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Jun. 10th, 2008

Hunter's Sunrise


How to butcher a chicken.

This looks like it might be quite the useful resource.

Jun. 4th, 2008

Hunter's Sunrise


Let's talk gardens!

(crossposted from waltons_tech)

This is my second year vegetable gardening. I had a surprisingly successful first garden last year, and had a wonderful time with it too, so this year's garden is going to be an expansion in terms of both size and crops. I had a very busy spring at work, and from a gardening perspective have missed the past couple of weekends where I could have been planting. And it's been a cool wet spring. So I have been angsting rather badly over being behind in my planting, since we have a shortish growing season here in Ontario. This turns out to have been a blessing in disguise, as we got a fairly heavy hailstorm two days ago. My brother's garden got pasted with centimeter-plus sized hailstones, and a lot of it was damaged. So it looked like I dodged a bullet there.

My garden consistes of two plots; a six-metre round plot where an aboveground pool used to be, and a somewhat larger rectangular plot. They're on a south-facing hillside. The rectangular plot has nice dark brown soil, with a lot of rocks in it, and the soil in the round plot is sandier, with a bit at one end that's got some clay. And, of course, lots of rocks left behind by the glaciers at the end of the last ice age. I've been amending that plot with topsoil, both bagged and stuff shaken loose from turves I cut expanding the other plot, and I think that in a couple of years it'll be up to par. I've been expanding the rectangular plot towards the round one, and eventually hope to merge them, although that's going to take a few more years.

I haven't used any pesticides or fertilizers yet; I want to keep things as organic as possible. I live across the road from a farmer, and so I have a ready source of manure close at hand; I might buy a few loads of it and till it in this fall.

In the round plot, I have spinach (Olympia), potatoes (Idaho, and a couple of heritage strains, one blue, one yellow), beets (Detroit Dark Red), onions (Spanish and Dutch), carrots (Nantes), and radishes (Easter Egg II, with some Hailstones slated to go in once the first lot of Easter Eggs are harvested).

In the rectangular plot, I have peas (Homesteader and Snow), chives (they were there when I moved in so I have no idea as to variety), corn (Peaches and Cream, about twice as much as I planted last year, because last year it lasted only two barbeques), broccoli, beans (Pencil Pod and Stringless Green), some ex-peppers (Golden Calwonders, which seem to have died a miserable death since I transplanted them), lettuce (Buttercrunch, Grand Rapids, and Paris White Cos), arugula, and some Swiss chard.

Still to be planted/transplanted: tomates (Brandywines), cherry tomatoes (Sweetie), zucchini, winter squash (yet to be procured) and more beans. I'm going to be planting the more beans and winter squash around the corn once it starts emerging, in a Three Sisters arrangement. The zukes are going to go in where the peppers were.

I've got some herbs (basil, lemon basil, sage, thyme, catnip, and some tobacco, plus some other stuff that I forget) going as well, which will be moved into containers once I get the rest of the veggies in (which hopefully will happen this weekend).

So what about your gardens?


Going organic without breaking the bank

We'd all like to do what we can for the environment by buying organic food and products whenever possible, the problem often being that the organic version of something is considerably more expensive than its "regular" counterpart. With food and energy prices going up we start to begrudge the extra dollar on the bottle of organic ketchup, or paying twice the price for phosphate-free laundry detergent. Here's some strategies I've come up with to buy more organic produce & products without stretching the budget to the breaking point:

1. Amortize over time: If your grocery budget is really tight, pick a product or food that you use sparingly - something that a single bottle or package of lasts 3 months or more, and choose to buy an organic brand of that. Since the package lasts a long time, your only spending a few cents a week more than you would on the non-organic version, even if it's considerably more expensive. For instance: I use two tablespoons of sunflower (or canola) oil per week in the weekly batch of muffins I bake. This means that a 500ml bottle lasts three months. The organic bottle costs about $6.50; which is very expensive for a 500ml bottle of oil. The cheapest oil I could buy would cost $7 for 3L, and the one I would probably buy if I wasn't buying organic costs approx. $4 per liter - so let's take that price $6.50 - $4.00 = $2.50, amortized over 3 months comes out to $0.83 more per month for the organic oil. It doesn't seem so expensive any more.

2. Set a budget: Decide on a budget for organic food - treat it like a regular charitable donation to the health of the planet (and your own health, and the health of the farm workers, etc.) For example: say you decide you can afford to spend $20 extra per month on organic food. Find a food product that you buy regularly, preferably one that gives a lot of "bang" for your organic buck. For example, 2L of regular milk costs $3.20, and 2L of organic milk costs $5.00, a difference of $1.80 so for your $20, you could get 11 2L cartons of organic milk per month.

3. Mitigate the environmental damage: Some things are going to cause a lot of environmental damage no matter what - things that can't be grown (or simply aren't grown) in our climate, for instance such as cocoa beans for chocolate, coffee, tea, and some spices, all carry the weight of the fuel burned in their transport halfway around the world. Buying organic, fair trade versions of these products means that despite the fact that they are transported thousands of km to the grocery store shelf, at least the workers who grew and picked them were paid a fair wage and their environment is being protected by your purchase. Choosing locally-grown "regular" produce rather than organic produce transported thousands of km, but organic versions of things that can't be grown locally is another way to achieve a balance.

May. 30th, 2008

Hunter's Sunrise


Community of interest


May. 17th, 2008

News Flash!


Emergency Preparedness Week (only a week or so late...)

Emergency Preparedness Week went by recently in Canada, and I realized that it hadn't been posted here.

The Government of Canada has an informative website here: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/index_e.asp

It's aimed at Joe- and Jane-Average, but has some good templates for creating an emergency plan for your family (including a handy downloadable .pdf form), and instructions for making your own emergency kits. Lots of good tips about planning ahead for your pets in case you have to evacuate, and medical information. For instance, lots of people don't think about the fact that pharmacies won't be open during and often after emergencies in order to refill prescriptions.

Just some food for thought.

May. 16th, 2008

Hunter's Sunrise


The scary and the funny...

Last night, Jim Rawles SurvivalBlog linked to this article in the Telegraph titled The global slump of 2008-09 has begun as poison spreads. While it's notable in that it's a remarkably pessimistic article for the MSM, and you have to worry, or at least be mildly startled when the international business editor of a major UK paper starts singing the same song as the gun-toting, MRE-hoarding, fundamentalist right-wing psycho bunker-dwelling survivalist loon from Montana contingent.

However, the comments are occasionally hilarious, with one guy writing: "I was wondering where all the nutters would go, first after Y2K fizzled, then global warming began to chill. Now I see: they've become Depressniks."

Depressniks. I like the sound of that, and hereby propose that we add it to the jargon.

ETA: and if this graph doesn't make you wet your pants... I have no real understanding of what the implications are, but it sure looks terrifying.

May. 5th, 2008



Michael Pollan?

Has anyone read any books by Michael Pollan? It was The Omnivore's Dilemma that caught my attention, although The Botany of Desire, A Place of My Own, and Second Nature all sound interesting in different ways.

Apr. 28th, 2008




This is just a hello wave. I was pointed this way by fearsclave, and on his assurance that it's OK to participate in discussion I'm making myself known. I'm not in the geographical area set forth in the profile, but I know folks who are so we may end up in Vermont one day living with them or nearby. In the meantime, if it's acceptable to follow along and pipe up occassionaly I'll be riding along here with the rest of you. I see six folks already from my flist so we're not all complete strangers.

I grew up on a ten acre plot surrounded by larger farms. My formative years, from 8 to 18 were in the seventies, so I have experience with energy scarcity and adjustments to same. My bibles from 1970 on include all the Foxfire books, Seymour's Self Sufficiency, Malabar Farm and books along the same vein. I listened very carefully to the stories of my great grandparents about how life was from the late 1890's on, and learned much from my grandfather who always raised much of his own food even though he had a great job with East Ohio Gas. A legacy from starting a family during the Great Depression and WWII, but he always grew good food.

I'm fairly well invested in learning what I can and sharing what I know, with two parents in their seventies and two children five and two years old. There's a present and a future to live, I'd like to live it as well as we can, and bring along as many as we can. I appreciate the chance to meet you folks.




Somewhat On-Topic: Beltane Bake Day Announcement!

It has come to my attention here and elsewhere that there are a bunch of people around who like to bake. Breads, bread products, quick breads, yeast breads, sourdough, cakes, sweet loaves, more cakes, pies, tarts... you name it, someone bakes it. And every time we talk about it on-line, everyone else gets the baking bug.

So! On the heels of this realisation I have cobbled together a new holiday celebrating both the arrival of spring and the glory of baking! Ladies and gentlemen, I declare this coming May Day the first annual Beltane Bake Day!

Now technically speaking May Day, AKA Beltane (Beltaine, Bealtinne, Latha Bealltainn, Walpurgis Night, etc.) is the first of May, traditionally beginning at sundown on April 30 and carrying forward to sundown on May 1. This year it happens to fall on a Thursday, and so I am declaring the Beltane Bake Day a THREE-DAY HOLIDAY! Yes, it will begin on May 1 (however you want to determine when it begins) and end at midnight on May 3. This gives everyone a chance to bake with a relaxed schedule whether they work full-time outside the home or otherwise.

The rules:

1. Bake something.

2. Your baked item must be from scratch. No mixes, unless they are an ingredient in a multi-ingredient recipe. (Using a pudding mix in a cake recipe, for example. Not that we will have mixes once TEOTWAWKI has arrived.)

3. Brag about it in your on-line journal. This is your opportunity to wax poetic about your love of baking, and/or the specific product you have baked, and/or the process and your experience baking it. If it falls flat, share your woes with the rest of us and we will console you.

4. Brownie points to those who post a picture! (Seriously, what other kind of points belong in a baking holiday?) If you don't have a camera, describe it as best you can. Or borrow one from a friend, bribing them with a taste of your baked item!

5. Because bragging inevitably engenders envy, people will likely ask for your recipe, so you can post it as well. Unless it's a closely guarded secret, in which case you can gleefully withhold it and taunt us all.

That's all there is to it! This event is simply to give us all a reason to bake something and talk about it, sharing it in the only way we can with people scattered all over the continents. Your baked item can be as simple or as fancy as you like.

I propose that we use the original post over at my main Owls' Court non-LJ journal as a home base, so to speak: When you've participated and posted about it in your journal, leave a note there with a link to your post so others can find it. Feel free to repost the link to that original post in your own journals to share the event with as many people as you like.

You have three days in which to plot, plan, and prepare. Have fun!

(There's a redirection issue linking to the original post, so here's the URL to copy and paste into your browser: http://www.owldaughter.org/blog/?p=2145 )

[Cross-posted to my LJ (gasp) and recipe_trade.]

Apr. 25th, 2008



Planting plans

Traditionally in Montreal, you don't plant your tomatoes out until May 24th weekend. This is what my father taught me 30 years ago - but I think it's time to start taking climate change into account.

Some time struggling with the Environment Canada website yielded the following data:

Last Frost[*] for Montreal (McGill Weather Station):
2000: April 18
2001: April 19
2002: April 29
2003: April 25
2004: May 8
2005: May 12
2006: May 7
2007: April 17
2008: April 15 - assuming we don't get another frost; as the 10-day forecast would seem to indicate

So my planting plan is as follows: I'm going to take a good look at the short and long-range weather forecasts on May 6th, and assuming there's no frost predicted, put the tomatoes and squashes out on May 7th or 8th.

Everything that is more hardy than the tomatoes is either already in or going in this weekend.

[*] My definition of "Last Frost" is the last day on which there was a low colder than 1°C.

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