Blog

Wednesday, 02 December 2015 13:36

“Dirt Rich” Community Composting Program

We are working with a handful of neighbors to get a small-scale community composting program started.  The following text is copied from a Word Document that you can download below as an attachment. We encourage everyone to participate in a community program like this, at some level.  Even if you're not gardening at home, you are still producing food scraps! 

Tired of hauling water and stomping ice out of containers?  I have the solution.

Background:
This is our first attempt at raising pigs in the back yard.  We built a basic fence and pig house, got the pigs, and started feeding and watering them.  We were hauling 5 gallon buckets of water for a short time before we realized a better solution was in order.  We have two of these 275-gallon water totes: one under our deck that hooks up to the gutter, and another down by the pigs.  We fill the one using rain water and then use a long hose to fill up the other tank down by the pigs.  No more carrying water!  The hardest part was figuring out how to keep the whole thing from freezing solid during the winter, as it typically hits single digits in January and February here in Northeast PA.

Caution:
Since water and electricity do not mix well, it is important that you install a ground rod next to your tank.  I installed my ground rod about 3 feet away from my tank and ran a long copper wire up the side of the tank and down into it.  If you are not comfortable installing a ground rod yourself, have an electrician come do it for you.  This way, if something goes wrong with one of the electric heaters, it will not shock us or the pigs.  Be sure to check your wires regularly (every few months, at least) and replace things before they wear out. 

We have been fortunate enough to have a neighbor that was willing to let us expand our backyard homestead operation onto their property.  They were concerned about us developing the property and claiming "squatters rights" to it, so they asked that we write up a contract for everyone to sign.  The purpose of sharing this document is so that other folks, who are interested in homesteading and sustainable agriculture, can work together and do the same thing while protecting themselves legally.

Note: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

Found this video from my first trip to Paragon Adventure Center when it was in Hazleton, PA.  On this day, the access paths were so icy that we had to use 4wd and drive on the shoulder just to get into the park.  Then we were only able to drive around on the "access paths" because the actual trails were impassible.  This was with my first jeep, a 1990 Cherokee Limited with 3" Rustys Off Road Lift. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 11:04

Product Review: PFERD Chain Sharp®

There are a lot of DC and AC-powered saw sharpeners available, and they seem nice, but I didn't want to buy one.  Mainly because I can bring a chain into the local shop and they will sharpen it for about $6.  And for $6, you walk out with a chain that is "like new."  However, they can only sharpen a chain 5 times using their big machine before there is no more teeth remaining.  I wanted a sharpening solution that would accomplish a few things:

  • It must work without electricity.  I don't want to bring a battery, inverter, or need to stand near my truck in order to sharpen my chain. 
  • It must be simple to operate.  I am not a professional lumberjack and never intend to be. 

Goodbye, Facebook.  Goodbye, Twitter.  Goodbye, Youtube.  Goodbye, MySpace.  Goodbye, Google+.  

Edit 1/19/17:
Facebook blocks RT from posting until after Trump inauguration

Edit 1/16/17:
Angela Merkel caught on hot mic griping to Facebook CEO over anti-immigrant posts

For now, I’m keeping my LinkedIN account up and running because I’ve found numerous clients from it, and I have a handful of good recommendations from clients on my profile.

I’ve been becoming increasingly frustrated with my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts lately.  It seems that social media is a great tool, but it’s becoming too centralized.  Too corporate.  Newsfeed are censored: unlike traditional communications tools, just because you post something, doesn’t mean that people will actually see or read it.  

I’m tired of these large corporations earning a profit off of me, signing into Facebook every day like a sucker.  

I recently read this article on CNBC about a company called Beepi.  It’s middleman company that helps you buy a used car from across the country.  It will inspect and take photos of the car you want to buy, and help with delivering it directly to your home.  We recently purchased a vehicle from Alabama (from Pennsylvania) without the use of a 3rd party service like Beepi, and I had a great experience with it, so I figured I would write an article to share my experience and provide some pointers.

These steps and ideas are relevant whether you’re buying from a dealer, or from a private party.  For our purchase, we were looking for a full-size pickup truck; our requirements were a diesel motor, no rust, manual transmission, extended cab, and 8 foot bed.  (Good luck finding a rust-free truck up north.)  We found one on AutoTrader or Cars.com but it was down in Alabama.  Not exactly close enough to go test drive it!

I find it ironic that humans are the only animal ‘lucky’ enough to walk upright, when so many suffer from lower back pain. I’ve got a slightly bulged disc in my lower back that was diagnosed in 2007. I've been through the whole process: X-Ray, MRI, pain medication, and physical therapy.

Some people suffer from lower back pain due to an injury or accident, I believe mine is mainly due to bad posture and lack of exercise. I seem to go through cycles; one week, I’m doing push-ups and sit-ups, my back feels great, and I start slacking on the exercise. I get lazy. Then the pain comes back and I start doing push-ups again. Rinse, lather, repeat.

To the right, you’ll see the chicken coop that my wife and I built ourselves. We’ve been working on it over the last year or so, making adjustments and enhancements, so I want to write about what we’ve learned. We refused to spend hundreds of dollars on just their coop so we got some free pallets from down the street and scavenged for scrap wood.

I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies for over 15 years. When I was a teenager, I had prescription-strength nasal spray, eye drops, and pills (Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra). All of these were somewhat helpful in addressing the symptoms I encountered: sneezing, itchy, puffy, watery eyes. When it got bad, I would rub my eyes so much that they would swell shut.

On Health, Honey:

A few years ago I started paying attention to eating healthy foods (non-GMO, organic, that sort of thing) and one of the topics that came up was that of eating local, raw honey to combat seasonal allergies.

  • "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

    - Steve Jobs