20100530

Our Latest Romano Cheese


Our Latest Romano Cheese
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This first attempt to make a romano cheese has been going quite smoothly. I'm surprised at the beauty of this cheese both visually and scent wise. It has just come out of a 20 hour brine bath and will sit out to dry for the next two days.

Our Latest Romano Cheese #2 Our Latest Romano Cheese #3 Our Latest Romano Cheese #4

20100528

Wild Light & Desert Storms

I'm always blown away by the sky in New Mexico. Some say, "they sky's the ocean here!" It's mesmerizing, especially when a storm comes through. Here are a few shots of yesterday's sky action.

Skim Boarding Efforts Continue

Underplanting Woes


Underplanting Woes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Lot's of seedlings going into the raised beds still. We might have ruined our onion crops by underplanting vegetables in the same beds. The problem we are seeing is rotten onions probably due to overwatering. The only reason we had been watering more than usual was to keep the seedlings alive. The garlic does not seem to be as sensitive.

Summer Snack


Summer Snack
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This is how we eat when the weather warms up. Wendy boiled up some $0.20 corn (ours is still coming in). We also had a rather wild salad with about half the ingredients being from our garden. That's our kombucha in the strange hand painted Turkish glass. We have taken to have our afternoon kombucha exclusively in this funny shaped glass since it is a odd tasting beverage.

Welding Project Day

Today we worked on three welding projects: the shade (needed a couple extra tacks), a head and footboard that I picked up 3 years ago so that one day when we had shade I could upholster a foam pad for it (using shade cloth) and have an outdoor bed for lounging and outdoor slumber, and third an ancient dinky little cart I picked up that mikey took a liking to.

I chose to weld the bed. It's been a while since I welded. Oddly one of me and Mikey's first dates was a trip to Madagaskar Institute in Brooklyn for a welding class. I had already been working there on a post 9-11 art project called Phoenix Rising, so I took Mikey and we got some practice working with metal tools.

But since we started making our ferro domes Mikey has done the welding and I have been wanting to get back to it. I have a list of projects that require that I weld, cut and basically have decent skills with all aspects of metal work. So I welded the bed frame and it came out fine but I do want to get some more practice before taking on anything that requires real structural integrity, that is stuff where someone could get hurt.

20100526

Munching on Yucca


Munching on Yucca
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I've been enjoying a few types of flowers this spring. Prickly pear has a lovely yellow flower in our area that is a bit slimy, but has a reasonable taste. The beautiful purple cholla flowers have a more enjoyable taste. Definitely my favorite so far is the yucca bloom. A neighbor handed me a 1 gallon bag of yucca he picked from his yard during my morning walk with Sesame. I ate a few and shared them with the others at the dog park. The petals seem to be sweetest near the center and more bitter towards the outside. It is somewhat reminiscent to eating a artichoke.

Hibiscus Flower


Hibiscus Flower
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our hibiscus plant just opened a beautiful red flower today. I read that we can harvest the calyces (the sepals behind the petals) and dry them to make tea. We might just do that.

Shade - Finally


Shade - Finally
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We enjoyed our first breakfast in the comfort of the outdoor shade structure this morning. We did have a last minute rebar bending party to secure our cloth mounts, but that was it. The rest worked out just as planned.

Shade - Finally #2 Shade - Finally #3

20100525

Last Day No Shade


Last Day No Shade
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We finished painting our shade structure today. It was a long road to get here (about a month) if you start from the first day we actually cut steel for the structure. Tomorrow we will mount up the shade cloth. Next up we stain the slab and build custom furniture.

Last Day No Shade #2

Prickly - We Had a Good Run


Prickly - We Had a Good Run
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Last October marked the end of our prickly pear cactus fruit harvest. Today (near the end of May) we have just depleted our frozen purple supply. We had a pretty good run managing to use our prickly pear stash through all of fall, winter and spring. Maybe this year we will collect enough prickly fruit to make it all the way until next years harvest.

20100524

Outdoor Shelving


Outdoor Shelving
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Last weekend there was a auction at the vet center. We skipped it since we don't have the patience to stand around in the sun all day waiting for each item to come up. A friend of ours went and gave us three of these white PVC wheeled baskets which will come in handy. Wendy put two of them to use right away as seedling prep stations.

Shade Structure - Hooked, Sanded, and Primed


Shade Structure - Hooked, Sanded, and Primed
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We gave a few more hours this morning to the shade project. It was rewarding to see the fabric easily go up even if it was just for a few minutes. The hooks are now welded to hold the shade cloth and the weld areas have all been sanded and reprimed. Tomorrow we add paint!

20100523

Video: Learn to Make Cheese in 5 Minutes

We thought we would give our blog readers a update on our cheese making progress. We now have a raw mozzarella cheese that we enjoy eating and it is super easy to make.

Making a Large Amount of Shade


Making a Large Amount of Shade
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy spent a full day sewing together two giant strips of shade cloth. This was roughly 30' long and 11' wide. While she could use the sewing machine for some parts others were done entirely by hand.

Making a Large Amount of Shade #2 Making a Large Amount of Shade #3

Kicking Kombucha Up a Notch


Kicking Kombucha Up a Notch
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We tried two new things today during our kombucha racking session. The first was using a clear wine bottle and cork for storing the kombucha. It looks significantly better than the old beer bottles we had been reusing. Perhaps it could make a nice gift with the new sleek appearance. The second thing we did differently was hang the daughters out to dry on the laundry line. Normally we reuse the daughters or give them to a neighbor, but we are curious about how well it performs as a vegan leather. I wonder what the going rate is for dried kombucha as a textile per yard would be.

Kicking Kombucha Up a Notch #2

Electric Vehicle Battery Swaps


Electric Vehicle Battery Swaps
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our around town electric vehicle received a replacement pair desulfated 12V batteries today. The GEM vehicles are notorious for chewing through Interstate batteries. Each Interstate battery exhibits the same problem after a few months of use. A single cell dies while the others are fine. I've contacted Interstate about the issue only to find out they were already well versed in the battery failures caused by GEM vehicles. Unfortunately for me my local auto and boat stores primarily sell Interstate batteries. When I make my rounds collecting dead batteries the most common brand is Interstate.

20100522

A Relaxing Day in the Gila National Forest


A Relaxing Day in the Gila National Forest
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

After a significant work week we decided to take our little B100
burning Jelly Bean for a ride into the nearby national forest. Sesame came along and we spent the day do light hikes and practicing our wild plant identification

A Relaxing Day in the Gila National Forest #2 A Relaxing Day in the Gila National Forest #3

Garden Transition - Winter2Summer


Garden Transition - Winter2Summer
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Looking at our garden during this season transition we find ourselves waving goodbye to the cool weather plants and saying hello to the hot crops. At this point there are only a few edibles in the garden that have been eating as the rest of the plants have either gone to seed or are still just seedlings. We are currently harvesting the following foods from our garden

- potatoes
- garlic
- kale
- snap peas
- dill
- onion tops
- celery
- speckled lettuce

Garden Transition - Winter2Summer #2 Garden Transition - Winter2Summer #3 Garden Transition - Winter2Summer #4 Garden Transition - Winter2Summer #5 Garden Transition - Winter2Summer #6 Garden Transition - Winter2Summer #7

20100520

Shade Cloth Mount


Shade Cloth Mount
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We rigged up some black pipe fittings, electrical conduit and rebar to make a slick mount for our retractable shade cloth today. We even had a moment of dry fitting the shade cloth until one of my welds snapped. I suppose it is possible for us to have 275 square feet of shade to enjoy by this weekend.

Here Comes the Pumpkins


Here Comes the Pumpkins
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We didn't plant any squash this year as the squash bugs they attract are extremely difficult to get rid of. Instead we planted pumpkin and melons. The pumkin blossoms showed up today under our Xmas tree and are a welcome sight. Tomorrow morning I might try the old trick of placing some cheese in the blossom and then pulling the blossom+cheese that afternoon for a snack.

20100519

Flatland Skimboarding in New Mexico


Flatland Skimboarding in New Mexico
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Last week my new skimboard arrived. I should say new to me since it is a nine year old polyvac/fiberglass board made by Victoria. If you are not already familiar with skimboarding this video will show you what a flatland competition looks like. I've never heard of anyone skimming in New Mexico, but it seems to me a good way to make use of the massive lake just a few miles from our home.

Shade Latias


Shade Latias
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Updated shade structure design which includes 12' latias and 4x4 beams in upper area.

Dr. Seuss Moves Into the Kitchen - Onion Flowers

I love when the onions produce flowers! They're so surreal looking and remind me of Dr Seuss's characters and tree tops. Oh la la!

Shade Connections


Shade Connections
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our 4x4 shade work is almost complete. The primary upper supports were all welded in place this morning. This leaves us with just two more pieces of 4x4 to run right down the center. These will act as supports for the latias.

Shade Connections #2

White Fly Trap


White Fly Trap
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

The white flies have started to show up. We noticed them only in the
east facing vegetation. Our potatoes and grapes are taking the brunt
of their invasion. Since these flies seemed to cause some trouble last
year Wendy looked into ways to get rid of them. She found a simple
idea that already seems to be effective. Put up a yellow piece of
paper and slather it with vaseline. The flies are attracted to yellow
and get stuck.

20100518

Potato and Egg Frittata


Potato and Egg Frittata
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy made a lovely potato and egg frittata for breakfast. It featured our own potatoes and raw farmhouse cheddar. We haven't eaten this dish since last year when our potatoes were coming in.

Rattlesnake Hole


Rattlesnake Hole
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We took Sesame for a ride out to Elephant Butte this afternoon. During our hike we caught her trying to stick her head in what appeared to be southern facing snake holes. Two of her brothers died from rattlesnake bites while she was in the shelter so we were particular upset with this behavior. After some training and a quick spook from what sounded like a rattle we managed to get her to stay on the trail and stop visiting each hole. She needs a lot of attention this time of year until she learns to avoid snake areas.