Archive for December, 2012


For Healthy Bees, Try Top-Bar Hives

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Beekeeping is growing in popularity as gardeners, small farmers, and locavores learn more about the plight of bees in the face of industrial agriculture. After years of being babied with pesticides and fungicides, bee populations are weak and struggling, while the myriad pests that plague them have only grown stronger. Thankfully, aspiring beekeepers using selective breeding and organic methods are attempting to reverse the alarming trend of Colony Collapse Disorder.

One more tool in the sustainable beekeeper’s kit is the top-bar hive. Unlike the typical box-shaped hives that are widely used for industrial honey production, top-bar hives mimic the shape of a hollow log, and allow bees to create comb in natural shapes instead of following pre-made plastic guides. Top-bar hives produce slightly less honey than box hives, but more beeswax for use in candles and soaps.

Les Crowder and Heather Harrell are the authors of the new book Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health, a step-by-step guide to using these innovative and bee-friendly hives.

The authors are also the stars of a DVD featuring a filmed workshop, in which they discuss everything from hive management techniques to how to harvest and process honey and beeswax to the best plants to grow for the foraging bees. Now the book and DVD are available as a convenient and low-priced set.

For more information about the Top-Bar Beekeeping Set, and to order, visit our bookstore.

Winter Gardening Without Heated Greenhouses

Friday, December 28th, 2012

“You can have a salad every night all winter long.” So says Eliot Coleman, New England’s guru of the four-season harvest. There’s no big secret. As long as there is ample daylight—and even in Coleman’s home of Harborside, Maine, there is ample daylight—you can use a variety of techniques for cold-weather gardening that will extend your growing season, effectively “moving” your garden beds 500 miles south.

From Yankee Magazine:

For more than 30 years, Eliot Coleman of Harborside, Maine, has successfully grown food in winter without heated greenhouses. Think outside your zone. Each winter, his gardens head south, to Georgia, without moving an inch.

How? For every layer of protection–a cold frame, for example–the growing environment shifts 500 miles. By doubling up, says Coleman, winter farmers never have to contend with frozen soil, not even when the mercury drops well below zero. “You might get a little surface freezing, but by 10 a.m. it will be unfrozen,” he says. “The minute the sun comes out, all of a sudden it’s 50 degrees in there. We’ve never had a day when we couldn’t put seeds in the greenhouse beds.”

For more on winter gardening, go to: Four Season Farm

Hoop Houses

Coleman says you can find simple, inexpensive options out there to protect your plants. If you’re already using a cold frame, he recommends getting six unused 2x4s and building an A-frame around the structure, then wrapping the new enclosure in greenhouse plastic.

No cold frame? No problem. Coleman is also a big fan of “hoop houses,” small enclosures made from semicircle-shaped strips of metal or plastic piping covered in plastic. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’m still like a little kid when I go in there and see what’s happening,” he says. “It’s amazing that it just works.”

Read the whole article here.

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Winter Recipe: Sausage with Potatoes and Cabbage

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

It’s the darkest time of year in the north, but that’s no reason to go hungry.

Try this simple recipe from Full Moon Feast for a hearty solstice-time meal. Jessica Prentice’s classic cookbook takes you through the year, with legends and traditions associated with each full moon, and recipes connected to history and place.

The following is an excerpt from Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice. It has been adapted for the Web.

The Moon of Long Nights arrives in late autumn as the days grow shorter and the winter solstice approaches. In some parts of the world nights are so long that dawn and dusk occur almost at the same time. It is eerie to contemplate such sunless days, and yet they are an annual reality for many northern dwellers. Even those people living at moderately northern latitudes experience the shortness of the day and the length of the night at this time of year. It is a time of darkness.

Western post-industrial society is not very comfortable with darkness. To the modern Western mind, darkness is a symbol of ignorance, death, danger, depression, and even evil—not a very positive set of connotations. It is no wonder that we have developed so many technologies that dispel it. But the lightbulb is a very recent invention. For the vast majority of human history there was no electricity, and light came from just a few sources: the sun, the moon, the stars, and fire.

Sausage with Potatoes and Cabbage

Serves 2–4

This is one of my favorite wintertime meals. I consider it an eintopf—the German word for a one-pot meal.

  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, olive oil, lard, or other fat
  • 2 whole fresh sausages in casings
  • 2 leeks, sliced thin, including much of the green part—or 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small head cabbage or ½ large head cabbage, shredded
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • ½ bunch greens (chard, kale, collards; or mustard, radish, or turnip greens), sliced into ribbons
  • 3 medium potatoes (such as Yukon gold), diced
  • ½ cup hot water or stock, or more as needed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup sauerkraut (optional)
  • Sour cream or crème fraîche
  1. Heat the bacon drippings, oil, or fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the whole sausages and brown on both sides.
  2. Add the leeks (or onions) to the pan around the sausage and sauté. When the sausage is cooked through, remove it from the pan and let it cool.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage to the pan along with a pinch of salt and the optional caraway seeds. Continue to sauté a few minutes, until the cabbage begins to wilt.
  4. Add the greens and stir gently.
  5. Add the diced potatoes, another pinch of salt, and the hot water or stock. Cover, reduce the heat somewhat, and steam until potatoes are just tender. Add more water or stock if the pan gets too dry.
  6. Slice the sausage into ½-inch-thick pieces and add it back to the pan, stirring to incorporate and heat through. You can also leave the sausage whole or cut it in half.
  7. Add plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the optional sauerkraut.
  9. Serve in a shallow bowl with a big dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.

In This State: Tim Matson is Vermont’s Supreme Ponderer of Ponds

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Tim Matson, author of Landscaping Earth Ponds, is Vermont’s resident expert on small-scale, man-made bodies of water. His work as a pond consultant, as well as his book and DVD, have been leading people to water for years, and this week Matson was profiled on VTDigger’s series In This State.

Article by Dick Van Susteren.

Like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, Tim Matson travels the countryside bringing value to landscape – only he plants ponds not fruit trees. By his reckoning, in 25 years he has helped design or revitalize some 500 ponds in Vermont.

Matson has found an income stream with ponds, and why not? John Chapman (Appleseed), was known to pick up a free lunch here and there during his meanderings with seed bags across the Midwest.

Pond consulting augments freelancing for this writer-photographer from Strafford. If Vermont decides it ever needs an official pond guru, as it has a state flower and bird, Matson would be a top candidate.

Tim Matson pond

Pond consultant and author Tim Matson offered consultation on this Orange County pond, a little gem that cost less than $2,000 to build. (Photo furnished by Tim Matson)

It all began in 1971 when Matson, then 28, joined thousands of other counter-culture types in immigrating to Vermont, where farmland was cheap and native residents were generally tolerant of newcomers, even those with long hair.

Matson had done a stint in the military, where he had the good luck, in his mind, to avoid Vietnam by being accepted at Army photography school. After his service he wangled a job in book publishing in New York, where his father had been a noted literary agent.

He wound up at divisions of Simon & Schuster, pulling a decent salary as a jack-of-all-trades, copy editing, buying reprint rights, writing book jacket copy, sometimes even taking photos. Matson, now gray-haired, dates himself by mentioning he had a role in helping to bring Yippie Abbie Hoffman’s book, “Revolution for the Hell of It,” to paperback.

On a cold December day in a field in central Vermont, where he is scoping out possible pond sites for a landowner, he mentions with a laugh that it was his photo of author Joe McGinniss that graced the back cover another political classic of the times: “The Selling of the President, 1968,” the story of hucksterism in Richard Nixon’s campaign.

As befits the historic stereotype, Matson arrived in Vermont in a VW bug, a red one at that. He had grown “absolutely and totally sick of the city,” and unhappy with the political system, he says, he was moved by the “back-to-the-land movement” of the period.

His first brush with ponds was the waterhole at a farmhouse that he and a girlfriend had rented in Thetford. It turned out to be a perfect place for hippie parties, skinny-dipping and other wild affairs. He tasted the pond bait and was hooked.

Three years later, with help of a $7,500 advance on his second book (“Pilobolus,” a photo essay of the famous Dartmouth College dance group), Matson bought 45 woodland acres in Strafford and pitched a tent he called home and began building a cabin, with among other tools, a chainsaw. He got along without electricity, put in vegetable gardens, cleared a spot in the alders for his second pond, and then hired a guy with a backhoe.

“I grew up in Connecticut on the Sound, and found that I missed the water, and I wondered where it all was in Vermont,” he says. He couldn’t find enough of it close by, “so I had this pond dug.”

Marriage and two daughters (now grown) followed, and the pond became the focus of family life: Swimming in summer, ice-skating in winter, and, always it seemed, opportunities for social life and observing wildlife.

A snapshot taken years ago of pond designer Tim Matson’s daughters as they enjoy the water on a summer day at the family home in Strafford. (Photo furnished by Tim Matson)

Matson embraced rural life, and, as a freelance writer began writing essays and how-to’s about back-40 ponds for the likes of Harrowsmith, Mother Earth News, Country Journal and Yankee Magazine.

For children and the young at heart, he says, ponds are part zoo, playground, museum and amusement park.

“Kids love to hang out at them, make mud pies, fool around with salamanders, and watch dragonflies,” he says.

“I think too many kids today suffer from what a friend of mine calls ‘nature-deficit disorder’. … They are too much into phones and computers; they live in a screen world.”

Matson is bullish on family ponds of all sizes and shapes, but he’s quick to warn that a once-promising body of water can easily become a costly headache if poorly designed. They can turn to algae-infested quagmires They can even disappear due to drought or leakage.

A pond can also cost a lot, anywhere from $5,000 to more than $50,000, he explains.

Walking across the brown-gray landscape and looking for potential pond sites, and carefully choosing verbs that sidestep certitude, Matson says, “That could be a spot.”

Keep reading over at VTDigger

Learn About Perennial Vegetables with our New Book/DVD Set!

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs, need no annual tilling or planting, yet thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season.

Get the best information on growing these easy and interesting crops from Eric Toensmeier’s award-winning book Perennial Vegetables, and tour his own lush forest garden in the new DVD, Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier. The book and DVD are now available in a convenient set.

About Perennial Vegetables:

In Toensmeier’s book, Perennial Vegetables (Chelsea Green, 2007), the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less-common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food. In his book, readers will find perennial vegetables are perfect as part of an edible-landscape plan or permaculture garden. Profiling more than a hundred species, with dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources, Perennial Vegetables is a groundbreaking and ground-healing book that will open the eyes of gardeners everywhere to the exciting world of edible perennials.

About Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD):

In the DVD—a culmination of workshops recorded in Mexico, Florida, and Massachusetts—plant specialist Eric Toensmeier introduces gardeners to more than 100 species of little-known, underappreciated plants. Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such delights as ground cherry, ramps, air potatoes, the fragrant spring tree, and the much-sought-after, antioxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as the goji berry), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and culinary satisfaction. Toensmeier also takes viewers on a plant-by-plant tour of his garden in Massachusetts. Get a sneak peek in this video:

Toensemeier has been gardening in Holyoke, Massachusetts for more than a decade, and has turned his tenth of an acre lot into a lush paradise full of delicious fruits and vegetables — many of them perennials. His newest book, Paradise Lot, tells the story of developing the garden, and hoping for love as well. Paradise Lot is available for pre-order now.

Chelsea Green Publishing Rewards Employees with a “25 Shades of Sauerkraut” Bonus of $2500 each

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Independent book publisher Chelsea Green announced today that due to a record-setting sales year and strong revenue growth, employees would each receive a $2500 end-of-year bonus. Leading the company’s record revenue growth was the strong sales of The Art of Fermentation, a New York Times bestselling book by self-described “fermentation fetishist” Sandor Katz. This is the fourth Chelsea Green book to make the list in the last 10 years.

Released in June, the $39.95, 500-page hardcover reference book features an inspiring foreword from Michael Pollan. After four printings there are now more than 50,000 copies in print.

“If Random House can give all their employees a $5000 bonus for 50 Shades of Grey, then Chelsea Green can give everyone a $2500 bonus due to the phenomenal success of The Art of Fermentation,” announced Margo Baldwin, president and publisher.

Call it 25 Shades of sauerkraut. Or, kim chi. Or kefir. Or Kombucha.

It’s fitting that in a year in which the mainstream publishing industry became domineered by erotic fiction and saw decreasing print book sales, Chelsea Green once again bucked the trend and saw double digit sales growth of its list that focuses on DIY living, organic food and farming, homesteading, and building community resiliency.

To be fair to the bacteria necessary to make all that delicious fermentation happen—they are probably having a grand old time reproducing in those bubbly crocks and mason jars.

Overall sales through November were up 30 percent year-to-date, with a 40 percent increase in ebook sales and a 29 percent increase in print book sales.

Sales were not all due to sauerkraut, however.

In 2012, Chelsea Green saw strong sales across the board and in all categories.

Chelsea Green saw strong overseas, and subrights, sales for 2052 by Jorgen Randers, a look forward at what the next 40 years will be like in the wake of increasing climate change, flat economic growth, and a growing population. Other top sellers, so far, included the first book in our Community Resilience Guides series (published in collaboration with Post Carbon Institute), Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman. The second book in that series,  Power from the People by Greg Pahl, was released in September. The third book, Rebuilding the Foodshed by Philip Ackerman-Leist, will be released in March. Other top-selling books from 2012 include Janisse Ray’s remarkable book about seed saving, The Seed Underground, and Gov. Madeleine M. Kunin’s call for true family-friendly economic and workplace reforms in The New Feminist Agenda.

Two books released in Fall 2011 sold strongly throughout the year, too, those where Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and The Holistic Orchard by Michael Philips.

Keeping with tradition, Chelsea Green’s backlist continued to sell strong, with several older titles ranking among the top-selling 25 books of the year. Those include Katz’s earlier book, Wild Fermentation, as well as Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden, Elliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook, Harvey Ussery’s Small-Scale Poultry Flock, Mat Stein’s When Technology Fails, and the book Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning.

The end-of-year sales and revenue announcement comes on the heels of a busy year for Chelsea Green Publishing, its staff, and its authors.

In June, the company became employee-owned, making it one of only a handful of independent book publishers that can claim employee-ownership status, and of those Chelsea Green will be near the top in terms of the percentage of stock controlled by its employees. After the transaction, nearly 80 percent of the stock is held by employees; the remaining percentage remains in control of Margo and Ian Baldwin, the company’s founders.In 2012, Chelsea Green was recognized by ForeWord Reviews as its 2011 Publisher of the Year, in which the company was recognized for its “significant contributions in the categories of politics and sustainable living.”

At the start of the year, Chelsea Green added staff in an ongoing effort to expand its digital offerings and improve its existing online presence, as well as provide greater outreach and publicity support for its authors.

Libation: little water, and a Classic White Russian

Friday, December 21st, 2012

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a delicious cocktail recipe! This sweet beverage will be perfect for happy hour to start off your vacation on the right foot, or to mix up for family at a holiday party this weekend.

Cheers!

The following is an excerpt from Libation: A Bitter Alchemy by Deirdre Heekin. It has been adapted for the Web.

In a cold November, more than ten years after the Berlin Wall came down, Caleb and I arrived in the city of Minsk for the first time. We had to show hard-won visas and letters of introduction at the kiosk before they would let us through the secured gate. There had not been many people on our flight from Germany, so it didn’t take us long to pick out our luggage. Laden with our bags, we spotted Olga at the entrance to the gate. She was standing next to her father, Slava, whom we had only seen in photographs. Raisa, her mother, was not able to come to the airport as she was at work, but would meet us later. We smiled, and waved, and felt like crying.

By that time, Olga and her sister Tatiana had worked with us at the restaurant for several years. Olga had first come to the United States from Minsk one summer on the Fourth of July, armed with a five-month work visa. By accident, she showed up at the door of our restaurant looking for work; she even came to our town by accident. Both were happy accidents, and Olga decided to stay and complete her studies in America. Her sister, who came the next year, made the same decision.

We, too, had once been like them, foreigners in a foreign land, deciding to make a life far away from what had once been home. We recalled how for us, the idea of home began to change, one home replacing another, as first language gave way to a second. These things we understood. With Olga and Tatiana we shared this experience even as we shared hours of work together at the restaurant. We shared holidays, and arguments, occasional sadness, and much laughter. We became an intentional family, choosing each other for both obvious and private reasons.

Now Caleb and I were traveling to Minsk to meet Olga and Tatiana’s parents, to extend our notion of family, and to learn more of their Belarussian culture and language. Unlike the first words I had learned in Italian, my first word in Russian—learned months before taking our journey, and learned out of the desire to communicate during work in this other language—was the one word vada, water. The second word I learned was vodka, little water.

My own history with vodka starts long before my meeting Olga and Tatiana, and long before my husband and I even thought of traveling to Eastern Europe. I learned to drink vodka in college. I hadn’t developed a taste for beer yet, and I’d had a bad experience with a gallon jug of Ernest and Julio Gallo’s Hearty Burgundy so I would not become interested in wine for a few years. My parents’ inclination for Irish whisky had not lured me—my dislike of it decided when I was young and asked to take a sip from my father’s cocktail glass. It was strong and bittersweet, not to be my tipple of choice. I must have first tried vodka at one of those college parties where most people drink beer, and where bad vodka and cheap bourbon are served for those who don’t like Heineken, Rolling Rock, or Budweiser. My first experience of vodka didn’t leave an impression other than my liking the clean taste; and the liquor didn’t seem to leave me addled or incoherent.

Vodka became my drink of choice, and it was the drink I could down quickly and easily in a small shot glass and beat any drinking-game opponent without difficulty. I liked it even better when I could have it at a bar, doctored with sweet tastes like Kahlúa and cream. My preferred college cocktail was a white Russian. Who knew that someday I would board an airplane for a country where I had connections, a country named Belarus, which means “white Russia” in translation.

My fascination with vodka eased into other interests— wine, beer, and brandies—but a vodka tonic was my summer drink, the lime adding just the right amount of fruit. In fact, in my recollection, the only cocktails I drank were vodka-based: a madras with cranberry and orange juice; a Cape Cod with just the cranberry and a lime; a salty dog with white grapefruit. When I got much older I graduated to the vodka martini because I loved green olives, and to the vodka negroni because I loved Campari. I’ve never been a fan of the other clear liquor—gin.

Before arriving in Minsk I knew enough to know that Slavic cultures prized their vodka, and that vodka was often the bane of the depressed Slavs. They drank it in the morning, they drank it with lunch, they toasted with it, and they drank it with dinner. They drank it like water—their little water—a lot of little water.


recipe for classic white russianThis is the traditional white Russian recipe I remember. As with anything, the ingredients are key, and I recommend using a vodka made from milk sugars and that is very creamy in texture like the Vermont Vodka White made by Duncan. The resulting drink could be a nice liquid dessert.• 2 ounces Vermont Vodka White, or other vodka
• 1 ounce Kahlúa, Tia Maria, or other coffee liqueur
• Light creamPour the vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass. Fill with light cream and serve.

When Technology Fails: The Compact Survival Kit

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

When the poop hits the fan, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down—so to speak. You’ll want to have your compact emergency survival kit packed and at the ready—and as small and light as possible. That means packing only the essentials.

For more tips and advice from Stein, check out his recent appearance on FireDogLake’s Book Salon, here. Author Barry Eisler hosted the online event, and Stein answered reader questions about topics such as water storage and purification.

Being prepared for the worst doesn’t involve a one-shot prescription for everyone. As Mat said in response to a reader, “If you have little money, focus on skills and knowledge. If you are old and infirm, focus on friends and relationships. No one person can know, do, and have it all. Focus on that which is within your physical and financial means.”

In the excerpt below, Mat Stein tells you exactly what you need in your compact survival kit.

The following is an excerpt from When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, Revised and Expanded by Matthew Stein. It has been adapted for the Web.

Be prepared. The following basic survival kit is small enough to slip into the top pocket of a knapsack or a coat pocket. It fits into a 2-ounce tobacco tin or other small case, and its weight is hardly noticeable. Polish the inside of the case to a mirror finish for signaling. Check the contents of the case regularly, to replace items that have exceeded their shelf lives. Tape the box seams with duct tape to waterproof the container.

  • Matches. Fire can be started by other means, but matches are the easiest. Waterproof matches are useful, but bulkier than ordinary stick matches. You can waterproof ordinary matches by dipping them in molten candle wax. Break large kitchen matches in half to save room for more matches. Include a striker torn from a book of paper matches.
  • Candle. Great for helping to start a fire with damp wood, as well as for a light and heat source. Shave it square to save space in your kit.
  • Flint with steel striker. Flint will last long after your matches are used up. You must find very dry, fine tinder to start a fire with sparks from a flint. Solid magnesium fire-starter kits are an excellent improvement on the traditional flint with steel. Using a knife to scrape magnesium shavings from the magnesium bar, you light the shavings with a spark from the flint, and they burn hotly to easily ignite the tinder.
  • Magnifying glass. Useful for starting a fire with direct sunlight or for finding splinters.
  • Needle and thread. Choose several needles, including at least one with a very large eye, which can handle yarn, sinew, or heavy thread. Wrap with several feet of extra-strong thread.
  • Fishhooks and line. A selection of different hooks in a small tin or packet. Include several small, split-lead sinkers and as much fishing line as possible.
  • Compass. A small, luminous-dial compass (for night reading). Make sure that you know how to read it and that the needle swings freely. A string is handy for hanging it around your neck for regular reference.
  • Micro-flashlight. A keychain LED-type (light emitting diode) lamp, such as the Photon Microlight II. It is useful for reading a map at night or following a trail when there is no moon.
  • Brass wire. Three to five feet of lightweight brass wire. Wire is useful for making snares and repairing things.
  • Flexible saw. These come with large rings for handles that can be removed to allow it to fit into your kit. While using the saw, insert sticks through the end loops for more useful and comfortable handles. Coat the saw with a film of grease or oil to protect it from rust.


Figure 4-1. Compact survival kit.

  • Survival knife. For overnight backcountry travel or as part of your car kit, I would also carry a stout knife with about a 6-inch blade. If the knife has a folding blade, it should have a heavy-duty blade lock. It should be strong enough to use as a pry and to split branches and cut hardwoods without damage. You may need a knife to fabricate crude tools, such as a bow and drill for starting a fire without matches. A variety of “survival” knives are available; they are capable of cutting various materials, including thin sheet metal, and will do nicely. If the knife has a fixed blade, it should be covered in a sheath that it can’t easily cut through. Some knives come with a small sharpening stone in the sheath, which is a nice feature.
  • Condom. When placed in a sock or other cloth for protection and support, this makes a good emergency water bottle.
  • Compact medical kit. Vary the contents depending on your skill and needs. Pack medicines in airtight containers with cotton balls to prevent powdering and rattling. The following list, which is a rough guide, will cover most needs.
    • Mild pain reliever. Pack at least ten of your favorite aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other pain reliever.
    • Diarrhea medicine. Immodium is usually favored. Take two capsules initially, and then one each time a loose stool is passed.
    • Antibiotic. For general infections. People who are sensitive to penicillin can use tetracycline. Carry enough for a full course of 5 to 7 days. Use Echinacea or grapefruit seed extract from the health food store, if prescription antibiotics are not available.
    • Antihistamine. For allergies, insect bites, and stings, use Benadryl or equivalent.
    • Water purification tablets. Much lighter and more compact than a filter. For use when you can’t boil your water.
    • Potassium permanganate. Has several uses. Add to water and mix until water becomes bright pink to sterilize it, a deeper pink to make a topical antiseptic, and a full red to treat fungal diseases, such as athlete’s foot.
    • Salt tablets. Salt depletion can lead to muscle cramps and loss of energy. Carry 5 to 10 salt tablets.
    • Surgical blades. At least two scalpel blades of different sizes. A handle can be made of wood, if required.
    • Butterfly sutures. To hold edges of wounds together.
    • Band-Aids. Assorted sizes, preferably waterproof, for covering minor wounds and keeping them clean. Can be cut to make butterfly sutures (adapted from Wiseman 1996, 16).

If the World Ends Friday, Will you be Prepared?

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Okay, so we don’t think the world is really going to end Friday. The end of the Mayan calendar is confusing, sure. Ominous? You bet. But we’ve made it through Y2K together, and Snowpocalypse, and Carmageddon, and countless other would-be apocalypses (apocali?).

Apocalyptic thinking can distract us from the very real problems that people and the planet are facing every day. From climate change to social justice issues, pollution, violence, heck, even the seemingly miniscule fact that your coworker is in a bad mood today are all more pressing than a distant daydream of disaster.

And imagining an apocalypse can push you into a mood of despair, which makes it hard to take practical measures to ensure you’ll be okay if something bad does happen. Don’t waste time being fearful that the end is nigh — take some time to get prepared so you can feel safe no matter what happens.

With the books below, you’ll be able to do just that. Prepare to make the best of it no matter what.

There’s never been a better time to “be prepared.” When Technology Fails is Matthew Stein’s comprehensive primer on sustainable living skills—from food and water to shelter and energy to first-aid and crisis-management skills.

The book prepares you to embark on the path toward sustainability. But unlike any other book, Stein not only shows you how to live “green” in seemingly stable times, but to live in the face of potential disasters, lasting days or years, coming in the form of social upheaval, economic meltdown, or environmental catastrophe.

In Matthew Stein’s newest book, When Disaster Strikes, he breaks down how to be prepared for specific disastrous events and the particular challenges they pose. Stein instructs you on the smartest responses to natural disasters—such as fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods—how to keep warm during winter storms, even how to protect yourself from attack or other dangerous situations. With this comprehensive guide in hand, you can be sure to respond quickly, correctly, and confidently when a crisis threatens.

Here at Chelsea Green, we’re not afraid to look at the dark side. Just in case it becomes abundantly clear that the world as we know it IS going to end, we hope you’ll have at least a few hours to prepare. Why not contemplate your demise with the help of a great book? Here are a couple we recommend.

Open the book one way, and read Tyler Volk’s essay on DEATH: What is shared by spawning Pacific salmon, towering trees, and suicidal bacteria? In his lucid and concise exploration of how and why things die, Tyler Volk explains the intriguing ways creatures—including ourselves—use death to actually enhance life.

. . . then flip the book over to read Dorion Sagan’s essay on SEX: In Sex, Dorion Sagan takes a delightful, irreverent, and informative romp through the science, philosophy, and literature of humanity’s most obsessive subject. A brief, wonderfully entertaining, highly literate foray into the origins and evolution of sex.

Join renowned essayist Edward Hoagland as he ponders the meaning of life, aging, and sex in his book, Sex and the River Styx. Called the best essayist of his time by luminaries like Philip Roth, John Updike, and Edward Abbey, Edward Hoagland brings readers his ultimate collection. In Sex and the River Styx, the author’s sharp eye and intense curiosity shine through in essays that span his childhood exploring the woods in his rural Connecticut, his days as a circus worker, and his travels the world over in his later years.

Don’t forget: during our Holiday Sale you can save 35% on every purchase. Just use the discount code CGFL12 when you check out!

Image credit Matthew Stevenson

Farms with a Future is Here!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Farming isn’t easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the most challenging jobs on Earth. Farmers grapple with unpredictable weather, back-breaking days of weeding and seeding, small and sometimes finicky markets for their wares, and the ever-present danger that Murphy’s Law will rear its contingent head (this especially applies to farms with livestock, who are always testing fences, attracting predators, sometimes fighting with each other, eating things they shouldn’t, etc.). On a farm, whatever can happen will, and it’s not always fun.

But the ever-shifting nature of the work also makes farming an incomparable adventure, and as we begin the second decade of the millenium, many are being tempted away from cubicles and suits to try their hand at tending the land.

Our new book, Farms with a Future, by Rebecca Thistlethwaite, is designed to help beginning farmers get started on the right foot, and guide those who have been at it a few years to fine-tune their processes to make their farms run sustainably. Thistlethwaite offers advice from her own years raising grassfed beef, as well as from her journeys across the United States, visiting dozens of farms and taking note of what works.

In the excerpt below, Thistlethwaite outlines some quick tips for beginners. Grab a notebook and pen and check it out!

For the Beginner: An Excerpt from Farms With a Future


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