Self-Sufficiency Series

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Picking potatoes

Last week we finally got the potatoes picked. We had the threat of rain to motivate us and I knew I couldn't put off digging potatoes any longer. The vines had died but as long as the ground was dry, I knew the taters wouldn't rot. But once the soil got saturated, it wouldn't be long before we'd lose the crop. So... time to dig.

We planted eight tires of taters last spring. This is what they looked like in August...


...and this photo was taken October 15.


I'd been harvesting the red potatoes little by little as we needed them...



...so about half the red potatoes from one tire were already gone. Early one morning last week I went out to harvest the rest of the reds. Later I weighed these and they came in at about fifty pounds.


I conscripted Younger Daughter and our friend GG to help dig the Russet potatoes (Older Daughter was at work).


Sizes ranged form tiny (marble-sized) to generous, though of course most were medium-sized.


We also found a few comical ones.


After harvesting half the Russets, we ended up with a full tub.


It came in at about 100 lbs.


The next day we finished harvesting the beds. Older Daughter (home from work) found it hard not to accidentally stab potatoes with the pitchfork. These damaged ones will get eaten first.


The rest of the harvest didn't quite fill a second tub.


This came in at about 80 lbs.


So altogether we harvested about 230 lbs. of potatoes. Combined with what we dug up and consumed right away, I'm going to estimate we got 250 lbs. out of eight tires, or a little over 30 lbs. per tire.

Now we have to find a place to store them!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Splitting firewood plus thoughts about Hillary

Saturday seemed like our last gasp of warm weather for the year. It reached a rather dazzling 72F, very unusual for late October. Yesterday, however, the temperature never topped 40F. It was a good day for doing firewood.

We've had the woodstove going before this, but we were careful since our split wood supply (left over from last spring) was very low.


But we have no shortage of wood. This is our supply, which will hopefully last us about three years.


Before getting started, we had to move some ten-foot thin tamarack logs which Don cut last spring. These are reserved as garden poles (we have plans to fence in an additional portion of the garden area for an orchard). Tamarack rots slowly and is excellent for poles. So the first thing we did was pull those away from the woodpile and stack them separately so they wouldn't accidentally get used for firewood.


After that it was time to get to work. Firewood is definitely a family activity around here. Don cuts...


I split...


...and the girls divvy up the remainder of the chores. Since Older Daughter had just returned from her housekeeping job, she got the easiest task, which was to move the cut rounds close to the splitter.


Younger Daughter hauled...


...and our friend GG stacked.


Our philosophy toward firewood is: If you like heat, then you'll help with the wood chores. To be fair, no one has ever argued with this philosophy... especially since everyone likes heat. We feel this attitude has a very 2 Thessalonians 3:10 feel to it.

So anyway, while splitting wood I started thinking... has Hillary Clinton (who has presidential aspirations) ever split wood? Does she know what it takes to stay warm in the winter besides pushing a button on a thermostat?

The trouble with politicians is the vast majority of them have never worked at anything substantial. They seldom have experience on the ground floor of American life. A few have had respectable professions (physicians, etc.), but too many of them entered politics at a young age and have never done anything else. They are completely and totally out of touch -- not only with what it takes to make an honest living, but also with all the elemental things to survive (cutting firewood, growing food, raising livestock, building shelters, etc.).

And then Hillary has the unmitigated gall to claim that businesses don't create jobs. If she has such a poor grasp of economics, how much less of a grasp does she have on what it takes to survive in this world outside of her political ivory tower? And yet she claims she can guide and steer our nation because of her comprehensive knowledge of it?

Our friend GG said it best: "Hillary wouldn’t split wood even if doing so would save the country. Or actually, having her split firewood would save the country because it would mean she wasn’t in politics and instead would be living on a farm. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if there was no Hillary in politics?"

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Where do you live?

In reading a recent link from The Prepper Journal (linked from SurvivalBlog), I was stopped in my tracks by the following map:


The caption to this map reads: Half Of The United States Lives In These Counties

This was so riveting that I called Don and the kids over to see, and we gaped in amazement. Half the population of America crammed into those little tiny spaces.

So where do you live?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fun and games

For the last few weeks, the girls have been busy putting together costumes to attend Pac Con (described on the website as "the region's largest Pop Culture and Comic Convention attracting fans of TV, film, comics, anime, animation, art and collectables and costuming from around the region").


My nerdy girls wanted to "cosplay" as time travelers (à la Doctor Who), specifically Mary Poppins and Ms. Frizzle (from the Magic Schoolbus).

The costumes required either clever finds at thrift stores, or sewing from scratch. Here's a cut-down straw hat with flowers and grapes (couldn't find cherries) to imitate Mary Poppins' chapeau.


Younger Daughter made Older Daughter's Ms. Frizzle dress from a gaudy cotton print with a planet and space theme.


Older Daughter couldn't find any screaming-yellow thrift store pumps like Ms. Frizzle wears, so she settled on patent leather flats and attached some space and school bus stickers. Here they're clamped on so the glue will dry.


The final result.


GG, our resident jeweler, made Older Daughter a hasty pair of planetary earrings.


Friday night she also braided Older Daughter's damp hair into multiple silly braids in order to "frizz" it the sufficient amount for the big day on Saturday.


Don made Younger Daughter a wooden parrot head to fit on the end of an umbrella. Here Younger Daughter is painting it.


The final result.


She also constructed a carpet bag out of cardboard with a tweed fabric covering (not exactly matching Mary Poppins' bag, but the best we could do).


She added a last-minute cloth handle in the car while I drove to the event.


Our friend GG (of Dreamwire Designs) got here too late to plan an elaborate costume, so on Friday she made herself a "spacey"-looking headpiece...


...with accompanying earrings. It was fascinating to watch the creation process and I plan to do a blog post on how she makes things in the future.


Here all three girls primp, getting ready to leave on Saturday morning.


The girls pose just before leaving for the event.



But before we left, we had to all join forces and scoot a recalcitrant calf back where she was supposed to be. Little Lucy has become quite the escape artist.


This is my grumpy group after chasing a calf. Hey, life on a farm.


I dropped the girls off at the Convention Center in Spokane. (They had tickets. I didn't.)


They certainly weren't the only ones in costume!


Older Daughter took a few photos from inside the convention.

The original Batmobile.


Princess Merida from the Disney movie Brave.



Just some guy in a costume Older Daughter admired.


But the big draw -- and I specifically asked for photos, if possible -- was William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame.


Among the nerd crowds, there is some disdain for ol' Mr. Shatner (beautifully spoofed, of course, in the movie Galaxy Quest), but having grown up on the original television series, I have an abiding affection for him.


Therefore I was absurdly pleased when the girls said his talk was packed and he had several hundred people lining up for autographs at something like $80/pop. Hey, a guy's gotta make a living.


The girls were asked to pose for pictures numerous times by strangers. Little children stopped in their tracks at the sight of Mary Poppins in the flesh. The president of a science club in Spokane asked Older Daughter to make an appearance at his "Girls in Science" club meeting next summer since so many girls entered science due to Ms. Frizzle's influence. (Older Daughter will be at nanny school next summer, so she won't be able to attend.)

Here the girls paid a small fee to have their photos taken in front of a life-size TARDIS from Doctor Who.


All in all, the kids had a terrific time in this nerdy atmosphere and chattered about it for hours. As Younger Daughter summarized, "As far as nerds go, it's nice to know we're not alone."