does not develop the fungus.  Plumber's tape is made primarily of lead, zinc and aluminum.  The rain causes the tape to slowly, ever so slowly, rust and the oxidized compound is slowly distributed over the central trunk and the top branches.  Because of the nature and shape of the tree, this same "rust" gets dusted all over the rest of the tree.  Result - just enough anti-fungal action to stop the Cedar/Apple fungus. 

By the way, this also accounts for why this particular fungus is never found infesting cedar house siding, even though it ought to be a suitable substrate.  I have put this to the test.  I've made thin sheets of cedar siding with our local red cedar and inoculated it with the fungus.  It grew very vigorously on the siding.  Then I added a window frame (aluminum, zinc, titanium, trace lead) and voila!  The fungus died and I could not get it to come back with further inoculation.  Just enough of the element rust finds its way into the wood to prevent fungal growth. 

I have not been able to detect any heavy metal depositing in the soil around the trees (or the house for that matter).  This is a good thing, because I don't want to contaminate my soil.

The visual break that our young cedars provide is truly beautiful.  Our oaks and hickories all lose their leaves in the fall and the scene become somewhat gloomy.  We really don't see much by way of greeting card snow here and the landscape can look pretty gray.  The cedars a bushy and green until they get about thirty feet tall.  Then they thin out at the bottom branches and become a little more open.  Before that time, however, if you trim and shear, an almost Christmas tree shape can be maintained for many years.  Our zone 1 is bordered in lovely trees and that's a good thing here where evergreens are rare.

Also, and this is important to me also, the cedar is the center of several guilds I have set up involving vibrunum and vaccinium species.  My blueberries languish everywhere else on the place except as part of a cedar guild.  The same goes for my huckleberries, lingonberries and serviceberries.  They'll all grow in other guilds, but not like they do in the cedar guilds.

I'm also in Missouri and read this post with great interest. We put in 9 juniper Taylors and 2 true native red cedars for the winter evergreen screen, color, and food for birds. We also have fruit trees. Our AK black apple is rust-resistant, but the Rome beauty is not, of course. I didn't realize rust could attack serviceberries, but apparently it can. I'm trying out your plumbing tape fix. So far it appears to be working! I think it even stopped the rust in its tracks, as it had already started in on the Rome beauty, but this year's new growth does not have rust, and the first fruit does not, either. I'll report back next year to see if the fix really fixed it. If the original poster quoted here is still around, I'd be interested to know if you ever have to update with new plumbing tape. Also, what is the quality of the soil where you have the cedar/blueberry guild? My cedars are in an old rock driveway, where they are doing great, but I'm not sure that will work for blueberries since they often edge wet areas in the wild.

1 week ago
Good idea! We're dicing the fat with a knife before adding to the crockpot, as we don't own a grinder, but maybe it's time to invest in one.

Gray Henon wrote:We've rendered the lard off of our home grown hogs for years.  We run it through the grinder before rendering.  Makes for a quick and complete process!

1 week ago
Jordan, thanks for the knowledge bomb. We haven't had to clean the fat and haven't had any problems with it being dirty, unpalatable, or going rancid, but we've only used grassfed beef fat and not any other animals.

Chicken fat absolutely disgusts me, so I have never dreamed of rendering it. One thing the article doesn't mention is cleaning the fat, probably because beef isn't normally strong enough to need it. Simply take a large pot of water, put the rendered fat in it, and boil it. The roiling of the water causes it to disolve the nasty salts and whatnot in the fat. Let the fat solidify into a cake (may require cold), and remove. You would be surprised at how disgusting the water can become afterwards. You may even want to repeat the process if the fat needs it. This step is important not just to make it palatable, but it also helps prevent it from going rancid over time, and also to prevent it from being corrosive to metals if used on them.

It also makes a difference where the fat comes from on the animal. The caul fat, or most fat inside the body cavity around the kidney area can be good enough to use straight most of the time (on deer), but the fat under the skin is utterly disgusting, as in "don't render it in the house" disgusting. The lower legs contain the neatsfoot type oils, which do not solidify at cold temperatures. So you might try cleaning the chicken fat if you have a good supply of it. It may make it good enough to use.

1 week ago
That's awesome, Jordan! The crockpot works great for us for the same reasons you cite. We haven't tried making our own soap, but maybe we should put that on the list.

jordan barton wrote:Yea i have begun butchering pigs in the fall. Usually at our fall fair we have a pig who is cooker in a smoker. There is always to much left overs especially the fat. So i bring it home and render it up. Now smoked LARD :) Yummy.

I also occasionally have goat fat to render..
In terms of eating i prefer the pork fat compared to the goat fat.

I have started to render the lard/tallow in a crock pot as when i have done it in the cast iron, it usually becomes discoloured. Somewhat brown when i do it in the cast iron. The cast iron also requires either the wood stove or the propane oven. The crock pot can be done with electricity which i like.  It also uses like 200 watts of power which isn't a lot compared to trying to cook it on the induction cooker.The induction cooker also does not have a low/simmer setting.

The goat fat this year made about 45 3.5"x3.5"x1" bars of soap.

I am now going to start rendering the sheep fat i get. It will turn into soap as well. Normally i would feed it to the chickens who picked thru it. The sheep i am talking about are feral on our island and they are messing with the undergrowth of  the forests immensely. So they turn into cat meat for me:) and soon soap!

Heres to rendering fat!

1 week ago
LOL, that's great!

John F Dean wrote:A "larder pot" is when ones computer decides that "larger pot" is the incorrect spelling.

But, if you wish to purchase a larder pot, please send $100.00 plus shipping and handling to me.  Do not delay. Supplies are limited.  If you order in the next 24 hours, you can have 2 larder pots for the price of one.  Just pay the additional shipping and handling.

1 week ago
Thanks, John! What's a "larder pot"? And how do you like homesteading in So IL? We are just over the river in St. Louis but have family in Shiloh.

John F Dean wrote:Interesting. I've never used a slow cooker to render, it makes sense.  I have always used a larder pot on low heat.

2 weeks ago

I'm so sorry to hear of your negative reaction. It's frustrating when something that seems to work perfectly fine for others doesn't work for you at all. My husband and I both had that experience recently when consuming daylilies. Also, I didn't realize chickens could be such a good source of fat. Thanks for sharing!

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I've rendered the schmaltz from my meat chickens before. It worked really well, and they produced a LOT of fat, more than I thought possible for that size bird. Unfortunately when I cooked with it, I discovered that it doesn't agree with me very well. That was a surprise, because I can eat the meat just fine, and I've never had a problem with other kinds of fat. But, for most people it would have been fine, and it was an easy way to get cooking fat from a small backyard flock.

2 weeks ago
That seems like a unique challenge and opportunity. Thanks for sharing. Are the feral apples edible right off the tree?

Julian Williams wrote:We've been discovering so many species on our property (especially in July as things ripen). So far I've found:
- dewberry (dwarf red raspberry)
- raspberry
- alpine strawberry
- blackberry (I think... we'll see when they ripen)
- feral apples
- sugar maple
- yellow birch
- beaked hazelnut!!!

We haven't decided on a percentage to dedicate to native plants, but our foremost question when deciding on a new plant is whether there is native, or localized, version. We're currently planning the makeover of our front "lawn" into a food forest. The edges of the front yard are where a lot of the above berries can be found (southern slope of a valley) although the hazelnut are so far concentrated at the opposite end of the property (on the north-facing side of our "mountain").

Because of the unique nature of our forest (the Acadian Forest) and the changing climate in our region, we have to make difficult decisions on what plants to support in our forest as it begins to lose some of the qualities the boreal forest prefers. It begs the question of what is "native", and how far do we go to protect plants that are not ideally suited to the changing climate (whether native or not). I expect our forest will look very different once we're gone, I just hope we make the right decisions for whomever occupies the land after us.

That's awesome, Skandi! For me here in the Midwestern U.S., it's the pawpaws that are native and the gooseberries that aren't. I wish I had a greenhouse. How much of your plot was intentional planting and how much volunteer? I have quite a few native volunteers: Sycamore, red bud, sensitive fern, horseweed, pokeweed, Virginia creeper, violets as a ground cover everywhere.

Skandi Rogers wrote:Around 90% It's much easier to write what isn't native. the fig tree isn't, the pawpaws that have germinated and will hopefully come to something are not, and neither is the walnut tree.
Most non natives that we like to grow over in the annual garden need the greenhouse or starting very early under lights or both! With potatoes being an exception.

Apples, Pears, Plums, Hazelnuts, Hawthorn, silver birch, Cherry, beach, elder, raspberries, red and blackcurrants, goosberries and rhubarb are. as are nettles, wood avons, goosegrass, fat hen, pineapple weed, dandilions, sorrel, wood sorrel, ramsons, strawberries, burdock, wild parsnips, yarrow, tansey, oxeye daisy and silverweed.

My husband and I have been purchasing meat in bulk directly from farmers for years. During our Whole 30 diet phase, we realized we could render our own fat as well. He walks you through the process in this blog post; all you need is the fat, a good knife, and a crockpot.

Anyone doing this with animals they're raising themselves? I'm always fascinated by stories from bygone eras in which people used "every last bit" of an animal.
2 weeks ago