Friday, March 29, 2013

Urban Farmer

Well, it's starting to look like I will be an urban farmer.  I am still ironing out details, but I think I may have found more growing space.  It's closer than the community garden plot, which is nice. It's even on the way to the community garden plot, (we'll have to see if that's a good thing or not.)
I was relieved not to have to resort to flyers, or begging random strangers with sunny lawns. All I did was ask various friends that I knew had spots they were tired of mowing. I just explained that I was looking for more gardening space for organic veggies and waited to see if anyone would bite. One did! I will have to share the space with said friend's Mother-in-Law, who apparently was also interested in his sunny patch of lawn.  She was going to make him help her put it into garden, so I think he was relieved to be able to pass the project to me. :-D Hopefully she has realistic expectations about what we can grow. And hopefully our gardening styles mesh well. It almost sounds like she's a very inexperienced gardener, she sounded relieved that I would help site the garden and get it tilled. We'll see how things look next week when we go out to pound stakes and measure. But I'm thinking I'll get 200-300 feet squared of new growing space. For reference, I have roughly 300 ft^2 in my front yard I plant, plus various perennials and herbs grown in flower beds around the house. And I usually have ~300 ft^2 in the community garden I can plant. 
We had our first board meeting last week for the community garden. I re-read the rules, and was surprised to find that the ban on selling produce that I thought I remembered, was NOT there. I guess we just talked about it, but decided against it. So, that means I can use my community garden space for this endeavor.   This will hopefully use that space a little better.  I have been using it to put extras from my main plantings in the front yard.  (The last half of the seed packet in many cases, planted a week or so after the main planting.)  That works sometimes, but often the community garden spot is a bit too shady to grow the same types of things that I'm growing in the front lawn.  So, if I treat it as space for the market growing, I can focus on growing just the few crops that will really do well in that slightly shady space, and do staggered plantings of those crops and hopefully get some good results.
All added together I'm going to be farming less than 1/16th an acre. :-D But, it's a start.
I went and visited with one of the LeMars Market sellers yesterday evening.  Sue is originally from Korea and married an American guy from LeMars. She's been growing veggies in her backyard for the past 15 years and selling at the market. I think she probably grows on less than a 1/16th an acre, I've seen her backyard. I know she focuses on fewer veggies than I do, she really likes her cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers. I have noticed though that the past year or two she hasn't sold out of those items any week. She just has so much of those 3 things, that there's sadly not enough demand for. We were talking about who she thinks will be at the Market this year, and her thoughts mirrored my own, she thought it quite likely that she and one other gal would be the only ones there. She was excited to hear I was going to try to sell.  *whew*  Part of me was a little worried that I would be seen as an interloper, stealing customers with my hobby farming.  It was a relief that she was excited to have another potential seller.

The snow is finally melting. Rowen and I were outside Weds night planting spinach and lettuce in the larger cold frame. I'm not 100% satisfied with the new rebuilt spot for that frame, so I'm watching it closely this spring. I may have to rebuild it. I'm glad those seeds are out there, we're supposed to hit upper 50's today.
I have tomato and pepper seeds planted in cells on a heat mat inside. And the rest of my seeds on the kitchen table, eagerly awaiting their time in the garden.
I can't wait!

Monday, March 18, 2013


No, not me. Not hubby either.
Baby Logan is on a nursing strike. He's only 9 months old, so it's a little soon for all out weaning.  But, Saturday morning saw me getting a lot of chores done. I noticed that afternoon that he wasn't nursing, so I tried to slow down and offer him a couple of nursing sessions. Both consisted of him screaming bloody murder as soon as we, "assumed the position."  By Saturday evening I was in a bit of pain and resorting to pumping. The strike continued through Saturday night and Sunday and Sunday night. 
Monday dawned on a tired Mama and Papa and a hungry fussy baby.
I'm still pumping, trying to keep the milk flowing until he decides to nurse again. We think he has some tooth pain going on, so maybe if that wanes a bit he'll feel more like nursing. He is taking some milk by bottle. He's only got a few days though, and then my supply is going to go down, even with the pumping.  Mostly because pumping just isn't the same as a nursing baby. My breasts can certainly tell the difference.

In spite of the nursing drama, I did get some stuff done on Saturday. Namely the new shelving that Mom snagged for me went up in the craft den and immediately helped clear some of the overflow-clutter. I'm trying to get my fabric supplies tamed enough that we can shoe-horn in some homeschooling supplies or displays.  With Rowen about to turn 4, I am working on making him a board where we can put his chore list and learning schedule for each month. I'd like for that to hang someplace not high traffic.

Jon asked in my last post, "why homeschool?"

Well, the simple answer is because it works for us right now. It's all about the money flow.  Dave doesn't work outside of the home right now. If he was to try to find a job, it would need to pay substantially more than what it would cost to daycare a 9 month old and an almost-4-year old. Those are some hefty costs, and so far he has not found anything that meets that requirement, so he stays home. We certainly could put Rowen (the 4 year old) into some sort of local preschool. I'm sure there is something locally that wouldn't offend us. But, Dave is still going to be at home, because of Logan. So, it makes more sense for us to just homeschool the preschool stuff, and save ourselves the time/tuition money.

It's entirely within the realm of possibility that when Logan is ready for pre-school we'll be living somewhere that Dave could find work in his field and maybe at that point we can weigh the merits of sending the boys to public schooling so Dave can work. But, we're not in such a location right now, so the cheapest thing to do is keep everyone home.

I got some sewing projects done this weekend too, I'll try to get some pictures snapped for some sew and tell.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I Will Never Join The HSLDA

HSLDA - The Homeschool Legal Defense Association. In case you don't know the acronym in the title off the top of your head.

We've started, just barely, on homeschooling preschool with our soon-to-be 4 year old. Right now it's a light mix of felt shapes on the felt "learning board" I made for him, connect the dots counting books, puzzles and reading books to him. Preschool.... *sniff* my baby's growing up. 

Anyway, there's always the question, "how are WE going to homeschool?" There are so many different ways to do it. Unschooling, Waldorf inspired, box curriculum based, online curriculum based, bible based, etc. For those of you who have read more than one post on this blog, you won't be surprised to hear that the bible won't enter our curriculum until we get to religious studies or mythology units. I'd like us to do unit based homeschooling, tying in all the basics (reading/writing/rithmatic) into whatever unit we're studying that month. I'm not sure I've convinced hubby yet, I think he envisions some sort of boxed curriculum that helps him track and measure things. We'll probably try a bit of both, and maybe something else I can't even think of right now as we try to find what works for us and the boys.

There are a few things I know for sure though, and one of those is that we will NOT be joining up with HSLDA.  This group is a  hardline Christian organization. Complete with the unrestrained persecution complex that so many Christians espouse these days.  (As if the most populous religion in the country, with references to its deity on our money and in our pledge, could possibly be a persecuted people, give me a fucking break.) Complete also with the patriarchal views, the bigotry against gays and ties to people I actually would like to see persecuted. (I mean prosecuted... Freudian slip there.)

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has given workshops on how to stonewall social workers and used inflammatory scare tactics to work their member families into a tizzy, calling and badgering any politician, civil servant, or researcher who sees the need for change. They have helped create an environment where more kids will grow up like I did and they have held up “parental rights” as some golden calf, the be-all end-all. They apparently believe this so heavily and have had so little real opposition (I mean how much can children themselves fight this?), and they have been so litigious and nasty to the little bit of opposition that they have had, that for now they have won. They have successfully had more and more legislation to this effect passed and they are still doing so right now.
They haven’t done a very good job of sanitizing the stark reality of their position though, and that is that they apparently do not believe children have any rights except the right to be born.
In 2000, Christopher Klicka, the late longtime HSLDA director and homeschooling father of 7 even said “if children have rights, they could refuse to be home-schooled, plus it takes away parents’ rights to physically discipline their children.” Hmm, I wonder why any kid might not want the brand of homeschooling that they are selling?
While plenty homeschoolers refuse to have anything to do with the HSLDA, lots of conservative Christian homeschoolers still pay dues to them for their legal services and the HSLDA uses that money to further deregulate and expand into some even more suspect causes, like ensuring that the United States is the only other nation besides Somalia and South Sudan to have not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. HSLDA’s founder, Michael Farris, is even trying to get a “parental rights amendment” put into the U.S. constitution instead. HSLDA does a lot of fear mongering about a supposed future anti-Christian backlash, a coming persecution of dedicated homeschoolers, and fanning this fear keeps them in business. The fact is, no matter how many press releases they send out, this just isn’t happening. We also aren’t in the 70′s anymore, when pioneering homeschoolers sometimes got threatened with truancy prosecutions. The worry that we need this total deregulation to prevent social workers from snatching up homeschooled kids is not only unfounded, it is elevating a far-fetched dystopian threat while ignoring the dystopian reality that I and far too many other homeschooled children have actually lived.-HeatherJanes
The Home School Legal Defense Association reduces homeschooling freedoms by knowingly disseminating inaccurate information, an example being the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It contained dreaded phrases like, "the rights of children" and "equal treatment of men and women." If there's anything conservative Christions fear more than those phrases, it would have to contain a mention of LGBT peoples as human and worthy of respect. Another view point that HSLDA stridently opposes. I don't agree with their premise that equal rights for gays and lesbians would be a blow against anyone's homeschooling rights. This organization whips its members into a fearful frenzy at every opportunity, then uses their membership monies to fight political fights against a wide range of non-homeschooling related causes.  See aforementioned LGBT rights and women's reproductive rights.

All the while, HSLDA ignores the actual problems present in the homeschooling community.  HeatherJanes' story is one of the many you can find online as a whole generation of children reach adulthood and freedom and are telling the sordid truth about their conservative Christian "homeschooling" experiences. HeatherJanes was the only one of her 6 or 7 siblings to learn to read. I've read of girls getting far less schooling than their brothers, right now that's completely legal, if incredibly sad for those girls. Stories of abuse being hid by keeping the children at home where there are no required reporters.

So, that begs the question, will we join ANY homeschool association? Possibly. We may join up with the local school district's homeschool association if they have one. We may try to join up with a local parent-organized homeschool group.  We may find however that all the options local to us are heavily geared towards and populated by conservative Christians. And if that is the case, we may just avoid the hassle and hate and heathen comments and do our own thing to our own beat. There are of course online communities for non-christian homeschoolers.
Heathen Homeschoolers - was supposed to be back up and running last fall, but has not yet come back. *cross my fingers*
Secular Homeschooling has a magazine.  There used to be a couple of blogs I followed, but they got attacked by rabid Christians and no longer feel comfortable blogging. So, I'll keep looking. We'll find us a community.

An organization that is truly representative of a broad spectrum of homeschoolers:

* Has a governing body freely elected by the members
* Requires no statement of faith for officers, employees, lobbyists, members, or as a condition of service
* Has a board of directors with a diverse make up, not only one type of homeschooler
* Holds elections that are open, free and democratic
* Surveys members for their opinions
* Takes action based on members' opinions
* Remains neutral on non-homeschooling issues

HSLDA Embodies None of These.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Oh well.

I had great hopes for the catholic church.  The pope resigned! "Hooray!" I thought, the absurdity is finally going to end! He'll disband the papacy, turn the large, LARGE bank accounts over to charities to distribute to those the church has hurt or abused. Ordinary catholics can search their conscience and find a new place to send their tithes, perhaps some organization that doesn't worsen the AIDs crises in Africa by preaching against condoms.  Perhaps some charity that doesn't treat women and children like second class citizens or convenient sexual release objects.
But, no. It was not to be. The oldest criminal organization in the world has instead elected a new leader and will continue their reign of idiotic magic rituals, child abuse, women hating, and wealth accumulation.
Oh well.