January 28, 2010
This is our worm bin (between Charlie’s bowl and toys.) Here it is 2 tier; at the moment it is 3 tier. It is made from ordinary plastic bins with lids. There are wood pieces inside to space the tiers about 8-10 inches apart.
The upper tier/s have holes drilled around the sides and in the bottom – this gives the worms air and allows excess liquid to drain into the bottom bin (which has no holes).
The worms were ordered from Uncle Jim’s worm farm (I’ve seen the Google ad on this page). They are special “red wigglers”, not earthworms. They come through the mail in a special moist package labeled “live worms.” We use strips of newspaper that are moistened as “bedding.” Kitchen scraps can be buried in the bedding…just about any kind of scraps (except meats, fats, oils and excessive citrus rinds). Coffee grinds, I hear, are a favorite of worms.
January 20, 2010
Here’s another beautiful picture from last May…proof that spring WILL come again!!
January 17, 2010
Here’s a photo of the inside of a worm bin (in which worms eat the kitchen scraps and produce compost), which I’ll talk about later…but the exciting news is that I was searching the net for information on how to make your own potting soil, and I hit the jackpot!! This fantastic site is administered by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, in part by a grant from the USDA, specifically for organic growers, and even tiny ones like us can benefit. There are scads of recipes for potting soil, not to mention discussions on each ingredient, the sustainability of using peat moss, etc., etc. Here’s the link:
Many thanks to whoever put this information together!!
January 14, 2010
Charlie (after a haircut he looks skinny)
This is Charlie, our Cocker Spaniel. He is 3 years old. His job is to chase deer, groundhogs, and other unwanted critters. Early this morning he chased a fox. But his main job is to be a companion dog. He’ll sit by the window and if he sees anything to chase he’ll bark to be let out, but after a couple of minutes he’s right back at the door wanting to come in. He’s also a foodaholic.
This photo was taken right after the big snow in December. You can see a deer which Charlie (by the garden gate) is trying to chase, but the snow is too deep and he can’t get over to where the deer is. The deer usually wait until the last second to run…sometimes Charlie actually has to slow down so as to not actually catch one!
January 12, 2010
Buttermilk, whole milk, half & half, butter and yogurt
Today we got our first delivery from South Mountain Creamery, a dairy located in Frederick County, Maryland, about a 30 minute drive from here. It’s exciting to have a source of local dairy products. In evaluating our meals and how local they are, the dairy products were always a negative since they came from the local supermarket and were probably shipped hundreds of miles. These products are more expensive than what we pay at the store, but if you figure in the hidden costs of fuel, questionable nutrition/use of chemicals, possible mistreatment of animals, all of which are not an issue with this local dairy (they say we can visit them any time!), we may as well pay more.
Seems like back to the old days, when we were growing up, and milk was delivered to the door. Also, the bottles are reusable, of course!! Now we are on our way to becoming true locavores!!
January 6, 2010
Here’s a picture of our geothermal heat pump, at least the basement part. A large loop of pipe goes underground outside the house and a liquid in the pipe transfers the ground temperature (55 degrees) to the heating system, so the heat pump works very efficiently. The same method is used to cool the house in summer.
We also use a wood stove, often in the evenings, which makes the living room more cozy, but on lazy days the heat pump does just fine.
A book that was helpful in our research is Natural Home Heating by Greg Pahl.
January 4, 2010
(I originally wrote this on New Year’s Day but had some technical difficulties…now here it is!)
It’s the first day of 2010…a grey, gloomy, cold day. We both woke up feeling tired and depressed (no, we didn’t party the night before unless you count watching an episode of old Star Trek), but we had pancakes for breakfast and then Mike lit the fire in the woodstove and we made coffee…life’s not so bad after all!!
Speaking of coffee, for Christmas I bought Mike (and me, I guess!) a hand coffee grinder at O’Hurley’s General Store…here’s a picture:
…You put the coffee beans in the top and turn the wheel for a minute or so and the ground coffee comes out into the drawer at the bottom.
…So, in the grand scheme of things, does this save much energy? Is it worth the manual labor? Maybe it’s silly and insignificant (after all, how much energy does an electric grinder use?) but it’s a step in the right direction…it gives a certain amount of psychological satisfaction. Some people say they enjoy the ritual of making their espresso every morning (not to mention the Japanese with their tea ceremony), so maybe this fits into that category.