Sunday, August 28, 2011

My how they grow fast.

Ok,I can't seem to sleep,so I might at well do something somewhat useful and give you guys a real update on here.It's 4:30 a.m. and I been awake for half an hour with acid reflux,so rather than sitting on the couch miserably waiting for my insides to settle,I'm going to update you on the rabbit project.

Our buck has grown HUGE since we got him in the beginning of July,and at nearly 10 lbs,he's ready to start earning his keep,but we still need to get a doe the proper age/size as the two little ones we brought home the other day will not be old enough/big enough to breed until next spring if they do grow big enough at all.

We're going on Tuesday to pick up the fourth and final(for now anyway) addition to our rabbitry,a purebred New Zealand doe that is about the same age as our buck,and is ready to be bred.

If we were organized enough,we could have the first litter in just a few weeks,well before it gets too cold out,but the old shed still needs to be redone,and a trip to Home Depot is a must.The doors need fixed/replaced and there is a hole in one of the walls.

I wanted to post a photo update for you so you can see where we are in this little project,but for some reason Blogger is not uploading my images today.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I haven't been slackin' just busy.

I haven't had enough time to sit still long enough to update my little blog here.We've been super busy with the garden harvest,getting the whole rabbit thing in order,pet sitting on the weekends,and on Tuesday we will be picking up our fourth and final addition to the rabbit family.

I went Wednesday after work to pick up what I thought was just one female rabbit,but when I got there the woman pretty much begged me to take all four of them,two bucks and two does.Well I did...they are not purebred New Zealand,they are a crossbreed,but we'll see how well they grow,they may stay on the small side.....if nothing else they can contribute to the fertilizer needs of the garden,besides,the one little doe likes to be held and cuddled.

We kept one buck and one doe,and a friend of ours took the other buck and doe.So all are in good homes.

In the busiest part of the season that we are going through right now,my dear husband has come down with West Nile Virus,so things have not been normal around here for several days now.

While he is on the mend,it will be several more days before he will be up and around enough to be able to be of any help.So here I am with no extra hand,and running like crazy trying to get everything done in between work shifts.....

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I just got an email from our realtor wishing us a happy anniversary for being in our home for 2 years now.

It got me to thinking about just how far we've come since we changed the path of our lives and decided to pursue something more self reliant and self sufficient.

It seems like I don't really think about it all that much,but when I stop and look or stop to write a few things down,it makes me see just how far have come toward reaching our goal of self reliance.

This all goes back to 2001 or 2002 when we were over 40K in debt(the bad kind)and had nothing to show for it,we were trying hard to keep up a lifestyle for people that made way more money than we probably ever will,and trying hard not to let it show just how bad we were sinking in the sea of debt we had created.

Our "friends" were all the type that made a lot more money than we did,and often let it show that they were taking pity on us for all our bills and not having a lot of extra cash flow.

The final days moving up to where we called it quits,we had numerous falling outs of sorts with these friends,many of whom just didn't see why I felt the need to be so independent,and why I was perfectly fine letting my husband go tromp around the woods for a week during deer season without worrying about where he was or what he was really doing.

They didn't understand why I was ok with having to mow the lawn myself or shovel some snow,or take my own car in to get fixed as needed.I didn't need someone to do all that for me.A husband should be a partner to stand beside you,not someone for you to hide behind.i wasn't raised that way,I wasn't raised to sit back and let the man of the house do everything.

It was around that time,we became so disgruntled with our lives,our selves,and everything around us,that we nearly called it quits....but as fate would have it,we didn't,instead we took a look at how we were living,seeing what we were doing wrong and what it was that was making us so freakin' miserable.

Turns out we didn't need therapy,we didn't need a divorce,what we needed was a lifestyle change.Why were we trying to live a lifestyle for people who made so much more than us? Why were we trying to keep up?

So here we were,strapped with 40k in debts,living in a crappy old mobile home in a crappy old trailer park,barely scraping by working two full time jobs....not having any children,our only dependents were our pets.So why couldn't we pay our bills? Because we were stupid,there,I said it,we were DUMB..

SO,we looked for an answer and found it in a debt repayment program.Sure we could have filed for bankruptcy and probably been able to do so,but WE created those debts,WE spent that money that we didn't WHY would we expect someone else to pay for it all? I have higher standards than that.

There are situations that do call for bankruptcy as the only option,and I really feel for the people who must make that choice,but it wasn't for us.We chose instead to pay it all off,no matter how long it it off we did,slowly,it took us all the way until 2008 to get it all paid down,but we did it.

Something else we did during that time though,was learn,and educate ourselves.We didn't want to go back to living that life again.I learned in that time to sew quilts,cook,can and grow food at home in a container garden on the patio.I had some help from my Mom learning to sew and can,but for the most part it was all hands on learning.

In 2009 we were finally able to realize our dream of home ownership,and purchased our first home.It's not a huge fancy farm out in the middle of nowhere,heck,it's not even a farm,but fate stepped in again and for some reason unknown to us,we are meant to live where we are,in town on our 1 1/2 acre lot,where we've built our raised bed gardens,planted all sorts of fruit bearing trees and shrubs, and vines.
This year has been a lot of work,and hopefully we will be able to see some of the pay off as the trees mature and begin to bear,and shrubs and vines starts to produce,and gardens get better as the years go by.

It's not the lifestyle many of our friends chose,and many of them probably still wouldn't understand,but maybe,just maybe that's why they are no longer a part of our lives.Those that are in our lives now,are there because they accept us for who we are,how we live,and don't expect us to change to fit into their lives.They are the ones who don't think we're nuts for wanting to raise our own meat animals,and fully understand the satisfying kind of tired you feel at the end of a day of working around the house and canning food to fill the pantry with.

But all this goes back to choices,the ones we made those few years ago,and the ones we make now,I can mark this anniversary as one of those milestones in life that marks where the old is gone and the new begins,and the progress we've made in between.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Personal Security.....a fully stocked pantry(part two)

Ok,we talked about how to build up your pantry inventory,now we need to talk about what to do with it.

Hoping that you didn't go out an buy 100 pounds of dry beans your family will never eat,let's talk about meal planning.

In order to cook during an emergency,you need either a camp stove or a grill with at least one side burner for boiling something in a pan.

I have one of these---->

A good camp stove is worth it's weight in gold.They are for the most part simple to use,don't really take up a ton of storage space,and you can get fuel for them at nearly any store(stock up at the end of summer when things go on clearance).I got this one on clearance at Cabelas several months ago,and it's awesome.While you may not need an oven,they do come in handy.

However you don't need anything nearly that fancy,a simple one burner type stove that screws onto the top of a fuel bottle will work too.

Now you have a fully stocked pantry,a means to cook the food,and some water stored.
Don't forget to also stock up on things like medications for your family,pet food for your pets,batteries for flash lights and radios,any other little things you might need to make life more comfortable until the emergency passes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Personal Security.....a fully stocked pantry(part one)

With everything that's going on in the world today,between wars,battles over oil,food recalls and an unstable economy,what does one do exactly to try and protect themselves from what could become another depression,or as many have come to call this The Great Recession?

There are a few steps you can take to protect you and your family.

First I would sit down and have a family meeting,or household meeting,keep everything out in the open,talk about finances,keeping the pantry stocked,who's responsibility it is to do what as far as chores,etc go.IF you are highly invested in the stock market and you're panicking as you watch the prices continue to fall,stop....just stop.....

For safety sake,now might be a good time to talk to an investment specialist,since I am not one,that's the best advice I can give you as far as the stock market goes.

Now,at home,that's a subject I can give some open advice about.

Let's take stock of what you have in the pantry.Get out your pad of paper and a pen or pencil,and make a list of everything you have a full package of in the pantry,cupboards,upstairs,downstairs,where ever you stash your stuff.Don't forget the freezer as well.

Depending on how many people live in your house,your numbers will vary widely.

Now that you've taken an inventory of what you have,let sit down and figure out what you need.The average American household only keeps about a one day supply of food in the house,that needs to change,right now....

Start by making a list of everything that you normally buy(excluding fresh produce and refrigerated items),from applesauce to bottled water and everything in between.List everything,ketchup,toilet paper,batteries.etc..anything you normally purchase on any given shopping trip.

Now take a guess at how many of each item you would normally go through in about six months.This is going to be the starting point for building up your pantry.There is nothing more comforting during an emergency than knowing that you don't need food,water,batteries,etc,etc.

I am not going to tell you to go out right now and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and buy everything you need all in one trip,that would be insane...BUT you need to start building up your pantry.It doesn't matter if you're a pro coupon queen,or just an average shopper,but you need to build up your stash of non perishables(non refrigerated or frozen items),so that you and who ever lives in your house have about enough to get through six months.

To do this,you can simply buy a little extra every time you shop,let's say you need 12 cans of corn,but can only afford 2,so get two,put them in the pantry,and next time get 2 it up as you can without causing any hardships anywhere else in the house.

If you garden,or can/dehydrate foods,that's even better.The sense of comfort that comes from having a pantry well stocked with food you grew yourself is priceless.

I'm keeping away from cold or frozen foods for one major reason,in a power outage,without a generator,you will not be able to keep that stuff cold or frozen for a long term emergency,period.By filling you pantry with canned,or dried foods,you will still be able to sit down to a good meal,and not worry about keeping things cold.If you have a generator,great,but for many it's too costly to be included in the list of needed items.

You also need to keep bottled water on hand,although six months is a little hard to plan,try to store as much as you have space for,figuring on one gallon per person per day....but you also need water to be able to cook and keep clean.In an extended emergency,quite often just being able to stay clean is extremely important,especially if the local water supply has become contaminated.

This post is getting a little long,so we'll stop the lesson here,and continue on in my next post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A constant cycle....what comes from the garden,returns to the garden

What comes from the garden,eventually returns to the garden.

It's that time of year when gardeners are overwhelmed with produce,working hard to can/freeze or otherwise preserve the harvest to use later in the winter.

Yeah,that's where I'm at right now,as the pizza sauce is cooking down on the stove and the water bath canner is coming up to a boil.

I've already talked about the importance of growing organically,and not letting things go to waste in previous posts.

Well,in the kitchen while you're cutting and chopping and getting all that goodness ready to can,the seeds,stems,skins and cores can all go on to live a useful purpose in the compost bin.Don't simply throw them all out,or into the garbage disposal if you have one,add all that right back into the garden through composting.

While I run to the kitchen and stir the sauce,I convince my dear husband to take the bowl of scraps out to the composter and toss them in....

While those parts leftover from the food processing may not have any food value to you and I,they are still chock full of nutrients that can be returned to the soil to feed next year's plants.Your plants will thank you for it by growing big and strong,and providing you with an abundant harvest to repeat the cycle again next year.

Nearly anything that once came from the garden,can be returned to the garden through composting.Diseased plants,or those otherwise infected with something should be burned or disposed in another way,and not included in compost.Weeds that have gone to seed should also not be put into the compost bin,as the seeds can often survive the composting process and cause you much grief later on in the garden.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

who says gardening organically means a smaller harvest?

There's an old saying among conventional gardeners that gardening organically means a smaller harvest and a constant battle against bugs and weeds....

Well as you might be able to tell from the photos here,there is NOTHING small about this harvest!

We went out this evening after a storm rumbled through while we were gone today to check out the damage,and as we stood the tomato plants back up and staked as many of them as we could,we harvested what was ready,bringing in over 20lbs of ripe tomatoes a combination of regular sized canners,cherries,yellow pear,black prince,this WHOPPER of a Pineapple tomato(although there is a slight chance it could be a Mortgage Lifter tomato,I'm not sure),and a few green ones that got knocked off the vines during the storm.

I have used absolutely NO CHEMICALS in growing my gardens....none...I don't believe they have a place here,my gardens have been fertilized with leaf compost and rabbit manure/grass clippings,and nothing else....

The soil we used to build the raised beds was primarily leaf compost and top soil,and also contained no chemicals.

My gardening in the future will contain only organic matter either produced here on the property or brought in from areas that I know are 100% chemical free.

While conventional gardeners continue to battle weeds and bugs with more and stronger chemicals,draining the soil of much needed nutrients,I will continue to build upon the base we have here by adding only 100% organic compost and materials to my garden beds.the proof is in the pictures,who needs chemicals?

I don't,and neither do you...if you don't already practice organic gardening methods,I highly suggest you look into it,your garden will thank you,so will your family and friends that you share your excess with,and so will the planet.healthy plants can not grow in soils that have been drained of it's nutrients,and treated with one chemical after another,while using them might produce a crop,the flavor and quality will pale in comparison to that which is produced naturally,chemical free.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sharing the Bounty

It's commonly known that most gardeners plant way more than they need or can use....especially zucchini.

Something I strongly believe in is sharing the bounty.If you have more than you can use or put up for the winter,don't ever leave it to rot in the garden....share it!

I've so far shared zucchini with 6 people,and still have more coming on,my freezer contains enough frozen zucchini to make enough bread for 16 loaves,I have all I can use.So I've been sharing it,taking turns who I give it to,so that more people can enjoy it,and not one person gets a chance to get totally burned out on it.

I've taken summer squash,tomatoes,peppers and cucumbers to my parents,to work and given to friends.

Now the tomatoes are starting to come on full force,and soon I fear I may have to make night time deposits on porches to give the excess away.

I know how much salsa,ketchup,and tomato sauce I want to be able to make,so pretty much anything above and beyond that,the tomatoes will be shared.

I get as much enjoyment out of giving the extras away as I do growing the plants.
If you have non gardening neighbors,a gift of fresh produce will not only make their day,but could win them over if they have any lingering questions about your gardening methods.Fresh produce is also good bartering material,as for some,it's easier to work out trade deals than it is cash deals.

Can you trade zucchini for car repairs?Probably not,but you might be able to trade some for having holes dug,fence posts put in,pet sitting,things like that.

So I encourage you,if you have the space,plant some extra,if for nothing more than to share with friends and family.