Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CAFO: Preparing for the Fight

These are the Amish boys taking the cows to the neighbors to breed. They walk on the road to get there. The same road which will see a huge increase in truck traffic if the factory farm is approved. The Amish families going up the driveway for church. Some ride in the wagons and some walk behind. Either way it's dangerous with an increase in traffic on our quiet road.
Last night after work we went to get out taxes done. Yea! We don't have to pay! At least that was good news. I'll take it where I can get it now.
So yesterday, I was a little down in the dumps (to say the least) about the farm. I still am, but my "fight" is coming out now. We joined an organization called the Valley Stewardship Network yesterday. They are fighting against CAFO's in Vernon County. I'm already on the email list for the Crawford Stewardship Project which was instrumental in fighting the power company that wanted to take family farms for a dump to store the waste products from coal in our area. Today I am going to start writing our representatives up in Wisconsin. It is frustrating not being there when this is going on. If we were up there I would be holding meetings at our farm. I really feel that everyone's effort needs to be there 100%. I am not that great with discussing things at any length right now due to my "word finding" issues, but I could sure put myself to good use in some other way.
It has always been in the back of our minds that this could happen. Pretty much our worst fear. My second worse is a cell tower being erected close by. So far that hasn't happened.

Here is a link to an organization Wisconsin CAFO Watch. They have some good articles on the problems with factory farms. Another link to a petition site which you can sign and say why you think it isn't a good idea to have CAFO's. Their goal is 2,000 signatures. They have over 300 now. Please take the time to sign it if you can.
The last time (2007) this happened wasn't near our farm (but in our county) there were meetings being held in town to get the information out from both sides. Farmers drove their tractors to the one meeting when we were in town. We heard about the meeting through others that attended. The agricultural industries were scaring some of the farmers saying that all their rights would be taken away if the board voted against the factory farm. They said that it would leave the door open for non-farmers to "regulate" everything they did on their farm. See the link here for the article proclaiming victory for the hog farm that got approval.
So even though we want to be positive about the outcome and about being on the right side of this issue, the ability to fight anything agricultural is an uphill battle in Wisconsin.

So well-meaning farmers who are perhaps just not educated about the horrors of factory farms and the harm it causes to their livelihood will choose to fight for the CAFO. My hope is that what has happened lately with Wall Street and the banking industry has shown people that "big" doesn't have anything to do with honesty and caring about the "little guy".

Fight on...

Monday, March 30, 2009

At the Farm

We didn't get a lot done this weekend after catching up with the neighbors and finding out about the CAFO. The last time we were at the farm was Valentine's Day weekend. After being gone that long, it's like starting all over again. Steve did get a header for the basement door done and the doorway that will lead from the kitchen out to the shop area. We still have to figure out if we should go ahead with anything else. We also walked the property to look at all the trees and bushes we planted last spring and talked about increasing the garden size.We also unbolted these eight wood things (?) from the floor. Not sure what they were used for, but it was something to do with the Amish wood shop that was here. Steve went downstairs in the basement & stuck his head in the cobwebs and I stayed up top and held the wrench. Glad I got the better deal on that one!

It snowed a little Saturday night but we just got a light dusting. By the time we left, it had all melted off & the roads were dry. We plan on going back up this next weekend & hopefully every weekend after that for a while. We would like to get involved with the movement to keep the CAFO out of our county. (It would be great if they were outlawed altogether.)

Oh, we did celebrate Earth Day by switching off the light and reading by the solar lantern.

It's so hard to imagine not having the farm. :-(

CAFO. A very dirty word.

This weekend was an interesting one at the farm. It had it's good moments and it's bad moments. The drive up was fine. Stopped at Menards to get some more 2 x 4 's for putting up walls. Relaxed when we got to the farm. Went to bed early so we could be full of energy for the weekend. Eli came over to visit Saturday morning and told us some disturbing news. He had been to a meeting last week concerning the company that is trying to site a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in our county. The firm is from Rockford IL. They own several parcels in Vernon county. They have said that they will probably have a California company handle the operations of the CAFO. They have already changed their mind on two sites because of public outcry. The first was a mile and a half from the town of Westby. The second, a mile from Viroqua. They also own other land which is on our road. About 2 miles as the crow flys. We (and all of the neighbors) are downwind. Do you know what the manure form 3200 head of dairy cows smells like? The water useage is just unbelievable too. One hundred fifty gallons of water per cow per day. Bye-bye area wells.
A farmer/neighbor up the road stopped by as we were packing to leave Sunday with a petition to stop the CAFO & another petition stating we would not let them spread their manure on our property. You see, they have to get rid of the manure. If enough area people won't take it, they'll have to pay to truck it somewhere else. And then there is the road. Our road gets little traffic. A lot of Amish buggies, milk trucks from the small dairies and very little truck & car traffic. An operation like this would produce a huge amount of truck traffic. It makes me cringe thinking of all those trucks on the same road as the Amish in their buggies & the children walking to school. That's one thing that might be in our favor. The Amish school is practically next door to the site.
The way the law is in Wisconsin, it is only possible to fight a CAFO from an environmental standpoint and there are several loopholes (of course). Even if all the people in the area sign a petition against it, they can still do it if they want. We have what is called "Karst" topography in our area. Karst topography is a landscape created by groundwater dissolving sedimentary rock such as limestone. This creates land forms such as shafts, tunnels, caves, and sinkholes. Groundwater seeps into and through these land forms. The result is a scenic landscape which is beautiful but fragile, and vulnerable to erosion and pollution. This should be enough to keep them out of our area but Wisconsin is a very pro-agriculture state. Which is fine but factory farms aren't agriculture. They are corporations who mistreat animals and the land with no regard for the health of their neighbors or the environment.
And speaking of health...here is a article from the Westby Times quoting Peter Holzhauer, who is an emergency room doctor at Elmbrook Memorial Hospital, Milwaukee, who used his medical expertise to research the health hazards of CAFOs in the 2008 fight against a CAFO pig farm.
"Two direct human health risks have been linked to CAFOs: airborne particulates (with attendant odors serving to add insult to injury) and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.“The air pollution is a health risk, which, depending on prevailing winds and distance to populations, basically dissipates with time and wind. And generally there is a siting rule that the CAFO has to be half a mile from any population or even a farmhouse,” he said, noting in particular the dangerously higher incidence of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia near CAFOs.The other danger, he adds, is both less immediately detectable and more deadly. “The so-called MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) show a higher incidence near CAFOs,” he says, explaining that this and other e-coli bacteria have managed to build a resistance to human antibiotics through the overuse of animal antibiotics prevalent in CAFOs. “Part of the problem there is that about 70 percent of our antibiotics go into animals, and not for the purpose of preventing disease, necessarily, but for fattening them up for market. Therefore a CAFO is a prime situation for developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”He noted that the bacteria first show up among CAFO workers and eventually, through personal contact, can infect family and neighbors. It also shows up, Holzhauer said, in surface water runoff."
So, we are a little upset. The farmer/neighbor up the road is putting all his projects on hold until this is resolved. It leaves us in a similar situation. Do we keep working on our home and land in the hope that it won't happen or do we stop for now? We won't live in an area with such health concerns. But our land values would plummet and who would buy a farm downwind from a CAFO?
The land he owns up the road is only one of the sites. There are three other parcels of land he owns. We are in the middle of them.
I hope this resolves itself soon. There is a huge (stinky) cloud hanging over all of us now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Old Patterns

Just a note: We are up at the farm busily working on projects. I"ll post about the farm tonight or tomorrow when we get home. We have learned about some possible bad news which would greatly affect the farm. I'll post about that later...
Here are a couple of old patterns of my mother-in-laws.

I can't wait to use them on some dishtowels. Check out the price!

And here a couple patterns for bed jackets. Pretty fancy.

This one actually resembles my mother-in-law as a young girl.
Here she is.

Does anyone else have any old patterns that are just waiting to be used again?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Apple Gunk. What is it & what do I do with it?

It is something I decided to save in my freezer after processing apples for the sauce. Last fall I bought a food mill similar to this one.

After cooking the apples until soft, you run them through the food mill. The wide, flat area is where the sauce comes out & the cone-shaped attachment is where the skin & thicker apple parts come out. The part I call "gunk". I always cut up the apples before cooking, making sure no seeds are in the cooked apples. I really hate to throw away anything that might useable so I put containers of it in the freezer. I take it out & use it for smoothies in the morning. The pectin in the skin makes the smoothies quite thick after it sets a while so I add more water to thin.
I wouldn't recommend this to anyone using apples treated with pesticides. The chemicals are most concentrated in the skin. Please eat organic if at all possible. I know you pay a little more, but the savings come from less doctor visits. Really. Chemicals, bad. Nature, good.

Can you think of more ways to use "apple gunk"?

We are headed to the farm this afternoon..for sure...no doubt about it. Can you tell I'm excited???

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Till or No-Till. That is the Question

Last year's garden at first planting

To make the least impact on the soil, a no-till system would be the best from what I've read. It involves a lot of mulching, but leaves the micro-organisms intact (and the little worms happy). I would like to implement no-till gardening but need some advice. Has anyone tried it on a large garden? Do you end up with moles (or vole) problems?
We don't own a tractor yet but our neighbor is nice enough to let us use his or even till it himself like last year. We also have Amish neighbors who will walk the horses through, rough plowing the garden and adding manure from their barn. This year we asked them not to add the manure because it isn't composted, it's fresh. They will instead dump some for us in a place not yet determined, so it can age for a year before using.
This year my garden might grow to almost twice the size it was (I know, I'm a little crazy!) We would like to grow cover crops and rotate every year by taking a quarter of the space for cover crops. I haven't researched cover crops much yet, so if you have any advice on that, I'll take it. We need to decide on the no-till or till question so we can plan the layout of the garden. With a tractor & tilling, we need access for a straight shot across the garden. In a part of the existing garden (on the right), I would like to have all perennials (blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, herbs, etc.) This cuts off the long run of the existing garden. The blueberries, a few strawberry plants & asparagus are already in place so we don't wish to move them.
So, that is the dilemma. Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Keeper of the Doll

My mom's doll. The baby doll we always wanted to play with. It was kept in the closet on the top shelf. It was breakable so we couldn't play with it. Because of that, it was special. Not like any doll we had to play with. It is an Arranbee Dream Baby from the early 30's.

This is a picture of my mom's I found.
Not sure how old it is,
sometime when she was a child I guess.

And my sister before I was born. Practicing for my upcoming appearance.
I was given the honor of keeping the baby doll when my mom moved to assisted living. She is now up in my closet (the doll, not my Mom). Waiting for a grandchild to hold it.

When you were a child, did you ever think that dolls came alive after you went to sleep???

At least she's got good taste

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Apple Scions Are Officially Ordered

Apple picking helpful hint:

It is really hard to pick apples with the neighbor's cows.

I finally ordered the scions yesterday. Mark Shepard of Forest Agriculture Enterprises in Viola, Wisconsin is our friend, permaculture resource, and source for trees & now apple scion. We have twenty-five trees to graft this spring & needed to make a decision on what varieties to grow. Mark knows what grows best in our climate from experimenting on his 100 acre permaculture farm. Here are the varieties we will graft and a little information about each one:

Liberty-ripens in October & is a good sauce apple & keeps for months in storage
Priscilla-ripens in August & is a desert-type apple
Spencer-ripens late October & is a good eating, pie & sauce apple
Golden Russet-ripens late October & is a good cider apple
Tolman Sweet-ripens late September & is good for cider & drying
Rhode Island Greening-ripens late October & is a good tart cooking apple
Zestar-ripens early September & is good for pies, baking, cider & sauce
We also ordered a couple crab apple trees scions for color & fruit.
Dolgo Crabapple-has huge white flowers, is a good pollinator & is a good jelly apple
Radiant" red flowering crab-has pink flowers, berries in the winter & is a good pollinator. The fruit is insignificant.

My mouth is watering as I type :-) This will give us apples that will ripen at different times & for different uses. We will have a lot of apples when they all start producing! Cider is always an option. There is a cider mill in Illinois we go to every year as much as possible. It's called Gould's Cider. Good old-fashioned non-pastuerized cider. They have over 400 trees on site & purchase apples from other growers (usually Wisconsin).

The Gould's have been friends of my family for years. I went there when I was little to watch them press the apples which is run by an old tractor.
We can always take our excess there or the Amish down the road also press apples. We have asked our kids to save wine bottles for us so we can process some hard cider too.

Speaking of old tractors...here is my daughter & son-in-law on their wedding day posing in front of his dad's restored tractor. It was his grandpa's first tractor on the farm.

So one more thing crossed of the long list of to-do's. It feels good. I decided yesterday was "apple day" & stuck to it. Today is therapy day again so I probably won't be doing much tonight. But that's okay. I'll go home & see if I can find another pint of frozen applesauce in the freezer...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Cathy!

It's my sister's birthday today. Want to wish her a happy day!
She is the oldest of four. I'm sure she was glad she had all the attention before I was born. :-)
We've always been close. I consider her my best friend. When my younger brother was born, we joined up together to have an "all girls" club. Poor Bob. And she was the one who scared the daylights out of me letting me think there was a "furnace monster" down in the basement. We shared a room until she got married. Playing Barbie dolls & paper dolls until we got older & fell in love with The Beatles. Since she was older, she claimed Paul & I got George. We were also awesome badminton players. We'd play for hours, until it got dark & then go after the lightening bugs with our rackets (at least until the bats started flying around). In summer, as teens , we would stay up until early morning playing gin rummy. We were pom pom girls at the same time, she a senior & I a freshman.
She met her husband while attending the local college & they were married soon after. They are still happily married to this day. For that she is a role model. I haven't always had such luck in that department until I met Steve.
We don't always get to spend as much time together as we'd like due to the farm but when we do it is always a good time. A week of vacation in Minnesota each summer is our major time together. We've been going to the same lake since we were kids & now our kids (and her grandkids) still spent the time there.
So again, Happy Birthday Cathy & many more!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday's Chores

Today I'm getting some things done that have been put off for a while. The filing that has been piling up in the office, scanning old slides from my parents, some laundry. When I'm done with all that, the garden layout.
Yesterday I took my mom out to lunch. She has been going through a lot of boxes, sorting out the stuff she doesn't want. She gave me some sheer curtains that used to hang in the house we moved from when I was four. When I was scanning the slides, I found a picture of them hanging in that house. They are in perfect condition. Not sure where to use them but they are nice to have. She also gave me a lot of old linens (tablecloths, napkins, dresser scarves). I'll post a picture of them some other time. That's the laundry I'm doing.Did your parents ever use a tripod to get the whole family in the picture? Here my dad looks like he's about to get up to check why the camera hasn't gone off yet. My sister Cathy is the only one ready for the picture. How do you like that lamp/planter on the table?
Got to get back to work or I'll never get done. Need to leave some time for a walk. It's another great day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Little "Spring" in my Step

Okay, I've said it many, many times..."I can't wait til spring gets here!" It's here today & I am so happy it is! In the last couple of weeks there have been signs of it approaching. The sun is stronger, the birds are singing, worms are popping out after a rain. The tulips are up but not flowering yet. Not as many this year due to a very hungry family of chipmunks we had around here last summer.
Here are a few pics of spring...
Two years ago in March we closed on the farm. A week later (after the snow melted) we met the horses & cows that the Amish graze in the pasture out front. I'm sure they were happy to be eating the fresh grasses after a winter in the barn.This is Betty & Bob
The Jersey cow I just call Momma Cow since they breed her every Spring.
The other one isn't there anymore.

This is one picture that always reminds me of Spring. My first communion pic.
What an angel I look like. Ha ha. I still have the dress but not the veil.
An early Sunday morning all ready for church. We usually only went to church two times a year, Easter & Palm Sunday. My Mom is Catholic & my Dad wasn't. We still went to catechism on Saturday mornings though. The highlight was going to the drug store afterward & spending our allowance (25 cents) on candy. My favorites were Sweet Tarts, candy cigarettes, bubble gum, big jaw breakers, the straws with the flavored sugar in them... I guess I liked about every kind of candy :-) My mom required us to go to catechism until 8th grade when we were confirmed & then we could quit. We all did. None of us are practicing Catholics now.
I just read the post by Lisa at Another Day in Paradise.

It's about Spring being a new beginning, a time to learn new things. It really made me feel better especially after the day I had yesterday. So if you want to be uplifted, click on the link & read her post.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tired Musings on a Bright Sunny Day

Feeling a little tired and a little blue today. Yesterday was the worse as far as far as the tiredness. Am I anxious for spring? Yes. Am I blue because we aren't going to the farm this weekend? Of course. I am grateful to have the work we need to run our business? Oh yea. I just don't like when it gets in the way of the farm trips. Do I feel a little selfish when I say that? Yes. Should I? Probably not. I am not alone though. Steve is feeling the same way.
So yesterday I was extremely tired. It doesn't happen too often. But when I'm tired, I can't think straight or concentrate. Brain fatigue they call it. It's a lot worse since the accident. I think part of the fatigue was from the therapy session on Tuesday. We really did a lot of testing. My brain actually shut down. If you've never experienced that, it's kind of frightening. It just quits working. Period. And it doesn't take that much testing to get to that point. We are doing the tests these next couple weeks because I'm almost finished with therapy. There isn't anything else for them to do. I have reached a plateau. It's not because they or I didn't try our hardest. It's just all I am capable of. They taught me how to study with no distraction (put earplugs in & headphones on & go to a room with no distractions), but they can't teach me how to remember what I've studied. See, my long-term memories are still there, my short-term memory is the problem. Coming up with the right words in conversation is still hard too & other things too numerous (or boring) to mention. So I think the bright side (which there is usually at least one) is that I won't have to travel to the appointments anymore. Okay, there's two. I won't have to pay for the appointments anymore :-). That said, I will be trying to stay positive about all of that & not be blue for too long. That is a good thing about the brain injury...I don't remember things for too long so they can't bother me that much. No dwelling on, well, anything.
So by tomorrow, my mood will have brightened & all will be good here in Illinoisland. And I'll try to get a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Food We Ate as Kids

So I've been thinking...what processed foods do you remember eating as a kid?
Here is my list of five

1. Fish sticks
2. All soups-never had "real" soup as a kid
3. Tang-the astronauts drink
4. Frosted Flakes
5. Canned vegetables-rarely had fresh

Most nights for dinner we had meat, potatoes & a canned vegetable. Milk to drink, bread & butter always on the table & sometimes desert. When my parents went to play pinochle once a month or out to eat for their anniversary or birthday we would sometimes eat TV dinners. Most often though, we would eat pancakes for dinner those nights. My parents were "frugal". One piece of meat, you know, the "old size" not the new super-sized portion. Fill up on bread if you were still hungry. Actually I am grateful for that "portion control" of my youth. None of us have had a weight problem as we got older & I think it might have something to do with that.
Breakfast was usually cereal from a box or oatmeal with a glass of milk. Lunch was soup & sandwiches & again milk (or Tang when that came out. We really thought we were cool drinking what the astronauts drank). Bedtime snack was a small glass of milk or when we were older, Coke-A- Cola. The caffeine/sleep connection apparently wasn't made yet :-)
So that in a nutshell was my youthful diet. It kept me thin but not healthy. I suffered with asthma from the time I was seventeen until I changed my diet six years ago. Live & learn.

So...what are your top five processed foods as a kid?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maple Sugaring

It's another beautiful day in Northern Illinois. Supposed to be in the 70's today. I know it will change as of tomorrow but I'll enjoy it when I can get it. The birds are in constant song now, so happy that the ground is no longer frozen & they can get those tasty worms. There is something so soothing about hearing the sound of birds when laying in bed in the morning. What a nice way to wake up.

On Sunday, we went to a local forest preserve to watch a maple sugaring demonstration. We've never seen a tree being tapped or sap flowing so it was a great learning experience. We started out by walking around, identifying trees & looking for signs of Spring. The ranger then taught everyone how to measure a tree for age & also to see if it is big enough to tap. It was nice to see so many kids there. A tree needs to be 10-20 inches in diameter for one tap, 20-25 for 2 taps & over 25, three taps.

We then walked over to a display that showed the tools that were used by the Indians & others to tap the trees & collect the sap. Next was a tree that the sap was flowing freely. We got to taste the sap, but there was only a hint of sweetness to it.

This little guy seemed to like it!

Then on to where they were cooking the sap down into syrup. It takes 40-60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup and the energy used to boil it down. That's why it's so expensive to buy.
After the demonstration, we took a long walk around the forest preserve.

Hopefully this weekend we will be able to go up to the farm if all goes well at work. I wonder if Eli is still collecting sap? I would like to see their method. I'm also going to bring them some echinacea tincture to trade for some maple syrup & maybe some butter. I miss the farm!

Some Irish Medical Lore

Let me start out by saying I am 1/4 Irish on my Mom's side. Just so you know I'm not "Irish Bashing" :-)

Here are a few things the Irish were said to do for medical cures.

1. For the Mumps-Wrap the child in a blanket, take it to the pigsty, rub the childs head to the back of a pig, and the mumps will leave it and pass from the child to the animal.

2. For Water on the Brain- Cover the head well with wool then place oil skin over and the water will be drawn up out of the head. When the wool is quite saturated the brain will be free and the child cured.

3. For toothache-Carry in your pocket the two jaw bones of a haddock for ever since the miracle of the loaves and fishes these bones are an infallible remedy against toothache and the older they are the better as nearer the time of the miracle.

4. How to Go Invisible- Get a raven's heart, split it open with a black hafted knife, make three cuts and place a black bean in each cut. Then plant it and when the beans sprout put one in your mouth and say- By virtue of satans heart, and by strength of my great art, I desire to be invisible, and so it will be as long as the bean is kept in the mouth.

Okay. Not going to try any of those! Hope you all have a safe & fun St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recipe Using the "Soon to be Harvested" Strawberries

Here is a great sounding dip recipe. I don't know if I can wait for the strawberries to ripen. It was in a book from the library called "The Backyard Beekeeper's Honey Handbook" by Kim Flottum.
Very Pink Dip

1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons mild-flavored honey
1 1/4 cup mashed strawberries with juice

In a medium bowl, blend together all the ingredients,
stirring until well mixed.
Cover & chill until needed.
Serve with fruit.

Makes 2 cups

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Old Sewing Notions

I love old stuff! Here is some of the items I have received from my mom & grandma, Steve's mom & my ex-mother in law. I love how they tied up the buttons with thread.
Here is my button stash. It's fun going through
them & seeing some from the clothes I wore as a child.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Busy Day

Well, I got a few things on my list done. One of them was to take a walk. Here are some pictures of where I walked. This is an area next to the subdivision we live in in Illinois. It is a path that winds through the woods. A creek runs by it & three retention ponds are on the other side. It's really a beautiful area. Just hearing the creek gurgling & the birds singing is enough to make my day.
Not many people were outside today. It is so nice out. Where is everyone? We usually don't see too many kids outside playing. I think they must be inside playing video games or watching TV. It's sad. They need that connection with nature. How else will they learn how to take care of the earth & respect it?
Steve called a little while ago & has landed at the airport. Glad to have him home. Now if I can keep him away from the shop tomorrow :-)
Steve will be home tonight from his ski trip. Yea! It's been just Mia & I all week besides time visiting with son Shane & sister Cathy. Oh & I went to the shop twice to catch up with the mail. Don't like to come back to a desk piled high on Monday morning. So I have some unfinished projects to do today. Things I promised myself I would get done this week. But it is a beautiful day today. Supposed to be almost 50. I think a walk in the woods would be time well spent. There is something about being outside that clears my head. That nature connection. I have always been one to be outside. Not so much in the winter, but when it's nice out, I feel so cooped up in the house or at work. My camera needs a work-out too. Too much time has gone by without any outdoor pics. Mia is getting tired of posing for me.This is Mia, in the sun, relaxing at my feet while I write,
looking annoyed that I bothered her for another picture.

So on my schedule today...
Make more bread dough & let rise
Finish the gardening book I started
Do more garden planning
Finish looking up stuff for our taxes
Put misc. papers, etc. away in our spare bedroom
And most important...take a walk

Steve won't be home until midnight, maybe I'll get it all done :-)
We'll see how I do. Once I wrote it down, sounds like more than I want to tackle in one day. There's always tomorrow...

Speaking of tomorrow. There is a maple sugaring event at our local forest preserve from noon until 4. It's supposed to be another beautiful day, high 55 & sunny. See if I can keep Steve away from the shop so we can go together. If not, I'll probably go by myself.

Time to stop writing & get a start on the list. Blogging is really addicting.

Have a great weekend!

Do You Know Your Frost Dates?

If not, here is an awesome website that allows you to pick your state & gives you the frost dates, early & late & the number of frost-free days on average in your specific area.
A great site for gardeners!

Last years beans coming up

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sewing With What We Have On Hand

The last couple of days, I have been sewing between doing other projects. I hemmed a few pairs of jeans from my daughter who is a little taller than me but wears tall heels. I also made some bulk food bags from t-shirts I haven't worn for years & wouldn't be missed. (I still have tons more to wear for working around the farm). Here is a pic of the t-shirts I used. Every one with a memory of something fun we did. This is a project that saves that memory from going in a rag bag.
Here is what I did. This shirt is the stretchy jersey-type material. Just cut off the top of the shirt, turn inside out & sew a bottom hem.

To make the draw string top, simply fold over a 1/2 to one inch hem (depending on the size of the tie material) and sew leaving a small opening for fishing the tie through. Here is how to use a safety pin to guide the shoe string through. I had some old shoe strings on hand but you can use ribbon, string or sew your own tie. You can also make your hem for the tie minus the opening & using very sharp scissors or thread cutter, cut a slit in the hem area at the front of the bag & fish the tie through. That way the tie will be centered & on the outside of the bag like this...Here are a few of the bags I finished. Old buttons were sewn on the ends of the ties to keep the tie from getting lost in the hem. You could also tie big knots too if you don't have any buttons to use. Oh, and the scrap fabric left over, can be used as rags with your non-toxic cleaners. No waste.

There is a great food co-op in Wisconsin by the farm that has a lot of bulk food. I just couldn't stand the thought of using plastic bags to buy the bulk items any more. These will be easy to throw in the wash & re-use again & again. The smaller one I made for the raw nuts we bring for lunch everyday at work. They are a staple in our vegetarian diet. I am also planning on making some bags lined with nylon-type material from a couple of old windbreakers we have laying around. Who knew that saving old clothes would pay off in such a good way.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Useful Gardening Website

This site has a lot of information. You can type in your
zip code & find out the best planting times. Very useful!