Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Really!?! You Must be Kidding

Just having some fun with the photo!

I am increasingly surprised by how many things we as a society have forgotten. I am saddened by how many basic skills are being lost. The reason for this post is simple. One of the people I follow on twitter has a regular post on DIY home cooking. Normally these links are to things like gravy, stews, and things like that, but today the link was for homemade lemonade. I followed the link just for curiosities sake. Ingredients: lemons, sugar, water, and ice. My first reaction was really, have we fallen that far? But as usual when I go off the deep end my wife is there to draw my back. I have been making things homemade since I was a kid so I just have trouble understanding the need for such basic instructions. My wife had to explain that just the fact that this information is out there is proof that there is a growing interest from people in learning to do things for themselves.

This has been working in my heart for a while. Only a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were at the grocery store someone in line had a bag of ice. The slogan on the bag was "Better than home made". The cashier actually asked how you make homemade ice. This young person is in their 20's and is engaged to get married. There is no wonder that the ready made food business is booming. We have gotten to the point were millions of people both male and female do not know how to cook anything. These people do not even realize that they have lost a large part of their control over their own lives. If you control the food, you control the people.

Not too long ago a man at work paid $10.00 to have a  lamp assembled. I tried to tell him how easy it was to put together but he would not listen. He just said "I am not very handy". I talk to people weekly who have no idea how to do things that I think would be basic. Some people want to learn, but sadly most don't.

I just saw this, this morning. If the photo does not illustrate my point nothing will.

Arrows to show you where to open the cheese?
So how do we work to change the direction of our community, generation, and even country? First and most important is be sure we teach our children. Everyone should know what lard is, how it is made, and how it is used. I am going to have to do some cooking with lard in the near future. If we only do that ,we help assure that our decedents will not fall prey to rampant consumerism. We educate anyone who will listen about organic or natural gardening. We spread the word about GMO foods. Learn and spread the work about living frugally, recycling, and re purposing. Demonstrate how to make things from nothing. Encourage those that you have influence with to stretch themselves.

Remember to work toward making a reality your
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest. If you do the Facebook thing I have a poll going on right now and I would really love to have your input.

For similar posts please read:
Helping a Friend and Teaching My Sons
Why Skill Development is So Important
DIY Preparing for a New Home

Monday, April 28, 2014

Family Memories #3 The Birthday

Not all memories have to be from long ago. Some are being made as we go. This week I am going to give a shout out to my  youngest son.

This weekend we will be celebrating his eighteenth birthday. I know, that means I am getting old.
I am not his biological father but I am his dad. I became a part of his life several years ago. His natural dad is not part of his life. I am thankful that he has accepted me as part of his life. I truly count him as my son.
I have never asked him for help when he has not gotten up and delivered. He is one of the few young men his age that will stay with a task as long as I do. That is saying something in this day and age.

I am letting him drive my old Bronco, the perfect vehicle for any true male. He is very proud to drive it and I trust him with it completely.

He is not what one would typically classify as an outdoors type person, but he has learned a ton since we have gotten to know each other. I have been able to teach him to change a tire, check the fluids in a car, run a chainsaw, split wood, and several other things. He has never let me down.

We celebrated his birthday in fine rural fashion with a bon-fire. A few of his friends came over. We grilled over 70 hotdogs. One of his friends turned the jack of his truck into a mini swimming pool. A great time was had by all.
Our daughter and nephew in the "Truck Pool"

Son, I want to thank you for letting me be your dad. Take the lessons I have tried to teach you and make your own...

Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

For more posts with my son, check these out:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Want to Learn to Pickle?

Pickling is one of the skills once you learn it you will use it over and over again. If you do not have someone who will teach you, you will want a clear concise tutorial. Enter A Primer on Pickling. This short little eBook covers everything you need to know to get started pickling.

A Primer on Pickling covers a little on the history of pickling to show how long this process has been used as a form of food preservation. Homestead Dreamer shows that pickling is still a viable and tasty form of food preservation for today.

Homestead Dreamer covers all of the equipment you will need for fresh pack pickling and includes four recipes for pickles. You do not even have to have a pressure canner for the pickles she covers.

If you are just getting started you cannot beat this little book for only $1.99. Check it out on Amazon. You can click the image above or it is even in The Rural Economists Amazon Store. You can access The Rural Economist Amazon store on mobile by clicking where it says home at the top and selecting the store or by selecting the astore to the right.

Hopefully this will help you have...
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

Other equipment you might need. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Getting Prepared for Beginners Series #2 The Preparedness Mindset

I have heard countless people say that preppers are the ultimate pessimists. That is not true. In fact, they are very optimistic. Think about it; true hard core preppers believe that even if nuclear war breaks out ,somehow they are going to be one of the ones who survive. I would call that the most optimistic pessimist I have ever seen. So I want you to look at things through the eyes of someone who thinks "I am going to survive".

Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast doesn't use the word prepper. He uses the term Modern Survivalist. The term Survivalist has come to mean the crazy people who when things get bad they are going to go out into the forest with nothing but a gun, some ammo, and a big knife and try to survive. A modern survivalist is not like that. We are going to breakdown the word.

Survival: to continue to exist
ist: a suffix meaning to specialize in the a fore mentioned skill.

Okay so my wife is a Respiratory Therapist. She is a specialist in Respiratory Therapy. Makes sense right? So a Modern Survivalist is a person who specializes in the ability to continue to exist. That doesn't sound crazy at all to me.

I have heard so many people get hung up on the zombie apocalypse. I do not know anyone that honestly thinks that something is going to happen and all of the sudden all of the people in the morgue are going to start moving around looking for the human buffet line. What many in the preparedness movement call zombies are those who react poorly in a crisis situation. How many of you remember the news reports from Louisiana about when the food stamp card was not showing a balance? Certain stores decided they were going to take these cards anyway and trust in the honesty of the people with these cards. What happened? Many people stole hundreds of dollars worth of food and when it was announced that balances were showing again they all fled. This happened when everything was good. Can you imagine how these people would react if they didn't know the next time the store would be receiving a shipment or when the power would come back on? That is what people are talking about with the talk of zombies. Those that feed off of the effort of others.

For the story about the EBT Card fiasco you can got HERE.

People who are prepared are taking responsibility for themselves and their family and many times their neighbors. Even suggests you keep at Least three days of food and water. The three day recommendation is based on the average response time of FEMA. They want you to stay alive long enough for the government to rescue you. Remember during Katrina three days would not have been enough. We will talk about food and water storage later.For now we are focusing on the mindset.

I believe the most important thing that anyone can have is a survival mentality. Any person in any situation that believes with everything that is in them that they are going to make it through tough times. Your mantra should be "No matter what happens I am going to make it."

Once you learn to think like a survivor everything else comes a little easier.

I hope this series makes it easier for you to have:
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

Other posts in this series:
More Posts in this series:
#17 A Case for Long-Term Preparedness

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Family Memories (2) Taxidermy

Over the next several weeks we will be running two series simultaneously. Tuesdays will be Family Memories. There may be guest posts from various members of my family. This will be a way for us to share our experiences and lessons learned. Many of these may be short.

On Thursdays we will be running a series on Getting  Prepared for Beginners. These posts will have reasons to be prepared and helpful tips to get to a more self-reliant point.

I counted my wife's post God Gave Me a Carter as the first post in the Family Memories series. So here we go.

As I have stated many times before my grandfather was responsible for many of the skills I have developed. One day while I was visiting him he asked me if I was interested in taxidermy. I told him, "Sure". He gave me a complete set of books on taxidermy.

I threw myself into the books. Read everyone of them. Not only did he give me the books, he gave me a large box off wood wool, wire, several sets of eyes, and a catalog for ordering more supplies.

This was in the summertime as I recall so no hunting season was open. So a fishin' I did go. It only took me trying two fish to realize that either I was not artistic enough or I would have to apprentice with someone to do fish.

My next attempt was a bird. I was trying to come up with something to work with. At first I was hunting with my BB gun. I thought the small projectile would do less damage to the skin of the bird and make it easier to mount. I shot at crows, blackbirds, and starlings. I think all my BBs were doing was stinging the birds and making them fly off, so I finally resorted to my 410 shotgun with number 8 shot.

I finally took a red winged black bird. They are very pretty and I thought could make a nice mount. So there I was- bird on the table, book in hand, and tools and supplies laid out before me. 

You have to skin things differently when you are trying to save the hide. If I had been planning to eat that bird it might have taken me one minute to skin it. I was trying to make a lasting display of that bird. About 30 minutes later I had the bird skinned. I only tore the hide once and considering how thin their skin is I was pleased.

Trying to do taxidermy without a mold is an art. I worked with the wire and the wood wool for probably an hour. The body looked fine. I just couldn't get the legs to look right. I worked with it off and on for a couple of days before I found an abandoned nest. I placed the bird in the nest and I thought "not a professional job but good enough for a first". I kept the red winged black bird for a couple of years. It really wasn't a bad job.

Next I tried a snake skin, but used the wrong chemical and turned it green. I have made leather with the knowledge I gained from those books and have done a couple of nice squirrels using the molds. The molds make it a thousand times easier. I even made a couple of coyote skin rugs over the years.

Am a great at this skill? Oh heck no. Do I still cherish this skill? Absolutely. Just because you aren't great at something does not mean it has no value. Like I said I can make leather and furs. Will I ever do taxidermy again? Yup, I probably will. Will it be a business? Oh no. But every skill you learn makes you better.

Learn a new skill and it will help you to have
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes 

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Farming on "New Ground"

The term new ground refers to an area that has not been previously cultivated or has not been cultivated in several years. New ground can be former pasture, brush land, timberland, or even non chemically treated lawn. New ground had major benefits as well as some serious challenges. We will cover both.

If you talk to any old timers they may tell you about new ground that has been in cultivation for years. What they really mean is it is the newest ground they have.

Benefits of New Ground

Most of the time new ground has not been contaminated by chemicals. As I said before this may not be true if turning a section of lawn into garden space. The chemicals approved for use on lawns are way more harsh than most approved for food production.

Most times new ground will be extremely fertile. Leaves or grass clippings are often left to decompose wherever they fall. This of course increases the organic content in the soil, which invites earthworms and a whole host of beneficial microbes.

New ground can be very mellow. It may not have ever been impacted by tillers or heavy equipment. Mellow ground is easily worked, holds water well (needs less irrigation), and is just easier for your plants' roots to get around in.

New ground has most likely not been contaminated with diseases. New ground normally has a wide range of biodiversity which inhibits many vegetable diseases and helps control many pests.

Challenges of New Ground

New ground is very labor and time intensive. Getting my area to the point is is now has taken me 10 months. This has been me working on it a little at a time, an hour here and 6 hours there. All but about 5 hours were done completely by hand. A buddy of mine brought his tractor over for half a day. Everything else was done by hand.

Weeding new ground in the first year is a beast. It does not matter what the ground was before, there are bound to be hundreds of seeds and roots waiting to grow in the middle of your vegetable patch. This can be a constant fight, and can turn into a battle of the bramble if you will.

When you have wonderful, fertile new ground, you will want to at least keep it as healthy as it was and hopefully make it healthier. Direct sunlight to soil can kill the top levels of beneficial insects and microbes. Many plants take nutrients from the soil. The answers are simple mulching, composting, rotational planting, and if needed organic fertilizers. I will provide links for each of these topics, as this is beyond the scope of this post.

My New Ground

My new ground started out covered in privet and honey suckle. It took me nearly a year to get it to the point where I could plant anything in it at all. I cut even with the ground anything I couldn't pull up. Burned all of the brush that was too large to go through my chipper. Raked everything I could and am constantly pulling what feels like thousands of honey suckle and wild blackberry roots.

I am out in the garden everyday hoeing to stop any weeds from getting too far. As the plants I want get bigger I will be putting down cardboard and mulching with a mixture of pine shavings, wheat straw that was at the bottom of the chicken brooder area, and compost. This will go a long way to stopping the weed invasion, will prevent moisture loss, and will breakdown and actually improve the soil.

By taking in this new ground I increased my food production area by a little over 3 times. I am hoping to provide updates in the months to come.

For more information related to this topic you can read the following articles.
The Lowdown on Compost
Chinese Privet Homestead Hero or Villain
My Experiments with Hugelkultur and No Till
Lasagna Gardening
Instant Garden

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

This post shared on the following blog hops: Simple Saturday Blog Hop

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting Prepared for Beginners Series (1) Why Prepare

With all of the buzz going around lately there are a lot of people that have been introduced to the term prepper in the last couple of years. Like anything else that people deem out of the ordinary, there has been an effort to paint anyone who prepares or preps as being weird. The truth of the matter is most people who prep are only returning to the habits of their grandparents or in some cases their great grandparents.

Our ancestors knew that hard times would come. They did not have all of the conveniences that we have today. 24 hour grocery stores are a very new creation. They would have never thought to go to the store and only bought enough for one day let alone one meal. I have been guilty of doing just that.

The television show Doomsday Preppers has both helped and harmed the preparedness community. Even if the people they feature on that show are actually stable, they are painted to be lunatics. I tried to watch this show, but never made it through a complete episode. The only person I remember being featured on this show was supposed to be preparing for a polar shift. Basically this is where the world turns upside down suddenly. The north pole becomes the south pole. All of the sudden I will be living in South America. Um, okay, sure. 

If you focus on trying to get ready for some massive event it is easy to get overwhelmed. My advice is to prepare for smaller more common events. Here are my reasons to start getting prepared.

April 27, 2011 a massive tornado out break killed 238 people in Alabama alone. This storm also destroyed almost everything I owned. Had I not stayed the night at my girlfriend's house (now my wife), I would have likely been counted among the dead. The first few days after the storm were tough. No one had power, even if their homes were untouched. Everyone was trying to get a generator, food, and water. Those whose homes were destroyed were seeking shelter. None of the banks were open. You could not get cash and your debit cards didn't work. Some people were without power for weeks. 

2014 saw two snow storms in Alabama. I know many of my northern friends thought what we call a snow storm to be a typical day. Try to imagine not having any of the equipment or infrastructure to handle this type of event and yet still having to deal with it. During the last snow storm we were stuck in our small community for 3 days. The local grocery and local department store was closed. Unless you had snow chains you were not going to make it to anywhere that was open. You had to deal with what you had on hand for 3 days. We were only without power for about 6 hours. Six hours that could have been very cold without a backup source of heat.

Tornadoes, snow storms, hurricanes, wild fires, power outages, are just some of the possible reasons it makes sense to be prepared. These reasons change depending on where you live. Make a list of the most likely things you would need to be prepared for and leave them in the comments section of this post. Next week we will cover the mindset of getting prepared.

I hope this series helps you have...
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

More Posts in this series:
#17 A Case for Long-Term Preparedness

This post shared on the following Blog Hops: The HomeAcre HopFront Porch FridaySimple Saturday Blog Hop

Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest Post by my Wife: God Gave Me a Carter

by Nicole Carter

Family. It’s a beautiful thing. Most of my blood family is nearly diminished, but fortunately God knew how important it was to me and he gave me a Carter. I know that may sound weird but the minute my husband first introduced me to his family, I knew I wanted to be a part of that clan.Today the Carter’s laid to rest a man that I had only met a handful of times. I can honestly say that it didn’t matter that I did not know him on a personal level. His grandson (my husband) made sure I knew a great deal about this patriarch who helped shape everyone in his dynasty.I saw so many people this weekend heart-broken over the loss of Mack Carter. He had touched so many lives, including mine. People from everywhere came to say good-by, and I am so honored that I got to be a part of it. I witnessed a 21 gun salute, and Cherokee rituals as well as Christian preaching all in one service. It was absolutely beautiful. It was also heart-wrenching watching so many tears shed, that I couldn’t help but to compare it to what it must have been like the day Abraham’s family lost him.After the burial service when we went back to the mountain where he lived with his precious wife (of 66 years!), the family gathered there to eat. Once again, I was in awe at the amount of people. They were everywhere! And I loved it. I loved the fact that walking in their home and on that land is almost like stepping back in time and almost like a little piece of heaven on earth. I love the fact that even though my husband is grief stricken he is so proud and willing to explain to me the tools that hang on the wall of the front porch of the house. I love how he showed me the chickens, goats, and the land where the garden was going to be. I love the beautiful pond that sits in the middle of this oasis.But more importantly it’s still the family. Even in all of the sadness they were able to laugh, share stories, and comfort one another. They have welcomed me and my kids with open arms, and accepted me as their own. I heard people say that Mack Carter was a very strong man. He has sent forth some strong sons and a daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. I cannot fully explain the impact that this family has had on me. But I know this. He helped shape a Godly man who found a broken woman and helped put her back together. And for that I am indebted to him. I hope to help honor him and do my best to continue to learn from this family so that in some small way, I can help carry on his legacy.

You can read my tribute here Saying Goodbye to a True Homestead Hero

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Saying Good Bye To A True Homestead Hero

Disclaimer: I am not really even sure how to start this post but I feel sure if you will stick with me it will be worth your time.

How do you say goodbye to a Hero? How about a Mentor? Teacher? Adviser? Spiritual Leader? Friend? Family member? Now that you have all of that rolling through your mind, imagine saying goodbye to a person who was all of those. April 10th,2014 I said goodbye to my grandfather. Had he have lived till June he would have been 89 years young. He was the toughest and hardest working man I have ever known. He is a very big reason for me being the way I am.

Granddad was born in 1925, remembered The Great Depression ,and served during World War II. He knew more about farming, gardening, homestead livestock, hunting, fishing, foraging, and wild herbs than anyone I have ever had the privilege to meet in person. He could work with wood or metal and get done what he wanted doing.

This is not going to be just a eulogy so hang in there.

I don't remember how old I was the first time my granddad took me to dig ginseng. We walked all over the mountains around home and it seemed that he knew every single plant and whether it could be used for something or not. I have learned a lot of things from books and blog posts, but nothing compares to having a person standing right there showing you and answering your questions. Herbs that I remember us talking about include: ginseng, arrow root, lambs quarter, burdock, plantain (he called it something else but I cannot remember what), Indian turnip, Queen Ann's Lace, and Elder berry. I am sure there are countless more.

The first time  Granddad made elder berry juice he wanted me to taste it. Of, course I did. I knew he would never do anything that would hurt me. It tasted like a mix of blueberry juice and Vick's 44 D. Nasty. He just sort of laughed and said "tough isn't it".

He taught me about edible plants. Hickory nuts (taste just like walnuts), persimmons (don't eat them till they are completely ripe), cattails, and even something we call sour grass (also known as wood sorrel).
Sour Grass (Wood Sorrel)
When I was 12 he hired me one summer to help tear down a house that a man had given him. We took all the materials that were usable and built another house that he rented out for years till he sold it. I helped him work on tractors and countless other projects. Many of the skills I have today were either learned or improved by helping this man.

My grandfather was one of the best shots with a firearm I have ever seen. I don't think I ever saw him miss. Between him and my dad ,they helped me become a pretty good shot myself. One year we were dove hunting and it was near the end of the day. We had all grouped back together and were talking and taking turns with the birds that would come by before we headed home to clean them. When it was my turn, I took careful aim and said "Bye- bye birdie ",before I pulled the trigger. The bird fell. My grandfather smiled and said "The boy is becoming a good shot".

He would tell stories about his life during the Depression. His father, my great grandfather, made his living hand hewing railroad cross ties, cutting dye wood, cutting hair, and of course farming. One year was not very good to the Carter family and my great grandfather told all the kids that Santa wouldn't be coming that year. They just did not have the money for anything extra. A man who owned a general store several miles away that my Pa Pa Carter traded with came by Christmas Eve after dark and left all of the kids an orange and  a nickel's worth of rock candy they were able to split. Nearly every time after telling that story he would say "Hard times will come again and you had better be ready to do everything you can yourself". He did not tell that story to prove how hard he had had it. He told it to warn us how hard things could get again. 
Rock Candy
 If my grandfather had not been the way he was and taught us all the things he did, I probably would have never started The Rural Economist. My dad and aunt have started a farm that sells produce, honey, eggs, jellies, and jams. They are looking to expand. There is no way to know how many people he has taught about being self reliant. So you see, simply by your reading this, one man's life continues to touch others and lead others to a simpler more sustainable way of life. That is the best tribute I could ever offer.

In the end he told me he was proud of me and that I had become a real man. I, my dad, my cousin Dusty, and nearly every member of the family was able to tell him goodbye. Only my dad was in the room when he passed.We were trying to get some rest in the waiting room. Even though it is hard to have him gone, I am blessed indeed to have had the time that I did have with him. 

Granddad, you helped teach me about homesteading, about preparedness, and about life. I will do everything I can to keep your lessons alive. I love you Granddad.

To my dad. Hopefully, between the two of us, we have most of the knowledge that granddad had. I know you will help me spread this wisdom.

Now for the challenge. This is not just a memorial. I want each and everyone of you to learn everything you can and teach anyone you can. In this way, we can take the lessons my granddad taught me and make them exponential. I told him once I was going to make him famous. Let us make him one of the catalysts to make the world a better place.

For another article featuring my granddad. A Family Tradition of Sustainability
You can also read the tribute written by my wife God Gave Me a Carter

You can subscribe to The Rural Economist by email by simply filling out the form at the top right of the page. Your information will never be sold or given to anyone else. You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook. Or you can even follow The Rural Economist on Pintrest.

If you are going to share any of the articles on The Rural Economist, please share this one in memory of my granddad.

I hope you all enjoy Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
From the Farm Blog Hop,  Old-Fashioned FridaySimple Saturday Blog HopHeritage Homesteaders HopSimple Life Sunday HopClever Chicks Blog HopHomestead Barn HopBackyard Farming ConnectionMountain Woman RendezvousDown Home Blog HopThe HomeAcre HopFront Porch Friday

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Is Gardening Becoming Essential for Survival

The picture above looks just like our local grocery store on a daily basis. We have stopped even walking in the building because we know the attempt at buying almost anything there will be futile. The management keeps telling everyone that they are trying to change warehouses. This may be true, but in the meantime everyone is having to go else where to get even the necessities. This started me thinking. What if we couldn't just go a couple of miles to another grocery and get the things we need? What if prices jump suddenly and we couldn't afford enough to provide the things we are used to consuming?

If you have anything to do with buying groceries around your place you have no doubt noticed price increases. On some items these increases have been quite dramatic. Beef has gone up a good bit in recent months and promises to continue to go even higher.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard "I spent too much at the grocery store today" or " I spent $70.00 and really didn't get anything". What do you do to off set the ever increasing prices of just eating?  This is one of the expenses that there is no way for you to get rid of. If you were to try to stop eating you would not live for very long.

Gardening going viral?

I have heard more and more people lately say that they wanted to produce 100% of their own food. While this is an incredibly honorable goal, I do not think this is very possible. Let me explain. We live on the edge between agricultural zone 7 and 8. There are several fruits that we like but are either too cold or to warm to produce. If we wish to continue to enjoy these fruits we will need to buy or trade for them.

We live on 1/2 acre so we do not have room to raise cattle or pigs. We do have a small laying flock and are planning on raising broiler chickens, but that puts us pretty close to our limit due to space.
My goal this year is to produce at least 30% of our food for the year. This will actually not reduce the amount of money we will spend on food. This will however free up some money we were going to spend anyway for higher quality items like beef or pork.

This year I am starting all of my plants from seed. Depending on where you live you could either put your seeds straight in the ground now or start your seeds indoors. Even if you only get a weeks head start you will still be ahead of the game.

My decision to start everything from seed is purely economics. Many plants you buy are $3.00 each or more. For less than $2.00 you can get enough seeds to start many plants. If you learn to save seed, your expenses really go down to next to nothing. My germination rate on tomatoes is nearly 100%. Jalapenos about 90% and Belle peppers about 75%. Not bad. I will be sowing squash, zucchini, corn, and really everything else straight in the ground.

If you have a knack for growing plants you can start a cottage business with a very small greenhouse just by starting seeds a couple of weeks before you can safely transplant outside. Start more that you will need or want and sell the rest. Even if you sell the plants for $2.00 each, the people that buy from you will be saving money and you will be earning a little extra with very little additional effort. This will help not only you, but your entire community.

Making it till you get a harvest.

Many folks have to worry about today while preparing for tomorrow. Many states have a program so those in food stamps can use them at the local farmers market. This gives people of limited income access to better quality food while they are learning and starting to produce their own.

Our church has become a pickup point for One Harvest Food Ministries. One Harvest is not a hand out. It is group buying. You are basically buying your food at whole sale price. Each month One Harvest has different menus you can choose from ranging from staples to just meats. While this option does not deal with the problems of chemicals used in growing the food, it can provide needed relief from food costs. Everyone can use a little help with food costs.

I see promise.

We live in an area that would best be described as semi rural. Very few HOAs, most everyone has a little space they can call their own, and there are very few if any restrictions on what you can do on your own land. The other day I came home from work early. Early enough in fact that I was able to pick the children up from school. On my way home from picking the kids up from school I noticed that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the homes were preparing a garden spot. This is great!

I work at Lowe's Home Improvement as my primary occupation. I see people everyday buying vegetable seeds or plants, fruit trees and berry bushes. I am able to talk to many of these people and about 20% say they are putting in a garden for the first time. Some are gardening due to the fact they are concerned about the quality and the amount of chemicals that are on the food at the grocery store. Others are trying to save money. Some even say that if you want to eat you had better grow it yourself.

The tide is slowly turning back toward more self reliance and I am proud to be able to say that.

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What to do if You Cannot Grow a Garden
.Becoming a Homestead Ambassador
Backyard Farming on an Acre (more or less) This Title available on The Rural Economist Amazon Store

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