Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Salad: In Memorium

A sad thing happened just now. I went to my three beautiful lettuce plants to grab some leaves to make a salad. Well, when I was trying to pull off a leaf from the middle plant, the scrawny one, the stalk snapped, which made me very sad. So, naturally, I pulled ALL of the leaves off of it and made a big salad, pictured below.

Goodbye, scraggly runt middle lettuce plant.  You may have been a bit stunted because your brother and sister shaded you out all the time, but your leaves are delicious, and your stalk is making fertile soil in my compost.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lettuce Update: Day 62; & Tomato Update: Day 28

I haven't posted pictures of my plants in a while. The tomatoes started to germinate about a week and a half ago, and to avoid root complications I pulled all of them but one. As for the lettuce, I've made a salad or two from the lower leaves, which are delicious. The lettuce plants are going a little crazy though, getting a little leggy, because it is still rather hot in my house. About a week ago I planted a new crop of lettuce seeds, and two of them have popped up, so hopefully those plants will not get so out of control since it is starting to cool off, and my swamp cooler is starting to work a little bit better.

Here are the pictures:

My baby tomato plant.

The plant on the left (yes, there are three lettuce plants in there) is the one that is very leggy and sad looking. It is hard to tell, but the plant on the right is doing quite well. The one in the middle gets shaded out too much and is not so great. But, I've eaten leaves off of each plant, and they are all delicious, if sometimes a bit wilty.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Donate to My Land Fund!

I have added a "Donate" button from PayPal. I know this is probably a bit presumptuous on my part, so I am writing this post as a sort of FAQ to explain why you might want to consider donating to my Land Fund. Keep in mind, the Land Fund is going to be used for what is explained below, but ultimately it is about implementing my Strategic Goals I discussed in an earlier post. In the long run, every dollar of the Land Fund is being used to realize those goals, most importantly goal #3 in the post linked above.

Q: What is the money in the Land Fund going to be used for?

A: The Land Fund is going to be used mainly for buying the land of the homestead. The first thing I need to do is find land that I can put my homestead on. I currently have a decent amount of money saved up, but it is not enough for a sizable enough down payment. Most parcels of land I have been considering are about 40 acres, and run in a ballpark between $70,000 and $100,000. I will probably want to put about 20% down, so this down payment makes up a sizable portion of the Land Fund.

Q: Why should I help you buy private property?

A: You shouldn't if you don't want to. I am already saving a good portion of every paycheck I make and adding it to the Land Fund, and will continue to do so until I have what I need, even if no one donates a cent. If, however, out of the goodness of your heart you feel like helping me save up for my land purchase, every dollar brings me a dollar closer and a day sooner, so to speak. Also, not all of the Land Fund is going to be used for the purchase of the land my homestead will be on.

Q: Well what else are you using it for?

A: The down payment on my land only represents a portion of my Land Fund goal. While it is the largest portion dollar-wise, it is equal to some other things importance-wise. I will most likely be purchasing raw-land for my homestead. This means I will have to build structures such as a domicile, a tool shed, a barn, etc. I may also have to have a well dug, and I will need to buy supplies to begin capturing the rainwater that falls on my land.

Q: Domicile? You mean you want me to pay for your house too?

A: Not at all. In a previous post I discussed a workshop I want to attend about building structures out of cob. The title of the workshop is "The $1000 House!" Most of the house is made out of cob, and requires very little in the form of traditional building materials. These important but not prevalent building materials will also be purchased with my Land Fund. Until the cob house is built, I plan on living out of a tent. If you don't like the idea of donating to the down-payment on my land, please consider it donating to the "Kyle spending less time living in a tent fund."

Q: Actually, I kind of like the idea of you being stuck in a tent. Is there anything else this Land Fund is going towards?

A: Yes. Aside from being used for the land purchase and building structures, the Land Fund will also be used for anything I need to work the land. I will use the Land Fund to purchase some mature trees that I can use to begin my food forest with production in the first year, as well as other varieties of plants for the garden. I will need plenty of tools to build permaculture irrigation, plant those mature trees (as well as other plants), build garden beds, etc. In a(n organic) nutshell, anything I need to modify or improve the land to make it more suitable for growing organic crops will be purchased with the Land Fund.

Q: You've convinced me that the Land Fund will be used for good and not for evil, but can I specify how I would like my donation to be used?

A: Absolutely. I will be keeping a detailed record of all the donations I receive, with information about who sent me the donation and how much it was. I am doing this to make sure I can thank you properly once my homestead is operational. If you would like to include instructions for how you want me to use your donation, please send an email with your instructions to landfund at permiehomestead dot com. (Sorry for the funny formatting, I'm rather protective of that email address from spam because of it's association with the donations.) I promise to honor your wishes to their fullest reasonable extent.

Q: Fullest reasonable extent? What do you mean by that?

A: It means that if you instruct me to use your donation to purchase a door painted hot pink with a painting of Britney Spears on it, I'll put it towards buying a normal colored door. I think you get the point. If it is a very unreasonable or an inappropriate request, or one that does not live up to the Permaculture Ethics or my own personal ethics, I will promptly refund your money, and thank you for your time.

Q: What else are you going to use the list for? You're not going to sell my information are you?

A: No, I hate spam as much as the next person. The only information I'll receive is the information you provide to PayPal, and I promise to guard it from all ne'er-do-wells like it was my own child. I will post your name, city/state, and donated amount (i.e.: Kyle W., Tucson, AZ - $1,000,000,000,000) in a Hall of Fame style post somewhere on If you prefer to be anonymous, I will replace your name and location with anonymous, but still show the amount. Every single donation will be included on the list, no matter how big or small.

Q: Ok, you've convinced my you're going to use my donation responsibly. What are the donation increments?

A: You can donate any amount you want to. PayPal charges me a minimum fee of $0.30 for any donation as a processing fee, so any amount under $0.60 will be giving half or more to PayPal instead of me. But, if you can only donate $0.50, I'll gladly accept the $0.20 I get out of it, and I will include your full donation of $0.50 in the list, not the amount I ended up with. Obviously, the bigger the donation, the less it is impacted by the fee, and the more it helps me, so please give generously!

Q: I would like to help you somehow, but I don't have any money I can donate. Is there anything else I can do?

A: As I mentioned earlier, I will need many types of tools, building materials, and plants to get the permaculture homestead up and running. If you would like to donate tools, building materials, plants, seeds, or anything else to my homestead, please email me at and we can discuss what you have in mind.

Q: Is my donation tax deductible?

A: Honestly, I don't know. I do not yet have non-profit status, so I couldn't provide you with a 501(c) number to use for a tax deduction. However, I know there are ways to donate up to around $11,000 to an individual and use it as a tax deduction. You would have to ask your accountant though. For those interested, I do eventually want to become a 501(c).

Q: Why is your FAQ so darn long? This is ridiculous!

A: It's long because you took a lot of convincing! But seriously, I want potential donors to feel comfortable and confident that their money will go to a good cause. The third permaculture ethic is "Share the Surplus," and if you share any surplus with me I want to make sure I use it responsibly. If you ever have any concerns about how I am using your donation, please email me at and we can discuss them. If I cannot alleviate your concerns, I will be happy to return your donation in full if you so request.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Simple Living

Several years ago, I thought up what I called the "caveman" diet. I figured we had evolved to eat certain things, in certain quantities, and that's what I should be eating. My basic idea was that if I couldn't picture a human being eating it 20,000 years ago, I shouldn't be eating it today. No processed foods, no cheetos, no sodas, no other manufactured stuff. Just raw fruits and vegetables, chunks of meat, stuff like that. I thought about it a lot, but didn't ever follow through on it, partly because that kind of food is expensive and I didn't have the money, and partly because I had bad eating habits that I didn't put enough effort towards breaking.

Cut to present day. I found a website about a technique called "The Primal Blueprint." This is basically my diet idea, but blown up to a full-on lifestyle, and of course written better and more thoroughly than I could have ever hoped to do. I don't think I'll endorse too many other blogs with this blog, but this one deserves special attention I think.

So what does this have to do with my homestead? Well, the blog post title says it all. Permaculture (in its most pure form at least), and my permaculture homestead in particular, are part of a movement towards simplicity. Most of the ten blueprint guidelines listed in The Primal Blueprint are things I will HAVE to do on my homestead. I won't list all of the guidelines in my blog, because I think the people at would rather you visit their site, and I can't fault them for that, but all the guidelines definitely fit into the permaculture lifestyle, and with the simple living lifestyle as well. I recommend this blog for anyone trying to simplify their lives, investigate their diet, or just plain lose weight (like me). I'll keep you posted if I read anything else interesting from them.

Finally, this post serves as sort of an introductory post to my thoughts on simple living. That concept is also something behind my homestead idea, though I haven't voiced it very much so far. I will give a brief run-down of my thoughts on it here, and expand later.

I went on a weeklong backpack trip to the Grand Canyon in the middle of October last year. When I came back and had to work my way back into the hustle and bustle of modern life, I was a little overwhelmed. Work was too fast for me, driving was too fast for me, and dealing with all the stuff my students threw at me was way too much for me. Life in general seemed like too much, and it took me at least another week to adjust back. I started to discuss this with some of my friends and colleagues, in particular the art teacher at my high school, Porter. Porter had attended a primitive technology conference, and experienced many of the same feelings I had experienced upon returning to "civilization." I came to realize that I felt happiest when I'm out on a backpacking trip, working hard, carrying a heavy pack, and generally being physically miserable. And that coming back to air-conditioning, comfortable chairs, fast people, faster food, fast life in general, I was less comfortable than when I was giving all of that stuff up. There has to be something to it. Backpacking has come to be my symbol for the simple, primitive lifestyle. And I kind of think about the internship I want, and my homestead in general, as a long-term, or possibly life-long, backpacking trip. I hope I can find the joy in simplicity on my homestead that I find when I'm out in the wilderness on a backpack.