Friday, July 31, 2009

Accepting Donkey Donations

I am now accepting donations to help me buy a donkey! It all started a few years ago when I began having seizures and could no longer drive a car, or even ride as a passenger without causing serious medical discomfort. Soon after realizing my new isolating plight I met an old man on Reems Creek Rd in Weaverville NC who was raising midget ponies, he loved his midget ponies so much he teared up talking about them & he said they were his only joy... after hearing him talk a flash of brilliance popped into my travel weary mind that I needed something to ride on that was just my size! Over the years I kept my wish alive, letting it evolve with my changing life- but as my situation became more 'small pony' friendly the economy became a monster. A monster that gobbled up all my money and left me rather poor.
Donkeys are a hella expensive ya'll! Ranging around $500-$800 for one that will have been socialized correctly (with other animals) and will be friendly (with humans). You might be wondering why I don't want a horse or small pony but rather a donkey which will Hee-Haw all through the day and night!?! Donkey's are awesome creatures...they are just my size to ride on, they have minds more like dogs then horses, they do not need to eat any gluten grains as other livestock because it will make them get a fat neck and get sick (yay, i can feed my donkey safely with grass and hay!), they are very loving and loyal if you care for them right, they protect other animals from dangers like coyotes, they've got great personality and I am a donkey magnet! Donkeys are also magical fury cuteness... did I mention we can look eye to eye?!
Having a donkey to ride on would liberate my inability to get around very easily (I can only ride my bike so far in the rural mountains before I am exhausted completely). This would be a long term dream come true - some girls want fancy cars & a nice house, but I just want a donkey to be friends with.
BTW- I already have a name picked out, and it's going to be Ju Ju Bean...oh and this is going to be our theme song together.
Go HERE and read about what neato animals donkeys really are! Then if ya want to donate to my Operation Liberation By Way Of Donkey, shoot me an email (or paypal it) at lesrichard {at} aol [dot] com or leave a comment about it here. :)


Primitive Sanding With A Stone and Sand

My Neighbor was getting rid of an old scratched up cutting board, made of thick beautiful wood. The upcycler in me immediately swooped up the prize and decided I'd sand it down back to new- but I didn't want to use regular sand paper on it since it's where I'll be cutting food and the chemical glues in crappy sand paper have never been declared food safe or gluten free (the stuff people with Celiac Sprue have to think of!). Not to mention sandpaper is one of those things that kinda rips us all off- you rub it around just a few times and the paper it's already shot, the sand is all gone, and your fingers are raw from pushing too hard.
So here's what ya need to sand it the old OLD school way (primitive, chem free, cheap, & EASY): A stone which has a flat side, sand, and your object of sanding desire.
Step One: Pour a handful of sand on the wood. Place the stone on top the sand.
Step Two: Start grinding ...not like on MTV The Grind- but by placing your hands over the stone and working the sand into circles. I found that you don't need alot of pressure if your stone has a good weight to it already. The stone itself will actually grind down the sand too, and make it very fine - so through the process it makes the surface of the wood smooth. The sound it makes is pretty awesome- it sounds like some sort of meditation didgeridoo monk chanting OM music.
NOTE: Stick something under the sanding project to catch the sand falling off the sides, so you can reuse that sand over and over.
LAST STEP: Once you are done with sanding buff the wood with just the stone and no sand, then wash the board off and check to make sure it's the consistency you like. Then heat up a little oil with salt and rub the board down to keep it protected. :) No more scratches, it's like brand new!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cave Spider In Funnel Web

Everytime I go off my usual trail/hike I discover something awesome like this small neato rock shelter...which leads to more awesome stuff, like creepy long legged cave dwelling spiders! In the pic above that is me putting my hands on the top of the rock ceiling suddenly discovering I had put my hands into a massive colony of spider webs. These well camouflaged spiders are huge, I mean they make the daddy long legs look short and would probably make an arachnophobic faint.

The ghostly cylindrical white stuff in the image below are the funnel webs they build. Each spider up there had it's own personal style of "funnel" including some that were tornado or bell shaped. Surrounding the funnel webs were these intricate and nearly invisible cross hatched webs that seem to have no shape or pattern, but were simply a death trap for anything that may crawl on the rock.
The webs spanned outward, covering a large area not only on the ceiling of the rock, but all the way out the 'door'.

The only thing that gives them away is their web - because otherwise they look just like the rock! And that's if ya see the web before you stick your fingers or head into it first. :)

Peek Inside A Modern Dairy Farm

Yesterday I went for a long walk down the road and happened upon one of the many dairy farms in this area. Many don't appear to really be organic, yet I learned some things that helped me understand the way we get our food (particularly our milk) that gave me an entirely new perspective (organic or not). The workers were really super nice and let me and Bort right on in to the milking house when he asked permission to watch. I first walked through a room with a giant silver holding tank where the milk ends up being stored, and that room smelled just like a sweet bakery (sugary and creamy)- there was a slight chemical odor too that I could not quite put my finger on. After stepping through that room, this is what I walked into...
Wildly noisy and like an alternate universe, cows were lined up on platforms and the worker was disinfecting the utters of each cow before milking. Absolutely fascinating, I never in my life thought about how they must use chems on the utters before milking to kill germs (this is cause the cows are very dirty, literally) - the room had a container of iodine, and smelled strongly of bleach (to clean up pee and poop I am sure). As someone with food allergies and chem sensitivities this greatly interested me, cause I began to wonder if some food allergies are more about the process in which we get our food, rather then the food source itself.
The cows were not being mistreated in any way, there wasn't anything terrible happening - but for me there was just something uneasy about mass scale farming in this way, because of the extra lengths a farmer must go to obey the laws, get germs off the turf, and get a huge amount of product out there. I don't think I expected to see the workers hand milking, but I never had taken the time to think about what the milking machines are like- they are loud, kinda like a strong as hell hoover vacuum that suctions onto each utter.
All the milk was being sucked out (surprisingly fast) going through all the crazy tubes and contraptions ya see here, and then eventually would end up in the sugary smelling room. Bort (who's brother used to milk cows at this farm) told me that once it's in the big holding tank the milk companies come to pick it up from there. These companies test a glass of the milk every time before selling the product to make sure no antibiotics are in it. If they find antibiotics in the milk on these farms (even though they are not organic) they will be penalized, the product not being bought and then companies won't buy from that farmer for a few months after (by regulation).
Did you ever think about your milk being here before it hits your lips? In a little tube right next to a muddy cow leg! Ha.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sometimes Ya Feel Like A Nut (Tree)

I like to try and start trees from seed - especially nut trees! In the bag here are some pine nuts...mmmm...that are getting too outdated to eat but might have some life in them to plant some pine trees from seed. The best way to do this is to get a a handful of (preferably organic) nuts still in their shell from a local grower at the grocery or farmers market, since that will make the chances of your tree lovin' your climate alot better (remember to double check that they are locally grown). Experimentation is cool too though- these pines nuts were grown in New Mexico, but I have still had them sprout little pine trees in flower pots where I dropped shells I was cracking to eat.
Just to make sure I have a goooooood chance of something coming up I took a big ole' handful of the pine nuts and put them all at different levels in the soil. Some are just patted down, some buried deep, some buried shallow- which is my attempt to imitate nature's way of dropping the seeds and then all kinds of junk happens to them after that. Growing up in New Orleans I use to watch the squirrels bury the pecans for the (not all that cold) winter - pretty deep in the ground, and that is when the strongest trees would grow up out the soil. Go Pine Nuts Go!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Like...

these things...Bugs and tree sap.
Thistle, rocks and butterflies.
My cat Toots climbing a tree.
Frogs! Of all sizes.
Useful plants in the woods ( especially one's that make natural dye and paint.)
My own creepy reflection in the basement window.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Animal Evidence

There's bunches of reasons to observe the evidence animals leave behind - in the woods or even around your suburban home. The main reason is just for the sheer joy of seeing how awesome and intelligent nature really is, which cultivates a great respect for the earth we live on (observing is my most favorite thing to do), but then there are things like half your flock of chickens is wiped out in a night and you need to know what animal you are dealing with in order to secure your hens properly (raccoon, fox, owl, hawk, coyote...). An even more basic reason to follow the behavior of animals is for survivalist reasons, and I don't mean being a survivalist just for fun or in fear of apocalyptic doom but I mean the economy being so bad that it becomes more apparent you are so poor you will need to feed yourself off the land. In the end, growing and trapping your own food is the most ecological way to live anyway.
Animal tracks (like the deer tracks above) will reveal the paths the animals use on a regular basis. While I don't want to eat a deer (even in a bad economy) I do love to see them doing their thing - it makes me forget about any worry I could have in life. In the picture below are some wild rose bush briers, which have a little cave type arch and shelter quality. Since I walk this path regularly, I know that this sprucing up of the bush is something that just happened. It takes a lot of patience to wait for animals to come by, but if you really want to observe them, you have to find a hiding spot close to some evidence and wait for the magic to happen.
These giant holes below are made by one of the biggest woodpeckers in existence! I have seen them only twice in my life (cause they are too crafty) , it's like spotting an eagle though cause they are so HUGE. They have a giant red head and hammer so hard on the wood it will rock your house. (I found one hammering away on my house siding once). They do this in order to find ants living inside dead trees. Pretty neat!
Where a dead tree falls down, a new path is created. This tree below created a deer super highway - when I say there were too many tracks to even decifer I don't exaggerate! It looked like NYC 5th avenue traffic...nature style.
Lastly is poop, or better known to tracking enthusiasts as "scat". Poop seems pretty easy to identify, but I am not quite sure about this one pictured below. I looked up the categories for dog, cat, deer, rabbit and rodent and it didn't quite fit in any of them. It was out in a open field near a tomato garden and apple trees, which attracts alot of critters all shapes and sizes. There were a few other scat bits near this one too, smaller in size.
Hey Tom Brown Jr., what kinda poop is this?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Organic Winter Squash(es)

I Have a question about winter squash... when there is more then one squash, do you say "squashes" or just plain ole' "squash"? I have been vastly poked fun of for adding the "es" at the end of the word squash- but have heard other people say the same thing. I am not sure if I care whether it's correct or not, but more so that I can find others like me...then we can start an organic hippie commune together called "Squashes Eagle Cloud". Just kidding. ;)
So here are some of the neat-o winter squashes I have growing in my organic garden (these are not quite ripe yet, but getting there)...
I think that first one might turn out to be a Kubucha Squash (or some fancy name like that, that spell check doesnt recognize) - this is one of many that I collected the seeds myself from store bought organic squash, dried them and then replanted. :) I got some serious variety going this way.
In the pic above, that's my squash joy! It's siamese! And a Buttercup! I have some regula' buttercups too, but for some reason throughout my garden I have experienced occassional siamese genetics.
Mmmmmm, BUTTERNUTS! I've got bunches of these guys, and some that are even crook necked! There's another type of winter squash just sitting on top of those that I am not sure what variety it is. The big ole' honker below is a Spagetti squash, which are one of my most favorite kinds! If you've never had them, try one- they flavor really well, are mild (not too sweet, not too squashy) and the best part is you pull out the squash with a fork and it peels out in strips kinda like pasta.
Then last is my shy little pie pumpkins! I didn't grow any big guys this year, because I mainly wanted the sweet kind that are edible (as in taste good). These are really cute- they just started turning orange after a long period of being super dark green.
Rock on my sweet squashes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Into The (somewhat) Wild

Nature is at it's summer peak, where everything is almost as big and tall as it's gonna get - animals have been pretty well fed, and things are relatively peaceful and quiet. The first thing I saw at the beginning of this trail was an Eastern Box Turtle closed up in it's shell! Cool! This particular spot is usually an active nook near some large rocks, where there's been a bobcat track, possible bobcat sighting, chipmunks, animals trails and dead animal smells. The turtle has the best armor and could tell all was pretty calm for it's afternoon stroll.
Walking along there are patches that make be feel downright tarzan, it gets wild with giant grape vines, hardy jewel weed, and poison ivy climbing high up into the tops of trees. (I have lucked out, cause of all the stupid things I am allergic to, poison ivy is not one of them! yippee!)
The overgrowth of tiny micro mushrooms here is so magical, it's straight out of a fairytale. They spread out all over the ground, on the trail, and then climb up the dead tree stump. Mushrooms love dead trees. :)
There's a barbed wire fence along part of the trail that separates the property from a cow field. I have to admit I have jumped this fence a few times just to look at the flowers and trees on the other side - hoping there was no bull in the area. Everytime was totally worth it.On my way back home I saw this new animal hole dug under a huge rock - seems like a good place to live. Makes me wish I was (more of) an animal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Littlest Woolly Worm (I Eva' Saw)

Ya'll, check out this crazy tiny woolly worm! When I first moved to Western North Carolina I was amazed by all these big fuzzy caterpillars with red and black stripes marching around - and was informed right away (by locals) that the coloration of the woolly worm predicted how cold a winter was going to be. Kinda like how people say the squirrels are extra fury if it's going to be mega cold- the woolly worms tell you how winter is going to be based on the black (being the cold parts) and then the red (being the warmer parts of the winter) starting from the head to it's woolly rear end.
These pictures are of the tiniest one I have eva' seen, normally they are quite big and forthright, hauling ass to some unknown location - giving you only a glance of your near future. According to this baby here it's going to start out pretty freaking cold, have a spell of warmth, blast back into cold for the second half of winter, and then pull in the spring with warm months. That micro dot of black on it's butt, hope that doesn't mean a "dogwood winter" where it snows one last time late in april! :) Smooches to this cutie!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wrestling In Big Sandy Mush (Part 2)

Oh lordy, I can't believe they moved wrestling to a sunday afternoon in this culturally bible belt certainly set an entirely new mood, a smaller crowd and maybe even a few new wrestling rules since only the most die hard & friends were present. But it had it's advantages too. I walked in a little fashionably late just as the first match was getting started, sat down, and this picture below is the first thang that happened!!!! Holy Shiznit- dudes were flying like they were comic book heroes wearing olympic gold medals! That's some seriously ninja style moves going on. In all the matches the usual form was bad guy VS good guy again and many of the wrestlers were the same as last time (except for the flying bad boy, he was new to me)... what was totally unusual this time though was the mood. The crowd was slightly more lazy and quiet because it was 2 o'clock on a sunday afterall ( Jesus says to yell a little less on this day), and this made the wrestlers act like it was a private show where they could ham it up twice as fancy and laugh their asses off at their own acrobatics!
There seems to always be a moment where the drama peeks so high wrestlers step in for their partners and threaten the other team with large objects. In the ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) they use big terrible stuff like pipes, toilets, sinks, and chairs - oh but no, not here in Big Sandy Mush though, sunday wrestling brought on an ECW style threat with a freaking BANJO!!! ha! The bad guys totally feared the banjo too (who wouldn't), the hottie wrestler pretended to rock out on it (even though from where i sat it looked like it had no strings) - possibly they even feared his grace with the banjo cause he is probably the wrestler with the most martial art/gymnast style strategy.Now there were a few moments where I was appalled into laughter - one was when a kid started chanting "dough boy" to the wrestler with a belly, somehow getting the whole crowd in on it!!! OMG! And threatened said wrestler with his folding chair, till his family calmed him down. Then when a wrestler would pout, act like a baby and yell shit like "he pulled my hair, did you see that, he pulled my hair!"... the wrestler proceeded to point out some farmish looking young adults and said "you saw it, didn't he pull my hair?", to which the boys shook their head "NO", and he yelled "Don't Listen to those HIPPIES!" ... ha, the only hippies in the place got called out (assuming I'm not a hippie).
Then this awesome thing happened...
I bet you are wondering what is going on in that picture above, cause no one is being pulverized?! That is cause a tag team match was about to start, and low and behold they was playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS to decide who would go first ! oh yeah baby. They DID!The good guys actually WON! And at this time I want to point something else totally phenomenal about this wrestling match, and that was for half the rounds there was a FEMALE referee!!!
Pictured here below is me with one of my FAVORITE wrestlers from the Hillbilly Team! Thumbs up is the standard pose for a winner, I suspect cause you can flex muscles while giving it ;)
Next Wrestling Match In Big Sandy Mush on AUGUST 15th 2009!
Ps- did you miss reading PART 1? Go Here!