Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Joys of Solar

The joys of solar... mowing! Well, OK, maybe mowing the lawn isn't a JOY, exactly, but I do appreciate the particular arrangement we have for mowing:

Tada! Mowing the grass with direct sun-power. The grass grew with sun-power, why not mow with the same? The loooong orange cord doesn't go directly to the panel because the power has to go through the inverter first, but it's about as direct as you can get. The electric mower is a kick, too... sounds like a vaccuum cleaner, with no noxious emissions. The chickens run away from it the same way the cats run away from the vaccuum inside. You just have to be a lot more careful about not running over the cord!

The other use for sun this weekend was airing and cleaning and confirming that the moths are gone (whoohooo!). Good Dog, do I have a lot of stuff. This is only about half of what was in that basement room. Sheesh. Would you like to see the very first dress I ever wore to a formal high school dance, ca. 1989? You would?!? Behold:

It wasn't even a favorite, really... WHY do I still have this stuff? Mostly it's all the stuff I ever abandoned at my parent's house when I left for college, etc, coming back to haunt me. They've moved and gotten rid of all this stuff, and thoughtfully sent it all back to me. Aieeee! Now I guess it's finally time for decisions and off-loading. Feels good to finally be rid of it, but that make-less-garbage part of me wants to make sure it doesn't just end up in the landfill. Old bridesmaid dresses, anyone??

Friday, May 26, 2006


To the person who got here by googling “learn frolic” and also “how to frolic step-by-step”:

Moths, butchering, global warming!! Wheeee!! Feeling the frolic yet? While I’m a bit concerned that you’ve had to google such a spontaneous thing (wonder if you found anything more instructive out there?), I don’t think you’ve been well served by these recent entries.

I will attempt to increase the frolic factor from now on. Do recall, however, my decidedly archaic usage of the word as a “rural work party, perpetuating community.” There’s certainly been plenty of “raising” work around here lately!!

I also maintain that a front-step garden full off nippy cress, curvy tatsoi and voluptuous radishes on May 25th in northern MN is pretty darn frolicsome! Makes ME want to dance around and celebrate spring and almost-summer, that’s for sure. Now to tackle the other, only recently dried raised beds so I can regale you with later pictures of produce!

Mmmm, cress! And kale! This bed was planted April 8th and has never had a cover, just the warm house to protect it. Crazy, eh?

WF got more earnest about planning the "big" gardens last night, and Schroeder was happy to lend a hand... as, um, a paperweight! Yeah! She's a very fluffy paperweight, prone to excessive shedding.

The hens have been getting a bit of exploration time, and are plotting their next frolic-some activity, to be documented later. Deep in thought on the compost pile:

The hen on the right is the only one who didn't need a saddle during the great over-roostered plague of 2005-2006. She's tough and MEANS BUSINESS. Wonder what she's plotting?

Monday, May 22, 2006


Haste makes waste. Sloth makes... moths!

Ah, hindsight. Why is it that I have the capacity to learn ALLLL about an issue (ad nauseum, WF will tell you), understanding the finer points of prevention and control AFTER the issue impacts our home (thanks, Dr. Google!), yet have an uncanny ability to either be oblivious and/or in denial about the issue BEFORE it becomes a problem needing tons of attention???

(And I’m not talking about a plague of run-on sentences, here, either).

Hmmpf. I suppose that’s a common enough problem, but right now I am KICKING myself about a little, ah, storage problem in the basement. A fluttery, potentially chewy little problem: Moths! Eieeeeeeaaagggghhh!

Sigh... I do believe that Tinea pellionella (see over-learning, above) has decided to pay us a visit. I believe the infestation is (maybe?) confined to some raw wool I was VERY foolishly storing in the cluttered basement room for waaaaay to long. I inherited some not-so-clean raw fleeces unexpectedly last year, and while I fully intended to wash them and learn to spin (in all my free time, ahem), it didn't happen in time. And since I enjoy wearing wool and plan to someday have more yarn, etc in the house, I'm hoping to nip this in the bud (or cuccoon, ha) as soon as possible without poisoning the humans or cats. I am being VERY careful about not letting this spread. I've even found support in the blog world (thanks, Mothheaven!)

One of the best bits of advice I've picked up in my search for less-toxic solutions is the idea of NOT STORING UNUSED woolens, etc. Get rid of them, says the wise extension agent at some state that posted their material online (my eyes are crossing, can't remember which state). Good advice, advice that I am trying to heed-getting rid of all sorts of junk, slowly, carefully (to not spread any eggs, etc). There is MUCH to do in that department, but luckily, these moths have me motivated... no more moth-inducing sloth around here!

And if I get lonely after they're gone, I can always go outside and feed the newly hatched black flies.... Eeeeeek! Swat! Swat! Swat!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Door Views

2 pics taken through the sliding glass door in the past couple days:

Big Rooster: Come on, ladies! Let’s explore the deck, and maybe even go inside the house!
Hens: Tsk! Are you SURE we’re supposed to be up here?

And a little bonding among the local grass (and flower!) eaters...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Food Learning

Well, it’s done. And it smells delicious!

We’ve gotten through our big greenhorn right of passage: the rooster is no more, and we now know we have the guts (heh) to handle the task of butchering and cleaning. WF did the actual dispatching, with the help of my father who was up visiting for the day. I stayed away during that part (wimpy, eh?) but was able to help with the skinning and ah, anatomy exercise that followed. Who knew that a college course (Advanced Vertebrate Anatomy) years ago could come in handy for the homesteading, chicken-raising life? I did a little skinning in that course (of a smaller, furrier vertebrate), along with some careful inspection of muscles, etc. Muscles = meat. Science, food…the line is thin. At that time, I didn’t eat much meat, but have now embraced my omnivorous nature with less squeamishness.

After a day of curing the muscles/meat in the refrigerator, we fired up the pressure cooker and added onions, celery, rosemary and our own garlic and chives. In only 10 minutes, the “tough old bird” was tender and pretty tasty! I was surprised at how easy it was to eat… hard to imagine that it had been running around the yard just days ago, but glad to know where the chicken had come from and that it had a good life. I’m usually fairly worried about bacteria, but after seeing this step by step (no spilled, um, stuff from inside), I had much less worry. We were careful and clean. We thanked the rooster again, and enjoyed the very fresh meat thoroughly. We are truly carnivores now! It’s only been about a year and a half since the formerly vegetarian WF has begun eating chicken again… big steps for him.

We’ve both decided that eating local protein, especially that which we’ve raised ourselves, is an important part of living more lightly upon the earth. I know the statistics about how much more efficient it is for humans to eat grain themselves instead of feeding it to animals like cows, etc. (The grass-to-chicken equation is much better, though…)

I know that we’d have a really hard time growing enough soy to make tofu, etc to meet our protein needs in northern MN. So therefore our soy-based products come from far away, using plenty of fossil fuels. We also both feel we need the intense protein hit provided by chicken and fish about once a week to stay healthy (some people need less) along with tofu, beans and eggs on other days.

But, anyway… We’ve both softhearted enough to feel a bit bad about not seeing the smaller rooster out with the flock, which is now down to a less-even 11. The worst part was the waiting, worry and anticipation, watching the rooster in his doomed, solitary confinement and wondering if we could handle the process. I felt a huge relief when it was done and I knew I could handle at least parts of the process.

Plus, now the hens seem to be at peace, and we hope they can start growing back the feathers they’ve lost during the overzealous competition for their, ah…charms. The remaining rooster has proven to be a calm leader so far, calling over a hen to present her with a tasty slug, etc. We’re glad that we were able to make good use (mmmm!) of the smaller rooster when no other alternatives existed…

Onward with the learning curve!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Here's a bit of random farm junk we inherited, incorporated into a very determined little birch tree. While it feels vaguely icky (doesn't that HURT?), it also seems to show the power of nature and slow perserverence. Even if we humans leave junk all over the place, trees will find a way, even if just for a while. There's quite a bit of tree-shaping going on this little junk pile.

I've asked WF to leave the tree standing just so I can continue to be amazed at the power of zylem and phloem (tree veins)!

We have to be pretty determined here these days about the fate of one of the roosters. The hens are still showing wear (bare heads and even now some wings), and the two roosters started really fighting this weekend. I've been unsuccessful in finding the smaller, perkier rooster a home (it's very hard to place roosters!) so it looks like we might have to enter a new phase of the chicken world this weekend... the ah, "transformation" into an edible item. Eeek-we're such greenhorns! I've never cleaned an intact bird before, so we're looking around for "mentors"... maybe even my dad, who has cleaned many a duck over the years. Being a girl, I didn't learn that old family skill. It was pretty much a once-a-year ritual for the men in the family. WF's family is pretty far removed from any of those skills.

But in the meantime, we're having a hard time looking at "Smaller Rooster" on "death row" in the chicken tractor. He doesn't seem happy to be separated, so that won't be a good long time solution, either. Ah, life (and death). I won't likely blog about the gorey details, but let's hope we have the fortitude to just do this, and do it right. I DO like to eat chicken, just maybe not ones that I know so well. We value local protein, soI think we need to face this reality. I'm trying to learn from Rurality's bravery, but...Last chance: anyone have room for one smallish rooster?!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Senior Seeger

"Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple." -Pete Seeger

In keeping with that quote, this is my simple tribute and HAPPY BIRTHDAY post in honor of the wise and honored elder Pete Seeger. Today is his 87th birthday. It seems that there was a bit more press last year on this date, maybe not as much (but still some) this year.

I'm so glad he's still around to feel the good vibes of happy wishes. I've never seen him perform and I suppose his heyday was waaaay before my time, but I heard him speak on the radio a couple years ago and was quite smitten.

Thanks for your wisdom, Mr. Seeger, and may your influence stay strong. We need you more than ever these days!