Chefmom Hatfield

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since Mar 28, 2011
Western Pennsylvania
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Recent posts by Chefmom Hatfield

Each year I purchase two calenders:

In Tune with the Moon, 2012, 2013 etc.

and the North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calender, 2013 etc.

these both break down the moon cycles etc with some really great graphs and help with your gardening plan.
6 years ago
I have always found biodynamics to be very simple.

Organic gardening removes chemical farming uses and returns to a more natural agriculture.

Permaculture incorporates this and then seems to work with nature on a very local level. You basically grow within your local means.

Biodynamics adds the local level to the whole local level, including the earth's surface to what is going on in the sky.

Anyone can take any belief out there and turn it into a religion. "We shall follow the shoe!!!" NO!! "We shall follow the gourd!!"
But remove the "religious" stereotype and you have a working direction that uses all energy available to you.

Science can only be proven until Science proves something else.
6 years ago
The dry skin and scabs brings dry skin to mind. Dry skin can come from liver issues in humans. I had an eczema on my hand for more than 20 years that I finally healed with common "weeds" in the yard. A mixture of plaintain, burdock leaf, yarrow, calendula and comfrey both rubbed on fresh and infused in olive oil, then the oil was "schmeared" on.

It's not much help because these things aren't available road side in the winter, I'm not sure if they could be found in health food stores or not.

I have a Pug that gets skin issues when fleas come to visit (usually from a certain family member) and he doesn't stop itching. I bathe him with a human natural shampoo with added tea tree oil and lavender oil, about 1/2 cup shampoo to 1/4 tsp of each essential oil (those ones I find in my local health food store). This seems to help the skin itching for about 3 or 4 days. He loves bath time so bathing often isn't a problem.
7 years ago
This will break the rules, a little, but you should never, ever, ever chop firewood in flip flops and shorts.  Long story short it is about my husband, so it breaks the rules but it happened to the whole family really.

I was planting garlic, the kids were doing yard work and we were going to have a cook out later that night so my husband was chopping some wood for a campfire.  Not thinking he put his foot up on the stump for wood chopping and hit a piece with a hand hatchet.  It hit a knot in the wood and the beautifully sharpened hatchet sliced his ankle straight down into his foot.

I heard "Honey!!"  And I hurried up to find him on the ground with his hand clamped on his ankle and blood.  Lots of blood.  I ran around and did the usual "oh my god" type of things.  I ran inside to get some wet towels etc and to call an ambulance when reality hit me.  No health insurance and the possible cost of an ambulance.  Let alone we lived deep in the woods and would have to wait awhile.  I ran back out and told my husband I could get him to the hospital in 20 minutes, and cheap too!!

We got him into the garden cart and me and the two kids pushed/pulled him up the hill to the mini-van and he was able to hop, lean etc into the back seat.  It's usually a 25-30 min drive, I did it in 12 minutes.  No one realized until we were in the little room Dr. and Nurse in attendance that we were all dressed, well, in yard work clothes.  His feet were green from walking through the mowed grass in flip flops. 

Fortunately he didn't slice up his tendons, and he healed very nice.  But to keep him working it became a family affair.  I drove him to work, my son carried his things and opened doors on the job projects and my daughter behaved herself and kept me company.  We did get a trip to Va Beach, Delaware Beach, and camping in the woods on his company.  His scar looks a lot like a smiley face.

Remember kids, chop wood in boots and socks and long pants.

7 years ago
This is a photo of my plant markers for my herb garden.  I made them when I was doing pottery and they are mounted on a galvanized heavy wire.  These ones are more than 5 years old and have stayed outside in the winters for that time as well.  I did have the bottom of one marker rust and break, but now it is just a shorter marker.

I also made some for my tomato plants so I know the different varieties.

7 years ago
I do my darnedest to never argue the "I'm right, you are wrong" with people.  In my opinion it really doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter if climate change is our fault or a natural temperature trend.  It's a fact that there are difference in the climate.  No argument needed, and it's silly to scream at each other to decide "why".

It doesn't matter if we are running out of coal, natural gas or oil.  We all can agree that there is only so much available.  The argument is why the sam-hell are we not conserving it at every possible turn? 

It's when we get caught up in the "right-fight" that the real meaning gets lost.  I can't stand when something so simple as to conserve the air, water and life on this planet is lost in the fight that I'm right and you are wrong. 

Sometimes it's so hard to find all the facts.  Today we should eat more fish, but the reality is that the fish are disappearing now that we are eating more fish.  Today we should buy organic, the reality is that the word "organic" is losing its meaning. We should use more efficient light bulbs, the reality is that they may end up polluting the earth after their use.  So which is worse, the light bulb that lasts longer and uses less electricity, but is worse when it is discarded or one that uses more electricity but doesn't contain heavy metals?  Even I'm confused over that issue.  Catch 22.

The moral of the story is to do what you can do, we all can conserve.  First reduce your overall usage, then re-use all you can, then re-cycle everything else.  Infinite consumption is the death of us all. 
7 years ago
I think the success of such a community would be in the people being like minded, even tempered, and yes, you still need rules. 

I have often thought that a modern commune-type community could really work.  It could be an apartment building with large communal space.  A small working farm with kitchen gardens etc, decided upon by the residents.  Each person has their own apartment, so separate private space, yet groups have large spaces for gathering, maybe with a court-yard and gardens for good weather etc.  It would be amazing to have that many hands to butcher and wrap meat and for canning the tons of tomatoes each year.

Everyone would vote on issues and pay towards the upkeep of the grounds etc based on their rent.  The less rent, the more work each person would have to contribute.  The more rent, the less work etc.  Bartering would be open between residents.  Someone can watch anothers child for something else, say cleaning their apartment, in return.
The grounds can be kept up by residents for a decrease in rents paid, if no one wants to shovel snow, they vote and the money to hire outside help is paid by all equally.

I think it would be a good idea, my husband thought it would be a joke.  I think privacy is important.  I would not be able to stand being in the same house with a person who was emotional or angry all the time.  I'm just too sensitive to the energies of other people.  It would be great to divide the work of a house/farm among other people, and especially the cooking!!  But at the end of the day I need a private place to be, away from people, that is very important to me.

However the work to be done would be more pleasurable with people around to help and commune with.

7 years ago
Well, there are two ways of thinking on this.  Do you A. want to be prepared for a temporary glitch in the grid (natural disaster, electrical grid issue, pandemic, temporary disruption in fuel availability etc) or, B. do you want to live a prepared sustainable lifestyle?

So, 3 months of food is a great start for scenario A. The basic, take care of yourself if something bad, but temporary happens.  Batteries, weather radio, meals-ready-to-eats, canned goods, toilet paper, drinking water, pack of cards.  Don't forget the manual can opener!!!

However, it really depends on how long you think you will need to feed yourself and your family.  If you live a lifestyle that you support yourself with little outside help (rice, coffee, sugar, salt) then you won't need to panic is something small or medium happens.  If something big is on it's way a SHTF scenario, then you need to think more about security of you and your garden. 

I have been moving towards sustainability for more than 10 years.  Really all my life, if I would have just listened to my Grandmother all those years ago.  It's been a slow change, and I'm not 100% there, but I'm working on getting the garden soil in better shape to produce more for me.

The first thing to do, before you go and spend that $200 in food is know where and how to store food.  It isn't about storing some canned goods and letting them sit until you need them, you need to rotate your stock and you need to know what you are up against with food storage.

The best place is cool and dry and dark.  A north corner of a basement is ideal.  But, surf around the web and you will read all the inventive ways people store food.  You want to prevent rodents, insects and molds.  Hence cool and dry.  Mice will chew through anything but glass, so everything I store is in glass.  I also have found a type of plastic tub, very popular in the big box stores that has a lid that isn't just on top, but it fits down a little.  I used to buy them at Wal-Mart, but they don't carry them anymore, so I have to pay more to find them (made by Rubbermaid) at Lowe's.  When I used different tubs to store things when we were moving I found others with mice droppings inside, but these never had mice inside them.  If I use the vacuum sealer, I then store everything in these tubs.

Insects will infest anything in a bag or box eventually.  Once you have flour weevils or pantry moths they are hell to get rid of.  Again, glass and rotate-rotate-rotate your stock. 

Mold.  Mostly from damp conditions and improperly canned foods.  Keep your pantry clean and before storing ANY home canned foods always wash the finished jars with a bleach and soap or vinegar and soap solution.

Next, before you spend ANY money, sit down with paper and write down how your family eats.  You won't find any use from 25-pounds of dried black beans if you don't know how to cook them and no one likes to eat them.  If you prefer rice over pasta, then stock up on rice.  If no one likes rice, the stock up on pasta.  Remember don't store the pasta in the cardboard box, but transfer to a gallon glass jar with a few bay leaves in the jar to help keep away any buggies.

So, do you know how to cook?  If I gave you a head of cabbage, an onion and some dried sausage can you make dinner?  If not, then maybe your stored food needs to sway toward low-tech food prep.  In the meantime, learn to cook, your options will be more open if you can buy bulk ingredients and turn them into different meals with fresh gathered from the garden. 

Okay, now go shopping.  Make sure you pick up some mason jars and keep your dried goods in them.  If you can re-use large gallon glass jars, that is best.  I buy the glass jars with pickles in them.  I don't really like pickles, but my mother LOVES them.  I slice up the pickles for her and then wash the jar and let it air out so everything doesn't taste/smell like pickles.  My husband thought I was nuts until I showed him how much it would cost, with shipping for empty gallon glass jars.   

Once you have things purchased and stored, be sure to rotate.  Yes, you still eat your stored foods, and you buy some more so you have a supply on the shelf, but you have fresh coming in and being placed in the back.  This way you aren't just putting it on a shelf and expecting it to be fresh and tasty 10 years from now.

If you are looking at a lifestyle, the best food storage (food to space ratio) is de-hydrated food.  It also doesn't need freezer space.  You need a food dehydrator and some knowledge.  Google searches will bring you to sites and people who have some great knowledge to share for free.  A vacuum sealer is next and learn about gardening.  If you can't garden, get to know local farmer markets to stock your shelves for winter.

If you are interested in gardening, then there is an author who grows year round in Maine, Elliot Coleman.  It can be done! 

If you are going in full force, don't forget to stock up on sanitation.  Soap, vinegar, salt, lemon juice in bottles, bleach.  Food is great, but if you can't clean up and kill germs then you can make yourself sick. 

Google and you will be amazed how many people are freely giving ideas on this subject.  Sometimes the red pill is the hardest to swallow.  Make lists and welcome.

7 years ago
As an Esoteric Pagan myself I am very happy with rural Pennsylvania.  But I also don't advertise.  People who know me personally know my belief structure, but I don't go out of my way to scream and shout.

I went to college in West Virginia.  I was very naive and I thought that college was a place of progressive thought.  Not when it came to religion.  I couldn't believe how fast my "friends" became witch-hunting haters when they discovered I didn't hold Christian beliefs.    This was 25 years ago, so hopefully things have grown.

I have met other Pagans here and there, but I am not a joiner, so I don't go looking for like minded people.  I do keep my big mouth shut.  Some good "love your neighbor" Christians become nasty torch bearing haters very quickly, even this day and age.  I pulled my daughter out of her school district and we moved to get her out of a school that didn't discipline children OR teachers that harassed her openly about not being Christian.   She is agnostic, and that isn't acceptable to some. 

I do think that the Pagan communities are growing, and I wish you the best in your search.  West Virginia is a beautiful state.


We will never have freedom of religion, until we can have freedom FROM religion.
7 years ago
It's not even what they will or won't eat, sometimes it's just the taste they take that will wreck your garden.  One or two pecks on a almost ready to pick squash destroys it's ability to store.  I had a few get out this year and they "tasted" the cucumbers, making them rot before they were ripe. 

Mine will eat tomatoes and lettuce and spinach.  They will eat baby broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower plants to the ground.  They will peck at the flowers and baby bush beans, and take just enough bites from squash and cukes to ruin them.  Also, just the scratching around a fresh bed will ruin it if you have just seeded etc. 

When I let the girls into the garden in the fall and spring my garlic beds are always off limits, and I fence them out.  When I plant the garlic I cover the bed with chopped leaves and then lay a plastic mesh fencing over the top, held down with bricks.  In the spring the garlic grows up through the mesh, but I fence the chickens and remove the mesh before it's very big.  They don't eat the garlic, but they scratch and pull the cloves out and toss them to the side.  They do the same with onion sets in the spring.  They see one, Oh!!  pull it out, not what they thought it was, and move on, over and over.  I learned that the hard way.

7 years ago