Kyle Neath

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since May 07, 2016
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Somewhere in between a software developer and agroforester. Once upon a time I built a lot of software in a very fancy city, but now I can usually be found running around in the mountains.
Leaping Daisy is my main gig. It's an old high country ranch in the Sierra Nevadas. In the summers, I spend my time fixing 100 year old log cabins, improving the forest, and building out infrastructure to host small events. In the winters, I strap on my snowshoes and play in the snow.
In between that, I'm still trying to figure this whole life thing out. I spend a bit of time writing software to pay the bills, a chunk of it caring for my parents, and the rest playing around the mountains near Tahoe.
Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
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Recent posts by Kyle Neath

I know this is an old topic, but I have a good reason for resurrecting it!

First off, I just got off the phone with the director of a local conservancy and some financial planners. The way these easements work is that you negotiate with the conservancy what rights in which areas you are retiring. The conservancy does not own these rights, they are retired — so you cannot buy them back. What those rights look like are completely up to your negotiations. It seems as though I could box out specific pieces of my land to retain all rights for, while giving up other rights in other areas. The only rights that apply to the whole property are title-related right, specifically the right to subdivision. You then hire an appraiser to appraise the value of the rights you've given up, and that becomes the amount you can deduct from taxes.

For the next part, I'd love to hear about anyone with experiences with these types of grants. What kind of things should I include in my negotiations? From the outset, this seems like a great fit for my property. I have zero interest in subdivision, and no qualms with retiring rights in perpetuity. This will never be a year-round home or a homesteading location, and I'm not super interested in logging the property (primary means of future income). The tax deduction would be far more lucrative than any non-logging business I could run there. My main interest is to have some land to play with gardening-wise (a comically small percentage of acreage), a nice place to escape to in the summers, and improvement of the landscape. The last part is one of the biggest reasons for my interest in this. We'd effectively be partnering with the conservancy and they would help with things like fencing the free-grazing cows out, clearing the meadow of lodgepoles, stream improvement, etc.

So... anyone with experiences here? We don't plan on making any moves on this until at least next summer, but I'm always interested in more personal experiences.
2 days ago
Wet Tyvek is not a problem at all. Pretty much every house built outside of the desert gets wet during construction. The purpose of house wrap is to stop new moisture from getting in. The construction moisture will breathe through the interior walls over time — that's why we only put house wrap on the outside.

The nails or staples with the plastic disks are there to increase the surface area holding down the Tyvek, preventing a tear.
1 week ago
We're due for our first frost here in a couple of days, which as always means it's the most productive time of the year! The front-yard garden continues to produce tomatoes and the first tomatillos have started breaking through their casings.

Last weekend I had some friends up at the ranch, and I convinced them to harvest elderberries for with me. I ended up with a paper bag completely filled with berries at the end of it. Once they were picked, it was a little over a gallon and a half of berries.

My primary reason was to make elderberry syrup! I love semi-sweet syrups like this with a bit of butter on english muffins in the morning.

With the rest of the berries I'm attempting to make wine! Elderberries grow very well at the ranch if you can protect them from the cows. I hope to get better at making wine in the future, but for now this is a very rough recipe. I used to help my dad making beer eons ago, but since then I really haven't done anything fermented. I'm excited to see how it turns out — worst case, I'll have a bunch of vinegar to make in about a year.

As winter approaches, I've been trying to get better at indoor gardening. This batch of radish microgreens got a little leggy while we were away at the ranch, but I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. Radish, avocado, and seed salads (in this case, some old sliced almonds) are also some of my favorite snacks.

1 week ago
For those curious why CEO pay started to explode in the 90s, Planet Money has a great podcast going over the mechanics of how that came to be.
2 weeks ago

I know that there are two kinds of timber harvests: ugly and really ugly.

The first action I would suggest is to break out of this mindset. Trees are plants, just like our blackberry bushes and rhubarbs. We harvest all kinds of plants for our usage, and timber shouldn't be seen to be any different. There are lots of good reasons to harvest timber — clearing out diseased trees, trees highly susceptible to coming diseases/pests, reducing a monoculture, thinning to encourage healthy growth, etc.

I would ask questions about a few different angles:

1. Water flow & erosion control. Are there streams on the property? What will be the protections to these streams during harvest? Will they be building new roads/skid paths? What kind of protections will be made to these when they're done? (ex: water bars)

2. Impact to land. What kind of equipment are they planning on using? Larger equipment usually results in a much lighter impact on the land (bigger tires/tracks spread out weight more evenly and large equipment like CTL loggers can take a tree down without it ever hitting the ground). How will they be moving the logs to the landing? Vehicles are generally less impactful than pulleys here.

3. How will they be selecting the timber? High-grading is the worst possible option. Ideally you want your forest to be mostly widely spaced trees interspersed with open areas and dense areas. The goal is to give existing trees maximum sunlight, new nursery areas full sunlight, and dense thickets for wildlife to dash between. Clear cutting entire properties is obviously extremely damaging, but in small sections can often result in a much healthier ecosystem than even selective thinning.

4. What will they do with the slash? This is really up to you — you can leave some brush piles for wildlife habit if they don't pose a fire threat, burning slash often kickstarts the natural succession process by sweetening the soil and stratifying tree seeds. Or you could have them chip it.

5. Will they be planting new seedlings? Doing a controlled burn? Both of these options are great for replenishing the forest in the harvested areas.

All in all, I'd just recommend trying to talk to the forester more. Explain your goals to them and see what they think. If you don't like how they think, look for another forester to get a second opinion. Once you have someone on your same wavelength, they can help with the technical details of the harvest to better your goals.
2 weeks ago
When I got the email today about some new podcasts, it reminded me of another thing: no feed! All the patreon podcats I subscribe to give patreons a special feed for the early access podcasts so I can just subscribe in Castro and the podcasts show up on my phone.
I'd think that roots wouldn't have a problem turning 180˚and cruising up and through the pipes from the bottom. Or just constricting around them. Or pressing them sideways and breaking the pipe through shear. But then again, I usually make it a personal rule not to tempt fate when the consequences end up with me knee deep in shit.
3 weeks ago
I think what you'll find is that "it depends" in a big way. But a better way to phrase it is that you'll need to do some engineering to figure that out. You'll need to find the saturated weight of your particular soil, calculate how deep you plan on burying the woofati, and then add the design ground snow load to that. The latter should be available from your county's building department, but the first part may require having some tests done to your soil. Different soils weigh different amounts, have different saturation characteristics, and everyone puts a different amount of soil on top of their buried structure. Snow load can end up being quite significant too. My ground snow load is 316psf, while my parent's ground snow load an hour and a half away is 0psf.
3 weeks ago

how long does it take to them to appear? I think it cannot be seen yet in a young plant, and was wondering how long it takes?

I have always heard that nodules start appearing about the same time as the first flowers.
3 weeks ago
I have a lemon eucalyptus cream that works for light mosquito pressure. We also make little tinctures of various essential oils — eucalyptus, grapefruit, and citronella most often.

And of course witch hazel for when this fails. Nothing better to soothe an itch!
3 weeks ago