Independence Day Update: Back and Meditations on the Project

Sharon July 6th, 2008

Hi folks - Well, I had a great week, but of course, mostly didn’t spend it doing things to make myself more sustainable.   I did go garage saling with Mom and step-Mom and found the motherload of Eli sized winter clothes (yay!), and while it wasn’t my community, I got to visit my parents’ community garden and wish that I could have a community garden plot too, but that’s pretty much it. 

But I thought I’d mull, for a moment, on how the project is going.  I admit, I’m really liking the way it is helping me overcome my own flaws.  You see, I tend to be a “sustained time” kind of project person.  That is, I like to work on things uninterrupted, and get totally engrossed in them. Now the realities of parenthood have cured me of that to some degree, but with my garden and food preservation, I’ve still tended to think “Oh, I only have 20 minutes before I have to do X- that’s not enough time to…”  And the really good thing about this project is that it is a reminder that 20 minutes of weeding makes an enormous difference, that I can shell some peas for the dehydrator now and put the rest in later.  It is definitely forcing me to make better use of my time.

Right now there are more jars of canned and dehydrated food than I’ve ever managed at the same time of this year.  And that, too, makes me happy.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not making mistakes, but I’m doing better than last year, and the year before, and that’s how to look at this - not “did I compete with X person” but “am I doing better than I was?”

A couple of notes.  If you plan to sign up for the food preservation (and yes, I still have a couple of spots), the deadline is Monday evening, so please send me an email ASAP. If you’ve already signed up, and haven’t gotten an organizational email, my apologies, please email me one more time - I’m assured that as of yesterday, emails should no longer be disappearing from my box into the void.  If you have signed up and gotten your organizational email, please make sure you subscribe to the yahoogroup - this applies only to registered class members. 

Also, tomorrow is the first post in the post-apocalyptic reading group - we’ll be discussing Heinlein’s _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_.  I’m really looking forward to it. 

 Cheers,

 Sharon

21 Responses to “Independence Day Update: Back and Meditations on the Project”

  1. Martinon 06 Jul 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Gosh, better the finish the book tonight then!

  2. Grandma Mision 06 Jul 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Just got confused… is there a separate group we need to join for the book club discussion????

  3. Sharonon 06 Jul 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Nope, not at all - the book discussion will be right here.

    Cheers,

    Sharon

  4. Wendyon 06 Jul 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve found the same to be true for me - that participating in this “challenge” has made me more mindful of what I’m doing. I’ve already preserved more than I had by this time in years’ past, and I’m paying more attention to the kinds of things that we use regularly … that we like having (like toothpaste and laundry soap :).

    There have also been some side effects that you may or may not have intended, and it has to do with my family’s lifestyle and our lifestyle choices. Specifically, I’ve found that we’ve been cutting down on the amount of time we spend “being” entertained. There’s more “doing” stuff than simply “watching”, which has been a really nice change. It struck me while I was stacking wood today that even though we’re spending a lot more time doing things just to subsist, there’s still plenty of time to have fun, and I haven’t heard any complaints, yet, along the lines of “all work and no play” and life being dull. On the contrary, I’ve found that my life is actually more FULL, and those things I chose to spend time doing are much more meaningful.

    So, thank you for challenging us with moving toward a greater independence, and while I may say that I don’t feel like I’m making as much progress as someone else in the challenge, the reality is that I’m not really competing with anyone else, as we are all in different places, and the changes I’m making in my life are appropriate for my place.

    I’m doing MUCH better than I was, and even though I’m preparing for an uncertain future, I feel so much more present in the NOW than I ever have. Did you know that this would be the result for some of us :)?

  5. Sarahon 06 Jul 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Welcome back!

    Quick thought: if there is a movie month and/or optional movie add-ons to the book club, we really, really need to see WALL-E. It manages to be a chilling parable of the current state of humanity and a happy robot love story, and be rated G, while using almost no narration for large portions of it.

  6. Gailon 06 Jul 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Hello from Colorado

    I think the gift of the challenge to me is the credit we all get for baby steps in the right direction. And just as 20 minutes of weeding adds up, so does everything else. New skills, bigger gardens, creativity, economy and foresight. Plus, as Wendy points out, it’s fun.

    Plant: moved some tomatoes into a bare spot in the front yard

    Harvest: peas, gooseberries, last of the spinach and lettuce, dill, basil,chard,kale, a few cherries

    Preserved: Gooseberries

    Prepped: DP has agreed to move into my basement rooms and so now I have to finish the bath and pull up the carpet and clean up my stuff!? so I made a list and made all of the initial phone calls necessary. Pulled the toilet and painted behind it today. I have been thinking about doing this for years. Real sense of accomplishment and relief.

    Cooked something new/learned a skill: Started over on sourdough starter and goosed it with some yeast from the jar. First loaf of whole wheat bread is yummy and not too sour.
    I also fixed myself several backyard salads with varied greens and fresh herbs and raw peas with dill. Best salad ever!

  7. Susan (in Seattle)on 06 Jul 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Today I declared a large portion of my garden a failure, ripped it out, and replanted. I don’t know if a replanting will do any better, but it can’t possibly do any worse.

    Tore out: browning, stunted corn (see my blog at http://harvestmoonseattle.blogspot.com for photos); beet seedlings that looked healthy but were refusing to grow; hair-thin chives, about 2″ in length, also refusing to grow

    Planted: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cucumbers, more beets, scarlet runner beans

    Harvested: Peas, tiny radishes, lettuce, parsley sprouts. The peas are fibrous and do not taste good. I don’t know if I let them stay on the vine a day too long or something, but I picked them the day after I first discovered them. I will not be eating these if they continue to be so fibrous and lacking in any sort of flavor. The radishes, about the size of my pinky nail, seem to have grown as large as they are going to get and they too will be coming out and being re-planted within the next few days.

    Preserved: Purchased two 1/2 flats of locally-grown strawberries today. Hulled and washed them, then stuck them on cookie sheets to be individually frozen. [Food price rant coming up…196 berries for $26.00 means I paid 13.26 cents each for those berries. This seems excessive to me. If one small strawberry (1″ diameter) provides 2 calories, then this flat of strawberries, since they were all large in size, will provide only about 800 calories total. That’s not even a day’s worth of energy for one small adult. No wonder the poor go for the double-cheeseburger, the egg sandwich, or the fried chicken instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. A McDonald’s double cheeseburger is only $1 and provides 440 calories in the form of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and even some meager vegetables in the onions, pickles, & ketchup. I’m beginning to think we should price food by the calorie. That way strawberries would be about 5 lbs for $1 and hot dogs would be about $5 per link. Maybe then the poor could afford lots of fruits and vegetables and only the ultra-rich could afford to get fat.]

    Managed:Weeded and watered. That’s about it for the week. I’m having a hard time keeping up with the challenge for lack of, I don’t know, enthusiasm. Even though I’m up at 5 am, I don’t have time to do any garden work before I go to work, and when I get home, though I would have at least two hours time to get something done, most days I just have no interest in getting yard work done at that time of day. I’m going to try to take Sharon’s message to heart this week, though, and realize that if I can just push myself to do 20-30 minutes of weeding or pruning or otherwise managing each day, it will make a huge difference.

    Reduced waste: nope, but in my own defense, I never make very much waste to start with. I subscribe to the smallest trash container the city offers (12 gallons) and rarely fill it even 1/2 way. Everything possible is either recycled or composted, and the recycling bin gets lighter and lighter every month, as I’ve stopped receiving newspapers, almost all magazines, and get almost no junk mail at all anymore.

    Local Food Systems:Only the localist of local…that in my own garden. The good news is that the tomatoes and herbs are doing very well!

  8. Shiraon 06 Jul 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Hi there, busy folks.

    There is a common theme in books that people write about deciding to focus on changing their lives by conscious choices about food, consumption or technology. After reading about the experiences of couple with the 100 mile diet, the lady who gave up stuff made in China and the lady who gave up stuff, the couple who spent a year in the country with only 1900 technology, Barbara Kingsolver making cheese and bread, and that charming bloke who wrote “Farewell My Subaru”, the theme that emerges is how relieved they all were, of being released instead of deprived, of finding time for important things, of accomplishment and self-reliance.

    I have several times given talks on green building. The participants expect me to start in on paints and bamboo flooring, but I start with a nautilus spiral. In the inner folds of the spiral are things that people always say are important when asked: family, friends, community, meaningful work, gardening, pets, art, music, sports, contact with the natural world, etc. The spiral moves out through the layers of built environment to the larger context of the environment and the economy. New Urbanism connects the inner spiral with the outside. Green building touches on all of it through materials and techniques.

    By focusing on the important things, we influence all of our choices about where and how to live and what to do with our time. Survey after survey has found that once the basic needs of food, shelter and medical care are satisfied, there is no correlation between happiness and income.

    Gardening makes me happy. Self-reliance makes me happy. Sharing skills with other people makes me happy. I have an elderly neighbor who has often lectured me on the SHAME of growing vegetables in what used to be the “front yard” (a skinny strip of tatty grass.) She tells me that it is all waste of time and that respectable people BUY vegetables. So I figured it out:

    $2000 Value of harvest from 400 square feet of raised beds (a little dodgy to calculate, as there is one market value for fresh organic snow peas and another for the excess snow peas, frozen and eaten in December, but call it that)

    $1000 Value of seeds and starts donated to individuals and community garden projects.

    $400 Cost of purchased seeds, organic inputs, gas for borrowed pickup to get horse poop, replacement tools.

    $200 Income from sales of starts in May-June.

    I make it $2800 net market value just from gardening in the front yard. But I’m self-employed, so that is equivalent to $7000 that I would otherwise have to make by going out and getting the work, doing the job, paying my drafter, chasing the client to get paid and then paying the taxes and filling out paperwork to pay the taxes on my drafter.

    So never let anybody tell you that your self-reliance activities are just nutcase hobbies. There is a big difference between standard of living and quality of life.

    Shira in Bellingham, WA

  9. olympiaon 06 Jul 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Hey, all. I can’t really post on this topic in an organized fashion, as it’s hard for me to remember all I’ve done (not that I’ve done a lot in some areas). One thing I’m excited about, though, is discovering a shadberry plant (while walking the local bike/walk trail). Shadberries are a fruit I used to pick non-stop as a kid, until the bushes (they looked like trees at that point), died off. When I came upon the shadberry bush I knew right away what it was, and was stoked. I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on how I might get a trimming off this plant and try growing it in my own backyard? Would this be unethical? I was tempted to dig the plant up and take it home- that, I fear, would most definitely be unethical.

    I’m interested in people’s foraging stories- foraging is something I’ve really gotten into, although I have to say I felt like I was falling into my traditional gatherer role when I walked the trail with my SO and a friend- they were scouting out fishing opportunities while I looked for wild berries and other edibles.

  10. Deb Gon 06 Jul 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve been a little more focused as a result of this challenge. I’m prioritizing projects more and it’s a good thing!

    Here’s a few of the things I’ve done:

    Harvested: Peas (this batch is done I think), my first raspberries and potatoes for the year, mint, oregano, and strawberries.

    Planted: more broccoli starts, my baby corn starts (might be dreaming that I’m going to get a crop), alpine strawberries, sprouting broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce.

    Preserved: Peas, mint, oregano and froze some extra bread dough.

    Stocking up: Extra nuts, first aid kit stuff

    New foods: Sampled the wine I was infusing with rose petals. Not sure how it’s going to work as a flavoring, but it tasted really good :) Tried a brioche bread dough recipe (I have lots of eggs). I haven’t baked any yet, but I did fry some. Oh yum!

    Other stuff: Bought some locally made butter. It’s more cost effective than buying the whip cream and making it myself. I always seem to end up with a little over a cup of butter per pint of cream. I also got a new drying rack with a gift certificate I had.

    Megan and Shira, I’d love to catch up with you two some time. If you click on my name above it should take you to my blog. Maybe we could connect there?

  11. Texicalion 06 Jul 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I am not a master gardener but I would caution Susan, and others who are frustrated with their plants, not to rip out and replant their garden. This is particularly true if you don’t know what is wrong. This spring my eggplants spent a long time looking week, stunted, and slug eaten (the last likely having something to do with the first two problems). Now they are growing like gangbusters. Same thing happened with my peppers and onions. Part of the pain is that if you look at your garden every day some see progress the slow times seem like forever, but the other side is that some things just take time for whatever reason it may be.

    It may be a good idea to grow strawberries in place of, or in addition too, something like corn. Corn sells for 5 for a dollar right now, and strawberries for several dollars a pint. In a 4 by 4 patch I was picking a pint every other day during my strawberry season. In the same space I might be able to grow $2 dollars worth of corn. While we should prepare for the day when corn and other staples are more expensive it makes sense to take a shot at growing the higher priced fruits and veggies if you can.

    I too am looking forward to the book discussion. I read the books out of order, and Heinlan’s book was so different from Lucifer’s Hammer that I had a hard time figuring out why it was considered to be the same time of doomsday sci-fi (well, except for some of the attitudes towards women)

  12. risa stephanie bearon 07 Jul 2008 at 12:21 am

    (Cribbed from blog)

    Plant something: it’s the lull before fall garden things go in. Went to the discount grocery and found some intriguing little potatoes (they cook up yellow like Yukon Gold and taste the same but look different) in five-pound sacks that have begun to sprout, bought two sacks for seed potatoes and will put them in around other things over the next week.

    Harvest Something: Peas!!!! Lettuce, spinach, garlic, beet greens, bok choi, mustard, onion greens, dandelions, Japanese knotweed (for stock feed, bean poles, mulch, and compost), nasturtium, rosemary, marjoram, chives. As always, chicken and duck eggs.

    Preserve Something: Put up seven quarts of snap peas, four of greens (mostly spinach).

    Store Something: More firewood, kindling, bean poles, feed sacks (to hold up insulation under house).

    Manage Reserves: Hit the thrift store, found two terrific trivets, a cream dispenser, decanter, serrated butcher knife (for cutting weeds) — $1 each. Covered the chicken house with knotweed branches to shade the poultry while we’re away for the Fourth.

    Prepped: Cleaned up one exterior wall to repaint.

    Cooked Something New: discovered a mild kind of mustard greens that are good in the stir fries. We don’t know what it’s called; the flat was on sale in Bargains at the feed & seed.

    Worked on Local Food Systems: Selling eggs regularly. Most meals home grown (vegs, eggs, solar mint tea). Took a big bag of greens with us to our Fourth-At-The-Beach (a splurge), using them in all three meals each day, with duck eggs and some storebought red potatoes from up the road a ways (none of ours are ready yet). Joined Seed Savers (did I tell you that last week?)

    Reduced Waste: Grey water to fruit trees. Composted knotweed leaves. Rode the bus.

    Learned a Skill: Techno Week. I figured out the timer on the digital camera (the instructions in the manual made no sense to me). Beloved learned how to make new folders on a computer and sort and organize files. I am extremely hearing impaired, and this week I began learning to use my new Captel telephone.

    Or; Learned Something New: About Spelt, Eikorn, Emmer, Kamut, Sibirisches, and Urkorn, and that we might be able to grow and harvest one of these (instead of winter wheat).

  13. Danielleon 07 Jul 2008 at 6:44 am

    I agree, this challenge has really helped me to focus and channel my energies. Reading other people’s post inspires and motivates me, gives me ideas, and just plain offers a certain sense of camaraderie on this journey.

    From my blog:

    Plant:

    Sunflowers and nasturtium.

    Transplanted: yarrow, feverfew, motherwort, mullein, evening primrose, bergamot, wormwood, valerian, saltwort, salad burnet, joe pye, skullcap, arnica, woad, horehound, marshmallow.

    Harvest:

    Raspberries, black raspberries, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, squash, onions, garlic, shallots, broccoli, kohlrabi, beets, dill, oregano, basil, rosemary, chives, eggs, milk and our first potatoes—yay!

    Preserve:

    7 half pints black raspberry jam, 20 half pints raspberry jam, 7.5 lbs butter.

    Store:

    Nothing this week, unless you count the preserves.

    Well, not really “storing” per se, but we did have two goatie babies born on the farm this week, and we lucked out with little girls, which means more dairy animals on the farm. They’ll be keepers, so it’s kinda like storing. Yeah, it’s a stretch, but I got to include gratuitous baby farm animal photos.

    Prep:

    Jim made more bullets for hunting, built a more solid backboard for target shooting, and sighted in his deer rifle.

    Manage:

    Trellised the cucumbers with cattle panels, and they’re much happier. Continue to monitor plants for insect pests: squash bugs, borers, japanese beetles, potato beetles, bean beetles.

    Harvested garlic and put it up to cure before braiding. I’ll likely replant most of it this fall, as I’m trying to build up my seed stock this year. Garlic is sooo expensive to buy.

    Cook:

    Raspberry jam. I made the black raspberry last year, but this was my first time making the red raspberry.

    Add:

    CSA delivery to 10 families: lettuces, kohlrabi, carrots, onions, beets, dill, chives, eggs.

    Finally purchased hair care and toiletries from local, organic company Terressentials after using up all the various little bottles of stuff around the house.

    Reduce:

    Continue to compost, reuse plastic containers, reduce electricity usage, use reusable shopping bags, reduce driving, reduce reliance on grocery stores, harvest rainwater, etc.

    Learn:

    Researched more on grains, pressure canners, and local coffee roasters.

  14. Susan in NJon 07 Jul 2008 at 7:16 am

    The challenge is helpful in focusing on small things, and in seeing how small things can add up to an important total. Also, I find it helps with mindfulness of the process. Sometimes though it just exhausts me so I go on with my week and at the end it gives me a structure to think about what I actually did/didn’t do.

    This week — the refrigerator died this week, and my true love nixayed no fridge, but we did discuss it: the first time, he looked ready to commit me; the second time, he acknowledged the freezer and ice thing might work but “it’s summer;” the third time, after we had bought the fridge (so he was safe), he said Sharon might be on to something.
    Since, we live three blocks from my office which had an empty refrigerator because of vacations and holiday, and since we bought a yardsale huge coleman cooler to use for rootcellaring, we lost almost no food. Since it was a holiday weekend about one manufacturing cycle after April, we were able to buy a new 2008 energy star standard smaller fridge well-discounted, which will save, I estimate, 2/3’s of the energy of our old “came with the house” ten year old behemoth. My fruit freezing is however now on indefinite hold as we lost freezer space and “we’re” not ready for a chest freezer.

    Planted: nothing
    Harvested: the last of the redleaf lettuce but I’m keeping the stalks going for seed, mesculun mix lettuce, chives, parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, thai basil; two eggplants by squirrel and chipmunk; baby green beans by undisclosed varmint
    Preserved: 1 qt. frozen blueberries
    Stored: nothing
    Prep: reclaimed the dining room table and created an entry/shoe station using materials we had; my partner is organizing the basement storage area; cleaned out the refrigerator (haha)
    Managed: the refrigerator thing
    Cooked something new: whole peaches roasted on the grill (could save marriages); whole turnips roasted on the grill (skip this one)
    Waste: the refrigerator thing again
    Local food systems: last weekend, shopped the farmer’s market and bought a lot of local blueberries at a supermarket loss leader sale; this weekend, didn’t shop except for ice cream to test the new freezing compartment (my partner seems to think a lot of this sort of testing will be necessary)
    Learn: that would be the refrigerator thing again

  15. Meganon 07 Jul 2008 at 8:39 am

    Planted: Nothing new. I did transplant my little basils into the garden from their little pots. It’s my first basil from seed. :) The sad neglected blueberry bushes I got for my edible hedge are sprouting a bunch of new growth already! There won’t be berries this year, but man, they are happy out there! :)

    Harvested: Lettuce, spinach, beet greens, green onions, bok choy, peas, chamomile, mint, purple clover for tea. I also dried a handful in the dehydrator, I should have a nice little tea stash for winter if I keep at it. My currants and gooseberries are almost ready! Just a handful of each, but maybe enough for a jar of fridge jam or something. Tonight I’m going to go and pick clean my aunt’s pie cherry tree.

    Preserved: Dried clover, mint, and chamomile. Also have a full dehydrator of bing cherries going right now. Shira and Deb G, the cherries at the stand on Meridian (not organic, but eastern WA and v. tasty) has apricots now. They are SO yummy. Between those and the endless cherries I’m eating, I might be in digestive trouble here soon. Pit fruits will be my undoing!! :) Deb G, I’ll visit your site and e-mail you in a bit, I’m almost off to work!

    Storage and prep: Made some good progress on the shed and moved a bunch of stuff out there. Got my row cover materials in the mail. Bought some bulk black beans.

    Cooked something new: Not really. I did make my dad a cherry pie for his birthday from the last of last years frozen.

    I’m going to try to take some photos and update my album over on the food storage site. The before and after is really something. :) Look for it tomorrow or the next day.

    Megan

  16. Ginaon 07 Jul 2008 at 9:28 am

    Also agree about the challenge gifting me with focus. It has also lessoned my tendency toward apathy (and a bit of laziness). Since participating in IDC, I ask myself less if I am on the right path (mostly I think I am, but there are times, especially during my “failures” where I question if I can actually break away from whatt I was taught by my folks who shunned the self-sufficient lifestyle {both came from rural, hard childhoods} and raised us to think that all our needs could be found down the street at the grocery store. I also have a tendency to get negative and think that we are doomed anyway, so why make it hard on myself. Truth is though, that through this way of life, I have found hope and by centering my focus on the steps I have taken has made this hope grow…). I believe that not dealing with our future and just “shopping till you drop” (i.e. over consumption) is the common way of thinking in this part of the US (Indiana seems “slow” when it comes to current events, IMHO) and I am really walking a path that is a bit “left of center” (although rural roots are still attached here as well). I am finding more local people that finally do seem to “be getting it” though and this has been a huge change from the nineties when I first started researching homesteading issues and such.

    The IDC has also provided me with a rich resource to glean ideas from and I have already used many in my own quest for Independence!

    So, week ten…

    Planted Something: pumpkin, basil & cilantro, preparing garden for fall planting sometime this coming week.

    Harvested something: Sweet and tart cherries, wild raspberries, gooseberries, radishes, onions, garlic, chickweed, lamb’s quarter, red clover, Elder blossoms, lettuce, mulberries, eggs, rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme

    Preserve Something: Mulberry and tart cherry jam; Brandied sweet cherries; froze pie cherries for winter pies; dried red clover for tea and elder blossoms for medicinal reasons, blanched & froze lamb’s quarter; dried cherries; froze left-over soup (see “Cooked Something New”)

    Stored Something: Vodka for tinctures, navy beans, water

    Prepped: Found a down comforter, lambs wool sweater and stove-top corn popper at thrifts (and it was 50% off day!). Decided to add new category to my IDC up-date: “To Do Something”. Mainly,this is not only a way to “prep” myself for next week so I don’t feel so scattered, but also a way to “manage” my time.

    Managed: As mentioned, making new list to help manage my time and remember what needs doing in the upcoming week; My money resources-learned what it would be like if I decided to SAH for at least one week because work did not give me a paycheck in error (updated: paid Monday morning, but it was still an eye-opener to which debts need to go first); used up frozen sausage from two years ago (first pig we raised) by making eggs, lamb’s quarter and sausage for dinner. I only used a small amount for that meal (stretching our meat); however, I browned the entire package and made a yummy soup with the rest (more below); used up old mixed white beans in soup; used two jars of canned tomatoes from ‘05; added third deep super and queen excluder to bee hive (they’re doing great and everything looks as it should. The honey is golden and they are capping it. I was worried about some ants I found under the top, but resources say it is common and not to worry about them).

    Cooked Something New: I actually did this week! A few weeks ago, two of my co-workers took me to lunch and I ordered what I thought was just plain old navy bean soup. Turned out, this soup was some white bean and tomato soup and it was great! I decided to make it myself at home and used some old mixed navy and large lima beans (I had dumped older beans together as I was consolidating bean stores), some of my older canned tomatoes (yes, I know three years is pretty old :-), herbs from the herb garden, carrots, lamb’s quarter, and sausage. It turned out better than the restaurant version (I was guessing on ingredients) and everyone in the house loved it! I made a huge pot so we ate about half and the rest is now tucked away in the freezer for convenience meals.

    Reduce waste: Just the usual–reduce, reuse, recycle. Oh, and feed the pigs & chickens!

    Local Food System: Not much in this area. Still in contact with Bull Guy and Hay Farmer.

    Learned Something New: How to make Brandied Cherries
    How to use the smoker on the bees
    Learned that ants commonly make nests between top board and roof of bee hive (to stay out of bees way) and not to worry about them. I also learned they bite like the devil when they get inside your gloves!

    To Do Something: Pick blueberries & raspberries, call bull and hay farmers,trellis tomatoes, weed garden, plant fall crops, section off pasture to separate sheep from leased bull.

  17. Heather Grayon 07 Jul 2008 at 10:21 am

    I’ve enjoyed the Independence Days thing, but am mostly dropping out of the posting part. Good to be mindful and all, but the weather’s wearing me out so I’m saving my energy for must-do things, several of which I’m falling behind on.

    For that matter, I’ve finally given in and we’ll be putting the air conditioner in after all. I can’t get the creative brain matter together for doing my artwork (plus I don’t want to sweat on the ink and paper) because we haven’t ha d a break from the humidity in weeks, and the asthma is not happy.

    We haven’t even been able to finish the first haying because that needs two straight days of dry weather…

    Did manage to pick some raspberries, but they’re only just starting to come ripe here. Gave up on canning strawberries, too hot. Bought a jar of locally made preserves to try out and see if I can eat it — has cane juice but not organic, so don’t know if I’m allergic or not. If I can eat it, we’ll buy some jam and at least it will be locally made.

    Farmers market is going along pretty well. Getting to meet more local folks and sharing interests. Planning on bringing spinning wheels to next Saturday’s market and get more spinning done, plus maybe find out who’s interested in that kind of thing.

    Got some herbs from a friend in PA, delivered via some folks who were going to the same place she was going to be at last weekend. Think there’s enough of the comfrey that I can split it between three gardens here.

  18. Lisa Zon 07 Jul 2008 at 10:22 am

    This challenge has inspired and motivated me to no end. I was just thinking yesterday on how much more free time we seem to have. That is, because we’re not off driving to places but are staying home so much more.

    The gardens are staying weeded, and it’s not like a big chore but something to do for a few minutes during a lull in the day.

    We’ve continued planting even though “planting time” is typically over by now. Just this weekend we put in three more blueberry bushes to make our total five (all planted this year). As long as we are careful to water them when it’s really hot, they’ll be fine.

    I’m harvesting and drying herbs little by little each day. Using the car which sits in the street most of the time these days as a “solar dehydrator” is working well for this. I just pick a few herb stems or the day’s batch of blooming flowers of chamomile or whatever, stick them in a wicker basket and let it all sit in the car for a couple of days. They’re drying perfectly with nothing but solar energy used.

    Yesterday I started lacto-fermenting a yarrow ale with the yarrow flower tops. I got the recipe from Jessica Prentice’s book, _Full Moon Feast_. We’ll see how it turns out, but this is learning and cooking something new. I’m also making a yarrow oil which will become a salve with beeswax when its done steeping. Yarrow salve is a wonderful herbal remedy. Today I am going to start a lemon balm ale, from the same book. I’ll share how they turn out on my blog in a few days!

    The peas are just starting to flower here in MN b/c we planted late. The cabbage is just starting to form its little balls. Potatoes are starting to flower, tomatoes and peppers are budding, and the beets are looking very healthy. I had my first taste of ripe currant berry yesterday, from our new currant bush. I’m looking forward to soon preserving the gooseberries somehow; the elderberries are just beginning to form; and the clusters of grapes are getting bigger and looking promising.

    We are feeling abundant here! So grateful for the challenge…

    Lisa in MN

  19. NMon 07 Jul 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Planted tomatoes, basil, dual purpose bush beans for eating fresh and drying; tomatillo, lemon cucumbers, carrots, melons and peppers. Thinned baby broccoli.
    Harvested, raspberries and strawberries (not many, but enough for a few days of breakfast fruit salads).
    Cook something new: Made spanokopita for the first time, including the filo dough. Didn’t get it quite right, but it was still good, and more practice should improve the dough. Made minestrone with dried tomatoes (excellent), and spaghetti sauce with frozen roasted tomatoes — also worked very well.
    Manage resources; working on using up the last of last year’s frozen vegetables and fruits. Doing better at this than ever have before and, except for quarts and quarts of enchilada sauce, have nearly emptied the freezer, but there are still quite a few berries in there.
    Worked on local food: Shopped at the farmers markets (4 pounds of apricots are waiting to be turned into jam); gave away tomatillo and pepper starts to a friend; caught up on a few chores for Slow Food group. Wrote newspaper column on vitamin C content in locally-available fruits and vegetables.
    Reduce waste: Mmmm, no. Made some …

  20. […] 9, 2008 You can find Sharons update with more updates in the comment section here. I am running a very late update with the 4th weekend and […]

  21. robj98168on 09 Jul 2008 at 11:30 am

    This challenge has taught me that my grandparents in North Dakota didn’t have it so easy! It has also taught me that filling my dehydrator with herbs, fruits and such will make my house smell fantastick!

    Plant something: Transplanted zucchini, new cuke plants (to replace the ones I let fry), planted some borage seeds, planted radish seeds Planted carrots-rainbow blend, carrots- Parisian market; nasturtiums, sunflower mammoth grey stripe, planted a pot of chives- trying planting peas on northside of house(is cooler); I won’t boar you with the water plant I planted, but want to ask a question: does anyone know, I heard this years ago- if you can use watercress bought in a store for starts to grow water cress?
    Prep something: Nada –
    Harvest something: Nada-
    Manage something: Nothing
    Cook Something New:Made a sugar-free rhubarb/strawberry sauce for over sugar free ice cream
    2 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
    1 cup of strawberries, sliced
    about ¾ cup of sweetner (I used brown sugar twin, I would imagine you could use nutra sweet or sugar
    enough water to cover rhubarb and strawberries in a medium pot
    1 tbsp of cornstarch (to thicken)
    put rhubarb and strawberries in pot, cover with enough water to just cover rhubarb and strawberries. Bring to boil. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cornstarch. Add a few drops of red food coloring if desired. Serve over no sugar ice cream or some pound cake or eat it like applesauce!
    Work on Local Food Systems: Talked to my mom about going in together in a csa, investigated csa for meat; Started a contest on my blog for folks to win my balls- my seedballz or rather the extra I have- rather than planting and wasting the hummingbird flowers and the basil, I decided to give them away!
    Compost something:same as last week- added some starbucks to my compost, turned compost this week
    Learn a skill: nada

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