Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Satellite, E-Nature, and Etsy!

Good news! I finally was able to get satellite service out here in Big Sandy Mush after being on a waiting list for quite a while with the company Wild Blue. So I have been busy catching up on the ole' internet, but somehow the thrill of the virtual world is gone (cause Lady Ga Ga on youtube just doesn't do it for me anymore)... being online is a great functional tool though. Like check out this awesome nature website where you can type in your zip code and find all the native nature (plants, animals, birds, reptiles etc...) of your area - and in the birds section you can listen to the sounds they make!!!! (My favorite is the screech owl because I hear them at night and it makes me feel really happy and calm.)
My new satellite internet allowed me to create an Etsy store today too! So something to look forward to (in addition to The Oko Box organic clothing updates) will be handmade, crafty, primitive and eco minded etsy projects made by a few peeps who live in Big Sandy Mush (including myself.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Black Ant Carrying Moth

This ant was hauling butt with his good find. The only way I could get him to stop long enough to get a picture was by banging the pole he was climbing in order to cause a vibration and make him pause for a second. Nature has an elegance that never tires. If you ever feel tired, sad or bored go outside and take a look, it's total awesomeness everywhere.xoxo

Golden Spotted Box Turtle

I found this turtle slowly walking through my bean garden in between furrows. I really reallllly really love turtles - I feel terrible about scaring them cause inevitably I have to pick it up and examine all it's neat shell patterns. The golden orange spots on this turtle's armour look alot like hand prints, paw prints and leopard spots... it's too neat for words so here's some pictures:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

North American Moth (Grey, Black and White)

Anyone know the scientific name of this little fighter pilot? Fantastic markings, big wings, fuzzy helmet head (perfect circle on top) and a good disposition. :)


DIY: Tree Bark Purse/ Satchel/ Container

Here's a rad way to make a completely natural, 100% non toxic, primitive hand bag out of tree bark. I don't think this project was meant to be as adorable as it is but somehow it took functional to the edge of beautiful and gave it a shove. This bark purse is perfect for berry picking, going out with friends, collecting specimens & treasures in the woods, and lugging around just about anything you want to shove in it - cause it's dang versatile & sturdy!FIRST: Find a downed tree (from a recent storm), tree limb, or cut down a tree that's growing too close to a larger tree to make a life of it's own. We used a small hickory tree on Bort's property - hickory smells really good and is supa' easy to work with. (I have read in numerous books that Native Americans used Birch bark for these kinds of projects.)

SECOND: Cut the bark down the middle in a straight line and carefully peel it off WHOLE, like in one whole piece. Try not to crack it - if it's too dry, try soaking the log in water first.
THIRD: Once you have your whole piece of curled bark ready, you will want to cut out a paper shape as a stencil for carving into the middle of the bark. Place it as seen below and using a knife or other sharp object make an indentation in the bark following the shape of the stencil. DON'T accidentally cut all the way through - you just want a place to later bend the wood with ease.

FOURTH: Stick the bark piece with the stencil carving into a bucket of water for a few hours or over night to let soak.When you take the bark out of the water it will fold out flatter and look like this....
Using the indentation you will see you can now easily fold the bark at the markings to make the basic shape of the container. (See below)...
FIFTH: Poke 7 holes in the sides of the bark along the seem lines on both sides. These holes should be even (parallel) like the holes on your shoes, to lace up with- making 14 total on the left and 14 holes on the right of the purse.
Then you can take thin strips of the bark, which have soaked a little in water and lace it up to the top, finishing by tieing them in a knot on the outside and using the leftover pieces sticking out to make a handle.
LAST: Bort (pictured above) did most of the work showing me how to make this thing, but I got really into making the handle (that's me below)... I tied the two lacing sides together, then I took wet bark strips and layered it thick by wrapping them tightly and repeatedly around the thin lacings.
The finished purse... undeniably bad...freaking...ass!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tracking: Watching Animals Without Seeing Them

The skill of professionally tracking animals is not mine, but for some reason I think there is a natural instinct there, a knee jerk thought process that feeds you information about the life around you. Including life unseen or not easily noticed. When I am walking in the woods I tend to look at the ground alot, and only look up occasionally to get the bigger view - that's how I started noticing tracks in the wet mud. I am not hunting the animals, but I love animals so much I can't help but get excited knowing they have this secret life going that I don't always see.
This first pic is a track from a deer. Since I don't have a guide book on animal prints (yet) I learned by the slow process of following the tracks for a few weeks before actually seeing the deer about 20 feet away. The tracks pictured here are alot smaller then the deer I saw before and are in a new area - maybe some little bambies?!
Next I saw this infamous bump pictured below, I am pretty sure it's the digging job of a ground hog, which makes the mud hill up and crumble in a tunneled way. A ground hog that ate most of my red bean crops last night. :(
All throughout the woods are little circular holes where some animal is busy digging up goodies to eat - could be a raccoon, opossum or ground hog (all of which live here). There are also areas nearby where the wild turkey's scratch holes too. I am pretty sure I'd have to be out there hiding at night with a flashlight to find out who it is. Next is where I saw a mystery animal which I think was a small bobcat. It spotted me long before I spotted it and when it heard me walk too closely it hauled up the hill behind those trees. I first assumed it was another dumpy ground hog until it turned back to look at me and the sun shone directly on a very large cat shaped face... we stayed locked in a stare and without making a noise, without my eye leaving the tree, this creature snuck out of my sight like it had vanished. Pretty awesome and not very ground hog like. In this exact area I had seen what looked like a bobcat print in the mud about 2 months ago.
After the bobcat mystery sighting I was all hyped up to everything moving around me and spotted a little chipmunk tail swooshing in between the giant rocks, where the pink arrow is pointing below. Good hiding spot. The more shelter you have, the more animals you have.
This last animal track is my most favorite because it was made last night in the wet creek bed where the rain water usually runs and then stops just long enough to make this goopy junk perfect for animal prints. Look at those freaking CLAWS! My first instinct is that it's a raccoon, what do you think?

Wolf Spider: Babies On Board

From a distance you might think this was one hairy mo' fo' of a spider. Not only are they already huge in general, they are so on the go they carry their egg sack whenever they scatter to, and then this... carrying ALL their babies on their back after they are born! This wolf spider was at the window inside my house trying to find a way out so I caught it in this large glass to get a closer look and then release it outside. I think there were about 5 babies that fell off in the process (sorry little guys) and if you are arachnophobic you would have pee'd yourself when you saw how the baby blob would move around in tight waves when touched... holy freakiness!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Organic Seeds On The Cheap

I am all about getting the most out of my organic food - not just by stretching meals but also by replanting & gutting some of those veggies to get seeds out of them. Check out this neat little trick... I take the bottoms (with the roots attached) of onions, the tops of turnips, rutabaga and parsnip, and the thick stalk bottom of a cabbage and I stick them in the moist ground.
The magical thing that happens, like in these pictures, is that the plant takes root and continues it's process of life. How unstoppable and rad is that? Once they get in the dirt they just keep on going where they left off, which is usually right before they were going to seed - you end up with pretty flowers, some extra edible greens on top, and after they've been pollinated and dry out you have yourself more then a pack's worth of organic seeds!
*Pictured at the top is an organic purple cabbage bottom that grew to make nice muted yellow flowers (for seeds), second is an organic turnip which if planted later in the summer goes right to seed but in the spring will make you HUGE turnip greens first to eat, and the last picture is the root of the (organic) red onion planted in the ground which makes these delicious green stems (great for stir fry and cooking with beans) plus goes to seed in the shape of a beautiful round ball of tiny flowers.*
One more seed tip: For a grand variety of winter squash & pumpkins, simply save the seeds from the (oh so expensive) organic ones you buy at the store. Let the seeds dry out on a plate or napkin, then store them for next year... 2 little butternut squash seeds can make you over 16 more butternuts to eat- that is bang for ya' buck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Baby Organic Veggies Look Like

There's some tiny food in my garden! It's cute like seeing a tiny kitten or tadpole. This is what I have so far:
I have organic summer squash, this is the yellow crookneck kind.
Then there are itty bitty organic green beans - which were pollinated by two big bumble bees and other flying things (I haven't seen one honey bee yet this year.)
This organic pickling cucumber is 2 cute 2 be true - so spiky it looks like an ocean plant!Lastly I have a wide variety of winter squash growing, so wide I have almost no idea what I've planted except for this guy who is an organic pumpkin (the yummy pie kind).

Monday, June 22, 2009

DIY: Organic Fruit Popsicles

In the early 80's my mom used to make us Popsicles by mixing orange juice and yogurt in a pop mold to cool us down during hot New Orleans summers. Homemade Popsicles are so much better then store bought ones cause you have total flavor & health control over what you are eating (AKA making it organic and free of artificial dyes). All you need to make your own pops are a Popsicle mold (or cups and sticks) and some type of fruit like berries, apples or peaches.
STEP ONE: The more fruit the better! Put a ton of berries in an oven safe bowl full of water - the ones in the pic are black raspberries picked fresh off the bush so I only had this many to work with, add more if you have it.
STEP TWO: Stick the fruit bowl in the oven and cook on 350 degrees until the water becomes dark, syrupy and smells super fruity. The longer you cook it and the more fruit you add the thicker and sweeter the juice will be for your Popsicles! If you like yours to be super unreal sweet then add some rice syrup or honey to the bowl, but the fruit is sweet enough for me.STEP THREE: Pour the liquid (and berries if ya like it chunky) into your Popsicle mold and stick it in the freezer.
Then eat it!!!! Fast... or it will melt all ova' your hand.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rural Entertainment: Wrestling In Big Sandy Mush

I knew this was going to be bad ass as soon as I rode my bike up to see that the grassy parking lot was full of cars, midget ponies were tied outside the building, teens were taking drags on their bad bad for them cigs, and AC DC was blaring outside the door. I didn't have any cash on me and had to scrounge 5 dollars in nickles, dimes and quarters to pay admission at the door -which turned out to actually be 7 dollars, but the management was kind enough to let me in anyway, because having rode my bike miles to watch wrestling took "dedication"! (Ya best believe it does!)
The whole thing got started fashionably late... and I say fashionably with deep meaning, cause I know now that the wrestlers were backstage getting in costume! When the flyer said there was amateur wrestling, I had no idea this was going to be a WWF Holk Hogen-esque parade of glittered and leathered manhood... NOT at all what I expected, because it freaking ROCKED better then the major WWF championship wrestling match I attended in Baton Rouge Louisiana back in 2000. Ya here me, our local wrestlers are better then the WWF.
This is who came out from backstage first. To raging rock music this beefed up mad man came out already angry, proud, pointing fingers in our faces and yelling at woman and children taking his picture. The crowd boo'ed with smiles and enthusiasm.
His opponent was obviously the 'nice guy', high fiving and slapping kids hands, smiling and being as sweet as you can be while remaining tough as shit & prepared to get a beating. I had no idea what I was about to see, but my ass was literally on the edge of my seat.
These guys totally pulled all the wrestling moves you want to see - throwing, slamming, choking, elbowing, jumping, stomping... and the venue was just small enough that everyone in the house really had a front row seat.
Yowsers!The dude who came on next took it to the next level...from regular wrestling outfits to dang sequined speedos and sparkle boots! He also was the holding champion, wearing the official belt (see below). Oh, he also was my favorite wrestler of the night (not because he was incredibly good looking, with graceful moves and the shiniest outfit or anything.).
More of the good guy VS. evil psycho type agenda here...
I totally thought the champion would win... even just by virtue of having the best boots....
His butt totally got pinned though and then it really started gettin' CRAZy!
Other dudes from their own teams started jumping in to defend each other, the ref was throwing out all kinds of violations ( and for all I could tell profanities too.) It was like mayhem - men jumping in and out the ropes, rolling, body slamming, breaking rules.
Then the doozy. The fight came thiiiiiiiiiiiis close to turning into the ECW (EXTREME Championship Wrestling) when Mr. Nice Guy brings in a folding chair to threaten the lord of evil from continuing to beat on his poor pulverized partner.
Regardless evil seems to win alot when it comes to wrestling! Cause they took the championship belt from my glittery hero.
In all the fights the side that got boo'd was always telling off the crowd. Flexing, strutting, and using fingers like they were daggers into the hearts of their followers.
The Rebel team above fought the "Hillbillies" below... oh man, it was good.
The Hillbillies got the action all mixed up with comic relief - their opening song was KC and the Sunshine band's "I'm Your Boogie Man" ... rather then the hard rock testosterone splurge the other wrestlers opened up with. I wanted to dance. I think they should let girls dance in the middle of the ring after they are done. I also think they should hire girls (me) to walk around holding signs up in between games. ;)
The Iceman had no prob turning around to show me his butt for a pic.... In case you think I didn't really go to this, here is the proof below...HOT!!! Oh and BTW, there's another match coming here to Big Sandy Mush on July 25th! XOXoxoxoooo