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10,000 hours (Fishing in Zambia)


Today’s blog was written by our son, Matt Young, a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours. -Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success 10,000 hours is a lot of time. By this benchmark, it will take me approximately 821 years to become an expert at peeing while standing up. Longer if my target is a hole the size of my chimbusu. 10,000 hours […]

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I buy local (Fishing in Zambia)


Today’s blog was written by our son, Matt Young, a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. When I was in college I went to farmer’s markets and shopped in grocery stores that sourced local organic kale and grass-fed beef. The Brussels sprouts grown in Salinas were more expensive than the ones shipped up from Chile, but I didn’t mind. I supplemented my academic curriculum with a steady diet of Michael Pollan, fought off hordes of foodies at Off The Grid Thursdays […]

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Pond polyculture


  The fish ponds at J and J Aquafarms are a polyculture of organisms that utilize all levels of the aquatic food chain. It starts with algae which we seed and fertilize at the beginning of every pond cycle. Insects, mollusks, and crustaceans thrive on the rich green soup. Small forage fish eat the insects and snails. Large fish such as bass and catfish consume small fish and crustaceans. In the background, planktonic algae feed on the waste products of […]

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Chicken tractor from recycled materials


A chicken tractor is a great solution for mobile and secure housing.  It is called a chicken tractor because the birds are constantly pecking and scratching the soil. Soon, the area covered by the run is devoid of vegetation and bugs.   We resurrected an old abandoned farm trailer. We had to repack the bearings to get the trailer to even move.   We welded together a metal frame to which we secured reclaimed barn wood.   Corrugated roofing from […]

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Farm fresh and delicious!


       

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Energy saving features in new home construction


Little House on the Fish Farm is designed with several energy saving features to reduce its carbon footprint. Six inch walls offer 50% more insulation than the standard wall. Instead of a cold cement slab, a sub-floor was built which allows six more inches of insulation. These two features conserve heat and help maintain the temperature of the house year round. An additional benefit of the sub-floor is the barrier it creates between the dry living space and the perpetually […]

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Barbados Blackbelly sheep


These cute little guys are Barbados Blackbelly sheep. They are “hair sheep,” meaning they grow coarse hair instead of wool so there is no need to shear them.   They are parasite tolerant and disease resistant, making them a favorite of homesteaders:   “These exotic-looking sheep are a perfect choice as a homesteader’s sheep because they do relatively well on poorer forage, can be raised with very little grain, and do not require intensive management.” –Wikipedia    

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A Peace Corps Legacy (Fishing in Zambia)


 Today’s blog was written by our son, Matt Young, a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia.  I’ve always thought it was cool that my dad was in the Peace Corps, but being a volunteer now myself gives me an even greater appreciation for having an RPCV father. Everything I see here sheds light on some aspect of my dad’s character and personality. Everything I do reminds me in some small way of the influence that his service has had in his […]

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Livestock’s role in an integrated farm


Our livestock play an important role on our integrated farm. The cows and goats provide a non-chemical solution to weed control in the pond area. Our chickens help aerate and turn the soil. All of our animals are free range, virtually eliminating the need for antibiotics and other drugs. The waste products of the animals are eventually broken down into rich compost. The end result is healthy grass-fed animals, with the added benefit of weed and erosion control.  

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Aquaponics in schools


  Interest in aquaponics is at an all time high.  It has captured the imaginations of people who want to grow their own food in a limited space.  Fish and plants grow in the same water without the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Sanger High School’s Agriculture Department requested our assistance in the design and construction of an aquaponic teaching lab.  The goal was to make a full-proof system that would suit the budget of the average homeowner.  The […]

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