Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Learning now for a rainy day

It seems these days, I have been reading a lot about homesteading and survival skills. Keep in mind, that for the last couple of years, I have been trying to move away from rampant consumerism and toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle, but it has become more important to me lately. With the current economic downturn, it only makes sense to be prepared for the worst.

I purchased a CD set a few weeks back that has over 1000 publications over a wide range of topics. Some of them will just not apply to us, like building Bamboo structures in Indonesia or fruit tree growing in Nepal, but the basics can still be useful. I have read a "book" on how an attached greenhouse can not only allow you to grow fresh food all year long, but you can use the excess heat from the greenhouse to help warm your home in the winter. I have learned how to build a fireplace with a chimney that draws correctly and how to build a wood stove. I have learned that 1 acre of sweet potatoes will yield approximately 6000 pounds. I have learned how to build a rabbit hutch, a chicken coop, what kind of fencing to use for cows, and for goats. I have the technical specs for building a micro-hydro turbine, and how to use that turbine to grind grains.

Is any of this stuff useful to me right now, not really. But it is all very useful knowledge and might come in handy at some point. If for no other reason than that learning is fun. Some of the publications are in French and Spanish, so I could even print them off for the kids to study (those are the languages they are learning in school). Or I could use the Spanish ones to brush up on my own study of Spanish from high school all those many years ago.

Now, if I just had some place to use all of the stuff I have learned...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Has Spring already Sprung?

Here in Central Arkansas, the weather over the weekend was in the Mid 70s and beautiful. Today we are supposed to be in the high 60s with a 60% chance of strong storms over the next 3 days.

This weather is amazingly normal for March, not early February. I had looked at a projected weather forecast back in January that said our area would experience slightly above normal temperatures this year, but nothing too far out of the norm. Usually for Arkansas, that means a stormy spring and a long hot summer. But I am wondering if that is really so much different than every other year. Weather forecasts are notoriously wrong.

My husband and I talked last week about planting by the Farmer's Almanac and how it could be wrong. Well, my theory on that is, well, yeah. The weather is what it is, always. Impossible to predict. My joints can give me about an 8 hour lead time on a storm coming in, and I trust that more than the local weatherman.

And as for planting, the sparrows and finches are getting their sexy feathers, so I would say that Spring is going to be early this year. At least in our neck of the woods. That is part of the reason I planted my peas already. That and they do not like the hot weather we get here, so early is better. The daffodils and surprise lilies are coming up, buds on the trees are swelling, the grass is starting to green up a little. All of these things, along with the mating feathers of the wild birds, tells me we will have an early spring.

Punxsutawney Phil has been wrong before.

My only real concern is for the fruit trees. A prolonged warm spell will cause the trees to think it really is Spring before Winter is actually over. Even though Winter is generally, not decisively any way, over here until mid-April. We almost always get a cold snap around the end of March. And about half the time, it kills the blooms on all of the trees and frostbites the tomatoes.

So here is hoping that Spring actually has Sprung this year. I think we could all use some sunny days.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Raw Milk Revisited

I am so P.O.'ed at the FDA right now. This is an excerpt from the FDA web site.

  • The CDC reports that from 1998 to present there were 39 outbreaks in which unpasteurized milk or cheese made from unpasteurized milk were implicated.
  • These outbreaks occurred in 22 states and two of them were multi-state outbreaks. An estimated 831 illnesses, 66 hospitalizations and 1 death were associated with these outbreaks.
  • Not all outbreaks are recognized.
  • Even when they are, not all are reported to CDC.
  • Virtually impossible to capture all of the incidents of individual illness which might occur

This is just so absurd. They are reporting 831 instances of ILLNESS from raw milk over 10 YEARS! More people get food poisoning EVERY YEAR at Thanksgiving from eating improperly prepared stuffing! Good Grief! More people got sick from eating bad salsa last spring. Or even the current peanut butter scare!

Their position can only be a product of big commercial dairies. Anything to keep the little guy from being able to stay in business.

At least the State of Arkansas is considering legislation that will allow the sale of unpasteurized goat milk directly from the farm as long as they do not sell more than 100 gallons a month. It has been voted on in the house and sent to committee. From there it will go to the Senate. At least it is a step forward.

If your personal beliefs worked that way, you could almost say that Big Brother has gotten together with Corporate Farms and the Healthcare industry to legislate the health of the average American. It is bad enough the government funds conflicting studies on the health of different foods, like eggs, and tries to scare people into not eating them. For a while the demon was pork (too much fat), then it was beef (too much cholesterol), then they told us that skinless white meat chicken was the heathiest( thank you Tyson). Fish is really good for you, Oh wait, it could contain mercury and other heavy metals so you had better limit your intake. It is just getting out of hand.

What is wrong with growing healthy, pesticide free, antibiotic free food? Nope, they don't want us doing that either. Because our healthy livestock might contaminate the over-medicated, immune suppressed factory farms. They are even trying to get legislation passed to force the individual to "register" every head of livestock , including chickens, because there might be a disease outbreak. And that means that the government can come in and destroy your entire herd or flock to protect the factory farms. So not only does the individual have to pay a fee to register each animal, it can be destroyed without warning or compensation. All in the name of consumer protection.

If the government would just leave us alone, I would guess that in a few years we would make our own food choices and it would be healthier than if it is regulated.

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