Sustainable SW Blogs

Old art

The Field Lab - Wed, 2023/01/18 - 2:53pm

Light fixture I built 25 years ago from parts I found in a great junk yard in Connecticut.  Back in my "arty-farty days" in NYC, I must have ventured there about 10 times.  Plugged it in and it still works.  After all these years I'm going to repurpose this for a clock project I have in mind.  53,65,40,0,W

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more parts on order...

The Field Lab - Tue, 2023/01/17 - 5:44pm


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quick turnaround...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2023/01/16 - 3:30pm
Spotted some new action in the nest at 4 AM yesterday. The momma dug it up and was in there for a while. After she came out, she spent a lot of time grooming herself "down there". She came back this morning for what I assume is the first feeding. It will be about 2 weeks before whatever is in the nest is big enough to be spotted on camera. Wondering if there is more than just one in this litter. 65,76,47,0,B

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in and out...

The Field Lab - Sun, 2023/01/15 - 11:35am

Mark 7:15  There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.  

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The program...

The Field Lab - Sat, 2023/01/14 - 4:10pm

I have always considered computer programming to be way out of my wheelhouse.  I seem to have quite a blind spot when it comes to any kind of programming language.  A while back I ordered some inexpensive microcontrollers to try with my rover project but found I didn't need them right away.  I thought I had lost them when I cleaned up a couple of weeks ago but now they are found.  While doing what seems to be my daily clock search on the internet, I came across a lot of digital clock tutorials and have been binge watching them for 2 weeks.  This morning I tried my hand at the Arduino IDE [Integrated Development Environment - software for building applications that combines common developer tools into a single graphical user interface (GUI)] and was magically able to get an ESP8266 Node MCU to run a sample "blink led" program and after I made some changes to the code - it ran that too.  What I have discovered is that it may actually be doable for me to make some interesting things with these as there is so much info available online...especially YouTube.  Now that I got my feet wet, I ordered some more controllers, OLED displays, and stepper motors to experiment with for some new clock projects.  To get an idea what I mean by inexpensive - that order (5 controllers, 5 screens, 5 stepper motors) was $46 on Amazon.  If I didn't mind waiting a month, I could have ordered them all from China for about 25 bucks.  For scale, the board I fired up is about 1" x 2" - the boards and OLEDs I just ordered are about 1.25" x 1.25" and the stepper motors are 1" in diameter.  67,75,30,0,C

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beard off

The Field Lab - Fri, 2023/01/13 - 3:42pm


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how the day starts...

The Field Lab - Thu, 2023/01/12 - 3:08pm
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The Field Lab - Wed, 2023/01/11 - 4:32pm

Very nice animated digital clock screensaver available by download for $9.99. This gives me some ideas for another clock build. Thinking about collecting parts for such an elaborate project, I really miss the Canal Street of the 80's in NYC - especially Canal Surplus, Canal Metals, and Canal Plastics. Back then I could source all kinds of obscure sculptural elements from there and I used to venture down to lower Manhattan every Saturday just for inspiration. You can get this screensaver here.72,80,37,0,B
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Status of Home Grown NM

Home Grown New Mexico - Wed, 2023/01/04 - 12:36pm

There have been some major changes in Home Grown board of directors. As a result we have decided to take a break from HG for 2023. Unfortunately there will be no classes/events for this year. The remaining Board of Directors will decide where we are going in 2024.

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Superfood Security is a Seed Away: Doug Fine’s AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is here.

Doug Fine - Mon, 2020/04/13 - 2:54pm


Doug Fine’s AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is here.

As are many of us, I’m feeling grateful for a lot of things at the moment. In particular, I’m sure glad it struck the three-years-ago-version-of-me as a fun idea to write an optimistic, humorous book that also provides a blueprint for establishing food security in your backyard.

For whatever reason, folks seem to want “funny” and “uplifting” at the moment. And laughing your way to food security? Seemed like a pleasant route. Still does. I’m doing it today – my fingers are still dank with humus as I type. Hemp farming is pretty easy, it attracts bees, and it’s all around about the most fun you can have outside the bedroom.

What I’m describing (and living) is  my new book, AMERICAN HEMP FARMER. It details a season in the burgeoning and newly-legalized hemp industry from a regenerative farmer perspective. The premise is this: a billion-dollar industry is great, but only meaningful if the actual farmers benefit at the retail level from the hemp renaissance.

For customers, the  win-win is that regenerative farming modes result in by-far the best hemp products. It’s not even close. Like fresh squeezed OJ beats frozen concentrate. All while sequestering carbon.

Turns out we have friends in low places. In nurturing a hemp field, we’re not the only species midwifing our hemp crop by planting time. To name one of a few hundred million, I recently gathered and brewed some fluffy white steaks of my watershed’s mycelium allies (fungus), which my family and I applying to our preseason soil in a compost tea this week.

Which leads to the core reason I wrote the book, from the introduction:

Six years ago, a bear fleeing a wildfire in our New Mexico backyard killed nearly all of my family’s goats in front of our eyes. It wasn’t the bear’s fault: he was a climate refugee. It was June of 2013, and drought had weakened the ponderosa pines and Douglas fir surrounding our remote Funky Butte Ranch. Beetles took advantage, and all of southern New Mexico was a tinderbox. Ho hum, just another climate event that until recently would have been called a “millennial” fire.

That’s the paramount reason I’m an overworked employee of the hemp plant: The people I care about most are one blaze away from joining the world’s 20 million climate refugees. At least I get the pleasure of putting “goat sitter” under occupation on my tax form.

The conflagration convinced me that I had to do something, personally, to work on this climate change problem. After some research about carbon sequestration through soil building, it became clear that planting as much hemp as possible was the best way to actively mitigate climate change and help restore normal rainfall cycles to our ecosystem.

This is why I treasure much more than just hemp’s flower gold rush (CBD, CBG, etc.). I also love hemp seed’s superfood and hemp fiber. It’s why I carry a 3D printed hemp plastic goat nearly everywhere I go.

A biomaterials-based economy doesn’t just perform better in our stuff, it means goodbye Pacific Garbage Patch. That is, when everything, even our batteries, is compostable or reusable (I mention batteries because next-generation hemp-based supercapacitors are discussed in AMERICAN HEMP FARMER).

We actually have been given a realistic opportunity to bridge humanity’s climate stabilization mission with its digital trajectory. In AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, I endeavor to connect the dots in my work, my food, and my whole life, with the thinking that if enough of us do the same, humanity’s got a shot in this here bottom of the climactic ninth.

It’s a solution-based book. Which is to say, it’s chock full of my own mistakes, as well as the triumphs and travails of many of my regenerative farmer friends and colleagues. Michael Pollan argues that we have co-evolved with certain plants, including cannabis. To be sure, hemp/human relations do go back 8,000 years. AMERICAN HEMP FARMER broaches the proud history of government-supported Hemp For Victory gardens going beyond the well-known World War II “Hemp For Victory” effort, all the way back to George Washington himself: in fact, at Mount Vernon last fall, I helped harvest the first hemp crop since President Washington’s time – I did this in colonial clothing and with (trust me) a very sharp sickle.

And that was before nutritionists knew about hemp’s ideal Omega 9-6-3 balance, high mineral content, and rare amount of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) — a fatty acid associated with anti-inflammatory properties, Whereas my family’s own hemp diet once bankrolled the Canadian economy, for the past there years it’s been free. Hemp got federally legalized in the 2014 Farm Bill, and I and my sons get in the soil at this time every year and grow it ourselves. In AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, you’ll even read about a study that indicates a hemp diet might combat obesity.

Sowing hemp is pretty easy, and the harvest is both copious (around 1,000 pounds per acre) and extremely delicious. And I eat a lot of it. Easily a cup a day. As do both my human kids and my goat kids. Indeed it’s very hard to keep the goats out of the field. Hemp seeds are an essential part not just of my family’s health maintenance plan, but of our food security plan. And anyone can do it.

AMERICAN HEMP FARMER is available everywhere now in book, e-book and audiobook form (I narrated the audiobook, which was super fun). And I hope that you find yourself at once giggling and learning as you read it. You can order it here.

Please feel free to share this Dispatch with your friends, family and professional networks. It would be great for folks everywhere to know that not just food security, but superfood security, is a seed (and a permit) away.

Meanwhile, it’s spring on the Funky Butte Ranch, and as AMERICAN HEMP FARMER advises, I’ve got my own hemp permit application filed, I’m building soil (just as the Funky Butte apricots burst into bloom), and I’m ready to grow another scrumptious crop. I like the feeling of knowing my family will thrive for another year no matter what.  When you read AMERICAN HEMP FARMER, you’ll see that you and yours can too. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.

Some reviews follow below, and I’m sending immense thanks for your support/ in ordering this book and telling your friends. OK, I’m off to the field to dump more goat poop and alfalfa on the soon-to-be-planted Funky Butte Ranch hemp field

-Doug Fine

Funky Butte Ranch, New Mexico

April 13, 2020


Book Doug’s Live Event here.

 Subscribe to the Dispatches From the Funky Butte Ranch newsletter and follow Doug on Instagram and Twitter @organiccowboy



American Hemp Farmer would have been in George Washington’s library. President Washington grew hemp and was a passionate, regenerative agriculturist. Washington sought advice from those that practiced their trade. Doug Fine‘s American Hemp Farmer is a scholarly, practical and impeccably enjoyable work and a must-read for those who cultivate hemp or are interested in leaping in.”  –J. Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

“With American Hemp Farmer, Doug Fine shows he is not just our preeminent hemp author, he is one of the most important authors of our time. As I’ve watched him leap between tending goats on his Funky Butte Ranch and hemp fields in Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and who-knows-where else, it sometimes occurs to me that he might be the most interesting man alive. The resulting book is an absolute must read.  –Eric Steenstra, Executive Director, VoteHemp

“A fantastic piece of Americana that shows the way to a sustainable future.” -David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner’s Soaps

“I hope every hemp farmer and policymaker reads this book carefully. It details a roadmap for success, for farmers and the planet. And that’s probably because Doug doesn’t just write about hemp, he lives it.” —Cary Giguere, State Hemp Program Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

                                  Further Praise for Doug’s Work
“Fine is a writer in he mold of Douglas Adams.” —Washington Post

“Fine is Bryson funny.” —Santa Cruz Sentinel

Doug has written the best book of the year and a blueprint for the future of America.”                       –Willie Nelson

About Doug Fine

Doug Fine is a comedic investigative journalist, bestselling author, and a solar-powered goat herder. He has cultivated hemp for food, farm-to-table products and seed-building in four U.S. states, and teaches a college hemp class. Willie Nelson calls Doug’s work “a blueprint for the America of the future.” The Washington Post says, “Fine is a storyteller in the mold of Douglas Adams.”  A website of Doug’s print, radio and television work, United Nations testimony, Conan and Tonight Show appearances and TED Talk is at and his social media handle is @organiccowboy.

Book Doug’s Live Event here.

 Subscribe to the Dispatches From the Funky Butte Ranch newsletter and follow Doug on Instagram and Twitter @organiccowboy

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