Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

September 28, 2008

Still alive

Yep, I'm hanging in there. I wasn't sure to tell you the truth. I mean I'm not a bad dad or anything, I actually think I'm pretty good truth be told. The thing is, in our home, we have "roles" (here's where any feminists may part company with me...sorry), and I wasn't sure how I'd fit ito both of them at the same time. What do I mean?

When I say that we have roles, it's a pretty simple thing. I go to work everyday (for money), I take care of the "heavy lifting" and I do the dirty stuff (bugs, compost, most of the garden work, etc.). In addition to that, I tend to be the stern voice in the house. I'm tough on my boys sometimes. I've had the world smack me around a few times and whether we like to believe it or not there's double standards out there so I tend to the firm side with them. A~ on the other hand go to work everyday as well, her work is in our home. She shuttles kids to and from school, does our budget, cleans the house and all our clothes and keeps us all fed like a band of princes. She's also the voice of moderation in the house. She tempers my hard edges, loves the boys when their scared, let's them pile on her on the couch and keeps them safe on a day to day basis. This week it's been all me and I have a renewed appreciation of how hard she works and how much she brings to the table.

But this week's reminded me of one even more important difference between us; all the time she gets to spend with the boys. In the morning, they have their tradition of listening to 101.9 on the radio. They sing the songs they all love and set a good mood for the day. After school she gets to hear about everything that happened that day fresh, before they forget half of it in their blessed childish way of living in the moment. I've been lucky enough this weekend to get to have that too.

And speaking of hearing from the boys when we pick them up from school, on Friday I picked them up and hadn't even left the parking lot when B~, the youngest, spouted out, "Dad, can we just pack up and go camping tonight? Pleeeaasseee???". To which of course the other two chimed in with "Yeah Dad, c'mon, let's just pack up and go!" Because you know of course in a child's world there's nothing to it, just grab a tent, something to eat and you're good. So what's a dad to do? Duh...I said YES. In all honesty we were planning on going up to the mountains anyway on Saturday. Grouse season has come to Utah, and we thought we'd spend a little time doing what I like to think of as "hiking with guns." So what's a little detour to spend time together, take advantage of a rare opportunity to bond and oh yeah, did I mention that the mountains we were heading up into are regularly voted as one of the best places in the western U.S. to view the fall colors?
The turnoff to our camp is about 60 miles from our house and from there we drove five or 6 miles back into public lands. We camped in an area that we've hiked and hunted a bunch of times but have never camped in and found the BEST camp site. We didn't have 4-wheelers going by all the time because it was off the road a ways and was not a through road. The tent site was cleared already of all the sticks and rock, and there was a big meadow for the boys to play in with a log pre-set to hold the "targets" (aluminum cans) for the BB guns.

We spent the night, hiked/hunted the next day (in which we got nothing), and had a great time together. Saturday we came home, cleaned up and watched a movie. And as a sign of a good time being had the boys fell asleep within minutes.

Today, I got to experience the other side of A~'s day to day as I spent most of the day washing clothes, making lunch, cleaning the kitchen and cooking a pretty tasty ratatouille for dinner. Oh yeah and by the way, I found out how to get kids to eat this heavy vegetable stew. I put about half of the ratatouille into our food processor and pureed it. I had to add a bit more salt after all the vegetables were pulverized, but they not only ate it, they had seconds. On the Harvest Keeping front, I also put up another 6 qts of beans for the winter.

It was a great weekend. We lived through it, enjoyed it, and still miss A~ terribly. No matter how capable I can be, our home's just not the same without her. Hurry home sweetie, we love you.

September 25, 2008

A~ needs a raise!

Holy crap, I need to pay A~ more!
I'm totally enjoying the time I get to spend full time with the boys, but dang, this homemaker thing is hard! But honestly, I am really having a good time and A~ if you're checking in on the blog, the kids are still in one piece, and I think they may even be having a good time. Tonight after dinner and homework we spent an hour at the community pool and had it all to ourselves which never happens.

Later, the boys went to bed to read and then to sleep, and I processed 6 quarts of beans in the pressure cooker. I had cleaned and prepped them yesterday, and tonight packed and processed them. While they were cooking, I prepped another 6.5 pounds, enough for another 6 quarts to do tomorrow night.

I also wanted to thank all of you that gave me the great feedback on my request about making applesauce. I made some for dinner last night, and it was not only very easy to make, but it was very tasty and the kids seemed to like it too!

I guess that's about it for tonight. I'm pretty tuckered out, and am actually dozing as I write.
Hopefully a little more tomorrow.
'night all.

September 23, 2008

Democracy Works!!! (or does it?)

Well, to a point I think it does, but you know that old saying "All politics is local"? It held true tonight as I witnessed first hand the inequities of the political process.

First off, let me start on a positive note. THE GIRLS ARE LEGAL!!! That's right, the outlaw birds in my back yard are LEGAL. I started working toward getting the restrictive ordinance pertaining to chickens, and in particular egg laying hens, changed back in February. Can you believe it's been that long? I should of course for the record point out that I personally did not initiate the ordinance change. Our city planning commission was actually in the middle of revising the ordinance when I showed up on the scene, but I made it just in time to have input into the revision, and was able to get to know the commission chair Robert Whiteley that actually sponsored the change that dealt with the chickens. A very good guy! The process was very time consuming, and took a lot of emails and some public speaking, but we've gotten it finished and tonight it passed the city council by unanimous consent. So you see, don't just let your fear of the process keep you from your goals. In fact this turned out even better than hoped for. Tonight before the vote, the council proposed to up the number of legal birds to 6 rather than the proposed 5. I think this was a great move for the city, and now I'm thinking, hmmm...how about a class in (sub)urban hennery? (sorry Laura, had to steal your term.)

So now you're wondering about the (or does it?) aren't you. I you remember yesterday, I asked for you to wish me luck. That wasn't for the chicken law to pass, it was for me. I went before the city council and a nearly packed auditorium tonight, to enter my name as a candidate for a seat on the Syracuse (UT) City Council that had been prematurely vacated by one of our elected members. The laws of our city show that when a vacancy becomes available mid term, that the existing city council will hold public hearings to review potential replacement and then vote on the candidates to get a replacement. I put my hat in the ring, and didn't get it, and you know what, it's really not a big deal to me. I hoped for it, buy didn't expect it. What I didn't expect however, was that the process was rigged.

Seriously, this is not a sour grapes issue. The gentleman that got the position, I felt, was far more qualified than me or many of the other candidates so not a big deal there. The problem arose when the council was making their vote and councilman Doug Peterson, after making his vote, Made a declaration that rocked the room. He stated that when he originally ran for council he lost. Then, the same type of thing happened and he applied to the council for the position. He didn't get it, and felt that since he had been the first runner up in the election that the position should have been his. Tonight he went clearly in the face of the established process and declared that that was the reason he voted for the winner; because he was in fact the first runner up in the last election. Another councilman, Doug Hammond, agreed and went on to state that the voters had spoken and had voted for the winner in the last election. (But not in enough number for him to win.)

On the face of it, it sounds logical right? But myself and the other 20 candidates walked into a council meeting tonight, expecting to be heard and to have a fair chance at being considered for the position. That was, in point of fact, no the case. If two of the remaining 4 chairman came to the meeting already having in mind who they were going to vote for and why, (and yes, I do know that that is the case in at least one person, but cannot get into how for a couple of reasons.)
then what was the purpose of me spending my first night alone with my boys, cooped up in a stuffy city hall for no reason. Oh, I was mad!

After the election, you could here the vocal murmurings of the audience, and then the utterly ridiculous. The city council completed the city managers report and called for a motion to adjourn, with was seconded and agreed on. Only one problem, the first order of business for the night was to approve the agenda, an agenda that allowed for a period of public comment before the adjournment. Two councilman had already gotten up and started to leave and I just popped up. Not a lot of thinking, just popped up and yelled over the room "Mr. Mayor!" (ask my kids, I'm loud when I need to be.) When I got his attention, myself and the other gentleman pointed out that they cannot adjourn legally, they are breaking the agreed upon agenda. We got them back in there seats and they spent the next 20 minutes hearing from me and the other guy about how they had just committed a farce of a political proceeding and should be ashamed. It was pointed out that at the last election half the previous city council was removed for similar actions. Both myself and the other man received many handshakes and thank you's afterward for calling them on this. I guess it may be time for the other half to go too.

Let me finish this off on a positive note just so I don't come off too PO'd. I think that the process does work by in large. Look at my chooks after all, their free to roam now. The key however, as in national politics, is to be involved. Make your voice heard. We are a democratic republic and inasmuch we are required by duty to be a part of our governments process. I encourage you to participate, to debate and to be activist in the things you believe in. I ask though that we keep a level of civility, look for commonalities and work for the type of change that will benefit us all.
Be well...

A quick update.

Well, no big stuff tonight. We spent the night together as a family with a trip to our community pool (indoor) and then some tasty gelato from a local shop. Why the Monday night festivities? Well, Mamma's leaving us tomorrow. A~ that is. She's heading out to West Virginia tomorrow to visit her family. Her sisters getting married and we haven't been able to get her out there for a couple of years to visit so it seemed like a good time.

What does that mean for me, and for the blog? Hmmm.... not really sure how it'll pan out. I'll be posting for sure, just not sure on the frequency. The boys are sure to be needy, as their not used to being without Mom for long, and I'll lead chef and bottle washer if you get my drift. (This should be good?)

Also, tomorrow will bring interesting news one way or the other. What about? Well now, it wouldn't be a teaser is I told you now would it? Just a hint? OK, "wish me luck".
See you soon

September 21, 2008

Growing for 500!!

I got out into the garden this evening, and was able to bring in what was actually more food than I realized I had ready. After bringing it all in and seeing how much there was I realized I hadn't put up a good harvest picture for some time so why not now! And if I don't say so myself, didn't I set this shot up nicely? It's approx 42 lbs of food.
In the picture I have apples, green beans, Marketmore and Boston pickling cucumbers, jalapenos, San Marzano tomatoes and some volunteer Romas, ichiban Japanese eggplant, bell peppers and Swiss chard. Oh and let me throw this little tidbit it...that's only half the beans I pulled today. In total I picked 22 1/2 lbs of beans today! Is that crazy or what? Good thing we all love beans right? Guess what I'll be doing next week? Yep, canning. Speaking of that, anyone have a good recipe for applesauce? We actually gave almost 10 pounds of beans away to some friends of ours that are looking into growing their own for next year but we still have plenty. It really is a blessing to be able to share with friends and family when we have a bounty isn't it?

A~ and I talked at the beginning of this season, when we decided to make a concerted effort at weighing all of our food we really had no data to go by in guessing what we'd get out of it. Initially we guess we may be able to make it to 300 pounds. As the season progressed, we realized that it would most likely end up exceeding that. A~ has contended almost all along that we'd make it to 500 pounds, and right now it seems she may be right. After tonight's 42+ pound harvest we cracked a new ceiling by making it to 313 pounds! So now that it's in sight, we are definitely going to "grow for 500". It's not tons, not thousands, and not enough to sell or anything but we both really are blown away with what we've been able to bring in. In addition to the fact that we will now have some concrete data to gauge future harvests against, having real numbers to quantify our efforts to others has really been an unexpected benefit of the "Big Weigh-in". In my outreach efforts to get people around me excited about the idea of growing food at home, it really helps to have real numbers to present to them. It puts things in better perspective that just the old, "we got a ton of beans" or "we're knee deep in tomatoes". To be able to say that we have harvested over 300 lbs is a thing that everyone understands. If you haven't tracked what you've grown this year I adamantly suggest you look into it for next.

Well, I guess that about does it for tonight. I hope everyone's doing great and with that...I'll catch you tomorrow!

September 20, 2008

Feeling the BURN

There are a few blogs that I read regularly. I read them for various reasons, from the witty way that the author writes about everyday events to the eye opening information on current events or for inspiration and encouragement with some of the things that I try to do that they've already conquered. These blogs are important to me. Many of the authors have become friends in a sort of profound way that I never would have thought possible. So, imagine my dismay when I hear them tell me how they are getting disillusioned with the whole blogging thing or that they're just plain burning out? And it's not just one or two, I've seen a lot of this lately. How could this happen? Many of the writers I frequent write about simple living. How could we be burning out with that?
A blogger that I truly respect and I were talking about their impending burnout just today as a matter of fact. The thing is, the same things that this person shared with me that seem to be causing a bit of "pressure" for them, are things that to some degree I've felt too. So it occurred to me, how many other bloggers feel the same thing; or for that matter will at some point down the road? Part of the pressure that this person is feeling comes from the same thing that makes them such a popular blogger in the first place, their giving nature. I think that it's a part of many, if not all, of us that choose to share of ourselves through this forum. Of course we do it for our own reasons, but over time doesn't it start to feel like we have a certain obligation to the readers we have that regularly take their time to read what we have to say. I feel it. Sometimes I just feel terrible that I don't have the time to write a personal little reply to every comment that I get. Compound that now with the fact that as bloggers, we begin to feel a part of a certain "community" online. We value the interaction we have with other bloggers and readers, and so can begin to feel obligated to be a good reader of the many other bloggers that stop by our sites. Now we've not only put ourselves in the place of feeling obligated to interact with our readers but to in turn be dutiful readers ourselves on top of maintaining our own blogs, blogs based to a great extent on our families and our gardens and generally all the things that we do over and above the normal duties of maintaining a home. So there in lies the quandary, to blog about life, or live to blog.
How often do you find yourself saying " hold on a second sweetie..." to your little ones because you're trying to "catch up" on your writing, commenting or reading? Where is your "line in the sand"? Do you have one for that matter? I had this problem early on in my evolution in this blogging experiment and through it have found a certain balance. That's not to say that I don't get out of whack once and a while, but generally I have found a couple of "rules" that I stick to and it keeps me in line. For one thing, I blog at night. Usually between 11 and 1 or 2 am. The reason for that is because it's my technique for dealing with priorities. My kids and wife are the most important things to me. The blog gets ignored during the day (with few exceptions) because that is "family time". In the evening time, kids go to bed and that's A~ and P~ time. A~ needs her sleep far more than I so after she settles for the night, I blog, comment, surf. As I said, often times I am up till about 12:30- 1:30, but I'd be up till then anyway so I re-allocate the time to the computer. It limits the intrusion to my life and allows me to focus without distraction. Some days I'm tired and I just forgo it, other times we have something else we're doing and I skip it. That's my biggest line in the sand, computer time is at night when life's obligations are met and takes backseat to family needs at all times. I try to have my biggest technical impact throughout the day be taking photos, that's it.
I don't have the opportunity to comment on others blogs very often either and sometimes feel a bit guilty. I probably don't get as many readers because of it but I can enjoy life, work in my garden, and help out in my neighborhood and I guess in the end those are the things that will bring me more happiness than spending all day chasing readers I'll never meet or otherwise meeting my need to "be there" for everyone else. I've also had an internal struggle about wanting to have a simple life, and trying to reconcile cramming that life so full of "wants" that I lose focus on the simple part. I'd like to work for myself, I want to find a bigger piece of land that I can work, I want to start a community garden, I want to help teach others all the things I've learned through my efforts and research. All noble pursuits I think, but they won't love me when I'm sick or visit me when I'm old? So in the mean time I plan and hope and enjoy what I have right now. Those things will come, I have faith. I'm only 37 right now, and my youngest is 11 so I'll have plenty of time to do things later when they're grown.
I know I'm going on and on now, but I have one final bit to pass on. When I first started blogging I would get so excited about all of the Meme things that get passed around and the great and inspirational challenges that so many people sponsor. At some point I decided two things. 1) Most of these memes are little more than thinly veiled attempts to get people to visit the originators site (my opinion) and require that we read a lot of other blogs just so we have a go to list of good blogs to refer to. Most of us have a favorite links section, to me, that is my permanent meme list. I like them, I read them and I leave it at that. 2) Every challenge I would participate in would end up making me feel obligated to keeping up with it, which would eventually lead to my feeling inadequate at it, purely for lack of time. Any more, I am always honored to receive recognition from others, and am inspired by the challenges out there, but the memes die with me, and I generally don't pledge to post on any challenge, whether I participate or not. So if you've ever nominated me for a meme that I didn't reply to, or wondered why I don't participate in any of the challenges...there you go. Self preservation!
So, what do you have to add? What do you do to "time manage" all the irons that we have in the fire? Where's your line in the sand? I know a lot of my readers blog as well so I'm putting you on the hook (not that you have to be a blogger to chime in). Who knows, maybe the solutions we can share will help to keep some of our favorite reads around a little longer.
Blog atcha later!

September 18, 2008

So much...so little

So much going on in the world, so little to say about it. Anyone else feel the same way? I mean I keep hearing about a bank collapse here, a bailout there. Food going up, oil coming down but gas not following it. (what's up with that by the way?) It's hard some days not to let the world just be one big downer.

So much to do, so little time to get it done. I have projects lined up three weeks in advance I think; finish my side yard fencing project so the dog and the chickens will stay in the yard, finish removing a couple of non-productive fruit trees, complete next years garden expansion, the list goes on but you get the point. Life just keeps seeming to pop up around me and sidetrack from the plan I have.

Sorry I don't have anything more exciting to share. But hey, I'm not quitting, I'll be back tomorrow, anything anyone is curious about? Perhaps I'll finally get off my but and draw out the plans for some of my homestead hardscaping projects so I can share them.

Have a great day all

September 17, 2008

The "Big weigh-in" Update.

Just an FYI. I finally updated the "Big weigh-in" tonight. total this year we have harvested 262 lbs of veggies and 233 eggs from the chickens.
I think realistically we're shooting for about 350-400 lbs for this year total. Not to bad if I do say so. I'll try to keep it posted more often.

September 16, 2008

More Yellowstone.

Before I show you some more pics, a little housekeeping is in order. Reader Bill~ asked me a couple of questions that I guess I just missed in the last post.
Our kids are a bit older, (10,11,13) so we can push travel plans a little. That in mind, we left out on Saturday morning at 6:30 AM for the approx 4 hour drive to West Yellowstone MT. After a stop for lunch, we made pretty good time and made it into town around 11:30. Being that it's off season, we didn't make reservations, but were able to easily find a room at a pretty nice hotel (129.00 / night, breakfast included.) with no trouble. After that we headed into the park at around 12:00-12:30 and went down the south west end toward Old faithful. (you can see a map of the park here) We spent the whole day on the west side of the park from old faithful up to mammoth hot springs driving and stopping at pretty much everything in between except Norris Geyser Basin. Sunday, we got up early, had breakfast, packed and loaded the car, checked out and headed into the park at around 10:30. That day we headed north to Norris geysers basin and then over to The Canyon falls area. We hiked down the canyon to view the lower falls and it was in a word... amazing! To end the trip we drove down the east side of the park, past Yellowstone lake, again stopping at most of the sites for at least a quick look, and out of the south exit of the park. We drove past the Teton national park and the gorgeous Teton mountains, through Jackson Hole and south to our house. It was a long trip, and a lot of time in the car, but we really didn't feel rushed, and I felt like we got to see most all of the major sites.
And with that...how about a little more eye candy?
Above: Near the Grand Prismatic Spring.
Any guesses? Yep, Old Faithful; very cool by the way.
This was a small hot spring off "Firehole Lake Drive"
And what trip to Yellowstone would be complete without a picture of the Bison grazing away...
Oops, I think he sees me. Nope, just kidding, it was the knuckle heads to the left that you can't see that were clapping and trying to get him to lift his head for a picture. That's how come every year people get gored by these guys. They are not cows, treat with great respect.
So, that covers about 2 thirds of day one, anyone bored? Care for more? We'll see I guess, it depends on whether I have anything more pressing to talk about tomorrow.
See you then.

T. Boone Pickens in SLC

T. Boone Pickens was in Salt Lake City last week and I went to go hear what he had to say. If your not familiar with T. Boone and his Pickens Plan I suggest you pay his site a visit and read up, you'll no doubt hear about him again.

First off, a couple of things. He is in this business to make money. He is not in this business to make policy relating to all things related to his plan. I found him to be refreshingly honest about both of these things.

Over all I would have to say that I agree with what he is saying. Unless you've been living in a cave, you know that a huge amount of our nations wealth is being sent overseas to pay for our consumption of oil and that isn't counting the cost of the wars and NATO actions that we have to pay for to "secure" the countries that much of that supply comes from. I was shocked to learn that it is actually a transfer of wealth to the tune of 700 Billion/yr. That is 700 b. leaving our country, no correct that, 700 b. that we are sending out of this country willingly and much of it is going to people and countries that want to harm us. The main point of the Pickens plan is this. We need to take ownership of our energy sources and we need to do it as soon as possible.

Now if your at all like me, you've run this scenario through in your head:
• We need to take ownership of our energy sources.
• We need to begin using alternative sources of energy because fossil fuels just can't go on forever.
• If we don't have the infrastructure to deliver the sustainable energy, why start building alternative fuel vehicles?
• How are we going to get off foreign oil when all of our transportation for not just ourselves, but all of our shipping of goods, relies on it?

He has as well, and I have to say, he makes some serious sense. If you list the possible sources of energy that we have available to us right here at home; solar, wind, hydrogen, natural gas, coal and biofuels for example, there are only two of those that can be rapidly deployed to be used in the transportation industry. Biofuels are already in use, but I think we can agree based on food prices that this is not a good solution. That really only leaves clean natural gas (CNG).
CNG is a technology that is available, that is produced here in the US, (also in Canada, but they aren't trying to kill us.) and the technology is already available to convert over to it fairly easily.
Here's the point where many people balk. T. Boone Pickens holds a very large stake in a CNG company called Clean Energy. As I said to begin with, he is very up front about the fact that he own this company, and he is in that business to make money. However, he also backs nuclear, wind farms (which he has already built the biggest one in the world of) drilling for domestic oil and Hydrogen fuel cells. To paraphrase him, he's "for anything, as long as it's domestic."
Now, is the Pickens plan perfect? No, I wouldn't say it is. For instance, I differ from him in that he believes that we should only focus on building NEW vehicles as CNG vehicles and not worry too much about the conversion systems that cause so much grief to even install. I think that legislation against modifications needs to be lifted. He makes a great point though. When someone came up to him as started pointing out all of the bad things about his plan, he simply said, "Great...what's your plan?" He doesn't seem to care at all what source we choose, just as long as it's domestic. And that, I can get behind.
I'm not 100% sold on the Pickens plan, but I am swayed to a certain degree. I've seen what happens when a person, let alone a country, is paralyzed by indecision. We need to move forward. If this is the only plan out there with concrete actions and time lines, I feel that it's definitely worth some serious consideration.
Please, chime in with your opinions on this. Has anyone else seen him in person? What's your opinion of his proposition? Help me make up my mind.


So a little while back, certain blogger was bragging about how they near such a beautiful place. And yes, it is a beautiful place alright but in the spirit of fun...Neener neener neener... look what I live near!! LOL

No sooner had we entered the park and gone less than two miles when we came on this guy. A good sign don't you think?
We only had a couple of days, so we really concentrated on the things that were easily accessible. Thankfully Yellowstone has a wealth of these places. (image below: Firehole falls.)
Here is the type of thing that just springs up at you as you round a corner in Yellowstone.
(image below: Lower Geyser Basin)

Doesn't this look like lava? It's actually what's called a bacteria film. Yuck! The image above and the one below are the same pool. It's kind of a teaser because the water is sooooo clear and warm. Made me just want to take a swim. Fear of a little sulphuric acid burn deterred me ;-)
Yellowstone was an absolutely beautiful and remarkable place... I'll have to spread the pics out over a little time. Enjoy.


September 14, 2008

Phew... What a weekend.

WOW, that was one for the books!

Pretty much last minute, by vacation standards that is, we decided to take off for the weekend, get out of town, go on a road trip and see a bit of the world around us. It was spur of the moment to a degree, particularly if you figure in that we had no lodging set up and really didn't have an itinerary, but hey...that's just how we roll I guess. Oh yeah, and by the way...that's not our van. Although I think that last time I went to this place I was riding in one pretty similar to it!

I know your just dyyyyying to find out about it but I'm sorry, I just don't have the time to catch up on my posting tonight as we just got into town about an hour ago...(isn't that a Doors lyric?) Anyway, I'm spent and ready for bed so you'll just have to check in tomorrow for it.

Want a clue... a little teaser?
Check this out.
So? Any guesses? Freedom Gardeners...No cheating now!!

September 11, 2008

I promised

Ok, I promised a Harvest keepers post tonight, but it's gonna be a quick one. We were able to make some last minute plans tonight to go and hear T. Boone Pickens of "The Pickens Plan" speak to Utahns about the ideas that he has for resolving our nations energy crisis and moving us toward energy Independence. It was very interesting and I'll be posting on it as soon as I can, but right now I am t i r e d!!
And speaking of "can"...on to the harvest keeping post.
This year we've been trying to make sure that we put up any extras that we have from not only our garden harvests, but from our gleaning efforts and from the farmers market. We're pretty happy with the nice array that we're building in the pantry. (BTW, that's not everything. There's about twenty - thirty more can's of stuff down in the basement cold storage.) What you can't see to the left of the picture is pickles and some beets. All told I believe we counted 63 total jars of canned goods. Some are qts, some are pints, but all have been tallied on our new handy dandy record tracking system...Umm yeah, that's a regular school notebook but it works! As we have read and learned from a lot of books and many of the great blogs out there, we decided that we needed to keep track of what we have, or we may miss something later.
We are going to be beginning a similar tracking system for the dry goods in our basement as well as the stuff in our outside chest freezer.

I also had a question the other night about "what are dilly beans" and my mouth hit the floor as I thought "hmm, there only like, the greatest way to put up beans!". But here you go, you know who you are, here are what dilly beans are.

"How do you make them?" That was the question from Meadowlark the other day. Here is the recipe:
cook beans for 10 minutes. (approximately two pounds)
Into approx. 5 sterilized pint jars, place 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. 2/3 garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp dried dill.
Separately boil 3 cups vinegar and 3 cups water with 4 tsp salt.
After boiling beans, pack them into jars and cover with the boiling liquid.
At this point you will need to put on the rings and lids and boil the bean jars.
I'm sorry but I don't have the times available for water bath canning but if you Google it, you will find the answer I'm sure.

And finally, I leave you with this thought.
"Happy vegetables come from Happy farmers" ...Be happy!

September 10, 2008

The dark ugly underbelly.

It has been brought to my attention that perhaps I have been hanging around the garden with my rose colored lenses on. I have, from time to time, mentioned how the garden has been a bit off this year, and how some things I just was not happy with. But what? I guess I owe it to you to show you the dark seedy underbelly of my garden.

Exhibit A: The gardens poorest performing zucchini plants. These guys had such a hard time even getting started this year, that I had to go out and manually pollinate them daily for the first 3 weeks. Even after the bees showed up, I've never really gotten a lot of fruit from them. Put it like this, I haven't had enough to get sick of zucchini... get the point? And now, they have begun dying early on me. But I have found the culprits...all of them!
Squash bugs. Yep, I have more bugs than just praying manti. When I uncovered these this evening I realized it was worse than I even thought, nearly an infestation. Time to get out the soap! The chickens won't even eat them. What's up with that?
Exhibit B: The cucumber vines. Look at that pathetic pale drying. (no the squash bugs aren't getting them.) They just aren't healthy. I did notice some new growth tonight, but they've just not performed nearly like in years past.
And this is what I've gotten from them for the most part all season. Softballs. The funky shape is from incomplete pollination. Oh, they taste fine, and we've still been able to put up pickles, but not nearly like we had hoped. Any suggestions? Anyone else had this problem?
Exhibit C: Miniature bell peppers. Yep, that babies mature, all 2 and a half inches of her. Peppers are another crop that I really had good hopes for this year but is probably the worst producing of all of them. These are the first peppers from these plants ( I've picked one off another plant.) and I fear it is all my fault. Despite my best planning, I planted them in the same bed that I've had peppers in for the last three years...Crop rotation, crop rotation, crop rotation!!!
Exhibit D: Broccoli. Do you see there in the distance... the vigorous sprouts??? No? Me neither, but I should. Everything else has come up for the fall garden, that's a little kohlrabi sprout in front, but not broccoli. Add to that the fact that the spring broccoli that I planted never headed up at all, and just went leggy and flowered, and It's been a total bust this year.
And last but not least, the pests. Found this little bugger tonight. They've just started getting to my beans. This weekend, I'll hit em with a little diotamaceous earth and water mixture. That'll show em!
So there you go Mike. My little garden of eatin' has been uncovered for the mess it is. Well OK, it's not a mess and we've been really pleased by most of it, but by no means is it perfect and everything is NOT going the way I planned. But guess what, that's what gardening is about. I get better and more productive every year. And every year, I love it more and more.
Be well all...tomorrow is another Harvest Keepers update. (oh yeah, and Dilly bean recipe by request!)

September 9, 2008

Beans are here for sure!

Oh yeah, the beans are on now. I can go out every night and pick a pound or two of beans without fail. Or, like tonight, I can go out after skipping a day and a half and pick a quarter bushel that weighs 4 1/2 pounds. Looks like some canning is in the future huh? And this is after putting up 6 pints of dilly beans this Sunday too!
Check out the progress with the bean trellises so far this year. The idea for the cube shaped trellising was that I would be able to bring the beans out toward me, rather that having one big bush that we have to dig through every day like last year. Below is the picture from the end of June showing the summer gardens just taking off.
And here, below, (don't mind that ugly shmoe digging around in the foliage) is the bean plants this evening. As you can see, the plants are really easy to get to, and in fact, I have a small rolling garden box that I sit on to do most of the picking. Much much better than last year!
And finally, guess who else loves the bean plants? This big ole mantis is who. Actually in the interest of honesty in journalism, I found this guy on the siding of our house but he's been relocated to the beans. We set out a cocoon early this spring for manti, could they get this big in one season? Do they over winter? Anyone?
On a positive note, while the other plants in the summer garden didn't perform to expectations, at least the beans are prolific this year.
Till tomorrow.

September 8, 2008

Cooking in the yard

Well, it was not one of my shining moments, but in the interest of full disclosure, I aired my dirty side yard. It's one of those catch all places that I just kept "dumping" everything in during projects. I'm proud to be able to say that I think I may have beaten the beast! Trash: removed, pallets and lumber: re-purposed into a two bin compost pile and scrap cut and placed into wood hutch, compost tumbler: relocated, watered and close to being ready. Big sigh......Ahhhhh!
And here's the bin all stocked and loaded up. What's in it? Oh, just about everything. It's got kitchen scraps of course, but also copious amounts of chicken manure/sawdust mix, probably 20 lbs of coffee grounds (courtesy of Starbucks "grounds for your garden" program.), leaves, garden cuttings, lawn clippings, straw, basically all the good stuff watered down well and cooking nicely. Wondering what you ought to see if you want to know that you're compost pile is cooking well. Here you go. (down below) Yeah, that's steam coming out the top. I can place my hand on top and even through the damp leaves I can feel the heat coming off it. It's probably the hottest pile I've had. That's the thing that sterilizes the pile, kills off disease and weed seed and makes it break down quick.
And honestly, I'm just garden geek enough to just love seeing it! It's like a bit of Mr wizard right in my own backyard.
And finally, the good ole compost tumbler from last year. I neglected it quite a bit this year, but the stuff inside it is almost done.
So there you go, "Compost central" is all caught up! Oooooo, next years garden is gonna ROCK with all this good stuff! It's not too late to get yours started too if you haven't already. All the garden waste from Autumn can go right back into the ground next spring!

September 7, 2008

Another long weekend

Got quite a bit done. Compost bin has been stocked and is cooking nicely. (I'll show you soon.) Also, the whole composting area has been cleaned and straightened so is much more presentable. I harvested another ten pounds or so from the garden, mostly cucumbers and beans, and A~ put up six more jars of beans and we'll (read: she'll) be putting up more pickles tomorrow. I also managed to get a good bit more work done toward out lawn liberation project for next years expansion.
Of course the weekend wasn't all work, family time is a must and we spent a while at our community center pool on Saturday and watching a little football today. All in all, a good weekend. I'll post more details this week, but for right now...I'm tired.

September 5, 2008

You're a LIAR and a FOOL ... now, let's change the world.

Not really the best way to go about things is it? Supposing you and I were both after the same job; and say you and I argue for, let’s say a year and a half. We call each other liars, talk about how bad the other person would make things, explain why we are right and people ought to listen to OUR point of view and go to great lengths to point out to the world every stupid thing the other has ever said or done. The longer it goes on, the more our friends and allies start to polarize against each other because, now they think to themselves, “Geez, I thought that person was so smart, but they want THAT person to lead the way?” and quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, they start to bicker about things too. Then one day… *POOF*… argument settled! It’s been decided that one of us is the one that is going to lead the way and make the big decisions. Now let’s all come together and sing coombayah, and make the world a better place. What? You’re not still angry about all that “…you lied and you’ll ruin the world..” stuff are you? Come on, we have serious work to do here.
Well, that’s pretty much politics as usual and I’m sorry (not really), but I’m just not going to be a part of it. As I’ve spent a little of my precious time over the last couple of weeks watching and listening to the presidential convention speeches, I’ve thought a couple of times about making a post about one thing or another; I’ve heard things from both candidates that I’ve agreed with to a great extent. My issue with the whole process and particularly how it relates to my blog, is this. I have a pseudo mission statement for this blog that's been pretty plainly laid out in a few of the posts throughout it’s time online and is very succinctly stated in the title itself. “Possibility to Reality”. I spent a good number of years arguing about policies and politics and guess what? It really didn't change the country, and most certainly DID change me. The more I concentrated on what my position was on things, and even more so on why the people that had the opposing position were wrong, the more and more unhappier I became. Have you ever noticed that, regardless of what a candidate actually does once their elected, voters tend to be more apt to get out and vote FOR something, rather than AGAINST something. In other words, no matter how much one candidate tends to point out how bad the other person is, if they don't actually stand for something specific themselves, they generally lose. Why? Because I think people naturally want to think positively of things. They want to be a part of the future and a part of something greater than themselves.
My concern is this. If we buy into the partisanship that's peddled to us through all of the standard media outlets. If we just re wrap articles from the Times or Tribunes of the world filtered by our particular biases (whatever they are we can substantiate them, trust me!) and further perpetuate the divisions of our country, then we do a disservice, not only to ourselves and our readers, but an even greater disservice to our country and our future as a whole.
We, I believe, stand at a crossroads. We are at a time when not only are we facing economic woes or the possibility of peak oil and climate change, we have wars and power plays taking place in many places at once. We have a bankruptcy of not only capitol but of morality and self control and a culture of self gratification that demands more for less at a moments notice. These are things that are changing. Things that MUST change. Things that our government, regardless of who's elected, will not be able to change on it's own. They more than likely will not even consider that many of the problems need changing. So we need to come together and lead. To show our elected officials that they need to come together to make the big changes as well. How are they to do that, how are we to do that, if we have been trained to point at how wrong the other side is and vote solely on "party lines". In that case, we are too busy looking at the splinter in our neighbors eye than at the log in our own.
I've read a few other blogs this last week that I feel got a bit mired in this kind of partisanship. Some are ones that I read regularly, others are ones I visit only occasionally. I don't think less of any of them, I understand their passion for these things and for the changes that they hope for. I just hope that we in this "new media", with our overwhelming freedom to offer suggestions and solutions and our ability to lead the way to these changes through our own example, will look not to furthering the divisions in our greatest nation, but to healing them. I ask you to find the possible. Find it, embrace it, share it and make it the reality. We can do it!

September 4, 2008

Start your Fall Garden NOW

Today I’d like to paraphrase Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening September Newsletter. I am not a SFG evangelist by any means, although that is how I began when I started my garden and I do still use some of its principles but I do tend to be a bit Fast and Loose with it. In this case however, Mel says it best, “Start your fall garden NOW!”


When is the best time to plant a garden?  Answer:  The fall. When do most gardeners plant their garden?  Answer:  Springtime.  Why?  Because that's the way we have always done it.

In the springtime, the farmer plows up his land as soon as he can determine it is not too wet and frozen and the old-fashioned single-row gardeners get out their rototillers and do the exact same thing in their yard.  But from a plant's standpoint, spring is the worst time and fall is the best time. Here is why.  A cool weather crop (mostly the salad greens and the root vegetables} can be planted in both the spring and fall.  The trouble in the spring is any crop has a slow start because of the cold weather, but once they get going and the weather warms up, they quickly go to seed and there is little time to harvest.

Just think, in the springtime, the soil is cold and wet, even mucky. The seeds take a long time to sprout.  Once they get going the weather gets warmer quickly, the plants grow rapidly and suddenly it is almost summer when it gets hot.  Those same plants then go right to seed and there is little time to harvest anything.  Yet everyone keeps planting in the spring because the winter has been so long and they are anxious to get outside and plant something. It's traditional.

The fall crop has exactly the opposite conditions.  You can plant  all the same vegetables, flowers and herbs but they are planted and grow  exactly the opposite of the springtime crops. You plant the seeds in the summer when it is warm. The seeds sprout quickly, grow healthy and become strong plants. Then the weather cools down and the plants slow down as they come into harvest as the cool fall time arrives.  The plants just kind of sit there waiting to be harvested.  They don't go to seed and there is no urgency to finish their period of growth as long you protect that harvest from the fall frost or freezes.  Now with a Square Foot Garden, that is much easier to do than with a single-row garden because a SFG is so much smaller in space and easier to protect. So when is the time to start a fall garden?  Right now, late summer or early fall in all parts of the country.


It’s the truth, I planted by fall garden this last weekend and I already have sprouts of kohlrabi, spinach, broccoli and other cool weather loving plants popping up. The cooler nights and warm days make the perfect mix to germinate seeds and grown healthy plants. Not ready to plant a garden yet? Planning on starting one next spring? Don’t put it off. I’ve done it, and it never works out the way you want it to. When spring arrives the ground is wet and the days cool, not to mention the number of spring cleaning projects that always pop up. Get that garden dug, or garden boxes built and you’ll be thankful that you did. Many people’s favorite plants grow best early and late in the year and if the garden’s not ready for you to plant them, you’ll miss the season all together. This is, in fact, the first year that I have ever been able to truly take advantage of the spring harvest because I took the time last fall to prep my garden for it before winter.  Now, do you think we can get the weather to cooperate?

Good luck and Grow on!




September 2, 2008

And yet ANOTHER campfire use

So, are you tired of hearing about my campfire uses yet? I hope not. I have to say I've been really really pleased so far with the benefits that we've been able to get from it. We're using waste wood (If your food will be directly exposed to the wood smoke or flame, make sure that it is 'clean' wood not plywood, OSB or particle board. Those woods contain glues and chemicals and can be hazardous to your health. This does not apply to heating water for water bath canning. The jars are sealed and will be under water...no risk.) which in itself saves a lot of power usage but it also helps us to keep out home cooler during a normally very hot process. This reduces our energy use further by reducing our AC usage. Not only that, but best yet, in the words of MeadowLark ( a regular reader) "it involves FIRE - what could be un-fun about that?"
So, what's on today's menu? Chilies!! A few posts back I talked about all the produce that we were able to get from our U-pick-it farm. Part of that was nearly a full bushel of chilies. Aided by the miracle of modern refrigeration these fresh as could be chilies were put on hold until this weekend when we decided to fire roast them before canning them for the winter.
There's really not another way to make chilies taste better in my opinion. If you've never roasted them, any variety at all, you're truly missing out. And it's so easy. Make fire, put chilies over fire, when they're black or nearly so remove them and plunge in ice water (actually even just very cool water will work). After they've cooled for a few minutes, just work them under the water until the skins slip off. Ta Da... roasted chilies.Most of the chilies that we roasted were "Big Jim's", a very large, meaty and mild green chili like the kind you would find in the small cans at the local store. However, we also had some yellow wax peppers, some Ancho chilies, and some Jalapenos. Anyone ever heard of Chipolte peppers? You know, the trendy little spice that comes in everything from Doritos to high end Mexican food? Any idea what it is? Fire roasted Jalapenos, that's it and you can do it yourself.
Give it a try, you'll love it.

September 1, 2008


I have to, from time to time, put down for the record the way that I am feeling at a particular point. If for no other reason than because not only is the purpose of this blog to share information and ideas about a different way of living, it's also a place for me to put down how I feel about life and where I stand in it.

This evening, after another long weekend getting things done around the house, experimenting with new things, playing games with my kids and working shoulder to shoulder with my wife to preserve food for our future, I felt content. As I lay down tonight, tired and a little sore, I lay next to the love of my life. Our kids sleep soundly in the next room after a good weekend of playing and working to help around the house. Our freezer is filling, as is the pantry, and our garden is yielding its end of-the-summer harvests while its fall growth begins. I have a good job that, while it may not be my life's dream, is stable and with people I truly like to be around. I am, in a word, content.

As I've said before, the choices that A~ and I have made to change the way we go through life, have been made to be simple, not necessarily easy. But that said, it consistently amazes me how happy I can be, even working harder than most in our neighborhood, by doing these simple things. I guess it's the less is more thing? Do you get this feeling too? Do you feel content, if not fulfilled? Do your aches bug you a little less because you know they are for a greater purpose? I hope so. If I can give one piece of advice it would be to do the things that make you feel comfortable, content, in tune with your world. I think there's a lot to be found in that.
Namaste All

A little progress, and a failure.

Here's what I started with. Yeah, it was that bad. Even worse actually, I had already started to clean up a little before I took this picture. Those old chicken feed bags are actually full of sawdust and chicken poo that needs to be composted. The old pallets, well, their gonna be the compost pile. At least I was able to work in the shade for a while. I couldn't breathe worth a damn, at least I didn't have to cook in the sun too!
And here, is the end of this afternoon. It shouldn't have taken so long mind you, but it did. I had to take some breaks and catch my breath, and kept getting side tracked. But I think it came out pretty good all in all. Should have good air-flow, and is made out of all recycled materials so it only cost about $1.50 in nails. It started raining pretty hard this afternoon so I got pushed inside, but hopefully I can get the compost piled in there tomorrow and get it "cooking" so it can get mostly done before winter.
The other thing that I did get done was my first attempt at homemade sauerkraut. A~ swears I tried it once before at our last house, but I don't recall it. Who knows? (honestly she's probably right!)
I sliced the cabbage and salted it with some of the homemade Salt Lake Local-Salt that I made not long ago and then packed it into a couple of containers. In total, I used 5 lbs of cabbage and followed a recipe that I found in "The Joy of Pickling". We'll see how it works.
So, two things I wanted to do got done, at least mostly. One however, was a failure. The sourdough no knead bread. I don't think it's the starter, I have great confidence in it. It's just hitting a year old this week as a matter of fact. Having been "born" to our family last September.
I mean take a look at that. Those bubbles are from yeast. Not wild, we tried that and weren't happy with the quality of it, but no doubt influenced by it through it's time exposed to the air during "feedings" such as this one. We generally have sourdough pancakes on Saturdays, and this one, I took an extra cup of starter out to use for the dough.
A close-up of the bubbly goodness that is our "pet", the sourdough start.

At any rate, the dough did leaven to a degree, but I think either I didn't use enough start, or the weather was a little to unsettled and the temperatures too low to really get it to mature as a dough. I didn't waste time with baking it, it would have been a brick, but I'll try again. That's just how it goes doesn't it. We try things, tweak them, learn from our failures and progress. What more could I ask for.
Till next time.