Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Okay, here's a few more reasons I love summer:
Socks - or lack thereof. Since 6 of us are anti-shoes in the summer the only socks I wash and hang out are Jerry's. During the winter, we fill an entire drying rack with them.
Sunshine and heat.
Going out to the garden to grab dinner fixins.
Eating ice cold watermelon on a hot day.
Braden's birthday on the 4th of July.
Spending entire days outside. Only coming in when we start falling asleep.
Hearing the distant sound of the ice cream truck.
Butterflies and bumble bees.
Birds splashing in the bird feeder.
Eating breakfast on our back patio.
Mowing the yard.
No school drop off and pick ups.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Our first recycle pickup was almost 2 weeks ago. We have been
Here's the update:
- 72.5 pounds into the recycle bin
- 15 pounds to Goodwill & Paperback Swap dot com
- 500 units of debt paid off
- 3 pounds of weight loss for me
- 350 pounds of stuff sold thru Craigslist (fireplace insert plus fencing)
So, drumroll please: 940.5 units gone!
The next project to tackle is to convert last year's office files from paper to pdf and save to Flash Memory stick. In prior years, I've saved copies to disk, but I'd prefer having 1 stick per year than the 35+ disks. I've been told I need to keep copies of the files for at least 7 years, maybe even 10. That's a LOT of paperwork taking up space in my basement. Every time I go into the storage room, I feel claustrophobic. I think I'll do a box at a time - each box is approx 25 pounds and there's over 15 boxes there, plus more at the office. Yikes!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
She has 2 things that I've never taken care of before. Since wise people keep telling me that I can't learn it all thru just reading about it, I thought I'd ask for advice from the 'net.
The two things are: grape vine and blackberry bushes.
The grape vine is growing on a very sturdy fence and has 2 main branches going each direction. Off of each of these main branches are tons of smaller branches plus, one end has grown so long, it's now sticking up out of the top of a nearby apple tree. I'd estimate that it's about 15' past the end of the fencing structure.
Question: How much do I prune back? Can I take the prunings and dip it in root stimulator thereby propogating new grape vines? Does it need any other care?
The blackberry bushes appear to have been whacked accidentally with a weed whacker, causing some damage.
Question: Should those canes be pruned? If yes, what time of year are they pruned? Before fruiting or after?
I wish I had taken photos when I met with her, but it was an incredibly windy day. I will next time I'm out there. Oh, and there are pecan trees. What do you know about them? Thank you!!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Basic Questions About You
1-What is the biggest goal of your lifestyle? To be self sufficient
2-When did you start this lifestyle? Summer of '08
3-What was your main motivation? Michael Pollan's books and my need to do things myself.
4-Did you have any previous experience in anything you're doing now? I've grown a garden every year for about 18 years now. I was an avid Girl Scout earning nearly every badge they had.
5-Does your spouse/significant other (if you have one) share the same ideas? He could live in the woods by himself just fine. He isn't as far along in the need to prep as me, but he is much better at being a survivalist than me. He has an iron stomach whereas I wouldn't eat a bug unless I was starving. Also, I haven't been able to get involved in the butchering chores but I'm working up to it.
6-Do your friends and family understand and support these choices? What about your kids? Friends and family don't understand ~ they're asleep in my opinion. Kids, yes they do. All 5 of our kids wish we lived out in the country on a farm so we could keep more livestock.
7-How happy are you with your achievements so far? Absolutely! I have realized that I didn't can nearly enough food so I adjusted my garden plans to accommodate more production. Best choice that I've made so far: getting chickens. EASY and man, those eggs are delicious.
8-Are you more of a gardener, homesteader, prepper, health conscience, "green"' or a combination of several? I think I was a gardener first, moved to homesteader and am now a beginning prepper. I would say I try to make green choices (especially when it comes to utilities) but prepping is far more important to me right now.
9-Has this change of lifestyle affected your personality? We went to the grocery store today to grab some potatoes as our stockpile is gone. I realized that we have been shopping just the produce section. We make our own bread, buy milk fresh from a cow (thanks Phelan), have bought meat from local farmers, make all our own cleaners including laundry and dish soap. It's freed up money that we can put to paying off debt.
10-Has it changed your view of your life before? Well, I've always considered myself frugal, but now I'm hyper frugal.
11-What about how you view others that don't understand it or naysay? You can't convince people to see things your way when they're spenders. They'll come to the conclusion eventually. I have friends who are losing their home, but their car's payment gets paid every month. Hardly any food in the house, no garden plans but they eat out a lot. I don't get it, but to each his own.
12-If you could convince someone to live the way you do in ONE sentence, what would you say? That's a tough one.... Prep for a rainy day because the rain is on the way!
1-How large is your vegetable garden? I actually have 4 gardens. One at my house which is 25' x 50'. I have 3 other gardens tucked in friend's yards since they don't garden. Total: I have over 1 acre in gardens.
2-Do you grow any fruits, and what and how many? Trees: apple, pear, plum. Bushes: raspberry, boysenberry. Plus strawberries, grapes and rhubarb.
3-Do you have any animals and what are they? (other than pets) 10 Egg laying hens and 25 meat chickens.
4-Do you can/dehydrate/freeze/store your own produce? Yes I do all of those. This summer will be our first summer to have an outdoor canning kitchen.
5-Do you work with mainly power tools or hand tools in your gardens and others? (wood cutting, splitting, tiller vs. broadfork etc...) My husband has chainsaws that makes getting free wood easy. We use hand tools in the garden at home but did use a tiller to prep the new gardens at the other locations.
6-Do you compost? YES! We have rabbits and chickens which give great compost.
7-Do you recycle? Yes
8-Do you consider yourself energy conscience? (conserving to save $) Absolutely
9-Do you make any of your own household cleaners? Yes
10-Do you make your own bread? Yes
11- If in an emergency situation, are you able to not leave home for a week? How about a month? A year?? We easily can do it for a week and once we get the hand pump for our well water, we could do it for a month and even a year. We have a few other items to get done with on the prep list to ensure the one year plan but we'll have them within the month.
12-Are you tired of answering questions yet? Ha ha, um, yes. But this quiz is better than other ones I've done before. I'll really be interested to read other peoples answers too.
13-If you prep, what do you consider to be your most useful tool/items Water bath canner and pressure canner. Husband says his gun and a good knife (or two).
14-Are you able to heat your home without gas or fuel oil? Yes!
15-Are you able to cook without gas or electricity? Yes, inside and outside of the house.
16-Again, if in an emergency situation, could you live in the wild or out of a tent? ( camping,hunt/fish, cook,etc.) Only if husband was there. He is a necessity in my prep plan. LOL
17-Have you ever practiced your prep skills? (turning off main power for a day or 2) How did you do? (this can include a power outage due to weather as a test) We lost power a few years ago during an ice storm. That was the first challenge but we sailed right thru it for 5 days. Boredom and cabin fever set in though.
18-Do you have the knowledge & skills (plus tools) to hunt and fish for food? Yes, but fishing would be tough as we live in the middle of prairie land.
19-If you don't prep, why not? I think Depression era folks called this saving for a rainy day or "you'll never know when you might need it" mentality. Everybody should prep!
20-Do you or can you sew your own clothes and make your own bedding? Yes I can although hubby is a better hand sewer than I am.
21-Can you field dress a deer, drink a coffee, smoke a cigarette, make a cell phone call, light a fire, AND answer all of my annoying questions at the same time? No on the deer, coffee and cig. I don't drink coffee or smoke and um, see the first #9. But, yes on a cell phone and light a fire using flint (skill hubby taught me) and yep, I can answer questions all day long. :)
lol thanks for playing!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
This lovely assistant is showing how the venting portion works.
Reading over at Garden Desk, I was especially eager to get the book Marc recommended, The 12 Month Gardener, Simple Strategies for Extending Your Growing Season by Jeff Ashton, because that's where they got the plans for their wonderful greenhouse. I've wanted a greenhouse for a while, but more so since I started reading Fast Grow The Weeds blog.
Building the frame took about 4 hours from start to finish. I was really surprised at how big it turned out to be. For some reason, I have a terrible time picturing a completed size. I guess we could have marked out the frame before we built it but really, the book assures us that had we gone smaller, we'd have regretted it. Thankfully, we have lots of room in the yard. All that's left to do is staple the greenhouse wrap on it and start growing. Now that it's done, I'm not so sure that I need a greenhouse after all. I mostly wanted one to start seeds but this cold frame can do that and more. We laid out every flat we have and we only filled it halfway. That leaves plenty of room for moving plants into larger pots and even just growing directly in it.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Meet the new additions to our family, Molasses (Mo for short) and Honey, 6 week old Labrador Retriever sisters. We got them from a neat urban homesteading family about 45 minutes east of us. Their mom is a 7th generation Chocolate Lab and dad is also a Choc lab. They were part of a litter of 10. Their home had dogs, chickens, cats, rabbits and kids - hmmm, sounds very familiar.
This is a photo of our 4th Lab, Bo and me. He was abandonned on a farm and rescued at 6 months old. He and his brother had to fend for themselves, so he was used to hunting up his own food. He hadn't had a lot of human interaction until we adopted him. He immediately fit right in with our crazy crew. The best part of adopting an older pet, is that they have moved beyond the chewing, not-housebroken, crying-at-night stage. If I remember correctly, it doesn't last long. (fingers crossed - I'm a bit tired right now from the midnight dashes out to potty.)
Bo was our first Choc lab. He was just the most happy-go-lucky, mellow and loving dog. He had the cutest face he'd make when he wanted to be extra loving ~ he'd scrunch up his nose and wiggle like crazy. It was his signature move! He did really well when we got the chickens last fall. I was a little concerned he'd resort to his hunting days, but after a few sniffs, he left them alone.
He was just 7 years old when his hips starting showing signs of giving out. (Labs have this common ailment - 3 of our 4 had their back hips give out.) Then, cancer took over. Just 10 days from the cancer diagnosis, we had to have him put down. His spirit was still strong and vibrant, but his body was so far gone that he had paralysis in his legs and he had stopped eating days earlier. It's never easy making the decision to let go, but part of pet ownership.
This picture was taken three years ago - he was just 4 years old. I have an entire series of shots with him not being a good model ~ i.e. licking, rolling, walking away, playing etc. He was already up for whatever we wanted to do. He loved going to the lake and swimming. He loved being off his leash to run and run and run. He loved doggy treats. He was easy to train and was like sunshine on four legs. He loved life so much and I'll miss him dearly.