Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm not dead...(and now I have a farm! And a menagerie!)

Has it really been six months since an update? Yeesh. I'm horrible. But in between protest rallies in Pittsburgh, shaving my head, random midnight trips to New Orleans, and a LOT of painting, my blogging life kind of fell by the wayside. For all three of them.

Actually, I'm doing great, because I am so much closer to a working farm now than I was six months ago. Me and R. are renting a 15 acre rural property with fields, a singlewide trailer (an old thing, but endearingly bohemian; we've fixed the place up nice!) and a two story barn.

We missed fall planting, but now spring is almost here (!!!) and the ground fever is starting to catch me again. Hopefully we won't have any more 12 degree weather like we have over the last few weeks though, since it killed off all of our winter plantings. (RIP amaranth.) R. has already designed an irrigation system for the side field, as well as set up a diagram for every seedling soon to be on the place. It's nice to know organized people if you aren't one yourself.

I placed my first major order of seeds today to round out the ones we had left over from last year. Here's the drafted lineup:

Mosaico Hybrid (cherry - multicolored)
Sweetie (cherry - red)
Costoluto Genovese (heirloom beefsteak - red)
Pineapple (heirloom beefsteak - multicolored)
Agro (paste – red)
Orange Paruche (cherry – orange)
Razzleberry (heirloom – pink)
Cheerokee (heirloom – purple)
Cupid (grape – red)
Kellogg’s Breakfast (heirloom beefsteak – orange)

Cucino (mini cucumbers)
Moctezuma (regular)
Sweet Success (extra large)

Flavorburst (citrus-flavored bell)
Holy Mole (black mole)
Habanero (hot)
Jalapeno (hot)
Sweet Pickle (pickling peppers)
Sweet Rainbow Mix (bell – mixed colors)
Jolly Giallo (bell – yellow)
Ancho (hot)
Sangria (ornamental)
Redskin (red bell – bush habit)
Mohawk (yellow bell – bush habit)
Mariachi (hot)

Sangria (red flesh, high sugar)
Everglade (“bowling ball” watermelon, red flesh)
Moons & Stars (heirloom)
Sweet Orange (orange flesh)

Hale’s Best

Zefa Fino (fennel)
Garlic chives
Lemon Grass
Berggarten (sage)
Chocolate (peppermint)
Kentucky Colonel (spearmint)
Prostrate Rosemary
English Thyme
Zaatar Marjoram
Salad Burnet
Summer Savory

Elephant Garlic
Green Onion
Mild Sweetie Mix (white, yellow, Walla Walla)

Big Moon (extra large, orange)
Sweet Lightning (white and orange striped)
Autumn Gold (medium, orange)

Van Gogh Mix
Velvet Queen

Okra (Silver Queen)
Strawberry Spinach
Corkscrew Vines (for fence)
Nasturtium (Princess of India)

Edible Flowers
German Chamomile
Lemon Balm
St. John’s Wort
Sweet Woodruff
Pot Marigold (Citrus Smoothies)
Dianthus (pink)
Day Lilies (yellow)
Hollyhocks (Peaches N’ Dreams)
Pansy (Ultima Morpho)

All these plants are on top of the seeds we already have stockpiled in the harvest box. WHEW. But you know what? We finally have room to plant all this stuff (plus the 70% of last year's seeds that didn't have a place in my tiny two bedroom apartment in the city).

The farm - which we call Two Monks - is absolutely gorgeous, and at $250 a month in rent, the price certainly couldn't be better. I fell into the property when a coworker had to move very suddenly. The landowner only wants someone living there to pay the property taxes off and keep the land mowed down.

The property itself really is a dream - there's a bamboo thicket, miles of woods to the backside of the place, acres of fields in the front, and there's even a waterfall!

There's also a few new furry additions as well:

- Nimrod and Mata Hari, a very cute brother/sister duo and our new resident barncats. Nimrod thinks he is a dog and acts accordingly. This big ginger tabby is already quite fat and isn't afraid of anything (despite the expression on his face in this picture).

Mata Hari (named for the French spy in WWI) is sweet but a little more skittish and aloof. She's still a lovely girl though. Look at those eyes!

- Rusher, a rescued stray fox terrier mix that I found trapped on the median of the interstate, two seconds after almost being ran over by a truck. I'm a sucker, what can I say? After a few unsuccessful attempts to rehome this little darling, I'm pretty sure she's around for the long haul:

Ollie, my Yorkshire terrier, is absolutely in love with her:

- A more unusual addition is Naga, the ball python:

All and all, I'm supremely happy to finally be living in the country. Nothing makes me happier than to get up the morning, put on a pot of coffee, and then sit on the front porch and cuddle my barncats while the sun rises over the fields and the waterfall in the forest behind Two Monks.

It's magical.

Now if I only had a REAL camera so I could take decent pictures of the place!

I officially have a farm....wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Letter To The Senators (American Clean Energy and Security Act)

[Note: This is a letter I sent to the senators of Alabama (as well as Iowa Senator Harkin) in opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act...]

Senator Shelby/Sessions,

I am an environmentalist who stands in opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and I am writing you today to urge you to do the same.

I am not in opposition to this bill because I don't believe in climate change - I think the destruction of our environment has been very heavily documented. I stand against it because this bill will cause trillions of dollars in new American debt while reaping minimum benefits climatically for the environmental movement.

It will also be used as a bureaucratic tool for the further overextension of federal authority. The bill is plainly a choice between federal tyranny and liberty, and the circumstances of its legislation are suspicious at best. This law will institute some kind of governmental control over literally every aspect of the lives of the American people; it is overreaching at best and subversively authoritarian at worst.

Instead, I would urge you to stand with Representative Forbes of Virginia and support the New Manhattan Project, which instead of setting up an environmental police/inspection force, would fund a rewards system for innovating new advances in green technology. This will benefit both the industrial innovators of our great nation as well as the American populace as a whole.

Please take my words into consideration when placing your vote. We need a green future, but eco-police are not the way to do it.

The future of American liberty depends on you.

Kellye Parish

Friday, June 26, 2009

TGIF baby! (Update)

Big plans this weekend, and I am so excited it's Friday, it's a little ridiculous...

Tomorrow me and R. are going to set up our compost bin, set up a recycling center, hit up another local nursery to try and find some edible flowers/vegetables-we-don't-have, and we're also driving up Monte Sano to go do some serious Thoreau-type camping with nothing but some munchies, notebooks, and possibly a sketchbook or two. At some point we also have to make a guest appearance at my company picnic tomorrow evening, but given the breadth of things we plan to do, we probably won't be staying for long.

We got a bunch of transplants last weekend - the lettuce and spinach and onions are officially gone, replaced by peppers of all stripes (jalapenos, chilies, cayenne, cowhorns), tomatoes (cherry, regular), and cucumber. The latter we planted around the stub of what used to be Monster Rose Bush(tm), heroically cut down (AGAIN) last weekend by R. Our little plantlings were shocky and wilted the first couple of days (didn't help that we had a heat wave) but a dose of sugar water and some TLC brought them around just fine.

We now have no TV, no cable, no video games, no media center to speak of. All of our media comes from the Internet, and most of it at this point is news and current events. Our living room has been taken over by art supplies and its walls are covered with quotes which inspire us (ex. "My country is the world and my religion is to do good" ~ Thomas Paine). A large part of our vegetables now come from either the garden or the farmer's market - we are almost quasi-locavores. We have cut our electricity consumption back to a minimum, using an electric light ONLY in the room we currently occupy (if that).

I personally am learning to enjoy the tranquility of silence again; I believe the lack of television has been one of my favorite transitions so far - I definitely have missed it a LOT less than I anticipated. Instead of listening to the boob tube quacking away from the moment we get up, we sit in the quiet and drink black coffee, smoke cigarettes, make small talk about politics/whatever, or play with the dog. We do dishes by hand (even though we technically have a dishwasher) and listen to Alicia Keyes - not on the honking huge three-CD changing stereo we had in the living room before, but instead on a radio/CD the size of a small melon. Despite cranking up our thermostat to 80, the apartment is dark, cool, and spacious.

I'm lovin' it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Monster rose bush.

So there is a lot of new stuff going on in the garden. R. went out and pulled up all the bolted lettuce which wasn't edible anymore and had definitely seed-podded out. I also harvested the entire crop of onions, and we've been cooking with those for several days. We've also pulled up the spinach. The kale, cabbage, and leeks are still going strong and making numerous guest appearances in our cuisine, particularly the kale and cabbage which are great for sauteing and stir fries with a little bit of chili sesame oil. Yum yum.

This Saturday is definitely going to be plant-oriented. We plan to go to the farmer's market first thing to find some local heirloom transplants to replace the ones we're pulling up - I'm thinking cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and a variety of other similarly overambitious projects. We definitely want to go organic and heirloom, since almost all seeds and transplants found in commercial plant farms/nurseries are ultimately supplied by Monsanto Agriculture, a company which has monopolized the agricultural field and is a major perpetrator of corporate terrorism on a global scale. Not only that, they are genetically manipulating plants to NOT yield seeds after producing. That means when the plant dies, instead of being able to save your seed and restart your garden again that way, you have no choice but to go out and by more genetically manipulated Monsanto seeds. So we say boo to that.

Not only does Monsanto genetically manipulate your fruits and vegetables, it is also responsible for the unnatural (and potentially dangerous) hormones that are being introduced to your dairy and meat products.

If you want to learn more about why Monsanto is an ethically bust, moneygrubbing corporation of politically-corrupt scumbags, go here:

We will also be tackling the giant rose bush in the center of our vegetable garden. I hate this frickin' thing. I've already cut it down to the ground twice and each time it just comes back bigger and meaner. But no more. No longer will I have a 4'x4' plot of ground in our garden taken up by a black spot ridden eyesore like this rose bush. So this weekend it's definitely got to go.

I'm giving it away.

So last night R. and I made an executive decision to cancel cable for our apartment, put the television into storage (temporarily, until we can bear to part with it on a permanent basis), and give away hundreds of dollars worth of video game consoles, games, and accessories. I ultimately decided to give all these games away to the children of my coworkers (including a $500 Playstation 3 that was definitely used a total of four times and dozens of new/vintage video games worth anywhere from $15 to $300 apiece).

Note: Yes, this includes Guitar Hero. *sob* < (j/k)

The reaction of my friends and colleagues this morning, when I told them about our plan, was unanimous dismay. How can I just give all this stuff away? Don't I want to sell it and make some of my money back? Won't I miss having it available to use? Why don't I donate it to charity so I can at least put it down on my tax return?

Luckily, being Buddhist gets me a lot of rationality points as far as the throwing off material possessions kick goes. While people might be mildly curious when a Buddhist does a material purge, one of the most well-known facts about the religion is its emphasis on non-attachment. Which is interesting, given the sheer amount of useless crap I have on hand at any given moment.

Hence the decision to give it all away. has some really good reasons for why having a TV is a terrible idea. It rots your brain. It makes you fat. It makes your kids violent and stupid and obsessed with new expensive things. It keeps you inside on beautiful days when your butt should definitely be outside. And most of all, it keeps you from having the time to achieve your dreams or spend meaningful time with the people in your life that you care about.

Not to mention the fact that if you are a writer (as I am) then TV takes WAY too much time. Stephen King put it best when he said one of the most productive things you can do when you're trying to become a writer is to chuck your television out the nearest window.

Me and R. have several good ideas for how to spend the time we are going to be saving by getting rid of the TV. We'll relearn the virtues of silence and how to entertain ourselves instead of relying on "screen people" to do it for us. We're going to paint and draw and write and hike. We'll work on the garden, get more politically active, and travel. We'll study and do research, volunteer in the community, and play games. Contrary to popular belief, there are a LOT better things you can be doing than watching Grey's Anatomy.

This material purge is not just going to be limited to media either. Today on my lunch break we cleared the kitchen of all non-perishables except our canned goods, which are temporarily staying while we transition into a method of cooking which only involves fresh, locally produced foods. We are going to bake our own bread and can our own vegetables/fruits/etc. Hopefully a lot of these vegetables will be coming from our own organic garden, but anything we can't get there we plan to get through the farmer's markets and pick-your-own places. (Google Monsanto or genetically manipulated produce if you want to know why we are focusing so heavily on heirloom organic products. Agriculture is a scary place these days.)

If you think the world is heading in the wrong direction, one of the strongest things you can do as a consumer is take control of the things you are willing to make for yourself versus the things you are willing to buy. Pay attention. Turn off your television.

Wake up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The bohemian life.

So I finally got my roomie R. moved into the apartment this past Saturday, where we have hung out in easy Guitar Hero-jammin', acrylics-slingin' tranquility until he promptly turned around to fly back to Texas for family business. So the last few days I've been flying solo.

I just got paid today, so I am already deep into plans for environmentally friendly upgrades on the apartment. I really want a few flowers for the porch, new vegetable transplants for the garden, new aquarium plants, some organic pest control, recycling bins, a vermicompost, and maybe some hemp and beads for jewelry-making. I need to buy a desk so I can officially move my desktop into my bedroom, but I think I am going to hit up the Goodwill store and first before throwing my money at a corporation like Target or whatnot...


- We totally made a soup out of several ingredients in the garden (leeks, onions, cabbage, kale, and French tarragon with some egg, turkey burger, udon noodles, ramen noodles, and various Asian spices - I called it Kitchen Sink Chinese Soup) and it turned out absolutely great, with the exception that the udon noodles cooked a bit long and turned gummy. I was so proud to be able to eat something I'd grown myself!!!

- Working on a new painting for my goddaughter (finally). It should be done within the next couple of days. R. and I have been painting a lot, and it makes me SO happy to be creative on the regular again! It relieves sooooo much stress.

- Trying to get back on a writing (and gym!) schedule for next week.

Friday, May 22, 2009


It's been almost a month since I've blogged anything? That's redonkulous.

Well here's a quick garden update:
- 4 days of torrential rain killed almost all of my spinach. Boo.
- My lettuce bolted from a heat wave and is now inedible (but very cool looking); this was partially due to the fact that I didn't harvest early enough, but it happened while I was on vacation, so...ce la vie.
- The onions and leeks are officially ready for harvest. Must find onion recipes!!!
- I have been to New Orleans and Ft. Walton, Florida in the last few weeks.
- The broccoli bloomed. I didn't even know broccoli florets DID bloom, but I guess it's implicit in the name "floret"...learn something every day.
- Strawberries rotted from the rain.
- I don't know what the hell the brussels sprouts are doing, other than that they look absolutely nothing like brussels sprouts...

Also one major piece of news - instead of moving in with my folks when my apartment lease is up in June, I am taking in a roommate who is none other than the infamous java-slinging cynic pissipissi baobao, aka The Alabaman Barista. A kindred spirit and fellow artist-bohemian-warrior for humanity, he is pretty much the perfect fellow to kick my rear into gear on a LOT of my personal goals with regards to activism, autodidactism, etc...

To say I am excited that my delightfully strange best friend is coming to live with me would be a major understatement. We are both eccentric people, and our eccentricities are definitely amplified in each others' company because we are completely nonjudgmental of each other and have no problem being our random selves. It will be interesting to see exactly how weird we get in confinement (lol)...

Therefore, there will probably be a lot of odd social experimentation going on at the apartment in the coming months, herbalism and vermicomposting not the least of them (hopefully). I will try to keep a log of our bizarre adventures here particularly when they relate to permaculture, gardening, or any of that sort of thing.