News Flash

News Flash
Click the logo to learn more.
11/30/2008 09:30:00 PM

I decided to put the globe tracker up because I was curious as to who was coming to the site and I was pleasantly surprised to find I've got repeat readers!  Thanks for coming to my blog and reading my ramblings!  Stick with me because once we've moved and we're settled down I'll start getting pictures posted of my projects.

Moving on!

I was surfing around and found this really awesome and easy pattern for a reusable Swiffer mop pad.  I just adore stuff like this!  And then another one.  So I started hunting and found one made from fleece.

I found one where a lady put a ankle sock on hers, too.

11/30/2008 05:19:00 PM

Winter Gardening

This is not something that is limited to the boxes in the backyard with cold frames and hoop houses. I've rambled about this before. Hydroponic, aeroponic and bubbleponic systems in a warm room will keep producing those tomatoes and depending on the space that can be given to such a project a host of other foods that you just don't want to be without. But it isn't even a system of water it can just be a flower pot growing root crops with a grow light.

Considering I have a family of four, an inside winter garden is a good idea not only because it will cut down on the food bill, but because it will also keep down on cabin fever. We have something to keep us busy during a period of rest for the earth outside.

We have our fresh herbs in the kitchen window. If it is one thing my children know better than anything is the difference between all the herbs in the window. They do most of the picking for me when I'm cooking and they make sure to give them a good rinse before we start cooking them, too. We're actually not doing it this year because we're moving in 6 months and my son was horrified when I told him we weren't going to plant more basil.

Another one on our list of food to grow indoors would be potatoes because we love our potatoes and a good tall slender bin or flower pot for potatoes can be easily grown in a window seal or with grow lights in soil not even necessarily getting into the water systems. It's easy because potatoes don't have to have temps above 75 to grow. Most prefer 60 to 65 which is easily attained in the home. Flo tubes could help with lighting if a window isn't getting enough sun and those are cheap, cheap, cheap.

Drop some soil and then a seed potato or two in the bin and cover with soil to the top. The potato plant will seek out the light (if you remember your science experiments from the 8th grade you'll remember the potato in a maze finding its way to the light). I've seen some seriously complicated potato bins, mostly for outside growth, but I've not seen anyone do just a tall slender planter of them in the house before but for once and I swear I thought that the woman who did it must have been in my head. She keeps hers on her deck and hers worked just fine and so have mine inside. You get a mess of potatoes that last about a week or so and then you can start again. Get two or three of those alternating and you've got yourself potatoes all year round with better flavor and without chemicals.

Little pots of lettuce or an entire hydroponic system. Patti Moreno definitely has the right idea, she has a fish tank fertilizing and watering her lettuce which is growing in bins of perlite under flo tubes. An easy and inexpensive set up.

Strawberries are a favorite, especially since the little hydroponic systems came out and a variety of strawberries fit for the little system. Grow some on the counter in the kitchen with one of those like this guy, who has set up his hallways to grow lettuce and strawberries.

There are plenty of dwarf varieties out there that can withstand a good cold snap, but for those that don't, they can become the plants that get brought in for the winter. Banana is getting hugely popular for growing indoors and others as well. A lot of these can be bought mail order depending on where you live.

There are just a ton of things you can grow indoors. Late winter and spring aren't the only times of the year that food can be sprouted and grown. With enough time, space, and patience our old favorites can be grown indoors within reason.

A couple of places and products of interest:

Universal Garden - this is a really cool system consisting of large covered buckets for the reservoirs and adjustable amount of pots to use for the system starting with 4.

Specials for all sorts of great equipment.

LED Grow lights.

11/28/2008 05:42:00 PM

Ease the Water Consumption

Water absorbing crystals.  A biodegradable cornstarch crystal that is tiny spec when dry and the size of a dime when wet.  These things absorb water when it is plentiful and give it back to soil.  Good for container gardening and water hog plants that you want to plant in a little water environment or an area with water restrictions.  You can find these little gems at your local garden center and if not there, amazon sells 'em.

11/28/2008 03:40:00 PM

Ya know...

Now that the holidays are over we're back to planning for our up coming move to the PNW.  I'm very excited that we've going to be moving back up there and look forward to beginning to live a more simple life.  We've been looking into work from home projects, including work from home tech support so that we have more time for our children and more time for the work on the property.  I'm very excited about this prospect, it will mean a pay cut, but there will be less money going out with this: no parking, no huge gas bill and certainly no monthly business wardrobe updates, among other things.

I never realized it before, but moving is a huge hassle when you have a house full of stuff.  And we definitely a house full of stuff, specifically the kitchen.  We're a family that spends 80% of the time together in the kitchen cooking, baking, canning, eating.  And everyone contributes, my five year old made the stuffing for our Thanksgiving and did a pretty good job at it.  Because I don't like stuffing in anything larger than a quail for obvious health hazard reasons, it was easy for him.  But because we are a family that spends a ton of time in the kitchen, we have accumulated sooo many giggits and gizmos and gadgets that we scarcely have enough room for most of them.  And I am proud to say that not one of them is a uni-tasker.  But all of that stuff has to be packed!  Thankfully, we've slowed down on the freezer foods and one of two of our freezers is already lined with cardboard waiting for the contribution of kitchen supplies we'll be packing into it.  We've got one more freezer to empty before the kids are out of school in May so we're trying to keep it at a minimum so that we're not going to end up with a ruined mess when we pull into Portland for our short stay there and then on to Vancouver.

This move has renewed my want for easier things such as the tankless water heater, an aeroponic's system, and of course my obsession with dwarf varieties of fruit trees.  But while it has renewed that want, it has also kicked into gear the other things that we want to do.  Solar panels and wind energy to help get the green incentives that the government has offered and will continue to offer to help ween us off petroleum products and big energy consumption.

I'm taken back to a time when I was a kid when the most we picked up from the grocery store was a gallon of milk, a couple of loaves of "light bread", some cans of spaghetti and some top ramen (we loved ramen when I was growing up, it meant we didn't have to cook a huge meal).  Instead of tins with printed labels, it was jars with hand written ones in the cupboard.  Two large freezers were out in the shed, one for wild game we hunted, and the other was for slaughtered farm critters.  

We were a community of people trading and sharing and helping each other with the trials of failed crops, diseased farm animals, and older folks that couldn't do what they once did.  I was talking with my father last night and he was going hunting today with a couple of friends specifically to surprise someone with a deer kill because the man couldn't go hunting himself, even though my father has already killed two bucks this year and traded a side of one of them for a hog from a local farmer.  And when my father got out of his last surgery a couple of years ago and couldn't go hunting, this man brought him fresh deer and hog kills that were already wrapped and frozen.  He also said that he'd gotten a visit from a couple of others that came by only to grab a jar of jelly and he said he probably wouldn't see them again until they ran out or they brought by some fresh something-or-nother from their own garden.

There is a huge difference in that life from the one I lead now.  I'm still a hunter and a farmer but I'm very used to my city conveniences.  I like my 24 hour grocery stores and pharmacies.  And I also like the short amount of time to get from place to place.  Living where my father is it is a 40 minute drive to Wal-Mart that closes at 10PM.  Newp, I don't want to go back to that, I'm too spoiled.

But what I do want is a place that is out of the way with an couple of acres that we can develop for our chickens, quails and rabbits with our greenhouse and our raised beds and our mini orchard.  We're looking forward to being off grid and being one more person that causes less stress on the system that we currently have and maybe we can help to convience a few people along the way to join us.  And we're looking forward to going to the farmers market with our fresh foods and giving away the stuff we don't sell to a local emergency service for folks that can't afford to feed their families.  We're not trying to change the world here, but we certainly trying to get the movement started with the helps of thousands of others like us.

Thanksgiving has brought a lot of this out.  Our children want to know what the game plan is and we've got one.  They are just as excited about this move as I am and they want to get out there and get their hands dirty.  They want to experience these things and we want them to have these experiences so that they have a better understanding of dependance and independance.

Right now, I don't have pictures of my garden to post and I know that makes a huge difference for a blog (considering no one reads this regularly).  But once we're working on our little farm and the trials that we face and the failures and successes we have, everyone that we're going to miss on the east coast will be able to watch us grow.

11/27/2008 12:28:00 AM

11/25/2008 12:17:00 AM

Random Thoughts

I've been reading so much lately.  My goal is close at hand.  In the spring, we'll be making our trek to the PNW.  After we're there and we get the house unpacked and straightened out, well, even before then, we've already discussed how we're going to get started.  The first thing that happens is a compost bin.  I've talked about composting before and the stuff that you can use to compost.  I didn't touch on cold or hot composting but that will come later.

Raised beds, my husband's strawberry patch will definitely go up post haste.  We're planning on growing reds and yellows.  Raspberries, too.  My personal favorites are blueberries and we're going to have a few bushes growing.  All of this in hopes that we'll have strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from the beginning to the end of the season with plenty to eat fresh and plenty to can.  I'm excited about a trellis of grapes and kiwis.  We can eat kiwi for snacks for days and days.

I have some small things going right now.  After the rabbits got in and ate everything, I put out some garlic when it got cooler.  I don't know if I caught it before it went to seed or not, I hope I did, if not I'm going to have some tiny heads of garlic come next year.  I'm still stunned at the fact that they ate it all while my dogs were out there.  Those are some fairly brave critters.

I guess I'm just sitting back enjoying everyone's success at growing their gardens and I'm just dying to get to a point where I can get my big one going instead of having such a small one now.  Not that my landlord didn't advocate us getting out there and gardening, but on the scale that he plants, we needed a tractor to till it all and we didn't have one and by the time the old man got around to getting his out there, the growing season was over.  Then he past away.

I am very much looking forward to getting back to the west coast.  So many strange things have been happening of late, like our land lord's passing, it just seems after being away from home (I say that and I'm not from there) and wanting so much to get back for these past few years that we finally decided to .. well just go back.  It seems like the right time.  And we both have wanted so much to go back to Portland.  

So the plan is get there, get a house, and then get the garden going.  Once we've taken that step, we'll get the chickens and the quail, then go for the rabbits.  And hopefully in the future, bees.  

I know it won't happen over night and we'll take it one project at a time starting with a composting bin.  =)

11/25/2008 12:14:00 AM

Winter Project: Water Barrels

With so much to do during the main growing season in the garden, build a rain barrel this winter. 

Here is a link with complete instructions with photo's:

11/18/2008 11:32:00 PM

Winter Sown

Make sure to check out Winter Sown. This site helps in how to sow seeds during the winter time. A very informative site AND they also will send free seeds for the price of the stamps on the SASE.

11/12/2008 09:31:00 PM

Yep I'm a Slacker

I have been hiding in my oven here lately. I've produced what seems to be a pumpkin pie or two per day. Not only this but, I am ashamed to say, I have been neglecting my own blog in favor of posting at Patti Moreno's site. So much in fact that she has asked me to contribute to her E-zine!

I get this email and I'm speechless for like five minutes. My husband finally comes over and closes my mouth for me and asks me whats up. I explain and he looks blankly at me (he is sooo not a dirt farmer) and congrats me out of complete auto-response and then wanders off to do his own thing while I'm sitting there stunned.

Image that. Me who has been gardening and canning since I was a little one contributing to Patti Moreno's E-zine? Me!

Needless to say, I've been glowing for the past couple of days.

On a really cool note, I've been working on getting my seed empire going and making out a list of needful things for after we get a place in Washington state. Our list is rather big so we're going to take it one step at a time.

We want bees. Even though my husband is allergic we still want bees. We like mead and such way too much not to have bees. We cook with honey constantly and I like it in my tea and having honey fresh from the hive sounds worth the risk to us.

Not only do we want bees, but we want chickens and quail. Which I have experience raising, keeping and incubating both so that isn't hard. I have the plans for the chicken tractor I want to be able to move from bed to bed so that we can have a nice fertilized soil.

We want rabbits. Fried rabbit is a good thing. Stewed rabbit is a good thing. I can make both. ;) I'd probably get a visit out of my father who lives 14 hours away if he knew I was making it on any given day. Rabbits are very easy to raise and we're looking forward to having some. I have vague memories of raising rabbits as a child. I can't remember why we stopped raising them, but we did. Sounds like a good reason to call Dad!

Aside from the critters we'll have a cat, two dogs. We also have two kids for cheap slave labor to tend the garden beds and grow the stuff they don't wanna eat. ;)

I've been nuts for dwarf fruit trees and I've also been checking into small nut bearing bushes and trees. The smallest one is a hazelnut bush. Everything else grows on these huge stately trees. Ok, so we'll need another acre.

Aside from this huge garden plan we've got plans for solar panels, rain barrels, a water cistern if we can swing it and a green house and a winter garden area.

Our plans are definitely not small but we're looking forward to it. My husband swears that we'll have a cow... but I don't believe him. I didn't like milking them when I was a kid, I certainly won't be up for it now.

Sooo many plans.

11/05/2008 01:11:00 AM

Elegance with Impact

I talk a lot about the various invasions we've experienced this year. Flies and such that have crept up on us. However, something I haven't talked a lot about is how densely populated my back yard is with butterflies. Now, not to knock the noble bee here, butterflies have their place in the pollinator's world. And little attention has been paid toward them until recently. There is a commercial on TV now that sends you the caterpillars with food, then they cocoon then they emerge and you release them after so long.

As wonderful as this may be as an experiment for children, it is also a vital part of reintroducing the butterflies into the world to help with the passing around some pollen. Bees are in trouble, and that trouble may not pass for some time. Butterflies will help reduce that strain.

I found a website (as if you could ever doubt!)

Social Butterflies is a site that will send them to you to introduce. They also add flare. You can release them at your wedding or a birthday party or some special event. They offer packaging for this.

Elegance with impact.

11/02/2008 02:35:00 PM

I'm being stalked by lady bugs

Ok, picture this. Stepping out onto my deck this morning I was greeted by a rather interesting sight.

A sea of lady bugs.

And I mean a sea of lady bugs. They were everywhere. On the deck cover, the deck, falling between the cracks. Dive bombing both dogs. Actually giving one of the dogs a near aneurysm when one landed on his nose.

Sooo, I whipped out my camera.

And at first, I think I blinded them. They all calmed for a moment when the first flash went off.

But that didn't last long.

They ran from me when I tried to snap off some shots.

In the end after I'd picked two out of my hair and blew one off my nose, we retreated inside to watch from afar.

At this moment, my youngest child has squealed exactly 20 times in the last 15 seconds from all the near misses and sure hits.

This isn't the first time this has happened to us either. At our last house we had this same thing happen like 4 or 5 years ago. It was much colder that November and they were coming in the house instead of just hanging out that year.

Our neighbors aren't experiencing this. They didn't before at the other house and they aren't now.

I'm being stalked by lady bugs!

11/02/2008 09:59:00 AM

Autumn Beauty

Last year the leaves went from green to brown over night. This year, however, we've had the right combo of crisp nights and warm days to bring out the color:

I'm Green Inside!

I'm Green Inside!
How green are you?

The Growing Challenge

The Growing Challenge
Just one more...

Fred's Fine Fowl

Fred's Fine Fowl
All things poultry