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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Contest:Win a GC!

Farm & Garden has a contest running right now. The prize is a $75 gc to High Mowing Seeds.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lucy & Eugene get a DVD Player (finally)

I got package full of interesting DVD's from my brother for the Christmas/solstice season, 5 in all.

But we did not have a DVD player with which to view them so we went to Richmond and got a Coby™ DVD player from REX for under $31 (including tax).

Long time readers of this blog may remember that in November 2005 we had a visit from my brother Scott and during that visit, among other things, we bought a DVD player from the local Wal-Mart box store. It turned out to be a very evil DVD player (See My weekend... & Purging the Evil for the story about the last DVD player and all the ensued) so it was returned (partly because the TV we had at the time was too old for DVD players, partly because the damned thing seemed to be cursed).

now that we have a much newer TV we can now use DVD player technology and we had been discussing buying a DVD player for a couple of months (since we got Fran's TV). When we got the package of DVD's in the mail we figured it was a sign to go out and purchase one.

And so we did.

We decided to buy at REX because it is a local company (based out of Dayton, OH) and also because it had cheap players whereas Wal-Mart had them for about $90 and HH Gregg was not much cheaper. All we wanted was the most basic unit we could find and REX had that unit. It was so basic we opted to pay five bucks more for one with an LED display. The sales guy answered all our questions but warned us that this unit played on DVD-/RW disks and DVD+/RW disks. But he also assured us that the DVD+/RW disks are almost never used.

So we drove home happy with our new purchase.

We get home and I find the DVD's my brother sent and damn it to hell, all but one was a DVD+/RW. So without reading the specs on the DVD player box we start planning the return of yet another DVD player. At least this time no pets were dead on the road or furnishings stuck where they ought not to be. but before we get too far in our return the DVD player plans I wander over to the box and read the specs and find out the unit will play DVD+/RW disks-Yay!

While I cook dinner, Eugene hooks up the player to the TV set and by 8pm we are watching one of the DVD my brother sent. we put in man on the Moon, about Andy Kauffman. We get the menu screen with sound and color and everything so we know we have the thing hooked up correctly. press play and get the movie itself but no sound. I figure out how to get English subtitles so for a while we can read along. but it ain't the same as listening. So we try this is Spinal Tap and with that we get a strange voice over of the band in recent years describing the "documentary", strange. I am curious to see what other surprises await us with the DVD's. Still have Heathers, the History of Violence (which I have not seen) and American Splendor (another one I have not seen and I hope is watchable because I have wanted to see this since it came oout about 18/24 months ago. It's about a guy named Harvey Pekar and I have a friend named Pekar but I do not believe they are any relation).

That is our most recent adventure involving electronics.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

festivus time

While not making Christmas cookies I found myself surfing blogs and found a great festivus post over at Slowly She Turns..

I had forgotten all about Festivus despite several stories on NPR the past 2 weeks

My grievances are as follows:

Any and all news stories that involve puppies or kittens or small children or women riding mopeds who end up in wells or storm drains and are not from the area covered by local news should be banned from the airways

I am on the do not call list so telemarketers quit calling me

People who drive while talking need to have their vehicles taken away. either drive or talk but not both

The Ohio smoking ban is simply stupid and unenforceable. Not to mention it is prohibiting a legal substance from being used on private property.

Anything Bush has done in the past year pisses me off. Same with Cheney

I buy raw milk but why do I had to fill out a 14 page contract to buy it legally. Why do I have to do this for a pure product but milk that is factory farmed and pumped full of drugs is sold over the counter? Pisses me off!

This fear leading to hatred of Muslim Americans pisses me off. Hey we are all human beings here!

I have a real problem with Industrial organics. More so if they are being sold by Wal-Mart

Ads in movie theaters. I do not go to many movies (maybe 1 a year) and this trend of commercials in the previews is sick and wrong. I pay good money to see a movie ad free.
Now I do not have an unadorned alumunim pole set up not any dinner planned. And I probably will not do feats of strength (unless with Nate the dog).

But to those of you who will respect the entire ritual I bid you a Happy Festivus

It's Not Too Late...

You stop by to read this blog at least once a week. You really like what you encounter (or you would not return, unless of course you a masochist...) so why not show your appreciation by donating a gift to Heifer. It would mean a lot to me if you did...

Oh and it makes a really nice stress free gift. It's so incredibly simple to do, just click on the box to your left and the magic of the web will take you to the page you need to do the rest. In under 5 minutes you can be all done with your Christmas shopping and you will not be giving that gift that will either be returned, re gifted next year or landfilled. Nor will this gift involve the depletion of resources or involve slave child labor. As a matter of fact, your gift to Heifer will prevent more of these evils from happening around the world.

What better way to honor a loved one than this?

Game Time

Here's some winter fun for those of us who like to smack penguins about.
Yeti batting Penguin game

Thursday, December 21, 2006


On the last day of autumn I saw a family of bluebirds cavorting about some hoophouse supports and a ringed necked pheasant that for some reason was hanging out in the south lawn by the chain linked fence. Upon seeing Us humans and the dogs, it flew over to the tall grass and weeds and disappeared from sight. I did not realise they are as big as a chicken and sound a lot like one too

Happy Solstice Everyone
May the Gods and Goddesses grant you a swell new year.


Question: Which father pays for a lesbian wedding?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dinner Tonight is Local

For dinner tonight I will be making pastured raised pork chops that I bought this past Saturday at the farmers' market in Oxford, OH raised by the Filbrun family. I believe I will sautè them and serve them with homemade applesauce, some cabbage sautèed with onion and garlic and perhaps some roasted butternut squash (all raised here on the farm) Dessert will be Brownies with walnuts that will be served with locally raised raw milk from the Streits.

The day before winter and we are easily eating mostly locally raised food. Eating in season does not have to boring and is far safer and tastier than buying possibly tainted meats and veggies from the industrial food stream. I do a lot of canning and freezing of things that hate cold weather and will not store for more than a few weeks like zucchini, tomatoes, melons, bell peppers, green beans, peas, etc.. As well as growing storage items such as garlic, onions, squash, carrots, taters, etc.. And let us not forget the winter garden under plastic that gives us leafy greens such as kale and spring mix most of the winter. You can see we have done a great deal of prep to have food available all winter. It is a lot of work but well worth the effort in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Seed Ordering

Heirloom Red Ruffled peppers, one of the kinds of seeds we save

It's seed ordering time at the farm. This annual ritual (okay we do this more than once a year because we always either forget something or run out of something but...) marks the beginning of brand new shiny season where everything is perfect and nothing has gone wrong yet. of course things like weather, animals, diseases, etc will rear their ugly heads in the future but for now all is perfect and good.

The seed order is where a great deal of our money goes. Even though we save a lot of our own seeds we will still spend several hundred dollars on our order. The reason we do not save all of our seeds are numerous. Some are just too difficult to do. I have tried saving broccoli seeds but they always come out sterile for me. Some we do not have a good way to isolate the parents so we do not get a mixing of genetics (this includes melons and squash, though we do save some zucchini seeds that we grow out in early spring). Some varieties we buy are hybrids and while hybrids do make viable seed it will not be pure and therefore we do not know what will come up the following season.

This year I am facing a problem of losing several favorite hybrids such as fat n' sassy peppers and superstar white sweet onions. This is due to Monsanto buying out Semenis Seeds and the aforementioned varieties (along with something like 15 others we used to grow) are now owned by Monsanto, a company I will not knowingly support. So I am dropping these varieties and have to find replacements. the onions will be pretty easy as there are some great open pollinated sweet onions out there such as Siskyou Sweet and Ailsa Craig, though neither is a white sweet onion.

The good thing for me is the fact Fedco Seeds has been a leader in this "do not buy Monsanto seeds" deal and in their 2007 catalogue have clearly marked the questionable seeds (by discontinuing them) and, for many, have found good substitutes. the other catalogue we use, Johnny's Selected Seeds, still carries all the Monsanto/Semenis varieties even though they, like Fedco are anti-GMO. But I assume their reasoning is that despite the current ownership of certain varieties, these are wonderful cultivars and should still be offered to growers who want them. This makes it hard for me not to buy certain varieties such as Fat n Sassy, which, so far I have not found a replacement for. Last year I trialed Ace pepper but did not like the size, shape or taste and it was a poor seller too boot. I have found a variety called Orion which looks like it might be comparable to Fat n' Sassy. there is also a variety called x3r Red Knight that looks good and because it is in both catalogues is not a Monsanto owned seed (Orion might be as it is in Johnny's only).

Yesterday I did an inventory of the seeds we have and with Eugene we wrote down about 3/4 of the seeds we will be ordering from Fedco. Still have to get the Johnny's order started and that is the plan for today-to get to the point of filling out order forms. We have to have the Fedco order in by Jan 4th as we order with a group of folks and that is the deadline for the group. We have no deadline for Johnny's but i have found if we are ordering onion seed the earlier we get the order in the less likely we will have those seeds put on back order (a very bad thing because onions need to be planted as early as possible and we like to get them started inside by mid January. If they go on back order we may not get the seeds until mid April when they are no longer any good to us) or find them sold out.

I mentioned we do save a lot of our own seed. Most of the seeds are either tomatoes, lettuce, beans or peas with a few peppers and leafy greens in the mix too. We also have a lot of butternut squash seed which we can successfully save because we rarely grow any other squash that will cross with butternut (some day I will write an entry on the sex life of winter and summer squash but not today). Oh yeah and some eggplant seed that likely did cross with the other eggplants and will give us some interesting fruits. Actually we have a lot of squash and melon seeds because Eugene loves saving seeds from such fruits despite the fact he refuses to isolate these crops properly for seed saving. So Eugene's seeds are generally a genetic cocktail of really interesting but not sellable results. This past season he planted zucchinis from seed he had saved and I think all 5 varieties of zukes were represented in new and wonderful shapes and colors. but while the squash were really beautiful they were not great eating and not what we expected. And when you garden for a living you really need expected results for most things.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So What's the Big Deal?

December 18, 2006

"A National Pattern of Disregard"
So What's the Big Deal, If Wal-Mart Makes a Mistake?

That was the question asked by the host on a recent Public Radio
call-in show. Her question to her guest from the Cornucopia Institute
was in regard to recent charges that Wal-Mart was passing conventional
grocery items off as USDA certified organic.

A mistake? I doubt it. Seriously, think about it, you start a big push
in marketing a new line of high profit products and one of the first
things you do is mislabel your products, "accidentally"? As Jim
Hightower would say "Do they think we were born with sucker wrappers
around our heads?"

Ever since Wal-Mart announced earlier this year that they planned to
greatly increase their organic offerings at a cost of only ten percent
more than their conventional foods, those of us who grow organic food
have been skeptical.

Now it appears our skepticism was well placed. I personally felt the
worst we might expect would be imports of cheap "organic" food from
China, but hey, why not go for the gold, just sell conventional food as

There was much excitement about Wal-Mart expanding their organic sales
and how it would do so much to help organic farmers, huh? did Wal-Marts
entrance into the conventional grocery business help conventional
farmers, did their profits go up? Hardly, but it did put lots of small
grocery stores out of business and certainly added more black ink to
Wal-Marts multi-billion dollar bottom line.

In its short history as an organic retailer Wal-Mart is already under
scrutiny for sourcing its organic milk from a factory scale dairy that
is under investigation by the USDA for failing to comply with federal
organic regulations. It would also appear that they have no qualms
about selling organic produce from China as long as it's cheaper and
more profitable than sourcing from the U.S, but then Wal-Mart is an old
hand at offshore sourcing, just ask the U.S textile industry they
helped ruin.

I wonder if a Wal-Mart mistake was the reason 1.6 million women have
joined in a civil rights lawsuit against Wal-Mart? This action, now the
largest class-action lawsuit in history charges Wal-Mart with sex
discrimination in pay and promotions.

When an Oregon jury found Wal-Mart guilty of systematically forcing
workers to work overtime without pay, the evidence obviously pointed to
more than just a "mistake" on the part of Wal-Mart.

On ten separate occasions the National Labor Relations Board has ruled
that Wal-Mart broke the law when it fired union supporters. A mistake,
or are they just slow learners?

"A pattern of national disregard by Wal-Mart" was how Connecticut
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal described the company's adherence
to environmental protection laws. More mistakes, or just their way of
doing business?

In Wal-Marts tightly structured business model everything is controlled
down to the temperature and in-store music) from the head office in
Bentonville Arkansas. The home office knows exactly whats going on in
the stores and they certainly didn't become the worlds largest retailer
by making mistakes.

Everyday Low Prices, the Wal-Mart slogan, wins the hearts of many
because "poor people can afford to shop there". Those low prices are
kept low by the exploitation of international sweatshop laborers,
driving competitors out of business and paying their associates wages
so low they must turn to Medicaid for health insurance and often buy
their cloths at Goodwill.

Wal-Mart does have a history, a history of low wages, union busting,
sweatshop exploitation, discrimination and doing whatever it takes to
make a profit. So what's a little mislabeling? Like many of their
business practices, a big mistake, but their most consistent mistake is
thinking they can get away with it.

A caller to that same radio program asked the guest why he was picking
on Wal-Mart. While the guest correctly focused on examples of Wal-Marts
unethical and illegal behavior, in particular their flouting of organic
standards, my answer would have been shorter, we're not picking on
them, they're picking on us.

JIM GOODMAN is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc Wisconsin

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holiday Winter market

Did the December edition of the Oxford Farmers' Market Winter market and it was a fine one indeed!

Unlike last year, we had a lot of leafy green things to sell along with things that store well like winter squash, garlic, carrots. Plus the fact we are having a much warmer than normal late fall has meant we have lots of cold loving crops.

I wanted to take some pictures of the market to post but we were simply too busy selling for the two hours the market is open. We sold out of many items we brought and most everything else sold well. We opted to not open the store today because we don't have a whole lot of most things except garlic, dried herbs and some winter squash. It was an intense market.

And a fun market too, as we are now into Chanukah and it is of course the Christian Holiday season. So everyone was festive and happy. It did not hurt one bit that the weather was beautiful-sunny and around 50˚F. Unreasonably warm but a welcome thing if you are selling freezable produce outside in December. We got to see a lot of people got many hugs and even got some Solstice presents (I'd say Christmas presents but not everyone who gave us presents at market is Christian but we all celebrate the solstice and return of the sun). One woman who has been a long time customer told me my comments about Heifer International in the email newsletter I send out to anyone who signs up (this is more for local people) inspired her to donate to them. Need more people like her and that can be you by simply clicking on the box in the sidebar.

So we came home happy-we sold lots of food, meaning two things:1) we have some cash on hand and 2) we are not faced with what to do with too much kale, cabbage, broccoli, spring mix, etc., for a few days. What we have been doing with the bounty is eating a lot of greens every day which has got to be good for our bodies. I remember this time last year craving kale and chard and having to buy chard at the grocery. BTW Kroger has far and away higher quality produce than Wal-Mart, especially when it comes to kale. But if you have the choice of buying kale grown by Boulder Belt that is the far better choice. Kroger kale is edible but nothing to write home about the 2 times I bought Wal-Mart kale I ended up throwing out most of it as it was horrid. This year we have kale and Lucy is a happy camper.

I see my dough for snickerdoodles should chilled and so I end this entry on that note

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Still Awake

It's now 3:57pm. I have been awake with no nap for over 12 hours-woof!

It's a warm sunny day and by warm I mean it is almost 60˚F and it is the middle of December. Gotta love the el Nino effect on SW Ohio. We get dry warm winters when there is a strong el Nino this time of year.

This is good for our winter gardening. This means the ground will not freeze badly if at all and that means plowing and tilling can be done in January and February. This means the things in hoophouses will grow very well. We have some nice spring mix that will be cut tomorrow for the farmers' market this Saturday. This is good since the older spring mix beds that were not in a hoophouse got pretty nuked by the combination of high winds and snow followed by bitter cold. The lettuce and other greens are still alive but a lot of the leaves are pretty burned and thus not very usable. I am hoping there is some arugula that is usable as Eugene, for some reason he cannot explain, did not plant any arugula with the lovely spring mix in the hoophouse. Arugula is pretty darned important in my spring mix mix, it's a much duller salad without it.

Ah c'est la vie.

puzzles in today's Dayton Daily News are repeats from yesterday. I did some house cleaning this morning. Discovered the crossword and SudokuHmmmph!
Lightly weeded the spring mix so it would be ready for harvest tomorrow. Ate lunch-PB&J sandwiches, bananas in vanilla yogurt and a big cold glass of ovaltine and raw milk. Than went to Eaton to get more hangers for the gutters that Eugene is putting up today. Got some clamps for the Montero muffler (the Montero is my 1986 Mitsubishi Montero, the 1st SUV ever made. It is a small tidy vehicle, nothing like the behemoths of today) at TSC because the Auto Zone place was out of them. And dog licenses at the court house (I love the Preble County Court House). Despite living in a very rural county Homeland Security decided there might be terrorist threats at the PC Court House. This means there is a deputy Sheriff stationed at the door and you have to walk through a metal detector and if you have a bag or purse it goes through the x-ray machine. A bit of big city paranoia in small town America. Gotta love it. Got the dog licenses. $28 for two dogs. It was not too long ago it was $7 per dog. Now Arlo and Nate are legal for 2007.

Eugene is busy hanging gutters, something that should have been done last fall but we had a porch and roof to paint because our old insurance people said we had to. The roof took a lot of time and because I have a morbid fear of heights I was zero help in the roof painting project. If I get up on a roof I have an extremely hard time moving or getting back down so I avoid roofs when ever possible. So it took Eugene something like 8 weeks to get it done (look at the Oct and Nov 2005 archives for the full story). the night after he finished the roof it started snowing and did not quit for about 5 weeks than when it did warm up farming got in the way (he had 150 beds to open up last winter) so the porch and eaves did not get a final coat on them until this fall when he quit farming for the most part for the season. Two weeks ago everything was ready to receive the gutters 'cepting the weather which got windy than cold. But now we are unreasonably warm and the gutters are going up.

When we got back home from our errands I made an appointment to get some periodontal infection dug out of my gum and to get an implant screwed into my jaw. 6 months ago I had a horribly infected tooth pulled and that is why I am getting an implant. The tooth next to the horribly infected tooth was also infected but instead of the infection going into the tooth it went into the gum along side root of the tooth. So on Jan 10th at 4pm I get to go and get that checked out and likely will get the infection out at that visit and than 2 weeks later get the implant or at least get fitted for the implant. The woman I talked to assured me it would be almost painless. My dentist tells me it will be about as painful as getting my gums flayed open (which is what they do to you if you have to have a full born periodontal cleaning. It is not as fun as it sounds. Been there, done that. Makes a filling with no Novocaine seem like a day at the beach). I do not know why I pay people a lot of money to put me into exquisite pain in my mouth but I do. I guess to save my teeth and health. A sick mouth will lead to a very sick to dead body. A healthy mouth means good health for the rest of the body.

Now I am thinking about what to have for dinner. Could always go to Taco Bell and eat some e-coli laced lettuce (Or is it the beef? Or is it the tomatoes? Or is it the food system?!). Or I can make something here that will cost less, taste better, be far more nutritious and not be full of pathogens rampant in the industrial food system.

Geminid Fun

Got up at 3:30 am to watch the Geminids at their peak and I must say it was worth getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

Got up dressed in the dark, got downstairs and turned on a light to make coffee. Eugene got up a few minutes later and stumbled down the stairs. We got coats on and went out to see what we could see. After turning on lights it was not much for a couple of minutes. But soon enough our eyes adjusted and we started seeing shooters. I'd say the rate between 4 and 5:15am was around 100 an hour. We lost count at 25 and I'd say we ended up between the two of us seeing at least 100.

They were not the fireballs I had hope to see but did see a couple of dim twin shooters (both times coming out of Gemini, funny how that works). It was certainly no meteor storm (we got one of those about 4 years ago and it was amazing) but it was a great meteor shower.

Now I feel like I haven't had any sleep. Looks like there will be napping to be done this afternoon, if not before. I don't think there is enough coffee in the world to prevent a nap today

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Best Meteor Shower of the year TONIGHT

"It's the Geminid meteor shower," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, Alabama. "Start watching on Wednesday evening, Dec. 13th, around 9 p.m. local time," he advises. "The display will start small but grow in intensity as the night wears on. By Thursday morning, Dec. 14th, people in dark, rural areas could see one or two meteors every minute."

The source of the Geminids is a mysterious object named 3200 Phaethon. "No one can decide what it is," says Cooke.

The mystery, properly told, begins in the 19th century: Before the mid-1800s there were no Geminids, or at least not enough to attract attention. The first Geminids appeared suddenly in 1862, surprising onlookers who saw dozens of meteors shoot out of the constellation Gemini. (That's how the shower gets its name, the Geminids.)

Astronomers immediately began looking for a comet. Meteor showers result from debris that boils off a comet when it passes close to the Sun. When Earth passes through the debris, we see a meteor shower.

For more than a hundred years astronomers searched in vain for the parent comet. Finally, in 1983, NASA's Infra-Red Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) spotted something. It was several kilometers wide and moved in about the same orbit as the Geminid meteoroids. Scientists named it 3200 Phaethon.

Just one problem: Meteor showers are supposed to come from comets, but 3200 Phaethon seems to be an asteroid. It is rocky (not icy, like a comet) and has no obvious tail. Officially, 3200 Phaethon is catalogued as a "PHA"—a potentially hazardous asteroid whose path misses Earth's orbit by only 2 million miles.

If 3200 Phaethon is truly an asteroid, with no tail, how did it produce the Geminids? "Maybe it bumped up against another asteroid," offers Cooke. "A collision could have created a cloud of dust and rock that follows Phaethon around in its orbit."

This jibes with studies of Geminid fireballs. Some astronomers have studied the brightest Geminid meteors and concluded that the underlying debris must be rocky. Density estimates range from 1 to 3 g/cm3. That's much denser than flakes of comet dust (0.3 g/cm3), but close to the density of rock (3 g/cm3).

So, are the Geminids an "asteroid shower"?

Cooke isn't convinced. 3200 Phaethon might be a comet after all--"an extinct comet," he says. The object's orbit carries it even closer to the Sun than Mercury. Extreme solar heat could've boiled away all of Phaethon's ice long ago, leaving behind this rocky skeleton "that merely looks like an asteroid."

In short, no one knows. It's a mystery to savor under the stars—the shooting stars—this Thursday morning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Easy Giving to Heifer

Heifer Interntional asked me if I would help them raise money to do their good works using my blog and I said YES. But I need your help.

It's simple-click on the box to the left that has the thermometer and a big number on it. That will take you to my campaign page where you can make a donation and help me towards my goal of $1500.

I get absolutely no compensation for doing this. I am doing this because I believe strongly in the work Heifer does to alleviate poverty and hunger in the world. They do so much more than simple handouts, they give families and communities a real path out of starvation and poverty by providing livestock, plants and training to people and communities around the world.

Give a little or give a lot, any amount helps.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Killing the CSA

A few weeks ago the Free Will Astrology in the Sunday Dayton Daily news told me I would have a complete change of heart about something I really believed in. This being astrology outta the paper I thought to myself, yeah...right.

The next day I was reading a post on the marketing section of Garden Web about CSA and how ATTRA polled a lot of CSA farmers and CSA shareholders and found the two had wildly different ideas about CSA. farmers see CSA as a way to market, sure. But more importantly as a way to connect people with their food and a farm by getting them to interact with the farm. CSA members, on the other hand, see CSA as a way to support local farms by buying shares and picking them up at a drop point with little/no interaction the farm or farmer.

This has been my reality with CSA for the past 10 years (with the exception of year 3 when we had 5 members and all 5 were huge into participation and came out several times a week to help work and came to all the potlucks and other on farm events. Of course, every one of these folks moved out of the area that fall/winter so none rejoined the next season). I want a CSA that will connect the members with the soil and the members basically want a delivery service. For many years I tried to make this work in my mold and I was basically hitting my head against a wall. I would require some sort of on farm participation and would get fewer and fewer people rejoining each year because everyone wanted less interaction with the farm and more convenience. So around year 5 we started delivering the shares to remote drop points and farm interaction swiftly went away. By year 7 I could not get any members to even come to a farm dinner and this past season (year 10) I decided that if I was going to deliver I would charge dearly for that convenience because I really feel that CSA members need to see the farm where their food is grown.

So 3 weeks ago I had a talk with Eugene, who has never been very high on the CSA idea, about killing Boulder Belt CSA and he was into the idea. And after having only one member for 2006, who chose to pay a hefty price for delivery so he would not have to have any interaction with the farm, I decided it was time to put Boulder Belt CSA out of its' misery.

2 weeks ago I deleted the CSA from my Local Harvest Store and this afternoon I deleted the CSA page and all links to it on my website. It took all of 3 seconds to delete the page. It's kinda sad and kinda freeing. Yesterday I went around the web to various sites that allow free farm pages and deleted the CSA from several of those. But I am sure there are a few I have forgotten about and there is at least one I cannot update but in time Boulder Belt CSA will be gone from the net.

Bye bye CSA maybe I will visit you again some day. But until than, I will put the energy I was throwing at the CSA into the farm store and the farmers' markets

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A New Look

I decided to try out NEW Look for the blog today.

Too brown? Does this mean I'm in a brown mood (wot ever that means)?

I do like the side bar being on the left and I think it is more readable. But I also think the posts are too close together. not enough space or other things separating different posts. perhaps having fewer post showing up in the page will help this out.

What do you think?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Buy Nothing for Christmas

For those of you who want to buy nothing for Christmas click on the picture to find out more. Personally, as I have already said, I will buy a few things for x-mas but they will be locally and naturally made and the bulk of the money spent on this holiday goes to charity. We would all be better off if we did not put so much emphasis on the consumerism of this season and so little on the fact this is one of the big Christian Holy Days. Just think what the Christmas season would be like for millions if they did not pressure themselves to go to malls and Buy, Buy, Buy! They would have far less debt and far less stress and would probably be far happier people.

And why have the Jews never really bought into the consumerism with Chanukah. I mean an 8 day festival should mean a cash cow to the corporations. I guess the Jews are more religious than the Christians and have kept their festival of lights a pretty much purely religious event and not the commercial event Christmas has become. Same with Kwanzaa which is also a multi-day religio-cultural affair and yet it is not a multi-day commercial event.

I guess there are many 'Murkin Christians who are just not very religious and can be swayed easily by bright pretty colors and lights. And the multinational corps such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Old Navy, JC Penny's, The Gap, Nike, LL Bean, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Citibank, etc., would have it no other way. They love it when Americans over spend and go into deep debt for no good reason. Your deep debt equates to their huge profits.


A Rebuttal to NBC's Biased Organic Segment

This is my brother Scott's reply to NBC's segment on organic chicken being more contaminated than conventionally raised without broaching the 1001 other issues we face with agriculture. NBC's simplictic organic has more bacteria according to one small sample and therfore industrial chicken must be better/safer. Anyhoo, my brother's take on this.

Those annoying radiclibs* touting the virtues of vinegar as the answer to clean their libertine filth when we all know they need a bath in Clorox straight up. Now they want you to be nice to an industry that refuses to advertise with you. Unfair! But I'll tell you this much, When the rising price of oil makes the cost of fertilizer and fuel intensive farming, processing and distribution too high for for affordable food, with intrepid reportage such as the Today Show is capable of, we'll hold the course not to invest in local sustainable economies because that would just encourage them to continue not to use your vox populi (a service, that is, by the way, so reasonably priced for the deserving sponsors 'Americans need to hear most' (TM) and so sugared with compelling socially conscious programming).

What are they griping about?! Don't they know if the death rate from pesticide induced cancers or infant mortality went down, our population growth would look like Sudans! That's where the the Darfur region is? Hmmm. Well they probably (when they have food at all) are forced to eat organic. This just proves my point. Anyway, it's so boring TV, all those browns and tan, against stark blue skies especially those earnest appeals (yo Mr. Clooney., Whassup with that?) to acknowledge legions of starving innocents stuff makes a mockery of the pleasantness of our (well at least your) world that could be shown instead, it's just about as lame (and unAmerican) as a PSA to eliminate bread from our diet. This is not to mention that conventional farming contributes to the the obesity and neurological conditions
and a host of other maladies manifest from chemical contamination (from ingestion, handling and food chain accumulation from run-off), and lack of nutritional value from vegetables grown in mineral depleted soil, that will also contribute to weed out the weakest and most undesirable to, among other social solutions, give exurbia back to to those McMansion moguls who fought so hard to create it.

It sucks that a only a slightly elevated incidence (from the purest research that I'm sure had no financial incentive to be biased, right?) of bacterial contamination is reported when organic food is compared to conventionally grown. It's time to become motivated and haul out the yuck factor: compost, soiled clothing, manure, and hand painted signs. And they want to do it in your back yard!

I admire your courage in sticking to your corporate bottom-line to maximise
profit by coercing consumers purchasing habits in face of the ever-present
pressures of fairness and truth

Sincerely, Scott Owsley

*(S. Agnew circa 1970)

Have a Heifer Christmas

I have finished most of my Christmas shopping simply by giving money to Heifer international, an NGO that gives livestock and training on how to husband the animals to the poor people of the world so that families can feed themselves and eventually feed their villages when their animals reproduce and add more animals to the area.

For the past 5 years my family (me, my 2 siblings and my dad and Step-mom) has pooled money to donate to heifer. In the past, we have bought bees, geese, goats, llamas.

This year we bought a water buffalo for a family in SE Asia. That Buffalo, if it is a cow, will provide milk for the family, plow fields and pull a cart and will eventually have offspring the family can give to other villagers (which is a part of the agreement with heifer, when your animals start to reproduce you are to give the extras away to others in need in your area until everyone has enough and there is surplus to sell on the open market).

This year my brother bowed out of Christmas altogether and is not participating. I guess he feels he is in worse shape than someone who lived through the Banda Ache tsunami or a person who lives about anywhere in Africa. Not. But the rest of us pitched in to make lives of some people we will never meet a bit better.

The best part of this is I did not have to step foot in a Mall, something I try to avoid at all costs. I did not buy plastic crap no one really wants or needs made by child labor in Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka or some other place that has zero laws to protect workers (and ironically, these are places that might have the family that gets the Buffalo we donated). Crap made from non renewable resources that will be landfilled eventually (the packaging will be landfilled right away). I did not buy crap that will only take money and resources AWAY from the local economy.

Unfortunately I have not finished my Christmas shopping. I still have to buy for my brother and sister in law and a nephew. I will shop for them at the Oxford Farmers' Market Uptown Winter Market next weekend and buy an assortment of handmade soaps and candles and who knows what else. I will be keeping the money and resources in the local economy as well as buying things made from natural materials with little to no packaging that will NOT be tossed in the landfill.

If you do not have a winter farmers' market if you area try out Local harvest. True, you might not be buying from a local person but you will be buying from small independent farmers and artisans and not from a huge multinational corporation who only cares about profits and not people. And you will be buying something that was not made by slave labor and that is comprised of natural, non toxic pure materials. it's a win win situation when we think before we buy and try to buy either local or at the very least from the small guys.

Remember there are only 21 shopping daze left and not one has to be spent in a mall or box store.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Buh Bye Clayton

Clayton looking pensive

My favorite talking head has left national news for Philly. Clayton Morris did his last stint as a part of the Daily Buzz today and I am rather sad. he was an irreverent breath of left wing liberal fresh air during a time when the right wing neocon spinmeisters such as Hannerty and O'Reilly ruled the air waves and thus national opinion.

Oh sure the guy was on a 4th rate national news show that I probably would have ignored if the show had not gotten it's start in some sort of garage in Miamisburg Ohio back in the early months of this millennium and I had not been bored enough to read about it in one of Dayton, Ohio's alternative newspapers while manning our produce stand at the Dayton 2nd Street Market.

Thus a few weeks after the Daily buzz was birthed I was a loyal viewer. What was not to love. A new morning news show on an incredibly limited budget that was national but because of said tight budget all the outdoor (and I guess indoor too) shots were local to me. I first noticed Clayton when he went for a visit to WHIO, channel 7 in Dayton. The folks at WHIO were not very thrilled to have this rather strange and obnoxious (and perhaps insane) young man arriving with a camera man. Clayton just wanted to say "hey" but WHIO did not and escorted him off the property. Ah good times...

After that, he cruised the mean streets of Kettering looking for breakfast by going door to door and asking. I was always amazed when the women who answered actually would feed him and not call the cops on him. if he had knocked on my door I would have made him breakfast and it would have included more than pop tarts or cold cereal.

Move forward and the show moves out of their garage in SW Ohio and down to sunny Florida where Clayton gets more air time and comes up with some very good regular segments such as Keeping them Honest and News by the numbers.

Clayton's departure will leave a huge hole in the show's cast as there are few people on the planet who can play well with Mitch English the Buzz's frenetic comedian/weatherdude/radio guy.

I did find it a strange coincidence that Jerry Springer, another left leaning news guy (yeah I know he also does the raunchy Springer Show too) quit his news show today also. i take this as a good sign in the cosmic scheme of things-we no longer need these people in the national media championing the lefties out there and keeping the hard righties from destroying the planet for greed, power and oil.

But I digress. Clayton I dunno if you will read this but if you do good Luck in Philly. I'll bet you are happy to be closer to your mom and dad too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sudoku Hell

I subscribe to the Dayton Daily News and everyday I try to do the sudoku puzzle and everyday I find fatal errors about halfway in. Once a few weeks ago I did successfully solve a moderately hard one.

Everyday I tell myself I will not do another sudoku and every evening I find myself on the couch with pen in hand trying to solve the sucker

Perhaps I should start doing the puzzle in pencil and not pen

Discover Your Blues name

Follow the instructions below for the genuine thrill that comes with discovering your blues name.

I'm either Pretty Hips King (if we use Owsley) or Pretty Hips Jones (if we use Goodman).

  • From the first list, take the name using the initial of your first name.

  • From the second list, do the same with your middle name.

  • From the third, use the first letter of your surname.
First List
N=Peg Leg
X=Fat Boy

Second List
S=Bad Boy

Third List

Yay local Food

I found this post surfing blogs via Blog Explosion called Do you Know Where Your Food Comes from posted on the blog Mando's World. Nice little treatise on why we should all be buying/growing/eating locally grown food. has links two two good food sourcing sites-Local Harvest and Food Routes

NBC Airs Biased Segment on Organics

This came in my inbox this morning. I saw this segment and It was pretty one sided. I guess this is to be expected as there seems to be yet another attack on organics from the anti-organics crowd that started with the e-coli contaminated spinach this past October that was not organic spinach but early on was thought to be. And of course the organic opponents such as the Hudson institute and the father/son team of Dennis and Alex Avery took the opportunity to build up some negative momentum and it seems the Today Show has been swept up somewhat by this momentum.

There is so much to be said about organics and so few competent people in the news on any level (including almost all agricultural reporters) that rarely good information is reported so it is up to us in the know to set the record straight. Below is all the information you need to send NBC the message that we will not put up with half assed, biased reporting and information.

Take Action: NBC's "Today Show" and organic misinformation

Dear friends,

We asking for NBC's "Today Show" to give equal time on organics. The show ran a piece yesterday, which paints organic food as unsafe, leaving the impression that conventional chemically grown food is better. Please join us in asking the Today Show to get the facts right. See video clip below, how to contact the Today Show, and our abbreviated comments (which you can use) below. You can also view our longer letter to the Today Show at

Beyond Pesticides

Viewer Comment Line: 212-664-3499
General Number 212-664-4249

Sample letter/email. Simply cut, copy and paste into your email body or word processing app.=, Change where appropriate, or not

December 5, 2006

Today Show
NBC Universal
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
(212) 956-2395

Re. How Fresh Is Organic Food?
A Call for More Truthful & Accurate Reporting

Dear NBC Today Show Producers:

I appreciate your attention to organic food in your December 4, 2006 segment How Fresh Is Organic Food?, but I am troubled by the serious lack of focus on the hazards of chemical-intensive agriculture and food commodities. The piece glosses over key organic issues and leaves viewers with the impression that chemically-treated food is safer. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a disappointed viewer and concerned consumer, I am writing to ask you to do a follow-up story, giving equal time and consideration to the value of organics. Please take the following into consideration:

1. Your piece does not articulate effectively the hazards of pesticides and the importance of curtailing their use. The key issues for concern are pesticide residues in and on food commodities and agricultural practices that hurt the environment and those working on farms. Pesticides found in and on food are known to cause cancer, birth defects and other serious health effects.

2. Creating a false choice between chemically-treated food with less bacteria and organic. Because of the hazards of pesticides, the Today Show piece created a false choice between what you characterized as safer chemically-grown food and more dangerous organic food. Instead, the choice is to adopt adequate cleaning practices, recognizing the important role that bacteria plays in digestion and the environment.

3. Additionally, no mention was given to other health concerns resulting from conventional agriculture, such as use of antibiotics in animal production. Antibiotic use in animal production has been linked to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

4. Your piece also glosses over a key issue when it comes to the freshness of organic. People increasingly want fresh food, rather than food preserved by chemicals for lengthy periods. Buying organic and local is increasingly an option consumers are turning to, and in turn, are supporting their local economy.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wind Storm

Yesterday we had high winds all day and a steep drop in temperature as a strong cold front came through. We started the day in the low 60's with predawn thunderstorms (we got 2.5 inches) and ended the day in the high 20's (that's degrees Fahrenheit). The winds got started around dawn and were cranking by 10am. Steady 30 mph with gusts to 60 mph. Just after breakfast we had our first go round with tightening up the houses. Already there was damage to the hoops themselves. The plastic on one house started coming out of it's trench which is a very bad thing. Eugene got the plastic's edge reburied with me holding down the end and keeping tight so the wind did not rip the edge back out. The crops not in hoophouses but under row cover were naked for the most part. So while Eugene tried to fix the strawberry hoophouse (plastic coming looses, several supports bent up) I ran around and put covers back on things and put more weight along the edges of the covers. Remember that it had rained all night and the covers were soaking wet and the temperature is dropping like a stone. At this point the covers were still pliable.

After an hour of trying to keep things from falling apart I went back to the house to find the power going on and off. Around 11:15 Eugene came in all bummed out because he knew the houses were coming down if the winds didn't let up immediately. And that was not happening as we found out about 20 minutes later when we were standing on the front porch and heard the staccato popping indicative of a lot of plastic suddenly being ripped from the ground.

We stood there discussing what to do.
A) Go up in what are now about 45 mph steady winds with 65 mph gusts (we think the one that got the plastic may have been over 70 mph as it picked up a bunch of water out of the small pond that had formed overnight on the northern boarder of our property and we had never seen the wind do that before and we have seen 65 mph winds out here) and try to fix things
B) Let the plastic flap and steadily bash the metal hoops into uselessness
C) Go up and get the plastic off the hoops and secured to the ground.

We chose option C and Eugene went back up and pulled plastic off the frames and found the metal bent up just from the plastic getting loose. We have found that in high winds the plastic continually slaps the metal conduit hoops and shoves them into the ground. If it is muddy (which it was) the hoops literally shrink 1 to 2 feet and the plastic gets really loose which allows the wind to much more easily rip the stuff out of the ground. This is one of the drawbacks to our hoophouses. But we do not get 15 hour high winds along with saturated ground conditions very often so we can live with this flaw most of the time.

So Eugene gets the plastic all squared away and finds that the row covers have once again blown off about everything and this time they have frozen in the tangled shape the wind created. Thus useless for covering vegetables. So some thing got to go through the last part of the storm in horrible drying winds along with freezing temps. These are conditions that almost nothing will live through. Kale maybe. He comes back to the house and and says we have to harvest all the cabbage and broccoli before it is ruined by the conditions since there are no thawed row covers up there in the market garden and we did not want to take dry ones up because they would be a real hassle in the wind and we would likely damage them. As it turned out there were some dry covers that had been in the hoophouses (where it did not rain) so we had some protection for cabbages, broccoli and kale. We cut all the broccoli we could find and took in around 24 cabbages (which have been sweet) The hoophouse with the salad mix and lettuce (see photo at top) was still able to support its' plastic so those tender baby greens were well protected from the wind and cold overnight.

When I went up to check out the damage this morning things looked remarkably good. The hoophouses did not look good but the work we did to protect the plants overnight another story. None of the covers we put on in the late afternoon had come up so everything had at least heavy row cover and most everything is adapted to be grown in the cold. I did not peek under the covers as they were still frozen but it would not surprise me if all the cabbage and broccoli is okay

This hoophouse had mostly dead things in it. There are leeks but they should be alright. The zukes and beans that were kinda of alive are now dead and can now put something else in their place that can take winter conditions like lettuce or kale or radishes.

This is one of our chicken feed storage silos that was pushed over by the wind. Likely the same gust that got the hoophouses.

The strawberry house got the most damage but were had just quit picking them about a week ago and being exposed to winter conditions will not hurt them any. If anything, this will be good for them as this will insure that they go dormant.

This even has been a real bummer to us but it by no means the end of the world. And to be totally expected in this line of work. The hoophouses will be put back together. We lost only one piece of plastic and I ordered extra rolls of the stuff this past spring for just this sort of thing. We had a lot of wasted space in several of the houses and now that the houses have to be taken apart and put back together we can also put them where they will most useful (i.e. over the tilled beds that were going to be planted in early spring greens and now can be planted in mid winter greens). We will get yummy fresh veggies out of them most of the winter and all of the spring. Life will be good again.

Postscript (12/05):
The hoophouses are back together again as of Sunday morning. The weather is fridgid but reasonbly calm. Life is good.