Monday, June 30, 2014

An Apology to Canada Regarding the Proposed Pipeline

It's not going to happen, and neither are the jobs going to come with it.    (Rendering from: )

Dear Canada,

              I have just read on a variety of news sources that you became tired of waiting to arrange the construction of the pipeline of oil from Canada to the United States.   You have to put all the jobs that are waiting for the construction and activation of this pipeline into the hands of Canadians, and you have been waiting FIVE years !.   I know that you wanted to send this oil to the United States, but that Barack Obama just couldn't allow anything that provided jobs, opportunities, and energy for Americans.   So, you made the decision for him, and now both the pipeline trajectory and the the oil is headed to Asia.  The jobs that would have come to Americans here on this side of the pipeline therefore won't be coming.

             As an American who spends whatever time she can in our Canadian home, I wanted to apologize on behalf of the clear thinking people in America.   No one I know voted for Barack Obama, the first or the second time.  Those of us who read his books in advance of the election,  realized that he had some very unusual ideas which are not American mainstream, and that his objective was not to advocate for American interests, but to knock our nation down a few pegs and provide us all with a humbling from which we might never recover.  Say what you will about him, but he has been marvelously effective in that role.   Huge numbers of Americans have been jobless now for years.  More people are collecting food stamps and welfare than ever have before in our country.  Food banks and the number of families who are dependent upon them have swollen beyond anyone's expectations.  Utility costs are higher than they have ever been in much of the country.  Our freedoms have been taken, one by one. Our phone calls are "captured" for NSA and posterity. I can't even have a bank account out of the country without notifying the US.   Our police are no longer being trained to "protect and to serve" but to regard the citizenry as enemy combatants.  People who ask questions could well be tazed.      Although we had a few access problems with regard to US health care in some states, we now have a forced insurance program which is broadly defective.  As a result, many of our best physicians and nurses have left practice altogether.  Many people have chosen to leave the United States entirely.     If you complain about the present administration in a public venue of some kind, then you are likely to be threatened with IRS audit or audited.   I know this personally !    In addition, there is no effective means here of dealing with illegal aliens.  It is very likely to be injured or killed by a license less Central American who has not been taught to drive here, but who drives to illegal jobs anyway. Congressmen apparently have spines like jello and won't stand up to an executive branch which has lost its mind and has not been advocating for the United States in quite some time.

           So hopefully, Canada, you understand my apology and my blog post sized rant.   My hope is that .you will understand that my family and I are very close to being refugees in a land that has gone mad in the present administration.  We are all law abiding citizens.  I can sing the Canadian National Anthem quite well, if this is important to you. So, how about it ?  Can my husband and I and our three adult college educated children come to stay in Nova Scotia for good ?   (We have a fourth son who is a teen who has not yet attended college, and we would have to convince him to move with us.)   It would take some time to sell up here and locate a farm there.  I know there aren't any jobs there either, but at least the people running the place are sane and are acting in the best interests of the citizenry.  I know that your immigration is much tighter than ours, and that it can take a long time to get permanent resident alien status, and citizenship could be a long time coming.

          So just let us know.  I don't think we are going anywhere.  It should be a few more months before our nation's economy collapses, and  we  actually become refugees.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Chili That Works for Diabetics and Those Who Watch Their Weight

Actually, the chili is about 190 calories for a small serving and the crackers are 18 calories for two.

        I don't enjoy cooking, and since my husband is a wonderful cook and he enjoys cooking to unwind, I have never spent too much time in the kitchen.  This is positive in that it does free me to do a host of other things.   I have also never wanted my blog to become a place in cyberspace awash with recipes, because we have an entire host of people on the internet whose life's devotion is to making exquisite food, and some of those people are chefs !    I promise that my bringing you recipes will be a rarity.

                 Now that most of my kids are grown, we all still stay in close touch.  Whenever we can we meet in some city or suburbs for lunch.  More often than not, that restaurant is a Wendy's.   My sons all require a lot more calories than I do.  In Summer I can order one of their salads, but in Winter, I am a bit more challenged when we meet there to eat.  Over the Winter I developed the habit of having a small chili at Wendy's each time I lunched with one of the kids.  A small chili there is fairly low fat and has only 190 calories. One package of two crackers is an additional 18 calories.  This makes it a good choice for myself, and also for my daughter who is a Type I (juvenile) diabetic. Their side salad with the pomegranate vinaigrette dressing rounds it out for a fairly satisfying meal, even in a fast food setting.

                  Lately I have wanted a Wendy's chili but haven't wanted to travel in the car when I wasn't meeting  one of the kids. I decided to try my hand at making as close to Wendy's chili via taste, caloric content, and protein as possible.   I made several batches of chili using recipes I found on the internet.  I have made some modifications and this is the one I think is fairly close to the chili sold at Wendy's.  Since most of us are near a Wal-Mart, I tried to stick to using things that are available at their grocery department. With the exception of the lean ground beef, the recipe is quite inexpensive.

           Jane's Knock Off of Wendy's Healthy Chili


2 pounds of ground beef  (90% lean with 10% fat, if you possibly can)
1 15 oz. can of Great Value Tomato Sauce
1 14 1/2 oz. can of Great Value chili ready tomatoes
2 cans 15.5 oz. Great Value dark kidney beans with liquid  (keeping the liquid in one set of the cans boosts thickness.)
2 cans 15.5 oz. Great Value light kidney beans without liquid   (may substitute other beans you like in chili)
1 large onion, chopped not too finely     (a bit more than one cup)
2 green chilis, chopped    (Pepperoncini from the Dollar Store will work too)
3 chopped tomatoes     (These can be left out if you don't have them.)
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic (I used the kind in the jar, but you can use chopped, or even garlic powder.)
2 teaspoons Cumin    (This is an essential ingredient)
2 tablespoons chili powder   (soak this in 1/4 cup water for 15 minutes before using)
1 tsp black pepper    (I used only one half tsp.)
1 tsp salt         (I used only one half tsp.)
2 cups water

(Other recipes also add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and a 1/2 tsp. of oregano, but I didn't taste those in it, and so I didn't add these to my final recipe.) 

For people who aren't watching their weight or who need to supplement their calories, they can serve this with some french bread with butter, or top the chili with cheddar cheese and perhaps some sour cream.   Some will prefer their portion with hot sauce added.

Attentively brown your ground beef in an iron skillet. (Only if you had to use beef other than 10% fat, do you need to remove any fat.)   When the meat is completely cooked, cut it into pieces smaller than kidney beans. Then add your meat, and all of the ingredients above into a large pot.  Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil. Then, turn it to a low heat for three hours.  Stir it every ten to fifteen minutes.

 This makes twelve/thirteen servings that are a bit more than one cup each
 Each serving is about 200 calories.
 This is a perfect diabetic lunch or dinner entree.

It can be frozen in individual servings for months.    It defrosts quite nicely in individual portions and can be warmed in the microwave, even though a couple of the beans will explode. Make sure the bowl is covered.

It is also possible to can individual portions as diabetic emergency food.
How to pressure can chili:
Certainly, you can add hot sauce to each serving if you desire.

You can save even more calories by using ground turkey or ground chicken, but then you would need to increase spices accordingly, just as you do when you make a meatloaf or meatballs with these meats.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Reprise: The Value of Connections Particularly in Times of Inflation and Strife

Our connections to others is what makes us strong and able to endure challenges in our lives. Connections can be the difference between surviving adversity and not.

           I first wrote this post on February 2, 2012.   Since then, it has been referred to by a number of people who are interested in preparedness.   Because mindset is essential to survival, particularly when enduring the pressures of inflation, I am reprising it here today.

      I must admit to being taken aback by the number of people worldwide, who in this difficult economy, take the lives of their children and then, kill themselves. This is such an insane and desperate act, and yet, the incidence of such is steadily increasing. Most of us would risk our own lives in order to save our children, and think nothing of this. The personal realities of those who would kill their own children and perhaps a spouse before themselves, must have shifted so radically that they are thought disordered in a number of areas. When I was a child, this phenomenon was almost unheard of, and was publicized even less.  Now, I can think of five cases of this occurring in a relatively brief period of time in my own general area.
  Since the focus of this blog is always practical and always positive, we should look at how we can fortify ourselves for frightening or desperate times in life in general.  Life is challenging. Whether you reside in Beverly Hills, Zanzibar, Tristan da Cunha, or Rome, challenges will come.  If they have not come yet, then you are fortunate, but they will come.  Challenges with money, serious health issues with yourself, a spouse or with your children, will surface.  Problems with family members will surface. This is what we do here on Earth, we experience problems and we attempt to solve them as best and as honorably as we can.  There are some positive ways in which we can fortify ourselves long before the challenges come, so that we may be able to better meet them, and serve our families better while modeling healthy behavior for our children, particularly in difficult times.

  1.  Find a faith and practice it.   I don't much care what faith you embrace as no one made me God's authority on how you should praise Him here on Earth.  Your reason for doing good in the world is not of interest to me. I have chosen to follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and this works well for me, but your choice and your journey may be different from mine.  People with a faith meet challenges and adversity better than those who feel that they are out in the vast unknown alone.  So, for your sake and for the sake of your children find a spiritual base. I am less interested in your relationship with a specific church, and much more interested in your relationship with God.

2.  Honor and maintain the connections between yourself and others. Positive connections with friends and family can make all the difference when you are enduring difficult times.  Having trusted friends around you, who will tell you when your attitudes or ideas need some reality testing and some adjustment is invaluable.  Most of us have a few friends who are actually a draw on our energies.  Most of our friends however, should be nurturing to us, and should support us positively throughout life.  If you don't have those type of friends where you are just now, then become that type of friend to someone.  Loyalty and friendship breeds loyalty and friendship.  As we move through life it becomes harder for many of us to make the deep friendships that we found so easy to make as youngsters.  Still, do this work. The building of gradual friendships throughout life is important and valuable.

3. Honor and own your sorrows.  Although we do not have to let our losses in life overtake us, they would be meaningless if we did not incorporate them into who we are today.  For example, I am now, and will remain, the mother of a child who did not complete his childhood on Earth.  My perspectives will forever be colored by being a mother who completes life on Earth with her youngest child waiting for her on ahead.   I can let this destroy me and allow me to be perennially melancholy, or I can accept and understand the great gift I had when I had this child with me, and I can bring light and positivity in the remembrance of my son.  Each of us have to figure out how we will continue to do positive things on Earth following our losses.  I will never be the person I was before my son's departure from Earth, BUT my broken heart allows me to understand more and to get more done while I am here.

4. Appreciate your spouse. No spouse is perfect, as a human being or as a spouse, or even as a parent. Still, chances are that your spouse is abundantly superior to many of the husbands or wives you know from the work world, or even those married to your friends.  When life is hard for you, it is hard for them as well.  Take time to nurture this relationship, because this too ends more quickly sometimes when people pass unexpectedly than we anticipate.

5. Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, and even legal drug use, when you are able.   A rare drink before dinner is not a problem, but many people drink too much alcohol, and this impairs their parenting, their other family relationships, their employment and ultimately their finances.   Smoking not only predisposes to lung cancer, but when nicotine decreases the size of the blood vessels which feed our organs, we become predisposed to vascular problems, hypertension, and potential organ failures, particularly kidney failure.  If we are lucky enough to bypass these issues from smoking, then we may experience emphysema. Smoking is also quite expensive.  The children of smokers are often exposed to second hand smoke and can develop asthma.   Most of us are wise enough to sidestep illicit drug use, but then we receive prescription drugs from our physician, and rather than working on the problem which led us to use them, we continue to use these drugs beyond the time we should.  I know several medical people who became addicted to pain medicine which was physician ordered.   Pain meds are fine in the short term, but a pain management physician to help you to wean them and find other ways of coping is beneficial in the long term.   Alcohol, smoking, and drug use takes all of us away from our best selves, and for bringing our best selves to our families, and to our tasks and planning.

6.  Do not fail to plan.  Many of the people from my era did not believe that we would survive the Cold War we grew up hearing about as children.  The result is that many of us fell into college majors, and declined to plan our lives and our retirements.   Each year we should pull out a notebook. In it, we should write out short term goals for the year, moderate term goals for three to five years ahead, and then long term goals.  There should be something in each category, and not everything should be pushed to the long term.   Completing a Will might be a good short term goal. Buying and organizing six months of emergency freeze dried food might be a good moderate term goal for a person with no pre-existing preparations.  Vacationing in Spain might need to remain in the long term goals for now, especially if your children are small and your funds are otherwise committed.

7.  Make an emergency plan.   Start simply at first. Try to save three to six months worth of salary as a safety cushion.  Make a family budget which is reasonable and not too confining if you can.  Each payday, put some money into emergency preparations, food, supplies, etc.    When you are short cash, then continue to prepare for reasonable disasters by learning something.  Even when you are out of cash, you can organize your supplies, borrow a book from the library on disaster planning and evacuation, or grow sprouts for salads at home.

       Our blog is about preparation, and about surviving many different types of challenges across our planet.
       Remember that most of all, human beings are not islands. We function best mentally and emotionally when we are woven into groups of people whose views and support are valued by us.   If you don't like your present community, then form a community of like minded people with similar goals, and support each other through life's trials.   Connections with others are what keep most of us doing the right thing, moving in a positive direction, and off the ledges of life.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Inflation Preparedness

(Graphic from: )

         First,  I am sending a brief greeting to the large number of new unique readers we have this week.    Please take the time to join this blog so you may have the option of reading updates and new posts. Thanks again for visiting.

        For a number of years now, people in the preparedness community have warned that not only would we be seeing an erosion of individual rights in the United States, but that we would begin to experience inflation.  Some indicate that hyperinflation would be very likely.  I remember enough in my childhood to recall that I did not like inflation.  In inflation, everything you need to buy rises faster than you can earn more money in which  to buy it. This can make going to college, buying a car, launching your kids so difficult that it can dash the hopes of doing these things, sometimes for years.
                 I can remember being a child and helping my parents grocery shop.  Bread was twenty-nine cents a loaf.  During the Nixon administration we heard that by the following year, a loaf of bread would be one dollar !   How will people eat ?, we wondered.    By the following year,  it was. Of course now, a lot of bread costs much more. So does milk, cheese, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.

                I am actually surprised that with all of the factors in government and our nation's crushing debt that inflation took this long to take hold.  I suppose the Federal Reserve's interventions and Quantitative Easing may have hidden the problem for a time, but ultimately, we are chasing fewer goods with our paper money.  Printing more money is simply a band-aid.  The price of products must ultimately rise.

                What can we do in the midst of inflation ?

1.  Develop a family budget immediately.    Make it realistic.

2.  Cut anything you really don't need to have.   Our family hasn't had cable television since the 1980s, and that is a great deal of money that wasn't spent.    Rather than going to movies, would you prefer to rent or even buy a DVD ?      We cut our recurrent expenses ten percent this year in part,  by using only cellphones with a pay as you go feature. We chose to keep our landline phone because it is relatively inexpensive here, and because being a distance from everything, having it improves our safety here. Most of us have a recurrent bill which can be cut.

3.   Grow whatever food you can.  This can be sprouts in a jar on your kitchen window.  This can be vegetables in containers on your apartment deck, if permitted.    Anything you grow and eat should impact your health positively and start you on a journey of gardening skill.

4.     Make a survey of what foods you buy that are honest to goodness consumed by weeks end.  Recognize which foods you may have grown past.  I used to buy artificial sweeteners, but I have found that I prefer throwing a few blackberries into my oatmeal to using artificial flavors.  Shopping with a list and cutting the things you might not consume will save you more than you realize.  When you shop, it's alright to "cherry pick" and go to certain shops simply to pick up their specials and stock up as permitted.  Just be sure to get out of there before you buy their more expensive meat, for example.

5. Energy costs are rising quickly and the trend will continue.  You can buy a device called a Kill-A-Watt that tells you the use of each electrical item that you are able to plug into it .  I have one of those, and there were a few surprises.  Most families hot water heater is their largest electrical expense.  Electric heat if you have it, is also quite a chunk.  In hot climates, like my own, air conditioning is an increasing bite.   Appliances such as refrigeration use a fair amount because they run almost continuously especially in warm climates. Also, if you have a frij in the kitchen, one in the garage and a chest freezer somewhere else, they certainly add up.  Use only what you can keep filled.  Also,try to make sure your appliances stay clean.   A ventilated refrigerator with space around it, which is kept dust free at the back is more likely to work at peak efficiency.

6. Water costs are rising worldwide.  If you pay for municipal water, this is part of your budget that will continue to rise.  If you have a well then you may not receive a monthly, or a  bimonthly bill, but the costs to maintain and repair your well still exist and need to be budgeted and planned for. Such costs will rise.

7. Build Your Own, and Your Family's Capabilities-  

A.)  Look around the house.  Don't sell anything that you really could use in the future because in all honesty, you may not be paying any less for it, and when you need to replace it, it may cost much more.  However, most of us have a fair amount of things that we are not using, and very likely will not ever use again.  I do box certain things in the attic for my kids, but we all should consign anything we don't need.
B.)  Ebay is not as cheap to list upon as it once was, but I have known people who have made a tidy sum monthly simply selling outgrown childrens clothing, outgrown toys, pet supplies they don't need, and their gently used sporting equipment. One friend I had made thousands.   I have been luckier as a buyer than a seller on Ebay but this largely depends on what goods you have been lucky enough to amass, that you would now be willing to sell.
C.)  Learn something new.  You might be able to do whatever it is for your family, or you may be able to do something for money, just in your neighborhood.  Some people can sell eggs.  Others can stencil rooms for others for cash.

8. Improve your health.   This isn't as tough as it sounds, but it can take a fair amount of time.  It took me a year to improve my health, as I thought with the advent of the "Unaffordable Care Act", I had better be in the best shape possible in order to help to take care of my own family.  You don't need to fight Jean Claude Van Damme on television by Friday.  However, you do need to gradually increase your stamina and general health.   One of the ways you might do this is to go to and buy a copy of the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Balch.    It doesn't need to be the latest edition. The older editions are quite good also.    Look up your symptoms and diagnoses you have, and see what foods and supplements are recommended.  Then, ask your physician if he/she have any objection to a clinical trial of that supplement or vitamin in the amount specified in the book or a dose suggested by your physician.  Getting the right supplement coupled with regular gradual exercise can really improve your tolerance for work, your general outlook, and ultimately even your labwork.    Some of us simply require more of some things than others. Sometimes, certain disorders cause us to use larger amounts of certain vitamins than we would on average.  Be particularly careful with the fat soluble vitamins, which are A, D, E and K.   Although we can excrete water soluble vitamins most often, in urine, this is not true of the fat soluble vitamins as listed above.   Hypervitaminosis can be dangerous.

9. Make sure your home medical kit is complete and stocked.     You are less likely to actually require professional medical intervention if cuts, injuries, sicknesses etc. are attended to correctly when they happen. Make sure that when you are cut, you take a break long enough to clean the wound, place Apinol or neosporin if that works for you, on it, and band aid it for a day or two.  Check injuries at least once a day. Physicians see a lot of people who neglected initial first aid.  (I will have links to first aid kits at the bottom of this post.)

10.   The rest of surviving inflation is simply assessing your own situation, making the adjustments you need to, and taking care of those items you can attend to.  It's not going to be an easy ride, but many of us, if we stay positive, keep strategic alliances with friends and acquaintances locally, we will weather this type of storm just like all of the others.

These are prior posts from this blog which delve deeper into something we touched upon today:

These deal with defensive finance:

These posts concern preparedness first aid and medical issues:

Friday, June 20, 2014

The United Nations Has Trucks on American Soil

Is this why they want our guns gone ?

            I understand that one of the jobs of government is to prepare, fund, and set aside any number of contingency plans for emergencies.  This is not always done well in part because it can be difficult to predict what resources we might really need and which negative occurrences will occur.    I understand that trains with shackles have been built and do travel on occasion, completely empty I am told, on tracks in the Western US.  It makes sense to me that evacuation plans exist for high level prisoners in maximum security prisons.  I also understand that just as our government built massive underground structures to house its Congress and other leaders, that it also has built camps for people which look an awful lot like internment camps.  It would have been useful to have some of these when so many people were uprooted in New Orleans a few years ago.   It might also be a useful place to put undocumented or illegal aliens and their moms.  Apparently this week, the US is being deluged by tons of children from South America who are escaping from violence and other issues. Some brought a parent, and many did not.

               However, I have really got to wonder what someone is thinking when they load brand new armored trucks on flat bed trucks and send them onto an interstate highway.  Certainly these vehicles can't drive to Europe, the Middle East or Africa !   It can't make economic sense to manufacture them here and send them aboard ship to Syria or to Ukraine.   So, someone thought it might be intelligent to have armored UN trucks on American soil    What are they thinking ?

             In case you think their presence is speculation, tales of the UN armored trucks moving along the highway have been mentioned by the following:

and many other sources.

Here's the information from You Tube:

Language warning:

Justina Pelletier is Home With Her Family !

         This is an update concerning the teen girl who was taken from her parents and became the lawful property of a Boston Children's Hospital for a year !

These are my prior posts on this matter:

        No one can quantify or even assess the damage done to this young girl by being separated from her parents and sisters for a year, on the say so of a few physicians who did not know the child and the situation, and upheld by a court who saw the ideas of a physician as always more valid than parents !     My concern, in addition to the injustice that Justina Pelletier and her family endured, which will have longlasting effects on particularly Justina, who was not being treated for mitochondrial disorder during her internment with the children's hospital, is that parents who have a child with either an orphan condition, or a chronic illness may be reluctant to seek help for a child, fearing that their child could be impounded to ensure that the treatment the hospital thinks is best is done for the child, while isolating the child from their family.

       It's also interesting that this story has been missing from mainstream media reports.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Snake From the Rafters

The barn just after it was built, prior to the fencing.

       Living on a farm we try to take responsibility for any of the possibilities which occur here.  We have a plan if we return home and find a black bear not simply in the yard, but in the house.  We have a plan if a coyote tries to bother either myself or one of my alpacas when I am making early evening rounds.  When we lived in the suburbs, we had pretty good contingency plans there too.

                   Several years ago we had a lovely large barn built.  In some ways I prefer it to our home, which is a good thing, because we certainly spend enough time there..  One side has stalls for alpacas, and the other has stalls for the horses.  There is a tack room, a staircase to an upstairs, and a large open area that we have used as an animal ICU now and again.  Late this evening, I had finished taking care of the horses, and I was about to walk our fourteen year old Siberian Husky.  My husband was finishing up alpacas and about to start on ducks and chickens.  One of our sons was feeding the cat, when we all noticed something simaltaneously.   A large black snake was slithering above our heads on top of the rafters. He wasn't the least bit deterred by the music and talking on NPR, the station which the horses seem to prefer.   This was not a positive thing.  I not only don't like snakes much, even if they are not poisonous, but black snakes get very large here and can sometimes be aggressive.  A bite from them can cause a dangerous infection.  My largest concern was that the snake would frighten the horses enough to cause upset sufficiently to cause stall damage or even injuries to a horse.  All the animals were pretty spooked this evening.

                   There really isn't anyone to call for such an issue.  We have to do something ourselves.  As one of our sons headed for the house to get something, I realized that we hadn't seen any mice or other vermin in the barn in at least two years.  Mmmmm.  Perhaps this snake has been living in the barn for awhile.  Our son returned with a snake hook which he has used to relocate snakes, a number of times here on the farm.  Normally, a snake curls up on it, and he transports them elsewhere and they slither away.  This time we weren't quite so lucky.   The snake simply refused to mount the large snake hook and slithered down and between the dividing walls to the stalls.   With the snake no longer obvious, the animals calmed down.
                  Tomorrow, bright and early I must do about two hours worth of work in there.   I hope the snake is gone.  The extreme heat of the last couple of days may have caused the snake to behave a bit differently than normal.

                  In any event, this is good training.  Anything can happen anywhere, and at anytime.   I hope we are ready.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Please Read: Peter Grant's Economic Analysis

 Peter Grant is a great author, a minister and former military man.   He also does a great and brief economic analysis in his latest blog post.     If you don't already know Peter from his blog, now is your chance !

Please take a look at his analysis, and then consider reading his series of books.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Please Visit: In Remembrance of "Cedar Cottage"


Yes, the lake was this beautiful, but watch for the big spiders in the trees on the banks !

   Please see my post on another one of my blogs as I discuss small space living and a cross country move from long ago, in:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Progress in Modest Container Gardening


  I was not born with bilateral green thumbs.   I find caring for animals a much easier naturally and a much more intuitive undertaking.   In the past, I have had vegetable gardens, and I do grow fruit trees with some varying degrees of success.  My blueberries and grapes are doing well   Since this farm is on the edge of large forests, we find ourselves sharing whatever occasional bounty we have with a number of wild animals.  Deer not only eat the day lillies, but the bark from the cherry trees as well, no matter how you wrap them.  For this reason, it's tough to get the trees to survive long enough to bear fruit.  Bears are pretty flexible creatures and sometimes they will eat whatever you are growing that looks good.   A couple of years ago I was pretty discouraged when almost everything we grew was pilfered by animals. no matter what steps I took to limit what they took.  (One of my sons mixes a corn oil and chili powder mix and then puts a drop of Dawn dishwashing liquid in it, lets it sit for a day and then tops it up with water to be sprayed periodically on plants we would like to keep.  Deer in particular, hate this spray.)  

    Last year I didn't even plant a vegetable garden, and I simply enjoyed things from the herb garden. Fortunately, the farmer's market had an excess of peppers, eggplant, lettuce, green beans, canteloup, cabbages, all sizes and types of tomatoes and lettuces.   Also last year, we had a late frost which destroyed the blooms from our Asian pears, pear trees, peach trees and apples.

              This year, I was determined to work smarter rather than harder and to have some consistent yields of something beside eggs.   I normally work pretty hard to have hanging baskets of different types hanging from the underside of our country front porch.    I loved the flowers but the constant watering was tiresome, especially in July.  Late last year I hung some hanging baskets of strawberries, which not only looked gorgeous, they provided consistent fresh strawberries for morning cereals.  I decided to leave the annual hanging pots of flowers which had wintered in the garage, hanging from there. This year at the house itself,  I would focus on growing container and hanging food source plants from the country front porch.    There is a very large back deck here, but in the past when I have placed plants there, the foliage has burned. I decided to place a clothing rack on the back deck, and dry some of the laundry which could benefit, rather than trying to grow food from there.

The black container to the left is filling with potatoes. To the far left is left lettuce.  I clip some nightly for salad, and it regrows very quickly.  If your regrowth slows the leafy lettuce can be added to some iceberg lettuce for your evening salad.   Up on the railing in this picture, onions are growing.

The tomato plants are doing well, but do not yet have blooms.

I have lemon and orange trees which normally sit inside the sunny dining room. These can be a great source of vitamin C which you can grow yourself. These trees have been cut back this year, but all of them are about eight years old and consistently yield fruit.

The lettuce is growing very quickly despite the fact that we pluck a salad from there almost daily. You can see a tiny orange growing on one of the citrus trees to the left.

                       Of course, I can't put a great deal of time or money into growing food.   The horses, alpacas, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and others take a great deal of time.   However, it's good to see that carefully selected sprouts, lettuces, and fruits can produce a yield that is indeed helpful in feeding a large family.   This year we have or will have an abundance in blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, Asian pears, pears, apples, perhaps some peaches.  We have a host of herbs which are well established.  We also have sprouts, lettuces, Swiss chard, tomatoes, potatoes, a small complement of citrus fruit for drinks or garnishes.   Carrots, peppers, squash, melons and pumpkins are still on their way.  The fig tree is behind schedule this year.     We still have never been able to get hardy kiwi to grow in this hot climate, and we have never been successful getting my beloved rhubarb to grow here.   I planted several haskap bushes here a couple of years ago and one of them has died despite my devotion and watering.

                        I realize that I can't forgo trips to the grocery store, but I do realize that growing as much as we can here can help not only to enrich our meals, but to save money.  It's also non-GMO and it's likely organic since I bought organic soil to grow it in.  It's likely to be healthier than many of the things you could buy and I have never used a pesticide on any of it.    I hope this inspires you just a bit and that you decide to grow whatever you can on your own front porch.     No, I did not mean that particular plant, which is still illegal in many states, including mine.    Perhaps you could stick to food !       Giggles !



September 21, 2015

Using containers on the porch I was able to provide a large part of our family's lettuce for daily salads.   I grew four different varieties and also swiss chard.  I harvested some each day, and within a day or two they had grown back.   The plants were finished by mid-September.   I watered daily.   My elephant garlic and one variety of onions died most likely because I selected containers that did not allow adequate water drainage and so they rotted and died, when I had only had the opportunity to harvest a few of them.  My poor fig tree died.   My potatoes did not do well in a container garden, in part I believe to too much watering.
      This was an unusual agricultural year.  There were some losses of trees on the farm. Some were due to insects of one type or another and others were due to uncertain or unknown causes.
     Still, container gardening on the porch or the deck was a viable way to grow a percentage of our food, and I will try again next year with the knowledge and experiences from this one.   


Monday, June 9, 2014

Pondering Water Shortages


       I remember, almost as if it were yesterday, attending grade school in the US.  Each Monday, we all received something called a "weekly reader".  It was a few pages of news that the publisher thought might be of interest to American children.  It was designed, I think, to give all of us an appetite for a newspaper in the years to come.  In some classes, different children would be asked to read the articles aloud, thus improving the reading skills and vocabulary of us all.   I still remember specific articles and predictions made by people who wrote for the weekly reader.  Many times, the articles told us about innovations being developed, particularly in the United States.  Then, the writer of that particular article would predict how soon it would be before such innovations made it to our own use.  I can remember being seven, eight and nine, and believing every word of the weekly reader !  Of course, they did not foresee the internet per se, debit cards, or cell phones, although they did discuss a telephone with a screen, I suppose an early vision of what might now be described as Skype-like.    I remember reading in one of their articles that there would be no traffic jams by 1984.  "What a relief" I thought.  Saturdays before Christmas were already pretty crowded in the town which housed our county seat. The article said that by 1984 we would all have cars that would work like hovercraft. These clean vehicles would be able to carefully fly over other vehicles when traffic jams occurred.  I had some questions about how you might signal for something like that, but I learned pretty early that you don't ask too many questions of your teacher who might not be any sharper than the person who writes the weekly reader.    There was one article in the weekly reader that has proven to be fairly accurate.  The article spoke of water being in short supply in the future, and that the shortage of clean water could lead to illness and death.   It seems that even on the planet with oceans on 70% of it, that only a few percent of the water is clean enough to drink at any one time.  Sadly, a lot of nations on Earth are in places with poor access to any water at all.  The weekly reader concluded that in the future, wars would be fought over water shortages.  I don't think the writers of the weekly reader expected any of us to remember what they said.  Many of the articles were either inaccurate, written with a progressive or highly liberal agenda or they had a less than accurate or overly simplistic conservation message.

             It's taken forty years but one of the articles in the weekly reader has finally made a prediction that it appears will be fairly accurate.  Weekly Reader..........One.   It seems that a number of newspapers and magazines are writing stories in which they cite droughts in the Middle East, California, Africa, Brazil, Egypt and others.  The news sources believe that water stress will be a cause for civil unrest, violence and ultimately war.   In some places, they cite, drinkable water is already more expensive than oil.

            The US is certainly not immune.  In Colorado, for example, it is illegal to collect the water from your roof into gutters and downspouts and use it for any purpose on your home/farm.      The government there needs every drop of rain to return and recharge the underground aquifer, and so they can sell farmers water shares.

          As a person with an interest in preparedness, it makes sense to do whatever you can now to secure clean and abundant water.    This might mean moving.  it might mean drilling a supplemental well.  It might mean the addition of a hand operated water pump in a secret location on your property.  It might involve having your well tested for pathogens or contaminants.  It might involve buying a British Berkefeld  (Big Berkey) now.  It might involve having a reverse osmosis water filtration system installed in your home.  It could be that you may need to consider the installation of a solar assisted water pump.   Whatever it is, please give access to clean water some thought at both your primary residence and your beta site, if you have one.   Water is the most essential element we need for survival, and even the staff of the weekly reader knew this !

Links that relate to this subject

Prior Rational Preparedness posts which relate to water preparedness:


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Money View from My Vantage Point


I don't understand how so many empty stores can stay open.

      It's important not to decide that whatever your own economic situation, that everyone else might not be experiencing the identical circumstance.  I remember that in some of the most economically profitable days of the Reagan administration, my own young family had some of its most challenging financial times.  I graduated from college in the early eighties, started working, and bought a small house in a rural mountainous neighborhood where many of the people with good jobs commuted to New York City.   We didn't wish to do that, and so we both took jobs closer to home that paid a fraction of the salary, but without such a commute. When our first two children were born, we were challenged by copays, medical bills, hospital bills, and ultimately the bills of a Northeastern Winter.  The high property taxes of the region were also difficult.   We turned our home from a lovely Summer cottage to a year round home, and the county responded by increasing our annual taxes to more than the total equity we had in our home.   As with most unsustainable practices, the answer soon came to us.  While on a vacation in the American South, we found less expensive housing, better weather, at the time more jobs within easier commuting, and a child friendly community in which we would probably rather raise our children.  Our move went fairly well the following year, and we have been a good deal more secure than in those early years since.

       Money comes, and money goes.  It's important that we hinge our lives on people and positive activities rather than on cash, which is fleeting.    Still, I like to report what I am seeing financially here in my neck of the proverbial woods.  It might be representative of things which are occurring in your part of the US, or of Canada. It might be completely different than your present experience in another nation.   Interestingly, the people who shoot me an e-mail usually see similarities in what I am saying financially, wherever they are.

       This week I needed to run out to town and to a pharmacy.  When I got there I realized that I had also intended to pay a bill that is due at an unusual time of the month. (Yes, I have those odd-nik bills too.)  My checkbook was at home.  I didn't want to drive thirty-five miles to simply get a checkbook, not did I wish to pay the bill the following day which could have made it late.  This particular bill cannot be paid online.   While filling my vehicle with diesel, I had an idea.  I wonder if I can buy a US postal money order ? ( for this domestic bill )    I went to the post office to find that I could pay cash for a postal money order and I could mail the check at once.  The cost of the postal money order itself was $1.25  .   This certainly solved my immediate problem.   The postmistress in the empty rural post office told me that many of her customers have chosen not to have a checking account any longer, and that they simply pay all their bills using postal money orders.   I did some quick math realizing that the seven dollars a month I pay for the honor of having a checking check fees and a fee to get photographic evidence of my paid checks is still a little cheaper than buying all postal money orders, but it's close, when you consider we pay a few things online. This may be one of the reasons the banks seem so desperate.

Cheese and chocolate are my favorite foods.

          I don't spend a huge amount of time in grocery stores.  We grow whatever we can here in terms of vegetables and some fruit, because we believe it's healthier to do so, and because it teaches our kids to do the same. We have plenty of eggs from the chickens, except in the Winter when we buy a few, which aren't as fresh or taste as good as our free range large brown eggs are..   We buy meat, cheese, and larger containers of fresh fruit from Sam's Club. We also get trash bags and detergents there, about once a year.   We fill in with items of which we use much less,in occasional trips to Giant, Food Lion, Kroger, or others when we are in the city, which is every couple of weeks for one reason or another.  Since we live such a distance, we put food in a large cooler in our car to get it home safely.  We don't make special trips to shop. My husband picks up meat, cheese and other items on his way home from work.   I pick up other items on my way back from errands.    From our limited vantage point, I can tell you that far fewer people are shopping in grocery stores over all.   All of them used to be busy no matter what the hour, but now, I am often the only person in the store when I am there.  Most items are much more expensive than they were a few months ago, which was often my last visit there, since I rotate the shops and buy the specials if I need them, incorporating the "cherry picking" technique of shopping.   Some of these stores also have store brand generic items which are often quite good. If I like them, I tend to buy them there.  Yesterday for example, one store is discontinuing its own brand of decaffeinated tea bags.  They were reduced from three dollars a box to $1.34, so I bought ten boxes.  This will keep my daughter and myself in decaf tea for quite a while.
Jams, cheeses, yogurt and bread have all jumped significantly in the last six months.  I didn't think it was that cheap to make my own low sugar jams, but I am going to look at it again. I may also continue to buy organic honey from one of my neighbors.   I am also considering getting sheep for the purpose of establishing dairy sheep, and then making cheese for personal and family use.  I am still paying a premium for yogurt, but since only one family member eats a great deal of it, it may be cheaper just to buy it in bulk at Sam's. This works for us just now, but as families grow, children grow up and leave, and needs change, we need to be flexible enough to reconsider our long held shopping techniques.  For example, when the kids were small we used a fair number of paper towels.  Now, I wash dishtowels in the washing machine, and only rarely use them.  I use only one roll a week.

          Also in the last few months, everywhere has a donation box for canned food.  The post offices, the mechanic who inspects our cars, the vets waiting room even has a donation bin for dog and cat food for the local pound. Even the art supply shop had a big food donation box for the local food bank, and it was filled with bagged cereal.

         The trend of very few cars being on the road here, even on weekends is continuing.  People go to work, and they see the dentist or buy food on the way home.  They stay at home otherwise.

           We have a luxury open air shopping mall in Richmond.   I get there about once a year.  I was there about two weeks ago, and I was quite frankly the only shopper in most of the stores there.    It felt strange to be the only shopper.  It's hard to believe that they are busy enough during the weekend to justify being open and completely empty during most days during the week.

              In the cities within a few hours of our home, the local governments have enacted a "meals tax".  This makes even a meal at Wendy's cost more, especially for a family.   On the edge of our closest cities, McDonald's isn't full.  Burger King has a few construction workers eating there, and Wendy's has families who have just completed baseball practice on weekends.

          I just got another e-mail alert concerning a number of additional bank repossessed homes which have gone up for sale.  None of my remaining kids are financially strong enough to try to buy one yet, especially  even with only modest student loans still outstanding.

          Animal feed costs have skyrocketed in the last one to two years.  Farmers are passing this along to anyone who wishes to buy sheep, goats, or other animals. The exception are horses, dogs and cats.  They are being abandoned in droves and this breaks my heart. I have taken on all I can.

          Substantial numbers of homeless young people are panhandling at all of the stores we go to. This seems to be worsening, rather than improving.

Less food is coming here.

         In conclusion, from my own vantage point, we are having a tougher time buying less food than we used to. Our food bills for essential items have increased substantially in the past year.    My husband is making less money than he did last year.   I paid a significant amount of both federal and state taxes this year, as changes were made to the tax laws.  This has left me with very little reserve, and I will not be buying anything for the rest of the year other than essentials.  The farm vet, the equine vet, and the small animal vet are all charging more this year simply because their materials are costing more.  This means that I will be doing even more of the immunizations and planning to see them less.  In order to save some money and perhaps continue prepping, I will need to find a small part time job.   Of course, the people I know who are looking have not found work in a year or more.

          Here's hoping that the imaginary economic improvement we are being told about on the news is genuine where you are.  It certainly isn't improving economically here.



October, 2014:     
Although we are deluged with American media reports as to how the American economy is improving, my local assessment which I just reread is about the same as I have reported above.  In fact,  we are seeing even more homeless young people outside interstate edged shopping malls etc.  Now we have more homeless veterans here, and more young amputees begging for cash, work or just a little food.
 There is certainly a disconnect as to what government reports and what we are actually seeing.  I did note this week that China has replaced the United States as the largest economy in the world.  The US held that ranking for about a hundred years, but no more.