What Seeds Have Taught Me

Seeds. I love seeds and the potential nourishment they represent. If the truth were to be told, I have too many seeds, so some of them age past their prime and lose viability before they have the opportunity to grow. A waste? Yes, could be, but like our preparations, I would rather have too many, than wish I had something grow because we were hungry. Frank has heard me say many times that seeds are worth more than gold. The food that seeds provide can keep us alive. If there are no seeds to be had, all the gold in the world is worthless.

I am grateful that we have had the last seven years here to learn the climate, soil conditions, pests and temperature variations. No two years have had the same weather conditions, which has offered even more to learn. Our first two gardens were grown under extreme drought conditions. This past year we lost some of our hard earned topsoil to flooding, and it was so wet that seeds rotted in the ground.

During the first few years we tried growing the same varieties of vegetables we had grown else where, some did well and some did not. We experimented one year with about six or eight types of peppers, tomatoes and winter squashes. That gave us a very good idea of which ones would produce well here. Some of our favorites made the cut and some did not, fortunately we found better producing varieties that have now become our new favorites.

It took me three years to figure out how to grow lima beans only to discover we really didn’t like them. Until two years ago, I didn’t like fresh tomatoes. We started growing two old heirloom varieties, and surprisingly, I liked them. Frank has always liked tomatoes and he describes them as more acidic than many of the newer varieties. I have also discovered that my back cannot pick a row of bush beans. I just can’t do it. This has led to experiments with several types of pole beans until we found one that we really enjoy, that produces well into the fall.

I wish I could figure out how to grow a head of cabbage. I even wrote an article about it. And onions. Those are things I will continue to work on because we eat a lot of both. I also need to be more diligent at saving our seeds. It has always been easier for me to order seeds instead of planning ahead for seed saving. There will come a time when the only seeds we have will be the ones we save, so this is not a skill for me to continue avoiding or neglecting. 

The greenhouse has given us a whole new learning experience in growing food. As would be expected, the cool weather crops are happier than those that like the heat of summer. We have picked one yellow squash and the tomatoes are blooming, but with 38* lows at night, I don’t expect much from them. I will soon be planting seedlings in the greenhouse. The window I’ve used for the past few years has now been replaced by the greenhouse entrance and I find that to be very comforting. I’m excited about the greatly expanded room to grow many more seedlings that won’t be leggy and leaning over sideways in an attempt to reach the sunlight. I’ll be learning much more about the timing for growing, hardening off and planting these seedlings.

There are many beautiful seed catalogs arriving in the mail now days. They all have something to offer that is new, different or interesting, but I have found a company that has a very wide variety of quality products for a fraction of the cost. With few exceptions, we order our seeds from R.H. Shumway’s, which I have no affiliation with, except as a very satisfied customer. Their catalog is not shiny and showy, but it is packed full of seeds and information.  I would highly recommend them.


So, what have the seeds taught me? Patience, diligence, responsibility, the power of observation and learning, conditions for success, hard work usually pays off, and that hope springs eternal in the miracle of germination and growth. In a recent article I said, Our future will be one of incredibly hard work, grubbing in the dirt for our survival.” That’s what seeds mean to me. Life. Survival. I am continually fascinated that one tiny little seed can produce so much food. In the coming days if you have a few seeds and a shovel to spare, a man could help feed his family. Do you have enough seeds for this year, and the next, and the next?

If you are new to your area, or plan to go somewhere else when the SHTF, do you know someone that can help you with invaluable information about local growing conditions and varieties that produce? When is the average first and last frost date? What insect pests cause the most destruction? Do you know how to deal with them without running down to the local garden center for a fix? Has the soil been turned and worked? Is it fertile enough to support the production you need? There are so many things to learn and know before those seeds will turn into food. I have read many places that people feel prepared to replenish their food supply because they have a can of survival seeds. Unless these people have figured out, and made accommodations for many of the things I have mentioned, they will starve. Not that these cans of seeds are a bad idea or contain inferior products, but the conditions necessary for adequate food production are dependent upon so many factors that the odds are stacked against them. 
 

Grace’s garden


We have a friend, Grace, that gardens just a few miles down the road. She can grow things we cannot. We have pests she doesn’t, and she has some we don’t. Conditions can change quickly, from location to location, as well as year to year..

What have you learned from your seeds? Please share with us because we are all in this together. Any knowledge we can glean now, before it is a vital means of survival will be of great benefit. As soon as I get back the use of these two hands I will be rolling up a new batch of pot makers and planting them in the greenhouse. I can’t wait.

Until next time – Fern
 

What’s Growing in the Greenhouse? Volume 2

The plants in the greenhouse are growing quite well, so I thought it was time to give you an update. Over the past few nights we have had our first cold weather of the year. Saturday night the low was 28* outside, and since we still have electricity and didn’t want to lose the plants we have growing, we put a small space heater out in the greenhouse for the night. The low in the greenhouse that night was 43* with the heater running. An hour or so after daylight when the outside temperature had risen to 39* and we had turned off the heater, it was 66* in the greenhouse because of the sunlight. It warms quickly once the sun is up. We also ran the heater last night when the low was 31*. The plants would have probably been fine without the heater last night, but we are so happy with all of the growth and potential food, that we didn’t want to take the chance. 

 

Before the cold weather hit, we removed the exhaust fan and covered the four vents with plywood.

 

 

Generally, the temperature next to the wall of the house continues to stay about 10* warmer than the surrounding shelves overnight and all of the plants, with the exception of the okra which is a real heat loving plant, 

appear to be happy. During the day, we open the screen on the door, or the door itself when the temperatures inside reach around 85* or so. We just have to remember to shut everything back down about 3:30 or 4:00 pm once the sun reaches the point where cooling begins to occur. It continues to be a great learning process. We still think the cool weather plants will do well with the thermal mass of the water barrels. The warm weather plants might not make it, but there would still be food to eat. 

Here is the latest tour of the plants.

Sweet pepper dug from the garden

Tomatoes

Buttercup winter squash

Cucumbers

Green beans

Onions

Okra with comfrey leaves for fertilizer

Collard greens

Mesclun greens

Romaine that has been picked a lot

Tansy lettuce & endive

Comfrey that has been picked several times

Strawberries

Lettuce that has never been very happy

Mustard spinach that grows very well. We’ve picked it a lot.

Spinach, we’ll be picking soon

Beets

Broccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Brussels sprouts

Turnip greens

Celery

Potatoes

 

Cabbage

Kale

Basil

Thyme

Stevia

Coriander

Lemon Balm

Dill

Oregano

Austrian Winter Peas

Jalapeno from the garden

Potato

My first experience with hand pollinating has been with the yellow squash.
 

Yellow squash on the left

Male flower collecting pollen

Female flower receiving pollen

Squash that was pollinated one week later

The muskmelon has had some problems with powdery mildew. One of my books recommended comfrey tea spray which I have been using for a few days. It seems to be gradually diminishing, but not before it affected the yellow squash next door as well.

Powdery mildew

Muskmelon on right next to the yellow squash

The muskmelon has had many male flowers.

I think this will be the first female flower on the muskmelon I have found.

 

Today I picked lettuce, spinach, winter peas, sweet peppers and onions for a salad. We still have a few tomatoes left from the garden, and I added some of our cheddar cheese.
 

There is not a lot of food to harvest yet, but there is a lot of potential. We’ve had a few small servings of cooked turnip, collard and beet greens which we’ve really enjoyed, and we really look forward to eating squash again, in the winter no less. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue learning how to produce more food.

Until next time – Fern
 

What’s Growing in the Greenhouse? Volume 1

Well, we did it. We actually built a greenhouse after 30 years of dreams and plans. Dreams really do come true, and they are appreciated all the more when the wait is long. To be honest, it still doesn’t seem real to me even though I tend the plants here everyday. Recently I had lots of fun, when I added another 18 pots of stuff, some alive and kicking from the yard, and some with newly planted seeds.

We decided to continue using our former seedling tables for planting, this is where the messes will be made. The set up is great, there is lots of room for dirt, gravel, pots, tubs and such, at first we were thinking that everything would move into the greenhouse, but not now. We’ve already started to wonder if the greenhouse is too small, when at first it didn’t look like we could possibly fill the shelves. It is quite the interesting learning process. I can only imagine the other changes we will make along the way.

I started out my planting foray by digging up some things from the garden and herb bed. I realized today that I missed getting some marjoram, which we have really come to enjoy. I will get some in the next few days and add one more pot to the greenhouse shelves, for now. My digging adventure turned up a number of things.

More potatoes from the garden
Comfrey

Mustard greens
Lemon Balm
Creeping Thyme
Two year old celery
Oregano

Tiger decided we needed to have a discussion while I was putting these plants in pots. 

 

Next came the seeds, more pots, and more trips to the greenhouse.

 

I have to admit, it looks pretty neat in here. With more pots on the top shelf to water, I started using the step stool. I am tall, 5’9″, and watering a few plants is not a problem, but now that there are a lot more, it’s time to ‘step up’ to the task.

I have been reading about hand pollination since we have a number of plants that will need help. Since I have several different cucurbits (squashes, cucumbers, muskmelon) growing, and I don’t want to cross pollinate them, each plant will have it’s own paint brush for this task. When I told Frank I needed some paintbrushes he reminded me there were some in the garage. It’s nice to go no farther than one of your own shelves when you need something.


We have picked some lettuce and spinach for salads. I even trimmed some greens from the onions once. We’ve also picked a few turnip greens, but that’s all so far. I don’t think it will be long before the pickings will be increasing, and that will be a real treat, especially as the days get shorter and cooler. Here is what’s growing in the greenhouse.

Onions
Collard greens


Comfrey
Romaine that is going to seed.
Lettuce
Strawberries from the garden thanks to a reader.
Spinach
More Turnips
Turnips
Brussels sprouts
Broccoli
Cabbage

Carrots in tub #1
Carrots in tub #2
Beets

As I prepared some of the new seeds and plants, I began to wonder where I would put them. Some of these plants thrive in cooler weather, so I thought about putting them on the floor. Even though the concrete will help with some heating via solar mass and ground temperatures, I could picture these plants going dormant because of the cold air that settles to the floor. At first I thought about raising them off the floor with concrete blocks, but they would be cold as well. I settled for scrap blocks of wood from some of our building projects, hoping the wood would not conduct the cold as much as a concrete block. We’ll have to see how this theory pans out. This also utilizes more of the space we have in the greenhouse.

Austrian Winter Peas in the tub, new potato plants in the pot
Celery from the herb bed
The first potatoes from the garden
Mustard greens
Okra, which is a hot weather plant. We really don’t expect it to produce.

The area next to the wall of the house contains the plants that prefer hot weather and/or need a trellis. So far with night time temperatures in the 40’s occasionally, this area tends to be around 10 degrees warmer than the main shelf by the outside wall. We are very interested to see how this will work out with freezing temperatures. Since the nights are not down to freezing and the temperatures inside heat up quickly on sunny days, we have not closed down any of the vents yet. Frank has a plan for easily opening and closing the vents as needed.
 

Back row: Green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers
Front row: ginger, buttercup squash, turmeric

Yellow squash

 

Muskmelon

The yellow squash and muskmelon are in the center of the room. So far, they are very happy. The squash will be blooming soon. I hope to be able to wind the muskmelon around on the table top as it grows.
 

The herbs, a few greens and some flowers, have found homes on the top row of shelves. When I was looking for herb seeds, I ran across some Thumbelina Zinnia, Livingston Daisies, Dandelions and Moss Rose (which we have always called rose moss), and just couldn’t resist having a few flowers in here.

2 kinds of Kale
Rose Moss
Zinnias
Mesclun Mixed Greens

 

Creeping Thyme

The almost dead Stevia is coming out again.

Oregano
Lemon Balm with a dandelion

It’s hard to imagine how growing these things may affect our diets, especially in a survival situation. This truly is our survival greenhouse. We have much to learn, and a short time to do it. There will be failure and there will be success, but most of all, I hope there is food.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 14

Well, let’s see, what have we been up to lately? Bunches. Last week we got a comment that accused us of putting the youngsters to shame with all of the work we’ve been doing. It struck me as kind of funny at the time, and I’ve thought about it a couple of times since then. Because of that comment, I thought I’d let you know that the two men that are doing most of the hard work around here, Frank and Henry, are 65 and 60 years old, respectively. This little tid bit of information may motivate someone out there, so I thought I would share. As for the woman here? I’m 56.

The ditch we showed you last week looks exactly the same as it did then, except we ran a soaker hose across the yard where the rest of the ditch is to be dug. Emmet has been back since this ditch was

started, but during that visit he dug a different ditch, the one between these two buildings, and about half of it was done in the dark by lantern light. The one picture I tried to take showed too much of Emmet’s face, so I didn’t keep it. After the ditch was dug, Frank and Emmet ran 12/2 in conduit connecting the two buildings. And then there was light. Inside that is. Frank did his first night time tractor driving and covered up

the ditch with the bucket. He didn’t like it much, he prefers the visibility daylight provides instead. So now we have temporary power to these two buildings. Temporary because the solar panel installation will provide the power to these buildings in the long run.

 

Today Frank and Henry finished installing the braces and brackets for the new antenna towers. There is one on the garage, one on the garden shed and one on the house by the current antenna pole. Frank has been determining the angle of attachment because these towers will fold over at the bottom so they can be laid down to install or work on antennas. This has taken a lot of planning, plus acquiring some needed equipment and accessories. We will continue to give you updates on how this project is progressing.

 

 

As you can tell from the picture on the header, the concrete for the outdoor kitchen was installed last week. I have to tell you, watching Henry mix the concrete bag after bag made me tired. That was a lot of work, but it went quickly and smoothly. Frank brought the bags of concrete over in the bucket of the tractor so no one had to lift them. We kept water in a five gallon bucket for Henry to pour into the wheelbarrow, which saved time and effort as well.

Here is the first appliance for the outdoor kitchen. Neat, huh? It is neat and exciting to think about completing this project and having a functional, no-grid, rather primitive kitchen right off the back porch. But when I really stop and think about using it out of necessity in a survival scenario, the neat factor drops like a rock. This kitchen has not been conceived, nor created to invite friends over to enjoy tea and crumpets. I picture processing vegetables and meat out here, washing clothes and fixing breakfast before a hard days work. It’s rather daunting, actually.

 

Last week our friend Grace let me know there were some local pears ripe and available. There are folks that have pear trees, but aren’t using the pears. One gentleman’s tree is loaded and they are falling by the dozens to the ground. Yesterday instead of butchering and canning chickens, I went and got pears, five 5 gallon buckets full of pears. Guess what I

Washed pears in the sunrise that’s peeking in the backdoor.

did today? Yep, but I only got started. So far we have 21 quarts of canned pears. We did it a little different this time, no sugar (just like the peaches), and no peeling. When we had finished canning peaches a month or so ago, one person commented that they don’t peel their fruit before they can it. I thought that sounded great and read about other folks doing the same thing, so that’s what I did. Aren’t they beautiful? And there are lots left to put way. I hope to have them finished by the weekend.

 

We have had some cold nights this week, into the 40’s. This was the first ‘cold’ test for the greenhouse and the water barrels we are using for the thermal mass. The first night it got down to 47*, the greenhouse against the wall was 59*. Yea! That is where the tomatoes, peppers, ginger, potatoes and turmeric are living. The temperature on the thermometers along the outside wall read 54*. Another yea! That’s when I discovered that I hadn’t thought to close the screen at the top of the storm door on the greenhouse. That may have kept it even warmer in there. The plants are happy, even when it gets over 100* most afternoons. It is supposed to cool off, even for the highs later in the week. Today it got up to 97*, it was a hot day.

Beets
Carrots

Cabbage
Brocolli

Brussel sprouts
Muskmelon

Squash

Onions!

Spinach

Since I have been watering the plants in the greenhouse almost everyday, I thought it would be good to use the water well that is right next door. This water well has a Simple Pump installed that works very well, it’s just that we haven’t been using it at all. When I pumped some water out of it the other day it smelled awful, so today I put about half a gallon of bleach in it. We’ll let it sit for a couple of days then pump water out of it until the bleach smell is gone. It will be an easy walk with my watering can back and forth to the well. I figure it is a good time to get the well into good working condition since we may be using it regularly before long. I wiped down the main rod to remove any dust and grime. Before I use it again I will clean and lubricate the rod again with olive oil.

 

For now, I am filling the watering can with the hose and rural water supply. I have also been ‘watering’ the clothesline poles for several days. It is really dry here and it hasn’t rained since we put the poles in the ground with the dry concrete. I have watered each pole a number of times, several days apart. I’m ready to use it, it just isn’t ready to be used yet.

 

 

 

I almost forgot to tell you. Monday when Frank and Henry were finishing up shelving and braces in preparation for working on the antenna towers, I tore the carpet out of the bedroom. This

house has old, old, about 35 year old shag carpet in the bedroom, hallway and living room. Did I tell you it’s old? Well, last weekend Frank took up a small piece of the bedroom carpet, just to see what was underneath. That showed me what to do. I thought it would take quite a while and be difficult. It took less than an hour and was a breeze. The hardest part was moving the mattress out into the

hallway and back, and that wasn’t difficult. Now we have a somewhat uneven, paint splotched and stained in some places, plywood bedroom floor. It’s great! We haven’t decided what we’re going to do with it next, but there’s no hurry. We’re just glad to have the carpet and everything that was living in it out of our bedroom.

After I finished with the carpet, I snapped a few green beans I had picked over the weekend and thawed out the gallon bag of cowpeas I had put in the freezer over the summer. Out came the canner and they all went in together even though the green beans only require 25 minutes to can and the cowpeas require 40 minutes. I ended up with three pints of green beans and 10 pints of cowpeas. It sure is nice to have a few more jars of food on the shelf.

There is an interesting article on The Economic Collapse today that Frank ran across, The Numbers Say That a Major Global Recession Has Already Begun. We know that not everybody follows the markets, but we’re all invested heavily, one way or another. Please pay attention. And if you can or would, please pray for the Middle East. Things are not looking good there. Do you think the world economy and the Middle East problems might be connected? Certainly food for thought. A couple of extra cans of green beans might come in handy some day. You just never know when the stores might not be there.

Life continues to rush by at break neck speed. It’s amazing how much we are getting done and how much is yet to be completed. We have never worked this hard and accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. Ever. It’s quite fascinating. This afternoon after Frank and Henry had quit for the day and we were waiting for the last batch of pears to be finished, Frank and I talked about how hard we have been working. I told him we are practicing for what is to come, when there won’t be a choice of working hard all day or not. It’s hard work, it’s good practice and it’s providing us with many things that will make life a little easier. There is nothing like experience for learning. It’s your turn, do, learn, and experience. It will get you one step closer to being as ready as you can.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 11

Outside of butchering seven of our ‘teenage’ roosters a couple of days ago, there isn’t much new to report. We were glad to get five of these roosters in the freezer since our meat supply is literally down to nothing in there. We have quite a bit of meat walking around on the hoof or foot, but the freezer is looking very bare. It reminds me of stories about folks that went out and grabbed up a chicken when meat was needed for a meal. It was killed, dressed and cooked for that day’s food. Refrigeration has really changed the way we are able to live. I have given quite a bit of thought to what it will be like to live without refrigeration again. It sounds much more difficult and not near as convenient as we have it now. Something to ponder. How will you keep things cold or cool that need refrigeration to prevent spoilage and extend the life of your food?

We’ve had a nice little rain today which has helped cool things off. We had planned to butcher the last seven teenage roosters today, but it was 96* by 11:30 this morning. This evening we will have a cold front come through that will make the temperatures much more comfortable, thus it will be easier to work outside.

Our dear friend Faith, that bought some of our goats, took a very bad fall last week. She will be undergoing some reconstructive surgery to her face this week and we would appreciate it if you would keep her and her family in your prayers.

Frank and I have had many conversations about how to set up the greenhouse and all of the possibles that go with that process. As the temperatures start to cool down, it will be easier to work in there. It’s very interesting to see how quickly the temperature rises once the sun reaches over the tree tops and touches the walls. Very interesting. 

We have had a question or two about the exterior sheathing on the greenhouse. When Grace came to visit after we had the sheathing up she looked at it, looked at me and said, “What are you going to put over it?” She explained that she wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but it was something more than what it is. The exterior of the greenhouse is a product called Tuftex. Frank did a lot of research on this product before we decided to use it. The type we chose is called Poly Carb which is described on their website like this: “TUFTEX PolyCarb corrugated panels are our toughest building panel. Made with a polycarbonate thermoplastic polymer in an octagonal-wave profile, TUFTEX PolyCarb corrugated panels are 20 times stronger than 5 oz. fiberglass corrugated panels and are designed to withstand a wide range of surface temperatures: 270° F to -40° F.” Lowe’s carried some Tuftex, but we had them order what we needed to have enough of the right type, colors and lengths. We used the translucent white on the roof and clear on the sides. Until we put the barrels in there, from some angles you couldn’t tell the walls were up. It will be very exciting to look at it and see plants inside, especially when we get it full of plants! I know I have said this before, but it will be a real treat to walk out there in the winter and pick something to eat. I think I will be worse than a kid in a candy shop.

It’s about time to make cheese since the frig is filling with milk. It will be mozzarella this time since the cheese frig is full of cheddar. We still haven’t tried to make cottage cheese again yet, but we will. It’s about time to make bread, too. I have set out the whole wheat sourdough starter to feed and lower the acidity level before I use it. Now days after I feed the starter for a few days, I pour half of it into the pig bucket instead of the chicken bucket. The chickens never did like it much, but you know what they say about pigs, they’ll eat just about anything. Except jalapenos. They don’t like them very much. Or really big, hard okra pods. Either they don’t like them, or they are just too hard to eat, I’m not sure which.

Since I tried our milking machine and didn’t like what it did to the goat’s teats, I haven’t tried it again. What I have done is really pay attention to my milking technique. Over the years I had developed a certain rhythm that was comfortable and seemed to be effective. Now I pay more attention to making sure I get as much milk out with each squeeze as I can. This is causing me to slow down some, but requires fewer squeezes per doe. I don’t know if this has made a difference with the arthritis in my hands or not, but I do know that I can straighten my bent finger out more than I could without working on it to do so. Interesting. I have also been told I have trigger finger on the same hand and same finger. Does anyone know of a natural way to deal with this? Grace told me her sister had it and wore a finger guard for a week and that fixed it. I haven’t tried that yet.

I have also started drinking apple cider vinegar with the mother in it, with local honey in warm water. This should help some of the sinus issues I have been having, as well as the arthritis. I hope. I used to do this everyday for years until it made my teeth hurt. The vinegar I used back then didn’t have the mother in it, though. This time I will make sure I rinse my mouth well with water after I drink it to protect my teeth. I’ve even thought about adding a bit of the canned garlic we have to the mix. Vinegar, honey and garlic are all very good for the body, so it couldn’t hurt any. I don’t mind the taste of vinegar and honey at all, I’m just not sure how the garlic would taste with it. Probably pretty good if you ask me.

We continue to eat our sauerkraut everyday. The portions are bigger than they used to be, and if there is a day we don’t have any, we miss it. When we first started eating it, there were several people that commented about how our taste preferences would change and that we would really enjoy fermented food. You know what? You were exactly right. We do really enjoy the sauerkraut and the health benefits it provides as part of our daily diet. 

We will be starting another project later on in the week that I will be showing you before long [it’s not the outhouse]. It is very exciting to have so many long term plans coming together. There is also a feeling that time is short to get some of these things completed. Frank and I talk about making plans as if there isn’t a collapse coming also, just in case. But at the same time we know it is coming, so we have to plan for that eventuality. Like I said last time, wishing won’t make it so. Just the other evening as we were getting ready for bed I asked Frank, “So where are we going to put the outhouse?” Another one of our recurring discussions. We still haven’t decided on a location.

Hello everybody, Frank here. The immigrant issues that are happening in Europe will soon be knocking on our doors here at home. There have been mass forced immigrant movements all through history. One of my grandfathers came to America around 1900 as a very young boy. His family was forced out of Russia. It has happened for centuries, and it could happen here just as easily as it has happened there. It’s easy to be cynical, but the fact is, people are being dislocated and they are willing to die or drown to escape wherever they are. It has to be horrible. Don’t kid yourself that it can’t happen right here. As we speak, there is a quiet exodus from the drought ridden areas of California. Towns there are shutting down. No joke. We are about to see many people, many more than are already coming here, from the areas affected by this forced relocation. It’s just one more thing that is happening. Is it a diversion? Could be. You decide. But you’d better get prepared. Frank

Now take Frank’s commentary and apply it to a collapse scenario where thousands of people are trying to escape the riots and starvation of our major cities. People that are desperate for water, food and shelter for themselves and their families. What happens when there are hundreds of them walking down the road where you live? I see the pictures of the Syrian people walking through Hungary, and that’s what I see. Hungry people, desperate to escape the carnage behind them, with hopes of assistance awaiting them at their destination. In a collapse situation there is no assistance awaiting them. I really think some people in smaller towns will actually go to the cities in search of government assistance. We’ve all heard the stories about FEMA camps and the rounding up of people to ‘keep them safe’. Don’t get on the bus. 

What I keep seeing when I look at the Syrian refugees are groups of people at the gate demanding water, food, shelter and assistance. There is no way we can feed them. We’re far enough off the beaten path that there probably won’t be many folks walking down this road, but I can see it happening all over the country. What are you going to do if a group of demanding people show up at your door or gate demanding the things you have prepared for your family? If you turn them away angry they will just come back with reinforcements. It is something Frank and I discuss regularly. If you feed one group they will tell the others and the next day there will be 10 groups, then 20, then 40, then 100. Before the last group arrives you will be out of food and desperate yourself. Then what? We can only pray we will never be faced with this situation. But part of being prepared, probably the most important part, is being mentally prepared. You need to have an answer to that question. What are you going to do?

Frank will be doing another article before long that will address some of this mental preparation. What he will discuss is a very difficult topic that will require very difficult decisions and actions from all of us, but one that should be discussed and thought about. Do all you can to have your family ready for what is about to befall us all. Remember, we would rather be prepared fools than unprepared fools. One minute too late, is just that. Too late.

Until next time – Fern

Gardening As If Your Life Depends On It

You may remember the article a week or so back titled, Survival Gardening Scenario. Well folks, the reason I wrote that is because I truly feel like we are living out that scenario in real life right now. There are so many indicators of catastrophic events that are almost on our doorstep, that I feel a great sense of urgency to

continue planting and growing as much food for Frank and I, as well as some for our animals, as I can. Normally I would not be turning new ground and planting new crops at the end of June. By now the summer is heating up and it’s much easier to sit in the house in the heat of the day, nice and cool in an air conditioned building, sipping coffee and reading this and that on the internet. But this is not the case on our homestead this year. Frank is pursuing completion of a number of projects as quickly as he can. Not only will these projects provide us with water, food, and comfort, they are investments in our survival. We can keep the money in the bank and lose it all in the coming world wide financial meltdown, or we can invest it in ways that will make our survival physically easier for us when the time comes.

We realize that not everyone is able to grow a garden because of location, physical limitations or restrictions where they live. There are other ways of insuring an adequate food supply for your family if you are in this situation. Please consider the message of this article in whatever situation you find yourself.

I want to share an article that Micheal Snyder, from The Economic Collapse, published today titled Lindsey Williams, Martin Armstrong and Alex Jones All Warn About What Is Coming In The Fall of 2015. I strongly recommend you read it and watch the videos. This is just one source of warning among many that the thin, fragile fabric that holds our world together is unraveling at an alarming pace. Mr. Snyder begins his article with these words. “Not since the financial crash of 2008 have so many prominent people issued such urgent warnings about a specific time period.  Almost daily now, really big names are coming out with chilling predictions about what they believe is going to happen during the second half of 2015.  But it isn’t just that these people have a “bad feeling” about things.  The truth is that we are witnessing a confluence of circumstances and events in the second half of this year that is unprecedented.  This is something that I covered in a previous article that went mega-viral all over the Internet entitled “7 Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September“.  Personally, I have never been more concerned about any period of time than I am about the second half of 2015.  And as you will see below, I am definitely not alone.

So, with all of that said, here is how our garden is doing. Over the past few days I have made a substantial dent in the crabgrass and weed population

out there. I recently had a phone call from a gardening friend that also feels a great sense of urgency about producing as much food as she can this summer. Last summer both she and I were hopelessly overwhelmed by the weeds that overtook parts of our gardens. The other day she proudly announced that she was keeping on top of the weeds and continuing to plant more and more. When her teenager asked why they had to plant so much, she was told to think of it as the only food they would have to eat for the winter. Chilling statement? I don’t think so. I think it is wise council. Well, I can’t say all of the weeds and grass are gone, but I have made some very good progress. Here is a run down of most of our crops.

A couple of days ago I harvested five smallish heads of cabbage and shredded them for another batch of sauerkraut. It wasn’t enough so I added one store bought head to fill up the crock. We took the kraut that was in the crock out and filled up four quart jars which are now being stored in a dark corner of the pantry. I’m sorry, but I didn’t take any pictures of the harvest or processing. Honestly, I have been doing a lot of things lately that I haven’t taken the time to take pictures for you. Until we started blogging I was never much of a picture taker, and now I feel guilty if I forget to take some for the blog. When I was out planting today, I stopped and came in and got the camera just so you would have something to look at in this post. Over the next few days I will start pulling the rest of the broccoli and cabbage plants and feeding them to the chickens, goats and pigs. Surprisingly, two of the broccoli plants finally put on small heads last week. Having broccoli produce heads in the hot summer of June is really unheard of here. It’s been a weird weather year. And yet, if you read Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution, you will find that late summer events are already happening in northern Idaho. Leigh at 5 Acres & A Dream is also having very dry weather over by the Appalachians, which has affected her garden. Weird weather all around the country.

 

The cowpeas are really producing. They are much happier now that they have been released from their overcrowded condition caused by a tremendous amount of crabgrass. This particular section was really overgrown and I feel much better now that I have it weeded.

The okra I replanted for the third time, between the rows of cowpeas are growing very well. And now that this area is weeded, they should really take off in this hot weather they prefer.

 

Our Cushaw squash is growing and producing very well. A few plants have died due to squash vine borers or rotting. I will replant these hills tomorrow to increase our yield. They are prolific here, which is great. They are good keepers and provide a lot of nutrition for both humans and animals.

 

 

We had our first mess of green beans last week. These plants are doing well. I am trying a new variety this year called the Missouri Wonder Bean. We’ll let you know what we think.

 
We have carrots growing here and there. Some by the collards and turnips, some on either side of the tomato trellis and some on either side of the green bean trellis. I think we will have a good amount to can this summer, which is very good.

 

 

Some of our yellow squash plants are doing well, and some aren’t. We have lost more of this variety than the others, so I will be replanting them as well. I would like to can as many pints as possible. I have canned squash for a couple of summers now and find them tasty and easy to use in many different dishes. We have been eating fresh squash for several weeks now, sauteed in butter with salt and pepper. It’s great!


Our tomatoes are doing good. This is another crop we will use to fill as many jars as we can. We will can plain tomatoes and salsa, which is what we use the most. An aside here. Last week we made chili from the tomato sauce we canned two years ago. You know what? It tasted sweet, even though we added no sweeteners at all. Since we have been on our low carb diet for over six months with no sugar at all, we were very surprised to find that the tomato sauce tasted sweet. Interesting.

We are growing Buttercup winter squash this year again. We have had good luck with them in the past, but not so this year. There are a few of them growing, but that’s it. It’s too bad too, because Buttercup tastes a lot like a sweet potato and they’re very good keepers. It looks like Cushaw will be the main winter squash crop.

The peppers I planted are finally growing, even though I lost a few more. I did buy two Jalapeno pepper plants just to make sure we had some. Since the cats stirred up the pepper plants like spaghetti before I got them planted, I’m not exactly sure what kind I have out here. I’m kinda sure that there are a few sweet pepper plants, Corno di Toro Red, a sweet Italian bullhorn that we really like, because they were the biggest plants in the tub before the cats got hold of them.

We still have beets growing here and there. I planted three short rows of beets, collards and spinach a few days ago since we don’t have enough of them. I also wanted to see how the collards will do in the hot summer. 

I pulled up about a quarter of the turnip patch the other day, then blanched and froze the greens. But first, I had to sort out all of the grass, weeds and bug eaten leaves. Sorry, no pictures. I will see if I can get the rest of them frozen this week. Then we will put up a trellis and plant more green beans.

The pinto beans in the new part of the garden are doing okay, but not great. They need to be weeded. In the next few days Frank is going to disc either side of this trellis again and I will be planting peanuts. It’s something we like to eat and they will help improve the soil in this new area of the garden.

I got out our Mantis tiller and worked over this end of the new garden section. I know it will be extra weedy and don’t expect the plants to do as well as the ones in the main garden, but I’m very, very glad we increased the size of our garden this year. Today I planted sunflowers and cowpeas. The purple hull peas we are growing vine out more than the black eyes we grew a few years ago. So this year I am trying to give them something to climb on. Here I planted cowpeas on either side of a row of sunflowers. We’ll see how that works.

This afternoon Frank brought down an old bale of hay for me to use as mulch in the garden. Now that I just about have a handle on the weeds, I will be mulching throughout the garden. This will help retain moisture, cool the roots of the plants in the hot summer, and help with weed control.

Next week as the barn lean-to project progresses, we will be working on the new garden area in the pasture again. It was put on hold because of all of the rain, then delayed again while we have the lean-to built onto the barn. I will be planting a variety of things in that pasture. The vegetables will have lots of competition with the weeds, and I won’t have as much time to tend that garden as the main one, so we will see how it produces. We will try to employ more hay mulch in this garden as well.

After the barn project is complete, the next project on the list is our greenhouse. I am very excited about this because it will provide us with the ability to grow food year round. We have never had a greenhouse or tried to grow food through the winter, so this will be a big learning curve for us. I already have a number of books and some supplies, but I’m sure there will be more to things to get that we haven’t thought of yet. I’ll take pictures of the process and explain our plans and reasoning behind them as the project unfolds.

There are many people that dismiss articles such as the one from Michael Snyder as doom and gloom. There are folks that make fun of preppers and homesteaders for the life style they have chosen to live. There are folks that accuse anyone that tries to prepare for a natural disaster or world wide calamity of being kin to Chicken Little running around exclaiming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” I agree with what Mr. Snyder said at the end of his article. If only it wasn’t so. If only we could keep sitting back in our air conditioned environment reading nice, comfy articles from the news and our blogger friends. But I truly believe it just ain’t gonna be so. There are too many different indicators that things are coming to a head. That our government is doing everything within it’s powers, which grow more everyday, to bring our country to it’s knees, negate any miniscule bit of freedom we have left and make our slavery to it’s wants, needs and desires complete. There are whisperings of war, World War, on the wind from different locations on the globe. The tensions among racial, ethnic and religious groups around the world are escalating in a way we haven’t seen or experienced before. The planet is like a giant powder keg just waiting for the perfect spark which will ignite a firestorm like we have never seen.

So, am I full of gloom and doom, shouting warnings about events that will never come to pass? Do I really need to be out there sweating and working like this food may mean life and death for Frank and I? Is it all for naught? I can only pray with all my heart that it is so.

Until next time – Fern