Talking homesteading with sustainable design professor Joe Trumpey, learning about the business of curly hair with Original Moxie’s Rachel Blistein, and a fireside sing-along with the Yellow Rail Family …on episode 29 of the Saturday Six Pack


Come and get it…. Episode 29 of the Saturday Six Pack is now ready for consumption. The sound is a bit off for the first 20 minutes or so, thanks to a bit of malicious engineering by a disgruntled member of the Yellow Rail Family collective, but, if you like reverb, it’s actually kind of nice. It just sounds like my first guest and I are discussing homesteading from inside a crude, homemade submarine. [Speaking of submarines, it just so happens that I’m listening to Chan Marshall’s cover of Bill Callahan’s Bathysphere right now, and it’s just as beautiful today as it was 15 years ago.]

Our first guest was University of Michigan Associate Professor Joseph Trumpey, a scientific illustrator by trade, who was recently named a 2015 Homesteader of the Year by Mother Earth News magazine. Among other things, we discussed the 2,200-square-foot straw bale home near Grass Lake that he built with his family, how annoying it is to be told by people constantly that they intend to come live with him when the zombie apocalypse comes to pass, and the slow and steady progress his family has made over the past 20 years toward achieving self-sufficientcy. [They’re now completely off the electric grid, and produce more than 50% of all the food they consume.]

Here’s a photo of Trumpey taken just before our interview, taken by Ypsi photographer Chris Stranad as part of our Six Pack Portrait Project. [All other photos in this post were taken by AM 1700 staff historian Kate de Fuccio.]

Joe Trumpey

Trumpey and I discussed the path that he and his wife have been on for the past 20 years, how they got started with their first sheep, where they intend to go next (dairy cattle and slaughtering their own large animals), the book they’d like to write, and how they hope their experience might influence others to make small changes in their own lives. [He urged everyone listening to, at the very least, plant one tomato plant.] We talked about the influence of Laura Ingalls Wilder, his WWPID (What Would Pa Ingalls Do) mantra, and what it’s like raising modern teens off the grid. And we talked about the pervasive culture of disposability that he’s in part rebelling against. There’s less waste, Trumpey says, when you know what went into making something. Handmade sweaters aren’t made to fall apart, and they aren’t cast away after a season, as fashions change. And this, he says, is something that he tries to impart to his sustainable design students at U-M, in hopes that they might go on to create things of value that don’t just end up in the landfill. [Trumpey says he’s encouraged by the recent popularity of the local food movement, and hopes that it will carry over to other sectors as well.]


It’s not that difficult to live off-grid, Trumpey says. Of course that may change if they decide to bring diary cattle onto their farm, as they would require early morning milking. For now, though, it’s not terribly taxing, he says. The things they’ve added, they’ve added slowly over decades, he says, and they have systems in place to make things as easy as possible for them. The big problem, as we discuss, isn’t so much the work involved, though, but the scalability… the fact that this isn’t something that everyone can do, given the space required, etc.

[If you would like to listen to episode twenty-nine of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

While there was a lot to like about this episode, I think the most memorable part for me was toward the end, when, inspired by the poster for this week’s episode, I channelled David Patrick Kelly in The Warriors, and started calling to people outside the studio, “Warriors come out and play-aaaay.” Judging from these photos, which AM 1700 creative director Kate de Fuccio just posted to Facebook, I came pretty close.


[I think, if I didn’t still have a cold, I could have done a better of job clinking the bottles together. As it was, though, I barely had the strength to keep all three up at the same time.]

We also had Ypsi entrepreneur Rachel Blistein, the founder of the natural hair care products company Original Moxie, on the show. Blistein and I, after talking about our daughters, who are friends, discussed her path toward entrepreneurship, which started with the realization that hair care companies didn’t really care about the curly-haired. We also discussed the challenges and rewards of starting and growing a business in Ypsilanti, and the potential for other small manufacturing companies to do well here. [Speaking of Original Moxie’s growth, as we discussed, their products are now available into several Spehora stores, and on the Sephora website.] Here’s Blistein telling us about the mentors she’s had along the way, and the new startups that she’s now helping to get off the ground.


And, at some point, two members of the Yellow Rail Family, Ryan and Casey Dawson, came in to talk about camping, office romance, lake sex, and a bunch of other stuff… And, of course, they played some really beautiful music too. Here they are, singing along with the recorded sounds of crickets, owls and howling dogs.



Oh, and at some point in the show, we listened to a new song by our friend in Kenya, Dr. Pete Lason, and got into a spirited discussion on the “hostile takeover” of the Ypsilanti Visitors and Convention Bureau. [“Hostile takeover,” are the words of Ypsi City Council Member Brian Robb, who joined me in the discussion.]

Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Kate de Fuccio for documenting everything, and Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper stays stocked.

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand.

One last thing… I should add that, when things sound weird, as they did at the start of this episode, you shouldn’t hesitate to call in and let us know. A few people have talked with me since the episode was broadcast last Saturday night, saying that they knew something was wrong, but that they didn’t call because they didn’t want to interrupt. I guess that’s a good thing, as it would get kind of annoying if people called all the time, telling my guests to get closer to their mics, urging me to be more expressive, etc. But, if you happen to be listening live, and if it sounds like something might be wrong, it’s OK if you call in and let us know. In fact, we’d appreciate it.

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  1. Peter Larson
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    People listening to the show experience complicated feelings at the varietous guests.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I wish you’d talked more about Mosquito Coast.

  3. Eel
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    He keeps talking about BLTs and it’s making me hungry.

  4. Kim
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    If I’m not mistaken, David Patrick Kelly is originally from Michigan. You should ask him on the show and ask if he’s going to do the new Twin Peaks.

  5. 33.3
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Who was the Twin Peaks actress that Casey was talking about at the end of the show? Did you ever find out?

  6. 734
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Kelly is from Detroit.

    According to IMDB: “Compact, feisty and slightly crazy-looking character actor David Patrick Kelly was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Margaret Elizabeth (Murphy) and Robert Corby Kelly, Sr., an accountant. He burst onto the acting scene in 1979, playing the homicidal but cowardly leader of the leather-clad gang “The Rogues” in Walter Hill’s controversial New York City gang film The Warriors (1979). Kelly’s tight-lipped expressions and attitude that made him appear like a grenade with the pin pulled, got him plenty of roles playing defiant young men, often in trouble with authority. He locked horns with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in Walter Hill’s fast-paced 48 Hrs. (1982), was dropped over a cliff by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the violent Commando (1985), was a member of a trio of killers after Harry Dean Stanton in David Lynch’s’ Wild at Heart (1990), and again played a hood in the ill-fated The Crow (1994). It’s a pity Hollywood hasn’t utilised Kelly in more versatile roles, as he is a wonderfully captivating character actor. Arguably, best known for his performance and unsettling screeching cries of “Warriors, come out to plaaayyy”, from his debut on-screen role!”

  7. Meta
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    If you believe IMDB, Kelly also came up with “Warriors come out and play” himself.

    The famous “Warriors come out to play” scene was improvised by him in collaboration with Walter Hill who told him to just “come up with something” when he felt the scripted scene wasn’t working. He then gathered up some empty beer bottles he found under the board walk and created the taunting dialogue based on a neighbor who used to intimidate him.

    Read more:

  8. Brian Bruxvoort
    Posted October 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Toadies, come out and play-ay! Sycophants come out and play!

  9. Casey
    Posted October 8, 2015 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    It was Caroline, Windom Earle’s dead wife.

  10. Britain Woodman
    Posted October 9, 2015 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Which gang do you think actually drinks good beer bottles like you used, Mark? Obviously the Riffs, but I feel like the Orphans might save some of their uniform budget to buy the good stuff sometimes. The furies are straight up Nat Lite.

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  1. […] weekend the specter of Pa Ingalls loomed large over the Saturday Six Pack. Grass Lake homesteader Joe Trumpey and I talked about his fiddle playing in the Big Woods, his relia…. [Trumpey said he would often ask himself, when building his own straw bale house, […]

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