tim rew

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since Jul 11, 2011
Cortland, NY USDA zone 5
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Recent posts by tim rew

Charts shmarts. That's probably 15 pounds of muscle you'd have to lose, if you are logging. Just play some tag with those kids, if you want an intense burn. I commute 10 miles a day by bike whenever possible, but then I sit at a desk. So I get cardio but no logging muscles. You're probably better off. All just my opinion, of course.
2 years ago
It would depend on location... here in the northeastern USA, it's just a big polyculture lawn, although you could get into the nitty gritty about how you mow it I suppose. It may take a while to mow an entire soccer field with my two foot wide rotary mower, even if that's the greenest option for my tiny lawn.
In Egypt, well, I have no idea. I assume it isn't sand, since nobody really wants sand kicked in their eyes (except volleyball players I guess), and AstroTurf has a lot of embodied energy, but it might still beat natural turf unless you have an awful lot of greywater not already being reused somewhere better.
Or maybe it really is sand, with sport goggles for all the players??
Hopefully someone with experience in arid climates will chime in. I think it's a great question.
4 years ago
Google+ Hangouts is probably the closest thing to a drop in replacement for skype. It is free to call any phone # in the US or Canada, so that's a nice feature. On computers you run it via browser, which means linux, mac, and windows are covered, and they have apps for android (obviously) and also iphone. I don't think you would be able to call a skype user directly, so you may have to convince others to leave the evil empire as well. All depends on how you feel about Google I guess.
4 years ago
No matter how many times I hear it my eyes are never dry by the end... here's the songwriter's version:
But I heard it first by Slaid Cleaves so I suppose I still prefer his rendition:

I also love this one, Emmy Lou Harris and Dave Matthews singing My Antonia:
Doesn't make me cry but it's just beautifully done.
5 years ago
I use the microwave, but if I didn't want to, here's what I'd do. When you get a chance to cook, make gobs of food, freeze it immediately after dinner (to help fend off the evening snack attempts), and get yourself a 1 quart or so slow cooker (still electric heat, but no zapping and little to no plastic touching food, if you get one with a glass lid). Mason jars would certainly work as a freezable container that avoids plastic, if that's what you're after. Mixing it up with salads, sandwiches, and snacks are all good ideas too.
5 years ago

tel jetson wrote:what are the things other than food, clothing, and shelter that you enjoy in your life? how are those things made? could they be produced and distributed in a manner consistent with permaculture's fairly vague ethics? chances are good that many of them could. I would hazard to say that even computers could be, though it would require a revolution in the industry on par with what we much more frequently suggest for agriculture.

I'd love to be more a part of "permaculture computers" but despite a BS in computer engineering and 10 years of programming and plenty of computer repair experience, I feel like the only option at this point is just trying to reuse as much as possible for as long as possible, and ensuring the truly broken stuff goes to a reputable recycler.
The things that computers, and now tablets, phones, and everything else have in them (rare stuff like indium for touch screens) and the really caustic stuff used to manufacture microchips, are just about the opposite of sustainable or permaculture or anything like that. I'd love to be able to go to the local computersmith and get the latest biodegradeable microprocessor lovingly 3D-printed into a carbon-based touchscreen honey-bee-safe cell phone with a bamboo case and a fuel cell that can run on apple juice, which can connect to a minimalist, decentralized peer to peer "internet" that requires very little infrastructure. Hell, I'd love to be that computersmith. But alas, I have no idea how to bring any of it about. Unlike a revolution in agriculture, which we can at least initiate a small piece of all by ourselves, there just doesn't seem to be much of an opportunity to initiate a revolution in computing right now. Maybe someday, hopefully someday soon.
6 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:I agree with Brenda, I think having a permanent water holding terrace or giant swale on the side of a hill is just asking for a landslide. Unless it is a very gentle hill, there's no way to make a proper dam with a "key" on the side of a hill. You can't just pile up dirt on the downhill side and expect it to hold water, and if the dam isn't keyed into the subsoil or bedrock, the dam will leak or slide.

See "Water for Every Farm" by PA Yeomans for lots of information about making dams and other water managing strategies.

Well, I admit I don't know too much about Keyline yet, but I've attached a topo pic of the land, and from what I can tell with my completely untrained eye, there isn't really a spot on the property that would be a good place for a keyline pond. But as I read this by Bill Mollison it occurs to me that what I was thinking of is something called a contour dam.

A couple quotes from Bill:

The contour dam is a shallow dam with a large surface area. It will be a
very, very cheap dam. For the amount of Earth moved, we are going to get a lot
more water.

Contour dams are very cheap, no-fuss dams. They are dams in which the
actual dam follows the contour and then swings back to ground level.
Basically, the construction is the same as for other dams, but usually you
put contour dams on pretty flat land, and you grade them up pretty quickly.
They may be six feet high. It doesn’t matter if you get a bit of grass or rock in
them sometimes. They can be a little rougher. Just roll them down tightly and
they will hold.

He says pretty flat, but I haven't yet found a definition of that. Obviously the slope isn't uniform, maybe I just need to find the flatter spots.
Also is there any particular reason that a very long dam like this couldn't have a core trench the entire length of it, if necessary?

In casual conversation with my Dad he told me that my Grandpa put in the pond that's already there. He used a bulldozer, and it's always held water without being sealed in any formal way. So that's a good sign.

6 years ago
Thanks for the response. I probably won't be reporting soon... I have to ask if I can even rent a bit of the land first (I suppose it's possible they might say no... my Dad was a dairy farmer, so it was corn oats and hay in rotation for him. Catfish and hedgerows were not in the mix).
1. I have to admit I didn't even know there was such a thing as a backhoe attachment, 3 point or otherwise. I'd looked at ditch plows a bit online, but not backhoes. I agree about not wanting to mess around, although I do know that plows loosen and move an awful lot of dirt very quickly, even if it doesn't go very far. I still think it might be worth plowing the spot with a mind to scooping the topsoil for reuse on the top of the berm. I don't think I can afford even a used backhoe at the moment. One of the reasons for the farm equipment idea was that I don't have a lot of money to spend. But I could save.
2. Before I even try this, I have to ask about the existing pond (my Dad would probably know how it was sealed) and other ponds in the area (I'm guessing the golf course lines theirs...).
3. That's probably the most obvious thing I hadn't thought of! Ha... A tiny pond that would be no big matter to just fill back if it was not worthwhile. I'm in no hurry... despite being really into the idea, I inherited my Dad's caution. Hmm... especially about rolling tractors! We used to rent some land that had slopes that frightened me when I would rake hay... luckily my parents' land is pretty gentle that way, outside of one spot where I wouldn't even consider going anyway.

And again, not in a rush to get fish, despite thinking it would be really great, considering I recently stopped eating other meats. Gotta learn about fish more first.
6 years ago
I had this idea or dream about ponds on a hillside (on my parents' old dairy farm... and no, I haven't brought it up yet because I don't have a fully formed idea). Just thinking about the shape of a typical man made pond, it's kind of a circle or rectangle. Putting that on a hillside sounds really expensive and/or unsafe. Could I make something more like a ditch or swale instead, still sealed like a pond, but following the contour of the hillside and much longer than it is wide?
The place has a slope of 1/10 or so, and I know soil around here is a silt loam of glacial origin (I don't really know how hard it is to seal this kind of soil... there is an old pond there, but for all I know it was sealed by the cows). We get about 40" of total precipitation. The elevation of the land is about 1400' to 1600'.
It seems like it might have benefits that outweigh drawbacks, but I figured it's a good question to ask the forum.
First off, am I already making any type 1 errors? Does it make sense to do this at all, given climate, terrain, etc.? Is it dangerous in any way?
If not, here are the benefits I imagine:
  • The dam wouldn't have to be eleventy feet high and contain a massive amount of dirt... (I've seen ponds like this nearby) it would really just be a berm.
  • The pond would have a lot of edge. Say instead of ~100' on a side for about a 1/4 acre pond, it could be only 10' wide, and 1000' feet long. So about 5 times the edge.
  • Which also means there could be a lot more natural food sources for any fish that might be stocked in the pond, if there are lots of bushes and trees on that edge that produce food for the pond food web.
  • I was thinking of growing a hedge on the downhill side of the pond, so this long pond could have a long hedge that benefits from the humidity and water availability of the pond.
  • If the hedge is made stock proof and used as a paddock fence, then the pond could offer a water source for (theoretical) livestock on the pond side of the hedge.
  • The hedge, plus the pond itself, would provide quite a bit of biodiversity that the current hayfields can't.
  • A really long pond on contour would have a lot of watershed, correct? If the bottom of the pond is sealed, but not the uphill side, could it still let ground water feed into it?

  • Please feel free to correct me on any of the above... I am pretty new to the idea of permaculture in general, and I've never done anything like making a pond, and while I grew up on this farm, I got out of it as soon as I got out of school.

    Another thing I was wondering... could a pond/ditch that's only 4 or 5 feet deep be dug with farm equipment, rather than earth movers? I'm thinking like repeated plowing in one direction, and using the front loader on the tractor to push the loosened soil into a berm. This was a farm, and still has equipment. If so, that would obviously be way cheaper than hiring both the heavy equipment and a trained operator. But then, earthworks are forever, so I wouldn't want to do something rash just to save a buck, and cause a disaster.
    6 years ago
    I think my interpretation of what Paul is saying is that you could be sustainable, but not doing anything to undo all the damage that's already been done to the environment in the past (well, 200 years or so, especially). Not really moving forward, and we know that right now a lot of our planet isn't doing too well. So if each person magically became sustainable tomorrow, it still wouldn't be enough. But maybe we can do way better than that... regenerating the land, cleaning up our industrial mistakes, building soil, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, increasing biodiversity, and even improving our own existences dramatically. Maybe we can get back to the 14 hours a week of the Tanzanians mentioned in Jared Diamond's article linked above (dead link, but I found it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2100251/Jared-Diamond-The-Worst-Mistake-in-the-History-of-the-Human-Race). If our land is all self seeding, self composting, self fertilizing food forests or pastures or wetlands or whatever, then all we have to do, besides some minimal management, is harvest. Or maybe we can train our animals to do that for us too.
    6 years ago