Camp Safety

Some of my best memories are of times my father took my sister and me camping. We wouldn’t go far off the beaten path. In fact, our location of choice was the Gull Lake Camp Ground, just west of Brainerd International Raceway. (We could hear the big boys all day, even miles away).

The point I’m trying to make is that even though we weren’t exactly “roughing it.” We were only a short drive away from any population, restaurants, hospitals, or help. Yet, we always had the proper safety equipment close by and followed common sense camp rules.

I talked with Dave W. who takes his kids camping on a more frequent basis and he shared a few things and tips that he uses for safety at his campsite.

  • First Aid Kit – A well-stocked FAK should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain medicine, tweezers, safety pins, and an instruction manual. These are only the basic and you can fit yours out as full or bare as you like.
  • Insect Repellent – This is more of a long-term safety item. The fewer insect bites you have to deal with, the better. A good repellent keeps mosquitos and ticks away while you’re out in the wild. However, remember to check for ticks after your activities in the woods, and before bed. Those little guys can get anywhere.
  • A reliable source of water. – You can trek yours in, but that stuff is heavy! If you can’t bring yours in, you’ll have to rely on a local source. Make sure to boil any water you intend to drink for several minutes. A water filter is a good idea, as well.
  • Keeping your food safe – You’ll want plenty of ice for temperature sensitive foods like uncooked meats (yummy hotdogs!), and dairy products. You can also try canned, dried, or fresh veggies and fruits for your trip. The last thing you want is to get sick while out in nature.

Dave is also a volunteer firefighter at Pequot Lakes, and he tells me that taking care of your fire is one of the best ways to keep forest fires from happening. He recommends the following.

  • Use a fire ring or rocks around a campfire. This can be part of the fun of a new campsite, building the fire circle. If you can’t find any rocks, clear the area of combustible material (needles, leaves, etc.) five feet in all directions around your fire area.
  • The campfire itself should only be three feet or less in height. Keep it small, keep it manageable.
  • Keep water and a shovel nearby. Also, it’s good practice to never leave a fire unattended. Sparks can fly when you’re least expecting it.
  • When you’re done with your campfire, use the drown and stir method. Pour water on the coals and stir with a shovel or stick to make sure all embers are extinguished.

Wherever you decide to set up camp, you should be able to last the night with these few tips. If you have any ideas for camp safety, we would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!

 

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 11: Your Summer Appetizer 4

This is our most timely episode of Turtle Talks! We talk about upcoming events in our area. The Sustainable Farming Association has their hand in three upcoming community events.

  1. The 9th Harvest Dinner Saturday, August 25. Historically, the big draw of this event, of course, is the food. However, this year the guest speakers will be Gulf Coast fisherman. They’ll be speaking about the hypoxia zone taking place where they work and live. It should be a fun evening.
  2. Farm2Families is an event taking place on ALSO on Saturday, August 25. This event is meant to help connect communities with their local growers. Music, lectures, and delicious food await those who attend this event. It’s FREE to attend, but a dinner plate prepared by Chef Peter Lowe can be purchased for $15/plate.
  3. Minnesota Salsa Fest is a great day that brings together those that love salsa. Music, demonstrations, salsa contest, and even salsa flavored ice cream. Tickets are only $5 at the door. If you think your salsa has what it takes to win, you can enter your batch into the contest for $10. Simply fill out the form found on their site.

We also talk Porketta, and more specifically, Iron-range Porketta. Allison found a recipe that looks absolutely delicious.  Give it a shot and let us know how yours turned out.

 

Love Water Not Oil Riders Make a Stop on Campus

On Friday, August 3rd, the Honor the Earth Riders made a stop on their journey west to east, trailing where a proposed oil pipeline is scheduled to be laid. With much delicious food and lots of uproarious music, the group made their stop on campus for their third straight year. You can find out more on their site, http://www.honorearth.org.

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Honor the Earth is a group that brings awareness to the way water is used. They are currently dedicated to stopping any oil line going through their lands.

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Kerri, from the Celtic duo Sister Tree, takes a moment to tune her fiddle before playing.

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 10: Your Summer Appetizer 3

We love taking the time from planting, harvesting, weeding, and maintaining our garden and grounds to talk on camera. Sometimes, it’s a well-planned and methodical back and forth between speakers. Other times, like this episode, it’s a loosey-goosey and chaotic back and forth between speakers.

We discuss the current CSA shares, Colin gives parsley a try, we talk about the winter cover crops, and what we do with rabbits in our “rabbit-proof” garden. A real fun episode to make. Hope you enjoy.

Happy National Blueberry Month

The official Minnesota State Muffin is the blueberry muffin. Almost anyone who lives in the north star state can recite this fact. It’s simply because blueberries are awesome.

It’s true.

In fact, all the way back in 2003 (two years before YouTube, even!) the US Department of Agriculture declared that July would be the month of the blueberry. And, why not! These little guys pack tons of flavor in their tiny bodies. They’re also high in vitamins and nutrients a body needs. So, it’s not even that bad when you help yourself to a couple containers.

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Aren’t they beautiful?!

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Eating Healthy, Shopping Locally

Finding the time and money to eat healthy has been a problem ever since the microwave was invented. So, I’ve put together a short list of ways to make organic eating a habit. Also, there are several links of local resources where you can learn more about eating organically.

1) Buy from your local farmers market.

There are so many great deals at farmers markets. You can find local meats, cheeses, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and many other goodies in one place. The food is fresh and grown locally and you have direct access to the farmers where you can ask questions about how they grow their food. They usually start in may but the best selection becomes available as the growing season gets into full swing. Farmers markets usually last through September in this area. Plus, if you’re on EBT (SNAP/Food Stamps) many markets will accept them. The Lakes Area Growers Market in Brainerd, the Pine River Market Square in Pine River, and the Onamia Area Farmers Market are great places to get started locally.

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Eating healthy is easy when you’ve got delicious food to choose from.

2) Buy into a CSA.

A CSA is a community-supported agriculture program. Every week you will get a new box of fresh produce (often delivered directly to your door!) Variety is good. You’ll get so many different fruits and veggies that you never would normally purchase. I’ve even heard of CSA programs actually providing recipes and cookbooks with their produce in an effort to give the buyer an idea of how to prepare with the different produce. This is a great way to experiment with different varieties and eat produce that you wouldn’t be as used to. There are so many ways to choose which CSA you’d like to invest in, so go to Minnesota Grown to pare down what you want and where to sign up.

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 9: Your Summer Appetizer 2 (Agroforestry)

 

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This is the Garden Crew Podcast team. Not pictured: Colin M, who does whatever he can to keep his hands as clean as possible.

In this week’s episode, we talk about the different ways you can incorporate trees and woody shrubs into your garden or farm. This is called “Agroforestry,” and has five different methods to use.

  1. Alley Cropping
  2. Riparian Buffers
  3. Silvopasture
  4. Windbreaks
  5. Forest Farming

HDT is using two methods (alley cropping and forest farming) and will introduce a silvopasture method next year. You can read more about our attempts in Allison’s recap of her trip to the Agroforestry Institute, OR you can listen about it right here. 🙂

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 8: Your Summer Appetizer 1

With summer hitting full swing, the garden crew is working long hours outdoors. Keeping the garden functioning properly (not to mention filling CSA shares and many programs off the campus) requires a full time effort from everybody.

Therefore, we decided to change up the format of Turtle Talks just a bit. Instead of a short garden update at the beginning of the episode, we are going to dedicate the episodes to sharing what is going on in the garden.

We plan on keeping each episode 20 (ish) minutes, but will keep to what is happening in the garden.

We are calling these episodes “Summer Appetizers” as they will whet your appetite until we head back to the original podcast format at the beginning of fall, as the garden eventually gets put to bed.

So, we’re still planning on updating twice a month and bringing you information you can use, just at a more leisurely pace.

We hope you’re enjoying the summer!

Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 7: Compost & Soil Testing

In the last several episodes, we’ve talked the benefits of following the pillars of soil health. We’ve spread the soil-health Bible far and wide, and now it’s time to start growing.

In our latest episode, we discuss how to measure what your soil has in it. We discuss the “shovel-test” method and the chemical-test method, and once you learn what’s going on in your soil, how to add soil-amendments to maximize your soil’s growing power.

We also talk on the subject of compost, how it’s made, and how we apply it. Moreover, we go into how to make our compost tea. Now, this isn’t your English grand-marm’s tea. It’s a fluid based mixture seeped with our very own homemade compost.

Included is our weekly Garden Update, where Dave discusses moving towards (finally) a more warm season, and our very first WWOOFer. You can read more about Alayna here. Lots to listen to. Let’s get started!

 

For those that are interested in a more detailed “recipe” of compost, you can find a pretty good video below. They cover the necessary “ingredients” for a well-functioning compost pile.

Our First WWOOFer

We’d love to introduce you to our first WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF connects farms with those interested in learning more about them and their practices.

Hailing from the farming community of Winsted in central Minnesota, Alayna Karas has a first-person perspective of modern farming. Karas grew up learning the techniques her parents, and her parents’ parents (and THEIR parents) have been using for over one hundred years.

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Alayna stepped right into the planting season her first day.

Yet, despite living on a century farm, bucking tradition seems to be in Karas’ nature. As a child, all of her siblings were expected to do their share of chores. One of these chores, Karas shared, was to take a calf, nurture it to maturity, and then eventually butcher it. She laughed as she told me that she could never bring herself to take that last step.

“My parent’s just admitted that I wouldn’t do it,” Karas laughed. “I’m sure my cow is still alive and running around the farm.”

It seems that Karas has embraced the ability to see what works for her and what doesn’t, and she saw something in her community that wasn’t working.

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