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Rene Nijstad

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since Oct 04, 2015
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Born in The Netherlands, now living on our permaculture farm in Colombia. College degree in town planning, worked in research for some time, started my own company in graphical design after that. The economic crisis of 2009 wrecked my company, which made me severely think what to do next. After much research and some feelings of despair I stumbled on Permaculture as the obvious solution for both my own future as well as the future for our planet. Bought a 10 hectare farm together with my partner in 2014 and we're working on setting it up as a demonstration site for PC.
La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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Recent posts by Rene Nijstad

This year I learned that everything is about creating habitat. In permaculture we know that we have to create habitat for predators. For beneficial species of any kind. But we often forget about the creatures closest to us, humans...

If you have great ideas and amazing plans, but you fail to create a human habitat that other people feel they can fit into, you will end up sitting there in the sunset with all your plans empty and your future plans setup for failure.
I've done a bunch of logos in the past. What I took away from doing them is to make them damn obvious. I love the lightbulb idea, but I miss the super-over-obvious W, to me it just looks way way too hidden. Just my 2 cents though...
We use a blowtorch to heat the skin, a shovel and a knife to scrape it off, and a rough flat stone and cold water to polish the pig after that. The hooves we burn and then sort of break them off from the foot. That gives a very nice clean pig, which by the heat of the fire is pretty much desinfected I would think.

Then we clean out the intestines and organs and rinse the whole pig another time. Then we cut it into the basic pieces, head, front legs, middle part, hams... And rinse them again when we take them inside. After that we skin and debone the parts one by one. The skin we cut off with most of the fat on it. This skin with fat we cut into little pieces and put them in the frying pan to heat off the lard and get those krispy delicious snacks of cracking pigskin...

The meat we then further cut up in pieces of about a kg each and those then go into the freezer. Looking at the pictures above of those skinned whole pigs I indeed wonder how you can keep that clean. That's so heavy to handle and difficult to carry anywhere. It's really much easier in my personal experience to the final work in parts (front legs, middle, hams) as I described.
1 month ago
Hey Lloyd!

Welcome! I'm Dutch too. I moved to South America. Good luck in France!
1 month ago
The most difficult I know of is cacao. If not put into the ground immediately after getting the seeds out of the pods, its germination rate goes down really fast. But it's a tropical species, so I guess it's not the most relevant to most permies.

But other than that, I'm actually quite impressed how easy it is to grow plants and trees from seed!
Looks pretty nice to me. Swales don't necessarily need to be so deep, because a high swale mount also means it dries out faster. Yours is wide, so that makes the volume of water it can catch high as well. Did you create an overflow for really big rain events?

If you want to calculate how big the swales should be, someone made a calculator for that. You can find it here:
2 months ago
I have a weird experience with nightly cramps in my right calf and foot. I also have problems falling and staying asleep as long as I remember...

I've had problems with those cramps some years ago and about a year ago they came back. Frequently. Sometimes every night and it was always super painful and very difficult to relax the muscle.

Then it occured to me that those cramps are basically just a muscle tightening to the extreme without the muscle relaxing again. I thought that must mean that there is a continuous signal from my brain to that muscle to keep it tight. Was that an unconscious action of my brain? Was I self sabotaging my sleep?

I remember thinking that it would be extremely silly and tragic if I was indeed causing myself such intense pain and at the same time waking myself up. And that was the last time it happened.

Now maybe it was a pure coincidence... But that flash in my thoughts when I "realized" that you need to give an electronic signal to a muscle to make it contract seemed to create an awareness that I could then use to prevent it from happening again.
2 months ago
That clarifies things a bit, especially the drawing in the PDF.

No, what you add on top of the soil doesn't generally influence subsurface water flows.

Your driveway seems to be below grade, with no ditch on both sides, and no grading of the driveway itself. That causes water to collect on the surface of your driveway. For a solution I would fix these things first, dig a ditch on both sides of the driveway, grade the driveway itself so water flows into these ditches, and then continue these ditches downslope, to a point where the water can drain away passively, by itself.

If that is not enough, then you can dig diversion swales, or diversion ditches, which are gently sloped downward in a direction where you want water to flow to, to get rid of (some of the) subsoil water, and all of the above soil runoff if there is any. You can dig these where you indicate that you could put berms of material. However, I don't think you'll need these if you make the improvements to your driveway. Plus, if your subsurface water level is that high, you most certainly don't need more water infiltrating into the soil.

Good luck!
2 months ago
Congratulations Rob!

I quit smoking in May last year. This time it worked, because I was way better prepared. Let me explain, maybe it helps someone else as well.

I realized for me smoking was about 3 things:
1 the mechanism of nicotine addiction,
2 the habit and
3 the need to pauze for a minute to either feel satisfied or happy, or to just think for a minute.

Those 3 things made up my smoking habits. Understanding them made it easy to quit.

1 Nicotine is very addictive, so that's a bit of a willpower thing. The good news is that it only takes 1 to 3 weeks to get rid of that physical addiction. Hang in there for a little while and that's fixed! Always remind yourself that it's not smoking that you want, but the feeling it gives and that even more often you just did light one up out of habit only.

2 habits can be replaced... But only if you're aware of them. Many times I felt like I "needed" a cigarette, but after the first weeks when the physical addiction wears off, I knew that I just wanted my habits to continue. The reasons are number 3, you need a pauze sometimes, a moment to step back and reflect. That's not a bad habit, but filling that habit with cigarettes is!

3 instead of cigarettes, people replace the smoking habit with for example chewing gum, or sweets (hmm chocolate!!!). But then you create a new addiction... So by being aware that you sometimes need a break you can just start to take them consciously, whenever you feel like smoking! Just realizing: "ah, my mind tells me that I need a moment", helped me a lot to bend that feeling of needing a cigarette away to consciously take a short break instead.

Then finally during the first months I made a new routine to help me cope by allowing rewards to stay part of my daily routine, but only once a day. I would reward myself with a cup of chocolate icecream at the end of every day. Just to not lose that occasional moment of satisfaction every day. At some point I didn't need that any longer and it faded into the background and I started to forget buying the icecream.

After the first weeks I have never wanted a cigarette anymore. I broke the mental connection between smoking and taking a short moment away from what I was doing.

Good luck!
2 months ago

Rene Nijstad wrote:Crushing through these bushes might really bring me any closer

To retaining water into this drought stricken landscape would be
2 months ago