Saturday, September 17, 2011

One year ago

One year ago, I finished reading Radical Homemakers, and it rocked my world. I decided to start canning. I decided to raise meat rabbits. I decided to shop only for what we needed, and try to use only thrift stores, recycling centers, and online forums to get what we needed.

First I wanted to can things.  I harvested over 100 peaches from the neighbor's tree and made peach jam and peach salsa. Then I canned a killer katsup that is the best ever. I'm making a ton more this year. I picked apples and went to a cider-pressing party, and came home with the tastiest apple juice in the world- I was unable to exercise any restraint, and the winter's supply lasted maybe a month. I hope to do better this year, and by that I mean, make waaaaay more juice!

I also spent a day picking all of my own produce from a local farm and making insane amounts of soups and stews. Picking yourself is really fun, and also tiring. I might do it again if I have time, but I'm hoping to beg tomatoes, carrots and parsnips off of other local growers this year.

I decided we had to build the rabbit housing right away and start breeding right away. FAIL. After a few weekends digging and digging to lay the foundation in miserable river rock, I gave up on getting it done in a month. Here is a friend helping in October 2010... we owe them a couple rabbits for their sweat and toil!

Digging down two feet into river rock and dirt, for two foundations, left us with a lovely dirt pile. The kids thought it was good fun. I got to stare at it from the kitchen window every day all winter. It wasn't always as pretty as these pictures make it look! Keep in mind how bare the back fence area is to compare to later photos...

 The foundational holes lay there all winter, taunting me. I began researching backyard chickens, too, to keep from clawing at the frozen trenches.

Over the winter, I became better familiar with Resource, Freecycle (find your local chapter!), Craigslist, CHaRM, and Savers, plus many other thrift stores. If you live around here, check them out. If you don't, start looking for similar organizations, or even acquaint yourselves with your local junk yard. There's gold in them thar hills of stuff!

From Resource and CHaRM, I have been able to find about 80% of our building materials, including used paint cans (with just enough paint for my purposes, for free) to roofing materials, to plexi-glass for winterizing the chicken coop, to siding- for example, I paid $30 for 6 sheets of plexi-glass (1/4-inch thick, 4'x6') when a single new sheet is like $50-80. $80/sheet siding, I got for $5 a sheet. All in all, what I learned over the winter, and my doggedly persistent hunting ethic (it can't be called shopping when you are stalking the new inventory 2-3 times a week) saved us a ton of money, and was fun.

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