Thursday, 9 March 2017

Independence Days Challenge: Week Twenty

'The fact is that some things will be lost in our new way of life. It is useless to pretend that the transformation to a lower-energy, lower-consumption society will always be painless and easy. Thus, the only possible way we can bring it about is to replace some of the pleasures we are losing with new ones - with rituals of non-consumption that offer us something to replace what is lost.'
Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk pg 33

The author then goes on to discuss World War II and the national unity and sense of purpose that gave people the incentive to 'make do and mend' and 'dig for victory' and various other campaigns. These campaigns all seemed as though they would be a chore or a nuisance and make people very unhappy with their lot, but the opposite was often found to be true. Working together in this way brought real satisfaction that the work they were doing was important for the war effort and was actually achieving something.
This is what I feel is missing in our lives at the moment. People go to work in order to earn money to accumulate enough to indulge in leisure activities that don't seem to bring any long-lasting happiness or satisfaction. We seem to be mice running in a wheel a lot of the time!

So what have I been up to in the last few weeks? Unfortunately, not a lot in the garden/farm department. It has been hot, hot, hot for a long time, and too hot for being outside except in early morning/evening. So I have been pretty much keeping what I have alive at the moment and am waiting for autumn to finally arrive.

1. Plant something
I have planted some of the shelling peas that I saved from last year's harvest to see the germination rate. And they have all popped up! So I will be succession planting these over the next month to hopefully have lots of peas for the freezer.

2. Harvest something
This is my seed saving from last year - not very much but I am happy to be starting on my seed saving journey. I have started with some easy ones! Shelling peas, broad beans and peony poppies.

Those peony poppies are the best investment ever! I purchased one plant from our Christian bookshop two years ago. The man there propagates plants to raise money for a girl they sponsor in Papua New Guinea.
Last year I just let the plant drop its seeds and I had quite a lot of plants, probably 20 or so. And look how many seeds I collected this year! I am planning on planting them amongst my daffodils, so I need to start sowing them.

Other than that, lots of eggs. For 'old' chickens, they are laying so well. To think in a commercial operation, they would have been culled three years ago!
And herbs - rosemary, mint, sage, Vietnamese mint.

I have also been digging all my daffodil bulbs - phew! I have two big bags full and haven't finished yet. I am planning to transplant them all to one dedicated area for a mass display. Currently they have just been dotted around the garden where there was space.

I have been working on the weeding. Look, you can see half the garden and the paths again!

3. Preserve something

Not really preserving as such, but I bought lots of bananas on super special and put them in the freezer for smoothies.
I also made some meatballs in bulk for the freezer.

4. Minimise waste

I don't know about you, but school notices drive me nuts! Every week I seem to receive so much paper, which first clutters up my table and then has to be disposed of in some way. I have a huge pile of scrap paper as most of these notices are only printed on one side. So I keep them all to use for working out paper for homework, shopping lists, garden planning, etc. But this hardly seems to make a dent in the pile!
So I also shred the paper to use in the chicken nesting boxes or to add to the compost.
What do you do with excess paper?

5. Want not

Image from

I was reading this post recently on the importance of storing water for emergencies. For some reason, water storage has gone off my radar recently, as has most prepping. I am focusing on cleaning up and sorting out so I can prep in a more organised fashion. But then a bombshell hit me (duh!) - what if something happened tomorrow? I couldn't just put up my hand and ask the emergency to hold off for a while as I wasn't quite ready!

So I have added some bottles of water to my freezer. This has a few advantages:
 - it fills up the extra space in your freezer to make it run more efficiently
 - if the power goes out, frozen water will help the rest of the items stay frozen for longer
 - it is stored water you can use for drinking, etc.

I must making sorting my storage area a priority!

Strangers and Pilgrims On Earth will be doing a whole series on preparedness, so keep an eye out for that!

6. Cook something new

I made this chai tea mix. I love chai tea, so wanted to try out a few recipes. This one is very bitter, which I guess is how chai is meant to be. I have added more tea to the mixture to tone it down a bit. But still yummy!

7. Manage your reserves

More pantry organisation. I am hoping to collect enough glass jars to transfer all my pantry stores to glass - really big jars are difficult, although I was lucky to get two from a catering job recently.

8. Work on local food systems

This really is my let down area. Maybe it is because I am reluctant to put myself forward when my own home systems are not that fantastic. I have a definite perfectionist streak so absolutely feel that everything needs to be spick and span and perfect before I can be telling anyone else about local food systems.
This is my main goal for 2017 - to make some major leaps towards self-sufficiency.

Hope you are all getting some gardening/homesteading planning and work done. I would love to hear about it.

Not my garden, by the way! Soon!


  1. A few years ago, the boys school stopped sending home notices, went on to emails and texts. The only paper copy we get these days are the reports, but we see them on the computer first before the hard copy cones home. They text us news snippets, open day details etc, saves so much waste.

    1. We do have an app but most people still rely on paper notices. I guess it would just take time for people to swap over.

  2. I know it's a lot of wasted paper but in actually hate having electronic messages. Imdontncheck my email regularly and have forgone social media, I seen to do better with something tangible in my hand. I actually homeschool my children and am trying to move more to a Charlotte Mason approach where much emphasis is placed on footwork and dictation. Maybe teachers could kill two birds with one stone and incorporate notices into schoolwork☺ Have you any tips on preserving herbs? I have rosemary, sage and thyme. The only thing producing for me at the moment are cucumbers, but we couldn't eat them all and they grew to large and were bitter so I am now resolved to pick them young and give away perfect or not.

    1. I so wish to get back to homeschooling. I was using CM method as well. You must be loving it!
      My oldest son's homework does come home as part of the weekly class newsletter, so that is good.
      Herbs like those I always dry as they dry really well. Although I don't tend to preserve them much as mine produce all year round.
      My zucchini did that again this year. Every year, I promise that none will get away from me but there are always a few that I miss and they get enormous. Lucky the chickens will still eat them!