20100328

Fruit Tree Flowers


Fruit Trees Flowers
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have have been going below freezing about 3x times a week since March started. The winds have started to pick up with gusts exceeding 55 mph. I have very little hope of seeing any apricots this year based on the health of their buds. However, the two pear trees, four apple, four pomegranate, and enormous peach tree are looking strong. I took some close up pictures of the flowers so you can see the difference between them. This large image is a healthy pear flower. The first two thumbnails are apricot and the last is a peach.

Fruit Trees Flowers #2 Fruit Trees Flowers #3 Fruit Trees Flowers #4

Projector Repair a Success


Projector Repair a Success
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our projector is up and running again. The $55 replacement bulb worked like a champ. I had to remove about dozen screws and keep track of the four lamp connection wires. I think anyone can do this swap for the old Lumen Lab projectors (v.1). Here are the specs again on the bulb I used.

CMH150/T/U/942/G12
150W MH T6 4200K G12 Base
92586 GE Brand
M81, M102, M142 ANSI Code
BIN: NONSTK UPC: R092586

20100326

More Wine ( White Zinfandel )


More Wine ( White Zinfandel )
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Yes, the production of alcohol at HSHS has been off the hook this
year. Our latest batch is a White Zinfandel which won't be bottled
until the end of April.

Neighbors Outdoor Oven


Neighbors Outdoor Oven
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our neighbor Larry just built a house next door to us over the winter. His most recent addition is a little pizza/bread oven in which he starts a fire in then brings it up to 700F or so and then makes a half dozen pizzas and bread loafs. He built the oven in about a week from cinder block, poured concrete and a lightweight perlite / portland mix on top. He made a few pizzas and they were unbelievable fast and delicious.

Neighbors Outdoor Oven #2 Neighbors Outdoor Oven #3

20100324

Swap-O-Rama-Rama Spring Season in Bloom

As you may know some of my best work has been the creation of Swap-O-Rama-Rama, an international non-profit Creative Commons project in which communities come together to share skills that are used to repurpose textile waste. Swap-O-Rama-Rama is now in about 100 cities and takes place on most continents. Spring is the season of the swap and I'm happy to announce that there is a large list of cities producing events over the next few months. Have a peek here and see if one is hear you. Enjoy!

20100323

Raw Milk Ricotta Cheese DIY

Since we have a source for raw milk we decided to begin the cheese making process. We started with the simplest of cheeses to make, ricotta. Next we'll try a mozzarella, and then we'll move on to the harder stuff. Ricotta process: heat 1 quart of milk in pan with 1/4 tsp salt when it's at pre-boil lower heat and add 1 1/2 tbs lemon juice keep at pre-boil as curds separate from whey let this process continue for a minute or two pour over cheese cloth placed in strainer over larger bowl. gather whey in bowl gather cheese in cheese cloth wala! yum.

What a Difference a Year Makes - Sesame's Anniversary

March marks the one year anniversary of the adoption of our doggie Sesame. At the time we adopted her she was "unadoptably nervous" But I insisted that she was my dog. When you find your dog there's not much that can get between you and said dog. It's odd really because at the time I had never had a dog, I was scared of dogs and pretty sure I did not like them. So we adopted her because every cell in my being said 'that's my dog.' She shook for about three months. For at least that long I fearfully handed out biscuits to all neighborhood dogs who now noticed me and my new dog. She ignored us for longer than that. And she wouldnt go in the kitchen for almost a year. Simultaneous to her growth I learned not to fear any dog and even started training my neighbors pups. One year later she's a happy, confident, playful, loving doggie - not to mention loyal. And I lost a fear that was at times disabling. I have to recommend adoptions of shelter dogs. They may require patience and some extra care but once their confidence and trust is repaired there's no better friend. And as most dog owners come to know, I needed her as much as she needed me. Yay Sesame!

20100322

The Obvious Observer

I'd like to introduce you all to our good friends Alyce B. Obvious and Jullian Mock's new blog. It's neat, they're neat and I think you might just like it a whole lot. The Obvious Observer

Roller Derby Tucson


Roller Derby Tucson
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I took a solo road trip to Tucson this weekend in the grease car. My little sister was celebrating her 30th birthday and Tucson is a convenient grease trip (300 miles each way). Close enough to avoid burning any diesel. We had a good time watching Tucson's all girl roller derby team destroy New York's "Wall Street Traders" 162 to 58. I recommend finding out if your city has a roller derby team.

20100321

Becoming Martha: pillows & potting

I think I'm turning into Martha Stewart. Yesterday I made two pillows with the fabric left over from the curtains I recently made. Then today I just had to share my two new favorite garden tools. I was using them to transplant two lemongrass plants that a friend just gave me: one is the bendy plastic garden bucket with measurement lines inside. I love this thing! I can mix soil in it and bring it in the house and do a bunch of planting while keeping all the stuff in the bucket. Tidy, light, awesome. Scardy Cat likes it too. The other favorite item is the large scoop for soil mixing. It's huge, probably holds 5 cups of soil and makes planting in pots or scooping soil or amendments super easy and fast.

20100320

Raw Unpasteurized Yum

A good friend dropped by this beautiful bounty of raw cow milk. I even got the cows name and she's local. Now what's really lame is that raw milk is illegal in much of America. Seems that if we drank raw milk - complete with all the enzymes in it to aid digestion of it - we might stop buying all those pills for lactose sensitivity. Hummm. Interestingly, I just got back from Los Angeles where I found raw milk in the markets. In keeping with the law I fed it to my pets and they were so happy they could barely believe it. Now I'd never drink it myself (gulp) or say, uh, make cheese. Eh heeemmm.

20100319

Seedlings, Its Time!

In my neighborhood I'm a bit conservative in perhaps only one category, I plant my seedlings late. Too often S. New Mexico will get a freeze in early April. When seedlings live for too long in the seedling pods they get leggy and root bound. Today I planted the following in seedling trays where they'll live in my east facing kitchen window until about 4/15: beans (runners, bush), brussel sprout, castor bean, eggplant, loofa, okra, peas, peppers (6 varieties), tomatoes (6 varieties) pumpkin, wolf-berry, cantaloupe, chile.

I also started several pots (also indoors) that include the following: basil, lemongrass, marjoram, sage, thyme.

And I will direct seed (in the coming weeks): bee balm, calendula, carrot, parsnip, chamomile, echinacea, evening primrose, fennel, holly hawk, holy basil, lavender and watermelon.

Since we had a winter garden there's really no room for new plants in the beds anyway. The winter garden that's currently still growing includes: kale, spinach, celery, arugula, broccoli, bush beans, cilantro, dill, potatoes, onions, beets, garlic, lettuces of all kinds.

20100318

Salt Cedar Harvest


Salt Cedar Harvest
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We were a little late on harvesting salt cedar this year. Ideally we would have been out on my birthday (March 10th) while the young salt cedar sticks were peaking in color intensity (red). We still have a reasonable harvest for a hours work and we scored about 12 buckets of river sand.

20100315

LumenLabs EVO V.1 DIY Projector Repair


LumenLabs EVO V.1 DIY Projector Repair
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I bought a inexpensive projector almost four years ago. I have been using the same bulb the entire time. Last night the bulb blew on leaving me without a easy replacement option. LumenLabs the company has moved onto other things and does not sell the bulb or even a close description of what to replace it with. I ended up taking the projector apart and found a few issues along with the bulb info. The air filters were in great need of cleaning and one component had melted a bit by coming loose inside the case. This is the replacement lamp I went with $55 plus $10 shipping. Hope it works!

LumenLabs EVO V.1 DIY Projector Repair #2 LumenLabs EVO V.1 DIY Projector Repair #3 LumenLabs EVO V.1 DIY Projector Repair #4 LumenLabs EVO V.1 DIY Projector Repair #5

20100314

Warmer Weather == Biodiesel Production


Warmer Weather == Biodiesel Production
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

During the coldest months of winter I avoid making biodiesel for our starter tank. We still run veggie oil for road trips, but that is preheated. Now that we are reaching temperatures in the mid 70's during the day I have started making biodiesel for our starter tank again. The light biodiesel is one that I made before this winter started and the dark ones I have just shaken up. You can see how much color change occurs within a single day.

Warmer Weather == Biodiesel Production #2

Sesame has a Posse


Sesame has a Posse
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Pictured from left to right LuLu, Sesame, and Bean. Sesame is the oldest at five years old the others are just pups being 1 year old or less. They are learning to be a pack together with regular walks the various parks around TorC and Elephant Butte.

Sesame has a Posse #2

Teaming with Microbes : "The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web"


Teaming with Microbes : "The Organic Gardeneer's Guide to the Soil Food Web"
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Looking for a fun read? I have been enjoying this new book "Teaming with Microbes". They reeled me right in on page 12 (the preface) with this scanning tunnel electronic microscopic image of a root eating nematode being trapped by fungus before it could destroy a tomato plant.

20100311

Here Goes Nothing


Here Goes Nothing
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This post would probably be more appropriately titled like the Tron line "Here goes something, here comes nothing". I am trying a new experiment to save our three blossoming apricot trees. I filled 5 gallon buckets with 105 degree water from out hot spring. Then placed the buckets under our apricot trees. Tonight the temperature is supposed to be in the upper 20s and I'm worried we could lose the blossoms (which means no apricots this year). If I am lucky the warm water might keep the trees warm and humid enough to avoid freezing the blossoms overnight. We have had high winds or I would have just wrapped the trees with a special fabric we purchased.

Should I Run My Car on Veggie Oil?


Should I Run My Car on Veggie Oil?
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I have been carefully logging every trip we have taken in our veggie oil car for over two years. I also have tracked filter changes and estimated time until payback for our grease car conversion. However, I still cannot answer the most basic question that many people ask me "should I run my car on vegetable oil" ? It all depends. Are you okay with the filth involved in dealing with waste oil? Do you do occasional distance driving (ideal)? Do you have space to work? Can you be your own mechanic? What is more valuable your time, money, or the environment? How expensive is it to replace your injectors if you F* them up? I'll go ahead and share my stats below for others to come to their own conclusion about the financial savings. To sum up my own experience - I have driven 10,000 miles on veggie oil and saved $1,500 in diesel. At this rate my vehicle conversion will not be paid off for nearly seven years.

Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars


Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

A few weeks ago we obtained a vacuum sealer from a yard sale. It did not include the mason jar sealing kit, but I went ahead and paid retail to obtain the accessory. Now I can seal up my coffee, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and other stuff we typically store in mason jars. This should help food store longer. There is a clever way to achieve this vacuum using the same accessory it using a automotive hand brake. I have also been considering making a system which could work to store 25 lbs of bulk food in a 5 gallon bucket with a vacuum.

20100309

Kombucha Bottles


Kombucha Bottles
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

No problems thus far with the Kombucha we have been putting into reused beer bottles. Initially we were concerned that the bottles might break from the carbonation. I find that the bottles make for a more readily drinkable kombucha with better carbonation than the other setups we have tried. We just bottled another batch yesterday and I'm keeping the temperature as close to 75F as I can for the bottles to maximize carbonation before refrigeration.

Double Pulser Desulfation


Double Pulser Desulfation
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I'm trying a double pulsing charge / discharge process on some old Trojan golf cart batteries. The idea here is to trickle charge four 6V batteries in series using a capacitive charger while at the same time run my BatDLX desulfators which are using nearly the same amount of current as the charger is putting out. I'll let this run for a few days and then do some capacity testing. Both the charger and the desulfators are pulsing.

20100307

Cathy Hope Fermentation Workshop

Cathy Hope, founder of Iris Herbal came down from Taos to teach a fermentation workshop. It was fantastic! First we learned about the history of food and the diets of people who came before industrialized society. We talked about fermenting with whey, lacto and wild fermentation. Then we got hands on and made a salve, a tincture, liniment and fermented sauerkraut. Cathy is an excellent speaker and teacher and her herbal products are fantastic. We blogged not long ago about her deodorant which Mikey and I swear by. We also love her yarrow liniment and tinctures.I loved her extract record form, something she uses to track each thing she makes, and so I posted it for you. Bravo Cathy!

quilt show

I guess small town life would be incomplete without the quilt show. Makes sense if you think about it, without the hustle bustle of city life and pressure to work like a dog there's time for crafting and making things. These quilts were beyond impressive and took months to over a year to make. Oh la la!