Louis Fish

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since Mar 11, 2019
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kids chicken cooking
Beginning hobby farmer and permaculture enthusiast.
Cheney, WA
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Recent posts by Louis Fish

Malus sylvestris [Rosaceae] (apple).
The seeds contain prussic acid (cyanide). A single cup of seeds is sufficient to be fatal.

This one always tickles the hell out of me when I see it listed as a poison.  While yes, it's true that they do contain prussic acid, the amount of seeds you'd have to eat is just hilariously huge.  Visualize a whole cup of apple seeds, then remember that there's only about 5 tiny seeds to a fruit.  You'd have to be intentionally poisoning yourself to eat enough to kill.

Now stone fruit pits on the other hand do contain amygdalin which breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. It's still stupidly difficult to eat enough to poison yourself with but there was a "health" trend for a while there selling stone fruit pits and their concentrated extracts as a vitamin supplement, even advertising amygdalin as a secret cancer curing miracle "vitamin" (which I suppose is technically true; If you die from cyanide poisoning, you don't have to worry about cancer) with absolutely no warnings about potential risks.  They aren't required to because as a supplement it's not regulated by the FDA. You know the crowd that thinks "natural" means "always healthy with no side effects" has a venn diagram overlapping with the "if some is good, more is better" people and yep, there have been several cases of accidental cyanide poisoning from these "supplements".
3 weeks ago
Hey Ron! We're also in Washington, but in west plains (Cheney).  The "cabin" we have came with the property, but it was only a half finished deal with a loft.  My understanding is that the previous owner put it together from an online shed kit though!  It's 10 X 20, so the foot print is 200 square feet but once we finish the loft into a second floor it will be double that.  Oldest is getting a bunk bed and the two youngest will be sharing a daybed with pull-out trundle, and grown ups get a bed upstairs.  We all have room to spare, even.  I think it's very do-able to covert a shed kit into a tiny home/cabin and very quick if you can bribe some help with some beers!
Have you had any sudden, particularly hot or cold temps?  Even if they aren't that hot or cold to you, if it jumped suddenly that will often hit unsuspecting birds, especially new fledglings.  They can't handle the stress of it on their little tiny bodies.  This time of year, July is The Burning Times in our hemisphere and we always find a house sparrow or two on the sidewalk that succumbed.
3 months ago
This isn't electricity sort of energy, but the text book definition of energy is the capacity for doing work, right?  On our 20 acres we're usually in no shortage of some pretty strong steady wind, usually blowing from south, southwest, and sometimes west.  I want to dig a hand well and set up a windmill pump to a cistern (actually two joined holding tanks) that I already have on my property) for animal water and irrigation.  The problem I seem to be running into is that I don't know how to source the parts for the gear box and I don't have access to anyone who can machine them.  There's sellers out there that offer already put together windmill well pump assemblies, but those start in the thousands of dollars, and I would like to make due with things I can source or build myself. Anyone have ideas or know how to point me in the direction of finding parts?  
3 months ago

Mathew Trotter wrote:I have 93 acres that I'm stewarding. Money is the major bottleneck that slows development out here since I have to propagate or trade for the plants I need to expand outward, but the goal is to eventually have the property developed enough to feed everyone in my small town, in as much as that proves feasible.

I've been thinking a lot about managing a project on this scale.

Access is one of the major considerations I've had to make. My current thinking is to combine my need for access with my need for water harvesting. By installing a series of wide, shallow swales up and down the slope and then filling them with woody mulch, I effectively create roads across the landscape which also sequester water and nutrients. They may need to be dug out as the mulch breaks down to keep the swales functioning as swales... Or they may just gradually turn into terraces over time, depending on what seems more practical and effective. For connecting roads, I imagine that heavily mulching the spillways between swales could be effective, and creating the spillways on the ridges (rather than the valleys) would create the most even distribution of water across the landscape. (And the spillways would need to be below the level of the mulch to keep them accessible during heavy rain events.) This plan isn't set in stone, and since the pace of the project is glacial, I'll be able to put in the first swale or two and observe how effective they are as a means of navigating the property. But since I won't be planting out further than my swales, it also means I won't need to access anything that I haven't already created access to.

Another thing I've had to consider is harvest timing. Like others have mentioned, I love using social media as a way to track harvests year after year, but that doesn't account for annual variation.  The first part of the strategy is to have a good map of where things are. That is made easier by creating well-defined guilds and planting blocks of each guild so that you're not running to the four corners of the property to harvest each of your four pear trees (as an example.) Design so that you can focus your attention in one section of the property at a time as much as possible. AND in zones 1 and 2, you'd want representative species/varieties that will provide an indication of when your larger guilds, further out on the property, are getting close to harvest time (there might be some variation on account of differences in microclimate, but that will provide a good indication of when to start checking.) You might have one fig in zone 2, for example, along with whatever other species you grow in that guild, and when that tree ripens up, you know to check the larger fig guild with multiple trees further out on the land. Or better yet, use your zone 2 to discover which species/varieties ripen at the same time and develop your guilds around ripening time. You might have varieties of apples, pears, peaches, etc. that are all harvested about the same time, and so you could plant those in a block so that you can focus on harvesting that section of the property in one go.

The last major piece to figure out is how to harvest enough. My primary goal is not to sell the harvest; my primary goal is to feed as many mouths as possible. That ultimately changes my perspective on things going unharvested. Unharvested produce is not lost revenue; if it doesn't feed human mouths, then it feeds wildlife and/or the soil. It would be unfortunate that it didn't make it into the hands of people that need it, but it wouldn't be a waste. It isn't feasible for one person to harvest 93 acres, so I more like to see my approach as some weird combination of WWOOFing/CSA/farmstand/gleaners/upick/grocery store/etc. Because I am one person, labor is more valuable to me than dollars. Having people trade time, skills, or resources (tools, propagation material, etc.) for food (in my case) provides more lasting value than a fiat currency which is in decline anyway. I can have people build or repair things, plant things, maintain things, etc. Things that I would have to pay someone to do if I couldn't do them myself. Money is a middle man, and eliminating the need for it is more efficient than getting more of it. The next is to consider people that simply can't afford food. Well, the "pay what you can" model has worked in many industries, so why not the farm? So now you create a system whereby the people that have money but not time can contribute financially to the project, the people that have skills or resources can contribute those in place of money or general labor, the people who have time but not money can do harvesting and planting, and people who are disabled or otherwise can't contribute will still have access to food, free of charge. Now you treat the farm like something between a grocery store and a gleaning group. People come out to pick their groceries (literally), and you have them pick two or three times more than they need for themselves (or more, depending on how the specifics shake out.) They take home what they pick for themselves for only the cost of their labor, and the excess that they pick goes to feed the others for their financial contributions, their contribution of skill, or to cover the needs of the disabled. This is how berry farms I grew up picking at already operate; you pick a share for yourself and a share for the farm and then your share is either free or discounted. And because my goal is to put food in mouths, I can have the option to call on local non-profits, church groups, boy scout troops, schools, etc. to come help with the harvest. Some for them, some for the needy, and some to keep the farm operational. And because you're taking for plants and tools as much as possible, and because you're trading for labor, the amount of money that you need to make is greatly reduced. Basically just property taxes and pocket change for whatever conveniences, vices, and major expenses which can't be avoided (but hey, Rob Greenfield traded for dental work, so you might be surprised by what you can get without any money at all...)

I'd love to do something like this but I'm only working with 20 acres and our town is probably bigger lol.  Still, I would love to have a program maybe for getting free food to kids and low income folks.
4 months ago
I've actually thought about doing something with drone cameras and programming a simple algorithm to recognize ripening fruit.  Part of it would rely on already knowing what's in your area and the general time frame it ripens in and the rest would be training the algorithm on pictures of ripe and unripe fruits of the specific type you're looking for and programming it's flight pattern to do sweeps over the property working on a grid.  You won't get everything that way of course, but the point of abundance isn't to hoard it all.  The wildlife and far ranging livestock can have the surplus.
4 months ago
I'm the same way.  Ugh I hate seeing my face on the camera! Really wish I could just post 10 hours of chickens scratching in the dirt and get likes from that lmao.
4 months ago
I agree that controlling ticks across any sized acreage is pretty impractical.  Much easier to just stake out a spot for yourself and leave the rest to them.  One thing to consider is the tick life cycle.  Tick nymphs typically feed on rodents and this is also where they pick up most of their diseases from that they pass on to us.  Everything loves a tasty rodent snack, but getting some barn cats, house cats and terriers is a good way to keep their populations low in your immediate living area.  Disrupt their early life stage food supply and you'll have less to deal with as they start to mature.  Leave the rest to the native predators.
4 months ago
Housemate who is in the process of moving out just finished off a gallon jar of pickles and left us the brine.  I boiled 3 dozen eggs (starting to get a little backed up with the girls all laying but being too busy to cook anything!) and the kids were immediately hopping in to help (so they could sneak off with a couple eggs for themselves, of course, but that's how canning goes).

I think I could maybe fit another dozen in there if I wanted to fill it the whole way and not leave any head space.

A local flavor here at Zip's restaurants is "fry sauce" witch is equal parts ketchup and mayo then dill pickle juice.  I think it's 1 tablespoon of juice to every two cups of blended condiments (so one cup mayo, one cup ketchup, one tbsp dill pickle juice). It's AMAZING on chicken, absolutely crazy good.
4 months ago
Hello Leo!  I've watched a lot of your presentations on youtube and we're planning on building some long hives this summer.  Thanks so much for all your hard work and passion and sharing your knowledge and experiences with all of us newbs!
4 months ago