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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

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,...

Continue reading…

A DIY Whole House Fan

Our DIY whole house fan. How hot is our unairconditioned, uninsulated old house? Kelly has temporarily banned bread baking and I’m thinking of opening my own Bikram hot yoga franchise. But seriously, a few summers ago I decided to install a whole house fan. What’s a whole house fan? It’s a large fan, mounted in the ceiling, that pushes hot air into the attic while simultaneously drawing cool air in from the outside. Yo...

Continue reading…

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...

Continue reading…

How to Memorize Numbers

oft c “z” is the first letter of zero. The other letters have a similar sound. 1 d, t d & t have one downstroke and sound similar (some variant systems include “th”) 2 n n has two downstrokes 3 m M has three downstrokes and looks like a “3″ on its side 4 r last letter of four, also 4 and R are almost mirror images of each other 5 l L is the Roman Numeral for 50 6 j, sh, soft “ch”, d...

Continue reading…

Three Power Tools Every Urban Homesteader Should Own

or help a friend or relative with a repair project, this great triumvirate of tools will get you through 99% of all jobs. For that 1% of problems that require an exotic tool, you can rent one. I prefer corded tools as I hate it when a battery dies in the middle of a day’s work and corded tools have more power. That being said, there are a few times when I wish I had a battery powered drill. I’d also recommend spending a little extra...

Continue reading…