Sunday, December 9, 2012


A hint of snow fell last night.  Even a trace felt like a miracle to inhale. So with this post we'll share a song.
Just click the button that says listen to song to read all the lyrics and hear this song called "Glorious"--written by Karisha Longaker and sung by MaMuse (Sarah Nutting and Karisha)--that is just such a pretty meditation on the beauty of the earth and its mystery.

Oh, what a day! Glorious!
All the clouds
Have gathered round
The tops of trees
Oh what a day! Glorious!
Pitter patter
Fallin’ rain I can’t believe
All that’s green
Lifts up its leaves
Singin’ water come on in
We’ve been waiting all these days
Prayin’ you would come to quench
Every yearnin’ in our bones
Water, life with you begins
Oh what a day

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Consider the Source: Local eggs and Walmart clothes

Shelby Grebenc, a 13-year-old farmer expresses well in this Denver Post article what it means to want to buy food that came from a known place.  This girl is not only a good businesswoman, she neatly lines out what many may already suspect: a commitment to buying sustainable food is simply not going to be something one can do at Walmart.
 "If you want sustainable, wholesome, pasture-raised organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free food, you have to support it. You can not get these things by talking about it and not paying for it."
Speaking of Walmart, this week a plant in Bangladesh making clothing for Walmart, Sears and Disney burned while locked exits kept workers in the 8 story building from escaping: 112 died.
The Christian Science Monitor reported this week that between 1990 and 2012 at least 33 fires in Bangladeshi clothing factories have claimed 500 lives, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters.  Despite strong laws written into Bangladesh law, to date none of these factory fires have had conclusive investigations and no one has been held responsible. 
In 1911, 146 workers, mostly immigrant women, died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City,  a fire that started on the 8th floor of the 10-story building where the clothing factory was located.  Company co-owners were charged with manslaughter, but not convicted.  The Triangle fire sparked many protections for worker health and safety, and accelerated worker organizing in the early part of the 20th century. 
We can only hope the publicity of this recent Asian fire generates 21st century global economy consciousness. People should not have to sacrifice their lives this way to feed their families, and consumers of goods should not condone this kind of slavery.
Change comes hard.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Buy Local. Directly from the farmer if possible. Don't flush every time.

We just saw the film Queen of the Bees, an interesting and alarming documentary about bees and the urgency of their survival to the whole of the ecosystem.  We humans have been disrespectful of the gifts of the earth.  The film conveys the stark wrongness of miles and miles of almond groves which bees (who have miraculous directional instincts when left to their own devices) are trucked across the country to pollinate.
A week after we saw this film we saw Last Call at the Oasis, a scary movie about the source and lack of water.  Like the Bee movie, this documentary about water focused on water wasted and polluted by industrial agriculture.  They didn't forget Las Vegas either. 
In between the movies we visited our friends Val and Mark who manage the land at Shii Koeii (“She-Ko-eh,” Jicarilla Apache for “the people's water”) in Gardner Colorado. (Click the arrow in the middle of the sunflower to play shii koeii's kickstarter video). 
Here the land is fully respected and lived on without waste.  An electric wire surrounds the beehives to deter the bears, but the bees are free to do the job they do so well, succeeding even in a bone dry year.  Human waste is reused in a system that fertilizes trees instead of using water to flush it away to a treatment plant.  Seeds are saved to be reused again next year, un-beholden to Monsanto for their version of seed.  The straw bale, adobe dwelling place emerged from the earth and holds the heat from the sun; no gas is required to heat this home.  Solar panels on the chicken house and a single windmill provide electric power.
Meantime, we learned that Royal Dutch Shell is buying up the water rights in the Gardner area, presumably to use hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas.   The little Huerfano "River", which the goats are pictured drinking from in the video, can't afford this.
To keep this place where we live, with every step we must respect our relationship with the earth herself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ode to Posey Crumbpacker

Usually when we lose chickens it's due to the foxy foxes. 
Two of our chickens we know the heritage of and we got them when they were 5 weeks old  (Ginger the Buff Orpington and Rocky the Plymouth Rock).
  • One, a bantum, was given to a college student right before Christmas break as a gag gift and we ended up with it  (Melanie).
Seven of our girls came from a woman who couldn't keep them anymore and she couldn't bear to separate them.  
  • Little Maudie, a white bantum with a blue beauty spot and 5 furry-looking feathered toes on each foot.  
  • Three sisters of questionable heritage (Violet and Daisy the twins, and Hyacinth of lighter color). 
  • A Rhode Island Red (Rose).
  • Dorothy the gynandromorph Polish hen.
  • And Posey Crumbpacker, who laid the absolute largest eggs we have ever seen.
On Sunday we realized Posey was dead on the nest.  We believe she died from being egg bound.   Her eggs were not only large, but thin shelled.  Had we observed she was having trouble, we could have placed her in a place of moist heat and she may have been able to pass the egg naturally, but we did not realize she was in trouble. 
You were a winner Posey, and we'll miss you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Keep feeding the chickens, keep watering the plants.

When is it time to kill the chicken?
Today we collected a single egg.
20  legs of unknown chicken descent are hobbling around out there.
The price of corn is going to go up, has already gone up to $18 for a 50 pound bag. 
Here we happen to have photographed among our rescued brood, Rose, Daisy, Violet and Hyacinth (left to right, top to bottom).  Probably Rose lays eggs.  We aren't sure about the 3 sisters.  A dilemma.
It rained about an inch here all summer. Still the year ended again, with a bountiful harvest, despite the fact that this weather site  shows 2.5" precipitation for May/June/July/August combined.  In the garage we still have tomatoes to can and a root cellar with tomatillos I plan to process into salsa.  Have enough garlic to plant (still to be done) and last through until next summer. Have jars of pickles, applesauce, jams, juice, beets; frozen bags of corn, rhubarb, peaches, beans, peas, spinach, peppers.  Have pumpkins, some squash, a few cabbages.  Grew a watermelon I didn't even realize was there (it was DELICIOUS). 

Count it all joy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Back to Eden

I removed a pepper from the fridge today to use in a salad and it was so pretty I felt moved to take a photo of it.  Only when I cut the pepper did I realize there was a small hole in the bottom; and only when I opened the pepper did I realize there was an earwig (our nemesis) inside ...grazing.
My brother-in-law sent us a link to a video the other day, it's about 2 hours long.  Back to Eden chronicles use of wood mulch in organic gardening, among other things.  I'm mentioning it here because there was a bit in the movie about how it's a "good thing" when vegetables have been nibbled by insects--that we should be more concerned if that doesn't happen. Anyway, the pepper was still great, I just cut a little out of it, and said a little prayer of thanks for all the good that has come from our garden this summer.
The salad, one of my favorites for potlucks, was great.  I used up the rest of 2011's frozen corn.
Here's the recipe to alter as needed:
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (I cook a pot beans on weekends in the solar cooker and freeze them in smaller containers)--I rinsed the beans before using them
  • 4 cups frozen corn
  • a red pepper (or green if that's what you have)
  • an onion (whatever you have)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c lime juice (or today I had about 1/2 a lime and 1/2 a lemon)
  • salt to taste
  • a few teaspoons of cumin powder
  • a hot pepper, or a few tablespoons of hot pepper sauce
  • sprinkle with some cilantro if desired

Mix it all up at least 1/2 hour before serving.  The frozen corn will be just right and the salad will be cold for your potluck.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To frack or not to frac, that is the question

Earth flag in crisis!  The winds here have been blowing like the plains of Wyoming or Nebraska.  My recent view of our earth flag caused me to pause and reflect on its symbolic image of care for the planet that sustains us.  We have recently  become involved with others who are concerned about the consequences of under-regulated industry, in this case oil and gas development.  These neighbors were concerned about a gas well which was secretly being "fracked" near their homes.  Some things I had heard about natural gas production were good: mostly, cleaner than coal.  Much of what I heard about hydraulic fracturing of oil wells was bad: pollutes the ground water, pollutes the air, causes earthquakes, uses tons of clean water that cannot be recycled--a massive issue in a bio-region so short on water that farmers can't irrigate crops. 
Here is a link that explains hydraulic fracturing technology and responds to some of the questions and criticism of fracturing 2012.  This 2011 video of Cornell professor Tony Ingraffea is an hour and 45 minutes in length, but contains a lot of information about myths and truths of the "fracking" debate.

The oil and gas industry tells us that methane which causes people to be able to light their tap water on fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon, even when the people whose water quality has been compromised continually testify their water was clean until the point of horizontal drilling using hydraulic fracturing technology.
Colorado has over 50,000 oil and gas wells.   Here is a map showing all permitted wells, producing and not producing.  Wells which are not presently producing may be up for frac-jobs.  Appealing to emotionalism, here is food for thought from the middle of northeast colorado shale country:

Let's hear it for the renewable power of the sun.  Let's hear it for clean water for livestock and people.  Suffice it to say, living on earth is risky.  Farming is radical.  Learn what you can about what others are doing to the land we share, and why. 
Ask yourself who is accountable. 
We are.