March 2011


It was amazing and she’s about the prettiest little thing. 6 lbs, 14 oz, a nice 9/10 apgar and nursed really well. Thank you all for the warm thoughts.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programing:

A lot is going on around here. The new furnace and hot water heater have been installed. The rest of the windows are on order and, as soon as we can count on the weather, the new roof and insulation are going over the living room. We plan to face next winter as tight and efficient as possible in a house built in 1863.

The plot plan for the garden is finished but I know we’ll be refining it. I have, as usual, gone overboard with my tree and bush order and all of them need homes. The time is also getting short if I want a couple of sheep in the back pasture. Bruce needs to lay in a call to the farmer who usually mows that field so we know where we stand.

My garlic is poking up as is the rhubarb, just in time for a late spring snowstorm.

How is your storage food holding up? I’m now out of broccoli and onions. The beets and carrots will make it to the next harvest and I’m drowning in jam. I love to make it but we just don’t eat that much. We go through a lot more fruit leather and dried fruit for sauces and frozen fruit for yogurt than we do jam. I don’t through turnips quickly enough to justify much garden space but I could have used double the peas (my last bag was eaten yesterday). I still have string beans but my dried peppers are all gone as is my dried spinach and zucchini. In general, I used a lot more dried vegetables than I expected but none of the canned vegetables got eaten. I needed more pickled beets but not so many dill spears. The bread and butters were just about perfect. It’s all tweaking, isn’t it? I’m also trying to calculate for feeding more people next year. I hope to ease things for my kids by offering produce.

I’ll get back to regular posting schedule next week. Thanks for your patience.

Nope…Not yet

On another nerve-wracking subject VOLES!!!

So, I was feeling all smug and proud of myself because I had a greenhouse full of healthy greens going. The new starts were looking quite healthy and the seeds I planted late last fall were several inches tall. I was anticipating my first spring salad when the voles struck. They ate every green right down to soil level. I may need to head down to the local arcade and play a couple of games of Whack-A-Mole to vent my frustrations.

The subject of pest control is an important one and not something I feel all that competent in. I do know I am going to stock up on a whole mess of mouse and rat traps, fly paper and some good fly swatters. Pests can be more than pest if there is a crisis. They can be deadly, either from the diseases they carry or the food they destroy. Can anybody out there recommend a good web site or book on this subject. It’s a real hole in my preparedness library.

I did come up aith a good idea this week. I found myself needing a bucket for rice when I restocked and the ony one I had still had just a little wheat left in it. I was pondering what to do as there was too much wheat for a 1/2 gallon jar. I did find an empty popcorn tin. It was large enough but needed a mylar bad or something similar and I didn’t have one small enough. I finally decided to put four cups of wheat berries in 1 gallon zip-lock bags and layer them in the tin. The size is good as I often grind in just that volume and the tin is rodent proof. I sealed the edge of the lid with some duct tape and it should be bug proof as well. I also found a store that is willing to save some buckets for me. Yeah. I was beginning to think I would have to spend actual money on some.

I had a nice time Saturday night. We went across the street to the community house for our annual Earth Day event. There was lots of good music, good food, great company and I got to speak on food resilient communities. I’m going to post my talk for my blog on Wednesday as I hope to be heavily in Grammy mode by then and not in the mood to think.

The world continues to spin in spite of the spate of dreadful news. I must remember that life is good and blessings are abundant but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to top off a lot of my preps and encourage others to do the same.

We are still waiting but I’ve been keeping busy.

The first tiny transplants are doing well in the greenhouse. I got some major cleaning and organizing finished. I did a big bulk order of rice, peanut butter, a soup bean mix and some other, often used staples. Now I have to bite the bullet and order some more buckets. I’m not finding anybody willing to part with their buckets. I can’t afford to buy gamma lids for all of the buckets I need without cutting into my storage food budget so I’ll continue to use gamma lids for the buckets I use every day and regular lids for the rest.

I’ve been doing a lot of public speaking which means doing a lot of writing. I spoke at UMass yesterday on how teachers can respond to the needs of children impacted by foster care and, on Saturday, will be giving a short presentation on food resiliency at an Earth Day event here in town. I actually wrote this up a few weeks ago but I’ve changed that in light of recent events. I thought what I had written was pretty academic when I think people are far more interested in concrete information. I’ll be focusing more on how families created resiliency historically. We have a lot to learn from our ancestors which is why I so love historical books that examine family life. I’m reading Home Life In Colonial Days by Alice Morse Earle just now. It’s a fun read and gives some insight that is particular to the East coast.

I did want to mention that I have not been approving some comments. I don’t approve comments that are links to political or religious sites. I want this to be a place for a free exchange of information and not a place that veers off into places that incite heated debate on politics. I’m happy to debate the safety of canning butter but not left vs right, tea party vs liberal vs conservative. Whatever our political leanings, we are all rowing this boat together and I want everybody on board to concentrate on getting to shore.

I appreciate all of the good wishes on my upcoming grandmahood. I’m already a grammy several times over but that doesn’t lessen the joy of anticipation of heading there again. For many years Bruce and I provided foster care and we always loved it when we had a baby. I never minded the diapers or the lack of sleep. I always felt as if I was holding a little miracle. It is a sad and sorry world sometimes but it is also a world where good people do heroic things and where beauty abounds.

We are still wating on a baby around here. The good news is that I’m incredibly organized right now. I’m keeping the house picked up, laundry done, back pack packed and food prepared JIC I have to leave home for a few days. I know there is a lesson here. I should keep this up all the time but life does get in the way and most of us believe we will time.

What if we don’t? What if you faced a crisis right now? How ready would you be? I have a list of the things I need to see to. That solar hot water system, the updated food storage, the expanded greenhouse system, the summer kitchen, the earth oven, all are projects I have planned. I think that this is summer to get to them.

I have really missed my comments. I look forward to hearing from all of you. You keep me entertained and motivated, energized and informed. I hope the next time I post, I will be telling you all about my new grandbaby.

My DIL is ready to deliver my granddaughter any time and I’m more than a bit preoccupied. In addition, wordpress is having problems and I’m not receiving comments. I should be up and running on Friday.

Fondly,

Kathy

I got my oil press. It’s a Piteba. The thing is built like a tank. I finished reading the directions and, like most totally unfamiliar things, they look more intimidating than they probably are. Still, I think I’ll hook up with my friends who also got one to try it together the first time or two. The next step will be to see what’s available locally to press for oil. Nuts and sunflowers for sure but I’ll bet other kinds of seeds will work. I will be happy to keep myself in really fresh oil for dressing salads and bread baking and the bit of frying I don’t use lard for.

On our trip to the thrift store, Karen picked up an out-of-print called Pizza (foccacia, panini, quiche and more) from Fireside books. I make a pizza from the dough recipes and liked it a lot. It called for adding a bit of mashed potato to a traditional raised dough. I topped with some canned sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach and rehydrated mushrooms. It was really good. I want to try a white pizza with shrimp next.

Pizza is one of those infinitely adaptable foods. A simple dough can be sweet, savory, dressed up with exotic toppings or taken to its most simple with a basic tomato and basil topping.

We got our first spring plants in the greenhouse yesterday. I put in spinach, lettuces and tat soi. The Asian greens do very well in our climate and give us crunchy goodness when all else succumbs to the cold. I put up a jar of beans to sprout today. It’s the other way to ensure that i can eat something good and fresh when the snow is still flying. A friend of mine went to the market yesterday and found a sign apologizing for the high price and poor quality of the produce. I’m mighty glad for my sprouts.

“You don’t get a field plowed by turning it over in your mind”

I stole that little saying from my friends, B&B’s, refridgerator. I am keeping it in mind as go out today. My daughter, Karen, turned 17 yesterday and we are going out for a girl’s day, complete with manicures (for her) and shopping. You can tell Karen is my girl through and through because she asked to go to the thrift store as opposed to the mall. I’m on the lookout for real things like canning jars, heavy-duty work clothes, cast iron cookwear and large capacity food storage containers. I’ll also be looking for more hand tools. The work begins around here. Ben and Maggie will be home soon and the extra hands will make some put-off projects acheivable. The time has come to stop turning it over in our minds.

We are talking about putting real effort into a farmer’s market stand for those things we can make that don’t require a commercial kitchen to sell. Things like jams and jellies, breads and honey products are all good. I always have it in my mind that my girls need a foot in the informal economy as college is not for them. The earlier they learn the ropes the better.

This a short post as I need to get out the door. Much is going on that will be taking my attention. Our little school is back on the chopping block and only the hard work of parents and staff will keep it open. That means I’m back to having PTO meetings on my agenda. Not my favorite things but necessary even though it won’t affect my kids. It will affect my neighbor’s kids which means I still have a responsibility.

One more thing. My oil press came in. I haven’t seen it yet but my friend Barbara says it looks really well built. Now I have to consider what I can grow to keep me supplied with cooking oil. Sunflowers are high on my list. I can store the raw seeds too. I need to check the shelf life. I know oil must be rotated within a year. It will be so great if I can store a seed that will produce the oil and worry less about shelf-life. Do any of you know about this?

One final thing: If you have a chance to read Sharon Astyk’s post on her Ark story. It’s so good. I can’t wait to get to the next installment.

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