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Homemade Radish Pickles

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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.

Radish Tops

Radish Tops

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)

White Vinegar

Honey (1 Tsp)

Dill (Dried or Fresh)

Black Peppercorns

Minced Garlic (1 tsp)

Kosher Salt

The finished products

The finished products

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.

Enjoy!

 

Why ELSE permaculture hasn’t caught on

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As I mentioned yesterday, in the course of writing my post, I was able to think of three more reasons why permaculture hasn’t caught on yet.  So rather than creating one long mega post, I split it up into the two days to make it a little more readable.  The other thing I noticed about how these fell, is that these three can apply to more than just permaculture.  These three are all excellent reasons why many initiatives fail.  So while I am writing this about permaculture, I bet you could apply these to just about every environmental initiative you know.

#1 Hippies aren’t good spokespeople

hippies

Ok, now this one may come off as touchy if you don’t look at it objectively, since many of my readers either were legitimate hippies or at least identify with the movement.  So don’t get defensive.  This is strictly a discussion on the use of hippies as spokespeople, not a commentary on hippies in general.

There are two main problems with identifying as a hippie when trying to promote something.  First, they look different.  When you are selling an idea, you want people to be able to identify with the person selling it.  Either they could be that person, or they could be with that person.  Often people can’t feel either when it comes to hippies.  So while hippies might be a great draw to college children, they aren’t going to make any in roads with the actual movers and shakers in life.

Benfalk

Go for less of the Jerry Garcia look, and more of the Ben Falk.  Ben runs Whole Systems Design in Vermont and is a certified PDC Instructor.  Also looks like a professional.

Second, hippies aren’t very good at actually executing ideas.  Lets take a look at the occupy movement shall we.  A bunch of hippies had the idea that they would block traffic in major cities and change the world.  They got the first part done, but couldn’t even agree on goals.  So in the end, they just ended up hanging out in a park until they got cold and dirty.  So when we have a great system that is PROVEN TO WORK, we lump ourselves in with that when we present it wrong.

Again, this is about presenting an idea, not how you live.  Live however you want.

#2 Free Giveaway = garbage

free

Sign up for this credit card, get a free T-shirt.  That little toy inside the crackerjack box.  Free ski weekend if you sit through this Timeshare presentation.  People automatically associate free with bad.  Free can’t be quality.  It’s going to break.  Worst of all, by accepting this free thing, I am somehow going to get snookered down the road.

So why do we keep trying to give permaculture away for free?

Charity is a wonderful thing, and many people feel called to do better for their neighbours, and those are noble ideals, but people automatically distrust free.  We need less veggie co-ops and more “Eddie’s edible landscapings”.  We need less Permaculture blitzes and more “Bluegrass Food Forestry”.  We are standing on a gold mine of food information that is PROVEN TO WORK.  Stop trying to give it away for free to prove it.  We are living in an era when people are paying $10 a pound for organic Kale.  Get out there and make some money.  People are much more likely to sit up and take notice of a successful business that is creating good in a community than yet another group of idealists looking for donation.  Plus, once a business is successful, others will try to replicate it.  If it is really about making the world better, rather than stoking your ego, the best way to do it is to create a business.

#3 – We can’t afford green initiatives

save

Permaculture is an excellent way to save the planet.  The upsides of this system are nearly endless.  It uses no chemicals, less water and improves the land.  Animals are happier.  People are healthier.  It is the deliverance of all of the green initiatives ideas into one form.  Best of all, it actually makes people freer, unlike many green initiatives relying on government strong arming.

Boy, that sounds really expensive.

It isn’t.  We all know that it isn’t, but we continue to pitch it in a way that sounds expensive.  People are automatically associating us with the $10 kale movement mentioned above.  When you talk about what something can do for the earth, you set off the cash register sound in someone’s head.  Bad for marketing.

What we need to do, is emphasize how much it can save people money.  How much money would you save if you provided 25% of your own food?  Or 50%? What if you didn’t have to pay for medicine anymore because you weren’t sick?  What if you only had to drive to the store once a month?  What if you made some extra money selling veggies or eggs to your neighbours?

Again, these are all concrete benefits that are PROVEN to work.  So lets talk about what they can do for someone.  Marjorie Wildcraft has sold 250,000 of her DVDs because she called it “Growing your groceries” not “Saving the planet in my backyard”.  You need to hit people where it counts.  In their wallets.

So the next time you feel sad that permaculture isn’t the way of the land.  Stop thinking like a zealous true believer, and think about what you can do to correct the situation.  This will spread or fail based on what we do.  So let’s spread the right message.

Farm supression in Michigan

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Well folks, I am just going to apologize upfront.  I am about to intentionally fail in a mission that I set for myself, and I am ok with that.  When I started this blog, I knew that it could very easily just turn into a mindless bitch session about things that irritate me, and I didn’t want it to.  So I made it my goal to provide only useful information or uplifting thoughts as much as I could.  I think most days this leads to a good product for you all to enjoy.

Today is not going to be one of those days.  Today I am angry, and since addressing that anger at those people that rightfully deserve it would probably count as sending threatening letters, I will take care of that here, in my own forum.

So what’s going on?

The township of Williamstown in Michigan has broken it’s word to a resident.  The government lied to you, shocker.  This woman was specifically looking for a place that she could homestead.  She wanted to have the dream that I have, and the dream that many of us have, of being able to raise her own food.  Before she bought her property, she checked with the township.  They said her property would be fine for what she wanted to do.  Shockingly enough, they have decided to go against their own rules, and have ordered her to cease operation.  This family is doing what more of us should, she is fighting back.

There is really no need for me to recount the issue in it’s entirety.  You can read an article from the Lansing Post here, as well as a detailed blog from Jessica Hudon here.  At least read the blog post, she does an excellent job of explaining all that she has worked on.

Have we really come so far as a country, that we are actively seeking to punish people for doing the right thing?  This isn’t about shouting dirty words in public, or hanging up paintings with feces, or smoking dope in the street, or any of that other bullshit that gets the fake freedom lovers up and waving.  To them freedom isn’t about being free, it’s about being shocking.  If you have shocked someone, you are a protected class.

No, this is about actual freedom.  It’s about the freedom to do as you please with your own property.  A tenant that used to be sacred in this country.  It’s about the freedom to feed ourselves and our families as we see fit.  It’s about the freedom to live independent of a system of control.  Control on the very food that we put into our mouths.  Food that is purposely being tampered with.  Food that is more and more proving toxic to the very people that are supposed to be nourished by it.

This is not an isolated incident.  A front yard garden was destroyed in Tulsa Oklahoma, despite being up to code.  This was a sick woman who used the fresh foods to treat a variety of ailments of hers.  A friend of my very own community, Witch’s Way Homestead, was just forced to give up her animals.  A woman who was using these animals to help pull herself and those around here off of food stamps.  Isn’t that what this country is all about?  Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and improving your life?

This is what we are left with?  A government that is so lost in it’s own self delusion that it reckons itself the infinite master of all time and space?  Governments all across the country are flat broke.  They can’t afford the games they insist on playing, yet they are addicted to the power.  They simply cannot stop.  To stop would admit that they are irrelevant, and they we were able to survive for hundreds of years without the programs they insist we need.

We are at the very fragile beginnings of an American Renaissance.   We are remembering who we are, and what we came from.  We are remembering what it was like to do for ourselves, and look out over a field of our own accomplishment.  We are remembering what it was like to be free, and you know what, a good many of us are willing to fight for it.

So what can you do?

Well, if I can’t be positive today, I can at least give an attack strategy.  This family is setting up a rural homesteaders legal defense fund.  If they get the township to back down, they will use the money for others in a similar situation.  You can donate here, I already did.  You can also go here, to find the contact information for the township’s leadership.  I suggest a polite, but scathing email to these petty tyrants, whether you choose to donate or not.

Lastly, reach out to others of like mind in these communities, and fight back.  This is a fight for our very way of life, and we need to quit laying back and taking it.  This isn’t about backyard hens or raw milk anymore.  This is about petty tyrants trying to control how we live.  We cannot sit here and let this happen.  Lets stand up and punch these jerks in the nose.  The more victories we win, the easier they become to win.  A snowball effect of freedom.

We need to remember.  None of us stand alone.  Every citizen in a sovereign republic needs to be a sentinel of freedom, for a fight for freedom anywhere is a fight for freedom everywhere.  I am watching, and I am fighting.  Stand with me.

Chicken Week 7: Make your own chicken feed

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So you decided on chickens, got them brooded, and built the coop.  At this point, they are probably getting hungry.  You should probably feed them right about now.  The question becomes though, what do you want to feed them?  Chickens, in case you didn’t notice, are living garbage disposals.  They will eat anything that’s smaller than them.  I have seen them hork down leaves from the neighbour’s tree, lizards, baby frogs, snakes, mice, dirt, fluff, and anything they can find.  Suffice it to say, if they aren’t eating what you are giving them, you are doing it wrong.

There are three main schools of thought on chicken food, free ranging, table scraps, and grain feed.  There are pluses and minuses to each, and in all likelihood you will end up using some combination of the three.

First, free ranging.  This is where the chickens run around your property eating whatever strikes their fancy.  The pluses are that this is completely free, and you won’t have a pest within sight of these beady eyed little food monsters.  The downside is that the chickens won’t put on much weight for slaughter, and unless you plant food specifically for them, they will strip your property bare.

The second, is to feed them table scraps.  My wife and I certainly see the value in this, as it prevents waste from entering the landfill.  Our problem is that we eat almost everything we make.  We would have veggies peels and cores, but very little actual food for them, so for us, this was an impractical way to feed them.  We continue to give them any scraps that come up (except for chicken), and they love them.

The last way to feed them is with grain feeds of the kind you get at Wal-Mart or a feed store.  We did do this for several months, but have swayed away from it for two reasons.  One, you are what you eat, so just as eating McDonald’s is bad for us, eating grain processed to crap is bad for chickens.  In the words of a friend of ours, you don’t want to know what goes into them.  The other is that my wife Jenn is highly gluten intolerant, and we both are living a paleo lifestyle. Too much grain in the girl’s diet was being passed on to us, and it was making my wife sick.

So in honour of chicken week, and in response to a reader question from Christi Wellington, we have decided to make our own homemade chicken food, and unlike so many sites, we are going to share the recipe.

So our goal was to make something healthy for the girls that would meet their needs nutritionally, and be cheaper to make than store bought feed.  In our area, chicken food averages 33 cents a pound in the store, our homemade chicken food cost us 25 cents a pound.  We found that in our area, Costco and Sam’s have great deals on huge bags of rice and beans.  They were the best deal we found, but since flavor isn’t an issue, shop around.

Homemade Chicken components

Here are the ingredients we used.  If you can boil water, you got this covered.  We used rice, pinto beans, some leftover mung beans (future batches will be just pinto), and we add cracked corn in the yard.  We used four cups of rice, in 9 cups of water.  If you soak the rice in the water first before turning it on, it will cook faster.  Make sure the rice is cooked through.  Chickens don’t care if the rice is mushy, be sure its cooked through.

Then we used 2 cups of pinto beans, and two cups of mung beans we happened to have left over.  The next batch will just be pinto, but why waste them?  Soak your beans overnight to reduce cooking time, but again, the key is to cook them through.  Chickens don’t mind mushy.

Homemade Chicken food

Time is usually the most precious resource in a house, so don’t hesitate to boil these while you do other things.  Homemade chicken food doesn’t need much attention.  Once it’s all done, mix together in a big bowl.  As you can see, ours filled two bowls.

Bin of Chicken Food

We feed them about half a shoebox full of food a day for our twelve girls, then throw about a cup of cracked corn on their mixture when we give it to them.  They dive right in and love it, and it lasts them right about 24 hours.

The only thing you have to do, is make sure you supplement their food with oyster shell.  If you don’t, their bones will start to deplete with egg laying.  If you don’t want to use oyster shell, you can feed their own egg shells back to them.  You just have to roast them in the oven, and grind them up.  So far we have chosen to use oyster shell, I just screwed a little bowl into the wall so it doesn’t get spilled.  We factored this into our costs when computing the homemade chicken food.

Our observations so far are very promising.  The girls love their food, and they don’t seem to be nearly as hungry during the day.  They don’t stand outside our door and belly ache for food nearly as much as they did in previous days.  We have also noticed their poops getting smaller.  It seems their bodies are absorbing more of the food, rather than passing it as waste.  We still plan on giving them our table scraps for random vitamins, but their food should meet their basic needs.

So that’s our recipe for homemade chicken food.  For whatever reason, websites seem unwilling to give one out.  Feel free to use ours, and have some happy, healthy clucks.

Day 53: Recovery and Recharging

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Well, I have to say, my timing is certainly terrible.  I managed to keep my posts going all through the run up to the goat homecoming, and then I let them drop right as the goats get here.  So I wasn’t able to share in all of the fun with you guys out there.  Now the situation has changed, and I have lots of pictures.

For some reason on Thursday morning something inside my soul let loose with an almost audible snap.  I don’t think I have ever had a panic attack before in my life, but I sure as hell did that morning.  I could barely function for close to an hour.  If you have ever had someone say the walls are closing in, and you have never had a panic attack, you have no idea what they are talking about.  That is the single most humbling, embarrassing, powerful burst of emotion you can feel in your life.  I have no idea if I was just pushing myself too hard or what, but I was not in a happy place.  So I decided to slack off and take it easy for a couple of days and allow myself a chance to recover.  I am hoping to be able to dive into my blog again, as I do enjoy writing it, but I never want to be in that emotional state again, so we will see.

Pepperoncini and Verbena:

These were our two cute little Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Jenn (Hi Jenn).  The all black one standing up was the girl, Verbena, and the white frosted one laying down is Pepperoncini.  Having never had goats before, I would describe goats as cats, but with enough brains to get into real trouble.  They know how to listen, they just choose not to.  These damn goats would actually climb up into your lap to sit there and get petted.  They were absolutely adorable.

Here is little Peppers engaged in his absolute favorite activity, getting curry combed by Jenn.

This is Peppers all tired out from his second favorite activity, eating twigs off of my wood pile.  Damn goats.  Also, watching goats lay down is absolutely adorable.  They just hunker down on their front knees and its really cute.

I would say my goat feeder worked out just fine.  They both enjoyed the crud out of their alfalfa.

Here is little Peppers with my dog Sasha.  Not exactly best friends yet, but at least they accepted each other.  I don’t have one of Beans with the dogs, and thats crucial to the story.

Note all through this post I have referred to goats in the past tense.  Unfortunately, we had to take little Pepperoncini and Verbena back to the farm where we got them.  They were absolutely adorable to have around, and I loved their cuteness and their antics.  Unfortunately, sometimes you have to do whats best for all of the animals, and not you.  Our dogs have to come first, and Verbena just could not accept them.  She was unable to bond with them, and was terrible afraid.  She actually head-butted Sasha on the shoulder one night, so of course my coward was now terrified as well.  We was constantly tense and on watch with them.  Since we refused to restrict our dogs, and having a terrified goat is cruel, we took them home.

Verbena was just way too bonded to her herd, Peppers would have loved to stay with us.  Taking them back home was very sad.  Beans ran off with the other goats and didn’t look back, she was happier there.  Peppers just stayed by the fence waiting for us to come in and play with him. He was happier with us.  So its sad, but it was best for everyone.

We are not giving up on the Nigerian Dwarf Goats though.  The farm has two little baby goats for us, also a boy and a girl.  We are going to pick them up soon, after I finish goat proofing the yard.  Since they are smaller, we think they will have an easier time with the dogs.  Also, since they are young, the haven’t been part of the big herd yet, so they shouldn’t miss them when they come here.  We are pretty sure they will think my dog Maggie is their new goat mommy, which will thrill Maggie to no end.  I will post pics as soon as I have some.

Having two full size Nigerian Dwarf Goats was helpful though.  I know what I have to do to proof the yard for them.  Ask my poor little Trovita Orange Tree how good I am at building goat fences.  Lets just say version 2.o will be better.  I will outline my improvements tomorrow.

Paleo Portion:

I made the mistake of falling off my paleo wagon for a few days, and boy am I paying for it.  I think the gluten was giving me a pain in my stomach, but its hard to separate the food from my stress level.  Jenn made tasty rosemary chicken and yellow rice last night.  It was really good.  We got more awesome food from the market yesterday too.  So hopefully I will stay on track, and feel better with a reduced stress load for a few days.

Day 49: Final Preps and New Directions

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Well, after tons of work, it seemed like they would never get here, but yesterday was the final day before little goaty homecoming.  I got the house built, sans a single pallet.  I got the feeder constructed, and a nice bale of alfalfa loaded up and ready to go.  After a crap ton of prep work, we got the yard cleaned up for them.  We are almost ready to go.

The only thing I still had to do was remove the last of the damn Oleander tree.  That stupid thing actually began to grow back once I hacked off a big chunk of it.  So despite having a pile of Oleander branches that is about 4 feet tall, I now have vigorous green growth coming up in new green shoots.  Not quite sure how to kill the damn thing and keep it down.  I think tomorrow I am going to have to bury it completely and wait for it to decompose.  In theory, once its covered with dirt, it will start to break down, just like a hugel bed.  It will break down even faster if I plant something on top of it.  So maybe a rose or blackberry bush that will grow quickly just to help add some shade in that corner of the yard.  The first part will be to cover it, and we can plan from there.

Look.  Sawzall.  Good for more than just cutting down my kitchen wall.

I got to sit for about two hours in a car dealership today, watching them try to fix what Tucson Dodge swore wasn’t actually a function of the vehicle.  Its amazing how some people can just straight up lie to you.  We have a GMC Envoy, which has a tail gate that is supposed to both swing open like a normal SUV, and lay flat like a truck.  Well, we took it to Tucson Dodge, who we purchased it from, and they broke it.  Not only did it no longer lay flat, they swore up and down that it wasn’t actually supposed to even do it.  So I don’t know what my range of readership is here, but if you ever have a chance to do business with Tucson Dodge, run away as fast as you can.

On the plus side, while waiting on my vehicle, I managed to roll the dice a little bit.  I can’t really go into specifics, for a variety of reasons, but it is beginning to feel like my life is once again slotting into the perfect groove.  Here is hoping that I am right, but we will see either way.

Paleo Portion:

Breakfast:

Coffee

4 eggs

Jenn was nice enough to get up and going even faster than me today, and had a tasty breakfast waiting for me.  Nice to keep on rolling and not be hungry all the time.

Lunch:

I spent this in the dealership

Dinner:

2 Country Style pork ribs

Squash and Ricotta

Homemade Custard

We made the pork ribs in the toaster oven, and they turned out really nice.  They were even more tender than the last time we made these.  We mixed the squash and ricotta together in the pan, and the ricotta almost melted into a white sauce.  It was actually really good with a little Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Weight: 233.  Looks like I might be headed for a new low.  We shall see.

Day 48: Goat Feeders and Garages

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Yesterday was every bit as exhausting and at some points frustrating as I had been afraid it would be.  I did get some forward progress on my To-Do lists, but not as much as I had hoped.  Even with a major setback, I would still say my project turned out really well.  We also got a chance to check out an awesome local business for the first time.  Its one that we have been saying we need to go see for years, and we finally did it.

So yesterday morning, eventually, we headed out to run our errands.  I dropped off two more boxes of books at goodwill, trimming my remainder pile down even further.  We picked up some puppy pads for the bottom of the chick cage, as well as some new chick food.  We also got a goat water dish for our Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  Its made from recycled tired, which means it should be able to stand up to goat abuse.

Then on the way home, we stopped off at Old Town Feed and Supply.  Its a cute little feed store just off of the road on my commute every day.  They have little bunnies and chickens every spring, and we have been saying we should go for literally the entire time we have lived here in Tucson.  Yesterday, we finally did.  This place was awesome.  Anything you needed for horses, chickens, wild birds or pet dogs, they had there.  On top of that, I now get to kick myself for not stopping sooner, since their prices were amazing.  They had some little baby turkeys in a bin up front, man they are adorable.  We got some chewies for the dogs, a quail block, and a nice bail of alfalfa for the goats.

It would be at this point that the day turned south a little.  Our Envoy has a tailgate that likes to not work ever since the thumb-fingered baboons at Tucson Dodge decided that it didn’t really need to do a function it was supposed to do.  So they took it apart, “repaired it”, charged us lots of money, and it hasn’t worked right since.  So next time you need a car, trust a homeless guy with an AK before you trust these idiots.  So on the way home, with a bale of alfalfa in the back, our tailgate decides it doesn’t want to close.  So we ride the last few miles home with a swinging gate.  We finally patched it closed, and now I get to spend a large part of my day in the waiting area at a car dealership.  I look forward to that joy.  Here is a shot of the ghetto work, just for kicks.

Once I got home though, I was able to build an awesome goat feeder for our Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  Now there is nothing to stop us from bringing them home on Wednesday, assuming we get the tailgate fixed.

This little guy is about 5 feet high, and holds a standard bale of alfalfa hay nicely.  I made it entirely from reclaimed wood from our old garden.  It holds the food up off the ground so it stays dry, also it healthy for the little goats to reach up for their food.  It helps keep them from getting gas, and also from wasting their hay all over the ground.  I can’t wait to see them get into feeder related shenanigans.

Paleo portion:
I really didn’t eat much yesterday, so I won’t waste time on it. I have noticed on days that I do lots of work, I just don’t feel like eating. I did have half of a killer watermelon though. It was tasty.

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