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A Big Bang for Big Soil

Part 2 of The Cosmos, the Earth, and Your Health – The Story of Soil [This is the second in a series of articles about how soil is formed and its link to health and nutrition.] Where does soil come from? In keeping with the big-picture perspective of this series, let’s tackle that question from the […] The post A Big Bang for Big Soil appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

The Cosmos, the Earth, and Your Health: The Story of Soil

“Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.” With these words, the ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes taught us the power of leverage points. It’s a key concept in permaculture design, too. When we deeply understand the system we’re working with—be it a garden, a business, a […] The post The Cosmos, the Earth, and Your Health: The Story of Soil appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Workshop Registration Deadline: June 1st

NOTE: This event has been cancelled If you have been considering signing up for the June workshop at our farm, we still have seats available for this two day event.  However, in order to plan our event we have set a registration deadline of June 1st.  If you are thinking about coming, you’ll need to sign up before date. Learning the skills that will be covered from our host of instructors will save you the time and pain in learning to be your own butcher, and show you how to confidently and successfully raise your own animals.  The meat in your freezer will be of higher quality and quantity due to having gained the skills and confidence over these two days rather than through trial and error on your own.  On top of that, we’ll simply have a blast during our two days together here at the farm! You can read all about this workshop and see for yourself the value that is jam packed into these two days.  To see the complete schedule for the workshop, checkout our weekend itinerary page. The cost for this workshop is only $375/person or $725/couple, but please note spaces are limited.  Please visit our registration page for complete details. For additional details including where our farm is located, lodging options, directions, on-farm policies, etc. you can visit our general information page. We look forward to seeing you in June at this fun, exciting, learning filled event!  For questions please email us directly.   The post Workshop Registration Deadline: June 1st appeared first on Darby Simpson.    

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Introducing: The Grass Fed Life Podcast

As many of you know, I had the pleasure of being asked to be a presenter this past March at PV3 in San Diego.  In addition to speaking at PV3, another opportunity was extended to me from Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices. Diego asked if I would be interested in doing a weekly podcast with him this season in which he follows our farm week by week from April thru November.  I love to speak and teach, and jumped at this new opportunity to share an in depth look into our farming lifestyle. On April 4th, 2016 the first episode of “Grass Fed Life” debuted on the Permaculture Voices podcast and was downloaded over 3,000 times in the first 24 hours (extremely humbling to say the least).  Since then, three additional episodes have been released covering a broad range of topics from the nuts and bolts of pastured poultry to the ins and outs of farmer’s markets and how we plan our whole farming season. So far the feedback on the show has been fantastic, and I’m having a great time doing it with Diego.  He asks such great, insightful questions that really prompt me to dig deep and think.  As a result, we’ve had some great conversations that many listeners have found to be very helpful. Please take a moment to check out the Grass Fed Life podcast.  Also, please consider supporting what Diego is doing with PV by contributing to keep the content both free and void of commercials.  You can contribute as little as $1/month, equaling only .05/episode.  I’m pretty sure there is at least a nickels worth of advice in each podcast on Permaculture Voices! There is a new show every Monday, all season long and we’ll cover a broad range of topics – topics that don’t get discussed in this space nearly enough (or at all) and need to be.  So tune in, have a listen and give us some feedback. One final note:  I’m doing this podcast because I love to teach, and I want you to be successful.  It will be a long farming season, come along for the ride with us each week.  I hope that you learn something new and can apply this knowledge to your own farming endeavors.   The post Introducing: The Grass Fed Life Podcast appeared first on Darby Simpson.  

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Meat Production & Butchering Workshop!

We have put together a spectacular workshop on our farm for June 10-11 that will show you everything you need to successfully raise and butcher poultry, pork and rabbit on your homestead.  While the information presented will be aimed at personal production, all of the information and mechanics are scale-able for those interested in starting a profitable business.  But don’t take our word for it, take a look at what one of our students had to say from our 2015 workshop: Instructors at the workshop will include Darby Simpson (Simpson’s Farm Market), Greg Burns (Nature’s Image Farm), Patrick Rhoerman (MT Knives) and others including local homesteaders Seth Ross and Andy Higginbotham.  You’ll also get to meet Rob Kaiser of Deliberate Living Systems who will emcee our barter blanket session at the end of our event. The two day workshop will include the following (and much more): Eight hours of classroom instruction that include: Raising pastured meat broilers How to build a chicken tractor How to make and assemble a poultry killing cone Raising pastured pork Low-cost infrastructure for pigs Breeding and raising pastured rabbits How to make and assemble a rabbit tractor Proper selection of knives for butchering How to properly sharpen and maintain knives Costs associated with all of the above Eight hours of on-farm instruction that includes: How to butcher chickens (broilers and old laying hens) How to process a hog from start to finish How to butcher rabbits Required equipment for all of the above An exhaustive tour of Darby Simpson’s farm where you can see everything up close and in action for yourself A spiral bound notebook of all presentations given that will also include lots of how-to photos.  This valuable reference material is yours to keep and take notes in as we go thru each presentation.  You’ll have it on your bookshelf to reference once you return home! We’ll also be providing all three meals for each of the two days with GOOD FOOD (all local and/or organic in nature) that will be prepared by local chef Joshua Henson (Fermenti Artisan).  The food will include all meats raised by Simpson’s Farm Market, local/chemical free veggies and fruits, homemade dessert, snacks, bottled water and locally roasted organic coffee (Harvest Cafe). Two nights of informal campfire chats with all of our presenters in addition to our weekend finale:  the barter blanket!  If you have never attended a “barter blanket” then you are in for a real treat.  This session will be hosted by Rob Kaiser of Deliberate Living Systems who has attended other TSP/PermaEthos events and is a TSP Barter Blanket veteran! The barter blanket is just that:  A place to barter goods and services with all of the other attendees you’ve just spent the weekend getting to know.  Typically, the event host will open up the festivities by offering something of value that anyone can bid on.  After hearing all of the offers, they can accept their favorite deal or decline all together.  Whoever wins the first item then has the floor to present the next item to barter.  This continues until everyone is done bartering and it can last several hours.  You’ll often find side deals going simultaneously as well, which is completely allowed and encouraged. Examples of barter items are:  silver, seeds, plants, gear (tactical stuff, flashlights, etc), professional services, vacation stays in a guest house, homemade goods (soaps, foods, household items), ammo, HAM radio gear, etc.  Please feel free to bring as many items as you would like for the barter blanket! Cost: The cost for this workshop is only $375/person or $725/couple, but please note spaces are limited.  Please visit our registration page for complete details. To see the complete schedule for the workshop, checkout our weekend itinerary page. For additional details including where our farm is located, lodging options, directions, on-farm policies, etc. you can visit our general information page. We look forward to seeing you in June at this fun, exciting, learning filled event!  For questions please email us directly. The post Meat Production & Butchering Workshop! appeared first on Darby Simpson.
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Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

A Permaculture Guide to Choosing Cover Crops

One of my constant refrains is “Permaculture is a decision making tool for arriving at regenerative solutions.” Here I’m going to show how permaculture can help create strategies for deciding what cover crops to use. In permaculture, we’re always looking for potent leverage points, and soil-building is a big one. If we create fertile, water-absorbing, […] The post A Permaculture Guide to Choosing Cover Crops appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 5

This article will wrap up the series on Farmer’s Markets which has covered the Market Master, location, timing of the market and how you can research a market before taking the plunge.  Today I’ll focus on how you know it’s time to pull the plug as well as some additional thoughts on markets in general. Lets face it:  Not every market is going to work out. That has been the case for us and the reasons for leaving have been various.  If all you hear is price, price, price, price….you are at the wrong market and need to make a change.  We were once recruited to a mid size market of about 35 vendors on the Northwestside of Indy and it appeared to be a perfect fit for us. There were two things in particular that really drew my attention to this market:  First they did not have a steady meat vendor, which meant that while this was a smaller pond, we would be the only fish in that pond.  Second, this particular suburb has the highest income per capita in the state of Indiana!  And to polish it all off, we had a few customers on that edge of town that wanted us there as well. What could go wrong?  Well, as it turned out there was plenty to go wrong. The first issue we ran into were the sales hours, as the market was only open for three hours each Saturday.  If you spend all that time to pack, drive, setup, tear down, drive home and unpack you want as much time under that tent each week as possible.  Three hours cut our sales by potential by 25% right from the get go.  We knew going in that this could be an issue but we proceeded on anyhow. Also, the market didn’t start until mid May and wrapped up at the end of September.  Most Saturday markets in our area run from the first week of May thru the end of October, giving you a full six months of sales at that market.  This compliments our winter market time frame nicely and keeps us in front of customers 50 out of 52 Saturday’s per year.  But this scheduling structure cut the length of the sales season by 25%! Next, the city owned the lot that the market operated out of and shut down the market about 10:00 a.m. once per month for a festival, carnival, parade, etc so that they could have the additional parking required for said event.  Every time we turned around, our potential sales hours were nibbled away until there was so little left that it simply didn’t make the effort worthwhile. Lastly, and we could have never seen this coming, all we heard up there was how we were more expensive than Kroger and Marsh Supermarkets.  Seriously, this city is loaded with wealthy business people who easily have the means to support local food but just chose not too.  And in addition to this curve-ball, what we witnessed once there was that this was a social gathering and not a shopping excursion.  Ladies dressed to the nines came out and bought cut flowers, a bag of pasta, and a couple tomatoes while drinking a cup of coffee and eating a danish.  They weren’t there for real food, that simply wasn’t the culture and I wasn’t about to stick around to try and change that. It was blatantly obvious that the market leadership had no desire to move the location, change the hours or fix any of the other issues we discovered.  Even though we did our due diligence in research, or so we thought, sometimes you just hit a dud.  If you find this to be the case, don’t be afraid to finish up your commitment and simply find a new market to do the following year.  If it is really terrible, then consider pulling out immediately if you can get into another market mid season.  You just never now until you try and again, if you don’t fail here and there then you probably aren’t trying hard enough. You may also find yourself wondering if a once good farmers market is worth continuing to attend if you see a major drop in sales due to mismanagement, a change of venue, over crowding of similar products you are selling, etc.  Just about the time you get things figured out, things change and this can happen for the worse.  You’ll need to continually reassess your options and how your existing markets are doing in order to remain profitable and viable.  Marketing is a fluid and moving target and you have change with the times to stay ahead of the curve. Some additional considerations: Only you will be able to decide for yourself what the allowable travel time is to a farmers market to make it worth your while to attend.  But it is my opinion that even if you have to drive one and a half hours each way (or more) you can probably justify the time spent for a good farmers market.  You will also want to find out what insurance requirements you need to meet in order to sell at a particular market, and what permits might be required by the city or county in which it is located in.  Know that at many markets in our litigation happy society you can’t sell if you don’t have liability insurance for not only yourself, but for the market entity as well.  The market master should be able to easily answer all of these questions for you. Also, ask what the fees are for a booth space on a weekly and seasonal basis and don’t let a bigger number scare you.  Often times, you get what you pay for!  If a market only charges $50 for an entire season, expect $50 worth of management and marketing in return!  If they charge $350-$500 for the season, then ask how those funds are allocated.  The markets we attend use those funds to hire a part time market master that does a great job of managing the market and all of its functions which in the end benefit our business and bottom line greatly.  They also use a lot of those funds for advertising and marketing efforts.  $500 to attend a top-notch market is a drip in the bucket from my perspective, that investment will pay itself back ten fold if it is well run.  It also helps to dissuade the re-sellers and hobbyists from attending, and what you end up with are a solid core of full-time farmers and unique artisan products that draw customers in. While farmers markets are not for everyone it is absolutely the fastest way for you to come into contact with a great number of consumers who are looking for the type of product you have for sale. This is the best format I’m aware of to build a large customer base that you can market all of your products to through the use of a free email list and a top-notch website.  While farmers markets are not the only means to sell thru, you should give them ample consideration before deciding to pass.  If you want to capture every possible dollar of profit, this is a great way to do just that.   The post Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 5 appeared first on Darby Simpson.  

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 4

So far in this series I have covered various components of how to select a farmer’s market worthy of your time, energy and money.  I’ve covered how a Market Master is the single most pivotal individual at the market, how location is key to sales and why the day and time the market is held matters so much.  In part four of this series, we’ll cover why the market should marketing for you and what research you can do ahead of time to help choose the best option for your business. Marketing A huge aspect of farmers markets that is often overlooked is that of marketing. You need to dig deep and ask a lot of questions about what any potential market is going to do to help you be successful. You should be doing everything you possibly can do market yourself, but what are they doing to market themselves and hence you? One of the markets that we attend works with local businesses to sponsor a gift certificate giveaway once per month. On that Saturday morning the first 300 shoppers who walk through the door receive a five dollar gift certificate token that can be spent with any vendor in the market. This is a huge draw for shoppers! They show up early and on fire to go shopping just because they have a free $5 token in the hand. You wouldn’t believe how that changes the entire chemistry of the market. You’ll also want to make certain that they have an excellent web, e-mail and social media presence. They should be actively promoting their vendors and what products that can be found at the market, especially seasonally available products. The same market mentioned above sends out a weekly e-mail indicating which vendors will be in attendance, and highlights one of them each week in great detail. This helps shoppers to build a relationship with those vendors. Is a perspective market going to consistently ask you what product you’ll have in stock so they can pitch that to their audience in they days leading up to when you’ll have something available? Also consider any advertising they might do on behalf of the market. Ask what kind of marketing budget they have and how is it allocated. Ask if they seek out sponsors in order to increase revenue for additional marketing efforts. Research! If it all possible prior to applying and attending a market I would encourage you to do some reconnaissance work. Take your family out on a Saturday morning and walk through a handful of farmers markets that you are considering applying to. Consider the following as you stroll about in the market:  How busy are they? Do you see a wide variety of products available for sale? Are there lots of actual farmers there, accented by artisan vendors like locally roasted coffee, baked goods, raw honey and mushrooms? Do they have not only veggie farmers, but local small fruits and orchards as well? Are the other vendors happily engaging in conversation with shoppers? Is there an information table that is operated by market staff where shoppers can get their questions answered? Do they have a hospitality tent were shoppers can elect to sit down and drink a cup of coffee or some prepared food they have just purchased from vendors at the market? What is the overall feel and ambience of the farmers market? Do you see any amenities like live music or kids activities? Is it a market you yourself would want to attend and shop at? What are the hours of operation? Is it logistically easy to walk around and see what products are available? Is the product you are raising underserved at this market or saturated? How many weeks is it open? A well run and busy farmers market will be Open from the first week in May to the last week of October. Conversely, a good winter market will situate itself to be open from sometime in November thru April when the outdoor markets are closed. In warmer climates, and outdoor market should be open nearly year round. You also want to inquire of the market master how they balance the number of vendors from each niche that are allowed into the market. There are two modes of thought that I have on this subject. One market we attend in the summer on Saturday mornings is so large and so well attended that the market staff operate it on a true free market basis. In short if you apply to the market and your products qualify for sale at that market you are allowed in – period. There is no discretion given to how many tomato vendors are there or meat vendors or people selling flowers etc. All of that said this market is so popular that seniority is used to divvy out the permanent spots at the beginning of each season. As such a new vendor may not get a permanent spot and may have to move around from week to week for the first season or two. However in time you can earn enough seniority that you get to select a permanent spot at the beginning of the season. Now this may not sound like a great way to run a farmers market, but in this case it works just fine due to sheer numbers. An average Saturday in the summer might see 5000 to 7000 people walk through this market in only five hours. With that kind of foot traffic there are ample customers for all 100 vendors that might be in attendance. The other aspect of how a smaller market might be run in which there is much less attendance is to make certain that there is a balance of vendors allowed to attend. Another market we attend on Saturday mornings usually has about 45 to 50 vendors. And on an average Saturday we might see 2000 people walk through this market in four hours. Since this market is smaller and there are less customers, they pay very close attention to the number of vendors from each niche that they’ll allow to participate each season. If you have too many of one niche, that can cause the sales to be divvied up so much that it becomes not worthwhile for all of them to attend. Any good market worth it’s salt is going to have hard concrete data they can give you as a perspective vendor when you ask these questions. As the market grows, they can add additional vendors based on sales data you provide and requests from shoppers of that market. To that end, you should inquire if the market conducts surveys of not only its vendors but also its shoppers and if it is constantly tweaking the makeup of the market to meet demand. Something else I would strongly encourage you to do while you are out investigating markets is to carefully interview the other vendors who sell there. Be courteous and observe when a vendor is not busy with a customer, and then ask if you can pick their brain about the pros and cons of that market. Do yourself a favor though if you are selling pastured meats, and pick the brain of a chemical free veggie guy, baker or value added food vendor. Because in that conversation you are going to get asked what it is you will be selling, and if you tell a meat guy you are selling meats you may not get all straight answers! Ask them how well attended the market is and ask them if the customers who attended are actually there to shop. While there should be a healthy social aspect of any farmers market, I have seen markets that are so social people are there to be seen by their friends instead of there to purchase real food. No market is perfect and you will have to do your own research, but there are a lot of key little things to consider when choosing a market. And make no mistake about it, you can do all the research in the world and think that you have found a real gem of a market to attend that is underserved in your niche and have it fall flat on it’s face. This is one area where I don’t mind telling you that if you don’t fail you are probably are not trying hard enough. Finding a good market and a good fit for your business is a bit like fishing – you just have to keep throwing lines in the water until you catch a good one. That being said, it does take time to build up a clientele at a market. Expect to spend two or three seasons at a good, well established, busy market before you really start to get things rolling. The lesson here is not to give up too soon and give it some time to develop. Once you think you have found a winner, apply with zeal! Give them every reason you can think of to bring in your farm as a vendor. Supply references, offer product samples, talk about the environmentally friendly aspects of how you farm. You need to sell yourself well in many cases to get into a well established, highly sought after market. And if you don’t get in the first time, take it with class and keep trying each year. Ask to be placed on a waiting list or as a fill in vendor and don’t give up. Be pleasant and communicate with the Market Master that you understand and are willing to wait until they can work you in. You need to be open to selling at a second tier market until you get your shot at a larger market, but remember that is okay! If a market is that tough to get into, then it’s a place you want to be and is worth waiting on.   The post “Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 4” appeared first on Darby Simpson.

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 3

Late last year, I kicked off a series on selecting a farmer’s market.  In part one I discussed the most pivotal part of any market:  The Market Master.  In part two I covered how location can play a much larger role than you might think towards the success of a market. While summer markets may seem like they are a long way off, applications for those markets could be due as soon as the end of January!  You should be doing your research now to determine which markets you’ll apply to.  And while you are thinking about which market to select, the next thing to consider when choosing a market is what time of day and what day of the week it is open. Attending a market for six months or more takes a tremendous amount of energy, do your best to make certain you are not spending that energy in vain and that it is well worth the investment of time and money. Trust me when I tell you that I have tried every type of market possible in terms of variation in the time it was open and the day of week it was open. Again while there are exceptions to any rule, generally speaking your best bang for the buck is going to be to attend a busy market that is open on Saturday morning from 8:00 a.m. until at least 12:00 noon. In my experience markets that are open on weekdays simply do not do very well, but I’m sure there are some out there that are just the opposite. The ones I have attended do okay and when you’re first starting out you may have to do a midweek market in order to get your customer list built up, or in order to increase cash flow for the sake of running your business. You might also not have any other options if all of the Saturday markets are full with vendors in your niche, which is a distinct possibility. If you go and do a midweek market and only earn $300 to $400 that may not sound like much, but over the course of six months you could be looking at $6,000 to $8,000 in income. Long term, that is a drip in the bucket for a full-time farming income but in the short term it is huge. This is exactly how we started out at farmers markets before graduating to Saturday markets! If you have the time and energy to do a midweek market by all means explore that option. But your long-term goal should be to attend two or three prime time markets that are held on Saturday mornings. If you offer a delivery route option to customers during the week, then picking up a mid-week market located in the same general area could be extremely advantageous. Just realize that you’ll be investing an entire day into marketing and that you or someone have to care for the critters back home at some point. Early on, Wednesday was by far my longest day of the week. I would wake up at 4:00 a.m., go out and do animal care then run back in to clean up for market. I would pack my coolers and head out by 7:30 a.m. to be in downtown Indy by 8:15 a.m. I wouldn’t get back home and unpacked until about 3:30 p.m., precisely the time I had to back out and take care of the animals again. By 6:00 p.m. that night I was beat! But alas, the kids need attention and there are e-mails to return, marketing to be done, etc. Choose your battles carefully!  If you don’t, you’ll never make it to the finish line.   The post Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 3 appeared first on Darby Simpson.

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Mats and Nets – Patterns from the Dunes

“I reckon you know what you got into,” Hank says. . . . “A devil’s stovepipe, I guess.” “Yeah. . . . You see, bub, this here was a pine forest a long, long time ago. These dunes didn’t useta be here, just trees. But the winds kept bankin’ the sand higher and higher and […] The post Mats and Nets – Patterns from the Dunes appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Consultation Sale: Limited Spots Available

If you have been considering signing up for a one-on-one consult with me, this is a great time to jump on board!  I have decided to run a promotion for two different consults:  You can sign up for a two hour session and receive a 20% discount, or a 4 hour session to get a 25% discount. In every consultation I do, it is custom tailored to one person:  you.  The form you fill out for our time together is very strategically thought out so that we can make the most of your time and money so as to focus on what you need assistance with.  Be it infrastructure and production, to marketing and cash flow planning, or anything in between it is all about you, your farm and your specific situation.  A consultation is a great investment into your farming operation that will save you way more money and time than you spend on it.  But don’t just take my word for it, read thru some of the testimonials on my website to see what others are saying. However, there are only 5 slots for the 4 hour session and 10 slots for the 2 hour session available.  And once they are sold out, they are gone!  There is only one catch, the consult must take place in either January or February of 2016.  You don’t have to use all of the time at once, but simply use it all in the allotted time frame. If you are ready to sign up, simply fill out the consultation form on my website and I’ll be in touch to get our time together scheduled.   The post Consultation Sale: Limited Spots Available appeared first on Darby Simpson.  

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Interview With Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices

Recently, I sat down and recorded an hour long interview with Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices.  The conversation was a blast, and we covered everything from how we started farming in 2007 to what our operation looks like today.  We discussed the transitional period while I was working full-time off farm, and dealing with the startup phase of our operation simultaneously.  We also talked about how difficult and stressful that time was, as well as the many blessings that come from this type of lifestyle. I think that this interview will give anyone who listens to it an excellent view into what farming full time is really like.  If you have ever wondered “how” I got my start, you’ll find this chat with Diego very informative and a bit entertaining.  As a teaser there is also some really exciting news at the end, but you’ll have to listen for yourself to discover what that is! You can listen to the interview at Permaculture Voices, and be certain to chime in afterwards and let me know your thoughts.   The post Interview With Diego Footer of Permaculture Voices appeared first on Darby Simpson.  

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Becoming Pattern Literate

(Author’s note: The following is an excerpt from a draft of book in progress, called Pattern Literacy, which is my effort to describe how pattern understanding can help us solve problems and appreciate and grasp nature’s workings more deeply. I wrote roughly 5 chapters of this book and set it aside to write The Permaculture […] The post Becoming Pattern Literate appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 2

Recently I kicked off a new series on how to find and select a good farmer’s market.  In part one of this series, I discussed the Market Master and how they play one of the biggest roles in a markets success, or demise.  In part two, we’re going to delve into some logistics to consider when you are out looking for the best market to sell your products at. Back in high school I took a basic entrepreneurial class and one of the main lessons from that course still sticks with me to this day. It was true then and it is true now, and it applies to not only a farmers market, but all other brick and mortar businesses as well.  The top three things needed for success at a farmers market are as follows: Location. Location. Location. While there are always exceptions to the rule, by and large and successful market will be located in a busy urban area. It will need to be settled amongst lots of upper middle-class neighborhoods and be located along a busy roadway with great visibility to the public. While I think it is fantastic that many smaller communities are attempting to establish their own farmers markets to promote local food, the reality is (at least in our experience) that you must travel to a large urban area with a large populace in order to make a farmers market worthwhile. What we have found is that nothing can make up for sheer numbers of potential customers walking thru a farmers market. We have also found price not to be an issue at most of the markets we do in larger urban areas, but there are exceptions. Conversely, markets located in outlying towns tend to draw shoppers who are very focused on price. If you continually hear how much cheaper Wal-Mart and Kroger are, you are in the wrong place! Fortunately for us we are located only about 45 minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. There are a fair number of larger urban neighborhoods like I have described within Indianapolis that have busy farmers markets to attend. Your nearest large metropolitan area is going to be no different. We are also only about 35 minutes from Bloomington, Indiana which is where Indiana University is located. The Bloomington farmers market is something to behold as it can host up to 110 vendors on a Saturday morning and provides us with a second viable farmers market to attend during the summer months. The final issue to consider when looking at the location of any market is ease of access. You will want to make sure that there is ample free parking for customers to attend any market you participate in. Proximity to customers, ease of access and ample parking or all key things to consider when selecting a market. If there isn’t much parking available, then seek to find out if the market is well attended by those within walking or biking distance. One market in Indy that we do not attend has very little parking and no visibility from the main street nearby. It’s limited to only forty-eight vendors and the logistics are terrible. That said, it’s in a very hip area of Indy and those who live nearby walk and bike to this market in droves. There are no shortage of vendors on the waiting list attempting to get in because it is so busy and well attended. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule but by and large I think our experience will hold true for most markets.   The post “Selecting A Farmer’s Market – Part 2” appeared first on Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

Darby Simpson

 

Flowing Toward Abundance

Over the last year or so, a neighbor has stocked up eight or ten piles of firewood in his yard, probably fifteen or twenty cords. What’s he going to do with it all? The house has a wood stove, but the family mostly uses the furnace, and burns wood only occasionally to get that cozy, […] The post Flowing Toward Abundance appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Join me for The Search for Sustainability

I was recently interviewed for a new documentary series that also features 48 other uplifting voices speaking on the crises we face and their possible solutions. The series will broadcast Nov 1-12. I encourage you to visit this web page for the details: https://su208.isrefer.com/go/sustainabilityhome/a789 Topics covered include: • Taking back control of our food, health, water, and […] The post Join me for The Search for Sustainability appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Finding the Land that’s Right for You

At some point almost every permaculturist thinks about getting onto a piece of land. And we all have to live someplace, except for the hardcore nomads among us. How do you choose land to live on from a permaculture perspective? Whether it’s big acreage or a town lot, intelligently evaluating the fit between you and […] The post Finding the Land that’s Right for You appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Checking all the boxes at Singing Frogs Farm

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” These words from permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison rang in my ears recently as I toured Singing Frogs Farm near my home in Sebastopol, California. Owners Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser may have found solutions for some of the planet’s most urgent and […] The post Checking all the boxes at Singing Frogs Farm appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

 

Permaculture: The Design Arm of a Paradigm Shift

Here’s how it happened to me: Back in 1990 I was playing hooky from my unsatisfying biotech job in Seattle by browsing the homesteading shelves in the public library. I pulled down a thick black book I hadn’t seen before called Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual. As I perused the pages, suddenly my previously fragmented life […] The post Permaculture: The Design Arm of a Paradigm Shift appeared first on Toby Hemenway.
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TobyHemenway

TobyHemenway

Trapping for Winter Survival or All Around for Food, Fur and Fun. Part 1

Trapping can be a huge topic. There are many reasons one might construct different traps for any living thing. I began my trapping research because I see that, for winter survival, trapping skills and equipment could be a huge asset. It can supply supplemental income to a homestead. It can supply insulation, in the form of fur clothing and bedding. But the amount of food you can put in the freezer or storage, when you combine trapping with hunting and fishing, could be incredible and the difference between starving and surviving. One man could certainly feed several people to even supplying a good amount to a community. Trapping items could make great barter goods. One might want to live trap and release just to see the inhabitants of his property up close and to learn more about the animals. Finally, one might trap to get rid of nuisance animals. This will be the first article of about five in this series. Some of this series will seem basic but it’s to set a frame of mind. Some will seem simplistic to those that already know trapping to some extent. I base what I say in this article on research, not experience. Feel free to comment and correct me, if I’m wrong. Mainly, in this series, I want to lay out an outline or guide in which to introduce and give the reader a good starting point on where to begin his own research. I want to give you some clues and make you think. Hopefully I will entertain a little, as well.
Traps Traps are devices that kill, injure or hold your prey, or any combination thereof. A trap appears to have several basic components. A) Holding/Injure/Kill component B) Trigger (Pan) (C) Force Mechanism (Springs) D) Latching (Also called a “Dog”).  In general, a force is applied to trigger, which unlatches some potential force causing a hold, injury, or kill. Many traps can be made with scrounged materials and simple tools. Using only deadfalls, for example, a man could enter the forest with only a good knife and, using only wood and stone found in the forest, eat quite well. If he had on him a bit of cordage and a few nails, even better. A few fencing staples would make another kind of deadfall or snare. Carry a bit of wire and cordage and snares are a cheap and easy way to procure food. For modern trapping most cheap and homemade trapping methods are illegal for the protection of some animal species or for protection of neighborhood pets. Anything you may want to trap probably is regulated, though there are exceptions in cases of nuisance animals. So be very well aware of the trapping regulations in your area or you would be poaching. In a real survival situation you would, of course, poach. Heck even in an economic downturn you might poach. Of course, if I’m not starving, I’m not poaching and I don’t recommend it. Traps are called sets based on an arrangement or placement. A trap in water is a water set, for example. A trap on land is a land set or perhaps dry set. We have log sets, trail sets, pole sets, mound sets, pocket sets and such. A cubby set is a pen made from any materials such as sticks, logs, stumps, rocks, usually roofed with evergreen boughs. There are limbs sets, and hollow log sets. There are den sets. There are also lucky sets that are spur of the moment improvised sets that might do better than a standard set.  A set with no bait or decoy lure scent is called a Blind Set. A pit style trap might be an exception to the way most traps work where the creature merely falls into the pit or container. There is a plant in the Philippines that traps rodents in its cup shaped flower and then consumes or digests the rodent. Snares and deadfalls are common types of traps. Snares and deadfalls are illegal in most locations. Deadfalls are totally illegal in the state of Arkansas, but snares may be permitted for certain animals if you use a specific type of snare. The main reason these are illegal is because they are mostly indiscriminate. That is, they catch and or kill species they are not intended to be caught. If someone’s pet or livestock ends up in the trap, then you have accidentally killed or injured their property. Deadfalls specifically are kill traps where something heavy, usually wood or stone or a combination, falls on the victim, crushing it. You might recall Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Predator killing the alien with a log deadfall (Actually the log was a weight that operated the spike trap, but it had the same function as a deadfall in that instance). Though snares can be set to hold and not kill many times, they do kill. A snare is a lasso style loop of wire or chord that closes around its victim on a leg, neck, or a combination.  The cool thing about snares and deadfalls is that they can be made with very little investment in tools or materials. Materials for deadfalls, in particular, can be found entirely in the woodlands. What little you may need, such as wire or nails, weighs very little and are easy to pack. However, the deadfalls require a lot of work. This is work that can be done in the off season. It’s good to let these traps sit for months so that they look more natural when trapping time comes along. The wait means that human scent is eliminated until you set them and, at that time, you will be careful to leave as little scent as possible. Leghold traps are another type. These are spring loaded traps that have a jaw which clamps the leg when the animal steps on a pan (flat round trigger). The jaws of these traps are made in different ways. Some have had spiked teeth. Some have had flanges that hand down to prevent the animal from chewing his foot off. Modern jaws have rubber pads that keep the traps from causing too much, if any damage, and thereby only holding the animal until the trapper shows up.
The larger the trap and the stronger the spring makes setting without tools difficult. The best thing to get is a C clamp shaped tool which will compress the spring and hold it until you get the trap set. A friend told me a simple method for keeping springs compressed. Wrap a chord or rope around the springs and keep it wrapped tight as you compress the spring (by standing on the spring). Do not attempt to set traps for larger animals with only your hands, as you might get your hands caught in them.
Kill traps can be a trap, such as deadfalls or snare; however, many are simply spring loaded wire or rods that mash its victim by concentrating a force in a small area. A modern brand is Conibear and some have forces of 650 pounds per square inch(psi)! A tractor trailer fully loaded might only load the road surface with 200 psi or less. This kind of trap is similar to the standard mouse trap everyone is familiar with. A poison might be another kind of kill trap but most likely is illegal, unless used for pest control. Common poisons have been cyanide and the metal arsenic. Poisons or intoxicants have been used for catching fish. Green walnut shells mashed up and ground make a good fish poison. Clove oil has been used as an intoxicant but it’s not cheap in the quantities needed. Net traps are well known to be used in fishing, mainly commercial fishing. Netting is very effective and can be illegal in many cases, such as using gill nets. In Arkansas, if you are on your own land and it’s your lake or pond, you can do what you want with your fish. Fish nets may be used to effectively catch most any living thing.
Nets can be dropped on animals or can be pulled upward and around the animal. A net is a mesh or grid made from some type of strong material that the animal cannot get through or break. In many cases, the animal becomes entangled. This net grid is commonly based on squares but can be of any shape. Nets are generally flexible but do not have to be. Chicken wire is, in effect, a netting. Fencing itself is a kind of netting. Have you ever thought about how a farm is where we keep animals in a 24/7 trap? Constantly trapped and when we need one we just go grab it and kill it. The homestead is a much improved method of trapping and hunting. The animals are born within the trap with little means of escape.
Container traps are box, tube, can, jar,  bucket or barrel traps. These are live traps usually. Make sure when in use you check them often enough so that critters do not die in them from exposure and lack of food water. In Arkansas we can use up to 8 box traps for rabbits with or without a trapping license.  A cage is a stiff net container trap that can be in any shape. Trap walls and doors can be solid or partially open with netting of some kind. Gravity can be used as the trapping force but most especially in the pit style trap. Often a surface is baited and gives under the weight of the animal allowing it to drop into the container. In the case of some pit/container traps the animal risk falling in an attempt to get the bait. Otherwise there are various mechanisms for trigger, latch, spring forces. In one episode of Survivorman, Les Stroud used wide mouthed jars or cans to make pit traps to catch scorpions. He used a tube to catch a large centipede. Pen or corral type traps work good for animals that can be held by fencing such as hogs. An auto feeder can be placed in the pen. Once the animals get used to entering and eating for a period of time all that is needed is to show up and set the trap door or doors. Trapping
There are common concepts and themes in my research on trapping that I have encountered, which I will relate to you. A decoy is anything that attracts the prey (victim) to the trap. Decoys may also be called Lures. Bait could be a decoy but it’s usually just called bait and can be something the animal wants to eat or is otherwise interested in or curious about.  Though bait could be dragged from trap to trap spreading the baits scent in a trail fashion. In hunting a decoy might be a sound such as dying or suffering sound, or a mating call or feeding noise. A decoy in duck hunting is fake wooden or plastic duck. But in trapping it’s referring to a scent or smell. Scents are kept in oil or alcohol. Scents mixed with oil or honey tend to slow evaporation and last longer after application. Some scents are oils such as fish oil or skunk oil. These are rendered fats of the animal. Some scents are from herbs such as oil of anise which is similar in flavor of black licorice or black jelly beans. Honey is another good scent or bait especially for the bear family. In some cases, a scent oil is made by rotting something (meat, fats, commonly fish) in a loosely capped bottle for a few weeks. Then the oil/liquid is poured off into another container and filtered for applying a few drops at a time about a trap. Urine and feces can also be used as decoys. Animals are attracted to their own kind. Household pet urine and feces could be spread about a trap for example. Dog for dog family and cat for cat family. Or an animal that you might want to trap could be held captive where its feces and urine could be collected and then used to trap members of its family and kind. Some scents are from glands of an animal such as beaver castor, skunk scent or musk of Muskrats. As you might imagine coming up with your own scents is dirty smelly work.
Just as you want scent to attract the game, you also want to eliminate, or at least reduce, human sign and sent. As far as elimination of sign, you should leave the area around the trap looking as natural as possible and use a limb to brush out your tracks. Traps should be covered for many types of game though some game pay no attention to the trap and readily step right on the pan or into it. Dig a hole level with ground putting dirt in a sand bag to be removed from trap area. Place some type of soft material under the pan to keep lighter animals from triggering the pan. This can be leaves, moss, wool or cotton balls, hair/fur etc. Place a piece of scrap paper over the trap and pan and lightly cover it with dirt from the sand bag. If it is too clumpy or heavy you might need to bring in something that is lighter. Use leaves, grass, straw or feathers as well to cover the trap.
To eliminate human scent, observe some strict rules in regards to not spitting or urinating near the trap areas. Some scents can be smeared on shoes/boots that overwhelm human scent such as skunk scent. Rubber soled shoes may hold less scent or not allow your scent to leave the inside of the shoe or boot. Also shoe or boot could be wrapped with a skin of some kind such as buck skin or practically any fur from a fur bearer. If you have to get down on your knees a skin such as buckskin can be laid out near where you will dig. Use buckskin gloves when handling and setting traps. Even with all of this effort you may not want to return to the traps the next day as nothing will go near them until all scent fades. Near water areas and water sets you can sprinkle area where you may have left scent with water to wash the scent or dilute it. Using a mount such as a horse/mule/donkey when traveling from trap to trap might be best as well since any sign you leave will be minimal and wild animals are not suspicious of  the scents these animals produce or at least are not as suspicious.
The metal traps have scent as well especially when they are new. They have scent of metals and oils. Trappers for ages boil their traps. They usually make a stew of bark and evergreen leaves and needles or acorns crushed up. Green walnut hulls are good too. These ingredients have an acid in them called tannin. And this is called browning the trap. The traps can also be coated with bees wax which not only covers up scents and protects from rust but lubricates the traps. Blood is also used to coat the traps.
Traps are attached to clogs or grapples which are generally buried along with the trap and chain. In this way the animal is less likely to chew its foot/leg off or injure itself because a clog or grapple acts like a hobble and gives the animal only a little freedom to move about. The clog or grapple usually leaves a trail the trapper may follow to find the victim. A steak can also act as a clog if it is pulled out of the ground and if it is heavy enough. A branch limb can also be used as a clog. The length of chain is sometimes important. Shorter chain is more difficult to yank therefore the animal does less damage to the trap in trying to get free. Yet in water sets the weight of the chain aids in drowning the animal. In water sets a ring on the end of the chain is placed around a pole such that when the critter is caught it immediately tries to swim down and away. It doesn’t realize it can’t go back up and therefore drowns. Its generally preferable to drown animals caught in water sets. This protects the fur and prevents the animal from chewing his foot off. In situations where you don’t want the stake pulled up an earth anchor is used. Stakes or cables with earth anchors are used. In some cases these anchors pivot 90 degrees when the stake is pulled on. A buried clog can serve as earth anchor as well.   Traps should be sized according to the animal you intend to catch. Metal traps are numbered from 0 to whatever the manufacture decides to use. Lower numbers for smaller and larger numbers for larger animals. One size of trap may work for several species and its often that while trapping for one animal you will catch another one. For food or fur this could be a better catch than what the trap was intended to catch. Many times one trap will catch similar types of animals as well. For example when trapping for beaver you might catch otter, mink, muskrat etc. When trapping for coyotes you might catch fox or wolf. When trapping for raccoon you might catch mink, weasel or skunk. And when trapping for bear you might catch a human!  Some traps and trap setups discriminate more than others depending on size, kind and placement etc. By the way its illegal to trap game as large as bear or deer in Arkansas and probably most states. Traps should  be baited based on the species you intend to trap. Some species such as skunks like tainted (rotted) bait. While others like the cats prefer fresh meat. Fish rotted or otherwise is good bait for coons and bear and other critters. Salmon, sardines and about any fish can work. Bait is not always placed on the pan or trap. Sometimes its placed beyond the trap so that the animal must cross the trap in order to reach the bait. Sometimes it is hung in the air or nailed to a tree. In most cases its best to tie the bait to something so that the animal must struggle with it in order to try to obtain it. In doing so the odds are greater that they trip the trigger. One can trap without bait or with only decoy scents. Or you can use decoy scents and bait in combination.  In the case of no bait usually the trap is placed in a path so that the animal in its normal routine steps on or enters the trap. In the case of decoy scent the animal may be curious and try to sniff the scent thereby stepping on the trap. In some cases vegetable is a better bait. Honey comb for bears. Apple, carrot, cabbage for rabbits. Seeds for birds and squirrels. Young shoots or sticks of certain species of trees for beaver.
In many cases with certain kinds of traps it would be good to lift the prey off the ground high enough that nothing but you can get to it. This keeps other animals from eating it and tearing the hide. A spring pole is a green sapling or small tree where the main trunk/branch is bent over almost a full 180 degrees. It should be large enough and strong enough to lift the weight of the prey and the trap off the ground to the desired height. A test could be performed using a sand bag of appropriate weight. Have the trap lift the sand bag as a test. A balance pole is tree trunk or log long where the heavy end is placed beyond a fork in another tree such that when the trigger is released its weight lifts the opposite end via leverage off the ground. Think of the play ground seesaw, fulcrum and lever. A weight such as a sand bag or heavy piece of log or stone could be tied and lifted over a tree limb as a counter balance such that when the trigger is tripped it pulls the prey off the ground to the desired height before hitting the ground itself. Another interesting fish trap that is spring loaded that lifts the fish out of the water is a fishing yoyo. And don’t forget any of these methods could be used to catch and lift fish out of the water.
There are different kinds of triggers and they are difficult to describe in text. “Figure Four” is a common type in setting up deadfalls but there are more types for deadfalls. If using a nail as part of the trigger it should be a finishing type nail or headless. Triggers can be made to trip more easily or less easily depending on how you make them. Ever heard of hair trigger? Like many things this is probably a matter of balance when tweaking the trigger. Not too light a force or heavy a force needed to trip the trigger. Learn some basic types of triggers and then begin learning on variants. In the case of some types snares and deadfalls small nails and fencing staples can come in handy. Your spring poles, balance poles and weights also come in handy as a force applied to the trigger to keep it set. In the metal traps a spring force is applied to the trigger. Just like when the trigger on a gun is depressed causes the gun to action, same for traps. Guns have springs that direct a firing pin or hammer. In the case of the traps the victim is the one depressing the trigger. The next in this series will be on tracking and and more on trapping.

CaverDude

CaverDude

Primal Power Method Bison Chili

Primal Power Method Bison Chile Recipe Here is a tasty recipe created by one of my favorite Primal Power Method followers – Corina Luu   Ingredients 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) Directions 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). Enjoy!   Make sure to stay in touch with Gary by following the links below: Purchase my Primal Power Method books at: Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Gary-Collins/e/B009MSJDD6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
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Primal Power Method Website – http://www.primalpowermethod.com/product-category/books/ Get your free Primal Lifestyle gifts here: http://www.primalpowermethod.com/email/newsletter-signup/ Gary’s Links: Website - http://www.primalpowermethod.com
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Source article is from Primal Power Method

Gary Collins

Gary Collins

Hops - For More Than Just Beer

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.   Soft Hops Yeast Equipment: 3-quart sauce pan 1 quart glass jar with lid small sieve   Ingredients: 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   Process: 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  Ingredients: 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   Optional Glaze: 1 egg 1 tablespoon water   Instructions: 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.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Rosemary

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! Sources: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing, 2001 Rosmarinus Officinalis illustration, from NRCS Plants Database, Britton, N.L. Disclaimer:  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.

Lynn

Lynn

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