Monday, June 30, 2008

Coffee Arabica



What the best thing about coffee...the smell or the taste? I like the taste, but I looooove the fragrance that fills the house as it brews.

Jack and I are not big coffee drinkers, but we're coffee admirers. We enjoy coffee like we do wine...occasionally.

The other day, Jack returned home from a rash of errand-tending stops, and mentioned he had picked up another plant...on sale, of course...because it had looked so lonely and besides, you KNOW we can grow it here....

Heehee...we're pretty awful at sticking to any moratorium on collecting more useful plants.

It turns out he found a 4 1/2 foot coffee tree for $12, which is an unusually affordable price in our location here, especially for that size tree. By the time the end of the week came along, we'd bought the remaining 3 coffee trees they still had, still at the low sales price. I really hope we can make a go of these, because they are really healthy, good specimens...and one already had berries!

Our mango has gotten sunburned and stressed in the extreme temps, and about half of each leaf has turned brown. We brought it onto the lanai, out of the direct sun. That's where the 4 coffee trees now reside, because they're supposed to be shade-loving but are supposed to be hardy in our zone and in even hotter zones. I'm holding my breath that we can keep them healthy. They can't get below 68 degrees in the winter, supposedly, so we'll always need to keep them sheltered in the winter. I hope we know what we're doing!

Here's a pic of the first of the coffee arabica berries. Each berry, when ripe, should yield 2 coffee beans apiece.



Here you can see the one of the coffees snuggled up against the crispy brown (recovering) mango...


Jack's mother is from Cuba and once a year she used to go to a friend's country plot, where he raised fruits and vegetables...and had coffee trees. A single picking of a single coffee tree would net her a brown grocery sack full to the top with the ripe berries, which she would take home. This was during a time in which luxury items, such as coffee, were quite scarce there. It would take some days, or perhaps weeks, for her to process the coffee all the way to the roasting of the beans. Then she would divide up the precious commodity into small parcels and use it as barter power on the active (underground?) trading that went on privately, despite the communist restrictions. She kept aside enough for her family for one year, and still had enough left to barter.

The main breakfast of many Cubans at that stage was a cup of strong coffee with milk, and a piece of Cuban bread, a bread that came over with Cuba's predominantly European settlers early on straight from the French Baguette tradition, only Cuban bread is a bit wider all told. It's sold here regularly in the supermarket, and is quite addictive, as it's fresh-baked daily.
Jack and I are not usually daily coffee drinkers, but he has a preference for farmer-grown coffee roasted in oil in a big skillet and an open fire...he says he'll definately drink it if we can get it to that point. Well, let's see!

If we're fortunate to get even one of the treelings to the productivity point, we should garner enough beans to have a year's supply, and likely have some for friends to experiment with, too...or at least that's the hope! In that event, I'll be consulting my online friend, Christina, at CoffeeCoffeeCoffee, who I know is a confirmed coffee-a-holic! She has her own cottage business selling organic coffees, and I've posted her link on the sidebar in case other coffee lovers would like to venture her way for a cuppa joe.

If you've had any experience growing coffee trees yourself, I'd love any tips and advice you might have. I hope these trees can survive our learning curve :)


This Made Me Smile

A guy, whose main ambition in life has mostly been sitting around playing electronic games, decides to travel somewhere else in the world.

The guy has one goofy dance he dances, and he hams it up on video in different locations during his travels.

He comes home and finds that a company is willing to pay him to take other trips, to do his little dance in other places in the world.

He's contacted by complete strangers who email him after seeing his the first videos of his dancing. They join the dance.

And that's it. I'm not going to analyze it...it makes me smile!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Nature's Warning Signal

When you're in the garden, and you spy the color red and it's not your prize tomatoes, hibiscus, hummingbird vine, or red verbena...and if it has legs and is crawling, that sort of red might be one of Nature's warning signs..."Keep Away."

In Florida, we have to be careful of some red creatures. Coral snakes are one sure creature with red warnings built in, and you just don't want to stick around with bare feet and hands near one...they are said to have a fatal bite (actually, they sort of chew). Everyone's familiar with the black widow spider, whose red mark also serves as a warning...moreso than you average spider. Again, you're in serious trouble if you get bitten.

I was lingering among the green things this afternoon, enjoying watching the pollinators glutting themselves in the basils. I had no idea basil plants are so lovely (even in a recycled paint bucket, ha!), but now that they've mounded they're downright ornamental, especially with their halo of flying insects hovering about. There has been a lot of rain here lately, and no complaints from me. We have to keep an eye on the ant hills...they have such a network of systems around our property, you really have to watch where you stand for too long. I was keeping a cautious eye on the situation of my sandaled feet when I saw this scurrying around busily...near my foot. In the pic, I've moved her to a bucket...

See anything?


Here's a badly out-of-focus shot, even closer, but about as close as I want to get.

Here's a closer look...isn't she beautiful?



She is a velvet ant, which is really not an ant at all, but rather a type of female wasp. The males have wings, and the females don't. They feed on nectar, which is a good sign in my garden, indicating there must be some nectar to be had. But do not take her red coloration as a red badge of courage...instead, steer clear from contact. This is NOT an insect to let the kids try handling. The other nickname for this female wasp is "cow killer" because her sting is so extremely painful it's said to "kill a cow," (which I can find no evidence it really does, but must be pretty painful!). Most likely, if you leave her alone, she'll return the favor.

I actually like the fact that red is so visible in nature usually, and also that we can be warned while still admiring the beauty of the creatures, while dangerous to us in certain situations, are just pretty much peacefully going about their lives...beautifully...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quite A Week

First of all, I'm loving my blog friends! Thank every one of you who have commented on this past week's posts for your wonderful insights and help...it is very appreciated! I want to do justice in responding, and will try to do so over the weekend, probably on Sunday. Thank you for being such wonderful friends!!

I was delighted to hear that two of my wonderful blog friends, Kathie from Two Frog Home and Jess from Practical Nourishment actually were able to meet...what a treat, and how neat that they live within visiting distance :) What were the odds that would happen in Montana? I love when that happens in life, especially finding friends in the most unexpected but delightful ways.

This week has been very full for us. It has definately had its ups and downs.

The biggest and hardest-hitting thing was our recieving news of Jack's mom's illness. I don't know if I've mentioned it, since we've not been at the computer this week as much. She is in the advanced stages of an aggressive cancer, and it took our family by surprise. His mother is a remarkable woman with an incredible mind and will of her own. She staunchly made her way in my husband's early years when circumstances would have been daunting, and possibly overwhelming, to the average mother. She has been no average mother. My husband has inherited her backbone and determination to make a better life, and his mother has figured largely into his own life. We are already antipating this great loss, and praying that her last days can be eased. Any prayers you might have to that effect are very appreciated. She has lived a full life, to the age of 95, and has been active up until this latest health crisis, caring for her own husband of advanced age even to the present. She is also one of the most intelligent women you'd meet. We love Mima.

Plans have to be made soon.

The other news was alluded to somewhat in my other blog, and that is the positioning of a couple of family members who are not welcome news in our lives. We'll leave the details out, but they have circled in on Jack's mom now that she is ill in the hopes of financial gain under the guise of being "helpful," but have a long history of having taken advantage of others in similar circumstances by "helping themselves." Understandably, we are not only concerned about Jack's mom's vulnerability, but also she and her husband's safety. These two family members have a history of being violent, but come off as being pussycats when they want something. Again, prayers in behalf of this situation are appreciated.

Jack found termites in Bucketville, our outdoor garden as such. Again, thank you for your great and helpful comments, which I'll respond to this weekend, over this concern. The plants seem healthy enough, and it's been very rainy here...rain nearly every day. We have NO complaints about that! Most of the plants seem to be doing very well, and we have some new additions...of course!...even though we try to limit ourselves from acquiring more plants, we, uh, both have the same addiction to enjoyment in finding news ones we've not tried before, especially if they are marked on sale. I'll post about the new green babies this upcoming week :)

As for my health resolutions, I have lost a little weight, and am still holding. There was some emotional eating (hello, biscuits!) earlier in the week, but those were walked and sweated off at work. I don't mind at all...we've overall adopted a much healthier mindset, and keep tweaking the particulars to better and better habits and foods all along. I'm very happy about that. Our daughter is also doing the same, and it does my heart good to see her eating really great fruits and vegetables as she now is preparing many things on her own as a young adult. She continues to maintain a very demanding schedule as a new nurse, and is doing a terrific job...she really cares about and for her patients and is going forth carefully and a bit wiser into life now that she's finding out about that big "world out there." We sure love her! She has gained confidence and also has been conferring with Jack for advice on things never yet (in her young life) experienced...car maintenance, insurance, safety issues, job, finances, etc.

We're never far away from the subject of the anticipated homestead on acreage...yes, I know the song gets old, we repeat ourselves on this a lot. The reasons we're wanting it elsewhere are crucial to our future rather than just being the matter of preferred location. This week we've both been back at the drawing board with future house plans, which is always fun. We've run the gamut from a one-room cabin to drawings that look like a community could move into...ha! The fun part, at least for me, are the dates we have together getting to talk about what we need, what we want, what is easy to build--and fast, both of our ideas as to room locations, and etc etc. If you've ever had your own spouse or sweetheart be your primary catalyst and confidante in things like this, it's very motivating and just plain FUN :) And it makes all the castaway drawings easier to swallow as we both go back to the drawing board, again and again :)

It's now nearly dark, and shabbat draws near. For us, it's a time of rest and time together. Thankfully, we just squeezed in the shopping just in time, whew!

For anyone who follows the tradition Jewish weekly Bible portion, this week's is Parsha Korach, which is Numbers 16:1 through 18:32. It's part of a yearly reading cycle followed worldwide by many folks, so just putting it here. We try to follow along every week, since we're mostly at home with no group to meet with nearby.

We love all our blog and online friends, and thank you for making our lives so much richer...we love reading of your successes and challenges, your funny and serious moments, your thoughts and diversity, your families and friends, animals and plants, and ideas. The sharing here is so important. Even though we've had very little time to sit down and enjoy spare time reading blogs the past couple weeks, we know we'll be here often for inspiration and for friendship touchpoints. We hope to stop in for a hello soon, so don't give up on us :)

Here's to a restful and rejuvenating evening and day tomorrow to you, our friends. And if my sister sees this post, it's her first time to ever see my blog...I love you, sis!! Goodnight for now, and Shabbat Shalom!

I leave you with one of our favorite youtube wind-downs, a peaceful guitar rendition of the song Shalom Aleichem...peace unto you :)

Help! What Do We Do About This??

Termites ...were discovered living in the flowerpots and some of the buckets our plants are growing in...there are termites, yet we don't have termites infesting our house, according to the monthly pest inspectors. And we surely DON'T want to be raising our own homegrown ones!

We're planning on using raised beds extensively, too, when we move...to raise many of our main crops. They'll be amended regularly with compost and lots of organic material, similar to what's in our current garden-'o-buckets.

Has anyone ever had any problems with termites in your pots, compost, or raised beds? Or your garden at all, for that matter?

We're not sure quite what to do at this point, and using pesticides is not an alternative we want to consider at this point...

Help!!! :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Can You Identify This Bee?

I'm not sure what sort of bee this is...does anyone know? There were several, and they were bigger than honeybees and were enjoying the basil and mint blooms.

Here are some pics that are closer...







If you have any idea what kind these are, I'd love to know! :)

Immediate Action Needed --The NAIS and School Lunches

You may have read about this already. I just received this in my email inbox from the Weston A. Price Foundation -- (I've put certain sections in bold print)

ACTION ALERT: Mandatory Requirement for NAIS in School Lunch Program Put in House Agriculture Appropriations Bill. CALL NOW!

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has included pro-NAIS provisions in the Agriculture Appropriations bill for 2009. According to the press release, the bill would require USDA to purchase meat products for the School Lunch Program from livestock premises registered with National Animal Identification System beginning in July 2009.

This is a back-door method for mandating NAIS through the power of the purse strings. The bill also provides a total NAIS funding level of $14.5 million or about $4.8 million above 2008.

We must stop these provisions from going any further! The full House Appropriations Committee will meet about the Agriculture Appropriations bill this Thursday, June 26. Sometime after that, it will go to the full House.

We also need to contact our Senators now, to keep them from doing the same thing.

TAKE ACTION NOW:

1) Call or fax your US Representative.
You can look up who represents you at www.congress.org or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-340-9281.2)

2.) Call or fax the members of the House Appropriations Committee who come from your State. The members are listed at: http://appropriations.house.gov/members110th.shtml When you see a member who comes from your state, click on his or her name to get contact information.

3) Call or fax your Senators. You can look up who represents you at www.congress.org or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-340-9281.


With each person, ask to speak to the staffer who handles appropriations. If you get their voice mail, leave the following message, or something in your own words that makes the same points:

MESSAGE: My name is ____. I am a constituent [or live in your state, if you aren't in their district].
I am calling because the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee has inserted language requiring the School Lunch Program to only buy meat from farms registered in the National Animal Identification System.
I am against NAIS, and I do not want it to be tied to school lunch programs.
NAIS, which tracks live animals, will not improve food safety because most food safety problems start at the slaughterhouse and food processing facilities.
Funding for NAIS, particularly any mandatory NAIS, needs to be stopped.
Please call me back at _____ to let me know where the Congressman/woman stands on this issue.


When you talk to the staffer, be sure to make the same points as in the message, and expand on them with some of the talking points below. For more information, contact the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance at info@farmandranchfreedom.org or 866-687-6452.The press release, from Chairwoman DeLauro (D-CT) is available at http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/DeLauroSubMarkup06-19-08.pdf

MORE TALKING POINTS - state your concerns in your own words

* This bill uses the government's power to economically coerce farmers into NAIS. That is not a "voluntary" program.

* This bill throws good money after bad, supporting a program that is not sound economically or scientifically.

* USDA has presented no science to back up its claims that NAIS will address livestock diseases.

* The USDA has never completed a cost/benefit analysis to show that NAIS is worthwhile.

* NAIS will not improve food safety. The massive Hallmark/Westland beef recall this past year was caused by the slaughterhouse employees' failure to follow existing regulations for handling "downer" cows. Mandating NAIS on cattle producers will not make anybody obey the laws we already have.

* NAIS will not help Americans compete in the world market. If it is mandatory, or even adopted by most producers, those who participate will not get premiums for their meat.

* Pouring more money into the program is a waste of precious tax dollars that could be better spent on safety inspections at packing and processing plants, where most food contamination occurs.

* Using the school lunch program to force farmers into NAIS undermines the growing farm-to-school program, which helps children get fresh, local, and sustainably raised foods. Local farmers should not be forced into an unpopular program that has nothing to do with food quality or safety in order to provide food for our children.

* The claim that USDA has achieved 33% of its Premises Registration goal is wrong. USDA computes its percentage of premises registered based on farmers who answer the agriculture census. Hundreds of thousands of additional horse owners, families with a few chickens, suburbanites with a pet pot-bellied pig, and others like them are technically covered by NAIS, but USDA ignores them when it reports its supposed successes to Congress. The vast majority of people who will be impacted by NAIS either oppose it or are still unaware of it!

* NAIS has never been specifically approved by Congress. This massive program, which will impact millions of people, should be addressed through full and open debate, not snuck in through appropriations.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Trying a Little Blog Experiment

I'm trying a Technorati experiment after reading Christina's recent post. Let's see if I can do it right. I have two left thumbs when it comes to doing anything beyond Remedial Computer 101.

The steps listed are:

1. Copy The List Below into a blog post of yours.
2. Add Your Link To The List
3. Comment on this post and leave your links so the web crawlers can get to your blog and at the same time, leave your comment and links to the original post so your blog will be included on the master list. Got to include your blog on the master list.
4. Watch Your Authority Sky-Rocket..

Anyone want to try this? I'm curious...

Below is the copied portion...
*–Copy Here - Technorati Authority–*1. Brad Blogging.com - Daily Blog Tips For The Masses
2. Daily Blogging Tips At The Daily Rambler
3. Blog Chews - Blog About Anything
4. Steve v4.6 - Big Made Small
5. GIVEAWAY CITY
6. Indo Contest.com - Find the Latest Contest Here
7. POTPOLITICS-We Smoke the Competition
8. ATA - AskTheAdmin.com
9. Dolly’s Daily Diary
10. The Tech Juice - Tech Tips And More
11. Wendy’s OBA, Blog Tips & Tricks
12. Wendy’s Reel - Fact And Fancy
13. A Grateful Heart
14. 50+Whatever..Just some Ramblings in Life
16. The Blog for DesignCreatology
17. Contest Whiz - The Blog Contest Expert
18. About Blog Contests
19. Esmeraldasblog - Como aumentar la Authority de Technorati
20. Best Widgets for free - Blog Widgets
21. New life by Pitonizza
22. Todo Seiya - Como aumentar la Authority de Technorati
23. Blog for Spanish Readers
24. The Blogger And The Blog
25. Hero Help
26. Makmalcyber
27. Forex Study
28. Techyplus
29. 8
30. Darn Good Reviews
31. Blogger Tips - DotBlogger
32. Lilyruths This and That
33. That Blog 4 Me
34. Pinoytek - Make Money Online and SEO Blog
35. Snigit(blogspot)
36. Snigit(.com)
37. Best Of The Web
38. Swat the Fly
39. Area3000
40. Shut Up And Eat
41. Find Torrent Blog
42. Cebu in the World
43. Web Design
44. Trestin Adventures
45. Ask Trestin
46. Trestin Autobiography
47. Trestin Ideas
48. Trestin Gallery
49. Trestin Games
50.(Impressive Results!) Trestin Hall Of Fame
51. Trestin History
52. Parnell Forever
53. Trestin Political
54. Trestin Spiritual
55. Trestin Sports
56. Trestin Store - Yep, Each One Of These Are Different Blogs.
57. The Ordinary Agung
58. Il blog di Luca Marchi
59. What About Brazil?
60. Shri Rada Blog
61. Hawaiian Travel Blog
62. Hawaii Cruise Superstore
63. GadgetHeat!
64. Over The Sky
65. Yavinator log
66. I Travel to Work do you?
67. The Home Page of Tony Smith, Writer of Comic Books, Articles & Screenplays
68. Ultimate Credit Online
69. The Rhythm of Write
70. A Hoosier Family
71. Analyzed Marketing Solutions
72. O2S Media
73. Project Swole - Fitness and Nutrition
74. Life is simple, Don’t make it complicated
75. Yet Another Blog from Marco Ciacci
76. Freebies, Making money and More
77. Babysitter On Board
78.Vhiel’s Corner
79. Anything and Everything in Between
80. Designs By Vhiel
81. Can of Thoughts
82. Only in Silence
83. Everything Nice!
84.Reference Notes
85. It’s a woman’s world!
86. Ramki’s Blog
87. THE MOM WITH BROWNIES
88. Picture Clusters
89. Maiylah’s Snippets
90. My Wanderings
91. Confessions of a Supermodel Wannabe
92. Tiklaton: We are the Witness!
93. Aeirin Collections
94. The Big Dog
95. O’Joy of my life…
96. Through the Rain
97. More Than A Mom
98. Say Cheese
99. The Journey
AWESOME! TRIPLE DIGITS! 100. Photo Hook
101. Life Quest
102. Dew Drops - Making Sense… Somehow
103. The Small Business Marketing Blog
104. TheSuburbanFarmer
105. Konaini Blog
106. Worldly Economic Thoughts
107. Esperto Seo
108. gd labs gianfranco davide reppucci Blog
109. insidetheworld Italian Linux and Security Blog team
110. The Back Forty

Copy This and add your link. Don't forget to post at the HERE and at the original post!

OK, Christina...hope I did it correctly :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Raw Milk Debate: A Response to the FDA



I found an excellent response to the FDA's 2007 Powerpoint presentation about the "dangers of raw milk."

Wouldn't it be terrific if the FDA focused as much of their money and effort on foods derived from animals and plants altered/medicated by companies like, ohhhhh Monsanto...which comprise a startling percentage of the foods consumed by the unaware American public...since things like genetic alteration of such is not even required to be included on the labels..??

Back to the raw milk. Forget the smokescreens the FDA throws up...they have a monetary interest in keeping milk altered. Responsibly-produce raw milk products cut into their bottom line, since it doesn't hinge on antibiotics, medications, growth hormones, or even pasteurization to produce an unnaturally-lasting shelf life...blah blah blah. A little note to self and others...doesnt it seem like the things the FDA barks on and on about the most are the LEAST relevant issues, seemingly drawing national attention to small farmers as the villains while preserving the right of exemption-from-scrutiny-and-accountability to Big Ag....or even the FDA themselves? Does anyone smell a rat? :)

Here's a great link to a point-by-point response to the FDA's campaign/attack against raw milk.


It's time to be suspicious of the blatant FDA propaganda. If you look at the above Response to the FDA website, you'll find the advocate in support of the raw milk issue in this case is the Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization closely linked to an excellent small farmer's legal resource, the Farm to Consumer Foundation and Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Check it out if you have a chance! It is a legal issue, and a constitutional freedom issue, to which many other small farm issues are linked.

Bee Garden Plant List, the Good and the Toxic


I was recently looking through my beloved seed catalogs -- one of my favorite pasttimes, usually a winter exercise. Now it's been extended into a year-long exercise in patience and anticipation because of our decision earlier in the year to keep only herbs and trees (in buckets, of course, ha!), but not to grow any spring or summer-bearing plants. Ergo, no "true" garden -- and it's sheer torture seeing all the bounty growing in everyone else's gardens just now, but always a thrill to see what's doing well for different folks, and always a kick seeing the harvests coming in and what they become...meals, pickles, jams, home-canned goods, pantry staples, baked goods, soaps, papers, forages, cover crops, etc. Mmmmmm!!

My husband uttered some very dangerous words the other day, as he was looking at the buckets of green things and thinking into the future to the months we can grow seasonal crops..."we need to grow some flowers."

It's a very dangerous sentence to say aloud in my presence!
Flowers and flowering things are to me what fancy cars, great chocolate, and a getaway weekend cruise are to some folks. Or maybe they are my "beauty fix," or some soothing form of therapy. I love watching bees and insects exploring dancing floral stems, and love the worlds contained there, if I'm still enough to stop and observe. I love that some are smooth, others downy with fine hairs, and yet others are jewels set in a tangled fortress inhabited by every sort of small creature.
I'm not sure why, but as I've grown older, my preferences in flowering plants have transformed from the "perfected" hybrids to the more earthy naturally-occuring forms of these plants, which often are more highly specialized in certain respects, such as native vigor, exquisite fragrance, more natural form, and specific bloom times. My first experiment with this was years ago, when I bought a lot of roses from Jackson and Perkins, among which were hybrids and old-fashioned varieties. The hybrids were little showmen, but lacked...something. The old-fashioneds quickly sorted themselves out into two categories...survivors and casualties...either they thrived or they just died...my first gardening lesson in choosing plants suited to geographic location. The old-fashioneds bloomed only for a few weeks during a particular time of year, specific to their type, but were they ever a riot of beauty then! And the fragrances were beyond description...fragrances never captured in today's bottled perfumes. In the end, the hybrids were dug up and given away to people skilled in nurturing fussy plants, and the other survivors stayed and lived on happily.

What does this have to do with Bee Garden plants?

Lesson learned...look for plants suitable to locale first...

And mine, now, will only be open-pollinated organic seeds and starts. The thing bees and I have in common?

We adore flowers...

--------------------------

Here is the broad list I've compiled so far. They are the common names, rather than the Latin...a more complete list by Latin names is included at the bottom. These are a wide variety of plants good for either their forage, nectar, pollen, and out-of-season food extendering qualities-- primarly for honeybees, even though many of these would be great for other types of bees and pollinators as well.


I'll narrow these down with more research into which ones are specific to my region. The nice thing is that many of these plants are adaptable to many regions nationwide, and perhaps worldwide.

I'm trying to be cautious about two things:
1. Being aware of what plants are toxic to bees, or would taint the honey of honeybees or make the honey undesirable/toxic to humans.
2. Wanting to incorporate these flowers INTO an existing garden diversity of vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, etc., rather than as an isolated "bee crop." We'll be depending on our garden to be our supermarket, and we need those bees to pollinate ALL the available plants. It IS possible to plant bee-loving plants so heavily that they actually draw pollinators AWAY FROM gardens and orchards. I want the plants to be incorporated amidst each other for diversity and the potager-type garden mixed-planting beauty...more like nature does. I don't want to have a separate garden removed from the veggies, etc., that competes for pollinators to the exclusion of the other plants receiving the pollinators' attention. So, in conclusion, the bee-loving plants need to be suitable to grow among the other plants in a diverse garden setting. I don't want to introduce plants into my garden that would be invasive, or harmful to the surrounding plants...thistle would be such a plant. Some plants would be better suited to a meadow situation, fenceline, or wilder areas. Another consideration would be to situate certain plants as to their companionability to certain other plants. Basil does well near tomatoes. I need to hone my research of the following list to see what companion plants each plant is best suited for.

Here's the list! (in no particular order)

Rocky Mt. Bee Plant
Bee Balm
Fireweed
Honey Locust trees
Clovers
Legumes
Raspberries
Asters
Hyssop
Anise Hyssop
Buckwheat
Sunflowers
Elderberry
Wild Plum Tree
Mulberry Tree
Phacelia Tanacetifolia
Mints
Borage
Mexican Sunflower
Hollyhock
Nasturstium
Nicotiana
Stevia (??)
Tupelo Tree
Redbud Tree
Maple Trees
Blackberry
Ajuga
Tulip Poplar Tree
Honeysuckles
Privets
Chaste Tree
Sourwood Tree
Sumac Shrub/Tree
Crape Myrtle Shrub/Tree
Echinacea/Purple Coneflower
Partridge Pea
Brazilian Pepper Bush (invasive)
Goldenrod
Black Eyed Susan
Joe Pye Weed
Currant Bush
Sages/Salvias
Willows
Basils
Cotoneaster
Lavenders
Globe thistle
Hyssops
Marjoram
Rosemary
Wallflower
Zinnia
Comfrey
Germander
Veronica
Nasturtium
Buglass
Chamomile
Chicory
Dropwort
Fennel
Ground Ivy
Hyssop
Lavender
Marjoram
Melilot
Dead Nettle
Queen of the Meadow
Winter Savory
Fuschia
Blanket Flower
Snapdragon
Rosemary
Pincushion
Goldenrod
Yarrow
Milkweed
Aster
Bellflower
Cornflower
Chrysanthemum
Lily of the Valley
Foxglove
Fleabane
Russian Sage
Sages
Buckwheat
Lungwort
Pulsatilla (Pasque Fl)
Lemon Balm
Thyme
Borage
Snakeroot
Button Bush
Russian Olive
Hebe
Bush Clover
Spice bush
Bush Cherry
Firethorn
Sumac
Pussy Willow
Thimbleberry
Snowberry
Blueberry
Lingonberry
Cranberry
Manzanita (UvaUrsi)
Oregon Grape
Mock Orange
Hollies
Desert Willow
Crape Myrtle (pruned to bush)
Escallonia
Catmint
Catnip
Clovers
Cresses
All Mints
Teasel
Daphne
Dandelion
Wineberry
Honeysuckles
Loquat
Bee Bee Tree
Silverbell Trees
Hollies
Quince
Redbud
Lilacs
Blue Mist (Coryopteris)
Serviceberry
Plum trees
Dwarf fruit trees
Hazels
Alder
Medlar
Crape Myrtle
Golden Raintree
Tulip Tree (Yellow Poplar)
Abelia
Tree of Heaven
Acacia (Locust or Wattle)
Maples (Red, Silver, Sugar etc)
Devil's Walking Stick
American Yellow Wood
Summer Sweet
Cotoneaster
Hawthorn
Tupelo (black gum)
Sorrel (Sourwood)
Willows
Basswood
Linden
Elm
Chaste Tree
Persimmon
Horse Chestnut
Chinese and Oregon Ash
Apples
Cherries
Peach
Apricot
Plum
Pears
Citrus (all varieties)
Corn
Tomatoes
Peppers
Cucumbers
Melons
Beans
Legumes
Maples
Alder
Dandelion
Winter Honeysuckle
Willows
Pussy Willow
Peaches
Plums
Apples
Buckwheat
Crabapples
Asters
Calliopsis
Clover
Marigolds
Poppies
Sunflowers
Zinnias
Buttercups
Clematis
Cosmos
Crocuses
Dahlias
Echinacea
English Ivy
Foxglove
Geraniums
Germander
Globe Thistle
Hollyhocks
Hyacinth
Rock Cress
Roses
Sedum
Snowdrops
Squills
Tansy
Yellow Hyssop
Blackberries
Cantaloupe
Cucumbers
Gourds
Peppers
Pumpkins
Raspberries
Squash
Strawberries
Watermelons
Wild Garlic
Borage
Catnip
Coriander/Cilantro
Fennel
Mints
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme
Blueberry
Butterfly Bush
Button Bush
Honeysuckle
Indigo
Privets
Alders
Basswood
Black Gum
Black Locust
Buckeyes
Catalpa
Eastern Redbud
Fruit Trees (especially Crabapples)
Golden Rain Tree (poisonous flowers to people)
Hawthorns
Hazels
Linden
Magnolia
Maples
Mountain Ash
Sycamore
Tulip
Poplar
Willows
gallberry
citrus
tupelo
saw palmetto
melaleuca
Brazilian pepper
cabbage palm
black mangrove tree
Spanish needles plant
Seagrape
Pepper vine
Fetterbush
Gopher Apple
Buckwheat Tree/Spring Ti Ti
Buttonbush
Coral Vine
Summer Farewell
Trailing Chinquapin
Cowpeas
Curcubits (cucumbers, squashes, watermelons, cantaloupes, etc)
Lespedeza
Mango
Avocado
Snap beans
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Vetches
American and Chinese Hollies
Caroline Laurelcherry
Chinese Tallow Tree
Tulip Tree
Southern Magnolia
Cassava
Sweetbay Magnolia
Glossy Abelia Shrub
Privets and Ligustrums
Scarlet Dombeya
Yaupon
Sweet Acacia/ Mesquite
Common Mesquite
Forget-me-Not
Baby Blue Eyes
Siberina Wallflower
Cosmos
Annual Gaillardia
Corn Poppy
California Poppy
Common Mignonette
Globe Gilia
Plains Coreopsis
Lance-leaved Coreopsis
Black-eyed Susan
Bergamot/ Bee Balm
Fleabane Daisy

For a more complete list by Latin name, you can link here.

(forgive the repetition of some of the things on the list...I compiled it from various sources and have to fine-tune it yet)

Here's the Bad Boy list...plants you DON'T want bees near

Summer Ti Ti...(produces "purple brood")
Yellow Jessamine/ Gelsemium Sempervirens/ Carolina Jasmine/ Evening Trumpetflower/ Woodbine (toxic to honeybees, causes brood death)
Star Lily/Deathcamus Zigadenus genus of plants (pollen is poisonous to bees)
Heliconia genus -- false bird of paradise (toxic to bees)
Spathodea Tree/ Fountain Tree/ Africa Tulip Tree/ Flame-of-the-Forest/ Nandi Flame
Balsa Tree (toxic to bees)
Aesculus Californica/ California Buckeye/ California Horse-chestnut (toxic pollen and nectar)
Neottica Orchid (toxic to bees)
Rhododendrum Ponticum/ Azalea Pontica/ Common Rhododendron (produces honey toxic to humans)
Andromeda Polifolia/ Bog Rosemary (honey that paralyses limbs)
Mountain Laurel/ Kalmia Latifolia/ Spoonwood/Calico Bush/ (honey toxic to humans)
Sheep Laurel (honey toxic to humans)
Azaleas (honey toxic to humans)
Wharangi Bush/ Melicope/ Corkwood/ Doughwood/ Alani (honey fatally toxic to humans)
Datura (honey toxic to humans)
Belladonna/ Deadly Nightshade/ Amaryllis (toxic honey)
Henbane/Stinking Nightshade (toxic honey)
Serjania Lethalis (from Brazil; (toxic honey)
Tutu bushes/ Coriaria Arborea --found in New Zealand --(toxic honey)
Vine Hopper Insect (feeds on Tutu bushes) -- in New Zealand --(toxic honey)
Oleander (toxic honey)


A note about this list:

I am unaware if these toxicities are in honey made exclusively from these plants, or if they result when the above plants are a primary nectar/pollen/forage source rather than being a safer part of a more diverse whole. I'm also not a bee-keeper, yet. I'm aware there are mountain laurels and rhododendrons in the wild in areas where there has never been any negative report of compromised honey or ill effects on bees. I also consider the internet sources a jumping-off place to do further specific research, and don't recommend banning OR embracing a recommendation based solely on something found on a webpage. It's simply a starting place. Do NOT rely on my toxic list above as your guide in what to avoid for bees...it's here as a jumping-off place to raise a possible concern. Each individual is responsible to do more complete research for their own health concerns and that of their bees. I list here only in order for us to compare notes and highlight possible concerns in network-fashion.

If you know of any plants missing from either list, I'd love to know them and add them to our resource book. We're compiling a looseleaf book for different homestead categories as a ready note-taking and comparison tool, and it'll be a work in progress.

It will be fun when we can actually get started keeping honeybees, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

As we choose flowers for our garden, and incorporating many of them potage-style side by side with the veggies and berries, the very first ones we'll bear in mind will be the ones bees love.


Future lists to come...
Beneficial insect plants
Edible Flowers
Fragrance Plants
Medicinals
Companion Plants
Trap crops
Green manures
Forages/feed supplements for livestock and poultry
Pest Repellant Plants
Holistic Animal Care Plants

Saturday, June 21, 2008

MSG Alert

This, from my inbox -- latest update from Weston A. Price Foundation:

ACTION ALERT ON MSGPETITION TO REMOVE MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE FROM THE FOOD SUPPLY BEFORE THE FDA

To the members of Weston A Price Foundation:
After decades of concern about the safety of the food additive MSG in food, and mounting evidence about the adverse reactions many people have to it, the FDA has accepted a petition to remove monosodium glutamate from the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list of ingredients.

This action would stop hundreds of food manufacturers, from Campbell's to Heinz, and thousands of restaurants, from Kentucky Fired Chicken to Applebees, from using this additive.

Since 1950, food manufacturers and restaurants have discovered that adding MSG to food makes people eat more of it, and eat more quickly. MSG is addictive, like nicotine for food.

If you are one of the millions who have suffered reactions to MSG, from asthma to migraines, please take this opportunity to send your comments to the FDA.

The petition itself is available to be read at the website:http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=FDA-2007-P-01 78

To comment, simply click on the orange thought bubble beside the Petition written by John Erb.

Fill out the fields on the electronic form, and include your comments supporting the petition. Be sure to mention any problems you or your family members have had with the additive Monosodium Glutamate.

To have a better idea of the damage that MSG can cause, please feel free to review the text of the Petition, which shows how MSG has been purposely used to create obese and diabetic test subjects for experiments, and how MSG can be linked to the triggering of abnormal brain growth leading to autism.

By clicking on the HTML or PDF icon you can review the petition itself. By adding your voice to this petition you can help end the poisoning we all have suffered from this toxic ingredient. Together we can make a lasting change towards putting our health before the profit margin of the corporations.

Unfortunately, the FDA has only opened public comment on this petition for a very brief period. The comment period closes on June 23rd, so please act quickly to make your voice be heard.

For more information on the dangers of Monosodium Glutamate, feel free to visit these sites:www.msgmyth.com
www.msgtruth.com
www.truthinlabeling.com

Thank you for making the world a safer place!

Of Hawks and Bisquick



This is what I believe is a Red-Shouldered Hawk. It was perched on the dead tree in the backyard, looking to score a field mouse or snake between thundershowers.

I know they kill chickens, and when we have a flock someday, I'll have to be vigilant to thwart the them.

But I love them, all the same.

That dead tree is one of their favorite perches, since it overlooks a weedy ditch picturesque drainage canal full of cattails and other snake-infested marsh plants lush vegetation.


-------------------

I love the comments that so many wonderful online friends leave here! I have to apologize for not being as frequent to your blogs just now. A close family member is involved in a health crisis, and it's been unexpected. We're now in a whole different mode, and it's an emotional time that calls for trying to keep clear heads. I'll be here as I can, but please forgive the lapses between responses to comments and emails. I'm still here, but just not as often :)
-------------------

Oh, yeah. And if you've followed the other blog at all, don't even bother to go there just now. That stats will not be good...

I just engaged in a serious Carb Throwdown, er slight setback. I'll spare you the ugly, emotionally-driven eating highlights. I'll just leave you with this image: Drop biscuits with plenty of real butter.

I embraced the carbs.

How many did I embrace??

No Comment.


:)

Friday, June 20, 2008

The ??? That Jack Built


It's under construction....here's a peek! What is it? Um, I'm not sure, but he's the mastermind and has a plan, so it should be great :) There is an eight foot box of something-or-other leaning against my living room wall and is destined to be part of this structure, so this should be interesting!


Someday these will be spilling over neat, orderly raised beds (ideally...) But for now, these buckets will continue to do dual duty...to grow and to transport to the homestead, when we have one.

The citrus part of Bucketville...Meyer lemons, key lime, persian lime, more meyer lemons...


This is Bucketville's beginner herb garden. The balm is trying to jump the wall ...the grass is always greener...


The very messy but quite tasty collection grows...

closeup of the lemon again...mainly because I can't believe we actually have real lemons on those little baby bucket trees...



Here is one of the two surviving grapevines...two bit the dust. These were just sticks a few weeks ago, but some hot sun and a lot of rain, and off they went!

This is another of my husband's serendipitous finds...a carambola, or starfruit tree! I'm always as tickled as he is when he stumbles across these discoveries...this one was a fraction of its original cost, and was the last good one at the store!

The herb we ordered and received recently...it has really taken off. Glad to see it thriving in this heat...it's been HOT out. It's showing no sign of stress and looks better than many of the other plants that are better established.


Jack brought this little Kiwi tree home today. He was at a favorite plant nursery (without ME, ahem...) and said the plant called to him when he walked by. He answered the call. Good thing I wasn't there because usually ALL the plants call to me, and he won't let me answer ;-) Or should I say, the answer is "see ya!"
I'm not posting here as frequently as I have recently, mainly because of the new job schedule. It may be a bit sporadic, but I'm not gone for good :) It's been physically demanding, but in a good way. There is also a whole different level of heat exhaustion, and many times I just want to sit in the cool and sip cold water and just chill out a bit longer.
Tonight's shabbat will be simple...we'll both likely be asleep quite early...we're bone tired! I've been up since 8 or so last night, and Jack's worked so hard this week both at work and around the house, mostly outdoors. There's homemade soup in the crockpot, and a roast in the oven, and now I'm calling it a night...and a week.
I hope everyone has a wonderful and restful evening and day tomorrow! I'm so grateful for that great feeling of having worked hard, and now getting to rest and spend time with family. I hope you have that same cozy feeling tonight as your week comes to a close, and rejuvenation begins :) To all my friends in the blogosphere, I hope to catch up with some much-missed and long-overdue blog reading in the next few days...I appreciate my friends here so much!
The blog's now closed till Saturday sundown....Shabbat Shalom!









Monday, June 16, 2008

My Green Ideal

...is to learn to do the best with what we have...naturally. The Dervaeses at Path To Freedom are my heros in this respect. They are my ideal of Being Green.

Remember this song?



No, it's not always easy being Green... :)

In my last post, I spoke of not labeling myself with particular labels. "Green" has come to mean many things in many different contexts. Our (my husband's and my) focus is to be gentle consumers within a natural framework, and to cut out the middle man between the ground and the table. We are lovers of nature. We feel a keen sense of responsibility in doing this sustainably, our ideal being that there would be no waste that's not converted back into a cycle of regeneration. Our goal is also simplicity.

We're spoiled to modern conveniences, but would rather innovate and find ways to retain some of those conveniences rather than do completely without, or do everything from scratch. This will allow us to focus on the things we most WANT to be hands-on with...because we can't be masters at every skill. We also see relying on others' skills in areas we're not gifted in, and doing the swapping of services, or bartering items for such.

Path to Freedom is one of the first sites I ever found when looking online for resources on sustainability, urban farming, and homesteading. They are still a daily read.

This recent post of theirs details many of the techniques they've been practicing and had success with for many years. For us, this family's success in using what they have and living gently...and abundantly...right where they live, is a high-water mark for us. Please check out the post, and their site, if you haven't already. It's always informative, as well as encouraging!

I didn't want to leave a false impression that my family is not concerned with being "green." It's a label that can be so broad, much like the term "health nut." If you hear someone is a health nut, it can mean anything from eating well, to being focused on running marathons, to fasting regularly, to going bra-less and living in a treehouse...heehee. There are some things perceived as being Green that I'm not on the same page as. I don't want to pay carbon taxes, ever. I don't want to give up any of my constitutional, or personal, freedoms because someone else determines they're don't serve a "green" agenda. I'm not ready to give up toilet paper. I love my ovaries and if they ever serve to grant my husband and myself other children, I do not feel irresponsible and like that is taxing the world population. I don't ride a horse to work, and can't afford to buy another vehicle that uses less gasoline. I eat meat...just less of it till the day when we can raise our own. I don't see cows as the bane of the world food balance...I see Big Ag as such. Grassfed animals are at the top of my preference list as far as agricultural systems, and I won't ascribe to the humble cow or sheep the crowding out of wildlife and the bane of overgrazing...I ascribe that to the people who mismanage them.

I could go on and on, but in some ways, I'm greener...or maybe could be called weirder...than most folks I know. Some of my green views come from sources other than back-to-the-earth movements. Our family follows the instructions in the Torah, and there are many instructions there that we're not used to embracing...but want to. There is a prohibition against mixing "types"...as in breeding a zebra with a camel. We find this an instruction of great import in a day in which pig DNA is being combined through genetic mutilation directly into broccoli or any other number of animal/plant combinations. That is a mixing of unlike types. How can we practice not eating those, if they're not labeled? We must grow our own pure DNA foods. This is ancient "green" principle that, for my family, is a command we must keep.

Another prohibition is against mixing types of clothing materials. Strands of unlike clothing materials are not supposed to be woven together and worn. A lot of synthetic materials are made from the fusing of unlike materials, such as plant based and petroleum based. That of necessity tends us towards using natural fiber materials. Since trying to rid my closet of the synthetic things, I've found I have mostly cotton and linen clothes now...which my body really appreciates! When I have to wear my work uniform, which is to a large degree polyester, my body feels like it's screaming...it's not natural. To some, this is a really weird thing, and does it fall under the category "green"? I have no idea, but to me, it is.

In being green, I don't subscribe to a mob mentality. There is a lot of integrity within the category "green," but there are also politics and specific agendas in different arenas. I can see some things being abused in the name of Green, and one of the ones that most concerns me is eugenics. Eugenics, or the "selecting out" of those things that are weaker or diseased for the supposed survival of the masses or the "greater good," is something of great concern to me. I've heard these sometimes grouped under "green" agendas. That troubles me. Limiting the freedoms of families to determine for themselves how many children they have is another of my concerns. I understand the arguments for and against these issues, which have often been lumped under the greater category "green" when discussing worldwide issues...but those are where I exit the label. When Green becomes a religion, buh-bye. My voice is just as important in the green movement, and my concern is the preservation of individuality within our fragile yet resilient world. It's a revolution that's about returning to basic freedoms, not promoting the loss of them.

I see true "greenness" as being the earning of privilege. It's a privilege to live on this earth...it's not a throw-away resource that can be gobbled like a can of Pringles and then tossed to the curb. The domino-effect on our health and society has been rapid since the rise of Big Ag as "the answer"...um, what was the question?? We believed the propaganda, and didn't remember that "Green" to Monsanto means greenbacks/dollars, not an Eden of plenty.

Watch out for "green" as a proganda trend for the mega-corporations. They are NOT driven by a heart change..they are driven to repackage those items from China in a more palatable-to-the-conscience way. It helps their bottom line to put just enough of these items in their stores to ease the conscience of the consumer who is still for the most part still unaware of exactly what their food contains and where it came from. Watch out for these corporations because they still are a law unto themselves. They still are under-the-table dealing with impunity. We need our justice systems to work for accountability beyond the walls of lawyers these big guys can afford. It is important to hold everyone to the same standards of justice...even the megalopolies and the Monsantos...so that Green can be something not fringe, but a fundamental element of our society and its relationship to the earth that sustains its populations. It needs to be a living community as diverse as the community we find here online, where we can agree or disagree, but still work to better our world and our own square of dirt or cement. At that point, many of us who're on the fringes of an out-of-control mainstream society will not be the outsiders, but the leaders and teachers.

Green, if it was not already, is becoming a necessity for many of us, now. Hopefully, it will be an individual expression as well as a thriving community. We're in that muddle where Green is still being defined, and there are growing pains and still a lot of Goliaths for shepherd boys to face down. So, we embrace being Green. But don't pass us any Koolaid ;-)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What I Would and Wouldn't Want to Give Up

Hey, I've been tagged for a meme, yay!!

Thank you, Phelan! A Homesteading Neophyte was one of the very first homesteading blogs I ever read, and still at the top of the list. Thank you for the honor of being tagged :)

The topic is what I wouldn't give up to go "green"...

Which isn't an easy decision!

OK, here goes:

I don't think "Green" and I don't think along the lines of saving the earth. There. Pass the bowl of rotten tomatoes and I'll prepare for impact, ha!

Let me qualify that statement!

Those phrases get bandied about so often in so many different contexts that oftentimes I feel like it's a Drink-the-Koolaid situation. They cover a gamut of propositions and expectations, and I'm not ready to embrace the whole kit 'n kaboodle. Why? Because I don't perceive "being green" and saving the planet the same way as the next person does, and because I'm a staunch individualist. I don't think there's a One Size Fits All set of answers or solutions.

(You knew I couldn't keep this simple, did you??) lol

That said, I take stewardship of my little sphere, and the larger one, very seriously. I DO believe in the responsibility of sentient humans towards creation at large and within the smaller realm. In fact, I see this as one of the most important jobs we have during our lives here. But my choices may not look like someone else's, and I have inherited a world shaped by the choices of many other people with whom I don't often agree. So many of my decisons are based on UN-doing their legacy. Others are very worth preserving, or re-discovering before their memory dims or is lost entirely.

Here's what I'm willing to give up...if survival of my family depended on it:

Everything that's not immoral.

Here's what I'm willing to give up to ensure a better world for those who come after me:

A lot. And I have to confess that many of the things I think of as benefitting the world at large I also think of in terms as benefitting our family now. Or as being responsible citizens and neighbors in the larger sense. We're working on this list, since it seems that with everything we forgo, we have to ADD a skill we previously didnt have to compensate for it. We're presently doing just that...doing without one thing while trying to acquire a new skill to provide something we need, in a different and more sustainable way. In many ways, the things we're embracing are considered "green." We're doing each of these things cognizant not just of how they're perceived by others as environmentally responsible, but also how they fit into our own personal sustainability. It would be foolish for us to throw away things we already have, but we're making differen choices as we acquire anything else for the future. What we have and use are viewed now with an eye to long-term usefulness and their relation to doing things in the most natural way...utilizing more traditional ways and skills and returning to simplicity. It's a process and it'll probably always be one.

That said here are some of the things I'm reluctant to do without at present...not that I wouldnt, but I wouldnt enjoy it :

1. Air conditioning. We may have to do without this someday, but living in Florida without some way to cool ourselves is akin to putting chickens in a henhouse that's a convection oven. I step outside, and the rotisserie begins. The only way I seem to be able to bear it, presently, is to have some relief from the heat, ergo the A/C.

2. Computer. As much as I want to throw unnecessary technology (and sometimes ALL technology away), the computer has proven to be a valuable tool for us, especially the internet. It saves us trips to the library and gives us a vast menu of research choices, and accessibility to people we'd otherwise be too far away from to meet or stay in touch with regularly. It's a quick way to letter-write and journal. I can read the world news from about anywhere. I can find recipes, medicines, blogs, books, supplies. It's a great way to meet a broader community and compare ideas...and learn from others. Could I do without it? Oh YEAH. I LOVE being unplugged! But I do have to admit it's a very useful tool for right now.

3. Books. The world would NOT be a better place, to me, without these. The tradition of oral storytelling as a vehicle of preserving history and legend seems to have faded, but books preserve their voices. I love a good story! There is nothing that can satisfy the same way as a book when curled up in an armchair or in bed at night...a computer screen is little substitute.

4. Bathing. It's what we do in Florida after Basting. You live in Florida, you're basically doing what my hilarious friend Kristy calls "making gravy." Florida is the self-basting state, what with the humidity and the constant high temps. I can also say that about most of Mississippi, Arkansas and southwest Tennessee...places I know well from having lived, and basted, there. After a good slow-bake, I love me a good bath...or shower. Yes, I could survive without one. But I'd be counting the minutes till the next bath. So, in our plans for our future homestead, we aren't limiting the baths...we're prepared to use the water as greywater for our garden.

5. Other conveniences. I guess most of our primary belongings fall into this category. I could live without them. We'll forgo some of them, but I'm not sure which ones, yet. Into that category fall things such as telephone, vehicle, tools, washing machine and dryer, hot water heater (we'll do solar soon), kitchen appliances, stove. Ones I'm least likely to forgo are things we need for frugality...canning supplies, grain mill, refrigerator for milk, garden tools, fencing and animal enclosure materials. I don't see us whittling wooden pegs to use in place of nails, or splitting all our own rail fencing instead of using cattle panels or other wire thingies. We'll likely construct raised beds with concrete block. Our ages and physical condition figure into this a lot. Yes, we could sit outside our hut and eat betel nuts and yams for the rest of our lives if we had to. Maybe we'll have to? If not, I see us preserving our ability to homestead into our later years by keeping the conveniences that will not be high-maintenance, high-expense, and extend our strength beyond what it'll be as we age. We're trying to set ourselves up for frugality for the long-term...and survival. Survival is the most frugal thing we can do for ourselves, or else we're dependent on someone else.

6. Beauty. By this I don't necessarily mean Style. I've given up things like the latest styles of clothing and hair cuts, hair maintenance with expensive products, etc. We don't pay for style any more. But I love beauty, and this is important to me right up there with function. No, something does not have to conform to society's tastes to please me. But I do like some order, and I do appreciate beauty. So yes, the things that cost us in that department are going, and will have to continue to go. But there is much that beautiful that I'll nurture, and these are things such as growing flowers among our veggies, animals that are well cared for, clothes that are clean, and a house that is well-maintained. If we have curtains, they'll be the nicest ones that I can put up with what we have. Rows of home-canned fruits and vegetables, pickles and jams, are so beautiful to me. So is a loaf of home-baked bread, or a table with friends. I'll still paint paintings and want to create things for no other purpose than beauty. But what I think of as beautiful doesnt have to align itself with what others prefer, or with a current style. And I'm still trying to adjust to seeing my incoming grey hairs, which I'm not longer coloring over, in that light :)

7. Safety. Yep, I believe in being able to have a gun if we need it. I anticipate our needing it. And a couple of good dogs. I wonder if I'll be that gray-haired old granny that sits on the front porch with a shotgun in her lap, staring down the occasional sight-seer?? haha All I can say is keep your stray dogs away from our livestock in that day...

8. Indoor plumbing. Well, for me it's just a preference. I don't have to haul water for bathing and cooking, or trip over snakes on the way to the toilet. To me, it's a time-saver and a matter of comfort. But yeah, if I HAD to, I could do it the other way. Just wouldn't prefer it...

9. Certain foods that aren't local. Olives and olive oil. Certain spices. Apples. I wouldn't want to go the rest of my life without an apple pie now and then. Or chocolate.

Ok, I'm passing this meme along and and tagging these folks:

Monica at Small Meadow Farm

Pat and Steph at Bifurcated Carrots

Laurie at Slowly She Turned

Patrik at A Posse Ad Esse

Ilex at Homesteading in a Condo

Actually, I wanted to tag everyone on my blogroll (see sidebar) , so please don't be offended if you don't see your names here! If you want to post on this meme subject, go for it...I'd love to see what each person has to say on this topic :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

57 Wonderful Years

This is a happy belated post in honor of my husband's recent 57th birthday. There are so many reasons to love this man, and I'm honored to be a part of his life. Here are just a few of the things that make him special:

1. He is kind.
2. He is strong and has a backbone.
3. He loves me like crazy!
4. I love him like crazy!
5. He is a man who loves God with all his heart.
6. He challenges me to be my best.
7. He cares about our safety.
8. He values inner qualities of goodness, integrity, honesty.
9. He does not lie.
10. He loves to hold my hand.
11. We are happier together than apart.
12. He always sits on the same side of restaurant booths and tables next to me.
13. He doesn't despair or have frequent lows.
14. He prays a lot for any sort of concern, whether small or large.
15. He cares for people.
16. He is protective of his family.
17. He is not helpless and has taught himself to do so many things.
18. When faced with a wall, he climbs the wall.
19. He laughs at my cornball jokes.
20. He looks at me and I see him smiling.
21. He is a visionary.
22. He has the ability to take practical steps towards our goals.
23. He is not obsessed with watching sports or TV.
24. He loves to be working hard outside and sweating.
25. He adores children...and they adore him.
26. He is kind to animals.
27. He treats my daughter as his own.
28. He will sacrifice to help someone better themselves.
29. He is an excellent confidante.
30. He is ready to laugh and has a cheerful disposition.
31. His eyes are fabulous!
32. He has smile lines that make his whole face smile.
33. He will watch "girl movies" with me...and then balance them out with a whole lot of war movies and westerns.
34. He has an inventor's mind.
35. He is practical.
36. He still knows how to dream.
37. He is faithful and content.
38. He is an innovator.
39. He is an enthusiastic and patient student of the Bible.
40. He is good and consistent at keeping us financially on track.
41. He is a good provider.
42. He will call me on the phone just to tell me he loves me and see if I'm ok.
43. He doesn't care one whit for fashion.
44. He prefers to wear a beard.
45. His hands are strong from working, and I love the way they feel rugged.
46. He can be a fierce defender.
47. He forgives.
48. He loves growing things.
49. He loves building things.
50. He calls his mother.
51. He loves the country and simplicity.
52. He is happy being himself and doesn't feel a need to impress others.
53. He delights in God and following His laws.
54. He is not self-righteous or better-than-thou.
55. Home is the place he loves being the most.
56. He learns from the past and is not embittered by disappointment.
57. He is quick to discern people's character and does not show favoritism, and is not a bigot.

I could go on and on. But I'll just sum it up by saying that it's my greatest honor in life to be his partner, wife, and love...and I thank God for him every day.

Jack, I pray for you a long life, health, and joy in every day. I pray for you all the blessings of the Torah, and for you to be given all the desires of your heart...

I've already received the desire of mine in you.

Rain, Rain...

...stay...

...stay...

...stay...

...stay...

...stay.

It's so odd that the rain our area needs so much is just what the central U.S. has had much too much of. So far, the rains here have been nearly daily, and the plants have been bursting with growth. The thunderstorms have been wonderfully dramatic, and the raindrops jewel every surface.

Even in buckets, the rain garden is an ever-changing costume party...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Teff: An Alternate Grain

This post'll have to be quick..I'm headed to work soon.

I'm hearing a lot of mention about experimentation growing grains from home. With food prices and availability being what they are (and not appearing to be headed the other direction any time soon), we're all having to consider moving our supplier from the supermarket to our own backyards. This is comfortable for us to a point, but what about growing grains and things we'd usually buy in bulk from a larger source?

I just wanted to post something about the grain, Teff. It's something I ran across when glutting myself with gorgeous reading on native/traditional foods of Africa and the Middle East. Teff is an ancient grain with the distinction of being very low gluten. But you had me at "ancient."

What's great about low gluten? There are a lot of folks out here with a sensitivity to higher gluten grains such as wheat. My sis has recently been diagnosed with such sensitivities...some are downright allergic to gluten.

Another interesting thing is that Teff is Ethiopia's primary traditional grain...the fermented flatbread that's really more like a pancakey crepe is called Injera. It's cooked on a griddle and used by hand in lieu of a untensil to carefully pick up bites of cooked food (and it's juices)and eat them. I had some Injera at an Ethiopian restaurant, and it was served where you could use it to select bites from a communal (at your own table) dish of stewed meat or vegetables...delicious!

In reading more about Teff, it seems it's been making its way closer to home. Teff grains are not its only virtue...the plant itself makes a good fodder plant. I know it's being grown in Kansas and Oklahoma, and the brief research I've seen has shown it seems to be able to weather both wet weather and conditions as well as droughts.

I love exploring "ancient" plants, and I'm looking for some teff grains to test in our kitchen, especially to ferment some batches of Injera, which looks very straightforward and easy. The fact it's adaptable to extending the growing season and to be a good forage for livestock is an added bonus. I can see us doing a test plot soon if it's really that adaptable.

If you've had any experience with this grain, we'd love to hear from you! If you experiment with it, we'd love to hear your adventures :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Unexpected Company

The rain today had just let up, and I happened to walk by the back doors, which are windowed. I'm so glad I looked outside just then.

At first glance, at first I registered "hawk!"...but when I did a doubletake, for a second I thought it was wild turkeys. After all, you expect them...or hawks..now and then.

Then I noticed that stunning blue!


And as I observed them out my back french door, they were obviously checking our place out! Peacocks! There were five males, with no females in sight. They spent the first five minutes with their tail feathers upright, facing toward the back ditch. This is why I initially thought they were turkeys...until they turned around. Hellooooo!


The parade was beautiful. The visitors toured Bucketville, and nibbled a couple of things here and there...


They were checking out the various contents of the planted buckets...


Here's a closeup of one...look at that crown! (is that what it's called?)


This fellow was really enjoying himself. It's one of my favorite pictures...


Magnificent!!! Mr. Peacock, you take my breath away.

More parade...


Do they not personify gracefulness, with those lovely curvaceous necks?


Irridescence...


I'm not sure who he's wooing here...no hens around. But it was a really great show!

The rain began again, and they wandered off via the vacant lot next door...