Just WHAT exactly is an emission, I ask!

What does it actually mean, “cut emissions”.  I understand the words themselves, but how does that translate into something in my day to day life?  What is the nitty-gritty reality of how I need to emissionsreformulate my life, my lifestyle? Like normal human beings, I want my cake, and to eat it, too.

Not This OR That, but This AND That

It’s especially funny when you consider the dichotomy of today’s media that regurgitates non-stop messages that are in direct contradiction to what we are being told we need to do, to ‘save’ the world.

It’s like saying ‘breath, but don’t breath’… or’ eat but don’t eat’ via TV, radio, internet, billboards, almost anywhere you look.  Those “hidden messages” are there… CONSUME to grow the economy, else there goes someone’s job (and corporate/wall street profits)… but “cut emissions” to protect the environment/slow-reverse global warming.

The reality is, that this is more than just “carpool” or don’t BBQ on certain days, or don’t run small engines (lawnmowers, blowers).

Greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-economic-sector-IPCCWhere do those fantastical magic “emissions” come from?  Well let me tell you, not just from cars and small engines!

Try the clothes you wear, the couch you sit on, the computer you compute on, the books you read, the food you eat, etc., etc., etc. Just about everything produces emissions… somewhere.

Most of it elsewhere; out of sight, out of mind…. I don’t feel guilty because I don’t even connect the two.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Buy a new top? Do you need it? ‘just love those colors, that style, Jane has one, I’ll look so cool’, etc.

But what if it translated to a death? or serious health issues?  Because mom, working in the 3rd world factory, to produce ‘your discretionary purchase’, gets sick from the fumes of the machinery she works on 12 hours/day. Or triggers asthma in the surrounding populations of children from the particulate matter so thick in the air, they have to wear a mask to go outside?

But it’s just a top…. just one.

Yep… some 1 million ‘just one’ do tend to add up, though. The reality is the particulate matter index that is objective, coldly, unflinchingly real.

OK, bring it closer to home. I love seafood. We’re loosing a dramatic portion of our seafood ecosystem: shellfish (oysters, clams, shrimp,etc) because they are having problems making their shells.  The ocean waters are becoming acidic at a rate 10 to 100 times faster than ever mapped. Ocean core samples tell us 65 million years ago was the last time the oceans were so acidic.  The ocean ecosystem needs a bit more than just a 50 years to adjust to such a dramatic change in their world. (By the way, the ocean plankton produce 50% of the O2 we breath!)

The oceans absorb and hold 50 times as much carbon (CO2) as the air.  Shellfish can’t make their shell’s in water that is too acidic. Those that already have shells, find that their shell is dissolving. In a human being, an acidic change like that in our bloodstream, would cause seizures and death. Such a simple little thing with some really, really long term consequences.

We have to reverse the trend,  but because the acidification has already been put in motion, it will take a while.  Think of a rock that goes over the edge. Once it goes over, it’s pretty dang hard to get it back. In fact, you don’t. You just wait till it get’s to the bottom and deal with the consequences.

MY BACKYARD

Let’s bring it really close to home.  Remember that top you purchased?  Now it comes time to wash & dry it.  Did you know there is NO SUCH THING as an energy efficient electric dryer?  That term is called an oxymoron; two words joined that mean the opposite of each other.

solar array countryWhen we lived off-grid for 4 years I had to learn to pay attention to some little details.  How many watts did it take to run something. Our advantage was that it was solar that powered our setup, so outside the production & transportation of the solar array, it was now emission neutral.

But we lived on a “budget” of watts that were available for use. A tiny inefficient college refrigerator “cost” almost as much to run as my super energy efficient french door fridge! Amazing.  It paid to look at the “details”.

A laptop.. 40.  Crockpot… 100. An iron… 1,000.  An electric dryer…4,000.

The real day-to-day choice is, do I hang that top up on the clothesline to dry or toss it in the dryer?  If I hang it up, will I need to iron it? Just how many watts am I using? (watts = emissions, generally, unless you have solar panels). And come to think of it, how often do I need to wash something, really.

Here in sunny California, with our ongoing drought, I suspect one of the most significant things we can do at this point (having already done the usual conservation measures) is to REDUCE the amount of laundry we do.  It consumes water and energy. Lots. Moving water creates emissions.

In our current society of plenty, we wear something once, toss in the laundry.  Washer & dryers were touted as labor saving devices when they first arrived on the scene.  But people increased the number of things that went into the laundry such that there was no ‘extra time saved’ because you had more to do. More to do = more emissions. More water used and more emissions to move the water, to get to you.

WHAT IF?

What if you did something wild and crazy… like purchased fewer items, picked more durable fabrics,energy cloth use wore them longer, wore them more frequently.

What is the net result? Any impact on emissions? Take the challenge… reduce your wardrobe, increase the wear time between washing, hang it on the line to dry.  Can you see the domino effect of that simple change in lifestyle?

Jim has two sets of jeans… one set for office work and one set for farm work. Now the office work jeans don’t ever really get what I call dirty. EVER. They get crinkled.

His farm jeans… OMG, they get so much dirt/crud on them, they could almost stand up by themselves. Wash something when it really does need it. Otherwise, air it out.

I remember as a kid, when I had 2 pairs of shoes. One pair for church, one pair of tennis shoes for everyday wear. If I needed something nice, it was the church shoes that got worn.

REAL PRICE? 

Price, and having the ability to pay it, is not the only consideration anymore. What are the other costs that we are asking others to pay?

Is it something actually, definitively needed? or just “wanted”?

See… Wall Street, Public Relations, Media, Psychologist have gotten very, very, very good at their “business” of appealing to our wants, in order to fund their profits.  On the surface, it just seems to be about having the dollars to pay for something. But it is the “something” they are telling us we should want/have/desire/deserve to have regardless of the real price being paid. Never mind those other “costs”, they don’t concern you.

One of the best books I read in high school, was called, “The Hidden Persuaders”. Originally published in 1957, The Hidden hiddenPersuaders by Vance Packard, was the first book to show how the manipulation practices that have come to dominate today’s corporate-driven world began. It has been re-released, and now features an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller, revealing how advertisers use psychological methods to tap into our unconscious desires in order to “persuade” us to buy the products they are selling.

If you listen to a commercial today (we rarely do, thank you TiVo & the fast forward button on the remote control), there is seldom any real information; it’s all a sales pitch with little relationship to reality. “You deserve this”, “This will make you more appealing – people will like you”, etc. Even supposedly factual information is slanted to convince you that this will be good for you somehow.

They are never ever looking out for my interests, it’s only about profit. Period.

TAKING IT BACK

But I can take all that back.  I don’t have to buy into the ‘game’.

Some years back, we stopped (heaven forbid) celebrating Christmas, the commercial Xmas.  It was such a joy and relief. We had quiet time together.  We actually enjoyed visiting with family and friends.  It stopped being about the gifts and the crazy-making circus that went with that.  Now, we don’t have little ones, and we will buy gifts for the children. But limited in scope/dollars.  It no longer runs the show.

Media tells you, “you need this and that” but do you really? Or is it just so you can spend your life paying them their profits? at the expense of real connection; talking, sharing, working together, playing, etc.

IT IS POSSIBLE TO MAKE CHANGES

Our current lifestyle styles have created the long-term problems that will effect the whole world.  It’s time to reverse that process. A world based on consumption i.e. producing emissions, is headed toward extinction. The only real questions is do we want to go down that path. If not, then now is the time to make thoughtful choices. It all begins today.  I think it begins with the a simple question, “Do I really need this “fill in the blank” to live? Followed by, “And is it worth the price others might have to pay?”

Take a close look at how you define the word “NEED”, and is it a substitute for need for approval, need for status, need for competitive advantage, need for control”? It will tell you a lot about who you really are compared to who you “think” you are.

The best thing you can do is to try and lower how much carbon dioxide your lifestyle produces every day. You have heard the phrase, “Recycle, repurpose, reuse, reduce”. Begin to consciously integrate that into your lives and gently suggest & model it to those around you. Change in our culture starts from the ground up, in your home, inside our families.

You may well find a world more satisfying and real.

Who takes care of them when your not there???

It’s a common question. WHO takes care of them when you aren’t there? In this case, our two horses. Jim always looks at me with a twinkle in his eye, as he replies, “what makes you think they need taking care of?”

treeBeing on the farm, usually just 2-3 days a week at this point in time, the horses are on their own. Most people want to know where the barn is, as well, and are taken back when we say, “Hmmm, we would never put them in a barn! We like our horses healthy. We DO have some awesome trees for them to stand under, though.”

If you consider the nature of a horse, it makes better sense.

FRAME OF REFERENCE

Jim’s reply is telling.  It’s telling because it reflects our frame-of-reference which tends to be a bit different than the current traditional mode.

In the past, on our 65 acre ranch, we fenced the house & garden in, and let the livestock pretty much run free. (It’s a little different on our 5 acre farm, but the principles are the same.)

A side note: Well, except for the miniature milking goats…  but that was partly because they were such appetizing morsels for the local coyotes & bobcats, and the fact that they would work hard to get INTO the garden instead of utilizing the acres of pasture available to them. They were kept confined and when I had to make a choice between the Jersey Milk Cow or the Miniature Milking Goats, Bessie’s 2 gallons/day won out easy over 1 cup/day of goat milk.

Bessie, the cow, came out way ahead in productivity compared to the goats. On top of behaving herself, by utilizing the pastures and leaving my garden alone, she provided the basis of some awesome pastured products: butter, cream, ice cream, whipped cream, and cheese.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t a tough decision, choosing her over the goats. Made Jim much happier, too!

CREATING PROBLEMS for yourself (and more work!)

But back to the horses.  We believe in working toward decreasing one’s work load and working with nature as much as possible. So often we humans create a whole series of problems, by not understanding natural processes, that we then have to solve.

Historically (one of my favorite words), i.e. for tens of hundreds of thousands of years, horses have managed quite well on their own.  In the last 10,000 years we took them from ranging on the land, fending for themselves, and put them into tiny boxes.

In those enclosed boxes they are exposed continually to noxious fumes (from the ammonia build up from their urine & the dust it combines with), and unable to travel the miles and miles that kept them in good shape,  wearing their hooves down naturally. They tend to be fed diets that are too rich for their confined existence & minimal exercise. They would easily travel 20 miles just to get a drink, in nature, while grazing on grasses.

PREDATOR or PREY?

Out in nature, If they are “spooked”, they run.  They run for at least a quarter mile, and then will stop to look around to see if they are ok.  They have survived by running first, then reassessing, as horses are prey animals… other things would hunt them down, so they only feel safe/OK within a herd, as there is safety in numbers.  Humans often isolate them and keep them from interacting with each other, which increases their stress levels.

A horse, give a choice, will choose to stand under a tree, in the rain, rather than go into an enclosure. We have seen that over and over. Horses & cows… will choose to stay outside, as a rule of thumb. It gives them the option to run, if they feel threatened, decreasing stress levels. They just need to have protection available to them, from wind and available shade. Trees work quite nicely, thank you kindly, as well a providing access to good ventilation.

MANAGED INTENSIVE GRAZING (MIG)

Pasture for livestock

Pasture for livestock

Their normal diet includes a broad range of forages (grasses not grains), including access to trees & shrubs (leaves) to supplement their diet for micro nutrients they need.

We do supplement, when needed…. because we don’t have the acreage to fulfill their ranging needs.  Ever notice that almost all horse enclosed pastures are stripped down to the dirt?  It’s called over-grazed and basically strips the soil of it’s natural cover.  We seem to think it’s suppose to be that way and that it’s OK. It most definitely IS NOT.

Jim & I have learned a bit more, since being on that 65 acre ranch in 2005-09, about pasture/soil/land management. It’s all a learning curve and I have to say, we’ve been doing a heck of a lot of learning. At present, we are beginning work on creating our “managed intensive grazing” setup (MIG) on the farm in Cotati.

Livestock confined in a space will go eat what they like FIRST, then move on to the less appetizing, less appealing stuff (sounds about right!). But as soon as the forage they value begins to grow again (from the root’s reserve), they take that next bite of their favorite tasty morsel, which kills the plant. It had no time to rebuild the root’s reserves.  When no reserves are left in its root system to regrow it’s solar panels (i.e. leaves), the plant dies.

Over a relatively short period of time, the only thing left alive in the pasture will be the least desirable plants (to the horse).  And in desperation, they may even eat the nasty stuff till nothing is left…  and they are left standing around waiting for “man” to bring them food.

With MIG, we will create small paddock areas where they will only have access to forage briefly.  They will take a bite from everything available because they won’t have the leisure time to pick and choose. In a well designed system, you would have several species follow in order, as they all tend to eat different forages, so you get maximum use out of a pasture, without allowing it to be degraded.

TRADE OFFS

People say, well doesn’t that take a lot of time? Actually NO, not in comparison to the alternative, and it keeps the forage & soil & livestock in excellent condition, as an added benefit. It conserves water.

Stored hay, for the off season

Stored hay, for the off season

Otherwise, we would have to buy off farm feed/forage, haul it in, store it, haul it out to the livestock, make sure they share, and deal with stripped bare soil/dust/mud.

Much easier to just open an entrance to new pasture and have the cows/horses/chickens, etc., move themselves.  They get to spend a day or so there, and then are offered a fresh paddock.  They are kept from moving back to the prior used paddocks by a single electric tape line (that they highly respect!), which allows the forages to regrow, protecting and maintaining healthy pastures.

It’s so easy, even older kids and teenagers can do it… and us seniors!

FOR NOW…

Currently we are not setup properly but we know where we are headed, on this farm property. Now that we have the well drilled, we need to get some irrigation in, rebuild the soil & forage quality & diversity, and create our MIG pattern.  The neighbors cows ranged the land for years and have stripped all the quality forages from it.  We have to do a bit of work to reverse that.

Presently the two horses are allowed to range freely on the acreage, utilizing the trees for shade/shelter as needed.  They are building up a nice stockpile of fertilizer for us to use in rebuilding the nutrients in the soil (and spreading it around themselves for the most part)! But soon they will be introduced to MIG, and restricted from over grazing the forages we will have introduced.

Right now they are stripping out the less desirable stuff, right before the California rains should appear, to facilitate the growth of the new pasture forages. In case this severe drought continues, we now have access to water to get the forages going.  As we rebuild the quality of the soil (humus) and keep it covered with forage, it will naturally retain more water as the humus percentage increases, decreasing the need in the future for ongoing irrigation.

RETURNING TO THE PAST, it’s easier by far!

Bell eating, Lady

On the Cotati Farm, Bella (head down) & Lady

Our 2nd horse, Bella, came to us just recently.  I swear she had not been in a free-ranging pasture for years.  She immediately raced out to start grazing, and I don’t think she lifted her head from the ground, for more than 2 seconds, in the first few days she was on the farm.

Lady & she bonded, but bonded with Bella’s head to the ground grazing! It was a pleasure to see her start to race around the pasture acreage as she stretched her “wings”.

So, who takes care of the horses when we are not there? They do….

and they do a fine job.

The REALLY Big One

It was a silent tsunami in Japan that was the telltale sign of the ‘the really big one’, off the coast of the USA.   It was the beginning of the construction of a nuclear power plant that put things in motion.radioactivity-sign-nuclear-power-plant-19146173

Way back in the ancient days (1970’s I believe) when tectonic plate theory was firmly accepted, the Northwest Coast (Washington & Oregon) were assigned a low seismic rating because there had been no earthquakes in recorded history.  (Well, western recorded history!)

In the ’80’s construction was begun on building a nuclear power plant along south of Puget Sound, in the Coastal Range…  

Only, there was this law that said you had to do a hazard’s review.

Now the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, pronounced Whoops!), knowing that there was a sub-duction zone 30-60 miles off shore,  claimed it did not have dangerous earthquakes, it had “creeps”. Micro-earthquakes that took the pressure off the fault line.

The review was dropped into the lap of Thomas Heaton of the USGS, who had no idea of what the risks might be (he was located in Southern California).  He decided, in something this big (a nuclear power plant), he needed to play the devil’s advocate… and actually LOOK for previous earthquakes, before the 200 years of recorded western history.

We humans are such funny creatures, as we consider ourselves to be incredibly intelligent, and yet we insist on believing the world we live in right now is how it was and will be, negating natures ongoing attempt to disillusion us from that fantasty.

THE RING OF FIRE

ringNow the largest known earthquake EVER recorded, 9.5 occurred in Chile in 1960, devastating 600 miles of the coast frontage (5700 people died). This was the equivalent area, only below the equator, as Oregon/Washington fault zone, along the ring of fire.

Four years later, a 9.2 hit Anchorage Alaska area, above the Oregon/Washington fault zone. Between the two area, a silent zone that expelled it’s energy via “creeps” instead of “quakes”, at least according to WPPSS. This was where they wanted to build their nuclear plant. The arrow points to the zone in the ring of fire that was supposedly “different & quiet”.

FAULT ZONE LOCKED

In actuality, research showed Heaton, the creeps were not even occurring.  Heaton was concerned that the “zone” might actually be locked up, and instead building  pressures toward a huge release.  Had it ever happened in the past? i.e. geologic past (decades, centuries ?) Where to look?

First, indigenous peoples… what stories did their oral histories record. YES, they did tell of a time when the waters retreated for four days, and then returned to submerge the Cape & the surrounding high areas, until only the mountain tops were above water. It was days for the waters to retreat.  Tribal members who had canoes where able to escape the rising waters but were carried for away, according to the story.stortell

Estimated dates ~ time frame for the oral story to have occurred:

1657-1777 “…there was a big flood shortly before the white man’s time, ….a huge tidal wave that struck the Oregon coast not too far back in time… the ocean rose up and huge waves swept and surged across the land.  Trees were uprooted and villages were swept away.  Indians said they tied their canoes to the top of the trees, and some canoes were torn loose and swept away… After the tidal wave, the Indians told of tree tops filled with limbs and trash and of finding strange canoes in the woods.  The Indians said the big flood and tidal wave tore up the land and change the rivers.  Nobody knows how many Indians died.  Beverly Ward, recounting stories told to her around 1930 by Susan Ned, born in 1842.

1640-1740  “These are stories from my grandfather’s father (born c. f800) about events that took place four generations before his time… over 200 years ago” “…the land shook… a big wave smashed into the beach.” Chief Louis Nookmis, age 84 in 1964

1690-1715 “My grandfather saw one of the old women (survivors) who had been left alive.  She had been hung up on a tree, and the limbs of that tree were too high up.  So she took her pack line and tied it to a limb, and then when she wanted to go down by means of that, she fell; she was just a girl when she fell from it.  Her back was broken from it (she had a humpback thereafter).  That is what she told about the raised water.”  Annie Miner Petersen, age 73 in 1913

To document the reality, digging was begun, to look at the soil structure beneath the surface.  Sure enough, several feet down beneath the soil was a layer of sand that extended several feet down. Below that, there was a sharp delineation line where a layer of pure black peat was found.

What did that mean? Sand brought in by a tsunami and below that, the black peat was the coastal terrain/swampy area that was above water before the incident. Sharp line means it happened quickly.

TAKING A CLOSE LOOK 

Brian Atwater (USGS) took over the search and more extensive research was done.  An excellent review can be found in Chapter 1 of “The Earth in Turmoil”, by Atwater written in 1999.earth

Researchers found similar layers almost wherever they looked, up and down the coast.  While the earthquakes may not travel far in distance side to side (to the east), they did travel north/south!  Just how big were these quakes?

Land research was followed by core samples from the seabed just offshore, the continental  slope, to look for “debris” patterns indicative of earthquakes/tsunamis.  Six such patterns were identified quite quickly, indicating a history of significant earthquakes with tsunamis. The last one, close to 300 years ago.  The exact date?  They went to Japan, who of course, kept excellent records for a much longer period of time than the newcomer westerners knew of.

Searching the records, Kenji Satake revealed a “silent tsunami”. A tsunami that occurred without an accompanying earthquake, which matched the data from the Cascadian Quake timeframe. The tusnami that occurred equated to the date of January 26, 1700 around 9pm in the evening, in the range of a 9.0 earthquake along the Cascadian Fault line.

By now the idea of building a nuclear power plant had gone by the wayside.

ESTIMATED M9.0 EQ

mms

The estimated 8.9-9.2 Earthquake was slightly smaller than the Chilean Eq of 1960 & the Alaskan EQ of 1964, but in the expected range & comparable to past EQ’s. Further research showed there have been at least 12 giant EQ’s in the last 7700 years, occurring on average between 230-700 years apart. Not exactly an everyday occurrence, but nothing to ignore either!

Another tidbit that came out was that the Cascadia Fault Zone seemed to trigger off the San Andreas Fault as well. EXCEPT for the 1906 SF EQ, the major EQ’s along the Cascadian Fault appear to trigger EQ’s along the San Andreas Fault Line.  Hmmm, nice to know.

The Cascadian Fault zone runs from Vancouver B.C. all they way down to N California @ Cape Mendicino, 1000km (630 miles).

Below that is the beginning of the San Andreas Fault line that runs the length of California.090827.Juan.de.Fuca.EQ

The Cascadian Fault Zone is where the Juan De Fuca Plate (JDFP)  is subducting (which lies just west of the west coast) under the North American Plate… It will eventually disappear completely under the continent, as the Pacific Ocean is shrinking. The Pacific Ocean Plate will then meet up with the North American Plate. Juan de Fuca Plate is a remnant part of the once-vast Farallon Plate, which is now largely subducted underneath the North American Plate.

We have a few islands, called the Farallon Islands named after that disappearing plate, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge entrance. On a clear day you can see them in the distance. They used to be the mountains on the coast to the west of the San Francisco; coast line around 10,000 yrs ago, now submerged with only the peaks showing as islands today.

The Farallon Plate has almost completely subducted beneath the western portion of the North American Plate leaving that part of the North American Plate in contact with the Pacific Plate as the San Andreas Fault. But the two plates are shifting past each other, instead of the ocean plate being sub-ducted under the continental plate as it is in Oregon/Washington.

SUB-DUCTION VRS TRANSFORM FAULT

Cascadia Fault: subduction means one plate is being forced under another & can trigger tsunamis; creates active volcanoes, mountains (Cascades)

San Andreas Fault: transform fault means two plates are sliding along side each other , also called strike-slip, they don’t make or take away land, they just shift positions (north-south). Thus tend to do much less damage unless, of course, you build a major city right smack on top of the fault line!

Yes, LA will move up next door to SF, some day… talk about a crowded neighborhood!

I vote to move away from the actual fault line (remember California EQ’s damp out really, really fast)…. and localize resources so that disruptions in transportation will not cripple one.

TAKE HOME POINT

The next “big” one in terms of distance & destruction ~ EQ & Tsunami will probably be based off of the Cascadia Fault Zone and trigger the San Andreas Fault.  If it just triggers a segment of the zone instead of the whole fault line, we may get off light with just an M8.0 EQ, unless it affect highly populated areas. 

The Hayward Fault in Berkeley-Hayward is long overdue, but while disastrous, will be relatively localized.  Heavily populated with people & businesses it will, still, have far reaching effects.

“Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.”   Will Durant (1946).  How true…

rf2-cascadia-subduction-zone-usgs

Oregon/Washington Cascade Range (mountains) & active Volcanoes are a result of the          JDF plate being sub-ducted under the North American Plate.

Rockin’ & Rolling California Style known as: 6.0 EarthQuake

I LOVE California Earthquakes… all except for that gut-wrenching panic fight-or-flight instinct that kicks in after the first 5-10 seconds. Mind you, most EQ’s here don’t last all that long; a bump, a jog, a shift.  Heck, when the washer would kick in the spin cycle, in my mom & dad’s fancy travel RV shaking the trailer, I’d have an automatic panic reaction thinking we were having an earthquake… then I’d realize what was going on.  Perhaps that has de-sensitized me a bit.

That and having experienced the ’89 SF EQcypress2 in which part of a double decker freeway & a segment of the Bay Bridge collapsed. 36 seconds of undulating concrete walls and rippling pillars in the hospital dungeon where I was working (in the basement L&D unit).

As bad as it was, we just had some cracks in the wall, some supply carts that dumped their goods. My husband, a patient in the hospital, went for a ride in his hospital bed as it rolled back & forth, post surgery.

We were only 25 miles away from where some of the major collapses occurred, a 6.9 EQ (officially known as the Loma Prieta EQ). Basically, very minor damage.

OTOH, after that experience, when I went back to college as an older adult to update myself, first thing I took was a class on Earthquakes & Volcanoes. Being a transplant from Texas which deals with floods, droughts, dust storms, and hurricanes; I figured a better handle on more likely california disasters would be useful. Us nurse types like to be prepared!

Here is a question for you. Where has the most serious earthquakes occurred in the USA? The REST of the story….

5 Times MORE Promised, than is There – Water

OK, so drilling a well for water has put water on high alert for me. I see “alerts” everywhere. Of course, it’s in the news because 98% of California is in a “exceptional drought condition” alert.

Endless Supply...NOT

Endless Supply…                      NOT                                               Other states have experienced, and are still struggling, with water issues

But this takes the cake. Really.

It takes some doing…. promising 5 times more water to people, than is even there, in a normal rain year. That’s what the latest California water assessment just published, showed:

“For 100 years, California’s State Water Resources Control Board and its predecessors have been responsible for allocating available water supplies…

Here, we present the first comprehensive evaluation of appropriative water rights to identify where, and to what extent, water has been dedicated to human uses relative to natural supplies.

The results show that water right allocations total… 

-  approximately five times the state’s mean annual runoff.

-  In the state’s major river basins, water rights account for up to 1000% of natural surface water supplies…”

Researchers from UC DAVIS & MERCED, released the results of their in-depth study, and it is truly mind-boggling what the actual details reveal.  These researchers present us with the reality of what the results of past management has been. Read Abstract~whole article

We already know that the allocations were made on unrealistic expectations due to heavier-than-normal rainfall, for the last century (according to tree ring & other research going back hundred/thousands of years).

But still, FIVE TIMES the usual rainfall, in this century? Talk about creating a no-win situation.

TEN TIMES the surface water (rivers, lakes, streams)???

If we don’t get serious now… hey, literally, that bottle of water WILL be the new gold.  You can’t eat or drink gold so it’s value will trade places with how we value water these days.

CADILLAC DESERT: American West & It’s Disappearing Water 1986

Cadillac DesertReminiscent of the classic work, Marc Reisner‘s book, Cadillac Desert (1986), which delved into the history of water use in the American West.

The UC Study illustrates the hard outcomes of past decisions, that we are facing in our current era.

If you haven’t read it, and use water in any form (clean, dirty, ice, irrigation, food, drink), in my opinion you should be required to read it for a better understanding of something, we in the ‘developed world’ take for granted, and should not.

I say that, not because, I want to be judgmental but because you truly do need to know what your future reality is going to be based on. It’s useful to know how we got there. The ‘human factors’ that we need to confront because as human beings we need to recognize our “flaws” and find a work around, or they will become our fatal flaws.

The book is a fascinating read. The promo reads, “It explores the triumph and disaster, heroism and intrigue, and the rivalries and bedfellows that dominate this significant chapter of American history. At the very least, this book should be required reading for every high school student in the Western United States.” and its true.

It is a key to understanding how these states obtained the water that transformed them from deserts to oases and encouraged multitudes to move westward. Even though it was written many years ago, it is a timely reminder that western water resources are not limitless. By reviewing what was done in the past perhaps we can learn how to better utilize this precious resource in the future, especially now as the Western States are experiencing extreme drought. With the forecast reading, “more of the same” don’t you think that would be the smart way to handle it?  

We need to seriously reorder how we use the water we do have. Here are two interesting charts:

(click on any picture to get a larger version, that is more readable)

cropVsWaterValue bottled water vs tap water

If it takes more than double the amount of water to produce grapes, than most of our other fruits, is this a wise use of 98% of our farmland in Sonoma County?

 I think it is time to start making some rational decisions of how we use our resources. Perhaps we need to give tax breaks to those who produce useful lower water consumption crops?

Or look at this chart: To be honest, I had no idea of these numbers, and I hate to look closer. What adaptations do we need to start thinking about?

waterProductsWeBuy

Western WATERSHEDS ~

this is one of the most stunningly beautiful maps I have seen, and the information shared in it is priceless.  I couldn’t believe this was done in the 1880’s. It shows where the water that falls, drains to, naturally.

powell's watershed districts

Perhaps it is time to implement the suggestions made along with this map, after the first assessments were made of the western watersheds (a recommendation sidelined in pursuit of other interests).

California’s use 170 gal/day/per person on average. But that number dramatically varies depending of industry (farming takes more); wealth (large lawns, landscaping, no money worries), and climate (cooler coastal regions don’t use as much water.WATERUSE gallons 020914

Each watershed area should manage water allotments for the water they actually receive (i.e. not amounts but a percentage basis). Instead of 1 million gallons you get 1% of whatever falls, the previous year. Period.  You can choose to store it to even out the years but you can’t be guaranteed more than what is there. Water flows in specific directions; reduce the energy outflow to move it to other areas.

You can’t steal from others (those around you, or the future)! Crying that your ‘need’ is greater than other’s (or will impact more jobs, or the food supply, etc) is just an excuse to try and get someone else to bear the burden.  Have we become a nation of “whiners” always wanting someone else to bail us out? 

San-Diego-County-Water-Supply

It’s an insane system that is doomed to failure, that is built up on unsustainable promises.  We can begin to adjust now, or crash & burn.  It is time to back off our current system and begin to deal with the realities. Our current system has encouraged the development of land, businesses, and population growth that can not be sustained.  San Diego had enough water for 800,000 people; it now has a population of over 3 million. How do we deal with that reality? 

POPULATION OVERSHOOT

It is the “doomed discussion” ~

Population Growth

Population Growth – where are the limits?

not to be talked about!

but it underlies EVERY single problem we face. Population overshoot.  

We love our freedom to have as many children as we wish. We love that freedom so much, that we apparently are willing to condemn our children themselves, to a world of starvation.  

We no longer have ‘new ecological niches’ to move to, in order to handle our expansion (or to kick other people out of).

Carry WaterWant a closer look at that world we are creating? try africa, or rural india, rural china… populations in the billions (or soon to be at the rate we are going).  

Never mind the problem of not enough jobs, their won’t be enough food/water, so that problem will be solved.

Painfully.

My heart weeps.

A PLACE TO START ~ California water fight

It is critically important to educate ourselves as water issues will be a major battle this upcoming year. With a $7.5 Billion Dollar plan on the ballot, we will be hit from all sides, to choose a specific path, from those with vested interests (not necessarily the Main Street Man’s interests). Corporations, who’s only goal is to make money anyway they can, don’t care about the future much, and certainly not about the quality of that future.

A democratic society, i.e. one that makes decisions by vote, need to be educated about what they are doing. Not just swayed by pretty pictures, sad stories, or persuasive rhetoric…. which is in essence, letting someone else do the thinking for us.  

Thus we need to decide: aim toward making an educated realistic decision, or will we let someone else present us with a nice illusion, and in the future, we suffer the real consequences. It’s come down to the wire.

Where to start?  How to educate yourself fairly easily? In this day & age, it is ridiculously easy. In the Information Age it’s more about sifting through it to find unbiased, realistic information rather than pipe dreams.  

I caution you to be aware of “self-delusion bias” or “confirmation bias”:

that tendency we all have to only believe in data or information that supports what we want to believe, and to discard (devalue, explain away) those things we don’t want to believe.

  • Don’t take my word for it; start looking at reports (just look at who writes them and consider what their vested interest is)
  • Take a look at Cadillac Desert; it has stood the test of time, and research is proving out it’s predictions (check the library, or get a used copy)
  • Watch the series on Southwest Water history; Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature is a 1997 American four-part documentary series about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature, distributed via PBS (unable to locate – see the youtube video clips)CadillacDesertFilm
  • YOUTUBE Cadillac Desert  Click here: Cadillac Desert
    Water and the Transformation of Nature (1997): Part 1:  Dream, Part 2:  An American Nile, Part 3: The Mercy of Nature, Part 4: Last Oasis
  • Take a look at the research report just released: accèss to full article Read the full abstract and look through the whole paper.  

SEND ME links you think are good to share,

via the comments section, so others can benefit!

Looking for the NEW California Gold… part 2

wellDiagramIt was time to start digging. Dig deep.

We’d talked to neighbors and area well drillers about what they had on their land, and what had been produced, in water wells.  An Indian Casino had gone in less than 10 miles away, that farmer’s were worried would suck all the local wells dry.

Neighbor’s were only getting marginal water (low flow and poor tasting, iron-containing staining water) in the 150 ft range. So some issues to consider.  We didn’t want to tap into water that would draw down our neighbors, draining them dry of the little they had.

Ain’t Cheap, That’s for Sure!

At roughly $60 a foot, it would be very expensive to drill.  $6,000 for every 100 ft.  The well driller recommended 200ft. and estimated we would get 35 gallon per minute (GPM). At that flow rate we would not have to put in extra equipment for fire backup. Of course, a total guess based on who knows what, but probably to give us the lowest possible estimate to get a well in. And NO, no guarantees. But, they could get the permit and be ready to drill in less than a month.

(Our first well drilling venture, in Hopland 2005… it took us three years to get a water well drilled! Need I say that we learned a few lessons along that road!)

This well drilling estimate looked good except that it did NOT include actually getting any water out of the ground… which would require a well pump, power, lines, etc. Whole other issues there.

Great folks to work with, Peterson Drilling (in business for over 50 years).  Showed up on time, knowledgeable and willing to discuss the whole process. If you know me, I was in hog heaven! Someone who would explain their work and the processes involved. 

They brought in close to a million dollars worth of equipment (today’s costs to replace the equipment) to start to

Drill Rig setting up

Drill Rig setting up

drill.  Before they began, raised an American Flag to the top of the drilling rig. American business doing real work producing something.

Over four days, they sunk the drill bit through layers and layers of various soil textures.  Along the way they took samples of the “spoils” coming up, and built a pattern of the different layers underlying the property. Some layers the drill bit moved through quickly, other’s it just crawled.  The operator making notes along the way of each change he observed in the “spoils”.

Often you could just “hear” the change in the drilling process to know that the underground terrain had changed. Think about it, you are going back hundreds and thousands of years as you move through those layers.

straining the spoils

straining the spoils

Scientists have taken the drill logs of over 8,000 different drillers, through out California, to build a picture of the underground layers and see the story they tell.

Building a Picture of the Underlying Layers

For us, the first 50 ft were sandy loan, perfect for growing crops. Well drained. This area had been an old flood plain so sedimentary soils had build up over time. And then we hit a clay layer, a creamy beige layer followed by a dark blue layer of clay.  The drillers called it “blue clay” and said it came from an ancient swamp land that had decomposed.

Clay ~ blue, white, beige

Clay ~ blue, white, beige

Blue clay is a “plastic layer”, a layer that water can barely penetrate. Instead of water moving many feet a day through the soil, this layer effectively blocked movement. Limiting it to 1-3 millimeters over a timeframe of a 100 years.  Water under this layer is basically ancient water that is not being recharged  The layer above this was the layer my neighbors had been, and still were, in.

Water “spaces” collapse

The problem with the soils & water withdrawals?  As water was removed, the soil particles compacted in and stuck to each other which prevent water from being reabsorbed into the soils, assuming it could even get there. (Maybe by pumping excess water back into the ground during the rainy season?)

We kept going deeper.  I did not want to be in a water reservoir that the neighbors were drawing on. We needed to go past another clay layer (i.e. through the bottom layer of that upper water reservoir).   A lower level would be a ‘contained’ reservoir, blocked from moving up by the clay layers above it; we would not be pulling out any of the water in the upper reservoir they were located in.

Boards stacked with Layers of Spoil Samples

Boards stacked with Layers of Spoil Samples

We hit the 200 ft level. No. Not far enough down.  

Good water bearing rock should be gavel-like in texture, some sand is ok, but small rocks are better.  Allows water to collect in the spaces and not as likely to compact down and prevent future water movement. Still no sense of any good layers of water bearing material.  Driller said, “I’m sure there IS water; how much or the quality? I have no idea.”

Keep going… I named 300 ft as the end point.  Somewhere between 200-300 feet we needed to find the right texture make-up of the layers.  I had to leave… couldn’t take the watching & waiting. I just knew I had committed our limited resources to the edge. We either got a return on it, or not (if we didn’t or if it was just minimal, it would severely limit what we could do with the farm land.)

Besides, I figured it was the ol’ boiling water figure of speech…. watching it wouldn’t make it happen any faster.

It was the middle of the 3rd day.  They would finish drilling and then start pumping water INTO the well to flush it out, and see what we would actually get.

Flushing the Well with Water

I came back. As I drove up, I could see the well head gushing water out.  They had placed a black tub on top to direct the water downward into the mini-drainage canal they had built at the start, to channel all the “spoils”.

Water, water

Water, water

Asking the driller how much longer they had to flush the well before we would know how much water we would get; he laughed, “honey, that’s not water we are flushing the well with, that IS  your water coming out.” I was shocked, stunned… on the verge of tears, actually.

I had prepared my self for a dribble,  3-4 gallons a minute that with a storage tank, you could get by on.

confined by upper & lower levels of clay

confined by upper & lower levels of clay

He was telling me we had a 100 GPM flowing from the well, of good water. No sulfur, no iron, just pristine water.

Ancient water that did not have hormones, antibiotics, industrial chemicals leached into it, protected by the upper layers of clay.

We even had enough water that we would be able to share with our neighbors.

Severe Drought in a Desert State

Why was I so shocked?  Here we are in the middle of the worst drought in California in over a hundred years, and we actually found water.  Turns out in the last 100 feet they drilled, roughly 85 ft of it was water-bearing material.  They hit another thick clay at 307 ft and stopped at that point.

Management becomes the key issue.  And will be an interesting point for discussion. How should water be managed? and why?

Water management in the past, and the future…

Land has dropped 30 ft/50 years

Land has dropped 30 ft/50 years

In the Central Valley of California (Sacrament Valley & San Joaquin Valley, 20-70 miles wide by 400 miles long) agriculture there has resorted to pumping from the aquifers to feed the water hungry farms.  Of course that valley production provides a quarter of the food for the entire country.  Move over one valley closer (cooler) to the coast, to Salinas and farmers produce close to 90% of some crops to the entire US. If you eat, a good portion comes from California farms.

Ground water, for years, has not been able to meet the needs of the industrial sized farms, despite building huge canals and moving water directly to the area.

The largest number of well permits ever issues, has occurred in the last two years.  Wells are being drilled to a 1,000 ft or more, as the surface wells (to 300 ft) dry up.

Land subsidence is dramatic; certain areas have dropped some 30 ft in the last 50 years. In the last 3 years of this drought, the land is collapsing in at the rate of a foot a year; as the water is removed, the land subsides.

collapsing layers as the water is removed

collapsing layers as the water is removed

Because it is becoming compacted it can never again hold water in the volume it has held in the past. This is happening in a relatively progressive state.

Ogallala Aquifer, largest in the USA, is already being pumped dry…

It has already happened in the mid-west where one of the world’s largest aquifer is located. The Ogallala Aquifer, spanning eight states, has been drawn down to a quarter

Ogallala Aquifer

Ogallala Aquifer – spanning eight states

of it’s initial size, in less that 60 years of intensive farming. Estimates mark 2028 as the expected date for the water to be gone.

Water that took thousands and thousands of years to collect… gone.  It would take a 100,000 years, it is estimated, to replenish the water naturally. It recharges at roughly one inch a year; while being drawn down 5 ft a year, in places.

Contamination ~ no way to undo that damage

The other danger? They want to build the Keystone XL pipeline right through the land the overlies the Ogallala Aquifer.  Don’t worry, “we won’t let it contaminate the water” by leaking into it! Right, as if I believe that one. If it happens, it’s something you can’t take back. Is that a gamble you want to take? Just how much DO you trust cost conscience corporations?

It is the time for each one of us to begin to say, it’s enough. It’s time to start thinking and acting sanely.  

You say, “It’s the corporation, it’s big business, it’s someone else’s problem.” But if you drive, if you heat or cool your home, if you eat food… you ARE part of the issues.  It is time to start taking responsibility for what needs to happen, on a local level. If you are waiting for big government to make changes, they won’t until you make it happen.

California Gold, in a Desert State, is called WATER

So I look at my “California Gold” and am reminded of my responsibility to the future… it forces me to consider a broader picture than just me and my “tribe”.  The need to chart a path that builds resilience for the future rather than just doing the traditional “taking” today, for me and mine. Actually, it’s what we all need to be doing, and doing it actively before we have no more choices.

Dang! We found the new “gold”… for California, Part 1

To bring our adventure up-to-date; after we were unable to renew our lease on the hundred year old homestead we were at, we search for another piece of land.

Looking for land

Looking for land, for grass-fed Lowline Angus (miniature beef)

Of course, the challenge in the North Bay Area (north of San Francisco) is buying anything that does not include “an arm & a leg” i.e. lots and lots of dollars.

We watched area sales (2 acres or more) for 3 years (seriously, 3 years) before we came across one possibility that met our criteria. We were looking between Petaluma & Santa Rosa, CA.

Critical criteria for a Land Purchase

  • WATER: It’s not even worth looking at a piece of land if you don’t have good water. Good water meaning, reliable & uncontaminated, and likely to stay that way.
  • CLIMATE: Amenable to growing things, & not likely to suffer too badly with the increasing heat issues.
  • SOIL:  Reasonable fertility without a history of chemical use, heavy traffic exposure (exhaust fumes from vehicles leaving their generous gifts), not downstream from nasty stuff that could come from rain run-off.
  • COMMUTE:  Realistically, we needed to be able to access the “paying job” fairly easy and/or mass transit
  • COMMUNITY:  A farm-friendly area with a community of like-minded folks, would be wonderful.
Morning brings cooling fogs

Morning brings cooling fogs

Our previous venture into farming, by leasing land in Cotati for three years, allowed us get a feel for the area and assess the suitability.  We fell in love with the ‘goldilocks’ climate ONE HOUR north of SF,  (not too hot, not too cold, but just right) with the added feature of minimal humidity. (I’ve lived in the south and dripped through those hot sticky summers already! Been there, done that.)

We learned to use hoophouses/greenhouse setups to extend the season/increase the heat for plants that did need it. Located just 30 min east of the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, provided climate air-conditioning.  (By the way, if you go to San Francisco, don’t leave home without a coat, even in the summer. It’s surrounded by ice-cold water on three sides.)

Seniors don’t tolerate heat well as they age, so we were thinking ahead. Plants need heat, seniors notso much.

COMMUNITY

Sonoma/Marin/Mendocino/Napa counties, in California, are on the forefront of interests in sustainable farming development.  Priceless. Incredibly well educated population with an interest in creating what will be needed for our future. Numerous small startup & ventures into relocalizing our

farm trails
foods with a view to “real” sustainable practices. Working with the soil & it’s microbial life, nurturing it, building it, not stripping it. A community which valued quality, healthy, local foods to support the small farms.

This area has several very active Grange Halls; community groups that work to protect and support the small farmer.

 

OK. we just needed to locate a piece of land, now that we had identified the area/community & climate. With that, we could then look at water & soil quality once we found something.

WOW, was that a challenge.

I scoured the real estate listing. Was on several email boards that would send me a link immediately if something with any land, was up for sale, & I watched Craigslist. Keep my ear to the ground for possible “future sales” coming up.  Those I did see:  98% were not even worth considering. If they passed muster on my criterial list, they were multiples of $100,000’s out of our price range.

Had to think of the future income… being able to live on a pension and make those payments.

EUREKA (california slag for “I found it”!)

Feb/March of 2014 we hit a possible property.  A craigslist post… a foreclosure. Called immediately.

Almost 5 acres, but basically raw land.  No house (or water, or septic/sewer, or power) but had wonderful ol’ oak trees and an old chicken barn that still had a roof and was standing (barely). It had some acres that were perfect for growing hay/forage. Rural, yet 10 min access to freeway.

NO water. When I researched …Hmmm, neighbors on both sides, poor water amount and poor quality (iron).  

We knew the area well enough to realize that this was an old river plain.  Talked with the county geologist/hydrologist who showed us maps of the water basins in the county.  Many areas had virtually no water.  But… the area we were looking at… housed one of the largest & deepest aquifers in the county because it used to be, thousands and thousands of years ago… a flood plain, river basin, swampy area.  We had a good shot at getting, at the least, decent water i.e. 3-5 gal/min for home and 7 gal/min to do some irrigation (crops). It would be uncontaminated water (no hormones, antibiotics, industrial chemicals).

We gritted our teeth and took the plunge.  Pulled together every penny we could, and working with a wonderful seller, made a deal that allowed us to purchase the land.

PRICED TO KILL THE DREAM   Farming ventures in this part of the northern California are

Re-Localizing Quality Foods

Re-Localizing Quality Foods

 

basically priced out of existence, unless you have family land or have hooked in to some special deal. But the average young farmer is significantly challenged if they are trying to start up. Why? If your mortgage is $5000/month that’s a heck of a lot of potatoes to have to sell, and that doesn’t even cover your living expenses.

We learned the hard way that just paying the taxes on land, can be more than you can make by farming. Why are the costs so high? ‘Cause we’re so close to SF & Silicon Valley… where their are still jobs that pay good wages. Those salaries push the prices for land/homes skyward.

Previously, on our first land purchase, a very expensive learning curve, we figured we would have to sell one cow a month just to pay the taxes… but the 65 acres of land that we had, could not support that many cows.

That was JUST to pay the taxes. Rocky hills, minimal pasture (great for a vineyard, not so great for raising crops or livestock). Talk about a conundrum when you are working to “relocalize” your food for community resilience!

We ended up taking a big hit when we sold that piece of land, loosing all of our investment and then some, but we recognized that it was a no-win situation (Crash of 2008-9). We were able to sell the acreage and ended up with a little cash in pocket.

More importantly, we did come out with an awesome education and awareness of things we needed to consider closely, when we did purchase again.

to be continued… “drilling for water” (or sweating bullets)

 

WARNING! Ultra-Pasturized Milk issues

Ever wonder what the difference is in the milk in the store?

 What’s the difference between the brands? and why different prices?

 It is much cheaper to move milk around if you take all the water out!

You take the water out, you take out the water-soluble components in the milk. whole-milk-powder

 

 

Many processors “reconstitute” the milk and then ship it to the store. Except for two producers here in california, all milk is pasteurized. Because the pasteurization process can damage the components of milk, much of that is added back via a chemical additive.  Not always the same thing as the “cow” put out.

Think sweetener: sugar, saccharin, stevia, glucose, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)…  all called sweeteners but all very different. So when they “add” Vitamin D to the milk, is it in the same form that the cow produced, that our bodies can absorb?

whey protein chart The “cheaper brands” take the milk apart and then try to reassemble it as inexpensively as possible, to keep that price low.

I know if you make cheese from commercial milk, you have to add calcium back into the milk!  ultra pasteurized milk can NOT even be used to make cheese.

Ultra-Pasteurized WARNING!

 I’m finding that it is almost impossible to find milk that has NOT been ultra pasteurized (even those called organic).

Ultra, High Tem, Low Temp Pasteurization

Ultra, High Tem, Low Temp Pasteurization

 We have another name for ultra pasteurized milk.

It’s called: 

“white water that lives on the shelf

long time!”

It is “cooked” at very, very high heat which alters the milk, and allows it to not go bad on the shelf, for weeks.

 Think of the difference between a raw egg, and an overcooked scrambled egg. They are NOT the same product, even though they had the same beginning and both can be called ‘an egg’. Heat can dramatically alter the product.

 Organic milk, that is ultra pasteurized, is stripped of the very properties that made it a good buy.  I talked with some dairy farmers who provide this organic milk and asked why this was done. They said that they had NO CONTROL despite being a farmer co-operative. The buyer’s of their milk (processor) did it to make the milk last longer.

 Clove:straussLucky, so far, some local dairy operations, CLOVER & Strauss do NOT ultra pasteurize their milk.  If you want to support local dairy operations here in Northern California, these are two great ones. In fact, Strauss (the glass bottles) does a very low heat, slow process that preserves the components in the milk.

 

Remember the adage, “you get what you pay for!”  Yes, their milk might look pricier but you are actually ending up with “more” for your money.

 (I understand that all Clover milk is organic but they can only “sell” so much at the higher price that they get for it, but much of their “non organic branded” milk can be organic. If you have to choose, this might be a less expensive milk to choose! I have been told this, but can NOT verify that this is true.)

Strauss, also, does NOT homogenized their milk. There is some thought that vigorously mixing the milk and breaking up the fat globules to “homogenize” the milk, actually damages it. Thus you will see a separation level in the milk bottles, without this “forced” mixing. Shake to mix before pouring.  Or, better yet, steal some off that top-level, for cream for your coffee!

Pasture-Butter-325A side note:  If you can buy butter, made May-September, do! 

Several companies are beginning to market it because of the higher vitamin, CLA levels from the fresh pasture. You can freeze butter up to a year. But only butter that is from pastured cows!

Some Economic Beef Background:

I don’t know if you know, but the cost of feed/hay has dramatically increased over the last 5 years.  When we started, hay was $5/bale and now is at $20+/bale.  A lot of this is due to the severe drought conditions in the midwest & south… with everyone trying to “source” hay to feed their cattle.

We’re lucky because our costs are lower since we DO NOT EVER feed grain, and we have access to some awesome pasture on the Mendocino Coast.  We have focused on compact heritage Angus beef that have the genetics to do well on forage only. Our beeves are raised mostly on fresh forage. They are only supplemented occasionally, with hay, to protect from over-grazing.

grass fed lowlines

Ranging the land

 Commercial ranchers in the mid-west and south literally dumped their herds into the slaughter houses last year, because they could not afford to feed them, or even in some cases, have enough water for them.  Herds in 2013 are the lowest size since the 1950’s.

 Initially, prices on commercial beef at the store dropped, but you will start to see a dramatic increase in price (in some places it has already started).

The Heritage Farm – Healthy Food: 

 Again, I will remind you of my “spiel” that grass-fed beef has the Omega3:Omega6 ratio that is healthy for the human body.

Because our beeves are raised on pasture, they will have high levels of CLA’s (associated with cancer fighting properties). See EatWild.com for in-depth information on the positive benefits from eating “pastured products”!

Beef from grasslands is a completely different product than that raised in  a feed lot.  So is the butter, 1/2&1/2, milk.

Anyway guys, hope I didn’t overwhelm you with too MUCH info! But I’ve wanted to share some of this and thought you might find it interesting.

The more I see of the health complications in our world the more important I realize it is to provide quality food. It’s the little things we can do, for our family and friends, to help and to protect them.

Products Available:

100% Grass-fed Angus Beef halves available:  Only have 4 half portions available.  Min  weight: 125# (up to 140#)

USDA processed, cut & wrapped  – Works out to roughly $7-8/lb for 100% grass-fed beef.

Our heritage line of Aberdeen Angus has had no hormones, no antibiotics. They are raised on pristine pasture with their mothers, on the Mendocino Coastline utilizing rotational managed grazing, which increases the health of the soil/forage.

$959/per half, whole $1800. Can be paid in 4 installments.

[Cost by the cut: $7/lb ground meat (NO added fat), stew meat

                        $10/lb roasts, ribs, misc cuts

                        $15/lb steaks        ]

 (Please check Oliver’s or Whole Foods and you will find these are EXTREMELY reasonable prices.)

 But the best deal is to buy a half (join up with a friend and share).

Bulk pricing gets you the best deal, which you already know!

We have already done all the work: birthed, raised up humanely, harvest, & custom cut & wrap.

 All locally done (within a 100 mile radius).

- ready April 8th.

CONTACT:

email me if you are interested in a beef half.

Also, we have just got our order of USDA heritage Berkshire hog pork in.  Again, no antibiotics, no hormones, raised in an outdoor setting.

 If you want: pork chops, ground pork, apple-sausage links, bacon,ham, or back-fat to make lard, let me know. Back-fat lard is awesome for cooking and seasoning beans, stews, etc.

I can send you a price list.

Cheers!

Amy

Holiday Disaster has struck!

‘Tis the Season…      I went to pull out my supplies for making my traditional Christmas gifts.

Time to get ready

Time to get ready

To defuse the Christmas giving extravaganza, several years ago I decided to reframe my approach as things were just getting totally out of hand.  I wanted to reframe my approach to Christmas… back to something that a glimmer of meaning.

1) It needed to be personal (anyone can spend big bucks to buy something and yes, I’d love to do that, but just don’t have enough big bucks in my back pocket these days)! Who needs the stress… who made that rule, anyway. (Oh wait, I remember, the advertising media!)

2) It needed to be useful (something that could actually be used, not just looked at).  People have so many “collectables” that they are falling off the shelves and/or gathering a boat load of dust that cries out “I’m a failure” at keeping my house clean.  No need to add to that scenario. I want MY friends to actually LIKE me, not tolerate me. I’m envying my friends who have mastered the “enough is enough” and de-cluttered their homes!

3) I wanted it to be something that I created.  I have this terrible habit of collecting stuff to make things in the future. Unfortunately it tends to be, the distant future.  I just keep acquiring; but the “doing” is a little behind schedule. Uh, about a hundred years at this point!

Fabric is my downfall (well, … right after books) … the colors, patterns, textures, they all call to me with such appeal.  Then add in threads and fibers and embellishments; my creative brain just goes nuts.   So I MUST have some way to justify buying all this stuff, other than just wanting to be able to touch/look at it, other than to know that it is there if I want/need it. (Some people have comfort food; I think I have comfort books and fabrics!)

Once I master  thinking something into existence i.e. ‘creative brain=finished project’, I’ll be ahead of the game, but until then….

LOVE QUILTING?

25 different fabrics

25 different fabrics

Someone, after looking at one of my homemade quilts said, you must love quilting! “

Actually, NO. I don’t particularly like it, but I DO like the results.  The part I like best is the creation of the design; assembling the fabrics, the colors, the patterns.  The actually “work” is just that, a chore to get done.

Sad to say, I have this awesome box full of completed “tops” that have not actually made into the quilt stage. You know, where you actually assemble the sandwich: the top, the middle, the backing, and then bind it all together.  One of these days I’m hoping to find someone who likes that part (I’ve heard that they are really out there…. somewhere). The only problem would be, WHO would get the finished project???? I don’t know if I could give up my “child”.  Perhaps someone would accept dollars for their labor?

Putting it together

Putting it together

THE PROJECT

BUT, back to my main subject today… the selection of a Christmas project that meets my requirements.

A few years back I decided on pot holders. Who can’t use a potholder. Even those who don’t really cook these days, occasionally need to reheat something, so could use a potholder! And maybe a cup towel if I’m really ambitious (usually planning to do that, but, darn, I always seem to run out of time)!

The other good point about a potholder… I can play with different techniques on a small-scale.  Last year I taught myself how to do

Lattice smocking - not as hard as it looks!

Lattice smocking – not as hard as it looks!

lattice smoking… and turned that into a dozen potholders! Success…. something useful, supplies actually used, and got to ‘design/create’ the item and managed to learn a new technique.  I WIN!

Of course, the last time I went down to visit my daughter she was racing around trying to find the potholder(s) to hang up, that I had given her last Xmas. She found one but couldn’t remember if I had given her two. The trauma… she put them away so they would not get messed up and now she had lost track of them.  Dang it! They are supposed to get used… not stored!

It has been said, the more valuable something is, the less it get’s used.  It’s either that, or it doesn’t quite match with their style! I prefer the first statement, overall.   These days you can buy a potholder from 99 cents to roughly $5, on average.  To make one… well-l-l-l, if you counted labor?  Probably $10 on up.  Like I said, “it’s a labor of love”!  (Love = caring, creative, personal, time, energy.)

Each year I have been able to refine my technique… more heat-resistant, an easier way to hang up (put a magnet in the corner), holds up to washing, and an interesting/different designs  from what you can find in the store.

Fits over the pot handle

Fits over the pot handle

POT HANDLES

This last year I experimented and made myself some pot “handle” holders. They slip over the handle.

Good thing I tried them out on my own cast iron skillets. “what’s that smell?… smoke?”

I discovered that the constant exposure, when they were butted up next to the hot pan, caused them to begin to smolder, and burn!!!!

Oh yeah, a great gift it would make… slow but insidious way to burn your kitchen down! NOT. Well, time to refine that one.

GETTING DOWN TO WORK

A colorful fabric stash!

A colorful fabric stash!

I got my new living space organized; set up a sewing area and pulled out my sewing machine. Dove into my fabric stash, drooling & caressing the fabrics, the colors… Super, I’m set… OMG.

Oh darn, where are those dang cords??? you know, the power cords. The thing you stick into the sewing machine to make it work it’s magic.

Wonderful!!!! have sewing machine on hand, but NO power.

Let me see, three, no, four storage units, where all our “stuff” is stored… and now I need to go hunting for a particular cord, for a 30-year-old sewing machine. Talk about a scavenger hunt… do you know just how much stuff that is to wade through, under, and around???? Bummer…

I have discovered that despite best intentions (and actually getting started during the summer), after our move, that most of this year’s potholder project  is “missing in action”. So much for being organized ahead of time and prepared! yikes…

Hmmm, I think this year, everyone is going to get “stuck” with some homemade blackberry jam. Everybody eats, right!

  Bon Appetite!

yum! blackberry jamhomemade!

Yum! Blackberry jam
homemade!

Aiming for a “real” christmas?

On your mark….

OMG, I walked into a store and was just overwhelmed with the onslaught of possibilities of

Decorate the House!

things I could purchase to create the most wonderful Christmas. My heart sped up!  Decorate the house, the yard, the office…  Buy that perfect, special gift for (fill-in-the-blank) uhhhh, wait… purchase?

The psychology of advertising is incredibly efficient and effective. We have learned the “triggers” that motivate people to do what we want, in the short-term, and have applied that to the science of sales.

Corporations have put in place powerful hooks to sell their “goods” by triggering our psychological buttons.  We want to please, we are good-hearted and like to share, we love to bring something special into someone’s life, we like to make other’s feel good… and the consumer society that we live in, tells us to do this with “things”.

The “REAL” gifts at Christmas

I would contend that the “real” gifts we give at Christmas are about connecting, sharing, laughing, appreciating, working together, creating community. It is about developing a sense of intimacy where people actually care about who you are and who they are.

It is NOT about the “things” at all. They are simply a method that can be used to express something.  It’s when the item/gift becomes a substitute for the real connection that it is actually a detriment. (Did Johnny get more/better gifts??? don’t they love ME as much? kind of thinking).

Purchase…Christmas, hmmm. Every heard of an oxymoron phrase?  Words spoken together that contradict each other. Oxymoron is one of my most favorite terms.

  • Bitter sweet
  • Deafening silence
  • Military Intelligence
  • Living death
  • Irregular pattern

But Practically… How?

We were able to switch, when I was problem solving the gift issue,  to a variation of gift giving. If there were 6 in our xmas group I would buy 6 useful gifts in a specific price range & wrap them. Before I would have spent hours and many miles trying to find “the” perfect gift for “that” person, a near impossible task incurring a significant amount of stress.

Christmas Present – choose one!

When it came time to open presents, each person was able to select one package (unopened). Interesting to see if people were drawn to size? or to fancy wrapping? I got to have fun being creative with the wrapping!  Once everyone had a wrapped package we would open our gift to see what we had.

Starting with the most senior (or most junior) person, we could trade for another gift and continued this until everyone was happy with what they had. (no trading directly back & forth, of course… had to go through a third-party). It’s a variation of the white elephant gift, but it was a LOT of fun. We laughed and shared; discussed possible uses for a gift for a particular person. We INTERACTED with each other. It was a special time that we shared together. Not as in isolation as I opened “my” gift to see what I had scored!

laughter

A huge part of a “successful” Christmas, is the feeling of connection and interaction generated; laughter, talking, sharing, working together on a project. But western culture has evolved to the acquisition of “things” as our focus. Well, selling more things meant work for

I got WHAT?

more people to make things for people to purchase (until those jobs/plants were sent overseas). How to get out of the ” more trap” and yet still have fun?

Some things I purchased: a quality extension cord, flashlight w/solar charger, a tool kit, a book, calendar, a puzzle, etc. iT NEEDED TO BE USEFUL, NOT PLASTIC JUNK, AND good for male or female.

A gift of something real

You could do this several times ($5 limit, $10 limit, $20 limit). We had MORE fun than the traditional open every gift you have in 5 minutes, and then look to see “what else is there” that quickly resolves to “is that all?” Usually opening presents was a rather depressing experience. Too much expectation built up for getting that “perfect gift” which is, in and of itself, a moving target that we often don’t even know the answer to.

We did get each person one “special” gift they had asked for but that was generally the limit.

The challenge is to defuse the “consumerism” overload of the media. DON’T go into the stores and subject yourself to the assault any more than you must. I think it’s challenging enough just to get through the grocery store these days.

Did you say USEFUL?

I know one couple that chose to buy one major thing each year, and then decided to take $25 each (well, that was many years back, try $50) and see how many USEFUL gifts they could come up with, for that Christmas, for each other.  I always waited, with bated breath, to hear who had won that year’s Christmas year challenge: number of useful gifts within the price target! They choose to make the focus on figuring out what would be of use to their partner which meant they really needed to think about what each was doing, working toward, etc.

Each of us will find our own path… to “deal” with the holiday season.  The challenge is to not let consumerism dictate and undercut the values we hold, or desire to hold.

Was there a Void?

When we are brought up in our current culture we start out by not even questioning the norm.  Except, except for that nagging feeling that something is missing.  We’re suppose to feel a “certain” way… but it isn’t there.  Why? what’s wrong with me?

Uh, NO. It’s NOT what’s wrong with you. It’s what is wrong with the way our process has evolved.

Finding what bring satisfaction

Over years, the traditions have evolved subtly,

to becoming more consumerist and it

produces an “empty” feeling, when that is ALL there is to it. That feeling should challenge us to see out what really fills that void.  As we do, we begin to touch on what has value in the long-term.

This season: Figure out your goal, make a list, and stick to it!, is the mantra!!! Become aware of the “media” pressures to push you in a certain direction.

Try this: sit down with someone this holiday season and ask them about their childhood.

Where they grew up? what they did? who had an impact on them? The doors will open up and you will begin to develop a connection to another human being, in a way that matters. And remember, there is no pressure, there is no one  right way… it is simply “being present” that matters.The challenge is to listen and to focus on that person and the world they are from.

Gathering together

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The Ugly American:  After looking at the statistics for this blog site I am blown away at the number of different countries it has gone to.  There is a certain amount of humility in that awareness because I am acutely aware of how incredibly selfish and self-centered americans are. We have so much.  We have so much materially.

It sounds rather tacky to be talking about how many gifts, or how to handle gift giving… when so many in the world will have nothing, or simply having enough food on the table, will be a gift.

In the USA it is a curse for many. The “curse” is that stuff substitutes for connection.

IMO, connection IS what is about. We as children grab for the gaudy wrapped junk, instead of honoring the relationships we develop.

Because I struggle with this dichotomy (Americans have much/many have very, very little) in the past we have chosen a charity to support.  In lieu of gifts, we donate to The Heifer Project: Theheiferproject.org. It fits well with our sustainable farming focus.

sample Catalog page

If you look at their gift catalog, you can choose to help support many different projects (water buffalo, chickens, bees, water, biogas stove, etc).  It’s gift that keeps giving, in many cases.  With livestock and education gifted, some of the offspring are passed along eventually, to others.  It increases awareness, health, nutrition, income, resilience among small communities. I would encourage everyone to find some NGO (non-government operation) to support that fits in with your concerns.

Giving to those you know and care about, is in some senses, not really giving. It’s like giving something to goodwill you no longer want… is that really “giving”?  How about I give away something I REALLY want… a whole different matter.

Contributing to the well-being of those you do not know personally, that adds another aspect to sharing. “Go ye into all the world” in a practical sense… giving something meaningful and of value, to those you do not even know. Isn’t that the real meaning of the “season”?

All the world

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