Monday, May 14, 2012

Faith as small as a mustard seed

I'm not a naturally patient person. I try. I put forth the effort. Sometimes it involves clenching my teeth, putting on a far too large smile and faking it. But I tend to get impatient.

So when the seeds I had planted and set in the window hadn't come up after two weeks I was, shall we say, concerned. I checked out my trusty friend Google and confirmed that I had somehow screwed something up and all my seeds were dead.

And it was possible. I had kept all my seeds together in a single envelope and during a cleaning frenzy they had been placed in my large kitchen window. While perfect for seed starting the window can get very hot and given the strangely warm weather it was completely conceivable that I had fried my seeds.

I grieved. I wept. I moped.

You see, I'm a seed snob. Sure, I could buy the plants from the store but in terms of saving money there is no cheaper way to do it than by planting seeds. PLUS I have the luxury of having heirloom, non-GMO seeds growing things I just can't buy at the nursery. The nursery doesn't carry carrot plants at all but if they did they wouldn't be the sweet Chantenay Red Core kind. And while they have plenty of pepper and tomato plants they don't carry my Sweet Yellow Stuff Peppers or my Fox Cherry Tomatoes.

Too late to place another seed order, I stopped by the nursery on my way home from work one night and picked up another round of green bean and cucumber seeds and resigned myself to buying tomatoes plants in a few weeks when the weather was right.

Imagine then my surprise when I came home to find 2 possible squash/pumpkin plants growing in my front yard. And then in the raised beds I spied 3 sugar snap peas finally poking their heads out.

I could have cried.

Until that point I was pretty sure the only thing I was going to manage for the year was garlic and weeds.

Now, a few weeks later I have 5 -6 squash or pumpkin plants in my front yard (they look the same and I possibly planted both close together), 12 pea plants coming up and at least 3 cucumber plants poking their heads out of the ground. Additionally I have a melon seedling of some kind hanging out with the garlic (thanks 2 year old son) and my potatoes are finally starting to poke their eyes above the dirt.

I suppose it just goes to show. I needed only the faith in the mustard seed. Or was that faith like the mustard seed?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I'm a seed hoarder

I had actually meant to start a few seeds inside in March but it seemed that time kept getting away from me. Today, with only a few weeks to go before when I should be transplanting I took some time, pulled out my seeds, and began to plant.

I love the smell and feel of the potting soil. The colors on the seed packets are always vibrant and make me long for the sweet smell of wet earth and fresh carrots.

I realized though, when I pulled out my seed packets, that I perhaps have a problem.

Hi. My name is Lacy and I'm a seed hoarder.

Every year I buy my seeds and instead of throwing out what I don't need or better yet, passing them on to others, I put them in Zip Lock baggies, label them and put them in the garden shed.

I was surprised that packets of the same kinds of seeds seemed to purchased year after year for now three years in a row. (I'm looking at your Green Beans) Frankly, it was a little embarrassing.

I also noticed that my gardening know how and ability seem to have increased.

When I first started I just grabbed whatever seeds in the garden store looked interesting. Not sure what I was thinking when I bought jalapeno seeds. I don't even LIKE jalapenos!

Now I only purchase heirloom seeds and I think long and hard about how I want to eat what I grow. I wont plant lettuce again since my family are not big salad eaters. We love cucumbers though and I think we need a few more plants around here of those.

This year I'm trying a couple of new things. I'm going to try and grow watermelon and another kind of melon. I've added garlic.

And I threw out the old seeds. Anything from 2010 just had to go. A couple of the 2011's went too.

And I planted tomatoes. Amish Paste and Fox Cherry. I also planted mini yellow peppers. Just for fun. (And because my girls will eat them.)

I find when I do my gardening outreach it's always good to have something people can pop in their mouths right then and I hope those peppers do it for them.

Viva la Tomato!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Real Prepping

I am totally and completely blessed with the family God gave me, not just the one I married and the ones I birthed but also the extended family such as Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.

This weekend we will be visiting one of favorite Aunts and her family for Easter. I am beyond excited because I will get to see two of my cousins (I have a total of 11 cousins. My family is Irish so it's considered a small family.) and rub their baby bellies and just allow my kids to be in the presence of family. They live in a small town and even by the towns standards they live outside of town. They still have dial up. They just got cable and only because we visit and might want to watch something. I love being out there because it's so remote and we aren't able to be distracted by the hum of every day life.

One of my favorite things about my Aunt's house is that she and my Uncle Prep without meaning to. I've actually mentioned them before and my secret coveting of their cold room.

Something that has come up recently for me though is that I have ANOTHER Aunt and Uncle who at one point did a lot of prepping. They bought water and toilet paper and buckets of wheat in preparation for Y2K. Once Y2K passed they let it go and have since stopped any type of prepping as well as they stuff they USED to do such as canning their own food and raising their own chickens.

I love and admire my all of my family but I have to be honest. Y2k never scared me. The economy, solar flares and peak oil. THAT scares me.

In the end I don't think growing and eating your own food is just for preppers or just for locavores or just FOR anyone. I think it should be for EVERYONE.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

19 Days

My approaching for preparing for TEOTWAWKI, in whatever fashion that takes, has been a two sided approach.

Buy food storage and supplies for the immediate future and learn to do on my own and reduce/reuse for later.

It was a suggestion to me when I mentioned my anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed that I felt when I thought about prepping and just what needed to be accomplished. It has served me well and helped to lessen my fear and anxiety about whatever is coming.

I try to spend my money and time wisely and equally on both. To that end my family budgets about $100 a month to these items. In the last 4 months I've used that money towards food storage. I buy my food storage in what some might call a haphazard fashion but I do it with meals in mind. For example one month I focused on chili and the ingredients I would need to make it. So I bought #10 cans of kidney beans, pinto beans, small red beans, black beans, tomato powder and ground beef. Now all of these ingredients can be used for other things as well so it was win win for me and my budget.

I decided to use a Food Storage Analyzer to keep track of my items and to assess the nutritional value of my food storage. (For the record I used

After spending roughly $500 between the 4 dedicated months as well the occasional other items acquired in the last few years according to the analyzer my family of 5 (3 adult eaters and 2 child eaters) have...........wait for it.........19 days worth of food. Not even three weeks.

I'll admit that was eye opening and slightly disheartening. One the one hand, I had hoped to be better prepared by now. On the other, it just means I need to work harder and spend my money a little smarter.

Hopefully the garden produces more this year.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What's in a number

For lots of people out there bargains are sometimes "felt" rather than really "seen". Retailers use the simple trick all the time of charging $3.99 instead of $4 so that we feel like we're getting a good deal. "It was less than $4.00 I hear them say" and I think those retailers are pretty smart people.

For those and others something doesn't really hit home until it reaches a certain dollar figure. I found that out for myself as well as friend Thursday.

Gas prices are rising. In my neck of the woods I've seen as high as $3.79 per gallon for regular unleaded. Nothing special. I realize that there are lots of places out there that have seen much higher than that in recent years and even now but for me, that's the highest I've ever seen it.

I have an 11 gallon vehicle that I fill up roughly once a week. It normally runs me between $30-35. I will admit here that I sort of stopped paying attention to the exact amount. I just knew that it was still within my gas budget.

My friend and I were chatting Thursday after I had seen the $3.79 gas and she remarked that she had heard it would hit $5.00 a gallon in the summer. Now, I know I've heard that prediction before and it never came to pass so I nodded and then dismissed it. "Whatever. I'll cross that bridge when I get there."

But the number bug was planted and the $5.00 per gallon nagged at me all day. Finally, that evening, as I was doing some HR math* for another friend of mine we started talking about gas prices and since I already had the calculator I figured we could talk the price out and I could figure out why it was bothering me.

If gas were to hit $5 a gallon that means I would be paying roughly $55 a WEEK for gas. It was easy for me to dismiss $30 gas but $50 gas grabbed me. And him.

I fill up my car once a week so that means per month I would be spending $220 in gas. My husbands car is roughly the same which means we would be paying $440 a month in GAS to get to work. That's significant.

$50 had my attention. $440 certainly had grabbed me.

My house could manage it. It wouldn't kill us. But it would hurt. It would mean some other pretty tough choices around here. After school daycare might have to be reconsidered. That fancy cheese my husband likes for his sandwiches would be out. So would all soda consumption. And treats in general.

$20 more a week in gas doesn't seem like a lot when you say it. But $40 is something. $160 extra a month is really something.

And it got me thinking, what about those who can't afford $50.00 a week. What do they do? Where do they cut? And even if they can afford it with cuts their family would have to make and my family would have to make what does that do to our still battered and bruised economy?

And that's just my family and fuel for our cars. What about the rising prices of everything else? Food costs and clothing costs, electricity, entertainment, it all goes up.

I don't have an answers. But its certainly worth thinking about it and it's certainly food for thought.

And all because $50 grabs my attention far faster than $30.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Too much space?

This spring my husband and I, with the help of our 7 year old and 2 year old have been tackling the back yard. I've lived in this house for 7 years now and the backyard has always been just a pit of despair. 2 years ago I introduced some containers of vegetables into it. Last year I added some raised beds.

This year we are cleaning the whole thing out and landscaping it while also adding TEOTWAWKI/homesteading items to it.

Last weekend we cleaned the side of the house which I've always avoided because it was scary and strewn with trash. I was certain if I had snakes in my yard they were in the side yard.

Turns out no snakes that we saw and now that it's been raked and cleaned out it seems like it could be a pretty useful space.

The question is, of course, useful for what.

My husband indulges my SHTF worries and allows me a certain amount of leeway with gardening and food storage but at the end of the day, we are still going to have grass in the back yard and not an orchard or raised beds as far as the eye can see.

That said, when I started talking about putting in some raspberry bushes I could see he wasn't entirely on board with the idea.

So take a look and tell me what YOU think I could do with the space.

It's 8 feet wide and roughly 15 feet long. The sunlight in the picture is at 12:30pm MST today, March 24. Yes, there is a tree behind me making a shadow over the space.

My mother in law suggested using it as storage. My husband has shrugged his shoulders (but assures me there aren't going to be raspberry bushes.


So do I make it a small garden? A play area of the kids? Nothing? I want it to add value to my property and add value to my preps without being obvious, if that's possible. I'd prefer not to put a tree there since it's kinda close to the house.

Thoughts? Ideas? Help?

Friday, March 16, 2012


I recently came into a little money, nothing life changing and after paying some bills and letting the husband have some fun I have about $500 to use towards anything I want.

If you had the extra $500 and wanted to use it for prep items what would you buy?

You don't have to know my circumstances, I'm curious about you and your dreams for your prep/self reliance/I just want it closet (or garage or bunker, I'm not picky).

$500. Go.