Friday, July 29, 2011

Still among the bloggin' sorta

So, our hard drive on our laptop crashed which is why this space has been so silent. We are still trying to retrieve and recover. In the meantime, I have been very busy in the homestead. I hope to have and Independence Days Challenge update soon.

I don't delve into politics much on this blog. I know that I have readers with many different points of view here which is why I love that we can meet on common ground here; growing good food, living sustainalbly and trying to be self suffiecient is not a blue or red ideal. But I would like to share my simple observation abou the current debt limit craziness that is occuring in D. C.

Elected officials should do what they were elcted to do. GOVERN. That the fate of every American's livelyhood hangs on whether a few well paid ( over paid) politicians will compromise or not is utterly unnecessary and negligent on their part.

This being said, it is a good time to review areas in you home that ensure preparedness. Hurricane season is about to begin, if the debt limit is not raised the price of fuel will skyrocket, food prices will increase even more than they have. Are there projects that will increase energy efficiency in you home that will cushion any rises in fuel costs? Now would be the time to work on these.

I could just be hitting panic mode here. When I panic I plan...not a bad coping mechanism maybe. If they limit is not raised we will all know what hard times are. I hope someone (actually a few of those knuckleheads) find the courage to do...oh I don't know... their job.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Soul of Craft

The days grow short. Outside chores still beckon but so do inside diversions. I will have to finalize the list of items that will make-up this year's handmade holidays. But in the meantime, materials need to be organized.

So I set to work, on a rainy day, on this seasonal chore. Knitting needles are scattered throughout the house. They do not always find there way into their needle case after use. I need to account for them so I can get some of my work done. I have a pile of kid craft supplies that has yet to find a permanent home since we moved. I have decided to put them on a shelf in the living room. But this shelf was the home to my knitting books and magazines, so they too will have to find a new home. A Halloween costume needs to be constructed but the bin of fabric stash was put in the crawl space behind the pile of fleece that still needs to be processed. Some of the washed fleece sits in a basket near my rocking chair and some of the carded fleece is in another basket. But the the pile of washed is still greater than the carded. I have big plans for this and have to make some more time for this. An accounting of yarn is on the to-do list in order to see if I can make some projects without buying materials. Money is tight but we still want to be giving.

The whole time I am gathering, sorting and setting right, my hands are laid upon gifts from my grandmother. It was she who passed on this crafting legacy to me. The needle case is made of blue felt and ribbon. It was filled with her double pointed knitting needles and it was given to me when she passed away. When I remove the binder of patterns off the shelf the small notebook of index cards, she used to keep patterns for basic mittens and hats in, falls to the floor. I am reminded of all those mittens she used to make for us as kids: the too brilliant red sweater she made for me when I was in highschool, the afghans that I put on our beds every fall. I remember sweet calico shorts and tops she made for me when I went to camp, as I try my hand at making Evan's clothes on my trusty treadle sewing machine.

She tried to teach me to knit when I was a child but without much success. But I did learn to crochet and embroider from her. I have memories of sitting at her sewing machine to make dolls clothes. She was never as fond of knitting as I am now. It was a utilitarian craft for her. But she did love to crochet. I am fortunate to have a crocheted doily she made grace my dresser.

My grandmother would share a story with me sometimes. Her mother walked into my grandmother's kitchen one day and admonished her for having a sink full of dirty dishes. My great- grandmother was the sort of housekeeper who ironed sheets. Instead of cleaning her kitchen my grandmother was sitting at her kitchen table knitting a pair of mittens. In response to her mother's lecture of good housekeeping my grandmother said,"It is more important that my children have mittens right now than clean dishes." Go Nana!

I am grateful to be able to use some of the same tools that she used. The silent magic of creating something with your own hands is a gift that I came to at a time in my life when I needed to learn how to be still. Now I can walk around my home and see rugs that warm my floors. My children walk out the door in wool caps I have made them. The essence of my love for my family is woven into the fabric of these garments. It says be warm, be safe.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Well phooey...

It seems our computer has picked up a virus. We are in the process of repairing it but I do not know when we will be back. In the meanwhile I will post repeats of some of my favorite posts.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Eating my lawn: Red Clover

Each morning I take a walk outside before the sun rises too high in the sky. I look to see if the peas have plumped in their pods. I count the little yellow flowers forming on the tomato plants. I harvest herbs before their oils are diminished in the heat of the day. My path to the garden is surrounded by red clover. These small red flowers also find their way into my harvest basket.

Red clover is as ubiquitous as dandelion. It grows in hay fields, lawns and road sides. It blooms from mid June and will have a repeat bloom later in the season. Red clover can be identified by its red flower, but it's leaves also have a small stripe on its leaves. It is a legume and can work as a nitrogen fixer in your soil. We have grown it in the past as a cover crop. Both the leaves and flower are edible.

In the spring we let the lawn grow up around out house until the dandelions have bloomed so we can take advantage of the greens and flowers. Then we mow just a little spot around our house. The we let the lawn grown until the clover blooms.

Red clover flowers can be made into a tea and the leaves make a nice addition to a salad. There are many uses for red clover. The tea can be used as a wash for acne, psoriasis, athletes foot. According to Deb Soule in, A Woman's Book of Herbs," it will cleanse the blood of wastes during or after sickness..." Clover is also a source of phyto- estrogens, for alternative and alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopause. It is also an inhibitor of cancer. I learned at the wild herbs for health class that tar can be made from its leaves and flowers and used as a drawing paste.

Well, the sun climbs over the trees, must go for my morning picking...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Days Challenge: Everything is coming up green.

Life has settled into a nice summer pace. Mark is home from school. He is tackling several projects. Most noteworthy is he is replacing the transmission in our VW micro bus. At this point all major systems will have been replaced. So, fingers crossed, it will not be just a lawn ornament but a vehicle that transports people and hay:)

Tristan has started a new job this week. He is 18 and would like to work so he can save money for blacksmithing school. The job search has not been easy. Many of the jobs that kids his age used to get are now going to adults who need any job they can find. So he has started a farm job. Each morning he rides his bike to the farm. It is just a few hours every day but it fits in with his GED class. If he has no other commitments then he can head to a local smithy a friend has to pound metal for a few hours. He really wants to enter the adult world and slowly he is getting there.

Evan and I spend plenty of time in the garden. Evan has signed up for his first summer reading venture. There are plans for a small day camp that focuses on bugs at the end of the summer.

And I do the work of summer; weeding, harvesting, putting food by.

Plant: transplanted elecampane and some volunteer mullein. Most of the garden is planted. There are shelling peas pods that should be ready to harvest soon...and broccoli too!

Harvest: comfrey, kale, swiss chard, red clover flowers, yarrow, borage, green onions, cilantro, dill, lettuce, garlic scapes, oregano

Preserve: lacto-fermented garlic scapes, garlic scape pesto, comfrey in olive oil for a sore muscle rub, yarrow tinctured in vodka for a antiseptic, dried red clover for tea, dried oregano, dried kale. Dried borage for tea.

Local Foods: Local meat, local eggs

Eat the food: lots of greens sauteed, lots of garlic scapes in anything we can put them in. Borage tea for ...ugh..nightsweats.

Waste not: We added another bay to our compost bin and I gave the compost a good turning. Soon after we got a heavy rain so the heat is up in that pile. Mark has been cutting down some small pine trees to help me put posts in the ground for a fence around the garden so critters do not eat from our bounty. However we did see a mother turkey hen and her clutch of chicks near the garden the other day. The fence will be up VERY soon.

Want not: I did a big stock up on staples this past week. Oils and flour. I had my yearly physical. I had my tetanus shot updated. My blood work was "boring". My cholesterol is excellent!