Friday, November 5, 2010

Planning for next year

I know that often this seems like a garden blog more a survival or preparedness blog but it's really not.

It's just that in my mind self sufficiency is the path towards survival. Sure, I buy #10 cans of food. Not often. But I save up and do occasionally buy it. I do that though with the idea in mind that if a total economic/social/energy/EMP/whatever collapse were to happen I would have that stuff for TODAY because I am new to preparedness and I am, well, not totally prepared. I would like, in the future, to someday produce enough food from my small suburban lot to at least feel like I had a handle on survival if I had to. At least in the short term until I could get to somewhere bigger.

So I garden. I plan on fruit trees and bushes. I hide herbs both kitchen and medicinal into my landscape. I am slowly growing a preparedness library and constantly testing myself to see "can I do that without electricity?"

My family is not on board. Well. They are on board with the small containers of tomatoes, of pretty flowers in the front yard (can you say chamomile?) and the canning of local produce. But they are not yet into the bigger picture of powering down, of doing by hand, of going without or making due. Not yet.

Everything is a process. Just like learning to garden, can, cook from scratch is a process. And I'm getting there.

Next year will see big changes to my back yard. Right now it's large and has some very old tall trees (I think elm but I could be making that up). It's mostly grass or dirt with some trees and bushes around the perimeter. There are lilacs, that I love and other stuff, that I don't care about.

Next year though will see actual garden beds put in with a work table and an arch to a new path. My mother in law has it all planned out. I think she knows about the survival/preparedness stuff but has never asked about it. She has, however, seen my under stairs cold storage closet and I've talked at length about how I want to produce from my land but make it beautiful (to be deceptive). There will be more tomatoes next year, more beans, more cucumbers. She has promised there will be apple trees.

So I've already started looking at seed catalogs and researching heirlooms. I've started saving money for the materials. I've started planning meals.

I'm excited to plan, that's actually my favorite part of preparedness. The planning. I like to have a list, a plan, an idea.

This winter will find me focused on cooking from scratch and local. I'll be working on my library and working on my kids, trying to power down, trying to increase their attention spans.

It's exciting for me because I feel like I'm finally making progress.

And I'm ready for green beans straight off the vine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Several years ago when I was still married to my first husband I escaped to my Aunt's house in Wyoming with my then only two kids and begged her to teach me to make and can applesauce.

At the time I had a two year old who are like a bird and one of the only things she would eat was applesauce. It also seemed a LOT easier than learning how to can salsa or make jam. I was so silly back then.


This weekend I decided that while my dreams of planting appletrees this year did not come to fruition I would still make applesauce. And apple butter. I actually made carmel apple butter.

The apples we local, bought at the nursery down the road from us. I bought half a bushel of Jonathon and half a bushel of Jongold. Note to self: perhaps a bushel is too many apples.

That's a lot of apples in total.

I happen to own a foley mill bought at a garage sale for $1 but I also own a kitchen aid. I will admit, I tried to make the applesauce after cooking them in the foley mill first.

It was taking too long.

So I ended up using my Kitchen Aid mixer to make them into pulp and them using the mill to make it smooth and keep out the debris of apple cores and peel etc. It worked well for me.

I spent 8 hours on Saturday and another 1 on Sunday because a)my kitchen in small, b)my canner only holds 7 pints at a time and c)apple butter takes longer than I had anticipated. But in the end I ended up with the equivilent of 21 pints of applesauce and apple butter.

Feels pretty satisfying overall. But next year I'm employing child labor for the foley mill. That thing sucked the energy right out of me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Front yard

Alternative title: My mother in law is Super Woman.

My husband had oral surgery on Tuesday and is home recovering. Because I have no more time off my mother in law has come over every day to help him and me with the kids.

Yesterday he was napping, I was at work and the kids were all doing daycare like activities so she had a little extra time on her hands.

We had been talking about what I wanted for the front yard and she encouraged me to get some supplies and if she had time she would work on it for me. I told her I wanted something visually appealing but that also was functional. Specifically I was wanting a kitchen herb/butterfly garden.

We bought some shrubs for the rear of the area that were 40% off and then bought some cone flowers. Those are in the middle area. In the front we bought some mums (for color this year for fall) and some lovely kale.

I came home to find my front yard transformed from this (plus some overgrowth that had happened since this picture was taken):


I know it's hard to see (other than being able to tell it looks AMAZING) but my wonderful mother in law trimmed the massive stump in the front that was threatening to regrow multiple trees, dug up the edging bricks we had (in the decorative scallop shape), amended soil and filled in the baby pool sized hole we had in the middle, laid fabric, reapplied the bricks, dug at LEAST 9 holes with a PICK AXE because the soil up there is so crummy, planted my plants, laid mulch and moved heavy rocks and a planter as well as some decorative frogs.

While Micah was napping.

I feel awful because some days it's a miracle for me to fold a basket of laundry. Okay, most days laundry folding is a miracle and my mother in law accomplished all of that in the span of 8 hours or less and in 50 degree weather.

If you recall at the beginning of spring it looked like this:

So really, that is QUITE a transformation.

I feel better already about my little suburban homestead.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Putting together the "book"

My outlook on the whole "TEOTWAWKI/SHTF/ZOMBIESOMG" thing is mutlifaceted. And generally I don't actually include zombies in my planning. Those guys are RELENTLESS.

On the one hand I worry that I have started "too late" meaning that when everything happens, whatever 'everything' is, I wont have done "enough" to prepare. Part of that is just knowing me as a person. Follow through is sometimes a struggle for me and I tend to lose focus sometimes.

On the other hand I know that whatever happens it will be long term and things may never get back to "normal", at least not in my lifetime.

I sit down and think about what I believe is most LIKELY to happen in the near future and I try and prepare for the short term and the long term.

I suspect that peak oil/high energy cost are most likely going to be what sets our society off. I believe we have been experiencing the slow buildup to this but that at somepoint we are going to experience more rolling black outs, more energy distruptions, possibly rationing or astronomical pricing.

On top of this I see food cost continuing to rise. Climate change is causing zones to change and the US is not exactly diversifing it's crops. As it subsidizes corn and soy beans to add into processed food and allows GMO to be the norm we will begin to see the cost of other food, especially fruits and vegetables rise. Couple that with the way we continue to treat animals as "protein product" and assembly line raise them with little actual attention paid to conditions or safety and we will see health continue to decline for our population.

What I'm saying is, I don't think I'm going to wake up one morning and nothing will work ala One Second After or Dies the Fire. I think it's gradual decline like putting a frog in water on a stove and gradually turning up the heat.

I do still wanna have a back up plan for the stuff not working thing though too.

So my plan is two fold. On the one hand is the storing of food, especially food that I'm not sure I'll be able to grow or get easily as food costs rise. So I gradually store some of that and have a chart and a plan as to what I want/need to aquire and in what priortiy.

On the other hand I am working on sourcing our food locally when possible, learning to grow and garden our food as well as incorporate wild edibles when possible. It's a slow process right now.

I worry though that the time may come where I wont have access to the internet and so things that I need to know wont be available to me and I wont have it in a book.

Things like recipes for a dutch oven or using dehydrated foods. Medicinal plants, wild edibles and when to plant things are also on the top of my list. I have some canning information but would love more.

So I'm working at putting together a binder with some of that information. At least to have it on hand until I have estabilished a library or learned how to do things from memory.

So. That's my winter project.

If it were you, what things would you want to have on hand in case you didn't have access to the internet? What information would you need? What information would you want a beginner to have? What books would you want in your library?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Carrot Season

Last Thursday I FINALLY got around to harvesting my carrots. I had been waiting and waiting to pull them trying to give them every last day possible for growing. Which is really just for my selfish pleasure because I like straight out of the garden, barely cleaned from the dirt carrots.

I had WAY more carrots than I realized. Apparently all summer the jalapeno plant and the rosemary did a great job disguising my carrots so that when I went to pull them I was surprised with several more than I had planned for.

Now granted, these are short and stubby. The car keys are in the picture to give you an idea of size.

But I'm still pretty pleased with them. I grew these babies from seed and I believe they turned out great!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Already October

I can't believe it's already October. Where did my summer go?

My jalapeno's continue to produce and even flower despite the chilly mornings now. My cherry tomoto plant is also stubbornly producing. I've watered the plants but only every couple of days.

I also replanted my onion sets.

I had planted them in the spring but the cucumber plant took over their pot and the tops pretty much just wilted. With the cucumber plant now dead (god rest his soul) the replanted onions have green shoots popping up. I probably should rush and try to get garlic in the ground for winter as well.

Money has been tight around the house lately so storing things away for a new day has been limited. I'd LIKE to buy a solar oven, a manual washing machine and rain barrels but for right now those items are sitting on my list of to-do's.

Apathy. Thy name is Me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

status updates

September is a busy month and not just in terms of gardening.

Two of my three children have birthdays at the end of the month with one turning 15 and the other turning 6 this year.

Also for reason that are long and tedious we have been without massive amounts of cash which has inhibited my ability to can products mostly because I haven't been able to acquire them.

The garden is winding down although I have some jalapenos that are ready to be harvested.

I had a dream last night that I was pulling carrots where I thought I had planted radishes. It was a pretty good dream. (I like carrot infinently more than I like radishes)

We had some power outages earlier this month that lasted for a little too long.

I was pretty happy with our emergency preparedness because we were able to grab flashlights and radio equipment qucikly since they were all in one spot. Most of the lighting is hand crank so that took a little bit of time to do but we sat on the porch in the twlight while cranking. There are worst ways to spend an evening.

The only semi concern I had was AC. It was still pretty warm at night at that point and I could have seen the house getting hotter than comfortable. In our case we would have all retired to the basement if it was a long term outage and luckily we didn't have to but it certainly made me think a little on what else I could do for long term emergency stuff.

Overall September was a good month although it honestly feels like not much got accomplished.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Garden Goodies

So it looks like my first foray into gardening has been a success.

I had cucumbers, although not many. Those are done now though.

My onions continue to grow although they are not going to be massive. I think that's the result of growing in a container with other items. Next year I'll put them in the ground in their own row.

My jalepeno peppers have FINALLY decided to come out and I've picked and used one so far in my peach salasa and have at least 4 or 5 on the plant still maturing.

My cherry tomato plant is ridiculus. I'm pulling ziplock baggies of red tomatoes off that thing twice a week. Sadly, I dont like cherry tomatoes so I've been giving them away after my children eat their fill.

My roma tomatoes have produced 1-2 smallish red fruits per week. Not enough to make sauce which makes me sad.

Mater's and Peno's.

This weekend we finally pulled a carrot from the garden. My helper ate it after we rinsed it off and its' short and stubby. Again, the result of it's container home I think.

Blueberries did not do anything this year (I didn't think they would) and my strawberries are now going crazy with runners but they aren't blooming. That's okay,we had a couple this spring.

Sure, we wont be living off the land this winter with massive food stores but overall it was pretty great watching things grow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Millions of peaches..but not for free

I totally butchered that song for the title...*sigh*

This weekend I'm getting a case of peaches from my local u-pick and farm. I wont be picking them sadly as they are brought in from another farm for sale at this farm. I will be picking raspberries (hopefully) though.

My plan is to make some spiced peaches (per Wendy's suggestion) and some raspberry jam. The jam and peaches will part of my ongoing hands on canning lesson plan with me as both student and teacher. I will use my "extras" for Christmas gifts this year for co-workers and teachers at the girls school as well as our day care provider for The Boy.

Family will also receive some as gifts along with other small presents this year. I'm trying to make this a more local, more "organic" holiday season and that requires planning to start in July and August.

Luckily I have a massive amount of Strawberry Jam in both "regular" and Strawberry Vanilla flavors.

I'm also thinking of turning some of the peaches into peach butter but we will see how ambitious I get. I STILL need to finish processing some of the strawberries into jam.

On other news my garden continues to thrive and surprise me. My cucumbers are pretty much dead which I had anticipated by this point being that it's so warm here this summer. The tomatoes are doing amazing and daily I am able to harvest a handful of cherry tomatoes. Sadly my picky palate doesn't appreciate cherry tomatoes and so when my eldest daughter isn't around I bring them to work and give them away. (Eldest child loves cherry tomatoes but I think our harvest this year is testing her).

None of the "regular" tomatoes have turned red yet except a few of the Roma's. Next years larger garden I think will contain more Roma's and less cherry tomatoes. I never seem to have enough Roma's to turn into sauce sadly.

I have spotted my first Jalapeno pepper in the garden and am excited to see it although again, not to eat it. Luckily my husband enjoys his food spicy so I will be able to add it to some of his meals from time to time. (Hopefully).

Aside from that onions, carrots and radish all are still in the garden and underground. I'm unsure as to when to harvest those but I'm certain it's not in August.

Goal this weekend:
Pick raspberries
Process raspberries, peaches and strawberries
Clear some space around the backyard and prep for at LEAST 1 tree

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The weekend of Berries

This Saturday I rose uncomfortably early and headed to the pick your own located about 30 minutes from my house sans children. While I do normally take a child or three with me on these excursions I decided against it this time since it had been such a tough go of it last time with just the one child.

In June when I picked berries at this same local they were small and tough to find. I was anticipating much of the same but I was determined. My goal was to put up tremendous quantities of strawberry jam. I wanted to make some as gifts for people this year for Christmas and also for my own family.

From my first June batch of jam I had given away 2 half pints of the sweet stuff and it had been well received. In fact I had even received one of my jars back empty it was so well received.

I got to the fields and much to my surprise was met with these kinds of berries:

I was delighted. These were large and easy to reach and they were everywhere!

The woman who drove the tractor out to the fields with us pickers on board informed us that these were "pre-berries" and that the actual crop would come in later this month. I can't even imagine how many strawberries they will have then.

Within 30 minutes I had this:

I took them back to the farmhouse, picked up another flat and 2 smaller boxes and went back out. Within another 45 minutes I had filled the entire flat plus and was done. I was also pretty badly sunburned because my skin is the color of fishbelly and since I hadn't brought children I had also not brought the bag with sunscreen in it. Lesson learned there.

Beginning Saturday night and also Sunday we cleaned and processed the entire first flat plus 2 smaller boxes and made them into Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Jam. I made small 4oz jars and also larger 8 oz jars for gifts and for consumption. Initial home taste testing indicates they are amazing.

I'm unsure if I'll freeze the remaining strawberries or just go ahead and process those as well.

Whatever I do I need to do it soon. The pick your own informed me that raspberries will be ready by August 17th and peaches by the end of the month.

I love canning!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Update as such

The garden continues to produce, albeit not much. I have probably another 3 or 4 Roma tomatoes to harvest tonight and my surprise cherry tomatoes have begun to go from green to orange. My oldest daughter is beyond delighted at the idea of fresh off the vine cherry tomatoes. Well, as delighted as a 14 year old goth can be.

My mind is already racing for the garden next year and what I hope to accomplish. I never did get my raspberries or apple trees in the ground which sets me a year behind my goals for food production. I of course still have time to ready the ground and plant but I'm not sure if planting in 90 degree weather is good for those trees or bushes.

Hubby has agreed to a square foot raised bed next year for the back yard. Again, this wont give us the entire amount of food we need but it will certainly be a little easier. I'm also looking for places/ideas on how to sneak more food crops into that yard.

The front yard has stalled but once the weather cools a little more I hope to get more prep work on that done as well. I think we are going to raise part of the bed there with herbs and helpful insect attractants to the top and possibly surprise root vegetables to the bottom area. But we shall see, my mother in law is a garden/landscape guru so it's just conversations between her and I trying to figure out what we want to accomplish.

I feel a lack of inertia at the moment and also feel the pull of two "worlds" at the same time which makes a lot of this stressful and hard.

One the one hand, I want to be self sufficient with a garden, with home defense, with items at the ready should the world end etc. But if I were to tell my family and friends that I was storing seeds I know I would suddenly become the "odd" duck. I've put out feelers and certainly no one feels the same way about self sufficiently, eating local or prepping.

The other hand, I want to plan for a trip to Disneyworld. I want to live as if there will always be cheap energy and cheap oil and money and food will always be plenty. It's so nice to play like that. But as soon as I get a little money saved toward that goal I worry that I should be focusing that money on other self sufficient items.

It's rough.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Vegetables - or are they fruits?

So last night I could no longer put off harvesting two of my tomatoes as they were a beautiful, bright red which meant they were calling to me "PICK ME NOW! TURN ME INTO GUACAMOLE WITH A NICE AVOCADO!"

They are loud tomatoes. It's the red.

So I picked two of them and a large cucumber. I was hoping to extend my cucumber picking a little longer but this one was good sized and it looked like my cucumber plant was struggling to grow others while providing for this monster.

That is TOTALLY not an upside down happy face that I can't figure out how to fix.

Okay maybe it is. I put the quarter there in the middle for the "nose" to give you an idea of size. I think I did pretty good overall.

Something about sun ripened, on the vine tomatoes smells so earthy and wonderful.

And now I need an avocado.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Locally Grown

I was driving to work this morning listening to my local NPR station which has a Friday segment called backyard farmers. It's one of my favorite programs and one of the main reasons I tune in Friday mornings.

On the way in they talked today about In Season Market which goes beyond, in my opinion. what other local grown vendors do and source their food from no more than 250 miles away. So sometimes they dont have a lot of stuff around although it seems like they are getting more and more stuff week.

They work with local vendors and most of their vendors are found word of mouth. On the NPR program they talked about a lot of their vendors just meeting them at their exits off I-25 to pick up the food for the market.

I'm excited about this store because it shows a lot of what can be provided locally which to me is more important than "organic" because often organic is a buzz word and organic produce from Mexico (or where ever else) still had to burn a lot of oil and energy as well as cause/be a product of question work practices just to get to my table.

Also, food delivery, which is convienent if you can't go to them.

I'm excited about raspberries and beef (not together though). I wanted to plant raspberry bushes this year and it just didn't happen. I also want to buy a whole grass fed cow and store it in my freezer but that is going to take a lot of time and saving to make that happen. In the meantime I can get both at this local store.

I'm putting together a shopping list now for this weekend. At the very least I'd like to get some beef and chicken for dinner next week and maybe some raspberries for canning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Checking in...

I was on vacation for a few days in Alaska with my husband, showing him the sites etc. For me it was a homecoming since I was born and raised in AK. For my first few years we lived out on a cabin in Wrangle-St. Elias National Forest and then later moved to Anchorage (the big city) when I was about 5.

We had a fantastic time and I'll probably post pictures in the next few days.

Something that really stuck out to me though was the temperature difference. Alaska is having a wet summer which happens since it's in the Pacific Northwest and so it's wet and cold this summer. No big deal really except for the first time I really paid attention to how things were growing.

My uncles lettuces were doing great and were colorful and full. But his tomatoes had essentially curled into a ball and while they weren't officially playing dead I would be surprised if they did anything productive in terms of fruit this year.

We stayed at a B&B whose focus was on sustainability (Berry Patch B&B in Seward, AK). She mentioned that her strawberries weren't really coming up and that her crab apple and cherry trees hadn't really flowered this year. She was predicting a less than fruitful season.

That makes me think on climate change and how a true ice age would really affect human food sources. Right now it's almost 100 in Colorado. It's in the high 50's to 60's in AK. My tomatoes are really starting to come in but I have to water almost twice a day to keep my plant from wilting. My uncle will be lucky to get A tomato.

On the other hand I was really surprised at how much actual knowledge about edibles in AK I had. Being raised the way I was for a number of years I was able to talk about wild rhubarb, crow berries, lignonberries, wild raspberries, where we used to pick wild blueberries and even about how Alaskan Roses can be used in a variety of ways from a shot of vitamin C to turning the blossoms into jam etc. I wish I had that knowledge for the place I live now.

It did make me want to purchase a wild edibles book for Colorado. While I am all about stocking up water and some food for a long term storage plan that is not an end all/be all for when the SHTF. While that may last a few days or weeks or even months if I get silly with it, ultimately, knowing what to eat and how to eat it is going to be far more valuable.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Strawberry Jam

When I was going to school and bringing my lunch I often brought a peanut butter and crabapple jelly sandwich. Our landlord, every year, gave us several jars of the stuff and I liked it. My mom went through a phase where she took a personal sabbatical and stayed home while I was in junior high so even something so small as free jelly was one less expense she had to worry about.

While my mother canned many, many, things one of the things I have no memory of her making was jam or jelly. She did pickles. She did green beans. She did spaghetti sauce. But no sweets, no jam or jelly.

With our PYO strawberries (and an assist by organic strawberries from the farmers market because I didn't QUITE have enough) I was able to make strawberry jam.

I had intended to make it with pectin as the Ball recipe gave but found out at 11pm at night that I didn't have lemon juice which was apparently vital to the process. So my choice was to dump the entire vat or find a recipe that didn't deal with pectin. I went with the alternate recipe and so my strawberry jam is VERY sweet, took a LONG time to boil down and tastes just like homemade. Literally.

I was able to can 9 8oz jars of it and have put it away in the "cold cellar" of my basement storage area under the stairs. It's thick, clumpy and delicious.

I'm debating now if I should make more from a different berry, say raspberry when the PYO has those, if I should get some cherries from the farmers market or possibly be REALLY brave and hold out for peaches later this summer. Or scrap it and say "I have 9" and be done with it.

Luckily it's not a decision I need to make at this moment but I have to tell you, that feeling of accomplishment is something I don't think I can beat any time soon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Alternatively titled: Thank goodness I'm not a migrant worker

Saturday I took my 5 year old, my mother in law and myself to a Pick Your Own strawberry farm about 30-45 minutes from our house.

The berries were, of course, pick your own and $2.60 a pound.

I spent about an hour and a half out there picking, with help of course, and can't help but think, what a very middle class thing to be doing. To be paying for the privilege of picking my own berries when out in the world, the strawberries in my grocery store could very well (and probably were) picked by Mexican migrant workers.

My back ached and I got sunburned and I was only out there for 90 minutes max. I was hot, sweaty and at the end a little light headed. I honestly said, out loud, "Thank God I don't have to do that for a living."

While we were out there we did meet a toadally sweet Toad who was working very hard in the fields as well catching bugs.

The place we went was certified organic which I didn't know until we were there. It was nice but I gotta say, it looks like they need more toads. A lot of the berries had been dined on by bugs and so it was a lot harder to pick than I initially anticipated.

The berries were small, much smaller than what you get at your local grocery store and that of course was expected.

In the end our 90 minutes of not so much constant picking yielded about 4 lbs of strawberries.

More importantly we had a good time and at least for me, it really highlighted how much work we DON'T do to provide the food that we consume.

I'll detail later what I did with the strawberries because I'm pretty proud of it both because I picked the berries by hand and also because it was my first experiment.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fail fail fail

So after getting the basement closet MOSTLY cleaned out I have STILL not managed to purchase the water needed to go into it. It's depressing.

I also have not made much headway on the landscaping in front of the house. Also depressing. It's been oppressively hot and that, coupled with the fact that I was studying for my professional certification exam have put me behind schedule everywhere.

This weekend the plan is to go to a PYO strawberry farm and attempt to pick, well, strawberries, if they haven't been cleaned out yet. I'm hoping to make some strawberry jam this summer and it would be great if I could manage it from a PYO since my strawberries seem to have stopped bearing.

My tomatoes however are setting fruit nicely and at least one Roma plant has 4 small green lumps forming. It continues to do better than my Topsy Turvy tomato plant.

My pea plant, the last survivor, has been slowly decimated by an unseen pest. I did manage to find a lone green caterpillar last week and moved it off the pea plant but yesterday discovered what appeared to be a discarded cocoon between some leaves so either he came back or his sibling was still there and I never found them. I harvested 7 pea pods yesterday but I think I may have left them too long on the plant to actually BE edible. I'm trying to leave a few pods on there to seed save for next year and my understanding is that they need to dry completely on the vine.

Cucumbers have SHOT up in the last week and while I still do not see any flowers I am starting to see a bunch of new growth and tendrils. The onions are still not large, not much larger than the sets I started with, as best I can tell, but their stalks are starting to fall over. Not sure why but I will leave them in the ground as long as I can.

So there is my update.

We plan to set up a raised bed next year for me. While I love my containers, if I am to grow any real quantity of anything I need more room and currently I wont get that from my containers. So I think next year we will do maybe an 8ft x 4 ft raised bed to accommodate those items that I want a quantity of such as the peas, tomatoes and cucumbers. I can also see re purposing the containers to grow more items but not having to combine multiple plants into the same container like I tried this year. Specifically I can see potatoes in my future with one of my containers.

I will say that while it is only late June I still feel like I have learned so much about plants and gardens already.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Continuing with goals

I finally have the majority of the under-the-stairs closet cleared out and am ready to start putting STUFF into it.

My goal is to put the water in there to start and also our BOB's when I get those together. After that work on the pantry aspect of it.

I found a variety of items, many of which made their way to the Goodwill near my mother in laws house.

There is one thing that I found a little disturbing though, as she attempted to help me clean out the closet.

I have a LOT of paint in there. There will be a hazardous waste cleanup in our area in September so for the time being I'm just moving the paint to the garage. But my sweet mother in law kept telling me to keep this paint and keep that paint because you never know....

She's not a hoarder but that is certainly the mentality.

In any case, the paint is going. And soon.

I am pretty excited to be setting up my first official "Storage" area in the house and readying it for "prep". I'll show pictures when I finally have something to show.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Practical Skills

Today I read THIS blog post by one of my favorite Sustainability bloggers Wendy (who occasionally comments on this blog).

I have much to say on the subject and was just going to respond in her comments but decided to instead write this here.

I hated high school. HATED it. Passion of a thousand firey sun hated it. I hated chemistry, hated geometry, hated second semester of Algebra. Loved other subjects but was bored in most of them. But I couldn't drop out because I was white, middle class and expected to go to college. Which I did eventually do and I have a Bachelors to prove it.

I got pregnant my sophomore year. I was so OVER high school and had high ideals of what life would be like for me if I could just start LIVING already.

About 2 months into my pregnancy I happily chose to move over to our local "pregnant girl school" which was called Crossroads.

I had been taking Advanced English, Advanced History, Chemistry, Geometry, Personal Finance, gym, & had just started home economics but I don't actually remember doing anything in the class.

When I moved I began taking Children's Classics, Social Studies, Computers, Maternal Health, Personal Finance and other stuff I can't remember. (Cut me some slack, that was 15 years ago)

The glaring difference in the teaching styles between the two schools was, in one, it as all very abstract and I couldn't see how any of it mattered or applied at the "regular" high school. At Crossroads all of the subject matter (except I suppose for computers at the time) was practical, hands on, must have skills knowledge and it had to be tailored to fit 100 girls whose ages ranged from 12-19, who were in different grade levels, learning levels and had only pregnancy as the common thread. Oh and there were only 2 and a HALF teachers.

I learned all about my pregnancy, the baby, birth, labor and exercise and health through my maternal health class. I was better prepared than some adult women I've known in my lifetime.

Personal finance is the class that I always brag about though. In high school is was gear towards a macro economic learning model. At Crossroads I learned how money applied practically in my world.

Our Public School system forced the girls at Crossroads to clock in and out each day. Our instructors used this to a)prove we were there and b) pay us in pretend money.

It worked like this:
At the start of the school year we had to find a job that we would be qualified for, assuming we had graduated high school, and present it to our lead instructor. She would then interview us like a real job interview. We would get the job (or not and have to start over) and would receive a rate of pay. At the end of the week we received "paychecks" based on the number of hours we had been at school previously. The rate of pay was either stating in the job listing or she took an average of what the job paid.

We had to find an apartment and present it to her and fill out a rental application and fake rental agreement.

We opened fake bank accounts and had fake checks printed for us. We had checklists of bills we needed to pay and had to pay them each week. We had to reconcile our checkbooks. We had to pay bills we received from the lead teacher for electricity, gas and water (if it wasn't' included in our rental agreement). We had to pay for at least a bus token to show how we would get to and from work and had to figure out the bus schedules.

We had to make a menu for the month and it was based on flyer's from the grocery stores. We had to present them and if they did not meet the food pyramid they were reject or received a less than passing score.

That course taught me how to file my taxes when we had a real tax preparer come in and discuss it with us.

We consistently had guest speakers come in to give tips on how to interview for jobs, how to open a bank account, how to apply for public assistance (if needed), explain what the process was for food stamps or WIC, discuss nutrition and how to cook. (I didn't learn that, sadly, until much later). We had people from Job Corp come talk to us about their program, we had parenting coaches, we had real world situations to deal with.

My final semester in the school (last semester of my junior year) I WAS the bank for the personal finance program. I entered the checks the other students had written in their "bank accounts". I printed pay checks and distributed them based on the calculations from their time cards. I loved it.

That school was not college prep in any sense of the word. The teacher was very frank with me and told me their GOAL was to send out girls who were prepared to take care of their children. If they graduated from HIGH SCHOOL it was a resounding success. Of the girls that graduated from the school the same year I did (5), only 2 of us went to college. Another went back several years later. Only one has her bachelors, one has her associates. The other dropped out after her first semester. I've been told by that same teacher that 40% attendance to college is amazing and most years they don't have any that go.

It's not quite the same as the real world skills that Wendy talks about, growing food, fixing your own home or equipment.

But it's a glimpse into how schooling COULD be. It could be practical and skill focused. It could prepare those that leave it to become productive citizens instantly or at least sooner than those who don't.,

Don't mistake me, I don't have a problem with someone going to college and majoring in ANYTHING and getting a degree and I expect it of my children if that's their calling.

But if you can't balance a checkbook no amount of money is going to really be a support to you and you're never going to have a real appreciation for it. I suspect the same will be said about food soon but in a more dramatic fashion. If you can't grow your own food you wont have enough time to appreciate the skill it takes to grow it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Goals List

This is my list for the next two weeks:

1. Completely clean the storage under the stairs. Currently residing under there are a number of cans of paint, at least 1 cooler, some pictures of my ex husband and I and 1 half of a closet door, the bi-fold kind. I don't know where the other half is. I need to learn how to dispose of paint.

2. Store 15 gallons of water based on the calculation of 1 gallon per person per day for minimum of 3 days. This means I need approximately 28 2 liters of water if I go that route.

3. Store 1 bottle of bleach. Can be a small bottle but it is for water purification. My whites are white enough, thankyouverymuch.

4. Store at least 2 items to flavor the water. Initially I said containers of either Tang or Kool Aid but upon reflection, I have a bunch of Crystal light containers of flavoring that can do a gallon at a time I believe. So I will store of of those to handle some of the water flavoring. I just need to figure out how to keep that organized.

This should be completed by 6/18/10 and I will post pictures and updates for accountability.

Something to ponder...

For the previous two weeks we had a bit of a plumbing snafu that really made me reflect and think on our sustainability lifestyle I'm attempting.

Everytime we did a load of laundry our laundry room flooded.

Now, this does tend to happen once a year or so in the spring because of the age of the pipes under the house and roots getting into them. My dear father in law brought over his snake and he and the husband took off the toilet in the basement and snaked it, dragging up a decent set of roots in the process.

So we did some more laundry.

And the laundry room (which is in the basement) flooded. Again.

So husband searched and plumbed. He poured copious amounts of draino like substances down the drain in the laundry room itself. He plunged. He messed with pipes and water and spent a silly amount of time in the water heater room next to the laundry room trying to fix it.

And we still flooded.

We are a household of 5, including 1 6 month old, so going without laundry is tough. We managed to do very small loads without flooding the laundry room but when I say small loads we are talking about 5-8 pieces of laundry at a time. That is not efficient for time management to say the least.

As we worked and struggled to keep from paying a ridiculous amount of money for a plumber I wondered to myself how we would do laundry in a, say, post peak oil world. I mean, the CONCEPT of putting clothing in a bucket of water and scrubbing it together is not foreign, and I can envision that concept but what about putting that into practice. What about laundry detergent? Of course I can dry items outside, not that I have a clothes line, but what about the AMOUNT of clothing we have? I mean, if 5-8 items per load isn't cutting it, how often would I have to do laundry by hand and how relative is clean in that situation?

Lots to ponder.

In the end we called a plumber who charged $260 for 15 minutes worth of work. The OTHER drain in the laundry room was clogged with lint and despite every effort to push it out, we failed.

Stings a little bit, I'm not going to lie.

But it gives me more to ponder.

Perhaps later this year or next year my goal will be to move towards hygiene issues without electricity.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Simple Joys

Sometimes I just gotta remember to stop and play.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Today as I was gazing at the front of my house which used to contain dreaded, overgrown, juniper bushes I was giddy. I had so much room, so many plans. I think I can add this, what about adding that?

The plan remains to make it an herb garden with both medicinal as well as kitchen herbs but I think I have enough room and enough sun to possibly add one or two plants.

The problem now lies in deciding which.

The debate is this...I would love to can my own tomato sauce this year but lack the number of tomato plants to make that a reality from my own garden. Not a huge deal of course, I can buy tomatoes from a grocery store or farmers market. But I love the IDEA of getting them from my own garden if I could manage it.

I have 2 Roma tomatoes (good for paste making such as in tomato sauce) and I have a few sprouted from seed tomatoes, both cherry (not good for sauce) and "regular" that are growing, albeit, not as full or as nicely as the Roma's I bought at the garden center down the road.

With the room in the front I could easily stick another tomato plant or two in there amongst the herbs no problem.

OR... I could plant something entirely different. I could plant some watermelons or squash since I have all that room or we could do 2 tire rings or mounds of potatoes. I feel giddy and overwhelmed with my choices!

I don't have to decide today luckily. We have probably 2 weekends worth of work that needs to happen BEFORE we can even begin to plant anything.

But I am having visions of cone flowers, rosemary and verbana dancing in my head.....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garden update

I didn't realize it had been so long since i last posted. My bad.

My container garden continues to thrive. We recently harvested 4 strawberries and a few more are ready to be plucked tonight or tomorrow. I also got (and ate) our first sugar snap pea. It was wonderful.

So wonderful I ate it off the vine essentially. Pod and all.

For some reason my blue berry bush was yanked out of it's pot last night though. Normally I blame it on the dogs but I honestly can't understand why they would constantly sneak under the huge tomato cage I have set in the pot to yank the blue berry bush out. I'm beginning to wonder if I might have another pest of some sort destroying my bushes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another positive of growing your own

Pesticides tied to ADHD

The article does point out that the pesticides don't cause ADHD. There seems to be a link, the study needs to be replicated etc., etc., etc.

Specifically the Dr interviewed for the article suggests, in this order, going organic, buying at farmers' markets and washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them.
She does not suggest growing your own.

I understand why. That seems odd to the general populace, that you could just grow your own fruits and vegetables and thereby control what you are consuming, as least as much as you humanly can. But it CAN be done!

My evidence:

Now, I know what you're thinking. 3 berries Suburbanite Mom. Smallish, odd shaped berries at that.

I know. But check out the look on my Berry Harvester's face:

She looks pretty pleased with herself doesn't she? She wanted to eat them for breakfast but I didn't have time this morning to stop and assist with the slicing of our "bounty" so she decided to wait until after school today to snack on them.

Also, please keep in mind, these were harvested on May 16th. They were selected because they are the only red ones we currently have. We have at least 2 more ripening and a pinkish hue and I have both Everbearing and June strawberry plants in my containers.

I think one of the biggest obstacles in the years post-TEOTWAWKI will be getting used to not having summer year round available in the grocery store. It will be a lifestyle where you accept that you can not have strawberries in December (at least where I live) and that when you DO have strawberries, they will be as treats and in small portions, not in gorge yourself style. Finally, we will have to get used to seeing foods as they really are and not genetically engineered into perfection, such as my funky shaped strawberries show.

It did dawn on me though, as awesome as my strawberry container is it will never actually yield a true amount that my family and I could consume or store on a meaningful level.

As much as I love container gardening, the more I get "into" gardening and preparation and sustainable living, the more I crave a REAL garden and not just containers scattered around the backyard.

Sadly, I don't think the dogs will let that be a reality for the time being. *sigh*

Also, the great bush pullout (that sounds so wrong) of 2010 in my front yard did NOT happen on Saturday. Instead it is scheduled to happen tomorrow. And all of the junipers in my front yard are coming out, not just the main massive one. YAYAYAYAYAY!

So hopefully next weekend will be filled with soil tilling, raking and planting, along with some mulching.

Last garden update (I swear), I planted my tomato plants yesterday. I planted one regular sized tomato in a Topsy Turvy (my gardening Aunts swear by those things) and then I planted 3 in a container. They are all home grown from seed and frankly, a little spindly looking. Keep your fingers crossed for me and those tomatoes as I have high hopes for tomato sauce this fall.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Future home of our herb garden

This is one of my many monsters around my house, known as Juniper Bushes.

I have never liked them and it has always been on my list of things to do, to rip these out.

This year we decided to get serious and just do it.

We spent about 3 hours on Saturday cutting, trimming and at one point, chainsawing those things trying to get them out but we were experiencing massive FAIL.

We manager to trim down 1 of the bushes (the pile you see to your right) but the root system is immense and deep so I did what any exhausted Suburbanite would do.

I called a landscaper.

I explained my issue and while the first 2 places I called were each booked for 2 straight weeks I was able to get someone to just come and pull those things out next Saturday morning. I am excited.

Our plans post bush removal include turning over the dirt, amending as needed (we have very clay like soil) and planting an herb garden there. I am aiming for both medicinal as well as kitchen herbs.

My list of "would like" includes:

I just need to make sure that these items will grow together well and also make sure they will fit in the space.

I'm also thinking of throwing in some lettuces since that area gets a limited amount of direct sunlight .

I can not wait for Sunday!

Monday, May 10, 2010


I may have mentioned I'm a planner. I like lists. I need them to keep me on track. That's the general purpose of this blog is to keep me on track and focused.

The other night my husband and I were having a talk and he said he felt like I didn't have a specific, attainable goal in mind with all the prep talk. (Also, this stuff is such a downer)

So I really thought about achievable goals and I am going to list them here.

1. Organize pantry - be brutal.
No more cake mix that I might make some day. No more cans of food that someone gave me when they were moving and I have just held on to them. No more stocking up on stuff with a quickly approaching expiration date.

I want to have 6-12 months of storage on hand but I want to rotate it out so it doesn't get stale. This means gutting what I currently have and organizing it in a way that will make rotation easier. Husband says he will help.

2. Learn to cook.
Okay, I already KNOW how to cook. On a stove. With electricity and a can opener. I don't always know how to make things from scratch. In the event of prolonged electricity loss I need to know how to create things from scratch over an alternative fuel source.

This means I will learn how to boil water and cook food at a minimum on our outdoor grill and preferable over an open fire. I made need a camping Dutch Oven. (Psst -makes a great post Mother's Day gift)

Also this little item would make a great wedding anniversary gift sweetie. Just sayin'.

3. Learn to grow
I do not have any worries about my onions. It looks like we will have 6 good sized ones when the garden is done. And I have 3 pinkish looking strawberries so far and 1 sugar snap pea pod. My cucumbers however, are suffering and I still haven't planted my tomatoes. I tried to harden them off and they started to turn yellowy brown.

I would like to work more on my herb garden as well. To that end we are pulling out (or having pulled out) the massive Juniper bushes in my front yard and putting in a butterfly/herb garden. And maybe some lettuce.

4. Learn to save.
Even if my garden does NOT produce huge quantities of food this year I plan to learn how to save what we like to eat so that when it DOES get going I can save it all.

To this end I'm getting canning supplies and am determined to learn how to can tomato sauce this year as well as some of of fruit preserving. And applesauce although truthfully, I've canned applesauce before. That wasn't so bad.

5. Relax.
I need to make a massage appointment. You know, for my health.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How much?

So my last post showed my little garden in containers and isn't it so cute hahahaha...

I realize that this year, that garden doesn't matter. It's cute. It's a learning curve.

After I posted that I started thinking about just how BIG a garden I will need.

After food is too expensive to buy or doesn't arrive at all by truck. Be it through Peak Oil, societal breakdown or pandemic or EPM (which OMG THAT'S a scary thought!) or whatever, how much would I actually need to grow to feed my family.

I broke it down in my mind in terms of spaghetti.

Specifically sauce.

Because I know that tomato sauce can be canned. I can add stuff to it and make it into spaghetti sauce either pre or post canning. So how much of THAT do I need?

On a very boring year my family probably eats a tomato based dish at least once a week. Usually spaghetti. Your average spaghetti sauce jar (or can if your thrifty) has about 14 oz in it. My family usually adds hamburger but we are not including that in this experiment.

A Pint is 16 ounces so that is what I would use were I home canning my own sauce. That would feed my family of 4 just barely. When the youngest child starts eating real food we would be hard pressed.

Of course we could bulk it up with veggies. But again, I'm JUST looking at my basic sauce.

To create 9 pints of thin sauce would take somewhere between 20-30lbs of tomatoes for thin sauce. Plus possibly 2 onions and garlic and herbs. Those are a must for my canned sauce. Lets say that for 9 pints I'm only going to use 3-4 heads of garlic which I honestly think is very low based on the recipes I've read.

Your average tomato plant, properly cared for and in ideal conditions will yield 10-15lbs of tomatoes. For my math lets go on the worst case scenario of the best case scenario and say 10lbs per plant.

I'm SURE once the SHTF or whatever happens will be ideal growing conditions for my tomatoes, no drought, perfect sunlight etc. /sarcasm

So to feed my family for 9 meals I need 2-3 plants growing in pretty decent conditions PLUS I need to provide at least 2 good sized onions and 3-4 heads of garlic.

Let's make the math bigger. I need 52 jars of the stuff for our once a week meal.

52 weeks / 9 pints = 5.77 batches of sauce

5.77 x 3 tomato plants = 17.33 (let's round up to 18)

PLUS I'll need 11.5 onions (good sized) and 23 heads of garlic.

That's just for 52 meals!

That does NOT include the actual pasta or rice or whatever I'm putting the sauce on.

PLUS - if want to extend the sauce, give it some more nutrition, I need peppers, celery, mushrooms (as if I would chance that at this point) and we haven't even accounted for how many herbs I'm going to need to grow which include basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano to start with.

Then comes my biggest hurdle. My family is not an island.

We have family. Specifically we have my MIL & FIL plus my SIL, her husband and their two children.

I am a bleeding heart liberal. I could not let them starve.

Also, we live in a neighborhood. My neighbor to my left has at least 4 children that I know of. They are my middle child's closest friends. What would I do if they were hungry? Would I let small children starve?

The idea of growing the majority of my own family's food is daunting. Feeding our mildly extended family is concerning. Feeding those who I couldn't let starve? Anxiety producing - it makes me wanna cry.

Logically - I know I can't feed them all. I just can't. I can grow extra, give seeds etc. but as most gardeners know, you have a learning curve the first few years you start gardening. Can you imagine the stress and the steep learning curve if you were trying to feed your family and had no preparation?

I sure hope Survival Dad is buying a few rounds of ammo, just in case I guess.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I'm a planner

By nature, I'm a planner. I love lists. LOVE them. Borders on obsession occasionally.

One of my most successful jobs was when I was a wedding planner.

I belong to my local PTO and they adore my efforts because I am a PLANNER. Plans. Planning. Plan-diddy-plan-plan.

I have a budget. It used to go out for 2 years and included things like merit increases and changes in health care (both of which were always whatever would negatively affect me the most i.e. higher health care costs, no merit increase etc.) but I've whittled it down to just a year ahead.

I have yearly financial goals because I should have been in accounting instead of HR but I'm excellent with people.

I make grocery lists and meal plans and follow them pretty strictly.

I have a plan for retirement and I evaluate it and update it regularly.

Prepping (as I have discovered that it is called) is just another plan for me. And I love it. And it can feel overwhelming sometimes but so can planning Muffins with Mom or 20 years of not working.

Ask me about how many hours I spent planning our trip to Mexico for my 30th birthday sometime. It's embarrassing.

My husband is not. He likes to throw stuff in the cart. He likes to wing it. He trusts that everything will work out.

Obviously his life is much less stressful than mine.

We are a fantastic complement to each other. He reminds me to take things easy, slow down, and that not everything needs to be planned. I make sure there is food in the house aside from cereal and cookies.

I'm working on making my backyard (and eventually the front yard) work a little better for me.

The plan is to have green grass in the middle. I know, I know, wasteful, pointless, etc. Whatever. I have kids and dogs and live in suburbia. Plus having the un-blocked space heats the kitchen to incredibly warm degrees regardless of the weather.

It's the sides that are causing us some issues.

I want to line the side of the backyard with trees. Right now we have some lilacs and various bushes that serve no real purpose. I want to plant two apple trees this year, rip out some shrubs and plant some raspberry bushes. I would also love to add two cherry trees next year and perhaps a strawberry raised bed.

My husband, not so much. He doesn't want the trees. They'll make more work for us with their leaves and stuff falling onto the ground. He doesn't want to attract bugs. His mothers back yard is very reminiscence of an English Garden/Secret Garden and he hates it.

Additionally, we don't plan to live here forever. We would like to move to a house in a few years that better meets our needs and the needs of our family and our current house isn't it. So why put in tall the time and effort into a place that I wont live at in 5 or so years?


That's one of my biggest issues with the planning. I'm planning for a what if. A most likely but unknown time frame. The what if ranges from total societal breakdown to high fuel costs limiting food availability. So do I plan now and if so, how far out do I plan.

I need a drink.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mayday Garden Update

Here is a little better representation of what I have going on with my container garden.

You see the three larger containers to the left, three in the middle of those are 3 smaller terra cotta containers and to the left are two more terra cotta containers.

The terra cottas in the front of the larger containers, 2 contain more strawberry plants and the third contains Catmint. It helps keep ants at bay.

Over to the left, those two terra cotta containers contain spearmint and peppermint. Those also keep ants away which is why they are placed so close to the door.

Here is our gazebo. Survival Dad made the door to it and on either side are blueberry blushes, in containers.

All large containers have huge tomato cages to protect them from the dogs.

And despite it being only May 2nd AND Colorado experiencing some cold temperatures and even snow in the last month I present some encouraging items:

Green strawberries

My first pea pod on my tallest sugar snap pea plant.

Radishes whose seeds apparently survived Molly's vicious digging a few weeks ago.

One of my yellow onions that I planted from set and had to save from Molly's digging twice.

Make no mistake, I know this garden wouldn't say, feed us for a winter (or even a summer), I'm just getting a feel for how to grow things and what items work where etc.

My next planting will be my tomatoes which I plant to try in a variety of ways including using a Topsy Turvy and more traditional caged methods. I'll let you know how that works out.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Wendy suggested (OMG I had a reader and she commented twice and my husband thought I had lost my mind when I saw that because I ran around the house giggling for like 20 minutes) in my comments that I focus on one thing as we begin our Survival Journey and she suggested what my gut already knew.

There is just too much and I feel manic when I try and get it all straight and organized in my head. I can not accomplish total survival mode in a year. I just can't.

Or even 2 really. So please, as our Mayan guide told us in Chichen Itza, do not let the world end on 12/21/12 because I will SO not be ready.

I am going to focus on food. This will be a slow process of course but my main focus will be learning to grow it, store it (including drying and canning) and introducing it into our diets.

My kids will eat more vegetables than my husband or I currently do so this will be a challenge. I hope he's up for it.

Currently my container garden holds:
Sugar Snap Peas
Yellow Onions
Blueberries (if the dogs would stop digging it up)
Radishes (I'm actually waiting to see if those sprout)

Yet to be planted are tomatoes, both Cherry and regular as well as some more cucumber plants and some jalapeno peppers.

I need to still start my bell peppers as well. And I want some apple trees. And raspberry bushes.

This is more than I had initially planned and I'm already learning some valuable lessons such as chicken wire for garden fencing in case of dogs.

I didn't focus this year on open-pollinating seeds or heirlooms because at the time, I just didn't know how important those would be.

Next year that will be more of my focus. Acquiring those and learning to seed save from those plants.

This year I want to learn to can. I have a basic idea of how to can applesauce so I'll try that on my own. I would also like to make a tomato sauce or salsa and can it. And finally some fruit leather made either in the oven or in the sun.

I also need to learn how to incorporate more of our home grown and local food into our diet. I'll start with our farmers market and see, with the help of my children, what we can move to.

A small goal also will be ongoing and that will be to acquire 1-2 books a year on this homesteading/survival situation.

Not surprisingly I think a book on either growing food in a small space or storing the food will be a top priority.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My garden

I have a known talent in my family. I'm known for killing green things. I generally can't keep a plant alive in my house to save my life. Normally it's from overwatering as opposed to under but sometimes it's just my brown thumb.

This year though, I made a decision that I wanted to be able to grow and can some of my family's food. I bought magazines, read the internet and thought long and hard about how and what I wanted to plant and grow.

We have 2 dogs so a traditional garden plot was out of the question for this year. While ultimately I would like to plant fruit bearing trees and bushes in the perminter of the yard for our use and consumption, I want the dogs to have as much yard as possible for playing, running and being, well, dogs.

So I opted to do container gardening this year. I figured it would keep me small because once you start gardening it's easy to get excited about seed packets and small green shoots and reall over commit yourself and kill everything while you are learning.

My first container I planted sugar snap peas that I had grow from seeds, plus 2 more seeds, just in case these failed since I was planting them at the begining of April and we could (and have) still had frost and snow this month.

I also planted carrots and rosemary, sage and chives in that same container in a circle pattern in accorance to companion planting information. I also put together a bamboo tripof for the peas to climb and so far things seem to be going great in that pot. I am starting to finally see carrot seeds spouting.

My second container I dedicated to strawberries so I bought two different kinds. One is a big ever bearing variet and the other is a smaller, low lying variety. The big ones already are begining to spout berries and if everything goes well we should have a nice, albeit small, strawberry crop this year.

My third container I didn't plant until 2 weeks ago. In it I put the only surviving cumumber plant that I raised from seed, two other piles of cucumber plants, one specifically for pickling, radishes, white onions i had raised from seed and yellow onion "sets" or starters. I have watered them, loved them and checked on them. I have covered them with the plant blanket when there was a chance of frost or snow and have whispered to each and every one of my plants.

And then Saturday one of the dogs got into the container with the cucumber and onions and dug it all up.

I wanted to kill her. The rage is my wanted to choke the very life from her. My babies were destroyed. I leave an entire yard and this dog felt like she was totally cool just digging into my 32 inches of space.

This is the same dog that I suspect dug out my blueberry bushes. Three times. This is the same dog that eats crap that isn't food but instead chews on books, tin cans, diapers and box tops for education.

I stood outside in the chilly night air with the deck light and a flash light digging in the wet uprooted earth and recovered my poor cucumber plant and 3 onions. I replanted what I could and told my husband to take the dog somewhere else.

Instead he told me no. He told me I couldn't kill the dog (at no time did I seriously want him to kill the dog and when I felt that rage I got awat from her) or even hit her. That that wasn't the woman he married and he would leave me.

So the dog redug out everything I planted at midnight. She did it sometime between 3 and 8:30am.

My husband doesn't care.

He chose the dog over me.

He chose the dog over my hard work, my hours of effort.

He chose the dog over what I consider the stepping stone to being totally prepared in case the world as we know it ends.

He chose the dog over our food safety.

And it stings. And I'm hurt.

And no matter how much he tells me now that he chooses me first, I don't believe him. If he chose me first that dog would not have had the ability to redig up my container. It would not have had the ability to destroy every shred of food safety and self reliance that I felt.

We had rigged large tomatoe cages at my Mother in laws idea and insistance and I am grateful because I was just so devasted I couldn't put my heart into working on it anymore.

But I dont want to touch the dog. As far as I am concerned she is a destroyer. And I can't even look at my husband. He cares more for the dog than for humans in my mind.

And I dont know how to deal with that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I am preparing for and what I need

In my fantasy world my family and I would move to a cabin/home in the semi-wilderness with about 5 acres of land. The house would be completely self-sufficient meaning wood burning oven, fireplace, well, composting toilets, root cellar, etc. BUT, we would also have solar and wind power for things like television, movies, computer, etc. That way when the shit hits the fan, as it were, we would be self sufficient and wouldn't suffer from the meltdown that society will experience.

We would have a garden that the entire family would work from, we would have a small farm yard, mostly chickens, maybe a milking cow (assuming someone has a bull down the road for pregnancy) and some goats.

If I win the lotto that will be a top priority.

However, I live in the real world. I have children that need a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and the History Channel. (Okay that's for me)

I also like my job, my profession. I want to work outside the home when feasible and possible.

I live in suburbia and I have friends and family. I don't need them seeing my "crazy" as I call it when it comes to this stuff and I don't want jokes about tinfoil hats or doomsday prophecy.

So...what am I preparing for?

I believe that a global meltdown is inevitable in the very near future. I predict it will be economic. But it could very well be caused by a biological agent such as a pandemic that decimates the worlds population leading to a complete shutdown of society as we know it.

Is that the psycho shower scene music playing in the background?

Anyways, I want to be ready if that happens.

I don't want to try and figure out how to cook for my family for the first time when the power goes out.

I don't want to worry about how to maintain household hygiene after the place is a mess and the water is scarce.

I don't want to worry about where to get food or the danger of trying to loot a grocery store if we run out.

I don't want to worry about security in those kinds of times. (I've turned that over to Survival Dad though. He heard guns and security and was good to go.)

I don't want to worry about drinking water in desperate times.

I don't want to worry about food storage and nutrition.

So - really this blog is for me.

I have so many things and ideas and needs that I want to get in order. This blog is to help me with that.

I need to learn how to garden.

I need to learn how to cook from scratch. And over a camp fire, wood stove or fireplace flame. None of which I have on hand.

I need to learn basic medical safety and guidelines and gather the materials necessary should I need them.

I need to learn how to can and dry food.

I need to teach myself how to eat better.

I need to learn how to become less reliant on fossil fuels and more reliant on natural energy.

I need to be debt free.

I need to learn how to entertain my family when there is no tv, iPhone or electronics.

I need skillz yo.

How the mighty have fallen

2 generations ago, both sides of my family farmed.

Not like that was their livelihood, as I understand it, it was not. But it was their main source of food.

My maternal grandparents lived on that "farm" for many years and raised 6 children in a 3 bedroom home that is smaller than the top half of my home now.

They raised chickens and crops specifically for their family and not for selling. My grandfather was a mechanic in the ore beds of Northern Minnesota. (So Northern they sound like Canadians, eh?) My grandmother tended the children and tended the home. They grew, they canned and they lived on very little.

When I was growing up in the big city my Mother still managed to can pickles, spagetti sauce, beans and peas. That's just what I remember. The older I got, the more she canned so for all I know she was canning everything she can get her hands on. I moved out when I was 18 and she died when I was 26. I wasn't interested in canning or gardening so I learned nothing from her in that regard. I am so very sad and sorry for that now.

When I was small though she did have her own garden way out in the middle of nowhere, where we lived at the time. I remember it as huge but I was also at most 5. But she would sit hours and hours in her garden pulling weeks and I would made mud pies with the weeds and weed houses and weed hills and weed..well, you get the idea. She also had a greenhouse and still today when I smell a growing tomato plant I think of that greenhouse.

Today, neither my husband not myself could tell you where our food comes from. Other than the grocery store. We are both very picky eaters (something unheard of in my mothers formative years) and we neither of us like vegetables. I am unsure that my 5 year old would know a chicken if she saw one.

I feel like we are the norm. We are an example of what American society has become and I'm worried for us.

So I'm working to garden and learn about where my food comes from again. I'm working to change the complancency in my children and also in myself.

I still like soda though.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who am I?

When I was a child I briefly lived in a flood zone in Texas. Every time it would rain hard or there was a flood warning I would panic and tie my stuffed animals to my body. All of them. I would pile them in the bed and sleep with as many of them as I could get gripped tightly in my arms so as not to lose them.

I wasn't being selfish and not wanting to give up my toys. In my 6-7 year old mind my stuffed toys were counting on me to protect them. They were helpless (you know, because they aren't alive and stuff) and I needed to save them in case we were caught in a flood.

I did not count on my mother or grandparents protecting me in the floor. I was completely confident in my swimming abilities (I shouldn't have been) and I knew I would be okay in the way that every child believes they are invincible. But my children could not fend for themselves, they could not look after themselves and so they needed me. And I was committed to protecting them.

I see bad things happening every day in the world. I knew the housing boom had to bust. I know credit isn't a cure all. I've seen disasters happening on the movie screen and real life.

I believe that there will come a time very soon that we as a society will be rocked so hard that we will be forced back to basics and will only have ourselves to depend on. I want to prepare for that day.

But I am a city girl. Granted, when I was VERY young we lived in a cabin in the middle of nowhere until I was 5. But once that lifestyle stopped it completely stopped and I became familiar with the creature comforts of running water (of all temperatures), flushing toilets and grocery stores.

I still like those things. I still want to be able to watch my movies and play with my iPhone. I want to take a hot shower and grocery shop at 11pm. BUT, I also want to be prepared in case I can't do any of those things.

This blog will document my journey as I learn skills for surviving in case the world as we know it comes to an end.

I have 3 children, a husband, 2 dogs and a cat. Plus we have family members in the area. I need to plan for all of them to depend on me in our home in case of emergency.