Jul 20, 2013

Gasification, the key to the Ball and Chains - YouTube

Published on Jul 20, 2013

Visit ---> http://www.driveonwood.com/

No Brag - Just fact for Wayne Keith! :-) Monte

Gasification, the key to the Ball and Chains - YouTube

Carbon Movement through Iowa Landscapes -- The Project - YouTube

Research funded by NASA EPSCoR models how carbon moves through Clear Creek, a typical Midwestern watershed in Iowa, with the goal of informing land management practices to create healthy soil, clean water and carbon sequestration. Thanos Papanicolaou and Christoper Wilson, University of Iowa, describe the project's importance.

Graduate students Dimitrios Dermisis and Ken Wacha describe how the coupled WEPP and CENTURY models work.

Carbon Movement through Iowa Landscapes -- The Project - YouTube

Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world - YouTube

Published on Jul 15, 2013

Bernie Krause has been recording wild soundscapes -- the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae -- for 45 years. In that time, he has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe. A surprising look at what we can learn through nature's symphonies, from the grunting of a sea anemone to the sad calls of a beaver in mourning.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
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Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world - YouTube

New Database Captures the Benefits of Biochar | KRCB


Enlarge image

The origins of biochar, a charcoal-based soil amendment, are almost mythic. In the Amazon Basin, a rainforest region with typically infertile soils, some areas have been discovered to have ground that is almost black and rich in nutrients. The soil’s dark color is derived from its high organic matter content, believed to originate from charcoal added to the soil some 2,500 years ago, either intentionally or as a waste product from cooking.

Recently, there has been a growing interest in whether the fertility of these “amazon dark earth soils” can be replicated in modern farming practices. A new UC Davis database helps users and researchers better understand that replicability.

Charcoal, called biochar when used as a soil amendment, can be derived from nearly any biomass, transforming waste products into this unique additive. Increased bio-fuel production and expanding fruit and nut orchards in California produce a growing supply of waste that has rich potential as a nutrient. Wood, chicken manure, the residue of corn plants after harvest, and nut shells are all common candidates for biochar, each cooked down in a low- or no-oxygen environment into brittle charcoal and added to soil. ­­­­

The claims of biochar’s ability to improve soil are many. Biochar proponents say its addition to soil can increase carbon storage, boost the nutrient and water retention of soils, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from soils.

Enlarge image
Sanjai Parikh

“The basic premise of biochar’s benefit is straightforward,” says Sanjai Parikh, assistant professor of soil chemistry in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis. “You are putting highly condensed carbon in the soil, so that biochar itself has a longer residence time than just putting a piece of wood, or any raw biomass, in the soil. The fact that biochar is a fairly recalcitrant form of carbon means that microbes cannot utilize it easily as food source and carbon dioxide emissions are thus temporarily reduced. However there is also a lot of excitement around the potential of biochar to also provide a host of specific agronomic benefits.”

But as a relatively young avenue of scientific research, conclusive evidence of its benefits is largely inadequate. To drive forward the understanding of biochar, Parikh, along with postdoctoral scholar Fungai Mukome have created the UC Davis Biochar Database — a forum dedicated to comparing the physical and chemical properties of biochar based on the various sources used to make them, and through that generate a broader understanding of the replicable benefits biochar can bring to soil.

“With our database we’re hoping to provide some of the basic data to the biochar community to link these benefits with specific biochar feedstocks and processing temperatures,” Parikh said.

The database, funded in part by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, can be used as a resource for biochar researchers, manufacturers and users to better understand the effect that different biochars have shown in soil. Users can begin to tailor their biochar systems to better reflect the advantageous results that have been shown in biochar research. And for those studying the benefits of biochar, the database serves as an open source community that biochar researchers can add to in order to develop a comprehensive guide to the research.

“We released the database with 80 entries, and currently have over 300, but our goal is to grow the database to include 1,000 entries within a year,” Parikh said. “There needs to be a place to come to understand the properties of biochar, and opening the forum for community contributions is an important way to expand our knowledge.”

The biochar database can be visited here. It contains instructions on how to download data, and how to contribute to the database by uploading data on biochar chemical and physical properties.

New Database Captures the Benefits of Biochar | KRCB

Jul 19, 2013

Market to Market (July 19, 2013) - YouTube

Published on Jul 19, 2013

Californians flee from the flames, while other Americans swelter in a persistent heat wave. Innovators replace man with machine to address a growing labor shortage in the fields. Researchers make a breakthrough in the fight against a lethal swine virus. Market analysis with Tomm Pfitzenmaier.

Market to Market (July 19, 2013) - YouTube

Warnings written in the water By DRAKE LARSEN

“If we want to regenerate our soils, the surface is where we need to focus.” Practical Farmers of Iowa's David Larsen takes an in-depth look at regional soil degradation, the impacts of which are particularly highlighted in extreme conditions such as last year's drought and this year's spring downpours. Read the article in this month's Wallaces Farmer magazine: http://bit.ly/1bOxCXA.

Marketing and Managing Grass- and Grain-Fed Beef by Practical Farmers Blog

By Margaret
Published July 12, 2013

Tucked into rolling hills of corn, Sawyer Beef has carved a niche into both the countryside and the Quad Cities’ marketplace. A visit on July 11 allowed the group of about 20 people to learn why it is called “The Best Beef You Can Bite.”

Neal Sawyer is the fifth generation to farm in the area – supposedly, Neal says, there’s been a Sawyer farming in Iowa since the 1850s. The grazing has been picking up since about 2008. While Neal and his father Norman used to graze cow-calf pairs and then finish the calves in a feedlot, customers at the farmer’s market started asking for grass-fed. After some time, two animals were finished on grass instead, and the meat was a success. The next year there were six grass-finished animals, and now Neal estimates that the grass-only beef makes up about half of his sales.

His herd is primarily black Angus, though there are some red Angus and sprinkles of some other breeds, and his current bull is a Hereford. Neal has focused on finding bulls that deliver small birth weights, so that he never has to pull a calf. The red influence is part of an effort to reduce heat stress; with some shade-free paddocks and cells and an invasion of endophyte-infected tall fescue, Neal is concerned for the health and comfort of the herd.

Neal employs mob grazing on the farm. About 100 cow-calf pairs run in cells as small as two acres, depending on the forage quantity and the season; his stockers similarly are given small areas to graze. The animals are crowded enough to consume or trample nearly all the forage available – but not so crowded that they can’t get enough to eat, and actually can pick off the best parts of each plant. Frequent movement to new pastures – every 12-24 hours – means they’ll always have fresh forage available. Neal tracks when cattle move in and out of different cells and paddocks, and thus the rest periods each paddock gets. Most areas are grazed three times each summer. He utilizes quick rotations during the spring, when forage is still growing, but then slows the animals down and shrinks the cell size later in the summer when forage is taller. Neal believes that it’s not a “waste” if cattle trample over-mature forage into the soil – it’s merely investing in soil organic matter and high-quality forage for later. Between his desire to improve soil quality and his desire to not spend time and money on an old tractor and baler, it works for him. Cattle also do a good job of fertilizing pastures they graze – particularly when they’re in small cells – but removing a cutting of hay burns fuel while removing nutrients from the pasture. Similarly, he does not apply any fertilizers or other amendments to the soil. While he has worked with NRCS to re-seed and improve some pastures, he mostly relies on the seedbank to repopulate areas he grazes.

On pasture, the animals are watered from several large stock tanks near hydrants; the tanks are also located such that multiple paddocks can be set up while still having access to the tank. Except during drought, Neal prefers the cows to be excluded from pond areas, saying that allowing grass to regrow on the banks prevented a lot of runoff and sediment from clouding up the water.

Cows calve between April and June, depending on the year, and calves are weaned the following February or so. The timing is intended to provide cows with high-quality forage while the calves are nursing – the most nutritionally demanding stage of production – and calves learn to graze from their dams. Over the winter, cows graze neighbors’ cornstalks. Setting up small strips allows Neal to control their intake and prevent them over-gorging on fallen grain rather than eating some grain and some husks and stalks. This lasts often until mid-January; the cows then go on stockpiled forages or pastures with rolled-out hay bales.

Neal butchers his grass-fed calves at about 24 months and 1000 or so pounds. He avoids having them processed during the winter, when they’re on hay – he and his customers prefer them to be on fresh forage. Rather, he’ll process a few extra during the fall months to have enough for winter and early spring – the cost of storing meat in the freezer is a bit less than the cost of buying hay, most times! Neal estimates that the calves gain about 2 lb/day on pasture, and about 0.5 lb/day on hay during the winter. This year, he’s trying to weigh calves more consistently to get a better idea of the growth and productivity rates.

Neal was asked about marketing and pricing. Customers, he said, have been mostly through the farmer’s market and by word-of-mouth. While the farm has a website, Neal prefers getting to interact with customers either face-to-face or over the phone, as that has a more human aspect and solidifies the relationship more. As for pricing, Neal believes that as he is marketing a quality product, he should be paid that way. Final prices are developed based on knowledge of what he’s offering and knowledge of what the market will bear.

In the future, Neal hopes to spend more time on marketing – furthering lines of communication so that, for instance, repeat customers are told when an animal is going to market so they can request certain cuts. He also wants to get more data on productivity of his stock. Another interest is in year-round grazing. Would reducing herd size be more profitable than growing more calves? Shrinking the herd reduces demand on pastures enough to have stockpiled forage throughout the winter – saving money otherwise used to buy hay. But is this more profitable than increasing his stocking densities, buying more hay, but being able to sell more calves? Time and trial will tell. All the attendees know is that his shredded beef and sausage sticks were sure worth biting!
Marketing and Managing Grass- and Grain-Fed Beef by Practical Farmers Blog

Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change

Friday, 19 July 2013
A farmer walks through a field near oil rigs in Shafter, California, May 21, 2013. (Photo: Emily Berl / The New York Times)

Few people can explain gas and oil drilling with as much authority as Louis W. Allstadt. As an executive vice president of Mobil Oil who ran the company's exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000. In 31 years with the company he also was in charge of its marketing and refining in Japan, and managed its worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. Just before retiring, he oversaw Mobil's side of its merger with Exxon, creating the world's largest corporation. READ THE REST OF THIS AMAZING INTERVIEW:  Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change

Turning a Bullet Box

Turning a Bullet Box

The Bullet Box is an intermediate project that is fun and makes a great conversation piece. Before you begin, print the .308 Rifle Cartridge Diagram for sizing reference.


Mark the Center and Mount on the Lathe
Select a wood blank 2″ x 2″ x 12″ and mark the center on each end of the blank. Mount the blank on the lathe between centers using a Cone Center and Drive Center.

Using a Spindle Roughing Gouge, turn the blank down to 1-3/4″ diameter, then turn a dovetail tenon on the end of the blank to fit into the jaws of you chuck.

Attach a 4-jaw chuck and revolving center to the lathe and mount the dovetail tenon into the chuck using the revolving center to support the other end.

Using a spindle gouge, turn the blank to the dimensions shown in the .308 Rifle Cartridge Diagram.
Install a drill chuck and 7/8″ forstner bit into the tailstock and bore a hole to your desired depth.
Using a parting tool, part off the blank leaving 1/4″ extra material on the end of the cartridge case.
Turn a 1″ long tenon on the remaining blank to fit in the drilled hole of the cartridge. Check for fit frequently and stop when snug.

Mount the drilled end of the cartridge on the tenon and support with a tailstock revolving center. Turn a slightly concave bottom so the cartridge will stand on a table without wobbling.

Sand the cartridge case with progressively finer grits finishing with 320 grit.

Finish the cartridge with your choice of finish. We recommend using Deft Clear Wood Finish to seal and finish the blank. Apply the Deft to the bullet casing with the lathe stopped using a brush or rag. Apply liberally to the blank and wipe off the excess. Once dry, use a paste wax and steel wool while the lathe is running to smooth the deft, to leave a sealed and streak-free surface.

Optional Step
To make the cartridge look genuine, use our Gold Rub-n-Buff Wax and completely cover the bullet casing keeping the wax as even and consistent as possible. Let the wax dry for 5-10 minutes, use a clean rag and softly buff the wax.

Finally, remove the cartridge from the lathe. Using a sharp chisel or handsaw, remove the remaining waste material on the end of the cartridge. Sand and finish the exposed ends.

Using the remaining blank, turn the bullet to shape using the dimensions from the diagram with a taper from the tenon to the tip.

Note: Use a revolving center when possible to support the end of the blank. Remove for light sanding and finishing.

Sand the bullet through 320 grit.

Finish the bullet with your choice of finish. We recommend using Deft Clear Wood Finish to seal and finish the blank. Apply the Deft to the bullet with the lathe stopped using a brush or rag. Apply liberally to the blank and wipe off the excess. Once dry, use a paste wax and steel wool while the lathe is running to smooth the deft, to leave a sealed and streak-free surface.

Optional Step

To make the bullet look genuine, use our Copper Rub-n-Buff Wax and completely cover the bullet casing keeping the wax as even and consistent as possible. Let the wax dry for 5-10 minutes, use a clean rag and softly buff the wax.

Use a Parting tool or long point of a skew and part the bullet from the remaining blank. Sand and finish the tip of the bullet.

Completed Bullet Box

Project Blanks
Artisan Dye
Spindle Gouge
Sand Paper
Sanding Sealer
Mylands Friction Polish
Rub n’ Buff Special Effects Wax
0000 Steel Wool
Paste Wax

Turning a Bullet Box - Craft Supplies USA

The Farmery is a radical vision of what farms and grocery stores can be : TreeHugger

Chris Tackett
June 18, 2013

© The Farmery

What if you could grow and sell food in the same place? What would that look like? That is the radical idea behind Ben Greene's innovative sustainable agriculture project, called The Farmery.

© The Farmery

When you consider how far food has to travel to get from the field it is grown in to a retail shelf and the amount of energy used in that process, it is one of those things that can leave you dumbfounded that we've ever arrived at a situation where this is the norm.

"It has to be harvested, packed, transported and cooled," Greene says about how food makes it to a grocery store. "And at every step, there is massive inventory loss. What if this entire system could be consolidated into one site?"

Greene envisions a system where you can grow food and have a market to buy it in the same building. He even calls it the Willy Wonka's Factory of sustainable agriculture, where customers could pick or cut their own crops.

We get pitched a lot of conceptual ideas regarding vertical farms or futuristic new designs and as a thought experiment alone, this idea was super compelling to me, but I have to admit that my jaw dropped when I played the video below and saw Greene harvesting giant gourmet mushrooms and cutting bushy stems of herbs and realized that this concept already exists in real life.

Using a system of stacked shipping containers, hanging planters and modular greenhouse structures, Greene is already growing a significant amount of food as he tests his concept.

In the video below, you'll see inside The Farmery and hear Greene explain his vision for how this model can work in cities and food deserts across the United States.

In a time when food and energy prices are rising and the allure of dense, urban living is enticing more and more people, a system like this could be a brilliant melding of the futuristic vertical farm with a more pragmatic scale and model. With low construction costs due to the materials, it would be great to see a few more of these pop-up in cities around the US to see how they are received.

To learn more visit The Farmery website.

© The Farmery

© The Farmery

© The Farmery

© The Farmery
The Farmery is a radical vision of what farms and grocery stores can be : TreeHugger

Heavy Rains Send Iowa's Precious Soil Downriver : The Salt : NPR

July 12, 2013
Larger Image
Soil erosion after five inches or more of rain fell in one hour across portions of Western Iowa in 2013.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, the Midwest was heading into one of the worst droughts in decades. Now much of the region is soggy.

But the biggest loser from this year's heavy rains? The land itself.

The Environmental Working Group, drawing on analysis done by Iowa State University's Iowa Daily Erosion Project, found in a recent report that during one five-day period in May, 50 townships in Iowa lost more than 5 tons of topsoil per acre.

As EWG puts it: "Those 1.2 million acres of farmland may have lost more precious topsoil in five days than what is tolerable over an entire year." The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service considers an annual rate of topsoil loss of five tons "tolerable," but EWG says "a truly sustainable rate of erosion is far lower."

As Abbie Fentress Swanson reported last week, the lost topsoil contains a huge amount of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, that are essential for growing crops. Once they enter rivers, lakes and bays, they can trigger algal growth.

Several members of EWG's Iowa-based staff took a road tour of the damage. You can browse photos they took along the way on an interactive map.

According to EWG, much of the soil loss could be prevented through more aggressive soil-conservation practices, including "no-till" planting, grass waterways and terraces. "Every no-till field with properly placed grass waterways showed only nominal signs of erosion," says the report. "Well-protected fields suffered little damage even where poorly protected fields just down or across the road had suffered badly."

Heavy Rains Send Iowa's Precious Soil Downriver : The Salt : NPR

Chart: Tributaries of the Mississippi River --- About nationalatlas.gov

A new tool maps the thousands of connections among U.S. rivers.
By Chris Kirk
Posted Thursday, July 18, 2013

A new online tool released by the Department of the Interior this week allows users to select any major stream and trace it up to its sources or down to its watershed. The above map, exported from the tool, highlights all the major tributaries that feed into the Mississippi River, illustrating the river’s huge catchment area of approximately 1.15 million square miles, or 37 percent of the land area of the continental U.S. Use the tool to see where the streams around you are getting their water (and pollution).

Chart: Tributaries of the Mississippi River. - Slate Magazine

About nationalatlas.gov™ --> http://www.nationalatlas.gov/

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a map is worth ten thousand. This is not like any atlas you remember.

Maps of America are what you'll find and make on nationalatlas.gov™. Maps of innovation and vision that illustrate our changing Nation. Maps that capture and depict the patterns, conditions, and trends of American life. Maps that supplement interesting articles. Maps that tell their own stories. Maps that cover all of the United States or just your area of interest. Maps that are accurate and reliable from more than 20 Federal organizations. Maps about America's people, heritage, and resources. Maps that will help you, your children, your colleagues, and your friends understand the United States and its place in the world.

This is nationalatlas.gov™, and it shows us where we are. It allows you to use your imagination and, by probing and questioning, to choose the facts that fit your needs as you explore the American story.


For more information on preceding editions of the National Atlas of the United States®, visit American Memory, a terrific service of the Library of Congress.

In 1874, as the United States prepared its centennial celebration, the first national atlas was published under the title "Statistical Atlas of the United States Based on the Results of the Ninth Census 1870." Francis A. Walker, the Superintendent of the ninth census, was given authority by Congress to compile an atlas "with contributions from many eminent men of science and several departments of the government."

This was the Federal Government's first use of a bound collection of maps and charts to characterize Americans and their land. In addition to population maps, this first atlas presented economic and natural resources maps, including forests, precious metals, coal, climate, and crops. This early work was improved upon by Henry Gannett, who served as the Chief Geographer of both theCensus Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). He oversaw the production of the next three census atlases. The last "Statistical Atlas" was based on the 1920 census.

The next atlas was published 50 years later in 1970. The USGS led in the preparation of "The National Atlas of the United States of America." It was an oversized, 12-pound, 400-page book containing a collection of 765 maps. The maps in this atlas presented scientific information from a variety of Federal sources and depicted the principal characteristics of the country, including its physical features, historical evolution, economic activities, sociocultural conditions, administrative subdivisions, and place in world affairs. The 1970 atlas was expressly designed for use by decision makers in government and business, planners, research scholars, and others needing to visualize country-wide patterns and relationships between environmental phenomena and human activities.

The Government printed 15,000 copies of the atlas. It was offered at a price of $100, which-though reasonable based on its value-made it beyond the purchasing reach of most Americans. Libraries and schools bought 65 percent of the 15,000, commercial firms purchased 18 percent, foreign purchases accounted for 3 percent, and individual consumers bought the remaining 14 percent of stock. The atlas quickly went out of print and has been unavailable for purchase since the early 1970s.

Nearly 30 years passed before Congress authorized the preparation of a new national atlas in 1997. Once again, the USGS was assigned to coordinate and lead the effort of more than 20 Federal agencies. Nationalatlas.gov™ is the new National Atlas of the United States®. Like its predecessor, this new atlas provides a comprehensive, maplike view into the enormous wealth of geospatial and geostatistical data collected for the United States. It is designed to enhance and extend our geographic knowledge and understanding and to foster national self-awareness.

Unlike the big bound map collection of 1970, the latest National Atlas includes electronic maps andservices that are delivered online. We are using information presentation, access, and delivery technologies that didn't exist 30 years ago to bring you a dynamic and interactive atlas. But we have held fast to our tradition of producing the finest maps in the world. We think nationalatlas.gov™ is more useful than any bound collection of paper maps. Tell us what you think.

Production of the National Atlas is led by the National Geospatial Program of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Record Dead Zone Forecast for Gulf of Mexico

By Conan Milner, Epoch Times | July 3, 2013

An oxygen-starved hypoxic zone, commonly called a dead zone and shown in red, forms each summer in the Gulf of Mexico. Fish and shellfish either leave the oxygen-depleted waters or die, resulting in losses to commercial and sports fisheries. (NOAA)

Imagine a lifeless, oxygen-deprived area in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey (as much as 8,500 square miles): that’s the record breaking forecast for this year’s dead zone.

While the size is remarkable, the phenomenon is not. Dead zones can occur naturally, but scientists have said that they are greatly enhanced by human activity. An annual consequence of modern agriculture, Gulf of Mexico dead zones are caused by fertilizer runoff and livestock waste swept down the Mississippi River.

Droughts from last year produced one of the smaller dead zones ever recorded (approximately 2,889 square miles). However, this year, record rainfall in the Midwest suggests to scientists that we could see a particularly sizable example.

“The size of the Gulf dead zone goes up and down depending on that particular year’s weather patterns. But the bottom line is that we will never reach the action plan’s goal of 1,950 square miles until more serious actions are taken to reduce the loss of Midwest fertilizers to the Mississippi River system, regardless of the weather,” said University of Michigan aquatic ecologist Donald Scavia in a statement.

Each spring as farmers fertilize the land to prepare for crop season, rain washes some fertilizer (rich in phosphorus and nitrogen) into streams and rivers, and 1.7 million tons of these nutrients are dumped into the Gulf of Mexico every year, causing single-celled phytoplankton to flourish.

Initially, these phytoplankton-dense areas teem with life, as fish and other sea animals feed on the abundance. But the resulting waste from the feeding frenzy produces an enormous amount of bacteria that destroys oxygen in the environment, resulting in a dead zone, a phenomenon scientists call coastal hypoxia.

Fortunately, the dead zone doesn’t last. As winds stir up the water with the arrival of fall, oxygen is restored to the area. But a large and lifeless hypoxic zone off the coast of Louisiana and Texas each summer still hurts commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coastal hypoxia is proliferating around the world. Despite a national goal to reduce the Gulf of Mexico dead zone to less than 2,000 square miles, NOAA reports that it has averaged 5,600 square miles over the last five years.

Scientists look to changes in a new farm bill to reduce agricultural runoff as the best means to shrink dead zones. No farm bill has passed so far this year, and the dead zone is one of many reasons that a bill is needed.

Record Dead Zone Forecast for Gulf of Mexico » The Epoch Times

Jul 18, 2013

Don't FRACK Our Future - Doreen's Story

Published on Jul 18, 2013

Unconventional gas exploration is threatening Britain and Ireland. Licenses and planning applications have already been granted by the Government with little or no community consultation. The scale of the industrialisation and impacts is never discussed.

This film charts Doreen and John's journey from the shock of the drill rigs arrival to the sickening realisation that their lives and the lives of their family and friends will be profoundly affected. They live in Lancashire within sight of a shale gas well that is scheduled for hydraulic fracturing.

Doreen, John and many others like them are realising that the only way to stop this industry is to inform and empower their community and stand together for a better future.

Saying "No" to unconventional gas opens up many alternatives. Saying "Yes" or doing nothing leaves us facing a future where we are still dependent on fossil fuels with polluted air and water, and thousands of leaking gas wells across the countryside.

Find out how this will affect you, your family and your community. Find out how you can take action to stop the industrialisation of the countryside, pollution of air and water and plan for a better future. You can make a difference. A strong well organised community is the best defence against this industry.

Check the map: http://frack-off.org.uk/locations/
Find out more: http://frack-off.org.uk/start-here/
Start a group in your area: http://frack-off.org.uk/local-group-s...

Animated by Dermot O Connor, http://www.incubatepictures.com
See Dermot's masterpiece (about growth and energy) "There's No Tomorrow" here: http://youtu.be/VOMWzjrRiBg and animation tutorials here: http://www.lynda.com/search?q=dermot&...
Foley & Music producer: Greg Ford, Greg Ford Company Inc.
Don't FRACK Our Future - Doreen's Story - YouTube

Beautiful. From 1973. Hate is learned.

Beautiful. From 1973. Hate is learned.

Hedges: We Must Grasp Reality to Build Effective Resistance - GREAT INTERVIEWS!

Published on Jul 18, 2013

Published on Jul 17, 2013

Published on Jul 16, 2013

"Rebellion and resistance itself is a moral imperative and even though empirically everything around us may appear to deteriorate it doesn't invalidate that act of resistance." - Chris Hedges

To see all 7 parts of this interview as they are released please go to http://therealnews.com

Hedges: We Must Grasp Reality to Build Effective Resistance - YouTube

Returns and Cash Rents given $4.80 Corn and $10.75 Soybean Prices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), with the midpoints of 2013/2014 price estimates being $4.80 per bushel for corn and $10.75 per bushel for soybeans. These prices are significantly below prices in recent years, suggesting that agricultural returns may be lower in 2013 and 2014. These lower returns then may lead to the need to re-evaluate cash rents. Herein, returns at a $4.80 corn price and a $10.75 soybean price are examined by calculating operator and farmland returns for three different farmland productivities. These returns then are compared to current cash rent levels.

Operator and Farmland Returns

Operator and farmland returns - equaling gross revenue minus non-land costs - represent the amount of return that can be split between a land owner and a farmer. Take an operator and land return of $350 per acre and a cash rent of $300 per acre. In this case, the farmer receives $50 per acre ($350 operator and land return - $300 cash rent). When cash rents exceed operator and land returns, the farmer faces losses.

As shown in Table 1, operator and land returns are calculated for three different farmland productivities: High, low, and lower. High and low productivities are based on yields and costs from central Illinois farms summarized by Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM). "Lower" productivity has corn and soybean yields below central Illinois averages summarized by FBFM.

For high productivity farmland, corn yield is expected to be 195 bushel per acre, resulting in $936 gross revenue given a $4.80 corn price. Subtracting $563 of non-land costs gives an operator and land return for corn of $373 per acre. Soybeans are expected to yield 56 bushels per acre, resulting in $602 of gross revenue at a $10.75 soybean price. Subtracting $350 of non-land costs from $602 gross revenue gives $252 of operator and land return for soybeans. Herein, two-thirds of the acres are assumed to be planted to corn and one-third to soybeans. This crop mix gives $333 of operator and land return per acre.

Operator and land returns are less for the remaining two land productivity classes. Low productivity farmland has a 183 bushel per acre corn yield and 53 bushels per acre soybean yield. Operator and land return for low productivity farmland is $291 per acre (See Table 1). Lower productivity farmland has 160 bushel per acre corn yield, a 50 bushel per acre soybean yield, and a $211 per acre cash rent.

Comparison to Recent Average Cash Rents

On April 9th, a farmdocdaily post released estimates of 2013 cash rents on professionally managed farmland based on a survey conducted by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (available here). The midpoint cash rent is $396 per acre for excellent qualify farmland with corn yield over 190 bushels. The $396 per acre cash rent is above the $333 operator and land return calculated above for high productivity farmland with a 195 bushels per acre expected corn yield.

The Illinois Society reports a 2013 midpoint cash rent of $339 per acre for farmland with corn yields between 170 and 190 bushels per acre. Low productivity farmland with a 183 bushel per acre yield has an operator and land return of $291 per acre (See Table 1). Similar to high productivity farmland, the current cash ret not $339 per acre is above the $291 per acre operator and farmland return.

The Illinois Society reported a 2013 midpoint cash rent of $285 per acre for farmland with expected yield between 150 and 170 bushel per acre. In the calculations above, lower productivity farmland with a 160 bushel per acre corn yield has $211 per acre of operator and land return (see Table 1). Similar to the higher productivity class, the $285 per acre cash rent exceeds the $211 operator and land return.

Professional farm managers tend to have above average cash rents. The USDA reports average cash rents by county (see this farmdocdaily article for a maphere). A number of these average cash rents are near the above calculated operator and land returns, particularly in central Illinois. For example, average cash rent is $324 per acre in Sangamon County, $326 in Macon County, $313 in Logan County. These averages are only slightly below the $333 per acre operator and land return for high productivity farmland. Given that there is a wide range of rents summarized in an average county cash rent, there likely are a large number of cash rents above the operator and land returns shown in Table 1.

Operator and Land Returns for Differing Prices

Price realizations greatly influence operator and land returns, as illustrated in Table 2. Take a $.40 increase in corn price from $4.80 to $5.20 and an $.80 per bushel increase in soybean price from $10.75 to $11.55. This results in a $67 per acre increase in operator and land return from $333 per acre to $400 per acre.

As price expectations change, returns will change as well. This then leads to a need to re-evaluate cash rents.


Price in the high $4.00 range for corn and high $10 range for soybeans are being projected for next year. Much more will be known about price levels once clearer expectations of 2013 corn and soybean yields are reached. If prices are in the high $4.00 range for corn and $10 range for soybeans, returns will be lower than in recent years. As a result, cash rent levels may need to be re-evaluated, particularly for situations in which the current cash rent is above average.

Issued by Gary Schnitkey
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
University of Illinois
farmdocdaily: Returns and Cash Rents given $4.80 Corn and $10.75 Soybean Prices

Farmers don’t believe in climate change, but maybe that’s OK. - Slate Magazine

And does it really matter whether they do?
By David Biello Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A calf drinks water on cracked ground at the Las Canoas dam in Nicaragua on April 26, 2013.
Photo by Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. On July 25, Future Tense will be hosting an event on agriculture’s role in climate change at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America Foundation website.

If it isn't torrential downpours, then it's too dry. If there's one thing U.S. farmers can count on, it's bad weather, and perhaps as a result, many of them don't think humanity is to blame for the long-term shifts in weather patterns known as climate change. But even though agriculture is a major contributor to global warming, it may not matter whether farmers believe in the environmental problem.

Take, as an example of skepticism, Iowa corn farmer Dave Miller, whose day job is as an economist for the Iowa Farm Bureau. As Miller is happy to explain, it's not that farmers in Iowa don't think climate change is happening; it's that they think it's always been happening and therefore is unlikely to have much to do with whatever us humans get up to down at ground level. Or, as the National Farm Bureau's spokesman Mace Thornton puts it: "We're not convinced that the climate change we're seeing is anthropogenic in origin. We don't think the science is there to show that in a convincing way." (Given the basic physics of CO2 capturing heat that have been known for more than a century and the ever-larger amounts of CO2 put into the atmosphere by human activity, it’s not clear what “science” he’s holding out for.) The numbers back that up: When Iowa State University sociologists polled nearly 5,000 Corn Belt farmers on climate change, 66 percent believed climate change is occurring, but only 41 percent believed humans bore any part of the blame for global warming.

It's not just the Corn Belt: Farmers across the country remain skeptical about climate change. When asked about it, they tell me about Mount Pinatubo and weird weather in the 1980s, when many of today's most established farmers were getting their starts. But mostly I hear about cycles in the weather, like the El Niño–La Niña cycle that drives big changes in North American weather. Maybe it's because farmers are uniquely exposed to bad weather, whether too hot or too cold. Almost any type of weather hurts some crop; the cereals want more rain, but the sweet potatoes like it hot and dry.

Year-to-year variability in the weather dwarfs any impact from a long-term shift in the climate. Consider this: A farmer in Iowa might deal with a 10-degree-Fahrenheit shift in average temperatures from year to year, so why worry about a 3- or even 4-degree shift over 100 years? As the old saying goes: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.

The long-term prediction for the Corn Belt in Iowa says that the weather will get hotter and drier—much like western Kansas is currently. Yet, over the decades of Miller's farming career, conditions have been increasingly wet. "If I had done what climate alarmists had said to do, I would have done exactly the wrong thing for 20 of the last 25 years," Miller says.

Miller doesn't speak for all farmers, of course, and there are few less monolithic constituencies. This is a group whose holdings range from a small farm in the Northeast following biodynamic principles to big agricultural outfits that count farmed land in square miles, not acres. A fifth-generation wheat farmer in Oregon, like Kevin McCullough, might say, "I think it's just normal swings in the weather." But an organic farmer in upstate New York who is the first in recent family history to work the land would say, "There is a scientific consensus that there is a change of climate even in light of the fluctuations that naturally occur."

The latter is my brother, Tim Biello, and part of why he got into farming in the first place was to do something hands-on about climate change. He wanted to farm with less fossil fuel and fertilizers by working with horses and to use locally available resources to provide food for his neighbors. But he also sympathizes with his big farming peers: "People who have to work for a living and make hard choices about using this or that feel like they are up against the wall when other people, who maybe are removed from work like farming, say this is good or bad."

Tim is not a random sample, of course. But big farmers certainly aren't skeptical about all science, particularly the kind of science that makes them money by improving yields. "Last year's drought was in many places as deep as it was in 1933, and yet we didn't see too many stories of blowing dirt storms," like in the "dirty '30s," notes former North Dakota farmer Roger Johnson, now head of the National Farmers Union.* Breeding and genetic modification have brought crops resistant to drought and flood, as well as insect pests. Also important are better tilling practices, such as leaving a cover crop or stubble to hold down the soil, which helped the dirt stay in place. Even in the depths of the 2012 droughts, the United States delivered an abundant harvest.

But the biggest change delivered by science to farming in the past century is the one my brother is working to reverse: the advent of fossil-fuel-powered machinery and fertilizer wrested from the air by chemistry. That, along with cutting down forests to make room for farms around the world, makes agriculture the second-largest cause of the greenhouse gas emissions changing the climate. There's methane from massive meat farms and manure lagoons. There's nitrous oxide—yes, the stuff used at the dentist’s office—seeping out of the soil thanks to all that nitrogen fertilizer, and it's no laughing matter since N2O is nearly 300 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a century.

Few would have to change their livelihoods as radically as American farmers if efforts to combat climate change became more serious. Maybe skepticism also flourishes because farmers tend to be more conservative, and denying climate change falls under the same political umbrella as, say, gun ownership. (According to Robert Carlson, who leads the World Farmers Organization, farmers in other countries are more likely to believe in climate change, and many feel they are already facing new weather extremes.)

But even if American farmers don’t believe in climate change, there are reasons for them to behave as if they do. The Agriculture Department has begun incorporating climate change into its projections and outreach, such as encouraging no-till practices where applicable. Oregon wheat farmer McCullough is following their advice to reduce tillage, which helps keep the soil from blowing away, like it used to do in his forefathers’ time, burying the farmhouse in silt that had to be shoveled out. He can now skip the three or four tilling passes in his tractor in favor of clearing a field with herbicides and then using an air drill that injects the wheat seed and fertilizer together.* "It's more fuel efficient," he says. Plus, the USDA also provides financial and technical assistance to those who adopt the new practices. "It's cheaper to farm that way, and you still get the same type of crop, if not a bit better."

The key to feeding 7 billion people in a post-climate-change world will be diversity of crops, which will help ensure resilience. To take the example of the farm my brother works, a dry year might see a better crop of sweet potatoes while a wet year promotes the growth of cereal crops. Weather is always changeable and unpredictable in the long term, which means a farmer must take good care of the soil so that the soil can take good care of the farmer when the weather turns challenging.

In other words, many American farmers—even those who would question whether climate change is man-made—are already doing exactly what efforts to combat climate change would require: precision agriculture to cut back on fossil fuel use, low or no-till farming,cover crops, biodigesters for animal waste, and the like. The key to reaching farmers is bringing them practices that improve their farms. "If you can help me deal with weather variability," Miller says, "I can probably adapt to climate variability."

"You've got so much to do anyway, trying to figure out rotations and moving animals and crops through and taking good care of your land and making enough money,” says my brother. “It's unclear what the point of talking about climate change would be." Or as I would put it: If many farmers are doing the right thing anyway, does it matter why?

Also in Future Tense's July series on agriculture and climate change: Michael Pollan explains the difference between "sun food" and "oil food," and Frederick Kaufman explores the potential of open-source GMOs.

Correction, July 16, 2013: This article originally gave an incorrect first name for the head of the National Farmers Union. He is Roger Johnson, not Robert Johnson. The piece also stated that farmer Kevin McCullough uses a combine for tilling. He uses a tractor.

Farmers don’t believe in climate change, but maybe that’s OK. - Slate Magazine

Millions Against Monsanto: On the Road to Victory

By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, July 18, 2013

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

“ The harder they come the harder they fall, one and all.”

Jimmy Cliff, reggae classic

After enjoying a year of maximum profits, record stock prices, the defeat of a major GMO labeling campaign in California, pro-industry court decisions, and a formidable display of political power in Washington, D.C. – including slipping the controversial Monsanto Protection Act into the Federal Appropriations bill in March - the Biotech Bully from St. Louis now finds itself on the defensive.

It is no exaggeration to say that Monsanto has now become the most hated corporation in the world.

Plagued by a growing army of Roundup-resistant superweeds and Bt-resistant superpests spreading across the country, a full 49 percent of American farmers are now frantically trying to kill these superweeds and pests with ever-larger quantities of toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides including glyphosate (Roundup), glufosinate, 2,4D (“Agent Orange’), dicamba, and neonicotinoids (insecticides linked to massive deaths of honey bees).

Reacting to this dangerous escalation of chemical farming, toxic residues on foods and environmental pollution, over a million consumers and organic farmers have pressed the Obama administration to reject a new generation of GE “Agent Orange” and dicamba-resistant crops, forcing the USDA to postpone commercialization of these crops, at least temporarily.

According to the trade press thousands of U.S. farmers, as well as farmers worldwide, are moving away from biotech crops and searching for non-GMO (genetically modified organism) alternatives. At the same time U.S. and global market demand for non-GMO organic foods and crops is steadily increasing.

Compounding Monsanto’s superweed and superpest problems, scientific evidence continues to mount www.earthopensource.org that GMO feed and foods, laced with Bt toxins and contaminated with ever-increasing residues of Monsanto’s deadly weedkiller, Roundup, are severely damaging animal and human health.

As the June 24, 2013 issue of Green Medical News puts it:

“ . . . within the scientific community and educated public alike, there is a growing awareness thatRoundup herbicide , and its primary ingredient glyphosate, is actually a broad spectrumbiocide , in the etymological sense of the word: "bio" (life) and "cide" (kill) – that is, it broadly, without discrimination kills living things, not just plants. Moreover, it does not rapidly biodegrade as widely claimed, and exceedingly small amounts of this chemical – in concentration ranges found in recently sampled rain, air, groundwater, and human urine samples – have DNA-damaging and cancer cell proliferation stimulating effects.”

On May 25, two million people from 436 cities, in 52 countries, on six continents took to the streets in a global “March Against Monsanto.” From New York to New Delhi, protestors reaffirmed their determination not only to force the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, as has already been accomplished in the European Union, India and at least 36 other nations, but also to drive all GMOs off the market. That includes GMOs in human food, animal feed, cotton, nutritional supplements, body care products, and GMO cotton and soy biofuels.

The same week as the global March Against Monsanto, the New York Times reported that U.S. food companies, “large and small” are starting to make arrangements to reformulate the ingredients in their processed foods and reorganize their supply lines so to avoid having to admit that their brand name products contain GMOs. Monsanto and its Junk Food allies recognize that if the Washington State ballot initiative on mandatory GMO labeling passes on November 5, which now appears likely, their ability to keep food consumers in the dark will be over.

Large processed food and beverage companies, such as Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Unilever, Dean Foods, Wal-Mart and others understand that once labeling is required in one strategic state, such as Washington, they will be forced to label in all 50 states.

The anti-GMO movement in the U.S. has identified Monsanto’s Achilles heel—GMO food labeling at the state level—and has begun to achieve some preliminary victories, both in the marketplace and in the legislative arena. For example, Whole Foods Market and dozens of natural food stores and co-ops, along with restaurants like Chipotle, are, or are planning to, voluntarily label GMOs. And Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO labeling laws.

Our common task now must be to win the all-important Washington State ballot initiative. This will require a tremendous fundraising effort and netroots-grassroots get-out-the-vote effort. If you have not already made a donation to this effort, please do so now. If you would like to volunteer, sign up here.

Monsanto’s Minions React

The food industry knows it will be difficult to stop voters in Washington State from bypassing the politicians and the federal government and directly voting into law a mandatory GMO food labeling initiative on November 5. So the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is circling the wagons. Claiming that pro-labeling consumers have created “an unprecedented period of turmoil” for the food industry, the GMA convened a meeting, on July 10, in Washington D.C., of large food manufactures and supermarkets. Their agenda? Figure out how to co-opt and neutralize the growing anti-GMO movement.

One of the strategies apparently being put forth by members of the GMA is to ask the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to step in and formulate watered-down federal rules on GMO food labeling. The GMA would like weak labeling laws, similar to those in Japan and other nations, that would contain loopholes, high tolerances and weak enforcement, coupled with a lengthy implementation period, so as to preempt strict state labeling requirements and deflate the growing GMO-Right to Know movement.

On the international level, Monsanto and Big Food, joined by other large corporations concerned about the growing grassroots power of consumer, environmental, and Fair Trade networks, are lobbying for fast track passage of new secretly negotiated Free Trade Agreements, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), popularly known as “TAFTA,” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both TAFTA and TPP are basically supercharged versions of the highly unpopular NAFTA and WTO trade agreements.

These “forced trade” agreements would, among other things, lower standards on food safety and environmental protection, including taking away the rights of nations and states to require strict GMO food labeling and safety-testing. Provisions in these trade agreements would allow corporations to sue a nation if pro-consumer or environmental laws interfered with their trade and “expected profits.” Judgments and penalties would be determined by secret trade tribunals, with corporate lawyers serving as judges. Under the TAFTA/TPP regime, the U.S. and other countries would be required to hand over national sovereignty to foreign investors and multinational corporations.

So even as we mobilize for strategic GMO right-to-know victories in Washington, Vermont and other states, we must simultaneously mobilize the public to fight against federal preemption on GMO labeling, and stop the next generation of these secret Forced Trade agreements.

GMO Food Labeling: Just the First Step

Passing I-522, Washington State’s GMO labeling initiative, is a necessary first step toward honest labeling of GMO ingredients in the U.S. But Monsanto has survived mandatory food labeling in the EU and scores of other nations. The biotech giant will likely survive strict labeling requirements by U.S. states, too. What Monsanto can’t survive is mass awareness and rejection of all GMOs, especially GMO cotton and GMO animal feed on factory farms. A successful global boycott of factory-farmed meat and animal products and GMO-tainted cotton, combined with GMO food labeling, will literally drive genetic engineering out of the marketplace.

Eighty percent of all processed foods in the U.S. contain GMOs. Yet if we examine the entire global production and consumption cycle of GMOs, we learn that only 20 percent of GMOs gown worldwide go into human food. The other 80 percent end up in animal feed, cotton production, biofuels, body care products, and nutritional supplements.

Even in Europe, where GE foods are rarely sold in grocery stores or restaurants, several billion dollars worth of GE animal feed from North America, Brazil and Argentina are imported every year. Although EU consumers have forced voluntary labeling of GMO-fed non-organic meat and animal products in Germany, France and Austria, and in large chains throughout Europe, there is no mandatory GMO animal feed labeling law in the EU. India is the only major country up until now that requires labels on GMO animal feed. No country yet requires labels on GMO cotton clothing, nutritional supplements, body care products or biofuels.

Almost half of Monsanto’s profits now derive from its sales outside the U.S., especially GMO crops for animal feed. So if we’re serious about turning back the biotech threat, and building up an alternative food and farming system that is organic, local, climate-friendly and humane, we need to strengthen our international solidarity and cooperation as well as our domestic efforts. Once we take into account the full scope of agricultural biotechnology and its myriad products, we can position ourselves for the next stage of the battle: a comprehensive and global anti-GMO offensive, strategically targeting the entire GMO food, fiber, fuel, supplements and body care industry where they are most vulnerable. This Great GMO Boycott and GMO Right to Know mobilization will require a broader coalition, both domestically and internationally, and an unprecedented mass education effort around the role of GMOs and factory farms in exacerbating our health, environmental, animal welfare and climate crisis.

All Out for Washington State Nov. 5

But first things first. The consumer, farmer and fishing community insurgency that frightens Monsanto and its allies the most is the upcoming ballot initiative (I-522) in Washington State on Nov. 5. As Monsanto and its allies, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) understand, this is the most crucial battle against GMOs today. If voters pass mandatory labeling in Washington, reinforced by contingent state labeling laws already passed or in progress in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont, it will mean the end of the road for genetically engineered food in U.S. grocery stores.

As the biotech lobby has readily admitted, GMO food labeling is a “skull and crossbones” that will drive genetically engineered foods off the market in the U.S. and North America. As evidenced by marketplace trends in Europe, the largest agricultural market in the world, once GMOs are labeled, consumers will not buy them, food companies and grocery stores will not sell them, and farmers will not grow them. This is why Monsanto and Big Food corporations—hiding behind the façade of their trade association, the GMA—will likely pour up to $20 million into defeating I-522. Pro-labeling forces currently have a commanding lead in the polls in Washington. But we need to raise at least $4 million more (to augment the four million dollars we’ve raised already) to buy enough TV and radio time to counter the forthcoming flood of lies that Monsanto and its minions will launch in Washington State. We already know what those lies will look like: Labeling will raise food prices, hurt family farmers and confuse consumers.

The Road to Victory means building up our war chest in Washington State for the Nov. 5 ballot initiative. Please spread the word. This is the most important food and farming battle in the world today. If you haven’t already made a donation to the Yes on I-522 campaign please do so now.
Millions Against Monsanto: On the Road to Victory

Jul 17, 2013

Shaving Horse | Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes

Full Blog Post ---> shaving horse | Peter Follansbee, joiner's notes

Gary Kunath: "Mastering Life Balance", Talks at Google - YouTube

Published on Jul 17, 2013

"Gary Kunath visits Google's Mountain View, CA, headquarters to discuss his book, ""Life Don't Miss It."" This event took place on June 27, 2013, as part of the Authors@Google series.

This presentation centers on elevating employee well being and helping people maximize the joy and contentment in their lives so they can a great home life and a great work life. Recent research shows that 70% of employees today would sacrifice pay increases and promotions for family well being. People are overwhelmed by the complexities of their own lives. Instead of employers recognizing this and bringing humanity back to the business and serving as a source of relief, they often compound the issues by adding more complexity to their peoples' lives."

http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1599322692  Amazon Book

Gary Kunath: "Mastering Life Balance", Talks at Google - YouTube

Preserving the Tastes of Summer

Sure, you want to put up some of your harvest so you can enjoy it all winter long. But you don’t want to spend the last of the summer indoors, laboring in the kitchen. The solution? Freeze and dry your bounty. Both methods are easier (and cooler) than canning. Here’s the scoop, crop by crop.

Before freezing, remove the tomato skins. Immerse your fresh tomatoes in boiling water until the skins crack, then plunge the fruits into very cold water for another minute. Take them out, peel off the skin, and pack them whole or quartered in plastic freezer containers.

A faster method is to freeze whole, unpeeled tomatoes. When you’re ready to use them, put the frozen bag under hot water briefly, until you can remove the tomatoes. Then stick the tomatoes under the hot water for a few more seconds to loosen the skin, which will easily peel off.

Dehydration removes all that messy water and leaves you with pure tomato flavor. And almost any kind of tomato—even cherry types—dries into a sweet, chewy chip. Some people say that meaty paste tomatoes work best for drying, but others prefer to dry the big, sweet beefsteak types.

Cut slices about 1⁄2 inch thick (cut cherry tomatoes in half) and set the slices on the dehydrator trays. Don’t let the pieces touch. Most machines will dry them in about 4 hours, but many people let them go overnight (they’re done when the pieces are leathery and flat). You can store them in tightly lidded jars or put them in bags in the freezer. After drying, a bushel of tomatoes takes up very little space. (To keep the dehydrator from heating up your house, run it outdoors in a sheltered area.)

To get a taste of summer sweetness in the middle of winter, freeze some of your corn. First, blanch the ears by boiling them for 3 to 4 minutes. Plunge the blanched ears into cold water. After the ears have cooled, scrape the kernels off the cob. Put meal-size portions of the cut kernels into plastic freezer bags. You can eat the corn lightly steamed, right out of the freezer (don't defrost it before cooking it). If you prefer your winter corn on the cob, blanch the fresh ears for 6 minutes, then freeze the whole ears. When you're ready to serve them, just steam the frozen ears for another 6 minutes.

Peppers (both hot and sweet) freeze beautifully without blanching. Just chop or slice them, freeze the pieces on a cookie sheet until they’re solid, and then transfer the pieces to plastic freezer bags. When you’re cooking, just scoop out what you need.

Thin-fleshed peppers will dry outside, hung on a string or set on a screen lined with brown paper in an airy, shady spot, as long as your weather is still hot and dry. (Cover the peppers with cheesecloth to keep off insects.) Thick-fleshed peppers require a food dehydrator. Small, hot peppers will dry just fine whole, but larger, thicker peppers should be cut into 1⁄2-inch slices. They’re dry when the skin becomes papery or crackly when you touch it. Store them in jars with tight lids. Mix your dried peppers into winter chili, stir-fries, and other dishes in need of a little punch. Or grind some of the dried peppers (hot or sweet) in a blender or food processor. Use the flakes as a shake-on seasoning.

Prompt freezing will well preserve your homegrown beans’ vitamin content. The key to successful bean freezing is carefully timed blanching. First, bring your water to a rolling boil. Then add no more beans than the water will take and still remain boiling. After 3 minutes (not a moment more, or they’ll be limp when they come out of the freezer), remove the beans and immerse them in ice water. When they’re cool, blot dry and pack into meal-size portions in plastic freezer bags.

Like beans, peas should be frozen quickly after harvesting. Blanch shelled peas for 1 1⁄2 minutes and sugar snaps and snow peas for 2 1⁄2 minutes—not any longer, or they’ll be mushy when you cook them later. Cool them in ice water, blot them dry, and then store them in freezer bags. Don’t defrost them before cooking.

Shelled peas are easy to dry. Use dried peas in soups and stews. Forget about drying the edible-podded ones; they'll lose their crispness and become chewy and pulpy.

Freeze a few cukes at the end of the season to use later in chilled soups or for a cool summer drink. Peel the cukes, chop them into chunks, drop them into plastic bags and put the bags in the freezer. For a thick off-season slushie, puree the frozen cucumber chunks along with a splash of fruit juice, a few chunks of frozen melon, some honey, and a pinch of pineapple sage.

If your region has mild winters, the best way to keep your carrots is to leave them in the garden under mulch until you’re ready to use them. In colder regions, pull up your carrots before a hard frost sets in and freeze them (sliced or diced) after 2 minutes of blanching. Besides using the carrots as a cooked vegetable, you can use them in muffins and cakes. For these baking uses, first grate the carrots, then give them a quick dip in boiling water. Freeze the grated carrots in recipe-size portions.

You can dry sliced carrots into chips. You can either eat the chips or grind them into flakes. The flakes add sweetness to stews and soups.

Firm, pungent storage onions will keep for months in a cool, dry basement, and even longer in a root cellar. But Vidalias and other sweet, mild onions don’t store well. To preserve their goodness, just chop them up and freeze them in plastic containers.

You can also dry 1⁄2-inch-thick onion slices in a dehydrator, then grind the dried slices into flakes or powder to use as a seasoning.

Freezing preserves broccoli’s taste, texture, and nutrients. Cut up the heads into small florets so the pieces blanch uniformly. Blanch cut-up florets and little side shoots only for a minute before freezing. Cool the blanched broccoli, then pack it into plastic bags and freeze.

Many pumpkins will store until spring in an ordinary cool basement. You can also cook the pumpkins, then freeze the cooked flesh in plastic freezer bags. Cooking pumpkin is simple: Just cut it in half, remove the seeds, put the halves cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake at 350ºF for 20 to 40 minutes (it’s done when the skin begins to turn brown and you can easily push a fork through it).

Scoop the flesh out of the skin and either puree it or just mash it up with a fork. You can spice some of it with cinnamon, allspice, and apple juice concentrate before freezing. Then it will be ready to make into a pie later.) Pack the cooked pumpkin in plastic freezer bags in 1 or 2 cup quantities—that makes it easy to use in recipes later.

Summer Squash and Zucchini
Tender summer squash and zucchini get mushy in the freezer. So puree yellow and green summer squash in your blender or food processor, then freeze the puree to use in cakes, breads, and soups.

Dried zucchini chips are great with sandwiches or dips. Before drying, slice them into 1⁄4-inch-thick rounds and quick-blanch them (just a few seconds in boiling water). Then dry the rounds overnight in the dehydrator. They're ready when they snap in half when bent.

Coat slices of fresh cut eggplant with an egg-and-bread-crumb mixture, bake until almost tender, let them cool, and then freeze them in plastic bags. You can use these breaded slices as a kind of crust for pizza—top them with dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, and cheese and then bake until the eggplant is crisp and the cheese is melted.

Strawberries are highly perishable, so preserve them quickly when they’re at their peak. Let the berries freeze solid on a baking sheet, then move them into plastic bags. You can also crush, puree, and freeze them. Thaw, then pour this supersweet treat into punch or over desserts.

For chocolate-covered strawberries, slice a big batch of fresh strawberries, roll the slices in a powdered instant hot chocolate mix, then dry them overnight. Delicious!

Watermelon and Cantaloupe
Freeze chunks of watermelon or cantaloupe. For a thirst-quenching slushie, simply puree the frozen chunks. (If you’re using cantaloupe, you may want to add lemon juice or honey.) Or puree fresh watermelon, then freeze the puree in ice cube trays to add to cool drinks later on.

Better yet, cut the melon flesh into long, thin slivers and dry them. With the water evaporated, you get a fruit-leather-like sticky, chewy candy. But don't cut the slivers any thinner than 1⁄2 inch or so, or you won't get them unstuck from the dehydrator trays.

Ripe berries don’t last long, so put any excess into long-term storage when they’re fresh from the garden. Freeze unwashed berries on a baking sheet. When they’re firm, pack them into freezer containers to use later in desserts. Or simply fill the blender with berries, puree, and then freeze the puree in plastic containers. For a very special cake, add a pint of puree to chocolate cake batter.

Raspberries also dry very well. Just a few hours in the dehydrator and they're ready to put into tightly sealed jars or in a bag in the freezer.

Blueberries are a snap to freeze. Pick out any bruised or not quite ripe berries, remove the stems, and rinse gently with water. Put the best berries into a freezer container. They’re great on cereal, thawed or frozen, and excellent on ice cream.

Peaches and Nectarines
Sliced or halved peaches and nectarines are a snap to freeze. Remove the skin, dip the slices in ascorbic acid solution or citrus juice to preserve their color, and then freeze them in sweet syrup. The sugar acts as a preservative and helps them hold their texture. (But you can eliminate the sugar solution, if you'd prefer.)

Both fruits also dry well in the dehydrator. Just be sure to dip the cut pieces in citrus juice or honey first to preserve their color. Or puree either fruit with honey or pineapple, then dry the puree into a fruit leather using a special insert available for your dehydrator tray. Kids love it!
Source URL: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/preserving-tastes-summer

Preserving the Tastes of Summer

A Bodger at Work - YouTube

Published on Jul 17, 2013

The Amberley Bodger shows how to use a traditional pole lathe to create garden dibbers, chair legs, spindles and spurtles using green wood in his workshop at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre.

A Bodger at Work - YouTube

Jul 16, 2013

Bush-Cheney began illegal NSA spying before 9/11, says telcom CEO

Jun 17, 2013 in World

Contradicting a statement by ex-vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday that warrantless domestic surveillance might have prevented 9/11, 2007 court records indicate that the Bush-Cheney administration began such surveillance at least 7 months prior to 9/11.

The Bush administration bypassed the law requiring such actions to be authorized by FISA court warrants, the body set up in the Seventies to oversee Executive Branch spying powers after abuses by Richard Nixon. Former QWest CEO John Nacchios said that at a meeting with the NSA on February 27, 2001, he and other QWest officials declined to participate. AT&T, Verizon and Bellsouth all agreed to shunt customer communications records to an NSA database.
In 2007 the Denver Post reported:
"Nacchio suggested that the NSA sought phone, Internet and other customer records from Qwest in early 2001. When he refused to hand over the information, the agency retaliated by not granting lucrative contracts to the Denver-based company, he claimed."

Other sources corroborate the former CEO's allegations, which were made in the course of his legal defense against insider trading charges. Both Slate.com and National Journal have published reports in which sources are quoted which support the former CEO's claims.

Speaking on “FOX News Sunday" this weekend in defense of the Obama administration's NSA PRISM program, which has caused a national uproar over the sweeping intrusion by the government into American citizens' emails, live chats, and other electronic communications, Cheney said:

“Now, as everybody has been associated with the program said if we had this before 9/11, when there were two terrorists in San Diego, two hijackers, able to use that program, that capability against the target, we might have been able to prevent 9/11,”

However, the presence of such powers in the hands of the present administration did not succeed in preventing the Boston Marathon attacks, even though the suspects were already well-known to the FBI, and one allegedly told law enforcement, while in the hospital, that they were able to "download plans for pressure cooker bombs from the Internet.

In the same interview on "Fox news Sunday" Cheney called NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a "traitor."
In 2004, an AT&T technician filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T for engaging in an illegal domestic-surveillance program at the behest of the government. The Bush administration accessed major routers owned by telecommunications companies, in cities such as San Francisco, to divert traffic onto NSA mirror sites in order to capture vast volumes of data.

The Bush-Cheney administration fought fiercely to pass legislation which granted telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for violating Americans' Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution. The legislation was passed in 2008. UK Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald argued that the unprecedented "retroactive" immunity would also give the Bush administration immunity as well, by preventing lawsuits from moving forward into the discovery phase, where wrongdoing was likely to be uncovered.
Nevertheless, political accountability activists continue to press for action against the Bush, and now the Obama, administrations for violations of the Constitution and settled law. On April 19th of this year a California attorney, Inder Comar, filed two lawsuits in the Northern District of California against George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz for planning and waging a “war of aggression” against Iraq, in violation of laws set down at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. A radio interview of Comar can be heard on peace activist Cindy Sheehan's radio show HERE.

Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/352455#ixzz2ZC6zW96n

Bush-Cheney began illegal NSA spying before 9/11, says telcom CEO