Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thrift! That's What We Need More Of!

Had this comment from Paywithammo: "We got a taste of deflation yesterday when we paid $1.69 per pound for ground beef, 80%. Picked up 20 pounds and a new case of quart mason jars...just wish those jars would deflate in price too!"

At $1.69 per pound, I would've been in line behind him filling the grocery cart! Then, I'd cook it up on low heat and can, can, can until the job was done. We don't have a chest freezer and I'm not interested in relying on electricity anyway, so canning or dehydrating is the way to go.

I want to raise a couple hogs, beef cattle and chickens but Sweetie says just buy more canned meat. I say, by the time we paid for what we'd get from raising our own, we could have paid for and raised at least twice as many animals. But, it's the work involved in raising animals that he's concerned about. I see his point. It would be ME doing most of the work as he has little energy. Ah well, keep smoking with your 50% dead lung tissue! Yeah, I'm a bit frustrated with that today.

This time of year I'm anxious to start working outside. I go to bed dreaming of a greenhouse, square-foot gardening and firing up the kitchen wood stove to can our produce. And then I realize all the work involved because I have no greenhouse or square foot garden beds made, or stove installed anywhere. Cooking outside with no shelter over the stove is NOT happening this year!

Oh to be young again and full of energy. But, we'll press on regardless. Around here that means I go outside and start the project and he comes out and tells me how it's supposed to be done. Before you know it, the job's done and he's exhausted again.

Which leads me to a little lecture. Don't expect to maintain a homestead if you've been neglecting your health. Don't expect that you'll always be young, strong and able to overcome every adversity. Aside from accidents, poor health has a way of sneaking up on us "invincible" humans. No amount of money or machinery will solve all your dilemmas - manpower is still required! Have a big tractor with a front end loader? Well, it needs fuel and maintenance and someone who's capable of driving it - anytime it's needed. Think there will always be someone else around to repair it? Will the parts always be available? Will you always have the money to pay for parts and fuel? Got any idea how heavy one of those tires is? I do!

This brings me to the subject of groups. Nice if you can find one to bond with but it's not going to happen for everyone. So, among other things, that means you work smarter, not harder. Though I think you'll wind up working harder anyway - especially after certain comforts and conveniences fade away.

If you're still in the planning stages of a "retreat" I say you're probably too late. Not that the country's going to hell tomorrow but, it takes lots of time to set up a semi-self-sufficient homestead. Most people will never do that anyway. Too tied to city living, commuting to jobs if they still have one and owing the banker or wanting conveniences. Believe me, I understand. Been there, done that, got the memories to prove it. Personally, I don't think it's worth it and often think of how much further along we'd be if we'd both made different choices. But, that was then; this is now.

Guess what I'm really trying to impress on you is this: Do something everyday that prepares you for what's coming - i.e. the final death throws of life as we've known it. Start living now as though your choices were more limited. So what if you can still "afford" dinner out, a movie and maybe a few beers at the local hangout on the way home? What good is that if you'd be standing in line at the grocery or gas station if disaster is forecast or has already struck? There are other kinds of entertainment that do not require buying anything!

Life is a matter of choices. The ones you make today influence those you're able to make tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day...

For example; My father, bless his heart, gives us $300. He claims it's his entertainment money every month!!!! Frankly, I wouldn't doubt it. His says it'll cover the extra gas we consume driving him around. It has but believe me - I can squeeze 25 cents out of a nickel. So I rearrange appointments and combine trips to consume less than $300. Every cent of the remainder goes for preps.

My father's also used to eating out. It's a social activity for an elderly man who can do little physical work, doesn't want to cook anymore and has seen most of his peers die. I make sure either someone pays for our meal or Sweetie and I order the least expensive item and share portions, i.e. one order of fries instead of two.

The problem with many people who complain about not being able to prep is they still want to maintain the status quo. Somewhere in the recesses of their gray matter, they cling to the idea that satellite TV and weekend "relaxation" and yearly vacations and other activities are "normal." Forgoing TV, barbecueing at home and discovering their own neighborhood is associated with deprivation and sacrifice - something most Americans still don't fathom - especially if they see their neighbors still "consuming."

Tell people how we really live and they roll their eyes. Hanging clothes outside is something they "don't have time for." Really? In the time they sat there looking at me like I was nuts I've hung a load of clothes on the line.

Explain "when it's yellow, let it mellow; when it's brown, flush it down" and they're afraid to use your toilet. And we do this NOT being hooked up to a public sewer system.

Recite last week's supper menu: red beans and rice, soup and sandwiches, tuna casserole, country ribs, chicken and two imaginative meals made of leftovers and they wonder how you still breathe! What's wrong with leftover pork mixed into the leftover beans and rice? Leftover chicken, peas and carrots and a handful of flat noodles and some seasonings were made into soup to accompany peanut butter sandwiches. Side dishes were a little tuna casserole, a dab of green bean casserole (from the baked chicken meal) and a fruit tray made from one orange, one apple and two bananas. The left over mashed potatoes were mixed with red pepper flakes and an egg, shaped into patties and fried in butter. I served those for breakfast with fried eggs for the guys.

Yesterday I made a 13x9-inch pan of lasagna. It was supper last night, will be again and three portions are froze for another meal. We're having left over soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. When the soup seemed a little thin I added the last of the beans and rice to it! Tomorrow we're invited out for supper.

I once had a mother-in-law who made "seven day soup" once every other week! All week she saved her leftovers by freezing most of them. On day eight she mixed everything in a soup kettle, added some seasonings and that was supper for the week! Obviously, she grew up in the Great Depression. Her basement was a warehouse of canned and dried foods; her garden was mammoth and her home was furnished 1950's era. She and her husband had NEVER had debt. Never. She owned six house dresses, three pairs of women's slacks, three blouses, two sweaters and two pairs of shoes. They had used the same dishes and silverware since their marriage in 1928. Everything was used, reused and worn out before being disposed of. No wonder they were able to be debt free. And no wonder, that at her death, having outlived her husband by 17 years, she bequeathed over $1M to her children and grand kids. Today, one grandkid's in prison, one's on welfare and one's had her home forclosed on while she makes $12/hr. and her hubby makes $20/hr. Their father, my ex, lives on a GM retirement but has payments on everything: home, cars, ATV's, tractor, motorcycle, boats. Hmmmm........wonder why they're all broke?

We could sure take a lesson from people who lived through the Great Depression!


Did it MY way said...

We can all take lessons from the way you live! The descriptions of your meals make my mouth water.

I could live off soup alone.

I hope one day I can meet you in person, shake your hand, and give you a big hug for a job well done. You are living a great life. I wish you well.

Your postings are an insperation to a lot of people.

God Bless.

See Ya

LizBeth said...

Love those mashed potato cakes. They work with just about any meal, just like pintos.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Treesong! My wonderful Momma (southern bred and born) taught me all of these things too!! She grew up in the depression and learned them from her Momma. Fried potatoe pancakes and eggs are incredible! I also do what we call freezer soup and it comes out great!! Just put leftovers in a one gallon bucket with a lid in the freezer and when it full you have a thick hearty soup or casserole!! I canned some refried beans the other day cooked the pintos with garlic and onion drained them mashed them like potatoes and put them in the jars and canned em!!! Mmmmmmm.... Simple yet tasty ans so pretty to look at! Did some split pea soup and vegetable soup last weekend and ohhh... butternut squash soup!!! Anyhow I could go on and on. My kids (all in their 20's) know how to do these things too. Bad thing is our garden has taken a major hit this winter. It has been cold here with many freezes and frosts. Hard to keep up and what does survive gets kind of stunted. Makes me want to cry. Thinking about George Ures growponics. Too hot in the summer here for most stuff outside but we have a huge enclosed screenporch we could try. I love reading you please keep it up!!

Florida Mom said...

We are on the same page, Treesong.

Last night, after using about 3lbs of the beef for dinner, we put up 5 quart jars of lightly browned beef.

We used a beef broth for those jars, but for the rest of the 20lbs it'll be plain water. While we drain the ground beef, we don't rinse it clean of grease. So there is about a quarter inch of congealed fat on top of the 5 quarts, which I think will be enough for flavor when it comes times to use. Beef broth seems like overkill.

SHARON said...

Give me directions to your house! I'm moving. Your meals sound so good and remind me of when we lived on the farm. I know people that threw out leftovers! This lady made a meat loaf and the three of them only ate 1/3 of it, she went to throw it in the trash and my friends mother screamed so she gave it to her. What a waste. Love your postings, girl. Keep it up.

Mayberry said...

Methinks it ain't gonna be a choice in the not too distant future... Fortunately, I've got two "homesteads" already in existence to choose from, and I help out on both. Can't wait for garden time....

debbieo said...

We do many of those things too. I appreciate reading about your life and what you do.
I built a greenhouse out of cattle panels and t-posts. I bought regular greenhouse plastic, channel and wiggle wire. It been working great for 5 years. We make a lot of temporary structures out of cattle panels and tarps. Goat milking shade, chicken coop, cover for things on pallets.
I will be building a chicken coop within the next month so I will try to take some pictures and then start on another greenhouse.
I too love potatoe patties.
take care.

Bellen said...

Fabulous post - especially concerning homesteading and health, altho in our case it kind of snuck up on hubby. oh well, working the suburban FL home and yard. Agree with FL Mom on the weather issues, lost green beans and a fruit tree to frost, everything else is stunted. But, taught us a lesson, Jan & Feb are not to be trusted weather wise.

I'm back to sprouts to round out the salads until lettuce comes in.

My soup is called "garbage soup" and has been for years. Can never duplicate it, but each batch is wonderful.

debbieo said...

When we have dinners at church the ladies always save the ham bones and turkey carcases for me. They just throw them away and they think I'm nuts but who cares? Now they always ask me befor they throw out leftovers.
Meatloaf sandwiches. Ham and beans. Broth. Some people sure dont have a clue.
Its kinda funny how folks eat different in the country (at least older country folks) than they do in town.