Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Archive for the ‘Contributors’ Category

HOMEGROWN Life: Halloween that is a little more green

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

 

HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREEN-150x150It is approaching quickly! I am talking about Halloween, one of the funnest holidays of the year. It is also one of the most wasteful. This year, may be a good time to switch up and start some new Halloween traditions or maybe revisit some from your childhood, like handmade treats and costumes. I can still remember all of the amazing costumes that my mom made for me and my sister each year. You can save a lot of money and make a lot of great memories.

Decorations

  • Avoid buying new plastic and make your own decorations.
  • Mix handmade in with previous purchased decorations.
  • Re use or gather natural items to decorate like gourds, leaves and eco-friendly candles.

Check out these beautiful vintage decorations you can find at yard sales.

Treats

  • Try to buy locally made candy, organic or fair trade.
  • Organic cereal bars, honey sticks, or lollipops may be good substitutes.
  • Choose candy with the least amount of packaging.

Click here for a list of eco-friendly candy selections.

Skip the candy and give eco-crayons, eco-play dough or stickers.

Trick or Treat Bag

  • Use a basket, canvas or nylon bag that can be reused each year or for another purpose.
  • Save money and use a pillow case.

Click here to enter your child’s Halloween design to Chico Bags!

Trick or Treating

  • Don’t litter. Take an extra bag to pick up wrappers.
  • Walk or ride a bike. Avoid driving house to house or share rides with neighbors.
  • Use hand-powered flashlights.

Costumes

  • Skip the cheap plastic costumes.
  • Make a unique one yourself! Try batwings out of a broken umbrella.
  • Look for places renting a costume if you don’t have time to make one.
  • See if you can get a costume on Freecycle. Have one? Post it for someone else.
  • Make your own face paint. (See recipe below.)
  • Plan a costume swap party with your friends or at your child’s school.

RECIPE: Face Paint Made with Natural Food Coloring

from the Campaign for Cosmetic Safety

Natural food coloring is available at health food stores and typically derived from foods and spices. We recommend reading up about natural food colorings and potential allergies first. Do not substitute conventional food coloring, which may contain synthetic chemical ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
  • Natural food coloring (see note above)

Instructions:

  • Mix a few drops of natural food coloring into the base ingredient of your choice. Test on a small patch of skin before applying to face or body.

RECIPE: Face Paint Made with Food

Make sure young children understand they can’t eat these paints unless you make them without the base. Test a small patch of skin first to make sure your child isn’t allergic to the food you’re using.

Ingredients:

  • Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
  • Turmeric, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, beets, avocado, spirulina, cocoa, chocolate sauce, squid ink or other colorful foods, juices, herbs and spices

Instructions:

  • Yellow: Add 1/4 tsp. and a large pinch of stale turmeric to base.
  • Pink: Using a sieve, mash the juice from 3 fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, blackberries or beets directly into the base. Or, use a deeply colored berry juice or puree.
  • Mint green: With a fork, mash 1/4 of a small avocado until creamy. Mix this into your base.
  • Emerald green: Add small amount spirulina or bright green chlorophyll to base.
  • Purple: Using a sieve, mash the juice from several fresh or frozen blueberries into the base. Or, use blueberry juice.
  • Brown: Add cocoa powder or chocolate sauce to base.
  • Black: Use a small amount of squid ink in base for true black.
  • White: Mix powdered sugar and water.

MORE FROM RACHEL:

Rachel-Dog-Island-Farm1Rachel’s friends in college used to call her a Renaissance woman. She was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. She still is. Instead of crafts, her focus these days has been farming as much of her urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with her husband, she runs Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. They’re always keeping busy. If Rachel isn’t out in the yard, she’s in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

PHOTO: we heart it

HOMEGROWN Life: A Tiny Life, Remembered

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

HOMEGROWN LifeWe lost one tiny life today on the farm. One so small, if you weren’t really watching, you might miss it.

One of the turkey chicks was showing a little weakness yesterday as it wandered around the garden, being carefully watched over by both it’s parents. It was back in the coop in the evening, eating with the other little ones so I thought maybe it had just gotten a little tired exploring all day. When you’re only 3 inches tall, it’s a big world out there.

IMG_5815

But then, this morning, when I opened the coop to offer the new flock it’s breakfast, I noticed the same little one was not looking refreshed and seemed to be struggling. I snatched it up and took it to the barn. I have an emergency station set up in case of needing some extra heat or a bit of sugar water for a weak chick to give it a boost. I popped this little one in and turned on the warming light. It was standing, although it was obvious it was making a great effort to do so. I prepared a tiny dish of water and added a drop of molasses to it, instant energy. I offered it a bit on the end of a dropper but it was spending all it’s energy just staying upright so I didn’t force it.

Knowing that sometimes, just a bit of extra heat can make the difference between life and death, I left it standing under the light to provide it additional warmth. A sorry substitute for snuggling under Mom or Dad admittedly, but Mom and Dad were pretty busy at the moment getting their breakfast and keeping their eye on the other tiny yellow bits in the coop.

IMG_5807

Every 15 minutes for the next couple of hours, I went out to the barn to check on this little one. After the 3rd or 4th check, it was receptive of a drop or two of the vitamin rich molasses water. It opened it’s tiny eyes after having them closed from the time I brought it in the barn, blinked, and I was hoping we were maybe, just maybe, turning a corner.

I wish I could say there was a happy ending to the morning but, there’s not. The little one lost it’s battle with weakness.

What difference does it make that one tiny farm animal doesn’t make it? After all, there are plenty more where that one came from, right?

But when I think of all the effort that went into bringing this little one into the world, I feel a little sad for losing it. It’s Mom spent 3 weeks, laying one egg a day to create the nest of 21 eggs, nestled in the catnip bed. She spent the next 4 weeks sitting on the eggs, carefully turning each one daily, rotating them under her to spread her warmth evenly over them.

I covered her with the wheelbarrow at one point, to shade her from the blazing summer sun and the rains and offered her dishes of water and food to keep her comfortable.

When the eggs hatched, 15 new Royal Palm turkey lives filled the garden and the coop with their tiny yellow fluff and little feet, following their Mom and then their Dad wherever they went. Now, there is one less.

Losing this little one brought back memories of when I drove across country with one of my son’s friends. If you’ve never done it, put it on your bucket list. We were crossing Iowa. The land out there is so huge, you can’t imagine it. Fields of wheat stretched to infinity. It was then it occurred to me how small we all are. Specks. It also occurred to me the importance of each speck.

This tiny chick was an important speck on the Bittersweet Farm, even for it’s short life. I’ll miss you little turkey. You gave it a good fight, and you left a tiny mark on this humble farm. I won’t forget you.

shapeimage_2

MORE FROM DYAN:

HOMEGROWN-life-dyan-150x150Dyan Redick calls herself “an accidental farmer with a purpose.” Bittersweet Heritage Farm, located on the St. George peninsula of Maine, is a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farm stand full of wool from a Romney cross flock, goat milk soap, lavender woolens, and whatever else strikes Dyan’s fancy. Her farm is also an extension of her belief that we should all gain a better understanding of our food sources, our connection to where we live, and to the animals with whom we share the earth.

PHOTOS: DYAN REDICK

HOMEGROWN Life: Growing Tender Celery

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

 

HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREENI’m fairly new at celery as this is only my third year growing it. I guess that’s because I’m not the biggest fan of it. It’s got its place but it’s just not a vegetable I use that often. Tom likes it better than I do so we figured we’d give it a try. Of course our last two years were filled with tough, stringy stalks because I was a beginning celery grower and didn’t know what the tricks were.

celery

One of the tricks to growing tender celery is to give it a lot of water. Well, I live in California where it doesn’t rain throughout the summer. I’d feel terribly guilty if I had to dump a bunch of our precious water on the celery just to have tender stalks. One of the things I’ve noticed while growing celery is that it doesn’t come out with nice, thick, upright stalks that are all clustered together in the center. It’s more spreading and shrub like. But dumping water on it doesn’t seem to solve the problem of short stalks, does it? No, really, I’m asking because I haven’t tried dumping a bunch of water on celery.

cardboard

There is another option though for producing tender celery. A farmer taught me about a trick they use for growing celery. Blanching the stalks with these rectangular cylinders that you slide over the plant. It keeps sunlight from reaching the stalks while forcing the plant to grow straight and bunched, which makes them thick and tender. You can buy these special cylinders or you can use half gallon milk cartons with the tops and bottoms cut off. We don’t drink commercial milk so that wasn’t really an option for us. Instead we used cardboard and the ubiquitous duct tape.

folds

The process was pretty easy. Just cut 18″x8″ rectangular pieces of cardboard and then fold them in half. Fold each half in half again so that when it stands up you’ve got an 8″ tall cylinder.

taped

Duct tape the seam closed. That’s it. Super simple.

sleeved

The celery should be about as tall as the cylinder or a bit shorter. You just want the leaves popping out of the top. Grab the plant pulling all of the stalks together and slide the cardboard tube over them. Now just wait for the plant to be ready for harvest.

MORE FROM GARDEN HELP FROM RACHEL:

Rachel-Dog-Island-FarmRachel’s friends in college used to call her a Renaissance woman. She was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. She still is. Instead of crafts, her focus these days has been farming as much of her urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with her husband, she runs Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. They’re always keeping busy. If Rachel isn’t out in the yard, she’s in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

PHOTOS: RACHEL