Sunday, March 24, 2024

Yes, do all the things!

  Why do we attempt to do all the things........

First off let me say, I am not a "prepper" I am just ridiculously curious and interested in way too many "things".   If I don't get it right the first I will be tenacious trying to figure it out.  It has lead me down some endless rabbit holes.   Take from the past but spin it today to make it better.  Gardening, pottery, food preservation, weaving and on and on.  Is there a better way to be easier on the planet, reducing my carbon footprint?  

Somewhere mixed in with girls scout badges and old monopoly pieces I have my Ranger Rick badge and my ecology flag patch from the 70's...

But when your Mom is a Tupperware lady and you grow up with suitcases full of plastic and Tupperware parties abounding in that little bungalow in Parma, Ohio, well ...... plastic was just magical. 

That was my first recollection of plastic in our house.  It just wasn't around and store bought food was in a paper bag, even produce was in a paper bag or came out of the garden or a jar in the basement.  Water came out of the backyard hose and not a plastic bottle.  The hose was real rubber and probably should have killed us.  When I was around 6 years old, my Mom was one of the few woman who took a full time job as a secretary for USDA, PPQ (plant protection and quarantine) and there she stayed for the rest of her working life.  She took the bus to downtown Cleveland and returned each evening and did not want to make dinner.  Enter Swanson TV dinners and Stouffers Tuna Noodle casserole.  It was miracle food, packaged in aluminum foil and waxed cardboard.  Meanwhile "the kids" spent snow days, afternoons and every summer vacation or school break at a very Hungarian Grandma's house with homemade noodles, lard, a big garden and homemade soup.  Grapes drying on clean white sheets draped over a day bed for raisins.  My uncle brought in a dead pig that would be cut up and processed on the dinning room table and side meat was salted, packed in a barrel and stored in the coal bin of the basement. that would be distributed between 3 families.  He brought a gallon jar of milk every week, the top thick with cream.  We went down to Islays or Franklin ice cream store and bought half gallons of ice cream in square paper containers.  No plastic.  The morning and afternoon newspaper was kept on the counter for scraps.  The scraps were neatly wrapped and taken out to the compost pile after each meal.  I remember when we started getting trash collection and there was nothing to put on the curb.  

My Mom on the other hand couldn't get to age of Judy Jetson fast enough and yet my grandparents were firmly rooted in the early part of the century.  My Mom would go to work and host Tupperware parties in her polyester knitwear.  She raved about no ironing, wash and wear.  And yet she picked up a bucket of soap chips from those immigrant grandparents.  We saved all our fat in 3 pound coffee can and when full ran it over so they could make lye soap.  She did the laundry with that soap and there was always a bar sitting by the laundry tub in the basement.  We bounced between two worlds and never thought twice. 

It took awhile for my brain to make the leap to where I am today.  Boycotting plastic, buying old furniture, haunting the used clothing stores for jeans and jackets.  I had my first tour of a landfill in the 80's and it was the catalyst to say Whoa, what are we doing?  Plastic was everywhere and in everything and it was alarming.  By the 90's I was estate gardening full time and by the late 90's we were aware something was going on with the weather.  The summers were hotter than Hell and there were noticeable storms more often.  The gentle rains were a memory by the mid 2000's.  It became drought or flood.  Plants were stressed and gardeners were stressed trying to figure out growing patterns.  We have bounced up two growing zones in my lifetime.  That set off alarm bells.  

Then I noticed the furniture we going to buy for our home smelled funny and wasn't made of real wood but a composite. We decided not to buy and wait. 
 Americans throw away 12 million tons of furniture every single year! New York Times
Most of that furniture was made in the last 10-15 years.  We live in the age of fast furniture, less quality to be sure.  The older, second hand furniture is better quality and can last a lifetime or more.  We now buy gently used furniture and donate any furniture we no longer need.  Keep it out of the landfill! 

Then we joined Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy, started donating to several food banks.  The more we read and picked our heads up out of the sand the more alarmed we became.  What could we do to offset our carbon footprint of 13.6 tons of carbon per year?  I thought we were doing so much, our trash pick up gone down to one 13 gallon trash bag a week, still too much but it was all from food packaging.  Why cucumbers need to individually wrapped in plastic and then if you buy three wrapped yet again in plastic I will never understand.  We stopped buying cheese or any food that sat in plastic due to nano plastics etc.  Our yard waste is now pretty much circular, it stays on site and is chipped for mulch.  The only thing I won't let stay on site are rose bush prunings and diseased plants.  I don't do hot composting so it needs to go to a bigger facilities.  The average American household puts out around 48 metric tons of carbon. University of Michigan study.   These charts on food and transportation are pretty eye opening.

 Guess what we quit eating?  Dairy and our meat has been cut way back to once a week.  My driving has been impacted also.  Last year I drove 1/3 of what I did the year before.  I have decided to stop doing shows and instead will ship pots off to galleries or keep the galleries local.  We are making adjustments for heating and cooling at home too.  We are living very differently. 

So far this year I have walked enough on my treecard app to off set my carbon foot by 47 tons and I can also contribute to remove plastic from the ocean.  

If your are still on the fence here is some great data to read on snowy afternoon with a cup of coffee and if it doesn't alarm you enough to adjust your lifestyle I'm not sure what will.  

As we plod through our new lifestyle I hope to keep this blog open for any ideas to make living on the planet a bit easier.  So far the best thing I have found for big carbon moments like a road trip or airline trip is buying trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.   So if you're headed to Antarctica and you are contributing 4.14 carbon tons (Sierra Club) to a warming planet,  why not buy a bunch of trees for the future of the planet.  I think it would be a great selling point if an airline or cruise just added that to their ticket, included in the price to haul you're privileged butt around.  If you work for a big corporation why not buy trees for the carbon your employees are putting out there.  We have entered a new era of zoom meeting and teleconferences.  It's not always necessary to hop on a fossil fueled antiquated system of travel but if you are, plant a few trees! 

Happy March!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Winter is back with a vengence and chickens.....

Oh March.......

 Snowy, windy mornings...... 

Of course I planted things outside already.  Of course it was a week of 60-70F weather.  Even then I considered cold weather returning, wild weather swings are the norm.  I expected a bit of snow.  I expected it to last 12-36 hours.  That would be normal, it's not normal anymore.  Did I expect 15F degree weather and high wind?  Nope.  

So I decided to run with it and did an experiment.  

These two beds are covered in single layer frost cloth and mulched heavily with shredded leaves, a few months old and planted in raised beds with cement block.
Kale, chinese cabbage, romaine lettuce and butter crunch lettuce. 

This bed is planted on the ground, no raised bed, single layer of frost cloth and not mulch.
I would say the most exposed of all beds.  Cabbage starts are  under the cloth.
Savoy, purple and jersey wakefield varieties

These two beds are planted in the ground, no mulch and double frost cloth. 
Cabbage, two varieties; little tiara and savoy.

This bed is somewhat protected, close to the house.  Double frost cloth, no mulch.
Kohlrabi variety Kossack and white turnips, variety; hakurei (hands down favorite of any turnip so far) 

I have not dared to peek under the covers, fearing total loss with temps low enough to freeze the ground.  The winds have been downright brutal, gusting to 45 mph.  This current weather pattern holds until next week when we creep into the 40's but at least above freezing.  A bit of sun would do wonders!  Stay tuned for the results.....

Quite a bit has been transplanted.  In the past I have always transplanted iris in August/Sept.  It never happened.  I now believe the people setting dates set in stone were men.  Women just know stuff is going to change and if there is time; DO IT! 

Lemon balm has been yanked out and unceremoniously plopped behind the compost pile.  I didn't even bother with the gardeners prayer; "Grow Dammit" because it just doesn't matter.  No one ever said; " Oh I think I need more lemon balm!"  No one!  

I need to move the cold frame to make way for the cattle panel hoop house.  Ran out on a Saturday morning, cleaned it out, moved the panels and tried to pick up the end.  Groan, pull again.  Grunting, cursing, off to get a pry bar......nothing.  Completely forgot I sunk the 4x4's about 2 feet in the ground.  Even with the wet ground it was not budging.  I need to take each board off and move it.  Argh.... another day!  Some days I just run out of gas.  

I sat on the edge of the cold frame with a hot cup of coffee and watched the chickens....

The girls did a great job on the compost pile and cleaning out the back garden!  Bravo ladies!  These three gals are going on 4 years and I get about 10-12 eggs a week.  More than I need.  They do have their drawbacks however.  While I was moving blueberry bushes I let them free range around the back garden.  I would dig and prep a large hole and by the time I got the blueberry bush out of the ground and wrangled the root ball and all to the prepared hole, the chickens had filled in the hole looking for bugs and treats.  Grrrr... re-dig and plant.  6 blueberry bushes later I had time to plant the brassicas in the raised beds.  As long as there is fresh dirt there are chickens on a mission.   Excuse me ma'am, we do have a dress code in the garden....... 

Looking over my shoulder, the ladies were raking fragile, shallow rooted blueberry roots with their talons of doom.  C'mon ladies!  There are 3 chickens, two stick together like glue and one is on her own.  I jumped to chase them off the preciously planted blueberries. They scattered in three different directions.  I went for the gang of two and herded them back to the chicken corral with a pointy rake.  Locked up I ran back to get the third, finding her chowing down on tender brassica starts.  Chickens 1 - Gardener 0.   Grabbed her and tossed in the corral with the other two offenders.  Between weather and chickens those kale plants don't stand a chance, I will be direct sowing in a couple weeks.   The chickens are currently on lock down until I get a chicken tractor made.  The red shoulder hawks have taken up residence in the maple tree next to the garden so free range is probably not a great idea this Spring.  They do continue to storm the gates with the eternal hope of escaping and wreaking havoc on fresh shoots in the asparagus and peony beds.  At night I have visions of them whittling little pitch forks and smoking cigarettes planning their jail break.  

It is the season for knee pads and weeding knives.... 
I don't think I could work without a hori.  I can't walk out the back door without pruners clipped to my pocket, knee pads strapped on and the hori shoved in my back pocket.  I could take a kidney out if I forget and sit down too quick!  or the chickens could use it as a shiv to make their break when I gather eggs.... I have urban thug chickens, not country chickens. 

Even with knee pads dirt happens.....

At the end of the day there is time for sunsets, beach fires and a really good dog who isn't trying to shiv the gardener for greener pastures ........ 

His new arthritis meds have helped so much...... :) 

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Winter respite over!

 It's happening!!! 

But this morning a front has moved in, bringing rain, fog and much cooler weather.  The fog is thick and muffles all the urban noises.  Yet the titmouse and red wing blackbird calls pierce the air.  There will be no gardening today.  This will be a laundry and get more seeds started day.  A drink one more cup of coffee day. 

The past few days have catapulted us into Springs intoxication and Spring chores.  The winter chore list just got filed in the circular receptacle because it's over!  Those lazy mornings with coffee and seed catalogs, over!  Pads on, tools in all my back pockets, Felcos (pruners) holstered like a sidearm and we are off to the races.  I have managed a bit of pruning; fruit trees and elderberries but not much else.  As I age those Spring energy bursts of, don't stop until dark are but a distant memory and I am trying to adjust to my older body.  I stop for lunch and coffee now, take my boots off, telling myself this reflection will make me a much better gardener.  Please leave me those grand illusions!  

 The changes in the way back garden have begun!  After two 75 degree days, it was a dawn to dusk work out, although I'm definitely moving slower!  I have been dreading this job but the calvary is not showing up.  

I have lived with the cement block beds for 6 years now.  They do not work.  This way back garden area doesn't have easy access to water.  Stuff gets planted and then stuff better buck up.  I found the cement block wicks water away from the beds and the beds dry out super fast, even with heavy mulch.  I planted strawberries into compost filled holes ringing the perimeter of each bed.  I had visions of strawberry plants laden with fruit hanging over the edge waiting to be picked.  It worked if I kept the blocks watered daily.  I watched with mouth watering anticipation for the first red berries.  I walked to the garden one warm morning in June, bowl in hand to find every berry had been stripped in the middle of the night.  As my empty bowl was placed on a block to move plants around, wondering if any had been hidden, I watch a pair of fat ass chipmunks work the row next to me.  I had planted a buffet for the chipmunks and ground loving critters.  Not to mention the birds.  I let the berry plants go to ground cover and it worked extremely well.  The entire back was covered in strawberry plants last year and we did harvest 30 pounds of berries.  The dangling berries did keep the chipmunks out of the beds.  

This area is now shaded from so many trees, things I used to grow no longer do very well, due to lack of sun.  Time for change.....

out with the cement block! 

Re-enforcing the compost pile and blocking all chicken escape hatches. 

OMG, I will not be hiring myself out to lay brick or block anytime soon!  Three beds down and three more to go.  Landscape fabric was peeled a way.  That stuff should be outlawed!  The tree roots were imbedded and had grown above the fabric.  I used the heavy duty, nursery landscape cloth and it was a fight to the death to get that crap out of the garden!  I like to ease my body into the garden season and this was akin to be plunged head first into the landfill and digging your way out.  March 3rd and already the sweat was sliding down my face and into my ears, my underwear was plastered to my butt.  But I have the vision and the end result, well it's a very big brass ring to grab for. 

So what edibles grow well at the edge at the forest?  I'm opting for blueberries and raspberries.  I wrestled out three of the largest blueberry bushes.  I still have three more to go.  Gosh I learned so much when I dug them up about root structure and why some bushes were doing so well and others dwarfed.  It was not the variety but the roots!  

Blueberries re-homed in the new bed....

The old bed will have a cattle panel hoop house installed. 
Soon I hope!

Across the back where the cement block was taken out and barrels of tree roots excavated.  Raspberries have been divided and will run the length of the back garden.  They will get great morning sun! The small patch currently producing well, will be tripled in size.  The birds don't seem to bother the raspberries very much.  Trellises still need to be put in too.  No more plants gone wild!  I wish I had the space to let the raspberries free range but I don't.   

chickens and dirty knees are a sure sign of Spring.....

Last of the carry over winter projects is ongoing.  Mortaring old fieldstone in the foundation and new basement stairs.  Yee Haw!  I have to tie myself off to get down these steps.  I used to have my laundry in the basement and at one time my studio.  A basement with a dirt floor, a river running through it and so low you can knock yourself out with one wrong move.  I am not sure how I carried 50 pound boxes of clay down these steps and fired pots back up.   These stairs were original and rickety, rickety is being nice.  
During canning season, loaded down with jars I'm up and down so many times a day I loose count.   The basement has a dirt floor and honestly for all our food storage from the garden I love it.  Think French cheese caves and wine cellars....... again with the illusions.

Lumber..... when a 2x6 was really a 2x6!

The bathroom is next on the long list ......... pray for me! 

The next blog post I will discuss more of carbon foot prints,  and cow poop..... 

for now I leave you with this...... embrace the change 😀


Monday, February 26, 2024

Monday morning rants..........


Monday morning rants....... turn back now if you need a smiley face.

Back from a weaving workshop, a group of 6 lovely woman who attended a 3 day basket making workshop about 17 miles up the road.  I thought it would be attended by local basket makers although Winter Weave has been around since 1988, I know as I attended, that is how long I have been weaving.  Although I only wove baskets for a few years, taking a hard right turn to ceramics I have always found it creeping back into my day to day life through knotting, darning socks, gardening etc.  I think it's in our DNA..... woven strands of deoxyribonucleic acid actually a double helix that looks a lot like twining. 

It was an 8 hour day of intensive twining.  My group was composed of 3 local weavers and 3 weavers who have traveled from New York and Pennsylvania.  All totaled there were 38 weavers who attended from several different states.  There was time for meeting, discussing world issues, eating and weaving.  I love small groups where everyone can express an opinion and be heard.  We shared what life was like in a their neck of the woods.  But what I was really dumb struck by, most of this traveling band of weavers, travel the world yes, the world attending or organizing basket weaving events.  🤯 

I had Sunday to mull a few things over and have a few questions, no I have a lot of damn questions.  As we all know from this blog I am an avid gardener, I spend quite a bit of time outside and that has turned me into a consummate weather watcher.  I am very aware of rainfall, rainfall patterns and as the years have progressed become more and more alarmed.  It is about the climate and my carbon footprint!  This is a precursor to my AH-HA moment on my Sunday morning walk around the yard. 
My awareness of climate change started around 1999 when I was working as a hired an estate gardener in and around Cuyahoga County, northeast Ohio, zone 5a growing season.  Something was happening but didn't know what and so it has gone these last 25 years.  

Back to basketweaving.  I looked at what the other teachers were teaching and materials used.  The youngest teacher in her 20's was teaching painted paper baskets and they were stunning.  The other teachers (all over 60) were making baskets, made out of rattan.  Rattan comes from the rainforests of Southeastern Asia, put on a boat and shipped over to the states.  
If you would like to know more: read, Rattan Industry Overview or watch, Rattan harvest.  It is not a pretty story and pretty damn alarming.  China is now the #1 producer of rattan.  The room was a sea of rattan baskets, there were kits available, the stuff was everywhere.  A ball room filled with rattan, compounded with a herd of traveling people descending on northeast Ohio to make something pretty to sit in their house.  My carbon awareness was in the stratosphere and it was gasping for oxygen!   Why isn't there a movement to weave from materials locally grown, like willow?  I know of two willow farmers here in Northeastern Ohio.  It's sustainable and in our backyard.  The ash trees are gone due to the emerald ash borer but the oaks and hickory are still plentiful.  There are brambles by the boat load.  I can honestly say I no longer support this activity. 

In the last month I have become pretty pissed off with "eco-tourism".  Hey let's go to Alaska on a cruise ship! Here is a mind blowing look at the environmental impact: Alaskan cruise impact  I understand that people made their retirement and then wanted to see the world.  It was what the old industrialist tycoons and their families did.....  meanwhile my family was in steerage fleeing eastern Europe.  or Ireland from a potato famine.  Spend your retirement on saving world!

Don't do it!  Stay home and watch a documentary on Alaska and indigenous people or go flush your cruise ship toilet into the pristine waters of an Alaska bay.  Watch the orca whales swimming in your last nights sewage because that is what is happening.  Wake the fuck up!  One ship carries 4000 passengers, that is so much bilge to empty into harbors or even worse out at sea. 

Or no wait how about Antarctica?  

this is from a cruise ship that sank in 2007 and left a huge diesel oil spill affecting thousands of migrating penguins. nbcnews

For those of us in Northeastern Ohio, that entails hopping on a plane to get the boat departing for some place we really should not be going.  If you're a scientist, great and I will even help buy your ticket!  But if you're a bored old person with too much money lets take a minute and think about this.  As I now know 3 people who have done the Antarctic cruise I am thinking this is the new Hawaii of my parents generation.  All of these people dashing off to Antarctica have grandchildren.  Did they take them?  No.  
Let's look at the breakdown:
The average per-passenger CO2 emissions for an Antarctic vacation are 4.14 tons or the same amount of carbon pollution the average human produces for one year.  Each tourist arrival accounts for average 83 tons of snow loss a 2022 paper found . Add the risk of fuel spills, non-native species hitchhiking on tourists clothing.  Scientists are finding invasive species particularly urgent because most tourism is concentrated in ice-free coastal areas that have the continent's greatest terrestrial biodiversity.  Non-native plants will only become more tenacious as the climate warms.  Think this is crazy?  Antarctic ecologist Dana Berstrom, lead an international program called Island of Antarctica; they spent time vacuuming tourists and national program people and analyzing the data.  All major weed species in North America and Europe were found.  The most common, Poa annua, whose seeds stay viable for 4 years now has an established foothold in Antarctica....... Kentucky Bluegrass!  If you would like to read more, here is the link: Environmental impact Antarctic cruise ship.  The future generations may only see a polar bear or emperor penguins in a zoo at the rate we are going.  The average cost of an Antarctic cruise is around $10,000 plus the airfare to get there.  Take a child, go to the zoo and donate the $10K to the zoo because they are the hope that future wildlife might survive the next many years of a warming planet.  The last time the earth saw carbon in the atmosphere this high was the Pliocene era (3-5 million years ago)  and we all know what happened; read more here NASA

We cannot simply go about the world on whims anymore. I don't have grand children but I do care about the future of the planet.  Human rights and politics are important but there will not be a piece of land to fight on if the climate doesn't turn around.  Do you honestly think the woman or man holding a dying child in a third world country grieves less than you do when famine or flood hits as the earth warms?  We are the privileged, the educated who are supposed know better but we don't, we stay in our little bubble.  We say we care but look at our behavior, it sucks for the rest of the world.  In my lifetime my growing zone has increased two times.  I am now attempting to garden in zone 7a and this last week of February we are going to be setting heat records.  Again, wake the fuck up people!  Every single issue that sets our underpants on fire is nothing compared to climate change.  
Have too much money? Send your money to plant trees, check out Arbor Day foundation 
This is the stack on my desk from one days mail asking for donations to support the environment! 
Pick one!

want to adjust your carbon footprint use an app, I am using Klima

I am also loving the Treecard app:

There are so many ways to get started "just do it"!!  
(sorry as Nike emitted 10 million metric tons of CO2 last year) 

I am off to put up a low tunnel and plant some lettuce and radishes.  Hope springs eternal around this place.

it's NOT!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

February ferments.......


Ginger beer has been a good way to get through February.

Ginger bug for the ginger beer, Water kefir grains and lemon flavored water kefir ready to drink.  The counters are filling with bubbly bottles.  Every morning while the coffee pot brews, all the bottles are burped to prevent exploding bottles.  

This is my first rodeo with ginger beer and I'm learning a lot!  The longer it sits the more alcohol it makes.  After two weeks the "beer" does not disappoint but I prefer my ginger beer at 3 days aged.  It's pretty easy and pretty delicious!  Better than sauerkraut juice if you're trying to get your daily gut fizzies.  

Gardening has turned into a waiting game of sorts.  The temperature turned cold enough to freeze the rain barrels and all connections (19F this morning but 50F by lunch).  The new roller coaster of winter.  

It's been a tough winter for Kirby as his arthritis has really kicked his hind quarters.  It's kicked mine too as he needs an assist for all steps and car rides.  It's been a back and fourth to the vet to manage pain.  We finally found the magic bullet, Librela.  A once a month injection, no pills.  After blood work and lots of poking, prodding, age assessment, weight assessment etc this was the drug recommended.  I read so much on this new drug and decided to finally go ahead.  It has worked the best on cats and fairly new to canines so there wasn't very much information.  In the past we had tried Galliprant but his liver just couldn't handle that drug. However it was recommended we keep a few on hand if he is having a hard day, it is an anti-inflammatory.  I tried turmeric too but again his liver just couldn't handle it.  After his first injection we were told to wait for any improvement for a month.   

Every trip to the vet also means a trip to the beach.  He just goes into terror, tremors and shaky legs at the vet, breaks my heart and sitting on the floor with him doesn't do anything except give him a place to tuck his head.  When we're done we head to the beach.  It's better than a pup cup and the sand is so much easier for his hind quarters and all trauma floats away.  I am mildly hopeful as we have noticed a difference in 24 hours.  Less panting, less moving around trying to get comfortable, less sleepless nights for both of us. He still needs an assist on the steps but not quite so much.  CBD oil has helped too.  Oh the life of a geriatric pup. But beach time takes many years off and makes him so happy.  So many more trips to the beach this year!  Life is better with dogs...... I think they make us better humans. 

It's been a month of weaving too.  I am teaching a workshop this Saturday for Winter Weave in Willoughby, Ohio.  We are making these small pots in 8 hours.  These ladies better have wicked fast fingers.  I am teaching the last day of the three day weaving packed intensive workshop and hope their fingers aren't seized up.  

Putting kits together for the first time and writing out directions on the process I've been perfecting for so many years has been daunting.  As a maker, my job has been to get from point "A" to "B" and not worry about the little stuff.  Little stuff; how many wire spokes, threads, beads, miles of waxed linen, tools used etc are in each final piece.  You just do it.  For each kit everything is counted out, labeled and packaged.  Who knew there were 288 pieces of thread around each of those little pots or over 100 beads.  The math alone sent to a dark place, something I don't experience when weaving.  I have been making these pots a long time and never counted anything or even my time.  I just knew what I wanted to achieve and got there.  I also never worried about anybody copying these pots because no one in their right mind would ever make these pots but I love making these little pots and big pots too. 

 Ask me on Sunday morning if I would do this again.  I am looking forward to meeting other weavers! 

After Sunday garden life begins and I can't wait!!  Winter weaving will be done and it will be time to move onto the rhythm of seasons, planting, seed sowing and birds singing.  I'm ready! 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

A Week of Sun!

 Blissful sun and outside time. 

All that pruning and time for chipping.  This chipper is a beast and got a pretty good work out this week.

The way back is pruned and piles sorted, something my OCD mind enjoys.  
So much needs to dry before it can be chipped.  

After seven days of dry weather the lawn mower even fired up, in February!  
Not to cut grass but more to mulch leaves for the compost pile and garlic.  Nice to see green shoots of garlic breaking through the ground and then unceremoniously covered again.  The mulch helps with the wild temperature swings.  Last week we hit a high of 65F and next week we are projected to drop to 15F.  
A bit of insulation will help (I hope). 

This part done and a wee bit of mulching makes me pretty happy;
 even though there is so much more to do! 

The germination on the seeds has been pretty good!  This is the first year I am using 
collected rainwater and couple caps of liquid fish emulsion every two weeks. 
Now I need to find my fan for a bit of circulation.  

The leeks never came up so I will plant a few more and hope for the best!   Black seeded simpson lettuce has not germinated well either so time for fresh seed.  Fingers crossed.  

In the clay world, chemicals are disappearing at an alarming rate! I use quite a bit of kaolin (EPK). When I started 40 years ago the general consensus among the great clay pontificators: "Oh we will never run out of EPK!" It's mined in Edgar, Florida.  Well I tried to order it last October and nobody had it, I mean nobody!  I have other kaolins I was subbing but I like EPK and don't need to make chemical adjustments.   Called my chemical supplier, two and half hours away and they could part with two bags (100 pounds) but only if I had ordered in the past.  Phew, I had!  I paid over the phone and said I'd be down in the morning.  Friday, a day I really should have been in the garden or fishing but I made a chemical run.  

I crossed the river and saw people fishing in shirt sleeves.  I cried.  As the year is advancing I am becoming more and more untethered to all the ceramics and clay.  As the mines close and chemicals disappear or become cost prohibitive to purchase I don't think I want to put the work into re-formulating glazes. I've become comfortable with these studios glazes over the years; I know their quirks and firing schedules. The stuff coming out of the ground and the world too is changing and we are exhausting world resources.  I'm not sure I want to be party to that anymore.  I think I'd rather spend my time regenerating soil, backyard food supplies, pollinators and making a haven for birds.  I am ready to divest my chemical hoard of Custer Feldspar (mine closed 2023), Gerstley Borate (mine closed by US Borax in 2000), Nytal talc (mine closed 2012) and host of other bags labeled and stashed in the studio.  Do I really need all the raku equipment?  I have beautiful Mark Ward burners that could go to a good home and free up space.  So much stuff... a talisman sieve used twice and 40 years of accumulation is just too much!   Spring cleaning is definitely happening in the studio this year!  

Saturday is hunt, gather and food prep day around here.  Butch has been tagging along recently and when I got home and unloaded it made me laugh!  

My pile.....

His pile.... otherwise known as; How'd that get in the cart? 

My list for Saturday food prep.... I don't think I could get much done without lists! 
Sunday is bread day and it's already on the rise.  

His and hers salads should last until Wednesday..... 

it's been a very good week.....