Tuesday, January 28, 2014

California Drought Impact?

Since I don't have (or want) a TV I don't know if the extreme drought in California has been covered by the main stream media. I know it's not being covered on the radio.  If it isn't then I will assume that most people don't know just exactly how bad  this impacts the entire country's food supply.
   The rising cost of groceries is starting to become alarming. I know we are feeling it here.  Things are getting really tight.  Our grocery money is buying less and less.  I'm struggling to admit it to myself but it won't be long before I'm going to have to budget more towards the grocery bill.  Even with growing our own vegetables and having the chickens and the rabbits  there are staples that have to be bought.  Things we aren't able to produce here on the homeplace  Things like coffee, tea, sugar, flour, butter and cooking oil are some of them. I'm sure you are feeling it too. 
   And that brings us to what is happening in California.  Just the other day Gov. Brown declared the state in an extreme drought.  My mom was telling me there has been hardly any snow where they are up in the northern part of the state either.  Not to mention the ongoing water right feuds.This is the worst drought that California has ever seen.

Here's a partial list of the percentage of our fruits and vegetables that come from California. Click here for a full list
Artichokes  99%
Broccoli  94%
Carrots  69%
Cauliflower   80%
Celery 95%
Garlic 95%
Head Lettuce 70%
Leaf Lettuce 85%
Romaine 79%

Spinach 73%
Avocados 90%
Lemons 86%
Peaches 84%
Strawberries 88%
Plums 97%

They also grow a healthy amount of melons. Did you know they produce half of the bell peppers in the US. One third of the fresh tomatoes and 95%  of the processed ones come from the state.

If those numbers don't tell you what we are in for in the coming year then I just don't know what to say.  If you think things are expensive now just give it a bit.  Add to that the price of meat.  Beef hit a 61 year low. That will push the beef prices even higher than they are now. 

 If there is any way that you can stock your pantry deep you'll be ahead of the game (for awhile at least)  Heck consider it an investment .  What you acquire today will most assuredly be worth more in the coming months.  Hedge your bets and hold onto your hat's folks.  It's going to be a wild ride.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Yeah, I Said That

I'm not sure how but somewhere along the way it seems that some people think that because I have a blog I somehow have an obligation to be "perfect".  80% of the things that I write about are things that are now or have been new to me. Things that I've read about or just decided to try. They don't make me some sort of know it all. If I come off that way it was never intended to be.  I'll be the first to tell you that I don't have all the answers. In fact, I have very few.  I'm just willing to try new things.  If they work they work.  If they don't I'll try to figure out how to make them work for me.  And if they still don't work I just chalk it up to experience.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I sometimes get comments from readers who are more than happy to jump in and try to shoot holes in the way I try things. Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against constructive criticism.  I'm more than happy to hear from folks who have suggestions as to how I could do things better.  I'm not perfect and neither are some of the methods I use from time to time.

I follow a ton of blogs and truly enjoy reading about folks adventures through this life.  I feel kind of blessed that all these folks are sharing their lives with me, a virtual stranger.  I also try to respect their "place".  If I were in their homes I would do the same.  And really, isn't blogging sort of like visiting an extension of  someones home?   I see comments around the blogosphere sometimes that make me just shake my head.  Would those same people use the same bad manners in a person's home?   These days probably so. Would I invite them back again?  Probably not.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Unblanched Frozen Green Beans +

This past summer wasn't a good year for my beans.  The green beans came in pretty much a "hand full" at a time.  I never did get enough at any one time to be able to put up a whole canner load.   I don't personally care for dried green beans so that was out.  The only other option I could think of was to go on and freeze them. (I try very hard to can or dehydrate our veggies just in case we ever loose power) There are all sorts of instructions on the web and most call for blanching the beans first. I did, however, find this great article about freezing green beans without blanching them.  I figured what the heck I wanted to try it.    What I did was simple enough. I trimmed the ends off the beans and "snapped" them. Then I just flash froze them and stuck them in a zip lock baggie when they were done.  Flash freezing is just a fancy way of saying I laid the green beans out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and stuck them in the freezer.  Once they were frozen I tucked them into a ziplock baggie and tossed them in the freezer.  I guess I did it right because I think they taste much better than the frozen green beans  from the grocery store.  And while I'm not sold on freezing vegetables over canning I figure I have learned something new and we're enjoying homegrown green beans in January. Not to shabby!

 This past summer another one of the "new" things I planted was Lemon Basil.   Basil's such a pretty plant.  When you walk past them  you can smell the lemon.  It tastes exactly what it's called. Lemon(y) basil.  I found that it goes real well with chicken dishes.  I'm betting it would be pretty darn good on fish too.   I saved a bunch of seed so I can grow this again in the spring.  Have you raised Lemon Basil?  Any good recipes that you'd like to share?  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

And So It Begins

What are you up to today?  I've got celery chopped up and ready to put in the dehydrator (Found an awesome sale)  I also saved the "bottoms" and have them sitting in some water to try and re-grow them.  I've never actually gotten around to putting any in the dirt before and am curious to see how it works out.

It's also the day I started planting seeds for the coming spring.  Broccoli, Cabbage, and some cauliflower seed are now all tucked into their new dirt home.  I know it's pretty early for some folks BUT ....  The "garden guy" on the Saturday radio said it's time to start seed if I want plants that are ready to be set in the garden come early spring.  And who am I to argue???  LOL Give me a reason to stick some seed in dirt and watch me go.

I need to get the greenhouse all "back in order" too.  I've got all sorts of empty containers for seed starters setting around.  I'm still not sure how I feel about the egg cartons that I used last year.  They worked out for the most part.   I just need to do some adjusting on them to get better water absorption. I've also been wondering how the "baggie method" would work in the greenhouse. I've got some pepper seed I might try to start like that since peppers really need a warm soil to germinate well. I might have to do an experiment and see.

It seems like a good time to take stock of what seed I have and what I might need.  I've already got the Baker Creek seed catalog all dog eared.  So far it's the only one that has come. It seems by this time last year I'd already received several. I'm sure they'll start coming in soon.

 Oh and it's time for tomato seed to be put in some dirt as well.  Like I said  if I want plants that are ready to be planted outside come early spring it's time to start piddling around in the greenhouse. I might be a couple of weeks early with the tomato's but I can't see what it could hurt to get them started. Another thought is that if for some reason I don't get good germination from them then I'll still have time to start more seed and hopefully have it ready to plant when the time comes.  As usual I'm pretty much playing it by ear.  Last year the greenhouse wasn't quite ready for starting the tomato's and so a new learning experience begins.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Still Kicking

I suppose it's obvious to most that I've been taking a blogging break.  As a matter of fact I've pretty much been taking an internet break too.  I've really not been doing much offline either as the weather pretty much sucks.  I'd downloaded Matt Braken's (sp?)  Enemies Foreign and Domestic series a couple of months ago and have been truly enjoying the books. I'm glad I'd downloaded them before all this mess that is my IP connection started making me wanna smack my head against a wall.  I'm currently half way through the second book.  I know it might seem silly but I've kind of been "savoring" the books because I really don't want to get to "The End".  I can't imagine a "tidy" ending.  There is no utopia at the end of these books.  Not that I can tell anyway.   I can see how many of the things I'm reading could so easily be the way things could  end up.  OK... sorry for the book report! :D

When we made the land payment this month I actually had a smile on my face.  Trust me when I say I don't smile while doing the bills for the most part.  This month was different though.  This was where I got to look at Mars and tell him that we only have ONE more payment before this place is really ours!  Of course there's a balloon payment but it's not too terrible.  We can pull it off.  I've been trying to build up the groceries enough that we can actually go until March before having to hit the grocery store for anything more than the basics. I'll use the money to toss to the last payment.  I know we can do it hands down but I've really been trying to focus on not even noticing that we went two months without a grocery shopping trip. Our preps are not what they used to be, but even so we'll do just fine.  Shoot, if nothing else we have the trusty beans and rice in buckets.  Good thing I like beans and rice is what I've been telling Mars.  lol  

So if you were wondering what's been going on around here I can truly say... Not Much. It's been cold, snowy and icy in no order at all and the wind rips around a lot of the time.  I'm really really ready for spring to show up.  The sooner the better!