Saturday Linkages: Yaks, an M16 Lamp and Hog Farm Explosions

An urban homestead meltdown in Arcata involving yaks, 24 foot meditation towers and unhappy neighbors: http://www.arcataeye.com/2012/03/occupy-arcata-heights-ends-with-a-splatter-march-14-2012/ M16 lamp – http://boingboing.net/2012/03/15/m16-lamp.html And . . a lamp made out of used coffee filters: http://www.recyclart.org/2012/03/coffee-filter-lamp/  The Apocalypse will be a lot like flying coach: http://boingboing.net/2012/03/14/the-ap...

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Eco Blogging, Tin Foil Hats and Convention Mania

...rtunately, when I went to review my notes the next day I realized I had written down only the wacky stuff in the form of a diary. I chalk it up to the way my cynical Gen-X brain works. So, in the end, I guess I’m the one wearing the tin-foil hat. For what it’s worth, here’s what that diary contained: 10:15 AM Way overdue for a haircut I throw on my Eisenhower jacket and head down to the convention center on my bicycle. I look l...

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Cheap and Natural Handsoap–and a rant

...e one in our bathroom is an old Method pump and is still working fine after three years. The secret of the soap formula used in foaming pumps is that it’s super-diluted. It has to to diluted because full strength soap clogs the pump.  It’s kind of a scam, when you think about it, that when you buy a foaming pump you pay as much or more for diluted soap than regular liquid soap. However, the dilution factor works perfectly with castil...

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Peat-free Planting Mix Recipe With Coconut Coir

...oss is a nightmare. Mining of this material is unsustainable, contributes to global warming and destroys habitat for many plants and animals. But, for starting seeds, we’ve used it for years. Our friend Nancy Klehm taught us recently how to make a seed starting mix with coconut coir instead of peat moss. Thanks, Nancy! Here’s how to make it: Ingredients Watering the coir brick to break it up. Once saturated, this brick will exp...

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Mellow Yellow: How to Make Dandelion Wine

...ns and parks spotting yellow, it’s time to gather. The general rule of thumb is to collect one gallon of flowers for each gallon of wine you want to make. Enjoy your wandering. People will think you quaintly eccentric for foraging blossoms on your hands and knees. Note: collect blossoms (without the stem) that have just opened and are out of the path of insecticides and pesticides. So here’s how I make dandelion wine… I pour one gallon boiling...

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How to Roast Your Own Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Maker

Thanks to the Institute for Domestic Technology, I learned roast my own coffee at home in a Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper. It’s a simple, if smokey, process. You heat up the popper on your stove top over a medium/high heat and dump in 10 ounces of green coffee beans. The beans we used were ordered from Sweet Maria’s who carry a wide selection of high-end beans at inexpensive prices. The only trick with the Whirley-Po...

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Three Front Yard Vegetable Gardens

I spotted some nice front yard gardens while I was out for a walk the other day. Check out these finds: Above, these gardeners have used some scrap lumber as retaining walls to allow them some extra soil depth for planting. In this small front yard bed they’re growing beautiful kohlrabi (my new favorite vegetable), some climbing beans and a few different kinds of squash. Keeping a veggie garden doesn’t have to be either complicated...

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Google Sketchup as an Urban Homesteading Tool

...dering. SketchUp has some powerful features. There’s a library of objects other people have already drawn for you that you can download for free. For instance, the fence and tree (the exact same species of tree in my backyard, by the way) were both in the SketchUp library. And, amazingly, you can drop your model into Google Maps and even figure out the shadow patterns it will cast in the course of a year. I’d strongly recommend goin...

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World’s Largest Chard Grows in SIP

...n full leaf. In the photo above all his energy has gone into the flower, so the leaves are a sad shadow of their former glory. Basically, SuperChard used to look like an exotic, pampered tropical plant. One that did not mind rattling around in our hatchback and getting dragged all over tarnation. Chard reproduces in its second year, and SuperChard’s time has come. He began to bolt with our first heat wave and has sent up a huge flower spike...

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Phoebe Update and a Question: Is Pet Insurance Worthwhile?

Many of you have asked for an update on our cat Phoebe. She was born with a very defective heart. Instead of being separated into chambers, basically Pheobe’s heart is one big sack. Even her heart valves are defective. If she were a human being, in a prosperous country, she would be waiting for a heart transplant. Cats, however, can’t have heart transplants. Our vet has said that we should enjoy every day we have with her, but that...

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