WAY TO GO MINNESOTA!

All-in-all, it’s sad that we have had to come to this.  But I do give major kudos to the state for finally doing something to support our natural critters, even if it had to involve money.

The Smithsonianmag.com email that I recently received posted this new report:

Minnesota Will Pay Residents to Grow Bee-Friendly Lawns

It’s part of their “Smart News” series which I love reading.

We try to do as much as we can and promote others to do the same, in all ways natural.  We saw our first Bumble Bee of the season just a week ago.  It was having a hay-day on our Honeysuckle.  I could not get close enough (or get it to slow down enough) to see if it is a “Rusty” or some other species.  I just loved that it chose to visit us.  The stupid boxer, Pig (yes that is his name) dog, spotted it and thought it was worthy of chasing – idiot!  Caught him snapping at it, so I had to chase him off of it.  His is supposed to be a smart breed, yet I constantly catch him doing really stupid stuff?!

bumble bee

I had a wonderful, beautiful wandering thought.  What if everyone in the world grew flowers?  They could be as simple as a single Daisy in a pot, or a rail basket full of marigolds, or a ton all over your yards (kind of like our home – we try to put flowers in everything).  Imagine not only the beauty but the benefits.  Feeding good bugs and birds naturally (FYI: I love it when our Humming Birds come to visit our Honeysuckle).

We also love to use companion planting with as much as we can in our gardens.  When I initially started learning about it, I was amazed at how many ways you can protect and encourage your own little space of land, just by using “buddies” while you do it.  Isn’t it nice to know those good friends work best together in nature, not just in humans?

Happy Gardening!

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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WHAT WOULD OUR WORLD BE LIKE IF…

Being a small farmer/gardener and doing it all as chemical free and natural as can be, I watch all the signs.

  • Weather: Current, future and even past.
  • News: Any changes current or future that may affect what I grow and why.
  • Critters: This is my biggie! I watch what the wild and natural critters are doing around me.

This third point leads me to today’s post.  I read a lot and have “cut the cord” so I read even more now.  I get my news online and in print.  When I turned on my cell phone this morning, one of the first articles was this:

Since it is about the insects, one of my three main critter groups, I had to check it out.  WARNING:  If you follow these things like I do, and if you are a gardener of any type, is a bit disturbing.

multiple insects The Insect Apocalypse Is Here – The New York Times

Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that …

We have a Bee Keeper that comes up every spring, unloads 600+ colonies of bees, and for three days distributes them around the northeast corner of Colorado.  Those three days are a ton of fun.  BEES EVERYWHERE!  I set out extra dishes of sugar-water so they can get a drink and a boost after their long trek.  I love that; once things settle down, they will land on me while I garden.  I leave them alone, they leave me alone, and all gardening is mutual love.

Then I received another article which caught my attention.  Again, it has to do with things that affect me – like weather (which has been way off whack this year):

Global Ocean Circulation Keeps Slowing Down: Here’s What It Means

Trevor Nace Contributor Science

I know a ton of people out there do not believe in climate change, I am NOT one of those.  I think it is a very real thing and it worries me. I have read some articles on historical documents and found that part of the problem with the past cold spells may have had to do with things just like this.  Part of the reason they are tracking it so much more closely now.  When you are a natural farmer/gardener, you try to grow in the best possible means available.  When the weather decides to turn cold – and stay there – it’s hard to get a good handle on your crops.  We cover when necessary, but to keep them covered for extended periods can also be a problem.  We also do manual pollination, especially in our greenhouse.  This is time-consuming but very necessary.  Yes, we have some insects in there that help – but not enough, and usually not bees.

I hope reading this you will join me in being conscious of your surroundings.  Please feel free to share with me if you have anything like this going on in your neck of the woods.  I am also interested in finding out how others are handling things like missing pollinators and extreme periods of unusual cold.  Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing!

flower and bee

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR WATER?

A farmer or gardener perspective for decades now has been to avoid plastics as much as possible.  They do not biodegrade which, of course, is not good for the earth.  This was my main concern when it came to plastics, specifically plastic bottles.

no plastic bottles

To-go containers for us are usually cardboard, paper bags, or reusable containers.  Yes, some of the reusables are plastic, but they are the good plastic that gets recycled.  We do love our redo, reuse, repurpose things on the farm, but most of these things are items that will biodegrade.  If they don’t do that then they had better last forever.

Well, my blog buddies at The Whoot.com have found a new danger from plastic, and it has to do with drinking water purchased in plastic bottles.

Plastic Bottled Water Does Damage With Every Sip

They share some fantastic info-graphics describing how the plastics are labeled, what the label means, and what the level of danger is.  I have saved several of these graphics for our own future use, and I hope you will do the same.  They even have a mini-video explaining how/where the plastic danger is.

We found it easier years ago to just purchase the heavy-duty refillable water bottles and carry them wherever we go.  We can load ice cubes in them more easily, and even freeze part on some of them.  Nothing better when working out in a hot garden than a cold drink of water.  We also have the huge advantage of our own well.  Some people don’t care for the taste of well water, but we prefer it.  To us, some city waters taste tinny or sterile.  We have the added benefit of natural minerals in our water, nothing cooked out.

This week my plow-share is all about safe, drinkable, water.  Simple, short, and hopefully refreshing.

good water bottle

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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WITH ALL THE BAD COMES SOMETHING AMAZING!

With all the bad, scary garbage going on in the world, I love reading my emails from places like: SMITHSONIAN.COM.  It is a free signup for their newsletter and it is so full of “other stuff” that keeps me grounded.

One recent issue offered an article about something I have never heard of before – nanowood?  The story not only explains exactly what it is, but how it can be used to replace things like Styrofoam (something I have protested since the 1970’s).  It comes from trees.  You can read the full article here: 

Could ‘Nanowood’ Replace Styrofoam?

nanowood

The first think I thought was what an outstanding contribution to saving our environment.  There is no Styrofoam in our home nor do we support it.  I have recycled plastics into tons of great farm ideas, and gladly purchase recycled plastic containers, but no to Styrofoam. This new source/substitute sounds awesome.

The second think I thought was it came from the University of Maryland – yes, Maryland here in the United States – WOW!  There are still scientists here in the US that are trying to think of ways to help not harm our planet – congrats people

Right now, it’s still in the early learning stages, but one day it could prove to be an outstanding insulator as well.

It is wonderful to know that there are those out there that still care.  Makes all my hand weeding feel worth-while

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

 
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Do They Really Think We Won’t Be Angry?

Yes, we live on a very small piece of land that we happen to love.

Yes, we struggle to get by year-after-year.

Yes, we love it and prefer to stay here.

cropped-best-tomato-rows-2012.jpg

Now that I have that out upfront let me just say that our new Leaders in our poor nation suck!

They seem to think that people like me do not exist.  It’s either that or the second thought I have (which is sadly more likely), they just do not care.  This ticks me off to no end.  We the people are supposed to expect them to represent us, our concerns, our needs and not their own.  It has been decades since I have felt that they represent me, my family, or our little farm.

This article popped up on my browser when I started up my computer yesterday:

$300m Puerto Rico Recovery Contract Awarded to Utility Company Linked to Major Trump Donor.

I urge all of you to read the article before finishing mine.  I then encourage you to come back to me and please share your thoughts and feelings.  Maybe I am out of line, but I don’t feel I am.

corruption

I am concerned, on a daily basis, for our continued existence as we have it.  I have worked on farms more than three-quarters of my life.  I love it and hope to carry on that love to my grandson.  The more time that goes by filled with self-centered, womanizing, liars; the more I fear for this way of life.

Up until this last year, I fully believed that our path of working naturally with Mother Nature was the right direction.  Now it feels as if this way of life is being sabotaged.  I don’t run around picketing the big corps, but it sure feels as if they are using their good-ole-boy-network to run me out.

Our little community here in Colorado also has its good-ole-boy-network, but they have not ever tried to do the kind of damage our current representatives are doing.  I have lived in small communities most of my life, and yes, the word-of-mouth travels fast.  If you do something illegal, you can count on the whole community knowing it within a matter of days (hours if it’s good gossip).   However, this same wonderful small community continues to come together on things of importance:

  • Fundraisers for our Fire Departments.
  • Fundraisers for the loss of a loved one.
  • Fundraisers for money to cover a serious injury, surgery, or cancer need.
  • Toys-for-tots donated to our local police stations to help out at Christmas.
  • Extra warm provisions provided to local Charitable Organizations.
  • Consistent donations to our local food bank.
  • Every one of our local Clubs donates services throughout the year (Moose, Elks, Masons, FFA, 4-H, etc.)

food bank

The point is that on the local level, we the people still stand together and for each other no matter what.  So what is the point at which our elected officials lose this ability?  Because, I swear, none of them have that same mentality when they get to the Representative level.  I would love to know at what point they turn from being chosen by we-the-people to help us, into the corrupt politicians that rule over instead of representing their constituents?

I used to believe that it was only a select few of very self-centered jerks that were this way.  Now I think it must be something in the water of all the political offices.

poison water

(Oops, got on my small farmer, female, soapbox again.)

 

HOW COULD WE HAVE A WORLD WITHOUT THESE?

Those of you have been following me know that I am a “natural” nut.  Our farm and gardens are all grown using natural methods.  We do not like or use chemicals, nor do we care for hybrids (as most will not produce viable seeds for the next year growth), or GMO’s.  We grow mainly heirloom fruits and veggies, and we try to encourage the natural vegetation for our area (Even the bindweed as long as it stays out of my gardens.  It passes that line, and I feel I have a right to use all the salt, vinegar, and soap as necessary.).

I also subscribe to emails from the Smithsonian, and the Health and Science section of the Washington Post. (Nothing with politics as it stops me from sleeping.)  The email I received on 10/12/17 got me all upset.  This was the headline:

BANANAPOCALYPSE:  The race to save the world’s most popular fruit.

had heard about a month ago, the threat of a disease to the crops in South America.  I also know that is where the US gets the majority of its bananas.  I am a self-proclaimed banana-holic.  I love the darn things in so many different ways:

  • Banana bread (the obvious choice)
  • Strawberry-banana smoothies (Grandsons favorite choice).
  • Frozen Bananas dipped in chocolate (These were called “Monkey Bars” at a long-gone little drive-in, in Wisconsin, called the Tinker-Tot.).
  • Bananas sliced on cereal with milk cold.
  • Bananas sliced in oatmeal with a bit of honey and milk.
  • Banana malt (milkshake to most, however, I prefer the malt flavor best).
  • Just plain old bananas.

They have got to be my most favorite fruit, and they help keep up my potassium levels (bonus!).  So I am very saddened to hear of this latest epidemic.  I hope you all read and share the full article, then pray for a natural miracle.

I did not read in anywhere in the article if they have discovered where the TR4-resistant strain (disease) originated?  My first thought was if you know what it is, and you know what it does to the target plant (in this case my lovely bananas), then why wouldn’t you spend the scientific time and money to figure out how to kill the fungus in its tracks?  What good is all their GMOing if it just the fungus just catches on and comes up with its own new tweaked version of attack?

I do not want my amazing bananas to go away completely nor forever, but I also am not thrilled about the method the people in the know are taking to try to help.  I do not believe that in the long run, splitting and splicing, mixing and matching, is not the answer.  They knew that this first appeared as TR1 discovered in the 1950’s, found a unique variety in China and cloned it – why haven’t they been working on a cure for the fungus since then and not just a disease resistant temporary fix banana?

To me, it is like using makeup to cover up acne.  The condition maybe masked but it is still there, and without the proper medication it will continue to thrive.

Then again, we still do not know how to cure a common cold – oh well.

Thank you for allowing me to share my soapbox with you.

silly bananas

 

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You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

DO YOU HAVE A SECRET YOU CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE?

I love doing research!  I seem to be always digging for something either new-and-improved or looking for the next helpful hint for the farm and gardens.  This blog is about one secret that I came across during my early research days (early meaning before we moved to this small farm).

One of the first things we knew we wanted for our farm was to be as natural as possible.  We thought about organic – but even that is not completely natural.  My wonderful little home in Denver had a huge back yard.  Part of that yard was my garden, so I was able to test a bunch of my findings on it.  The bummer was that it is higher altitude, which does make a big difference.

high altitude gardening

In my research travels, I came across a website that I had never heard of “PLANT NATURAL.COM”.  This was a God-send in my research for all  (or nearly all) natural gardening methods!  They recently sent me this little tidbit:  10 Garden Pests & How To Organically Control Them.  It is a YouTube video that is most excellent viewing on natural pest controls!  (Note: Looks like they do their research also as the video is from California Gardening, but the same pests are here in Colorado.)

Those of you have been with me for a bit, know that I do not have any affiliates on my Helberg Farm Stories blog yet.  This may change shortly as I would like to share with you the sites where we buy our farm and garden things.  A secret should not always be kept.  In this case, I want to share!

sharing is caring

There are a large number of websites that I go to in any given week.  Most of them are just to gain more information.  Some, like Planet Natural, are to purchase something.  Planet Natural also has a huge amount of information and a Forum.  Those of you that have not been to a forum, I strongly urge you do so!  If you garden at all:

  • In containers
    • A patio
      • A back yard
        • A big space
          • A greenhouse

I suggest you get involved in some of the forums.  You do not have to ask any questions if you don’t want to.  Just reading through the thoughts others, can help you a bunch!  Forums are nice because they are everyday people just like us that are asking the questions and getting/giving the answers.

What worked?

What didn’t work?

Why didn’t it work?

How can I fix it?

Our recent US election gave me a purpose.  I have decided that I will continue to be fun and funny as often as I can; however, I will also be trying to share more “earth-friendly” information with all of you that want to know it.  As I said earlier – I love to do research, and I am good at it!  There was a time when I had no time to spend on it, now that I do I will be sharing!

If my paid Politicians do not want to care for things like Global Warming, Climate Change, and Clean Healthy food – then I will!

Please feel free to share with me anything gardening that you need help on!  If I don’t know the answer, I will happily find it and share!

no-worries-friend-590770

WHAT SONGS ARE YOUR KIDS SINGING?

Do you know what your kids are singing?  Especially your very young kids?  Now I am no spring chicken anymore, but I know that one of the first things that kids learn is music – specifically singing.  They are taught at the youngest age to do simple rhyming song.

  • Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • One that my sister was taught was Chicken Riding? I, personally, had never heard it before or after she sang it (sometimes I think she just made it up to keep me guessing?!)
  • Itsy, Bitsy Spider – and so on.

The one children’s song that came to mind this morning is about one of my favorite creatures – the Bumble Bee.  “I caught a little baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me.”  (It’s kind of tragic at the same time – stings the kid, gets squashed, makes a mess of the shirt, and in the end, the kid gets into trouble…ahh, kids songs?!)

We have honey bees that are brought up from New Mexico every spring.  A company (friends) has our permission to pull their huge semi-truck onto our property.  Park it there, unload, and distribute over 600 colonies of bees.  It takes about three days to get them all spread out here in northeastern Colorado.  Then in the fall, they do the reverse.  We have extra free great pollinators all summer long.  (They should be here in the next couple of weeks.)

We also spend a fair amount of time every spring adding more (or new) good-bug-friendly plants to our yards and gardens.  The first few years on our little slice of heaven were kind of sad.  A few spots out front with a few flowers in them, but nothing to really attract our good bug buddies.  I can still remember the first time I saw a Praying Mantis.  Got so happy I cried a bit!

Over the years and our continuous work, we have managed to attract all types of garden helpers.

  • More Praying Mantis (green & brown – for those that do not know – female and male in our territory.)
  • Walking Sticks
  • The continued Honey Bees
  • Humming Birds.
  • An ever-growing variety of wild birds.
  • Lacewings
  • Ladybugs
  • Soldier bugs
  • And a variety of beetles.

The one that is closest to me, in more ways than one, is the bees.  We have several varieties here now.  The one that I did not see until just last year was the Bumble Bee.  I didn’t even think about it until I read this email: Mother Nature Network (MNN)

Bumblebee gets a helping hand from Endangered Species Act

I didn’t know they were on the endangered species list?  I know the Honeybees have been declining, so we help them as much as possible, but it never dawned on me that the Bumblebee is was having issues as well.

Maybe they should start teaching kid song to save things like the bumble bee instead of squashing it?  Maybe we could help starting now?

music notes 1

There was a little baby Bumblebee.

So I sat real still as I could be.

The Bumblebee came and sat on me.

Oh, what a wonderful thing to see.

Then he turned and smiled with glee.

Don’t ya just love those Bumblebees!

music notes 2

(Can’t write right now, because I can’t stop laughing at myself!)

Ok, so I cannot write a song, but you get the picture.  The idea of teaching our kids not to be afraid of things like Bumblebees, Honeybees, and Spiders just appeals to me.  I though, have my work cut out for me with my grandson.  He is a big giant panzie!  He can’t wait for summer, but asks every day if the snakes are out yet?  If I say yes, it is time, then he won’t go outside – grrr!

silly friendly snake

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HAPPY DIRT DAY – oops, sorry EARTH DAY!

Yes, it is that time of year again where we all pause for a moment to see the damage we are personally causing to the earth and if we can fix it.  I checked out several articles this last week on a variety of topics, the ones that caught my eye were about an individual’s past.

celebrate earth day

My past has some lumps and bumps in it but overall very few regrets.  I think one of my biggest regrets was not paying enough to my carbon footprint when I was young.  I NEVER threw trash out the window of the car (parents would have slapped me silly for a stunt like that), which is good, however;  I used to trust the bug killers back then, and that was bad.nasty bug spray

I didn’t catch on to the whole “earth-friendly” movement until the late 70’s (boo hiss).  I didn’t care what I ate or where it came from as long as I didn’t have to make it – fast foodaholic!  I also didn’t think twice about the plastic soda pop bottle I threw in the trash.

clean earth

The thinks (yes thinks not things as it took me a while to think of them – another proud idiot moment for me – woo hoo!) I know now are:

  • Reduce, recycle, reuse, repurpose everything I put my hand on. I three two are easy enough to manage, the last – repurpose – is my most fav one.  I blame my mother for this!  She was what we affectionately labeled her “a Dumpster Diver”!! (get out of the gutter for a moment!)  She could not pass up a junk (yard) sale, junk (2nd hand) store, or even an actual dump site.  It was not totally her fault.  She grew up during the depression, and they learned to save everything, just in case you needed it for something at a later date.  So rummaging around at flea markets, garage/yard sales, second-hand stores, and even dumps (trash places) was one of her most favorite things to do.  We three sisters all have this addiction which has also passed on to my eldest sister’s son (in truth he is worse than all three of us girls combined!).
  • NO CHEMICALS! Organic was the big “it” thing from decades ago.  As time and governments passed, the organic certification came about.  The funny thing about getting the organic certification is you can still use up to 15% chemicals on your plants (including food) and are still allowed to be called organic – bummer!  We prefer “natural” because all that we do on our tiny piece of earth is natural.
    • Companion planting.
    • Good bug attraction planting.
    • Weed removal by hand or earth-friendly methods (vinegar works great for a ton of bad weeds)
    • Using other things like feeding birds to deter (eat) bad bugs, setting water out (We have a pond and a creek in our field, and a coy pond in the front yard with easy ways for the honey bees to reach the water.  We also float wood in there during the hottest parts of summer in case they fall in.), allowing our goofy chickens to roam freely (might have to re-think this idea if they don’t stay out of our plots) and eat bad critters (grubs, grasshoppers, etc.), the guineas also get to roam about
  • Water conservation and sustainable farming/gardening practices.

every day earth day

Well, once again my trusted Farmer Almanac has provided  us all with some help:

15 Things YOU Can Do to Protect the Earth.

They have some of the great old standbys like eat green, waste reduction but they are also sharing ways to save with heating and cooling – nice guys!!  Oh, and I love the “Remember Mom’s Advice part – my mom was full of them!  In fact, thinking back now, I do not think there was a single conversation with mom that did not carry some type of mom-ism in it.

earthday chocolate

My final thought on this wonderful Earth Day 2017: (you must sing this…) It’s not easy being green.  Having to be the same color as the leaves and the trees… (Don’t you just love Kermit the Frog!)

kermit easy being green

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Why Should Something So Red and Delicious be Bad?

Sometimes the email newsletters that I receive provide some very useful insite.  This one is just such a case:   Strawberries still top the Dirty Dozen List.  By mnn (mother nature network)

silly-kissing-fruit

My faithful readers know by now that we are trying hard to grow most all of our own food.  We like to know exactly what’s going into the stuff that goes into our bodies.  Not that we are perfect by any means, but we do try our best.

We also run away from chemicals.  We use companion planting, natural gardening, and natural pest control techniques, and good old-fashioned hard work to keep our farm running.  Every year we like to try some new method or idea that is running around.  If it works great – we keep it and share.  If it doesn’t work bummer – we lose it but will still share why/what went wrong.

The above article from MNN regarding strawberries and pesticides made us sad, and a bit angry.  To us, one of the best and easiest things to grow almost anywhere is strawberries.  So why should anyone (individual or company) need to use anything unnatural to grow them?  We have grown them straight in the ground as well as a variety of pots, both doing equally well.

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I have some friends in both very moist and very dry areas that are using different pot ideas and doing quite well with their strawberries.  So why poison them?  Sad to say, but I think it is all due to vanity!

Yep, we all are guilty of this one!  We go into a store to buy food for ourselves and our families.  What is the first thing you check out?  How good does it look?  Right?  I am just as ashamed as you are on this.  I always flip over anything in containers to see if there is a molded or rotting one in it.  I squeeze my cucs to see if they are firm – if not I don’t buy them.  I smell my tomatoes, melons, and most all fruits.  I should be held accountable for some of this problem.

I allow blemishes and cut off rotting parts on our own homegrown food, but hate to pay for something that has a bruise on it – shame on me!

bad fruit

(Oh, except bananas – they taste better a bit bruised and make better tasting bread that way too.)

I love going to Farmer’s Markets to see all the produce others have to share.  I notice that lots of that are not perfect, but I am willing to pay a reasonable price (as long as they can tell me they did not use pesticides or chemicals) for it anyway.  I would love to see more Farmer’s Markets to choose from in the late summer/early fall months.  Our local small town grocery store allows the backyard gardeners to sell their extras in their parking lot during the harvesting season.  This is a great thing!  So why am I so picky about the stuff inside the stores?

cone of shame

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