Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
A katydid, a grape, and a piece of baling twine

Grape and tomato raceWhen I strung up a simple piece of baling twine to guide our young grape vine to its trellis, Mark rolled his eyes.  Did I have to relentlessly reuse found material?, I could see him thinking.  What if the twine rotted out before the grape hit the wire?

Luckily for me, the grape vine took to its job with gusto.  Despite having been a mere unrooted twig only a little over a year ago, the plant settled in to grow like nuts.  I could watch the plant out the trailer window, and I just knew it was going to reach the trellis wire 7.5 feet above the ground in early July.

Then, one day, a bush katydid that I had written about in The Naturally Bug-Free Garden as mostly harmless nibbled the growing tip right off my grape vine!  I had warning too, having watched the same insect bite the end off a tendril just a few minutes before, but I wouldn't quite believe my eyes.  Could that sweet little insect have derailed my baling-twine experiment so quickly?

Bush katydidI snagged the katydid and fed it to our tractored hens (so there!), but the damage was done.  As with any plant that loses its top, apical dominance had fled and the vine began to branch out from lower buds rather than continuing its race for the sky.  But soon enough one shoot took the lead, and this weekend that grape finally reached the wire, proving my crazy reusing ways weren't flawed.

So much drama!  This is my favorite part about the growing area in front of the trailer --- since I can watch it out the window, I see every little bit of life that occurs, both good and bad.  I can hardly wait to discover whether, next year, I might get to watch grape fruits develop from tiny blooms right in front of my eyes.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 200 one year along

Updated the Debian backport. (Also the git-remote-gcrypt backport.)

Made the assistant install a desktop file to integrate with Konqueror.

Improved git annex repair, fixing a bug that could cause it to leave broken branch refs and yet think that the repair was successful.

A bit surprised to see that now been a full year since I started doing development funded by my campaign. Not done yet!

Update on campaign rewards:

Today's work was sponsored by Douglas Butts.

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Three stories high
Warre hive

Both of our hives are now three stories high, with an additional uninhabited attic.

This hive doesn't seem to mind being lost in the weeds on a seldom-visited part of the farm.  But we pulled a few of the larger plants in front of their runway while we were nadiring.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Sourwood and basswood flow
Partially drawn comb

Despite a week that felt more like September than July, our bees have been working astonishingly hard.  Every time I pass by both hives, workers are flying in and out like crazy.  In fact, the colonies have been so busy, they didn't even mind me weeding nearly on their doorstep last week, a sure sign a nectar flow is under way.

Sourwood has been blooming for a few weeks, and even though the trees I can see from my window seem to be nearly done, I'm still noticing new blossoms littering the forest floor in the woods.  But my movie-star neighbor tells me his bees are probably working basswood, which would explain the hive traffic jams even better.  Even though the lofty basswood at the edge of our yard isn't blooming this year, there are probably many more trees in the woods dripping with sweet nectar for our bees to partake of.

Honeybee hive

The last few times I've taken photos up underneath our hives, I haven't seen much new activity.  In fact, if anything, it seemed like the mother hive had eaten through some of their stores last time I checked, and the top photo in this post shows that they haven't made much headway since last month.  But on Sunday evening, I struggled to take a photo under the daughter hive and eventually realized the problem was that the bees had drawn comb nearly to the screened bottom board, and that the camera simply couldn't focus so close to the lens.  Looks like the feedings I've been giving that hive have paid off.  Time to add another box and proclaim our split a glowing success.  Maybe now I can take them off the dole...again?

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture TwistMichael Judd sent me a copy of his Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist to review, and I gulped the book down the same day it arrived.  Too bad I couldn't taste the berries in those beautiful pictures!  More seriously, Judd's book is a fast and fun read, mostly geared toward newbie suburban homesteaders, but with tidbits that will suit even the established farmer on forty acres.

I'll discuss the one negative right away.  Most of the book's projects are clearly based on plantings Judd made as part of his edible landscaping business, so they focus on initial aesthetics and don't necessarily have the multi-year followup to see what does and doesn't work.  As a result, there are a few things included that I've seen in other books, but that have failed when I tried them on the ground.  For example, I wouldn't recommend planting comfrey right up to the base of young fruit trees (especially if your soil is poor), and I think it would be handy to note which of the unusual fruit species profiled are invasive in the U.S.  On the other hand, by keeping each section simple, Judd will probably inspire many more readers to take the plunge and try something, which is how we truly learn what suits our site.

Rain garden

That caveat aside, I found a lot to pique my interest in Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist.  First, there's the story of the book itself, which is self-published based on a kickstarter campaign, but is distributed by Chelsea Green --- I wanted to hear more about how that came about!  Next, mixed amidst the most-popular permaculture techniques (hugelkultur, herb spirals, earthen ovens), Judd includes a fascinating section on rain gardens, which sound very much like my sky pond but for soil that actually drains.  In the same chapter, the author also explains how to make an A-frame level for easy keyline marking, a tool I definitely plan to try out.  Finally, those of you who imbibe will likely get a kick out of the various alcoholic recipes scattered throughout the text.

In the end, though, my favorite part of Judd's book was the photos and diagrams.  If you're a magazine reader, you should track down a copy of his book just for the eye candy, and I guarantee you'll end up inspired to try at least one of project on your own homestead.  Judd's beautiful and inspiring read is just the nudge you might need to stop dreaming and start doing.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Mid-July 2014 in the garden
Collecting seeds

The last vestiges of spring are coming out of the garden this week and next.  A few small cabbages are lingering in unneeded corners, and I just pulled out the kale, arugula, and poppy plants after harvesting their seeds.  I probably should harvest all of the spring carrots, too, but there's not really room for them in the fridge due to the dozen cabbages currently chilling and waiting to be souped, so I've just been pulling orange roots as needed for the last few weeks.

Summer garden

Of course, the summer crops fill most of my attention at this time of year, both in the garden and in the kitchen.  But we've already started on fall crops, too, setting out broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts and direct-seeding carrots and peas.  Since fall crops often germinate poorly during hot, dry weather, one of my most important tasks at this time of year is remembering to drop back by the fall beds a week or two after planting, reseeding as necessary.

Basket of cucumbers

The other thing I try (and often fail) to remember in the height of summer is to make notes on my gardening spreadsheet about what we planted too much of.  For example, we've had so many excess cucumbers and summer squash for the last few years that I've had to give them away by the basketload, and yet I keep planting the same amount.  Maybe I'll remember to only plant half as many cucurbits in 2015?

Joey chatter

Different power failures in the UK keep setting my work back this week. Just lost 5 days of trying to build ghc on arm.

Particularly "special" because I'm not in the UK, nor on the grid for that matter.

Letter Song

I want to write a letter to yesterday

that says to express my wants and needs

that "no's" alright and waiting is fine

that I don't have to try so hard all the time

to be gay or to walk straight 

down the main beaten road

Just to lighten my load

That society's burden

and society's pains 

are grim but its ok to swim

Just to float or sink into a boat

it's ok to kiss on destiny's child

to be proud of the way she walks in the light

and even to gloat

but regrets will come

and we must think them through

they will happen to you 

oh society's child

you can take it more mild

if you don;t think it's a beautiful web

than you gt washed with the eb

and the flow

so oh no

oh no baby girl don't go

just keep taking it slow.

I got your words in my inbox

and I can just speak for today

that it's ok to say no way today

but yesterday's stab

and yesterday's show 

it wasn't that bad

you had been so sad

and now your released

ok?  into today

baby girl you've still got your baby face

and anuone who shows disgrace

can just walk away 

and leave you along

or I'll unplug their phone

and lock them away

one broken system 

can replace another

pop culture isn't a letter frm Gad

if he or she or they was here

there would be no place for this fear

you've done nothing wrong.

I wrote you this song

to show you you're strong.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
In memory of Onie Clark, a colorful woman

Onie Clark"Onie Mae Cresong Clark, age 79, of Bristol, VA, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at the NHC Healthcare of Bristol.  Onie was born April 8, 1935 in Washington County, Virginia, a daughter of the late Ward Christopher Cresong and Elvie Smith Cresong.  She was a lifelong resident of Scott County and Washington County, Virginia, where she was a homemaker and was of the Baptist faith.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Silas Clark..."

Back when I was knee high to a grasshopper, Onie and Silas lived up the creek from my childhood farm.  I would run down to visit, barefoot and clad only in underpants, until Onie finally put her foot down and required me to don a shirt.  Despite that one act of tough love, our neighbor was always ready to enfold me in her arms, where I was riveted by her neon orange chewing gum, a color I'd never seen before in my life, and by her southern makeup, so different from the appearance of my clean-faced Yankee mother.

Graduation photoBut appearances weren't important to me at that age.  I was on a mission, and once inside, I headed straight for the bathroom.  No, I didn't need to go, but our family's farm only boasted an outhouse, so the concept of peeing in a toilet was remarkable to my young mind.  Plus, Onie's bathroom had real green carpeting on top of the closed toilet lid, so soft I wanted to run my hands through the pile.  In fact, I probably hid out there for several minutes, drawing pictures in the deep yarn.

Onie with pot-bellied stoveBack in the kitchen, I entered Onie's domain, decorated with big ceramic bins in the shape of mushrooms.  Our country neighbor was most likely cooking soup beans and biscuits, but hers was a version remarkably dissimilar to the type my health-conscious parents set out on our table.  Grownup Anna knows that the difference was copious butter and salt, plus a healthy hunk of bacon in the beans, but child-Anna only knew that Onie could cook like no one else.  There would be yellow tomatoes with red centers, so juicy they oozed across the plate, and perhaps an ear of sweet corn on the side.  I definitely wanted to be invited to dinner.

At the time when Onie was part of my village, my nuclear family was so dirt poor that all of us were fed free lunches at school.  In fact, I remember my kindergarten teacher giving me a red, hooded cape that I cherished, not realizing she felt me a charity case.  And I remember how much I yearned for the big, beautiful boxes of crayons that the other kids brought out to color with, complete with metallic hues and a sharpener in the back.

Me dreamingLater, I would become saddened by Christmases where the presents were never quite what I asked for.  One year, I yearned for Archie Carr's Handbook of Turtles, and was instead gifted with the larger and more colorful (but harder to read) Encyclopedia of Turtles.  I'm not even sure the issue was so much money as a difficulty deciphering the dreams of a complicated child, but to Onie, I wasn't so complex.  My neighbor saw the silver and gold crayons dancing through my dreams and she gave me the best gift I'd ever received in my young life --- a box of crayons so big the sticks were arranged in stadium seating.  My brother Joey and I would later melt a few crayons on our tin roof, molding them into shapes as glorious as the drawings I made when the crayons were first sharp and new.  That gift may well be the reason I majored in art (as well as biology) when the time came to go to college.


As with her husband, I never really knew Onie as an adult.  When she passed away this week, I hadn't truly visited with her in years.  But my memories of sitting on the ground by her porch and gently massaging sedum leaves into balloons while Onie and Mom visited together will last forever.  And whenever I walk by my touch-me-not flowers that descended from Onie's seeds, I'll think of the colorful woman who once made my dreams come true.  Thank you for the crayons, Onie, and for spreading color and love through my young world.

Joey chatter

Doing a from-scratch rebuild of my mail server this evening. These 90 lines of haskell code set everything up.

A little OTT perhaps, but I think I understand my setup better now, and can find it all in one place when I need to refresh. Also, I'll never forget to run postmap or newaliases when changing a file, since that's automated too.

Also, I'll probably refactor this initial code dump into something less horrrible later.

kiteMailServer :: Property
kiteMailServer = propertyList " mail server"
    [ Postfix.installed
    , Apt.installed ["postfix-pcre"]
    , Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "postgrey"

    , Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "spamassassin"
    , "/etc/default/spamassassin" `File.containsLines`
        [ "ENABLED=1"
        , "OPTIONS=\"--create-prefs --max-children 5 --helper-home-dir\""
        , "CRON=1"
        , "NICE=\"--nicelevel 15\""
        ] `onChange` Service.restarted "spamassassin"
        `describe` "spamd enabled"

    , Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "spamass-milter"
    -- Add -m to prevent modifying messages Subject or body.
    , "/etc/default/spamass-milter" `File.containsLine`
        "OPTIONS=\"-m -u spamass-milter -i\""
        `onChange` Service.restarted "spamass-milter"
        `describe` "spamass-milter configured"

    , Apt.installed ["maildrop"]
    , "/etc/maildroprc" `File.hasContent`
        [ "# Global maildrop filter file (deployed with propellor)"
        , "DEFAULT=\"$HOME/Maildir\""
        , "MAILBOX=\"$DEFAULT/.\""
        , "# Filter spam to a spam folder, unless .keepspam exists"
        , "if (/^X-Spam-Status: Yes/)"
        , "{"
        , "  `test -e \"$HOME/.keepspam\"`"
        , "  if ( $RETURNCODE != 0 )"
        , "  to ${MAILBOX}spam"
        , "}"
        `describe` "maildrop configured"

    , "/etc/aliases" `File.hasPrivContentExposed` ctx
        `onChange` cmdProperty "newaliases" ["newaliases"]
    , hasJoeyCAChain
    , "/etc/ssl/certs/postfix.pem" `File.hasPrivContentExposed` ctx
    , "/etc/ssl/private/postfix.pem" `File.hasPrivContent` ctx

    , "/etc/postfix/mydomain" `File.containsLines`
        [ "/.*\\.kitenet\\.net/\tOK"
        , "/ikiwiki\\.info/\tOK"
        , "/joeyh\\.name/\tOK"
        `onChange` Service.restarted "postfix"
        `describe` "postfix mydomain file configured"
    , "/etc/postfix/obscure_client_relay.pcre" `File.containsLine`
        "/^Received: from ([^.]+)\\.kitenet\\.net.*using TLS.*by kitenet\\.net \\(([^)]+)\\) with (E?SMTPS?A?) id ([A-F[:digit:]]+)(.*)/ IGNORE"
        `onChange` Service.restarted "postfix"
        `describe` "postfix obscure_client_relay file configured"
    , Postfix.mappedFile "/etc/postfix/virtual"
        (flip File.containsLines
            [ "# * to joey"
            , "\tjoey"
        ) `describe` "postfix virtual file configured"
    , Postfix.mappedFile "/etc/postfix/relay_clientcerts" $
        flip File.hasPrivContentExposed ctx
    , Postfix.mainCf `File.containsLines`
        [ "myhostname ="
        , "mydomain = $myhostname"
        , "append_dot_mydomain = no"
        , "myorigin ="
        , "mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain, $mydomain, kite.$mydomain., localhost, regexp:$config_directory/mydomain"
        , "mailbox_command = maildrop"
        , "virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual"

        , "# Allow clients with trusted certs to relay mail through."
        , "relay_clientcerts = hash:/etc/postfix/relay_clientcerts"
        , "smtpd_relay_restrictions = permit_mynetworks,permit_tls_clientcerts,permit_sasl_authenticated,reject_unauth_destination"

        , "# Filter out client relay lines from headers."
        , "header_checks = pcre:$config_directory/obscure_client_relay.pcre"

        , "# Enable postgrey."
        , "smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_mynetworks,reject_unauth_destination,check_policy_service inet:"

        , "# Enable spamass-milter."
        , "smtpd_milters = unix:/spamass/spamass.sock"
        , "milter_connect_macros = j {daemon_name} v {if_name} _"

        , "# TLS setup -- server"
        , "smtpd_tls_CAfile = /etc/ssl/certs/joeyca.pem"
        , "smtpd_tls_cert_file = /etc/ssl/certs/postfix.pem"
        , "smtpd_tls_key_file = /etc/ssl/private/postfix.pem"
        , "smtpd_tls_loglevel = 1"
        , "smtpd_tls_received_header = yes"
        , "smtpd_use_tls = yes"
        , "smtpd_tls_ask_ccert = yes"
        , "smtpd_tls_session_cache_database = sdbm:/etc/postfix/smtpd_scache"

        , "# TLS setup -- client"
        , "smtp_tls_CAfile = /etc/ssl/certs/joeyca.pem"
        , "smtp_tls_cert_file = /etc/ssl/certs/postfix.pem"
        , "smtp_tls_key_file = /etc/ssl/private/postfix.pem"
        , "smtp_tls_loglevel = 1"
        , "smtp_use_tls = yes"
        , "smtp_tls_session_cache_database = sdbm:/etc/postfix/smtp_scache"
        `onChange` Postfix.dedupMainCf
        `onChange` Service.restarted "postfix"
        `describe` "postfix configured"

    , Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "dovecot-imapd"
    , Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "dovecot-pop3d"

    , Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "cron"
    , Apt.installed ["bsd-mailx"]
    ctx = Context ""
Beauty Itself is a Purposeful Direction

Beauty was the first meaningful thing I sought out.  Hiking or being carried with my finger pointing ahead as if I had been there.  The beautiful place, a pinnacle of winter landscape, had beconed me.  Children are gurus of the spirit.  They cry and scrape their knees and should be protected but they will teach you things about God.  

For so long I doubted God but I am remembering to love the spirit again. Someday my blood will water and iron again.  Right now it is my beat and source.  I have very little more than the bottom of my feet.  I am still a child of God.  My soul is all that I have.

Joey chatter

Fuming at the horribleness of If you ever find yourself reading an obit of anyone you care about, you should save as pdf.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
I Am Hutterite

I Am HutteriteI Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby is an intriguing glimpse into Hutterite culture, a sister religion to the Amish and Mennonites, but one that is centered in Canada instead of in the U.S.  Although none of these religions are technically homesteading-related topics, I suspect many of you are as intrigued as I am by their farm-based communities, so I thought I'd share some tidbits from this interesting memoir.

The author was raised by Hutterite parents who chose to leave the community when Mary-Ann was nearly ten years old.  So the reader sees the Hutterite community primarily through a child's rose-tinted glasses, but also comes to understand why Mary-Ann's parents chose to "run away" after a power struggle resulted in the death of Mary-Ann's young brother.

Although it's easy to understand how inter-personal politics can go wrong in this type of situation, Mary-Ann also shares how safe and accepted members felt as part of the Hutterite community.  The 15-acre vegetable garden, milk cows, and geese fed everyone sumptuous meals, which led to a striking comparison with the moldy bologna, stale bread, and rotting produce that the children ate soon after the split.  On the other hand, the story also served as a cautionary tale for non-Hutterites interested in forming communist communities --- while everything can be wonderful as long as the community stays together, it can be very tough for a family to get their feet back under them after a split.

Mary-Ann was in for other surprises, too, as her family slowly integrated themselves into the outside world.  As you might expect, the author and her siblings had trouble blending in with kids in their classes at school, but there were also troubles at home.  Since Hutterite children start kindergarten at 2.5 years of age and then spend the rest of their lives eating most meals with the community and working designated jobs, the concept of being around her nuclear family all day was a surprise.

In fact, if she had remained Hutterite, Mary-Ann would have had her life planned out for her.  She would have begun alternating between weeks spent baking, washing dishes, and cooking at the age of 17, she would gotten married and then have taken several long breaks to bear children, and finally she would have retired from her work career at the age of 45.  Instead, Mary-Ann and her family were spat out into the "English" world that most of us live in, where great freedom means great responsibility.

I Am Hutterite is first and foremost a glimpse into Hutterite culture, written in an engaging, fiction-like manner.  Whether you'd like to know more about an Anabaptist community or simply want want a light summer read, Mary-Ann Kirkby's book is bound to hit the spot.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 199 ten minute cycle

Spent hours today in a 10-minute build/test cycle, tracking down a bug that caused the assistant to crash on Windows after exactly 10 minutes uptime. Eventually found the cause; this is fallout from last month's work that got it logging to the debug.log on Windows.

There was more, but that was the interesting one..

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
ill gotten cardboard
stove box in back of truck

The county started posting a guard at each dump site to prevent people from taking valuable garbage and scrap metal.

I was dropping off some trash the other day when I noticed this stove box sitting on the ground next to a dumpster.

The guard was distracted doing something in their little shack which made me think I could take the cardboard and run if I acted quick enough. I made a clean getaway. No sirens or admonishing statement from the guard. The box will live on as a layer of kill mulch for the garden.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Another Egyptian onion giveaway (and selling off Daddy's patch)
Egyptian onion patch

All of our excess Egyptian onions for the year are long gone, but Daddy has quite a few top and bottom bulbs he's willing to sell.  I asked him why he planted so many onions and he shrugged.  "I had the bulbs and I had the room," he explained.  I understand --- that's the danger of the gardening bug!

Luckily, you get to benefit from my father's poor judgment.  Daddy's selling small flat-rate boxes of top bulbs (at least 100 per box) for $25 with free shipping, and sets of 20 bottom bulbs (and a few top bulb bonuses) for $25 with free shipping.

Egyptian onion bottom bulbs
20 Egyptian onion bottom bulbs
Free shipping within the U.S.
(Sorry, we are unable to ship live plants internationally)

Egyptian onion top bulbs
100 Egyptian onion top bulbs (various sizes)
Free shipping within the U.S.
(Sorry, we are unable to ship live plants internationally)

Trying to decide which starter pack will fit your garden?  If you've got lots of time and room, I'd go for the top bulbs --- you'll need to give them a bit more time before harvesting, but will end up with many more onions by this time next year.  On the other hand, if you want to start eating nearly right away (or don't have much room), the bottom bulbs are a great value (plus, next year you'll have top bulbs to give away or to expand your planting).

To read more about growing and eating Egyptian onions, click here.  And to celebrate excess onions, Daddy is also giving away two boxes, winner's choice (top or bottom bulbs).  Click on the widget below to enter!  (If you live outside the U.S., you can still enter, but if you win, I'll send you a non-perishable replacement prize like a t-shirt or book.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks go to Barbara Ervin for taking the top photo in this post!

Joey git-annex devblog
day 198 branching out

I have mostly been thinking about gcrypt today. This issue needs to be dealt with. The question is, does it really make sense to try to hide the people a git repository is encrypted for? I have posted some thoughts and am coming to the viewpoint that obscuring the identities of users of a repository is not a problem git-annex should try to solve itself, although it also shouldn't get in the way of someone who is able and wants to do that (by using tor, etc).

Finally, I decided to go ahead and add a gcrypt.publish-participants setting to git-remote-gcrypt, and make git-annex set that by default when setting up a gcrypt repository.

Some promising news from the ghc build on arm. I got a working ghc, and even ghci works. Which would make the template haskell in the webapp etc avaialble on arm without the current horrible hacks. Have not managed to build the debian ghc package successfully yet though.

Also, fixed a bug that made git annex sync not pull/push with a local repository that had not yet been initialized for use with git-annex.

Today's work was sponsored by Stanley Yamane.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
New blight-resistant tomatoes
Tomatoes and parsley

It looks like this will be another low-tomato year, with septoria leaf spot rushing through our planting despite weekly pruning sessions.  I've also seen a couple of patches of early blight, but the septoria is doing the majority of the damage because of its early start.

Septoria leaf spot is supposed to only hit tomato plants relatively late in the year, which suggests that the fault is my own --- I probably carried the fungus over from last year's garden in my saved seeds.  In other words, any seeds I save this year will be equally suspect, although a heat-treatment of 25 minutes at 122 degrees Fahrenheit might possibly make them safer to use.

Luckily, tomato breeders are finally starting to come up with varieties that resist early blight, late blight, and septoria leaf spot.  Johnny's Select Seeds sells Jasper, a red cherry tomato with intermediate resistance to early blight and septoria leaf spot, while their Plum Regal, Defiant, and Mountain Magic are moderately resistant to late blight and early blight.

An even more enticing selection comes from High Mowing Organic.  Iron Lady is a red slicer bred by Cornell University and North Carolina State University to resist early blight, late blight, and septoria leaf spot, along with verticillium and fusarium wilts.  I'm thinking we might try all five resistant varieties next year and not use any of our saved seeds in hope of getting the various tomato blights off our farm.

Tomato planting

What's the next line of defense if that fails?  The real reason we lose so many tomatoes to blight is because our climate is very damp, even during the summer.  We already save the sunniest spots for tomatoes and don't use overhead irrigation there, plus we tie the plants up and prune away leaves close to the ground.  And this year I even tried raising the plants up on mounds to produce even drier conditions, but clearly none of that is enough to beat blight.

The next step would be blocking rain from hitting our tomatoes with a greenhouse, hoophouse, or something similar.  Or we could follow the recommendation of a Canadian website, which suggests growing tomatoes on a balcony or rooftop for a similar reason.  One of these days, I'll figure out how to have copious tomatoes despite our wet climate!

Joey git-annex devblog
day 197 autobuilder rescuscitation

Yay, the Linux autobuilder is back! Also fixed the Windows build.

Fixed a reversion that prevented the webapp from starting properly on Windows, which was introduced by some bad locking when I put in the hack that makes it log to the log file on that platform.

Various other minor fixes here and there. There are almost enough to do a release again soon.

I've also been trying to bootstrap ghc 7.8 on arm, for Debian. There's a script that's supposed to allow building 7.8 using 7.6.3, dealing with a linker problem by using the gold linker. Hopefully that will work since otherwise Debian could remain stuck with an old ghc or worse lose the arm ports. Neither would be great for git-annex..

Her Name will Be Breeze

On one hand, I don't have a middle name.  On the other, I have two.  On yet another my middle name is a present nothingness, a silence as experienced when a person sticks their head under water with no chance of hickups.  

Once I met RobinElla.  She was a very sexy woman, wearing a red leather vest, singing on stage in the Cameo Theater.  During the reception I told her I admire her and my middle names are like her name:  Ellen Robin.  

On facebook from time to time I redraft my name.  I put my legal middle name in there, wrote out all four names, and on occasions I write another word entirely like "Sage" or currently:  "Breeze."

You can't take Breeze as your name unless you're going to be valient.  Breeze may be my hippy name.  I used to have an aquaintance named Breeze, a young but older woman activist, one of the first people I ever met whose blood seemed to boil over to end war and bring justice around.  Maybe these are common goals but we all don't claim them and talk about them and devote our lives towards them.  My brother Jay was an activist too deep in his blood and there was always me.

While I was swimming it occurred to me that my medittions have pushed out love or breathed in peace with real imballance.  I always used to attempt to breathe out love but I don't know how much reached the world because I would not allow the love in. 

I was opperating on an imballance.  It is so bloomin' difficult to be perfect, in fact it is impossible.  But self love is pretty essential and it is something I need to work on if anyone has suggestions.  Until then my facebook middle name is Breeze to remind my inner strength to stand up for herself.  

Swimmer's Meditation

<3  The pool is around me already.  After not swimming a week, my body seems to have forgotten something.  Marcy said meditate. Last night, reading a passage from George Fox's journal before bed, I felt my sea legs never sure if I can call myself a Quaker.  But as one, I have some experience with meditation.  One sort of meditation, unguided by more than patience, at least for me.  Patiently waiting and opening myself to experiencing that element of God in all of us.  I shut out Meeting for a long time and with that meditation.  But somehow I have shared my goal to swim a mile with the lifeguard, and by now this first half of a lap, I am ready to put intention to my thoughts.  Wren said she sometimes meditates concentrating on the place where the breath enters and exits her body while saying silent mantras like "Only Light.  Only Love.  Only Healing."  But I cannot think of the word light and I decide to make my own matnras in this hour and six minute meditation.

My swim routine is often random strokes - whatever I feel like doing next.  But today, perhaps because of the fresh feeling of swimming for the first time in a long spell, I create a pattern of three strokes.  Free Style.  Backstroke.  Breaststroke.  Repeat.

This is where my meditation took me:

Only Love

Only Healing

Only Harmony

Only Intelligence

Only Kindness

Only Strength

Only Empowerment

Only Conviction

Only Determination

Only Love

Only Peace

Only Love

Only Play

Only Creation

Only Love

Only Kindness

Only Tenderness

Only Love

Only Comfort

Only Sharing

Only Love

Only Love

Only Compassion

Only Pleasure

What is Pleasure?

Only Love

Only Challenge

Only Love

Only Honesty

Only Love

Only Pride

What is Pride?

Adam said pride is what he love in his friends.  I remember sitting in an Italian Restraunt with him, eating shrimp and pasta, intrigued by pride, but ashamed.   I have been through a lot of hard times but in the pool when I work hard and I am swimming a mile, I feel proud.  I am proud of my convictions, and the voice of gentleness in me that becomes exposed in the open when I suit up and dive on in.

Now salad for brunch?  I find myself at home.  I am ready to start the next chapter of my life.  <3 

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Laughing Water pastured meat
Laughing Water farm

Mark and I decided my book-advance check should go to a worthy cause --- buying pastured beef for the freezer!*  But where would we find the meat?  Our pastured-lamb producers don't raise cows for sale, so we downloaded the huge Local Food Guide from Healthy Angus cowthe sidebar of this website.  Next, I read all of the farm descriptions of pastured-beef producers within an hour-and-a-half drive of our homestead, I skipped the ones who didn't list an email address (yes, I hate the phone), and then I quickly narrowed down our options to one top choice --- Laughing Water Farm in Marion, Virginia.

What was the appeal of Laughing Water over the other options?  Antoinette Goodrich manages Laughing Water Farm as a healthy ecosystem, keeping her cattle on grass year-round, stockpiling winter pasture, and also putting away some hay.  The only supplements she feeds her cows are sea salt and kelp, and one look at the farm was enough to prove that Antoinette has the animal equivalent of a green thumb.

Ossabaw pigs

Young turkeyWith over 200 acres to play with, Antoinette has room for more than the 40 head of cattle (plus their calves) that she raises to turn into pastured beef.  She stocks Ossabaw pigs too, a heritage breed that was abandoned by sailors on an island off the coast of Georgia.  Over the decades that the pigs lived on their own, they turned into strong specimens well able to thrive on pasture.  Granted, an Ossabaw pig may take a year or more to reach slaughter weight (and that weight is much less than that of huge modern breeds), but for Antoinette, the hardy pigs are worth the wait.

We only spent about an hour on the farm, so there's probably much, much more to Laughing Water's farm-diversity story.  But I should mention that there were also lots of free-range turkeys, ducks, and chickens, plus experiments in no-till gardening, and some great-looking tomato hoop houses.


Appalachian farmAnd excellent record-keeping!  The chart above shows every medication that's been administered to the cows on the property.  Besides worming and immunization, the only problem that has required treatment was pink eye in a single cow.  Antoinette noted that she will treat cows in a scenario like that because she doesn't want the animals to be in pain, but the pink-eye-treated cow wouldn't end up in a customer's freezer.

Cows under a shade tree

Our one mistake during our visit to Laughing Water Farm was getting the meat out of the freezer before we started our tour.  As a result, by the time we reached the cattle, I knew we shouldn't leave our precious haul to thaw in the heat much longer.  But we did stay long enough to learn about the extensive infrastructure, including self-watering stations Pigs in the barndesigned to keep the liquid close enough at any given time so that individual cows will seek out hydration without waiting for the lead cow to bring the herd to water.  There are permanently fenced pastures, through which cows are moved at a rate of about two paddocks per week, and we could tell that the cattle were very happy since most were still out grazing rather than lazing under the shade tree despite the summer heat.  (The pigs, on the other hand, chose to spend a bit more time in the barn.)

Splitting the meat

The other thing I might have done differently is to alert Antoinette that my sister and I were going to split the half of a cow fifty-fifty.  We had to separate the meat a piece at a time, trying to give us each an equal number of each cut.  Antoinette was very helpful in suggesting equivalent cuts for parcels that didn't come out even, but I don't recall the exact details (just that Dani got the oxtail and I got the brisket).

Laughing Water Farm barnThe final cost was $661.25 for each quarter of the cow.  While that price tag is a bit more than some suppliers I've found, Laughing Water Farm clearly produces pastured cows that are head and shoulders above the competition, so I consider the price very fair.  In addition, although I didn't do the math this time around, I'm guessing that even this "high" price per quarter comes out to be cheaper than buying the same quantity of much-lower-grade, grain-fed meat a pound or two at a time at grocery-store prices.

Antoinette brings her wares to the Abingdon Farmer's Market every week, and serious WWOOFers are welcome to come learn at her farm.  Or you can buy the other half of my cow, which I believe is still available, and enjoy an excellent and educational farm tour in the process.  Stay tuned for a later post with a taste test of our freezer full of beef!

*Yes, that does mean (that if you use the transitive property) I technically plan to eat my words....

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Tailgate problems
ratchet strap tail gate

Why am I ratchet strapping our tailgate shut?

Because the dang thing kept popping open and spilling precious manure.

I guess I'm lucky it didn't happen on the main road.

Lucid Dream; Foggy Reality

I wrote a graphic, very personal poem that mentions a repeating nightmare I have been having.  Is it a lucid dream that means a dream I was awake or was I awake in that terrible reality?  What is to say that this world where I write in my blog is real?  Maybe my sleep experiences are more true than the hours I think I am awake.  I strongly believe that and am not just being philosophical.

In the nightmare

My legs spread wide on the floor

My fleshy butt touches the wood

No pants, nothing 

I should have closed the gate of my vagina

but it's wide

In horror I watch as scurrying streams of cockroaches

Enter my body

Later I dream I am watching pornography

I wake confused

Am I awake?

Am I watching the porn?

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
How to replace a zareason laptop keyboard
New laptop keyboard

Joy and rapture!  My laptop has returned!

Huckleberry helps

After my aborted attempt to replace my laptop keyboard last weekend, I did more research online, which turns out to have been a bad idea.  Somehow I got the idea that (since my laptop doesn't have a piece of trim between the top of the keyboard and the screen like most others do) I was going to have to take off the whole piece of trim that runs all the way around the keyboard.  I took a bunch of screws out of the back and got that plastic partway pried up, but I felt like I was going to break something if I tried to lift it further.  Huckleberry was no help, so I gave up.

Lifting out a laptop keyboard

Next, I begged my sweet brother to come put me out of my misery.  "You do realize the keyboard lifts up out of the trim, right?" he asked.  "This is going to be simple."

We took out the battery, unplugged the power cord, and, a few minutes later, we'd pried the keyboard away from the clips that line the top edge.  It turns out Joey was right --- the keyboard lifted right up with nothing else holding it in place.

Plugging in a laptop keyboard

Joey gently detached the old keyboard ribbon, attached the new one, and briefly powered up to the computer to make sure everything was working as planned.  Then we shut the laptop down and pushed the keyboard into place.

Success!  Hopefully this keyboard will last me at least another million words, and now I have the old keyboard to pirate key by key if necessary.  Thanks for your help, Joey (and Tony at zareason)!

A Different Success

Towards the end of college I had lost the kind of career directed momentum that propelled me through much of my earlier years.  When it came to planning my future, I said I would apply to things after graduation.  

Now for two years I have for the most part been unemployed.  For the past month I believed I likely had a job in North Carolina that to me sounded posititve.

When I got home from the interview, I was pretty aware that they did not want me, but I put my chin up and stayed hopeful until they emailed me they would not be hiring me.

Now I am feeling like my success is never going to be anything like the lives my peers from college lead.  

I feel really bummed.  I want to excell at something.  I am in the throws of coming to terms with the fact I never will reach the goals I thought I could.  I wish I had a better way of looking at the life I have.

My vision of myself is really grim right now.  What I would give for a better day.  I hope to swim a mile Monday.  It is all I can think of to be good at, or to FEEL GOOD AT, which is more of the kind of activity I am seeking.  

If I can keep my heart from totally sinking, until then...

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Cargo net update
bungee net update

I was hauling another load of horse manure yesterday when I realized I'd forgotten the ratchet strap to secure the top tier buckets.

The cargo net I got last year worked as a good replacement. Having multiple hooks at different spots allowed for several tension choices to get the right hold.


In college i had a friend named Happy who ate salad for breakfast

Today i eat the fresh veggies thinking of that smile.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Vegetable growth in first-year chinampas
Weedeat chinampas

Having Mark available to weedeat the aisles seems to be an essential part of our chinampa experiment.  Since I mounded up weed-filled dirt without a kill mulch (although I did put down some newspaper/feed bags/cardboard and straw around the plants a month or so ago), it takes a few passes with the whacker to get the beds in line.

Chinampas from above

So far, I've been quite happy with this little chinampa experiment, except for the lowest bed, where I planted butternuts.  As you can see in the photo above, the butternut leaves are pretty yellow, which is never a good sign in the vegetable garden.  I suspected lack of nitrogen and topdressed with manure, but Mark suggested an even more likely possibility.  The stump you can see near the butternut bed was a black walnut, and even though the tree has been dead for a few years, juglone might still be present in the soil in that area.

Hazel, butternut, and tomatoes

Luckily, I know better than to put all of my eggs in one basket when experimenting.  The butternuts, peppers, sweet potatoes, and watermelons grown in our chinampa beds are only a subset of the year's planting of each type of vegetable.  In other words, if my manure trick doesn't bring the butternut vines back to vibrancy, I've always got the happy twiners in the forest garden to fall back on.

Joey chatter

Look on the bright side: You're no longer in LAX.

(Also, the XKCD archive bot appears to be stalking you.)

Joey chatter
perfectly simple burgers

No condiments needed, except for juice of excellent tomato, and the liquid that collects in flame roasted mushrooms.

Kind of burger you need a shower after.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 195-196 catching up

Spent past 2 days catching up on backlog and doing bug triage and some minor bug fixes and features. Backlog is 27, lowest in quite a while so I feel well on top of things.

I was saddened to find this bug where I almost managed to analize the ugy bug's race condition, but not quite (and then went on vacation). BTW, I have not heard from anyone else who was hit by that bug so far.

The linux autobuilders are still down; their host server had a disk crash in an electrical outage. Might be down for a while. I would not mind setting up a redundant autobuilder if anyone else would like to donate a linux VM with 4+ gb of ram.

Joey chatter
wall o wood

starting to feel almost like real work around here..

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Backup blackberries
Bowl of blackberries

For the second time since we moved to the farm, all of our cultivated blackberries died to the ground over the winter.  The bushes quickly sent up new stalks in the spring, but since most brambles fruit on last year's growth, that meant no blackberries for us this year.

Or maybe not.  I was thrilled to see that a wild blackberry plant Mark accidentally left in the gully last year is loaded with big, tart fruits.  Blackberries spring up in our area anywhere there's light and not too much disturbance (aka mowing), and I picked lots of these wild blackberries when I was a kid.  As an adult, I prefer to spend a bit more effort tending cultivated varieties since the plants are thornless, the fruits are bigger and sweeter, and they're handily located right outside my door.  But it sure is nice to have backup blackberries when our thornless plants fail!

Green baby frog

We don't use most of our 58-acre farm for anything, but at times like this, I appreciate the way nature fills in the gaps.  And, speaking of nature, dozens of these tiny green frogs hopped out of our sky pond this week.  Even though they're green, I'm 99% sure these are baby gray tree frogs, who will resemble their name better in a few weeks.  Go find a tree, little frog!

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Cabbage and summer squash with wine
Cabbage and summer squash with wine

This is the time of year when summer squash and cabbages start to become overwhelming.  This simple recipe is a tasty way to feed your family lots of both, and it hits those sweet, salty, buttery buttons a bit like mac and cheese in a box (but in a much more nutritious package).

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter (more is tastier)
  • 2 medium summer squash or 4 small summer squash (we use yellow crookneck)
  • 1 small or half of a large cabbage
  • 0.5 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine
Chopped cabbage

Melt the butter in a large skillet, then chop the squash and cabbage and add them to the butter along with the salt.  Saute, stirring often, on medium-high heat for about 22 minutes, until the vegetables are soft or they begin sticking to the pan (whichever comes first).  Add the wine and turn the heat down to medium, then cook for another three or four minutes.  Serves three vegetable lovers as a side.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 193-194 ugly bug

Important A bug caused the assistant to sometimes remove all files from the git repository. You should check if your repository is ok. If the bug hit you, it should be possible to revert the bad commit and recover your files with no data loss. See the bug report for details.

This affected git-annex versions since 5.20140613, and only when using the assistant in direct mode. It should be fixed in today's release, 5.20140709.

I'm available to help anyone hit by this unfortunate bug.

This is another bug in the direct mode merge code. I'm not happy about it. It's particularly annoying that I can't fix up after it automatically (because there's no way to know if any given commit in the git history that deletes all the files is the result of this bug, or a legitimate deletion of all files).

The only good thing is that the design of git-annex is pretty robust, and in this case, despite stupidly committing the deletion of all the files in the repository, git-annex did take care to preserve all their contents and so the problem should be able to be resolved without data loss.

Unfortunately, the main autobuilder is down and I've had to spin up autobuilders on a different machine (thank goodness that's very automated now!), and so I have not been able to build the fixed git-annex for android yet. I hope to get that done later this evening.

Yesterday, I fixed a few (much less bad) bugs, and did some thinking about plans for this month. The roadmap suggests working on some of chunks, deltas or gpgkeys. I don't know how to do deltas yet really. Chunks is pretty easily done. The gpg keys stuff is pretty open ended and needs some more work to define some use cases. But, after today, I am more inclined to want to spend time on better testing and other means of avoiding this kind of situation.

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Ethanol problems
using the right fuel in a weed trimmer

I used some fuel in the weed eater that had ethanol for the first time this year.

The fuel I used was fresh, and I chose the higher octane, but I think I'll go back to hunting down the ethanol free fuel in the future.

It might not be connected, but it now takes a harder pull on the rope to get it started and it does not always start on the first try like it did last year and the year before.

Losing Interest in Life

Losing interest in activities we once enjoyed is a symptom of depression that I have noticed too much in myself lately.  My approach to regaining wonder is multitiered and in depth because I want to care again.  I want to be interested in other people and the details of things without any kind of hidden motive.  I love listening to the radio show host, Diane Rehm.  Driving back from the store today I realized why her show catches my attention which is simply that she really cares about finding the answers to the great questions that she asks.  I once went to hear her talk and looking back that was the approach she says serves her so well, she asks genuine questions not to fill the time but because she clearly is interested.  Whatever I do whether it is moving to a farm or starting a graduate program or continuing with more hours at my online job, I want to improve my interest in things.

I can go about that in a number of ways and I do feel it is necessary to do each of them.  Some are subtractive and others are things I want to add to my experience.  The first thing is I want to eliminate watching TV and movies from my life.  This is a proven depressant and it makes it hard for me to focus or retain interest in anything for long.  Next I want to read more.  There are a lot of kinds of reading and I am not limitting myself to one particular kind.  I think electronic reading is just as fine as hitting the books, but I must read.  I want to swim my full 31 laps every day even glum weather.  I also would like to keep a list of the most interesting topic I hear each day.  I want to ask questions that make intelligent people grow in brain size, to dig deeper into the subjects I consider with an insatiable appetite for knowing, thinking, and understanding things.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Looking for more trailersteaders

TrailersteadingI'm excited to announce that I'll have two new paperbacks in bookstores in 2015!  With The Naturally Bug-Free Garden spiffed up and turned in (due out this coming spring), I tentatively approached my publisher about the idea of printing Trailersteading as well.  I've been wanting to expand and update this best-selling ebook, but I didn't have high hopes that a mainstream publisher would be interested in a book teaching our permaculture redneck ethics.  However, I was pleasantly surprised --- Skyhorse once again was willing to leave me the ebook rights and publish a full-color paperback edition that will be hitting bookstores in fall 2015, despite the book being about living in a trailer.

What does this mean for you?  I'm looking for more trailersteading tips from the field, so if you homestead in a trailer on any level, now's your chance to see your name in print.  I'm especially interested in contributions in the following areas:

Trailer interior
  • Interior design.  I have a tendency to ignore anything that's purely pretty rather than functional, but several readers clearly wanted to learn more about making an old trailer into an aesthetically pleasing living space.  If you've rehabbed your trailer on the cheap and have photos to showcase your artistry, please drop me an email.
  • Trailer awningRehab suggestions.  On a similar vein, I'm always looking for trailer-related rehab tips that can be turned into a sidebar.  For example, Harry recently emailed me photos and construction information for his homemade window awnings, which he uses to keep out the worst of the summer sun.  Perhaps you have a similar simple but functional trailersteading tip?
  • Inspirational stories.  The heart of Trailersteading is the idea that living in an old mobile home can be a stepping stone allowing you to achieve your goals.  If you have a similar story to share, I definitely want to hear about it.
  • Around the trailerstead.  I plan to add a new chapter about how a trailer fits into the larger homestead.  I've already got sections planned on adding gutters and rain barrels and piping greywater to a wetland for treatment.  Do you have something to add in a similar vein?

I'm not going to buckle down and really start working on the updated version until this fall, but please do send your submissions now while they're on top of your mind!  (I'll try to remember to make another post when the deadline is closer.)  To sweeten the pot, if I decide to use your submission in the paperback version of Trailersteading, I'll send you a paperback of your choice (The Weekend Homesteader, Watermelon Summer, Shiftless, or my color version of the first edition of Naturally Bug-Free) and a Walden Effect t-shirt (size L or 2XL).  Please email with high-resolution photos (anything except pictures from a camera phone will probably work) and a written explanation of your innovation.  Emails will bounce if they're larger than about 5 MB, so be sure to send one picture per email.  Thanks in advance for your contribution!


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