Imogen Skye

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since May 24, 2010
Zone 3-4 Top of Lake Superior
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Recent posts by Imogen Skye

Thank you James and Mark! I'll start the log piling and see if I can't also pile logs at the eroded edge. It faces northwest and its a bit cool and very shaded there. I'm not sure about the red birch. I've never seen it grow like this; it grows like the willow in the far north- long whips from a base. I've just moved to a new environment and climate and I have no experience with any of it! I'll ask my neighbour; he took me on an impromptu guided tree-tour. I love including humans in the design as well.... Also I like to invite and encourage the native humans rather than leave a vacuum until the invasive kind shows up unimpeded, hahaha.
8 months ago
I'm not sure if this has been covered...
1) Does it matter which direction the HK beds are in relation to the sun, or can I just use them as berms along the edges of my property in whichever way that happens to be? I have a lot of overhead sun all summer, and only partial shade on one side.
2) I have red birch coming up through everywhere. Can I smother this with the HK beds, or do I have to somehow find the 60' of rhisome roots coming from the bush next to me and pull it out? Or do I live with red birch saplings growing into and through everything?
3) The forest edge of my property has a short 4' eroded "cliff" into the bush. I'd like to stop this erosion and include this border area into my design. Are HK beds a good choice here, or should I use some other system for containing and strengthening these edges? I am free to meander into the forest here, and any improvements will be welcome, if they are noticed at all. So I can terraform a ways past this eroded edge if necessary.
4) I will likely only be able to build HK beds and start the layout of my land this year, and likely not get to much planting (it's late to start this now anyway). Should I just put all the logs in place and wait until next year to cover them?

Thanks all!
8 months ago
It is relieving to me that there are researchers who acknowledge that some women are reflexive ovulators. I have been saying this about myself for almost ten years. I had to quit hormonal/pharmaceutical stuff because it caused me serious illness that is only in the past few years abated. I have since been using sheepskin condoms, and one half-slip produced my fifth child who is now three years old. I have been pregnant 9 times. I am 36 years old, and I really wish there were some other form of guarantee that doesnt require abortion or abstinence. I am pro-choice, but I dont want to abort for birth control, for personal, non-political, non-religious reasons.

I know two men who have had disastrous vasectomy experiences- one ended up with an autoimmune response to his own reabsorbing sperm which causes him constant pain and whole-body inflammation which has been going on for five years and basically wrecked his life. He is on pain-relievers for pain management, though he is still in some pain all the time even with them, and after trying several kinds.

The other was very sexually active and satisfied with his experiences until his vasectomy resulted in him no longer having orgasm at all, nor any build-up feeling, just a flat-line immediately after arousal. He is in his thirties and otherwise very physically fit, and very unhappy with this development- obviously. He doesnt have any children and never wanted any, so this was just so his wife could stop taking pills, and now he doesnt have any interest in sex at all. It is very sad for them. He has had many consultations with specialists and they all tell him that they can try a reversal, but it is unlikely to reverse the problem, though he would likely become fertile, which is the opposite of what he wanted. He does not have erectile dysfunction. Just no orgasm.

I have done sympto-thermal, until I discovered that with low thyroid at the time, my temps were useless as indicators, and this method, from charting mucus and signals, is how I discovered that I am a reflexive ovulator. So, for the past year, my spouse has lived 5000 kms away until October when we join him. So, it has been a year of successful birth control by abstinence. I do not recommend this method (although it seems to work perfectly for remaining non-gravid).
5 years ago
Ben, I used to live in Yukon (until 6 months ago), and the bog water was glacier melt, so I didn't ever filter it with anything. It came from the bog along a narrow stream and we took it just a short walk from the bog from that stream. Here, in town, the water is chlorinated (not with chloramine- nasty nasty stuff!), and for now, we are drinking bottled water. When I get out to my land, there is also a marsh/bog with a stream, and for drinking, I will have it tested, and if necessary, I'll be using a Berkey filtration system. OR, harvest rainwater for drinking and use the stream/bog water for washing. I'm not exactly sure what the best method will be out there just yet. There is a possibility of contamination, so I'll probably filter it. In Yukon, this was completely unnecessary.

I miss the living water. A lot. The difference between living water and treated water is life; that seems pretty significant to me...
5 years ago
I didn't used to use shampoo at all, and I still don't put soap on my body except my hands for washing dishes. But I am temporarily using town water, which is chlorinated, and after many years of using living water from a bog, my hair and skin have now gone completely off the hook in shock. Now, very sadly, I have to use shampoo (a natural type made of pine and other essential oils) once per week or my hair just will not get clean, and worse than not clean- it gets really oily and flat and just not nice in any way, and my scalp freaks out too- scaly, and scabby even- gross. Then, after washing in the town water, it takes days to feel like normal hair again. It is very annoying. I cannot wait to get back onto my land so I can use living water on and in my body again. There's not just chlorine in the town water either, I realise- all those pharmaceuticals... they can't be helping...

For me, it's not the shampoo that's the issue. It's the nasty treated, polluted water.
5 years ago
These are a summation of some of the 'rules' we talk about in our home (we have five children ages any-minute-now newborn to just-turned seven).

1) Only eat food. Many non-foods are cleverly disguised as food, but don't be fooled; they are not food. Don't eat them.

2) Only eat what you can/would prepare in your own kitchen. I couldn't/wouldn't make sodium benzoate, fd&c yellow #5, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or maltodextrin (amongst myriad, seemingly nearly infinite 'additives') in my kitchen, so I don't eat them. This correlates closely with number one, but warrants special mention because of the unbiquitousness of these additives that are not a part of the title of dishes commonly served like 'chicken soup', which is a food, but only if it's really chicken soup and not processed with fifteen additives including hyper-refined salts, sugars and grains- also cannot/would not make in my kitchen.

3) Eat from local, synthetics/toxin-free sources as much as possible. Though being proponents of traditional foods cooking/eating and being first generation citizens of our country, we find this very challenging. We are not living in the climate that produces the foods that our bodies feel best consuming. So we do buy and eat things like organic olives, unrefined organic coconut oil, and a few other items that cannot be grown here. We hope to move back to the much warmer climate our parents (and theirs and on and on) came from in the next five yrs though. Can't wait!!!

4) (This is my seven yr old's solution to figurng out if something is truly food, so I'll include it because while it's not fool-proof, it's a pretty good guiding idea) Don't buy anything with a list of 'ingredients.' Preferably grow, but otherwise buy your own ingredients and make food!

And of course this all rests on the rule that probably should be first:

5) Learn how to prepare and use all of the edible parts of any source of food; it should be tasty, nutritious and respectful of the source and the diner. This is the best preparation of a food and a dish that takes a week (or more) in prep. before it is eaten is worth the wait!

Right now we are having a hard time getting our boys to eat at the table for any meals because they are foraging all day outside! So, many of the food rules we are talking about now are about how to decipher edibles from inedibles that grow wild on the property and also when each vegetable is ready for harvest (and please don't pick off teh flowers or pull the plants while they are still babies!).  I do love the green, yellow, and dirt-coloured stains that they have on their faces all day from eating so much stuff out there though. They feel so empowered to feed themselves; it's wonderful!
8 years ago
I am another cast iron enthusiast, but sadly I only have one 12" skillet. It was very silver and bumpy when we bought it, but I seasoned it with bacon grease in the oven and have just been using it usually twice a day to cook for six people, so it gets a lot of use. It is shiny and the only time it sticks is when I've been frying bison burgers without scraping between batches (oops...). Of course, having worked in a fastfood restaurant for my first job, I know the hot water and flat-edged flipper trick that scrapes it to a glass-finish in three seconds so I can continue frying on a shiny surface.

As for drying, I am confused about turning on a burner to heat-dry it. I just shut off the burner when the food is done and leave the pan to cool with the burner. Most of the time, there's nothing in it anyway, but when I've used a towel to wipe it out or water to scrape it while it's hot, it just dries as it cools. I guess drying it on a burner would be for people who remove their pan to wash it in a sink? Our pan has its own designated burner, lol, and rarely leaves it except to clean the stove. We put a li on it to keep out dust, but it's stored there.

My parents have one that is now in it's fourth decade and it is suuuuper shiny. It has never been soaped and they, like me, use a metal spatula, though they don't use it nearly as often as I do, but theirs is much older than mine which is only about five years old now.

I only fry with animal fats now, but when we first had our pan, I thought that after seasoning it would be fine to use walnut oil and grapeseed too, but I found it made the surface sticky. So I stopped using seed oils and have stuck with animal fats for skillet use and have had nothing but increasingly shiny, smooth results from that.

Does anyone here use cast iron cookie sheets? Any recommendations for where to find them?
8 years ago
Velacreations,

It does make sense to conserve water as a highest priority- even over an aversion to plastic... 

You're right too about plastic absorption from drinking water. We haul from a creek and our water will sit in our xyzchemical-free potable water plastic tank for a week before being empty and needing a refill. I imagine we're drinking some nasty plastic from that, but right now we're just not set up to do any better. I'd love to source some cedar tanks from nearby and use those insead, but we'll need some time to do that. I figure it's still waaaaay cleaner than city water. It must be because when we go to town, all of the city water smells to me like a sewer and tastes worse- not even very fragrant peppermint tea disguises it enough to stop my gag reflex.

Nine months without water is very long. We do have it for those nine months, but it's frozen and there's so little that when it thaws, it doesn't give us much to work with at all. Summer fires are blazing as usual and we even had to call in extra support from out-of-territory for back-up and forest-watering this year.

Anyway, I can appreciate the reality of little water.

Joel,

The clay and sand are layered and easily found in large deposits all over. Do you think that I could just dig up the topsoil and lay in a thick layer of tamped clay without sand? I'm not coming up with any reason not to do that, but I have no experience either. Would a simple rich clay lining be sufficient? It seems that it would be.

I have to learn more about lime; it keeps coming up, lol.
8 years ago
We have about 250mm of annual precipitation and we're subarctic, so water and heat are very important to us here.

This system offers a solution to both water shortage and lack of warmth potentially (with some addiional adaptations), but I wouldn't be happy with using plastic sheets in my garden. I want to eat the food that comes from it and plastic concerns me for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it isn't supposed to go into my body. I think the system could be modified quite easily here though, to eliminate the need for a synthetic barrier.

We have lots of rich clay and sand and I think the wicking beds could be operational with a pond bottm-type set up- the kind that pigs can trample into place with the daily addition of clay and sand to the 'floor.'

What do you think? Obviously it wouldn't be completely impermeable, but it would be nearly, and watertight enough for the water to be wicked up before it seeps out.

It wouldn't be an afternoon project either, but I wuld be happier not cutting off the soil from the earth and also eating foods that didn't bed on plastic- even if it would take more work and time to accomplish.

Thanks for posting; I have more options for solutions to consider for next season! 
8 years ago
Lol, I love your toilet and shower set-up! We have a sawdust commode and a little galvanised tub, water in blue cannisters with spigots and lots of washcloths. The galvanised tub works double-duty as a step up to our trampoline too.

Okay, so not really a lack of communication... And wow- only an hour?

I've had friends say 'oh, that'll be fine' when we tell them that we don't have plumbing and it takes explaining what that means to them for them to really get it. So you mean there's no flush toilet? No shower? No running water in sinks and the drain water has to be carried outside in buckets??? Yup, that's what it means. Just saying "no plumbing" doesn't seem to compute.

Anyway, you did explain; I was just wondering if it was a lack of visceral details that might explain the difficulties, but that photo should have been quite adequate, I think. 
8 years ago