“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Stop Wasting Money on CFL Light Bulbs


Is the hype surrounding the use of the Compact Fluorescent (CFLs) light bulbs to save energy and money really true?  Paul Wheaton’s CFL article points out some compelling arguments suggesting that CFLs might not be all that energy efficient after all compared to incandescent light bulbs.  A CFL light bulb will actually have a shorter life span than a incandescent light bulb if you household is in the habit of conserving energy and frequently turn lights off when not in use.  CFLs don’t perform well when turned off and on many times.

CFLs seem much cheaper because they are subsidized by our tax dollars and higher eletric utility rates


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Make Use of the Deer as Best as Possible

I would say harvesting a deer only for the trophy rack is unethical.  I hunt for the meat and meat only.  That doesn’t mean I won’t pass up a small yearling or doe early in the season knowing there is more time to find a larger deer, but I don’t trophy hunt.  The primary purpose of harvesting a deer should be for eating and/or preserving the meat.  I also feel it is ethical to make use of all parts of the deer within your knowledge and to always strive to find more ways to make use of every part of the harvested deer.  Currently we have the deer we harvest processed for meat and when I field dress the deer I also save the liver and heart so that they can be cooked and eaten fresh or frozen for a later date.  In the coming years I plan on learning to save the hide, antlers, and bones and make use of them.

I think the harvest of deer as a meat source is in line with the idea of permaculture and sustainable living.  It is a sustainable source of free range meat in which 2 or 3 harvested deer can provide a family of 4 all the burger, steak, and sausage needed for almost a year.  Some other topics in this deer hunting series will be how to sight in a rifle, how to field dress a deer, muzzleloader care, and maybe some recipes on how to cook up the liver and heart of the deer.

As always please feel free to leave your comments and also if you don’t mind follow us on facebook , twitter, and/or join our mailing list.

Marksmanship and Shot Placement

deer kill zone

From reading above about my experience I want to put out a disclaimer that I’m not proclaiming to be the all mighty sportsman or outdoorsman.  Though I welcome discussion and I don’t mind constructive criticism, I’m not trying to tell any one person how to hunt.  I’m just sharing my experiences and thoughts.  At the same time though, I feel that any hunter not following these ethics in some shape or form are harvesting deer unethically.  So I feel being a good marksman with your weapon of choice is the first ethical thing a hunter owes to the deer (or any other game for that matter).  Practice, practice, practice as often as you can.  Get comfortable shooting your rifle (I’m only going to refer to hunting with a rifle because I currently only hunt with a gun.  Eventually though I would like to transition to bow hunting being that it is a more traditional, primitive, and artistic method of hunting).  Know your limitations and stick to them.  If your having trouble hitting consistent groups past 100 yards, don’t take a shot further than that.  I would recommend to a beginner to start out with a scope as opposed to iron sights.  Some might recommend the opposite but I feel using a scope is much more ethical and can give you a much more accurate shot.  I still feel it’s important to also practice with iron sights and work towards becoming a better marksman with them.


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The Case for Venison


So for the past 2 years we have enjoyed venison burger and steaks for well over half the year.  Venison is “beyond organic” in my opinion and when processed and cook correctly is far superior to beef.  Sometimes I ponder about all the GMO corn the deer around my area consume, but I’ll leave that for another day.  I know everyone doesn’t have the access to hunting areas.  Some live in large urban areas and even if they could travel outside to a rural area they might not have any connections to a landowner that will allow them to hunt.  There are public areas that allow hunting but I like to know who is hunting around me.  There are lots of limitations and I understand them.  But if you have an interest, have some type of access to land, and have access to a deer caliber firearm, deer hunting can be a very sustainable and healthy source of meat.

Doe harvested on November 18th 2011

My Hunting Experience and Background

I did not grow up hunting. I did fish a lot as a kid and if we had a good catch we did clean them and eat them. Even though I lived in town, I did experience the outdoors a lot and always felt a deep connection to experience nature more. I also didn’t have much experience with firearms. I did have a BB gun as a kid, but that’s about it. I felt my calling after high school was to pursue my interest in nature, so I studied Biology in college and received a BS in Wildlife Biology. Many of the people I met in this program were hunters and had been hunters since they were kids. I still never got into hunting mostly because of my inexperience with firearms. It wasn’t until 4 years ago (2008) that I finally felt it was time. I got access to a deer caliber rifle (Marlin 30-30) from a family member and soon after was given a Thompson Center Hawken .50 cal muzzleloader from another family member. I didn’t harvest a deer my first season. I had a couple of friends that helped me out that first season. They taught me a lot about how to hunt and helped me get comfortable with my rifle. I harvested my first deer during my second season and was unsuccessful last year. My son (12 years old at the time) was successful during his first hunt last season. As of November 22nd 2011, I have harvested 2 deer (1 doe and 1 buck) so far this season.

Ethical Deer Harvest

deer in the mist

Hunting has become an important source of meat for us over the past 2 years.  The deer we have harvested have been our primary source of meat for about 7 or 8 months out of the year, depending on how you look at it.  I know some might be against the harvesting of deer or other wild game and I don’t really want to go into why one shouldn’t be against it.  I would like to explain why and how we hunt and what it provides for us.  I would also like to share my history with hunting and hopefully provide some encouragement to others who might have an interest but might feel that it’s to overwhelming to start.  This is the first of maybe 3 or 4 posts on deer hunting.

My primary objective when deer hunting is to successfully harvest a deer, but I also am able to spend some needed time in the woods observing

How to Field Dress a Deer

After one has successfully harvested a deer, it must be field dressed.  Field dressing is the removal of the internal organs of the deer (or other hunted animal).  Removing the internal organs ensures that the body will rapidly lose heat and prevent bacterial growth on the surface of the carcass.   This process is critical to preserving the meat properly.


After the Shot

After one has taken a shot at a deer, depending on the placement of the shot, the deer may drop almost instantly, run 2o or 30 yards to cover, continue to run in a large open field til it drops, etc.  My advice would be to wait 20-30 minutes before leaving your location, to track or approach the deer.  This gives the deer time to die and not approaching the deer to soon keeps it from possibly getting up and moving further away.

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Now that the holidays have past and a new year is among us I want to document my top projects for the homestead for this year.  I’m going to try to keep this as a top 10 of our main projects.


1.  Buy a Generator

We will be finally purchasing a generator.  I plan on purchasing one from Lowes (probably a Troy Bilt) at around 6000W.  Luckily he have not had many prolonged power outages the last couple of years.  But we have experienced outages ranging from a couple of days to month in the past.

2.  Help Tracy get her children’s custom clothing business going by helping with her website.

My wife Tracy, just recently resigned from her job as a social worker.  She is starting a business making custom children’s clothes, which she plans to sell locally and online.  My job will be to get her a website set up so that she can sell her products online.  She is creating great products, I just hope I can hold up my part of the business.

3.  Renovate and expand the old chicken coop to get it ready for chickens

We haven’t had chickens since 2008.  We will be purchasing a layer flock and maybe some others to experiment with butchering.  I need to move, renovate and expand the old coop.  We will be practicing a paddock shift system as well as making use of a chicken tractor.

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Reduce By Using a Refillable Olive Oil Sprayer

misto olive oil sprayerWe go through quite a few cans of olive oil spray every year.  We seem to use it for almost every meal we cook.  My wife picked up a refillable Misto Olive Oil Sprayer recently.  Many might already use these, but I thought I would share this as it is a great way to reduce waste since we will no longer be throwing all of those olive oil spray cans in the landfill any longer.

It seems easy enough to use.  There is a plastic cap underneath the top that twists off to allow it to be filled.  Fill only half way to allow for pressure build up when pumped.  Replace the top, pump, and spray.

So I wanted to share this because I’m guessing since it’s a non-aerosol can that it’s better for the environment.  Those aerosol olive oil spray cans have soy and anti-foaming propellants, and may contain milk and wheat.  This way you will be spraying pure olive oil.  Plus I’m hoping it will save us some money by not having to purchase new cans.


Outdoor Workouts for Self Sufficient Fitness

outdoor workout stairs

A couple days after the new year I read an inspiring post at Zen to Fitness, called Self Sufficient Training.The post discusses ways and the benefits of training in the outdoors as an alternative to gyms and how it can be a more self sufficient fitness option.  I’ve been struggling lately of having any real motivation in going to the gym.  Over the past 3 years I’ve been pretty consistent at going to the gym for resistance training and cardio workouts.  I’m just not a big fan of workouts on machines or indoors for that matter.  I’m more of a get a workout from playing soccer, basketball, or going for a hike type of person.  Don’t get me wrong, I think working out in gyms and using free weights or machines is better than nothing.  The article above gave me the idea and motivation to do my first real structured outdoor workout.


An Eco Scale Test Based on Electricity Usage

So where do you fall on the eco scale?  Do you consider yourself an environmentalist or are you just and eco poser?  Paul Wheaton’s recent post on Make it Missoula discusses a test that Paul calls The Wheaton Eco Test.  It’s a simple test to measure one’s eco level.  The test is simple.  If you spend more money on electricity per year than the average American you can’t consider yourself eco based on the criteria of this test.  I thought it would be interesting to see if our family passed the test.


 Eco Scale Test

It’s a simple test.  Do you spend less than the average American on electricity?  Paul’s post states that the average American household spends $1000/month per adult for electricity with heat and $250/month per adult without heat.  This does not include kids in the home.  Basically Paul states that if you have kids and you want to call yourself eco you should keep your energy consumption down due to overpopulation.  So if you spend less on electricity than the average American, you can call yourself eco (at least eco level 1), if not then you might have some work to do.

We are Eco Poser

I really don’t claim to be “eco” or an environmentalist or “green” for that matter.  But we are following a path to become more sustainable, to live more within our means, and to live more in touch with the natural environment.  But we failed the eco scale test pretty bad.  Our household (2 adults, 2 teenagers, and 1 five year old) would need to spend less than $2000 on electricity with heat.  For 2011 we spend $2725 on electricity.


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