At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Invite a Hackberry to tea!

Hackberries are popular landscaping in Colorado, they are very hardy and pretty; they also attract numerous birds for their delicious berries.

It is a Cannabis, just like hops, hemp and marijuana. But unlike hops and marijuana, it is typically not used for recreational purposes.

The berries are used in jellies and wine making, as well as delicious fruits for your favorite cookie recipe. Use like raisins.

Its wood is used not only for superior tools (the wood bends far without breaking), but also for ceremonial fires for many native American tribes.

It’s leaves are used in traditional Korean tea. In Korea, a traditional tea is made from hackberry leaves, maple leaves, yellow catalpa leaves and daimyo oak called Gamro cha. Do try it!

As you collect your next meal, try giving a mind to tea: besides producing an enjoyable and often nutritious or medicinal drink, taking time for tea is a way of embracing the Japanese aesthetic of wabi so essential to the tea ceremony. Without all the fancy equipment of a tea ceremony (which you may not always have at tea time) you can practice wabi through an appreciation of quiet or sober refinement and subdued taste characterized by humility, restraint, simplicity, naturalism, profundity, imperfection, and asymmetry to emphasize the simplicity of unadorned objects and natural or architectural spaces, celebrating the mellow beauty that time and care impart to the material world. Wabi, a concept born of Zen Buddhism, shows us we can nourish body and soul at once.

Parks, fields, floodplains, fence rows, wastelands
Deciduous Tree
Full Size
33-82 ft
Warty, light gray
Twigs point every direction. Alternate, ovate, serrated, tips acuminate
Drupe, usually orange-brown, small, round, grow singly on a long pedicel
Similar Plants
Raw (spit out seed). Sweet and dry

Review of Thompson and Morgan’s sprouter

       Thompson and Morgan offer a sprouter that works very well. Available also through for about $12 plus shipping, the sprouter takes all the hard work and time out of sprouting. Seeds are soaked overnight in the bottom reservoir, and then, effortlessly, poured into one of the two shelves above it. Less than a quarter cup of water is needed twice per day, and is poured effortlessly through the top where it evenly drains through to both shelves evenly. The shelves inhibit mold and fungus, and allow free flowing air and light without drying out the seeds. If you enjoy sprouts, give it a try today!v

Using oregano against fungus and mold in sprouts

Sprouts are susceptible to fungus and mold because the same conditions excellent for germination are also excellent for fungus and mold. One easy way to avoid that is to use concentrated essential oil of oregano. Just four drops in a gallon of water will reduce the likelihood of fungus and mold. A slightly higher concentration will fight back an infection. The use of highly concentrated oregano can keep equipment clean or clean infected equipment.

Oregano is a natural way to reduce mold and fungus, and won’t introduce harmful chemicals to your diet as some synthetic chemical antifungals will. There is no more need for chlorine, ozone or bleach!

Oregano is affordable through the Maia Cooperative's TwoInTents CSA, which bulk-buys and bulk-ships to reduce costs, or is also available online through

Is a pork shortage inevitable?

A pork and bacon shortage is “inevitable,” according to the National Pig Association. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the National Pig Association in Britain recently released information in a press release about declining pig herds across the European Union. They also confirmed that the trend, “is being mirrored around the world.” Smaller herd sizes are thought to be a direct result of the high costs of feed, which was caused by a drought that devastated corn and soybean crops this year.

Upon the announcement of the news, denizens of Elbert County began to plan to expand their personal pig herds, and trade secrets on how to smoke and cure bacon and pork.

The National Pig Association believes that midway through next year the number of pigs slaughtered could fall 10 percent, and despite being a relatively small number, prices of European pork would double as a result.

In the U.S. the supply of pork was at a record high last month, at 580.8 million pounds. However, this figure was measured right around the time when farmers began scaling down their herds due to increased feeding prices

Smaller herd sizes are thought to be a direct result of the high costs of feed, which was caused by a drought that devastated corn and soybean crops this year. Smaller herds mean less pork, which will lead to higher prices.v

Turning the soil important to fertility

Turning the soil regularly is important to fertilization. Even without the addition of manure (green or animal), more than 16 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen can be mineralized in the soil from tillage by giving air to the microorganisms in the soil. Tillage also creates small pores that, in the morning, have a pressure differential to the atmosphere and condense water in the soil, helping along the microorganisms. These pores also insulate the soil against excessive cold or heat, and help establish better soil structure to moderate the water content of the soil from excessive dryness or moisture.

Gardeners and farmers will choose either to till aisles in the spring or in the autumn. Some gardeners and farmers choose to till in the spring because it reduces disturbances to the insects and arachnids and other garden helpers. Other gardeners and farmers till in the autumn BECAUSE it disturbs the insects and arachnids and other critters they believe are harmful. It is possible to till in the autumn or winter without disturbing the life of the garden very much if a “reservation” system is used, in which about 20% of the land area of the garden or farm is kept in near-wilderness condition for the insects and arachnids and other small creatures to find refuge.

Whether you till spring or autumn, tillage is the perfect time to integrate manure (if you have some) into what will become the base of the beds – right where the plant roots will be able to access it. The roots don’t eat the poop, of course, but do eat the fertilized soil that results when microorganisms eat the poop. The manure warms the beds through the microorganisms eating it, and reduces frost damage by increasing the saltiness of the soilv

Pumpkin seeds are "in" this holiday season

Pumpkin Seeds are IN this holiday season. For Christmas and New Years, pumpkin seeds help you stay healthy and provide a delicious, nutritious snack kids love. Cheaper than anywhere else, non-GMO, organic. Get them today with your order!

Spinach learns a new trick

Spinach is great when fresh in salads or on sandwiches, but have you tried using it as a steamed vegetable or in your lasagna? Mmm! To improve your favorite lasagna with spinach, layer (3-5 leaves thick) spinach between the pasta. But a real treat is to use fresh spring garlic and fresh spring spinach to make garlic bread. With 2-6 stalks of spring garlic (to taste) chop finely and add all but a few pinches to one-half cup of melted margarine or melted butter. If desired, salt the margarine or butter, and add your favorite chili powder or fresh basil. Or both. Then, spread about 1 tablespoon (to taste) of the spiced melted butter or margarine onto thick sliced home-made or fresh-made French bread. Cover the top of the bread with spinach, and put into the oven until the butter or margarine browns. Then, very importantly, HIDE THE FOOD FROM THE HUNGRY FAMILY MEMBERS WHO HAVE FOLLOWED THEIR NOSES TO THE KITCHEN IF YOU WANT TO EAT ANY.

Petri the amazing weeding goose

Petri works hard all day long, and never weeds the wrong plants. We’ve hired people who have picked crops instead of weeds on accident, but Petri never makes a mistake. He loves grass best.  Petri works hard all day long, and never weeds the wrong plants. We’ve hired people who have picked crops instead of weeds on accident, but Petri never makes a mistake. He loves grass best. 


Wildflower hunting!

Wildflower season is tremendous this year.  I saw a beautifully large wild mustard thriving on just what the rain brought.  The brilliant yellow flowers were too popular with the butterflies for me to pick.

        Picking flowers is not always the most fun you can have while flower hunting.  Sometimes the best fun is had in seeing who else appreciates the flowers. 

        Stand a little ways back with your binoculars and you’ll see some amazing Lepidoptera, as well as numerous flies of unusual and stunning colors and shapes.  It is important to remember that not all flies are as pesky as the house fly or the horse fly, and that they play as important a role in the pollination of flowers as bees or butterflies.

        I saw one fly land on this flower that was as fuzzy and yellow as a bumblebee, and was lucky enough to see a small jumping spider explore the heights only to climb back down disappointed. 

        Who will you see on your next flower adventure?  It is a great way to spend the afternoon, whether by yourself or with the kids.


Mac and Cheese and Greens

I am a vegetable farmer, but it is common knowledge I really don’t like salad.  People are very surprised to learn this… what else do you eat with your greens? 

Besides my famous soups, stir fries, caramelized greens, sandwiches and other kitchen creations, I especially enjoy lasagna.  A vegetable lasagna can’t be beat… 

Vegetables belong on the plate, they add amazing flavor to any dish.  But beginning cooks (and some long time cooks) have a rough time with them.  An easy and delicious way to start is by adding some greens into your macaroni and cheese. 

Even if you are used to making mac and cheese from a box (or if you’re like me and make it by melting cheese over noodles), consider adding some veggies to your meal.  You can steam and wilt the greens first, or add them in for some crunch.

To wilt the greens, first cut or shred the leaves into small pieces.  Then, adding just a tiny bit of water, put over the stove until they are limp.  At that point, they are ready to sit on the side while you cook your macaroni and cheese.  Before serving the mac and cheese, stir in the greens and… voila!  Eat it before anyone else does.


Try the lambsquarter!

Have you ever tried lambsquarter?  It is an American variety of European spinach, and is both sweeter and more nutritious than European spinach.  It is also now coming into season!  When cooking lambsquarter the easiest preparation is to simply steam the leaves and stems in a small amount of water until tender. The greens will cook very quickly and turn a dark green color as they shrink down during cooking. The cooked greens are delicious just as they are with no additional seasoning or flavoring necessary.

The young leaves and smaller stems can also be eaten raw in salads. Or you can experiment by substituting lambs quarter for spinach or chard in some of your favorite recipes.

Older plants have stems that are unappetizing, but it is usually harvested with the stem so that the delicate leaves will remain for the chef to pick themselves.  The stems of mature lambsquarter are not generally eaten, but professional chefs don’t throw them out: they are great when used in soup for stock.  Mmmm!


Cress beginning to sprout!

The cress is just beginning to sprout and that means that it won’t be much longer before the delicious and nutritious green is ready to eat.  The flavor and nutrition is similar to watercress, but in Colorado, watercress doesn’t grow very well and we must use other varieties.  Sometimes called upland cress, or dry cress, or garden cress, or nasturtium, these are more commonly raised as flowers for ornamentation by gardeners who don’t know that it’s a vegetable of the highest caliber, with something good for every organ in your body, packed with vitamins and minerals.


2012 Farm Bill Explained

2012 Farm Bill Explained


Yucca getting ready to bloom again!

The yucca is preparing to bloom again, meaning a delicious treat for wild harvesters and plenty of wholesome food for this year’s young herbivores and spring bees.  These pretty flowers are the state flower of New Mexico, but we can still enjoy them here in Colorado where the pretty pink and white puffs dot the hills after the first heavy rain. 

Got a mad cow?

If you have angry or violent animals, you might consider that their behavior is innate to their nature – the wild beast inside.  But, you might also consider what you can do against the wild behavior, and thereby from your understanding gain the insight that you, as their caretaker, have a lot of control over their behavior.

Many people have experience dealing with dogs and cats, and understand that these animals can be trained to behave in certain ways, even to poop outside instead of on the couch. 

Behavioral training means being friendly to your animals.  Pet them, talk to them (research indicates that even the stupidest members of the barnyard likely understand most of what you’re saying, or perhaps the gist of it), and train them to come, go home, and other things you need them to do. 

If you treat them as you would a dog or a cat, you will find that they behave like a dog or a cat, and understand then that what we love most about our canine and feline friends is our own doing: by loving animals, they love us in return.

The rancher will especially want to train animals – not only does this make work easier and quicker (if the animals do half the work, that’s less for you to do), but by being happier and calmer, they will produce more.  

Working with animals that love you and trust you is not only more pleasurable, but also more profitable.  As a rancher, you need to make sure that your animals not only have enough food and water and medicine and shelter, but also enough love and human care. 

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