Jess Dee

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since Mar 10, 2011
Prairie Canada zone 2/3
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Recent posts by Jess Dee

Trace Oswald wrote: I grow those cherries as well. I have Carmen jewel, romeo, and juliet varieties. They are bush cherries, and while they are considered sour cherries, they have high sugar content and are supposed to be very good for fresh eating. Mine aren't producing yet so I can't comment on that. Uni of S says they are zone 2 hardy.

I have all three of those, plus Crimson Passion, and some are bearing for me.  They are not sweet - there is a lot of marketing going on there.  They may have high brix (sugar content) scores, but they also have a lot of acid, and are definitely tart/sour to taste.  I will eat a few out of hand, but then again I will eat a few chokecherries out of hand, too, when I'm picking them.  They're not like a Bing, where you can gorge on them.  The high brix makes them great for wine, though, and they have that strong cherry flavor that makes amazing pies.  Canned with sugar, I'm happy to eat bowlfuls, too.  If I could grow sweet cherries, I would still grow some of these for canning, jelly, and wine.   I have 3 that are bearing, and have since planted 5 or 6 more, which tells you what I think of them, overall, I guess.  

They are definitely cold hardy, though they sulk in droughts.  Their root system must be relatively shallow.  
1 year ago

Meg Knox wrote:

I'd actually be really interested in fucking with some strange apple types. I read an excerpt from Michael Pollan's book The Botany of Desire, and learned a bit about apple diversity. There are so many bizarre apple types we've never seen, and every seed is unique! And apparently there's a guy who will send you random seeds for free, so why not! I figure some might be inedible (as very very many are considered), but might serve well as apple cider vinegar for cosmetic use or something. That's kind of my attitude with the whole place honestly: Fuck around and find out. I'm just looking to try out anything, and see what I can make of it.

Very excited to get started on my lil experiment, and very much appreciate the advice.

There's a Canadian fruit tree supplier who sells seedlings of wild apples (malus sieversii).  I planted 5 in zone 2/3 Saskatchewan, and 2 survived to the tips; the other three had varying degrees of winter damage, but survived.  So that might be interesting to you, as they'd have a good shot at being fully hardy for you.  The place is called Hardy Fruit Tree Nursery.  If you plant an apple seed and don't like the fruit, you can also graft other apples to the branches, so it's not really a waste.  

You might do okay with the University of Saskatchewan dwarf sour cherries, too.  They are really nice for making pies, jelly, and wine, and they're quite tough.  I can give you a whole list of what I'm able to grow, and I'm sure your frost-free season is longer than mine, though I don't know what kind of heat you'd get in the summer for ripening fruit.  Zone 5, though - you should have decent options.  
1 year ago
Concrete can also leach 'stuff'.  We have a below-ground concrete cistern in a cold climate (Canada).  We haul treated city water to use.  After it's sat in the tank for a while, it leaches 'stuff', that it deposits wherever the water sits for any length of time, like toilet tanks and such.  It dissolves easily enough with vinegar, but it's a nuisance to clean, and hard on the plumbing, I suspect.  
1 year ago

Carla Burke wrote:
Unfortunately, not so much.

I'd like to throw another option out there. A cheap wood burning tool is easy to use, and if you burn deeply, it's very difficult to sand off, and even under heavy paint, the changed texture is difficult to hide. A cheap engraving tool can do the same on solid metal tools

That's too bad.  At this point, I rarely do work at other people's places, and equally rarely have outside help here, so it's not really an issue anymore.  I would still be tempted to use hot pink paint, though.  Easier to 'see' the tools wandering off, if you know what I mean.
1 year ago

Remelle Burton wrote:

Jess Dee wrote:I know at various times, I've threatened to paint all the tool handles hot pink, due to tool losses.  I don't think I could pick just one favorite tool, myself.  I have favorite tools for specific jobs, though, for sure!

I have had to do this in the field (oil and gas patch) since the boys seem to like 'borrowing' the closest tools and don't use their own.  I switched to pink buckets, pink camo tools and I paint everything pink.  they got wise to me and brought a can of black spray paint to go over my pink.  Now I just lock things up.  I didn't mind them using them, but when they'd dropped my 2# sledges down the 'hole' more than 3 times, I got over having to supply that subcontractor any more tools.   It definitely was easier to find my tools in a snow storm though.  

I had a particular brand of (very expensive) hammer that was really nicely balanced for me.  I "lost" several of them on various construction projects at friends' and colleagues' houses (and garages).  That's when the pink handle threat started.  At the time, tools that came with pink handles from the store were not good quality.  Things have probably gotten better since then.
1 year ago
I know at various times, I've threatened to paint all the tool handles hot pink, due to tool losses.  I don't think I could pick just one favorite tool, myself.  I have favorite tools for specific jobs, though, for sure!
1 year ago
Brody - before you get too invested in a fermentation business, look into local food safety regulations, and how much it costs to meet them.  Also look for cottage business laws that might exempt small businesses from some of the regulations.  In my area, meeting the food safety requirements to sell goat milk would typically cost upwards of $15,000, so folks with goats usually sell goat milk soap instead.  Food safety laws and regulations can be really onerous.
1 year ago

Brody Ekberg wrote:I love that you take a different approach to this, that’s my style!

We have had long serious talks about this, and we are generally on the same page. I tend to forget that this lifestyle is a choice that we made together and end up wanting to point blame and feel like I deserve better. But how can we deserve better than getting to shape life and reality exactly how we choose? Seems like the golden ticket to me, although there are so many distractions that the golden ticket easily gets misplaced or forgotten about, at least in my life!

About kids: she has always felt compelled to be a mother. I never considered parenting until the last few years. Now, I really like certain ideas about it, but question my motives. I know I cant make a child live the way I want, and I cant live vicariously through them. They will be their own person, which scares me because I dont want them to end up in the situation I am in. I want to provide them with absolutely zero reasons to feel like they need to leave home, leave the city, leave the state, go to college or get a “job”. I want them to grow up understanding and experiencing that most of what they need to live and be happy is surrounding them and the only reason to go elsewhere is out of curiosity or desire, not necessity or obligation. And the responsibility isn’t necessary what turns me off the most, its the fact that between working full time and being a father, I dont see how I will be able to get anything done at home as far as making “progress” or any significant changes towards sustainability or self sufficiency. That’s partially why Ive been busting ass for a few years is because once I’m a dad, I dont think I will be having the time to do these things.

As far as our perspectives on money: she says as a child, they struggled to pay bills and considered themselves to be poor. My definition of “poor” is a lot more extreme than struggling to pay bills. We always had plenty of money growing up, but my dad never felt it was enough. He acted like we were poor and struggling, but he was making a bunch of money, we had all the conveniences and he was stashing a bunch away for the future. I have been working since 14 and have always had a savings account that I worked to keep supplied. I have never felt poor and honestly, feel like I could be way happier dirt poor and struggling to stay alive. My demons are all of overindulgence, not of wanting more. I tend to do better in scarcity than abundance. She has no intentions of feeling “poor” again, and I cant convince her that she never really was poor. I have no intentions of being wealthy, and she cant convince me that I wouldn’t be happier with less... so here we are in between!

About being a homemaker: I feel this is where I shine. Doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done. I love weekends, days off, being quarantined, and being on sick leave because all I do is directly related to the wellbeing of our life. All day at work, I feel disconnected and distant from life. I dick around for 8 hours and in return, a black number on a white screen changes. Then I have to go somewhere else to turn that number into actual money to buy actually useful things to directly benefit our life. Its too complicated and goofy of a system for me feel at home in. Money is useless to me. Just a bad idea that we wont let go of. I would be so happy as a stay at home anything, but she has a degree in early childhood education and can barely make any money in that field. I’m the one with the high paying job, and that leaves me as the one that leaves home all day every day...

I love how you question why I need to make money off of my passions, because that’s exactly what I’m questioning. I can definitely see myself ruining all the fun and enjoyment of playing in the dirt if I spend all day doing that for other people so that they give me money. A good example is how I love fishing. I used to be laid off all winter and fished pretty much all day every day. I started because I loved it. Shortly after, I realized I felt obligated to go fishing and if I didn’t bring home fish, I felt like a failure. My joy turned into an obligation and a duty and was no longer enjoyable. Same with hunting. I would take 2 weeks off to hunt deer and a few days into it realize that I’m taking it way too seriously and going at it with a work attitude instead of enjoying it.

I feel torn between sticking this stable “good” job out for now and making the most of the free time, or bailing on this shit and making the most of life period. I do believe we need a certain amount of struggle and conflict in our lives, and we aren’t getting out of that aside from attitude adjustments. But 8 hours every day just feels like too much for me! It’s unreasonable to only allow myself an hour or two every day to do what is important to me. And I feel like dirt for saying it because I know so many people who work more for less and are happier. But I am not those people. I feel like a screwdriver being used to pound in nails all day at work, and money and benefits don’t change the fact that screwdrivers are meant to screw, not pound!

To me, it sounds like both of you should consider working hard towards the goal of your wife making a living wage at a fulfilling job, then getting you home to do the homemaking.  Saving money is, in many ways, often easier / better than making it.  When my husband quit working for money, we had a big adjustment period where we felt broke a lot of the time, but then he got in the swing of cooking our meals from scratch, gardening, repairing things, etc, and now we don't really need a second income anyway, even though we have since added two kids.  We are also much richer in time and lower in stress.  Again, though, I make a good wage, and we're in an area with lower cost of living (a decision we made specifically because it allowed us to afford an acreage on one income).  

Kids can be expensive, but don't have to be... though I don't know how medical expenses play into that, because I'm from Canada and don't have to deal with your medical system.  Kids definitely make it very hard to accomplish much beyond parenting for the first few years, but once they're four or five, things get quite a lot easier.  Mine are a bit older than that, and they are actively helpful some of the time, and are rarely a hindrance anymore.  They can play independently for long enough for the adults to get significant work done.  

I will observe that yes, you create your life, but there are always tradeoffs, and lots of the tradeoffs suck, at least for a while (sometimes for a long while).  There is a self-help author I like, Mark Manson.  He talks about choosing the flavor of s**t sandwich that you can deal with.  It's a bit blunt / crude, but that suits me, and might fit for you, too.  Look him up.  He's written a couple of books, and there's some really good advice in there.  Actually, I'm going to link one of his blog posts you might like, but it definitely comes with a very strong language warning.  Here's the link.
1 year ago

J Crozier wrote:Thanks for the great advice Jess. That is kind of our plan. This year we are planning on focusing on the garden, and getting ready for chickens next year.

Gardens and chickens are a great place to start.  Gardens are forgiving.  If it's a total disaster, you can plow it under and start over fresh the next spring.  Chickens are about the easiest livestock we've tried.  You have a good plan :)
1 year ago
I'm going to take a different tack, and make two suggestions / share a couple of thoughts.  

First, it sounds to me like you and your wife really need to sit down and have a long, honest talk about your needs, wants, and hopes for the future.  I'm hearing that she wants kids, but you are not so sure, both due to social / environmental concerns, and also due to the responsibility.  I'm also hearing that your spending habits and beliefs about money and debt may not be closely aligned.  It also sounds like you want your wife to be a homemaker, but that may not be what she wants, and also may not be possible if you quit a secure job.  

These are things that it may be important to resolve, or at least get out in the open, before making a decision that impacts you both so substantially, especially if there are likely to be children in the equation sometime soon.  

Second, why do you need to make money by pursuing your passion?  I have turned several hobbies into income streams, and I have to say, it can really wreck the fun.  I understand wanting to align your employment with your values, but there may be other ways to do it.  You say you work in a utility job.  Could you take a different utility job that relates more to something like renewables or retrofitting?  

My story here - I work a job that I despised when I started, and still dislike much of the time, though not so intensely.  It is a difficult and stressful, but also well paid and very stable job, that supports my family and also pays for a lot of other really important things, like my fruit tree habit.  

Because it's a good income, we could afford for my husband to be a homemaker, and stay home with the kids; he also gardens extensively and tends the chickens (and goats, when we have them).  I am much less stressed with him doing the cooking and cleaning, which makes the job more bearable; it also allows us to align the non-job parts of our lifestyle more with the permie end of things.  He likes working for our family, rather than a boss.  We've had this arrangement for ten years now, and it's functional for us, even with the issues with my job.  We don't plan to change it.  I have another 10 years or so until I can retire; I expect my hobbies will easily take over my days at that point.

Personally, I don't feel a need to get paid to follow my passion - I follow several passions in my off time.  I know this isn't an attitude that would work for everyone, but I think it would be worth considering when you are facing significant debt, a spouse who is not onboard with sacrificing to reduce your debt, plans for children in the near future, and a passion that isn't likely to ever supply you with the kind of income and job security you have now.  

I guess I'm mostly trying to say: don't discount the idea of plugging along in a stable job, and getting your true fulfillment in other ways.  
1 year ago