Sunday, December 28, 2008

Independence days- week 4

Thanks to Matriarchy for the words of encouragement for winter beginners of Independence Days.  In some ways I am a beginner, but in other ways, I have been doing this challenge for years, just not tracking it as such.  The world of producing and storing my own food isn't new to me.  I grew up in a farming household where we grew much of our food.  The hard economic times we find ourselves in have made it more of a priority for me now. 
I have been in a funk for the past few weeks.  The holidays helped to cheer me a bit but now, with V almost out of his job and nothing new insight, the winter doldrums have begun to take their toll again.  Actually, I find the Independence days challenge helpful for making me see what I have managed to accomplish.  Matriarchy pointed out that Winter is the season of rest and planning, getting ready for the push in the spring.  This year, I will definitely be more deliberate with my gardening.  In the past, it was something that I did because I enjoyed it and loved having our own food.  Now, I fear, we will be more reliant on it for subsistence.  
I am working on my goals for 2009.  So much of what I want is dependent on V finding a job but we will plan for the contingency that he won't.  I may take a hint from Gina and organize my goals for the year Independence Day's style.  But on to the business at hand:
Little lettuces
1. Plant something- No, but have been studying my seed catalogues and the books I got for Christmas, particularly the Root Cellaring book, for ideas of what to plant this spring.  My little lettuces in the window box in the basement are doing well.  They are happier that I hung the second bank of lights and are growing nicely.
2. Harvest something- No, see above, I'm hoping that in a couple weeks we can have a few lettuce leaves.  The Christmas Jalapeno is still on the plant, I was planning to use it for our dinner party that didn't materialize.  We hope to reschedule soon and I really want to have a fresh pepper.
3. Preserve something-  Woo Hoo!!! I used my new pressure canner to can turkey and stock! 
4. Store something- picked up some chocolate on sale after Christmas to add to the stash.  We've got enough chocolate chips and baking goodies to feed a small army.
5. Manage Reserves- Working to use the oatmeal from the freezer.  Cooked one of our bargain turkeys (one to go).
6. Cook something new- not really, although pressure canning is kind of a new way to cook/preserve something for me.
7. Prep something- V picked up a box of 8 taper candles that were at a deep discount.  We don't use tapers often but they're nice to have around if we needed them.
8. Reduce waste- Recycled, composted and used cloth bags at the grocery.  I wasn't very good about using reusable wrapping paper for gifts so I feel a bit wasteful this time of year.
9. Learn a new skill- YES!!! I conquered my fear of pressure canning and had a successful first attempt with my new canner. It will take me a while before I feel comfortable doing it and to really figure out how to adjust the heat for optimal pressure maintenance, but I feel good that I did it. I'm glad I tried it now so we can get the lid replaced before I really need it.
10. Work on community food security- Not really, although I promised my friend Jim that I would teach him how to can in a hot water bath.
11. Regenerate what is lost- I struggle with this category. Although composting is a way of giving back to the soil, I don't feel like I've given much back to anyone this week. I've been pretty crabby lately.
I feel pretty good about this week, even in the depths of winter, I've been working on my life and my dreams.  I'm frustrated that things are on hold but I'll survive.  Now, back to my garden planning....
Have a peaceful and productive week.  Here's wishing good things to everyone.


  1. It is easy to get down during the witner. I like to really focus on crafting and creating. It makes me feel happier when I am making pretty things. My hubby got me a canner as a gift, also. I haven't used the new one yet but I used to do a lot of canning. They scare the wits out of me as well but that is because I saw my Mom's blow its top once.

  2. Hooray for the pressure canning success! I have not done anything beyond water bath yet. I do want to be able to can stock - it would save a lot of room in my freezers. I have to freeze bones, too, because I have no more room for stock.

    I'm sorry if I implied you were a beginner to gardening or food storage. I know you are not, just to the Indy blog challenge.

    You know, I found that the blogging itself motivated me. I wanted to be able to post stuff in all the categories. And to post pix, you have to actually finish stuff. It helps me be less of a procrastinator.

    Earlier today, DH and I went down in the cellar to check on our cider fermenting buckets, and DD15 yelled, "Hey, don't you want the camera?" Everyone knows Mom is blogging.

    DH and I have both been "underemployed" since May, so I guess I am used to the low-level anxiety of money worries, and I don't feel much worse about it in the winter. It's so much harder to face a lay-off around the holidays. It feels like more of a smack in the face. You have every right to be in a funk (not that you need my permission). Making lists and plans often helps me feel better.

    What a good idea to consult the Root Cellaring book to plan for next year! I have that book, too.

  3. Matriarchy- No offense taken. I still feel like a beginner a lot of the time- there is still so much I don't know how to do and so much to learn. I wish I had paid more attention to my Mom when I was growing up- and that she had made more of an effort to teach me. I'm really trying to make sure I stay connected with J14 and bring her into all of this so she has a clue. She helped me make chutney this summer- it was her first canning adventure!

  4. I am late to commenting, but I wanted to do so and say how good it is to read about other beginners in the Independence Days challenge. You have more experience than me though! Reading your canning experience has motivated me on my own goal for food preservation these days. It is hard to start this challenge in the winter I think, when so many of the things to do are more difficult (e.g. planting, harvesting, preserving).... how are your lettuces doing - did you plant them inside, or out in a cold frame?

  5. Localzone- Thanks for stopping by. The lettuces are in an old window box from the backyard that I brought inside. I have it set up on a table in the basement under the lights I use for seed starting. I just hope they are big enough to eat before I'm ready to start planting seeds. I don't have that much space under the lights!


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