WordPress and the State of Tiny Sustainable Life

So yesterday WordPress offered me the chance to try out a new editor. It seemed like a slap-bang idea and so I said yes to installing the plug-in (if you are not a WordPress author or an IT enthusiast you can pass on this post and wait for tomorrow’s).

My first experience with computing was when I was a newly minted teenager and my Grandfather, the king of all things new and shiny, bought an Apple computer from a Bell & Howell distributor (an audio-visual dealer that you can probably look up in the Internet Archive).  It’s my understanding that was probably one of the first 1,000 computers Bill Gates sold. My Grandfather being my Grandfather, always traded in his computer on a newer model  the day they came out so I was always getting to play with new stuff.

My Grandfather had a nephew who worked for Apple in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, and I remember a huge box delivered to his office with a prototype of the first 5MB hard drive inside. The box was like 3′ x 5′ and mostly filled with padding. Took us 8 months and numerous long distance calls to California at $3.00 a minute (long distance was a thing back then kiddies) and it never really worked right until the new ProDOS operating system came out.

The reason I bring all this up is because I’ve been around computing for more than 40 years – I have horror stories of the early years for days, so I know that I should back things up. Always BACK THINGS UP. So, of course, I installed the new plug-in without BACKING THINGS UP. It failed to install correctly and broke everything.

I was finally able to delete everything broken and re-load things that were  missing but because I’m a WordPress newbie it’s going to take me a few days to put things back like they were. It’s a learning experience, and I knew better, so I have only myself to blame.

What does this have to do with a sustainable life you ask? Well, as the Survival type saying goes “One is none, two is one and three is better”. I should have taken the time to back things up. I should have had a plan in case things went wrong. Things always will go in the their own direction, and it won’t always be how you think it should be. Building in redundancy is always a good idea. I’m glad the lesson I had to re-learn wasn’t too painful. I’ll know better next time.

What kind of lessons has Life taught you when you weren’t paying attention? Were you able to adapt quickly? I hope so. Let me know, I’m interested.

Take care,

The Mad Farmer

Paul Wheaton and Permies.com

For quite some time now (at least two years) I have been participating/lurking at the largest Permaculture site online, Permies.com. If you are not familiar with the site Permies is run by a gentleman by the name of Paul Wheaton who in his own words is “bonkers about permaculture”. No less a permaculture dignitary than Geoff Lawton named Paul “The Duke of Permaculture”. Permies is a fascinating place to hang out. There are forums for almost every subject related to permaculture and regenerative growing that you can imagine, forums for raising animals, creating berms, hugelkultur beds and everything else you can think of.

Paul also has a YouTube channel and over 400 podcasts on a mountain of different subjects. Paul has just completed successfully getting funded for his 7th Kickstarter project. The current project is going to be a 2 hour DVD explaining what a Rocket Oven is and how to build one. For people not familiar with Rocket Mass Heater / Rocket Oven technology it is a super-efficient way to heat a space, in case of the Rocket Mass Heater, or cook with, in the case of the Rocket Oven. The Rocket Oven burns a small amount of wood and functions like a normal oven, only more efficiently. I am a supporter of this particular Kickstarter and am looking forward to building one of these ovens and trying it out. Those of you who know me, and those of you joining us on our journey through a Tiny Sustainable Life, know I love projects and I am really looking forward to this one.

I’m currently in the middle of building an ornamental pond in our back yard (more on that in future posts). What are you building/making? How about projects you started but never finished? What happened with that?

Blogging is Hard

Man blogging is hard. At least consistent blogging is hard for me I should say. Some people seem to do it effortlessly, like Susy at Chiot’s Run. I don’t remember exactly how I got turned on to Brian and Susy’s podcast, I think it might have been from a mention on Jack Spirko’s Survival Podcast. However I got there I listened to the first podcast from this fantastic couple and I was hooked. It was a little like being part of their family, vicariously listening as they discussed the day-by-day trials and adventures of moving to a homestead in Maine and learning a more “organic lifestyle”. As I caught up on the weekly podcasts I started to learn about other homesteading and permaculture resources, as well as a few interesting side journeys like discovering the No Agenda Show by Adam Curry and John C. Divorak (but more on that in another post).


Eventually Brian felt like they had covered everything unique about their homesteading process and terminated the podcasts but Susy has continued to blog, almost daily, for a long time. She is always upbeat, encouraging and includes beautiful pictures from around their homestead and from places they visit. Reading her posts each morning is  becoming like having coffee with an old friend even though we have never met. Anyway, to bring it back around to the point I don’t know whether her ability to write consistently is natural or disciplined work turned into a habit but her steadfastness in pursuing her craft is something I hope to emulate going forward.

If anyone else struggles with doing things consistently I would love to hear how you attempt combat that trend. Please write me and let me know.

Winter in Kansas

Today is January 20th in Kansas (actually it’s probably January 20th everywhere except across the international dateline) and for a change the weather is not as cold as it has been.  For the last several weeks we have had below zero lows and highs ranging from 8 to 20 degrees. Most people would agree that is fairly cold. In the fall I built some cold frames and things were going along swimmingly until the weather got brutal. I’ve read many people who cheerfully grow veg in their frames all winter. In none of the accounts did I read what happens when you have long periods of sub-zero weather. Well I can attest from personal experience my Swiss Chard and most everything else did not enjoy it. I’m hoping that it will come back as temperatures get warmer, I guess we’ll wait and see.

Anyone out there have cold frames? What have you had success with? How have your plants fared in extreme weather? As we journey on our path towards sustainability I find that there are always more things to learn and more things to try. Stay warm, Keep learning…

Mother Earth News Fair

So we (my wife, Miss Mercy,  was there also) just got home from the first day of the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, Ks. In case you are not familiar with the Mother Earth News magazine it is published by Ogeden Publications in Topeka, Kansas so it was nice when they started having the one of the fairs in our home town. They hold several a year in various locations throughout the U.S. The fair is a mix of vendors, workshops and lectures on homesteading, gardening, solar power, sustainable living, portable saw mills and oddly enough, infrared chairs to fix your aching back. Like most of life some of the events are great and some are not so great.

So far a couple of the breakout sessions that we attended were very informational. Miss Mercy went to one by Shawn and Beth Dougherty on adding a cow to your Homestead. The Dougherty’s have a new book out, The Independent Farmstead, which I’ve just started reading and so far it’s a very worthwhile read. It’s a really interesting event, especially if you’re into homesteading or possibly just people watching. We’ve attended all four years they’ve been having it here and we haven’t regretted it yet. If you have a chance to go to one near you we highly recommend it, it’s an interesting experience and you might actually learn some really interesting things. Sadly this year we were ready to purchase a broadfork for our garden and the vendor we were hoping to get it from was not there this year – so road trip or mail order – we’ll let you know how it goes…

Why Tiny Sustainable Life?

What is a Tiny Sustainable Life? Should I care? Does it require me to have long hair, a beard, wash rarely or not all, smell of patchouli oil and listen to a lot of Grateful Dead? *

Of course not! Anyone can live a sustainable life, or at least live in a more sustainable way then they are now.  I have short hair, a corporate job and live in Kansas with my wife, Miss Mercy.  We (I’m pretty sure based on our recent discussions that it’s “we”) are looking for a way back to an idolized simpler time. I say idolized because we don’t really want to live in the 1800’s with the bugs and dirt and general hard living that entailed. We do want to be more self-sufficient, grow more of our own food, reuse, recycle and repair and generally be less wasteful. This is our on-going story of what our journey towards those goals look like. Let me assure you, if we can get there, I promise you can too. So join us on our journey to get through this thing called life..

*Please note: I  mean no offense to hippies, who probably don’t have internet, or Dead Heads, who are some of the best people I know…