Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thinking outside the box

In a big way, LOL. I've been busy all week working on a neighbors' farm. I need the money and they need the help, a win-win situation. I've had a few come-aparts this week but the hubby has always come up with some interesting in the field fixes for me to keep going with. Check out how he fixed the pto spring pin breakage! That silly fix made it thru 30 acres of bush hogging, LOL. The other picture is a coyote that was much closer than the phone picture makes her seem. She was just 15 or so yards off and stood there watching me for a few minutes.

I have a solid lead on 2 young heifers for milking, just a bit more than I was planning to spend but nice little jersey holstein crosses. the man said he would hold them for me and take payments so I think I'm going to be making cheese soon!

Not too much else is going on around here. The nights are down right cold this week and it leaves me wondering where our nice fall season went. The trees are not as colorful as they normally are and I blame the lack of rain and the sudden cold temperatures. I'm ready to start a fire and read a good book, LOL.

speaking of a good book, this was national Banned Book week and I did my part. I ordered "atlas shrugged" and "farenheit 451" from the library. My local branch didn't have a copy of either but they got them on the exchange just in time. I hope to crack the first one tonight!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cold Nights

It's down right cold sitting here at the park tonight. I wanted to play online earlier but I had a few things I needed to do. Here's what I was doing! Putting a little food on the table. I butchered the last 15 bunnies I had ready to go, sold 10 to a neighbor for some fuel money. Can't beat that, eh? The nights are around 55F for all this coming week, time to close the windows up at dusk. I won't mind too much, i can throw all those darn cats out and they'll stay out! No more finding the trash can dumped every morning or dirty paw prints on my table! Those kitties just don't know how lucky they are.

This week, I've got myself a small paying job on a farm close to me. The folks need some help and it looks to be right up my alley. Another tank or 2 of fuel is always a good thing. I just can't pass up the chance to help us make it to the first paycheck. I'd be a fool if I did.

I've not given up on the cow search, I have a line on a nice 5 yr old cow milking now but it will take me a couple more weeks of picking up cans since it's going to cost me more than what I have in the cow fund. The people told me the cow isn't going anywhere so I should be in good shape. I am so ready to make some cheese!

Dang it's cold tonight! My fingers are freezing!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Getting a bit Wormy

Today I am a little miffed. I'm sitting here, at the park, minding my own business when a woman pulls up in a mini van, starts unloading a bunch of items, says to me "we're going to have a meeting here, are you going to move?" Uhm, I don't think so. She looked at me like I was the boogeyman, stomped off and set up in the next pavilion down. Public park, 3 pavilions and I need to move?

Anyhoo, I just read this interesting article on one of my favorite subjects, MSG. That's right, monsodium glutamate. This will not be the first time I lament on how terrible this poison is and how it is in everything available for consumption on the commercial food shelf. this nasty little bugger has no smell, no flavor and is used to make you addicted to a particular food item. Sweet, huh?

So, on that note, how about another installment of 'grow your own food"? Carrots are the vegetable of choice today. These sweet little roots are easy to grow provided you have soil that is deep, loose and stone free. The more organic matter in it, the better. Carrots like regular waterings and prefer to be moist but not soaked. Carrots also prefer a moderate amount of nitrogen, over fertilizing causes root branching and you end up with nothing like what you are used to seeing when you imagine carrots. Raised bed planting is ideal and they will grow well in containers provided they have adequate room for root growth. A pH level of 5.5 to 7.5 will support carrots but they prefer slightly below neutral. Plant your seeds 1/2" deep, lightly covered, rows 12" apart in full sun. 59 to 80 days to harvest.

Oh, remember 2 posts back? Here's a tidbit from a fellow that has the same ideas about where our country is headed as I do. Deindustrialization of America. Interesting read.

I am a bit wormy today, we've completely run out of cash. there's $1.07 in the bank account, the paycheck (acutally 2 still owed to him) from the mine hubby was let go from has not arrived in the mail yet, big surprise. His physical is Tuesday morning, 90 miles from here and the mortgage will be defaulted in 5 days. Geez, I so hate this kind of stress! So, I'm most certainly wormed out. I'm trying really hard to not scarf down the entire bowl of cookie dough I made last night. Chocolate chip cookies always make me feel better, LOL.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lots to talk about-updated

Oh my, has the past few days been a roller coaster ride...... Okay, let's start at the beginning which was a week ago Sunday night...The ventilation fan for the coal mine hubby works in goes down, it's broke, needs parts, gonna be a couple days. A couple days turns into 4 and he goes back to work Thursday night for his regular Friday shift. Sunday morning we get a call, his cousin and good friend (my friend too) has passed away from a heart attack. Sunday night comes around, he goes to work and they call him aside and fire him. Something about a single piece of paper he did not even know he was supposed to fill out over his underground injury a month ago. So, he comes home jobless. Monday we spend all day passing out resumes, filing his unemployment claim and talking about how we are going to cover our mortgage ( haven't paid it this month yet, property taxes wiped us out). Tuesday morning a call comes in, we take a drive and hubby has a new job he will start Sunday night. The Tuesday evening wake and the Wednesday morning funeral were pretty hard on both of us. Meanwhile, we have 3 tiny kittens pooping all over the house, all 3 are sick, the daughter had a blowout on our purple truck as well. No spare of course and the tread peeled off and ripped part of the fender well off the truck too. At least she made it to work, going the last half block on the flat. The goats keep escaping and some do-gooder driving by had the consideration to call the state police and complain my goats were too close to the road for them. needless to say, the police officer was very polite and asked if we'd try to keep them from grazing by the end of the drive and left right away. Funny thing is, he didn't have anything to say about the 30 year old sway backed horse that's been wandering all over the farm for the past 4 months.

So, it's been a pretty wild and stressful few days. The dishes need done, the floors need mopped, the laundry needs washed and I need some time to reflex and cry over the loss of my friend.

Meanwhile, life continues to go by............

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The World, Economy and the Farm

I have often been ridiculed by my peers for not being "herd mentality". I have always preferred to stand alone in what I chose to do, right or wrong. I hate being one in a crowd, I hate crowds. I have never been one to "keep up with the Jones",LOL, I never liked them anyway. This attitude has actually kept me out of trouble more times than not. It has proven beyond a doubt that I chose correctly when we were out of work with no income and we were still eating. There is really something to be said for food on the table when all else fails.

It is hard for me to understand why more people can not see what is happening in our country. The MSM spews lies daily and it seems like no one even notices. I offer these tidbits of news as examples of how pitiful it is now- Mass delusion-american style
10 signs the US is becoming a third world country
18 signs America is rotting

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. We have given up our frugal upbringing to be pampered by fast food and instant gratification and given away any chance we have at survival. We have lost the art of self reliance. We have become a nation full of people that would rather pay to have it done for them instead of just doing it for themselves. We are even incapable of entertaining ourselves without television or video games. We have drown ourselves in revolving credit and ridiculous percentage rates we can never dream of paying for, leaving us to choose between making the monthly house payment or feeding our kids. In order to survive into the future, we must change ourselves. The world as we have known it is gone. It's not coming back any time soon.

I have taken steps to ensure my own sustainability. I have eliminated all the credit cards and took the time to learn to do as much as I can for myself. Every day, I strive to learn something else that I can use to take care of myself and my family. My plan isn't perfect and not even close to being complete but I keep at it. I keep trying to get others around me to think a little more frugally and do what I can to help them do for themselves instead of having others do it.

Sharing ideas and thoughts with others is a good thing. there's lots of talk out there about the end of the world as we know it. Survivalists have their own views, so do preppers, there's even several different religious views on the subject. Even some scientists and NASA have put their 2 cents in lately. Me, I'm just a simple homesteader. I think if the economy collapses, I will be able to feed myself just fine. If civilization comes to end, at least I won't have to worry about paying my property taxes or inflated insurance premiums!

As I mentioned before, we are truly doomed to repeat history since we are unable to learn from it. We can not continue to buy everything from others and produce nothing for ourselves. You can not keep importing goods when you have nothing to export. Spending money you can not replace is simply not sustainable. To me, this concept is as plain as the nose on my face. Why is it so hard for others to see? This article isn't exactly how I look at it but it's decent enough. Where are the jobs?

Tomorrow is Constitution Day in America. In Ohio, government has banned (tried to anyway) the Andover Tea Party group from having a rally in town square to celebrate our Constitution because they claim the group has "political affiliation". Well, duh. Lawsuit has been filed, ruling should come today. I liked this article named Government using anti-terrorism laws to
crush dissent.

I found this little tidbit as well yesterday. Corn syrup producers change name to "corn sugar" as awareness over health concerns grow. The first 2 ingredients in the cheap blackberry jam that Dollar General sells around here is corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. This stuff is poison folks, it is in every single prepackaged food item on the grocery shelf. Here's a quote from a book written in the 1940's by Ed and Carolyn Robinson named "The have More Plan". Thanks to Melissa for sharing this wonderful book on her blog. Chapter 13 is called "the importance of raising part of your familys food". {The health of millions of Americans would be far better if every family raised part of the food it eats.} The chapter goes on to talk about the lack of vitamins and minerals of store bought foods and so on. It is a great book written 70 years ago and it applies very well to the world around us right now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Too much produce?

I found this tidbit of news yesterday and saved it to read when I got home. Boy, did it ever fire me up! I wanted to run right back to the park and make another blog post! Alas, I had to wait until this afternoon to get to the internet connection and my fired up attitude was dampened by finding my favorite cat run over. Poor Mozart, now I have 3 tiny kittens to look after.

Anyway, here's the story, County Sues Farmer;too many crops. I find this whole thing to be absolutely ridiculous. How is this even possible in America? Every single person around him needs to immediately turn their lawns into gardens and grow fruits and vegetables in protest of this idiotic county and their harassment of this man.

On a side note, here's a piece of good news... The 1099 insurrection.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hmmmm-small rant

ARG! If I read one more BS news story about how our country is bouncing back from recession, I'm going to just vomit all over the computer! Well, maybe not, the keyboard is already hanging on by a thread but you know what I mean. I see more and more people paying for their goods with the welfare program link card and the people using my local church food pantry have doubled. The same paycheck that used to allow us to pay our bills and save a little bit each week for farm equipment and things we would like to have to improve our self sustaining situation no longer covers even our simple bills. Things such as mortgage(we still owe on our farm), the electric bill which should be lower without a stove and a hot water tank but it instead keeps going up, the property taxes on the farm that used to be worth 4 times what it is now(funny, the tax bill hasn't decreased) and our biggest expense - fuel to get to work. It's very depressing to go week to week and have nothing left. What's even more depressing is thinking about how much we would NOT have to buy food. Thank God I grow so much here. Now, I know everyone around me has all these same bills. So, how is it they can go to McDonalds a couple times a week, buy new vehicles, clothes and all the latest hot cell phones? Is everyone around me living on credit cards?

How can this country come up out of recession and the job market come back when the jobs are continually outsourced to other countries? What happened to our industrial base? It's gone, that's what happened to it. Most of what we consume now is produced and imported from another country. This is not sustainable and this very thing has brought several great empires thru history to their knees.

What do we do about this? On a large scale, there isn't anything we can do about it. On an individual basis we can stop buying imported goods and start doing more for ourselves. Grow food, raise our own meat, use wind, solar or water to power our homes, what ever we can use. Our government is NOT going to fix this, they can't even see the forest for the trees. They are too busy blaming everyone else around them for what is wrong here when they should be blaming themselves. Our government keeps thinking they can cure all our problems by throwing money at them. What happens when there's no more money(worthless paper) to throw? It is obvious that we have not learned from history so we are certainly doomed to repeat it.

I don't like being the working poor but it seems I don't have much choice in the matter anymore. So, I will continue to do the best I can with what I have and expand my garden spot in the spring. Perhaps I can trade some of what I grow to help ease the tightening noose I feel around my neck. At least I'll be eating well!

Whew, I feel a little better now. What do you think about that killer kitten? hardly big enough to fit in the palm of my hand but she sure whipped that wood shrew!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Self Sustaining Food-tomatoes

ARG, my backspace button has decided to not function and I have written this post 4 times now. Every time I misspell a word, I end up having to start over! I read at several forum boards across the internet, mostly at the APN where we are all trying to help each other become more self sufficient. I have noticed a trend that disturbs me. People do not seem that interested in gardening or working on learning how to produce their own food. It seems to be the norm to continue to stock up on store bought items. Now, I don't have anything against that, to me it's all good if a person is stocking up store bought food. Everyone has to eat so it's all a good thing. The problem comes in when you think about how store bought food will sooner or later be consumed. It's not a sustainable source.

I promised to talk a bit about growing tomatoes so let's do that now. Tomatoes are easier to grow than people think. All you need is a 5 gallon bucket, some rich soil, good drainage and at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. Don't forget the fertilizer, tomatoes are heavy feeders and need some help thru the fruiting season. Tomatoes can tolerate a pH level as low as 5.5 but prefer closer to neutral (7). There are plenty of heirloom tomatoes available in either plant form or seed form. The bushy types of plants (determinate) or the vining types(indeterminate). Don't forget about those wonderful cherry tomatoes, they are great for fresh eating and will produce tons of fruits thru the season. Tomatoes do the best when they are supplied with even moisture. Not too wet tho, tomatoes hate wet roots but if they lack water, they simply do not produce or your fruits will have blossom end rot. You will know you lack moisture if your fruits have black spots on the bottoms. Even moisture also prevents the fruits from cracking from a sudden, heavy rain. Indeterminate plants that vine out will need to be supported in some way. You could always just let them sprawl but the plants tend to do better, contract less disease and are easier to harvest from if they are tied to a trellis or a stake. tomato plants can very quickly grow upwards of 5' so be prepared with a tall and well anchored stake or trellis to support them. Pinching off side suckers that grow off the main branch next to leaf stems will help you to keep you tomato plat growing up instead of out. Tomatoes prefer weather between 55F and 90F, above or below can cause poor fruiting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday brings pain

Oh! My aching back! There "she" is, Hermine, bearing down on southern Illinois. That witch woke me up in the middle of the night in horrible pain. I'll be glad when she rolls right on by and goes away!

Yesterday, early evening, I had a wonderful visitor. We spent a couple of hours reviewing the finer art of butchering rabbits. I did 4, my visitor did 2. It's been so long since I had any company, I was actually kind of nervous for a while. The lady was absolutely delightful and easy to talk to. Thank you for a wonderful evening Stephanie!

I even showed off my grain grinder, which I never do, LOL, and showed off a little of the home baked bread and ground flour. I think I need to go buy a sack of commercial flour to show the difference between mine and store bought. Maybe I will.

Not too much is going on around here. I got all the hay that was on the ground done so now I'm just in a nice holding pattern. Nothing wrong with a little break every now and then. Tomorrow I'll be writing about growing tomatoes and perhaps in a day or so, I'll do another post on making soap...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day work

That's right, while everyone around me was having a party or a BBQ, I was working a 10 hour day in the hay field. My back, butt and knee are killing me. But, I got a bunch done so it's all good. I hope everything goes smooth for tomorrow and I will get a couple days break. I am so ready to get to baking some bread!

Look what I've got! Are they cute or what? My cat Mozart has 3 calico and one smoke grey kitten. They were under the porch getting the eye ick so I had to scoop them up and bring them in. They are already looking better. Kittens haven't fared too well around here this year. Out of 5 batches, only 2 kittens previous to this batch have survived. All have been sickly this year.

I was having a discussion this evening with a friend, Hey Scifi, about real life old timey pioneer living. The concept is pretty popular lately along with what I'm doing with the self sufficient, self sustaining life. There's plenty of things I do here that would qualify as pioneer living. I grow all my own food and don't buy any prepackaged food from the grocery, I garden for the most part without power equipment and harvest all but my wheat by hand. It's all done the old fashioned way, in the ground in rows and plots. I also use containers and the new tire sets for the potatoes but with no special gadgets or specialty growing helpers. I grind my own grains for animal feed and flour, live without air conditioning, cook quite a bit with a wood fire and make all our meals from scratch. I even butcher for myself. These are all qualities I would consider as skills contributing to a pioneer way of living. So, would I be considered at least partly living a pioneer lifestyle? What about those people out there that just claim to be living like that, buying their food from the grocery while growing food in the garden to sell to others? Coating their wares with pesticides while claiming it's all grown the old fashioned way. Or, people out there trying to sell something, using the "pioneer living" as a sales hook?

What counts as self sustained then? Anything you can produce for yourself, more than once. Growing a crop and seed saving to produce a future crop. That is making that item self sustained. Planting fruit trees or berry bushes is another way to self sustain. Those items produce for you without having to make a monetary input each crop. Growing corn to feed to a chicken is self sustaining. You get eggs and meat and new chickens by feeding the corn you grew from the seed you saved and planted. Cool, huh?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Well the weather has cooled down just a little, wish it was this nice 2 days ago when I hit that metal pipe sticking out of the ground and tore up my hay cutter! 7 sickle teeth, the reel guide got bent up pretty bad and 4 pick up tines got broke off. I was NOT a happy camper! The sky picture was supposed to be a red tailed hawk that was circling for the field mice i was chasing out for him but apparently I missed him in the sunlight. Kind of hard to look at the phone while bouncing up and down on the tractor, plus the glare from the sun. maybe I'll catch him next time, LOL. I spent 4 hours raking today just to watch the round baler break down. Glad that darn thing isn't mine! Even more glad I wasn't pulling it when it broke!

I spoke with a couple of neighbors on the backroad
who filled me in on all the latest gossip in my township plus some interesting tidbits on grocery prices, utility costs, etc. Looks like prices keep going up on everything. I also read this evening over at blacklisted news about food riots in Africa (even found a mildly written article on Foxnews about it) over the cost of their bread. Could that type of behavior happen here in the USA? I think it could. Just a few years ago, I'm pretty sure my family had a solid middle class life. Now, we feel more like the working poor. The same money that covered our mortgage, insurance and taxes is not doing such a good job. It's not a low wage paycheck I'm talking about either. How are people living on minimum wage surviving? How are people making less than $20 an hour surviving? Plus, those people are spending money on groceries. Thank God I don't have to do that or we'd really be in a mess.

There has never been a better time than now to work on becoming even just a little bit self sustained. Even a small reduction in your utility use is going to help. Not making a bunch of small trips to the store for just one item helps too. Learning more about cooking and baking, preparing food for yourself instead of eating out saves big bucks each month. I think we are all going to need to think more about these expenses and cut out everything not absolutely necessary in the immediate future to survive this economy.