All Magic Has It’s Price

I had a conversation with my mom the other day, and she was telling me about a documentary she watched that slammed renewable energy like wind and solar.

I’ve written before about all of the issues with renewables. They are definitely not perfect. Yet, neither is conventional coal or natural gas by ANY means.

Energy works like magic. It gives the ability to do the once unimaginable. All magic has its price, and all energy has its price, too.

I don’t know if we will ever find an energy source or system that does not cause negative ramifications in some way.

Water energy impacts aquatic life immensely, natural gas hydraulic fracturing impacts our water table, solar electric requires lots of land and extraction resources, and coal and oil pollute the air and waterways with all sorts of toxins. I really can’t think of a 100% no mess energy system that exists. Even biofuels impact our soil quality.

Anyways, just thought I’d share this experience and thought process.

If you could design the energy system, what would it look like?

As always,

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Why You Need Your Own Chickens

The farmers I’ve met all say there should really be no market for eggs.

I once ready that if one in every ten people raised laying hens, the egg industry would be nonexistent. I believe it. If you can raise a dog, then you can raise a chicken. Like all pets, chickens require care, love, and attention. But unlike our absolutely lovely traditional pets who offer us love back, chickens can provide us with both love and healthy calorie sustenance.

With just a few well-cared for chickens, you can expect about 1-2 dozen eggs per week. This is not only economical in many cases, but also creates a more sustainable food system. Transportation, energy used for refrigeration, marketing materials, and more are all expunged from the process. Laying hens can also eventually be used for their meat – also known as a stewing hen. While their meat needs to be slow-cooked, the flavor is incredible! There is something magic about eating food you helped bring about. Any produce gardener can attest to that. Speaking of gardeners, chickens are the perfect companion for a garden because they eat all those pesky bugs and weeds AND provide excellent fertilizer that’ll make your garden bloom like no other.

Chickens, like our other furry pet friends, provide recreational and emotional support to humans. I can tell you from experience that chasing chickens can be a riot – they will give you a run for your money! *Cue Rocky move scene*. Chickens are humorous. From the way they run around, to their silly faces, they can be sure to bring a smile to one’s face. Plus, kids can learn a lot about how to care for animals and biological functions.

All in all, get yourself some chickens. If you have a backyard and live in a town where chickens are acceptable, then give this a serious consideration! Just like dogs – there is a little upfront cost like housing. There is also a learning curve, but luckily there are TONS of resources to help you along the way. In my next post, I’ll do a review of an excellent book that educates on all things raising chickens.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

How To: Sustainable Cities

Hi, all!

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to make a city more sustainable and resilient to catastrophe, like flooding, drought, and overheating. These events are increasing, and especially impacting dense areas like cities. As an example, to help make my point, I would like to focus on Chicago because I have lived in the Chicago suburbs my entire like. It’s “close to home” for me.

In brief, to better help increase the resiliency of a city like Chicago, the built environment should contain green spaces and green buildings that are self-sufficient and compact, as well as a transportation system that encourages the use of bicycles and pedestrians walking.

Currently, Chicago has limited green areas and parks, but an abundance of skyscrapers and brownfields. The Environmental Protection Agency reports on Chicago’s brownfields in an article, “There are more than 1,000 brownfield sites in Chicago, many of which are located in or near communities with high rates of unemployment, poverty, and crime,” (Brownsfields, 2006). The use of of these brownfields (formerly used, barren sites) is essential for society and the economy. Green spaces are areas of vegetation and plants that serve a variety of purposes. The roots and soil of plants collect excess rainwater that can help reduce flooding, as well as serve as a water filtration system. Plants also filter air through photosynthesis, decreasing the amount of harmful carbon dioxide lingering in the atmosphere. (Air pollution, anyone?) Additionally, local vegetation that is used as food can allow for decreased greenhouse gas emissions because less transportation will be required to transport food. Filtration is essential to a resilient community because having a variety of systems in place to clean the environment will allow for time to focus on other aspects.

Finally, green spaces allow for a greater sense of unique space and community. People will care for their surroundings more due to local aesthetics, therefore building social capital and the ability to withstand hardship. Wouldn’t you love to live in a gorgeous, cool, lush environment with all of the conveniences of city life? I sure would!

Compact, mixed use green buildings will be a change to the built environment that will also increase the resiliency of Chicago. Self-sufficient buildings, such as buildings with solar roofs reduce the reliance on foreign petroleum and other infrastructure to provide energy. By creating a system that relies on readily available local resources, such as biowaste, hydropower or solar power, the city of Chicago will not be subordinate to other countries. This means that when Chicago undergoes stress of any kind, the city will be able to handle the situation on their own. Thus, the windy city will be more resilient.

Additionally, compact and mixed-use land space will allow for less congestion due to the automobile and increased transit for all community members. People will not have to rely on vehicles to get them around, therefore more people will be able to contribute to society. More citizens involved equates to greater social capability and economic mobility. This ultimately allows the city to thrive and become resilient due to the human power available.

Currently, pedestrian and bike transportation are secondary to the automobile in Chicago. There are many types of paths for bikes in the inner city. However, the surrounding communities have considerably less paths to utilize. This limits the ability for people who live in the outer city to commute via bike. If these paths were expanding using smart streets, people would have a greater opportunity to travel by bike or on foot. Additionally, smart streets would be an incentive for potential bikers because of the upgraded safety aspect. To further expand on the use of bikes, public transit could adapt systems to become biker friendly by allotting more space for the physical bikes.

Another way to promote the use of traveling via bike is to limit the availability of car resources such as parking spaces, gas stations and wide car lanes. Condensing current four lane roads into two would allot room for bus lanes, bike paths and make space for safer sidewalks with planter zones. Currently, parking in Chicago is extremely expensive. This is a deterrent, but instead of using a punitive tactic to avoid driving, incentivizing public transit or bike use through tax breaks or some other means would be more beneficial. Humans tend to respond better to positive reinforcement compared to negative.

Chicago has plenty of potential for expanding bike use compared to relying on the automobile. This renewal will be possible by developing a connection route of paths, declining automobile options and incentivizing the use of bikes.

Chicago has been burned to the ground once before years ago. The city has the potential to be one of the most sustainable cities in America. As the paradigm shifts within the hearts and minds of the community members, Chicago’s landscapes will be renewed in line with what is best for the economy, people and planet.

I realize these are big changes, and it will take a lot for the citizens of Chicago, and cities around the world, to integrate and embrace these new city design concepts.

What do you think about these sustainable city solutions? What would you incorporate into your own sustainable city?

As always,

In Soil We Trust

Tiffany

Works Cited

“Brownfields 2006 Assessment Grant Fact Sheet .” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2006, cfpub.epa.gov/bf_factsheets/gfs/index.cfm?xpg_id=1864.

f.

Deforestation, Dethrone the Nation.

I distinctly remember being about six years old and imagining a forest being bulldozed down. This vision came to me from my grandmother talking about the horrors of this situation, and it is so impactful to me because it was my first comprehension with the capacity of wicked, foolish acts from humanity.

The eerie depiction still makes me extremely uneasy to this day, even more so now because I can fully comprehend and speak of the repercussions of the problem. I worry that soybean and corn fields will make up the entirety of the planet, and that wild animals will cease to exist. I fear that there will be no wilderness and no pristine land left. 

Natural vegetation is exponentially being replaced by conventional farmland and lumber farms.

Here is a link to an article discussing the recent trends of deforestation from PNAS written by Douglas C. Daly.  https://www.pnas.org/content/117/40/24609 (Links to an external site.)

The article shares that deforestation has “enormous consequences for health and well-being beyond political borders” like when drought – as a deforestation externality – occurs around the world which in turn affects economic success on a grand scale. When economy is disturbed, that’s when these problems become really clear to the public.

Furthermore, the effects of deforestation do not just cause detriment to the land where the forest is being assaulted, but to the entire world ecosystem because of the connection of each ecosystem type. Rainforest, especially the tropical rainforest, acts as “a buffer against climate change”, which is a concern to the entire globe. So, while we might be growing cheap meat and meeting consumer demand, we are simultaneously destroying the very system that provides us with ecological services that make life happen. I have hope that it will all one day just stop.

As an adult, I now imagine a child crying to her ultra-rich daddy who owns a paper company, begging him to stop tearing down the world.

What is going to make my hope a reality? Well, a chorus of actions. Many individual actions – like people homesteading their own livestock for themselves and their communities, choosing a job that allows one to ride a bike or work from home, or actually implementing a recycling system – will work synchronously together.

When the current system of ravish is replaced with one of stewardship, all will prevail. With a little creativity and culture shift, it is possible for abundance without plunder.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

The Problems with Renewables

Hi, all.

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about renewables. As energy producers like solar panels and wind turbines slowly become welcomed to the market, the debate over whether or not renewables will be sufficient continues.

While I support a grid that is diverse, versatile, and decentralized, I can also recognize the limitations to renewable energy resources. It is vital to understand and accept limitations so that we can better adjust and implement solutions.

There are a variety of renewables.

Hydropower (water wheels, dams, pumped storage) can be considered the OG of renewables. The problem with hydropower is that there is a limited number of locations that are viable for this type of energy production. Most hydropower locations are either already in use or protected from such infestation (and rightfully so). Additionally, hydropower is dependent on the amount of water and flow power. As you can probably guess, climate change and overuse of water both negatively affect hydropower’s consistency and ability – decreasing its reliability. Also, hydropower like dams have a detrimental effect on wildlife. For example, fish spawning (reproduction) is totally diminished when a dam is in effect because the fish cannot easily travel up and down stream. Very sad! Finally, as water pools up in dams, the salinity or saltiness builds, making the water unusable for human use like agriculture. That’s a major issue as our water supply is already stretched thin in many parts of the world.

Wind is also very well-known in the renewable world. Wind occurs due to change of temperature, as the hot air is constantly trying to move to places that are not hot. There are not many places where wind blows all the time. Shorelines are the best places for wind turbines because of the difference in air temperature in the land and water. However, the best spots near and offshore are often far from the grid – so transporting the energy is expensive. They don’t last very long, either, only about 20-25 years. So, investing in them might not always pay off. Wind turbines make the most energy when they are very high up, so making them tall might help with the cost. However, he efficiency also makes the turbines more hazardous. Which brings me to my next point: wind turbines are extremely difficult and costly to maintain because of their location and physicality. Finally, some people would argue wind turbines are just downright ugly.

Solar seems to currently be the shining star *pun intended* of the renewables. There are many ways to approach solar, like water heating, solar cooking, and photovoltaics (PV aka solar panels). In any case, solar is still comparable to land-use size as both coal and natural gas, as solar requires a lot of land to produce sufficient energy. This also depends on the location, and it does not make sense to put the panels just anywhere. Solar PV does not last very long, just like wind turbines, and they need to be replaced every twenty years or so. Electronic waste is a major concern around the world, and solar PV definitely contributes to the waste. This is true not just for the upkeep, but also for the materials used. Most solar cells are made of silicon tetrachloride. Many producers of the solar cells have been found to dump their waste from producing these materials into the surrounding land to save money on recycling. This definitely detriments the environmental health because these are hazardous materials. Solar energy is also intermittent, in that it only produces energy when sun is available, and humans do not wait for the sun to come out to turn on their tv or start their dishwasher. Storage is not yet widely available either, and there are even some concerns with sourcing the battery storage materials.

These are obviously not all of the renewables that exist, but probably the major three.

Renewables totally have their role in our energy system, but perhaps this post may have opened your perspective as to why these energy producers have not yet taken hold in our society. There are clear limitations, yet absolutely solvable.

Hope you enjoyed! Let me know what you think about renewables and how they compare to nonrenewables.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Thank you to Jonathon H.C. Kelman Basic Energy Science – A Citizen’s Guide to Energy Choices for this graphic report and the informational content of this post. Basic Energy Science was one of the greatest courses I took in college.

Welcome To My Office

Hi, all!

I love working on a farm and taking care of livestock. To give you a glimpse of what I get to encounter on a regular day, check out these pictures.

This calf is a few weeks old and loves to snuggle and be pet! Her name is Maeve.
Turkey poults are soooo cute! But, they can die in less than an inch of water, and tend to pile up on top of each other, suffocating themselves. So they require a lot of time and attention!
The farm cats are the farm’s best greeters for visitors.
Another calf enjoying the comfort of grass!
These curious cows wanted to see what I had in the back!
Don’t let the fencing in this picture fool you- these piggies have plenty of room to run around and roll in the dirt.
Pigs don’t have sweat glands. So when it’s super hot, they appreciate a nice hose down and rolling in mud.
Cows have pressure points on their noses that give them tons of release and comfort when pressed on. Orbit here, as you can tell, is really enjoying the feeling. She was even drooling a bit.
I love walking through this everyday. I find myself singing to myself often, “Out here in the fieeeelds, not far from my meeeeeals. I put my back into my livingggg” from The Who.

That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

You Can Farm – Book Review

EVERY regenerative farmer, or person interested in regenerative farming, knows that Joel Salatin is a regenerative agriculture guru. He is an inspiration and wealth of knowledge.

This book written by him is no different! You Can Farm is a little over 430 pages, but I read it in less than a week because Mr. Salatin is an excellent, blunt writer. Totally a 10/10 – must read!

I was a little hesitant about starting my own farm, but after this read, I feel like with the right mindset I can absolutely succeed.

You’ll get into the nitty gritty of farming with this one. Mr. Salatin goes in-depth talking about a range of topics like creating your vision, the best and worst opportunities, finding the right land, how to talk to your farmer neighbors, water sources, seasons, labor, accounting, tools needed, pricing your products… and much more. He really covers all the bases and does so using real life examples and explanations.

This book also does not sugar coat anything. Joel knows farming can be tough and often requires grit, sacrifice, and perseverance. But, as long as you learn from the mistakes of failed farmers, you should be good to go. For example, shiny, spanking new equipment is not really worth the economic rage in farming. Also, never let your livestock creep into your neighbors’ pasture – it’s just bad manners and can give you a bad reputation leading to less help (which you will absolutely need) in the future. The book gives numerous of examples like these.

If you have been wondering what it is like to be a successful farmer, this book is absolutely for you. It is a guide that a farmer will open up many a times during their career.

I hope you give this book a chance! If you do read it, or one of Joel Salatin’s other books, let us know what you thought 🙂

Lastly, check out this YouTube channel featuring Joel here.

That’s all for now!

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Where Are All the Factory Farms?

Hi all,

Ughhhhh. I truly hate this topic. It is my life’s MISSION to put an end to factory farms because they hurt my heart so, so very much. The thought of helpless living beings cramped into cages too small for the animal to even turn around is agonizing. I’ll spare you the visual images as they are heart-breaking.

Factory farms are incomprehensible. Cheap, risky meat that is unhealthy to eat is absolutely not worth the evil of factory farms.

However, the purpose of this post is not to tell you about how factory farms impact the environment by leaching chemicals and feces (can you say, ‘swine manure lake’?), or how they spread diseases to both humans and animals, or how they deliberately put so-called farmers in economic turmoil, or how they create dangerous “food”.

Instead, I’d like to share with you a map of all the factory farms in America. Is there one near you?

Thank you to theintercept.com for this image.

This data was EXTREMELY difficult to locate. Check out this article by Alleen Brown to read about missing and hidden information on factory farms.

I urge everyone to purchase their meat from local, regenerative farms! Check out eatwild.com to find one near you 🙂 Also, recommend to your favorite restaurants to do the same.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany

Raise Your Word Writing Help

If you’re struggling with customizing your resume to a job posting or meeting the requirements on your academic paper, then take advantage of this opportunity to improve your future! With affordable options and personalized services, you can be sure to meet your professional and academic goals.
Contact me at RaiseYourWordWriting@gmail.com or message my inbox.
Looking forward to aiding all of your writing needs!

Take A Walk Today

Hi all,

Every morning the first thing I do is take my dog for a walk. It is the BEST part of my day.

Today I’d like to take the opportunity to suggest that you take a walk.

Walking is one of the most natural actions a human can take. We’ve been walking since the beginning. When a baby takes their first steps, it is a glorious moment of celebration.

Whether you live in the big city or countryside, you have the opportunity to walk.

Pay attention to the world around you. Focus on your senses. First, what do you smell? Then, what do you hear? How about taste, touch? And then what do you see? Focus on the little details and the parts you normally ignore.

Even a 5-10 minute walk has the potential to put you in a great mindset. Try it out and share with us your results!

That’s all for now.

In Soil We Trust,

Tiffany