A FUN CHRISTMAS TIDBIT TO SHARE.

My Buds at Farmers Almanac have done it again.  I just love their bits of garden info and occasionally seasonal snip-its.  This one is about Mistletoe.  Did you know that it is actually a “parasite?”  I didn’t. I always thought it was some type of bush.

If you would like a fun and interesting read, along with something to share with others in a topic of Christmas conversation, this is it:

The Meaning and Folklore Behind Mistletoe  by Robin Sweetser 

This was such a fun read for me that I have decided to hang on to it.  I have printed it off and will be sending it out with my Christmas cards. 

Here’s hoping you have a Christmas full of fun and wonder!

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GARDENING HELP SHOULD BE FREE

I read a lot.  Most of what I read is a huge variety of “how-to” stuff.  I really enjoy learning new things, improving on the skills I already have, and helping others who hope to enjoy these things I love.  I just think that of all the great things I know how to do, gardening help should be free.

I’m not talking about spending hours or days teaching someone how to garden.  That could (and should) take a lifetime.  I am also not talking about the things you create from your gardening expertise.  You grow gourds then turn them into gourd art – you should sell your wares.  What I am talking about, is sharing what you know with others, then we can all benefit from growing our own stuff.

Not everyone has a green thumb, nor does everyone want to be one, but for those that do the information should be free.  I love sharing my gardening info with others.  I especially love sharing my mistakes.  The mistakes (for me) are my best way of learning.  I find it funny that the mistakes stick in my head forever, do it right and I will have to go back and remember what I did. (Heaven forbid I have too much junk floating around in my head all the time that distracts my remembering!)

I am connected to a ton of blogs, forums, and Q & A sites that all find sharing is caring when it comes to gardening.  It corks me off to see someone want to charge for a bit of helpful advice.  If you are building a book, that’s fine and more power to you; but if you are asked a simple question on how to solve a specific problem, just help a buddy Green-thumber out!

Gardening is not easy, but it is rewarding.  Not just in the awesome food you can produce all by yourself, but for the great feelings you get along the way:

  • Playing in the mud when you are older than ten – and getting away with it!
  • The first seed that sprouts.
  • The first flower on your plants.
  • The first fruit (veg or whatever you are growing) that shows up.
  • Running out in a storm to cover and protect your babies (you put a ton of work into them).

The first time you grow enough food to have extra to share with others, well that’s a feeling that you will never forget! 

So live, laugh, learn, and love your growing efforts; be it flowers, fruits, veggies, trees, bushes, or whatever trips your trigger.  Just don’t forget to share!

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

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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

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 3 – Fall.

A true child’s story.

In the fall the whole family was engaged in putting up food.  I remember a huge walk-in, dirt floor, always cold pantry in the basement.  Three walls were lined with shelves for the tons of processed food jars to be properly placed on.  The center of the room had a huge wooden box.  This was where all the potatoes (that is the ones that we did not eat raw) went.  I dream of having something like that in our home now.  I also want to see it stocked full by the first frost.  Has not happened yet, but I have a goal.

The best part of fall was all the taste-testing:

  • Pick it fresh from the vine, tree, root, or wherever it may be growing and munch.
  • Sample ALL jams, jellies, sauces, preserves – before they are done and packed.
  • Enjoy the first of everything made at Thanksgiving with family and friends.

(Not us, but you get the idea just by the faces of these kids.)

While doing my research for this post, I was saddened by the fact that I do not have any more cherished family photo memories.  The fire of 2014 took them all out.  The fact that my wonderful photo memories are gone also helped me to see something that I didn’t before.  I went looking for pics that would be as similar as possible to my original memories.  I was shocked to discover that almost all the photos that came up in my searches were not of kids in real gardens.  A real garden (like what we grew up on) has:

  • No wooden or plastic borders.
  • Simple dirt, maybe a bit of straw, for walkways between the rows.
  • Kids that will get FILTHY while picking all the good stuffs (cuz everything on a kid with dirt turns into mud.).
  • Parents watching the kids all the time because they will eat all the food before you have time to process it.
  • Weeds that will continue to pop up no matter how much you work on them.
  • Not massive acres tended by dozens of people, but a simple backyard size that is managed by using just the family members.
  • Everyone is always smiling because you can see before you the labors of a job done in love, and a job well done.

I remember being down on the ground with bare legs getting full of dirt.  Using both hands (no gloves) to dig into the dirt and pull out potatoes and carrots.  Crawling along the row with those same dirty knees to pick every last one of the beans, peas, and all the other tiny veggies.  Heaven forbids if we missed even one. Oh almost forgot, the children were allowed to go back into the garden area when we were all done gathering the processing foods, to gleen off what may have been missed.  It was never much – but it was fun looking.  At this point, we were allowed to tear the snot out of the garden.  It’s always more fun to tear things apart than to build them.

like our garden 1

(Close, but this is city and has sheds that we did not have back then.  Also picture it about 10-times bigger.)

It would take days, sometimes weeks, to get everything processed and put up in the basement, dirt floor pantry.  I remember walking ever so carefully down those cement stairs to the basement, arms loaded with great foods.  Hang a tight right and straight on to the pantry door.  Watch your step because you had to step down to the dirt floor.  Always, someone older would take the jars of deliciousness from our arms and place them in proper order on the shelves.

The items still left from the year before were brought forward, and the new year’s yummies were placed in line behind them. Next stop – Thanksgiving Day!

We always held the family Thanksgiving party at our farm.  All morning (and most years the night before) were spent bringing up the stored goodies and prepping them for the day of feasting.  I say a “day” of feasting as our family did not just do the one meal.  People started showing up about 10:00 a.m. and some did not leave till after 10:00 p.m.

We had a huge dining room area with a huge rectangle table in the middle of it.  To give you the scope of huge – we also had an antique upright piano, a rounded glass china cabinet, as well as a couple of storage cabinets – oh and an outstanding tree/chair coat rack. (Mom had this thing for tiger wood – we still do.)  All of these things were in the same room as the dining room table.  Granted, the table leaf was added for these special occasions, but how it all fit in, with all of the people getting around it to fill plates, all day long; amazes me to this day.

(The piano and cabinet are identical to ours.  The table is similar, but the chairs were not so fancy.  I just remember hiding under there when our dad’s dad came to visit.  It was a very German thing to chase the little kids and pinch them – I have no idea why?)

Later in the day, the football games would start.  The men would retire with their plates of food into the living room and start screaming and yelling at the poor TV.  The women would gather in the kitchen which was always the place of interesting conversations, and a lot of laughing. (There is a WHOLE other story around “kitchens” and my memories.  Saved for another day.).  The kids would shoot outside like bullets at the first chance to flee.  We had horses, a hay barn, straw mounds with rope swings, and if we were lucky to have a good snow before Thanksgiving, snow to sled on down our steep hills.

kids going off to dream build

Our wonderful 80-acre farm was a fantastic place to grow up.  The limitations were only held back by our own imaginations.

Tis the season for reminding siblings that fresh veggies are better when shared.

I can fly - kid

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 2 – Summer.

In keeping with my fond memories of what our home was like, I move on to the next season.

Summers were filled with running amok.  Dad was one of those “real dad” type guys.  When it came to my baby sister, maybe too much so.  He tried very hard to make sure we had all that we needed and more.

We had horses, eighty acres to ride them on, and very wild imaginations.  Dad also got to know our neighbor with fantastic woods, so we could ride their lane when we needed a different scene for our imaginations.

We played at a pretend secluded cabin in the woods.  The horses were placed in a make-shift corral we made from downed logs. The fact that they were downed, to begin with, should have been a hint to us.  On more than one occasion the beasties got lose.  They, of course, were intelligent enough to head straight back to the farm where they are well fed.  We, of course, never learned not to do that.  Grumbling and walking all the way back to the farm became a, several times a week, task.  The best part is we would do the same stupid stuff every summer.  Ride the horses into the woods, slap them into a make-shift coral, and expect them to just stay in the rickety thing – duh.

While in the woods, we would dream of hunting and fishing for our meals.  A branch of the Milwaukee River broke through our back fourty and again at the end of the neighbor’s woods.  There were turtles, frogs, and great eating fish in that stream.  Sometimes we would actually go fishing, but most times we just caught turtles and frogs to play with.

kids playing in creekThis reminds me of our pond.  It was only there in the first part of summer as it was created from winter snowmelt.  No fish, no turtles, some frogs, but lots of blood-suckers.  The first couple of years we didn’t think about it.  If the day was hot and we were not riding the horses, we would chase them into the pond and grab onto their tales.  I still remember the feeling of being dragged through the cool water.

If we were riding, my younger sister had to make sure to stay AWAY from the pond.  If she allowed the horse to get into the water up to its knees, the darn thing would drop and roll on her.  At first, I thought it was just the one horse.  But she had a couple of others after that one, and they did the same thing. Now, I know it was just their way of getting rid of her.  Don’t worry; she never got hurt when they flipped.  I felt sorrier for the horses, as she would catch up with them and punch them in the nose (ya, like that would hurt the horse?) for dumping her.

One exceptionally warm summer the pond was still up in July.  The only reason I remember this is because of the blood-suckers (leeches).  We (our cousins and my younger sister) all decided to go for a dip because of the heat.  It started out fun, then my sister came up out of the water in her bikini and had blood-suckers all over her belly.  We freaked out and started whacking her stomach to get them off.  Eventually, it worked, but her belly was red for the rest of the day.  Mom banned us from the pond the rest of that summer.

leech picture

As the summer waned, mom would get the Aldens Catalog (a mail-order Sears-type catalog) in the mail.  We would all gather together to go through it and pick out our school clothes for the upcoming school year.  A few weeks later we would come home from riding horses all day to find several large packages piled on the dining room table.  It was like an early Christmas!  We couldn’t wait to rip them open and try them all on.  Then the hard part was trying to decide what to wear on the first day of school.

This also marked the end of all our summer fun and the start of fall school year – bummer.

aldens catalog pic

Tis the season for reminding siblings that revenge is sweet.

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 1 – Spring.

I am not talking about where you may live now. I am talking about that feeling of home you got when you were young. This time of year, I get very homesick for those fond family home memories.

I decided that my way to handle it this year is to share a bit of my Wisconsin home life from back in the 1960’s. I will be posting “Spring” today. Then over the next 10 days, I will share, Summer, Fall, and Winter (just in time for the Christmas). I hope you will enjoy my memories and share some of your own.

Maybe I was just very blessed to have the childhood I had.  Sure, some bad things happened, but you get up, get over it, and get on with life.  One of my little sister’s fav saying is:
“Ya just need to pull up your big girl panties and move on already.”

My home life, compared to others, apparently was outstanding!
Spring on the farm meant:
• Picking Rock
• Planting the fields.
• The beginning of hay season.
• Planting the family garden.
• Catching tadpoles, baby turtles, and whatever else we would get away with.
• The end of the school year and the beginning of the summer fun days.
I bet a bunch of you stopped at the “picking rock” statement. You need to understand the big picture here. So, here goes:

A big, strapping, dark haired, blue eyed, father of three daughters. The daughter’s ages roughly four, six, and eleven. Three girls that, through the grace of their mother, were each blessed with a very warped sense of humor.

The youngest, being too small to actually pick up most of the rocks, was harnessed with the task of driving the tractor. I specifically say harnessed because she was. It was just a small Massey Ferguson tractor, but she was still too little to reach the pedals or do anything more than drive it in a straight line. Dad strapped a block of wood to her foot to reach the pedal to stop, and then tied her into the seat so she wouldn’t slip off. He had her stomp on the clutch to stop the tractor; he would put it in gear at the very lowest speed, and away she went. It only took her about three tries of popping the clutch and killing the motor, but she finally got a feel for it. Then the fun began.

old fashioned rock picking(Ok this pic is a bit before my time, but you get the idea. We did not have cell phones or cameras in the field while picking rock. But rocks this big were occasionally dug up.)
She, on the tractor, was to simply pull the flatbed wagon in a straight line down the field. Keep in mind this is the slowest speed so the three of us could walk along, pick up the big rock, and place it on the wagon (FYI, our mom had one of the best rock gardens around by the time we sold the farm). Dad would get the biggest rocks. My elder sister the next size down. My job was to pick up anything that would not fit through the plow tines. No problem – right? Wrong.
My little Speed Racer sister on the tractor was getting bored. She started watching us picking up the rocks. The first time she pulled the stunt, it was on me. I had found a larger than my normal size rock. It was a bugger just to get it out of the ground, never-the-less me pick it up, but I did it. I was struggling to get it to the wagon. Speed Racer’s job was to stop the tractor when she saw we were having a hard time with any rocks. A major part of her task was to give us time to unload it.

She saw I was struggling.

She stopped.

I approached the wagon and lifted my monster to place it on the wagon and…

She took her foot off the clutch and lurched forward.

I dropped the rock on the ground (missing my foot by inches.).

kid picking up big rock

Dad, who of course had been watching the whole thing was trying to reprimand Speed Racer, but could not stop laughing long enough to get the words out. This became a family tradition.
Up until the day we sold the farm, Speed Racer got to drive the tractor, we got to load the rocks, and I was forced to chase a wagon every spring picking season.
Even though this “tradition” was not one of my favorites at the time, I remember it very fondly today.
I hope you join me for my next post so we can visit our family summer traditions.

Tis the season for reminding siblings who is the boss. 

(When I figure out who it is, I will let you know.)

dancing kittens-saved

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All-New Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7″ Display, 8 GB, Black – with Special Offers

 

PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – NOVEMBER 16, 2017

Today I am not endorsing any specific idea or product.  Today I have decided to do something a bit different.  My Grandson decided, all by himself, that he wanted to gather up some of our leaves.  Not to help me mind you, but to help himself.  He said they were getting in his way.  So he grabbed one of our leaf rakes (at least he grabbed the right kind), and began wrestling with it and the leaves.  So, to pay homage to the poor rake because he beat the snot out of it:

An Ode to the Humble Rake.

(Please sing to the music of Moon River.)

Humble rake, ever you’re on call,

Always in the fall, you’re used.

You leaf raker, my heart breaker,

Forever the one, the one that I choose.

 

Two huge trees, litter up the ground,

There’s such a lot of ground to see.

We’re after the same goal my friend, rakin’ up the bend,

My gardens you help tend, Humble Rake and me.

Today’s Plowshare is simply to acknowledge that the leaf rake is one of the most used, and abused items in our gardening armory.  My Grandson was a bit overwhelmed by all the leaves and quit after only an hour.  I found the rake, on the porch, leaning against the house like this:

our leaf rake after N done

I hope that my share today will help you to appreciate your poor gardening tools.  They do so much for us and ask so little.

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What Would You Find Most Important?

My blog post on Life Lessons Lived yesterday got me thinking about what I would find most important to have, or rebuild should something ugly happen.  By ugly, I’m talking about some type of major life-changing event:

  • Plague
  • Meteor strike
  • Major volcano explosion.
  • Zombie apocalypse

I don’t think the zombie apocalypse is a real thing, but I do love watching The Walking Dead series on AMC.  Not for the zombies (too realisticly gross), even though I love the special effects makeup jobs.  We watch for the human nature aspect of it.

Thinking on that path, what would you find most important to have around when a major disaster hits?  Much of the U.S. is still struggling from our last violent Mother Nature outbreaks.  The things I find common in all of them are these:

  • Clean water
  • Food
  • People to help with clean up
  • People to help with rebuilding
  • Good organizational skills.

We have ways on our farm to pull out clean water.  If it is not real clean, we have splurged on the bottle filtering systems.

People may be in short supply if it all goes at once.  So, we have opted for some outstanding friends and family.  We would all pull together and help to clean up and rebuild.  My other thought on that one is tiny houses.  After the Texas mess, I have been looking up all sizes and types of tiny houses.  Denver even showed their tiny house village set up specifically to help the homeless.  We have enough space that if we could figure out water and sewer, we could do it here.  At least it would house our buds until we get around to their individual spaces.

I am O.C.D. when it comes to organizing.  I MUST HAVE MY DUCKS IN A ROW AT ALL TIMES!  Yes, I am a bit nuts about this:

  • My craft room is separated into different craft projects: card crafting sorted by holidays and seasons etc.
  • My knitting is separated into the type of yarn:
    • Thick or thin, solid or self-striping colors, and then by colors: reds, greens, etc.
    • If it will only be used for Halloween or Christmas, it goes into different containers.
    • Current projects I am working on (yes, project”S” – as I can never have just one going on.  It is usually 4 or 5 at one time).
  • My beading and jewelry making is in an area close to my knitting as some of my pieces are a combination of the two. All the beads are sorted by size, type, and/or color.

This goes on, but you get the picture.  I have to know where all my stuff is or I go a bit nuts.  My grandson has ADHD/Autism and also goes a bit nuts when he cannot find something.   His room is a disaster, so I don’t go off on him, I Just remind him that if he put it back where he found it, he would now find it.  Then I help him look.

All that just left me with food.

I started to wonder.  If all the normal stuff was gone, how many people would, or could, grow their own food?  How many people could kill a chicken?  If you did kill it, would you know how to process it?  Well, while I was researching all this I came across something from my childhood I had completely forgotten and was ashamed so.

Do you know who Paul Harvey was?  Have you ever heard any of his The Rest Of The Story broadcasts?  Mom used to listen to them faithfully.  When we were home, we had the privilege of listening in along with her.  The one that I came across while searching, for me, was one of his best:

GOD MADE A FARMER

If you have never heard, or heard of, Paul Harvey; please take a moment to click the above link and allow a few minutes of peace to enter your ears.

His voice is monumental.

The story is epic.

The moral is to be followed.

We have a neighbor who has a field that runs the side of the highway on your way to Denver from Nebraska on I76.  I don’t remember exactly when he put up the sign, but I know it is still there today:

IF YOU ATE TODAY, THANK A FARMER.

Short, to the point, and true.

Just a few simple thoughts for the Thanksgiving month.

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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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