We went for a walk in the lovely warm afternoon light. I wish I were motivated by such a pure desire as experiencing the moment. Instead, it was because I got this Misfit Shine fitness tracker and it is kicking my butt. On days I go to the gym, I easily meet my goal, but when I skip the workout, I have to focus on getting more exercise. Which is sort of the point of these devices. I’ve only had it a week and I have met the goal every day (yay me). I’m still thinking about how I feel about being so motivated by this external object.
On our walk into the piñon/juniper uplands nearby, we observed flocks of robins, the first of the year. They call them the harbingers of spring, because it ain’t spring yet. But seeing a robin is as reliable an indicator as the lengthening days and the increasing number of eggs from the hens that spring really is going to come back around.
The geese already have spring fever. We added some nest-making material into their pens for the hens. The books all say they will know what to do with it. The ganders are squabbling, which they have never done before. Jack drove Ike into the electric fence the other morning and I was late to spin class because I had to rescue him. He managed to weave his neck through five wires of the electronet before I got to him. He’s no worse for the wear and has stopped hissing at me. We still haven’t seen any preferences for pairs yet. Maybe this is such a tight group they’ll just form a polyamory family and be done with it. In a couple more weeks we should know more about domestic goose pairing than I really care to imagine.
The bees were out today too. I can’t blame them, it was 50 deg. But winter isn’t over yet: it’s supposed to snow next weekend. I wonder how the Misfit Shine will count snowshoeing. Surely that gives extra credit? Let’s hope we get enough snow to find out.
Epic Storm Update
- At least 12" of snow here.
- The swales captured a bunch of windblown snow.
- We got the bunkhouse up to 79 degrees with the new woodstove, just trying to keep the fire hot enough to burn cleanly. Seriously, I had to open a window one night. I am anticipating a happy dance when the power bill arrives.
- The goats yelled and complained but ate and ate to regulate body temperature. R set up a plywood sheet to shield them some more from the wind and declared the shed warm enough that he’d sleep there, if they didn’t smell like goat.
- The chooks have declined since Thursday to come out of the coop. They are just hanging out on their roost. No eggs. Going to move them into the hoophouse soon. They probably still won’t lay until after the solstice. Freeloaders.
- The hoophouse stood up fine under the snow. R used a push broom to encourage some to slide off each morning, solar gain did the rest. There is a 3′ pile on the north side that has essentially sealed the roll up door better than all my shovel work. Yesterday, with full sun, we had a 42°F differential (74 inside/32 outside) yesterday. In the worst of the storm, we were still getting 10 degrees at noon under cloud cover.
- I carried Slate out to the hoophouse when I couldn’t stand his cabin fever whinging antics any longer. He got into the redneck root cellar and spent some happy hours in his lair. Now he begs to go out there–I don’t need to worry about mice in the feed if he’s on the job.
Wholesome mindfood clickables for your consideration.
Several friends have sent me links to this Mother Jones article, “Why your supermarket only sells 5 kinds of apples,” about one man’s efforts to preserve heritage apples in Maine. John Bunker is a legendary fruit exploer, someone who hunts down old and abandoned apple trees and propagates them for future generations. Because apples don’t come true from seed, they must be cloned from existing trees. When a variety falls out of fashion for whatever reason, we risk losing that unique genetic material forever. Bunker, who founded Fedco Trees (one of our favorite nurseries), has spent decades trying to save our culinary heritage.
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I remember learning about the six simple machines that convert force into useful work when I was in elementary school; I would have loved the GoldieBlox toys back then. Today I love their video, and their homage to another Rube Goldberg video by Ok Go. And forget the hater comment that the video only teaches girls to make a mess. If only my nieces hadn’t grown up already, I know what they’d be getting for Christmas.
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Alternative power, both at the homestead and neighborhood-to-town level, is as critical to local economic resiliency as food production. It may even be a solution to closing the environmental loops to convert waste to utility. Cooperatively owned biodiesel plants, for example, could run in most counties off of local waste streams, which makes far more sense than trying to build huge petro-refineries. If for whatever reason, one plant goes down, the disruption to the national supply is minimal. There’s plenty of white space for action at the local and individual level for fuel independence.
But as I study the numbers in a run-up to another reading week this winter, the economics of electric generation make no sense today in our local economy. Our rural electric cooperative sells residential electricity at only 5.9 cents a kilowatt/hour and buying it back through net metering at only 2.6 cents/kWh! We must have the cheapest electricity in the U.S., which yo’d think would be a boon for economic development. But there’s no guarantee that the coop can sustain that rate, and there may be other reasons, like our dependence on the Bonanza Power Plant, a coal-fired operation in eastern Utah, or the frailty of the national electric grid in a natural disaster, to gear up. After looking at NPR’s Interactive Electrical Grid Map, the system looks pretty brittle to me. With our woodstove, we can manage an extended power outage, but I’d rather have the computers, lights and frig running too.
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In the category of “why haven’t I heard this story before?” is the Women’s Land Army, a World War II program to recruit middle-class town and city women to replace labor lost by the millions of men leaving the fields to serve in the armed forces. The Victory Garden is small potatoes compared to the real story of thousands of women leaving their homes to grow food for their country.
“We’re working for Victory, too; growing food for ourselves and our countrymen. While other women work at machines and in factories—we’re soldiers in overalls.”
The 1993 story from Prologue, http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1993/winter/landarmy.html the magazine of the National Archives, describes how voluntary women’s organizations led to a federal program to get women on tractors and in the fields as part of an all-out war mobilization effort.
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Oatmeal, toast, eggs? You can partly blame me for Kellogg’s plummeting sales of breakfast cereal, since I have stopped buying marshmallow-laced oatish kibbles for humans. I’m really slacking off on my part as an American consumer of convenience foods. Apparently, I’m no the only one. Campbell’s red and white cans of flavored salt in water aren’t flying off the grocery shelves like they used to either, according to this Bloomberg report.
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If this storm is headed your way, be safe out there. Hopefully you aren’t shopping with the hoards for last minute Thanksgiving supplies. Have you read anything lately that has changed the way you grocery shop? Are you saving for a solar panel? Do you remember anything at all from sixth grade science class? Do share!