Category Archives: Farm life

A Teeny Tiny Barn

    John’s newest creation is a 6′ by 6′ barn. I call it the Fishing Shack as it overlooks a small pond. The large porch provides shade for those who want to fish and there is a narrow cubby to store fishing poles. The sheep have their own entrance off to the side.     This redwood star was made out of the cutouts from the braces.  The braces are the diagonal elements that stabilize the posts on the […]

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Building the “perfect” greenhouse using recycled materials

      I have been gathering data and resources for making the “perfect” greenhouse for California’s Central Valley. This has been a process that has taken longer than I would like to admit, but consider the constraints:   *       ¾ of the year it must not be warmer than ambient temperature (>100ºF) *       Much of that ¾ is unrelenting, dry solar radiation *       ¼  of the year it must collect as much heat as possible (<45ºF) […]

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“Some Thoughts on the Real World….” Bill Watterson’s Kenyon Commencement Speech

People often ask about our unusual lifestyle….owning a fish farm but also tinkering in other endeavors like aquaponics, permaculture, and hosting guests from all over the world.  We have never defined our outlook on life and career, but this speech from Bill Watterson comes close. Below are excerpts from his speech…. SOME THOUGHTS ON THE REAL WORLD BY ONE WHO GLIMPSED IT AND FLED Bill Watterson Kenyon College Commencement May 20, 1990  You will find your own ethical dilemmas in […]

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Casper the friendly goat with her three kids.  They are about four hours old in this picture.   Here she is on the 4th of July.  She was huge!    


Upcycled Dog House

  I love it when John creates something wonderful and useful out of stuff  lying around the farm.  His latest creation?  A 40″ x 40″ dog house constructed from upcycled materials. John tweaked a design he found on the web. A friend gave us the plywood, cedar fencing and louvered door.   The roof opens to reveal a secret compartment to store dog food. The project took two days to complete (and a couple of bandaged fingers!). Total cost = […]

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Building with reclaimed barn wood

One of the main philosophies on our farm is utilizing local resources. This is mostly out of economic necessity. The price of building materials is often prohibitive if you are trying to make a new venture pay for itself. Our foray into small livestock coincided with a fortuitous procurement of one hundred year old barn wood. Better yet, we were able to make a trade.  We received two loads of barn wood in exchange for fishing privileges. When we started […]

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Water Plants and the Nitrogen Cycle

Water Plants and the Nitrogen Cycle Why do my fish get sick and die?   Your koi pond (or any recirculating water environment) is a closed system; water stays there.  Fish constantly feed and emit waste products in the form of ammonia nitrogen, or NH4.  This makes the water progressively unfit for fish health. The Nitrogen Cycle  The biological event that cleans up the waste is called The Nitrogen Cycle.  Beneficial bacteria in your pond constantly convert NH4 (ammonia, toxic) to […]

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Just like netting the ponds back home (Fishing in Zambia)

  Today’s blog was written by our son, Matt Young, a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. Last Friday and Saturday I helped my counterpart Sebastian harvest several of his ponds. Together with four of his sons we seined eight ponds, grading and restocking over 500 fish in order to update existing create new inventory records. (It might not look like it from the pictures, but yes, I did actually go into the water and do work when I wasn’t pulling camera duty). […]

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The animal kingdom is sometimes harsh but pragmatic.  When our pregnant doe, Mocha, had triplets, I was so excited.  Not only was this our first set of triplets, but all the kids were girls. Shortly after the birth, I realized that Mocha did not seem to have the desire or capacity to nurse all three kids.  In fact, in the first few hours after giving birth, she was only nursing the strongest kid.  I had to hold up the two […]

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Read Across America with Farmer John

  John visited a kindergarten class in Sanger, California.  The students enjoyed meeting Seahawk and Bronco, our four week old twins!

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