Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One Small Change, March Wrap up and April Aspiration

My One Small Change for March was to mend and darn the pile of clothing that sat glaring at me from the laundry basket. Mending and Darning are ways of extending the life of our clothing, meaning that we consume less, and waste less. I am pleased to say that his has been a great month.

I darned 5 pairs of socks, repaired 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of PJ bottoms. I repurposed a skirt for spring. I had a big pile of old cargo work pants that hubby was culling from his dresser. Many of these were really yucky and beyond repair. But I was able to salvage all of the buttons and fasteners from them. I cut many of them into rags. There are still some garments in the bottom of the basket but the habit has been established and I think we will have it all whittled down soon.And I do mean "We" because one of the added benefits to the challenge this month was teaching the teen how to mend his own clothing. We also extended this fix-it, can -do spirit and repaired an old garden rake, repurposed old Moo Milk Cartons for starting seeds.

I thought for the last month of the Challenge, I would really challenge myself by buying nothing except food and basic necessities and, in case hubby is reading this, needed car parts for basic repairs that he does. Through the last three months of the challenge I have found that with a little creativity, thoughtful planning, and make-do spirit that I have consumed less, used less resources to meet the needs of my family and saved money. So a buy nothing month would help to extend the life of these changes we have made and allow us to really look at what we really need as opposed to what we really want. We have been very thoughtful about this since the beginning of the year as we have been saving money for our move but with our recent news we need to be even more diligent. I also think that having a buy nothing month will help me to more conscious of what we really need. I have several bins of clothing for the wee one in larger sizes that was give to us or found at thrift stores. So I will be sorting through that before I start looking for more spring and summer clothing for him. I will also extend this to crafting. I have several projects yet to finish and plenty of stash to work from so I will continue to work on these projects without purchasing any more yarn or fabric to complete them. As for food, we have eaten through most of our food storage from last year but when I do buy food I will try to make it as local as possible; which has been difficult in the region of the state that we live in as the local foods culture is not as strong as other regions of the state. But April is here and we should be able to get to a farmer's market this month. Yippee! We are going to Portland during April and May for teens metal smithing class, so what we are not able find to close to home we may be able to find down there.

I look forward to this month change. What is your One Small Change this month?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yum! Drive by Recipe

Roasted Chick Peas

A couple of cans or a couple of cups of cooked chickpeas

A liberal amount of Olive oil

Equally liberal amount of nutritional yeast

Chopped onion

Put all in a Roasting Pan and bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes or until you taste one and it feels just right.

Might I also suggest toasted toasted pumkin seeds for garnish:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

My boys

This is a common scene around our home, the little brother tagging along with the really big brother. My bookended sons. When I became pregnant with Evan, Tristan was twelve going on thirteen and, as mothers will do, I worried that Tristan would have a hard time not being the only child any longer. For a few of those early teen years we had some rough seas but no real trouble waters. But I remember a conversation with Tristan, while I was pregnant with Evan, in which he asked how old the baby would have to be before they could play Legos together. I can confirm that it took three years for the two join around a pile of plastic bricks.

As for Evan, he loves his big brother. When Tristan is away at his father's house Evan misses his big brother and is always happy when Tristan comes home. With such an age difference I worried that it would be like having two only children but I know that these brothers will be good friends

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Independence Days Challenge, Year Three, week 3

We are getting a really heavy, much needed rain today. I woke to the sound of its thrum on our metal roof. I had a conversation with a a neighbor who commented that this is the first time he could remember a forest fire warning in the middle of March. Garlic is up early for these parts by two weeks. The low end of the garden is usually sodden this time of year. I usually can't plant in that part of the garden till early May. But the soil was dry this weekend

Planted: spinach and lettuce in the cold frame and tunnel.

Harvested: jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, the beet greens did not make it through the winter but the french sorrel should be ready to eat by next weekend. 1 egg.

Preserved:2 quarts of maple syrup, we still have a little more to boil down. Last week we were still getting about 3-4 gallons of sap a day. We may get a hard freeze later in the week so we could get a little more. But our trees are starting to heal up and we will not re-tap them. Wehave other projects to move on to.

Local Foods: Moo Milk, local beef

Eat the Food: PARSNIPS..oh sweet spring parsnips, I sing your praise! We like them just boiled and mashed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Jerusalem Artichokes a plenty, roasted with parsnips and a found onion buried under mulch in the garden. Evan ate our spring egg. Maple syrup on our oatmeal.

Waste not: mucked out the sheep shed a bit.

Want not: I am reading Ruth Stout's no till garden book right now. So, I spent a lot of time in the garden this weekend reapplying leaves, compost and mulch hay to a particularly weedy part of the garden. Mark fixed my garden rake for me. A neighbor had given us some scrap pelxi-glass that we used to fix out old cold-frame. Darned 2 more pairs of socks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

To-do list

Mark came home on Friday evening. We spent the weekend with our heads together with paper and pen. There were numbers to figure, ideas running around in our head. We have yet to write it all down but plans are forming.

This is what a lay-off comes down to for us; we feel like we have to move beyond the paradigm of expecting our life to be paid for by the grace of an employer. Between the two of us we have many skills. Among all those diversified skills we should be able to make a living.

In the meanwhile I have some things to add to my to-do list.

  1. I have a lot of research to do. Starting with this program.
  2. I have registered for an orchard care class through our cooperative extension. There is also an organic orcharding class with Michael Phelps that I need to register for.
  3. This organization seems like a good resource for some of our plans.
  4. Oh and well, I gotta clean the house today, plant more seeds and bake bread:)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plan B

Mark called from work a little while ago to tell me that all probationary teachers, teachers in their first year in the school district, will not have their contracts renewed.

We thought something like this might happen. But when the new state budget projections started improving over the last month we had hope that a layoff could be averted.

Oh well.

We have time.

Mark will receive a paycheck till the end of August, at which time he will be eligible for unemployment insurance. If he does not find another teaching or state job then he can withdraw his state retirement account.

I may be able to return to the bookstore for a while and I will be pursuing the farming job this summer. If for no other purpose than to help fill the pantry. The Etsy shop is almost ready to open.

Whether we move or not is up in the air. The economy is bad everywhere, but it is really bad in the county we live in now. Mark has the opportunity to teach private lessons out in Farmington but whether he will get enough students to make it worth the move is in question.

And in the meanwhile he is out there and I am here.

I could hear the sadness and frustration in his voice. This wasn't just a job to him. He felt challenged and appreciated for the work he did with his students. He loves teaching music. He loves the school district he teaches for because it really supported the arts.

Meanwhile, I sit here and think of Sharon Astyk's words," We are all going to get a little poorer." I am okay with being a little poorer. I've been there before and I know what to do. It is the reason we live this life we live now. But the unknown can be daunting. All the plan B's we've come up with for this eventuality don't seem so perfectly planned when we are facing the reality of the situation.

We need to seek wise counsel. We need to plant a big garden. We need to write all our income generating plans down and see if they add up to our bottom line. We need to make our bottom line less. We need to be together under the same roof.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It has been a long eggless season on Fleecenik Farm. We passed our old ladies on to a friend when we put our house on the market. But then we were offered year old Arucauna Birds and one little Rhode Island red hen. After weeks of patience and occasional ironic jokes about stew pots we finally have an EGG!

Sweet Spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Challenge updates. IDC, Real Food and One small Change

We have been enjoying a long stretch of sunny weather. Clothes are hung outside, sap is boiling down, and the snow is nearly off the garden. It seems early in the season to see the whole garden free of snow. The yard still has small patches of snow and if they clear by the end of the week we will get rakes out and start cleaning up from winter. Beet greens that are hidden under row cover and plastic will be revealed today and hopefully by the end of the week we will be able to have some fresh greens.

My one small change for the month has been mend clothes and darn socks. This past week, I gave an old skirt some new life. I had this denim skirt that I found at the Goodwill. I wore it last spring, but there was something about it that just wasn't working for me. I decided that it was just a little too long. So, I cut about 2 1/2 inches off it and added a little calico hem to it. This week I will mend those holey pants...I swear!

This week in Real Food challenge in my effort to get rid of the refined sugar, I made a carob fudge from Sally Fallon's, Nourishing Traditions. It was made with raw honey,butter and carob powder. A friend had given a large bag of carob powder last year and it was nice to find a use for this. The fudge was yummy and definitely a treat. I put a little stash in Mark's bag of food for the week and snuck some in the freezer to bring out later because we don't need to have all that sweet in our everyday.

It is nice to have the focus of the Independence Days Challenge again. Many of the things that are part of the challenge are things we are already doing, but thinking of the challenge spurs me to think and act to explore more deeply about what we are doing.

Plant: broccoli, lettuce, sunflowers, nasturtiums. Evan helped me to plant the seeds this past week. At three, he seems much more engaged in this activity and reminds me when the seeds need to be watered. He is excited to see the small sprouts that poke through the soil.

Harvest: Maple sap, ten gallons a day for a week.

Preserve: 1 gallon,1 quart and 2 pints maple syrup

Waste not: repurposed the skirt.

Want not: I baked bagels on Friday so that we could bring our lunch with us when we went to Portland. Saving us some money. Hubby and I are close to reaching our financial goal for moving out to Farmington. We will know by mid April if he will be rehired for next school year.

Local Foods: Not much this week. The car I use had some mechanical issues so I did not drive anywhere last week. We just managed with what we had on hand.

Eat the food: Carob fudge.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taking Care of Business

I am posting 2009's preservations list here because I am starting 2010's list. I think it will be great to see how they compare.

Apple dehydrated 5 quarts 1 pint

Apple pie filling 7 quarts

Applesauce 7 quarts

Beans dilly 13 quarts

Beans frozen 11 quarts

Beets pickled 6 pints

Blackberries 1 quart frozen

Blueberries frozen 6 quarts

Blueberry jam 3 pints 3 half pints

Blueberry wine 1 gallon

Broccoli 22 quart frozen

Broccoli puree for soup 2 quarts

Calendula/jewelweed poison ivy remedy 1 pint

Carrots for soup 2 quarts 1 pint

Carrots pickled 10 quarts

carrots pureed 6 pints

Chicken Soup 7 quarts

Chicken Stock 16 quarts

Chive blossom vinegar 2 pints

Comfrey dried 3 quart

Corn frozen 4 quarts

Cranberry Chutney 5 pints, 5 half pints

Cucumber pickles, bread and butter 5 pints

Dandelion greens dried 1 quart

Dill dehydrated 1 pint

Garlic 120 heads cured

Garlic 15 large heads for seed

Garlic 20 small heads for pickling and dehydrating

Garlic scape dehydrated one pint

kale dehydrated 2 quarts

Mint tincture 1 pint

Mullein/garlic oil 1 pint

Onion Dehydrated 2 pints

Oregano Dried 1 quart, 1 pint dehydrated

Oregano oil 2 quart

Peach jam 4 pints

Peach Wine 1 gallon

Peaches dehydrated 1 quart

Peas 7 quarts frozen

Peppermint dehydrated 2 quart

Potatoes canned for homefries 13 quarts

Potatoes for cold storage about 60 pounds

Raspberry jam 3 pints, 2 half pints

raspberry wild froze 4 quarts

raspberry wine ( cultured berries) 1 gallon

Rhubarb Chutney 14 pints 2 half pints

Rhubarb frozen 9 quarts

Rhubarb Salsa 12 pints 1 half pint

Strawberry dehydrated 2 pints

Strawberry jam 8 1/2 pints

Tomato Diced 6 quarts

Tomato Puree 9 quarts 2 pint

Tomato Salsa 12 pints 1 quart

tomato, oven roasted 2 quarts

Tomato/zucchini sauce 2 quarts

veggie stock 3 quarts

Yarrow 1 quart vodka tincture

Zucchini dehydrated 4 quart 1 pint
Zucchini shredded frozen 4 quarts