Posts Tagged ‘Self-Reliance’

You’re Grounded

I left the following as a comment to Colette on her Bealtaine Cottage Good Life blog post, “Facing into Climate Chaos.” This is her paid subscription blog, but you can find out how to access those posts by clicking here onto her free blog.

I decided to bump up my comment here, because I’ve recently received some frantic emails from people suddenly recognizing that life as we know it might change in a heartbeat. Of course, that’s always been the case; most people just haven’t realized that Western Civilization cannot possibly continue with the same old same old. Neither do most people acknowledge in any real way that “Mother Earth” might actually be our mother. As in, the dispenser of tough love when Her children have gone far too out of bounds.

My point in the comment is that discipline can be a very good thing. I recently got to witness the results of such tough love, this time from a father, and how, over time, his child came to thank him for his seemingly harsh discipline and consequences, now recognizing the correlation between his line in the sand and her renewed and dramatically improved quality of life. This story and others inspired my reply to Colette’s post:

I agree with you, Colette! I’ve often thought how Mama Earth may one day just yell out, “Enough is enough!” effectively confiscating humanity’s many toys and saying, “You’re grounded.” There’s a huge methane leak in California right now that could do just that. Like Fukushima, not being able to stop this has implications for the entire world, and Nature will kick in somehow whether with human cooperation or not.

For most people, this will be a difficult initial adjustment, but for those who’ve taken steps towards resilience and community preparedness, “this could be a good time,” as the Hopi say in their prophecies. A world with no more wi-fi, no more mindless consumer culture, no more television, and no more fracking would shock many, but think of the potential uptick in quality of life! People coming together, sharing their lives and telling each other stories face to face instead of burying their heads in glowing boxes. All sorts of things could happen.

I don’t pretend to be ready for the radical shifts that may come our way, but I’m readier than most and like you, willing to share whatever I do know. “You’re grounded” sounds like a punishment, but it also means, “you’re earthed,” and “you can’t be fried by the surges of energy.” Being grounded heals us and allows us to move through chaos with Grace. Thank you for modeling that to so many! xx

Episode 12 of The Search for Sustainability Summit

The final episode of the 12-day Search for Sustainability Summit has a free replay until 9 p.m. East Coast time tonight. Click here to watch this very positive piece, which shares things anyone can do from wherever they are right now. I listened to the first 11 episodes and will catch this one later today. I’ve really enjoyed the series, and learned a lot of exciting new and helpful things. I’ll share more in another post, because I’ve got a busy day of sessions here. Just wanted to make everyone aware of this last free episode.

If you’ve considered purchasing any of the series, I definitely recommend episode 11, which I loved! It talks extensively about communicating with plants and animals, and I learned so much surprising and really encouraging information about bees. I think that was my favorite one of the bunch, but I’ve not yet watched episode 12. A huge thank you to Nathan Crane and all the many speakers for putting together this wonderful resource! Nathan indicated the series received 93,000 viewers. That in itself makes me happy, because the information contained in this series was extremely life giving, practical and inspiring.

I had mentioned some issues earlier with music overlaid too loud over people talking. Nathan and his crew either tweaked that volume ratio, or I grew so used to the song that my brain was able to tone it down to a level at which it no longer distracted from the conversations. (Maybe a bit of residual brain injury preference on my part.) In any case, episode 11 includes an interview with the singer, Piea, and she’s just so lovely! What a gentle, loving spirit! Apparently, episode 12 includes a concert.

The Search for Sustainability Summit

For those people who recognize that humanity and each of us as individuals need to change our ways and soon, this new “Search for Sustainability Summit” offers personal steps, tools, and techniques for shifting away from planetary crisis and towards harmony and increased self-reliance.

Unlike top-down “solutions” forced on us via carbon taxes, SMART regulated everything, and nonstop surveillance, this series of talks from November 1-12 shares how true sustainability comes through tuning into and working with Nature, not allowing ourselves to become further isolated from our land, food, air, and water by cramming us into mega-cities and adding even more computerized algorithms to our already AI dominated lives. Things like permaculture, green-living and self-reliance help us to get back in touch with cultures that recognized their own part in the cycles of life and that looked towards the future by nourishing the present and honoring the past.

Rather than completing the communist and fascist top-down tyranny creeping into our lives in the name of “sustainability” initiatives funded by Monsanto and Big Banks, the ideas, information and inspiration in this summit encourage individuals to remember and develop their own skills and capacities to change in positive, productive ways. If you’ve felt discouraged by my various posts on the BS of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Agenda 21, Agenda 2030 and the co-optation of the word “sustainable,” you’ve got 12 days of encouragement and education to remedy that disappointment.

I’m not involved in this summit, nor an affiliate — just spreading the word, because there are some fabulous speakers, movers and shakers participating. If you live on and love our planet, or if you want to blast beyond the current insanity that passes “for the common good,” into territory that instead makes corporate and governmental tyranny irrelevant, then do check out The Search for Sustainability Summit. (Trailer and free registration available at that link.)

Comment Bump Up from Keeping Our Realities Straight

Jean Haines posted a series of recent pieces from RedefiningGod.com and then wrote her own post discussing her feelings about BRICS, Putin, Paul Craig Roberts and “Ken” from RedefiningGod.

For the record, I occasionally used to post some of Ken’s articles (with my own comments and caveats) until his sexist jokes and implications got out of hand. When someone “jokes” about handcuffing someone to their bedposts and saying “Daddy’s hungry,” and then defends that degrading, dehumanizing, anti-feminine joke and others throughout a series of private emails, then they lose post-ability on my blog. The fact that I no longer post his material doesn’t mean I disagree with everything he says, though. I just think that anyone who can justify using misogyny as a calculated means of gaining followers fails to recognize the most important shifts we need to make for a healthy society — not least of which is respect rather than objectification. That said, I left the following comment on Jean’s new blog. Since students and clients frequently ask me my opinion on BRICS, Putin, RedefiningGod.com and similar topics, I’ll share my comment to Jean below.

Please note: I do not give authority for my reality to an external “truth” about any of this. I’m posting my comment to minimize my need to discuss this, not to invite or initiate a lengthy debate. Please do your debating inside and amongst yourselves. My personal outcome and that of any community or individuals actively creating a new reality does not depend on any of these external factors. It depends on our own vision, our own efforts, our own skill, determination and responsibility, and our own direct relationship with the planet Herself. I post this for those already obsessing about these issues, not because I recommend people start obsessing about who’s “good” and who’s “bad.” You can make all of that irrelevant by living your life in a responsible, creative, magical way.

Without further ado, my comment bump up from Jean’s original post:

Jean, I am not a fan of Ken’s style, particularly of his oftentimes sexist “jokes,” and I disagree with him regarding the effectiveness of magic. He lampoons the cabal’s use of magic, whereas, imho, more people ought to educate themselves on energy, symbolism, the power of ritual and the subconscious and how those work so as to direct the energies instead of following someone else’s carefully manipulated energy streams. There’s resisting manipulation, and there’s taking the reins yourself to summon tremendous fuel and energy to your own creation — two different levels of engagement. I radically disagree with him on anything Goddess related. There are gaping holes in his understanding of how energy works, and he often gets stuck in polarized thinking, despite warning people against it.

That said, his research is very good, and he does offer suggestions for solutions — go local, grow your own food, get as self-reliant and local community sufficient as possible, know your neighbors, stop salivating over external Saviors, and find your own direct connection to Spirit/Divinity.

These are wise suggestions. They may not appeal to everyone who wants to just sit in their living room and meditate, but his suggestions are actually quite useful. I’m a big fan of imagination, meditation and reality creation; I also know hope can be a powerful bridge to a carefully crafted alternative reality. I think he’s just warning people against the hopium that got Obama elected. For the record, I saw through Obama when no one else I knew did, except one friend. How people can’t see the things Ken shows is beyond me, but I realize most people don’t until hindsight. In addition to Ken’s suggestions for solutions, I would add to get much more in touch with the land, sea and sky — with the wisdom of Nature and with everything associated with the suppressed Feminine, something with which he seems quite uncomfortable; however, for the most part, his take on international affairs checks with my own read.

I have always said and continue to assert that Putin’s a wild card. Those who claim to know his heart based on speeches or photos would be wise to step back and observe more. He’s a master martial artist; every move, every word, every gesture is calculated, but despite this, there are things he’s hiding even from himself. Those are the wild cards. I don’t even think he knows what he’s going to do. We can hope he ends up stepping away from the script, but right now, in my professional intuitive opinion, he’s right on script. Just because Edgar Cayce — who did not [always] discriminate whom and what he channeled — said Russia held great hope for humanity doesn’t make Putin the answer. Plenty of Russian defectors have given the play by play we’re currently living in, right on schedule. RT News is Russian propaganda. Controlled opposition always includes a large amount of truth or few people would swallow it at all.

I’m not arguing for anyone to have a firm opinion on BRICS. I personally think it’s a bunch of the same old, same old, but used by someone savvy, even the same old, same old could provide incredible opportunities for new things. The only thing I argue for is that people take personal responsibility for their own basic needs and that they educate themselves on basic hypnosis and NLP principles so they recognize them being used. Studying actual ancient traditions instead of watered down Wicca-lite, shaman-in-a-weekend, New Age platitudes would also help make global machinations much less important. If we become wise as serpents, harmless as doves, then we can have our new world, but it will be MUCH more of our making!

Hugs,
Laura

Paradise Stolen ~ The Myth of Efficiency

“Answering some of the arguments against the idea that small sustainable communities are impractical.” This video moves from “pie in the sky” to the insanity of globalism and then back to hands on, practical ideas that have already been proven to work.

The Self Reliance Summit Is Really Good So Far!

I didn’t blog about The Self Reliance Summit ahead of time, because I wasn’t sure how it would be. Sometimes Self Reliance folks make the leap into major doom and gloom prophecies, so I wanted to observe the vibe of this Summit before alerting readers to it. Over a half hour into the first talk, I’m really impressed!

I had heard Marjory Wildcraft (http://growyourowngroceries.org) before, but until this afternoon, I knew nothing about Nathan Crane, the man putting together the Self Reliance Summit. I was so pleased to hear that the reason he looked forward to interviewing Marjory is that she embodies such tremendous joy getting in tune with the Earth and growing her own food. In addition to her expertise, he likes her attitude. They both value growing food for positive, empowering reasons, rather than from a place of fear. So far, they’ve talked about growing your own food, activating your root chakra, the importance of positive vibration, Cuba’s agricultural renaissance, making the shift to local foods, tips for beginning gardeners, and analysis of the financial crashes in 2000 and 2008 — all in a very upbeat, “what lessons and blessings can we take away from this” kind of way.

Update after talk #2 with Matthew Stein: another self-reliance talk that gets into some surprising areas not often expected when talking about things like EMP’s and the Carrington Event! After giving the initial “why” of preparedness, Matthew gets into specific suggestions for what to have on hand and what sorts of skills to acquire. Towards the end, he and Nathan get more esoteric, even talking about the Dan Tian energy center and suggesting something I often mention to people: practice listening to your intuition about little things now so that you know how to listen and trust if/when your life depends upon the guidance.

I’ve had numerous brushes with death that had I not followed my intuition at the time, I probably would not be here today. Likewise, I can attest that when I’ve ignored my intuition, I’ve injured my brain, gotten linked into situations that took way longer to get out of than to decline engagement, and generally have found a life of ignoring intuition far less thriving and fun. By contrast, when I do follow my intuition, magical, blessed things happen every single day. Life just flows. 🙂

Some of Matthew’s initial talk may scare people, but it’s important, valid information. Denial won’t save you, but facing fear head on can both protect and liberate you. He addresses multiple layers of how to deal with even the direst situations, so I’d actually recommend this talk especially for people who tend towards anxiety. His positive attitude and action tips remind everyone that there’s always something you can do, even if it’s “just” learning how to tune into your spiritual and intuitive guidance.

Each talk will be archived for 48 hours. Obviously, I haven’t listened to the rest of the Summit yet since it runs through October 7, but given Nathan’s positive slant and vision, I think it’s likely the rest of the event will be empowering and energizing, rather than scary and depressing. Here’s the link for anyone else wanting to sign up for these free talks that run from October 1-7.

Granny Spears ~ ‘Herbology’

Granny Spears ~ ‘Herbology’

When we got married Ernie was bringing home about £1 17s 6d.

Now this was long before we went decimal so in todays money that would be about £1.25 a week, a couple of dollars to you Tess.

Now, although everyone thinks that we have always had free healthcare in the UK that’s not so. A visit to the doctor when we got married amounted to just over half a months pay so it was pretty much out of the question if we wanted to eat. The National Health Service got started in the late 1940′s, before then we had to pay.

Unless it was especially serious we relied on remedies passed down to us over the years, and most of the things we used involved plants, with the occasional bee added for good measure!  Usually, someone local had what you needed if you didn’t grow it yourself.

I went to teach the kids crochet again on Monday and we got around to the old days and ended up talking about plants. One of the girls said she really enjoyed her lesson in ‘herbology’. None of us knew if it was a real word, but we liked it so we decided to stick with it.

As an aside, the crochet is going great but I have a feeling I am going to be inundated with scarves and knee rugs this Christmas.

Right, back to herbology…

Honey

We used honey a lot back then, far more than most people use it now for medicinal purposes. We stored lumps of honeycomb in jars and the honey would collect at the bottom of the jar. A spoonful when you had a sore throat helped and it was one ‘medicine’ the children never minded.

It also soothes coughs, putting a lining on the throat and helping prevent irritation.

We also spread it over cuts and grazes to keep infection away and to help healing, it worked every time. Minor wounds would be lovely and clean and they really healed fast.

Burdock

We didn’t grow burdock, but there was enough of it growing wild that you could just pull it up when you needed it when it was in season. We would pick some of the fruits and store them for use later in the year. When you crush up burdock fruits they are oily and this soothes irritated skin almost immediately. The fresher they are the better but they dry very slowly so they were still of some use during the winter when fresh ones weren’t available

Making a poultice helps bring out bruises and a burdock tea is excellent for treating indigestion.

The root of the burdock plant was good for the treatment of boils. You boiled and mashed the root and placed it over the inflamed area. Drinking a tea made from burdock root was said to be good for arthritis…though none of us had it back then so I can’t be sure of that.

Marigolds

Marigolds were used to treat bites and stings, you just crush them and rub them over the affected area and relief soon follows.

These pretty flowers are a boon in the garden as they keep the aphids off tomatoes and other crops prone to blackfly like pole beans. Ernie ALWAYS planted a row of marigolds near our beans and the children used to put them in containers and move them around the tomato patch.

Chamomile

I grew this in a few rotten at the bottom barrels down the far end of the garden, it takes over if you let it escape!

Chamomile is very good at calming people down, and I used to make chamomile and lavender pouches to put in the childrens rooms to help them drift off to sleep.

Chamomile teas can either be just drunk as a drink or held in the mouth to relieve toothache or the pain of mouth ulcers.

Tansy

Tansy is a pretty yellow flower that grows as fast as a weed if you let it, another one I contained in an out of the way corner.

This stops the bugs biting very well, you just crush the leaves and rub them  on your skin. Works a treat. You don’t eat or drink tansy as it’s poisonous used like that.

Mint

Definitely contain this plant…it will take over the entire garden if it gets a chance. as well as using mint in the kitchen it is very good for calming upset stomachs and preventing the children feeling like they are going to be sick. If there were lots of colds around I would add mint to tea without milk as it seems to help fighting the germs.

Sage

Again, sage is great in the kitchen and almost as great for saving a costly trip to the doctors. Used as a bandage over the honey spread on a cut it is like a little natural bandage. It can also take the heat of burns, not open burns, but the fat splash or hot water type of burn that reddens the skin and makes it swell.

Marjoram

Marjoram makes for a decent disinfectant. Pick lots, crush it up and boil it. The liquid kills germs.

I’ll have to ask Edith if she knows where the box is that has all my old recipe books in. I had a few from mother when she died, all beautifully written out. I know there’s a notebook with them that lists all the medicinal plants my parents grew, and therefore the medicinal plants that I grew. I wonder where the box went? I’m sure we still have it somewhere.

Paul and the children are coming over on Sunday, he’s a strapping lad, he can go up into the loft and look for my box if Edith doesn’t know where it is.

Well, that’s it for today. You have a lovely weekend and I’ll speak to you soon.

Regards

Maud

Granny Spear was born in a small cottage in Devon, Southern England in 1925. Married to farm labourer Ernest, she raised her family in the heart of the countryside without any of the amenities we rely on today. Using skills passed down from her mother, who had learned those same skills from her mother, she not only survived but positively thrived living a self-sufficient, off grid lifestyle. Outliving her husband, one of her children and two of her grandchildren she stayed in the cottage until 2003 when a serious fall saw her hospitalized. She now lives with her daughter just four miles from her old home. For her 89th birthday her grandchildren and great grandchildren brought her an iPad, which she instantly rejected until they showed her Angry Birds…After much persuasion she has agreed to share some of her knowledge with us about what she calls the ‘old days’

via Gillian at Shift Frequency
SF Source ReadyNutrition  Sept 24 2014

Favorite Permaculture and Gardening Resources

Blog readers and local gardeners keep requesting a list of my favorite permaculture and gardening resources. This is probably not a complete list; however, these represent some of the books, strategies and research I’ve read and/or experienced:

BOOKS

Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway, is the usual go-to book for at home permaculture. The second edition has much more info for urban and suburban settings.

The Edible Front Yard, by Ivette Soler, is also very good, though it’s not permaculture, per se.This book emphasizes beautiful, edible ornamental vegetables, bushes and trees, coupled with expert tips on good landscape design, including color, structure and plant suggestions. A must-read if you plan to garden in your front yard, since this book will help you avoid raising the ire of lawn-loving neighbors.

The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan, has information on how to do just about everything related to growing and preserving your own food, raising livestock, making herbal medicines, pruning fruit trees, and more. It’s really a one-stop shop in terms of straight up information with lots of charts, calculations on land productivity, as well as specific suggestions regarding varieties and attractive, edible plant combinations.

Four-Season Harvest, by Elliot Coleman is the go-to book for cold frames, greenhouses and season extension. He shares a phenomenal amount of knowledge, which I am only just beginning to absorb. Thinking in 4-D (with the time factor) brings gardening even more into the range of multi-tasking. Coleman covers cover crops, latitude, daylight hours, chill factors and more. If you want to garden in three seasons and harvest in four, this is the book for you.

Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, by Niki Jabbour, is another excellent book to help you strategize for maximum harvest, despite climate challenges. I own both Coleman’s book and Jabbour’s book, as Jabbour’s seems less intimidating, and I like her excitement.

All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew, is considered a must-have by many people who garden in raised beds. I own a copy, and I appreciate the work he does to make gardening accessible for everyone. Based on my experimentation, “Mel’s Mix” for soil really does make a difference. I just don’t like orderly, rigid, square boundaries, so his gardening style doesn’t particularly suit me. I prefer the looks and growth advantages of round, tiered beds, and I also like making free form raised beds via sheet mulching (also called Lasagna gardening) and wood mulch (also called the Back to Eden Method). If you like tidy raised beds, then The All New Square Foot Gardening will prove a worthwhile book to own. If you just want some knowledge about soil, general information on raised beds and trellis ideas, then I’d suggest borrowing this one from the library.

Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space, by Derek Fell. I borrowed this from the Madison Public Library while trying to garden an extremely small space against a chain link fence. We now have a huge garden; however, I continue to implement many of Fell’s delightful suggestions. If I still had a small space, I would own this book for reference.

FILMS/VIDEOS

Back to Eden: This is the film that sparked my own interest in wood mulch gardening for rich soil and dramatically less watering. You can watch it for free online by clicking here.

Permaculture and the Sacred: a fascinating talk given by Starhawk to the Harvard Divinity School. You can watch it here.

Free Introduction to Permaculture Organic Farming Online Course with Will Hooker from NC State University: This is a 38 video series, filmed in an actual ag class at NC State. You won’t get credit for having taken the class, and you’ll need to bear with student interactions and class-specific questions; however, these talks are loaded with information!

PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATE COURSES

This is a tricky category, because I have not personally taken anything beyond a weekend introductory course in permaculture. We did participate in a real site design and planting, and we learned a ton; however, this Friday-Saturday-Sunday event did not count as the 72-hour PDC course.

The Permaculture Design Certificate Course is a specific collection of teachings that enables anyone completing it to become a professional permaculture teacher or designer. If you have not taken the course, you are not legally allowed to charge for services that use the word “permaculture” in their description. Of course, you can still study and implement permaculture prinicples on your own, and if anyone wants to learn from you, just don’t call it “permaculture” instruction or design! Terms like “holistic gardening,” “radical companion planting,” “systems gardening” or “relationship in Nature” could all touch upon aspects of permaculture, depending on your interests.

On the other hand, everyone I know who has taken a permaculture design certificate (PDC) course considers it a pinnacle and paradigm shifting experience. Choosing a course depends on your priorities and interests. In some ways, it would be ideal to find a local-ish teacher so that what you learn applies to your climate and location. Any PDC course will encourage you to study your own plot of land across the hours and seasons, though, so you could also select a teacher based on personal resonance.

I’ve often thought I’d want to study with Starhawk‘s Earth Activist Training, if I ever opted to do my PDC. I like that she has studied in the Feri (Faery) tradition and I appreciate the ways she interweaves and grounds her spirituality into everything from gardening to relationships, ritual and politics.

My own major resistance to doing a PDC course is, ironically, that I don’t want to spend much time away from our yard. I read voraciously, and I generally dislike classes (unless I happen to be teaching them). By doing a highly disciplined, self-directed study, I can learn as I go — running outside to evaluate immediately how what I’ve learned might apply to our yard. Traveling to a class also involves transportation, which usually involves fluorescent lights, noise, odd food and sleeping arrangements and noise. While I can handle those things, I’m in a nesting phase and don’t really feel like traveling unless I feel deeply called to a particular area.

If you find yourself in the same boat of not wanting to or not having time to travel for your PDC, blog reader Alan Enzo of http://permacultureeducation.com let me know of an online training that follows the exact criteria of original permaculture design certifier, Bill Mollison:

“Technically, all PDC courses should cover the exact same 72-hours of material. This is how the system was laid out by the founders, and what makes our PDC course special is that we take this seriously.  We do not add our own ‘stuff,’ metaphysics, religion, psycho-analysis, or anything else.  Some Permaculture teachers out there do, and this is not how Permaculture was meant to be disseminated.
We take pride in teaching only the official 72-hour curriculum as set down by Bill Mollison. 

[A]nother major difference between our PDC course and most on-the-ground courses – Students get an intensive design experience with personalized instruction from highly-qualified instructors.  

“In most residential PDC courses, 3-4 students work together on a fictional design, for just a few hours, and present it to the group.  There is little time for reviewing the students’ final designs in this situation, because there are usually many other students waiting to present their group designs, and the process is rushed through.
“In our course, students get experience creating a real, integrated, working Permaculture Design, with expert guidance, feedback, and suggestions along the way.  Our graduates leave with the ability to go out there and design for others, or to teach, consult, start a Permaculture-based business, etc.”
Please note: I have not taken this course, so I cannot comment on the content or teaching, other than appreciating the rationale for sticking to the original information. That’s what I do for certification courses as a Reiki Master Teacher — teach the basics as originally taught, allowing students to customize after the fact. In this way, I know they have received all the required training for valid certification and will be able to discern what’s original teaching and what’s add-on. I also like that someone can take this PDC course from anywhere and use his or her own project as a real design. I have no financial interest in this, but Alan has offered a $50 discount for my blog readers if anyone chooses to sign up. Just mention the discount when you contact them.
OTHER RESOURCES
The Faery Realm — no, I am not being facetious! Faeries love to help people who help heal and protect the Earth, so they arrive as natural allies for anyone open to receiving their help. Click here for some Quick Tips for Interacting with the Faeries.
Local Gardeners, Tree Cutters (for mulch and information about tree health), Farmers at the Farmers Market, Community Gardens and more….
“Permaculture” refers not just to “permanent agriculture” but also to “permanent culture.” The systems approach looks at how everyone and everything interact together in complex, mutually beneficial systems with “stacked functions.” Everyone and everything serves a key function, and permaculture aims to uncover unexpected gifts and relationships. Left brain, right brain, social, solitary observer … it all goes into the mix, so reach out to the world around you. If you read or do nothing else but more deeply, consciously engage your local environment, you’ve already begun taking steps towards permaculture principles. If you add that new knowledge and skill back into your garden, then you’ll have food and beauty to boot!
Cheers!

Off-Grid Food Preservation: Little Faery on the Prairie …

Well, it appears I am beginning to live up to my namesake, Laura Ingalls Wilder, as I continue to find ways of preserving the harvest that don’t involve electricity. Mostly, I’m just tired of listening to the dehydrator run 24-7! I leave it on the porch, but that fan is a loud energy hog. Yes, I could can, but David and I really don’t eat much canned food. We’re still making our way through last year’s salsa, so I’m reluctant to make gallons more of it. We decided that time and again, we just love dehydrated tomatoes from the garden all winter long.

As warnings continue about solar flares, CME’s, terrorist attacks on the power grid, and the general weakness of America’s power grid, I’ve continued to daydream about a life less filled with whirring noises and EMF’s. Enter: my latest round of off-grid food processing that keeps things in their raw, live state:

Homegrown tomatoes awaiting transformation into truly sun dried tomatoes

Homegrown tomatoes awaiting transformation into truly sun dried tomatoes

Sun Oven

Sun Oven

After much research, I finally decided to get a Sun Oven rather than hodge-podging one together myself. This one is designed and crafted to withstand 15-20 years of daily use, plus it came with dehydrator trays, a water sterilizer and various pots and pans for all manner of solar cooking. Supposedly, I can even bake homemade sourdough rye bread in here from fermenting guru Sandor Katz’s recipe if I so choose. We don’t usually eat much bread and little to no gluten; however, I’ve read enough of Weston A Price and others indicating that fermented rye bread provides key nutrients and a different profile than wheat or other grains. We shall see. I’ll make it at least once to say I did it — and also because it will go so well with all that sauerkraut I’ve been making!

The last afternoon of this red acre cabbage

The last afternoon of this red acre cabbage

That's a mighty big "Brussels sprout" on the left, huh? Those seedlings were labeled wrong at Whole Foods,  but I'm happy for the mistake. Here are two homegrown cabbages with a new fermenting crock from Lehman's.

That’s a mighty big “Brussels sprout” on the left, huh? Those seedlings were labeled wrong at Whole Foods, but I’m happy for the mistake. Here are two homegrown cabbages with a new fermenting crock from Lehman’s.

These crocks allow storage of kraut for up to six months without refrigeration or spoilage, saving precious fridge space for things that really need it.

After the sauerkraut project and delivery of an additional 4,000 pounds of wood chips for the area behind and on the south side of our landlord’s garage (oh, my, Mini Mount Mulchmore will be a different post), it was time to release my Genie her instructions:

genie sewing machine

Yes, indeed, yesterday I broke out my total 70’s throwback Genie “Singer” sewing machine that I had not used since 1998, in order to make … a Wonder Oven … another off-grid heating or cooling device, depending on how you use it. I posted about Wonder Ovens (sometimes also called Wonder Boxes) here. Megan of myfoodstoragecookbook.com was kind enough to send me a free pattern, and she feels strongly enough about the importance of these little beauties that she will send you one, too, if you request it.

I had some trouble deciphering her instructions, but this video cleared things up. (Note: for some reason, the video has loud music and an initial Star Wars theme, so feel free to mute it. She doesn’t talk; everything’s typed out. That said, the second song is very cheery. 🙂 ) Anyway, once I used my essential seam ripper to undo my initial misunderstanding, I found the sewing part very simple. The video really makes it a lot easier than most of the instructions I’ve seen floating about online.

A couple months ago, I saw a seamstress from South Bend was moving and needed to unload a bunch of fabric. I told her my various intended projects, and she picked out some coordinating cotton patterns and colors in the sizes I needed. I made two Wonder Ovens yesterday, one for me and one for my sister and her boys:

The unstuffed Wonder Oven for my sister and her family.

The unstuffed Wonder Oven for my sister and her family.

My own unstuffed Wonder Oven

My own unstuffed Wonder Oven

They are easy to sew, but not so easy to stuff. Maybe carded wool would work better than little recycled polystyrene beads? I was concerned about the wool getting stinky, though, so I opted for a Bed, Bath & Beyond extravaganza (read mess). Actually, it got much easier towards the end when David helped me. Judging by his barely controlled giggles when he observed my method, it wasn’t the most efficient. 😉 Nonetheless, I got them filled with a minimum of reprimands at the beads flying all over my floor by covering my comments with Deva Premal chants. That kept the vibe reasonably high for making something intended to nourish and support:

Stuffed and ready for action.

Stuffed and ready for action.

My sis and I are so excited to try these, because they really minimize electricity for cooking. You just heat a crock pot type meal or whatever else you’d like to cook for about 15 minutes and then place the pot inside a towel in the Wonder Oven. It will slow cook just like a crock pot, minus the burning and all those overwhelming smells all day long. In addition, you can use these for transporting potluck items, making dairy or non-dairy yogurt, keeping groceries cold on hot summer days, making dried beans with only 15 minutes of cook time, and even … apparently … to make muffins. I can’t remember the last time I made or ate a muffin, but some people are really jazzed that you can.

Something similar called a WonderBag is transforming the lives of abused women in Africa — giving them income, reducing fuel or wood needs, and encouraging healthier meals. I recently learned that one of the biggest energy drains of the current food system isn’t actually all the horribly long transportation to get food from farm to table — often thousands of miles away from harvest. Surprisingly, food preparation in the home accounts for an even huger ding of energy consumption. Personally, I’d much rather spend my money on garden seeds, soil amendments and supporting people making things for better off-grid living. Who wants to give money to nuclear power plants that get enormous tax breaks and even refunds from the IRS for letting things like Fukushima happen? Not me.

I’ve also got a much cheaper hanging black mesh dehydrator on the way from this place. My friend Sue saw these at the North American Permaculture Convergence, and a bunch of us went in on them locally to get free shipping. It hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t comment except to say that it has a squirrel proof zipper and collapses for easy soaking or hosing out. Sue’s friend uses this “for everything.” I figure it will at least do a fine job dehydrating greens and herbs and maybe even tomatoes and kale chips. We shall see. In any case, it feels nice not to hear Excalibur rattling its sword fan. I’m sure I’ll still use the Excalibur, king of electric dehydrators for some things and during inclement weather, but I’m very happy to have alternatives.

“There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.” ~ Peter A. Cohen

How to Utilize Every Square Inch: Radical Home Economics on 1/12 acre and a 900 Square Foot Home

Thanks, Ann!

Self-Reliance in L.A.

“Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne have been farming their yard in Los Angeles for over a decade. In addition to a mini orchard and extensive veggie garden, they have all the instruments of an urban homestead: chickens, bees, rainwater capture, DIY greywater, solar fruit preserver, humanure toilet, rocket stove, adobe oven. But they don’t like to talk about sustainability of self-sufficiency, instead they prefer the term self-reliance.

“‘I don’t like the goal of self-sufficiency, I think it’s a fool’s errand to chase that goal,’ explains Knutzen. ‘I think we live in communities, human beings are meant to live, and trade and work together. I think self-reliance is okay, in other words, knowing how to do things.’

“Knutzen and Coyne share their tinkering, DIY and small scale urban agriculture experiments on their blog Root Simple and in their books ‘The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City’ and ‘Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World.’ They believe in the value of shop classes and old-school home economics (back when you learned how to make things, not shop for things).

“For the couple, their true goal with all of this self-reliance is freedom to live as they please. By growing their own and canning, pickling, preserving, freezing and baking their own breads and beans, they live frugally. They also only own one car (plus a cargo bike), one cellphone and no tv. ‘I think a lot of it has to do with our overdriving ambition to be free,’ explains Coyne, ‘makes being cheap fun, because it means you can be free.'”

Root Simple: http://www.rootsimple.com/

Original story: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/…

*Cameraman Johnny Sanphillippo also films for the site Strong Towns: http://www.strongtowns.org/