Agrarian Interdependence


#21

I must admit that I struggle with this a bit. Not sure if it’s the geography or my personality though. :wink:

I’m attracted to farming for the same reason scene-ing is tough for me: I like to do my thing on my own terms. Kind of an introvert that way.


#22

Yeah we’ll see.

What’s nice is that we specifically chose Porto for life/music/art reasons, so we like the place and we’re only 30min from the city center anyways, which as someone who grew up in Miami was how far you would drive to your friend’s house who lived nearby…

That and I’ve always been a big fan of virtual/online community and engagement. I don’t necessarily value the “physical” higher in significance.


#23

Yeah. What I mean is being close enough to a city so I can still play shows as much as I would like. Which right now, is a lot. Maybe that will change. Living in a city is beginning to get old.


#24

Ah right. Yeah I guess that’s the trade off, but 30min isn’t the end of the world.


#25

30 minutes is nowhere near enough time to get out of SF or LA and into the country. More like 2-3 hours. I’m sure the situation is similar in many large cities.

So if you live in a big city like that, moving to the country (and maintaining a connection to a nearby city) is a double-whammy: not only are you changing the context of your home, but you’re also relocating to a smaller city where the rural/urban split isn’t quite as severe (ie: where the suburbs haven’t sprawled so far).

I think that’s two leaps too far for many people. But I maintain it’s worth consideration.

EDIT: there is some risk though, of just finding yourself living a suburban lifestyle in an exurb. I don’t think anybody is advocating for that, but it could happen if you don’t watch your step.


#26

For sure. I loved that about Huddersfield.


#27

Those are survey calls! Bearing measurements. Beautiful survey map btw


#28

I’m another tech worker who has been fortunate enough to take the opportunity to move away from the city. I still work for a big tech company, but I get to do it in a small community surrounded by plants and animals rather than bricks and mortar. I am much happier living this way, but the flip side is that my visits to the city have started to feel more and more dystopian and bleak. There’s a lot to like about modern civilization, but the more time I spend on its fringes the more I see it as a prison for the mind.

I do suffer from being disconnected from any kind of music scene here. There’s nothing “up my alley” happening around here, unfortunately. I try to address this by traveling to attend music festivals and the like, and also by participating more actively in online communities like this one.


#29

Where are you located?


#30

Australia’s east coast.


#31

Some kind of scattershot/ramble-y questions.

Have any of you incorporated tech stuff into your farming/growing things? (sensors, microcontrollers, IoT)

Or similarly for any animals? (automatic feeders/water/tempcontrol)

Solar/inverter/battery power?

Solar water heating?

Biogas?


#32

I interpreted “similarly for any animals” as incorporating tech into animals.
And also read “biogas” as “bee-yogas”.

So, you know, if anyone has any experience with that stuff too, please share.


#33

As a geek, of course I thought about it, but it turns out to be only a good idea at either tiny or massive scales. How do you provide power and networking to hundreds of sensors, on slim margins? Also, it’s completely unnecessary at our scale. I can easily put my own two eyeballs on everything and turning valves by hand is no big deal.

All 20 of our animals are lovingly fed and watered by hand. It’s one of the most relaxing things I do all day. The barn is open to the air with no temp control. California is far more mild and temperate than the Andes mountains.

We don’t have solar yet. Used to live off the grid though, on 70s era tech. Principles are the same but things are way slicker now. I also designed the UI for a solar power leasing company’s solar design software. AMA. Going solar is on the list but we had a long list of other things to take care of first.

Solar water heating seems good and simple but I’ve never tried it myself.

No biogas, just propane that comes on a truck.


#34

I guess there is one pretty fancy piece of tech here, and that’s the variable frequency drive that controls our well pump. This gives us precise control of the amount of pressure we are pushing into our irrigation system. Not strictly necessary but it comes in handy.

The tractor is also pretty slick. Because I’m too lazy to do like my farm mentor and keep ancient tractors going.

I did not anticipate what a large collection of mowing and weed whipping gear I’d end up with.


#35

congratulations @Rodrigo and @Angela a fun adventure awaits you.

I left IT and the cities quite a while back… and move to mountains in (very) rural southern Spain.
I miss the city buzz at time (we’d have to go the coast, perhaps Granada) but then when Im walking the dogs in the mountains, or seeing yet another glorious sunset, or a sky so full of stars , i just stare… my city life feels so disconnected from nature.

(that said, im glad i live in various cities of the world while i was younger, wouldn’t change that!)

i don’t do farming , the local farmers here need supporting, as there is little in the area…

round here you can get stuff thats come straight from the farms quite easily… as they ‘tour’ the local markets. ( no fancy farmers markets here, its just called a market :wink: )

we are completely off-grid, so have a well - and everything is driven by solar , so we have both solar hot water, and solar photovoltaic systems. works really well.
we also have a biomass incinerator, which we fuel with either almond husks, or olive stones. (local by products)

id completely recommend solar hot water, its cheap and really effective.
photovoltaic too, but you have to plan it well , and work out sizing, and also if you want it as full electric source, or supplemental to mains.

we have a diesel generator as a backup, though its only turned on a couple of times a year - as we have good amount of storage in the solar system.

finally we do use (guilty secret) propane for the cookers (apart from our pizza oven :slight_smile: ) , you could use a wood burning stove, but they are really inefficient and heat up the house in summer… and electric is probably too much of a drain on the solar.

i really love the off-grid life, really gives you a great feeling for your impact in the environment :slight_smile:


#36

In some ways I miss the simplicity of the 1st gen tech. Didn’t work nearly as well, but the funny thing is that you just adapt. Living within those constraints really makes it obvious how little electricity we really need most of the time.


#37

Oh, speaking of electricity, we just converted one of our barn stalls into a walk-in cooler. Very heavily insulated and controlled by a modified air conditioner. It’s a super cost-effective way to get cold storage going.


#38

I’ve often pondered adding some sensors to our water system, as we live off rainwater and in dry spells it’d be good to know our rate of consumption relative to what’s left. I’m not sure how much a flow rate sensor would affect water pressure; anyone tried this?

But otherwise I am generally trying to use less technology, not more (outside my studio, of course!).


#39

I haven’t used one, but I’d be really surprised if a flow rate sensor had any appreciable effect on pressure.


#40

Awesome, thanks for a lot of the info. Obviously we’ll have more concrete thoughts (and questions) once we settle in and get the lay of the land (literally!).

That’s interesting. I can completely see that being the case. Again, not based on anything, I would imagine it being useful knowing if one of the areas further from the house hasn’t been getting much sun (or water) and how to maximize what’s possible there. Or even selecting what to grow where.

I guess what I’m poking towards is what I superficially imagine a fusion between ‘one straw’ and technology would be.

Amazing!
I had a superficial googling on solar stuff in Portugal and there’s lots of companies options out there. It would be amazing to go completely off grid, or as @TheTechnobear mentioned, maybe having a backup diesel generator, but most of what I saw was a smaller system with an inverter/battery that just minimized your power bill.

What’s particularly exciting about off-grid-ness is that our place is already well water, and has central heating that runs off the fireplace. (there’s normal radiators around the house that are heated from the fireplace), so there’s only internet, electricity, and propane tanks for the stove.

The previous owner mentioned putting in solar water heating and that it would work out well, she just never got around to it. No shortage of sun in Portugal (other than winter).

How big is your solar setup? How many panels, batteries, etc…
Since you’re nearby (in Spain), I imagine it would be somewhere similar even though you’re further south.

What do you use the biomass incinerator for? Or is it just to get rid of waste?

So is this tied into the main power system of the house, or when you use the generator do you run an extension cord into the house and run off that?

Just wondering if it’s as simple as flicking a switch when you run out of solar power, or if it means doing a whole complicated thing.