Melissa Bracy

+ Follow
since Apr 03, 2018
Melissa likes ...
solar greening the desert homestead
Just starting out off-grid. So much to learn.
Northern AZ
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Melissa Bracy

Yes, I want to see you try. There are some bits about this build that I cannot envision working out, and I would love to see either: 1) I am totally wrong and this will come together successfully, or 2) the questionable bits fail but are solved in future iterations. Let's experiment, document, and share!
5 months ago
Thanks, this is a great vid. Tyler is easy to hear and understand, good tempo, good camera work, good information, nothing extraneous. Big thumbs up.
2 years ago
First off, it took me two days to watch this video. I had to stop after "40,000 elephants" and mourn for the rest of the day.


Cristo Balete wrote:Greening the deserts seems to occur to people who think that deserts aren't doing the planet any good.  It couldn't be further from the truth.  The notion that if people can't live there, everything else that does live there, doesn't matter is not a very planet-healthy notion, is it?

Despite understanding this point entirely, it just doesn't work out for me in practice. When we bought our parcel in the desert my thoughts went immediately to stewardship. Basically, keep the ATV and dirtbike enthusiasts out, stay primarily on a few trails to contain damage, don't cut down trees or dig out "inconvienient" plants, enjoy the birds but don't put out feeders, etc.

After a couple years of observation though, my thoughts have changed. Open range grazing takes a massive toll without any doubt. We only saw up to 6 cows at a time, grazing through for 3 to 4 days before making it to the next property. Then another small group (or the same one) would come back through in a week. I didn't think this was such a burden to the land until the following year, when the rancher ended his lease and rounded up the heard. What a difference it's made! Grasses and flowers are growing all over the place. During the monsoon, it looks like a green municipal park. There are "new" plant species pushing up that we had no indication whould even grow here.

It would seem that the Sonoran desert to our south and the Mojave to the west have spread with the cattle to areas like ours that were never meant to be desert. (As "spreading desertification" is explained in the video.) My thoughts on land-care now align with restoration. This area is severely damaged by human hand, and will not heal on it's own.

I don't think that Savory or any other ecologist would table that the deserts are not of massive importance to Earth. But the unnatural spreading of them is a different topic altogether. I had a deep appreciation for this land even before realizing how deeply wounded it is, and certainly would not get it in my head to "re-green" it to make it more palatable to humans anymore than I would de-salt the ocean so I could farm on the beach. Walking the surface, meeting the animals, and learning the local cycles change one's perspective.
2 years ago
One less propane appliance!
Can someone please invent a rocket refrigerator?
2 years ago
Ha! There's no pleasing everyone - good luck.

We tried a menu based around salads for a recent get together, which worked out great. We made all the food the day before and stored it in bags in the fridge so we could easily refill serving bowls as needed. We made
Jicima and grapefruit salad (just 2 ingredients),
Apple, carrot, and raisin salad (tossed in a little lemon juice),
Fruit salad with walnuts - lightly coated in yogurt,
Mediterranian salad with quinoa and bacon,
Black bean and mango salad (w/ onion, cilantro, lime),
Green garden salad.

We stayed away from pasta/ breads, mayonaise, added sugar, and meat (except the bacon) to include as many diets as possible with the salads. Grilled meat kabobs, a cheese/olive tray, bread basket, and a cheesecake rounded out the table.

I'd just focus on keeping it fresh - since that brings a quality to the table that is appreciated worldwide.
When I'm traveling, it's the exotic tastes that you never experience at home that I love to try most... so just cook what you know best and trust your guests will be gracious and have adventurous palates.
2 years ago
Or if they would prefer Northern AZ, hit me up!
I put in $1 after getting your world-domination email. But I wanted to chime in on the "why people don't donate" regardless.

Had your request come between June 2017 to June 2018, $1 would not have been affordable for us. The value of rewards you set up is great, but the bottom line is if you don't have a dollar, you can't give one. And if you only have a dollar, your very focused priorities do not include kickstarters.

And although your stretch goals are great - I am very tempted - I will not be donating more because your project is already funded. I only jumped in with the $1 because the popularity experiment interested me. This is probably short sighted considering the value of educational items you're offering, but it will be years before we are ready to utillize the additional information.
2 years ago
Ahh! Of course. I kept hearing how straightforward cob building was, but while researching in published books I found more and more caveats... No one wants to publish without an effort to include building codes.  Thanks for the nudge, Daniel.
2 years ago
The short question: Can I use adobe bricks instead of wood to frame a cob dwelling?

The longer version:
We'd like to build a home  that is
1. Suited to our environment, which is a high desert juniper/pinion forest. ~17" precipitation/ year, mostly received as intensely heavy downpours during the summer. Temps averaging mid to upper 90F, to 20F. Spring winds between 20-50 mph.
2. Built with mostly on-site materials and hand tools. Rocks, clay, wood (not lumber), some course sand and grasses are available.
3. Tailored to our bodies and habits. (No manufactured homes or cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all plans.)

We have considered domes, storage containers, cob, adobe brick, cordwood, and rock (slipform) designs. I really like cob, but I really dislike having to build a stick frame for it. Adobe seems like the next closest product, but since I am not a mason, I worry about a self-made dwelling being sturdy and safe... I also crave the freedom to curve walls, which is not a common feature of brick buildings. So I'm wodering if I can frame a building with adobe and fill with cob, cutting our lumber use to just overheads and bond beams. Is that a dumb idea?
There are many examples of very old adobe dwellings in the southwest, but no cob. I wonder why, since they are essentially the same materials in different formats.
2 years ago
Learning I was short on iron changed my life... suddenly, debilitating fatigue was treatable!
You can have a blood test done to check your levels, but if you can't get in for a test, a short trial run is not harmful for most adults. Get the common dosage supplements -85 mg I think- take one a day for 4 days. If you are deficient you will notice a difference pretty quick. Keep taking 2 to 4 doses a week as needed. If it doesn't work, you're not out much time or money.
2 years ago