It’s raining again. What a blessing!   More rain is expected, 5 out of the next 10 days. This may turn out being another “Miracle March.”

Yesterday, we made a great trade with a fellow homesteader in the South Bay area. 12 bars of homemade soap (and complimentary hand balm) for 10 lbs of blood oranges.

Thanks, Shannon, and once again congrats on the  new arrival due any minute now.

The guys have been hard at work getting the backyard in order. Our new landscape plans may have to wait while we get production back on schedule. There are many exciting possibilities floating around.

We watched a few more episodes of theGood Neighbors last night. If you aren’t familiar with this British comedy, it’s about a couple who leave the rat race who try to live a self-sufficient life in suburbs.

A great quote from the character Tom– he said something like: “self-sufficiency is a revolution that doesn’t hurt anybody.” Our homestead, is our protest sign, it’s our march against the powers that be. Those striving to reduce their foot print and live a more sustainable lives are living protestors.


We have the luxury of choice to be “green” and folks are beginning to see the “green” in green, bombarding us with all sorts of green products, advocating us to be green consumers… Yes, we are still consuming even though it’s on a more sustainable level.

I WILL SURVIVE (Grist Magazine)

Simplifying, for the wealthy, has become a task, a burden, an end in itself. (When I say “the wealthy,” I mean nearly every citizen of every wealthy nation.) For so many people in wealthy worlds, simplifying has also become an industry which, ironically, turns out an array of alluring products: toxin-free paint so wholesome it’s known as “milk”; clothing woven from hemp fibers; even the fat, glossy magazine Real Simple.

But conscious simplicity is not what it appears to be. After all, Thoreau’s idyll at Walden Pond was made possible by the fact that someone else did his laundry. Which is to say: for most people, living simply is a luxury, and one that still ends up consuming a great deal — whether new categories of goods, other people’s labor, or both.

…I am aware that the array of choices before me is itself a form of excess, of extravagance. continue reading this article>>

Are these “green” products meant to uphold our “high” standard of living?   A huge house powered by solar, filled with plenty gadgets and gizmos. What I had always wondered:

What if what we hoped for happened and the whole world changed to green? Then all those green companies, authors, writers, teachers, etc., could be out of a job. Just like doctors who are dependant on the sick (would medical establishments be truly happy if there were no more sick people in the world?). They make a living out of people’s ignorance, or lack of necessary skills, which prompts me to tell the following story.


Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach. ~ H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) ~

Like to share with you a conversation that Jordanne had with a young women, Amber, who stopped at our booth atSol Fest last summer. This woman experienced something that we, too, have had to deal with.   We sense there is a certain bias and an unnecessary obsession with workshops and certification courses. The young woman whom Jordanne spoke with said she, her new husband (with help from her family) built their own beautiful strawbale house (sans contractors, classes and workshops!).

She said they basically bought a good book and followed instructions – simple as that. A true, DIY, modern pioneer.

The young woman went on to relate that atSol Fest she stopped at a alternative building material booth (run by a pretty well known organization). She told them her DIY story and showed photos of her strawbale house. The people at the booth were in complete shock and incredulously asked, “And you didn’t take any workshops or pass any courses?”

Why, I wonder, is it that way with such people? What happened to the good old fashioned way of learning on your own? Do you really have to be certified? This society has put too much emphasis on “proper education” – schooling, courses, degrees, fancy paper certificates.   Perhaps they are afraid that if everyone DIY then they’d be out of a job. I wonder how many people who make their sole living on teaching, lecturing or consulting the unlearned in sustainable practices would have to find something else to do when there is no one left to teach?   What happens when everyone has taken all the courses out there and are now in “the know” — then what?

What is this ridiculous obsession that one needs to be “degreed” or “certified” to “know” permaculture. To quote a recent email from a friend who writes:”…i.e., permaculture “certification” issue. It’s making it “professional” and prone to “experts,” rather than encouraging and facilitating the wisdom that naturally arises from direct contact with the land and sharing between people.”

“Someone asked the question on a perma-c forum ‘they wanted to know where they could do a good perma-c course, because the resulting diploma/degree/certificate(!!!???) would fit nicely with their “master gardener certificate” whatever that is or means?’. Someone else responded by saying “there was a course at someplace in the US, and that the conveners allowed for heaps of reading time!!!” Sounds like the learning might have come from the books hey? And they further said “if nothing else the $1000+USD they paid provided at the least a cheap holiday”!!!!! My response was that all they need to know is already in print. The whole PDC thing sounds awfully ego driven to me!

The change will come from the grass roots level of our society from the little man. It won’t come from the corporate end of town they are driven solely by money and profit, and it won’t come from diplomas or degrees, it will come from those who roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty so to speak. It won’t come from the yuppies that want to sit back talk big and sell permaculture. And it will happen when we who are trying to change start talking about what we are doing, start swapping ideas, just have a look around the internet there isn’t much of that going on. ” (Courtesy of ‘ Permaculture Essay )

Weird thing is that once some folks see the homestead or our display we end up inspiring them, not to DIY, but to go and take an expensive certified permaculture course!!! How is that?

Our ancestors hundreds of years ago didn’t have a bona fide paper of certification. Did that make them stupid, less of a person? Don’t think so! The related scenario definitely shows how far we, as a society, have digressed. People have become so disconnected from their roots that they have “to go to school” and pay folks/teachers to learn what was once a way of life and second nature only 100 years ago.   We have to go to paid workshops and classes on all sorts of subjects that were unheard of only a few decades back.

Another such discussion was with Deborah of the Sheep Farm inSol Fest who told us about the background of the two Navajo women/elders who were at the festival from Big Mountain reservation in Arizona. Found out that not only were they highly talented, skilled craftswomen (Navajo Weavers), they were also Medicine Women. Deborah explained that in the Navajo society, you don’t just wake up one day and say “I’d like to be a medicine women” and go learn this skill. Instead, it’s a whole life’s journey and life changing profession (or should I say “calling”) – much the opposite to our Western society. 

She related that they have to be called by the Great Spirit and go through many tests before they are able to call themselves a medicine person.

Our family has been often asked what degree or course or book we’ve read on permaculture and to the person’s shock our answer is “none.” They look at us, wondering, then how did we learn all this?   Unfortunately (or fortunately), we have no accreditations or diplomas.   Only in this modern age can a person make money teaching skills we have lost or have the luxury to take such classes. We need to regain our pioneer/free spirit and be true to our calling.

Upon returning from last summer’s Sol Fest we received an email from Amber. She writes:

Hi, this is Amber the homestead soap makers daughter. I just wanted todrop a line and say how great it was to meet you guys at Sol Fest. I justchecked out your website — very impressive! In fact, the whole of yourpath is extraordinary and very inspirational. One particularly amazingthing is your motivation to very actively get the word out about what youare doing when your not getting paid for doing so. I was told in a classI took that there are a few basic types of passionate people that work tochange the world; those that live by example, the educators, theactivists… honestly I can’t really remember exactly, but I believe thatyou are all of the above!

I hope this has inspired you to go about taking it upon yourself to learn. If Amber and her husband can build a strawbale house themselves (with the help of friends and family) then anything is possible for you on the DIY path to a better world through a homegrown revolution.

Web wanderings

These 12 popular fresh fruits and vegetables are consistently the most contaminated with pesticides — buy these organic.• Apples• Bell Peppers• Celery• Cherries• Grapes (imported)• Nectarines• Peaches• Pears• Potatoes• Red Raspberries• Spinach• Strawberries
Download a handy wallet guide to pesticides in produce
News clips
Home-schooling grows quickly in United States
Sheesh,seems like only yesterday when I (and my siblings) was growing up that homeschooling was illegal. My siblings and I remember being frightened children when people asked why wasn’t I/we weren’t in school.   We had to skirt around the issue, because if someone reported us, it would have meant jail time for our parents.   Now that homeschooling is so widespread, I still hesitate when asked what school/college I attended.
Early in life, after college, Jules taught at a high school in New Orleans. There he got a rude awakening at the conditions of the school system. Later he then read one of John Taylor Gatto’s books which cemented his view of modern education and its many flaws.
The aim of public education is not
to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States… and that is its aim everywhere else. ~ H. L. Mencken ~
(another great quote from Mencken)
Around the blogshere
Miles from Babylon (Feburary 12)
House upon the Sand
It is the Babylonian implant kicking in. Babylon wants you to be utterly dependent on it. Any notion or idea that the umbilical is threatened causes a panic and a response. And yet there is some basis in reality for this response. As I have pointed out, the escape from Babylon is not absolutist. But it’s a matter of stability and endurance and the putting side of urgency. Babylonians’ lives are subject to the next storm, be it an actual storm, an economic storm, or personal storm. Any ill wind can knock them to the ground and knowing this on some level makes them panicky at the approach of a storm.
Sustainable Girl (February 27)
A policy of national self-sufficiency and nonreliance on imports or economic aid.A self-sufficient region or country.

BTW: Thanks to Sustainable Girl for her expression of love for PTF, very sweet. We love you too, Sustainable Girl, and your inspiring posts detailing your journey.

Ranprieur (March 2)

In a fast society slow emotions become extinct. A thinking mind cannot feel.
When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing. There comes a time when there are almost no gaps. People become incapable of experiencing / tolerating gaps. Emotion ends. Man becomes machine.

The article goes onto say that the environment can’t be truly saved by recycling.

Trying to save the environment by recycling is like shooting someone 10,000 times and then trying to save him by taking out one bullet.

I think I may have referred this article sometime ago in one of my posts, I even believe the guy who wrote the article posted it on the PTF message board a few months ago.  

No Comments

  1. gerry medland says:

    Hi Anais,
    I once was told by a superior,’don’t tell me what you are going to do,come back and tell me what youv’e done’getting ‘dirty’is the best hands on learning curve,realisation that you dont get things right first time is a powerful lesson in cultivating patience.I turned the radio off last weekend at dusk and listened to the birdsong from my garden,NO amount of money could equal the sense of peace I felt.

  2. Shannon says:

    Great Threadthismorning Anais!

    thanks for the reminder that we are all capable of for educating ourselves. As long as you can read you can do anything and for many of those things you don’t even really need that much. Self education is so prevelant in my own life it is no wonder I chose to school my children at home. Even though I am straight off the my dad’s farm in wisconson, I did not inherit any of his homesteading knowledge. instead, i have had to go back and teach myself how to can and sew, even garden. I taught myself soap making and have created a great business from it.

    between our public education system and our super specialized work force where each person only knows how to do one thing, we have been made to believe unless we have a formal degree we aren’t capable of performing the skills with confidence.

    time to break free of this cycle and just do it for goodness sake. trial and error is a far more effective teacher than passive regurgetation of facts.

    glad you guys are enjoying the soap! we had yummy blood orange and avocado salad last night thanks!

  3. claire says:

    in defence of Permaculture and other courses;
    I attended a free introduction to permaculture run by Anita Aggarwal in Edinburgh, and she made me realise that permaculture is not all about a way of gardening but a ‘way of life’, I never got that from a book.
    I have attended three permaculture weekends towards the Permaculture Design certificate and I will complete the further two I need to recieve it later in the year;
    this particular course is taught by an enthusistic and very knowlegable Ed Taylor, he ‘infected’ all on the course with his enthusiasm and gave of his vast and varied knowlege even for things not on the course schedule, if you asked him anything he helped.
    the course pointed things out to me I wouldn’t have picked up from books.
    it introduced me to friendly like minded people I would not have met otherwise.
    it took me out of the insular place I live in and gave me some fresh air in a beautiful setting.
    so all that cant be bad, can it?

  4. Anais says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree, “hands on” is the best form of learning. Cultivating patience is the hardest thing, I believe, especially in this modern world of instant, fast and on demand.

    Patience requires a form of discipline that is slowing erroding from our society. Too many folks are quick to anger and manners (what’s that?)

    I am glad that you found an inner piece – that’s truly priceless.


  5. Anais says:

    Thank you Shannon,

    I knew this was a delicate subject to bring up, but had to get it “off the chest” our feelings that and the bias that we have encountered over not having a “piece of paper.”

    Thank you for sharing and showing that it’s possible to learn with out formal education. Of course, this path is not for all – but folks like yourself (and daughter) are proof that modern education is not what it’s cracked up to be.

    It’s a shame that something like ‘Permaculture’ is turning into a profession/specialist field and in recent years there is an over commercialization of the certification courses.

    Glad you are enjoying the oranges. The soap is wonderful! Thank you again for a great trade.


  6. Anais says:


    Thank you for your comments and insights.
    Very much appreciated. Indeed, such classes are great places to open your mind.

    I knew the post would bring up a bit of controversy, but I just wanted to relate our and others experience which, unfortunately, are oftentime biased (against our not having being “certified”)

    We refuse this trend (and pressure) of certification and it’s sad to see that permaculture is becoming a specialized profession.

    Very often, PTF, is passed over to speak or participate in local permaculture/sustainable events because we aren’t “certified.”

    This bias is frustrating and I guess I had to get this off my chest.

    Workshops are valuable and great learning experiences, but it’s the emphasis on getting a degree, certified that is, unfortunately, seperating people into “classes” (certified vs not certified) when, in fact, permaculture should be uniting people, not dividing.