Cr Baker

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since Feb 24, 2014
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Recent posts by Cr Baker

My husband has gotten very into hammocks, and has made numerous types for backpacking and backyard use. He sleeps in them overnight when we are apart or when he is camping -- he's even used them while camping in the snow (with a good sleepingbag and some extra insulation to the hammock itself).

I feel uncomfortable sleeping in a hammock at night, as I normally move a lot in my sleep and I'm afraid that I will fall off in the middle of the night, and I have trouble getting comfortable when I'm side-sleeping because of the dip. So it's certainly not for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it's really a great option.

When I moved to my first apartment, I was super-broke. I spent and entire $18 furnishing the place, if that gives you any idea at all. I had no bed and no mattress, but I did have a sewing kit. I took a cotton comforter and a thin cotton blanket and sandwiched them around a whole bunch of cheap cotton t-shirts (I took donations from friends for a few weeks). Some thrift stores will give you their tshirt "seconds" (too ugly or torn to sell) for free if you ask nicely. I quilted the blanket side, but not the comforter side, so I wouldn't be sleeping directly on top of ridges. The whole thing took me about a week, working on it whenever I wasn't at my part-time job, and I ended up with a poor man's all-cotton futon big enough for a married couple. We just used it directly on top of a floor. It was firmer than a regular mattress, and a bit lumpy for the first week or so until the fibers and air pockets settled down. My back felt AMAZING sleeping on top of it, much better than anything else I've used since, although my husband wanted to get rid of it once we were able to afford something more conventional. It was very similar to a Japanese style futon that my dad had used for many years when I was growing up. And you can roll it up and put it in a closet during the day if you want to use the space for something else, which is really nice. If I was to make it again, I would probably use a stiffer fabric for the outside layer, and probably cut off the sleeves from the t-shirts before layering them together, just to make things a bit more uniform and easier to work with. I might also quilt several groups of smaller layers together, instead of quilting through the whole entire mess; that was a bit much. I imagine that that would add some more stability to the structure.

I do also like the idea of sleeping on top of blankets piled together. This has the obvious advantage of being easily washable, although it would take longer to set up each night before sleeping. I've done this while visiting family for up to a week at a time, though I haven't tried it for extended periods of time.

One thing to note, we do live in a warmer climate, and I imagine that for colder climates, insulation from the floor would be an important factor. I'm also not really worried about flammability in my bedding, as I almost never use a fireplace or heater at night. In cooler climates, this could obviously be more of a concern.

6 years ago
I have mine in a narrow air-tight box, sorta like a filing cabinet. Flowers in the front, veg in the back, sorted alphabetically by the name of the food I get from the plant (ie: "zucchini" and "butternut" rather than "squash"). If I tried to do any sub-categories, I would confuse myself. I separate packets with cardboard every few inches to keep things from falling into each other.
My first experiment with intercropping started last fall when I decided that I wanted to do a fall garden, since we have such a long growing season here (zone 9b). After identifying some cold-weather crops that I thought I wanted to try, and agonizing over how to fit everything together in the limited amount of space that I had, I finally just threw my hands up and sprinkled all my seed packets evenly over my 4X4 raised bed and started watering. The result was that I ended up with a few plants that I could never quite identify or figure out how to harvest or eat (is this a root or a leaf crop? Or maybe just a funny weed?). My lettuce did quite well, and although a few of them have bolted, there's still quite a bit left since I mostly selected indeterminate varieties. The carrots have been phenominally slow. I never saw anything come of the radishes, onions, or scallions ... where'd they go? I did manage to throw in some market onions that were left too long in the kitchen and began sprouting, and they are growing quite well.

So far, I'd say that this was pretty hit-and-miss. I'd like to try some more interplanting, but I'm not sure where to go from here, since I don't know why some things worked and some did not. I'd love some help.
I agree with you that it's important to take our ideals and apply them to whatever situation that we happen to be in. This is why we are currently keeping chickens and bees, gardening, harvesting firewood from our own neighborhood, composting, cloth diapering, homeschooling, and reducing our use of non-renewable resources wherever possible. We're not waiting to find our ideal homestead before beginning. But we do know that we would be happier relocating to a place where we are not as restricted in our livestock and where we may have more space to grow the many foods that we are interested in producing, and we're keen to put ourselves in a situation zoned more appropriately for our activities, rather than having to worry about keeping the neighbors happy so that they don't report us.

I do realize that there are toxins all over the place, and it's impossible to get away from them entirely. However, I do believe that the toxins in a conventional agricultural area are significantly higher than they would be in a rural mountain community. If you have a next-door neighbor that has crop dusting done on their plants, you're going to end up with some on yours. If most of your neighbors up-creek use pesticides on their orchards, they end up in the water in your well. And if the person who you are buying your land from has been using the pesticides on their corn crop every year for twenty or thirty years, it's going to be an uphill battle returning the land to full fertility. This isn't just intellectually uncomfortable. Toxins in our water have increased in the last two years, and I have to work a lot harder to get cloth diapers clean without resorting to chemical detergents. There are areas where the water is so bad that it is impossible to keep diapers clean enough to use without causing chemical burns. And I'm not just assuming that there may be horrible problems that I've read about somewhere on the internet in this community -- I grew up there, and visit often. I see crop dusting planes and the mismanagement of huge commercial orchards and the corn fields being plowed and reaped (also the terrible condition of dairy cows and the fields that have turned into deserts because of the recent water laws combined with previous land mismanagement). The problem is there, it's real, and I'm wondering whether or not I want to inherit it for the sake of being near family.
6 years ago
My husband and I have been preparing for the last couple of years to sell our home and move to some acreage. We would love to relocate up to the mountains near a creek or a river. But this would take us further away from both our parents and adult siblings, most of which live less than an hour's drive from our current home. I've considered moving to just outside of the city where my parents live, which is mostly agricultural fields, flat land with few trees except for the commercial orchards. But I'm concerned about residual pesticides, crop dusting, and other such nuisances.

What would be the most important consideration to you? Do you think there is a way that we could "have it all"? How can I choose between my family and my dream? And if I did move further away from family, how could I find or build reliable friendships or find a support community?

By the way, most of my family are committed city folk who have no desire to live remotely, with the exception of my mother who would probably adore homesteading if she ever had the chance to try it. Don't know if that makes a difference at all.

Any thoughts?
6 years ago
Cats and chickens can get along, but cats usually have to be taught to respect the chickens.

I bought my cat (kitten) from an organic farm where all the animals (chickens, cats, dogs, goats, maybe more ...) free-ranged together with absolutely no problems. Since my cat was raised that way, when we got baby chicks of our own, he wanted nothing to do with them, and would actually run out of the room when we tried to introduce them. Once they got bigger, he started "playing" with the chickens by chasing them around the yard a bit, but never with any intention of actually touching them, and would usually get chased off by the roosters pretty quickly. My cat does stalk other small game (mice, rats, birds) and keeps the neighborhood cats well away from our yard. But he certainly draws the line at chickens.

When dealing with cats not under your control, it can be helpful to have a guard dog. They are one of the best protections from predators that you can have in a free-range situation.

Good luck with your animals!
6 years ago

Thanks for the thoughts and tips. I will be checking out that book from the library as soon as it is available.

So I started opening the window on non-rainy days to allow a little bit more airflow. I also started mixing a small amount of human urine into their water twice a week as a weak fertilizer, and this seems to have helped their coloring. I usually don't stress over every little detail with my plants, but I do want to grow as a gardener and as this is my first time trying to start plants from seeds, I'm still trying to work out the kinks and see what works best for me. PS: the fungus knats seem to have all but disappeared ... guess they don't like hanging out in urine!

Thanks so much for the help. Wishing you a bounteous harvest!
Thank you, one and all, for your input. I really appreciate having some other viewpoints on this. I'm a homeschooling mother to 4 small children, and I'm still pretty new to the permaculture way of life, so there has been more than a little *rethinking* to the way that I do things as I try to live more in harmony with my land and as well as trying to meet future goals. Since I only have one (special-needs) child over the age of five, I don't expect much help in the way of kitchen chores. My spouse is working two jobs as well as doing things like building a chicken tractor and raised beds, and while he's willing to cook dinner a few nights a week, he has no clue what to do with things like dry beans or raw broccoli. I don't mind simple meals -- my favorite thing to eat is homemade vegetable soup with a couple of biscuits. I think I just need to find some options that I can make ahead so that I don't necessarily need to cook everything right before we eat it. Toddlers eat a lot of snacks, and apple slices don't keep well!
6 years ago
I've cooked some meals from scratch for quite a few years, now, but trying to put it all together has been challenging for me. About 3 months ago, I started trying to cook all of our family's foods from scratch -- 3 meals a day, not counting bread, yogurt, butter, or canning projects. And between the cooking and the dishes, I feel like I am completely tied to my kitchen. I need to have time to check on the chickens and change diapers and work in the garden and just plain relax with the kids some of the time. Do you have any strategies for making things easier? I feel like I'm about to go insane. Thanks!
6 years ago
I suspect that the yellow leaves might be due to a nutrient imbalance (or PH?). I'm not exactly sure how to fix that. I've heard that compost can help with stuff like that, but I don't have any yet, and I don't know what to add or how much, or even where to buy it. I feel like the more I try to read up on soil amendments, the more confused I get!