Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Upcycling, er, um, Augustructables!

I am a big fan of most things "cycling". Bicycling, motorcycling, recycling, and the list would go on if I could think of some more. I really like upcycling. If you can show me how to take a discarded piece of garbage and resurrect it into something functional, beautiful, or both, you have absolutely made my day and you have started the wheels of my brain doing burnouts and donuts and wheelies.

My list of favorites:
pallet-wood furniture
shipping container houses
grain silo houses
treadmills upcycled into wind generators
plastic barrels upcycled into lots of different things (vertical wind turbines, canoes, aguaponics equipment, rain barrels, composters, beehives, etc.)
old skateboards or bicycles upcycled into anything
glass bottles as building material

And the bad list:
toilets turned into planters

If you, too, are a fan of upcycling, then check out my favorite website,
Instructables is a place where lots of people share their ideas for upcycling, repairing, and upgrading.

My challenge for you, dear reader, is to find an Instructables project and tackle it in the month of August. We'll call it Augustructables! When you do, please share it by posting it in the comments.

Happy upcycling!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

That praire dog just said you're fat!

From the video

   If you have ever spent a little time hanging out with prairie dogs, you know they talk. And talk. And talk. One of the great pleasures of being a West Texan is being able to walk through a prairie dog town while they all chirp, bark, and occasionally even laugh at you. We used to walk our dog Fred (with a very tight hold on the leash) through Buddy Holly Park, and the prairie dogs would chatter up a storm at Fred. Fred was a smarter than average dog who had lived on his own in the wild for a while, and I always thought he knew what they were saying about him.
(This guy is smiling because he does not know what they're saying about the size of his butt.)

A recently published book adds credence to that idea. Apparently, the little chirpers have a pretty extensive vocabulary. Check out this video from Dr. Con Slobodchikoff ( a truly cool name) who demonstrates that the little guys are actually communicating things like size, color, species, and whether or not those shoes make your ankles look fat.!

And while you're out there researching the prairie dogs, be sure to watch for the burrowing owls. More on them later.

Now, go recycle something and have a great day!

Monday, July 29, 2013


   The latest infatuation for me is aquaponics. If you are not familiar with it, aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics (raising plants without soil) and aquaculture (fish farming). The biggest benefit of aquaponics is the symbiotic relationship between the fish and plants. More specifically, fish poop is filled with nitrates (which in large enough concentraions is poisonous to fish) and plants thrive on nitrates. So, fish provide fertilizer for the plants and plants clean the water for the fish.

My first hands-on contact with aquaponics came in the form of a Kickstarter-based aquaponics setup Christmas present that arrived about a month ago.

Yes, I know that this three-gallon setup is not going to feed a family of four (or a single cottontail for that matter), but I am getting to see the process in action, and I see a great deal of promise in it: great potential source for organically grown food, low space and low water requirement, low maintenance, high possible yields, etc. It has appeal for locavores, for whole food enthusiasts, and for people like me who often forget to water their plants. And, it you do a little research, it's easy to see that building an aquaponics system can be accomplished with mostly recycled or upcycled resources.

If you would like to try a small system, check out the following products:

Or, if you would like to try check out a South Plains business that has put a small commercial-scale aquaponics system into use, check out .

Will I get ambitious enough to build a larger system? (Stay tuned!)

Have a phenomenal day and leave a place better than you found it!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Welcome to Mesquite Hugger! If you love the wilds of West Texas and you are concerned about maintaining a healthy environment for all, this is a place for you!

Today's featured site is dedicated to one of my favorite residents of the area - the horny toad!

Have a wonderful day!