Julie A Carda

HOME | Books | Bio

My Photo
Location: United States

Julie graduated from Creighton University with a major in dance and Theology and taught for several years at an inner-city school in Milwaukee. With a desire to expand her knowledge of the arts and spirituality, she attended St. John’s University in Collegeville and completed a Masters in Theology and Liturgical Studies. Over the years, her quest to merge diverse religious beliefs and practices through the commonalities of love and peaceful living, led her to travel, live, and study with shaman practitioners, herbal healers, Native American medicine women, Buddhist priests and other earth-based spiritual teachers. Through these experiences and experiences with global metaphysical teachings, she learned to honor the eternal source of love in all people.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Borage Working to Blossom

Young borage. I'm looking forward to the beautiful flowers. Right now, the bees are busy with the anise hyssop--flitting from blossom to blossom. Wait until they touch base on the these petals! I planted the borage as a nice midsummer green for my chickens. Naturally, they won't touch it when I toss it into their chicken run. Who would have figured? So the fine feathered birds get the great big very bitter turnips instead, while I on the other hand, will dry the borage leaves and use them in my winter teas.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Early Squash

Look what was hiding under a large leaf--a baby butternut squash. My spaghetti squash didn't germinate. I'd saved some seed from a squash a friend had given me.

Since I didn't know the history of the squash, I decided to let it surprise me. My guess is that it was a hybrid of some sort with sterile seed.

In any case, the butternut has set on seven fruit so far and the vines are spilling over into the yard. I'll have enough to can, freeze, and give away.

Plus, my lawn is slowly disappearing under the heavy foliage.

Hurray, hurray, hurray!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lazy Housewife

I'm still trying to figure out the name given to these heirloom seeds. They are a string-less green bean. The plants raced to the top of the pole, and then sent out tentacles. I've curved the tentacles downward and around but they are determined to aim for the sky.

I had my first picking of beans for dinner last night. Very tender. I noticed the effects of the Mexican bean beetle on the leaves. My goal this year is to allow nature to self-correct. That means I'm doing my best to keep the Neem packed away. I purposely companion planted to bring harmony to the garden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Turnips into Chicken Food

I have some mammoth purple turnips in my garden. They are a new organic seed variety I obtained through mail order. This week, I pulled up several and prepared them for dinner. I boiled them, mashed them with butter and served them with a dollop of sour cream. Most turnips I've eaten are very mild--not so these. Oh my! For whatever reason, they've taken on a bitter flavor. I couldn't eat them and consigned them to the compost.

After I harvested my peas this morning, I pulled up two of those very disappointing turnips and tossed them in to my jabbering chickens. When I returned this evening to pick eggs all of the turnips had been devoured. I love my chickens. Here I was feeling bad and wondering what to do with the turnip crop and I discover that I have another food source for another food source--full circle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pansy Faces

I couldn't resist taking this picture.
The pansy's all look like they have faces raised in expectation.
I'd say they expect the sun to rise,
the rain to quench their thirst,
and the moon to set a rhythm of growth.
Hmmm... Not unlike us humans.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rain Barrel Efficency

Some places in the Mid-West have had a lot of rain this summer. I use my barrel to help capture waste water and retain it on my property. The key is to remember to empty it as soon as the ground can hold the excess so that the barrel is ready to capture the next storm runoff. My overflow from the rain barrel runs into a garden where the water is held and allowed to slowly soak into the soil. Between the frequency of storms and the function of the rain barrel, I haven't had to use clean tap water on my garden this summer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tree of Love Nature Shrine

I went back to the tree of love today and built a little shrine at the base. I wonder if other people will place something. The natural arched niche at the base is somewhat sheltered. It really reminds me of an earth temple. The bell has a purifying sound. Lovely spot. Very peaceful.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tree of Love

Maybe there could be tree of love reminders in more places. Think about it. This one is on a beautiful neighborhood walking path. The little silver bell has a sound to charm the faeries.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Herb Guardian

The thyme has taken on the role of plant protector by becoming a beloved herb guardian against insects. I love how well the beets, turnips and tomatoes are doing interspersed with this herb. Every now and then, I take my garden scissors and give it a nip and tuck but I sort of like letting it run amok!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Search of Fennel

Since I took this photo two weeks ago, my fennel has doubled in size. I'm going to search for some interesting recipes. I love just chewing on the sweet, hollow stems but the root is calling. Open to ideas here...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Images of a Farm

What images does the term farm evoke for you? I'm amazed how many different ways people respond to this question. Most don't see an intimate relationship with the earth. They see hundreds of acres of industrialized row crops. The image I have of farm and the image I have of fond food memories are about one in the same. Above is a photo of the homestead my grandparents and great-grandparents farmed. While they were alive it was 120 acres of rotated organic grain crops, well-maintained wetlands, and free-range livestock. The shelter belt of trees, which actually enclosed the fields but isn't seen from this aerial shot, was added by the land conservation service sometime in the late 1930's. As an idealist and advocate of Kin Domains, I envision this in the future as an eco-village. I hold firm that the answer to feeding billions of people sustainably, responsibly, and reverently is there for those willing to change.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food: Not An Easy Choice

How do you make food choices? Do you consider long-term or short-term impacts, if any, when making food decisions?

In my previous post, I mentioned the book, Menu For The Future, published by the Northwest Earth Institute. These were the opening questions for the second session. Although it may initially look easy, I had to really think about how I'd respond if given just a few seconds.

I've always based my choices on obtaining real food, produced as close to home as possible, free of chemicals. I sort of work outward from this primary choice always considering the long and short term impacts on the environment and human health.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Food Memory, Fond Memory

I am reading through the textbook called Menu For The Future published by Northwest Earth Institute. Each section starts with a question meant to provide a grounding force to the content of the chapter. The first section question is to share a childhood memory of food.

I grew up in a large family. My grandparents homesteaded a property in South Dakota. As a child, I spent summer's there with several of my siblings. An innocent time in my memory. Shoes came off. Cotton shorts, home made printed mid-drift tops, hair either slicked into a ponytail or cut into pixie fashion lent a carefree air to our play. There wasn't air conditioning. The dank smelling earthen cellar lined with glass canning jars and stacks of fresh eggs, was the cherished work spot. We bathed on Saturday in preparation for Sunday using the same bath water several times. We washed our hair in the yard with metallic scented water dipped from rain barrels. And, naturally there was an outhouse with sticky flypaper curls the color of golden honey hanging from the ceiling and a strong lime odor wafting upward.

We played in a run down apple orchard where the implement graveyard rested in peace and we sat on rusted seats pretending to drive the Belgian work horses once present on the farm. The mulberry tree painted the bottoms of our feet and allowed us to stick a tart purple tongue out for proud display. Barn cats with their young curled around our naked toes then ran off in a teasing game of hide and seek. Cows grazed in the pasture. Stickle burrs were often pulled from our callused feet. Corn grew tall and concealed some strange creature my Czech grandmother called a nemolinkee. The fearful creature convinced even the most brave among us that a corn patch was no place to venture.

The wash house was the farm sauna where the pungent smell of round balls of laundry soap used to wash stains from collars announced cleanliness. If a breeze was present then the noon air announced the meal. Lots of chicken. Roasted or stewed, dumplings, sauerkraut, garden vegetables, cold fresh milk and man sized farm cookies made with skimmed cream then frosted with an egg and sugar glaze.

A quarter mile walk to the mailbox marked the mid-day event. We picked rocks from the gravel road as we meandered and pitched them into the field similar to how I might skip a stone on water. Some lucky child got to bounce along in a an old wooden wheelbarrow that either grandpa or an older sibling pushed. The front wheel was iron clad. No inflated pneumatic rubber tire to pad the bumps. Layers of flaking green paint revealed the numerous summers a grandchild had had the privilege of painting the favored toy.

Getting water for the chickens involved a large barrel and a tractor ride. The barrel was filled from a water pipe connected to the windmill. For a little person, the welded steel arms rising into the heavens was nothing less than a mammoth skeleton. An eerie creak and squeaking sound floated downward creating a cocooning vortex. Beneath the metal frame, the earth vibrated as the wind spun the fins and brought forth the coldest water imaginable.

As a child I was on that farm for chicken butchering, egg picking, cow milking, pig feeding, and hay baling. Undoubtedly, there was hard work involved for the adults on the farm. However, for me, one day melted into another, ending with the fireflies I could see from the second story bedroom window of the old farmhouse. We often took a pillow and lay beside the floor to ceiling open windows trying to snatch the tiniest bit of breeze to cool our warm skin before falling into a peaceful slumber.

So I have a long answer to a childhood memory of food. From these precious visits, we'd return with abundance. In our station wagon filled with children and one lucky barn kitten, my parents loaded dozens of eggs and galvanized wash tubs filled with the best locally produced German wieners, sausage, bacon, and chicken. Nicely packed in ice and covered in heavy rag rugs made by my grandmother, we transported the farm fresh food home to our freezer. For us, this was what was meant by eating local.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Slow Growth Blueberries

Year two on the blueberry transplants. I started with two, two year old plants and one three year old plant. All different varieties. I dug the holes and worked in peat prior to planting. Last fall, I put down a thick layer of pine straw collected from the trees in front of the house.
These plants get full sun from about 10am-7pm.

I thought I'd see much more height and width growth by now. They've had plenty of good rain and drainage seems adequate. Maybe they need a full three years before they really take off. I'll need to read up on the pattern. I know the soil is really tricky, too.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Raspberry Time

My raspberry patch has begun ripening. I picked about 1/2 pint yesterday and today. The poor things have been neglected though. I'd meant to put stakes at either end of the row and string a cord to keep them more upright and lend support. However, some tasks seem to get away from me when the weather spikes into the nineties.

I like to be outside. I like to garden. I like to watch my chickens. I like to sit under trees. I like to hike.

But...I don't like heat and humidity.

How do our southern folk do it? I guess it's all what we grow accustomed to, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Boom, Chick-a, Boom

I wondered if my Rhode Island Red ladies would be a bit shocky from the suburban Fourth of July fireworks next door to us. I'd planned on seeing a drop in egg production for a few days. Apparently, the booms didn't bother these chicks. They've each continued to lay an egg once a day since the stunning sky show. Maybe they thought it was just another storm with thunder and lightening but no rain.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Potato Experiment

These potatoes plants were sown on April 2nd. In February, I selected an organic red variety from the local health food store, let the eyes sprout, cut them apart, then shallow planted them in soil I'd prepared the previous year using the no-till technique. On top of the planted spuds, I added a thick layer of straw then covered the entire area with the fabric row cover I re-use each year.

Last week I dug three plants. Each had at least two fist sized potatoes and a few babies about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. I'm amazed at the bug and disease free leaves, healthy tubers, and the amount of potatoes growing in a shallow densely planted area. A friend mentioned that potatoes would grow in straw, too. Next year, another experiment!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chickens Keep on Giving

The chicken's have been re-positioned for the summer months to build me a new garden bed. As full grown layers, these Rhode Island Reds are doing a magnificent job tilling and fertilizing the space. During the month of June the weather has been in the high eighties and nineties, so I've had to keep ventilation going from both sides of the chicken house.

Ever since the raccoon attack last fall, I've been vigilant about locking them up at night. You can see that I've created a bit of a safety barrier in front of the rear entrance screen door. Yes, I a really determined raccoon could get past it and through my run too. However, instead of overly worrying, I've enlisted the aid of the nature divas and elementals to keep all in proper balance. A chicken's life in suburbia is all about balance of the land.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th!

In this part of the mid-west, we've experienced nine inches of rain above normal for June. Today is July 4th. The bucket is blue and the petunia is red. Pay no attention to the May garden behind since, at the moment, it looks nothing like the photo. As I write this I am enjoying the soothing sounds of an all day rain shower. I collected two inches of water in my rain gauge at mid-day. There will be no outdoor picnics or fireworks tonight, but I'll gather inside with friends to celebrate our nation and freedom. Whatever else, I and all humans have a primary freedom--choice--to claim and celebrate. Happy July 4th!