Ultimate Fantasy Homesteading League (resource sharing and speculation on building our Ideal Homes)

Discussion in 'Make It So' started by vegacoyote, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    Oh man guys, you are awakening my silkworm interests...

    I toy with the idea of raising my own intentionally, but I am almost more interested in trying to create a friendly environment for our local wild silk moth types, and either catch-and-release harvesting cocoons or foraging cocoons from the wooded part of our property.
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  2. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    I found the site I'd been reading before about wild moths! It does seem like the "home" link at the bottom of the page is consistently broken- it tries to lead back to an index page that doesn't exist except on the Wayback Machine- but if you redirect back to just wormspit.com rather than the broken index page link, it seems to go to the new home page. I haven't explored the part of the site that's on the wayback machine yet, but there's a lot about how to raise the caterpillars/worms through cocooning, then keeping your ideal females and setting up so they can call local wild males to mate and start over with new eggs.

    Realness Quotient for this project (for me): about 6, because while it seems very doable and doesn't seem to need insanely expensive specialty equipment, I don't think we will get moths this far into the city sprawl, so it's "real but in the future after we move."
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  3. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    You guys I am already doing so many moth experiments in my head, you don’t even know.

    Also, I just found this guy who vid-blogs about raising bugs for food, and he is all about Samia ricini. He has a whole series about raising them, go see!

    (Must say, going through his channel I feel like he could stand to use fewer minor-scale scare chords when trying to convince people that bugs are a fun thing to put in your mouth.)

    *edit* @paladinkit Thank you for finding the homepage for Wormspit! I’d been finding the pages for individual moths when I googled their names, but not the hub. Yey, more to read! :D
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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  4. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

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  5. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Something I have: A source who sells Samia ricini eggs!

    Something I need: 1) Warmer weather; 2) Housing and fodder adequate for raising Samia ricini to adulthood.

    Leading me to something else I have: Object lessons in what not to do.

    Shortly after I graduated college, my mom took about a two-month-long course in permaculture; she had tried to get me to sign up for it, but I was deeply, deeply depressed at the time, so in order to get her to stop bothering me, I suggested she take it instead.

    She came back from the course with three new friends, and a new determination to Build Her Own Ecovilliage.

    She initiated this by evicting me from the small rental house I lived in rent-free, so that the family of one of her New Friends could move in there in my place. I felt like I had no grounds to object, because I was, as I mentioned before, not paying rent, and didn’t have a job, and I fully bought into my mother’s line of reasoning at the time, which held that this meant I was Not Really a Grownup.

    Of course, this left me sleeping on my mom’s couch, until such time as my sister escaped to Minneapolis, allowing me to move into the spare bedroom.

    OK guys, quick pop quiz! What do you get when 3 bipolars and a schizoaffective try to start an ecovilliage without first ensuring that their symptoms are under control and they’re all on the same page, goalwise?!?

    If you guessed that the answer involves a lot of dead chickens, you would be right!

    (I wasn’t actually one of that number- though I am bipolar, and my symptoms were poorly controlled at the time, I wasn’t really in on the planning part, and my role in the whole thing consisted mainly of stewing in resentment and dealing with the chicken-related fallout.)

    Anyway, that was fun, if we’re defining “fun” to mean “pretty much the opposite of fun, except for a few bright spots involving watching and interacting with chickens.” On the bright side, I did learn how to keep chickens alive, and that I liked doing it.

    Anyway, I... now know not to do things that way? At the very least, beyond “make sure your symptoms are under control” and “communicate clearly about your needs and goals,” I now have a solid rule stating that one must always have adequate feeding and housing facilities ready and waiting before bringing any animal into one’s living situation.

    Oh, also, don’t trust anyone to act as the Voice of Sanity before you’ve seen how they handle conflict. Or the purchase of chickens.

    A year or so after the blowout, I raised about a dozen Americana hens by hand, and except for one raccoon-related casualty, they all grew up to be healthy, friendly, productive hens. They ended up moving to a farm belonging to a longtime friend of the family, and last I heard, over ten years on, three of them were still alive, and reportedly very cuddly.

    ... I like chickens you guys.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  6. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    OK, so recently, our bank rolled out a new interface that actually allows me to look directly at how much was in my IRA, and it turns out, there’s actually about $215,000 in there. And I was like, dude. I was certain there was much less in there.

    And for a second I was like, holy carp that is higher than the number on that one piece of property with the two ponds and the south facing slopes, what if I just cashed out today and bought it?

    And then I answered myself, well, assuming it was still enough to buy that property after income tax took its slice, you would have to find something to live on that wasn’t the IRA, which would either mean going back to the state and proving you’re still disabled, which sucks and who knows if they even believe me this time, or finding, like, a job, which would involve convincing someone that I want to, can and will do work for them, none of which I’m convinced is true. Which is interesting, because I’m p sure that’s the same part of me that’s convinced I’m not really disabled.

    So new rule: No Buying of Land Until All Other Needs are Met.

    But then I was like, Hold on. Does this make me the Wealthy Benefactor?

    Eeheehee. I’m Batman.
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  7. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    ... !!!

    I found a site where people swap insect eggs free of charge.


    *edit* Whoops, my mom just tried to Voice of Sanity at me by invoking the memory of my father.

    “Wow, this is the sort of thing that your dad would tell me was Not Very Practical.”

    “Heh. Is this your way of telling me I’m not being very practical?”

    “It’s not very practical. It’s insane!”

    Mom, don’t even try and Voice of Sanity at me right now, I spent too many years as a kid playing the same role to you, and your livestock of choice was horses. Which are huge, cost thousands of dollars as an initial investment, thousands more dollars to feed and house, hundreds of hours a month to care for, and whose primary economic contribution (other than manure, which we actually had to pay someone to haul off) is, “Ride on! Wheeeeee!”

    Silkworms can be raised in tupperware, eat common local plants, and they make silk. Which, yes, you can sell.

    Worst case scenario, I’m out like $40 and some plastic shoeboxes, and have to deal with funeral arrangements for a few dead bugs. I lived the economic black hole that was your equestrian habit. Don’t try and Sane Voice me, cause I know you ain’t it.

    And I also know not to buy anything alive when my brain is going “boing!” No matter how entertaining the “boing!” is being.

    ... Would anyone care to toss a reality-check my way? I’m not being too nuts, am I?
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  8. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    Consider in your worst case scenario: you could end up with a mass escape, and be finding dead silkworms everywhere in the room for ages.
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  9. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    But overall, not too nuts! :)
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  10. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Thank you; that is a load off my brain.

    Haven’t bought anything yet; don’t intend to until I get the OK from my sister, whose house I live in; and even then, not until I’m absolutely sure I still want it when “boing” is not happening, and housing set up, and climate turns to something that won’t kill tiny bug eggs on contact.

    *edit* also, seriously. Thank you. I tend to worry a lot about my brain Doing the Thing, nah mean?
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
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  11. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    ... And now my continued poking at the silkworm topic has led me down a rabbit hole to native mulberry trees. Apparently Chinese white mulberries are like crazy durable and adaptive, and native-to-US red mulberries are more wetland-specialized? And white mulberries are out-competing and hybridizing red mulberries out of existence.

    And now my treasure-hunter brain is going, “Gots to get me some-a those too,” and science-brain is going, “HYPOTHESIS: White mulberries are out-competing red not just because they are generalists and reds are specialized, but because, as they are not limited to low-lying wetland areas, white mulberries have the high ground advantage and their pollen spreads farther, meaning that they pollinate red mulberries more readily than red mulberries pollinate white. EXPERIMENT: OK we’re gonna need a stand of female mulberry trees of both species and a hill with a wetland on top where we can plant a male red mulberry, let’s go!”

    ... Also it’s brain-shut-down o’clock, so good night, all.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
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  12. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    Yeah, the eggs sound pretty sane! I think having a backup plan for "how they get fed and cared for if you're too spoonless" would likely be a good idea, if you're prone to executive dysfunction? But this is pretty damn low-risk as far as animals go.
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  13. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    I... bluh. I want to make Concrete Steps in this direction, but I'm not quite sure where to start. We've been doing some dehydrating and pickling, which is pretty darn cool. I've been doing a lot of knitting. But it all feels really abstract and pipe-dream-y right now.

    For right now... I think I'm gonna prioritize getting back to learning to use a sewing machine. Goal of one hour per week through March, by which point I'll hopefully have wrapped up all the outstanding projects that have been sitting for wayyyy too long.
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  14. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    When I get deep into executive dysfunction, usually the only thing I can manage to drag myself out of it for is animal care. But mostly only if it’s something simple and immediate, like “put food and water in bowl.” If it’s something complicated and/or distinctly unpleasant, like “clean cage,” that can definitely fall by the wayside.

    ... Hmm. Caterpillar frass is supposed to be removed daily or Bad Things Happen, but it looks to be mostly solid, and pretty easy to remove if you put down a paper towel under the food. I might be able to keep that in the Absolutely Necessary column, but you’re right, it’d be good to have a backup.

    *edit* Oh also, while I was poking around at mulberry cultivars I found these: Dwarf everbearing mulberries.

    I got them for people for Christmas, because that’s just cool. :)

    (I had planters to give because pottery classes, so I actually did need something to go in them. And they’ll need new pots eventually, so they’re gonna come with coupons for upgrades.)
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  15. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    So this is a thing:


    10 castor beans- seeds for the primary host plant of the eri silkworm.

    I still need to find a place for them that the cats and dogs won’t get into- all parts of the plant are toxic, which these caterpillars apparently love.

    Anyways here’s the start of my plantation you guys. (All toxic and/or exotic plants will be kept indoors ofc.)
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  16. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Hey guys I found something that eri silkworms eat that 1) isn’t poisonous 2) is good for silk production 3) grows locally 4) I am familiar with and very fond of!

    They like lilacs you guys!
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  17. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Oh, know what else? I should get a picture of all the stuff I Rescued From Winter sitting on the back porch, and the other stuff I’ve been sprouting from cuttings.

    Brought in about 5 basil plants, a tomato, and a transplanted Basket Herb Garden (parsley, thyme, oregano, think there was originally some rosemary too but the parsley’s an aggressive mofo and shaded it out) plus 2 lavenders in the left corners of the transplant trough, and 2 dwarf creeping rosemaries on the right (which is convenient since the Basket Herb Garden rosemary apparently kicked it) and about 4 pepper plants, growing extremely unenthusiasticly in their own pots. (They weren’t very enthusiastic this summer, either. I think the trough we put them in didn’t drain right and/or wasn’t big enough, and now it’s winter they’re like “eh fukkit.”)

    Anyway, today I planted 2 castor seeds in a pot whose previous occupant had vacated the premises under Mysterious Circumstances, so now we’ll see how that goes, if it does. (I did replace the soil at the top of the pot with fresh potting soil and seed mix.)

    If it doesn’t, I’ll start futzing with the variables. Like, for instance, starting from a completely fresh pot. Or at least one whose previous tenant hadn’t suddenly bit the dust for no visible reason.

    Anyways. Picchurs tomorrow. I’ll show you the onion greens we’re sprouting from an oopsie we forgot in the bottom of the lettuce crisper. And the half-shallot I’m trying to do the same with on purpose. (It came in a Hello Fresh box with sirloin steak, potatoes and green-beans with a sour cream sauce. My sister was quite miffed when she got to the end and it didn’t tell her what to do with the other half. She was like, “What are we supposed to do with the rest?” and I was all, “We plant it!” The more chopped up part has spread out from soaking up water, but other than that the jury’s still out whether it’ll grow.)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2019
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  18. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Whoops, took the pictures, fogot to post them.

    Hold on-


    2 of the 3 biggest basil plants, all the same variety (sharpish toothed leaves, kinda peppery smell) and a little pot containing sprouted onion greens (which have now been moved to a bigger pot.)


    View of the rescued tomato plant, leaning over a non-hung hanging basket for support.


    Foreground tomato with background winter herb garden, and a glass with various cuttings I’ve been trying to sprout. In the unhung hanging basket, you can see 2 very unenthusiastic peppers, and another basil that came up delicate and kinda weedy-lookin, and smells faintly of lemon. (It came in the same tray as the other basils, but I’m pretty sure it’s a different variety.)


    Basil (pronounced with an ah,) my sister’s house-basil (pronounced with an ay.) He’s been living in that pot for about 3 years and is pretty geriatric by now. Sweet basil brought up from Iowa. I just recently got one of his cuttings to sprout roots! :D


    Successfully sprouted cuttings I photographed today! From left to right, Lemon, Pepper and Bahsil Jr., whoopin it up with some unenthusiastic peppers.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
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  19. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    OH ALSO! I contacted one of the people selling Eri silkworms to ask them what they thought would be a good winter food source for someone living in a place where the air tries to take your fingers off if you forget gloves, and they suggested privet (which is considered an undesirable invasive at best over here, never mind trying to find someone who sells it, so today I went on a drive to see the Arboretum to see if I could find any other of the listed ever-green host plants, and it was a whole-ass Adventure but not what I’m trying to talk about now)

    SO ANYWAY they ALSO said that they have about a thousand hatched out S. ricini cocoons that they could sell me, but they didn’t know how much they’re worth so I could name my price. And I thought, hey, here’s my chance to see if eri silk is a thing I would enjoy working with, without risking the wellbeing of any hungry, hungry caterpillars to winter scarcity and my non-existent caterpillar husbandry experience.

    So hey @paladinkit, or any other fiber people- what would you say is a fair asking price for that many unprocessed cocoons? Raw wool seems to go for about $5/lb, so I was thinking of asking for that. What do you guys think?
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
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  20. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    I've seen cut mulberry silk cocoons sold on Paradise Fibers for about $7/oz, but that looks like it's been cleaned some, even the ones that aren't degummed yet. It's also been packaged with spinners in mind. You can probably ask for less from this person, but silk is usually quite a bit more expensive by weight than wool is.
    • Informative x 3
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