Friday, February 28, 2014

A bit of an update

I have temporarily left my schedule for posting. I have a lot going here and am having a hard time finding time to post, so I'll just put stuff up real quick when I find it instead of saving it for later to put together.

We have added  some pets to our home. Now, we already had a dog, cat, 5 rabbits and 13 chickens. Now we have 2 zebra finches, 2 female beta fish, and a leopard gecko (and it's accompanying crickets.) It was time for the younger ones to have the option of pets and we just aren't in a place to add bigger ones. Whole new learning curve for me on the gecko, though. I've had fish before (though only one beta which didn't live long) so they are fairly familiar. I also had parakeets and a cockatiel so finches are nothing really new either.

But a gecko? I've never had a pet reptile (unless you count the turtles my mom had when I was little, who all ran a way from home). Totally new learning curve there!

Did you know a gecko wags her tail when she is fixing to pounce, just like a cat?

They also won't eat dead things, though someone does make pelleted gecko food. No idea why they would. Every website I can find says they won't eat it.

We are also gearing up to garden. I've been reading about permaculture (recreate nature in such as way as to produce food with the least amount of work possible.) This sounds more up my alley. I am quite distractable and very busy with things that call me if i forget to take care of them, so gardens go untended a lot. Besides, they take a LOT of work, especially for this size of family; weed, till, fertilize, sow, plant/setout, water, mulch, weed, fertilize, weed, harvest, weed, water, fertilize......

It's one thing if you are like my friend at Grammy's Gems (and I mean real friend. I see her twice a week at church) who finds gardening very therapeutic and is one of her favorite activities. The more excuses to garden the better.

No, I enjoy gardening somewhat, but it isn't one of my favorite activities. I know I need the exercise and fresh air, though, as well as the food for the house. And I would enjoy having a green, private place to go to relax with Hubby once in a while, so I have decided I will do this. It helps that a couple of the kids enjoy gardening and pick up my slackin'.

But I need a way to get what I want that isn't a full time job.

And so, enter Permaculture. In this method (if I am understanding it right) you work WITH nature to create a garden that functions mostly on its own, just with a bit of guidance.

I wouldn't expect this to produce the same volume per square foot of garden that a traditional garden does, but anything is better than we have been doing.

You begin by making a plan of what you want it to look like in the end and then work backwards: put in the big stuff (trees, buildings). Then add irrigation. Then middle stuff (bushes, vines) and mulch ("nature never has bare ground" declares one article I read. That author has obviously never visited the southwest fourth of the US! It's nearly all natural and very bare grounded. Now, if you want to change that to "Productive nature never has bare ground" I'll buy it.)

To personalize: we have some fruit trees in, as well as a quacking aspen (I joined the Arbor Society when we first moved here and they sent me 10 sticks that were supposed to be 10 bareroot trees. Well, with all little kids and getting settled and all, I lost track of what I planted where and none of them grew. A couple of years latter when we put in fruit trees, this Aspen came up! I think it's the only one in the neighborhood so it has to be one of my poor neglected rootlings.)

We also have some grapevines in.

All the fruit produces a couple of pieces a year (except one year when the apple trees actually produces more than we could eat!) I have built some raised beds, too (our land is rocks held together by clay and sagebrush so there is not digging much of anywhere).

This year I am adding some raspberry vines, grapes and maybe roses (one little mom's day rose is still holding on out there, so I might get some to actually grow.) I would like to add some hoses for automatic water, but that will have to see about later. Also, we are buying bales of straw one at a time for mulch.

I will focus on tomatoes and what grows good with them (lettuce, radishes) in one bed, let each child do a bed and let everything else just lay fallow for this year. My mom bought us a green house so (if I can reprint the directions to put it together from the internet since the ones that came with it got wet) we will have a place for starts. We'll see how it all works out.

Part of my extra time has been going to grocery shopping. For 20 years Hubby took care of it for me (I had a bunch of little kids, he wakes up at 4am naturally and I don't so he didn't have anything else to do on Saturday mornings.) But due to his gout and other health issues he hasn't really been able to do it for some time.

Last year I took it over permanently (after all, I now have 2 adult kids still at home and 2 teens. It is silly for Hubby to push 3 baskets around the store by himself.)

I have been studying coupons and come to the conclusion that those women who save so much actually earn that money! They spend hours researching and planning; hours I don't have. So, I have come to a middle ground. We cut out just what we know we will use and file the rest. I check the sales match-ups on line and write down what is worth the time to mess with. And we save $2-10 a week. Not much, but that would be $100-500 a year put together, so it's worth it. We get a few things free (razors, ink pens) and greatly reduced on a few others, but nothing to make a TV show over.

I have also discovered we spend less over all if I buy as close to 1 months worth of food at the beginning of the month.

I have written before about my daughter's allergies and some of the changes we have made. I now make my own laundry soap (1 bar grated Ivory, 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda and now I add 1 cup of baking soda [makes the clothes softer in this hard water]). I am still working on the dish soap, but not having a lot of luck there. Still having trouble cutting that grease.

I'm also now making our own yogurt and kefir. Working on Buttermilk and sourdough too (the kids are complaining there is more alive stuff than dead in the fridge! lol)

I would like to work on shampoo, but haven't yet. At least, not a lot.

Add to all this the study of nutrition (with some accompanying diet changes) in regards to building strong teeth (ala. Dr Weston Price) and, well, I've bee a bit distracted from here. 

I will post notes updating what all is going on as I can. Life is too good, too important to not keep track of it.

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