Experimental Homestead

Peeling Oak Bark for Tanning Leather and Apple Breeding Update



Here are a couple of recent videos I did on the stuff I do around here.  One is a short update on labeling and protecting fruit that was pollinated earlier this year as part of my apple breeding project.  I talk a little about the breeding parents and related stuff, but it’s pretty straightforward and short, with a quick visit to my new pig.

The second is a follow along while I cut down, cut up, and peel the bark off of a tan oak tree that is infected with the organism involved in sudden oak death.  I use the bark for tanning skins.  I’m working on a book right now on tanning with plant materials like bark, various leaves and pods and stuff like that.  Writing, research and experiments around that project now consume most of  my time, energy and thought.  In the video I show a few pieces of leather tanned with oak bark, peel the bark, split the wood and clean it all up.  There are few things I’d rather do with my time than that type of forestry work.  Splitting wood, playing with wood, using my axe, burning brush to make charcoal, etc..   is all my idea of a good time!  woo hoo!  It’s really hard for me to cut these videos down and focus them in.  There are so many satellite topics I want to talk about!   Definitely some stuff coming on axe use, wood splitting tutorials, forestry and forest ecology, and lots of tanning and skin working stuff.

July 25, 2015 Posted by | animal parts, Apples, BioChar, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts, Forestry, plant breeding | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

A Video Tour of my Amateur Apple Breeding Project



A walk around looking at various parts of my apple breeding project.  It doesn’t look like much, but I think it’s getting the job done.  I spotted my first blossom while filming this.  Way cool, that means I’ll probably have some bloom next year, hopefully followed by fruit!

July 5, 2015 Posted by | Apples, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts, grafting, plant breeding | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Amateur Apple Breeding Video Series Launched!

spread the love baby (you have to read that in the voice of Issaic Hayes;)

Ooooooh Yeeeaaaahhhhh, The Money shot.  Spread the love baby (you have to read that in the voice of Isaac Hayes;)



Yay!  The apple breeding video series is off the ground!  I really wanted to get it launched this year because I made a lot of pollinations this time around, and I’m not sure how many more years I’ll be doing it.

The first two videos are published .  They are basically the same video in two parts, of me talking about why I’m breeding apples and basically why I think more people should breed plants, apple breeding history, along with some gentle ranting (only had to bleep out one %$#*& word!  Pat me on the head).  The next videos will be thoughts on selecting parents and then onto the fun part, the first how to segment which is on pollination.  The pollination segment is mostly done, and I think it really turned out beautifully with my new drastically improved video capabilities.  (BTW, I will most gladly accept any donations of old manual film camera lenses to further expand those capabilities.  I think I’ve bought every 5.00 junk store camera lens in Ukiah already! :D  I can adapt nearly any older lens from any brand to my Sony NEX 5 camera.  The manual lenses have better focus rings, and often smoother zoom than modern lenses, which can be useful for video…  and they’re cheap.)

The concept of this series is to follow the entire breeding process starting from pollination, for many years onward, until those specific crosses bear fruit, and likely beyond that as the fruit is assessed over a number of years to see if it is worth naming and propagating.   Also, we’ll be following my progress with the whole project which is around 4 years in right now.  I made my first pollinations in spring 2011, so I may get lucky and have some fruit as early as next year.  One of my first seedlings is actually fruiting now, but it is just an open pollinated seedling of Wickson from my friends at The Apple Farm near here, so the pollen parent of that one is unknown.

In order to keep to my usual lower frequency/higher content posting, I won’t be posting all the updates here.  I believe that if you have a google account of any kind, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for updates.  If I get up to 500 subscribers, I can change my youtube user name/URL, which I will need to do pretty soon when I implement whatever plans I settle on for changing up my websites and youtube channels.  I know, I’ve been saying I’m going to do that for years, but it’s coming, for reals… someday, hopefully soon, when I get it “right”.  My main goal with this video series to is to continue to incite creativity and deeper participation in what we are growing and eating, so please share so I can corrupt more people!  mwaahhhahahahhhaaa…

Thank you all so much for your many comments over the years, and just for being an audience for me.  So without further delay…

This link is to the playlist into which all the videos in this series will be dropped.

This link is to the playlist into which all the videos in this series will be dropped as they are finished.

And for those of you interested in such things, which I imagine are quite a few, I also just started a series that follows the making of high grade Hide Glue from a large bull skin.  Parts 2 and three should be out soon.  This is a sort of follow along and learn as you go type of thing, released as separate videos as I go through the various steps.  The hide glue will eventually be for sale, probably on the Etsy Paleotechnics account.

Hide Glue Making Series

Hide Glue Making Series

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Apples, Food and Drink Making, Food Trees Fruits and Nuts | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Some News, and Videos on Scion Storage and Cleaning Black Trumpet Mushrooms



A couple of videos and a little news on apples and flowers!

It’s grafting season.  A lot of people have probably already finished their scion trading, but here is my take on storing and shipping scions.  I was so caught up in the details that I kind of forgot the basics, like store them in the refrigerator.  If it were more comprehensive, it would also include storing the scions without refrigeration, which maybe I’ll do later, but same basic concepts apply.  Mostly, I was trying to address the potential of excess water and the use of paper to cause problems.

And for those of you who are lucky enough to have black trumpet mushrooms in your neck of the woods, this video is on how I clean them really fast, and dry them. It also includes a (what in my opinion is an all too short) rant on efficiency and work as a symbolic activity.  It is a long video for how to do something really fast, but I think the stuff about intention and mental attitude is just as important as the physical part, and it will save your a lot of time in the long run if cleaning large quantities.

DOOOOODS!!!  Two flowers from the first batch of Daffodil Seedlings grown from seeds pollinated in 2011 have put forth flower buds!  The bulbs are  still rather small, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are under-developed, but that’s still pretty exciting, especially considering that I haven’t taken stellar care of them.  I figured I was at least another year off from seeing anything.  I seem to pick breeding projects that take a long time.  Daffodils typically take about 4 years or more, and apples 5 or more years.  They should open within the week, at which point I may have to update the Daffodil Lust series with a new post.  Even more exciting, one of the seedlings is from Young Love, the daffodil that inspired it all!

Young Love seedling

Young Love seedling.  Not sure who dad is.  She was rather promiscuous that year.

I just recieved 50 apple rootstocks in the mail for grafting up my latest round of red fleshed apple seedlings, and last year’s pollinations are sprouting up in the greenhouse.  Good news, I just talked to my friend Freddy Menge, who is sort of my apple guru or early inspiration.  We talk about apples on the phone about every other year.  He’s getting results from his apple seedling trials, which I believe are mostly open pollinated, but he has a good collection of quality hand selected varieties growing, not just some random stuff.  He say that he gets more apples that are worth eating than ones that aren’t.  That’s just what I suspected when I started my breeding project and what Albert Etter seemed to be saying.  It also is totally at odds with what passes for common “knowledge”.  He has sent me two of his seedlings that I’m trying out, one I’ve been calling King Wickson (not sure if he has a name for it) which he thinks is a King David x Wickson cross.  The other selection is Crabby Lady a small, more intensely flavored version of the latest ripening apple here, Lady Williams, also thought to be crossed with Wickson crab.  Crabby Lady ripens at the same time as Lady Williams, and sounds like a real improvement on an already very good and super late apple, so that really got my attention.  I’m hoping King Wickson will fruit this year, but I just grafted Crabby Lady this past week.

Freddy also said that about 1/4 to 1/3rd of his red fleshed apple seedlings have red flesh.  I was hoping for a little higher percentage on that, but such is life.  I may do some crosses between red fleshed apples this year to try to reinforce the red fleshed trait.  Another amateur plant breeder just contacted me through the blog who is also gearing up to do some red fleshed apple breeding.  Yay for grass roots apple breeding for the masses!

I’m off to get ready for the farmer’s market in the morning.  Not much in the way of vegetables to sell anymore, but I cleaned up selling Erlicheer narcissus flowers on Valentines day and have a new batch ready to go.  It’s nice to have that plan working out.  The Erlicheer are planted along both sides of a row of oblique cordon apple trees, so they require no extra care other than what I already do in taking care of the apples.  By the time the apples are leafing out, the flowers are thinking about going to sleep, so they have nearly opposite seasons

Flowers for market. !Kaching!

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Apples, Daffodils, Foraging, Garden Stuff, grafting | , , , , | 4 Comments