mousemusings...multimedia, music, progressive politics, video, web design and general rants
Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Saturday, April 17, 2010

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posted by Cyndy | link | | |


IMG_2424.JPG, originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5.
Cyndy's birthday present: these are hummingbird decorations that are mounted in a nicho on the adobe wall, on the way to the front door.
posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Early Spring

Originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5

We had little squall clouds today, such that there was interesting light and shadow in the yard. This made for a nice opportunity to photograph the nectarine tree blossoms. Emotionally uplifting, I would say. The only problem is that we now have to watch for frost warnings, then run out and cover the tree if it might freeze.

posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Friday, December 04, 2009

In or Out?

In or Out?, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

Yang in the doorway. Snow/ice makes strange noises and they are all a bit spooked.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

One out, three to go

One out, three to go, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

Yang was the first to come out as Yin looks on. Raisin and Smokie haven't peeked out yet.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Good Morning Chick Chicks!

Good Morning Chick Chicks!, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

The chicks, almost 17 weeks old now, get their feet in snow.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Moringa oleifera seeds

Moringa oleifera seeds
Originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5

The exposed seed is on the lower right; the others are unopened seed pods. Moringa oleifera is also known as the "Miracle Tree" because it is very heat- and drought-tolerant, yet is a good source of nutritious edible seeds. They are not entirely tolerant of frost, but are said to grow back from the (very deep) tap root if the freeze kills them.

We are hopeful that the roots can stabilize arroyo banks.

These seeds came from Eden Organic Nursery Services,

Sharon Astyk mentioned the moringa tree in "Gardening in a Changing Climate." She thinks that more people should grow them.

posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Growning Things

Originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5

Two Fig trees from cuttings, from covered with Blue-x tree shelters ( The stakes are old yucca stalks. We will see how they do.

posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Growing Things

Originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5

Growing xeric landscape trees/plants in a miniature greenhouse. Grown from seed: Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin, front-big pot), Palo Verde (Cercidium - unknown species, rear -small pots), Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa left,-small pot) in a miniature greenhouse on the deck.

posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Centrury Plant

Centrury Plant
Originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5

Blossom from the century plant , Agave americana. This specimen was spotted in Kingston, NM.

posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Green Chile Stew

Originally uploaded by Joseph j7uy5

This will produce about 30 pints of hearty stew. That is enough for two people to have dinner for a month.

posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Apple- Green Chile Pie Filling

Yes, I'm still playing with the many pounds (60) of Hatch green chile I have and I still need to get another 30 lbs before the harvest starts turning to red chile.
Today I will can apples, from our local orchard CSA, mixed with green chiles from our local farm. I have Sandia hot, but really need to have Big Jim's on hand too.

The chickens loved the apple peelings I gave them, but I used most of the peelings to make apple juice with. Maybe I should get some more apples so the chickens can play keep-away with the peels. More photos later. Recipes too.
posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Monday, August 17, 2009


green-chiles, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

We bought these from the farm down the road from us where we have bought our chile the last 3 years. These are Sandia hot. The farm roasts them and does a great job. No effort peeling them later because they are roasted to perfection. They are huge, meaty, and addictive. I only bought 25 lbs today, but needed it ASAP to finish more salsa and apple-green chile pie filling. I'll buy at least another 25 lbs, and hopefully 50 lbs, which should last until next harvest. This was the best harvest in years. These are the biggest chiles I've ever seen. Yum!

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doing What Chicks Do

Doing What Chicks Do, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

I picked these little girls up at the post office this morning. They spent the first 3 days of their life in transit. No food or water. They are making up for it now. I have 6 Easter Eggers and 2 Dominiques. They are peeping in happy mode right now. They are all supposed to be girls. We'll see. Actually I wouldn't mind having a rooster by mistake, but had I ordered one, I may have ended up with more than one and that would be very bad. One rooster per flock, unless you have a much bigger flock.

This past April I got 6 Americaunas from the feed store. They were so precious, friendly and appreciative. They were so much fun. One was named Amelia. I didn't have the fencing right and a dog found them. He used them as a personal play toy. I think he had been attracted to Amelia's declaration that morning that she was instead an Emilio.

This time my fence is ready to zap any threats to my chickies, but I think I will still opt for more reinforcements. I have a few weeks before these girls are ready to go outside, but they grow extremely fast.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

12 pints Salsa

12 pints Salsa, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

I pressure canned this for many reasons.
The pressure canner is cooler and takes less water, and less energy, plus I don't have to lower the PH with vinegar or lemon juice like I would need to do per USDA guidelines if I water bath canned them. The texture between the two methods is the same. Not fresh, but it will be very welcome during the winter.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |


Harvested, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

Salsa fixins, plus a few extras.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Pickin' Time

Pickin' Time, originally uploaded by Cyndy.

Time to make the salsa.

posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Food-backed Local Money

Jason Bradford spins his yarn about Food-backed Local Money while feeding the campfire at The Oil Drum. He says, "This is perfectly legal and I want you to play copy cat."
Time's a wastin'.
posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Strangeness at Army Charity

An Associated Press report reveals odd things at a charity operated in association with the US Army.

FORT BLISS, Texas – As soldiers stream home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the biggest charity inside the U.S. military has been stockpiling tens of millions of dollars meant to help put returning fighters back on their feet, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Between 2003 and 2007 — as many military families dealt with long war deployments and increased numbers of home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity packed away $117 million into its own reserves while spending just $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

They have invested heavily is the stock market. Their portfolio now is worth over $200 million. As a result, they have reserves that would last for 12 years, at their current rate of disbursement. A one- to three-year reserve is considered normal, among nonprofit charitable organizations.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that military officers have been pressuring soldiers to contribute, even though that practice is forbidden. It would seem to be conduct unbecoming to an officer.
posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I want chickens. I would be willing to get chickens and take the risk that one of my neighbors would balk. The covenants here prohibit poultry and livestock. I'd offer to share the eggs. That might be enough to quiet any noisemakers.
Still, I would need a coop. I found a great coop here.
Building something like this locally for people would be a great gig for an unemployed worker who happened to have the know how.
Food for thought.
posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Survival Mode

Gardening in the desert, on the scale I aspire, has meant a lot of trial and error. Gardening IS trial and error regardless, but the desert possibly contributes more to the error side of the equation. Because I am pretty much stuck at home with my mother, I've been learning much of it on-the-fly. I can't go to workshops or spend hours asking questions at a garden center. My climate is not like Phoenix and not like Albuquerque, so learning resources are a bit scarce.

This is an agricultural area, but the research and support appears to be geared more toward industrial type monoculture, not toward the home gardener. Chiles, pecans, onion, cotton, alfalfa, melon and iceberg lettuce seem to be the major crops. Farmland here, like most places, was being swallowed up by subdivisions. Now much prime farmland lies fallow with for-sale signs decorating the perimeters, dotted with other signs marked 'zoned commercial' or 'residential'. If I had the money, equipment and knowledge, I would snap up one of those pieces of land, perhaps making it into a community garden. Instead, I have to work with the yard I have.

We get less than 10" of rain a year making rainbarrels a priority. I now have 6-60 gallon barrels set up. That won't really water much, but it's something in a pinch. Our community water unfortunately has high levels of uranium, which is ok to water plants with, but not so good for drinking. Plants apparently do not take up heavy metals, but humans do. Reverse osmosis is recommended for removing uranium, but it uses 3 gallons of water to yield 1 gallon of drinkable water. For now, we fill up water jugs at a 'water island' station, and then filter again at home through a Berkey. Ultimately, if the water island stations disappear due to the economy, the Berkey will have to do, filtering rain, or even river water, after being purified. I hope it doesn't ever come to that, but water security is first priority. Even with the scarcity of water most of the year, we do have to worry about flooding during the monsoon season. Who would have thought it would be a good idea to buy flood insurance in the desert?

My second priority was identifying native edible plants. Prickly pear cactus and mesquite pods are plentiful. From the cactus pads I can make nopales (think slimy green beans), and from the fruit of the cactus, the tuna, I can make jelly and syrup. Mesquite pods can be ground into a sweet flour. That's hardly enough to live on, but both grow without much intervention on my part.

The first year I was here I tried growing tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, chile, potatoes and strawberries, just as an experiment. None of them produced much. The second year I tried all the above again and added garlic, green beans, bell peppers, basil, cucumbers, artichoke, lettuce, and assorted herbs. I had a much better yield and was even able to can tomatoes. We are still eating the garlic and green beans and salsa. Basil was especially prolific so I froze a lot of pesto. I won't be able to plant as many tomatoes this year because I have to rotate my beds, but since cherry tomatoes seem to do well here, I will grow a couple plants in containers. Flooding washed out our pomegranate bush, so we need to plant another, and I would like to plant a couple fruit trees.

One of my other projects has been flood prevention. We had several heavy rains last summer, and because a neighbor rerouted an arroyo (illegally) it has caused a lot of grief. I'm not sure what to do about the neighbor because I absolutely hate conflict, but I'm trying my best to work with the land, and attempting to harvest as much rainwater as possible. Doing that work requires a lot of heavy physical labor and I have to be mindful of neighbors downstream as well.

I have been setting up drip systems for watering, but I still have to devise a system for the garden area I plan to plant this year. One problem I have found with drip systems; critters like to chomp on them, and they put holes in the tubing where I did not want holes. They get thirsty too. Can't they just use the birdbath?

The intention of this post is to inspire you, the reader, to continue thinking about your own area, and what will sustain you as our economy continues to collapse. Your problems/priorities will be different than mine. Maybe your garden is so prolific you need to get a pressure canner and learn to use it. Maybe you get too much rain, or your growing season isn't very long. Maybe you don't want to garden or don't have any place to grow anything, but you're thinking about storing some food. The important thing is to think about it and act. Again I'll mention that pressure canner, whether you can grow food or not. They are not as scary as your mother made them out to be. Really. I was terrified the first time I tried, but I love it now.

My very best tip for anyone, no matter your climate, is to get a sproutmaster and seeds so you can always have something fresh and nutritious. It's easy and only takes water.

For a look at what others near my neck of woods (60+ miles away) are doing, albeit with far more energetic prowess than I, visit Holy Scrap Hot Springs. Their experiments are inspiration. Papercrete, solar, desert gardening, biodiesel and
posted by Cyndy | link | | |

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Timely Decisions

I lost my job two years ago even though I was able to successfully telecommute. Apparently the department I worked for couldn't see the advantage of allowing me to continue working. I'm still resentful.

They wanted me to place my mom in a nursing home, or move her to Michigan and use adult day care to enable me to keep my job, retirement benefits and insurance. I knew what our resources were and knew that $4000 a month was out of reach. Of course I could have spent down her savings and sold her passive solar adobe home, built by my parents own sweat labor and then let Medicare pick up the tab. 28 months, so far, it would have cost $108,000.00 just for the benefit of keeping myself employed. It would have been a horrid decision. Nope. I had 90 days to make the decision, and then I could take family leave followed by personal leave for one year, after which time they would rehire me, keeping my benefits intact. It didn't happen. My mom is the Energizer Bunny incarnate and I am still unemployed.

Having written many times about the housing bubble and peak oil and knowing the economy was teetering on the edge, it wasn't too tough for me to conclude that I would be better off taking care of her myself. Besides, it was a promise I had made to my father.

It hasn't been easy, and I still have no health insurance, but I have been busy making our lives as sustainable as possible. I'll write more about those preparations another time.

Things will never again be as they were two years ago for me, or for anyone else. The housing market is NOT going to pick up again anytime soon. Whose kids can afford a house? They are the future buyers. We can't waste money continuing to prop up a dead cat. Cats only bounce every now and then. Meanwhile, More families move in together during housing crisis.

I hope they are all planting their own food and learning how to preserve it.
posted by Cyndy | link | | |


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