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At times we have to choose between the path that is conventional and the path that is not. In today's world that once worn path that our great grandparents traveled is so overgrown and forgotten that it barely exists. Our goal is to reforge that forgotten path and make it new again.

The Family Eggers

The Family Eggers

Monday, September 30, 2013

Compost is for the worms

As most of you know we are avid gardeners.  However, we move locations every two or three years.  It seems to be every time we get a garden almost to where we like it, it is time to move on.  However, one thing we are sure of, we leave our properties with much more fertile soil than when we moved onto them. 
Notice the layers.  The dirt at the bottom is nearly top grade compost, while the raw material on top is all of ourrecent additions.

About 1/2 emptied out.

After a little over a year of composting we have a nice little pile of grade-A dirt to show for it.  Most of the compost gurus state that you need to turn and aerate your compost every 4-6 weeks and carefully monitor it to have a precise ratio of green and brown inputs.  This precision would be great if I had ambition and patience to do such things.  However, I do not have that kind of patience.  What I have done is collect the best composting components I can find.  I have been collecting coffee grounds from the cafeteria and 3 different coffee stations at my office for over a year.  I have also been collecting egg shells,banana peels and apple cores from coworkers who probably think I am off my rocker.  Last fall we collected enough fallen leaves to fill up our rather large bin twice.  This combined with our kitchen scraps and some biochar (more on this later) have led to quite a haul of quality compost.  Despite lack of aeration, our compost pile seems to do its thing quite quickly.  If we fill up our bin to overfull status until it heaped over the top with dried leaves, weeds and coffee grounds; within a week it will down nearly a foot.  This indicates that the raw inputs are composting quite quickly.  Though admittedly, some of it may simply be packing down as well.  On 29 SEP I emptied out the finished component (and mostly finished component) from the bin.  To my amazement we had an extremely large population of earthworms helping out the process.  If you read our previous post "We have worms" you know that we also maintain a small worm bin for vermicomposting.  This past spring I seeded the compost bin with a handful of red wigglers.  From the looks of it, the initial population has increased by 10 fold or more since their introduction into the compost bin.  Earthworms are amazing at converting raw vegetable matter into dirt and are probably a large part of the reason we don't have to work too hard at getting our compost perfect....the worms are doing it for us.  So there you have it a complete post about dirt.  I hope you enjoy.
The final result with the finished and nearly finished compost in the pile.  Inside the bin the compost was quite compacted.  After removing it and putting it into a pile it is quite light and "airy" which gives the impression that more came out than was ever in.

Goodbye to a family member

On Saturday 28 SEP 2013 the Eggers' family lost one of our own.  Ferris passed away in the morning after we discovered he was bleeding internally-likely due to a ruptured spleen.  He lost his energy and drive very suddenly, and from a basic physical we had a pretty bad feeling of what was going on.  Radiographs showed a mass in the area of the spleen.  Though we elected not to perform a necropsy, he likely had a hemangiosarcoma (a cancer normally found in the spleen and heart).  It has been a difficult weekend and we are still coming to terms with a seemingly very empty house.  Ferris filled our hearts with joy and love for over 11 years and had moved with us all over the world.  He was truly a canine of the world having lived in Iowa, Germany, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas and Pennsylvania.  He was one of the two dogs that Marie and Mackenson first met when arriving into our home.  Ferris' loss has been especially difficult for the kids.  Though he is now gone, our very fond memories of him continue.  He touched a lot of hearts outside of his immediate family also, and for all of you who knew him we grieve with you. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wild Rice & Zucchini

What's for dinner?

That question has, on occasion, caused me a mini panic-attack.  Then the analytical part of my brain takes control and tells the right side to stop being such a drama queen.

Our zucchini surprised us this year with three late squash that remained hidden until they were of monstrous size.  I prefer zucchini small, cut up for salad, not Andre the Giant sized.

Naturally the question, ” what's for dinner?” popped up in my head right around the time, ” what to do with the giant zucchini?” did.  Lefty was on the task.  We had a new bag of Minnesota wild rice that Joe brought back from his trip to pick up furniture.
Here's what I came up with:

Wild rice & Zucchini


4 cups cooked wild rice
1 huge zucchini, middle removed, chopped
4 leaves fresh sage, diced
1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon veg soup base
handful cherry tomatoes
two handfuls dried hen of the woods mushrooms
5oz. cheese


-cook wild rice in crock pot
      --3 cups water, 1 cup rice
      --high for a few hours (until split open, soft and water is absorbed)

-with cooked wild rice add to crock pot zucchini, soup base/stock, sage, mushrooms, salt and a little water (if not using a liquid soup stock).
-cook on high a few hours
-when zucchini is soft add cheese and tomatoes
-when the cheese is melted it's ready!

This was great on it's own; it was almost a soup.  We had it as a side with pork chops/veg ”chicken” and salad.  The kids wanted seconds and couldn't wait for leftovers.  We had enough for two dinners for the four of us and lunch for Joe.  Fantastic!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Grandma's Furniture

Hello once again.  It has been a while since the Eggers were active on the blog.  We had a very busy summer and school has started once again.  Our latest project is restoring some wonderful oak furniture passed on to us by our late grandmother who had reportedly received it from her aunt.  If my math is correct that means these pieces have been in the family for 5 generations and our kids would be the 6th (assuming we pass it to them).  The pieces (a complete bedroom set) include a dresser, a smaller dresser / nightstand and a bed-frame with headboard and foot board.  I spent the 4 day Labor Day weekend driving from Pennsylvania to Minnesota to pick up a U-haul trailer and load these forgotten treasures and then drive back.  All of it was in fair to poor shape upon receipt....but with some elbow grease and determination it is slowly being restored to look nearly new.  So far we have completed the large dresser.  The process was as follows:

This is the start.  Notice the scuffs 
and the peeling varnish
1.  Remove all of the old hardware.
2.  Remove decorative beading to refinish separately.
3.  Strip off all of the old varnish with chemical stripper.
4.  Sanding -lots of sanding - to remove all of the scuffs and old stain
5.  More sanding.
6.  Still more sanding.
7.  Did I mention that we had to sand.
8.  Re-staining  with a light cherry.
9.  Two coats of shellac varnish.
10.  Replace the hardware with new.
All sanded and ready to stain
peeling varnish and water marks

Center drawer stained...notice the contrast

This piece is going in Marie's room at least initially.  She seems very pleased so far.

I think the results are nice.  As you can see from the pictures it looks nearly brand new and is well worth the effort.  A family heirloom that will hopefully last for 6 more generations.

The next piece will be the smaller dresser / nightstand followed by the bed so stay tuned and keep reading.  Also on the agenda are 4 wooden chairs to refinish also acquired from my late grandmother.