Monday, October 21, 2013

The Right Thing to Do

The maple tree in my front yard has turned a gorgeous shade of orange.  We are at peak color in my area, which means in another week, the yard will be full of leaves.  I'll rake them and heap them in my vegetable gardens. 

We are planning to put our house on the market in March.  A few people have asked why I am bothering to put leaves on vegetable beds I won't use.  There are two answers to this question:

1.  March is 5 months away.  A lot can happen in that amount of time.  It is possible we might not move, but more importantly...

2.  I am a long range thinker.  I put organic matter in the soil because it is the right thing to do.  I planted fruit and shade trees in my yard for the same reason.

Not since I was a child, have I been a "what's in it for me?" person.  I plant trees because even if I do not get to see them grown into maturity, someone else will.  It is the right thing to do.  There was one living tree in my yard when we bought our home 9 1/2 years ago.  Now there are seven trees.  This "I don't get to see the benefits of it" mindset that so many of us Americans have has got to stop. 

I amend the soil in ground I may not work because as the steward of this small patch of ground, it is the right thing to do.

I honestly believe that if we all started thinking long-term, instead of short-term, we can change how we live.  We'll be happier, healthier, and more satisfied. 

If we do move, new people could cut down all the trees, dig up all the gardens, and start using loads of fertilizer and herbicides.  That would be their choice.  I refuse to make my decisions based on what someone might do and instead, I make decisions, based on what is right.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stocking Your Pantry

I'll admit, I'm a prepper wannabe.  It probably started when I began reading the Foxfire books over a dozen years ago.  My paternal grandmother had a giant freezer in her basement and lots of canned fruits & vegetables on the basement shelves.  I remember visiting in late summer and watching her can corn and then I'd see that corn get brought out for holiday meals.  My mom told me all about growing up in the mountains of West Virgina, poor, and her mother getting large bags of flour, sugar, beans, etc. One of my aunt's built a large separate root cellar in addition to the one in her basement.  Both are filled with summer fruits and vegetables.

My mother was not and is not a pantry filler.

I've been keeping a pantry and separate freezer with 2-3 months of food for a long time.  I started doing so when we bought a home in a small town 16 years ago and everything was a 30 minute highway drive away.  I started gardening then, as well, mostly to make and then can salsa.

As the years passed and I paid more attention to the aftermath of service disrupting disasters, I realized that keeping a pantry full of food and essentials to last a week or two was a good idea. There are lots of news stories on keeping an emergency fund in the bank, but not much about keeping an emergency supply of food, water, medicine, etc.

Slowly that two week supply of necessities has become a 2-3 month supply.  At my best, I have had 4-5 months of food and water on hand.  I am not ready to devote time and money into a one year supply like some people have.

My sister lives outside Salt Lake City, in a culture that does not find food storage at all odd or doomsdayish.  She's bringing me food grade buckets and gamma lids at Thanksgiving and I'm geeked out about it.  I buy rice, flour, and sugar in very large quantities and this will be a much better way to store them and not worry about critters getting into my food. I've never seen a mouse in my home (thanks to my cat, I'm sure) but ants and other bugs sure like my place.

My best advice to someone wanting to build their pantry without spending a lot of money would be to change how you shop for food.  For example, the next time you buy spaghetti, instead of getting one package, get two.  If you need oatmeal, and it is on sale, get two containers.  Second, learn to cook a few more things from scratch or from their raw or dried state.  Dried beans are cheaper than canned.

Visit your local library and find books on cooking from scratch and building your pantry.  The internet is also full of ideas for where to PUT a pantry and what you should have in it (food that you'll actually eat).  Mine is in a large closet in my basement, maybe yours will be on shelves over your washer, or in a drawer under your bed.  Everyone's pantry will look and function differently.

Building a pantry will give you a cushion and you'll feel more in control when money is tight or the power goes off.