Saturday, January 5, 2013

Worm Farming, An Unusual Type of Farmer

Few of you know that I am a farmer.  I'm not just any farmer.  I don't need big expensive equipment.  I don't need to get up early in the morning to milk cows or goats.  I don't need to feed chickens or collect eggs.  I am a worm farmer.  I have a worm farm and all they eat are kitchen scraps and shredded paper.  Once a year, in the spring, I take out the worms and set them up with a new home.  Then I use the worm castings and worm tea for my plants. Worm tea is the excess liquid that drains out from the worms processing the food and making the castings or it is some castings mixed with molasses and water.  It provides plants with many of the nutrients they need to grow well.   I purchased a plastic worm farm set up, but my good friend uses a plastic tote.  I didn't know about this less expensive and very effective system when I started my farm.

You can read more about the tote method at her website.  She will tell you everything about gardening from composting to growing wonderful produce.  She is very knowledgeable and her gardens were also published in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

This is my farm.  It consists of  4 trays and a base unit.  I started with some red worms that I purchased.  Yes, they sell red worms by the pound.  Then I just add left over peelings, coffee grounds and scraps.  No meat, dairy or citrus.  I shred all my junk mail and that goes in too.  I made the mistake when I first started to shred the envelopes with the clear plastic windows.  When the worm dirt was all done there were unprocessed pieces of plastic throughout the dirt.  I learned that I couldn't put them in.

I also have a compost pile outside because I have more than this can handle.  Don't ask me why I started this, but because of my worm farm/factory and my outside compost pile, I have very little trash going to the landfill.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Electric Pressure Cooker, My Favorite Small Appliance

A while ago I mentioned that I was going to talk about my favorite small electric appliances.  Number one on my list is the electric pressure cooker.  I have a Nesco but there are many different brands.  Mine is a refurbished one which costs less (about $55) and it works beautifully.   I cook a lot and it makes a meal in no time.  As a lot of you know, I make a lot of soup.  This cooker is such a time saver.  Even if you have a chunk of frozen meat, you can cook it perfectly in no time.  Two days ago I made chicken soup.  It took about 30-40 minutes from from start with frozen chicken legs to finish.  I put the frozen chicken in with some chicken broth.  I pressured it for twenty minutes.  While that was happening, I cut up carrots, celery, onion and garlic in my Vidalia which I mentioned in a previous post.  After twenty minutes, I took out the chicken to cool and put in the veggies.  I pressured them for ten minutes while I removed the meat from the legs.  I added in the meat and there you have it.  I usually cook a few noodles on the side because my family doesn't always care for certain noodles.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Story of the Weeping Fig Tree

Over 40 years ago we lived in a nice old house in Stoughton, Wisconsin.   It was in a lovely old neighborhood.    That is where our two daughters grew up.  They never did forgive us for selling that house.  We mistakenly believed when children go away to college, they leave.  We didn't realize that they come back with spouses and children and we would need more space than we did when they were children. 

We had a neighbor who did odd jobs for a local builder.  He would clean out houses and take unwanted items to the dump.  Sometimes he would bring home goodies.  That is why the shingles on his house were many different colors.  One day he came home with a Weeping Fig tree.  I should say it was a stick with a couple of leaves on it.  Either his wife didn't want it or he gave it to me, I don't remember the exact details.  Being one who could never kill a plant intentionally, I took it and put it in a pot.  Throughout the years it grew very slowly but it survived.  We moved it from place to place.  We repotted it every so often and trimmed it when it reached the ceiling.  We didn't pamper it which is why it is alive and well today. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Now you See it and Now you Don't

I learned something new today.  Over Christmas I took some photos, as I usually do .  Sometimes they are good but have stuff in the background that I didn't want to have in the picture.  I have seen the doctored photos like the one putting Oprah's head on a skinny little body.  I have seen the youtube video of an eagle picking up a baby.  Then today I got an email showing the top photo editing software programs.  One of the best at an affordable price was the Photoshop Elements 11.  I had seen photoshop in the past and thought it was too complicated for me.  The full version Photoshop is very expensive, but I went to the Adobe website to look.  I noticed that you could download Photoshop Elements for a 30 day trial offer.  So I did it.  It is very complete and this was my first time trying it.  I will play with it for the next month and then decide if I want to purchase it.  My husband said I should be proud of myself and I guess I am.

Now you see the cooler and the broom
And Now you Don't

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Party Time with the Grandchildren

It's New Years Day...2013.  Every year I celebrate New Years Eve with my grandchildren.  First it was the three oldest, then last year the second to youngest joined the party.  We eat junk food and drink sparkling grape juice and cider.  We watch the Dick Clark countdown in New York.  When they were younger and as soon as the ball dropped,  I could say "Happy New Year, now we can go to bed".  Not anymore.  They are old enough and smart enough to know that we have to wait another hour before it's midnight in Wisconsin.  With my dad (the kid's great grandpa) living in our house, we moved the celebration to Sarah's (oldest daughter) home.  I went there and my husband stayed home with dad.  Sarah and her husband went to a party and I was babysitter as well as party coordinator.  I was supposed to stay overnight and had planned to do so.  When they got home about 1:30am, I wasn't very tired so I drove home.  I got home a little after 2:00am.  I quietly opened the door and dad said "I'm so glad your home".  I guess he couldn't sleep and was waiting up for me.  At the same time my husband greets me.  Neither could sleep.  I told them I might come home and so they couldn't sleep just in case.  It's nice to be missed.  I thought I would get a better night sleep in my own bed.  Oh was I wrong.  We have two pellet stoves.  One is perfect and wonderful.  They other is a little temperamental.  I could hear it screeching when I walked in the door.  All night I heard it.  Forty seconds of screeching and twenty seconds of quiet.  It was worse than Chinese torture.  I closed the bedroom door, but it got so cold.  The temperatures got to below zero last night.  Finally I got up and stayed up.  I made coffee but I'm still feeling like I was drinking and partying all night, which I was but not the same as in my youth.  I was partying with youth, age 12 and under.  I will try to nap today.  Wisconsin Badgers play in the Rose Bowl today, so that should be fun to watch.  Wishing everyone a wonderful start to a new year.

P.S.  Update on the pellet stove.  Mike discovered a couple of pellets impeding the auger.  He dislodged them and now it is back to normal.  Hopefully that is the end of that issue.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year

Santa Claus is going away for his Long Winter's Nap

 Happy New Year

The time has come to take down the Christmas decorations.   The visitors have left, the cookies and special foods have been eaten and it is time to look forward to a new year.  Hopefully it will be a good year for us and our friends and family.  My son in law is leaving one career and starting a new exciting chapter of his life.  My grandchildren are growing and having more exciting experiences that will form their adult life.

I will replace the Christmas decor with Winter decor.  I have several snowmen and pine trees to set around.  We will finish the remodeling project that was started before the holidays (I blogged about that earlier).  We will try to get organized and go on a little vacation.  Life continues to change and we change as well.