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Author Topic: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path  (Read 27667 times)

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #100 on: January 07, 2020, 01:25:04 AM »
Dear Martin, Walnuts are a forage crop for me and walnut trees end up on highway frontage and therefor free game. One of the amazing things about the “acorn challenge “ was that foraging turned out to be  the cheapest way to get to zero fossil fuel and NOT starve. Maybe it is silly to test out what no grocery store and nothing more than retained memory will get you but, it was fun. My wife wants to know why we aren’t putting ourselves to the challenge again ? First year one month, second year three months . We haven’t tried year round but who knows when circumstances demand ?
 If you’d ever like to limit yourself to forage or homegrown let me know. Organic SU was such an inspiration to me , he in Greece an my efforts here in S.Cal. We helped each other along !
 

Florifulgurator

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #101 on: January 17, 2020, 09:06:19 PM »
Alas there aren't many oaks around my new place here in Bavaria and they haven't had much acorns.

The forage tree for me would be European beech. The nuts are only slightly toxic, and that can be neutralized by simply roasting them. I will try them in quantity come September.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fagus_sylvatica

It might perhaps be a good idea to re-establish American beech in the West.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fagus_grandifolia

Google image search on my avatar image gives "wood". In fact it is the lower part of David Hilbert's tombstone.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #102 on: January 17, 2020, 09:38:48 PM »
It is planting season for frost tolerant crops here in SCal. I managed to get about a quarter acre of ground covered in compost made from manure and chipped brush. Cover crop of favas ,peas and oats went on another acre. In the composted area I have spelt, potatoes, shallots and cabbage. Timing everything to maximize what little rain we get means getting frost tolerant crops in before the first rain and if I am lucky I won’t need to irrigate.
 I bought spelt several years ago and have been growing more each year as I increase my seed bank.
I learned I can put the grain heads on a concrete slab and scuff it with smooth soled boots and dehull it. A screen pass and winnowing finish and clean up the grain.
 Potatoes are also from potatoes I have kept for several years , a variety called Yellow Finn. Shallots that I plant as bulbs produce seed so each year I plant both shallot bulbs and shallot from seed. Like onions the shallots from seed don’t produce seed until the bulb is planted the next year.
 Martin, I will buy a beech and name it for you.
 The electric wheel hoe is still working well for me and it cuts down on hand weeding. My biodiesel tractor isn’t working because I screwed up the fuel system with bad fuel.
 I have about 500lbs. acorns drying. I gleaned about 35-40 tons of butternut squash this year and I am still feeding pigs three squash per pig per day. I put the squash in a long pile under the pine trees where they are somewhat protected from freezes but nothing but minor frosts so far. I cover them with a roll of floating row cover.
 Less than 5 inches of rain so far and half the rain season is over. Looking like the long drought still is hanging on here in paradise. Last year we got a normal amount of rain and partly filled the reservoir but one year of normal rain doesn’t break a seven year drought.
 I am seriously thinking of building a very deep root cellar. Starting to think building a hole isn’t quite as crazy as the bomb shelters of the 1950s. I can rationalize cold storage but I might add some plumbing which is verging on nut job but I honestly  think the people in charge are nuts. How do you mitigate our climate roulette and governance dystopia?

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #103 on: March 25, 2020, 09:40:26 PM »
With the help from organic SU I started the Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path thread.
Organic SU and I chronicled  a sudden reversion to home raised and foraged food as a sole form of sustenance . It was fun and I think both Organic and I  gained some confidence in our ability to find and grow enough food to get through a severe supply shock. The first year inspired me to put some food stores away to make the first few months of a food supply shock easier to bear should I ever have to get though a period of time without a grocery store .
 The second year my wife and I went three months without going to the grocery store because I had stored away dried corn, beans, winter squash and dried summer squash from my garden as well as foraged acorns .  It was way easier than the crash course Organic and I first attempted. I was more dedicated to the Acorn Challenge than current conditions because I have gone shopping with a mask and gloves once recently. 
 Preparing for an extended period without the grocery store requires gardening efforts at growing staples like corn, grain , amaranth, nuts, and dried fruits. Laying hens are also important IMO. There are ways to buy and store these same dried foods without growing them yourself . Waiting till everyone else has already panicked reduces your options to something like what Organic and I went through and we only went one month. We both lost weight ! 
 The food system that everyone depends upon is not as stable as everyone in government and the media are saying it is. Of course the panic that food shortages would cause are to be avoided but I hope the reassurances about how the US should  fair in pandemic and the shitshow we are experiencing should be some kind of warning about “promises “. 
 When very large portions of labor at slaughterhouses get sick those facilities will shutter. We are headed to that eventuality much quicker than people realize .  Those food infrastructure jobs are what are going to shock the system. Not production and maybe not transportation but the processing sector is susceptible to labor shortages especially if H1 visas are denied . If for any reason people panic the transportation sector may also become an issue . I am not trying to spread fear, I am saying that buying a 100lbs. of good corn and a few lbs. of hydrated lime while it is still available is cheap insurance. I know that amazon has run out of canned sardines because I get a case per month to supplement protein for lactating sows and amazon informed me my monthly order can’t be filled. All those refrigerated shipping containers stuck in China are also causing supply line issues.
 I would like everyone to think about how exponential growth of Covid-19 will impact food supplies .  This subject is totally absent in MSM but ignorance isn’t bliss. I think there are also other processing sector issues out there . The ones I named are those I have a better knowledge about. The California seafood industry for example is mostly shuttered because of zero restaurant sales and they would have labor issues soon enough anyhow if they were to continue operating . Protein supplies are what I predict to have have issues because they are highly dependent upon cheap labor in the processing business and lack of restaurant sales scrambles supply lines. Frozen food supply lines can’t instantly replace fresh protein sources because there isn’t freezer capacity to instantly change our food system.
 If any of these issues should be covered in the Covid-19 thread let me know.
 
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 10:03:07 PM by Bruce Steele »

TerryM

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #104 on: March 25, 2020, 11:22:42 PM »
Food insecurity may be closer than many believe.


In SW Ontario the wife has been ordering food online, making an appointment to pick it up, then phoning from their parking lot to have it delivered to her car.
Since today's lockdown the BB store has asked all to wait for confirmation before attempting a pickup.
Our order from 3 days ago was to have been ready for pickup today @1:00 PM - it's now 6PM and they still aren't ready. I suspect some minor glitch as they inaugurate their new system. If they should fail there are many other options open & we've plenty to sustain us for at least 10 days.


I don't imagine that this is anything but a minor glitch at a single store, but it does emphasize how dependent many of us are on a long chain of just in time deliveries.


Great thread Bruce, even for those of us unable or unwilling to make even minor adjustments.


Terry
OT - Vacuum packed dried mushrooms will store for a very long time & take nothing more than warm water to rehydrate. - cheap, tasty, compact and damn nutritious.


EDIT] - 7:10 PM
Store just E-Mailed to confirm that our pick-up is ready to go. Some items are not available but most is as ordered.
I won't continue unless a problem occurs.
Terry
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 12:16:16 AM by TerryM »

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #105 on: March 26, 2020, 12:32:34 AM »
For me it is fun ,but gardening , raising baby chicks, looking for wild mushrooms , and foraging should be fun . Cooking is fun and good ingredients make all the difference. For instance I bought some whole corn at the feed store put it through the nixtamalization process , made masa and then tamales.
Well it was OK but nothing like the aroma and taste of good Indian dent corn. It smelled like chicken feed which wasn’t surprising I guess , it was corn for livestock. The tamales were better than I thought they would be and a fifty pound bag for less than twenty bucks could support a family for weeks. So in a pinch feed corn is easier than collecting acorns and processing them . Not half the fun and not as renewable as eating acorns. Acorns are what you need to know when the wheels totally come off . Right now it is easy to just buy a bag of food grade whole corn online  , pick your color.
 We are just now at the place where grocery markets are struggling with stocking shelves. You can still get what you need online .
  Next stage is where stores can’t restock meats and online gets difficult to source staples.
  Acorns is last stage after long term storage starch supplies dwindle. As terrible as it sounds it can still be done . We will miss our sugar ,our alcohol, and the microwave.
 Arguing about face masks will be a mute issue . Having some company will be worth the risk .

Off to do evening chores and feed the new sows their sardines and pasta . It is a little freaky that the internet is almost totally in control of my sales. The sows are going to miss their sardines when this case runs out. Strange that sardines are the first thing to disappear in current collapse.




 

TerryM

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #106 on: March 26, 2020, 01:23:53 AM »
"Having some company will be worth the risk."
Bruce - I hope it doesn't come to that.


I was kept in isolation for 10 days in a Californian penal camp once and it was mind breaking.
Spending weeks at home with my sweety and my toys ain't too bad.


Don't risk your health - please.
Having a connection with you, and others on this forum makes self isolating so much easier.
Terry


Sorry if I'm sounding like some sort of frigging ass, but I don't want a dirge in Bruce's Memory to be posted on the damn good music thread.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #107 on: March 26, 2020, 04:22:25 AM »
I bought eight baby chickens , they are a joy, baby chickens are always a joy. They will take six months to start laying and I wanted some laying hens also so I bought some layers . The chicks were about $5 each and the laying hens cost me $15 each. Chickens help me avoid the store. I wish there was a milkman who delivered bottled milk like the old days. Goat milk is an option when cattle are not . I do have some goat cheese made by a friend.
The spelt I planted in Jan. is almost ready to form grain heads. It has some ergot so we will see. I also planted some spring wheat before our March rains and it is up a couple inches. Rain season was good enough for cabbage , carrots, spelt and cover crops. The snap peas are looking good but potatoes look bad. So goes gardening with successes and failure , for me every year. It is still a learning process and I have to think about high temperature anomalies now and what I need to do to relieve stress when they hit. Water, Water ,Water.
It may get hot this summer. Terry, for what it’s worth the powerwalls are working out very well for me.
As long as the production portion of agriculture and fishing can somehow sustain we surely can figure out how to get production to market. For small farmers like me the collapse of the restaurant business requires a sidestep into direct to the customer and online sales. Restaurants that close may not pay bills but direct customer trade is PayPal.
 I talked to a fish processor today , same story. Collapse of restaurant sales and a doubling of online and store sales. A seafood processor may have some very large restaurant accounts not making payments for fish sold two or three months ago.
 



TerryM

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #108 on: March 26, 2020, 11:08:39 AM »
Bruce
Glad the powerwall is proving it's worth.
Just a guess, but I'd imagine that restaurants will be among the first enterprises to recover once this has run its course.
Food delivery services are doing well presently & they must need supplies. It seems possible that their usual providers might be having difficulty.


Stay Healthy & Enjoy the Chicks ;)
Terry

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #109 on: March 30, 2020, 09:18:28 PM »
Totally off topic. I have also been in the water with white sharks but not nearly as often as Ron Elliot.
We both spent forty years diving sea urchins but I have to admit Ron is in a class of his own.

https://www.nearmissfilm.com/?utm_campaign=f2eef0cc-eaf0-4bd2-9f3b-76284a21bcdd&utm_source=so&utm_medium=mail&cid=408c8c9f-d612-4147-82de-5e38ec7907cf&fbclid=IwAR2BZUjVlfpA4FV3EsRALaGzbH4TyxqdHN-On3CtO2BUYi45hV2wjFAz6wo

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #110 on: March 30, 2020, 09:49:15 PM »
Alcohol shouldn't be a problem. We make a lot of plum and fig wine but only one gallon of grape. Though it will be weaker if the sugar runs out. Anything that's undrinkable gets turned into eau de vie. If that's undrinkable it makes a good handwash. No shortage of vinegar either, some if it cider.
We'll go with chestnuts rather than acorns.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #111 on: April 18, 2020, 03:55:52 AM »
I bought a new wet grinder.
https://www.amazon.com/ZHFEISY-Grain-Mills-Electric-Milling/dp/B07ZK8QVT9

I have my biggest ever Indian corn crop about ready to go into the ground. Waiting for the ground to heat up.  I selected the best corn from a crop I had three years ago. I need to replant to keep the seed viable. So the grinder is for producing masa.
 If I tried to make eau di vie from  my plums it might be easier than canning them. The plum has set a good crop this year.

ps. I should have read the small print, my new grinder will not do wet grinding.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2020, 06:48:24 PM by Bruce Steele »

OrganicSu

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #112 on: April 18, 2020, 06:56:02 PM »
Planted 15kg of 3 year old Broad Bean seed last September so as to renew the seed. Just threw it out by hand and sowed in with a small rotavator at the back of a tiny tractor. Been eating whole broad bean pods for a month, also the the top leaves. If it goes haywire, but not nuclear, then there's enough food in this one plant alone for the entire year, with seed left over for next year.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #113 on: April 18, 2020, 08:53:55 PM »
OrganicSU, Good to hear from you ! Are you letting some of your broad beans dry for storage ? If you keep some for replanting you should put them in the freezer for a week to kill any insect eggs they may harbor. I kept some black-eyed peas and when I replanted them without freezing I got some bad insect problems. Because beans make their own nitrogen they are way up there in importance for a personal survival food seed bank.
 I have acorns in the refrigerator  leaching.  :)    Corn and beans are way easier . 
Hard to believe the acorn challenge is somehow relevant but we both know it is possible to feed ourselves , it is just a question about what we are ready to eat.
Cheers

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #114 on: April 18, 2020, 10:31:14 PM »
Our plums blossomed far too early this year but figs are looking good. A plum/fig blend has a good taste but fig on it's own is not a favourite. Alcohol content is high though so edv is a winner with the locals.
Broad beans never fail (so far), even with the black beetles. We freeze a few kg to stop them turning up in the falafel but they don't eat the cotyledon so the beans are fine for replanting. Blackfly while they are growing is more of a problem.
We are putting in a lot of peas and beans this year, and sugar beet, just in case.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #115 on: April 18, 2020, 10:50:16 PM »
Uniquorn, Have you ever processed a sugar beet ? I processed yacon and canned the syrup but good old white sugar would be nice to have around. Sugar is the first thing your body misses when you go on a foraged diet. It will take starch as a substitute and if it doesn’t get starches the body wants alcohol.  It is hard to believe how much sugar is in our diet until we try eating a diet without the stuff.

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #116 on: April 18, 2020, 11:18:39 PM »
We have an old hand cranked rotary 'shredder' that we use for the apples before pressing (also by hand). We'll do the same with the beets before or after boiling if we have to. We've already tried a small batch with a muslin cloth. It tasted sweet. None of us remember a grandma making it so I can't say if it's just like the old days. I would probably render it down to a syrup and keep it in jars.
It's all hard work. Last year I dried more apples than I pressed. They are popular with the kefir drinkers. That's an idea, dried sugar beet slices :)

OrganicSu

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #117 on: April 19, 2020, 09:08:31 AM »
Sugar is the first thing your body misses when you go on a foraged diet. It will take starch as a substitute and if it doesn’t get starches the body wants alcohol.
Completely true!. This was one of the most noticeable "side effects" during the month of Acorn/forage diet and yet I had forgotten this.
From that period, there's 1 cup of acorn flour left. Will forage them again this year, hopefully.
Had put away the forage and survivalist actions and learning but never the fear that someday it would be needed. It's not needed yet but time to learn more is not unlimited. And so I'm refocusing on it. And I do remember that every step on that road helps reduce carbon footprint.
It's always great to read your posts Bruce, and others.

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #118 on: April 19, 2020, 10:07:02 AM »
oh, sugar beets!

We had to hand-pick sugar beets (that were left behind by the machines) at the collective farm when I was a child. I will never forget that taste. You can eat (at least chew on and spit out the fiber, at least that is what we did) some, but eat too much and you want to throw up!!! :)

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #119 on: May 17, 2020, 05:53:54 PM »
I know a family from LA , parents are both nurses with two children. They come here to see the farm , to see it and know it is real ,that it is possible. They would like out . They were here yesterday and we filled their icebox . Pork , eggs, cabbage and a tour.  We all wore masks but masks for children are comically ineffective. The kids ate oversized carrots but again masks and food and children.
 The hospital is scary, we joked that they thought me getting in with the pigs was dangerous;  before.
We all know they have the dangerous job . So far they and the hospital staff they work with have stayed healthy.
 The solar, the electric wheelhoe, wheat or why I would plant wheat, an acre by hand ?  For me the rational is clear . That primitivism , or something close , offers an alternative . That yes the farm is pastoral and pretty, but more than that it is something that might actually be a viable escape . I want it to be real, to pay for itself , and spend time trying to put the pieces together.
 It would be a story in a book , a picture, a pretty place, but I want it to work. To make food calories from the sun. The hard way , without engines. It is easy to grow so many crops far in excess of personal needs. Putting that production into dried stores is at least a way to quantify the calories produced. So I can say an average residential solar array and electric assist farm tools and an acre of land can produce X amount of calories. That however is more or less a hobby afforded by pigs and an outside income.
 So we can go days without needing a car. I pull a wagon with buckets of grain for the pigs more miles than I drive most weeks. The water and the farm run 100% solar month after month. The powerwalls make solar 24hr electric viable.  We still go to the store but the pandemic helps me to focus on getting by with as few trips as possible. A hobby farm and
a place of some comfort for a man walking the floors of a Covid ward in LA.
 
 
 
 

nanning

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #120 on: May 18, 2020, 04:54:14 AM »
That's wonderful to read Bruce.

Quote
For me the rational is clear . That primitivism , or something close , offers an alternative
Quote
To make food calories from the sun. The hard way , without engines.

 Have you and your partner thought about sharing the manual workload with others? Letting others live on your land would be a matter of trust I guess. I think there are clear advantages in having friends/trusted others to share the farm with, but of course there's the ownership and investments and perhaps legal stuff. I don't mean that you hire them but create a small commune kind of system based on equality.

 I am fit and social and very willing to do manual labour outside for the benefits of a small group and I presume that there are more people like me. Being around such an extremely intelligent warm person with a wealth of experiences like yourself, would be a large bonus.

And

Quote
It is easy to grow so many crops far in excess of personal needs.

 This is what I have realised, now that I have a vegetable garden. I see all those mono-culture rye grass fields around here and think about how many people could live of those fields if they would be used to produce vegetables for humans.

 It could easily be done with many small groups that work as a unit, like in the old days. The best would be if they would live together in long houses or somesuch. It would be very efficient and create beautiful lives close to nature and each other, but that's likely taking it a bit too far for most people. I would want to live in such a place. Everybody a generalist with some specialisations and part of an intimate and open group where everyone knows each other well.

Acorns.
I want to start foraging acorns this autumn so will be reading your expertise and experiences later. Do I remember correctly that there is a website with your experiences?
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
"It is preoccupation with what other people from your groups think of you, that prevents you from living freely and nobly" - Nanning
Why do you keep accumulating stuff?

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #121 on: May 18, 2020, 07:06:10 AM »
Nanning, When fall comes we can collect some acorns.
 I don’t keep a blog anywhere but acorns are covered on the first few pages of this thread.
 Some of the best experiences with communal gardening were from before I owned land. I do have other people that keep their chickens here or a milking goatherd. People have their own interests and chip in when they feel like it but honestly very cheap rent makes the rules a little easier. I was captain of a fishing boat and owner of a farm but I don’t like telling people what to do . So if people show up on the farm they have to be self starters.
 The commons have a place for people with shared interests . Farming the hardest way possible just doesn’t interest most people. 

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #122 on: May 18, 2020, 11:58:51 AM »
Farming the hardest way possible just doesn’t interest most people.

I got myself a scythe last year (it used to belong to my friends' grandfather!). It really is harder work than pushing a lawnmower   :)
Although I must say that the lawnmower can not cut waist-high alfalfa or grass but the scythe can. And uses much less fossil fuel as well!  ;D

etienne

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #123 on: May 18, 2020, 01:06:29 PM »
Well, my experience is that the scythe is not so difficult, but the sharpenning of the scythe is a major issue, so I haven't been able to use mine in good conditions.
I was told to use it in the morning when there is more humidity in the grass, it helps.

Aporia_filia

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #124 on: May 18, 2020, 02:56:23 PM »
Here we use the scythe regularly.
Is important to learn to use both arms and not your right hand as directors of the movement.
But for us the most important part is having the cutting edge like a razor blade, other way is very hard and difficult.
To achieve this we use first the instrument that you can see in the photo. Placing the edge or the blade on the top of the iron thingy and then hammer the edge of the blade till you get a very thin edge that can tehn be sharpened like a razor blade.

Aporia_filia

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #125 on: May 18, 2020, 03:27:29 PM »
Addendum:
There are different scythes for different uses. The one on the photo; short and wide, is used with brambles and fern, and won't get as much sharpening as the one used with grass, which is the long and narrow one that most people recognize.
Is not easy, as some might have notice, to use the hammer and the thingy. It can take an hour to get some results and you have to be very careful of not doing it to strongly and not going past the moment when the blade would break.
The thingy is a traditional tool called cabruña in this area, I don't even know the name in Spanish. Preparing the scythes was more an old man job. They used to nail the cabruña in the soil, sat on the floor, and use their legs to control the blade. I prefer to do it sat on a bench because I find it less tiring, but more tricky.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #126 on: May 18, 2020, 05:45:03 PM »
A peening tool
https://www.lehmans.com/product/peening-jig-for-scythes
and some nice video on peening your blade



El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #127 on: May 18, 2020, 11:55:48 PM »
Yes, I try to learn the art of peening. I have a good hammer and a small anvil and also have some nice whetstones. Still, mine is a very old blade which is hard to hammer out. Anyway, I like it.

Scythers of the world, unite!

Neven

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #128 on: May 19, 2020, 12:06:29 AM »
I'll have to learn to do this. It might do my mowing technique some good, as it's more hacking sometimes than mowing. But that's also because a lot of the vegetation on our plot is rough to mow with a scythe (and a lawnmower).
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El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #129 on: May 19, 2020, 10:55:20 AM »
I'll have to learn to do this. It might do my mowing technique some good, as it's more hacking sometimes than mowing. But that's also because a lot of the vegetation on our plot is rough to mow with a scythe (and a lawnmower).

The real good thing about the scythe is that I can let the vegetation grow pretty tall and can still mow it. That would be impossibble with a lawnmower. The hay I mow is put (30-50 cm thick) around my trees to supress weeds and give nourishment to the roots. Fruit trees seem to like it!

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #130 on: May 19, 2020, 04:56:34 PM »
Thanks for writing your experiences and techniques El Cid. I am learning.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
"It is preoccupation with what other people from your groups think of you, that prevents you from living freely and nobly" - Nanning
Why do you keep accumulating stuff?

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #131 on: May 19, 2020, 08:11:17 PM »
Many happy harvests nanning!

Neven

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #132 on: May 19, 2020, 10:51:06 PM »
The real good thing about the scythe is that I can let the vegetation grow pretty tall and can still mow it. That would be impossibble with a lawnmower.

Indeed, and mowing with a scythe is less work overall than mowing with a lawnmower. I try to let patches stand here and there.

Quote
The hay I mow is put (30-50 cm thick) around my trees to supress weeds and give nourishment to the roots. Fruit trees seem to like it!

I do the same around berry bushes, because they can be difficult to mow around. I put hay around them, and then, some time later, I put a thick layer of grass mulch from the lawnmower. This usually lasts all season with hardly any weeds protruding.

Mind you, these thick patches of mulch are a wonderful haven for slugs to hide and procreate. But we have ducks now.  :)
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uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #133 on: May 20, 2020, 11:18:31 PM »
For me, the best thing about the scythe is the sound.

etienne

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #134 on: May 20, 2020, 11:54:05 PM »
The guy on the video recommended by Bruce also has a video about the second step of the sharpening, with the stone.

Both are very interesting.

I reached the level 1 in sharpening, which means that I can cut thicker plants like buttercups, but grass still bend when I try to cut it.

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #135 on: May 21, 2020, 11:07:49 AM »
You need a stone of course. Use it every couple of minutes

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #136 on: May 21, 2020, 03:40:25 PM »
Favourite scythe. Fits anyone my height, not adjustable. I only use a stone, my peening was too destructive. Soon I will cut the 'hay' in the second image.
Update on the beans and peas in woodchip. I forgot that I also put potatoes in between. They are doing really well. A different family of 3 sisters. Peas and beans don't have a lot of pods yet.

etienne

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #137 on: May 23, 2020, 04:44:50 PM »
Well, I would say that I reached level 2 in sharpening, I am now able to cut thin grass. It's not perfect but it's a step forward. Thanks Bruce for the video.
If somebody has a good tutorial on how to make a handle, I'd be very happy. Mine is good, it's a metallic industrial one, but it is too short. I have to bend my knees quite a lot and my back hurts quite fast.

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #138 on: May 23, 2020, 06:16:37 PM »
Well, I would say that I reached level 2 in sharpening, I am now able to cut thin grass.

Well done!

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #139 on: May 23, 2020, 06:17:29 PM »
I think my scythe needs a good blacksmith . I need the blade edge straightened because it has taken a beating . It is heavy and hitting the ground hard bends the blade. I guess if I can ever make this one work i deserve a new blade. I read you aren’t suppose to peen an American blade but I have ordered a preening jig so I can practice on another blade I have.


https://m.imgur.com/gallery/NNXK5uH



 

Florifulgurator

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #140 on: May 23, 2020, 06:32:38 PM »
Amazing and heartening to see so many scythists in one spot!

For me, the best thing about the scythe is the sound.
Seconded.

But the peening hurts my ears and wrecks my nerves :)
Anyhow I still got lots of anthills to flatten out which would require peening every day.

Instead I found this knive sharpening tool in an abandoned kitchen drawer (foto attached). I also use it for the axe.

An expert friend just came in who taught me scything and peening. He says peening is essential to harden the blade. He finds my idea stupid. Well, for me it works - but I see my tool will wear away the blade over time.


If somebody has a good tutorial on how to make a handle, I'd be very happy. Mine is good, it's a metallic industrial one,
Metal sounds bad to me. Wood of olden times is much lighter. Alas today they use any stupid hardwood, even the heavy beech. Here in Germany you can forget about any industrial scythes (and stones) you get in general gardening shops. Scythe making was an art. Until recently I used a historic one made 1926 by the village rake and scythe maker, custom made for my grandgrandfather. But it is too short for me and the wood got worms. The best modern (and affordable) scythes with adjustable handles and nonlinear axis you get here: https://www.schroeckenfux.at/home-en/  My old one still is a little better because of the lighter wood, so you have a better feel for the dynamics of the blade. Like with the axe, the handle's purpose is to swing the metal (and not the handle).

Aah... rain is over. Perfect time for some scything...
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 06:42:16 PM by Florifulgurator »
Google image search on my avatar image gives "wood". In fact it is the lower part of David Hilbert's tombstone.

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #141 on: May 23, 2020, 09:05:50 PM »
That blade came with an aluminium snath which bent long before the blade was going to. I spent some pleasant time in the woods looking for the perfectly curved young tree to make a new one but none of them were comfortable so I used a straight young tree, fitted the blade to it, measured it to my height with the blade flat to the ground and drilled holes to suit my arms. I never had a problem with it, apart from the split when I hit the ground a few times. The bolts changed the balance a bit but I soon got used to it.

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #142 on: May 23, 2020, 09:09:43 PM »
BTW, some say this is the best scythe of all:

https://www.schroeckenfux.at/scythes/scythes-models/

Disclaimer: i don't have one, but think about getting it. I use a really old and not so good WW2 model :) that was used for manually harvesting wheat on the Great Plain of Hungary.

BTW, Both may grandfathers used scythes to harvest wheat and my father was carrying water as a child for harvesters (they drank a lot of water in the heat!) and my mom was a goose-herd during her summers...no wonder I am so attracted to the soil and the land :)
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 09:19:13 PM by El Cid »

etienne

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #143 on: May 23, 2020, 11:32:14 PM »
According to this web-site, the problem might not be the length of the handle, but the position of the elements.
http://www.faulx.info/mapage5/index.html


I'll have to try next time.

etienne

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #144 on: May 24, 2020, 11:15:00 AM »
Instead I found this knive sharpening tool in an abandoned kitchen drawer (foto attached). I also use it for the axe.
The blade of the scythe is made of a "thick" piece of steel (I guess it is not Iron) that is not hard enough to be sharpened, but that is strong enough to support all the strokes it will get while working. The fold makes it rigid and stable.

The penning is there to create a short area that is extremely hardened (shaping steel at low temperature has a strong hardening effect) , very thin, that can be sharpened, but that would break if it wasn't supported by the thicker part.

If you have a scythe that has been well penned during years, I'm sure you can just use a sharpening stone for years, but a time will come where the steel will become softer and the stone would have to be used so often that some penning will be required. My father in law has such a scythe, but I had to buy a new one, and my feeling is that "ready to use" in fact means "ready for penning".

I guess that if the scythe was fully hardened in the factory, that it wouldn't be possible to create the thin border that is required to cut the grass.

El Cid

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #145 on: May 24, 2020, 06:03:18 PM »
There's an old guy who sometimes (quite rarely) comes over to me to help out in the garden and I asked him if he could help me to learn peening. Turns out he started harvesting by scythe when he was 11, so he has tons of knowledge. He peened my scythe and taught me how to use it and although I've seen many videos , his 1 hour tutoring was worth more than all those vids!
Now I can cut even 3-4 cm small grass with wide, clean cuts. I am on a whole new level !

So if you can, find an old guy who teaches you the tricks

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #146 on: May 24, 2020, 06:29:03 PM »
I just checked, mine is half a main short of a coudée but it feels ok. I'll try the peening again and see if I have to use the stone less.

etienne

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #147 on: May 24, 2020, 09:12:53 PM »
Well, I also use the stone quite a lot. I had a material science class in College a long time ago, and it is what I remember of that time.
There aren't so many old men who used the scythe intensively. Tractors arrived after WW2, and that's already more than 70 years ago.
On normal years, I wouldn't need a scythe, it's because of the Covid19 that I couldn't use the machine of a neighbor to cut the grass regularly, so it became to high for that machine. It's a field were we cut the grass so that the kids can play soccer, but with social distancing, the concept didn't work well this year. If I had the opportunity to use it more often, I would need a teacher.
One of my sons tried the scythe, and he wasn't convinced. He didn't have the patience to learn.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #148 on: May 24, 2020, 10:07:48 PM »
El CID, We are the old men !  I traveled to Hungary and Poland in 1991 looking for traditional agriculture. Horses, scythes, wheat in shocks, and although the memories were still honored in Hungary it was still in practice in Poland . I don’t know thirty years later.
 I am glad there is an internet and maybe I can figure out how to sharpen a scythe with lots of practice but finding other people with knowledge about old farming technology is an esoteric exercise . I have a hard time explaining why I planted wheat. After all a 5 lb. sack is only $2.50 and the work it takes to get one sack of finely milled flour is considerable. Why I am trying to farm without using fossil fuels is another head scratcher . Why grow so much cabbage that you need to make gallons of sauerkraut ?
Forage ?
 I found a spring , I don’t have much slope to work with so I trenched a line to a buried tank. I have it plumbed and it is producing about 120 gallons a day gravity fed to my buried tank. I would like to start some trees with permanent buried water supply . I have some rare Chilean Wine palm trees that are several years old and ready to plant outside. They are very slow growing but reach enormous size at maturity. They also produce buckets of small nuts that have a hard shell and taste exactly like coconut.
I will never live long enough to see them fruit but I think they could survive most anything climate change may have to offer around here. I think of preserving traditional agriculture as a gift to generations forward of those who thought they didn’t need to know such things.

https://imgur.com/gallery/DfC5GmV
via Imgur for iOS

Question, does the imgur link work ?  Nothstine dent corn, cabbage, and wheat. Cultivated with an electric wheelhoe . No fuel except initial tilling. Wheat and cabbage from farm produced compost, chicken , horse and goat manures.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 10:20:56 PM by Bruce Steele »

uniquorn

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #149 on: May 24, 2020, 10:28:27 PM »
imgur link works for me, but how long does it last?
We also planted wheat (not as much as that) but we don't try to process it yet, we just give it to the hens. Bought a hand grinder just in case but 50 turns for a cup of flour is hard work.