It’s Official: The End is Near

Cheese doodles sandwiched by two images from a Qatar Airlines ad Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that the price of corn has got so high due to its use for ethanol, that farmers are resorting to feeding livestock, “cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups.” GARLAND, N.C.–When Alfred Smith’s hogs eat trail mix, they usually shun the Brazil nuts. ...

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Bird Flu and Industrial Agriculture

While I have not seen this new documentary, Shall We Gather at the River, its website contains three provocative interview clips with Michael Greger M.D., the U.S. Humane Society’s Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture. In these excerpts Dr. Greger asserts that industrial agriculture’s penchant for cramming thousands of animals into sheds is the most likely vector for a host of scary diseases such as bird flu and mad cow d...

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So Much Poultry, So Little Time

Homegrown Evolution just got back from the American Poultry Association Annual Meet at the Ventura Fairgrounds. We know nothing about show chickens and we’re too exhausted to blog coherently, so we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves with just a few observations: -If you don’t want to bother raising chicks, a poultry show is a good place to start a flock and talk to some knowledgeable folks. There were quite a few chic...

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Toilet paper in the woods: a rant and some advice

What’s wrong with this picture? Ladies. Sisters. I have a rant for you. It’s an appeal to women, because this is pretty much a woman-centered problem. It’s about leaving toilet paper behind after peeing outdoors, and menfolk don’t leave toilet paper behind after they pee. (Yes, there is #2, but that is less often seen in recreation areas. Backpackers know how to Leave No Trace and daytrippers mostly hol...

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How to Get Skunks Out of Your Basement and Yard

Basements and crawl spaces under houses make idea dens for urban critters. If we could charge rent for all the skunks, raccoons and feral cats that have taken up residence under the house we’d have paid off the mortgage by now. Our particular crawl space critter B&B was opened by virtue of a flimsy access door. Some animal, most likely a raccoon, pried it open. The problem with this situation is that you can’t...

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As Above, So Below

Inspired by the response to my post on the need to keep our gardens dark, I decided to reclaim my childhood telescope from my mom’s garage and get it working again. It occurred to me that I haven’t looked up at the night sky in a long time. What a shame. This past week I’ve been thinking about how important it is to look up at the stars–just as important, I think, as staying in touch with the plants, i...

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California Buckwheat

Here’s a plant SurviveLA would like to see in more Southern California gardens. California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum) has multiple uses–it provides cover and nectar for animals, grows with almost no water, and best of all it produces edible seeds. We’ve gathered the seeds we’ve found in fields and baked it into bread and added it to cereal to both boost nutritional value and to add a nutty flavor. The...

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013 Keeping Chickens with Terry Golson of Hencam.com

Image: Hencam.com. On the thirteenth episode of the Root Simple Podcast we talk to chicken expert and author Terry Golson. Terry fields chicken questions from all over the world through her blog hencam.com where, as the name implies, you can watch her hens live through the interwebs. One of the main points Terry makes during the podcast is that chickens have not really been bred to live long and that they start to get health...

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Composting the Deceased/ My DIY Funeral Fantasies

When I die, I want to return to the elements. In the best case scenario, I’ll be food. I mean, I suppose the bacteria get us all, unless we’re cremated, but I don’t want to be locked inside a coffin, with most of my potential nutrient value going to waste.  This obsession has led to several funeral fantasies, which I like share with Erik spontaneously, usually while we’re grocery shopping or something,...

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Radical Apiculturalist Michael Thiele

Micheal Thiele approaches a hive. Could the huge loss of bees in recent years be because we treat them, like so may other farm animals, as cogs in a big industrial ag machine?  This is just one of the questions posed by apiculturalist (he rejects the term “beekeeper” – more on that below) Michael Thiele at a workshop Kelly and I attended which was sponsored by Honey Love. The language of bees Thiele began hi...

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