I am back, although using a very old computer and really disliking it. It is really quite frightening just how quickly we become dependaent on a new technology.

It has been a very busy week around here. A frost kept us busy protecting plants from the cold, then highs in the 90’s the next day kept us busy protecting them from the heat. The temperature swings are hard, especially on the new plants. We have several new fruit and nut trees that need special care. It is one thing to lose a tomato set when I have 4 dozen more but to  lose one of my plum trees would be a tragedy. I think we can finally hope we have had our final frost. I am so anxious to get out my tender crops. The greenhouse needs some cleaning and I can’t do it until the starts are moved.

Our piggies showed up this week. They are still at the adorable stage. I am already hearing from friends who can’t believe we area able to eat an animal we have hand raised. I think it is far more respectful to raise an animal humanely, giving it plenty of food, water, space and attention, then quickly dispatch it and use all of it to nourish my family, use the manure to enrich my soil, then use the surplus vegetables to feed another meat animal than it is to buy factory raised meat that is mired in cruelty from beginning to end, pollutes water and soil rather than replenish it and fills our bodies with questionable additives. That is a closed end system that only enriches agribusiness pockets. The kids are surprisingly accepting of the notion that the pigs are food, not pets. We take good care of them but we keep the end in sight. They have a lot of questions about the process which gives us the opportunity to talk about some important issues.

I cleaned out the two freezers this week. I found some treasures there. Two bags of peas, one of asparagus and several bags of beans. Perfect timing because the asparagus is the only vegetable besides the salad greens producing just yet. I found a huge bag of elderberries I had forgotten about so I spent yesterday getting another batch of wine going. I am expecting an infestation of fruit flies soon. When that happens, the carboys will have to go in the cellar but for now, I like keeping an eye on things.

Our final big project has been the bees. We are up to 7  hives in the enclosure, two of them belonging our neighbor, Tom. They are ready to be split again. We are getting a bit crowded and may need to either enlarge the space or start selling excess bees. We are also getting a lot of beeswax. I am looking for some good recipes for lip balms and salves. I have also started saving any small containers. In addition to our personal use, there is real gift potential for this product. Speaking of gifts-I had a niece get married and our gift to her was a set of glass cookware. I wrapped the gift in brown paper from some bags I had and, instead of a ribbon, I used a sprig of lavender I had dried last summer. The gift looked lovely and I felt good about giving it. Lot’s of people commented on how unique it was. It just illustrates that living lightly on the planet needn’t be about sacrifice as much as the opportunities that abound for a rich, creative life that is not dependent upon great outlays of cash.

Preparedness wise, this is a fun time of the year. I try to follow the one in one out principle for my stores but things invariably get put off and then I have to do a big shop for medical supplies or toiletries or something. In spring, the preps are all about the garden, the orchard and food preservation equipment. There is a happy, abundant feel to those things.

Our big spend this month is a new, double flue chimney. We have a wood furnace in the basement but we don’t use it because we have an old chimney with a single flu. We are updating so we can heat entirely with wood if necessary. Given what is happening with the price of oil, I think this is a good spend. We plan to be energy self-sufficient as well as nearly food self sufficient. There is no better preparedness.