Greg Calls Me His Pioneer Woman


Greg paid me a great compliment not long ago. He called me his ‘pioneer woman’.

Compost: I had been cleaning and hauling away rabbit droppings from under the hutches. The manure goes into my big compost bins but I always leave a few of berries in the buckets to which I add water to make a manure tea. This then goes to my potted plants as an easy-to-absorb fertilizer. (Apparently I’m old tech compared to Sting) Still it serves my purpose. My goal is to use or reuse as much as I can.acorns

I’m a long way from having zero waste, but I’m trying. I need to be more diligent about emptying the vacuum cleaner bucket into the compost bin. I’ve probably thrown away enough dirt to plant a garden.

Maria Oaken-Seeder: The other day I was cleaning out one of my garden boxes. Over the winter it had been covered with leaves, but underneath them were all the acorns from a nearby oak. The long fingers you see in the bucket are the tap roots.

The acorns had sprouted in the warm, moist soil, some of them going down six inches or more. I dug them up, careful not to destroy the root. Then I went around our property and planted the seedlings wherever I thought a tree might be nice. I won’t be watering them so they’ll have to make it on their own, but even if only one of these seedlings make it, it’s an oak tree for a future generation.


supervisor Nana
Supervisor Nana checking out Greg’s handiwork.

Greg, boy genius:
Greg has been talking about alternative energy for years. This year, since the government is still giving tax breaks to those who buy alternative energy equipment, he decided to go all in. Greg has a good understanding about electricity, but he’s never attempted anything on the scale of powering a 2400 sq ft building.

From nothing more than pictures and a few specs, he designed an entire solar array. I asked questions as he built the thing and I’d like to think I offered some helpful suggestions on how best to mount it.

Even though we’re hale and hardy now, in the back of my mind I always try to consider what kind of health we’ll be in 10-15 years. What good is a great piece of equipment if we’ll be too old to maintain it as the years go by? I suggested creating a rail system so the entire array can be brought down from the roof so he could work on it if necessary.

I’m the idea person. I leave the mechanics to him. LOL!

We haven’t mounted it yet, but he’s already put it together and put it through its trials. It worked perfectly. I swear it felt like magic. The sun actually ran all the lights and every piece of equipment in his shop.

Home Grown Food Summit:
Fellow gardeners and closet homesteaders, check this out. This is a FREE event happening March 7-13th with over 30 speakers who will talk about composting, beekeeping, gardening, livestock and preserving food. I plan to be there.

This event is hosted by Marjory Wildcraft, the inspirational speaker I saw recently at the Mother Earth News Homestead Expo in Belton, TX. Click on the banner for more info.


In other news: I managed to redirect my old blog’s url to this blog. It’ll be an inconvenience to anyone Googling something I’d written about in the past, but I want to try it for a while until everyone’s used to coming here. If you have an old blog that you want to redirect to a new web site, email me and I’ll send you the link that gave me the instructions on how to do it. It was incredibly easy–some coding required.

Sad news: Samhain Publishing will be shutting down later this year due to declining sales. I was so sad to hear this; not because I have books there, but because they are one of the good guys. They’d always treated me with respect and professionalism. I have to wonder if indie publishing has knocked the wind out of most of the publishers out there. So many publishers have closed their doors or merged since the advent of self-publishing. I suppose it was inevitable.

Blog smileys: A big thank you to all of you who’ve stopped by, sent me emails, tweeted and shared my posts. You guys are the best! I thought this transition would’ve been tougher but it’s actually been the easiest part of this process. (Setting it up was the worst!) If things continue to go well this year, I might move my Book Cover Diva site to a WordPress platform later on.

So far, the only thing I haven’t figured out is why three of my regular commenters keep landing in the spam box. Somehow, Mike Keyton got in the second time without any intervention on my part, but we haven’t yet figured out what he did differently.

If your comment gets stuck in moderation, bear with me. I’ll find you. And if you have any ideas on why this is happening, let me know. There must be a common denominator somewhere.

So what’s going on in your neck of the woods? Do you recycle much? (I’d love to hear what you reuse.) Did you hear about Samhain Publishing?

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  1. Anne Gallagher

    I love the idea of solar energy, even had a guy look at my house, but he said my roof wasn’t big enough. I think he just didn’t want to get involved.

    And yes, I heard about Samhain. (No books there either). But I think the smaller publishers are getting hit hard by the Zon. Amazon has all the tricks of the trade up their sleeve and manipulating the system so that everyone will have to shop there eventually. It’s a shame.

    • Anne: If you have the space, the solar panels can be set on the ground. All you need is enough room and have them set at the right angle. Unless you live in a bread box, I can’t imagine a roof not being big enough to handle 6-12 panels.

      Check out Solar City (or their ilk) too. I don’t know what they charge but they’ve been advertising heavily in my area.

  2. I’m always impressed by your pioneer woman skills but I stand in awe of the things Greg does. My beloved spouse’s do-it-yourself projects tend to be… well, if he tried building a solar panel, we’d be sitting in the dark. lol

  3. I’m trying to remember what stuck out after reading this, Maria. First, when I get to your neck of the woods, I’ll examine my tea for suspicious looking pellets, second, I love the idea of your tree planting. I do much the same thing when nobodies watching. Sometimes saplings are in the wrong place, but better transplanting than destroying them. Third your inspirational solar panels – well not that inspirational in Wales perhaps 🙂 And fourthly your probably correct analysis of why Samhain maybe the first of many. Thanks too for the ‘Sting’ call out. Now to see whether this one gets through : )

  4. That is neat with the solar energy! Good for Greg for thinking of doing it and then both of you working somewhat on the project yourselves 🙂 Always interesting to read what you are doing to recycle or reuse, etc.


  5. Angela Brown

    You and hubby are both all kinds of awesomesauce for doing what you do with the homesteading. It would be interesting to see what all can be accomplished with the solar array. The only complaint I’ve heard about is having to deal with excessive bird poop. But I’m not too sure if that will be a real issue.

  6. The vacuum cleaner dirt! I never thought of putting it in the compost – what a dope I am. I promise to change that behavior in future.

    I’m in awe of the solar panels. That takes a lot of talent to put it together and actually connect it to the house. I can’t even imagine. We’re not very handy around here. We always have to hire people to do things.

  7. Some of the houses in our neighborhood have solar panels. It’s something we always thought about, but I don’t know if we’re situated the right way.

    We recycle, cans and cardboard mostly, plastic jugs and such. As for reusing, I reuse tissue and wrapping paper, not to mention gift bags. I don’t think I’ve bought any in years. And I just got a bunch of pretty paper from a friend who gave up scrapbooking, so I plan to use that until it gives out.

  8. Barbara: We’ve noticed a lot of homes with solar panels and wind turbines. I really wanted to start with the wind turbine but Greg wanted solar. And let’s face it, he was doing the work. 🙂

    re: recycle
    Good for you. I hate to see anything go to waste.

  9. Love the idea of replanting oak seedlings! Jenna, my Season Avatar in charge of plant magic, would be proud. (I have to fill out a Cover Art Questionnaire for her book, but expect it to receive it soon.)

    I’m trying to reduce waste by cutting down on packaging. For instance, I use soap bars instead of body wash, and I’m replacing shampoo and conditioner with bars too. Even if the packaging can be recycled, why create more plastic if you don’t have to?

  10. I love the idea of solar power. It’s becoming more common here in New Zealand now, and I think it is the way of the future. I had never thought of adding the vacuum cleaner contents to the compost. Excellent idea!

  11. I’m forever recycling things, but I’m also trying to come up with reusable alternatives for things we commonly throw away. I just have to go slowly with the family to get them on board. Switching hand towels for paper towels was a really positive move, so now I’m going to try washable cloth napkins versus the paper kind.

    The one big change I convinced the family to make this year was to give up water bottles entirely. As they’re convenient it’s tough, but I want to get as much disposable plastic out of our lives as possible.

    I thought Samhain’s announcement was sad but very classy. I think in a couple more years most if not all the small presses will be doing the same.

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