December 6, 2013

On Food and Religion

Any dedicated readers of this blog (all two of them, I fear) have likely gathered that I value food quite dearly.  More specifically, I value the concept of nutritious, whole, safe, right food.  Not just USDA-Certified Organic, which has become a marketing tool for a lucrative sector of international agribusiness, but local food grown by people who care about soil, body, and spirit.  To me, a sound interest in food is a gateway to health unparalleled by today's "advances" in medicine - the contrast of a proactive lifestyle vs. reactive treatment.  At least that's how I see things now, having been blessed (whether by genetics, lifestyle, or blind luck) with an existence free of medical issues.

My quest for sound food burns bright.  I want to spread the word, either by growing great produce for my wife and child, convincing my parents to adopt better eating habits, or blogging about gardens.  I can feel it; the intrinsic sureness that the power of community surrounding local agriculture is key to wrestling our economic, governmental, medical, and spiritual freedoms back from the exploitative corporate oligarchy that looms over us.  Our salvation from consumerist dystopia!

But then I take a step back and reflect on my passion for sound food and the words I use to describe it.  Blessings.  Freedom.  Salvation.  What separates me from the religious zealot who seeks to convert all to his mindset?  The proselytizer who is convinced that his absolute viewpoint is absolutely correct?  The power of God and the power of organic the grand the indifferent ears upon which the message fall even make a distinction?  Just more noise in a world where everyone is looking to sell their schtick?  I am not a religious man nor am I versed in theology, but I sometimes fear that my dedication to the food thing amounts to more than worshiping false idols.  Perhaps I should be focusing energies elsewhere...but where?  Nonetheless, I am guided (and reassured) by the sense that my passion is morally right despite the uncertainties of swimming upstream against the stiffening current of a consumer society that increasingly devalues such introspection.

To be clear, I use food as the centerpiece, but by no means the sole focus, of my philosophy.  My concepts of a wholesome lifestyle extend beyond simple nutrition.  Connections - to the earth, our bodies, minds, and fellow humans, are paramount and intertwined.  The religious man very likely holds the same values, with the obvious additions of the love a greater being and the promise of an afterlife.  Me, my anguish and dreams alike are rooted in the belief that this earthly existence is our one shot, so we better well make a damned good stab at it.  And if that means I must swim upstream, so be it.

October 4, 2013

The Wood Shuffle

The arrival of the autumn foliage means that it's time for the annual firewood shuffle. I have about four or five cords of seasoned wood that have been drying in the shelter of pine and hemlock trees on the north and northeast side of my property. I'm in the process of restacking this wood on pallets on my back patio so I'll have easy access to it through the hatchway door come winter. Last year I burned about 3 1/2 cords of wood and ran out by late March. I should have plenty on hand for this winter! 

The seasoning area beneath the trees will be occupied shortly with freshly split white oak, maple, and hickory that will constitute next season's fuel. The wood burning game means I'm always stocking (and stacking) wood for a season or two in the future. I quite pleased to note that I've scavenged all of this wood for free from family and friends who have had trees taken down for various reasons. I've yet to cut down a tree for the sake of firewood.  With all this wood, I only burned 3/4 of a tank of oil last winter.  Burning wood is a lot of work but it keeps the oil man away!

Speaking of splitting wood, I've switched over to the Fiskars X27 splitting axe. I've previously used a standard splitting maul from the hardware store. The Fiskars axe is lightweight and has a razor sharp edge to slice its way through wood rather than bludgeoning the log like a maul. I can swing this axe for hours with far less muscle soreness. The trick is to keep the edge very sharp; Fiskars offers a slick little sharpening tool. Of course, the largest logs require the traditional wedge and sledge technique to make smaller chunks that I can split with the axe. I save the gnarliest and knottiest pieces for the hydraulic woodsplitter.

Here's the equipment I'm using right now.  I use the maul to drive the wedge, but a long-handled sledgehammer is probably a better tool.  Stay safe and get yourself a pair of safety glasses and work boots, too!  The Fiskars axe is worth every penny.  I've split about 5 cords with mine and I've been very pleased.

A season's worth of heat = homeland security.
Now, allow me the opportunity to wax poetic on wood splitting for a bit. I love it. I really love splitting by hand rather than using a hydraulic splitter. Why? First and foremost, hand splitting is quiet…I can listen to the birds in between chops with the axe. Also, hand splitting is highly meditative; much like motorcycling and backcountry skiing, complete focus is needed to do the task well. Each piece of wood becomes a silent puzzle…I become the Log Whisperer and read the grain to determine which way it wants to split. I look for knots and other features that might influence the direction of the split. The swing of the axe is a calculated application of inertia and muscle. I can step back for a moment and admire the remaining color in my fall vegetable garden and watch the evening sunlight play on the pines that tower above my chopping block. A few hours of splitting settles me into a slow rhythm of physical labor that is eminently rewarding as I sweat out my frustrations and the pile of split wood grows. 
Gabby dog supervises the stacking operations with a tasty pine cone.

It ain't just choppin' wood, folks!

September 30, 2013

Chimney Sweep on the Cheap

Autumn is here, which means the first fire in the wood stove is only a few weeks away.  Although the forecast this week is for daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the shortening days inevitably mean colder weather to come.  This winter will be the third season I've burned a wood stove at my home.  I decided to do a quick chimney sweep on the cheap to ensure trouble-free heating once the frost makes itself at home in central Connecticut.

Here's an easy method to sweep a stainless steel chimney using household materials and some vegetation.  You may have to modify this method to suit a masonry flue.  Disclaimer: Please hire a professional if your chimney is heavily fouled with creosote (and stop burning green wood, eh!).  Chimney fires are no joke.  This technique is for lightly to moderately fouled chimneys. And don't blame me if you fall off your roof!

  1. Rope, at least as long as your chimney plus a few extra feet
  2. A branch from a tree or shrub that is big enough to scour the flue without getting stuck
  3. An old tennis ball or similar sized object
  4. Duct tape 
  5. A buddy to call 911 if'n you do something stupid 

Step 1:  Remove the rain cap on the top of the chimney and the clean-out plug from the bottom of the chimney, if it is so equipped.  Enjoy the different perspective while standing on the roof.
Of course I somehow had to include the garden in this blog post!
Step 2:  Duct tape the tennis ball onto one end of the rope.  The ball acts as a weight to carry the string down the chimney.  Drop the ball and rope down the chimney (hold on the other end of the rope, duh!) and cut the rope a few feet longer.  Duct tape the branch onto the upper end of the rope.

Step 3:  Position the branch in the flue.  Have your buddy on the ground slowly pull the end of the rope with the tennis ball to draw the branch down the pipe.  A good amount of dry dust should come down with it.  Repeat the sweep a few more times.  Reassemble the chimney.

Appropriately enough, the branch I used was from a shrub called Lena's Broom.

If the branch comes out of the chimney coated with sticky tar-like substance, then you have a real creosote problem.  Creosote is formed when wood gases are not completely burned in the stove and then condense into tar on the cooler flue surfaces.  The best remedy for avoiding creosote is to burn properly seasoned hardwood instead of resinous softwoods such as pine, avoid slow smoldering fires, and use a stainless steel flue that will heat up faster than a masonry flue.

There are reasonably-priced DIY products if my dirtbag approach is not your style... has a ton of well-researched and FREE information on how to season and burn wood efficiently.  Check them out right now!  

The woodlot in all its glory.  Bonus points if you can spot the dog.
The sun sets on another suburban homestead project.
Can't wait for winter, but I love fall!

September 21, 2013

Cover Crops in the Fall Garden

I have three species of cover crop growing in my garden right now.  I like growing winter cover crops rather than just covering the garden with leaf mulch for several reasons:
  • Grassy cover crops grow extensive root systems that protect the soil from erosion.
  • The plants uptake soil nutrients that otherwise would be lost to leaching.
  • They inhibit weeds.
  • The tall cover grasses increase soil moisture by trapping snow and shading the soil.
  • Legume species produce their own nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Cover crops increase levels of organic material in the soil.
  • They're cheaper and easier than hauling in manure or compost and serve the same functions.
  • I like looking out my window in mid-winter and seeing plants in my garden!
A well-established bed of rye and vetch sown after the potatoes were harvested.
I've sown winter rye and hairy vetch in most areas where I've pulled out the summer vegetables.  Rye and vetch are the most winter hardy cover crops for New England and will grow until the deep cold of January and February.  Vigorous growth will resume in the spring.  The spring growth will produce an amazing amount of biomass from the rye, and the vetch (a legume) will increase the fertility of the soil through nitrogen fixation.  The rye/vetch mix will have to be mown and tilled under in the spring.  The major drawback of rye is that the residues will inhibit the growth of other plants for at least three weeks after tilling in the rye.

Rye and vetch sprouting beneath the fall lettuce patch.
The tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant were undersown with oats around mid-July to provide a living mulch.  I'll pull these veggies once the first frost hits, leaving behind a well-established oat cover crop. The oats will die over the winter and leave a nice mulch on the soil to protect against runoff during the spring rains.  I can either plant spring crops directly through the mulch or till it under.  Similarly, I planted rye and vetch beneath some of the fall veggies like lettuce to let the cover crops get a head start.  I typically plant the winter cover crops no later than the second week of September; any later and the tender young plants will not fare well against the early frosts.

Oats were sown beneath the tomatoes in mid-July.
Next year I will experiment with more mid-season undersown cover crops using legumes such as dwarf white clover.  The clover will act as a living mulch that should reduce the slug problems I had this year using leaf mulch beneath the plants. 

September 18, 2013

The Difference a Day Makes: An Overnight on the Twin Range

Johnny G. on the Bondcliff Trail hiking south to camp.
A few months ago, I was working on a project in the basement and glanced at my backpacking and camping gear sitting unused in a musty storage bin. "Geez, I haven't been on a proper backpacking trip in about three years, what a shame," I lamented to myself. Backpacking, you see, is one of my absolute favorite outdoor activities. Of all the outdoor sports, I consider backpacking to be the most "pure" because of the inherent simplicity of walking in the woods, the self-reliance of carrying your life necessities on your back, and the enhanced situational awareness of navigation, weather, body, and trail conditions. Of course, backpacking trips are the hardest to come by these days precisely because of the time needed to pull one off (such are the compromises of being a parent). That, and there are few people out there who are willing to subject themselves to such "recreation".

Johnny G. near the summit of Mt. Guyot.
So, much to my delight, a planned family day hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire morphed into an overnight excursion with my cousin Johnny G, a participant in one of the famed Bolton backcountry ski trips. The plan was simple; the family, Johnny, and I hiked the 2.8 miles to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Zealand Hut via the Zealand Trail. For those of you hiking with small children or, ahem, older folks, the hike to Zealand Hut is moderately difficult with rewarding views of mountain marshes, streams, waterfalls, and Zealand Notch. Not to mention, you can buy hot food and drink at the Zealand Hut and have yourself a proper sit-down potty break if the occasion calls for it. After lunch at the hut, Johnny and I parted ways with the family and continued another 5 miles along the Twin Range to the Guyot campsite on the southeast flank of Mt. Guyot.

I love hiking in the fog. I estimate that two out of three White Mountain hikes I've done in the last 3 years have been shrouded in mist…a testament to the stormy temperament of these mountains. Day 1 of the Twin Range expedition kept the foggy streak alive. The fog obscures the obvious vistas and forces us to look elsewhere for inspiration…those intricacies that go unseen on clear days when sweeping mountain views capture our attention. The movement of the wind, normally invisible to the human eye, is portrayed in swirling droplets that pass through the trees with a whisper. The scent of pine pitch, strangely resembling cotton candy, is somehow amplified by the mist. These sensations haunt and excite me, and they are worthy reasons to hit the trail on less than perfect weather days. I reflected on similar sentiments in my blog post about a hike on Mt. Moosilauke almost exactly one year ago.
Pemigewasset Wilderness.
As the family hiked back to the car for a comfortable evening of hot-tubbing and Web TV, Johnny and I forged through the fog, passing by the cloud-choked Zeacliff view, the imminently forgettable forested summit of Mt. Zealand (but one of New Hampshire's 48 peaks over 4,000 feet above sea level), and the rocky moonscape of Mt. Guyot. The trail gave us a nice blend of rocky, heart-thumping climbs and mellow ridge traverses, perfect for conversation, observation, and photography. And then there was the nerve-jangling rush of flight from a disturbed spruce grouse! As the day grew long in tooth and our legs weary, the trail brought us to the Guyot campsite. The friendly (half stoned) caretaker informed us that the tent platforms were full and offered us space in a crowded lean-to or an overflow tent site that was in the path of a water diversion ditch. Thanks, but no thanks. We elected to try our luck at a tent site on the ridge between Mounts Guyot and Bond…windier, but without the human commotion of the main campsites. After a quick dinner and beverage, we retired to the tent as daylight faded. That evening, the ridge was host to the tumultuous arrival of a cold front that evicted the fog from the mountains. The winds raced down the ridge from Guyot to Bond and onward, sounding like automobiles on a highway overpass. Our tent, sheltered by the thick evergreens, was not affected by the wind and offered us a unique vantage to the readjusting pressure gradients above us. 

Zeacliff, Day 1
We awoke just prior to sunrise over the Willard Range to the east. The clear, dry air of the cold front had swept the Whites free of the mists that defined the previous day. What a difference a day makes! We struck camp after a quick breakfast and gained the summit of Mt. Guyot around 8AM. We were gifted with sweeping views at every point of the compass…North and South Twin to the northwest, Mt. Lafayette and the Franconia Range to the west, Bond and West Bond to the south, and Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range to the east. Just as impressive was the sweeping view of the vast forested Pemigewasset Wilderness. And to top it all off, the valleys were filled with morning fog that hid any evidence of humanity, save for the towers on the summit of Mt. Washington! Wild!

Zeacliff, same vantage point, 24 hours later.
A few short hours of pleasant hiking brought us to Zeacliff, where our view of Zealand Notch had been rebuked by fog just 24 hours earlier. The Pemi Wilderness sprawled out beneath us, framed to the east by the rock walls and talus slopes of Whitewall Mountain and to the south by the imposing massif of Mt. Carrigain. We watched a raven ride a thermal, gaining thousands of feet of altitude in less than a minute with nary a wing flap. We stood on the cliff, spellbound by the panorama, too engaged in our surroundings to remember to take off our packs for a brief rest. The utter solitude was punctuated only by the distant roar of the many cascades that drain the steep mountainsides. Zeacliff was the exclamation point to a great hike and a fitting reward for our fogbound travels.
The Twin Range expedition was a quick hit of wilderness that stoked the flames of passion for outdoor adventure. I once again shouldered a pack of trusted camping gear and wandered into the woods in search of… 

Absolutely Nothing

Low tide?
That's right!  Nothing!  An interesting development in my outdoor experiences! In years past I put a lot of emphasis on these adventures to somehow find or define myself, or prove something to myself and others. I think that even the Moosilauke hike a year ago was in a similar vein…the tumultuous account of that trip was a reflection of a transitional time in my life. But now that parenthood has settled in and my perspectives have changed, I find myself asking far less of my outdoor trips. I simply want to get out and enjoy them. By stripping away such expectations of "meaning", I leave myself more receptive to serendipity, and I come out of the woods feeling refreshed, and CALM.  Calm - there's a term I would never use to describe myself when I was in my 20s!

So, despite my lack of expectation (or maybe because of it), the woods once again taught me a lesson. 

Thanks for a great hike, Johnny.

Safe travels, all!



Backpacking Resources
The essential White Mountain hiking guide:

Thinking about getting into backpacking? Great! Read this book first before you head to REI or EMS and spend a fortune to outfit yourself with the newest backpacking gear. (Better yet, click on the Amazon and eBay links to buy gear and support the Woods Hippie!) The authors take a humorous, yet no-nonsense approach to backpacking equipment and techniques. Even experienced trampers will find some useful nuggets of wisdom.


Search for backpacking gear on eBay:

September 17, 2013

Garden Successes and Failures

2013 was an interesting garden year here in central Connecticut.  A lingering and cold spring warmed into a very dry May that was classified as a moderate drought.  June brought heavy rains to the party, followed by a scorching July.  August was a blessing of a month; the warm days and cool nights enveloped us in the glorious remnants of summer while hinting at the splendor of the upcoming autumn.

Of course, the only thing normal about weather is that it is never normal, and we gardeners simply take it in stride and plant many varieties in the knowledge that some will fail and some will succeed.  So, I present to you, select garden successes and failures of 2013!

The Good
Eggplant!  Oh, the glorious eggplant!  This was the first year I grew the purple globes, and I was rewarded with two plants that just produced and produced some more.  The variety was Galine.  I'm growing these guys again next year.

Heirloom tomatoes...I grew Cherokee Purple and Pink Brandywine.  Cherokee wins hands-down for flavor, color and texture over any other variety that I have grown.  I will confidently state that one of my mid season Cherokees was the finest tomato I have ever eaten.  It totally ruined me in that I will never enjoy another store bought tomato for the rest of my life.  This tomato will be the garden dragon that I will chase for years to come.  Yup, that good.  Also, the Honeydrop Cherry tomatoes (not heirlooms) made a fine showing for the second season in a row with an endless supply of sweet orange/yellow fruits that were always eaten before they made it into the kitchen.

Snap beans, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli (finally!) produced very well this year.

The Bad (that's harsh...let's just say The Mediocre!)
The garlic crop came in early, small, and somewhat bland.  I can't complain because I received free seed last year.  I did make a sweet garlic braid, which I count as a success!

The Garlic Whisperer.
Spring-planted turnips performed very poorly, but the July planting made it to the table in fine fashion.  The rutabagas and cabbage took forever to get going, but the rains of June helped spur growth, and the results were quite tasty.

My first rutabaga.
I will not grow Cosmonaut Volkov tomatoes again.  The plants were slow to mature and prone to blight, and the fruits were somewhat bland with a weak red color.  That said, they were tastier than 95% of supermarket tomatoes, so it's all relative, folks.  But now I'm chasing that dragon, you see, and I have no room in my garden for this.  Life's too short to drink cheap beer and eat shitty tomatoes.

The Ugly
Peas, golden beets, and sweet corn were abject failures.  I made multiple plantings of each and experienced near total germination failures.  I understand the peas.  The poor seeds were subject to cold and rain and then total heat and drought.  By June, I mercifully pulled the few plants that grew and sowed a cover crop of buckwheat.  One or two plants produced peas.  Naturally, they were the sweetest and most tender peas I have ever grown...a pure tease of what could have been.

Rainbow chard...a pretty picture in the "ugly" paragraph.
I had a tough year for summer squash.  I ate exactly one patty pan squash and one zucchini before the plants fell prey to vine borers and powdery mildew.  Last year I was overrun with these fruits.  Funny how these things cycle from year to year.

My peppers all got worms before they ripened.  Oh well.  There is always next year.

The Take Home Message
I learned so much in the garden this year.  I tried growing eggplant, onion, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, and turnips for the first time and got tasty harvests of each.  I finally beat the weeds by using hoeing techniques I read about in Eliot Coleman's essential garden book, The New Organic Grower.  I spent about 20 minutes a month weeding my 400 square foot garden, without having to bend over or pull a weed by hand.  I improved irrigation techniques and relieved a lot of drought stress that I believe my garden has suffered in years past.  I experimented with custom-made fertilizer mixtures that stemmed from a laboratory analysis of the nutrient content of my soil. I'm pretty excited for next year...I've expanded my garden by another 560 square feet and tilled in 750 square feet of my grandparents' backyard.  It's all growing a cover crop of rye and vetch right now and will be part of next year's grand experiment in gardening!  Stay tuned!

Some of it looks perfect.  Some of it looks funky.  But it's all organic and all tasty!

September 11, 2013

Garden Technology

I constructed some very simple garden tech this summer.  This equipment has really helped me out and has set the stage for next year's improvements.

My favorite tool this summer was a simple impulse sprinkler that I hose-clamped to a metal sign post.  I spent the money on an all-metal sprinkler because I was tired of breaking the crappy plastic ones.  The added height of the sign post allowed the sprinkler to cover more area with fewer moves.  That said, I found the effective watering radius to be about 15 feet.  I used a plastic rain gauge to accurately measure the amount of water I was putting on the garden.  I aimed for 1 inch of water every 4-5 days.  The rain gauge, of course, measured rain, so I was able to tailor my irrigation in consideration of the natural rainfall during a given 4 day period.

Next year I would like to hook up 3 or 4 of these in series to irrigate the whole garden with minimal effort.  The disadvantage of the impulse sprinklers is that there are water losses to evaporation, it is reliant on chlorinated tap water, and the plant leaves get wet and are more susceptible to fungal diseases.  I'm not (yet) willing to invest in a drip irrigation system, but I might be temped if I can increase the capacity of my rainwater storage system.

Which brings me to my next piece of garden tech, my rain barrel!  I've had a plastic 55-gallon barrel sitting in the garage for years, and I finally got around the constructing a rain catchment.  I used an electric drill with a hole-saw to make the cutouts for the spigot and overflow.  I used an electric jig saw to cut out the opening for the downspout.  I used simple PVC piping for the overflow.  I purchased a brass hose bib (spigot) from Home Depot and a plastic bulkhead fitting from Tractor Supply.  The bulkhead fitting is the key to a watertight connection since it has rubber gaskets that make a tight seal to the barrel and is threaded to accept the spigot.  Don't try threading the spigot directly into the plastic barrel or it will surely leak.  The debris screen is a colander that was sacraficed for the cause.  I assembled this in about 30 minutes.


I used the rain barrel mostly for field-washing vegetables from the garden (always followed by a tap water rinse in the kitchen), irrigating the blueberry bushes, washing out the compost bucket, and hand washing after yard work.  It would be easy enough to link together several barrels to increase my storage capacity so that I could experiment with a no-pressure drip irrigation system in the garden.

Click on the images below to link to Amazon if you want to buy some of the components and tools to build your own rain barrel.  Find the plastic drum locally, if you can.  The shipping will cost more than the barrel.  Just make sure the drum hasn't held toxic materials!!!

Rain Barrel Components

The last bit of garden tech is decidedly low tech.  My old pallet compost bin rotted away, so I made up a new one with four pallets and some baling wire.  Wiring the pallets together was much faster than using screws, and allows me the flexibility to easily open up the bin to shovel out compost.

What garden tech made your gardening easier and more fun this summer?  Please share your innovations!

September 10, 2013

Making Biochar

One of my garden experiments this year was to make biochar to increase my soil's capacity to retain nutrients.  Soils have varying abilities to hold elements such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, boron, zinc, and manganese that are necessary for healthy plants.  Imagine that soil is the (-) end of a big Energizer Battery.  Most of the chemical nutrients are the (+) end of the battery.  Soil with a lot of stable organic material (humus), clay, or biochar (a fancy term for finely-ground charcoal) has more (-) battery ends and attracts more (+) nutrients and prevents the nutrients from leaching away during heavy rains.  Plants, a.k.a. nature's biochemical wizards, obtain their nutrition from this soil battery.  This whole battery concept is known as the soil's Total Cation Exchange Capacity (TCEC - a topic for another day...and for hardcore science/garden nerds).  It's all about nutrient dense gardening.  For more reading on TCEC and soil nutrients, check out Steve Solomon's book The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food.  I sent a soil sample to an agricultural laboratory and found that my garden is a pretty weak battery.

So, in addition to the regular applications of compost, I will add biochar to the garden next season as part of my ongoing effort to build powerful soil.  My source of charcoal is the leftover briquettes from my last barbecue.  I grind the briquettes into a fine powder using a rock and store the resulting biochar in a 5-gallon bucket.

I also have quite a bit of tree bark left over from woodsplitting.  The bark makes a nice campfire and produces ample charcoal that is easy to grind (when fully extinguished, of course!).  I maximize the amount of charcoal by dousing the fire with water rather than letting it burn down to ash.  I think it's so cool that a byproduct from one operation becomes the input for another.  There's no waste...just resource cycling.

I layer biochar into the compost heap rather than adding it directly to the garden.  Based on my research, this step is critical.  Raw biochar has to be "charged" with nutrients and biological life in order to make it effective in the garden, otherwise it can inhibit plant growth for a year or two.  The compost heap is loaded with nutrients, bacteria, and fungi and is a great place to age the char for a year or two.

Biochar is also a simple way to sequester carbon, since the char molecules will persist in the soil for hundreds or thousands of years without releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  Pre-Colombian Amazonian farmers used biochar to fortify notoriously poor rain forest soils.  These ancient farmlands are still fertile as a result of biochar.  Let's see if it works in my garden!

September 9, 2013


I haven't posted to this blog for nearly a year, but I haven't given up on it! Far from it; in fact, I have plans for a slew of new posts with a revised twist on the content. You see, the original incarnation of the Woods Hippie was a vehicle to use creative work to alleviate my discontentment with aspects of my life and a good excuse for some last outdoor adventures before fatherhood. Two years of parenting have exposed some (but not all) of those frustrations as selfish folly, but, more importantly, have taught me that the adventure continues even with a child in the fray. In the interim, I have become so deeply intrigued in gardening, homesteading, and permaculture that my life's mission, heretofore undefined, is moving confidently in those directions. I can't put a finger on the the whens, wheres or hows, but I intend to use the Woods Hippie format as a way to carve out this path. Of course, this blog will continue to serve as a creative outlet centered on outdoor wanderings (both with and without children) but with an added emphasis on gardening and suburban homesteading. What the hell is suburban homesteading, you ask?

 It's what happens when a guy (me) lives on a 1/4 acre city lot and pisses off his neighbors by converting half of his back yard to a garden...

the other half into a woodlot...

and dreams of the day when he can move to the country.

Please join my family and me as we pursue this adventure together!