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

If the plants get established large enough (5+ft) they will do good. I have several elderberry plants that get grazed by cattle every year. The cattle will eat every leaf and berry that they can reach, but can’t touch the taller portions. Bears tend to get around that limitation by tackling the entire bush and snapping the limbs. Despite all this, the bushes don’t mind. They remain incredibly productive and resprout from the roots every year. Once established, plants can easily put on 3+ ft of branch a year.
1 month ago
Travis: I suspect you and I are aiming toward the same goal. What I have seen many times is people take on projects that active take them away from their farm, because they are spending time learning skills they don't need to build up their farm. Roofs are a great example. I have seen people waste entire growing seasons learning how to replace the roof on their house, thus setting their farms back an entire (!!!) year. And they didn't do as good of a job as roofers would have, because — well — roofers do it for a living. A lot of these people are putting on metal roofs, which will likely outlast their lifetime. So that skill was learned in vein. It won't be re-used. I had my roof replaced this year and it took them 3 days. I can spend $10k and save myself an entire summer of labor, which would have been an effective wage of something like $4/hr. There's no world in which that's a good decision unless I have an extra summer of free time, am already an expert roofer, or strive to be a professional roofer in the future.

My point is maximize the time doing the thing you love and want to do more of. Spend money on the things that aren't that. More likely than not, it's a good financial decision as well as a good-for-the-soul decision.
One thing I often see permies mistake is not putting a dollar value on their time. I pay a lot of people to do things I can definitely do — I have contractors remodeling the garage right now, I pay a full-time caregiver to help my parents, I pay an accountant to do my taxes, etc, etc. These are all tasks I'm totally capable of doing, but when I factor in the value of my time, I lose money to do them.

As an example, if you earn $50/hr at your freelance job and a housekeeper costs $15/hr, that means you earn $35/hr for every hour you hire them to do work since you can earn $50 in that same hour. But even then, that math is off because they are probably much better at housekeeping than you are, do a better job, and do it in less time.

It's not always clear what your hourly rate is, especially if you work for yourself. But I assure you, with enough calculations you can find a number. Even if you're not making money. Let's say you're willing to go into $10k of debt to build out a pasture that will require an extra 5hrs/week of your time for a year. You have decided that your time is worth $38/hr ($10k/(5x52)). If a housekeeper costs $15/hr and housekeeping time directly conflicts with building this investment, it's an easy choice to spend the money on a housekeeper.

But of course, you're going to have to mesh this money-centric view with your values. Maybe you enjoy cleaning your kitchen. Maybe you value self-reliance more than your hours. Focusing on rates of return is a great way to manage your finances, but not always a great way to manage your happiness.
It's just not a window installation unless there's a sawzall involved.
2 months ago
In terms of creating a popular YouTube channel, there are two entirely separate jobs:

1. Creating content people will enjoy
2. Getting people to see that content (Marketing)

Number one feels like the hard work, but number two is the vast majority of the work in today's world. It used to be that you posted something to your timeline and your friends would see it. You'd create good stuff, people would see it, and the better your stuff, the more popular it got. Those days are long dead, shot in the head and left on the side of the road to rot. There's a tremendous set of skills you need to master to get people to see content now. Part of it is behavioral psychology (ex: choosing the right titles/thumbnails), part of it is algorithmic/platform awareness (ex: what titles/keywords will get you in the right recommended lists this week), part of it is old school marketing (timing, marketing channels, branding), part of it is networking (getting the right content creators to link to your stuff), part of it is straight up luck that YouTube/Facebook/Twitter believe your content is offensive enough to show in the timeline. It's going to take a really long time to figure this stuff out.

My point is — you're over here thinking no one cares, but the "people" who don't care are most likely YouTube/Facebook's algorithms. Content marketing in 2018 is a shitshow. Don't be so hard yourself.
2 months ago
I've always heard that the reason we don't try to plant too deep is to discourage too much top growth in the fall. The deeper the bulb, the more insulation it has from the cold weather, so the more energy it expends with top growth before spring. If you live in a colder climate, this seems like it should be less of an issue.

But to be honest, I haven't found any real discussion about the consequences of planting the wrong depth. Just a lot of discussion about the "right" depth, like flowering bulbs (daffodils/tulips/etc) which I know from experience to have little to no impact. I planted mine about 4-6" deep this year, although in fluffy, worked soil that will surely compact down throughout the winter & snow load. I guess we'll see how it works out!
There are many different types of baking stones. Most you find at the store will only tolerate about 400˚F of heat. Baking Steels are the ultimate fancy in high-heat cooking surfaces, but you should be able to find some high temperature cooking stones too. I have some grey looking stones that came with my little steel pizza oven that do just fine above 900˚F. Unfortunately, I'm not sure where to find 'em!
2 months ago
When people are visiting the cabin, I tell them that there's lots of bears around. Nothing to worry about, but you might want to make sure all the food is put away at night. Tends to make for a spotless cabin come the morning.
2 months ago
Out West, this is a pretty common side effect of grazing. Cattle + creeks = steep banks. The forest service uses three strategies to combat it:

1. Brush dams — kind of weaving a little beaver dam in place. Over time, this may collect silt & soil and raise the stream bed.

2. Revegetation  — usually with willows as they can root quickly and create a thick brush that stops animals from furthering the problem.

3. Plug & Pond — this requires heavy equipment, and creates a series of ponds in the existing creek channel while cutting in new, more windy shallow creek paths.
2 months ago
Hey Amy, welcome to forums! We definitely encourage links, especially if you find the content valuable! I did some searching, and I believe this is the website you were mentioning: Winter Sown.

I like the containers idea! I do a similar with seeds I need to stratify (apple, elderberry, etc). Keeps the squirrels away!
2 months ago