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Garlic

GARLIC ~ Allium sativum As a cultivated plant, garlic is of such antiquity that it is difficult to know its origin.  Some consider it indigenous to southwest Siberia, where it spread to Europe and has naturalized in Sicily.  The Greek poet, Homer, tells of the virtues of  "Yellow Garlic” that Ulysses owed his escape from being changed into a pig by Circes. It flourishes best in sandy, rich moist soil.  Plant cloves two inches deep, about 6 inches apart, in a sunny spot.  Keep free from weeds, and gather the soil around the roots.  Most commercial garlic growers plant in the fall, even in our cold climate.  That way it is ready to produce roots before the ground can be worked.  My experience has shown that it likes plenty of nitrogen rich compost and manure.  As with onions, bulb formation is influenced by day length.  So an early start is essential to get large bulbs. This herb has been used to heal everything.  It is very antiseptic and has been used in many wars to prevent festering of wounds.  The raw juice is expressed, placed on sterile pads and applied to the wound.  From leprosy to the plague, garlic is attributed as a great healer. Fresh garlic may be applied to acne, warts, and corns.  Orthodox medicine acknowledges that the plant reduces the risk of further heart attacks in cardiac patients; it is also a stimulant for the immune system and an antibiotic.  Over 1,800 scientific studies support the use of garlic in lowering cholesterol levels and blood sugar, preventing heart attack and stroke, and treating infections and cancer. Diabetics can use garlic to stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, without stimulating weight gain.  When garlic oil is applied directly to the ear canal, it stops the growth of two fungi that sometimes cause ear inflammation. Raw garlic can counteract the effects of probiotic digestive cultures taken to restore normal digestion and has been known to cause an upset stomach.  Avoid using garlic if you take a blood-thinning drug, such as Warfarin, because it will add to the drug's effects.  Nursing mothers should use garlic with caution because it can cause colic in some babies. Thirty-five years ago, I would make a garlic syrup for coughs and colds.  I used to sell it at art fairs, but I spent so much time explaining it to people, I wasn’t able to sell anything else!  It is also a delicious marinade for meats.  Here is the recipe: Cut a pound of garlic, cleaned, into slices.  Or you can crush it with a garlic press.  Pour a quart of boiling hot water over it in a closed pot (glass or stainless steel is best).  Let it sit for twelve hours.  Make a syrup with one quart of apple cider vinegar and two cups of honey; add the garlic solution and gently simmer to reduce to a syrup.  You could strain it, but I enjoy chewing the small pieces.  You can add caraway and fennel seed bruised and boiled for a short time in the vinegar.  They are good for tummy aches and women’s complaints while adding extra flavor to your syrup. Sources The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002    Herbal medicine and teas As a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA.  Lynn Wallingford Cochrane makes no health claims.  Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only.  She does not take responsibility for your experience using them.  She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.

Lynn

Lynn

 

Increasing Chicken Egg Laying Production

This week I had a question about laying hens who are only 18 months old and have dramatically dropped their egg production.  The change occurred after their housing and feeding went from a completely free range system to a fixed coop with a large run area.  After the move, the hen’s egg production, which had been pretty steady, declined greatly and continued until it was nearly zero.  In addition to ranging, the owner also feeds some mixed/bagged chicken feed as well as corn, both of which are from a local tractor supply.  He was pretty stumped as to why the sudden drop in production occurred and wanted to know both what had happened and what he could do to fix the situation. So what happened? What occurred is that by moving the birds from their free ranging situation to the coop and run, the owner unknowingly stressed his hens.  And when laying hens get stressed even a little, it can show by the amount of eggs they produce (or lack thereof).  Layers are extremely finicky about everything in their environment:  their surroundings, habits and routine.  Even a little change can have a dramatic impact on egg production.  A major change like switching up their entire living environment will have profound implications on them.  And, in this case, while he didn’t mean to, he also changed their diet greatly because they can’t free range as much as they used to and are eating more grains to make up for the lost grazing.  Couple with that with the fact that we are losing daylight as the winter solstice nears, and production will go down this time of year anyway.  The changes he made simply accelerated the entire situation. When it comes to laying hens, anytime you make a change – where the nest box is located, where they roost, where they live, what the eat, etc., it is going to negatively affect production.  The more you change, the worse it will be and the longer it can take for them to bounce back.  Eventually they will get used to their new surroundings and come out of the production slump, but it could be spring before they totally recover.  At a year and half of age, they could also be going into a molt, which will almost halt production in and of itself.  One other thing I’ll mention is that if the area they were moved to and are now using as a run has at anytime in the recent past been treated with chemicals or roundup, that could also play a role in egg production going down. What can he do to fix this current situation? The short answer is simply don’t change anything else for a while and implement new changes slowly.  And when the weather permits, he should let them range outside of the run by using portable netting, if at all possible.  They will deforest the run in no time next spring, turning it into a mud lot in short order.  If they are out ranging like chickens are wired up to do, they will be happier and hence the more eggs they will lay.  And, obviously, the eggs will also be healthier as they contain more nutrients.  This also cuts down on the feed bill as well, so it’s the best all around solution.  There is nothing wrong with using the fixed run during the day when you are not around to keep an eye on things, but when you are home open up that run and let them out. Concerning the store bought feed I would encourage anyone feeding grain to livestock to buy a high-quality feed that is consistent in content of inputs and nutrients.  Pre-bagged, off the shelf feeds can be very inconsistent in quality and quantity of inputs.  Try and find a local source that makes its own rations using GMO-free grains and high-quality organic inputs for the fish meal, minerals and vitamins.  Sure it will cost more, but your health, the animals health and the production of the animals will all be better off for it.  If you live in Central Indiana, I would highly recommend you contact Central Indiana Organics and get a bag of their organic 16% layer ration if you have laying hens.  I think you’ll find it doesn’t cost much more than a bag of questionable feed from a box store.  In my experience, inconsistency in feed is the fastest way to negatively impact egg laying production. Now while switching feed can be a detriment on production, you aren’t going to get much worse results than you are currently and, if there is a time to change, it’s now while the winter solstice is close at hand and production is already low.  

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Produce No Waste

Produce no waste, another, you guessed it, permaculture principle, and a key part of any design. It’s so easy in the UK to ‘deal with’ waste – some blokes come and take it away and put it into a hole in the ground that people rarely see or feel compelled to think about. I’m guessing this might change at some point, as land becomes scarcer and money becomes an issue, but for now its easy to not care. There are loads of ways I want to bring this principle into our home; buying less, taking less things to the dump, making do and mending, up cycling and recycling and preserving and fermenting. Often it is hard, with small children wanting the latest Skylander or Moshi Monster – and I don’t want them to grow up feeling resentful about my decisions or lifestyle choices. As a dad, I believe my first responsibility is to make sure my kids grow up understanding these issues without being scarred by ‘their weird dad’ – this  is a war of attrition, they will be subverted, they just wont know about it. If, when we design our systems, we take this principle into account, often our design pattern becomes cyclical.  Loads of the systems we rely upon are linear; stuff gets dug up from the ground, fuel is burned transporting and manufacturing it into something to be consumed, and it ends up back in the ground in wholly unusable form, often damaging the environment and the soil we rely on. Worst still, our very economies are measured on this model of consumerism. Short sighted and dangerous, I say, but very difficult to change. So I do what I can. Having cycles within design systems curtails the weaknesses that linear and short term thinking present us with, and when we look at systems within the natural world it is suddenly obvious that nature is the ultimate designer (evolution over millions of years is probably something we should pay attention to) and to attempt to emulate, or even improve upon these designs is the cleverest thing we can do. Composting is awesome – here is why: When something dies in a natural system, there are a ton of ways in which that animal or plant matter will be broken down into something useful for another organism. The process is initiated by detritivores or scavengers that specialize in carrion.  Stuff is then broken down into smaller and smaller pieces by woodlice, worms, etc…, and we end up with bacteria, mychorrhizal fungi and nematodes creating a soil so complex, life sustaining and important that I’m not even going to pretend that I understand it. Soil science is vast – but, in a nutshell, it supports life as we know it, sequesters carbon and is far more complex than we ever thought. So, when you start to think about it, it is really important, like life sustaining important, and deserves more respect than it generally gets. Its called dirt, right? Worms are not for nice little girls, but horrible boys, yeah? Beetles and bugs are squashed underfoot by the unenlightened and poo, don’t get me started! But all of these things are vital, and I would venture, as close to fundamental as we can get. We are also (sighs) losing topsoil at an alarming rate. Conventional agriculture encourages the depletion of topsoil.  The United States alone loses almost 3 tons of topsoil per acre per year and one inch of topsoil can take 500 years to form naturally. On current trends, the world has about 60 years of topsoil left. Modern agriculture ploughs the earth into submission and then adds fertilizer derived from oil extracting activity to give it some oomph. After this, our crops are often heavily treated with pesticides and fungicides, in order to deal with the problems that arise largely due to the fact that we tend to grow monocultures on such an industrial level. So we try to alleviate at least our pressure on the system by growing our own and using compost in a no dig system. Composting mimics natural processes in an accelerated fashion, if done correctly. To take the waste from the kitchen and the garden and create a life rich soil with it is nothing short of godly. When you realize that the soil is a living, breathing organism, rich with life on a scale as mind boggling as the stars above you, it is no wonder gardening has the ability to rehabilitate and heal. The first building block to the gardener, it is the very foundation which supports life, both on our little plot, and in our wider world.  Adding compost to the earth protects and nourishes the soil. It allows the soil to take what it needs, just as would happen in a forest environment as leaf  litter falls to the floor.  Even better, it is just about the easiest thing you can do – it happens on its own, stuff breaks down with or without you, and while understanding carbon to nitrogen ratios is helpful, it is not essential. One of my first lessons in growing was how to double dig. It is useful, to break up compacted soils at the beginning of a growing process on a new plot of land, but as a permaculturalist, we learn that digging should be used sparingly, bisecting earth worms and destroying mycorrhizal strands, as well as exposing beneficial micro organisms to the surface harm the complex communities that we are only beginning to discover. It is clear, however, that there is a web of life within the soil, and the soil that produces the most life is the soil most full of life. Mulching with organic matter is, in my mind, a wholly good thing. The blanket of a mulch is the end of a process that is in equal measure both amazingly simple and amazingly complex. It is the end of the line for what goes in, and the beginning for what comes out. A perfect cycle. The post "Produce No Waste" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.

MarkFurmston

MarkFurmston

Selecting a Weapon for Home Defense

To start, let's get on the same page as to a definition of home defense.  We are not talking about a horde of zombies staggering towards your domicile, or a team in black tac-gear stacked on your porch about to make a dynamic entry...  ...we are talking about being woken up in the night to a window breaking or someone forcing entry into your home. We will just lightly be touching on the liability of a gunfight taking place in your home.  That topic is deep and varied based on a number of factors, including where you live geographically. What we will be talking about is selecting a good weapon for the job.  Not the Right one or the Best one, but a good one.  If I knew the right or best one, this would be a short article, but I don’t and a lot of factors come into play.  So let's start with what we are looking for. I would like something lightweight.  Why would you want to be walking through your house with a boat anchor? Whether you find out that a falling limb broke a window and establish your house secure in the first 60 seconds, or you are barricaded in the back room with your weapon trained on the door for 45 minutes waiting on your local understaffed law enforcement agency makes it out, things get heavy. In the confines of most modern homes, you will find doorways and hallways.  This leads me to wanting a weapon that is maneuverable.  Something I can collapse in (bring in towards me rather than held at arm's length) when approaching corners and yet still have the weapon operational.  In short, if it has a 28” barrel, you should probably leave it in the gun safe. Accessibility is key.  Having the perfect weapon down the hall, downstairs in the safe of your study isn’t helpful.  With this, we run into the issue of your situation.  Do you have kids or are you taking care of an elderly parent with dementia?  Do you have house guests with kids, or what do you do when they come stay?  Do you often have friends or friends of friends over for gatherings?  The single person living a monastic life that can just keep weapons on end tables and stuffed under couch cushions is the exception, not the rule. Where do you keep this go-to weapon?  There are a number of storage devices that can secure your weapon and yet still allow fairly quick access to it.  If you do have one of these, they are not a turnkey solution.  Regardless of where you are stashing this potentially life-saving tool, Train.  Can you recover it quickly and quietly when startled out of your REM cycle? *Quietly*  Having touched on sounds, let me say this.  Something potentially bad may be imminent for you and your family.  Take every advantage you can and try and keep quiet.  It is like a really intense game of tag where you may die, don’t broadcast your whereabouts if you can avoid it.  “But when I rack my...”  Yes, maybe they will be frightened and run off, or...  You just turned this burglary into a murder, congratulations.  If you decide to attempt to scare away the bad people with a loud noise, you may have only accomplished two things.  1- You have probably let them know where you are with a pretty good degree of accuracy and 2- You have just upped the stakes to a lethal encounter.  That person(s) will now be alert and defending their life, either trying to leave or continuing on for whatever purpose brought them there in the first place... We will also be wanting something we are comfortable and proficient with.  If the best gun happens to be something you don’t have a lot of training with, it really isn’t of benefit.  “But this caliber is...”  Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement.  Now that we have established that you need to actually aim, what can you consistently and effectively shoot?  Are you the only person potentially employing this weapon?  Can your spouse effectively employ the weapon? On the subject of caliber...  “I read that in the FBI study this caliber penetrated...”  The FBI probably didn’t come out and shoot your weapon in your house.  Is your home brick, stick frame or ICFs?  Do you have multiple stories or share a wall with a neighbor in a condo?  There is a lot of good information out there, but what is pertinent to you and your situation?  While over-penetration is real, it shouldn’t dictate your choice in caliber.  Just stay away from anything you would bring on Safari for the Big Five. Bad things happen at night.  Ironically, very few people train at night, in low light or no light conditions.  In your house, the best course may be to turn on your lights.  That is a tactical decision you will have to make dependent on your situation.  But what if the lights don’t turn on for whatever reason, or you don’t want to telegraph that you are occupying a lit room in that section of your house? This brings us to hand-held and weapon-mounted lights.  These provide a few benefits to us, from being used momentarily to navigate, as well as to Positively identify our target.  Are we aimed in on a bad guy, our child, our dog or our drunk neighbor that thought he locked himself out of his house?  The light being used, if it is hand-held, does it have any form of retention and can it be activated momentarily?  What do you do with it if you need to pick up a phone or open a door?  If weapon mounted, does it take an additional hand to activate?  With whatever choice you make, train with it...  ...and without it.  Everything may fail at some point. While we touched on a weapon being lightweight and maneuverable, is it handy?  What  I mean by handy is this.  Can I still manipulate it effectively with one hand?  Am I lugging around something so unwieldily that I have to yell down the hall “Time-Out!” and set it down on its bipod in order to do anything that would require me to remove one hand from the weapon system?  You may need to have a hand free to open doors, open windows for egress, pick up a crying child or dial 911... In our house; a two story stick frame structure on a 1/4 acre city lot, with two young boys ages 2 and 4, we have a pistol for home defense.  We keep at hand my wife’s Glock 17 with tritium sights, mounted SureFire X300 Ultra and a DG-11 switch (this is an adapter that mounts to the rear of the X300 allowing the light to be activated momentarily with pressure from the middle finger of the shooting hand).  The pistol is kept in a GunVault safe near our bed. Does our pistol fit the above criteria for us?  Yes.  Is it the best option? I don’t know, but it works for us...  My wife and I both have Glock 17s set up identically, we are both proficient with them.  We can, in a bind, be holding one of our boys, sandwiching our cell phone to our ear with our shoulder, employ the pistol and manipulate the weapon mounted light if needed all at the same time... Additionally, these pistols are usually kept on our person during the day.  Weather (clothing) dependent, these are our concealed carry pistols.  While bad things do happen at night, people force entry into known occupied houses during broad daylight as well. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of criteria, it is a good starting point for deciding on your home defense weapon.  If you take anything away from this I would like it to be: Something > Nothing and train, train, train...  ...and a good dog never hurts either. You are responsible for the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Stay armed and stay proficient.

Ivan Loomis

Ivan Loomis

How Holistic Health fits in With a Libertarian Mindset

A look at the following two definitions: Holistic Health: According to the AHHA (American Holistic Health Association): With Holistic Health, people accept responsibility for their own level of well-being, and everyday choices are used to take charge of one's own health. Holistic health definition Libertarian:  According to the Libertarian party:  Libertarians believe in, and pursue, personal freedom while maintaining personal responsibility. Definition of Libertarian Notice both definitions share the word "responsibility"? Taking responsibility for your health is a very libertarian concept. Making intelligent, educated decisions for yourself and family are the very foundations upon which freedom is built.  For a long time, I bought into thinking the "experts" in the medical field knew best. I bought into the lies that were told to us to keep medical staff in their place. Lies that kept us afraid to speak out and intimidated us into keeping quiet. I am not sure that most of the providers even knew the truth. They just kept parroting what they had been told. The medical system likes to keep the primary care providers so bogged down with unnecessary paperwork that they don't have time to think for themselves. That is how they keep up the charade and keep padding the pocketbooks of the pharmaceutical industry. Then one day I woke up. I am not exactly sure what really started my awakening. I think it was when I was working as a hospice nurse in Idaho and took care of my peers dying of cancer. One by one I watch lives being snatched away in the prime of their life, leaving children and spouses behind.  They were victims of the Nevada test site underground and above ground nuclear bomb tests from 1951 to the mid-1960's. Nevada Test Site They are called downwinders. Definition of Downwinders. This term is used for victims when, after a nuclear detonation, radioactive dust is carried up into the atmosphere and deposited hundreds of miles away (downwind). The government lied to the people back then stating that 1) The white dust that fell from the sky and looked like snow on the ground after an explosion was not harmful (the kids played in it)  2) Milk was safe to drink 3) The radioactivity from the explosions was very short lived, only a few days. What was interesting was those that lived close to the explosions were given dosimeters to wear and encouraged to sit outside and watch the explosions. The dosimeters were collected after the tests. I decided to do some research and found out there was more to the story than what these poor victims had been told. The radioactive isotopes were of a type that had a half life of many years, not days.  That was the beginning of me not blindly trusting the government about anything. Over and over I have seen in my practice lie after lie after lie. The pharmaceutical companies have financial motivation to see that their products are used . In July 2013, the Supreme court ruled that drug companies are exempt from lawsuits. Supreme court rules drug companies exempt from lawsuits   This gives them no incentive to make sure their product is safe and does what it claims. It is up to us to take care of ourselves. After leaving mainstream Western medicine (allopathic), I began to search for some answers. Mostly I saw our system as "broken" and creating victims eternally tied to an unending string of diagnoses and designer pills to match. No cures. Just bandages. And pills to help the side effects of the pills prescribed.  I knew deep down that many of our health problems in the United States are brought on by ourselves (not all). You can't sleep? High blood pressure? Hot flashes? Back pain? Anxiety? Depression? Acne? Athletes foot? Yeast infection? Anger? Sexual dysfunction? Diabetes type 2? There are pills for all those diagnoses. They cover up the underlying cause of the problem. They do not cure it.  Just as people become dependent on the medical system for every aspect of their health, many Americans are dependent on the government in the way of subsidies. These subsidies come with a price. Medicaid recipients can have a lien placed on their home and the property is seized after they die to pay the medical bills they incurred while alive.  Medicaid and lien I set out to find answers. After speaking with many seasoned patients about how they cured themselves without the benefit of a doctor (I lived in a very rural area), I learned about the many uses of honey and charcoal. How healing cabbage juice is. How eating a little dirt with your veggies was really very healthy (now, many of us get our probiotics in a pill). I observed how emotional support from friends and family really made a difference in healing. They taught me so much. I decided to research their cures. It took awhile to find, but eventually, I was able to locate other research and validate these simple cures. Health is not just the absence of disease.  It is being the best you can be. Being resilient. Enjoying life in all facets. Taking responsibility for our actions concerning the health of ourselves and our loved ones. If we want to eat junk food and sit around watching TV, we know it will come with a price. That is our right to act this way. Too much of this results in obesity and other health problems. If we decide we do not want to become a victim of our circumstances, we take a more proactive approach. If we stay complacent and allow the government to make our healthcare decisions for us, we are never truly free. If we learn how to take care of ourselves, we start to break free of the chains of dependency. We will have the energy and strength to go out and dig up the garden. We can cut firewood without worrying about throwing our back out. We have the energy to help a neighbor. Our minds are clearer and, with that, comes the ability to make even more informed decisions through reading and meeting with like minded people. There is a wonderful world out there when we rely on ourselves and each other. You become a participant in life, not a spectator/victim. Holistic health is about taking responsibility for all aspects of our lives. Physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health.  If one part of the four pillars of health is off, it affects the other parts. My goal is to provide simple and inexpensive ways we can take care of ourselves that are readily available.  My hope is to educate on all four pillars in upcoming articles. Our culture seems to think we are "pampering ourselves" when we take time for self-care. That couldn't be further from the truth! We can better take care of our loved ones if we take care of ourselves. Give yourself permission to take excellent care of yourself. A Simple Exercise Stress is the number one epidemic in our Western culture.  It kills. Learning to manage stress is literally a lifesaving skill. Here is one free exercise that only takes 5-10 minutes and has proven  to reduce stress, lower  heart rate and  blood pressure, boost the immune system, lower cortisol levels and reduce anxiety: Breathing and how it affects health   Abdominal breathing lowers stress 1) Find an area where you are comfortable and won't be disturbed for several minutes. If you are at work, go out to your car- or somewhere quiet. 2) Sit comfortably and raise your ribcage to expand your chest. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.  Concentrate on your breath and try to gently breathe in through the nose, counting to 5. Hold for 2 heartbeats and slowly release your breath counting to 5. Your upper chest and stomach should be still, allowing the diaphragm to work more efficiently with your abdomen, rather than your chest. Repeat, breathing through your nose only. No mouth breathing. Breathing with your upper chest is part of the stress response. Do this slowly and deliberately. Take the time to clear your head. Notice where you are tense and relax those areas. Repeat exercise for 5 minutes. Do this at least twice a day for maximum benefit. Feel better? Any time you find yourself in a situation where you feel stress coming on, immediately start breathing from your diaphragm. Even if you are not able to get away at the time.

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

 

Understanding NRCS EQIP Grants

In this article we’ll be discussing how you can better understand the availability and function of EQIP grants provided by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Normally when I think about the above quote, I’m as reluctant as the next guy to believe anyone from the federal government can be of much help with anything.  That being said, and as odd as it may sound, there is one division of government I have found to be very helpful when it comes to farming the right way.  In a recent podcast interview, I mentioned a grant we received and used on our farm called the EQIP program through the NRCS, which is a division of the USDA.  I have received some emails asking about this program and it’s obvious that since we didn’t cover many of the details about it in the interview, there is some confusion about what this is and, more precisely, what it is not.  While I’m not a proponent of government handouts, I’m a huge cheerleader of the NRCS for a number of reasons I’ll discuss in this article. A little background:  The NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) is what I would call the mentally balanced division of the USDA.  If you are looking for a sustainable, quasi organic bent on how to do farming within the USDA, the NRCS is it.  They have a vast number of financial and technical resources, and, in my experience, the knowledge base of the folks working there has been pretty outstanding.  We are fortunate enough to have a gentleman here in Indiana who is a top notch grazer on his own farm, and his day job with NRCS pays him to help dispense his knowledge and experience to the rest of us.  In meeting other NRCS speakers at various conferences, I have found that same depth of knowledge to be the norm. Simply put, the main goal of the NRCS is to help farmers conserve our natural resources and heal the land, creating healthy ecosystems.  In the case of grazing, there is funding available to take lifeless, destroyed row crop fields and convert them into living polyculture grazing systems.  They want farmers and homesteaders alike to take the cattle, sheep and goats to the food and not take the food to the animals – what a concept.  They promote mob grazing, rotational grazing, soil building and low energy input systems.  There are grants (more on that later in this article) available to install fencing systems, buried water systems and to seed things like grasses and legumes for the sole purpose of grazing.  There are even some smaller grants available for simply practicing rotational grazing within existing systems.  Who among us can apply for these grants?  Anyone with access to land.  And you don’t have to be a seed things like grasses and legumes for the sole purpose of grazing.  There are even some smaller grants available for simply practicing rotational grazing within existing systems.  Who among us can apply for these grants?  Anyone with access to land.  And you don’t have to be a seed things like grasses and legumes for the sole purpose of grazing.  There are even some smaller grants available for simply practicing rotational grazing within existing systems.  Who among us can apply for these grants?  Anyone with access to land.  And you don’t have to be a seed things like grasses and legumes for the sole purpose of grazing.  There are even some smaller grants available for simply practicing rotational grazing within existing systems.  Who among us can apply for these grants?  Anyone with access to land.  And you don’t have to be a ants?  Anyone with access to land.  And you don’t have to be a full time farmer to tap into these grants. I know of homesteaders in my county who own as little as five acres and received a grant to fence it off so they could raise their own beef. Yet another function for the NRCS is all about helping row crop farmers improve yields while decreasing or eliminating the use of chemical based pesticides, insecticides and herbicides.  They also teach how to improve soils by the use of green manures, no till cropping and even promote “chop and drop” to create a think layer of mulch to plant into.  If you really want to get schooled by the NRCS on healthy soils, think layer of mulch to plant into.  If you really want to get schooled by the NRCS on healthy soils, watch this YouTube presentation by NRCS agronomist Ray Archuleta.  I’ve never seen anyone get as fired up as Ray about dirt!   The greatest practical example I have seen of this particular model is from a man I met at an NRCS conference named Gabe Brown, who farms with his son, Paul, in North Dakota.  They have a large row cropping business, as well as a grass-fed beef enterprise and are even doing pastured poultry.  Gabe row crops thousands of acres and has not tilled since 1993 and uses zero chemicals on his farm. You can watch a pretty neat video on YouTube of Gabe talking about his farm and how they transformed it starting over 20 years ago.   You can also read more about his operation on his website.  Gabe and his family are a model of success for anyone to look towards on how to farm in conjunction with what the NRCS teaches and promotes, especially when it comes to large scale commercial row cropping.  If all row cropping were done they way Gabe does it, our soils would be a model for the whole world to admire. Another reason I’m a huge fan of the NRCS is a larger issue not many people think about:  Our country cannot sustainably feed itself with our current agricultural model.  Today’s food system is predicated on cheap oil, cheap chemical inputs and massive subsidies whereby 2% of the population is feeding the other 98%.  It does not take a degree in rocket science to figure out that, at the end of that road, is a civilization destined to implode.  By promoting systems whereby we are taking the animals to the food, cutting petrol inputs, improving soils and decentralizing food production, we may have a fighting chance of saving our country.  Now that may come off as a doom and gloom perspective, but demonstrate to me where I am wrong in my thinking.  We have implemented, with great efficiency, just-in-time manufacturing principles into our food production and while it’s innovative, the risks are downright frightening.  What happens if tomorrow morning we wake up and the subsidies are gone?  Or diesel fuel is $10 per gallon?  Our vertically integrated food system would fall apart in a matter of weeks, leaving the citizens of this country in disarray.  While I believe it is the personal responsibility of every citizen to produce as much of their own food as they can, obviously not everyone can raise all of their own protein needs.  This is why I believe we need to work with programs like the NRCS for solutions that will actually strengthen our overall food supply, and hence our national security, with sustainable grazing systems.  This will decentralize food production, invigorate new farmers to take up the mantel of “real food” production, and point this thing in the right direction. My personal belief is that the NRCS is one way we can begin to do that.  Like myself, there are many out there who have the will, determination and drive to farm with sustainable methods, but may lack some of the resources they need to be successful.  In my case, we had property available to us and were able to fund our poultry and pork operations with our own seed money.  But when it came time to really get rolling with beef, we were talking about big boy money!  I held off using the grants for a long time out of pride, but finally changed my mind after moving portable cattle fencing a quarter to half acre at a time every day for two years.  And before you think about passing on a resource like this, go and rent a 20 acre field, fence it, route buried water to it and see how much you spend.  For example, an 18 acre pasture we just completed this spring took 15 months of work and required over $11,000 of investment before we ever put the first animal on it.  Could we have gotten there on our own?  Yes, in time with a lot of diligence.  But in my mind, we need to jumpstart this decentralized sustainable food model now, while we still have the opportunity to do so.  If you have deep pockets to fund large projects, great!  Not everyone does.  Add to that the fact that we, as small farmers, are fighting an uphill battle against government bureaucrats and huge food corporations with an army of lobbyists, paid for politicians and lawyers, at their disposal.  This is a tough fight.  Again, I’m not a proponent of government handouts, but time is of the essence.  In my mind we either accept a helping hand from a program that is all about farming the right way, or we accept that our personal health and what's left of our soils are goners.  A country that cannot feed itself is destined for failure!  And in the end, we are talking about are our own tax dollars, so we might as well put them to work doing something that is going to heal our country and not further destroy it.  And this is money well spent, laying the way for multiple generations on a farm to raise healthy, nutrient dense food and make a good living while doing it.  Personally I think this is the best investment our country can make in itself and is why I have changed my attitude about accepting grants from the NRCS. Now that I’ve climbed down from my soapbox, you are probably wondering how these NRCS programs work.  Well, the first thing you need is access to land.  You can own it or you can have a contract drawn up to lease or rent it.  Either way, you have to have legal control of it in order for the NRCS to get involved if the grants are to be in your name.  As an aside, in the case of renting or leasing, I would personally want to know that I would have control of the property for a long period of time prior to putting the in the effort for something like building fence.  Now, another solution might perhaps be that a family member, friend or adjacent farmer owns some property but is willing to sign off on the paperwork in order for you take advantage of the programs.  The grants could all be done in their name, while you do the labor and project management and simply rent or lease the property on the backend.  And maybe the “lease payment” is the sweat equity from you building the fence, planting the grasses, etc.  However you can work it out, my advice is to do it and make this happen if you are serious about truly sustainable farming.  And that advice goes regardless of scale, it could be 2 acres or 500 acres. Next, call your local NRCS office (you can find your local office here) and tell them you would like to schedule a time for them to come out and view your property.  You’ll want to mention that you are interested in the EQIP grants, and if you haven’t had any (or little) farm income on your tax return in the last 10 years, mention the Beginning Farmer grant as well.  If you qualify as a “beginning farmer”, then you will get a slightly higher reimbursement rate on projects.  Think of it as a bonus for being a newbie.  If you have an existing farm with systems in place and have been going about things from a conventional manner, or if you are above taking a grant, you might just want some technical assistance and how-to advice.  The NRCS is happy to provide that as well, and you would be wise to tap into the vast amount of knowledge available to you through their staff. Before your meeting, you’ll need to have in mind what it is you want to accomplish and some idea of the systems you are looking to put in or improvements you want to make.  Are you wanting to graze cattle?  Produce surplus hay?  Install a freeze proof livestock watering area?  In the case of a conventional farm, you would want to be open to how you can change your practices to increase yields, profit and quality of life through sustainable practices.  On our farm, we have built high tensile fence, installed buried water, planted grazing areas, and have received grants for all of the above.  So consider printing out an aerial view of your property and doing some basic sketching, showing where you are interested in installing fence, water, seeding or all of the above.  You might even want to show this in phases over multiple years.  How do you see the whole thing coming together?  Maybe you have an existing grazing area that is overrun with fescue, you can get small grants to help inter-seed new stands of grasses and legumes into these areas.  Tell them what you want to accomplish where, list the obstacles, and let them help you find the right solution. After you meet and discuss your ideas, they will draw up plans, put some cost estimates together and give you a preliminary set of paperwork to look over.  If you want to make any changes to the systems or time frame in which they will be installed, now is the time to do it!  Realize, at this juncture, there is no commitment to do anything and if you are going to back out, this is your chance.  If not and you want to move forward, sign on the dotted line.  But be warned, once you sign, you are committed!  You have just entered into a contract with the United States government!  Scary, huh?  It’s really not that bad, but there are penalties if you decide to change your mind after signing the contract and tying up funds.  From my understanding, if you don’t complete your contract on time and to the specifications given to you, there is a 10% penalty.  So if you default on a $10,000 grant, be prepared to pony up $1,000 to your favorite uncle.  Each district only has so many funds given to them via the farm bill and they don’t want to tie those up with folks who are going to back out.  Those could have gone to some other guy who would put them to good use. Once your contracts are signed, that money is locked up under your name (or the name of the landowner) and is all yours once you complete the project(s).  This is where a lot of the confusion comes in:  With NRCS project funding, you have to front the capital to complete the project.  It s a grant, not a loan!  Once work is completed, the NRCS will inspect it and have you finish any punch list items to meet the specifications they gave to you prior to work starting.  After that, your paperwork will be submitted for reimbursement.  Please note that all systems have to be installed with new components, and you can’t begin work on something prior to getting your contracts signed.  So if you have already begun building fence and ran out of money, they are not going to come to your rescue.  And while you and I may believe that a used telephone pole would make a great end post, they disagree.  Remember, no used materials!  The only exception I have seen to this is the use of certain used materials for fence posts.  The NRCS has allowed the use of existing oil and gas fiberglass piping for fence posts all over Indiana.  Some of this stuff is truly used, but a lot of it is new “reject” material, meaning it didn’t meet the specs for the intended use.  This fiberglass material sure does make fine fence posts though, and being thick and heavy, they will outlast me and my kids.  I don’t know if the use of these materials is an Indiana NRCS thing, or something nationwide.  Be certain to inquire about it in your meeting with your NRCS representative if fence is on your agenda. My experience with their cost estimates is that they are pretty spot on, and maybe a little on the high side for certain things, but this is in our favor.  The way it works is they will look at your intended system and give you an estimate, including labor and materials.  They might say a 5 strand high tensile fence will run $1.05/foot installed with labor at “x” linear feet, so your project money equals “y”.  That includes posts, gates, wire, ratchets, labor, equipment, etc.  You can then hire the whole thing out, hire it partially out, or do the entire thing yourself.  That is totally up to you as project manager!  But remember, there are specifications to meet and crooked fence posts won’t fly very far towards getting reimbursed.  Things like digging a 4′ deep trench and hydraulically driving 10′ long single end fence posts are best left to contractors with the proper heavy equipment, in my opinion.  Pulling fence wire and installing buried water pipe are skills that you should have as a farmer, and you can pay yourself to do it with these grants.  A hybrid approach is my suggestion.  Of course, there will be tools to acquire, but you’ll need these for system maintenance anyway.  In the end, your system costs what it costs and you get reimbursed a flat amount based on your contract.  You may come out ahead, break even or get into your own pocket, it just all depends.  While you can pocket a little money if you do some of the labor yourself, you are best off to not skimp on the materials.  The way I view it is that I’ve been blessed with this grant, so I’m going to install the best possible system I can with the best materials I can afford.  You can install PVC fittings for buried water, if you want, or you can install a solid brass tee that will outlast you and your kids, if properly installed.  And who wants to go digging holes looking for a leaky fitting anyhow?  Spend the money you’ve been granted to put things in right, especially the buried ones! The final thing I want to mention is to keep your expectations in check in terms of turn around time on meetings, plans, and especially the reimbursement process.  We are talking about the federal government here and sometimes things move slower than we in the private sector would prefer – like at the speed of molasses flowing uphill in January.  Okay, it’s not that bad, but it can take a couple of months for you to receive your reimbursement from NRCS after you complete your project and get it signed off on.  Please note that the reimbursement comes with a 1099 attached to it that you or whomever the landowner is must claim as income, so there are tax implications.  Be certain to speak with your tax advisor about that beforehand, as many of these systems have to be depreciated over time and can’t be written off in whole the year of purchase. But in the end, my opinion is that the NRCS is a good organization with good people who are genuinely trying to help those of us that want to raise food in a sustainable manner.  And regardless if you are a beginner or seasoned farmer, homesteader or full time farmer, or if you need a grant or just some technical help, the NRCS is a worthy ally that you should involve.  

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Predators Amongst Us!

Predators, psychopaths, violent criminals, rapists and sex offenders are all names of violent people who are cold blooded and devoid of a moral compass.  They are evil and avoidance, if at all possible, is our goal. This month, we want to look at what factors help turn a person into a criminal and why they are becoming more and more common. Also, we will describe what to look for in recognizing a predator and cover some of their characteristics. This is some rather “dark” information here, but we need to wake up to the reality of these predators and understand them, so we can hopefully recognize one of them before it’s too late. We all have heard many patriotic songs that declare: “America, the land of the free!” This is a true statement for most of us, but this “land of the free” has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world! And to illustrate how effective prison time is in changing someone, the re-arrest rate is nearly 70% for another felony crime after they have been let out the first time.  Maybe the fact that the average 8-year sentence usually only means 3.5 years behind bars has something to do with it. The U.S. recently hit a new record! No, this news isn’t good either. There are now over 747,000 registered sex offenders as of April 2013, reported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This number is up 25% from the first time it was looked at in 2006. What are some other reasons that America’s prison cells are so full? Col. David Grossman, a leading expert on violent crime, argues that the breakdown of American society, combined with the pervasive violence in the media and interactive video games, is conditioning our children to kill in a manner similar to the army's conditioning of soldiers. He says, "We are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the infliction of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment: vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion. We are learning to kill, and we are learning to like it." If you want more than one man’s learned opinion, in 2000, the American Medical Association, Surgeon General, the American Academy of Psychiatrists, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology made a joint statement to Congress concluding, “Media violence causes violence in children, and the violent video games appear to be particularly harmful." It is now 14 years later and have we made any progress? Isn’t all media and gaming far more realistic and accessible now than in 2000? The system isn’t working to stop the creation of a predator and cyclical child abuse is hard to stop. We have to be aware of how pervasive the influence is and use that to further our resolve to be on guard and not let it happen to our children. Abuse is a well-known predictor of future predatory behavior. Child abuse, whether defined as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, is a real problem in the U.S. and it occurs in every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, and within all religions. Child.org was founded in 1959 and they report that about 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing this horrible cycle. Tragically, the U.S. loses, on average, four to seven children every day to child abuse and neglect. Who are these predators and are they easy to pick out in the population? Bill Oliver, a psychiatrist who worked in a SuperMax prison with violent predators for 20 years says this about them: “Predators are shadow figures and they are chameleons that blend into their surroundings and they look like they should be there.” He also sums it up by saying, “The Devil does not look like the Devil.” A thug is a thug, and we don’t need much help picking them out. The predators that rely on their chameleon-like look and behaviors are the ones that can take so many by surprise. Criminals do not make appointments! The point is that they don’t look like a predator; many times they are handsome and charming (ever heard of Ted Bundy?), leading a “normal life” and having a career. This is critical information! Is that good looking guy at Starbucks really just asking about where you got your cool shoes, or is he questioning you to “test” if you could be his next victim. Clinical psychologist, Martha Stout, reveals that 4 percent of ordinary people have an undetected mental disorder, and the chief symptom is the complete absence of conscience. Complete lack of conscience is probably one trait we would all pin on a predator. Some other characteristic traits they tend to display are selfishness, narcissism, and complete lack of empathy. I know we all know people like that who aren’t predators, but these can be red flags. We’ve all seen the neighbor on the news when someone is arrested for a horrific crime saying that they are so surprised because the person seemed so “normal.” Here’s some more astounding evidence of the predators living around us according to Oliver and he says, “About one-third of criminals are in jail, one-third are on parole and another one-third are not caught in the United States.” What! America has two-thirds of its criminals roaming the streets? It also turns out that many crimes are masterminded by people IN prison and prisons have become training grounds for the even more violent criminals of the future, once they’re paroled. Oliver also concluded that rehabilitation is not a realistic concept for predators and claimed, “They are intensely narcissistic and cowards at heart. They have no concept of yesterday or tomorrow. They look at humans as objects and will do whatever it takes to get whatever they want from whomever they want. They are exceptional at gaining trust and are very conniving. There are usually drugs, alcohol, and psychological desensitization involved so they feel it is the victim’s fault and not theirs.” We can look at the animal world for evidence of the prey most sought by these predators. Drop quiz: Does the pack of coyotes attack the bull elk with the antlers or the young calf? You got it, the young calf. Anna Salter, the author of “Predators” and one of the leading experts on sex offenders said, “Rapes of adults are actually only about a third of the rapes that occur in the country each year. In a year, the National Women’s study reported 1.4 million rapes of children.” The landmark National Women’s Study of 1989 concluded that 1 in 7 of women will be victims of rape in their lifetimes and 60% of the time is when they were children! Hold onto your hats because 30% of rapes occur in kids less than 11 years old! Statistics don’t even tell the whole story because it’s theorized that only 1 in 6 rapes even get reported. It turns out that children are targeted more not just because they are vulnerable, but because the offender is generally someone the family trusts. Teach your child at a young age about unacceptable behavior and touching from others. Don’t just blindly let your child go with an adult you know that seems so wonderful and trustworthy. Many times these good personality traits are built into the “act” of the predator. Predators usually have a pretty serious history. Anna Salter interviewed 591 sex offenders that had a combined 195,000 victims! That’s 330 victims, on average, per predator! That is enough victims to fill the Louisiana Superdome two and one-half times! If they aren’t conniving then how do they get away with that many crimes? Salter interviewed many sex offenders and I think it’s important to read the following statement verbatim from one of the multiple offenders because it’s very chilling and educational at the same time: “Getting the person to trust me first. Then I knew I could do whatever I wanted. I wanted to see the pain I could cause them, then bringing them down. It was the ultimate rush… What I felt when I hurt somebody physically, that goes away. When I hurt somebody emotionally, that’s never going to go away. That was a thrill.” Salter also found that many of these predators hide in schools, businesses, churches or any other place with a population of children and they often hold positions of trust. Parents don’t close your eyes and turn a deaf ear to this and just assume the good in everyone. Protect your children and talk about the unthinkable with them. Hopefully, this has opened your eyes to the truth that there are a large number of predators on the streets and they walk amongst us. You do need to worry more about the charming man in the suit than the guy that looks like a thug on the street corner because the thug sets off your alarm bells well in advance. The famous Voltaire once said, “Minds differ still more than faces.” Don’t let someone’s outward appearance fool you into being led into a situation where you are attacked or your child’s innocence destroyed forever.

Beth Warford

Beth Warford

Range Finding, Mil Dot, DuPlex (Plex) Reticle, Parallax, MOA.

Mil Dot Reticle I'm working on understanding scope adjustments and use. I had always thought mil dot stood for Military Dot Reticle System. Nope, it means Milli-Radians. A radian is PI(3.14) at 180 and 2 PI(6.28) at 360 degrees. Milli-Radian is 1/1000th of a radian. Also just a note, this means there are 6.28 radius (one radian is a radius) of a given circle around its circumference. But what this means for us is that the image in the scope at 10x power is 1/1,000th the actually size of the object. So a 1 meter tall target at 1,000 meters is 1 mil dot tall. A 1 yard tall target at 1,000 yards is 1 mil dot tall. A 1 foot tall target at 1,000 feet is 1 mil dot tall. A 1" target at 1,000" is 1 mil dot tall. A 1 cm target at 1,000 cm(10 meters) is 1 mil dot tall.
Remember that is at 10 power. So 5x power and the target is now 1/2 mil dot tall. 4x power and it's slightly less than 1/2 mil dot tall. A Mil dot (10x) at 100 yards is 3.6" (that is 1/10th of 1 yd(36") at 1,000 yds) There is nearly 17 Mil dots in 1 degree and 1 degree is 60 MOA. (scope adjustments are in fractions of  Minute Of Angle) Or there is .28 or close to 1/3rd mil dots in one MOA. Saying it another way, there are 3 MOA in one Mil Dot. And one MOA at 100 yds is close to 1". 200 yds, 2" and so on. So you can see that, once you get this straight in your head, you can really fine tune your POI (point of impact). Could a mil dot reticle be used for short ranges such as air gun ranges? Sure. A table could be made to help you with this. I'm not totally convinced that my math is correct here. So check me on this. I made a spreadsheet as such. Mil Dot is 1/range/(%of10x*1,000). % of 10x is power /10.  In this case, 4 power scope. foot mil dot range ft x power % of 10x 1 20.0 20 4 0.4 1 13.3 30 4 0.4 1 10.0 40 4 0.4 1 8.0 50 4 0.4 1 6.7 60 4 0.4 1 5.7 70 4 0.4 1 5.0 80 4 0.4 1 4.4 90 4 0.4 1 4.0 100 4 0.4 1 3.6 110 4 0.4 1 3.3 120 4 0.4 1 3.1 130 4 0.4 1 2.9 140 4 0.4 1 2.7 150 4 0.4 MOA is Minute of Angle or 1" at 100 yards. Actually 1.047" at 100 yards. My new BSA scope has 1/4 MOA adjustment for both windage and elevation. This means 1/4" at 100 yds. So this would be 1/8" at 50 yds or 1/16" at 25 yds. (This scope adjustment has nothing to do with the power of the scope)  One feature of this BSA scope I really like is the metal screw-in lens cover end caps. I have decided to zero my Chinese air gun at 20 yds because it is shooting at only 420 fps. This gives me a kill zone from 4 yds (12 ft) to 22 yds (66ft) of 2" diameter. What I need to do is buy a new air gun with higher fps or repair this one. Once zero is set it can be moved with the elevation adjustment. At 20 yds 1" is about 20 clicks. A person could also re-zero at 25 yds, 30 yds and 15 yds noting how many clicks is needed to reach each zero point. However the ballistics and kill zone changes dramatically when you change the zero point. You really need to know at each 0 point how high the pellet will rise above the line of sight. Will also need to know where it drops a few inches below line of sight. You can use ballistics software to determine this or simply do some shooting of targets at different distances. DuPlex Reticle Above is a common reticle which can be used for range finding. This is the reticle on my BSA 4x32 scope. I have yet to find out specs for it such as MOA of the thick to thin line transition you see in the image. Or how many inches that is at 100 yds from left to right or up to down. Many of these scopes are 30"x30" at 100 yds. So, with lack of proper information, I may have to use empirical methods for figuring this out with my particular scope by sighting through the scope at a target at 100 yards.  This process should be simple enough. I will set up something with 1" or 2" marks on it at 100 yds from viewing position. Then count the number of marks from center to left or whatever. Double the results to get size of object in inner box. Let's say the inner crosshair box is indeed 30"x30" at 100 yds, that means a coyote at 100 yards would nearly fill the box. A crow 8" tall would be half the distance from outer box to center of cross hair. If the crow is at 25 yds, then it would fill the box top to bottom. It's a matter of ratios. It's also a matter of knowing the average sizes of the game you are hunting. Also, one can range objects such as fence post, pop can, bottle or other refuse. Just about anything you already know the size of in the field of view. Then, when game moves into that position, you have a jump start on estimating its range. Using Parallax Adjustment to Determine Range I think this blog link can explain better than I, so here it is     "Parallax and Scopes". This BSA Air Gun Scope I bought has a parallax adjustment on the objective bell up front. It shows 7.5 yds to 100 yds to infinity. It has markings adjustments on it for ranges between 7.5 and 100 yds. As that article suggests, they probably are not accurate. Also the article says that on lower powers, such as this 4 power scope, and at closer ranges, such as air gun ranges, parallax is not a huge problem. This may mean it will be more difficult for me in this situation to use this adjustment in ranging targets. Basically if you change your gaze or focal point forward and back, this will cause some movement to appear in the reticle between the target and the crosshairs. If you notice this movement, you have parallax and then can adjust the setting until there is no parallax. The markings on the bell adjuster will give you the range. Conversely, if you know the range by some other method, then you can reach up and set it to that range and know that most of the parallax is removed. Also, that article said that parallax has nothing to do with focus adjustments. My scope comes with a focus adjustment on the front. For air guns some good free ballistics software can be found at Hawke ChairGun Pro As we can see from the chart above, we have a 2"dia. kill zone from 3 yds to 25 yds. The pellet will rise to roughly 1/2" above line of sight at 13 to 14 yds. It also drops to 2" below line of sight at 28 yds. Keeping this in mind after you have ranged your target (game) would be important. If anyone wants to clarify or even correct any of this in comments, please feel free. I purchased a Chinese Spring Piston .177 cal Air Rifle for $40 and he threw in a box of 250 pellets. New, this gun goes for about $80. I owned one of these once almost 15 years ago. Currently I want this gun as a "hunt near the BOV" gun, as it's a bit heavy for packing. Back then I wanted it for target practice because I had been scoring only marksman on military M16 qualifications around 23 of 40 shots. I practiced my marksmanship fundamentals with this pellet gun in the backyard for a few months just prior to the next qualification. That next time I scored sharp shooter, which I think was a score of 35 of 40 shots.  That was almost expert, which was 36 to 40 of 40 shots. I wanted this gun in particular because it comes with front adjusting sights and rear adjusting sights for both windage and elevation. On this gun I just purchased it appears that both front and rear sights adjust for windage and elevation, though I know for sure the rear sight adjust that way. The rear sight also had 8 quick settings for varying distances which adjust its height. The ballistics on a .177 varies quite a lot from the high powered .223 at 2,500 fps. I believe the .177 exits the muzzle at 900 to 1200 fps on most air guns of this caliber. I chronographed this gun and it shoots at 420fps. I'm not totally sure that it may not need servicing, which might increase the fps. It doesn't matter how many fps the gun shoots, marksmanship fundamentals remain the same. For rifle this is Position, Aim, Breathing and Trigger Squeeze. For pistols it is Stance, Grip, Aim and Trigger Squeeze.
The above clickable image is an Excel file that I wanted to share. This chart shows a silhouette size for targets 6' tall (human size) for varying distances. 25 up to 500 yards. It gives you meters for comparison sake. It shows you in yards, feet and inches how tall and wide the target silhouette must be in order to simulate a sighting view size for targets at various distances. The only value you change on this is the yards to the real target. This example is set to 20 yards. So we see that, at 20 yards, your silhouette must be 5 12/16 tall by 2 14/16 wide to simulate a human at a distance of 250 yards. In other words, in your sight view, that silhouette will appear to be the same size as a human at 250 yards. This is good, it gives us a way to practice for longer distances even though we only have 20 yards of back yard to shoot in. Of course the ballistics are not the same for higher powered rifles at longer distances, but we still get to practice all the fundamentals which include aiming and sighting. On the spreadsheet above, you may however set that distance to 10 yards, 20 yard, 25 yards, 30 yards, 50 yards or whatever you like and it will give you appropriate silhouette sizes. How did I come up with the formulas? Ever hear of Angular Size Calculations? Angular Size Calculator And they have a formula (Angular size in degrees = (size * 57.29) / simulated distance). This is in column C on the spreadsheet. I then have to divide that by 2 (in other columns we multiply back by 2 to get full size) to figure 1/2 the tallness of the silhouette because the next math deals with trigonometry of right triangles. The formula is (Opposite side=tangent(angle)*Adjacent Side) which is in column E. Adjacent side in this case is the simulated distance. I believe I also had to covert degrees to radians in the formula as well with a spreadsheet function radians(). I made this for simulating rifle distances(ranges). However there is no reason it could not be made to work for pistol distances as well. So that you could emulate a pistol shot at 10 yards, 15 yards, 20 yards, 25 yards, 35 yards, up to whatever, 50 yards, 100 yards. Also It could be changed from 2 yard tall target to a smaller animal sized target other than a human, such as a rabbit or hog.I did this on page 2 and page 3 in the worksheet download above. Instead of 2 yards change the formulas to use 2/3 yard or 1/3 yard. Though the height to width ratio would be inverted meaning the animal is most likely twice as wide as tall instead of twice as tall as wide. Could also work up a tab for vehicular size objects such as trucks or armor. My first hunt with the Chinese pellet gun and cheap 4x scope.  On my first hunt with the pellet gun, I sat down almost at the top of a hill below some bluffs near the property where my camper is at now. I waited about 20 minutes, being very still. I was mostly camouflaged, except for my blue jeans, which probably looked similar to the large rock I was sitting on anyway. My eye glasses were visible but that was about it. In front of me I heard nothing, but caught sight of some movement. It was a grey squirrel that moved onto a rock at ground level about 30 to 40 feet from me. As I lifted and moved the gun to get a bead on him, he froze and looked my direction. I thought, "Good squirrel! hold very still while I shoot you." I put the 4 power scope on him center mass and fired. He then moved very fast while chattering very loudly to a small tree in front of him. Then up that tree. And then did a frantic leap to a larger tree that was behind him. He went around to the back side opposite of me and disappeared . With a semi-auto 22 I would have been able to get in another shot. But with this single shot pellet gun I didn't have time to reload a pellet before he got behind the big tree. I went over to the big tree and saw a split at the base large enough for a squirrel to get into. So I guess this was his den tree. I may have hit him or maybe only close. Even if I hit him, it might not have hurt him much if any. I now think I'd had better chance of a kill if I aimed at his head instead of his body. With the pellet gun one must snipe the game. Zeroing the new BSA scope. I began to shoot the gun to zero with the new scope. It was shooting all over the place, something was wrong. Sometimes groups would be together and sometimes not. Adjustments to windage or elevation didn't seem to take effect or even moved the wrong direction. So I inspected the scope mount to see if it was not secure. I found it was secure but the scope rail was not. There was a rivet in the back of the scope rail that was loose. My friend Gary suggested I have someone take a mig or tig rig and tack it. So I called my brother, Mike, who has shops with those rigs. In the photos below, I show where we tacked it. The first tack weld on the rivet did not solve the problem. There was a ring the rivet was attached to that was moving around the housing. We added a tack to the ring and yet there was still a small bit of movement. Last we tacked the rail against the housing and then it was solid.

I began to zero it again and it was quite a ways off in both directions. Like 1.5 feet or so. My friend Gary said we may be able to shim the scope mount rings with cardboard. Its my fault but when we welded it we eyeballed the alignment of the scope rail with the barrel. If we can't get it zeroed then I may have to take a thin disk wheel and cut the welds and then find a better way to align it, then re-tack weld it.

CaverDude

CaverDude

 

Are Antibiotics Required To Raise Livestock?

This week, I had an e-mail from a man who is interested in raising his own livestock.  He is currently in the learning and planning phase and had the following question: “One of the guys at my work said it is impossible to raise hogs without antibiotics.  Is this true?  I don’t think it’s true, but thought I’d ask.” Below is my initial response to him: “In five years, I have used one antibiotic on a pig, and that was this past fall.  I had one that caught pneumonia and was sure to die if I didn’t (watched that happen three other times).  I’ve raised over 220 pigs in that time so, no, that is absolutely false.  He doesn’t know what he is talking about, or more likely, is just regurgitating what he has been taught.  Now, in a confinement application, what he states is true, due to the rampant disease and bacteria.  But that isn’t farming, and it’s a lazy way to raise animals.” Let me expound upon this question, as it routinely comes up in farming circles about not just pigs, but most any livestock.  The main reason farms give antibiotics is a preventative measure, not to actually treat an acute problem or disease.  Sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in watering system and medicated feed accounts for 80% of all antibiotic drug use in the United States!  That’s right, only 20% go to human beings.  And we wonder why antibiotic resistant strains of bugs are popping up everywhere! Now, in a confinement application where animals are simply kept in a barn with no access to fresh air, pasture and sunshine (nature’s natural way of sterilizing things) this is a true statement.  No animal can live in a manure and bacteria infested environment without the aid of drugs.   But that is not how nature intended them to live now is it?  Take for instance the lowly pig, often regarded as the dirtiest of all farm animals.  And in these aforementioned conditions, it is.  A hog will root through and eat its own manure when left to that end, and then turn right around and sleep in it.  Obviously, this is going to stimulate disease and necessitate the use of pharmaceuticals. However, if our goal is to mimic nature inside of a production model, then we will raise our hogs in the forest, just like is done in nature.  When placed in this setting, the hog is actually the cleanest barnyard animal.  When confined to an area out in the woods, they will actually establish a “bathroom” area(s) and will not eat the vegetation in that spot until all other vegetation is consumed.  If we rotate them in a timely manner, this issue never occurs and we move them off of old excrement where bacteria flourishes and into a new paddock with clean vegetation.  This breaks the cycle of many pathogens, parasites and bacteria that can cause disease.  Add to that the fresh air and disinfectant sunshine and our problems are almost completely eliminated. I mentioned earlier that I used, for the first time, an antibiotic in 2012 on an animal.  Pigs are extremely hardy creatures, and very resilient even if they get sick.  But, just like humans, their weakness is the respiratory system.  Given that we are raising them in the woods with shelter provided by large, mature hardwood trees and bushes, it’s not uncommon for one of them to catch a cold.  This can sometimes lead to pneumonia, which, in my experience, has not ended well.  I’ve had three hogs die from this in the past five years and know the signs well now.  I’ve also had two or three recover, and this most recent case was headed the wrong direction for certain.  So begrudgingly I called our vet and picked up an antibiotic to give him.  I will say, within 12 hours that guy was running around and bouncing all over the place.  The drug worked, and we saved his life.  Given that we have raised over 200 pigs to date, I don’t feel too bad about using one dose in one instance.  However, my goal is still not to have to use anything ever again. But, to say that you can’t raise hogs without antibiotics is not true.  There are literally hundreds, and probably thousands, of small farmers just like me proving that every day all over the country.  If we will simply try and mimic nature in our production system, the animals will take care of themselves, for the most part.  We don’t have to over think things and simply need to keep ourselves from getting in the way.  God wired these guys up to live just fine without our help, try and keep that in mind during your own farming adventures.

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Why Resistance Training is Vital for Self-Sufficiency and Health

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people looking to better their health and lose weight is “How can I burn more fat and keep it off?” Well, that is the magic question, isn’t it! The entire health industry revolves around this question and the possible best answer in one way or another. Unfortunately, a great deal of the health and fitness industry is more focused on making money than giving you the straightforward truth. I believe that is why most people are confused about what exactly resistance training is, and how to implement it correctly into their fitness goals. So what exactly is resistance training? First, the fitness industry loves giving it many different names in order to make you think it is something new that you need to try, and then pay them for it! Of course, all this does is add to the confusion. The simple answer is that resistance training is basically what everyone knows as weight training. Here is the technical definition: Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance. The external resistance can come from numerous sources such as: Body Weight Resistance Bands Weights Weight Machines Resistance Training Doesn’t Mean Big Hulking Muscles! Many of you may be thinking, “Here comes another article on how to get those massive biceps and that V-shaped body builder’s body.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that resistance training can be utilized to build muscle mass. However, most people looking to lose weight and burn fat need to understand that resistance training is essential for everyone who wants to increase their metabolism and to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  Almost any time I broach the subject of resistance training with female clients, the common response is, “I don’t want to have hulking muscles and look like a body builder.” I want to make it very clear for the female readers that this just is not the case! You will not end up looking like a body builder or lose those womanly curves by performing resistance training. And, as a matter of fact, the training may help give you those womanly curves you so desire. So How Does Resistance Training Work? Resistance training works by causing microscopic damage or tears to the muscle cells, which in turn are quickly repaired by the body to help the muscles regenerate and grow stronger. The breakdown of the muscle fiber is called catabolism and the repair and re-growth of the muscle tissue is called anabolism. You're probably familiar with the term “anabolic” when used with steroids. Anabolic means to grow, and that's exactly what happens after you break down the muscle fibers with resistance exercise. In fact, many biological processes of growth in the body require some breakdown, or catabolism, prior to re-growth. Remember:  It’s Not Just About Looks Resistance training is also essential if you want to prevent common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, weakening of your bones (osteoporosis), limited range of motion, aches and pains, and muscle wasting as you grow older. An article in Preventative Medicine indicates: Research demonstrates that resistance exercise training has profound effects on the musculoskeletal system, contributes to the maintenance of functional abilities, and prevents osteoporosis, sarcopenia, lower-back pain, and other disabilities. More recent seminal research demonstrates that resistance training may positively affect risk factors such as insulin resistance, resting metabolic rate, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, body fat, and gastrointestinal transit time, which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. How to Get Started In order to increase fat metabolism, you want to have denser, leaner muscle, which is what you get when you incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine. With that being said, you do not want to rely on resistance training alone. We always recommend that individuals also perform cardiovascular training, such as running, jogging, aerobics, bike riding, etc., into their fitness routine. For most individuals, performing resistance training for 20 to 30 minutes two to three times a week and mixing in cardiovascular training two to three times a week is usually the program we recommend. You can also incorporate cardiovascular training with resistance training. You can do this by performing cardiovascular training first, as you can kill two birds with one stone by also having it act as your warmup.  We mention warming up prior to resistance training because it is vital to understand in order to avoid injury. Most people who injure themselves while performing resistance training have not properly warmed up, use poor form, or are pushing their body beyond its capabilities. It is vital that you warm up for at least 10-15 minutes prior to resistance training and, of course, stretch after your warm up. Stretching or performing resistance training with unprepared muscles could result in injury. Here is one of the basic routines I suggest for people just starting out: - Chest: dumbbell press, dumbbell flies, chest press, cable flies (crossovers). - Shoulders: side lateral raise, front raise, upright row. -  Back: bent-over-row, cable row, pull-down. -  Arms: biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, triceps press-downs on pull-down machine. - Abs: crunches, knee-drop crunches for the oblique muscles on the side of the abdomen (drop the knees to one side and crunch up). -  Legs: Weighted squats, air squats (simply squatting without weight) leg extensions, and curls on the machines, leg press on the machine. Repetitions for men:  8-12, 2-3 sets of each exercise. Repetitions for women:  10-15, 2-3 sets of each exercise. Resistance Training Not Just For the Young Recent research indicates older individuals can also greatly benefit from resistance training. In older persons with and without cardiovascular disease, muscular strength and endurance contribute to functional independence and quality of life, while reducing disability. Aging skeletal muscle responds to progressive overload through resistance training. In men and women, strength improves through neuromuscular adaptation, muscle fiber hypertrophy, and increased muscle oxidative capacity. The increase in muscle oxidative capacity is due to the combination of strength development and aerobic exercise often used in resistance-type circuit training. Even in the oldest persons, resistance training significantly increases strength and gait velocity, improves balance and coordination, extends walking endurance, and enhances stair-climbing power. The Importance of Resistance Training for Self Sufficiency I convey this simple message to all my self sufficiency, survivalists and prepper followers. How are you going to be self sufficient if you cannot squat down, tend to your garden, or haul a bucket of water up the hill to your house without the strength and conditioning to do so? Our ancestors' resistance training didn't happen in a gym, it was accomplished by daily life tasks. Everyday they had to hunt, gather, maintain/build their shelter and they spent a lot of time in the form of play. Where do you think things like dancing and wrestling came from? Only the most stringent of our "off the grid" brothers and sisters can say they get their resistance training type of exercise from their daily life activities. Even then, a lot of them have modern machines and tools that greatly reduce the effort put out, when compared to our hunter/gatherer ancestors. So make sure you incorporate some type of resistance training exercise in your life 2-3 times a week, and I guarantee your health will be the better for it.
References: Weil, Richard MEd. “Resistance Training.” medicine health. Web. 26 FEB 2012. Wilkes, Emilie, et al. “Blunting of insulin inhibition of proteolysis in legs of older subjects may contribute to age related sarcopenia.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90.5 (Sep 2009):1343. Williams, Mark A., Kerry J. Stewart. “Impact of Strength and Resistance Training on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Outcomes in Older Adults.” Clinics Geriatric Medicine 25.4 (Nov 2009):703-714. Winett, RA, Carpinelli, RN. “Potential health-related benefits of resistance training.” Preventative Medicine  33 (2001):503-513.

Gary Collins

Gary Collins

Mead, The Drink of the Gods

The drink of the GOD’s. A drink that can be served warm or cold, sweet that has a little bite, simple to make, but complex to perfect MEAD! I am speaking from experience! I got into beekeeping from this master’s dink known as mead. It is one of the simplest drinks to brew up that has sweet taste, complex smells, and can be high in alcohol. I have a recipe that is over 400 years old, and is one of the few open fermentation styles for making it.   I highly recommend having some. *Wink* This art of wine making set me off on my quest to know everything I could on bees and to make KING'S MEAD, my show mead!                                                                MEAD Award for World’s Best International Mead Fest Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, and frequently fruits, spices, grains or hops, can be blended with fruits drinks or wines, and frozen into ice cubes for a sweet add to a stiffer drink. The alcoholic content of mead may range from about 8% to more than 20% of alcohol by volume, (mine is around 26% to 30% if I ice it not). It can be regarded as the ancestor of all fermented drinks, and dates back to ancient history throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. The earliest archaeological evidence for the production of mead dates to around 2000 BC. It is found all over the world, from the trail made from the Vikings just before the crusades. Mead, in its travels, still is looked for by wine lovers, mead makers, Paleo eaters, and food lovers. The background and flavor is unmatched, giving it its own line in the supermarket liquor store.  Some of the first found writings on the drink are: “Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a Galun (ancient units of measurement) of this water with Punt (ancient unit of measure) of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire.” You can download your own copy of this book for free from the gutenberg.org website. Just look up Digby as an author. "To every quart of Koney, take four quarts of water. Put your water in a clean Kettle over the fire, and with a stick take the just measure, how high the water cometh, making a notch, where the superficies toucheth the stick. As soon as the water is warm, put in your Honey, and let it boil, skimming it always, till it be very clean; Then put to every Gallon of water, one pound of the best Blew-raisins of the Sun, first clean picked from the stalks, and clean washed. Let them remain in the boiling Liquor, till they be throughly swollen and soft; Then take them out, and put them into a Hair-bag, and strain all the juice and pulp and substance from them in an Apothecaries Press; which put back into your liquor, and let it boil, till it be consumed just to the notch you took at first, for the measure of your water alone. Then let your Liquor run through a Hair-strainer into an empty Woodden-fat, which must stand endwise, with the head of the upper-end out; and there let it remain till the next day, that the liquor be quite cold. Then Tun it up into a good Barrel, not filled quite full, but within three or four fingers breadth; (where Sack hath been, is the best) and let the bung remain open for six weeks with a double bolter-cloth lying upon it, to keep out any foulness from falling in. Then stop it up close, and drink not of it till after nine months. "FROM THE CLOSET OF SIR KENELM DIGBY KNIGHT OPENED" Translation and explanation of how to make this mead recipe yourself. I will stick close to his quantities, which will give us about 1 gallon of mead. You can easily translate this if you want to make a 5 gallon batch. Put four quarts of water in a pot and heat it. Mark the side of the pot at the water level. Add 1 quart of honey to the water and bring it very gently to a boil. Skim off anything that rises to the surface. Put 1 pound of white raisins in a nylon straining bag (or a doubled cheesecloth bag) and drop into the water. When they are swollen and soft, remove them from the boiling water and press all the juices out of them. Add all these juices into the boiling mead. Continue to boil the batch down to the mark you made on the pan. This is the four quart level. Once this is done, cool the liquid and strain it into a fermentation bucket for six weeks. After this, the fermentation should be almost complete and you can transfer it to a carboy or bottle it, where you keep it for nine months before drinking.  See, a very easy but every complex drink to make. The drink takes two years to make this way and one year of good aging for best flavor. I reason my recipe is so hard to do with people wanting instant gratification. Mead can have a wide range of flavors depending on the source of the honey, additives (also known as "adjuncts" or "gruit"), including fruit and spices, the yeast employed during fermentation and the aging procedure. Some producers have marketed white wine sweetened and flavored with honey after fermentation as mead, sometimes spelling it "meade." Lavender chilled Mead with Lemon Paleo and it's gluten-free, many more people are turning back to the time of drinking mead. For those looking to have an adult beverage and are on strict diets, mead seems to be the drink. Due to the fact it ferments in the wild, Paleo eaters are jumping on the mead bandwagon.  Beer, despite the adoration it commands, it has its shortcomings. Mainly that it’s usually made with gluten grains, and that’s the non-Paleo. Honey, on the other hand, has no grain product in it at all, unlike most alcohols. To the Celts and Vikings mead is not just a drink but a cheer to honor life.   Mead, for the old ways, was only for war, marriage, and Parliament. That the mead was the king's, and the king’s mead was the best in the land. Most of the time drank before and after a battle, mead was handed out in leather jugs for the warrior to take on his jest to Valhalla to see the Gods.  One of the greatest things to see is a Mead Hall. It was made to have the whole town come and drink. The first bars of old, you would say.               To sit in the halls of days of old and have this drink can bring you back. I have had lots of mead in my day. I do not think I have had a bad mead, not saying I have not made some bad meads in my day. I will leave you with wonderment on it and a quick brew for you. Here is a chocolate pumpkin mead recipe that I like. I hope you do as well. Ingredients:  10 lbs sweet cooking pumpkin 4 oz Cadbury's drinking chocolate powder  11lbs honey  3 T acid blend  6 teasp pectic enzyme  5 teasp yeast nutrient  1 pkg wine yeast  Wash pumpkins. Remove seeds and stringy material. Cut into small chunks and boil until soft. The skin will soften with cooking. Leave it to cool. Heat 1-gallon spring water to 160 degrees. Stir in honey and mix thoroughly. Add 4 oz Cadbury's drinking chocolate powder and add 1-gallon cold spring water and add the other ingredients. Add to sanitized fermenting bucket. Add cool spring water until the level reads 4.5 gallons. Put the pumpkin into a large straining bag and add to the contents of the bucket. Pitch yeast when the temperature reaches 70-75 degrees. Close the lid and add an air lock. Daily open and push the pumpkin down, without disturbing the bottom of the bucket. When fermentation slows transfer to secondary. Rack as needed and bottle when clear and stable. I love to talk bees, I travel all over the world doing so. You can reach me at abeefriendlycompany@gmail.com. Get me there and we can all bee friendly. "Make a buzz, have a Bee Hive. When you Talk about Green Technology and Products, I laugh because there is nothing greener then a Beekeeper!" - Michael Jordan -

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Using Helfter Feed Mineral Supplements for Pastured Poultry

To be successful in raising pastured poultry, at least in my experience, you will need to find and use a great feed supplement or “pre-mix”. One great resource we have found has been that of Helfter Feeds located in Central Illinois (http://helfterfeeds.com). Helfter offers a full line of livestock supplements that help make certain your livestock are getting the minerals they need in order to be productive, and, in our case, that means vibrant, healthy animals who have good weight gain. Even though we only use transitional organic corn and roasted soybeans for our feeds, the grains are often times being farmed on ground that has been abused for some time, and, in many cases, this means decades of farming practices that has killed anything good in the soil. No organic matter finds its way back into the subsoil to feed earthworms and micro-organisms, leaving it devoid of real nutritive value. While many of these fields are now being repaired by caring row crop farmers who are using sustainable methods, the grains simply don’t have access to the minerals they, and hence the livestock, need from the soil alone. Your animal is what it eats. This makes using a supplement like Helfter essential. But be warned, there is no shortage of supplements available on the market for everything from a carrot to a cow and anything in between. They are costly, often times promise the world, and it is easy to go overboard with them. In short, proceed with caution and look for real results. While the long term goal is to repair the land so that we can minimize costly inputs such as these, that doesn’t do us any good in the here and now. Case in point: After we began using Helfter feeds, we noticed an immediate improvement in our pastured broilers. We had fewer leg problems, fewer heart attacks and the birds simply looked more vibrant. This single supplement isn’t a one step cure all for the shortcomings of the Cornish Cross, but it sure goes a long way towards making your labor pay off in the end. One thing I learned early on, however, about using these supplements is that you have to think for yourself. We originally began using Fertrell Company supplements, but due to a lack of dealers in our area and increased cost over Helfter, we switched. Our grain mill was also able to stock Helfter feeds which made the decision easy for us. However, Fertrell recommended using fish meal in conjunction with its pre-mix and Helfter did not. While I liked Helfter for many reasons, it seemed to me in watching the birds that they were missing something. Our weight gain wasn’t quite where I thought it should be and after two batches of sub-par weights compared with using the Fertrell product, I insisted that our grain mill call Helfter about the use of fish meal. Helfter contended that no fish meal was needed and that the protein requirements were met with roasted soybeans, but the proof, as they say, is in the proverbial pudding – and my pudding was lacking. Finally, we got some numbers out of Helfter for removing “x” pounds of roasted soybeans and replacing it with “x” pounds of organic fish meal. The next batch of birds was off the chart in terms of weight gain. I’m not a biologist, so I can’t be certain what it was about the fish meal protein that made such a huge difference in our weight gain, but it sure did work. Protein is protein, but I can only assume that the amino acids in the fish meal are somehow more bio-available to the chickens or provided something they were lacking. In any case, it has been a real success since then. No matter who you choose to use, be sure and do your research and track the progress. Don’t be afraid to try different supplement companies and compare them against one another. You are spending good money on these so you obviously want to get the best bang for the buck that you can. Keeping good notes and tracking the data will lead you to that end.

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Selecting Cattle For Grass Based Systems

When selecting cattle for grazing, there are several things to consider to optimize your success and, hence, your profits.  Having made several poor purchases myself, I’ve experienced the frustration first hand of animals that don’t perform in our grass system here at the farm.  The real downside of those bad purchases is that they can stick with you for a couple of years before the animals get (almost) big enough to butcher and allow you to recoup your investment funds!  Tying up funds in a poor choice of animal can set your business back exponentially.  And if they don’t perform well by growing quickly, then a lack of marbling can occur which can lead to customer dissatisfaction.  Oh the joys of producing grass-fed beef! When selecting cattle for a 100% grass based system, it’s best to start with cattle coming out of a 100% grass based system.  It’s really easy to get hung up on wanting a certain breed of cattle, but the best breed in the world with the greatest genetics won’t do you any good if they are coming out of a grain based feeding regimen.  Does that mean that genetics aren’t important?  No, not at all.  In fact, they are of paramount importance!  The point is that grain fed animals might fit all of the other criteria I list below and have smashing good looks and wonderful personalities.  But if those cattle have been raised on and finished on grain,  then they simply won’t perform as well as cattle with the same pedigree who come out of an all grass system.  In reality, you want to find both good genetics and a grass based herd to buy from.  My point is that if you only look at genetics or a specific breed, then you are missing the boat. Another tip for success is that you also want to buy your cattle direct from the source, if at all possible, and avoid livestock auctions.  This allows you to quiz the breeder, see the operation first hand, and inspect the animals carefully before making a commitment to purchase.  It’s also a great way to build a long term relationship with a supplier until you get your own cow-calf herd up and running.  Conversely, it’s near impossible to find out what the animals have been eating if you buy them at an auction.  You also can’t see the parent stock, the living conditions, nor ask questions of the person who breed them.  Auctions can be a way to get a great deal on livestock, they can also be a way to lose your shirt.  If an auction is your only option, then take an experienced cattle farmer with you when you go and be on the look out for sick animals. So beyond the above, what are we looking for when we go shopping?  In general, we are looking for small framed, short legged, wide, fat animals.  And we want genetics, coupled with being bred to perform in a grass based system, to allow them to finish out within 2-2.5 years.  And when I say “finish out” I mean the cow is “done”.  Done is different for every animal, but the brisket needs to be filled out and the rear end fleshed out.  This takes some experience and, over time, you’ll gain an eye for it.  But not every animal you raise is going to be done at the same age or even the same weight.  As best as your finances allow, let the cow tell you when she’s finished out. Notice the height to width ratio of this animal. The fence post to the left is roughly 54″ high and the top wire is 30″ high. If you look closely, a pre-drilled hole near the top of the post is at 48″. This animal weighed about 850-900lbs at the time this was taken and she is only about 4′ tall to the top of her back. Again, notice the short legs and full body structure from neck to tail. We don’t want a skinny rear end, as that is where the choice steaks are located! This red steer is half red devon and half black angus. We find that the red devon genetics perform really well in all grass systems. Most of our animals finish around 1,000-1,100 lbs. and this guy is getting close to that mark. In addition to the physical attributes, we want to look for docile dispositions and personalities who are easy to handle.  This is especially important in a rotational grazing system where we are working with and moving the cattle every day.  Jumpy, erratic animals with a bad temperament should be avoided at all costs, and gotten rid of as quickly as possible if they show up on your farm.  Trust me when I tell you that one heifer who is jumpy can make the entire herd unsettled.  Then they are all harder to work with and they are stressed, which causes them to not perform as well.  This can really make you hate your work.  In my experience, it is best to load that one animal up and make a trip to your butchering facility, regardless of the fiscal consequences. Lastly, we want to look for animals close to home and here is why:  micro-evolution.  No, I’m not an evolutionist.  But, animals do absolutely micro-evolve to their climates, surroundings, seasons and in the case of a cow – to the grasses, legumes, and forbes she has available to eat.  If you can imagine what cattle in Indiana get to graze on versus that of an animal in the high desert plains of say Wyoming, you get the point.  Each animal, over time, will have been bred and evolved to perform well in that geographic region.  So, is it bad to drive 150 or 250 miles to get cattle that you really want?  No, but if you can drive 25 or 50, you will be better off due to the likelihood that the forages they are eating there will be the same as what is found in your pastures.  It may take some looking, but eventually, you’ll find someone with a few extra animals to sell close to home.  And, as mentioned before, if you find some nice animals in an all grass system, really work hard to cultivate that relationship so that you can be a repeat customer.  Good cattle are hard to find, and 100% grass-fed beef is in really high demand!

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Suggested Reading & Learning Sources

Recently, a reader emailed me and asked if I could do an article for some recommended reading on farming. Being that there is a daunting amount of resources out there from which to learn, I'm happy to provide a list of suggestions for you to consider. For subscription based reading, there are really two main sources that I would suggest based on my personal experience. The first is  Stockman Grass Farmer, which is run by a gentleman named Allan Nation, who has also authored several books on grazing beef cattle. SGF is the pre-eminent source for all things grass and grazing related. I don't care if you want to raise 100% grassfed and finished beef, dairy, sheep or milk a goat, SGF is your best source that I have found to date. Most all of the articles are written by actual farmers who practice what they preach and are simply sharing their experiences with you. Authors have included the likes of Joel Salatin, Greg Judy and many others. If you are serious about grazing, you should be subscribing to SGF. The second magazine is ACRES USA and is always an entertaining read no matter what your area of farming or homesteading interests are. The neat, or disappointing thing, depending upon your perspective, is that each issue of ACRES will focus and place great emphasis on one specific area of farming. One month might be veggie production and the next dairy followed by pasture based meats. That being said, there is something to learn in each issue no matter what your bent is. ACRES also has a great bookstore and publishes many of the authors you'll hear me talk about later. You can also order audio copies of previous conferences (more on that later in this article) and learn from some of the best minds in the business of organic agriculture. An optional third source, which is definitely more of a homesteading publication, is called Countryside Magazine and Small Stock Journal. This magazine is a great read for a variety of ideas on a variety of subjects and do it yourself projects around the homestead. Each of the above magazines will send you a free copy to read and see if it is for you. You have nothing to lose by doing this, and all kinds of wisdom to gain! For books, there are a million directions we can go, so I'll focus on pasture based meats for the purpose of this article with a couple of honorable mentions in the areas of veggie production and the agrarian lifestyle. First is no shocker and most likely is already on your radar if you have spent at least five seconds researching pasture based meat production: Joel Salatin. Joel is, in my opinion, the godfather of the back-to-pasture based meat production movement. The great thing is that his books are completely useful for both the aspiring professional and the homesteader alike. If you haven't read anything, I would suggest starting with “You Can Farm” and quite possibly “Family Friendly Farming”. You get exactly what the titles suggest with each book! If you are interested in beef or poultry, follow those up with “Pastured Poultry Profits” and “Salad Bar Beef”. Moving on, I also really like Greg Judy and his book “Comeback Farms” is a great read which really focuses on one thing: Grass, soil and the how-to of mob grazing. If you don't have land, or don't have much land and are thinking you want to farm full time, then check out his first book titled “No Risk Ranching”, which teaches you how to lease property and operate a business without much start-up capital. Another farmer also hailing from Missouri is a man named Cody Holmes. His book “Ranching Full-Time on 3 Hours A Day” is another great read on the how-to of a grass based enterprise as well as a holistic, whole farm approach to farming. Cody is also a CPA and brings a great “bean counter” mentality to farming. As an aside, Cody also does farm consulting in a manner similar to myself and if you need help with setting up your farm books and record keeping, you will not find a better teacher. I had the fortune of attending a pre-conference two day workshop at the ACRES USA conference in 2010 when it was held here in Indy. Cody is a great teacher and has lots of real world experience and success to back up what he teaches. From a marketing and business standpoint, the other book I suggest in addition to “You Can Farm” is titled “Making Your Small Farm Profitable” by Ron Macher. This is a good book which really helped me to tweak my thinking when it came to everything from marketing, enterprise selection, to placement of permanent infrastructure on my property. One lesson that Ron talks about which is still etched into my mind today is that “you can't un-buy a piece of equipment”. This is a guiding principle with any large purchase ($250+) that I make. If you are at all interested in veggie production with greenhouses check out a man named Elliot Coleman. Back when I first began to investigate farming for profit in 2004, I was convinced that I would be a veggie gardner (God had different plans) and I was fortunate enough to meet and listen to Elliot speak at a small conference here in Indy that Purdue University put on. Elliot is the Joel Salatin of greenhouse based, organic veggie production and is half-farmer and half-scientist. This guy was experimenting with high tunnels back in the 1960's and, to my knowledge, was one of the first guys to develop and use a large, portable greenhouse allowing for soil amendments on a production scale. Elliot does till (which is anti my personal philosophy) but he gets results and lives off of his farming venture using just a couple of acres. The man makes a living farming in Maine – from September through April! That's results. Finally my favorite book, which is more akin to a collection of short stories, is a book about faith, family and farming titled “Writings of a Deliberate Agriarian” by Herrick Kimball. This book covers everything from raising garlic and strawberries, to raising boys and giving them their first rifle, to a struggle with a family member's battle against cancer. It isn't so much a farming book, as it is a book about a farmer's life and experiences. You can find it, as well as several other books on how to build your own whizbang chicken plucker or cider press, on Herrick's website “Planet Whizbang”. Lastly, my final suggestion has nothing to do reading books or magazines. If you really want to learn from some of the best teachers in the industry, you should attend farming conferences. The magazines listed above usually have a great list of upcoming events by states and months that you can look into. Two of the larger, better conferences you can attend are the ARCES USA conference held in December of each year and the MOSES organic farming conference held in February. Each of these will also offer pre-conference classroom style workshops with various teachers like a Cody Holmes or Greg Judy in any area of farming imaginable. No matter what you want to learn about, you can most likely get training for it at one of these conferences (Cody and Greg also do on farm workshops, see their websites linked above). If you are serious about farming, these workshops and conferences are a very wise investment. You can also find some great smaller conferences as well, if you will look around. Here, one of our NRCS offices puts on the Southern Indiana Grazing Conference each February. I've met Greg Judy and Gabe Brown at that conference the last two years, as well as other great speakers and teachers. It's small (600-800 people), very inexpensive to attend and is a one day gig. Look around and see what's available in your neck of the woods and get out to a conference soon. November-March is conference season and will be a great use of your time in addition to the reading list mentioned above.

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Part Two- A Look at the Influenza Vaccine

Last week I covered what the influenza vaccination is, the ingredients in it and how the serum is made by predicting the type of flu strain for the upcoming year. I am now going to write about how the CDC uses mass media to get higher compliance on taking the shot, the side effects of the flu shot, why the vaccine is really not "preventative", and how the CDC calculates the number of deaths related to influenza. Also, I will be providing links to educational websites to that a person can make up their own mind as to whether taking the "shot" is worth the risks. "Recipe that fosters higher interest and demand for influenza vaccine" In 2004, a campaign was targeted at vaccinating not just the high risk groups, but also the healthy populations. Glen Nowak, Ph.D., acting director of media relations for the CDC and associate director for communications, NIP, CDC, put on a slide show that he presented at the 2004 National Influenza Vaccine Summit that focused on" fostering fear and demand, particularly among people who don't routinely receive an annual influenza vaccination, requires creating concern, anxiety and worry." Recipe for Fostering Public Interest and High Vaccine Demand Planning for the 2004-2005 influenza vaccination season:A communication situation analysis What are the side effects and safety of the flu shot and how prevalent are they? Common side effects to the influenza vaccine are wheezing, Guillain Barre syndrome, encephalopathy, fever, respiratory infection, pain at injection site, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. I listed the package inserts on the previous post, which you can look up the various side effects for each. Dr Sherry Tenpenny has a Facebook page listing a partial list of adverse events and  awards paid out by the U.S. government resulting from the flu shot. Facebook page partial listing adverse events and payout of U.S. for flu vaccine The one vaccine I am most concerned with is the Flumist, a nasal administered vaccine which continues to shed live viruses up to 28 days. This means that the person receiving the vaccine can spread the flu virus to another for up to 28 days from date of vaccination. Of course the insert says this is a rare event- Influenza vaccines are either category B or C drugs (per FDA), which means that adequate and well-controlled studies on pregnant women have not been conducted and it is not known whether these vaccines can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or if they can affect reproduction capacity.  Pregnancy categories and drugs The CDC states the flu shot is safe for pregnant women. CDC says flu shot safe for pregnant women Which should you believe-the CDC stating the vaccine is safe for pregnant women or the FDA drug classification stating that safety has not been proven?   Why is the flu shot really not "preventative"?
Think about it- there are over 200 strains of H1N1 influenza virus alone. The CDC tries to predict the strain that is going to be prevalent for the upcoming season. Predicting the next year's strain is quite a tricky prospect.   Going back to the first article I wrote, I listed the vaccine insert links. The effectiveness is considered to be around 50% overall. The 2013 vaccine was only 9% effective in the age 65 and older group. Flu Vaccine only 9% effective in population age 65 and older   How does the CDC arrive at the flu shot effectiveness statistics? Public health researchers measure how well flu vaccines work through different kinds of studies. “Randomized studies,” in which people are randomly assigned to receive either vaccine or placebo (i.e., salt water solution), and then followed to see how many in each group get the flu, are the “gold standard” (best method) for determining how well a vaccine works. The effects of vaccination measured in these studies is called “efficacy.” How the CDC establishes flu shot efficacy Statistics can be easily manipulated. Dr Mercola has a pretty informative article on the difference between relative risk and absolute risk in regards to the flu shot statistics. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into the vast field of statistics, however if you are interested, here is a link: Relative verses absolute risk statistics   How does the CDC calculate the number of deaths related to the flu? In order to understand the statistics the CDC puts forth for deaths from influenza, we must first look at the way the system classifies diseases and procedures. According to Wikipedia: ICD-10 is the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO). It codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases. The code set allows more than 14,400 different codes and permits the tracking of many new diagnosis. The codes can be expanded to over 16,000 codes by using optional sub-classifications. The detail reported by ICD can be further increased, with a simplified multi-axial approach, by using codes meant to be reported in a separate data field. Wikipedia definition of ICD codes The codes listed in the National Vitals Statistics report, Volume 61, number 4 for 2010- page 5, lists the cause of death based on ICD 10 codes for influenza and pneumonia as J09- J18 at 50,097 deaths lumped together. Page 39 of the same report breaks it down to 500 deaths for influenza (J09-J11) and pneumonia, remember, WITHOUT INFLUENZA diagnosis or as a complication (J12-J18) at 49,597 deaths.       Compare page 5 with page 39 influenza and pneumonia deaths I looked up exactly what code corresponded with what disease. J09- is avian influenza J10- influenza due to influenza virus. This was further broken down into subset such as influenza with pneumonia or respiratory complications J11- influenza, virus NOT identified. With this diagnosis, it was further broken down into subsets, such as influenza with pneumonia or respiratory complications. J12-J18- Are pneumonia- different types and strains NO INFLUENZA VIRUS DIAGNOSED. This was arbitrarily lumped in with the influenza statistics - In other words, Influenza killed 500 people in 2010 Pneumonia WITHOUT a diagnosis or as a complication of influenza killed 49,597. ICD-10 Diseases of the respiratory system   Educational sites to make up your own mind: National Vaccine Information Center Vaxtruth.org   22 medical studies that show vaccines cause autismDr Sherry Tenpenny  

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

Morels Hiding in the Shadows

One of the most difficult things to do is attempt to find something that is trying not to be found. For years naturalists and enthusiasts alike have been gathering these wild mushrooms. They typically have a short growing season that lasts from 6 to almost 25 days, depending on their environment and the weather conditions. Their season will depend on the amount of precipitation in a particular area, as well as favorable temperatures. Typically morels will spring up about six weeks after the ground has thawed, and sometimes later depending on the amount of rainfall. The length of the morel season will directly depend on the conditions for that particular area. In higher altitudes, the season is delayed by the melt off and the lack of precipitation. These harsher environments typically have a wider daily temperature range that is not as favorable for the morel, causing smaller morel populations, and fewer areas that are suitable for growing morels. The morel is highly adapted to its environment. Conditions have to be nearly perfect for the morel to spring from the ground, and sometimes it may take five years for a particular spore to grow into a treasured morel. This is why we need to respect the morel and harvest these mushrooms in an environmentally friendly manner, so as to encourage and grow the morel population from year to year. It is said that the pattern on the head of the morel mushroom is like a snowflake, there are no two that are exactly alike. This pattern and the contrast of color on the morel make them perfectly camouflaged in their environment. They typically can blend into any forest setting in just about any season, and they are usually mistaken for tree bark, pine cones, and leaves. Generally the morel will grow in the shadows of trees, plants, and other foliage, and the shaded sides of ridges, hills, and valleys but there are always exceptions, and the morel has even been known to grow out in the open and directly under open skies as long as the conditions are favorable. The measure of success is said to be a direct result of planning, and this couldn’t be truer in hunting the morel mushroom. Spend several weekends in early spring to hike into your favorite areas and get an idea of what is happening in the forest. Make note of where any snow may still be lingering to help you identify potentially moist and shaded areas. Spend time watching the birds, squirrels, and deer. Pay close attention to where deer might be feeding and bedding in the early spring, watch for large mounds of broken acorns and nuts under trees, and observe areas where birds are very populated and active. These are all good areas to begin watching for morels in the days to come. Also pay attention to low valleys with heavy tree cover, areas around drainage or soggy meadows, the edges of fields and tree lines, any place you see moss growing in abundance, these will be good areas to keep in mind when the morel season begins. The most obvious area to look for morel mushrooms is in areas where you have seen or know others have seen morels previously. In humid areas around the country, morels will spring up anywhere and everywhere, from deep in the forests to the sidewalks of Chicago. Success depends on patience and keeping a keen eye on a leaf that doesn’t quite look right, or the piece of bark that appears out of place. The best advice is to take your time, walk slow, and keep scanning the landscape. Where to go looking for morels might not be as easy for those of us that don’t have them growing in our backyard. The first place to begin your hunt could be in your local park, state park, national park, wildlife area, national forest, or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. These are great places to begin. These areas typically have easy access and accommodations such as paved trails and walks for the handicapped or special needs individuals wanting to enjoy this growing activity. In addition, access to these areas is typically free or a nominal access fee may apply. For those wanting to get away from the beaten path and seek the areas that don’t get frequented as often by the public, you might want to try private land. When hunting morels on private land, always be sure to get the permission of the land owner before entering private property. It is typically a good idea to get a permission slip signed from the land owner stating that you have their permission to collect or gather morels on their property, simply put to avoid any confusion or forgetfulness on behalf of the landowner or yourself. NEVER GO ONTO PRIVATE PROPERTY WITHOUT DIRECT PERMISSION FROM THE LANDOWNER. This would be trespassing and, depending on the land owner’s mood that day, could cost you some trouble with the local law enforcement, not to mention ruin any future opportunities for yourself or others to tap this potentially prosperous morel hunting ground. Why would they let me hunt morels on their property? Well, if you put something in it for them, such as offering to pick up any trash that you come across, or offer to share some of your findings with them, they will be more inclined to allow you access to their land. Another way is to travel around the areas you want to hunt and, if you find the owner out in the fields or mending fences, simply pull over to the side of the road, pull out some leather work gloves and offer to help them out, meanwhile strike up some casual conversation about morel mushrooms. Ask them if they have seen any, if they have ever tried them, if they would allow you to hunt morels on their property. Most landowners will remember that you took the time to help them so they will more than gladly repay you with access to their land during the morel season. This is a great tactic that needs to be exercised all year long. Utilizing this method, you will quickly be surprised by the amount of land you suddenly have access to when the morel season begins, and remember to always get your permission slip signed by the landowner. The morel season is upon you and you spend the evening preparing for the next day’s hunt. You have all the notes that you have been taking on your hikes, permission slips are signed by landowners, and all your gear is ready (Preparing For The Hunt), and one last check on the internet to see if any of your online friends have had any success. That’s right we didn’t mention this before. The internet is a great place to find other morel hunters from all over the country. If you discover any local groups in your area, you owe it to yourself to become a member and speak with other members to try and learn everything you can about the elusive morel. You will have an opportunity to hear some intriguing stories, similar to those at the bait shop, and will suddenly have access to a wealth of knowledgeable people that you can consult with at your convenience. Your local group might also host an annual foray in the spring that you could participate in. This would be a great opportunity for you to meet some interesting people who enjoy doing what you do; hunting morels. Additionally these are usually hosted in areas that are overflowing with morels, giving you the best opportunity to hone your skills. Morel hunting also serves as a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your kids, while enjoying the beautiful outdoors and getting some exercise. With any luck, hunting morels will leave you and your kids with memories they will cherish for years to come. The post "Morels Hiding in the Shadows" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.  

Travis Toler

Travis Toler

Dumpster Diving – Food for Freedom

A radical way to never pay for food, no food stamps needed. A million years ago I heard of dumpster diving through the gutter punk propaganda. When I was 17, I figured freedom was outside of a job, so I dabbled with the notion of voluntary poverty. My first boyfriend and I left Texas to sleep on the streets of Philadelphia for a week. I will say up front that it was one of the best weeks of my life. During that week we were part of the street community and got to know a bunch of travelers. That’s where I first heard of dumpster diving. I had no idea what dumpster diving meant and it went on the back burner for about 5 years. When I was 22, I typed “dumpster diving” into the search engine of YouTube and was surprised at what I saw. Hello, someone’s pulling food out of the trash. I remember thinking that it seemed novel and how I wanted to try it, but there was a mental barrier that prevented me from even formulating the steps to simply trying it. It resumed back burner status for another 4 years. When I was 26, a good friend told me that he was getting into dumpster diving and invited me along. I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. You’ve got to try it. I know how fantastic the mind can be, making up scary stories, but the mind has nothing on reality. I’ve seen hundreds of dumpsters and would estimate 9 out of 10 dumpsters are clean. Not everyone is a complete slob when throwing out their trash, so set that aside and consider this; in the last 30 days my husband and I spent $50 on food and have not touched 70% of it. When saving for our tiny house and land, we had to whittle our food budget down to $140 a week, but in reality we’d spend an average of $200 a week on food. Now it’s almost like we’re getting paid $800-$1,000 a month to dumpster dive our food or rather, instead of paying ourselves and having more money, we just work less because we have fewer expenses. I’m going to lay out the steps then address some commonly asked questions. Phase one: Just get inside a dumpster, any dumpster, whatever is closest. There’s generally 3 sizes of dumpsters that I come across. The small ones that say “organics only” are for produce. Those are the size of residential plastic flip-top trash cans. There are the large metal trash cans that I can’t see over and have to usually climb in or peek through the sliding metal door. There’s a slightly smaller metal trash can that folks a few inches taller than me can see into. They don’t have sliding doors but large flip-lids. That first week of diving, we knew that coffee shops threw out pastries so we went to one. That was my first time getting INSIDE of a dumpster. I was excited to cross that bridge and was unaware of discretion. I opened bags that clearly had coffee grinds in them and got my hands dirty. I felt liberated in that trash can and knew I was willing to follow this through. I think we ended up finding some sandwiches that were tightly wrapped up and completely edible, bags of cookies from 7-11 and 2 boxes of $50 Neiman Marcus chocolates! Finding things of value, even if it wasn’t something I wanted, meant that I would be provided for. Phase two: Find food and eat it The first time I ate food from the trash was the first time I opened the organics only dumpster behind the Mexican store near my apartment. I hit a goldmine! The top 3 feet of the trash can was dozens of perfectly ripe bananas. I ate one and felt liberated. I took my bag off, filled it as high as I could and walked home. I loved that dumpster. If you have any thoughts of food in the dumpster being dirty or smelly, then it’s a sign that you’ve probably have never gotten food from the trash. The majority of the food dumpsters where I dive contain food that looks right off of the shelf. There’s a documentary called DIVE that shows a group of homies that live off of the dumpster finds and they eat better than ever. I’ve heard more than once there is an improvement of food choices once you dumpster often, and there are enough people out there living exclusively or supplementary on dumpstered food that it’s worth looking into. Phase three: Branch out After we got comfortable with dumpstering a few local spots, we started branching out. Diversifying has been a double-edged sword for us. For one, it gets us out of our routine, which makes for a really fun adventure, but it also creates varying levels of disappointment. Let’s say we hit the streets to find new places but it happens to be trash day so we drive around and it’s nothing but dead ends. Sad face. But sometimes we’d hit a goldmine and we’d all feel like a million bucks. In the beginning, we had the Mexican grocery store and in the back of our mind we knew doughnut/bagel/coffee shops where always an option because they trash everything daily, but we wanted to really look around. Dumpster diving is known for it’s endless amount of junk food. When something comes to its “sell by” date, it’s often that a whole case that gets trashed. Just the other day we dumpstered 2 cases of unopened honey buns which was over 10 pounds! For a long time we avoided dumpster diving but not because we didn’t want to eat from the trash. For 9 years I was vegan, for 2 years I was raw vegan and for 4 years I was paleo/WAP. I have a long history of having a really neurotic (orthorexic) relationship with food and a lifetime supply of bagels and doughnuts wasn’t going to cut it. I’ve come a long way, I’m willing to enjoy a wide variety of junk food and fresh food. Back in the day the fresh food issue was still at hand. Once we branched out, connected with other divers in our area, and didn’t just write certain places off was when we found the mother load of daily fresh produce. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of places throw out produce but often it’s a mixed bag of decent, rotten and bruised produce, however our mother load always looks better than produce I’ve seen being sold on shelves. Phase four: Dream big Don’t think, “Oh the trash can is going to be dirty with nothing I like and I’m going to get caught….” That’s not dreaming big. On the Facebook dumpster diving page www.facebook.com/groups/freeusa/ (closed group) a women dumpstered 38 kind bars from an office supply store. We’re always on the look out to have snacks that my husband can take to college and eat between class. Seeing her picture was pretty inspiring. She branched out, tried new places, maybe got into the dumpster and her family is better off for it. Dreaming big is looking at your needs and wants and expecting those things to be provided to you, but not at a cost. You’re not putting someone out by meeting your needs, these are things that are going to the dump that still have value. My idea of “dreaming big” is never paying for food outside of social events. My friend who invited me out 4 years ago never pays for food and on the dumpster Facebook page there are others just like him. Whether it’s supplemental or exclusive dumpster diving food can be a part of your dreams. Phase five: Repeat set four I was working 50-70 hour weeks for too long and burned out. I stopped working and we were living on the cheap, spending  $1 on food which was pasta and rice. I really had it in my head that in order to live within my means I had to lower my quality of life because I had been living off meat and veggies. I think that humbled me a lot. Chilling out on of my orthorexic tendencies really made way for some serious dumpster diving. Now we have fresh squeezed OJ every day, fruit smoothies for snacks, I made homemade tomato sauce,  and we dumpstered a 20 pound spiral cut ham. Dumpster diving can meet more than just your immediate needs. We give away a lot of food to those who are interested in what we’re doing. We keep snacks in the car and when we pull up to traffic lights where hobos are asking for money we hand then 8 bags of M&Ms or a bag of potato chips. On the Facebook dumpster diving page, a pastor posted a picture of 50 pounds of meat that he and his wife were going to grill for the homeless. Some people wish they had more money to help while other people help out by diving food for those in need. There are families on tough times who dumpster dive to make ends meet. Dumpster diving and prepping go hand in hand. Ask any dumpster diver to show you their pantry, fridge, freezer or backup freezer because they are set! Is it legal? I doubt it, but every place is different, I just assume that the law would rather you starve and die before you’re allowed to touch their precious trash before it’s hauled off…. but that’s not always the case. The way I think of it this “if there is $200 in that trash can would I get in?” and the answer is always yes. When diving, I always think about “What if a cop rolls up, what am I going to say?” I think I would probably say that our country is broke and I’d rather reserve food stamps for someone who really needs it. (I’d try to make that sound the least “hippie” as possible) Plus there is The Good Samaritan Law and the 1988 supreme court (California Vs Greenwood) trash picking ruling. It says picking trash is legal if you’re not trespassing. Do you actually get in the trash can? I’m always willing, but seldom do. We dumpstered a grabbing stick and I’m impressed with how handy it is! Getting in the dumpster isn’t required. When is the best time to go? We all go at different times and all have success. The key is consistency! Pick a handful of stores and check them every day for a week. Where is the best place to dumpster dive? Every dumpster ever, I’m not kidding. Whether you’re looking for food, clothes, shoes, pet food, etc., imagine every dumpster having something you need. Remember the case of kind bars at an office supply store! Plus the more you look for something the more in the zone you’ll be. Compactors are not your friend but keep an eye out, next to compactors can be a small dumpster with a gold mine in it. What kind of people dig through trash? I asked our dumpster diving group what their skill or education levels are and here’s what I got: “Associates in Science (nursing), CNA,  Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, office manager,  freelance writer, AA graphic design,  AA in business, Masters Industrial Hygiene/Hazardous Materials,  BA in Education,  BS in Business Marketing,  GED with some college,  B.S. in Mass Communication, plus 1 years study for a master’s degree, Bachelors in Environmental Science,  Bachelors in Psychology, and marketing minor in business administration, PhD and work at a university”;  the list went on but I barely graduated high school, so I’m not trying to do a song and dance about dumpster divers being top notch, well groomed people. I’m really trying to illustrate a spectrum for those who are only imagining hobos. How do you know what’s edible or not? If the food isn’t identical to what you’d pay for, then leave it where you find it. Smell will tell you most of what you want know. Smell and sight together will damn near paint a perfect picture. Use your brain, use Google’s brain and watch Dive the documentary. If I can answer any questions,  I would love to hear them all.

Melanie Sorrentino

Melanie Sorrentino

A Look at the Influenza Vaccine- Part One of Two

I do not take the flu shot.  Period. For me, there are too many unknowns and ingredients I really do not want in my body. I will, however, try to present information from the CDC's own website, Wikipedia citations and package inserts of the influenza vaccinations. As a nurse, I have heard both sides of the debate from patients receiving the flu shot. Many people claim they "haven't been sick since they started taking the flu shot" and others claim "they got the flu" a week or so after getting vaccinated. There are statistics on both sides that are skewed to favor whatever opinion people wish to adhere to. The CDC recommends everyone (almost) get a flu shot. Who should according to CDC get the flu shot The flu season and the flu vaccinations start in October and can run into mid to late spring. Depending on your age and health status, the CDC recommends either the regular or high potency shot, or the intranasal route. There are three types of influenza viruses- A, B, and C. Influenza C is considered to be a very mild respiratory virus and is not thought to cause an epidemic. Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different neuraminidase subtypes. Influenza A viruses can be further broken down into different strains. Current subtypes of influenza A viruses found in people are influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. In the spring of 2009, a new influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged to cause illness in people. This virus was very different from regular human influenza A (H1N1) viruses and the new virus caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. That virus (often called “2009 H1N1”) has now mostly replaced the H1N1 virus that was previously circulating in humans. Influenza B viruses are not divided into subtypes but can be further broken down into different strains. Types of influenza from CDC website Anigenic Drift, Antigenic Shift One of the challenges of making the flu vaccine is due to the constant mutations occurring. One is called “antigenic drift.” These are small changes in the virus that happen continually over time. Antigenic drift produces new virus strains that may not be recognized by the body's immune system. This process works as follows: a person infected with a particular flu virus strain develops an antibody against that virus. As newer virus strains appear, the antibodies against the older strains no longer recognize the “newer” virus, and reinfection can occur. This is one of the main reasons why people can get the flu more than one time. In most years, one or two of the three virus strains in the influenza vaccine are updated to keep up with the changes in the circulating flu viruses. So, people who want to be protected from flu need to get a flu shot every year. The other type of change is called “antigenic shift.”  Such a “shift” occurred in the spring of 2009, when a new H1N1 virus with a new combination of genes emerged to infect people and quickly spread, causing a pandemic. When shift happens, most people have little or no protection against the new virus. While influenza viruses are changing by antigenic drift all the time, antigenic shift happens only occasionally. Type A viruses undergo both kinds of changes; influenza type B viruses change only by the more gradual process of antigenic drift.  How flu viruses change The influenza vaccines are made to target the following: Influenza A:  H1N1, also called the swine flu is an influenza A subtype. It is responsible for the 2009 pandemic.The 2009 H1N1 pandemic was made up of bird, swine and human flu viruses further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus. This virus was very different from regular human influenza A (H1N1) viruses and the new virus caused the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years. That virus (often called “2009 H1N1”) has now mostly replaced the H1N1 virus that was previously circulating in humans. H3N2 is also an influenza A subtype. It is made up of human, swine, and avian (bird) lineages. It is the cause of the 1968-1969 Hong Kong flu pandemic which killed up to 750,000 humans. H3N2 and Hong Kong flu pandemic Influenza B: Influenza B viruses are only known to infect humans and seals giving them influenza. This limited host and range is apparently responsible for the lack of Influenzavirus B-caused influenza pandemics in contrast with those caused by the morphologically similar Influenzavirus A. Further diminishing the impact of this virus in man, influenza B viruses evolve slower than A viruses and faster than C Virus. Information on influenza B A shot in the Dark- Literally The influenza viruses in the seasonal flu vaccine are selected each year based on surveillance-based forecasts about what viruses are most likely to cause illness in the coming season. WHO (World Health Organization) recommends specific vaccine viruses for inclusion in influenza vaccines, but then each individual country makes their own decision for which strains should be included in influenza vaccines licensed in their country. In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines which vaccine viruses will be used in U.S.—licensed vaccines.  How seasonal flu viruses are selected to make vaccines Given the fact that the influenza virus can change and recombine into so many different strains, it is really a shot in the dark as to whether or not the vaccination will work.  According to the CDC "Flu Vaccine Effectiveness, Questions and Answers for Health Professionals," a  well-matched vaccine to the circulating virus was estimated to have a 50-70% efficacy. When the strains are not well matched, for healthy individuals the efficacy was estimated at 60% and for persons with high-risk conditions 48%.  Efficacy of flu shot What else is in the flu shot? Here is a link to the current influenza immunizations offered for this year: Current vaccines offered this year Current vaccine inserts Flumist          Fluarix          Fluzone          Afluria          Agriflu          Flulaval          Fluarix          Flublok          Flucelvax          Fluvirin     Fluzone          Fluzone high dose          Fluzone intradermal Ingredients that can be found in various vaccinations Flucelvax is made with dog kidney cells. This is a type of cell culture technology that is already being used in many of our immunizations, including rotavirus, polio, smallpox, hepatitis, rubella and chickenpox.  It is supposed to be an alternative to egg based manufacturing process, which relies on an adequate supply of eggs. It is touted as being a lot faster to manufacture the vaccine. I have one question- are there more dog kidneys than there are eggs?  Cell based technology Flublok has fall armyworms- a type of caterpillar.  I am not sure what the point of that is. Something to do with only growing the outer coating of the flu virus-I don't know why that would matter. Nor do I really care. Among the other ingredients found in at least one of the vaccines was the following: Aluminum, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), Thimerosol (mercury), porcine (pig), gelatin, gentamicin (an antibiotic), and formaldehyde to name a few. Interestingly, Fluviron had 25mcg mercury per dose listed in their multi-dose vial. The upper limit, per the FDA, for someone to receive mercury is 0.1 mcg per kilogram (2.2lbs) of body weight per day. So, 1 mcg mercury for every 22lbs body weight. So, a 220lb person should only receive 10mcg mercury a day. EPA limit on daily mercury exposure The manufacturers of the injectable vaccines state one cannot get the flu from the shot since it is an inactivated virus. On the other hand, the Flumist is a live virus given via nasal passages. It can cause viral shedding for up to 21 days, more on that next week. Next week, I will go into the side effects of the vaccine(s),  why vaccination is really not a "preventative" measure, how the vaccine is supposed to "prevent the flu" and how the CDC arrives at its statistics.  Also, I will be linking more educational and informative websites so that a person can make up their own mind as to whether taking "the shot" is worth the risks.  

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

The Future of Permaculture

The Four Boat Anchors Holding Back Permaculture Where does the future of Permaculture lie?  Well, I would like to start off with where it doesn’t lie as that may lead us along faster if we are open and honest about it.  These are areas where I feel we are wasting time if we put any real effort into them… Influencing the individual politics of others Bitching about what is wrong with the current system Doing everything for free or as a “nonprofit” Focusing on PDCs over on the ground “workshops” and multiple income sources I honestly believe each of the above represents no less than a series of boat anchors that hold back permaculture from moving forward at a much faster pace and gaining broader main stream acceptance.  Indeed if each is examined with a basic analysis of what it creates versus what it impedes the true way to move Permaculture into broader acceptance becomes clear in my opinion. Boat Anchor One – Influencing the Individual Politics of Others Let me be clear, I feel we are largely past the point of political solutions to most of mankind’s problems.  I classify myself as an anarcho libertarian but I really don’t care what you call yourself, I really don’t.  You can be a liberal, a conservative, a centrist, whatever, as long as you are using and practicing permaculture, I feel we are going in the right direction.  Make no mistake I am happy to debate politics with you, just not as a permaculture teacher or evangelist. It is my personal contention that permaculture is an anti-political movement, one that is more anarchist than anything else.  Yet I will admit I am not an authority when it comes to this claim, I prefer to cite permaculture’s founder, Bill Mollison in making this claim.  Bill said the following in an interview you can view at this link http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/mollison.html` “Permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.” Friends, I just don’t think it gets clearer than that!  Too many permaculturists seem obsessed with solutions through legislation, “We need the government to _________”.  I laugh at this because what we in Permaculture most need from government is for them to get the hell out of our way.  Doubt me?  Try to set up an ecovillage and really live fully off grid.  When you do, the first real problem you will encounter is the government, along with a mile of codes.  Frankly urban farmers and front yard gardens are assaulted almost daily in many parts of the US.  Hell, why do you think Joel Salitan wrote a book called, “Everything I Want to do is Illegal”? To me Permaculture is our best solution because it calls for action rather than committees and endless discussions about why the other side is the problem.  Let me put it this way, if you are worried about carbon, leave taxes out of it when spreading the permaculture message.  Stick to how to build self-sufficiency and less carbon will go in the air and more will go in the soil.  One hugul bed will put more carbon in the soil then a hundred CFL bulbs will prevent from going into the atmosphere.  You want social justice and food for the poor, go plant a garden where it will feed the poor.  It is that simple.  Now the truth is, when you plant that garden, likely the only problem you will tend to encounter is government obstruction.   You may want to consider that the next time you put your faith in a state based solution.  The key is though none of this is important if what you really want is more permaculture systems, permaculture businesses and permaculture living. Teach permaculture thinking, and by that I mean the design science of permaculture.  Once people have that it will influence them, it will lead them to better choices.  You don’t have to tell them where they are wrong in your view, just show them how to be productive and you will accomplish more.  There have been thousands of people turned off by what most would call “leftist ideology” in permaculture.  Frankly, if you choose one side of the current political spectrum as your platform, you just shut down 50% of your market.  I’d call that cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Let me be clear, it doesn’t matter which side you choose, you cost yourself 50% of your potential market, either way. The big reason to get off the politics though in permaculture is it works, it converts the unconverted.  To be blunt, when taught pragmatically, permaculture converts the heathens!  Preaching to the converted about things you all agree about does almost nothing to further permaculture thinking and design implementation.  Teaching things like technique, design and function stacking is what does that.  Does it really work?  In early 2013, Geoff Lawton approached me and asked that I promote his online PDC to my audience.  I was happy to do so, well, the results were over 500 registrations out of my audience alone.  The majority of these people are either politically right leaning or are libertarian oriented such as myself.  In other words not the usual suspects. So where do you apply your political goals?  In political arenas, and if you want to take permaculture with you God speed!  I would love to see both liberals and conservatives shoving permaculture thinking at their elected officials.  Hell, wouldn’t you like to see a couple million letter to congressmen that read, “Dear Honorable ______, I would like to know how your current policies are taking responsibility for ourselves and that of our children?  Further I would like to know how you are caring for the earth, caring for people and returning all surplus to the system you are taking it from?”  I think it is a long road and you are talking to people more concerned with power rather than solutions but, hey, I want permaculture everywhere so go for it.  Just understand, you insist on making permaculture a political ideology, you will never grow it as rapidly as it can be grown on its own merits. I would like to ask permaculturists that use the phrase “climate change” in every third sentence a simple question.  If God himself spoke to your face and said, “I control the climate, fossil fuels have nothing to do with it”, would you still be as passionate about permaculture as you are now?  Frankly my answer is yes I sure as hell would!  I am trying to feed people, create individual liberty, stop desertification and prevent soil erosion along with a million other things.   And hey if you really believe we need carbon sequestration, set a goal to get 10,000 feet of hugul beds installed or to get 100 food forests planted and don’t worry who the hell does it.  I mean, what is really important, the solution or who is “right” about the problem?  Please read that last question again and it you have a hard time answering it, think about what that really means. Boat Anchor Two – Bitching about what is wrong with the current system. This one there is a place for, that place is waking people up, but once they are awake, shelve it and focus on what to do right, not what others are doing wrong.  Frankly I am a permaculture maniac when it comes to spreading the word.  I know it works, I know how important it is and I will get a person interested by any tactic that will work as long as it is ethical.  If showing them a factory chicken farm will do it, done!  If explaining our main export is top soil will do it, done!  If explaining GMOs and the reality that Roundup and Atrazine are in our food supply will do it, done!  If explaining that I can cut their electric bill will do it, done!  If showing them a beautiful food forest will do it, then I will do that. The last item is the one I prefer, I feel it works better.  You show someone massive productivity, great quality food and ease of maintenance and you generally get a question along the lines of “How can I do that”?  If I get that question, I answer it, if I get a question like, “What can I do about GMOs?” I answer that.  The key though is once I get a “how do I” or “what can I” from someone, I don’t really need to talk about what is wrong ever again; I simply need to show them and teach them what works. At this point I want to instill the following in a person, the prime directive and the three ethics. Prime Directive – The only responsible action is to take responsibility for ourselves and for that of our children. Ethic One – Care of the earth. Ethic Two – Care of people. Ethic Three – Return of surplus to the end of the first two If I can get them that far, from that point on, all I want to discuss is design science and system implementation.  If they just want a garden, great we start there.  Gardens are the gateway drug to permaculture.  Sure they will have more weed issues and struggle a bit more in the beginning than if they sheet mulched and planted a more involved polyculture with some minor earthworks, but that is their choice.  When they get tired of fighting but hooked on good food, they will ask for more. I am not focused on the farm conglomerate with 10,000 acres of GMO soy.  It concerns me, but I know I won’t change their minds with words or calling a congressman.  Nor will I focus on the CAFOs.  I am instead looking for the land owner barely getting by with 100 acres and some cattle who will consider a permaculture system.  I want to tell this person, I can do the following for you… Produce more and healthier cattle than you are right now that will sell at a premium Reduce your expenses Also produce hogs on that same land Also produce chickens on that same land Also produce over 100 varieties of nuts and fruits on that same land Eliminate or drastically reduce irrigation Enable you to hire more people at a great wage and still make more money for yourself Make your land so productive and valuable that you will never risk losing it Make your land so beautiful that your community will want to help you protect it Build your top soil and fertility Use heavy equipment for 2 weeks in a way that will eliminate your need to use it ever again Give you more water than you know what to do with Eliminate any need for fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides Give your farm so much value some people will pay just to come look at it Make is so beautiful and stable your great grandchildren will cherish it and you for creating it When I think about that, I have no time for bitching about what is wrong with our current system.  People do that daily, they gripe and moan and complain and then go to Walmart and buy the very crappy food they are bitching about. On that note, I am not about to tell a single mom barely getting by how shitty food at Walmart is for her kids.  She knows that and doesn’t need me to make her feel worse about it.  Here is what I want to tell that mom, let me show you how to… Grow food in your back yard from things you can get for free Teach your children responsibility, work ethics and to care about themselves and others Cut the cost of your grocery bills Create a place your children want to spend their time and their friends want to be there too Empower yourself to not be dependent on others Know that you will be okay even if support systems like water or electricity fail Feed your kids food of such high quality that it will put food from yuppie places like Whole Foods to shame Inspire your entire neighborhood to do the same things Solve problems, move yourself into a better place in life and understand true wealth Set you and your family on fire with the knowledge that what you do matters This approach works because it focuses on what people can do and most importantly what they can do now.  Some in permaculture seem addicted to problems, that is all they wish to discuss, Monsanto this and factory farming that.  Hey I get it, but do you know what happens if you tell a person long enough about how many problems there are?  First they get pissed off, then they start talking about what should be done, then they get overwhelmed, then they go back to business as usual and feel defeated.  They simply feel there is nothing they can do.  You want permaculture to move forward, show people what to do, help them do it and ask them to pass that on. Rich stars on TV may advocate organic food and talk about the evils of factory farming, but one guy with a shovel can do more to fix that problem than any such people will ever do.   You want to fix our current issues, hand out shovels, rakes, hoes and instructions on how to use them. Boat Anchor Three – Doing everything for free or as a “nonprofit”. I find this one to be a well-meaning sentiment but largely connected to the first boat anchor of political ideology.  We have entered a world where profit is equated with “evil corporations” and all corporations are evil in the minds of many people today.  Then that same person who fears the connotations of evil corporations, incorporates but as a nonprofit.  Let me say something as a business person, totally devoid of permaculture, just as a flat business principle.  You don’t set up a corporate structure on any feel good ideology, political correctness or anything other than practical, pragmatic and legal reasoning. A nonprofit corporation is just as capable of doing evil as a for profit corporation.  In fact, in some cases, they can do more harm by hiding behind the lacy white curtain of “nonprofit status”.  Over 300 million given to the Red Cross for the Haitian earthquake, blowing away like a fart in the wind springs to mind! Plenty of big nonprofits collect millions and millions of dollars and have CEOs with the same G class jets as Exxon and Monsanto CEOs.  Being a not for profit corporation is a technical and legal decision.  I have set up companies as both not for profit and as for profit and I prefer for profit, mainly because the government has less to say about how I run my business. There are times specifically when working with government agencies or specific NGOs (non-governmental organizations) where this status makes a lot of sense or is it becomes practically mandatory.   I will leave the not for profit discussion with this piece of advice; before setting up any business entity, discuss it with a qualified business attorney with a solid understanding of tax law.  Don’t do it on LegalZoom.com, on your own for ANY BUSINESS, and know why the hell you are choosing the specific form. I bring the above up only because the zeal to be a nonprofit company in permaculture is seldom fueled in my experience by any of the value of that structure.  It is mostly fueled because of this concept that to profit is somehow wrong or evil.  Look guys, here is a permaculture principle, “obtain a yield” and how about “a yield is technically unlimited”?  Well, in a business, yield is profit that is why a business exists to make a profit.  Businesses that make no profit end up bankrupt, got it? When many starry eyed permaculture newbies want to become a professional permaculture teacher/consultant/writer/superhero/etc and race right for 501C3 status here is what they are actually saying, “I want to make enough money to pay myself and perhaps my employees a reasonable salary; I don’t want the company itself to be profitable”.  Great you don’t need 501C status, the year of waiting to be approved and the additional restrictions that it comes with it for that.  Instead, just pay out all profit as salary, if you feel overpaid, donate the surplus.  Done, your company makes zero profit; you pay the taxes as an individual and donate any of the evil money that is “too much for one person to have” to whatever you want.  Sadly though if this is how you think, likely those evil profits will never show up and you will be working a typical wage slave J-O-B in order to fund your “business”. Let me put it to you this way, permaculture is the greatest system of design, thinking and problem solving ever created.  If you really get it, you should be able to build a back yard oasis one day and paddock shift systems bordered by food forest strips the next.  Then you should be able to solve the functional problems of a typical business that has nothing to do with farming the very next day.   Sure you might bill the mom in the burbs at a lower rate than the farmer with 80 acres and you might not, as with all things permaculture, “it depends”.  If that mom in the burbs is well to do and can afford it, she gets my market rate.  If she is not so well to do but simply middle class maybe I work the rate a bit lower.  If she is dead broke, she can pay me with adding to my portfolio, a letter of recommendation and a promise to be a force of good in her community, but she is going to provide value for value or I ain’t doing it. Does that make sense?  We all have “value” and value should be exchanged for value in business. Whether you are teaching and consulting or running your own farm, permaculture needs to be profitable if you are doing it as a business.  Don’t get me wrong, if you have a job you want to keep, pay your bills that way and just love doing permaculture that is fine.  If you have extra time and want to organize “permablitzs” at no real fee, go ahead, that is awesome, but you won’t pay your mortgage that way, so don’t delude yourself into thinking you will. Let me put it to you this way, money is not evil.  Money is nothing but a symbol for energy agreed upon as such by members of an economy.  It is merely a means of exchange, nothing more. It isn’t alive; it doesn’t make its own decisions.  Money, to put it in a permaculture metaphor, is like a giant bulldozer.  In the hands of one man it can destroy a forest or put a strip mall in where a park used to be.  Yet in our hands it can build a damn, rip a key line, build a swale and establish a food forest.  Oh and for that dozer to do all those wonderful things you know what you need?  Money!  You need money to buy or rent the dozer, money to fuel it, money for a good operator to run it, money for infrastructure for the dozer to install, etc. Simply put, many in permaculture suffer from a poverty consciousness.  Permaculture is about abundance, one can’t really create abundance with a mindset glued to scarcity.  So if you have a poverty consciousness and want to succeed in a permaculture business, get over it.  Then you can be as charitable as you want and hell, you will likely end up having a great deal to give.   Boat Anchor Four – Focusing on PDCs over on the ground “workshops” and multiple income sources I have had a few conversations with “successful permaculture businesses” and when reviewing their revenue teaching 2-6 PDCs a year provided from 75-95% of their income.  Whoa!  Talk about exposure to a down economy!  Hey guys, isn’t this supposed to be about sustainability?  How sustainable is a field with one crop?  Now bridge the gap in your mind, how sustainable is a business with one revenue source?  The PDC is the big money maker for many “pros”, some because frankly they are simply that good and that in demand.  For those folks, great, rock on.  Yet there can only be so many people of that status in what is, at least for now, a relatively small emerging market.   For many, the reason PDCs are the main source of revenue is only because it’s the one thing they can sell enough of at a high enough price to survive. I personally don’t try to make a lot of money on permaculture but we do fairly well with on the ground workshops.  I can do this because I am not in permaculture for money; I have a business that pays my bills.  I do permaculture for the pure evangelistic zeal of spreading it.  Yet I do know how to run businesses, so if I were to quit my career as a Podcaster, how would I build a profitable permaculture business.  I would do something like this Install the best green and shade houses I could afford – plant business selling plants and cuttings Install a blow you away permaculture site on my own property – feeds the above and tours for a fee Save and market the shit out of seeds, specifically stuff that isn’t in every catalog – seed business Set up pasture based laying chickens and if possible meat birds – eggs sold to neighbors may be meat too I would run 6-8 large scale on the ground workshops a year, dirty hands stuff – student fees I would likely teach 2 PDCs a year at most, I would follow Bill Wilson’s model and do part online and on site. http://midwestpermaculture.com/about/our-certification-courses/ – Yes a solid income from PDCs I would however, really make my mark as a local consultant.  I would go to every botanical garden, nature center or arboretum in 100 miles of my home and learn every plant that can be grown in my area.   I would have meet up groups teaching basics like sheet mulching for free and for small fees in some instances.  I would find a local herbalist and become a local plants expert.  I would visit every place with a lawn where someone would talk to me and show them photos of what it could become.  I would never answer questions from people the way we do in a PDC with “it depends” rather with, do this or do that, or tell me more so I can answer that for you. The focus on PDCs as a gold standard for revenue, to me is a boat anchor because, while I wish every person on the planet would do it, it simply really isn’t for everyone.  A PDC is really quite demanding, it requires a very high level of thinking and like most educations; it is more about how to learn rather than what you learn.  When you leave a PDC one of two things happens.  You now have a way of thinking that leads to a lifetime of developing, teaching, designing but above all learning.  You have been converted into a student of permaculture forever.  A status you will never graduate from. You think to yourself something like, “none of my real questions about what to plant in my yard where answered with anything other than ‘it depends’, why did I pay 1,200 dollars for that”? You see, a PDC doesn’t actually make you to be a great designer; it gives you a foundation so you can become one.  A PDC is a gateway to a lifetime of study, research and gaining experience.  A permaculturist, if he or she is really good, is an architect of natural systems.  One doesn’t become an architect in a 72 hour course.  Many people take a PDC and sadly end up with feeling like option 2 versus option 1 above and I think, at least to a degree, it is because we oversell PDCs. I recently taught a course with a fellow teacher.  An individual with what I would call a Ferrari level permaculture education.  A teacher certified by the PRI as a teacher, a guy with almost every course you can take under his belt.  The man is brilliant in every way a permaculturist can be.  Yet, at the end of this class as students presented designs (this was not a PDC) he kept saying things like, “You did that design and you don’t even have a PDC”.  Frankly about 90% of the students had not taken a PDC before this class and my co-instructor was actually apprehensive about teaching a course as complex as we put together to people who had not yet taken a PDC.  Again, I think this is because we have over sold the PDC to even ourselves. I think there are two types of people that should take PDCs, they are People that want an actual career of some sort in permaculture and know exactly what they will and won’t get at a PDC. People that don’t want a career but know exactly what they will and won’t get at a PDC and still want to take one. Both should see PDCs as a foundation, not as a one-time event.  If you go to a good school to learn about self-defense with firearms, they will spend most of their time teaching you how to train on your own once you leave.  So it is with a PDC.  You are exposed to systems, designs, patterns, function stacking from concepts used all over the world; many will never apply to you directly.  Most of us will never develop a chinampa because we won’t have a location suitable for doing it.  Yet every PDC I have ever been part of has chinampas as part of the instruction.  The reason to me as it leads so many, “Well, what if I did _______” thoughts.  That is the point; the point isn’t to try to build a chinampa system in a Chicago suburb on a 10th of an acre or in a California desert where it just doesn’t fit.  The value in the knowledge of a chinampa, even if you never build one, is what elements of it you can stack into a more appropriate solution for a design’s needs and restrictions. This is the thinking one should go into a PDC with.  If not likely you won’t really get the most out of it.  Many people will be much better served to go to an intensive workshop about sheet mulching and urban back yard design that is tailored to where they live.  So guess what folks, sell that to them, deliver it and do a damn good job with it.  Teach them about 50 or more plants and show them how to catch roof water, don’t talk about it, do it, show it, and really teach it.  Show them how to get IBCs cheap, don’t just say it, show it.  Give people sources of materials and plants not just what stuff to use and buy.  Form relationships with suppliers; network the shit out of those relationships as well. My point is this.  In permaculture there are many vertical markets.  The top level educational market of PDCs and advanced earthworks, soils, urban design, long term internships, etc. is actually a very narrow vertical.  The larger markets are things like… Local demand for how to design my own back yard Seeds and plants Site level consulting Dozens more The truth is a lot of people in our world are broke because we are busy trying to sell something expensive to a group that is also often broke.  There are millions of people that want at least a piece of what we have to offer and many of them have money, lots of money.  Sell to them and sell them what they want and what they actually need.  If they don’t need a PDC, sell them what they do need. If you do that you might find that many will start buying. Conclusion Some may think I am overly harsh in this article.  I am sorry if anyone feels that way but I come at this with a very long track record of being successful in business.  I am not here to talk about mud fairies and rainbows.  I see permaculture as a solution to many of the most critical problems in our time.  I want as many on board with as much as they will get on board with as I can get.  The “hippy market” is small and mostly, not fully, but mostly broke.  I can’t get permaculture into 1,000,000 new back yards with that approach, and neither can you.  If we want the vast majority to get at least a little tuned in to permaculture we have to take it to them, in their language on their level. I will be doing a presentation on these concepts at Permaculture Voices in March of 2014. In my presentation I will lay out detailed plans for making Permaculture profitable and main stream.  If you would like to learn more about this conference where over 40 of Permaculture’s biggest names will be presenting, visit www.permaculturevoices.com

ModernSurvival

ModernSurvival

Brower Equipment Poultry Reel Feeder

One of my largest frustrations in starting our farming enterprise has been that of figuring out what equipment works and doesn’t work.  The wrong selection ends up costing you time, mental health and most importantly money.  And trust me, I’ve made my fair share of poor choices.  Anytime you can learn from someone who “has been there and done that”, make it your business to do so!  It will save you a lot of heartache in the end, and is quite frankly the reason this website even exists. In an attempt to save money, I have re-purposed, salvaged and built all kinds of equipment for the farm.  And yes, there are some designs out there to build poultry feeders using PVC that work pretty well.  My experience with them was that they allowed the birds to waste a lot of feed.  A lot of feed!  With that in mind, this is one area where spending some money makes a lot of sense to me.  That grain you are setting out each day costs way more money than a good functioning feeder that keeps the feed off of the ground, and where it belongs: in front of the birds so they can eat it and fatten up!  Such is the case with the Brower Equipment Reel Feeder for pastured poultry operations.  This is a piece of equipment that doesn’t really care if you are a homesteader or commercial producer, it will serve you well and is worth the cost. These feeders are molded, heavy duty plastic and work great for chickens on pasture aged 3 weeks up to maturity.  We also double purpose them and raise our Thanksgiving turkeys with them as well.  They don’t tip, they hold an enormous amount of grain and will take a beating.  Holding enough grain is something that is often overlooked when raising fast growing meat birds.  These birds are high octane sports cars, and if you don’t have adequate fuel in front of them they can stress out and really hurt your performance in a hurry.  And, the design really keeps the feed in the feeder and not on the ground so long as you don’t overfill them.  That simply is not the case with homemade PVC feeders that I have seen. As your birds grow, you also need lots of linear footage so that a good percentage of them can belly up to the bar at once.  The Brower feeders are 4′ or 5′ long respectively.  In our 120 square foot tractors, one feeder will suffice for the first week to ten days on pasture and a second one can be added after that through maturity.  These are well built and when I say they can take a beating, I mean it.  I have run over these with my 1/2 ton truck and had ice build up bust holes into them.  The darn things are so thick that you can literally just bolt or screw scab pieces of lumber or plastic onto them and repair them.  We have some really ugly looking Brower feeders here, but they are still doing there job and some of them are going into their 7th year of use! So is there any downside to this equipment?  Nothing is perfect and these feeders have two negatives, one of which is easily remedied but creates an additional problem.  The one physical flaw is how the handle is attached to the feeder itself.  A single, not terribly long, really small screw is provided to thread into the PVC cap on each end of the PVC handle to attach it to uprights on the feeder.  In practice, it’s good because it allows the “reel” feeder to do it’s job.  The handle will spin freely if a chicken attempts to roost on the handle (and they will), throwing them off so they can’t poop in the feed ruining it.  However, after a season or two of use and being moved each day out in the elements, the screws become loose and fall out.  I’ve taken to putting lag bolts in the end so the handles remain in place, but then they don’t spin as freely allowing the birds to roost more than I would prefer.  In time, I’ll figure out a better solution (or so I hope) but for now this is my one frustration with the design.  It works really well initially, but the guy who designed it doesn’t have to use it everyday until that part fails.  The second issue is simply cost.  A 48″ feeder will run you $60 plus shipping and a 60″ feeder $65 plus shipping.  But in my view, they are well worth the high expense.  Easy to move, easy to fill, holds a lot of feed and will give you years upon years of solid service. In the end, this is a great piece of equipment even with the two issues mentioned above and I highly recommend them.  To view the feeders and download a PDF brochure or instruction booklet, you can visit Brower Equipments website.  However, Brower doesn’t sell anything direct so you’ll have to order them from an authorized distributor.  Never fear, I have two resources for you to consider that I have personally used and had good success with!  My absolute favorite place in the world to buy equipment, laying hens, ducks, etc is Meyer Hatchery located in Ohio.  This is a GREAT family owned business that once ran through a wall for us to correct a problem on their end.  They carry both the 5′ long feeder and the 4′ long feeder.  Your other option is an outfit in Florida called Double R Supply, and they carry both feeders as well.  The pricing at each place is about the same, so use the one who can ship it to you less expensively.  These feeders are also easy to put together in just a few minutes with basic PVC primer and glue, and will be ready to use in no time at all after opening the box.   Good luck!

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Women, Wake Up!

Women....we are interesting creatures! You spend hours on your hair, makeup, outfit, shoes, purse selection and working out so you can look fabulous. You want your friends and loved ones to notice how great you look so they can compliment you because THAT fuels your inner female ego. However, when in public and a stranger notices and compliments you, every siren in your head goes off! This person must be a freak and you look for a way to get away from this weirdo. What if they kept coming at you and wouldn’t back off? Do you know what to do? You lead a busy life and you are exceptional at your multitasking ability. You can talk on the phone with a 40-pound bag over your shoulder while sipping your double chocolate skinny late’ and pick out a cheeky pair of shoes. This distraction and multitasking is exactly what lands you in trouble and makes you the likely target for a predator.  Research has proven a predator’s top fear is failure, so they are always looking for the victim that gives them the greatest chance for success. Think a violent encounter can’t happen to you? Tell that to the millions of victims who used to feel the same way. Seriously, really stop for a second and think about what you would do if you were attacked. Do you think you live in a safe city and don’t go to dangerous places, so violence CAN’T happen to you? DENIAL. As Lt. Col Dave Grossman says, “It’s a big…fluffy… white blanket that you pull over your head.” There is a good reason those fluffy blankets on beds are called “comforters”. Denial can comfort you for a short time, but it is a refusal to admit the truth.  The Truth? Crime has increased across the nation, and the fact that you are female increases your chance of an assault or rape. You are a prime target because you are smaller and weaker than most men and you haven’t been taught to fight.  Just because truth and reality are scary doesn’t mean you should avoid thinking about it. Don’t just pull the blanket over your head! It’s terrifying to hear the numbers of rapes in America and it’s not comforting to know the number of sex offenders living all around us. By the way, only the high-risk offenders are reported so there are many more out there than you think. In the depths of your primitive and instinctive mind there is a thought: “What if someday it would happen to me?” Yeah, it’s much easier to think about the good stuff and not prepare at all because the status quo is a piece of cake. Normalcy bias kicks in and you cling to it since it feels so safe to you. You don’t want to think about getting in a car accident, but you have seat belts and insurance, right? Think about the possibility that something bad may happen, visualize it, and use that fear to motivate you. Will you regret not having a plan? The pain of regret is far greater than the pain of discipline. It takes discipline to learn a new mindset that will increase your self-defense skill set and help you become empowered to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you need more motivation, know that the beneficial side effects of growth, learning, and accomplishment also makes you happier. The excellent news is that coming up with a plan to not be a victim is easy to learn. Shouldn’t your safety and survival plan be a top priority? It’s a hell of a lot easier than doing 100 pushups or taking a Barre fitness class (which will get you in excellent shape by the way). You have a strategy to get fit and a certain diet so you can eat right to stay healthy. You take your health and fitness needs seriously, but statistics show you must not take your safety for granted anymore. It is within you to survive from the moment you were born, but somewhere along the way, all the distractions of Twenty-First Century easy living have covered up this basic instinct. You like to look great, but what is not fashionable is looking good while being victimized and doing nothing about it. Physically strong and mentally prepared is the new skinny. So here you go! Take a risk and learn a skill that will empower you and potentially save your life. Get off the mediocre bus that you live on and step into the land of empowered and awesome. Live life with boldness and courage. Courage is not living without fear, but being able to act on your fears. Your life is your dream and don’t let someone turn it into a nightmare. If you physically survive a violent encounter, the emotional trauma that you will endure afterward will change your life. So, where do you start in developing a plan? Situational Awareness is a skill you need to add into your life because it is a necessary tool to help prevent you from becoming a victim. It is not something that just has you on guard looking out for bad guys, but it helps you recognize if someone is in trouble and needs your help. What about the old man choking on a piece of steak in the restaurant or the woman on crutches that can’t open a door? Are you so into yourself and your own life that you have forgotten how to help another human or even watch out for your safety? Situational Awareness is the awareness of people and things in your surroundings. You must be aware of everything 360 degrees around you. This skill keeps you from getting run over by a car when you step out to cross the street. It allows you to see what bad guy may be coming your way and give you the time to change your path or run for cover. Situational Awareness as a course of self-defense education was popularized by Colonel Jeff Cooper, although it’s always been an innate human skill (unless distraction covers it up). Cooper has a color-coding system to categorize the stages you can be in from complete perceived safety to a violent encounter. The first color of his system is white. “Condition White” is completely distracted, relaxed and unaware. This is the color that a predator looks for because you remind him of a sheep. No one is around to protect you and better yet, you look like you can’t protect yourself. The second level is “Condition Yellow” and this is a stage where you have an awareness of your surroundings at all times. You walk with purpose and have your head up scanning the area. You give direct eye contact and notice anything out of place. You will develop knowledge of what looks normal or what’s out of place. You will start to watch eyes, hands and body language of others in your surroundings. Body language is 90% of all communication so it is important to understand it. Learn to trust your gut and intuition! It is a gift from your ancestors that’s always there to be used for your survival and safety. Hopefully, the habit of Situational Awareness will keep you in Condition Yellow and not Condition White when you’re in public. The third color code is “Condition Orange” and this is when you have a heightened awareness because you have identified a possible threat. By now you have a plan, right? You need to put it in action! If you can, change your path, get away from the threat if possible, and ready the self-defense tactics that you know. The last color code is “Condition Red” and your action is imminent for your safety. You must react the correct way to the threat and you will likely only have three to five seconds to prevail in this critical incident. You’ll have to get past, “I wish this wasn’t happening to me!” real quick and unleash your training and hardware. Most self-defense instructors agree that the best fight is the one you are never in, so keep your awareness skills sharp and avoid any potential situations if at all possible. How do these situations unfold? As you now know, Predators look for an easy and distracted target. Be extra aware of people within 30-50 feet of you, this is the “Danger Zone”. Predators will test your reactions with a simple question such as asking for the time or directions. Because you have prepared, you’re ready for this test, and yes, the answer is to not be nice. Keep people out of your personal space and if someone starts to approach you, put your hand or hands out and say, “Stop, back off!” or “I can’t help you!” Be strong and assertive with your words and body language. The predator is likely to go to another target because your reaction indicates that you are a fighter and this is not what he wants.  In this day and age it is ok to say “No!” and get over trying to be helpful because the truth is that a stranger can get the time or directions in a store and they should not be encroaching on your personal space.  It is better to be thought of as paranoid and end up safe than it is easygoing and victimized. So instead of buying that next fancy outfit, ask yourself how you could invest in your personal self-defense plan and look at it as a life insurance policy. Be Safe! Be Empowered! And be LOADED with the skills and knowledge to defend yourself and your loved ones! THAT is something you won’t regret!

Beth Warford

Beth Warford

Keeping Honey Bees for Survival - The Stingless Honey Bee

Keeping Honey Bees for Survival Part 4 The Stingless Honey Bee This is a Trigona carbonaria stingless bee   The social stingless bee! Safe for kids and fascinating to watch, these bees produce a delicious tangy honey and are fabulous for Green house gardens. Due to the fact they are only found in the tropics or very hot climates, they will only do well in the native areas or in warm greenhouses. There are around 14 species are stingless bees. They have a queen, drones and many sterile worker bees, just like colonies of commercial honey bees do. However, unlike commercial honey bees, these bees do not sting. The number of bees in a stingless bee colony can range from a few dozen to over 100,000. Many species of stingless bees are small, black bees only 4-6 mm long, whilst commercial honey bees are about 12mm long and are yellow brown or dark brown to black in color. However, the largest stingless bee species, Melipona falvipennis, has workers slightly larger than a commercial honey bee worker. The bees store pollen and honey in large egg-shaped pots made of beeswax, typically mixed with various types of plant resin (sometimes called "propolis"). These pots are often arranged around a central set of horizontal brood combs, where the larval bees are housed. When the young worker bees emerge from their cells, they tend to remain inside the hive, performing different jobs. As workers age, they become guards or foragers. Unlike the larvae of honey bees, meliponine larvae are not fed directly. The pollen and nectar are placed in a cell, an egg is laid, and the cell is sealed until the adult bee emerges after pupation                                                                             The nest of stingless bees found in India                      A shoe box hive that is used for stingless bees                            What it looks like when opened               Stingless bees make small quantities of a delicious aromatic honey that is harvested by beekeepers in many parts of the world. Unlike a hive of commercial honey bees, which can produce 75 kilograms of honey a year, a hive of Australian stingless bees produces less than one kilogram. The stingless bee is mostly kept as a backyard pet or pollinator for greenhouse crops. The earliest records of keeping stingless bees come from the Maya people on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Their methods used to keep stingless bees today are essentially the same as those used over 2,000 years ago. “Australian Stingless Bees” by John Klumpp is a valuable handbook for anyone interested in keeping the little bees. I highly recommend reading it for any one that would like to have the little girls. These bees perform the important role of pollinating native plants, crops and garden flowers during their search for nectar and pollen. Methods have been developed for keeping these species in small wooden boxes, the size of a shoe box, and they can be used to pollinate crops of macadamias, strawberries, lychees, watermelons, mangoes and may greenhouse crops. Now you have your beehive, read your book, got bees and maybe have gotten stingless bees for your greenhouse. Bees do so many things and keep surprising us as humans. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at ABEEFriendlyCompany@gmail.com Or message me on FaceBook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Bee-Friendly-Company-Inc/147801815239144?ref=hl#!/pages/A-Bee-Friendly-Company-Inc/147801815239144. I would enjoy reading about your experiences and looking at photos of your work. Like I said I am a survivalist and love the outdoors and keeping bees will get you outdoors more. Like gardening, the work you put in makes great rewards. *Michael Jordan is the founder of A BEE Friendly Company (ABFC), based in Cheyenne, Wyo. Jordan often organizes courses at local clubs, fairs and schools with the hopes of renewing interest in the lost art. His goal is to teach the youth of the world the ease of beekeeping and help others see the how bees can save the world.*

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Is it the Cold or Flu- and a Look at Synthetic Verses Natural Antivirals

I was going to cover the influenza vaccination but after further consideration, I feel that subject deserves its own post. I will be writing on the influenza vaccination next week. Today I will be covering two prescription antivirals and one natural antiviral. The increasing drug resistance from bacteria and viruses is alarming.  We must start to think in a post pharmaceutical world. One where prevention and natural, proven methods which have not been found to mutate and develop drug resistance are found. As you will see, Elderberry extract is more effective than the other two antivirals. There are many more natural antivirals, but Elderberry has been extensively documented to relieve flu symptoms. I have provided a symptom checker- Is it a cold or the flu? Cold verses Flu Symptoms Symptoms Cold Flu Sore Throat X   Fever Mild- 100 or less Can be high- Up to 103 or more Congestion Sinus Drainage can be dark yellow Chest congestion Body Aches   X Duration Up to a week 1-2 weeks Complications Sinus infection, bronchitis Pneumonia, secondary bacterial infection When Contagious 1 day before symptoms until 4 days after onset   1 day before Symptoms until a week after onset-children can be contagious for up to 2 weeks after onset of symptoms Onset After Exposure Around 3 days 1-4 days   Relenza (Zanamivir), manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline is a prescription antiviral that is available in an inhalation powder. Relenza is for administration to the respiratory tract by oral inhalation only. The medication is delivered in a powdered form of milk and medicine in a disk haler. People with milk allergies should not use.  Relenza is also used as a prophylaxis (preventative) in community outbreaks. According to rxlist.com serious adverse events were surprisingly low compared to placebo. Patients with chronic pulmonary disease had adverse events described as asthma, cough or flu like symptoms occurred 7 out of 7 times. Bronchospasm in underlying airway disease is the most life threatening adverse event. There are many other side effects listed but are at the same level as placebo. Drug Resistance According to the Journal of Virology, 391 strains of H1N1 (I didn't know there were so many strains of just H1N1!) 9 strains or 2.3% were resistant to Relenza. Relenza Resistance Efficacy According to the package insert, Relenza decreases the duration of the flu, if taken properly by (only) one day. Relenza package insert Tamiflu (oseltamivir), manufactured by Roche is an antiviral medication also used to shorten the duration of the flu. It is taken in pill form.Tamiflu is also used as a prophylaxis (preventative) in community outbreaks.  The most common adverse reactions are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If taking Coumadin (warfarin) dosage of Coumadin may need to be adjusted. Post marketing (observed but not scientific) reported by population is extensive. and worth mentioning. Swelling of face, tongue, anaphylactic (allergic) reaction, delirium, delusions, hallucinations, gastrointestinal bleeding are just a few. Tamiflu package insert Drug Resistance According to the CDC, in one study, 27% of people were found to be resistant to Tamiflu who had H1N1 virus.Tamiflu resistance Efficacy According to FDA paper, Tamiflu reduces symptoms of flu by (only) 1.3 days. Tamiflu symptom reduction Elderberry Extract (Sambucol brand) Elderberry (Sambucus) extract, under the standardized label of Sambucol, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. The black elderberry is found in warmer parts of Europe and North America. The flowers and berries are used in making the extract. According to Pubmed -Sambucus nigra L. products - Sambucol - are based on a standardized black elderberry extract. They are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.   Cytokine storms are when our immune system kicks into overdrive and congests the lungs. There has been concern that elderberry extract can cause a cytokine storm since it stimulates the immune system. According to literature found on Sambucols website, this cannot happen. Sambucol does not cause cytokine storm Drug resistance There is no known drug resistance to elderberry extract. Care must be taken when one is on a diuretic since elderberry has a mild diuretic effect. Efficacy According to Pubmed- A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the SAM-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days (p < 0.001). A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001)- Remember, the flu can last up to two weeks. Efficacy of Elderberry Conclusion There is increasing drug resistance to the antivirals Tamiflu and Relenza. There has not been any found in Elderberry extract (Sambucol) Elderberry extract decreases the flu symptoms by up to 4 days, the others decrease symptoms by 1- 1.3 days. Elderberry (Sambucol) is not a prescription. The others are.  Any antiviral must be started as soon as the onset of symptoms is noted- see above chart- in order for them to be effective. There are many other things you can do if you or a loved one gets the flu. Stay hydrated. Make sure your urine is very light colored to clear to maintain hydration. Only take fever reducers if high temperature (over 103) since a fever is your immune systems way of combating the virus. Do not take aspirin products due to a rare syndrome called Reyes that can develop, especially in children. Use Tylenol or ibuprofen. Use elderberry extract at soon as onset of symptoms appear. I have a salt pipe (I found mine on Amazon) that relieves sinus and chest congestion. I love it, so does my husband! Eucalyptus oil is wonderful to put in either a pot of water and make a towel tent and inhale or put in bathwater. Chicken soup or broth works also. Make sure to continue to take your Vitamin D. I like the small packets of Emergen-C for my Vitamin C when I am sick. It has trace electrolytes. Rose hip tea is also excellent source of vitamin C with bioflavinoids. Almost any tea is soothing when you have the flu- Chamomile, peppermint, green, ginger peach are very nice. Mullein tea is an excellent antiviral and expectorant (helps body expel mucus) Oil of Oregano also is a powerful antiviral with many uses beyond the flu. It takes a few weeks to truly get over the flu. Be sure to rest as much as possible. If you are immune compromised or otherwise compromised (heart or lung disease) or are pregnant, unable to breathe after using treatments or have a child under the age of 4 that has a fever and respiratory difficulties, seek medical attention immediately. The flu is not something to mess with.

Brooke Lounsbury

Brooke Lounsbury

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    • Thank you for your service and your fighting spirit! I'm an army brat and know what it's like to have a father in Croatia doing what he needs to do to keep his troops and his family safe.
    • I didn't find the OP as negative. Shared/mutual feelings definitely! I was on a great path and able to GSD in lots of areas. Prepping was never a new idea to me. My family had always done it and we just didn't have a name for it. Having stores of supplies, rotating stock, and long term thinking were just the way to do things. The MAG was my family - uncles, cousins, and neighbors. However, the loss of my grandfather saw that come to an end through some internal disagreements, and errant children (my generation). I've been trying to put those pieces back together for the last several years as one of the "older" kids that saw and really experienced what we used to be. One or two were coming back to the fold and then off to AFG I went.       Simple things that I was on task with went out the window - ground prep for my current bugout and future home property, maintaining ever increasing stores of food, teaching and experiencing things with my kids as they grow up, etc. I was REALLY off track at first. I had a radical change in location (from NM to DC to AFG)) and total loss of access to my previous resources. As I slowly get back to that state (puns abound), I have worked on other areas - I learned a new language (1+ in Dari), I'm still practicing my gardening (underneath my bunk here in AFG) and teaching those skills to my Afghan counterparts. Scrounging around the base looking for items to build a garden plot has been interesting, Teaching (very trying in a new language) has been reinforcing my own understanding of topics and I keep adding to the plans and outlining what I need to get done. Although most of it is on paper, I am regaining focus and the plan continues to solidify. The greatest frustration is the loss of time with the ground prep - it COULD have been building more resilient soil and base infrastructure if I had only two more months before I left (in 2015) and I would be returning to a somewhat thriving base. Although, I don't feel overly angry about it because I was pushing the envelope then and know it wasn't because I was BSing and just didn't get it done.      It is tough to keep the frustration from getting in the way, but groups like this here and Jack's podcast have been invaluable to keeping the focus. It did help to hear that I'm not the only one. It does help to hear that others are getting through it and the ways we are all doing so. Fortunately, living a better way "if things get tough or even if they don't" resonates deeply with me. Understanding that things can be executed incrementally has taken the greater stress off of not getting something done as long as I can keep chipping away at the overall plan. The greater my self reliance becomes, the greater I feel. It's also a driving factor in working with others to get them to experience the same personal relief when you have "x" level of preps. An extra pack of batteries, week of food, proper tools in the car, skill set to do something themselves, etc has shown the light for lots of friends and served as building blocks for their lives as well. Josiah's (and many others) efforts (and sacrifices) aren't going unnoticed. I greatly appreciate those efforts and look forward to contributing to group.
    • I am finding myself slacking with my preps trying to get ThriveThrough going so that others can find each other, build MAG's, and advance their preps. Hopefully, this will pay off and many more people will be prepared. Then I can get back to advancing my preps further than I currently am. 
    • I'm going to do this with 1 or 2 x 6 this year. Had to do a lot of diging to find em last year. Check out my club for more pictures!
    • Thank you, ProtectorCdn! I can imagine the work put in on those beds. I'm jealous about the beach 😀 All the best in health and possibilities.  
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