farming (126)

Shed Covered with Giant Slabs of Slate in Wales

Hi Lloyd.

I thought you might be interested in this small shed, alone in a field up the valley from my home in Southern Snowdonia, Wales. We’re in an area of old slate mining which began in the mid-19th century. and finished maybe 30-40 years ago. The slate slabs on this small outbuilding are between one and two inches thick.

Cheers, and all the very best to you from Corris, Wales.

–Neil Heath

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How We Drained California Dry

A story of remaking the land and taking the water until there was nothing left

Technology Review

This is how we’ve come to the point today, during the driest decade in state history, that valley farmers haven’t diminished their footprint to meet water’s scarcity but have added a half-­million more acres of permanent crops—more almonds, pistachios, mandarins. They’ve lowered their pumps by hundreds of feet to chase the dwindling aquifer even as it dwindles further, sucking so many millions of acre-feet of water out of the earth that the land is sinking. This subsidence is collapsing the canals and ditches, reducing the flow of the very aqueduct that we built to create the flow itself.

How might a native account for such madness?

No civilization had ever built a grander system to transport water. It sprawled farmland. It sprawled suburbia. It made rise three world-class cities, and an economy that would rank as the fifth largest in the world. But it did not change the essential nature of California. Drought is California. Flood is California. One year our rivers and streams produce 30 million acre-feet of water. The next year, they produce 200 million acre-feet. The average year, 72.5 million acre-feet, is a lie we tell ourselves.

www.technologyreview.com/2021/12/16/1041296/california-climate-change-water-drought

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Shepherd’s Hut in Southwest Scotland by John and Lewis Crosby

This all started by finding two rusty cast iron wheels in the nettles whilst on a lockdown ramble during the Covid pandemic in January 2021. I had workshops sitting empty since retirement as a woodworker and was looking for a project.

I decided on a ‘Shepherd’s hut’ seeing as I had a partial starter kit. These were originally moveable temporary night shelters for a shepherd during lambing time on the higher marginal land of Scotland and northern England. The modern incarnation appears to be a lucrative Airbnb rental in which I have no interest, although addressing the chronic housing shortage for local young people does.

Our youngest son, Lewis, was due to return from Canada in the autumn and needed a place to live. That crystallized it. It was now April.

I started with the notion of using locally sourced and second-hand materials but the realities of the world markets were there from the start. Steel for the chassis, plywood internal walls, pine T&G exterior cladding, galvanized sheet for the roof, plus components, fixings, finishes and most of the rest. Only the sheep’s wool insulation and timber framing were local … and the rusty wheels. Two matching rear wheels were specially cast in England at eye-watering expense.

The chassis, 420 kgs of steel channel, was the only detailed plan drawing. The rest was make-it–up-as–you-go according to the dictates of found or bought components.

After four months of working alone, Lewis turned up just as the interior was getting a start. He’s a competent carpenter, so the pace picked up and we were finished by the end of October, 7 months since the first weld on the chassis.

Lewis and his cat now live in it locally.

Location: SW Scotland
Internal footprint: 2m × 5.7m
Height: 2.2m
Power: 12-volt solar panel
Propane cooker. Cat flap. Water collection from the roof and an additional tap supplied by a refillable onboard tank for drinking water. 2 kW wood stove. Double folding ‘Murphy’ style bed, from the underside of which is a drop-down table. Seating on the wheel arches.

–Lewis Crosby

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Traveling Shepherd with Ingenious Shelter in Oregon

I can’t recommend Kirsten Dirksen’s videos highly enough. She’s a genius! Hundreds of wonderful videos of wonderful people doing amazing things. Trouble is, when I go to this website, I keep going from one video to another; they are all terrific. I can’t get anything done! youtube.com/channel/UCDsElQQt_gCZ9LgnW-7v-cQ

Re the above:

Aaron Fletcher has grazed his sheep and lived off the land as a traveling shepherd for 12 years. He calls it guerrilla grazing (a step above guerrilla gardening, he says) and he lets his sheep graze — with permission — public parks and side lots. Homeless by choice, he offers his services to small farms in exchange for food or a place to stay (though half his calories come from his sheeps’ milk).

With a tiny metal cart home pulled by his sheep he has a bed, a refrigerator/evaporative cooler, a shower (he uses a pesticide sprayer to pump up the water pressure), power (solar panel), sun oven, a mailbox stove for heat, bicycle tire wheels and a corrugated plastic roof.

Fletcher makes cheese and butter from his sheep milk and forages for seeds, fruits, vegetables and herbs. He’s created a map for foragers in his region. He makes some money with his scythe business — cutting noxious weeds for locals, but he insists he’s not interested in making money and just hopes to serve as an example for other homeless interested in guerrilla grazing.

123homefree.org/about

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