Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Not All Permaculture is Food - Overstory Trees

This is the first post in a series that attempts to think outside the box on what a profitable permaculture farm looks like by looking at products that can still be profitable, but aren't food. This is not intended for people that are just starting out in permaculture, but for people who are already reasonably versed. Of course, everyone can get something out of this...just know that if you get confused by the language or terms used, you might need to do a little research or better yet, ask some questions in the comments below.

The first thing I'd like to cover is large non-food producing over-story trees. The market for such products is largely for high quality timber but there are other products. Farmers don't usually have a retirement program. How do you plan for the end of your life when you draw income from your own labor? What about building a biological savings account? As a design-tool it obviously shouldn't be viewed one-dimensionally. In stacking functions, a slow growing large canopy shade tree could be used in paddocks near your watering station in hot dry summer climates, such as Colorado. These large trees provide deep shade in the summer and clear the canopy for winter. Taking advantage of this, you can keep a building cool in summer and not block solar gain in the winter. This is important in a state like Colorado that has such extreme seasonal temperature difference. Planting these trees specifically for harvesting high quality timber in 15-30 years is investing in your own or you children's future. Many could be harvested 5-10 years before retirement and stacked to naturally age. This wood brings a much higher premium as it's much easier to work than kiln-dried wood as the lignins have time to break down. Most species could be treated as a coppice, meaning future generations can still enjoy the trees.

There is also a whole other subset of large over-story trees, I will cover, that can be used to harvest sweet syrups. This is still a food product but still fits the planning for the long term future outlined in this post.

So, now I'm going to give some example species and their many other uses. Don't take these as the definitive work, they are just species I've studied for my own research. I'm sure many other species could be used for this function.

Alder - Alders are nitrogen fixers, can be tapped for syrup, some produce edible catkins and the wood is highly prized for the solid body instruments.
Alder Tongue

 Western Soapberry - It's a workable hardwood. It's unpalatable to livestock making it usable in a paddock, it's fruit contains 37% soponins and is used as a laundry detergent substitute.
P102 Western Soapberry Tree (Sapindus saponaria var drummondii)

Black Gum - Flowers are great bee forage, it propagates easily from seed, very tough wood commonly used for making mauls and hammers.
Black Gum Tree

Maples - Can be tapped for syrup at 30-40 years of age, desirable wood that propagates well from seed.
Cincinnati - Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum "Suger Maple"

Birch - Can be tapped for syrup, desirable wood and propagates well from seed.
Birches

Orange Osage - Produces edible seeds, it's prized by bow makers and instrument makers alike. Bark can produce a natural yellow dye.
osage orange

Black Walnut - A prized wood especially when air dried, edible nut, husks produce a natural ink and dye.
Cluster of Black Walnut fruit

Oak - Edible nut, prized wood, white oak is used for basket weaving.
From Little Acorns Do Mighty Oak Trees Grow
As a wood carver and wood worker myself, I can tell you that most hardwood species can be turned into beautiful, sell-able art.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wellness Program

This post is a continuation of the post "Dreaming Big". Please read that to get the context behind this post.

This post is longer than most of my others, but I promise you will get something out of it. So, if you normally avoid longer articles, I encourage you to break the habit and take your time on this one.

I didn't fully realize, until I was an adult, how much I struggle with anxiety. I just wasn't self aware enough to put my finger on the constant, grinding insecurity I felt nearly all the time. I didn't understand that certain things triggered it. I didn't understand that it could be controlled. When I was a teen, my anxiety reached the point of throwing up regularly and was told by a Doctor to take a Tai Chi class and listen to some relaxation tapes. I didn't find the Tai Chi very helpful, but the relaxation tapes helped a lot. Over the years I've built up an arsenal of things to help me combat my anxiety. This last year has given me a lot of growth and understanding of my stress. I stumbled upon an article discussing research that seems to indicate people with an A blood type (the type I have) are more susceptible to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This isn't the magic bullet to solving all my stress, but it lead me to more strategies for dealing with cortisol levels. I would absolutely love to incorporate as many of the following into the farm. Call it an agro-tourism meets relaxation retreat.

Meditation - I'm not really sure I even enjoy meditation, but it works. In fact, when my anxiety is spiraling out of control, it's often the one thing that I can count on to put the breaks on enough for other things to be effective. I personally use a Buddhist mediation app for my phone. I find that I need to occupy my mind with a combination of sound, breathing and a phrase for it to work consistently. The app provides a timed meditation, a pleasant phrase and has a ringing bell sound (actually little finger cymbals) that helps keep my mind focusing on relaxing. It's hard to describe the feeling of achieving good meditation. Some studies have said monks are able to, on command, produce brain activity similar to experiencing love. If I'm having trouble slipping into relaxation during a session, I will spend some time thinking about the people I love most to get me over the edge. Here is a great article from The Atlantic on the science of meditation and it's many health benefits.

Deep Breathing - Part of my anxiety leads to a pounding sensation in my chest and likely linked to sporadic high blood pressure for me. I've found that deep breathing can really help reduce this feeling and actually lower my blood pressure. This personal discovery also happens to be backed up with some great science and I'd recommend it to just about anyone (not just people suffering from anxiety) as a way to calm the body down. It's simpler than you think. Breathe in for four counts and out for eight. That's it.

Autogenic Training - I didn't know what it was called at the time, but the tape I was told to get at the pharmacy by the doctor was a guided relaxation called Autogenic Training. A calm voice guides you through concentrating on relaxing each part of your body one at a time. If I'm wound up to the point of nervous break down, this works to bring me back to base line. I, now, mostly rely on this for nights when I just can't fall a sleep. Here is a great free Relaxation MP3 that is Creative Commons and on Archive.org.

Yoga - If I go to a class, I'm often the only male there and if there are other males, they are young and lean. Yes, I feel awkward. Yes, I feel fat. Yes, I still do it. More often than not, I just do yoga to a  video I found on Netflix once and haven't found any that I like better. It's not on Netfilx any more but it's available to stream using amazon prime. The yoga itself is relaxing, but the cool down at the end is the payoff for me. After all that stretching and moving, there is a short, guided relaxation that just sends me to nirvana. Yoga tends to have longer lasting effects on my mood than other things. I need to do it more often than I do. Here is a study showing how yoga reduces the production of stress hormones in the body.

Massage - For around 5 years now I've had a membership to Massage Envy and have made full use of it. I'm not endorsing their business, but I will endorse massage. Because of how my stress manifests itself physically, I get tension knots in my neck back and shoulders. I prefer deep tissue massage in longer sessions. Not only is it relaxing, it's essential for me to keep on top of my tension pain. The positive benefits of massage have been well researched and there are very few risks. This is a fantastic article from the University of Maryland Medical Center about massage.

Sauna - One of the most traditional techniques for relaxation and physical recovery is the sauna. In the Finnish culture, in fact, it's a way of life where virtually every home has it's own sauna. The Romans made extensive use of baths that included a Caldarium, similar to modern public saunas. The positive effects of saunas have been confirmed using modern science. One of my favorite health experts Dr. Rhonda Patrick recently covered the benefits of sauna use in this mind blowing video along with her article that includes links to the source studies. 

Float Tank - I had heard of float tanks more than a few times over the years, but the person who really made me want to try it, and a surprisingly large amount of other people too, was Joe Rogan on his podcast. I've been to The Healing Waters Float Studio three times now and I plan on going back at least a few times every year, if not more. Their sessions begin with an inversion table coupled with binaural beats (see below), then an hour session in the float tank. The inversion table is a great pre-stretch for your spine to aid relaxation when floating. If you've tried meditation before and did achieve relaxation, give it another try in a float tank. I've never had any out of body experiences or hallucinations that some people report. I just find the neutral floating position alleviates any muscle strain. The darkness and quietness clears distraction and the warmth is very relaxing. I've done it where I just let my mind wander and didn't get as much out of it as I did when I actively tried meditation. After an hour of meditative rest in the tank, I feel like I can take on anything. It's an amazing feeling. It's like a reset button that wipes the slate clean. Flotation REST has been well studied and proven a powerful tool for relaxation. This is a great article on the subject. Also, there is some research on the ability to absorb magnesium through the skin.

Binaural Beats -This might be the most obscure of the techniques and the one I was most skeptical about. Unfortunately, similar to the flotation therapies, there is a lot of over-hyping of effects. Results  such as pain reduction, lucid dreaming, hallucination and increased learning are often promised. I haven't experienced any of those. What I find is that creeping stress at work while I'm at a computer can be alleviated by listening to binaural beats under the podcasts I normally listen to. I don't find it's as impactful as the other techniques but it's something I can do while too busy doing other things. It gets me through till I can try something else. There is scientific research on the positive effects of binaural beats, so don't think it's all hogwash.

Art - Everything else I've mentioned I've posted research for. I could find a bunch of studies proving creating or experiencing art helps manage stress, but if you don't believe it all ready, then you've never tried it. I've used creating music, more than anything else in my life, to manage stress but I've also used drawing, calligraphy, carving, DIY projects. sewing and cooking. They all help and I have a blast doing them. If you aren't the creative type you can still enjoy others art. Listen to music, visit the art museum and galleries, or go to a live theater performance. Art is almost universal in having a positive impact. So, just keep it in mind when you are stressed that you might just need to unplug and experience some art to get back to baseline.

Exercise - Look, we all know that exercise is good for you. It's important. The best exercise is the one you will actually do. So stop saying you will do it and just do it all ready. OK, in a more practical sense, I encourage you to think outside the box. Many of the things you do everyday could also be exercise. Maybe just doing something manually, that is normally done by a machine, could provide you with some regular exercise and save you money.

Diet - I subscribe to the, eat more of the good things and less of the bad things diet with as much diversity as I can. The only point I want to make here is to list some things that help reduce stress hormones in your body and thus aid in dealing with stress: Food high in magnesium such as leafy green vegetables. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as nuts and fatty fish. Foods high in zinc such as pot roast, short ribs, oysters and green-beans. Foods high in antioxidants such as dark chocolate, black tea and fresh fruits...especially berries.

Supplementation - do some research and talk to your doctor about low gaba and it's effects on your mind and body. If you suffer from low gaba, there is a supplement that can help. Passion Flower or Maypop extract was shown in a 2001 study to be as effective as oxazepam (a benzodiazepine) in treating general anxiety disorder with very low to no side effects. A wider trial would need to be completed to confirm the results scientifically. I've been taking it recently and was able to pull out of a severe bout with anxiety but that's an anecdote not science.

Final disclaimer: I'm not telling you to rush out and try all these things...these are just the things I find that work for me and things I want to incorporate into the farm. Use this advice at your own risk!

Please, leave some feedback, I always love getting feedback.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cast Iron Cookware

I have a personal affinity for cast iron cookware that predates any of my farm aspirations. I've been using it for years and I wanted to share some of my tips for using cast iron.

Why cast iron?

  • Cost - It's cheap...not dollar store cheap, but cheap enough that the average person can pick up a good cast iron skillet for under $30 dollars.
  • Durability - A cast iron pan will outlive you, it will outlive your kids, it will outlive your grand-kids. Unless you smash it or bury it in the yard, it will pretty much last forever. Even if you burn the hell out of it on the stove, you can restore it to usable.
  • Safety -  Aluminum and non-stick pans have safety issues where unhealthy compounds can leak into your food...cast iron and stainless steel do not. If you want to read-up more on the health risks of different cookware materials I suggest you check out this article on WH Foods (one of my favorite sites) for more info.
  • Performance. Cast iron pans heat evenly and retain the heat after adding food to it. Food cooks more even and gets a better char or browning on it than in other pans. Since it's safe to use metal utensils with it, you can get rid of those awful plastic utensils.
  • Cleanup - Yes, there are different do's and don'ts with cast iron for cleaning (compared to other cookware), but as long as you take good care of your pans and don't burn things on the bottom you can just wipe the pan out with a clean towel and call it good.
  • Environmental Impact - Iron is abundant, so cast iron cookware isn't made of any exotic materials mined in a conflict zone by slave labor...it's end of life is to just oxidize into it's base minerals so there is no worry of it damaging the earth after humans have left the planet.
  • Versatility - I use my cast iron in the oven, on the stove, on a grill, on a campfire, & over a propane burner. You don't have to baby the pans. You can get your money's worth out of them. Use and abuse them and they'll not only take it, but beg for more.

Where do you get cast iron?

New

Cast iron pans are available new at most grocery stores, department stores, army surplus and Cracker Barrel restaurants. You can also get them online and there are plenty that can be ordered with Amazon Prime, to save on shipping something so heavy.

Lodge is the most popular and commonly carried brand out there. In fact, you might be hard pressed to find any other brand. They make good pans. Most of the cast iron I personally own are Lodge brand.

Used

Cast iron is what your great grandma cooked in and likely her grandma too and because it lasts forever you can find it used in a lot of places. Cast iron can be completely restored even if it is in pretty rough shape, so don't feel shy about getting a rusted up old pan...just drive a hard bargain and tune it up at home.

Craigslist - This is where you are most likely to find a lovingly cared for piece of cast iron. People don't usually list it for sale here unless they want it to go to a good home. So, if you want a pan that is all ready well seasoned, this might be your best bet.

Antique shops - There are certain really cool old pieces of cast iron that they just don't make anymore but there are plenty of them floating around and the antique dealers know how much people love it. No, it won't be cheap,,,but, for a truly unique and special piece for your collection it might be totally worth the price.

Thrift Store - I love thrift stores and they have cast iron on their shelves more often than you'd think. Check in from time to time and you might find one hell of a deal.

Taking care of cast iron

  There is another fantastic article by Paul Wheaton that details pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about taking care and restoring cast iron cookware. If you want to read that, check it out here.

Hope this gives you an idea as to why I love my cast iron so much. Drop a message below and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Is Permaculture?

This question seems to taunt both aspiring and experienced permies alike and most of the time the answers I hear people give fumbles the ball. At least in my opinion.

Most peoples first impression of permaculture colours all their future views of it either positively or negatively. Some enter through urban permaculture where it seems mostly like a bunch of fancy gardening techniques. Some enter from a traditional large scale agriculture background and see it as a bunch of hippy ideas without a solid business plan. Some enter it as big eyed idealists that grab onto it as a silver bullet that will hopefully save humanity, proven or not.

The honest truth is that permaculture is all of these things and none of these things. When faced with most questions, a curious person asks about how permaculture relates to their specific situation, the cliche answer tends to be "It depends". What this answer really means is that when designing using permaculture, there isn't a recipe. The more factors that are taken into account,the better design it will ultimately be.

The problem is that this answer is ultimately unsatisfying to the person that asked the question. So I've been searching for a simpler and more concise answer than just "it depends" or the alternative hour long lecture involving an extensive history lesson. What I've come up with is "It's a design philosophy that aims to reintegrate humans into their ecosystem". If I lead with that answer to what permaculture is, following up with the specific questions with "it depends" has a natural tag of "if it meets the overall goal of integrating you into an ecosystem."

For example;
Q: "Can I do or use <anything> in my permaculture design."
A: "Yes, as long as it meets the overall goal of integrating you into an ecosystem. Each designer and user of a permaculture system gets to decide what meeting that goal ultimately looks like though. Therefore, it depends"

For 500 Year Farm that means creating a successful, regenerative and ecological business I can be proud of and hand down to the next generation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fun Day Program

This post is a continuation of the post "Dreaming Big" please read that to get the context behind this post.

Not everything on the farm has to be educational or work. Play is an important part of a healthy life and I want that sense of fun and wonder to be a strong part of the farm too. So, during this planing stage I've been coming up with ideas for fun events that could be done at the farm that would also keep the farm afloat and moving towards the ultimate goal.

  1. Archery - Let me just say I love shooting a bow. It feels like it's satisfying something very primitive in me. I also find the challenge and focus very relaxing. I suffer from anxiety and this is one of the ways to relieve some of that. I plan on covering more about my coping mechanisms and how they will relate to the farm in a future post. I think an archery range could be a permanent feature on the farm.
  2. Youth theme days - Summers are ripe for finding fun things for the liberated child to do and the possibilities on a farm are almost endless. Once we have horses we can easily do a fun filled Western Day with hay rides, horseback riding and a cook-out. In fact most historical periods could be tuned into a theme where activities could be put together that are fun, informative, creating and educational for children. I grew up around the Wheat Ridge Historical Society and have been participating in demonstrations of early American life since I could crawl on a blanket.
  3. Adult fun days - these could be themed like the youth fun days or based more around fellowship with other like minded people. Things such as local artisanal wine and cheese tastings or a local foods pot luck. Tons of possibilities.
  4. Family fun days - Something that is fun for the whole family should be given attention. Having lasting quality family time and experiencing something unique can last a lifetime and influence people more than any corporate advertising ever could.
    1. In the winter I've always dreamed of doing a holiday event including a  sleigh ride with hot chocolate and carols and all that sappy stuff I can't get enough of. It's the stuff I've dreamt about since I was a little aspiring farmer.
    2. A spring family fun day could be a geo-located scavenger hunt around the farm. I've actually done quite a bit of research on this as I had the idea of self guided farm tours early on. I think spending the day going from place to place and reading something fun and/or educational could be a fantastic family experience. The great thing about making it digital is that it can be customized based on you families ages so everyone gets something out of it.
    3. A great heat of the summer activity would be a water fight day, I don't have any idea why there aren't places you can go to have a good ol' fashioned water fight but it's a tragedy to the whole human race that there isn't. A friend of mine suggested even doing water refill stations with ecologically friendly and not toxic dyes of different colours for even more fun factor.
    4. For fall, a harvest festival is a time honoured farm tradition that would be a crime to break. Of course there would have to be a 500 year farm spin to it.
I could spend all day writing and dreaming about my ideas but I think that gives the gist of what I'm thinking.

I'd love to hear what you think, so please drop a comment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Farm Work Program

Recently Paul Wheaton has posted a series of Podcasts where he has very candidly discussed the difficulties in dealing with people volunteering to work on his farm project in exchange for food and lodging. In addition a friend of mine went with his wife on a trip to go Woofing on two different farms. Their feedback has given me a lot to think about and plan for how I should deal with this on my farm.

The issues I intend to address with my program are thus;

  1. Getting farm work done without it being more of a burden on me than a benefit.
  2. Allow people who just want to visit or learn have that opportunity.
  3.  Let very motivated people have the opportunity to make a little income by working above and beyond.
  4. Prevent people who don't complete work or worse, don't do any work, from hurting the farm and the community around it. (Without just kicking them out)
  5. Let people with specific diets choose to eat or not without it being perceived as an unfair system.
I think the best way to keep people honest is to have a pay for services used and get paid for services you provide system. I think if you just want to do enough work to cover your expenses and learn a few things, the money should work out to a wash. If you don't want to do work then you should pay for expenses your presence causes. If you want to work on the farm as a career, even a low paying one, you should be allowed that opportunity.

All that being said, I'm not looking to make a bunch of money for the farm off a work program, the money is mostly there to keep people honest. If no one who is staying on the farm signs up to work, no big deal they just pay for the time their presence costs me. Simple.

First, the issue of lodging.

I feel this should be handled quite simply using AirBnB.

Keeping with my theme of not reinventing the wheel when it comes to doing things if I don't have to, I'd rather just let the professionals handle the lodging end of it. I can add a security deposit and they have a dispute resolution system so I can possibly get paid if they just show up and trash the place.

If you are just looking to do a little agrotourism, no biggy, just don't sign up to do any farm work.

If you want to do farm work but don't want to stay at the farm, no biggy, they are kept separate for a reason.

Second, the issue of food.

Keeping with the theme of only paying for the services you actually use, I will use a Google form system to allow people to choose the meals they are interested in eating on the farm with a set menu provided for each day in advance of their visit. That means there will be a fee for each meal and you choose to either eat the meal on that date or provide for yourself. A week or two prior notice would be required so supplies can be purchased and help in prep and cooking can be arranged.

This should allow people with allergies, diet restrictions and alternate food lifestyles to pick and choose meals and not feel unfairly treated when there isn't an option that meets their particular diet.

All meal fees will be paid in advance of your stay on the farm.

Third, Skilled work.

If you want an opportunity to learn and work on a specific area of the farm that requires some skill, such as caring for the chickens. A way to deal with the issue of people who want to learn but don't want to do the work needs addressed. Therefore any on farm work that requires a specific skill set will only be available for you to work if you have taken a class in that area through the farms educational program. After that, any work done in these areas will be paid either per project or per day.

If after taking the class, the work you perform is deemed to be unsatisfactory, then you will not be allowed to work in that area without special permission or retaking the class.

Again a Google form would be used to find out what work you are interested in and what classes you would need to take to do them. A few weeks to a month before your stay you will be sent a confirmation that you have been assigned that work and the classes will be available. This allows me to delegate the work evenly among the people who are on the farm that day and give you a chance to plan out your visit.

A web page with some general info on what the work will be like, what the expectations are, what constitutes completion of the work, how many hours the work will take, and what you should bring with you will be provided for each work area you've expressed interest in.

Fourth, Unskilled work.

If you don't want to have to take a class to cover the cost of your stay there will be farm chores made available to you. These chores won't be glamorous of course but without someone doing them I won't have to ability to scale the work program. These would be chores like, hauling material, emptying compost, recycling and trash receptacles, meal prep, ect. Not glamorous work but if you want to make the visit profitable or if your plans for doing other farm work don't pan out, it could save you coming up short on the trip.

Again, if the work you perform is deemed to be unsatisfactory, then you will not be allowed to work in that area without special permission or paying to take a remedial chores class where you will be shown how to do a good job at basic life skills.

This would be handled in conjunction with the skilled farm work so that each persons trip can be planned in advance.

Again, a webpage detailing expectations for these duties will be provided.

Fifth, Farm tours.

A weekend farm tour should be offered for people who really want to see the farm and ask all their burning questions about how everything works and why. This would take a couple hours and cost a nominal fee.

Sixth, Building Managers and Teachers.

For those that want to transition to a more permanent role in the farm, after so many hours at a specific work area and pending approval you would be offered the opportunity to either teach the classes, collecting the fee paid by the students, or become a manager and take over scheduling duties for that part of the farm.

This allows me to hand pick the hard workers to take over programs so I can build another.

So what would a few weekend scenarios look like?

Scenario One: The tourist;

You just want to visit the farm.

$10 for a campsite + ($5 per meal x 3 meals a day) + $15 Site Deposit that you get back because you were a cleanly guest.

$5 to take the farm tour.

$55 per person for a weekend stay with home cooked meals and a nice personal farm tour. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Scenario Two: The learner;

You want to learn some, work some, and cover your stay.

$25 per day for food and lodging.
$25 for a chicken care class.
$5 farm tour.

$80 charged for a weekend stay.

Paid $20 per day for two days to care for the chickens.
Paid $5 per day to help with trash duties.
Paid $5 per meal to help clean up.

$40 for taking care of the chickens.
$30 for helping clean up after each meal.
$10 for helping with trash at the end of the day.

$80  Paid for a weekend of work.

Scenario Three: The hard working cheapskate.

You surf a nearby friends couch, eat granola bars for every meal, and only take the chicken care class.

$25 charged for the weekend.

Paid $20 per day for two days to care for the chickens.
Paid $5 per day to help with trash duties.
Paid $5 per meal to help clean up.

$80  Paid for a weekend of work.

You walk away with a cool  $55 in your pocket.

Scenario Four: The burn out.

You have it in your head that the Leaner Scenario above is perfect for you but you've never tried anything like it before.

$25 per day for food and lodging.
$25 for a chicken care class.
$5 farm tour.

$80 charged for a weekend stay.

After one day of working with the chickens you decide that farm life isn't for you and you'd rather just hang out for the rest of the stay.

Paid $20 to per day for one day to care for the chickens.


It cost you $60 to learn that farming just isn't for you. You learned a lot and salvaged a nice weekend anyways while eating some decent food with pleasant people.

Conclusion:

Any left over money that this program would generate would go back into upgrades to the farms amenities and would thus improve the program as a whole.

I think this system is scalable, equitable and reasonable but I'd like to get any feedback you'd care to provide. Post a comment bellow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Education Program

My next idea for an income generator is an educational program. What I'm talking about specifically is hosting classes on a variety of topics, in a variety of ways for a reasonable fee.

Is this idea unique to me? Not at all. The inspiration for my education program comes from another small farmer, Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm, who's blog I read regularly. I first heard about her on The Survival Podcast and I've been following her ever since. I find her very inspirational. Please check her out if you get a chance. She hosts a variety of classes that are anything from just a few hours to multi-day events. She offers season passes to all her classes and even does an annual event that includes multiple classes, teachers and products from other local farms called Antlerstock.

So, I think I have a lot of skills that could be taught to others in half day, full day and multi-day classes.

  • Guitar camp (in full Jenna style of "stop talking about getting a guitar and do it all ready"), go home knowing how to play a full song. It would include the option of buying a beginner guitar from me that I've personally set up before the class with all the little accessories needed to get started.
  • Drums camp, same idea as the guitar class but starting out with just a practice pad and learning basic snare technique.
  • Mandolin camp, pretty much just like the guitar class.
  • Bass camp, could be integrated into the guitar class or as a class on it's own.
  • Spoon Carving, where we could do a whole spoon from log to finish. With the option of paying for all the tools and having them ready for you at the time of the class and ready to take home.
  • Rope work, learn how to tie knots, spice, back splices and seizing, go home with a beautiful custom lead rope or dog leash.
  • Building a worm bin. All tools and supplies provided to take home your very own worm bin and start vermicomposting.
  • Sour dough bread class, hands on baking with either you own starter or take home some of mine and a fresh loaf of bread.
  • Dog training, bring your dog and learn the skills to teach your dog to be a more integrated part of your family.
  • Introduction to brewing, take the fear out of making your first batch of beer or cider and take home your work to finish at home.
  • Hemp necklace, make something fun and decorative for yourself, someone one you love, or someone you like, even just if it's a little bit.
  • Up your grilling game by learning a variety of techniques to up your grilling game, lunch included of course.
  • Archery, always wanted to learn but don't know where to start? Did it as a kid and want to try again? Spend a fun day slinging arrows. Option to go home with your very own archery gear.
These are just the classes I think I can teach tomorrow with just the supplies needed for the projects. Actually having the land and some infrastructure opens up many more opportunities.

Jenna offers season passes that get you into all her classes at a discount. I like that idea and I also had the idea of offering credits at a discount and giving each class a credit value so people that want to take multiple classes can save some money if they aren't interested in a season pass.

I'd love to hear what you think about these and if you think you'd ever be interested in taking one, I'd just like to know to gauge reaction not so I can spam you with info.