Friday, February 24, 2012

Buying in the USA...

As we get ready to start building our new home, we were talking about all the problems with imported building materials. Things like drywall imported from China is substandard to that manufactured in the US. Ours might be just a bit more pricey, but I would rather pay a little more and know it's going to last. The same goes for steel. I keep reading articles about low quality steel used in buildings that have since collapsed. When the steel's path was retraced it came directly from China. I understand that builders are trying to save a buck to make more profit, but is it really worth loosing integrity and respect and money if everything you build falls down?

Our builder said he would evaluate our budget and do his very best to by US products. He did say however, that it would be nearly impossible for him build our house with 100% US made due to costs. He has agreed to consult with us on what would be acceptable and what would not. Here are a few things that we know are going to be Made in the USA: the bricks for the exterior, the lumber, the drywall, the paint, and the windows. We are currently looking into bath fixtures, kitchen fixtures, appliances, local cabinet makers, furniture, and flooring. Also checking out light fixtures, outlet covers and wiring.

We have also adjusted the size of the house to try to allow for more USA made materials. I am going to do my best to purchase accessories and such at local flea markets, garage sales and auctions. There's still a lot of really neat things out there that were made in the USA a long time ago.

I challenge you to buy American next time you go out shopping!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome Home, Teaka!

We just adopted a registered English Shepherd. She is 10 months old and has already attached herself to my son. Her family posted her on craigslist on over the weekend and we brought her home on Tuesday. Her family said they were moving to Colorado and would not be able to take her with them. They had hoped she would go to a farm family. I guess wishes can come true. We told them that we had a farm, but were currently living in town due to the fire.
She's adapting well to our family and our cats have never even acted like they were afraid of her. See - not all dogs have to come from shelters to be rescued! And yes we did pay a "re-homing fee".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Buzz on Our Bees

My husband is a beekeeper. He's been at it for a couple of years. The first year we left them alone to make enough honey for themselves and to get properly established. The last couple of years, we invaded the hives. I shouldn't say we, as it was all him. I am allergic to bee stings. I watch from far, far away! After he raids hives, he filters the honey in the garage to remove debris and any unfortunate bees. He then brings the honey in the house and we (I help with this part) put the honey in jars to be sold.

We still had a bucket the had approximately 65 lbs of honey in it last fall when the house burned. We lost it. We lost the honey that the bees had worked so hard to make all summer. My husband was devastated. We going to jar up the rest of that bucket the weekend that the house went up. We had all the jars and labels ready. We had the bucket set up high so that we could just open the nozzle and let the honey run. It just wasn't going to happen.

As this winter proceeds with the roller coaster ride of temperature, we are hoping the bees make it though okay. I am going to be sure to plant even more flowers around the place so that they don't have to fly as far to get pollen and nectar.

I even bought them a bunch of new (used) hives at an auction. We are in the process of cleaning and disinfecting them. When that is done we will paint them very bright colors in non-toxic paint, of course.

Good luck, girls!

New Seed Catalogs

I can hardly stand it. New seed catalogs are spread around on the floor near my chair in the living room. I am getting overwhelmed by all the choices I have. AND there's even more choices online! What's a girl to do? I am going to have to narrow it down quickly so that I can get my seeds ordered. The sooner they get here the sooner I can start them in the basement. It's cool down there, but warm enough for germination. I am going to have to get another grow light. I had one that I bought last winter, but it was lost in the house fire. Bummer.

My biggest problem is going to be getting the 2 cats to stay out of my indoor green house! Last year I started seeds in the kitchen on the table that we never actually ate at. I had the UV light mounted from my hanging pots/pans rack. Talk about a redneck set up! I had little mini greenhouses made out of the covered trays that come from Subway (yummy!). I snagged those from work when they bought our dinners from time to time.

However, there were a few baking pans that didn't have lids and the kitties jumped on the table and ate whatever was sprouting like it was their own personal salad bar! I tried planting cat grass in a pot in another room to try to keep them away from my plants. They ate that too.

This year I think I will use one of the those multi-level drying racks for sweater and things. I can put plexi glass or something over the slats to keep things from falling thru. Using clear material will also allow more light to filter down. I will have to rotate planters to keep things growing evenly. I can then cover the whole thing with a clear drop cloth or plastic to keep the furry beasts out.... Sounds like a whole lot of work to me. Oh HONEY.... I need you to build something for me!

Meanwhile I will continue to dream about my garden to be. I can see it now. Rows of green beans, peas, carrots, radishes, more green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, corn, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins. Don't forget about the flowers and herbs. A complete kitchen garden and a perennial flower bed that borders the house! Oh wait, there isn't a house yet. Okay so the flowers may have to wait until NEXT year. I can dream can't I?!