29 September 2008

A little close for comfort

At the risk of sounding a complete crank and darnit, being wrong about what's going on in the world, I'm going to come out of the doom closet. Oh, you already knew I was a doomer? Well, this is going to be easy then. It's the end of the world as we know it. Let me rephrase that: it's the end of the world as we've known it for the past fifty or sixty years. My generation has up til now, only experienced relative prosperity and security, but my grandparents lived through world wars, financial collapse, pre-antibiotic healthcare, and life without a government safety net. I think we're headed in the same direction, but without the benefit of generally low expectations. Perhaps the current financial crisis will forestall the coming climate, population and energy crises for a time, but that will be small consolation for those of us young enough and lucky enough to have avoided the insecurity that has been the fate of most of humanity for most of history. And a woefully unprepared bunch we are.

I went to school when home economics was being phased out of the curriculum. Those of us headed for higher education wouldn't have considered taking it even if it had been offered. Traditional women's work was of such low value you didn't need to learn it in school. Besides, with our careers we'd have money, so we didn't need to worry about preparing food or mending clothes or cleaning our houses. Luckily, globalization came along, and with all our stuff now made by underpaid children in developing countries, we could be thrifty by buying stuff. Conservation would help the environment and our wallets. We could buy a Prius and a programmable thermostat and save the world. Most of us run our lives and families and homes with steady injections of cash not skills.

It is unfashionable, unless you're a Mormon or a survivalist, to prepare for the worst. Culturally, we are chronically optimistic that, as in the adage you don't need to outrun the bear, you only need to outrun your buddy, nothing too terrible could happen to me and mine because we're not at the bottom. The blog world is becoming populated with people who reject this idea of immunity and are starting to prepare for the worst. And some of them are not cranks. From what I can tell, most of them are American, and the kind of American who does not believe in any kind of divine American superiority. In other words, the kind of American we Canadians aren't afraid of.

What I'm leading up to is that I think we all need to prepare for hard times. Mentally as well as physically. Check out this: Casaubon's Book and this: Justice Desserts for examples of what other people are doing. I'm just starting to come around to this idea myself and I'll post more on the topic as time goes on.

Ok, my rant is over.

26 September 2008

Getting political

My vote will serve only to enhance the funding of whatever party I vote for, because it sure won't elect anyone - living in a Conservative stronghold riding as I am. For other people, though, go to Vote for Environment to find out how best to strategically vote. I wish the "anyone but Harper" candidates in the critical ridings would get together and decide who should drop out of the race to make it easy for voters. But that's not going to happen. So be strategic. Or stay home and have a glass of wine.

22 September 2008

Simple summer

This was a pretty big summer for our family. I started off with a bang by quitting my job. Then we moved out to the country. Madeleine officially started "homeschooling". We built the first garden beds and started growing salad greens.

So how's it all working out? Well, we should have done it a lot sooner. The thing about not having a job is that it's a lot less work. Madeleine and I have pretty much dropped out of civilized society and we're both loving it. Luc's still working for the man, but I think life is easier for him, too. You'd have to ask him personally, but there's a lot less stress and more fun in the house and that can't be bad.

21 September 2008

Personal farming

These folks have the most amazing business. Your Backyard Farmer is a company in Portland, OR that creates, plants, maintains and harvests food gardens in its customers' backyards. They very cleverly overcame a huge barrier to getting into the organic farming business because they don't require any land of their own. This is one for the cool business idea folder. If I had one.

20 September 2008


I think this is quite a good video, but I kind of like despair as entertainment.

18 September 2008

Not quite food self-sufficiency

I tend to be a little unimpressed with people's proud blog photos of their garden produce, but this is different - these are my radishes.

17 September 2008

13 September 2008

Garden update

The garden has now grown to 9 raised beds. Four of the beds are now planted with salad greens, mostly. One of the beds is reserved for garlic. I picked up a whole bunch of Music and Red Russian garlic from the Carp Farmer's Market this morning. I'm hoping to still have enough to plant by October, but given the amount of garlic that is consumed in our house, that's not a certainty. Luckily, the market will still be running for a while yet.

We picked up some Highland Blue cheese from Back Forty Artisan Cheese while we were at the market. Now that's cheese. It's made from raw ewe's milk and tastes like the earth. In a good way. This food is deeply satisfying to my inner rebel. All that fat and bacteria and flavour couldn't possibly come out of an industrial food factory.

05 September 2008

Turkey trot

This handsome family of wild turkeys took a stroll by the house this morning. We're at the limit of their range, but the population has been steadily increasing over the past few years due to a release program a few years ago. I'm not in favour of introducing animals into areas where they aren't native, especially if their survival is at risk in severe weather and the main reason is to provide hunters something to shoot at, but I always like to see wild turkeys.

02 September 2008

Not back to school

I heard the school bus stopping for the neighbour kid at 7:30 this morning and took another sip of coffee and gazed out the window at the birds. Madeleine slept, blissfully unaware of the drama taking place next door. A very pleasant start to the new unschool year.

My, how the garden is growing!

Tomorrow morning, when the temperature is something below 30C, I'll fill these beds with the topsoil and mushroom compost we had delivered last week. One of the beds will be planted with garlic at the end of the month. I may plant some more leafy green stuff in one of the other new beds, and annual rye grass as a winter cover crop in the rest.

01 September 2008

I'm surfing so you don't have to

I've just discovered Google Reader and, as Kramer would say, I'm lovin' it! It allows me to read all the news and blogs I follow in one place without having to check for new posts. The best feature is the sharing function. If I read something that I find interesting, I can share it and it automatically updates the "This is interesting..." widget on the blog. Sometimes I'll add a comment which can be read by clicking the "read more" button.

Google Reader is a very user friendly RSS reader (or aggregator). Until a couple of days ago, I didn't think it was worth the effort to bother learning how to use an RSS feed. Leave it to Google to make it no effort at all. It reminds me of those post-apocolyptic novels which describe how, before things got really bad, the population was comfortably and blindly relying on some big brother type of organization (usually the government) to take care of them.


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