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Friday, March 04 2016
Vermicomposting - Worm Bins for Soil Health

Three years ago I learned about a place called "Spark Park", where dog poop is digested either underground or above ground to create methane.  The methane is then used to light a lamp post or in some cases converted to electricity and used to power entire dog parks.  This led me to thinking about alternative ways to use dog poop or other waste materials to generate something valuable while keeping the environment clean.  There are a number of doggie-do-digesters available online.  Most tend towards using enzymes available at your local hardware store, allowing them to degrade, and then flushing them through holes in the bottom of a container buried in the ground.  Other methods used worms to compost the dog waste.  I think that will work nicely on a small scale, but what about pet resorts, rescues, and shelters?

For two years I have worked with worm compost bins, learnnig as I go what to do and what not to do.  I started off with a seeries of four stackable bins.  I drilled holes in the bottoms of the top three bins, through the lids on the bin beneath them.  This allows worms to move up and down between the bins, and water to seep down and collect in the lowest bin.  The entire system remains contained in the four bins, but the worms and moisture can move between bins.  In the first year, I put all my dog waste into the bottom two bins, bedding material in the third bin, and food scraps from the kitchen in the top bin.  I didn't have enough room for all the dog poop or the kitchen scraps.  The good news is it worked really well and the worms digested everything that went into the bins, creating really dark compost with the worm-castings.

Some of the tricks I learned along the way are; worms really like shredded paper, dog poop worms are not the same as veggie worms, and don't let your bins get top heavy.  Mixing about 1/2 shredded paper in with your food waste seems to make for happy worms.  The red-wiggler worms are the best for eating up dog waste.  Be careful not to overfill the top bins on a stackable composter, or the sides of the bottom bins will cave in.  The bins can only be about half full in the middle two, and the top one is really only for food scraps that the worms will come up and eat every night.  There are lots of places to buy red wigglers (the poop worms), online.  Here is one that I like, Uncle Jim's Worm Farm.   You can also lay out cardboard or old carpet, and then pull it back after a rain and find tons of worms to stock your bins yourself.  These will be earthworms though, and earthworms don't eat poo.

Other websites about worm composting say to only use the compost on flowers, not food, because there is no way to ensure that all of the pet waste goes through the worms and becomes safe worm-castings.  The general consensus also seems to be not to compost cat waste.  Some sites say not to compost human, cat, or dog waste because carnivores have parasites and bacteria that can be deadly.  It seems more testing and research into worm composting as an environmental solution to feces is required.  So, I will continue to do my part, experimenting in my backyard and encouraging my more open minded clients to try out a worm-composting solution for their pet waste.

Posted by: Stella Dreamwalker AT 09:56 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 01 2016
Preppy Cook

I waited to post this until I knew whether or not all these luscious, crisp veggies turned to mush waiting to be appreciated, or if we managed to prepare them in a way that overcame any aversion to "salad".  We succeeded!  To be honest, this was the first time a whole container of fresh spinach has been used in our home without any of it going to waste.  Being willing and able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables is one thing; being able to prepare them takes time.  Make time for what matters, and chop up carrots, cucumbers, red onion, and celery.  Use small snack bags and portion out eight to twelve leaves per bag from the bulk organic spinach (that grows in your garden or the garden of someone you know).  Divide the red onion, carrots, cucumber, and celery with just a couple pieces of each in each bag.  Do the same with fruits; wash, prep, and divide into bags.  Again with the mixed nuts; make a bag of chopped whole unsalted and raw seeds and nuts.  We made a couple different size portions, and our own vegan ranch/balsalmic/olive oil blend for dressing.  The girls were happy as can be all week each having her our own portions of mix and match to take fresh fruits and veggetables to lunch each day.  It is well worth the time and effort to prep your veggies ahead of time for the whole week.

Posted by: Stella Dreamwalker AT 12:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, February 07 2016
Signs and Symbols

We recognize hert-shaped clouds and boxes,

arrows for movement, peacocks, and foxes.

Some symbols root deeper, subconscious, prime.

Social agreements as ancient as time.

I see them in the clouds, feel music in the breeze

I hear more than octaves, I cipher with trees!

Creation is life-force and loving energy patterns

Look for the signs around you, and see what truly matters.

Posted by: Stella Dreamwalker AT 04:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 05 2016
Rabbit Food

Has anyone every refused to eat something you prepared because it was "rabbit food"?  If so, I hope it made you smile and think "more for me", because those silly wabbits have some seriously healthy diets.  Here is one of the best ever Vegan recipee's I have ever had the privledge of tasting, outside of the "raw desert" category.  I was introduced to this recipee in the garden of Bastyr University before the new dormatories went in right over the place where I first spoke with a madrona tree.  We had to purchase avocadoes, lemons and onions, but the Kale came right out of the garden.  I bought the Kale from the store this time, as even our cold weather crops are huddled under dry leaves right now.  This is a simple base recipe to add to as you like with liquid aminos, sea salt, spices, olives or pickles, any variety of nuts, unless you are actually making it for a rabbit.

Dice two bunches of Kale super thin.  This takes awhile, so sing "tiny dicer" to the tune of "Tiny Dancer".

Squeeze all the innards of one or two lemons all over the diced Kale and double check that you and everyone helping has washed their hands because you have to actually get into this recipe.

Squish and Mush and Mash the lemon juice all over the diced up Kale.  Let the children do it.  It's green and it's fresh, and it's good clean fun.

Add diced onion, and don't cry about it.  See; if you read the entire recipe before you started, you wouldn't have to wash your hands again.

Squish and Mush and Mash the avocado into the Kale so that it is a creamy sticky flavorfull mess. Note: Some Rabbits are sensitive to Avocado and other vegetables.  Know your rabbit and do not feed any new food without researching it for yourself.  Some research shows avocados are toxic to rabbits, while some people's rabbits were raised eating them and are just fine.  I say stick to green leafies for bunnies.

Licking the green mess off each other's fingers is way more fun than washing it off into the compost or worm bin, and totally okay as long as you wash your hands before you touch the bowl again, or the counter.  Rinsing it off into the worm bin is more fun if you have children to teach about composting and the circle of life.

That's it other than any finishing touches you want to add.  Keep a stock of raw nuts, seeds, and fruits, and let everyone pick like a buffet.

Rabbits like buffets.  Visit this site for a list of things rabbits can and can't eat; and the next time someone calls your salad rabbit food, point out all the things in your salad that are toxic to Rabbits.

Posted by: Stella Dreamwalker AT 08:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 03 2016
National Carrot Cake day 2016

Every mom needs a cupboard full of herbal honeys.  Honey is one of the best mediums for extracting nutritive, balancing, and restorative root herbs.  Amazing and delicious deserts disguise the powerful root medicine in our kitchen.

I'm pretty partial to Phoenix Herb Company because I know their suppliers are quality.  Kansas City is lucky to have this valuable resource for home based herbal practices.

There's nothing to it.  Buy the root powders and stir in 1/2 powders 1/2 honey.  This becomes the "wet ingredients" in just about any recipe you can think of from Carrot Cake to Bananna Bread.  Work the dry ingredients the same as in any recipe, with less sugar/brown sugar than is called for because of the honey.  If ginger is used as one of the root herbs, you will have to add a bit more flour to the recipe because the honey thins out a lot when it extracts the "hot" ginger constituents.

I put too much of the batter into one 9" round cake pan and it boiled all over the oven, almost caught fire, and otherwise created a pseudo catastrophe in my kitchen today, but somehow it still came out perfect.  I sliced the crispy burnt bubbley top off of the cake while still in the pan, and turned the cake upside down.  Voila, perfection.

I decided to ice both the cake, and the....what do I call this crispy carrot gingerbread flat thing?  Well, the easiest way I know to make homemade icing is to blend powdered sugar, butter, beets, lemon juice, and a dash of apple cider vinegar in the quisinart.

I iced the crispy carrot ginger snap cookies (cut into pie wedges), and the somehow perfect Carrot Cake.  Mmmmhhh  Roots!!!

Posted by: Stella Dreamwalker AT 09:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 02 2015
Bark and Roots

My first ever client surprised me once being genuinely confused that I had the audacity to use the guest restroom instead of the one for "the help". She was surprised by my ignorance of a custom or rule that perhaps I should have known.  In her world "the help" knows certain house rules. I am admittedly more at home in the field.  She never said those things, of course she wouldn't. I was in no position to do anything other than apologize to her and the housekeeper who now had to clean the guest bathroom a second time. I could see in her eyes that she wasn't being petty or malicious.  Frugal, perhaps?  She cared for my welbeing, in her way, but was operating out of an extremely divisive class where servants simply do not use first class restrooms. I mean, that is where the expensive soaps and toilet paper that doesn't disentigrate goes. She was and is a very kind and generous woman, but we come from completely different worlds and I did not know her ways. I was in no position to decline her gracious offer to use separate indoor plumbing, and receive $40/day for walking her dogs twice per day (while she was home). She had no way of knowing, until I told her years later, but she rescued me and my cubs like some people do dogs. 

I am Stella Dreamwalker, and it is 2016.  For nine years, I have been the owner of this pet sitting service.  I am an herbalista, an urban shaman, a farmer who speaks with the animals and the plants, an intuitive psichi-creative daughter of MA, servant of the almighty creator, a re-love-utionary poet.  I am a survivor.  I am a warrior of truth and I am of Sound Mind with a Body of Light! I am working to create a loving garden under which rivers flow!

I live and work and love and grow and build with people who are very honest and forthcoming about the realities of racism and classism in America and the world. It isn't easy to talk or write about, but you can not genuinely have compassion for animals without compassion for humans. The truth is that every human from every walk of life has an arangement of customs, beliefs, patterns, and stories that they have been told from their youth.  We have to find ways of honoring one another's truths, values, and beliefs, while still rooting out that which is unbalanced, and incorrect.  Some of each of our beliefs are destructive lies that damage our growth as individuals, families, and as the whole of humanity.  When we see it and don't talk about it, or say it's wrong, but don't look for the root, we move away from civility, compassion, justice, and humanity and towards something worse than being an animal, barbarism.

Peace is of the utmost importance, and restoration of our environment.  I seek to teach my daughters to be world stewards of Peace by giving them the building blocks of more than one language.  The fundamentals of Hebrew, Amharic, Arabic, and even some Chinese characters.  These ancient Alph-Bets and the Math of how they resonate in cycles are tools that can and must be used to wage peace just as they have been used to wage war.  Teaching compassion through caring for plants and animals is also key to our survival.  Animal handling is a skill, that along with education and entrepreneurship provide a means to create dreams.  This company is my dream job, sharing my gifts and skills to provide opportunities for family and friends. 

I am expanding in 2016, into the travel business as well as the pet sitting business.  My goal is to earn well, travel to the temples and sacred sites and root places where people have created civilization, and to visit with and listen to people who are actively working to stop wars over things like water, land, and places and times to pray.

I have too much heart and soul to sit quietly while my relatives are endangered.  That goes for the humans, wolves, eagles, bears, and all my relations.

I am Stella Dreamwalker, and this is my blog, Bark and Roots.

Posted by: Stella Dreamwalker AT 01:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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