My parkour buddy, Brandon Douglas, invited me to appear on his Height Drop podcast. It was a fun chat, in which we discussed my parkour journey, getting into farming and sustainable living, existential threats, narratives, soil depletion, regenerative...
INTRO TO APPLE TREE GRAFTING (BENCH GRAFTING) WITH TREVOR NEWMAN
CLEVER TRICKS FOR PLANTING AND PROPAGATING GOOSEBERRY BUSHES (AND OTHER RIBES, LIKE CURRANTS) WITH TREVOR NEWMAN
A really good way to integrate ground cover species is overseeding either into the existing vegetation or into the compost mulch pits. We typically use a combination of like legumes like clover and veg and all that stuff and then top rooted plants like daikon, turnip, chicory, things like that they have deep taproots.
“Apparently with the rise of industry, we began to romanticize the wilderness -which is to say we began to institutionalize it within the concept of “scenic.” Because of railroads and improved highways, the wilderness was no longer an arduous passage for the traveler, but something to be looked at grand or beautiful from the high vantages of the roadside. We became Viewers of “views.”
Two years ago, Brenda and I were renting an apartment and I would commute to the farm every day to take care of our pigs, chickens, gardens and plant nursery. This situation quickly made it clear to me how important it is to actually be LIVING on the land you’re farming. This is because farming is really a lifestyle more than it is a job that you can just leave when you’re done. It makes demands of you that no job every would. This was how the adventure of our strawbale passive solar greenhouse began.
We put pigs together into a pen for the first time, and the mamma fights another pig for dominance while her piglet tries to nurse. Get out of the way piglet!
Here’s our winter pig pen made out of old pallets. It’s about an acre of fencing enclosing a thick patch of blue spruce trees. The spruce helps provide shelter from the wind and snow for the pigs, and we give them straw to insulate from the ground.
Our homestead started off with just two pigs, and we got hooked. We’re up to 13 now, and we’re even breeding our own piglets! Over the years we’ve experimented with many different types of pens, fencing and paddocks for them. By no means have we “arrived at” or discovered the perfect system. But we’ve made a portable pig pen system that meets three important design criteria for us:
This is an essential element of any sustainable homestead. Basically it’s where you store all the useful crap that you can get your hands on, before that future project comes along when you need it!!
First we created winter pig pens using pallets that were freely available at many warehouses in town. Then we fed the pigs old vegetable waste from town throughout the winter, then covered the left overs with leaves. Many squash and tomato seeds from the food waste germinated in the spring and sprouted up through the mulch. The abundance of fertility in this location provided much plant food, and the leaves helped keep them from drying out during the summer.
For the last couple years we have been experimenting with movable pig pens (pig tractors) and cover crops in order to build the soil fertility, and plant diversity of our pasture.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive! In just two years, we’ve transformed patches of our knapweed and beach sand site, into a thick lush pasture with diverse forage crops.
This is one of our pig tractors at Realeyes Homestead. We built them out of salvaged lumber and pallets, on cedar skids so that we can drag them all around the pasture. This keeps the pigs healthy and happy because they always have fresh ground to root up and forage in, and it keeps them away from their feces accumulation.
Over the last few years we’ve been collecting unique and useful perennial plant species from all over the world. (except invasive species) Some we get from friends with farms and gardens, some are responsibly transplanted from the wild, and some we order from nurseries like Oikos Tree Crops. (http://oikostreecrops.com/)
Inspired by Karl Hammer’s Compost-Chicken Hybrid system in Vermont, we began creating a compost pile inside our portable bird pen using food scraps collected from local restaurants and grocery stores. The chickens not only get to eat the fresh veggie scraps we dump on top of the compost pile every other day, but once those are eaten, they dig into the pile to harvest all the insect decomposers and other goodies that the compost pile generates. For 70+ birds (chickens, ducks etc) we only had to supplement them with about a pound of feed daily, and could probably go grain free if we had to, using this system.
In our dream world, all animals on our farm would be free-range. They would just choose to stick around and provide for us because life is so good here. Well that’s how our egg-laying hens did reside here for over a year. But recently our hens began disappearing one by one. We determined it was an aerial predator, but lost most of our flock in the process. We finally resolved to confine them for their protection, but wanted them to still have access to abundant grass and bugs from the land. Based on a little research, a portable “Hoop Coop” chicken tractor looked like just the sort of domicile our birds deserve.
Bryan Mets is a great friend, permaculture wizard, and founder of the Great Lakes Permaculture Portal, based in southern Michigan (Macomb). Last year he attended Mark Shepard’s Permaculture Design Course at Mark’s “New Forest Farm” in southwest Wisconsin. Ever since we devoured Mark’s book, Restoration Agriculture, we have nerded out on the fact that his farm is an actual working example of a large-acre permaculture based farm, incorporating keyline principles, swales, ponds, animal grazing, and perennial polycultures. He even grows his own biofuels to run his tractors and equipment! I’m excited to hear more about what Bryan learned at this 10 day, Permaculture farmer bootcamp. So, for both our enjoyment, I introduce the illustrious Bryan Mets!!
What is a Chaga Mushroom?
The Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus that is parasitic on Birch Trees, and can be found in Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, Northern areas of the United States (like Michigan!) and Canada. It is sometimes called the clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass and…
These homemade gummies / fruit snacks are very quick and easy to make. They are a great source of gelatin which is very beneficial for joint, skin, nail, hair, and gut health! When you make these make sure to use gelatin that comes from healthy, pasture raised animals. The gelatin we use comes from grass fed beef.
After our pigs escaped the electric net fence AGAIN, we were seeking out better ways to fence them in. Andy Gale of Bay Area Recycling for Charities mentioned that they had an abundance of pallets and we could use them to build a perimeter fence. It seemed like a great idea to me, especially considering that most of the fencing I was pricing out…
Beet kvass is to bile like paint thinner is to paint! One of our liver’s job is to help remove toxins from our body. It stores many of these toxins in our bile which is stored in our gallbladder. The gallbladder releases bile into the intestines when you consume fat because bile emulsifies the fat (breaks the fat up into solution) making it easier to digest and absorb.
These are a go to snack at our house! They are very easy to make and are very tasty 🙂 We add nutritional yeast to give them a cheesy flavor. Try them out and let us know what you think!
Everyone by now has heard that our little gut microbes are a big deal! More and more people are interested in probiotics and eating probiotic rich fermented foods like kimchi or fermented beverages like kombucha. I personally love talking about gut microbes they are just so fascinating to me and their importance and prevalence…
Realeyes Homestead and Bay Area Recycling for Charities are teaming up to turn city waste streams; Old Produce, Food Waste, Pallets, …into marketable products; Nutrient Rich Compost for amending gardens and farm soils, Pastured Pork, Poultry and Eggs.
Yum! Smoothies are a great way to incorporate raw greens and fruits into your diet. Making smoothies from frozen fruit is the way to go in the winter. If you were thinking ahead, you stocked up on fruit when it was towards the end of its season and it was super cheap because farmers just wanted to sell it ASAP.
Principle 1: Observe and Interact – “By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.”
Principle 2: Catch and Store Energy – “By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.”
Privilege is one of those uncomfortable topics that most of us might feel guilty about but not really know what to do about it. I’ve heard some people claim that “Permaculture is a feel good hobby for the affluent.” And like a good permie, my response would be, “It depends…”
In short, life will be very very different in the future than the relative stability we’ve seen for most of our lives up to this point. Some geologists have described the current epoch as the “Anthropocene.” This is a period when almost every ecosystem on earth bares the mark of human presence. How we go about meeting our basic needs…
Let’s talk about that oh so sexy topic; Economics! A while ago, humans figured out that they could all enjoy richer lives by exchanging their goods with one another, and leverage their unique skills and tools. “You’re really good at making shoes, I can’t even tie a shoe! But I can raise turkeys. What do you say I give you a big fat…
Then the oil age allowed us to do the wrong things with unprecedented speed and efficiency.
Oil is an almost ideal energy source. It is relatively easy to extract (until recently) requires little refining, and has an extremely high energy density.
Let’s begin with food, since it’s one of our main needs that can have a large impact on our surroundings. So humans, in this current form, have been around for about 100,000 years. Until agriculture went mainstream about 10,000 years ago, most cultures lived as hunter-gatherers, only making minor modifications…
Why bother with all the extra chores of trying to produce your own food, fuel, and other products when you can simply buy them at the store for cheap?
Well this is actually a daunting question to answer since it sort of crystallized into a clear picture after a lot of reading and reflecting on the multitude of challenges we face and how they’re all interconnected. Then also critically analyzing the lifestyle choices I make every day without thinking. This requires a systemic understanding of the industrialized modern world, as well as knowledge of the historical context in which we live. But I’ll attempt to summarize and hit the key points here, leaving all the juicy details for later posts. BTW, this
As I study this Permaculture stuff more and more, I’m getting a better idea of just what exactly it’s all about. Permaculture can get very theoretical at times, but in short, it’s a design science based on the observation and imitation of natural systems, applied to human settlements and food production. The three core ethics of Permaculture are;
1. People Care
2. Earth Care
3. Return of Surplus
Levi and I came up with this smoked fish brine recipe after giving up on brine recipes online which all included refined sugar of some sort. We were pleasantly surprised with the results! Enjoy 🙂
A quick and easy shrimp dinner you can throw together after a busy day at work!
I just made a soothing infused oil to use on my face. I suffer from eczema. Most people do not realize this, but eczema, like many other skin conditions, is usually a reflection of your digestive and immune systems. So yes, I am in the process of healing my gut and strengthening my immune system. During this long process though, I decided that I would also try some topical things to help with my eczema.
As many of you already probably know, whatever we put onto our skin goes into our bloodstream. Have you heard of the nicotine patch or the birth control patch? How about hormone creams and other topical medicines? All of those work because they go through
I love this salad! It is very simple and easy to make. Simply saute onion, chicken, and cilantro in coconut oil, plop the sauteed mixture on top of some mixed greens and top that with fresh tomatoes and avocado. Quick, easy, healthy, and tasty!
-Children with ADD have been found to be deficient in DHA (a fatty acid critical for healthy brain cell membranes).
-It is important to get good quality fish oil with DHA that is not rancid. Good quality fish oils should be batch tested and are a little pricier. One rancid, refined fish oil capsule can have the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes in free radicals!
-“In 1985, the total annual sales for all antidepressants in the United States were approximately $240 million. Today, it is in excess of $12 billion” – From “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT
-Exercise can raise serotonin levels. Even short moderate workouts help.
The brain has always been something that amazes me, and I don’t think I am the only one that feels this way. It really is an amazing organ. I like to think about it like a miniature universe (this also means that I like to think about the universe as a huge brain). While in college, being a chemistry major, I learned a lot about energy. It really opened up my mind to think and be amazed about how everything is energy! Our very thoughts in our brain are the result of electrical impulses or energy.
How do nerve cells communicate?
Michael J. Mufson, M.D., a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School and an assistant professor of
There are so many diets out there! It is hard to know which one is best. I thought that I would write up a post going over the basics; listing the six classes of nutrients, briefly explaining the role of each within our bodies, and what foods are the best sources for them. Knowing this information helps me make better choices when it comes to my meals. Hope this helps!
The Six Classes of Nutrients are:
There is so much controversy on the effects of marijuana. Some people say that it is a “natural” drug and therefore it is healthy. Other people say that there are some negative consequences of marijuana use. I wanted to write an article after doing research on the matter. The answer I found is Marijuana definitely has negative effects on the mind and body.
Marijuana and Brain Processing Speed
Myelination is the process by which brain cells, neurons, are coated with a protective sheath that increases the brain’s processing speed. Researchers showed, in a study which appeared in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, that heavy marijuana use among young
Being already interested in nutrient dense whole foods and the concept of let food be your medicine, I have started to get more and more interested in herbs. I just finished taking an herbal course at The People’s Kitchen, where we learned how to make herbal tinctures. I was very pleased to find out that making herbal tinctures is quite easy to do.
What are Herbal Tinctures?
Herbal tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts. They are made by putting fresh or dried chopped herbs in 80 proof alcohols for an extended period of time. The alcohol needs to be 80 proof in order to avoid mold growth. Preferably vodka is used as it is flavorless,
I have tried almost every natural deodorant from the store and none of them seemed to work!!! I was embarrassed to raise my arms because none of them made my armpit smell go away haha. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and did a little research on easy natural homemade deodorants.
The easiest homemade deodorant recipe I found is not even a recipe (found on www.cavegirleats.com). It is simply dipping your fingers into two different ingredients. The two ingredients are cold pressed unrefined coconut oil and aluminum free baking soda. I have a jar of each on my dresser. Every morning I dip my fingers into the coconut oil and smear a thin layer on my arm pits. Next, I dip my fingers into the baking soda and tap some baking soda on top of the coconut oil.
Margarine and shortening are both hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenation is the chemical process used to convert polyunsaturated fats, which are normally liquid (oil) at room temperature, into solids (margarine) at room temperature.
What is Margarine & How is it Made?
The procedure begins with the cheapest oils i.e. soy, corn, cottonseed or canola oil which have been processed in the cheapest ways, therefore already rancid from conventional extraction processes
A metal catalyst is added to the chosen oil to speed up the chemical reaction of hydrogenation; nickel oxide is usually used
The history of soaking and sprouting grains, nuts and seeds is long standing. It is known that ancient Chinese doctors recommended sprouts for healing many illnesses over 5,000 years ago. The Chinese also carried mung beans on long ocean voyages and sprouted them throughout their journey. This prevented scurvy as sprouting makes vitamin C more bio-available (more easily absorbed). Virtually all pre-industrialized cultures soaked their grains before consumption, some examples include: India, rice and lentils, Ethiopia, teff, American pioneers, sourdough, and Scotland, oatmeal (Original instructions on Quaker Oats called for overnight soaking).
If you have read my past “What are Healthy Fats?” post you know that you should use cold pressed, organic, unrefined, and extra virgin oils. This stands true for dressings or any other way you choose to use your oils including cooking.
What determines if an oil or fat is safe to cook with?
The more stable the fat the more heat it can withstand. So what determines the stability of a fat? We have to look at the chemistry makeup of the fat analyzing the number of double bonds and degree of saturation.
The most stable fats are solid or semi-solid at room temperature. These fats do not contain any double bonds and are called saturated fats. They do not go rancid easily. Saturated fats are animal fats like butter and lard and tropical oils including coconut
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, so GMO salmon is genetically modified. What does this mean? The biotechnology company, AquaBounty Technologies, has created a GMO salmon they call AquAdvantage® Fish. This fish is in the process of being approved by the FDA. AquAdvantage® Fish is created by injecting growth hormone from Chinook Pacific salmon and DNA from an ocean pout fish (a type of eel) into a fertilized Atlantic salmon egg. This stimulates the frankenfish to grow to market weight in only 18 months rather than the natural 3 years it takes wild salmon!
Potential Health Risks!
Many of us are starting to get the message that sugar is the bad guy, not fats, but are still struggling with which fats are healthy fats and how fats benefit us.
Deficiency in Healthy Fats can lead to:
-Endocrine Issues (Hormonal Imbalances)
-Depression and Mood Disorders
Do you suffer from or have suffered from hemorrhoids, constipation, colon disease, ileocecal valve issues, or urinary tract infections? Research shows that squatting, rather than sitting, during bowel movements makes defecation more efficient and easier with less strain. Thus, helping avoid the above mentioned health problems.
Constipation and Hemorrhoids
Constipation and hemorrhoids go hand in hand as hemorrhoids are inflamed anal varicose veins that are the result of excessive pressure applied during hard to pass stools or constipation.
Almost everyone knows or has heard the phrase “spike in blood sugar levels” and knows that it has a bad connotation, and rightfully so. So how can we avoid a spike in blood sugar levels? We can avoid a quick and dramatic spike in blood sugar levels by pairing good quality fats and proteins (i.e. grass fed meat, unrefined and cold pressed oils) with carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are very easily broken down and absorbed by our digestive system. This means that when we eat carbohydrates alone, especially refined carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates, sugar being the worst, a spike in blood sugar levels occurs. Over time this will over burden the three organs involved in blood sugar regulation, the pancreas, liver, and adrenal glands. Fats and proteins are
A common question that I get when I start talking about the health benefits of fermented foods is, “What foods are fermented?” So I decided to make a list of fermented foods.
You can ferment almost any food including vegetables, fruits, legumes, dairy, meat and fish! In order for a food to be fermented, beneficial microbes have to be present in the right environment including the correct pH and temperature range. Some ferments are anaerobic which means they are done in an airtight container without the presence of oxygen, as done in lacto-fermentation. Other ferments are aerobic which means they need exposure to oxygen therefore they are not done in an airtight container.
Are you suffering from digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, chronic constipation or diarrhea? Is your immune system over reactive resulting in autoimmune problems, eczema, allergies or food sensitivities to name a few? If so, fermented foods might be exactly what your body needs to feel healthy again.
Fermented foods are loaded with beneficial microbes (bacteria and yeast) that make up our gut flora. Maintaining this population in healthy balance is critical to our health, not only for proper digestion, but also for immune health, detoxification, and many other important bodily functions.