Yep, it’s that time of the year folks. Back in the spring it was so hard to only plant one zucchini plant. Heh, now what are you going to do?
I thought I was being restrained. I really did. After last year’s monster zucchini I didn’t see any reason to ever plant more than one summer squash.
I had picked up some sugar pumpkin seeds this spring at the seed swap at Homegrown New Mexico thinking, “What the heidi-ho? Some pumpkin pie would be nice.” Well my friends, squash are infamous for being a little naive and a bit loose. Clearly some some bees took last year’s pumpkin and a willing zucchini out for a few too many drinks because the love child of that tryst created a plant that makes the biggest baddest squash you’ve ever seen!
About 8 years ago I came across an ad in the newspaper selling ‘authentic Mongolian yurts’. Intrigued, I showed the ad to Molly. It gets a little cramped in our 1,100 sf home when we have visitors and a yurt sounded like it would make a perfect guesthouse for us. ( A yurt is a large circular tent- about 300 square feet. Nomads use them as their housing moving them as they follow their herds across the steppes of Asia. They are actually called gers in Mongolia but we’ll stick with the term westerners are more familiar with.) » » »
Almost exactly a year ago my sister Heidi, her boyfriend Alan and his daughter Ellen came out to visit. Never ones to miss an opportunity to advance a building project we put Alan to work helping to put a roof on what was just a papercrete ring at the time. It was a big push and as they left, I promised that I would finish covering the roof so that all our hard work wouldn’t be in vain. Alan, it turns out, isn’t one to let an opportunity to go by either. In the past year he managed to finagle Heidi into agreeing to marry him and produce an exact replica of himself.
Congratulations on the cloning efforts guys!
» » »
We said we’d be gone a couple weeks. It’s been a month and we’re leaving on Thursday for a vacation. Oh nuts! We’d better put something up before y’all figure we’ve given up the ghost (at least bloggingly).
Molly:Weeee’re BaAAAack Peeps!!
Mike: That’s right! We needed some time to get some perspective on what we’re doing here at Mike and Molly’s House in internetland but we’re back with a sackful of stuff to share with you guys.
We both really like what we’ve created and love the feedback we keep getting from the community of like minded people that we’ve discovered through blogging and going out into the world as “Mike and Molly”. It truly has changed our lives for the better (much better… a heartfelt thanks everyone). We’re also realizing that full time blogging as an income plan is probably not all that realistic.
Pistol & Dumpling (in unison): Told you so!
Mike & Molly: Dang it!
» » »
Around here if it rots it goes into the compost pile. That includes chicken parts when we’re processing the meat chickens. Hold on! All the gardening books insist that you can’t compost meat. Well, you can. Everything rots and given enough time and the proper conditions it turns into nice black humus. Nature is very efficient and you can really see it in action in a compost pile. We let our chicken compost go for two years so that the microbes have a nice long time to do their work. In the end, aside from an occasional bone, we end up with great compost.
There is a caveat though. Chicken guts don’t smell the best for the first couple of weeks as they are rotting. In fact (big surprise) rotting chicken guts are really smelly! We do our best to minimize the smell mixing lots of straw and other high carbon materials in to help combine with the nitrogen rich chicken parts. After the first couple weeks the smell dies down but as we’ve increased our batches of chickens from 25 to 50 though it’s gotten pretty stinky around the compost piles.
» » »
Late May is a busy time of the year around here. The last frost usually falls between Mother’s Day and the beginning of June so there’s all sorts of planting/ transplanting going on. The girls are wrapping up school and we’re out almost every evening with a recital, awards ceremony or some other wrap-up-the-year event.
Late May is also when the bees come. No, they’re not migrating. They arrive at the Post Office. We order our bees from Wolf Creek Apiaries in Tennessee. By now their bee season has been in full swing for months. Ours is just getting started. We’ve had the early flush of fruit trees flowering but the bulk of our flowers won’t be coming out till June on. » » »
Last Friday one of our readers, Tina Phillips, shared an intriguing link on our facebook page. It was about an experimental building method called spaceplates being developed by the Danish collective N55 that looks suspiciously like the future of building from the late 60’s.
Based on the research of the late Danish engineer Ture Wester, spaceplates are a rigid, light weight modular building system. Being a pure plate structure, there are no other structural members than thin plates, bent at all edges to achieve a simple, mechanical assembly method. While the design and the production requires digital technology, the structure itself can be assembled using only hand tools. » » »
I came across strawbale gardening last year but it was too late in the season to try it so it went on the back burner and waited for this year. The idea is simple. Put some dirt (about4″) on top of a straw bale, stick a plant in it and let it grow. The dirt supplies the nutrients and the strawbale acts as a giant sponge holding and supplying water. It also breaks down over the course of the season and supplies some nutrients as well. Supposedly you can get two seasons out of a bale. When it is spent you just compost it!
» » »
Farm to table is a popular meme these days. It evokes all sorts of romantic notions of land stewardship, organic foods and right living. It lets those who would like to participate in this vision without actually farming themselves close the loop by buying from small local farmers at the farmer’s market or eating at restaurants that carry local food.
The boxcar of Boxcar Farm
I got to briefly meet some people last week who are right smack dab at the origin of the cycle. Kristen and Avrum Katz are the proprietors of Boxcar Farm up in Peñasco, New Mexico and by up I mean 8,000 feet up in the air. Their high mountain farm picks up more moisture which allows them to do more growing with less irrigation. I have to admit I was more than a little jealous of their lush pastures although I know they endure some harsh winters in the bargain. » » »
Last weekend we held a papercrete making workshop. It was divided into two parts. The first half we cast some blocks and the second half we added to the walls we started last year. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. About 10 people showed up.
Mike: I had no idea how many people we would have, whether it would be 5 or 55…
Molly: 10 was a great amount. Not so many we were overwhelmed and not so few that we felt like the workshop had no draw.
I have to admit there was a Tom Sawyer aspect to this class. It worked out quite well. Everyone got to try stacking blocks while I kept them supplied with mortar and advice. We got the rest of the walls completed in a couple hours! The first half took us most of a day.
Molly: It felt great to make a big push on the greenhouse project.
Mike: What should we teach next? How to cover a yurt roof?
Molly: YUP!!!! » » »