What Should I Do?

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What Should I Do?

Photo: Phil Williams

How to Plant Bare Root Fruit Trees

Getting ready for bare root tree planting season
Friday, January 10, 2014, 1:21 PM

What is a bare root tree?

A bare root tree is just like it sounds. It comes with the tree, roots, and no soil. This is extremely beneficial to online shippers, as it makes the trees extremely light to ship. I received three trees from Adams County Nursery that weighed less than ten pounds all together. I would not buy bare root trees from a big box store, as it is hard to know how they have been cared for. It is best to buy direct from the grower if possible. I have had good luck with the trees from Adams County Nursery. » Read more

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Preparing for Cold Weather

Layers, Patterns, and Every Day Carry
Monday, January 6, 2014, 7:24 PM

The notion of preparing for cold weather has radically different meanings between geographic locations. A person living in Louisiana will have different needs than someone in Wyoming, and as such, it’s important to discuss what environments create “cold,” the types of cold, and how they create thermal injuries.  There are differing schools of thought, but the following is a good cross-section that should help you get a hook set in Old Man Winter and keep his icy fingers off you as much as possible. » Read more

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The Crash Course Book Cover

Using the Crash Course to Educate Teens

A teacher's tool for navigating future career paths
Friday, December 13, 2013, 4:24 PM

Can you imagine how it must feel to be a teenager today confronting your economic future? Do you go to college and incur a debt you will spend the rest of your life repaying? Or do you consider jumping right into the job market, and finding a job, any job, to begin to build a resume? I am an independent studies teacher at a small charter school, and students are my special interest. The Crash Course materials have played a valuable role in answering some of those questions that teens confront. » Read more

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Ashes - © Fixer00 | Dreamstime.com

Uses for Wood Ash

15 ways to use wood ashes around the homestead
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 2:58 PM

With the colder winter months in front of us, fireplaces and woodstoves will start to get more use.  With woodburning, ash is always an end product that needs to be disposed of.  With a little pre-planning and the tips from this article, you can turn a waste product into a valuable resource around the homestead and in the garden. 

Before we begin our discussion of the uses of ash, a special note of caution needs to be mentioned.  Take wood ash away from the woodstove or fire­place in a metal bucket. Never store it in plastic, at least not until the ash is absolutely cool. This way, you avoid burning down buildings (a potentially devastating risk) or damaging surfaces in your house. » Read more

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Hugelkultur Mound

Building with Hugelkultur

Steps for creating a low-water, mounded organic garden
Sunday, October 20, 2013, 4:44 PM

Hugelkultur (“HOO-gull” (mound) culture) is a permaculture gardening method that utilizes buried logs to create an effective gardening and growing system with local resources and materials.  A few of the key features of hugelkultur include:

  • Decomposing logs absorb and hold water like sponges
  • Yard waste and sod provide nutrients
  • Polyculture planting attracts good insects, birds, and bees, reducing pests naturally
  • Micro‐ecosystem of mound conserves and promotes healthy, biologically active soil for decades
  • No crop rotation, no tilling, organic gardening
What Should I Do?

Surviving the Colorado Floods

A member's account of the disaster and lessons learned
Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 2:40 PM

For the past year, I’ve lived in a valley at 6,500 feet, in a small community of homes tucked in the mountains of northern Colorado, surrounded by national forest. It’s just a fifteen-minute drive down the mountain to Lyons, a surprisingly vibrant town of twenty-five hundred or so that’s now drowning in water and sewage and pieces of people’s homes, and has been since the early hours of Friday, September 13.

I was with some friends at the Distillery in Lyons the night of the floods, but made it back up the mountain before the water tore through town in the middle of the night. It’s now several days later and entire neighborhoods are gone, the water is contaminated with E. coli, the infrastructure is destroyed, the St. Vrain river is now somehow a few hundred yards south of where it was, and most everybody in town is displaced for several months, or permanently. » Read more

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Use of Light: Part II

The gradient and multiple holding positions
Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 6:26 PM

Welcome to Part II of our series on the use of light. In Part I, we discussed the intensity of light, its impact on the human eye, several types of lights, and the characteristics of flashlights. In this session, we will discuss how light acts to inhibit or enhance our senses.

As you may know, even in low light, your eyes will adjust, giving you a rudimentary idea of your surroundings. In a world that is increasingly urban and increasingly well lit, we have a concept that is relatively new to the human experience an environmental light gradient. This gradient is what creates visual disruptions, as we discussed in Part I, by forcing the eye to transfer rhodopsin in the rods of the eyes (which detect the intensity of light in low light conditions) into subordinate molecules, opsin and retinol, in the cones of the eyes, which allows us to perceive color, detail, and depth.

With that in mind, let’s look at some principles in use of light and their effect on humans. » Read more

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Sustainable Baby Care

Options for beginning families and their support communities
Monday, September 9, 2013, 8:04 PM

Where there are humans, there will be babies.  We are evolutionarily driven to reproduce ourselves; it’s human nature.  Although there is good reason to be concerned about worldwide population growth, it’s also a fact that babies will continue to be conceived and born.  Perhaps you are a young parent or parent-to-be.  Perhaps you are not yet a parent but may be someday.  Perhaps you’re an auntie or uncle or neighbor to a baby whose parents would appreciate resilience-minded mentoring.  Read on.

What do babies need?  What do new parents need?  If you get your information from the mainstream media, as many of us in the Western world have, you may discard that information now.  There is a huge industry predicated on the story that babies need all sorts of gadgets, devices, and mass-marketed items to survive and thrive. » Read more

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Sun Oven Solar Cooker

Off-Grid Food Prep

A first try at solar cooking
Saturday, August 31, 2013, 11:55 AM

Today, I want to switch gears from my usual fare and discuss something a little different. Each month, I want to try and accomplish a routine task completely “Off-Grid.” This month, special thanks to a decent little garden, I wanted to do an article on a project that includes as close to exclusively as possible things that I’m growing myself.

Because there are so many more qualified and experienced speakers on this subject, I rarely veer into the realm, although it’s one I enjoy very much: Cooking. » Read more

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Stacked Firewood

Preparing Your Firewood Supply

Choosing, acquiring, preparing, and storing firewood
Thursday, August 22, 2013, 6:15 PM

How to Choose Firewood

In most areas, there are a few preferred species, based on several factors: cost, availability, burn qualities, etc. The species that best meet each of these criteria will vary considerably in different areas of the country.

Generally, the densest (heaviest) dry wood will provide the most heat for any given amount of storage and firebox space. If convenient, the best way to shop for wood would be to figure out the cost per pound. This can be approximated by referring to charts showing the weights of various wood species. Another approach that will yield pretty much the same results is to compare various species' BTU ratings and use it to determine the cost per BTU. Note that this is not necessarily the same as cost per cord. Wet wood will need to be seasoned (cut, split, and stacked) for a year or two before you use it. » Read more