Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Late, I'm Late!!! for my blog date!

I was running pell mell to keep apace with the fast-driving tractor man (MM) yesterday, This beautiful Buckeye popped out of the grass in front of me.  I flailed the camera bag off my shoulder, zipped it open, yanked out the Rebel and got this one-handed shot, as I held up my other hand, traffic-cop style and commanded MM stop.  He did...I'm sure you knew that!  But there's just a teensy bit of fuzziness around the edges of the shot, so all the chasing, and dashing, and whatever, created some challenge, not to mention breathing fast!

It was a "town day" today, but one I really liked.  I am cleaning out our old cottage and had a mountain of good stuff that I didn't want.  It's amazing how many thrift stores have opened in our little nearby town of Lewisburg!  I learned of four today, maybe five...the one I chose for a small heap of Pampered Chef kitchen stuff, was right on the way we were heading.  The people were so friendly and happy to get my gifts.  You can be sure I will be bringing more.  I was thinking, as I left the items, what a great place so shop for Christmas!  How could you do better than to pay a modest price for something nice, something that someone else (like me) had passed along to others.  Good stuff.  I believe shopping at Thrifts is one of the best ways we can help change the world.
I repeat:
Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without!

````````````````````````````
Two of my readers emailed me earlier in the week with a link to a fascinating article in the New York Times about coyotes.  For those of you following MM's and my coyote adventures, I believe you'll find it doubly interesting.
Here's the link: (you might have to paste the info below into your Browser.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/science/28coyotes.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&emc=eta1&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1285755674-fQ0BiXlEd/qy3mCOR0zNww

I wanted to make clear one thing:  MM and I are not about wholesale killing of coyotes.  We are about making enough noise that the coyotes don't want to mess with our turkeys and chickens.  We hope they'll continue their distant lives elsewhere.  The shotgun noise serves to accomplish this.  They haven't been here since the full moon.

Thank you, Miriam and Debbi!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two-Dog Night Comin' Up


It's a misty day.  Low clouds.  More rain in the forecast (hooray!).  We went over to the backside to salvage some fence posts, but other than a little effort in that direction, I think I have Fall Fever.  It's exactly the same as Spring Fever, only it happens in late September through early October.  I have this mysterious lethargy. All I want to do is watch trees.  Landscapes have become my passion.  I am enraptured with the daily changes.  I found a wooly worm today.  It was all brownish-orange. No black on it. Hmmmm...is that ominous?  I wonder....  Last years' wooly worms. I'd noticed, were all black. No orange brown whatsoever.  So, does that mean we'll have a more user-friendly winter this year?   The garden still has crisp, tasty greens of all kinds, Brussels sprouts, a few tomatoes;NOAA weather is calling for 36 degrees toward Saturday!  Need to get a couple of dogs in for the first two-dog night since last fall!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Soft and Gentle

I padded my way through the woods this morning in search of an image that would convey this soft and gentle time of year, the in-betweens of summer and fall, with cool nights, gentle breezes and gentle days...
My steps were practically soundless on the dampened path, especially compared to the sharp crackling of crisp leaves day before yesterday.  The rain has come, though not as much as we would like, of course.  The only disturbance as I walked came from a pair of woodpeckers talking to one another and arguing about which one owned a particularly scruffy, bug-riven pine tree.  Tulip Poplar leaves cascaded down around me, carpeting the ground at my feet with gold.  When the woodpeckers decided to shop elsewhere, the forest became quiet again until a squirrel overhead began to lecture me.  Everyone's got a viewpoint to be shared.   As I said, we've gotten a modest amount of rain--almost two inches. The forecast is for dropping temperatures as the week moves forward--down into the forties.  Guess I will be forced to put on those flannel sheets after all!  I think I am feeling almost weightless with the end of the garden season this year.  The whirlwind has subsided.  It's time to rest a bit before we head into winter. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays....

...always make me glad!

Finally!  The cows are getting a bath!  Same with the turkeys.  Oh, my!  I think it's called "rain" if I recall correctly...As rains go, so far, this hasn't measured up to the billing from the Weather Forecasting crew.  Last night they'd mentioned something along the lines of three to five inches...uhh, somebody needs to sharpen their measuring skills a bit  .  But let me not complain.  Some is better than none.  The pastures are a sudden-green, as if they had all but forgotten how to do green.  Brown and crisp has been the color de jour.  Marigold and Honeysuckle are clean again.  Bright white on a black background.  And today's an "inside" day for us.  MM's been needing a rest on his knee anyway, so that dovetails nicely with plans for a rainy day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Old Yeller

Last night's full moon
Welcome Autumn!  Here's that Harvest Moon-plus-one-night. 
Still into the torpor here, but it's lookin' good for some rain come Saturday and Sunday.  Temperatures are supposed to moderate considerably and we can sure use that moisture! The pastures are really dry, even to the point where it's affecting the amount of milk we are getting from Marigold, despite some grain, pears and apples for her, along with unlimited water availability.  She doesn't like grazing in this "unnatural" heat.  Once again, today, it will be 90+ degrees.  But, this should be the last of it (until the next rise). 
The coyotes paid us another visit last night.  So, at 2:00 AM you would have heard the blast of a shotgun out here JOTOLR.  It was enough to drive them off...mostly. An hour later, I heard them again, but this time they were quite a ways distant, and I went back to sleep.
Thank you everyone for the conversation, comments and visits this past week!  We're still in the midst of harvest out here JOTOLR, so blogging has been a bit hit 'n miss as far as times of posting and comments. (Will I ever improve???!!)
 Hope everyone has delightful weekend!   
See you Monday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

HOT'n COOL

It's another scorcher today.  Ninety degrees.  Records are being broken all over the map!  Things out here JOTOLR are crisp.  Out fencing yesterday, the heat was intense, but a good breeze was blowing.  The downside of that refreshing breeze is that we hold our collective breath that some idiot won't decide to burn trash.  There's no telling where a wildfire could spread, given these horribly dry conditions and a good draft.
On the other hand, last night we sat out on the porch and watched that glorious moon climb the black bowl.  Right below it is Jupiter with it's stunning brilliance.  Not many stars visible, but oh, what a joyous evening as we rocked back and simply watched, in silence,  the leaves of the nearby maple, susurrant as a cool breeze walked through. 
Life is good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bounty Beyond Belief!

Squash, anyone?  The 2010 squash season has come to an end....well, sort of.....comes now the challenge of  marketing and selling these beautiful veggies.  Wish you all lived closer so we could share!  We could handle a lot of sharing!
Now, another look at those Okra pods...aren't they beautiful!  I'm waiting for their final hurrah as they split wide open and toss the seeds everywhere (in the bowl where they're currently imprisoned!  The colors of these pods was so lovely
The growing season is winding down, albeit slowly.  The drought is in full swing here in West Virginia.  We haven't had any rain since August 25th.  And, there's nothing significant in the forecast.  Not to worry,though.  September's always the dry season of the year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Break-Out Time!

The day started peacefully enough.  
Who would have thought the animals would take advantage of us like this?  But...they did. It was a fully-fledged revolt!

Here was the first one--
This is a not-supposed-to-fly turkey in full flight at dawn.  I first saw it when it was roosting on the roof of the garage.  By the time I had my camera in hand, it had dropped down to the roof of the chicken coop and was in full flight, finding the ground as if it was meant to....fly!  It has discovered wings!  It is time for another "wing job" that will keep the turkeys here.  So, in the next couple of days, we're going to be busy catching turkeys and trimming feathers.  MM suggested that we keep track of which wing we are clipping, making sure to clip the same wing on all, so that if they decided to hold hands (wings) they won't be able to take off together...get the picture?  Oh, come on!

The next break out artists came with one cow coming into the yard, and the calf getting out of the yard.  That's because the ground has dried significantly and we have had zero rain lately.  With zero moisture, electric fences become problematic.  Translated:  they don't work!  So, we have a savvy calf and it has found the pears in the yard, along with a fresh supply of green grass.  The cow, on the other hand, was looking for entertainment and she, also, was encouraged by the dysfunctional fence.

We need rain...and not just for crops, folks!  We need more than a shower...to keep the fences working!


Monday, September 20, 2010

C'mon Geese!



It used to be a sight that would stir the heart.  Geese flying south for the winter, making their way through--and that's the key, here--THROUGH the clouds and wind and rain and..whatever...to their destination for the season, be it winter or spring.

Now, the geese "migrate" from north of town to south of town, essentially residing here permanently.  They honk a lot as they fly over each night when we're milking; they land in grassy pastures, or on farm ponds, they consume great quantities of grass and grain, they leave behind huge, slippery messes...and in essence, much as I hate to admit it, (I've always loved migrating geese) they are now pests. 

Apparently the state game department thought it would be lovely to transplant a few here in West Virginia.  That was several years back and we would practically swoon with joy to see a pair on our pond, bent on braving not only the elements, but the predators that would badger them into flying off their nest.  It was thrilling, though, to at least hope they would raise one or two goslings to adulthood.  Indeed, they managed to do just that...and a lot more! 

Today, there are hundreds and hundreds of geese on farms, on the river, in parks, all over in this region.  And this is not amusing.  I believe one should be wary of all unnatural introductions of wildlife into areas where they are not customary.  Right now, the geese belong on a flyway heading waaaaay south! Instead, they fly between farms and the river, and are simply grain scavengers. 

There was a movie made about a pilot and his small airplane that served as the "lead goose" as he trained goslings that had been hatched artificially, to regain their migratory instincts.  The movie was entitled "C'mon Geese."  It was fun to watch, but sad, too.  The poor goslings were "imprinted" with the human touch, and as a result had lost their ability to follow what should have been their natural inclinations to travel south to north and back again.  The pilot was successful, but the population explosions, now, have erased such valiant efforts to restore what nature intended.

C'mon geese!  It's time to leave!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Waiting in the Wings for a Meal

There seems to be no shortage of neighbors shopping for an easy meal, lately.  MM called to me and told me to get my telephoto and see if I could get a shot of this hawk.  I was able to push it to the 300 mm range and get this.  Having finished my shot, MM and I were chatting about it, and suddenly the chickens erupted  in a blur of squawking and running for cover under the asparagus plants.  They weren't ten feet from us, and the hawk had still risked life and limb for a meal, almost in our laps.  Amazing.  BTW, it missed.

The coyotes have returned a couple of times.  We are missing one turkey.  Not sure why or where...haven't been able to locate it, even with assiduous searching yesterday.  But all poultry is now bottled up again for nighttime, behind two electric fences.  So, we're OK on that front.

So, that's it for the week, everyone!  Thanks so much for keeping me company!  Congratulations to Vicki Lane on her 1,000th post!  She's at
And her current book is soon to be out--September 28th, I believe.  Her blog has the info on it.
Have a look!  She's a mystery writer extraordinaire!
I leave you with Tuesday's sunrise.  Isn't it incredible?  And I did not PhotoShop it!

Hope you all have a wonderfully peaceful weekend
See you Monday.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Don't Leave Home Without Them

Here are some essential tools.  When I go on a walkabout, I don't leave home without taking these three items in my pocket.  My "Jill" knife--as MM calls it, electrician's tape, and baler twine. 
I never know when I'll need to wrap a frayed end or coil up a piece of wire so it won't unroll; or tie up a dog (when the job gets sticky and the dog's confused); or lace up a temporary fence...the small emergencies are endless and these three tools are my constant pocket companions. 

Now, for the bigger jobs, I won't leave without my tool belt.  It's got nearly everything I need to fence or build.  Tape measure, even surveyor's tape; hammer, nails of various sizes and types, a few screws, fence clips, channel locks, fencing pliers....I'm good to go!

You can't quite see it, but this tool belt is definitely mine, designated by the bright pink nail polish hashmarks on the hammer handle. 

But, in case it wasn't clear as to whose tool belt it is, and "someone" was thinking of filching it, being too lazy to find their own (ahem...) one need only check the carpenter's pencil:


In case, you can't read the above, it says, "Elora's Very Own...Do Not Steal or Else...Grrrrrr!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

"Time to milk!"   MM's voice cut through the fog. 

"Already?  I just got to sleep!" 


They were at it again last night around 2:00 AM.  There was no moon.  And this time, we were truly under attack.     The electric fence was ripped to shreds not 200 feet from the front door.  From what we could "piece together" part of the coyote pack got stuck inside the fence. The cacophony was unbelievable and frightening.  Among the voices of the coyotes, were those of a large coonhound and two or three beagles.  So, the pack has grown larger with the addition of some local domestic dogs people no longer want to feed. 

There was howling and squealing and barking.  MM and I were armed with our  shotguns--MM's automatic 12 ga. and my automatic 16 ga.  MM let fly a couple of times in the direction of the sounds.  Then he had to reload.  I stood watch as he jammed more shells into the shotgun, but the sounds started fading.  He let fly with one more shot and then we both stood and listened as the noise began to abate, then trailed off into the distance.

It's possible he got a few BB's into one of the marauders.  Apparently--the evidence for it being visible this morning--some of the pack got trapped inside our electric fence.  The turkeys were on top of some lumber piles close to the house and never moved a muscle.  I could see them in the light of the flashlight after the ruckus, but it's back into the chicken coop for them tonight.

It's hard to keep your cool when canine howling is practically on your doorstep.  There had to be at least 8. 

We have a fence repair job this morning and it was too close a brush with the coyotes last night.  I was still awake at 3:30 AM.  Finally got to sleep shortly thereafter. 

All the turkeys are fine.  All the Border Collies are fine, too.  Good thing we didn't have them on stakeout last night.  They'd have had their "hands" full! 

These are true predators.  I feel like a pioneer against wolves.  I'm by nature a preservationist, a naturalist, and I am not one to kill animals because they encroach.  But I can sure empathize with settlers who had to cope, somehow, with "painters" (panthers, translated cougars) and wolves.  It was tough to defend yourself and your family and your stock. 

Early one morning several years ago when MM and I were heading for the airport in Roanoke for a flight to Chicago, a "painter" crossed our path on the way up Route 311.  It's still pretty wild up there in places, and that cat walked (in our headlights) as big as life, across the road and slipped into the mists.  MM and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Did you see what I thought I "seed?"  And they say none are here!

On the edge of wildness, here, JOTOLR.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And, We're Off...in a Herd of Turkeys!


Yesterday, MM observed that the turkeys seemed hungrier than usual.  Wading through what they've been grazing on for the past week and a half, he noticed that the grasshopper population had been considerable diminished.  There weren't the clouds of flying things apparent as there had been.  The insects had either been consumed or sufficiently terrorized to have left.  So....it was time to herd turkeys.

This is such FUN!  It's a time to work with a Border Collie to do what Border Collies do best:  crowd control.  It's such a test of the dog's ability to listen to commands and react accordingly--or not!  I'm in seventh heaven on these work duties. 

Mostly, at this stage of a young dog's life (two and a half years of age), they've got it together and such was the case yesterday.  Commanding my girl to go left, go right, go back...and intuitively exchanging "conversation" was thrilling!  It's inspiring to watch and to work with a dog that simply corrals the stock at command, rather than chasing or attacking.  

Voice controls for Border Collies come from the "old" countries--Scotland, England, Wales...where sheepherding was the anchor for the economy and farmers learned to work with dogs to bring about a relationship that benefited both dog and master.  Whistles are also used, but while I've learned to use the whistle fairly predicably (well), I favor voice commands.  Here are a few:

"Way to me" means the dog is to go to the dog's right.
"Come bye" means the dog is to go to the dog's left.
"Down" means belly on the ground or at least stop.
"Go back" means reverse direction...the dog is to go directly (straight) back from where it is and wait for a command
"Keep out" means the dog needs to go wider in it's cast
A "cast" is like a windshield wiper...the dog starts on one side and sweeps the field, clearing it of all stock and weaves back and forth to sweep.  The dog can be "downed" any time during the cast if a complete gather is not wanted.  Increments of all of these commands come into play, along with an intuitive working balance between dog and master. 

That said, yesterday was a complete success!  The turkeys got a ton of grasshoppers.  The Border Collies got a ton of experience.  Both masters got a ton of fun...and a good time was had by all.  There's only one problem:  the turkeys are quick learners and they are ready to go again...well...more than ready:  they're flying out of their pen, heading for the south field, and bent on getting another load of grasshoppers in their craw!  Both masters have other chores to do first and the dogs, having been on stakeout all night last night in the apple orchard (on deer patrol) need a rest!

Note:  my pix of Cade working are a bit sub-par.  It's difficult to work with the dog, running, coaching, encouraging...and simultaneously mind a 300 mm lens (need a tripod, really).  But, thought I'd include them anyway to give you the idea of what "work" to Cade looks like.

Cade on approach.  In this case, she is driving--that is, pushing the stock away from her on command
In this case, she is moving onto the turkeys (on command) to "fetch"--as in bring the stock to me

You must be kidding!  These don't belong here!
  These aren't cows...

What the.....?  What are these things?





 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Orange!


If there is a color synonymous with fall, it has to be orange.  Red-orange, is probably more definitive.  Yesterday, we gathered a big haul of orange.  It's called Potimarron, and Seed Savers Exchange describes it this way:

"Famous winter squash from France.  The name is derived from potiron (pumpkin) and marron (chestnut).  Very aromatic and chestnut-like in taste.  One of our all time favorites for both baking and roasting.  Nice-sized 3-4 pound fruits store well into the winter.  White seeds."

This is truly a "honey" of a winter squash.  I use it to make "pumpkin" pies, we bake it, we microwave it.  It's an all-around winner.  One of the many things I like about it is that it is generally speaking smallish.  A great choice for two people.  Some of them get a bit larger than we can handle in one meal, but they keep beautifully, even when sliced open.  And talk about sweet!  Oh, my!  One could easily become a squash addict! 

Another nice thing is you can save your seed to plant the following year, so long as you don't plant any other varieties (and that includes gourds!) That will keep you on the safe side of being able to replicate the variety.

It was a BIG haul yesterday, with a few more to come! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Flowering of Friendship...



And in my Inbox this morning, this wonderful recipe that comes via our new friends in New York, by way of Athens, Greece....see the network unfolding?  From New York to New Zealand, from North Devon, England to Genoa, Italy, from Kentucky to the Blue Ridge to the Pacific Northwest, from Arkansas to Louisiana and back again (Marlene).... and all places in between, including right next door!  What a far-flung delight you all are!  Here's a dynamite recipe for Okra as we visit that vegetable one last time this season (almost over!).  Thank you so much, Miriam! (as I turn this forum over to her):

Aunt Mary Avgorou’s Greek Okra & Tomatoes



(This is how Desma’s Aunt Mary in Athens deals with okra. We caught her in the act. The simple greatness of this recipe is that it allows okra’s amazing mucilaginity to make a neat meeting with the sweet sharp juiciness of tomato)


(We were at your farm, Elora, on a hot sunny afternoon in early September, cuz we were just visiting our friends Chris & Torula and they thought we’d like to meet you. We harvested about 1 lb of okra, and you gave us a heap of heavy ripe tomatoes, and we took it back to Sassafras and cooked it all up for a feast that night)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb okra tender enough at harvesting to admit a tiny knife with very little resistance. Wash but do not trim the top or the tip
1/3 c olive oil 1 ½ c chopped onion
3 – 4 green or red/green peppers, torn into pieces, not sliced
¼ - ½ c Coarsely chopped parsley
(Optional:   make half of it parsley, ½ of it chopped fresh oregano)
2 lbs cut up fresh tomatoes
2-3 cups tomato sauce or tomato juice
      OR canned tomatoes with sauce
Salt & pepper

METHOD

• Simmer the onions & peppers in the olive oil until they are tender add the okra, stirring off & on for 10 minutes, keep the heat low.
• Add tomatoes and juice/sauce and parsley/oregano, raise heat till it seethes, then lower to simmer and cover. Add salt & pepper


• Check regularly as it simmers for an hour or so. It’s ready to eat when the okra is tender enough to break up with a wooden spoon.


• This keeps well and is even better the next day
                               
                                                                                 From Miriam in New York

PS (Elora's note, here):  --Don't fail to check out Miriam's comment on "the gloaming" in comments on yesterday's post ...it amplifies both our diversity and our connectedness.

A Week of Friends

Just outside my window this Friday morning, I am listening to the turkeys peeping to one another as they graze back and forth in the second garden, harvesting corn, millet, buckwheat and...yes, grasshoppers (still plenty).  While they don't actually depend upon one another, they are linked by their voices as they migrate from one end of the field to the other.

I'm reflecting on what a wonderful week for us it's been!  We shared some of our winter greens seeds with a friend.  She's planted them and they're on their way (we're hoping any frost will be mostly gentle and kind). She and her husband are friends we treasure.  And it's so much fun to share on so many levels!

We made two new friends this past week!  From "deep in the city of New York" who found themselves deep in the Appalachians on our tiny farm, complements of a long-established relationship with other friends of ours/theirs.

I found a friend from high school days.  He's alive and well, and though we've missed a few beats between the time we last saw one another and now...the beat goes on via email!

And finally, we shared an early Thanksgiving dinner with still more friends and their family yesterday...a delightful occasion with wonderful homemade food and good cheer all around!
Friends....so important, so appreciated, so loved.

Who could ask for more, out here, JOTOLR!  Thank you friends, one and all. 
We are honored by your love.  It WAS indeed a "lovely" week! 
Thanks to all who stopped by.  Look for some comments over the weekend...it's supposed to be rainy...I'll believe it when I see it!
Have a restful and enjoyable weekend!  Is there football?  I'm sure my resident football fan knows the answer to that! 
See you Monday!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

In the Gloaming

How long has it been since you've used the word "gloaming?"  I'd guess it's been a long while.  I know it's not on my frequently used vocabulary list. Words, like fashions, come and go. Yet at one time, it was enough of a part of someone's vocabulary to write a very sad poem the title of which was "In the Gloaming."


So, what is "gloaming?"  Simply put, it's twilight...dusk....gentle darkening of the day. But the phrase, "in the gloaming" seems more sentient than simply attributing it to a time of day.  Lost love, fading youth, dreams denied....what depth of meaning seems contained and implied...!

This time of year, this special light--for me--becomes "the gloaming.."  Each clear evening, it turns softly yellow, then champagne-colored, then mauve...as the sun dips below the horizon and turns the cloudless sky into a canvas wash of subtle hues. Eventually, the gloaming gives way to the star-spangled bowl overhead, and the Milky Way wraps its band of beauty from mountaintop to mountaintop.

I love the slant of the light, the long shadows, hinting at the mysterious magic it visits upon us as it evolves into fall and winter when Orion will rule.  It is, for me,  the term "gloaming" that seems best to describe this quiet and reflective time after sundown.
In the gloaming, oh my darling
When the lights are soft and low
And the quiet shadows, falling,
Softly come and softly go

When the trees are sobbing faintly
With a gentle unknown woe
Will you think of me and love me,
As you did once, long ago

In the gloaming, oh my darling
Think not bitterly of me
Though I passed away in silence
Left you lonely, set you free

For my heart was tossed with longing
What had been could never be
It was best to leave you thus, dear,
Best for you, and best for me

In the gloaming, oh my darling
When the lights are soft and low
Will you think of me, and love me
As you did once long ago

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting Closer to Fall...

This was a landmark temperature a couple of mornings ago....it spells Sheet Shock.l  That's when we have not changed over from percale to flannel sheets and getting into bed when you keep the windows open for the cool air....results in YIKES!!!!!!!!!  SHEET SHOCK!!

The lower temperatures also herald the arrival of some other harvesting delights.

I love digging potatoes...HELPING to dig potatoes.  MM is the chief potato digger here JOTOLR.  It's like a treasure hunt--maybe even digging for gold!
These are Red Pontiacs.  We also grew Russet Nuggets and German Butterballs.  All three are important components of our winter sustenance!
Football (almost our single nod to television) and POPCORN!  Orville Reddenbacher's isn't as good.  This particular variety needs no butter.  It's called Dutch Butter-flavored...and by golly, it is!  Yeah, I know....we have homemade butter and yet decline to add it to popcorn?  We can, if we want...sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Our butter is soooooo good, it's hard to resist!  But, as I said, we can...just add a little salt and we're in heaven!
These are October beans.  A little early, but they're finished and ready for the pot.  We had some for dinner the other night.  Have I mentioned that we dry all the remaining "green" beans for dried beans?  We first pull the vines and put them on black plastic to dry sufficiently; pull the pods off the vines; stomp the pods to free the beans, wait for a windy day for winnowing, let the wind (or if one is impatient--a fan) blow off the chaff, and put them in a bucket for winter storage and eating.  We probably have about 5 gallons of October beans this year.  Plus some Providers (the variety of green bean we grew).
These are Hazel Nuts.  They're about the size of a quarter and this year's harvest has been a bonanza.  They're not quite ready to eat yet.  First, they need to be shelled.  Then, I bake them in a 350-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes whereupon the (very bitter) inner skin is rubbed off.  After that, they are delicious!  I make a topping for pumpkin pie that needs nuts. Same with Apple Crisp...and it's sometimes nice to sprinkle a few over baked squash....coming up!

So, we're into the last of the harvest.  Still have new mustard greens, spinach, turnips, kale, multiplier onions, parsnips, beets, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and a few tomatoes still in the garden.  The beat goes on!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plastic Revolution

I had planned to brush by the plastic topic, as I do with so many subjects that need more,  and simply go on to other less offensive jottings, today, but several of you had such interesting comments concerning your own efforts to deal with waste products and I have continuing thoughts, myself.  One of the websites I visited in connection with this topic was Plastic Debris
Although the date seems to hover around 2005, things have not changed--except for the worse.  The pictures are simply appalling.  And, of course, we've "exported" our waste mentality to the world.  Globalization includes trash.
I sincerely applaud all efforts to reduce plastric use.   By carrying and using reusable shopping bags we support focusing attention on finding solutions to the trash problem.  We are "making a statement" that says, "This is something I'm trying to deal with."  Same is true of the company-made bags and, as Vicki at Vicki Lane Mysteries mentioned in one of her recent blogs, you can find some great bags for little money (she found bags at Tractor Supply for $1 and modest change, and I rushed over to grab a few and thereby gave a modestly infinitessimal boost to TS's bottom line!

My friend, Debbi at Knit Run Repeat picked up a little tip from the checker at Kroger's when she (Debbi) --not having yet developed the habit of bringing in her own shopping bag, and had left it in the car--suggested she simply load all the groceries back into the cart, push it out to the car, load the bags directly from the cart.  As Debbi said:  "Duh!  Why didn't I think of that. In fact, I might do that ALL the time from now on!"

But let's get past what are feel-good patches on still another broken system. There are a FEW shopping bags in the photo below, and far be it from me to "diss" any attempts to modify the plastic problem.  Suffice it to say we've got a LONG way to go!  Ruta, I loved your idea of saving all the leftover plastic from a week's grocery shopping and returning to point of purchase.  I, too, have had that thought and didn't have the nerve to do it.  But you know what?  The grocery folks are in the same "plastic boat" we consumers are!  They haven't a choice, either.


There's a website U.S. Peace Army that has some interesting facets, one of which deals with the plastic problem and again, I applaud them, but one of their directives is to "dispose of plastics responsibly."  To which, I respond:  "HOW!"  Reminds me of the cartoon during the Viet Nam war in which the bearded young man marching along carries a sign which says, "End the Viet Nam war now."  A soldier marching behind the young man is also carrying a sign...that says, "How?!"  And that about sums it up, except for being an activist.

How can we BE activists against plastic?  Get some facts under your belt.  Have the courage to bring up the subject. Funds are right now being CUT for recycling programs across the country.  So it's up to us to REDUCE the amount of trash we have.  Find out what's going on in your community concerning food "waste."  Find out what funding problems your community has with recycling...mine, for example has had funds cut drastically and they've had to cancel services which used to be available.  Find out how long it takes to "recycle" glass, for example.  It will blow your mind! 
Go to:  How Long Does It Take to Decompose?   So, why do we continue to manufacture glass when there's plenty of it for recycling?  Why don't all states requrire a deposit on glass bottles?  More to the point, why aren't we paying a nationwide deposit on plastic...a certain percentage of every purchase that includes plastic of any kind, which could go toward making a viable recycling industry.   We need to be shopping with decomposition in mind and refusing to purchase what I call "compound" packaging.  There's no need for triple-wrapped.  Start asking for paper bags if you must have a bag.  Start asking checkout clerks NOT to to give you a bag.  Yes, carry your own bag and use it...beyond this, though, we need to be thinking how NOT to buy.  If you are buying meat, look at the meat counter with an awareness of how much waste there is!  And remember the humble butcher of long ago. 
Realize, too, that in other countries, that butcher still exists.  MM and I shopped for groceries in Italy.  Let me tell you, it's a far cry from our ridiculously over-packaged country.  And I haven't noticed anything in the news that say Italians are sicker than we are because of tainted food!  In fact, maybe just the opposite
It's time to fight back...truly it is.  Use your imagination to think how.  My response is not to buy at all.  Of course, everyone can't do that.  But it's time to gather some ammunition in this war, and start fighting for Mother Earth.  Wouldn't this be a justifiable war?  Think of the billions being spent against our wishes, in Afghanistan, Iraq.   Trash reduction and disposal...isn't that something we could really get behind?  How about an Armada of ships going out to the Pacific Gyre and recovering that trash and then "disposing of it responsibly."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not Quite Zero Trash

I've thought for some time that it might be worthwhile to share with you our concept of trash out here JOTOLR. After all, we are stewards of the land, and one's philosophy about trash usually centers around NIMBY (not in my back yard).  On the other hand, did you know that we are building the 8th continent (all out of trash) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?  Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but read on...
  
We don't have much trash out here JOTOLR.  But, we have some.

I'm sure you're not unaware of the incredible volume of both trash and what eventually becomes trash, the detritus of everyday living we have here in the U. S.  Packaging has more to do with the packaging industry than it does any safety concerns of the consumer; "hangability" in the stores of the carton or package; the food industry's obscession with triple-wrapped turkey slivers...you know what I mean!  And still we have the egg recalls (I wonder how the chickens feel--literally--about that.  How does one "do" an egg recall?) and the beef recalls (that's lots harder than the egg recalls), and the green onion fiasco recall, and the what-type-of-produce will be next fiasco....!

And all those plastic toys, and plastic bottles, and plastic.  Yes.  I stopped.  PLASTIC.  Lots and lots of plastic.  Along the road is all the evidence we need; however, add to that the broken-open trash bags that supposedly are awaiting the arrival of the "garbage collector" but which a whole cadre of inquistive, hungry animals beat to the punch...so we have a landscape littered with good intentions (of getting trash to the dump).

So, now comes the continent building...I'm sure you've heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Apparently some while back Oprah featured it.  It's the world's largest landfill...in the "middle" of the Pacific Ocean.  From "How Stuff Works:"

In t­he broad expanse of the northern Pacific Ocean, there exists the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a slowly moving, clockwise spiral of currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents. The area is an oceanic desert, filled with tiny phytoplankton but few big fish or mammals. Due to its lack of large fish and gentle breezes, fishermen and­ s­ailors rarely travel through the gyre. But the area is filled with something besides plankton: trash, millions of pounds of it, most of it plastic. It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.



The gyre has actually given birth to two large masses of ever-accumulating trash, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, sometimes collectively called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California; scientists estimate its size as two times bigger than Texas [source: LA Times]. The Western Garbage Patch forms east of Japan and west of Hawaii. Each swirling mass of refuse is massive and collects trash from all over the world. The patches are connected by a thin 6,000-mile long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone. Research flights showed that significant amounts of trash also accumulate in the Convergence Zone.


The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. But before we discuss those, it's important to look at the role of plastic. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans [source: LA Times]. The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic [source: UN Environment Program]. In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean [source: Greenpeace]. Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor [source: Greenpeace]. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore.

Doesn't that make you sick?  I didn't upload any pictures for this, thinking to let your imagination fill in the blanks...picturing miles and miles of.....plastic!

OK.  Back to JOTOLR.  Our biggest disposal problem here on the farm is plastics.  It is our largest single trash item and it's a killer to figure out what to do with it.  Paper, we can use as fuel for our woodstove.  Metal and glass can be recycled, (and who knows what piece of artwork could be created from such discards?) but it is the dratted plastics that foul the process of what I call, "living net." 
Broken Tractor Muffler and Corn Planter part

What is "living net?"  It means using it up, wearing it out, making it do, or doing without.  It's THINKING about how you live.  For example, when I was selling Pampered Chef and making various recipes for the business, I always had a mountain of TRASH every week.  The trash was created as a result of fake foods like Cool Whip containers, Jello Pudding boxes, plastic containers of one kind or another, refrigerated cresent rolls, French bread--all in tubes with metal ends and (at least) paper sides, metal cans of stuff...figure three shows per week...my trash was horrendous.    

I didn't realize HOW horrendous this burden was until I stopped selling PC.  When I stopped, my trash load went to practically zero.  Explanation:  the "great American, Living-Right diet has lots of trash imbedded--more ways than one!

As of now, MM and I visit the landfill twice a year on free days to dispose of those items we can't otherwise get rid of.  I have some guilt about this.  But society doesn't offer me an option.  I am trapped into dumping even that small portion, on somebody else--that somebody else is poor Mother Nature.  It'll be down there, somewhere.  It's something I cannot control

I do the best I can, though.  I don't even buy trash BAGS!  For what little trash we produce out here, I use the dogfood bags.  They're paper.  Already used.  Easy to stuff into a garbage receptacle. And, they hold a lot..of paper.  Sometimes, though, we're forced to purchase the now-plastic woven dogfood sacks.  Here again...we're put in the position of (1) using plastic (2) having a disposal problem (3) feeling guilty (4) dumping on Mother Nature.
Dogfood Sack is the Perfect Trash Bag--no plastic


OTOH, we have zero food "garbage" out here JOTOLR.  EVERYTHING we don't eat--including bones (which get pressure-cooked for broth, then cycled to the dogs; all food refuse goes to the pigs or the cows--windfalls are bruised apples and they are especially welcomed by Marigold and Honeysuckle; corn cobs, squash skins, extra whey from making cheese, soured milk, even extra veggies from the garden...all of it...is passed on to whatever will eat it with no guilt.  We have no food trash.  There's a way to use it all.
Past Their Prime Cucumbers = Piggy Paradise!
We accumulate enough trash of otherwise indisposables to fill two of these twice a year.

What does this mean?  Leading a life of self-sufficiency requires that we think about what we accumulate and what we must dispose of.  After all, we don't want to live in a trash dump, either!  So we have to plan ahead and be conscious of refuse and its place in our lives.

As for the country and the world?  It seems to me that we need a serious investigation of just how we are dealing with trash, and packaging and food "waste."  And, isn't it about time we started regulating packaging and other merchandise to limit trash?  For example, you know these little storage containers you buy for so cheap for leftovers?  The PLASTIC LIDS on them are NOT interchangeable.  That's ridiculous!  Every time I buy four, I have a whole 'nother bunch that don't mix and match!  This is really stupid!

How many jobs could be created in the waste management industry if we were to deal with this out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality and tackle our trash. 

Let me know what you think!











 







Friday, September 3, 2010

That Was the Week that Was

This past week has been a potpourri of things that make life what it (wonderfully) is, here JOTOLR.  The turkey turnout has occupied much of our time, as we trained them--yes, they learn!--to make a complete circuit of our four-acre enclosure (by installing a large complement of woven electric fencing), and not live on our porch!  They have been a novelty and we've actually enjoyed the experience of knowing these partly wild, mostly tame birds.  Their experience, too, has grown.  They survived a hawk attack on Wednesday by diving into the remaining stalks of corn!  We heard the big gobbler sound off to his flock, and we both ran to help him as MM saw a swirl of wings making toward the woods.  An opportunistic raptor had paid us a call.

For me, the week has been a tomato week--salsa, chutney, tomatoes and more tomatoes..
all, now, in jars and waiting for a snowstorm where it will all warm us to the core!  Of course, I dream!  The temperature's forecast to be in the low 90's AGAIN today!

Ruta asked me to show a view of our storage....it's hard to show hundreds of jars, but a partial view of our basement shows a few jars of the produce from many hours of work...




And the Morning Glory is just about to give over and re-seed itself for next year, but I still cannot resist it!

And, finally...the end of the week!
Where did it go?!
Thank you so much for your company!  You are all a treasure!  I can't begin to describe how you've enriched my life!  That's it until Monday!  See you then!