Friday, February 26, 2010

seeds of sustainability-seed trades

A couple of my seed trades came today. YIPPY!  My different trades so far for the year are about double the number of seed I purchased. The last couple years this is how I have expanded our heirloom seed collection rather than purchasing. the majority of our seed. I find it a much more economical and fun way to  obtain seed. Sometimes we trade for specific things and other times we just send others what we think they would enjoy growing. I enjoy trading  seeds with other folks from different areas of the world  as I enjoying experimenting with the different plants. Some do great, others so so and some don't grow at all.

Today's loot included some rose moss, yucca, marshmallow , black cohosh, several types of tomatoes( even a few funky hybrids),some beans, squash  scallion, strawberries and a few others.  I can't wait to try them and see how they all do here.

Anyone that would like to do a swap send me an email or go back through my last seeds  of sustainability post. I still have everything on the list.

I am so cheap- seed envelopes

This morning I needed to  bundle up a seed trade package and didn't have any plastic bags that I normally use for them. Looking on my messy desk I saw some old envelopes  just laying there, I believe they were from Christmas cards that were sent to us. I have been meaning to copy the addresses  into  my address book since we received them but there they sat in a muddled heap with phone numbers, notes, lists and thoughts scribbled on them in  many colors of ink, marker and colored pencil.

I at this moment decided that I had my seed envelopes. All I needed to do was get to chopping and with a tiny bit of tape I could have several envelopes. I could also get my addresses, phone numbers, thoughts, comments and lists all put in the proper locations and my desk  would get cleaner too. Instead of kill two birds with one stone I was going to kill me four.

Unfortunately, my excitement of  making my own  seed envelopes over took my common sense and I just started chopping away,  turning things inside out and taping.  Satisfied with my  new,  upcycled seed packets  I then  placed all the seeds for the various packages I was preparing in  the envelopes, sealed them all up, labeled them  and put them in their various envelopes.   What I failed to  do was  write anything down  that was written on any of the envelopes so if any of you  get my daughters phone number  or  one of my to do lists  on the inside of your seed packet, please email  me the information.

Kidding, really. That was all a lie,  but I did make my own seed packets from junk mail envelopes this morning. One envelope with a small  see through window will make 7 small seed packets. I chopped them to the size I wanted then  just used some cheap scotch style tape for the  seams.  They sure ain't pretty but they worked great. Heck I bet if you had a glue stick  you could make them even cheaper than by using the tape and if you had a child around they would love to decorate them for you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

cutting costs -once a month supply runs

Since we lost our job retired we have cut our every other week town trips back to once a month. If it wasnt for all the critters  and food storage issues we would cut this back even further.We  find nothing unusual in ourselves being able to  accomplish this feat  but to the majority of folks, our doing this makes people look at us like we have a third eye on our forehead. Not that most people don't look at us that way to begin with  but that's a completely different post.

When you are unemployed for a length of time, you begin to break  absolutely everything down  into how much it  will cost or how much  it will save you to do this, that or the  other thing. I am certain there is a  name for this disorder  and probably some really good mind altering drugs to "cure"  us of this ailment, unfortunately  being unemployed  also means being uninsured and therefore we can't cant afford  the doctor, the "fix" or the gas to get to  either.

Anyway, logic says that when you go to town you inevitably spend money each and every time. If we didn't  there would be no real reason to go to town now would there? Then again as teenagers I can remembering going all over  yet have no place to go. I am so glad I outgrew that.

When we first became unemployed retired, gas was at its all time high  of  $4.15 or so a gallon. Living over 10 miles from  town and driving a gas hog back and forth to town this was an  easy decision to make. Each trip to town for gas alone was  ten bucks. I know not much in the grand scheme of things but when you  have just seen how fast your paycheck can be cut to a 1/3 or less  of what  it was a week or two ago it suddenly becomes more than you ever thought imaginable.

That ten bucks could buy 10 pounds of rice and 10 pounds of beans each week. If you  multiply that by  four that's a lot of rice and beans in one months time or 40 dollars  a month.  Two people don't eat THAT much beans and rice in a month so lets  break it down a bit more. Our average monthly food bill is only about 80 dollars a month, which means  that  the 40 dollars saved from gas trips  is  2 weeks of groceries. Therefore, in 3 months time  by cutting out 9 trips to town we  are eating the entire fourth month for nothing based  solely on  gas savings.

Here are a few other hints, ideas, tips, suggestions and thoughts on  the subject.

When we go to town we head out and are back in less than three hours time, that is with 35-40 minutes of driving time. We have a system or pattern  of how we do this so that we can be back home in the least amount of time possible and the least  amount spent. The fewer places you have to go the less money you will spend overall.

A running  list is kept each month  with all stops listed and all goods needed and we adhere to it. Neither of us care for stores nor people all that much  and now that we are a stay at home couple town is the biggest  cause of stress  that we have   in our  dull lives so we like to keep it as short and as sweet as we can.

We stop at the dump  with our bag of trash then (as of late) drop the clothes at laundry mat, run to the bank, stop at dollar general . We  then head to the laundry and depending on the weather take the clothes out or put them to dry  and if needed run to chinamart or lowes then hit  the critter food store. Next we head back to  laundry if we dried the clothes there and gather them and go the the grocery store and pick up any remaining items on our list. From there we head toward the house, stop at post office if needed, go get gas and come back to the mtn where we check the mail and fill water totes on our way in.   By having a plan  and following it, it leaves no question of should I stop here or there. It becomes a habit   and eventually  you  learn the routine. Make sure to list all necessary stops or you will forget them, once it becomes habit you no longer need such detailed lists.

Store hopping does us no good. Other than what I listed we have two other  grocery stores here in town neither of which I care for. Coupon clipping and running all over to catch the sales doesn't work for us. We simply don't purchase  products that coupons are good for and I am not going to start  because I can get it free.

If you are a from scratch  cook, buying sugar and flour in 25  pounds is much more economical than 5 pound bags.

For us a few other costs have played into why we have cut back on town trips. Our driveway is very long and hilly so in and out traffic daily  or weekly causes  expensive to repair wear and tear on the driveway. By cutting all unnecessary traffic on it out it shaves  off 1500 dollars of driveway work a year leaving us that money for much more necessary items.

Not having contact with others is not as easy as it seems. Through the years we have told people  visiting or staying to be prepared for seclusion, for a life  with  only seeing others every couple of weeks. A life void of cell phones and store trips except for  every couple of weeks. Reality has shown us that few can last the couple weeks and it is very rare  for any one to go a month  or more. I think in all the years of having people through here exactly one has gone  an entire month without leaving the homestead.

One should have  a  decent stock pile of basics  as well as knowledge of how much food you  will need  in advance of  attempting this.  I would also suggest cutting back to  twice a month first and then  every three weeks before going to a full month. By doing this  you will save yourself a whole bunch of hassle. In the long run you will  save even more  money on  food bills because you will know exactly how much of darn near everything you eat in that time and can buy bulk accordingly.

Milk will freeze. It sometimes gets a little weird but it is still fine. For those that don't drink much milk or just use it for cooking, powdered milk is a good alternative.

Monday, February 22, 2010

monday's mountain musings

We got the first five  beds worked up and ready for planting this week. Two of them are planted already. One has peas and one has onion sets. I planted 2 pounds of set which equals 170 plants total.. On our next town trip I will pick up another 2 pounds of seed and get them in the third bed next week. We use a lot of onions here as I use it in almost everything I cook. On top of these I will also do green onions, scallions, leeks  and I am thinking I may even try a few shallots this season just for kicks. The two remaining worked beds will likely get greens of some sort planted in them. Next up for grooming and preparing will be the terraces on the hill from hell,the bed behind the gh and a bed  up by the shack.

a little rant
I am a member, visitor, reader and contributor at quite a variety of different forums, websites and blogs. I do this because I enjoy seeing other peoples real life experiences, view points, ideas, thoughts  and creative genius. I also do it so that I can help others that share a common vision with me and to  help pass along  traditions, skills and ways of life that seem to be bygone. I do it for the love of doing it and   because I firmly believe that the old ways of life  and getting back to the basics are  the key to our  future. The messages that we as a collective group of like minded (I know this is a huge spectrum) individuals  send  out needs to be one of decent standards, morals and ethics as well as one of sound mind , body and spirit. Our messages need to be ones of hope, helpfulness and humbleness and  yet as of late  it seems  we as a collective group  are losing this  bond  that ties us together because of  greed and over inflated egos that our new found  popularity seems to have brought on.

Lately, as I glance over the many places I visit and contribute I notice more and more paid advertisements, fees to see the materials that you yourself may have contributed too, VIP and other  clubs,  reputation  systems and on the homestead  level folks charging people to come work for them  and pay them  for the pleasure of working along side such esteemed people.  I am finding this more and more disturbing as time goes by as  to me it seems  more like a game of genitalia measuring  than  anything else. Who  can have the highest following, the biggest website, the most posts  and the most sponsorship  rather than doing  what they set out to do which is to help others and spread our knowledge.

Folks, this is a time  that we need to bond together, do what we do best  and help others. Spread the knowledge, stop the stupid game playing and  let the greed and ego  go. We are at a pivotal point (at least to me) in  not just our lives but our children and grandchildren's lives. It is a time we get back to the basics, back to our roots, morals, ethics and ideals. What is happening is not the way to go about it.  By doing so we are feeding the same  monster that has gotten  us to  this point. The insanity has to stop, we the people that have gotten this whole movement  going, on its feet and into  mainstream society are ruining it  through our actions and behaviors.

As a result of this very  game, I have recently stopped contributing, visiting and reading many sites that I would have once recommended folks to visit , join and learn from.   I  simply can not and will not contribute to the sites any longer that in my eyes have lost sight of their focus and vision. I will continue to do  what I believe in and enjoy  doing  and if that means I do it only in my little blog world   and on our little homestead  with open doors then so be it.