Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: On animals and worldviews

I suspect that one of the driving forces of the greatest changes in society over the past 100 years versus the past several millenia has been specific movement of people away from caring for food animals.

One cannot help but learn about the brutal realities of the cycle of life to death to life when one cares for food animals. As a result, one cannot help but see the realities of the same cycle in every other part of life. Such realizations cannot help but make someone more pragmatic at the least, if not even a little fatalistic.

That kind of pragmatism then fueled all sorts of ways of thinking that dominated most of human history. And while, yes, that thinking justified all sorts of things we moderns consider savage and inhuman, it also gave birth to the world we have today and, to a great part, continues to sustain it long after most people have forgotten what it all might mean.

Now, being engaged in that kind of undertaking, I find my own thinking inevitably changed by the reality of what I do. In some ways I am softer. In some ways I am harder than I ever imagined I could ever be. My focus is different–dare I say, more focused–and the change in my view of the realities of life and death could not be more profound.

I understand the impracticality of a general return to agriculture, but I cannot help but wonder if we would not benefit from a return to some parts of the worldview it fostered. We need more pragmatism in a world sometimes blinded by the shining and ofttimes false optimism of modernity.  We could do worse than to revisit history, and I’m certain we can benefit from it.

DLH

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Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: And so much more…

I’ve discovered over the past five years that people have huge preconceptions about what being a farmer means. I know, coming in, I had all sorts of them, and I know I am surrounded by fellow farmers who have deeply held ideas about their profession. One of my first posts on this site dealt with one of them, and dredged up the almost predictable responses (I’m not linking to it simply because I want to talk about something else).

One of the preconceptions I had coming in was the nature of what farm work meant in the first place. Many people, including my onetime self, have the idea that farming is as simple as growing and harvesting a crop or raising and selling an animal. I’m here to tell you firsthand that, whatever kind of farming one does, that could not be further from the truth.

Even at its most monoculture, farming is a polyculture because it cannot be anything else. Farming demands knowledge of everything from agriculture to zoology and demands the farmer be everything from an accountant to a zoo keeper.

It’s not an accident, then, that history notes the rise of farming intertwined with the rise of what we think of as civilization. Domesticating, planting, raising, harvesting, and slaughtering plants and animals for food in more effective and efficient ways is the necessary mother that gave rise to everything we take for granted today, either by inventing the things we have or by enabling the things we have to be invented.

And so, in the end, I can think of few other undertakings as intensive and broad as that of the farmer. Granted, the hurdles are tall and the valleys are deep, but if anyone wants to fully challenge himself in the pursuit of life, the vocation of farmer is a place to do it.

DLH

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Seeing the world in studs: a Lego journey: First Fleet Patrol Ship

Here’s a screen shot of my LDD patrol ship design. A couple of notes about this design: 1. LDD won’t let you sideways build horizontally, so the ship is vertical. 2. LDD won’t let me stick connectors in the angle bricks, so there should be two on the top and bottom of the hull. 3. LDD won’t let me stick the engine nacelles on the connectors, so one is next to the ship for representation.

first fleet patrol ship

DLH

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Seeing the world in studs: a Lego journey: Lego Digital Designer and a Nanosfree on the Nanowater model

For those of you interested in designing Lego models who want the freedom of not tying up all your bricks while you design, I highly recommend Lego Digital Designer. It’s a great, free program from Lego that contains its entire virtual catalog of parts. It lets you save images and generate building instructions. With additional, also freely available extensions, you can also generate parts lists. You can export LDD files to other Lego building software programs including LDRAW. The only downside is that Lego discontinued CREATOR, which allowed you to upload your designs to Lego.com and to purchase custom sets based on those designs.

Using LDD, I am prototyping many of by builds before I construct them for a variety of reasons. I like the CAD feel of the design process, and I have already discovered my designs are improving by developing them electronically first. Below is screenshot of a nano model of the bank barn on my farm rendered in LDD: nanosfree bank barn

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Cobbled together from random parts: Dry erase paint work table surface

2014-12-31 13.14.42I have a few old, cheap folding tables I use as work tables in my studio. While working on another project, I discovered I had a surplus of dry erase paint, so I decided to pain the table surfaces with the paint as an experiment.

The surface turned out better than I expected. It took about six thin coats of paint applied with a foam roller to cover them, though there are still pits the dry erase marker can get into. Also, I’m not sure if it is a function of the paint or the surface, but they seem to be a little prone to ghosting. I’ve managed to overcome that so far with liberal use of dry erase board cleaner and shop towels.

If I do it again, I will definitely prime the surface first. I think a good latex primer would fill in a lot of the surface texture and produce a better finish for the dry erase paint.

Nevertheless, not bad for a spur of the moment experiment.

DLH

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