Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: Folks this ain't normal

Folks this ain't normal, by Joel Salatin.

ok, ok ..... i know, another Salatin book.  I was half way through my Eliot Coleman book and this order arrived and i just couldn't help myself.  that's life, aye?

so where do i start with my favorite christian permaculture styled, sustainable author?

another fabulous book!  this one, while still focusing on the farming industry, manages to challenge the very core of the way the world has gone .... which is why his book is so aptly titled, Folks this ain't normal.

he takes us through a variety of different aspects of our lives today and challenges that what we consider normal and take for granted is actually warped and not how we should be viewing the world that we live in and the stewardship of this land that our Creator God has called us to. whatever area it may be .... from how our children are raised to how we live in community and, of course, how we view our food, he challenges what we know and encourages us to think about how God intended it to be.  stop thinking that the government is looking out for your best interests. ... instead think about what you need to do to be looking after your family.  own your responsibility .... don't be a pacifist.  do something about it.  i appreciated that at the end of each chapter, no matter the topic, he gives you a short list of things that you can do to be working towards combating complacency .... giving us tangible action points for change.

for the uninitiated, it is a great read and will give you a real insight into how Salatin thinks and where he sees the world as having gone wrong.  for those of us familiar with his ways and work, it is an affirmation of where he is coming from and what he embraces.  which is probably my only negative.  having read his "illegal" book already, i found some of this a revisit to what he has previously written.  a thorough and thoughtful treatise, for sure .... and a great read .... but if you are already sold on his perspective on the world, then what he has written could seem a bit rehashed.

here endeth the lesson.  i thot i would just give you a few excerpts from the book to encourage you to read his stuff and to really think about how the truth of what he has written.

on the backwardsness of our political system and how EVERYONE is missing the boat on stewardship of this world ...

I find it amazing that the conservative/liberal mantra, when it comes to resource stewardship, has flip-flopped.  You would think the liberals, who can't give other people's money away fast enough, would be the ones wanting to strip out all the energy. But that's not the case.  The conservatives, who correctly think people should keep what they earn, are the ones seemingly least interested in conserving natural resources.  These stereotypical political agendas always get squirrely to me.  That's why I call myself a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic.  It seems to cover all my important bases.

when talking about the governmental controls and genetic experimentation going on these days, he grasps a great truth.

In the movie Jurassic Park, the euphoric scientist, ecstatic over his cloned raptors and other dinosaurs, completely fails to grasp their destructive capabilities ... And so the journalist confronts him with the central question of movie: But sir, just because we can, should we? 

and his point is made in with a bullet between the eyes in the next paragraph in relation to governmental experimentation and control ...

A culture that views animals and plants as inanimate piles of protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly hubris can imagine to manipulate will view its citizens the same way.  And other cultures the same way.  Our respecting and honoring the pigness of the pig, therefore, creates the ethical and moral framework upon which we respect and honor the Maryness of Mary and the Tomness of Tom.

i will probably never tire of anything from Joel Salatin (if you haven't done a YouTube hunt on him .... you are missing out on a real treat!), because he speaks to where my heart is.  the sanctity of life -- all life -- and our call to be wise stewards of it.  to respect how our Creator God made this world and not destroy it.

yeah to Joel -- for tackling the tough ones and calling us to be better and wiser than our predecessors.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Piggyness of Pigs

if you follow my posts at all you know that i am a joel salatin devote .... he is an amazing farmer who runs Polyface Farms in the US.  He is a man committed to stewardship of this planet and a man who recognises our Creator God made it and the design of it .... for US.  including animals.  he often can be heard talking about the chickenness of the chicken or the piggyness of the pig .... eluding to the whole idea that we should respect all living animals for how God created them and what He created them for.

i reckon its a concept that once you get your head around what that means .... you will forever be changed about how you see the animals we live with.  that doesn't mean not to eat them .... it means to let them live their lives the way they were meant to be lived .... not cooped up in cement floors or row upon row of tiny cages, never seeing the light of day and living horrific and miserable lives.

anyway .... i digress.

i had the opportunity to go out and see a friend who had just gotten a couple of "weiners" .... these are piggies that have grown enough to be weened from the sow and are ready to be fattened for the dinner table.  but while they are growing they can perform a wonderful service, by beginning to till the soil, etc.  which is what our friends were going to use them for .... to reclaim an old are of their veggie patch.  it really was inspiring.  hubby still has to finish off the movable electric fence area where they will till the soil for the veggie patch reclaiming .... but even in their current quarters, you could see their piggy-ness coming through.

i saw them on their first day getting settled into their temporary digs.  they seemed a bit listless, so i suggested to my friend that pigs love mud .... why not spray them and get them wet?  so we did and oh my!  within 15 minutes they were charging about, having a blast and enjoying their piggy-ness.  gorgeous little animals.

i so enjoyed watching them dig around in the dirt.  one of my pet peeves is to see people who have pigs as pets with nose rings.  it is truly horrible to watch people put rings through pigs noses because they don't want them mucking around in the dirt.  guess what?  it is part of how God created them .... it is wrong to deny them of their innate piggyness.  what is one of the most intrinsic things that you do as a human?  imagine someone coming along and saying .... you don't get to do that anymore .... because i say so.  it's wrong .... it's just wrong!  so my heart was very happy to see these piggies with clumps of mud on their noses .... having fun .... because it is part of how they were created!  and their nose serves a huge purpose to us!  if we manage them properly then they can dig up old veggie patches (as in my friends case) and in general just be of great use to us .... and they are enjoying themselves as they do it!

seeing them in action was a real affirmation to me of how we want to use them on JustEarth.  we will probably fence in the OMG (organic market garden) area first up.  providing the appropriate mobile shelter while they dig up the earth and make it all mucky and full of good fertile "stuff" .... after that we'll put the chooks in the chook tractor over it just to spread it all out and then we'll be ready to till!  it's all about using the systems and animals the way they were made rather than making life too hard!  and at almost 51 .... i am very appreciative of that!  <g>

i will finish with another thot.  any animals we own will serve a purpose -- they are partnering with us in the work that we do.  one of the purposes that any animal we have will be to nourish our family.  so rest assured, any animal we have will have a great life .... and one bad day.

off to dream now .... about prosciutto, sausage, slabs of bacon ....... <sigh>

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Summer Planting Update

we went out to a beautiful little 6 acres parcel of land that we hope is going to be JustEarth this morning ....

glorious, isn't it?

coming back to our rental property i was invigorated ... to plant.  whether it be here at the house, or having seedlings ready for the property.  i was motivated.

i realised too, in a very pleasant way that my perspective on land and our earth has changed dramatically.  almost a year ago now i took my Intro to Permaculture Course from Milkwood Permaculture.  I still clearly remember going outside and our instructor, Nick, getting us to pick up a handful of dirt and to look at it and think about it.  about the life and the things that were living in that soil and how important it is to our very lives each day.  it wasn't icky dirt.  it was earth ... GOOD EARTH.  what our beloved planet uses to grow the good stuff we eat.  and we need to care for it.

how funny today when i was planting some seeds that i looked at the soil and saw all these bugs running through and around it.  realising these were just the ones i could see!  the microscopic organisms in the soil that is well cared for and nutrient dense is amazing!  our God is one amazing Creator to have done this.  and it is a wonderful thing.  

yeah .... my perspective has done a 180!

so what did i plant today ... well!  we are challenging the boundaries of what is known and normal.  to see what can be done.  we are in the sub tropics now!  we can grow year round .... well, just about!  <g>  

i had been remiss in putting in some sunflowers in.  i just love the colour. but hadn't put them in here.  but i have now.  too late in the year?  maybe!  but with all the wet they wouldn't have done well anyway, and we do live where the winters are barely long sleeve weather so i figure we'll have some great late autumn flowers mixed in with the beans and tomato's!  i have also put in the standard start of the winter fare .... broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower and cabbage seeds.  we'll see how they go.  i am expecting a u-beaut crop!

leeks..... <sigh>. i never seem to get this right .... but am loathe to give up because i love them so much! so i am trying to do them the Allsun Farm way.  it is outlined here at the Milkwood Market Garden blog.  onions and leeks are in the same family .... so i figure it can't go too wrong!  <g>  

and last but certainly not least.  tomato's.  what a rotten year to try and grow heaps!  the wet muggy weather has caused all sorts of problems and i've barely been able to keep ahead of the moldy mildewy leaves.  as a result .... no real tomato's to show so far.  but i hold out hope!  i was talking to a grower at a market recently and asked what was the growing time for up here in the northern rivers and they indicated that if you are ok with them growing more slowly in the cold weather .... that unless we get a frost .... we could pretty much grow year round.  so i'm gonna give it a go.  i bought some seedlings from an organic grower at the kyogle markets recently that she said were hardy .... put a few in the aquaponics, but have planted out the left overs in the ground.  i have also planted some seeds for some purple calabash.  these are mid to late season heirloom variety that i have hopes will give us tomato's well into the mid fall season and on!  

march will be time to plant broad beans, peas, garlic and snow peas up here ...some will be for here, and some will be for the school our kids go to.  but i can't help but wonder if some of the crops that i might even have planted today will go into the ground at JustEarth.  

time will tell!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The World of Bamboo

a while back i promised a post on some impressions i have had of bamboo.  stunning.  amazingly diverse.  hardy.  so easy to use.  SUSTAINABLE.

we were walking around the Djanbung Gardens a month ago and i was taken aback by their ability to use bamboo in so many ways.  it made me smile when i thot back to our trip to Hong Kong 3 years ago and saw these 5-6 storey scaffolding structures made out of .... you guessed it .... bamboo!

i could wax lyrical .... but that does get boring after a while.  so i thot i would let the pictures of what you can do with bamboo speak for themselves.  please forgive the blatant child photo's .... can't help it .... they are an integral part of our lives and seem to follow us everywhere!  <g>

take a look at the bench!

these are beans growing up a bamboo
pole.  the spikey bits from the bamboo
have been left on and make great spots for the
beans to grab on to!

a shade house of course.  will be early on our agenda
to build.  and of course it's out of bamboo!

a shot under for how it is put together

and an even better shot!

bamboo, stripped down and used to create raised
bed gardens!

nothing from bamboo goes to waste ....
these are the leaves that fall off ...
used as mulch

hey mum!  that's a huge bit of

you do need to choose your bamboo
carefully.  talking to the staff at djanbung they indicated
that this bamboo is useless for building big
structures because it didn't stand up to the elements
very well. however for furniture .... well jeepers!
it would be gorgeous, aye?

a stand of bamboo that they use to build with.
takes about 4 years for it to be big enuf to do much with.
guess we'll have to get planting early!

now that is pretty darn cool!

more bamboo leaves .... they were used as mulch for the
turkeys and chooks.

yeah .... she is cute and having fun .... but look at
the trellis behind her!
and of course the required curing station
to allow the bamboo to dry out and

a big picture perspective of some of the ways they have
used bamboo in the garden.  hodge podge ... a bit.
but it works and it's sustainable!
and even as fencing around some of the gardens!  
in mid march i will be heading off to the Philippines to visit the orphanage our kids come from, Rehoboth Children's Home.  they have over 2 hectares of land and have many opportunities to do sustainable ag in a small space.  there is a place very near them that does sustainable / organic permaculture.  look at how they use bamboo!  i reckon my march trip is gonna have me seeing bamboo in my dreams!