Archive for ‘Sustainable Living’

January 9, 2013

Why Buy Organic?

Often times I hear people say “Organic food is too expensive.”, or “Is it really worth it?”

The findings from this study prove exactly why Organic food is worth it.

Please read it and view the pictures of the rats in the study. It truly is more shocking than I expected.

Shock findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early

via Shock findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early.

December 20, 2012

And Now for the Chickens!

On the third day of Christmas da, da, da, da, da, da… three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree…  Scratch that.  We have three hens, but our hens are not French.  We also don’t have two turtle doves, but we do have two dogs, oh, but no partridge, just a cat.  But we do have a pear tree!  Two actually. Oh, and did you know that Partridge is a type of chicken.  I don’t have one, but discovered it the other day.  I love tidbits of information like that.  But you’re not here for that…

Back to the chickens.  As I said, we have three hens, but they are not French.  One is English, one is American and the other is probably American, no definitely American.  Anyway, as you may recall, we adopted “the girls” from a friend-of-a-friend of my Dad’s about a month ago.  They are all about a year and a half old, born around Memorial Day of 2011.  The girls, having had previous owners, already had names.  Jolene, Billina and Zydeco.  Although we contemplated renaming them, we really couldn’t come up with any names that seemed to make them worth changing.  I mean Souffle, Omelet and Scramble just didn’t seem right and besides these are chickens, hens if you will, so giving them egg names didn’t seem appropriate.  We came up with some other names too, but nothing really stuck so we decided to keep them as is.  Plus, all of our other animals were named before we adopted them and we kept those names, to honor their history in a way, so we thought we should do the same for the chickens.  I should clarify, when I say “we”, it’s mostly me, having conversations with myself, running it past the rest of the family for their input to which I usually get head nods and “sure” as a response, hence “we”.

And Now for the Chickens!

Jolene

Jolene

 First up is Jolene, named after the Dolly Parton song.  Jolene is a Buff Orpington, a breed originating from England. Jolene is at the top of the pecking order in our coop (both literally and figuratively).  She also got a bit stressed when she first moved in (hence the feathers missing from her chest in the picture above).  Jolene makes me laugh.  She’s curious, and the most trusting of me so far.  We think she was the first to lay an egg for us too but we can’t be certain because two of them lay brown eggs, she’s one of them.  Jolene really likes treats.  She prefers apples and carrots and attempts to eat an occasional finger if you don’t bring her treats.

Billina

Billina

Next up is Billina, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, an American breed developed in New York State, in the early 1870s.  Billina is named after the chicken in the Wizard of Oz books, specifically Ozma of Oz.  (I’ve never read it, but now need to.)  Billina is a bit of a funny girl.  She’s the quietest of all of them thus far.  She’s observant, confident, yet not the first to check anything out.  She’s always the last to come out in the morning and last to go in at night.  Billina also lays brown eggs.

Zydeco

Zydeco

And last but not least, Zydeco.  Zydeco is an Ameraucana, also known as an Easter Egger, an American Breed known for laying light blue, green or pinkish-brown eggs.  Although the previous owner wasn’t positive of the reason for her name (she shared ownership of the chickens with two others), Zydeco is a mixed genre of music (which I happen to like) found in Louisiana combining Cajun, Blues and Rythym and Blues.   Zydeco has yet to lay any eggs since moving to our place, but we saw proof at her previous home that she lays green eggs.  Zydeco is pretty cool.  I love her tail!  She’s a curious, but cautious girl so far, she still scampers a little when I go near her too.  Oh, and I think she might be the smartest of the girls too.  I swear she knows her name, more than once she’s turned and looked at me when I’ve said it.

The girls arrived a little over four weeks ago and just started laying eggs on December 12th (easy to remember 12-12-12).  At first it was one egg per day, then there were two, then one, then two.  We are still anxiously awaiting a day where we get three and that one of them will be green (which would mean Zydeco is finally laying).

First eggs from the girls!

First eggs from the girls!

As of right now, we have 11 eggs from the girls. You’ll notice a “J” and a “B” on the eggs above, there was a lot of squawking in the coop the other day.  Jolene made a big stink every time someone laid an egg so I happened to know which chicken laid which egg.  Just to clarify any confusion, the eggs did not come out with their initials on them (as my son briefly thought) I marked them to see if we could determine who laid the others.

You might wonder why we haven’t eaten any eggs yet.  Well, I’ve been saving them up to make custard pie.  Now I have plenty for a pie or two and some other treats.  Seriously can’t wait!  Oh, and yes, now I will start eating them for breakfast too.

Kate

November 6, 2012

The Stars Are Aligning

Do you love what you do?  Do you do what you love?  Do you wake-up excited to start your day?

I got a lot of sleep last night.  The most I can remember in ages, nearly ten and a half hours, which is unheard of for me, lately anyway.  And me feeling rested, really rested, is much like Magda on speed in the movie There’s Something About Mary.

In any case, the sleep did me well.  And today, I woke up, surfing through my thoughts.  Anxious for the chicken coop to be done so that the trio of hens can join us soon.  And my next thought was relief.  I applied for the Urban Farm Certification Program last week and then I got a response from the program director, letting me know that she received my application.  She had a St Louis area code.  Uh, oh.  Maybe my dream is a pipe dream.  I can’t go to St Louis for a year to learn about Urban Farming!  But alas, I got another email yesterday which showed two sites that completed the certification last year… in the Twin Cities… Whew!  Okay, back on track.

So I’ve been thinking.  When I started Walnuts n Pears, the blog, it was phase one to my dream business of having everything for living a healthy life,  mind, body and soul, all under one roof.  And my plan this year was to start teaching some classes, of which I did a handful, but now, I’m thinking maybe this concept could become a reality even sooner.  If I take the certification course, if I start teaching classes, if I turn my yard, garden and home into a classroom, then perhaps this thing, this dream, could become a reality.  Maybe I could offer the parts and pieces (a small store) to go along with the classes… I’m thinking out loud, or on paper, or well, virtual paper anyway, as a way to get my thoughts out there.  As a way to have you and the universe give me a little feedback.

Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply is one of my favorite stores.  I love their concept and they are a great resource, but they are in St. Paul.  What if there was something similar, yet different, in the Minneapolis side of the world?  Would you come?  The owners of Egg|Plant are great, I wouldn’t want to hurt their business, I would like to add to it.  Feed off each other, maybe?

This concept excites me.  Urban Farming excites me.  Plants and animals excite me.  Meditation calms me. 😉

It’s funny, I saw a link on my Facebook page today for Urban Farm Magazine.  I love that magazine.  I love growing things and I love teaching others how they can do the same.  I’m always anxious to learn more.  I think if you stop learning, if you think you know it all, then you truly stop living.  I hunger for more.  I love learning new things, whether it’s better ways to do what I’m already doing or something brand new.

So this might be it.  The stars just might be aligning.  The “What do you want to do when you grow up?” might be coming to fruition.  The funny part is, I have never really known what I wanted to do when I grew up.  As a child I wanted to be a teacher.  I guess that part of me is still there, but just not in the traditional sense.  I come from a family of teachers on my Mom’s side.  All of my Mom’s sisters either were or are teachers and while my Mom wasn’t a teacher for her career, she’s a tutor now that she’s retired and she absolutely loves it.  It makes sense that I too would want to teach, right?  But not always, not day in and day out.  But occasionally, yes!  I have too many other ideas and too much bottled-up creativity that I need to be able to use as well.  So what better way than turning Walnuts n Pears into the place I want to go.

Walnuts n Pears – Living today for tomorrow’s generation.  A place to come, learn and share ideas and resources for today, tomorrow and the days that follow. A little gardening, a little planning, a little planting, a little crafting, a little cooking, a little meditation, a little of this and a little of that, all fun stuff that is centered around living a mindful and sustainable life.

Obviously, I have to do a little more in the planning and prep and see what I can and cannot do on my own turf, but what do ya think?  Any ideas?  Thoughts?  Feedback?  Pros and cons?  Would you come?  What would you like to see?  What would you like to do?

I’m excited about the possibilities.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s to making subconscious dreams come to fruition!

Kate

September 27, 2012

Living Sustainably: WWGD (What Would Grandma Do?) Part II

For a while I’ve been trying to cut down and ultimately eliminate plastic in our home, with my primary focus being on plastic used on food or beverages.  I’ve gotten rid of plastic cups, and while I have cut way back on the use of plastic storage bags, there are some uses I haven’t found a replacement for yet.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to make extra of everything I make for dinner.  Some for lunches (including my son’s), some for freezing and some for sharing.  In the past, my storage method has been predominantly plastic.  Since then, I’ve replaced the containers for leftovers that will be eaten soon with glass containers or jars and lunches either get put into the same thing, a reuseable sandwich bag or a thermos, but the freezer stuff had me puzzled.  I’ve seen silicone containers, but have to say I feel my feelings are very mixed on them.  While I think the concept is great, I’m still so leery to put food in silicone whether it’s for baking or freezing because, while I have no background in the matter, my gut tells me that there’s something that’s just not right.  I have a fear that in a few years we’re going to hear that silicone is horrible and we need to stop using it.  So I’ve been on the quest for materials that have stood the test of time.

That brings me to today.  Okay, not quite.  That brings me to a couple of days ago.  I’d made a loaf of banana bread and decided, “That’s it.” I’m not putting it in plastic any more.  No Ziplock, no Saran Wrap, nothing.  That’s when I realized I had no idea what I was going to store it in. I wasn’t about to run out and buy a “freezer-safe” container for $25 or a set of them for $50 -$100 because that’s just ridiculous.  I tried to remember if I knew life before plastic and all I could recall was waxed paper.  That’s when I decided to call my Mom.  I asked her, you guessed it, “What did Grandma do?  What did she wrap freezer stuff in?  What did she put left-overs in?  What did she put sandwiches in?”  (I actually have Snack Taxi’s, reusable sandwich bags, but they are in the wash so I needed a back-up concept.)  I was looking forward to getting great insight.  And I did, but not what I expected.

For starters, they didn’t have a freezer, they had a tiny ice box, so they didn’t freeze anything.  Ha, ha!  No WONDER my fridge seems so out-of-place in my kitchen!  The houses in our neighborhood were all built in the late 1930s – early 1940s, few years earlier than my Mom was born, but basically the same era.  No fridge, no freezer, that explains a lot!

Back to the plastic problem.  Next up: leftovers.  No leftovers.  There were six kids in the family so leftovers were non-existent.  Okay, I rolled the dice.  “How about your lunches?”  Can you guess it?  They didn’t pack a lunch.  Instead, they went home for lunch, but my Grandpa was a mail carrier on a rural mail route.  Grandma packed him a small lunch every day (finally some hope!).  A sandwich, wrapped in waxed paper, a thermos of coffee, and something my Grandma had baked, like banana bread or nut bread, wrapped in waxed paper!

So I didn’t get the answers I thought I would, but I did learn more than I thought I would.  I learned more about my Mom’s childhood and my Grandma’s way of doing things so I was already happy.  I also learned that I’m on the right track on one thing, or at least I think so.  While waxed paper isn’t reusable for very long (at least it doesn’t contaminate the food and will eventually break down) so for now I’m okay with that.

So I’m still on the quest to find better solutions for the freezer and for sharing, but at least the ball is in motion.

If you have a plastic-free method that you really like, please let me know!

Kate