Thursday, July 31, 2008

A couple of good magazine reads

Just a quick post before I head out to the garden.

I subscribe to two magazines (well one was a gift I love): Cooking Light and Mother Earth News. I keep back issues of both and in the case of Cooking Light, I save a year or so and then go back some time in the winter and cut out the recipes and things I've really liked.

Cooking Light has an article on Pickling and another called "Farm in the City" concerning Chicago's Green City Market.

Mother Earth News always has the most awesome things right when I need it, such as a Beginner's guide to Drying Food, Organic Pest Control, and Solar Energy, and a letter from the editor on the Art of Homesteading. "We define homestead s any home that provides an example of sustainability and beauty." (p. 6)

Many of us are so busy with our gardens to maybe not otherwise notice the magazines, but these are two greats this month. They might just be worth a trip to the library (or an online visit to their websites) if you are not a subscriber.

Do you take monthly magazines? Which ones? How do you use/reuse them?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Word from a harvest Book

On Drying Food "There is now a strong trend among gardeners to think dry, just as farmers have been doing for thousands of years, and as many gardeners still do in countries where each person is directly responsible for producing at least some of his own food. The reason is that more Americans are thinking about gardening as a way to produce food that will be used all year long. Pressed by rising food prices, international uncertainties, and worries about power shortages, they are looking more to a small plot of land as a means to supply food for the family table all year long."*

This sounds a whole lot like modern sentament but this book is actually the *"Organic Gardening Harvest Book", by the editors of organic gardening and farming, Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA 1975. Fourteenth Printing 1984.

There is a lot of talk about total economic collapse these days. These are tough conversations that frankly scare me a bit - and make it so that we are preparing to make do because I think that the climate and economic situation is dire enough that tough times are on their way.

But I also think it is always healthy to have a ballast to this thinking. For me that balance is that every decade (yes even the 1980's) has had this kind of thinking going on. Every generation and envisioned their generation as being the last - whether from religious apocalypse or a man-made one.

I have to take the attitude that I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I think that the most responsible way to live is to not be utterly dependant on a system of grocery stores, and economic systems. It think stewardship of God's earth (not the human's earth) means we have to reduce our wasteful and trash-producing ways and to try and leave something for generations to come.

So even if TEOTWAWKI doesn't arrive, hopefully other generations will - and that there will be someting left for them.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Independence Days #11

The harvest is just beginning here and I suspect it will be can your buns off through September now.

1. Plant Something: Nope

2. Harvest Something: The neighbors were letting their raspberries die on the bush so I couldn't stand it any longer and picked one and half cups which I made into 1/2 pt. of Mr. Greenjeans favorite jam.

Harvested several pounds pickling cucumbers (and dill and peppers) and made 14 1/2 pts of spicy dill pickles. Took two jars to land owners. This recipe called for sugar which I reluctantly put in thinking it must be required for the preserving but I don't like the flavor (yes, I have that extra jar that didn't go in the water bath that I'm tasting out of). There is another batch of cukes on now so I'll try a different recipe.

Today Mrs. Neighbor is coming over and we are going to pickled peppers. We don't know exactly what we have - not for lack of labeling - but because her two year old went along and "collected" all the tags we'd put in the ground. We'll pickle the long skinny yellow ones, then lay a fire in the Weber and roast and freeze the ones that look hotter. The tomatoes are all green so this will preserve the peppers (with wonderful flavor) until the tomatoes are ready.

Mrs. Neighbor got our first Zucchini - she'd been hungry for that Zucchini. The slicing cucumbers are just about upon us with a vengeance.

The tops of our apricot tree (too tall to reach) are getting ripe and falling to the ground and so am harvesting ground apricots for the chickens (trying to keep ahead of the Spaniel whom I don't want to get them). Harvested grasshoppers from the garden for chicken feed.

3. Preserve Something: Um, see above narrative.

4. Prep/Manage: Went to yard sales and found two matching infant car seats and an umbrella stroller for Mrs. Neighbor (who is 8 mos. pregnant) and gave them to her - I knew that's something she needed. She was thrilled - I guess the car seats were the expensive kind, and they were as clean as new.

Searched and searched for fabric covering for the seats in the trailer but ended up buying the cheapest heavy fabric Walmart offered (canvas). Wow, I noticed price increases there. Yes, I hate going to Walmart but we are in the middle of no where with a walmart and a Lowes.

Accepted an old wall cabinet a neighbor was throwing away. He kind of didn't get it that I wanted to lay it on it's back and plant strawberries in it.

Examined apple trees, peach and plum trees and found a pear tree in the Garden's yard.

Did the chore of taking homemade Beef Stew, Chicken soup, Chicken broth, Frozen party yum yums... out of the garage freezer, thawed them (to get them out of the ball jars) and thew them away. It was a very hard experience but I know that that freezer thawed for an unknown time (repeatedly) and that none of that food could be trusted. Next week I'll clean it.

5. Cook something new: Nope just getting by in the heat.

6. Work on local food systems: The first farmer's market was on with only one small vendor. The produce just isn't ready here, and they were having trouble getting vendors who produced in sellable amounts. The dog park group was there, and people were taking orders for peaches and some folks were playing music... hopefully it will do better through the year.

7. Learn Something new: I really learn a great deal from the food storage group. I have everything to learn about lacto fermentation, but I'm going to try some of those cucumbers lactofermented.

From Sharon's site, I began to think of my garage as cold storage. I had been thinking cellaring, but really, we went a winter without a 'fridge a couple of years ago and just kept our food in the garage.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Independence Days #10

Back on track and ready to post:

1. Plant Something: Scattered Rob's balls. No, No, his seeds - the flower seed balls from his give-away. (Sheesh, only Rob could make it this difficult to do something so innocent ;-)

2. Harvest Something: Well the first of the garden foods are coming on. We've had a couple of cucumbers enough green beans to feed the rabbit, and the first peppers. I picked a couple of gallons of cherries (froze them). I've harvested wild alfalfa to feed the chickens and rabbit, and gathered grasshoppers in the field by the garden and fed them to the chickens.

3. Preserve Something: Frozen cherries, moved dried mint to bag for tea, hung more mint to dry. Pickled the single cucumber like my Grandmother used to with oil and vinegar and onions - then ate it!

4. Prep Something/ Manage things: The chicks are big enough that they should start going outside. Mr. Greenjeans and the girls are out fixing a chicken wire roof to the run. We have pigeons and hawks here. The Hawks will go for the smaller birds I think but the pigeons will bring disease.

Purchased an outdoor camp type stove but made of case iron so that I can do canning and can cook without electricity (still runs on propane). We have so missed cooking on cast iron that I imagine we'll be doing a bit more cooking out doors in the heat.

Purchased the next door camper trailer for $500 (small 1974 model). Have been fixing it up - painting, sealing, made curtains.... This is where I slipped up and went to IKEA for some fun stuff that looks cute. This is one big bug-out box or an extra space to put someone who comes to us, or is a space to go camping and berry collecting, fishing, hunting (OK we don't hunt but there may be a time). Maybe I'm just justifying a purchase. I'm having fun painting it blue and white and making covers and curtains and pillows for the bed...

Cleaned the chicken coop.

My first cycle using Diva cup. By the end of the day I'm sold - 'nuf said.

5. Cook Something new: My parents brought a fine ham bone from a party they hosted. It still had some slices for sandwiches and my dad said he wanted white bean and ham soup. My mom was mystified because this was not part of their diet in the last 55+ years. I bought white beans, made soup from this and that and by golly if it wasn't the best tasting soup we've ever eaten. Mr. Greenjeans asked if I were storing white beans.

6. Work on Local Food systems: Getting ready for our town's first farmer's market beginning at the end of July. Might take a few years to get up an running. Too bad there aren't more foods coming ripe. Not to many vendors yet.

Our neighborhood garden in growing. It is the opposite of a permaculture garden but it is the way the fellow who owns the ground has always done it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Forgive me for I have sinned

I have not been able to post with a clear conscience lately. I have written, but not posted because to post on my convictions and accomplishments while having failed so badly seems so fraudulent.

I keep having a conversation with myself that says that others too must stumble and fall - that all the folks working hard to live sustainable, simple lives must surely make some bad judgments. And I remind myself that I forgive others; and in doing so, I only ask of others that when they fall into sin (sin being a loaded word but here meaning recognizing ones action as against God, people, and deeply held beliefs of what is "right" in the world)that they make amends as best as possible and then turn anew in the direction they should be going and continue on. The word origin of the word "repent" means to turn around. It is therefore in my spiritual and religious tradition to confess and seek forgiveness or otherwise remain stuck in mire. Here, stuck in mire means not blogging because I'm not able to get over my errors.

Forgive me for I have sinned:

I have argued with my husband and been angry with my mother and out of my anger caused my youngest to cry. (What really sucks is that I lost the argument). In attempting to stick to my guns on my ideals I have been brittle. Specifically, family wants a summer vacation to San Francisco - it will cost everything we have saved and about twice that and we are still going. We have a big blow up when my parents were here and they took the other side and I lost the battle. I'm still mad and I'm going on vacation. Go figure.

In my bull headedness I purchased a small 1974 camp trailer (thinking local vacation and a traveling retreat or something to tow for bug-out). I have spent money at IKEA outfitting said trailer rather than finding things at yard sales and thrift stores.

I used Sevin on the squash bugs.

In my attempts at voluntary simplicity and making from scratch I have succumbed to despair, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. I have sulked.

I have not been faithful in prayer.

I and am heartily sorry for these my misdoings, the remembrance of them is grievous, the burden weighs heavily. I earnestly intend to turn anew, to live a life of simplicity and sustainability, to be frugal to hold to my beliefs to live in grace with my family, to be prayerful and be a right example to those with eyes to see.

And how do you deal with failure in your own lives? What is sin for you? Where do you experience forgiveness?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Freecycle Cherries

I put out a "wanted" on the freecycle and got a response for pie cherries. We didn't get tons but enough for 3 or 4 pies. Mr. Greenjeans loves cherry pie so we will have one on his birthday and another at Thanksgiving.

My Mom and Dad are here visiting and the picking time was at dinner time and so Mr. Greenjeans was in charge of the grill and I took Chibi and our ladder and went off. I felt slightly guilty leaving the company but we weren't gone long.

In all the activity of the evening, Ms. Bunny was left out in her exercise run after dark, when I thought to check on her, she had escaped. We all searched the bushes for her with flashlights but didn't find her. Mr. Greenjeans filled her feeder and changed her water and left the hutch door open for her to come home, but when I got up this morning, no Ms. Bunny.

I was standing at the sink dealing with cherries and looked up and there she was! She had climbed back into her cage and was drinking out of her waterer. I went out and greeted her and she put herself to bed for a long nap.

She is such a cool rabbit, I'm glad she came home.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hummingbird Babies

We left the door open to our shed/ garage while building the chicken coop and a momma hummingbird came in an built her nest. I don't see her very much but the eggs hatched and we've been watching as the babies get big enough to peer over the edge of the nest.

Yesterday morning, I heard a distinct baby bird distress sounds. I went to the garage and the hummers were crying. I got dressed, looked up baby hummingbirds on the Internet and read that they are silent unless starving. I did feed their open mouths some sugar water but also read that they couldn't subsist on that and called a bird rehabilitator.

I watched all day - and especially at night for mama bird but never saw her. While hanging out there, I also caught grasshoppers for the chickens - ohh they loved that.

The bird rehabilitator's opinion was that Mom was around and trying to get the babies to fly by feeding them less. I guess I'm too much of a mama to hear them cry for food.

We'll wait and see. I must admit they don't seems as desperately hungry, and I did give them another snack but they also don't look as if they have any intention of going anywhere. I've tried to get pictures but the flash keeps going off making a blurry white photo.

At the moment Ms Bunny is cruising around the computer hutch making a mess of things so I'd better pay attention to her.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We returned our Daughter

Actually, we returned her to the ER last night. What is up with us and the ER on a Friday night? The pain had become so bad she had to take another pain pill. When I cleaned her surgical sites, I realized that one of the rods was pulling against her skin and slowly, slowly ripping her skin (and everything underneath to the bone). We called the orthopedic surgeon who met us at the ER (which was full and so we went to a room) and I had to convince him to open the site on one side and stitch the other side where it had torn. Mr. Greenjeans and I assisted, he numberd her arm and made cut a place for the rod to move into.

The Dr. thought her pain was from being tense and under medicated so sent us home with a stronger pain med and a Rx for Valium. Whatever (and saying that in our house will cost you $.25 so I don't say it lightly).

As a result of easing the tension on the rod, she is much, much relieved of her pain this morning and can bend at the elbow without ripping flesh. Yes the site of the break aches but is managed with aspirin and Motrin. Gee, silly us.

You have got to love small towns. We got the Dr. out of the stands of the Rodeo, through the full ER, helped care for our kid and what needed to be done and were home in less than an hour and a half from phone call to home again.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Independence Days #9

Ms. Bunny supervising the blog posting.

Well, I'm on week nine having missed a week due to company and caring for the sick and injured ect...

1. Plant Something: Nope, just the root ends of the shallots from the grocery store when then grow more long green onions (still amazes me). One thing I need to learn is when to plant the second round for fall harvesting. It seems as if my summer crops will be bumping into the first freeze.

2. Harvest something: a few straggling lettuces.

3. Preserve Something: Oh, dear, No.

4. Prep. Something: After the hospital incidents we were motivated to review our First Aid Supplies. I was able to get Mr. Greenjeans interested in this project as he has taken first responder courses and done first aid kits for his employer, in the past. He put together a fresh basic medical/dental kit. The trick is going to be how to expand that into more than just the basics.

Before getting hurt, Ni Chan was working hard and pushing me to spend every spare minute on her quilt to take to school in the fall. Quilting is winter work and I don't like doing it with so much else going on but she has cut up old clothes, and made her own pattern and so I do want to support her in that. I also want the family she is going to to see that we make our own - to inspire these folks I had though were to green until I stayed with them.

An update on Ni Chan: She is having trouble controlling the pain of the steel rods drilled into her bone. This hurts much worse than the accident. Ironically she and I made the decision to discontinue the narcotic pain meds. The drug haze upset her so badly that she didn't have the mental capacity to manage her pain (decision made as she was laying on the cool tile of the bathroom floor with a sick stomach and mentally upset). She is on aspirin and Motrin and is at least sane. The pain is bad but seems not worse than drug hell. The narcotics are there by her sick bed if she want/needs them but even before bed last night she said 'no'. I feel better that she isn't just flat on her back moaning or sleeping, but engaged in her school work and conversations. Boy I miss her help with the chores.

We've started work on a project that I've wanted for four moves. I love New Mexico countryside and the bread and food that comes out of the ornos, or beehive ovens. Years ago Sunset magazine published a how-to on making one and I've carried those plans with me across the country and back. This last week we started on the project. I'll post as it goes along but here's the pad

- I anticipate it taking about four weeks to build and cure. This is what the finished product looks like in the magazine photo.

Cook Something New: Uh no, cooking is low on the list these hot days. I've got beans soaking and bread rising as I post but that's nothing new.

Manage Reserves: Here I've actually discovered that I've taken a large step backwards. The electricity to the freezer in the garage was interrupted and we lost a lot of home made soups and two turkey pot pies.

Work on Local Food Systems: The garden is tended most mornings and evenings. Sang praises of local, first time farmer's market at Rotary.

The volatility of the markets and the gas prices remind me that I need to pick up on this some more.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A weedy life

Pardon the silence as I try and compete with the weeds in the garden. I keep thinking that if I get on top of the weeds there will be a little break.....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gravity and Earth VS Girl and Momentum

I'm trying to decide what to name this post. Maybe, Horse - Girl =

Our expected out of town company had arrived with hugs and greetings and up the walk behind them were a few of Ni Chan's friends. They had squirt guns and a mask and said they were kidnapping Ni Chan because she didn't get out enough. Off they went and appearently had a squirt gun fight and then went out to see the animals in the pasture.

One of the girls young siblings had an old mare that they crawl all over and so the older girls figure they'll take turns riding in the pasture. Ni Chan went first. Appearently the mare doesn't like big kids as well as little ones because she took off bucking. Ni Chan has had martial arts and so knew how to fall and roll but the momentum was too much and then right out her arm. She was too embarassed to tell her 'captors' and so waited until she got home to announce that her arm was broken.

Mr. Greenjeans took her to the ER as I served the guest's dinner. She came back in a cast with surgury scheduled for Saturday morning. Surgury took longer than expected, the bone at the wrist had rolled up (a young person thing) and there were fragments to be removed. She is pinned and has external bars instead of a cast now. She stayed the night in the hospital where they OD'd her on pain meds and had to do an emergency reversal of said drugs while one nuse counted resparations and another pushed on her belly while her heart rate dropped like a stone.

That evening, I was standing up to leave the hospital, being relieved from parent duty by Mr. Greenjeans when a call came in that the most Sr. lay member (both elected position and age) of the church was being brought in on ambulance. She was having a heart attack. I then spent the next 5 hours holding her hand, and praying with her in the ER until she got a helecopter ride to the city. By nearly midnight I was dragging.

We brought Ni Chan home after church the next day, gave her the first pain pill and she had an allergic reaction. It wasn't bad enought to take her back but it was Sunday and so she has spent until her afternoon orthopod appointment on Monday without any stronger pain meds than asperin. At this appointment I learned that I have to clean surgury incisions 2 times daily. The how-to instructions had both Ni Chan and Mr. Greenjeans faint and queezy.

The kid is a trooper and hasn't complained much except that she is flat out and feeling generally ill from all the trash in her system now. Anyway, that's what I've been up to instead of posting to my blog.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Award!

Ohhhhh Girl Screem!!! Thank you Rob for naming me!!! Ta Daaa! This is my first blogger award, though a bit dubious, the Arte Y Pico Award

I want to thank my father, who taught me to read and made me take typing in highschool, and my kids who sometimes give me a turn on the computer, my dogs who are sleeping at my feet and all those whorkers who assembled my computer to make this possible. Here's what's up:

1. Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

And while I do think this is a bit of a silly award, I do want to name the following blogs with all sincerity and honor as blogs I check regularly and gain from:

1. Songbird at her blog Reflectionary for her very thoughtful and profound blog and her encouragement of other bloggers.

2. Dana's Spotted Arpon for the wonderful photography and really usable,delicious recipes.

3. The Peak Oil Hausfrau for enjoyable and enlightening reading.

4. Becca's Potager Garden for her creative, functional, and beautiful garden ideas.

5. Golden Acre Lives On which is a new blog that has really taken off with really valuable information and a great lay out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Babe

Mr. Greenjeans and I have been married 21 years, today. We went to dinner last evening at a nice place up in the mountains beside a lake. It was a tad chilly but a nice break from the valley heat.

We were married in the mountains with a view of the dessert. The year was like this where the wildflowers were lovely. We first met through our dogs and those dogs were in the wedding and sitting beside us in the wedding photos.

I won't say that 21 years has been all ease and bliss - it has not. But we've hung in there and in these latter years have been rewarded with a very good marriage. Of course it can be related to good pre-marriage agreements. Ours went like this:

Me: Do you like animals?
Him: Uh Huh

Me: I want a couple of kids, how about you?
Him: Uh, Maybe. Do you know where TV guide got to?

See, good communication is the key to wedded perfection.

Rather, He has done an enormous amount of adapting ;-).