What do you do when you have a bum shoulder and can’t dig your pond? Why, you buy a death ray on eBay so you can melt glass and cook food, of course!

Let me explain…

A Fresnel lens is a thin plastic lens made of small concentric grooves on one side that focuses light like a magnifying glass. You’ve seen them around – they are those plastic sheets that are used to magnify text, and on a large scale are what’s in a lighthouse to create that beam of light.

When you use a Frenel lens to concentrate sunlight, you take the warm embrace of gentle sunshine and focus it into a face-melting, unholy death-ray. Seriously, if you do it right, that spot of light is strong enough to melt steel. Wow!

So naturally I HAD to have one.

Why? Well, to my mind, this Fresnel lens unlocks a whole wealth of possibilities using only the power of the sun. I can cook, disinfect water, start fires easily, and even go to new places such as metal cutting, welding, and making homemade obsidian. All from the benign power of the sun! Which, by the way, will still be available in the aftermath of a major earthquake.

And so enters a new Era of solar cooking and more at SSA. On the way are two Fresnel lenses, one spot and one linear, plus a parabolic mirror just for funsies. I’ll do my solar cooking and experimenting while my shoulder heals, then go back to finish digging my pond before spring.

(Side note – guess what the pond can also be? An emergency store of water for a disaster. Which I can distill into safe drinking water using the Fresnel lenses and only the sun. A beautiful thing, no?)

I’ll keep you posted!

California Drought and Greywater Usage Update

by Rebecca Simpson on November 8, 2015

I love me a hot bath more than just about anything. But as a drought-striken Californian, that is a luxury I’ve had to forego for the last few years.

Last week, I sustained a significant shoulder injury.  I was so sad. Until I heal, I can’t dig ponds, build fences, clean, and lift, like I was looking forward to doing all winter. Total bummer.

But today something awesome happened! I’ve been coming along nicely on my greywater system, using laundry water to irrigate the landscaping and plunging my family’s water usage to a record low of 62 gallons per person per day. ( This month’s total bill from the water company was $54.26) Since I had most of the grey water plumbing rigged, it was simple matter to run a pump to the bathtub so I could take a therapeutic soak for my shoulder and afterwards pump the water to the garden.

Long story short, though being injured caused a surprise change of plans, it also set me on a new path. With careful management, I can now reuse even more grey water from both the laundry and from baths/showers. I think that is a win-win.

Sometimes in setbacks there are hidden victories. I’ll keep you posted.

Siberian Husky Shedding (Blowing) Her Coat

September 16, 2015 Agricultural Age

Siberian Husky Coat Harvest As you know from previous posts, our Siberian Husky Roxy is the family sheep.  We harvest her undercoat and use it to spin yarn and weave hats and scarves.  In case you haven’t seen what it is like when a Husky blows their coat, the video below will give you a taste […]

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Edible Landscaping – Winter Garden Update

February 22, 2015 Agricultural Age

Winter Garden Happenings Spring is coming, here is a quick edible landscaping update on our winter garden!

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(VIDEO) Spinning with the Babe’s Pinkie Spinning Wheel

May 30, 2014 Agricultural Age

Spinning is Old School Spinning with a spinning wheel originally dates back to around the 11th century.  Here at Suburban Stone Age, it dates back to last month.  After 120 agonizing days spinning with a drop spindle in 2010, I swore the next time I’d make yarn I’d be doing it with a spinning wheel. […]

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(VIDEO) Edible Landscaping Tour at Suburban Stone Age

May 11, 2014 Agricultural Age

You asked for it, and here it is! Come along for a personal, first-time-ever video tour of Suburban Stone Age! Apparently, I’m a talker, because this vid is almost 30 mins long. But if you have the attention span, I’ll share with you (in detail!) the edible landscaping as SSA and why we planted the […]

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(VIDEO) How to Build a Fire with Flint and Steel

May 4, 2014 Spring

When camping for the weekend, I love to take the opportunity to practice survival skills.  This weekend I was testing out how to build a fire with flint and steel.  This technique dates back to the Iron Age, and is still incredibly effective today.  Find out how to use flint and steel, along with what […]

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(VIDEO) Going Tropical in the Greenhouse

April 20, 2014 Agricultural Age

Let’s face it… a greenhouse in Southern California isn’t *really* necessary. True, it’s great for starting seeds in the spring. But in summer it gets as hot as the surface of the sun, and in winter it stays only a few degrees above freezing. Because I don’t do a lot of container gardening, the greenhouse […]

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