Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Utah Garden Challenge

aka How to Find Out Which Small Farms are Threatening Your Agribiz by U.S. Dprtmnt of Agrcltr. Read it here.

Oh and a link to a naturopathic-type home remedy database.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back to Eden Film

"Each one of us, whether we like it or not, is utterly and completely dependent on an unseen community, an invisible world... In our Western Greco-Roman compartmentalized fragmented systemized linear reductionist individualized disconnected parts-oriented thinking, we tend to disassociate the seen from the unseen. We do so at our own peril. We are all, every one of us, simply a manifestation of this invisible world."
--Joel Salatin, "Folks, This Ain't Normal," page 108
Some people made this film about mulch and compost. Some of it is kind of duh sort of stuff to us (the homesteader crowd, that is), and I think they're Evangelical Christians (which because I'm not, sort of annoys me), but if you can get past the dogma, there's some good stuff.

Watch it here (it's free), then read the how to section (I'm only recommending the right column on that page, the left column you can take it or leave it). I'm also very fond of their song "To Eden" by Tony and Jenn Hooper for some reason.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Food, Inc

Most of us already know the things in this documentary. After all, wanting to be in control of our food supply is part of what attracted us to this way of life. But if you're as obsessed as I am, you'll watch it anyway.

I like that they don't have a narrator being all authoritative. They just show interviews and in some places use the interviews as a voice-over for the visuals.

Watch the trailer.

Rent it on YouTube. 

Watch it on Movie 2K.

Watch or download it on StageVu. (If you watch it, you'll have to have DivX player. If you download it, it should play on Windows Media Player.)

Buy it on Amazon.

If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Three Reasons to Homestead

I don't want to scare anybody stiff, and these videos are disturbing. The first one is less than eight minutes long, but the other two are around an hour each, though well worth the watch. While I don't agree with them that stocking up on gold and silver is THE answer to surviving political unrest and the dollar's dive, I do think they have a point. Hedge your bets a little, learn to grow your own food. I watched all the videos in one sitting, but I definitely don't recommend it.

Reason #1: What if the dollar completely tanks? 

Reason #2: The economy is not healing like they tell us it is.

Reason #3: America is no longer the land of the free. When people get tired of dealing with a 1985 government (and by 1985, I mean the book, not the year), how is that unrest going to affect you?


Monday, April 2, 2012

Every Now and Then I Go Window Shopping for Farms...

I am so not in a place to be able to actually buy one, so I don't know why I do it. I haven't posted in probably a year because, well, there hasn't been much to post about. Right now I'm going to school (can't buy a farm without money, can't get money without something to trade for it...) and living in this massive student housing apartment complex. Which is mostly just depressing, but hey, you do what ya gotta do to get where ya need to go.

Now that I have a computer again, I'm catching up on all the blogs I follow (which is taking forever since I've been distracted with life for a LONG time...) which just makes me wish I could be on some land already. So to soothe my frustration (or maybe I'm feeding it, who knows?) I get on Lands of America, pick a state and some search parameters (acreage, county, price, etc) and then I go and drool over all the beautiful farms up for sale that I'm too broke to buy.

Like this one

83 acres in southwestern Colorado with a house, orchard and fields already established....mmm

Saturday, April 16, 2011


No gardening for me this spring :( Luckily my aunt has one so I can get my gardening fix vicariously. And meanwhile, I can read about gardening zones and daydream about what I will grow when I get a chance.
I use these three maps to find my gardening zone. The first two links probably won't help you if you don't live in Arizona, but the last link is on a site that I believe has interactive USDA Gardening and Plant Hardiness Zone Maps for other states. You just have to go to this part of the website and type in your zip code, or click on your state (there's a list on the left).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Food Safety Modernization Act

Lawyers and such swear up and down that S.501 ("The Food Safety Modernization Act") won't affect anyone's small farm or backyard garden. Psh, how's this?
It all starts with a farmer named Roscoe Filburn, a modest farmer who grew wheat in his own back yard in order to feed his chickens.

One day, a U.S. government official showed up at his farm. Noting that Filburn was growing a lot of wheat, this government official determined that Filburn was growing too much wheat and ordered Filburn to destroy his wheat crops and pay a large fine to the federal government.

The year was 1940, you see. And through a highly protectionist policy, the federal government had decided to artificially drive up the prices of wheat by limiting the amount of wheat that could be grown on any given acre. This is all part of Big Government's "infinite wisdom" of trying to somehow improve prosperity by destroying food and impairing economic productivity. (Be wary any time the government says it's going to "solve problems" for you.)

The federal government, of course, claims authority over all commerce (even when such claims are blatantly in violation of the limitations placed upon government by the Constitution). But Roscoe Filburn wasn't selling his wheat to anyone. Thus, he was not engaged in interstate commerce. He wasn't growing wheat as something to use for commerce at all, in fact. He was simply growing wheat in his back yard and feeding it to his chickens. That's not commerce. That's just growing your own food.


If you can control the food supply, you can control the people. It's like NAIS, only with plants.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today is September 11.

Nine years ago today I was nine years old and I lived in a Green Apartment. It would be five months before we moved from to Utah. Some people flew planes into buildings and I didn't know why it was a big deal.

I first heard the news when my ride to school came that day. My friend's father said someone had purposely crashed an airplane into the Pentagon. I didn't know what "the Pentagon" was (what did a shape have to do with anything?) but it the way he said it, I knew it was important, so I tried to look very serious and pretended I knew what he was talking about.

When we got to school, we didn't do very much in my 4th/5th grade class. Mostly people talked about how surprising it was that someone would do this (do what? I wanted to know. Why were these building more special than any other news story?). The teacher turned on the TV in our classroom and kept it on the news all day. Eventually I understood at least a little.

I leave you with a tribute. Please keep in your thoughts today all those who lost their lives, families, friends, and peace of mind that day. Let us not forget.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Blogging....

I'd intended to blog more with my phone, but there were so many limitations, I gave up after the first entry. Now, though, my sister and I have a laptop and internet, so I can get back to my usual chatty self and catch up on my blogroll.

We've finally moved, so now here we are in Southern Arizona (the picture to the left is from down the street) living in campers in my Aunt's backyard. It's good to be away from my Evil Stepfather and all the reasons we left, but I miss everyone I left behind like crazy! Also, as the seasons start changing to fall, I'm missing the chill in the air, the smell of smoke from everyone's woodstoves, the leaves changing color, harvesting the garden, and all the fun I have with my friends in the winter (everyone travels a lot in the summer, so we're rarely all home at once), and when winter comes this year, I'll miss the snow.

Here, the climate is a lot different. In October there, you can look forward to frost and leaves on the ground. Here, October is when the weather becomes perfect, not too hot, not too cold. There, you have cold weather and four seasons. Here, you've got two seasons: unbearably hot and temperate. The leaves don't fall off until December and spring comes in February. And it snows something like once every five years.

Ironically enough, it's a lot greener here, even though technically this is the desert, not there. Thing is, here is a "major agricultural center" kind of thing, located in a river valley, while where I used to live is more of a "gateway to the nat'l parks" thing. In closing, here's a slideshow of my new home.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We Don't Have Internet Anymore

...but my cell has internet so it's ok. I didn't think I could cuz of how lo-tech the browser is but here I am!

Right now I'm at this multi-level marketing party thing where they sell tacky home decor. I'm here but I don't like it. If you go and watch "The Story of Stuff" (it's in my sidebar), you'll understand why I'm so danged irritated. People come here, they buy the dishes, candle holders, framed pictures, baskets, potpourri, statuettes...all of it tacky and overpriced; none of them worth the unsustainable practices they support. It's not that I don't understand buying things that aren't earth-friendly, it's that I don't understand paying so much for things you don't need, won't last, aren't pleasing to the eye, and will just end up in some landfill somewhere.

It epitomizes everything I hate about the consumer society we live in. You should buy it cuz you need it, not cuz it appeals to your inner shopaholic!!! Grrr!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to Decide Where to Live in the Country

So, I'm researching desirable places to live in Colorado. I had a very scientific method (*snort snort*) if you'd like to try it yourself:
  1. Go through your four back issues of Country Magazine and that book you have, A Year in the Country, 2nd Editon. Very Good. Now, whenever you see somewhere you like the looks of, write down the name of the town. If it's a nat'l park or something, get out your atlas and find a nearby town. If you like, only write down names of placesin a particular region. Like, I only wrote down the places in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain states (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado). 
  2. You should have a nice, list of about twenty five various places by this time. My list included: Jackson, Wyoming. Telluride, Colorado. Noxon, Montana. Silverton, Colorado. Bozeman, Montana. Winston, Oregon. Chattaroy, Washington. Yampa, Colorado. Belgrade, Montana. Alsea, Oregon, Montrose, Colorado. Monument, Colorado. And several more. At this point I could see I had a definite preference for Colorado scenery, so I made a new list of the Colorado locations only. 
  3. I definitely wanted to live in the Rockies, so I got out my big Rand McNally 2010 Road Atlas (you can usually also get maps of states for free from the states' tourist site, Colorado's is here). Next, I looked at the index of towns in the back and all the towns farther over than column 14 (just past Denver's longitude) got crossed off. I now had a list of about ten towns which I listed in alphabetical order on a page in my notebook I have where I write all the details of my homesteading plans. I wrote down the Rand McNally coordinates (you can find those by looking up the towns in the index in the back). Then I went on and found the county, population, elevation, and temperature average for each location and wrote that down next to each town. 
  4. That's when I noticed this handy little link on City-Data's home page: Small Towns. If you follow the link, you will be taken to a list of all fifty states. Click on whichever state you wish. Naturally, I picked Colorado. I was now at a page with fairly long list of all the towns in Colorado with less than 1,000 residents and a map with pins on it showing their location. I copy and pasted the entire list into a blank Notepad document. Then, I used the index in my Atlas to take all the towns off the list that were farther over than column 14. There were a few towns that weren't in the Atlas. Those I left on there to look at later. 
  5. I decided to take the elimination process a step further and cross off all the towns that were farther over than column ten (in other words, keeping only the towns on the left page). Then, I went to the map on City-Data where the list of small towns were and invented my own coordinates for the towns not on the map. Mountain Village, CO--for example--is not on the Atlas or found in the index. It's coordinates are K-6 (row K, column 6). Rico, CO was on the atlas but not in the index (also located in K-6). 
  6. Temperature came next. Using the information found on City-Data, I crossed off all the towns whose average temperature at the hottest time of the year (usually July) was less than 60 degrees or so got marked off. Then, I got rid of all the towns that I felt were too close to Denver. At this point, the entire list (a culmination of the previous steps) was down to twenty-seven. I decided this was enough. You may wish to continue narrowing down. If so, you can use any of the following criteria:  county/state, snowfall, sunshine, precipitation, distance from major metropolitan areas, proximity to houses of worship, population, taxes, laws, average age, employment opportunities average income, schools, grocery stores, etc. Most of that info can be found on the City-Data page or one of City-Data's forums. 
  7. Once your list is as short as you wish, open a word processing or similar document and type in the following categories on the first line: Name, Population, Rand McNally Atlas coordinate (I shortened it to just "RMcN"), Temperature at different times of the year, County, and any other details that are important to you. Now type in your list of towns and their information in each of your chosen categories (one town per line is how I organized mine). Now it's time to decide which category to sort your list by. Mine was originally sorted by name, but I decided that temperature was most important and so I sorted that way. The quickest way to do that is to highlight your list and click the button that makes it a bulleted list. Then, use the bullet toolbar to move each bullet point up and down the list as desired. You can highlight the list and click the bullet button again to remove the bullets if you don't want them there later. 
You now have a fine list of different areas to check out. You don't have to visit them all in person (especially if your list has about twenty-five places on it like mine does). Start by trawling the internet. Read its page on City-Data and the forums on City-Data that it's mentioned in. Google the town's name in quotes (ie, "Crawford, CO"). Request tourist info (to look at the pretty pictures). Read the state, county and town websites (if they exist). Find out about building codes and remodeling codes (did you know Cheyenne County in Colorado doesn't have building codes? Think of all the different alternative buildings you could construct without worrying about convincing Planning & Zoning!). Check out climate maps and gardening zones. Look for population maps and county maps. Read the Wikipedia entry for the state, county, and town, then visit all the relevant links in the article.

You are, of course probably looking for rural land, so use the town as a jumping-off point to find an area that suits you best. You're not really looking for the town, so much as the area. Google search the name of your town and "real estate" (ie, Pagosa Springs, CO real estate). Look through the listings. You don't have to be looking seriously. The point of this exercise is to get a feel for the land before you spend money to go scout it out. Real estate listings will reveal what kind of land is available, the going rate for the different kinds, and (best of all) it will probably provide pictures of the place which are always so much fun, but also give you a good visual of the area. Note things like what kind of vegetation grows there, is it too cold for deciduous trees?

Go on GoogleMaps and find the town on there. With this tool, you can look at traffic, road maps only, the terrain and road map together (it's called "Satellite"), and under "More" there's photos, videos, Wikipedia, webcams, etc so you can see the land from more than just a bird's-eye view. Another favorite of mine is "Terrain." With this filter, you can see a map of the terrain and if you zoom in to a certain level, the different elevations are labeled to about every 1,000 feet. This way, it's easy to tell the location you're viewing is in a valley, on a mountain, in the midst of flatland, etc and how high above sea level it is.

This is fun, whether or not you're seriously looking for a place to live or just daydreaming about "someday." After all this internet exploring, you'll probably be able to narrow down the area to just a few places. I have found that area I like best is Southwest Colorado, specifically the area that includes Delta County, Gunnison County, and Hinsdale County. 

Blah, Blah, Blah

Wow, that last post was looong. But I think I stayed on topic for that most part, so it's all good. Our plans at this point are so up-in-the-air at this point that we don't even know what we're doing. So far we've come up with the following locations:
  • Southeastern AZ (where my acre is located)
  • St George, UT
  • Spokane,WA/Coeur d'Alene, ID
  • Tacoma, WA (where a cousin of my mother's lives)
  • And Rural Colorado. But I think that at this point it's kind of one of those castles in the air that Louisa May Alcott frequently referred to in her books. Ooooh! A pertaining quote!
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
--Henry David Thoreau
Of course my vote is all for Colorado (except I did mention once that I thought we should move to Romania). Right now what we're doing is hoping and praying. Tomorrow my mom is going to call about some rentals in St. George, UT since that's the closest and therefore most feasible of the five.

But enough with the Realism already lol. I've been researching a lot of places and even considered other places outside of Colorado, but I keep coming back to Colorado. The more I research, the better I like it. Why? Well, it's fairly natural disaster-free: it's not particularly earthquake prone, no tsunamis or Hurricanes (since it's nowhere near any oceans), it's mountainous and therefore tornadoes are unlikely. Also, out of all the states, it is the only state where all of it is above 3,281 feet. Its lowest point (where the Arikaree River flows into Kansas) is the highest of all the states low points: 3,315 feet.

It's amazing the things you can learn from Wikipedia.

Of course Colorado has the Rocky Mountains which naturally makes it my favorite (shhh, don't tell her that Idaho and Wyoming and Montana do, too!). There are points against it of course: Daylight Savings Time is one big one. Arizona doesn't have that and that's one thing I really like about it. Also, it gets really cold in some places. Cold doesn't necessarily = bad thing, but cold + short growing season does = bad thing. Greenhouses are a solution, but having all your gardens and orchards in greenhouses just seems...sad...

Also, the testing part of the homeschooling laws are just dumb (Arizona and Idaho don't have homeschool student testing). I do see the upside to testing (making sure that the children are actually learning), but, in my mind at least, the downside is worse. You see, if you're homeschooling your child because they're doing poorly in school, then if they don't improve enough to pass that year's testing then back to school they go. There are ways around this evaluation (like having a teacher who's a family friend come in and do it in a non-testing way), but it's still a drawback. On the brighter side, they don't require school/teacher supervision for the actual schooling part.