Monthly Archives: September 2013

Simple Living: Pond Swirl Filter, Feeding Koi, Releasing Geckos, Using Rocks, Aquaponics

In this instalment, I work on improving the food pond by adding a DIY swirl filter made from a dustbin / trashcan and a simple gravel filter / growbed for kangkong, watercress and other plants that don’t mind being constantly flooded. There’s still room to expand with more beds in the future, as well as floating island planters. The medium for the growbed is volcanic rock gravel from my land. The swirl filter uses a modified laundry basket lid at the bottom, and although I forgot to show it in the video, there is a T connector at the end of the hose under the laundry basket lid to send the water in two diferent directions.

I also show off a quick bench I made out of a pallet, some uses for rocks including simple terracing, and I release some geckos into the house for pest control.

The Venus Project?

I’ve been watching the Venus Project with interest, but I don’t really believe in city cultures. It doesn’t get to the root of the problem; which is that we shouldn’t be flocking to the cities in the first place; it’s a recipe for starvation. Humans are naturally forest animals and the resources in cities are very limited as it is, without millions of people all competing for very finite food, space and air.

It also relies on a form of government (cybernated), and I feel that the entire concept of government needs to be abandoned if we’re to move forward as a species. We operated without government or currency for thousands of years. Humans don’t need to design vast expensive eco-cities to survive, all we need to do is stop working ceaselessly to empower and enrich the elite .1% and take our lives back into our own hands again.

We should believe in ourselves, and no longer accept being governed by politicians, corporations or machines. We have the inherent ability to voluntarily co-operate to create a better society. We can’t continue to accept the lies fed to us by our ‘leaders‘ to convince us that without more and more government, technology, surveillance, military and policing, humans will turn into violent marauding cannibals with no sense of morality or community.

Before most of the world was colonized and corrupted by European bureaucracy and greed, most humans lived in gift-economies where everyone gave to everyone else without expectations. We must all be aware by now that capitalism requires us to exploit each other and our environment to survive. All we have to do is break the cycle and go back to being free humans.

A world of small, independent but loosely interconnected communities that trade with each other is my solution. Instead of fiat currency, people would deposit the goods and tools their community creates at an inter-communal market, and then take whatever their village needs that’s been deposited by other communities. Like a give-away shop that every interested community in the area contributes to. It doesn’t take legions of engineers and future technologies to create a functional sustainable society, just the will of a few people that are ready to reclaim their lives and live without violence (government) and greed (money).

Instead of a permanent police force, the community would form a group to apprehend a bad seed for trial when necessary, and then the group would immediately disband. Trusted impartial elders living alone and apart from any community, would solve disputes between members of different villages.

Everyone in a community would forage for or grow food three days a week (pursuing their individual trade the rest of the week) and at the end of the day, they’d pile up their harvest in the village square for everyone to eat. That way everyone would get a healthy, varied diet of food grown in different micro-climates.

We wouldn’t continue to clear millions of acres of forest every year to grow grain to feed to livestock that eat significantly more food than they give back in meat. It takes 10 kg of grain to produce just 1 kg of red meat. It’s hard to imagine just how much land goes to waste to feed these oversized franken-animals. Even on fish farms, 2.2 kg of wild-caught fish are used as feed to make 0.4 kg of farmed fish.

Modern sustainable tribal societies are no pipe dream. It can and is being done right now by regular people all over the world. It really doesn’t need to be as complicated as the Venus project. Aquaponics, permaculture, social anarchy, earthbag domes, free stores, barter economies, free & open source software; we already have all the tools we need to create the future right now, they just need to be combined.

The Venus Project also seems to ignore indigenous cultures by providing one all-encompassing technological-minded solution for all humans. I think there’s a simpler solution and it doesn’t take intricate architecture and complex electronics to envision, it’s already happening today in various self-sufficient eco-villages around the world, and in the last remaining subsistence farming cultures like Papua New Guinea and the Quechua people. If more people would willingly abandon the broken system and embrace the new, old way of life, the elites would eventually have no one left to exploit.

The biggest trepidation I have for the Venus project is the use of language such as: ‘what is needed is the enactment of international laws’, ‘new world civilization’, ‘global, resource-based civilization’. The last thing the world needs is yet more laws and enforcers, an absolute monoculture and an all-powerful international government. All government is violent by definition, so the violent force that would be needed to uphold a global government would be staggering. Whether the enforcers be human or machine, people that refused to conform to the Venus new world order for whatever reason would be in for a rough time.

I don’t believe that the answer to the world’s problems can be found in further globalisation and whitewashing of culture, but rather in networks of deglobalised, small communities. It’s worrying enough that the Internet is increasingly being swallowed up by Facebook, I don’t want to see the whole planet turn into what is essentially a corporeal Facebook.

Technology has its place, but I don’t think it should control society. Computers need to be used as tools, not be made into our overlords. Venus Project society would give the computer programmers all the control, just like the politicians or corporations have all the control now. The approved programmers would decide how the computers would divide the resources. Power always corrupts.

Stop waiting around for the enlightened future you crave to be created by non-existent generous billionaires, and spread the seeds to make it happen yourself, right here, right now.

Reclaiming Our Earth

The best thing I can do with my time on this earth is to try to show people by example that they don’t need to cling to the ‘safety net’ of exploitative industrial civilization; that there’s a better and easier way to live a life, and all it takes is the will to step outside the ring and be a human again; instead of the single-minded machines we’ve been coaxed into believing we are.

We’ve been flimflammed into accepting that we’re all unruly beings that require constant policing and governance to act civilly, that without force and the always loaming threat of incarceration, we can’t be trusted to act morally. This is a blatant falsehood. It is human nature to co-operate for the betterment of our community. It’s human nature to do good without monetary incentive or threat of violence. Debt, taxes, serfdom, the permanent polluting of our soil, water and air in exchange for momentary convenience; all these things are absolutely not our nature, and we can’t be whole again until we’ve shook free of them.

The only way I can see to stop the cycle of destruction is to create a better society without violence (government), wealth (exploitation) and hunger (wealth) and hope that people are inspired by it, and choose to leave their credit cards, microwave dinners and designer handbags behind to join a better world where human feet know the texture of soil again.

Destroying the old society with violence cannot work because the next civilization that rises from the ashes will just fall into the same traps we did and repeat the global destruction of natural, indigenous culture in seek of profit and power for the few at the top. People need to abandon the broken civilization willingly to break the loop and free Earth forever. They need to willingly step away from the broken material matrix and return to the earth that sustained their forefathers for millennia.

I saw an old lady complaining that some kids were playing too loud, and it was giving her a headache. I want to show her she can be happy too; that play and joy aren’t going to break the world. She needs to see with her own eyes, a better system in action; see it actually working. Only then can she let go of her fear and join us in the daylight.

Simple Living: Food Pond Permaculture, Talking to a Tree Rat & Homemade Beehive

Putting my new camera to use around the homestead. My new pond should give me greens all year round, and when I have enough fish I’ll expand further into outdoor aquaponics & grow all kinds of fruit and veg in the water on floating foam rafts. If this experiment is a success, I plan to put more ponds between the trees in the orchard.

I made a path (hand-mixed concrete poured over a hacksawed rebar frame joined with wire) and new raised beds to go with it. Hopefully some of the visiting bees will take up residence in the very basic beehive I put together. It doesn’t have trays so harvesting of honey is a no-go, but bees need the honey they make to feed their young, so that’s just fine.

Mosquito fish are likely the best fish for hot climate aquaponics systems, especially if you’re not interested in eating the fish (tho they are edible if you’re so inclined). They can survive all kinds of calamities unfazed, don’t need a pump, breed like flies (they’re one of the few live-bearing fish), and even survive in a few cm of wet mud when the waterways here dry up in the summer. The ideal permaculture fish. Tho I’m trying other fish in the pond, I’ve kept mosquito fish most of my life and doubt anything can top them.

I sunk holed bricks and cages filled with stones in the pond to allow fry to hide. I also added some driftwood.

Simple Living: Hare Droppings, Papayas in Raised Beds & Wild Olive Tree Adventures

It’s December 25th. The tomatoes have completely overgrown their beds and are almost ready to be pulled, the celery is loving all the rain, and the sweet winter fruits are ripening. I find a surprising new source of free fertilizer right under my nose. Papayas I planted from seed just a few months ago are growing and flowering in their raised bed (compost over gravel).

I then venture into the wild looking for olive trees, and find plenty. Avoiding the ardent mushroom pickers down below, I also stumble onto an old abandoned olive grove on the mountainside.

Please excuse the poor video quality, the new phone I’ve been using is really not cutting it – Had to leave a lot of great stuff out because the video was too dark/grainy/motion blurred, making this a personally disappointing instalment. I’ll try to get another video device before continuing.

This is the companion video to the ‘making quick water cured olives’ vid I posted earlier today. I decided to separate them since most people looking for olive curing guides aren’t interested in the other stuff.

Simple Living: Water-Curing Olives Quickly (By Cutting Them)

I demonstrate another water curing method with olives I foraged for. This method is harder work than the previous method I demonstrated, but the olives will be ready to eat much sooner.

A lot of people don’t eat salt, so this is a healthier alternative to eating traditional olives.

The more you change the water, the quicker they’ll cure. If you only change it once a week, it’ll take at least 4 weeks. If you’re changing it twice a day, they’ll be ready much sooner. You’ll notice the water will change colour to purple very quickly.

When the water begins to remain clear for a couple of days, taste an olive and see if they’re ready. It’s up to you how much to leech them. I personally leech until all the bitterness is gone, but some people like them slightly bitter.

Different sizes and varieties might have varying results. The shelf life of olives made using this method will be much shorter than with other methods, so refrigerate.

Update: 6 months later, and the olives are still good to eat, stored out of the fridge in a dark place.

Simple Living: Building a Low Cost Panel Home (Structural Insulated Panels / SIP)

Using painted galvanized steel structural insulated foam panels (SIPs), my awesome brother (the one wearing the hat) put together my 96 square meter (including the large verandah) house in 4 weekends. That’s 1033 square feet. The building materials are all readily available and cheap, with the big expense being the concrete foundation that’s needed to bolt the panels to.

The panels are highly insulated and make for comfortable temperatures inside year round, saving up to 50% on energy costs compared to other building styles. I also chose a cool and breezy mountain-foot site to build. I have 3 solar photovoltaic panels and 2 wind generators for power, connected to a sinewave inverter.

I was initially going to make a much smaller house, but quickly realised that the panels were so cheap that adding another room and a large verandah wouldn’t increase the cost much at all. If I need more space in the future, I can close the verandah and turn it into another room.

Because we didn’t use a skeleton frame, the house has to be a bungalow. For multi-storey buildings, a steel skeleton frame is needed.

Panels: €11,000
Foundation: €12,000

More information about SIPs here: http://www.eco-panels.com/
(I didn’t use this US company as I’m European, but their website is informative)

Simple Living: Making Lettuce Wraps

Tomato-avocado-cucumber-lettuce wraps, with figs and grapes on the side. I make wraps like these everyday, varying the ingredients depending on what fruit and greens I have available. For super large wraps, you can use collard greens or chard.

My trusty camera phone met with an accident, and the one I’m using now isn’t really cutting it. Sorry about that.

Cherokee Purple, Super Marmande and Black Cherry are 3 of the heirloom tomatoes featured in this instalment.

A video I started before this one is coming soon, I got set back by the loss of my camera.