The County Fair

Well, I finally did it.  I entered two things into our county fair:  an Aran sweater I knit for my husband, and a pair of dress socks also knit for him. We’ll see how I do.

I did see many many crocheted blankets, needlepoint and embroidery, and three skeins of hand spun yarn.  Lots of canned goods entered.

I’m very nervous!  I have dreams of a custom knitting business, but I’ve never sold anything nor have I ever entered anything in the fair before.

Availability of pharmaceuticals?

So, got a question for anybody who reads this blog…

I am hypothyroid, have been so for many years; it runs in my family.

Stoneleigh over at The Automatic Earth says that pharmaceuticals will be unavailable in probably 5 years, due to economic collapse and the lack of infrastructure to get meds, even were they made, to the places where they will be used.  That leaves me with about 3 years of living after I quit taking my thyroid meds going by my mother’s example.

What do you all suggest for avoiding my possibly premature death?  I’m not sure I can stockpile this, I get it directly from my doctor who gets it from Canada — which incidentally is the only place it’s made (Armour Thyroid, it’s not synthetic like Synthroid and contains both T3 and T4 unlike Synthroid).

Anybody ever heard of repairing a thyroid that’s gone kaput?

Independence Days

Plant:  nope

Harvest:  tomatoes, cucumbers, green and chile peppers, basil.

Preserve:  pesto.  Hatch chiles that were on a killer sale for 50 cents a pound.

Manage wastes:  well, I haven’t been very good at this one.  We’ve thrown away lots of leftovers recently.

Eat the food:  relish, sauerkraut, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, chiles, pesto, onions.

Build community food systems:  sold more eggs at work.  I need more chickens if that’s to be a viable side business, and nope I won’t be doing that.

I’ve been feeling the need to find land.  Here are my requirements:  at least two acres, with water rights, near a water source but above flood level, no more than an extra 30 min to my work.  Electricity is totally optional as I can work off of solar and wood.

I’m really bummed.  I bought a used drum carder thinking I was getting a good deal; I then had to purchase new carding cloth.  Now I have a drum carder I can’t seem to make work right because apparently I’ve put the cloth on the little wheel wrong.  This after about 5 hours of work between me and Mr. TF.   Why o why didn’t I just buy a new one????  Gah.

Two steps forward, four back.

D, my friend with the five acre farm, has had a very bad year.  She too has had a crappy garden; what the pesticide residues in the manure didn’t get the hailstorms did.  She has lost two Jersey cows this year as well as a merino sheep, and several baby goats, along with an entire crop of chicks, and her layers as well (these were picked off a few at a time from a predator, species unknown).  She has had several thousand dollars worth of vet bills, spent 4 months laid up with pneumonia and its extended recovery period, and her dad, who lives on the adjacent property, has had two open heart surgeries.  Their truck, which they depend on for hauling hay and livestock, is presently broken, for the third time; their Sidekick lost the engine while they were driving it.  Their well dried up and they were forced to haul water for several months in the hottest part of the year.

Now this would be tragic and frustrating if it had happened to me.  It would not however mean potential loss of home and hearth as I have a full time job to fall back on.  For her and her family however, this is a bad year of epic proportions.  They depend on the farm for their livelihood.  They eat what they put up; they eat the meat they raise; they sell extra goats that are necessarily produced in order to have milk and make cheese; they sell eggs and extra milk.  It has been a sobering lesson for me.  I grew up living on and near farms for most of my life; even when we lived in town we had an enormous garden outside of town that we tended, at least until my mom’s arthritis made it impossible for her to keep it up.  My dad and his wife still have a several acre garden that they keep as does my sister.  My uncle’s farm is long gone, tragically, since none of the children wanted it after he died.  So I’m familiar with the whole lifestyle of what D and her family live, in an indirect way.  With the exception of my uncle, who ran a dairy business in the days when the truck still drove to each small farm to pick up the milk in 5 gallon cans (and the cows were milked by hand), what none of my family have ever tried to do is to live solely on that farming lifestyle.  Now, D’s DH Mr. D runs his own business, but with the economy in the toilet business is slower than ever and with their truck out of commission, it’s impossible for him to drive to town for a job (and doesn’t really pay for itself in fuel costs anyway).  What if we had no fall back income?  This has been a really bad year for us in the garden, with about 40% of what I had hoped to get.  What if we depended on the garden truly, exclusively, for our food for the year?

We have been close to losing our house, back in the days when the economy was booming for seemingly everyone but us.  Thankfully we were able to work out a deal with the bank, caught up our arrears over a period of a few years, and are still here.  Now that the economy is in the toilet, we are (for the moment anyway) doing Ok, able to make our bills on one income with the second devoted to paying down debt and making our home more sustainable as a homestead in the long term.  Our own plans have taken a serious blow as Mr. TF’s own job was a recent casualty in the current cut-throat climate.  I cannot imagine having the economic problems topped by the farm problems, and the stress that must cause them.  And yet, this was reality for people in this nation during the Great Depression as well.  What happened to all those people who lost their farms?  How much lower can one go from subsistence farming and scraping by?  How many just died?  Who got all that acreage fallen fallow?

Is the lesson there to simply be stewards of someone else’s land then?  So that you can walk away without losing everything you own?  Or is the lesson to own your property outright, and always have money buried in the back yard, untouchable except for paying taxes in the bad years so you don’t lose your legacy to the children?  And how many bad years does it take to use up that buried cash?

Or maybe the problem is in the concept of money to begin with?  What if we were simply a barter based society?  Ok, now I’m getting into fantasy land here, but I think the question has some validity.  If money has a value that goes back to a commodity produced from the land (as all things do, if you trace them back far enough), then why have it as the intermediary at all?  After all, there were barter and trade routes all over the US for thousands of years before the concept of money arose; the trade routes extended from the tip of South America to the Arctic and most places in between.  But then, the public services would truly have to be public — meaning if you want the road repaired for example, you get out there with some of your neighbors and fix it yourselves, as do your further neighbors up the road, and so on.  That is after all how it was done for a very long time in many parts of the world.

Or maybe, it is the dissociation from true value that the concept of money causes.  I have always taught my children that money represents time.  It is time you spent out of you lifetime allotment, that you can never get back.  So spend your time wisely. I often have this same sort of conversation at work with my coworkers.  As little as I do toward canning, gardening, small livestock keeping, etc. they are amazed that I do it at all, and say they never could.  I always explain to them that they ARE.  They are using their time by buying their food at the grocery store.  I am using my time by doing it myself with the result that I get to spend more time AT HOME.  Not working overtime to pay for things.  It really seems to be a hard concept for most people to grasp.  The separation from what money represents, and how our daily bread is gotten to the table, and the fact that we take shortcuts by paying taxes for someone else to fix the roads (usually badly) rather than taking responsibility, doing it to the best of our abilities with our neighbors, is a nearly insurmountable problem.  It is the dissociation from HOW things work, in both the small and the large.  The loss of what money represents, in both commodity and in time, is a serious problem with no easy fixes.  It makes it easy for the costs of things to keep going up while the value of what we get keep going down.

We are really in trouble as a race.  And I, being unable to do anything to change that, am going to go out on my front deck and listen to the wind in the trees, enjoy the sunshine, and knit a baby bootee.

New baby bling

Baby bling

Baby bling

I’ve been working like a fiend on finishing the sweater for the new little one (who thankfully is not like her father and actually gets places early, apparently) along with a bonnet and booties.  I mean, like hours every day that I’m off, and even when I’m in class (I fall asleep if I sit more than about 15 min so it’s less disruptive to the class than pacing).   I still don’t have the booties done, but I do have the bonnet and sweater done.  Of course, she will SWIM in these, they’re six month sized and she was less than 7 at birth.  So why I thought it was so danged important to get done before she was born – which obviously didn’t happen – I really can’t tell you.

And I’m so fickle.  I sit and knit to my heart’s content for hours, and I still look longingly at my spinning wheel…fickle, fickle fiber fiend I am.  Although I have to admit,  it has been a fascinating exercise in construction techniques; the pattern dates from 1946.  Hard to believe the baby modeling it is now getting social security.

My son is looking forward to coming up to dye some hand spun superwash merino for his daughter with me; we are planning on using koolaid dye since it’s about as nontoxic as I can get.  He CAN knit but hasn’t for many years and won’t start again now, I’m afraid.  He does like the art part of it, and I think it will be a fun afternoon with the new little family (Mommy and Little One will come too, of course).

Independence Days Update

I’ve now lost track of which week this is, and we’re half way through another as well.

Planted:  nada.  I’m walking – no, running – down that road so nicely paved to *you know where* with *you know what* 🙂

Harvested:  Tomatoes.  Lots.  I’ve quit weighing, it was just too much to keep clearing more space for the new ones.  Cucumbers.  Lots.  I made a batch of relish which, since I only use single process organic cane sugar, is very dark brown.  I’m hoping it will impart an interesting taste to the relish, otherwise it will be a bust. Corn — dwarf varieties designed for the Midwest do not do well here.  I got about 3 cups of corn from about 20 ears; a lot of the ears weren’t fertilized (my fault, spacing too close) and of those that were, many were unusable because of some sort of fungus that took over.  Yuck.

Preserve:  relish, tomato sauce, Mr. Tin Foil made a two batches of salsa and I canned it so we have 6 pints of salsa.  That took up most of the tomatoes that were getting ready to rot, since my tomato saucer still is on back order. I guess I picked the wrong time of year to buy one!  Well, it will be here for next season.

Eat the food:  salads with eggs, veggies, the few zucchini I’ve gotten.  Cheese.

My satellite dish herb garden is doing fabulously well — the sage couldn’t survive the heat but the rosemary, Mexican sweet mace, oregano are all doing well, and the German thyme has come back really amazingly.  Now I have to figure out a way to make a little greenhouse cover for it so they all will overwinter.  I had planned on drying a bunch but they are all so healthy that even taking some for dinner just makes them grow faster it seems.

It’s time to make more pesto with the basil interplanted with the tomatoes as well.  And I think I may have late blight in my tomatoes.  I don’t know what it looks like, and I’m still getting great tomatoes from plants that look mostly dead, but they DO look pretty awful.

We have had somewhat of a break from the heat and all the tomato plants that survived the heat are blooming and fruiting again, as are the pepper plants.  I have 4 green chile plants that I keep thinking are going to kick off but when I went out this morning to harvest they had new leaves and new blooms – go figure.  The will to live is strong in them, Grasshopper…

The pickling cucumbers are really a total bust.  I won’t be planting any of them next year.  And my zucchini are a bust too, not sure why.  I really think that the composted manure I bought has a lot to do with it — that pesticide residue is very much more prevalent than it has been let on, I think.

I have a volunteer tomato plant that is about 2 feet tall under my front deck, no fruit yet but it has blossoms.  Planting beans out there was not a good idea though…they blossom but they don’t fruit, and then they die.  The pesticide thing again I’m thinking — they look exactly like the pictures of affected beans.

Building community systems:  Working on it.  Mr. Tin Foil has convinced me to get my ham radio license; the net around here is very active and there is also a net for emergency response that checks in once a week.  They do drills and stuff, and are involved in planning so they are the people I want to hook up with.  He has gone to a couple of coffee meetings with the group members of the regular net (although there’s a lot of overlap) and has really enjoyed himself.  We got to share eggs and home made feta with a few, so the base is there and the group are receptive to the idea of home made — and one of the members just got a compost bin and is very excited about starting a garden next year.  Mr. Tin Foil offered help with getting the mix right if he needs it (I know it took me going to a compost class to actually get it right).

Other than the new baby, and the following gratuitous picture of the new little one with grandma’s first present, a knitted crab, nothing much going on.  I’m moving to days which means that I’ll be taking a rather painful pay cut, but I need to move.  I need to get back on a schedule with my work life that is somewhat the same as my real life.

'Crabby' baby

'Crabby' baby

That’s it for me for now.  Have a lovely and productive day all.

Welcome little one!

This is my new grandbaby.  She was born at 456pm yesterday.  Daddy says she’s smaller than a family sized bag of chips.  Which she is, actually. Mom is holding up extremely well and looks good.  Dad is exhausted but happy, and amazed that he is a dad.

My charge nurse arranged for me to leave work early so I could go to be with the family during the labor but I was too late, she was born already.  I still was ecstatic to be able to see her; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to visit until they came home which is supposed to be tomorrow.

Here’s to life in the midst of economic meltdown.

Nail biting time

Well, I posted a new blog post for Independence days but it seems to have disappeared into the ether…

My son and his SO are at the hospital today.  She lost her mucus plug at about 3 am, and her water broke a little while later.  They’re both pacing the labor ward at a local hospital…and I can’t be there because I’m scheduled to work and can’t call off.

And it’s raining.  Except for the fact that I’ll be at work, it’s gonna be a good day.