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EU Takes Additional Steps to Protect Bees

From the BBC:

“Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.”

For the full article, please go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22335520

Unfortunately, the EPA is not protecting bees, and is now being sued by environmental and beekeeping groups. 

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Consider What You Wear – Thread

Clothing is a highly personal thing.  What we wear reflects a great deal about us, and to an extent even our religious beliefs.  But few people consider that our decisions regarding clothing can affect sustainable economic outcomes and in a large way, the amount of toxins that are spread globally.

If you have been reading this blog, you know that the view promoted here is not of earth worship or global warming.  Regardless of political views, scientific opinion, etc, it still just makes common sense to care about our surroundings and each other.  God made us stewards of the earth.  Promoting industries that make materials out of toxins that won’t break down in a landfill for several hundred years just isn’t logical.   Cancer rates keep rising, and no industry will accept responsibility.  Let’s stop making guinea pigs of ourselves and go back to what worked.

This interesting documentary, Thread, calls our attention to the massive amount of pesticides and toxins that are used in making clothing, especially in parts of the world where the standard of living is abysmal.  It shows the role of the fashion industry in creating much of this problem.   The  link is for the documentary trailer.  It is only about three minutes long.  One staggering statistic is that it takes 700 gallons of water to make one T-shirt.   When the documentary is released, this blog will report it.

Thread documentary trailer

I have seen the fashion industry make superficial attempts at making organic or sustainably produced clothing.  However, these same industries set a standard of changing what is fashionable so often that people who follow fashion are compelled to buy a new wardrobe every few years.  Just look at shoes.  A standard  pair of high healed pumps from a few years ago would “date” your outfit now that the industry has come out with these ankle-twisting stacked platform heals.   I will know that the fashion industry takes the environment seriously when I see that the fashion periodicals stop ridiculing “outdated” looks.  They want you to recycle everything but your clothing.

Personally, I like the vintage look, and I still have some clothes from the 80’s and 90’s, and some fur coats that are much older than that.  Fur coats are one of the best examples of recycling and it amazes me to see them so thoroughly condemned.  I wish organizations like PETA would rethink their position.  For example, I have two fur coats from my grandmother.  One is probably from the 40’s and the other from the 70’s.  My sweet grandmother wore those coats for decades.  How many synthetic polyester coats would still be around for 70 years, to still be worn and appreciated decades later by her granddaughter?  Oh, wait – they are still around, but unwearable –  filling landfills…. PETA insists on manmade materials in lieu of leather and furs – so how many animals were killed in the Exxon Valdez disaster?  How many in the BP oil disaster?  Wouldn’t it be better to raise cows humanely for the leather shoes than to supports a system that creates ecological disasters? 

As we have discussed, we raise sheep for their wool as a sustainable alternative to synthetic fibres that are so prevalent in chain retails stores.  Please, we encourage you to seek out sources of natural items – not only are they more breathable for your skin, but they don’t have a deleterious effect on the world. 

 

Climate Commentary and New Lambs

It may be best to provide the good news first and leave my cranky observations about weather to those who can stomach it :)

Our little darling, Buttercup gave birth this morning to two darling lambs, both snow white.  This is an interesting cross in breeds, as Buttercup is part Jacob and part Shetland, although she has none of the Jacob spotting.  The ram was Max, our purebred Friesian who has such a nice fleece.  It will be interesting to watch how the fleeces on the two newest develop.  Way to go, Buttercup!  You’re a good mother!  If anyone has ideas about names for them, one boy and one girl, please leave a note in comments.

buttercup

 

It was so cold visiting Buttercup and her babies that I had to duck into the Conservatory to warm up.  Our little seedlings are progressing nicely, the Broccoli Raab and Kasumi Cabbage (yum, Kimchi) doing the best so far.  It was also nice to see that one of the avocado trees is in bloom, finally!

seedlings

OK, If you are a firm believer that the planet is on the verge of climactic doom, you may want to skip the following.  Don’t get me wrong, I care about our surroundings as a steward.  Whether we believe in climate warming, climate change, or Climate Gate, we can agree that being responsible and leaving things in even better condition that we found them, if possible, is a mutual goal.   I don’t believe in planetary worship, setting planet Earth on some sort of pedestal with annual homage, but I do belive that God asks us to care for the things that He has provided.

My dissent with the climate warming advocates is that their dire predictions are not bearing out with reality in our own backyard.  Or actually in lots of places.  It is mid-March, and we can see snow in Europe delaying flights, and arctic blasts sweeping across this nation.  This morning was 25 degrees and the frozen ground is covered with a dusting of snow.   A look at the five-day forecast reveals predictions of highs in the forties for several of the next days, dropping to a high of 39 for Monday.

This is not normal, folks.  Please take a moment to look at the chart below provided by City-Data.com.  This is for Charles Town, WV a good bit north of us here.  Please note on it that the average daily high for mid-March is 55.

Average climate in Charles Town, West Virginia

Based on data reported by over 4,000 weather stations

Charles Town, West Virginia average temperatures

Weather.com reported just this week that camel-like animals lived in the arctic http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/arctic-camel-fossils-20130305  and admitted that the planet may have been much warmer than today.  If that is the case, life on earth obviously survived or I wouldn’t be writing this, and you wouldn’t be reading it.  Most people are also familiar with the Medieval Warming Period.  I have read some climate change alarmists make statements that “this was confined to Europe” although in the absence of any evidence about what went on in the rest of the world, I don’t know how they can make this statement.

Just as the sun goes through its cycles, I believe the Earth does as well.  These days it feels like we are getting colder.

Wattle Fence, Crocheted Vest, and Village Green Network

Several things to discuss today.

You may remember the first wattle fence article with input from the Frontier Culture Museum.  At the time, I advanced the theory with my husband that the wattles would create a cooler area on one side and a microclimate of warmth on the other.  Well, I can’t confirm my entire theory yet, since we have yet to finish the fence :)  Lack of cooperation with the weather I say, but none-the-less, we have been working on raising the other side.  I know there are lots of global warming alarmists who insist the planet is getting warmer, but we had snow in October and snow in March, which makes 6 months of snow, and I thought winter was generally three months longs, plus or minus, but I digress….

So, despite all the gaps between the branches, and all the sun that it still permits to go through, the snow last week confirmed part of my theory.

wattlesnow

 

We had highs in the fifties both Saturday and Sunday and experienced almost a full melt of the snow.  Almost!  Here is the one portion of the garden where the wattle is complete.  I know where my spinach and lettuce are going this year :)

Second, I finished a fun little project, something I had wanted to try lately, one of the little jackets or vest crocheted in the round.  This was made in a size small out of 100 percent mercerised cotton from Greece.  It has a lovely sheen and a ribbon-like feel.   The vest is available in the Meduseld Store.

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Catching Up

There has been all sorts of activity at Meduseld these last few days, so it is time to catch up.

With the burst of warm weather last week, some of the maples are starting to give sap.  The best weather pattern for sap is freezing nights with above freezing temperature days.  Once this cold snap moves through, we may be heading into ideal syrup weather.  Stay tuned.

Tomorrow should see some new items in the store.  I have been wrapping up (pun intended) two shoulder shawls (wraps) to sell, and there will be a little more wool.  Also, last week a large box of dyed wool went off to the fiber mill. 

A hint of an item going in the store…

 

blueshawlback

We also butchered some older hens over the weekend, and continue to see progress in the chickens’ health since we added fermented feed to their diets.  These stew hens were filled with the rich golden fat that makes such wonderful broths.

We also had friends come to visit.  During one of the visits our friend was sampling all the diverse lacto-fermented items we make here.  The idea came up for a lacto-fermentation workshop.  If you live in the area and are interested, please email me and we’ll try to set up a date.  For those who live further away, I will try to cover this topic thoroughly in a future blog.

 

 

Conservatory Gardening

Hoop houses are a wonderful way to extend the growing season, but what if you want to grow tropicals?  The winter temperatures would still destroy these tender sun-loving plants.  But even in this area it is possible to grow a West Virginia banana.  The answer is to build a conservatory.

This a a picture of our conservatory.  From the outside you cannot guess the treasure that lives within. 

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 It is a true living room, where beneficial soil bacteria, and insects are actually encouraged to grow.  The goal is to obtain a small ecosystem that balances itself with beneficial insects so that pesticides don’t ever have to be used.  Since we don’t sell any plants, we are comfortable with a higher level of insects than many people might tolerate.   We have also released batches of various beneficial insects to address any insect problems that did arise.   When you walk through this building, you find spider webs and frogs, a salamander hops into the little goldfish pond – it’s all very ALIVE.

 musa vente cohol

 

Here is a banana that is in “bloom,”  called Musa Vente Cohol.  It has pushed out immature banana clusters that will grow and ripen over the next several months.   Behind, you can see an avocado tree that has not started to produce yet, despite being over 10 feet tall.

Here is a cluster of aloe vera growing in an area designated for more desert types of plants.  This aloe vera is growing in the shadow of a cactus that is now about seven feet tall. 

 aloe vera

 

Here is a Monstera deliciosa producing a fruit.  This kind of plant grows in the tropics and in some areas, like Hawaii, is considered invasive.  It makes a gorgeous house plant, but in this case it is gradually taking over its corner of the conservatory.  We regularly have to cut it back since it now sprawls over about 15 feet.

sponge fruit

 

Another plant that has to be kept in check is the Bougainvillea.  It is a thorny trailing plant that grows rather large and has paper like flowers in a bright fuchsia color.  This plant grows in tropical climates, Florida, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.  It is said to have come from Brazil, where is grows abundantly.  The Bougainvillea in this picture has to share its space with another Brazilian tree, the Jaboticaba.  The Jaboticaba has an unusual way of growing its dark purple round fruits.  Instead of hanging from the outer branches, the blossoms and eventual fruits come right out of the thicker parts of the trunk, looking like something Dr. Zeus might have thought up.

  bougainvillia

 Citrus also does very well in this protected environment.  Lemons, limes, grapefruit, mandarin and orange trees are all included, and we are lucky to have a couple producing fruit right now.  Both the Kefir Lime, used in traditional Asian cooking, and the Naval Orange, have fruit, and they bloom several times a year, filling this living room with perfume. 

 

kefir lime

 Now for the techincal information.  This conservatory was built on a cement and cinderblock foundation and was framed with 2×8 pressure treated pine. The center of the floor was left as dirt, and once the foundation was done several truck loads of compost and top soil were added.  The trees and plants are planted directly in the ground.  The walls are 3/4 inch polycarbonate, much thicker than greenhouse kits that are available.  The conservatory, house and hot water are all heated with an outdoor wood burning furnace and this can be economical if you have enough wood so that you don’t have to buy it.  In our case, we have enough forest that we can’t keep up with the standing dead trees, so for us this is feasible.

In the recent past is has been unpopular to burn wood – some people asserted  it was bad for the environment.  The opinion of envirnmentalists is changing however, since this is a renewable energy source.  I am not fond of GreenPeace as an organization, especially its extremist positions and tactics, but one of its founders did say this:

“Forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that
provide us with energy and materials. To address climate change
we must use more wood, not less.  
Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to grow more trees.”          
~ Dr. Patrick Moore, Co-founder, Greenpeace~