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.

I have been struck by a couple of news stories about the grace with which the Japanese people are handling this crisis. I saw one story which showed men harvesting bamboo and slicing it into chopsticks while the woman made and delivered rice to the overwhelmed shelters. Many are sharing their own limited resources in spite of the reality of going without themselves. This made me wonder just how prepared I am to help in the event of a crisis. The answer is that it depends.

I have a good supply of boots, coats, hats and gloves in a variety of sizes. I never turn down a good deal on a down or wool jacket. I keep a lot of baby supplies around. I also have extra seeds and a few hand tools I could pass on.

I have a lot of food but not much of it would make good emergency rations. A bag of wheat is not what would be the most help to someone in need. I’ve been thinking that a good activity for a church group, scout troup or 4-H club would be to put together a few emergency bags. These could be handed out to people affected by house fires or an economic emergency as well as larger scale problems.

I have also been thinking about grab-and-go bags. I’ll bet that almost no one in the US has one in a handy spot in spite of the fact that we are all vulnerable to house fires if nothing worse. If I was forced into a shelter I would want several things like toiletries, a change of socks and underwear, and some small bags of raisins, nuts and some hard candies. I would want a small water filter, a set of dishes and a flashlight as well a pen and some note paper. I know I would want a deck of cards and a good book. I would certainly want any medications and copies of my most important papers like insurance numbers and copies of deeds. I keep one bag in my car and a second bag in my house. I keep all of my medications in a box right by the kitchen door. My bag is pretty well-stocked although not perfect.

This is a mighty scary time. I would urge you to limit the time you spend on-line or watching the news. It can be toxic to your mental health and prevent you from accomplishing what you need to do to work on your own resiliency. I’m heading out this morning to help friends who have had a basement flood and need many hands to assist in the clean-up. This is resiliency. It’s about relationships as much as it is about acquisition. It’s about breaking a sweat more than it is about the intellectual exercise of predicting collapse. It’s about living a life that works for you. That will look different for each of us. Peace. Kathy

I don’t know which hour you all lost but I lost the one I usually post in. That may actually just be an excuse for not writing. I seem to have hit the posting wall. The news is so universally bad this morning that coming up with something that sounds even marginally upbeat or positive is impossible. I can’t help but recognize that all the preps in the world would have made little difference to the people of Japan. Still, I found myself updating my BOB, something I rarely think about as I can’t come up with any plausible reason I would ever need to evacuate.

My toe is much better. Thank you all for your advice and good wishes. I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of our new readers. We have many from around the world. Time out.

So I was sitting at the computer, struggling for each word when I got a call from Phoebe’s teacher asking that I bring her forgotten sneakers to school. I got my self dressed, brushed my teeth, ran a washcloth over my face and walked to her school and back in what can only be called bracing air. I returned feeling much better. So that’s my preparedness tip of the day. Just get up. Even when all seems bleak, get up and do something, anything to avoid the trap of depression and inertia. I can now remember some good stuff to share.

Yesterday was a very good day. I don’t usually plan things for Sundays but I accepted an offer to teach a canning workshop for the afternoon. It went really well, with a bunch of good food and lots of laughter and conversation. I didn’t charge for the class but the women who put it on left a basket for donations on the table. I got not only money but also home-made goodies, always a plus in my book. I got home in time to clean up and spend some time with the girls before heading to neighbor’s home for dinner with a bunch of our dearest friends. Then talk was all about things like alternative, small-scale energy projects and equipping our children with the skills they will need to manage in an energy challenged, environmentally challenged, economically challenged world. It was a wonderful night and I hated to leave but I’m pretty sleep deprived right now and clean sheets called.

One thing I have been thinking about a lot this weekend is that you never know. The world can change in an instant and we need to be ready, not just with supplies but with our relationships. Maybe this would be a good time to patch up an old wound or to make amends for a past wrong. I might be the time to call your brother or send you mom flowers for no reason. Today is a good day to thank the readers of this blog for the comments, suggestions, gestures of good will and insights that make this blog such a joy for me (most of the time). I will try to catch up on the comments later. Just now, I have to go call my sister.

I feel like such a baby. I stubbed my toe and I guess I broke it. It’s a most beautiful shade of purple. If it swells anymore I’ll need to go barefoot. It hurts and I am not a happy camper. I’ll be better and back posting on Monday.

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