Thursday, March 24, 2016

*Old Folks Talking*

As Mr. LB and I sat drinking our coffee and chatting as we do every morning,
I mentioned how different conversations were when I was growing up
as opposed to what we hear today.
This stemmed from the mentioning of visiting 
some elderly out of state relatives. 
My family is/was a bit different than Mr. LB's.
I not only knew all 4 of my grandparents, but also
my great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles,
cousins, second cousins and so on.
Birthdays, baptisms, graduations, etc. created scenes like we saw in 
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Anyone who would have seen my great-grandparents 50th
wedding anniversary would have laughed at how many people
we fit into one house and yard.
Like most folks of the time, my family was working class.
This branch of the family tree had a dairy.
When my grandfather left home,
he had a soup bowl, a blanket, and a clean shirt for Sundays.
They were workers.
Even though 'the kids' struck out in various directions,
they all worked.
This in itself is nothing unusual.
What is a bit unusual are the conversations I remember.
With ample opportunities to talk and discuss concerns,
the family was a community of its own - 
just not a geographic one.
I remember them discussing politics and
like any normal kid would look elsewhere for entertainment.
The thing is, they didn't all agree.
But not agreeing didn't mean that one person was right or wrong.
That's why they were discussing it.
Unlike today, there was no hatred in the conversation.
Differences were just that - differences.
They could still care about and love one another in spite of the differences.
I wonder if that is still out there?
It sure isn't what is reported in the media.

The other thing I remember is the sharing of advise ~
(good or bad, who knows?)
Weather it was the best way to butcher rabbits, which variety of tomato plant produced best, or why a pick-up gear might be slipping, amongst that large of crew, someone was bound to know something.
Even conversations I never heard, I knew about in the way of ---
Uncle Joe said that door might work better if. . .
or Aunt Lee said she likes this cleaner (Aunt Lee kept an immaculate house.)
All this said isn't just to share family quirks,
but to bring to light the fact that I don't hear these kinds of conversations
much anymore- not never, just seldom.
There is so much slander, one-ups-manship, and sarcasm.
I miss "the old folks talking."
It was healthy for a youngster to hear how solutions were derived.
I'm not a brainiac or world genius, but I am a problem solver 
and am pretty good at improvising or coming up with plan B (or C.)
I don't take credit for that.
I was taught by not only my parents, but a whole community of relatives
who each in their own way influenced me.
We do have a bit of a saving grace today with internet and blogs.
We can mention things like manure in the garden, 
grease under the fingernails, or a sick critter and not get looked at 
like we just sprouted a unicorn horn.
We can have a community of sorts.
The hard part is kids seeing the real life camaraderie, 
and working together, and laughter that happens along the way.
If you live someplace that they do get this, they are indeed blessed.
No amount of schooling can replace that.
If you don't have it, look around, you'll find someone - 
shoot, stop on by if you're in the neighborhood.
You're more than welcome to help can corn, split wood or whatever:)
And to all you someones out there, thank you.
Thank you for doing and sharing.
Believe it or not, 
reading about pulling lambs and turning compost is a comfort to "hear." 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Using Your Stores (Pantry)

There are a couple of important things to remember
about your home food supply
that seem to be a hang-up for some folks.

Thing number 1:

The first is knowing how much and of what your family eats.
To help my meager little pea-brain,
I made labels that I showed you here.
Peas will be the first thing due to harvest and can.
You can see on the shelf, we still have quite a few left.
Last year was a good pea year.
The year prior wasn't as much so.
If we have a few jars left over, I'm okay with that.
It will be a comfort to know if this year they don't produce as well
that we will still have plenty.
I had to buy tomato sauce:(
This year I'm planting more canning tomatoes in hopes to remedy that.
Also, we've eaten more corn than usual, because it taste sooo good!
Wow, that was a good box of corn.

Thing number 2:

You might notice all the empty jars.
As we eat the food, I put the jars back where they were - only empty.
This acts like a place holder,
but what it really means is we are eating our food!
I can't believe how many people 'stock up'
but don't eat their stock pile.
I guess that means it's just for decoration ???
Weather it is food purchased from a store 
or you have preserved your own store,
food really only last so long.
Go ahead and use it.
If you find that it's been on your shelf for a while and nobody in the house
is interested in eating it,
ask a neighbor if they would like it.
Our neighbors love it when I do that,
though I've become pretty good at declining things we don't eat
so don't have much in that realm any more.
Pantry space is just too valuable.

So with those 2 things in mind,
what's on your shelf :?)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yes, Elk Have a Sense of Humor

Oh the beautiful creatures. . .
Oh the delicious scandalous creatures!
Here they are leisurely parading along the hill
right across from our house.
They look at me and say,
"See this rump roast you don't get to eat?"
"How about all the steaks I might make?"
Oh they are warped creatures indeed.
How cruel they are to taunt me such.
During hunting season, they were singing a different song.
It was more along the lines of the Gingerbread Man.

All joking aside,
I am truly blessed to live in such a place
and am extremely grateful.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Keeping the Garden Simple

It's almost gardening season, and...
We want to plant it all!
Am I alone in this?  (I bet not:)
Those seed catalogs showing up at just the right time is no accident.
If you consider how marketers approach sales,
it is no wonder that we are shown gorgeous tomatoes, luscious greens, 
and savory herbs right smack dab in the middle 
of the longest, bleakest, coldest winter days.
We must be strong!
How much of each item does your household eat?
As your mouth begins to water while looking at the 32 varieties 
of delicious corn on the cob, do just one thing for yourself.
Go get a black marker and at the top of the page
write how many pints and/or quarts of corn your family eats in a year.
Figure about 2 ears per pint (4/qt.)
Now comes the tough part - choosing which one or maybe two you want.
It's a torturous task indeed.
Do this for each item.
I find that each year I plant fewer and fewer items.
I don't mean fewer seeds.
The garden is still full.  How? you ask.
In our garden, we have 4 plots and a round.
This year, I'm planting one whole plot of tomatoes.
Rather than 3-4 plants, I'm planning on about 10.
We use quite a bit of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and enchilada sauce.
I have beed canning our stewed tomatoes for some time.
Last year, I think I got the tomato sauce down (thanks to a neighbors Victorio.)
And I have recently come up with an enchilada sauce recipe that we like so will now add that to the list of things we no longer purchase from the grocery store.
Another whole plot will be green beans.
Why do they taste so good?
We eat them fresh, cooked, canned, all yumminess.
Do you 'get' where I'm going here?
The other perk to this is that there are fewer seeds to save or purchase.
Though, I am improving my seed-saving skills, I still worry that I will inadvertently do something that will ruin the seeds.
This year I am going to try a small separate patch of seed carrots,
which will take two years.
My hope is that by refining our garden, I will be able to procure my own seeds
and have plenty of the things we like to eat.
I count seeds, canning jars/lids, and gardening items as part of the grocery budget - because they are after all, and it all adds up.
By growing, harvesting, preserving and procuring future food,
we decrease our reliance on foreign markets of questionable quality products.
We strengthen our own financial situation.
And we reap the health benefits of fresh organic produce.
As often is the case, 
the simple solution can be the best solution.
Weather you grow a large garden to feed your family or a window box of herbs, you are doing something good.
Keep it do-able so you are continually encouraged 
and not discouraged by too much or too many.

And now my friends, I have a perplexing question for you all~
Why don't they sell zucchini seeds individually like they should?
Just a thought.