Archive for the ‘Urban Wilderness’ Category

Just some of the oaks on Mastodon Hill

Just some of the oaks on Mastodon Hill

There is a small book named TAZ (find the whole book here), an acronym that stands for Temporary Autonomous Zone, written by Hakim Bey.  The TAZ is an ever changing place for wild spirits to congregate.  It shows up over cups of coffee and hash, in dark pubs, and on hikes high up on hills where ospreys call home. The TAZ shows up online as much as it does in the real world.  It is the gift economy and the black market, it is available to makers groups, urban farmers, and foragers.  The TAZ is a freedom beyond all laws and security cameras, because those who find it and participate have found the cracks and crevices where chaos and nature still thrive.


Mastodon Hill in summer

Mastodon Hill in summer

The TAZ, like the Tao, is all around us, just waiting to be used.  It awaits our footsteps and welcomes our presence with open arms.  The TAZ, while not always found in nature, thrives in the wild spots and forgotten parcels on the maps that humans have felt the need to make.  The TAZ finds shelter amongst the roots of ancient oak trees and gravel roads that are overgrown with weeds, and when found by those who are ready to see them, provide a place of rest and merriment outside of the default world.


A true Pirate and comrade, a warrior of Mastodon Hill

A true Pirate and comrade, a warrior of Mastodon Hill

Mastodon Hill is one of these places.  A physical TAZ that is a 60 acre parcel of land that has some how been forgotten about by the land developers and capitalists.  Surrounded by a sprawling industrial park and freeways,  Mastodon Hill perches above the surrounding landscape, a beacon of green anarchy that calls itself home to osprey, deer, coyotes, black walnuts and oak trees that are holdouts from a time when there were far more savannas, prairies, and mature woodlands.


Mastodon Hill is my name for this place. It is a place that is special because some how it has been overlooked by progress.  It has evaded the bulldozer and earth movers.  For a place that is so close to human settlement, there is very little trash, and even though it is a literal island in a sea of asphalt, warehouses and a monoculture of suburban housing, it appears to have very few human visitors.  Perhaps the bitter irony is also the saving grace of Mastodon Hill, that no one knows about it or goes there because so few people today have that kind of relationship with nature.


I hope you as a reader have your own Mastodon Hill to retreat too when you need inspiration or a break from the stress of modern living.  I hope you have a TAZ that you can share with a lover or good friend, a place to experience life that is not mediated by “THEM”, a place or time to fall in love with, and most importantly, a TAZ that is worth protecting.  Peace and Cheers.

Where is that road going?

Where is that road going?


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Some truly wild seeds - Honey locust pods, wild onions, autumn olive, cornellian cherries, purple asters, siberian pea shrub, and a wild black berry that was collected in Italy over the summer.

Some truly wild seeds – Honey locust pods, wild onions, autumn olive, cornellian cherries, purple asters, siberian pea shrub, and a wild black berry that was collected in Italy over the summer.

For a decade now, I have been a seed saver.  I have saved tomato seeds and squash seeds.  I have selected and saved my favorite beans to plant again, and I have tended garlic cloves and potato tubers from year to year.  I have collected perennial herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and have planted trees that will produce into my twilight years.


These seeds and genetics represent a true investment and a savings account for the future.  David Holmgren, one of the founders of Permaculture and author of Permaculture: Principles and Pathways devotes quite a bit of time on the subject of saving seeds.  He argues that anyone preparing for a future that will have fewer fossil fuels available to use should include seed saving into their toolbox of skills and cultural knowledge.


Purple potatoes...

Purple potatoes…

When we save seeds, not only are we preserving genetic material, but also the accumulated solar energy of one summer’s growth to be used again in a future garden.  This tradition is as old as agriculture itself.  When we stopped roaming the wilds in search of food, and instead settled down to cultivate the Earth, seed saving assured a future harvest.


For right or wrong, feeding our world’s population now largely depends on industrialized, annual based agriculture.  It is very efficient at turning oil and natural gas into edible calories, but it comes with a steep price.  Habitat destruction, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity (both wild and domesticated), the dismantling of small scale farming traditions, and our seed sovereignty are all threatened by industrialized agriculture.


But as those of us who have seen the writing on the wall (when it pertains to the negative consequences of big ag) , and have begun the transition to a Permaculture based lifestyle because of these warning signs, we can begin to put a halt to all of this destruction.  One farmer or person alone is not enough to change the course of current events, but just like the seeds of a dandelion, the more of us there are, the better chances we have of thriving and finding a place to put down roots.


The world, or more specifically humanity, is at a cross roads.  We are at a place where we can decide as to whether we follow the path that industrial agriculture is leading us down, or the path that allows the wild seeds to flourish and heal the landscape.


Garlic for planting

Garlic for planting

Our gardens, as an extension of ourselves, our bodies, and communities, have a place in nature.  While humans may display traits similar to an “invasive specie” a lot of the time,  we can also play an important role in helping to heal some of the wounds we have created.  As more of us see the evidence that our current path leads to destruction, it is only through conscience choices and a concerted effort that we can find a better and more resilient path to walk on.


That path, the one that leads to a future where we care for the Earth and all its inhabitants is possible.  Its already there, waiting for us to first find it, and then be brave enough to follow it.  It is there behind the monocrops of corn and soy and wheat and rice.  It is there when the blood from CAFOs is washed away.  It is there when we can move past the “40 hour” work week and find truly meaningful work for ourselves to participate in.


That path starts in our hearts, our  homes and our gardens.  It is weedy, and gnarled, and imperfect.  It nourishes our bodies and inspires our dreams.  It starts as a young sapling and ends up an old, twisted oak with deep roots.  It is found in a tomato vine and a bean patch, a chicken coop and a beehive.

That path starts with our seeds.  Those that contain the genetics of the food we eat, and those that start as dreams and finish as stories that we tell the next generation.  Our seeds need to be protected and propagated, they are the future.  Save them and plant them and tend them so that others can do the same in turn.  Peace and Cheers.

A path into the future...

A path into the future…

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A boy and his dog, and a tree…

I give thanks for my wife and my kids,

and the land, and the house that we call home.

The bees that pollinate the flowers, the trees that grow,

the weeds that heal, the seeds that spread.


I give thanks for the talents and skills

that I have cultivated and grown.

Critical thinking, grafting, and gardening of the self

DIY Loving, mending, and building of life.


This Good Earth is my home,

It is where I come from and where I end.


It is star dust and water,

saw dust and food.

Compost and manure,

Veggie and fruit.

Mushroom and meat.

Worm and bug,

Chicken and duck.

Apple and orange,

Leaf and root.


It is freedom. It is health.

It is endangered. It is sacred.

It is our home, and we only have one…

We may be at a place in history, that someday is remembered as a turning point.  A time when we realized how far our nation had fallen into fascism.   A nation ruled by racist, sexist, and homophobic bigots and killers…

Let us move on, and shed the extra weight of intolerance and bigotry.  No, we don’t have to all be alike, but we need to learn how to live together and celebrate our common ground…

Let us listen to the land.  We are as much a part of nature as polar bears or dandelions.  Let us once again find our place in this grand experiment.  Let us leave a bigger handprint, than a footprint and take a proud seat in the counsel of nature…

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Beautiful Velvet Feet growing out of log, look at the snow still on the ground!  Mushrooms in March!

Beautiful Velvet Feet growing out of log, look at the snow still on the ground! Mushrooms in March!

A lot of things happened around here this summer.  Some awesome, some not so much.  Somethings came from habit, and some from adventure.  Happiness, sadness, anger, laughter and a universe of other feelings ebbed and flowed in and out of existence as we lived our lives.  It rained and then poured, and then dried up.  Its raining right now as I write, and the world readies itself for sleep as winter looms close on the horizon.


Morels, growing out of the forest floor

Morels, growing out of the forest floor

But thinking back to this spring, a wet one that made the history books, the first thing that really comes to mind are the first morel mushrooms of the season.  I have written before about my forays out into the woods in the early spring, usually around mother’s day, looking for the treasured mushroom.  And this year once again, I was lucky to find some.  I have hunted the woods every spring now for more than 10 years, and I have never been disappointed.  I don’t usually ever find too many, but sometimes I get lucky, or at least know somebody who does so I get a few good meals with the morels.


The beehive mushrooms...

The beehive mushrooms…

The morel mushroom may be one of the most treasured and sought after culinary mushrooms around, but there are thousands of other varieties of fungi just waiting to tell you their story.  And that was one of my goals and accomplishments for this summer, to learn the stories and tales of as many mushrooms as I could. So when I came across these ones growing out of the straw under my backyard beehives early in the summer, I knew the hunt was on.




There were two mushrooms specifically that I wanted to find and learn about.  For many years now, I have heard about and researched both Chicken of the Woods and Chanterelles but have never found them.  I knew for a fact that the Chickens, also known as Sulphur Shelf mushrooms, were a common late summer mushroom that was very easy to ID.  I also knew that chanterelles grow throughout Minnesota, but had never met anybody who had actually found them.   My mission was set before me, all I had to do was start.


Beginning at the end of July, the kids and I went on hikes about every other day.  After a month of no rain, we finally had gotten a few small storms that moistened the landscape and all sorts of fungus began popping up in our yard and throughout the neighborhood.  We didn’t always go out with the intention of hunting down mushrooms, but we always kept our eyes open, and more times than not some type of fungus would cross our path.




One park in particular proved to harbor high levels of mycological life, and it was here that we concentrated our efforts in finding the Chicken of the Woods and the elusive Chanterelles.  The key feature to this land that I think helps support such an abundant and diverse web of fungal life can be attributed to all of the oak trees that can be found throughout the park and hiking trail system.  And not just the living oaks, but ones in all stages of rot and decay.




It didn’t take long to find either mushroom.  The Chicken came first in this story.  Growing off of an old oak log, was a gorgeous Chicken of the Woods, specifically, Laetiporus cincinnatus.  Chicken of the Woods or Sulphur Shelf mushroom comprise a few different varieties of Laetiporus, the most popular being cincinnatus and sulphureus, which are virtually identical to the untrained eye, though connoisseurs say that cinncinnatus is superior for eating.  I have since found both of them, and both are delectable, and truly taste like chicken when sauteed in butter.  They are what many field guides consider choice eating, and are quite possibly the best mushrooms I have ever eaten!


Golden Chanterelles

Golden Chanterelles


Not long after finding the Chickens, we found our first Chanterelles on a forested valley ridge.  Chanterelles being a mycorrhizal fungus (a fungus that has evolved a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees) were also found near living oak trees.  The Chanterelle is a very elegant looking mushroom, with a very distinct apricot aroma.  Lacking true gills, a Chanterelle can be identified by it’s ridges which display a forking pattern, rather than the parallel nature of mushrooms with true gills.  The Golden Chanterelle, which is probably the most common species in the genus Cantharellus, does have a deadly look alike commonly known as a Jack ‘O Lanterns (Omphalotus olearius).  But once you become acquainted with the defining features and growth habit, they are easily told apart.  In fact, I have never even seen Jacks, but I have heard that you should hunt them at night, because they glow in the dark!


hen of the woodsA dark horse candidate who takes 3rd place this year in the fungi challenge is what is known as Hen of the Woods.  Another mushroom named after poultry, Grifola frondosa, is another mushroom that shows up in late summer in hardwood forests, often found at the base of oak trees.  This is another mushroom that I had only ever heard about and never seen, but was pretty sure that I would know it when it found me.


Happy Fungal Hunters!

Happy Fungal Hunters!

On a beautiful September day hiking with a group of happy fungus hunters, we found two massive specimens of Hen of the Woods!  It is a gorgeous and crazy bracted mushroom that also goes by the name Cauliflower mushroom.  They are great eating, and when you find Grifola frondosa, you will have a lot of mushroom to cook with, so get ready to be creative.  Soups, omelets, casseroles, and pizzas are all good candidates for this fungus!


This is a Bear's Head Lion's Mane mushroom, Hericium americanum

This is a Bear’s Head Lion’s Mane mushroom, Hericium americanum

The same mushroom foray that yielded us the Hen of the Woods, was also one of the most epic mushroom hunts I have ever led or been a part of.  Located in an enchanted forest that is perched on sandstone cliffs, and is filled with mossy ravines and boulders that glaciers deposited roughly 10,000  or so years ago, this magical piece of land was teeming with mycological wonders.




We found, fell in love, and grew ever closer to mushrooms that day.  Along with the Hen, we also found a mediocre Chicken, a very nice score of near perfect Chanterelles, and many more mushrooms.  Some were known from previous hunts and research, others  we were able to ID with field guides, and some remain a mystery …

Old Man of the Woods, Strobilomyces floccopus?

Old Man of the Woods, Strobilomyces floccopus?

Who knows?

Who knows?



This maybe a psychedelic mushroom growing off of an old wooden shelf by my chicken coop....

This maybe a psychedelic mushroom growing off of an old wooden shelf by my chicken coop….

In closing, I can more than say that I accomplished my mycological goals for this summer.  Not only did I find and learn how to ID both Chicken of the Woods and Chanterelles, I also learned  about Hen of the Woods, Dryad’s Saddle, King Strophia, Northern Tooth, a small variety of boletes, and many other mushrooms.


Dryad's Saddle, Pheasant Back, or Polyporus squamosus

Dryad’s Saddle, Pheasant Back, or Polyporus squamosus

While I feel like I know more about mushrooms than most people, I still have a lot to learn.  I am an amatuer mycologist, self taught, and definitely am not an expert.  Even though I like to share my stories and experiences about and with mushrooms, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to do your own research on mushrooms.


This is a King Stropharia, or also known as a wine cap.  This mushroom was intentionally "planted" in these wood chips and is highly edible.

This is a King Stropharia, or also known as a wine cap. This mushroom was intentionally “planted” in these wood chips and is highly edible.

Never eat a mushroom that you haven’t made a positive ID on.  Always double and triple check a new find.  Never eat too much of a new mushroom, and try to keep a fresh specimen available for at least 48 hours.  Learn how to do spore prints.  And most importantly, do not feel obligated to take mushrooms just because you can.  It is okay to leave them in place and let them live out their lives and spread their spores so a future generation of mushrooms can keep the mycelium running.  Peace and cheers…



Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria

Boletes found in a local park...

Boletes found in a local park…



A mushroom snowman?

A mushroom snowman?

Northern Tooth,  Climacodon septentrionale

Northern Tooth,
Climacodon septentrionale

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While the title of this essay may be tinted with a bit of doom and gloom, it is not as ominous as it sounds, and it is a fairly accurate description of the events and stories that follow.  For anyone who has followed this blog over the last five years may have noticed, I have gone through periods of consistent, productive writing, balanced out with dry periods of nothing but writers’ block growing up through the cracks of my mindscape.  While these droughts have been few for the most part, this last one has been pretty epic in scale!  The last time I sat down to write was back in February of this year when I continued with an ongoing series of essays about DIY homebrewing.




Since this last winter (the one filled with all of the Polar Vortexes) many things have happened here at the Dead End Alley Farm, and much of it would have made great copy for essays and DIY how – to’s here on the blog. I am not going to touch on everything, but I guess it is time for us to catch up on current events and happenings around the homestead and the world at large.


As I sit here in the afternoon shade with a cold beer in the outside office (a picnic table and some benches, and a hacked together arbor covered in wild grapes and honeysuckle) I am listening to one of the hens cluck away in pride or fear or some other emotion that only a chicken can know.  I can see bumble bees feeding on white clover and catnip, an overcast sky, and my old dog Harvey lying in the grass watching the world go by.


There are parts of our yard that are overgrown with weeds that should have been ripped from the ground long ago, and some of our apple trees (especially the big old one in back) are beginning to shed apples like drops of rain.  There is garlic hanging from the roof joists of my back deck and the tomato plants are overloaded with luscious fruit this year.


I have three hives of bees this season.  My pride and joy are the Carniolans that overwintered and have proven to be exceptional bees.  They are 3 deep with 2 honey supers (which translates to a very healthy colony that is making a lot of honey), a naturally mated queen (who may be the same one from last year, not real sure if they have swarmed or not this season) leads this tribe, and they are poised to enter this upcoming winter appearing very strong and healthy with adequate food supplies.



Installing the Buckfast bees out at our country beeyard.

This spring I also purchased 2 packages of hybrid Buckfast bees that came up from Georgia.  Sadly one perished within the first week (dead queen), but the other one has shown to be a vigorous (if not a bit pissy) hive of bees.  At last check they were finishing up drawing out comb and making honey in 3 deep boxes which should be enough stores for winter. And throughout the early part of the year these Buckfast bees provided frames of brood and eggs to help strengthen my Carniolans, and have also helped out to create a third colony.


At the end of June I came across a local company, 4 Seasons Apiaries, that specializes in locally bred queens and nucs.  This is a huge deal for us in Minnesota, not only for the fact that it is hard to find northern bred queens anywhere, but because it was only 20 minutes from my house as the car drives.  I ended up purchasing a really dark queen for $28 and put together a split that was made up of two frames each of the Buckfasts and the Carniolans.  The jury is still out on how this hive is doing though.  The queen is laying eggs, there is brood (both capped and otherwise), and they are actually making quite a bit of honey, but their overall numbers seem low to me.  They will most likely be subsidized with honey from the Carniolans this winter in hopes that they will have enough food to survive the cold, dark days of the upper midwest winter.


While I cross my fingers in hopes that all 3 of my colonies will pull through and survive this upcoming winter, observation and common sense tell me that the likelihood of all 3 surviving is slim at best.  Current numbers from this last winters survival rate was anywhere from about 30-50%.  These are horseshit numbers when compared to 20-30 years ago when a beekeeper could expect close to 90% survival rate in their apiaries.


My backyard is a refuge for endangered species...

My backyard is a refuge for endangered species…

So the same story continues for the bees.  While the numbers of reported cases of colony collapse disorder have evened out (and possibly plateaued), bee losses continue throughout many parts of the world, but seem especially high here in America.  Why this is such a surprise to people baffles me.  Our modern – mono crop – anthropocentric ways of inhabiting this planet are not compatible with a diverse, living, natural world.  This story is no longer just about the bees, but also of the monarch butterfly, the oceans, the remaining old growth forests of the world, and even people.


Habitat destruction, climate change, slavery, edible-food-like-products engineered to grow with poison, industrial pollution, and profit – from – disease are all symptoms of the overarching cancer that is this modern day capitalist society. It has grown up around us over the last 300 years, the whole time was spent in a petrochemical party binge, and now that we are drying out we are starting to feel the hangover!


It is as simple as this – when the bees lose, we lose, and that is the road we are going down.  The world that we live in, regardless of your flavor of religion, or politics, or indifference is still ruled by cold hard facts established through observation and the scientific method.  The world is changing, mainly its’ climate, but also the make-up of its varied populations.  Every day the Earth loses another creature, another plant.  The last of manifest destiny is completing itself as the few remaining “wild” people are driven from their forest homes, and the blood of ethnic genocide still waters the tree of “Liberty” for those of us in the privileged world .


Here is my flooded basement!

Here is my flooded basement!

This spring my family experienced climate change first hand.  For some naive reason I thought we were insulated from climate change here in Minnesota, but was I wrong!  Starting towards the end of May and going through towards the end of June, we received upwards of 15 inches of rain for the month, with a lot of this rain coming in bursts of multiple inches in short periods of time.  At some point a sewer line about a block and a half away from my home could no longer keep up with the amount of stormwater entering the system and literally collapsed in on itself.  This blockage led to my whole neighborhoods’ sanitary sewers backing up and we had upwards of 14 inches of sewage water in our basements!


Lets just say it was a real shitty and smelly problem to clean up.  To add to the mess, the city that I live in is not claiming any real responsibility for the sewer collapsing.  They are saying that the amount of rain that we received is to blame (because no one could have predicted that we would ever get that much rain in such a small space of time), and it is not their problem that the sewer wasn’t designed to handle that much water.  This situation is a good illustration of the intersecting problems of failing infrastructure and its ability to deal with the symptoms of climate change.


Not only is it bad enough that our infrastructure is falling apart and failing throughout the country, climate change will only hasten the collapse of these systems that we take for granted.  As there is less and less money to spend on domestic infrastructure projects and basic preventative maintenance, and the ever increasing threats of unstable weather conditions loom closer on all of our horizons, our roads and sewers and all the other systems that make modern lifestyles possible will be challenged and frequently overcome by a force far greater than themselves.


What is the quick take away from this conversation?  That as we face the future of a world that struggles to adapt to a changing climate with far fewer cheap resources on hand to work with, we can no longer rely on the long term support of our governments to solve these problems or to even help clean up the messes that ensue.  Just think back to hurricanes Katrina or Sandy (or any number of other climate disasters that happen regularly around the world) and you have all the evidence that you need to show government ineptitude when a climate-crisis strikes.


Most of the collapse will be slow and unnoticeable except for those places directly affected by whatever natural disaster decides to strike next.  But with each changing season, and every new climate change induced disaster, bit by bit the comfort and convenience that we are used to will begin to erode away. As long as we keep spending our resources, whether that be gold or oil, in a way that denies climate change and resource depletion, we will find ourselves in a world that is an empty shell of the one we now know.


If I were a religious man I may start praying extra hard right now, but thankfully I let science rather than superstition guide my life.  Critical observation and the ability to make rational decisions based on the facts is important.  Not just for a nation or a civilization, but also on the personal and family level.  I think if there is anything I have learned, is that when we can look at problems on multiple levels, do the research that is needed to educate ourselves on these problems, and then make decisions based on these observations to correct the problem, we can do a lot just in our own lives to change the course of events, and add a bit of resiliency and human spirit back into our everyday lives.


Nature reclaiming what is rightfully hers!!

Nature reclaiming what is rightfully hers!!

As briefly mentioned here in other posts, a year and a half ago I quit a long time job of mine in favor of one that affords me far more free time.  The trade off has been huge, and sometimes quite challenging.  This has been my second summer off, and my first full season as a partially self employed, full time stay at home dad.  It has probably been the most eye opening, and sometimes hardest role I have ever had to play.


Being use to the role as the main breadwinner in my family for so long and then giving up that economic control is not easy, but a lesson that I urge you to all try at some point in your life.  After these last few months of being at home with the kids, I have a far greater appreciation and respect for the work that my wife (as well as all you other moms out there!) has done over the last 8 years.  Child rearing is the hardest thing I have ever participated in, but I am glad that I have had the chance to dive in full time.


For me the hardest part has been balancing time between time actively spent with the kids, chores, and coordinating our CSA.  The CSA we run is small.  2 full shares, and 2, ½ shares, but it gave me a nice chunk of cash in the spring and early summer for things like groceries (I can’t grow cheese cake!) and gas money.  That cash is gone now, so my new endeavor is working on a business plan that expands out from the CSA in other directions to increase my summer cash flow for a few more months.


Eventually I hope to start making a bit of money by raising bees to sell, starting a small plant nursery, and I am also exploring some options for teaching classes.  Using outlets like the public library system, community education, and space at my local co-op, I am hoping to put together a selection of classes that will include introductions to beekeeping and Permaculture, and also a tree grafting workshop each spring.  I am in the early phases of research and planning, but I hope to teach my first official tree grafting class this upcoming spring (contact me if you are interested in hosting a class).


I guess when I really sit down and think about it, my ultimate long term goal is to not have to ever work a full time job again, unless it is for myself.  I am not scared of hard work, but it comes back to the fact that I am no longer alright selling my time to some asshole when I am fully capable of doing something(s) I am passionate about and generate an income for myself at the same time.


You can't stop nature!

You can’t stop nature!

Is this selfish?  Maybe, but I am okay with that as well.  I have begun to realize more than ever most people are just clueless drones.  Who after years of taking orders, and numbing themselves with TV, processed food, and fanatical beliefs in fairy tales can no longer truly take care of themselves or make desicions that impact their destiny.  As it stands, with humans being prisoners to their own creations and all,  I do not have a lot of hope for humanity right now.


If you follow David Holmgren’s work Future Scenarios, we are most likely entering into the Brown Tech future.  A world where we will continue draining the Earth of its fossil fuels, destroying the last of the wild lands, converting more and more  of that land to desertscapes of monocrops, and the further erosion of our shared cultural heritage, modern Homo Sapiens have perfected the art of extinction.


It is a bleak future.  One that leaves less and less room for those of us who seek freedom and justice.  It is a world that has been reduced to cultural poverty by traditions and tragedies alike.  It is a world where all life on Earth has been reduced to interchangeable and disposable parts in the pursuit of Progress.  It is a world filled with death and injustice, but it is also falling apart.


Whether humans can survive this collapse of our own making is yet to be determined.  It will be hard, but even the strongest rock is defeated by water and wind in the end.  It is in these cracks and fissures that we can seek our refuge.  The spots forgotten about and overlooked.  The areas where literal and figurative weeds grow.  The edges.  The TAZs where humanity still flourish.


Go on hikes.  Hunt mushrooms.  Raise bees.  Raise Kids.  Bake bread.  Love.  Hate.  Grow some carrots.  Chop some wood.  Pull some weeds.  Laugh.  Hug a puppy.  Cry.  Resist!  Grow.  Take a nap.  Rise up!  Read a book.  Lend a hand.   Take notes.  Have fun.  Fish.  Visit a friend.  Hug your mom.  Plant trees.  Be human….











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Here is a dark shot of myself and the giant puffball that I checked out from the library!

Here is a dark shot of myself and the giant puffball that I checked out from the library!

Two nights ago I found myself at our public library, diving deep into the bowels of what the Affordable Care Act will mean for my family and what our options for insurance may be.  Between looking at different websites trying to navigate this maze of government red tape, my mind would wander and my eyes would focus on the view looking down on the land outside of the library.  Our library was built over 20 years ago on land that was one of the last remaining farmsteads in W. St. Paul, MN and it still contains a few aspects of what it once was.

The fact that the county purchased this land for building a library (rather than a housing or commercial developer), was in certain regards a saving grace for some of the wildlife that called this little piece of Earth home.  So while there is a big library building and parking lot, there are a few acres of land that hold the remnants of a small oak savanna, a pond full of ducks and geese, black walnuts, birches, maples, delicious fruiting mulberries, aronia bushes, wild raspberries and many other species of plants and animals.

There is also a thriving underground network of mycelia; in other words mushrooms that also inhabit this small holdout of nature.  Sitting there in the library, daydreaming of affordable health care, my eyes were distracted by a large, white orb maybe 30 or 40 yards away from me.  From my vantage point looking through the windows, it was hard to tell exactly what it was – maybe a kid lost a ball, or someone lost a grocery bag to the wind, but whatever it was, my eyes kept coming back to it.  Something inside me knew what it was all along, so before it got too dark outside, I packed up my bag and made the short hike to find out what this mysterious object actually was.


Thar’ she be gettin’ weighed in … Yaargh!

It took me less than five minutes to find what I was looking for, and let me say it was hard to miss!  I have seen some puffball mushrooms in my life, but nothing like this!  This Calvatia gigantea, or more commonly known as a giant puffball, weighed in at just over 2 pounds and was harvested at just the right time.  It was the perfect age for eating, and had no damage from bugs.  I gratefully harvested this gigantic fungi, and headed home to show my family.

Mushrooms are an interesting food in our household.  I am a crazy mushroom freak – I love hunting for them, eating them, and learning about them!  My kids are slowly following in my footsteps and becoming a bit more adventurous when it comes to eating mushrooms, and my wife is allergic to all mushrooms so she keeps her distance.  Needless to say, I am spoiled when it comes to mushrooms as there are very few mouths that I have to share my mushrooms with.

Knowing that I could only eat so much on my own, I brought some of the giant puffball with me to work to share with a few folks who I know would appreciate such a find.  Both of my bosses in the kitchen where I work love wild crafted mushrooms.  The day before my find, we tried some sulphur shelf mushroom (Laetiporus sulphurues), which is a bright orange, highly edible mushroom common to Minnesota and most of North America.  Two wild mushrooms in two days, not too bad!

I ended up cutting thick slices of the puffball and sauteing the pieces in butter with a little bit of salt and pepper.  How to describe them short of saying they were heavenly?  They are very light with a noticeable, but subtle, mushroom flavor and a texture that literally melts in your mouth.  In the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, giant puffballs are described as choice, which means don’t pass these up when you get a chance to eat them!


Here is the unidentified bolete from the library. Any guesses?

Another mushroom that I found the next day, also on this same land at the library is some type of bolete.  There were a few dozen of them growing in the footprint of a birch, so it leads me to believe that it is the birch bolete, or Leccinum scabrum or possibly the Slippery Jack that is comprised of a few other varieties of boletes.  This is a perfect example of why it is so important to make a positive ID before consuming any mushroom.

According to my Mushroom Field guide, boletes contain the largest number of edible species of any family of mushrooms.  While there is a good chance that the one I found is edible, and most likely quite good, I will not be taking a bite until I can make a positive ID, which most likely will not happen this season.

Making a positive identification of mushrooms can be done in a number of ways.  The first and easiest is by visual observation.  This works for some mushrooms without any problems.  I was taught about the “FoolProof Four” which include Morels, puffballs, sulphur shelfs, and chanterelles.  I have found three of the four and am still trying to track down chanterelles.  From my understanding, chanterelles do have a few look alikes that are not good for you, so having some back up methods of making positive identifications for mushrooms is a good thing to know about.

Other methods include knowing whether a mushroom has gills, pores, or some other way disseminating its spores.  Aroma can also be a clue, like the first time I found Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) there was an overwhelming smell of anise, which in the case of oyster mushrooms is an identfying characteristic.  Location of where it was found can be helpful, but by no means does it prove anything about the exact species.  And then there is a relatively simple test that you can do called a spore print (I will write about this sometime, I promise) that can also help you to ID a mushroom.  While I will not go into detail here about a spore print test, it is a very helpful way in determining what a mushroom may be.

Ultimately, if you are into mushrooms and enjoy hunting them and eating them, then educating yourself is the most important thing you can do.  The internet is very helpful, but personally I have found real life books to be more enjoyable when it comes to learning about mushrooms.  The National Audubon Society Field Guide To Mushrooms has been indispensable on my mushroom forays throughout the years, for it is full of great pictures and very scientific descriptions that have lead to some neat discoveries.  Another one that I have found helpful is Edible Wild Mushrooms of N. America by David W. Fischer and Alan E. Bessete.  This book is not nearly as comprehensive as the Audubon Field guide, but focuses more on edible mushrooms and all the wonderful ways that they can be prepared and preserved.

Just like gardening, tapping maple trees, or trying to catch a swarm of bees, mushroom hunting (and eating them as well) will always be an exciting and somewhat seasonal part of my life.  As I write, the seasons seem to be changing in front of me!  Cold winds blow out of the north, the leaves are changing colors and are falling to the ground, and I can see the Dark Days of winter looming not far off over the horizon.  But even with this season winding down there is always the hope of the future to keep us going and moving forward.  Soon enough the cold embrace of winter will keep me inside more than I would like to admit, but even winter does not last forever!  Before I know it, I will be out again, scouring the ground for the ever wonderful Morel!  Peace & Cheers

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Yes it is bread we fight for, but we fight - for roses too!!

Yes it is bread we fight for, but we fight – for roses too!!

Two nights in a row we have had giant thunderstorms.  Big ones, like wind gusts of up to 80 MPH BIG!  It may be the icing on the cake to a very wet spring, and as I enter into summer on this rainy, windy, and overcast solstice, I can rest assured that the gardens have been well watered and are ready for some sun .  We have seen enough rain in the last three months up here in Minnesota to pull us out of a significant drought.  Last year there seemed to be drought of epic proportions throughout the world, and now I have heard about floods in India and Canada and many other places – the pendulum of nature now swings erratically and finds it hard in this new world of global climate change to find equilibrium.

While the world burns in ever growing forest fires, drowns in flash floods, and despairs in economic insecurity and social in-justice, our gardens grow.  Through hard times and climate change, a garden well tended, even when faced with challenges, still can provide us with an abundance of sustenance, inspiration, and beauty.  I want to show you a bit of that abundance, that which is growing and inspiring on one small half acre lot in the upper midwest of the U$A.

I went out with our camera today, and took a few photos of what has been happening on the homestead on the longest day of the year, 2013.  Peace & Cheers …


A bowl of Honeyberries, and the world’s best strawberries – serve with homemade yogurt and you will be in gardener’s heaven!!

I do not think I have ever had this nice of tomatos on the vine, this early in the season!  Homemade salsa here I come!!

I do not think I have ever had this nice of tomatos on the vine, this early in the season! Homemade salsa here I come!!


A one year old Liberty apple tree, that I grafted up last year. It has now surbvived two giant wind storms – I think this one is a keeper!

This is a grafted Giragaldi, dwarf mulberry.  Mulberry trees show up like weeds around here, and are hard to get rid of.  So instead, I turned the problem into the solution and tracked down a dwarfing variety, that has big, tastey berries.  Hopefully it survives the winter!

This is a grafted Giragaldi, dwarf mulberry. Mulberry trees show up like weeds around here, and are hard to get rid of. So instead, I turned the problem into the solution and tracked down a dwarfing variety, that has big, tastey berries. Hopefully it survives the winter!

With all the rain we have been getting, the mushrooms have been exceptional this year.  As an amatuer mycologist, I love mushrooms of all kinds and here are two in a beautiful picture - the slimey looking orange ones are called Velvet Feet, or Flamulina Vela tupis.  The one on the right I am not sure of, but appears to be a cup mushroom, possibly what is known as a Pig Ear, not sure though??

With all the rain we have been getting, the mushrooms have been exceptional this year. As an amatuer mycologist, I love mushrooms of all kinds and here are two in a beautiful picture – the slimey looking orange ones are called Velvet Feet, or Flamulina Vela tupis. The one on the right I am not sure of, but appears to be a cup mushroom, possibly what is known as a Pig Ear, not sure though??

These are some of our raised bed gardens.  These are our workhorses as far as our CSA shares go.  It is amazing as to how much food can be grown in intensively managed beds.  Radishes, salad mix, spinach and peas havbe already been harvested with great zeal!!

These are some of our raised bed gardens. These are our workhorses as far as our CSA shares go. It is amazing as to how much food can be grown in intensively managed beds. Radishes, salad mix, spinach and peas havbe already been harvested with great zeal!!

OK, so this one is actually from two days ago, but I had to include it.  It is one of my swarm traps atop a 12 foot step ladder, in hopes of catching a swarm that issued forth from one of our hives.  Saddly the trap did not work, and the bees found a new home elsewhere - hopefully a big, old, hollow tree down at the county park!!

OK, so this one is actually from two days ago, but I had to include it. It is one of my swarm traps atop a 12 foot step ladder, in hopes of catching a swarm that issued forth from one of our hives. Saddly the trap did not work, and the bees found a new home elsewhere – hopefully a big, old, hollow tree down at the county park!!

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Pretty Cute, Huh !!!

So I have something to tell you all.  With much hesitation and trepidation, but with encouragement from my wife and my good buddy Bill, I bring you the story of why I have blood on my hands.  Two nights ago I had to kill a possum.  I did not do it because I wanted to, or because I thought it would be fun, but because I was defending my chickens.

Earlier in the day we had noticed that one of our Buff Orpingtons was dead.  This has happened one other time when I had an accident putting them away at night.  The ramp that leads up to the coop is a drawbridge type of door, and evidently one of the other Buff Orpingtons had stuck her head out as it was being closed and received a broken neck from my carelessness.  Needless to say, I received the name “Chicken Killer” from my wife and kids.  Since then, I always double check to make sure everybody is out of the way before I close them up for the night.

When we came upon this recently deceased chicken, it was a bit strange as to where she was located.  She was not near the door like the previous chicken had been, but was underneath the drawbridge.  I felt this was evidence enough (of what do you suppose!!), to clear my name of the “Chicken Killer” label, but I was still blamed.  I got her cleaned up and disposed of, but because the ground is still frozen here, I was not able to bury her which I would have preferred to do (dead chickens are great fertilizer!).

Once that was done I really did not think about it anymore.  I collected an egg from the nesting box, checked on the bees because it was a nice sunny day (they are still alive!!), and headed inside to make dinner.  I ended up falling asleep early that night and was happily dreaming about spring rains and dandelions, when I was awoken by the sound of my wife running into the house, holding a chicken, yelling for me!

I had no idea what was going on, but I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and went to see what the problem was.  This is when I found out that we have had a possum visiting our chickens.  When Karyn went outside to put away the birds, it was dark and they should have been inside the coop on their roosts.  Instead they were all outside squawkin’ away, terrified of something. One was stuck in some orange, plastic fencing that had fallen down from snow, trying to fly away. Another chicken somehow got out of the pen. She picked it up and opened the nesting boxes to put it back in the coop when she found the possum, nestled comfortably in bedding straw, eating a raw egg.

It was almost 11:00 PM when I was called into action.  I was tired, and not at all pleased with the situation I found in front of me.  I got my jacket on, and went outside to figure something out.  I realized almost immediately that I would have to kill this ugly thing!  If all I did was chase it out of the coop and scare it off, it would come back and cause more damage than it already had.

I am not a hunter, and the extent of my killing experience (except for the chicken whose neck I broke) has been limited to a rabbit or two that my cat has made a horrible mess of!  Now I realize that my diet (which consists of meat) is only possible by killing, and therefore I play a direct role in the slaughter of animals for food.  That is why we try to support local, ethical suppliers of meat when we can afford to.  But having this situation, or should I say creature, look me in the eyes, and knowing that I am going to have to kill it myself was a feeling I was not entirely comfortable with.  I fought through the emotions quickly, and realized that if I was willing to keep chickens as part of our homesteading project, than I had to be willing to protect them from predation by possums, raccoon, and other varmints that call the cities and suburbs home.

Without going into the exact details of how I took this creatures life, I will say this.  Possums are incredibly tough and have a will to live that is impressive.  I did my best to give this animal a quick and painless death, but it was a challenge.  Both myself and my wife are now in agreement that if we are going to keep chickens as a part of our homestead, then we need to take proper steps to insure their safety – we will be buying a small .22 caliber pistol for the next time this situation presents itself.

Which leads to the true moral of the story.  We failed as responsible homesteaders.  We failed at responsible animal husbandry.  When you decide to include animals into your homestead, you take on a moral obligation to provide them with a safe and healthy environment in which to live, and this is where we failed.  This should never have happened, and the fact that a possum was able to get into the coop shows a design flaw in the system.  While we have since taken steps to correct the problem, it makes me sad that we lost one of our chickens to a mistake that could have been prevented.

My chickens are not pets to me.  I try to avoid naming them, except for Teeny Houdini (formerly Cluck D), and realize that someday they are going to die and end up in the stock pot.  And there lies the difference – I want their death to be at my hands, done humanely and quickly and with purpose.  So while it is sad that we are now going to have one less egg every few days, and that we lost a nice gentle bird, we have learned some very good lessons, and have seen a side to homesteading that is not pretty or sexy or hip.

Moving forward, the chicken coop and run are being completely redesigned and relocated this spring.  We had already started planning this before the possum had shown up, so I suppose this is good timing to reevaluate designs and plan accordingly.  While I hope this never happens again, I do realize that some of this is just the way the world works.  There are prey and predators in nature and they do what they are evolved to do.  Our role then is to moderate that interaction and keep our animals safe to the best of our abilities.  To all those with a flock of backyard chickens – keep ‘em safe!  Make sure their coop and run is secure, and if you have to deal with a similar situation as I just described, be prepared to take the appropriate actions!  Peace & Cheers

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There is one of the giant cottonwoods, keeping an eye on the place!

There is one of the giant cottonwoods, keeping an eye on the place!

In late February on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, we packed up the two kids and the dog to go on a hike.  My wife wanted to show me a new spot she had just recently found and it proved to be a very interesting and fruitful hike.  I am hesitant to reveal the exact location of this piece of urban wasteland and future nature sanctuary, but I can tell you this much.  For many years it was a large rail yard, there are remnants of a 100 year old brewery, an old industrial site, and other artifacts and ruins from a century of urban decay.  And through all the industrial abuse and mistreatment of this land, nature has still prevailed.

The eastern edge of this area is lined with sandstone bluffs and towering cottonwood and poplar trees standing guard.  Further down, where the bluffs meet the ground are a number of ancient springs bubbling up out of the porous rock and filling up a number of caves with water.  From the caves flows a stream that even in winter is unfrozen and is populated by large clumps of green and verdant water cress.  One cave in particular has some very interesting history buried deep down in its dark cavern.

Here is the stream coming out of one of the caves!

Here is the stream coming out of one of the caves!

Local legend has it that there is a very large underground lake, fed by the springs, deep within this cave.  Legend also says that this spot, where water issued forth from the Earth and met the land and sky was the birthplace of the local Dakota people.  This cave is now closed to visitors by a giant iron door, but supposedly while it was still open, you could take a canoe back into the dark recesses of the cave and see petroglyphs on the sandstone walls – artwork from a time long passed.

Regardless of the accuracy of these tales and legends that are buried in the sandstone bluffs, this small piece of ground that has survived industrial abuse is a living testament to the resilient force that is nature.  On our brief hike through this flat river valley land, I was able to identify a fair number of plants that call this area home.  Along with the cottonwoods, poplars, and watercress already mentioned, there are lots of box elder trees (a close relative of maples that can also be tapped for their sweet sap), elms, hackberry, burr oak (which is part of the cities’ effort to restore this area), asters, goldenrod, Black Eyed Susans, sunflowers, cattails, wild grapes, and a handful of others that I could not identify due to snow cover and the time of year.

There is one other tree though that deserves a bit more attention than the rest though.  On our way back to the parking area, we took a different loop of the hiking trail than we had come in on.  Stopping to read a small placard that related a bit of the history of the former rail yards and the recent effort to replant the oak savanna that once stood here, I noticed to the northwest of me, at about a distance of 30-40 yards, what appeared to be a rather large apple tree laden with fruit!

I immediately set out for the tree and as I approached it my suspicions were proven correct!  There in front of me, standing maybe 25 feet tall was a gorgeous, if not slightly tangled and messy, 3 trunked tree loaded with apples in the upper branches!  Upon seeing this I instantly time traveled back to the age of 8 when I was hiking through an apple orchard and learning about how you can eat winter apples that are still hanging on the tree.  I lifted my daughter up above my head and we were able to get a few of them down.  Wow!!  What a treat they were.

Tasting of a mildly tart, sweet apple with obvious hints of cinnamon, and the consistency of frozen apple sauce, they appear to be a red skinned, small to medium crab apple that tend to grow in clusters.  The other characteristic that is very interesting is how well they hold onto the tree.  Being that it is now March, and that there are still hundreds of apples in the upper reaches of the tree tells me that these apples were appealing to some kind of animal (whether that is of the two footed or the four footed variety I do not know) earlier in the season.

While it is possible that this apple tree is a known, grafted cultivar intentionally planted there by human hands, I have another theory of how this apple tree came to find itself in this location –

It was a hot, humid end of summer day in early September.  Taking a siesta from the back breaking work of a train mechanic, a worker settled down in the still hot shade of a broken locomotive to rest and eat his lunch.  After finishing his bologna, onion, and lettuce sandwich, and sipping on a thermos of lukewarm coffee, he reached into his  lunch sack and took out an apple for dessert.  Like any other day, he relished the crisp, sweet flesh of a fresh apple.  Taking his time to finish it, he took a moment to look up at the tree covered bluffs and the eagle flying high over head before throwing the apple core into the weedy mess at the far side of the rail yard.

There it came to rest between a few small pieces of broken concrete and the diffuse shade of brambles and pigweed, and started the next phase of its life.  Later that fall as the weeds died back and the trees on the bluff began to lose their leaves, a skinny, stray dog did a good job of fertilizing the area around the apple core.  Going into winter well fed and with a warm blanket of leaves and snow, the apple core emerged that following spring soggy and falling apart.

One of the seeds found this new, moist and warm environment conducive to sprouting and began its long journey to becoming a tree.  Over the next few seasons, protected by the brambles, and far enough out of the way to not be outright trampled by train workers and sneaky hobos, the tree began to grow a large and healthy root system, and also started heading for the sun high above.

That next autumn, when work began on decommissioning the rail yard, earth movers and tractor trailers tore up the landscape.  As tracks were removed and stacked up to be hauled away, the tree yielded to a ton of of steel and iron and snapped off at the ground.  Work continued on and no one ever knew about the young apple tree growing on the far side of the yard.

But nature is full of evolutionary miracles, and the next spring issuing forth from the still living, healthy root system came a crows foot of three new branches.  This new growth was incredibly vigorous, and even the pioneer plants like buck thorn could not keep pace with this young apple tree.  And for the (at least) last 30 years, this tree has grown and thrived in this urban wasteland of weeds and industrial decay, and has provided a snack for the hungry urban wilderness explorer!

Here is the tree, loaded with fruit!

Here is the tree, loaded with fruit!

So there is the story of the “Rail Yard Pippin” or how about “Cinnamon Hobo” crab apple?  All joking aside, if this  is truly a chance seedling apple tree and its fresh qualities are as good or better than the frozen, mushy winter version (which literally tasted of cinnamon!), than it is quite a find!  Figures vary, but somewhere in the neighborhood of one in a 1000 apple seedlings are worth keeping and naming for some culinary purpose (fresh eating, baking, drying, or for cider), so this tree could be quite the gem worth saving and passing on.

Because it is almost spring and all I have on my mind is plants and propagation, I just happened to have my pruners in my pocket when we were out hiking.  I collected a bunch of scion wood from this tree to add to this years growing collection of fruit tree genetics.  It will be grafted onto one of the !Frankentrees!, and also probably get some of its own roots as well.  Crab apples tend to be great pollinators and a welcome addition to any hard or soft cider, so it could fill a number of roles in the orchard.

If any of you readers out there, whether you are a part of the Scion Exchange or not, would like to try grafting and growing this variety; and also acting as a micro-agricultural-research station to collect data such as growth habit, disease resistance, hardiness, fruit characteristics, and storage ability, email me and we can arrange something.

Regardless of whether this apple is truly worth keeping or not, it was fun “discovering” the tree and seeing the spirit of Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman still at work in the most unlikely of spots!  And by the way, which name do all you readers out there prefer – “Rail Yard Pippin” or “Cinnamon Hobo Crab apple”?  Let me know …. Peace & Cheers

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It is not often that I get truly sick.  Sure, I sometimes have a runny nose and a sore throat, but rarely do I find myself incapacitated to the point of missing work and being stuck in bed or on the couch.  The first two days and nights were the worst, I don’t think I would be exaggerating when I tell you I got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep total over a 48 hour period.  There was fluid continually draining down my throat, which in turn was causing long bouts of nausea and severe indigestion, and I was having difficulty taking full breaths .  Day three was a bit better – I was actually able to sleep, eat a bit, and started breathing better.  I ended up going to a local minute clinic to get checked out.  The flu season is kicking into high gear early this year, and they were all out of flu tests.  So I don’t know if I have been dealing with true influenza or not, but regardless, it has not been fun.

That brings me up to the present.  Day four and I am definitely starting to feel like an almost healthy human again.  I now have a runny nose and a cough, my legs are still very achy and weak, but I am eating real portions of food, getting some of my energy back, and have been able to do some reading and catching up with some e-mails.   I figured I should try and do some writing as well since my wife is watching the kids right now.

So while it was not my intention to share all the wonderful details of how I have been feeling for the last four days with you, it does give a good introduction to what I have been thinking about.  When I was at the minute clinic, walking down aisle 11 to find an over the counter antacid, I realized how so many of us rely on corporate pharmaceuticals to heal us when we are ill.  Even my family, who has a big backyard garden and does some wild foraging now again for food and medicinals; we still rely on the pharmacy for Ricolla cough drops, aspirin, antacids for heart burn, and a few other common medicines to see us through these times of ill health.

This brings me to the next bit that has been on my mind.  About two years ago, I wrote this article, a short intro to growing culinary and medicinal herbs in permaculture plant guilds and wild foraging them from my favorite hiking spots.  This last season saw a lot of those herbs come into maturity.  We used a lot of the wild majoram as did the bees, the valerian grew to about 5 feet, and the borage has established itself as a self seeding annual.  The sad part though is this, very few of the herbs that are growing and thriving in the gardens, ended up getting harvested and processed this last season.  How I wish I would have had some valerian root a few nights ago to help me sleep.   Or mullien, which grows wild in different parts of our gardens each year, could have helped with my respiratory troubles.  I will not be too hard on myself about this, but take this as a lesson learned.

It is this time of year in the “Homesteading” blogosphere that you start seeing predictions and resolutions for the new year.  I have never done this, and do not intend to make this a yearly topic except for this one time.  I have a few goals for myself and our homestead that I would like to see happen this year.

1 – Eat more veggies!  Hey, we are Urban Farmers right, so you would think we already eat enough of them.  Well, we do eat a lot of veggies, but I want to eat more.  I am not advocating a vegetarian diet, far from it, I just want to eat more of what we grow, and have my garden contribute to my overall health.

2 – Continue improving, expanding, harvesting, processing, and using the wonderful plants that grow in our backyard and neighborhood Pharmacopoeia.  Whether that be plants that can be dried for teas, used in infusions, or macerated into salves, I hope, when the time arises, to be able to help heal myself with plants that I have helped to grow and harvest.

And with that, I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.  I know the seed catalogs are coming in and we are all ready for winter to be done.  Make sure to pick a few herbs for the garden this year and put some away to help keep you healthy!  Peace & Cheers

….And now for something TRULY SICK!!  Here is an animated cartoon made by Steve Cutts.  Never in my life did I think a 3 ½ minute cartoon could so eloquently sum up MANs history and relationship with the Earth!  Thanks to my buddy Warren Draper for posting this at his website!!!!

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