Lindsey Jane

pollinator
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since Jun 16, 2016
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duck books chicken food preservation cooking wood heat
Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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Recent posts by Lindsey Jane

We have muscovies and this year I learned some valuable lessons about them in the garden.

1) They will eat young sprouts of things green - meaning snap peas, mustard, beans, etc. They pluck them right out of the ground. They especially loved my corn starts and I had to replant them 3 times before I just put a fence around them.
2) They stayed away from tomatoes, all squash, vining beans, nasturtiums and marigolds and didn't bother with my asparagus or rhubarb plants. I don't know why!
3) They went berserker for the kale.
4) We have 7 foot tall fences around the garden which didn't bother the females at all - they soared right over the top like it was nothing. The boy is too heavy and doesn't fly really at all. So he was just left looking forlorn.
5) The poop DOES splash and so all salad greens or things you would eat raw shouldn't be around them. Not only for the parasitic, potential illness, yuck factor. But because, as I said above, they eat the green tasties.
6) I did notice a decrease in the sow bug and earwig population, but a major increase in the aphid population, especially around the kale and brassicas. I have no idea if those 2 things are related. I'm inclined to think they are.

So overall? The hassle far outweighed the benefit. I will be clipping wings now and relegating them to their own section with their pond and not getting any more muscovies. I like them, and will dote on the babies we have, but won't be adding in the long run. In years past, I allowed my love for them to overshadow the real hardship of putting them in my garden. So I think the best place for them, at least on our farm, is AROUND the gardens and in the orchard - where they can eat all the crunchy bugs and slugs they want while leaving my low to the ground food crops alone.
2 weeks ago
Well. I feel a whole lot better.
We just harvested a pretty underwhelming potato crop this year. I tried one new method and one old method and the old method was...fine, I guess,  and the new method not so great, with the amount of small, hard potatoes dominating the boxes.
The old method is - add manure to the soil (horse, cow, rabbit) from late summer until Chrismas. Let is sit. Till it in. Plant potatoes. Cover with a foot of dry straw. Sit back and do nothing. This mostly worked in our established beds, but I got a bigger percentage of smaller, harder potatoes than previous years.
The new method was to spread about 6 inches of compost on a grassy area that I weed whacked down, plant potatoes, cover with a foot of straw and sit back and do nothing. This was even worse, with lot's of small, hard potatoes (like those little boutique bags at the grocery store). So color me fancy with all these eeny wheeny potatoes, but what a pain to harvest!!
We had a wet, long, cold spring followed by cooler and dryer summer culminating in somewhat warm but dry start to fall, so I don't know. Climate Change means every year is a new adventure - a box of chocolates, as it were. (Although recently it seems like all the chocolate are coconut filled and half eaten by some other family member and then put back in the box.)
Next year, because there is always a next year for us ever optimistic gardeners, I'm going to still use the new method for areas I want to clear for beds. Small potatoes are great in stew, and I get a new gardening bed out of it, so everyone wins. It still the easiest way I have found to clear big patches for new beds.
I also saw no noticeable difference using stored seed potatoes from my stash and store bought new seed. And my purple potatoes from saved seed did better than everyone else - which was delightful! They are my favorite.
2 weeks ago
I wear a necklace every day that has my daughter's birth constellation engraved on it in a little disc (She is a pisces). If I forget to put it on, I feel horribly disconnected from her. I know it's all in my head, but there you go. What can I say. Put it on when she was 3 months old and every day thereafter. When I die, after my body is composted, I told my Husband to throw the remains in a hole, put the necklace in there with them and plant a blueberry on top of me.
1 month ago
Yes! We got one of these this year, too. I had an old honeywell swamp cooler that was my mother's and it worked...okay. We got this and plugged it in and the first thing I said after it was running for about an hour was "this thing is a BEAST."
We love it.
I like what you said about using it in low humidity areas - that seems to be the trick. We positioned it in front of an open window and opened windows on the other side of the room and it creates this draft effect.
Our house is 1700 sf and our great room (kitchen, dining, living) is about 800 sq with 12 foot ceilings. This thing cools the great room really well. I can feel it in the kitchen, sitting at the dinner table and at the couch.
Best thing we have bought in the last 6 months, hands down.
2 months ago
What is this?

It is growing lustrously in morning sun, afternoon shade, in a gravelly, dirty area that once had a shed on top of it. I whacked it back 2 times this year before I forgot about it and then when it started growing again, I just fell in love with it. Plant ID app has been no help. It tells me it's clover. But it's almost 6 feet tall now and 4 feet across and is growing little nubbins on the end that will be....flowers? Nothing? I'm stumped.

Maritime northwest, close to the salish sea, cool and cloudy and rainy for most of the year.
4 months ago
Word.
I read through this thread and felt a heaviness lift in me.
The things that I have gotten wrong in setting up our farm have far outpaced the successes, but now in year four I feel like it's starting to balance. This year I only had 5 new fruit trees not break dormancy. I guess that'll teach me not to buy cheap trees! Put one more lesson in the books for Lindsey... I can't tell you how nice it is to hear other people feeling as downright defeated as I have felt. I don't want any of us to be in pain, but it makes me feel a lot less like a loser in permaculture if I know other people are standing on their land and feeling that same sinking loss and abject frustration that I have felt. Cyber hugs, all around. Virtual beer is ON ME.  
I am also a Therapist (as my side job - hee hee hee) and I have been actively working these last 6 months to institute a change in how I see things. I use this a lot with my amazing clients and we have some good success with it. We humans live with some pretty damaging universal truths. There are many! But there are two universal truths that I think about a lot. 1) We tend to focus on what we don't want and 2) what we focus on becomes bigger.
So. Taking that into consideration, I have decided this year that I will pay extra attention to the things that are growing well and pay a little less attention to the things that aren't growing so well (I'm looking straight at you, peach trees.) I'm choosing to pay attention to what I DO want, and create space for those things to become bigger in my mind. So far, it has helped me feel a bit more balanced and help ease the considerable self-criticism that can take hold when things don't work well. I have even gone so far as to name certain trees and stuff on the farm to help me pay attention to them - I greet them every morning and tuck them in at night when I put the animals to bed. Just little tricks of the mind that can have a big impact. And when I'm starting to feel very upset with the whole thing - cue the eagle attacks that have taken 3 ducks from me in the last 6 months - I go out on my land and walk around listing at least 5 things that are going well and that I'm proud of. (An old therapist trick but super effective. It takes 5 positives to outweigh one negative. Try it sometime. Game changer.)
Oh, and I wrap our young tree trunks in friggin' tin foil to save them from the varmints.
Be well, group. We are all doing good work. Even when we feel like we aren't.
4 months ago
I have been a soap maker for 10 years, and have decided on a recipe that gives us a nice hard bar, with less expensive ingredients, using the most sustainable products we can find while also be soft on the skin. We do not use my soap for shampoo - just body washing. I also make facial bars with this recipe.

25% coconut oil (sustainably produced, but who can really know for sure.)
50% olive oil (we use extra virgin, but you can use pomace oil, too and in some ways, I like pomace better - I just hate ordering things online and can't source it locally.)
20% clarified lard (from pigs our friends raise every year)
5% castor oil

Because of the high olive oil percentage, these bars have to cure for about 8 weeks before use - the higher the olive oil, the longer cure time. Although in the end, it produces a much harder and long lasting bar. From this base, I can use hydrosols for the liquid, any and all herbal ingredients (added at trace), essential oils and/or clays (like kaolin - good for facial bars).

We superfat at 5% and find that it creates a bar that is really sudsy (thank you lard and coconut oil) while also creating a firm and proliferate lather (the olive and castor oil).

Sometimes I use more lard and less coconut oil - and just change the lye/water amount using the lye calculator on Brambleberry.com

I use to go all fancy (think apricot and avocado oils, etc) but it meant much more buying online and getting shipments to the house and waiting. And the cost was much higher. Plus, I cook with 3 of the ingredients, so I always have them on hand and a bottle of castor oil lasts forever. I have found that no oil is completely without it's problems - from mislabeling to companies just straight up lying about how they harvest product to being shuttled halfway around the world, burning through layers of fossil fuels to get here.  I settled on the lesser of the evils when it comes to oil and went from there.

Anywho - whatever chance I have to talk soap, I'm on it, even though this post is old!
4 months ago
I'm on board with what everyone else has said! Such great minds. How much do I love the "blame it on the insurance guy" comment. Solid gold. I gotta remember to use that next time my kid asks for a trampoline.
When we moved to our farm, we apparently bought the house that was everyone's "hangout" - read: the place they come to burn things, drink beer, watch football in the shop and sled down the steep hill on our front pasture. The first year we were there, it snowed (of course) and the neighbors showed up at 8:00am with their sleds without asking and started sledding. This after repeated pop in's and hints about wanting to continue having bonfires on our property. I had always brushed them back and gently, with a smile, rebuffed their advances. I am from suburbia and I moved to the country to have no more pop ins, and some peace and quiet!
Here's how I handled the sledding:
I went outside in my pjs and told them to leave. With a smile. I also put it back on them - I remember telling the mom that I didn't understand why she thought it was okay to take her children to a house with strangers in it on a rural acreage. We could be murderers. What were they thinking? *smile*
There were other little incidences after that - some of the male neighbors coming to the property and walking around in my pasture without asking. I did the same thing. I went out there and asked them to leave. I said it with a smile - something like "gosh, boys. You know you have to ask before coming onto my property. Don't do it again. Now you run along and be sure to call next time to see if you can come over. " And showing them the way out. The whole time just smiling and behaving as if they should know better. Because, you know what? They should. I like to start from "yes" - meaning, I like to believe that people will ultimately do the right thing, but sometimes lack the understanding or knowledge of what the right thing is for another person. My job is to educate them, with lot's of respect and a general love for people. I like to start there and if they push more, then I unleash the kraken.
My mantra has been the Iron Marshmallow. Nice and kind and absolutely unyielding. It has worked so far. The point is to be direct and instruct them on my rules and do it with manners. Now they all leave us alone and we leave them alone. I also have released any and all interest in what they think of me. And every time I see them, I smile and wave and ask how they are doing! I don't want to be rude, but I want my boundaries respected.
(Once I started building hugel beds I think they all thought I was nutso anyways and now they keep a wide berth.)
4 months ago
I have not posted a reply to all of these great ideas!  I wanted to check back in with people to let them know what I have (sort of) settled on.
But first - a word of humble thanks to everyone who replied to my question. I so deeply value the input of the kind and knowledgeable people on this forum. Truly, a high caliber bunch.
A note about why I want to build a root cellar:
We are currently growing food on several integrated landscapes that cover about 2 acres. These include raised beds, an orchard and a row garden and then a big ole food forest. We grow LOT'S of root crops - carrots, potatoes, etc. We also brew a lot of stuff - cider, wine, etc. And the sauerkraut goes for days. We have lot's of preserves and canned fruit going into the winter. It's possible I go a bit overboard on the applesauce. Our house just gets way to warm in the winter with our hyper efficient wood stove, so even the coldest room stays about 65 degrees all winter. And it's super dry. Again - the wonders of wood heat. Not great for any other the stuff I preserve and sinking trash cans  (how much do I LOVE this idea!!) just wasn't enough space for what we needed. Although I gotta say, I love the simplicity of that idea so much.
We also have no basement.
And our house in on a hill.
Carved out of rocks and sand.
So I have  decided on placing the root cellar in a little ravine on the north side of our garage. It will resemble more of the wofati design - half underground and not buried too deeply.
We have no cedar on our land - only soft wood. So the cellar is going to be concrete block with a moisture barrier and slanted roof for runoff down the slope to the left side of the cellar. Because there won't be a ton of excavating, and I wasn't too keen on the earth bag design knowing our wet and wild climate, I decided to go with good old fashioned concrete. With a pounded gravel floor reinforced underneath with hardware cloth to keep the vermin out. It will be circular with racks built into the inside floor to ceiling.
We have friends who live entirely off grid down by the coast and they have a similar design, carved lightly into the side of their north facing hill and it has worked great for them. I'm not super jazzed about using concrete blocks (bc of the cost mostly) and if I can get my hands on some cedar logs, I may change my mind to a log based wofati design (I am so partial to how they look, how simple they are to construct and how the naturally work well).
Anyhow, that's where I'm at currently. If the end of the world doesn't speed up, I should be installing the cellar this summer. Photos to follow.

5 months ago
I'm a coffee grinder person to make the powders.
First I take raw garlic, pulse it in my food processor until it is a slurry, then spread on dehydrator mats that I only use for garlic and onions and dehydrate - then whir them in my designated coffee grinder. I always buy the grinders at Goodwill for a couple of bucks. This method has gotten me a good powdery situation with garlic.
Oh, and I dehydrate the garlic outside in our greenhouse because DANG it's pungent.
I also use coffee grinders to do our powdered herbs and also I have one for salt that I grind up extra fine to use on popcorn. I think I've got 3 now to use for all the things.
5 months ago