Episode-1032- Listener Feedback for 12-3-12 — 43 Comments

  1. Hi Jack,

    Question for Jack: Regarding hugal culture (woody beds), is there a recommended type of wood or does it matter?

    We have lodgepole & red fir readily available.

    Thanks for all you do!


    • Pine is a last choice but it will work. The only things to never use are aleopathic stuff that doesn’t break down like black walnut and black locust.

      • Will do. Did a little extra research. The source I found stated alder, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow & birch are all preffered woods. Pine & fir have tanins and reiterated your info regarding aleopathic types.

        We also have tons of cottonwood that will work great.

        Thanks for getting us pointed in the right direction!


        • @ Stephanie – Jmtc but if you have woods around your area, dig into a :natural” hugel bed and see what’s in there. If it works there, it should work where you’re proposing to do it.
          I live in a primarily white & red fir, lodgepole & bull pine, tamarack/western larch forest in North Idaho and that’s whats in the beds that Nature has created. It works for her!
          Also as a side note, when we moved here about 20 years ago B.P. (before permaculture 🙂 ) I had a large area of stumps, trees, dirt etc bulldozed into a big 10′ H x 40′ L berm to create a “pasture” clearing and a shooting backstop. Over the years it has become a thriving hugel bed w/o any input from me, Nature just took its course.
          Hope this helps!

        • @Brian W
          Thanks! That does help. It’s funny how as a parent you explain the life cycle of this stuff to your kids, how it rots,breaks down & replenishes back into the earth for more new growth. Never considered taking advantage of that process for our own garden until now.

          I am third generation from my home town & know the area very well and we had every kind of hardwood like oak & madrone to softer like white fir & lodgepole. Any wood you wanted & huge trees too! We Cut our own firewood & never had to use less than a 36″ bar.

          We have been in western Montana now for just over a year. Love it here but what a difference in wood choices. Or should I say lack there of. So still learning the area but excited about the adventure.

          With great help and good advice like yours, we can’t go wrong. Thanks again


  2. Take a woman’s stocking, fill it with a pound of barley, and toss into a drinking trough overnight. In the morning, pull it out and hang it somewhere where it can get sun, and the dripping won’t hurt anything. Keep it moist by occasionally dipping in the water.

    Toss another stocking of barley in the trough.

    Repeat for 10 days.

    On day 11, feed your first stocking of sprouts, fill it back up, and repeat.

    Total out of pocket: about 10 bucks (If you buy new).

    Excellent chicken feed for the winter, when green things are scarce.

  3. Jack,
    Thanks for answering my question about swales. My letter suffered from my editing but you answered the main points and correctly pointed out that I’m on the fence about which corrective action to take. We’ll see what happens next. Thanks for the response.

    • I would also like to add that Peter Bane makes some specific recommendations for how far apart in elevation to build each earthwork. Brad Lancaster goes into specifics of how large to make each one depending on the slope of the hill.

      Again, not ready to jump just yet. Still doing my homework.

  4. Re: Community.

    Jack described exactly what I did about 10 years ago when I moved to the country. I went to every neighbor in roughly a quater mile and talked to them. Most were receptive. Some were not. I consider myself on good terms with all of them. Even the reclusive ones will give me a 2 minute conversation over the fence.

    Do this. It works.

  5. Here’s some info on fodder growing. Many are starting to do this for their AGH American Guinea Hogs. So info is just flying around. Blog about his Barley fodder room he has quite the set up. some have bought and use this and been very happy with it. Others are saying they will try to do it cheaper. Washington state university extension “barley fodder feeding for organic dairies webinar “feeding sprouts to pigs” they have / sell commercial mini set ups The university of Georgia College of Agricultural & environmental sciences feeding sprouted wheat to cattle -C979 there is a PDF too.

    I have not gone through all the info from the links. This was all just sent to me this very AM!

    I have done sprouts in 5 gal buckets and worked fine. Of course they were not grown like a lot of these people are doing. I just waited till they were sprouted like and bean sprouts. Man am I going to be busy. Hope all the links worked fine. Doing all of this in a hurry. Enjoy

    • Fascinating. This year we raised 2 Red Wattler Hogs and the breeder also had Guinea Hogs and was telling us all about them. Smaller but real good at foraging.

      • AGH are smaller and they are such a friendly pig. Sometimes to friendly lol. Will do almost anything for a butt scratch or belly rub. I am now also looking at kune kune. Apparently they are smaller and easy to raise too. Personally I like the smaller pigs. They don’t take as much room in the freezer. It just seems more logical to have smaller animals for smaller families. Makes it much easier to store our food out in the pasture. From what I have been told kune kune forage even better than AGH. Since they have a smaller upturned snout they are less likely to dig. Which mine don’t do much unless hot or there are some tasty dandelion roots to get. So many projects so little time.

  6. hey Jack I left you an email about group prepping. After posting some things on different survival blog sites and my facebook I had huge response on my bug out bag and using it when my son was taken to the hospital. I now have 12 strong members that come to an open meeting. we’ve had over 32 people come from 2 different states to learn different topics that we talk about. 1 big 1 was talking about bartering and canning cake as a bar drinking item. I want people to know that Jack there are people out there building communities that want to work together and help each other in times of need. we come from all different religions backgrounds an ethnicity. the lone wolf never makes it but a good community can help each other.
    ” I do not always bug out, but when I do I go I.P.U.G. stay prepping my friends.” ( I’m Prepping Urban Gorillas)

  7. Hi! We run a heritage breed ranch in Northern California. We are 100% off-grid with a large solar array and a propane generator for back up during the winter months. We raise Oberhasli and Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats, American Guinea Hogs, Pilgrim Geese, Jersey Giant and Delaware Chickens and Muscovy Ducks. We will be adding New Zealand Rabbits in a couple months for a more steady source of meat. This year we started growing our own fodder hydroponically. We grow enough to feed all our animals and only have to buy dog food for our LGDs, hay for goats and some chicken scratch. We were able to cut our feed bill to 1/3 of what we were spending. Now we are looking into expanding our ranch to include Finn Sheep for fiber and Dexters for milk and meat. I would love to help out getting people set up with their own hydroponic fodder system. Or if you would like to discuss the benefits of heritage breed animals I am always up for a chat! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me through my website. We also have a that shows our DIY setup.

    • Small world posted a link to your site above! Just found it yesterday from the AGH FB group.
      You have a great site. Thanks

  8. I’ve been building my own automated sprouting/fodder system. Figure once I get all the bugs worked out and finalize my design, I’ll start selling them. I run a combination of oats and black oil sunflower seeds in mine. Easier for me to find and purchase than looking for barely. Chickens will eat sprouts better than the fodder, they’ll eat the grass and leave the root mass. I also feed it to rabbits who love it either way.

    Here’s a few pictures from the basic system when I first had it set up and running.

  9. Jack, after hearing your comment about the cattle feed ad on Craig’s List, I took a look, and burst out laughing when I saw that photo of the cow tucking into a couple of square feet of grass. I move 20 cows (plus 8 milk vealers) every day, and they significantly clear 1500-2000 square feet of pasture in that time. This grass is at least 3-4 feet tall, thick stemmed, and in some cases seeding (so a high protein source).

    I think I would file this in the same category as you placed those “solar generators” a few episodes back. Do they produce energy? Yes. Is that energy in any way of the same scale as your requirements? No!

    • It is actually possible to feed a herd of cattle with fodder. You feed them 1 to 2 percent of their body weight and it has enough protein, amino acids and nutrients to grow them out. You do have to supply a small amount of roughage like hay to help move the wet fodder through their system. Since they eat the root mat and the greens it is different from them just eating the grass on pasture. My horse gets one tray a day along with a small flake of hay once a day. She is in great body condition and is almost 20 years old. I have done a lot of research on fodder before we changed the diet of our entire ranch. For you it wouldn’t be economical to do but for people who do not have the luxury of beautiful pasture it is perfect.

  10. Hi, I just wanted to chime in about a point that I’ve heard about Obamacare. I might have missed it, but I think Jack didn’t touch on it.

    Since it’s a real possibility that the fine/tax will be much lower than the cost of insurance and since you CAN NOT be turned down for preexisting conditions, you can simply pay the fine and pay for your own minor needs out of pocket, as Jack said. But you can also buy coverage after the doc tells you you need a by-pass. It’s wonderful how the gov screws up everything. I wish I could get the same plan for my car insurance. I would get to drive w/o insurance and just pay a small, annual fine, but I can call up to buy full coverage after I total my car. Once I have the new car I can cancel the insurance and go back to paying the fine. Sweet deal.

    What will that do to the cost of insurance. They need lots of young healthy people to offset the cost of the old sick people. Now there’s no reason for the healthy to buy in. Many jobs will probably be cut to part time to get around the employer mandate. That makes more people uninsured. Thanks, thanks very much for fixing that for us.

  11. Hey thanks for the great advise on our email. My father in law owns a custom kitchen business so this small business opportunity may turn into something bigger in the future for us. Thanks again and we’ll keep you posted on our progress over the next few months. Thanks again. Anyone wanna buy an IBC? Haha.

  12. With my church I was given a calling to help members with financial problems make use of the church programs. Mostly consisting of education classes. One of the new members who was a single mom with three kids was on section 8 and food stamps (as well as many other programs).

    I started with the smart buying and food storage plan and was amazed to find that she was making cost saving money choices with her food stamps. Instead of buying milk at $2.80 a gallon, she was buying 2-liters of off brand soda at $0.79 each. ($1.78 per gallon +). frozen pizza for $1.99 that feeds all of them for a meal vs fresh fruit or veggies. buying canned food over fresh. etc.

    It is easier to buy junk with food stamps than to buy healthy. It is not that they are making choices to get fat, but trying to stretch the food budget.

    When the church started helping with the food she got grief from the DSS because she was not spending as much on food with the food stamps. When she got a full time job and her oldest got a part time one they lost money dollar in aid for each dollar earned before taxes. ($1 aid gone for each $0.89 taken home) Not really the message “work hard and get off aid” being sent by that.

    • That’s our brilliant Government hard at work trying to help people out of poverty. After reading the article Jack posted on Food Stamps, it makes me wonder if the program is just put in place to help JP Morgan make a buck on the EDT cards rather than helping the poor.

  13. Hi,
    Just wanted to make a quick comment about your segment on 40% of our food going to waste either through throwing it out or allowing it to rot on the vine. This reminded me of a business luncheon I attended years ago and the topic was sustainablity and building more energy efficient buildings. While there I obeserved the eating habits of the people around me and I was horribly shocked at how many plates were left half eaten. This was not your typical hamburger and fries meal either. This was filet mignon, baby aspargus etc. All I could think about was how all of that food was just going to end up in the garbage on the otherside – what a shame.

    What was ironic is here we are at a seminar on sustainablity and I had never encountered a more wasteful group of people in my life. They pretend to care about energy efficiency then allow themselves to discard a meal that required an enourmous amount of energy input from the raising of cattle, feed, transportation cost, energy to cook, serve, clean and throw out. I hate to be judgemental, but I was wowed that these enlightened people couldn’t be bothered to finish a meal of filet mignon while listening to a seminar on why we need more sustainable systems.

    This makes me think the world can never be saved. There are to many people (educated people) that just do the stupidest things.

    Thanks for listening to me rant. BTW – I ate every last bit of food on my plate.

  14. Swales & Terraces:

    If swales are for woodlands and terraces are for pasture, what do I use for cropland? I farm “small scale” — about 15 acres — with “traditional” farm machinery: tractor, planter, drill, etc. I divide the land up into smaller 2 and 3 acre plots and grow things that I use directly on my farm. I’m not certified organic, but I’m not using any chemicals. The land I have was split off of a larger mono-crop field and has existing terraces that still work in that they take the rain and move it off of the land.

    I was thinking about converting the terraces to swales, at least on the upper part of the land where the soil is poorer in order to capture and retain the water and let it soak into the lower creek-bottom land where I’d grow my crops.

    However, after Jack’s comment in this episode that swales are for woodlands and terraces are for pasture, I’m confused.

    Some of the things I have/will grow: white sorghum, sunflowers (oil type), wheat, corn, and possibly beans.

  15. Hi,

    Has anyone else read the Dr. Oz article in time magazine? Unless I’m mistaken but I think he just said you are a food snob if you care about the food you are putting in your body by purchasing organic rather than conventional. Dr. Oz never once mentioned GMO’s the impact of factory farms on our environment, farmers and animals. HE never talked about pesticedes, chemical fertilizers, subsidization of corn etc. The dangers of mercury in canned tuna. WTF. Has Dr Oz. gone mad or was he paid to write that drivel?

    He wrote “Organic food is great, it’s just not very democratic.” HUH? When I shop for groceries it’s nearly impossible to find something that isn’t laced with high fructose corn syrup or soy. Healthy food choices are limited, how is the conventional food system democratic? It’s like asking “Would you like high fructose corn syrup in your tuna or in your honey?” How is that democratic? He actually thought supermarket high fructose honey was a better choice over organic honey. Basically no difference but for the price – really? Wow Dr OZ.

    I could go on and on with rants over this article. If you haven’t read it, it takes 5 minutes. Gauranteed to make you pee your pants.

    • What article are you referring to – the “Give frozen foods a chance” one from 2 days ago? That article says it’s only available to subscribers and I won’t do that to such swill.

      Consumer Reports has been on a similar bent with their little minute or so blurbs on AM talk radio lately, telling people that organic is not worth the extra cost because it’s not really any more nutritious. They conveniently tip toe around the other benefits that real organic foods, not just the USDA qualifying ones, offer; like less Roundup grown into the crops. Kind of sad, imo, from a ostensibly consumer protection group.

      It’s not too surprising to that about Oz though, as Dr. Greg Ellis noted when Jack had him on TSP, Oz totally dismissed “high fat/low carb” or “paleo” as a viable alternative to what I view as the “unholy trinity” (big Agra, big Pharma, big Gov) gospel and the “food plate” that appears to be making the problems of obesity, diabetes, cancer & autoimmune disorders etc. worse. You don’t get to be a media superstar by bucking the corporate interests that fund your programming. 🙁 I have a co-worker that lives by every syllable that man utters and I just have to shake my head & sigh.

    • My opinion of Oz is he is lying little sniveling weasel and I don’t care what he says, the way he crapped on Robb Wolf was enough for me to consider his words about as important to listen to as the average politicians. He is nothing but a corporate lying pimp. If I hear him one more time say “every week I have my hands in a person’s chest” I think I may go smack him in the face. Sure he is doing weekly cardiac surgery in addition to being a TV star? Call me a skeptic!

  16. 47% food waste and then complain about using Corn for ethanol. Research (NOT FROM BIG OIL) shows that corn used for ethanol ACTUALLY provides more QUALITY food than the original corn itself.

    Before someone slams me for this post, please do some research.

  17. OK, I’m prepared to have some of that “wasted” food thrown my way :D, but regarding food and waste . . .

    I recall hearing something once about food waste in this country. Some really astounding percentage of food is thrown away simply because it’s past the expiration date. And sadly, I’m not even talking about food waste on the commercial level. I’m talking about folks going through their fridge and cupboards and throwing away food that’s still perfectly fine because they’re uneducated about the safety of foods that are past their expiration date. I’ve run across this many times in my own life (with others), and it’s frustrating to see folks throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of food in a year because they didn’t use it before it magically turned toxic on its “expiration date”.

    And regarding the fat people on scooters who’re getting food stamps, Jack hit VERY briefly on the most important issue there — education. I’ve seen this so many times in my own life. Poor people tend to pick foods that’ll make their money go the farthest — mainly grains and starchy veg — and there’s no way that people can stay healthy eating like that.

    Back when my husband and I were as poor as it comes, we spent some months living on pizzas from Dominos that they couldn’t deliver for whatever reason. Because I got SSI (I’m blind) and he was making $5.50/hr delivering pizzas 20 hours a week, we didn’t meet criteria for food stamps, but by the time we paid the rent, car payment, and utilities, there was NOTHING left over. (For some real quick background, we lost tech jobs during the .com crash, and we’d been really irresponsible with the money that we had, so there was no cushion when our jobs disappeared, and nobody wanted to hire my husband because he was “over qualified” to run a cash register or shovel dog crap!)

    Anyway, the food that was available at food pantries and the like was nothing but starch and sugar. And even last year, when my kids were getting weekend food from school, you just wouldn’t believe the sugar/starch content. It was unreal. Problem is, the government thinks that’s a healthy way to eat, that’s what gets provided to poor folks, and because of subsidies, it’s hard to convince people that they can get by on a completely different menu plan.

    I believe that we all have to take responsibility for our circumstances, and as a fat person, I can honestly say that there are definitely barriers that can complicate things. I do think Jack’s spot on though about making “the system” more efficient. Problem is, it has to start by changing the way the government educates people about “healthy” food choices. They formulate all their programs to be “healthy”, and that just keeps people fat, sick, and dependent. Undoing 40+ years of bad policy when it comes to the foods we eat is no small task, but I think it’s at the root of it all.

    It also wouldn’t hurt if folks would be grateful rather than choosy when it comes to food. I get so exhausted by the folks who throw away LOTS of food because “they don’t eat leftovers”. Makes me nuts!

  18. The truth about Cobra. By law the most an employer can charge you is 102% of there cost. The reason it is so large of an increase is most company pay at least 50% of the cost maybe as high as 80%. So lets do an example. Lets say your insurance cost the company $1000 a month. You would likely be paying between $200 to $500 a month well working for the company. Then you loss your job then under Cobra your cost would be $1020.

    PS that $20 is so the company can recoup the cost of handing your paper work.


    • I am not saying you are wrong but something doesn’t sit right there. I have seen internal costs and COBRA payments that don’t jive that way, remember I was a partner in several corps. It just feels to me like some sort of this “cost” must be phantom cost in some way. May be I am wrong but something just doesn’t sit right here.

    • FWIW Robert M is correct in the insurance costs. I work at a small company (100 people) and the company cost per person for insurance is just under $1000 per month per person. I don’t know how COBRA works, but at least that part is correct. My company picks up 70% of costs. And while costs stayed the same this year benefit levels dropped.

      Much like our economic system; this paradigm is not sustainable. My current company can only maintain so many health cost increases coupled with benefit decreases before the stake holders say “We’re done.”

  19. I found some interesting links on how poverty is defined – they recently changed the definition so it’s hard to compare the current statistics with the past.

    And, a couple of articles about food stamps – they’re the biggest part of the USDA budget, and were originally started to help dispose of “surplus” farm produce:

  20. Jack,

    Tried to do some fact checking on the “20 facts.” I’d like to believe them, but some of the fact sources seemed dubious, or extremely hard to find when following the links. Maybe it’s late and I’m too tired to properly fact check, but lets not just believe something because we want to.

  21. I lived in Brazil for a couple years. The water there isn’t “unreliable” in the sense you were thinking. The pressure in most areas is based on electric pumps. In order to save on utility costs, the water pressure is on rotation where any given neighborhood will only have pressure for a couple days per week. The tank both normalizes the pressure in your house and spreads the supply across the week.

  22. Hello, your post is good What would happen if the other drugs were legal? Many experts believe there would be no increase in the number of drug addicts. They speak of an addictive personality and say that if such a person cannot easily obtain one drug he will become addicted to another. Many feel that the legalization of heroin and other drugs would mean that such addictive types would change from alcohol to other drugs. A 1972 Ford Foundation study showed that addiction to these other drugs is no more harmful than addiction to alcohol.