Seedlings in Peat Pods - SOTS

Have you started your garden yet?

Spring has arrived!

Peat pods seed tray - SOTSSo what does that mean? It means it’s time to start our gardens! Are you as excited as I am? I hope so! I am really excited because it’s not only time to start the garden, it’s time to start an all-new garden. Last fall, my family and I moved into our new place so this is going to be a new and fresh start for us. We are going to be starting from scratch so it’ll be a little bit of extra work. The first setup is always a little tougher. We are fortunate in that there are fruit trees here that are already producing. Most of them look about 3 to 6 years old, so that is definitely a plus! We don’t have to wait 5 or so years for the first fruit to come in. There are apple, pear and cherries and one of the cherry trees is probably 20 to 30 years old. It’s pretty big. Everything else is the younger stuff. As for the varieties? We don’t know yet, haven’t gotten that far.

Other than the trees, we have found one rhubarb plant, 3 blueberry bushes and a few garlics. So as far as the gardening is concerned, we’re working with a pretty blank slate. It’s gonna be fun!

So what are we doing?

Seedlings in Peat Pods - SOTSWe have decided that we’re going to install at least 3 raised beds as our main garden. They will measure 3 feet by 12 feet each and will be a foot deep.That should give us plenty of planting space, especially if we are doing intensively managed Square Foot Gardening. We’re getting them in a little bit late, but I think it’ll be fine. We already have a bunch of seedlings started indoors so we’re good. About four weeks ago, I planted (let’s test my memory):

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Leading by Example

Why do we try to change those around us? Whether we are doing so because we are close to them and love them and therefore want the best for them or we are trying to just get them into our camp, to get them on our side. Why do some many of us push and push instead of just showing others what can be done by doing it ourselves? Why do we not lead by example more and push less? If we really want people around us to follow our example, especially those we love, that is exactly what we should be doing.

Just show people what can be done

If I want to show how much your life can improve by becoming more self-reliant, I need to live a more self-reliant lifestyle, wouldn’t you say? When I go out to my garden and harvest all the greens and vegetables that we are going to eat that night, that action says more than if I were to just come down on someone for depending too much upon the food system. If we have friends over and they ask why our vegetables taste so much better than what they get at the grocery store, I can tell them that it’s because we grow them. Not only do we just grow them, we grow them for the nutrition and flavor, and not just to withstand weeks of transportation like commercial growers do. We grow them for our benefit, not solely for profit. I can also tell them how they can do it too. I can show them some good ways to start out and tell them of other benefits of producing at least some of what they eat.

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Toolbox

When something breaks, could you fix it?

Is that a strange question? If something in your house breaks, big or small, major or minor, could you fix it? Whether you could actually fix it or not, would you even try? Maybe that’s the question right there: would you try?

Do you try to fix something or do you “call a guy” to fix it?

I think this has to do with mindset just as much as skill, maybe more so. You may not know what you’re doing when the heating element goes out in your clothes dryer, but if you have the mindset of “I’m gonna damn well figure it out,” well, you’re probably gonna damn well figure it out. Especially in a time like today. You don’t even have to go down to the library to look up how to do something. Anything you could ever want to know has found its way onto the internet; from how to install a water heater to how to refinish a dining room table to how to build the table in the first place! The knowledge is out there and it is more accessible than ever before in the history of man. You just need to know where to look (which is not very hard) and you have to actually look for the information. Yes, you have to want to find it. You may laugh or think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. I know people that will use not knowing where to look for information as an excuse not to do something. Really? Type anything into any search engine and you will find something! Even if it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, it’s probably moving you in the right direction.

“I tried and it’s a no-go!”

So you tried it and you can’t figure it out. Well, you tried, you took whatever apart to get into it, but you either got stuck, you don’t have the tools you need, it’s just too complicated or dangerous and you

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Gasoline can closeup

How do I store fuel?

Today, I wanted to explore some different options for fuel storage. There are 101 reasons to store the fuels that you would normally rely on, which, now that I think about, would include firewood, pellets and coal. If you rely on wood or coal heat to get you through the winter, by all means, you should be storing plenty. I am going to go out on a limb and say that 99% of you already know that. I wanted to get into fuels of the more liquid variety.

So what kinds of fuels do you use?

  • Home heating oil – No. 2 heating oil
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Kerosene
  • Propane

How much do you rely on these different fuels?

Heating Oil Tank
Residential heating oil tank

Does your home require heating oil? If it does, how big is your oil tank? How long can you heat with oil before you need to have the tank refilled? If fairly large, you may not have to worry about this. If it is a smaller tank, you may have to weigh your options. Would it make more sense to buy a bigger tank? Or just know that you will be refilling it more often?

The same goes for heating with propane. If you have a 330 gallon tank, you may fill it 2 or 3 times in a winter, depending on the load. With a 1,000 gallon tank, you’re probably going to be fine.

So what does your vehicle run on?

Let’s start with gasoline: It’s a good idea to store extra

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Garden in July

What systems are you dependent upon?

And how dependent are you on them?

These are a couple of questions you should ask yourself and try to answer honestly. Even if you don’t like the answer. If you ask yourself these questions and figure out which systems that you and your family are reliant upon, then you know where to start working if you would like to be less dependent on them and more dependent on yourself. In other words, be more self-sufficient and self-reliant.

So what systems are you dependent on? If you are like most of us, you are dependent on most, if not all, of them to one degree or another. That isn’t anything to worry about though. Not really. What is more important is how much you are dependent on them. For a list of The Systems, go back to What Are The Systems and take a look. Read through them and jot down which ones you rely on. It’s not a 100% complete list so if you can think of anymore, write those down too. And maybe comment on that post letting me know what I might have missed.

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Blackout! How you deal without power

There you are in the bathroom, brushing your teeth and getting ready to turn in for the night. Your wife is already in bed reading her book. And then, without warning, the lights go out. With a mouth full of toothpaste, you poke your head out of the bathroom and look in your wife’s general direction as if she just killed the breakers from her cozy spot in bed. So it’s 10:30 PM and the whole neighborhood just went dark, what do you do?

First, you would probably grab a flashlight (that is hopefully handy and the batteries aren’t 12 years old) and go check the breakers to see if it’s just your house or not. If those look good, on to step two – calling your power company. Hopefully their number is saved in your phone or posted near the house phone so you don’t have to search for it. The power company is probably very aware of the situation already, but give them a call anyway and let them know that your power is out so you’re “on the list.” Or in the count, at least. Do this while you’re on your way to get your Blackout Kit.

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Bell Peppers - Sick of the Systems

Self-Reliance in the Backyard

TomatoesSo if you have read any of my past posts, you know that I think that our dependence on the many systems in our lives gives us a false sense of security. It is absolutely misplaced trust. Go back and read The Intertwining Systems for kind of a scary eye-opener. But we’re about doing things around here, not just complaining about the systems or being too stuck in our ways to do anything. We’re doers, aren’t we? So what can we do to put a buffer between our lives and the food system?

Grow your own food

Having a garden and growing what you ate used to be a normal part of life not too long ago. It just made sense. Why is it not the case today? Why doesn’t it just make sense in our culture? I don’t know. I have many ideas but I don’t want to get into it now. Let’s get into growing your own food and why it does make sense.

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Self-Reliance in the Pantry – Part Two

Long-Term Food Storage

Packaging rice in jars - Long Term food storage
Packaging Rice

So sticking with growing your pantry, I wanted to talk a little bit about long-term food storage. To me, this includes the food that lasts longer than the average canned food shelf life of 1 or 2 years. Stuff like beans, rice (you know, the classic survival stores), grains, lentils – essentially, dry goods. Properly stored, this stuff can last for years. And then we move onto freeze-dried food. The big #10 cans of this and that, that last 15, 20 or 30 years. Brands like Provident Pantry, Auguston Farms and Mountain House. That’s your REALLY long-term stuff.

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Self-Reliance in the Pantry – Part One

In one of last week’s posts, The Intertwining Systems, we saw how precarious our food system really is. I showed you just some of the points of failure and how if just one of the many systems that prop up our food system were to fail, it could fall apart.

Pantry - Canned foods
This pantry needs to grow!

So what are some things we can do about it?

For one, we can start storing our own food. I’m not talking about going out and buying 120 cases of military MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). I mean buying a little extra of what you already use on a regular basis. Just a little at a time. If your family likes canned clam chowder, the next time you buy a can, buy

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