It’s a beauty but it’s way over my head. Maggie is coming by tomorrow to show me the finer points of taking pictures and videos and getting them downloaded to the blog and website. I have a long list of processes and field trips I want to share. I am not a patient girl.

I have a busy week ahead getting ready to present two workshops. The first is on Wednesday evening. I’ll be talking to a large group of foster parents about preparing for short-term emergencies with children. On Saturday, I’ll be presenting my pressure canning workshop at NOFA. It’s a big conference with about 900 scheduled to attend and some great presentations planned. One of the hard parts is that I’m doing a 3 hour presentation so I will only have time to attend one training and the Keynote address. I’ve chosen to take a lacto-fermentation workshop given by Beth Ingham. I’m pretty sure that I have spoken with Beth a couple of years ago when we did a state-wide food preservation day for NOFA. I have to admit that I am just not getting the lacto-fermentation thing. I have a couple of jars of kimchi in the basement that are so disgusting I would just toss the whole mess, jars and all, in the rubbish if I weren’t so protective of my jar stash. You really never smelled anything quite like this mess of moldy, soggy vegetable slop. I’ll be burying this stuff deep when I decide to get up my courage to open another jar. The first one made the house reek for hours.

The Keynote looks to be wonderful. John Jeavons will speak on “Food For The Future-Now”. The subject is designed to discuss how a family can grow all of its food at home or close to home. He will answer that big question about how much land is required to grow a family’s grain as well as provide compost and even a small income. It sounds like a tall order to me. The catalog for the conference gave some interesting statistics. Massachusetts has about 3,732 square feet of farmable soil per person. Using tradition agribiz models it takes 30,000 square feet to feed a person for a full year. That’s a pretty big discrepancy. John uses the biointensive method to produce a varied, nutritious, organic and delicious diet on 3,850 square feet. This amount of land also produces the compost you need to maintain soil fertility. His method also uses only 1/3 of the water and 1/2 the nutrients normally required. This I have to hear. I just wish I had the time to attend his three-part training on the subject. I’m hoping there is still a space available and maybe Bruce will decide to go.

Other good looking workshops include crop sequencing and fertility plans, malting local grains, curing hams, creating edible forest gardens, the quarter acre farm, small-scale wheat production and a terrific training on foraging edible mushrooms. So much to learn, so little time.

I made a bit of a mistake today. I had ordered 16 pounds of grass-fed, local beef from a neighbor. The price was very good, only $5.00 a pound. I was so disappointed to find that I got ground beef rather than stewing beef. I needed the stewing beef for Saturday as I planned to make beef in wine sauce for my workshop. It calls for lots of good winter vegetables like apples and carrots, onions and garlic. I can do something with the ground beef but it means a complete rewrite. I left a call with the local couple who have the beef. I just hope they have stewing beef left as I hate to start over. The other problem is that I had to put the ground beef in the big freezer. It took up just enough space that I’m not sure I have enough room left over to empty the mid-sized freezer in the mudroom. I like to be able to shut it off during most of the winter. It’s an upright and expensive to run. I really only need it for those few months when I’m overrun with fruits and vegetable in addition to the pigs, turkey and chickens. I suppose I’ll just have to nudge things around tomorrow and see if I can make it work. The other option is to thaw the whole mess and can it. I will say the beef looks wonderful. We have so little and ground beef, almost never so it does feel decadent to have 16 pounds just waiting to be turned into chilli.

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