Donna Kolaetis

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since Apr 07, 2016
Grew up in NJ, lived in the Midwest a while, now on a mountain in PA.  Garden, keep chickens, goats, cats, and a semi-feral man.  Adding fruit and nut trees, dream of rice paddies and ducks. 
South-central PA
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Recent posts by Donna Kolaetis

I have always enjoyed mending and darning my clothes and fabric items.  I also find myself hemming things fairly often, as I am only just over 5 feet tall.  To make the hemming more fun, I sometimes use a bright contrasting color of thread, or add a bit of fabric if I have it handy.  All of my sewing is by hand, because I enjoy the pace of that better, and find using machines to be stressful.   Setting up the machines seem so fiddly to me, and While sewing I can make big mistakes very quickly!  Maybe someday I will get brave and take some lessons and learn to use the sewing machine properly.  
I get most all of my clothing used, either from thrift shops or "hippie Christmas"-- bulk trash week, especially in college towns when the leases all change.  A few years ago, when helping with a weekend retreat for teenagers, I offered a workshop on creative salvaging of favorite clothes( simultaneous with other activities).  Several teens had great fun reworking their jeans with wild and luxurious fabrics peeking through from behind the worn through holes.
A few years before that, I had repaired a pair of jeans by covering a few small holes with some little shapes I had crocheted with waste embroidery floss. I added some features to make them look like a two-inch tall cat and teeny mouse.  I even included some whiskers from clear nylon thread.  This is purely play here, not a practical use of my time at all.  The boy whom I babysat around that time,was maybe 4 or 5 years old.  I remember the first time that I wore those jeans to his house, and he leaned in close and petted the cat's whiskers, and he was so delighted.  I was, too.  I'd include a picture, but those jeans are long since fallen from use and probably in a box with other fabric for reuse, maybe as a rug, or who knows what.  
I'm glad to know that others are repairing and repurposing fabrics and such.
4 years ago
Prickly lettuce( which I call wild lettuce) oozes a milky sap, much more readily than dandelion ( although dandy does have some as well). My goats also love it.  The prickles do get worse - stiffer, less forgiving- as the plant matures/ the season gets drier. It occurs to me that I don't actually know which is causing the change.  I try to get it all picked and fed to the goats by the time it goes to seed.
4 years ago
I am familiar with "the Alexander Technique", and like it very much. And I am not just saying that because my shoulder is complaining about something I did to it when clearing brush on Saturday! I would like to help you complete your training, but alas, we live easily 8 or 9 hours from you. We are not true permaculturists, but trying to homestead nonetheless. I think that those of us who work with land and animals and plants could definitely benefit from attentiveness to body mechanics and good care of the body as we use it. Thank you for doing this important work and sharing.
4 years ago
Hello, Frank. Sounds like you are in a tight spot, no doubt. But not impossible. You don't get to 50+ years with no skills. Give yourself some credit. For example, if trees that you planted are big enough to make shade, you have had success in planting and growing trees. Some of us, even on following all the instructions, still seem to be as good at killing trees as growing them.
You didn't say whether your cut in pay also came with a cut in hours. I have often been under-employed, and find that there are many things that take more time than money, so you may be able to cut expenses. Also, can part or all of your property be rented out? I would think that being near a metro area, there would be someone who wants some space and can pay, maybe enough to cover your taxes? Are you close enough to the cities for a market garden? Is it possible for the property to be subdivided and part sold? I realize that will bring on other expenses, like getting a perc test to prove a parcel's salability, and having it redeeded. Just trying to brainstorm ideas for how you might manage through this rough patch.
I know about feeling inadequate and out of step with others. I also know about feeling desperate and hopeless. A depression support group was very valuable for getting me through those times. You can survive this. Good luck.
4 years ago

Lucy Gabzdyl wrote:I grew sunchokes for the first time this year - Red Fuseau - I'm in Zone 10B in southern Spain and I had huge problems with powdery mildew so I had to cut down the plants very early and as a result have not had a very good yield. Has anyone else had PM problems?

Hi, Lucy. My parents grew sun chokes for years, and sometimes they did get quite a bit of PM on the leaves. They were often pretty crowded ( thinning was never Dad's strong suit), which of course probably contributed. But in the autumn, we just went ahead and dug the tubers up anyway, and always had plenty. They weren't grown near anything which we were worried about sharing the PM, so just didn't worry too much about it. I don't know what to do to limit it, but I suppose that I may get more experience soon, as I am planting some sun chokes here at my place this year, and here we do have a tendency for PM on curcurbit crops. I will let you know how it goes. Did you cut down your sunchoke plants to avoid the PM spreading to other crops? Is there a space on your land that is far enough from other PM susceptible crops that you can afford to just let them finish out the season, even with the PM on their leaves?

4 years ago