Glad You Could Join Us!

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.

Search This Blog

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend = planting time!

It started with a triangular plot of grass covered with newspapers, cardboard, and a thick layer of leaves and grass. Then came winter. After the snow melted and the spring weather made itself at home, we had a pile of topsoil delivered.

Next: spread the topsoil, adding a layer of compost on top. We're building up rather than digging down this year. I'll let you know how it works.

Now comes the true test: planting! I put in the tomato and pepper seedlings, a few squares of broccoli, and the areas leftover will be flowers. That's a new twist; I'm usually strictly a vegetable gardener.

I could have planted earlier this year (our weather was almost outrageously warm in midMay), but it's not always safe in our zone. We can have frost warnings all the into the end of May some years. So -- I finished my progress reports first, and then thoroughly enjoyed playing in the dirt!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A day late and a dollar short

 The Lone Dead Tree

I think that just may be my new motto, a day late and a dollar short.  No, I'm just kidding, but it is definitely true for the past couple of days and this post, sorry GSO readers!  As it is for many of you, it is the last few days of school around here, which means all sorts of picnics and graduations and field days and all kinds of fun stuff when you have three kids in three schools.  It is also the week we are preparing to open our campgrounds for the big Memorial weekend.  So, it was not a good thing when I went out to start my beloved truck yesterday on the way to three of these fun events and it would not start.
Let's say I am very thankful that I know a lot of people in this community and was comfortable just hopping in the truck with the Dad of one of Nate's friends and hoping I could find rides from there on out.  Which I did.  My friend Amanda took me from the middle school up to the elementary, a neighbor took me from there to the food pantry where I was needed to put some extra hours in, and my wonderful seventeen year old sons came and picked me up from there and delivered me back home last evening-WHEW!!!
Now, the trouble of the day really started when we headed off to work at the campgrounds (that's pretty bad after a day like that-ha!).  I have mentioned the forest mitigation project going on around our area before, and I have said that I am pretty much on the fence about it.  Mother Nature is unable to take care of things because we as humans have gotten in her way, so I was hoping that we as humans had gone in and fixed the problem.  Well, I'm pretty much off the fence now.  My campground, er, the campground that the company that I represent that represents the National Forest I mean, looks like s@%t.  Yup, I said it (sorta).

You know, I can get past the loss of the trees, as a matter of fact many of the stumps that we investigated were diseased in the middle.  I am actually surprised by the number of trees that were already dying in that forest, but had shown no outward sign.  A few of the odd things were the fact that they left some really dead trees standing, one that looked as if we could just knock it right over, hence the picture.  They are riddled with beetle holes and both were struck by lightning and have a ring from top to bottom.  We looked for nests or any other obvious reason for them to have been left, but could find none; odd.  Tom joked that it was because they had not been tagged so the workers hadn't taken them, and I'm afraid he's not too far off the mark. 

I must say that my biggest concern is wildfire.  Ironic isn't it?  They come in for fire mitigation and I think Tom and I have one hell of a campground season ahead of us to make sure our campers don't burn down our home.  I am now thinking our new motor-home may come in awful handy as we may have to move into that campground to keep the campers from dragging all of the mess that the fire crew has left just on the outskirts of the grounds, into the grounds to have their fires.  Campers tend to get their fires as big as they can, and as you can see from the pics, the wood crew has left a "tinder box" of  wood debris about a foot thick just to the west of my, I mean your, campgrounds waiting for a spark to escape into.  Directly in the direction of my ranch I might add.

Okay, okay, in about twenty to fifty years, after this mess is all cleaned up by campers and decomposed back into the soil, it will be beautiful.  Nicely thinned, and some wonderful green grassy meadow areas, hopefully the deer and elk will love it.  As we stood there debating this whole mess, and I do mean mess literally, we must have been quite engrossed in our conversation because this moose must have walked right past us.  As we were leaving we saw some cars at the entrance; when we stopped to see what they were doing they pointed her out to us!  Look closely, that is her back side in the trees there, laughing at us as she walks away...

Monday, May 24, 2010

tomato, tomahto

Here it is as it looked last week; my new tomato plot. A plain triangle, a few grass clipping layered over a little compost.

We covered the area with cardboard and newspaper last fall, outlined it with a few posts and spare boards, and let nature do its job over the winter. Our neighbor (the owner of the Huge Woodpiles) gave us the boards we needed to border the plot and support what will become a raised bed of a good soil mix. Next: we're getting dirt delivered. Chuck called a few places and found one that would deliver with a small enough truck to drive into the yard and dump the soil right where we need it. We'll mix it with compost (homemade, of course!), till the whole thing, and then get ready to plant during Memorial Day weekend!

I'm crossing my fingers that the weather holds (it's hot and muggy today), and planning to work like crazy on progress reports so I can play in the dirt all weekend without guilt.

Yes! It's garden time at Daisy's house!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Double Agent Judy

 Happy Spring!
Although my favorite birds are back, happily humming their way around the ranch,
these beautiful flowers have a ways to go!
Photo taken summer "09

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks, I have thought of it often, but just never finished it.  Well, today is the day because this may be my last day to be a double agent due to such a huge increase in demand, just read on, you'll catch up.  This has become so near and dear to my heart that I haven't even been sure how to put it to words, so I will go with what I already had started:

You know, I went into blogging to advertise my business, help promote my book and to try and help people.  Really, that was my highest intention.  And I think I have written a couple of posts that have affected peoples lives, or at least opened up their minds.  Like when I posted about my epilepsy, that has the power to help a person to stay positive in their own "lemon" situation.  As far as opening minds, well hopefully I do that quite often-ha!  One time my Dad and I were talking about nothing in particular and he said that he had really gotten to know who I was better, through reading my blog.
As you all know I have been cross posting on Tuesdays for a few weeks now.  It seems that this is sort of a metaphor for my life, it is like I am a double agent these last weeks because I lead a double life on Tuesdays.  It's not really that I have kept it a big secret, it's just not something I want to brag about, I volunteer at the food pantry on Tuesday, which came about because I had to start going to the food pantry.
Let me start at the beginning, shall I?  It all starts with this post, really.  At least the trips to the food pantry do, because that is when I "woke up".  We really had no choice, at that time we had gotten so far behind in our bills due to my back injury that it was either pay the bills or nothing.  So, I had talked to many of my friends who had already had the "food bank" experience, and bawled my way there one Thursday afternoon.  Do you know what I cried for?  I cried for our country.
See, a year ago, we would have been considered a lower middle class family.  My husband made $20,000 less last year than he did the year before, due to a loss of all overtime.  I made zippo, because I lost my job taking care of the neighbors horses.  We accrued huge medical bills due to all of the broken bones, head and back injuries and the fact that my husbands boss can't afford good health insurance. (Who can? At least we have it.)  But that was what felt kind of funny to me, yes, I was a little embarrassed, especially if I thought of running into certain people or something, but mostly just sad for our country.
I'll never forget walking in that first time after crying my way there, this gruff hillbilly looking guy says "What, you need some food?"  I, of course in Judy fashion had come in the back door, but when I came around the corner, I swear I could hear the angels singing!  You can't believe the amount of bread and produce that was on the tables, it really was unbelievable; enough for the entire town of Bailey to each have a loaf of bread and then some leftover, I bet.  So, anyway, I got some food and got the heck out of there, I was so nervous!  But, that's just not the way I do business, and I knew there was more that needed to be done.
You see, one of the few good things about recovering from the back injury is that I found myself with a little time on my hands.  To be honest, I couldn't even really remember what it was I did before the back injury that had kept me so busy.  So, I signed up to volunteer at the food pantry.  Not only did it make me feel better about taking the food, but it introduced me to some really great people.  It also really opened my eyes to what is going on around me.  Believe me, lower middle class is not the only one that has been hit.  We are talking all the way up to upper class, folks.
For us, it was a matter of choice in a way, the only one that made sense anyway.  We had already taken advantage of all of the assistance through our mortgage companies, we make too much to qualify for public assistance (which I'm not sure I'm comfortable with anyway), so to get caught up on our bills, something had to give and that was the grocery money. We may not have any money, but I do have time, so that is what I gave.  And now I know the reason all of this has happened, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Remember that odd sadness for our country that I told you about?  Well, that is called empathy, and yeah, it has taken me a long way in my new job.  The first timers are easy to pick out, because they usually either are crying, or have just wiped the tears away as I had done when I walked in the first time.  Then you have the regulars, like the little old man that was so concerned when I was sick one week, that he practically ran back to the kitchen with a grin when I returned to tell me how much he had missed my smile!
The other volunteers have become great friends of mine as well.  I feel as if a couple of them are people that were put in my path for a reason and are on the same wavelength as I am, so to speak.  To hear the stories of how people ended up in the positions we have all ended up in, is simply amazing.  From freaks of nature, like repetitive strikes of lightning last year on one guys ranch to traumatic health issues like Agent Orange that have tainted an entire household, people have arrived on the food bank doorstep for many reasons.  But many, many of us are there wanting to give back all that we take plus much more, and that is a common and strong bond.
I purposely chose to write this post on a day that I write on both GSO and at home at the Royal Ranch, because I know how many people this might affect.  And do you know how I know that?  Because ever since people have found out that I work/go to the food bank, each week I have sent someone new in there.  That is also why I will no longer be a double agent, demand is so high, we need to move some volunteers to Thursday, so today will probably be my last Tuesday.  That's right, demand for our little food bank is so high we are growing each and every day we are open.  Most days there is a line waiting for us to open.
A couple more things I would like to add.  To me this is "green living" at it's fullest.  Our biggest suppliers are Whole Foods, Target, Kings and Safeway.  So we are taking the day olds from stores that would be throwing them away and passing them along to people who really need them.  Now this to me is the kicker, it is all really healthy food.  Food that I could not afford, even in the best of times, to feed my family.  Lots of organic foods and soy and tofu and a variety of produce that you literally would find at Whole Foods.  I mean really nice stuff, and then anything that we don't use, gets taken back down the mountain to the homeless shelters.  Again, to me this all seems like a very environmentally responsible way of dealing with the stores' castoffs.
Now, a word of caution, or possibly defense, I don't know.  There are different types of food banks out there.  If it is a food pantry that relies entirely on donations from the community, that is a little different in my opinion, and should only be used for those with the utmost need (and by all means use it if you need!).  But if there is a pantry like ours, that receives donations from stores, it is well worth checking out, who knows you may make the difference in another persons day, or even  life.  Now go make a double agent miracle today, I plan to.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Old Bunny Hutch

Our first set of pet rabbits lived in this hutch. They ate and slept in this hutch, enjoyed the fresh air, and snuggled up together at night. By day they often played in the rabbit run, a construction of PVC pipe and chicken wire that kept them safe from the neighbor dogs while they nibbled on their grass. Watership Down fans, we called it "silflay". When winter came, we had an alternate living quarters in the basement that we called their winter condo. Now our bunnies are house pets: they use a litter box, sleep under our beds, and greet us when we come home from work.

So what to do with the hutch? It's currently full of gardening tools and supplies, but it's really rotting and falling apart. Finally, after so many years, much of the old bunny hutch turned storage space is going to end up in a dumpster; the construction dumpster for our home renovation. That which is suitable may become garden walkways, but not much is still useful.

It's okay. All good things come to an end. The dirt underneath will become home to -- shall we predict? -- more rhubarb or raspberries!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Mother's Day of Recycling

I have found that sometimes the best way of dealing with the crap that life throws your way is to get grounded.  And I mean that literally.  Get reconnected with  the earth in some way or another.  So, when my family asked me what I wanted to do for Mother's Day, the answer was an easy one.  I wanted to get down and dirty and do some physical labor around this ranch and start the healing process.  For those GSO readers, please check out the last couple of posts at my regular home, and you'll see why I need some healin' time.

I must say that I am really proud of our accomplishments.  We only had two trash cans and all of this will go to the recycling yards.  Another great thing about it was the wood that we took off of stuff like the futon was used for a family bonfire and marshmallows...YUM!!!!
The funny part was that we had been having a long debate about the bicycles.  Tom said they had to be torn down, no plastic or rubber.  I thought they would recycle them the way they were.  Well, I had Thomas and my spare sons working on them for about five minutes before I heard grumbles that they should have gotten me a gift instead.  I tried not to bust out laughing before I let them go.  Anyway, after a bit of research, I, of course am right, they will be accepted rubber, plastic and all!

So, I will add about six or seven overly jumped and drug and abused bicycles to these piles, and completely fill my truck!!!  I will take them to Western Metals Recycling and have a very clean ranch to show for a great Mother's Day.  Fantastic.

Monday, May 10, 2010

After the storm

The trellis fell off the garage.
Shingles fell from the garage roof.

Maple seeds, not mature yet, fell from the big tree.

The silver linings in this series of clouds:
Both rain barrels are full and ready to use.
The garage is still standing.
In our neighborhood of old trees, none came down.
I won't be pulling as many baby maple trees out of the garden this spring!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Identifying Nature's Wonders!

Hello Readers!  I need your help!  I have some photos that I took that I have not shared due to the difficulty I am having identifying the subjects!  I would love it if our readers would help me identify these creatures so I can put the proper names for them in our slide show!  Remember that these photos were taken in Michigan in case you want to look up a species for identification.

One of my main things is to go outside and just take pictures of the interesting things I see or wildlife found.  I have hundreds of photos like this.  This first photo is of a butterfly that was resting on the trunk of a tree (Photo taken July 10, 2009), notice the coloring of the wings and the bark are similar if I hadn't seen it land I probably never would have noticed it there:

Another photo I took of a Dragonfly resting on a blade of grass in a field (Taken July 10, 2009):

Last but not least, a small turtle that was trying to cross a very busy road that we intercepted while on a walk (Photo taken on June 20, 2009):
To give you an idea of the turtle's size:

So what do you think?  Just reply to this post and let us know what species/type of wildlife you think are in these photo's.  If you have a link to a website or book you found the species in, please cite them so we can take a look and see what you came up with!  I would love to add these photo's to our slide show:)  If this Identification project is successful, maybe I'll do this again in the near future as a regular thing.  I would love to have you all join the discussion!

Thank you all!

Khrys @ GreenSpot-On

P.S. Don't forget to check out our videos on YouTube!  We recently added video of an American Toad!  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!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Seed Inventory!

A few years ago I had the misadventure of planting too late because I didn't buy seeds in time. This year, I'm more prepared. I bought some last season as the stores were clearing out their stock. I ordered some seeds online, ordered tomato and pepper plants from a nearby environmental charter school, and then stored them all in my little blue basket.

Here's the inventory:

Plenty of beans! Pole beans (green), bush beans (wax, yellow), all set to produce beans in Green Bay Packer colors just in time for the NFL preseason. Don't judge me; the NFL draft just concluded. Not that I need a reason to think about Packer football, mind you.
Peas! I bought two kinds; sugar snap and one other. I've only grown sugar snap peas successfully, and those only once. What's the major difference? Can anyone tell me?
Carrots: I don't usually plant carrots because our backyard is such a hard, clay-based soil. But after ten years of tilling compost into it, the garden plot now turns easily. Easily enough to grow carrots? We'll see. No matter what, my bunnies enjoy the greens.
Squash: I have one packet of summer squash (zucchini) and one packet of neck pumpkins from City Slipper. That should be plenty for my small garden.
Lettuce: two types, could use more.
Herbs: already started thyme and basil indoors, can start the oregano later. Or sooner, if I end up with another egg carton.
Flowers: a few, courtesy of's variety pack. I'll plant the Shasta Daisies (of course!) as soon as I find a special place for them.
Tomatoes: started two kinds from seed, with more coming from a school fundraiser. Next challenge: get the new tomato plot ready.

So ... what do I need? Spinach, a couple more kinds of lettuce, and that's all. I'm quite well prepared for planting. Now if I could prepare as well for report cards, the end-of-school year madness, our remodeling project, health care reform, the fall midterm election, my children's upcoming graduations, and subsequent plans, I'd be set for life. Uh-huh.

At least the garden planning is in place.