On spring cleaning

This is a bit of a “taking care of business” post.  Apologies for its strange list-like format.

  1. BEES ARE OUR FRIENDS. I find it quite hopeful that 120 people showed up for the Introductory Beekeeping Class that my husband attended this past weekend.  The Kalamazoo Bee Club can now boast 500-odd members.  And if only half of those attendees start their own hives this year, that’s sixty new hives.  This is a great and positive thing, and I look forward to home-grown honey topping our home-grown breakfast yogurt!
  2. MO’ MONEY, MO’ MONEY. I have been watching with interest the kerfuffle over the apparent trademarking of the terms Urban Homestead/Urban Homesteader, among other oft-used terms.  I’ve been looking at the debate as one of morals (simply, individual working orders) versus ethics (collective working orders that don’t necessarily apply to everyone).  It seems the point of most people’s frustration is the graying of the moral/ethical line by a grabbing of the commons to the benefit of an individual.  The folks who are the center of the controversy started their home food-producing endeavor with what I can only assume were the best of intentions (a moral choice).  With time and the internets, it appears money has blinded them (an ethical matter).  This happens so often to individuals in the business world (that someone’s personal compass gets de-magnetized from one’s moral true north) that it barely bears mentioning…and 99 times out of 100 it is because the idea of “more money” is behind it.  In point of fact, “more money” is a laudable, revered goal in the business world (it’s the business world’s ethic, if not any one individual’s).  So my first response to this controversy, frankly, was why would anyone be surprised? What makes it galling, of course, is this one family’s land grab over anyone else’s use of the term as it would now infringe on their ability to make (more) money for themselves.  They’ve gone way beyond the mere sharing of gardening ideas to the copywriting of an idea.  This is morally suspect in the personal world but in the corporate world, it is par for the course.
  3. TRADEMARK THIS. So I of course have been thinking about how I would never be motivated to trademark anything.  Goodness, why?  Money has never been much of a motivator for me, and the idea of making money on how-to-grow-food advice is distasteful.  Collectively and individually, we all need to learn how to grow some of our food, and the sooner the better.  But over the nearly six years of my writing this blog, I have been contacted by two publishers expressing interest in me writing a book that codified and expanded on its ideas.  I have considered the proposals with all seriousness and have rejected them mainly because a book would not be free, it’s instead a money-making venture off of the commons.  The blog and its contents are free to those of us lucky enough to have access to the web, and likewise I do not accept ads.  (If indeed I were to write a book, it would probably be about something else entirely.)   However, if I were to rip off anything, how about my personal spin on Michael Pollan’s food recommendations?  You know:  Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  This is what I advocate for myself, and thus by extension, anyone else who can do so:  “Grow food.  As much as you can.  And share it.” I wouldn’t trademark it though.
  4. VEG GARDEN BOOK. Speaking of books, I have a fabulous one to recommend to you.  (Full disclosure of course is that I do know the writer, and, in point of fact, she interviewed me for the book…but I get no kickbacks from this, peeps.)  Michele rocks, period.  And her argument is completely convincing.
  5. MEAT CHICKENS. I have ordered my meat birds for this year.  This, indeed, is quite early…however, I won’t be getting them until the first week of July.  For those of you considering it, I annually raise 25 meat chickens within a chicken tractor that I drag around the back 40 twice a day for 12 weeks.  In other words, I expend a lot of energy just for a freezer full of chicken dinner.  And like last year, I am ordering the godawfully named Freedom Rangers because  honestly they are more tender than the usual slower-growing meat chickens I have raised in the past.  Marginally more tender, that is; they taste the same.  And despite the problems I had with them (splay legged chicks: a nightmare to resolve, frankly, and general meanness in the flock) I am going with them again.  Shoot me now.
  6. GREENHOUSE STARTS. Indoors and out, many things have begun to sprout, and it makes me happy.  I have two toads that have come out of their hibernation hidey-holes in the old greenhouse, too.  It’s fun to visit them.
  7. SWEAT EQUITY. I finally finished my bleeping kitchen renovation.  Ergh.  Took me eight weeks.  Now I can spend my extra time outside!

Ah.  That’s quite enough of a list.  I wish you all spring cheer.

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12 responses to “On spring cleaning

  1. Can I start a blog called “Path to freedom of expression?” I had missed this mess, possibly because of a much larger mess going on in my state this week. But still, WTH? As I’ve learned the past few days–go to the source, and what I
    found in their website as an explanation was not very convincing.

    Congrats on your kitchen reno!

  2. How did he like the bee school in Kzoo? I’ve been watching the enrollment on the one in Albion that’s coming up on Saturday and considering it but I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit to bees.

  3. bee school was good fun. will you be going the langstroth route, or top bar? after learning a bit more, it is confirmed that top bar will be more our style. i didn’t meet your husband, since there were those 120 attendees, but i looked for him.

    also – i like kitchen reno pictures. in case you are ever feel like sharing. 😉

  4. haha I love that you used the word bleeping. Makes me smile.

  5. Hurray to Michele Owens writing a book. Her Garden Rant entries are so enjoyable that the book is certain to be a treasure. It’s going on the list.
    Our muddle headed town forbids beekeeping. It’s also going on the list.

  6. Freedom Rangers…I hate that name too.:) As I can never pass up on a new gardening book I will add Michele Owens book to my list and look forward to reading it some day. Congrats on finishing the kitchen.

  7. I second the kitchen reno pics!

  8. Wow! Excitement all around. We are about to finish our shed-turned-chicken coop for our first hand at animal husbandry–very exciting! And I have to say my first seeds of the season are sprouting (cabbage, tomatoes, peppers) for our first garden in this home, so happy, happy, happy times ahead! Good luck with the Freedom Rangers, hopefully they’ll be a nice flock this year. I have to say it, I think Old Man Winter’s back is breaking!

  9. you might want to try the k-22s from Moyers.. They were so good! Maybe next year if you want. I ordered 50 last year and mostly became organic, free range dinners for the fox family in the backyard while I enjoyed the sun in south of Spain : (

    Happy Spring!!

  10. Concerning #3: I’ve been reading your blog now for 2+ years and my backyard, kitchen and table are reflecting your influence. Your attitude has made so much seem so possible at my home and at the school where I volunteer. I’ve never paid you a dime. I never will. (sorry) But, at least I can say, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

  11. I am so grateful for bloggers like you that have inspired me to join in the homesteading lifestyle. My greatest wish is that we can actually find the right land and home to begin our grand adventure. Its all done by babysteps. 5 years ago we decided to get out of debt to be more self-reliant. 4 years ago we sold our home to pay off the last debts. 3 years ago we moved to Missouri to start our own businesses. Since then we have been OCD about visiting farms and trying to find the perfect place. This month is our do or die month. If we want to have bees and chickens they have to be ordered ASAP and we have to have a place in time for their arrival.
    How did you find your part of paradise and how did you know it was the right place?

  12. Sorry all, don’t know what has happened to me in responding to comments!

    Sara, I don’t know, seems a whole lot of crazy has been catching lately. I am glad to hear you went and marched in solidarity though. Being in a crowd can be fun, occasionally!

    Emily, like I mentioned, even if you don’t commit to them this year, attending the class brings you a lot closer in understanding what’s involved. And yeah the start-up costs can be considerable! That said, I swear I spend half what I spent on Tom’s kit in local honey every year. Easily.

    Hi Serina. Tom’s going to do both, though the traditional boxes are what I purchased for him. Glad you liked the class, and yeah, 120 people! How hopeful is that, poor little bees! And ick, pictures. It was really just shelves I put up, makes a whole lotta difference but I still hate my kitchen!

    Shannon, sometimes, words fail. Or not!

    Pamela, wow, you could be an illicit beekeeper. That could be fun. Plus, bees don’t have to travel so far for flowers in town.

    Thanks, Mike. It’s funny: the chickens are actually French (Rouge something-or-other) but like Freedom Fries I guess it was too easy to malign all things Gallic.

    Ah Jules. Maybe, one day, I will take a picture.

    Liz, well, I keep hoping winter will go away and it still doesn’t seem to! That said, I am getting 18 eggs a day so I know things are turning. Hey, congratulations on all your starts! It will be a very interesting year for you.

    WF, that’ll teach you to go on vacation! I looked them up: thanks for the tip, if my lady doesn’t come through I will definitely try to get some of your birds.

    Ah Brad, thank YOU. Your comment made me think this is all worthwhile.

    Hi Jocelyn. Well, first of all, I do not think there IS such a thing as a perfect place: I think most places are Good Enough Places. It’s what you put into them that matters. We selected our place for its proximity to Lake Michigan, the size of the house and the size of the land. That it had clay soil and crappy outbuildings was an obstacle to be overcome. After 6 years, we love it…but it’s been a hard road at times. I hope that helps. For what it’s worth, we didn’t have our coop built by the time our girls started laying eggs, oops! and it still worked out. So, take some pressure off of yourself. IT will happen.

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