Homesteading Is Like The Movie Groundhog’s Day

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On a Farm, basically the same thing happens every year.  The cool part though is that it has variations as you go, and the end result is always satisfying.  We discovered, in this year’s garden, that the spacing recommendations on the packets don’t always hold true.  With our green beans, this was absolutely the case.  We harvested 2, 4×12 beds of green beans and came away with just as many beans as we had in our old garden spaces with a measured seeder.  These beds were hand sown and way too close together.  BUT!  If you add a huge amount of chicken poop, no amount of crowding seems to matter because there is enough nutrient for all involved.  We harvested several bushels of beans that translated to the 41 quarts plus give aways.  This easily matched the old garden yields. We have enough canned green beans to provide beans as a vegetable once a week for over a year.

If you are striving for self-sufficiency, keep in mind that if you have a large organic garden (ours is a half acre of 40 raised beds), when you harvest your produce, you need to know how to store it.  It is an immense job.  I’ve found that no matter what the vegetable, the canning of it takes a whole day.  My last 14 quarts are in the canner as I write this and it is 6 pm.  I started at 9 this morning…. actually it took 3 days. I’ve been cutting off the ends and chopping them into bite sized pieces for the past two days.  Of course, there are all the other chores that don’t disappear.  My friend Eddie, who owned our local feed store, said that no one seems to understand that everything you add to a farm in order to expand, just compounds all of the care taking involved.  Absolutely true.  You need to take care so as to not grow beyond your ability to handle.  Animals are just like children.  Just because you are canning, doesn’t mean the donkeys don’t need feeding or eggs need collecting.  Know your limits.

Tomorrow, pepper harvesting and cleaning the barn.  We have a prego goat that needs a clean nest.  She’s due in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned.  We are guessing (Hoping for) twins.  She is really turning into Mother Waddles.

 

Farming and Hobbies Take Up A Lot Of Time

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So the lesson learned here (tongue in cheek) is that starting a huge weaving project at the same time as seedling starts in the early spring, does not yield quick results.

Tonight I finally got these napkins off the loom!!  I started them right around the time we bred one of our Nigerian Dwarf goats (1st part of April).  It was a warp of 14 yards (friggin huge).  Since that time we built new raised beds, all the hail covers, drip irrigation to the new beds, planted the entire garden, built two new grow out coops, hatched a flock of turkeys, raised and processed meat birds, got two more pigs, built an outdoor worm composting bin, got barrels to create biochar, fixed up a car to take to my kid, have a pregnant goat, hired a very part time farm hand, took care of the critters and the gardens, built new composting bins, built a dog house, dealt with a goat that contracted pinkeye, Zina spent a week in Detroit helping her family out and we still tried to have a little down time. It is now the end of July and the napkins finally came off the loom.  There are 15 of them.  They are about 22×22 inches which makes them the size of a napkin that you would get at a 4 or 5 star restaurant.  They still have to be pre-washed and hemmed but I’m very pleased with the end result.  I have been trying to make extras of patterns I weave so as to build some inventory.  I have half a mind to set up a little booth for the holidays at our local rec center.  No weavers there, so maybe I’d get lucky.  If we keep six for ourselves that means I have two, 4 napkin sets to sell that will go with the table runners and placemats of the same color.  Whadya think?  Will I get Jeff Bezos rich?  How about I just be happy to cover my yarn costs so my hobby pays for itself.  Ya we’ll go with that.  Homesteading ain’t for wimps.

You Have To Graduate Sometime

 

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Imagine it.

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Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.  Be the expert.

So many Homesteader, Small Farmer, Off-Gridders don’t give themselves enough credit.  Admittedly,  most I see are 30 and 40 somethings that have had it with the city, knew nothing about self-sufficiency, but needed to escape Cubicalville.  I get that.  But enough with the self-deprecation!  I know a lot of them, to avoid having to have a job at the same time, are trying to use You Tube and other means to generate incomes.  To that I say, “more power to ya”.  My answer was to work in high anxiety corporate hell until I broke down, and then take the money and run….. plunging it into our Shire.

But enough with the sad sack “We are all just learning and we don’t know what we are doing, we are just sharing our journey with you, tripe!”  As I used to tell my rookies when I was a training manager, that simply by passing the regulatory and licensing exams that have  allowed you to be here, you know more than 95% of the people you will meet and consult with……. act like it!  At some point you need to admit that you know what you are doing.  Admitting to setbacks doesn’t imply stupidity or lack of knowledge.  No amount of knowledge could help you get through the plague of grasshoppers that the folks in Las Vegas are contending with, or the drought that wiped out our gardens last year, or any other unforeseen issues that continually come up.  If you encounter it, it is called problem solving!  It isn’t some Romper Room childish phrasing you hear from the clueless, suburban, BMW driving, bedroom nurseries that “It’s all a learning experience!”  Hack Gag Puke!  That is someone else’s desire to level you down to their ignorance.  At some point you have to put on the big farmer panties and problem solve, adapt and overcome.  It’s not arrogance to say so.  How many tie wearing assholes have you encountered that think their heads are too big for their hats because they can swing a friggin’ golf club?  This is self-sufficiency boot camp.  You don’t get to stay there forever.  At some point you need to go out and be a specialist in your chosen and self appointed mission.  “Learning experience”….. blech!  That’s like getting tongue kissed by your dog!  I guess I won’t be doing THAT again.  See- I learned.  What a wonderful experience.  Tastes like dog ass.

They don’t have graduation ceremonies for this kind of thing so at some point (in our case, 15 + years) you need to walk away from the folks that self-deprecate, put on a robe and tassel, walk across your own stage and say “Yes, we are experts and we know what the hell we are doing”.  After all, even musicians become virtuosos at some point.  In our case, we be rockin’ self-taught, semi-arid climate, vegetable growing, virtuosos!  If you started down this path and you haven’t given up that means you are a problem solver.  It means you have skills.  It means that you can mentor and help.  Just because you were told by society that we should all act like sixth graders, be subservient and use (dear god kill me now) corporate speak (I just thought I’d reach out to you and…..  where’s my AR??!!) , doesn’t mean you need to bring that to your own life of freedom.  Be free.  Revel in your expertise.  Very shortly, you will be in high demand.  Your problem solving skills will be all you have.  JAZ Farmers excel in what they do.  Strap on the overalls and use your brains as well as your rake and shovel.  Let the Citiots all talk like Dick and Jane.  You are passed that now.  You know your food doesn’t just appear in wrappers in a cooler at the Walliemart.  Rise above it.  Don’t slog through it.  Rant Over.  The End.

 

The Harvest Begins!

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After surgery 2 years ago this month, a drought and infestation of grasshoppers last year, a revamping of the raised beds, including hail guards, shade cloth and high pressure water hydrants, the JAZ Farm gardens are performing like they have always been expected to. We adapted and overcame just like farmers have to.  So far we have only had to contend with “normal” gardening annoyances like tomato horn worms (hack, gag, puke!), some grasshopper issues in our cabbages, and – something I never thought I’d say- too much water!  The whole garden is exploding!  Weeds included.  We are going to be manufacturing rope out of the bind weed and see if we can’t find a market for it! LOL.  The baskets shown here are from just one of our bush bean beds.  There is one more ready to be harvested this afternoon so we will be at close to 3 bushels.  We have 2 more that will be ready around the beginning of September.  I guess I’ll be canning tomorrow.  We should be all set on green beans for the coming winter.  Once we pull the bean plants, there will be Cauliflower, more Cabbage, Broccoli and fall onions waiting in the wings.  It’s nice to be back on track.  Maybe a bit more hobbled, but the main gardening implements – the people – are alive and kicking and back in the saddle.  We were left unsupervised and a garden broke out!

 

Scientific Consensus Grows That We Have 18 Months To Save The Earth, Not 12 Years

I will be riffing and philosophizing a lot on this going forward.  It’s all over.  An insane and terrified species destroyed its habitat and still claimed itself to be divinely created and the most intelligent life form on its planet.  What a joke.  My heritage of reformed church fundamentalism is one of the most severe forms of this insanity.  It was all for nothing.  Progress was indeed synonymous with self-inhiliation.  We, indeed, were a shoe wearing virus.

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The IPCC gave us 12 years to set the wheels in motion to save ourselves from the apocalypse known as climate change. Now in the scientific community, a consensus is building that we have only 18 months to implement aggressive climate policy.

Which means “that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year”.

This does not mean we have 18 months before all hell breaks loose (at least for those in the temperate zones), but it does mean that steps to draw down carbon output to zero need to be in place to address the scale of the problem. Otherwise, our ability to save the biosphere will be completely out of our control.

The Trump regime, of course, will still be in office in January 2021. If he wins the 2020 election our fate is sealed. His environmental policies along with his war on the fight against climate change will have made Make America Venus Again a horrifying reality.

Matt McGrath of the BBC writes:

But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year.

The idea that 2020 is a firm deadline was eloquently addressed by one of the world’s top climate scientists, speaking back in 2017.

“The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and now director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute.

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One of the understated headlines in last year’s IPCC report was that global emissions of carbon dioxide must peak by 2020 to keep the planet below 1.5C.

Current plans are nowhere near strong enough to keep temperatures below the so-called safe limit. Right now, we are heading towards 3C of heating by 2100 not 1.5.

As countries usually scope out their plans over five and 10 year timeframes, if the 45% carbon cut target by 2030 is to be met, then the plans really need to be on the table by the end of 2020.

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With exquisite timing, the likely UK COP in 2020 could also be the moment the US finally pulls out of the Paris agreement.

But if Donald Trump doesn’t prevail in the presidential election that position could change, with a democrat victor likely to reverse the decision.

Either step could have huge consequences for the climate fight.

Right now a number of countries seem keen to slow down progress. Last December the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia blocked the IPCC special report on 1.5C from UN talks.

From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: 

“We stand at the doorway of being able to bend the GHG emissions curve downwards by 2020, as science demands, in protection of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular the eradication of extreme poverty,” Christiana Figueres says, lead-author of the Nature comment and former head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “This monumental challenge coincides with an unprecedented openness to self-challenge on the part of sub-national governments inside the US, governments at all levels outside the US, and of the private sector in general. The opportunity given to us over the next three years is unique in history.” Figueres is the convener of Mission 2020, a broad-based campaign calling for urgent action now to make sure that carbon emissions begin an inexorable fall by 2020.

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The authors are confident that both technological progress and political momentum have reached a point now that allows to kick-start the ‘great sustainability transformation’. 2020 is crucial, because in that year the US will be legally able to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Even more compelling are the physics-based considerations, however: Recent research has demonstrated that keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius becomes almost infeasible if we delay climate action beyond 2020. And breaching the 2°C-line would be dangerous, since a number of Earth system tipping elements, such as the great ice sheets, may get destabilized in that hot-house.

“We have been blessed by a remarkably resilient planet over the past 100 years, able to absorb most of our climate abuse,” says Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, co-author of the Nature comment and lead-author of the Science article. “Now we have reached the end of this era, and need to bend the global curve of emissions immediately, to avoid unmanageable outcomes for our modern world.”

Democrats are not sitting this one out. They have been working on climate policy to implement immediately, that is dependent on winning the Senate, the Presidency and maintain the majority in the House.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter today.

(https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/24/1873999/-Scientific-consensus-grows-that-we-have-eighteen-months-to-save-the-planet-not-12-years)

 

 

 

Here’s One You’ll Never Hear Told In The City Over Drinks

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Ah! Farm life!  Tank’s pink eye didn’t improve, so catch a goat, put goat in a dog crate. Put crate in car.  Next time bring ear plugs cuz goats scream.  Watch goat do back flips at the vet to try to escape.  Listen to more screams while getting injections and having eye lid sutured shut.  Put goat back in car.  While driving home have goat pee all over himself cuz that’s what bucks do.  Roll down windows in 95 degree heat to kill the smell in the car that you are taking up for your son to use cuz he got a new job at school.  Such is the life.  Tomorrow begins super-duty fly suppression cuz that’s what spreads it.  More goop to apply to his eye.  So much for weeding the gardens.  Glad plants are forgiving.

The Greenhouse Foot Shuffle

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Of course, with everything that has been going on lately, the tasks lower on the totem pole get pushed off.  I should have been tying  tomatoes onto the trellises for awhile now, but that hasn’t happened yet.  Evidently the plants in the greenhouse kind of love the place.  The walkways are overgrown and the tomatoes have hundreds of flowers.  So now we have to walk by shuffle stepping so as to not damage the plants by stepping on them.

We are going to have a bit of a heat wave the next few days so I added another ventilator fan to keep the air moving.  The fruit is staring to set so we don’t want all of this progress to get stopped in it’s tracks.  Everything is doing amazingly well.  I have to take an injured goat to the vet (probably today sometime), then I’ll get to working on the plants again.  Fortunately, plants don’t demand as much from you as those farm creatures with feet, mouths and eyes.  Having my new farm hand has been a big help.  That, and putting down the saw for awhile.  As a good friend said the other day, “You do know that you are good enough, right?”  No, not really, but thanks.  I farm to burn off the crazy…. and there is a whole lotta crazy to burn.