Monthly Archives: July 2017

Hey Tark

I was scheming with Tals at Langs party.

She said you were conversing not long ago about an open bar at your class reunion.

Not the “free” booze,

But that the bar was bought by one of your classmates who invented/developed something that was purchased by Apple.

And you weren’t that guy.

I wasn’t that guy either.

But, what are you doing about it?

That long chain of simple twists of fate that someday include a major monetary transaction…start with 1 simple twist of fate.

I was telling Tals about starting a knife sharpening business. Here I am, with several engineering degrees, an Officer in the United States Navy who previously operated shipboard nuclear power plants, starting a knife sharpening business.

It would appear…that I’m aiming a little low.

But it’s hard, man! How the hell am I going to sell my chicken coop monitoring app to Apple if I can’t even get my neighbor to let me sharpen her knives?


So, maybe starting a knife sharpening business is a little less about knife sharpening, and more about business.

Maybe what I’m doing is building an email list.

An email list of people who have a history of exchanging money with me, but also know that my word and reputation is legit.

And here’s the thing, man. Let’s go conservative;

  • Let’s say 10% will be repeat customers who take heed and value sharp cutlery and tools and decide to get a new grind every 6 months. Thank you kindly, I love you guys! But that means that 90% walk away.
  • Of those 10%, maybe half will bring me new business. Thanks guys and gals!
  • Of the remaining 5%, maybe half will buy my ebook, or download a building plan, or support me on Patreon, or join my Egg Club, or provide venture capital into my pastured poultry operation, or…
  • BUT! What about those outliers, Tark? The Black Swans. The 1% that actually direct the path of the future.

Could you believe it if what I’m really trying to do is increase my odds of finding or becoming a black swan?

That dude that bought you that tasty IPA, he’s a black swan. Pick his brain clean, man.

Here’s how: find a way to add value to his life, and then extract value to your own. Screw this coffee or lunch BS. Send him something valuable, then do it again, and then send him your pitch for that product that will change the future.

Frankly, I don’t care what you do, but you have to do something. Why?

  1. Because you’re smart enough to influence the direction of man.
  2. You’re wise enough to only do it to better mankind.

Thanks in advance.


PS. Instead of sending you this email, I’m sending it to the world, because it applies to everyone.

This is stupid…

Burning diesel to cut grass.

Someday I’m going to turn this grass into meat, with the help of some sheep.

Before I can do that I need some capital to invest in fencing and sheep, and time to set it up.

The plan is to buy three sheep in the spring, paddock shift them in the pasture over the summer, and harvest them in the fall.

By raising three, I can keep two, and offset the cost by selling the other. At the moment, I’m leaning toward hair sheep vice wool sheep.

Using permanent fencing to establish my paddocks will be more work up front, but will make it easy to move the sheep. I can also follow the sheep with chickens, or use the paddocks to isolate a flock to control genetics for reproducing.

The sheep have the potential to improve the quality of the pasture by mowing it while fertilizing it, but I can also seed it after I move them out of a paddock to promote specific grasses or variety.

On an aside, while I was mowing I saw some vetch in the field. I’m fairly certain it came from the fall manure mix I planted in my garden last fall, which I’m a super fan of.

Much of the material I’ve learned about paddock shift pasture management has been experimentally researched and published by Greg Judy.

There is something inside a lot of us to want more land. I have it inside me, so I’m confronting it with the reality that the parcel that I do have is far from producing its potential. I have several ambitions with the acre of pasture that is currently in a stall pattern of getting mowed a few times a year.

Cutworm, you devil

It’s kinda hard to see in this picture:

A cutworm chopped down my pepper seedling.

But the stem is cut just above the soil.

What happens, is, you come out in the morning, and those pretty little seedlings you just put in are cut down.

Nice healthy plant. Laying next to, but removed from, it’s roots.

The culprit: Cutworm.

It’s a little worm hanging out in the soil. It crawls up your little seedlings and takes a bite, and when the plants are this small, it’s enough to chop them down.

The solution?

Build a fortress around your seedlings.

I used newspaper.

A newspaper fortress around my tomato plant, impenetrable by the cutworm devil.

Other good options are: toilet paper rolls, soup cans (bottom removed), small yogurt containers (bottom removed).

After protecting each of my seedlings with newspaper I didn’t lose any more transplants. Before then, it was like 1 or 2 every morning. Enough to decimate a small scale gardener.

Log this as organic pest management.

Applied Permaparenting

Applied Permaparenting – or – How to stop driving your kids away from projects.

First thing, let them participate.

Hold on. Better yet. First thing, communicate openly with them, listen, and then, let them participate.

I drove my 4-year-old daughter away from beekeeping after our first hive inspection. She said, “I’m bored” and walked away.

How come no one wants to play with me?

Between inspections we spoke about it, and in doing so, I learned that I need to let her in on it, even if it means doing some things her way.

So, for the second hive inspection, we both geared up together and I asked her to collect and carry all the tools out. We planned ahead the portions of the inspection that she would do, such as, opening the hive, and we also spoke about the portions that I would do, like handling the frames.

The inspection went well. I helped her get the cover off, the hive top feeder, and the inner cover. Then I directed, and let her set up the frame rests and tools. We shared our observations of the frames, and when she got bored, I decided that we’ve seen enough, so she helped me put a new super on the hive, and close it all up.

Here’s the big question…what’s my why?

Why am I getting up at 5am to get an hour in the garden before the family gets rolling?

Why am I compelled to document the things I’m working on, and post them on the world wide web?

The genesis is in my desire to be an awesome father and husband. By growing and raising the best food on earth: we eat better, we save money, we grow together as a family, we value food and the conversation that should be had while enjoying the harvest.

What good is all that if I’m so anal about the details that I drive everyone else away.

Don’t step there!

Put that down!

Those of you in the game know exactly where I’m coming from. It’s hard.

Somewhere there’s the balance of patience, yet not having everything trampled, dropped, thrown or otherwise destroyed.

I’m learning. Learning to find the parts that everyone is interested in and letting go of some control of them. I think harvesting will be a big one that my daughter will find joy in.

Two events have reinforced that this approach (homesteading) carries value.

First, after our hive inspection, when my daughter was on her way back to the house, she was confronted by our bantam rooster. He gave her quite a fright. She ran to me crying, I got down with her, eye to eye, and asked her to do a self-assessment. What hurts? Nothing. Just scared the bejesus out of her. Together we walked past that rooster. We still have a ways to go before she’ll stand up to that rooster, but that path is a great opportunity for a little girl to learn about courage.

Secondly, death came up at her school. Her teacher shared with my wife and I that death can be a tough topic in the classroom. My daughter took the opportunity to share her story about death with her whole class. The death of our dearest little silkie, Soufflé. Death sucks no matter how you shake it, but learning about it on chickens is a nice precursor to coping with it on people.

Reflections on the homestead.

Do more, be wonderful.