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Sue Reeves

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since May 10, 2019
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Recent posts by Sue Reeves

YOur farm looks great !

Dont let naysayers put you down.  They do not realy understand what permaculture is if they do.   It is a design system, where you have a set of basic design rules and criteria of what you need.  You, the people there, you and your wife are part of the system with needs.  Being able to meet bills and stay in business is a major design criteria ! You seem to be a farm with budding food forests, a moderate organic truck garden and many other elements .  A 20 year landscape fabric is way less plastic than most organic farmers use out here in my part of the US, and I am in a major organic vegtable and berry area.  

Keep up the great work, you and your wife are an inspiration.  I wish young people knew about the possibilites and success stories like yours

( some people dont see the permaculture in my place either, I guess because I do not have keyhole gardens or swales.  I have alot of design and intent in what I do.  And an awful lot of design and decisions into the day to day living and energy, I happen to be most into energy patterns and building.  I also do grow food, rather alot in proportion to how much time I spend at it.  I have no till raised beds with gopher wire underneath and heavy mulch, I like to water with an overhead sprinkler and also harvest alot from all pathways and edges hit by water.  I tried more free form garden beds for years, and go almost no yield.  I need to eat, this is how I get the plants to not be eaten by gophers.  ANd, yes, I trap, and yes the cat hunts, etc...  I think people easily judge when they are "just playing"  I grow all my years fruits and vegetables in a very small area with very little work)
2 days ago

William Bronson wrote: The cheapest calories generally available in the states come in a white powdered form.
White flour is supper cheap, as is "vegetable" oil,  but just cutting food cost isn't what you are looking for.

Maybe I'm wrong,  but I think having land and skills to raise animals makes them the best choice for creating more food.
Low inputs will mean low out puts but zero cost, so if you can get 100 roosters for next to nothing and they all put on only a single pound worth of meat scrounging for themselves, then you have profited.
Perhaps the answer to your food costs is to plant corn,  then get a nuisance hunting licence.

I dont think going to cheap, white food calories is needed.  I imagine that cutting almost half this current food budget would net significant food nutrient gains and could be done only using organic whole grains, butter, and other real foods.  I have done it and seen it done.  

As Genevieve said above, it can be tackled one thing at a time.  
1 week ago
Well, now it is easier to see

in 2017, taking the yearly totals and dividing by 12 it looks like this, (I did not include dates nights as that amount isnt a large part of the spending  at first glance):

eating out ( fast food, family eating out): $416/month
groceries : $576/month

So, to me, growing or processing your own isnt the first step.  Almost half of food money spent is for eating out, buying drinks out.

There are many ideas for this.  I can give you a few that worked for us, but, again, would need more details on lifestyle for your exact solutions.  SO, you need to figure out times of day eating out, lunch ? Dinner ? Snack time ?  Then, if bought drinks are very much of it, that is something to make note of.  

So, I am just brainstorming here, since I do not know the details

For example, bought drinks  solution might include :  Making coffee at home and taking with you in a portable thermos, there are an awful lot of options on these I have seen my grown kids use, stainless steel, well insulated.  They save alot of money making good coffee at home and taking it with them.  Every adult and child could pack a cold drink bottle before getting in the car.  You can decide wether this contains just water, as would be typical for my family.  Or, it could be a water bottle with a water/fruit juice blend in it.  If the kids are small and will not go thru so much during the day, you can have a larger bottle of your preferred mix, in a cooler even, and a few metal cups( see Lehmans catalog to buy) or plastic sippy cups for the littles to serve them theirs.  

Another idea is to always have food with you in the car.  Sandwiches, a sandwich is healthier than MacDonalds.  Cheese, lunch meat or peanut butter, it does not need to be fancy.  They keep well, otherwise my generation would all be dead as we took mayonaise and lunch meat at room temperature to school, but you can always just keep a cooler in the car.  Fruit.  Homebaked cookies, zuchini bread, bread maker bread with butter and jam.  

If kids activities keep you out in the evening, you can switch things up by having a hot lunch and a sandwich dinner.   Or, I used to use a solar oven or a crockpot to make sure there was food ready when we got home.  You can also just microwave what you have cooked the previous night, so always be cooking a day ahead. I do know how hungry they are and how impossible it is to think of cooking when you just get home.  However, it is much easier to think of cooking once you are well fed, so cooking or meal prep can happen in the evening after dinner for the next day.  

I have brought a thermos of hot food for a younger sibling to make it thru the older ones practice or game.  Many leftovers taste good cold too.

My youngest was out of the house alot in her teen homeschool years and would pack lunch, snacks and dinner, and she was an athlete and so this was ALOT of food.  So, maybe one thermos of filling soup, bread and butter and  a container of apple crisp for the hot meal; a thick sandwich or two and fruit for a cold meal; some yogurt, cookies, hummus and veggies, dried fruit etc... for snacking.  

This will save ALOT of money if you do it often, it adds up. Not to mention it will be better nutrition for the kids and save alot of trash and other toxic gick from release into the world.   Maybe it could be a family project where the kids help and the money saved goes to a special account for something the household wants or needs  ?

While at first glance, it may look like work, once it gets going, it is very smooth and I think alot less work that keeping pigs or chickens and slaughtering and canning.  The potential money saved is alot more, given your current budget, too

Since I was a "mean" mom, realy just a very tired mom with a big age gap between kids,  I finally came up with a system where the older kids did an hour trade for all the time I spent driving them to activities and sitting around, and choices had to be made on how many activities each, like maybe one each per season, and yes I know that does add up !  We are at least 1/2 hour each direction from town, but the destination often further in.  This means they would do extra help, beyond their chores, meal prep or clean up, laundry.  Doesnt have to be all on a weeknight when they have homework, they can help do the weekly baking or ahead of time meal prep with you on the weekend ( chopping meat and veggies for the soup and put into a container, etc...)

1 week ago
It might be helpful to have a new budget category for entertainment.  Date nights and eating out as a family count as discretionary entertainment expenses, and realy, so does fast food.  

It would be interesting to see the percentages and/or dollar amounts for the breakdowns.

While eating out does save on groceries, it costs much more than groceries.  If eating out, even fast food, does not cost more than eating that meal at home, then the issue would be using less prepared food at home and more cooking from scratch.  For example, while I rarely eat fast food, like once a year with a poor travel plan, I have done so, and without a drink or fries it is still about $4-6 for me to eat.  ( Yes, less for a child, but then that child would eat less groceries at home too).  $4 feeds me homecooked food for more than one meal, and with more nutrition and calories.  For me, that is more than a day, but for others, maybe $5/day per person makes luxerious homecooked food.

So, the first is to look at how much is spent on eating out of all types and if this has become a habit.  And, if so, we can give alot of recommendations for cooking at home when busy, for example.  

But, if that is a rareity, and the actual money is on groceries, then first, you need to look at the dollar amount, not just percentage of your budget to see if it is reasonable or too high.  If it is too high per person for the month, you need to subcategorize to see if it is snack foods, cold drinks, premade meals, produce, meat, etc... to find out where for your family you spend alot.

It is hard to give recommendations with out more information.  Many of us do know how to eat well on a budget, and how to produce or preserve foods, but we would need to know where the problem lies to help
1 week ago
Also, on her recomendation I usually grow Costats Romanesca summer squash, but not this year.  

It realy is a tasty summer squash both fresh, and dried.  I have dried it in the past and used it during the winter to go in minestrone soups.  Last time I grew it it seemed that there was a low yield of fruits, could be my summer heat.  But, Even so, I think you will find it yields less than a traditional zuchinni, there is never enough of them to have too many. The plants get very large for a zuchinni, although that can be my garden.
Thanks to david Tyler, I did grow out the bigger better butternut this year.   It was late, but we have cool fall nights but no frost until late.  I have not harvested yet, I think one is ready, I am waiting for optimum ripeness so they will store.

I grew waltham butternut in the past and could store it in the garage until about may the next year.

I will try and get photos when done harvesting, a few are very large.  A few of the original seeds did not germinate, but I transplanted about 8 plants and have I think about 2 very large squash per plant.  I think if it was not planted so late, there would have been more as there were a few more buds that started to grow into squash and then succumbed to the cold.  So, my challenge will be to EAT about 2 sqush per month....

If someone tells me how, I can save seeds as I eat them and post in the spring how much there is --- I was gone alot so had an overall small garden this year, no other squashes were grown, so this seed should be good, except not as much genetic diversity since so few plants, but still should be good.
We dont get any kids here now, but in the past I have given out organic popcorn I popped here on the stove, you put it in wax paper bags, salted and ready to eat ( yes, you can still buy these, made by Natural Value) and fold over the top and iron it closed.   Also, I would have a bowl full of apples for those that wanted to take one ( or more...)
1 week ago
I am also looking for persimmon ideas, and I came across this recipe for persimmon jam.   Jam makes a great gift, everyone seems to know what to do with it.  I would use less sugar than they call for, and I like to use Pomona's pectin so I can keep the sweetness down.

I am giving a christmas gift to a couple lucky members of my family of jam, and I am trying to see if I can get it to 6 varieties.  So far this season I have made red plum/raspberry; green gage plum; peach; I put some blackberries in the freezer the other month when I was low on time, so then there will be blackberry;  and then, hopefully I will get the persimmon jam done next month.  The 6th one was supposed to be pear/cranberry ( which does not need pectin, cranberries have tons of pectin) and I bought a pound of cranberries at the farmers mkt when I was visiting Oregon but the pears I had set aside did not keep, so the cranberries are in the freezer and I am on the look out for pears from a neighbor maybe -- they are $2.50 a lb around here so buying 3 pounds seems too pricy.  
3 weeks ago
I have hychia  persimmon and dry quite alot each year.  Do not wait until these are soft to do it, when they give just a tad to pressure, slice them and put in the dehydrator.  The astringency goes away when they dehydrate.  They are like candy and keep for years in a jar and I have given them away as a gift
3 weeks ago
Something to keep in mind is that old windows like that usually have lead paint on them and sanding will get that all over.  I used to live in a 1920's built house and had to do lead paint remediation.  There are products made to strip it in a more safe manner, and you usually do it with disposable coveralls, etc... reason I tested my house and remediated is that a neighbor around the corner, a large expensive house, had just had to have their child go thru hospital treatment for lead poisoning because they had remodeled.
1 month ago