Ben working Anicca Acres.

Ben working Anicca Acres.

Welcome to our newest feature on Rocking the Homestead, where we’ll take a look at other kick ass, rocking homesteads across the internet!  Today we’re going to check out the homestead of an old Army buddy of mine, Ben and his wife, Kelsey. Ben blogs at www.theonlytruthismusic.com.

Does your homestead have a name, and where is it located?

Well call our place Anicca Acres. Anicca is the Buddhist idea of impermanence – this house is always in a state of flux, things coming and going, people flowing in and out, rooms changing and growing. My wife, Kelsey came up with the name and it couldn’t be more perfect. The home is Kelsey’s family home and has been in the family for a very long time. We’re located in Casa De Oro, California which is part of unincorporated San Diego County. Find San Diego on a map, go about ten miles east along highway 94 and you’ll find us.

Tell us about your homestead team.  Do you work with family?  Friends?  Employees?  Your self?

Our homestead/community is an offshoot of the Occupy movement. Several of us were part of the wellness and medical committee and after falling out with Occupy, we decided to turn our attention to sustainable living – the true revolution. So between us, there are three different locations we focus our attention on, all being homesteads. There are about seven of us who make up the core group with other folks floating in and out as their time allows. Specifically, Anicca Acres is myself and Kelsey. We represent a fairly diverse group; military veterans, older couples, and folks coming off the streets.

bens hs 1

 Tell us about your homestead.  How big is it?  What plants do you grow?  What animals do you keep?  Why?

Anicca Acres is a little bit of a weird layout, more like a shotgun style property, not a whole lot (but enough) to the left and right, but long. A different spots along the property we have grapes, apples, strawberries, logan berries, black berries, tomatoes, moringa and taro. The berries and the apple tree are up by the main house, so we’re working on installing a grey water system to both help reduce our water consumption as well as the load on the septic system. We have a wide assortment of decorative plants and old growth succulents, lots of cactus and plants that need little water – I’m particularly fond of the Tropicana Lilies growing like crazy in the pond. There’s a stretch of the property in the rear that eventually we intend to turn into an orchard focusing on citrus and avocados.

As to critters – we just recently finished our goat pen and currently have three goats, one adult female who we milk as part of a cooperative, a doe, and a buck we are raising for eventual slaughter. The goats all belong to the Kinder breed (a mix between pygmy and Nubian). The kinder have a great disposition and are fantastic milkers. When the girls are in full production cycle, we average between 3 to 4 cups of milk, twice a day. Eventually we’d like to look into different fiber goats specifically cashmere and angora.

When Kelsey’s father passed away a little while ago, we converted the 10,000-gallon lap pool into a pond where we have about 100 Koi, American Sun Fish, Gold fish and Tilapia. Not only do we eat what fish we can, but the pond serves as an incredible source of nutrient rich water for many of the plants we grow. We’re currently working on building out planter boxes immediately off to the side of the pond and plumbing on an aquaponics system where we hope to grow vegetables on a seasonal rotation.

The chickens we had recently reached the end of their lifecycle, so we’re currently without any sort of laying fowl but with the goat pen finished, we’re going to turn our attention to building out a duck pond where we’ll house both ducks and chickens. At the same time, we’re building out an area where we’ll raise rabbits for food as well. There is some talk of moving Anicca Acres north, for a larger piece of land, if we do that, we’ll look at including pigs.

bens hs 2

 What other homestead skills do you utilize? (examples: carpentry, soap making, cheese making, etc.)

Well, seeing as we do everything ourselves, I’d say we employ a wide range of skills, most of them we’re learning as we go about our chores. I’ve probably learned more about carpentry in the last few weeks than the entirety of my previous 40 years. I had no idea how to properly install a livestock fence nor the joy of hammering in large fence staples (here’s a hard learned hint, use a pair of pliers to hold the staple … your fingers will thank me).

We do a lot of composting and we’ve had to get up to speed pretty quick on the basics of plumbing and electrical wiring.

With all of the goat milk, Kelsey has gotten damn good at making cheese and as we move forward, we intend to build out a cheese cellar so she can start working on aged and hard cheeses. Right now it’s a lot of mozzarella, ricotta and chevre. For the record, Kelsey is probably the most amazing cook I’ve ever met and she takes everything we produce and turns it into something amazing. Just the other day she made a goat cheese dip with olive oil and basil picked from our garden.

As we look into fiber goats, we’ve decided we need to learn basic crocheting and knitting as well as how to spin yarn.

 How did you get started homesteading?  What drives you to continue?

My reasons for getting started are also the reasons that keep me going: political and philosophical.

In my view, growing your own food is the single most revolutionary act a person can do. Our food system has become poisonous with all of the ridiculous preservatives and chemicals used. The pesticides sprayed on crops, the growth hormones feed to livestock is both killing us and keeping us dependent on a capitalistic system that is a race to the bottom.

Then there is very much the idea of getting back to the land, feeling the soil, working it, making something grow from it. Learning what the soil and crops need. How to amend the soil, how to put in a proper rotation so the soil gets recharged every season with alternate crops.

What the critters need, how to take care of them, and knowing the dinner I’m about to sit down to was treated to a fantastic life while the animal was with us and then when the time came, it was killed in the most humane way possible.

Meat is specifically a hot button issue and I very much fall on the hunter side of things. Mind you, not those jack-asses who go out for sport and trophy but those who use and eat everything they kill. I grew up in Alaska, we did a lot of hunting and from as young as I can remember, my father worked it into me – this creature is a gift and as such you use as much of it as possible. I completely understand vegetarians and respect their desire to not eat meat. The folks that I can not understand is the person who cuts a piece of steak, puts it into their mouth and then tells me I’m disgusting for slaughtering a goat. Again with the politics – we’ve gotten so disconnected from our food system that cognitive dissonance is able to run rampant … where the hell do you think that steak came from?

bens hs 4

 What goals do you have for your homestead?

Simple – to be as self-sustaining as is humanly possible. I’m always going to need to go to the store to get a can of coffee, but when and where we can do it ourselves … we will.

Looking far into the future, I’d love to get Anicca Acres up and running as a destination for sustainable living with classes on how to do it, completely organic food items for sale along with vegetables and fruits available for picking.

 What other issues are passionate about, and do they intersect with your homesteading?

I’m extremely passionate about politics and would describe myself as a leaning far-left progressive. So money out of politics, corporate personhood and so on and so on are some of my key issues.

I do feel like many of my political views intersect — my family and I are taking the power back, we’re taking it for ourselves and getting ourselves away from what I see as a failed corporate-acracy.

 What other hobbies do you have besides homesteading?

Photography is probably my most loved hobby along with scuba diving, reading, writing and making music.

 What is your favorite band/musician?

Hard question, as a music nut, I’d say I have far too many bands and artist I love to call one my favorite. That said, if I had to choose an assortment of my go-to bands: Tom Waits, The Pixies, Black Rebel Motorcycle, Miles Davis, and Hank Williams.

 What was the first concert you went to?  What was the last?

When I was little around nine or ten, there was a contest on the local country radio station, KIAK. They would play a snippet of a song backwards, and the first person to call in and correctly identify the song and artist won tickets. I owned this game! Over the course a few weeks, I won enough times to take my entire family of seven along with my mom’s best friend and husband to see Ferlin Husky, my first concert experience.

My last is rather disappointing – Saving Able who performed at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay while I deployed there … I need to get out to a show!

 If you could invite any rock star to your homestead, who would it be?  What wonders of your homestead would you most like to show off to them?

Tom Waits! I read an article once where Tom described himself as a master up-cycler. He loves to spend time at the dump near his place in Santa Rosa and find random weird shit to take back home and do something with. So I would love to show him all the random bits of stuff we have around the house that were repurposed – the tea pot wind chimes and the whisky bottle planters and then I would ask him for some of his ideas for stuff!

Photo credit Michael O'Brien, obtained here

Photo credit Michael O’Brien, obtained here

 Is there a song that you think describes your homestead?

No single song per se, but maybe more like a group of improvisational jazz … guys and gals just jumping up on stage with whatever instrument they have in hand and blow, baby, blow. Making something beautiful as everyone else follows their lead for a spell till its someone else’s turn to take center stage and burn, burn, burn.

If you are interested in having your homestead featured on the Rocking Homestead, drop me a line with the answers to all of these questions, a link to your website/blog (if you have one) and 4-5 photos of your homestead.  

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