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Tansy, Chipmunks & Tools

August 8, 2010

It’s been a busy week. Yesterday I had to further cut down my ten foot tall Tansy that was blocking sunlight to tomatoes and squash and peppers. The Tansy has bloomed and has pretty little yellow cap flowers that smell sweet rather than flowery. The Tansy flowers dry easily and are a nice addition to Potpourri.

Then there is the rascally chipmunk digging up my pea seeds, removing the pink seed cover and chomping on the newly sprouted seeds. I sprayed the pea bed with animal repellant, which is thoroughly repulsive and I put an ultrasonic solar animal repeller aimed right at the bed. I bought three of these things from Quickly entering the As Seen on TV Sucker club.

Ms. Chipmunk ate seeds right in front of me and with the ultrasonic animal repeller aimed right at her. I could see the red light flashing detecting her movement. She did not leave my garden until I yelled right in her seed-stuffed puffy cheeks, “YOU are not allowed in here!” So yesterday, I worked on the outside of my garden, the side that backs to the woods, and cleared weeds and patched a large section of fence with small gauge wire fence and then rocks along the base of the fence for those dig-ins. Hopefully, this worked as I re-planted the pea bed after. The ultrasonic animal repellers are going back for a full refund.


  • Napoles Carrots — I stuffed a gallon Ziploc bag full of these huge orange beauties
  • 3 Heads of Snow Crown Cauliflower — I am the only one who eats cauliflower so I only grow it for myself. The heat we’ve had this summer gave the cauliflower a purplish blush.
  • Mini Red Bell Peppers
  • Northern Delight Tomatoes — these are small 2″ round tasy tomatoes.
  • More cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini — Don’t forget that chickens love overgrown summer squash. I cut them into chunks right there in their yard for them. We are too close to our neighbors to let our chickens run wherever so they have a large fenced yard and coop.

I have a gardener’s apron that ties around my waist. I have these things in my apron pockets that I never go into my garden without and which makes my time there easier and more efficient:

  1. Sharp-pointed Garden Shears
  2. Twine
  3. Plant Labels
  4. Permanent Marker
  5. Gloves

For suppers past week:

  • Sliced Cucumber, Grilled Yellow Squash (Olive Oil & Herbs), Grilled Chicken Breast, Pasta, Fresh Green Beans
  • Cheesy Eggs with Bacon Burritoes with peppers and onion
  • Matt’s Green Bean Casserole
  • Homemade Pizzas with blanched Yellow Squash, Mini Red Bell Peppers, Green Pepper, Onions, Sliced Olives, Mushrooms and Pepperonis

What came from the garden or farm for the above foods:

  • Cucumber
  • Yellow Squash & Zucchini
  • Herbs- Basil, Oregano, Parsley, French Thyme
  • Red & Green Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Onion
  • Eggs

Matt’s Green Bean Casserole

2 Large Handfuls Green Beans, trimmed

1 Can Cream of Potato Soup

1 Onion, sliced and caramelized

3 slices Bacon cooked crispy and crumbled

Fresh Basil & Oregano

1 tsp. Sea Salt

Throw all ingredients together in casserole dish, cover and back at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or so, until bubbly. Even the 12 year-old wolfed this down. Delicious!

It looks like the unknown chickens from the Hatchery are all roosters!

July 30, 2010 Strawberry Margueritas

July 30, 2010

Supper last night:

  • Vegetable and Bean Minestrone from 500 Best Healthy Recipes. Recipe found by daughter Sarah. From garden: potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions, celery, basil. Delicious. 500 Best Healthy Recipes

Supper Tonight:

  • Strawberry Margueritas made with frozen OG strawberries from the garden
  • Little Caeser’s Pizza! Yes. My neck hurts. I couldn’t make homemade pizza tonight.


  • 2 Very large bundles of Aroma and Sweet Basil. Basil was washed and then hung upside down to dry. I keep the bundles together with rubber bands and store the bundle in a paper bag, with holes cut out, and hang this.
  • A handful of Gusto Hot and Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1/2 gallon of Bush Beans
  • 2 large Zucchini and 3 large Yellow Squash

My chiropractor is getting a bag of vegetables tomorrow, the Hot Peppers were especially picked for him. He usually plants a garden but just couldn’t this year. Dr Kyle saved me on Memorial Day from the worse pain ever when I threw some of my ribs out.

Jen’s Strawberry Margeuritas:

  • 4 oz Strawberry Marguerita Mix. My favorite is Mr & Mrs T’s.
  • 2 oz. Bacardi Rum
  • 1/2 to 1 cup frozen strawberries

Put the Marguerita Mix liquid in the blender first, then the rum, then the frozen strawberries on top. Blend until smooth. No ice is needed. This makes one serving.

Margueritas take the edge off the anxiety that comes when your economic future is unclear after your economic assets have been devastated through no fault of your own, you just happen to be living in the here & now and your small business is struggling to survive after being successful before that economic crash that was no fault of your own.

July 28, 2010 Eating out of the Garden

July 28, 2010

We are trying to live out “Eat Local” and especially, “Eat out of our Garden”. Inspired by the economic crash, desiring tasty vegetables and a healthy lifestyle and further reinforced by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

For lunch:

  • Sliced fresh cucumber 
  • Amy’s Vegan Zucchini Carrot Muffins from the recipe book Well Preserved by Joan Hassol Product Details

For supper last night:

  • Grilled chicken with grilled Yum Yum Gold sweet peppers
  • Disappearing Zucchini Orzo from Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle — from the garden: zucchini, thyme, onion
  • Fresh Pole Beans

For supper tonight:

  • Vegetable Chili — from the garden: carrots, zucchini, onion, celery, homemade salsa from 09, green pepper
  • Bread Machine made Sourdough Bread

I can’t use Hassol’s jam recipes as she uses sugar in abundance. We are happy with the Sure-Jell Reduced Sugar Jam recipes from the direction sheet that comes right inside the pectin box. The muffins are delicious though, but only the adults like them thus far. The Disappearing Zucchini Orzo did not go over well and won’t be cooked again.


  • 2 gallon bags of Renegade Bush Bean from just two 4′ rows
  • 1 gallon bag of Hurricane Bush Bean from two 4′ rows
  • Another gallon bag of Malibu Pole Bean
  • Another 1/2 gallon bag of Sunset Pole Bean
  • One large Tigress Zucchini
  • 4 Yellow Crookneck Squash

All beans are to be blanched and laid on cookie baking sheets then bagged in Ziploc Freezer Bags and stored in freezer.

While picking bush beans I found four Monarch Butterfly caterpillars eating my Dill. Farmer Bob and I carefully carried them over to the Milkweed Plant I have left growing in the garden. I do need the Dill to make pickles and to make the most scrumptious Old English-style fried fish in winter.

The Gate to the Garden

 The Monarda or Bee Balm growing on the outside of the garden fence has been a constant buzz of action this summer. Without bees, there is no pollination. Yes, I overhead water. Same as rain falls. I water my garden between 4pm and 6pm in the evening, cooling plants down while not wasting water during a day of hot sun.

A Monarch Caterpillar ?


Hyssop on left and Peppers on right

 Pyrethrum is growing in the aisle between the beds above. You can also see some of my bush beans in the forefront and my pea bed in the rear where the trellis is. Pyrethrum repels bugs and Hyssop attracts bees.


Painted Mountain Corn is growing in the rear amongst the winter squash. This rear wall of fence is where the woodchuck burrowed under this spring. He would come into my garden and only dig up and eat my zucchini and yellow squash seeds. He bothered nothing else. I had to lay flat stones along the fence after burying some upright alongside of it. Farmer Bob also put down some chicken wire against the dirt, weighed down with stones. No harm on our farm.

Tomatoes !!

I grew about 35 tomatoe plants from seed started in mid-March and look how big they are. I have never grown tomato plants this large. I planted them too closely together because usually my tomato plants are one third this size. In front of the tomatoes is a Yellow Crookneck Squash, and Baby Bear Pumpkins. In the rear corner, opposite the chicken coop, is Tansy I started from seed in ’09. My Tansy grew to 8′ tall this year and I’ve had to mostly cut it down. The best thing I did for myself was lay weed barrier fabric down and cut out holes for the plants and seeds to grow in.

Our Small Farm Update

July 26, 2010

I have always wanted a farm, since I was a very young child. Every year, me and Farmer Bob expand our small farm. This year we have an additional small corn field with pumpkins growing at the edges to keep the raccoons out. We did not prepare the soil well enough and the corn and pumpkins have needed alot of fertilizer and we cannot keep the weeds down. The field is aprox. 60 feet by 35 feet. Lesson learned.

My main garden is truly beautiful this summer. Pole beans have been in for a couple of weeks. I am especially pleased with the Malibu Pole Bean. Bush beans need harvesting tomorrow and more yellow squash is in. I left the garden alone for a couple of days and so today, the chickens feasted on overgrown yellow crookneck squash.

For supper tonight, fresh veggie tray with early carrots (thinned out from main crop), Diva cucumber sliced, early Tango celery stalks. Fresh green beans — Sunset and Malibu Pole. Lettuce for our hamburger and pickles from last season.

Planted my fall crop of broccoli and cabbage after pulling the Candy Onion crop from its bed. Not a fantastic crop of onions — raised bed lacking in adequate depth I think. Planted fall crop of Premium Shelling Peas.

Expanded our turkey brood to 22 turkeys this year. Narragansett turkeys. We will harvest so many, sell so many, and keep some to breed and raise a new flock. When we received our shipment of young turkeys this May, many many were dead in the shipping box. This was especially upsetting and we won’t use this hatchery again. When they shipped our replacements, they also included seven chicks of unknown variety. We opened up our old coop and fenced the yard and now we have seven chickens of unknown variety and unknown sex.

Still did not get a blueberry crop. We have done something wrong to our blueberry plants and they no longer fruit. Looks like we need to cut them down and start again. Not a good strawberry year either.

I have picked off more slugs and snails and thrown them to the chickens than I care to ever remember.

Update on Nancy McLane Ralston

July 17, 2010

We did find a direct female descendant and she was kind enough to complete Female DNA testing through Family Tree DNA. To our surprise, the results came up to be entirely European. Haplogroup K. Predominantly Northern Irish and Scottish. This means Nancy’s mother and her mother and her mother, none of the female line was American Indian.

I think the answers are in file boxes in Pennsylvania. Nancy was purported to be an orphan. Now she could not have been in the Carlisle Indian School as she was born about 1814 and the school began in 1879 when Nancy was about 65 years old. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t adopted from another area though, and having a white mother possibly made her more readily adopted by a white couple.  McLane may be her adopted family’s surname.

Further DNA testing on other cousins has come up with Shawnee Indian through the Sinkey family and Cherokee Indian through the Green family.

Nancy’s son Millen Ralston married Eliza Sinkey and the Shawnee blood and the Green’s Cherokee blood (according only to testing) come to me this way. Eliza Sinkey’s parents were Matthew Sinkey and Nancy Huston. Nancy Huston’s parents were Andrew Huston and Elizabeth Green. Many many cousins have purported that Andrew Huston was American Indian and left Iowa in his elder years to return to his Shawnee family in Ohio. Andrew died after 1840 and was born circa 1776. We have not pin pointed where in the line the Shawnee blood entered the Sinkey family.

My cousin Dennis Butt maintains a fabulous site on the Sinkey-Huston-Green families:

Millen himself had a mixed-blood mother in Nancy McLane and a mixed-blood father in John Ralston Jr.

Effigy by Theresa Danley

May 19, 2010

My friend Theresa Danley has a new e-book out!!  She is having a blog party on the 25th from 4pm to 7pm eastern time and is giving away three books. Go to her website and click on “My Blog”.

A serial killer is on the loose, depositing his victims’ hearts amid the Toltec ruins of central Mexico. Meanwhile, a priceless Mesoamerican artifact is stolen from the University of Utah, sweeping archaeologists Anthony Peet and Lori Dewson on a desperate recovery mission south of the border. Accompanied by a reluctant colleague, an enthusiastic young journalist and a Yaqui woman in mourning, the team must decipher clues hidden within the Aztec sunstone, mystical Toltec Pyramids and astronomical calendar rounds to find the priceless effigy of Quetzalcoatl. They suddenly find themselves in a race against the coming solar eclipse, all the while dodging a corrupt Mexican police force still on the hunt for the sadistic murderer – a killer who’s chosen one of them for his next human sacrifice.


Native Americans in Children’s Literature

May 17, 2010


Native Americans in Children’s Literature


Jennifer Porter

Just over a year ago, my then fifth grade homeschooled daughter said to me, in the midst of reading historical fiction aloud with her, “I am sick and tired of these books about the so-called terrible Indians when it was the white people who stole their land. Aren’t there any books told by the Indians?”

I answered, “I don’t know. But you’re right, these books have not told the truth.” And we talked about how our ancestors were both the Europeans that came to America and stole the land and also the Native Americans that fought back against the invasion. I promised to find her books that would honor our American Indian ancestors, and by telling the truth, also honor our European ancestors.

After reading countless books and researching this issue, I was left with some conclusions. One, there is a plethora of offensive children’s books about Native Americans and two, it is an enormous undertaking to write about Native Americans. And it seems lately, that there is an opening in our culture to begin an earnest discussion about the history of the American Indian.  For years I have been researching the tribes my American Indian ancestors came from, and it is possible now through advanced DNA testing to get some answers. It has become popular to find our ancestors. There are genealogy shows about celebrities on television and there are popular websites devoted to family history, such as

Recently, PBS ran a series of American history shows from the perspective and viewpoint of the American Indian. And last October, President Obama declared November 2009 as Native American Heritage Month. Native American Heritage Month has come off and on to our country since 1990 and has its own website:

President Obama wrote in his declaration, “During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.”

Our society needs children’s books about the American Indians. Books about what happened in the past, biographies of American Indians, and all the ways American Indians contribute now.

But the last thing I think any children’s author would want is to have their story listed as a book that is not recommended and is deemed harmful to the well-being of children, including American Indian children. According to a 2008 article on the Poverty & Race Research Council site, there are today in these United States, 560 federally recognized American Indian tribes, approximately four million people, and 42% of these American Indians are under the age of nineteen. These numbers do not include what must be in the tens of thousands, people such as myself of Native American descent but raised within another culture and not belonging to a tribe.

The Oyate organization defines itself, according to their website (, as “a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed honestly, and so that all people will know our stories belong to us.” Oyate conducts critical evaluations of books and curricula that contain “Indian themes” and it also conducts workshops, has a reference library and distributes materials, especially that written by Native people. Oyate is the Dakota word for ‘people’, says the website. Oyate maintains a list of not recommended children’s books.

Eight of the twenty-eight worst books on Oyate’s books to avoid list were published in 2005 and after. Among the authors on the list of twenty-eight books: Janet Heller, Ann Rinaldi, Cynthia Rylant and Kathy Jo Wargin. Among the titles: I Am Apache, Touching Spirit Bear, and D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet.

Debbie Reese, tribally enrolled in the Nambe Pueblo and a professor in the American Indian Studies program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, writes the blog American Indians in Children’s Literature ( It is a riveting and compelling blog in which Ms. Reese unabashedly addresses the racism against American Indians in the children’s literature being published today. In recent emails discussing my look at a WIP by an author with a published book on Oyate’s list to avoid, Ms. Reese wrote: “…until people are willing to wrestle with the issues Native people deal with, I don’t think it is helpful to have the traditional stories at all. Those stories let people FEEL like they’re DOING something, LEARNING something about us, but those stories let them ‘love from afar’ without responsibility, without action.”

There are certain things I’ve come to believe must be done before attempting to write or illustrate a piece of children’s literature that re-tells a Native American tale or is about Native Americans or has within it Native American characters. Within American Indian tales are images, symbols, figures, themes, amongst others held sacred to the American Indian and if we are ignorant of the particular tribe’s beliefs and customs, we are going to desecrate something sacred by using it in our work. I do not consider it a worthy idea whatsoever for a non-Native to invent their own American Indian tale based upon a conglomeration and picking apart of other tales the author has read.

 The telling of a story in the Native American culture can have spiritual power and significance. This is a very important concept for the rest of us to really understand.

  1. We must ask permission to use the Native tale from the nation, clan, family, or individual that owns the tale. Even if the tale was previously published, for that author may not have asked permission. Many Native American tales are held sacred and while other cultures re-use and re-tell stories and folk tales to our heart’s content – it is not okay to view Native tales as being up for grabs. Contact the tribe and ask for direction on the usage of the tale that inspires you before you write. Most tribes have websites. If the tribe doesn’t, you will just have to work harder at this. Then honor the guidance and advice that you are given. Be respectful.
  2. Be accurate in every way possible. Be historically accurate. Be accurate about customs, traditions, and beliefs. Be careful not to declare that all of a tribe has been wiped off the face of the earth, when they are alive and well in these United States. Be careful not to speak about American Indians as if they no longer exist. Research using direct sources, including Native American ones. Ask for guidance and direction from the tribe you are writing about. Be accurate in your illustrations. What does the tribe say about the events or historical figure of which you want to write?
  3. Do not lump all Native Americans together and create a generic Native American. Native Americans are members of tribes and each tribe is unique. Tribal identity is important to American Indians and we must respect this. We need to be specific and concrete in identifying the tribe(s) we write and/or illustrate about. Make your Native American character authentic, a character that rings true. Let’s not portray American Indians in a derogatory manner as primitive, savage, or ignorant nor should we romanticize the American Indian. Make sure your dialogue reflects how your American Indian character would actually speak.
  4. Read the children’s books on Oyate’s lists of recommended books and books to avoid. Read Debbie Reese’s blog and Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog (  and her website ( Smith especially has pages of good and useful information for writers. Read a stack of children’s books by Joseph Bruchac, Louise Erdrich and Cynthia Leitich Smith to understand how writing about American Indians is done the right way. Bruchac almost always includes further information in his books, including historical and modern day information on American Indians and historical figures and the kinds of research he conducted.

     The American Indian has long suffered and we should not be adding to their trials and tribulations with our books. Let’s make a decision to be purposeful and thoughtful and intentionally non-offensive to American Indians and to those of Native American descent. After all, it is the 21st century.


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