My 2013 New Year’s Resolution

A day after writing about all the things I didn’t do in 2012 I understood the main problem with my New Year’s resolution list. And it’s not that the list was too long. The problem was that I was treating my life as a collection of merit badges. I think it’s an obvious trap for a how-to book author and homesteading blogger to fall into. My merit badge accumulation better served my ego than those around me. This year, rath...

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Straw Bale Gardens

...y of you tried, or are considering trying, straw bale gardening? How did it work? Some resources on the topic: strawbalegardens.com–the website of Joel Karsten, profiled in Tortorello’s article and the author of a book and a downloadable pamphlet on straw bale gardening. Some tips from an experienced straw bale gardener at The Gardener’s Pantry We’re going to bioassay (that is, test ) the straw from our local feed store. T...

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Picture Sundays: Doberman Chariots

“Ready for the race! Brutus of Quintre and his charge are ready for the sulky races, a regular feature of some of the South African sporting events.” Photos via The Doberman Insider. Now that we are without a car, it’s time for us to figure out alternative forms of transportation. Our late dog was a Doberman and I remembered a book we used to have about the breed that showed some unusual events that used to be held in South Afr...

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Happy Mayan Apocalypse!

...ssing of this day will mark a peak in interest in apocalyptic scenarios. While I could opinionate about the Apocalypse meme, as John Michael Greer calls doomsday thinking, I think it would be best just to quote Greer from his book Apocalypse Not: there’s at least a chance that the upcoming failure of the 2012 prophecy might encourage people to take a hard and skeptical look at the apocalypse meme itself, to recognize that longing for the annihila...

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Feral House and Process Media Winter Soltice Party

Feral House and Process media, the publishers of our first book The Urban Homestead, will be holding their annual solstice party on Saturday December 8th from 7 to 10 pm at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, located within the Wacko gift store. Judging from the flyer, naked Shriners will frolic in the Griffith Park Fountain later on in the evening. Whatever happens, it’s a fun event not to be missed. Kelly and I will be there to hang out, chat and...

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Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

...ut should be no longer than one growing season Now, back to the philosophical: Seneca’s tree analogy is a good example of a system that benefits from chaos and shock. This idea is the subject of Nassim Taleb’s new book on what he calls “anti-fragility“. By contrast, natural or organic systems are antifragile: They need some dose of disorder in order to develop. Deprive your bones of stress and they become brittle. This den...

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How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

In the interest of health, I’ve focused my bread baking obsession of late on 100% or near 100% whole rye sourdough loaves. I’ve used as my guide a nicely illustrated book How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. His specialty is just the sort of rustic German style breads I’ve always wanted to learn to bake. What I love in particular about his caraway rye sourdough loaf (pictured above) is the crust. Unlike most other bread...

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California’s New Greywater Code: Common Sense Legalized!

...r greywater. As for the practical side of this new law, I’d suggest that anyone interested in installing a greywater system keep it simple and low cost. I can’t think of any better resource than Art Ludwig’s book The New Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems and his website oasisdesign.net. Take note of Ludwig’s free open-source laundry to landscape plan. And don’t forget, Ho...

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