Getting back in the saddle

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Hi all (I know two people will read this :D).

 

So, it was not my intention to drop the blog entirely for months! I am tempted to apologize, but it really was a case of Life Getting in the Way. I had no time to come up with any posts worth the posting, but there are some decent ones in the pipeline now and I hope you enjoy them.
One small factor in the severe lack of blog time has been hiking. This summer I really, really wanted to get a LOT of hiking in. There are a lot of places I’ve been wanting to explore around here, particularly Yosemite itself, that I’ve never had enough energy for before I went primal in my diet. My exercise partner and I basically went nuts and have been exploring more than we planned to and having a blast doing it. It is really fun to be able to go 5 or 6 miles and not even be sore the next day, nor have to pack more than a boiled egg or so to eat for energy, nor have trouble with the altitude.  The following photos are a small sampling from hikes I’ve been on since my last post here.

Yes, this was summer…  in Yosemite.

There are so many gorgeous scenery photos from this area all over the internet, so here are some of the smaller, more hidden things you will see on hikes around here. Not as stunning but pleasant to hike past.

And then, after passing through cool woods or gorgeous little meadows, you so frequently come across views like this.

So that is some of what I have been up to. I hope y’all have had a fun summer also! Regular posts will resume about the garden, the hens, and all my odd little experiments.

 

Y Girl

Chickies! Er, hens by now!

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In the beginning of March I ordered 15 little White Leghorn chicks from Cackle Hatchery, which is actually where I got my first batch of chicks from back when I was a young teen. At that time I remember I ordered Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds because I figured they would be pretty as well as friendly and lay plenty of eggs. I always heard how Leghorns were flighty and unfriendly, though definitely tops on the egg front, so I decided back then not to go with the cheap and boring looking white hens. This time, however, I got the Leghorns. They have a reputation for being good foragers as well as good layers and I don’t have much time for making pets out of any more animals at the moment, anyway, since I accidentally tamed yet another feral cat.

From the very beginning they were super friendly, very athletic, and extremely curious about everything.  By which I mean they did not take kindly to being confined in their nice, roomy box until old enough to go outside.  The things I went through trying to keep them in there!  WAY too many times I heard this distinctive little “pat-pat” sound and realized they had gotten out and were running around on the carpet.  I swear, they sounded different when they were being “bad” than when they were staying put.  Totally cute, but, a lot more energetic and good at flying than other chicks I’ve seen over the years!

After a couple weeks, with sunny weather and some decent feathers, they got to go outside in their pen.  They loved it, and it was fun going out to pick them up at dusk every night, transferring them from their little circular feathery cuddle into their nighttime box in the house.  Excuse my gushing, but I always love how babies and baby animals have that soft, warm feeling when you pick them up.  So yeah.  By now I kind of had to admit I was not sticking to my resolution to be just business about them.  They were too adorable not to coo over.

I had made them a portable metal and wire fencing house that is relatively easy to move around to a different spot every day and was planning to make two more and split them into three houses as they grew.

Things were going along with occasional hiccups (when a chick would escape and have to be caught) when they finally decided to start roosting.  Now we had Problems.  Because apparently two to three foot high perches are for inferior chickens.  These chickens need to be at least eight feet high for restful sleep, and preferably more.  They started working very hard at getting out and would spend all day undoing the door ties, pushing things, etc., so that when evening came they could fly to the top of their house and thence to the cottonwood branches.

I have never, ever met such motivated birds in my life.  They LOOK quite innocent, don’t they?

But really, they are a ravening horde!

Those snowy little dames do not really like their commercial feed that much and act like the chickens from the Chicken Run movie – “let’s diet, exercise, and practice flying as much as possible!”  I am working on revamping their house to make it better for their roosting needs but still movable, but at the moment I am embarrassed to admit they are pretty much free range hens.  They chase the cats, have eaten ALL the veggies (so I will need to restart that before I can get going on the gardening posts again), and love hanging out under the shady porch and then running pellmell, “pat-pat,” away whenever anyone steps outside.  They will follow people around, come when you call, and try to look in the windows.

So, in the next couple of days I will, I HOPE, manage to get them under control again.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this story of animals changing plans.

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 5

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My computer monitor was getting pretty dusty.

LCD screens are a little tricky, since you can’t get them more than slightly damp and if you press too hard you can burn out some of the pixels, so people usually buy the little kits so as to be sure they won’t damage their screen.

I read several articles the last few weeks about cleaning them yourself and finally decided to just get to it and try it out.  I took a very soft, clean cotton cloth and wetted it thoroughly with distilled water, which is recommended much more than tap water.  I was just out of vinegar so did not do the half and half solution but probably will soon so as to make sure there is no grease left on.

So as minimize the chances of injuring the screen, and to absorb any excess water, I wrapped the cloth around a dry sponge.  Then I used that to wipe the screen.

Much better!  Hope this less-plastic idea for cleaning LCD screens by yourself is a help to someone.  Cost:  Fraction of a (plastic, bummer) jug of distilled water, so only a few cents.

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 4

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What to do about Kleenex?

I grew up reading many old classic books and was always fascinated by the little customs and conventions surrounding handkerchiefs, things like having a useful one and a fancy one for show, and how everyone used to iron them each week.  People often cleaned things or wrapped things up in handkerchiefs.  It seemed rather cool to me, and I tried a couple of times to use one, but realized quickly the advantage Kleenex has in being disposable.  I don’t like carrying around used tissues.  I thought for the rest of my life I would just go ahead and use Kleenex and not worry about it.  Even when I got into more zero waste type interests I still thought that at least tissue boxes only have one small strip of plastic on the top.  Not too big a deal, right?

After a while I read an article featuring HankyBooks and was charmed.  So adorable and it seemed to really fix the major problem I had with handkerchiefs!  Plus they are a cute modern version.

I have not bought one yet, but I did make my own out of an old t-shirt.  Like so many other things, once the incredibly obvious solution arrives the actual process takes about five minutes to implement!

I sewed a seam in the back connecting the “pages” and simultaneously attaching the tie.

It rolls up nice and small, as you see.  I have not bought any Kleenex in several months, getting by with cloth and occasional TP.  Of course, we shall see what happens if I get a cold, though I think I might have had one this spring.  It started like one, anyway, but never turned into the normal messy, miserable thing to endure.  Since I eat Primal, I definitely seem more resistant to disease, so perhaps I won’t have the same type of colds any more…

Time to kick this plastic:  5 minutes.

Maintenance effort:  Completely fits my routine with no extra effort.

Cost:  $0.00

Y Girl

The Big Pond

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This pond is not on my current rented property, but is nearby, on family property.  It is about 100 feet in diameter and I am featuring it because it does have an effect on the climate around here, including creating a lot of cool breezes in summer, and I’ll probably be foraging for berries around it later this year.  It used to be a cattle pond when this was all a ranch and later was deepened and the dam improved for a fish pond.  In good rain years it overflows multiple times and it is pretty awesome to watch the brown swirling water rushing into the pond and right out again.  That is some serious acre-feet that goes through there.  This year it has filled up most of the way, but not quite to overflowing, due to this being a weird La Nina year.

This picture is taken in late afternoon, standing on the dam.  The pond is surrounded by blackberry bushes, originally planted to keep predators away from ducks on the pond.  By the way, this does not work.  The bushes take a lot of up-keep and lately have been allowed to run free a bit too much, so there are some big bramble patches now.  They do produce a LOT of berries, though it’s always kind of a race to pick them before the native bees puncture them and suck the juice out.  Oh well, sharing is a good thing, right?

The other side of the pond.  The brambles on the far side are at least 15 feet thick and house many bullfrogs and small birds, as well as probably lizards and snakes.  It does not seem to be frog breeding season yet, but when I was walking around a bullfrog/Yosemite Toad (I can’t get close enough to tell the difference) would dive into the water about every three feet.  Good to know this little ecosystem still has a healthy population of amphibians.

Warm blackberries with fresh raw cream are a wonderful paleo-style treat and I have a bunch of ideas I am looking forward to trying out for other recipes. I always loved blackberry cobbler and if I find I am craving it I will eat some, paleo or no paleo, since I don’t want to torture myself, but we shall see what other creative ways there are to eat blackberries (assuming they make it in the house first!).  Now I am having visions of blackberries, warm and melting sweet, dancing in my head…

Y Girl

Kickin’ ur plastic: Part 3

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Hand soap – a guide for the squeamish and germ-phobic person.

For years and years I have heard about the dangers of Triclosan in liquid hand soaps and how it was contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and how it was not even necessary for killing germs.  I also disliked having to go through so much plastic buying soap.  I used to try to find a way to make liquid hand soap, but I could never find a practical way.

BUT.  There are several aspects of using a bar of soap that were very off-putting to me.  The holder tends to get slimy and yucky looking quickly.  I dislike having a bar be used hundreds of times over several weeks until it disappears.  It just seems unsanitary to me, especially when hair or something gets stuck in it, and I cannot get over that feeling.  Plus, liquid soaps seemed to be much better at keeping my hands moisturized.  So, I kept using them.

Then I read several articles about the way Triclosan (and many other chemicals) mess up our thyroids.  I was trying to lose some weight and I know a LOT of people, women especially, who have hypothyroidism and it makes life so much more difficult in every way.  Did I switch?  Well, I tried harder to think of some way I could start using bar soap, but I just could not figure out a way I could tolerate it.  I told myself that it probably was not that big a deal anyway, I was just washing my hands with it and had a lot less pollutants in my life than most people.  I experimented with shampoo bars, though, and discovered several sources of really nice, natural soaps that felt luxurious to use.

Then I went Primal with my diet (and sleep, and exercise) and discovered how much of a huge difference tiny changes can make.  My body composition was changing drastically for the better with mostly lifestyle changes, very little exercise, and I had so much mental energy that I decided to revisit the old soap issue and find a solution this time.

It turned out that the solution for me was provokingly simple.

I cut up my soap bar into small pieces and put it on the top of an overturned glass jar.  It was reused from being a food container, so it did not even cost anything.

This works for me because the soap is used up in just days and as soon as it’s gone I can put the jar in the dishwasher and get it perfectly clean again.  Thus I always have a clean holder and nice looking soap.

Including shipping the soap cost me about $8.00 and I think it is going to last (used by two, in the kitchen) about two months, so only a dollar a week or so.  This is cheaper than the plastic refills, which is great.  I believe I was spending about two dollars a week on the liquid soap.

You can probably find someone selling  really cool soaps near you at a farmer’s market, or if you are not able to get to any then there are tons of great suppliers online.  You can always go with hand soap from the supermarket, but until you have tried a really great hand soap you have no idea what you are missing.  Actually, one reason I am happy about having made this change is now I get to try more varieties of soaps than I have been able to before!

Y Girl

Happy Earth Day!

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I hope you all had a great one! This picture is my backyard while I was laying out in the shade reading my Kindle in the breeze.  It was quite nice…  I’ve got some more setup posts lined up for this week and then after that I intend to start getting into the nitty gritty of the gardening and other anti-plastic projects I have planned!

Y Girl

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