Monday, June 30, 2008

Keep Yer Cool Challenge

If you're living under an enviro-blog rock, you may not be aware of Crunchy Chicken and her sometimes outrageous, alway challenging... uh, challenges. Here's the latest:

Keep Yer Cool Challenge

Some of her challenges are a little too skeevy for me, but I tell you, the woman gets ya thinking. I only started reading her blog about a month ago, and it's already one of my can't-miss faves. So I'm happy that she's running a challenge I'm not too grossed out to participate in.

Click on the logo for more info on the Keep Yer Cool Challenge. I signed up for No Air Con - I can't wrassle those window units into place by myself, so we're making do with fans this year, like it or not. Now, the office is obviously a different story since I don't control the thermostat there. And the van AC is definitely going to be on as the van doubles as a solar cooker otherwise, and I prefer my kids to arrive home uncooked.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reel Mower Update

more cat pictures

I felt like that kitty today after using my newly sharpened reel mower on the front yard. Woo hoo!

I tell ya, a good sharpening makes all the difference. The mower worked okay before, but now it's much better.

Some people say a reel mower only works well on flat, well-groomed traditional lawns. Mine is not that kind of lawn. Mine is a hodgepodge mix of sunny patches with semi-decent grass, deep shade with nothing but low-growing moss, and the rest, which is pretty much all broad-leafed weeds. In fact, I laugh when I see ads for broad-leafed weed killer - if I used that, I'd have almost no "lawn" at all!

Guess what the reel mower works best on? Small, broad-leafed plants like clover and wild violets. In fact, if I had my way, I'd happily overseed the lawn with those two plants. They are so pretty in the spring, blooming before the rest of the grass is long enough to cut, and they don't get very tall unless you really let them go.

That said, it's confession time. I only got the front yard done. This is the smaller portion. The back yard is probably close to .5 acre - and it's hilly. And the grass is almost knee high in spots because I let it go a leetle too long.

I think it's stopped raining, so I'm off to tackle the back yard. Send water. (Or beer.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Factory Farming + Floods = Bad News

The following was swiped liberally from Yahoo. Bold is mine. Full article here.


In Des Moines, where a levee failure Saturday sent water pouring into the Birdland neighborhood, some residents returned for the first time to see the damage.

Where floodwaters remained, they were a noxious brew of sewage, farm chemicals and fuel. Bob Lanz used a 22-foot aluminum flatboat to navigate through downtown Oakville, where the water reeked of pig feces and diesel fuel.

"You can hardly stand it," Lanz said as he surveyed what remained of his family's hog farm. "It's strong."

LeRoy Lippert, chairman of emergency management and homeland security in nearby Des Moines County, warned people to avoid the floodwaters: "If you drink this water and live, tell me about it. You have no idea. It is very, very wise to stay out of it. It's as dangerous as anything."

Mixed into the floodwaters are pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer from Iowa's vast stretches of farmland.

Ken Sharp, environmental health director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, acknowledged that the floodwaters could make people sick. But he said the sheer volume of water can dilute hazardous substances.

The flooding also raised concerns of contamination in rural wells, said G. Richard Olds, professor and chairman of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

"For rural folks, it's going to be hard to know if their water's safe or not," he said.


Eat local. Grow 'em if you've got 'em. (And all the more reason for me to get those tomatoes in the ground - soon!)

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Melanie from Bean Sprouts has posted today about joining your local Freecycle group. I couldn't agree more. Freecycle is a great way to get items you need or want for free, as well as a great way to get rid of things you don't need anymore and saving them from the landfill.

One thing I wanted to add to Melanie's excellent post, is that you don't HAVE to get a bunch of emails. In Yahoo Groups (which you must join to participate), you can opt for digest emails, which group together 25 or so posts in one email. Or you can opt out of emails altogether.

Here are some of the things I've recently gotten from other local Freecyclers - a big bag of blue jeans to wear and for crafts, an old manual typewriter for the kids to mess around with, some old blue canning jars and tons more.

Some things I've given away on Freecycle include clothing (both good and worn, although I disclose if clothing needs some extra care before use), packing paper, moving boxes, old towels for pet bedding, etc.

As a receiver, you never know what you can get, so it's worth asking. As Melanie points out, it's generally bad form to ask for luxury items, but this may vary depending on your location. We live in a somewhat affluent area, so asking for, say, an older digital camera is not necessarily seen as bad manners here.

And as a giver, you never know what people want. So again, worth asking!

Once you're in the group for a while, you get a feel for which items are popular and definitely worth your time listing.

Make sure you read your group's rules. Each group's moderators determine limits on things permitted. For example, our group does not allow animals to be traded on the group. They used to disallow plants, but reversed that decision.

Once you've signed up, head over to Bean-Sprouts and vote in Melanie's poll!