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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tree Crops

I was talking to a friend the other day, and we got on the subject of tree crops. It always seems that trees are the easier crop than annuals. The do not require planting every year, they predominately take care of themselves, once established weeds are not much of an issue, and the yields are often times better.

It would not be difficult for people to use tree crops either. While we typically think of a crop as something that is harvested and stored, it does not have to be that way. There are many people who have a chicken coop where they feed corn or pellets to their chickens. If a mulberry tree was planted in the chicken yard, it would recieve fertilizer from the chicken manure, and would provide huge amounts of food for the chickens with little cost or care. No needing to harvest, no needing to store, and the benefits of the crop would be self evident.

Most of my ideas come from an old book called "Tree Crops" by J. Russell Smith. While it is out of print, it is fortunately available online for free. Click this link to check it out, and download it if you want to.

Tree crops gives a new perspective to thinking about how crops work and what is necessary to have a piece of productive land. While it may take many generations before the general public accepts some of the crops as food (acorn flour for instance), the use of the tree crops with animals could start immediately. This is a perennial agriculture, that would make use of land while helping to prevent eroding soil. It is at least something that should be thought about and discussed.

Thanks for reading.
Live a hands on life

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Please bear with us

As we move to the new and in many ways improved website, please be patient with us as we add books, add blog articles, and generally learn how to do everything in the best way possible. If there is something that you would like to see more of, let us know. If there is something you do not like, let us know. We will be adding books on a variety of subjects, and sometimes it just takes a while to sort through. We ask for your thoughts, prayers, and patience as we continue to grow.

Thanks for checking us out, and let us know what you think.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Small revolutions

We commit thousands of revolutionary actions every day. Every time we make a choice we choose to create the world that we live in. Everytime we use big business we empower big business. Everytime we decide to buy local or go to the farmers market we encourage more of those actions. It seems that many times we limit ourselves, we believe that we are truly insignificant, and in doing so, give ourselves a free pass. We must realize that we must shape the world.

Another important thing to realize is that we must change ourselves first. Every time we do something for ourselves rather than buying the solution, we make the world a little more self sufficient. Everytime we learn to do something we make the world a little more knowledgable. Everytime we live the life that we believe is best, we bring the world closer to our ideals.

We can change the world right where we are. Not that we don't need demonstrations, protests, and new ideas for the world. But we must realize that we can change the world by being an example to others. We can replace the frontyard with a beautiful food garden. We can learn to make our own bread, to create our own butter, and even to have our own milk animals.

We live in an age of nearly limitless information. We can find examples of people living alternatives to the rat race everyday. We can learn from thousands of books at places like Our public libraries are full of information on how to live more sane lives. We can create a better world simply by living by our beliefs.


Monday, October 10, 2011

The many names of simplicity

Everywhere you go, whether you want to or not, you can hear the call. Simplify!

Deep down we know that this rat race was not designed with our happiness in mind, it was designed to keep us running. We know that we cannot keep up with the Joneses, we cannot continue on this path we have been on. We know that something must change.

There are dozens of movements that emphasize simplicity, and I plan on taking a look at many of them. The first I want to look at is distributism. The reason behind this is that distributism is what got me interested in simplicity in the first place.

Essentially distributism is an economic system based upon Catholic social teaching. The Catholic church says that there is a certain way that humanity is supposed to act toward each other as a society. Now before someone says "but I am not Catholic", I would say, it doesn't matter. Read some Catholic social teaching or distributist works, and see if what they say makes sense. See if you can find the parallels to your own life, and see if you agree with the system or not.

Essentially distributism is the idea that under an ideal system, as many people would be self employed as possible, unless they chose to work for/with others. If your employer has skills or leadership that you do not possess you might choose to work for them. If you need a group of people in order to purchase the necessary property to produce a product, you would band together and form a cooperative.

Distributism sees agriculture, manufacturing, and mining as the only real sources of wealth. It is in these areas where something is taken, labor infuses more value into it, and then it can be sold/traded at enhanced value. I would say that some service industries fall into this category as well, as they can use their expertise and labor to add value that otherwise would not be there.

Distributism emphasizes the small and the local. It emphasizes that a good product is one that can be changed according to the local demands and environment, while a bad one is universal everywhere. One of the early distributist made this point with an essay on cheese vs. soap. Cheese has a thousand unique forms, and everywhere is slightly different, while the soap in all of the places he visited was exactly the same, even the same brand.

There are five books that I would recommend to those looking at distributism.

The first is What is wrong with the World by G.k. Chesterton. In this book Chesterton investigates Hudge and Gudge, personifications of big government and big business. He looks at the issues that face him in turn of the century Britain and I think you will find that we have not resolved these issues.

The next book is A Utopia of Usurers again by Chesterton. In this book Chesterton looks at various ways in which the world conspires to keep the system afloat, and how real people fight against it.

The last book by Chesterton is The Outline of Sanity a book written to give a hopeful look at the way out of the mess that was facing Britain and is facing it and other countries still. This book gives a blueprint to setting up an alternative economic system.

Unfortunately the next two are not available free on the web. They are both by Chesterton's contemporary and friend Hilaire Belloc.

The First is The Servile State in which Belloc describes how the concentration of productive property in the hands of a few people eventually creates a nation of servants.

The next is An Essay on the Restoration of Property. This is Bellocs view of how productive property could be restored to a large amount of people and the servile state could be avoided.

Distributism is a system that realizes that people are not perfect, and promises no utopia. What it seeks to deliver is a system in which one persons greed can be moderated by the constraints of the economic system, rather than enabled by it. Distributism is one of the few systems that claims there will never be a Utopia, and that the system itself must constantly evolve as it faces new challenges. Most notably, it is a system that emphasizes people, not collectively, but individually. It does not say that parties or governments or markets will show the way to live, but individuals, neighbors, and friends will.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rebuilding before the fall

Reading up on the Occupy Wall Street movement and I am struck by one thing. While I belive the system is broken in many ways, if you tear it down and don't have anything to replace it with, what is going to happen? The same people who were influential will continue to be influential.

We must build something altogether different. We want more jobs, we must look at creating our own. We must look at buying from eachother, selling to eachother, and helping eachother learn. Sometimes we must take a hard look at ourselves, we created this system, perhaps not directly, but our nature did it. I sometimes find myself envious of the 1% wishing that I could have what they have. This is what has fed it, wanting more rather than wanting enough.

What is enough? What is a living wage? What has created the broken system? These are questions that the occupy wall stree protesters seek to answer, but mostly, seek to ask. They want us all to think about what has created a system in which our power as a people has been co-opted by those in power.

We are powerful, but protesting must end at some point. At some point the revolution turns and the work must begin. We must build an alternative. We must find a way to create a new system, to help address the issues of the old. We must find a way to balance the system so that those in need are helped, but no one takes advantage. We must find a way to balance the system so that people are rewarded for their work, but power and wealth do not concentrate in the hands of a few.

We must understand that no system will be perfect. However good we want to be, we are flawed. We will always have greed, and laziness. We will always have selfishness. We must find ways to balance this in ourselves, and within the system. Let us begin work on the rebuilding, and let us begin it today.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

A silent revolution

2011 was the year of the spring revolutions in North Africa and the Mediterranean world. But look around, there are revolutions everywhere. The entire organic movement was a revolution against the principles that the best way to grow things was to dominate nature. There is the occupy wall street movement, that those who are con artist should receive their punishment, whether they live in tenements or penthouses. There are revolutions everywhere, and the revolutions will continue. It is in their name, the turning, whether we turn the wheel forward or back, it is up to us to turn it.

Someone once told G.K. Chesterton that he couldn't turn back the clock. They were referring to his belief that the ideal economic system was that as many people as possible should be self employed. Chesterton responded that the clock, being a human invention, can be turned to any time that people see fit.

Look at history, look at your own ideals, decide what the ideal way to live is and start doing it. My website was started basically to put my money where my mouth is. To start living like I said people should live. To help others on their road to that life. I am not out to conquer, I am simply a person trying to live the best I know how.

I am ruled by certain constraints, as many of us are. I owe money for my schooling, I am in debt for my house. Nonetheless, I try to live life to the best of my ability, and to pay off my debts so that I may truly be free. Let us live as though we are free, and one day we will be.


Here you will find some books on how others percieved their revolution


And here you will find the distributist manifesto, namely that things shall be judged by the good or ill that they bring to humanity
From the last chapter of "What is Wrong with the World" by G.k. Chesterton

Here my book ends