Jeff Stainthorp

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since Apr 22, 2016
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books chicken food preservation forest garden greening the desert trees woodworking
Yakima, WA
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Recent posts by Jeff Stainthorp

Well holy frickin bozonkers, Batman. Last night was phantasmagorical. The presentation was incredible, and for lack of a better phrase, people's shit got shook up! (Including my own.)

Paul managed to not make anybody cry by raining (or in his terms, shitting) on their parades, and did so in a most amusing and educational fashion. I do believe he may have even converted some naysayers! In fact, I think the only photo I personally took during the presentation is of Paul dropping some truth-bombs on a skeptical attendee. I know everyone learned a lot and were grateful for your knowledge. I for one am feeling incredibly inspired about this coming season and all the new Permies I met in our little community, who braved ice and snow to attend. I'll be posting a video of the presentation (with spanish subtitles!) as soon as possible.

I think Paul and Jocelyn liked my cooking. That was pretty cool.

Like others, I believe the ripples from this event will spread, and hopefully turn into an unstoppable tsunami of Permaculture based living and farming around here.

To Paul & Jocelyn: thank you both so, so much for giving us your time and energy to further the cause in Yakima. I deeply appreciate all of the advice and camaraderie you shared with us around the dinner table, it was more than I could have ever hoped for. Y'all are awesome, and I hope our paths cross again someday!
2 years ago

Travis Johnson wrote:Its scary, airing what is essentially my farm's dirty laundry, showing that bigger is not always better; the same problems on a bigger scale. In someways I am encouraged to do that as I feel refreshed that many of you know the truth...I do not have it all together!



My response is gonna be esoteric, fair warning.

But first, I'll air my dirty laundry right along with ya if it helps. You're not alone.

It is scary throwing it all out there. People hear "farm" and they immediately get this mental image of perfectly established systems, beautiful pastures, weed free beds...but that's not the reality, almost ever. I know how nerve wracking showing people around a farm can be. I begin to see the farm through the eyes of others, and notice EVERY single thing that needs improvement, or a re-do, or that patch I neglected and looks like shit. And it can kinda suck.  But I think (hope?) we're all on this wonderful site because we know we don't know everything, and we are all striving to continuously improve. Improve our own lives, the lives of those dear to us, the health of the soil, the quality of our water and air. And for me at least, knowing that I have a community that will support me through my failures and cheer with me during triumphs is the best motivation in the world. I just hope everyone on this site knows their value to the community, because all of us are in this thing together. My brother wrote me a short poem from my perspective, after a particularly dark period in my life. I'm gonna share it, in hopes that some may find solace in the message. It certainly helped me:

"I'm paralyzed, for fear of f'kn it up.
But now I realize for the most part the story of my life is one long tale of making mistakes, of screwing things up, of learning hard lessons...and for the most part my art has been the art of working with the mistakes, the accidents, the spilt ink...
And that ain't depressing,
So much as liberating.
So today, I think I'll go f'ck life up real good."


2 years ago

Su Ba wrote:Boy, I can relate to this one! I'm often asked about some recent TV show, and since I haven't had a TV for the last 15 years, I'm the one with the blank face. I haven't a clue about the current shows and actors. So in response I took to asking things like, whatcha think about those new veggie varieties Johnney's Seeds are introducing this year? Now, people who know me don't even bother.



Haha I'm glad I'm not alone, I too could talk about veggies and trees all day!
2 years ago
...you walk out to your field in subfreezing temperatures just to see your hot compost steaming, because it makes you happy.

...when you have to apologize to all of your friends for invariably tracking shit, soil, and plant material into their homes.

...when the neighbors tell you what you're doing isn't farming, and then you laugh (politely) when they ask you for produce because drought killed theirs. (And then you give it to them, and discuss regenerative agriculture.)

...when you realize the blank stares you give people who discuss pop culture is the same as the one they give you when talking about permaculture.
2 years ago
I'm pretty sure with proper management, crimson clover can be an excellent addition to any system, especially no-till. I personally love it, and let it grow where it wants. But if you're worried about it taking over, as long as you mow it down low right as it is budding (or early flowering stage, before it develops seeds) I think you'll be just fine. Here's a link to a S.A.R.E article, it's kind of geared toward larger scale operations, but it still has a lot of useful information. It also mentions oats and crimson clover as companions: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Managing-Cover-Crops-Profitably-3rd-Edition/Text-Version/Legume-Cover-Crops/Crimson-Clover

2 years ago
The shoots are delicious! I live surrounded by smooth sumac. The best ones are first year shoots on old stems, but you can eat the tips of existing branches as they start growing in spring. Make sure to only harvest the fresh, green shoots. If you look at the bottom of the shoot after you cut it and it has already started developing a white pithy center, cut some more off until the inside of the shoot is all green. Peel off the outer layer (undeveloped bark) and you can just pop em in your flavor hole and enjoy. You could also steam em, lightly sautee them, or stir fry them. People say they taste like asparagus, but I haven't found that to be true. They're still tasty, and a good treat!

*Edit to add* I think someone mentioned it, but once the leaves have turned red they make a lovely addition to tobacco, if you're into that sort of thing. Kind of sweet and aromatic. I also tend to add mullein, yarrow, white sage and red osier dogwood bark, for a delicious smoke that cuts down on my tobacco usage until I grow the cajones to quit.  
2 years ago
Have you tried talking to your local conservation agency to see if they have native grass mixtures? That's what I would recommend. I bought a mix of native bunchgrasses from my local agency for super cheap, like $3 a pound.  (They gave me a discount after we ended up talking about Permaculture and regenerative agriculture and what I was trying to do!) But I amended the native grass mix with drought tolerant or fast growing forage and nectar crops (sweet clover, white clover, vetch, buckwheat, millet, turnips, cowpeas) to serve as a support and nursery species for the perennials to get established. I watered this twice after sowing to get everything going, then let nature do it's thing. A lot died in the heat of the summer; but enough survived thanks to the sacrifice of the short term crops that there is still some green under the snow!

2 years ago
This is a great thread, and really made me think about where my sweat equity is going this coming year. Here it goes:
1. Implement earthworks design
2. Begin establishing alley crop and silvopasture fields.
3. Acquire dairy cow
4. Expand chicken flock
5. Produce food year round from existing production space.
2 years ago
That's right,  and thank you for the shout Jocelyn! We do have a lovely guesthouse, managed by the "& company!" I live in a communal setting, and my title is Farmer Jeff around here. Mostly cause my main duties involve the crud-crusted, pasture-prancing, tree planting, animal raising dirty life. But Maria is the key decision maker and landlord, and she runs the Airbnb. I track too much poop everywhere The guesthouse is open to whoever, and visitors are invited to participate as much as  they want. We've had some folks get dirty in the fields with me, (that was awesome!) and we've had folks just lounge around and watch me try to herd chickens. Both are welcome! The house is chock full of permie literature, as well as books on herbalism, wildcrafting, native flora and fauna, philosophy, etc., and the fridge is typically stocked with fresh, seasonal food from my small farm on the property. We would absolutely LOVE to get more permie folks swingin through!
2 years ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'm looking at the contour lines. They seem the same distance apart on both sides of where the proposed keyline was drawn, but a few feet lower in elevation, the lines get much further apart.

From a pragmatic standpoint, I like sediment to drop out of the sheet flow just before it reaches the keyline, rather than dumping sediment directly into the keyline.



That makes a lot of sense, and I appreciate your input. I suppose there were some factors that led me to this design that should I should have mentioned, which probably influenced why I placed my keyline where I did. A lot of them are coming from being on the land for a full season just observing, and the lay of the land isn't super well represented by the contour lines. (They were done by me, not a professional. The only available USGS datasets for my area weren't detailed beyond 20 ft elevation changes.)

Where I live we get (in a good year) around 7 inches of rain throughout fall, winter, and early spring, and a maybe a few inches of snow. There have never been any sheet flows I've observed, and I've talked to farmers that have been on the property for 40+ years as well so I'm less concerned about sediment deposit, and more focused on helping what water we get more evenly distributed. (Our primary erosion concern is wind.) I was also was under the impression that the keypoint should be at or near the inflection point of a primary valley? I chose the kepypoint using an elevation profile of the primary valley, I can pull up a screenshot once I'm actually on my computer. This placement was the only one where the keyline pattern maintained the slight downslope grade from the "wettest" part of the property (where all the cheatgrass and lambs quarters go crazy before anything else, and stay greener longer during the summer) towards my ridges that are always bone dry and dusty. I did do a mock up of what you suggested, but when I continued the pattern from both 2&3 feet lower in elevation I ended up with my valley being the lowest point in the line, which I thought was a no-no? Or, I will admit, I could have some sort of mental block keeping me from properly grasping this concept, and I'm being an idiot (feel free to tell me so, if this is the case!)

I guess what I'm wondering is whether you had concerns about the effectiveness of my design, or were simply stating that you would personally do the design differently?
2 years ago