September 28, 2010

Moulting - How to Be Free

I think today is the exact midpoint of my life. Things that were, became no more and things that will be, will be. I have planned and struggled to get this far in life. The course of events have led me to this place of peaceful contentment. Yet, each moment of the day, I say "What's the plan?" Where do I push on to? What will keep us safe? What is left undone? What will I regret and how will I get hurt?

It is the pushing forward day by day that has got me to today. It would have had I planned or not. Today I realized the plan is complete, the seeds were sown, nurtured, harvested and shared. Today I plan no more, I don't feel inadequate about what isn't done, or what people think, or what might happen. I think back on days, and years and times and they are my flowers, my weeds, my summer air. I am free.

I didn't feel free just a couple of hours ago. Being in bed all day, down with chronic problems, I thought of all that wasn't being done and sadly things I wished I had done that had not.

I was down for weeks on end this summer. Lots of chores did not get done. It didn't matter so much though, many crops failed this year, without my help, because of the wacky weather. I still have a long list of chores, here let me show you:

1. smoke meat, brisket to pastrami and pork to bacons and hams
2. bring in fertilizer to dry to be used on indoor tomatoes, cukes, and peppers
3. drill holes in birch logs for 300 mushroom plugs (this is first of the list)
4. hunt for wild mushrooms, last week before it freezes
5. find where the squirrels are stashing the walnuts and put them in freezer
6. pick apples, pears, plums and grapes - good thing they are all late ripening
7. pick rosehips and weeds for winter chicken feed
8. do in the turkeys, I am sad about this
9. cook 40 pounds of tomatoes into sauce, saurkrut a 10 pound cabbage
10. put tomato cages around indoor veggies
11. plant mesclun and Chinese brassicas to grow inside
12. winterize chicken coup, haul wheelbarrow loads of wood chips for bedding
13. winterize outdoor seedlings in pots by moving to a shelter spot and mulch
14. bring in dalias and glads
15. move worm bins indoors, fill them for winter
16. dishes and sweeping, this never comes off my list
17. finishes mending
18. move beads and inventory back into workshop
19. Thresh saved seed heads
20. I could go on and on and on

The little accomplishments, that never seemed to make a difference, always do. Last year we had a record amount of fruit and I still have lots frozen, even though we ate at our pleasure all winter. If I hadn't put it up last year, we would be lacking this winter. My garden is full of plants, from seeds planted only once, but have been growing more for many years. The same can be said for the chickens and the fruit trees and bushes. This year, without any assist from me, there are 40 new chickens. We are well stocked and secure in our readiness for winter.

I do not have to plan anymore, life doesn't seem a struggle any longer. My place is to be available, as I am needed by my garden, literally and figuratively. It is a beautiful place to be.

September 18, 2010

Inexpensive Fast Food - Putting Food Up

In the last 36 hours, 30 pounds of tomatoes, 25 pounds of cucumbers, 15 pounds of each cabbage and beets, 10 pounds of each onions, hot peppers, peaches and carrots, 5 pounds each of plums have been saved for winter eating,

At this time of year this list could have been purchased fresh at a farmer's market for under $100. All processed into salsa, hot sauce, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, relish, pie filling and frozen foods, to replace, would cost 10 times that at the grocery store in winter.

But I grew this list in my garden. The seeds were free because I saved them from my plants last year,
so the cost was my time, $10 in freezer bags and a little electricity.

My seasonal project this time of year is preserving food. I do it alone, with enjoyment, ease and pride. You can too, it is really a no brainer!

Food Security - Fall Chores - Preserving Food

Each day, nature calls me to do something to insure our food security. I call them seasonal projects, since they repeat each year like clockwork. Once you know what has to be done and when, you will be able to have cost effective control of your own food year round. Whether you grow your own or buy from your local farmer's market, fall is for preserving vegetables and fruit.

How do you eat your vegetables? Most people don't eat vegetables plain. We don't. We eat pickles and condiments, salsa and spaghetti sauce, and lots of hot sauce. We use our vegetables in soups, coleslaws and fried rice dishes. Watch the next posts for the tutorials that show how easy it is to produce these things at home. You will also see how making them not only provides excellent nourishment but saves time and money too.

Easy Spaghetti Sauce Recipe - Best Recipe for Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce

10 pounds of ripe tomatoes, approximately 30 tomatoes
1 clove to 1 head of garlic depending on desire
3 onions
1/2 bunch of celery and/or 1 cup of carrots or mushrooms
1 cup of fresh parsley, 1/2 cup dried
2 bay leaves
1/8 cup of crushed fresh or dried sage, rosemary, savory and/or thyme
to be added when frozen sauce is heated for use in meal
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 - 1/4 cup sugar to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tablespoon of salt to taste
increase salt before serving if necessary

Chop onion, garlic, onions, parsley, celery, carrots, mushrooms into small bits. I suggest using a food processor for this, especially if preparing the sauce for picky eaters. In a large pot, pour the olive oil and 2 bay leaves. Turn the burn on high. Add onion mixture, then turn the burn down low. Cook this way, stirring every once in a while to keep it from sticking, for about 1/2 hour. Chop the tomatoes. When it is starts to stick and turn brown on the bottom add the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Turn the burner up to high until the mixture starts to bubble then turn it down to low again. It will cook on the stove for 3 or 4 hours until it has reduced to half the amount you started with. Let cool to room temperature, spoon into freezer bags and freeze.

As the sauce reduces the saltiness becomes more intense, so don't adjust the salt until the end.

Do not put the hot sauce in the fridge to cool, the flavor sours (in a bad way) when you do. (This is true for soups and leftovers too.)

To use, empty bag and stir frozen (or not) into hot pasta, or thaw for pizzas. Herbs are added at the end because cooking diminishes their flavor.

Voila, fast comfort food for a winter's day!

September 17, 2010

Food Security - Today's Best Blog

The expert at growing food year round is Mr. H. at
He grows food in his house all winter and most clever and sustainable way, see

In my opinion, if he were Agriculture Minister for North American not one person would ever go hungry. I think, what he shows us all for free on his blog, should be taught in school.

Where Have I Been - What Have I Been Doing

This is my responsibility in my family as mother and wife.

Each day I spend a couple of hours in the kitchen. I cook what I have thawed from the freezer the day prior. In the summer I cook late at night to avoid the heat, and in winter I cook in the morning to help heat the house. It is a typical meal, vegetable, carbohydrate and protein. The leftovers from this meal are used the next day for quick lunches, sandwiches, soup or fried rice for example.

Each day I spend an hour or two cleaning. Laundry, dishes, no explanation needed here.

Each day I spend 2 hours working on seasonal projects or doing farm paperwork. Seasonal projects are activities engaged to save money or to make money.

Each day I spend 2 hours with my family. It is usually watching TV or discussing school or the farm.

Each day I spend 2 hours working outside tending chickens, gardens, hunting for mushrooms and berries. In the summer the time is doubled, in winter it is halved.

These duties do not create an income. If not a housewife, I would have to go to a job to pay someone else to provide these services for my family. I work my own hours and wear what I want, my burden on the planet is minimal, and the need for cash is greatly reduced. My family and I are satisfied, secured and happy.

Claiming food security is easy and cost efficient. There are many wonderful, knowledgeable people writing valueable information to help insure food security for you on the net. The rules are straightforward and once you know the tools and techniques, anyone can do it. In this regard this blog will be taking a new direction. Firstly I will e-introduce you to these said fine people so you can see how it is done by people who are doing it. And, secondly, I will post my activities so you can see first hand how sustainable living works.

Food Security - Storing for Winter - Fugal Living

This blog was initially started because I wanted to demonstrate our current food security systems were in jeopardy and to show how it could be rectified at home. At the time, it seemed like a paranoid and backwards idea to most people. Now, not so much.

As most of you know, I grow and raise a large portion of our food. We like all others on this planet, dealt with wacky weather this year. There were crop failures, like no cherries and few berries. Plum trees that always produce hundreds of pounds each year, yielded less than a dozen single plums each. The crops that are plentiful like the grapes, are two weeks behind (meaning they may not ripen before the frost) and with smaller than normal fruit. I could go on.

Please put up some food for the winter. Put away nutritionally dense food your family will eat. Pickles, condiments, jams, dried fruits, seeds, nuts and grains are excellent foods prepared for long term storage. Don't forget about storing some extra sugar and salt. Coffee, tea flour and rice are going to cost big time by spring. Food shortages are already causing suffering in other countries. This is not a drill.

p.s. enter "security" in the search engine here for easy tips to store food