A common fig tree…MY heritage breed

I’m a second generation American.  My Dad’s family hails from miscellaneous parts of Italy from the north to the south and while we grew up a very very proud fairly typical American family, there are still times where I find myself thinking and referring to my slightly more homogenized friends as “you white people.”  For those of you who grew up in any kind of culture that wasn’t all wonderbread (black, white, brown, red, polka dots-whatever), I bet you know what I mean.

 

As I have gotten older and the less desirable aspects of this sometimes old fashioned culture have fallen away, I find myself left with the warm and fuzzy memories of a family who still maintained some identity of their roots.  These identities are often tied up with individuals, as with my Great Grandfather.  I was lucky to know him as a teenager although to be fair, our language barrier was a pretty big one.  But to hear stories of him through my Dad now that my Great Grandfather has been gone for a couple of decades, well it’s something special.  I have learned that he was a mason and gardener at Kykuit (the Rockefeller Estate in NY) for pretty much his adult life.  I have learned that the shovel that my Dad now uses was one that my G-Grandfather “liberated” from that same estate when he retired (sorry Rockefellers!) with an explanation to my Dad “Bucky-he got lotsa money.  He no miss this“.  But, I also know that his own garden was important to him.  Enough so that when he came to America almost 100 years ago, he brought with him a fig tree.

 

Now, I don’t think we know how long he (or his family) had it in Italy, but I do know that my Dad has maintained his own cutting from it for at least 20-30 years.  And this spring, we get our cutting of it for Blueberry Acres!  Something that I look forward to planting in our ground with my little Blueberry beside me. A fig tree that has been in my family for at least 90+ years and 2 countries.  I’m having a hard time putting into words how cool I think this is, but with all of this talk of native seeds, heritage breeds and heirloom produce…to be able to grow and enjoy delicious figs from a tree that was hand carried by my Great Grandfather on a ship across the ocean all those years ago.  Well, I think it’s pretty cool that I will be able to pass that kind of heritage breed down to Blueberry one day.  I wonder what heritage our grandchildren will talk about when we are long gone….it’s something to think about on those frustrating homestead days.  We are creating a new heritage for our kids!  Happy Homesteading!

You know you are excited to homestead when….

You awake with glee at 3:00 am because you got a response offering you 13 free pallets for your gardening project.

You are excited to find food grade rain barrels 2 hours away and plan a family adventure day around that.

You find a big bunch of worms in your compost pile.

You stop yourself from throwing away that bottle thinking…surely there is something else I can use this for (and then you do-no hoarding here people!)

And when you read other peoples’ posts on poop, fish, agriculture, farming, gardening and DIY crafts with glorious abandon.  You just might be a homesteader!

Homesteaders: Are you protecting your technology investment?

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This post was originally shared on Modern Homesteader’s site.  When you get a chance, please go check them out!

We are hoping to share some information as part of a series on maintaining your computer technology.  As some of you may know, over at Blueberry Acres Farm we are budding homesteaders who still maintain “day” jobs.  I am able to work virtually thanks to technology, but my husband “Sheldon” is the one paying the mortgage because of technology.  That is, he’s a geek by trade.

So when we thought about all of the other homesteaders who not only use their home computer equipment, but really count on it to sell product, connect with other homesteaders, follow up on homeschooling lessons or get important information, we thought a good place to start would be free resources that you can use to protect your computer.  Let’s face it-homesteading can be expensive when you start looking at purchasing land, equipment, etc.  Most of us are trying to simplify life, so the idea of needing to buy a new computer every year or two isn’t too appealling.  Just like our vehicles, a little maintenance can go a long way-especially when it comes to online protection.  While he could go on for hours about ways that you can improve your protection and computing experience (I’m telling you-he really could talk for hours, sigh) let’s start with just a couple of Sheldon’s favorite free resources:

Microsoft Security Essentials: If you have the Windows 7 OS (or earlier), then  you can use this to help defend computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.  If you have already upgraded to Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Security Essentials and runs in the background without an install.  If you are still running Windows 95, I really don’t know what to suggest… :)

Ad-Aware Free Antivirus: Lavasoft describes this as something that “combines our legendary Anti-spyware with a super fast, free Antivirus. It now features  download protection (blocks malicious files before being written to disk), sandboxing (keeps unknown apps running in a virtual environment) and advanced detection.”  It’s good for Windows 8, 7, XP and Vista.

AVG Anti-virus Free:   Another free resource that detects and stops viruses, threats and malware.

And what I think is the most important suggestion…Is everyone in your house singing off the same sheet of music when it comes to online protection?  You are probably doing all of the right things to protect your computer investment…but are your kids?  Your grandkids?  Your spouse?  Your parents?  Why do I ask?  Well, I think of my senior citizen parents who allow the grandkids to come and go on their computer.  Not only can that be some dangerous “grandparenting,” it’s also bad PC management.  It feels like we are CONSTANTLY cleaning viruses and the like off of their computer because not only are they not keeping up with PC clean up, but they allow the g/k’s to go onto any site they want.  Make sure that you set the expectation and that if a child (or adult) is allowed to use the PC without supervision, they know the rules of proverbial road.  If you have doubts, consider setting up accounts for each user on the computer so that they cannot make changes to the PC without the administrator password…that you don’t leave on a post-it note next to the computer!

We will share some additional suggestions on technology repair/management in our next post in this series.  Thanks and happy homesteading!

Shellie, Contributing Writer, Modern Homesteaders

Blueberry Acres Farm

 

I think my family is trying to murder me…

…through sleep deprivation.

 

Sorry for the lack of posts/responses lately folks.  Between Sheldon’s snoring, Blueberry’s wandering and everyone’s nighttime noisiness, Blueberry Acres Farm has been far from bucolic over the last week.  It hasn’t been all zombie-like movements…We have successfully planted 12 new trees (go environment!), ordered what feels like truck loads more (I have no freaking idea where these new trees are going), gotten in another order of seeds, gotten in bedding plants and almost broke my amazingly agile and healthy 70 year old Dad as he helped us plant the latest batch of trees in the driving/cold rain.

This weekend will bring us more dog training, more garden planting, probably more trees, and apparently the building of a turkey coop THAT I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO BUILD BEFORE THE TURKEYS GET HERE IN 3 WEEKS.

I have lots more to say but no time to say it right now.  Calgon take me away!  🙂

 

Arbor Day Foundation: More than just cheesy commercials

Those of us of a certain age all remember the Trees are Terrific commercials that Arbor Day put out a couple of decades ago.  While the commercials were over the top patronizing, the message was still solid…get out there and plant some trees people.  Enter in Arbor Day Foundation 2013.  They are still alive and kicking without the cheesy animated cardinal.  Their website http://www.arborday.org has a wealth of information about planting in your zone, educational programs for kids as well as opportunities to help your city/town replenish your tree population through programs like Tree City USA.

pic courtesy of arborday.org

pic courtesy of arborday.org

They also have what looks like a beautiful lodge for the ULTIMATE tree hugger vacation, Lied Lodge.  While we have not been there, I think it would be a very easy sell for me to get Sheldon to visit their lodge/tree farm while I get some rubs in the spa:

Barn at the lodge: pic courtesy of Lied Lodge

Barn at the lodge: pic courtesy of Lied Lodge

But, I’m not here to talk about scamming my way into a spa day (sigh, heavenly!)…I’m here to talk about scoring some bargain trees.  You can do this a few different ways like through getting a membership for ten itty bitty dollars, you get ten free trees that you get to select from a listing of either ten of the same, or just ten pretty flowering trees that are well suited for your zone like the Golden Raintree:

pic courtesy of forestry.about.com

pic courtesy of forestry.about.com

Or, if you are feeling more generous, you can either opt for no trees at all…or you can select that your ten free trees go into a Nat’l Forest.  In addition to the gift with membership purchase, you can also just purchase trees outright from their nursery, which we did (and I will blog on when I’m not so sore from the planting.) The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the idea of ordering fruit trees through them without being able to verify from whence they came….ie…GMO?  It looks like some of their fruit trees are heirloom varieties but I can’t seem to find information on the others.  However, I personally believe there is much that you can do to “rehabilitate” certain plants/trees if you take a long view approach.  That is-more than likely, these trees will take at least a few years to reach fruit bearing stage.  As a result, if perhaps they grew up initially in a “broken-home” full of chemicals from parents with questionable heritage, they can still be loved, nurtured and eventually grown as organic as possible.   And while you can’t love the GMO out of a plant, I do think that you can get pretty close to what God intended with some TLC.  Bottom line is that while I can’t verify if these trees are all heirloom, non-GMO, organic, etc etc…I still believe it is a really good thing for the environment planting more trees that are good for your zone.

Sigh, ok…gotta go get dressed for a morning of boring errands in the city.  Been up waaaay too long today.  Curse you time change!  Happy planting!

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!  http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!
http://newlifeonahomestead.com

 

 

It’s time for a quickie

Not much to say today since I have miles to go before I sleep, but did want to share this pretty view from my “office” this morning.  I would also share a picture of our alpha barn cat Fluffy Newspaper, but it’s hard to get a picture of him when he is too busy sticking his bottom in my face.  What is the deal with cats and their bottoms?  Sigh.  Anyway-hope you have a beautiful day!

 

This would be perfect if my toes weren't freezing.

This would be perfect if my toes weren’t freezing.

A day in my life…or why I don’t return your calls

I feel like I have been dropping the ball a lot in the friend department.  I’m not returning calls very fast (if at all) and I swear, if texting didn’t exist, I don’t know that I would communicate with anyone outside of my house.  I’m sure a lot of homesteaders feel this way.  It’s hard to connect with your city friends whose lifestyle can often be so different.  Not that ours is more or less busy-it’s just typically that the schedules are so diverse it’s hard to make a connection.  And definitely, I’m not saying that my particular slice of life is more hectic than anyone else’s life (in fact, I spent several bucolic moments in a rocker on my front porch yesterday, so no complaints)…but in the event I fail to call you back today, this week, heck-this month, I want you to know it’s not personal.   Here is a little peek into a recent day:

5:30 Wake up

5:40 Convince Blueberry to stop poking me in the back and go back to bed

6:00 Actually get up, fix coffee, feed inside felines, assess mess left by Sheldon from last night’s emergency chicken whacking, think nice thoughts about Sheldon’s anal kitchen cleaning abilities

6:10  Get Sheldon up, make lunch for Blueberry, make breakfast for Blueberry, pack bag for Blueberry

6:30  Get dressed and begin taking care of 30 (33 if you count the wild Bantams who have adopted us) outside animals

7:00 Give Kya and Buddy some “born free” time before feeding everyone else

7:20 Argue with Blueberry that a t-shirt and tights are not a complete outfit, get her dressed, move Sheldon’s work pants from certain inside feline doom and go back to the animal salt mines outside

7:30 Feed dogs, feed cats, feed chicks and Lana the chicken

7:35 Get Blueberry buckled in for drive to school, get her gear in, discuss why she can’t play with dogs in the mud

7:45 Wave bye-bye for what feels like 20 minutes, come in and check work email

8:00-9:00 Handle personal business, update this blog, think about updating other blog, check stats, read an article on Joe Davis

9:00-11:00 Conduct status calls with 5-7 job seekers, return work email, realize I had forgotten to put appt on my calendar, apologize profusely and conduct call, work on drafting training program for new and revised LinkedIn workshop, return calls, work network for 2 leads for job seekers, wonder why Lana insists on roosting in the car port, build Lana a temporary roost box while chicks have invaded her space, have a slice of chocolate cake I made yesterday (but was too ill to eat), think nice chocolately thoughts, prep beans for dinner tonight

11:00-12:00 Dust mop upstairs, clean litter boxes, do dishes, do load of laundry, clean bathroom, finish putting dinner in crock pot for tonight

12:00-1:00 Conduct intake call with new job seeker, follow-up with 2 other job seekers

1:00-2:00 Realize I have forgotten to shower, shower, let dogs have afternoon “born free” time, check on chicks, reinforce coop door (again), put out feed for Lana, the Bantams and the wild birds, leave cats in charge

2:00-3:00 Drive into town to pick up Blueberry from school

3:00-4:00 Obtain one reluctant to leave child from school, drive to karate, make deals about what snacks are acceptable from snack machine, answer no less than 27 questions at a collegiate level asked by a 4-year-old, put on karate uniform, wash hands a lot

4:00-5:00 Watch karate, sometimes in abject horror at child’s behavior.  Wish that instructors found her less cute and more deserving of ninja attack to improve discipline.  Feel overwhelming joy and pride when she gives her best effort.  Frustration when that doesn’t happen.  Work on resume gratis for friend, send it for feedback

5:00-5:30 Drive home

5:30-6:00 Feed outside animals, check on chicks, convince Lana to get back in her coop, get bitten in the butt at least twice by Kya, sigh copiously

6:00-6:50 Eat dinner, commence child bathing routine

6:50-7:20 Get child clean, in pj’s and read to.  In theory, child in bed by 7:30.  In reality, closer to 8:00

7:30-8:30 Conduct new client intake call, follow-up on earlier emails, try to reach other job seeker who won’t talk during day, wrap up paid work day

8:30-10:00 Attempt to appear awake to entertain Sheldon and our houseguest, wonder if I remembered to brush my teeth today

10:00-?  Sleep and then start it all over again tomorrow