Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hrm...Is Mold okay?

EWW!! or AWESOME!!


I just checked on our little worm friends and guess what? They've made friends! I have to say that I wasn't very excited about their new "friends" but it turns out that everything is OKAY. I guess I just assumed that when we started our worm bin, we would just have worms! I was wrong.

It turns out that there are all kinds of little tiny things living in our new bin...to include some mold. I lifted the lid for my daily peak and BAM! there it was.

I got a little nervous for our worms so I did some research (google) and this is what I learned:

"It's not just arthropods and bacteria decomposing the organic material in the worm bin! Molds and fungi are common organisms in a healthy worm system. They feed on decaying organic matter with tiny, hair-like hyphae, secreting enzymes which break down and simplify the organic material. They are also an additional food source to other organisms in the system, including earthworms.

Molds and fungi can also serve as an indicator, telling us if the feeding rate is adequate. Because they grow most prolifically in still, quiet environments, large amounts of mold and fungi indicate there is more food than the system can quickly manage and the feeding rate should be decreased." - www.allthingsorganic.com/How_To/12.asp


I'm going to back off the food a little bit and maybe drop in a little bit of dry newspaper and see if that doesn't clear things up a little bit. Also, I learned that storing your scraps in the fridge or freezer for a few days before feeding to your worms will help them break down the food faster. (Yes Love, I know you already told me this several times before)

In any case, our kitten really likes the worms!


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Related Posts:
Kitchen Scraps to Garden Gold
We've Got Worms!





Pescatarian Update - Meet your Meat: Pigs

I can't believe that it has already been two weeks! Crazy how fast these past two weeks have gone by. I have to say that it has gone pretty well and that I feel really good about the whole thing. I did eat meat the first week..3times :( but let me explain... (cue excuses)
  1. Morgan's mom made us some Gluten-free lasagna that would have gone to waste if we did not eat it. I figured wasting food would be even worse then eating the meat because at that point, the cow had already been killed
  2. Morgan's 92 year old Grandma invited us over for some ribs and before we could say that we were off meat, she told us that she already bought the meat...same story.
  3. We went to a BBQ at a friends house for some hamburgers. They bought the beef locally and it was slaughtered at night as not to scare it or the others in the field. At the time I thought I felt okay with this but afterwards, I wish we would have brought over some fish.
Not to bad I think. I have to say that I am really enjoying the vegetarian lifestlye and have even given some thought to going vegan.... but I love cheese WAY to much!

On my way home today I say a bumper stickers that said Goveg.com so I decided to check out the site once I got home. There is a whole section about Meeting your Meat that I think you should check out. In my other posts, I said that we are no longer connected to our meat so I am going to be posting some videos over the next few days so that we can Meet our Meat.

*Warning* This is graphic and makes me sick.



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Related Posts:
Pescatarian Challenge
2.75 Earths

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lost in Space


I was surfing the net yesterday and I came across this crazy story about the early days of Russia's space program. The story talks about how two kids hacked into not only the Russian communication but also into the Americans. They were able to hear everything that was said from space back down to Earth.

These two brothers were able to record the first Russian and the first American voices from Space. They even knew the Russians had been beaten the Americans into space before the American president knew.

The story is long but a fun read. It even includes the KGB and Italian spies.

Here is just a little piece of the story:
  • “Come in… come in… come in… Listen! Come in! Talk to me! I am hot! I am hot! Come in! What? Forty-five? What? Fifty? Yes. Yes, yes, breathing. Oxygen, oxygen… I am hot. This… isn’t this dangerous?”The brothers looked nervously at one another. They only fully understood the Russian later when their sister translated for them, but the desperation in the woman’s voice was clear.
  • “Transmission begins now. Forty-one. Yes, I feel hot. I feel hot, it’s all… it’s all hot. I can see a flame! I can see a flame! I can see a flame! Thirty-two… thirty-two. Am I going to crash? Yes, yes I feel hot… I am listening, I feel hot, I will re-enter. I’m hot!”

    The signal went dead.
Was this the first Woman in Space and was she Russian? Yes! They is also evidence that somewhere out in the farthest reaches of our galaxy, a Russian cosmonaut is still "exploring" space.

Check it out!

A LIST OF THE SUSPECTED LOST COSMONAUTS THE BROTHERS CLAIM TO HAVE RECORDED

May 1960 Unnamed cosmonaut lost when his orbiting space capsule veered off course.
November 1960 The brothers picked up an SOS message in Morse code from a troubled spacecraft.
February 1961 Recorded the suffocation of a cosmonaut.
April 1961 Just prior to Yuri Gagarin’s flight, a capsule circled the Earth three times before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
May 1961 Weak calls for help from an orbiting capsule.
October 1961 A Soviet spacecraft veered off course and vanished into deep space.
November 1962 A space capsule bounced off the Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry and disappeared.
November 1963 Unnamed female cosmonaut perished on re-entry.
April 1964 Cosmonaut lost when capsule burnt up on re-entry.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Worms **UPDATE**

I went back out to Wiggin' Dick's Red Worm Farm this afternoon to buy some more worms so I made sure to snap a picture. Dick (in the picture) grows his worms in cinder blocks and feeds them straight horse manure. He then covers the worms with straw to keep them warm in the winter and also to keep the water in during the summer time.
I had a few questions about what to do with the second bin. For now, nothing. Once your first bin is about halfway to two-thirds full of worm casting, remove the lid and insert the second bin right on top of the worms. Go ahead and start the second bin like you did the first one...4 inches of damp newspaper and food. After a month or so, all of your worms should have migrated up into the second bin. At this point, you can remove the first bin and after a quick search for slow moving worms, you are ready to use your fresh worm castings directly in your garden, compost pile, or fertilizer tea.

The worms I bought today are headed to work with me on Monday. If you have a kitchen in your break room at work, you should think about making a worm bin for the office as well. Great place for coffee grinds! I'm going to put together a flyer to attach to the bin to educate my coworkers so that they don't overfeed the worms. Once I get the flyer put together, I will post it for everyone to share!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Aim Air



In case you didn't know, Morgan and I both want to work in Africa. If we could work at or run an orphanage, we would be very happy people. We got a little down last night because it seems like this is still going to be a little ways off since we both want to finish our various schooling before we go.

Morgan has another year left with Nursing school and then I will need about a year to finish flight school. We were talking about Africa last night and I remember that I have stumbled on to a Missionary Company - AIM AIR - that works in Africa and is all about flying! Please visit their website here and read stories from various missionaries that are living and working in Africa.

You can also read a great story about Serving Orphans here.

You can also visit Aim Air's flickr site here

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2.75 Earths


I just took the footprint test and it turns out that if everyone in the world lived like me, we would need 2.75 Earths to sustain us. Take the quiz here and let me know your results. This is a pretty big eye opener for me and really makes me want to change my habits.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Are you really an Canadian?

Did you know that you might really be a Canadian citizen? Canada has just changed it's citizenship laws and you might actually be Canadian and not even know it. Check out the following link to take a short test to determine if you are or if you qualify to become a Canadian citizen.

Click here to find out if you are a Canadian

(This is for real!)

We've got Worms!

Yes, I know how that sounds but I'm to excited to care that it sounds bad. We've got worms and I love it!

Today was the day that I decided that we were ready to start worm composting (Vermicomposting). I didn't give much thought to buying the worms because I knew that I could call our local feed store and they would have plenty of Redworms (like I said before, you only want to compost with Redworms).

So I called them up....nothing, no worms. Hrm... So next I called another good local feed shop....nothing. Three nursery's later and still no one had worms in stock. The nice folks at Moana Nursery did give me the name and number of a local Worm Farmer. Yep, he grows worms, who knew. So I called him (Dick) up and we agreed that Morgan and I could pick up the worms this afternoon. He needed some time to separate the worms out.

What is the name of this man's company you ask? "Wigglen Dicks" Red Worm Farm - 775.849.0773 and they are located in Washoe Valley Nevada

After I set things up with Dick the worm farmer, we meet up with some friends and a free local sustainable gardening class. It turns out that we knew a lot about sustainability already but we did learn a few new things...all of which I have forgotten with all the worm excitement!

Next it was off to Target where we picked up to small (13"x13"x13") totes with hinged-type lids. to make our Worm composter. I was really excited because the two totes only cost $16 dollars instead of the $130-200 dollars (plus shipping) for a pre-made composter.

We spent about an hour with Dick learning about worms and the worm business and we learned so much more. I had done quite a bit of research and reading about Vermicomposting but he taught us a lot! If you decide to buy worms and you live near us, please go with Wigglen Dicks - great name and lots of great information. If you live elsewhere, I suggest that you try to find a local worm farmer and buy from them. It is great to get the worms right from the farmer because of all the first hand knowledge that you get as well. We got to see everything from the manure to the beds to the finished worm castings. I totally meant to take pictures at the farm but I forgot.

The following pictures show us preparing the food and building the composter - we decided to take the time and blend the first batch of food to help the worms get going.


It took us less then an hour to build the composter and most of that was trying to find a good system to poke the ventilation holes (hammer and nail is NOT the best way btw). I will walk you through the very simple steps below but I cannot recommend the book The Urban Homestead (The link is to Amazon but please buy local if you can) enough. I love this book and you will too. They walk you through a very simple and straightforward way to start worm-composting.

First we bought:
  1. 1lb of worms (this is about 1000 worms) from Wigglen Dicks Red Worm Farm
  2. Two dark color (worms hate light) totes with lids.
Next we did the following:
  1. Drilled 20 evenly spaced 1/4" holes in the bottom of both totes. (These allow the worms to travel from box to box, and let any extra liquid leak out if necessary.)
  2. Drilled 20 evenly spaced 1/16" holes in the lid of ONE lid.
  3. Drilled a row of 1/16" holes about an inch up from the bottom of both totes all the way around the totes. We went about one every 3-4 inches.
  4. Drilled a row of 1/16" holes about an inch from the top of both totes all the way around the totes. We went about one every inch. These are the ventilation holes that will keep the totes from becoming to humid.
  5. Next we lined the bottom of one tote with 4" of damp shredded newspaper. To do this we took handfuls of shredded newspaper and submerged them in a bucket of water. You then take it out of the water wand squeeze all the water out until you just have a few drops - should be like a sponge. Then just unbunch and spread.
  6. Next you would want to add in a layer of worm castings (soil ill work if your worms do not come in a bunch of castings. If you add soil, then you will not have "pure" worm casting until you start your second batch. It's all going into the garden anyway so it not a big deal. Use worm casting if possible or just some good organic soil)
  7. Carefully add your 1lb of worms and be sure to cover any worms that get exposed. I was surprised at just how tiny and fast these little guys are.
  8. Cover with the lid with the holes and place in the kitchen. You want to your composter on top of the second lid (with no holes) to catch any drippings. Place two bricks or some wood to keep the composter off of the lid. Our lids have 1 inch plastic tabs that keep the composter from touching the lid. Any drippings can be poured directly onto your plants.
That's it! You now have a worm composter. Worms will double every 60 days or so. If you start with 1lb then in two months you will have about 2lbs of worms. They will also produce their weight in castings every week so after a month you the say you will have about 4lbs of fresh worm castings for your garden! Craziness!

The worms will eat slowly at first while they adjust to their new home so don't over feed them. Start with just one handful of food (kitchen scraps, not plate scraps) a week for the first week and then by the second week they should be eating about two handful a week. If you check on them and they still have food, then wait a bit longer. If you cover the food with damp newspaper, it will cut down on the smell and prevent flies.

You should really really check out The Urban Homestead for lots and lots of great worm caring tips. Plus they tell you how to make some really good fertilizer tea from the castings.

Dick the worm farmer suggested that we also check out Yelmworms.com for more information.

Good luck and don't forget to love your worms! I'll post worm updates so stay tuned!
P.s. Worms and composters make great gifts :)

Reno Randomness - Whole Food Elephants

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Economy, Relationship, and Garden tip

I came up with a fool proof plan to stimulate the economy, make my wife feel loved, and add to my compost pile.
GO BUY SOME FLOWERS!!

Save-Mart is having a flower sale so you can get three bunches for $12

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pescitarian Challenge

What is a Pescitarian?
Well, to start off with Pescitarian is a noun. Kind of a weird looking word, don't ya think? Urban Dictionary defines it as: Person who follows a vegetarian diet with the exception of fish and all other sea foods.

I don't really know why I've been thinking about this so much, but it has really been on my heart and my mind. Slowly over the past few years, I have started to be less and less excited about eating meat.

It started with just a little seed planted a few years back. I heard a news story claiming that if Americans ate beef only twice a week, it would make a huge difference in green house gases. There would be less carbon being admitted by the factories and trucks that are used to turn a cow into a steak. If there was less demand for beef, there would be fewer cows which would mean less methane being farted into the air. Even grass-fed beef is bad because in addition to the above, the cows trample down the grass and then it is not able to remove as much carbon from the air.

I know that converting semi-trucks from oil to electricity would have a much bigger impact, but that is not something that is easy for me to fix. I think we need to focus on small steps that we can each take. (Plus, I reduce the amount of trucks on the roads by not buying a bunch of "stuff" that I don't need. I also try to buy local)

Another thing that I realize as always bother me is that we no longer respect our food. I remember thanking everything as a child. I thanked the sun for shinning and the rain for bringing water. I thanked the flowers for sharing their beauty and I loved that in the movies, Indians would always thank the animal that they killed for food. I have no connection to the meat that I eat and I don't think that is right!I love that we grow some of our own fruits and veggies. Morgan has also done a little research into the farms where we buy some of our other veggies. The food we eat just tastes better to me when I know more about it's life.

I am starting to think that maybe eating animals is not moral any longer. We no longer need to eat cows, chickens, pigs, ect. We live in a world where all of our diet needs can be meet without the eating of animals. For me this really hit home last time I pulled the meat off of a chicken bone, all I could thinking about was that I felt like I was eating my own leg!

Of course I don't feel this same way when I order a chicken burrito, but that is because there is even less of a connection to the food, when someone pulls the meat from the bone. I don't think of it as an animal, its just MEAT! What is Meat? Oh yeah, animals.

For some reason, it does not bother me to eat fish. I think that is because fish is fish. There is still a large connection between me and fish. When I eat it, I know it's fish (it looks and tastes fishy!)

Starting right now, I am a Pescitarian (for a month) I am going to live this lifestyle for one month and see if I feel the same way in 30 days. I want to see if I feel better, both physical and also morally/mentally. I also want to challenge myself and my willpower. How much control does my meat addiction have on me?

Please help keep me accountable for this. The best way is to ask my how I am doing on this. I would love it if someone else wanted to take this challenge along with me. Everything is easier with others.

It's snowing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Money DOES grow on Trees

Get this, Money actually DOES grow on trees...and also in your garden.

I just came across an article written for Kitchen Gardeners International that I think is worth reading. I would post the full article here but it is a little long. The gist is that you might actually be able to grow several thousand dollars worth of fresh food right in your own backyard for just a few hundred dollars.

From kitchen scraps to garden gold!

Worms Worms Worm!

Worms are my new best friends and I hope that they will soon be yours as well. I mean just look at them, aren't they awesome!
Like I said two posts ago, I am soon going to be making a worm composting bin. Once you get your bin built (so simple) all you have to do is feed your kitchen scrapes to your worms and they give you the two of the best fertilizers ever: Worm castings and fertilizer tea.

You can feed them almost anything that you would normal throw away. From fruits and veggies to tea bags, egg shells, and newspaper. I think I am most excited to finally have a use for the weekly neighborhood post that we get in the mail!

Building the worm bin is super easy to do. It's so easy that you could might be able to figure it out from just the diagram below.

For complete directions and way more information I suggest you do one (or both) of the following: Go to your local bookstore (I like to support the local stores if possible) and pick up a copy of The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen and/or visit the Virginia Tech website on Worm Composting

You want to make sure that the worms you buy are Redworms (Eisenia foetida) which are the proper composting worms. If you buy them online, try to buy them as close to you as possible so the poor little guys don't die in route. My plan is to check out the local bait and feed shops first.

Harvesting the worm bins is super easy to do because once your bin is full of worms and worm castings, you just stack a second bin on top of the first one and start the process over. Your little composting friends will slowly work their way up into the second bin leaving only worm castings down below. Easy!

I cannot say enough good things about The Urban Homestead I personally think that everyone that reads this blog should go out and buy two copies as soon as possible. Keep one for your homestead and give the other to a friend or neighbor!

Tearing down walls with Rob **Update**

So I just got done listening to Mr. Rob Bell (it has been MONTHS since I last listened to a Rob Bell- I forgot just how much I missed Mars Hill and how much it feels like my church)

The talk was about the walls that we have up in our lives that divide
us from others and also from ourselves. I'll post the link tonight
(this is from my phone).

What walls do you have up? Do you act the same around everyone? How
about at work?

I say we grab a hammer and go to town knocking down some walls!

**UPDATE**
Here you go! Here is the link to the Podcast that I was talking about. Check it out and let me know what you think.

House Update!

WOOHOO! Today is a day for good news. Two days ago (Monday) we got word that the bank as agreed to enter into contract with us on the house. Monday night, we meet with our Realtor and signed said agreement and now we are just waiting for the bank to sign that they agree with their own agreement. The next step is for the selling agent to make sure the power and water are onto the house and then we can do the inspections!

It looks like we are still on track to close on the first of May. Then we can Begin the process of turning the house into this:
Wouldn't that be awesome!

We have some pretty cool dreams of trying to get the rest of the neighbors to start their own gardens and then we can have a big harvest party/block party and we can all trade and swap different kinds of fruits and veggies! Morgan told me yesterday that she doesn't think we should have to buy plants, and after a little thought, I agree. We are thinking that it would be a good idea to let some of the plants go to seed and then we could also swap seeds with other people in the neighborhood or even with some of you. Leave me a comment if you would want to get in on some seed swapping!

If you haven't noticed, I have lots and lots of big ideas. Sometimes these can be pretty overwhelming for not just myself but for others as well. To help not get so overwhelmed, I am trying to tackle a few smaller projects while I build up to the larger ones. My current small scale project is to build a worm composter for our kitchen scraps. I will tell you all about it in the next post!

Don't forget to let me know about the seed swap!

P.S. We just got a great deal (I think) for our housing insurance through AAA.

$1000 deductible with $300k liability and insurance coverage up to $263k for $330 a year.
Does this compare to your rate? Is this in fact a good deal?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Lazy Environmentalist

Say hello to Josh Dorfman.
Josh is an environmentalist and apparently, lazy.

I stumbled on to his blog recently, The Lazy Environmentalist and I think everyone should check it out.

His current posting is all about finding recycled building materials. The most helpful link is the BMRAs (Building materials reuse association) search page which allows you to quickly find salvage retailers in your state, and hopefully city.

Of course there is not much here in Reno but maybe you can find something where you live. Be sure to check out Josh's blog for even more helpful sites.

Sheep + LEDs + Free time = Awesomeness

Hehe, this is pretty cool! There are "fireworks" towards the end that are really cool.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Housing Update

Still waiting...

So here's the deal....

  1. We found a house we really like
  2. Walked through the house
  3. Went back with friends/family
  4. Put in an offer
  5. Bank asked for highest and best
  6. We resubmitted our same offer
  7. Bank took the offer but want a few changes
  8. We agreed to the changes and resubmitted the offer
  9. Other agent messed something up
  10. Bank resent us their counter offer
  11. We re-resubmitted the offer agreeing to the bank's requests
  12. Waited for word back
  13. Waited for word back
  14. Got a killer interest rate of 4.6%
That's where we are at for now. What's next is:
  1. The bank has to acept our aceptenance of thier terms
  2. The bank will send us a form saying they want to enter into this deal with us
  3. We sign and send back
  4. We wait for them to sign it
  5. We do inspections
  6. We love house
  7. We sign loan docs
  8. We close on May 1th (pray pray pray it is before May 5th or more money out of pocket)
  9. Celebrate by doing the happy dance in new house!
  10. Redo kitchen and floors
  11. Con friends/family to help us move :)

*Cough, cough*

I love falling asleep to the sound of rain. I slept so well last night and I know it is because it was raining last night.

I had a pretty good morning today - even made myself my daily oatmeal that I haven't had in about two months...so much for daily eh? At no time this morning did it occur to me that it might have snowed after the rain stopped so of course I left the house at my usual time.

I walked outside and guess what? Yep, the Jimmy was covered in snow and ice. The roads weren't to bad and I even made it to work with a few minutes to spare. My boss however said he saw three cars slid on the ice while he was coming in this morning so he decided that we had to have a delayed start.

I'm usually all about getting paid to sit on my butt but I HATE delayed starts. My work always gets back up and then I feel rushed all day long. Lets just start on time and go home early instead :) Also, apparently the five of us service guys that actually showed up to work today didn't get the memo that snow on the ground means we call in sick. I'll have to remember that next time that it snows.

So this is what I did today...I read meters again! Oh yeah, another game of pac-man!

Oh well, it all pays the same right :) Oh well, weekend time!

Everything is Music


Good news for Iphone owning music lovers. RJDJ has just reduced it's two new apps to FREE!

The original RJDJ converts background noise into fun background MUSIC! The two new apps, RJDJ ALBUM and RJDJ SHAKE do the same thing but in fun new ways. Plus you can now share your creations with others and post online to facebook and what not.

I just downloaded them this morning so I will play with them and figure out how I can post a new "song" on the blog.

Have a great FRIDAY morning!

Check out the RJDJ webpage!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

House Update

I was just going back through the blog and I realized that I forgot to post a picture of the new house! Sorry about that.

It is a 1044 sgft 3 bed/1bath/1car house with a fire place, courtyard, and large back yard and side yard. The basement has it's own entrance off the right side of the porch and is also 1044sgft. The basement is 2bed/1bath with a kitchen and laundry room.

We got the house for $165k which is $1000 less then the other house was going to be and this one is larger and appears to be in better shape. The bank countered our offer with very little in the way of changes so we accepted the counter offer last week and we are now just waiting for them to acknowledge that fact so we can schedule the inspections.