Larisa Walk

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since Jun 29, 2010
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Recent posts by Larisa Walk

We hang wet stuff near the stove in winter, but with caution after a friend nearly lost his house/life/kids when a clothesline full of wet winter clothes (synthetic fabrics) came loose and fell on the woodstove, catching fire and quickly spreading. It happened at night but luckily the kids got out, running barefoot in the snow to the neighbor's house while our friend tried to get a burning mattress out of the house before the fire department arrived. He ended up in the hospital with some nasty burns. Fortunately the rural volunteer fire department put out the blaze and saved the house.
5 days ago
We have a cement floor in our coop to keep out rodents and we used to have sand on that. It was easy to clean up with a litter box scoop. That worked well until we added ducks into the picture. Wet sand is big mess and ducks will get water everywhere when eating. (I think that keeping ducks and chickens together is a bit like the "Odd Couple" if you think about it.) We ended up taking out all the sand and covering the cement with rubber cow mats that are 1/2" thick. Warmer on the feet than the sand and easy on the birds legs. Easy to squeegee up any mess/poop into a big dustpan or use a hand hoe when the stuff freezes. Not too slippery even when there is some ice on the floor. We now have a female duck who thinks she is a chicken. We have steps up to the roost that were installed years ago for an old less-abled chicken. The duck climbs up the steps nightly and sleeps on the poop board that is under the roost bar, next to her chicken buddies. Very cute!
1 week ago
I like to think of puffballs as the tofu of the mushroom world. They are great fried up until crispy when well seasoned or marinated. But as much as we like dehydrating, I have to admit that our early attempts many years ago to dry puffballs lead to disgusting results. The odor when dried was a bit like old gym socks that were unwashed and left in a locker. But one year we had several big puffballs that were 12-18" in diameter - way too much for fresh eating. So I fried them all up in 1/2" cubes, ate what we could and dried the rest. They came out fine, we stored them in a very cool place and ate them up as soon as we could as I thought the oil might get funky if left too long. They made great tasty chunks when added to pasta sauces.
1 week ago
In my case the tendon dislocation felt like my arm was being ripped off and I couldn't raise my arm at all. Fortunately I was able to reseat the tendon into its groove by massaging it back into place. After healing for several weeks I was back to being able to lift stuff, but not with my arms out away from my body at shoulder level. Interestingly my friend has a broadfork with a single handle coming up into a T handle crossbar. I used this one afternoon in her garden with no problems. It's all in the ergonomics. I would suggest this type of design for others with shoulder issues or those who want to avoid them.
2 weeks ago
Yes, we built a broadfork. About 1-1/4" pipe with elbows at either end that fiberglas handles from our post hole digger fit into and a wood tread. The tines are from grade #5 hardened steel rod about 11", about 4" apart. It does work but weighs about 17#, too heavy and awkward for me, a 5.5' mid 60's woman in good physical condition. Using the broadfork caused me to have a shoulder injury, a tendon that slipped out of its groove. The type of movement that is required to lift the broadfork is exactly the thing that can cause this injury. As we age, the groove in the shoulder for the tendon gets more worn and it makes it easier to have this happen. So ultimately it turned out that I can accomplish the task by using my regular long-handled forged garden fork. It's half as wide but over twice as fast to do the same loosening action on our soil with no shoulder complaints. Here's a link to a photo:

2 weeks ago
We've been using the Greenworks rechargeable tiller with 40-volt, 4 amp-hour batteries for about 4 years. We have dense clay soil that sometimes gets crusty or clumpy, depending on the weather. Our beds are 4-by-20 foot size, and when we just need to transplant we simply fork the beds deeply and rake them out more or less smooth. But for seeding stuff, especially fine seeds like carrots, it often works out better to use the tiller, then rake it smooth and flat. We removed the wheels from our Greenworks since it's so easy to steer it by just leaning it left or right. We allow the tines to pull it forward, then pull slowly back to make it dig down, then lean it in the direction of the next pass and let it pull itself into position. It's very easy to use and gives very satisfactory results. We also have a Mantis 3-speed, 120-volt model from many years ago that got used for the same purpose but we got tired of moving cords around since that took 2 people and lots of cord for our big garden. One battery pack gives us enough juice for about 3 beds at 80 sq. ft. each. It's not good for breaking ground or incorporating unchopped organic material since the tines clog too easily. But it does work to incorporate if we use the Greenworks cordless 16" mower first to chop stuff down. For breaking sod on new ground we have an electric 30" tiller on the back of our trusty old G.E. Elec-trak 36-volt garden tractor. Two passes with that does the big jobs. We don't use it for annual "tillage" since just a long-tined garden fork does the job to deeply "fluff" our snow-compacted clay. A wheel hoe with stirrup blade finishes that job. All of our cordless stuff, the tractor, electric bikes, and our house are charged from our 4.4 KW PV system.
3 weeks ago
An old Corona hand grain mill is often recommended and it does work fine in my experience, but what a PITA to clean up. I've used the food chopper attachment for our Kitchen Aide with the 1/8" holes. It works OK but does better if the corn is run through for a second pass. My favorite, lazy way is to make the hominy and use it whole. When added to seasoned beans, salsa and lettuce you have a deconstructed tortilla meal. All the flavor with less work.
4 weeks ago
This is very much like a game we play here called Skrump. In our version, the first person writes the start of a sentence with a subject and adjectives, folds the paper down and hands to the next person who writes the second half of the sentence with verbs and adverbs. The next person then gets to draw the entire sentence which is completely disjointed. Then the next person has to write an entire sentence based on the drawing, and so on back and forth. It's most fun to play with people who are good at the text parts coming up with sentences that are particularly hard to draw. By the time the paper makes one round it's hard to tell a single element of the original contribution. For instance "(The stiff road-killed opossum) (sauntered leisurely)." eventually morphed into "The crazed cat was ejected from his minivan when the idot driving the Lincoln Continental hit him head-on." Or "(A hirsute orangutan) (discuss Plato) turns into "The auctioneer took bids on the old schoolhouse even as it burned. Or "(The delicious pumpkin pie) (kissed Mother Superior's ring) eventually was "Three mesmerized Cossacks watched Dancing with the Stars while Granny Babushka baked buns in her brick oven." They provide laughs for years if you hang on to them. Even now I'm LMAO looking back at the pile of old games from many years ago.
4 weeks ago
The first time I had some blackened dried tomatoes, I thought they were a write-off. But even the most dark ones add an interesting flavor to sauces made from canned tomatoes. Kind of like having oven-roasted tomatoes without the energy use and fuss. Even in our solar dryer that keeps direct sun off the foods, it is possible on really hot days to get a little burning, particularly if the tomatoes are high sugar content. If they are only slightly browned, you've just got some carmelized sugars to add depth of flavor.
1 month ago
All of the bean varieties we grow are of the water shedding type. Too bad seed catalogs don't list this trait. One can only do trials to find it out. I noticed that the pods that are best at shedding water have a hard, shiney interior to the pods. Another trait that pods can have is clingy to the beans (like Cranberry pole beans) or not. The clingy pods are harder to thresh. We grow Nora Day Fall bean that has the clingy pod trait because the eating quality is so good and the bean does well in all other ways. Otherwise this is a trait that we try to avoid.
2 months ago