Monday, April 21, 2014

Do we know Freedom?

Liberty.  Anarchy.  Freedom.

Which of these words feels out of place and wrong to utter aloud?  While an argument can be made that any of them, in our current police-state, have the potential to raise red flags....I'm going to guess that the word Anarchy struck a chord different from the other two.  But why?  Because we're taught that Anarchism is synonymous with chaos and violence.  If there were no governing bodies, the world would run afoul with hooligans and hoodlums and all civilization as we know it would crumble beneath our feet.

I'll admit, I was once guilty of this way of thinking.  Then I had a paradigm shift.  If the government suddenly vanished, would I immediately go out into the street and start shooting at pedestrians?  Or would I steal from my neighbors?  Rape and pillage?  No.  My moral center is against all those things and I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people have similar codes to live by.  And who was it that taught me right from wrong?  School?  No.  School teaches you that if a bully pushes you down, you're going to get in trouble as well because you must have done something to provoke them.  Also, don't stand up for yourself or talk back EVER.  It just makes people more upset and gets you into bigger trouble.  School teaches you things contrary to the laws of nature.  "There are no winners or losers in this game.  We all win because we tried."  Where in nature do you win just for "trying"?  Life isn't fair.  Life is the bully in the schoolyard and you need to know how to handle him.  Be prepared to lose sometimes, but always aim to win because all life on earth is competition from plants competing for sunlight to deer competing for mating rights.  My FAMILY is where I learned right from wrong.  My interactions with individuals on a personal level taught me social etiquette.  The government didn't teach me that.  (disclaimer: I work with some wonderful teachers and believe that they, as people, are more capable than most of teaching these familial life-skills, but the state keeps their hands bound.)

Let's see what's more dangerous.

In today's highly regulated and monitored world with its plethora of written laws and mandates, if you are the victim of rape or armed robbery or any other crime, you call 9-1-1 and hope that the government agents can catch the SOB who came after you.  They show up after the fact, probe you for information, make you into a suspect, then begin the search for the perpetrator.  If, God forbid, you defend yourself and the criminal dies in the struggle, YOU are now the prime suspect and the crime is murder.  You can go to prison for protecting yourself.

In a world without these legal restrictions, if you're attacked and you harm or kill the attacker in the process of protecting yourself or your loved ones, all that happened is the world got one scumbag fewer.  There's no media hype about "hate crimes" or the tragic story of the criminal's life.  There's no "hidden motive" behind the event.

If the criminal gets away?  Privately owned and operated investigation services would be easily accessible without running the risk of self-incrimination.  And who's going to work harder on your case, someone who is going to get paid regardless of the job they do OR someone who gets paid based on the job they do?  Ask yourself, if I got paid strictly for the job I do, would I work harder?  But I digress.

Really, what we're looking at are small numbers of criminals killing small numbers of people instead of large governments killing mass amounts of people.  When you look back throughout history, who is responsible for the most deaths?  Governments.  Governments insight war, not people.  Governments commit mass genocide, not people.  People "follow orders" put in place by governments who threaten their lives if the orders are not fulfilled.  Remember, the Holocaust was perfectly legal when it happened.  Adolf Hitler was following his own laws that he'd passed for his country.  Josef Stalin is the same story.  He never once broke the law.  That might make us uncomfortable to wrap our heads around, but it's the truth.  In their countries, they were upholding the law just as our government is supposed to be upholding ours.  The laws were cruel and unjust by our standards, but that was fine by theirs.  But I wonder how many Germans, how many Russians would have followed those men and their orders if not at gun-point.  If the law didn't exist and they were living within a voluntary society where they could say "no" and leave with no action taken against them, how many people would have blindly accepted that all Jews needed to be eradicated?  Actually, in a voluntary society, the Jewish community could have armed themselves and formed their own militia against the Nazi uprising and fought them off themselves.  Instead, they had a government disarming them and herding them into ghettos and then into death camps.  Voluntary society would have given them the chance to say "no" without adverse effects.  Think on that for a minute.

On the topic of Voluntaryism:

Why is it that we are required to be a citizen of any country?  Why is it that if I denounce my citizenship to all countries, I'm deemed a potential terrorist threat?  Voluntaryism is the idea that no one can force you to be a part of their society and that you can choose what you want to do yourself.  If I own a lot of land and I build homes on it surrounding a farm, and then some of my friends, family, and acquaintances decide they want to live in my property and help me with the farm in exchange for their shelter and food, that would be considered a commune.  However, it would be a voluntary commune rather than forced communism for all citizens within specified arbitrary borderlines.  People could live on my property peacefully as long as they helped and adhered to guidelines put in place for all to follow, and if they didn't like those guidelines, they could leave at any time without consequence.  Communism doesn't sound quite as scary when met with Voluntaryism.  The problem is that not everyone wants to live on a commune.  Not everyone wants to live in a Capitalist society.  Not everyone wants to even interact with other people.  But what we have are governments forcing these ways of life on the masses simply because they live within those arbitrary borders.
Here are two phrases that kind of define voluntaryism for me:

  • You are a/an (insert arbitrary citizenship title, i.e. American, Canadian, Mexican, Communist, Fascist, Socialist...etc) and will live according to (again, insert arbitrary government title) law and if you don't like it you will be severely punished.

  • You are a/an (insert arbitrary citizenship title, i.e. American, Canadian, Mexican, Communist, Fascist, Socialist...etc) and will live according to (again, insert arbitrary government title) law and if you don't like it you are free to leave our society to join another, form another, or be a loner as you see fit.

Wait a minute....that seems like it's too simple.

Another argument I hear is "If there are no laws, people can be allowed to just kill and steal and do whatever they want."  Not exactly true.  If there's no one else around except you and me, and I steal your lunch money, you're probably not going to just sit there and cry about it and accept that I stole from you.  I know I wouldn't.  I'd chase that person down and force them to give me my money back by whatever means necessary.  The rule is a common one: Do unto others as you'd have done to you.  If you're an asshole and you're going to go around raping and stealing and murdering, you'd better believe you're going to get yours and you WON'T be fed 3 meals a day in an air-conditioned cell.

Now let's get into a REALLY touchy subject: Religion!

There's a lot of controversy about topics like Gay Marriage and whether it should be legal or not.  In a Voluntaryist/Anarchist society, that's a non-issue.  With the state out of the picture, churches and religious groups can choose whether or not they will marry you.  There would be no state benefits to marriage (i.e. taxes) and it would simply be a private union between individuals based on their love and commitment to each other.  If one church says "no, we don't marry your kind here" you can move on to the next and the next until you find one that will.  Freedom of religion at work right there as well.  Your personal feelings about an issue like gay marriage become just that, YOUR feelings.  If you belong to a church that supports it, but you don't think they should, you have the free will to find another church.  The state doesn't exist and so can't force any group to allow or disallow anything.  It's all about your personal preference.  That's the beauty of it!  You don't have to wait until the next election to try changing things for EVERYONE, you can immediately make that change for yourself and your family without stepping on anyone else's toes.

But what about money?  The government backs the dollar and that's our standard for knowing what something costs.  The dollar is an artificial measurement of value.  It's backed by nothing more than your government's word and its written value means nothing.  How?

Let's say I have a bag of oranges with a written value of $5.  You have a bag of apples with a written value of $3.  I decide "Wow, I could really go for some apples right about now," and you say the same about my oranges.  If we were going to trade based on the dollar value, you'd owe me $2 even after we traded bags.  But if we get rid of those written values, it becomes about what something is worth to US.  I would say "Let's just trade!" and you'd probably agree and we'd feel satisfied with that trade and not worry about valueless paper bills.  That's a free market at work there.  I'll give another example.  If I'm a mechanic and I've rebuilt some cars as a hobby and you come along and you're in need of a vehicle, we'll sit down and talk and see what we can work out.  Maybe some labor is worth more to me than money and I tell you you can have one of the cars providing you worked for me for a set amount of time and doing these listed jobs.  All of the sudden, money isn't necessary.  You see, what's worth $5 to you may not be worth that to me.  On the flip side, what's worth $10 to me may not be with that to you.  So we've labeled and accepted things as being of a certain dollar-face value without looking at the actual value to us as individuals.

Finally, what about drug-use?  Prostitution?  Gambling?

What is it that the liberals like to body, my choice?  I like to say my LIFE, my choice.  I, personally, don't participate in the above listed recreations.  However, just because I choose not to doesn't mean I think they shouldn't be allowed.  If your recreations don't affect me, enjoy!  The consequences are known for these things and if you're alright with them, why should I get to say "no, you can't do that!"  No one should be able to tell you that they know better and therefore are more fit to run your life than you are.

So back to the first line of this blog...I'm thinking if instead of picking it apart and seeing which word doesn't belong, we could show it like this:



Thanks for reading and I hope I at least got you thinking.  I don't expect to change everyone's minds about all this, but I want people to understand that the topics that are so taboo don't have to be and that Anarchy as we've been taught isn't the Anarchy most Libertarians want.  Voluntaryism is something I really believe in and if it sounds like something you'd like to know more about, PLEASE research it!  Come and talk to me!  Life is about learning new things.  Have a blessed day :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Laws are in place for our protection, right?

I mean, let's be real here.  We vote people into office whom we believe to have our best interests at heart and will be our voice in the grand scheme of things.  However, even at the local level, it seems some politicians have more of a personal agenda than a logical one.

For example, in the city of Eastpointe, MI (my home town) it is considered illegal to keep chickens or other farm animals.  Their reasoning?  From what I was told by the mayor is that chickens, especially roosters, are just so loud.  They're a nuisance.  However, when we measure the noise caused by chickens (male and female), we find that they are no louder than the average dog.  In fact, they'll crow at the same things dogs will bark at!  The average dog barks anywhere from 60 to 100 decibels.  Hens?  Roughly 60 decibels AT THEIR LOUDEST.  And roosters?  They HAVE to be just ridiculously loud, right?  Nope.  90 decibels.  But wait a minute, why do they seem so much louder???  Because, my dear Watson, it's not a typical "city sound".  Tell me, when you go to a black tie type of event and you see a huge sea of suits and ties, nothing really stands out.  Now stick a man wearing a bright green t-shirt and blue jeans in there and tell me where your eyes are drawn.  The same concept works with sound.  It's why we notice the sound of sirens over our music and the other driving noises on the road.

Well, then there must be a logical reason for why chickens are illegal, right?  I mean, they must carry diseases, or stink, or maybe their fecal matter is damaging to the ground-water or something?

Ha, therein lies the real kicker.

NONE OF THE ABOVE.  Let me just repeat that: NONE OF THE ABOVE!

Chicken diseases aren't transmittable to humans when they're kept in small flocks.  Avian flu and viruses like it are only a danger in commercial-grade situations where the animals are kept in completely unsanitary conditions and uncomfortably close quarters with hundreds and thousands of other chickens.  What happens is their immune systems are worn down to nothingness due to breathing in their dried, powdered fecal matter and ingesting nutritionally deficient food.  The only way to combat these diseases in this situation is with heavy drugging both for their comfort and for their "health".  Comfort?  What?  Oh, you didn't know?  Commercial chicken feed contains traces of fluoxetine (aka Prozac) and drugs like it.  Why?  To keep them from tearing each other apart.  Literally.  They also cut their beaks for this reason.  So they pump them full of antibiotics (great for us, too right?  I mean no harm can come from that....), mood altering drugs, and literally the junkiest "food" money can buy.  Then, they sell them plucked and packaged to us, the unquestioning consumer.

Stinky?  HA!  Have you smelled dog poop lately?  Better yet, have you compared the two in both quantity and stench?  How about in value?  Yes, value.  Chicken poop is worth its weight in gold.  In fact, you can buy it as an all natural fertilizer/manure product.  It's basically a nitrogen-charged super growth supplement from what I've seen in my experience (which happens to be first hand).  It composts like a champ and makes commercial "fertilizers" look like crap (HAH!).

Contamination and ground-water....hmmmm well if we're going to take THAT route, which would have a case of, salmonella or cancer?  Don't answer that.  I know you're not stupid.  But let's think about this for a minute.  RoundUp is readily sprayed to take care of those pesky weeds.  I mean that crap is about 99% carcinogenic and pure poison to everything it touches.  It is NOT biodegradable, NOT environmentally safe, and we're (please note that the "we" in this is NOT myself.) dumping it by the bucketload practically on our lawns and crops that are now available in RoundUp Ready form.  As for commercial fertilizers, unless you buy organic and REALLY know what you're getting, they're pretty much all oil based and do more damage than good.  THAT crap will leak into groundwater a lot faster than poo of any sort will.

So let me just put this into perspective for you all:

It is perfectly legal to purchase and pour into our lawns ALL sorts of chemical poisons.  It is perfectly legal to keep dogs which can get louder than roosters.  It is considered normal to ingest eggs and meat from chickens pumped full of growth hormones, mood altering drugs, and low-grade feed that have lived their short lives in cramped, unsanitary spaces.  These chickens aren't processed one at a time with care.  They're processed in a factory by machines....hundreds....thousands at a time.

However, it is illegal to keep and raise chickens on property YOU pay for.  It is illegal to experience the joy of harvesting eggs from your own backyard chickens each day.  And why?  For no apparent reason.

"Oh, but people will complain if their neighbors raise chickens!"  Really?  Let them.  I mean honestly, I complain about so many stupid things and nothing gets done about those....Actually, the last time I complained about something, I had it tossed back into my face (regarding the building of Eastpointe's 10,000th senior home).  So why isn't the same tactic used here?  The only conclusion I can find that makes any sense is that someone within the city government at some time had  personal agenda.  I'm NOT accusing the current mayor of this, just to be clear.  I don't believe she wrote the law on this.  However, laws without purpose are not only unjust, but VERY scary things.  It's a slippery slope down the road to dictatorship and yes, even cities can be dictatorial.  Look at New York.

I suggest any and all readers contact their city officials about any unjust or pointless laws or ordinances and do what you can to nullify them.  Maybe it seems like a lot of pointless effort, but it makes a point more powerful than a riot could.  Riots are pretty simple to put down.  Rebellion involving intelligent minds is a much harder flame to extinguish.

Viva la Revoltion.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chickens in the city???

Our 15 Golden Buff chicks at 1 day old
Well, we held out as long as we could, but Samm and I went to the Tractor Supply store Thursday evening and bought 6 new bantam chicks.  They are AWESOMELY cute and way more entertaining to watch than any cable TV show...except maybe Scrubs, but that's different.

Right now we have them in our apartment with a heat lamp and have been watching as they "fly" themselves up to their little perch and then jump back down again.  It's absolutely hilarious to see how clumsy they are!

We already have 14 fully grown chickens at my future in-laws' house, 13 of which are Golden Buff hens (egg-celent layers!  Each lays about an egg a day!) and 1 black Jersey Giant rooster (he's a veritable mack-daddy and is VERY protective of his ladies).

How do we have chickens in Warren, MI?  Well, there's a fun story!

We first got our chicks in late spring of 2012.  We purchased 4 awkward mixed breed chicks from a local pet store and started learning the ropes of the do's and don'ts of backyard chicken raising.  I remembered reading something about Warren allowing chickens as pets and went ahead with the purchase while I was living with Samm's parents.  Once we had the coop built and an area set up for their "yard", we went ahead and ordered 15 Golden Buffs from the Meyer Hatchery in Ohio.  Our order came in (much to the surprise of the post office workers!) and we had one rooster and 14 hens.  We were thrilled even though the rooster ended up getting sick and dying within a week or so of their arrival.  As they grew and the roosters got louder, a neighbor complained and Animal Control came to investigate.  It's then that we were told about the city ordinance against keeping farm animals and that we would be fined if they weren't off the property by 5 days from then.  I was furious and felt like an idiot for having believed something I found on the internet.  Well, Samm stayed up all night with me and found just what we needed to get the city off our backs.  And as it turns out, ANY city in Michigan regardless of ordinance is subject to the same.

The Michigan Right To Farm Act:

This law states that anyone can keep and raise farm animals anywhere in Michigan so long as they are looking to sell a product or make some form of income from them and they follow the Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs).


We checked over these documents and saw that we were following the law perfectly.  So, we printed out a copy for ourselves and for the city, wrote up a letter explaining how we are within our rights, and headed on up to city hall.

You ever had a police officer pull you over for something you didn't even know was a law and then tell you that ignorance isn't a valid argument?  Well, they definitely don't enjoy their ignorance of laws being shoved back in their faces!

My future father-in-law, Bill, and I went up to City Hall together to educate them and get them off our backs.  We were very calm, as were they, but they gave us the run around.  The police sent us to the city attorney, the city attorney sent us to public services, public services sent us to the police, and finally we talked to animal control.  They told us we were wrong and they were unaware of any such law.  They said that zoning laws didn't allow for us to sell eggs out of our home and so we had no choice.  We then explained that we were delivering eggs and would be selling them at farmer's markets and would not be breaking any zoning laws.  They then took the copies of the laws and the letter and talked loudly to themselves about how they'd " to have chickens, but it's illegal."

Of course, that was in September of 2012 and here it is almost May of 2013 and we have yet to hear a word from the city.

Staying educated and current with the farming and zoning laws is important if you're going to raise any kind of livestock.  If you're armed with knowledge, you're untouchable.  Mostly.  We can get into government bullying in another blog though.  For the purposes of this one, let's just assume your city government is comprised of reasonable individuals who are there to be public servants.  Good for you for living in such a city!  In any case, you HAVE to stay current or you may end up losing your right to have the animals you so deeply crave.

Why bother going through all the trouble of knowing these laws and building a coop and feeding and cleaning up after animals?  The rewards are many!

We as a society have lost touch with where our food comes from.  Our kids don't know that chicken nuggets are made of chicken.  They don't know that hamburger is made of cow.  They couldn't find a tomato in a potato stack.  Sounds ridiculous, right?  But it's sadly true for a majority of children in our country.  There's become this disconnect between the farm and the plate...and I see this as such a moral slap in the face.  We're blindly eating what's handed to us in a fancy package and not thinking about the cost of it.  Sure, we're looking at the price, but what is the cost?  What does it cost to feed an animal?  What does it cost to package and ship eggs and meat?  How about to butcher an animal?  You start to realize that food is something we've learned to take advantage of due to an abundance here in America. I, for the first time in my life, killed and butchered my first chicken last year.  I did 3 of them total and those first 2 took a real mental toll on me.  I had never killed an animal like that before.  It's so personal when you've raised the creature yourself and you are taking its life with your bare hands.  It's humbling.  "You appreciate something more if you do it yourself" is something I've heard my whole life and this was the first time I really realized how true this statement was.

Raising chickens has allowed me to not only indulge in the best eggs I've ever tasted, it's helped me to understand the relationships found in nature.  We let our chickens roam freely through the backyard most days and I noticed that once that started happening, the number of bugs flying around us decreased dramatically.  I also noticed that their scratching at the lawn made the grass healthier....not to mention their poop.  Their poop, when composted, is some of the best fertilizer out there.  At least this is something I've read time and time again.  I'm really looking forward to doing some good composting with the massive amount of fecal matter these beautiful birds leave behind.

There are other reasons for raising your own chickens.  For example, arsenic is found in commercial chicken feed along with fluoxotine (prozac), caffeine, antibiotics, and growth hormones.  Ever notice how much younger girls are developing nowadays?  I don't have the proof to link the two right now, but I'd be willing to bet money on this among other contributors.  We'll have to discuss the never-ending profit cycle for companies like Monsanto and Pfizer in dealing with our food in another blog posting, but for now, let's focus solely on the health factor.  Maybe I'm crazy for thinking this way, but if we are what we eat, aren't chickens what they eat?  If we don't feed them natural foods, how can we expect a natural product?  Did I mention that chickens are like mini garbage disposals?  No?  Well check this out.  When you have chickens, you just save your fruit peelings and vegetable scraps, stale bread, over-ripened fruit, grass clippings, spiders and flies you squish in the house....and feed them to the chickens.  They'll LOVE it.  Then you'll end up with high quality meat and eggs and even higher quality fertilizer from their waste.  AND you'll save on garbage bags!  Maybe not a whole lot, but every little bit counts, right?

I could go on and on, but I'll let this be as is for now and pick it back up another time.  I've enjoyed keeping and raising chickens so much.  Samm and I can't wait to have a house with some property so that we can have many different animals and raise them all together, just as has been done for millennia.
Samm holding one of the new bantam chicks

Youtube Llamas with Hats...  This chick loved it so much she decided to sit on Carl.

2 of our newest chicks

An egg-sample of the latest batch of fresh eggs

Depending on the day, eggs can be huge or tiny or anywhere in between.

One of the best parts about raising chickens is seeing how different each egg is from the next.

Chickens in the garden

They aerate the soil and pick up your slack!

Digging for bugs in the garden

Chickens help keep pests under control in the garden.  They eat very little of the actual produce.

Our first eggs!

We can spend hours just watching them do their thing.

"There've gotta be bugs in here somewhere..."

Scratching around the yard on Easter looking for a bug snack

Our rooster proudly making his rounds through the yard amongst the Golden Buffs


Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy Planting :)

Whelp.  Here we are.  It's FINALLY starting to feel like Spring!  The sun is warmer, the apartment feels smaller, and all my little starter seeds have sprouted!  Well, most of them.  Some will take longer than others.

So far I've planted:
Bell Pepper
Jalapeno Pepper

Those were my "start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost" seeds.  Like I mentioned in a previous blurb, I'm actually following the directions on the seed packets this year!  Shocking concept to learn from another's wisdom.  Well, it's working out!  Here's how they're doing!
Propped up cover for the greenhouse starter kit.

Tomatoes, Broccoli, Jalapeno, Bell Peppers

Asparagus sprouts

My babies are so photogenic.  Top Left: Jalapeno, Top Right: Broccoli, Bottom Left: Bell Pepper, Bottom Right: Tomato

I had just rotated the tray, so the seedlings are all leaning hard toward where the sun USED to be.  Look at them 'maters!  The two on the far right near the front are my Eggplants.

Over the years, I've transitioned from buying pre-started plants from nurseries to buying seeds and starting all my plants on my own.  This year, I'm trying some of the seeds I saved from last year's crop and will be saving as many as I can from this year's.

One of the things I have learned is that if you start your seeds in one of those cool little starter trays with the greenhouse cover, those seedlings will QUICKLY outgrow that covering.  What I like to do is raise it with wooden skewers stuck in each of the corners of the tray.  I find it raises it JUST enough to allow more growth and still lock in some warmth.  It also conditions them to adjust to life outside the greenhouse as far as temperature is concerned.  To speed the germination process along, I also use heated mats underneath the trays.  This probably cuts of almost a week in germination time.  REALLY helpful.

I haven't decided what I'm going to start planting next, but I definitely plan on having an abundance of certain crops this year:


and there are others, but that list could just keep going on and on and then I'd feel bad if I left something know the drill.

Until next time, happy planting and hope your seed starting experience is as awesome as mine!

Hippie Hair

So this may come as a surprise to some, but minus the free-love, I'm kind of a hippie.  My fiancee` says that according to the internet, we're what you'd call "granola crunchers".  We've got a strong love of nature, try to buy all organic, gmo-free, fair trade products, and enjoy having our home decked out with plants galore!  When the sun is out, I open the blinds and just sit and enjoy its rays.  Glare on the TV?  Shut it off!  TV is for late nights when you're tired, but don't feel like sleeping.  Sunny days are for yard work, reading, and long walks with the dog.

That being said, my wedding is in May.  JUST AROUND THE CORNER!  And Samm and I wanted to have an outdoor wedding, but didn't want the risk of rain so we decided on an indoor/outdoor venue at Metro Park.  We've had a little bit of slack about this, nothing bad and nothing really worth getting too deep into, but slack nonetheless.  Those that know me know I'm a strong Christian.  So why wouldn't we get married in a church?  Churches are God's houses, so it's said.  Well, the way I look at it, God made the world, right?  All life comes from Him.  Churches are beautiful works of art, but they're man made.  But being out amongst the trees, flowers, grass, and all the bugs and birds....that to me is where you truly connect to God.  Seeing His handy work gives me more appreciation and more of a sense of spirituality than any man made cathedral ever could.

Dread Locks.

Random?  Seemingly so, but just keep reading.

I've been thinking about dread locks for a while now, but had always heard that they're dirty, smelly, and that if you don't like having them after a while, you have to cut them off.  One day, I jokingly mentioned that I should get them and she told me that I really should.  I would look "totally hot" in dread locks.  So I started looking into it.  What would it really be like to have them?  What is maintenance like?
This website had all the answers I was looking for.  I watched some videos, read some articles and blogs, and came to my own conclusions.  The preconceived notion that dreads are dirty and stink can be both true and false.  As with any hair, it can be maintained and look and smell good, OR it can be left to rot on your head and stink up the joint.  Dreads can and should be washed as often or as little as you like.  Now there are other methods rather than washing for those who choose not to do it.  I've heard a lemon juice rinse does the trick just as well, but I think I'd miss washing my hair.
Sounds great, but I don't want to risk having to lose all my hair JUST to see if I'd like having dreads.  What's that?  You don't have to cut them out???  I'm listening....
It's true, the quickest way to de-dread your head is with a big ole pair of garden shears.  However, they're absolutely able to be combed out!  Even after years of being locked up tight, with some water, conditioner, a dental hook, and a strong comb, you'll be able to get your old hair back!  It'll take a while since the longer you've had dreads, the tighter they become and the thicker they get, but if that means not losing a whole head of hair, so be it.

Now, I definitely want dreads, but I've never been a fan of the thick ones that could brain an elephant (thank you iCarly).  I think thinner is way cooler and way more my style.  But another appealing part of having dreads is the so called "spiritual journey" involved with it.  No, it's not some sort of cult.  Basically, with most hairstyles, we have a decent sense of instant gratification.  We go to get our hair done and whether it takes 15 minutes or 15 hours, when it's done, that's it.  When you walk away from your stylist (or the mirror), your hair is finished and lookin' good.  But that's the best it's going to look until it gets styled again.  With dreads, you get them put in and they look pretty good.  Then you have to deal with a couple months of real maintenance.  Loose hairs, frizz, reshaping, it all takes time.  Then, once you hit about the 3rd or 4th month, they start locking and looking better and better.  The maintenance lessens and they start coming into their own.  At the one year point, they're fully matured and require little fixing or messing at all.  Simply tie in the new growth and that's that.

The spiritual part is really just an inner peace thing.  It's kind of nice to be different and to express it in your own way.  For me, it's just nice to do something so natural.  Dreadlocks date back millennia and are a very natural hairstyle.  Now, obviously them forming naturally and freely is one thing, but I also want to fit into the modern world somewhat.  So free form ain't my thang.
The journey part is that it takes such a long time to develop them and it requires such a vast amount of patience.

Yeah, I know this makes me sound like a total weirdo, but I'm fine with that.

Alright, that's my two cent rant and now I'm off to bake some bread!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

FDA Approved post number 3!

Side effects of this posting may include nausea, rage, insightfulness, protest, and reflection.  Please consult your doctor before reading.

Monsanto....ahhh where to begin!  If you're not sure who or what Monsanto is, do a quick search (StartPage is like google but without all the baggage of government tracking) and I'm sure you'll take to the issue of their existence the same way I did...or relatively close anyway.

They're a multinational corporation deeply rooted with many OTHER multinational corporations (DOW, DuPont, Pfizer) and are widely regarded as corporate bullies.  I'll let you do the background research since I've already learned my stuff and you can further verify what I write in here.  Started in the beginning of the 20th century, they were a chemical company who created chemical weapons during WWI, pesticides, had a huge part to play in creating the first atomic bomb during WWII, created Agent Orange, etc.  They are best known for their pesticides and herbicides, specifically RoundUp.  They began gene splicing projects to created plant strains that were RoundUp resistant and this began a trip down the rabbit hole into Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Herbicide Resistance

It all sounds GREAT on paper.  Plants that can stand up to herbicides??? Awesome!  Now we don't have to pull weeds, just spray large quantities of this toxic compound directly onto the whole crop and it wipes out any trace of anything else without harming the crops themselves!  Let's pretend for a moment that this herbicide, which says right on the label just how toxic it is to ALL living things, stays right where it is, on the top of the soil and on those dirty nasty weeds.  Oh wait, that's an impossibility.  Inevitably, when those plants are watered whether by rain or by irrigation, that poison is going to end up flowing along with the water and down into our groundwater.  No problem, right?  I mean it's not like we drink that stuff....unless we have a well....
Even beyond the water contamination, the way GMOs are made is as follows:
Monsanto scientists find organisms that seem to be unaffected by the active ingredient in any given herbicide.  They take specific genes from this organism, whether bacteria, moth, spider, you name it, and splice them with the genes present in a given seed.  They then patent this seed and sell it in mass quantities to contracted "farmers".  I use the quotes because a true farmer grows more than just a single type of crop.  It's common sense, but we'll get into that later.  These "farmers" grow the plants, harvest them, and sell them to the public without indicating that this corn or soy or zucchini is different from naturally occurring plants.  The unknowing public buys their product and consumes traces of herbicide with every bite.

Cross Polination

Kind of a no-brainer, right?  Bees, butterflies, the wind...all helpers in this great thing called pollination.  Pollination allows for certain plants to produce fruit which may not without it.  It also can enhance a strain of plants by creating hybrids.  This is all naturally occurring stuff, right?  Well, tell that to Monsanto's executives and lawyers.  If by an act of nature, Monsanto seed pollen comes in contact with your non-Monsanto seed crop and one of their investigative spies comes along and takes a sample of your crop to test....and finds out that it has traces of Monsanto's patented product within the pollen............consider yourself sued, your land taken, and your future indebted to their service.  Don't believe it?  Talk to one of the hundreds of farmers currently being or having been sued for this very reason.  These people didn't even WANT the contamination to happen.  They wanted their pure strain without the baggage.  No matter, the multination corporation sues indiscriminately even if there is no evidence sometimes.  They want farmers to know that they run the show around here.

BT Toxin

Well, as I mentioned, most farmers are only growing monoculture (single type of food) crops.  You drive down any country road and all you can see for miles are corn fields.  Year after year, ear after ear, corn corn corn....
One of the biggest problems with monocultures is it's prone to disease and pest infestation!  Since only one type of plant is grown in this massive area, bugs and fungi that thrive on this particular food source see this as the opportunity of a lifetime and go in full force to satisfy their cravings.  This can lead to a massive loss in revenue for the "farmer" and increased food costs for the rest of us.  However, people have been catching on that pesticides = bad for everyone...not just bugs.  Monsanto's answer: put the pesticide in the seed's DNA!  Thus BT corn was..born?  Concocted.  Now, when insects try eating this tasty treat, their insides rupture and they die!  No more pesticide in the water supply, though!  But wait....if the poison is IN the plant...and people are growing the plant to eat....wait a minute this just doesn't compute!  Actually, traces of the BT toxin have been found in unborn babies.

I'm not even going to get into PCBs.  Look it up.  It's in the link below...along with some other nice reading material.


In order to protect itself from lawsuits and required labeling, Monsanto has lobbied their way into the United States government.

Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act on March 26 despite campaigning on our right to know.

What's wrong with lobbying?  Well, that's another discussion.  The point is, Monsanto is in the White House.  Obama signed into law the Monsanto Protection Act just this month which protects them from lawsuits regarding GMOs.  Funny how they should need that kind of protection really, I mean if their products are safe and all....  I digress.
This should answer any and all questions as to my point.  Monsanto lobbyists have found a comfortable job and a home within the EPA, FDA, USDA, Supreme Court, Congress, and the Senate.  Democrats, Republicans, they both took payment and pushed through the ideals of this multinational bully.  In almost every other nation in the world GMOs are either banned or required to be labeled.  Is there really any question as to why that hasn't happened in America yet?

The Right to KNOW

Sounds pretty basic.  It IS basic!  The right to know what is in our food and water is a fundamental right and is being blocked at every turn.  The regulatory boards will argue that these GMO foods are just as safe and are seen as an equivalent food as anything grown in nature.  But if they're the same, why can't we just go out and patent things found in nature?  If they're separate but equal, why is Monsanto able to sue those who save seeds?  Also, if they're so sure these foods are safe and are so proud of them as a feat of engineering, why wouldn't they want to display that pride on a label?  Because in other countries, and even in America, studies have linked GMOs to cancer, allergies, obesity, and other illnesses.

Another problem with Monocultures
Monsanto allows and pushes for "farmers" to grow specific crops in bulk every year.  I already explained how this is problematic as far as pest infestations go.  Now let's cover why it's destroying the earth.
When you plant a seed in the ground and it grows, produces fruit, and dies, it requires nutrients and minerals found within the soil.  Decomposing plant matter, plus a slew of other ingredients makes for healthy, living soil which allows for healthy, growing plants.  Each type of plant depletes the soil of specific nutrients.  If the same crop is planted in the same place repeatedly, the soil quality lessens...which means the food production slows....and eventually you are left with a desert.  Read up of the 1930 Dustbowl in the Midwest.  The soil became sandy...dust-like due to overuse and was unusable....

Crop Rotation
I covered this a bit in my gardening blog, but I feel like I should elaborate on why monocultures are killing the earth through a LACK of crop rotation.

When a plant grows, it uses up nutrients in the soil.  However, it also puts key ingredients back in, especially when it dies and decomposes.  If you rotate your crops properly, the nutrients used up in one season by a particular crop will be replenished the next by another and so on.

Organic v. Conventional Farming re: Profit per Acre
Organic, sustainable farming produces more and provides higher quality foods.

Conventional farming isn't only harmful to the soil, but to the air and any animals that may be hiding in the fields.

Organic wins by a landslide.
Organic farmers using no pesticide, no chemical (meaning made in a lab) fertilizers, and using proper crop rotation yields more high quality food at less cost than conventional farming methods.  Don't even get me started on raising animals.  That's an entire blog in itself.

I hope this has opened your eyes to an issue we all need to address.  I'm trying to push for a people's ballot initiative in Michigan to get GMO labeling as a legal requirement, but so far I need about 99,950 more signatures to even get a spot on a ballot.  I'm not going to quit until I succeed, but I need help.  We can all do our part by voting with our dollar in the meantime.  Yes, organic food is expensive.  Quite a bit more than conventional.  However, you don't have to start out with buying EVERYTHING organic.  Start with maybe a bag of oranges, apples, or a bunch of bananas.  My future Mrs. and I taste a VERY noticeable difference in our organic fruits v. conventionally grown fruit.  They're sweeter, juicier, and you feel their effects more.  Every purchase is registered in the store's database and when the demand for more organic produce increases, the price begins to decrease and farmers are made to comply with the growing demand.

Start a garden!  NO MIRACLE GROW!  That's cheating and it's poisonous.  If you eat soil, you're going to get dirt in your teeth and a bad taste in your mouth.  If you eat a fertilizer stake, you're going to be on the toilet for a while before you have to go to the hospital.  IF you must fertilize, use a good manure based compost.

Finally, here's a list of recommended documentaries to view.  They're all on Netfilx minus the first one.

The World According to Monsanto
Food Inc.
Food Matters
Hungry for Change
The Gerson Miracle
Forks over Knives

There are more, but off the top of my head this is all I could come up with.  Happy learning!

Just say no to Frankenfoods.

Sources (some)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

No, not Christmas time....the beginning of GARDENING SEASON!

THIS is my absolute favorite time, regardless of the fact that there's still snow and frigid temperatures to come.  This is the time when I get all my seeds together, come up with a game plan for the growing season and begin my indoor starters.

I've been gardening now for about a decade and I've never felt so connected to nature or God doing anything else.  There's something so spiritually rewarding to planting a seed and watching it grow into a full, fruiting plant.  ESPECIALLY organically.  I refuse to use chemicals or anything unnatural in my gardening so far as I can help it.  I don't care if it's nitrogen, manganese, zinc, iron, or anything else.  If it's made in a lab and thrown into dirt as an additive, it's not natural OR organic.

I have a lot of goals for this year's garden:


I want to compost this year at both my parents' house and at my future in laws'.  Since I don't get to have my own garden due to living in an apartment, I use their yards and we all share in the labor and fruits.  It's kind of a sweet deal, especially since at my future in laws' we have 14 awesome chickens consisting of 13 egg layers and a rooster and they've been VERY productive!  Best part of about that is chicken poo makes some of the best fertilizer money can buy...and for us it's free!  Of course, you can't use it fresh or it has the potential to burn the plants and kill them.  One whiff of that stuff and you'll understand why.  But I plan on composting their poo and anything else that's biodegradable and thusly provide the gardens with their own helpings of all natural fertilizer that does more than add a few key nutrients, but the entire SPECTRUM of nutrients.  It's going to be a challenge to get out there and turn that crap each day, but I'm making a point to stay motivated!  Nothing worth doing ever came easy, right?

Proper crop rotation.

I've had a nasty habit of planting whatever I want wherever I want and then wondering why certain plants produce less fruit than others....DUMB on my part!  I never thought too much about crop rotation before as a necessity.  "Can't we just fertilize the crap out of it and hope for the best?"  Sure.  We can do a lot of things.  For instance, we can eat 20 McDoubles and then fast for a month in order to maintain body weight.  The thing is, it isn't practical or smart.  Artificial fertilizers like Miracle Grow have a huge impact on your plants, absolutely.  The problem is, those plants are getting an overdose of key nutrients and are starved of others.  The result is one heck of a showroom tomato...but if we're going by taste, I'll take the smaller, more flavorful organic tomato any day.  When we deplete the soil of specific nutrients via growing the same crop over and over again year after year in the same place, letting the soil rest or artificially enhancing that soil aren't enough to really bring the quality back.  Monocultures have a nasty habit of creating deserts.  If you pay attention to what's happening between soil and plant, you'll really get an idea of how nature was intended to work.  For example, one year you decide to fill your yard with corn.  Corn as far as the eye can see (up to the back fence...then it's just fence and another yard that you WISH was yours but whatever).  Corn requires a LOT of nutrients, a key one being nitrogen.  If you keep planting corn over and over again, you'll deplete the nitrogen content of the soil down to nothing.  BUT if you rotate from one year growing corn to the NEXT year growing beans, well you've effectively replenished the soil with nitrogen!  I know, I know....that's crazy talk!  Plants USE nutrients..they can't possibly replenish them!  They do both, in fact.  Mother Earth News has some wonderful tools to help with knowing which crops to rotate and when.  If you can rotate between crop types, you can have a successful garden.

Utilizing ground cover.

I'm not talking about fancy tarps so much as fancy herbs!  I want to try something this year that I've never heard of anyone else doing, but it could be fun!  I want to minimize weed growth around my plants that I do NOT dig up each year by planting creeping thyme, oregano, mint, and parsley all around.  Yes, I'll still have a good number of weeds poking up, but it'll make better use of the space around my grapes, trees, yucca, and so on than wood chips or a tarp....  Plus, weeding the garden is therapeutic for me.  I like to take out my aggression on that stupid crab grass and whatever else the crap is growing where I don't want it by pulling them out by their roots and throwing them into the fence where they'll hang and die!  If we weren't talking about plants, that would have sounded incredibly morbid....but yeah, I like to get my hands dirty and yank out those pesky weeds.  There's just something fulfilling about doing things yourself, you know?

More raised beds.

Raised beds are absolutely wonderful.  I didn't think so before, but after experimenting a little last year, I'm sold.  They provide better protection from rodents, certain bugs, and weeds on top of looking nice.  They're also great for creating good drainage situations for your plants that are rather particular about being water-logged.  I know my parents' backyard tends to flood after a good rain and having the one raised bed made a big difference for those plants.  It's also easier to harvest, especially root veggies like carrots and beets, or leafy greens like chard and lettuce.  However, I refuse to go out and BUY raised bed kits.  That's just dumb to me.  Why would you spend money on something when you can use pretty much whatever's laying around!  I used a whole bunch of old bricks I had laying around the yard from when I wanted to build my own pizza oven...obviously I didn't accomplish it so I utilized the bricks and created a raised bed next to the garage where the ground was severely sunken in.  It worked like a charm!  You can use old pop or wine bottles, old leftover lumber, paint cans, plastic tubs, whatever you want or have laying around basically!  Yes, you'll need to fill them with dirt and that can be pricey if you're buying it all from a store...but if you're composting already, problem solved.  Of course, if you're already've probably thought this through!

Paying more attention to the needs of the plants.

Men.  We never stop to ask for directions and HATE to use instruction manuals.  However....even I can admit that I probably should.  So, I vow to follow the instructions provided on the seed packets much more closely this year!  I have another nasty habit of planting things where it's convenient for ME and not where it'll be the most productive for the plant.  This year, I'm reading every step provided and doing my best to follow them and plan my gardens for SUCCESS.


This is a key thing for me.  Anyone who knows me knows how strongly opposed to Monsanto and their big ag attitude of "no seed shall be grown that we do not own".  These corporate bullies are all about buying a whole new crop of seeds each year from their distributors.  That's one way to keep food costs up and farmers' profits down...  Not for me though.  I'm going to expand on my seed saving project that I started last summer and try to save as many seeds from each crop as I can.  I'm still learning the ins and outs of it all, but it's a process.  I want to make it so that I never need to buy seeds, wanting to buy new varieties or new types of seeds is a completely different story.  That's because I want to try something new.  But I want to keep a steady supply of "staple" seeds on hand at all times, saved from previous seasons and free for me to share or store.

Aquaponics (take two)

For those that don't know, aquaponics is the all natural, waste-free version of hydroponics.  Basically it combines aquaculture and hydroponics to create a super-charged growth method and complete ecosystem.  You start by setting up a hydroponic grow area, outdoors or indoors is largely irrelevant for this.  Then, instead of the gallon buckets and bubblers and artificial additives for the water, you set up a fish tank and raise fish.  Now, they can be fish for decorative purposes or you can raise something edible like trout or tilapia.  The type of fish only matters if you plan on eating it.  Instead of using a filter to clean the tank of fecal matter, you pump the water out of the tank and into the grow beds just like in hydroponics.  The water floods the beds and the plants soak of the ammonia and other waste from the fish, then the water pours back into the fish tank clean and ready for another go around.  It's a no waste system that, once established, can produce fruits at up to 6 times the rate of a conventionally grown plant. Too cool.  I had a set up like this at my in-laws' last year and it was AWESOME!  The problem is, I had too many fish in too small an area....and not a big enough grow bed or enough plants to filter the waste properly.  THIS YEAR I know what I did wrong and plan on correcting it.  I won't give up!

Spending more time in the garden.

Life gets in the way too much sometimes and I end up wanting to just sit inside and read a book or watch TV rather than go out and observe my plants, pull weeds, or work on a compost pile.  Instant gratification isn't always all that gratifying.  I want to spend more time learning patience through watching my plants grow and produce.  Nature in action is better than any TV show or movie EVEN on Discovery or National Geographic.  Just sitting in the garden gives you time to reflect and plan.  It's got a healing quality to it.  Just being surrounded by God's things you had a hand in's an indescribable feeling that so many don't stop to even consider.  I spend a good amount of time in my gardens, but not nearly what I'd like to.  This is a new year and a new chance.

So I started some seeds today.  Not a whole lot, but enough to get my blood pumping with excitement and anticipation!  I planted some Artichokes, Asparagus, Purple Broccoli, Black Krim Tomatoes, Eggplants, Jalapenos, Orange Bell Peppers....all heirloom seed varieties from and I'll be planting more as the directions know since I'm following them and all..  I'm really pumped about the prospects of my gardens this year and all the joy they'll bring to me and those I share them with.  This year is kind of my beginning the rest of my life year....I'm getting married in May to the most wonderful girl on the planet (for me!) and raising chickens and gardens and getting closer to earning my degree and becoming a registered interpreter for the deaf!  All in all, I'm happy.  Money is always tight and always an issue, but give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.  I like to think of me doing my part in gardening sustainably as giving back to God somehow.

Morality is doing what is right regardless of what is told. Obedience is doing what is told regardless of what is right.

There were probably about 50 tomato plants here, all heirloom and all pretty productive.  I just couldn't bring myself to thin out the "herd" :P

The outer edge of one garden.  In this section I grew carrots, beets, herbs, cucuzzi, zucchini, and cucumbers mostly.  There were some tomato plants as well, but only a couple.  On the far right is the entrance to our chicken yard!

My first raised bed.  As you can see, the bricks are all different colors and sizes, but it got the job done at no extra cost and my beets, lettuce, carrots, greens, and herbs were all AMAZINGLY productive!

Here you can see some of my tropicals I planted alongside some veggies.  The center tree near the fence is a fig and there are two more on either side of that one.  The leaves in the very center near the front are from my lemon tree.  Sadly, it died this year due to my neglect, but it fruited!

Here is my bamboo trellis.  I've become pretty proficient in constructing sturdy trellises out of bamboo and twine.  The plants here are sunflowers, broccoli, cabbage, blue corn, cucuzzi, and wildflowers.
Corn, Cucumbers, Dill, Beans, and Peppers

This is the basic concept for any aquaponics set-up.  You can make them as simply or as elaborate as you'd like, just make sure you do it!  It's super cool!