Sunday, November 13, 2011

A month later - Hoping for a Winter Harvest

The high tunnel has been planted for the winter garden. My son and I did some soil tests before we planted and recorded our data. Once we harvest we will test again. We found some old French doors at a salvage place for $5 each and the old wooden trimmed sliding glass, double-paned door for free at the dump. We don't lose too much light on that side of the tunnel. This is a view of the western exposure. The rolled up side is south facing.

Looking west from the eastern door. In the fore ground, center row you can see the Tatsoi, next the Chinese Cabbage, parsley, leeks, and finally our onion sets.

Our young farmer.
The Chinese Cabbage, or Wong Bok, is doing great. Everything has been getting thinned and replanted. We have had a pretty warm November.

My son and I filled the barrels with water to hopefully increase humidity and increase heat at night. ? We are planning on getting some thermometers to monitor temperature variation.

He likes to come up with ideas to test, a scientist in the making!

Salad greens, Claytonia, Parsley, Easter Egg Radish... I have also planted Bok Choy, Bull's Blood Beets, Feldsalat or Mache, Mustard Greens, Daikon Radish, tons of varieties of spinach, Choy Pac, and transplanted Kale and Chard from the garden. I still have Celeriac growing too.

We still have to cover the crops with a secondary row cover, but that won't be until next month. Tune in for more later... but meanwhile,
our salad greens in all of their crisp, autumn yumminess....
We are grateful and happy.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Two entire seasons have passed....

So much has happened, so much has changed.

One of our new projects was our high tunnel.
We built it to extend our growing season here in zone 5A,

and to grow winter greens.

We toured as many local hoop houses as we could find in our quest to learn,
and we read every book we could find.

Eliot Coleman's books were our major inspiration...

The first year was filled with lessons.

I planted the house full of tomatoes, various peppers, summer squash, tomatillo's, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pickling cucumbers.

We pickled so many cucumbers. The tomatoes over grew everything, and we are still getting hot and sweet peppers in October, not to mention the best watermelons I have had since I was kid. They just don't grow these melons for market anymore.

What a delight.

This summer was hot, humid, and rainy...
unusual for our climate here.

Most of our best food came from the house. I think if it hadn't been for our hoop house I would have been extremely disappointed with a lot of our food production this year. The heavy spring rains caused moldy strawberries, lots of summer rain led to bouts of late blight on the tomatoes and potatoes in the field...
and then there were the deer, my poor pea crop disappeared.

We have had a few hard frosts already. All of the remaining Brassica are doing great in the field. In the hoop house, all is well. The cantaloupe and cucumbers are wilted but the peppers and tomatoes are doing fine, and still producing.

Early on in the season we tied up all of the vining plants. It worked out great. Next year I will prune back the tomatoes and grow fewer of them! I am still making my roasted tomato sauce now... I have been making it for over 4 weeks. I didn't get many tomatoes in the field at all this year and it seemed to take them so long to ripen. My window sill is full of green field tomatoes.

My sister-in-law turned me on to a great recipe.
I roast sliced, whole tomatoes (skin, seeds, and all) with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 425 degree oven for about 35 minutes. I drain some of the water from the tomatoes and let them cool. Freeze them flat, put them into a freezer bag, and store them in a stack in the freezer. I add other ingredients like basil or peppers too.

Very delicious and always so yummy in January.

I hope your summer was wonderful and

Friday, April 1, 2011

Women for Women

A simple little thing like having an amount equivalent to $1 day taken out of your credit card account can help turn another woman and her family's life around.

Imagine living in a war torn country, caring for your children, trying to run a household while the infrastructure is in ruins, and all you dream about is changing the course of your life.... where do you turn? Women for Women International creates a vehicle for you to directly affect the life of an individual, one distinct woman, your sister. You can literally reach across the planet and give her a hand, a shoulder to lean on, a heart that cares for her, and change the course of her life. It feels impossible to leave your home and go to Bosnia & Herzegovin, Sudan, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Kosovo, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but you can, you can help by enabling other strong women around the world to help them by funding their work in these remote countries where women need us more than ever. It costs as much as one dinner out in a restaurant.... the equivalent of one dinner and you could change the course of an entire family's life! We have the power.

I often find myself feeling overwhelmed with my responsibilities at home and my work, and then I think what it must be like to live in a country that has been destroyed by war. It can take generations to overcome the trauma and financial loss. My mother was raised in Munich during the war and even now at 72 years old she is still haunted by the memories of war, hunger, loss, death, destruction, and fear.

We can help change that future for other women right now, without leaving our homes. You can sponsor a sister in war torn countries through Women to Women. When you do they send you a packet with her picture, her story, her background, and pictures of her children. You write to each other, share your stories from across the world. It is very personal and I have to say that it feels so good to be a part of her story. When she "graduates" from the year long program Women for Women International sends you the update of her journey. They make it such an easy thing to do, and yet it is such a huge thing to share! Go to their website...

What is Sponsorship?

Our sponsorship program supports women survivors of war and conflicts as they progress through a one-year program that helps them rebuild their lives.
Your sponsorship funds are used to help women receive job-skills training, business and money management basics and rights awareness education.
A woman cannot be enrolled in the WfWI program until she has a sponsor; so a sponsor's influence on her life could not be more important.

A Financial Lifeline to a Woman Survivor of War

After an initial enrollment fee of $30, we ask sponsors to make monthly, tax-deductible donations of $27. The money your sponsored sister receives provides her with a stipend that she can use as she chooses; to pay for basic necessities such as food and shelter, cover school fees or invest in income-generating activities.
A survey of WfWI participants showed that funds went toward helping themselves, their children and their future.
  • 25% of their funds went toward tuition for their children,
  • 20% for clothing,
  • 20% for savings,
  • 20% for income-generation activities and
  • 15% for food.
The remainder of your sponsorship donations supports the tools and resources a sister receives as she progresses through the program, such as job-skills trainers, equipment and other vital staff members.
Once your sponsored sister has completed her one-year program, you are automatically matched with a new sister in need of your help.

We'll Keep You Informed of Your Sister's Progress

You'll receive periodic updates on the status of your sister along with stories from other women survivors and sponsorship community. Many sponsors exchange letters with their sisters.
The letter-exchange component of the sponsorship program serves as a source of emotional support and encouragement to the women in WfWI programs. For many women, knowing that someone they have never met is interested in their life and future and willing to provide them support gives them motivation to complete the one-year program.
As a sponsor, you'll also receive:
  • A Welcome Kit that tells you everything you need to know about sponsorship;
  • A newsletter, with quarterly updates on our programs in the field;
  • A sponsor log-in account for a portal where you can obtain updates on your sister and send letters electronically.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A New Life Emerging.... Yes!

Spring is coming.
We are still locked in the grips of a very cold March. Icy, little mud, not too much sunshine, and cold nights. The cold nights are good for maple sugaring but the cold days aren't helping the sap flow. Lots of people are having a good year though. My neighbor put these old school sap buckets on our trees. Yummy, sweet sap. I find it so amazing, the gifts given by these majestic trees. Drawing from the earth, sharing her sweetness. I love the sound of the sap dripping in the buckets, tip, tip, tip... I can hear it across the field.

We walked our land for hours yesterday. Look at all that snow. We found some lone moose tracks and followed them out onto the road. You can tell so much about an animal by following the tracks for a good distance. How fast they were walking, what they nibbled on, how many times they went this way or that. I wondered when the tracks were made? They weren't fresh and the snow has been melting a little every day. I think this beauty must be big, but I don't have a lot of experience with moose, so can't say for sure. The actual foot print was 7" plus around and the scat was big and there was a lot of it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In which we expand our joy of homeschooling....

My lovely, patient, obliging, ever ready student loves, loves, loves to read.
As part of our Waldorf inspired homeschool journey he is reading through all of the volumes of The Library of Pioneering and Woodcraft by Ernest Thompson Seton. We just started Botany and he is so excited and teachable.

I wanted to share two of the goals from "Woodcraft is Lifecraft"...

4. The Great Central Fire.
Represented in our law, and in our ceremonies. Only the re-creation of the sacred fire has power to thrill us and strike chords of primitive remembrance. When people gather around a fire they shed all modern artifice and return to the essence of self, revealing the naked soul. Since time immemorial, humanity has seen in this blessed fire the means and emblem of light, warmth, protection, friendliness, and council. When people have met together in peace and shared the warmth of the welcoming fire, it forges a lasting bond of union overcoming wide divergence in attitudes and perspectives. This fire is the symbol at the center of Woodcraft. We shall not fail to use its magic powers.

8. An heroic ideal.
Woodcraft offers an heroic ideal, an image of a mature human being, physically strong, mentally alert, spiritually attuned, dedicated to community service. Anxious to learn, willing to teach, inspired by vision. Prepared to share with others, with courage, intelligence, power and wisdom. Cognizant of the past, unafraid of the future, profoundly aware that action is only possible in the present moment. Able to use this moment to the best advantage, equipped to listen, communicate and actively respond as needed. By presenting an heroic ideal Woodcraft gives each individual the inspiration to set and then strive towards personal goals. Woodcraft is dedicated to exploring knowledge, increasing tolerance through understanding, and improving global environmental conditions.

"Maturity, not scholarship is the first aim of education." Woodcrafters... 
~Ernest Thompson Seton

Tell me, what could be better than that????


Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring is right around the corner...

Even if it snows again, that is o.k., the sun is back and it is getting stronger every day!
Still lovin' my vegan journey. I am so into food.
Made my old stand-by Yakisoba tonight, a la' my girlfriend Keiko.

My herbal, strawberry patch spiral my husband made for me.
A view from last March.
I saw my new oncologist today. He is so nice, thorough, and attentive. I haven't seen an oncologist for two years so having a doctor that is following me feels so reassuring. Over the last two weeks I have had a complete blood panel, a chest x-ray, an abdominal CT-scan (yikes), a brain MRI, total MRI scan of my spine, and hips. No cancer!!!! I do have arthritis in my spine and neck and stenosis, but that is nothing compared to bone cancer.
Yes, I'll take that, thank you...
Yoga, physical therapy, massage, well that sounds lovely.
No proton beam radiation, I am such a lucky girl.

Seeds I saved from plants I grew. On this tray, radish and oats.
And a Butternut seed from my neighbor Henry's tree.

We miss you Henry....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peak Moment...

One way to stay informed, inspired and educated about the changes we are facing in our world whether it is political, ecological or spiritual is to stay tuned to Peak Moment Television.

Their shows air on their website and on a some television stations in California, N. Carolina and New York City. Janaia and her team travel around the region interviewing people that choose to live more sustainably. Their shows are hopeful, uplifting and most of all, inspiring.

You can listen to the shows, download them, or watch the video. Some of the older shows are even available for purchase from their website too. There are well over 100 episodes on YouTube too for free. There are so many links about peak oil, and living more sustainably. There are great book reviews, interviews, and lots of discussions about options, real life options about things we CAN do to help
change the course of our future....

Some of the topics discussed are activism, agriculture, biofeuls, climate change, community, economy, farming, local food, natural building, peak oil, renewables, simple living, water, and many, many more.

Hear the voices, check it out, sign up, and support Peak Moment Television, it is
total grassroots...

on YouTube too!!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

To A Life Fully Lived. Cheers!

I lost my neighbor and dear friend early this day. He was an inspiration and a joy to everyone that knew him. He always chose to walk on the sunny side of the street, smile at the day, breathe in each night and wave a hearty hello. He was born in Connecticut on May 25, 1914. So many things were happening then. The newness of a modern world just emerging, and with it good and bad, right and wrong. And he embodied what was the best of his era, an era that is slipping by. He was a man that loved the beauty of nature, devoted himself to his country, adored his wife and children, played the harmonica with all of his heart, put his back into his work and leaned into to his music. He loved his parents, his story, his life, and his neighbors. A tear of sorrow runs down my smudged and tired cheek as I type this. Up all night last night hoping beyond hope to see the sparkle of his eyes just once more…

….but alas,

in just a flicker of moment, he has become a memory.

That is how it happens, how life unfolds. Moments become memories and that is the beauty of living in the now, we can witness the force while it unfurls.

The tears I cry today are for myself; for my selfishness, for my missing him in this moment… different from the heartbreaking pain I still sob for my father who died almost a year ago next month. I think the difference is that I now know, in all honesty, that I sob for a life not lived by my father. The sadness of not following his heart, not being true to his truth, the realization of a life unfulfilled.

How can we find the courage to put aside all the should haves, could haves, supposed to's, to find our life force? To live our path? As children we declare we are going to be writers, doctors, artists, farmers and somehow we’ve lost our way… The answers our culture commands us to believe are empty promises of success and gain, when truly, if we listened to the answers in our hearts we would know that it lies in the promises we made to ourselves when we were young, when we were hopeful, when we were unburdened with gain…

The art of living is in the letting go to that promise made in a child’s heart.

We can’t blindly go along believing the stories. We have to be brave and strong. We have to turn against the answers that are given and instead follow our own truths. Find the passion, look into that heart of the child you left behind and ask yourself what songs do I want to sing? What pictures can I paint? What can I let go of to be free? How much do I really need to carry on this journey? If it could fit into a trunk what would I take?

And, where would my heart lead me? If we ignore that promise, we lose ourselves.

So, on this day I can smile for Henry, not sob in pain as I do for my father. I can rejoice in Henry’s choice to live his life fully. His choice to be brave. His choice to define his journey on his own terms. He was true to his heart even within the confines of his responsibilities, his routine, his station in life. He defined his life, his art of living, not for gain but in peace.

So here is to Life Fully Lived...

may it be the path we chose to follow.