Friday, December 31, 2010

Then the lights went out.

Today it had been raining all morning and I could hear thunder in the distance. At about twelve-thirty, I had formed bread dough into round rolls to be used like hamburger buns. While the bread was rising I decided to clean the living room. I had pulled out and cleaned behind my husband's chair and was cleaning behind the table beside it when the electricity went off. For quite a while I expected that the lights would come on at any moment but the power outage continued.

I was planning to write this article when my husband left at three to go to work and I was going to talk about what I did during the past year but the electrical outage changed all that.

The weather cleared up shortly after the electricity went out and the sun came out. It was warm--over sixty degrees and climbing. It was the perfect afternoon to go outside and continue the work that I started the other day in the yard.

I raked leaves into a tarp twice and spread them on the main part of the garden. I then worked at picking up acorns to save to feed the pigs I'm planning to get this next year. At that point my husband asked me what I was doing. When I told him what I was doing he said that I must have been bored but the truth was, I was enjoying what I was doing.

Shortly thereafter however I decided to pick up black walnuts instead. I had promised a friend that I would send her some so that she could use it in her herbal concoctions and as of yet, I hadn't done that. I decided today was the perfect day to take care of that task.

At about the time my husband left for work, I realized that I had to do something about the rolls. I really didn't want to waste the rolls but I also knew that if I didn't stop them from rising above doubled, they dough wouldn't be any good so I squeezed the air out of the rolls and let them start doubling all over again. I did this another two times during the afternoon and evening.

After finishing my work outside, I started a fire in the wood stove (It's supposed to get down around freezing tonight) and my nine year old daughter asked me to play the game of life with her. She won.

After we finished the game we ate ice cream. I sat on one couch and was reading and my daughter was on the other couch reading. In order to see what I was reading I used a flashlight and my daughter used the book reading light that she got for Christmas.

The electricity finally came back on at seven-ten. It had been out for just over six hours but it reminded me of the fact that I have taken electricity for granted. I have done some things to get ready in case such an event happened but I also realized that I'm still not ready for an extended electrical outage. There are things that I can do to make such a prospect not so traumatic.

First thing I know that I need to do is to get a nonelectric can opener. We have lots of canned foods but it's difficult to do without a working can opener. That will be one of the first things to add to my emergency list.

The second thing will be to get my wood cook stove hooked up. If I'd have had the wood cook stove hooked up, I might have been able to bake the rolls in it but because it isn't, I wasn't able to do that.

The good news about the rolls was that I kept them punched down enough that when the electricity came back on, I was able to bake them in the range and they turned out just fine. Even though things done always go perfectly, sometimes everything turns out okay anyway.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Deliberately Simple Life

Yesterday I making bread dough. As I worked on it, I was thinking about everything that went into making the bread and how it really doesn't take much time, it just takes time over a long period of time. I was thinking about how good it was that I was able to work at home, take care of the house, the wood heating stove, hang the laundry out on the line and be there for my family while I wrote. In a few days I'll be able to go to school from home too.

I will let you know that I don't make a lot of money writing but what I can also tell you is that I enjoy the life that I live. I enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I have no real need for anything. I have a roof over my head, my home is warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer. I have food on my table and I have my health. I don't take any type of medication except for an occasional over-the-counter pain reliever(and that is happening less and less often). I don't have a car payment, I don't have a mortgage or pay rent.

I know that there are people who don't understand, sometimes I think my own husband doesn't understand that I like my simple life. I've got no complaints. Not that I don't want to grow in areas because I do but I want to grow in areas that I feel matter to me and promote the kind of lifestyle that I want to live.

I have purposely avoided a lot of the consumer propaganda that has so saturated the media lately. It's all a lie anyway. The house of cards will fall. There is no way that an economy based on rampant spending is going to do anything but put us further and further into debt. It is true of a home economy and it is true of a national economy as well. No one can spend their way into prosperity.

My securities aren't in stocks or bonds or even in the commodities market. My security first lies in the fact that I look to the eternal source to meet all my needs according to his riches in glory.

Second I am learning to get in tune with the natural processes around me. I am learning to accept the weather as it comes. Part of that lesson comes in the fact that I hang my laundry out on the line to dry. I hang out laundry when the sun is shining and I don't when it's raining.

Third I have learned that I can assist natures processes rather than manipulate them. I have learned that the earth wants to be healthy and by feeding her the right nutrients she will reward me with healthy foods. My compost pile is part of her life cycle. I save the nutrients in the form of kitchen and yard wastes, encourage the decomposition process then return the finished (sometimes just partially finished) compost to the garden for the microbes there to make available to the plants. My garden instead of sinking down over time builds up higher than the soil around it.

I have heard that during the coming year the price of food is going to go up. If that is true, perhaps it will encourage more people to build compost piles, to make their own bread, and to start growing more of their own food. If so, I will be here to help anyone who is interested to begin to develop their own deliberate simple life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Warm day in December

Yesterday was a beautiful day to get outside. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to be outside without a coat. I decided to do some work on the garden area and more specifically the composting area.

My compost area isn't a box or specifically constructed in any way. It is simply a pile that gets added to on a regular basis and gets turned almost as regularly.

I started the pile at the edge of my garden this last spring with a pile of sod from my newly plowed garden area. Last year was the first year that we had a garden at the place we now live and our neighbor was nice enough to plow it for us. That's probably the last mechanized tool that will be used in my garden. I'm going to try to grow everything in it simply by using human power more about that in a later post.

After getting all the perennial grasses out of the garden I decided to mulch with aged sawdust and a friend of my brother's brought out a load for me. I had them unload it on top of that pile. I then removed what sawdust I needed to completely mulch the garden and then left the rest. Thus my compost pile was started.

Next I added household garbage to the compost pile. I added anything that that the dogs wouldn't eat. I placed the garbage on one side of the compost pile and then used a hoe to cover it with the aged sawdust from the other side of the pile. There is never an adverse smell that comes from my compost piles constructed this way.

Every couple of rains I turn the pile. It's been so dry this year that by watering the pile I could have promoted the composting process but I've decided to allow nature to do most of the work so I haven't been adding water to the pile. To turn the pile I simply use a garden fork or a shovel to turn the pile onto the grasses space beside the compost pile along the garden's edge. I completely move the pile to the spot beside where the original pile was.

Where the original pile was, there was a bare spot that during the summer I mulched so that grass wouldn't grow there. Because it is beside the garden, it then is an area that I can use to expand the garden in that direction. How much more perfect can the soil be than soil that was under a compost pile? I am running the compost pile down the south end of the garden and hope to complete this area by the time spring comes.

That brings us up to yesterday. Yesterday I decided to get a little more aggressive about getting that south end of the garden done so I raked leaves from around the yard and laid them down on the area of the south end of the garden that hasn't yet been 'run over' by the compost pile. I had previously raked leaves and put them on the rest of the garden but because of some severe winds, many of the leaves had been blown away so to prevent this from happening in this new area, I tossed compost from the compost pile onto the leaves to anchor them down against even the strongest wind. This morning Mother Nature was cooperative and it is raining a nice gentle rain that will soak into the compost and weigh down the leaves.

This spreading of leaves and sprinkling with compost is a process known as sheet composting. It is as the term indicates. The composting done in like a sheet. Mulching with any organic material is a form of sheet composting. By adding sheet compost in the fall or winter, I've insulated the soil from extremes in temperatures creating an environment that is less hostile to microbes that work the compost. The microbes then instead of hibernating are able to do their magic of breaking the sod into light fluffy soil ready for planting in the spring.

By taking this one day in December, I am able not only to save myself hours of garden work next spring but what I do now will also benefit my harvest later in the season.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Have a Happy Greener New Year!

This year I am resolving to do two things that are greener. The first one is to write in here on this blog more often. I have let the site slide and I must apologize for that. I am sorry that I have let you down.

The second thing is that I plan to grow more of my food at home in my own backyard than I did last year.

I hope that my garden will not just provide nutrition for my family but also creates inspiration to you the reader. I hope that in some way I will motivate you to emulate what I am doing. The articles that I plan to write will be augmented by the plans that I use and implement in the process of living not just greener but also simpler. I look forward to sharing this journal and 2011 with you.