Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Wildflowers

I took a pretty deep cut at the lawn yesterday, since, although I love letting the lawn turn into a jungle just to see what grows, I want to be able to get close enough to the blueberry bushes to pick blueberries.  I hope to have people over to pick blueberries this year, and I think they'll appreciate not having to bushwack to the blueberry bushes.  Don't worry Melanie - there'll be plenty left for you to sell!

I saw a bunch of new-to-me flowers from the seat of the mower and went back this morning to take pictures of those I didn't cut down.  I have no idea what most of these are, so I'll post now and edit this post as I identify them.

This red thing is in the jungle in front of the house.  Woodswalker, who writes the blog Saratoga Woods and Waterways has something like it in her garden, which is how I think this might be bergamot.

Newcomb's leads me to believe that the below is Hop Clover.

Last year I thought this rose was multiflora rose, but this year I know it's not.  For starters, it doesn't have many flowers as the "multiflora" name would suggest.  After the logger and his friend finish rebuilding my woodshed, I may dig up some of this and put it over by the woodshed.
The pink flowers of the below remind me of yarrow, but the leaves are different.
Now that I know what the Spreading Dogbane is, I can see that it's ... spreading.  All over the area north of the house.  It worries me, so I mowed a bunch of it down.  Not to worry that I'll kill it all though, here's some right next to some ripe raspberries. (The raspberries, of course, are blocking a blueberry bush.  Hm, the dilemma.)
The lovage is growing in cracks near the front of my house.  It's getting ready to bloom. [edit:  Ellen thought this may be Cow Parsnip, but that has white flowers and lobed leaves.  This has divided leaves and surprise, surprise, I think it IS flowering now and this is what it looks like when it's flowering.]
Below is some mysterious thing.  I hope it's not poisonous to goats because Coco likes it. [edit: it is a dock, I think it's Curled Dock. Thanks Ellen!]

And lastly (for today, anyway), the elderflowers are just approaching their peak. I didn't get my act together early enough to research things one can do with elderflower, so they'll just have to make berries and I'll pick them then. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What My Company Makes

My plant in upstate New York makes these silicone caulk tubes, along with several thousand other things, like agricultural wetting agents, make-up flowability agents, glue for construction.  I don't work in the building that makes these caulkers, but I visit it sometimes.

We aren't GE, but we used to be.  If you look on the back of a caulker, you'll see my company name.  Aside from me not wanting to work (you know, homestead and all), working for this company isn't all that bad.  I think it's pretty neat that the silicone caulk you use isn't made in China or India or Taiwan.  It's made in upstate New York.

What Goats Eat

Penny discovers that she likes daisies.

I want to get this note out of the comments and onto the main page of this blog.

Milkweed is poisonous to goats and sheep.

One article I read says that symptoms begin at 2% of body weight.  Assuming that the goats weigh 30  pounds right now, that would be 0.6 pounds of milkweed each.  Another article said 0.2% of body weight, which is much less.

The onesy-twosy leaves that they've been eating haven't come close to that threshold, and I suspect they'd self-limit how much they eat.  But nonetheless - I went around the yard last night while talking on the phone to a new potential Mr and pushed down all the milkweeds I saw.  I'll go back later and pull or dig them out.

I know that some other things on my property are poisonous to goats, the rhododendron and the pieris to start.  I've read some long lists of poisonous plants and have been advised that some of the items on the list aren't actually poisonous, or aren't very poisonous, like english ivy.

But what about bracken fern?  I've got TONs of fern at my place - methinks I need to learn the difference between bracken fern and any other type of fern.  If bracken fern is bad - are other ferns absolutely OK, or are all ferns somewhat bad?

What about stone fruit, like the cherries and apricots about 60 feet from the goat shed?  Apparently some cherries are bad and some are not.  Hm, and Hm again.  This looks like a long-term research project, but worth it.  This is something that I absolutely need to know, and know well.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Goats Like Millkweed

Here is a milkweed with the flower out of focus because the focus is on the leaves.  Or rather the half-leaves, because the goats have eaten most of the leaves.  They take a bite and then move onto the next plant, so what you see here is a few days worth of stops by this plant on our way back and forth to their shed.  Note that the grass is untouched by goat lips.

I'm really diggin' being with them twice a day.  Since I'm leashing them up and moving them, I can't just throw them food and bolt.  I need to touch them, look at them, ... interact with them.  I'm learning how to be with goats and they're learning how to be with people.

They're also learning how to be weed-eaters.  They think they're done with the area I've had them in for the last few weeks, because they ate all the easy-to-get blackberry leaves.  Despite their wishes, I'm still taking them back to the same area.  They've finally realized that they can push down tall plants to get to the tops, and have been doing that for the last 2 or so days.  Then, I hope they'll get to the lower, foot-high stuff that's been ignored so far.  It seems like a long time on this small area (whatever can be enclosed by 240 feet of fence), but it's 2 goats x 30 days = 60 goat-days.  More goats = less days.  If I charged $5 a day per head, it would have costed $300 to clear this area so far. Considering that it was completely impassable due to thick bramble, and on a steep hill - that's not a bad deal.  Plus, these goats are just babies.  They'll eat more and faster when they're grown up, and in a future world, they won't spend 12 hours a day away from the jobsite.   I'll throw down some grass seed to get something good competing with the bramble, and as the blackberries weaken and die the nature of this hill will change the way I want it to.

We've got a ways to go yet.  I'm still trying to entice them to eat stinging nettle.  Twice a day we stop by this rock for a little snack and I linger, hopefully.  They're eating everything else, but passing on the nettle ... so far.  They're big fans of apple leaves, so the trip from shed to worksite is rock, apple tree, apple tree, jobsite and the trip back is the same stops in reverse.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blueberries and Meadowsweet

The first blueberries are almost ready, about three weeks earlier than last year.

Here's the upper blueberry hill, where the bushes around the edge of the below shot are highbush blueberry, about 8-10 feet high, surrounding the central area full of Meadowsweet (which I just identified today thanks to Newcomb's again!)

Meadowsweet flowers ready to pop.  I used flowers from last year to count 5 regular parts.

 There are some lowbush blueberry (I'm guessing), about ankle high with my foot to the left.

Wikipedia says that Meadowsweet contains salicylic acid, one of the components of aspirin.  The fellow that invented aspirin for Bayer used this plant as the starter.  It was used in the middle ages to strew on floors for the good smell, and for bridal garlands. Apparently, chewing part of the plant relieves headaches.  Who knew this plant I thought was junk was such interesting stuff!

The Workout

Whew!  My house has gotten quite a workout in the past few weeks and few days.  I feel like the house is really beginning to show what it's capable of, housing my friends and family over the last month.

Right now as I write this post, my aunt and uncle are in one bedroom upstairs, and my mother is in another bedroom upstairs.  If there were more folk, I could sleep 3 more without a problem at all (more if they're close, ha ha).  Oh, maybe the bathtub would be in constant use, since it's the only one, but the kitchen, dining and living area and other common areas would accomodate with no problem at all.  Over the last few days, we've spent time as a group on the south porch, in the south yard, in the living room, in the who-knows-what-it-is-but-my-mother-wants-to-call-it-a-game room, etc, etc.  It all works.  It flows.

I'm so happy about this.  It's like when you think something is a liability for a long, long time, and then find out that it's really an asset.  Life gets bigger.  My house is welcoming it's first group of people in a long, long time.  I like to think the house is happy, too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June-end Walk Around the Yard

I never fail to find some new-to-me flowers every time I take a walk around the yard.  Yesterday, my ace in the hole was the Newcomb's Wildflower Guide that my friend Linda gave me a few weeks ago, making these less of a mystery than usual.

That's how I found out that the below yellow flower is Sundrops, and the white ones are double Feverfew.  They could be carnations for a doll party.
These purple flowers are Creeping Bellflower, (I think)...[edit: now I think that they're Harebell]
Last year I thought these were some sort of Mallow, and this year it's confirmed by Newcomb's. Musk Mallow.

And these are Spreading Dogbane (I think), which upon reading looks to be kind of nasty stuff and bad for ruminants.

I'm pretty psyched that I was able to identify all these new-to-me flowers!  Notably, it took an hour or so of uninterrupted concentration to find two of the five, the bellflower and the dogbane.  I think it's because I wasn't using the system properly.  Once I settled down and went through his steps in order (and didn't just skim the section looking for a picture that matched), they kind of fell into place.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sister Time

My mother (on the left) and her sister enjoying quality time together.  Nice to be able to take a few days off and enjoy spending time with family.  Nice not to be cleaning or arranging the house any more.  Maybe I can get away without cleaning the house again for a few months?  I can dream!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Story of This Bread

My local fire department has a pizza fundraiser one Saturday a month.  I've been supporting it (not a chore since the pizza is delish!) since I moved here a year and a half ago.  In the last few weeks, the phrase "my local fire department" has a whole new meaning - because the local fire department is ME, plus a bunch of others.  I've been approved by the commissioners.  I'm in!

Last Saturday I supported the pizza fundraiser from the hot side of the kitchen wall (if ya can't stand the heat ...).  It was hard work, but fun, and it felt like the kind of teambuilding exercise for which companies pay millions.  Anyhooo - there was extra dough, extra toppings, extra everything at the end of the night.  That means free pizzas all around, and anyone who wants can take lots of dough home with them.  I took 6.  Here are two of them.  Well, one and a little. 

These loaves were an experiment ... can you cook pizza dough as if it were bread.  I'm happy to report that the answer is yes.  The next four are going to turn into two big loaves for sandwiches for the guests, and I sense there'll be more pizza bread in my future!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gak! Guests!

This year's family reunion is going to be a little different than last year.  Last year, my mother and her two sisters (and husbands) got together in a rented house for a week.  This year it's only one sister (and husband), and it's at MY house.  Gak!  Thankfully, it's for only a few days.  (I mean, I love them and all and am thrilled to see them.  But hosts don't relax. At least I mostly don't. Then again, I don't often ever relax.  When I was married, we lived in a huge, 5 bedroom house and we had guests over all the time.  Lots and lots of them.  I remember an easter dinner where we served 26.)  As the years passed since my divorce, I've lived in smaller places and hosted fewer folks.  I looked in my towel closet the other day and realized that I don't have enough towels to be a proper host for even the three people I expect in a few days.  It's been that long since I've had a house full of life.  Even towels, those long-lived things, have disappeared somewhere along the way from 1998 to now.

Mom and I picked up the new/old sofa and chair yesterday (after taking the old sofa to the transfer station Saturday), so here's what the front room looks like now.  Much better than before!  Muy bonita!

This sofa and chair look like some offered by Pottery Barn (the Manhattan collection, designed to resemble furniture used in Manhattan nightclubs of the 1930s).  Their catalog shows that this set would cost $4400.  This ersatz leather stuff cost me about 3% of that.  Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha!  Of course, the true test is how long it will look this good under that onslaught of furry, muddy paws.  I'm happy to report that Maggie has shown exactly zero interest in laying on this, when given the option of the more comfortable (for her) stripey thing near the windows.

Eleven Eggs

Must. Use. Up. Eggs.

The chickens are giving me 4-5 eggs a day, and I've been consuming 2-3 eggs a day.  After I filled up my third dozen (three dozen in the fridge and increasing daily), I declared a house emergency, googled "use up eggs" and found some recipes that should put us in the good soon.

This here lemon curd consumed eleven eggs (!!!), some whole and some yolks.  It will go on a pound cake (6-8 eggs).  Last week I made a sausage quiche (6 eggs).

My religion is egg-based.  I've been eating 2-3 eggs a day for about 25 years and when the talking heads said, "don't eat eggs," I shut my ears.  This glut of eggs and me trying to put them into everything I eat means that my food seems more ... whole, more substantial than the carb calories of my friends.  If loving eggs is wrong - I don't wanna be right!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Benign Neglect

Last year I was brutal in my efforts to "improve" this area and others around my new/old house.  I took out a bunch of stuff, planted other stuff - all before knowing what was in here before I came.  Yeah, I know.  Dumb.  In my infinite wisdom, I managed to eradicate horseradish from here - at least I couldn't find any this year after digging out a ton of it last year.  Bleh on me.

A few hardy things managed to grow despite my "help," like one, lonely foxglove.  I didn't know what the yellow thing was, so after looking in all my wildflower books and not finding it, I asked here, on this blog and got the answer tut suite.

This year is different.  I've learned (a little anyway).  I'm gonna let my plants express themselves.  The foxglove is back in yellow, and in purple, too!  You may be able to see those above.  A bunch of mystery stuff is here, too.  Some of it I know from last year is coneflower, and the rest of it, we'll just see. 

Looking at the magnificent mess from the side shows that peonies are still blooming, invisibly, below the canopy.  This is one area where I wish I could turn back time and leave it as it was when I came to this house a year and a half ago.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pear Pests

I took a few minutes to walk around my small orchard yesterday evening and saw these pests on one of the pear trees.
There's the ants, and there are these tiny, green "balls" bunched up at the new growth at the top of the plant.

First, does anyone know what they are?  All the online pictures of pear pests show them fully grown (or at least all I could find in a 10-minute search). 

Second, can I assume they're pests, and not good?  (There I am with this whole white hat-black hat thing again!  In my newbie world, things need to be good or bad.  Shades of grey will come later, with wisdom.) 

Third - what to do about them?  Spray them off with water or soapy water?

Friday, June 18, 2010

SAP = Life

I've been getting into the depths of SAP for a project at work.  The kind of depths where I have to cancel all my meetings so I can concentrate for long periods of time on multiple tables, data field names, queries and all sorts of "fun" stuff.  (Or maybe I was looking for an excuse to cancel meetings!) 

I get so wrapped up in computer stuff that it takes over my life.  I get amused that I can name an infoset with 9 joined tables after myself.  Next I'll be naming infosets amusing things like, REALLY_GOOD_INFOSET.  It took me days to make a really good query that doesn't work right, and have to change the infoset, which means changing the query, and back and forth we go.  I remember this type of work from some programming work I did years ago, back when they had this thing called a command prompt, and this other thing called DOS.

After hours and hours of SAP work, I looked up and saw a neat, swirly icon.  Hovering the cursor over the icon shows that it means Enhance.  My brain is discombobulated in SAP-land, so the first thing I thought was, "How cool!  If I click this button will my life get better? Will it be like going through a wormhole in space and everything will be wonderful?"

Even better is the icon two to the right of Enhance.  It looks like a matchstick, but it's really a magic wand!

Tonight I think I'll dream about clicking buttons called Enhance and swirling into a better world...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Playing Before Bedtime

A few evenings this week, I got a kick out of playing with the goats for a while before I put them to bed.  I had a terrible time getting them to go in the shed on the second night.

I had to push them in.

I came inside and told mom about this, and she said, "Of course.  Every parent learns not to play with the kids before bed."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Persistence Pays and Clearing the Deck

I wanted to get rid of my uncomfortable sofa and had a picture in my mind of what I wanted. Even though I wrote here that I didn't think I'd be getting a new-to-me sofa this year, I kept looking, and finally found exactly what I was looking for.  It's even vinyl.  And really cheap.  We'll be picking it up this weekend.  One of my characteristics that I most like - I don't give up easily.

Which leads into item number two.  Mr Third Date never stopped texting me, even after he no-showed on a Saturday morning date almost two months ago without apology, email, call, or anything.  Somehow I let it go, and we got close to getting together again this week.  I had a chance to think on Friday as I was mowing the lawn (good time to think, mowing the lawn!), and I came inside and cleared the decks.  No more Mr Third Date, about 6 weeks too late.  Sometimes not giving up easily means things last longer than they should.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Visual Progress Report

June 15th status of everything in the south yard (from lower center left clockwise):

- Woodshed rebuild is not complete.
- Chickens are happy, but not being moved frequently enough (coop is difficult to move), they leave denuded dirt in their wake.
- Cherry trees and orchard doing OK.  Apricots are just beginning to leaf out.  If they're this slow in future years, I doubt I'll ever get apricots.  Moved a bunch of rocks from here today on my day off (cue any song about the hard rock pile).
- goat shed and yard.  Spent 1/2 hour last night before bed time with them in their yard.  They are really amusing!
- garden raised beds.  Planted a bunch of stuff I've never grown before without doing research on how or when to harvest!  I'm not going to complain about this "problem."
- sundial.  Slowly removing grass from around the rock it's resting on. Considering which ground cover to use.

(Yeah, OK.  This seems Power-point-y to me.  I do project updates like this for work ALL the time. Finally - a project update on something I care about!)

Monday, June 14, 2010


This, my friends, is a push nut.  It's a little bigger than an inch in outside diameter and until yesterday it held a tire on my hand truck. 
You can see that it's not holding anything now because it's broken. I broke it, trying to get it off so that I could replace a hand truck tire that won't hold air. This push nut is designed to stay on, and never be removed.

After I broke this push nut, I spent hours (OK, maybe minutes) looking up where to get more.  I've stopped by two hardware stores today so far, and while they sell push nuts, they do not sell push nuts this big.

I've gotten myself into a little bit of doo doo with this one. All because I'm trying to replace a tire on a piece of equipment that's likely designed to be disposable. (Never mind that I may have been able to get the tire repaired without taking it off.  We're a little past that point, now.)

I'll give the big box stores a shot, then may try to order this push nut online, where if I find it, I'll have to order at least 10 of them.  Anyone want a 5/8 ID push nut, or a few of them?

The Wellies

It's been rainy, cold and crappy for six out of the last eight days and these wellies are getting a lot of use.  (Rainy, that is, when I've been home.  It was sunny and wonderful when I was trapped behind a desk.)  I'm beginning to get a feeling of dread that this summer will be a repeat of last summer, where June in Albany was the wettest June EVER. Next week's forecast shows scattered showers or thundershower possibility every day except Tuesday.  Good thing I'm taking Tuesday off work, or else I might be heartbroken for lack of sun.  Me and the basil, which is turning yellow and red.  (The basil I started is doing fine.  The basil I bought is becoming colorful.  Hmm.  Another drop in the bucket of starting vs buying started plants.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

When my friend Linda was here, she identified a bunch of my mystery plants.  Like this one, she pointed out, is stinging nettle.  (Aha!  So THAT's what made my thumb tingly and numb for an entire day!) 

See the stingers on the stems?

And the stingers on the leaves?
As I walked the goats back and forth through the week, I noticed this "ground cover" around an apple tree looked newly familiar.  Stinging nettle.  Then I saw it near where the fire pit used to be.  And more of it all over the orchard area.
I've got a TON of this stuff.  It's growing in all the places that were disturbed last year.  Time to do some internet research on how to get rid of it.

After reading about all the medicinal uses of this stuff, how it can be eaten, made into tea, astringent, diuretic, etc, etc, etc., I'm wondering if I should be harvesting it instead of trying to kill it.  Do any of you folks do anything with stinging nettle?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hillbilly Parking

Some of us hill folk have to be taught how to act in the city!  It's a rainy day today (again! for the 5th or so time this week!), perfect for running errands.  I took mom into the city to a few architectural salvage stores.  There was a world cup soccer event taking up most of the parking places, which doesn't bother this creative, country person!  Note my big black truck parked cattywumpus to all the other cars, which are lined up so primly and properly parallel to the curb.  (Big props if you knew what "cattywumpus" means before you looked it up just now!)

Serene Saturday

It's thyme time. This ground cover is expanding in several places in my yard.  Not knowing that, I planted one in the kitchen garden where it is thriving.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Pond

Update on the neighbor-guest "issue,"
I spent a major part of yesterday being worried and distracted about this thing, and hours (really - hours!), finding out what police phone number I should call if this happens again.  I left work at the end of the day not knowing who to call, spoke with my mother when I got home and she told me that a white work van came up about 9 am and sat in my driveway for a few minutes before leaving.  When the feller drove away, he put his fingers in the "peace" sign out his window.

That's how I had left it with him yesterday morning, "Peace," after asking him to turn the music down and listening to all his reasons why he felt the need to drink a lot of beer and play music loud.

Anyway - the state trooper finally called back and I spoke to him.  My town doesn't have a noise ordinance, so he's not breaking the law.  However, Mr Trooper said that 5am is out of line, and police would respond if I called in the future.  I've got phone numbers now, for the state troopers and the county sheriff.  He even offered to go talk to the guy (I passed), and said that it's OK to call 911 if he comes back and sits in the driveway again, so I feel better about the whole thing - at least for now.

On another note...

I'm only half embarrassed to say that when my friend was here last weekend and we were catching up, it was mostly about guys.  She had some luck (the exact, right amount of luck) with, a site I haven't used in years.  So I signed up with them and am impressed.

The pond is a lot bigger over there!  That means more very interesting people, and more weird people.  Here's an email I got yesterday:

Subject: Message: Capricorn?

do you like men in general? you need a handyman? you have hairy legs or pits?

I would entertain the idea of travel to NY., not a problem for me. Your line of work sounds interesting. I would like to know more, please.

Homesteader? hmm
Saco, Me.

Sigh .... just ... sigh.
I'm not going to respond to that one.
Last week someone emailed me to ask if I had nice feet, not to be odd, he said.  When I responded that it was odd that feet were the most important thing to him, he wrote that he had never said they were important.
Sigh again. That was the end of that.  I'll let folks like that have the last word.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thanks Linda!

Good Neighbors

The neighbor-guest down the hill who's been playing music very loud in the mornings finally got me at a weak spot.  A work morning when I could be sleeping.  The music woke me up this morning at 5.  Seeing red, I threw on some sweatpants and roared down the hill to find a guy with a beer in his hand doing an  imitation of Leonardo Di Caprio, "I'm the king of the world!" on some rocks.  The music was playing from his work van.

I had to yell a few times to get his attention (the music was really loud), but he apologized a thousand times and tried to beer-ily explain his situation.  One of his reasons was that he likes to get away on the mountain for the quiet.  (Um, yeah.  Me too.)  When he started to put his arm around me and suggested that that he'll bring some steaks up or I should come down to dinner, I backed off and got out of there.  I really hope I didn't replace one problem (loud music some mornings) with another problem (amorous, unwelcome neighbor).

I made feta cheese last night with 2 gallons of raw milk.  It drained in the sink overnight, and this morning I cut it up and put it in some brine I made up last night.  I hope the taste of this cheese improves with brining. This might be the first cheese I've made that I don't think is edible.

Here's the young, small orchard.  First, two apricot trees.  Then two pear, and finally, one apple tree over by the dogs.  It seems like I wouldn't need another apple tree, but Esopus Spitzenberg apple was recommended by a few people and I wanted to try it.  I have to get another pear tree next year because according to the nursery, the Seckel needs to be pollinated by two other types of pear and I only have one other.  I need to clean up all the small rocks before I can mow the grass over here, and I should re-seed.  The grass I planted hasn't really come up. Some sort of protection for the little tree trunks would probably be a good idea, too.

[Edit: I went outside an hour+ later (7 am) and the music was on again, louder than before, and he was yelling. This is thorny. The phone number I have for the lady who owns the house doesn't work, although I have some options for getting her phone number. The next time her dogs come over I can read their collar tags, or I can stop by a bar I know she frequents and ask the bartender. Next step is to call and talk to her about this guy. If that doesn't work, would I really have to call the police? That seems a bit extreme. It really annoys me that someone else is rude enough to play excessively loud music at 5 in the morning and I'm the one trying not to piss anyone off. Is it possible that I'm being unreasonable wanting peace and quiet at my place in the woods, and I should just go ahead and let him play his crappy music??]

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

First Day

I'm halfway into the fire department, approved by the members, but not yet approved by the commissioners, which will happen Monday.  The department has weekly drills, and me and one other new guy went to our first fire drill last night.  I got to suit up and hold the big hose!  (well actually, it was a small hose and it didn't have a lot of pressure, but anyway...)

Embarrassingly, they couldn't find any pants that fit my womanly hips.  It's all made for a man's shape, so it'll be a pretty big man whose small hips will be big enough to fit my shape.  Sigh.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Article on Goats: Charlotte, North Carolina

This article is from the Carolina Weekly.  Sorry, no pictures...

Planning the return of UCity's green goats

June 4, 2010 University City’s green goats are off the clock.

A team of 15 goats needed less than a month to clear some 2 acres of brambles, poison oak and brush off the grounds of Environmental Way’s Louis Rose Place land in University Research Park. The goats, from Wells Farm in Horse Shoe, served as an alternative to “diesel-guzzling” machinery, according to Beth Machen, project manager for Environmental Way.

Environmental Way takes over what used to be an IBM facility on Louis Rose Place. It’s a move in the right direction for University Research Park, according to Mary Hopper, executive director of University City Partners, as Environmental Way embraces a number of green initiatives.

The building will be the area’s first “LEED-Certified Platinum” building, according to Machen, with updated air and heating units as well as an energy management system. Tenants leasing room in Environmental Way’s building must meet certain green guidelines as well.

With environmental friendliness in mind, Environmental Way leader David Bowles agreed to call in the goats May 7 to clear undergrowth near his building. University City Partners organized a festival of all things green to celebrate the goats’ arrival. The Charlotte Area Transit System, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and others provided information.

The goats were gone by Memorial Day, having eaten most of the underbrush inside their fenced-off forest and starting to look elsewhere for a meal. At least one goat decided to hop the electric fence in search of greener pastures, getting a small shock for her effort.

University City Partners already is planning another Green Goats and Gardens event in University Research Park next year, Hopper said. Meanwhile, Environmental Way hopes to soon sign a lease with its first tenant – Southern Energy Management, a sustainable energy company.

The Goats Are Getting Bigger

Our twice-daily practice on the leash and time spent together is getting to be fun.  I'm trying to handle them a bit more, their legs, their feet, etc., so they get used to me doing stuff to them.  We play for a few minutes in their area before they go into the shed.  They play king of the mountain on a bench and do real sk8boarder antics jumping off the bench.

Every morning when I bring them into the overgrown area (the same one for the last 2 weeks), the first place they go is to this blueberry bush, and then the next blueberry bush.  I don't mind donating 2 blueberry bushes to the goats - I've got plenty more, and they're learning valuable skills, like how to push down a branch and how to work together.  It's for a greater cause!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Whole Reason

The whole reason why I planted broccoli rabe is in this Broccolini salad from the Duplex Diner in Washington DC.  I had the salad a few times when I lived in DC from 2003 thru mid-2007 and it is To. Die. For.

I planted rabe seeds in March, nursed it along, planted it in the ground, and then got busy, and now it's begun to bolt.  Even though you see the recipe plain in front of you, it occurred to me exactly 1/2 hour ago to look it up online.  Before then I had a memory of a yummy salad and was thinking to send my Dad to the restaurant to order some and figure out the formula.  My Dad is laid up these days and I was bereft for weeks.  What to do?  What to do?  (I may be an engineer, but there's a difference between being engineer smart and being "smart" smart!)

So, anyway - I stood looking at the bolting rabe and it occurred to me like a thunderclap.  Email the restaurant!  Ask them for the recipe!  I came inside, got online to the website and the menu - and there's the recipe, plain as day.  Sometimes it's convenient when restaurants list every single ingredient on the menu!
PS:  I think maybe I planted these things too close together.  Lesson learned!