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Author Topic: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path  (Read 8418 times)

Reallybigbunny

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #50 on: September 30, 2017, 08:27:06 AM »
Hi Clare, please see my pot in Consequences, places becoming less liveable thread :)

Avalonian

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #51 on: September 30, 2017, 12:24:09 PM »
Just wanted to let you know that I've now started a local project in Mid Wales (Llandrindod) to look at using the acorns as part of local self-sustainability. We're surrounded by oakwoods, and some of them have quite low-tannin acorns. Others take a lot of leaching, but it's still doable.

We've only just begun this, but have a few at-least-theoretically-enthusiastic volunteers. Unfortunately we're away for the autumn, so are directing activities from afar! I'm looking at this being a relatively long-term project, but I think it's got a lot of potential. Certainly, the first experiments over the past couple of years have been rather delectable... and I do recommend simple acorn griddle-cakes flavoured with hogweed seeds!*

Anyhow, thanks Bruce for the inspiration.  :)

*Make sure you can definitely identify hogweed, and won't mix it up with, say, Hemlock...

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #52 on: September 30, 2017, 06:45:54 PM »
Dear Sidd, I put one cup of acorns ,ground into cornmeal consistency , into a quart jar and fill with water. I pour off about three cups of water a day and repeat about six or seven times over the period of a week.  When you pour off the water you will see a white layer of starch that rests at the top of the acorn meal that you should try to retain... This starch can be used as a thickener for various recipes like chocolate pudding or Dotorimuk.  The problem with flow through is you will lose the starch but I believe flow through would do a good job of removing tannins. All acorns have different amounts of tannin so the amount of water I use might be different than what your local acorns require.
 Maybe the most valuable part of the Acorn Challenge for both OrganicSU and I was learning that foraging and preparing acorns has the potential to get you through a tight spot . It is a confidence builder . The first year gave me some impetus to be better prepared  and inspired this years zero ff garden . I have been drying corn, squash seed and beans as dry goods for winter. I mean acorns are
O.K. and relatively tasty but variety is a good thing in the kitchen.
 So I am coming up with some preliminary calorie numbers. My dent corn crop produced the most calories which is probably why it is so important to so many Native American Indians. It is also fairly easy to dry and store...no threshing...no winnowing . The squash seed is labor intense but they dry quickly in a hot sunny window. The beans need picking , threshing and winnowing and for me they produced far less calories than corn on a similar sized planting area. I haven't started on harvesting the amaranth yet so I don't have a calorie count but as with the beans they require threshing and winnowing. I have been looking at bicycle threshing machines but that is a project for another year and for now I am using manual methods.
 Preliminary calorie count. 300,000 from corn, 50,000 from squash seed and about 10,000 from beans.
That and this years acorns, forage, and winter green vegetables should get the wife and I through two or three months . The chickens will provide another 5,000 calories and an acorn fed pig another 100,000 but we won't use anywhere near a whole pig in two or three months. Salted and air cured pork can last over two years without refrigeration.
 I believe Organic SU proved that an avid forager can get by on very few fossil fuel calories. Knowing which plants are locally available, knowing when and where to find them and learning how to make tasty meals with what's available is a challenge . If we had grown up in a hunter gatherer society we would have mentors to educate us but expert advice is hard to come by on this subject so the Internet is a handy backup. If the internet went down relearning how to do all this would be extreamly difficult .
Seek out good council, read, be careful and like Avalonian says know your hogweed from your hemlock.
 I am already making plans for next years garden efforts and harvesting tools. It will be awhile before I get spring fever but grain crops are next .
 There are some imbedded fossil fuel calories in my old 1960 Massey Ferguson ,my electric tiller and solar array but they can be amortized over several years. Direct fossil fuel use zero. Garden food calories from dried crops ~ 375,000 . Forage season for walnuts and acorns is just begining and I have started using piggy biodiesel in my Ford truck so collection costs will be from renewable energy.

~ 375,000 and counting

« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 06:55:33 PM by Bruce Steele »

sidd

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #53 on: October 02, 2017, 07:42:48 AM »
Thanks for the water volume numbers. I think i definitely got enuf waterflow in a stream, but i may do well water for control reasons.

sidd

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #54 on: November 13, 2017, 03:53:17 AM »
It is acorn season. The black oaks dropped acorns in the Sierra back in Sept. , I only collected enough black acorns to start a few new trees. The valley oaks masted in October and the pigs have eaten most of the two hundred pounds I collected. The coast live oaks are having a very big mast so I am working on some live oaks this year. The cork oaks are also dropping acorns right now . The cork oaks yield a nice white flour . All the others yield brown flour. My staple flour producer remains Holm oak acorns from last years mast. The Holm oaks aren't dropping yet but I still have enough acorns from last year to maintain acorn flour production year round.
 I produced a batch of flour for a local cultural event. I used 2 pounds of Holm oaks and saved the starch that I got for the recipe that follows
.8 pounds flour
3/4 cup acorn starch
Gallon + 3 pints water
 Here is a letter from a friend who made the mush she describes.


The acorn mush was a BIG hit!!



Ignoring your instructions, I waited until very early Saturday morning to cook it in a stainless steel stockpot. I mixed the starchy fraction into 3 quarts of water first, then thoroughly whisked in the dry flour a little at a time before turning on the heat. As it began to thicken I added 2 more quarts of water, stirring constantly throughout the process. When it seemed thick enough, I turned off the heat and put the lid on. When I got it to the Museum a couple of hours later it had thickened even more, so I stirred in another 2 cups of water before transferring the mush to a big basket for serving at room temperature. It stayed pretty thick even after that; I could have added more water but decided to leave it that way.



We put it out in the private area for the Chumash presenters and their families, along with other refreshment snacks  -- toasted chia seeds, lemonade-berry drink, and various traditional (!) Indian foods like coffee, granola bars and Fritos.



The mush came out with a mild but nutty flavor and just the right gluey consistency. Everyone -- even the few public visitors who we allowed to have a taste -- agreed it was delicious! The whole big basketful was all gone by mid-afternoon, and I got SO many compliments! Of course I told everyone that the credit was due to you for having done all the hard part.



sidd

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #55 on: November 13, 2017, 11:21:04 PM »
Mr. Steele, do you use the hides from your pigs ?

sidd

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #56 on: November 15, 2017, 07:28:37 AM »
Sidd, Hams , bacon and Lardo are all cured skin on. The butcher skins some cuts but there is really no hide.

sidd

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #57 on: November 15, 2017, 07:45:31 AM »
Just wondered. I like pigskin gloves.

sidd

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #58 on: December 02, 2017, 05:40:09 PM »
Something called carbon farming is being explored here in Calif.  Problem is the analysis isn't full lifecycle so although composting pasture results in a carbon gain there isn't an accounting of whether farmers just add extra cattle to their newly improved pasture forage. Since cattle are literally
" the sacred cow " here in the west nobody seems willing to confront the obvious error in paying farmers to improve soil carbon while ignoring the carbon-methane consequences of the cattle any given pasture supports.
 Soil carbon gain on conventional tilled crop land is only about 1% even with cover crops and reincorporating crop residues. That is a best case and carbon loss is more common.
 Silvoculture or some mimicry of dehesa here in the new world is untested . Hence my interests in testing nut crops and pigs as grazers. Pigs don't have the same methane issues as cattle and can utilize acorns. Also they are very happy with a truck full of acorns and know now the sound of the diesel truck driving down the driveway and come running at my arrival.
 Although I have been feeding pigs acorns from valley oaks for a couple months the Holm oaks I prefer for my own consumption are only now beginning to fall. I have about 200 lbs. in the drying racks. Every year I find more and more interest in acorns as a component of the human diet but of course I am only retracing a well trod path. Here is an interesting ethnographic study on Holm oak utilization in Spain prior to 1965 from people who lived it.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rajindra_Puri/publication/319638545_The_Consumption_of_Acorns_from_Quercus_spp_in_the_Central_West_of_the_Iberian_Peninsula_in_the_20th_Century/links/59b93bd9aca27241618d217f/The-Consumption-of-Acorns-from-Quercus-spp-in-the-Central-West-of-the-Iberian-Peninsula-in-the-20th-Century.pdf?origin=publication_detail

 
 

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #59 on: January 07, 2018, 10:34:15 AM »
It's the first week into this years zero carbon farm and forage efforts. Last year was very different from this year because I didn't make preparations last year. This year I devoted about a half acre of garden into crops like beans, dent corn, and squash seed . These crops were dried a couple months ago and I have had a good drying season for acorns. I ran my tractor exclusively upon homemade pig lard biodiesel for my whole garden season so the crops I produced were largely carbon free, fossil fuel free.
I also tilled and planted about one acre into a cover crop of favas and peas. I have been irrigating but we are finally going to get some rains ! Without early rains I don't have any wild greens like I had last year so I will be eating pea tendrils from the cover crop.
 I currently have over eight hundred pounds of acorns but most of that will go to the pigs. I have been collecting and supplementing the pigs with acorns for over three months. I have both Cork oak, and Holm oak dried and milled into flour. I raked about three hundred pounds of Holm oak acorns in three hours a couple days ago. That was from three trees planted at a church. The mowed lawns make collecting pretty easy.
 I still have the same six chickens I had last year. They run free during the day and feed themselves where they want. At night I go lock them into their coop. I have a theory that the predators don't like the pigs because before I got pigs coyotes and bobcats would take chickens in broad daylight , no problems lately.
 This years diet isn't nearly as austere as last year . Beans and cornbread are a lot more familiar in multiple recipes . The acorn flour and acorn starch are more like ingredients of the cornbread and bean staples. I also stewed and froze several quarts of tomatoes to make for some variety. There are butternut squash buried under some hay in the hay barn to keep them from freezing and I have a big box of potatoes sprouting for planting also covered in hay.
 I have plans on adding grains into this years garden so next year will include bread. I should also start a couple bee hives because sugar is still the first thing you notice missing in a foraged/farm crop diet.
Fruit preserves , dried apricots and Yacon syrup are better than zero sugar but until you quit eatting prepared foods you don't notice how much sugar there is in the American diet. Last year I lost weight but this year my wife and I are planning a couple months and I hope to gain a little weight in the process.
 

Avalonian

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #60 on: January 07, 2018, 11:12:22 AM »
Because it isn't said enough, Bruce, I just want to reiterate how inspirational this is. For myself and, I'm sure, lots of other people taking baby steps down this route, your advice is absolutely invaluable. I'm trying to get other people here into acorns, and it's starting to work... slowly! But there is so much valuable information in that last post alone... just knowing what is possible makes a huge difference. Please, do keep it coming!  :)

Bruce Steele

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #61 on: January 07, 2018, 05:25:45 PM »
Avalonian, Thanks and I hope you find something useful in my efforts. Most of my project is with
garden crops / forage developed by Native Americans. Using homemade bio , solar power and electric tillers is a way to make the work easier utilizing mechanical slave labor without fossil fuels.
 I am a big fan of using acorn starch in lots of recipes. The preparations for making acorn flour done by native tribes lost the starch , Dotorimuk, in processing. Both OrganicSU and I explained how to recover the starch while preparing acorn flour. Different types of acorns have different starch yields. Cork Oak seem to yield more starch than Holm Oaks. I was wondering how the various Oak species in Wales taste, look and what starch yield you can get ? I use the starch as a thickener so puddings, pies, stews, all can use some acorn starch. I think also that the sticky texture that the local Chumash prefer in acorn mush can be enhanced with starch.
 None of this work is difficult and it can easily be scaled up to feed a group of people year round. It may take me a couple more years to get there but year round food supply using these methods is my goal. One month last year, two or three this year and with grains and honey maybe I can get close fairly soon.
 

TerryM

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Re: Zero-Carbon Farming and Living via the Acorn Path
« Reply #62 on: January 07, 2018, 06:20:38 PM »
Thanks again Bruce.


Yacon syrup was what sent me off to Wiki this time. What a wonderful plant!


The Chumash used agave as a sweetener and staple, and I can't help but wonder if it might serve your sweet tooth.


https://www2.palomar.edu/users/ddozier/California/regions/Southern/agave_pit_roasting.htm

offers a quick overview of the cultivation and preparation of what some consider the first agricultural crop in North America. I've found agave pits in regions that have been far too dry for agave to grow in since the pluvial period that accompanied the ice age.


Have a wonderful 2018
Terry