Friday, June 27, 2008

Excuse me...

some of my posts seem to have disappeared. No...I don't think anything ominous about it :-D Just a bit of bad luck and blogger. I will try and re post later.
Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 16, 2008

What will you refuse to give up?

So, I have been tagged for a "meme" (that word again!) by Robbyn at The Back Forty. Ahhh..those paybacks! :-D

I admit, I had wondered if it would make it around to me after reading it on a few other sites and..... irregardless of whether it did or not ....I had been pondering the question a bit on my own.
Because...especially as oil becomes higher and food more expensive and raises just don't seem to get you farther ahead (just keep you from falling back) it seemed like a really good subject to mull over in my head or in my blog.

Now of course everyone's blog is a bit different. Some people take the question more from a "peak oil perspective" and others seem to be coming from an "green" perspective. The two are really intertwined and I think that was pretty much the whole point. So what couldn't I do without? I mean REALLY without. I have thought about that a lot....and maybe more than some people my husband and I have lived many years "dabbling" in .....what to call it? Peak oil practices? Heritage living? Organic/sustainable living? So..because of that I know I could live without many things, however some things are more difficult to "substitute" for.

I don't think there is anything that I couldn't absolutely live without (if I had to I mean...because I do enjoy some of these things after all). I mean really anyone can if they need or want to survive however what if we want to live well....well..that's a different thought all together now. But what if we want to do it in such a way as to not have to "step" on others or be unsustainable . What then?
I have found over time that most of the things we feel we need and can't live without at one time, or even now, have a sustainable option. Sometimes they cost more though, or are more dependent on our society as a whole joining in to accomplish. Like running water. Many ancient (back before the middle ages by far) did actually HAVE running water. took great societies working together to keep it working and running. All without being an environmental disaster. We however like to either think the way we do it is so so so much better or we ignore the fact that it is unsustainable. Think sewage treatment here...there are working viable alternative options to chemical sewage treatment but they require a bit more work and are "unknown" and people are not as comfortable with them as they are chemical treatment. They actually can work better and are better for us and the environment. Why not use them more often?
Sometimes as in the case of something as simple as "eat local" it's a matter of slightly more work. You have to find local growers and/or BE a local grower. Not always an easy job.
Are we willing to give up 4 hours a day of t.v ( or computer....and that's on average supposedly) to live a more sustainable life? I thought to myself one time...Heck I don't watch 4 hours of t.v a day! No way! I don't watch any t.v series or weekly/daily shows at all hardly. However, when I started paying attention to the bit of news I watched and a bit of t.v during the afternoon with my lunch and a bit before bed....I watch about 2 1/2 hours a day. Add some computer time and tah dah! Go figure! Could I be doing something better with my time though?

What about as a society? Why don't we have gray water recycling in all new building codes? It is a viable solution. Why don't we have better insulation codes...mandatory ones. Why don't we have more green roofs and solar panels on big large manufacturing plants?
I know..we're a democracy and shouldn't force this on people. It's a sticky wicky isn't it? But...could we be doing it anyway because we know we NEED to? Without having the government tell us too?

So....below I have listed a few things that I would find harder to do without or to change my ways and adjust too. This could be because they require more work/thought or more money or even just more innovation. However...they are doable and something, someday, I hope to address in my own life so I am "walking the talk" a bit more than now.

Electricity....which would mean no t.v , no computer, no lights, no ....wait. First can use a solar panel so some of these things would still be available. However, we DID live without t.v for 2 years as a family. None. nothing. nada. We lived without it and had small kids too----and they SURVIVED!!.
The first month is a booger...but the withdrawal symptoms eventually fade. This was "pre" internet so...I know I could live without that too if I had to. I have to admit though...the internet is like having your very own personal updated daily set of encyclopedias. Hard to do without that...especially on this type of subject. the south what do you do if there is no electricity and no cheap propane/gas/diesel etc to run refrigeration? Now THAT I would have trouble with. I would have to learn how to use a root cellar and some things would have to be bought fresh milk. Because even a root cellar in the south will not keep milk cold and fresh for long. Hence...cheeses and butter would be made a lot more. I like cold milk (sometimes on ice), and drinks and veggies and ..and I don't always like cured ham and cured meats so....well you get the picture.

Car/Truck/vehicles.....O.k. here's a sticky one. I have land and animals...but not enough land to feed all the animals all the time. So....I need a vehicle to get hay for winter or sometimes grains/minerals etc. How do you haul that without a vehicle? I'm not carrying it! Of course there is horse and wagon but I do not have room to feed a horse to pull a would I share with a neighbor? Trade say milk or eggs or pork for occasional use of the horse and wagon?
Obviously I am assuming I will grow most of my own food and because I do live in the country more than the city there would be people to trade my excess eggs for some of their squash or vice versa. Or their wagon.
But what about my husband that drives to work about 20 miles one way? Our neighbor, since we have known him RIDES his bike everyday to a place very close to my husbands work. So...obviously it is feasible. Also, because he has done it for so only takes him about a half hour longer to get home than my husband in a car. Traffic for the car you know--- but not the bike.
Not saying I would completely like this but...
Another thought is that there are electric cars able to be charged by solar panels. They only go about 30 miles and only get up to 45 but...hey. It's an idea. Can they haul a round bale though? Would my husband be run over if he drove one? 70 in the 55 section of the highway is NOT unusual in this state....and you generally do not get a ticket for it unlike in some states. So....45 is awfully slow compared to that.

Oil/gas to heat/cook with.
Cooking...well we could use a solar cooker about half the time. Something I should purchase and learn how to use. But what about canning food...or would I have to dry all of it and/or eat more "in season" than I do now (which really is still not "in season" like people would have eaten 100s of years ago). I would also have to learn how to like more foods. Fermented cabbage is o.k...but not my fave.
O.k here's another one. Now my house is ideally situated to the south. The original owner ...well...he did do that correct. But on a really cold winter day and/or a cloudy/rainy day, we still need supplemental heat. Yes, we use gas. (Bummer---especially this year.) We could however (maybe) be able to produce enough methane here, on our property, like the Chinese do, to supplemental heat our house and definitely cook with. Lots of work though. Another idea is wood heat---though are house is wide and spread out...not easy to heat with just one stove.
And if all of us are doing it...we could quickly deplete wood sources. Coppicing though...well that's a great thing that can be done even on the smallest of home lots to help supply a heating source for a home. Something I have been meaning to practice...but have been too "lazy" to do. Or maybe the alternative has just been so easy I haven't bothered. Tulip poplars, which grow amazingly well here in my area, seem to be from my observations, ideally suited to coppicing....and maybe that is where I will start my experiment. It's easy to find European trees suited to this in literature...since they have been doing it for a long time...but not many American trees. Americans have had an abundance of oil, gas and need to learn anything else. Maybe now though...we do need to learn "new" (or maybe that's old) technologies.

Air conditioning. Again..being in the south this is a tough one. But yes, again I have, in the south (Texas and Georgia), lived without air conditioning. Not that it's always pleasant and of course...we are supposedly a bit hotter and without as much forested areas as there was a 100 years ago. Could I do it? Of course..if I had to....and it does require adjustment and change. No 3 piece suits for men while hanging around in the house in August. But again...there are alternatives.
What about the solar "machines" that produce ice while sitting out on the beaches of hot climate areas? If a machine can use ammonia running through tubes, powered by the sun to make ice...well then it can darn well cool my house. Maybe with modifications and maybe just during parts of the day.. but hey any bit helps right? Now tell me? Why hasn't someone come up with this idea on a better scale? Maybe it is expensive and I wouldn't be able to afford it...but you think no one can? Humph!
Also, has anyone heard of wind or earth tubes? They even help remove humidity from the incoming air. Here are some links:
and some more ideas here.
If your interested in this technology try other search word combos. You'll find quite a bit about it.

A lot of other things have alternatives so I guess the subject is back to the title of "what will you refuse to give up?" However, maybe that should be changed to "what will you exchange" to keep living the way you do. What are you willing to exchange....time, money, effort, habits..... so you can accomplish or acquire the things you are unwilling to give up?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Raw Milk---friend or foe?

So, as some of you know we unfortunately joined the VOLUNTARY scrapie eradication program years ago. However, as we sell off our sheep and quietly try to remove ourselves from this program (and correspondingly NAIS---which I am completely against) we find our selves in the direct line of the state vet.

Now...the state vet here is a good enough guy if not a bit misguided in my opinion. When he came this past April for our annual check ----so my sheep could go to their new owner without compromising the new owners scrapie status----he tried to encourage me to join NAIS.
Now...the problem I have with this, as he spent an extra 1/2 hour of his time to try and encourage me "just to fill out the paperwork---it's no big deal" is some comments he made. When we spoke of a few of the problems with NAIS....he agreed with me that NAIS wouldn't help. So, if he doesn't feel NAIS lives up to what it promises...why push it???

Now, today I receive this letter from him. And let me tell you...I never asked to get emails from them. (Quickly, off topic...the state vet called me the other day with a question about my sheep and told me that he had corresponded with Ohio about some sheep I purchased last year. The lady's scrapie status was in question and so they were going back through her EMAILS sent over the past YEAR by her to the Ohio scrapie program/state vet office to find out about the animals in her flock and whether she had purchased new ones. So let me tell you...Pappa Bear is watching you and keeping your emails if you correspond with him in any form or fashion.)

Here's part of the letter with part of it's attachment:

FYI For those of you that make cheese, I thought you might find this interesting. M. bovis is rare in cows in the US and even less likely to be found in a goat. However, we can not be too safe when it comes to consuming unpasteurized milk from any animal.

Stan Crane, DVM
Designated Scrapie Epidemiologist
Georgia Department of Agriculture
19 MLK Jr. Dr., S.W.
Room 105
Atlanta, GA 30034


Date: 6 Jun 2008
Source: News Inferno [edited]

A rare form of [human] tuberculosis [TB] due to _Mycobacterium bovis_
has emerged and has been traced to illegal, unpasteurized dairy
products, including tainted 'queso fresco' cheese. The outbreak is
rising among Hispanic immigrants in Southern California and is also
raising fears about a revival of this strain that was nearly
completely destroyed in the USA in the 1900s.

The increase in this TB is being seen chiefly in San Diego,
particularly among children who drink or eat dairy foods made from
the milk of infected cattle, but _Mycobacterium bovis_ TB can infect
anyone who eats contaminated fresh cheeses sold by street vendors,
smuggled across the Mexican border, or produced as so-called "bathtub
cheese" made in home tubs and backyard troughs. The problem
originates from cattle in Mexico, where _M. bovis_ infects about 17
percent of herds; occasional outbreaks among isolated herds affect
the USA.

This rare TB accounts for about 10 percent of all new TB cases in the
California border region. "_M. bovis_ TB is a disease of antiquity,"
said Timothy Rodwell, a researcher who led a study published by the
federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "It is
important that it not be allowed to re-emerge as a cause of TB in
this country."

Unfortunately, this species is uniformly resistant to one of the
front line anti-TB drugs [pyrazinamide]. Adults who contract _M.
bovis_ TB are more than twice as likely as those with traditional TB
to die before completing treatment.

Researchers analyzed nearly 3300 culture-confirmed cases of TB in San
Diego between 1994-2005. Approximately 265 were identified as due to
_M. bovis_; this increased by nearly 65 percent, rising from 17 to 28
cases annually. By 2005, over half the _M. bovis_ cases were diagnosed
in children under 15. The majority were in Hispanics, 60 percent from
Mexico. Between 2001-2005, 19 adults with _M. bovis_ died before or
during treatment. Dr. Kathleen Moser, director of TB control programs
for San Diego County, said: "It's clearly being seen in places where
people drink unpasteurized milk and eat unpasteurized dairy products."

In California, 108 million pounds of legal, properly pasteurized
'queso fresco' and other cheeses were produced last year [2007],
according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Last
year, Moser launched a public health campaign, and agricultural
officials seized over 375 pounds of "bathtub cheese" from an open-air
market in San Bernardino, according to Steve Lyle, the agency's
director of public affairs. Such illegal cheeses have been infected
with _Salmonella_, _Listeria_, _Escherichia coli_, and _M. bovis_.

Rodwell cautioned that people worried about _M. bovis_ TB should pay
close attention to dairy products, not people. "It is not a disease
you are very likely to get from a foreign-born person," he said. "The
increase in _M. bovis_ cases is more about what you eat, not where
you were born."

Now here is the problem with this. In my search mostly what I seemed to find was that this disease was shown over and over not to come specifically from drinking the raw milk but from the fact that:

Some cattle had the disease and WORKERS caring for them came in contact with the lesions and then became infected and passed it along to friends and family through coughing and sneezing. Supposedly they can sneeze or cough (yuk, but it does happen) onto the raw milk and THEN you will get it while drinking it---possibly. I am not defending this disease by any means. It is serious and irregardless we don't want cattle to have it...transmit it to the people caring for them and then those people transmit it to us. But why, and of course I can guess, pass along this seemingly misleading information that seems to say if you drink raw milk....that is how you will get it and no other way? TB is passed through coughing and sneezing...why say don't worry about people that may have it (which it does in the above article)...just the raw milk you might drink?

In my search for information this blog linked up some good information. Though it is older than this new "article" now circulating.
Also, notice the article says its difficult to treat and resistant to one "frontline" drug used to treat it in some cases? Oh, do I wonder why that is so..(can you hear the sarcasm?)

How about this Canadian site.

Update 6/12/08 here is an older government site. It makes a comment about getting the disease through raw milk but then farther on it does talk about how this form is transmittable through captive/farmed deer also. many of you drink raw deer milk?...please raise your hand.

This, in my opinion is a load of hockey puck. This misinformation is passed along in this case by the Georgia STATE VETS office. More people have problems with our "supposedly" safe industrial meat products than they do raw milk. Maybe if we all drank raw milk it would be higher....but maybe not. Who's to say since the government won't let us, in this fine democracy we live in, drink raw milk without practically going to jail for it. And absolutely getting in trouble with the law if we sell it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Frost Dates

I know...your wondering why, now that it is hot outside, I am already speaking of frost. Seems silly doesn't it? And before we get into this too far I would like to offer up the most accurate ,for my area, sites that I found for frost dates. The first...which I could not see (computer problem?) is from NOAH and probably is the most accurate. I say that though without actually seeing it so if you find it to be grossly incorrect please pardon me. Set up by state it is graded in scales of 32 degrees, 30 degrees, 28 degrees etc. So, it seems like it could be very helpful. Another is at USA gardener.....and seems to be correct. It does not have my first fall frost in the middle of November as some sites do (when that used to occur I don't know!) but at the first of October as it usually is.

So, back to the reason for frost dates at the beginning of summer. We decided with the advent of the poor economy and higher fuel prices that we needed to be more pro-active about growing MOST of our own food---besides I am staunchly organic so we'll eat better anyway.
We have decided to be even more serious than we have in the past. Yeah, yeah, we have grown fall lettuce and had a few kale plants make it into winter etc etc. We also have started tomatoes 8 weeks early and were the first in our neighborhood to bite a home grown tomato, however that was always just "fun" food.
Serious food growing and stocking requires, I realize, a completely different thought process than I have been taught or know how to do. I figure it will take me a few years to really "get it right", but every bit helps and all things are learning tools. And really its not only just about how to grow it either---it's also learning what to grow and how to store it AND keeping it all organized so you eat it before its bad and in a timely manner. I one wants to eat everything and find out all they have left are 25 cabbages and a few rotten potatoes. :-)

So not only will we put a few more tomato plants and maybe some other summer harvest items in the ground soon----to keep the harvest going you know----but we are also going to get organized to plant our fall and winter garden when the appropriate time comes along. Some of this "organization" is actually useful items that will take time to acquire more grow frames. Some of the organization, though, is just a matter of learning and assimilating ideas I may never have known or practiced previously and then becoming comfortable with them and their use.
One of the things I find the hardest and "oddest" about trying to supply in season year round food is that you have to "think" summer in winter and winter in summer. Which means that now, or within the not to distant future of the next 3 weeks, I NEED to order my fall seeds so that they will be ready to start. Seeds of things like: cabbages, broccoli, kales, chards, celery, some onions, garlic (of course---thats an easy one though!), lettuce, spinach, beets (never have grown or eaten), turnips (same as beets), parsnips, and winter grains. Many will need to be transplants to make it in time for winter and there for need to be started in my house at the first of August at the latest. Of course some will be straight sown right into the garden but they will need to be planted in August or by the middle or end of it to have time to make it, with enough size, into winter.
I guess that is part of the reason why I have never been serious. Planting in August is...well....weird. It's HOT. And it's often DRY. So, to help with this I am for the first time going to grow my own starts in my house for things like cabbage and broccoli. For those things started outside, like carrots which can not be transplanted, I will experiment with shade frames to help cool the soil while they sprout. Maybe some of the seeds will also be "pre sprouted" the day or two before planting. These are all things I have heard that work well for late summer plantings and so I will try and stay organized enough to use them.

For shading the plants my favorite tool so far is one I have used for years to help tender plants in the spring not quite ready for full sun but must, for whatever reason, be planted into the garden. The planting of 200 lavender slips comes to mind here ---though they definitely weren't food. (Almost all died by the way with the above average, almost flooding rains, we had the winter after planting them. Very freak.) However, right after planting those small rooted guys it immediately went to the 90s and they needed help ---they were doomed from the start I personally believe. So out came some rolls of galvanized wire. Grids of .....2x 4 maybe? Not floppy, but not the stiffest most expensive wire either. If you choose a 3 or 4 foot tall roll you can just cut off how wide you want each section to be and all will be the same length---easy to work with in a row for whatever length bed you have. Bend them slightly into an arch and viola----instant, easy, movable and long lasting, light weight frame to lay shade cloth over. Because of the grids you can tie to it or pin the cloth down easily. Also, because they are bendable you can use them in other areas for other things and then re bend them to put back over your garden beds again. They also stack fairly well since they are the same length and all about the same width. I drive a piece of rebar into the ground, out of the way, and just stack them up it when I am finished with them. Another use for them is to set them over beds with new seedling in the "maintenance" workers in your family don't weed eat the new seedlings down before they actually look like some worth keeping. Or so that you remember you planted something there and don't pull it yourself or forget to water it.
By the way.... I buy "shade cloth" at home depot or Lowes. They sell burlap in rolls and it work FABULOUS and is cheaper and easier than poly cloth. I usually cut most of it up the center, to halve it, since I find for shade cloth I don't need it to be 3 foot wide. At least not for my beds anyway. It's not a problem if low sun sneaks in at the bottom...your mostly trying to keep the high, hot sun off them. And if the plants are very tender or its very hot...I put two layers of burlap over the frame and then over time as it cools or the plants establish I work one layer off then the other when appropriate. Another great thing about burlap is that it is natural....not made from petroleum as the poly fiber is. Not that poly doesn't have its place but....
I have had my burlap for 4 years now. I don't use it much so it may not always last that long. However I am good about laying it out on the drive to fully dry and then folding it up and storing it in a rubbermaid bucket. So I always know where it is and it is safe and dry until the next need. Mine is still in very good shape I do believe even with more use than mine gets it would last a fair bit of time.

So, I have decided that for the next few weeks I will occasionally post on this forum about fall/winter veggie gardening. I also have some articles from some of those old Organic Gardening magazine I spoke of that are about this topic too.
Another topic I will also address are the plants that we will grow (or hope to grow!). I noticed as I read the only book I could borrow from the library on cooking with grains (not a very good book) that most of the recipes called for the same three ingredients over and over. How boring. I realized, as I had already to a small extent previously, that most of us have a very limited "pallet" of food to choose from which also hinders our ability to grow out of season. Maybe a better way of saying it would be: In season. However it is grains and many veggies are "uncomfortable" to me. Not that I think they taste bad but I did not grow up eating them and so coming up with an off the cuff dish that will taste good is difficult at best for me. I cook a bit out of my head...just knowing what I like and what I think will taste good together experience with flavors of things helps a lot when deciding what to eat for dinner each night. I do not like monotony in my food. No meatloaf Tuesday for me thank you.
And beyond taste, if the majority of the food you eat and serve is tomatoes and peppers....then it's darn hard to grow them year round even with a greenhouse. Stocking up becomes your only option---and really fresh picked food is the healthiest over all and the least energy intensive.

One last thing if you haven't read the Elliot Coleman books I highly recommend them. Even though his climate is miles different than my own the ideas on movable greenhouses and cold frames are well worth the cost of the books.
Another to learn quite a bit from is Solar Gardening by the Poissons. Another "pick their brain" book to gain ideas from.
And lastly if you like me have not grown up eating lots of different foods but are open to trying new and unique varieties that may do very well in your area, then get a really good vegetarian cookbook. They are amazing to help you work out different ways of eating unfamiliar items. One I recommend is How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Not only does it have recipes but it also has "extra" suggestions for changing and altering recipes and going "off the cuff". Yes, there are other good ones too...but if you don't know where to start there is a suggestion.
Lastly...does anyone know of a really good Grain cookbook? That seems to be my to use grains without everything being similar in taste.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Book recommendation

If your looking for something "light" to read but that address things you are concerned about (food, organics, sustainable agricultural, humanity in general, farms etc) check out this book I borrowed from my local library.
I didn't think much of it...but hey it's free to borrow it. However after starting it I found it easy to read and enjoyable.
It's not to long and broke up in such a way that it's easy to put down and come back to if needed.
Borrow it if you can..or buy it. Either way I think you will find it enjoyable to "experience" some of the ups and downs of a man who makes his living selling organic produce in New York City.

The book is: It's a LONG ROAD to a TOMATO ...tales of an organic farmer who quit the big city for the (not so) simple life. by Keith Stewart

Organic Gardening Magazine April 1978

Millet Jim Bolick

People living in areas where conditions make it difficult to grow conventional crops might be more successful in growing millet, one fo the most versatile of all grain crops.
Since prehistoric times, farmers have cultivated millet for human consumption. The main attribute of millet that's made it an attractive food crop is that it's so rugged. It'll grow well where it's too hot, too dry, or where the growing season is too short for other crops, but it also produces well under favorable conditions.
Besides being rugged, perhaps the greatest advantage of millet is that it uses water so efficiently. Proso millet is superior to any domestic crop in converting water into grain. Agricultural researchers in eastern Colorado have shown that millet can yield about 45 bushels per acre with 13 inches of water. In contrast, wheat produces only about 15 bushels with the same amount of water.
Other traits of millet include quick maturing (60 days after it's planted) few insect or disease problems if grown under semiarid conditions, a need for little , if any, fertilizer, and, depending on the type grown, a practical use for everything from puffed cereal to winter floral decorations.
There are three types of millet, and each has it specific uses. In this country, proso millet is grown for the birdseed market. Foxtail millet is grown for livestock feed and for birdseed. Pearl, or cattail, millet is used as a forage crop in the southeastern U.S. The plants themselves all can be fed to livestock as forage. Also, millet grain can be fed to chickens, pigs, or cows. Unprocessed grain can be given to chickens, but has to be dehulled or flaked before being fed to pigs or cows.
Greg Hinze, a Colorado State University agronomist and one of this country's millet experts, says dehulled proso grain can be used for human consumption as a hot breakfast cereal when cooked or as a puffed cereal. Dehulled, ground prose millet can be used for flour. As compared to wheat, proso millet four has about one percent less protein, a little more fat, but about three times the amount of fiber. Hinze recommends the variety abarr as the best proso millet for gardeners who might be interested in growing some specifically for grain.
However, for gardeners who aren't able to dehull and grind their own grain, or who don't have livestock to feed it to, millet offers another attractive alternative. It's possible to sell heads from foxtail and pearl millets to florist who use the heads in floral decorations.
Under dryland conditions (12 to 13 inches of moisture, including existing soil moisture) pearl millet grows to about 5 or 6 feet tall. Under irrigation it can reach 12 feet. Irrigations will increase the yields of both proso and foxtail types.
Millet should be planted shortly after the last frost. But since it matures quickly, it can be planted as late as July or August, depending upon growing conditions. For prompt germination, sow seed into a moist soil. Cover seed with moist soil, but hold it to less than one inch even on sandy or light soil. Covering depth should be less under heavy soils.
You can plant millet solid like you would plant a lawn plot, broadcasting the seed over well-worked soil and raking it lightly in. Or you can plant it, in rows, very shallow, with about a plant every inch or so. If planting in midsummer, plant deeper, one to two inches, to make use of available moisture when the weather is dryer.
Growers interested in millet might encounter difficulty in finding seed, especially if they don't live near areas where farmers cultivate the crop. Hinze offers two possible solutions to this problem. The first is to go to the supermarket and buy a bag of wild birdseed. The major ingredient in this package normally is yellow, white or red millet grains. Other ingredients are sorghum (milo), sunflower seeds and wheat. The small, oval grain is the millet, which can be taken directly from he bag and planted. The only drawback to this method is that gardeners will know only that they're getting either a proso or foxtail millet: they won't know exactly which until the crop emerges. The next suggestion is to contact Hinze and have him send you some---so I am leaving that information out since it is outdated.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Too bad

This off Yahoo news---and I have to say ....What a bummer!

HONOLULU - Federal officials have confirmed what biologists have long thought: The Caribbean monk seal has gone the way of the dodo.

Humans hunting the docile creatures for research, food and blubber left the population unsustainable, say biologists who warn that Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seals could be the next to go.

The last confirmed sighting of a Caribbean monk seal was in 1952 between Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service confirmed Friday that the species is extinct.

Kyle Baker, a biologist for NOAA's Fisheries Service southeast region, said the species is the only seal to become extinct from human causes.

The seals were first classified as endangered in 1967, and wildlife experts investigated several reported sightings over the past few decades. But officials determined they were other seal types.

The federal agency says there are fewer than 1,200 Hawaiian and 500 Mediterranean monk seals remaining, and their populations are declining.

"We hope we've learned from the extinction of Caribbean monk seals, and can provide stronger protection for their Hawaiian and Mediterranean relatives," Baker said.

The Hawaiian monk seal population, protected by NOAA, is declining at a rate of about 4 percent annually, according to NOAA. The agency predicts the population could fall below 1,000 in the next three to four years, placing the mammal among the world's most endangered marine species.

"When populations get very small, they become very unstable," Baker said. "They become more vulnerable to threats like disease and predation by sharks."

Vicki Cornish, a wildlife expert at the Ocean Conservancy, said the fate of the Caribbean monk seal is a "wake-up call" to protect the remaining seal populations.

"We must act now to reduce threats to existing monk seal populations before it's too late," she said. "These animals are important to the balance and health of the ocean. We can't afford to wait."

Monk seals are particularly sensitive to human disturbance. And the sea creatures have been losing their food supply and beaches, officials say.

"Once Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean were teeming with fish, but these are areas under severe fishing pressure," Cornish said. "They'll eat almost anything — shellfish or finned fish — but their food supply is waning and they're in competition with man."

The Caribbean monk seal, first discovered during Christopher Columbus' second voyage in 1494, once had a population of more than 250,000. But they became easy game for hunters because they often rested, gave birth or nursed their pups on beaches.

From the 1700s to 1900s, the seals were killed mainly for their blubber, which was processed into oils, used for lubrication and coating the bottom of boats. Their skins were used for trunk linings, clothing, straps and bags.

The endangered Hawaiian monk seals face different types of challenges, including entanglement in marine debris, climate change and coastal development.

About 80 to 100 live in the main Hawaiian Islands and 1,100 in the largely uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a marine national monument.

Biologist Bud Antonelis said NOAA's Fisheries Service has developed a monk seal recovery plan for the Hawaiian monk seals.

"But we need continued support from organizations and the public if we are to have a chance at saving it from extinction," he said. "Time is running out."

As for the Caribbean monk seal, NOAA said it is working to have them removed from the endangered species list. Species are removed from the list when their populations are no longer threatened or endangered, or when they are declared extinct.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Help save genetic diversity

Ever wondered where to get some of those old varieties of "this or that" grown when you where a kid? How about old, or even kind of newer, varieties you hear good things about but never can find?

Well, if your willing to try your hand at propagation then look here:
Germplasm Resources Information Network or GRIN

You can search their data bank and request from the multitude of varieties they have ---and have some sent to you---if they are available at the time. Only problem? Most will come un rooted and need a bit of care on your part. But hey...what do you have to lose? You may help save a variety after all----or better yet get some really good plants for your property while improving your propagation skills.

I am going to request some fruits from them to trial and help propagate.

P.S....their free and some are seeds not cuttings. Oops! My mistake...not free to ship. SORRY!
June 6 update.....O.k...let me change that again: Maybe free shipping. I couldn't find a thing on any page that said one way or the other. Some of the items I have "ordered" are coming from one place....and they didn't ask about shipping. Some are coming from another....and they said they ask about whether or not I have a shipping account with UPS or FEDEX etc so..... We'll see. However, the plants do seem, as I originally thought, to be free.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Garden style

As you can see I have a squash problem. Or more accurately a squash vine borer problem.

Alas...they are my nemesis. Every year they take a toll on my summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. Some years we have better luck than others....some none at all.
This year may be a low luck year even though I am treating the plants (now) with Bacillus thuringiensis by injecting it into the main stem of the plants. Obviously,as you can see from my picture I have for sure lost one of the vines already---and even before I got one squash off of it!
Supposedly C. moschata varieties of this family are less susceptible to attack---and we have noticed that when we grow those varieties. Though...if under stress (as in drought) they will still be attacked too. However for us summer squash seems to be the MOST likely to be attacked. I think those bugs watch for me to come out and plant these babies.
During part of it's life span the borer retreats to the soil to finish pupating so rotation of your plants and cultivation of the soil to expose them is advised. the South the plants are just, in my opinion, up for grabs.
So...what's a gardener to do? Well, obviously I won't be growing these guys on a commercial scale but I will attempt something new next year that I have thought about but never done: A growing cage---similar to the picture I added. I think I will just put regular screen on mine though and hand pollinate.....Lots of work? Maybe...but for the 3 or 4 plants we use throughout the year no big deal really. Maybe then I could get a really steady harvest of squashes. Maybe even some baseball bat size individuals :-D

Now these pictures show a bit of luck I had the other day. Driving down the road I realized Ooops! I had forgotten gas---bummer! Luckily there was a gas station just down the road---the next closest was at least 5 miles away (quite the walk). So I pulled in a filled up and spent a small fortune while doing it. As I looked over I noticed that they were replacing display cases in the store and had all these neatly fold boxes ---heavy heavy boxes---that the cases had come in. I almost didn't ask (laziness had settled in and it was busy with people there) but kicked myself and did it. Yes, they said. Absolutely take them. So I did and I am now working to cover them up with sawdust we get at the local mill for $5 a truck load (we load--but it's light and easy work).
GREAT path mulch don't you think? And amazing grass/weed cover to help try and lessen our work. Over time things like this will help us to keep down the ongoing weed problems----at least a bit.
Notice to the left side there is a large stand of plants. That's my cover crop of buckwheat. It came in nicely this year...we have had good rain. I will cut the tops soon since it is about to flower. Also, right below it is a row of shallots with clover in between them. I weeded and waited for the shallots to grow up...then seeded in the clover.
My soil is still lacking in nitrogen so I am always looking for ways to add it...and to cover up soil, add tilth and/or block weeds. Anything that does all three, as in the case of clover, is great.
Too bad the buckwheat didn't add nitrogen...but it will add a small bit of tilth and it absolutely blocks weeds. Only the edges have weed issues---right were the sun can get into the stand.
By the Jack Russell loves that stand of Buckwheat and the large artichokes behind it. I think she believes herself to be jungle stalking whatever she might be able to find in the denseness of the whole thing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

From Organic Gardening August 1975

Anything in this style lettering is added by me.

Miller Battles "Enrichment" Red Tape

For more than 150 years, a mill at New Hope, N.Y. (now located in Auburn,N.Y it seems) has been grinding grain and building a reputation for quality in the flours it markets. Now the State Depart. of Agriculture has abruptly ordered that it "stop the practice of selling un-enriched flour at retail level". Owner Leland Weed refuses to follow the law demanding that he "enrich" the wheat, buckwheat, cornmeal, pancake, and other flours he grinds in the old water-powered mill along the Bear Creek. Weed says the recent state regulation requiring him to take part in a "statutory enrichment program" is a threat to independence and to the customers who come for whole-grain products, including crops from local farmers and Deaf Smith County in Texas.
Weed, who has operated the mill with his sons since 1947, has appealed the order. As a result, he's been granted verbal permission to continue producing flour as it has since 1823 until the department decides what to do. A state spokesman said that the mill could be shut down, if Weed refuses to add the chemicals. So far, the state has held off--after getting a heavy taste of public opinion in the mail. Experts from Cornell are to test the flours for nutritional levels, and a decision is to be made by the state attorney general on a possible exception.
Meanwhile, Weed says one state legislator at Albany plans to introduce a bill to allow the sale of "un-enriched" flours from mills such as New Hope. The angry miller also indicated that there has been a definite upswing in trade from people who've heard about his bureaucratic troubles. "Everyone should have the right to buy what they want--with or without vitamins," he stated. Besides letters many of the old mill's friends and other people outraged by the state's action have circulated petitions contending that it is their "privilege to be able to purchase New Hope Mills natural flour without being subjected to the state required addition of preservatives and other chemicals additives. Weed says he will go out of business rather than add chemicals.
The Sunday Citizen (Auburn, N.Y.) in an editorial headed "State Makes Blunder in New Hope Mills Case," commented: "Hopefully those of us who respect New Hope flour will keep up the pressure to keep down Albany's imposition.....The foolishness of the state flexing it muscles on the small mill in remote New Hope is obvious. As obvious as the certainty that people who go out of their way to purchase the New Hope flour know what they're getting. If the state doesn't have a special permit program for mills like this, it ought to get one. That should keep the bureaucrats busy enough so they won't go around the countryside making bumpkins of themselves.

See a newspaper write up here
And the mill as it is now with a "scrapbook" history and photos and other news articles here.
Here is a place to by some of the mill's un-enriched products.