Saturday, June 28, 2014

Entrepreneurial Minded Unschoolers

Conversation at the PYO strawberry field today:

"Mom, Little Fire Faery had an idea for if you didn't have a lot of money. She said you could come here and pick a quart of strawberries and while you were picking, you could eat as much as you wanted. You have lunch here, and you pay for the quart to have later."

I like the way they think.

And I'm, clearly, doing something right.

Note: I agreed and added that one could do as she suggested, but pick a couple of quarts (3 quarts would cost about $10), and then, sell them, double one's money, go back for more, and do it again, throughout the season. Then, there would be a little extra money for other types of food, and other stuff.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gone Fishin'

Cue the Andy Giffith Show theme song.

I hope they catch dinner for Sunday.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Zenith or Peak ... either way, we're there and on the way down

My entire blog and the book that's based on it (Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: the Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil) is about guiding others in their journey toward the six steps Chris Martenson recommends in his Crash Course.

The steps are:
1. Invest in community (chapter 19: Networking)
2. Preserve your wealth
3. Reduce fossil fuel dependence (chapters 9, 10, 11, 15, and 21)
4. Eat local (chapters 5-8)
5. Boost emergency readiness
6. Improve your health (chapters 13 and 14)

This great video explains why we should even care enough to start making changes, and why we should start now, rather than waiting. As the video explains, when the proverbial it happens, we won't notice it at first, but then, it will be like a flash flood, and by then, if we haven't been making adaptations in our lives (as above), it will be too late.

What are you waiting for?

And if you want to get a free (signed) copy of Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs: the Thrivalist's Guide to Life Without Oil, don't forget that Deus Ex Machina is doing a giveaway on his blog. Comment there to enter.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fast-forward Friday

It's not really a fast forward, because the transition from Throwback Thursday to what's there today took eight years.

A lot has changed, including the dog (no, your eyes aren't playing tricks. It's not the same one ;)).

Feel free to play along. How's your landscape changed from then to now?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday or TBT is a thing some folks do on Facebook. I thought it might be fun to bring TBT here to my blog and explore how far we've come with our Nanofarm in the few short years we've been moving toward real self-sufficiency.

If you want to play along (on your blog, not on Facebook), leave a comment with your blog link.

I, personally, have a long way to go, but it's not about the destination ... it's about the journey. Let's ride ;).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spending Thrifty

I saw a news report recently. It asked, The Labor Department says food, gas and airline prices are all up. Can you tell the difference when you check out at the grocery?

We've definitely noticed the increase. The grocery cart is less full, but the ticket price is much higher at the check-out. For the record, we don't skimp on food. In fact, when we buy stuff at the grocery store, we are very, very selective (reading labels and looking for specific ingredients, place of origin, and distributor/manufacturer). Our first choice is locally grown/produced, but not if those items contain non-organic corn, soy, high fructose corn syrup, cellulose, hydrogenated anything, and several other hot button ingredients we've chosen to avoid. There are certain companies we won't patronize, either, which includes most of the larger food producers/distributors, but most of those aren't local, and so it's usually not an issue.

The result is that we spend a lot more than the average person at the grocery store, but it's worth every penny we save on medical bills and/or prescription medication. Even if it's a wash (i.e. we spend as much on buying good food as it would cost for a prescription), we can't eat the medicine, in that it won't satiate our hunger or provide nutrients, like the food will. So, we choose to spend our few dollars on better food rather than drugs.

This video in which a former pharmaceutical executive admits his personal culpability in destroying the health of the world and reveals that the Pharma industry has no interest in "health", but rather is motivated to keep us sick - in particular with long-term, systemic diseases (like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease) that require expensive drugs to treat symptoms (although most of those drugs do nothing for curing the actual illness), reinforces all of the paranoia I have about that these drug companies are really trying to do.

Many years ago, I was sitting at my friend's dining room table, and I must have said something about the drug industry, because she said, "If you feel that way, you should not read Oryx and Crake." I didn't, for a very long time, and then I did, and every time I hear about some drug recall or some new something that "they've" invented or the obesity epidemic or the fact that CHILDREN are now developing Type II diabetes mellitus (which used to be called "Adult Onset", because it only occurred in adults), I think about that book. How easy it is to lace some food product or drink (how about sodas, which most people consume as a routine beverage) with some very damaging substance, and then, produce another something that will treat the symptoms of that "illness", and someone is profiting off of both sides.

What's real and what's straight out of Atwood's twisted imagination?

We don't know. Maybe there's a conspiracy and maybe there's not.

Either way it doesn't matter, because I will still choose to eat better food and stay away from pharmaceuticals, because the good food just tastes better.

Which means I'll probably keep paying more at the grocery store.

No worries, though, because we can make very conscious decisions about how and where we spend our cash. Not spending on things that are free is a start.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Focus on Possibilities

I yammer incessantly about my small space and the challenges of attempting to satisfy some significant portion of our dietary needs on what we can grow on our quarter acre (supplemented by stuff we buy, and also by food we forage). With more than one-third of the population of the US living in suburban-type areas on less than an acre of land (and many, many more living in urban areas with even less land than that), it seems kind of relevant. An acre is 40000 square feet. The usual size for a suburban lot is 5000 to 10000 square feet, with 10000 square feet being considered a "large lot." My lot is just under 10000 square feet. Our nanofarm is big for suburbia (although smaller and oddly shaped for what's normal in my neighborhood).

Still, I've always felt, and I've always said that it's not size that matters (when it comes to self-sufficiency), but what one does with what one has. There are a lot of people who are doing quite well with not a lot. The key is to not accept limitations but to imagine possibilities, to not accept what others believe as fact (i.e. less than five acres is too small for self-sufficiency), but to make our own realities.

Part of that, for me, has been to be more creative in my growing techniques. I'm not just limited by the size of my space, but I'm also limited in the shape and a few particulars about my lifestyle and my lot. First, as I know I've mentioned before, is that I have a septic system, with a tank and a leach field. The leach field is my front yard, and unfortunately, one of the largest, flat sunny spots on my property. But I can't plant a traditional garden on the leach field.

In addition, I have dogs. Lots of dogs. Lots of big dogs. They need a space in the yard.

They get the top of the leach field.

But not all of it, because it's too much of my limited space to give up.

Part of the area that makes up the leach bed is where I've planted a container garden - and when I planted it, I was sure I was being very clever, planting both beauty and function in the same containers, i.e. I make great use of the small space I have by intensive companion planting.

This container is broccoli and Dianthus, an edible flower variety. It's very pretty - in my opinion - but also
functional, because it's food.

I thought I was being original and clever by planting my vegetables with the flowers.

This weekend we visited the wild animal sanctuary where I noted a container garden (very similar in size to the ones I have in my yard that we made from cutting our broken rain barrels into three pieces) containing pansies, and of all things, corn. I smiled, and took a picture.

For many years I've been promoting the idea that there is a lot one can do with *just* a quarter of an acre and that self-sufficiency IS possible even with that tiny amount of land. There are people out there who are doing amazing things on very small acreages. The other day, I found that someone had written a book about self-sufficiency on a quarter acre (published in 2010), and I thought, "Awesome!" I don't have a copy, but it's going on my to-find-and-read list.

I'm inspired anew to work even harder to make more out of what little space I have. The grape vine is actually looking pretty healthy this year. Maybe this will be the year we (finally) enjoy a grape harvest ... and if not, there are still plenty of other plants ... and I can use the grape leaves in the fermentation process for pickles.