Jay Angler

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since Sep 12, 2012
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Recent posts by Jay Angler

Brian Rodgers wrote:

It seems kind of obvious what the inverted  5 gallon are for in the garden, but I thought I'd ask for more information about those. 

The original ARK beds I researched were built of dry stacked rocks. Where we live, there are *lots* of rocks, but they're very odd shapes and not suitable for easy stacking. Also, I just don't have the strength to work with the size of rocks I'd need. Since I was given a large number of pre-used buckets, I filled the buckets with rocks for mass, and built with them. I had to line the space with landscape cloth to stop the dirt from coming through between the buckets. It's not an ideal situation and I'm suspicious I'm loosing too much moisture to evaporation through the gaps, but it is an experiment.

Despite my effort to keep the 1/2 barrel quite full of veggie scraps and to use what rinse water I have in the area to add to that compost in an effort to keep the bed moist, I've not had good plant growth this spring. I tried starting a mixture of beets and a short harvest Chinese green in one area but with the on again/off again weather I had probably only 50% germination, and only a few of the seedlings have made progress. In a second area, I transplanted walking-stick cabbage which after weeks of barely hanging on, the survivors have finally started putting on growth. Feeling that much of the issue was inconsistent moisture in the soil, I added a home-made olla pot on the west side and seeded bush beans around it. The weather turned foul and they rotted in the ground. I started some indoors when the weather turned warmer, but "Junuary" hit, and they have mostly gotten eaten. I put one squash in the corner which sat there looking quite unhappy for some time, but the weather has been much nicer this week and it's perked up and put out some nice growth. Hopefully its roots will reach under the olla pot for some extra moisture and take over the area for the beans. I suspect that wood bugs are part of what's bugging the beans and may try and put a barrier around the stems of any that might still make it. Part of my goal was to have a raised bed that would be easier on my body to tend as I age, but the bed 1.5 meters away at ground level with olla pots for water has put on much more growth (although still quite inconsistent) than anything in the ARK2 bed.
1 week ago
Creighton Samuiels wrote:

there is way more useful ocean space available within a reasonable boat trip of any American port city

Please don't take this wrong, but with the number of people I know who like to take "cruises", if better facilities were available for cold storage of bodies would a "death cruise" that involved ceremony, counselling, and burial have potential? My friend who lost her daughter went on a retreat and some of the "assignments" required her to write letters to her daughter about specific topics. She found it difficult, but also took some healthy steps and found some closure. One of the difficult problems in grieving families is that different members grieve in different ways. Thus having a variety of professional staff and different therapeutic activities could be beneficial to mourners. I have no idea of the type of expense that would be involved, but if families get the help and closure they need to heal and move on, the expense would be worth it.
1 week ago
A good way to solve part of this problem is to wash our clothes less and avoid dryers. I think the heat and action of dryers damage the cloth and will increase the amount it sheds the next time it's washed.

For example, decades ago I met a lady whose family washed their bath towels after every use - huh We put up racks so the kids learned at an early age to hang their towel to dry in their own spot - after all we're removing relatively clean water off a relatively clean body and we wash the towel once every 1-2 months and hang them to dry.

Similarly, we have "farm clothes" and "good clothes". If I wear my "good clothes" for a couple of hours while I have dinner and socialize with a friend, I don't consider that clothes dirty unless I ended up wearing dinner. It goes on a hook on the wall and gets worn to 4-5 such events before going in the wash. The farm clothes get dirty, but are only going to get dirty again, so there again I let much of it go several days unless there's something particularly icky I got into.

Too many humans are getting waaayyyy.... too obsessed with "clean" and there's at least some evidence that it's doing us harm from the immunological point of view. Of course, TV and advertisements for "whiter than white" have pushed that mind-set. The chemical companies *want* us to buy more detergent and wear our clothes out faster, so shift societal expectations. My father grew up in England during the Second World War. You washed in the sink in the evening and bathed once a week. Now there are people who are showering twice a day. Our skin is our largest organ, and I just can't imagine that's all that good for it when it includes soaps and detergents.

I know that when I was an elementary aged child, I used to wear the same outfit to school for several days in a row and changed to "play clothes" when I got home. No one complained! Recently I read an article about a woman who made her daughter wear the same t-shirt for a week (it had an anti-bullying logo on it and she'd been caught bullying). At least some people responded by suggesting that making her wear the "same" t-shirt (Mom said she'd launder it) was unacceptable. I happen to know that my own mother had two winter skirts to wear to high school and she had to wear them for several years. Times have changed - not necessarily for the better! Clothes used to be mended (I still do for both my own family and several others) but now they're tossed.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that part of the solution to this problem is a change in mind-set. Dirt is not evil. Dryers mostly are. In my climate, I adore water resistant outer wear and would sorely miss it. But I won't abuse that privilege, and really hope that we can change other people's mind set back to "clothing" from "fashion".

1 week ago
It is important to remember the big picture - funerals are for the living. Having something pretty or significant to cover the body for a viewing may be important for closure, but there's no reason that containment has to be the final containment. Think "refrigerated casket with a biodegradable lining that can be re-used by many people in the community"? Many people that I know of have started replacing the traditional viewing with a celebration of life long after the body has been cremated and relying on a photograph to represent the loved one. These may be people who are no longer associated with an institutionalized religious sect, but may also represent people for whom the death was expected as opposed to sudden. That said, the tendency to smaller, widely distributed families and isolation in North America will result in a sub-culture of people who may not have anyone wanting to "accept the ashes" even if the deceased has tried to make as many arrangements as possible before the event. Hopefully, permaculture principles will help to reconnect humanity and come up with meaningful but more environmentally sound "traditions" around dying and death.
2 weeks ago
If the leaves have been shredded that may work, but leaves tend to mat down into a layer which can easily interfere with air flow. I've experienced that tendency myself, but also read of the effect in books about composting. That said, most of the easily accessible leaves here are Bigleaf Maple - and they do mean "Big". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_macrophyllum) Plants such as Bracken, that die back in the fall have a naturally small leaf, and certain tree species that have naturally small leaves (plum for example) would be worth experimenting with but I haven't got there yet.

In an effort to avoid wood chips in our brooder, I have been experimenting with organic coffee sacks which a local FairTrade company brings in full of beans and sell at a relatively cheap price to local farmers. They are supposed to be organic but they haven't decomposed in the compost as quickly as I thought they would despite being liberally covered with chicken poop. The next time I have a dead animal, I will try wrapping it in one of the sacks and burying it and report back, although unless we have a predator attack, it may be a while. They would certainly be easy to lay beneath a body and then tuck around a body and most are not such a tight weave that air and worms can't get through. They are certainly a low nitrogen choice, have already served one use, and are reasonably popular with worms. Green burials that I've read about often talk of using a cotton shroud or cardboard box for the covering/carbon source, but both of those would be produced specifically for this purpose, rather than being a second or third use item. Considering the damage that growing cotton has done overall in the environment, I'd rather use it for things I need it for - like clothing the living!

2 weeks ago
I watched a couple of videos by the mortician shown above and found them quite informative. It's good to have someone in the business basically agree with what we've been discussing. I'm still not sure how we'd balance the need to have the body in the upper layers of soil which are active without having a smell issue unless it was really biologically active soil. Her description of using wood shavings to balance the nitrogen in the body in one of the videos does support what I'm doing with dead farm poultry, although I'd love to use something that decomposes faster than wood. I also totally support her comments about the toxic chemicals used to embalm bodies. That is the thing about current common funeral practice that I totally don't want to be a part of. The second thing I consider unsustainable is cremation. Even in ancient times, places it was practiced it contributed heavily to deforestation. Now it's contributing to global warming. There are better alternatives!
3 weeks ago
The origins of the "Sacred Cow" in India is not that different. If my recollection of history is correct, people were killing their cows to stay alive during a drought and the powers that be realized that when the drought ended there'd be no animals to plow, so they made the animals sacred. Unfortunately, it can result in a geriatric cow problem. A law that prevents the slaughter of a donkey in a country will only work if properly written and if it includes restricting crossing the border to the country with the slaughterhouse!

There is no way that a small farmer would be able to provide sufficient security to keep his donkey safe from theft. The Chinese are not just buying up donkeys in Africa, but farmland also. These trends are likely to destabilize an already unstable situation. There's often short-term gains for at least some locals, but without long-term solutions, the house of cards will come crashing down.
Chris Kott wrote:

chickens penned in a toroidal paddock with the decomposing body in the doughnut hole under a layer of healthy soil. Bugs eat body, chickens eat bugs, humans eat eggs and eventually chickens too. 

It would be safer to have an extra animal in the sequence Chris has outlined. When I looked at Black Soldier Fly decomposition, it was clear that larvae that ate chicken should not be fed back to chickens, but could be fed to fish. Human to bug to chicken to human might be a large enough gap, but there are definitely diseases that can be carried forward.

Two of the reasons why humans are buried as deeply as they are is 1) to stop the local scavengers from digging the body back up (dogs, raccoon, rats etc) and 2) for control of the odor. Decomposition of animals has a *very* distinctive aroma!

I will watch some of those videos as soon as I have time, because I really don't want my final donation to the planet to involve fossil fuels or poisonous chemicals. I don't see any reason we can't be composted responsibly, but I've had to plant many elderly laying hens in my time and bodies are a high nitrogen, high fat source that benefits from being balanced by high carbon in the planting hole. The earlier comment about saponification (the fat turns into a soap-like substance) is something I've encountered when too much moisture is present and too low a temp (think winter on the wet coast). I think some sort of an insect-based decomposition is the way to go - it's definitely fast and bugs are better able to deal with the natural fats than most "composting" microbes and it's not as if there aren't plenty of composting microbes that would still be hanging around. The human "ick" factor may stop some from participating, but that shouldn't stop those of us who recognize that microbes are just as much a living creature as an insect - our remains are being eaten, that's what decomposition is all about, it's just the size of the "eater" that differs!

The part of the body that takes the longest to decompose (judging again from chickens) are the bones. This is why there are ancient collections of human bones (ossuary - https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sedlec-ossuary). Consider that if human bones are left without a permanently marked location, they could create confusion/expense if accidentally dug up 100 years from now and the police have to investigate. There are reasons that humans developed rules around the disposition of dead bodies - identification, involvement of "foul play", and disease containment are all factors. That said, too many bodies for the available space has existed at least since Roman times, so coming up with better options at a time when there are more humans than ever makes sense, and doing so in an environmentally beneficial way is ideal.
3 weeks ago
Cassie Becker wrote:

I've just reached the point this week where I've started trying to divert our family baker from cakes and brownies to less sugar based recipes.

I've adapted at least 6 muffin recipes to be baked in an 8x8" pan which makes them look more "cake like". I specifically look for recipes that call for a smaller percentage by volume of sugar vs other ingredients, and that have what I define as "redeeming features".  My fussier friends do complain about some of them being "not sweet enough," but most of them think they're wonderful. I coined the term "Muffin-Cakes" to give people a bit of a heads up that they weren't your typical desert (which I rarely eat as I don't tolerate high sugar concentrations.) If you're interested, I think I should start a separate thread and link you to it. Be warned they include things like pumpkin, whole wheat flour, home dried fruit like figs, and often dark chocolatate, but they still call for white or brown sugar - just as a lower ratio.

A combination rocket cob oven and bench on your front lawn to encourage neighbors to visit sounds like a great idea!  Accompany it with a tree guild for shade and to grow some of those ingredients you're going to bake with and you will surely not lack for company!
3 weeks ago
Gurkan - yes, thank you for that link. I've just been trying to root some fig trees, so that gives me more ideas and info of what to be propagating to go with.

Does anyone know whether inter-mixing Fig Guilds and Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) guilds would work? It sounds as if the Jujube is a taller plant but I really don't know much about them yet - a friend gave me the seeds as a present because she knows I like, "weird edible plants". I could be known for worse things......

I also really like that "pothole" idea, so it will be interesting to see how that develops over time. Our cedar/fir forest seems to have done a similar thing based on potholes formed either by the shallow hole left when cedar/fir root balls are tipped over by winds, or when the downed tree lands across the slope. Unfortunately, Mother nature hasn't put these pot holes exactly where I might choose to have them to act as infiltration ponds to get a moisture plume under the areas I want to plant. I also have to be aware of creating stagnant water that would attract mosquitoes.
1 month ago