Dc Stewart wrote:Our previous property developed a serious vole infestation until a kestrel (AKA "weapons of mouse destruction") showed up with a mate and started a family. A year later, there were kestrels on continuous sentry duty atop the trees and the vole population withered away. We helped out by keeping weeds and grass mowed short in the garden area to deny surface cover. Afterwards, the hornets decided that the abandoned vole mounds were ideal places to construct ground nests, but that's a different story.
That's encouraging. My neighbour has seen them at his place. I need to figure out a way to invite them to our land. Thank you for this.
Dan Fish wrote:I haven't done it in a while but my favorite is applejack. I used to make a simple apple wine that was then left out to freeze multiple nights while the ice is removed daily making for a more potent beverage. In Alaska where I first learned to make it that stuff would get STRONG. Here, not as much.
It's pretty hard to measure the resulting alcohol volume, but you can calculate the maximum. We've jacked cider that was 15% and gotten it to 51% maximum, but it required cold nights dipping to near -40deg.. It's still surprisingly smooth considering the strength.
We tried brewing cider with added "candied sugar" that was VERY dark. After we jacked it, it felt only right to call it Black Jack.
Victor Johanson wrote:I'm about to find out if the voles will be problematic here...I've never hindered them, and when I built a hugelbed three years ago, they proceeded to turn it into a giant vole condo. Now I see them running all over the place. I thought maybe last winter they would do some damage, but all I found were a few nibbles. This summer they ate on a few spuds and carrots and felled some grain stalks, but not enough to cause alarm. They were everywhere, so I think this winter will be a good test. Up here people think I'm nuts to tolerate them, but I hate to go on a killing jag until I know I have a problem, and so far I don't. I also think the aeration they introduce may help warm our cold soil. My theory is that the reason most people have problems with them in their orchards here is that there is nothing but fruit trees and some grass. What else are they supposed to eat? I'm in the midst of my "plant everything everywhere" campaign, so there are all kinds of vole comestibles available. I know a guy who spreads sunflower seeds to lure them away from his plants. The main problem here isn't with them eating the roots in winter, because the entire root zone is frozen solid, so instead they end up girdling trunks. I lost a Nanking cherry that way, and one apple tree was girdled except for a tiny isthmus of bark. It survived, although it took a long tome to recover, and is still more of a bush than a tree ten years later. I finally got one apple from it a couple years ago. But anyway, now I have plenty more selection, so I'm hoping it will enable the voles to remain part of the system without destroying its main function of providing me with what I want.
I love your philosophy. I also unwittingly created a vole hotel in one of our hugelbeds. It was a late season project and corners were cut in order to get it completed. I think I didn't pack enough soil in between logs and left enough voids for them to get established in there. Most of my problem trees and shrubs are in that one hugelbed, so I'm guessing the roots are getting ravaged.
Susan Monroe wrote:I've got a rodent dog that I can lend/give you. She's pretty tenacious. And she doesn't eat them, apparently, just leaves the bodies lying around for you to keep score.
But there is that problem with the holes, though... I've suggested that she fill them in when she's finished, but all she does is look up at me, wag her tail, and say, "What?"
I watched one of our golden retrievers digging in the snow with obvious determination. She would dig, dig, dig--then listen. Dig, dig, dig-- listen, until she was in the hole about 18" deep. Then, she popped out with a vole hanging out of her mouth. I think she was as surprised as I was. She didn't kill it though, she just wanted to know who was down there.
Dennis Bangham wrote:Expanded shale (Permatil) advertises that it blocks voles/moles if added to soil. I bought a cubic yard from a landscaping nursery and I use it everywhere since I am trying to break up a lot of clay.
Dennis, are you seeing any improvements after using the expanded shale? I'm wondering if fine crushed rock chips would also work, as that is readily available where I am.
We've had our worst year yet for vole activity and damage. I have lots of footpaths that I keep shoveled free of snow and there were several times that I scooped up a vole in my shovel. I've stood quietly beside snow-covered garden beds and heard them talking to each other or themselves as they tunnel about just below the snow surface. Seeing them at any time of year is a daily occurrence. I've nearly stepped on them, and one walked over my boot while I was standing still once. I don't know how this ranks in terms of infestation.
With the snow finally leaving last week (before returning yesterday), we were able to survey the gardens, fruit trees and bushes for damage. About a dozen trees and shrubs have been dined on. Two of our oldest little apple trees were badly chewed--one fatally, the other one is probably a goner too. We use plastic spiral protectors or hardware cloth as protection, depending on the circumstances. Where we used a hardware cloth perimeter barrier, the voles tunneled under and chewed away. Our gardens look like there had been an earthworks project going on all winter under the snow.
I've read that predators are not going to put a noticeable dent in the population, so I'm looking to other possible deterrents. I'm thinking of putting down a layer of fine crushed rock to disrupt their tunneling. It makes sense to me but has anyone tried it?
I'm also thinking about cutting hardware cloth squares with a slit to the center so that I can lay a piece of it on the ground, with the slit parted in order to go around the trunk. This, plus the trunk protection should be an improvement, I think.
Finally, now that I'm getting familiar with their behaviour, I plan to build brush piles away from my trees and gardens. I noticed that several poplar branches that had been laying on the ground under the snow were chewed completely. If I gave them more of this food, plus a protected habitat, maybe they would leave my stuff alone. Or would I just be encouraging even more of them?
We're just about ready to tap a few birch trees for sap. Last year we simmered the sap from 160 liters down to about 11 and brewed three 1Gallon carboys of Birch Beer. We wanted to keep it simple and see what it would taste like all on its own. The results didn't really impress me but my girlfriend loves it. I'm wondering if anyone has tried a good recipe that includes some interesting and natural added ingredients. I'm told that many of the original Root Beers were made with birch sap. I wish we had stockpiled some sarsaparilla root that we could use.
We have been brewing all kinds of sub-par wines over the past year and a half. We try to keep experimenting with each new ferment and our focus is on economy rather than quality. A friend works at a grocery store and he notified us that the owner was preparing to throw out a box of apples that she considered past their prime. We were told they were ours for free if we wanted. The gallon of cider we produced from it cost less than a nickel for the yeast and was proudly labelled "Dumpster Cider #1".
olin erickson wrote:What is the virtue of the “no prune” method? I wasn’t even aware that was a thing. It seems to me that might work ok with bush cherries or juneberries but with larger fruit you could be wasting your time and space. At least training branches more towards horizontal changes hormones and can improve fruiting.
I have a dozen apples that I planted from seed - they’re forming a hedge - lots of vigor, no fruit yet.
Stefan Sobkowiak says that if you train the branches to droop at or below horizontal it will trigger reproductive hormones. I believe he was taught this by some French orchardists. He was using heavy wire with the ends bent into hooks to pull the branch and hooked the other end on the trunk. I think he was leaving these in place for a few months, or longer if necessary.
This might give you some of the fruit you're looking for and a little less vigour.
5 years ago, I got a hold of some Antonovka seeds. I was even more of a newb back then, so most didn't sprout. One that did sprout popped up on the same day that our friends' first child was born, so I was very careful to keep it marked and to protect it. It was still tiny when winter came so I overwintered it by sinking the pot into the ground and covering it with 4inches of styrofoam. The styrofoam was held up by a section of plastic bucket so as not to crush the seedling(s). There were two of them that made it through the winter just fine. I was nervous when the snow melted and I was able to peek in on them. Success! A week later, I lifted the styrofoam off so I could bring the seedlings indoors to get a head start, only to find that a vole had found them. It chewed the styrofoam enough to get at them, nearly destroying the 2nd seedling but only slightly injuring the "birthday seedling", which is now growing in the back yard of the young boy it shares a birthday with. Both have grown reasonably well, despite our climate.
I'd love to see photos of your childhood home and/or hear any words of wisdom you or your parents might have to share.
Sorry for the rambling...we should start a thread with stories of growing up this way...
You really shouldn't be apologizing for this post. It was beautifully written and fun to read. I wish you'd written more, in fact. Your Dad sounds like the kind of people this world is desperately in need of--people not only willing, but happy, to toil away at tasks that don't bring immediate rewards. There are unfathomable possibilities available to people if they just commit to an hour per day of labour. And labour can be enjoyable when it is in pursuit of something beautiful and your own. Paid work has its conveniences and benefits, but it has stripped us of a level of self worth that a paycheque can't buy.
I think your idea of a new thread about growing up "this way" is brilliant.
We planted about a dozen around 4 years ago. This year I think we'll try harvesting. I should put quotes around "harvesting" as we're pushing our luck, zone-wise, and I suspect that where we live, they maybe shouldn't be planted in part shade. If the harvest is a dud, perhaps we'll move some or all to a better site. Like Montana. Sigh.
Britton Sprouse wrote:
The more voluntarily one does another's bidding, the more power that other has. The more resistance one puts up to another, the less power that other has. A complete loss of power feels akin to death.
I like doing favours for people that I like. Sometimes these people feel compelled to compensate me somehow but I decline because I know that the dynamic will be changed into an employee/employer relationship. If I help my neighbour out of a feeling of generosity, she'll thank me with a smile. If my neighbour hires me to do the same thing, I'll feel compelled and she'll be concerned about getting her money's worth. I feel like I have the "power" when I volunteer and I feel uncomfortable with it, so I try to downplay or even obscure what I've done so the recipient doesn't feel obliged in any way.
When I worked for a paycheque, I used to start earlier than I was required to so that I could feel like I was actually volunteering part of my time. This was only known to me usually, but allowed me to feel less like the company "owned" me completely.
The process of typing this out has made me realize that I've got some hangups that don't work very well in society.
I prefer an air horn. I do not trust that I will think to check wind direction if dealing with a bear...would hate to spray myself or the dogs, and be incapacitated out in the bush facing a bear.
I once worked up north and took polar bear safety training. The instructor had a lot of experience training people all over Canada regarding all types of bears, and made a point of telling us that about 25% of people using bear spray in an emergency spray themselves, whether it's from wind or improperly aiming.
Matu Collins wrote:So, is the idea that the very act of calling someone a douchebag is what causes one's own douchebaggery?
What I get from all this is that it is highly likely that everyone on the planet is a douchebag by now. The bar seems to be very low for membership, and since nomination begets membership for the nominator, there will quickly be a lack of non-douchebags. This all reminds me of this skit:
Henri Paves wrote:This tactic made me think about all the free ebooks I've downloaded over the years, and never read. I've been much more likely to read an ebook if I've paid for it. Even if it's $0.99.
I have a collection of those freebies too, but I think Paul and Shawn's book is the type that will draw people in to just take a peek, and if they're the right people for the job, they'll get comfy and browse the whole thing. I think this book would be a hit in waiting rooms of various types.
1- No fast food joints
2- No big box stores
3- An old-looking hardware store with smiling people entering and exiting (watch the entrance for a few minutes)
4- A few small cafes or restaurants with happy people inside smiling as they talk to each other
5- A park with kids and adults playing
6- No more than 25 cars or trucks parked in any one place
7- More people bicycling or walking than driving
8- A town office that looks like the least expensive building in town (but well-maintained)
9- At least 4 hours from a large city
10- No one single industry that the town relies on
Devon Deshotels wrote:What holds me back is basically not knowing how to approach my new neighbors with this idea.
Hi Devon. Your thinking aligns with mine in regard to community. I like the idea of an informal, loose-knit assembly of people with at least some shared interests and overlapping skillsets. Your uncertainty as to how to introduce the idea to your neighbours is probably a reflection of our society's fixation on competition and the acquisition of things. This is obvious when you drive down a street and see every household has their own lawn mower, snowblower, multiple cars, etc. even though most of these spend the majority of their functional lives in a garage. The millions of dollars tied up in idle machinery in a neighbourhood seems absurd. Then there are all the people with their skills, abilities, professions, etc. that are only being utilized by a corporate employer. There must be a better way or at least an improvement to what exists.
I hope your quest bears fruit of some form.
Anne Miller wrote:As someone who has owned several businesses, I feel the first approach would be to have a good lawyer, a good insurance agent, and then a good tax accountant. This is helpful to answer your questions..
You clearly and plainly stated some of the best reasons to avoid going into business. I avoided any excessive reliance on those three for years until success brought out an array of hands wanting to "share" in that success. It wasn't long before it became clear that my business existed at least partially for the benefit of a series of entities that had little or no contribution to its ongoing profits. The fun drained out of it in a direct proportion to the involvement of lawyers, insurers and accountants.
I'd open a lemonade stand and have a blast making $1 a day before I ever venture back into anything requiring those three.
I think Permies might unwittingly be making me a better person. The Permies forums gave me the opportunity and safe space to be polite to people without fear of being attacked for showing "weakness", and I've found myself carrying that approach into other online venues. Results so far have been stunning. It seems like most people in other forums are actually yearning for decency but afraid to make the first move. When I resist the urge to respond to an attack with equal or greater rudeness, I find myself perfectly capable of finding some common ground wherein my attacker and I can lower our weapons and, at the very least, mutter something apologetic and/or supportive. More often than not, the response is startlingly friendly, and a 180 degree turn from the initial aggression. This is very encouraging to me and has had a very positive impact on my state of mind. I think it is even spilling over into my offline world in the few occasions when I can legally interact with a human. I really think there is hope for this world.
Thank you to all the behind the scenes people that make this place so enjoyable and to Paul for having the vision for it all.
Peter Paulson wrote:I think he got some attention in past threads about growing apples from seed - maybe even some about grafting lots and lots of varieties to one tree.
It's unfortunate that Steven Edholm and Skillcult haven't gotten more traction here on Permies. I've been following his work with apple breeding for a while and he really is doing some cool stuff. He's debunked the myth about apple seeds being like lottery tickets by selectively targeting desired traits of various cultivars and crossing them together to generate new varieties that combine those characteristics. He is also confronting the big corporation apple goliath that wants you to believe that the best apple you'll ever eat is one that is most profitable to them. The apple industry selects apple varieties based on criteria such as appearance on store shelves and ability to survive long distance transport. Why are we leaving apple breeding to big corporations when the apples that we really want are ones they consider unsuitable?
If anyone is interested in this kind of thing, he has a lot of instructional videos and blog posts at skillcult.com to assist you and he sells seeds, scion wood and pollen at very reasonable prices.
Marianne Cicala wrote:I've been asked me help find someone interested in learning his trade and buying his equipment for the process. if you're interested in this, please p.m. me with name, interest level etc. If you have land to grow the sorghum etc and able to come down to south central VA to meet, participate etc in the harvest & processing. I do not know what he is asking for the equipment, but feel strongly that if he likes you and likes your passion, it will be a "friendly" price as we call it down south.
I'm really curious if this ever went anywhere. This looks like a pretty cool opportunity but one that is polar opposite to where young people are being pointed today. Too bad your post predated the SKIP program's heyday as I think it would have gotten more of a spotlight.
John F Dean wrote:Bill makes a good point in that we need to define our terms ....which, of course, is what this post is all about.
There is lived years age, maturity/immaturity age, lived experience age, physical condition age, mental condition age, emotional maturity/immaturity age and maybe more. I wonder if a Myers/Briggs-type of categorization could work?
Faye Streiff wrote:I totally agree, it is a state of mind. My husband is nearly 80 and is out chipping some of the branches from the 40 something 80 feet tall white pines he just cut, so he can make room to set up the Alaskan chain saw mill and saw them into lumber. I only came in to make supper.
That's a beautiful post. Eloquence, subtlety, humility and a hint of humour. You packed a lot into that short pause from your activities.
In reality though I think "elderly" occurs when the hazy recollections of past glory outshine the futures potential.
This is what troubles me. In the years before I went off-grid, off-society and off-treadmill, I had plenty of exciting experiences that still astonish me. These memories feel like they were lived by somebody else, and in many ways they were. Now, with my chosen lifestyle being one of simplicity, I can't help but flashback to some of the amazing moments of my "past life", and when I do, I realize that I'm doing exactly what you mentioned. I don't want to be the guy at the end of the bar, trying to convince people that the cover of the book does not do justice to the stories inside.
The things that excite me now and occupy my time would be dull and pointless to the prior version of me. But I look at the prior version of me and see that I was just stuffing myself full of frivolous activities and fleeting excitements. I get more out of befriending a grouse today than any hobnobbing I did back then.
Remelle Burton wrote:I love reading these replies! You all just helped me feel better about my decision to age-in-place on my tiny half-acre just south of town. I know I know - it is not a lot of land but I am making it my haven. This was supposed to be my second-start home, after my divorce in 2013. I would fix it up and then buy the land I always wanted, assuming I still had my good-paying job and no other debt than the house. Alas, a geologist in the oil and gas business in northeast Wyoming has no chance at security in a job for very long - especially a female over 55. Anyway, after chasing all over Williston and looking for better paying work, I am back in my same house and back at my old geo job in Sheridan, Wyoming, at half the pay, so the debt load is atrocious but my homestead-ette is coming along. It is a one-story house with gardens and chickens and I plan to make every inch accessible by walker or wheel chair, just in case. I have deer, turkeys, geese, pheasants, rabbits and doves at the place most of the day. There is a lot to do but it is a hoot to come home to my paradise-in-the-making and know that if I need to sell all my furniture and record albums and music CDs, etc, to make the mortgage payment, it will all be worth it. I, too, use raised beds, hugelkultur, a million large pots, 4wheeler, 2 wheeled wheel barrow, and my neighbor's wood splitter. They love fresh eggs, so there you go. My bulk buying is in 5 gallon buckets which I scoop into half-gallon canning jars for storage. I "hoard" lentils and durum and spring wheat. I plan to can those things that will last for 5 years at a time and hope to find a friend to split the ownership of a freeze-dryer with me. I love having freeze dried foods for hiking and storage, since I can't pack the weight that I used to. I plan to put gutter covers on the house to keep out leaves and keep me off the ladder too much, and add some solar panels to the extra well on my place.... I do have power backups in place. Another plan is a metal roof, metal siding and ramps instead of stairs. I use free wood pallets and old lumber to make my raised decks. This year the green house will get put together from a kit, the medicinal garden will have it's own yard and hopefully I will draw an elk tag again, as my 2015 bull is just about eaten up. Thank you for this group!!! I am happy that I found you.
None of what I just read sounds as though it was written by someone "aging in place". You sound able, capable, active and determined. The world needs more people with these qualities and I hope your example inspires more people to keep at it.