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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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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Party With No Trash...Okay Maybe Just a Little!

I woke up this morning feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  My biggest commitments for the summer are already over, and it feels wonderful!!!!  My sons graduated on Sunday and boy did we have a humdinger (does anyone still use that word?  And if not, they sure should, it's a good one-ha!) of a party!

We also had a baseball game yesterday that was a big deal as my daughter and the choir that she is in sang the National Anthem for the Colorado Rockies; and they showed the town how that song is sang!  I was so very proud.  The group of fourth and fifth graders walked onto the field with a march in their step, took their  places in the choir and belted out our National tune like any professional group could do....even my Grads were impressed!  And that my friends is pert near impossible to do these days, let me tell you.

But back to the party with no trash; really it can be done; with a bit of preparation (and a bit of yucky digging afterward, I must admit).  Now, if you have been a reader of mine, on either of these blogs, you know that I am not at all familiar with paper products.  I do not buy plastic bags or paper plates or even paper napkins; my one downfall is paper towels and I do buy those very infrequently in bulk.  So the paper product aisle itself was a bit overwhelming to me.
So, I headed straight to the party stuff.  I knew I didn't want any "crap".  You know what I'm talking about the kind of forks that break when you first put them into a bite of potato salad?  Or the plate that dumps everything on the unsuspecting kid?  Yeah, I wasn't having any of that.  Party stuff it was, and blue and black to match the boys' colors, easy enough.  From there, it is simply a case of turning the products over and making sure they are recyclable, if not, put it back.  There are plenty of choices out there people, we do not have to fill up our landfills.

Okay now we are at the party and of course we have not gotten the trash cans and the recycle cans marked like I wanted.  Actually there was a huge misunderstanding and we thought the neighbor was bringing some last minute supplies (like the grill, trash cans and bags) so we didn't have them to mark....but anyway; my point is is that it doesn't even matter if it all gets mixed up.  I was able to nonchalantly grab the plates out of the trash as I was going by and put them into a different bag.

This all may sound a bit yucky, but to me it was well worth it.  I had purchased cans for the kids to drink; we had recyclable cups for the keg (I even grabbed out a lot of the food trash for the chickens-ha!).....So let's run down what all was in my trash can when this party for about 75 people was over.  Bags for ice, bags for buns, plastic silverware (and damn did I try and find some that is recyclable, I will try harder next time!) and napkins; that is about it.  That is one small bag of trash for a very LARGE party.  Now, we have two HUGE bags of recyclabes, but that is okay.

We had a wonderful party to help send the boys off right; we won't be filling up the landfills and polluting my beloved Mother Earth in the process and I am done with my major commitments for the summer.  Now it is time to get to work on those campgrounds....keep those campers from burning down our forests and enjoy the time with my children.  Wow, I truly am a very blessed woman.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rhubarb, tomatoes, and random thoughts

Rhubarb! I have rhubarb! In fact, I spent time last night looking through my new go-to books for canning, wondering if I could can some of this bountiful harvest. Since it was too cold to plant tomatoes until very recently, I focused on rhubarb.

I did find a recipe that looks a lot like the stewed rhubarb I made for supper tonight. It was like applesauce, but with rhubarb instead of apples. Make sense? I found one and thought Yeah! Canning commences! And then realized I will need eleven pounds of rhubarb to fill seven quart cans. Yes, I said 11 lb. of rhubarb! Well, if I harvest and freeze this week and do the same next week, I'll have all eleven before I know it. Yum.

The tomato seedlings are in the ground now! I tallied up the tomatoes and put the supports in place as a planning maneuver. All right, I also did it because I wanted to get in the garden and it was too darn cold to plant! Only a few green sprouts dared poke their little heads out from the soil, and they're all spinach. Yep. I will have a minimum of 13 tomato plants, even if those I started from seed do not make it (darn late blizzard) and at least 5 peppers. The pepper plants are coming up better from seed, and if they survive, I'll have nine pepper plants. Salsa time!

I'm experimenting with various new dishes, and right now rhubarb is my theme ingredient. Part of the locavore menu involves eating what's ripe and in season. By the time it's our of season, we'll be tired of it and ready to move on to something else. About the time my family rebels and shouts out "No More Rhubarb, Mom!" strawberries will be coming into their prime. Then I can mix strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry-rhubarb crisp, strawberry-rhubarb dump cake -- bwahahahaha! Just kidding, family. I'll be more creative than that. Maybe.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we helped another family rescue five bunnies last Monday night. I think that's a sign that I'm feeling a little more energetic; I went with daughter to help out, even though it was getting late.

I could share a picture of the garden plot, but it would be rather dull. It's exciting only to me. Soil, compost, remains from last year because I'm going no-till this time, and a few red spiral posts standing sentry over small tomato plants.

But trust me. I'll overwhelm you with garden pictures eventually - hopefully sooner rather than later.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekend To-Do List

The weekend's to-do list:

Buy plants from arboretum plant sale. Check.
-heirloom plants, tomatoes and peppers

Remove weeds from garden plot.
-the soil we bought last year (for the new raised bed) was weed-filled. I'm still fighting some of the more prolific weeds. Growl.

Set up rain barrels. Check.
-Husband was a great help. I had one set up already, and he felt obligated to catch up with me by setting up the other.

Make grid to guide planting.
-This takes time, but it's worthwhile. I'll have my tomatoes and peppers spaced well with room to grow, but not too much room for weeds.

Plant tomatoes and peppers.
-Fun! I add extra drainage by digging the holes a little deeper than needed and filling them with shredded paper before I put in the tomato seedlings.

Put in the tomato supports.
-I like my spiral supports from Fleet Farm. I'll post pictures later, I'm sure.

The Milwaukee Brewers were playing well Sunday afternoon, though. It was a little distracting. Must enjoy those home runs while they're happening! Go, True Blue Brew Crew!

The tomatoes can go in tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sorta Square Foot Gardening

I garden the way I teach and the way I cook; I don't always follow the script exactly.

In Square Foot Gardening, it's only right if the garden has a permanent grid and uses the perfect mix of soil. Well, I applied some of the philosophy. I rarely plant in rows; I usually plant in groups, often squares, to use the space more efficiently and choke out weeds whenever possible.

My soil, however, is the basic backyard garden soil with twelve years of compost mixed into the ground. It's not a perfectly lovely store bought mix, but it drains well and grows lots of vegetables. I don't use a permanent grid, either. I like the concept, and I measure (well, I estimate) when I'm planting, but I don't build a grid. I use temporary guidelines of masking tape or in this case, string. Again, not perfect, but it gave me the guide I needed to plant seeds in the right portions and the right places.

The walkway is an old board. I'm not even sure what it was anymore. Fence? Deck? Now it provides a boardwalk so I can stay out of the mud and avoid stepping on my precious plants.

This, my friends, is the before picture. In a month or two I'll post a during shot - if I remember. The after picture, the one with results, might not happen. Hopefully, I'll be too busy harvesting and preserving the goodies!