Saturday, April 18, 2009

of rain and being "green"....

This wet morning I went with Hubs and 3rd Son to move the ewes and lambs to a fresh pasture. We took them up the road with Son driving before them, luring them to follow with the cake feeder (see the white box on the back of the truck?) and Hubs and I followed behind in the Ranger. Every now and then I jumped out to walk behind them to push them onward. This is fun for me. I like to walk, especially behind sheep. We deposited them through the gate into "green pastures" just like the Bible says shepherds do. It still looks brown, but underneath that old grass is new-growth green grass just waiting to be nibbled. They were so, so happy. How do I know? They ran through the gate and spread out and put their little heads down and began to eat and eat and eat.

The view through the Ranger window. I like it. It's not snowing, it's raining. It's warm, the snow is nearly melted away, and it feels like spring. I've even found the tips of my tulips, daffodils, and iris coming up.

And now onto "being green;" and I don't mean green as in green grass.
Just yesterday I met up with Only Daughter and we went to a nice little adoption party. We were discussing this-and-that with the guests and Only Daughter announced to a friend that her mother is "very green." She told about a little quiz she saw on Good Morning America that helped one to know how "green" she is. OD told me, "Mom, you weren't 'just green' but 'very green." I asked her how so, and she said that for instance, a person could be un-green by buying white, pre-sliced bread or you could be a little greener by buying whole wheat bread or VERY green by making your own bread. In that category, I was VERY green because I have been baking the family's bread from its establishment. I don't boast in that. For me, I do it for reasons of economy and good taste. Our family prefers the homebaked loaf to the store-bought loaf. Another test for green-ness was yogurt. If you were un-green, you would buy the flavored, sweetened yogurts, greener meant buying plain, organic, yogurt, and a VERY green person made her own homemade yogurt. Again, I win the VERY green honors, and again, it is a matter of economy and taste preference. The other green test was in cleaning products. The un-greeny would buy harsh, chemical-laden cleaning products, the greener person would buy the new non-toxic products you see popping up everywhere, and the VERY green housekeeper would make her own out of vinegar, baking soda, borax and such. Give me another knuckle pound for that! And once again, frugality and preference wins the points for me.

All this said, I am proud to wear the Green Sash over my shoulder, but I do not wear it because I am trying to be politically correct or save the planet one yogurt-making session at a time. I am simply living the way I've lived for a long, long while. Making-Do is one reason for my lifestyle. There are so many times living on a ranch, an hour's drive from the nearest grocery store, when I don't have the luxury of making a quick trip to the store for yogurt or for Mr. Clean so instead, I make do with what I have, and I always have milk and vinegar. Milk for the yogurt, vinegar for the mopping. I've learned to keep the most basic of all ingredients on hand in large quantities for just this reason.....Making Do. If you've got a 25 pound bag of flour and you run out of bread, you simply make-do and bake-your-own. When you run out of Windex while cleaning the bathroom, you make-do --pour out some vinegar, mix it with water in a quart spray bottle and you have instant window cleaner. After you realize that your substitutions work every bit as well (or better than) the brand name products, you begin to leave those items off your shopping list and save money in the process. Three tablespoons of vinegar is cheap when compared to a quart of Windex. In a time when the economy is challenging everybody's pocketbooks, this simple lifestyle just makes sense no matter what your political preference is.

Have you noticed though that most products considered "green" are much higher in price than their counterparts? Consider recycled toilet paper and paper towels with "Eco-friendly" stamped on them or the cleaning supplies marked "all natural ingredients." This makes me wonder if the whole "green earth thing" is about making money or about really getting people to be more conscientious about their choices. If a product is made out of something recycled, shouldn't it be less costly? My blue jeans quilts cost much, much less to produce than quilts made of new materials. I don't make jean quilts to save money or to be "green" but because my kids love them and request them. My homemade all-purpose cleaner costs pennies to make with all- natural ingredients so why does Dr. Bronner's or Method brands cost twice what the bottle of Ivory Liquid costs? I can buy a bar of Kirk's castile soap (all natural) for $1 at my grocery store and a bar of Dr. Bronner's is $5. What gives?

One new cleaning tool I'm singing the praises of is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or it's generic brother found on the shelf next to it) in your cleaning supplies aisle. This sponge is just amazing! If you've got textured appliances or bath tubs with scratches and stains or if your tile grout is looking poorly, grab a Magic Eraser and wet it with a little water and you'll be amazed at what it can do. I like to add a drop of liquid dishwashing soap to mine and I can get my tub and shower sparkling clean -- with no abrasives or harsh chemicals. My fiberglass tub had some blue stains in the bottom due to the many types of cleaners previously used on it. I really thought it was hopeless and accepted my blue bath tub ring until......magic eraser came along. Now I keep several of these sweet cleaning sponges around and hand them out to my kids to take home and try. A few more uses my family has found for the magic eraser are: cleaning dingy tennis shoes, getting out greasy-dirt from the creases in the hands, removing scuff marks from the floor and walls, cleaning the gunk from the sink drain plug, getting stains out of blue jeans, cleaning the oven door window -- just to name a few. For a very lengthy list of ways to use the magic eraser, click here. I can't wait to try it on my deck chairs this summer. Now to me, this is a very eco-friendly way to clean and it's cost effective too. The generic magic eraser costs about 50 cents per sponge.

I was going to tie this up with a little "How Green Are You?" quiz, but I didn't find any that I liked. They were all very political in nature so I decided against them. Instead, would you mind telling some of the practical ways that you are being Green? Perhaps you are like me --you are following in your mother's footsteps, you hate to spend money on cleaning supplies or expensive bread, or you 're broke and have to get by with what you have. Whatever your reason, I'd be interested to hear about how Green you are.... Un-green, Green Enough, Very Green.

Oh, one more interesting thing I heard on the radio yesterday.... did you know that vegetable gardening and the sale of veggie seeds is up 20% over last year? And more people than ever are raising chickens, even in the city! In fact, I just called my local feed store today to find out when the shipment of baby chicks is coming in. The lady said that there has been such a high volume of orders that the hatchery is WAY behind and we won't get our chicks, which were to be delivered in April, until June! I don't know if you'd call this a "green awakening" or an "economical awakening."


  1. Love the shot of the flock heading out to green pasture.

    I think we'd be classified as green - we've used non-toxic cleaners for many years mainly because 3ird son had asthma. But they are expensive. Now I'm ready to shift to vinegar.

    Thanks for the Magic Eraser (or no-name equivalent) recommendation. I'm going to add it to the shopping list.

    Rain is good - we had another form of precipitation this morning - I can't say the name of it - but it didn't last long :)And my tulips are halfway up despite the cool weather.

  2. I always love your hills and sheep pictures, Jody. You know that!

    What you said about being green and making do reminds me of this Peggy Noonan article that my husband e-mailed me (from work) yesterday:

    Never mind that it's New York-centric. I thought about you when I read it. You are so chic, Jody!

  3. Love following behind those sheep!

    About green...hmmm...well, does having everything spring green in my yard count? I'm personally not very. I'm never in style in anything.

    I make bread but we also buy whole wheat bread at the store. I buy awful chemicals to clean with and fertilize my roses with. I don't use cloth shopping bags.
    I don't like waste and we may have to ration water this summer which will surely refocus our use of it. We have recycle trash bins we use.

    So, I'm probably plain ol something else.
    Joyce (whose about to use spray paint on an old picture frame which may result in ozone pollution! :<) )

  4. Island Sparrow, I think it's a "good thing" to use non-toxic cleaners especially around children. I didn't always, in fact, my son nearly drank some Lime Away when he was a tot because it smelled like wintergreen lifesavers. Ugh. I've come around to the non-toxic with time. You WILL love the magic erasers. I do hope you will be getting the warmer temps and some liquid precipitation.

    Laura, Yes, I know you love my sheep and rolling prairie hills.

    I have never thought of myself as chic, but ok, if you insist. I guess if it's chic to be bland (as the article mentioned) then I'm chic as it gets! If the trend is moving toward plain and simple, then I'll lead the parade.

    By the way, what IS Mrs. Obama doing anyway? She's not looking bland enough to be using a garden rake and I honestly think she's got the wrong tool for the job, don't you? Ahem. Where's her plaid flannel shirt and straw hat?

    Plain Ol' Vanilla,
    Well, I think having a green yard and gardens sounds wonderfully GREEN to me. I'd love to have some of that green right now.

    You probably well know that I am far from a green purist. I'm only green where it makes sense and that is not a label that I attach to myself, but the new trendy label that's out there. "Back in the day" the label was likely "frugal."

    I love spray paint!


  5. Love the pictures in this post!

    I'm probably a bowl of mixed greens (har). I bake bread and cookies, but occasionally pick up store bread and Oreos (when they're on sale or when I'm just having a lazy week). I garden organically and shop with canvas bags.

    Cleaning-wise ... I've been trying to do better. I'm in a bind right now because the environmentally friendly toilet bowl cleaner I've been using is not doing the trick and something keeps growing at the waterline of the toilet. I'm not sure I can live with that. I use organic dishwashing liquid (expensive) and laundry detergent (ditto), but other cleaning products use are, well, less organic.

    I think for a lot of us, going green is going to be a process. I think the economy is definitely having an effect. Making Do is definitely cheaper than Running Out to the Store and Buying nine times out of ten.


  6. Angie and I joke all the time, we are not green, we are poor. By the way can I be pink ;-P xoxoxox Clarice

  7. You're so funny -- a big knuckle pounder to you! What a fun post.

    The whole "green" concept has been such a huge turn-off to me because of its over-politicization and as you said, money-grubbing advertisers. There's nothing new in any of it -- it's just the plain ol' common sense that our parents taught us about being frugal. But somehow, the goofballs have repackaged it all and are making money from it. Amazing!

    That being said, all the hype could work in my favor -- I'm really hoping the Nazis in my neighborhood will soon figure out how un-"green" their no-clothesline policy is.

    Anyway, congratulations to you. And I won't call you green. I'll call you smart!

  8. Well said Jody. I agree with you and Thimbleanna--it's just common sense.
    I must try the magic eraser ~ I've heard lots of good things about it.
    Have a great week,

  9. Dee from Tennessee

    Oh, that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser....well, it aptly named! Magic....I couldn't believe it.

    Love your blog!

  10. Frances (aka: Mixed Bag), please know that I am not as "green" as my daughter thinks. My family loves Oreos and I have to tell you that I've tried the borax soak & scrub for the toilet and it works pretty well, but it seems about the time I decide to clean it, someone needs to "go" and it doesn't get a good soaking. So....I revert to Clorox for the toilet swish. I know, I know, it kills all the good bacteria in the septic, also kills that algae in the toilet which I want gone.

    Storybook Woods, you're right, it's due to lack of funds that we're so green! (but I know you're really pink)

    Mary, thanks!

    Thimbleanna, you are so right. Common Sense should rule the day. I hope you can convince your subdivision to "get green" and allow clotheslines.

    Deb, you're gonna love that eraser.

    Dee in TN, the magic eraser is truly magical! Glad you stopped in.

    Thanks for your comments everybody.


  11. I am not sure if I am green..but I bake my own WW bread, well I bake most everything. Cook from scratch. And I love Vinegar to clean with.
    I like quilts made from old jeans...wonderful for picnics and rodeo's. :) And I love refurbishing old furniture.


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