Hay bale mulch

We got some old hay bales from the neighbor, Jim Jones.  They were old enough that Jim’s animals wouldn’t eat them.  I hadn’t seen round bales before I moved here–they are pretty neat because they have a lot of hay but if you stand them on end the layers of it come apart pretty easily.

Hay bales 1 Hay bales 3

You can see that we were able to mulch the hugelkultur beds pretty heavily in a relatively short amount of time.

Mulch 1 Mulch 2






Unexpected contrast in Topeka

Jason and I went to run errands in Topeka today.  As we were driving, I saw this sign in a residential neighborhood that said “WBC.”  I didn’t realize at first what it stood for, but it just seemed out of place as if it was a store sign.  As we got closer, I figured out that it was Westboro Baptist Church.  I have not especially paid attention to them, only when I’ve bumped into them in the national news.

I made Jason go back after we drove past so that I could get a better look.  It was kind of eerie to take pictures of it as it seemed so high-security and the messages were so hateful–I wanted to get away from their side of the side walk as soon as possible.  Other people may have seen pictures of this place before, but I didn’t realize that it was so confrontational.

WBC 8-22-14

But what people probably don’t get to see is the house directly across the street from the WBC.  It is the “Equality House,” which is painted the colors of the Gay Pride Flag.  But beyond that, it is just a really serene little dwelling.  We even dared to walk on their lawn.  I found it really comforting that it was there. 

Peace house Jason at Peace House

Picking berries

Yesterday I went to pick blackberries and there were a fair number that were ripe.  A lot more have not quite ripened yet, so I’m looking forward to going back to the blackberry patch.  In this picture, you can also see a wild plaintain (technically Plantago species) on the top part of the picture which is also edible but apparently better when they are young.


Jason saw a patch of elderberries while he was driving so we went to pick them.  I guess they are not great to eat by themselves but do make a decent wine.  We stopped by Jason’s friend’s house, Bob Willard, who gave us a bottle of his elderberry wine.  Bob only uses water, fruit, and sugar in his wines, relying on natural fermentation rather than added yeasts.


Elderberry wine

This morning there were deer in the yard eating the apples on the ground.  I went outside to see if I could get a picture but they were already gone.  I did get a nice shot of the spider flowers in bloom, though.

Spider flower

And Boss’s nemesis, Kiki, was sitting on the roof.  I need to convince her that she should sit on my car.

Kiki on roof


Boss passed away

Boss looked like he had some type of cardiac problem yesterday and passed away at home.  In the scheme of all of his medical problems I am very grateful that it happened relatively quickly.  I know I will miss him very much.


Bossy 1 4-13-2012 8-11-10 PM

Uninvited guest

My “service engine” light came on 2 days ago, which was strange given that the car is new and that it had had routine service about 1 month ago.  I noticed a lot of vibration when I drove it to the auto service place to get it fixed.

The verdict was:

Assessment of rodent damage

And it only cost:

Cost for rodent damage

But so far as I can tell, they did wrap a bunch of the wiring.

Re-wrapped engine cords 8-15-14

I did some research and this problem is relatively common, although I hadn’t heard of it before.  I was researching preventative measures and found a rodent-deterrent electrical tape that is impregnated with capsaicin.  I’m waiting for my order to come in.  I will have to remember to warn the auto mechanics about it the next time it gets serviced.

rodent tape


Jason made another compost pile on Wednesday with wood chips that had a lot of leaves in it.  He used only about 40 lbs. of manure but a lot of fresh grass clippings and it has been heating up a lot (greater than 160 degrees F).  We have had to turn the pile twice a day since then so we don’t have the pile go anaerobic and also don’t have it spontaneously combust.  We’ve also been adding wood chips to help cool it down, so it keeps getting bigger.  We have nicknamed the pile “Hotei” after the round, laughing Buddha.  Jason rejected my suggestion of calling the pile “Jabba.”   

Compost with me 8-8-14

We’ve also had a lot of tomatoes ripen lately and have been dehydrating some but also making stewed tomatoes.  I am looking forward to when we get to eat them. 

Stewing tomatoes 08-8-14

A.M. Run

I had a foot injury early in July and was not able to do any running for a while.  I’m trying now to get started again.  Early morning is really pretty here and the air quality is wonderful.

AM running 3 8-4-14

AM running 2 8-4-14

On another note, the swallows are growing up.  They are starting to look like actual birds instead of just gaping mouths.  They were a little wary when I pointed my camera and the flash went off but seemed to recover okay.

Swallows 8-4-14

Fresh Pickles

Jason and I got lots of cucumbers from his dad, who has a pretty big garden in Emporia that he spends a lot of time on.  It seemed easiest to make use of the cucumbers by making refrigerator pickles.  I did find a good recipe online from Yankee Magazine, although I added chopped fresh ginger for seasoning.

Refridgerator pickles

I also just made it in a bowl rather than packed in sterilized jars.  We liked this recipe enough that these pickles won’t stick around enough to go bad.