Category Archives: self sufficiency

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.

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: Picking a Wild Salad

While foraging, I make a quick wild salad consisting of sea beets, corn marigold greens, yellow mustard leaves, mallow leaves and flowers, dandelion greens, prickly lettuce, smooth sow thistles, sourgrass, wild water-cured olives and lemon juice (from a street tree).

I wrote a brief article about a bad experience I had with Youtube’s
automated copyright violation system, and a company called
“Rumblefish”:

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/02/26/2141246/youtube-identifies-birdsong-as-copyrighted-music

Basically, their system identified this video as containing copyright
infringing music owned by Rumblefish. They put ads on it, with the
proceeds of the ads going partly to Rumblefish, partly to Google.

Since there’s no music in my video, I disputed the claimed copyright
violation, and Rumblefish was sent a link to my video to check it and
see if Youtube’s automated system had made a mistake.

They checked the video, and told Youtube that there was no mistake,
and that they do own the music in the video. So the dispute was
closed, and there was seemingly nothing else I could do.

But I wrote an article about it on Slashdot, and somehow it went viral
today, spreading all over the web, and Rumblefish backtracked,
released my video and sent me an apology.

This is the notice Youtube sent me after Rumblefish reviewed my dispute:

“All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their
claims to some or all of its content:

Entity: rumblefish Content Type: Musical Composition”

I did email Rumblefish to complain, and posted a thead on Google’s
help forum, but they didn’t do anything until my article on Slashdot
went viral and woke them from their slumber.

So they’ve now released my video and removed their ads, but for a while they were making money from my video. I think if this were made more public, Google would be forced to change their system and this would stop happening. Rumblefish and other similar intellectual property companies have been gaming the system like this for a while now, and this is just the first time the public outcry has been big enough to force them to correct their behaviour.

Simple Living: How to Build Raised Beds on Compacted Rock

This is how I make modest raised beds on a particulary rotten corner of my land that’s almost solid rock, using all kinds of free materials from the forest and beyond.