Carbon Neutral Vacation and Travel?

Do you take carbon neutral vacations?

Do you take carbon neutral vacations?

I hope a recent survey and my own experiences are not representative of what people are willing to invest to reduce their carbon footprint.  Whether one believes in Climate Change or not it is a fact that forests consume CO₂, produce oxygen and help preserve water quality.

Just a note: While many people like to talk about CO₂ sequestration it is important to note that an acre of trees produces, on average, enough oxygen for 18 people.  That means our little 45 acre forests produces enough oxygen for over 800 people.

A Survey

“A new Daily Wire/Whatsgoodly online survey asked 1,250 millennials from all over the country just how much money they’d be willing to personally give this year to fight what the Democratic Party and the left-leaning media consistently reminds us is the greatest threat facing mankind: climate change. The answer is not much, if any.”

My Experience

Anecdotally, my experience confirms the results of the study. After hosting scores of families including many millennials I have not even once had anyone mention climate science or CO₂ sequestration in private conversations, reviews or guestbook entries.

La Casita in Swansboro

La Casita in Swansboro a Carbon Neutral Destination

We do provide a carbon neutral vacation destination.  Our La Casita in Swansboro provides travelers with completely carbon neutral travel and lodging by virtue of our 45 acres of forest.  The carbon neutral character of La Casita is clearly spelled out in our online descriptions on VRBO and Airbnb.

Take a Carbon Neutral Vacation by Staying with Forest Owners

Did you know that over 50% of the forests in the United States are privately owned? According to the Forest Landowner Foundation most forest owners, 95%, own less than 100 acres.  Of those owning less than 100 acres most forest owners own 10 acres or less. It is significant that 10 acres of some species of pine trees can sequester 40 to 70 tons of CO₂ per year. That is enough CO₂ sequestration for most American households.  Please see page 18 of “A Landowner’s Guide to Carbon Sequestration Credits” for more information.

The sequestering of CO₂ by over 360 million acres of privately owned forest is a major impact.  When water

A picture of the author in his forest.

A picture of the author in his forest

quality is included the importance of private forests cannot be overstated.  Coupled with economic impacts on jobs, industry and consumer products private forest owners are an important resource.  I encourage everyone who is traveling to seek out lodging that is carbon neutral by virtue of forests.

I hope the survey and my anecdotal experiences are not indicative of what millennials or any other age group is thinking.  I think people do care.  Remember, your stay at a forest owners home may make a difference.  Your decision could make the difference in having a clean forest producing clean air and water or the forest being destroyed for yet one more development or Walmart.

Think about it.

Building a Green Rubble Road

Some people run.  Some people lift weights.  It’s hard work…hard labor.  I’ve been fortunate to have some folks give me tons of concrete and marl rock.

A prisoner doing hard labor

Hard Labor

I break the concrete up into rubble that is used as fill for ditch crossings, stream crossings, or to construct roads and paths in our forest.

My tools are pretty basic.  I use an 8 pound sledge, a pair of gloves and my old F-350 truck.  I bought the truck back in the 90’s.  In fact I used the proceeds from logging our forest to pay for the truck.  We haven’t logged the place since.

Building a Green Rubble Road

A hand built concrete rubble road

A hand built concrete rubble road

What the heck is a green rubble road? I’ll get to that first let me talk about building the road. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this work.  However, it is very simple and satisfying.  I like to try to work at it about 5 to 8 hours a week.  The process starts at pile huge chunks of concrete rubble where, using the sledgehammer, I break the large slabs up into manageable 20 to 50 pound chunks.  I load these chunks by hand into the truck.  I do so carefully since I’d like my truck to last another 20 or more years.  I reckon I load about a ton or so at a time.  Just enough to get down on the helper springs.

When I get to the forest road I’m working on I lay the pieces down like cobblestone.  I then break the chunks up using the sledge until there is minimal movement.  This makes a rough but good enough surface to drive over with my truck or tractor.  Later I’ll be covering the ‘cobbles’ with a layer of sand/dirt which will help smooth the surface out. Here’s the green part. These paths and roads are great because they are permeable and minimize run off.  In fact they become covered with grass and help filter sediment out of the water. That’s important for keeping the wonderful waters around Swansboro nice and clean.  We are glad to do our part!

Help Me Help the Environment

Do you want to help build permeable roads and paths in my forest.  You can and I’ll make you a commemorative piece of concrete with a name chiseled into it…roughly, cause I ain’t no artist.  The concrete stones will be about 50 pounds and the cost is $25.  Your stone will be used to mark a spot in the trails, a point of significance or provide a piece of a structure.  You bet, I’ll send you a picture.

Order your commemorative stone by pressing the Paypal button below.  Let me know if you want your stone to be a trail marker, a point of significance or a piece of a structure like a wall or pillar or stairs or patio…etc.

I never will work as long as hard as these guys did back in the day…wait until the 1 minute mark for some singing.

Ignore the Large Glowing Orb in the Sky!

Are you a Believer?

Ignore the large glowing orb in the sky! Dismiss historical factoids like the Thames Frost Fairs (Little Ice Age) or Vikings growing barley in Greenland (Medieval Warming Period). That is just recent history in geological terms. 

Frost Fair on Thames 1814

Frost Fair on Thames 1814

Go further back and you’ll find the Sahara was green or that my hometown (Swansboro, NC) was once at the bottom of the ocean as evidenced by the fossilized sea life in the marl beds.  What’s the point?  The point is that the climate changes, sometimes radically, and has done so since the beginning of time.  Some people might argue about the ‘rate of change’.  Just so you know, the average global temperature has not changed in the last 10 years. Yes, I know, in geological times 10 years is as insignificant as 100 years. Never the less, my opinion is that the Sun’s energy output has much more to do with climate than .03% of the atmosphere.  Others tend to agree.  Maybe you don’t.  That’s OK but before you banish me to the outer reaches of the Internet…Think about This.

Before I am Banished…

Let’s skip the politics and philosophy (neither allowed on my property).  I believe in conservation. My wife and I took a leap and purchased a forest back in the 80’s. Why? because I have always enjoyed forests and all of the benefits they provide: clean air, water and wildlife habitat.  Slowly, but steadily development is encircling our little forest.  As this development grows closer the importance of our forest grows correspondingly.  Likewise it is a scientific fact that our forest is a carbon sink.  So, if C02 sequestration is something that you are interested in pursuing…why not buy offsets from someone you can actually talk to who has land you can actually walk on?

You’ve Got to Be Frick’n Kidding Me!

Well as an active small landowner conservationist, I can sell you carbon offsets (yes, I am serious).  Our little 45 acre pine forest was purchased in 1987. The forest sequesters about 270 metric tons of C02 per year.  This makes my family carbon negative meaning that we sequester more C02 than we emit.  Also, guests who stay at our guest house, La Casita, enjoy carbon neutral travel. Both of our homes and our lifestyle emits about 50 tons of C02 per year.  Guest travel averages about 40 tons per year.  This leaves us an excess of, very conservatively, 180 tons of C02 sequestration per year.  What do you get.  Fresh air and if your in Swansboro, a tour of our family forest.  You also get discounted rates on our vacation house!

Got C02 Offsets?

Got C02 Offsets?

Got C02 Offsets?

Use the calculators at Native Energy to calculate your offset.  Like Native Energy, we will charge you $14 per ton of C02 offset.

Individual 6 Ton C02 Offset $84

48 Ton Household C02 Offset $672

So calculate your C02 emissions and decide how you’ll offset. The Paypal buttons provide an option of selecting Individual (6 ton C02 Offset @ $84) or a Household Offset (48 ton C02 Offset @ $672).  If you would like to purchase another amount please contact me.  Once you make your purchase don’t forget to start planning your trip to Swansboro!

A C02 Offset with a Difference

The difference we offer is that you can come and visit your Carbon Offset. Starting in 2018 you’ll be able to walk on the woodland trails, observe wildlife and walk through a forest that ranges in age between 25 and 100 years in age.  It’s hard to do that when you send your money to some nameless faceless corporation planting trees in South America or Africa. Plus when you purchase at least 6 offsets (enough to make most individuals carbon neutral) you will get a 10% discount when they stay with us at La Casita or our soon to be available rustic camp cabin, La Paranza. Read our reviews.
So buy a C02 offset from a real life forest owner.  When you visit I promise not to call you a poopy head and I expect the same from you…after all, there are birds to watch, wildlife to watch, and fresh air to breathe; all with the trees silently and majestically looking on.
Special thanks to Dr. Booker T. Whatley.  I never met him but his little book, “How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres” has always been an inspiration and guide. (You’ll find the book on the shelf at La Casita.

A Legendary Civil War Hero and a Little Iron Ball


A Probable Civil War Cast Iron Canister Ball

Yesterday my Dad gave me some little treasures from his collecting over the decades. In the box were some arrow heads, pieces of spear points, some pieces of Indian pottery we collected at Jones Island in the White Oak River.  Then there was this one piece that he said I had found when I was a child…a small rusty iron ball.

Dad said I had found this old iron ball on the Tram Road when I was a little boy. The Tram road is the lumber railroad bed I’ve written about before that transects the property we now own.  I thought, well, could this be some sort of ball bearing…no it’s really rough and it appears to be cast iron which simply isn’t a good material for bearings.  Dad heard me mumbling.  He said it’s probably a Civil War canister ball.  I said wow.

Holding this little iron ball sparked my curiosity.  So, I measured the ball.  It’s about 1.5 inches in diameter.  Then I got to looking at tables and charts about cannons and ammunition from the Civil War era.  Bumbling along the Internet I learned that some 12 and 32 pound cannons shot a cannister round that contained cast iron balls the same size as the little iron ball on my desk.  Interesting.

Well, I knew that there had not been any great Civil War land battles right here in the Swansboro area…at least not any that I know about…but the Union had captured Swansboro in 1862, had burned the salt works and had destroyed the Confederate fort at Huggins Island.  I wondered if the ships that participated in the siege were armed  with 12 or 32 pound cannons?

So, meandering through the Internet maze looking for US Navy ship actions in Eastern NC

I stumbled across the account of the sinking of the CSS Albemarle in 1864.  The Albemarle was a Confederate Ironclad.  The sinking of this warship opened up the Roanoke to the Union Navy and pretty much secured the rivers and sounds all the way from the Virginia border to just outside Wilmington for the exclusive use of Union forces. The sinking of the Albemarle was a mission conceived, led and executed by W.B. Cushing. Cushing had flunked out of Annapolis and had begged and pleaded to be allowed to serve in the U.S. Navy in the Civil War.  Giving him his commission was fortunate.  The sinking of the Albemarle was a significant personal achievement as well as a strategic blow to the Confederacy in North Carolina.

W. B. Cushing

I had read that the ship Cushing commanded during his Albemarle mission had been armed with a 12 pound cannon.  Since he had personally outfitted this ship specifically for the mission maybe he had experience with the 12 pound cannons in other exploits. Had Cushing had ever participated in any Union actions around Swansboro? He had. Cushing had earned his bona fides right here in Swansboro on a ship equipped with a 12 and 32 pound cannon.


“The captured gunboat Ellis” (from The Long Roll)

The gunboat Ellis, to which Cushing was assigned and would eventually command, was assigned to blockade Bogue Inlet and Bogue Sound.  Gunboats like the USS Ellis were equipped with 12 and 32 pound cannons.   Here’s an excerpt from the book, Three Wisconsin Cushings, Wisconsin Historical Commission, 1910.
















“You see I have a sort of roving commission and can run around to suit myself.  If under these circumstances I can not stir the rebels up in more places than one, it will be strange indeed.”

I can imagine the young Lt at the helm of his gunboat ordering cannister fire in the direction of the homes and businesses.  Being ruthless but still a gentleman he probably didn’t want to intentionally hurt any women or children so he had his crew aim a high warning shot over the town and the little iron balls fell harmlessly in the outlying fields and forests.

A couple of decades or so later it was likely former slaves and their sons who dug the rail road bed for the Swansboro Land and Lumber company.  The little iron ball could have been in a wagon of fill dirt or could have flown a mile into the forest right when it was shot from the cannon…we’ll never know how it ended up on the railroad bed.  In any event the men unknowingly made this little asterisk in the fight for freedom part of the lumber railroad bed.  Then, about a hundred years after it had flown out of a cannon, a little boy playing along the abandoned railroad bed found the now rusty and pitted little iron ball and gave it to his Dad.  A little iron ball that may have been shot from the cannon on a gunboat commanded by an intrepid American hero.

Who knows if there is any truth to my story? Judge for yourself.  Whatever your opinion, I highly recommend reading about the exploits of Cdr W. B. Cushing. There are many books written about him and his exploits.  In one book he is called the “Civil War SEAL”. He was the real deal who fought and won just about a mile down the street in Swansboro.  The stories one little iron ball can tell…are simply amazing.

Water Gardens: Lure and Kill Mosquitoes!


Mosquito Anatomy – Mariana Ruiz Villarreal LadyofHats – Self made based on this websites between others: [1], [2], [3], [4].

Water gardens: Lure and kill mosquitoes? Huh? Yes, build a small water garden for mosquito control. Why not attract the little pest to a lovely little water garden that is also the home to hungry mosquito predators? Building a small water garden is a way to introduce a low or no cost natural mosquito killing ecosystem in a yard, on a patio or even on a balcony. Interested? Read on about creating a water garden to lure and kill mosquitoes by attracting dragonflies, damselflies and creating a home for mosquito fish.

First a little info about mosquitoes


CDC Map of the Range of the two mosquito species which carry the Zika virus.

Mosquitoes are a problem in many parts of the world.  Mosquitoes carry many diseases that are deadly and/or debilitating.  Certain mosquitoes can spread specific human diseases. In some areas of the world mosquitoes and the diseases they carry are such a problem that they significantly impact settlement or development. For example in the early 1900’s the Panama Canal project was nearly derailed because of mosquito borne diseases. During the early days of colonization and exploration places like the Panama and even Eastern NC, where I live, were slow to be colonized and developed because of mosquito borne diseases. The Zika virus is the most recent example of a mosquito borne disease. The CDC map shows the range of the two mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus.

We certainly don’t want to catch a mosquito borne disease. So how about enlisting the support of three new friends: the mosquito fish, dragonflies and damselflies.  Each of these creatures can be quickly introduced into your back yard with minimal effort and at a low cost. How? Construct a small water garden!

Next let’s get to know the Mosquito Killers (your water garden will be their home)

FIrst, The mosquito fish:


Mosquito Fish – Clinton & Charles Robertson from RAF Lakenheath, UK & San Marcos, TX, USA & UK

These hearty fish can survive in a wide range of temperatures from near freezing to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Additionally the fish can survive in low oxygen environments. The fish are a bit larger than guppies.  The large females eat up to 100 mosquito larvae a day. If you look in a ditch and see a small fish swimming there there is a good chance that it is a mosquito fish.  I have mosquito fish thriving in Dragonfly Pond behind La Casita.

Second, Dragonflies and damselflies:


Dragonfly – HaleYadthore, KRNagar, Mysore India, on 13 Oct 2007.


Damselfly – Mathias Krumbholz

There are many species of dragonflies around the world and they all love to eat insects. The dragonflies can eat the insects on the fly. That’s right, they catch a mosquito or gnat and dine on the little pest while flying.  An adult dragonfly is a vicious predator of mosquitoes, gnats, flies and almost any other flying insect it can catch. More diminutive but no less ruthless are the damselflies. These flying jewels are smaller than dragonflies and eat smaller insects like mosquitoes and gnats. However, unlike dragonflies, damselflies usually ambush their prey from a perch rather than catching and eating their prey on the fly.  So, if you were unfamiliar with dragonflies and damselflies, now when you see these creatures flying you’ll have a better appreciation of these the airborne and waterborne insect assassins. That’s right dragonfly and damselfly nymphs attack mosquito larvae in the water.   For more information, pictures and video I recommend reading 10 Surprisingly Brutal Facts About Dragonflies .

If you build a water garden they (dragonflies and damselflies) will come (the mosquito fish will need your help).

An article from the National Wildlife Federation, Attracting Aerial Acrobats to Your Yard A small pond, coupled with the right habitat conditions, will help you attract dragonflies and damselflies to your garden, provides a good primer for establishing a dragonfly pond.  If you live in an apartment, a condo or don’t want to dig a large pond you might be saying … oh,  just another idea I can’t use.  Don’t distress there are right sized solutions that can be adapted to your patio, balcony or yard!

Use Water Gardens to Kill Mosquitoes!

So, you have a condo in the city and you have a mosquito problem.  What can you do? Simple.  Build a micro environment for your mosquito predators…a pond in a pot.  Two of the predators will love the new habitat while one may just come to visit.

What you will need:

1 – A sunny spot on your porch, patio, balcony or yard.

2- A container that has sloping sides like a birdbath or even a child’s plastic pool.

3- Rainwater, well water or spring water that is chlorine free.

4- Water plants like iris, pickerel weed, water weed, water hyacinth etc.

5- Mosquito fish

Assembling water gardens

1- Find and place your container in the sunlit location. Be creative.  Use what you have. Here are some container ideas: an old cooler, a birdbath, an old bathtub, a small children’s plastic pool, a half barrel… even a milk jug with the top cut off could be your micro environment (the smaller the container the less likely it will be to attract dragonflies).

2- Place some structure like rocks or sticks in the container where mosquito fish the nymphs of the dragonflies and damsel flies can hide.

3- Fill the container with water.  If you are using chlorinated water wait about a week before moving to the next steps.

4- If your container has steep sides consider placing a stick or rock in the container to simulate a sloping edge.

5- Find some native aquatic plants. Plants that you see growing in ditches and ponds in your area are what you are looking for.  Plants like cattails (for larger containers), water lilies or even water hyacinth are good easy to find plants that grow in many locations. Plants that are native to your area may be more likely to attract local dragonflies and damselflies.

Need more ideas?


Water gardens come in all shapes and sizes

Just do an image search on Google.  I searched for “pond in a pot” Here’s a picture of my search results.  As you can see there are innumerable ideas out there to help you build your small water garden which will host three new friends…mosquito fish, dragonflies and damselflies.

Build a Small Water Garden

Build a Small Water Garden

Need even more instructions? Ok, read this nice detailed article from Deep Green Permaculture . Now go and build some small water gardens to construct your own beautiful and elegant solution for controlling mosquitoes.

I’ll be building some small water gardens like these for both La Casita and my home next door.  I already have one…for my Facgardenebook Fans that visit my page La Casita in Swansboro…it is the birdbath to which I added water hyacinth and mosquito fish. Presto…an elegant solution for mosquito control in minutes

A final note: Sanitize, Sanitize

Standing water in gutters, children’s toys, swimming pools, ditches, trash cans, old tires etc can harbor mosquitoes.  Look around your home to sanitize those potential mosquito breeding areas.  Read University of Florida publication Tips for Mosquito Control for more detail on the importance of sanitation in controlling mosquitoes. Sanitation is a top priority! Even a hollow tree can be a mosquito breeding ground. Do you have standing water around your air conditioner?  Just check your yard, neighborhood, gardens etc for anyplace that has stagnant standing water for long periods after a rainstorm.  If those places seem to have water in them for long periods of time consider introducing mosquito fish. Eliminate problem areas and provide small water gardens as described above.  Use your imagination to create your water gardens and let them grow.  Soon you’ll enjoy an environment around your home that is healthy, natural and nearly free from mosquitoes!


All the Best,

Jim Hamrick

Introducing New Plants to Dragonfly Pond


Beard the goat at Dragonfly Pond

If you’ve stayed at La Casita then you know about our little Dragonfly Pond.  The pond is in the pasture next to a seasonal creek.  Last year we began to get a red algae that covered the surface of the pond at times.  This is understandable since the pond is not aerated and does not have any plants with the exception of bull rushes on the bank.

The mosquito fish (gambusia affinis) aren’t bothered by this nor are the snapping turtles that live in the pond. The namesake dragonflies are plentiful too.  However the pond is not very appealing to look at so I wanted to make some helpful additions of plants.

The goal is to oxygenate the water, provide shade, provide more surface area for nitrifying bacteria, cover for dragonfly nympths and add of course replace the algae with something more appealing.  I also want to add some additional wild life and household food sources.

I’m fortunate to have my old friend Norman Wells down the street.  He has had a koi pond for decades and sells a wide array of pond plants.  Here is a list of plants that Norman was kind enough to donate.

The New Plant Addtions for Dragonfly Pond

Lotus – American or Asian? I don’t yet know.  Either way if the planting was successful it will be an interesting culinary adventure since the seeds and roots are edible.


Water Lily – I think these are native white water lily variety.  I look forward to trying some of the leaves in one of the dishes described in this Mother Earth News article – Wild Food Foraging: Pond Lily, Squirrel, Nettles and More

Water Weed – A water oxygenating plant that provides cover for pond creatures.



Marsh Iris – With luck this plant will supply a spot of cover on the margins of my little pond.



Elephant Ear (Black Magic) – If it grows well I may introduce some more edible malanga or taro plantings.



Pickerel Weed – This native pond plant is an important food source for many animals.



windmillHopefully in a couple of weeks the Lotus and Lilies will have begun to populate the surface of the pond. I am still considering an aerator.  This aerator currently has my attention.  Maybe next year.



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Travel Destination Suggestions!


Martinn Provides Links to many different travel destinations!

Martinn Provides Links to many different travel destinations!

I’m sharing a link to a website designed and maintained by my online friend Martinn from Paris, France.  Martinn has been associated with operatting and owning Bed and Breakfast homes for many years.  She has collected from online friends a group of destinations from around the world that you might want to consider as you plan trips for business or leisure.  Martinn is very selective about the accommodations she lists on her site.


If you like to travel…anywhere from the US to South Africa please take a look at her site at .  At her site you will find something for every taste…from humble self catered cottages like our La Casita in Swansboro to luxurious Bed and Breakfasts in large cities.

Of course if you’re destination is Paris I recommend contacting Martinn…she is an expert on the city and provides a wonderful place to stay!  The pictures below are of Martinn’s B&B.

In the heart of Paris, in the Halles district, Montorgueil, Place des Victoires.

In the heart of Paris, in the Halles district, Montorgueil, Place des Victoires.

Winter Fun at Redbay Farm…Trail building, Wildlife Habitat Improvement and Timber Stand Improvement


Me sitting on a pile of mushroom logs.

Winter is a wonderful time of year here at Redbay Farm and La Casita.  The weather is cool and the forest is dormant.  It is a great time for trail building, brush pile construction and timber stand improvement.

Trail building: I am planning to open my trails to guests who stay at La Casita this time next year (2017).  The trails will be open for bird watching and nature observation.  There are over two miles of trails that crisscross our roughly 40 acres of forest

A trail at Redbay Farm

A trail at Redbay Farm

  • Some of the trails are over 20 years old. Some are brand new. The trails are about 6 foot wide which allows easy single file walking without being in the brush. Trails mitigate but do not eliminate the need to take precautions for chiggers and ticks.
  • The terrain is relatively flat and the trails will allow visitors to experience various habitats to include high pocosinloblolly pine forestpine hardwood forest, succession forest and even a couple of acres of near climax forest (90 to 100 years

    A flower from a mature tulip poplar

    old). Due to the wet nature of some parts of our forest rubber boots are required especially during the winter months.

  • If you want to learn more about the various stages of forest succession I recommend this article on forest succession from .

Brush piles: Brush piles are a byproduct of trail maintenance and timber stand improvement. Actually, a brush pile is a type of wildlife habitat you can build in your own backyard even in a suburban environment.   Learn how to build your own wildlife habitat brush pile by reading this article from the Humane Society of the US and watch the accompanying video. 

  • Simply crisscross your larger pieces of trimmings from pruning and keep adding layers until you have a pile that is a few feet in diameter and two or three feet tall.
  • A brush pile will create small shelter habitat which will attract sparrows, amphibians, box turtles and small mammals like rabbits and chipmunks. Build your brush pile away from your home but within view so that you can observe the attracted wildlife.
Timber stand improvement: Developing marketable wood products requires management. Timber stand improvement (TSI).  


After Timber Stand Improvement (TSI)

  • Before

    Before TSI

    TSI is a multi generational project.  The results of my efforts may not be realized until my grand children are my age.

  • TSI involves removal of diseased/malformed trees and thinning of trees to encourage the growth remaining trees.
  • The primary TSI focus at Redbay Farm is loblolly pine production.
  • Some byproducts of TSI are firewood, charcoal, mushroom


    logs, poles and small saw logs.

That’s it in a nutshell on trail building, building brush piles and timber stand improvement. Winter is a great time to create habitat, explore forests and make forest improvements.  I hope you have as much fun exploring your local forests and improving wildlife habitat as I do!