Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Urban Wagon

Every once in a while you get a gift that keeps on giving.
This is one such time.
My soul mate gave me a big 'ss safety yellow garden wagon for Christmas.
While many will equate this gift to receiving a new plow blade there is a method to his madness once you look deep enough. It's a multi layered gift.
On the most obvious level anyone who knows me knows that I am a gardener. Even in a space deprived garden as ours a good garden cart is a must have. Potted Irises can be very heavy.
Not to mention a great cache of wood shavings from a near by freshly ground tree stump courtesy of city works.
Next this urbanbilly cart is a must have for curb shopping & dumpster diving.
Or using the shoe leather express to go to tag sales in our hood.
Neighborhood grocery shopping.
Farmer's market down the avenue.
Then there is this reason which by far is the one that is most near to my heart.
Collecting firewood for our as yet installed wood stove.
Free firewood means that the original outlay of $ for the completed wood stove project is recouped all the more quickly. Quicker return on our investment along with the eventual concept of free heat = cash surplus.
Or to put it simply the very real possibility to become a one income family.
Imagine having time to enjoy my role as a Wife and Mother without being a co-bread winner.
Time to volunteer.
Become a Master Gardener.
Imagine. Just imagine.
We recently had a huge warm up here in Western New York with day time temperatures reaching near 60 in some areas. Along with the warmer day came high winds two days later. Gust of 75 miles was recorded @ the Buffalo International Airport.
100 + year old Maples didn't have a chance.
While DD #2 was more than happy to glean on our city streets DD #3 keep two houses back @ all times so not to be associated with us urbanbillys. She basically was our look out since the contracted tree service feels that city residents who remove fallen trees are thieves. With the rise in demand for firewood cord prices are over $125 in some areas.
Tools consist of a few hand saws & a battery operated sawz all.
Working on conquering my phobia of chain saws.
~~ pelenaka ~~
p.s - Hubby & DD #2 enjoyed a brisk walk on Monday glean another wagon load of wood.
1/6 of a cord collected. Need to set aside a total of 4 cords for next Winter.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Long Term Storage

Another use for all those extra empty mason jars is long term storage of food & other items that wander your way.
This is one of two vacuum food sealers that while still vacuum won't seal. Seems the heat strip that actually melts the plastic bag closed has a spot that is too cool to do the job.
Years ago DH bought both the wide & small mouth attachments that fit mason jars while @ an Aunt Sally's. Needless to say some things are worth hanging on to until the time is right.
Had to use new wide mouth lids but the small mouth lids are out of the recycle bag. Scrubbed well they have a 2ND chance to be useful.
Half gallon jars were bought a few years ago with coupons from a local Ace Hardware store one of the few places who carry this size. Gallon mason jars either used or new are almost impossible to locate not to mention a bit pricey. Turns out I really don't have a need to can anything in a half gallon size so it's good to finally be able to use these jars for something besides making yogurt.
Tally worked out to be 15 - 1/2 gallon jars + 1 quart of organic Winter Wheat. Paid over $50 six mos. ago for a bushel's worth. Little did I know that a Barter Buddy who was passing a field in process of being harvested would stop & grab me over 100 lbs. of locally grown wheat. Not organic but darn near close. On a side note one of the major reasons behind the building of the Erie Canal was to ship wheat. Western New York was the Bread Basket for the East Coast in the early 1830s.
Back to the great barter on Wheat - cost me about 5 lbs. of Butter & a future share of another score perhaps Cider.
1 quart of dried pumpkin - might grind it up for flour or use in a soup. Not really sure so send in suggestions.
7 jelly jars of matches - these were snatched up by DD when they were helping with an activity with the younger children in Bible class. Seems that these matches were destined to go out with the trash. Good score for people like us.
4 jelly jars of yeast - bought a 2 lbs. bag of Fleischmann's yeast from the restaurant supply store in my neighborhood for $5.50. Last year I forgot to split up the bag which shortened the shelf life.
In the dehydrator now is squash. Starting to go bad in the cellar.
I am lousy @ the art of running a Root cellar.
DH says it would be easier if we had a true root cellar with a dirt floor, four walls, and a door.
Not sure on this one. Really do like the idea of once it's canned it's all said & done. Then again eating a crisp juicy apple in December ...

Need to go prep the turkey for tomorrow, mix up dressing (cornbread), and whip up some flan.
Also working on sewing up a shopping bag from a dog food bag that blew into my yard from a neighbor.
In two weeks I have a week's worth of vacation which will be spent stripping wood work and 100 year old door knobs. Not to mention our marriage bed a cast iron 1900's 3/4 bed.
Then all the do dads I have been collecting along with of DH's stuffs can find a home.
After that then it will be time to clear an area for seed starting.
Not to mention an area to study seed catalogs.
Thinking of making a garden map this year. 'Cause a map means a plan. And as everyone knows a plan means better results.
Better results should = a better harvest.
Yeah, I got a plan baby.

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano con carino,

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

R word

This is the new freezer bought with the last of the pennies from my economic stimulus check mailed out way back when. The first of the pennies went to buy a few vinyl replacement windows for Our Old House.
The freezer sits empty near the corner that holds our food stores. Buckets of Winter Wheat, Organic Rye, & White Rice bought on deep clearance 2 years ago when a local store went belly up. Lying on top is a 25 lbs. bag of yellow onions which need to be introduced to the food dehydrators soon.
K, so I have this new freezer that speaks of almost endless possibilities - perhaps filled with a great deal on free range organic chickens, or our own rabbit fryers? Maybe a wonderful bounty of fresh caught trout (lol, April Fool's Day is opening day of Trout season see the irony?) ... or just a wonderful bounty grown and harvested less than a few yards away?
Need to start thinking about formulating a plan.
A really good plan 'cause it's getting serious out there.
It's on every one's lips that "R" word.
Up until now my fugal/cheap coping methods were meant for my world. To help a struggling single parent household hang on to a quality life. Then eventually to enable me work at times less than a 40 hour work weeks. Recently fugal habits are helping me regain lost retirement savings due to poor life choices.
Now it's a whole different ball game.
Now it could very well be about just living.

So what's gonna be in your freezer, urbanbilly?

~~ pelenaka ~~

DH pulled the girls outta school on Thursday (their 1st absence & their honor roll) to go hunting.
After spending a week last Summer @ a NYS DEC Camp in Rushford, New York, where they tested & gained their Hunter's Safety Certificate it was time. Time to see if they could & would actually make a kill. Hunting isn't for everyone - long hours spent motionless in the woods, freezing cold at times just waiting. Not to mention the actual task ...
Long story short no game was had but DH who has been looking forward to doing the Father - Child hunting experience for years had a wonderful time. Daughter's experienced a taste of a hunt (4 hours worth in 18 degree cold) and most importantly it left no question in any of their minds that they would be able to hunt.
So now I'll have to see about hitting our local freecycle / craig'slist for some quality hunting clothing in their size.
Also hooking up with someone who has a line on land to hunt (think Deer) maybe a barter Cheese for hunting rights. Yeah I hear you all ROFLYAF!

~~ pelenaka ~~