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C. Kelley

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since Jul 24, 2013
zone 4b/5a Midcoast Maine
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Recent posts by C. Kelley

Awesome! I had plans to build one of these at the last farm we leased, but we ended up opening the restaurant before I got a chance to. Very pleased to see it's a viable idea after all!
6 years ago
My favorite chop & drop tool is very similar, a Japanese hand sickle, though the angle between the handle and blade is closer to 90* than yours - I think I'd like yours better, mine can be a bit finicky in tight corners sometimes. We take the same approach to managing our sad, thin granite & clay soils behind the apartment building we're currently living in - it baffles the neighbors, but We Don't Mow and it gives me the control to leave some of the more useful plants that just happen to be growing outside the garden beds (mullein, dandelions, burdock...the garden paths are more beds than the beds are right now!). Everyone has had a year or so now to watch me picking wild strawberries on the parking verges and doing half the garden "weeding" straight into my dinner basket, so they'll live. I think I'm getting contagious, too, as someone asked me the other day as I was passing with my dog if a particular plant was wild strawberry (it wasn't, but they saw the PLANT, not just a generic green thing, and that means I'm helping people to see the food all around them)...

My family were drought refugees from CA during the last big dry, I don't envy you the fires there. But then we have nor'Easters, and 141" of snow this last year, so...
6 years ago
I've fed tent caterpillars to both chickens and ducks with mixed results. No ill effects at all - but these were free-range birds on mixed perennial pasture with plenty of access to other things for their diet - but it seemed like some of the birds just didn't *like* them. About half the ducks went nuts for them like they were gummy worms in a kindergarten class, the rest of them were sort of "meh" about them. None of the chickens went as crazy as the ducks that loved them, most of the chickens ate a few of them and then moved on to other things. Some of the chickens played with them, but didn't seem to eat many. Some of the chickens totally ignored them after a few cursory pecks.

My flock of 40 birds, 25ish chickens and the balance ducks on free range and fermented grains (fed only at night, day time is for hustling up their own grub!), pretty well decimated two nests a few times a week. More than that and the caterpillars just sort of got trampled into the coop litter...which is maybe not too bad, if you're trying to get rid of the caterpillars more than you're trying to feed the birds. I definitely didn't see any indications that they were poisonous in those amounts, but many species of caterpillar are mildly toxic and it wouldn't surprise me if the range of reactions my birds showed was each of them eating the caterpillars at the rate their bodies could process the toxin and remain undamaged - which would make sense also with nests fed more often being ignored, they knew that they'd already "hit capacity" on that food and consuming more of it would cause problems. Animals have a lot more sense about self-doctoring and self-limiting their intake of "dangerous" things than we give them credit for, especially when they have free access to a wide range of foodstuffs rather than being stuck in a tiny dark barn and only fed grain. An animal with that history could easily overeat on a toxic food, simply through inexperience and desperation.
6 years ago
I've built similar fences when time was abundant and cash was not, they are time consuming but low impact and fairly low in required physical skills to end up with a functional fence.

One thing I found when my fence was too short in one area, it was easy to replace a few poles at regular intervals and then use a more traditional wattle-hurdle type technique to make a top extension out of skinny twigs, it let sunlight through while still providing the emergency extra height to keep the more adventurous ducks out of the peas.
6 years ago
It's been a long, long time since i had an iphone, but I recently went from a windows phone to an android-based galaxy s4, and i have to say it's a step up from the iphone and windows both. I could go on about the technological marvels etc, but there are lots of tech blogs out there that can compare them at that level. For me, it came down to the fact that with the galaxy, if the battery craps out I can replace it. If the expandable memory I put in craps out, I can replace it. Without having to replace the whole phone. The black-box nature of the iPhone, where if one little bit breaks the whole device is toast, is a huge turn off for me personally as it smells a lot like sheer profiteering.

The new Galaxy S6 is not this way - they've opted to go the iphone black-box route with it - but the S5 my husband has is repairable as the S4.
6 years ago
Coastal Cafe and Bakery is hiring for a seasonal (though we are still growing, and a year round position is possible with shorter hours in the winter) short order breakfast and prep cook (around 20-30 hours a week, possibly more during peak summer season). Work duties include running the breakfast line on slow mornings (Mon and Tues), some dishes (we all pitch in on this, even the owners), prep and general clean up. We are small, but very busy during the summer season, everything is made from scratch and fresh daily. Our cafe boasts a strong commitment to locally sourced foods, seasonal flavors, and reducing our environmental impacts by composting all food (and most paper) waste, buying a large percentage of our food locally direct from farmers, recycling, and using compostable or recycled/recyclable packaging wherever possible.

The ideal candidate would have previous short order cooking experience in a scratch kitchen/bakery, an upbeat attitude, the willingness to pitch in wherever help is needed, and an appreciation for a fun, fast-paced work environment with a tightly knit team atmosphere. We a small place, but we are quickly growing and interested in putting someone into a position to grow with us. This job is currently full hours through September, however, as we come into our second year, we will have part-time hours through November, and may have more depending on growth.

Please stop in or reply to this post with a resume as well as a cover letter letting us know why you want to work with us.

Check us out on or our facebook page at
6 years ago
Yeah, my All American is definitely a large-volume cooking solution. I have used it with great success (and great pot holders) over a well-controlled open blaze on a well-built fire ring - technically a "three stone stove" but made with a good deal more than three stones, carefully chosen and placed.

For the times when I do the style of cooking you describe, I have a Presto 6-qt that I found at the Goodwill hardly used. I live in a fairly rural (poor) area where the Goodwills tend to be really picked over, and even then I run across them in good shape a couple-few times a year (and I am by no means a thrift-store haunt, I go every so couple of months when I'm looking for a particular thing). For the $4-$10 they're usually priced at, I can get a large number of replacement gaskets for the price of buying one new cooker...
6 years ago
Seconding the recommendation for an All-American. We were given the 40qt+ model by a group of friends when we got married, and it's been my hands-down favorite wedding present ever. It's the thing I would save from a house fire, except it would probably survive on it's own to be fished out of the ashes intact. They're solid cast aluminum, made in America (wisconsin, specifically), the metal-to-metal seal only ever needs a bit of olive oil to keep it lubricated. My husband sold commercial restaurant equipment for years, and the All-American line is considered the gold standard of quality even in the restaurant world. Bonus, it's a legal piece of equipment to use to process goods for commercial sale in the US (so when we are ready to start selling canned soups from our restaurant, I already have the most expensive piece of equipment.)

I've used it for several years now for everything from cooking beans to canning 22 quart jars of cooked chicken meat at a time (I also used it to cook the chickens, by far the easiest way to handle storing the meat from 45 young, scrawny roosters! And it's SO SO SO nice to have a handy) jar of home grown meat available to use for Lazy Dinners).

I could go on for hours singing the praises of my All-American, but I'll stop. By far my favorite thing in my house that isn't alive. Pricey - our model retails for over $400 regularly - but not getting the very biggest one (I'm 5' and I can actually climb inside it and pull the lid shut. I win all the hide-and-seek games.) and keeping an eye out for sales and clearances will help cut the cost significantly. They're a screaming bargain at twice the price even so....I fully expect to hand this piece of equipment down to our as-yet-hypothetical children, probably in exactly the same condition it came out of the original box in. Bonus points, replacement parts are cheap and easy to find - All American has been around for years and isn't going anywhere either.
6 years ago
Lina, look into how the city of Davis, CA got their edible landscaping going. You're close enough to them in Pasadena that you may be able to physically sit down with someone, or get one of the university folks to write some sort of official approving thing about trees.

I am fighting the same sort of fight in my small Maine town, fortunately there are a lot less of us and one voice can be much louder! We also have one of the American Chestnut test orchards here, so I am trying to partner with them to get chestnuts planted instead of shade trees when they re-do the downtown sidewalks in a few years.
6 years ago
Well, I think it's pretty unlikely you'll end up with much of a number for community on only 5 acres, and 5 acres with a house in any habitable/comfortable area of the states you listed is likely to be far more expensive than your stated budget. Part of why we left the PNW was because we couldn't step foot on .5 acre of arable land within an hour's drive of a vegetable market (read as: town of 20,000 or more), much less one with anything that could be described as a house on it, for less than a quarter of a million dollars.

So we moved to Maine. Yeah, this winter sucked (and still sucks, from the 8" of snow they're saying we'll get Saturday, but it'll be spring snow and melt fast). There are some rednecks (so aren't there in WA and OR, too, believe you me I grew up with them!!) There's a lot of ulcer-inducing retirees with an abhorrent "I got mine, Jack!" mentality that makes me want to kick them in their brittle old shins. On the flipside, there'll be a heck of a population attrition here in the next decade or so and I'm making it my personal mission to stack the demographic deck (easier to do in Maine, with only 1 million people - a couple of tens of thousands of permies could make a hell of a noise on the state level here) so that when all the old farts are dead, we'll inherit the state.

There are also ZERO - read it Z-E-R-O building restrictions in our town. I'm considering buying a .5 acre vacant lot on Main St for about 25K and hosting a Poosh project to build a tight row of shopfronts and apartments out of cob & strawbale with perennial gardens and a workshop behind - the Live/Work Cluster pattern from A Pattern Language. It's perfectly legal for me to build that, by hand, with mud, passive solar, composting toilets, the whole nine yards. The most restrictive rule is about residential zoning in the outlying areas of town, and the rule there is that you CAN have a business in your home, as long as it's not one that needs a sign. We were actually told "no sign, no problem." We're right on the coast within farmers-market distance of several good sized towns and the state's largest city, and only a few miles from both the Good Life Center in Brooksville and the Common Ground Education Center in Unity.

A sampling of land/houses within a 20-minute walk of where I now sit: a 14-acres-of-pasture organically managed farm with 4br stone farmhouse with beehive oven, 6 fireplaces, and a barn as big as a city block for $215k; over 100 acres of mature tamarack & cedar forest for $103k with a driveway and a Quonset hut; 60 acres of mature woods for $51k on a dirt road with a dug well but no driveway. 205 acres of mature woods with a GORGEOUS creek through the middle of it for 80K..... Good luck finding that much land at those prices anywhere west of the Rockies - and the best part out here is that you won't go to jail for collecting rain water!
6 years ago