Archive for November, 2010


I just came across an amazing quote by John Adams, our second president.  He is known for many things.  He and Jefferson opened the rift that our country divides along to this day, but they shared a passionate love for their soil.

...John Adams one of the fathers of our compost (and also country)

I have to share Adam’s musings on his manure piles:

Braintree, Massachusetts, 8 August 1771

I must also bring in 20 Loads of Sea Weed, i.e., Eel Grass, and 20 Loads of Marsh Mud, and what dead ashes I can get from the Potash Works and what Dung I can get from Boston, and what Rock Weed from Nat. Belcher or else where.  All this together with what will be made in the Barn and Yard by my Horses, Oxen, Cows, Hogs, etc and by the Weeds, that will be carried in from the Gardens, and the Wash and Trash from the House, in the Course of  Year would make a great Quantity of Choice manure. (more…)

November 30, 2010 at 8:12 am 4 comments


The day after Thanksgiving, and I’m still thankful.

I’m thankful for the Dane County Farmers Market,  which moved indoors a few weeks ago and made our table groan yesterday.  We have been able to feast on mostly local goodies for the past few years, since we started to tune into the benefits of local food.

...Yes, this is as good as it looks.


November 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm 4 comments


Here is another way to stay out of the malls on Black Friday while finding some nifty gifties which which  you can give those you love an easy way to do something green.

...Customize your holiday gift giving. (photo credit

Last time I posted about green clothing from Fair Indigo.  This time I’m going to focus on another company that I personally like to do business with.   This company offers reusables for every part of your life, and they seem to be always donating part of their profits to some ecologically sound effort.

During November they are donating 1% of sales to Surfrider to support their Rise Above Plastics Campaign.

In 2009 they were highlighted in a Scientific American article called Buying Green: 9 goods for sustainable living.  And the item that Scientific American featured is the same one that I want to point out.

I’m going to be giving this item to some of my friends and relatives this holiday season because I love my own so much.

This plastic bag and bottle dryer has revolutionized my plastic bag use. (more…)

November 23, 2010 at 12:15 am Leave a comment


Black Friday is just a week away.  That’s the day when many retail operations finally make it into the black for the year as our culture goes into a shopping frenzy.  At least that’s how it used to work.  Perhaps the economic downturn is sobering shoppers just a bit.

...Does the shopping season seem to be looming a bit more than usual this year? (photo credit )

If you have people you want to or have to give a gift to this winter, why not give them something green?

This is the first of  several  posts  on green giving.  There are businesses out there trying to make a difference as well as a profit.

I’d like to share some of my favorite parts of the forest for holiday hunting and gathering.  Here is one at the top of my list. (more…)

November 19, 2010 at 12:18 am 5 comments


When Doug was a freshman in college, one of his roommates brought home a puppy, then quickly lost interest.  Doug found himself in a human/canine partnership with an amazing mongrel.  Raised in a household  of male college students in the 70s, Yama was given free rein to explore his inner wolf, and he was probably smarter than several of his roommates.

His ability to reunite lost hikers and navigate any terrain he’d been through once, often showing up at the home of friends miles away, was legendary. Yama was Doug’s best man when we married, and none of our friends questioned this decision.

At 15, disabled by arthritis, Yama made his last trip to the vet.  It hurt so much that we vowed never to get another dog.

That vow lasted till our younger daughter came along.  Her first sentence was, “I want a dog.”  She was adamant from then on till when she was 7, we finally let a little Golden Retriever into our lives, and he melded our family into a very tight pack. (more…)

November 16, 2010 at 12:07 am 5 comments


“The world made with wood and the world made with coal and oil.

One lasted twelve to fifteen Millennia; the other has lasted about 250 years so far.”


The first tree I remember hanging out in was a maple.  My dad built us  a platform at the place where its major branches reached out in four different directions.  Time and space seemed different in that leafy world far above the ground.   But the tail of a tornado yanked the branches apart to the ground,  and our tree house slid neatly down the middle.  It was one of those anamolies that tornadoes leave in their wake, and was the talk of the town.

I can’t help thinking that if it had been an oak, that tree house might still be supporting childhood daydreams.

Oak: The Frame of Civilization by William Bryant Logan reaffirmed my basic respect for oak and deepened it.  Logan has also written a book called Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, which I am looking forward to digging into (couldn’t help myself). (more…)

November 12, 2010 at 12:35 am 2 comments


I walked up to my first prairie smoke plants last summer in Allerton Park outside Monticello IL, and it was love at first site.

The Wisconisn Master Gardener Program has a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated page that will tell you everything you need to know about this gorgeous prairie gem here.

Though Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) looks enchantingly like something from the Planet Zorg, it was once quite common in prairie land across southern Canada and central and northern U.S.

Now it is so rare that I lived 60 years without seeing it. (more…)

November 9, 2010 at 12:05 am 6 comments


When I open the barn door and step into our little greenhouse, I gaze lovingly at the plants growing there.  Then I get down to watering them with a yogurt container and a 5-gallon bucket.

I don’t pay attention to the concrete barn wall  while I’m working.  That’s why I got such a start last week when I looked up from watering baby spinach to find myself staring at a bat about a foot from my face.

...the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) napping in my greenhouse

My instant reaction was fear – not for me, but for the little bat.  I was pleased to see it’s nose was not white, so it was probably still well. (more…)

November 5, 2010 at 12:17 am 10 comments


I think I live in bike heaven.

There is a bike trail that passes a few blocks from my house in Madison and travels to within a mile of my land in the Driftless Are:a.   The Military Ridge Bike Trail runs along the Chicago and Northwestern Rail corridor that followed Military Ridge, the divide between the Wisconsin River watershed to the north and the Pecatonica and Rock River watershed to the south.

And now –Just 2 blocks from my house in the other direction– Kendall Avenue has been transformed from a narrow and problematic driving street into a bicycle boulevard.  (more…)

November 2, 2010 at 12:02 am 2 comments

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