chris florence

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since Dec 06, 2017
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fungi hunting
Garden Valley, Idaho
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Recent posts by chris florence

Andrew Mayflower wrote:

chris florence wrote:

We solve the problem of high cost protein in 3 ways :

1) Hunting - This may not be an option where you live but we hunt for about 90% of our meat here in Idaho. It's better than organic and necessitates a lifestyle of fitness and physical activity. Pretty good side benefits, eh ?

2) Foraging - Wild things are the healthiest food you can find. This, like hunting, has a learning curve but can be fairly reliable, especially with preservation techniques.

3) Mushroom Cultivation - No matter where you live, you can grow mushrooms (much easier than meat). Most mushrooms are high in protein and some have a taste very similar to meat.

Hope this helps !



I'm a hunter.  I go every year for elk, and 4 out of the last 5 years we've gotten one.  I wish I had the time to also hunt deer, but with 4 kids the wife doesn't want me gone that much.  If I had my way I'd hunt the vast majority of our protein as I like the taste so much better, and the health benefits are big too.

All that said, the idea you can get low cost protein by hunting is one of the most ridiculous things I've read.  Once you account for the guns/bows, ammo/arrows, practice, travel, camping equipment or accommodation expenses, licenses, special permit applications/preference points, and so on, plus amortizing the cost of the years you don't kill anything, and hunting is probably one the most expensive ways to acquire protein.  And that's here in the western USA, where you can get quality hunting opportunities on public land.  In the mid-west and back east where you're either in a pumpkin patch on public land, or paying through the nose for a lease on private land it gets ever more costly.  It's still worth the expense, but let's not kid ourselves on the total costs involved.



Firstly, I realize this is a thread in the "chicken" forum and is more geared towards the idea of cost comparison between store-bought meat and "DIY" (i.e. farming/ranching) meat but I'm not a fan of "let's consider just two options" kind of thinking. Maybe we can consider this discussion about hunting/gathering as "thinking outside the fence" - just a third and fourth option.

I hear the argument that Andrew has raised here from people all the time that "hunting doesn't pencil out". In certain areas (those lacking public lands or wildlife animals that are managed for harvest) hunting can be difficult to impossible. But, In the United States where gun ownership is allowed and hunting is permitted, committed  "meat hunters" find a way to make it work. Maybe your state doesn't allow hunting, or it's difficult to draw tags but maybe a neighboring state allows for more hunting opportunities or maybe your state/province/country offers other opportunities you haven't considered. Not all states have good "big game" options but there are small game hunting and/or fishing and/or foraging opportunities in every state in the US I can think of. There is an overpopulation of whitetail deer in almost every state East of the Rockies - estimates are as high as 30 MILLION deer . It's actually a big problem and most states are begging people to hunt them, practically giving away tags. There are "depredation" hunts across the country....

So, let's talk about cost. By adding in all the one-time equipment costs (weapons, gear, etc) and their inefficiencies as hobby, or trophy hunters, people make hunting and gathering sound like a losing proposition. But let's compare apples to apples for a minute. If you're going to add in the cost of the weapon, gear, etc then you have to do the same for farming/ranching. First of all, you have to own, or have access to, land to even consider the option of growing your own chickens or geese. What does land cost ? Amortize that into the cost of your home-grown chicken. Then add your your barn, chicken tractors, feeders, waterers, labor (very few people account for their own time when they look at cost of production at the homestead level). Then add the cost of chicks/brooding, then feed, THEN, add the cost of commitment - if you have livestock you are anchored to your land/food production system, you can't run off for two weeks to capitalize on a big salmon run, elk rut, or mushroom flush (unless you have a caretaker to watch over your operations). I suspect that's not an issue for most on this forum as it's almost a forgone conclusion with Permaculturists that we're going to spend vast amounts of time attending to our various projects "around the farm". I might be alone on this but if I miss any significant opportunity because I have to stay home and feed chickens, I feel bummed out...

Let's compare the costs of hunting, excluding one-time (or infrequent) purchases. This is largely dependent on how you hunt. In the Midwestern US, East and South regions you're probably treestand hunting whitetail deer. This is a very inexpensive way to hunt deer IF you don't go crazy with all the gimmicky gadgets that suck $$ out of your pocket and don't actually increase harvest rates. If you get land access, set up your treestand and pick up a gun or bow, you can kill a deer for under $100 if you do it in a reasonable amount of time and have aprox 50# of boneless meat. In the Western US, you're probably hunting mule deer (or whitetail) or elk.   In my experience, proficiency (not location) in hunting is the biggest variable in the final cost of the protein harvested. I absolutely count on what I kill to feed my family. So, I spend a sufficient amount of time researching the area, my quarry, etc. I also stay in shape all year (at least I try to) so that when the time comes, I won't be blaming my fitness for a failed hunt. I also don't go hunting with a big group of guys that don't depend on the meat or take it as seriously as I do - and who are probably also expecting a share, regardless of their level of commitment, fitness or involvement. Many hunters also don't know how to get every pound of meat off of an animal in the field - or worse, they don't want to pack it all out - drastically reducing their yield. I know guys that didn't even know there was meat on the neck of elk and deer. Three years ago I weighed just the neck meat from a bull elk I shot and it was 37.8 pounds (being selective about which animal you harvest helps significantly). The mule deer I shot that year had 18# neck meat. Most guys also don't take the bones or count them in their yield. I pack out the bones, roast them, render the marrow fat, and make bone stock. The value of bone stock and marrow fat from a wild grass-fed animal is hard to put a value on. Another thing that's hard to put a value on is the overall health that being a hunter provides. No gym membership, no diabetes, no heart disease, no GMO's. There is proof that just being in the forest promotes physical and emotional well being. Google "Pinene" and "forest therapy practiced in Japan"...

So, I can't really speak to what others "per pound" cost of meat is because there are too many variables but I know that this year I had very little time to hunt elk and had to get it done quickly, solo. I hunted 5 days and harvested a spike bull elk (the smallest elk proportionately) that netted just under 100# of boneless meat (bigger bulls I have harvested went close to 200# of boneless meat). It cost me roughly $70 in gas, $80 tag and license $120 in food and "consumable" supplies. I went through 4 arrows practicing and used 1 to kill the elk = $58. So, $328 for 100# of meat, 40# of bone, 8# of liver, 3# of heart (you can also keep the tongue, hide, and other various parts if you're so inclined). Price out some "Organic, free-range, grass fed elk meat" and you'll see many hunters are printing $ in the mountains. While spending time throwing scratch, filling feeders, moving chicken tractors etc can be considered exercise, farming/gardening involves so many unnatural movements that I always felt like I was breaking my body down on the farm versus getting stronger earning my protein in the woods. But that's just me... individual results may vary. :)
1 year ago
First, and I say this as an unabashed omnivore, - reduce the amount of meat you eat. This applies mainly here in the US where we're very meat-centric in our eating habits and portion size. Our household sticks to the "deck of cards" portion size (about 6oz) when it comes to meat and we never feel deprived. It may take awhile to get used to but it's the simplest way to reduce your meat-based protein costs. We raised meat birds (cornish cross) commercially on our organic farm (11,000 birds in one season), using the Salatin method,  and found that the mortality rate of the weak genetics was too high to feel humane and 'Heritage" breeds are too tough, small breasted, or take too long to mature to be worthwhile...

We solve the problem of high cost protein in 3 ways :

1) Hunting - This may not be an option where you live but we hunt for about 90% of our meat here in Idaho. It's better than organic and necessitates a lifestyle of fitness and physical activity. Pretty good side benefits, eh ?

2) Foraging - Wild things are the healthiest food you can find. This, like hunting, has a learning curve but can be fairly reliable, especially with preservation techniques.

3) Mushroom Cultivation - No matter where you live, you can grow mushrooms (much easier than meat). Most mushrooms are high in protein and some have a taste very similar to meat.

Hope this helps !
1 year ago

Corey Schmidt wrote:I have a few bits of info to offer, having done rainwater catchment systems for 5 different homes now.  
1:  it might be a good idea to shop around for the tank.  I recently purchased a 2500 gallon hdpe water tank (Norwesco) from Home Depot in Kenai Alaska for just over $1000.  
2:  an alternate means of collecting rainwater is to run the water from the gutter through a screen, first flush device, then into a 30-50 gallon barrel with a pump on a float switch that pumps it through filters into your tank, assuming you have electricity.  The first flush device can be in a conditioned space along with the catch and pump barrel (just be sure to put an overflow on the barrel as well as your big tank!). You can also put a diverter in your downspout to send all water away when everything is full (by manually turning a valve- easy if you switch from normal gutter to 2"dwv(drain/waste/vent) pipe (ABS). I usually pump sequentially through 30, 10, and 1 micron standard spun polyester filters 2" x10"-- filters should be available locally for under $7 each.  I usually have to change them 2-4 times per year, and the housings run around $30 each for culligan brand.
3.  starting for around $450 you can get a UV sterilizer.  If you put a 5 micron 4" x 20" filter after your pump then a UV sterilizer after that, you've got potable water throughout your house.  The UV sterilizer does need to operate continuously (i think its about 10 watts) and the bulb needs changed once a year (about $90).  Its recommended to do it this way rather than batch treatment before your tank because UV has no residual disinfecting power.
I did a write up on one system for a summer only cabin
https://permies.com/t/55399/potable-rainwater-harvesting-system-client
I hope some of this can be of benefit!  



Thanks for the input All ! After substantial research and carefully considering everyone's input, I've come up with a plan... I think !  . I believe strongly in redundant systems when it comes to our off-grid plan. I've come to realize that to do this safely and reliably (at least for our specific project), I'm going to have to incrementally phase out oil/grid dependency. For instance, the power line supplying electricity to our house can't be quickly replaced without spending more $ than we currently have at our disposal. Besides, our power bill is only $38-63/month  so, economically, it's not the highest priority. We solved the problem of "What if the power goes out?" , at least in the short term, by buying a standby, propane powered generator and will bury a 1000 gal propane tank next to the house in the spring. This buys us some time to reduce energy use in the house by replacing electric appliances as they fail - (which doesn't seem to take long these days) until we can afford solar options. By the time we're done, we'll have the option of solar, propane, or grid power depending on the circumstances...

So, keeping redundancy in mind,  I'm going to forgo any underground tanks and opt for the Rainwater "pillow" placed in the crawlspace (5000gal min, larger if we can afford it) - along with an above ground tank, or tanks,  upslope from us for the backup "pumpless" water pressure in case all power generation fails (and we can use it for irrigation without using the house pump). And I'll keep the existing above ground tank  (2750 gal) as the primary catchment tank in it's isolated mechanical room.  So, I see it working like this...

The HDPE tank in the mechanical room will be the first stop for "caught" water - after a sand filter placed in the same room. I'm thinking I can settle out whatever gets past the sand filter. I can setup the plumbing to pump off the top or the bottom of the poly tank with the turn of a couple valves. Sediments are easier to clean from this tank (compared to the pillow) as it has a manhole-sized lid to do a manual clean out periodically. So I can pump off the upper half of the tank if the water is going to be used in the house, or I can pump off the bottom of the tank and send it up the hill to the backup/irrigation tanks. I'm hoping that settling will lengthen the life of filter elements. Then, as Corey outlined, I'll filter water before it gets stored in the rainwater pillow, which will be our "water savings account".

I'd love to figure out ways to store heat in the water mass as well but it may create more hassle (and complexity) than it's worth. Solar thermal is a marginal-at-best option where we live. The sun only hits our house for about 4 hours on a cloudless winter day and cloudless winter days are rare.  We also have a lot of trees shading the house . PV solar, at least what I know of it, is a very expensive way to heat water, to in turn heat your house. Firewood is cheap, clean(er) and uncomplicated. Wood heat stored in water is the most efficient energy conversion model possible here but the initial costs are so high we've pretty well given up on solar, boilers and radiant systems for heating needs...
1 year ago
Once again, I'd like to advocate for Fungi ! Super nutritional/medicinal and they can be grown in any climate (indoors), take less time to fruit than vegetables, and don't require lifelong "soil building" to get good yields. Grow them on waste wood, cardboard, straw, old clothes, grain that the pests got to... the list goes on and on. Not to mention, if you're growing vegetables - nothing will build soil faster than fungi. Adding the right fungi to your compost pile can speed things up exponentially. They can also be used to remediate contaminated soils. The symbiotic relationships between plants and fungi are so integral to good soil, they behave as one organism (see Glomeromycota).

Plus, they're very easy to preserve. Almost all mushrooms can be dried (and powdered). They also have something that most vegetables (outside of grains and legumes) don't have - high protein content (if you're into the whole "protein thing".

Most people will probably say " Yeah, but I don't like mushrooms" - but almost every person I've heard say this has only tried one or two mushrooms, usually poorly prepared. If you like meat, I'll guarantee you'd like the right (to your palate) mushroom. If you don't like meat - or don't eat it for whatever reason - mushrooms should be your "go to" protein. Many of us live in climates where "growing all of your own food" is either not a possibility or limits you to a very basic, un-diversified diet.

1 year ago
If you learn to make an "airport lid" and produce spawn with Liquid Culture, you can skip the flow hood and produce FREE reliable spawn for any type of mushroom. Sanitation is still just as important but it's MUCH much much easier to achieve than in other propagation scenarios.
1 year ago
My Testimonial - I own Peter's book and attended one of his 3-day workshops when he came here to Idaho this past summer. I can't say enough good things about Peter's work. I don't have a lot of $ but I contributed everything I could to this kickstarter as I believe this school/program is what will bring mycology to the masses. Until recently, anyone wanting to grow mushrooms had significant barriers to entry - expensive lab equipment, difficult to master techniques, etc -  books on the subject were written mainly for the commercial cultivator. Peter "keeps it real" with his approach and shows how anyone can start growing mushrooms on their own, with very little startup $ or background in mycology. Go Peter !
1 year ago
If you're interested in growing mushrooms at home, I would highly recommend the resources provided by Peter McCoy. He published a book called Radical Mycology that makes it MUCH easier to grow at home by creating your own spawn. He offers workshops (which I have attended and are worth every penny) and recently, hid Kickstarter campaign for a Mycology school (for the people) was recently funded. So he will be producing tons of online courses as well...

Another good resource is Trad Cotter's Book -  Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation

Happy Shrooming !

EDIT - I see now that Peter is a member here and there are current threads about his kickstarter, etc... I want to re-emphasize that Peter's methods offer many hacks that save a lot of $ over other methods of cultivation. If you're interested in growing fungi at all, follow his work.
1 year ago
Also , I may not be using a First-flush diverter, at least not the traditional style, as they're tough to do in freezing climates. I came across this good thread about "cold weather catchment systems... some good stuff.

COLD CLIMATE CATCHMENT THREAD LINK
1 year ago

Creighton Samuiels wrote:

Rez Zircon wrote:

Creighton Samuiels wrote:But if you are using rainwater, there shouldn't be any sediment.


Not true -- depending on conditions, rainwater can have enough sediment that it looks like ditchwater. Rain catches dust in the air; your roof catches dust and sheds a certain amount of grit; trees shed organic particles even if you don't see obvious leaves etc. This area isn't even dusty and I've had to scrape mud out of the gutters -- washed down the roof by the rain. Sand and coarser particles aren't the problem, as they'll settle out easily enough; what clogs filters is suspended microgrit.



Well, sure.  If your roof is asphalt it could be bad. If your roof is metal, it's less likely.  Also, that is what the first flush devices are for; diverting the first couple gallons that come off the roof during a rainstorm.  That's where the vast majority of the dust & clutter will be anyway.  And there is supposed to be a high flow filter to catch the particulates on the way in.  So, there shouldn't be any sediment, but it could still be dealt with if necessary.



Hopefully my filtration works perfectly, but I'm just trying to look down the road at any possible hassles - like not being able to clean fines out of a 10,000 gal bag. I do have a steel roof so that's a big help. Honestly, I don't think I'd even consider catching rain off of an asphalt shingle roof but I know that it's done. I'm planning on really tanking up on the snowfall we get up here, which has a fair amount of wood ash from our chimney. Pine pollen and all the airborne dirt (dust) that is around from dirt roads and driveway are major polluters. We usually have a forest fire in the summer thats close enough to drop a surprising amount of white ash on the roof....So, I expect the water that comes off the roof to be fairly loaded with superfine particles. Maybe there are certain things that will be in solution and then precipitate out in the pillow... ? I'm still looking at filtration but from what I gather, the cleaner you want the finished water, the more you're going to pay to get and maintain the filters. I like the idea of not having to replace expensive filter elements to maintain pristine quality in my tank/cistern/pillow...

Also, just for the sake of others who might read this thread, I looked at these Aquablox for awhile but decided I didn't have the right place to put a "modular pond"... Good option for some I'm sure. I thought about a budget version with milk crates too (legally purchased ones of course :)

AQUABLOCKS LINK

1 year ago
They don't mention anything about cleaning the "pillow" in the maintenance routine. I'm curious how one would deal with both sediments and biological contamination. Seems that a rigid tank is going to be easier to clean if necessary...

The other (perceived) downside is that under some circumstance the thing might get punctured/ruptured and flood your crawlspace with a massive amount of water, but I guess that's true of pipes bursting, leaky fittings etc in conventional plumbing systems to some extent...
1 year ago