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Cécile Stelzer Johnson

pollinator
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since Mar 09, 2015
I no longer have to work, so I'm developing a lot of different interests, beekeeping being the most expensive. Bees/ pollinators are in trouble and I decided to help. Getting chemicals out of our lives seems like a good idea. I'd like to be self sufficient so that I can have fun doing gardening, raising chickens and selling honey. Red oaks are all dying of the wilt and I may have a CAFO just west of me in a very near future. They will start by cutting all the trees, so I'll be the first one to smell their cows. (A confined Animal Feeding Operation is not my dream neighbor). All our red oaks are dying of the wilt and I'm trying to find suitable trees to replace them. Burying all that brush may be the best option to enrich the soil, which is *very* sandy and *very* poor.
zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Recent posts by Cécile Stelzer Johnson

Abraham Palma wrote:Here is my challenge.

I can toy with a garden with 800 sq meters in a Mediterranean climate (not a single drop from June to September, no freeze either). This garden has no water at all. There might be some runoff water, but I am not allowed to divert it, neither allowed to dig a well. Only rainwater. We run a NGO with no money at all, only hand work. The city hall allowed our asociation to manage the site, but they don't help much.
.......



As I see it, you have one major problem, which is 1/ your City Hall's refusal to help provide life saving fresh water. You may want to get politically involved in removing the most negative members of that outfit: You cannot be the only one in our situation. You don't indicate the type of soil you have or if it would retain water with serious help/ mulch. You may not be allowed to dig a well [and how deep is the first water anyway?] but building an underground cistern [in a clandestine manner if need be], may be allowed [?]
2/ Your second problem is your climate, which just doesn't provide enough fresh water to sustain your crops. I will just assume that the price of fresh water in your community is financially out of reach.
One huge saving grace is that you live on the Mediterranean coast, with an abundance of salt water. There are ocean-going vessels that have on-board a means to desalinate water for human consumption. Here is an example:
https://www.bluewaterdesalination.com/
That too may be out of reach for now. However, don't lose hope: Where there is a will, there is a way. On a personal level, you seem isolated, although you mention an "Association". [could they help?] which makes it difficult to find solutions you can use. "L'union fait la force" as we say in French [there is strength/power in uniting with others]. You may be able to unite with a fisherman's union, as in the Mediterranean their numbers are dwindling and it is harder and harder for them to eke a living:
https://sevilla.abc.es/economia/sevi-andalucia-acuerdo-pesquero-union-europea-reducira-20-por-ciento-facturacion-sector-andaluz-202012172032_noticia.html?ref=https:%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
Your support of THEIR plight might help them support YOUR plight. Supplying people with fresh water sounds like an easier way for them to make a living than catching these elusive fish as the Law now restricts them. If you were to invest in a desalination effort on their boat, they might be able to provide you with a harvest of fresh water that you could use. You could drive to their dock in the harbor and with the help of a transfer pump collect the water they harvested for you and pay them by the container? You would have to guestimate how much water that would be per week for the surface to water, then go for it.
Malaga also seems to have a fair number of pallet producers, which may help you get to a source of woodchips for mulch[?]
https://www.suppliersof.com/wood-container-pallet-manufacturing/es/Malaga/80378614
If you cannot work with fishermen losing their jobs, you may be able to work with a larger outfit, like Club Med: they go in the ocean all the time and they have to have a desalination process on board, already built.
At present, you are doing a back-breaking, herculean job to transform your property into a place where you would be able to grow more crops. Perhaps building a cistern [which should be out of view/ prying eyes] could be part of your solution.
Let us know how things are progressing, and good luck on your project[s]
3 days ago
It is just me and my hubby, and no, he does not support permaculture or any of the work I do in the garden, the orchard, the chicken coop. Meat is predominant in his diet. He likes the chicken soup I canned and the honey and the eggs, the apple schnapps. the Peppermint Schnapps but doesn't care to help. He will weld for me and has a good mechanical mind, which comes in handy once in a while. He helps here and there with "mechanicals things", just not with "permies stuff". Gardening is too hard for him.
I don't care: the beauty of being old is that you regain a lot of freedoms: "FREEDOM is being you, without anyone's permission".[Being financially secure enough, I abuse the privilege - if it is a privilege].
My kids live in Chicago, so not much gardening there, although... They enjoy fresh food and appreciate my productions, so all is not lost...
All in all, I'm happy. Can't ask for more, right?

John F Dean wrote:My family has had nothing to do with me for many years.  They have decided I am a woods hippie. ....not that they have ever seen the home I live in.



We still love you, though.

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:


Hi Cecile. Most sheep here are raised for meat. And the strange thing is: meat of the Dutch sheep is exported. Most Dutch people never eat lamb or 'mutton'. And most of the leg-of-lamb sold here is imported from New Zealand!
The wool from the meat-sheep here too often ends as trash (not even compost). While using it for insulation should be much better. Strangely enough it's easier to find hemp insulation products than wool insulation ...
As for your points on wool:
1. Yes, many people consider wool itchy. Maybe it is if you're not used to wearing wool. It doesn't feel the same as cotton, or as synthetics. Myself I don't like the feel of synthetic fibers.
2. That would be the same for every fiber. Clothes are cheap because they are produced in 'low-wage' countries and often that isn't the case for wool clothes.
3. Hemp is a very good fiber to grow, as well as flax (linen). Cotton in fact costs a lot more, but those are 'hidden costs', not calculated in the prices of the clothes. And all of those have different properties from wool. It's like comparing apples and pears ...
4. Yes. Cleaning wool is not as easy. But wool doesn't need to be cleaned that often. It doesn't take body odors.



Points well taken, Inge, especially point #2: It enrages me that 98% of our clothing is imported! Just for that, I buy my clothes from Goodwill if I can't afford those made in the US [I treat myself once or twice a year, but otherwise, it is Goodwill]. I'm not very familiar with growing cotton, but I heard that it ravages the land. Growing hemp in Wisconsin used to be an important crop here before some folks went all "War on Drugs" on us and ruined all the hemp producers. My local Senator is trying to bring it back, but with so many rules and regulations that no one can afford to do it unless you are a very rich landowner and can afford the $500 per plot [no matter how small], plus the $500 tax on processing, plus also another fee for inspecting the product. New hemp producers have figured out that if they *store* the hemp for a while before they can get it inspected inspected, the THC concentration gets higher than 0.3% and their entire crop gets burned. It is insane!
I consider it a sin to waste such a valuable item as wool. Using it as insulation would be fabulous. Does Owens Corning have the market on Insulation and prevent any competition? Is that the reason why?
Some folks on the thread confess to not wearing wool, which is my case also. I think wool has 3 problems:
1/ people think of it as itchy, scratchy.
2/ going from the raw materials to the finished product makes it an expensive item.
3/ The competition of cheaper natural fibers such as cotton, and soon, perhaps, hemp in clothing. Although hemp is lighter and is better suited for wicking moisture away.
4/ Caring for wool products after is more complicated: We have all washed a wool product in hot water by accident with terrible consequences or stored a favorite sweater only to discover the mites have gotten to it.
Yet there are a number of people who raise sheep for meat, and the wool of these animals goes into compost? Certainly it should be possible to use it for insulation as it has definite advantages over the conventional artificial materials. If you raise sheep and can't sell your wool you might want to investigate this thread: I know that if I had to build another insulated structure, wool is the first material I would go to.
https://www.buildwithrise.com/stories/can-you-use-sheep-wool-to-insulate-your-home#:~:text=Sheep's%20wool%20insulation%20is%20naturally,pass%20through%20without%20retaining%20it.
As perhaps a 5th problem is that while we have a number of folks raising sheep, sheep *meat* is not as popular as beef or chicken. that too makes it difficult for the wool industry to become a money maker.

Jay Angler wrote:

May Lotito wrote: Next one I am going to try the Japanese type with cross over back. Faster and easier to put on.

Yes, it was seeing one of those that got me moving on starting this thread - good coverage as I'm prone to splattering "above the waist", but quick to put on and doesn't pull on the neck. I'll need to look through my fabric stash. A cotton sheet seems a bit thin compared to what I'd like.




I rarely wear aprons because I have not found one that would fit comfortably, with pockets that would not spill the contents when I lean forward. This Japanese style looks to be a lot better. For those like me who don't have a sewing machine [and hate sewing, and are not good at it,] they are for sale too in more specialized places: This one is made of denim 14, so it should be sturdy. Now, if it could *also* be a bit cheaper... There may be other sites and brands? As far as creativity, using the back side of old jeans, with the crotch under your armpits, that is really cool. The back pockets could be preserved if they ended in the right place?
https://www.rockler.com/rockler-cross-back-shop-apron?country=US&sid=V91040&promo=shopping&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=PL&gclid=CjwKCAiAuoqABhAsEiwAdSkVVCLgi2Mbcmvga-D-1HXhkoWJf2usQDgJCmhK6yguZaauofgLIA_cnRoCsCEQAvD_BwE
1 week ago

leila hamaya wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
Also, I make Kirsch from the wild cherries we have around here. I don't know what they are: they are not the tart cherry but sweet cherries can't survive our winters in zone 4, so it is not a sweet cherry either. It is sweet enough to eat out of hand but does have a large stone relative to the flesh. The whole fruit is the size of an overgrown snap peas.
It seems to be a "prunus serotina": The timeline for flowering and fruiting seem to mesh. The immature bark looks like that too. However, in the liquor I make, I ground the flesh and the pits and the seeds inside them, and everything goes in the Vodka to make an extract. The Wiki says that the seeds are poisonous, just like the pits of apricots & peaches, but I assure you that liquor is pretty darn good and has not even given me the slightest tommy ache. Perhaps it is the Vodka in which it macerates for 3 weeks that kills the poisonous effect? I'm not sure.
Another thing that does not quite mesh with the Wiki: These trees are quick to fruit, like 3-4 years, abundantly from the get go [some trees look red/black from the house] and the mature bark doesn't look as furrowed as the photo they have here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_serotina
.



there are several different subspecies of prunus serotina, it is a very ancient tree and theres also many localized adaptations....theres also several types of wild cherries not in the serotina species, such as bird cherry, prunus avium or prunus padus




Well, Leila, you may have solved my problem. Because the prunus avium is what *sweet cherry* cultivars are called, who don't make it in Wisconsin zone 4, I had excluded that possibility out of hand, but my wild cherries didn't quite 'fit' the profile of the serotina either. Looking more closely at the picture of the prunus avium in the Wiki article below, another difference that jumped at me is that the fruit attachment is not that of a raceme. Rather, they seem to sprout all at once from a common pedicel, more like sweet cherries, although a few of the tress I have also have racemes, and the petals are larger, making quite a show when they are in bloom. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_avium#Mazzard
Reading also that this cherry used to be in old times referred to as a Mazzard cherry and knowing that many sweet cherries are on Mazzard stock, perhaps what I have growing in great abundance here is the former *stock* of the prunus Avium/ Mazzard. I do have a sweet cherry, a Danube cultivar that made it several winters here. I might try to graft this Danube on a number of wild trees, just to see what will result. I might also try other sweet cherries that have not been growing here, some zone 5 sweet cherries, since the Arbor Day Foundation keeps telling me that I'm in zone 5, now that winters are warmer here.
1 week ago
Besides Permaculture, which has really sunk its teeth into me, I've started to make many different liqueurs: I hate wasting fruit, and it is just hubby and me, so we get too many fruit and I have to do something with them. [If you have more ideas , let me know.]
Galliano [from Agastache Hyssop],
Peppermint Schnapps,
Apple hard cider/ schnapps
Elderberry syrup [but I want it to keep a long time, so I add honey and Vodka :-) ].
Also, after tasting black currants fresh from the bush, I decided I didn't care for them. but now, I have the bushes, so what to do? Well a great blackcurrant liqueur! Mom used to make a jam out of her black currants, but that was so long ago I forgot even if I liked it. I'm sure it was sweet, so I most likely liked it.
Also, I make Kirsch from the wild cherries we have around here. I don't know what they are: they are not the tart cherry but sweet cherries can't survive our winters in zone 4, so it is not a sweet cherry either. It is sweet enough to eat out of hand but does have a large stone relative to the flesh. The whole fruit is the size of an overgrown snap peas.
It seems to be a "prunus serotina": The timeline for flowering and fruiting seem to mesh. The immature bark looks like that too. However, in the liquor I make, I ground the flesh and the pits and the seeds inside them, and everything goes in the Vodka to make an extract. The Wiki says that the seeds are poisonous, just like the pits of apricots & peaches, but I assure you that liquor is pretty darn good and has not even given me the slightest tommy ache. Perhaps it is the Vodka in which it macerates for 3 weeks that kills the poisonous effect? I'm not sure.
Another thing that does not quite mesh with the Wiki: These trees are quick to fruit, like 3-4 years, abundantly from the get go [some trees look red/black from the house] and the mature bark doesn't look as furrowed as the photo they have here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_serotina
Next year, I'm hoping to try the same treatment on mulberries, as I expect to have quite a few, red/black and whites.
1 week ago
Wow, Blaine. Thanks for all the info. I will probably have to study it [a lot] and for a long time, but it is enraging that someone has to study all these things just to avoid having our information stolen.
2 weeks ago
The "right way" if, at 72, and on my second marriage, I can be as arrogant as to give advice on the subject, is to make lists of all the chores that need doing and study them for a while.
That is valid for all the expenses as well. Because it is a second marriage, and after the kids were out of the nest, we each came into it with a little money for retirement. His bills are paid by him, My bills are paid by me, [like insurance, new vehicles] some are paid by both [like electricity, landline, internet, taxes]. For the food, sometimes he does, sometimes I do, as he does the cooking but I like my own things as well.
Once you have that list of chores, take turns selecting the ones you like. You will invariably end up with a few that neither one of you likes doing. For us, it is cleaning the floors. For those, you need to take turns. Put them on a calendar if you have to. It is better than harsh words when it is the calendar that says...
You might think that keeping money separate is not very loving. Perhaps. But that is how we never have discussions about money heated or otherwise. The common bills come, we see what needs to be paid and we each put 1/2 into the account and the checks go out. We have zero credit cards in common. It was the same thing with my first husband, after a little painful wrangling. When came the time to divorce, we were able to do so amicably and without lawyers because our assets were already pretty much separated and it was not so acrimonious that we could not agree on what was left.
2 weeks ago