What's It Like At Your Place?

Sharon April 27th, 2008

My readers have been so great about reporting shortages and prices, I thought I’d expand this and start a discussion of what things look like in your neck of the woods, and through your budget.  How are you all doing making ends meet?  How are rising food and energy prices affecting your household?  What are you most concerned about?  What are you seeing when you go the store?  I admit, I’m curious to hear more about what this looks like through the eyes of more people.

Today’s New York Times reports that people are changing their dietary habits in response to the recession, buying cheaper food, cutting back on some luxury items and cutting red meat from their budget.  I have to admit, the last quote in this section struck me – this is, after all, the New York Times. 

Home prices are sliding, wages are stagnant, job losses are growing and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a broad measure of stock performance, is down 6 percent in the last year. So consumers are going on a recession diet.

Burt Flickinger, a longtime retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to “switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.”

It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet,” he said, “but it is certainly headed in that direction.”

So how does this look to you?  To your friends and family?

 Our region is one of the few that hasn’t had a major downturn in housing prices – the greater Albany area has slow sales but is still hanging tough.  Still, we were finally able to get the house reassessed after a ridiculously high assessment (redone after Eric’s grandparents moved in near the peak of the market), and will see our property taxes drop by 30%.  We’re actually benefitting from everyone else’s suffering, and so are some elderly neighbors.   It is tough on others as well – one of our neighbors lost her husband recently and wants to sell the house, but can’t.

The other big savings has been getting rid of the van.  We’ll save nearly a 1000 keeping it on the road.  Cramming in the little car is quite uncomfortable, but then again, having riding in the car be a bit uncomfortable isn’t bad for us.  Someone asked what we were driving – it is a 1993 Ford Taurus – we inherited it from Eric’s grandmother and it has been our commuting car ever since.  We can put 2 boosters and a carseat side by side in the back. 

We’ve definitely slowed our stock up rate, and at this point are just trying to maintain on everything (we’re actually letting our rice supplies slide a bit).  But we’re rapidly approaching our six months of grocery-store free time, where we live primarily off our own home produce.  Even better, the goats will arrive in July and we’ll be able to cut back on milk runs to the local farmstand.  Meanwhile, we’re getting the property into order – fixing the leaky roof (grrrr…we had it replaced 3 years ago and the $&#@*! who did it did a bad job), replacing attic insulation, putting drainage on the back field so we can expand the gardens that way, building more raised beds close to the house, setting up fencing for goats and sheep.  The hoophouse is going up this year, come hell or high water – I’m determined to produce all of our greens over the winter.  If we can afford it, I might even put up two, and start a winter CSA this year.

 We’re betting on the fact that as the New York State budget collapses, Eric, who isn’t tenured (intentionally so) and is much cheaper than tenure track faculty with similar qualifications, will probably keep his job, even if he’s stuck with more courses.  Last recession, they encouraged older profs to retire, had a hiring freeze and added more adjuncts rather than tenure track faculty, so we think Eric’s status may serve him well.  We’ve got dentist appointments for everyone and tetanus boosters for us planned, since we won’t be shocked to see benefits cut at some point.  Definitely working on *staying* healthy.

 I’m going to intensify my efforts to find birthday and holiday presents at yard sales, so that we aren’t buying much of anything new.  Also Eli’s feet jumped three sizes this year, and since he is drawn to mud puddles the way metal is drawn to magnets, more bigger shoes are on the list.   I figure at some point, things will get so expensive people stop using things lightly and discarding them so easily – so might as well look a little further ahead and pick up clothes a couple more sizes up.

We’re going to suck it up and fill the oil tank (which runs backup heat to keep the pipes from freezing when we’re out of town and the hot water heater) this spring, since I don’t think the price will be any lower in the fall.  We’re already splitting and hauling wood for winter.  May will be a tight month, given the price of oil.  But a tank full should, at our present rate of use, last us two years, so better do it now.

I’ve upped my plans for growing our own chicken feed and alfalfa hay for the bunnies and goats.  Feed prices are way up.  Not a lot of ways we can cut our food budget, except by producing our own milk and perhaps by giving up some seasonal fruits we really like and don’t grow enough of.  If we had to, we would.  For now, it is worth keeping them.  I’m already canning rhubarb and drying nettles and dandelions.

We’re going to start a homeschooling coop with two neighbors, to cut back on everyone’s trips to various activities.  And we’ll do all our swimming one day a week, to cut back on trips to the pool at the next town over. 

I’ve decided not to sell eggs this year – I have noticed in the last few years that the things we give as gifts sometimes profit us more than what we sell, so I decided that this year, we’d give the extra eggs away – to the food pantry, to neighbors, Eric takes them to work and hands them out.   

So far, things haven’t really penetrated hard into our lives – we’re lucky – and we’re reaping the fruits of a long time of being called nutcases ;-) .  But I don’t expect it to stay that way for the longer term.  How are you doing?

 Sharon

86 Responses to “What's It Like At Your Place?”

  1. Robbie says:

    We moved to our suburban house 2 years ago – saving 35 miles each way on our commutes. Since then my house was reassessed 20k lower than what we paid. We are not moving any time soon. Many homes in our neighborhood are on the market, but I think we are buffered so much as we had a significant # of families move in from the coasts. Taxes, however, have been the killer for us – triple what we had anticipated due to the school district. In Indiana it is nearly impossible to get tax rate information, and we were in a new neighborhood. We would have likely made a different decision otherwise.

    We signed up for a CSA this spring – surprised so few people know about this. With 2 kids under 3 it will be hard to make time to put in a veggie garden again this year. But, the toddler and I did plant some onion sets, and we will have spring onions in a few weeks.

    Debating whether to add fruit trees to the small backyard for folliage and doing double-duty.

    Gas is down to 3.57 this morning. Count my blessings every time I fill up – now <1x a week instead of every 2 days with the Echo.

    Can’t yet break the habit of diet cokes or dh’s vitamin water (a waste in my book). But we’re working on it. We are starting very small in our changes but will someday get there.

  2. Alecia says:

    I’m in Phoenix.

    Things here are pretty much “business as usual” except for the higher gas prices (and it’s not even that high comparatively- 3.40). I have not noticed any food shortages, even the rice is completely stocked.

    It’s pretty surreal here, with everyone just merrily making their summer plans with no regard for the state of the economy/world.

  3. MEA says:

    I’m in NJ and feel as if I in a number of mirco zones. I live in a small, old town (surrounnded by macmasions) 4 miles from Princeton — which seems to be enjoying never-never land, (except in the small pocket of deep poverity, in a 2 x 3 block area, where the squeeze is greater than ever.) In the developments, houses are taking forever to sell, but the price drop is very little. In the immediate neighborhood, the smaller houses are holding their prices and being snapped up. (You can see what’s going on here.) Gas is 3.50 for regular, rising to 3.85 as you approach Trenton. Trenton is, as expected, not doing well. 10-15% more people at the soup kitchen. One crisis help place has gone through more than 1/2 their money for rent assistance (they work on a calandar year.) There is a small, but measureable upsurge in the number of homeless families, attributed to forclosures on rental units and the fact that some many people are all ready doubled up.

    I’ve noticed the price of eggs soaring, and other food stuff creaping week by week, but no shortages. However, the dollar stores very think stock.

    My new across the street neighbor (from Turkey) is putting in a garden — constant and intellegent questions about growing conditions, etc. My new cati-corner neighbor is only only putting in a square-foot garden, but has formed a group with the some of mothers in her daughter’s preschool to start square foot gardening in the town houses where they live. Interestingly (in light of a previous comment about people from overseas preparing) all the mothers except my neighbor were born in India. My neighbor is generic-euro U.S, born. but her husband (who is gung ho for the garden) is Japense.

    My old PO prep. buddy is gettting chickens — and planting spuds with me.

    Personally, I’m starting to feel the pinch — it’s a bid harder to juggle the bills and keep up the charitiable giving. Summer is always negative cash flow as I pay for camps for the girls (i.e. child care), and I think that next summer I’ll have to find some sort of other arrangements if things go on this way. However, I am far, far, far from being on up uppers. And if all goes well, we won’t spend much for food this summer.

  4. Harmony says:

    Interior, mountainous BC here. Gas is currently the equivilent to $5 a gallon. Flour is $12.49 for 20# bag, milk is $4.19 a gallon, eggs are $2.60 for the factory kind, $3,69 for local farm eggs (dozen). Whole wheat bread is $4.39 a loaf.

    What are we doing to make ends meet? Well, all trips in the car are carefully planned to avoid as many trips as possible. More use of city bus and walking.

    I am putting in raised veggie gardens in my front yard and expanding use of my container gardens this year. We will have a spot in the community garden this year too, so I’m hoping to be able to supply a great deal of our veggie needs ourselves. I have started a small patch of amaranth, to see if it will grow well here, and a few other crops that don’t traditionally grow here (like gogi berrie bushes) to see how far I can stretch beyong the traditional root crops. I ordered ground cherries too, cause you made them sound so great! I have learned to bake my own bread, (with a few funny failures along the way:)) so no longer buy bread. I bake all our cookies, muffins, “treats” etc, which really helps keep the food budget down and of course we really watch out for sales and stock up on any good deals. We “eat out” maybe once a year, my kids think they are hard done by because no fast food!

    We got rid of our credit card debt but still have 3 years left on the morgage. I worry about that, but the end is in sight and with no other debt (bought used car cash) I think we will be able to pay it off no matter what.

    We heat with a wood stove, cut and haul the wood ourselves. It is a lot of work, but no heating bills is a wonderful thing! I hate getting up in the middle of the night to restoke the stove to keep the pipes from freezing in the winter but it is a small price to pay!

    I have tried (and keep trying) to encourage friends and family and neighbours to start growing at least some of their own food but have had limited success. Some nieghbours garden, but some, like my b. in law, is in complete denial that anything negative could possibly be coming our way and thinks that “there is so much oil left we won’t have to worry about it in our grandchildrens’ life time”.

    Sorry this is so long!

  5. Barb says:

    We’re actually doing pretty well here in Madison WI, though things are unraveling at the edges. The state has implemented a hiring freeze, several friends and family have recently had trouble finding jobs, though succeeded eventually. Food and gas prices are up of course. I haven’t noticed shortages, though I did see a woman buying a huge bag of rice at the coop Saturday. I almost referred her to your blog. :) There are lots of houses for sale right now, but prices aren’t tanking yet.

    For me personally, I read with recognition your recent comment: “It is time to decide that home now is home.” For years I’ve been focusing on developing a lower impact lifestyle with some vague notion in the back of my mind that “someday” (when I retire, when the kids are all grown, …) I would move to the country and really become the crazy, fanatical, fringe, environmentalist old lady I know myself to be.

    Over the past 18 months or so, as so many aspects of the “long emergency” have kicked into high gear, my perspective has evolved in two ways. First, I have definitely committed to my current home and community as the place I will be for the long haul. This has had a freeing affect on me. It has allowed me to finally own my heritage (urban and middle class for as many generations as I know about) and put my energy into this place, and this time. This has been great. I feel much less helpless. I know how to do things in my little midwestern city. I’m particularly interested in urban farming, and other forms of sharing. I’m part of a community of people who can actually make this stuff happen. I’ll be making this my focus now, drawing back from other pursuits that don’t contribute to survival. It’s a bit of a coming out process, letting the crazy old lady out in public.

    My second response to the current situation is much more practical. I have a strong sense that things may change radically very soon. I’m betting on major inflation, me or loved ones unemployed, energy very expensive or perhaps unavailable, food very expensive and possibly in short supply. In preparation for hard times, I’m spending a lot of my capital (not that I have that much, but still…) on getting our little urban homestead ready. Between us, my partner and I have six kids in their twenties, and we figure we need to prepare to possibly house a whole bunch of them. One concern I have is staying warm. We had an energy analysis done of our house and are having a lot of insulation work done this month. Last fall, I investigated putting in a wood stove, but decided that for now it is an environmentally inappropriate choice in an urban environment. Mostly in jest, I’m investigating the possibility of sinking geothermal wells under the driveway. For sure, we have an electric-based heat source to back up our natural gas furnace, and we’re thinking about some simple modifications that will allow us to close off half of our house in the winter if need be. I’m also considering photovoltaics, though they have a high tech feel that makes me a bit uncomfortable. Weird I know, since I’m all gaga about geo-thermal. With all those young strong ones around, I’ve also considered hooking up some stationary bicycles to a battery bank. :)

    My other primary concern is food. We’re putting in a bigger garden this year. We’re also putting in half a dozen hazelnut trees/shrubs. In three years or so they should be a nice little protein source. We’re getting ready to have chickens! (I’m enjoying “beverly chickens”). I’m hoping to have three by the end of June or so. We’ll start with pullets since this is all very new and we’re both still working outside the home. We’re building the coop from an old play structure left by the former owners of our house. It’ll be an A-frame! I just ordered a solar oven. I also just ordered a hand powered grain mill/food processor. I’m planning to do more preserving/freezing this year. Oh yeah, I’m going to look for a smaller second hand fridge and implement your idea about an ice box. We already have a small chest freezer for creating the ice. I’m fourth on the wait list at the library for Gene Logsdon’s book, “Small Scale Grain Raising”. I doubt we can do much with it in our limited space, but it’s a learning point for me.

    So I guess the short story is, we’re fine for now and preparing for things to change soon. I get really scared sometimes because I know that my efforts and best intentions still leave me pretty much completely dependent on an unsustainable and dying system. I get morose at times because I realize the level of my complicity in the destructive system. I am feeling a lot of grief and sadness for the people all over the world who are already suffering, and anger about the greed and avarice that perpetuates so much of the bad stuff. Half the time I think I’m crazy as I walk through my world which seems all “business as usual.” I can’t figure out if it’s me who missed the memo, or them. I work hard at staying balanced, continuing to face it all with my head up and my eyes open.

    I started “Bellwether” yesterday. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. risa bear says:

    [from a recent post]

    Pleasant Hill, Oregon. Not much change in home prices yet, or increase in realtor’s signs. Big increase in humongous boats, hi-rise pickups and other testosterone toys for sale. Big jump in bus ridership. I have seen three Zap cars running around Eugene. An increase in solar panels. It’s very slow. I saw my first 4.00 gas (premium) today, so it’s clear the slope is becoming a slide is becoming a cliff. But people don’t want to discuss it. Shade fall over their eyes the very moment you say “locavore” to them.

    My beloved and I sometimes think we haven’t done much in the way of relocalization ourselves here at Stony Run, but thinking over the last fourteen years, as we recently were pointing out to each other, we could have done much worse.

    There is a good well and we produce enough compost and mulch not to need to bring in any, though I used to truck home many loads of leaves, and Beloved buys straw bales to use in the barn (grass clippings would work for that but they are a hassle in there and finicky to dry right).

    There’s no woodlot worthy of the name, but we have three kinds of maples (the bracts are edible, in spring), Oregon oaks, black cherries, Oregon ash, Douglas fir, grand fir, blue spruce, Scotch pine, cottonwood, shore pine, and some kind of local willow that coppices nicely for pea brush. But we have bought in more firewood than we have cut.

    At one time or another we have tried here Jerusalem artichokes, beets, bush and pole green, yellow or purple beans, lima beans, broad beans, scarlet runners, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choi, cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chiles, corn, cucumbers, lemon cukes, garlic, eggplant, elephant garlic, kale, leeks, lettuces, melons, nasturtiums, onions, bunching onions, parsnips, edible pod peas, bush and pole, all kinds of peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, red and white radishes, rhubarb, sunflowers, many varieties of tomatoes, winter squash, and green and yellow zukes. Of these, the Jerusalem artichokes, beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, zukes, rhubarb, garlic, corn, eggplant, and squash have been consistent perennial favorites. It’s not really warm enough for melons. And the soil is just too heavy for the carrots, though not for the beets, which do well enough.

    We have, or have had, apples and crabapples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, plums, raspberries, rose hips, red and white grapes, and filberts. The filberts have a bug problem, for which we are reluctant to spray. And our blueberries failed us and we failed our raspberries. We’ll try again. There’d be no getting rid of the blackberries if we wanted to, but they have earned their keep. And the apples have performed very well, and unsprayed at that. We did have one walnut tree that died before reaching nut size. A friend gives us quince in season.

    Grapes, two kinds and very good; when we wear out using them the chickens love having the rest.

    Not tried yet, though considered: peaches, kiwis.

    There are also, or have been, balm, parsley, basil, bergamot, comfrey, lavendar, mint, and sage. And, since we don’t poison the lawn, we also eat the dandelions and spring onions, and pasture as much of it as we can to the ducks, chickens, and geese (though the ducks prefer snails, of which there is an endless supply).

    We have the Khaki Campbell ducks, weeder geese, and the Barred Rocks and Araucanas. We have had sheep here a couple of times, as well, and in a former lifetime, in the Coast Range, a steer, a weaner pig and a couple of goats. Not yet tried here, another weaner pig, or maybe a Dexter cow/calf unit.

    We also co-exist with, and have seen here: wild ducks, wild geese, hawks, eagles, herons, California quail, pheasants, foxes, raccoons, possum (brought into Oregon by a homesick Southern restorateur — sheer madness) deer, no end of squirrels, a wide variety of songbirds, banded pigeons, mourning doves, a meadowlark, and one — so far, just one, once — cougar.

    We collect trout from about eight miles away, and get most of our entertainment and do much of our vacationing right here (watching the antics of a yard full of chickens beats Hollywood — kind of an everlasting rodeo/reality show).

    All the foods have been for our own use, except for most of the eggs, and we have been moderately successful in “putting by” for the winter, and winter harvesting as well.

    And we built much of our own furniture, made candles, insulated, did our own roof (which is overdue to redo), and the barn and greenhouse, as well as a lot of the fencing, and have done greywater (though not at present). And endless repairs to the funky old house with our own chapped hands, often using curbside freebies.

    Just built: Solar hot water from spare parts. So, yes, we think we could have done worse!

    But we both have such absorbing jobs that we often think we’re not really here. And the neighbors use their lovely pasture for motocross.

  7. Susan in NJ says:

    I’m in old suburban southern New Jersey. In terms of our household, it’s hard to separate the effect of the current economic environment from the budget changes resulting from the ordinary lumpiness of our income and the purchase of our small house two summers ago, a tax increase/escrow deficiency which added several hundred dollars to our otherwise attractive fixed mortgage. Last year’s reassessment (first in 10 years) shocked a lot of older residents. House prices are said to be stable to slightly positive in our area, but I question that “fact;” nothing seems to be selling. My town just told residents that it will have an approx. $200K shortfall in its $450K budget, due in part to decreases in state funds. But this is part of a long term systemic problem in NJ.
    I have never owned a car and don’t drive; our household vehicle is a Saturn hybrid, which we fill about once a month. Gas is comparatively cheap in NJ due to proximity of refineries and how it is taxed; but the price at the gas station next to my office is $3.44 today. Neither of us need to use the car for work except when we have to travel to court or depositions, and other travel is once a week consolidated shopping and several times a week fitness activities (swimming and tennis). We’re not to the point where we need/want to eliminate those activities.
    We don’t eat out much apart from business functions but this, I think, is largely a result of the improved kitchen situation over our apartment — and, I say modestly, we cook better than most of the convenient restaurants/diners.
    We are increasing garden space, but this was always the plan with the move to a house. Traffic seems relatively normal at independent garden shops, frenetic with novices requiring close assistance at the chain stores.
    I shop at conventional grocery stores mostly for less conventional items and notice prices are higher, usually in terms of a dramatic jump rather than creep. I think, and some merchants have confirmed, that the chains are trying to eat some of the increase until it just becomes “too much.” Organic relatively local eggs leaped almost a dollar at our primary store, but we can still buy them at the asian market for only 20 cents more than the old price, and even less at Whole Foods (which is both inconvenient and a nonlocal product — I don’t understand this with so many egg producers in PA). On the highly processed front, we notice this weekend that the price of bulksized Goldfish went from $6.99 two weeks ago, to $7.99 at one discount store. I see more bare shelves but this seems to the result of just in time shipping not meeting the needs of people buying in quantity as opposed to actual shortages. Rice seems readily available in the asian markets where we shop for it (but I haven’t been for two weeks). People in check out lines at regular stores still seem to be loading up on processed stuff — 20 Atkins diet pizzas anyone?
    I represent people who have lost their jobs, from the stories I hear I’d say things certainly aren’t getting any easier, but it’s hard to say that it’s worse in terms of looking for replacement employment, often a hard thing for people who are victims of discrimination. Cutbacks in state and local government employment go hand in hand with the tax situation. A contractor friend says business is way off, and a friend who does factory work on a construction related material has been facing regular layoffs this year.
    In general, people around here seem to complain a lot about food prices and gas, but any change in lifestyle is hard to evaluate from the outside of a household.

  8. Maeve says:

    I’m in Montana, and the milk prices are up. Unless there is a sale, conventional 2% milk is at or above $4 a gallon. The discount places like CostCo probably have it cheaper, but by watching sales I found I was able to regularly get food cheaper than their pricing so I didn’t renew that membership.

    Canned veggies are up- Albertsons used to run their store brand veggies at “20 for $10″. I think it was last week that I noticed their price sign said “10 for $7″.

    gasbuddy com site says the lowest Montana price for regular fuel is $3.41 /gallon; and in my area it ranges from $3.45 at CostCo to $3.55 out near the interstate. I’ve noticed more people walking, bicycling and riding scooters and motorcycles, but I don’t know how much of that is due to gas prices, and how much is just because we finally have nicer outdoor weather.

    We’ve had some unexpected expenses come up, which have negated my tax rebate plans. We’re ok for now for bills and food, but dealing with eyeglasses and dental checkups is going to be difficult, as our health insurance doesn’t cover those.

    I’m putting in a garden this year, and have transplanted some raspberries from a friend. I am hoping to amass enough canning jars to put up a large portion of our yearly veggies, but at $9-11 a dozen new, I think I’ll be forced to look at yard sales. I’ll have to buy new sealing lids as it is.

    We added insulation to our house this spring, which has already helped with our natural gas usage. We also went in on a local whole cow with friends, so have a side of beef in our deep freezer. My big worry is the grid going down and losing all of that (also why I’d rather can and dry fruit and veggies, instead of freezing them).

    I have a solar cardboard box oven I made last year, and didn’t have enough sun to test it out. So that will be coming out soon. I hope to build some sort of solar dehydrator as well, but with money tight I’m not sure if that will happen this year. I may end up doing the “sheet on the lawn” method.

    I did notice that a local store had signs posted up all over the entrance and elsewhere that said “did you remember your reusable bag?” And more people are talking about shopping clearance sales and whatnot.

    As a sign of the times for me, I went to WalMart last week on a day I expected there to be a swarm of people, and while it was busy, it wasn’t swamped. Nor were the roads in the shopping mall areas bumper-to-bumper with traffic. So people aren’t doing as much frivolous shopping locally, I would guess.

    can’t think of anything else this moment, and kids are clamoring for lunch, so I’m off.

    The thing is.. people have survived hard times before this, and we all will likely survive the current times too. Chin up and all that.

  9. Emily says:

    I placed a large bulk order (wheat, beans, rice, etc.) March 25th. I checked the prices again today for the same order and overall, prices are up about 15% in the last month.

    I’m doubling the size of my garden this year. I’m also rediscovering my inner tightwad. We’ve been blessed with two good jobs over the last few years, and while we still save like mad, I don’t pinch every penny. Now I’m going back to that, to some degree, and remembering to get outraged that “I could make that meal at home for $3 instead of paying $30 for it at a restaurant.”

    True luxury is being able to live within your means. We’re doing so more aggressively now just in case our means change drastically in the near future.

  10. Christina says:

    Just for the record… gas (petrol) is c. $8 a gallon in Sweden. Ethanol (E85) is c. $5.

    A big part of the price for gas is taxes. But were it not for the American recession gas would be even more expensive because the world market price for oil is in dollars. A weak dollar = cheaper gas for us.

    There is a reason why Europeans buy small, energy-efficient cars (though the Swedish Volvos are not exactly that, I’m afraid)

  11. Kasa says:

    Sunny Seattle, Washington reporting!

    Ha, it snowed last weekend.

    Anyway, food. Things aren’t too terrible here. I am a foodie who shops exclusively at the local co-op, so prices aren’t affecting me too much. I don’t yet have a cool space for storage, nor the money for it, but hopefully that will change soon. Frankly, I’m trying to pay attention to sales, but am ignoring everything else. I have to buy the food anyway, I might as well spare myself the price shock everytime I go to the store. I also actually quit my CSA – not practical for a single person – and have started going to our lovely farmer’s markets that are hitting full swing now. I’ve also begun dumpstering my bread again – we have a great local bakery that practically gives dumpsters and dumpsters of artisan loaves away every day. They even have been known to leave notes reminding us to leave the lids down. In fact, if I can get a few folks together, I’d like to start doing this more hardcore at other places soon. Nothing is cheaper than free!

    I live in an apartment, so I have pretty much no space for growing, but I’m going to see if maybe a neighbor or friend will give me some space. I have huge sunny windows in the southeast corner of my apt, so maybe they will provide me with a good herb and maybe tomato spot… Regardless, I plan on learning to can this summer, so at the very least I can provide myself and my friends with tomato sauce and jam all winter.

    The biggest change for me is transportation. I am finally giving up Etta, my Jetta, a decision I made the day gas reached $3.50 here. I really, really hate the inability to get out of town, something that has always bothered me but only increased since Katrina (I’m also sentimentally attached to my car, can’t you tell?) So I’ve put off actually getting rid of her. Maybe I will just drive her around the block a couple times a month to keep her alive and the neighbors placated (we have street parking here). At least the temptation to drive to work is gone now that I don’t have insurance.

    So now, I have to buy a bike… and then learn how to ride it. Anybody in Seattle want to teach a little lady to ride for a modest fee?

    I’m also about $200 bucks away from paying off my credit cards, so the next step is figuring out what to go to school for (I’m a young’n who needs an MA or something at this point to every improve my economic situation). Library, teaching, or something completely insane and peak oil inspired like midwifery.

    Oh, on the upside, my friends don’t want to talk about it much, but they have pretty much accepted the fact of peak oil. They have been making comments and doing small things like gardening and stocking up on a few things on their own – a bunch of us has even been talking about buying a place together, though I’m not sure how likely that would actually be. I’m proud and thankful to be surrounded by such fantastic, supportive friends, especially being so incredibly far from my family.

  12. maria says:

    from the Washington, DC border: Here in our urban area/”streetcar suburb”, we don’t have the space or the legal freedom to own farm animals of basically any kind (even though we technically have room for chickens). I seem to have missed my opportunity to start keeping honeybees this year, but next year it’s on the to-do list.

    We’re not at all attached to our lawn, and we intend to devote more and more of it to growing vegetables as soon as we are able (invasive plants are a big challenge in this area–we are currently involved in an ongoing battle with some bamboo). We’ll probably have to get more creative about container growing. Again, space is an issue, but we’ll probably get a chest freezer so we can store our own produce and any produce/meat we buy from our CSA and local (more rural) farms.

    Our local food co-op sells numerous varieties of dry beans in bulk, and those are often the cheapest way for us to eat whole, nutritious meals without breaking the bank.

    We drive as little as possible, and we have a small, fuel-efficient four-door sedan. We won’t get need anything bigger, or a bigger house, until we have more children. At this point, we feel that we can’t afford (on a personal level, but also on a global level) to add to our family. When we are personally ready, there is a good chance we will make a proactive choice to adopt.

    Perhaps most importantly, we are beginning to reach out to others in our community. I recently discussed starting a network of urban farmers with another young woman, and I think we are going to work to make that a reality.

    We are passing the message to my stepdaughter and other children that while newer technologies can be vastly helpful in learning, we can do without, and we can definitely do without in terms of entertainment.

    And we’re going to walk to the pool every day this summer!

  13. rosemoon says:

    We have worked really hard this past winter, and now spring, to reduce our grocery store purchases, and I feel like we are succeeding. I feel proud of myself and my family for working together towards this goal, especially now that grocery prices here in NC have taken a few noticeable jumps lately. Now we’re working towards reducing the animal feed bill, and making slow but sure progress.

    We have our own eggs, chicken & duck, lamb & pork, goat milk and Jersey cow milk, an extensive garden, and some fruit. We make our own butter and cheese, We’re growing corn this year, and are experimenting with a sourdough cornbread (which is really, really good!) We’re growing sorghum with a group of neighbors, with whom we’ll also cook it down (a big community event), and we were given a hive of bees, but just have to go pick them up.

    We don’t have much food stored. We always keep 50 or 75 lbs of rice around, just because we like rice and it’s cheaper to buy it that way. Some beans, some wheat. Our focus has been more on what we can produce (and then store, of course) than what we can stock up on from the store; we’re working hard to not only grow what we can, but also use it and enjoy it (hence the sourdough cornbread).

    I wish for more fruit trees, and we’re putting together a fruit order right now.

    I’m also wishing for less dependence on grain for the animals, and while we’re working towards that, it’s challenging. Especially with goats, but we’ve already resigned ourselves to phasing out the goat herd if need be. The cow has less parasite problems, and does so well on grass, with less grain. The pigs are grain-free, eating leftover dairy, pasture, and scraps, and rooting through the manure of the animals that get grain.

  14. Shira says:

    Here in Bellingham, Washington, right up at the corner of the country, there is an odd sense of creeping, quietly gathering storm. It comes in whispers and asides. People old enough to remember WW II talk about the price of gas ($3.79 and up) and then their voice drops and they mutter “depression”, as if to say it too loudly is to join the nutcase ranks. Friends pass the word to stock up. My cousin lost her flower shop in California and she moved in with my mother here in Bellingham, a wispy smoke signal from the economy.
    Sales of vegetable starts are brisk. People who have never before grown anything edible, to my knowledge, are talking about starting a little garden, out back you know, for the kids. People who have little gardens are talking chickens. The price of bulk organic unbleached flour went up 50 cents a pound in one month at the co-op and is holding. A 25 pound bag of sugar is about $11, significantly up, and jam season hasn’t even started. Diesel is $4.59. The farmer’s market is wildly popular, but then it has been a point of civic pride for years.
    Curiously, even when the conversation seems to be about something else, people start talking about their self-reliance skills, quilting or mushroom foraging or canning tomato sauce, about how hubby used to bow hunt deer or how they used to have goats, or how spinning is such a rewarding hobby. It’s as if in the middle of this small city, where there is no shortage of anything and the same air freighted cornucopia fills the stores as usual, people are suddenly inventorying their skill set and exchanging notes.
    I’m self-employed, and my nutcase behavior goes back years, an adaptation to wild income fluctuations. I’ve always bought bulk dry goods, baked bread, made jam and had a little garden. The mild maritime climate is great for gardening. In the middle of winter, we could always get something green, even if it was a chard and leek omelet, again. I moved to a house on a postage stamp city lot a couple of years ago. I’m still working on the edible landscaping, pulling out shrubs and lawn and replacing them with raised beds and permaculture. This summer, I’m planting the herb garden and pulling out some monster shrubs to make room for blueberry bushes, making beer and saving seed from heirloom broccoli, beets and tomatoes. I’m thinking that the next step is learning to make soft cheese.

  15. Megan says:

    3 posters on this topic are from my small city. I knew that there must be a squadron of Hamsters lurking here. :) Hi neighbors!

  16. Theresa says:

    Alberta, Canada here.

    Gas is $4.68 a US gallon, more for diesel. Natural gas was $10.50 a gJ – the highest ever. (I used to complain when it went up from 2/gJ in the summer to 3 in the winter, about 5 years ago!). I live in tar sands country, so most people here are oblivious to anything other than their chromed-out, 4X4 diesel dually pick up truck, with the extra-loud muffler.

    House prices haven’t come down, but they’ve stopped going up, and sales are much slower. There are thousands of houses on the market when this time last year people would pay 10s of thousands over the list price to buy anything.

    Costco is limiting bulk quantities of rice, and flour too I think, but that’s been pointed out before.

    I’m gardening in earnest this year, have joined a CSA farm as well, and I’m cooking a lot more food from scratch. I’ve gotten really good at bread-baking.

    I’m trying to become a ‘nutcase’ and I have a lot to learn yet! Still trying to figure out what to plant when, and where and find the time to do so while still working 5 days a week. Husband has managed to cut back to one day a week, and we’ve paid off a bunch of debt. We had some non-RRSP (I think that’s like a 401K in the US) savings that we cashed in to get the debt of the books. I’m trying to just do things and learn things and not panic. Most days I can, but some days are rough.

    I was encouraged somewhat the other day when husband said, “let’s plant potatoes everywhere!”

  17. robin says:

    Northern California here.

    I am going to be the brother in law on the couch.

    My family of five (husband, 3 kids under 11) will be putting up a yurt on my parents 10 acres next month. The land has been paid for for years and there is a good well. We are going to look for work, but will be growing enough food and wood to survive if jobs disappear. A few months ago I bought several hundred pounds of bulk dried beans and flour and things. This spring I spent $700 on seeds, seed potatoes and bareroot edible plants. I am thinking of ordering more potatoes and bean and corn seed.

    We are leaving behind a house in foreclosure and a failed retail business in a non-essential industry. That part smarts a little, but we are moving to a pretty secure situation.

  18. robin says:

    Sorry, posted that last comment too soon.

    Being in a retail business we have watched consumers sharply curtail their spending. Just last fall the average sale for our store was $30. Lately it is $10. Less customers in the door, too.

    Gas is 3.99 here. Bread has gone up 50% this month, cheese 30%. We don’t buy factory farmed meat, but I have noticed the low sale prices I used see aren’t appearing any more.

  19. J. Porios says:

    Tallahassee, FL. Gasoline at 3.65 USD, Diesel at 4.16 USD to the gallon. Food prices rose mid March everywhere from wallymart to the corner store. Milk is up twenty cents at 4.19 the gallon.

    I’m a college freshman and I am still dependent on my parents for an income, and frankly, I’m worried about their financial state since their substantial mortgages date from the last bits of the housing bubble. However I’m quite thankful that I personally do not have any debt whatsoever. I live frugally and am working to reduce the amount of processed foods I buy, baking my own bread, cooking my meals from scratch. I don’t have a car, and I bike my errands and trips and whatnot.

    Thus far, I have been applying the food storage lessons from this blog and have started to get my parents to do the same. I discovered a number of local food markets and will start buying from them the next time I do groceries. I rent a duplex, and the landlord isn’t too keen on my gardening plans, so I’m going to start a container garden. My father used to be a farmer and I hope to glean some knowledge from him.

    This being Florida, there isn’t that much need for heating during the winter though I am considering acquiring additional blankets or even a sleeping bag. Summer is for all purposes here since mid-April, and the larger struggle has been keeping cool.
    Going around the neighborhoods, I’ve been noticing that a number of them, especially in the Black parts of town have quite a number of backyard gardens. The city has an active rail line passing through it, and used to have a passenger stop before Katrina. I really have no idea how or who to talk to in order to push for the resumption of passenger service. The city bus system is excellent, though I have not noticed any change in ridership.

    I really want to stay in this city, and I will do what I can to acquire some property here. I want to do more, but I feel hampered by the push pull timing of the banking crisis. I want to save money and buy a property but I also feel that if I save up now, it would be for naught as the crisis affects the currency. I also feel conflicted in these times over the value of college education because although I feel that its important, it sure isn’t as important as securing my well-being in these times.

  20. homebrewlibrarian says:

    Some news from Anchorage, AK:

    This morning a friend called me around 11:30 about her experience at Costco. She’d gone to Costco over the weekend to buy rice but there was none. She and others noticed the 5 bag limit sign over the space the rice was located. An employee told her that another shipment would arrive on Monday. So she went over there around 11 am this morning – to find an empty space. When she queried an employee she was told that, yes indeed, they’d gotten a shipment in but by 10 am when the doors opened there was a significant line of people waiting. Apparently it got pretty exciteable in the rice aisle because the police had to be called to keep people from fighting over rice. In 30 minutes all the rice was gone even with a 5 bag limit.

    This afternoon I stopped by a popular grocery that specializes in Asian foods for a rice update. The sign on their door said that they were limiting rice sales to one bag per person. The area that held all their 25-50 lbs bags was completely empty although the aisle with smaller quantities of rice still had a good amount. Across the street at the natural foods grocery, 25-50 lbs bags of rice were still available although none of it was plain white rice (it didn’t look like the carried it in that volume anyway). They had plenty of rice in the bulk aisle, too. Since the prices in this grocery are higher than practically anywhere else, I’m guessing no one is thinking to buy quantities of rice there. But it is available if you want it that bad.

    Gas prices are $3.64 USD and diesel is 4.10 USD. I mostly ride the bus and have returned to riding my bike so I’m not affected by gas prices all that much. Most of my food has been purchased through a local organic food buying club and through a CSA in Washington that ships to Alaska (I’m going to drop that after I get through all my prepaid boxes and go back to the local CSA once it starts up again plus my building mates and I will be gardening this year). The owner of this building (a duplex with second floor third unit added on to it) is a very long time friend who is my compatriot in facing the future. He’s got three years left on the mortgage and the both of us decided we’d become indigenous. That’s it, we’re staying right here. You should listen in on all our conversations about plans for the rather small, urban lot we live on. If we can pull this off, it will be nothing short of amazing.

    Houses aren’t selling very fast in our neighborhood. I haven’t paid attention to prices or property taxes so can’t comment on those. On both corners of our block are properties in flux. On the north end, the duplex is mostly boarded up and vacant for years and the only reason we didn’t start guerrilla gardening this year was the building permit to upgrade the electrical work that was dated in early July of last year. Far as we can tell, not a thing has been done so we’re waiting to see if anything happens by the time the permit expires in July. If not, we’ve got plans… On the south end of the block, the house that had burned and stood like that for years was torn down last year and the foundations for a set of four condos poured. Not a thing happened during the winter (not a huge surprise) but even with the weather becoming more clement, nothing has happened there yet this year. I keep looking at them and thinking “root cellars.”

    This city is contemplating backyard animals (poultry in particular) and looking into regs for wind generation. I’m keeping my eye on both. Hopefully by next year we’ll be able to have some chickens and whatever regs they put together for wind generation won’t be for mega sized lots. We don’t get enough sunny days to make solar generated electricity that feasible although we’re considering doing passive solar to heat water.

    We’re considering augmenting our baseboard radiator heaters with wood stoves. This being Alaska, it’s almost expected to do something like that. I paid to have a large cluster of cottonwood trees that shaded the entire backyard taken down so that we can put in garden beds but we kept all the wood. Might not be the best wood for burning but once it’s cured, it can be burned and we won’t have to buy any. And we have lots.

    Kerri in AK

  21. Louise says:

    Salem, OR here. 1.5 ac, husband makes good money, I work from home. 3 teenage kids at home. Grandma’s got them hooked on shopping, shoes, cell phones, gaming consoles, it’s ridiculous.

    Gas prices at $3.59, bio blend deisel at $4.13. Sister works at Winco, told me an asian restaurant tried to buy 96 – 20# bags of rice. Would only sell 20. Haven’t noticed any price increases.

    We have a herd of chickens, lots of eggs. Raised 2 porkers last year. Would like to raise a dexter, some nigerian dwarfs, and some meat rabbits. Have a horse that I can’t sell, nobody’s buyin.

    Am an inconsistant gardner (gotta fix that). Have asian pears, several apple varieties, 2 cherries and 2 peaches that never did anything, 2 pawpaws, a mulberry, 2 chestnuts, 2 hazzlenuts, a walnut, blueberries, aroniaberries. Would like to add quince, tea, stevia, another mulberry, strawberries, fuzzy kiwis, and bamboo.

    I’m thinking of trying aquaponics, raising trout and veggies for farmers market. I spend more time reading doom than preparing for it.

    Nice plans, but we’re so far behind the 8 ball, we should sell and start over. I just don’t want to start over.

  22. clive says:

    We live on a remote island in Australia. Gasoline is $2 per litre, or $7.50/gallon. People don’t have to travel too far around here. I have noticed more people riding bicycles to school this year (2-3 on average last year, 6-8 on average this year).
    We too have dentist appointments scheduled. Good tip on the tetanus booster.

    Stopped in at the optometrist and got a new pair of glasses. Need to order contact lenses to carry me through for a while.
    I’ve obtained spare supplies for my bicycle.

    Despite the fact I’m a poor fisherman, I’ve stocked up on basic fishing gear and bought a basic fishing guide.

    Spent $150 on seeds and propagation equipment from my mail order membership house.

    A few of us in our living area (four duplexes) are laying the foundation for a small community garden. Considering getting a chook pen.

    The people who lived here before us planted a coconut tree, for which I’m grateful. I’ve stocked the grounds around us with fish carcasses, which has reaped a stack of coconuts this year. Still acquiring more fish carcasses. Planted out 12 paw-paw trees and gave away about 100 seedlings to others in the area.

    Composting. Planting beans, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin, spinach, basil, peas, eggplant, lettuce, rockmelon (canteloupe), passion fruit and a banana tree.

    I’m planning to conduct a calorie analysis of our pantry to see how much our current stock would carry us through if things go awol.

    1) Add the calories of all of your food on hand.

    2) Calculate or determine how many calories you and your family need on an average day, then add 20% to account for the fact that you’ll be doing a lot more walking, cycling, and gardening. Or maybe 30%. Or 100%?

    3) Divide the total calories in your pantry by the average calories needed per day. Presto. This is the number of days you can sustain your current calorie intake without buying, harvesting, or hunting down a single thing. Math turned out to be useful after all. Sure didn’t do us much good on the human equity front, did it?

    Also purchased some multivitamins to augment the diet if necessary. I recommend the ones that you can break up, as they will last you a lot longer and will reduce nutrient wastage.

    I am actually spending more money than I usually would, based on an anecdote about bartering I believe that I can attribute to JH Kunstler. I am thankful that I do not spend on credit. Australia has no deposit insurance, so we’d certainly be better off with some small physical assets rather than a bank account that has evaporated into thin air, should the banking crisis fully explode. The assets I’m looking at may include a liquor and tobacco cabinet (good for bartering), toiletries, cleaning products, lubricants, how-to books and magazines, a couple of solar panels with a couple of deep cycle batteries, an AC/DC inverter, and possibly another bicycle. Also slowly building an inventory of potable water. Might look at a couple more jerrycans and gasoline. A brewing kit might be in the offing, but it’s pretty warm up here (70 degrees F in the dark in the winter). Advice anyone?

    The next step may be to acquire some basic building and repair supplies, such as glues, silicons, fasteners, and cements; and to consider an improvement on my current tool kit. This will help to maintain the building and furnishings in our lives, or at least slow their decay.

    Putting bids on a woodworking book, a canning and preserving book, and an electrical applicance repair manual.

    I don’t really know if any of this is going to be needed. I truly hope not. Even if it is needed, I don’t know if it will make a massive difference or any difference at all. At least we tried. But I’ve got the philosophy that if the prep wasn’t needed, in hindsight, well, at least I can have a whiskey and a cigar with my mates whilst we go out fishing. And if it is needed, well, JH Kunstler told us so.

  23. Sarah says:

    Food prices haven’t directly affected me so much, because our diet has shifted so drastically what with seasonal variation combined with Rioting that we’re buying almost none of the same things that we did a year ago. I don’t have a car, so I’m not sure what the gas prices are in Waltham, but I have noticed other people complaining. We went to the co-op in Cambridge yesterday to stock up on bulk stuff, and all of the wheat berries, two types of bulk pasta, and several types of flour were completely out of stock. I bought some kamut instead to try out the grain grinder that should be arriving soon (The bean auger arrived yesterday. I’m glad we can grind beans, but it would be nice to have the rest of the grinder as well ;-) )The rice was well-stocked, though, and there were also plenty of big bags of it at the Korean grocery in Waltham. I didn’t notice any shortages last time I went to the regular grocery store, either. We’re growing small amounts of peas, beans, soybeans, and potatoes in the front yard, but most of our veggies will come from the CSA, and I’m so glad we got a full share this year. We’ll have enough to put up for next winter and to invite people over for giant celebratory salads.

  24. Tara says:

    Someone asked me about uses for honeysuckle – in case that person is checking back here, or if anyone else wants to know – I have a WALL of the stuff trying to cover my house and yard. I don’t think I could begin to clear it away, since it’s so invasive, so I’ve decided to make the best of it! I harvest the flowers, which are plentiful right now and dry them to use in tea, add to bath water, or use as potpourri. I also plan to try making perfume from them. Since they’re so, well, viney, it’s only a matter of time before my husband strips the leaves and uses it for cordage. It’s my understanding that it also has medicinal uses, but we have not tried that. Here’s a link with some info on that: http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_honeysuckle.htm

  25. Shira says:

    Hi from Bellingham, WA, the fourth corner of the continent, and greetings to Megan and other ‘hamsters out there.
    The stockage level of grains is falling here as well; I guess I just don’t get out to shop very often. Last night, I went to a warehouse-type store that mostly supplies restaurants and our numerous expresso stands (fourth highest per capita coffee consumption in the U.S., right up there with N.Y.C., S.F. and Seattle.)
    No rice, except for a few scattered 5 lb bags of Uncle Ben’s Chicken Infused, in a place that normally has stacks of 50 lb bags. Low on flour of all types, with some out completely. The lower shelves in other aisles, where they keep the big stuff, looked a bit ragged.
    The place looked normal two weeks ago, except that they were out of rye flour. There have been reports of a shortage of rye flour for the bakery trade for weeks. Since I went there for rye flour, it’s time to get some rye berries and grind some up.

  26. Lori says:

    Sharon,

    I haven’t read all the way through everything on this post yet, but I wanted to put in my two cents about what happened yesterday at Costco (in Anchorage, Alaska). To start off with, I should say that on Saturday, as we were doing our usual shopping, plus adding some extra for stocking up, we decided to get some rice, since supplies are low. It isn’t a crisis for us, as we have 4 5-gallon buckets of it, but with 6 people in my family, we felt like adding some more would not be a bad thing. Well, the pallets where rice should be were practically empty, with all the white rice gone, and only a few 12-lb bags of brown rice remaining. I grabbed one bag of the brown, and decided that was all the brown rice I would buy then, as it doesn’t stay good as long as the white. I asked the Costco guy standing nearby when the next delivery was expected. He stated it would be Monday.

    So, on Monday, as I am running around town for work (my work requires me to travel all over town, but I drive a van that is owned and fueled by the state) I decided around 11:30-ish to swing by Costco and see if rice had come in. Well, when I got there, there was NO rice, not even any brown rice. So I again stopped a Costco employee and asked him about it. He stated that a shipment had indeed come in and was on the shelf by the time they opened that morning, but that there had been a line of people standing outside waiting for them to open, and all the rice was gone in 15 minutes. He reported that there was actually fistfights over the rice, and a couple bags of it got torn and spilled because people were playing a not-so-friendly game of tug of war with the bags.

    I decided that at that point, I really didn’t need to add to our supply of rice badly enough to get into fistfights over it, and that if I changed my mind, I would be sending my husband next time, as he is much better at that sort of thing!

    Lori

  27. Lisa H. says:

    Here in SF Bay area we are feeling the increases in both fuel and some food prices and shortages and home foreclosures. Cheapest gas is now $3.90/gallon. We have a 23 y/o compact (paid off) which gets 20 mpg and 4 y/o van (almost paid off) which gets 16 mpg. When our van was stolen at the end of February (since recovered) our insurance adjuster accused us of dumping it and pretending it was stolen due to the rising gas prices!!! While we were w/o the 2nd car we signed up for Zip car (hourly rental) and loved it. The Zip cars are garaged at our local BART (train) parking lot which is 3 blocks from our house. It gave us another option and we’re considering getting rid of one of our cars and renting hourly or daily when needed. DH, older dd and I all take public transit, younger dd carpools. We plan to walk and bike more for local errands; walking takes longer but biking is not safe on many streets so we need to strategize a little. We live in a wonderful area with public transit, many services, library, farmer’s market within walking distance.

    I was in Sharon’s original food storage class and have a very long to do list; organized by quarter. We have the same Costco shortages/rationing previously mentioned. Our local bulk store has had intermittent single item short term shortages like rolled oats and gallon size local organic milk. We joined a local CSA (w/in 100 miles) which grows wheat as well as veggies: I’m picking up 5 lbs of fresh ground wheat this week. I bought 20 lbs each of yellow onions and potatoes and stored them in the basement along with 60 lbs of flour (org), 50 lbs of white sugar, 20 lbs of brown sugar etc. I fill in the edges from our local farmers market and can also get free-range eggs and non-feedlot beef and pork. I put up 10 half pints of Meyer lemon marmalade and have plans to go to organic u-pick farms for tomatoes, berries and peaches to can and freeze. I bought bulk soy beans and have ordered a soy milk maker this week and will see if we can become independent from purchased soy creamer and milk. Our plan is to put in some fruit trees this fall. We have a very small yard, most of the soil is lead-contaminated so we are limited to container gardening until we replace the retaining wall and soil (min $10k, yuck).

    We don’t buy a lot new, although my husband is lusting after a flat screen TV, lol. We do buy new energy star appliances but have taught our kids to yard sale, shop Salvation Army and other resale stores: recently we got an almost new bike for younger dd for $20 and a French coffee press for $3. Older dd gets the clothing labels she craves for a tenth the price from consignment shops. Hand-me-downs remind us, positively, of the people who gave them to us. Every other year I get second hand ski jackets, vests, long underwear, hats, boots etc. from a local high school’s annual “winter” sale. We also made a decision to NOT take a vacation over winter break this year: the cost of air travel is just too high.

  28. Sealander says:

    Kia ora from New Zealand

    Petrol (gas) is around NZ$1.91 a liter here, $2 in more remote areas. Near as I can work out, that is $5.92 US dollars a gallon. About half of that is taxes. What’s really daft is the fact that we have oilfields here but the oil is shipped to Australia to be refined because apparently it is cheaper to do it there.

    Overall inflation in grocery prices is around 10% in the last year. Dairy product prices have shot through the roof, not due to shortages but because they command such good prices when exported. Some weeks lately a kilo of plain cheese (about the amount an average family would use in a week) is around NZ$15, and butter last week was nearly NZ$5 for half a kilo. Droughts in some regions have brought the cost of meat down as farmers cull stock – most meat sold in this country is pasture grown. The same droughts have pushed the price of tomatoes up 80% in one month.

    We’re not seeing any shortages in the shops. I buy feed wheat for my chickens but have not seen any increase in price as yet, and bread still seems okay. Prices for restaurant meals have shot up and owners say they have noticed people are cutting back – we went out recently and were shocked to find the main courses at a fairly average cafe were up to NZ$35-39.

    The property market has finally calmed down from a sustained boom, driven partly by increased immigration. The predictions are that prices will probably drop 20-30% which is not a bad thing as they were getting overvalued. Interest rates on mortgages are in the 9-10% range and don’t look likely to decrease for the next year.

    On the plus side here unemployment is around 3%, there are more jobs than people, and unlike you poor sods in the US, we get 4 weeks vacation a year (even if we can’t afford to drive anywhere for it anymore :)

    I’ve been trying to increase our household’s overall level of self sufficiency over the last year. I doubled the size of the vegetable garden, have been making loads of jam and chutney from our own trees and donated fruit. I started a flock of chickens (with rooster) last year so we only need to buy eggs in winter now, and the home grown eggs are replacing a lot of meat meals. You’re allowed to keep chickens even in the inner city here. I don’t think we can quite manage to squeeze in a goat but I am considering getting a beehive in the spring. I have been drying tomatoes and peppers and have started trying to make yoghurt.
    I’ve found that bulk buying does not necessarily pay off here – often the price by weight for the larger sack/can etc. is actually more expensive than buying a lot of small packages.

    With the cost of fuel and the car needing some expensive repairs we are considering giving it up altogether for a while until we save enough money for another one. Our city has good public transport and we live within 10 minutes walk of most of the shops so it is feasible…..I think the final decision will be based on the next time the motor gives out :)

    Keep up the good work all of you.

    By the way, the Australian Soil and Health Library http://soilandhealth.org/index.html has a PDF copy of Gene Logsdon’s book on small scale grain growing. You can download it from there for a donation.

  29. Central Oklahoma (US) here. We’re doing fine.

    We sold our home in southern California at the top of the housing bubble (my husband got transferred) and with the price differential we made quite a bit on the deal, got three times the lot and half again as big a house (something we might regret as far as the house size goes).

    We had lived in CA 14 years and almost paid off the house. We had intended on retiring there but the aerospace industry has all but left CA so it was either move or him get another job, and he’s within ten years of retirement.

    So we had to start over in a sense.

    Prices are less in OK than in CA by a good amount, which has helped too. Gas right now is $3.42, milk was $3.79 at the store yesterday for 2%. I’ve noticed some gaps in the stores but of the cheap stuff. Two years ago the General Motors plant closed and the area is in a slump because of that, so there’s a lot of people barely making it.

    I’m an organic gardener, so I sort of began gardening again, but with the clouds on the horizon news-wise I began learning about permaculture and gardening in earnest. This is my second season of serious gardening in OK, and while it’s different than what I’m used to, this year is going well so far.

    There’s good and bad here. The local food network is excellent; there is no transit system at all. People are courteous and friendly (very low crime rate), but there’s a lot of unemployment and the city I’m in has already banned soliciting, I’m thinking looking forward to a time where there may be more homeless.

    As far as my personal preps, I have about six months food stored, between freeze dried, canned, and frozen. I’ve planted three fruit trees and a lot of smaller perennial fruits/vegetables. Some survived the winter, some didn’t and will have to be repurchased. I have a rudimentary rainwater catchment system, have worked hard to bring down our personal energy needs, and have a couple of angora rabbits that are dealing with our weed problem and our soil fertility issues at the same time. :)

    But I’d like to get the garden to the point that I’ll be able to start putting up food like I did back in CA. One step at a time, I guess.

  30. HFE says:

    This is the first time I’ve commented, and I wanted to say I love your blog, and your posts elsewhere, and look forward to reading your book. I’m not sure what it says about me that yours and Soule Mama’s blog are my two must-read daily internet stops.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading the comments on this post.

    We’re in metropolitan San Diego. It’s already expensive to live here, but gas and food prices are definitely rising. Neither I nor my husband own a car (which is REALLY unusual here in I-love-my-car-So-Cal) so rising gas prices isn’t affecting us directly (though it may foil our potential family-visiting plans this Fall).

    We bought our first house two years ago at the worst possible time, so we now have negative equity, huge mortgage and property tax payments and a reduced income since we had a baby last year. Our interest rate will go up next year, so if we can’t renegotiate, we’ll likely have to sell at a loss. The houses around us are selling for about $80,000 less than they were 2 years ago. We get a little nostalgic and misty-eyed about our days of renting.

    We’re also in the awful cycle of working to pay for people to take care of our child. I needed to increase my hours at work (and don’t get me started on my 1 day of paid maternity leave) so that on paper we were making enough money to work out our mortgage issues. Meanwhile that ‘extra’ money is paying someone else to take care of our daughter while I work 30 hours a week. We finally got into a child care center at the university where my husband works, which is nice for our commute and our schedule and our pocketbook, but they refuse to use our cloth diapers (the days of diaper pins and plastic pull-ons are gone, people!), and get confused about the food I pack for her. Institutional training seems to knock the common sense out of people, no?

    Other than that, we have it pretty good, and I try to appreciate it every day when I hear about misery in other parts of the world or even the country. The weather, though weird in recent years, is what we’re famous for, and when things aren’t bursting into flames (not here in urban S.D.), we grow food year ’round, or can get it at the Farmer’s Markets year ’round. Really–local bananas (though they are hard to find). And although I see more people at the Farmer’s Markets now, it’s still sort of a novelty for most people. Something fun to do on a weekend, like going to the Zoo. It isn’t where most people get their staples like it is for us. Like another San Diego-ite above, I haven’t noticed much of an increase in prices at the Markets. Just at the grocery stores, and mostly for anything that’s processed, like pasta. Though at my local Von’s, I noticed that a 5lb. bag of King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour is $6.79, while the Von’s O brand Organic UAPF was $3 something. The other usual grocery store flours were all under $3 I believe. We go out of our way to buy milk in another neighborhood (sort of a pain because we carry those glass bottles to and fro on foot!) because our local grocery store only sells Organic CAFO milk–Horizon and Von’s O brand. And petroleum prices be damned, I’d rather get my milk from happy Bay Area cows than from the dairies in my 100 mile radius.

    We have a small corner lot, and we’re growing some of our food, and this year I put a raised bed right smack in the middle of the front lawn for my corn/squash/beans. If we don’t sell the house next year, I’ll probably remove all trace of lawn by next Spring. Here in the city, though I get the occasional skunk and ‘possum nosing around my composter, it’s the neighborhood cats that are the pests. I have to tie a grid of twine over my raised beds and Earth Boxes to keep them from ‘littering’.

    This will be the first year I actually do any preserving other than drying tomatoes and herbs. I swear I will can my own tomatoes this summer! And I look forward to more posts on food preservation here. Seriously, there’s a yahoo group for this? Must check that out…

    This is also the first year that I am actually tracking our food use and costs. I’m curious, but I also am a little overwhelmed at the prospect of living off of stored food, should it come to that, because I have no idea at what rate we consume! It’s quite enlightening!

    For those who are curious about chicken laws in other cities–it’s legal to own up to 25 chickens in the city of San Diego, so long as they are 50 feet from any residence. There are noise restrictions for roosters, though. I can’t imagine being able to afford a big enough lot for that here in the city, so it probably won’t happen for us. Until then, we pay a hell of a lot of money for happy eggs.

  31. So after all talking about her do you guys think she has a penis ?

  32. Think the html is b0rked as the page looked a bit off

  33. guva says:

    The whole page looks just fine to me.

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