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Everyone thinks their prepared for a day without power; What about 3 days on a homestead? We lost power in the mourning that was hot and just after a heat wave.
I wake up in the afternoon after getting home from the night shift. The power was out and our preps were being tested. I had bought water that mourning so that saved us from the fact the well wasn't working. The money was in the bank so thank goodness the Internet worked and it wasn't EMP. Wife said we couldn't make dinner. Stove was out and so was the propane and we were on a fire ban to boot. I remembered about the two butane stoves and lots of butane I had put away just in case. So we did have a nice stir fry that night.
My son left the fridge open a crack so the temperature in the fridge was going down fast. I put 4ltrs of frozen bags of milk to put it back up. We didn't put blankets on the appliances as we thought it was going to last a few mins like all the other outtages.
I looked at my 2600 Sq ft garden and dreaded hauling that much water from the creek to water it on top of the greenhouse. We only had one waterer but I would use my food grade buckets so I'd be ok. I went to look to see how the creek was fairing. Bone dry! I'd be ok for one day but I'd be hauling water in my old SUV a km away if it didn't come back by tommorow. It would take hours on end to get the job done
I was playing chess with my boy when the power came back on. Kids rushed for the Internet without ever knowing how close we were from buying a generator to keep everything cold and hauling water till we were blue in the face.
My prepper friend talked about getting an inverter for my SUV and I remembered I had one already. Untested; new in the box. I'll have to try it before I get caught again. A trick for someone with a small inverter is to connect a smaller car to a bigger car with booster cables and then connecting the inverter to get larger appliances going. We have all metal roofing but no rain catchment. Another project that got put aside when life took over. No gas, money, propane and very little reserves. It was now clear we needed an active MAG and pond as well more than ever.
I was happy for the lesson and realized that a prepper quickly becomes a sheeple without his preps and community! I hope you learn from my mistakes so you don't get stuck in this lucky situation or much much worse.
Stay safe by being prepared!
Do you have a situation that tested your preparations?
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That's my great grandfather's barn. Must be over 50yrs old and straight as when it was first built. He helped enough others and built enough community to get this feat done. His kids and even great-grandchildren see this barn and know anything is possible. If he could build this with horses. There are no excuses for any of us.
That is one of the stories I'm going to outline below. I'm going to outline how they influence me and push me to create my own legacy. Fight for my families and communities future.
My great grandfather gave the farm and all its equipment to his oldest my grandfather. Farms were a way to stay in poverty back then so he refused it and worked in logging and later on the local mine. The land is still in the distant family but it doesn't feel the same and my father that spent his summers helping on that same farm when my great uncle had it never got to live his dream of being a farmer as the price of land and high paying jobs were rare with so many baby boomers in the workforce. Nowadays companies fight to hire you and even train you.
The 200 acres were cleared which was a small miracle and the land gave us a base we could stand on to fight for our futures. When the land left the immediate family circle so did much of our base. Unstable I know the only solution is to create a new base that satisfies Maslow's law so my family can fight on and be the change they want to see in the world.
My other great grandfather was so early on in his area the priest stayed in his home because there was no church. They had a surface well in his large hill that fed to himself and his two neighbors through pipes into basins. This water was cold all summer and he kept his beer and dandelion wine (more like 100 proof hard liquor) cold. They would have road parties and many times Ppl had to be outside for lack of room. Ppl stuck together because they survived and played together.
Once some adolescents were picking on great grandfather an older man at that point. He took them all head on. He lost but later on, the kids returned to say they were sorry not only because they were shunned but out of sheer respect for who he was.
My great uncles were doing cordwood on their own by 10yrs old. Their father would come by and rip the cord down is it was stacked properly. They told him they could process the wood themselves now. It seems like a bad thing but hardship makes that family really close even now. My great uncle's kids are the same.
My great-grandmother used to let them bring whole loaves of bread and butter/ jam to their room to eat. God help them if they wasted on drop though. They respected food and keep stocked pantries/ freezers to this day.
Another great uncle made bread with his wife and always had family over to eat. You always made room and made you feel like royalty. Another tight-knit family and great memories. They never asked but we would do anything we could to help them.
Another great uncle owned a lot of rentals around the small city. Gave a duplex to one daughter and a house to the other. They never had great jobs but only having taxes utilities and some repairs to pay kept them living worry free and close to each other.
My buddies in-laws had a similar story; They gave their house to their daughter and they built an addition for the grandfather. Now they sold the over 300,000 duplex for $50,000. They remodeled the grandfather's half and my buddy lives worry free and they share the work/ expenses giving them all easy living. The same grandfather always had a cow for meat that he processed himself. They only had one acre so he trained the cow, Loved it. He cut the ditches by hand and fed them to his cow. The cow followed him like a dog. They loved each other. Fall came and the man killed his friend so his family could eat but he's never very hungry those nights.
My buddy bought one home for his son and one day another for his daughter to get them started in life. He also runs a car financing business to free himself from his cleaning job to give his family a start like his parents did. His did have a bond you needed to buy cars at the auction and then got his business going until he could get his own bond. You need 100,000 in equity or $ to get a bond so his dad made his hard work possible and the business is well on its way to securing his families future and investments.
My father's grandfather sold his duplex by owner financing and got payments of 16 years helping them greatly. My grandmother picked blueberries for a summer and paid for her first glasses.
My mum's grandfather's father died working 24 hours shifts on a street sweeper. My grandfather had to fish in a leaky boat or his 12 siblings had nothing to eat. Potato peel soup was on the menu. Living in the city; the could grow only limited food and the depression hit them hard. He retired with 3 pensions and over 40yrs of hard work in his 70's. He was in ww2 and went from nothing to $600,000. One kid made smart investments with their half and the other used the $ to get over a divorce. The grandfather was a fighter and solved problems on the base. An MP wanted to date my mum and changed his mind when he found out who her father was. MP or not he was sure he was going to die if he hurt my mum. He was at a mess dinner before going to the Koren war in the states. A general started making fun of French "frogs". My grandfather knocked him out with one hit. He was sent home but I'm sure the general though before insulting his fellow officers again.
All this was nothing compared to how they helped his family that he had now become the sudo father of. He sent his whole pay home during the war and half after he got married till my uncle was 8yrs old. Only at the point my mum was born did they stop sending the money. No other of the 12 kids did the same. Nor did he care. His younger brother even lived with them for years to help ease the burden on his mum. He got a small inheritance from his mum when she died but he gave away his share to the others that needed it more than him. His brother-in-law beat his sister but he never found out. They knew he would have killed him. So they saved home from jail. They wanted to pay for my mums university but she wanted adventure. Joined the army met my dad and fought to survive the poverty wages they had back then. My dad had three jobs and my mum always did all of her work even though the army and public service never paid overtime. She later at 40 got the top of class and became a correctional officer. Beating out all those kids in strength/ will and writing skills in both official languages. My parents owned half a cafe that also lived off the bread sales the partners made and my dad also helped make prior to getting the business. My dad upped the cafe side 100% and I worked for free for three months most nights to help get the business started. The business was doing well. Until the partners decided to sell the bread at every location of the major grocery store in the region. Ppl did one stop shopping. Along with my brother stealing from the money bag. They went under. I gave them all my money from my three jobs without them knowing by using her bankbook. Onetime working 25hrs in a row to help my employers. $1600 but with the brother having access to their account he took all their money including the line of credit and put them under. They had to borrow money from the grandfather or risk their son or them going to jail for not paying the money he stole from the business.
We all continued to help my brother and younger brother but it was good money after bad. We were all raised the same. They seemed to only come by when they needed something. I worked 20 shifts every two weeks for over two years or 160hrs including lunches. I had two parental leaves so this saved me. But you have to be smart. We bought a duplex for 92,000 and sold it for 161,000. The first 100 acres we bought had an old house; 100 acres, grandfathered septic and 20,000 well. The 100 acres was worth at least 30,000 so it was like the old house was free. The old sellers lied when I asked if the roof leaked. I knew nothing about construction and had no experienced help. We fixed the inside the best we could and didn't have enough money to do the outside. We fought for another 6 yrs but we had to give back the house and we used the profit from the other house to pay for the repairs. We should have had it inspected and got experienced help. My wife stayed home and made my overtime possible with 4 kids. Makes most things from scratch and takes care of the animals and the gardens/ greenhouse. I help but she works harder than I do.
Hopefully, you found this interesting and can use my histories and those of my friend to learn from their successes and mistakes.
All the heroes in my story worked incredibly hard for their families. Sometimes for legacy and sometimes for not. Only help Ppl that work very hard to improve their lives.
- Only help Ppl they work incredibly hard and return that help.
- Somebody's got to sacrifice themselves so the next generations can do well.
-. Work smart and live longer. One good business is better than three jobs.
- having a base grounds families and keeps them together
- Trust must be earned
- owning a business and working hard can lead to success.
- even poor Ppl saving and working hard can be successful.
- some people aren't ready to be helped
- spend more time with your family. Time flies like you wouldn't believe
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Re: what's happening with prepping
PostSun May 27, 2018 1:26 am
People feel alone even in some groups. Almost every prepper I know only has one true prepper in the family. Most "groups" prep separately as well like Denob was saying. Something to the tune of making agreements.
All this means is everyone preps alone and family/ friends/ work and the need for leisure get in the way. People could do things 10 X faster as a community/ MAG But most only have 2 weeks vacation and fight so hard just to survive that driving hours to see someone you nearly know and actually work hard GSD for something that most likely won't last is just not worth it.
So people do what they can alone and don't worry of the odd chance TEOTWAWKI might happen. Prepping is always something to be redone and improved. Then SHTF happens like a job slow down/ illness and you actually use your preps. Food/ water storage goes down, wood gets sold to help someone, car gets old, house needs repairs, other aspects of prepping seem more important and take your time.
Your ashamed of your current state of prepping and hide it. If people meet. They'll meet in restaurants or some brave souls house that's up to date with his prepping. I've even seen cases where we're over for a meeting and they say their preppers but show nothing of prepping besides a gun and a whole lot of talking.
I was mostly speaking of myself for the prepping and life on a homestead is amazing and exhaustive. I find myself making time in lue of sleep for family life. Attitude sucks when I'm exhausted which seems to happen a lot lately. Sometimes a brave face and the will to GSD Just don't seem to be enough. I'm always hopeful that one day I'll be in the group that actually physically helps eachother with time or money. You really just want a brother in arms to fight with you.; and you him. But you'll take anything you can get.
We can get through 3-6 months but would have no pleasure doing so. I prep so my family/ friends don't suffer in an emergency situation but I'm failing as of late. Everyone's busy playing real life monopoly or " living for today". Working overtime/ activities 4 days a week/ do less overtime and get more done but no money to continue advancing. Your community needs you. So you volunteer/ help friends. Sleep is little or non existent. Kids say your never home/ don't have time.
I knew this was going to be a negative post but I want you guys to know your not alone!
Time to Maximize efficiency and especially those mornings/ evenings I'm off with no activities for the kids. No sacrifice! No victory!
Because we will be discussing a lot of philosophy on this column, I thought maybe it might be kind of interesting to go through a definition of philosophy and talk about some of the basic concepts behind philosophy, so that at least you have some understanding of the approach that I take when it comes to discussing philosophical questions, and see if it’s worthwhile or something that you would like to incorporate into your life: the study of wisdom, or knowledge, or truth, or reality, or ethics, and so on.
So I’ve Googled the definition of philosophy, and there’s quite a number of them. Let’s go over a few, and then we can see where it fits with the approach we take at Philosophers Table.
Definitions of philosophy on the Web include such things as:Quote
Philosophy is a doctrine, a belief, or system of beliefs accepted as authoritative by some school or group.
The rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics.
I quite like that one. This one I don’t like so much:Quote
Any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation.
The quotes here are:Quote
“Self-indulgence was his only philosophy,”
“My father’s philosophy of child-rearing was to let mother do it.”
The term philosophy derives from the Greek philos, meaning love, and sophia, meaning wisdom; so, lover of wisdom. What philosophy is or should be is itself a philosophical question that philosophers have treated differently throughout the ages.
And another definition,Quote
The study of truths about reality; the search for wisdom.
And another one — this is from Merriam’s:Quote
The love, study or pursuit of wisdom or knowledge of things and their causes, whether theoretical or practical; the study of all Wisdom at the source and of all Principle as Creation.
Now we start to get into capitals a little bit towards the end there, and my experience has been that whenever you start to get capitals — like “Wisdom” is capitalized and “Principle as Creation” is capitalized — that you are drifting into a noumenal Platonic realm, or basically the realm of ideals, which is not what I deal with in terms of philosophy.
Another definition is,Quote
The study of seeking knowledge and wisdom, and understanding the nature of the universe, man, ethics, art, love, purpose, etc.
Nice, but “study,” to me is a little bit vague. And here is another one:Quote
The objects of philosophy are upon the whole the same as those of religion; in both, the object of truth in that supreme sense in which God and God only is truth.
Well, I would disagree with that with an energy and an emphasis that I could scarcely express here without launching into a series of acrobatics (because, you know, they’d be so fast and ninja-like).
There’s a number of other ones that I think are quite interesting. Basically, the idea behind philosophy is that there is a capacity for error within the human mind, and because of this, we need a science, or a set of logical propositions, that are going to help rescue us from error.
The first thing to understand when it comes to looking at something like philosophy is that there has to be capacity for error; otherwise, there’s no need for anything corrective. If you think about something like the science of nutrition: we have the capacity to eat poorly (and having come back from an all-inclusive vacation, I can certainly attest that that is, on occasion, a vice of mine as well). So we all have the capacity to eat poorly, and therefore we need a science or a discipline or a methodology for determining how to eat well. We have no capacity to eat poorly, there would be none. Plants don’t have a science of nutrition, because they grow towards sunlight, do their photosynthesis, and live that way; they can’t exactly be tempted by a chocolate éclair, say.
You have to have a capacity for a deviation from an ideal or a perfect state, and because you have a capacity to deviate from it, you need a set of principles by which you can judge your actions and, hopefully, develop them into good habits. The idea behind nutrition is not to get you to forego all pleasurable eating in life and live on water-crests and vitamin pills (actually, that would be bad nutrition, too), but it is to attempt to get you to understand the consequences of your actions, so that you can make more informed decisions about how you want to eat. You can hopefully strike a balance and find some good way of eating, and so on.
A nutritionist will also tell you that eating well is eating a variety; it’s okay to eat a piece of cheesecake or go to McDonald’s once in a while, but good diet combined with exercise and water intake is all related to health, which brings us to another topic that’s related to the topic of philosophy: the philosophy of medicine. There is an ideal state of human health which is never achieved. In the same way that you can’t eat perfectly, you can’t achieve perfect health; we all have viruses running through us, maybe we get a bad night’s sleep, we’ve got a headache, we stubbed our toe, or have some sort of negative consequences going on.
The science of medicine is related in two areas:
The realm of prevention, which is somewhat related to nutrition. That is designed to help you avoid ending up with particularly difficult situations from a medical standpoint. For instance, if you eat too much sugar and don’t exercise and don’t take care of yourself, then your odds of developing diabetes go up quite considerably. Medicine — and this is more in conjunction with nutrition and exercise — has a good deal to say about how to prevent diabetes from coming into being. However, if you end up getting diabetes, then medicine also has something useful to say about how to manage the symptoms, about how to take your insulin, how to do all these things so you don’t end up dying, losing a limb, losing your eyesight, whatever it is, from the problem of diabetes.
- Prevention is one aspect of it, and
- Cure is another aspect of it.
If we look at these disciplines, then we can say that there is a right way to do things and there’s a wrong way to do things. There’s no perfect, optimal, under all situations way to do things, but just because there’s no such thing as perfect health doesn’t mean that there’s no difference between somebody that’s got a mild cold and somebody who’s dying of cancer.
To use another metaphor, there is salt water in the sea, and there is freshwater in a lake. The freshwater in a lake has a small amount of salt, minerals, impurities in it, and the salt water in the sea has an enormous amount of those things. So while there are differences of degree, in terms of more salt and less salt, it’s still far better to drink lake water than it is to drink sea water. I want to explain that, just because there’s gray areas — like no lake water is perfectly pure, and no, it’s not like sea water is a solid block of minerals and salt — just because there are differences of degree between seawater and freshwater doesn’t mean that there’s fundamentally no difference between them. They’re not just differences of degree from that standpoint.
So while none of us is perfectly healthy — even though I do have viruses and bacteria in my intestines and all that kind of stuff — there is a huge degree of difference between myself, standing here before you in a relatively healthy state (I have no head cold, I haven’t stubbed my toe, I’m feeling good, had a good night’s sleep) and somebody dying of cancer in the same way that there’s a difference in kind, not just in degree, in the potability or the drinkability of seawater as opposed to lake water. Even though lake water contains minerals and seawater contains H2O, which you can drink, there’s still a very large difference between those two states.
When we start thinking about philosophy, relating it to these other fields that we’ve been talking about, I think it’s useful to understand that there is an ideal state in philosophy. We could call it virtue, knowledge, wisdom, or whatever. We’ll not get into the definition of that, but I want to talk about the framework of how philosophy works, why it’s important, why it’s relevant, and why it’s, I would say, absolutely necessary to the pursuit of happiness, joy, efficacy, fulfillment, and all the good things in life.
The human mind has the capacity for error in the same way that the human body has the capacity for error in terms of the furtherance of life. We could say that — a stroke, a heart attack, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or AIDS, or whatever — these physical conditions within the body are deviations from the ideal state of health and the furtherance of life. When we talk about health, there’s an ideal state and there are deviations from it which are correctable.
For instance, when we see somebody who’s 95 years old, obviously they’re not going to be leaping up, taking the stairs two at a time; they’re gonna be laboring up or maybe using stair lifts. We would not say that the 95-year-old person is “not well” because they can’t bound the steps up two at a time; however, a relatively fit, or at least not overweight, 15-year-old boy should be able to leap up the stairs two at a time, and if that boy cannot, then we have some idea that there’s a problem, a deviation. Where correction is possible, then nutrition, philosophy, and medicine are valid sciences, valid approaches to this problem.
To take an extreme example, if you had some sort of ailment that we could only, perhaps, hope to get, where your body changed its metabolic, physiological structure in some manner that eating cookies, ice cream, chocolate, éclairs, all those goodies, that that was the only food on which you could survive. If that were the case, then the science of nutrition would not be useful. If there were only 5 things you could eat, and you wanted to eat them all (they tasted good), then the science of nutrition would not be that helpful.
Similarly, we can’t correct something like aging; we can ameliorate some of its causes, but for sure by the time we get to 110, 120, we’re gonna be dead. Somebody who’s 95 has a different standard of health from somebody who’s 15. The 15-year-old should be able to run around, run up the stairs and so on; we don’t expect that from the 95-year-old, but we would not say that the 95-year-old who can’t bound up the stairs two at a time “is really seriously ill;” we’d just say, “Well, they’re getting really old.”
There’s as yet no medical correction for the "problem" of aging, look at me using some un-hyperboles. Where there is no correction possible, there is no ideal state from which there is a deviation. We say some people age well, some people age badly; some people can play tennis into their 80s, some people are unfit and unhealthy by the time they’re 40 or 50, so there are differences of degrees. But the fundamental deterioration that occurs when we age is not something that can be corrected at the moment by medical science; it can be sort of managed, and the effects can be alleviated, but getting old is not the same as getting sick.
The reason that I’m pointing this out is that we do need to have a standard that we try to achieve as conceptual or cognizant or intellectual beings in the realm of philosophy. There’s a deviation from that standard, and the solutions are not always obvious. Obvious solutions don’t necessarily require a whole lot of information. You don’t need, probably, a nutritionist to tell you that if you’re thirsty, you should drink something; your body’s going to say that to you. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that if you put your hand (if you don’t have leprosy, or something which has numbed your extremities) in a fire, you should pull it out. You don’t leave it in the fire and go, “(sniff) Hmm, now I’m getting hungry,” then call 9-1-1 when your hand falls off, because there’s an obvious solution that’s sort of baked into our physiological nature to deal with those kinds of issues (around: pull your hand back; if you stub your toe, go down and rub it; if you sprain your ankle, you may not need a doctor to tell you not to put a lot of weight on that ankle, because it’s going to hurt you if you do).
There’s a couple of things which I’m talking about here which combine to make philosophy a very interesting science that, relative to other sciences, shouldn’t be overly baffling. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of bafflement in philosophy, but that’s for a variety of reasons we may get into today, depending on my stamina and concentration.
I wanted to point out there’s an ideal state, there are deviations from the ideal state, there are sciences, logic, and approaches which can close the ideal state from the non-ideal state, and that the solutions are non-obvious. Getting on a stairmaster (I don’t know about you, maybe you love it)… I go to the gym and do these kinds of things because they are good for me, not because I get this huge — and I know, you get runner’s high and endorphins — but for me, exercise is a little bit of a chore. Not like playing badminton and stuff, but you know, doing weights and stuff like that.
So if you merely went by your physical feedback mechanisms, your neuropsychological bio-feedback mechanisms, you’d sit around eating cheesecake and wouldn’t go to the gym. Based on our biology, there’s just no way that broccoli is ever going to taste as good as a chocolate bar. The natural impulses that we have would be towards eating sweet and fat things. Obviously, we developed those things because those things are essential for life, but a rarity, and so we needed to have a higher motivation to go and get them; you can’t live on lettuce and tomatoes, you need fat and sugar. So we had strong biochemical receptors, indicators, and feedback mechanisms to get us to pursue those things during the time of our evolutionary development. Now, of course, they’re overly plentiful, and all these problems, but fundamentally, the solution that a nutritionist has to come up with is sort of non-intuitive. When the doctor says, “You need to eat more salads. You need to eat less fat, less sugar, and you need to exercise more,” that’s kind of counter-intuitive because our biological feedback mechanism leads us toward the dessert tray and then the couch. There are certain non-intuitive things that you need to do in the realm of prevention or self-care, self-maintenance, that are important to know about, because if you just follow your indicators, then you’re not going to have much luck achieving your goals if your goals are health and that kind of stuff.
Philosophy also fits into that as well. A lot of things in life are not necessarily intuitive, and yet, if you pursue them, they can be very beneficial and very helpful for you in terms of achieving and maintaining happiness in the world, and having a rich life full of love, joy, intimacy, and all that kind of juicy stuff. Some of that stuff for sure falls into the realm of psychology, which is a subset of philosophy, as all human knowledge really is.
What you want to do when you’re starting to understand how human beings acquire knowledge, and why, and what the purpose is, and so on, is to recognize that there are lots of truths about the world that are not intuitive, but nonetheless are very true. Some trivial (I guess not if you’re an astronaut) examples are things like: the world looks flat, but it’s actually not. The sun and the moon look about the same size, but they’re not at all the same size. When you look at the night sky, and you trace the movement of the stars, it looks like the stars are spinning around the earth; we feel like we are not in motion, but of course, that’s not the case. The idea that they had in the Middle Ages that the stars were holes poked in a black bowl that rolled around the earth: obviously not quite so true. When you see an eclipse, it’s clear that the moon and the sun are like the size of a dime held at arm’s length; when you see an eclipse, it looks like the moon covers the sun almost completely. That’s because the sun is 93 million miles away, the moon is a quarter million miles away, and so it’s the disparity in the distance that creates the illusion that they’re the same size. We have some truths there, for instance, that are not intuitive.
Human beings do have the capacity for error. When we talk about having a capacity for error, the question is, “In relation to what?” This is the fundamental thing. When we talk about health, we want longevity, vitality, energy, and an absence of pain; that’s sort of the general idea behind health. So we know that we’re deviating from an ideal state whenever we experience pain, when our vitality decreases, our energy, our ability to draw breath, whatever it is, begins to decline within us. Similarly, in nutrition, if we begin to gain weight, or we get diabetes, then we know that we are deviating from an ideal state.
The question is, in philosophy, “What is the ideal state, and how do we know that we’ve deviated from it?” In other words, “What is the truth and how do we know the deviation from it?”
Well, if we look at our good friends, the physical scientists (and biologists, to some degree, but I’ll stay with physics for the moment), then we can see that there is an ideal state.
Truth is something that lives within us; there’s no truth in the exterior world. You don’t kick a rock and it uproots a big sprig of truth, or something; truth doesn’t rain from the sky in driblets. Truth is the correlation between internal ideas and external reality. We’re just talking about the scientific method at the moment; we’ll get to philosophy in just a moment.
We’re saying a bunch of things when we say that something is true. We obviously have to say that there’s the capacity for it not to be true because otherwise, there’s no point… nothing to say that there is true or false. Saying that something is true is not a subjective statement. One of the differences between truth and opinion is that truth has external validation. Again, we’re just talking about the scientific method for the most part here. What goes on in science, also very accurate, useful in what goes on in philosophy as well.
When we say something is true, we’re saying that there is a mental concept or thesis. The way that it works in science is that, if I say that objects fall from the sky at 9.8 m/s/s (that’s their acceleration), then that’s a proposition; I put forward a proposition that says that. Einstein puts them forward, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Hawking; all of these people put forward propositions. The proposition is, something falls down from the sky 9.8 m/s/s is the acceleration of it, absent things like atmospheric interference, and so on. So that’s a proposition. It’s not true. You could say it’s true that I put forward a proposition, but it’s not that the proposition has been proven true just by saying it. What you have to measure the proposition against in the scientific world is external, tangible reality. This is very important when it comes to thinking about science, and of course, as we’ll get to in a moment (or maybe we will, maybe we won’t), human conflict.
So if I put forward this thesis, then what has to happen is, somebody (me, maybe) has to go and measure this to actually find out whether my idea corresponds with the behavior of matter in the real world, in the world external to consciousness; it’s not the consciousness, which is not part of the real world, and is biochemical, neurological, and there’s nothing mystical about it (certainly there’s nothing proved about the soul or anything like that). We’ll just talk about the mind being part of reality from an electrical, chemical kind of energy way.
I put forward a proposition, then that proposition has to be validated in the real world. The way that we validate a proposition in the scientific realm is, we test it. Simple as that. We test it, and we do a statistical analysis on variation. The tests are never going to be perfect; they just have to be close enough (9.8 m/s/s, you could probably go to 500 decimal places and it still not be perfectly correct, and then maybe it’s windy, or this or that, so again, we’re back in the realm where there are certain amounts of gray areas right at the core of things. Only in mathematics can you say 2+2=4 and have it be perfectly true; you put 2 and 2 oranges together, and they’re different shapes, weights, sizes, but when you put 2 and 2 of them together, you still have 4 oranges, even though you don’t have a perfect reproduced set of 4. We’ll get into all of that another time). Again, just because there are gray areas right down to the core of things doesn’t mean that there’s no difference between truth and falsehood. This is very important to understand. If I offer you seawater versus lake water to drink, even though lake water is not pure, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll still choose to drink the lake water, unless you want to be sick or something.
From that standpoint, we then take a proposition in the scientific realm, and we attempt to reproduce it through physical experimentation. It has to be reproducible, it can’t be necessarily location-dependent, it can’t be time-dependent. Because we’re dealing with physical reality, which has objective and universal laws, you can’t say, “In Norway, it’s 9.8, and in Iceland, it’s 2.2, and things don’t even fall down in Thailand!” We have to have some methodology by which we compare our ideas to external, physical, tangible reality, in order to validate them.
When we say something is true, what we’re saying is that it’s either logical (logic is a complicated topic, which we’ll get to another time)… When you’re dealing with a theory in mathematics, you don’t necessarily have to produce the things that you’re talking about in the real world. Mathematics is a certain kind of logic that requires independent verification, fact-checking, logic-checking and so on, but it doesn’t require physical experiments in the same way that physics does, wherein you have to go and measure how fast the ball falls down.
When we have a proposition or an idea within our mind, we have the capacity for error. Very fundamental. Earth looks flat, sun and moon look the same size, and so on. Then what we need to do is compare the ideas that we have and the predictability of those ideas, to what actually happens in the real world, and that’s how we determine whether something is true or false.
The question [concerning] the degree to which we are capable of achieving truth and stumbling into error is very important. We’ll spend a few minutes on it now before wrapping up.
But the question that always comes up in this area is really about the validity of the senses, and it’s a very important question because that’s how we get information from the outside world. I know that I’m looking at my laptop, and I know that writing because the cursor is blinking and letters are popping into place, and I know that I’m sitting in my study, and so on, because of the evidence of my senses. Descartes had this theory that it could be possible that we all are like a brain in a tank, and we are being manipulated by an external devil that’s creating all the sensory input in a perfectly consistent kind of way, and so on. That’s a very interesting idea, and of course, he was trying to rescue the Christian deity from a certain amount of skepticism at the time. We can certainly understand why he would want to do that if not necessarily respect the methodology.
Of course, the problem with theories like that is that there’s no (what’s technically a) “null hypothesis;” and what that means is that there’s no way to disprove them. So if somebody makes to you the argument: “Well, you could just be a brain in a tank, and all of your sensory input is being manipulated by some evil demon,” well… certainly possible, certainly possible… However, Descartes (this is the “I think, therefore I am” thing), would say that I may be entirely wrong about everything that I’m getting from my senses, all my sensory input, but that I still exist because I’m being fooled and something is fooling me, and so on. So that’s where he got the “I think, therefore I am.” That was the only thing that he could really feel that had to be true from a syllogistic or axiomatic standpoint, which is that he existed and that someone was fooling him, and so on.
As I said earlier, in order to call something true, it has to have the capacity to be false. The problem with this argument that all our sensory data could be being manipulated by some external demon, we are a brain in a tank, it’s some sick lab, is that there’s no null hypothesis; there’s simply no way. It’s like if you’ve ever had a conversation with a paranoid person, talking to them about how you break them out of their theories:
“Ah, the CIA is watching me.”
“Well, have you seen any?”
“No! See, that’s how good they are! If I’d seen them, I wouldn’t worry as much, because then it wouldn’t be the CIA, because the CIA…” or whatever.
So if there is somebody watching you, then you are being shadowed by the CIA, and if there isn’t somebody watching you, or you can’t see them, it’s because they’re hiding, and they’re really good at it. So if there’s no way to disprove a proposition, it actually has no truth or false value statement and is not something that can really be conversed about.
If I say I’m actually a voice in your head, and you’re not actually looking at a screen, you’re having a dream, and I’m sent from the future… Well, you know, OK, we could have that debate, but how would we know that that wasn’t the case? One of the ways that we can tell dreams from waking reality in a way that even children can master, but which a lot of philosophers seem to have trouble with is, of course, within dreams, objects don’t have constancy; you’re walking along a street, it turns into a river, and then you’re flying, and then you’re talking to a guy, who turns into an elephant… Objects don’t have consistency and physical laws don’t exist; you can fly, I’ve had dreams where I’m walking along the seabed and able to breathe and so on… And you travel without transition; so in a dream, you’re in a ship, then you’re in a plane, then you’re walking in a desert, and then you’re swimming in the sea, and there’s no transition between them. How we know that we’re in a dream state versus a waking state: we know that in the real world there’s object constancy, physical laws, transition time, and they are all consistent and not subject to our willpower, but in dreams, quite the opposite occur.
We can get into that in a little bit more detail, but the fundamental question is that of sensual evidence, the validity of the stuff that’s coming in through our senses. Speaking of which, time for a sip of coffee.
The way that we can appreciate the validity of our physical senses is to understand why we have five of them. Our physical senses do not provide, except in the event of dysfunction (like you’re blind, or you have tinnitus, ringing in your ear), assuming that your senses are functioning in a healthy manner, it’s certainly possible that one of your senses can provide information that you misinterpret. The senses are valid; our interpretation of the evidence of the senses is not [always] valid.Quote
So to take an old example: if you think of a stick, and you put it in water, you see where the surface tension exists, it bends light in the water, so it looks like the stick is bent in water. If you look at that stick, and you say, “Hey, that stick is bent where the water is,” or “It does a zigzag there,” then what you’re saying is not what your eyes are telling you. Your eyes are telling you this is the light rays you assembled within your mind, and then you come to the conclusion that the stick is bent based on the evidence of your eyes. That’s fine, but of course, we have more than one sense; so what you can do is take your fingertip and run it down the stick as it goes into the water, and it doesn’t feel bent. Then you have an inconsistency between the evidence of your eyes and the evidence of your fingers and your touch.
It’s important to understand that your eyes are not fooling you. The eyes are not designed to say, “This stick is straight;” that’s something that occurs within our consciousness. The eyes are designed to transmit light waves to the consciousness, and the light waves are doing a thing, because of the refraction of the water, that makes the stick look bent. The eyes are receiving and transmitting the light waves in a perfectly valid manner; it’s just that we are then misinterpreting that and saying, “The stick is bent.” A more accurate way would be saying, “The light waves are producing an appearance of disjointedness in the stick.” That seems a bit of a long and convoluted way of putting it, but the stick only appears bent to you, and you can validate it with your other senses.Quote
Another example is: Let’s say that you and I are walking in the desert, and there’s lots of heat. I look into the distance and I see what appears to be a lake, and I go, “Oh, man, that’s great, I’m kinda hot and thirsty. Let’s run over to get to the lake.” What I’m seeing could be a mirage, probably is. A lake in a desert would be a little unusual and mirages happen all the time. When we think of what our eyes are doing, what’s happening is that light waves are bouncing between differently heated layers of air and producing the appearance of a lake. The light waves are bouncing and hitting my eyes perfectly correctly because my eye is all about transmitting light waves, it’s not about interpreting things to be a lake. Mice have eyes, but I doubt that they interpret things like “lake.” The eyes are simply dumb transmitters of information, and it’s our mind which then interprets and assembles it into a rational and cohesive view of the world.
So if we’re in this desert, and I look into the distance and say, “Look! There’s a lake,” then, let’s say that you and I had never heard of mirages before, first time in the desert, no idea what’s going on. We’re going to say there is a lake, and it looks to be about half a kilometer away. So we start sprinting our way towards the lake, but when we get there, the lake has moved, so to speak, off into the distance. It is now, still, half a kilometer away. I think, then, when we think that we’re running towards a lake, and we get there and there’s no lake, that it’s valid for us to say, “Huh. Well, I don’t think that what’s happening is the lake is moving, because lakes don’t move, except at a geological pace. So it probably is the case that we’re receiving some sort of visual signal that we’re misinterpreting as a lake,” and that’s why we have the word mirage. That’s one way of checking it: you say, “There’s a lake,” you run towards it, there’s no lake, it’s moved, it’s gone further, there’s nothing to dive into or drink, and so you’re validating the perception of there being a lake with your other senses. You get there, you can’t drink it, taste it, touch it…
If we say it’s probably not a lake, that’s correct, a good way of approaching it. But if we’re in the desert, and I say, “Hey, look! A lake,” and it turns out that, through some miracle, it is a lake, and seems about half a kilometer away, and then we get there and we dive in, we splash ourselves, and drink, all that kind of stuff, horseplay, then I don’t think at that point it’s really valid for me to turn to you and say, “You know, I think this is all an illusion, I think this is a hallucination,” because all our senses are validating it, the object properties for physical laws of matter are remaining constant, it’s logical, it’s consistent, we close our eyes, we open, it’s still there, we have transition time, and so on, and so I don’t think it’s valid for us then to say it’s an illusion. I think it’s perfectly valid for us to say, “Hey, we’re in a lake.” It’s a real lake.
So that’s an important thing to understand when it comes to receiving information about reality through your senses, and that’s what makes the scientific method so powerful; it surmounts the evidence of the senses, but it has to use the evidence of the senses in an alternative way to make it the case.
For instance, back before, I don’t know, geometric measuring devices and satellites, space pictures, how did we know the earth was round? They put a stake in the ground in one place and put a stake in the ground in another place, hundreds and hundreds of miles away, and then at noon, they measured the shadows, and got a sense of that; I think there was a certain mathematical way so when a ship went over the ocean, you saw the hull, and then the mast, and all that went, so it looked like it was going down a slow slope; last but not least, when there was a lunar eclipse (when the earth went between the sun and the moon), as the earth’s shadow went across the moon, you could see that it was rounded.
Although the evidence of the senses when we’re just going about our daily life seems to indicate that the world is flat, we still have to use the evidence of our senses to see that the world’s shadow is round when it goes against the moon, to measure these two sticks to see what their shadow is, to see the ship going down over the horizon on a slow slope and so on.
The evidence of the senses simply requires verification or a systematic organization of them in order to come up with something that’s true, or more true, versus something that’s false.
Just because there’s no perfect truth that we can always achieve doesn’t mean that there’s no difference between truth and falsehood, as we talked about earlier.
I hope that that’s a useful introduction to the ideas behind philosophy. There has to be some ideal state, and generally in philosophy it is the actions of the world in reality, which we obtain through the evidence of the senses and validate through rationality, and we can talk a little bit more about how the scientific method works in terms of its connection to philosophical methods, perhaps, in the next article.
I thought this would be an interesting way for you to at least understand some of the ideas behind philosophy. Why it’s so helpful we can get into in the next one, what kind of decisions it can really help you make, and why, why, why it’s so important to examine your opinions to find out if they’re true or not. And that’s a very powerful and interesting pursuit. I hope you’ll join me for it next time.
This article is heavily based on the introduction to philosophy podcast episode from Stefan Molyneux.
Here’s a question that I get from potato lovers: “How can I grow potatoes in abundance in limited space?”
Growing potatoes in tires can be quite simple and here are my instructions how to do it and have a bumper crop. You get a chance to do some recycling and vertical gardening all together.
Depending on the size of the tires, I first wash them. If they are small enough for me to get them in my pickup truck, I’ll take them to a car wash and wash them under pressure with soap then rinse with water. Inside the tire and outside as well, making sure the tread is free from road grim and grit.
You’ll want to set the tire away from an prevailing winds to keep their foliage from getting wind damage. Make sure the spot you select will be free of most foot traffic and out of the way of activities to avoid the set-up from being knocked over.
Press down any growth on the ground such as clover or grass, and lay a thick mat of saturated newspapers over the grass or area which you will be setting the tire over. Over this put down 2 nice layers of cardboard: one long ways, the other cross ways: you can cut the cardboard away AFTER you position the tires on top of the cardboard. The newspaper will soon deteriorate into the soil, but the cardboard hangs around for awhile, giving added protection against weeds and grass that would come up into the tire.
Whether or not you trim away the rim of the top tire is your decision. Some tires I do trim, others I do not. The bigger the tire is, the more likely I am to trim away the sidewall up to its tread. (This is just my own way of doing things).
Wet the cardboard down really good then start stuffing newspapers, leaves, straw, corncobs, sawdust or whatever you have that will absorb moisture into the inner rim of the tires so when rains come, the organic material will take up the excess moisture and hold it until the plants need it the most: moisture will “wick” away from the inner rim into the main tire container area.
Once the rim is packed with such materials you have on hand or can obtain at no cost to you or for little cost, crumble your topsoil, potting soil and cover the cardboard with 3 or so inches of this mixture, then seat your potato seeds into that mixture. I always add a dusting of hardwood ashes I’ve kept from the wood stove over the potatoes. Potash is very good for root crops.
Once your potatoes are in place, dusted with wood ash, cover with a layer (not pressed down) of straw, shredded newspapers, compost, or whatever mulch you’ll be using, then cover the top hole with a piece of glass, Plexiglas, or you can rig clear plastic over the top if you have nothing else to use. Glass and/or Plexiglas is ever so much easier on you the gardener, than using the plastic cover is, because the bed must be watered weekly unless rainfall measures 1-inch. You never want the soil to dry out, and potatoes (sweet and Irish) need a lot of water to return you a bumper crop.
Irish potatoes need only 4-inches of top growth. When your tater vines/plants reach 6-inches tall, it’s time to add a 2-inch layer of mulch, and snug it up around the potato plant stems. When it’s time, add another tire on top of the first one. And just keep adding mulch, water, and tires until the stack grows 5-6 tires tall. You may need to drive a wooden stay on 2 or 3 sides of the tires so they won’t blow over when storms come, or when you brush against them, or dogs hit them while chasing a ball, or once night temps no longer offer a chance of frost, you can omit the glass top: if you have predators who might eat the tater vine, you can use an old window screen instead of the glass top. And when the temps get around or above 80 degrees, put a layer of newspaper around the upper edge of the top most tire: this will to deflect heat away from the tire and preserves inner moisture as well.
The first blooms that form, I pinch off. This pours more growth to the roots which is what you’ll harvest anyhow. The 2nd set of blooms, I allow to form and soon after the vines will begin to dry and become mulch. You can “dig” your taters by removing one tire at a time.
If you’ll prepare another tire spot before unloading your tater tire, as soon as you remove one tire, you can roll it over on top of the cardboard spot you’ve just made beside your tater tire, and by the time your potatoes are all lying out on the ground, you’ll have another tater tower built ready to plant into again to make another crop of late fall taters to harvest just before a hard freeze hits your area…depending, of course, on just what area that is.
Keep It Growing!
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“I wasn’t sure what to do”. If I had a dime for every time I’d heard a patient use those same words, I could retire to my homestead and hang up my stethoscope once and for all. In this case the speaker was a 20 year-old male who looked like he was a couple of dozen pounds underweight. The chart said he was here for redness and swelling of his ankle. This was almost right.
Upon interviewing the patient, he claimed he was in his usual state of health until 4 days prior to his visit when he began having pain and swelling just above the right ankle on the outside of his leg. He denied fever or vomiting but stated the pain was now making him nauseous. He further denied trauma to the area or of ever suffering from something like this before.
Exam of the area showed a 6x8cm area of swelling (hard to the touch) which was red and very tender. The area of redness extended well past the hardened area and was less tender but still hurt to touch. The area felt warm and tense, like a giant pimple ready to burst – which is essentially what an abscess is.
Every day, in every emergency room in America, someone presents with an abscess – it is that common an ailment and would likely be even more common during a disaster or other wide scale disruption in society. Any break in the protective barrier that is your skin can allow bacteria to enter deeper into your tissues, where it can then hide to some degree from your body’s natural defenses and begin to do what all life seeks to do – reproduce.
The causes for the abscess initially could be as simple as an insect bite or a shaving cut. The most common types of bacteria found in these infections is staph and strep – which (not coincidentally) are the most common types of bacteria found on the human skin.
Once the infection is noticed by the body, it is your defensive (immune) system that causes all the outward signs of the abscess. The redness is due to chemicals released by your immune cells to alert other immune cells that they need help and to begin fighting the infection. The swelling is caused by an accumulation of pus; which is a collection of white blood cells, bacteria, and all the collateral damage being done as they fight each other.
Left untreated, the abscess can end in one of two results. The body wins by segregating and trapping all the bacterial invaders and causing the swollen area to burst, releasing the pus and fighting off the last of the bacteria while you ooze. Or the bacteria can relocate within the body and continue its assault until it overcomes the body’s defenses (“blood poisoning” or sepsis) and the victim dies. Before we had antibiotics and an understanding of this process it was a common way for our ancestors to go out.
With modern medical systems in place, the treatment is powerful antibiotics and often a procedure known as incision and drainage – which is exactly what it sounds like. A cut is made (hopefully with anesthesia) into the abscess and the contents cleaned from the wound. The wound is then left to heal after draining for several more days – basically an induced version of the “pop-and-ooze” the body works towards. The patient is then placed on an antibiotic and re-examined at intervals to ensure good healing.
So what happens if you don’t have access to those powerful antibiotics? You can still resort to addressing the problem the same way doctors did for a thousand years before we had these drugs – incise and drain.
Before you stab your buddy’s abscess with your K-Bar, however, you might want to ensure you have the right diagnosis. Cutting someone’s skin in austere conditions is opening them up for infection, if they didn’t already have one. Also, you might want to consult an anatomy text to make sure you aren’t going to sever any major blood vessels or nerves in your attempt to right the bacterial wrong. Remember the old medical adage “do no harm” applies to those who attempt to play doctor as well.
There are instances when you might not want to incise and drain (I&D): Extremely large abscesses, deep abscesses in very sensitive areas , abscesses in the palm of the hand or sole of the foot, or abscesses on the face. These are instances where we in the ER refer to a specialist and you should consider the risk of doing something verses the risk of waiting and watching.
If there is anyone in your group or community that is a nurse, PA, physician, or even a paramedic see if you can get a second opinion and assistance with the procedure. You can also take classes now that will give you some minimal exposure to, and experience with, performing this skill. There are also videos on YouTube that show the procedure and explain it better than just reading about it here.
There are many herbal treatments for abscesses that are beyond the scope of this article. These may apply to general wound care as well and I’ll address those in a future article as well.
As for the young man in the ER – when his procedure was complete and he had his prescription for the antibiotic, he turned to me and said, “that wasn’t so bad”.
“So you know what to do next time?” I asked.
“Yeah, come to the ER” he said.
Hopefully for him (and for you) there will be an ER to come to. If not YOYO (you’re on your own).
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When I think of Hydroponics I also think of Aquaponics. Aquaculture is the raising of fish and Aquaponics is using fish waste water to fertilize a hydroponics bed. But also there is Aeroponics, which is the spraying or misting of roots and plants with nutrient solutions. Hydroponics is generally thought of as the growing of plants in a water solution alone, which is called water culture. However, some plants are better grown in a sterile medium of some kind like sand, gravel, saw dust, peat, straw, etc. In those cases it is called sand culture, or gravel culture, or peat culture, etc. The basics are the same, which is that nutrient rich water is pumped and gravity fed though the medium and around the roots.
As it turns out, all plant nutrients in the form of ions of various salts can be suspended in water. These "nutrients" are all basic elements. Of the 100 or so elements in the chart of elements table about 60 have been found in plants. And, of that, only a few are considered to be essential. To be exact 16 (wikipedia says 14, different sources vary) are essential and, of those, some are more essential in greater quantity. Those are called macro-nutrients. Those needed in less quantity are called micro-nutrients.
Hydrogen, carbon and oxygen are the main elements and guess what? Plants get most of that from air and water. Of those three, carbon and oxygen are 45% each with hydrogen at 6%. Yes we have all heard that plants breath co2, giving off oxygen, and we animals breath oxygen, exhaling co2. Of the macronutrients we also have the famous NPK or nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (the primary macronutrients). The other three secondary macronutrients that most of us don't think about are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Micronutrients needed can be chlorine, boron, iron, manganese, zinc, copper and, strangely, molybdenum. Of those, we might have thought of iron, manganese, zinc and copper, but not the rest. And there are a few elements outside that which some plants might need, such as selenium or nickel. There was one plant, a tree, found recently where they discovered gold in its leaves. There was not enough gold to try to get rich getting gold from its leaves; however, the tree might be used as an indicator that there is gold in the ground beneath it. As far as they could tell, the plant has no use for the gold, it just happened to draw it up with other nutrients.
About 15% of a plant's mass is dry weight. 90% of that dry weight is hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, and it gets much of that from the air and water. This means that 1.5% of a plant's weight are nutrients. Of 100 pounds of plant matter, 1.5 pounds are nutrients. The point being the nutrients you buy for hydroponics are very compact compared to the plants they will produce. Or to say it another way, a little plant nutrient will go along way.
If you research you might find information similar the following.
Carbon 45% Oxygen 45% Hydrogen 6% Nitrogen 1.5% Potassium 1.0% Calcium .5% Magnesium .2% Phosphorus .2% Sulphur .1% Chlorine .01% Iron .01% Manganese .005% Boron .002% Zinc .002% Copper .0006% Molybdenum .00001%
Aside from plant nutrients, another major factor which is to be considered is the pH. 7 is neutral pH. Less than 7 is acidic. More than 7 is alkaline. PH of 6 to 7 is best for plants to properly convert the salts to something they can use. The pH is different for various elements, however. So a plant requiring one element more than others might want a pH that is suited more for that element.
With all but aeroponics, air is needed, as well. This can be achieved with aquarium air pumps and air stones. If you think about it, soil has air in it, and that air is more carbon dioxide rich than the atmosphere. The rotting plant matter and humus and manures help to provide a looseness which gives the soil more air. In aeroponics, the roots are sprayed or misted so air is a constant. In hydroponics, water levels need to be raised and lowered to to help with aeration.
Some advantages of growing with hydroponics versus soil are:
- The growing medium can be totally sterilized. This means no diseases, fungus, weeds, bugs, etc. to bother your plants while they are growing. One interesting method for this is using steam, though I'm not totally sure how well this would work out on the homestead.
- No weeds.
- No bugs (probably indoors only), at least it reduces bugs outdoors.
- Lower chance of diseases.
- Plant nutrition and pH can be controlled precisely at each stage of plant growth and evenly to all plants at the same time.
- You can space plants closer together and get more yield per square foot.
- You can automate the watering more precisely and there is less water loss due to evaporation versus flooding or other typical irrigation methods.
- More sanitary because you are not using manures, which could transmit human diseases to fruit.
- Plants mature faster.
- Plants are not stressed as much during transplanting. Transplant shock is not as severe. Start your plants in, say, sand or vermiculite, then transplant to the growing medium.
- Pesticides and herbicides are not necessary. Pesticides are not necessary if grown indoors, but some may be if grown outdoors. Herbicides won't be necessary at all; however, you might have to protect the nutrient solution from sun light so that algae won't grow in it.
What might some possible disadvantages be?
- Cost and labor in designing and setting up the system, containers, pumps, etc.
- If using a medium (sand,gravel, saw dust, etc.), a change, or at least cleaning of the medium, is necessary after so many cycles.
- Roots clog the medium.
- The nutrients needed probably come totally from industry byproducts. Yes nutrients are terrible dangerous chemicals (satire alert). What? Not organic? If a bag of sulfur can be labeled organic, I'd say these nutrient solutions are organic, too. My concern here is that we are dependent on the systems of support for the nutrients. (Nutrients would be a good prepper item to stock up on with possibly an infinite shelf life).
In soil, apparently we have nutrients as ions, meaning basic molecules that contain any of the 16 nutrient elements. There are different molecules for different elements. We generally call this chemical fertilizers. Organic is where plant and animal matter have been decayed or broken down to the point that it has become these chemical molecular ions. Some of these elements also come from rock, gravel, clays, and sands that have been broken down to where the roots can grab them and use them. Much of the soil is not usable by the plant and is simply good for aeration and supporting the plant structurally while it lives.
Plants roots absorb nutrients via chemical magnetism between molecules. Soil nutrients are - ions which are attracted by + molecules inside the plant cells. Water is pulled into the plant via a suction created by evaporation of water from plant leaves. Nutrients move to the leaves where they are turned into food for the plant and its parts by photosynthesis. Strangely, plants can take in water and nutrients through their stems and leaves, as well as roots. The point is that nutrient solution in contact with plant parts makes plants grow.
I say all the above to give you an introduction to hydroponics. I myself have yet to try this method of growing food. But I'd like to try it for some staple items. Corn, beets, carrots, potatoes and rice come to mind as staples. About the grains, such as wheat, oats and such, I'm not sure on how easy it would be or how to go about it. You may have heard of fodder systems for feeding livestock. This is a form of hydroponics. I would think root crops would be nicely grown in a sand culture. Corn might be best grown in a gravel culture, I would probably support corn with string as it grew. Other plants such as tomatoes, melons, squash, lettuce, greens, etc. might be good grown in water culture.
The basics should all be about the same. You will need some kind of containment for the air, water or medium culture. This container will need to be water tight. Solution will flow from one end to another through it and the medium. Pumps will be needed to circulate the solution. Alternatively, if your setup doesn't actually flow, then changing out the solution will have the same effect. So, on the small scale, pumps are not absolutely necessary. However, aeration will be using the fish tank pumps and stones.
For plants where roots will hang down into the water, something will be needed to support the plant itself. Anything with a funnel shaped hole might suffice. And this might be one good reason to raise your own cotton. After you have sprouted your plants in perlite, vermiculite or sand, or whatever, you can transplant it to the bed by stuffing its roots down through the hole then supporting the plant with cotton. Alternatively, peat or rockwool (an insulation) might be used, as well. Could recycled fiberglass insulation work? For making holes you could get a cone shaped bit from the hardware store and drill the cone shape hole into 1" plywood. If using styrofoam, one might just cut the hole the proper shape with a pocket knife. And styrofoam will float in the water solution.
Alternatively, one might make cone shaped pieces from any plastic material and insert that into a flat hole in flat material. Have you ever made a paper funnel for pouring oil into your car? Same concept. The thing is that you need to have this cone shape to allow the roots to be lowered below into the solution and to hold the stem. Again, some material needs to be packed into the cone to hold the stem in place.
Hydrogen 1.0079 Carbon 12.0107 Oxygen 15.9994 Nitrogen 14.0067 PHosphorus 30.9738 Potassium 39.0983 Sulphur 32.065 Magnesim 24.305 Calcium 40.078 Iron 55.845 Chlorine 35.453 Manganese 54.938 Boron 10.811 Zinc 65.39 Copper 63.546 Molybdenum 95.94 Nickel 58.6934 Selenium 78.96 Aluminum 26.9815
The above table is the atomic mass of each nutrient (element). Atomic mass is defined as 1/12th the mass of a carbon 12 atom. This gives us a ratio for figuring atomic mass of molecules. We can then determine what percentage of the molecule is our nutrient. Using this, we can figure ppm mg/l. That is parts per million milligrams per liter. A good digital scale, such as a scientific or scale used to measure gun powder, might be used to weight out a fertilizer salt to be added to a solution. Just as percent means out of one hundred, ppm means out of one million. One microliter is one ppm of a liter. 1,000 microliters would be a milliliter. PPM, though, is a ratio that is used with any measuring system. PPM for gallons would be 1 millionth of a gallon. And one ounce of a gallon is 7,812.5 ppm.
Sources for plant nutrients
- Dry fertilizer compounds
- Liquid fertilizer solutions
- Teas (manure tea, compost tea)
- Home mixed liquid fertilizer solutions
The last one, of course, will be made from the first three. Some compounds are more soluble in water than others. This means they dissolve well and stay suspended. Solubility ratios might be 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, 1:5, 1:15, 1:60, 1:300, 1:500. Compounds that are less soluble tend to be better for gravel and sand cultures and anything but pure water culture. The end result is that you mix up something liquid that can be added to your tank of water at a nutrient level, which will feed the plants and yet not burn them with too much nutrient. This is called a nutrient formulation. Nutrient formulations are like recipes for nutrient solutions.
Fertilizer compounds should give you amounts of each compound (molecule). It should give you the name of the compound and possibly the molecule itself. You will need to calculate a ratio for each compound. First, you will need to figure the molecular weight of a compound. A nutrient will be one atom in that molecule. You will need to figure the total weight for that element. A molecule may have more than one atom of the nutrient. Online Molecular weight calculator. You could try to calculate molecular weight yourself and then check it with an online molecular weight calculator.
1 mg/l is one ppm. You will divide the nutrient weight by the molecule weight to get a ratio. This ratio will be .2358, for example, or .4231 or .1258. Let's say you need 150 ppm of the nutrient in the solution. This means 150 mg/l. By the way, it's probably best to just calculate this in mg/l and later convert to ounces per gallon if you must. So we divide 150 ppm by a ratio, say, .3092 and get 485 mg of your fertilizer compound to get the proper ppm in your 1 liter solution.
Compounds are usually not 100% pure and may be, for example, 40% up to 98% purity. I would assume the impurities are not harmful to plants and they should tell you what they are. Let's say in the above example the compound was 85% pure. 85% is .85. We divide 485 by .85 and get 570 mg. I made up the numbers above, but you get the point. Now we multiply 570 by the total number of liters of water in our system. Say, 100 liters, which would give 5,700 mg or 5.7 grams.
Factors that affect the formulation might be the following.
- Plant species and variety
- Stage of plant growth
- Part of plant being harvested (stem, root, leaves, fruit etc. )
- Hours of sunlight
- Intensity of sun
You will most likely be mixing your solutions from solid fertilizer compounds or from liquid solutions or both. In order for you to use some manure or compost tea, you would have to test your tea solution for nutrient content. This is not cheap or fast. Though there may be some general data already established for popular manure teas. For example, fish waste for a given type of fish in aquaponics. Or for a given compost recipe. Local county extension offices would probably test a tea solution for you and maybe for free. However, most people probably wouldn't bother unless you are wanting to find non-industrial organic solutions.
You may experience nutrient deficiencies. This can be a complicated issue. Testing can be time consuming or expensive. You can get strip test kits from the hardware store. But you, as a homesteader, will basically have to watch for symptoms and then change out or amend your water. I won't really go into talking about symptoms in this article. Conversely, having a toxic nutrient level is usually not a problem. And, again, there might be differing nutrient requirements at different stages of growth. That means there may not be a single generic one size fits all nutrient solution. Some further research and study here will be necessary.
As preppers we might simply experiment with hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. We might have a small system setup so that, if needed, we could fire up the hydroponics system for a few months and produce some staples. Or one might live off the produce day in and day out. In the case of a greenhouse or poly tunnel, we could live off of some of it year round. Hydroponics is not without work, however. It is merely another way to skin the cat.
If you wanted to try aeroponics you might check out www.dripworks.com Drip Works for some drip and spray emitters and other components. However, I don't have a clue if these will clog or stop up due to the solution not being pure water.
We do these "preparedness drills" to better understand our shortfalls and where we excel in situations. You probably have or have had drills on things before. If you played sports you might have done something over and over again so that you got better at it during an actual game. You probably did fire drills at your office or school. These drills were done so that if an actual fire happens you know what you and other are doing and where they are going.
Drills are done to better mentally and physically prepare you and your loved ones by:
Improving confidence: They give you the confidence you need to react in a meaningful way during a stressful situation.
Improving reaction: They are in place so that you act quickly and precisely.
Improving equipment: They are done so that when you act, you do so with the right equipment at the right time.
Many professionals do these types of drills. Paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, and soldiers. They act as professions. They act as a unit. They act as a family.
I was in the military and will use the military as an example.
When you are in the military, you are in a unit that could be deployed at any time. Troops need to be able to very quickly deploy with all of the personal gear, vehicles, maintenance equipment, weapons, etc. Each individual being deployed brings many of the same basic items that every other soldier is bringing. These would be things like a sleeping bag, knife, firearm, ammunition, medic pouch, clothing, identification tags (dog tags), etc. Everybody has these items because they are items each person needs to have. Each individual also brings different items, depending on their responsibilities or MOS. A cook would need to take everything they need to feed the unit. A medic would need to bring all of the supplies they need to field dress wounds. Communications needs to bring their maintenance tools and extra radios.
All of these soldiers are trained to use their personal gear as well as their job specific gear. They are trained on what they have, basic maintenance of the items, how to store the items and so on.
Soldiers also train on what everybody else's job is and how to interact with the other members of the unit. They understand what the other members job is and what they are responsible for. In many instances they are cross trained so that one can perform the others duty if necessary. They are trained on this in different stages and capacities at different times. Sometimes they will do a partial drill which only includes a certain portion of a possible deployment.
Usually these drills are done in levels.
Level 1 Drill: Everybody grabs all of their personal gear and gets ready to go.
Level 2 Drill: Everybody grabs all of their personal gear, loads all of their equipment into vehicles or containers, loads all personal gear into their deployment vehicle.
Level 3 Drill: Everybody does level 2 drill and deploys to a training location.
Doing these drills, keep your equipment up to date and within standards. The drills help you recognize what is required, where the equipment is located, and how to use the equipment efficiently. Without the drills, your equipment would likely be stored somewhere and you would have to stop and think about where they are and if they are in good condition. The process of stopping to think could take time from you in a situation where every second counts.
During a drill, you should be writing down everything on two separate logs. One for all of the things that were done right and one for everything that needs improvement. If you did not have enough of something, it gets logged. If something you had was not enough or broke down, it gets logged. If a process needs improvement or is not done quickly enough, it gets logged.
These drills are not only about stuff but also help to mentally prepare you for actions. These drills are done in repetition in order to instill a mental process so that you can act under pressure. As a first responder, you practice first aid drills repeatedly. You do these first aid drills many times and do not stop. This repetition helps when reacting to a live situation in which people are severely injured, and the first responder is placed into a high stress situation.
In the military this is called establishing muscle memory. The soldier will practice S.P.O.R.T.S with their M16/M4 rifle over and over again. Sports is performed when the weapon misfires or jams. It stands for Slap the bottom of the magazine, Pull the charging handle to the rear, Observe the chamber for an ejection of the round, Release the charging handle, Tap the forward assist, Squeeze the trigger again. This ensures that, even in a high stress situation, you can still perform actions that you would otherwise have to stop and think about. In the case of sports, you are in a firefight and all of a sudden your rifle is not firing. In this life and death situation the soldier does not want to stop and think about what he needs to do in order to get the rifle firing again. Because he has performed SPORTS many times while in a safe environment, the soldier can perform the action without thinking about what to do. It comes second nature. The soldier does not have to stop and think to himself, okay I need to slap the magazine into place and then pull the charging handle to the rear... they just do it.
The same goes with the Level 1-3 drills I mentioned in the beginning. By doing these exercises they are not only ensuring their equipment is always ready to go, they are mentally preparing by repetition so that they instinctively know exactly where they need to go and what their role is. The military has what is called a QRF (Quick Reaction Force). This is usually a small unit that is always on call and has their equipment and minds ready in case of an attack. If their base getts attacked, the QRF team stops whatever they are doing, grabs their gear (which is already packed and ready to go), deploys to their vehicles, performs a quick function test of their equipment, checks that everybody they are responsible for is present, and than meets the assaulter. They are able to do this very quickly and efficiently because they have practiced doing it so many times that it is instilled into their minds. They instinctively perform each of these actions.getts attacked, the QRF team stops whatever they are doing, grabs their gear (which is already packed and ready to go), deploys to their vehicles, performs a quick function test of their equipment, checks that everybody they are responsible for is present, and than meets the assaulter. They are able to do this very quickly and efficiently because they have practiced doing it so many times that it is instilled into their minds. They instinctively perform each of these actions.
This can apply to anything that you know you will have to do in an emergency. Let's look at something simple as an example. The power goes out at 2300 hours (11:00 PM). Without thinking about it, you go to the kitchen counter and pull out a flashlight. If you practice this very same scenario over and over again, you will perform this action without thinking. If not, you will stop and ask yourself "where is a flashlight?"
One more example. Paramedics and first responders will know exactly what you mean if you ask them what the ABC's of CPR are. A.B.C. stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
- If a person has collapsed, determine if the person is unconscious. Gently prod the victim and shout, “Are you okay?” If there is no response, shout for help. Call 911 or your local emergency number.
- If opening the airway does not cause the person to begin to breathe, it is advised that you begin providing rescue breathing (or, minimally, begin providing chest compressions).
- Take 5 to 10 seconds (no more than 10 seconds) to verify normal breathing in an unconscious adult, or for the existence or absence of breathing in an infant or child who is not responding.
- Once the airway is open, check to see if the person is breathing.
- If the person may have suffered a neck injury, in a diving or automobile accident, for example, open the airway using the chin-lift without tilting the head back. If the airway remains blocked, tilt the head slowly and gently until the airway is open.
- Open the person’s airway. Lift up the chin gently with one hand while pushing down on the forehead with the other to tilt the head back. (Do not try to open the airway using a jaw thrust for injured victims. Be sure to employ this head tilt-chin lift for all victims, even if the person is injured.)
- If the person is not lying flat on his or her back, roll him or her over, moving the entire body at one time.
Breathing (Rescue Breathing)Spoiler
- Pinch the person’s nose shut using your thumb and forefinger. Keep the heel of your hand on the person’s forehead to maintain the head tilt. Your other hand should remain under the person’s chin, lifting up.
- Inhale normally (not deeply) before giving a rescue breath to a victim.
- Immediately give two full breaths while maintaining an air-tight seal with your mouth on the person’s mouth. Each breath should be one second in duration and should make the victim’s chest rise. (If the chest does not rise after the first breath is delivered, perform the head tilt-chin lift a second time before administering the second breath.) Avoid giving too many breaths or breaths that are too large or forceful
Circulation (Chest Compressions)Spoiler
- After giving two full breaths, immediately begin chest compressions (and cycles of compressions and rescue breaths). Do not take the time to locate the person’s pulse to check for signs of blood circulation.
- Kneel at the person’s side, near his or her chest.
- With the middle and forefingers of the hand nearest the legs, locate the notch where the bottom rims of the rib cage meet in the middle of the chest.
- Place the heel of the hand on the breastbone (sternum) next to the notch, which is located in the center of the chest, between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the one that is inposition. Be sure to keep your fingers up off the chest wall. You may find it easier to do this if you interlock your fingers.
- Bring your shoulders directly over the person’s sternum. Press downward, keeping your arms straight. Push hard and fast. For an adult, depress the sternum about a third to a half the depth of the chest. Then, relax pressure on the sternum completely. Do not remove your hands from the person’s sternum, but do allow the chest to return to its normal position between compressions. Relaxation and compression should be of equal duration. Avoid interruptions in chest compressions (to prevent stoppage of blood flow).
- Use 30 chest compressions to every two breaths (or about five cycles of 30:2 compressions and ventilations every two minutes) for all victims (excluding newborns). You must compress at the rate of about 100 times per minute.
- Continue CPR until advanced life support is available.
There are a lot of steps here. All of these steps are done without having to think too hard about each one. They have done these drills so many times that doing them has become second nature.
You should set goals for your reaction time and continue doing the drill until you meet your goals. Once you have met those goals consistently you should set higher goals.
My goal is that if we need to evacuate the house with all of my family members, their equipment, and some common (used by all) equipment need to be loaded into the vehicle. I will conduct this drill at a time when I recognize that I am least prepared to do this drill. Maybe I am sitting on my butt watching TV at the time. My goal is that we are ready to drive away from the house with everything we need to survive within ten minutes.
It took us about twelve of these drills before we met our ten-minute goal. The goal was then changed from ten minutes to eight minutes. We then did the drill until we hit an eight minute completion time. In the military, we would have conducted this drill back to back, over and over again, until we met the goal. With your family, this can become very stressful, and mutiny can arise. Because of this, it is best if you conduct these drills with a reasonable amount of down time between each. Not only will this help with morale, but it will allow you to conduct a more realistic drill.
Which Drills are Right for My Family and Me?
This is determined by your risk assessment. If you have not already done a risk assessment, I recommend you do so before you start doing drills. This will help you in determining which drills are the most relevant to you and your family and which need the most attention. A risk assessment is basically evaluating what is most likely going to have a negative impact on you or your family. You are more likley to have a death in the family or suffer from a job loss than you are to have a nuclear bomb go off in your area. In my area, the chances of the electricity going down for a week are higher than the chances of a riot. Therefore, I will first drill for power outages before I drill for defending my property.
I recommend you write down a list of the top twenty events that could affect your family. Just write them down in any order as they come to mind. Then organize that list by most probable.
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You’re at 10,000 feet. It’s been a few days at this altitude and you wonder when you’ll stop breathing hard. Not that it matters because if you’re not able to track, shoot, and pack out that elk, it’s likely your family will not survive the winter.
The exhaustion threatens to beat you down. You’ve given your extra rations to your wife and children. Now there are new mouths to feed. You weren’t sure you were going to see them again after it happened. Now that they’ve shown up, rations are going to have to be redistributed. After all, they’re like family.
Building a raft, a snow hut, debris shelter, working a bow drill, digging holes, carrying injured family members – that exercise program you bought didn’t prepare you for any of that.
Fit for What?
Information on physical fitness is a lot like the food supply in the United States. There’s a lot of it and most of it is not good for you.
There’s fitness as sport, workouts to get you “beach ready,” exercise routines that have as their goal nothing more than leaving you in a pool of sweat or vomit, "8-Minute Abs", and body destroying cardio fests.
When anyone embarks on a fitness regimen, the question that should be asked is: “What am I trying to get fit for?” It is particularly critical to have the right answer to this question in a prepping or survival situation. Fitness is relative and depends on the goal.
Your gym work has to support the technical skills you’ve developed and the tasks you will need to perform.
You may be walking long distances; have to engage in hand-to-hand combat; lift and carry heavy objects; sprint away from danger; have the energy to do the planting, feeding, and mending on the homestead; or pack out the elk you shot.
Is it possible to train to accomplish all these tasks and still have time to eat and sleep? What if you weren’t the all-state quarterback in high school? What if you don’t have the time or money for a gym membership? What if you’re in your mid-50’s (like me) or older?
This isn’t about “working out.” Working out is for stressed executives, soccer moms, and former high school athletes trying to relive their glory days. This is about training.
The First Rule
The first rule is to avoid injury. Whatever program you choose shouldn’t hurt you. This is not about competition. Pain and injuries to shoulders, knees, and lower backs are epidemic in gyms.
When most guys go to the gym, they try to do what the culture and our instincts tell them to do: build as much muscle as possible. As guys, we are usually more interested in “show” rather than “go.” There are a couple of problems with this approach. One problem is that muscle mass is metabolically expensive. It takes a lot of energy to move that extra weight.
The big muscled guy will tire out much more quickly because of the additional oxygen required by his larger frame. In addition, bigger muscles aren’t necessarily stronger muscles.
If food is scarce, having a low body fat percentage and six-pack abs will be more of a sign of impending starvation than sex appeal.
In the words of strength coach James Radcliffe, “Bullets are better than bowling balls.”
You could argue that you need to have endurance, agility, speed, flexibility, strength, and quickness. You don’t have time to work on all these specific attributes. These are good if you had the time but I think for a prepping/survival situation, there’s a better way to approach your training.
Your training program should improve your ability to move the way humans were born to move. The training will help you to do it with power, efficiency, and strength. The movements are squatting, pushing, pulling, lunging, rotating, and gait (walking or running).
All these seem simple until we try to do them under load or for long duration.
Going Long or Going Strong?
If you are new to training, or you haven’t exercised in a while, know that almost anything thing you do will get you better (assuming you don’t hurt yourself) for about six to eight weeks. Then your progress will stall. This can be okay depending on your starting condition and the intensity of your program.
[blockquote cite="Strength coach Mark Rippetoe"]Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.[/blockquote]
Think of strength as the big glass that you will pour all the other physical qualities into. Being strong makes it easier to endure.
Sports physiologists talk about different types of strength: absolute strength, relative strength, explosive strength, strength endurance, power endurance. Power endurance is what you want to work on. The following discussion of energy systems will make the reasons for that clearer.
I could get real geeky here but I’m going to try to avoid that. We’re going to be talking about three main energy systems:
- Alactic anaerobic
- Lactic anaerobic
The alactic system is used for short bursts of power for sprinting fifty yards, knocking someone to the ground or pulling a slab of concrete off of your buddy. The lactic system is used for muscle-burning activities like running 800 meters, the high intensity exercise programs like P90x, or wrestling around on the ground with a bad guy. The aerobic system is used for things like long distance running or hiking. Which one is most important to train? I would argue that being able to do repeated bouts of explosive, powerful movements (alactic) for extended periods of time (aerobic) makes the most sense. Training these two make the most sense because of the tasks you will most likely have to accomplish in most survival scenarios. Training in these energy systems is also less likely to compromise your immune and musculoskeletal systems.The aerobic system is an important base for just about every movement. Please understand that I am not talking about chronic endurance training of the sort that marathon runners undertake. This will cause you to lose muscle mass and explosiveness and leave you prone to injury and illness.
You are probably stronger in one of these energy systems than the others. When it comes to physical training, most of us play to our strengths. This can be a mistake. At 55 years of age, I can do 15 pull-ups and deadlift close to 400 lbs. at a bodyweight of 178 lbs. I don’t like working on my endurance. The takeaway for me is that the thing I’m reluctant to do is exactly the hole in my armor that I need to cover up and I’ve adjusted my training program accordingly.
Principles Over Tools
I’m as much of a gear head as the next guy. This carries over into my fitness training. It’s something that I’ve only recently gotten under control. There are all kinds of tools to get the job(s) done. You have kettlebells, dumbbells, cables, clubbells, barbells, “ab blasters,” suspension trainers, fancy machines, a universe of running shoes for different situations, and the Shake Weight.
You can actually get everything done with just a duffle bag or Alice pack. Add some gym rings and you can go to another level.
If all you have access to is bodyweight, you can make incredible gains in the areas you need them. I can detail a variety of programs using all these tools in a later article.
You should cross train. What I mean by that is you should combine lifting heavy objects with an endurance activity like ruck marching (start with weight as light as ten pounds and work up to 40 or 50 lbs.). If you have access to a pool, lake, pond, or the ocean swimming is a great addition that can work all the energy systems.
Figure out ways to increase load. If you don’t have access to weights, use big rocks or a duffle bag containing chains or pea gravel wrapped in plastic garbage bags.
Start running hills. This can help ease you into sprinting. Some of us have too much mileage to do anything that resembles fast running and that’s okay. You can substitute jumping and medicine ball exercises to aid your explosiveness.
In the end, your strength and fitness have to complement your technical training. If you can’t repair a motor, take care of your livestock, use a gun properly, or use a map and compass, all the physical training in the world won’t keep you from going over the edge.
Think about pressure testing your strength and skills by entering adventure races, orienteering competitions, local Strongman or Highland Games competitions, and IPSC contests. It can only help.
Who am I?
Hello. My name is Jeff Dols and I am the proud owner of Fallen Oaks Farm. This column will be dedicated to chronicling my journey to transform my 17 acre property into a permaculture farm. Five years ago, my wife and I moved to Loudon, TN to get out to the "country" where we could have more space for ourselves and what would become our herd of dogs, cats, parrots, horses, pigs, chickens, and goats.
After buying the new house, it was time to make room for the horses and pigs that belonged to my wife. They were living out at her parents place since we didn't have room for them at our old house, and there was almost no fencing at our new house. For the first year, we set about fencing off areas for the horse pasture and the pig pasture. I learned a great deal about the many types of soil on my property, and I also learned the important of wearing gloves whilst pounding in t-posts. After several months, several hundred posts, and a few thousand feet of fence, the pastures were finally done and we welcomed the pigs and horses out to the new homestead. From there, we soon acquired a small goat herd so that I could chase my dream of producing my own goat cheese (a dream I am happy to say I have finally achieved). And finally, we added a small flock of chickens for eggs production.
About a four years ago, I became familiar with a gentleman named Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast (thesurvivalpodcast.com). Thanks to Jack's podcast, I became aware of something called permaculture. From the moment I first of heard of it, I was hooked. I began trying to learn all I could about what it meant to develop a permaculture system. If you do not know what permaculture means, that's okay. I will be talking about it plenty in future posts, but it revealed a real passion that I didn't know I had. I've learned that I want to be closer to the land, to know where my food comes from, and to help my community do the same.
It was again Jack Spirko that first taught me the word PermaEthos back when it was in its infancy and was meant to be a community in the wilds of Texas. Needless to say, that vision did not last, and soon turned into something entirely different. PermaEthos would now transform farms into showcases for Permaculture's benefits, and the project would be initially funded by a Permaculture Design Certification course. The sale of the PDC was limited to only 1000 students, and on the day of the sale I recall sweating in the shade (I was putting up more fence) beneath a tall pine refreshing my phone's browser feverishly while waiting for the sale to go live. When it finally appeared I frantically smashed away at my phone with aching thumbs as quickly as I was able, and to my relief I became founding member #150.
Using what I have learned in the PermaEthos PDC, it is my goal to turn Fallen Oaks Farm into a permaculture farm to provide my community with fresh, wholesome food, and to help people to develop similar systems for themselves. I want to be able to show visitors how everything in the system from fruit trees all the way down to mushrooms, it working together and then be able to provide them with the very same plants they've seen. My dream is to become a Permaculture teacher and consultant so that I might spread the knowledge and understanding that I have gained. It's going to be a long journey, but I look forward to every bit of it and sharing it with you. Until next time, take care!
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9 years ago.
This “Facebook memory” popped up today in my news feed while having coffee and relaxing on this long holiday weekend. It is a long weekend on account of:
Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire. The Congress actually voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2.
This is a photo I took of myself long before selfies were a thing. I was working as a consulting utility forester, working with major gas/electric utility systems to address their vegetation management needs. Much of this involved working and walking alone to assess the terrain, habitat, and environmental conditions where the work needed to take place – it was a great job. If you’re interested in learning more about this type of work, visit this site here.
There are so many times that I think about what activities I’ve chosen to engage in for a primary source of income over the years. While the decisions I’ve made and the actions that I’ve taken have never resulted in what many would consider a large income stream – they have resulted in happiness and a good quality of life.
This year, I will turn 40. As part of my personal wellness program, I see a counselor regularly. One thing I recently observed is that I *never* find myself bitching or complaining about my work. I’ve created a life where I’ve spent half of my years on this planet working outdoors during all seasons. It seemed natural.
However, it wasn’t good enough. For the last few years, I began voraciously “chasing my dream” of becoming the next rock star market farmer, permaculture farm designer, community organizer, green industry entrepreneur, writer, blogger, content creator, or whatever else I found myself focusing on at that time.
Much of this work was performed to my own detriment. I pursued the “good cause” and failed to embrace many of these principles I stood and for and preached in my own life – specifically “self care.” The article titled “Why Many Farmers Eat Like Crap” sums it up very nicely. I began to hate my #hustle.
This year, I decided this year to step back from the pursuit of those dreams. The reality is that many of those dreams were little else other than someone *else’s* dreams that I admired. I’ve shifted focus to living the life *I* am living…now and in this moment. It’s all I’ve ever done and all that I know how to do.
One man whose dreams I was chasing was Curtis Stone. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Curtis and the work that he’s done. He’s a mentor and a friend. He has always advised people to keep their ideology in their back pocket. I’m going to take this a step further and suggest you put your dreams there too.
That’s not so say that you should leave them there, but sometimes it’s important to take time and reevaluate what you are chasing and why. Sometimes, when we get so caught up in the #hustle, we lose sight of the life we’ve been actively creating for ourselves. Let’s give ourselves some credit every once in a while.
Rather than tirelessly chase dreams, think about the dreams you’re chasing. Why are you chasing these dreams in the first place? What’s you’re purpose in life? If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
You don’t necessarily need to figure it all out right now, because it’s also very easy to sit around getting nothing done while contemplating your navel and the universe. However, I do encourage getting these thoughts down on a regular basis. This will help you identify the purpose in mission is your life. The why.
Last September, I wrote a blog post titled, Three Primary Components of a Deliberate Living System. This post and many others like it helped me determine my why. Blog posts since then have been sporadic at best and the weekly email I used to send also seemed to lose its’ purpose. It began to show in my work.
It bothered me, but I soon decided that I needed to do what’s best for me. I needed to begin practicing self-care first. All of this is relevant and culminates in the content of this long blog post that I find myself writing today. It is relevant because the development and creation of Deliberate Living Systems was based (in part) on the idea of self-sufficiency, freedom, and independence.
As we read at the beginning of the article, “Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire. The Congress actually voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2.”
As the forefathers of this country declared independence from the British Empire, I find myself continually thinking about ways that I wish to declare independence from the systems of support and the mindsets that I know. I am my own sovereign being and I encourage each and every person that reads this to understand that this is the truth – but only if you want it to be and allow it to happen in your own way. You cannot live through other people’s dreams…
…you must find your own. You must find your purpose. You must find your way. You are creating your own Deliberate Living System. The primary components that comprise your systems will change, but before you can recognize this as truth, you need to understand and identify what those components are in the first place. I’d encourage you to take some time and do so this weekend.
There is no better time to celebrate Independence Day than to figure out what it is that you seek independence from and how and why you seek it. Declare your independence today and celebrate the life you are actively creating. Moreover, share it with someone and talk about what you’re doing to make it happen. Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.
Live deliberately, my friends.
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If you follow my blog at all, you’ve no doubt noticed that I have not had the time to write any posts this summer. We have been busier than normal with the farm, and most of my “spare” time has been invested into the podcast that I’m doing weekly with Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices called “Grass Fed Life“.
For those of you who really value the information I’ve put out on the blog over the past three years, hopefully you’ve found the time to the listen to the podcast. Episode number 22 (8 Reasons Why You Might NOT Want To Start A Pastured Poultry Enterprise) came out today, and with it there are now over 23+ hours of audio for you to listen to. Contained within that audio is a lot of what I hope you would agree to be very valuable information. In all sincerity, there is way more content there than I could ever write for the blog during the same time period. We have covered everything from production on poultry and pork, to marketing dynamics and business basics. All in all, I think it’s a pretty solid replacement during the growing season for the written blog. But rest assured, I’ll get back to writing more blog posts this winter.
Many of you have been e-mailing and asking about when our next workshop would be scheduled and I’m happy to announce that we have one on the calendar for November 3rd-5th near our farm in Martinsville, IN. The Farm Business Essentials 3-day workshop is going to be intense, and I’m extremely excited about it! My excitement stems from two main sources: First, the curriculum we’ll be covering in this workshop is the meaty stuff that really matters if you want to make a legitimate go of farming for profit. This is the teaching that I really get into and enjoy sharing because it is so profoundly important to your success. Second, I’ll be co-teaching this workshop with my friend Diego Footer. Diego brings a lot to the table in terms of transitioning from one career to another, as he is currently working to build an income source that will allow him to work from home and spend more time with his young family. On top of that, he has spent countless hundreds of hours talking with and interviewing farmers in the regenerative agricultural space. The knowledge base he has to share in a workshop of this nature is incalculable.
I want to be clear that this workshop is specifically aimed at for profit farming, and not homesteading. The main focus will be aimed at helping aspiring farmers and existing farmers create a personal plan to transition towards an intentional part-time or full-time farming venture. We’ll certainly spend some time (about 25% of the workshop) on the “nuts and bolts” of how-to produce poultry and pork as well as an exhaustive tour of our farm. But the majority of our time will be focused on things like selecting the appropriate enterprise(s) for you on your farm at this point in time. We’ll also cover things like how to set realistic expectations for your farm, how to get your family on board and how to create a comprehensive year to year growth plan. We’ll also talk about balancing family with farm business startup, running a business, scaling up production while balancing marketing and refining your farm venture to decrease costs while increasing profits. This is not a class you will sit in and simply listen to the speakers talk – this will be an interactive experience where your participation will be expected in order for you to get the most value out of the workshop! You can read the entire itinerary on the Permaculture Voices website. We also have hotel accommodations listed as well for those of you coming in from out of town (please note the group rate discount code!).
So what’s included and what is the cost?
We have worked very hard to try and pack a lot of value into this workshop, and I think we have done just that. Please note that our three days together are going to be long and intense! But if you are serious about farming for profit, then please consider investing into yourself! For an in depth conversation about the workshop between myself and Diego, please listen to Episode 22 of Grass Fed Life.
$499 PER PERSON – EARLYBIRD PRICING ($599 after October 1)
$449 PER PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE REGISTRATIONS ($499 each after October 1)
We also have 12 VIP Spots Available (as of this writing only 3 of these remain available):
There is no extra costs for these spots. The first 12 registrants will be given VIP status. Each VIP attendee is invited to a special dinner on the farm on the night of November 5, will receive the whole PV3 Broadacre Video Package ($99 value), and get a free 1/2 hour of consulting with Darby AFTER the workshop. Darby will answer any questions that you might have and address any issues that you might need help with. These VIP spots are limited to the first 12 registrants.
There are a total of 25 workshop tickets available. The attendance of the event is limited to make the event more personal and allow a more customized and tailored content for the attendees.
What is else is included:
- Lunch provided each day. Local and organic, meat provided by Darby’s farm.
- Snacks, coffee, water, and tea are provided throughout the workshop.
- Printed workbook containing all workshop notes and worksheets.
- Pre-Workshop Videos- Available immediately upon registration.
- Darby Simpson: Farm Marketing & Business Planning: Real World Proven Strategies (3HR)
- Greg Judy: Successful Implementation Using High Density Planned Grazing (3HR)
- Greg Judy: The Economics For Leasing Land, How To Find It and Develop It For Maximum Income (3HR)
- Farm tour of Darby’s farm. See the systems in action.
- Access to 3 monthly follow up webinars AFTER the workshop to help keep you on track and answer any follow up questions.
- 30 minute consult PRIOR to the workshop to help make sure that your concerns are addressed during the workshop.
Please note that this is the only workshop and/or speaking event that I currently have on the calendar. If the above content sounds like a good fit for where you are at with your farm, then please join us for this upcoming event this November! I’ll look forward to meeting many of you in person and I promise you’ll get way more value than you pay for at this event. Knowing what I know now, if I could travel back in time and attend something of this nature I would do it in a heartbeat. I feel strongly that this is one of the best investments you can make into yourself, your family and your farm business!
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Part 3 of The Cosmos, the Earth, and Your Health – The Story of Soil In the first two episodes of this series on how soil is formed, we’ve been operating at the cosmic level, talking about the how the elements of life were molded during the Big Bang, inside stars, and in explosive supernovae. […]
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Primal Power Method Bison Chile Recipe
Here is a tasty recipe created by one of my favorite Primal Power Method followers – Corina Luu
- 2 pounds grass fed Bison
- 1 large red onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 28oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 15oz can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin powder
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp cacao powder
- 2 tsp ground corainder
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1-2 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (your taste preference)
1. In a large Dutch oven cook bison, onion and garlic together until bison is browned.
2. Add your broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and pureed pumpkin (stir well).
3. Add in seasonings, mix well and cook for 20 minutes so that all your flavors blend together.
4. Scoop some into a bowl and add your favorite toppings (see Rosemary Bread recipe).
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Source article is from Primal Power Method
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The Urban Guerrilla
“Hops, it is from more than just BEER”
By Michael Jordan
A.K.A: Freyr MOJ, the Crimson JUGGERNAUT
Hops, world renowned for the use in beer, is making a big comeback for gardens and baking. I was asked what I do with hop, well I make starts every year. Hops is getting expensive, so, over the last 10 years, I have been growing my own. Yes, I do brew beer, but there may things hops is good for.
Hops are primarily used to reduce tension and aid in sleep. As a sleep aid, hops can be used in a sachet inside of a pillow. The aromatic properties of the herb will help one to fall asleep. For tension, hops can be taken to help relax the muscles and soothe anxiety. As a digestive aid, hops can help to relax spasms of the digestive system and aid in digestion
Dosage: As an infusion, drink one cup in the evening to aid sleep. As a tincture, take 20 drops in a glass of water 3 times daily for anxiety. Take 10 drops with water up to 5 times daily for digestion. As a tablet, take for stress or as a sleep aid. As a capsule, take 500 mg, 3 times daily before meals, to help increase appetite. A sachet may be made and placed in your pillow to aid in sleep.
Safety: You should not use hops if you suffer from depression. Consult your health care provider before beginning use of any herb.
The shoots that corkscrew up out of the ground in the spring are quite tender and can be sautéed like asparagus. Combs stuffs hop leaves with hop flower petals, cheeses, and aromatics before tempura-frying them to make a cheesy-herbal beggar's purse.
One of my favorite things to make with hops is bread. The hops give the bread a distinctive, though not very pronounced, hoppy aroma, and also, as I thought it might, a bitter finish, which is quite nice, once you get used to it. You probably need to like hops a lot though. The crumb is relatively heavy for a white-flour loaf, but soft and moist; the crust is soft and chewy. The flavor and aroma is awesome. This bread helps me with sleep and tension.
3-quart sauce pan
1 quart glass jar with lid
1/3 cup dried hops
6 cups quality water
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast or
1/3 cup good soft yeast from the previous batch
- Simmer hops in water for 1/2 an hour letting the steam escape, to make a strong tea. The water will boil down to about 3 1/2 cups.
- Sterilize jar and lid in boiling water. I do this by pouring boiling water into the jar and over the lid.
- Place flour and salt in sterile jar, and strain boiling tea over the flour. Stir thoroughly. It is important to scald the flour to keep the yeast from souring.
- Cover loosely and allow to cool.
- When it is cool (not cold) add yeast and stir to incorporate. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature. It will bubble and ferment, producing a quality yeast.
- When it has fermented (6-12 hours), cover tightly and store in a cool place.
Yields: 3 1/2 cups soft yeast.
Keeps 2 week, properly stored. When the yeast has a strong tart smell and watery appearance, it is too old for use.
Soft Hops Yeast Bread
- ¼ cup corn meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 ½ cups milk
- ¾ cup soft hop yeast
- 10-12 cups flour, divided
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- In saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer ten minutes, to form a thin gruel. Transfer to a non-metal mixing bowl.
- Stir in milk, to cool the mixture.
- Add yeast and 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat) to make a thick batter. Mix thoroughly and cover. This is called a sponge.
- Let sit in a warm (room temperature) place 2 – 12 hours. It can be worked again when the surface appears somewhat watery, though it is best to mix the sponge in the evening and finish making the bread the next morning.
- Stir in 4 cups all-purpose flour, to form stiff dough.
- Turn out onto a heavily floured surface, cover with more flour and knead to incorporate ingredients (10-15 minutes).
- Leave dough on the work surface, to rest while you clean out and grease the mixing bowl.
- Knead dough for twenty minutes, to develop the gluten. Return dough to mixing bowl and cover.
- Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk. This rising will take 45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how long the sponge was allowed to develop.
- Knead again, divide and shape into loaves. This recipe will make three 4” x 8” loaves, or two 5” x 9” loaves. It can also be divided and shaped into rolls or hamburger buns.
- Place the dough in greased pans, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. This rising should take no more than an hour.
- Mix glaze and brush on loaves or rolls.
- Bake loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for 50-60 minutes, or until the bread comes away from the sides of the pan and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. - Rolls and buns are baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 25 minutes.
- When bread has baked, turn out of pans onto a wire rack to cool. For a softer crust, cover loaves with a hand towel while they cool.
Note: This dough tends to rise up and not out, so make the base of the loaves or buns the desired size of the final product.
Yeast Cakes from Hops
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
- 1 cup potato water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup dried hops
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 cups corn meal (approx.)
- 1 dried yeast cake (optional)
Boil 3 or 4 peeled potatoes in unsalted water. When done, drain the potatoes and mash them well, but save the potato water to use later. Cover the hop blossoms with water and bring to a boil. Drain off the water and save it, too. (Ella's mother dissolved a dried yeast cake left from her last batch into this water as a booster.)
Put flour in a pan and slowly stir in the potato water you saved. Be careful not to use too much water. Mix slowly so that the flour won't be lumpy. If the mixture is too runny, it might be necessary to cook it until it is a thick paste-like dough.
Add mashed potatoes and sugar. Mix well and then slowly add the hop water until you have a medium soft dough. Let rise double. Then punch down and work in enough corn meal to make a stiff dough. Roll out the dough on a board to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into cakes. Let the cakes dry, turning them often to make sure they dry evenly. When you think they are good and dry, hang them up in a muslin bag for a few days to make sure they won't mold. After this you can store them in fruit jars or however you wish.
We followed this recipe using the called for amounts of ingredients and found it made two large pans of yeast cakes. Whereas this amount would be fine in a large family where bread is made often, it was much more than we needed. You may want to cut it down some, especially the first time you make it.
So then next time you plant something, try some hops. Not only will you have a great vine plant to weave in and out of your trellises, you have a plant that you can use to make something more than beer with.
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If you would like your Christmas celebration on a smaller scale this year, you might consider using a rosemary plant, available at plant nurseries, as a Christmas tree. A dense, evergreen, aromatic shrub, it has resinous, needlelike leaves and soft blue flowers.
The upright varieties are hardier, while prostrate ones are more tender. “Arp” is the hardiest rosemary, taking temperatures as low as -10 degrees F. Instructions for overwintering are to wrap in plastic sheeting and shelter from winter winds. Many folks grow them in pots and bring them in for the winter, just in time for use as a Christmas tree. It succeeds best in a light, dry soil and sheltered situation, such as the base of a low wall facing south.
Rich in tradition, the Spaniards revere it as one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary in the flight into Egypt and call it Romero, the Pilgrim’s flower. It was introduced in England by Phillippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III in the 14th century.
When trimming your “tree”, save the needles for use in cooking. Rosemary roasted potatoes are especially delicious. The best lamb roast I have ever eaten was in New Zealand, with a rosemary herb crust. Known as the herb of remembrance, rosemary is said to improve memory and fidelity for lovers. Because of this symbolism, it is used at weddings, funerals, decking churches and halls, and as incense in religious ceremonies.
This is one of the greatest medicinal herbs, especially considering how affordable it is. Rosemary increases the blood supply to the skin, reducing pain in rheumatic muscles and joints. Rosemary baths help with low blood pressure, varicose veins, bruises, and sprains. Because it helps to relax muscles, use for indigestion, cramps and irritable bowel syndrome. Its fungicidal action kills Candida albicans, the cause of yeast infections.
Dilute the essential oil using 10 drops per tablespoon of vegetable oil, such as olive, sunflower, almond or jojoba oil. I use the essential oil in pain relieving formulas. It is also a good rub, applied topically, for congested lungs. Add a few drops to the bath after a long, tiring day. It can be applied to the scalp to promote hair growth. Rub on your temples to lessen headaches.
Essential oils are too highly concentrated to use internally. Harvest the aerial parts of the plant (the needles and flowers). It is best to steep one ounce of dried herb, or two ounces of fresh herb, in 5 cups of water. Make it fresh each day. Drink hot or cold. A tea can be used for colds, flu, rheumatic pains, and indigestion. It is stimulating, so avoid use before bedtime.
Since this herb is a uterine stimulant, it should not be used medically during pregnancy. You should never ingest the essential oil. Small amounts of rosemary used in cooking do not pose a risk of any side effects.
Enjoy the holidays, and winter, with rosemary!
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
Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing, 2001
Rosmarinus Officinalis illustration, from NRCS Plants Database, Britton, N.L.
Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford 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.
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“Here, shoot this,” said Tom.
“What do I do? How do I hold it and what if I push the wrong button?” Molly replied. “Ok, I’ll shoot it.”
Boom! “Ouch! Damn that hurt! Is it supposed to hurt like that?” cried Molly.
“Were you even aiming the gun at the target?” Tom yelled. “That shouldn’t hurt. Let’s try this again.”
Does the above scenario sound familiar? That was me nineteen years ago learning how to shoot. I have to admit that I loved the fact that I could shoot the gun, but I was terrified each time, because I didn’t understand what I thought was a complicated thing capable of killing me. I knew I needed to hold perfectly still during each shot and I failed at that miserably. I didn’t understand how to truly use the sights on the gun and looking at the target confused me because I couldn’t focus on the sights and target all at once. Finally, I didn’t get a chance to look at the box of ammo and wasn’t shown how to load the gun on my own, it was just handed to me.
It’s not rocket science that men and women are different creatures, so why do some people teach men and women the same way to shoot? Let’s face it, men are more logical and have great spatial skills and they can pick up a gun and seem to have a pretty good idea of what to do. Women, on the other hand, are emotional and we have to go through every single step to understand how the gun works.
Frank, an instructor of mine, told me to learn from Vicki Farnam and Diane Nicholl in the book Teaching Women to Shoot so I could really help address women’s issues when it comes to shooting firearms effectively. The authors were pioneers in helping women shoot and as I read the book I finally started to understand what I needed to do. I had a lot of “Aha!” moments and after nineteen years these authors addressed issues I had dealt with for many years.
The fundamentals of shooting need to be addressed one by one and presented in detail and in an orderly sequence for women to comprehend them. I will address the following areas that need to be taught to women: safety, gun parts, slide lock, fit, grip, stance, sight alignment, trigger control, recoil, and follow through.
The first step with teaching guns is always teaching the four universal safety rules as follows:
- All firearms are always loaded.
- Never point a firearm at anything you’re not willing to kill or destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until on target and ready to fire. This is known as the master grip.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
Next, show the master grip and focus on ALWAYS keeping your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
In our Pretty Loaded gun class we go through a power point that explains all the parts of the gun and we show a video to the students so they can visualize how a semi-automatic pistol and revolver works. It’s very important for women to understand every part on the gun, because it is very intimidating to not know what each button or lever does.
I always take the time to reiterate that the only thing on the gun that will make it go “boom” is pressing the trigger and the trigger requires 5 to 12 pounds of pressure depending on the gun. I have actually had students think that the magazine release or slide lock lever fired the gun also.
We then talk about clearing the gun and doing a chamber check and go over this slowly with each student until they are comfortable. Women struggle with this part depending on the size of their hands, the size of the gun, and their strength.
Have the woman point the gun down range with a master grip and turn her body 90 degrees to the right (assuming right handed shooter). The gun should be held close to the body and rotate the gun so the ejection port is tilted towards the ground. Place the weak hand over the top of the slide as far back as possible and do not cover the ejection port. The strong hand is then positioned on the gun so the thumb is underneath the slide lock lever. Then push the hands away from each other, pushing the slide lock lever up when the notch is above the lever. This is an area where we always make them focus on where the gun is pointed during this process. The slide locking back needs to be mastered safely and many times to make it comfortable for them.
The next topic is how to hold the gun properly and this is where you need to pay attention to grip. A lot of women hold the gun the wrong way and then they end up being injured by slide bite or they limp wrist the gun and it doesn’t cycle properly. To grip the gun, place the grip of the gun in the web of the strong hand between the thumb and index finger. The strong hand should also be as high as possible on the back strap of the gun. The weak hand is then placed as high as possible on the side of the gun and is wrapped on top of the strong hand so the index finger is under the trigger guard. The thumbs should be pointing up and parallel to each other and touching the slide (I know that some people advocate a thumbs forward grip, but the “lineage” of my instructors has been thumbs up). I tell my students that the strong hand has a push feeling and the weaker hand has a pull feeling so the gun is secure.
A gun that fits the woman is very important and it will be more comfortable and precise to shoot so make sure the slide should line up with the bones in the forearm.
The weaver stance works well with women because the weight of the gun is kept closer to the body with the arms bent and this helps with muscle fatigue. The strong side foot drops back and the other foot is forward as if in a fighting stance. It is important to not let the shooter lean back at the waist to counter balance the weight of the gun.
The next thing to focus on is sight alignment. To do this correctly, the front sight is aligned with the top of the rear sight with equal space on either side of the front sight while pressing the trigger. It is important to explain that our eyes only focus at one distance at a time and it is impossible to keep the sight and the target in focus at the same time. Once things are lined up, focus on the front sight with the back sights and target blurred. A great tip here is to explain the arc of movement and it is impossible for anyone to hold completely still. It is important to continually reconfirm the position of the front site and make any adjustments as she presses the trigger.
Trigger control is very important and it is critiical to not allow the finger to fly off the trigger after the gun fires. The finger holds the trigger all the way to the rear during recoil and after the sights are aligned the finger allows the trigger to move forward enough to reengage the sear so the trigger can be pressed again for the next shot. With most modern semi auto pistols, this audible and tactile position is called the “trigger reset”. This takes some time and muscle memory to master this, but should be addressed immediately.
Recoil is probably what scares most women about shooting a gun. Recoil produces movement and noise and this can startle women, making them more anxious. It is very important to have good ear protection and sometimes doubling the ear protection helps with this problem. The most important thing is not letting the woman shoot too big of a gun for her hands or too large of a caliber. This is where the proper grip and stance will really help with recoil. Make this initial experience a good one so they are not anxious every time they shoot.
Follow-through is the last issue we address. If they look over the sights at the target just before, during or after the trigger press, then the shot will be a miss. Proper sight alignment and minimizing the movement of the gun for a fraction of a second it takes for the gun to fire and the bullet to travel the length of the barrel and past the muzzle will improve accuracy.
The final thing to teach women is how to read a box of ammo and look at the gun to see what ammo works with the gun. The more you can have them take responsibility for their gun and “own it” will make them remember important information. The difference between target and defense ammunition is something to carefully point out as well. All ammo is not created equal, and it’s especially important to be sure the defensive ammo of choice functions well in that specific firearm before deeming it worthy of trusting your life to.
The next time you want to take the woman in your life shooting try to follow the steps above and you will probably have a great experience. Even better? Get a trained instructor, especially someone who works well with women if they are available in your area.
Be Safe. Be Empowered. And become LOADED!
While the dynamic of today's nuclear family has changed some in recent decades, the ruts of historical roles of family members are still deeply etched. Hopefully, the tide of the two income household will reach a high water mark, and more families will try to see to it that one parent can stay home with their children.
Whether roles within the family fall along gender lines or not, the roles are usually well defined. Myself, being the man of the house, find I feel ultimately responsible for not only being the provider but also being the protector. As the protector we want to don the sword and shield and protect our family should the need arise. But therein lies the rub…
As the provider for my family, I am often gone. My work takes me far away and for lengths of time. And whether your job is across town or across the world, and regardless of if it is for few hours a day or weeks at a time, you are gone. And who then is left to protect your family? No matter how much we want to be there for our family, we are often gone for large swaths of time throughout the day. But for example, in my case, my wife is…
Personally, I love training. I love shooting. I love spending days on the range. I enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and development through professional firearms courses. But all of those come with a substantial time and financial cost. And while I should practice, maintain and further develop my skills, I have found those costs better spent if spread between my spouse and me.
While I am with my family X amount of time, my wife is with them nearly ALL the time. So it only makes sense that an investment in the safety of your family is an investment in the training of your spouse. Sometimes this can be tricky.
Some people are afraid of or don’t like firearms. This often stems from a lack of knowledge and experience on the subject. But at any rate, it needs to be dealt with delicately. Usually, this does not involve you taking your spouse to the range. Here is where a professional course is worth its weight in gold…
About 3 years ago my wife and I attended a 3-day level 1 pistol class. It took the students from no skills to shooting dynamic drills by the end of the course. It isn’t to say it was just for beginners, but it was structured in a way that everyone, regardless of skill level, was pulling information out of it along the way. But it wasn’t throwing new students into the deep end either.
The class was phenomenal. Not only in the information covered (there are only so many ways to teach sight alignment, trigger control, etc.) but in how the information was put into perspective. The drills were often put into the context of a scenario. Such as being in the checkout line at a grocery store when someone starts shooting the place up. Or a parking lot at the mall…
The instructor did a great job of bringing the reason for the skills home to the students. He did this in a way that made sense and touched on the reality of the world we live in, regardless of how we may perceive it at times.
In talking with the instructor off line, I was thanking him for putting on such a great class and commenting on how much my wife not only enjoyed it but also how the lessons were driven home in the examples he gave. He, in turn, brought up a funny analogy that seems to have held true with respect to shooting.
To paraphrase: “Someone’s first experience shooting is like losing their virginity. If it is a bad experience it leaves a long lasting impression. And conversely, if it is a good experience, people get hooked.”
Two days after that first pistol class we took, my wife woke up that morning and said to me, “I keep having dreams about shooting since that class.” She then left the boys with me for a little while, went across town and bought herself a Glock 17.
Go talk to someone that has been shooting and doesn’t like it though… It will usually come out that their first experience was not a good one. And for some reason, someone usually thinks it is a good idea to hand a new shooter a 12 gauge shotgun right out the gate. Don’t do this… Set them up for success.
While you can most certainly impart the firearms knowledge you have, it is money well spent to find a legitimate class. There is a reason Professionals have made a Profession out of teaching firearms skills. With this in mind, choose that first class wisely.
My wife has since been to a number of classes, some great, some ok and some sub par. Find a reputable instructor. There are some great ones out there and a number of them travel. Chances are you can find something relatively close. Do your research as well and look for After Action Reports and reviews from students. And of course don’t be afraid to contact the instructor directly and ask if the class your looking into is a good fit with respect to skill level.
While there are a lot of teachers out there, two that my wife and I have experience with that stand out are Matthew Graham of Graham Combat and Chris Costa of Costa Ludus. Both are highly recommended.
And lastly, should you go through a course with your spouse, go to opposite ends of the firing line. You are there for your individual learning experience. You can chat and compare notes during lunch. Get the most out of the experience you are paying for.
Stay armed and stay proficient…
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I have come to notice a certain trend among the homesteaders and permaculturists I surround myself with. It seeps its way into their consciousness around this time of year. The final harvests are done, the frost has set it, and I can see it arise in all of them: a melancholy dread of winter. Yes, there are certain little things they get excited about like baking and maybe the holidays, but in general, the people I know in this space get pretty darn sad when fall hits.
I have also seen a few articles floating around the internet in which people suggest activities to do to avoid these winter blues that so many people experience and I do think those are great. I think it is important to stay active by doing things you love. However, I can’t help but feel like these suggestions were just ways to merely endure the winter and not truly enjoy or benefit from it like I believe you can. I wanted to think about this in a deeper sense. Why do so many people despise being cooped up in a house for more than a few hours? Why can’t they just be still for more than a day? Where does this dread of winter or inactiveness in general come from? I really wanted to delve into these questions and explore options of how to combat the sometimes paralyzing depression people feel when the cold months roll around. So I started to think about these things and I made a few little observations.
There is something about those of us who choose this homesteading life style, we are often go-getters. We are do-ers. We are the people who have a million projects happening at once and even if sometimes they don’t get finished, we are always working on something. I think that is such a huge part of why I respect this crowd so much. I admire hardworking, passionate people. But I think that this particularly determined, energetic personality can have a few problems as well. For instance, I think one of the biggest reasons why these do-ers cannot handle being cooped up or even alone with themselves is because they spend 90 percent of their time avoiding working on themselves. Think about it, we spend so much time trying to make our land better, make our earth better, make our world better that we often times forget to work on things that have to do less with the big scary world and more to do with our personal mental well-being. Sometimes it feels easier to control other things in our lives than our sometimes flawed personalities, but at the end of the day the only thing you actually can make better, is yourself. Improving who you are is so important in this chaotic world because sometimes it is the absolutely only thing we can do to make the world a better place. We can’t change other people, but we can change ourselves. If we all just do our little part and work on becoming good people, then maybe the world wouldn’t be so corrupt. After coming to this conclusion about where this dread comes from, I thought about some ways of thinking that would benefit anyone slipping into the sadness of winter and turn this time of year into something extremely powerful for themselves and those around them. I think in all honesty it comes down to this one statement:
Stop Avoiding Introspection.
This is the first step of really allowing yourself to grow over the winter. You have to stop avoiding reflection and start looking deeply at yourself. Let yourself turn inward and cast away the layers of denial you have created over time. I am not saying you have to induce your own coma, I am not asking you to meditate for 3 months. You can even look at this like a project in itself, if that makes it easier for you. But I just want you to really try to take a good hard look at yourself and try to think about who you are as a person and what you want or need to work on within yourself.
Instead of just finding little tiny ways to just tolerate the winter, or endure the loneliness, I want you to full on embrace it. I want you to take this opportunity to really dive into yourself and ask yourself, what have I been saying I would work on, in regards to myself, for years? If you are feeling particularly stir crazy you could even make a list. Lists are in. Lists are hip. Lists make you feel productive. Make a list with this question at the top: “What have I always wanted to improve in myself?” OR “What have I always wanted to change about myself?” Now, I am not encouraging self loathing or self criticism. God knows we already get enough of that from the outside world. Trust me, I am all for embracing flaws and loving ourselves for who we are but let’s face it, sometimes you just need to cut the bullshit and realize there are always aspects of yourself that need improving, just like there are always facets of the farm that need fixing. With this list, I want you to be really really honest with yourself. That is why I recommend writing it down. For some reason when we write, when our pen hits the paper, all the barriers of denial we so easily create come crashing down. I love that about writing. You can’t lie to yourself when you are writing. So write it down. And you don’t have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to. This can be a journey between you and yourself. All of the versions of you working together to come together to build one complete, whole self.
However, if you are having trouble coming up with anything to work on, this might be a good time to bring in some back up. Sometimes asking the people closest to you what you need to work on can be very eye-opening, enlightening, and beneficial. It’s important to keep an open and clear mind when having these conversations though because sometimes it can really hurt to hear someone you love spurting off a list of your faults. But you just have to try to remember that you brought it up and they are telling you these things because they love you and they want you to be the best version of yourself just as much as you do.
So you’ve made the list. Now what? Working on yourself is hard. How do we start? Where do we start? It is so easy to just ignore our own personal growth needs and focus on something else because we are taught to put everyone else around us first. I am not saying this is a bad thing to teach but sometimes it leads to the exclusion of teaching self care, and that, my friends, is a bad thing. In fact, some people will probably think that this much thought about oneself is narcissistic, or even unhealthy. But I wholeheartedly disagree. Self exploration is vital to our human existence.
To start, I’d say look at your list and choose just one of the items on that list. One probably seems minuscule in the grand scheme of things. You’re probably thinking, “How could I possibly spend an entire season just thinking about one aspect of my personality? I know it seems like a bit much but it is so much easier to take this whole human growth thing one trait at a time. It is surprisingly hard and draining to mold yourself, so it needs repetition and time. And it needs thought and reflection. It cannot just be put on the shelf for another day. It needs consistent exploration and guess what, you have time for that in the winter!
Once you have made the choice about what aspect of yourself you’d like to really hone in on, here comes the hard part. Force yourself to take baby steps. Like I said, patience and consistency will be your best friends. Just make a conscious effort to think about making the improvements, every day, just a little bit, and be happy with that. It’s okay if at the end of winter you haven’t bloomed into the flawless human you wanted to. It’s okay if you only made a little bit of progress. Do not lose hope in yourself. Even if it is just a little bit of growth, it is still something of incredibly extreme value you can take away from the months you originally thought grew nothing but heat bills.
The post "How To Combat Cabin Fever Through Introspection" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
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Okay, I'm a nut about motorcycles. Just ask my wife and she'll simply roll her eyes in confirmation. Like many riders, I started riding when I was a little kid on my hand-me-down Honda Trail 50 and it has been my passion ever since. It's been 30 years since first discovering this love of mine and luckily I've learned a few things along the way. One quickly realizes that if you want to continue your journey in this fantastic hobby, you will want to outfit yourself with the best protective gear you can afford. You also figure out that there are a few tools and emergency items you'll want to have along with you as well. I consider these statements to be pretty obvious ones and like to think I do pretty well to abide by them since we all know what happens when you don't. Right, Murphy's Law gives you a sly smirk and proceeds to promptly bite you in the ass as it is tasked to do. Unfortunately this past weekend I discovered that I am not above that law.I am telling this quick story because it has to do with one of our products at 180 Tack, the BearLine+. I always carry my personal BearLine+ in the tail bag of my trail bike on any ride I go on. It's just there, just in case and not only because I am a co-founder of this company but because I truly value it as a tool not to be left at home. I dutifully point it out any chance I get to those who feign the slightest curiosity. We put the "+" sign at the end of the name because it is much more than your average hang-a-meal bear line. In my hobby, it's a life saver! No, of course I don't mean I'd actually parish without the BearLine+, but I would be stuck for a very long time off trail without it possibly wishing I could die as I struggle with the weight of my 400 lb motorcycle.If you have ever lost your dirt bike or 4-wheeler over the side of a steep trail edge where the only way to continue on is to get your machine back on the trail, you know what I talking about. Frankly, it sucks! Even if you have a riding buddy with you to help work it back onto the trail, they are heavy and it's extremely exhausting. The BearLine+ is the absolute necessary tool to have with you in these situations.That's because this versatile system acts as a compact winch system because you can arrange the 500 lb test paracord and climbing-rated carabiners into a block & tackle system allowing you to easily hoist your machine back onto the trail.The reason I bring up this weekend's ride is because it was the first time I failed to have my BearLine+ system on my bike and it was, of course, during this ride that we needed it. My riding buddy and I came around a corner to find another rider about 25 ft off the trail down a very steep embankment. He was already exhausted from trying to get his bike back up to the trail and he had only been there a few minutes. His rear tire was dug in and his bike was going nowhere. We fortunately did luck out in this particular situation because 4 other riders came across our little scene and were available to assist. Of course the first tongue-in-cheek question posed by one of those riders was "does anyone have a come-along?". You can imagine my frustration when I had to explain that "I own a company that manufactures this great product and if only I had it with me today, I could show you how well it works!" But I did not have it this day of course and could not demonstrate it. Luckily, between the multiple riders we had available, we were able to sweat and grunt to get the heavy bike back to the trail where it belonged. But, most of us also ride in places where we're not likely to run across 5 other riders to help us out of our predicament. So, by learning my lesson and posting this quick blog about it, I hope I've convinced you to take a hard look at your tools and emergency equipment you bring along with on your next adventure. The BearLine+ will always be in my tool kit from now on. No excuses will be tolerated! ~ Travis
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Every day I meet people who are in chronic pain. In fact, twice in the past I had chronic pain. Once in my lower back and once in my left knee. At its worst the back pain kept me from standing upright or walking, and the knee pain kept me from walking up or down stairs or inclines. Military medicine wanted to operate both times.
The first time I was living in San Diego and I found a movement specialist in Los Angeles who showed me how to correct the back issue, with movement not surgery. Years later I was living in Washington when the knee became debilitating, so I flew to LA again with the same results. The knee was rehabbed with movement instead of surgery.
Most of the people I work with now are everyday people who want to move better and feel better. However, being close to Fort Lewis I see military and law enforcement personnel everyday who are walking around in pain. Why? Compromised movement plus the load of equipment equals lasting effects.
Why is back and knee pain in particular so hard to diagnose? Mostly because Western medicine is made up primarily of systems specialists, and chronic pain is often the effect of whole body issues. When my lower back was in pain, the doctors and physical therapists I went to focused on the back. However, they were unsuccessful because the back was not the issue, merely the symptom. My back pain actually came from a misalignment of the sacrum and the right pelvis bone. Instead of manually adjusting the two, I was given a prescription of simple exercise that allowed the effected muscles to relax and the bones to naturally reseat themselves. But the misalignment is just part of the story.
Have you ever seen a baby so flexible it put its toes in its mouth? Of course, now if I brought in an anesthesiologist right now and put you under do you think your toes would make it your mouth? Surprise! They would. We think of our flexibility as if muscles stretch like rubber bands. But the elasticity of our muscles has little to do with our joint range of motion. Instead our nervous system places restrictions on our movement as a result of trauma we experience throughout our lives.
Here is an example: at birth you are completely flexible, at age 5 you roll your ankle, at 10 you have a bike wreck, at 12 you fall out of a tree, at 16 you have a shoulder injury from baseball, then you start driving, watching TV/computer screen, wear glasses, get a tattoo, and finally have a really stressful day a work – and your back starts hurting.
If your back is the result of cumulative stress, then all the Motrin, cortisone shots, spinal manipulations, surgeries, etc… that are frequently done will not get rid of the back pain.
Finally, one day you come to see me. I watch you walk across the room. I look at which compensation based on past trauma, or current habits, is most effecting your movement. We work on that and get measurable results. With those results we prescribe movement and dosages to start correcting the problems and get you out of pain.
If you are in chronic pain, you are not preparing for SHTF, you are in it now and under more stress it will only get worse. By learning to understand and resolve chronic pain issues now you can get out of pain and be better prepared to help those around you during a crisis.
So, as for stress. Physical stress is cumulative throughout our lives. It may be the result of trauma, or posture, or repetitive movements. Physical stress from movement is the lowest of the five stressors that contribute to chronic pain, but the most often contributor so this is where we start making corrections.
The next higher stressor is your vestibular system. This is your sense of balance and movement and is often a contributor if a person is extremely sedentary, or has sustained a severe traumatic injury in the past, like an auto accident.
The next higher stressor is vision. Our eyes perform 29 functions. When we fail to exercise them adequately, maybe by starring at a computer all day, they begin to fail us and cause high levels of stress on our nervous system.
Next up is nutrition. If you do not have adequate vitamins, minerals, and water your body cannot maintain or repair itself.
At the top of the pyramid is mental stress. This is stress derived from how you react to external stimulus such as family, work, living conditions, or threats.
When all these stresses combine, it can push you over your personal stress threshold and result in chronic pain. But, long before they get to the pain stage, they begin to effect performance. So, stress affects all of us and needs to be resolved as much as possible. Over the next few articles I hope to give you some tools to self-assess and start to control stress to improve both pain and performance.
The post "Stress Part One: Cumulative Stress and Chronic Pain" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
In part one, I wrote about physical detoxification and about food and environmental pollution detoxification. I focused on how the foods we eat, the water we drink and the skin care products we use impact our health. I am now going to talk about the mind-body connection. And how our minds/attitudes can change our physiology, how to take control of our health, and heal ourselves with very little, if any, medical intervention. I was going to write on how light and electrical pollution has been found to be very dangerous to our health; however, due to the length of this article, I will be posting another article on the dangers and solutions to electromagnetic exposure in the near future.
Let's get started
The term, mind/body connection has been thrown around and misused in many circles. Our minds are our bodies and vice-versa. The only thing that separates the two, in reality, is the fact that our brains have no pain receptors. Therefore, we cannot tell when something is going "right" or "wrong" in our brain. Inflammation of the brain has been linked to depression, Depression is caused by inflammation and so it leads to reason that decreasing inflammation can help a depressed person. Just like a diabetic who has neuropathy in their feet and cannot feel the nail, they stepped on, our brains are in a similar situation. Inflammation can have many causes. Stress and a poor diet are the primary culprits. Increased cortisol levels are a result of stress, which, in turn, causes inflammation.
Let's take a look at stress:
According to Mayo Clinic: "Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn't mean that life is free of stress. On the contrary, you undoubtedly face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result, you may feel as if you're constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don't have to let stress control your life.
Understanding the natural stress response
When you encounter a perceived threat- a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance- your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation, and fear.
When the natural stress response goes haywire
The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life." Even "good" stress can cause the adrenals to overreact.
Coping with stress
In order to treat stress, we need to realize we are under stress. For example, it is not natural for a person to sit in a projectile (automobile) and go 70mph, but many of us do this daily. Our modern lifestyles do not allow for much in the way of alleviating and managing stress in a healthy way. Many people will resort to drinking to calm their nerves. This is a temporary solution which actually makes the cortisol levels in the body rise. Alcohol and cortisol levels Also, we are very much isolated in our modern world. There have been studies showing that breast cancer survivors are five times more likely to survive if they have a strong support system of friends and family. Social isolation causes cortisol levels to rise, giving way to inflammation in the body. This affects all our organs, but especially our heart and endocrine systems. Social isolation also leads to higher cortisol levels
Tips on coping with and alleviating stress
It is important to realize that each person will react to stress in a different way. Age, sex, cultural background, social support, emotional, physical and spiritual health all contribute to how a person reacts to and handles stress. The following is a general guideline for handling stress and stress reduction
- Plan ahead. The simple act of planning almost anything helps reduce the potential for stress tremendously. Look at all aspects of your life. From meal planning to physical activity to social functions to a quiet time for meditation- these all help reduce stress and keep our lives in balance.
- Rethink your priorities. In our fast-paced world, we can start to take on too many projects and start to feel overwhelmed. I recently heard a saying "You can do anything but not everything." This applies to all parts of our lives. Sitting down and writing out priorities will give you a better picture as to what is truly important in your life. I use a planner to put down those things that I must do, should do, and want to do. Make sure you have meaningful social interaction as one of your priorities, along with meditation and prayer every day to calm and clear the mind.
- Reduce unnecessary clutter. Whether it is actual physical clutter or clutter in not organizing or the clutter in our heads, getting rid of that which does not serve us is a step in the right direction. Clear out those things that do not serve you anymore. Whether it is a garage or closet that needs organizing or thoughts that serve no productive purpose, work on streamlining your life as much as possible.
- Learn to relax. Learn to achieve an inner, calm, peaceful state no matter what your outward circumstances. Meditation and prayer have been found to significantly reduce stress levels. 15 minutes a day has shown to reduce cortisol levels and increase productivity. It has been said that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God. Even if you do not subscribe to a religious precept, meditation will help calm the mind, thereby reducing stress levels. Here is a link on how to meditate and a link on how to pray
- Release the stress. This can be accomplished by exercise, which uses up the adrenaline produced by stress, writing in a journal, talking to a friend or safe person, looking at the stress in a different light (I like to look at what's causing my stress and ask myself if it will really matter in 100 years from now- if I answer "no", I let it go). If overly tired, take a long hot bath. Add lavender and citrus essential oils to the bath. Our sense of smell is directly wired into our limbic system, which processes emotion and learning. Here is an excellent article on aromatherapy and its uses.
- Learn deep breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Hold for two counts. Slowly exhale through your nose. Do this five times. Studies have shown that doing this simple exercise reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. Anytime you start to feel stress coming on, try this simple exercise.
In conclusion - Our bodies and minds are not separate. What happens to one part happens to another. We need to look at the whole picture- what we eat, our activity level, social/support system, our attitudes and spiritual activities, and find a balance that works for us. Only then will we be able to live the most productive and fulfilling life we were meant to live all along.
Part 3 of this series will go into the very real dangers of man made radiation and some proven protocols to rid our bodies and reduce our exposure and damage it has on our bodies.
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One of the first challenges a modern homesteader is faced with is poor soil. In rare instances, soil may not be your immediate issue, but you should be looking downstream to make sure this does not become a future concern. This challenge is easily overcome in the short term, but without sustainable systems and a balance of plant life, this can become a continuing problem. To address the poor soil issue and to become a more resilient homesteader, it is essential that we deal with those things that affect soil quality and provide long terms solutions to maintaining and improving soil fertility.
One of the easiest things we can start doing to build rich soil is to begin composting. Compost is easily made from table scraps, cut vegetation such as weeds and grass clippings, and other debris such as paper, cardboard, sawdust, coffee grinds, and lots of other household wastes. I won’t go into the details of how to compost, but it is important that you start transitioning as much of your household waste into enriched usable compost for your garden beds. We are currently composting about 40% of our household trash, which is 100% of our food scraps and about 20% of our other waste. I am hopeful that we will be able to compost 100% of our paper trash as well, so the only thing we are paying for removal will be our plastics, metals, and sewage.
The next thing we can do to enrich our soil is to increase the moisture levels. Our soil is very dry and clay colored, which is pretty common in the eastern range of Colorado. The soil consists of some decomposed granite, but mostly clay and dirt, which is a term I use to describe dead soil. There is little to no moisture in the soil and any moisture put into the soil quickly dissipates. This is usually due to the lack of biological material in the soil. Biological material becomes depleted through farming, and over grazing. Farming, or more accurately plowing, turns over the soil, causing the under soil to become exposed. The UV light from the sun kills all the micro-organisms that have surfaced, reducing the fertility. Repeating this process each season further depletes these micro-organisms, which, in turn, further reduces the amount of nutrients that can be retained within the soil. Let’s think of the soil as a lake that is teaming with all sorts of micro-organisms, and if we want bigger organism in this lake, then we need to identify and correct the problem at the smallest level to have the greatest impact over the long term. If we can provide an environment within the soil directly conducive to maintaining and growing these micro-organisms, then we can begin to build fertility back in to the soil, and have our soil produce fruit and vegetables for us. How do we get fertility back into our soil? Let’s continue and examine the water situation and determine if there is enough rainfall, and at those specific times needed by the plants and trees we intend to grow. It is not our intent to just turn on a garden hose and water the garden if we go a week or more without any rainfall. That puts us at a deficit, as we have to pay for those utilities. We may also decide to implement a gray water solution to be able to provide for our water demand in times of drought. We should address this issue through known techniques for water retainment, and maximize our retainment strategies for snow and rainfall, to either store that water or divert and spread that drainage over the backyard.
Notice the water movement, sun direction, and drip-line irrigation systems along with water storage barrels and pond, and hugel beds/enriched soil areas
There are several techniques that we can use to provide moisture and fertility back into our soil. Let’s start analyzing the possibilities and determine which work best in our situation. Our backyard has a standard down slope away from the house, which is approximately a decline of 1 foot per every 15-20 feet, but, over time, a channel has formed from the gutter downspouts and created a valley where most of the water travels. Unless we plan to plant our entire garden into these valleys then we need to start spreading the water across other areas of the backyard.
To determine the amount of rainwater, you can use a simple calculation found at: http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/calculators/. This will give you a reasonable estimate for your storage solution. There is a really nice spreadsheet you can use at the above link to calculate your total annual rainfall catchment system. We then will include a pond at the end of the swale system to retain any run off that may be leaving our property. This will serve us in watering our vegetation, and perhaps a place to grow fish and experiment with some aquaponics. Aside from providing a rain water or gray water storage system, we need to look at how we can provide water across the whole area. The options I’m considering are: a drip-line irrigation system; several soaker hoses; mini or micro swales; hugel beds; or a combination of some or all these.
This system will require the purchasing of tubing and hoses that connect together and are placed in the garden beds. This system is a good way to regulate the water for a specific area and to move water to areas that may be difficult to irrigate by other means. These system can also be put on a timer and can be controlled for plants with specific watering needs. These systems are relatively low-tech and are easily set up by the typical homeowner. The materials are relatively inexpensive compared to a full on sprinkler system, but can incur additional cost if you intend to put the system on some type of environmental control system to control watering. These systems are extremely useful for greenhouses, perhaps cold beds, and raised garden beds.
These are typically for smaller watering requirements, such as a tree or small stand of trees, that you intend to continually water throughout the day. Though these can be more effective if placed on a timer and are set to water periodically. These connect directly to a typical garden hose and are used to saturate an area.
Swales can be constructed to slow the water as it moves over the land after the rains. By constructing a swale, you can channel the water and slow it down so that it has a greater chance to be absorbed by the landscape and increase the soil fertility. Swales are typically 10-12 feet wide, are a couple feet deep, and have a 3-4 ft berm on the downhill side. They are constructed on contour to allow the water to fill the swale and slowly trickle down through each swale system. Swales can be scaled down to most situations. However, I have a concern of building one that is less than 3 feet wide, as I am not certain they will be as effective at allowing a reasonable amount of absorption into the berm.
These are a great way to retain water in a specific area, and are great for creating a rich soil planting environment. Typically these are to be constructed on contour and are used for water retainment. The concept is that you dig down about 2 feet into the soil, then several feet wide and as long as you desire. After moving all of the soil to the side, you place hard wood into the channel you just created. Using logs, branches debris, cut wood, and other slash, until you have about 2 feet above the surface covered. Then you pile on mulch and other trimmings and clipping before returning the soil back onto the mound. You are free to mix in manure, compost and other enriched soil as you continue to build the height of the mound to approximately 6 feet tall. The concept is that the wood in the hugel bed will soak up the run off and will provide an environment that will enrich the soil as the wood slowly decomposes. This happens in nature when a tree falls over, the ground lays claim and begins to break down the fallen trunk. We can accelerate this process by covering the wood with soil, creating a mound, and then further planting on this mound. This is made more effective when placed on contour so that, as water moves over the area, it will be retained in these hugel beds.
HC: Honecrisp Apple; Frt Cocktail: Fruit Cocktail i.e. Peach, Plum, Apricot, and Nectarine; Crtl: Cortland Apple.
Notice 2 Cherry trees, one on the side of the house and one on the north side of the backyard.
Which systems are the best water retention, and provide the most fertility to the soil? Well, I think I may be employing each of these in some facet, though I don’t have a need to construct a 6 foot tall hugel bed or a 10 feet wide swale. I will probably be cutting these down to size and perhaps building hugel beds and swales on a much smaller scale. The biggest thing that concerns me with constructing swales is that I am removing top soil from an area, and that area is not very permitting for a path, as it may contain water during certain times, i.e. after it rains. I will probably need to experiment more with this idea, and make that determination. The next question is where do I use drip-lines, soaker hoses, hugel beds, and swales. It should be fairly easy to move the water to the outside edges with either a drip-line or soaker hose. To determine the others may be a bit more difficult, as I also have seven fruit trees to plant, so it may not be effective for me to decide where the swales, and hugel beds will need to go in until I map where the trees need to be planted. It seems that I may be grid-locked, so let me review the situation. Looking at the diagram above shows the optimal water movement across the backyard. If I plan the swales to move the water in these directions, then I should be planting my trees on the downhill side of the swale or hugel beds. I will be planting the trees in two clusters and then three single standing trees. The diagram shows the tree placement and selection, based on the sun requirements and other concerns. I want to keep the trees within the fence line so as to prevent fruit from falling in my neighbors yard. Now we need to overlay the two diagrams and determine where the swales and hugel beds need to be placed. Tree #4 will probably need to be moved to the south to be planted on the downslope of the swale cutting through that area. The hugel bed should work in place of the existing raised bed just to the right of the patio. The raised bed can then be relocated to the other side of the patio along with expanding a few more beds into that area. Placing a small pond at the end of the swale system will allow the catchment and redistribution of water throughout the entire area. Eventually, we can make the determination to keep fish or other aquatic life in that small pond, if there is to be water present year round. This will give us another opportunity to provide an enriched water source for the garden plants.
I am still undecided about the swale system, as of this writing, and will be repositioning the trees, as needed, within the vicinity of the diagram above. The water retainment system, though still a sketch, now has a plan and we can start taking necessary actions to shore-up this design. The soil should be well nourished throughout the system and some of those dry areas should be made more fertile through the use of the hugel bed, drip-lines, and swale systems. I am confident that this is a strong design and will allow us to plant more varieties into different areas. I will be working on the next article in this series so, if you have suggestions, comments, or see omissions, please feel free to include in the comments section below. This is a working plan, and though we have a direction, there is always room for improvements and considerations along the way. Thanks to all those that have expressed such a high interest in this topic, it is through your feedback that I have decided to carry on this series of articles.
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“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health. And are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” – Wendell Berry
Growing a garden and taking control of your own personal agriculture might be the most important thing you can do for yourself and for the planet.
The way we produce food in the modern world is broken and people are waking up to the shortfalls of our food system and the reality that “food” is being manufactured for profit, not nourishment. Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia.
According to USDA data, crops such as broccoli and wheat are showing a 50% decline in key nutritional components in the last 50 years. Food system emissions account for up to 29% of the total greenhouse gas emissions and the average meal travels an estimated 1,500 miles to our plates. In fact, the large majority of the supermarket contains food-like substances that should not qualify as food in the first place!
People are becoming increasingly aware that using toxic chemicals to grow food makes no sense and are learning and asking the right questions about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and other risky conventional methods of agriculture.
The reality is that eating is an agricultural act and we vote for what we want offered in our food system with every bite that we take. The single most potent tool towards making sense of our food system is for every single eater out there to start a food garden.
It doesn’t matter if it is in the front yard, in your closet or a container on the balcony, growing our own food needs to become the rallying cry of the day. Let’s call it The Food Movement, with the focus to grow healthy people, plants and planet.
Even if it is a single tomato plant on the deck, the principle of growing something that you eat is therapeutic and rewarding. Growing a garden is easy to do, but most don’t get started for fear of “screwing it up”. Am I starting the seeds correctly? How do I know when and what to grow? Should I use conventional or organic fertilizer?
The questions become overwhelming and can never end. The fun irony of this sentiment and the secret to learning to grow an amazing garden is in the perspective you hold in your approach and the making of mistakes. Often times it is the “mistakes” that result in the greatest yields!
Remember that plants want to grow. Our job is to nurture the natural systems at hand to get the most out of the garden. A perfect example of this is to consider the living microorganisms that live in your soil that make up what is called the “soil food web”.
Just like in the ocean, the soil is comprised of varying trophic levels of life. The smallest organisms are called bacteria and they perform the role of the plankton of the soil. They are prey for the higher organisms called fungi, protozoa and nematodes. The importance of this soil food web cannot be overstated, imagine you took the plankton out of the ocean?
In concert with plants that feed them through their roots, microbes make soil. It is the responsibility of these microbes to self-organize into a system of symbiosis with surrounding plants to help them eat, protect them from disease, and recycle organic matter into perfect plant food.
Consider that, in the forest, the trees don’t eat the leaves that fall, but what the microbes make of them. This is what we call “composting”. It should be happening everywhere, not just in the compost bin.
In keeping with the forest analogy, consider that the forest grows trees without any fertilizer. The reason is that the soil is at least 100 years biologically mature and the soil has never been killed through development or use of toxic artificial biocides and fertilizer.
In short, the more biologically active the soil, the less we are required to fertilize.
It is not possible to fertilize your soil into health. Fertilizer is a crutch. In fact, if you are using artificial fertilizer you are taking advantage of your soil. It’s really no different than fast food for plants, and we all know what happens when we eat fast food for every meal.
The most potent way to grow your soil is brewing compost tea. Compost tea is a concentration of compost created by aerating water and presenting microbes from good compost with organic fertilizers; such as molasses, fish, kelp, etc. In the presence of air and food, the microbes grow to extraordinary concentrations.
Compost tea is very easy to make and can be brewed using your own compost, as long as you properly inoculate the pile with a broad diversity of microbes.
Unfortunately, soil in the average landscape has been significantly disturbed through development and chemical abuse, so it cannot be taken for granted. Microbes move micrometers in their lifetimes, they don’t jump over the fence. So if they are not deliberately added, most times they are not present.
On the positive side, this helps explain many of the typical gardening issues you may encounter with pests and disease. A healthy garden self-regulates, it checks pests and disease with beneficial bugs and microbes.
The truth is that growing a garden should always get better with time. It is only when we use an artificial approach when this is not true. So our goal should be to grow our soil, not our plants.
Remember that the only true metric for success is the quality and yield of your plants. The healthier perspective you hold towards living systems the healthier your garden will be.
What you think, you grow.
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It’s silly, I know, to humanize plants, seedlings and seeds, but with so much information out there, much of it contradictory and most of it ‘ticklist’, it’s something that helps my little mind prioritize and it sorts things out in my head. Sow in March directly into moist raked soil – says the packet. Well what if it’s still cold in March? What if there’s not enough oomph in my soil? Obviously you need a degree of knowledge for successful growing of crops, but empathy, and connecting with an intrinsic common sense, goes a long way. One of my tools is to treat my seedlings like I would any little person, and if you listen and watch hard enough, the answer is often there.
After all, I’m spending a lot of time with these little fellas, they are getting a lot of attention, both in terms of how much they get from me, and how their performance reflects on me professionally, so they become ‘my girls’.
The tomatoes are important at Pattendens (my main place of work). The clients eat a lot of them. 4 varieties this year, 3 cordon and 1 bush, and they have already been pricked out and potted on, this is an important step – they sit on propagators, so I am always keen to get them potted up as soon as the seed leaves are unfurled. Having their own pot means they are able to grow away without getting spindly in the race for more light with their mates, also the tendency for the whole pot to dry out is increased if we have a number of seedlings in one pot.
Aubergines and Melons have been moved on in exactly the same way – all now sit individually in a heated propagator, the first perilous part of their journey to fruition completed. Moisture levels are checked regularly – not too much or too little – a balancing act for me as I only get to visit twice a week, although I will pop in midweek if I feel the need. It’s a bit like having a small baby, high inputs at this point, but it does get easier.
I leave the watering can on the propagation mat in the greenhouse. It warms the water nicely so my girls don’t get a cold shower. Instead the watering becomes ‘a treat’ – a warm watering from a fine rose. A cold soaking every now and again might not impede germination and growing on fully, but I can’t help but feel it doesn’t help. I try to leave as much space between plants, to enable airflow and eradicate the build up of disease, I am giving them the room to grow – just as I stand away from my daughters and allow them to explore and grow without their embarrassing dad too close.
I will find different spaces within these protected environments for plants and seedlings with different needs. I am always attempting to ‘read’ what is going on and then act on those conclusions.
Past the danger of mice?
Out in the garden, I am doing similar work. Old bits of glazing go down on the soil, ready for sowing. This will warm the earth beneath, giving any subsequent sowings a better chance of ‘getting away’ – like baby turtles hurtling to the waves, so germination will be the first big test and I will be there to nurture and aid. We have mice at Pattendens, too – and I don’t like to put down poison, though I wouldn’t be averse to a cat or two in this space. But I have to think differently if I want peas (and I do). It appears, after a few years of wrestling with the problem of mice eating my peas before they get going, that the solution is to germinate them indoors and plant them as small plants. The pea before germination appears to be the treat – not the small plant (that appears to be pigeon fodder – but nothing a little chicken wire doesn’t fix.) And the broad beans, whilst being a very easy baby, requiring little care and being happy plunged into cold Autumn soil, will turn into a gangly juvenile. Hazel coppice crafted into a support structure will protect these youths from getting too ‘leggy’ and the inevitable flopping, just like a drunk sixteen year old not understanding his limits.
It’s useful, at least for me, to think like this when dealing with plants that we annually grow for crops – they require care and attention, and the inputs are pretty large. If we think like this, it becomes less of a to do list and more natural. I have had clients and friends quite fairly say that the price of fruit and vegetables are so low, that it makes no sense to grow your own, and to an extent they are right – but that argument misses the main points. Yeah – it’s a hassle, if you’re not naturally inclined to grow stuff (actually, I believe we are ALL naturally inclined – it’s just that we’ve forgotten over the centuries) and modern life gets in the way of nurturing something to fruition – there is often something that feels more urgent or important to do, and we have instant gratification everywhere. BUT if we swing the thinking around a little (or a lot) and looking after a tomato plant, or a row of spuds can be life changing. Bear with me.
The reason growing your own is so special is because it is not always easy. Like life itself, supporting a rubbish football team and going through adversity, you come through stronger, more philosophical and more able to deal with the future. You also learn how to grow good food, which is no small thing – especially in this uncertain world. It’s a learning curve you will never master, you will be forever a student because, for all the advice and books and courses, and maybe even this blog, mistakes will be made. Anyone that says different is almost certainly fibbing. Growing food will always throw you a curve ball – because that’s intrinsic in the nature. It’s why commercial agriculture uses so many ‘weapons’ to curtail the chances of those curve balls – of course, in the long term, some might say those practices are storing up one whoopass problem in the not too distant future, but maybe that’s for another day. The point is that growing food is an experience that can help the individual grow and heal. Nature can be read, and this is a intense course. The advantages of growing your own are actually infinitesimal- it’s healthier both for you and the planet. It’s also tastier. In the end, it can be cheaper, though certainly not at first, but the real bonus is a connection with your piece of earth, and the mental gymnastics and common sense practiced to perform to coax life and food from it. This allows philosophical thought and an escape from the vast amounts of bull shit that is heaped upon us every day. It connects us with the rythms of nature and unearths the meaning in things. It cuts through the noise and creates peace. Of course that’s until you get potato blight or Carrot root fly. Nobody said bringing up kids was easy!
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