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Monday, March 30, 2009

Awesome Oregon Seeds

Oregon's climate and natural diversity lends itself to producing some really high quality seeds and food.

I prefer to buy local whenever possible but I also want a higher quality product.

My top two Oregon seed companies are:

TERRITORIAL SEED - be sure to get a catalog
20 Palmer Avenue, Cottage Grove, OR 97424
(800) 626-0866

VICTORY SEED COMPANY
P.O. Box 192, Molalla, OR 97038
(503) 829-3126

Also local are: (I haven't ordered from either of these companies yet)

NICHOLS GARDEN NURSERY
1190 Old Salem Road NE, Albany, OR 97321
(800) 422-3985

WILD GARDEN SEED
P.O. Box 1509, Philomath, OR 97370
(541) 929-4068

Get out there and garden, it tastes great and it's cheaper than store bought food which will be important this year.

Rick

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A few prepper thoughts...

I've been browsing a bit and have a few websites for you to visit.

The Prudent Food Storage FAQ hasn't been updated in a few years but it deserves a fresh mention even if it's just because of the simple pdf download. The concepts are sound and actually very thorough even if a few years dated.
Also of merit is the page on water treatment. I put a bit more trust into bleach, pasteurization and potassium permanganate than described, but I'm big on pre-filtering and water collection which is easy due to the rainfall in Oregon.

A couple staples I'm interested in providing for myself are sugar and salt. They're essential in many ways, easy to store and cheap right now, they don't degrade but they do take up space. Their uses are so numerous I couldn't even begin to touch on them but what happens when they're gone? In Oregon I'm close to the sea so I plan to harvest saltwater if needed and boil it off as Lewis and Clark did. While I'm there I'll harvest clams, mussels, seaweed, fish and crab if I'm lucky. There are a lot of drawbacks to this idea that I won't go into, like the million other people with similar ideas, but it's a valid plan if it's worth the risk.

Sugar seems like a much easier task for me. Sugar beets will grow well in many parts of Oregon and honey (consider top bar hives) are a natural. Maples, while plentiful aren't known for their syrup here, it's just too moderate of a climate, though there should be bands of the Cascades that would work well.

There's nothing wrong with storing a year's worth of supplies, but if you can store 6 months worth and 1000 years worth of knowledge in replacing it... give a man a fish or teach him to fish for himself!?

If it's time to use your storage foods (other than rotation) it's time to start the replacements. Don't wait until you're lacking, replace it as you use it in one form or another.

Today is the time to buy atleast a bag of rice and a bag of beans to put back for the future though they still need water to prepare them. A few cans of fruits and vegetables on your shelf will give you flavor for the staples, but your family deserves food insurance far more than it deserves life insurance.

Grow something at home, a leftover milk jug can grow a small to moderate tomato plant, cucumber or chili (jalapeno or habenaro) herbs are easy in a cut down milk jug, fill them tight. If you use a milk jug to start a plant you can cut out the base and drop it in a clean loose hole later and then toss the pot.

Make your own food, don't expect the government to provide it at the nearest store or distribution point.

Potatoes are a great form of survival food, the starch is irreplaceable, but in creating this marvelous food they suck nutrition from the soil and have to be rotated. I guess we finally learned this from the potato famines. It you're into guerrilla gardens potatoes are a great option. the foliage is rarely recognized as food and even if it is, it's too early, you want to harvest potatoes after the greens die off.

Rick -
Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Winston update

My wife and I can't even begin to express our feelings about the interest over my post regarding giving up our dog.

The response here and at APN has been impressive to say the least. I know how I feel about my pets and I'm sure that other people feel very strongly about their pets, but to know you care so much for my pets, I'm frankly overwhelmed.

I'll keep you updated on our progress in finding Winston a new home.

Rick

Cheesemaking round two

This last weekend I gave another shot at making cheese. The first attempt was less than stellar but it was a great learning experience.

Friday night I started a batch of feta using my homemade starter and a bottle of vegetable rennet I found at the local health food store (it seems seriously over priced at $8 an oz). The recipe came together like a 4 piece puzzle, no problems and a perfect response every step of the way.

By noon on Saturday I decided I had to try another recipe, so I tried a basic hard cheese recipe. It came together pretty well but I won't be able to let it age very long as I screwed up and didn't get it in the press soon enough while it was still warm.

I cheated on the feta and tasted it after two days; I'll never need or want to buy it from the store again. I can't believe the difference, it was a little salty I guess, but they do suggest you rinse it :).

The hard cheese is already drying out well but it has too many deep cracks that would have been pressed out if I had got it in the press earlier and/or actually had a little more weight on the press (it's a jar of nickles and pennies coming in at about 5 lbs). I think I'll just slice it up and enjoy it.

I tried to make ricotta from the whey but I let it boil while I was working on a computer problem for the kids. The curds ended up so small I didn't want to clog my cheese cloth with it.

As always your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Rick

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do you want a great dog?

I have a black lab that's going to go, I hate to do it but I just can't justify keeping him.

He's about 110 lbs, male, about 7 years old. He's loyal (protective and obedient) to females and obedient to males and male children. It took him less than a month to learn the cars, knocks and footfalls of my family so I consider Winston a great watch dog. He'll bark up a storm when the front gate opens without our cars proceeding it. He actually bit my father-in-law the first time he came over and he happened to touch my wife, it was a perfect warning bite with no blood but it pissed him off and scared us all. Winston knew what he was doing, I really wish I could keep him.

Cost is a serious issue for us, he eats twice what my other dog does and with the wife in a new, minimum wage job it makes things tough. Winston also has a issue with 'available foods', the kids walk away from their plate and it's gone. He'll drag anything out of the kitchen garbage can that smells like food, so every time I get a 5lb tub of hamburger I throw it away once when I cook it, and a second time when I pick it up out of the back yard after Winston has licked it.

We took on Winston because we wanted a second, younger dog for our boys and the family in general. We'd both been through a case where our dogs had died and nobody wanted to replace him, we wanted a place holder for the affection I guess. Winston is well loved like the black sheep he is. When he steals a 7 year-olds dinner off his plate when he runs off to the bathroom he's not that popular. He was abused at his last home and abandoned for close to a month without food. I used to walk into the house with a newspaper and toss it on the couch and he would make a puddle, If I could find his former owner I'd beat him with a lead filled newspaper. I made a 'baby' out of 2 newspapers and played with him until he now trusts people again. Winston no longer 'puddles', not even if I wack him for fun, his tail just wags. He's a true family dog now with indoor mentality.

I've been fighting this problem for over 6 months, if you want a great loyal dog that needs more than just a two hours a night I can set you up.

If I don't find a taker, Winston is going to a local shelter, I hate to do it because I know they aren't getting a ton of cash either and will have to find a solution at some point. For either a shelter or a new home I'm going to provide 2 large bags of food and all his toys.

I'll drive him a couple hours to find him a home if you're interested, he's a great dog that needs a suitable life. What I see for him is an indoor dog at night that can work a farm during the day, while having human contact most of the day. If kinda sounds like what I want for myself.

You have to know it's serious when we give up our friends..

Rick

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seeds, gardening and yard work.

I made it out into the front yard to do some clean-up and garden prep finally. The weather so far this year has been a little temperamental and I'm not one to get wet and cold for fun, unless it's diving or hunting or for SAR or... ok so I'm not that much of a wimp, but the garden isn't a top priority when it's blustery because I don't get an instant gratification from it.

I'll get at least one more year from the raised beds, but I do need to do a little work to shore them up; I really should have used some screws instead of just nails when I assembled them, but I was saving a few bucks. I'll add 1-2 screws in each joint this year as I rework the soil.

Speaking of reworking the soil I need to rent/borrow a rototiller this year. I made it through the last two years without one but I want to expand into areas that have only had grass or blackberries. There are services that mow your yard, prep your flowerbeds; are there any that rent and deliver lawnmowers and rototillers? The delivery is a deal breaker around here, it's tough to fit something like that in a Wrangler, I suppose I should clean off the trailer and quit complaining.

After it started raining again I went in and checked on my seeds, I guess I could get by with what I have for the year or two but I really like fresh seeds and being a prepper need to have some backups to be comfortable.
I found a new website that looks promising; Get Seeds offers 100 packets for $49, with a wide assortment of seeds for a reasonable price. I'm not sure how many seeds are in each packet or the types of seeds or the care they provide but the price is right and with 100 packets you're likely to get a variety. They seal the pouch in Mylar but without a list of what they put in there I'd break it open, inventory it, buy anything seriously lacking and reseal it. I don't have any prior experience with them so I'm not endorsing them, just pointing them out.

A couple sites I do buy from with success are Seed Savers Exchange and Heirloom Seeds, remember to buy things likely to grow well in your area that you're interested in eating or storing for the future.

Rick
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