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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

But you know, in a good way. I need to make new batches of both of these soaps… they’re some of my favorites! Ok, ok, they’re all my favorites. But I do really like these two.

Beeswax soap with Wisconsin honey, unrefined beeswax, and bee pollen. Honeycomb and queen bee not included!

Little Grass Skirt… it’s da islands, mon! Lemongrass and pink grapefruit, green and red clays, poppyseeds, tapioca, orange peel, lemon and lime leaves.

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Lets ignore the fact that that’s more eggs we’ve gotten in a day in a looong time. White? All right! Our first pullet egg… our little girls are growing up!

Atta girl! Of course, the california white leghorn was the first. Probably followed by the red star… and someday, we’ll get easter eggs (fingers crossed… blue not pink… blue not pink)…


Is this too tacky? ‘Cause it’s true…


This is the other side of the fence. Chickens? Did someone say… Chickens? Oh boy oh boy oh boy… chickens chickens chickens chickens…


She’s worn a packed dirt track from pacing back and forth to watch them. I throw mulch on it but she kicks it up again. Never gets old… she will literally do this all day if I let her, of course with breaks for meals and naps. Rough life.

All in a dog’s day’s work. And in a woman’s… super spicy salsa! Ball Blue Book jalapeƱo salsa, 1.5x the recipe, plus a half cup of lime juice. The tomatoes are from The Plant, the jalapeƱos are from the Gary Comer Green Youth Farm (thanks, T!) and the onions are from the store. Good enough. And it’s good… but screamin’ hot… yowza!

Ok, time to pack it up here, head to the studio, and make soap! I’ve been scheming on a new recipe for awhile and it’s time to jump in and do it… coming soon… Treehugger! A blend of spruces, pine, a touch of patchouli, tea tree, spice, and other woodsy goodness, speckled with blue spruce needles… still need to tweak the blend but it should be a nice addition to the line! It will be cured and ready by the second open studio… something to look forward to! But first, some glam shots from today’s back porch photo shoot… and there will be more tomorrow!

Coffee Stout!


Oatmeal Cookie!

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This is the sunrise I woke up to yesterday… I shuffled out to the coop with my coffee, to supervise the dog’s chicken surveillance, and was half tempted to get back in bed with a book for a bit… until I looked up. Whoa. Gorgeous! And, with the distant rumblings, a tad ominous. The top of the day’s to-do list was muck out the chicken coop bedding, spread the composted outside stuff on the garden, move the cleaner stuff from in the covered run to outside, and spread fresh straw all around… and if I was going to get that done before a possible downpour, that book would have to wait. This was the sky a few minutes after the first picture:

The dead tree behind the neighbor’s house makes this look like a January shot, not late August, eh? A good reminder to get to work, woman! Three hours later, the coop was fresh and I had a whole ‘barrow full of black magic for the garden, which is finally recovering from the rocky start this year:

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Why, no, I am NOT delicious sauteed with tomatoes, basil and zucchini.

He totally just grew that way. Grin and all.

Oh hey, Mr. SunFlower Face. Hang here often?

Ok. Ok, I fess up (lest I sprout a Cyranno-like schnoz-protuberance of my own). I carved the face. The nose was all nature’s work though. Got any garden oddities of your own to share?

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The night in Wisconsin was much needed. We survived the trip up, man, girl, and too-big dog in the tiny hybrid… no small feat given that the man, while he has grown to begrudgingly love the dog (when she’s being good), is not a “dog person” and Bella of course spent half the trip with her head out the window, and half the trip with her head between the two front seats, panting heavily and occasionally shaking drool sprays on both of us and usually leaning uncomfortably on the man.

Luckily she was mostly tuckered out and it was even hotter on the drive home, so she took a break for some shut-eye:

We made lots of loud noises, and safely practiced our octopus, bear,dinosaur, deer, christmas, and alien assassin skills…

Until the sheriff showed up. Apparently a neighbor was concerned about the 200 or so rounds that were slooowly fired over a couple hours… and wanted to make sure they weren’t overhearing the world’s most tedious murder. We asked if he’d like to go a round… he patted his sidearm and said no thanks. Our only rules besides basic gun safety were, “draw your own target” and “no pictures of people”. A girl was shooting at a picture of a valentine’s heart (after her original smiley face violated the “no people” rule… Ironically, the reverse of the christmas tree target was the beginnings of a bespectacled scientist) when he pulled up, and was literally going to be the last person to take a turn, and had two of her three requested rounds left. I joked about the unheard conversation as the officer spoke to the fellow who had been coaching the girl, as he pulled out his wallet… “yes sir. Here’s my FOID card… aaannnd here’s my Eagle Scout card…”. 5-0 was happy with our safety protocols and log backstop, and the fact that he’d walked into a group of calm, matter-of-fact adults and not the drunk kids he’d perhaps anticipated; he took down the serial of the piece for good measure, and asked if we were planning to shoot off fireworks later too. “Nope, we forgot them. Just a fire, sir.”

In the background, another couple was playing Viking Chess (a yard game involving throwing wooden sticks at wooden blocks, invented by very cold, very bored Scandinavian folk to endure a long winter, no doubt. A slow moving game…). We packed up the makeshift range and dug into the guacamole, lit the wood fire under the enormous grill, and spent the rest of the evening talking, drinking, laughing, splitting wood, and sharing stories and stars and tequila under an almost full moon in an open field.

Thanks Vic for the pic!

Two guys rode the 120 miles up from Chicago on their bikes… one of them then proceeded to grill up ten pounds of skirt steak marinated in high life, and the local burgers and sausages that our host picked up for us. There were hot dogs on sticks basted with pickle juice, topped with local kraut, passed around the circle for communal munching. It was, a good time. This guy from Madison fell off his bike while trail-riding earlier that day before heading over and wrenched his knee pretty good. Luckily for him, he was a veteran with field-medicine skills, and the next day he and a couple other guys fashioned an admirable splint with a broomstick cut in half and some old t-shirts…

Our friend is considering selling the place (10 acres and a house), and the fellow spent an hour or so after everyone else had gone to bed (3-4 am) trying to convince him not to… or at least to have a solid plan for what to do instead… the house needs painting, and always maintenance, and he wants to be free to travel around, WOOFing and bike touring without worrying about it… the fellow thinks I should go spend a year up there working on a book and turning our friend’s place into a semi-working or at least self-sustaining mini farm while he finishes our house here… which on some levels, I must admit, sounds AMAZING. It also seems like giving up somehow, like running away from everything here because it’s hard, and sometimes makes me unhappy. It’s also basically impossible or would be really irresponsible, as I have a really cool job and student loan bills to pay. A fun thing to daydream about, but not really a practical option.

froggies on a loggie


Our friend was in town from Vermont for the weekend, and he and another friend (high school buddies of the fellow) who just moved back here with his wife and baby from Atlanta came over last night. The Atlanta pal and I veiled up and checked on our hives- he was the person who got us to go from “someday we’ll have bees” to “lets get bees this year” last spring. They’re doing well… the Carnolians need a super, so I’ll be ordering frames with this paycheck. The Italians are also doing ok, and will need a super soon… I have new and used boxes and some old frames, but want to use new frames to not risk disease. Cheap insurance all-told. We were headed out to go get Chicago pizza at the request of the VT visitor and chatted for a minute with our neighbor who was just pulling up, with his son in the car… he said a twelve year old boy had just been shot less than three blocks away. As we drove past on our way to dinner, people were still standing on the street corners, watching as firemen hosed the blood off the sidewalk. I think we’ll be spending the 4th at a friend’s backyard in another neighborhood… as I’m sure fireworks won’t be the only things going off around here…

Stay safe, everyone.

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Oh, tomorrow…

It rained today, and that was the good part. Great, actually. We NEED it.

Today was not a good day for the farm. The morning began well enough, for once ahead of schedule on chores, much-needed rain in the forecast, and almost ready to head to work, not late but early! Feeding the chickens, I didn’t notice Goldie and her usual squawking, scolding self, and thought… maybe she’s laying an egg? For once? Because in spite of or because of the oppressive heat yesterday, and the hot-weather indicated Chicken-ade electrolyte boost, we got THREE eggs from the elder matrons in 24 hours, including a hard-shelled one from the mostly-retired and paper-shell layin’ Barred Rock. I opened the coop door to find Goldie sprawled out dead in the nest box; a fly buzzing around her closed eyes. F*ck.
I went inside. Made myself more coffee, wrote about it, called the fellah, who said what I knew he’d say… go get some rubber gloves on, get a trash bag and woman up- you wanted the chickens and you’ve gotta deal with it. Sigh. Ok. I know. I psyche myself up, and finally do the thing, using a broken half-shovel to sort of scoot her limp remains into a trash-bag lined bucket and throw the lid on lickety split. A real farmer would have eaten her months ago, and we were going to… but she was so nice and friendly albeit useless it never made it to the top of our things to-do list. Good meat, gone to waste, and I can’t even bring myself to skin her for the dog. I get ready to head to work and it starts POURING. Which is amazing, because it’s so dry and we really need the rain, but I bike. And I’m not made of sugar and I won’t melt, but heading out in a torrential downpour if you don’t HAVE to is dumb. I do the dishes until it’s just sprinkling, stop at the community garden to plop in some transplants in the empty drought-killed spots in my two raised beds of (free) rock-hard clay muck soil there, ride the 7 miles to work, stopping on the way at the grocery store, which is out of distilled water, which my intern needs to clean the nutrient testing probes at work, and which was the main reason I stopped… luckily she also picked some up on her way in.

So, I’m about to head home when I finally remembered to consult the interwebs about the leaf-curling and burn that’s affecting, oh, almost all of my garden, especially the parts that I heavily top-dressed with *mostly* composted horse manure that I got delivered for a song from some guy on Craigslist. It was eight months old delivered, at least a month ago, but (I thought) just still cookin’… I expected to affirm this, and be told yep, just hold your horses (manure) and everything will be fine. Instead I find this…

It’s not that that compost wasn’t done… just that the pasture that the hay those horses were eating in the stable where they craigslist dude picked up his free manure that he composted to sell to unsuspecting “organic” gardeners was probably sprayed with a persistent herbicide to kill broadleaf weeds. Could take months or years to break down- a season or three if we mix good soil in with it, up to 5 years if it just sits in a manure pile as is. Dow chemical, you are F*CKERS. F*cking f*cker f*cks.

Honey, can we move to the country? Where we can raise our own good clean manure from good clean pastures? Sigh. Cue “when I was a kid” speech: we got rid of thistles with a pair of post hole diggers and leather gloves and old-fashioned hard work, not by spraying toxic-tomato-killing persistent nasties. That’s what farm kids are for- we didn’t get grounded, just had to dig holes in the ground instead. Builds character.

My tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and anything planted straight into this stuff or a 50/50 or so blend of it looks like this… and some stuff that was only top-dressed does too. Fiddlehead fern-burn city. Luckily I didn’t put much around our lettuce, which is doing fine except that it’s all bolting in this insane heat-wave. I feel better now that it was probably bioterrorism, and not poor husbandry on my part that murdered so many of my seedlings and sowed crops (including ALL my leeks) this year… but only a tiny bit better. Mostly bitter.
http://mr-tomato-king.blogspot.com/2010/06/contaminated-manure-and-compost.html
http://www.growyourown.info/page164.html

I particularly like their own advice to worried British gardeners who had this happen to them via contaminated bagged compost from the store:

http://www.dowagro.com/uk/grass_bites/faq/allotment.htm

“The data shows that using worst case assumptions the residues would not cause concern and while the product is not authorized by UK regulators for use on food crops, these crops can be eaten.” Thanks, Dow. That makes me feel SOOO much better. I like, totally trust you, man.

“Crops known to be sensitive to picloram, clopyralid, or aminopyralid:
Beans, Carrots, Compositae family
, Cotton, Dahlias, Eggplant, Flowers, in general, Grapes, Legumes
, Lettuce, Marigolds, Mushrooms, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes
, Roses, some types, Spinach*, Sugar beets*,Strawberries*, Sunflowers, Tobacco
, Tomatoes, Umbelliferae family, Vegetables, in general

Up until that last one, I thought… at least I can grow corn? That’s grass, right? Because what the world needs now, is more corn. I want to f*cking murder the chemist who came up with this s*it.

On the up or down side, the folks who stole the last yard or two of unspread compost in the side lot it turns out did me a favor, and karma really is a PITA.

No more cheap dirt for me. Would have been better off taking my chances with the lead that is probably in our actual soil.

Oh yeah, here’s that egg-head. Cute, huh.

I’m going home to pack for a night away, and not a moment too soon. We’re headed up to our buddies place in Wisconsin tomorrow, along with a dozen or so city-folk friends, for some much needed woods-walkin’, 22-target shootin’, beer-drinkin’, bonfire, cookout, grillin’ and other serious chowin’, rompin’ doggies fun-time campout…in that order. Thank Gaia, I need it. Catch you kids next week…
Some snaps from our last trip up to WI in the fall when the creek was a’froze…


standing on ice as clear as glass

there be a critter under that ice!

here be the critter, under the ice… some sort of larval nymph thing that was crawling upside down in the unfrozen water clinging to the ice. Really. Nature, you kraaay.

a very fancy tandem. Some of my not-so-fancy friends. Thats a complement.

These were the best sausages EVER.

That’s why there are two pictures.


I can’t wait to get back there.

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That ameraucana in front has attitude. Atta girl!

Happy Easter everyone! We just picked up our first chicks- two Ameraucanas (Easter Eggers… how fitting!), a Golden Laced Wyandotte, a California White Leghorn (will be white with black polka dots and lay large white eggs like a mo-fo), and a Red Star… ditto like the Leghorn but brown eggs. Should give us a nice balance between beautiful birds and fancy-pants eggs, and feed conversion and consistent laying. They’re living in a rubbermaid tote repurposed as a brooder on top of our bathtub… the only room with a door for dog-excluding and heat-retention. You can hear their tiny “peeppeeppeep”‘s through the closed door- super cute, and probably dog torture as her crate is in the kitchen… but she’s got to get over her chicken obsession one way or another…

Ok, a fish fry awaits at a friend’s house… time to wrap things up here!

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