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Groceries in Bulk and Piecemeal

November 2nd, 2022 at 11:42 pm

I know I haven't posted my payday report for last payday yet.  I have it on the agenday.  This is more of a brain dump, rant, food prepping/canning to save money in the long run, sort of thing.

I went through the grocery ads online this morning.  I can't really do them with the paper in my hands anymore, becaues the mail delivery has gotten so bad that for an ad cycle that starts today, I have gotten them as late as next Monday, but it is usually Friday or Saturday.  They should be coming in the mail on Tuesdays.  I guess if they didn't have 20 pounds of straight to the recycle bin politician flyers to deliver for the past few months, not to mention Christmas catalogs no one ordered, maybe we'd get the rest of our stuff on time.

They didn't even deliver the mail on Thursday.  I know because Mom put out a letter to be deliverd on Wednesday night with the little flag up and the flag was still up at 9:00 p.m. and our letter was still in there to be picked up.  Then on Thursday we put the letter back out in the box and when it still hadn't been picked up by 6:30 p.m. took it back out and the mail showed up at 7:00 p.m.  That was annoying.  We didn't get any mail on Friday or Saturday and none picked up, so they are obviously not coming to even look if the flag is up for outgoing mail.

We ended up taking our letter to the post office on Monday, since we can't rely on our carrier.  Our mail is supposed to be delivered by 2:00 p.m. according to the delivery schedule and has been up until September when it started fluctuating wildly.  I put in a polite, but formal complaint, too.  It should not take me that many days to try to mail a letter, it shouldn't take that may days to get the grocery ads, and I'm not sure we're getting all of our regular mail, either.  I haven't got my statements from my one credit union that only does snail mail twice this year and Mom has had the water bill go missing once and the garbage bill twice.  So I mentioned that, too.  You hear about carriers just tossing mail when they don't want to deliver it.  I wish they'd toss the political flyers, not the real mail.

Anyway, back to the grocery ads, there weren't a lot of good sales.  I guess after two good weeks of sales I wasn't expecting much.  There were a couple of buy one get ones where they don't tell you the  price.  I don't pay attention to those, since they are usually full price, they just jack up the price of the first one so it covers the price of the second.  And I'm not going to make an extra trip to the store on the off chance I am wrong for a meat that I am iffy about to begin with.

So while that store did have a good salmon sale, it was for Atlantic salmon, which no, not when I live on the Pacific and that is so much better.  And a decent t-bone steak sale, but not when I have very good sirloin sale steak in my freezer.  There are decent produce items on sale, but I'm not sure it was enough to being me in.  They had good pork items, but since I have half a hog in the freezer we have barely made a dent in, there is no point in that.  So the main 3 stores are just meh this week.  I'll have to buy produce somehwhere, but that's all I need to buy.

Which means I'll be going to Winco.  I've been wanting to make it over there anyway, since I want to stock up on canned green beans and get 40 pounds of Roma tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce to can.  If they don't have 40 pounds available I will take 20.  I can get 20 more from another store if I have to.  I also want to get some fresh peppers to make some chili this week and they have the biggest choice in peppers, and some cilantro.  And they have bulk herbs and spices and wild rice blends.  And everything is just so much cheaper there with that kind of stuff.

I plan to go to TJ's as well, to see if they have turkeys yet.  No one is advertising turkeys and the one place I did see mention of it was with one store saying to order your turkeys now.  This would be a store that normally would be doing one of those things where if you spend $150 you'd get a free turkey by now.  So I'll look this weekend if they don't have turkeys.  I'll probably switch to one of the back up plans, either the Cornish game hen plan or the duck plan.

Yesterday was the last day of the .99/lb sale for chicken thighs.  It'd been selling out every day like crazy so every day we've gone it has already been wiped out by 9:00 a.m.  Mom got there at 7:30 a.m. when they opened yesterday and was finally able to get what I needed, which was 40 pounds or 8 value packs.  I figured I'd lose at least 5 pounds to skinning and deboning.  It filled 3 gallon sized Ziploc baggies, so maybe more than that.  At least I can use that to make bone broth.

It wasn't as bad with the chuck roast last week, which they at least had until 5:30, before they sold out, but .99/lb chicken is way easier to stock up on for some budgets than $3.99/lb chuck roast.  The butcher says people are really worried about the gas shortages and whether or not truckers will even be able to haul food next week the way things are going, so they are stocking up like crazy.  They are worried about even having fuel for their own gas stations over on the east coast by the end of next week for their store brand.  We are more protected here because of the refineries, but even so it'll come here eventually if things don't change soon.  Crazy times.

I spent from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. skinning and deboning and cutting up the chicken for canning.  I ended up sleeping in, because I am on day 2 of caffiene withdrawal, but tomorrow I will get started on canning the chicken and getting a bag of bones in each Instant Pot.  I'll have one more bag of bones to do after that, but I will have some beautiful broth when I finish.  It should be 21 quarts or so, but I am not sure how I will actually divvy it up yet.  I know I want some in pints and some in 24 oz and some in quarts, so we'll see how it goes.  I might actually divide the bones up into four batches.  I think there is enough and then I could have 28 quarts' worth, however I do it up.

Pints are great if you just want to pop one, warm it up and drink it.  Doing that was great for me when I was so sick I couldn't eat.  All I could do was drink and barely that.  It got at least a little nutrition and hydration into me.  The 24 oz size is what I use in a batch of homemade enchilada sauce.  1 quart is what I use to make soup or to make skillet lasagna or sometimes 2 if I make a double batch.  Sometimes I will make my pasta in it if I am doing it in the Instant pot. It makes a fantastic macaroni.

I picked that cucumber finally and one green and one yellow zucchini.  The plants aren't dead yet, we haven't had a frost.  There are still a couple veggies growing really slowly.  The green beans did die when it hit 37, but they aren't planted two feet off the ground.  We are still having days in the 50's with a few sunny hours between rain showers, so I guess I won't give up on them until they give up on themselves.

Potato Harvest, Garden Talk, Aerogarden, Computers, Canning--Long Post

October 14th, 2022 at 01:30 am

We've got the potatos all dug up.  We did it over two weekends.  I haven't weighed them yet, but visually it looks like we got more than last year.  We are letting them sit for two weeks for the skins to harden before we start weighing them by variety.  I can tell at a glance that the red La Soda did very well this year, both the seed potatoes that we bought and the ones that we saved our own seed from.  So did the Canela Russets, which are a variety of Russets that have a much lighter skin than most Russets, but taste just like Russets, only they were a lot smaller than they should have been, but they really made a lot.  They should have been 4 or 5 inches long, but we got them about 3 inches long.  We also got a lot of Kennebecs from our seed potatoes and a ton of our own Gold Rush potatos.

By and large the seed potatoes we saved did better than then one we bought from the nursery, except the red La Soda.  The ones we planted from the nursery were bigger than ours to begin with, though.  We saved smaller ones, so even chitted, the ones from the nursery were bigger pieces than the small whole ones we planted.  That makes a difference.  But ours still did well, a lot better than last year.

Anyway, the grocery store potatos that we planted that sprouted on us, also did very well, which I find very interesting, because the Russets weren't even organic, so had probably been sprayed with sprout inhibitor, but they sure had sprouted a lot when Mom gave me the half bag to throw away and DH and I decided to make another row and plant them.  We also did 3 rows of organic yellow potatoes that we had let sprout to plant as well, because shipping the potatoes was so expensive and most yellow potatoes cost more than any other kind from the nurseries.

I'll have to note it all down in my garden notebook and compare it all to last year when I have the final numbers, but with a cursory glance that seems to be how it has come out.  We had good luck last year with the grocery store potatoes, too, whether organic or not, and planted a lot more of those than nursery seed potatoes.

I will again save out seed potatoes, but will only purchase two varieties this year instead of 5 or 6.  I want to get more of the Magic Molly French Fingerlings and the German Butterballs.  I was successful enough with the other varieties to save some of those out, but only enough of the Butterballs to have 4 or 5 meals with them.  I only got 3 pounds of them to plant last year to try, so next year I'd like to get 25 pounds of them.  The Magic Mollys we could have about 10 meals from or have one meal from and save the rest to plant, but I would really rather eat them and get 25 pounds of them to plant.  I only got 5 pounds of those and so got more of them and they were bigger than the Butterballs because we didn't dig them early like you can.

If I can find both of them in 25 pound increments and not just 50.  I really have to watch for when they become available to order.  Last year I didn't start checking until January and a lot of the 25 pound selections had already sold out.  They don't ship them until planting time, but people were ordering really early so I am starting now to check weekly.  I don't need 50 pounds of each.  The shipping on that is way too much.  We will only eat one meal of each to make sure we like those varieties and I will hold back on making more until we know about whether we can order more in case we do have to save all of those for seed potatoes.

The rest of the yellow potatos I planted were the Gold Rush seed potatoes I saved from last year.  Those did pretty well, too.  There was a lot of production for the amount I planted, which was not as much as I wanted to, but still another row than last year.  I'll double what I save out for next year.  Eventually I will have enough of each variety I want to plant to never have to buy seed potatoes at all from the nursery.

All that's left to do there is to put down lime and rototill it into the soil.  I'm thinking about putting down some peat and rototilling that in as well.  There is still a lot of clay in the soil despite how much we have amended it back there.  I'm not even sure we'd use a whole bag this year, maybe half and see how that goes. We'd also rototill that in and some more compost.  Then we'll go out to the bay and harvest enough seaweed to put down on top of it and cover it with black plastic and the seaweed will compost down over the rest of the fall, all winter, and into the early spring and feed the soil.

When you can't buy manure anymore and still want to keep your garden organic, you go with what you have, and seaweed is a great fertilizer.  Just make sure you have a license for gathering sea plants.  It's usually the same one as for gathering shell fish and generally is separate and less expensive than a full on fishing license.

My tomatoes are still going so I am letting them.  I am going to thin out the vines, though, and trim off any flowers left.  The nights are still 48 to 50 and the leaves have not died at all and the days are in the mid to low 70's, so no reason to pull them out.  I do want to plant garlic where the tomatoes and peppers are, but I generally wait until the first nice day after the first frost to plant them.

In a typical year the first frost is Halloween, but it's not feeling like a typical year.  It's feeling like an Indian summer year, which we get about once every 5 years or so.  Then the first frost goes into mid to late November.  It's been as late as December 2nd before on a year that had no snow and barely even froze.  I plant in November anyway when that happens.  The garlic still grows fine.

I do need to get my sage and thyme out of the containers they are in and into one of the garden beds.  They have both burst their plastic containers because they are so big.  I didn't have room for them in the beds this year, but now I will get them in place so I do.

I still have one very determined cucumber plant alive, but if it gets much colder at night it's going to die.  It's got a few small plants on it.  I am thinking of tenting its trellis in some clear plastic, at least until they get big enough to eat.

The zucchini plants have some small zucchini on them, but again, I am not sure if they will get big enough to eat.  Maybe I will tent their hoops, too.  I need to harvest the peppers, too.  Only the cayenne has peppers left.  I am thinking about bringing the jalapeño plant inside for the winter and leaving it under a grow light.  It did not have ideal conditions this year and got overshadowed by it's neighbor plants.  I like doing pico de gallo year round, but the jalapeños in winter are always so dinky.  I know japapños are still a cheap pepper, but I like them big.  I want to do one last harvest of basil before pulling the plants.  They will die the minute it hits 45 at night.  We have maybe another week before that happens.

I'm going to grow some cilantro (for the pico), parsley and basil in my Aerogarden this fall and through the winter.  Then I don't have to buy bunches, I can just snip what I need, and if it grows too big I can dehydrate the rest.  I always feel like I am wasting some with the bunches, because they go from fresh to suddenly slimy when I go to use up.

I am thinking of getting the biggest Aerogarden, so I can grow some cherry tomatoes and some lettuce, too.  I have enough room.  Or if I get the biggest one, I can grow a jalapeño plant, a cherry tomato plant, and bell pepper plant in that, too, along with some lettuces in the front.  That would be nice, because it has the built in lights on a timer, so I only have to put in the water and the fertilizer when it tells me too.  And they have a big reservoir outside the Aerogarden itself that you can buy and hook into it , so you don't have to fill the smaller one in the machine itself, so you aren't watering as often if you want to buy that.

I haven't spent my allowance in a long time, so right now I have $500 in the envelop, and it will be $550 with tomorrow's payday.  The one I want, along with the grow pods I want, plus tax, will cost $869.01.  There's no shipping over $500.  If I want to get the extra reservoir, it would cost an additional $38.84, so a grand total of $907.85.  Which means I need to come up with $357.85 to buy it.  That means if I save my next 5 allowances I'll have $250, which brings it to 107.85, so I can use part of my Christmas money from DH of $200.

We usually order our Christmas presents in November, though, so technically I wouldn't have to use any of December's allowances at all, doing that.  I could just use the Christmas money as usual and add it to the allowance I would have saved by November 25th, which is when I'd be able to order.  I have $10.53 left in the gardening envelope, so that will make up the shortfall of $7.85, so that will work out.  If MIL gives us our Christmas money early so we can order stuff so it will be here by Christmas, I could use that as well.

That's usually somewhere around $200 each for me and DH and $100 or $150 for the kids.  Not sure about this year, though.  Her stocks probably got hit as hard as ours were, but she still has to take out $15,000 a year and she doesn't need that to live on between social security (she was able to claim FIL's) and she got FIL's pension since he was still employed when he died.  That's a little over $3000 a month and she has no debt.  She doesn't even spend all of that.

Or I could just use the money in the beef envelope for next year's steer and buy it now.  That's $407 and I wouldn't need all of it.  Then I can start saving for it again.  We still have several months before we are ready to get a beef.  I'm planning for late July or August, so I have enough time to replace the money.  Or I could just replace the beef money with my Christmas money and still count the new Aerogarden as my Christmas present from DH and MIL.  Maybe that would be the better choice.  Then I could order now and I'd get it going much sooner.

I had been saving up my allowance for a new computer.  Not that there is anything wrong with this computer, but I just feel like there should be a replacement fund for when it goes belly up.  I'd like a nicer one than I could afford last time.  I am used to nicer ones.  But I can start saving up for that again.  I'd rather be able to grow some vegetables and herbs indoors and not have to go to the store just for greens or the fresh herbs I use the most or pay for bell peppers, which are ridiculous these days, especially in winter.

DD needs a new computer soon.  Hers is ancient.  I'm really surprised it is still going.  It's a desktop and it is about ten years old and she's so close to maxing out the memory, despite doing all the things to compress and get rid of unneeded junk files.  I've got money for that set aside and we are waiting for the Black Friday sales online or Cyber Monday or whatever.

She just wants a new desktop and she knows which one she wants.  And we will take the hard drive out of the old one and put it into the new one so she doesn't have to transfer everything the hard way after running all the utility fixits in case that helps.  I'm giving in and trying that.  It has a free 60 day trial as part of my family Norton licenses and will work across all of our computers.  If we like it, we'll probably keep it.  I want to see if it makes any difference first.  60 days is a good trial period.

Tomorrow is payday.  I am going to try to get back in the habit of posting my payday reports for accountability.  I haven't wanted to and I still don't want to.  They won't be pretty for a while with so much going to the credit card, but we'll get there, one payday at a time.

I have a beautiful pot roast in Instant Pot 1 and am about to put Yellow potatoes in Instant Pot 2.  Not mine, these are still from the store, since ours have to have the skin harden for two weeks for proper long-term storage.  They will also be easier to peel.  But what I am making are new potatoes from this season and not the old ones from the potato sheds that were grown last year.  So they taste great.  When I get through what I have left, ours will be ready.

Well, I'm off to peruse the grocery ads.  Hopefully there will be some good sales.  I'd love some boneless skinless chicken or some pot roast so I can can some up.  I am out of canned chicken and I don't have enough beef to make me happy.  I'd also like to can some carrots.  There are not enough on my shelves to get through until next year's harvest.  I saw they were putting out ten pound bags of organic ones when I shopped two weeks ago, but I was running out of grocery money and wanted to have enough if I needed it for the second week.

They also had 25 bags of regular juicing carrots, but it is hard for me to can 25 pounds of carrots in one go and I prefer organic since carrots pull up everything that is in the soil.  Farmers plant carrots to clear contaminants from the soil.  They don't sell those ones, but even the ones planted regular can still pull up stuff they don't know is in the fields.  Parsnips are good at that, too.

We will can about half of the potatoes we harvested, except the reds and store russets.  They don't can as well.  Yellows can the best.  I will try canning a batch of the canela russets and see.  Our green bean harvest wasn't great this year because we planted so late.  I do have a full shelf, but I wanted two.  So I will probably stock up on canned ones for the store so I can have a full shelve of those.  I have about 24 cans of those and it fills 1/4 of the shelf, so I'd need 72.  If I buy two cases every time I visit Winco, that should do it.  We didn't plant corn this year, but we don't eat as much of that.  We have 12 cans of that and I think another 12 cans would be sufficient for a years supply for us.

Okay, now I'm really off.

Selling Garlic and Salmon Fishing

September 22nd, 2022 at 11:16 pm

Yesterday was officially six weeks on the garlic drying so today I get to go out to the garage and sort through them.  I will pick the best looking bulbs of the bunch to save for planting towards the end of October or the start of November.  It will be great not to have to pay for bulbs this year.  I have already picked out 4 bulbs of the Elephant garlic, it is just the Music I have to sort through.  I figured it out, though, based on current costs in seed catalogues or their websites.

1 bulb of elephant garlic goes for $13 for conventionally grown and $18 for organically grown.  Yes, just one bulb.  I about fell over.  The bulb I bought last year was from the grocery store and was $3.99.  I am assuming it was conventionally grown.  I bulb of elephant garlic only has 7 cloves, no more, no less, so you can never grow more than that.  So this year I will be growing 28 elephant garlic plants for free and next year I will double that to have 48 and the next year I can consider them organically grown, since I will have grown them using organic methods.

I won't go above 48 the following year for my family, though.  There is only so much elephant garlic one can use  I will grow and sell some for seed to other people for far less than what is in the catalogue.  Maybe $6 or $7 per bulb which is more than reasonable for organic.  I'll check the catalog price the year I would sell them.  I would have space to grow 96 plants so could sell half of them.

Worst case scenario, I dehydrate them and grind them when I need garlic power or rehydrate them night before if I need them in a recipe the next night.  After taking out my 48 and the additional 14 I'd hold back for seed for the next planting, that would give me 34 bulbs to sell to others.  The following year I would know if I saved to many for myself and could adjust accordingly.  And I'd know the demand.

I do, eventually, have plans to sell organic Music bulbs of garlic as well.  That's something that sells out so quickly that it is almost impossible to get.  I barely got the conventionally grown ones last year.  They are going for $9 for one bulb this year.  Last year I paid $50 for 21 bulbs.  When I went back the next day to see if they had shallots, the Music was marked as sold out.  So were the shallots, but I will get some this year.

So once I build up past how much I want to have only for us to eat, which would be about 30 bulbs for cooking and dehydrating (we use a lot of garlic so between that and the music we should be fine), any extra could be sold as seed bulbs.  People on my farming list are asking all the time if anyone knows where they can buy Music.  I could eventually do a small bag of Music bulbs, maybe 5, for $15. 

Garlic involves some labor at the begining in the planting.  During the growing season, you pull the occasional weed, and you turn on the soaker hose consistently.  It's pretty care free as it has no predators.  I keep a cage on it anyway so the deer don't bed down in it.  Then at the end you dig it out and put it in drying racks for 3 weeks, trim the stems down, dry for 3 more weeks, and then box up and put in a cool, dark place to store.  I spend maybe 2 hours total, so selling 6 bags of garlic would be more than enough to pay me back for my time, plus I get a lot of garlic out of it, too, for my family.

It's time to turn the onions over, too.  They need to be trimmed down the rest of the way and dried out for 3 more weeks.  And it is time to start digging up the potatoes.  Most of the plants are completely dead.  The rest can go another week.

DH is going salmon fishing.  Apparently they can only get 2 each, which sucks.  In Alaska they get to bring home 6 fish each on each type of salmon and some they can bring home 25 to 30 per household.  Then B.C. gets a ton.  No wonder there's no fish by the time it reaches Washington.  I'm okay with the tribes getting their share, they deserve that above anyone else, it's all the other folks getting tons and tons with crazy high limits that bugs me, while we have dinky ones.

It used to be worth the gas money to go out when gas was cheap, but it isn't really anymore, especially with only 3 of them going out to split the cost.  And that's assuming they catch any fish.  Otherwise, I'd just as soon go to the grocery store and buy 2 whole wild caught coho salmon.  It'd cost less, unless they come home with monsters.  I'd be tempted to get a fishing license and go out so we could get two more fish, but again, we could just buy a fish with the cost of the license.  This is probably the last trip of the season, too.

Mom wants to do a dump run on Sunday.  Well, she wanted to do it on Saturday, but fishing.  She's probably going to pout about it for the rest of the week that it isn't on the day she wanted, and then forget what day of the week it actually is, think it is Sunday on Saturday (happens a lot on the weekend), stomp around and have a martyr complex that slips into an "Oh, woe is me," thing, until someone reminds her it isn't Sunday and she'll snap out of it like she wasn't behaving that way at all and not apologize to anyone for acting that way.  Gotta love dementia.  Monday through Thursday are generally pretty good, though.

I picked another 2 pounds of tomatoes yesterday.  It was mostly the little yellow pear ones.  I need to wash, destem, quarter, and roast tomatoes, so I can make roasted tomato ketchup.  I saw a lady make it on youtube and it looks so good.  I might have enough yellow tomatoes to make one jar of just yellow ketchup.  That would be interesting.  I love making roasted tomato spaghetti sauce, so I can't imagine this wouldn't be good, too.

I got my first purple green beans yesterday.  They grow purple, but turn green when cooked.  It's about 2 quarts.  It's not enough to run the canner, but considering the way this summer went, I am grateful to have gotten any.  The canner instructions say to run it with 4 jars, and I don't want to do pints of green beans, because we eat a cup each at dinner.  But if I hold off for 2 days, there might be enough ready to do 4 quarts.  There were some that were almost ready and there were some that could be ready since I gave them a good soaking and we are back to weather in the mid-seventies again.  Or I could just run them with pints of carrots, since carrot pints and green bean quarts run for the same amount of time and I am almost out of carrot pints.  Then I could do a full canner load and I can do that again when I have more green beans.  Two birds, one stone and food on the shelf.  Perfect.

I would have canned it with the ketchup, but that is waterbath canning and the other is pressure canning and they take different times.  Food safety first and foremost.  I really hope the ketchup turns out well.  I'd hate to waste all those tomatoes.

 

Payday, Plans for Beef, Plans for Garden, Seeking Fertilizer for Next Year

September 7th, 2022 at 03:40 am

Payday has come and gone and I have re-funded all of my envelopes, funds, and sinking accounts.  I had money left in my grocery envelope, quite a lot actually, so I started my savings for the next beef, hencetofore to be known as "Beef Envelope" because I am fancy like that, with $208.  We just didn't buy that much.  Part of that was bad sales at the grocery stores both weeks, part of that was picking up our hog, part of that was having a lot of produce to go through from the previous pay cycle, some of it long lasting, like cabage, and melons.  There just wasn't too much need.  Based on how much it cost in July of 2021 to buy a whole steer, which was $2,955.64, I need to save up at least $3000.  And since that was 2 years ago, I probably need to build in an additional raise of .50/lb on the farmers side of things and .10/lb for the cut and wrap and $10 added to the kill fee, just to be on the safe side.  That was what it was for the hog.  So I need to set aside $3500 total for the steer.

On top of that I have raised the grocery budget by $100 to $500 a payday with the new raise DH got and with most of our meat taken care of now we had a lot more freedom at the grocery store.  Maybe I didn't need to do that, but it gives me plenty of money to put in the Beef Fund.

The only meat I have to buy now is chicken, turkey, deli meats, and fish, unless he ever gets to go fishing again this summer.  Work has been crazy and the last fishing trip was unsuccessfull for the guys who coud make it because the fish were still too small.  DH couldn't, because we were all down with something so bad he was afraid to leave us alone in case someone needed to go to the hospital (nobody did).

They didn't go out over the holiday weekend because the guy who own's the boat, his mother had hip replaement surgery earlier in the week and was coming hom the friday before.  Those first few days after are a 2 person job/challegne/nightmare.  Then it calms done enough that one person can handle it. And if not than he can work from home for the bad times.  They are very flexible with hours as long as you meat goals on time, show up for meetings even if on Zoom, and do your walk downs at the right time.  So hopefully, next weeked we can still get coho salmon.  It is my favorite.

Anyway, the garden is doing very well.  Last night I harvested 10.4 pounds of tomatoes from the garden bringing the tomato total up to 14.4 pounds for the year.  There were 3 more zuccchini, briging the weight totoal up to 3.8 pounds.  They were nowhere the size of the frst one, more like normal sized.  I weeded the zucchini finally and I'm sure it will appreciate not having to fight for light.  There are lots of healthy litle zuchchini on most of the plants.  I did have to take a couple of dead ones off one plant that had been completely shaded out by weeds, so now maybe it will flower again.  I also transplanted the nasturtiam away from the cucumers, and one day later they are liking it already.  I did pick my first two cucumbers.  They are small, pickling cucumbers, so their weight was .7 pounds.  I was starting to think I'd get nothing off those vines at all.

I think I am going to transplant my pepper plants away from the tomato plants and give them a batch of rabbit manure and see how they do with full sun and not fighting the tomatoes for resources.  I just have to hear back from the rabbit rescue place about rabbit manure.  The other two bunny farmers I've called ghosted me after a couple of days, so trying to find something more reliable now.  If not, I guess I'll just have to go with stinky fish emulsion or try to find a stables that is open this weekend for manure removal.  It was so much easier when cow manure was available in the stores instead of having to hunt sources down on my own.

If worst comes to worst we are off to the beach to harvest as much dead seaweed as will fit in the back of the truck to dry out, break up with our hands, and bury in the garden beds.  The nutrients in that will feed the beds for a couple of years.  That is included in his gathering license for shellfish, and they really don't care if you are just collecting the dead stuff if you have one or not, but safe side so he'll have it on him.  I'll just go to keep him company and to have some time away from the kids.

I really hope the fertilizer industry gets back on its feet soon so they stop taking up all the organic stuff because that is all that is left.  It makes it really hard for us gardners.  And then they have huge crop failures and we can't make up for it the way we might, because we don't have the inputs that were available to us before because big ag took it all.

I'm sorry if this comes off all fragmented.  I think the hamster on my brain fell off his wheel today.  Anyway, I am going to put as much aside as I can within limits to save for the beef to meet that goal, put as much aside as I can to refill the EF, and extend my garden season as long as possible while preparing the beds for next  year.

Harvest Totals Coming In--We are Definitely Saving Money

September 1st, 2022 at 07:35 am

I have my harvest totals for onions and garlic.  I did not lose any garlic to rot and it is now dried.  I have 10.1 pounds of it.  I am setting aside 4 heads of elephant garlic to replant.  I only planted one last year, so I want to have a good amount to plant this year.  That leaves me with 3 to use, one of which I had already used (but recorded the weight of).  The ones I am using soon or did use had split their skins and would not store until planting time.

As for the Music garlic, I will replant half of that, which will be double what I planted last year.  And I won't have to pay for any garlic to plant at all.  I did have a couple head of garlic where the cloves split the skins as well, so those will get used up first.  So anyway, next year I will spend $0 on the garlic I will plant.  I don't remember what I paid this year, but it was far, far too much.  But I figured it was a one time investment.  Music is a hard variety to come by, but it is supposed to be the best, both in flavor and long-term storage.

I will dehydrate some of the garlic for making garlic powder as needed, but most of what I keep will be stored in a bag in a cool, dark cupboard.  It will last quite a while.  I don't fancy paying $1 for a head of garlic.  If anything starts to sprout I will dice what's left up and dehydrate it.

As for the onions I got 50.3 pounds of a yellow keeping onions, 30.6 pounds of a red keeping onions, and 20.1 pounds of Walla Walls sweet onions.  So a grand total of 101 pounds of onions.  I lost one yellow keeping onion to rot, so didn't count it in the total weight.  It was a small one and weighed .4 lb and was trying to grow a baby onion off its root system.

This year I spent $10.89 on 4 4 inch pots of itty bitty onion plants.  Next year I'm going to order seed and grow my own onion plants.  It won't be that much of a savings this year, but the packets will have enough for the following year as well, so that year will be free.  And that way I can get the Candy sweet onions instead of the Walla Wallas.  The Candys are better, even if the Walla Wallas are pretty darn good.

Our onions will take six weeks to dry, with a trim down to about one inch of stem at the 3 week mark and then I can bag up and store the two types of keeping onions and they should store for 6 to 8 months.  As for the Walla Walla, they won't store for very long, maybe 2 or 3 months, so I will mostly cut those up into strips and dices and freeze them.

I will dehydrate some of the yellow keeping onions so that I can grind them up for powder as I need them.  If any of the keeping onions start to sprout it will be time to cut them up and freeze or dehydrate them as well.  I am just not going to pay $1.39/lb for yellow onions, $1.59/lb for red onions, and $1.79/lb for sweet onions, so I will not waste one scrap.  Any sprout can go into broth.

I picked my first two tomatoes yesterday.  Between them they weigh one pound.  I am going to keep a running count.  I will be using them with one of my sweet onions to make some pico de gallo tomorrow.  I think I will have some of those little yellow ones that look like pears ripe tomorrow and maybe a couple of paste ones.  They were pretty close today.  And the green beans are sprouting.  So we will get a crop.  The garden isn't a complete fail this year, even though everything got in so late.

We will still save a lot of money on food.  Especially when the potatoes are ready.  Potato prices are getting outrageous.  I think I may try to sneak in a carrot crop.  It would be cutting it close, but I have coldframes.  With the raised beds they would survive the November freezes.  I'm definitely sowing some radishes.  They'll be grown before the first frost.

This fall, after we harvest the potatoes and pull the dead plants and weeds out, we will rototill lime in and then cover it in black plastic so we don't have weeds growing in there for the rest of the fall and as soon as it warms up in the spring.  I don't know for sure if we will plant potatoes there in the spring again or not, but I want the ground prepared if we do.  If you do grow potatoes in the same place every year and you don't use lime you can get black scab on your potatoes.

I figure we will get at least 120 pounds of potatoes this year since we expanded our potato plot.  That's still not enough potatoes to get us through the year, but I'll buy some extra to can and we'll get there.  Buying direct from a local farmer who charges less than the stores is our saving grace there.

Next spring we will be able to pick up all the black plastic we laid down in late July or early August and everything will be dead under there.  We will be able to rototill everything flat and get started on making a proper fence to keep the deer out of the garden and also build two more raised beds, possibly three, spring weather permitting.

Before summer's over we need to take the deck off the front of the house and clean off the back porch.  Maybe even organize the garage, but that can't be done until the onions are done drying, because the drying racks are in the way of pretty much everything.

Price Breakdown on Half a Hog

August 28th, 2022 at 03:08 am

We just came home from the butcher and got everything squared away in the freezer and I've now done the math, so I can give you the breakdown on what we got and what we paid for our organic, pasture-raised meat.  Keep in mind this is not going to be the cheapest stuff you can get from the store, if you even still can.  These animals are not feed lot raised or even raised in a nice barn, but confined to a pen.

They are out there in the sunshine, with little shelters if it gets too hot, too windy, or too rainy.  These pigs walk free and root around in the soil eating anything they find that is good for them.  This is the prime stuff, not the stuff injected with salt water or who knows what else.  These pigs get exercise and their meat is nowhere near the color of what you see in the stores.  They are rotationally grazed, which means they get fresh pasture every 10 days, before any parasite pressure can develop from being in the same space too long.  They are given organic feed, free choice minerals, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmers gardens.  And that healthy environment and food, that difference, is reflected in the price, the quality, and the taste.

That being said, here is the meat I got.  I could have gotten roasts, but I wanted more sausage, so didn't get any.

38 1 inch pork chops

8 1 inch pork steaks

3 family sized packages of spare ribs

16 country spare ribs (basically boneless smaller steaks)

16.5 pounds of bacon

24 lbs of country (breakfast) sausage

24 lbs of mild Italian sausage

2 hams (they should just fit in an oval 6 quart crockpot for size)

2 packages smoked ham hocks

1 8 lb bag of leaf lard (for making biscuits and pie crusts)

I skipped getting the rest of the lard as it has a porky taste to it and while we don't mind it, especially for deep frying, my mother hates the smell of it.  Leaf lard has no smell or taste to it and doesn't stink when rendering it down.  It would have been about 30 lbs if I had gotten the regular lard.

Hanging weight for the hog was 210 pounds.  Hanging weight is the amount my half of the carcass weighed after all the guts came out.  I was charged $3.50/lb on that, coming to a total of $735.  But that is not the grand total, so don't be pulling out your calculater yet.

Next up comes the butcher fees, which are quite a lot different than when getting beef, because a lot more is being done.  The butcher fee covers the killing, gutting, and the hanging in the refrigerted warehouse, the cut and wrap fee which is based on cutting it up into pieces and how much plastic and paper is used to package the meat, the cure and smoke fee for things like the bacon, ham, and hocks, the bacon slicing fee, and finally the sausage processing fee.  The last involves the grinding down of the meat, twice, a large grind followed by a small grind, then of course mixing the seasonings in.  I got charged twice for that since I had two different kinds and they have to clean the machine in between.  If I'd only gotten one type of sausage, that fee would have been half what is listed below.

$85.00 Butchering Fee

165.90 Cut and Wrap Fee

$36.23 Curing and Smoking Fee

$12.00 Sausage Processing Fee

+_6.00 Bacon Slicing Fee

-----------------

329.24 Total Meat Processing Fee

Add that together with the hanging weight fee:

$735.00

+329.24

-------------

1064.24 Total for Hog

This brings the total per pound to $5.07/lb. for organic pastured pig.  Which is incredible for that type of meat.  And let's face it, I can't even get regular bacon, pork sausage, or ham for that price anymore where I live, and you probably can't either, except maybe a picnic ham around the holidays.  Sometimes not even pork loin chops, let alone the real ones with the bones.  Pork shoulder you can get for $1.99/lb, sometimes ribs for $3.99/lb.  But there is stuff injected into that pork shoulder and often any chops before they are cut.  It's $8 a pound for organic bacon and $7 a pound for regular.  Today's prices, with all that inflation, are horrible.

One 1 lb organic, pasture-raised pork chop of the same size as the ones I got runs for $9.28/lb.  It cost $22.49 for a package of 2 country ribs.  Mine had 4 and cost $7 less based on weight comparison.  This was from the same farm I got it from, only in the store, so the best comparison.  The sausage from the same place is $10 a pound on the rare occasion it isn't sold out by 10 a.m. and was out of my price range to buy it that way  So I think I did pretty good there buying it this way.  If inflation continues as it has been, I wouldn't be surprised if in a year we aren't paying $5/lb for all cuts of pork.

This should last us a year.  We don't eat a ton of pork, mostly breakfast types or to use the sausage in meatloaves or meatballs, but it'll be nice to change up the chicken, beef, and seafood.  It works out to 380 servings, give or take how much broth we get from the hocks and ham bones.  That works out to 95 meals for 4, so we could have pork 1.82 times per week.  I haven't had bacon in so long.  I've been eating a lot of turkey bacon because it is so much cheaper, but really, it just tastes like ham to me.

Honestly, the size on some of those chops and steaks, I could probably cut them in half and have even more meals from them.  A hog from the butcher stays good up to two years in a deep freeze, so I could cut part of the chops or steaks off, cook them, and then use the cut off part in stir-fry in another meal.  I'll have to think on that, but no one needs to eat a one pound pork chop or steak, that's for sure.

Now to start saving up for next year's beef.  And maybe another chest freezer, so I can stockpile chicken, too.  Bulk buying off the farm, organic and pasture-raised, saves me so much money against buying it from the store, when and if I can even find it.  I don't have the energy to raise them myself anymore, not even the 8 weeks for Cornish cross, but I know a farmer who will raise them for me next summer.  52 chickens in the freezer would be very, very nice.

Pork!

August 26th, 2022 at 09:50 am

Our hog half is finally ready to be picked up, so DH and I will be going down on Saturday to pick it up.  DH was invited to go salmon fishing on Saturday, but he had to decline.  It's a little bit of a bummer, but the only other option was to take time off from work to go and he is too slammed to do that.

I am thinking about making it a date for DH and myself and going to Outback for a meal.  I miss Kookaburra wings so I would eat that, the veggies it comes with, some rye bread, and a sweet potato on the side.  DH would probably get a steak.  Or I could just buy some of that on sale steelhead trout, some sweet potatoes, some rye bread, and pick some zucchini from the garden and still not have spent as much as at Outback and feed four people instead of two.  We will at least be in the car along for the 40 minute drive there and the 40 minute drive back. 

DS and I will need to go through the freezers tomorrow and make things more compact and throw out anything with freezer burn and of course take out anything that needs to thaw out for dinners for the next few days, preferrably large things that take up a lot of space.  It shouldn't require a ton of space, but I want to make sure enough is cleared.  I don't think there will be much that is freezer burned, since we went through two of the three freezers a month ago.

I'll do a break down of the cuts I got, the final price, and the hanging weight once I know it all.  I've paid for the meat, just waiting on the cut and wrap fee until I get there.

 

No Spending Today--Garden Talk

May 31st, 2022 at 03:36 am

Last night about two hours before sunset, I got my plants in.  DH grabbed one of the wrong types of tomatoes.  I wanted two Early Girls and a Roma, but he got one Early Beefsteak.  I don't buy beefsteak tomatoes because they always take so long to produce here.  Same reason I don't buy Brandywines.  I've tried them once or twice and they basically start turning red in October, so they take up a lot of garden space with little production.  But I've never seen an early beefsteak before so hopefully it will produce earlier in the season.

I wish I had more space to grow tomatoes, but with the way everything is going so slowly, I'm not even sure we'll get green beans in on time.  I got my peppers in, then planted basil in what will be the understory of the other plants.  I put the blue Veronica and the Red Rock Yarrow in front of the cosmos.  I don't know how big the Veronica will get, but I know the Cosmos will get taller than the yarrow, and if the Veronica gets bigger than that I will have to transplant it elsewhere.  I have enough space for one more flower to fit in, it just has to be one that deer hate, like the others I've done so far.

After that I planted my green and yellow zucchinis.  I planted them at the distance of their mature size.  Too often in the past I've crowded them because the space is so big and it looks naked until the zucchini grows, but crowded plants slows down production and sometimes will block sunlight to the plants that weren't as big as some of the others.  So this year I am giving them room and making sure they are far enough from the cucumbers that they don't block the light to them.  That was a big problem last year.  Even after a lifetime of gardening, I still find myself learning things.

I had to look up when to harvest garlic, since my garlic stalks are so tall.  I found out that each leaf represents the outside paper for the bulb, so if there are ten leaves there will be ten layers of paper to protect all the cloves inside.  I've never had great luck with garlic in the past, but I planted it at the right time in the fall and it has done beautifully, growing like it was in an Alaskan summer with 20 hours of sunlight a day.

My onions are coming along nicely, too.  They are not quite ready to start bulbing, but I see a little swelling near the bottom of the stock, so maybe another week or two.  And I think the bunching onions will be ready to start harvesting pretty soon. 

Oh, and another fun fact I found out.  Elephant garlic isn't true garlic.  It's actually a leek.  Isn't that weird?  Because it bulbs like garlic and tastes like garlic, but it isn't garlic.  I think that is kind of cool.  Just one of those facts you stumble upon when searching for other aspects of garlic.

We didn't get the zucchini cages made yesterday as DH went down hard last night with the head cold.  He's not doing the greatest today, but he slept all night.  He said he will manhandle the fencing wire over to where I need it and he'll help me form the curves, but that may not be until tomorrow.  I am hoping for tonight, but I am not going to push him as I know how bad the first two days of this cold can be.  And even though I am somewhat better, I still fell asleep for 3 hours in the middle of the day, so I am leaving it up to him.

I do have to at least water.  Even though the soil was very moist when I planted, and the plants were wet from being watered at the nursery and store, I would like to get a good drenching on everything.  We've had light sprinkles, but as my grandfather always told my mother, a farmer can't count on the rain to water deep enough.

The drip hoses I ordered arrived in the mail on Saturday, so each bed will now have a 50 foot hose in it, which is enough to go down, cross the back, go back up, and then across the front and then I will attach a hose to it to go to the faucet, which has a four way hose splitter.  That way I can do the three 22 foot long beds and then set up a sprinkler for the strawberries.  We will run a hose from the other side of the house to set up a sprinkler for the potatoes.  The blackberries already have a drip hose on them and uses the hose from the back of the house as well.  So we should be set for watering with as little difficulty as possible.

Freezer Saga--An Update--And Food Security

April 25th, 2022 at 06:17 am

Well, the freezer that was supposed to arrive in May has now been pushed off until the end of June.  But they do have some of another brand with the same size coming in this week.  It has a similar layout with the 21 cubic foot capacity.  We went in to look at the smaller version and decided to go ahead and switch to it.  So on Thursday we will be getting our new freezer. 

We have been without an upright since July and I wasn't sure we would ever get one, especially in time for harvest season.  We will finally be able to stock up on chicken and get a whole hog.  Mostly what I want from a hog is a lot of sausage, bacon, shanks, ribs, chops, and steaks.  I don't need any roasts or hams.  Then if I have room I will see if I can get a fall lamb.

We are really going for food security this year, where we don't have to rely on the grocery stores as much as possible.  I'm growing extra zucchini so I can freeze it and a ton of green beans, carrots, potatoes, celery, turnips, and parsnips for canning so we can have veggies through the year.  We'll be buying peaches and pears for canning as well off a farm.   I'll also be installing some low tunnels in the fall to keep the harvest going as long as possible.  I've grown peppers and lettuce and spinach into November before this way.

I still have a lot of work to do.  We'll be renting a sod cutter soon so that we can clear up some more garden space without having to do as much work getting the mat of weeds and grass out of the way.  It'll make it a lot easier on everyone.

We started work on the third 22 foot long garden bed.  A lot of weeding and leveling had to be done, but the bottom layer of cinder blocks has been laid to the halfway point.  DH is going to try to work on it a little at a time after work.  The bottom layer is always the most difficult.  Once the bottom layer is in place, we put down the weed barrier, and then the next two layers go on very easily since it is just a question of putting the adhesive layer down and then putting the blocks in place.  After the second layer goes down it has to dry for 24 hours and then the third layer can be put on and dry for 24 hours.

Once that is done we can work on pruning the giant rose bush down to about a foot high and put all those trimmings in the bottom of the raised bed.  Then the rose bush can be transplanted to the front yard and we can dig out the weed tree that has been impossible to kill.  We'll also be cutting down another tree and the wood will go in the bottom of future raised beds.  It's kind a cross between hugelkutur beds and lasagna style beds, since compost and manure and hay and cardboard will go in as well, before the four way garden soil fills the top foot.

I have a woman coming next week to dig out almost all of the raspberries and in exchange she will give me a couple bags of rabbit manure, some tomato and pepper plants, and some calendula starts.  I do like bartering when I can.  It saves me a lot of money.

I got the rest of the onions planted.  These ones are Walla Walla sweet onions.  They will have to be chopped and frozen as they don't keep long like the non-sweet yellows and reds I planted a week or so ago.  I up potted the tarragon, parsley and oregano in one pot, but will have to divide them up into their own pots in about a week or so if the new bed doesn't get finished.  I just needed them out of the four inch pots as they were just starting to get root bound.  I did locate some larger pots in the garage.  The oregano will need a big one, but the parsley and tarragon should be just fine in 8 inch pots.

I've been able to do quite a bit more than I thought I would.  I am getting stronger every day and a lot of the physical therapy has been designed to strengthen the muscles I need for gardening.  I may never be able to do weight bearing exercise again, but I have been walking without my cane and my son and I are going to try to take an actual walk tomorrow and see how I do.  One of the local parks has a flat loop to walk, I can't do hills without pain, so we would never be too far from the van if I had to go back.

Next on my agenda for the garden will be to weed out the strawberries.  This will be the last year for this set of strawberries.  I know what I want to get next year and will probably pre-order them in December or January.  They ship at time to plant so I need to get the jump on other people to get the variety I want, which alway sells out so early.  It is a much sweeter berry than the ones we currently have.  I'll likely pot up what we have now next year and sell them or exchange them for plants I want.

My goal is to eventually have the entire backyard and the little side yard devoted to growing as much of our own food as possible.  It's a lofty goal, and it might take five years to do it, but I know we will get there.

 

 

Another Step Towards Food Security in a Time of Shortages

April 4th, 2022 at 04:34 am

It was dry and overcast yesterday, so worked on the garden, filling a 22 foot by 3 foot raised garden bed with rotted manure and soil.  I can't do any weight bearing exercise, so I was in charge of raking the dirt out after DH and DS dumped it in, plus breaking up clumps in the manure.  This stuff has been composted for 3 years, so it wasn't gross or anything and anyway, I wore gloves.

So we now have two beds the same size ready to go, although one of them has 8 feet of garlic in it that I planted in November.  It's come up very well and I can't believe how huge around the stem is on the elephant garlic.  I will be planting onions in the rest of that bed.  The per pound cost of onions has gotten ridiculous and the selection is kind of gross sometimes.  I am planting mostly keeping onions, but I will plant some sweet onions to cut up and freeze.  I want to do some shallots this year and of course some bunching onions.

With the bed we just finished I will be planting carrots, parsnips, turnips, and radishes.  I can can all of these things, but I will just have the radishes for eating, not for canning.  I don't know if I like pickled radishes or not, so I am going to try making one pint and if I do, then I will make more, but I don't think I will.

We have 1 1/4 pallets of cinderblocks left, enough to make one more raised bed of the same length, so on the next sunny or at least dry day we will be weed eating the area down to dirt and then covering it with a tarp until the next time DH can get to it to start making the next bed.  I plan on growing zucchini, kohlrabi, chard, cabbage, cucucmbers, and herbs, in that bed.

I looked at the deck today and all the plastic boards are the same length and they seem to be tongue and groove.  This will be great material for raised beds, plus we can reuse the support beams and posts as well.  I can't see how they were attached to the supports though, there are no nails or screws, so I am wondering if they were attached on the underside.  DS will have to look underneath to determine it when it is time to take the deck apart.  I don't think DH is capable of crawling under there anymore.

So those beds will be built where we had the potatoes last year, which is a 16 by 20 foot area. I am planning to transfer the strawberries into one of those beds, because where they were last year led to a lot of scorching of the plants in mid-July through August when we were having temps in the 90's and when it wasn't it was in the high 80's.  But it didn't kill them.  Which reminds me, I have to get a couple more room air conditioners before summer.

I'd like to also plant asparagus in that bed so it can pull double duty, but I think it will have to wait for next year.  The two grow well together since one has a deep root system and the other has a very shallow root system.  That area gets afternoon shade so will get a break from the sun for about 4 hours before it comes back around the giant cedar tree in the neighbor's yard and gets sun for a couple more hours.

As for the other bed, I am thinking tomatoes and peppers since it will be far less shaded than the first bed.  

We are putting potatoes in next to the yet to be built third cinderblock bed.  It is a 22 foot by 16 foot area, so a bit more space than the other and it will get more sun.  Eventually that area will get three more cinderblcok 22 x 3 foot beds, and we will just plant potatoes in raised beds in the future.  We have plenty of potatoes that we planted last year that have sprouted that we will be planting, but I also got 4 new types of seed potatoes that will ship when it is time to plant, so soon.

I wanted to try some fingerlings, get more Kennebecs, a different red, and German butterballs.  The last ones are supposed to do really well here and are very yellow inside, more so than Yukon golds.  I couldn't get them to try last year as they were sold out.  This year I was smart and ordered in December.  Everything I got is supposed to be long keepers.

I am hoping with better sun placement, we will get a higher yield this year.  And if I like the new varieties, that I will have enough of them to replant with next year, especially the German butterballs, because buying seed potatoes to have them shipped is expensive.  And the ones available locally are not the ones I want to grow and don't even necessarily do well here.

We plan on digging out and giving away some mature raspberry plants.  We have one person that eats them so we will leave a three foot area and get rid of the rest.  We can put up posts and trellis green beans there.  It'll only be the one row but since it is pole beans it will produce and produce.  Some will be green and some will be purple.

Once the deck is torn down, we will be moving the huge climbing rose bush, that used to climb the apple tree before it was cut down, into the front yard where the deck was and dig out a weed tree, then we can build another raised bed row that is 20 x 16 feet.  And if we get a stump grinder to take out the old apple tree stump at least enough so we can level the dirt, and tear down the old chicken coop,  I want to get a 10 x 12 foot plexiglass green house and we can put in two beds inside it for growing sweet potatoes and tomatoes in the future.

That probably won't happen this year, but it is on the agenda, as is tearing down the rabbit shed and planting fruit trees.  I want two more Italian prune plum trees, a Bing cherry tree and a Ranier cherry tree.  I don't know if those ones cross fertilize or not, but there are plenty of flowering cherry trees in the neighborhood.  I also want a good apple tree.  Maybe Opal apples or Tsuguras.  And maybe even a cold hearty nectarine and a pair of male and female cold hardy kiwis.  We won't let anything get huge, we need to be able to pick them easily, so will keep them pruned to a reasonable height.  And I need to get a huckleberry bush from a new supplier.

The dead, rootless sticks Tennessee Wholesale Nursery sent me last year never did anything and they refused to honor their warranty when I told them well before the year mark, and they said to just wait and see, then refused to give me my money back when I did just that.  Never do business with these losers.  I am getting a one gallon plant in a pot shipped to me from a reputable nursery.  I would like two but since one plant is $37, I may have to wait until next year to buy a second one.

So that's the plan.  It may be a three year plan or maybe a five year plan even, but we will do what we can this year, so we can grow and preserve as much food as possible and be far less dependent on the supply chain.  

Freezer Issues and Hog/Chicken Fund

October 18th, 2021 at 01:11 am

I don't know if I've talked about the freezer debacle or not, but the freezer we bought last December broke down in late July and we have been put through the wringer with Frigidaire ever since, trying to get them to honor their warranty.  For a long while it just felt like they were trying to run out the warranty.  Plus no one in town fixes Frigidaires anymore unless you've bought it from them.  We didn't buy it from any of those places.  We would have, but no one other than Home Depot had freezers when we bought it due to shortages.

Well, I felt from the beginning that the door didn't match up right, but at least the freezer was working, even if the light kept coming on saying it wasn't at temp, but it was still at freezing so we dealt with it.  Then in July thing started thawing out and it started running all the time and then it sounded like an airplane was taking off every couple of hours, which definitely sounded like the motor or a belt to me, so I unplugged it.  So we managed to split what was in it between our small chest freezer, our one fridge freezer, and two shelves and the door of Mom's freezer, and whatever we would eat for the next few days went into the fridge to finish thawing out.

And that started the hours on the phone trying to get it sorted.  First it took a month to find someone who would repair it for us under warranty and they were in Seattle.  So twice Frigidaire sent them a repair order for the model number of our Freezer, but with the word refrigerator on it.  So because those didn't match, they repair company rejected it.  Of course it took a week for them to receive the order, a week for them to reject it, and a week for us to try to resolve the problem with Frigidaire.  So that's six weeks.  Then we finally escalated it to someone higher up and she completely erased everything that was in the computer under our names and restarted from scratch.  She made sure everything lined up, model number matched freezer, sent it off to the repair place and...one week later, they recieved the work order and it said our model number and...refrigerator.

So the repair shop is saying they don't match again and they can't fix it until it does.  So back to Frigidaire and talked to the same woman and she escatled it higher and that someone went and yelled at the repair shop that it was on their end this time and to pull their heads out and fix this.  So we finally got a person scheduled and they came out on Monday.  And I was right.  The door wasn't hung properly and the gasket was irregular and not fitting right.  And the motor had burnt up most of the way and it was a good thing I unplugged it when I did.

So now it is going to take a while for the parts and they will be back on November 4th with a new freezer door and a new motor and hopefully then we will be back up and running with a little over a month of warranty left.  So while they didn't quite run out the warranty, it was close.  I mean, we still would have gotten it fixed as they started the ticket before it expired, but this took forever and I am quite frustrated by the sheer idiocy of the whole mess.  I am also frustrated over how much we had to do, instead of Frigidaire just calling them the first time and getting the mistake corrected, we had to do all the work of calling back and forth between the two places.

But I won't believe it is over until the freezer runs again.

On the bright side, the lady who raises pigs, pushed our butcher date out until November 12th instead of October 12th, which should give us enough time to see whether the repaired freezer is working.  She said if we have to we can push out to the December 12th date.  She sends hogs to butcher every month and what isn't bought by regular people is sold to stores.  And we can keep pushing it if it turns out the repairs don't work and we end up buying a new freezer, even if that means the end of next summer or something after we save up again.  She's very good to work with.

I hope we can get it for the 11/12 butcher date, though.  I will feel a lot better with both a steer and a hog in the freezers and I can work on buying organic chicken for whatever space is left.

I had $175 left in the grocery envelope due to having to not buy any beef anymore, so I added that to the Hog/Chicken Fund.

$1013.00 Starting Balance

+_175.00 Amount Added

---------------------

$1188.00 New Balance

And once we have all of the pork and chicken in the freezer I will start saving up for both a lamb and the next steer with leftover grocery money.  It will be nice not to have to go down the meat section at the grocery store anymore.  Doing it this way really works for us.  We have better quality meat at lower than grocery store prices, especially beef.  $4.50 a pound for grassfed ribeye steak is looking very good right now.

I am also thinking about buying some emu steaks.  We've had ostrich, but never emu.  They are supposed to taste very similar, but emu is half the price of ostritch.  We like ostritch but don't consider it affordable.  We've found a place that ships it, but with shipping delays they say it could be partially thawed by the time it arrives, since they are way across the country and freezer packs or dry ice only last so long.  I'm hoping to find some place closer.  We do have an emu farm in Oregon, but all they seem to sell is the oil, not the meat.  It's hard to internet search it when these two places seem to have all the results lead back to them.

If I do order I want to make a smaller order to make sure we all like it.  Smaller orders are harder because they thaw out faster.  Larger orders have a lot of frozen meat to help keep the bulk of it frozen longer.  We'll see.  I think that's for something down the road, maybe when the shipping gets back to normal.  We will see.

 

Garden Work

June 2nd, 2021 at 10:58 pm

We finished building the second 21 foot long raised bed on the weekend and worked on getting it filled up on Monday.  We let it settle and my intention was to plant it on Tuesday, but it was 86 degrees for most of the day.  It finally cooled off enough to be outside around 8:30.  DS and I transplanted the onions out of the totes I was growing them in.  I gave them a deep watering and will water again tonight.  We did get the rest of the blackberries planted, too.

By the time we were done moving the onions the sun was almost down, so I didn't get to plant any seeds.  It is hot again today, but not nearly as awful, so I will go out after dinner and plant seeds for carrots, radishes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.  I am only going to do one row of cauliflower.  Last year was the first time I was able to successfully grow it and I'm still a little hesitant to plant more after years of failures.  Since I only have the two beds for now, I'd rather not risk much.

DH isn't going to have time to work on the third bed for probably a couple of weeks.  He's got a lot of overtime planned.  The next paycheck should be a very good one.  I can plant more broccoli and perhaps cauliflower then for the freezer.  And I'll sow more carrots for canning.

We've been picking strawberries for a week now.  There hasn't been much, enough for everyone to have one every other day, but a lot are ripening.  They are very good berries.

I still have to plant the sweet potatoes.  I got a 90 day variety called Beuregard.  I have the slips in water in a window.  I am going to grow them in big round totes, with trellising for the vines to grow up.  I'll put the totes on black plastic, because I don't want the runners escaping out of the tote and going into the ground.  The whole point of growing this way is to avoid digging in the ground.  We'll set the totes up where the fourth bed will go.  That way we can build the bed around it and next year have a fourth one ready to go.  As well as a fifth and sixth one.

Next year we'll really be able to grow a lot of food.  This year it will mostly be eating fresh from the garden with some to can and freeze, but not enough.  Still, it should lower food costs July through April and that money can go to save for pork and chicken bulk purchases.  And I should have harvestable lettuce in a couple of weeks and radishes in 3 to 4.  It will be nice when I can just cut the grocery budget in half for most of the summer.

Emergency Fund Update and Beef Fund Almost Met

May 14th, 2021 at 06:43 pm

$15,880.55 Starting Balance

+__,244.67 Amount Added

---------------------------

$16,125.22 New Balance

That means I have $6,107.64 left to save to hit 6 months of expenses, which is my next goal.  That will put the EF at $22,232.86.  I'd like to make that by year's end, but I think it is going to be closer to February unless DH gets quite a bit of overtime or a really good Christmas bonus.

Ultimately, though, I have a goal of 6 month's take home pay, not just 6 month's expenses.  That would be a little over $36,000, which is an additional $13,767.14.  That's likely take an additional 18 months, so around 2 years and 2 months from now I should hit that, barring OT or raises.  Raises are unlikely as they have a wage freeze going on at DH's work.  He hasn't gotten one in over 2 years.  Normally this is a place that gives yearly merit raises, but Covid hit hard.  It could be another year before they unfreeze wages.  They have started to rehire some of the people that were laid off, so that is promising.

I am $31 short of the highest estimate on the beef costs, based on a 750 to 850 pound hanging weight.  With the $2000 I had set aside previously added to the money I've been scrimping out of the grocery budget I am almost there.  I need $3638 total and after the $179 I saved out of the last grocery envelope, I am at $3607.  And from my experience, farmer's always estimate high, but the hanging weight actually tends to be lower.  So it is more likely it will be closer to 750 pounds than 850 pounds.  I've also reserved my beef.  I am getting a whole with a butcher date of either late July or early August (he's got two dates for two different sets of steers).

Planning for April

March 20th, 2021 at 11:28 pm

I just spent about a half an hour setting up April's budget spreadsheet.  It is a 3 paycheck month which means there will be some extra money and I wanted to make sure I had everything allotted for.  I'll be using the extra to put $400 into the Clothing Fund, $400 into the Gift/Christmas Fund, and $546.87 into the Emergency Fund.  The rest will be grocery, medical, household, gas money, and allowances.

The first paycheck in May will be on the 14th and no bills are due until the 21st, so I get to shift some things that were previously coming out of the last paycheck of the month to the first paycheck of the month.  My budget is a living document, constantly shifting, since I budget for the month but we get paid every two weeks.

DH did manage to get his hours in this week even though things were not up and running until Friday.  I don't remember if I mentioned it here or not, but his work got hacked and infected so they couldn't be online for many days.  He did what he could at home and saving to his hard drive, but last week had to take a vacation day.  This week he didn't.

Since it is working now, he is working the weekend and is authorized for ten hours of OT this week, which will be nice on the next paycheck.  If I did the math right it should be around $1017 extra.  But I might not have it quite right due to taxes.  Anyway, we will pay for 3 fishing and shellfish licenses and with what is left at least half of that will hit the Emergency Fund and then half will go into the Beef Fund, which should put us at enough to buy a full grassfed beef and start saving towards a pasture raised lamb.  Not sure about pork.  It hasn't set well with me this year unless it was bacon, ham, pepperoni, or sausage.

I finally got my new social security card last month so I can now get my fishing license this year.  It's a mess, because when I first got a license in the 90's they wrote down the social security number wrong.  So when I went to apply for a license two years ago I couldn't get one without my social security card which I had misplaced somewhere in the house years ago.

I wasn't doing that great that year so just decided to deal with it before the next season.  Well, that was 2020 and social security was closed for a good portion of 2020.  You just couldn't apply for a new card.  Then I finally applied for a card at the end of summer when they reopened and waited the six weeks and it never came.  Turned out they never sent it.  But they closed down again for some particularly bad covid weeks.  And of course once it was working, you can't apply during non business hours, which is so bizarre, so I didn't think about it at the right time of day.  Once I could apply again and remembered at the right time of day, I did and the card finally came in February.  So now I can get the darn fishing license.  What a pain that has been, just because some person transposed one digit on my 90's application.

I want to fill the mini-freezer with spot prawns, crab, salmon, trout, and cod.  With 3 of us fishing that should happen a lot faster.  At least if stuff goes as well as usual.  The guy who takes us out on the boat is DH's boss.  I am going to have him teach me how to gut a fish.  It's a skill I would like to learn.  He always does it, but I want to know in case we ever go fishing without him in the future.  That and how to remove the gills.  I've watched videos, but I think in person is always better.  DS said he will teach me how to fillet.  I've filleted chicken breast off the bone, but never fish.  DH isn't good at it, so I will definitely take DS up on his offer.

Planning out my Yearly Food Needs to Lower the Grocery Budget

February 10th, 2021 at 04:13 am

Every year I make up a food preservation plan, which is an overarching pantry plan, really.  I keep the previous year's plans so I can see what I planned before, what I actually achieved, and what I might want to do more or less of.  This includes a canning plan, a dehydrating plan, a freezer plan, and a long-term staples plan.  It's really quite in depth and when I make them up, I feel like I've got a really good handle on things for the coming year.

This year I will need to fill 1,316 jars, 626 quart jars, 28 pint and a half jars, 573 pint jars, and 89 pint and a half jars.  I have around 750 reusable canning lids, but will need to buy more and maybe some metal ones if I can find them.  I prefer metal ones for waterbath canning, but reusable for pressure canning.  They are supposed to be back in stock now, but there was huge shortage during 2020 due to people growing and canning a lot more food because they were worried about food shortages.  I think I have enough jars, but if I need to, I can store the culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and teas I grow in take out soup containers or spaghetti sauce jars.

Knowing how much I want to do, helps me to plan how much of what I am going to plant in the garden, how much freezer space I will need, and how many mylar bags and food grade buckets I need to have on hand, and of course the aforementioned jars and lids.

All of this, if I can achieve it, should cut our grocery spending by half.  That is assuming a good growing season and a good harvest year.  It is worth it to me even though it is a lot of work.  When you have to eat gluten free and you don't want a ton of processed food in your diet, and you prefer organic, you have to find other ways of doing things so you can actually afford all that.

In my case, it turns me into a prepper, at least with food.  Not a crazy one, mind you, but like what our grandparents and great grandparents did, because they had to.  I will be most comfortable, especially in these days of pandemic, to have a year's supply on hand.  That is my ultimate goal.  We have been building it back since the year we had to use it almost all up when DH was unemployed for 10 months.

Anyway, if you would like to see my 2021 Food Preservation Plan I made a video of it. 

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDcIjsSbTI and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDcIjsSbTI  Maybe it will be helpful to anyone else who wants to build their own plan.  Mine is for a family of four adults.

 

Putting Food Up and Searching for a Freezer

December 3rd, 2020 at 06:37 am

Yesterday Mom and I did a bunch of canning.  I did the peeling and chopping while she ran the canner.  I did 20 pounds of potatoes and then the carrots were 12 pounds.  I ended up with 14 quarts of Yukon gold potatoes and 23 pints of carrots.  This is a good time of year to do both as the deer carrots are available readily and cheap and of course the potatoes tend to be on sale through the holidays.  So it is definitley eating sale priced (or home grown) food all year when I can do this.  It saves us money in the long run.

I was sore and exhausted today and slept in until eleven and then just stayed in bed until 3.  Once I finally dragged myself out of bed I was still sore, but semi-functional.  It'll probably be a week before I can anything else, but they sure do look pretty on the shelf.  And it is peace of mind, beause it means we won't have to venture into stores at all for the next few months if things get really, really bad again.  We might, especially if there is a really good sale, but we don't have to.

This evening we went to look at freezers at Lowe's but the one they said they had online they did not have in the store.  Of course you had to go to the store to buy it, you couldn't just get it online, it was an in store only sale.  We will check another place tomorrow night, an actual local appliance store.  I have $900 saved and if I have to borrow a couple hundred from the propane grill envelope, I will.  It's not like we'll be making that purchase before spring, probably anyway.

We did stock up on some OTC medicines and I bought a new cane, but that came out of the medical fund.  We also picked up a prescription.

Then when we came home I washed up all the jars of food I canned yesterday to take off any sticky residue.  Sometimes the jars will siphon during the canning process and you don't want to put them in storage that way.  DS dried all the jars as I washed them and that was a great help.  Then I labelled them all and he put them away for me.  So most of the day was unproductive, but not all of it.  I'm sure I will feel more functional tomorrow.

Got Some More Potatoes Dug

October 11th, 2020 at 07:19 am

We harvested two more rows of potatoes and got 22.6 pounds of mostly gold potatoes. Organic gold potatoes go for $1.79 a pound right now, so that is $39.38 worth of potatoes. Two rows took 9 seed potatoes cut in thirds. There were about five reds in there. The golds were a lot bigger than the reds were last harvest.

We have 7 more rows to do and I am hoping we will be able to get a couple more rows dug tomorrow. It depends on the weather. It takes 15 pounds to do a canner load of potatoes. Technically it is two pounds per quart, but by the time you peel everything and cut away any spots you've lost about a pound, so I always plan 15 pounds.

These rows got more water than the initial 3 rows, so I think that is why we got so much more from them. As we continue to go on they got even more water, due to sprinkler reach. Next year I am going to make sure I have a sprinkler directly in our potato patch. It needs to be watered at least once, if not twice a week, and more evenly.

I am just really happy I did so well on Trader Joe potatoes and not even seed potatoes. Next year we will get seed potatoes for sure, though. I am not playing any late garden games. It will be ready early no matter what the excuses are from the men folk about weeding and preparing the ground. If I can do it with my chronic diseases, then they can do it without having any of them and work right by my side. To be fair, DS did help in the beginning, but I had to bribe him, so there's that.

We still may be having food shortages next year, so we will be more prepared than ever as we go through 2021. It might be worse than this year and I am determined to keep my family fed if this virus continues keeping so much of the economy closed.

Getting Ready for My Sister to Move in

October 10th, 2020 at 12:28 am

My plan for the weekend is to get the rest of the potatoes dug, so I can get them curing for 3 weeks so we can bag them up and store them in the basement. We also need to move the piano from the great room to the living room. My sister will be moving into the great room soon. She's not going to have an easy time of living here. There won't be any privacy for her and Mom is already making things difficult, not wanting to give up an inch more of space than she has to. She's always been kind of stingy with space, like that. It took us years to actually have full use of the cabinets in our own kitchen.

Mom is a bit of a pack rat. She holds onto things well past when she should. She still has a lot of my dad's clothes and he's been dead for years. She's also been hanging onto my Dad's dresser. Not because she needs it, it is empty, but because it was his. It takes up a lot of space, though. I get that it holds sentimental value, I suppose, but its been like 10 years. She won't let anyone refurbish it and use it, either. It's a nice, solid wood dresser, but it is very dark. We would have liked to have stripped it and done a nice pine colored varnish or a pretty paint or something and actually used it, but she's a little irrational about that idea. Bringing it into this century would make it useful.

She also needs to get rid of some books that were Dad's, but won't. He read a lot of westerns. Mom doesn't read westerns and no one else does either. Mom doesn't really read much at all. She still has all of her books from college, which she went to in the 60's. I don't even have all my books from college. I kept the history book. She says she'll never read any of them again, but she doesn't want to give them away.

She also has a bunch of dresses from the 80's she doesn't want to part with. Like ten of them. She'd have to lose 100 pounds to wear them again, which is never going to happen, the woman lives on carbs and won't touch most vegetables, but she is keeping them because she might lose the weight. At 81, I don't see that as happening. And yet she goes on to complain that she doesn't have enough space in her closet. She has two closets, plus one in the upstairs full of useless clothes.

She's said over and over she doesn't want to leave a bunch of stuff in the house for us to have to deal with when she dies, but then she holds onto it with a vice grip. It's weird and maybe a mental issue. I figure there will just be a lot we have to deal with when the time comes.

There has not been much going on in the financial realm for me this week. It's been 7 days since the last time I spent any money. I've been working on the pantry, or rather, on filling it. There was a great sale last Friday on chuck roast, so I canned 10 quarts of chuck roast and 2 pints of chuck roast. And I helped Mom with 9 pints of chuck roast for herself. Meat takes a long time, so there is a lot of baby-sitting the canner involved. It's about half an hour waiting for it to vent, 10 minutes venting time, 5 to pressurize, 90 cooking time, and then a half hour to come down from pressure, and 10 minutes with the lid cracked to equalize to room temperature before taking them out. A regular canner will hold 7 quarts or 8 wide mouth pints or 9 narrow mouth pints. So it was a lot of work and wait time. And that doesn't even include the amount of time to cut all the meat up.

There is a new sale on chuck roast at a different store this week, so I will break my no spend streak and pick up some more roasts. Depending on the limit, I'd like to get at least 4 for a canner load, or 8 if they will let me for a double canner load. Fred Meyer didn't have any limits, but Safeway usually does. Right now I have sixteen jars on the shelf, but I would like to double that before winter hits. I also want to do at least another 14 jars of chicken.

Today, however, I have to do tomatoes. I cut them up last night, so all I need to do today is heat them, fill the jars, and get on with it. Tomatoes are quick in the pressure canner, just 25 minutes for pints (plus all the wait time at the beginning), so they are not a several hour process.

I also think I have enough green beans for 4 pints, so will hopefully get that done tomorrow. There might be enough still in the garden to pick more. We have gotten nowhere near a frost yet and they will keep producing right up until. If we are lucky we will have a late frost. Generally it is on Halloween, but there have been years we didn't get one until Thanksgiving. The tomatoes have slowed way down, though, because the nights have been in the 50's and they don't like that. I am tempted to just go strip them and let them ripen in the house, so I can be done with that part of the garden.

It has definitely turned into sweater weather here. Long pants and socks, too. So far we have not turned on the heater or the heated blankets, but I have added a second blanket to the bed. It is also getting to the point where I have to wear my hair down and not up or the back of my neck and shoulders is goosebumpy. The leaves are turning and we have some really pretty yellow ones going on right now. The red and orange ones usually take longer to show. The roses are still blooming, though. It is very pretty. Stew weather is here. I think that's what I'll make for dinner tonight.

Very Busy Canning Food

September 30th, 2020 at 05:34 am

It's been a busy last couple of weeks. In that time we have installed a 16 foot handicapped ramp, gotten a new mattress for my son, visited an orchard, and I have been super busy canning. I now have 95 quarts of regular cut green beans on my shelves. My goal is 104, so I am just 9 shy. That gives us two quarts of green beans to eat per week for the entire year. I am thrilled to meet that goal.

I have also put up 6 quarts of chicken thighs, 3 quarts of chuck roast, 1 pint and a half jar of chuck roast, and then 8 pint and a half jars, 1 quart, and 3 pints of chicken bone broth. I like to have the broth in different sizes based on what I am making. If I am doing enchilada sauce or penne in the Instant pot I need 3 cups (pint and a half) of broth. If I am making soup I need two quarts, if someone just wants to drink broth they can open a pint jar. So I always can a variety of broth.

It is time to pick the green beans again and I am hoping for enough to get my nine jars. I also need to pick tomatoes. I think I will have enough tomatoes to double stack the big canner. I will be doing diced tomatoes in pints and green beans in quarts.

We still have to dig up potatoes. We have only done the 3 rows so far. Then we had smoke, then we had rain, and now my son is sick, so it has been hard to get it done. Hopefully he will start feeling better in the next few days. I'd like to get some potatoes canned. 104 jars to be exact. Canned potatoes are great for beef stew, chicken stew, curry, and making fried potatoes.

I am hoping there will be a good chuck roast sale and another good chicken sale coming up. I haven't had a chance to look at the ads yet. I'd like to get a lot more of those canned. I feel an urgency to be prepared for the upcoming cold/flu/Covid season in case we get locked down again. If we shut down I just want to be able to stay home. Which reminds me, I need to start a new batch of lettuce in the Aerogarden, then we don't even have to go out for greens. The chard at least should overwinter.

The cucumbers are done, but we are still getting strawberries (everbearing) and raspberries. The garden has done well this year, despite the deer and the rabbits. Not to thrilled with the raccoons eating some of the corn, though.

Well, back to the grind. The canner should be down from pressure by now.

Orchard Visit and Harvesting in the Garden

September 21st, 2020 at 07:39 am

The air quality is back to normal here as of yesterday and thank goodness. We still have the new air purifier going because the house still feels a little smokey, even after cleaning the duct work and the furnace filters (has a cooling function, but not air conditioning). It is working really well. We got a Japanese made Zigma, which can do 1580 square feet. It's very quiet and it is doing its job well. After 3 days, I think we will be able to turn it off tomorrow.

Yesterday we went out to a U-pick apple orchard, but we didn't actually U-pick. The apples we wanted that are ripe right now were Tsugaru and those ones are 3/4 of a mile from the parking lot. Honeycrisp was also available for U-pick and those ones are a 1/2 mile walk. Now they do have a tractor train, but because of social distancing they only fill every other car and only one family group per car. The line to wait would have been an hour.

Instead we paid the extra 10 cents a pound and walked out with 11.7 pounds of Tsugarus (my favorite apple) for fresh eating for us and 7 pounds for Mom. I spent $33.17 and Mom spent $20 even. She didn't go, we just got them for her. I did break my gluten free thing for the fresh apple cider doughnuts. They weren't as good as I remembered and I'm swollen today, so that wasn't worth it.

We picked corn and beans today and yesterday. We got 31 ears, five of which we gave to Mom. There was probably a canner load of green beans. I'll be canning tomorrow. Tomatoes, too, since I have a ton of ripe ones in the house. Raccoons had gotten into the corn, because some of the stalks were pulled back and partially eaten. There isn't any more mature corn out there and I don't know if we'll get the rest or not as it may be too hard to keep the raccoons out now that they have found it.

We'll be eating corn this week quite a bit and I'll freeze a few ears. I don't know if I want to bother with corn next year. I know my mom does, she wants more than we planted this year, but she didn't really help with the garden much this year at all. Maybe two hours total of helping to weed and get stuff in the ground.

Preparing the ground for corn is not on my priority list and is a job that requires my son and I to do most of the work. He is likely to have a job next spring and I don't want to do it myself. I'd rather give it to things that will last all winter, like potatoes, carrots, onions, and green beans (canned). We never plant enough corn to can it and if we did we wouldn't be able to plant anything else. Mom is really good at planning work for other people to do.

We had to buy a hand rail for the inside steps where we are going to be putting a ramp. They are so expensive, it is ridiculous. But trying to design one was driving DH insane so I just said to go ahead and order one. It will be easy to install and it will be done. That was $335.71.

As to things that are completely irrelevant to my life and finances, I finally got around to watching the first episode of the new season of Dancing with the Stars on Hulu, my one reality show. My favorite pairings are Nev Shulman and Jenna, Justina Machado and Sasha, and Jennie Mai and Brandon. Justina's personality is so much fun and she moves really, really well. Nev seemed like a natural. I thought Vernon (the football player) and Peta Murgatroyd had a very good chemistry and balance between them and he had some natural grace..

The basketball player was, as they usually are, awkward on the dance floor, and too, too tall for a natural posture with his dance partner. They had the best costumes, though. The ice skater, Johnny Weir was a natural, but I always feel skaters have an unfair advantage. He's a little untrusting of having a partner since he is a singles skater. You can see it and feel it, but once that has passed I think he has a real chance to win. The others were good but didn't stand out to me.

There was a lot of good potential with most pairings, but the cat lady needs to go. She got the lowest score so she likely will. It was weird not having a real audience and to see the judges so far apart from each other. I was very pleased to see Britt had made it out of the troupe and into being a pro. I've noticed her in the troupe the last few years and was hoping she'd get the promotion at some point. Her smile always seemed the biggest, she was the most energetic and enthusiastic, and I don't think I've ever seen a black female pro in competition on this show before, just males like Brandon and Keo, both two of my favorite dancers.

I wish Whitney and Lindsay were still on, but they are both Australian so may have had issues with travel like Len, who isn't judging, but will pop on via satellite a few times, it looks like. I am still ticked that Tom Bergeron is gone, but I haven't liked a female host since Brooke so I wasn't sorry to see Erin go. Tyra Banks does not seem at ease with the role of host, a little like she is trying too hard to be liked. I hope she settles down into a more comfortable rapport with everyone. It might have been a lack of audience. She just seemed really nervous. Hopefully she will get over that in the next couple of weeks.

It was a great episode, though, and a nice bit of escapism. I am surprised they let them make it though, with the Covid restrictions, because no one is wearing masks and the partners can't social distance from each other obviously. It's nice to see it, though.

Sore Knee is Getting Sorer

September 4th, 2020 at 06:10 am

I canned 10 more quarts of green beans yesterday, bringing the total count to 29. A deer got in the garden and ate a lot of the middle sections of beans and I am not sure if that part will grow back now that we've fixed the fence. It has caused a rush of growth at the top as the plants try to make up for the loss of leaves, so maybe it'll just get really full of beans up there where the stupid dear can't reach. It doesn't eat the vines, thankfully, so the plants are still alive.

I may have to buy some beans if I want to have enough canned for the year. I had really hoped not to have that happen, but I want to can 104 jars. I should have been able to with what I planted. I sure wish I could put that deer in my freezer to make up for what it has stolen from me. I am just glad they don't like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Maybe someone will trade me beans for cucumbers.

My knee was so bad today I didn't do anything but stay in bed and keep it elevated. I was pretty wiped out from snapping beans and canning them yesterday anyway. It doesn't seem like it should, but when when you've got two autoimmune diseases, it takes its tole on your body. Tomorrow is payday and shopping day, so I am glad I took the day to rest. I think I will have to use the ride on carts, though. I try not to unless I absolutely have to, but I'm not sure my knee can handle one store, even with the shopping cart for support.

I'll be through my antibiotics by Monday and they should let me come in for an in person visit on Tuesday at that point. If I can just get the fluid drained and maybe a cortisone shot I think I can manage. Unless I did tear something. If it gets any worse over the weekend, I'll just go to the hospital. Our out of pocket max is met, so it won't cost us anything to do that.

We've gained over $500 in the stock market in six days. It's been a crazy week.