winterToday is Groundhog day…do you care? Did you  even remember? I didn’t, until I got home and started poking around on the internet. Supposedly, we’ll be having 6 more weeks of winter. Which, for us, means 6 more weeks of opportunities for winter rain. Which would be a good thing. Then, in my poking around, I come to discover that the groundhog is only about 40% accurate. Poop. I bet my hedgehog could predict just as well. That got me to wondering, what else do we rely on that is only 40% accurate?IMG_2305

Well, I’m not really sure of the answer to that question, but I do know that we rely heavily on the weather forecast on the farm. Weather conditions affect everything we do here: water the orchard or no, will the night be warm enough or do we need to put the water for the chickens inside, flood the gabion garden or will it just freeze everything, do we butcher tomorrow or not?  Looks like we probably won’t be butchering tomorrow – at least as things stand today.  Horrible to butcher if it’s going to be windy and rainy. This is the second time we’ve planned a processing day and had to call it due to the weather. I’m sharing this photo of our home weather station, so you can see the unusual site of  forecast rain. When I took it at the first sighting of rain (4:16 p.m.) we had a 12% chance of precipitation; now we are up to a 19% chance! We would totally LOVE the rain to come this way… looks like it is raining down Mexico way. The wind has also picked up quite a bit from what you see there – we are now at gusts of 18 mph with winds coming from the west… mostly that blows the clouds away from us, but we’ll see what happens over time. I guess this counts at the “Today’s Weather” portion of the blog!

leavesEgg Report: Let’s do the egg report and then I’ll go on to what I stumbled upon in Chicago. Today we had a pretty good day 11 chicken eggs, but still zero duck. Yesterday we would have had 11, but two were eaten! EATEN! Dang it! We have yet to identify the culprit(s). They are surely doomed. Still we had zero duck. Sue is wondering if the uptick in chicken egg production may have something to do with the addition of leaves to their range. They sure seem to be having a good ol’ time, looking for bugs and burrowing down into the leaves, moving them all over the place. Today’s equation: Fun[may]=eggs! (that’s Sue’s shadow, by the way, completing her photography task for the day 🙂 )

img_2288.jpgCool Thing: So – what did I stumble upon in Chicago? I am soooo glad you asked.  I’m not exactly sure how this may pan out, or if it will even be something we could work with at all, but I will share it because I was so surprised that it even existed in this arena.  WHAT IS “IT”? Ok, ok! Let me try to explain. I was at the Chicago headquarters of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) for some executive training days. During lunch on the first day, we had the opportunity to tour the CRT Lab. I wasn’t even going to go. What the heck is CRT and why do I care to tour their lab? Well, CRT stands for Center for REALTOR® Technology and they have an AMAZING lab right there in the REALTOR® Building in downtown Chicago.  The lab is located on the fourth floor of this building. Anyone can schedule a tour, if you’re in the area, you just need to contact them ahead of time.  I’m going to cut and past some explanations from their website to share with you.
CRT LabsCRT Labs is a research group operated by the National Association of REALTORS’® Center for REALTOR® Technology. The primary goal for CRT is to track emerging technologies that will affect real estate, educate its members, advocate for the proper use of technology, and innovate when there is a gap between what is needed and what is available.
In 2015, CRT established the R&D lab to investigate smart home/internet of things; devices, renewable energy, urban agriculture and building materials, as well as any other emerging technologies as they become evident. CRT is working with NGOs, vendors, national laboratories, universities and government agencies to help promote NAR as an agent for technology research and innovation.

chad_curry_headshot_national_association_of_realtorsOn day 2, I had the opportunity to speak with CRT Labs’ Managing Director, Chad Curry. I talked to him a bit about what we were experimenting with here in the desert, specifically permaculture, water harvesting, and – hopefully – the WaterSeer Project. I spoke to him about these things because they are actively engaged in promoting urban agriculture, aquaponics, and alternative power systems. He was interested in the WaterSeer project, and in engaging with us in perhaps testing air quality sensors in a desert environment. I was interested in their Rosetta Home building health monitoring system and the upcoming Beta Testing of that. You can apply to assist with the Beta testing if you want, but definitely take a look at this system they are developing.

air guidThey also put together booklets like “A Pocket Guide to Cleaner Air” which talks about ways of improving the air in our indoor spaces. “The EPA estimates that we spend about 90% of our time indoors, but that the air inside is actually worse than the air outside due to high levels of CO2 and other gases. Knowing how to mitigate these gases before they cause health problems can help us all live better lives, and by adding just a few plants, we can be on our way to to a healthier lifestyle.” Something we don’t necessarily think about as we live our lives indoors. All of this really spoke to that environmental design part of me. Chad invited me to get back in touch with him from home; perhaps we can open a dialogue and see how we may be able to participate in those beta studies and innovative designs they are working on. Isn’t it interesting how you find these connections or opportunities in areas you would absolutely NOT expect them. You know we’ll keep the information coming. Until then, as always~
Thanks for reading!