Podcast #3 with Harold Thornbro is Here!

Direct mp3 download.

Link to Episode 3 on Libsyn.

The Liberty Hippie opens the show bringing homeschoolers attention to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, a fantastic resource when trying to figure out the legal aspects of homeschooling. He then starts chatting today with one Harold Thornbro. Harold has been running the Modern Homesteading podcast for almost four years and has an incredible backlog of content which you can check out at The Small Town Homestead. (He also runs the Modern Homestead facebook group which runs some 21,000 deep!) We talk about how cancer at 39 gave Harold the push he needed to get back to doing things a little more naturally and how his homestead has grown over the past few years to include a wide variety of practices from permaculture to meat rabbits to a new foray into aquaponics.

Harold is a wealth of information and it was an honor to get him on the show so early on. Check out his website to sign up for his free course “How to Get Started Homesteading, Right Where You Are, Right Now” and sign up for his newsletter to get a free PDF “21 Tips for Homesteading on a Budget.”

Things We Talked About

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes on Instagram, too.

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Subscribe to the show!

Link to show notes for episode 002 with Lizzie Pecone.

Episode #2 is Live!

Welcome back to Episode 2! Today’s episode opens with an brief exploration of the Homesteaders Co-op, which is essentially a hub for trading or purchasing homemade paper goods, seeds, hand crafted textiles, and a slew of other things. Go check it out and help the little guy.

From there we delve into a conversation with Lizzie Pecone the co-host (with her husband) of Year Round Tree and the Sounds Like Liberty podcasts. Lizzie spent her first couple of years in the public education system and was then removed by her mother to finish the rest of her educational career.

Things We Talked About

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes on Instagram, too.

If you feel so inclined to support the show financially you can click on our Amazon link in the side bar, or checking our our bitbacker.io account.

Episode 1 shownotes!

It’s A Podcast!

I’ve been wanting to get a podcast going for sometime now, but haven’t had the gumption until recently. Presently there are only two episodes available – and the first is just a pilot so… – but new episodes will be released on Tuesdays.

As you might imagine, the podcast will interview individuals involved in the homesteading and homeschooling movements in an attempt to gain insight into how others run their micro-programs so that we can all learn from each other. I have recorded a good number of episodes and I can tell already that my interviewing skills have started to get better, so stick with me and give them a listen.

Each episode will start out discussing an article from the internet, or some sort of interesting, unique, informative website or program that homesteaders and homeschoolers might find useful or informative. After that we will get into an interview. My first interview was with Miss Elizabeth Melton of Sixpence Farm. Check out the show notes for all the details, and put the rss feed into your podcatcher to subscribe to all future shows. (The show will be on iTunes soon, but as of writing, Apple is still in the reviewing process.)

RSS Feed: https://homesteadsandhomeschools.libsyn.com/rss

Cover Crops for Food

Since moving to Georgia, we have made an effort to go north for a couple of weeks each summer. It helps us escape the heat and it allows us to see family during the nicest part of the year in New England. This means the garden struggles. Of course, it’s usually the end of July or early August that we head north so the garden is taking a break for the most part, but without someone here to keep the pigweed, lambs quarter and morning glory at bay, the weeds can take over in a matter of weeks. We learned this the hard-way last year. So this year as we prepared to go north, we decided to head to the local nursery and see what they had for cover crops.

Daikon radish
The last vestige of daikon radish in the garden as a cover crop.

We weren’t really sure what to get, so we went with the cheapest things the owner suggested – a pound of buckwheat seed and a pound of daikon radish seed. I knew buckwheat is good for honey and if we got ambitious we could grind the seeds for flour, so that sounded good. I also knew you could eat daikon radish, and they’re often used in Asian cuisine, but these were seeds out of a 55 gallon drum and I had no clue what variety of daikon they were (or if there even are different varieties of daikon radish.) With no inclination as to what I was doing, I walked around the perimeter of the garden, broadcast seeding the buckwheat on two sides and the daikon on the other two.

When we left, the weather was predictably dry, but we did have a few rain storms, and apparently it was enough for the cover crops to take root so that when we returned home, we had a weed free perimeter, some pretty white buckwheat flowers and some baby daikon growing in the back.

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Full grown and ready to use.

Of course, we tilled the buckwheat and daikon back into the ground when it came time to get our fall crops in, but partly out of laziness and also because I like to experiment, I left part of the back row as daikon, just to see what would happen. Well, they got bigger, and bigger, and bigger, to the point that they actually look like the long white radishes that you see when you purchase daikon from the store. This was awesome not only because the the chickens love the greens and it’s an excellent supplement for fresh forage now that winter is here.

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Yummy yummy kkakdugi!

But also because it’s the right kind of radish to make kkakdugi – radish kimchi!

Over-hiking the Adirondacks: Part I

Without a doubt, National and State Parks make up the biggest “common” area for tax payers to explore and make use of; it is also a prime example of the tragedy of the commons in today’s world. To be fair, many users of these common areas are respectful of nature and follow the leave-no-trace philosophy, but no matter how careful users are, a single track trail can quickly become a herd path of three or four people wide simply from increased foot traffic and weathering; and of course, once this happens, it can be very difficult to recover. This article from the NY Times blames the advent of social media and geo-tagging (specifically Instagram) as an issue as it alerts too many people to picturesque areas that were otherwise only described as gritty contour lines on a map, while some natural areas – like the Adirondacks of NY – are facing issues from floods of tourists thanks to their close proximity to major cities, and tourism campaigns from the State.

Lake George
Looking down onto Lake George.

The Adirondack Park is a 6.2 million acre park in Upstate New York, making it the largest of it’s kind in the United States – it’s most recent addition to the park was in 2012 when Gov. Cuomo purchased 65,000+ acres for nearly $50 million – with almost half being protected as “forever wild” in the New York State constitution. Cuomo highly praised his own actions and initiated a hefty tourism program intending to bring people from the nearby Montreal and New York City to spend their money in the many tiny Upstate towns that reside within the boundaries of the Park. And, predictably, tourism increased. In 2015, Cuomo’s office issued a report that claimed tourism in the Adirondack park area was $1.3 billion dollars and generated $162 million dollars in state and local taxes. That is a lot of tourism and it is changing the landscape of the Adirondacks. Weekends leave the roads clogged with cars as they search for parking spots at the tiny trail heads, with many often just parking on the shoulders of the road.

Schroon Lake
Looking out onto Schroon Lake with the High Peaks region of the ADKs in the background.

While the increased tourism is beneficial to local economies, it has been rather detrimental to the local environment. A number of the Adirondack mountains were burned in the 1800’s to allow the peaks to be surveyed, and those that weren’t scorched were often logged quite heavily. These area’s are growing back (some old growth can still be found in some remote areas), but the peaks have been slow to recover. While only a fraction of the High Peaks consist of alpine climate, the tops of these mountains are rocky, cold, and windy, making growth slow and precarious. Trails are marked on rocks with yellow blazes and stone cairns. Through the stubby spruce branches, the trails sit lower than the dirt as they have been eroded down to the mountain rock. With increased foot traffic, these trails have widened, allowing rainfall to concentrate into small streams and erode even more of the trail, continuing the widening effect. On the peaks that do maintain alpine climates, the small and delicate plants that took years to grown are trampled and killed in a season underfoot of clumsy hikers and wayward dogs. There is also a huge environmental impact that comes with the increase of cars and litter.

NPT Sign
Signage on the Northville-Placid Trail.

This overuse issue is one that has been steadily ramping up over the past few years, forcing the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to take notice and put together some focus groups to help prevent future damage and control tourism. Much of what they have come up with, is more infrastructure: more kiosks with information about nearby underused trails, more signage directing travelers to the new kiosks, more electronic variable signs on the interstate connecting NYC to the High Peaks region, more public roadside restrooms, more parking spots, and better painted parking spots. They have even designed an “environmentally sustainable trail” to be cut-in in the hopes that it will redirect some hikers. (This, after Cuomo disregarded federal road sign regulations and put up 540 tourism signs through out New York at a cost of $8.1 million, only to be told to take them down or lose $14 million of Federal Highway Assistance funds.)

Just NPT
Hiking through Priests Vlei on the Northville-Placid Trail.

Of course, building new signs and suggesting that people find different “underused” trails may help to disperse some of the foot traffic, but it does not tackle the issue of overuse and many in the DEC and Adirondack Park recognize this. Not to mention all the signage and buildings will take a nice sized bite out of the taxes tourism has created, but it is also likely, many of the small towns and counties will end up footing the bill, while the state reallocates those tourism taxes to projects in the City.

There have been a few suggestions made that would cut back on traffic altogether, but as can be imagined, they are often met with a fair bit of resistance. The first idea centers around permits and is essentially two fold: permit fees will create revenue that could then be used to maintain high use trails while also acting as a deterrent for some luke-warm users. The second idea also focuses on reducing foot traffic by closing particular trails throughout the season, forcing hikers to go elsewhere. While both of these ideas have merit, they both have problems as well. Closing certain trails will reduce foot traffic, but it will also push that foot traffic elsewhere; it is just moving the problem from one location to another. And, of course, there is the likelihood that when the trail is reopened, the foot traffic is more intense as people look to get out on the trail while it is open. But then we get to the idea of permit fees.

Personally, I have no problem with permit fees to use certain areas of wilderness. It will probably keep some hikers that are just out for a glorious Instagram shot from ascending the peaks, and it will generate a revenue stream for maintaining the lands and trails. The issue with all this, is that these are not private lands, they are state lands, and every New Yorker and tax paying citizen across the country has had money taken from them to be used for maintenance of the Adirondack Park. Now the people that want to use the park will be paying for it twice.

NPT Stream

In Part II, I will examine where the newly acquired land came from and how it was being used prior to coming under NYS ownership, and perhaps a solution to the problems besieging the Adirondack Park.

Sow seeds of liberty so we can all reap sheaves of freedom together.

 

Reduce CO2 Emissions: Resign as World Police

Let’s talk CO2 for a minute. For the most part, the rhetoric surrounding climate change seems to focus on you and me, the little guys. We’re encouraged to use less energy, to buy electric or hybrid cars, and some states go so far as to mandate the use of solar panels in new homes (California).

Why don’t we focus on another group, maybe, say, the jet setters that travel the world in their private jets speaking out about climate change and carbon emissions. Why don’t we focus on US foreign interventionist policies?

In 2014, the DoD said they emitted 70 million tonnes of CO2 per year, but this doesn’t include military bases overseas, vehicles, or weapons. It also doesn’t include national security interests: LEO emergency response, tactical fleets, or intelligence work.

In the first four years of the Iraq war alone, we put 141 million tonnes of carbon into the air in the first four years. That’s the same as putting another 25 million cars on the road for a year.

And those are all things either oversees, or fighting “crime.” Just imagine all the resources that get burned up by the NSA and Homeland Security just by spying on their own people!

Why don’t the climate change folks talk about bringing our troops home and resigning as World Police as a massive way to reduce CO2 emissions? Why don’t they look at our government as part of the problem, not the solution?

North Georgia Candy Roaster Seeds

North Georgia Candy Roaster were originally grown by the native Cherokee tribes residing in present day North Carolina, eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia, and were an important food source to these tribes, making them an excellent variety for the deep south.

halvedThey are heavy squash with a weight range of 10-250 pounds (according to Slow Foods USA) though most fruit from the vines we grew ranged between 8-15 pounds. A pale orange color with greenish blue tips and some green striations and patches, they come in both tear drop and banana shapes. We found that most of the squash produced later in the season tended to be more banana shaped, and have more green coloration than fruit produced earlier in the season.

These store well and taste excellent cooked in any manner imaginable. They also make a great substitute for pumpkin pie around the holidays.

Ideal for three sisters planting, their large leaves help keep moisture in the ground and the weeds at bay, these massive vines can reach lengths of at least 25 feet. (There’s no telling how long they could get if you coax them along.) Twelve plants produced well over 200 pounds of squash throughout the summer with minimal watering once vines were established.

seedsExcellent cooked in a variety of ways, these squash store well in a cool dark room, and make a wonderful substitute for pumpkin in pies during the holiday season.

North Georgia Candy Roaster is of some concern as it is an open pollinated plant with separate male and female flowers that require a third party for pollination. Because of this necessity, it is important to make sure there are no other Cucubrita maxima varieties within a mile, or hand pollination must be performed to ensure seed purity.

North Georgia Candy Roaster
Cucurbita maxima
Long sprawling vines, with numerous 10-15 pound fruits.
20 seeds, $3.00 plus shipping and handling.
Email us to purchase some.

You can read more about how we came to pick this variety, or watch as I use the North Georgia Candy Roaster as a subject demonstrating hand pollination of the Cucurbitacae family.

A Winter Squash for the South

To purchase North Georgia Candy Roaster seeds from us, use this page.

Growing up in New England, winter squash were a staple in the garden – they were sweet by nature, but the cold falls brought the sugars out to perfection; their thick rind allowed them to sit in the root cellar all winter waiting to be used, sweetening as the days passed; their flowers are showy and easy to hand pollinate, and there is an endless variety to choose from ranging in flavor, shape, color, texture, size and plant habitat. I would often find myself perusing farmers’ markets looking for odd shaped and unique varieties to save seed from in the hope that something might come back true to form the following years.

When we moved to Georgia, the farmers’ markets were all but devoid of winter squash. The local nurseries could not suggest any specific varieties that would weather the heat, the squash borers, and, in the end, produce something remotely palatable. Initially, I went with a couple of my favorites: Delicata and Sweet Dumpling. Unfortunately, they did not work so well. By the time the weather started to cool, the fruit had been harvested and the vines long dead. Squash vine borers feasted, and the little squash we actually harvested was anything but sweet.

Not willing to miss out on one of my favorite garden delicacies, I went to the internet to search for some answers. I always learned that squash was a staple of Native Americans, and the Cherokee inhabited this land until they were driven to Oklahoma, so I started there and somehow ended up at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in search of something called the North Georgia Candy Roaster.

halvedUnlike my favorites – which are all varieties of Cucubrita pepo – the Candy Roaster is a Cucubrita maxima, which means it’s big: the vines are big, the leaves are big, and the squash is big, but it’s over sized leaves, lengthy vines, and ability to root at will from nodes along the vine make it an ideal candidate for three sisters planting, keeping weeds down and moisture in, a plus when it comes to gardening in the deep south. According to Slow Foods USA, the Candy Roaster was cultivated among the Cherokee tribes in what is today western North Carolina, north Georgia, and east Tennessee. We are in Middle Georgia, so our winters are incredibly mild, and our summers are hot, but based on the plants historical habitat, we had to give it a shot, and by mid-summer, we were not disappointed.

These squash did excellent in the garden, almost too well. By summer’s end we were inundated with squash. Throughout the summer we continually moved vines to grow back into the corn, but eventually just began trimming the ends of the vines that became too long and unruly. By the end of summer we had a couple of wheel barrows full of the orange squash either tear drop or banana shaped, all with a green tip and some with greenish blue striations. They were a marvel to look at, they tasted just as good, and to top if off, they produced all summer, though the second crop was much skinnier and smaller, they were just as tasty.

many pyramidThis squash was certainly a winner and one we will continue to plant for seasons to come. SlowFoodsUSA lists seed availability as concern, but fortunately, we have some seeds of this variety available. You can find these seeds here.

Using the North Georgia Candy Roaster as a subject, I made a how-to video demonstrating hand pollination of the Cucurbitacae family. You can watch it here.

Hand Pollination is a Must for Pure Seed

When it comes to saving seed for for future plantings, it is of the utmost importance that you avoid cross-pollination. We can accomplish this by bagging or caging individual flowers and plants, or we can hand pollinate flowers. One of the easiest garden vegetables to hand pollinate are squash and other Cucubritacae: squash, melons, cucumbers, calabash, and luffa. In this video I walk through the process of differentiating male and female flowers, and eventual hand pollination using Cucubrita maxima v candy roaster: North Georgia Candy Roaster.

We also have some seed of this rare squash available, just ask!

Those Slimy ‘Shrooms: Hygrophorus flavodiscus

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When I first started learning about mushrooms, I found myself under the tutelage of an amazing mushroomer and teacher; ripe in his years, he had spent many seasons in the fields and forests, walking along roadsides, kicking over ‘shrooms as a hobby. After retirement, he had gone on to volunteer for the state poison control department offering help in cases of mushroom poisoning. He was also an excellent artist. He has, of course, since passed, but he did not go without leaving me with a wealth of information.

These Yellow-centered waxy caps, Hygrophorus flavodiscus, were some of the first really distinct mushrooms I found in mass quantity that I was quite confident of in my identification. Of course, before I cooked them all up for dinner, I wanted to verify with the master. I emailed him pictures of the ‘shrooms, the spore print, and detailed my identification, then said something to the effect of, “I can’t wait to cook them up!” His response was typical: “Well done on the ID, but why would you eat that?”

H. flavodiscus is covered in slime. That shiny coating in the photograph is not dew, rain, or melted frost; it is slime reminiscent of a wet slug, and as they like to grow under hemlock trees, they are often coated in shed needles and other detritus, but this did not stop me. I spent hours that night, scraping the slime off with a paring knife and foolishly rinsing them under the faucet. When I had finally cleaned my bounty, I cooked them up and had a heaping mess of something edible, but certainly not worthy of the preparation time. I emailed my teacher back, confirming that, in fact, there is no reason to eat them.

Later that fall, when I was out ‘shrooming, I went back to where I found them the first time, and could not help but pick more. (It is a compulsion.) I had learned a bit about cooking mushrooms since I first found them, and I had also dabbled in raising slugs as food. Slugs, like snails, are edible and when cooked thoroughly, are quite safe to eat, but they have that same slimy coating as these waxy caps. You can remove the slimy coating from a slug by dropping them in vinegar, or you can use the slimy coating as something of an egg bath before rolling them in bread crumbs and frying them up; H. flavodiscus would prove to be no different. Rather than spend hours cleaning and preparing the ‘shrooms, this time I picked the debris off, rolled them in bread crumbs and fried them up. They were delicious and still remain one of my favorite foraged fare.