Friday, April 30, 2010

Does This Make Me a Home Schooler?

I really did mean to take some pictures of today's adventure, but I was too busy. I had 22 homeschoolers (children and moms) in my backyard to see some of my projects. I've had more than that many people in my yard before. Heck, we have more than 50 here for parties every summer. But I've never tried to lecture them all. And I learned a few things from the experience.

1. Other people find my backyard agriculture projects much more interesting than I do. This I assume is because I have been doing it for some time now and it is old hat to me now. Or maybe I just need to get my mojo back.

2. I really need to write up an outline to follow when showing people around. I did a reasonable job explaining what various projects were and what had or had not worked, but I realized after folks had gone that there were several bits of info I did not communicate, or not clearly.

3. Lecturing is a skill, and I need to practice it if I intend to do much of it. My voice is just not that strong these days. It would be if I were to exercise it more, but I don't do that much talking, and talking for an hour over the sound of kids and chickens and the occasional airplane was much more than I was used to. Next time I plan to give a tour, I should do a singing warm-up first (and in private- a concert is not going to be part of the tour!)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Than a Day Late

But it's a step in the right direction. LDS church buildings are going green, or at least, some of them are.

We're not exactly on the leading edge here. LEED standards have been around for more than a decade, and have been near-mainstream for several years. But at least my church knows enough to jump on a good bandwagon when one comes along. The new website on LDS conservation practices would have you know that the church has made energy efficiency an issue for decades.

I'd be more convinced of the notion that the LDS church is green if I had ever heard it preached at a general church meeting that we should conserve our resources and protect our environment. (Perhaps others have been more fortunate?) Looks to me like the church simply saw that sometimes saving energy meant saving money, which is a good thing for most people and organizations. But I'm still going to celebrate. Green is officially part of my religion- Woohoo!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Food, Inc.

It's online in it's entirety. If this doesn't convince you to go veggie at least part-time, I don't know what will.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Decline and Fall of the Roman Vegetable

The artichoke plants, while impressive during their season, are also impressive in their demise. This is the front yard after I took out two of the 6 artichokes(I think that is how many plants there are now, they multiply unpredictably.)

Cutting off individual leaves as they get buggy and ragged keeps the plants looking reasonably tidy. I can manage that with a kitchen knife, or my garden machete, a lightweight tool with a slim 8" blade that I absolutely adore. But by the time bud production winds down, the central stalks have grown to 4 inches in diameter. The only way to handle removing that is with a saw.

I don't dig out the rootball because next year's plant(s) will grow from that rootball. I don't know how many years I can get out of each plant, but some of them are on their 4th year now and show no sign of slowing down yet.

Once I saw down the central stalk like a small fibrous tree, I chop the vegetation into pieces with my garden machete and leave it around other parts of the garden. It looks a bit silly today, but give it a few days. The leaves will break down rapidly. The stalks will take a few months or even a year to decompose. In the meantime, they make good mulch for the coming Summer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hooray for My Hometown!

I'm not much of one for boosterism, but sometimes I am just proud of the things my hometown is doing.

The video is rather carefully shot to make LBC look particularly clean and pretty. Many parts of it truly are. My neighborhood itself ain't too bad. In theory, if more people rode bikes for a significant part of their transporation, there would be more impetus to make the whole darn city attractive, clean, and safe. A girl can dream, right?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Giving Tree

It was Spring cleaning time in my yard this week. So I dragged disused toys, garden gear, and miscellaneous other stuff out to parkway, to the shade of our usual "giving tree".
I am a member of a freecycle group, an online group of people who list useable items they no longer need, and any other members who want them come get them. It works, but most of the time it is just simpler to take useable items I no longer need out to the tree. Most things that area easily identifiable from a passing car are gone within a few days. If something doesn't get picked up by recycing/trash day, I usually just recycle/dump it. Simple as that. Less trash for me, free stuff for someone else. Probably only works because I live on a major street and have tolerant neighbors, though.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Women's Work

If my life as a member of human society needed explanation, I would have found it here, in a book recommended by a former college roommate of mine that I read over Spring Break.
I would have liked the book to be even longer than the nearly 300 pages it was. The author has impressive material on the ancient european and middle eastern world, but precious little on the far east, and virtually nothing on the new world.
The premise on which the book is built is that a society will tend to rely upon women for a particular kind of labor if it is compatible with the care of young children. Exactly what kind of work that is has varied over the millennia, as cultures and economies have changed. Contrary to the perspective we have inherited from the classical (Greek and Roman) roots of western culture, the daily circumstances of women haven't always been worse than they are today. Who knew ancient Sumerian women were frequently in business for themselves as textile producers, and employed their male relatives as salesmen? The social status of women has historically waxed and waned along with their ability to add economic value to the household. At least, that is this author's assertion, and I am inclined to agree.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Must be Spring

Now that we are back from Spring Break, it is time for the Spring chicks.
Shown here are Fluffy (back to the camera, but that's about what she looks like all around), Arrowhead (the striped hindquarters just barely showing in front of Fluffy), Rosie (hiding in the corner), and Truffles (the only one facing the camera). The first and last listed are Buff Orpingtons, the middle two are ameraucanas. They are only a few days old, so here's hoping they all make it to full egg-laying adulthood.

Friday, April 2, 2010


We caught and dispatched our first squirrel of the season. I will not be posting a picture, but he was a big-ol' male. Now Jon wants to skin it and try making stew. I'll just let that sink in for a minute.

I have created a monster. I should have known no good would come of it when he started perusing emergency supplies catalogs in the evenings as his new hobby. I didn't mind when he ordered TVP (that stands for "textured vegetable protein," or soybean curd rendered to look like ground beef, chicken chunks, or what have you). It's not bad in tacos and chili. And the spreadsheet for keeping up with rotating stored food is actually useful. But when he noted, with some enthusiasm, that one could buy real canned squirrel meat - boneless or bone-in, no less! - the alarm bells should have gone off.
On the one hand, it is earth-friendly meat. Squirrels are rodents, and reproduce abundantly. This particular one has, I am fairly certain, been stealing our chicken feed and garden seedlings for some time, so I have some claim to his pound of flesh. But its a mature male (read: extra gamey) whose diet has most likely included a lot of urban trash. Jon is just going to have to consume this one himself and try to convince me to share some other time.