Deb Stephens

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since Dec 03, 2011
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books chicken dog duck food preservation forest garden goat homestead cooking trees woodworking
Current homesteader, naturalist, artist and writer. Former zookeeper, archaeologist, and pretty much anything that paid the rent.
I live with 1 husband, 1 old goat (besides the husband), 4 cats, 8 dogs, 19 ducks and 43 chickens on a 75 acre homestead in SW Missouri. We have Mark Twain National Forest along our entire eastern border so when not puttering in the garden or dealing with the usual animal and homestead chores, I can generally be found wandering the hills looking at all the trees and flowers Nature has to offer. I love animals, plants, books and solitude (plus a few more things I may get around to remembering eventually). I am rabid about the environment and try very hard to live a simple, green life with the smallest possible footprint. I am a vegetarian and have been for nearly 30 years. If there is anything else you'd like to know, feel free to ask.
SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Recent posts by Deb Stephens

It looks a bit like a mallow to me -- not the common or marshmallow types with their rounded leaves but more like the musk mallow or mallow moshata. The flowers appear to be white though (or very pale pink) which is not characteristic of those species. Still, based on the interior appearance of the flower and that leaf pattern, I think a closer look at some of the mallows may be in order. At least until I come up with a better idea.
6 days ago
I'm ISTJ which, according to the test is only 9% of the population. All of my family is glad that there aren't more people like me, but the blurb about ISTJs doesn't sound half bad.
This is what it says ...

ISTJs make up about 9% of the population

    Honest and direct
    Decisive, efficient, and systematic
    Dedicated and responsible
    Organized and reliable
    Value tradition and stability
    Committed and trustworthy

I suppose some of this is arguable ...
1 week ago

S Bengi wrote:

Thanks! I accidentally left off part of the URL, but I fixed it. The link should work now.
2 weeks ago

Justin Klein wrote:Hi. If you might be interested..send us an email at

I was actually making observations concerning the need to be a bit more clear about what you are looking for so that others here could decide if they were interested or not. As someone who sees the big picture pretty much the same way you do and as much as I would dearly LOVE to take advantage of an opportunity like this, I (and my husband) have our own homestead and all our family of feathered and furred children to care for. It would not really be feasible for us to pull up stakes after 26 years building and caring for this place.
2 weeks ago
This sounds like a great opportunity for the right person, but what exactly makes a person "right"? Maybe it would be helpful if you could give some detail about the sort of person (or persons) you are looking for (besides smart and dynamic, I mean). For example, are you wanting someone fairly young or does age matter if the person or couple is fit and active?  Do you want someone with a degree in say ... environmental science, botany, biology, soil science agriculture, etc. or are passion and life experience enough? What sort of guarantees (or contracts) do you have in mind to protect both parties against disappointments? Is there any sort of financial investment to be made on the part of the "program director" -- for example, who pays his/her way down to Costa Rica (and possibly back again if things don't work out)? Those are just a few things someone might want to know before deciding to contact you. It would be a big leap of faith to pack up and head to another country without some sort of agreement about who is responsible for what and for how long. Take it from someone who has made a lot of mistakes on both sides of this sort of enterprise.
2 weeks ago
Despite having a billion persimmon trees (native kind) all around me, I am far from expert on the diseases and pests associated with them. So ... with that in mind, I refer you to this website. UC Davis Persimmon Diseases & Deficiencies I hope you find answers!
2 weeks ago

Cristo Balete wrote:Isn't it just red cedars that have the growth inhibitor?

This is a perfect example of why taxonomic names are so important. We have Juniperus virginiana (commonly known as eastern red cedar) where we live, but cedars out west may be something completely different -- like western red cedar or even actual CEDAR, not juniper. To avoid confusion, it might be helpful if we knew exactly what the scientific name of Tracy's cedar is before we discuss any more options.
2 weeks ago
We live in SW Missouri where cedars are EVERYWHERE and were once an important industry for pencil making, posts, fence boards and as sheathing for saunas (the latter two products are still pretty important in this area). On our own land, we cleared about 50 acres of them several years back (working with the MO Department of Conservation to re-establish native glades on our property) so we got to see first-hand what sort of changes take place in the landscape from the "before" picture -- with cedars making up maybe 65% of the total shrub/tree cover and then "after" when other species came back in as a result of their eradication. It seemed almost miraculous how fast other species just popped up when the cedars were removed. Honestly, I thought it would take much longer, but by the following spring, after a summer spent cutting them down, we had native grasses and wildflowers everywhere. Apparently, it only requires getting them out of the way for new growth to simply come back on its own. Even tiny trees -- everything from redbuds, dogwoods, and other understory trees to small oaks, hickories and elms came back almost immediately. We even got a surprising flush of things like smoke trees and fringe trees that established so quickly and in such profusion that they became invasive in their turn and needed to be thinned.

Phytotoxins produced by Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) are found in the living "leaves" of the plant rather than in the roots and bark, so when the tree is cut down, my thinking is that those toxins are effectively removed from the system at lightning speed. At least that is the conclusion I have arrived at after 25 years of watching new growth sprout practically overnight where stumps have barely had time to dry out. It may be different in different landscapes (ours is particularly well-drained dolomite/ limestone with almost no soil over it), but that is our experience, for what it's worth.
2 weeks ago

Cristo Balete wrote:I wouldn't recommend hanging 200 pounds of water on a small tree limb, or any limb repeatedly, because I've seen less than that kill a tree limb.  A pint's a pound the world around.   Fat raccoons at maybe 40-50 pounds broke enough of my branches to give me grief.

I would also not recommend water trickling down the trunk of any tree because of the grafting spot where the rootstock is joined to the trunk should not get wet and stay wet, except in winter when growth is slow.  It is vulnerable to rot.  It helps keep that joint dry and healthy by planting that joint facing south (in the northern hemisphere) and it won't be a place where moss and wetness are on the shady side.

I've never used a tree watering bag, so I don't know this for sure, but it looks like the straps are for attaching to the trunk of the tree while the bag sits on the ground at the base. Apparently, the strap merely keeps it in place so it doesn't fall over.  I also assume the holes are in the bottom of the bag rather than all over it. If I am correct, then the trunk would not get wet and there would be no stress on branches to worry about. If I'm wrong, I wouldn't use one.
3 weeks ago

R Scott wrote: I also use it as toothpaste, a good way for me to get it into the kids.

You got my attention with the toothpaste use! Do you use it straight or blend with other ingredients? Also, does it make your teeth (and entire mouth) a beautiful saffron yellow?

Jocelyn, If Paul likes pumpkin pie spices, maybe you should make things that use those spices to mask whatever you want to include turmeric in. It might be hard if you are eliminating all grains, but I was thinking cookies (healthy, low-sugar kinds like energy bars or the like) or pumpkin pie. What about stevia-sweetened pumpkin yogurt with pumpkin pie spices and turmeric?
3 weeks ago