Saturday, August 1, 2009

Weeks' Review

It has been cold here- some days the highs were in the fifties or sixties, and we have had a lot of rain, but my plants are loving it- and our voluntary plants are too.

Harvest something: Lots of raspberries, early kale, rhubarb (from my father's garden), early herbs and the first tomato. Also I got cherries of my cherry tree this year- what a pleasant surprise!

Waste Not:
We ate all the leftovers from the Eco Square Fair (not on a stick) food booth. I even turned leftovers in to salsas and then salsas into chicken fajitas.

Prep/ want not: Went garage saleing and found a nice winter coat for Galen and always more Shanny supplies (some winter boots). I froze some blueberries and corn that was cooked on the cob (and now decobbed).

Eat the food:
We has an awesome week of eating. We ate lots of greek salads (with leftovers from the fair) and then turned some fresh picked tomatoes and basil into a rustic pizza to dye for. We have been using the sourdough bread information at this link and have had just incredible tastes each time. I so recommend you try it. And we have been feasting (almost nightly) on fresh picked wild raspberries. It didn't take my toddler long to figure out which ones were edible (the ones mother put in the bucket, of course).

Dreams/ crazy ideas: nothing new this week, except for a change in the type of sheep we are looking at. Now I am looking at shetland sheep. I have to admit , I am a fiber person and shetlands have great fiber (and small but delicious) chops.

Community building/ local foods: Well I taught 3 classes at the Eco Fair. The information from the food storage class has been posted on this blog. I have yet to post the information on my "Baking with bacteria class"- That is for an afternoon when I have nothing better to do then to scan all of my hand drawn flip charts into the computer to post them. And the class on recycling clothing was short but sweet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pantry Basics

Why? The goal to a well stocked pantry is to survive a time while not getting to a grocery store. 3 days for any small issues (snow storms, late pay check…) 30 days for a cushion of comfort. 90 days for self sustainability, and 1-2 years for those who are crazy enough.

Ask for 3 reasons why you might need it for each group.

The longer the time you are storing for the more creative you have to be.
For 3 days- all items in the fridge are still good.
For 30 days- everything canned in pantries should be fine.
For 90 Days…. We have canned, some frozen (unless electricity goes out) and long term storables.
1-2 years- long term storables.
A) short term- 1-3 years (freezer goods, boxed goods)
B) medium 3-5 years (most canned goods)
C) long term- 20+ years- whole wheat, whole beans, sugar, salt, rice

Grains about 300 pounds per person / year- also good for sprouting, planting (growing more), feeding animals…. Ect

Sugars: Basics for taste and calories. Store the types you use
Sugar, honey, suryp

Beans- 60 pounds per person /year. Good for sprouting, planting, feeding animals

Dry milk- useful as a stored protein. Can make yogurt and cheese with- use in baking and it can substitute for baby food.

Fats- oil and other fats- harder to store, but essential to life. Needed for basic cooking and calorie needs and also for making vitamins in food available to our bodies.

Salt- another essential. Our bodies need salt- easy to store.

Baking stuff: vinegar, baking soda, baking powder, spices ect

Something special- so you can still celebrate

Water- store drinking water… blue drums…



Baking soda
Baking powder
Your 5 favorite spices (or more)
Corn startch
Canned veggies
Canned fruit
Canned Meat
Dry Milk
Favorite condiments
White flour
Whole wheat
Dry milk
Dry eggs
Peanut butter
(my additional necessities)
Chocolate chips
Baking cocoa
Powdered sugar

Water- keep some for drinking and washing. Drinking water is about 1 gallon/day- should have about 14 gallons per person available.

The 1st Commandment of Food Storage: Eat what you store, Store what you eat.

Store items in dry, cool environments- sealed. Mylar bags in 5 gallon buckets work well.

Storage Conditions

Temperature—The storage temperature is the most important factor in determining
the length of time that dried milk can be stored and should be as cool as possible.
Oxygen—Exclude oxygen as much as possible to decrease the speed of undesirable
chemical changes. Dried milk canned with nitrogen or carbon dioxide to replace air (which contains oxygen) will keep longer than dried milk that is exposed to air. Vacuum canning also decreases the available oxygen.
Packaging—The packaging for milk which will be held for extended periods of time
should not permit air nor water vapor into the package. Cardboard and polyfilm packages do not provide as good of a barrier to air as do metal cans.
Moisture—Moisture will cause caking and accelerate undesirable changes in flavor,
therefore, if the milk is not packaged in cans, store it in a dry location.
Light—Most types of packaging will block out light. If dried milk is to be stored in a
package type (ex. glass jars, plastic bags) which does not do so, store it in a dark place. Light will accelerate the undesirable chemical changes in flavor and odor.
The following storage times and temperatures are based on nonfat dry milk (instant or
regular) stored at different temperatures and in unopened packages with either nitrogen or
carbon dioxide to replace the air in the package. Storage times will be shorter for products stored in paper or cardboard packages.
50 F 48 months 70 F 24 months 90 F 3 months

How much do I want?
For 1 person (adult) this will provide life sustaining calories of about 1,200 per day.

3m 6m 1 year shelf life
Wheat 50 100 200 pounds 20+ years
white flour 12.5 25 50 pounds 20+ years
Rice 25 50 100 pounds 20+ years
oats 11.25 22.5 45 pounds 20+ years
Pasta 8.75 17.5 35 pounds 1 to 2 years
beans 15 30 60 pounds 20+ years
sugar 18.75 37.5 75 pounds 20+ years
dry milk 18.75 37.5 75 pounds 2 to 4 years
oil 3 6 12 quarts 1 year years
salt 1.25 2.5 5 pounds 20+ years
vinegar 0.5 1 2 gallons 20+ years
honey 5 10 20 pounds 20+ years if crystalized
yeast 0.25 0.5 1 pounds months
baking soda 0.75 1.5 3 pounds 10+ years if prepared for long term storage
baking powder 0.25 0.5 1 pounds 1 year years
Tuna/ canned meats 12 24 48 cans 3 to 5 years

Pantry Basic Recipes:

Baking powder biscuits:

4 cups flour (any)
4 Tbs baking powder
4 tsps salt
Cut in:
4-8 Tbs fat (oil or butter or shortening)
1-2 cups milk/water until moistened

Roll or drop and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Great for sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, with honey, with soup, or use a shortcake (add a TBS of sugar). Also can use with tuna salad or any other way.

Basic Gravy

1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs flour
To 1 cup cold water/ broth
Add to warm meat drippings or thick broth and cook until it thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper and herbs.

Favorite Gravy

Cook left over meat in water (I usually add onion and garlic)- then add the above cool water and corn starch mix to it. Simmer until it thickens and season with salt, pepper and herbs.
Serve over rice, potatoes or biscuits.

Basic Pancakes/ crepes/ blinis

4 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
2 -4 Tbs fat/ oil
1-2 cups milk

Mix and cook on a hot- greased skillet.

Basic Beans

Soak- overnight
4 cups beans in about 8 cups water. (enough for the beans to double in bulk and still be covered).
The next morning drain beans add about 10 cups water (enough for the beans to double in bulk and still be covered).
Cover and cook all day on Med/high in the crock pot, stove top, oven or over a fire (stir occasionally if on stove top or fire).
When beans are tender add salt to taste and enjoy.

Chocolate Oaties

Mix, then set aside:
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
½ cut nuts

Mix, then bring to a boil:
1 stick melted butter
6 Tbs baking cocoa
1 cup sugar
½ cup water

Add in the oats- stir until all coated, place by spoonfuls onto wax paper or plates to cool

Refried Beans

Take soaked beans, drain excess water, mash and then warm in a fry pan (with as much or little oil/fat as you want). Add salt to taste.


Food storage books:
Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis (Paperback)by Peggy Layton

Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival (Paperback) by Jack A. Spigarelli

Where to buy:
Local Co-ops
Walton Feed .com

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A garden Tour

This is one of our 4 rhubarb plants. It took me 4 years to plant rhubarb here because it took me that long to accept that there was none here. Every house in Minnesota has rhubarb plants... don't they?

Pic 2 here is our pasture land- perfect for grazing sheep.

Pic 3 is my wild herb bed. The herbs just go crazy and grow like weeds. I've used the same location in my garden for the herbs for the last 3 years- some of them are perennial and some are annuals- the lemon thyme came back strong this spring and just about took up the whole bed!

Pic 4 is one of my garden rows. I started with 6 raised beds ( 2 feet wide by 16 feet long) and this year we added 2 more and a row of potatoes in broken plastic totes. I put the potatoes in broken (for drainage) totes for easy of digging. When the tators are ready then I can literally dump out the whole tote and get my potatoes with little digging.

Pic 5 is my whole garden from the front view.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Week's cover

The garden is in awesome bloom (sorry don't have pic today). This week's rain and sun really let it loose, We have flowers or small fruits on many of our vines and tomatoes and the potato plants always need more hay!

Harvested Something: Some strawberries, basil.... other items just beginning to flower.

Waste Not:
I had children open several bottles of our maple syrup while in storage- so I learned how to save maple syrup that has mold growing on it. I also had to save some jams.

Prep/want not:
I have been researching sheep and we had a hitch added to our mini van. So we can take the bikes as a family.

Eat the Food:
We had some awesome frozen tomatoes in our chili, and also used some fresh picked basil in our pasta this week.

Dreams/ crazy ideas: We have been seriously planning on how to add sheep and chickens/roasters to our mix of life here. Meanwhile... my mind is all aflutter trying to figure out just how and when to move the kitchen into my living room .

Community Building/ local foods: I have volunteered to teach several food discussions (and fabric) discussions at the Local Eco Fair next week. The first is on the culture of baking, the other is on using pantry staples (and long term food storage) and then finally on to my favorite of reclaiming old clothing. I just love turning ripped pairs of pants into interesting things. One should never throw out a good piece of fabric.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The solution is simple.

1. Don’t bail out the car manufactoers- help them fail.
2. Make the production of new cars illegal.

If we avoid spending the money to build new cars- or bailing out companies that do. We not only save the bailout money, but we immediately increase the value of all cars on the market or in the driveways. We also create lots of jobs caring for cars.

We decrease the obesity rate- we make it harder not only to obtain calories, but also make exercise easier to get. The change will be slow at first, but more and more people will be forced to move their bodies to catch the bus and ride their bikes, until we have created a society that is used to traveling by other means then cars. This will also make “ice cream runs” and other small trip to gather meaningless calories harder to come by.

We also would be slowly preparing society to live with high oil costs (post oil). We would establish bike friendly parking, bike friendly driving lanes and also would start moving ourselves closer to our work and shopping.

Ideally outlawing making new cars would not only save us money, strengthen our bodies and prepare us for peak oil, we would also have to spend more time closer to home and maybe even get to know our neighbors. Maybe we could actually walk with them to the bus stop, chat, and even knock on each others door for a cup of flour- to save us from a trip to the store.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Week's cover

Planted something: more tomatoes, cilantro, hayed my potatoes and herbs

Harvested Something: A few strawberries- tempted to do a bit of the cilantro- but wanted to wait for it to grow a touch first.

Ate the food: salad! local greens into salads.

Waste not: put old bananas into cookies

Want not/ prep and storage: went to the cities to pick up 14 buckets of organic grains for long term storage. And the requisite case of baking cocoa- someone has to make the birthday cakes even in tough times.

Preserved something: my sanity? Galen spent the week at autism camp.

Build community food systems: supported the local farmers at the farmers market.

Worked on house: learned to shade the west side from the afternoon and evening sun - keeps it cool enough to avoid turning on the AC.

Did with kids: art projects- we did collages, shadow pictures, ceramic painting and horse back riding. Ewan did a lemonade stand with his cousins.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

When I became a doomer.

It was 2003/2004. I had been running a little internet business for several years dealing with organic and fair trade clothing goods. While realizing the irony of how much oil we spent to get our products. One of our best sellers was German woolens. The wool for which came from New Zealand, Shipped to Germany and made and then to us in the USA. Another thing that caught my attention was the realization that the Debt we had as individuals and government would force our collapse. It would literally not be sustainable unless we had continuous growth- at a rate higher then the credit cards charged. At that point I realized the irony of what I was doing. I was selling organic clothes (made in Germany, some from china, India and Egypt) to a bunch of Americans on their credit cards, who already had a closet full of clothes they weren’t utilizing.

I wasn’t so much shocked at my own actions, but I was shocked at the system as a whole, I saw the whole system as set up to collapse- it being utterly unsustainable for the people and planet.

Soon after that we chose to move out of the typical American suburb to the country. We have learned to garden, do some plumbing and work with people on a small local scale. Our personal goal is to be comfortably prepared to handle high ( and volatile) oil prices and the changes that will force our society to make. I hope our small town can have a sustainable local economy (so I do not have to learn all homesteading arts). I also hope to become useful in a local scale economy by sharing my knowledge and becoming a skilled midwife.

I hope information (the web) will still be at our fingertips, but am preparing for a world where my calves and arms get toned by the physical labors of making hay (while the sun shines) weeding my gardens and tending the flocks. At the very least I have found that my body and mind are happiest when I am in the dirt. They are happiest when the real work to get done is physical. I can touch it, breathe it, feel it. My body was made for that. It sure beats sitting in a car or at a computer.

I suspect the official collapse date will go down in history as sometimes late last September. This is the financial collapse. The petroleum that we are dependent on and the fury of nature will liken hearken to a large government collapse. Many parts of society will follow. Who will be left? Well organized and prepared churches will survive. Tight knit communities that can pull together and organize to care for it’s members will survive. To that end I can see city- states forming.

Overall, I feel that parts of our society may be worth saving, but we have really built the infrastructure of our own doom. Because we are addicted to, surrounded by and shaped by our infrastructure I highly doubt we will have the courage to dismantle it on our own. Therefore, I recommend something of cataclysmic proportions, just about everything recommend in the New Testaments Revelation’s.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quote of the Week

"The ambition for broad acres leads to poor farming, even with men of energy. I scarcely ever knew a mammoth farm to sustain itself; much less to return a profit upon the outlay. I have more than once known a man to spend a respectable fortune upon one; fail and leave it; and then some man of more modest aims, get a small fraction of the ground, and make a good living upon it. Mammoth farms are like tools or weapons, which are too heavy to be handled. Ere long they are thrown aside, at a great loss."

Source: Abraham Lincoln, Sept 30, 1859, Wisconsin State Fair

Thursday, February 19, 2009


How about an ARC made with Heart? An ARC that you do most of the work on yourself?

SO you understand how everything works and feel confident fixing or changing it? An ARC that those with more human then cash capital to invest. Our inputs of time, energy, heart and mind will truly make the arc ours not only in the legal and physical sense but in the spiritual and emotional sense as well.

A HARC has 4 stages of development.

Stage 1: Foreplay- the arrangements of legal, financial and construction plans. This the stage were everything from location to building details get assessed and planned. All needed permits are acquired and so on.

Stage 2: The opening ceremonies- the actual ground breaking and frame building. This is the erection of the shell. When done it has running water (maybe just to 1 area), heat (can be done as part of stage 3, depending on when and how the ARC owners plan to move in), floor and roof. This stage is done mostly by professionals- under watchful care of the HARC owners.

The HARC is now in habitable at any time.

Stage 3: Let the games begin- the family takes over the HARC and with an average of 2-4 days of hands on learning time per specialty (plumbing, wiring, indoor wall building, ect), that is working as apprentice laborers, the HARC owners learn all the skills and then do all the work (assuming of course that the specialists are on call for questions). This phase is rapid at first- getting to a stage of easy living and then diminishes as the immediate need to get things done decreases.

In this stage we add wiring, plumbing, kitchen, and all other utilities. We also add walls and basic floor and wall coverings. The emphasis is on what works and what is easily maintainable.

Stage 4: Finishing- this is longest and most drawn out stage. I don't ever really expect this stage to be over until someone wants to sell the HARC to another party. But finishing means adding things that make it pretty or things seen as "necessary" by those in the house selling business. It can also mean making improvements of any and all details in the arc. More accurately this stage should be called "the detail work."

Ideally the HARC will be inhabitable with about $100,000 investment in cash, verses the prefinished ARCs going for $300,000. And of course, it will not only shelter you, feed you, recycle your water, but also teach you (and your children) many useful and needed skills.