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"StoneLake Farm is a unique 21-acre off the grid homestead located in Humboldt County, approximately 60 miles southeast of Arcata, California. Close to redwood groves and wild rivers, high on the southwest flank of Buck Mountain, our small farm has dairy, pack, and Angora goats, chickens, a large garden, orchards, a lively creek complete with dipping holes, flowing waterfalls, and stunning vistas.

Our hand-made octagon is available for rentals, we offer internships and are accepting applications for our artist-in-residence program."

Sk8ing yesterday

During brief interlude between rains, bombing local hill yesterday on my Loaded Dervish (bamboo) longboard. Photo shot by Walt Denson with his big Cannon. Walt's a real pro (and surfer). Check out his website: http://www.waltdenson.com/

New beach discovery

Yesterday I walked about an hour and a half on the beach at low tide to get to this spot. You can't see it here, but there's a sea cave going through the rock, coming out on the other side. This is just one of the many adventures I've been having since I quit competitive running. If you're willing to walk a bit (in this case after scrambling down a sketchy steep cliffside trail), you get to places rarely visited by other humanoids.

Tree house in Costa Rica

While looking at some of Yestermorrow's projects just now, I spotted another tree house:

April course in pre-fabs

Photo at left is from a Yestermorrow course in building tree houses.

Yestermorrow is a school for building in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The school's founder, architect John Connell and Giocondo Susini are teaching a 5-day course starting April 17th on building with prefabricated components, "Putting the Fab back in Pre-fab."

"New developments in factory-built housing now make it possible to design custom, environmentally enlightened homes that meet the needs and pocketbooks of normal homeowners. Healthy and green, these buildings can be less expensive to build and operate even while looking historic, vernacular or contemporary. But only if you understand the entire process and work with the right manufacturers. This course will enumerate the dos and don’ts of building with prefabricated house parts by taking students through a design process focused on their own individual projects. In addition to appropriate siting, Energy Star and LEED design principles, we will cover how to shop for a manufacturer, what to ask, how to price your home, and what to expect as the construction process unfolds. There will be field trips to fabrication plants, and we will demonstrate how to vet different manufacturers."

Urban and small-scale homesteading

A bunch of good books for people getting into food production, on whatever scale: http://www.goodearthpublications.com/
Regarding this book:'
"City Chicks describes in detail how chicken’s “skill sets' can be employed in a 'Hen-Have-More Plan' for food production systems. Instead of using oil-based chemicals, chickens can help produce fertilizer and compost; they can turn yard waste into garden soil. Hens can also be used as mobile, clucking, (organic and non-toxic), pesticiders, herbiciders, and insecticides.
   And chickens can be of civic service. One chicken eats about 7 pounds of food 'waste' a month. A few hundred households keeping micro-flocks of laying hens can divert tons of yard and food biomass 'waste' from trash collection saving municipalities millions, even billions of tax payer $$
   'What if a city had 2,000 households with three hens (or more) each? That could translate to 252 tons of food waste diverted from landfills each year ... Add to that number the tons of yard waste (grass clippings and leaves) that can hens can help convert into compost and the amount is as enormous as the tax-savings of NOT having to handle, transport and store all that biomass waste'."

Buddha was a cowboy…

Lyrics from Come A Rain by Kevin Lynch, playing at this moment:

Jesus was a pagan, Woody was a punk
Gandhi was a soldier, Hendrix was a monk
Leonardo was an alien, Plato was a scream
Vincent was a flower child, Elvis was a dream
Kurosawa was a samurai, Achilles was a gimp
Django was a miracle, Rasputin was a pimp
Piaf was a siren, Callas was the sea
Martin was a king on earth
in all his majesty

Come a rain, come a rain now

Confucius was a joker, Kafka was a spook
Rumi was a homey, Bukowski was a duke
Fellini was a scientist, Dante was a thug
Buddha was a cowboy, Amelia was a stud
Einstein was a psychic, Stalin was a hick
Marilyn was Marilyn, Picasso was a trip
Marley was a preacher, Columbus was a dope
Houdini was a rascal, Hank Williams was a ghost

Come a rain, come a rain now

With beauty all around you, may you walk.

I've developed a bike/run routine where I ride my bike about 5 miles, then run/shuffle a few miles to get to my mushroom spot, a grove of tan oaks, bay trees and redwoods. The ground was saturated with water, after recent rains. Creeks rushing, ponds full;  in one spot on the trail, water was bubbling out of a hole. Zilch in the mushroom department, maybe they're waiting for some warmth, or maybe the recent cold weather has knocked the chanterelles underground until next year. I did gather some fiddlehead ferns, but just read that many varieties are toxic, so will proceed w. caution.
I realized yesterday, that it's not just getting out in the woods or beach that I love, but the search for something to gather -- food, flowers, bones, feathers -- the hunter/gatherer genes. If all else fails, I gather images with my camera.

In beauty may you walk.
All day long may you walk.

Human Planet - Web exclusive series trailer - BBC One

Boy is this beautiful!
Be sure to click on the 4 little arrows at lower right side of screen to enlarge. This is just magnificent.
Discovered by Lew Lewandowski

2 showings of 6-min documentary Shelter coming up

Filmmaker Jason Sussbertg's 6-min. movie of our homestead, called "Shelter," is being screened this Sunday, March 20th (3:30 PM) at the 4th Annual Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. I'm going to go, as it will be followed by a Q and A. It's at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 6780 Depot Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472.

It's being shown the next week as part of the "How-to Homestead" group's workshop on building solar ovens in San Francisco --  Sunday, March 27th. The workshop starts at 3PM, there's a potluck dinner at 6, and the film will be shown around 7 PM. It's at the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center. 660 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.

Big waves in Pacifica

I had some time to kill before the meeting at Kevin's so I went out to the beach. Waves were huge. This is the Pacifica pier:
 Then I went down Rockaway Beach. Big surf here too, and one surfer was out. Dude! Back in the 50s, Rod Lundquist, Jim Fisher, and (Silent) John Stonum went out bodysurfing in big surf at Rockaway. These were all champion SF competitive swimmers. Rod told me that when they got out beyond the waves, they couldn't see a way to get in. so he and Fisher swam north to the point and managed to make it in. What about Stonum? "He just swam straight in." It's now SF bodysurfing legend.

This ruffled-feathers crow on the beach breakwater let me get real close. Unlike our local crows, which won't allow a humanoid to get within 50 feet. 

Little San Francisco beach cottages

Over an inch of rain yesterday. I was heading down to Kevin Kelly's in Pacifica for the 1st meeting of the Bay Area Screen Publishers User Group, a new group just formed "…to assist other like-minded folks in creating word-based content for the screen: small, medium, or large screens. Like iPads, iPhones, Kindles, Nooks and whatever comes after…"
I headed out to Trouble Coffee near the beach in San Francisco. This neighborhood is a few blocks from Ocean Beach, and there are lots of little beach shacks here and there. Check out these little gems. Stylin in the city…

Then this tough 4x4 van, ready for desert and mountains:

Local harbor yesterday morning

Floating Castle (Ukraine)

"Supported by a single cantilever, this mysterious levitating farm house belongs in a sci-fi flick. It’s claimed to be an old bunker for the overload of mineral fertilizers but we’re sure there’s a better back story . . . alien architects probably had a hand in it."

Down at beach this morning

The ocean is powerful these last few days. It's the 1st real tsunami I've ever seen come in locally. It didn't wreck anything right here, but its presence was felt. The fishermen were worried about boats getting dumped upside down. Brothers and sisters of the Pacific Ocean, these are trying times.

Making plank flooring with plywood

"When recently redoing the room above our garage, we decided that we were DONE with the carpet. Our plans were to rip it up, plank the floor, and then paint it. We never expected the plywood planking that we made to look good enough to STAIN!
Yup, that’s plywood!
16 sheets of 15/32 pine plywood @ $16.49 per sheet
9 gigantic tubes of Liquid Nail @ $4.75 each
10 lbs of cut nails (ordered from Tremont Nail Company) @ $69.63 (includes s&h)
4 gallons of Varathane polyurethane @ $37.46 per gallon
2 quarts of stain @ $9.99 each
Square footage of the room: 533
Rough estimate of cost: $520

We started the project with sheets of plywood. We ripped them on the table saw into 6 inch strips that were all 8 feet long.…"
Read more at: http://quarryorchard.blogspot.com/2010/12/plywood-to-plank-flooring-tutorial.html

Boys boys boys

I can't resist any longer. Here are pics of my new (and first) grandchild, Maceo at about 2 months, along with his mom Aine, dad Will. Funny thing, pics of me at this age look almost identical. Uh-oh! 

When I was growing up, it was all boys. Three boys in my family. Five boys between my mom's 2 sisters. One boy of my  dad's brother. Eight boys, no girls. And now Maceo. Dude!

Waterfall, sea cave yesterday at beach

I spent 3 hours on the beach yesterday. Started raining and I got inside this cave.

Solar Burrito Blog: Cabins, Shelters, Off-The-Grid Tech and other Fun Stuff

This is a 180 sq.ft. house built on an island in British Columbia. I just discovered it on Solar Burrito, a great blog, of special interest to builders, homesteaders, and do-it-yourself people: http://solarburrito.wordpress.com/

Hardwood flooring with natural curves

"Eco-conscious alternatives to traditional wooden flooring typically rely upon cork or other non-hardwood materials for their sustainability. A new Dutch innovation, however, earns its green credentials by cutting floorboards in such a way as to follow the hardwood's natural curves.

Aiming to bring to the mass market what it says has long been the domain of a few dedicated craftsmen, Bolefloor manufactures solid oak flooring with curved lengths that follow a tree’s natural growth. One result of the technique is that no two Bolefloors are alike. In addition, Bolefloor claims that their wood scanning systems, tailor-made CAD/CAM developments and innovative optimization algorithms allow more floors to be created from the same amount of wood. Bolefloor manages and tracks each board from its raw-lumber stage through to final installation. Pricing, the company says, is 'not considerably more than today’s fine wood flooring.'”

Tiny homes

Above: tiny (each (4" x 7") roughs of a few pages
The tiny homes book is taking way longer than anticipated (what else is new?) I have over 250 mailboxes for contributors, am corresponding with them to get decent-size pics. We have about 124 pages laid out now, around 600 photos.
I'm trying to get out to the studio around 6:30 AM, usually work until 6:30- 7 PM, 2-3 days a week. Shit! Most of my contemporaries are retired. But you know what? I love it. Every day is vital. It usually takes me hours to deal with general publishing biz stuff before I can get into layout. But then, I'm havin fun. I can't imagine being retired.
Part of the thrill is not knowing what the finished book will be like. Kind of like skating downhill with no brakes. Here we go; it'l be what it'll be. The best way to make a book. Organic. (Am in repeating myself here?)
New material coming in almost daily. Lew is starting to help with layout. He just did 4 pages of photos by Rick Auerbach, a photographer who documented hippie buses and campers in the '60s - '70s. (You know that the '60s happened in the'70s, right?) There are over 80 pics on these 4 pages. So there's a bit of old stuff along with the new. These days I'm putting together pages on pre-fabs and kits available in the US and Canada. It's just staggering, the interest in this subject right now.
I'm gonna stay home for a while now, except for the BEA book convention in NYC the end of May, and the Frankfurt Book fair in October. Once the book is done I'm either going surfing in Hawaii or trekking in Borneo. (I hesitate to say it, with all that's going on in the world, but) life is pretty darn good.
At this very moment, the Stones came on singing Gimme Shelter. Cosmic!

Are You Lonesome Tonight

Been playing the '50s Sirius station a lot lately. The vocal harmonies of that decade were unique. A few minutes ago, Elvis singing "Are You Lonesome Tonight," so beautiful it gave me chills. The Isley Brothers doing "Twist and Shout," Coasters (originally the Robins) doing all those great Lieber and Stoller songs. "Searchin'," "Young Blood," "Loop de Loop Mambo." (The latter a little-known song with special significance for me: my roommate at Stanford was Richard Zanuck, now the uber Hollywood producer. One night (probably 1954), we were drinking at a party and about midnight decided to drive to LA in his 20th Century Fox Ford convertible. There's a vast difference between San Francisco, my hometown, and LA. Things are a lot looser in LA (duh!) I was a wide-eyed northern foreigner. Things was hangin' out down there. It was relaxed.
We got into LA around dawn and at a coffee stop, I saw for the first time, pieces of pie in the wall cabinet reflected by mirrors. Sheee-it! The visuality of LA.
As we pulled back onto the coast highway a little north of Santa Monica, we were listening to the great LA DJ Dick "Huggie Boy" Hugg and "Loop de Loop Mambo" came on. Another world. (I've loved LA ever since.)
I tried to find this song fore years, and just rediscovered it, like 55 years later on (and I recommend this CD if you're into R&B, now called "Doo-wop," of the '50s:) The Coasters Singles A's and B's - 1955-1959 I'm playing "Searchin'" as I write this, and I'm 19 and we're heading to Zanuck's beachfront house with our Dale Velzy balsa wood surfboards. We're both buffed and have full heads of hair…

Outsmarted by rats

Rats will usually steal bait off the trigger without tripping the spring. I've been tying peanut butter wrapped in plastic to the trigger with Baggie wires, but it's a hassle. Now I attach a half-inch copper pipe cap to the trigger with a sheet metal screw (grind down projecting end) and filling with peanut butter. Most of them are wood rats, not the awful Norwegian rats, but they need to be controlled, what with our wood piles and chic.
Pretty clever, huh? Well, I just went out and the fuckers had  somehow got the bait out of 3 of the 5 traps I set yesterday. Hmmm…
I wrote an article for Mother Earth News a few years ago on coping with homestead critters, but now I don't feel so clever.

Home home on the homestead

Been back about a week now from road trip. Much as I love getting out there, it always takes a while to get back into the flow of work and homestead. We have about a half acre, and it's pretty intense with structures and garden. I was showing someone around here the other day and he said it reminded him of Scott Nearing. (Scott and Helen Nearing were real rural homesteaders in Maine and wrote the by-now classic Living the Good Life)in the '60s. All of us back-to-landers in the 60s and 70s read it.
Not really, I explained. We're doing as much gardening, building, and food production as we can, but trying to balance it with the digital world, arts and crafts, having fun, staying in shape, and other aspects of the 21st century that don't involve homesteading. It's like a tightrope act.
I shot a few pics around here yesterday.

Pre-cut log cabins in New Zealand

High quality pre-cut log buildings from New Zealand. They've shipped about a dozen to the US, but most are in NZ.