Friday, April 29, 2011

The Future of Food

Milly asked if I wanted to watch a movie last night. I’m all for relaxing and eating popcorn so I excitedly agreed. Little did I know that it was a trick. I wouldn’t consider a documentary a movie and documentaries are not really considered entertainment in my books.

Milly had found a documentary called The future of food and was giggling with excitement as she’s wanted to watch this film for a while. You can watch it on line for free on the link above. It goes through the plight of many farmers who have been basically put out of business by the big seed companies and the governing authorities in both the US and Canada.

image In summary this is what is discussed:

  • Genetically Modified (GMO) food is controlled by major corporation and is in almost all processed food. It does not need to be labeled on packaging in the US or Canada. It does in Europe.
  • There is a huge outcry against GMO food as many people feel it is very dangerous to consume and it also puts big business in control of the food supply
  • The current laws allow patents on GMO food and seeds in general. Most seeds are now being patented which makes the farmer indebted to big seed companies. Farmers need to buy seed and fertilizer from these companies as they are no longer able to save seed from year to year.
  • The people making the laws regarding agriculture are often the same people that work for the big seed companies. Many have gone back and forth between working for the seed companies and working in government where the regulatory laws are established.
  • Diversity of seed is gone. Four types are potatoes are planted now where their used to be hundreds of kinds. Same thing is happening with corn, soy beans, apples, peas etc.
  • Overseas markets are banning GMO foods from their countries or are at least making the foods be listed on packaging.
  • The main reason seed companies claim GMO food is being developed is to cure the world of hunger. This is false and is actually making things worse. Food production is not the problem. Access to food is the problem.
  • Buy local food or start your own garden
  • Save seed

I think the documentary is well done. It’s shocking to hear some of the things presented. I am often cynical in regards to presentations like this but most of what is presented rings true to me.

That dang Milly. I keep saying she’s ruining me. I can’t eat normal processed food now without sniffing for chemicals and trying to pronounce all the ingredients.

So grab yourself some non GMO popcorn with real butter and watch The Future of Food. It’s not a movie but it turned out to be a fairly entertaining documentary.

I’d be interested in any comments or opinions on this documentary. Shoot me a email or leave a comment so I can hear what you think about this topic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One year anniversary of The Simple Farm

I just realized my first post was made April 12th, 2010. The Simple Farm is officially one years old. Hurray, jump for joy, wooo hooo.

I never thought anyone would actually follow this silly blog but the more I talk with friends and acquaintances the more I realize I better be careful what I write.

It just so happens that now everyone  knows how much of a girly man I am. I can pretend to be a manly man but that mostly just makes people snicker especially my best friend growing up that questions the manliness of a “Dude Blogger”.

I am now known as Moses and all my friends and family are getting their Simple Farm name tattooed onto their shoulder or put on their license plate.

I somehow have more blog posts labeled confessions and recipes than any other topic. Whenever I talk to my mom she always reminds me to listen to my wife next time.

I think people are starting to realize how strange we are. It’s hard to act normal when you post things about water witching with a crow bar, healing with a poopy diaper, and trying to use spinach for Easter egg coloring.

I’ve had two stuck in the muck incidents with Barnabas and Molar. I hope to have many more in the coming years.

We finalized the subdivision process on our land, became debt free (at least for the time being), and now have a well on the place and are in the process of looking for animals.

Our plans for the coming year include finding a milk cow, procuring chickens, and maybe a few pigs. Oh, and a dog and probably a cat. And of course moving out full time on our Simple Farm land.

Here’s to many more years on The Simple Farm. Thanks for all the support and encouragement. I love your comments and especially love to see Milly squirm when people discuss the blog and her hesitant attitude towards technology.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

City life versus country life

I was reading a blog I follow called thesimpledollar.com and one of the posts was about Why I prefer living rural. I was intrigued to see all the comments about the pros and cons of city life versus country life. Most of the comments were for country living but quite a few commenters decided the pros of a city center far outweigh the country life.

A few pros for city living include:

  • Experience with museums, cultural events, places of interest
  • Schooling opportunities
  • Convenient access to grocery, shopping and stores
  • Interaction with a vast array of people
  • Higher income potential

 

A few pros for country living include:

  • Less expense cost of housing
  • Relaxed atmosphere
  • Usually natural beauty surrounds the area
  • Social interactions are more genuine and common

One of the most interesting positive for country living is the idea country life is less hurried, less stressful, and less hectic than city life. True there is  less traffic than Los Angeles, a definite plus. But I don’t feel any less busy or hectic than when we lived in the city. In fact I feel like I have a thousand things going on and can barely keep up. What do you country folk think? I know many of you have lived all over the world.

Lucky for use we are only two hours outside of a major city center. Just this past weekend we went to watch Riverdance with our family. Check out the budding riverdancers in the making.

 

 

It may be more difficult to share cultural experience while living in the country but I don’t remember going to any events such as this in LA.

I’ve lived in big, medium, and small cities down to a 300 person village (and soon to be a mile outside the 300 person village.) In the past 14 years Milly and I have moved 17 times. From Canada to Samoa to Utah to Los Angeles to Montana to the middle of nowhere. In all those moves we have often desired to move back home. I wonder why the draw to move to the frozen Canadian tundra was so strong? (OK, it’s only 45 minutes north of the Montana border so it’s not that barren.)

I firmly believe the biggest drawing force is to be around family. It’s taken us a long time but we always have planned to move closer to family. Lucky for us all of our immediate family members live within two hours of us now and the majority within an hours drive. Funny thing is, we now feel like we have several homes calling our hearts to return. I guess that is what vacations are for.

I’m interested to hear what everyone thinks about the main advantages or disadvantages of both living in the city or living in the country? 

And what do you do to overcome the negatives of both lifestyles?

How much can one little rock weigh?

I had the brilliant idea that I was going to move this small little rock on the perimeter of our land closer to where our house will be built. I started digging with a pick and shovel and kept on digging.

Rock 004 

I thought I’d at least be able to shift the stinking rock.

Rock 002

Try with all my might I couldn’t even budge the silly thing.

Rock 003

On to plan B. I’ll look for a tractor or maybe ask my brother in laws to flex their muscles.

Rock 006 

Won’t this be a cool rock to have outside the house to sit on etc.?

So any guesses on how much this weighs? I’m guessing 2 ton.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter eggs with natural colorings

Milly decided to be creative this year and color Easter eggs with all natural ingredients. She found this website for a guide.

Can you guess what item made what coloring?

eggs 022

They turned out pretty good for no artificial egg coloring.

  1. The process included boiling ingredients in 2 cups of water.
  2. Straining the contents into cups.
  3. Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  4. Dip eggs into each concoction

eggs 008

Started with white eggs. I’ve heard brown eggs give a deep rich color.

eggs 014   

Child labor at it’s finest.

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We tried carrots for orange but they didn’t work.

eggs 003

Turmeric for Yellow

eggs 006eggs 004 

Blueberries for purple

eggs 005

Spinach looked nice and was a good idea but it didn’t work and the spinach tasted gross afterwards.

  eggs 009

Turmeric juice after being boiled on the stove.

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Extract juice from onion skins for orange and blueberries for purple/blue.

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Beet juice made the bright pink. If we would have had red cabbage we could have made blue.

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More eggs. These eggs were all experimenting with mixing colors.

Nice non toxic way to color eggs. Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are you going to farm full-time?

One of my very best friend from college (Arnold) sent me a link to an article that made him think of me.

http://www.rickackerman.com/2011/04/is-canadian-farmland-the-best-investment-of-all/#more-34026

*************Side Story*************

I used to be tough. Honestly, I was pretty strong. I could lift a tractor above my head type strong. But that was back in my way younger days. In my aging years I was going to university and got to know Arnold. He mentioned that he lifted weights regularly and I let him know how tough I was. He invited me to tag along one night and I showed up eager to show off my muscles.

We started off light and went a round or so of arm curls. I started at like 30 lbs. hoping to impress my friend and all the bystanders near by. And then Arnold stepped up and started at 60 lbs per arm. We went over to the bench press and he asked if I’d spot him. I seriously thought he was going to die if I had to help him lift the massive mountain of weights off his chest. He pounded through like 10 reps of 300 lbs. without any problem. It was my turn and I delicately unloaded all the weights off the bar as my arms were killing me from the arm curls and he still had to spot me with his pinky on my last few reps.

I was completely drained and depressed after about 45 minutes of being put through the most agonizing workout I had ever done. I decided to head down to the track to run a few laps instead of being embarrassed by Arnold any more. I remember girls walking by and asking for his autograph he was so impressive. I also remember trying to run around the track and not being able to lift my arms at all. I looked like I was paralyzed from the neck down and in all reality I was.

Thus Arnold is an appropriate name for my weight lifting buddy.

********************************************

In talking with Arnold he asked me a question I get asked a lot. Are you going to farm full-time?

My immediate reaction is usually “NO WAY, that’s tough work. I’d rather sit at my desk and blog all day.”

I think a conversation I had with someone the other day sums up the reality best. Seventy percent (70%) of farmers today have regular employment other than on the farm. Isn’t that amazing? Almost three quarters of farmers today have a job to supplement their farming activities.

I often wonder if I can make enough money farming to survive and perhaps prosper. Surely it can be done?

One of my earlier blogs talks about trying to make land pay for itself. I think the key will be to keep things simple and to stay out of debt. As soon as debt hits the picture more money has to be made to make things work out. That usually leads to a never ending cycle of debt, more work, more investment in time and money, and more debt when trying to expand. Heaven forbid the years when weather doesn’t cooperate, the machines break down, mad cow disease hits, or the price of commodities dip to rock bottom.

I think my answer to the above question from now on will be “I going to farm full time whenever I’m not working full time.”

Perhaps one day I will be able to say “Yes, I’m a full time, true blue farmer. It is possible to make enough money from farming activities to survive and prosper.”

Big dreams from someone that needs to be spotted while trying to bench press the bench press bar.

Herbal healing update

I took pictures of my leg every day this week to see if there is any difference from one day to the next. If you remember what my ankle started out like this is a drastic improvement. This is exactly two weeks to the night of when I showed how old I really am. I feel much better and can walk almost without a gimp. It still aches and is hard to turn to the right. I feel a bit like an overloaded semi that doesn’t turn good to the right.

 

So did the herbal potion mumbo jumbo work? I think it helped. It certainly didn’t hurt. Time heals all wounds so that was a factor as well as it has been two weeks.

I sure did like getting all that attention from Milly. She’s a really good medicine woman and I really liked the ankle rubs with ointments including castor oil, cayenne pepper, olive oil, etc.

Milly pointed out that when dealing with herbal remedies it is silly to expect miracles overnight. The herbs are plants not potent antibiotics or HCG. But with constant care the healing will happen and often with less side effects on the rest of the body.

I feel like going out and busting my other ankle so I can try out more healing ointments. Anyone want to play basketball?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Which would you rather have: a pot of gold or water?

We have had an amazing experience over the past couple of days. We didn’t win the lottery or stumble upon a pot of gold but it does kind of feel like we hit the jackpot. We finally got our ducks in a row and finished drilling our well.

It’s quite a site to see the drilling rig set up and chomping away at the ground and knowing if you get just a bit of water life on the farm will be so much simplified. No cistern, hauling water for personal and farm use etc.

The day started out with the drilling truck sliding down the hill and instead of fighting the odds they let the truck loose and made a run for it. The truck came up the other side of the coulee without too much trouble so that was a good decision. As you can see in the pictures below we had a spring snow storm come in the day before which made the site muddy and mucky.

Here is the rig and water truck.

well 013

Up close view of the equipment.

well 018

We had him dig at the top of the ridge so they jacked up the front of the rig to get even.

well 043

Screen put in at the bottom of the casing. This screen is 10 feet long and welded onto a smaller casing that goes down the outside casing.

well2 013

This flange at the top stops water from coming up the well casing and ensures the water needs to travel through the screen.

well2 010

You can see how long the insert is.

well2 009

I have lots of video footage but this one has the water coming out so is probably the most exciting. Although you have to sit through my kids screaming and yelling in the truck.

 

This video describes the days activities pretty well.

 

The drillers finished up today. He drilled down 100 feet, 30 of which was in gravel and sand. They tested the well rate and found it to be over 60 gallons per minute which is spectacular. A house setup can function anywhere above 5 gallons per minute without a cistern. We are very happy with the results.

We just so happen to dig on top of the spot that the professional well witcher (and the unprofessional witcher, myself) decided was the best spot on the whole property. The only thing that could have been better is hitting oil or that illusive pot of gold.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Herbal healing with a poopy diaper

After suffering through a week of pain and agony I am willing to try anything. Here is what my ankles look like now.

foot 003

Milly concocted a healing mash and applied it to my ankle. At first we put some of it in a cloth and secured the mash with a plastic bag. That seemed to waste most of the goopy stuff so we altered our approach and applied it right to the skin.

foot 006

Our one year old was quite concerned to see Milly applying a poopy diaper to my ankle. It looked and I suppose felt like excretion but it smelled heavenly.

foot 015

The mash contained Marshmallow root, Comfrey, and Elder Flower.

  foot 017

I don’t think I’d eat this brew.

foot 018

I supposed our one year old had reason to be disconcerted with us applying such a mess to my ankle on purpose.

foot 010

Maddox came by and checked our crazy business out. I’m not sure he’s convinced with our methods.

 foot 008

I’ll report what comes from this experiment. I’ll stop posting all the disgusting pictures but thought you might be entertained by my willingness to be plastered with manure.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Milly the Medicine Woman

It’s been a week and I’m still gimpy. Milly has been very tender to my poor ankle and has frequently rubbed some type of ointment around the effected area. It didn’t help that I had a very busy week where I attended a Microsoft customer conference (Convergence) and was on my feet all day and out dancing up a storm till the wee hours of the night. Just imagine Kevin Bacon meets Winnie the Pooh and you have a pretty good idea of what I look like on the dance floor. For those interested, here is my company blog that has all the dreadful details.

Here are the various herbs and snake oils Milly is using to work her magic healing powers.

 medicine women 017

Marshmallow

medicine women 025 

Chamomile

medicine women 020

Various herbs Milly acquired from another local medicine woman.

medicine women 026


Greybeard came by as Milly was concocting her potion and asked if she needed her broom. He ran for cover as Milly glared his way.

I’ll update everyone how this works out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This is why you should always listen to your wife

Milly told me I shouldn't play basketball the night before a week long business trip. I haven't played in a about a month but had the opportunity to do so again with some old friends and jumped at the chance. It just so happened that the first game we played I went up for a layup and got hammered by some talk freaky guy. Came down wrong on my ankle and I was done for the night.

I crawled off the court and kind of made it to Fred and Wilma's place where I was staying the night. I kind of remember dragging my self in side but its all a blur at this point as I was in a lot of pain. Good thing Fred and Wilma are used to injuries. They had walking boots, crutches, braces, an inordinate amount of pain killer and cookies to make me feel better.

Milly called and I didn't dare tell her she was right. Everything IS fine. And by the time I get home from my trip I'm sure my ankle will be healed. I almost made it through my whole nightly phone call without spilling the "you were right" phrase. But I'm a baby and like sympathy so ended up spilling the beans. I thought I deserved at least an "I'm sorry to hear you are in excruiating pain" but.......all I got was "uh huh, you should have listened to your wife."

Here's a few pics of what it looks like now.




So this wouldn't be so bad if I could work from home with my leg up (like normal) but since I had to go away on business for a week it makes the whole trip very inconvienent. I had to take crutches with me for the trip and the swelling got pretty bad from sitting in a plane for 10 hours. And to top it off, the conference center is like 2 miles long and about a 10 min walk (under normal conditions) from my hotel.
At least I got to go in the handicap line and board early on all my flights.

Boo hoo. Someone feel sorry for me please. ha.

I'm sure you'll hear more reasons from me why you should always listen to your wife. Heaven knows this isn't the first time I should have taken her advice.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More well troubles, chickens, and stuck in the muck

We were scheduled to have our well dug tomorrow but the digger called up tonight and said his main helper quit on him this afternoon. I think the helper decided he wanted to be on American Idol and he needed to be in LA for tryouts. Look for a well driller on the next round of talent. ha.

So if anyone knows of someone looking for work and has a H2s and First Aid cert and a class 3 license I would appreciate you having them contact my driller so I can get my well dug soon.

Got my first lead on chickens. An old friend called up looking for guidance on finding farm supplies. I wasn’t sure why he thought I’d know how to help him. He’s a true blue regular farmer and I’m a wannabe/hope to be farmer. I wondered if maybe he had heard of my famous blog?  Nope, it wasn’t that. 

Ended up he was only looking for a phone number from the place we just moved from so it ended up I could help him with that.  But he did say he was ordering chickens from a place up north and said I could add my order to his. I think in a month we could be in the chicken business.

Got stuck in the muck again this weekend with my cousin Molar (new addition to Who’s Who page). He brought down this fancy new truck and was itching to try it out. He came over with his three boys and I took him for a little ride out to Barnabas alley(maybe it should be called the Barney hole). Yup, I’ve named my mud bog after Barney. I almost tempted Molar to try the dreaded hole Barney and Betty  got stuck in but ended up going around the easy way like wimpy folk.

But we didn’t get far until we went a foot deep into quick sand by the river. We had left our families back at the fire to have a hot dog roast and it was just Molar and me. And once again I started thinking about walking back for that dang tractor. After a while we rocked back and forth, cussed, prayed a bit and with my brute strength I pushed him out. Ha. Not really. We just stuck a bunch of wood underneath the tires and finally got out of the quick sand.

You would think I’d learn not to take people over that way. Oh well, what else do I have to do? My well won’t be dug till the 18th.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I hear there’s gold around them parts

I’ve started looking for gold on our land. Surely there’s something buried on the place that will make this whole thing worth it.

It’s really been a stark reality check week and I’m starting to waver. After calculating how much money we have compared to how much will be needed to get out on the land the math doesn’t seem to work. I’m sure it must be wrong. It can’t be this expensive to build a small structure for living purposes.

Just to dig a well and get it operational will cost around $10,000. To build a road 900 feet or so it’s going to cost around $7,000. Some people think that’s a good deal. I’ve considered building our road with my own scoop shovel and truck but Milly thinks it will take 20 years to finish. Greybeard says if I put all my effort into it the road could be done in about 15 years. I’m guessing he doesn’t want us to live with them that long as he’s encouraging us to take the more expensive, quicker route.

So what am I wavering on? We committed to staying out of debt. When we sold our last house we said that was it. It was the last time we would owe money to anyone. But….it sure is tempting to borrow just a bit to build something bigger than what we are planning. We’ve been in some kind of debt most of our married life. What’s a $100,000 mortgage when all is said and done? Ack. I can’t believe I’m tempted so strongly with this decision. Surely it will be worth it to scrimp and sacrifice now while we try to make this work, won’t it?

I feel exactly like the saying “Sometimes you have to crawl even after you walk”. Maybe that’s a country song…. In fact I think it comes from Life’s a Dance from John M. Montgomery…. I digress. Back to the saying. We’ve crawled before when we were students, just starting out, etc. We started walking when we bought our last 4 houses (2 primary residences and 2 rental places). We’ve lived nicely and now we are back to crawling and starting over.

*************Side story**************************

Student type living standards aren’t all that bad. We have fond memories of sleeping on the floor when we didn’t own a bed. Graduating up to an air mattress for a year. Then having a really nice couple give us a bed that was only 30 years old, pee stained and indented enough that if we wanted to say hello to each other we had to crawl out and peek our head over the side.

We got to live in apartments that grew mushrooms on the carpet on the other side of the shower wall.

One place we lived in was constantly over run with ants and cockroaches, granted that was in Western Samoa.

When we lived in L.A. we heard gun shots outside our apartment and the police helicopter would occasionally shine it’s lights in our windows at night. There was one time our whole block was blockaded from a drug bust or something. We just wanted to get home and tried to sneak past a police car. The cop yelled at us but then told us to get inside quick and don’t come out for a couple of hours.

*********************

Having to do what we are trying to do with only the money we have or will earn in the next little while is certainly challenging. So we are back to thinking a really small, small type structure. We started creeping up into the 1200 Sq. Ft. range. Can’t go that big. Not this time around.

I’ve haven’t found that gold deposit yet on the place but I have found some sand. I guess it will have to do for the time being. Maybe it will help with that road I need to build.