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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

High Anxiety

I have been quite anxious the past 5 days or so and this will likely continue until sometime next Wednesday.

As regular readers know i am doing a workshop at the OEFFA conference this coming Saturday at 2:15pm on pastured poultry. For some reason I have been in a major procrastination mode and until 2 days ago did not even have an outline to work form. That has changed for the better. I now have on my desktop a decent handout out that I will work on today to make it a really nice handout for the workshop, complete with pictures and references.

I have been talking a lot about how to do the workshop with Eugene since Monday. I want to bring in a chicken tractor, fencing, feeders etc., so the participants have more than a general idea about what we are talking about when it comes to raising chicken on pasture. Eugene does not want to deal with hauling a chicken tractor around Granville High School and I don't really blame him but I think we will be able to get the thing in and out of the building without much too do (unless it is too big to get through a door, than we have a problem)

The other thing that has me quite anxious is the fact that next Wednesday I will be getting a tooth implant in my jaw. I am not looking forward to this. it will involve pain and it will likely effect how I eat somewhat. Though probably not too badly as the part of my mouth where this implant is going is already fucked up from a crown and a deep cavity that has recently been drilled badly filled which makes for a painful quadrant on my lower left jaw. Anyhoo, I have noticed each time I have something done to my mouth these days, other than cleaning, I get ever more pain. I am hoping this will not be the case with the implant, but I will not be holding my breath. From what the periodontal surgeon has told me the implant is way better than a bridge for a couple of reasons. 1) It is permanent. 2) because there is a titanium screw implanted in my jaw with a fake tooth affixed to the screw I will not lose bone density (osteoporosis) in my jaw due to a lack of tooth/lack of pressure. Apparently when you lose a tooth or teeth your jaw starts to degrade because there is no pressure on the bone from the act of chewing/grinding/clenching of teeth. This is why dentures slip within 2 years of being prescribed-because the jaw literally changes shape and shrinks. And the same thing happens with a bridge only on a smaller scale as it is just 3 teeth involved instead of the whole shootin' match. there is a third reason for the implant-it is cheaper than a bridge. A bridge costs around $3500US. The implant will cost around $2000US, maybe a bit less

I seem to have a pretty horrifying mouth-my teeth and jaw are not set right. I have already had major periodontal surgery at age 35 (the average person has this surgery at 55 to 65 years of age-I'm a trendsetter!). And I still have 7 baby teeth in my mouth (I had 8, one got horribly infected and pulled and this is why I am getting the implant). I figure by the time I am 60 I will have replaced a lot of my teeth with implants.

I suppose I could get multi-colored teeth or gem chips in each veneer. I have not really thought of that possibility. I have until May to decide since the implant will be toothless for 2 to 3 months while it heals and bonds with the jaw bone.

What color teeth would you get if given this kind of choice?

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Went out side after dinner for a smoke and to let the dog take a pee. The other dogs in the area were barking up a storm and Nate was quite alert and seemed a bit nervous.

Than we herd the howl of a single coyote and it sounded like it was just below the pitch. Than another howl a bit to the west and suddenly ti woods to our west erupted in a cacophony of howls and yips as a rather large sounding pack of coyotes took down something. maybe a rabbit, maybe a deer.

I dunno. it send shivers down my spine and raised the hackles on my neck.

All the howling got our dogs wanting to run into the fray and defend their property. We had to call them back as it sounded like there were a lot more of them than there were of us. And it sounded like they might be on our side of the fence even. Where Nate probably would have put up a good fight and maybe even survived, Danny would have been a hors d'oeuvre for the wild canines. Arlo, being old and stodgy these days stayed on the deck (I get the feeling Arlo still is not considering this farm his territory or real home and likely never will).

As suddenly as the howling started it ceased but all the dogs in a mile radius were barking up a storm.

We went back inside and a while later Nate was growling towards the back door so I assume he was hearing them again. Right before I drifted off to sleep, after the dogs had been put out for the night, I heard the pack howling again off in the distance

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gearing Up for the OEFFA Conference

I see by the calender on the wall that the OEFFA conference is less than 2 weeks away. Eugene and I will be doing our Pastured Poultry Workshop at 2:15 Saturday Afternoon.

True to my nature I have been procrastinating on putting together an informative handout for the workshop but I feel the handout muses getting close and this will likely be done and 45 copies printed out by Monday.

There is a lot to cover in less than 40 minutes (the workshops are about 60 minutes but you must leave ample time for questions and the Q&A part is often the best part of the workshop). We will do an overview of what we do and than discuss things like what are the pros and cons of various breeds for pasturing chicken for meat, feed, keeping the birds cool in hot weather, etc.. I'd write out the whole thing but as I mentioned the workshop handout muses are near but not yet here.

Eugene thinks we should just go in cold and wing it. Silly boy, doing that usually makes for a bad workshop. You got to at least write up an outline to keep your talk on track, even if you are not going to make handouts for the attendees. I have done enough lectures and workshops in my life to know better than to go in cold, no matter how well you know the material. What usually happens to a person doing this sort of thing unprepared is they will get knocked off track early on by a question from the audience. the question may be an excellent one but I have found without a map of what you intend to do one questions leads to another and another and suddenly that pastured poultry workshop has become a hoophouse lecture. Interesting to be sure but not what the folks paid their money to see.

Fortunately for Eugene I am a good writer and I love to write handoutty sorts of things so he does not need to do anything other than familiarize himself with the order of go before we are in front of an audience. Oh, and put a chicken tractor in the van and than when we get to the High School in Granville haul it to the room we will be doing our gig in.

I'm getting pretty excited about doing this conference. It's been years since I have been in a building with several hundred other organic foodies and farmers. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones

Harbinger of Spring

February has been cold and snowy since groundhog day but now we are going into a warmer period which has caused it to rain, fog and melt a whole lot of snow.

And apparently this warm weather has awoken a skunk from its' winter slumber and Danny found the thing and came in this morning with a fine skunk perfume. he (and Nate and Arlo who also stank) were quickly ushered back out the door to t eh great outdoors where they will stay until we run into town and get a couple of big bottles of hydrogen peroxide to put in their bath water.

Peroxide neutralizes the sulphur based chemical that we know as skunk smell on contact. Put a cup of peroxide in a gallon of water with a 1/4 cup of baking soda and douche the dog everywhere (anyplace you miss will stink). Than rinse the dog and you are done-No more skunk smell

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Made the Local Paper

Suzie Marcum sent me an email this morning alerting me that I was mentioned (and pictured) in the following article from the Hamilton JournalNews from this past Sunday about the Oxford Winter Market. The reporter came to the January market and interviewed most everyone there.

That was a happening market because the weather was good. The market this past weekend was much smaller and snowier. I believe there were only 7 vendors and not many customers. The parking lot had a lot of snow in it. There was an Alberta Clipper on top of us showering us with quite a bit of snow. All the tables were snow covered, even if they had set up shelters. I am glad we went down to shop and not sell, it would have been miserable.

On that note, here is the article about the January Market. Thanks for sending it Suzi.

Business is Hot at Winter Farmers Market

By Celeste Baumgartner

Contributing Writer

Sunday, February 18, 2007

OXFORD — OXFORD — Farmers markets are a connection to life and are a tremendous social event, said Debra Bowles.

Every third Saturday November through May, Bowles can be found by her stand at the Winter Oxford Farmers Market in Uptown adjacent to the parks at Main and High streets. The market, offering fresh local
seasonal produce, baked goods and handmade wares, is open from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

"I love the farmers market," Bowles said

On a recent Saturday, the market was abuzz with people of every age, many in heavy coats, mittens and hats, sometimes with their dogs.

"A lot of things had been sold out," said market manager Larry Slocum. "Don Schwab's peaches sold like hotcakes. There was a big line by Dale Filbrun's organic meats."

A walk down the aisle finds those vendors just as varied and unique as the products they sell. In addition to peaches, Schwab also had sold out of potatoes; and popcorn was moving fast.

"Business has been real good, excellent for this cold day," he said.

Lyman Peck's regular customers had cleaned out his supply of bread, which he bakes in his backyard in a brick oven heated by a wood fire.

"I burn the fire for about five or six hours and then clean everything up and bake with the retained heat," said Peck, who taught at Miami University for 15 years.

Harv Roehling of Locust Run Farms had a lot of takers for his lettuce. He had 10 varieties for sale. Roehling, who is certified organic, raises the lettuce all winter long in an unheated greenhouse.

"It slows down a little in the winter primarily because of the light," he said. "December has short, cloudy days. Even when the sun is out, it is low in the sky so we don't get a lot of energy from it. That has more effect on the growth than the cold weather."

A bit farther down the aisle is Mike Egbert. "We're selling eggs from free-range chickens today," Egbert said. "We'll sell 50 to 60 dozen."

Egbert is the third generation of his family to have a stand in a farmers market. His grandparents had a stand in Findlay Market, his father had one in the Cincinnati markets.

Luci and Eugene Goodman of Boulder Belt Farms offered herbs, cabbages, lettuce, spring mix, popcorn, garlic and more.

"I like the winter market. It's a good thing," Luci Goodman said.

"We've got a beautiful day; it's been worthwhile," said Bob Rauen, who has been selling honey products and produce at farmers markets for 30 years.

Rauen has 50 beehives, about half as many as he once had.

"It's hard to keep bees anymore because of the mites
and other problems with bees," he said.

Bowles had a display of soaps and body creams made from goat milk. She also offered beeswax candles made from Rauen's honey.

Bowles sees big things on the horizon for the market. There are plans to connect with the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department to offer Saturday events.

"This is going to be the place to be," she said.

From May to November,

the market is open every

week. Interested vendors can call Larry Slocum at (513) 505-5238.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What's Your Aura Color?

Your Aura is Violet

Idealistic and thoughtful, you have the mind and ideas to change the world.

And you have the charisma of a great leader, even if you don't always use it!

The purpose of your life: saying truths that other people dare not say

Famous purples include: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony

Careers for you to try: Political Activist, Inventor, Life Coach

Embracing My Inner Redneck

Tony Stewart Signing autographs at Eldora Speedway August 2006
©Lucy Owsley 2006 do not use without permission

Today is the Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of Nextel Cup level NASCAR Racing.

And this lefty tree hugging , organic farming, college educated, brought up by liberal and affluent parents, farmer is gonna be watching and cheering on Tony Stewart who is favored to win the big race.

I got into NASCAR back in the late 1980's due to dating a gearhead ex-dragster racing dude. he watched the Winston Cup races every Sunday afternoon (this was before 2 networks showed these races or there were any Saturday night races). We'd sit around all afternoon swilling beer and watching fast cars go round and round the track and occasionally have a big wreck. For a couple of years I found this about as appealing as watching paint dry. But getting tight did help in that respect and of course the wrecks were always worth watching. Some weeks the two of us would got to Zerby's house and watch with him. Zerby hated NASCAR but he and I had a good time wondering what would happen in they used a figure 8 track and just generally making fun of stock car racing while Drew-bob got all pissed at us for not taking this sport seriously.

frankly, back than I could not take NASCAR seriously because I was not tapping into my inner redneck. Despite being raised in SW Ohio (this is where a lot of guests on the Jerry Springer Show come from, in the first 5 years of that show I'd hazard a guess that about 75% of his guests hailed from Hamilton, Butler and Preble Counties in Ohio. I grew up in Butler county and I have lived in Preble county for the past 14 years), I was a liberal , anti corporate, feminist, secular humanist, conservationist, foodie, well read, a tree hugger, Birkenstock wearing elitist. I am still all of these things.

But after being taken to a nigh of sprint car racing in Winchester, IN I was hooked for real. Nothing like driving into the parking lot and hearing your first racing engine doing hot laps. God that was exciting! This was not a top level NASCAR event. Actually I don't believe it was a NASCAR event at all because I do not remember stock cars racing that night. It was all sprint cars. It was also Jeff Gordon's last time driving sprints before going off to the big show-Winston Cup Stock care racing on the super speedways (he was such a geeky looking teen back than). Not that I knew what that meant at the time. I was just told this 17 year old who was winning all his races that evening was leaving for the big time. And he has certainly made his mark.

Anyhoo Drew bob and I broke up and I figured I would quit watching NASCAR but I found myself drawn to it. And this embarrassed me as none of my close friends could stand the sport and ridiculed it. So I went underground for several years. I did have a co-worker, Kenny who was heavily into Winston Cup and we would sometimes talk about it at work or after work if we went out drinking together (pretty common thing to do when you work in a kitchen). Than in 1997 (or thereabouts) I met my buddy Rosie and we found we had two strange things in common-we both loved the Ohio Lottery show (which has since been ruined) and we both love NASCAR. Like me Rosie is well educated (Ph.D from Harvard in toxicology) and politically liberal. Finally I had someone I could come out to. Someone who would not denigrate the redneck inside screaming to come out, but rather would embrace her.

The only problem we had in the beginning was the fact I did not like Jeff Gordon back than. I referred to him as God-boy. but Rosie was (and is) in love with Jeffy. I used to bust her chops by insulting Mr. Gordon and than telling her the story of getting to see him race his last non NASCAR race. I don't do that any longer as I have grown to really respect Jeff Gordon's abilities on the track. He's very very good.

Back when I met Rosie I was Bill Elliot fan but now I have been a Tony Stewart fan for the past 5 years or so. I like the fact he's a local boy from Rushville, Indiana (yeah he claims to be from Columbus IN but when he was a rookie he was called the Rushville Rocket), he 3 years ago bought Eldora Speedway up near North Star, OH (about 45 minutes north of me), he has an anger management problem which can make for some rather interesting incidents and he is one hell of a driver.

I got to "meet" Tony last summer when he was racing at Eldora. After the races you can go to the pits and wait in line to get something autographed. Most people chose to get their hat or T-shirt signed. Me, I opted to have him sign a thing of Old Spice deodorant that they were giving out to everyone who came to the track that night (Old Spice was the main event sponsor). Next time I will get a T-shirt as Sharpies and the plastic on the deodorant container do not mix well and even after 6 months the ink has not set and will easily rub off.

So this afternoon I will be allowing my inner redneck to revel in the Super Bowl of NASCAR. I can't wait.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How should We Relate to our Food?

Since civilization began, food and farming have told a story of our society, our values, and our relationship to the Earth. Today, we are witnessing unprecedented impacts as a result of food being seen primarily as a commodity. In contrast, a local food system that values sustainability and balance has the potential to reconnect us to each other and to the land. This in turn helps shift our focus to understanding food as an integral part of community and family life. Let's start here to bring about a healthier future.

Food For Community:

is a basic human need and right. It keeps our bodies going and it is also the common thread that brings together families and friends and shapes our traditions and cultural identity.

Farming connects people to the land. It can provide meaningful work for many and is the foundation for many rural economies and communities.

Diversified family farms tend to be small enough that the farmer has an intimate knowledge of the land. Farms that produce a variety of crops provide benefits including improved farm profitability, water quality, fish health, and carbon sequestration, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion.a

The market is where people purchase food, learn about its origin, interact with community members and meet the farmers who grow their food.

In the ten years leading up to 2004, the number of farmers' markets in the U.S. more than doubled, adding almost 2,000 new markets.c

Labor in a local food system can be meaningful and fulfilling. There are strong relationships between producers and consumers and a greater proportion of people running their own businesses. Young people are eager to work on sustainable farms, at farmers' markets, and in local food businesses.

"Working at the farmers' market is a blast - I wouldn't do anything else. I love answering questions about the produce and seeing the satisfaction on peoples' faces when they learn about my farm." - Farm intern, Vacaville, CA

In the local food system, the average meal travels 45 miles.f

Eating is an act of communion with the Earth. Preparing and eating food rejuvenates our spirits and nourishes our bodies.

Communities participate in making decisions about their food supply.

Food As Commodity:

Food is a commodity. It is typically produced in large-scale monocultures and processed and distributed by large food manufacturers. The food industry exists primarily to generate profit.

Farming that takes place on a large scale functions more like factory operations than like farms.

The annual toll of conventional farming includes $12 billion in environmental and health costs from pesticides, fishery deterioration and aquatic "dead zones" caused by chemical fertilizers and manure, and $45 billion for environmental and human health care caused by soil erosion.b

The market is a means through which food is sold, traded, and distributed in large supermarkets.

In the United States, the 5 biggest supermarket companies are responsible for almost half of all retail food sales.d

Labor in an industrial food system often means laboring on an assembly line. Jobs in industrial food production and processing can be dangerous and are often considered to be work that Americans aren't willing to do.

Industrial farmworkers suffer a range of work-related health problems, such as pesticide-related illnesses, reproductive health impacts, eye and ear problems and musculoskeletal disorders.e

In the conventional food system, the average meal travels 1,500 miles.g

Eating is largely an unconscious act aimed at refueling our bodies. It must be quick and convenient, sometimes at the expense of nutrition and flavor.

Large corporations control the food supply at the expense of communities.

* References

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Food Rant

I recently started a subscription to Acres magazine after a 1 year hiatus from it. I see it has a new format and a lot of articles on the state of raw milk with several anonymous mentions in a couple of issues of the farm I hold 2 cow shares with. It seems the Streits are the only cow share farm left in southern Ohio. With a new governor and head of the ODA things are looking better for raw milk sales in Ohio. But nothing is writ in stone and things could stay the same (ODA's intense hostility towards all cow share programs) or even get worse.

After all, this raw milk deal is stepping lightly on the toes of Big Dairy and Big Dairy has an incredibly low tolerance for having its' toes stepped upon. So they start smear campaigns and get the state dept of Ag goons out there to stop any and all farms from selling raw milk and thus taking a small piece of the dairy sales pie (of which Big Dairy wants 100% ).

I fear what we are seeing with raw milk will soon enough start happening with those of us who grow and sell produce. The e-coli, salmonella, campybolactor (what a fun disease to say), etc., etc.. outbreaks in our veggies I believe is designed to scare folks off of local produce. Oh sure, all of these outbreaks (that's right 100%) have occurred only on produce megafarms and zero % have been from organic farms, despite the lies coming out of the corporate owned which in almost every case in 2006 wrongly blamed organic produce for contamination. But there have been whisper campaigns that are questioning the safety of locally grown food. The argument claims that the big farms/packing plants have HAVC protocols in place and get their produce tested for contamination all the time and the small farms do not. The fact of the matter is the big farms are supposed to have HAVC protocols in place but as it turns out most do not and most farms do not send samples of their produce out for testing on a regular basis. The other argument is because small farms are so small they do not have a customer base large enough to tell if they were contaminating their customers. Whereas the megafarms, with millions of people eating their produce will know instantly if they have a contamination problem. Instantly, that is, if your definition of instantly is 6 to 12 weeks.

Face it, eating food produced in large quantities is a real crap shoot. All it takes in one worker with dirty hands to contaminate tens of thousands of pounds of spinach or lettuce. A lot of these produce farms are sharing aquifers with mega dairy farms and that means the irrigation water is likely contaminated with bovine fecal matter. the proof of this is the fact we keep seeing the same kind of contamination-E-coli 157H7 which comes from two sources-cattle fed grain, either from a feed lot or an industrial dairy-and humans. the spinach that was found contaminated in the fall of '06 was grown on a farm that abutted a large dairy farm. the "experts" can tell us that the source of this contamination is from wild pigs but any sensible person can plainly see that the contamination came from other industrial agriculture (i.e. the factory milk farm next door)

Now, eating food from a small farm is quite safe in comparison. On our farm, for example, because we do not use raw manure for feeding the soil the risk of contaminating our food with any of the industrial contaminants is nil. Granted, a bird flying overhead could hit a tomato or head of lettuce but that can easily be washed off (actually most of that produce is never sold, we eat it ourselves). And because we minimally process our food and sell most of it within 24 of harvest the vectors for contamination are simply not there (one theory of why e-coli was so bad on the spinach was because it got to incubate for 10 days before it was sold).

But there are plenty of shills on the web and writing news releases saying the opposite. they tell us locally raised food, especially organically raised food is dangerous. They are lying through their teeth but that is what they are paid to do. because like Big dairy Big produce does not like seeing any of its' profits, no matter how small, taken by us little guys and eventually they will get the State Dept of Ag to act in their favor.

The number one reason produce gets contaminated and not fit for eating is because of bad practises by the consumer. Too many people will use the same knife and cutting board that had raw meat on it to cut up their veggies. DON"T DO THAT!!! It is worth it to have several knives and cutting boards on hand if you are cooking both meat and produce. A $100 investment can save you tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of feeling like you will die.

The good news is we humans are not nearly as weak and sickly as the news media and Big Pharma would have us believe. I am willing to bet all of us have been infected by some form of food born pathogen and did not even realize it. If we had symptoms at all they were almost unnoticeable. We have to realize that as long as our food is grown outdoors and processed by underpaid workers (almost everyone who works in agriculture is underpaid) there is going to be some microscopic critters on our food that have the potential to make us ill. But as long as our immune system functions well we have little to worry about. Of course, in these days of the Big Pharma drug dealers trying to convince us all that we need to be taking a cocktail of pharmaceuticals several times a day and being fairly successful we have fewer and fewer healthy humans who can ward off sickness caused by food born pathogens and thus we get more and more serious and far reaching outbreaks.

Hoophouses in Snow

This picture shows why we will not be selling anything at the Monthly Winter Farmers Market in Oxford, OH. We can't get into the things!

That said, we will be attending the market as customers. There is locally raised pastured meat to be bought from the Filbruns. Hopefully, Karen Baldwin of Tahapsia'a farm will be there with her incredible eggs. If she is not there than I will get eggs from someone else. If no one else has eggs than I will go without because factory farmed eggs are disgusting to me.

But most importantly, our Fedco Seed order is in and we can pick it up tomorrow at the market. We do a co-operative order from Fedco that Harv Roehling has been in charge of doing for a lot of years. This allows us to get deep discounts from Fedco by buying in bulk. I do not know how many folks were involved this year but last year the collective order was over $2,000. I suspect it will be more this year as I think the group is larger and our order was 3x larger this year than last.

I got an email from Harv telling me that Fedco was out of some seeds-Poona Kera Cucumber (which I think we can get from Seed savers) and Seminola Winter Squash (maybe Seed Savers will have this too). We also have several items on back order-Nelson Carrots, Red Ace beets and Pac Choi. Fortunately none of these crops will be planted early so we can wait on them for 2 months, if need be. In the past, Fedco has tended to back order the early stuff like spinach, onions and leeks. But since Harv has moved up the order date to early January this sort of thing has become less common.

I am looking forward to seed starting time which is coming up quickly. The quiet winter is getting boring.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Pix

Some pictures of our snowy farm.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Winter Storm '07

We got an, honest to God, Winter Storm yesterday. It started at midnight with a light dusting on the deck when I put the dogs out for the night and by 5am in the morning I could barely get the back door open to let the dogs in. There must have been 4" on the deck with heavy snow.

It snowed most of the morning than turned to ice for a short time (maybe an hour) than became sleet, which is ice that does not stick to much of anything. the sleet stuck around until after dark. it sounded as if tiny elves were pelting the side of the house with tiny stones.

The winds were not too bad in the morning but by noon they were cranking up and heavy snow warnings to the north of us turned into blizzard warnings. We have not had a blizzard in the area in years. The least one we had was when we lived at the old farm on Crubaugh Rd. We got 18" of snow which closed Crubaugh for several days due to heavy drifting (some drifts were well over 8' deep).

We kept the dogs in most of the day but being dogs they had to go out a couple of times to pee and poop. early in the day the snow was a minor inconvenience to them but by 4pm the snow was almost too deep for Danny to get through. Arlo and Nate, having longer legs, had a good time bounding through the 8 inches of crusty powder and making places where they could do their dooty.

The most amazing part of this storm to me was the fact people still insisted on driving. Granted, traffic was way down yesterday-probably off by 75%. But there were still plenty of cars, trucks and semis on the road. Fortunately no one had a wreck on the 40' pitch (yay!) though I guess that was not the case on I-70.

This morning the storm is winding down. It is still snowing a bit and the winds are blowing the snow into drifts and likely making some roads impassable. It will be interesting to take a walk around the farm and see where drifts have appeared. I suspect the hollow behind the bank barn has 4' to 6' feet of drifting snow in it. I am hoping the hoophouses are still standing. they looked in good shape at sunset yesterday but with enough wind and snow things could have changed overnight. the last snow did damage the hoophouse with salad mix and head lettuce growing in it. Too much snow weight and not enough supports = a cave in.

Later on today I will post pictures of the winter wonderland

Monday, February 12, 2007

Adventures in Conservation

Because there is a pending winter storm we went out shopping for storm supplies and went to Wal-Mart because we thought maybe they would have some cheap sleds (one of the supplies we felt we needed to be able to survive the pending storm-right now our sleds consist of a sheet of heavy plastic that can hold two people). We found a toboggan-like plastic sled and Eugene check with an associate and she said the sled was marked down to $8 and change. So we loaded the sled into the shopping cart where it instantly blocked our view making dealing with the shopping cart a real PITA.

We continued to shop blindly and found there was a real great deal on compact florescent light bulbs-6 for $10 and so we bought them and a few other items such as cheap sunglasses and some butter. Checked out the paltry organic selection in the prioduce section and headed for the checkout. Got to the register and found that the sled that made shopping at Wal-mart more of a PITA than usual was not marked down to $8 and change but was $28. So we said "No Thanks" to that and left the store. We continued to do the rest of our shopping at TSC (dog food) and Kroger (all food items we did not buy at Wal-Mart) and headed home.

Got home and Eugene opened the compact fluorescent bulbs (CFB) and started replacing incandescent bulbs. We had one in the living room that burned out 2 days ago so that was switched to a CFB (the rest of the lights in the living room were already CFB's) and than he changed all the lights in the bathroom to CFB and than found we own a wasteful medicine cabinet/Vanity. It seems, the the CFB are too big. The CFB's fit in the sockets but the bulbs themselves are too big to open the cabinet doors. So today he is going to try and rectify this situation by either moving the light fixtures so the bulbs are a bit higher or lower the doors.

It's not easy being green

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Winter Storm watch

We are under a winter storm watch. Sometime tomorrow it will start to snow. Some weather folk are saying we will have a blizzard.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


It finally snowed and so we had a sledding party and invited lots of people out to sled. Since it was Wednesday not many people could make it but some intrepid people did make it out around noon and we had a good time sledding down the 40' pitch and walking back up. It was a great workout and when the the first group left at 2pm it was all we could do to heat up some left over spag and eat. About 45 minutes after eating and about the time a nap was sounding like the most excellent idea in the universe a second wave of one person (not much of a wave) arrived for more sledding.

Since Eugene and myself were not exactly up for sledding we sat around for about an hour talking and drinking beer. Finally, we decided to go out and take a look at the sledding hill and did go down once and than took a 30 minute walk around the farm.

After the walk I was more tired than ever but had a pot of chicken broth that needed attention if it was going to be transformed into dinner so while the boys sat around talking I skimmed the fat from the broth and cut up veggies and took apart the stewing hen and made a nice chicken soup for dinner along with some biscuits.

It was a fun, though tiring day. I wish I had gotten some pictures of the actual sledding but I was concerned that sledding and the camera would not go well together. I did get a few shots of the apres sledding.

Where to Buy (and not buy) Seeds

Found a nice article on the site Groovy Green called Where to Buy your Seeds and Where Not To. The only problem I had with the article was there was no mention of the fact lots of small farmers using organic methods are selling seeds over at Local harvest. In the past I have listed my seeds for sale there but moving the farm has meant putting the breaks on seed saving for the past couple of years. But 2008 should be the year we get back into the swing of saving seed for sale to the public.

Where To Buy Your Seeds, & Where Not To

By Sharon Astyk

If we're to become a nation of farmers, and a nation of people who take home and small scale agriculture seriously, I think it is important to think about our seed sources. After all, without good, safe, reliable sources of seed, there is no agriculture - period.

I'm a big advocate of buying locally, but as I just told a friend, seeds are one thing that I don't always purchase from my local retailer. There are several reasons for this. The first is that my local retailer tends to carry commercial garden center varieties of seed, which come from very far away. There are good reasons to want to buy local seed, from plants that have already adapted to your particular climate. Often the seed I mail order from far away is more local than the seed that I would buy from my neighborhood garden shop. The second reason is that I can often get organically grown seed if I buy by mail - and even though you don't eat the seeds themselves, there are excellent reasons to want to avoid drenching the field your seeds are grown in with pesticides and chemicals. Also, small seed companies often struggle to get along, and they need all the business they can get. Finally, there is so much variety out there in food plants that buying locally simply wouldn't allow me to try as many different things - if I had to rely on local sources there'd be no Glacier Tomatoes coming early, no Stein's Late Flat Dutch Cabbage hanging on in my garden until December.

There has been a heavy consolidation of the seed industry in the last few years, to its detriment.

The darkest force here has been the evil Montsanto, the Satan of agricultural corporations (and that's saying something since there are quite a few other dark angels out there), who bought up Seminis a couple of years ago. Now Seminis is the wholesaler that provides much of the seed for the seed trade, including many classic hybrids and non hybrid varieties. And recently, I've just learned that Seminis has bought Burpee seeds - the largest single mail order supplier. Now I have a fondness for the Burpee seed catalog, and there are a couple of non-hybrid varieties of theirs I love - a red french marigold, a cherry tomato. But I won't be buying there again. Pity, but I have no desire to support Montsanto's chemical agriculture, their attacks on farmers, their attempts to patent seeds created through laborious home breeding. And I try very hard to avoid Seminis varieties of seed. Because Seminis is a wholesaler, and sells to many of the seed companies that send out your catalogs, it can be difficult to tell where your seed originated. That means that I'm pretty much limited to some of the funkier catalogs out there. The good thing about that is that those catalogs have a large selection, a lot of neat stuff, and are usually good stewards of the environment. Giving them my money is an excellent thing....

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Monday, February 05, 2007

It's Colder than a Witch's..

A cantaloupe from last summer. A reminder that things
will warm up and plants will grow again.

It's cold today, colder than a brass monkey's balls.

Awoke to temps below zero and all the school's closed or at least on a 2 hour delay. I am wondering if the school's were closed/delayed because of cold or because of Superbowl flu? I doubt we will ever know the real story.

The plumbing is slowly freezing up which is a major bummer. So far the toilet has gone-we can manually fill and flush but the lines the bring water to the tank are frozen. the shower keeps trying to freeze up even with a drip going. The sink in the bathroom is the only thing that has not tried to freeze up in the bathroom. The water in the rest of the house seems to be A-OK.

Eugene has been in the crevices of the house making sure there are no holes bringing in freezing winds and has found several such holes both in the basement crawl spaces and in the attic. He also found a roll of insulation stuck back beyond the bathroom pipes and did stuff it into the the cracks and holes causing the pipes to freeze. He's also been trying to heat these recesses using electric space heaters and fans to blow heated air back into the crawl spaces where the water pipes are.

At this time last year we were heating with electric space heaters. Man, that would be brutal this year. We were barely able to keep the house at 59˚F last winter and had no weather nearly this cold. I know we would have had 100% of the water freeze on us if we were still heating with the space heaters as we believe the whole reason for the bathroom freezing partially is two fold.

1) We had a rat in the wall that has since become a frozen rat-cicle toy for the dogs (and he was a big sucker too) who moved the insulation around and chewed a hole in the wall near the pipes
2) We have not been keeping the house quite warm enough to stave of freezing of pipes. We like it around 60˚F. We now have the thermostat set to 64˚F which we are finding too warm but it seems to be keeping any more freezing from happening.

Soon enough the weather will warm up enough to start thawing things.

Eugene is planting some leek seeds today in 6" nursery pots as the Stella Natura tells us it is a good time to plant root crops and even though a leek grows above ground, because it is a close relative of the onions and garlics of the world, it is considered a root crop.

made a nice lunch from salad that we brought home with us from the party (most did stay at the Ferrario's, they do appreciate good salad greens, unlike too many Americans who think iceburg lettuce is good lettuce), snow peas from last spring I found in the freezer and a applesauce/yogurt/banana salad I made from applesauce I made this past fall, yogurt Eugene made from the raw milk we buy and consume, salad dressing made from dried herbs and fresh garlic we grew, local honey, plus olive oil, balsamic and rice vinegar I bought at Jungle Jim's and organic bananas from Kroger's. Here it is February, it is below zero outside and yet I was able to make a meal using 90% locally source ingredients (mostly things I put up this past summer and fall). Eating locally year round is quite possible with prior planning and preparation.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bottling wine

Newly bottled pear wine ready for corking

We made a batch of wine about 5 or 6 weeks ago and put the juice, yeast, etc into two 5 gallon carboys (big glass jugs). We put the carboys in the pantry to ferment and about 10 days ago went to Dayton to buy a wine corker because our friend Jules (who helped us process the pears in November) could not find hers for us to borrow. We found a wine corker at a beer/wine store in Belmont (an urban suburb of Dayton). We also found they had beer brewing supplies so Eugene bought several kinds of malts. We will be making beer in the next couple of days. We have not brewed beer since we moved here-it's been well over a year. Too long.

About a week ago we put the carboys on the kitchen table where they suddenly started bubbling again. You cannot bottle actively fermenting wine so we waited and waited for it to calm down. Daily we would discuss whether or not we could bottle the stuff and daily we decided it was too active.

Today, though, the wine seemed quiet enough to rack up. So after lunch we got 13 bottles cleaned up and corks sterilized and decanted one carboy into 13 bottles. We didn't have enough bottles to rack up the other carboy. we made a lot of wine!

Me tasting the new wine. It is a sweet wine with a good pear flavor.
As it ages it should get a lot drier.

The plan is to go to a Superbowl party tomorrow and hope the wine drinkers there kill enough bottles so we can finish this job on Monday.

A note on the Superbowl-I have no prediction on who will win. I would not pay attention to this commercial fest at all if there was not a social occasion to attend with lots of good food, drink and friends to nosh with

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Groundhog Day

It's groundhog day and that means the whistlepigs around the united states will be prognosticating whether or not we will have a long or short winter. Okay Winter ends Mar 21st in the northern hemisphere no matter what as that is the equinox and no rodent will change that no matter how bright or dim the light when they appear from their lairs this morning.

Punxsutawany Phil is the whistle pig most people rely on for their winter forecast but it turns out most areas of the country have their own woodchuck forecasters. Here in Ohio it is Buckeye Chuck (awful similar to the wine-Two Buck Chuck...), The Dayton area has its' own whistle pig, Ivy, who will deliver her long term forecast at 10am this morning.

Since it is cloudy with a threat for snow I am guessing our local groundhogs will Not see their shadow and we will have an early spring (likely enhanced by both global warming and a persistent el Nino)