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r ranson

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since Feb 05, 2015
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An insomniac misanthrope who enjoys cooking, textile arts, farming and eating delicious food.
Left Coast Canada
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Recent posts by r ranson

It looks really great.

From my selfish point of view, I look at two things.

1. what is the kickstarter making?  You have an actual goal that makes sense.  You're making something tangible instead of a different Kickstarter I saw lately who's goal was to 'explore and get matching funding for a grant that helps us investigate this vague thingy we don't really know what we're doing" 

2. Are the rewards attractive?  definitely looking good.  Even your one dollar reward has loads of goodies in it.

There's a big jump between the one dollar and the next level up.  Is there something you can offer for about $6 (the price of a coffee and a pastry at my local coffee shop)?  Then again, it might not be worthwhile.  I don't know much about running a kickstarter. 

Love the video, especially the bit with the piglets.

One other thing, I can't get https://permaethos.com/ to load. 
20 minutes ago
The colour of the shell depends on the breed, diet, age and health of the hen.  Not all hens lay a consistent coloured shell.  Some breeds lay a dark chocolate coloured shell, others, light, others a splautchy one.  It also depends on where they are in their laying cycle.

My current hens (which I can't spell well enough for the spellcheck, but sounds like why-en-dot)  lay a deep, earthy colour egg in the spring, and a sandy colour one in the winter.

Mother earth news has some great article on eggs that go into this.
2 days ago
What fibreshed resources does Southern Vancouver Island and the surrounding Archipelago already have? - plant fibre

1. A source of fibre:   At the moment we don't have any large scale sources of plant fibre available in our area.  However, the local Flax to Linen group and other enthusiasts have done the research and development to discover which fibre flax grows well locally, when to plant it, what its needs are, and what it requires to produce a fine, linen yarn. 

2. The resources to make this fibre into cloth:  Dew retting (the process of laying flax on the lawn so that microbes can 'eat' the 'glue' that holds the flax fibres into the stem) works well here with no added input or waste product that would harm the waterways.  This is very important for processing flax. 

The Flax to Linen group and other individuals around town have the hand tools to process linen into yarn.  One can process quite a bit of flax fibre by hand.  A day or three of enthusiastic work (or 10 days at a more leisurely pace) would give enough fibre to keep one spinner happy for a year - especially if one processes both tow and line flax.

taproots fibre lab has larger scale flax to linen equipment for sale that we could buy if we ever decided to increase production. 

3. the skills to make this fibre into cloth:  For over 10 years now, the flax to linen group of Victoria (not to mention numerous other individuals in the area) has been experimenting and perfecting the skills needed to process flax into linen cloth as well as teaching others how to do so. 

4. customers:  Part of the Flax to Linen of Victoria's mandate is public education.  They set up at farmers markets and other events, demonstrating how awesome line cloth is.  This has created a local love of linen and many people asking where they can buy this clothing?  I've noticed that many of the local shops now carry linen yarn where they didn't before and linen shirts and skirts are now available in the shops again.  I think there's a demand for Linen.  There's a demand for local.  I think it would require very little customer education to produce enough demand to support a local linen industry here.
What fibreshed resources does Southern Vancouver Island and the surrounding Archipelago already have? - animal fibre

These numbers refer back to my earlier list of what a fibreshed needs.

1. A source of fibre: There are a great many farmers who have sheep, alpacas, llamas, mohair goats, and angora rabbits. 

It is estimated that between 15,000 and 30,000 sheep reside on Vancouver island and the surrounding gulf islands, most of them produce useable wool.  There are only a handful of shearers in our area, so it would be easy to get an inventory of local wool sources.

Some of these farmers focus on fibre production.  You can buy fibre directly from the farm or from the local shops that specialize in this sort of thing. 

There are also many more farmers that focus on meat production and the fibre is an unwanted byproduct.  Much of this wool is of a quality that would produce excellent blankets, sweaters, and outerwear like jackets.

2. The resources to make this fibre into cloth:
  There are a lot of different things that could fall under this heading.  We have shearers, washing equipment, hand processing equipment, spinning wheels, looms, and so on. 

On a larger scale, we have a new fibre mill opening up in town this spring.  Not having to ship fibre out of province to be processed, opens up a huge opportunity for our local fibreshed.  This mill can transform the raw fibre into yarn which can then be woven.

3. the skills to make this fibre into cloth:  This is all about the people.  We have these skills in spades!  We have farmers, weavers, dyers, spinners, sewers.  We have people working at all level of production and many different scales of production. 

wovenwares is a group of weavers who work with local resources and artisans to produce clothing for sale.  Their product is stylish and natural.  Very fashionable by local standards. 

This is just one example of what our vast local skillset has to offer. 

4. customers:  With my work in the community, I am constantly asked: "where can I buy that?"  "Where can I buy locally grown sweaters/rugs/towels/clothing/baby blankets/coats/skirts/pants/..." 

I think the demand is there.  I think the price is important.  Some people think only about price when it comes to clothing.  But there are others who are more than willing to pay extra for clothing that is sourced ethically, locally and organically.

There are also enough people interested in buying local materials (at all stages of production) for their craft.

A lot of the local groups do public demonstrations in spinning, weaving, flax to linen, and other textile crafts.  Over the years, this has increased demand for local cloth and clothing far beyond what we can produce by hand. 
I've had several people ask me this month, why don't we have a local fibreshed?  It's a good, but complicated question.

In this thread, I want to examine what is a fibreshed, what is a Fibershed, what we already have in place in my area, and what elements are holding us back from having a thriving fibreshed economy in Southern Vancouver Island and the surrounding Archipelago. 

What is a fibreshed and Fibershed?

The Fibershed Movement was started by Rebecca Burgess and some extremely talented and innovative people in California.  It has rapidly expanded, and there are Fibershed branches growing all over the world.  It's basically the public face of the local clothing movement.

Here is quite possibly the most life-changing video I've ever seen.

Fibershed is not a new concept.  It's a new word for what used to be so normal that we never needed a word for it before.  I choose to differentiate the Fibershed Movement from the word 'fibreshed'.  I use the Canadian spelling of 'fibre' (because I'm talking about a fibreshed in Canada) and no capital letter to refer to the geographical and bioregional landscape that can provide all the clothing needs for someone living in our region.  I make this difference between Fibershed and fibreshed because the Fibershed people have been doing absolutely amazing work and are now involved in certification.  I don't want to risk muddying their brand.

Some fibresheds are over 150 miles from the centre, others even larger.  Some are only 50 miles.  How large a fibreshed is, is dependent on the individual region and the people in it.  I'm not certain yet how large the Vancouver Island fibreshed would need to be, but I suspect, saying it's X-number of miles/kilometres isn't going to fit well with our local geography and climate.  There are a few Fibershed Affiliates in our area, but I have yet to find one that is active or that answers their emails.  If they did, I would love to work with them to help their projects grow.

But I also think our local fibreshed is something more than one group of people.  I see a thriving fibershed as being a whole economy which includes Fibershed Affiliates, as well as many other individuals.

What does a successful fibreshed need?

Lots of different things, but to oversimplify, here's a list.

1. a source of fibre that makes clothing appropriate for the climate.  For example, on Vancouver Island, one would want a warm textile like wool and a plant textile like linen or nettles. 

2. The resources to make this fibre into cloth.

3. the skills to make this fibre into cloth.

4. customers

5. an ecologically sustainable model to make this happen

6. an economically sustainable model to make this happen.

In the next few posts, I am going to address what fibreshed resources we already have on Southern Vancouver Island and the surrounding Archipelago and what, in my opinion, is holding us back from having a thriving fibreshed economy. 

Alex Riddles wrote:I think you have made a math error that is effecting your logic. 

That's possible. 

I asked Google to do the math, but looking at it now, I might not have asked the question in the way Google understands.

5 days ago

Todd Parr wrote:

Everything I have read suggests that 10,000 years is more likely, although I agree 100 years ago our diet was better.  This article is good overview of human evolution.


Sorry I'm on my phone and can't put the link in correctly.  The article talks about just how much our health decreased between the end of the Paleolithic era and the beginning of the Neolithic.  We lost 4 inches in height among the changes. In general, evolutionary change takes millions of years, not hundreds. 

This is really neat.

My brain translates that article to say "a little after 10,000 years ago, our diet changed suddenly and the health of the new people on that diet suddenly went down for several generations".  I hope this is right.

Tell me, has our health gotten better since then?

A theory (not a good one, I'm sure) could be that the diet changed and the people eating that diet weren't used to it, so their health went down.  Like me planting JL's tomatoes in my garden, the plant's environment changed suddenly so the tomatoes that grow in my garden might not thrive right away, but some would survive.

But then, after a few generations of saving seeds, the tomatoes thrive like crazy because they adapt.

Is it possible for humans to adapt to the agriculture diet after so many generations?  How would we know if this had happened or not?

I really don't know the answer to this.
5 days ago
we played with the water generator yesterday.

On a rain barrel, it makes a power of 1.22v
On the end of the hose so the water goes through at pressure it makes a power of 12.6v.

It might not work on the bit from the downspout to the rain barrel.  We're thinking up new ideas for it.
5 days ago

James Freyr wrote:Fish?

hmmm... that's a tough one.
Whole foods makes the claim their fish is good, but I haven't researched it to see what that means. 

I don't really like fish that much so I haven't tried looking for a good source yet. 
5 days ago

S Bengi wrote:

r ranson wrote:
What if, our bodies actually thrived on the diet of our individual ancestors 200 years ago?  That would give me a North Western European diet heavy in wheat, milk, pulses, cabbage, and beer.  But according to the SCD, most of these are 'illegal' foods for good health.

Where am I suppose to find this traditional
beer (that was pretty much wild fermentation with lots of lactic acid bacteria)
milk/meat (with a complete profile of good fats from free range, non-gmo grains, live fermented cheese vs chemically made cheese)
pulse (where am I suppose to find this beyond organic soy/beans, all I see now is filled with chemicals/pesticides/gmo)
cabbage (pretty much the same as the above, except we have cut back on the greens we eat by so much, and what we do eat is not fermented/soaked
wheat (same as the beans above, also were can I find this fermented wheat/bread, that isn't modified food-starch(pasta/bread/pastry/bagel), we used to cook overnight/pre-soak and break down the anti-nutrient)

Oh a challenge!  I'll bite.

Can I find the diet of my ancestors?
Beer - my local brewery specializes in beer made from organic barley and wild yeast.  On tap, just bring a growler and a ridiculously small amount of money.
Beer option two - I've made beer from locally grown organic barley, sprouted myself, and sourdough yeast.  It was...um... not like the beer of today, but it was a refreshing, light alcohol drink.  We gobbled it up. 
Meat - my farm, the farm behind me, the farm two doors downhill, the farm two doors uphill, the farm next door to them.  My hunter neighbour who lives between me and that farm.
Milk - I don't milk my sheep or goats, but my neighbour does.  I'm not admitting to any participation in this, but I hear there is a lively trade in raw organic milk in our neighbourhood.
live fermented cheese - easy to make at home.  We can also buy this in most of the major supermarkets locally. 
Pulses - There is a local farm that sells organic lentils by the kilo - but these are often horribly rocky so I don't bother.  It's way easier to grow my own as it makes a great fallow crop.  If I can't grow enough one year, I get organic chickpeas from Europe.  They are a bit more pricey but well worth it.  Most major supermarkets carry organic pulses in the health food secition or the Indian (as in from India) food section.
Cabbage - grow my own, buy organic.  Sometimes I ferment it.  Not sure how this is any different than my ancestor's cabbage.
Wheat - This one took the longest to find a good source of.  Most of the wheat we can buy in Canada is fortified which doesn't agree with me.  Even the organic stuff.  My local bakery buys organic, non-GMO contaminated, wheat kernels and has a giant stone mill in the bakery they use to grind it.  Their breads are mostly fermented with natural yeast and are very easy to digest.  They also sell their flour.  If I can't make it there, I noticed that European wheat will often be a higher quality and easier to digest than North American wheat.  For making pasta, I usually buy European organic flower.  Funny thing is, this often works out to be a simular price to comercial North American flower as that keeps increasing in price. 

Anything I miss?
5 days ago