Episode-1315- Listener Calls for 3-7-14 — 33 Comments

  1. Topic Time Markers

    [7:04] The Year 1315*
    [15:07] Will our foreign wars ever “end”
    [24:09] Questions on the dead simple fodder system
    [30:59] [Michael Jordan] All about bees, allergies, getting stung and more
    [43:38] [Steven Harris] The sad death of great batteries
    [49:16] More uses for okra – follow up from Monday
    [53:33] Tasty adult beverages from maple sap, yes, fuel no
    [1:09:28] [Ben Falk] Thoughts on building a permaculture nursery
    [1:00:21] Building houses from concrete
    [1:26:20] [Steven Harris] Building a methane digester just for the fertilizer*
    [1:29:21] Sealing a pond with bentonite not dolomite
    [1:35:34] The evolution of our education system continues
    [1:48:23] [Darby Simpson] The role of beef genetics in beefs flavor
    [2:00:02] Zoom functions on rifle scopes
    [2:08:08] Starting Osage Orange from seed

    * – Added by me

    If you’d like to thank me, please consider sending me a bitcoin tip, but please don’t feel obligated to. The address is 1NT4uiDUBtQ5yjeQM4PbastdURpdkBZ5o7 QR Code.

    • So I watched the video. I know exactly zero about Star Trek, so I looked up the Prime Directive. What does this have to do with the episode?

      I actually enjoyed the video even without the additional context. I enjoy mulling over the overly complex moral/ethical questions, because they’re the MOST realistic, and some of the most common we experience in our days.

      When I read up on the Prime Directive, it made me laugh because an RPG on PS2 that I finally got around to beating, about 4 months ago, is centered around the prime directive (go figure, I had no idea they pulled the idea from this). Star Ocean: Till The End of time, is the RPG i’m referring to. Yes I gave it away that occasionally I (and the wife) still play video games, but generally only the thought provoking ones.

  2. Will foreign wars ever end ? – NO .. there’s a conspiracy involved here

  3. Concrete homes are durable and very low maintenance. As a child I lived in two story concrete home. It was cold in winter and hot in summer. Forget about knocking down walls willy nilli for renovation projects. We had not AC.

    Would I build a concrete home, yes. But I’d choose well the type of concrete and insulating materials.

    • All I’ve got to say is Japan. There really isn’t much more to say.

      The whole island is made out of concrete. Most of Japan is a humid jungle in the summer time, and freezing butt cold in the winter time.

  4. Hook, Line, and Sinker! I was hoping to get an answer from Ben AND you for the Nursery thing. Thanks for the answer. There’s a lot of interesting things to think about in that realm, and I’m just starting to research how to go about it, realizing that it’s a multi-year marathon not a seasonal sprint. Since you have a leaning toward the business side of things, I was hoping that that angle would get some of the discussion, too.

    I was, however, hoping I could tempt you to talk about Hops, Jack. Are you you planning on growing some for your homebrewing? Any thoughts on varieties or placement on your homestead??

    Also, I’d love to hear a show about thoughts on how to start and run a nursery. Your point is well-made, too, about how if you want a specific plant, it doesn’t really matter where you’re buying it from as long as it’s a healthy plant. I’m getting a small plot this year to start growing some things, so I might try some smaller scale genetics experiments to get the learning process going!

    • Hops is continually quoted and cited in permaculture as being a really good crop to grow. Its in the designers handbook, I’ve heard Geoff talk about it, its a popular/important medicinal plant, if I’m not mistaken it can be used as a fodder crop. It’s something I’m interested in eventually getting into, however, its just kinda low on my priorities at the moment.

      A lot of permaculturists who have a “nursery” do it as a side business that just makes a little money here and there. Growing and adapting species to your climate dictates you’ll have to start and grow a lot of plants. At this point in my adventures, it has been the funnest part, even if its slow. An example of this was propagating hickory trees. Didn’t find too much online about it, and what it said was that it would take months and months to germinate the seeds. Soo….. I said “F It” and just tried it myself. I found 19 hickory seeds (end of the season) at my uncle’s place, soaked them in water, then put them in small pots so I could see when their taproot would come out (that comes long long before their top part). I germinated 15 of the 19 in less than 15 days in the Fall! Now most of them have broken soil and have some big leaves on them, very cool and much more satisfying than growing something like vegis.

  5. According to my allergist, bee venom and yellow jacket venom are totally different things. Yellow jackets and honey bees are not closely related at ALL! Honey bees’ closest relative is the ANT! (Think about a queen ant who is flying off to mate. Ants and honey bees are related! Yellow jackets and bees are not related, in spite of both having wings and yellow stripes. Or, so says my allergist)

    As long as my allergist was testing me as part of the process to get me only desensitizing shots for grass, he also tested me for honey bee venom allergy and yellow jacket allergy: I ONLY! reacted to yellow jacket venom! So he cleared me to keep honey bees, and for many years I did just that.

    I think I got stung perhaps an average of once a year while I worked my hives: when I got stung I got a normal reaction of local swelling and pain, which was followed by itching. I found ibuprofin to be helpful as it is an anti inflammatory as well as a pain killer.

    As I worked my bees I used to remind myself to move gently by saying “I am not a bear. I am not a bear”. If a large, dark living creature opens up a hive and bangs things the bees think you are a bear and want to eat them and their babies, and they react VERY badly! Bees resent predators around their babies as much as a human does. Using smoke distracts them because they are not very smart, but if you bang things around like you are a bear then you will catch their attention and you do NOT want that.

    So, it is a good thing that yellow jacket allergy does not mean a bee allergy! Though, the allergist did warn me that yellow jackets are closely related to hornets, and it is very possible that I would be allergic to hornets as well. We did not test for hornet venom allergy as I had no interest in having a hive of hornets in my back yard.

  6. Thanks Amy for the out line…

    Terri, it is great to see what u have reractions to. All bees are different. And sting…..honey bees are just the more toxic verity.

    And good for u on the bear thing… Slow, and bee friendly. Love that

  7. More toxic? Less toxic? I do not know. I just know that I react to some things but not others!

    The allergist told me that the price was similar it he tested me fora few other things as well: I am also mildly allergic to peanuts, celery, chicken, latex, milk, eggs, and some other things. When I say “mildly allergic” I mean that I do not have an allergic reaction unless I eat too much of one of those foods: I can eat a piece of chicken and I often do. I just know know not to eat chicken 3 times a day or I will feel pretty darned sick!

    My strongest allergy by far is to grass. Because it is hard to get away from grass I did not know that I was allergic to the other things as if I had allergy symptoms I always blamed the grass. NOT!

    Allergies are funny things. My peanut allergy does not bother me much, but my grass allergy gave me the highest allergy numbers possible on the chart. Now that I have had the desensitizing shots the over the counter allergy meds work very well indeed, so I am happy!

  8. OH! Michael, I enjoyed hearing you: you know far more about bees than I do! I would like to get back into bees but the weather in my area has been so terrible that the bees are struggling! o I have put it off a bit.

  9. Welcome to New Hampshire, Mike! Were you at Liberty Forum? I was just discussing this Wednesday with the owner of a local, legal, licensed micro-distillery in Nashua. He distilled fermented sap as an experiment and obtained a couple pints of spirit. (The still is a hybrid between a pot and column still and the heads and tails are cut. The methanol in the heads can be used to make biodiesel.) He didn’t seem very excited by the result, so I didn’t press for details. He said it had a slight flavor and would be better suited as a base for additional flavorings like more maple syrup to make something like Cabin Fever. Or, it can be charcoal filtered to make vodka. The distillery makes a whiskey in charred oak micro casks. I could ask how maple spirit would turn out after aging, if he still has it. (no pun intended:-) I even asked about the energy expenditures of distillation as compared to making syrup or concentrating the sap to the specific gravity of wort. Perhaps the sap could be used instead of water in the wort. He could tap trees in the parking lot and feed the sap lines straight into a barrel, if the landlord is ok with it. That would be a good marketing advantage. Sorry, I don’t have more details, but I could ask if you would like to know more.
    Amy-thanks for the time markers. I just noticed them. Very convenient! I’ll send this to the distiller with the time. Thanks!

  10. To the guy that commented on the strange taste of grass fed beef…its not solely genetics that influence the taste of the meat its the feed as well.

    We are often so used eating heavily standardized feed lot beef that we have forgotten what beef used to taste like and it can taste “wrong” somehow if your not used to eating it .

    Standard cattle raising practices produce a very mild tasting uniform beef by design.

    Grassfed beef on the other hand will tend to have a stronger”beefier” flavor.

    Think of kinda like switching from only eating rather bland Walmart factory farmed tomatoes to eating homegrown heirloom tomatoes.

    Your gonna notice a rather pronounced diffrence in the taste of the recipes you use tomatoes in.

  11. Regarding Jack’s comments on permaculture vs assart farming plots of the 13th century, I think we agree here. Certainly the crops grown on those plots have a lot to do with how vulnerable the Europeans were regarding changes in climate (and volcano eruptions). My point was just that at the edges of forests (as you have pointed out in the past) exist natural systems that create a lot of fertility. This is proof. In fact… Jack… you are FREAKING AWESOME in pointing out that grains are the problem! That is true in more ways than one as you will see when we get closer and closer to the Black Death.

    My personal opinion (backed by only a few facts and a lot of conjecture) is that this dependency on grains comes from the Roman practice of “FREE BREAD AND CIRCUSES!” That practice was continued into the Justinian period of 527-565. Emperor Justinian was bogged down in supplying free bread to the masses. Because of this he built massive granaries and took tribute from Egypt in the form of grain. Generally northern Africa was the grain basket of the Byzantine Empire at the time… but it all fell apart and went to dust because…. why?

    The Justinian Plague. (primarily bubonic plague)

    The Plague originated in Ethiopia (probably carried on the fleas of gerbils) traveled to Egypt, transferred to rats and the rats were carried with the grain into Constantinople (present day Istanbul). They all died because of welfare, Jack! Justinian himself survived but just barely.

    I don’t know when they stopped the “free bread” allotment but it couldn’t have been much longer after the death of Justinian because I know the grain farms in North Africa fell apart after that. (No one was left to farm. Everyone was dead.) Frankly, they weren’t giving away a lot of bread but there was an expectation of it and it created the habit of including bread in their diet.

    So… good one, Jack. I had a feeling I was missing something and you pulled it out of the hat.

    Thank you.

    • FYI… my remarks concerning the Justinian Plague are my own conjecture supported, in part, from my reading of Chapter 3 – The Winepress of God from the book, “Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease” by Wendy Orent, Free Press, 2004.

      It’s a great book and relevant to today. She discusses bioterror and American prairie dogs and it scares the living snot out of me. Luckily prairie dog fleas are not a problem for humans but having Plague exist in the prarie dog population is frightening.

      BTW, the last major outbreak of Plague in the United States was in the 1900s in San Francisco… 113 deaths. There was another outbreak in Los Angeles in the 1920s. As I recall my reading 31 people died but I’d have to search for an exact quote. I tried skimming through the book I have and I can’t find it right off the bat.

  12. I am a nurse, and we can now treat the Black Death. There are still a few deaths most years- mostly in desert areas as packrats carry it also- but we can treat this now.

    • First, let me say that we all see that Plague is not sweeping through the population in America. So… as I respond, keep that in mind. Plague isn’t THAT contagious… at least not in America.

      The book “Plague” by Wendy Orent talks about Plague designed to LAUGH at antibiotics (a bioweapon), but the natural versions of plague can be treated if you get to the doctor quickly enough and the doctor recognizes it as plague and not influenza.

      There is plague in the prairie dog community (and probably ground squirrels) yet it is difficult for the disease to jump to humans. Otherwise we’d be seeing it more often. One guy who was studying Plague in p-dogs had his own daughter handling the diseased p-dogs and she was bitten several times by fleas. No problem. There was a problem when an assistant was skinning a p-dog and cut herself.

      Plague is transferred in a number of ways but I suspect the reason why it isn’t worse in the USA is because of our basic habits of cleanliness and our intolerance of fleas. It seems to take a lot of bites to get Plague from fleas so if we are on top of the flea population in our own homes we are apparently OK.

      Also… FYI… don’t shoot a slow-moving prairie dog or ground squirrel. Slow-moving means diseased in some way. Trapping can also be a problem. But it can’t be much of a problem. I don’t see people dropping dead left and right.

      Here is a link to an article about a drug-resistant strain of Plague…

      Drug-resistant plague a ‘major threat’, say scientists

      And here is a link to the scientific paper supporting that article…

      Multiple Antimicrobial Resistance in Plague: An Emerging Public Health Risk

      The reason that I am talking about Plague is because the Great Famine of 1314 will last for 7 years followed by a smaller famine and is going to set up the European population for the Black Death around 1348. It’s not just one thing that is going to kill them. It is going to be several things one after another.

      But, yes… if the doctors catch it quickly enough they can cure you… if they recognize it as Plague…big “if” and if they catch it soon enough (also big “if” and if it isn’t the really bad kind… not that big an “if” in the USA, but if you get that kind, there is nothing that will save you… nothing.

      Let me look that up…hmmm… if you get bubonic plague you are lucky. That can be cured. Something like a large boil (bubo) forms around the groin area, usually. It is also mentioned in the Bible as “hemorrhoids” but this is a euphemism. (I Samuel, Chapter 5:6 “But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and He destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the borders thereof.”)

      If you get the pneumonic form you are pretty well hosed, mostly, because once you get so far that you notice that you are coughing up blood, it’s gone too far to treat but those you’ve exposed can be treated. Luckily, pneumonic plague is rare and requires certain conditions. One lady had pneumonic plague, went to a day care for two days and then took a trip on a train. She eventually dropped dead (while taking antibiotics but the wrong kind) but no one else got it. Pneumonic plague is highly contagious but those kids didn’t get it. Wrong conditions.

      Septicemic Plague… say, “Good night, Gracie.” You might last the day. But this is the rarest form of the disease.

      14% of plague victims die even with antibiotics. Some are disfigured but live.

      Please check this out if you are an expert. I want your opinion. I am not an expert. I’m reading this stuff IN BOOKS. That is like learning how to fly a plane by reading books. I really want to be corrected but I’m reading this stuff and it’s feeling real scary.

      I’m looking for reasons why it was bad, bad, bad in the 1340’s and not bad right now.


  13. Just a note on the maple sap question: the ratio of sap to syrup is actually more like 40:1, not 10:1, which means that it makes even less sense to make fuel from maple sap than what Jack was talking about.
    I wonder what maple mead would taste like? Use maple sap instead of water to mix with the honey in mead-making. Has anyone tried this?

    • Saphouse Meadery makes several Acerglyns though it seems they use syrup, not raw sap:
      Correct on the 40:1 ratio. There are a lot of variables affecting the sugar content of the sap.
      BTW, Birch sap can also be used in beverages. I don’t know the sugar content, but birch sap also contains xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is used by some in the Paleo movement as a sweetener. Beware that xylitol is poisonous to dogs. Cheap xylitol is produced from GMO corn in China. Stay away from that and get genuine birch xylitol. It can cause GI distress, so use moderation, especially at first.

    • I am willing to try it the mead. I am not sure what style of mead making will work…I will look into it.

      I have made fuel from honey…it takes way to long to make and you need a lot of honey to get what you need to make fuel.

      • When I listened to the question/answer, and read these comments I’m left with “we should just realize how absolutely cheap and unbelievably spectacular oil is and realize that such a product takes eons to produce.”

        The way I look at the question/situation is mostly that we should scale energy usage to the most appropriate obvious usages and design our lives around them. If you’re in need of making energy using anything, really other than oil (of all types) you’re probably in need of a lifestyle (or mental) change. Maybe a little methane for here and there tasks.

        The wife and I were watching a classic Samurai mini-movie series and it had a waterwheel in the background, and all I could think was “man I wish we lived on a hill side to have a constant stream of moving water”. Now THAT’s energy…

  14. Yes! I would love to hear a show about the ways to start a permaculture nursery. Specifically any recommendations on how to do it on rented land where it not possible to install permanent perennial plants. (Untill i get my own land) Owning a nursery was my dream as a teenager, and I lost that as life took over. Time to take that dream back.

    • Wow really? What was your background that might have lead you to want to do that?

      I wanted to be a professional skateboarder / dirt biker, eventually leading towards a professionl musician.

      Now? I am looking to start selling plants in about a years time. =) I’ve got my initial stock going right now, need to get it in the ground, and get involved in “advanced” propagation techniques next year. I’ve done the easy stuff already with some good success, like taking prunings, dipping it in rooting hormone and just putting it in a pot. Red Mulberry? 100% success. Blueberry? Success. Elderberry? Success. Also some via seeds as well. I have pawpaws, hickories, Hazelnuts, grapefruits, black locusts and mimosas going from seed right now. I also have satsumas and trifoliate orange started, but still haven’t seen any results. (The outer layer has to rot off first).

  15. If you know you will have a serious reaction to a bee sting I would advise against raising bees, but if it is just an allergic reaction I wouldn’t worry too much. I started four hives last year and was stung three times. One was from moving too fast and not paying attention, one was after I had irritated the bees in the late fall when they are quicker to react and I knew a few were mad at me and I had taken my gloves and veil off, and one was when I was just peeking around the side to take a quick look before leaving (with my veil off) and I was stung.

    I have never been stung when wearing a veil and gloves. That is typically what I wear, but sometimes I will put the full suit on. Definitely wear the veil. The rest is up to you. In summer I have a hard time putting the suit on as it gets quite warm.

  16. With regards to the concrete house. Up here in Canada we have a product known as ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms). They look like giant styrofoam lego blocks that are hollow on the inside that you pour concrete into. They are great because there is very limited thermal bridging, no gaps for air to blow through the walls, the concrete mass is insulated on both sides so it can stay at a fairly constant temperature.

    On the beef issue, I was raised on a small cow-calf operation where we had standard commerical cows. We usually bought cows out of the auction (a hybrid breed known as super baldies,a red white-faced breed). We stayed away from Herefords as they are known for their foot and calving problems. But from my experience the greatest determination on taste is their feed. Alberta is known for its beef because it is finished on barley. That helps it give it a white color in the fat, whereas corn finished beef has a yellow fat aka marbling. Beef slaughter weight is considered 1250 lbs and the usual age for a slaughter animal is 18 months in a standard commercial operation, so I agree that without grain or silage feed that you would not get them to standard weight. We usually slaughtered the runts for our home consumption at between 800-900 lbs at that age. The older an animal is at slaughter the tougher the meat is.

    Most producers of cows that are for breeding stock do not feed their cows grain as they do not want them to get too big too fast. We would give them grain just before/after they calved to give them a boost of protein/nutrition that might have been lacking from their hay.

  17. Jack,

    you forgot to add the rifle scope discussion in the episode breakdown.

    It was great and informative and I bet some missed it.

  18. One thought on bees that I had while listening. If you wanted to have bees around, especially for pollination, and had the room but didn’t want to mess with them… Maybe get a deal going with an area beekeeper who has more interest than room for his bees? Don’t know if you could find someone but you might. We live well outside the city and all their rules and regulations. My wife is quite allergic so isn’t thrilled with the thought of me keeping bees myself. But… If I fenced off a little area, laid down enough mulch to keep the weeds at bay and a safe distance while mowing, I’m thinking an arrangement like this might work. hmmm…