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Also, feel free to follow me (Jessica) on Pintrest, 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.

Finally, you can connect with me on Instagram.

We look forward to connecting with all of you!

Positive sedation

As long as others have less than me
I shouldn’t think about wrongs in my community.
I should just be grateful for what I have
And ignore the fact that I’m getting the shaft
It could be much worse, you see
There are those who can’t feed their family
And children sold into slavery
So I mustn’t examine my own tragedy
But I’m feeling like this is just a means
Of hiding the fact that we haven’t seen
A small few have managed to accumulate
Enough to ensure our lesser fate
Maybe gratitude makes it harder to see
That the shit has been dispersed less than evenly,
That we pay the price for what the few take
And bear the weight of our collective mistake
I want to be grateful for my blessings in life
To focus on positives, not just strife
But sometimes it’s just too hard to ignore
That those with the most just keep taking more
And I may be better off than some
But in the end we’ve all been robbed, each and every one
By those few who hoard what we work to create
And toss us the scraps from their golden plates
And I’m tired of being told “be glad you’re not he!”
As if his life exists to drive fear into me
That’s not gratitude, no, it is fear mongering
The truth is we both deserve more

Tomato blooms, squash growth, and tiny citrus. More rocking on the homestead

I figured I’d catch you guys up on how the gardening is going.  Here is the view from the deck.

Our patio garden

Our patio garden

Our tomatoes are looking amazing, with lots of blossoms and some fruit already ripening.  Their increased size necessitated caging them.  I’m so excited for harvest time!  I have a life philosophy that says you can’t have too many tomatoes.

Tomato blossoms

Tomato blossoms

Tomato blossoms

Tomato blossoms

Tomatoes, carrots, and chard

Tomatoes, carrots, and chard

Tomato cages

Tomato cages

My back yard kale became infested with aphids, so I pulled it out and replaced it with a couple more jalepenos.  I don’t know if I feel there’s no such thing as too many jalepenos, but I can sure stuff a lot of them with cheese and wrap them in bacon before I get tired of them.  Also, I have every intention of making lacto fermented salsa for the winter.

Aphids on kale

Aphids on kale

Peppers and lettuce

Peppers and lettuce

Peppers

Peppers

I’m not feeling too good about our vertical planters.  They are too hard to keep watered.  My strawberries and herbs are just dying a slow death, although some basil sprouts decided to make an appearance.  We may give up on these after this year, what do you think?

Strawberries in vertical planter

Strawberries in vertical planter

Basil sprouts

Basil sprouts

I bought some pots off of Craigslist back in March, and was told that one of them contained “wild onions”, which I intended to transplant somewhere permanent and put more tomatoes in the pot.  I never got around to it, so now these onions are doing their onion thing, and growing bulbs out of their leaves.  I had never seen this before, so I googled it.  Apparently these “wild onions” are actually Egyptian onions, otherwise known as walking onions.  Cool.

Egyptian onions, aka walking onions

Egyptian onions, aka walking onions

Our potatoes are about ready to bloom.  I need to get more dirt in around them to maximize harvests.  That made me remember that I needed to get compost out of the composter.  The idea is to mix compost with dirt and put it in around the potatoes.  We still have dirt from the bulk dirt we got to fill our pots.

Potato plants

Potato plants

As I dug out the compost, I had hoped to be able to run it through a sifter, to get the small parts to fall through into my wheel barrow, and the big parts to stay in the sifter, to be put back in the composter.  Unfortunately, the compost was far too wet to make it through the sifter, so I ended up having to dig through it with my hands (gloved, I’m not that into compost) to remove the big chunks.  I removed a fair amount, our composter is now about half as full as it was, and mixed it with dirt and a bunch of dry straw, to try and dry it out.  I knew it would probably still need some good sun to continue to dry it out before it was useable, but by the time I was done with all this, look what was rolling in.

Rain clouds

Rain clouds

We’ve been getting a ton of rain this summer, I’ve hardly even had to water.  But it’s no environment for drying out already sopping compost, so I decided to protect my wheel barrow of compost in the garage.

Compost

Compost

We have a couple of citrus trees that we put out in the summer and bring in like house plants in the winter.  They actually bloom and produce fruit.  We got tiny oranges off of one last winter (they tasted awful, but that didn’t stop Freja from eating a ton, peel and all) and it looks like we can expect more this year, as well as some tiny lemons.

Tiny orange and orange blossom

Tiny orange and orange blossom

Tiny orange

Tiny orange

Tiny lemon

Tiny lemon

My spinach has gone to seed, and I’m just waiting to harvest the seeds.  I’ll plant them in the fall.

Spinach going to seed

Spinach going to seed

Our crabapple tree is producing nicely.  Our neighbor behind us has a regular apple tree right next to our crabapple, and it has blight.  I was relieved to learn it would not spread to our crabapple.  I intend to make crabapple jelly, but want to look into what else can be done with them.

Crabapples

Crabapples

We have this weird weed I haven’t pulled simply because I think it’s cool looking.  I’ll probably regret this eventually.

Weird weed

Weird weed

My favorite addition to our garden this year has been our bird feeders.  It is so much fun to watch all the birds and the squirrels.  Freja is super into it.

Bird feeder

Bird feeder

Bird food

Bird food

Our squash are all growing and getting bushy.  Still waiting on blossoms and fruit.

Pumpkin plant

Pumpkin plant

And that sums up a tour of the Rocking Homestead in mid July, 2014.  Stay tuned for the addition of food producing animals!

 

Adding my drop to the bucket

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I’m not a person who does well in the heat, but running the AC uses so much energy. Energy that not only costs a fortune, but comes from power plants burning coal. That coal burning is putting loads of shit into our air that not only contributes to global warming, but contaminates our air, food, and water with dangerous toxins like mercury, that are very likely major contributors to a variety of serious health conditions like asthma, ADHD, ASD, and cancer.

This stuff hurts everyone. The pollutants have circulated so thoroughly through our water, air, and soil, that there is not a person on earth who isn’t exposed. Even fetuses are exposed, yes, even if it’s mother doesn’t eat fish (but while we’re on the subject, where do you think the mercury in fish comes from? Coal fired power plants). But even though we’re all being slowly poisoned by it, there’s no hiding who are most impacted; the poor.

Have you ever noticed how they don’t tend to build McMansions in the shadow of power plants? Power plants tend not to do much to boost property values. I guess rich people don’t like the views, or the smells, or the sounds, or the health risks of living near a power plant, and since they can afford to pay extra to not be exposed to that (directly), they do. It’s impoverished people (most of whom are women and children), for the most part, who live with the harshest impacts of pollution, both in the US and the world at large. And the poorer you are, the worse the impact is.

The same goes for climate change. A recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change found that poor people will be the ones most impacted by climate change. Which double sucks for them, because they’re also the ones who have contributed the least to it. Climate change is expected to cause wide spread famine, drought, plagues, floods, heat waves, etc. And the poor are the least sheltered from the impact of all of that.

Keeping my AC off in the summer may seem like a drop in the bucket for preventing all that, but it’s one drop I can give, so I’m going to give it. Also, it’s saving us about $60 a month.

I don’t think we’ve ever done an AC free summer in this house. It’s not ideal for it. We have a large swath of our house open to blistering southern exposure, and that’s also where all but one of our windows are. But Jeremy and I are determined. We are using our ceiling fans, keeping windows open, and wearing minimal clothes (hell, most days the kids are naked). We minimize cooking, and do our most strenuous chores early in the day, before it gets too hot. We keep lights off, blinds closed, and avoid running electronics. If it gets really bad, we might take a cool bath or run out to the library where the AC is running.

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Surprisingly, it hasn’t been that bad. When we started this mission, it wasn’t intentional. Every year we always go as long as we can without AC, but this year we noticed we’d made it all the way into June, and we started asking “How much further do you think we can go?” Which eventually morphed into “let’s shoot for all summer!” The fact that we could do this so easily with such a terrible house for temperature regulation makes me think it’s probably realistic that we could all pitch a drop into that same bucket.

I get that AC is very nice, I like it myself, but doesn’t it seem kind of frivolous? Honestly, we spend a ton of money and destroy a lot of resources just to obliterate any hint that seasons might be taking place inside our homes and businesses. I know houses can be built to really maximize cooling in the summer and warming in the winter, with very little, if any, energy input. I know this, because my mother’s home is just such a house. And there are things she could do, such as have a white roof or installing a whole house fan, that would increase the effect even more. Why would we not just design all of our buildings that way in the first place? I’m not saying that no one should be allowed AC, but if we designed our homes better, we’d probably need a lot less of it, if any.

Never experiencing temperature fluctuations and the air of the seasons just isn’t natural, and keeping yourself cooped up in a climate controlled box isn’t healthy either (in fact, you are more likely to get sick locked up in a home full of recycled air that everyone else is breathing their germs into, whether that air is chilled or heated). AC, like TV, coaxes us to stay locked away indoors, away from community and nature. It encourages us to sit in front of screens and stay still all day, isolated from our neighbors and the world. I think there is a good case to be made that AC, though pleasant, is mostly bad for us, like narcotics, or soda.

I think there’s something to expecting people to be able to tolerate temperature fluctuations. Summer is hot. Deal with it. Have we become so entitled and soft as a culture that we honestly can’t tolerate a warm day? Seriously? I feel like I’ve toughened up about heat a lot this summer, but it shouldn’t take a total badass to be able to handle a little heat. Most of us could do without air conditioning, and might be better off for it.

Of course, we still have to make it through the rest of July and August. And we haven’t gotten over 100 yet this year, so my tune may change. But I’m going to try really hard to power through. My drop in the bucket may be a little one, but it sends ripples through the whole bucket.

Deep convos with my oldest child : Boobs

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I love Elijah more than life itself, but sometimes I wonder how he came from me. It just seems like we have so little in common some days, I want to scream that both nature and nurture are bullshit!

And then there are times we have these little conversations that make me think “Oh yeah, there’s my handiwork!” Today was one of those days. Continue reading

Learning to love my face

I have, with much struggle, been learning to love my body and see it as beautiful. I have learned to speak positively about my body, my curves, it’s softness, it’s squishiness. I try to view it the way my children do, the way my husband does, the way I would view my baby. Amazing, perfect, miraculous, sexy, nurturing, snuggly, all that jazz. And I’m getting there. It’s a journey.

Continue reading

Happy Fourth of July!

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I have mixed feelings about the Fourth of July. As a child, it was one of my favorite holidays and I marveled at my luck (something I now recognize as privilege) to have been born in this, the greatest (richest) nation in the world. It seemed to me then that every other place in the world could not possibly offer the freedoms that we have here, and that most of those places were very hard places to live. Even as I grew, and better understood that the United States was not perfect, and that all places had their good and bad, I still assumed that the system in the United States was the best anyone had come up with yet (why else would everyone from other countries be so eager to come here?), and I was proud to be a part of it.

Continue reading

How the homestead is rocking

Here's Freja helping mommy garden.  Please excuse the smudge on my lens.

Here’s Freja helping mommy garden. Please excuse the smudge on my lens.

Well, our garden is in and like every year gardening, I’m learning a lot. We have 13 tomato plants (I think), 7 peppers, carrots, radish, lettuce, kale, spinach, 5 or 6 zucchinis, 3 spaghetti squash, 3 watermelon, 1 cantaloupe, 3 summer squash, 18 or so strawberries, herbs, and two pumpkins (just for S’s and G’s). I never ended up getting my cucumbers in and at this point I’m just going to have to live with that. Continue reading