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Archive for January, 2012

In an emergency, thirty seconds is a long time.  A reeeaaaalllllyyy long time – it’s like the clock stops while you wait for the ambulance.   I have had three minutes stretch to eternity in a situation like that.

 

We live about forty five minutes from the nearest hospital.  We’re a solid half-hour from the edge of town, and that’s if you speed a bit and know exactly where you’re going.  There is only so much speeding you can do, though, on a narrow, winding, and potholed secondary road through a forest full of deer and moose, and then there’s that last seven miles of gravel road.   And that’s assuming you know where we live, and the fastest and most direct route to get here.  Even though emergency service vehicles are allowed to drive a lot faster than I am, I still don’t think they’d get here much quicker.   Fire and police are a similar distance, so regardless of the type of emergency, we are functionally on our own.

 

Knowing that we can’t rely on anyone else to help us out in an emergency, we’ve made a few plans and acquired a few things.

 

For fires, we have discussed an evacuation plan, from the house, and from the area.  A grass fire could sweep through here pretty quick in a dry year, and I tend to get a little uptight about looking for the source when I smell smoke.  Particularly since we could easily be cut off from town, as our only road into town goes through the forest.  There’s not much we can do about major fires like that, except keep informed, and be aware of general conditions in our area, plus being prepared to evacuate ourselves and our livestock if it ever became necessary.  We don’t have a stock trailer yet, though, so any livestock evacuation plans are awfully tentative for the moment, and would involve begging a neighbour to let us borrow his trailer.

 

For house fires, we keep a box of baking soda near the stove (for small grease fires), and the biggest fire extinguisher I could find, for anything larger.  We have fire detectors on both levels of the house, and in particular, one near the bedrooms.  I plan to buy another big extinguisher to keep in the bedroom when money allows, in case we’re ever trapped in there and need to get to another part of the house, like, say, the nursery.  We have a carbon monoxide detector.   I have a bit of training in firefighting, as well.  We’re careful to the point of paranoia with candles and other open flame, and have a designated can for smokers to put their cigarette butts in, so they don’t just get thrown on the grass.   Prevention is the key, here.

 

For medical emergencies, we have an extensive first-aid kit.  I am most worried about burns, major cuts and wounds (like an axe swing gone astray, or an animal attack), and severe allergies.  Remember, we’re forty five minutes from an ambulance, if the drivers can read a county map and find our house quickly.  Then it’s another forty five back to the hospital.    We keep an epi-pen, in case anyone ever has a severe allergic reaction, and a whole lot of wound dressings.  I have a first aid certificate, and Hubby is considering getting himself certified, as well.  We also keep some basic medications on hand, like aspirin and benadryl, even though we never use them, ourselves.  We’ve gotten pretty used to doing our own doctoring on the animals, and luckily neither of us tends to panic at the sight of blood.

 

One big issue that we’re looking into and formulating plans for is a sudden home birth.  I have every intention of having baby in the hospital, but if I miscalculate when to leave, I want to have the necessary knowledge and supplies kicking around the house, and in the car.  It sounded a little farfetched at first, but I have now been informed of three different ladies from work (two of whom lived on acreages) who didn’t make it to the hospital in time, and it suddenly seems like a good thing to be ready for.   We’re still working on this one.

 

Likewise, we plan to stock up on basic baby medications, as it will be a real hassle to take kiddo in to the doctor at 3am.

 

For security, well, we live in a ridiculously low-crime area, which is a good start.  One neighbour was quite concerned with our habit of leaving our car doors unlocked.  He said to us:  “There’ve been break-ins here, you know”.  I asked him who had been broken into, and he gestured to the southwest, and told us a name (that didn’t really register) and said that they were only a few miles from our place.  I was quite surprised, and asked how long ago the break-in had happened; the neighbour replied it couldn’t have been more than six or seven years ago.  Hmm.  I don’t think we’ll panic about putting a padlock on the shed!

 

We also have our trusty pack of dogs.  Miss Foxy would be completely useless, as she loves everybody, unconditionally.  However, our mastiff is pretty much the exact opposite, and even friends who have met her before are pretty cautious about getting out of the car when she’s loose in the yard.  The puppy takes her cues from the mastiff, and tends to bark at strangers, which suits us just fine – anyone who is willing to brave a couple hundred pounds of barking, snapping dog is clearly very determined, or possibly crazy, and locking the door probably wouldn’t have helped anyhow.   So far, we’ve never felt particularly threatened when we’ve had the dogs around, even when we lived in a less-than-desirable area, in a completely insecure trailer with no deadbolt locks.  At the very least, we sure know when someone is coming up the lane.

 

There is also basic situational awareness.  We’ve had lots and lots of strangers come to the house – a shocking number, really, considering how remote our acreage is.  Mostly, it has been neighbors coming by to introduce themselves, and a couple of times, it was census guys and enumerators.  These people tend to come by in the mid-afternoon, drive right up to the house, holler as they get out of the truck (in case you’re in the barn), and knock on the door.  They certainly don’t make a secret of their approach.   One fella (clearly not a local) knocked on the door well after sunset, wanting to sell us an aerial photo of the yard – he got met at the door by Hubby and a couple of unfriendly dogs.  Nobody from around here would come by unannounced after dark.  The only truly fishy folks were a couple of thirty-something year old guys, each driving a separate truck, who ‘stopped in’ for some reason that I can’t remember but thought was totally flimsy.   I know that at one point, a lot of thieves would phone a house and, if someone picked up, would claim to have dialed a wrong number; I suspect those two were knocking on doors to see who was home and who had dogs.  Anyhow, Mom was here with her two dogs, plus our two (at the time), and everyone was kicking up a racket; those guys beat a quick retreat and never came back.

 

Overall, we don’t think about this stuff every day, and certainly don’t panic about it, but we did assess what we felt were valid concerns, and made plans or got supplies to deal with them.  We’ve thankfully never had to use any of it…yet…but if there every was a major emergency, I am happy to know that we at least have some shot at dealing with things until emergency services arrives.  Knowing that we’re on our own for that first forty-five minutes has really motivated us to get some things we probably should have had on hand anyhow (a fire extinguisher, for instance), and prompted us to make some plans, as well as being aware of basic safety precautions, like Hubby not going up the ladder to the roof when I’m not home.  I think it’s only reasonable to be prepared, though we hope we’ll never actually need it.

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How to Eat Real Food:

 

1) go to the fridge

2) take out a carrot

3) scrub the carrot

4) eat it.

 

Okay, okay, it’s not as simple as that.  But it doesn’t have to be much more complicated.

 

I normally eat a lot of whole grains and vegetables, and usually cook from scratch.  A couple of weeks ago, I was sent on training for work, though, and was forced to eat my lunches at restaurants.  All of a sudden, I had terrible heartburn, all the time.  Like sleep-sitting-up heartburn.  I know heartburn is common during pregnancy, and just figured it was another new symptom to contend with.  Except….

 

Except that a week later, after reverting to my normal eating habits, I don’t have heartburn anymore.  Even after eating a (home-made) refried bean burrito with sour cream, extra cheese, and super-spicy salsa.  I can have a cup of coffee in the morning if I want.  Chili doesn’t make me suffer.  It appears that I am safe, as long as I avoid restaurants or pre-packaged crap.  Not too difficult, for me, and better for my (and baby’s) health anyhow.   I wish I knew what was in those soup-and-sandwich lunches, though…

 

In discussing this with friends, though, I get the usual refrain:  “Oh, that’s awesome, but I don’t have time to cook”.  Or, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy like that”.   Not to put too fine a point on it, but bullshit.  This is a real pet peeve of mine.

 

I’ve been doing this for, oh, more than a decade.  Creeping up on two, as a matter of fact.  My mom cooked like this, as well, even as a single working mom raising two kids.  It’s not that hard.  Nor that expensive.  It’s just that people hear that, then start to repeat it to themselves, without ever really checking the math.

 

There are a couple of secrets that make it cheap and easy to eat real food.

 

1) Cook lots

2) Use meat as a seasoning, if you use it at all.

3) Eat seasonally

 

 

Cooking Lots

 

When I cook, it is usually in my stock pot.  It’s a big pot – it probably holds a couple of gallons.  I rarely fill it less than halfway.  It takes almost the same amount of time to make a pot of soup for twelve as it does to make a pot of soup for four.  So, in a household of two, I cook for twelve, then I cook much less often.  When we were both working full time, I normally cooked a big pot of soup or chili on Saturday, a big pot of pasta on Sunday, and something simple and easy like stir-fry or pizza or veggie burritos once or twice during the week.  It worked out to cooking every other day, or less.  The other days were leftover days.

 

Those big pots of stuff I cooked on the weekends would be divided in half – half went in the fridge for leftover days, and the other half were portioned out into lunch-sized containers, which I took to work and re-heated in the microwave.  I was always eating a week or two behind my cooking dates, so I was having chicken soup and spaghetti and meat sauce for lunches, even though that week I’d cooked beef stew and chili for the weekday meals.  I had plenty of variety.  Based on my co-workers, who spend about ten dollars (on average) for lunch, I figure I am saving around $200 per month on lunches alone.  That makes it pretty easy to justify buying organic apples and yoghurt, and also makes me wonder how people can possibly think that it’s ‘too expensive’ to cook from scratch.  Most of my meals probably cost a buck or two per serving, tops.

 

Use Meat As Seasoning

 

Yes, it is going to cost you a fortune to cook from scratch at home, if you expect to eat steak or roast or boneless skinless chicken breast at every meal.   But that’s not necessary.  In most of my meals, a pound of ground beef would serve at least ten or twelve.  For instance, when I make chili, I use easily double (maybe triple) the amount of beans that most people might, and no-one ever notices.  Not even my (then) hardcore carnivore husband.  Likewise, when we make shepherd’s pie, we add 50% vegetables (peas, carrots, onions, corn) to the meat, then smother it in potatoes, making a pound of beef stretch into a large meal.  In my favorite vegetable chowder soup recipe, I use about six strips of bacon in a pot of soup that would heartily feed a dozen people.  Meat does not have to be the main attraction.   In fact, meat may not even have to put in an appearance.  Probably half of our favorite meals are vegetarian.  There are dozens of pasta recipes that use no meat.  I love to eat roasted root vegetables served over couscous.  Refried bean burritos make regular appearances on our dinner table.  We do eat steak, but rarely.  When $5 worth of ground beef makes ten or twelve servings, it’s pretty hard to argue that cooking healthy meals at home is expensive.

 

Eat Seasonally

 

Last week, when I went to the grocery store, I noticed that blueberries cost almost $5 for a little clamshell package with maybe a handful of berries in it.  Back in August, I was buying them for just over a dollar a pound.  Right now, carrots, apples, and cabbage are cheap, and strawberries, spinach, and watermelon are expensive.  Guess what we’re eating lots of right now?  Of course, having had a big garden, we’ve got lots of ‘winter veggies’ in our root cellar, but that is also a good measure of what’s seasonal here at this time of year.   For us, eating seasonally means root veggies, cabbage, and squash in winter, and peas, green beans, and corn in the summer.

 

Of course, you can get around this, too, if you’re willing to invest a bit of labor.  In the fall, when the sweet corn was ripening, we bought six dozen cobs from a guy down the road.  We brought it home, blanched it, cut it off the cobs, packaged it in one- and two-cup bags, and froze it.  I think it worked out to something like 40 cents a cup, for local, probably organic, sweet corn.   Now, in the dead of winter, we’re making corn chowder with it, and it’s fantastic.  I have no idea what a bag of organic frozen corn costs these days, but I’ll bet it’s not that cheap.  We also froze a lot of blueberries back in August, which we use to make smoothies now, in the middle of winter, rather than paying that outrageous price for fresh ones.  It does take some time – that corn took the two of us most of an afternoon – but that’s a trade-off we’re happy to make.  It was an afternoon of chatting and laughing, despite the work involved.

 

This is not rocket science, but a lot of people have never done the math for themselves.  It takes me as long to slap together a stir fry as it would to run out for fast food, even when we lived in town – I can whip up a decent meal in half an hour.  It often takes me longer to think up what I’m going to make than it does to actually cook it.  Now, I’ve been cooking from scratch for a long time, and practice makes it all go faster.  I remember Hubby taking for-ev-er to chop an onion back when we first started dating – he was out of practice.  Now, it takes him seconds.  Even accounting for that extra time, though, it was more economical, in time and money, for him to make spaghetti at home than to go out for a pizza.  It makes me shake my head when someone tries to assert that cooking from scratch is too time-consuming, or, worse, too expensive, to bother with.

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Winter has finally arrived in Saskatchewan.  The other day, Hubby went out to do morning chores, and a frozen chicken fell out of the rafters at him.  She must have been hiding when Hubby rounded everyone up for the night, and gone up to roost in the barn rafter, and not been able to stay warm enough out there by herself.  You’d think she’d have let herself in with the other chickens (the same way she’d let herself out – flying over the stall door), but they don’t really tend to move once it’s dark.  She was apparently frozen quite solid.  It was only minus twenty-something that night. 

 

Only.

 

Last night, the forecast was for -40.  We finally broke down and ran an extension cord out to the barn, to plug in a heat lamp.  Up until now, we had not done any additional heating or lighting in the barn – we’re trying to be as off-grid as possible.  Instead, we laid down extra bedding, and piled bales of straw up against the doors where the drafts come in.  The barn itself is not really insulated, except for the hay, which is piled in one half of the barn, and the straw bales we’ve added.  There is an inside layer of wooden siding, which cuts the draft, but not much else. The roof is not insulated at all – no hayloft or anything, as the building originally stored grain, rather than being designed as a northern barn.  We also take the water buckets out steaming hot, but they freeze solid in an hour or two.  The critters have learned to drink right away when we water them, and don’t seem to be too phased by the whole thing.

 

Up until the frozen chicken attack, we hadn’t had any real issues with the cold.  Of course, it hadn’t really been all that cold until recently, but even the nights that reached -25, the barn has consistently stayed substantially warmer than outdoor temperatures, so we hadn’t worried much.  With five goats, two alpacas, however many chickens, and three cats, there are lots of bodies throwing heat.   However, we’re getting down to those frostbite-in-fifteen-seconds sorts of temperatures, where I bundle up like a snowman just to walk across the parking lot at work, and we don’t want the critters to suffer.  That heat lamp isn’t going to raise the temperatures to tropical or anything, but it should mitigate the risk of frostbitten ears and combs.

 

Our next barn is going to have a hayloft, and some sort of interior insulation.  Or maybe just a couple of horses and a cow (for the body heat, of course).  We’re certain it is possible to get our livestock through a northern winter without electricity – lights or heat – but we’ll need a proper building to do it in…

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Since our post about slaughtering the chicken, and in conversation with friends, I’ve been asked a few times if we will go vegetarian in order to avoid future gory encounters.

 

The short answer is no.

 

The long answer is much more complicated.

 

I want to preface this post by stating that I have spent a fair portion of my adult life eating mostly or completely vegetarian.  I have a number of friends and family who are vegetarian, and that’s a choice people make for their own reasons, which are, by and large, no business of mine.   I completely respect that.

 

Having said all that, we’ve decided, after the last eight months of keeping livestock, gardening, and observing our local environment, that, for us, vegetarianism would be completely hypocritical.

 

You see, to be vegan in northern Saskatchewan, with any hope at all of being healthy, we would have to import a lot of food.  A big lot.  From a very, very long ways away.  There are not too many vegetables that are in season in Saskatchewan in January – pretty much whatever stores in the root cellar this long, which, in our current experience, amounts to potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, squash, and maybe cabbage.   We might be able to keep apples that long, if we found the right variety, which we haven’t, so there would be no fresh fruit at all.  The rest of a local vegan diet would consist of wheat and beans, basically.  You would, at the bare minimum, need a supplement to address deficiencies in vitamin D and probably at least some of the B vitamins, and likely also calcium, as the most calcium-rich veggies, such as spinach and broccoli, are not locally available in the winter.  So, your options are either processed/chemical supplements of unknown origin (the ingredients might have traveled a million miles; there is no way to know), and/or 2,400 mile meals.  That’s pretty hard to justify.

 

Okay, so, why not eat eggs and dairy? We’ve already got the goats and chickens, and that would do a long ways to solving the vitamin deficiencies.

 

That’s where the hypocrisy, for us, comes in.

 

I really only realized this after we started keeping chickens.  You see, in order to get 25 hens to lay our eggs, we ordered 50 straight run chickens.  Roughly half of our chicks were hens, and the other half were, of course, roosters.   Now, we could have ordered only girl chicks, but the same number of roosters would still have been hatched, overall.  What do you do with those roosters?  Keep them as pets?  Let them fight amongst themselves until they maimed or killed each other (and they will, we’ve discovered)?  If we were vegetarian, those roosters become, in essence, useless.

 

Further, hens only really reliably lay well for a few years, then need to be replaced.  Again, though, 50% of the new hatchlings will still be roosters, plus you’ve still got your old roosters, and, now, your old hens.  The population would just grow and grow, and it wouldn’t take long before you were feeding a couple hundred chickens to get a few eggs.  Environmentally, that has a lot of potential for disaster, too – it would not take long to exceed the carrying capacity of our land, especially when you factor in the goats.

 

You see, in order for a goat (or cow, for that matter) to give milk, she has to be bred.  Meaning, she has babies.  Goats typically have twins, and, statistically, half will be boys.  So, suddenly, you are more than doubling your goat population every year, just to keep getting milk.  And half of that population can’t give milk.  Sure, you can sell some off, but people want girl goats a lot more than boy goats…they want milk, too.  So again, you have a problem with excess useless boys.

 

So, even if you are eating free-range, pastured, grass fed, humanely raised eggs and dairy, you’re still an accessory to the killing of all those extra boys that were necessary in order to produce your food.  For us, we’d rather tackle the issue head on, and ensure our meat is humanely raised and humanely killed, and deal with our own emotional ramifications, than being involved in exactly the same thing, but without really thinking about it or addressing the issue.

 

Now, I must have known this on some level – I mean, it’s basic biology, right?  However, it really did not hit home until we were deciding whether or not to order more hens this spring, a conversation which necessarily included a discussion on how many roosters we could really eat in a year.  Then I suddenly realized that we really can’t have eggs without also eating chicken.   So, although we had kept the vegetarian option in reserve, just in case we really couldn’t stomach killing our own livestock, it is clear to us now that it’s not really a viable option for us.   So, omnivores we shall remain, if occasionally guilty ones.

 

 

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So, we finally bit the bullet and butchered a chicken.  Now, we’ve put a couple of them down before, but we had not, until today, killed a perfectly healthy chicken for the sole purpose of eating it.  We had planned to butcher back in October or early November, but I was far too queasy to even think about wet feathers, let alone guts.

 

I thought I was over the queasy stage of pregnancy, but apparently I was wrong.  I did manage not to puke, however.  Even when I was breaking the leg joint, horrifying sound and all.  Nor when I was scraping guts out with my fingernails.  I thought I did pretty well, considering.

 

Wet feathers do stink, as do chicken guts.  Really, though, that’s probably pregnant-nose speaking – I can smell salt-and-vinegar chips from two miles away right now.  Not-pregnant, the smell probably would not be too bad.

 

We really did not get a tidy result.  There were hangy bits and ragged cuts and little hairs – can you believe that chickens have hairs?  These were decidedly not feathers.  I tried to singe them off with a candle, but mostly just got wax down my arm.  I was getting sick of the whole business by then.  “That’s okay,” Hubby said, “We just won’t put this one in a skirt”.   I’m glad he’s relaxed about the state of his food.

 

Hubby feels like we’ve turned a corner in our homesteading.  He feels like we’re more legit, since we’ve killed something with the intent of eating it for supper (eventually).  We were both worried that we might wind up with twenty-some-odd rooster ‘pets’.  I’m fairly pleased with our results, considering it’s a first try and all.

 

Anyways, we now have a (slightly ragged and hairy) chicken in the freezer, and we’ve gotten most of the feathers off the kitchen floor.  However, it’s going to be a couple of weeks before we eat chicken, I’m afraid…

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I got sent home from work today, due to road conditions.  I walked out of the office, and smelled the pines and poplars – it smelled like spring.  Most likely because it was pouring rain and +2.  In northern Saskatchewan, in January.  We’re at least 15 degrees warmer than normal, maybe 20.  I’m afraid that if this weather keeps up, my fruit trees will start to break dormancy – it happens in Calgary all the time during chinooks, and kills a lot of trees, especially young ones.

 

One of the things I was looking forward to in moving back to Saskatchewan was predictable winter weather.  It’s supposed to get cold around Halloween, and stay cold until sometime just before Easter.  No melty weather or horrible icy roads.  No chinooks, and no midwinter warm spells.  Just nice cold weather that you can acclimatize to, with nice fluffy snow (no ice layer) that you can ski on.  So much for that thought.

 

I told Hubby that if next winter does this too, we’re going to start buying trees a couple zones warmer than our theoretical zone, because if we can get them to survive, we could potentially be growing peaches and sweet cherries (zone 5 trees) down at the farm (currently considered a zone 3 area) in 5 or 10 years when global warming really picks up.  If I can’t have proper winter, I might as well at least have tasty fruit…

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Yesterday, for some extremely odd reason, I woke up early, with lots of energy.  So I cleaned out the pantry.  I’m clearly crazy.

 

It got me to thinking, though, that I have not really talked a whole bunch about our successes (and failures) with storing our produce from the garden.   With time on my hands, this morning, it seems like a good time to share that information.

 

As you may recall, I canned a lot of jam, jelly, salsa, and fruit this fall.  Most of it is still there.  The jam and jelly and salsa we have been using a bit at a time, but we make tons extra, and give it away as gifts, so I don’t have a set amount to make each year.  We don’t seem to eat a lot of canned fruit through the winter – when we really enjoy it is in the spring and summer, eaten with a spoon in lieu of a meal on a hot day, or served over ice cream.  I did discover, however, that while it is fine to leave the skin on the pears and the nectarines, it is truly essential to skin the peaches prior to canning – the fuzz on my tongue makes me feel like I’m trying to eat a cat.  At any rate, the canning pantry is still quite full, and that’s about what we expected for this time of year.

 

The root cellar has been a mixed success.  We harvested mid-September through mid-October, but there were still a lot of warm days after some of the crops were pulled in.  However, some of the roots (like beets) don’t like frost, and our first frost came mid-September, so Nature set our harvest date for us.  We were expecting a hard freeze and even heavy snow by Halloween, which would be normal enough for this area, but in fact, we did not get real cold and snow until mid-November.  Oh, well.  Better to harvest a little early than to lose the harvest entirely!

 

The root cellar started out fairly humid, as the basement had been flooded in the spring, due to a water delivery fellow who did not know where the hole for filling the cistern was, and chose wrong – the dirt floor of the root cellar absorbed a fair bit of water.  However, our furnace is in the basement, and has really dried things out down there.  We put most of the root veggies (except the potatoes) in plastic rubbermaid containers, covered with garbage bags (that we could move on or off to control the humidity), in order to prevent them from drying out too much.  That has worked better for some things than others, and we’ve had occasional problems with mold, as a result.

 

The turnips, most of which had some level of worm damage, had to be disposed of in late November or early December.  Some, we cut the mushy bits off and fed to the goats, but a lot of them just had to be composted.  When they went, it was very fast; a couple of weeks prior, I had taken out a turnip for soup, and had not noticed any issues with the rest of the bag.  If we have bees next fall, we might try cutting out the damaged bits and waxing them, but I’m not willing to dip my food in paraffin, which is a petroleum product, so we did not do that this year.  Apparently, due to the amount of canola (a relative of turnips, broccoli, and cabbage) grown in this area, turnip pests are heavy and endemic, and we have been told we are doing well if we get any crop at all, especially without spraying, so we’re not too disappointed with our results.

 

The beets are still going strong.  They have not gotten moldy, wrinkly, mushy, or otherwise disgusting.  Too bad we did not get much of a harvest, as they look to be one of the big successes in the cellar.

 

The carrots are doing so-so.  We had early problems with rot from too much humidity, but now we’re finding an awful lot of limp, wrinkly roots that taste bitter.  There are still a lot of good ones, but Hubby is saying he does not think they’ll last much into February, at the rate we’re going.  Given that we harvested something in the realm of 200 pounds, we will have plenty of carrots right up until they get too gross to eat.  Happily, the non-wrinkly carrots still taste fantastic.

 

I can see why potatoes are a staple in northern climates.  They are all still fine, almost as crunchy as the day we harvested them, with no special care at all.  We just dumped them in burlap sacks in the root cellar and ignored them, really.  We used the blemished ones early – we assumed that the scars from the digging fork would probably cause them to rot early – but we have not found a single rotten potato yet at all.

 

We bought a 20 pound bag of cabbages from the store in the fall – sometime before Halloween – they were very cheap, and I wanted to know how well they would store.  Some of the outer leaves have gotten dried out, but you just peel off the top few layers, and the cabbage underneath is fine.  They will clearly do well in our cellar.

 

We’ve also been keeping eggs in the root cellar, as we’ve long since run out of room in the fridge – there’s four dozen in the cellar, and two dozen in the fridge, right at the moment.  We really weren’t prepared for winter eggs. The cellar seems to keep them just fine, and we’ve eaten eggs out of there that were several weeks old, and they were as tasty as the ones from the fridge.  I’ve read that you can store fresh, unwashed eggs in the fridge for up to 9 months, or up to 2 or 3 months on the counter, so presumably the root cellar is a fine place for them.

 

We did not keep the onions in the root cellar; they and the winter squash went in an unused bedroom with the furnace vent covered, so they stayed cool and dry.  We had one squash (a very small one, probably immature when we picked it) go bad in December, but the rest are still fine.  We’ve picked out the odd mushy onion, but they are also going strong.

 

The tomatoes were mostly goners in late November and early December.

 

We still have some frozen fruit from prior years, but we are going to have to freeze up quite a lot more this year, as I am absolutely burning through it right now.  We did not put much fruit in the freezer this year, as we did not find the local U-pick operations in time.   Hopefully, the strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries we planted will start bearing this year or next, and we can just freeze our own, though I question if we will really have enough to be able to get through the whole year.

 

We figured out our annual corn quota a few years ago, and we’re on track to have enough again this year.  I wish we’d had more peas to freeze, though.  We’ve got plenty of green beans; probably even more than we’ll use this year, as it has been so mild we’ve not really been making soup, which is where I usually go through the bulk of my frozen beans.

 

We are still buying a lot from the store, especially dairy and fresh fruit and veggies, as, with me being pregnant, we need to keep up eating lots of good, fresh food.  However, our days of buying frozen fruit and veggies from anywhere else are over, and I am impressed with the beets and potatoes.  I don’t imagine the root cellar will carry us all the way through to the early harvests in July, but I am curious how close we’ll get.   All in all, I am happy with these early attempts at feeding ourselves from our own land, though we still have lots to learn!

 

 

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