Monday, November 23, 2009


Brian was talking to someone the other day who was asking about our gardens in November, asking what we were growing right now. He assumed with the cold weather there wasn't much; but Brian told him about all our cold hardy veggies like kale, mache, cabbage, leeks, collards, plus lettuce and spinach in cold frames and under cover, as well as our home raised milk, eggs and meat from our animals. Plus we have cans and cans of home preserved jams, sauces, broths and pickles, buckets and boxes of potatoes and apples. We got some jokes about preparing for the apocalypse, which Brian of course plays up. We often joke with each other about being survivalists with our self-sufficiency goals, buckets of stored food, and love of food preservation. And I do have a fascination with end-of-the-world novels. But really we aren't preparing for Mad Max scenarios, nuclear winter or zombie attacks.

Many years ago Brian and I looked at the problems we humans were causing and the issues we would be facing in our children's lifetimes; global warming, peak oil, environmental degradation, the industrial food system... and we thought long and hard about what our reaction would be. We had already done the activism thing, with disappointing results. So what could we possibly do (besides offing ourselves) to some way minimize our personal impact on the planet, while still living within the confines of the system.

We decided the best we could do was to work towards self-reliance. Anything we could grow, raise or create ourselves was one less thing creating waste, warming the planet and using fossil fuels. When we couldn't or didn't have the time or energy to make it ourselves, we decided to try and find the least damaging source of the item. We buy food in bulk because it has less packaging and uses less fuel in transport (and it's cheaper). I like to buy many things second hand to minimize waste and not wasting resources creating something new when used works just as well (and it's cheaper). Now we are by no means perfect; we shop at stores, drive a car, watch movies, etc. But we do try.

There are also some additional benefits to having our food storage, stacks of firewood and herd and flocks of animals. If we ever had a personal disaster; Brian loses his job or we get a ton of unanticipated medical bills (like our ER trip a few months ago created, despite good insurance), I know I will have plenty to feed my family. Usually once a winter our area loses power for a few days, and I have seen the scramble as people go to the store to buy drinking water, candles and canned food when a big storm is predicted. With our solar power and wood heat, we are relatively insulated from these things. So we aren't crazy survivalists, despite our stocked pantry, hand tools and books on how to do everything from tanning hides to smoking meat. We just believe in being prepared and the value of learning how to do things ourselves.

This last week had more intense wind storms, but despite keeping us up all night; there was very little damage. Brian dismantled our tangled irrigation systems to store for the winter, and I've been doing more lime plaster inside to house. We are preparing to go see my family in Southern Oregon for Thanksgiving, while a good friend is kind enough to take care of our animals. We are looking forward to Christmas break to have a big chunk of time to get work done on the house.


  1. Your family is truly an inspiration!! Thanks for being true to yourselves, it helps the ones that are yet to be fully self sustaining to see it can be done!

  2. if your readers are looking for more information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a detailed, interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at