Brad has spent over 25 years leading teams in hi-tech marketing and is still not a billionaire. He is a Certified Permaculture Designer through Geoff Lawton’s inaugural online class (via Permaculture Research Institute in Australia), and takes continuing education classes in sustainable agriculture and ecological restoration. He believes the problems of health, hunger, and housing are closely related, and can be solved through a better lifestyle that beckons us as a civilization. He is an average guitar player, loves rescue dogs, gardening, tinkering, and spending time with his wife at their home in Colorado.
Childbirth in the United States in 2015: A Discussion
- October 12, 2015
- Tagged as: birth, breastfeeding, La Leche League, sustainable living
Did you know that a baby born in the United States is nearly 3 times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan? Or that a woman giving birth in the United States is more likely to die than a woman who gives birth in China?
While this might be shocking news for most of us, it’s a sad fact that Cheryl Vaught of the Facebook Community, Ask A Midwife, is committed to changing.
A couple of weeks ago, Marianne and I had a fascinating discussion with Cheryl, a midwife and registered nurse who has her own unique perspective on the birth process.
Cheryl is an amazing soul who approaches everything in life from a heart-centered place. I’m fortunate to call her my friend from way back to my days as a La Leche League Leader. In fact, Cheryl assisted with the home birth of my son Tyler 22 years ago.
We had planned to record the interview and post it as a podcast, but technical difficulties prevented us. However, we do hope to get Cheryl back in the future for an in-depth interview.
A Gift of Fish – What Now?
- October 2, 2015
- Tagged as: canning, homesteading, Marianne West, preserving food, sustainable living
“My whole refrigerator is full of fish. Come and get some!” That is the kind of phone call which only happens once in a great while. But when it happens, there are only two options: To say no thank you, or to jump immediately into action. (Listen to our podcast; “How to Pressure-Can Fish” here.)
When that call came for me, I did jump into action and ended up doing a whole lot of things for the first time in many, many years and others for the first time ever.
I probably don’t have to mention this, but I will anyway. Fish has to be kept cold. As cold as possible and preferable from the time it left the water to the moment of its final process – may that be prepared fresh or frozen, canned, dried or otherwise processed.
With my ice chest laden with Skipjack Tuna, I was ready for some help. Luckily my ex husband came to the rescue with a couple of sharp (very important!) knives and years of fish processing experience, a byproduct of being an avid fisherman. He talked me through processing the first one with occasionally giving me a hand. Then, I was ready to go it on my own, and by the 3rd fish, I felt pretty confident and was working fast.
Pretty soon, I had a big platter of fillets in the fridge, a container of dark meat, heads, tails and skeletons (with quiet a bit of flesh on), skin and the innards.
This is what I decided to do with the bounty:
- Fillets: Canned in pint jars in a pressure cooker- hadn’t done that in 20 years.
- Dark meat: Some fed raw to the animals (cat and dogs), the rest slightly cooked and given as treats over a couple of days.
- Heads, tails and skeleton: Covered with water and cooked for several hours for bone broth. After about 5 hours of cooking time, I strained the broth and used the solid parts for chicken food. The bones are very soft at this point and fall apart. First time that I was making a bone broth from fish.
- Skin and innards: Buried deep in a planting hole. As it breaks down, it will feed the loquat which found its home there with nitrogen and phosphorus. I planted many trees in the 5 years we have been at this house, but never before had some fish guts handy.
- Paper I processed the fish on: soaked, shredded and added to the worm compost.
What I could have done: Cut the skin into pieces and dehydrate it for dog treats.
I am proud to say that not one part of the fish went to the landfill. The ice water from the transport watered a plant and the bloody knives and the towels used to clean hands and knives while working were rinsed over a bucket and that water also fertilized a plant.
Please share your ideas what else we could do with the gift of a fish.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO PRESSURE CANNING
- Make sure all rubber gaskets are flexible (not dried out and brittle)
- Make sure venting hole is not plugged up
- Fill the canner with 3 quarts of boiling water.
- Wash the jars you are going to use (no need to sterilize)
- Put lids into hot water so rubber becomes pliable
- Fill up your jars to 1 inch headspace
- Make sure there are no air bubbles
- Place lids on
- Clean top of jars very well to ensure a tight seal
- Screw lid bands on
- Stack them in the canner (not directly on top of each other)
- Put canner lid on tightly
- Heat the canner
- Let it steam out for 10 minutes
- Then put weight on
- Process at 10 pounds of pressure for 100 minutes
- Make sure the pressure stays above 10 pounds by adjusting heat
- After 100 minutes turn it off and allow to cool and pressure to reduce on its own
- Take cans out
- Take bands off and check to see that all lids have a tight seal
- Write canning date on all cans
Birth of The Sustainable Living Podcast
Marianne and I met on a social media platform called Tsu, which has only existed since October 21, 2014.
As a professional content/social media marketer I live on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and usually don’t have time to try new platforms. But Chris Agnos, the founder of Sustainable Man, published a blog post that convinced me to give it a go. Continue reading