Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kretsloppshuset - Sunne

The photo above shows the school for Self-sufficinet Homesteading in Sunne Sweden where I will be studying with 15 more students from February to October 2012. Eight months of intensive course in self-sufficient living. We will learn everything from cutting down timber, carpenting, composting, collecting mushrooms, nuts and wild fruits, gardening, animal keeping as well as butchering the animals, smoking meet, preparing jams and other pickles for the winter, making our own paint for the household, economy, I will try and learn much about beekeeping as well and we will have time to do some private project too and I intend to build a Walipini underground green house.

The schools name is Kretsloppshuset which can be translated as;

Kretslopp = Cycle, Rotation, Circulation, Orbit, Round
Huset = The House

which mans The House which Cycles or The Re-Cycling House (the Eco-friendly House, the house which follows the natural cycles :) )
This is the only school in Sweden (for now) teaching Self-sufficinet Homesteading.

I was really happy to see this toilet which sorts out piss from crap which can later be used to fertilize the garden soil :))) NOTE the basket beside the toilet seat; the toilet paper is not being flushed down but separated. Im not sure what they do with it but as soon as I figure it out I will make sure to update this post.

All together there will be 16 students and I met most of them during this weekend get together meeting which was mostly about us finding apartmets to live in but also to get some more info about what this study is all about and to get to know one another before the actual start. I am very happy with all the people I met. All seem to very positive and goodhearted people :)))

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Homestead Growing Your Own Food Urban Garden

For more info go to Path To Freedom

Chop Wood Carry Water

Work. What does the word mean to you? Is it something to be avoided? Is it a means to an end? Is it the only appropriate focus of your attention and energy? Is it a way to avoid the rest of your life? Is it a joy? Is it a part of  your spiritual practice?
There is a Zen saying, "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water." What’s the difference? The tasks are the same. The need is the same. What about the frame of mind? Who is chopping? Who is carrying water?

When you labor, stay awake. Notice the frame of mind you bring to your work. Do you approach your work as if it were a nuisance? Do you remove your consciousness from work so that you are filled with resentment or worry?  What would you need to do to be more fully present in your work?

Practice mindfulness in work. It does little good to attain clarity of mind on your meditation cushion if you lose it as soon as you become active. Start with simple activities like brushing your teeth, ironing clothes, or washing dishes. Be fully alert as you move. Notice the position of your body in space. Notice the feelings in your body as you move. Pay attention to the thoughts that enter your mind when you do the task. See if you can let them go and just focus on the work itself.

If you are cleaning a countertop, feel the sponge in your hand. Feel the wetness. Feel the texture. Observe how the sponge moves in your hand from the sink to the counter. Sense your movements as you scrub. What do your eyes see? What do you hear as you work? Clean that countertop as if it were the most important thing you could do. Move with fluid motions. Waste no energy. Allow yourself the grace of economy of motion. Be grateful for the countertop, the sponge, the water, the soap. Be grateful for the hand, the arm, the whole body that can move a sponge. Be thankful for the floor you stand on and the roof that protects you. Without letting your mind wander too far, be grateful for all the circumstances that put you where you are at that moment with that sponge and that water and that countertop.

We travel to the ocean or to mountains, rivers and canyons, in part to escape the mundane world of work, but also to experience the awe that arises more spontaneously in nature’s magnificence. We give ourselves an incredible gift when we can  experience some of the same awe in the mundane world of our daily lives. The weed that grows in the crack of a sidewalk is a phenomenon as miraculous as the redwood tree that towers into the sky. The raindrops that streak the window are no less an occasion for awe than the spray that dampens our face at the waterfall. The fingers that tap a keyboard are as worthy of praise as the feet of a ballet dancer.

When we open awareness to the tasks in our lives they become lighter. When we are able to be in the moment, we no longer feel compelled to watch the clock. Whatever your work might be, bring all of yourself to it. When you are fully present, you may find that your labor is no longer a burden. Wood is chopped. Water is carried. Life happens.

- by Tom Barret

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Walipini Underground Greenhouses

"One of the main principles involves embedding the greenhouse in the earth to take advantage of the earth's constant temperature, to store the solar energy collected during the day. Water barrels can also be used to store the thermal heat and carry it through the night or cloudy days (which are not as cold). Water is a much better thermal mass storage mechanism than soil.
The solar gain comes through a light-permeable material such as plastic, Visqueen, polycarbinate. The angle of the panels is designed to be 90-degrees to the Winter Soltace sun (Dec. 21 / June 21, depending on hemisphere). The the upper portion of the walls are insulated down past the frost line.
The word "Walipini" comes from the Aymara Indian language and means "place of warmth". They've been able to grow banannas at 14,000 feet elevation in the Andes."

Click HERE for more on Walipini Underground Greenhouse
The Walipini  PDF file

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Urban-Rural Migration

The movement or migration of people from urban to rural areas causes a disequilibrium in the population dynamic. With a greater percentage of labor force moving away from urban metropolises to rural areas following a desire for a better life, there is great pressure on the infrastructure of the urban economy. People have many reasons for choosing to migrate from cities or towns to farmlands or rural areas and at times give up successful careers and busy lifestyles to do so.
  1. Hectic Urban Life

    • Sometimes people choose to relocate from urban places to rural landscapes to escape hectic and stressful lifestyles. This is a calculated move on the part of couples or families who wish to bring up their children on large farm tracts or large houses close to nature where environment is healthy and the pace of life is easy and stress-free. This type of migration may be permanent or temporary, where the family intends to move back after a few years.


    • People may also choose to migrate from urban to rural areas because the ancestral or family lands are in those areas and the upkeep or maintenance of those lands, which may be farms or have running livestock businesses, becomes difficult to navigate from farther away. This type of relocation may also be undertaken when your family or parents live on rural lands, and you want to move closer to them.

    Cost-Effective Living and Working

    • People may turn to smaller towns or farm communities to start a new business or to settle away from the high cost of living in urban areas. The move may be the result of the desire to live a simpler, more economical life, return to nature or escape the rising costs and competitive lifestyle of cities.

    Retired Living

    • Migration also happens when senior citizens retire and seek a place to live that suits their budget and lifestyle. Rural areas are generally smaller, closer, more intimate communities where people feel safer. Older people may migrate to rural areas to benefit from the small-town environment that is considered safe and where everyone knows everyone else. This type of living is ideal for people who desire only to rest and have a slow-paced social life.

      - article from eHow

Preserving Soils

Soils are one of the world’s most precious commodities. It is probably safe to say that without soils there would be no support for life on this planet. The fact that the world’s population is forecast to rise to from its current 5.8 billion to 8 billion by 2025, with a huge increase in demand for food highlights the reason why soils need to be preserved.
For the past few decades there has often been a lack of appreciation of why we need to preserve soils. During this period there have been numerous examples of damage to world soils, some of which are now irreparable. Some examples of the problems that face soils include:

Soil erosion and desertification: This is a major problem in many countries in the world, particularly, but not solely, in the drier, warmer parts of the world. Desertification currently affects about one-sixth of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s land. Six to seven million acres are lost annually to soil erosion and both these processes continue to increase despite the many attempts made to introduce measures to stop or reduce erosion. It is a major threat to world soils and because of this there have been major initiatives to reduce desertification and erosion, including those by UNESCO, FAO, and the European and US Conservation bodies. However factors such as the need to increase food production and the likely impacts of global climate change are likely to make the fight against erosion and desertification increasingly difficult.

Salinisation and alkalisation: It is estimated that over 20 million hectares of land is affected by salinisation and alkalisation, again mainly the drier more arid areas of the world. Salts may be deposited in a number of ways; by winds coming in from the oceans, by use of irrigation with salt-containing water, and by salt accumulation in low-lying spots in the landscape as the climate varies. Like erosion and desertification, it is only in recent years that the problem has been recognised as a serious one and steps taken to reduce its spread. However, once accumulated in the soil it is a difficult and long-term problem to get rid of it.

Impact of intensive agriculture: The last four decades has seen a major increase in intensive agriculture in the bid to feed the world population more efficiently than ever before. In many countries, particularly the more developed countries, this intensification of agriculture has led to the use of more and heavier machinery, deforestation and clearing of land for use in cultivation. This has led to several problems including loss of organic matter, soil compaction and damage to soil physical properties generally, over-application of many nutrients in the form of fertilisers and pesticides, leading to problems with contamination of water supplies, potential loss of soil fauna and flora, such an essential part of a healthy soil, amongst others.

Urbanisation and land contamination: Urbanisation and the sealing of soils by infrastructures (i.e. building structures on top of soil) represents a significant loss of soil, particularly because the loss becomes more or less permanent. In developed countries there is a loss of about 1 per cent of land to urbanisation each decade.
The 18th and 19th centuries also saw enormous industrial expansion in many parts of the world with two major consequences for soils. Firstly, the widespread burning of fossil fuels in industry has led to widespread acidification of rainwater; for many decades soils of Western Europe have been leached by rainwater with a ph of about 4, i.e. strongly acidic. The second legacy of industry is contaminated land, the extent and effects of which are still not fully known.
Thus in the last few decades there have been many pressures put on global soils and already significant and irrecoverable damages have been done. We now need to move forward with much more awareness about the damage that has been caused to global soil resources and with a realistic programme for the preservation and protection of this unique natural entity, soil. Already there is increasing awareness of soil erosion and desertification in many countries and measures in place to protect soils from future damage. But in some environments, such as parts of Africa, the soil is a fragile entity, it lacks a robust nature, and therefore particular attention needs to be paid to its management and to ensuring that the management is clearly in tune with the soil. This is a real challenge but unless this challenge is accepted the route to future use of many of these soils could become a dead-end, with catastrophic results for many communities. Many of the techniques needing to be applied are already well known, the challenge will be to integrate them into land use practice, particularly in a likely changing climate.

The problems of salinisation and alkalisation continue and are reversible only with great difficulty. As with erosion and desertification, the causes are generally well established but very difficult and costly to remediate and solve. It is important that the problem does not continue to increase and there therefore needs to be better communication between the land user and those that advise them about their soils, and between policy makers and environmental scientists.
The problems associated with intensification of agriculture outlined above are more readily treatable. The causes of the problems are well established and already in many developed countries actions are being taken to work more in harmony with the soil. Some of the problems may take just a few years to improve upon whereas others, e.g., low contents of organic matter and nitrates moving downwards into groundwater, may take decades to remediate.

There need to be national and international plans for urbanisation that take into consideration the importance of protecting soils. Everyone is aware of the need to build more houses and to improve infrastructures but this process needs much more careful planning than before, with the need to preserve and protect soils in mind. Already we are much more aware of the problems of soil contamination and the difficulties that arise from 'post-industrial' use contaminated land. Many countries now have safeguards in place to help to prevent soil contamination. Clean up of the contaminated land, however, remains a problem both technically and financially.

Soils have suffered from several decades of damage on a scale that we must not allow to continue. The reasons for this neglect are many. But if we are to ensure the protection of global soils into the future there must be much stronger awareness and acceptability among the public, policy makers and land users of the need to preserve soils for current and future generations. To ensure that this takes place it will be important that World Organisations and National Governments ensure there are adequate measures in place to give a much needed emphasis on soils and their future protection.

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

- Ancient Indian Proverb

The School for Self-sufficient Householding Sunne

This is the first post in this new blog of mine :)
I am to start the studies for Self-sufficinet Householding in Sunne, Sweden and am looking forward to it.

The course starts February 27th and will finish in October, so 8 month of schooling will be lots of fun.
The school is located in the part of Sweden called Värmland and is somewhere between Oslo (Norway) and Stockholm. I was up there only once, visiting a good friend which bought a house close to Årjäng. Very beautiful nature. Apparently they have many wolves up there (brrrr).

I will be living up there with my dog Bailey, which is an Italian Water Dog aka Lagotto Romagnolo.

My dear wife and I are planning to buy a small farm in about a year or so and this was the main reason for me deciding to take these studies. Being a city boy I dont know much about farming, but that will change soon.
This school will give me insight into how things work on a farm. This school is focused on permaculture and self-sufficint organic farming.