Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Garden Ups and Downs

KIA at the garden

Gardening here in North Idaho has been a bit frustrating. I really thought I had a grasp on things this year. I started my seeds at the right times indoors, planted my squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers in peat pots so no to disturb their roots, and started my carrots early, but not too early. Of course the weather isn't cooperative. It turned out the last week or so of may was way unseasonably hot. We didn't keep our carrot seeds watered enough and they came up very sporadically. The long wave of warm weather seemed to bring overconfidence so I planted my tomatoes, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and some of my peppers and tomatillas the first week in June. But then, we got two frosts in a row the second week in June. All my cucumbers, several tomatoes, half of my pumpkins, squash, and eggplants were killed. I had a couple starts still at home, but was forced to start the cucumbers by seed and pick-up a few tomatoes at farmers market. We'll see if the short growing season will be long enough. The next problem to hit were voles. Those little buggers ate the roots of 7 of my brassicas which ended up shriveling and dying.

Now it seems as though things are mellowing out. We have mulched about half of the garden and have planted more carrots (and have been keeping them watered). The weeds aren't too out of control yet. Anyhow, heres to hoping for a good season. How is everyone's garden doing?

KIA's garden teepee-Moh made this with scrap canvas

I'm glad KIA isn't afraid to get dirty

Monday, June 08, 2009

Poultry Update

It's amazing how days turn into weeks during spring.  Yard work, gardening, job-work, and the desire to "play" outside all mesh together to create a busy schedule.  I've also been busy getting the chicken coop and duck house finalized.

KIA hanging with the ducks
A couple weeks ago, one of the ducks, became injured.  We assumed that Emma our border collie herded it onto the steep hillside where she over exerted her leg.  She wasn't instantly lame, but started walking less and less.  The other ducks didn't want to leave her when they went out foraging.  We actually got to a point where we were going to put her down, but decided she still seemed healthy and had an appetite.  Instead, we decided to pamper her by bringing her feed and placing her in a tub a couple times a day for water therapy.  Well, now she seems better.  She can walk, albeit more of a hobble.  We also moved them up to the flat area of our yard where it's easier for them to walk around.
The new duck house
 I converted our cold frame into a "duck tractor".  They forage in the day and we lock them in the tractor at night.

The chicken coop now has chickens in it.  The chicken coop made from all used or salvaged materials (except nails and screws)

We had some friends give us two bantam hens and a bantam rooster. The bantams in their new home
 The white hen is currently brooding.  She has a couple fake eggs that she is keeping warm.  This Wednesday we have a few chicks coming in that we'll place under the hen in the evening.  We're hoping she will keep them warm so we can avoid carrying down the heat lamp.  Maybe that will be the next update........

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Not the Best Items to Impulse Buy

The other day I was at our local Coop Country store to buy some peat pots for my squash starts when the saleslady came up to me and asked if I wanted any ducklings. They had recently gotten their shipment in and I guess were eager to unload them-perhaps so they would no longer have to take care of them. I had to go look at them.
 The ducklings early on

Earlier that day Moh had called and told me KIA was grumpy from teething and a cold. She told me to pick up a little treat, probably with something like ice cream in mind. I decided the ducklings were a better choice. We had been considering getting some chickens, but I wanted to build a coop first. I hoped the ducks may kick me into gear to start building.

So I picked out three. Nobody there knew the sexes or the varieties so I hoped for the best. I wanted a couple females so we could get some eggs and hopefully a variety that was a good layer. I don't care for duck meat, and after naming them I'm sure butchering would not be an option.
 Their first home

At home we set them up in a big plastic tub. I figured that would buy some time to finish the outside shed. Not the case. They grew much faster than I anticipated. Next thing I knew we were moving them into the cold frame I just built. The broccoli and brussel sprouts would have to wait.
 The cold frame home - Cheap entertainment

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Local Flavour: Common Knowledge Coffee and Tea

I have decided to follow in The Fool's footsteps and attempt some posts on the local flavour of North Idaho, especially around Sandpoint proper. I was inspired by reading many of his posts on Homer a couple months ago.
The side of Common Knowledge with mural by local artist and friend Dianna Schuppel

Sandpoint is largely a tourist town, boasting a ski hill (Schweitzer Mountain) nine miles from town for the winter months and the summer months containing endless outdoor activities involving Lake Pend Oreilles and the two mountain ranges it's wedged between. Still, Sandpoint contains enough locals to keep Sandpoint from being a sterile tourist town. One such asset is Common Knowledge Coffee and Tea House, which is also a used bookstore. Not only do they have the best espresso and loose leaf tea in town and great organic food, it is also a hub for progressive activism. Shelby, the owner, is on the Sandpoint Comprehensive planning board and groups such as Sandpoint Transition and the community garden often meet there. Additionally, it even attracts progressive speakers and authors such as Jim Hightower and as in yesterday"s case, Amy Goodman, whom I was fortunate enough to catch (even though I was over an hour late to work.)
Amy Goodman speaking at Common Knowledge

It was great to see Amy Goodman in such a familiar and casual environment. A lot of people were packed into the small area to hear her speak and get a book signed. She was running late, so it gave many the opportunity to sit around and discuss politics and current community projects. I sat right across from the Sandpoint mayor who seemed very excited to hear Amy Goodman speak. One thing that I did notice was the lack of youth in the audience. There were a few of us in our thirties and I saw one friend in his twenties, but the majority were 50 and 60 year olds. Sandpoint is not a college town, so many of the 20 year olds have skipped town for something better.
Coffee Bar

Still, a tip of the hat to Common Knowledge. A place that definitely makes Sandpoint a better community.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

More Earthday Mockery

Well if the anti-environment crowd can beat a dead horse, so can I.  Glenn Beck was back to being an ignorant smart-ass mocking Earthday on his show again.  Check it out, please. He then goes into a tirade and spouts this nonsense;

"You can't make wind energy work without nuclear energy as well. Wind stops"

I'm sorry, I really don't see his appeal.  I have several friends that like this guy, but I just don't get it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Will Stupidity Ever Cease?

I'm not sure how many people have heard of Earth hour.  For those of you who haven't heard of it, it was a symbolic hour that took place yesterday evening at 8:30pm in which many people shut off their lights to recognize the threat of global warming.  But as we all know, there are plenty of naysayers out there that fail to see the writing on the wall.  I do agree that no one is really certain of what will happen, but hey, we should still look for alternative energy options and practice conservation methods at all cost.

However, today I was wasting some time browsing through the Crooks and Liars Blog and came upon an entry about some creative dissidents like this moron who believes himself to be so hilarious. He even wrote up his own pledge
"I do solemnly swear that I will honor Earth Hour by turning on every light in my residence at 8:30 p.m. on March 28, 2009, for one hour. God said, “Let there be light.” Who are we to argue?"
He also reassures those who chose not to turn on all of our lights that there is hope for killing the planet by posting;
"BTW, if you can’t turn on all your lights tomorrow night, you should at least take a leisurely drive to spew fossil fuels into the atmosphere or eat a nicely grilled (on charcoal) animal of some kind."

Another moron
that apparently worships Rush Limbaugh provides a great list of ways to cancel out Earth Hour with ideas such as burning tires and styrofoam.

The sad thing is I think these guys are serious. Even sadder is it's not just a few right-wing bloggers, but even Fox News manages to mock global warming and promote waste (I guess that really isn't surprising).  Beck shows this stunt which helps prove my point of the douchebag he really is.

I mean come on people, even if one doesn't believe in global warming, why promote waste.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Seed Starting (I hope it's not too early)

Earlier this week we finished planting most of our indoor seed starts. I still plan on starting some leeks, squash, pumpkins, and melons-the last three planned for mid April. This year we started them according to the moon. From what I have read, most plants (not bulbs or tubers) do best when started when the moon is in a water sign and in the first quarter. We started ours in Pisces just before the new moon. We did some moon planting last year which seemed to have decent results (perhaps it was just luck). Still, to me, it is interesting to keep track of the moon cycles and feel with the rhythm of the earth. My only hope is we didn't start the plants too early. Afterall, there still is over a foot of snow on the ground and although the days are noticeably longer, I look at the newly sprouted tomatoes and think "wow, am I really going to be able to plant these this year?" It really has been a long winter.