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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, June 29, 2010

Here, kitty kitty kitty

Spaying and neutering is something I have firmly believed in since the first time I heard Bob Barker remind his viewers on the Price is Right how important it was.  And believe me, that has been a long time!!!  I recently have had many examples of why I so firmly believe in this literally dropped on my doorstep, okay maybe not dropped on my doorstep, but living and breathing and affecting the health (and food bill) of my ranch, so that counts too.

Meet Pimienta and Nocola, Royal Ranch's newest addition's.  Pimienta means pepper in Spanish and Nocola means no tail, I guess you'll be able to figure out who is who.  Not quite a year ago our renters got two cats, brother and sister from a breeder of Bengal Bobcats.  They got them for free because they are solid black instead of the typical Bengal markings.  Now, as a Landlord, I really try to mind my own business, but when I saw that the cats had had kittens I got a little concerned, let alone that the kittens were outdoors.

During this time, some changes in that very same rental happened and we took back over half of the duplex that the cats use, so Isabella and I became very familiar with the cats and what was going on with them.  That was when I realized that the Mama kitty was pregnant again!  As a matter of fact, Daddy kitty was trying to breed Pimi as well, which is what finally got me to leave a (not so friendly) letter on the door of the renter.  Well, one thing led to another, and thank goodness I have friends in the rescue business,  and now fast forward a couple months and here we are...
So, it has taken me multiple trips down the mountain to Spay Today to get all of the adult cats spayed and neutered.  I took Daddy, Pimienta and Nocola, who at the time all still belonged to the renter down right away.  Mama was busy having just had these cute little things.  I then waited until two weeks ago and got Mama spayed, another trip down the hill we go.  Last weekend we got to take her to a vet up here to get her tested for Feline Leukemia so that my friends over at Evergreen Animal Protective League can have these adorable babies without spreading that horrific disease.  Today we will deliver the babies, yup, all three of those precious babies are going to new homes through EAPL over in Evergreen.
Now, I mentioned that none of these cats were to be ours, and that was the original plan; until the renter mentioned that he might sell the middle generation at a pet store.  Since they are Bobcat Bengals, and since he is having a hard time financially and since they are always looking for kittens, etc.  Well, I'm probably going to offend someone here, but over my dead body!  I have heard waaay to many horror stories for these cats that Isabella and I have been working very hard to tame and take care of to end up in some filthy pet store!  So, that is how Pimi and Nocola became Royal Ranch cats, and you know the funny thing was that the very same day that we "claimed" Nocola, she started calming down.  It was just as if she needed to know she had a place to stay forever.
Okay, so I have bragged about my friends in high places, but you do not need friends in high places if you don't get yourself in this pickle of needing multiple surgeries done at once.  There are lots and lots of resources out there people.  If you can't afford to spay or neuter your pet, call your local shelter and they will help you get it done, I guarantee it.  Also, help your neighbor, they may be too embarrassed to admit that they have a problem.  We have a sad story going on right now here in Colorado, an 80something woman got kicked out of her house due to it being overrun with cats.  I know how it happened, I have seen it.
As a matter of fact, last summer, the very same thing happened to us.  A gal had been coming to us to buy her hay, and when she broke her leg, we offered to help take care of her horse.  Well, it led to much more than that, her place was taken over by cats and could have been condemned at any moment.  So we cleaned it up and got the animals fixed.  It was amazing, I found a group that brought a motorhome to her place, and in one day we trapped, spayed, and neutered 22 cats!  If we had not done that, the cats would be doubled by this year, think of that!  People just don't realize how quickly it gets out of hand.
Now, off of the "soap box" as my Dad would say, but I do have some interesting points about these Bobcat Bengals.  They really are some amazing cats.  Boy, can they climb!  The ones with no tails have extra toes to help them with their balance, which kind of looks weird, but again, makes for some amazingly agile cats.  Genetically, this has been an odd bunch.  Mom and Dad are both solid black as are Pimi and Nocola, and then here comes the third generation that has all of the Bobcat Bengal traits, like the toes and tails, but are Siamese in color, very odd.
I'm not sure where I stand on the breeding down the Bobcats and Bengal tigers thing.  Before I met these cats I would have said I was against it, for sure.  And I'm not too impressed that the breeder did not make sure that my renter get the cats fixed if she removed them from the breeding program.  But some of the websites I have visited are pretty cool, and talk about saving a piece of wildlife and endangered species, and the "good examples" of the breed are amazingly "tiger" like.  I thought GSO would be a great place to get some feedback on such a discussion, so come on people, let's hear what you have to say!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Nature-Writing Reads

So, I've decided to make this a short post today because I have a lot of other plans. It's pretty gorgeous out, even though the weather report is calling for severe thunderstorms soon. I was just thinking about including a book list for anyone that is still trying to find summer reading for the beach or the trail. Following are a few of my favorites that make a lot of sense for reading outdoors:
Happy Wednesday! -BA

Monday, June 21, 2010

The good, the bad, and the ugly in the garden this week

The bad: darn these baby maple seeds! The helicopters landed, I picked up as many as I could, and now I'm pulling the sprouts of those I missed. If I ever let natural succession take its course, I'll have a lot of silver maples.

The ugly: Poor Chuck! The bunnies ate his new shrub. The rain and the construction kept him from putting up the fence, and the neighborhood fuzz-balls thought they'd enjoy a salad.

The good? My tomatoes are supported! I couldn't decide which type of support to buy, so I bought all three. This will be the experimental year. I'll see what works best and invest in that kind of support next summer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Working with Nature

I must admit, I'm a tad bit jealous of our neighbors and their gorgeous ponds.  We sit up on the hill overlooking the valley and the neighbors with the gorgeous ponds, so don't get me wrong, I don't have too much to complain about, I just don't have waterfront property.
One of our neighbor's, we'll call them the J's, have spectacular fly fishing ponds that they have built up over the years.  They stock them every few years with prize winning trout and even make a little money through a local fly fishing association.  The P's on the other hand, have a smaller pond just to watch wildlife and such.  It is so cute, they are a retired couple and have a bench sitting over the dam, and all kinds of rocks and wildflowers, they really enjoy their yard.
So recently, I have been hearing about troubles with the ponds.  Actually, I caught Mr. P going after the geese, yelling and chasing them out of his pond (he doesn't want them taking over because then they will contaminate it).  Funny as could be!  Then, come to find out, the J's are having a problem with the Blue Heron damaging some of their beloved fish.  And I do mean beloved.  We have seen Mr. J (one of Tom's best friends) jump in the freezing cold winter water to revive a fish that has been caught and released, the rules of the pond, of course.

The main problem is that the fish are too big for the Heron in the first place!  So the fish is getting injured for nothing, and the Heron still gets no dinner, bummer.  The J's can't use a lot of regular detractants for the Heron because that would interfere with the fly fishermen.  They did buy a fake Blue Heron, but that mostly just scared the dog.
Well, I got to thinking (could be dangerous).  And watching that Heron's pattern, he seemed to like the P's pond just as much as the J's pond except he wasn't getting anything to eat there.  But when the Blue Heron was at the P's pond, the Geese were nowhere to be found.  They seemed to hang out in the beaver ponds up the valley just a bit where they belong.  Hmmm..., how about we stock the P's ponds with inexpensive (native, of course) brookies for the Heron to hunt so that he leaves the J's nice big fish alone?  This could solve everyone's problem.
I talked with Mr. J, and he thinks the plan is brilliant, (with just a tiny bit of prodding from me-ha!), and I will talk with the P's today.  I'll let you know how the plan works out, but it is always best to try and work with Mother Nature than against her!

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Green" Picnics for a Summer Change

As I work on my writing indoors during the hottest part of the day, I usually watch the Food Network at the same time. Recently I discovered that I also get the Cooking Channel that has been showcasing a lot of international BBQ ideas, cooking outside, tailgating, and going on picnics. Of course food always gets me excited... but eating outside seems to make it better. So how about some ways to have a greener picnic?

Picnics are an age-old custom that have roots back in our ancestral cave dwelling and hunter-gatherer days. The open campfire. Eating in the open air. Enjoying the beauty of nature and the simplicity of real food. Eating with our hands. Sitting on the ground. So it's time to take back this simple, green picnic tradition...and here are some suggestions to green your picnics in ways that save money, save work...and save our natural treasures.

Forget the paper and plastic! When you think of zero-waste, you realize that you really don't need paper plates, plastic spoons, paper table cloths or even paper napkins. Choose foods that you can serve easily and eat all of. Also, invest in a picnic basket that you can use over and over for years. You can use recycled containers that you've utilized before, cloth, your hands, and even sticks for extra fun! The main point is to pack a picnic with utensils that you already have (without buying new items that tout being "green.") For example, the video below showcases a product called Bare by Solo® (plates, cups, containers) that are made from partially recycled materials and supposedly compostable... but they are still paper plates and not worth buying if one is truly dedicated to green initiatives.

Ok, so back to other green picnic suggestions:

Choose raw foods: a chopped salad, or skewered veggies roasted over the open fire. By selecting fresh fruits and vegetables that can be eaten raw, you get back in touch with your human roots and save a lot of work! And it's healthier than other over-cooked, fat-laden picnic menus. Some great raw foods include in-season fruits such as peaches, apples, cherries (seed spitting contests are always fun!), watermelons, cantaloupes, and many of the tropical fruits now available in grocery stores. But think organic, think local...and think about washing the fruit before eating it. Great vegetables for grilling and raw salads include tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and corn on the cob. Meats for grilling can include beef, fish, and other favorites like hotdogs. Be careful with chicken, turkey and pork-- they all require efficient, continuous cooling and cleanliness to prevent stomach problems. That can sometimes be difficult in picnic settings.

Drink from large containers or assign each person a reusable cup that you've brought from home. Water bottles and soft drink cans are huge problems in our waste stream! Water is a sustainable, green, healthful drink for active outdoor refreshment; as are green tea, herbal teas, lemonade, and even some vegetable drinks. Sugar-heavy drinks increase body heat and sap energy so keep them to a minimum.

Feed the birds and ants a healthy distance from your picnic (but don't entice other animals to your picnic site.) Giving children the task of feeding the birds healthy food not only connects them with nature, but teaches them the difference between healthy wildlife food and unhealthy food. Realize though that ducks and other birds should not eat bread. Stop by a pet store and invest in a small bag of duck food or bird seed. Save your human food for humans and the compost pile!

Open space is a wonderful inspiration for running and jumping and laughter. That's for the young at heart. For the rest of us: bring blankets for nice afternoon naps and quiet visits or cuddling. Once the day is winding down, be sure to take away any garbage you generate and take home any recyclables. Don't hesitate to pick up after those who won't pick up after themselves, leaving nothing behind from your picnic.

Ah...picnics are a great tradition. So many fond memories grow from those rustic moments in nature. How cool that they can be even more sustainable if we take a few minutes to pack the right things.

Happy Wednesday! - BA

Supporting the Tomatoes

The newest dilemma in the new garden area is this: how shall I support the tomatoes? The old cages are no longer suitable. Last time I used them we had a tomato jungle: the plants grew so tall they fell over the sides of the cages, and then the wire cages broke through the stems. They were getting close to six feet tall, and the conical cages were only 48 inches in height.

Last year I planted tomatoes in the wrong place and too close together. They didn't get enough sun, and they fought each other for space and water and nutrients from the soil. We didn't get hit with the blight, but it was not a good year for tomatoes.

I've ruled out the wire cages. I'm using the old trellises to support the peas. Now what? I did a search (on swagbucks, check the link in the right sidebar), and found several options.

Tomato ladders. There's a neighbor who uses these, and I like the looks of the product. They're strong, they're thick, and they're coated steel (no vine breakage!). But I'd need ten at least, and at a cost of $50 for a package of three... deep breath.
Tomato towers. This is also expensive. Could we make our own? Do I have time? Does Chuck have time? I found something similar in a local hardware for $5 apiece.
Tomato Spirals. Now these look intriguing. At $35 for a set of five, this is more affordable. I can use the t-shirt tie-ups from last year if I need them.
Here's a combination of two philosophies: the tomato spiral cage. Again, expensive to purchase outright.

Now the challenge: finding and buying these. I'd much rather buy locally. I've checked two hardware stores, a garden specialty store, and two big box stores with garden sections. So far, no luck. At least, no luck that I'd consider affordable. If I spend too much, we're approaching the $64 Tomato mark, and that's just not reasonable. I know most of these products would last for years, but I still need to make the initial investment now.

There are two stores left on my list, and then I might give in and order online - or create something entirely different.

Ideas, gardener friends? Suggestions? I'm listening.

This was posted yesterday at Compost Happens. I'm reposting it, hoping for input. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Green" Outdoor Sports Options

The environment and sports have always been linked. Wherever wide open lands, endless stretches of ice and snow or bodies of water have beckoned, humankind has transformed them into places for playing, wandering, enjoying, and sight-seeing. Soccer and football. Gardening and ultimate frisbee. Baseball and croquet. Golf and swimming. Ice hockey and skiing. Canoeing and hiking. The games/activities we love today were born outdoors and still enjoyed to the fullest on fields and in parks, on beaches and on mountainsides, in oceans and streams. Without clean air, clean water, and a healthy climate, our enjoyment of most sports and conservation would not be possible.

Friends of the blog above enjoying the Chippewa River in Central Michigan.

With summer upon us, my mind is always contemplating when/where I should go outdoors to enjoy something new while experiencing a place I haven't been to before. It's like I finally get to escape from my box and feel the sun on my skin and wind in my hair after a long hiatus. I also try to consider affordable options for environmental excursions. Nothing says summer like enjoying authentic experiences in the great outdoors. My next plan is to meander up to Van Buren State Park here in Northwestern Ohio and see what I can see. Like many local parks, this park has many different options for a picnic, spotting wildlife, and hiking/biking along various trails.

Just as vital as seeking out local, affordable day trips, it's also important to consider a few tips about green outdoor sports. Planet Green has a list that is helpful in fulfilling the preservation of the environment:

1.Get out there

Being in the forest, the desert, the mountains, the rivers, the ocean is more likely to invigorate your green passion and your innate sense of place than being stuck in that manmade artifice, the city, that most of us now know as home. You might call them holidays, vacations, weekends, but in reality it is simply playtime. Just like when we were kids. The sheen on the water, the warmth of the rock, the smell of moss after rain, the taste of dirt. It connects us not only to our childhood, but also to our origins. And the longer we dwell there, the greater our sense of stewardship. So do your part to fight nature deficit disorder and get out there.

2.Travel wisely

But how you get there is probably the biggest environmental decision you have to make. For most of us, no other choice will have as much impact on the planet as our mode of travel. If at possible, avoid the plane. Think global, play local. Look for exotic, exciting places nearby. Be creative, like the guys in Montreal, Canada, who go surfing on their local river. Of course if the breaks are local, there are many racks available for toting your board by bicycle. For many jaunts into the wilds, especially in Europe, New Zealand and South America, it is possible to train or bus to a trailhead or 'put-in,' and in many cases this will allow you to complete an A-to-B trip without having to retrace you path. But if you desperately have go by car, there remain plenty of options. Hitch-hike (best if you're with a buddy and don’t have a kayak in tow!), carpool with mates (have fun, save both fuel and CO2 emissions), rent a hybrid, or fill the tank with a biofuel blend.

3.Share and share alike

You know you're going to have a fantastic time under the open sky, so why not share it. Once in a while, soften the hardcore approach a little--take your friends, family, work colleagues, or fellow students out there with you. Watch 'em swat a few mosquitoes, shake the sand from their wetsuit, or get a sunburned nose, all the while knowing that you are introducing someone anew to the blue sky joys that give you so much pleasure. Chances are, someone did the same for you once. Return the favor by paying it forward. If you're feeling really gallant, volunteer with the Scouts, surf club or for summer camps. It’s not only good for the soul and the planet, it now seems to be good for the brain.

4.Support those who support

The Surfrider Foundation is famous for its work for the benefit of both surfers and the environment in which they play. For climbers, the Access Group plays a similar role, and there are plenty others, some of whom we note below. Financial and moral support for such bodies ensures that outdoor arenas in which we cavort will get the thoughtful environmental recognition they deserve.

5.Play hard, land lightly

There is a tendency when playing outside the boundaries imposed by concrete, glass, and societal norms to think that we can just go for it. And while that’s true when shooting through a pressure wave on a whitewater river or pushing yourself to the end of a hundred mile wilderness run, it doesn’t mean we can just drop our other responsibilities. As Climbing Magazine put it in a piece about 'eco-bouldering', "Just remember: skankous tape wads, cigarette butts, and energy-bar wrappers do not constitute local flora." And choose fuel stoves over fires from downed timber--those boughs create habitat for local critters and humus for soil replenishment. But improper use of stoves has it own issues. The stove of an illegally camped Czech backpacker set off a wildfire that decimated 12,000 hectares (29,652 acres) of Chile’s iconic Torres del Paine National Park. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has a comprehensive set of guidelines for minimizing such environmental tragedies.

6.Buy consciously

In Europe they use a phase, 'ecological rucksack,' to measure the volume of nature that was disturbed to generate a given product or service. And it seems appropriate here as a reminder that the foam block in a typical surfboard, a kayak hull, or snowboard jacket is usually made of a finite fossil fuel by-product and will be with us for at least another 500 years. Obviously it’s important to select outdoor gear for its ability to perform -- your life may depend on it -- but these days there are many products that offer identical function (and flair) with fewer of the environmental flaws. Bamboo snowboards, hemp surfboards, recycled plastic underwear and fleece, organic energy bars, recycled rubber-soled walking boots, organic cotton climbing pants and oodles more. Check below for companies that deliver both high tech and low impact.

7.Powered by the sun

With all this talk of gear and equipment it is important to remember that the greenest outdoor pursuits are those undertaken without the aid of gas guzzling engines. Hear the crunch of snow under your backcountry skis or snowshoes rather than the screech and grind of the skidoo's motor. The dip of your paddle into the river, or the flutter of the sail as it is trimmed can bring your soul more peace than the whine that emanates from a seadoo, jetski, or motor boat. More and more snowboarders are discovering the delights of back bowls and leaving energy-consuming, lift-assisted resort boarding behind, as telemark skiers did a generation before them. With an organic diet in your belly, fuelling your human-powered activities, you could almost be considered to be running on solar energy.

8.Less is more

Ray Jardine, who turned the climbing world on its ear by inventing 'Friends,' the iconic camming protection device for climbers, later rediscovered the delights of simple backpacking. He went on to inspire an entire cadre of long distance travelers who traverse mountain ranges with a rucksack not much larger than a daypack. In turn, the industry responded with a plethora of featherweight, minimal equipment. But the real point here is that the gear should never become more important than the experience. Do we have more fun now with our multi-thousand dollar mountain bikes than that the all-terrain pioneers did, careening down hills of Marin Country on their ancient cruiser bikes? Less stuff often means more fun, yet with less demand on the world’s diminishing resources.

9.Reuse, repair, rejunvenate

High-grade outdoor apparel and equipment can readily be obtained secondhand. Freecycle, Ebay and Craiglist are just some of the online places to try. But there are also bricks-and-mortar stores selling pre-loved sports goods, such as the US franchise chain with the wonderful name, 'Play it Again,' what has a wide range of snow sports gear. And don't forget many rental shops sell off their end of season’s stock. Buying a secondhand climbing rope or mountain bike helmet, however, is probably not the wisest move. Another way of reducing unnecessary production and distribution environmental woes is to repair the gear you already have. Patch the ding in your surfboard, the rip in your tent, replace the frayed rigging on your Hobie Cat. Either doing it yourself or via a repair service will greatly extend the useful life of your beloved gear. As will a bit of a tender loving care. Wax your skis, rinse your grit-filled climbing ropes, sharpen your snowboard edges, wash your down sleeping bag, clean the jets and fuel lines on your camp stove. It will make your kit seem like new and certainly give it extra seasons or years of faithful service.

10.Higher and hire

Of course there will always be times when you want the latest stuff. Work out how often you're really going to use it. It might prove more economically (and certainly more environmentally) sound to rent it. That way you can always ski in the latest gear each season. Do you really need to own a sea kayak if it only sees the waves one week a year? With the advent of online services like Hire Things, chances are you can even hire activity specific equipment. Got stuff gathering dust in garage yourself? Make some pocket money rather than let it sit idle.
I'm excited to continue exploring my green outdoor sporting options and can't wait to get outside again while the weather is nice =)

Have a Fun Wednesday All! -BA

One Big Load

Okay, I am a little later with this post than I usually am, but I have a good excuse. See, I started to post this morning, but realized that what I really wanted to talk about had to wait until the end of my trip into the big city.  Yes, that's right, I braved the heat and headed down the mountain into Denver.  I say it like it's such a big deal, when many of the people in my community, including my husband, do it four or five times a week.  Eeew, I could not deal!
But back to me and my trip down the mountain.  The kids drug me down you see; they of course love the adventures to be had in the city.  Nathan had finally saved up enough money from his birthday and working around the neighborhood for an i pod touch and Isabella had watered the neighbors plants enough for a new Build a Bear. 
As you all know, we spent Mother's Day recycling and cleaning up the ranch and today was my first opportunity to take the load of recyclables in.  As you can see by the picture, it was a full truck load; this is stuff that has taken us quite a few years to gather.  As a matter of fact, as Nathan pointed out as we were driving away from the monstrous recyclable mountain, we had not paid a dime for one thing in that pile.  The bikes had either been gifts to us or hand me downs.  Most of the metal was stuff that had been left on the ranch when we acquired it.
The best part of all is that we earned $41.25 on the load!  That's why I'm so late, I was dying to find out (and share) my total.  Now, to really make your recycling dollars stretch, you take that money and head to your local Goodwill like I did.  Man, sometimes I even impress (recycle to upcycle) myself-ha!!!  No, I'm just kidding.  Nathan is getting ready to go to Seacamp in sunny San Diego and needs a lot of shorts; so of course, my first choice for b-ball shorts for a fourteen year old boy is Goodwill.  Forty bucks for a cheap*$$ like myself goes a long ways, let me tell you... I also got some flowers for the beautiful crock I inherited from Grandma!  Too bad I'm posting this so late at night and can't show you the flowers...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture Options

So, I've been an absent contributor to this blog for a while now (very busy with school and end of semester tasks) but I hope to be back every Wednesday this summer. Recently I've been thinking about sustainable eating (along with other research intersections pertaining to obesity) and trying to accept that in the Midwest there really are not as many organic produce purchasing options as on the coasts or in the southern regions due to shorter growing seasons. When a person lives alone, doesn't have the time/energy/money for growing produce, or doesn't have room for a garden (see my "backyard" to the left) it's time to start considering other options for enjoying homegrown fruits and vegetables. Therefore, I've been looking into Community Supported Agriculture outlets here in the Bowling Green, OH area.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a socioeconomic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit in a vegetable box scheme, sometimes including dairy products and meat.

CSAs generally focus on the production of high quality foods for a local community, often using organic or biodynamic farming methods, and a shared risk membership/marketing structure. This kind of farming operates with a much greater than usual degree of involvement of consumers and other stakeholders — resulting in a stronger than usual consumer-producer relationship. The core design includes developing a cohesive consumer group that is willing to fund a whole season’s budget in order to get quality foods. The system has many variations on how the farm budget is supported by the consumers and how the producers then deliver the foods. The more a farm embraces whole-farm, whole-budget support, the more it can focus on quality and reduce the risk of food waste or financial loss. This is pretty brilliant!

Here are a few links to help you in your search for CSA information if interested:

USDA National Agriculture Library

Local Harvest

The Eat Well Guide

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

I also like to freqent my local farmer's market such as the one here in BG. If you're like me, summer is the time to partake in all of the foods that are not readily available during the winter. Enjoy and get involved with your local CSAs!

Until next Wednesday, -BA

Recycling in a Remote Community

As you all know by now, we live in a rather remote mountain community. There are no recycling services in our little town, which makes no sense to me, as I consider this the most beautiful place in the world and think it is most definitely worth protecting! Also, my parents travel in a converted bus many months of the year and have a hard time finding recycling facilities. So... today's blog is some ideas on how to recycle, even when recycling services are unavailable.
There are many organized groups, like the Shriner's, that have public drop off locations around the city. These are dumpster sized bins that are one stream recycling. One stream means that there is no need to separate your goods. I found this site in our great Denver community by simply googling recycling sites in Colorado.

Now, for me, this means a long trip into the city in my big diesel truck, not too green. So I make sure to combine a lot of trips and keep my recycling until I have a full truck load. This has not been too difficult to do since I take all of the recycling from our three schools. Which brings up the next point, check with your local schools, many have recycling programs that will allow you to bring your stuff in. When I started the recycling programs through the schools I was only taking a bag or so per week, by the end of last year I had a truckload each week. Once we let it be known that teachers and staff could bring their recyclables in, they were so very happy to not have to take care of it themselves! Also, most schools can earn money from cell phones and some other small electronics, even if you don't have kids, it's a great way to recycle and donate to the schools.

Another big concern of mine is to not have recyclables bring in the animals. When recycling, rinse everything out very well, this will help avoid the little (or in our case, BIG) critters coming for a free meal. I do not use recycling bins, as it seems a little silly to buy something new when I can use one of the containers that I am recycling to hold more recyclables. For instance, when I buy milk at Costco, I keep the box for under my desk, it is the perfect size for junk mail, unused copies, bill envelopes and even the "stickies" I use to communicate with my husband (I'm not too with it at 3:30 am). This also makes it easy for drop off, I am able to just toss the whole thing into the dumpster.

Plastics are the worst as far as taking up space. Rinse well and crush, this method has almost doubled the space I need for these containers. I also put containers inside containers; like the ones that strawberries come in, this stacking method is another way of making your recycling space that much more efficient. Most grocery stores will recycle your plastics, so we take a bag or box each time we go to the store. I keep the aluminum cans and steel cans separate as those we get paid for, but at different levels, so to reap the full benefit, we keep those in different containers.

Since we began recycling, we have reduced our trash by at least 80%! We used to take a bag out per day, now we take it out once a week. My point is that recycling can be done anywhere with a little bit of research, and don't forget to use what you have, whether it be your own boxes as recycling containers, or a local school that will accept your goods, use it!

Lastly, I would like to suggest if your school does not have a program-start one!!!! This has been a wonderful way for me to stay in touch with my kids, meet new people and business contacts, and has made my kids feel very proud that their Mom is making a big difference in their community.