October 31, 2020

Storing Garden Carrots In Fresh Moss

Cold weather is coming. We harvested all our carrots today, so have been looking for a long term carrot storage method.

Formerly we have kept garden carrots in the fridge, which worked well. This year we had more carrots than fridge space, so had to try something else.

The easiest method is leaving carrots in the ground with mulch on top. We have done that before because I am inherently lazy.

However, going outside midwinter to dig carrots can be bracing, so this year we opted for storing them in our unheated garage in a bin. 

We don't have sand on hand, and did not want to buy any. Same with other materials we have seen recommended like potting soil or peat moss. 

Then we read about using fresh forest moss for packing carrots for winter storage. 

Moss is something we have in abundance in our back yard, and pretty much everywhere else around here. Our humid maritime climate means that the Acadian forest often has large, rich, thick matts of green, green moss on the forest floor.

First, we researched (we do a lot of research in this house) how to properly harvest wild forest moss, having never done it before.

We learned that moss is a terribly fascinating and delicate life form. It has no roots - the leaves absorb moisture directly from the air.

Most importantly, mosses are very slow growing. Once harvested, they can take anywhere from 5 to 20 years to grow back to their former green glory.

If too much is taken, or taken in the wrong way, it may never grow back. 

I went to the woods and approached the moss carefully, respectfully, and gratefully. After thanking the forest for its bounty, I filled a bag with chunks of deep, puffy, fresh moss. 

I harvested this precious resource by taking smaller pieces over a large area instead of a big piece from one area.

It was a beautiful moment with my hands in the richness of the moss matts. The smell was a clean smelling mix of the freshness of the green parts mixed with the decay of the lowest brown layer. 

I made an offering, and headed home to my carrots.

Supervised by the ever watchful Linda, I took a bin and started with a layer of moss at the bottom. Then we placed a layer of carrots down on this moist, comfy bed. 

Then moss, then carrots. We repeated this until all the carrots were in the bin. 

The last layer was moss, then a plastic bag went on top of that to allow the bin to breathe. Done.

We had the perfect amount of moss, which was great because I did not want to harvest any more than we required.

It is the first time we have tried this method. It will be nicer to be able to go to the garage and take carrots from the moss bin, rather than liberating them from cold soil in the middle of winter. 

Once again we didn't have to buy anything, although I see that one can buy a box of fresh sheet moss online for about $70.00. 

Wow. The moss in our bin may be more valuable than the carrots nestled among it.

Moss is so in demand that poaching is a problem in some areas. 

We will report on our experiment as we (and our carrots) slide into winter. I hear it's coming... again. 

What is your favourite long term storage method for carrots?

To learn about forest moss, and about sustainably harvesting it, see here.

October 29, 2020

The Wonders of Crapitalism

Crapitalism is rapidly destroying the planet. Of this there is no question. 

In a crapitalist system nothing can be left alone. 

Anything 'undeveloped' must be 'developed'. Forests must be cut down and replaced by row upon row of ugly buildings. 

Crapitalism never stops. 

Once considered limitless, the mighty Amazon rainforest has been utterly wiped out by greedy interests looking for a quick buck, with the blessing of their captain of crapitalism as the head of state. 

It is the same everywhere.

Where there were once massive old growth forests across N. America, there are now only scattered 'tree museums'. It will cost you a dollar just to seem them.

Only a few hundred years running, and crapitalists have destroyed nearly everything in the name of profit. 

Crapitalism not only consumes natural resources, it also consumes people. 

Your employer is your master in crapitalism. They are your god and you serve them. Any excess profit you make all goes to them, not you. 

If you look at them the wrong way, or ask questions, you are tossed out. 

Slavery has been replaced by wage slavery. Most of the wage slave's earnings goes back to the landlords, bankers, bosses and other parasites. 

What a miserable system. 

None of this could exist if it were not for spending trillions of dollars on advertising/marketing/propaganda campaigns to brainwash the masses into compliance.

If that doesn't work, and it usually does, there is always the state's monopoly on violence, which it will not hesitate to use in support of the crapitalist project.

There are alternatives, and we better start trying some of them before the crapitalists kill everything and everyone.

October 25, 2020

The Harvest Goes On

Spring often comes late to this land, but so does winter, meaning that we normally have a more luxurious and extended Autumn than other parts of Canada. 

That means that in late October our harvest goes on. In a good year we can get a solid 6 months of fresh veggies.

There have been at least 3 light frosts so far, but the carrots, kale, beets, and brussel sprouts rode them out. Even the second sowing of peas has weathered the cold just fine, and are currently flowering. 

We may not get a second harvest of peas, but now when we ask ourselves, "to plant or not to plant?", the answer is always, "PLANT!"

Our blue potatoes have been boxed in our unheated garage for a while. They will feed us well into winter. 

We usually let our carrots stay in the ground until the colder weather begins. Before they come out we will get next year's garlic in the ground.

We did more canning than ever this year, although because we are relative beginners, it wasn't as much as we would like to see. 

Our goal is to do more canning in future gardening seasons. Besides what canning we did get done, we also froze a lot of garden produce, including whole tomatoes. 

As our harvest goes on, it occurs to us how much work this all is, planting, growing, harvesting, and preserving your own food. 

However, the payback is huge in every way, and worth every moment. 

I can't think of a more enjoyable, vital undertaking than growing clean, nutritious food for yourself and those around you.

Does your harvest go on?

October 22, 2020

Magical Fall Bike Ride

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The colours in the forest are at their height, and summer heat waves have travelled on till next year.

The cooler temperatures make fall perfect for riding. So when I received notice that we had a parcel at the community mailbox 4 km down the road, I excitedly hopped on my bike. 

On this ride I took the paved road down to the mailboxes. Once I had my parcel and had it secured in my pack, I took a different, new route home.

After leaving the mailbox I go down to where Acacia Brook starts mixing with sea water. Here I cross a bridge and access a gravel road that takes me back up the valley on the opposite side to where I live.  

Right now our valley is a riot of colour. I have never seen fall colours like those found in the forests of Nova Scotia. It is a feast for the eyes.

Fall here is also a feast for the nose - the smells are unforgettable. 

I reflected on the odours as I rode along. The smell of fall is the smell of death and decay, and yet it is pleasant to the nose. 


I figure that because we are as much a part of nature as anything else, we have an affinity to certain smells. This goes for fall smells. 

The death and decay we see and smell is evidence of the cycles of nature carrying on. This year's leaves will break down and feed the new leaves of next spring.

This is as important as life and growth. We can't have one without the other, and the nose know this and is comforted by it.

Or maybe it just smells good.

Recently I met a new neighbour. He lives on 150 acres right behind my home on land I have wanted to explore for a long time. He granted me permission to explore to my heart's content whenever I wanted. 

People are very nice here that way, and I appreciate it very much.

It just so happens that there is a route through his land that takes me back home.

The further I rode along the route, the smaller and rougher the roads became. It was all beautiful, and it is fun riding in more isolated and rustic areas. 

I did not see a single car once off the pavement so it was quiet and peaceful. And safe.

All together the loop took me almost 2 hours to ride, including frequent stops to take photos and watch birds (like grouse, of which I saw several).

What a wonderful way to get business done, get outdoor exercise, and be out in the forest at the peak of its visual and olfactory glory.

It was a magical fall bike ride/adventure. 

October 21, 2020

We're In A Revolution Of Consciousness, But The Wrong Kind

We are experiencing a revolution of consciousness. But it is of the entirely wrong kind.

It would be a good thing if it were of the right kind, because a new consciousness is the key to a survivable future.

However, the radical changes in consciousness we see are of the wrong kind.

Everywhere humans are addicted to ubiquitous screened devices and what they can do. And they can do a lot. 

But the trade-off we make when we adopt these new technologies is that our minds are being aggressively reprogrammed in order to steal our attention.

New devices and social media have sucked us into their internal workings, making us pliable for corporations to sell us things we don't need, or really want. 

Corporations and their government allies, or anyone with enough money to buy our attention, increase their power and wealth by affecting what we do, what we think, and ultimately, what we are.

They want us captivated. Hypnotized. Dulled down and defenceless.

This is happening at a time when humanity desperately needs a change of consciousness away from current individualistic, ecocidal approaches. 

If we sleepwalk into a nightmarish grinding down of our grey matter, we will be further separated from reality, each other, and our true selves. 

Our ignorance will only be amplified, and weaponized against us, ensuring our eventual extinction.

But we made a lot of profit before we snuffed ourselves out!

Every screen should come with a prominent sticker:

Warning: Using screens excessively can cause ones brain to be soaked in dangerous, consciousness-altering propaganda resulting in faulty thinking and loss of freedom. Proceed with caution! 

October 19, 2020

Make It Last: Glasses

I first got glasses when I was 10. It sucked then, and it has sucked since. But it would suck more to have no glasses.

One of the main problems with glasses is their inflated cost. By ruthlessly eliminating all competition, Big Eyewear has been able to charge what they like.

And same as all the other Bigs, the eyewear industry likes to charge a lot, with markups of 1000%. I do believe we call that gouging.

That is fine if you have private health insurance that covers glasses, like I did when I was a teacher, although you still have to pay your premiums.

As a teacher, my insurance entitled me (and Linda) to a new pair of glasses every 2 or 3 years. For us that was excessive because we didn't feel it necessary to replace our glasses that often.

The pairs each of us are currently wearing are much, much older than 2 or 3 years. Closer to 10, I think. Maybe older...

We had our eyes checked before the pandemic, and decided to get new glasses. But not at the optician in the Drs. office.

Online opticians have been disrupting the industry in recent years. It is a bit of a pain to not be able to have your glasses fitted properly when you get them by mail, but for some pairs that is less important than for others.

For the second time we bought our glasses online. The price was a fraction of what we would pay in a conventional bricks and mortar place (although still too much in my opinion), and we did not need to go out to get them.

My mom said that when she was driving me home after getting my first pair of black horned rim beauties, I looked out the car window and said, 

"Wow, the trees have individual leaves." 

I have been wearing glasses every single day of my life since then. And every single day I have been thankful that I have them.

But why do glasses have to cost so damn much?

Because the monopolistic eyewear industry is one of the biggest consumer rip offs in a world of consumer rip offs.

One way to fight back is to make your glasses last for as long as possible.

Eyewear industry? 

Thanks. See ya in 10 years.

You suck more than having to wear glasses. 

October 11, 2020

Free Speaker Upgrade

We have been thinking about a speaker system upgrade for a long time. We use speakers mostly for our laptop, which actually comes with speakers. 

In 2000 we bought a set of computer speakers at a second hand shop. After having them for a few years a friend said while listening to them, "you should buy better speakers".

Perhaps. We do appreciate a more accurate reproduction of the music we listen to, and a fuller sound makes for a richer earsperience.

But where does it stop? How much better is enough? 

A review on stereo speakers puts it this way - "In life, money isn’t everything. When it comes to premium sound however, it can pretty important."

The speakers shown at the top were their top pick. I would enjoy listening to them, and if someone gave them to me, I would use them joyously. 

However, they cost over $3000 dollars, and look like scary double monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Linda and I decided early on that we would keep our thrift shop speakers until they stopped working, then talk about what, if anything, would replace them.

Those speakers lasted a lot longer than we thought they would.

20 years later, and the speakers only recently quit working. What a bargain.

Our friend thought we were insane. Dedicated to the cause, but insane.

"Now", we said, "It is time for new speakers." 

But we had terms that needed to be met first.

1. We didn't want to have to buy anything.

2. It would be nice to not have to go anywhere, and 

3. We did not want to add anything to our spartan living space. 

Linda suggested we take some of the stereo speakers from our van before we had it hauled away. I retrieved two 5 X 7 units, along with some wire and hardware that might be useful.

Then I took a look at our old little speakers, that I had kept. It turned out that they were fine. It was a wiring problem that made them quit working, and this was fixed when I dismantled them to use in our new set up.

Since moving to Nova Scotia 6 years ago, we have been using a minimalist approach to furniture. 

For a coffee table we use a plastic tub we brought with us, with the leaf from our second hand dining table (which was one thing we did buy shortly after arriving). 

I envisioned using this space to house our speakers.

Add a bit of cardboard for baffling inside, some duct tape, various wires and headphone plugs, a variety of fasteners collected over the years, a small stick thrown in for good measure, and we had our resources.

Using a simple set of tools over the course of a couple of sessions, we assembled everything according to the design we had imagined. 

It was a fun and challenging project to take on, and it was totally successful. 

The sound quality improvement is impressive compared to what we were using before, we didn't have to go anywhere, order anything, use anything new, or spend any money.

By using space we already had, and taking away the old external speakers which were always getting in the way on our coffee table, we minimalised our already minimal living room. 

We are happy with the results.

Our new system reminds me of another movie - Frankenstein. 

It is a Frankenspeaker. Not pretty, but free and with 100% reused materials, in a most unique configuration. Plus, there's a stick! See it?

We've created a monster of sound. 

"It's alive!" 

October 7, 2020

COVID Clears The Skies

Vapour trails. Chemtrails. Contrails. Whatever you call them, no one likes the stuff that comes out of jet plane engines, except the airline industry which sees only puffy dollar signs in the sky. 

Often their linear tailpipe clouds linger, smearing the sky with unnatural streaks of civilization. Who gave them permission to spray their graffiti all over our atmospheric commons?

One of my favourite things about the post-coved world are the pristine skies we now enjoy.

When I was regularly backpacking 15 kilometres into the wilderness, I remember being miffed by having my experience being made less wild by hearing jets overhead, then seeing their trails taint the sky that is normally as wild and free as the ground we were camping on.

"There's no escape" I thought as I looked up at the vexing vapours that were the only evidence of humans for kilometres in every direction. 

Fast forward a few, and finally - escape! 

2020 has seen air travel reduced by over 90 percent in many parts of the globe. 

That is a lot fewer planes in the sky, and that is also fewer annoying toxic trails across the dome above. It is also a lot quieter, and in a world that is as noisy as ours today, more quiet is welcome.

Earth's atmospheric wilderness is re-establishing itself as the deeply blue-tifull, pristine life support system it was meant to be, and I am grateful for that.

Thank you to everyone who is choosing to fly less. 

Or not at all.

October 6, 2020

Time Off From The Clamor

"Be quiet. 

Find acquaintances with silence. 

Go inside, delve into your heart. 

Take a day off from the clamor."

- Rumi

As a full time caregiver, I can't take a whole day off from the clamor, or from my special friend who knows all about silence.

But I do regularly take hours off from the clamor, and that time is precious to me.

I find lots and lots of the deep quiet I need when I go biking or hiking in the wilderness which spreads off on all directions around my home. 

Sometimes I go both biking and hiking on my excursions into the silence. I ride to an area, set my bike aside, and head off on foot.

"Other people have purpose;
I alone don't know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind."
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

I usually have no destination, or agenda, other than just being. 

In the woods.

I wander this way and that, and discover wonders along the way.

"Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it's dark." 

- Zen proverb 

During my time away from the clamor, I head into the heart of the woods, and when there, find my own heart waiting for me.

I step out of my shadow, and into the light. It is refreshing, sterilizing.

Everyone needs time off from the clamor. That stuff is exhausting. 

October 4, 2020

Whole Wheat What?

When is whole wheat flour not whole wheat flour? Almost all of the time in Canada.

I first wrote about this in a post that outlines the difference between whole wheat flour, and whole grain or whole meal flour. You can read it here.

Up until the pandemic sent us looking for local organic options for some of our staple stocks, our kitchen has not enjoyed a real whole grain flour. 

Today while whipping up some flapjacks for breakfast, I had an opportunity to actually see "whole wheat" flour bought from a large chain grocer, next to our new whole grain flour from the local flour mill.

The difference was obvious. 

The store bought WW flour (left side in the photo above) looks like white flour with a bit of bran added in, because that is exactly what it is. It's white and powdery with a few flecks of bran. 

The stone ground organic whole grain flour from our local mill is browner and has a rougher texture. It has everything in it because whole wheat berries go in the top of the stone grinder, and whole wheat flour comes out at the bottom. Nothing is taken out.

We like a bread product that contains clean whole grain. We are making less bread than we used to, but when we do make it, it is nice to know we are getting the nutrition and roughage we need, minus lingering biocides.

So far it has worked well for making flatbreads like chapati, pita and tortilla. The whole grain flour is much tastier, and our colons are benefitting from the scraping they get when this complete food passes through. 

Whole should mean whole, in our opinion. We are saying goodbye and good riddance to the less nutritious, not-really-whole-whole-wheat-flour from industrial hot steel roller flour mills.