Google Sketchup as an Urban Homesteading Tool

I just completed a new chicken run, greatly assisted by an amazing and free 3d design program: Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp). While it takes some time to learn (I’m still learning!), this program helped me visualize the chicken run as well as estimate the amount of materials I’d need to buy. Here’s how I used it to create the run: Previous runs either did not work (chickens squeezed out and flew over) or were hid...

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Don’t store your cucumbers in the fridge

Image courtesy of UC Davis. Photographer: Don Edwards Just in time for cucumber season, some news that surprises me. Did you know that you should store cucumbers at room temperature? Credit for my enlightenment goes to UC Davis. (May I just say bless UC Davis for all the good it does?) In this case I’m referencing their department of Post Harvest Technology. According to them, cukes should be stored at room temperature. If you do...

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Barefoot Running With Ken Bob Saxton

Kelly discovered a barefoot running website, barefootrunning.com. many years ago. When she showed it to me I thought the idea was crazy. Then I had a series of running related injuries: plantar fasciitis, and arthritis in the knee. In desperation (I’m addicted to running) I gave going barefoot a try. The plantar fasciitis went away. Knee pain was greatly, but not entirely, reduced. Old habits are hard to give up. When you spend your who...

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Carlo Petrini and Slow Food: A Joyful Revolution

traditional farming practices. Petrini spoke eloquently and without notes through a translator. He called our food system “entropic,” adding that our agricultural system is, in fact, in a crisis of entropy.  When it takes 300 calories to produce 100 calories of food, according to Petrini, we clearly have a system headed towards collapse. When it comes to the health consequences our out of control food system, he noted the ironic fact...

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Modesto Milling’s Organic Layer Pellets

I could blog for weeks about all the lectures I attended at the National Heirloom Expo, but I thought I’d take a break to highlight a product I came across in the vendor hall: Modesto Milling chicken feed. I’ve been using it for a few months now on the recommendation of Craig and Gary from Winnetka Farms (where our chickens came from).  In my opinion, if I’m going to go through the trouble of keeping my own chickens they shou...

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Poultry Houses of the Ultra-Wealthy

tics when I built our coop. I am much more happy with the chicken run our architect friend John Zapf designed for us. The east elevation of Odey’s coop. Of course Odey’s coop is a bit over the top, to put it mildly. The symbolic meaning of a hedge fund manager, who profited off the financial collapse, building an elaborate stone chicken house has ruffled a few feathers in Britain. But I have to admit that I share the same neo...

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How to Juice Prickly Pear Fruit

Joseph working the thrift-store mill I always know it’s prickly pear fruit season when questions start coming in on a recipe I did for a prickly pear fruit jelly. Unfortunately, the mucilaginous and seedy texture of the fruit makes it difficult to work with. The only tested recipe I could find, for a prickly pear marmalade in the Ball Blue Book, says nothing about how to seed or juice the fruit. With the assistance of two fellow...

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All Haste Is of the Devil: Carl Jung as Homesteader

Carl Jung pumping water in the Tower at Bollingen. From the Library of Congress. It’s a holiday here in the US, so we’ve turned things over to a special guest blogger, Dr. Carl Jung, who comes to us via the special astral internet plan we get from AT&T. As it turns out, Jung was quite the off-grid homesteader when it came to building and living in his special retreat tower in Bollingen, on the shore of Lake Zürich. I...

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Of Man Caves and Woman Caves

...e an advertiser? The Man Caves editors get to have lots of fun coining new words like “mantastic” and throwing around headlines like “Chromed-Up Harley Hangouts.” From the preview on the Manland site, it seems Man Caves Mag delivers the usual man cave aesthetic package of neon beer signs, motorcycles and flat screen TVs. The editors of WOOD, promise that their Man Caves Magazine will “go behind the scenes to reveal...

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A Question About Gophers

...er wire as an underground barrier. We even mentioned this in our first book. The main problem I have with this advice is that the galvanized metal used for hardware cloth and gopher wire leaches significant amounts of zinc as it breaks down. Zinc, in high quantities, is toxic to plants. And, when using cages for trees, I’d worry that the cages would not break down soon enough, causing the roots to circle. Plastic, I’m fairly certain,...

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