Forced Molt: Starving Hens For Profit

Forced Molt

Lets’s talk about molting. Anyone who has ever kept chickens knows about the molt, that egg-production pause where hens shed old feathers and turn into tiny, ugly dinosaurs for a few weeks. During the molt, a natural response to reduced daylight, egg laying stops. Chicken’s can’t throw energy into making new feathers and eggs at the same [Continue Reading...]

The Introvert’s Christmas

Introvert Chirstmas

Hi, I’m Nick. I’m an introvert, and I’m caught smack in the middle of my least favorite time of the year. No, I’m not the Grinch, I’m not a Scrooge. I’m just your average introvert, and I wish to hell that Christmas would just shut up. “Introvert” isn’t the same thing as shy or socially [Continue Reading...]

This Is An Absolutely True Timeline

alarm clock

It is Saturday December 7th. 47.80 degrees North, 122.37 degrees East. It is 22 degrees F outside temperature. This is an absolutely true timeline. 4:15 am I am awoken by Oliver standing in the bedroom door. This is the second time he’s been in tonight. He’s mumbling and twitching with the incoherence of the freshly [Continue Reading...]

Taking The Next Step: All Grain Homebrewing

All Grain Brewing (2)

There comes a time when most homebrewers ask, is it time to go all-grain? A little background for those of you that are not homebrewers: most of us start out making beer from something called “malt extract,” a super-convenient tub (or bag) of grain sugars that is consistent, created by professionals under controlled conditions and [Continue Reading...]

Giveaway: Honeybee Democracy – For Beekeepers And More

Honeybee Democracy

Thomas Seeley’s fascinating Honeybee Democracy has received press in some unusual circles for a book about insect behavior. Everyone from homemade mead-makers to The New Republic has weighed in with glowing reviews on this study of honeybee swarms. The reason for this broad appeal is simple: Seeley does an excellent job describing the how and why of honeybee group decision-making, [Continue Reading...]

Notes From A Synthetic Environment

Notes From A Synthetic Environment (4)

For the past five days I’ve been living in an unreal, unearthly limbo. I’m at a professional conference, in a 34 story hotel, in Chicago. I could easily have no idea what time it is. I certainly have no idea what the weather is like. My menus over the past few days read something like this: [Continue Reading...]

Your Seedlings Hate Your Fancy Window: How Plants See Light

Photosyntheticly Active Radiation

Two months ago, Erica posted comparison photos showing seedlings started in a south-facing window vs seedlings started under full-spectrum grow lights. The results were surprising to many readers (including me!) and at least a few readers invested in grow lights after seeing the difference light makes. There are a few reasons why windowsill started seedlings [Continue Reading...]

Battle Coffee Pot vs. Microwave: An Energy Cost Analysis

In this corner: the coffee pot's keep-warm function!

For Christmas this year I got a new coffee pot. Among the wonders it offered over and above our old coffee pot (in addition to working) was a fabulous keep-warm feature that holds a pot of coffee at steaming hot perfection for four hours! Amazing, what will they think of next? While I love the [Continue Reading...]

Refactoring In The Garden

_MG_2891

2011 was The Year of Additions. We added to our garden: new perennial bed, new mini-orchard, new chickens, two new coops for aforementioned chickens, and a couple new raised beds. We added this blog, and with it a sizable commitment and a wonderful community of like-minded folks. And late in 2010 of course, we had added this [Continue Reading...]

3 Myths About Chickens, Debunked

Chickens in Arugula

Chickens are not what you expect. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my hens. I love their enthusiastic productivity, their damn near egg-a-day fecundity. I love their retirement plan (soup) almost as much. But there are a lot of myths about chickens floating around out there, and they deserved to be debunked. Myth One: [Continue Reading...]

Twelve Ways To Give The Gift Of Homebrew

You knew I’d get around to this eventually, right? A set of gift suggestions for the homebrewer – or potential homebrewer – in your life. To make things simple for the non-homebrewer who might be purchasing these gifts, I’ve put together a dozen suggestions organized by your brewers experience and your desired gift price point. [Continue Reading...]

The Man’s Guide To Manly Water Boiling

My dad, a capable man by any measure, a highly skilled Marine in his youth, a brilliant car mechanic and automotive diagnostician as an adult, and a generally handy-about-the-house guy, has long confessed that he does not know how to boil water. If a man of his skill and diverse competencies cannot boil water then [Continue Reading...]