After Thanksgiving we had a free sale up at church. A free sale is like a garage sale, only no money is involved. It is staggering how much extra we have. The free sale is a chance to share. We set up every table we could find (and the church has a LOT of tables) and we filled them all. We had stuff lining the walls of the gym, we had clothes piled deep on every table. We had over two tables thick with Christmas items. And craft supplies. Toys. Kitchen goods. Furniture. Books. ETC. And do you know the most amazing part of all? About half of the stuff was taken. Almost more then the things that were taken I'm proud of the people who admitted they had plenty and were willing to share their extras. I don't know why so many people are pack rats, but I'm convinced it is a dominate gene. I've got the recessive gene; I like throwing things away. A lot of pack rats got brave and gave (at least some of) their excess away.
I feel like I was at church all day yesterday. I love church. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. Can I still whine that it was an awfully long day? There were just so many things happening one after another and it just took a long time. The rest of the family was able to go home for a few hours, then come back. Randall was sweet and brought me up some chili for dinner (I was stuck at church the entire time). Oh well. I'd rather be a hobo in the kingdom of God than be a ruler anywhere else.
I've been cooking a lot lately. There are two sides to this urban homesteading stuff. One side is that you do everything yourself. The other side is that you do everything yourself.
Late last night I was dumping old jars full of bottled food into the compost pit because I wanted to save the jars. I have no idea how old this food is. I'm guessing the late 70's. A friend died and her daughter asked me to come over and take all her canning jars. About half of them had food in them. Like most blessings this was good and bad. The good is that I have a lot more canning jars for next year's harvest, the other side is that I was out in the dark dumping ancient food (because I didn't want my chickens eating this old food, but I was too "green" to just throw it away and I had to bury it deep in the compost pile without the chickens knowing it was there, which meant I had to do it while they were roosting, which only happens when it is dark) and having to clean everything up before I went to my evenings meeting because I didn't want all that food caking on all those jars. I am a glutton for punishment.
All we hear is scary news about the economy. There is another way to looking at it-- I like the idea of living lower on the totem pole. Too many people are whining. When I drive down the street I see an awful lot of green lawn and very little garden. We have opportunities right at hand. We still have thrift stores, we still have libraries, we still have health. This year my DH is going back to school and we're going back to poverty. I'm good with it. I think the kids are a little freaked out. It'll all work out. I'm looking forward to it. The reason DH can go back to school is because we've always lived pretty conservatively and paid off debts ASAP. We have no house payment, no car payment, no student loan payment. Nothing. Of course we are going to be diving back into student loans (HATE THAT), but we don't have that back load of debts hanging over our heads. DH can hardly wait until 2009, he's so anxious to get back in school.
We took a drive along the river and the fall colors were just beautiful. We climbed up to a bluff and saw the entire countryside. Long ago the Indians used that look-out as a burial spot. I can see why. It felt holy.
We came home and gave the lawn its last mowing. The chickens have been moved to their winter place. I stacked bags full of straw and leaves all around their house, I hope it helps keep them warm for the winter. I feel like I am getting ready to hibernate. The next morning it was below freezing and a friend saw snow.
Now is the time my garden is perfect. Next year's garden never has problems with the weather, or bugs, or water, or pests. The garden I plan in the winter always produces heavily and every plant thrives. Winter, snuggled up with a seed catalog, is the best time to garden.
This is a buttercream transfer cake. The kids were very impressed with it. It is easiest to do with a cartoon image; Sponge Bob qualifies. The nice thing about buttercream transfer cakes is that you can copy just about any simplistic commercial image and it looks perfect. The image is made of buttercream, not plastic, or fondant, or anything like that. You can eat the icing but the main ingredient is Crisco and I don't eat it.
I'm so excited! I got my first deer hide. I've been wanting to learn how to make buckskin for over a year. Last hunting season I asked every hunter I knew for their unwanted deer hides. I didn't get one. Although many assured me I could have the hide none of my friendly hunters bagged a deer last year. I went through the same process this year and so far I have one in my freezer and one waiting for me at someone else's house. I can't wait to get started. Buck tanning deer hide is a fascinating process but I've only read about it. Now I get to do it. I LOVE learning how to do things myself. I love to spin and knit and weave and sew. I just love learning the basic processes of making things.
This is a typical square in my garden. I have nine this year, I'm making three more for next year. I'm basically using the square foot system. You can see the concrete blocks surrounding the 16 square foot garden space. The actually feet are marked with nylon string threaded through a wooden frame. The frame is sitting inside the concrete blocks. There is rebar at each corner of the block. To the left the rebar helps to hold up some electrical conduit, to which garden netting is attached. The rebar allows me to wrap the square with chicken wire and protect my plants from my chickens. Theoretically I can make a tent for the square and protect it against bad weather, but I haven't done that yet. All of my garden beds are either concrete or wooden squares. I really like having my garden organized into feet. It forces me to make better use of the small space. In our backyard it is very obvious what is garden and what is not so I do not have problems with anyone walking on the soil and compacting it. The soil is fabulous. I am very spoiled, we have a regional compost facility a few miles away. Every spring I go over and pick up a truck load of compost (for about $12 a load) and the soil you see is mainly compost from my friendly neighborhood composting facility.
I worked as an election judge yesterday. What a day! It was incredible seeing the number of people who wanted to have their say. As a poll worker it was a long, BUSY day. When I showed up at 5 am (to prepare for the 6am opening) there was already a long line. It was astounding. At one point I had to run outside after a woman who left something and I could see the line stretch into the parking lot and round the building with no end in sight. I hope someone took a picture because it was truly amazing. Once we processed the voters and ok'ed their eligibility, we offered them the option of marking their paper ballots as they stood, leaning against the wall or against a table (instead of in a privicy booth). As a result there were wall to wall people voting in the room, but we did process them through as fast as we could and I only knew of one compliant all day (other then the drunk we had to call the police to eject from the building at closing time). Overall it was a really good experience and one that I very happy I won't have to do again. Only presidential elections are this crazy and this was a record breaker for presidential elections.
This picture of #2 daughter was taken shortly before the frost. You can see almost all of my garden space. I've got some of the front yard devoted to different fruits, but the backyard is for the true gardening. Since this picture was taken I've pulled off the chicken wire and trimmed the weeds down around the squares. I'm in the process of building three more wooden squares, which means three more gardening spaces. Since there isn't much of anything going on in the garden I can use my time getting ready for next year. BTW isn't Pippin (the cat) cute? She loves to drape herself over our shoulders and take a nap.