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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 27, 2009

Is this the guy that's been digging holes in my front yard? Looks like he also likes the birdfeeder!

Is this the guy that's been digging holes in my front yard? Looks like he also likes the birdfeeder!

Diggin’ around

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 23, 2009

It’s the first real, sunny, gorgeous day of the year so far and I’ve been out in the gardens, watering and weeding. Seems we have a bumper crop of weeds this year, so I may have to get out a hoe rather than try to pick ‘em all by hand.

Just had to share, though. I came home from work the other day and saw that some digging had been going on in the front yard, but not by me or Tom. SOMEONE had been trying to hide a peanut and must have left abruptly, as the peanut was still lying by the hole, next to a wee mound of dirt. Hee hee…

Poor little guy never got to finish his job. The next day there were more holes around this one, but for some reason our little beastie (most likely a squirrel) never did finish burying this one.

Poor little guy never got to finish his job. The next day there were more holes around this one, but for some reason our little beastie (most likely a squirrel) never did finish burying this one.

Jane Kirkpatrick

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 3, 2009

Further to my decision of yesterday, I did a search on Amazon.com to see if there are any other Kirkpatrick writers of note. There are many. But a happy coincidence I discovered was a lady named Jane Kirkpatrick who lives in Oregon. She has written a number of books that seem to be on many of the same themes I enjoy exploring – homesteading, community and spirit.

Of particular interest to me in my “urban homesteading” phase is her book called Homestead: Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility. The Amazon review says, “Joining her husband in the fight to create a home out of a rugged stretch of sagebrush, rattlesnakes, and sand in eastern Oregon, Jane Kirkpatrick uneasily relinquishes the security of a professional career; the convenience of electricity, running water, and a phone line; and, perhaps most daunting, the pleasures of sporting a professional manicure. But the pull of the land is irresistible, and they dream of gathering their first harvest from a yet-to-be-planted vineyard.”

Looks interesting! I think I’ll have to order this and have myself a good read!

Waiting for spring

Posted by Dawn-Ann on April 5, 2009

This brave little guy and his brother are just fresh out from under the snow. They look a little bedraggled, don't they? I don't recall ever seeing pansies bloom this early.

This brave little guy and his brother are just fresh out from under the snow. They look a little bedraggled, don't they? I don't recall ever seeing pansies bloom this early.

Spring is gathering steam here in Calgary. The mounds of snow we received this year are slowly starting to recede and the sun is getting warmer and higher in the sky.

I got excited and went out in the back yard to see what’s up back there. Look what I found!

The costs of eating meat

Posted by Dawn-Ann on April 4, 2009

Shishkebabs grilling at a family BBQ last summer. MMMmmm... Can't wait!

Shishkebabs grilling at a family BBQ last summer. MMMmmm... Can't wait!

Okay, let me say at the outset that I will probably never become a vegetarian. I love seafood too much, juicy chicken breasts occasionally, and I absolutely HAVE to have red meat (often in the form of an A&W Teenburger) now and then.

But we have cut down on our meat consumption here at the Turner/Kirkpatrick household. We do a “meatless” meal fairly regularly, but with no real intent for a pattern. After reading the following article by Kathy Freston, I think maybe it’s time we consciously strive for one or two meatless meals a week.

Did you know that if everyone in the U.S. went vegetarian for just one day it would free up 70 million gallons of gasoline – enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined? Skipping one chicken meal per week would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as much as taking half a million cars off U.S. roads! Incredible, isn’t it?

Read the rest of Kathy’s article here.

Spoiled

Posted by Dawn-Ann on March 13, 2009

This excellent article definitely fits into the Urban Homesteading category. It debates the pros and cons of so-called organic foods and the “local diet” concept, which may actually be leaving a bigger carbon footprint than we believe. Now, this is hard for me to admit, being a bit of a free-spirited, Birkenstock-wearing organics buyer myself, but I also enjoy an interesting debate.

According to Paul Roberts, “a pound of conventional grain-fed beef requires nearly a gallon of fuel and 5,169 gallons of water.” Maybe we’d do more good for the world we live in by cutting back on meat, even if it’s just a meatless meal once a week. All the more reason to grow your own foods, too. Read Spoiled: Organic and Local is SO 2008 here.

And while you’re reading, check out this neat website: Your Backyard Farmer.

Promises of spring

Posted by Dawn-Ann on February 1, 2009

Although winters in Canada are characteristically long, here in Calgary we have milder ones than most other areas besides the left coast.  Still, it’s nice to see the first hints of spring appearing, even though we likely have several more weeks of cold.

This morning my heart was warmed by the sight of a flock of little sparrows playing and scavenging for food in the back yard. While it’s true sparrows don’t go anywhere in the winter, you rarely see them all flocked together like this in the dead of winter, so I was tickled.

Little sparrows on the back walk

Little sparrows on the back walk

Free energy

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 14, 2008

A friend of mine wrote an interesting blog post about an exciting new technological trend of the future – electricity.  Free (or nearly free) electricity, that is.  I’ve read and thought about the endless possibilities before, but today I realized that not everyone has awakened to this concept.  So let me elaborate.

I believe free energy is going to be what levels the playing field for us all.

Imagine if we had no more electricity or gas bills. Ever. I don’t know what you’re paying, but that’d be an extra $400 per month for me.  Four hundred dollars that I could do other, more worthwhile things with. Why, that’s $4800 per year!  I could get that laser eye surgery I’ve been thinking about.  I could pay off my credit card.  I could give more to my favourite charities – you name it.

And for folks in developing countries – imagine.  If they could cook a meal without having to breathe toxic fumes from burning cow dung; or could stay up past dark to read or study; or power a water pump or power tools or whatever… Don’t you think THAT would change the future for millions of people in Africa and India and South America?  The possibilities are endless.

Most folks haven’t caught on to this yet, but here is one innovative company that is on the cutting edge.  I have been watching these guys for a couple of years now (mostly wishing they would HURRY UP and bring their product to market).  They have invented a remarkable generator that runs perpetually, using the natural attraction/repulsion of magnets.  They’re called Lutec and as soon as they start selling, I plan to be one of their first buyers.  I’ll pop one of these babies into our garage, hook it up, and the rest will be history.

Hubby will be relieved when I quit nagging about leaving the lights on…

Fall colours

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 1, 2008

Today's gorgeous blue sky

Today's gorgeous blue sky

It’s fall here in Calgary, but oh what a glorious one! It’s a balmy, sunny 16 degrees celsius (60F) today and I was amazed to find I still have pansies and honeysuckle blooming in my flowerbeds! Here are a few pictures I took today.

Optimistic pansies

Optimistic pansies

Waiting for winter

Waiting for winter

Adding to your soil

Posted by Dawn-Ann on October 14, 2008

So, besides compost, what can you do to add nutrients to your soil without using toxic commercial fertilizers?  I started thinking about this when my very first crop of zucchinis started rotting on the tips.  I looked it up on the Internet and learned that “blossom end rot” was caused by insufficient calcium in the soil.  So you know what I did?  I crushed up a bunch of egg shells and sprinkled them around under my zucchini plants.  Voila!  It worked – and it worked FAST.  Almost immediately my zucchinis started perking up and I’ve never had blossom end rot since.

So I’ve started adding the occasional thing to my garden bed instead of (or in addition to) the compost, working it directly into the soil.  Besides the egg shells, we’ve tried peanut shells (they do NOT break down – years later we still have whole and intact peanut shells showing up all over the place), leftover veggies, last season’s carrot tops, and various other things.

From Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living, here is an interesting safe fertilization method, which the contributor says works best if you add in the spring, working it into your soil:

“Each 100 square feet needs a cup of ground-up alfalfa (smashed rabbit pellets will do), 2 lb. bonemeal, 10 lb. rock phosphate, 25 lb. greensand, 2 lb. granit dust, and 10 lb. wood ashes.  If none of these are available, just add a commercial fertilizer and/or compost.  The garden needs 3 inches or more of compost each year.  That’s why serious gardeners also have rabbits or goats.  Compost has been called ‘black gold’: well worth digging for!”

Carla’s book also speaks of using coffee grounds in your garden to prevent cutworms, and earthworms love them!  I’d want to be careful to use organic coffee grounds, though, as regular ones may be adding harmful pesticides to your soil.  I dunno – better safe than sorry, though I know there’s a point where you can take your caution a little too far.  Does the good of having fertile soil outweigh the risk of some stray chemicals?  But I digress…

I have also heard of compost tea, which I’ve been meaning to try for some time.  Wikipedia says it is made by “steeping compost in water for a variable period up to 5-days, then applying the liquid un-diluted as a spray to non-edible plant parts, or as a soil-drench (root dip), such as to seedlings, or as a surface spray to reduce incidence of harmful phytopathogenic fungi in the phyllosphere.”  More on that here.

I have a feeling I’m going to be spending much of my cold winter nights reading Carla Emery’s book and scheming for next year’s gardens.