We bring you Fort Collins. Volume 1, Issue 4
wolverine farm publishing
fort collins , colorado
S mal l '
let s get
FortBecause Collins SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
Meaning an exploration of small, tiny, and otherwise mighty things in the Choice City, including, but not limited to: micro-crocheting, soil horizons, fly tying, wonderful straight razors, sauerkraut, The Food School, tiny homes, a meditation on why Steve Martin is funny, a missing ode to E.F. Schumacher, birds, insects, a cow named Mouse, the Prebel Jumping Mouse, snowflakes, and a group of bus-loving nomads we admire and secretly wish to be part of, amongst other usual fare and local offerings.
fort collins courier
Fort Collins Courier Issue 4, Vol. 1, Winter 2014
Wolverine Farm Publishing PO BOX 814 Fort Collins, Colorado 80522
he inspiration for an issue themed on the idea that “small is beautiful” emerged years ago, when Wolverine Farm Publishing worked with New Belgium Brewing on the Tour de Fat. The tour was on the East Coast for the first time, and all the big cities and busy highways had us longing for some of the smaller aspects of Fort Collins. We imagined a themed bike ride through the Fort, visiting small houses like the Vulture House on Mountain Avenue, or small businesses like Shaveco, the appliance repair shop downtown, plus other secret stops accessible only from alleys. Upon our arrival back in Fort Collins, and despite our best intentions, the idea got pocketed for a few years. In the interim, Shaveco closed down, and someone scraped two of the Vulture Trees, reportedly, to build a large, new home. Seems like Fort Collins could use a dose of small right about now, when most of our sights are set on bigger and better. We hope we inspire you to look beyond the hype of the limitless, the humdrum of the neverending growth machine. Go small.
Chris Jusell photographer
Dina Fike contributors
Jenna Allen Evan Brengle Meryl DePasquale Bill Hepp Danny Hesser Claire Heywood Lindsey Hoover Beth Kopp Lynda McCullough Jess Moore Kevin Moreng Jeff Nye Yamina Pressler Kayann Short publisher/designer
Todd Simmons board of directors
Heather Manier Bryan Simpson Nate Turner Kathleen Willard
Wolverine Farm Publishing is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Fort Collins, CO. We publish books, this community newspaper, and collaborate with other non-profits, businesses, and people toward a more mindful engagement with the world. Donations accepted online or by mail.
e s t . 2003 A 501( c )3 n o n - p ro f i t o rg a n i z at i o n
The F ort C ollins C ourier brings information, tools, and expertise together to help our community members live engaged and more self-reliant lives. We
want to explore the paths locals take, and inspire visitors with our city’s unique charm. Our areas-of-interest stem from our decade-long relationship with Fort Collins—in each issue we’ll feature content about bicycles, agriculture and the local food movement, as well as reporting about environmental issues and profiles of local makers and the return to craft. We distribute 5,000 copies of each issue by bicycle to over 50 locations throughout Fort Collins, and each print issue is bolstered by weekly web updates and fresh online content. Engage often at www.wolverinefarm.org.
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In Praise of
“Getting Small” by Bill Hepp
hen I was growing up, I felt pressured to do something weighty. My dad’s father, a WWII veteran and successful attorney, used to say, “Life is hard; life is earnest,” pounding his fist on the nearest tabletop for emphasis. I have a photo of him standing in front of the fireplace in his den (read: man cave). This photo is all you need to know. Wearing a black suit and skinny tie, a white handkerchief pokes dapperly from his breast pocket. He holds a martini in his right hand, a lit cigarette in his left. On the mantle behind him lies a shotgun. To his right stands my seven-year-old father, wearing a policeman’s uniform. My grandfather has one of those humorless, flat-lined smiles that acknowledges the propriety of putting on a happy face for the camera without actually smiling. His eyes are grave. Bapa was “black Irish,” suffered from depression, drank two martinis at lunch on a workday, and died in his 60s from throat cancer. Instead of rebelling from this intellectually challenging, physically imposing barrel-chested juggernaut of masculinity, his son—my father—tried to follow in his footsteps.
like a John Mellencamp song. And when it doesn’t turn out that way, we feel cheated. Until we realize that the impossible standards we hold ourselves to are absurd.
I find this staunch paternal seriousness to be stifling, this lack of levity isn’t fun. Life is far too delightful to be taken with such funereal severity. In comparison, laughter and silliness is like oxygen. Hearing Steve Martin for the first time was an epiphany for my young ears. When I heard the album Let’s Get Small at a friend’s house, it was like Harry Potter realizing he spoke parseltongue. Here, finally, was someone who spoke my language! It was like each laugh brought with it the lifting of heavy expectations, the loosening of parental shackles. It also got me sent to Catholic school.
Let me tell you something about Jay. He didn’t set out to build a small house. He was a single guy with an MFA in painting, living in Iowa City, and he wasn’t all that happy. A devotee of Thoreau, he got by sparingly. He taught art on Long Island in the summer, sleeping in the bed of his Toyota pick-up. He stocked organic vegetables and taught drawing during the winter. He was searching (like we all are) for truth. He lived by creeds. He dared to ask, “What aesthetic principles should I live my life by?” Imagine collecting all of the great ideas and philosophies that you have been exposed to, and then going through and weeding out the lesser ideas and redundant concepts until you have, say, ten ideas that resonate most deeply with you. Now examine your life and see how it matches up to these ideas and do away with everything that doesn’t. In a nutshell, that’s what Jay did. He combed through the thinkers that he was exposed to during his higher education and collected their essential thoughts, or philosophies, and wrote them down with deliberate, miniscule penmanship. He created a sculpture years before he built the first tiny house, where he took strips of wood about the size of paint stirrers, painted them white, then wrote on each piece an idea, or a quote. Then he assembled these pieces into a small shelter, just a few feet high. It used philosophy as shelter and principles as building material.
To wit, from Martin’s comedy album: “I’m on drugs. I like to get small. It’s pretty dangerous for kids, because they get real small. Once I crawled inside a vacuum cleaner— and the drug wore off. For two weeks I walked around shaped like a vacuum cleaner. It was wiiilllddd!” I can’t hear the word “small” without thinking of my friend, Jay. He is now known as the “tiny house guy,” having started the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and is one of the leaders in the tiny house movement. We worked at the New Pioneer food co-op together in Iowa City in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I worked in the kitchen. Jay stocked produce. One day at work, I walked up to him, grabbed the seat of my pants, and announced: “I made a potato.” We became fast friends.
“It’s just impossible to put a Cadillac in your nose.”
One problem with trying to describe what makes Steve Martin’s stand-up act funny is that he deliberately tries to do a routine without punch lines: tone of voice, inflection, sarcasm, and good ol’ slapstick somehow gave his act wings. He intends to be unconventional. He wants to make people laugh, but in such a way that left them wondering. His corny character is convinced of his cleverness, imagining that nothing is funnier than wearing a prop that looks like he has been shot in the head with an arrow. He so obviously believes he’s slaying the audience that he’s gloating about it. What he does is ridiculous, filled with nonsequiturs, and makes so little sense, that you can’t believe that anyone would actually do what he’s doing and think its funny. Which is funny. He turns conventions upside down. A seminal show that Martin performed in the early ’70s saw him exiting the stage through the audience, the whole time telling the crowd, “That’s it—the show is over” (and apparently meaning it, as he couldn’t find a stage exit). The audience followed him out onto the street, thinking it was all part of the act. Eventually he hailed a cab, took it around the block, and waved farewell as he rode past the assembled audience. The line between performance and reality is thinned to the point that everything becomes comedy, all is ridiculous and hilarious. I love that. It’s all a joke. It’s all silly. Philippe Petit, the high wire artist and subject of the documentary Man on Wire, said, “People always ask me ‘why.’ Why? What is this why? There is no why!” Your life needs to be constructed within a traditional framework of college, job, marriage, house, cars, and kids. It should look like a Norman Rockwell painting and sound
The first tiny house on wheels that he built grew organically from his beliefs. First, he bought the flatbed trailer on which to build, and then he saved money for many months before he could afford building materials, all the while living in a tiny Airstream trailer. He ate out often. He was partial to other people’s bathrooms. I remember making a mess on his dinky stove while cooking pasta and morel mushrooms that were foraged from the woods surrounding his trailer. He was horrified when he saw the mess. He was fastidious; I was an impetuous 25-year-old. “It’s wild...to get...small.” Which means what? Small compared to what? Isn’t it relative? Isn’t it a state of mind? I think it has more to do with clarity, essence, and calling bullshit on conventions: removing the unnecessary baggage so we can be free. And laugh.
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FOAM ON THE ROAM
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WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW Writing workshops for children and adults taught by local writers and educators across a wide variety of themes and genres. One of the many offerings coming in 2015 at Wolverine Farmâ€™s Letterpress & Publick House. Currently under construction in the River District, Wolverine Farm Publishingâ€™s Letterpress & Publick House will feature a working letterpress print shop, literary, art, & craft workshops, a coffee & beer bar, plus indoor/outdoor space for events & other cultural programming. Look toward our website for project updates: www . wolverinefarm . org
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Literature It ’ s a Small Press World by Beth Kopp
n a recent interview with The Oregonian, Lena Dunham mentioned visiting Powell’s Books’ small press section. She said she was looking for her usual, “feminist litanies and poetry.” Being somewhat familiar with Dunham’s work, I wasn’t surprised. But I always get excited when small or indie presses make an appearance in the media or have a book on a bestseller list. Small presses typically publish fewer than ten books per year and gross less than $50 million. (In comparison, Penguin Random House publishes more than 15,000 new titles annually and made $3.66 billion in 2013.) Even smaller than small presses, micro-presses have also started popping up in the publishing world. These presses do limited runs of a few books per year. They often produce poetry chapbooks or other handmade books. Small presses set themselves apart by being selective about the types of books they publish. Many are dedicated to specific genres or have mission statements that guide the types of books they publish. All of the books reviewed in this issue are published by small presses. Here are a few other small presses to check out.
Milkweed Editions A nonprofit publisher out of Minneapolis, Milkweed produces 15 to 20 books each year from authors including Edward Abbey, Rick Bass, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Laura Pritchett. Their mission is to identify, nurture, and publish transformative literature while building an engaged community around it. www.milkweed.org
Future Tense Books Future Tense is a Portland-based micropress that has been publishing chapbooks, short-story collections, memoirs, and novellas for the past 24 years. Their Scout Book series features works by authors such as Sommer Browning, Melody Owen, and Aaron Gilbreath, and are printed on the customizable pocket notebooks made by Scout Books. www.futuretensebooks.com
McSweeney’s Founded in San Francisco by editor Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s publishes approximately 30 books a year, along with a quarterly literary journal and a monthly magazine called The Believer. McSweeney’s has published works by George Saunders, Michael Chabon, Stephen King, David Foster Wallace, and Joyce Carol Oates. In October of this year, they announced their intention to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which will help them “continue to pursue a wide range of ambitious projects—projects that take risks, that support ideas beyond the mainstream marketplace, and that nurture emerging work.” www.mcsweeneys.net
Chelsea Green Publishing Founded in 1984 in Vermont, Chelsea Green publishes books on the politics and practice of sustainable living by authors such as Eliot Coleman and Naomi Wolf. Their purpose is to “stop the destruction of the natural world by chal-
lenging the beliefs and practices that are enabling this destruction and by providing inspirational and practical alternatives that promote sustainable living.” www.chelseagreen.com
Graywolf Press Now one of the leading independent and nonprofit presses, Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press started out in 1974 publishing limited-edition chapbooks of poetry, printed on a letterpress and hand sewn. This year one of their books, The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, debuted at number 11 on the New York Times paperback bestseller list. www.graywolfpress.org
You can find over 450 more small presses at Small Press Distribution (www.spdbooks. org).
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Since opening our bookstore inside the Bean Cycle Coffeehouse in October 2005, we’ve received over 75,000 donated books. The proceeds from the sale of these books helps pay for publishing efforts such as the Fort Collins Courier, as well as literacy programs and community outreach. Thank you to our vital supporters and patrons—we appreciate your generosity. wo lve rinefa rm.o rg : 9 70 .4 7 2 . 4 2 84 1 4 4 N. C olle g e Ave n u e F o rt co l l ins, co 8 0 524
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What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned, by Sherman Alexie Review by Danny Hesser
Animals in Motion, by David Ryan Review by Evan Brengle
Correct Animal, by Rebecca Farivar Review by Abigail Kerstetter
Shamefully, I was not a poetry reader until now. I had dabbled, but works like The Wasteland generally make me feel uneducated. Every reader alive may have a poet or two who will speak to them in a way that other literature cannot. My foray into the writings of Sherman Alexie, who identifies himself first and foremost as a poet, proved that he may well be just that writer for me. Part of that could be my fascination with the plight of Native America. Certain poems in What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned, Alexie’s latest collection of poems, seem prescribed to hit the average white reader square in the face. And then you find yourself laughing. My favorites are those that present just the facts, usually sarcastically, often uproariously. Here’s one from “Happy Holidays!”:
David Ryan’s stories are typified by introspective characters enduring extreme situations. In his collection, Animals in Motion, characters face car crashes, kidnappings, houses falling into the ocean. These violent events are not the focus of each story, however. The characters are largely disinterested in these calamities—rather, they are immersed in personal recollections amidst the outward turmoil. While tension arises from the dichotomy between tumultuous external events and reflective internal reverie, the true conflict of each story comes from the characters’ ordinary problems: failing marriages, lost jobs, gained weight.
To be a correct animal, as Rebecca Farivar suggests in these haunting poems, is to find a useful shape; an agreeable shape. It is presenting a shape that the world can recognize and bend to its needs:
A working definition of tolerance: When Indians make money from white folks celebrating their independence. Someone who has been through much—who perseveres, and loves life, and appears to pay homage to the mystery of life—may or may not present those experiences in a narrative that pulls on us. Alexie is interesting in part because he has rendered his experiences with both sobering and hilarious voices. In the end, I love the fact that I can’t adequately describe what I feel with most of these pieces. Once, after reading “Sonnet, without Stuntmen,” I went down to the Poudre River and jumped in. That seemed, for some reason, an appropriate—maybe even necessary—thing to do. Publisher: Hanging Loose Press (November, 2013) Hanging Loose Press is based in Brooklyn, and has published some 200 books and 103 issues of their magazine. Learn more at www.hangingloosepress.com. Paperback: $19
In “Women Descending,” the main character’s wife has left him, the continuation of his job is questionable, and his neighborhood is overrun with drug addiction. Rather than dwelling on these factors, as anyone reasonably might, the protagonist persists in reviewing tape-recorded calls of customer complaints, surreptitiously writing letters from places he has only read about to a wife that he has not seen in weeks. Typical of Ryan’s work, the reader becomes invested less in the story’s action and more in the character’s sense of life becoming not what he had expected.
The animal state is one of becoming, whether we will it or not, and it comes at a price. Hands must be dirtied. The mud, “no. It won’t wash out.” There are lines to be drawn, sides to be on, but which is “correct,” the reader can’t be sure. There is a looming presence chasing these poems, or rather from which these poems are running, an unnamed “they”— They think you betray, want to know where you gallop, where you dropped your flower name.
Ryan’s characters are singularly resigned to their disillusionment. Rather than complaining or pitying themselves, they review their personal histories with almost clinical detachment. Their self-analyses rarely provide insight, as if caught in the midst of contemplations not yet concluded, portraying the all-too-human habit of revisiting memories as though with hindsight greater clarity could have been achieved, while in fact the view remains as muddy as ever.
In Correct Animal, Farivar imagines the familiar so strangely, it takes a minute to see the lake in the “glass jar / stuck in mud.” She draws connections to such disparate and disturbing events as beached whales with L.A. riots or, more perversely, with the story of an entire busload of children stolen and hidden in a quarry (“Beached Whales”), so that no pattern is unpatterned and nothing is without meaning.
Publisher: Roundabout Press Roundabout Press was founded in West Hartford, Connecticut in 2011 with the purpose of publishing new American fiction. Learn more at www.roundaboutpress.com. Paperback: $15.95
These poems echo in their delicacy, in the restraint of the speaker’s voice, and in their sparseness. Farivar gets to the narrow heart of the matter: to be a correct animal is to be human, also. Or rather, to be human is to be a correct animal. Let’s try one more time: to be is to be a correct animal. There is no other way.
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Publis h ing C o. & B o ok s t ore
Publisher: Octopus Books (July, 2011) Octopus Books is a small poetry press based in Portland. They have been operating since 2006 and are committed to building a catalog of contemporary poetry through their open reading period every April. Learn more at www.octopusbooks.net. Paperback: $12
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Tiny Giants: 101 Stories Under 101 Words, by Jason Sinclair Long Review by Chris Vanjonack In his micro-fiction collection, Tiny Giants: 101 Stories Under 101 Words, dramatist, fiction writer, and former Blue Man Group member Jason Sinclair Long sets about the difficult task of composing narratives in 100 words or fewer. Written in the year following the birth of his first child, Long’s stories jump back and forth between a wide variety of genres, voices, and tones. The shorts cover everything from birth to death, with the occasional flight of fancy into the paranormal and otherworldly. Some are hilarious, others poignant, and more still feel like snapshots—brief looks into the lives of men and women, the details of which are carefully chosen to imply larger narratives that we’ll never see. That sense that everyone has a story is the only real thematic bridge between the stories in this collection. That’s not a criticism, as the 101 shorts populating Tiny Giants would quickly become tedious if it seemed like Long was trying to build towards a larger statement or idea. Instead, Tiny Giants achieves a kind of manic, feverish energy by creating a sense that anything could happen in a given story. One minute, Long delivers a clever meditation on When Harry Met Sally, the next, an oddly tragic account of a dying snowman’s final moments, and a few minutes after that, a laugh-out-loud account of a goose attack. While not every story is a masterstroke—readers may find themselves completely forgetting a few shorts only seconds after reading them—the overall hit-to-miss ratio is very high. In the collection’s strongest short, “Housemates (All in the Timing),” Long crafts a heartbreaking portrait of a relationship using only dialogue, 48 words, and strong characterization to make it painfully clear that these characters are unable to be honest with each other. As with the best micro-fiction, the real power of Long’s tremendous collection comes in what’s been left unsaid. Publisher: Ad Lumen Press (July, 2014) Housed at American River College, Ad Lumen is a small press devoted to publishing works of high artistic and/ or literary value. Learn more at www.adlumenpress.com. Paperback: $14.95
Meaty: Essays, by Samantha Irby Review by Beth Kopp
Backup Singers, by Sommer Browning Review by Mary McHugh
There are a lot of interesting things about Samantha Irby. She hosts the “boldest, most badass storytelling event” in Chicago—a reading series called “Guts & Glory: Live Lit for the Lionhearted.” She writes a blog called Bitches Gotta Eat, which is funny, honest, sometimes a little shocking, and a great way to waste a few hours. And she is an author of a new collection of essays that digs a little deeper than her blog, but is just as hilarious.
In her latest book of poems, Backup Singers, Sommer Browning gives equal consideration to the mundane, the absurd, and the sometimes surprisingly profound. Getting married, getting drunk, forming a relationship with language, and sexuality are all practically the same act.
Meaty is full of stories about Irby’s sex life. She is not afraid to give you all the details of her relationships, no matter how much it might make you blush. I mean, I can’t even tell you the titles of some of the essays because they’re so explicit. Irby is the queen of self-deprecating humor, and that was one of my favorite parts of this book. In the essay “Forrest Whitaker’s Neck,” she lists every single physical imperfection, body part by body part. In the middle of these essays about dating, bodies, sex life, and adult life are some stirring stories about her childhood. Irby grew up in a series of Section 8 apartments in Chicago. She had a mother with multiple sclerosis and an abusive and alcoholic (but mostly absentee) father. Both parents died when she was a teenager. In “My Mother, My Daughter” she tells about how at age 11, she became the caregiver of her mother after an accident. This essay is so heartbreaking, it’s almost a relief when it’s over. I really admire Samantha Irby’s ability to be completely blunt about whatever she is writing about. I recommend taking a look at her blog, and if that doesn’t offend you definitely buy her book. It will keep you up late laughing, crying, and just nodding your head in agreement. Because one thing is for sure—this woman knows how to tell the truth. Publisher: Curbside Splendor (October, 2013) Curbside Splendor has been operating in Chicago since 2009 and publishes fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry that celebrate art, urban life, and extraordinary voices. Learn more at www.curbsidesplendor.com. Paperback: $15.95
The conceit of her collection seems to be summed up in the lines “what a sweet sadness, everything miraculous contained inside.// The fluffiest, puffiest, ineffable thing turns into a matter of fact and matters of fact into joking, little jewels.” It’s true, sometimes the poems seem routine, and sometimes they feel disconnected from one another, but the sadness behind the humor, and the fact that the punchline to the joke she’s setting up is actually tragic—that sneaks up on you. It’s hard for the reader to know what to expect, which is of course one of the many goals of a poet, but Browning’s surprises lurk not within the meaning of the lines so much as the tone, and that’s a surprising way to surprise. Backup Singers uses empirical observation and distortions of language to almost covertly move from the political to the personal; the quotidian to the anomalous. This helps to explain Browning’s disparate formal choices. There are lists poems, single-word refrains connecting otherwise paratactic lines, and call-and-response structures that make room for dissociated observations from the speaker’s own memories. Even the most confounding of these structures is still funny, still fun to read. There is a poem—none in the book have titles—in which the speaker lists all the drinks she’s consumed (presumably) in all the bars she’s visited. There is no context, there is only the list for which the reader can imagine any background. It’s like a game that makes you sad in a way we all need to be reminded of; like adolescent sorrow with adult wisdom behind it. Backup Singers makes a good case for staying open and raw. Publisher: Birds, LLC (June, 2014) Birds, LLC is an independent poetry press based out of Austin, Minneapolis, New York, and Raleigh. Learn more at www.birdsllc.com. Paperback: $15.95
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wo lve rinefa rm.o rg : 9 70 .4 7 2 . 4 2 84 1 4 4 N. C olle g e Ave n u e F o rt co l l ins, co 8 0 524
To Celebrate the Winter Season, We Brew our Classic Winter Warmer,
- ISOLATION ALE A FUNNY THING HAPPENS HERE AROUND SUMMER’S END
– OUR EYES START SEARCHING
THE SKIES FOR THOSE FIRST FALL FLAKES.
AS WE WELCOME AUTUMN’S FIRST SNOW, WE CELEBRATE THE RETURN OF ISOLATION
A SWEET CARAMEL MALTY ALE THAT IS BALANCED BY A SUBTLE CRISP HOP FINISH.
WHETHER YOU SKI, SHRED, OR SHOE, ISOLATION ALE WILL INSPIRE YOU TO MAKE FIRST TRACKS.
PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY
A non-profit charity whose mission is to protect & restore the ecology of the Cache la Poudre River using public education and scientific research. Our activities
Annual Poudre River trash clean-up Public education about healthy rivers & water conservation Protecting the river from new reservoirs that would drain it
Promoting river restoration & removal of abandoned dams Supporting the new whitewater park downtown Inviting the public to weigh in on proposed water projects & policies
Volunteer, Donate or Join Us
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ShaveSmith Bladesmithing Interview & Photographs by Lindsey M. Hoover
hristopher Schall practices a rare art form inside his Fort Collins workshop. He forges hot steel into the shape of a small cleaver. After hammering the metal, he grinds it to a fine edge. He carves handles from wood, horn, or bone. He meticulously sets hand-drawn inlays into the handles. The finished product is not your everyday blade—it’s a straight razor that will last generations.
nature—the shaves become quick and smooth. Eventually, you get good enough that you can take your whole beard clean off in one swipe.
In addition to his forged blades and handles, Schall also restores vintage straight razors and sells these items from his Etsy shop, ShaveSmith.
Everything. My customers are among the best people I’ve encountered. We share life stories and I often catch up with them like an old-time barber. I would have never thought that taking the time for a close straight shave could have such a positive impact on my life.
To better understand straight-razor shaving and Schall’s work, I met with Mr. ShaveSmith at a local coffee shop for an interview. Fort Collins Courier: How did you begin crafting straight razors? Christopher Schall: My first straight razor came to me when I was in college. It was a yellow-handled, German hollow-ground blade I found in my Grandpa’s garage. I quickly discovered that the ritual and closeness of a straight shave was incomparable. I started collecting and restoring antique blades as a hobby, and years later, I began blacksmithing and grinding my own line of razors. There is a great amount of detail that goes into your craftsmanship. What does it mean to you to work with your hands on a daily basis? My work takes my mind and puts it into my hands. How I feel at the time is a direct result of what I craft. There’s a great deal of respect involved. Often I’m restoring someone’s great grandfather’s blade, or putting the finishing touches on a razor that will be around for 100 years after I’m gone. It’s humbling and rewarding. How would you describe straight-razor shaving to a beginner? With a straight razor, it’s all about ritual. Shaving becomes an event—fun and exciting. You take your time, enjoy the scent of the leather strop as you true your blade, and you learn that shaving cream can smell botanical and natural. It kickstarts a healthy perspective to begin your day. There’s great satisfaction in wiping away hair with keen steel you’ve maintained for years. With a bit of practice, using a straight becomes second
What have your clients and other members of the straight-razor community taught you about shaving?
Visit the ShaveSmith shop at www.etsy.com/shop/ShaveSmith.
Calling all Makers Are you a maker or do you know someone who is? The Fort Collins Courier is looking for makers to profile in upcoming issues. Everything from bicycles to broomsticks, furniture to fiber arts. For more information please contact Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tweezers, Deer Hair, and a Vise: The Art of Fly Tying Article & Photographs by Jess Moore
ike many Midwesterners, I grew up surrounded by lakes and rivers. I learned to fish at a young age, when fishing meant casting off a dock using a Snoopy pole, and bait was a worm, dug from the earth and wrapped around a hook (by someone other than me). Now, I fly fish. Fly fishing is cultish and solitary at times. It can be slow and tedious, and it requires patience, but it’s also very rewarding. Diving even further into the specialty of fly fishing is the art of fly tying. Fly tying—creating an artificial fly by binding different materials to a hook with thread—is both an art and a science. The goal is to create an artificial insect realistic enough to fool fish into thinking it’s a meal. It’s difficult to know with any certainty when artificial flies were first used to catch fish, but what we do know is that they were hand tied. Traditional materials included wool, wire, animal hair, and feathers. While many of these materials are still used, several synthetics are available as well. Modern-day tying also includes a vise, which holds the tiny hook
and usually clamps onto a table to hold everything steady. These days, however, ready-made flies can be purchased in almost any tackle shop. So why take the time to handmake something that’s readily available? Like fly fishing, fly tying lends itself to simplicity, and offers a sort of active meditation. You create something by hand, and landing a fish with it brings immediate validation. You are also entering into a community of passionate people. Fort Collins has a rich fly-tying community. On Wednesday nights you can find a group of rowdy-yetfocused individuals crowded around dimly lit tables, each working on their own interpretations of various fly patterns. Everyone is partaking in the same activity, but there are a myriad of reasons for doing so. I asked Nick Halm of Pig Farm Ink (the organization that sponsors the event) why he ties flies, and he simply replied, “Because I fly fish.” He later expanded on that and included a sentiment I often hear—that tying your own flies creates a deeper connection with
not only fish, but nature as a whole. It’s also cheaper (after the initial investment of a vise and materials, of course) than running to the fly shop each week to lay down a few bucks per fly. If you are looking to get started, St. Peter’s Fly Shop is a great resource. They offer classes and free demos several times a month. Jin Choi is the resident “bug nerd”—he’s knowledgeable, helpful, and his fishing analogies are sure to entertain. I have only recently entered into this dimension of fly fishing, but already I have made new friends, learned the
basics of entomology, and found an artistic outlet that is both beautiful and functional. I hope to continue on this path of learning, and the slower pace that accompanies it.
Learn more about St. Peter’s Fly Shop’s classes and fly-tying demos at www.stpetes.com.
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Micro-Crochet: A Tiny Crafting Experience Article by Beth Kopp Photographs by Dina Fike
icro-crochet causes headaches—I’m not joking. When you crochet with a super tiny hook and sewing thread, a headache is bound to happen. You kind of get used to it after a while.
I first stumbled upon micro-crochet the way I find out about most of the crafty things I want to try—by wasting time on the internet. I was shocked at how small these crocheted animals were. Most pictures of them showed a tiny deer or fox or owl (around half an inch high) sitting on the tip of someone’s finger. I scrolled through pages of Google images and found that the majority of the pictures linked to Etsy shops in Vietnam. These cute little creations were selling for $30–$80. I even found a micro-unicorn going for $120! I honestly have no idea what people do with them after they buy them. Put them in a dollhouse? On a shelf ? Either way I knew I had to try this craft. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any micro-crochet tutorials or step-by-step guides. I couldn’t even find a history of the craft. I’m assuming it’s a derivative of Amigurumi, the Japanese art of crocheting and knitting stuffed animals. One site told me to just use any Amigurumi pattern and crochet it with a small hook and sewing thread. So that’s what I did. I bought an impossibly small crochet hook (1.00 mm), dug out my sewing box, and found a pattern for one of the easiest animals to crochet—a whale. I’ve crocheted Amigurumi before. It’s hard and takes a lot of concentration, but it’s a cake-walk compared to micro-crochet. First of all, there’s something called the “magic circle” that all Amigurumi starts with. Well, crocheting a magic circle with thread is one of the most torturous things you can do. But once I figured that out, completed the first few rows, and started over about 50 times, it began to get a little easier.
It probably took me three hours to finish my tiny whale, which isn’t that bad actually. With some practice, I’m sure I can cut that time down a little. Also, my crochet hook wasn’t nearly small enough. To get the appropriately micro-sized animals, you really need a 0.4 mm hook. But I’m happy with my first project and can’t wait to try my hand at some more complicated patterns. Here are some resources to get you started with crocheting Amigurumi: All About Ami (www.allaboutami.com) This crochet blog has a ton of cute and easy tutorials. It’s also my go-to when I forget how to do the magic circle. PlanetJune (www.planetjune.com) A very comprehensive blog by crochet-pattern designer June Gilbank. She has designed more than 150 crochet patterns, specializing in Amigurumi-style animals and plants. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi, by June Gilbank Authored by the creator of PlanetJune, this book includes everything you need to get started crocheting Amigurumi and even has tips on making your own patterns. Publisher: ALPHA (October, 2010) Paperback: $18.95
MEET your makeRS We aim to showcase the many talented makers of Northern Colorado with retail, workshop, and demonstration space available. Come engage with the craftspeople in our community. One of the many offerings coming in 2015 at Wolverine Farmâ€™s Letterpress & Publick House. If you are a maker and want more information, please contact Todd Simmons at email@example.com
Currently under construction in the River District, Wolverine Farm Publishingâ€™s Letterpress & Publick House will feature a working letterpress print shop, literary, art, & craft workshops, a coffee & beer bar, plus indoor/outdoor space for events & other cultural programming. Look toward our website for project updates: www . wolverinefarm . org
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Soil located east of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, CO. Horizons are labeled as follows: A, topsoil, more biologically active horizon; AB, transition horizon that has characteristics of both A and B horizons; Bt, zone of clay accumulation, notice the dramatic color change; C, unconsolidated parent material, lighter color due to decreased organic matter content.
Soil profile of an area near Horsetooth Reservoir.
Soils: a Naturalist’s Palette and History Lesson
If nothing else, let this soil rainbow introduce you into the beautiful world of soils. These natural colors captivate even the most experienced soil scientists. © Courtesy Yamina Pressler, November 2013.
Article & Photographs by Yamina Pressler
o a soil scientist, the earth beneath our feet is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Diverse and dynamic, soils are the fabric of the Colorado landscape we admire every day. Although easily overlooked due to their inferior vertical position to our daily lives, soils are living and experiencing our universe, and each has its own story to tell. To a soil scientist, digging a new hole is the highlight of the day. A journey into something familiarly unfamiliar, soils always provide a new perspective on the world we live in. With each shovel-full, a new layer of the earth is unraveled, and the elegant story of soil formation is slowly unfolded.
To a soil scientist, the soil profile is where it all begins. Soil profiles are organized by layers of different physical characteristics, termed horizons. The uppermost horizon, A, is the most biologically active, laden with organic matter and all facets of soil life. The A horizon tells of the history of plant and animal communities up above that have treaded the landscape for hundreds of thousands of years. Next we venture down into the B horizon, a zone of accumulation of anything and everything that moves down the soil profile. Colors, texture, and structure changes in the soil reveal its geologic and climatic history. Often accompanied with subdesignations (like “t” for clay, “w” for water, “k” for calcium carbonates), the B horizon makes each soil unique. Underpinning the soil profile is the C horizon, also known as unconsolidated parent
material. Resting above the bedrock, the C horizon is the origin and source of many soil properties. Its chemical composition and physical characteristics control the transformation of the soil across thousands of years, allowing for the often underappreciated diversity of soils. To a soil scientist, earthly beauty such as this is all around us, even here in the Front Range. Take this soil profile overlooking Horsetooth Reservoir right here in Fort Collins. Sandwiched between native grasses and parent material, this soil glows with shades of browns and reds that could inspire artists and naturalists alike. Its cobbly structure provokes both chaos and fluidity at the same time as the cobbles hold the soil matrix together against even a mountain biker’s tire. Textured with fine clays, this
soil takes advantage of all rain delivered to it from the dry skies of the Colorado Front Range. Over millennia, this soil has formed into a deep expression of the area’s dynamic history. To a soil scientist, and now to you, soils are the living, breathing skin of the Earth. Each clay particle, soil microbe, fungal hyphae, calcium cation, and root pore may be small and simple alone, but together they form the foundation for the grand diversity of life on this planet.
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Small, Winged Things: Northern Colorado’s Tiniest Wild Birds by Kevin Moreng & Molly McCowan “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” —Theodore Roosevelt
sit on my back porch in the silence of a wet, cold Sunday morning. As the leaves fall and my teapot pours the last cup of black tea, my attention is stolen by a small, dark bird swooping onto a low branch and taking a moment of rest. This bird flies alone, yet his presence is a reminder of the various songbirds and other small, feathered creatures that can be seen in Northern Colorado.
Many of these birds only make Colorado home for a few short months; others stay year-round. Whatever time of year, however, the chirps, whistles, and raspy calls of birds foraging for food offer a special experience for residents of Northern Colorado. Following is a condensed list of some of the smallest birds you may witness in the trees of your backyard, or in the foliage of the foothills. Broad-tailed Hummingbird Selasphorus platycercus The Broad-tailed Hummingbird may be one of the more exclusive birds found in Colorado, due to their preference for the wildflowers of our subalpine meadows and woodlands. Although only found in Colorado for summer breeding, this bird has also adapted to the cold nights that can permeate throughout the year. A process known as “torpor” allows this hummingbird to purposely drop its body temperature and heart rate in order to survive the frosty nights in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. These hummingbirds also take advantage of flowering plants typically ignored by other species of hummingbirds, such as pussywillows, currants, and glacier lilies.
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus The Black-capped Chickadee is a particularly interesting bird, not only for its notably large head in proportion to its body, but for its foraging and learning habits. This type of chickadee can remember thousands of seed-hiding spots, and scientific studies have shown that it is also able to replace old neurons in its brain with new ones every year, thus easily adapting to changes in environment and migratory fluctuations. Providing protected nesting boxes filled with sawdust or wood shavings next to feeders may draw a mating pair to your backyard. These birds are quite common in Northern Colorado and can be spotted in forested regions, residential neighborhoods, and areas boasting woody shrubs.
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America, and one of the most common birds across the U.S. Only the male has a red patch on the crown of the head; the female lacks this dash of color. This species doesn’t migrate, and roosts in tree cavities throughout the winter. They mainly eat insects, along with seeds and berries. In winter, they are often attracted to backyard feeders offering suet cakes. Like other woodpeckers, it drums on tree bark with its beak, but often with a slower rhythm than the other members of its species. Contrary to popular belief, this drumming is not part of this woodpecker’s feeding routine—since they don’t sing songs, they drum to communicate with other birds.
American Goldfinch Spinus tristis Although the American Goldfinch is the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington, living in Northern Colorado affords you an opportunity for year-round viewing of a bird that shifts colors with the seasons. In the spring, males sport bright-yellow plumage with black heads and wingtips, while in the winter, goldfinches are brown with black wings. Native milkweed and thistle attract these beautiful birds, as does almost any variety of birdseed and feeder. These birds are considered among the strictest of vegetarian songbirds, with a diet consisting entirely of seeds (and an occasional insect mistakenly consumed). If you have a garden, don’t cut off the tops of your marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, or coneflowers in the fall—goldfinches love to eat the seeds they produce.
Northern Saw-Whet Owl Aegolius acadicus This tiny owl is found year-round in Colorado, preferring dense coniferous or mixed hardwood forests. It is carnivorous and eats small animals, especially deer mice, voles, chipmunks, and sometimes even bats and small birds. When prey is plentiful, this owl will often kill up to six mice, storing them in strategic locations for later meals. These owls live in tree cavities and old nests made by other small raptors. They compete for these nests with boreal owls, starlings, and squirrels, and their nests may be destroyed or eaten by these competitors. When threatened, this owl elongates itself, even going so far as to outstretch a wing in front of its body, in order to look like a tree branch.
Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor The Northern Shrike may look innocent, but early ornithologists described this bird as a “wanton killer” based on its hunting behavior, which involves killing more prey than can immediately be consumed. This behavior is now understood as the bird’s anticipation for future food scarcity in the cold climates of Canada and the northern U.S., where these birds winter. Northern Shrikes’ talons are often not strong enough to hold their prey, so they have been known to impale their captured prey on barbed wire, thorns, or any other sharp object. They then eat their fill, leaving the rest of the dead prey for a later meal. Your best chance of viewing these birds is in a wild, forested area where insects, small mammals, and birds abound. Find out more about our local feathered friends online at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which hosts an impressive bird database.
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Our Smallest Neighbors: How Insects Survive the Winter by Evan Brengle
s winter approaches, most of us will notice squirrels collecting food to hold them over, or geese migrating in favor of a warmer climate. It’s easier to overlook our smallest animal neighbors, insects, but they too must have tools and methods of their own to survive freezing temperatures. Just as mammals and birds employ varying techniques of winter survival, insects do as well, with some methods similar to those of larger animals, and some distinctly different.
© Courtesy Dan Mullen
particular chemical properties of the hemolymph prevent it from freezing, making these insects resistant to winter temperatures. One may see ladybugs in the middle of winter precisely because their bodies are built not to freeze. Somewhat like hibernating mammals, insects will also go into a dormant stage known as diapause. O’Meara describes this as a sort of “waking hibernation.” During this phase, the insects do not feed or reproduce; their metabolic rates drop so that they require fewer resources to survive. Unlike hibernating mammals, however, insects in diapause may be out and about. As the temperatures drop, it is not uncommon to observe flat, leaf-shaped, black and red box elder bugs congregating near windows and doors—or even crossing our kitchen floors.
Like geese, some insects will migrate to warmer locations to avoid the cold of Colorado winter. Carol O’Meara, Horticulture Entomologist at CSU Extension Boulder County, points out that certain species of leafhoppers will migrate as far south as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and even Mexico. Another method that some insects use is to hide away in insulated areas such as mulch piles, under tree bark, or beneath the soil. Adult honeybees, for example, take shelter in their hives, clustering together and raising the temperature by vibrating their wings. While the adults of some species of insects survive winter in this manner, other insects, such as rose aphids, may find shelter for their eggs or larvae, which will survive the winter while the adults will not. The method of survival perhaps most unique to insects is a form of antifreeze in their bodies that actually prevents them from freezing in winter temperatures. O’Meara explains that the liquid, comparable to blood in other animals, is known as hemolymph. The hemolymph does not travel through insects’ bodies in veins, however: instead, the organs are suspended inside the insects’ bodies by a surrounding of hemolymph. The
© Courtesy Distant Hill Gardens
The various winter survival methods of insects are not mutually exclusive. While in diapause, some insects will take the additional step of moving into our human habitats. As the temperatures drop, one may notice an increase in our homes and apartments of insects such as the multicolored Asian lady beetle. These ladybug lookalikes range from orange to black with up to 20 or so spots, or none at all. When you find them climbing your curtains in December, or nestled in your cat’s fur in February, remember, they, like us, are simply trying to keep warm until spring.
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Floodables Article & Photographs by Kayann Short
week after the flood of September 2013, I woke early. My first thought: Are they gone? We’d heard rumors the day before that the National Guard and Sheriff ’s barricade behind which our farm was corralled would be moved further west on Highway 66. The barrier had been hastily assembled to protect our nearby town of Lyons, Colorado, until its evacuated residents could return. No one passed the checkpoint without permission or permit. Because our farm borders the highway corridor over which the floodwaters rushed, we were caught within the restricted access zone, even though we’d had no flood damage and no reason to leave. I dressed quickly and walked down our long driveway toward 66. No traffic on the normally busy highway suggested the barricade remained. My mind raced to the weekend ahead. How would our members reach us to pick up their vegetable shares? We’d been to the checkpoint every day the last week to negotiate with guards and deputies as we tried to conduct normal farm business and provide shelter and food for community members and friends. Despite crops and animals that kept us in place, officials weren’t happy we’d remained. Now I turned onto the highway and looked to the rising sun.
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The road was empty as far as I could see. No gates, no guards, no guns. During the night, they’d disappeared. Nothing remained but grey concrete vanishing into the eastern horizon. “Whoohoo! They’re gone!” I yelled, pumping my fist into the air with joy that 66 would be open to our farm again. Then I glanced around. I was glad no one had seen me celebrating in the midst of our town’s devastation. The road was clear of the trucks and heavy equipment that had assembled daily near our driveway. Now they would stage their work closer to Lyons where it was crucially needed. But the highway wasn’t completely bare. In the middle of the road sat a brown paper sack. I’d seen workers handed a similar lunch each morning. I thought about leaving the bag on the highway in case someone returned for it, but I knew that was unlikely once the work of rock and rubble began. A worker would be going without lunch; I hoped someone would share. Not wanting to leave trash in the middle of the now-open road, I took the bag back to the kitchen without looking inside, forgetting it on the counter until John came in at noon. “What’s this?” he asked. Curious what some agency had packed for a laborer’s lunch, we found a Bumble Bee kit of crackers, tuna, relish, and mayo; a peppermint; small bags of pretzels, peanuts, and Craisins; pita bread; a pear; and a Twix bar. As organic farmers, John and I don’t each much packaged food, especially of the plastic cubicle variety. Still, someone’s hands had prepared this meal and some worker would go without. It didn’t seem right to waste food, especially in these post-flood days when thrift seemed a virtue and feeding people was on many of our minds. How relieved we were that the barricade was gone and our members could get to our farm for their vegetables again. We knew we were lucky that floodwaters hadn’t ruined our crops. More than ever, food seemed a gift, whether it came directly from the soil or from a brown paper bag in the middle of the road. John ate the peanuts; I ate the pita, Craisins, and Twix bar. The chickens loved the pretzels. Later, we told friends we’d composted rather than eaten the pear because it wasn’t organic. “Like the Twix bar was!” they teased. We’ve still got the tuna kit. It’s our flood take-away that life can change instantly, leaving you choices you’d never considered before. When disaster hits, people have little time to grab what’s most important. Loved ones—human and animal—come first; computers, photos, and family heirlooms next. We take what we can to preserve our lives before. But if memories were objects, which would you take as you rushed out the door? I’d take that morning’s call to an empty highway: “The barricade’s gone—and we’re still here.”
Kayann Short, Ph.D., is the author of A Bushel’s Worth: An Ecobiography, a memoir of reunion with a family’s farming past and call to action for local farmland preservation today. Copies of her book are available at Wolverine Farm Bookstore.
FOOD & DRINK
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Food & Drink
A Cow Named Mouse Article & Photographs by Meryl DePasquale
ecently I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at Frog Belly Farm in Longmont, Colorado, where Heather Marie Carragher gave me a tutorial on how to make butter and ghee. Frog Belly Farm is primarily a raw goat dairy, and Carragher and her wife Ashley Weiczorek manage the goat dairy for owners Mike and Melanie MacKinnon. Carragher is studying to be an Ayurvedic doctor, and Weiczorek is in a master’s program for Chinese medicine. They bring these natural health principles and ethics into practice when making ghee, a form of clarified butter that uses cultured cream. Mouse is the farm’s Jersey cow, a slightly smaller breed known for having milk that is high in butterfat. Mouse is a part of Carragher and Weiczorek’s desire to keep their operation small. As Carragher says, “We’re really happy just to have Mouse right now. We talk about having another two or three cows at most, so that we can make enough ghee to provide for our Ayurvedic community and practitioners in this area. But we also want to encourage people to have a family cow if they have the ability, the acreage, and the time.” Carragher’s concern with large operations is that ethics and quality slip in favor of efficiency. It is her belief that “the family cow is the ultimate model of pure food that’s ethical, responsible, and vital” involving “the most nutrients, the most care.” Ghee can be used in place of butter or vegetable oil in any recipe, and it works for highheat cooking like broiling, frying, and stir-frying. In Ayurveda, ghee is used “as the start of every dish” and is considered to have powerful nutritional and medicinal properties, including its use as a base for herbal remedies and ointments. Carragher describes ghee as being “a more distilled, purer version of butter,” and tasting slightly yogurt-like and smooth. Since the milk solids that cause butter to spoil have been removed from ghee, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can be kept at room temperature. The process starts by treating Mouse with love and respect. Mouse certainly seems like a happy cow to any observer, grass-fed on ample pasture and enjoying the company of other farm animals and her human friends. She is gentle and affectionate, and especially likes apples. When Mouse is milked, Carragher feeds her a special treat composed of organic sprouted grain mixed with kelp, spent grain (from a local brewery), sunflower seeds, turmeric, and amalaki (Indian gooseberry). Carragher also sings the gayatri mantra (a traditional Sanskrit chant) to Mouse during milking, and later as Carragher is working, as a way of “putting [her] prayer and intention into the milk, the cow, the butter, and the ghee.” The first step is culturing the raw milk, using a similar process to that of making yogurt and cheese, which creates natural bacteria good for the digestive system. Carragher lets the milk sit at room temperature for 12–48 hours. It is also possible to use yogurt starter or a curd-starting method. Next, Carragher hand-skims the cream from the top of the jars of milk with a ladle. The leftover skim milk is enjoyed by Priscilla, an active and content Kunekune (pronounced “cooney-cooney”) pig . Traditionally the cream is churned, but Carragher uses a food processor and achieves the same result: separating the butterfat from the liquid portion of the cream. She strains out this buttermilk and then rinses the cultured butter. The buttermilk and butter are used in recipes on the farm, but some of this butter is boiled to make ghee. Carragher transfers the cultured butter into a pot with a thicker bottom to prevent burning. She heats it on high, until everything melts and then comes to a boil; next she turns the heat down to low and lets it simmer for one to three hours. Eventually the foam settles into a clear liquid and the milk solids separate from the oil. When these solids start to turn golden brown, the ghee is done. Before the mixture cools, Carragher pours it through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth to catch the milk
solids. The ghee then goes into a jar and will be liquid or solid depending on the temperature it’s stored at, similar to coconut oil. If you’re interested in making ghee in your own kitchen, but you don’t have a cow, you can buy cultured unsalted butter at the natural food store (Organic Valley is one brand that makes it), and then follow the steps above for heating. For anyone curious for a taste of ghee and Ayurvedic living, Carragher recommends drinking a cup of warmed raw milk at the end of the day with a teaspoon of ghee melted into it and a pinch of cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon. She says having warmed spiced milk before bed aids digestion and absorption, and “helps you sleep well.”
Learn more about Frog Belly Farm at www.frogbellyfarm.com. To purchase ghee from the farm, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (303) 772-7802. Further Reading: Keeping a Family Cow, by Joann S. Grohman Ayurveda: A Life of Balance, by Maya Tiwari
Café Ardour organic coffees , light fare , and handmade baked goods
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Food & Drink
Tiny Grains that Pack a Punch Photographs by Dina Fike
iffering from refined grains, which have been processed to remove the bran and germ, whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains have more fiber and are more nutritious than refined grains. Perhaps the simplest example of this is rice: brown rice and wild rice are whole grains, but white rice is a refined grain.
Barley is a high-fiber and high-protein grain in the grass family. It is one of the major cereal grains, and is used in flours, beer, distilled beverages, and many health foods. Barley was one of the first domesticated grains in the Fertile Crescent, and was a staple in ancient Egyptian foods such as beer and bread.
The common oat (Avena sativa) is grown for its seed of the same name (oats). Oats are most commonly grown for animal feed. They are also rolled or crushed into oatmeal or rolled oats, or ground into oat flour. Oats have the highest protein content among all the cereal grains, They are also believed to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Quinoa is classified as a “pseudocereal” and is not a member of the true grass family. Quinoa grain is touted as a superfood for its high protein content—its protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley, and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats. It was first domesticated by the Incas, who held the crop to be sacred and called it “the mother of all grains.”
A member of the grass family and closely related to barley and wheat, rye grain is used for flour, rye beer, distilled beverages, animal feed, rye bread, and more. Rye grows wild in parts of Turkey, and it has been widely used as a cereal grain in Central and Eastern Europe since the Middle Ages.
Wheat is the third most-produced cereal grain in the world, behind corn and rice. It originates from the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Levant region. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour, baked foods, couscous, pasta, beer and other alcoholic beverages, and even biofuel. China, India, and the U.S. are the world’s top wheat producers.
What is commonly called “wild rice” is actually a combination of four types of wild-growing rice: Northern wild rice (Zizania palustris), wild rice (Z. aquatica), Texas wild rice (Z. texana), and Manchurian wild rice (Z. latifolia). Manchurian wild rice is native to Asia; the other three varieties are native to the U.S. Wild rice has one of the highest protein contents of the whole grains, second only to oats. It is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals.
Putting Microbes to Work: How to Make Your Own Sauerkraut by Danny Hesser The thing about trying your first homemade fermented food is that you have to overcome the well-earned stigma of germ theory. Sandor Katz (author of The Art of Fermentation), among others, promotes the benefits of cultured foods, and scientific evidence shows that our gut microflora modulate a wide variety of health effects. So why not let these beneficial microbes add a whole new flavor profile to some favorite veggies? ● ● ● ● ●
Ingredients 1 medium-sized cabbage, cored and chopped 3–4 Tbsp sea salt 1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional) 2 Tbsp sliced habanero or jalapeno pepper 4 Tbsp whey
Directions 1. Place the chopped cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Pound with a wooden spoon to release the juices. You can add caraway seeds if you like, but I opted for sliced habenero from the garden. 2. Add the whey, which will contain the lactobacilli to covert sugars drawn out of the cabbage into, ultimately, lactic acid. The cabbage itself will contain some species of these as well, but adding the whey will kickstart the culture toward these acid producers. 3. Transfer the mash to a large, wide-mouth jar, and press down with a smaller jar until the liquid is above the cabbage. Replace the lid on the large jar such that the smaller jar stays in place. This ensures an anaerobic environment that favors fermentation. Mine went for three days, and I found the kraut to be nicely soured. Make sure to get rid of the top layer of cabbage, and avoid the kraut altogether if discolored, denoting spoilage.
FOOD & DRINK
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Small Changes, Big Impact:
The Food School by Lynda McCullough
hree years ago, a slender woman of average height set off from Fort Collins on a bike ride through the Farm Belt to North Alabama. An impressive feat, right? But solitary and quiet, virtually unnoticed.
Julie Reed wasn’t trying to raise money or gain attention. She loves to ride. But her up-close-and-personal view of the industrial farms that cover vast amounts of land with corn and soybeans troubled her, particularly when she found that neither she nor the local residents could use the vegetables for meals. “The irony was so thick that you could be right there in the midst of all this food, and it took you an hour to get to a grocery store,” says Reed. When she rode into the suburbs and found grocery stores, she says, there were no organic food choices, and the produce she did find was shipped from California, Mexico, or Argentina. Returning to Fort Collins, Reed signed up to study farming at Happy Heart Farm. In
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her apprenticeship program she learned not just about growing food, but about food insecurity in Fort Collins. She also discovered that many people are trapped in “food prisons,” addicted to unhealthy foods, unable to access whole food, or unaware of how to eat healthily because they never learned how. Reed realized that even when people are curious about whole meat, fruits, and vegetables, ”they often don’t know what they’re looking at, or how to prepare it, so they stick with what they know.” Her response was to establish the Food School to teach people where their food comes from, what’s in it, and how to prepare it. She also sought to help children connect with local farmers and learn how to garden. The school was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2012, and Reed started giving presentations in elementary schools. In 2013, along with Education Coordinator Jennifer Todd, she started a pilot program in which the Food School develops partnerships between individual Poudre Valley School District classrooms and local CSAs (community-supported-agriculture farms). Reed, a former middle school science teacher, and Todd, a teacher of 17 years, developed a curriculum. They currently provide three programs: the School to Farm Initiative, which so far involves seven farms and three schools; in-school presentations covering sugar, the importance of labels, whole versus processed foods, and the workings of America’s food system; and a new school garden project that integrates gardening activities with classroom lessons.
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“Ultimately,” says Reed, “We can spend all this time developing curriculum and making sure that this ‘t’ is crossed and this ‘i’ is dotted, but what the kids [. . .] love most is the work. Give them a plot of plants at the end of the season that needs to be cleared and put into wheelbarrows and taken to the compost pile, and they’re in heaven.” Reed believes in a small local food system in which people have a sense of place and community, know their farmers, and understand how to eat natural food. “We really strive to build relationships between kids, between kids and the land, and between kids and food,” she says. Find out more about the Food School at www.focofoodschool.org.
Chocolate & Coffee Pairing featuring NUANCE CHOCOLATE
A How to Latte Art Class latte art competition
Home Roasting 101
Children’s Holiday Gift Making Workshop December 13th and 20th 10am-noon Winter Earth Art Workshops Sunday, December 28th Sunday, January 11th 10am-noon Handcrafted Valentines February 7th 10am-11:30am
144 N. College Ave. Ft. Collins
Pre-registration is required for all workshops. Register by email at email@example.com or call 970-412-4523.
WINTER COOKING CLASS MENU
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Bioenergy in the Rockies: Small, Beautiful, Powerful by Yamina Pressler
ugene Odum, the father of ecosystem ecology, once said, â€œSmall is beautiful but big is powerful.â€? In the context of bioenergy production he couldnâ€™t have been any more right. Particularly here in the northern Rockies, bioenergy research embodies simultaneous smallness and largeness. The research atmosphere is tasked with furthering small mechanistic understanding, while also solving a large, pertinent question: Is it possible to harvest biomass from beetle-killed wood in the Rockies in an environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially acceptable way? A question of this complexity does not come without challenges, and the answer is not yet clear. But over five years, collaborators at Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, University of Montana, Montana State University, University of Idaho, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Cool Planet Energy Systems, and the U.S. Forest Service will attempt to shed light on our local bioenergy conundrum. On smallness The idea of bioenergy production in the Rockies begins with two small players: a lodgepole pine seed and a mountain pine beetle.
After a large fire spreads across the forest, the resin that glues together the cones of the lodgepole pine is melted, freeing seeds to spread in this freshly disturbed environment. Each seed lands at random, some encountering favorable habitat, others left to wilt away elsewhere. For those that win the dispersal lottery, germination and growth are soon on the horizon. Eventually, the seed transforms from a small pocket of early life to a large presence in the forest that can reach up to 150 feet into the sky. Enveloped in the bark of this lodgepole pine, a mountain pine beetle egg hatches a tiny larva searching for sustenance. Conveniently located in the flesh of the tree, the larva begins to munch. A cycle of eating and growing, with the tree as its host, diverts resources from the tree to the beetle. Given enough time, the lodgepole pine suffers from weakness and is no longer able to fight back. Beetle infestations in pine forests are a natural part of the progression of the ecosystem, and the worst of the insect epidemic is over. However, densities of outbreak such as these have resulted in great amounts of dead, woody debris on the forest floor. With this, wildfire potential has increased and active management of these forests has become a priority.
On largeness Although the solution may seem simple at first (just harvest the dead biomass and turn it into biofuel!), the reality is a tangled web of complex interactions. If this source of biofuel is going to make a significant contribution to our local energy budget, these ideas need to be scaled up. A number of questions arise: how, when, and where to harvest; which biofuel production process is most appropriate; is removing woody biomass sustainable from a forest-ecology perspective; what is the carbon budget of the entire process from harvest to consumption; what are the best educational strategies surrounding local biofuel production; what are the health and safety limitations of the industry; how do local communities and stakeholder groups feel about the viability of this industry. From its small and simple origins, the task at hand quickly becomes large and complex. But as Eugene Odum reminds us, big is powerful, and when it comes to bioenergy, power is exactly what we are looking for.
For more information, visit www.banr.nrel.colostate.edu.
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A Tiny House Getaway Article & Photographs by Molly McCowan
open my eyes to the crackling of the wood stove, cozy in a 110-squarefoot tiny house nestled deep within Pike National Forest. Outside the multi-paned window that takes up the entire east wall, mountain chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches are busy visiting the bird feeder and searching for runaway seeds along the moss-covered ground. At 10,200 feet, the sun shines through the windows with an intensity I don’t notice back home in Fort Collins. The light here feels whiter as it illuminates the splashes of yellow that the aspen leaves give off among the green of the surrounding forest. My cousin built this tiny house more than 25 years ago; a refuge from modern living. Outfitted only with a wood stove, the house has no running water or electricity. These “necessities” aren’t given a second thought here, however. The house is fully stocked with almost anything you
could possibly need. Many members of my family have keys to this place, and on each visit it seems to collect more decorations, food, cooking utensils, and blankets. You want for nothing here—baskets hanging from the ceiling are filled with food, toiletries, clean linen, candles, and more. Every nook and cranny is home to something useful, and every drawer is a treasure chest. Even though the outside air chills, inside it’s warm and cozy enough to walk across the rug-covered floor in socks. A built-in ladder takes you into the loft, which is home to a queen-sized bed. Most of the night is usually spent on the ground floor, however, until headnodding sleepiness dictates otherwise. Evenings are perhaps the most enjoyable time in this tiny house, filled with the routines that come along with backcountry living: chopping wood, building and maintaining a roaring fire in the wood stove, lighting candles and oil lamps, reading, playing Scrabble and gin rummy by lamplight, talking, watching the moon move across the night sky. Life is simpler here, and richer because of it. No phones, no email, no Internet. No buzzing and chiming of electronics demanding my attention. Just the sounds of the birds; the quotidian routines of making meals, tidying up, and preparing for nightfall; the days filled by lying in hammocks among the gentle sway of the trees.
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AWAKEN THE BEAST
AND MOVE LIKE WILD WATER Mobile Homes, Bus Conversions, and the Evolution of Low-Cost Living Article & Photographs by Claire Heywood
omes on wheels have been available in the U.S. in various forms for more than 90 years, but a recent movement signifies a new wave of affordable mobile housing.
In the early 1920s, eight-foot-wide travel trailers were manufactured for consumers who wanted to go camping with a more deluxe setup than the average tent. After World War II, veterans returned to the U.S. to discover a housing shortage; the result was the rise of cheap, easily manufactured trailer homes. As American homes filled with luxury amenities in the 1960s, mobile homes upgraded to become factory-manufactured knock-offs of the modern consumer’s suburban house. Complete with brightly papered walls and fully furnished rooms, early mobile homes were promoted as luxurious, comfortable, and secure. An advertisement from Vagabond Mobile Homes shows a young dad flipping burgers in front of his trailer, beside the caption, “There’s just naturally more time to enjoy life…when you live in a Vagabond Mobile Home.” Another from the Redman trailer company boasts a home that “turns worthless rent receipts into a safe investment in the future.” Marketing was targeted toward young married couples and their penchant for affordable, modern housing. In the mid-1970s, mobile homes transformed again into manufactured homes, which today are factory-made but designed for permanent installation. In 1987, Walker published the book Tiny Tiny Houses: or How to Get Away From It All. The tiny-house movement has gained enormous popularity in the last ten years. The movement demonstrates certain continuities with the appeal of early mobile homes: people living in tiny houses say they have a greater sense of freedom. Living in a tiny home also eliminates empty rent payments, offering low-income individuals the opportunity to build equity.
The tiny-home movement grabbed my attention just after I completed my undergraduate degree, and held my interest as an adventurous and promising alternative to rented housing. Early this summer, five friends and I pooled our savings to purchase a $2,000 Thomas school bus. Over the summer we converted the bus into a livable space, and we will spend a nomadic winter on the road, generating awareness about what we call the low-cost-living movement. Despite continuities in the reasoning behind living in a mobile house, the process of completing a bus conversion is unique in many aspects. Mobile homes were factory manufactured using cheap materials like aluminum and tin. Our bus conversion hinged on human creativity and resourcefulness to create a hostel-style home that meets our needs but is low-cost socially, economically, and environmentally. We sourced materials from a seemingly bottomless reserve of perfectly good resources destined for the landfill, given away on networks like Freecycle, and sold used at significantly discounted prices. At just over $900 investment each, we will spend the winter traveling in a sturdy steel bus complete with 225 feet of living space, solar panels, a roof rack, a simple kitchen, and five beds. We have discovered that ingenuity and resourceful thinking are the cornerstones of viable affordable living alternatives. While our group intends to experience life on the road, we hope to return to Fort Collins equipped with the ability to create low-cost, off-the-grid homes for ourselves, and to inspire others to do the same. To follow Claire’s low-cost bus trip across the U.S., visit www.thebuscollective.com.
An exploration of small, tiny, and otherwise mighty things in the Choice City, including, but not limited to: micro-crocheting, soil horizon...
Published on Nov 24, 2014
An exploration of small, tiny, and otherwise mighty things in the Choice City, including, but not limited to: micro-crocheting, soil horizon...