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Welcome! Our blog focuses on environmental conservation, education, green living & wildlife rescue! We have put together links to resources, books and information to help you and your children learn more about these topics. Please feel free to comment on any items posted. Rate or review us on NetworkedBlogs (Facebook app) & Blogged. Tell your friends about us. Follow us on Twitter and other sites listed on this page. There's a banner & widget if you would like to include us on your webpage. All we ask is that you please keep any comments here G-rated for the kids!

NOTE: The birds & squirrel pictured at the top of this page and in the slideshow below are just a few that I have helped rehabilitate.
WARNING: Please do not touch a wild animal, especially the young ones. If you remove a baby from it's home, sometimes the mother is just off getting it's baby food and will be back.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recycling Hair

Yes, Recycling hair!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  What a fantastic natural resource that every single person, yes even including my very bald father, has to recycle.  I signed up for the newsletter a few months ago and it has been an absolute treasure trove of information for this blog!  I recently came upon an article entitled "I Didn't Know That Was Recyclable" and on the list was hair.  I was pretty sure I was going to come across the same old line of hair donation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was actually hair recycling!
In 2000 an ingenious hair stylist named Phil McCrory was watching film coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and notice the oil that stubbornly saturated the fur of the otters he thought of the huge amounts of human hair that is collected in salons and started testing the amount of oil he could soak up with the hair from his salon.  According to the article at "McCrory invented the hairmat to help soak up oil from an estimated 706 million gallons of oil that enter our oceans each year. There are more than 370,000 hair salons in the U.S., and each collects about 1 pound of hair per day. That represents a tremendous amount of landfill matter from something we probably never even thought about!".
With this great invention, was the birth of a great public charity called Matter of Trust that accepts hair clippings and turns them into the hair mats that are used to clean up the oil spills.  The group is doing all sorts of research with hair and fiber and it's uses and what a wonderful natural resource it is.  If you have a minute check out the website, it was very interesting and gave me some really great ideas for my llama wool as well.  Keep the link handy, and next time you get your hair done, pass it along to your hair dresser and they can sign up and send the hair in a shampoo box that they would probably like to get rid of anyway!
Now, I do not mean to minimize donating hair, it is just up until now, I thought that was the only way to "use" your natural resource that grew on top of your head, or unless like my Dad only on the sides of your head.  Boy, he's really taking abuse on this one isn't he?  Anywho, back to the subject of hair donation.  This actually is something I very firmly believe in.  The first time I donated was when my aunt in Iowa got breast cancer.  I could not be there, so I felt the best way to support her was to cut my hair when she lost hers.  I donated it in her name.  I must say I was a tad disappointed in the impersonal postcard that she received from Locks of Love.
The next experience we had was when my Grandma was first diagnosed with cancer, my decision to cut my hair was still fresh in the mind of my very young daughter at the time, but she decided that she wanted to cut her hair for "GG".  The timing still amazes me to this day.  We had been waiting for Isabella's hair to reach the proper length and for me to be okay with losing her beautiful blond locks when one morning I awoke and knew that the day had come.  My friend Della had just finished cutting her hair when my cell phone rang, I answered to my Grandma sobbing.  See, she had been a hairdresser for her entire life, so to have woken up that morning to clumps of hair on her pillow was more than she could bear.  The day that Bella donated her hair in GG's name was the day that I had to shave GG's head.
I have donated my hair one more time since then, but again, have been a bit disappointed in the simple, impersonal postcards we have gotten in response to the very personal gifts we have given.  I know that sounds kind of funny, but when I sent in Isabella's ponytail, I put on the form her age and the reason she had donated her hair, and again, just the regular postcard.  I did save it for her baby book and of course will make a big deal out of it on the page if I ever get around to updating the book, but it was just a matter of principle. 
The great news is that when I googled hair donation in doing my homework for this post, there have been many new companies that have gotten into the business of hair donation in the years since we have done it.  So whether your hair is long or short, whether you want to donate or recycle, don't forget, you have a wonderful natural resource growing right on top of your head (yes, even you Dad-love you!!!)!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting seeds - seeds starting

You have to look very, very closely, but there is a sign of life in the thyme.

Basil is poking its tiny heads out of the soil, too. Small, but it's visible.

May I introduce you to the broccoli? These are the seeds from Hometown Seeds, coming up already. Bunny food and people food, that's broccoli! This year I'll harvest before it really flowers. Yes, I will.

I haven't seen any sign of the tomato plants yet.
Should I be worried? Or should I just bide my thyme?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Flowers - Nature's beautiful reminder of things to come!

It's truly exciting to see how well the flowers you planted or transplanted the previous year have fared. About three years ago we bought our house and with it came some great flowers and tons of mystery plants. The biggest challenge was identifying the plants that were there and then deciding whether they were weeds or not. This meant waiting for blooms or waiting to see what they did.

Some of the plants did not need identifying. For instance, a climbing rosebush that had been planted to close to the house and had been trying to grow behind the siding. I made it a point to transplant as much of the massive plant as possible (A real feat considering the root mass was about the size of three softballs it had been there for so long). Since transplanting it, it has done well in another area of my yard!

Another group of plants that I was pleasantly surprised to find in my flower beds were the tulips; many different colors of tulips.

While the flower beds in the front of my house have been cleaned up and some of these transplanted or split up, my back yard flower bed is still in need of some major attention this year. I had waited a while to do anything with it, mainly keeping an eye on it to see if there is anything else that needs to stay.

(The picture to the right is of the back yard flower bed)

My front flower beds have slowly evolved over the past 3 years. Going from a few tulips, lilies, giving it a good weeding and putting in some cheap solar lights with old mulch in the spring of 2008 (Picture to the left taken in Spring 2008); to the major transformation of this bed that started in the spring of 2009 with splitting and transplanting lilies, then adding landscape fabric and edging. Around the same time I had a seed and plant swap with some family and good friends (Which is great for those of us amature gardeners who have a very limited budget)! You know who you are and thanks to all of you! At last, in the fall of 2009 I had a major pilgrimage to a couple farmers markets and then of course to local stores for perennials when they started going clearance. I managed to find the Giant Hybrid Columbine (Photo at the very top of this blog post shows you what it looks like), Hosta, Pixie Lillies, Blanket Flowers and the Purple Heart.

I also bought a new set of solar lights that looked a little fancier and colorful on sale. (The picture to the right was taken at the end of the summer in 2009, you can see a definite difference)

This year I have already seen amazing growth from the plants I received and bought last year. My sons and I made seed planting a family affair on monday.  I want it to be a learning experience for them and give them the chance to plant them into the ground when it is time.  My youngest was alot more excited about it, but he likes doing anything involving dirt (imagine that, a 5 year old boy that loves dirt ;)  My oldest (who is 8) is a little less patient and would rather get instant results so when we put them where we want them I am sure he'll be more into it.  I'll tell you more about it soon!  I can honestly say that I am excited to see what will happen over the course of the year as I continue to watch the transformation that comes naturally with flowers. I also can't wait to continue the swapping of more seeds and plants with friends and family!
Until next time!
Khrys @ GreenSpot-On
P.S. Don't forget to check out our videos, pictures and the upcoming posts from all our authors! It is a new year of growing, green living and creativity! Become a fan or friend on Facebook, Twitter or other networking sites! Please, share us with your friends! We'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Great Video for kids and people of all ages

Happy Earthday Everyone!

Happy Earth Day! Just a reminder that we can practice good stewardship for our environment and earth not just today, but everyday! There are many things to do to help; plant a tree, clean up litter, educate others, and be earth conscious in your daily decisions.

Align LeftA great start for kids is to learn early the importance of our environment and natural resources, so start early. There are many sites that offer program and activities to get children out and involved if anyone is interested. Here are some links to get some ideas on activities that can be done at home or with your family, to get involved with nature...

I hope these sites will spark some interest, and I know for myself and my daughter we got started earlier this week and planted trees and plants earlier on in the week and enjoyed a nice bike ride today! As always we try to stay conscious about recycling, turning off lights when they aren't being used, and reducing our waste. We like to get outside as often as we can. When my nephews come to visit we often will take family hikes and little explorations, it is a very rewarding experience seeing what they take from those experiences :)

Happy Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I wanted to tell you about an Earth Day event we had here in Grand Rapids, MI at the John Ball Zoo! April 17th was John Ball Zoo's annual Party for the Planet. There are similar celebrations that are either happening or have happened due to Earth Day falling on a weekday this year.

Party for the Planet at John Ball Zoo is organized as an event to educate families and the community about being green, get samples or see demonstrations of green products that are available in our area along with raffles being offered for items (A rain barrel was an item being raffled by Coca-Cola at the event). Last but not least, your family could see the animals at the zoo! If you are lucky enough to be able to go to one of these events locally, you should try to do so as there is a lot of great information that you can get from the many companies that have booths. There are also workshops that you can attend sprinkled throughout the day about the environment, saving energy and more.

At John Ball Zoo, they offer you entrance fee at a discounted rate for the event. Which gave you the ability to tour the entire zoo (Except for the exhibits that were closed due to cool weather). Near the parking lot at the zoo, there was recycling offered to the public done by the following:

1-800-GOT-JUNK? - They were taking electronics (no Air Conditioners or Humidifiers)
Goodwill Industries - Were taking small household electronics, good condition furniture, pots, pans, blankets, suitcases, purses, toys and bikes.  The donations also helped fund job training programs for individuals with barriers to employment in the greater Grand Rapids community.
Godwin Hardware & Plumbing - They were accepting low energy light bulbs for recycling.

Throughout the zoo were booths with information and product demonstrations or samples by the following groups or companies:
Animal Medical Center of Wyoming
City of Grand Rapids Environment Services
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Sustainability Initiative
Natural Awakenings Magazine - Had issues of their magazine there along with a representative.
The Rogue River Project
Grand Rapids Public Schools Zoo School - Where you could build bat houses!
Horizen Hydroponics - Where you could learn a new way to grow!
Connecting Families with Nature - You could get a passport for your kids and go to each of the nature centers or parks in the area and get them marked after getting so many marked, there would be a special event your child can attend towards the end of the summer.
John Ball Zoo - Information and Education
Coca-Cola - See what happens to aluminum cans and get information on how to build your own rain barrel!  Check out this story about an initiative in our area that Coca-Cola and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council has partnered up on in this article from  Coca-Cola Plant's Castoffs Given New Life as Rain Barrels
Clean Water Action
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
Unique Manufacturing of Michigan - Watch the artists demonstration using recycled materials (Interesting art too)!  If Anyone knows of a website by this artist please let me know as I found nothing.
Shakelee - There was a representative from this company handing out free samples of a green cleaning product.

Also for the kids to do and see:
They could meet the recycling robot at the Recycle Kent booth
Seedling give-aways (While they lasted) by: Association of Landscape Professionals, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science and the Girl Scouts!
Make Headbands out of recycled materials at the Grand Rapids Children's Museum booth!
Dress up at the Sierra Club booth!
Build a molecule at the Grand Valley Metro Council! (They were made out of gumdrops or marshmallows and toothpicks)
Face Painting
Volunteers with strolling animals throughout the zoo - some touchable!  My boys were able to touch a wood turtle and see a bearded dragon and a snake (My youngest would not touch the snake)!

Kohl's and a local church (Genesis United Methodist Church) that provided many of the volunteers that day!
This photo was taken by me at John Ball Zoo at the Party for the Planet.  Notice the brave duck deciding to be on the edge of a wall inside the enclosure for the Grizzly Bear and the Brown Bear.  Don't worry though, there was still a large moat for the bear to cross so the duck was perfectly safe.  This bear had been looking at him intently and the duck is oblivious and I just snapped the pic from the angle I saw when I first walked up.  The fence is to keep us humans out.  Obviously the duck thought it didn't apply to him :)

This next photo is of me at the event carrying what my friend who took this picture called "A portable forest."  Yes ladies and gentlemen for 20 bucks you can get a backpack and fill it with seedlings to make your own air!  You can take it everywhere!  For only 2 dollars more you can get the plastic cup with dirt and sunflower seeds for your side pockets and I'll throw and additional one for the other side free:)  Just kidding of course, but it got alot of laughs!

The kids and I had a wonderful time learning, information gathering and also crafting some really fun things.  We walked the entire zoo, saw some friends and were able to chat.  I found some product samples to try out, it was well worth checking it out.   If you would like to find Earth Day events that you and your family can attend, go to the Earth Day Network and enter in your zip code and state in order to find events near you!

My sister JRouse also wanted to add a fun outdoor activity that you could do with your children (if you have them) and celebrate earth day with.  Please see the link at the website "Daily Activities for Kids" for an Earth Day Nature Hunt!

JRouse is currently caring for a baby grey squirrel whose eyes haven't opened yet, so she wanted to make sure our readers had something fun to do even though she hasn't the ability to post at this time due to how much time it takes to care for an animal.  Hopefully we'll have some pictures from her for you soon!

We at GreenSpot-On would like to wish you a Happy Earth Day!  Get outside and enjoy the day!

Khrys @ GreenSpot-On

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

100% Recycled Chicken Coop

As I sit here typing this I am hearing "Cockle-doodle-doo!" for the first time in almost 20 years and I couldn't be happier! Did you know in Germany their roosters say Ceekle-dee-dee (or something like that)? My German exchange sister taught us that many years ago, and I laugh whenever I think of it. I have always wondered how roosters know the proper language, but I guess they do somehow-Ha!
Tom and I have taken our recycling and repurposing to the extreme with this chicken coop. I know that not everyone has an old ranch with a few old junk piles dying to be repurposed, but everyone has friends that have some junk that they need to get rid of. Some of our lumber came from a neighbor, who was happy to get rid of some of his "trash".
Our tack shed for the llamas is an old six seater outhouse that was used in a different location for a conservation camp. It is very well built (Aah, the good old days!) and has really withstood the test of time and animals! We started our hen house by using recycled plywood and built a box attached to the side of the old outhouse and put a lid with hinges on it. This will make it easy to keep clean and allow for extra hours of sunshine for the chickens in the cold winter months. The roof of the house will work by a pulley system that Tom has laying around, but we ran out of steam, so a strong board to hold it open will work for this week. We then used old shelves taken out of a laundry room and turned them into nests by cutting them to size and simply screwing them together (simple for Tom anyway).
The yard is built with 2x4's and 2x6's that we already had (and borrowed from our great neighbor, Dan) and the posts are all 4x4's, again recycled. Tom is great at posts; he digs the hole and then wedges rocks in to keep the post upright and then buries it. His posts have also stood the test of time!!! We had chicken wire on hand because we had to wrap the pine trees in the llama pen so they would not kill them. The top of our tack shed was a great way to attach the wire and bring it down to the posts and then lower, to the ground. We left a couple of feet of chicken wire that we then buried, the number one defense against predators. We even went so far as to use the wire that held the chicken wire bundle together to "tie" all of the large pieces of chicken wire together every 8 inches or so, number two defense against predators, especially the flying ones!
While Tom built the door, I painted the hen house; red and white of course, to match the ranch house. The door is a frame of 2x4's with cross braces and chicken wire. We used a jigsaw to cut the door of the hen house out after I painted it so it would match the rest when we put a hinge on it to lock the chickens in at night.
As usual, we had the poor chicken before his house was done because he just had to find a new place to live! Working under pressure really gets a lot accomplished though. After a long day in a large dog crate, PW (Phillip William) was released into his new estate.
The pictures show the progression of our work, and the arrival of our rooster; we are hoping to get his girlfriends this week. That is Tom hard at work, and also my kids Nathan and Isabella (the blonde) with her friend Danielle. I'm wondering how Two Eagles worked his way into this photo shoot!!!
Good morning GreenSpot-On readers,  I decided to not cross post today, I wanted to let you all get to know me a little better.  This is a post from my blog Royal Ranch Green from the "Bottom" Up that I did last summer when we first got our chickens.  I think it is a great example as to how dedicated we are to running our ranch in an environmentally friendly way.  It is also a great way to get to know us and our critters!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Garden prep; moving into heirlooms

The growing season is short in my Wisconsin climate zone. I don't dare put in tomato or pepper plants until late May, usually Memorial Day. At the end of the growing season, when die-hard locavores are canning their salsa and preserving their heirloom seeds, I'm starting a new school year. I've used that timeline as an excuse to plant only mass-produced garden center seedlings for years. This year, I'm branching out.

I planted seeds for broccoli, two tomato varieties, and several herbs, using the handy dandy cardboard egg cartons. These will ultimately biodegrade into the soil as the plants grow in their garden homes. The other containers are from Chinese take-out food; they're plastic, so I'll have a little more work to transplant the herbs inside as they grow.

The tomatoes and broccoli are organic heirloom varieties. I took the step of labeling each packet. Sounds simple, yes, but I rarely bother when I'm only planting Best Boys and Early Girls. This year, it's important. I'll be preserving the seeds from the yellows and the pepper-shaped paste tomatoes, so I must know what they are!

I also noted the source of the seeds. The broccoli and the yellow tomatoes came from Hometown Seeds as part of their variety pack. The paste tomatoes were a gift from City Slipper, host of Small Kitchen Garden. I'm looking forward to seeing, eating, and cooking with these exciting new additions to my garden!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Leave No Trace

Royal Mountain (Sept '09)

The Royal Ranch sits right at the base of two beautiful trail heads in Bailey, CO.  A hiker can climb Mt. Rosalie, Mt. Logan and can even reach the Mt. Evans Wilderness from our neck of the woods.  There are two spectacular campgrounds that Tom and I manage in the summertime that ironically enough I used to camp at when I was a kid just a mile from the house here.  So, needless to say, we can always tell when "Spring Fever" has hit by the amount of traffic passing by, and with the warm weather this past weekend here in Colorado, Spring has Sprung!
This has gotten me to thinking about all of the visitors headed our way, and to be honest, all of the trash that is headed our way.  We have some of the best visitors around, I must tell you, but even the best tend to forget a few little items.  The top three offenders on my list are cigarette butts, twisters and straw wrappers from juice boxes.  Yup, tiny little offenders, but boy do they add up!
So, as you are headed out the door on your first or second or any spring picnic, think about using reusable drink containers and don't forget a good trash receptacle.  A lot of picnic grounds are still officially closed until after Memorial Day, so you may have to haul out your own trash.  Double and triple check your site before you leave, and make sure there is no trace of your visit.  The less impact you leave, the better it is on the environment which leaves it just as beautiful for the next time you come to visit!  Oh lord, and don't forget the camera to take pictures of all the wonders of nature!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our new school wellness coordinator is my kind of person: she's a green fiend. One of her newsletter recommendations has been a New Food of the Month. She suggests a fresh food that might be new to some, tells us why it's good for us, and gives a little more information about it. This month's fabulous food was something that's poking its little green leaves and little red stems above the ground next to my garage: You guessed it! Rhubarb!!

The Northern U.S. and Canada are well suited for rhubarb production. Lovely and tart, rhubarb is one of the first spring fruits to make an appearance. Rhubarb looks like stalks of pinkish green r even magenta celery. Its flavor, however, is much more tart, making it ideal company for sugar in sweet dishes like crisps and pie. It is also commonly used in jams or sauces, mixed with a sweeter fruit like strawberry or raspberry. The stalks can be boiled down to a consistency similar to applesauce. In addition to desserts and various sauces, rhubarb is used in soups, salad dressing, muffins, and other sauces like relish or salsa. Rhubarb is also enjoyed as an affordable sweet treat by simply dipping the raw stalks in sugar. With a longer growing season, April-September, rhubarb can be enjoyed all summer long in a variety of dishes. Rhubarb leaves are inedible and poisonous, though the toxicity levels are very low. The leaves do, however, decompose fully so they can be added to your compost pile without harming the soil.
Rhubarb is 95% water, is rich in Vitamin C and fiber, and is a good source of potassium.

Some of that I knew, and some I didn't. But I do know that I'm looking forward to baking and cooking with rhubarb as soon as it's ripe and ready for picking. Mmmm... rhubarb upside down cake....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Royal Ranch's First Post

Wow!  You'd think I was planning to write a piece for the Washington Post or The New York Times with as nervous as I've been about this post.  Not actually nervous, anxious is a better word I would say.  I have to give you a little background here; I am an environmental mountain hillbilly, and darn proud of it.  My very first attempts at blogging were not quite a year ago and I did not start out like most people and start reading and commenting on blogs.  No, I jumped right in and started my own.  Why, you ask?  Because I have a lot to say, of course!
No really,  I have thought and thought about what my first post to GreenSpot-On is going to be about, I mean this is a big deal.  This fantastic blog that is dedicated to everything I believe wholeheartedly in is going nationwide!  Now, I may be a little slow when it comes to the world wide web thing, I get that the internet reaches the entire world, but when a blog has authors from all over the nation, I think that's pretty cool!
So, that's where I decided to start.  Since most of the current authors are from that lakeish (spell check doesn't speak mountain hillbilly?  Odd.)  part of the country,  I want to introduce the readers to the fantastic Rocky Mountains.  I am a native Coloradan, second generation, which is quite rare.  My husband and I have a commercial llama outfitting company that gives us ample opportunities to  take some really great pictures, so I thought I'd share some of those with you.  You can read my bio, on the right side bar to learn more about me, but I'm sure we'll get much better acquainted soon, I love feedback.
Me and my llama string
Meridian Trail (our favorite)
Rocky Mtn. Big Horn Sheep
Colorado Columbine
Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Monday, April 5, 2010

Signs of Spring at the Daisy Household

Tiny little rhubarb sprouts poking their heads out of the ground...

The rain barrels are ready; bring it on, Mother Nature!

And digging for gold, this adorable little creature -- hey, wait a minute. This squirrel doesn't belong in my new tomato patch! Out! Out! Oh, dear. I really need a fence. Honey, do we have any more chicken wire?