You are here:

  • Home
  • /
  • Welcome to Practical Skills
Welcome to

Practical Skills

for Regenerative Living

INTRODUCTION

I define a “sustainable lifestyle” as one that's regenerative for ourselves as individuals, for our families and communities, and for our ecosystems. Everything is connected; the health of any of these effects the health of all of them.

And since you're here on this page, we're probably in agreement that the way we humans have been doing things is not regenerative.

We're outsourcing our needs to extractive/exploitative industries that are depleting our atmosphere, soils, water, ecosystems, biodiversity, and communities.

Profit-focused corporations and government-funded institutions are keeping us hooked and helpless so that we'll keep propping up a failed economic system.  

We're living in a house of cards. The apparent affluence on the supermarket shelves is part of an illusion.

Obviously, something needs to change.

Exactly what needs to change, how it should change, and who should do the work, are topics that continue to be flogged to death in discussions at every level, but discussion is much more valuable and productive if we also take action. 

Small actions are best, that we can learn from, that we can build on. Action at a level that we can sustain.

"Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up." ~ David Orr

Its up to us, in our own kitchens, gardens, and communities. Here and now. To get on with providing for ourselves and living in ways that regenerate, rather than depleting, the web of life we rely on.

Use the Table of Contents to navigate, or just scroll down to explore the different Post Collections.
Note that some posts appear in more than one Collection.

Use the Table of Contents to navigate, or just scroll down to explore the different Post Collections.

Note that some posts appear in more than one Collection.

RECENT 

RECENT

Our physical and social environments have huge influence on our habits and behaviors. People who design supermarkets and sell products know this and take full advantage of it. This post will help you examine what’s shaping your shopping routines and your buying decisions, and learn how to change them.

Strategy #5 – What’s Shaping Your Grocery Shopping Habits?

RECENT

Strategy #4 to help you dethrone the supermarket giants. Includes a link to the previous 3 strategies.

Strategy #4 – to Help Parents Spend Less at the Supermarket

RECENT

Reducing our supermarket reliance ​means we can spend less, live better, and look our grandchildren in the eye. This post shares 3 strategies to get you started.

3 Supermarket Strategies to Help You Spend Less, Tread Lighter, and Live Better

RECENT

Our physical and social environments have huge influence on our habits and behaviors. People who design supermarkets and sell products know this and take full advantage of it. This post will help you examine what’s shaping your shopping routines and your buying decisions, and learn how to change them.

Strategy #5 – What’s Shaping Your Grocery Shopping Habits?

RECENT

Strategy #4 to help you dethrone the supermarket giants. Includes a link to the previous 3 strategies.

Strategy #4 – to Help Parents Spend Less at the Supermarket

DIY BATHROOM BASICS

In the bathroom aisle you spend hard earned money on mostly unnecessary products, full of toxins, that leave a trail of pollution and destruction in their wake. 

There are safer, cleaner, more ethical alternatives, and they can be economical, simple, and quick to make.

Natural Oral Care & DIY Toothpaste Workshop

In our culture, control and separation are given more importance than compassion and relationship.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s a comparison between the dominant approach to healthcare and the marginalized, “alternative” approaches.

The Dominant Healthcare Approach vs Marginalized Alternatives

The herb yarrow (Achillea millefoleum) has many uses. Its particularly well known for its ability to quickly stop blood loss and help heal wounds.

Yarrow for Wound First Aide

How I came to swear by yarrow (Achillea millefolium) for oral health care and particularly for gum health.

Yarrow for Oral Care

In our culture, control and separation are given more importance than compassion and relationship.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s a comparison between the dominant approach to healthcare and the marginalized, “alternative” approaches.

The Dominant Healthcare Approach vs Marginalized Alternatives

The herb yarrow (Achillea millefoleum) has many uses. Its particularly well known for its ability to quickly stop blood loss and help heal wounds.

Yarrow for Wound First Aide


Natural Oral Care & DIY Toothpaste Workshop

HOMEGROWN

We grow all of the things we put into salads  (greens and other things, like flowers and shoots) and a small but steadily increasing amount of our other veggies and fruits.

We also grow many plants for their usefulness as animal fodder, and/or for other functions such as mulch production, shade, shelter, nitrogen fixing, and habitat. 

We're inspired by Permaculture, Syntropics, and all  Regenerative Agriculture philosophies and techniques, because they seek to build soils, care for ecology, and increase biodiversity as side effects of growing the things people need. 

In short, we intend for our gardening and farming efforts to regenerate and enrich the ecosystems they're embedded in, rather than degrading them.

In frost free areas we’re blessed to be able to grow tropical food plants in the summer and better known European style veggies in the winter. This time of year, spring, is especially abundant with its overlap between the cool weather and hot weather plants. This post shares pics and links to info for a small selection of food plants from our garden.

Subtropical Spring in a RealFood Garden

This post shares lots of pics and a few tips on growing and harvesting ginger, and making ginger honey to settle coughs and for colds, flu, and general immune support. There are also some pics and tips on arrowroot harvesting and replanting, since we sometimes grow these two plants together.

Harvesting Ginger, Making Ginger Honey

Recently I began to appreciate the sheer beauty of the Mexican tarragon in my garden. Then I learned what a delicious iced tea it makes, and from there I discovered its huge array of potential uses in the kitchen, the medicine cabinet, and the garden.

Mexican Tarragon

In frost free areas we’re blessed to be able to grow tropical food plants in the summer and better known European style veggies in the winter. This time of year, spring, is especially abundant with its overlap between the cool weather and hot weather plants. This post shares pics and links to info for a small selection of food plants from our garden.

Subtropical Spring in a RealFood Garden

This post shares lots of pics and a few tips on growing and harvesting ginger, and making ginger honey to settle coughs and for colds, flu, and general immune support. There are also some pics and tips on arrowroot harvesting and replanting, since we sometimes grow these two plants together.

Harvesting Ginger, Making Ginger Honey

PLANT PROFILES

this is a collection of posts about individual plants that we grow for people food, animal food, and other functions. Our main focus is on perennial plants that serve as many functions as possible (we do grow annuals as well). 

I used to think chokos were boring, bland, and not very useful, but I’ve changed my mind. This short article shares 7 of the ways I use chokos and choko vines since I gained a better appreciation for them.

7 Ways to use the Humble Choko Vine

6 ​Salad bowl contenders that can handle heat and high humidity.​The 7th plant doesn’t fit the tropical perennial profile but can make a salad by itself if you have the right growing niche for it. Plus a tip on getting the most nutrition from your salad greens.

7 Easy Substitutes for When Lettuce Won’t Grow

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has a long ​history of use ​for ​food, medicine, cordage, and dye. Here are some ideas ​for ​​making use of the ​free food and fertilizer ​that this under-appreciated weed has to offer.

Stinging Nettle: Nourishment for You and Your Garden

I used to think chokos were boring, bland, and not very useful, but I’ve changed my mind. This short article shares 7 of the ways I use chokos and choko vines since I gained a better appreciation for them.

7 Ways to use the Humble Choko Vine

6 ​Salad bowl contenders that can handle heat and high humidity.​The 7th plant doesn’t fit the tropical perennial profile but can make a salad by itself if you have the right growing niche for it. Plus a tip on getting the most nutrition from your salad greens.

7 Easy Substitutes for When Lettuce Won’t Grow

Free PDF: "Beyond Eggs"

Mobile vs stationary chicken runs, deep litter bedding, keeping chickens happy in confinement.

LIVESTOCK

We raise chickens for eggs, meat, and compost making. We raise a few pigs at a time for meat. And we keep a couple of house cows for fresh milk and for the calves, which we raise with their mothers and then on pasture, for meat. 

Immediately below you'll find posts on "Raising Chickens," and in the sections under that you'll find "Raising Pigs"  and "Cattle & Home Dairying."

Raising Chickens

If we had to downsize and choose only one type of livestock to keep, it would be chickens. These posts explore various aspects of chicken-keeping, as well as the many talents of a backyard flock as egg and meat producers, garden assistants and soil builders, and entertainers.

Beyond Eggs - a Series

Anybody can stick a flock of chickens in the backyard. The result will be fresh eggs, plenty of entertainment, and a progressive and terminal de-greening of the backyard.

To move backyard chicken-keeping away from barren, bare ground and towards the model of a healthy ecosystem, we need to consider how to manage the flock so that all of its functions—the chickens' behaviors and their manure—are put to use in service of the surrounding ecosystem.

This Series of posts is about mobile vs stationary chicken runs, deep litter bedding, and keeping chickens happy in confinement.   Read the posts here, or download the Series as a free pdf.

Read these posts one by one, or download the Series as a free PDF

Chickens can either be very helpful to gardeners, or incredibly destructive. How can we harvest all that chickens have to offer, in ways that keep everybody happy, healthy, and productive?

Beyond Eggs – Pros and Cons of Free Range and Mobile Pens

Deep litter bedding for chickens mimics the forest floor environment they evolved in, builds their health, provides them with entertainment, and captures fertility for soil building. Here is why we decided to try confinement on deep litter with no outside foraging.

Beyond Eggs – 8 Advantages of Deep Litter Housing for Chickens

The best way to have healthy, happy chickens is to integrate them tightly into a thriving, bustling ecosystem that benefits from their presence, rather than allowing them to spread out in a sparse ecosystem that they steadily ​degrade because it is unable to support them.

Beyond Eggs: How to Keep Chickens Happy in Confinement

Chickens can either be very helpful to gardeners, or incredibly destructive. How can we harvest all that chickens have to offer, in ways that keep everybody happy, healthy, and productive?

Beyond Eggs – Pros and Cons of Free Range and Mobile Pens

Deep litter bedding for chickens mimics the forest floor environment they evolved in, builds their health, provides them with entertainment, and captures fertility for soil building. Here is why we decided to try confinement on deep litter with no outside foraging.

Beyond Eggs – 8 Advantages of Deep Litter Housing for Chickens
Backyard Chickens - a Series

This is not a “how to take care of chickens” Series. It contains stories about the unique differences in the ways individual hens mother their chicks, how the chicks mature toward independence, and the fascinating ways that roosters care for their hens (it goes well beyond sharing food with them and protecting them from danger).

In his book, “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock,” Harvey Ussery states that eating is “an intensely moral act," and that the happiness of his birds "defines good husbandry." The stories here are about chickens that are as happy as we can arrange for them to be, and that, in my opinion, makes for happy eggs and happy meat


You may enjoy these posts if you like chickens for their own sake, if you like eating food that comes from happy sources, and/or if you care deeply about our living world but sometimes feel powerless to make a difference in caring for it.

Why our efforts to address ecological destruction aren’t working yet, and how backyard chickens (or any other living thing that you care for) can help.

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things. Part 1

Doesn’t happiness – even “just” the happiness of some hen in a backyard hen house somewhere, count towards a more whole, more beautiful world, a world that has a little more rightness about it?

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things. Part 2

This post shares the funny things one of our roosters gets up to, and it concludes the Backyard Chicken Series with the question, “Can good husbandry, regenerative agriculture, and morally right living, be defined in terms of happiness and connection?”

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things – Part 3

Why our efforts to address ecological destruction aren’t working yet, and how backyard chickens (or any other living thing that you care for) can help.

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things. Part 1

Doesn’t happiness – even “just” the happiness of some hen in a backyard hen house somewhere, count towards a more whole, more beautiful world, a world that has a little more rightness about it?

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things. Part 2

Raising Pigs

Pigs, for us, have turned out to be very rewarding animals to keep and also very challenging animals to keep. Rewarding because they're charismatic, intelligent, sociable, and also because pork, ham and bacon are meats we refuse to buy -- so we're very fortunate to be able to raise them ourselves.

And challenging, because pigs have big needs for space, play, clean soil to dig in, and a diverse diet -- and providing those while keeping their environment alive and vibrant is a big challenge. We're far from feeling like we've got it sorted; these posts share what we're learning as we work toward it. 

Read these posts one by one here, or download a PDF of the entire Series, below. 

What we have (so far) found to be the pros and cons of mobile versus stationary pig raising systems, and why we are currently trailing a stationary arrangement for our pigs.

Raising Pigs – Mobile Pens vs Pigs in One Place

Why we buy piglets rather than breeding our own; preparing for their arrival and minimizing the stress of their transition; what to feed them; a few thoughts on choosing heritage breeds versus modern breeds.

Raising Pigs – New Piglets

Feeding ​the pigs, as they grow bigger, ​can ​easily degenerate into a full body contact sport in which the pig ​wins and the amateur pig-raiser ​gets discouraged and gives up on homegrown pork. Is there a way to keep pig-raising ​enjoyable when those cute little piglets are no longer cute?

Raising Pigs – Can pigs learn table manners?

What we have (so far) found to be the pros and cons of mobile versus stationary pig raising systems, and why we are currently trailing a stationary arrangement for our pigs.

Raising Pigs – Mobile Pens vs Pigs in One Place

Why we buy piglets rather than breeding our own; preparing for their arrival and minimizing the stress of their transition; what to feed them; a few thoughts on choosing heritage breeds versus modern breeds.

Raising Pigs – New Piglets

"Raising Pigs" is a 4-Part Series about mobile pig pens versus stationary ones, raising piglets, and feeding and fencing tips.

Read the posts one by one here, or download a PDF of the entire Series, below. 

Cattle & Home Dairying

There are just a small handful of posts here, mostly farm updates that include pics and mentions of our home dairying adventures. 

What is “happy meat?” ​Is meat-eating inherently destructive, or can we have “happy ecosystems” along with happy meat? ​What does meat-eating mean for human health on a more-than physical level? And what about avoiding eating animal products because you care about ​animals’ welfare?

Happy Meat, Happy Ecosystems, Happy People

This super-short post has some commentary on home-dairying, a tongue-in-cheek recipe for raw-milk banana milkshake, and something easy and useful to do with your egg whites when you only need the yolks. There are also a few links to related resources that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Home Dairying, Banana Milkshakes, and Spare Egg Whites

​​Pictures and commentary from our garden​, ​a super-simple recipe for banana milkshake (simple only if you don’t count the steps that bring the milk to the kitchen)​, and a brief mention of one useful thing to do with your egg whites when you only need the yolks.

Farm Update: In the Garden

What is “happy meat?” ​Is meat-eating inherently destructive, or can we have “happy ecosystems” along with happy meat? ​What does meat-eating mean for human health on a more-than physical level? And what about avoiding eating animal products because you care about ​animals’ welfare?

Happy Meat, Happy Ecosystems, Happy People

This super-short post has some commentary on home-dairying, a tongue-in-cheek recipe for raw-milk banana milkshake, and something easy and useful to do with your egg whites when you only need the yolks. There are also a few links to related resources that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Home Dairying, Banana Milkshakes, and Spare Egg Whites

REAL FOOD

Food was once something that people shared, locally. For people fed by industrial agriculture, food is now a commoditysold to the highest bidder, traded globally and anonymously. 

Commoditized food erodes our health when we eat it, and its production erodes the health of the families, communities and ecosystems that produce it.

I define
"Real Food" as food that repairs these broken connections and rebuilds health on all these levels. To me, real food is not just healthy for the eater. It's also healthy for the farmer and community that grow it and for the ecosystem it grows in. 

Real Food, for our family, includes "Happy Meat."

And this post collection also includes some posts with tips for getting the most nutrition possible from your food, along with profiles of super-nutritious plants (which will also appear in the Plant Profiles collection, above).

Tips and hints about eating fresh, whole turmeric + our basic recipe for Turmeric Milk, or Golden Milk.

RealFood Turmeric + Golden Milk Recipe

There’s a reason why the words “food crisis” are making headlines, and it might not be the reason you think. Also in this post: three other random, hopeful things.

Food – are we facing a Crisis or an Opportunity?

What is “happy meat?” ​Is meat-eating inherently destructive, or can we have “happy ecosystems” along with happy meat? ​What does meat-eating mean for human health on a more-than physical level? And what about avoiding eating animal products because you care about ​animals’ welfare?

Happy Meat, Happy Ecosystems, Happy People

In traditional cultures, organ meats were considered to be the animals’ most nutritious, most precious, gift to humanity. In modern society, we’re repelled by the idea of eating organ meats. What happened?

How Did Organ Meats Become “Offal” (Awful)?

Tips and hints about eating fresh, whole turmeric + our basic recipe for Turmeric Milk, or Golden Milk.

RealFood Turmeric + Golden Milk Recipe
>