Apparently my subconscious mind has been simply yammering away at decoding why it is I am so recently able to be positive. I really hadn’t dedicated much more thought to spelling it out, but I woke up this morning with a very nearly complete picture in my mind. So now I figure that I need to get it down on “paper” before it fades. I know this is something so many people struggle with I may be able to dedicate and flesh this out into another book, which would be a huge accomplishment for me. So here goes. I am gonna brain shotgun this all out, and hope that at least some parts of it can help you in your quest.
March 1, 2015
November 2, 2014
Well my friends, I have finally bowed to socially conscious peer pressure. I generally manage to avoid all trends and fads that lead to people doing things that make themselves feel like they helped, while not actually accomplishing anything. I don’t wear pink in October because of my long-standing dislike of the Susan G Komen foundation. I didn’t wear a yellow wrist band in support of a doping cancer survivor. I didn’t dump ice over my head because I don’t like being wet or cold. However, mainly because of a quiet post from a respected friend on my personal Facebook feed, I have decided to cave and participate in No Shave November #Letitgrow. However, I just wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t try to use what limited platform I have earned in this life to make an actual difference.
So first off, for the four of you that haven’t heard what it is, No Shave November is the month when men stop shaving their facial hair and use the money they “save” by not shaving and donate it to the cancer charity of their choice. The one most commonly suggested on the No Shave site is the American Cancer Society. Then, just like in a relay for life, you can get your beard sponsored by other people who believe in your follicles doing good for the universe. I guess women could skip shaving as well, but it’s probably not the kind of photo that would spark massive support on the internet.
None of this to me is a bad thing, so don’t mistake my occasionally snarky tone, or the issues I am about to raise as being anti-charity. I am a huge fan of viral giving and making a difference where possible in the lives of others. Also, I can’t very well criticize an organization whose hashtags and marketing engine I am going to use in my own posts, as that would just make me a hypocrite. I just have huge issues with what I feel is the collective idiocy that we as a society have when it comes to cancer. The myths, half-truths, lies and misinformation that comes pouring out from the medical community sometimes leaves me breathlessly angry, because I feel it is a collective betrayal of the global public. Your average person that has not educated themselves on health goes to the doctor and trusts in them to provide guidance on the correct solution. Yet your average doctor simply signs you up for a round of toxic chemicals coursing through your body, invasive surgery and horrible radiation. The first chemo therapy treatment was done in 1956, according to cancer.org, you can’t tell me that we couldn’t have come up with a better way to treat this by now if we really wanted to. The only way to turn the corner on what is truly an epidemic is to educate ourselves better on what is really happening.
So what set me off? In the course of researching for my own knowledge just a few days ago, I came across a campaign slogan for cancer detection that shot me over the moon. Early detection is the cure. Oh really now? Explain to me how in any universe that holds water. If you have detected something, you HAVE it. The entire goal of any of this should be to keep this plague as far away from your body as possibly. If you have detected it, it’s too late. So why are we billing that as the ultimate solution? Why are we not educating ourselves on how to keep our bodies healthy so that we don’t need detection? Because it’s not flashy, it’s not sexy, it’s not easy, and it doesn’t make a good T-Shirt slogan or call to action for armies of bright-eyed volunteers out there. It might also represent personal empowerment instead of a corporate panacea, and we just couldn’t have that.
So what have I learned about cancer, and what am I doing with the information?
Most importantly, there is no cure, because there is no single cause. So what causes cancer? Everything, basically. Toxins in the environment, radiation from sources like microwaves and cellphones, your diet (specifically processed foods), extra hormones in the body (cancer cells feed on estrogen), smoking, drinking, drugs, plastics (BPA is terrible). All that stuff sounds a little difficult to deal with, and it is, so rather than tackle the hydra of issues in their lives that are causing this, they pour money down the rabbit hole of radiation and surgery in the hope of creating a magic pill that makes it all go away. The solution is never going to be simple, because the cause isn’t simple.
What can we do about it? Change your life, often drastically. The good news is that the changes you need to make to prevent cancer are all things your really should be doing anyway. Change your diet. Processed foods are bad. Go look up all those chemicals in the food that you don’t know what they do. Find out how many are carcinogenic. Also, cut out dairy and wheat. Dairy is just loaded with estrogen causing hormones which give cancer a place to thrive in the body, even if the milk doesn’t have rBST. Wheat causes rampant inflammation in the body, and inflamed cells are more prone to growths. Get rid of your microwave, on what level is t hat a good thing to do with food? Get rid of plastic, BPA in your body causes excess estrogen, it’s never a good thing to have around. You will feel healthier no matter what, and lower your cancer risk at the same time.
So what am I doing for No Shave November? I am going to use this opportunity to benefit those I feel are actually helping America to beat cancer, whether they know it or not. I am also going to use my platform and my journey to try to convince others to do so as well. I have selected two organizations that I feel are doing tremendous good in the world to advance the fight against cancer. If I am successful in my quest to make it through the entirety of November without shaving, I will donate $100 each to the two organizations I have selected. If my willpower gives out, I will donate $150 each, just as a built-in incentive to succeed. I will blog periodically about my progress, information I have learned, ways you can get involved, and how incredibly itchy my face is.
So who have I selected. Organization number one is the Gerson Institute. Dr Gerson researched and discovered a treatment for cancer using diet to tune your body and fight it off naturally. Dr Gerson was then assassinated by Arsenic poisoning to keep his methods from being popularized and going mainstream. His daughter has now carried on their work and brought hope to thousands of patients. This is documented in a movie The gerson miracle, that is well worth the 90 minutes if you are interested in learning. Their website also has lots of good free information as well. Organization number two is the Farm to Table Legal Defense Fund. While not a cancer fighting institution in the traditional sense, they certainly are doing great things to help protect the natural diets so key in fighting cancer. In recent years government over reach into the food supply has reached insane levels. The defense fund is doing their best to provide farmers with the weapons to fight back against the government and do their best to turn the tide.
What can you do? Nothing, everything, or some step in between. Join me in donating to these two organizations. Pick your own organizations to donate to, just make sure they support what you believe in and aren’t just marketing. Change your diet. Change your life. Tell others the truth about cancer. Start your own No Shave Journey. The future is what you make of it, and you will be just old a month from now if you do something as if you don’t. So get up and make it count.
June 22, 2013
So admittedly Jenn and I have been on a kick lately for pickling things. We really can’t wait until it’s fall crop time so we can pickle our own beets. I don’t know what it is, maybe the heat of the summer leaching something out, but I can’t get enough of eating these things. Could be replacing some sort of imbalance in my body.
Anyway, after the bumper harvest of even more radishes this morning, we decided to make a second batch of pickles, since the others ones are so far along. It wouldn’t work out quite right to have them this far apart in relative pickling age and to stack them up now. We also wanted to go for a slightly sweeter recipe than we did last time, since the radishes were a bit bigger, we figured they would be spicier as well.
So here is our recipe this time.
Sweeter Pickled Radishes:
1 Teaspoon of whole peppercorns
A heaping teaspoon of minced garlic
A rounded teaspoon of dill
Half a teaspoon of kosher salt
3 teaspoons of honey
Splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Add a little white vinegar to allow you to swish it around and mix it all up at the bottom of the jar. At this point you should be tasting your mixture to see if it is the flavor you are going for. If it is, go ahead and add enough white vinegar to fill up the jar to the desired level for your radishes. It’s much easier to fine tune the flavorings when the mixture is smaller.
So far the mixture is delicious. Jenn sliced up the radishes and put them in the mixture so they can absorb the flavor. So far so good.
A quick follow up too. Here is what our other batch looks like 5 days in.
You can see the red color is leaching off of the radishes. Upon tasting them, they are getting even more excellent. They would be absolutely awesome on a hot dog. They were great with some sausage the other day, but I know a hot dog would just light up with these babies. Any of the radishy sharpness is long gone, and they just taste amazing.
What we really need to do is get some apple cider vinegar with mother, so that we can make our own PRObiotic pickled things. I don’t know if that will affect the taste or not, but they will be even healthier that way. I can’t wait.
June 20, 2013
I had an interesting experience today, and it gave me some pause for reflection. Being from western Pennsylvania, there are hills everywhere, but you can’t tell, because you are stuck in them all of the time. You can rarely see more than a quarter mile in front of you, and over time, it starts to close off your perception and sense of scale.
As a kid, I was lucky enough to travel frequently to other parts of the country. Many people like the beach, but not me, I always liked the mountains. One of my favorite places to go was to Colorado, and get to see the rocky mountains. This of course despite being incredibly altitude sick most of the time, but I still enjoyed it. I loved being able to see the mountains stretching up higher than I could ever reach, as well as being able to look out to the very edge of the world. I always assumed it was the mountains that were appealing to me.
When we moved to Tucson, it seemed perfect. There are mountains all around the city, so I got to look out from the front of my house every day and see them rising up in front of me. I always thought that it was uplifting to look out and see them rising up in front of me, just like when I traveled as a kid. So one of the things that I made a priority when we were moving was that I wanted to live somewhere with mountains. That was one of the reasons the Pacific Northwest appealed to me. Lots of mountains.
Well, this part of Kentucky has no mountains. At all. In fact, it is very similar to western Pennsylvania with both it’s hills and it’s sight lines. I missed the mountains, or at least I thought I did.
Well today I had cause to travel to a slightly different part of Kentucky, that was about 45 minutes to the northwest from here. This was far enough to take me out of the hill country, and into more of the plains type terrain. It was quite a bit flatter, but suddenly I could see much further than I have been able to for the last few weeks.
Suddenly I felt different. My horizons were stretching further. Even though there were no mountains to pull my eyes up, I still liked searching out over the plains to see what I could see. Several years ago I would have felt like a bug on a plate being that stretched out in the open, but this time I didn’t. I enjoyed not feeling boxed in. So perhaps it wasn’t the mountains that I really enjoyed. Perhaps it was simply the feeling of being on the edge of an infinite horizon with no place to go but forward. It was an interesting feeling, and one that I am glad I am able to capture here in Kentucky.
June 17, 2013
Well folks, I have been away from the blogging keyboard for awhile. I am not sure if I will try to make this a regularly scheduled even again or not, as my goals have shifted a good bit after arriving here in Kentucky. Those last few weeks in Tucson were just an absolute trial. I felt like the house was literally sucking the energy out of me, so I let a lot of things go that I really enjoyed, including this blog.
However, going back to that period is not really that much fun. So instead, I will just do a quick share of something fun.
As I mentioned a bit earlier today on our Facebook page, we had some leftover pickle brine and we tossed some radishes into it, which turned out to be amazing. It was leftover bread and butter pickle brine, so the sweet brine worked out great with the slightly spicy radishes. We just took the radishes that were too small for our dinner salad, sliced em in half, and chucked em in. 48 hours later, they were delicious.
Well, today when we went out to the garden, we had an incredible bounty of radishes waiting for us. They are all coming to the finish at the same time. So we went through and picked a ton of them while they were a bit smaller, because they are less spicy that way. I didn’t think to take a picture of the radishes before we cut them, but here are the tops. It was a bunch.
So rather than simply using leftover brine again, we decided to make our own radish brine. So I can actually expand on my 13skills goal, and work on homemade pickling and lactofermentation, despite forgetting about it for a few months.
So here is the Ayers family pickled radish recipe We tasted the brine after we were done, and it was absolutely amazing, I will let you know how the radishes taste when they are done. Anyone else know a good pickled radish recipe Share it with us, and I will share it with our Facebook page and give you the credit to your blog or site if you have one.
Ayers Pickled Radishes:
Apple Cider Vinegar (splash)
Honey (1 Tsp)
Dill (Dried or Fresh)
Minced Garlic (1 tsp)
Take all the above ingredients and mix together at the bottom of a canning jar. I didn’t include a lot of measurements, because we didn’t measure much. You can taste brine, so season to taste. If you want sweeter, add more honey. More sour, more vinegar. Etc. Once that’s all in place, stir it up really well. Then toss in your radishes, fill the empty space with water, put the lid on and pop it in your fridge. Start tasting after a few days and see how they are turning out. The longer they sit, the more the flavor will change, so don’t hesitate to taste every so often.
May 8, 2013
So a couple of days ago Jenn and I finally buckled down and built the road coop for our girls. It was one of the last things that we had to complete, in terms of time-consuming manual labor. So now we are pretty much ready to go. We can now move our date around if we have to, and nothing will be affected. I have to say, I am pretty darn proud of how it turned out.
I don’t exactly have a ton of money just lying around, so I made it my mission to up-cycle and re-use as many materials as I possibly could. I have run into at least a few people on our Facebook page who are also moving with poultry, so I figured I would share our building project, in case anyone else wants to copy it. This is probably my best contribution to the poultry field since our homemade chicken food, so I wanted to share it for everyone.
So some things to keep in mind as you are building a road coop. First, you do want plenty of ventilation for the girls, but you DON’T want too much wind blowing in on them. Chicken’s can catch a chill. So we have all of the ventilation facing rearward, so that as we are driving down the road, they aren’t getting blown. Second, birds sleep when it’s dark. So keeping it somewhat shady allows your birds to nap, thus reducing stress. Lastly, birds don’t mind being in tight spaces. You want to give them room, but don’t feel the need to build an entire complex for them.
So the basic framework for the coop is a regular tow trailer, in this case a 5X8 trailer, and an hold leftover raised garden bed from one of my many aborted business attempts. Since I know my dad read’s this, thanks Dad for the trailer. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
We checked to make sure that a next box would fit under the rim of the frame with enough space to allow a chicken inside. This was important because we wanted to add a second shelf, to give them a place to get up off of the floor at night, since they like to sleep up off of the ground. So yeah, plenty of space.
I screwed some small 2X4 brace pieces on the inside, to allow us to have a spot to mount the shelf. The 2X4 was leftover in my tool closet. I never throw wood away, and this is why.
Here is the shelf for the girls. It is actually a leftover portion of my old desk. That desk was a pain in the ass to move, so we ripped it up, but I kept the top part since it didn’t fit in the trash can. I’m glad I kept it. It covers most of the bottom, but gives plenty of hopping space, basically doubling the square footage of the road coop.
With the nice solid raised bed as a platform, I was able simply screw some plywood sheets to the back and the sides. The plywood was reclaimed from fort goat, back when I had a few little goats. The raised bed was 16 1/2″ high, and the plywood took the height up to about 36″. It didn’t have to be exact. In the corners I added 4X4 pieces to both cement the plywood shell together, and to give me a place to attatch the roof. I also made the front poles just slightly higher than the back, to allow any possible rain a way to run off.
Here is Miss Tonto acting as quality control. She appeared to give it a grudging thumbs up given the cute clucking that was happening.
Next I added on the roof. Just an extra sheet of plywood, also from fort goat. Again, the roof is slightly angled to offer some protection from the rain. If I end up using this as a chicken tractor, I will shingle this bad boy up, and it will be rain proof.
Laslty, I just needed a door. Coincidently enough, the old goat bed I had was the exact right size. So I popped the plywood top off, and added some braces in the center to give it strength.
Here is the door attatched to the coop. I used some scrap hardware cloth to cover the openings. This is plenty secure, but allows lots of are through. For hinges I just used some 4″ wide flat door hinges from lowes, one of the few things I had to buy. At this point just add the latch of your choosing, and some handles for the door, and you are done. This coop is fairly heavy, so I don’t think it would go anywhere anyway, but to ease my mind, I am using some 4″ L brackets to bolt the whole coop to the frame of the trailer. It won’t go anywhere unless the whole thing goes.
So that’s my road coop. Feel free to copy the ideas if you like. I didn’t include many measurements because it didn’t matter. I wasn’t measuring to be precise, I just needed it to work. Since I was frecycling, I was much less precise than I would have been with new materials. If you make one, send me a picture of it. I would love to see how it turns out.
April 28, 2013
It happened so gradually, I didn’t even see the transformation taking place. A year ago, almost to the day, I was still a normal person. I could wander around outside, and just see terrain. It would be pretty, or it would be boring. It would be desert or it would be alive. It could have cows, or chickens or fences, but I would just see it as it was and move on. I was but a passerby in the great system that is our world.
Now, that’s different. Now when I look out at everything around me, my eyes are already mapping contours on the ground. I see where the water will flow when it rains. I see where trees can be added to a space, and how it would change that areas around it. I can estimate how much sunlight an area gets and know what to do to affect that amount. I look at bare dirt and immediately start looking for a source of mulch to cover it and start the healing process.
Somehow, without even realizing it, I have become a permaculturist, and there is no going back now.
This was spectacularly rubbed in my face last month. Last month, my wife and I took a trip from our dry and rocky desert home in Tucson, AZ to the much lusher and more livable portion of the state in the White Mountains. In the five years we have lived here, we have taken three trips up there. It is beautiful up there. In 100 square miles, you can see every type of terrain known to man. Everything from harsh desertscapes to alpine lakes to grasslands that look like Kansas. We absolutely love it, and always have a wonderful time driving around and just looking at the different landscapes.
Each time we go up there, we stay in the town of Show Low, as it’s the biggest community in the area. Show Low is tucked into an alpine forest, and surrounded by trees. If you drive slightly to the east, it opens out into grasslands where they graze adorable little Hereford cows, and you can see them out on the plains. In the past, my reaction was always to look out and moo at them, then drive on.
This time I saw the scenario with all different eyes. The trees didn’t just happen to stop and that’s where they were grazing cows, the cows had created the grasslands from destroying the trees. The cows were spread out over way too much space, and were in the process of overgrazing entire ranches. The most useful land in our state was being destroyed without purpose. Yet I didn’t see a hopeless scenario, I knew how to fix it.
Immediately my mind was contour mapping the properties, and breaking the grazing areas into smaller spaces for rotations. I knew the area got about 18 inches of rain in a year, which is plenty to regrow the forests. Swails could be cut into each of these pastures to catch as much rain as possible. The cows could be fast rotated through much smaller areas and create a much healthier eco system. Rather than relying on just cattle farming, these ranches could also tractor thousands of chickens through and create a second stream of income. That would help the people as well as building fertility with …
Somehow when I wasn’t looking, my brain has become hopelessly infected with permaculture. It has passed the information consumption portion of the learning, and is now fizzing away at the incredible urge to DO something. There is no problem too big or too small, I just have an incredible urge to tackle them. If you continue with this learning.
I even know when it started, yet it was such a gradual change I didn’t even notice it happening to me. The knowledge just reached critical mass at some point, and it all clicked for me. Granted it was probably about 3 months after it clicked for my wife, she is a natural which is God’s way of keeping me humble, but that’s another story.
Last year I started listening to “The Survival Podcast” by Jack Spirko. I really wasn’t into the whole food storage and survival aspect, but he would mention permaculture every few episodes, and I was intrigued. He would talk about these two gurus, Geoff Lawton and Sepp Holzer, and how they were doing great things. This Jack guy was using their teachings to grow food in the Arkansas hot dry summer. I looked around at my hot dry Tucson summer, and figured I could learn something.
I got tired of waiting for more mentions of these guys, and I went straight to the source. I watched Geoff Lawton’s Urban Permaculture DVD, and it was all over. I just had to learn more. So for the last year I have spent as much time as I can poring over every scrap of information I could find on permaculture. It has saturated my brain and my being. Now, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t turn it off. Permaculture is every where, and you can see the world with new eyes.