At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Logistics Committee

It's just about April, so that means that there is a periodic review of pick up and drop off locations. We'll be assessing which ones are most convenient and how few we can use, as well as assessing the costs of transportation, delivery area maps and other logistics. Sounds like fun? Maybe... but it is an interesting and important opportunity to be involved with the management of your farm. Our logistics committee will be meeting over the next few days by email, and if you want to be added to the discussion, just respond to this email. It's chaired by yours truly,

Aaron Brachfeld, President
Maia Cooperative / TwoInTents CSA
(720) 722 FARM v

Buffalo Hunt - Permitted by right?

Buffalo hunting on "A" Zoned land - a use permitted by right

(c) 2012 Meadowlark Herald -  Reprinted with permission.


Lost, or exploring?

I saw a crow flying far off course, all by itself.  Sometimes, like people do, animals go exploring on purpose, discovering new resources and opportunities.  Other times, like people, they just get plain lost.  This crow seemed lost, because it was making distressed sounds.  When animals find new locations to establish their species, and do so in pairs or small populations, entire new species can develop to take advantage of the opportunities and resources of those new locations.

The missing poor

In 2009, 4% of Elbert County residents had income below the poverty level, compared to a State-wide average of 9.3%.  This is not due to the ease at which the poor achieve a higher income in Elbert County, but because they have been marginalized by their neighbors through unjust land use regulation.

The poor are important to the economy and this reflects a potential 50% loss of low-income workers needed to supply labor deficits of agriculture, industry and commerce: Elbert County may have a deficit of more than 1,250 workers and their families, resulting in billions of dollars of lost productivity.

There are not currently this many jobs available in Elbert County.  Because there is no room for the poor, employers have adapted their businesses to make do.  For example, in the agricultural industries, which find a high return to labor, employers shifted to low-labor crop and animal production.

Yet even if the poor could afford the rent, they would have a hard time finding a place to rent Approximately 9.38% of housing is rentable in Elbert County, as opposed to the national average of 29.73%, reflecting a shortage of rental housing (Sperlings’s Best Places).  What alternatives do the poor who cannot rent have?  RV’s (including vans and boats) and mobile homes cost more than three times what they do across the State, more than some homes in Denver, reflecting the high cost of building in Elbert County.

AVERAGES:                         ELBERT COUNTY             STATE                   Higher?

HOME                                   $509,120                              $322,490                Yes, by 58%

RENTAL                               $805                                       $753                        Yes, by 7%

MOBILE HOME                  $175,877                              $53,488        Yes, by more than 3x!

RV, VAN, BOAT                   $199,786                              $69,208          Yes, by about 3x!

What we observe is a feedback cycle that results in less and less labor needed, less and less labor required, and fewer and fewer jobs every year.  Unless the poor can afford to drive into Elbert County, which because of the high costs of fuel, is becoming impossible.  The high costs of fuel impact the potential employers as well, who, being unable to earn more from their land due to labor shortages, must find outside employment for themselves, decreasing the total number of jobs.

As a result, the unemployment rate is climbing and the number of jobs in the County is recently declining, though never very vigorous.  If all the jobs in the County were held by County residents, only 12% of County residents could be employed.  The increased regulation under the Director of Community and Development Services Richard Miller, beginning in January 2007, is marked by increasing unemployment and decreased employment opportunities due to regulations approved and directed by the People he serves.

The simple way out of the feedback cycle is to increase the number of jobs in the County by allowing employers begin to hire agricultural, industrial and commercial workers.  This means reducing the costs of transportation for those workers, housing them near to where they must work, improving employer infrastructure and reducing the costs of living.


The secret fertilizer is...

Most farmers are careful to water the roots of their plants, understanding that the water is what allows nutrients to move from the soil into the rootlets.  However, few farmers have yet learned the lesson that water vapor is as important to leaves as liquid water is to roots. 

Raising the humidity allows plants to tolerate extraordinary heat and cold: in extraordinary heat and cold, it is not so much the temperature which kills the plant, but the dehydration. 

With high humidity, plants are able to better exchange carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for oxygen, and create sugar.  This helps the plant grow at an incredible rate. 


Cheap fuel, electricit?y, healthcare?, vet care, ice cream... while saving the earth and having fun!

Hello everyone!

This is your President, Aaron Brachfeld, writing to invite you to participate on several new committees forming. Each one is exciting, and has a lot of potential for decreasing everyone's costs of living, and developing new ways of working together as well. If you are interested in joining any of these committees, and shaping your co-op, let me know!

Committees meet by email or text, and no set meeting times are made; discussions are interesting and fun!

* Transportation Committee - Mission: with gas prices soaring, identify ways to reduce the cost of gasoline, auto insurance, and other costs of transportation for members.

* Renewable Electricity Committee - Mission: with energy costs rising, provide renewable electricity to all interested members at a cost less than that which they are currently paying. Solar panels can be leased to own, with a non-profit business model that would be self-funding and create jobs.

* Health and Home Committee - Mission: investigate opportunities to
a) reduce costs of health care to members
b) reduce costs of housing to members (cooperative housing, urban and/or agricultural)
c) ensure all members can obtain health care, health insurance, life insurance, etc. at affordable costs
d) reduce costs of veterinary care to members

* Western Recreation Committee - Mission: create a humane, self-sustaining cattle drive, rodeo, horse boarding and riding facility, and other western recreation opportunities

* Environmental Committee - Mission: investigate opportunities to improve the biosphere's biodiversity and biodensity, undertake forestation efforts, improve recycling opportunities, and develop environmentally sensitive recreation opportunities in Maia's 7 county area. These efforts would be self-funding, and create jobs.

* Ice Cream Committee - Mission: identify the means by which ice cream can be group-produced or group-purchased, and delivered, at a rate more affordable than other options. Chairwoman Mary Choate has just led the Pie Committee to success, and has every reason to believe that the new pies can be a la mode. This is an exciting moment for our small co-op!

We are all facing tremendous pressures to keep our homes against rising costs. Together, we can cooperate and succeed, not only survive the great recession and catastrophic inflation, but thrive! We have already reduced the costs of farm supply and food (did you know you can now eat with Maia for $20 per week per adult - with complete nutrition?)...

let's see what we can do about these other problems we face. Aaron Brachfeld, PresidentMaia Cooperative 720 722 FARM

Plant early, plant often

Soil temperature and air temperature are very important for your planting decision. Here are guidelines from the Alabama Cooperative Extension…

The general relationship between days until seedling emergence and percent germination is inverse. What this means is that considering the optimal temperature for planting seeds, you will want to tend to plant too early instead of too late: the seeds will germinate best when the temperature is ideal, and trusting them to the ground when you have few birds or other creatures who will dig up the seeds is intelligent. Planting extra as precaution against this predation is also advisable. 

We offer affordable seed packets, sometimes for as low as $0.20 each.  And they have more seeds than those you'd get at the store!


Meditative Om-lete

Cooking an egg is one of the easiest things to do, but one of the hardest things to do perfectly; it requires attention and practice, and is a meditative experience. To prepare an omelet is the best practice, and, even if done poorly, still produces a great meal.

In cuisine, an omelette or omelet is a dish made from beaten eggs quickly cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, sometimes folded around a filling such as cheese, vegetables, meat (often ham), or some combination of the above. To obtain a fluffy texture, whole eggs or sometimes egg whites only are beaten with a small amount of milk or cream, or even water, the idea being to have "bubbles" of water vapor trapped within the rapidly cooked egg. Some home cooks add baking powder to produce a fluffier omelette; however, this ingredient is sometimes viewed unfavorably by traditionalists. The bubbles are what make the omelette light and fluffy.
The omelette is commonly thought to have originated in the Ancient Near East. Beaten eggs were mixed with chopped herbs, fried until firm, then sliced into wedges. This dish is thought to have travelled to Western Europe via the Middle East and North Africa, with each country adapting the original recipe to produce Italian frittata, Spanish tortilla and the French omelette.
The fluffy omelette is a refined version of an ancient food. According to Alan Davidson,the French word omelette came into use during the mid-16th century, but the versions alumelle and alumete are employed by the Ménagier de Paris (II, 5) in 1393. Rabelais (Pantagruel, IV, 9) mentions an homelaicte d'oeufs, Olivier de Serres an amelette, François Pierre La Varenne's Le cuisinier françois (1651) has aumelette, and the modern omelette appears in Cuisine bourgoise (1784).

Let’s make an omelet!
Like all good meals, begin with clean hands and a clean kitchen.
Melt a tablespoon of butter or margarine in a non-stick pan. Add to that a teaspoon (1/3 oz) of milk per egg – if 6 eggs are used, add 2 oz of milk. Melt the butter into the milk and take off from the heat.
In a separate bowl, crack open your eggs. Until you’re very good at it, you want to do this in a separate bowl so that if v

Ashes for gardening

As winter is winding up, it is not too late to save ashes from your fire place for gardening.  Ashes have good nutrition for plants, and when mixed with animal manure or other high-nitrogen fertilizers, present an almost perfect fertilizer for your garden.  Sprinkle at the base of the roots of transplanted tomatoes, or dig ditches around your trees and bury them; turn them into the soil of your aisles and watch your plants grow!  The ashes provide excellent minerals that your plants need to live.


how to boil peanuts - for yankees

While roasted peanuts are popular in yankee lands, boiled peanuts are popular where fresh peanuts grow… but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them here. Fully mature peanuts do not make good quality boiled peanuts; rather raw or "green" ones are used. "Raw" denotes peanuts in a semi-mature state, having achieved full size, but not being fully dried, as would be needed for roasting or peanut butter use. After boiling they take on a strong salty taste and become softer with the length of cooking, somewhat resembling a pea or bean, to which they are related. The most flavorful peanuts for boiling are the Valencia type. These are preferred in the United States, being grown in gardens and small patches throughout the South. Green Virginia-type peanuts are also sometimes used.

Raw peanuts in the shell are put in a large pot of very heavily salted water and boiled. This can be done inside on the stove or outside on a propane burner for a larger volume. Depending on the locality, some cooks use rock salt or standard table salt, or both. The boil can go on from four to seven hours or more, depending on quantity and the age of the peanut (green peanuts cook faster and tend to be better tasting), and the boilings will most often be of several gallons of water. Flavorings such as ham hocks, hot sauce, Cajun seasonings or beer can be added to the boil. An alternative method for dried raw mature peanuts is to rehydrate them by soaking overnight in water, after which they can be cooked in the conventional manner.  But don’t limit yourself to domestic flavors: in China, peanuts are generally boiled with star anise and a little salt.

The resulting food is a very soft peanut in the shell, invariably quite salty. The softened peanuts are easy to open. Often small, immature peanuts (called "pops";) are included, which have even softer shells and can be eaten in entirety. These tend to absorb more salt than the larger ones. Some aficionados of the food prefer them cooked for a shorter period of time so that the nut is not quite so soft.

Uneaten peanuts should be stored in a refrigerator, as they can become slimy or moldy quite quickly without refrigeration. Boiled peanuts can be frozen, and later reheated in a microwave for out of season consumption.



Humility and relying on hens

Unless you have a professional egg hatching facilities, it is likely that chickens can hatch eggs better than you can.  The reason for this is that chickens work at it all the time, and never take a break.  They are always checking the temperature, keeping the humidity just right, and rotate the eggs more consistently than you can.

Humility is an important lesson for every farmer.  The farmer who understands they do not do as good a job as nature does will have greater and more consistent success than the farmer who blunders in their pride.  There are some things that we people do better than any other species, but these things are few.  Unless you can, every time, outperform natural processes at a rate that justifies the investment required, think twice about whether it isn’t better to let nature take its course.


Worst case scenario

With President Obama threatening to use all necessary means to keep Iran from using a nuclear weapon, including the use of our own nuclear weapons, it is important to consider that we might have nuclear weapons used on us one day, too. 

Richard Feynman said that his only regret at working on the development of the atomic bomb was that he continued working on it after Nazi Germany had been defeated.  There was no way, in his opinion, that Japan might have developed the technology.  This was an act of insanity.

Do we then blame those who fear us for arming themselves against us with weapons of terror?

We fear no nuclear attack from Britain or France, though they could destroy our nation several times over.  We do not fear them though they are so powerfully armed.  We fear nuclear attack from those whom we treat as enemies.

We fear nuclear attack too from those nations without cogent control over their armed forces, and fear insane terrorists.  There is no deterring insanity with force.  The deterrent of force is a form of insanity.  Terror is sought to inspire sanity and cogency, but cannot be relied upon.

This last month, Fidel Castro spoke out on his own fears that America might not withstand another terrorist attack, especially one against our nuclear reactors.  He is not widely understood to be sane, yet even the fears of this former dictator are not outrageous; we now hold powers we cannot wield.  And this causes everyone reason to fear, and arm themselves against us.

Please write to your Senator today, and urge an anti-nuclear policy.

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