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alexia allen - wilderness instructor and homesteader

 
master steward
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I now have three videos with alexia.  The most famous is respectful chicken harvest, part 1:



There is also part 2, and the video about bow drill fire making / wood fired pizza oven 

I have taken footage of her and a bunch of wild edibles - which I lost.  And I have taken more footage of her talking about a variety of plants, and folks will be able to see those when I have enough footage for each of those species.

I would very much like to get more footage of alexia.  I think she has mountains of stuff to teach all of us.  I would like to do a podcast with her. 

I think there are a lot more species of plants where she has a lot of really valuable knowledge.  She is also doing something VERY interesting that is in the world of frugality.  I don't know the details, and I'm not sure how much she is willing to publicly share:  she has rented out a few rooms at her place and she seems perfectly content as a minimalist to be without a private room.  She seems to prefer to sleep under the stars.  As much as some people might plan a path like that, I kinda get the feeling she had a room in her own home, wasn't ever using it, and somebody else came along that wanted to enjoy her property with her and .... I can see her saying "here, take this room - nobody is using it." 

I suspect that there is a treasure trove to learn here.  A lot that I can wrap my head around, and far more than I cannot yet wrap my head around.

At the same time, I suspect that my presence is a bit wearing for her, as it is for almost anybody. 

I feel like if I had three good topics to ask her about, she would be good with that.  As is, the best I can come up with is either a list of 100 topics where I am still trying to gather video footage or to say "I dunno - something."

So, I'm opening this up to you all:  what might be a really good topic for me to suggest to her?  Or maybe folks have some questions for her if I get a podcast opportunity.






Staff note (Jocelyn Campbell) :

See more about Alexia, including her blog, events, newsletter, photos, etc. at her farm website: HawthornFarm.org.

 
Mother Tree
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I'd like to know what motivates her - does she have a philosophy of life that she follows?  Or a set of ethics?  Or does she just follow her heart and live each day as it comes?
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:
I'd like to know what motivates her - does she have a philosophy of life that she follows?  Or a set of ethics?  Or does she just follow her heart and live each day as it comes?


I second those questions...
 
paul wheaton
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I got email from her yesterday.  Apparently, she wants to wait a few years for a podcast.

If I can come up with some good video topics, I suppose she might be willing to do that.
 
pollinator
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I would guess that she does a lot of cooking with 'weeds' or plants that most of us are not familiar with.  I would be interested in that.

And what about herbs? Does she prepare, use, grow herbs?

She does look like a very interesting person that we could learn a lot from.   Often those of us who live in the contemporary world are not yet wise enough to know the right questions to ask.

I did use her holding technique the last time I butchered and it WAS so much better.  The bird remained calm right to the end and that is very important to me.
 
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I think for her it's a life philosophy.  it is the same for me, but I am not at her level.

I have a smallish crush on her too!  (but it's mostly a crush on her knowledge and skills).
 
paul wheaton
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She is agreeing to see me. 

Any podcast questions for her?

 
paul wheaton
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Her day job is/was wilderness skills instructor.    Any questions in that space?

 
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Questions for the chicken lady:

Was harvesting chickens always part of her business? How did it come about?

I remember in the video you said that people send chickens to you to harvest. Is this a lucrative business for you?

Do you do anything with the blood/feathers/other harvest material?

Best harvesting gone wrong story?


Paul can choose out of these which ones he likes best if there isn't enough time to have them all answered.
 
John McSmithie
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I would like to know what she considers the most important skills, and I would like to know how one goes about learning this skill set, assuming that one is starting from no knowledge/skills.  
 
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I am intrigued by her oven and would be interested in some discussion of the construction process.  Is there a sand bed below the 55 gallon drum, does it rest on block, or something else entirely?
 
John McSmithie
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I also want to know about the oven.  I am planning to build one this season, and would love to know more about how hers is constructed.
 
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When I watched the video she said something about some of the life lessons she had learned from this process, and I was wondering if she could elaborate. It was the burning question I had for her after I saw that video so it would make a great follow-up to get her to elaborate on what she was alluding to.
 
                  
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Here's a question.

What is the most powerfull thing a person can do to improve soil with hand-tools?
 
pollinator
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Has she noticed any particularly beneficial plant associations in her polycultures?  Tips that could save us some trial-and-error time? Favorite plants?  Irrigation?  (Maybe this plant info has already been captured...will wait for video.)

Also, I wonder how much acreage she has, and how much of her food it supplies her  (thinking of Norris' 750 daily calories from 1/4 acre), including chickens, and, using her Salatin-type system, how much feed she has to bring in?  Any other live stock?

I'd ask about her personal philosophy, but that's kind of personal.  (Maybe she'll write a book about her life and learning... I would love to read it

Oh, and did she make the oven's adobe bricks  here in the damp PNW?   Plus a jillion other questions.....pls thank her for us!  (and don't lose anything! - just kidding, you were forgiven a long time ago
 
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Location: Canary Islands, Spain
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Well, I'd like to learn a lot from Alexia, but no question I think of looks good enough.
For me, the best would be asking her what she wants to tell us.

I think she might have some things she wants people to know or think about, but I might be wrong, and maybe asking her to just tell us whatever she wants to will make her uneasy or something.

So, Paul, you could tell us some of the topics you'd like to discuss with her, and we could help you choose from them. What do you think?

Thank you for sharing all this, Paul and, specially, Alexia.
 
paul wheaton
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we recorded a podcast this morning.  Wow.  Really excellent stuff.  One of the best podcasts ever.  Could be the most lifechanging podcast for a lot of folks.  But it could be a long time until it gets uploaded.
 
Jose Zamora
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Amazing! Thank you very much, both of you.
The wait will be worth it
 
Jose Zamora
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aarghj wrote:
Why will it take so long?



Are you not suscribed to Paul's emails?
They're going to be busy redesigning the forums, so there won't be a lot of spare time to edit it, I guess.
 
pollinator
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Paul talks to Alexia Allen in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/453-podcast-084-alexia-allen/

They discuss lots of things, including Alexia's chicken harvesting, and the things she has learned from it.
 
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Anyone have plans to make a pizza oven like that? God, I want one now!
I have looked at these girls for cob info and inspiration but they are so far away. www.mudgirls.ca

 
paul wheaton
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The odds look good for me to do a podcast interview with alexia again. I would like to ask those that have listened to the previous podcast with her what questions they might have for a new interview.
 
pollinator
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i can understand her need for privacy and to wait for a while before she shares more..that is the type of person she appeared to be to me in what I have read about her..
and I highly respect that
 
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Location: Lexington, Kentucky Zone 6
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Paul, thanks so much for he Alexia chicken harvesting video. My wife and I got baby chicks as a result of my having stumbled upon your "empire" this past winter. The forums and info you have facilitated and created have changed the way my mind, heart and soul see the world around me. Unfortunately and improbably my wife managed to pick 6 out of 6 roosters from the lady we got the chics from (I believe we were picking from a tainted pool ) We live in Lexington KY and are allowed to have poultry but can get fined for noise, ie cock-a-doodling. Saturday morning of Easter weekend we got up before they started cook-a-doodling and let them into the yard. We still weren't sure if all the chics were roosters so as we followed them around my wife put a green stripe of food coloring on the chicks as they cock-a-doodled. Within 15 minutes all six chics were green-striped! Having never harvested a chicken before but having seen Alexia's video I had a good example of how to harvest them in a very respectful way. I was a Marine and have been in combat but as I sat down with the first chicken supported between my legs and while I was stroking/calming the chic with knife in my other hand I had to gather my emotions and pray before I could kill one. We had the chicks from days old for three months and we were both very grateful to the chicks for the enjoyment we got from nuturing and raising them. They had survived a dog and hawk attack and had definitly captured a part of our hearts. Alexia's heart and respect for the animals gave me the confidence and know-how to kill our chicks in a way that felt good in my heart.
CIMG0225.jpg
7 week old chics and their buddy Casey
7 week old chics and their buddy Casey
 
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(By the looks on their faces, it looks like the dog will miss the roosters.)

 
Andy Sprinkle
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John that dog LOVED her chicken friends. From day we first brought them home she was fascinated. She was extremely gentle with them...never would even flinch when pecked on her nose or anyplace. For the first month my wife always had a hand on her collar just to make sure she would behave. When we finally slowly trusted her loose with the sHe would just follow them around the yard and watch them. Our lab never paid them any attention at all. Lesson we learned is to buy older pulleys that are sexed and definitely hens. I'm going this weekend to pick up 6 more 5 week olds. Hopefully dogs won't require to much retraining to know the hens are their friends!Y
 
gardener
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I think the previous Alexia podcast is maybe still my favorite (though I've gotten a bit behind on the recent releases). I love the details about daily life and how she runs the community. I loved how the details flowed out in a wonderful story, and you just let her go on her own path, mostly.

* I would love to hear more about her work with kids: what she does with kids that are both just starting out, and also about what can be possible for older kids with some experience. (can you tell I'm a parent? Mine are 8 and 10.) What about kids that are not used to slowing down to observe?
* I'd like to hear more about her Bird Language course. I see she recently gave a talk on this subject at REI in SEA. I'd love to hear that whole talk, or whatever condensation of it you can arrange.
* I'm totally fine if she wants to plug her School, any books/media she recommends, etc.

Thanks alot, Paul.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Alexia question: Does she have any experience with bleeding out the birds? My turkeys are too large to hold for this entire process so I take them to an isolated place and cut off the head very quickly. There is some thrashing afterwards which I am told is just the nerve endings that are twitching.

I would still like to find a way to prevent this and wondered if it is possible to bleed them / would that be any less traumatic. Also, I do not intend to hang them upside down - I try to hold them in the way that they are accustomed to me holding them until the very last second.
 
paul wheaton
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Alexia's video has now passed 1 million views!
 
nancy sutton
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For more current info on Alexia, see her blog... (she's great!!!)
https://www.hawthornfarm.org/single-post/2018/07/06/The-Food-Change--FAQs
 
pollinator
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Just wanted to say that I saw Alexia Allen's chicken harvesting video (part 1 and 2) yesterday on the main Permies website and I'm in awe! So savvy, calm, respectful and "in the now", to paraphrase Eckhart Tolle. I think she could also teach about mindfulness and a lot of other stuff ;)
I read some of Alexia's blog posts, and I'm going to listen to the podcast. Thank you, Permies!
 
Flora Eerschay
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I heard in a conversation with a butcher, I think it was about beef, that he can see by the quality of meat if the animal was stressed/suffering, or not. Is it possible also with the small animals such as birds, rabbits?
 
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Hello all!

I do think animals taste different depending on their stress level at death.  I can rarely find a way to eliminate stress, but we can minimize it.  Not all our roosters are used to getting held, for instance, so that part of the butchering process is new to them.  Still, we stay calm, we don't chase them all over.  I have learned a lot of good tips since Paul's video, maybe we should do a remake!  I have gotten used to eating happier meat--animals who live a content life without fighting stress all the time.  The 3 times I have eaten commercial meat in the past few years, I have had disturbing murder dreams--and I'm not usually a dreamer. Not sure what's going on with that, but I'll stick to home-raised for many good reasons.

We're always looking for better ways for the animals to manage themselves.  Come to think of it, that goes for humans as well as other livestock!  What do these creatures (plants included) need in order to be healthy and happy? That's the central question.  

In case the other link wasn't working, we're at HawthornFarm.org.  Philosophical blog there.
 
gardener
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My mother worked in a butcher shop years ago, and she said the worst thing you can do is get a cow ticked off right before butchering. I'm guessing it is at least partly to do with adrenaline or lactic acid in the muscle. I've always shot animals through both lungs when possible, and have never had a problem with tough or gamey-tasting meat. A deer may cover up to 100 yards, but that translates to less than ten seconds alive. In the past few years I have shot a couple of rather large bucks, and they were just as good and tender as the does I always shot. But I do wonder about the concept of "baiting" animals. It was practiced almost universally in many areas, and still is in some today. Maybe it is a matter of duration? Maybe a little stress makes the meat worse, but a lot tenderizes it? It's hart to imagine people going to such trouble to be so cruel only to just make the meat worse in the end. Even if it works, it's still a terrible thought.
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