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If you like this blog, please consider following our Facebook page!  I post interesting articles and fun links to resources regularly.  It’s a great place for interaction with the Rocking Homestead.

Also, feel free to follow me (Jessica) on Pinterest, where I pin a wide variety of really cool stuff.  I keep my boards very meticulously organized, if a board gets too big, I divide it up into sub categories (In the process of reorganizing my board “Garden and Homestead” into about 8 subsections right now).  You can find resources and inspiration for gardening, raising food producing animals, DIY and craft projects, holiday decor (my Halloween boards are EPIC), paleo cooking, size acceptance, feminism, natural parenting, bicycling, pregnancy and birth, and even fashion.

You can also follow Jeremy on Pintrest.  This is literally the only social networking he does.  His boards are much more woodworking, DIY, and Halloween focused than anything else.

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We look forward to connecting with all of you!

Weeding

I can’t tell you how often I am asked (or hear others ask) what works for weeds. This is a tough question to answer. What do you mean by “works”?

If you are meaning what will make them go away and never come back, the answer is nothing. Even in Carthage, where the Romans salted the earth so many centuries ago to obliterate any chance of culture forming there again, there is now fertile earth that supports, amongst many plant life, weeds.

But perhaps you mean just for your lifetime, or even just a year? Salting the earth might work for your lifetime, but for just a year, I’d say nothing “works”. Nothing organic, nothing that they sell at the hardware store or garden center, nothing will get them all for very long. Chemicals break down, and anything legal today is designed to break down fairly quickly to minimize it’s risk of getting into our water or doing long term damage to the soil (note: it still does those things, just to a lesser degree than, say, DDT). So if you spray something, it might kill the plants, but there may be seeds still in your yard that will outlast the chemical you sprayed, and will sprout and grow. Or new seeds will be blown in, or carried in by birds, mice, squirrels, etc.

Honestly, though, I’m skeptical that most chemical solutions, whether store bought (like RoundUp) or home made (like the dish soap and vinegar concoction everyone seems so fond of online) actually kill weeds. Having used them a few times in my life, I’m pretty sure all they do is wilt the leaves. So before long, they spring back, along with all those seeds in mentioned above. Meanwhile, we’re getting harmful chemicals into our water and air through spraying, and we’re killing off the micro biome in the soil that allows plants to get nutrients from the soil (which eventually end up in us and other animals that eat those plants), decompose dead things, and support any kind of life that hasn’t specifically evolved to thrive in sterile soil (in other words, weeds). The eventual outcome of spraying, yes, even vinegar, is the creation of soil in which only weeds can grow, and if the weeds have no competition for space from other plants, they will grow, aggressively. At that point, though, it’s probably good that the weeds grow. They’re the only thing that will bring life back to the dead soil.

Given this experience, and my knowledge of what these chemicals do to our water and the soil microbiome, my preferred methods of weeding are digging and torching. Digging is the most effective. When you get the majority of a root up out of the ground, you know that weed is dead and gone forever. Yes, it may have left seeds, but it won’t survive to make any more. If you don’t get the whole root, there’s still a chance that weed is dead, and even if it grows back, you’ve seriously stunted it’s ability to make seeds, meaning it might reproduce less this season than it would have had you not dug it.

Torching works much like spraying, but is way less toxic. And it’s kind of fun. I don’t think it gets the root very well in most cases, but it’s no worse than sprays, and way better for our soil and water.

I am not sentimental about weeds. You won’t hear me describing dandelions as wildflowers, or keeping lambs ear growing because it can be medicinal. I learned my lesson about letting purslane have a place in my garden, and I advise people to pull anything they don’t recognize in their garden. But I also have taken a realistic viewpoint on weeds, and stopped looking for some magic fix for them. Weeds will always be there, always keep coming, and I have to accept and make peace with the fact that I will always need to meet them to do battle against them in my yard. This is the nature of life, and frankly I would be scared and worried if something stopped their constant assault. The loss of weeds, plants that evolved with civilization to thrive in the destruction we reap upon all other life, would be a pretty big dead canary in our metaphorical coal mine. Weeds are our promise that life can find a way in even the most dismal conditions, and to find a way to squelch that permanently would spell certain doom for more delicate creatures, like ourselves.

Open Letter to Matt and Stacy of Paleo Parents

Today's open letter is to Matt and Stacy of Paleo Parents!

Today’s open letter is to Matt and Stacy of Paleo Parents!

I started writing this letter to Matt and (especially) Stacy from Paleo Parents in response to one of their newsletters I got recently, and started thinking that it would make a great open letter blog post!  I am huge fan of Matt and Stacy, for one, because their recipes are amazing, but also because Stacy is seriously inspirational.  She had a great deal of health problems before goingpaleo, and has managed to reverse almost all of them (actually, their whole family reversed health problems).  Furthermore, she has gotten involved in Strong Man competitions and can kick some serious ass out there.  I mean, she can totally lift cars and junk!!  That’s impressive.  It’s especially cool, I think, because Stacy is a woman of size.  Though she did lose a lot of weight goingpaleo, she still gets a lot of flack from haters for not having gotten thin enough for their standards.  Apparently, her excellent health and amazing strength are not enough for thesizists of the world, proving once again that their concerns aren’t over health, but rather justifying their own bigotry.  Standing up to those people have made her and her super supportive husband, Matt, the most prominent size positive voices in thepaleo community (in fact, they may be the only ones outside of me, I’m not familiar with any others). Continue reading

Subversive Health Eating Challenge

Subversive Health Eating Challenge

Recently, I tried participating in a body positive Whole 30 with Jen from Plus Size Birth and several other women in the plus size birth community. I say “tried” because I wasn’t successful. As I’ve discussed before, Whole 30 is just too rigid for life. At least the kind of life I want to lead. And about the only time of the year I can put my life on hold long enough to do an eating challenge is January. Nothing happens in January. Except the Super Bowl, I suppose, and I was able to stay mostly Whole 30 compliant with that last year. Continue reading

WTF, recycled toilet paper?

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Last time we went to Costco they were out of charmin. “Now is my chance,” I thought “to switch my family to recycled!” I thought this was an amazing opportunity, certainly my family would rebel against the move if it weren’t a necessity as it is now. I put the recycled toilet paper in the bottom of the cart with glee.

Can I just say now how much I hate this toilet paper?

Can someone please explain to me why recycled toilet paper can’t be soft? Or absorbent? Or strong enough not to disintegrate upon coming in contact with anything moist? Is only virgin paper pulp capable of producing these qualities, or something? Or is it just that makers of recycled toilet paper assume that all environmentalists want to suffer for their cause, so they make sure the toilet paper feels like sandpaper (albeit fine grain) and falls apart so easily you might as well be wiping with your bare hand half the time?

I don’t get it. Maybe if I did, it would be easier to make the sacrifice, but if the answer is just “caring about the environment means giving up everything comfortable”, fuck that.

I know a few years ago environmentalists were up in arms about quilted, double ply toilet paper because it is wasteful, but the fact is that I used three squares per job of Charmin (4 squares for occasional, messier than usual jobs), and I’m easily using 20 squares per job with this recycled crap. Which one seems more wasteful now? And sometimes this toilet paper is straight up painful! Like many women who have carried and birthed large babies (both of mine were more than 9 lbs at birth), I have lingering issues that are incredibly irritated by being scrubbed with paper the same texture as newsprint multiple times a day. Sometimes, when this problem is especially irritated, I like to spray a little witch hazel on some toilet paper and wipe with that, but that’s impossible with this toilet paper, if I even think about spraying a liquid on this toilet paper, it dissolves into paper mâché in my hands.

Recycled toilet paper (which is recycled from other paper products, not from used toilet paper) should be a no brainer. It makes zero sense to be wiping our asses with virgin wood pulp. What incredible gluttony!! But no one is going to get on board with this kind of thing if it’s miserable. Now if I want to get my family using something greener than Charmin, I’m going to have to pitch the family cloth idea, and that is not going to to be an easy sell, let me tell you. More likely, our venture into recycled toilet paper will lead us right back to Charmin, unfortunately. Recycled toilet paper totally fails.

Curry Avocado Egg Salad

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I’ve never been a big fan of egg salad until I had high tea at the Brown Palace last spring and had their delicious curry egg salad tea sandwiches. I told myself I would have to recreate it but never got around to it until I was inspired by my friend Jen who was making a roast pepper and curry egg salad recently for a meal during her Whole 30. When she posted about it, I made my own version that very day and it was great! Continue reading

Big Fat Lies

Once upon a time there was a woman of size who wanted to get pregnant. She had had three pregnancies in the past, all of which ended in the birth of healthy baby girls, who had each grown healthy and happy. She knew she would have to seek fertility treatments to get pregnant, as she had needed to with her third pregnancy due to severe PCOS. She also knew that she had type 2 diabetes, which developed during her third pregnancy, but that it was well managed by her diet and activity. Continue reading

Interior design for function over form

If I were to live in a tiny house, it would be a fancy one like this.  Picture obtained from http://tinyhousesmallspace.tumblr.com/

If I were to live in a tiny house, it would be a fancy one like this. Picture obtained from http://tinyhousesmallspace.tumblr.com/

Lately, I have been reading about tiny houses and dense living conditions. Living in a tiny house has a lot of benefits, both personally and environmentally. The smaller your house, the less you spend to heat and cool it, the less you spend on utilities, the less crap you tend to accumulate. Smaller houses are cheaper, and use fewer resources both in building and maintaining. It also frees up more space in your yard, you get more yard out of a smaller property if your house is taking up minimal space. Continue reading