Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reflections on the Harvest

On one of the blogs that I follow I read about an 88 year old woman who is still gardening and canning. This year she preserved 285 quarts of 27 different items. To me this is the perfect example of living ones life for sustainability and self reliance. I do not know much about this woman, but you can read more about her at,

When Mimi and I were talking about this, we started to think of all the things that we have canned this past year and put into our food storage. This is the list we came up with.

Tomatoes -50 pints
Okra - 54 pints
Green beans - 8 pints
Pumpkin - 48 pints
Anasazi beans - 12 pints
Grape juice 24 quarts
Elder berry juice - 36 quarts
Pomegranate juice - 3 pints
Tuna - 46 pints
Blackberry jam - 30 pints

During this summer we also put up allot of frozen produce.

Cherries - 10 Gallons
Peas - 1 Gallon
Okra - 3 Gallons
Zucchini - 3 Gallons
Strawberries - 3 Gallons
Blueberries - 1 Gallon
Green beans - 3 Gallons

This brings our total to about 251 pints and 60 quarts of 10 different products. We also have 24 gallons of 7 different products preserved in our freezer. For our small family to produce and preserve that much food from a 400 square foot garden is a large step in the direction of sustainable living.

I think that next year we will work harder to diversify our garden so that we have more products we can preserve and put in our storage. We have been doing well with using fresh vegetables to off set food costs, but we need more produce we can preserve.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Touch of Japan

As some of you may know my last Semester in School I took a beginning ceramics class as one of my electives. This was a direct result of having taken a Japanese cultural history class the preceding semester where I had become fascinated by the art and history of Japan. One of the things that I got hooked on was the tea ceremony and the emergence of the tea bowl as art, but also a part of culture. I will not go into the details of how some individuals made a living out of the tea ceremony, but I will say that it is fascinating that a people could turn something as simple as tea into a politically powerful tool to promote individuals and even feudal clans. The following picture was taken at the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C., it is a tea bowl made in the 17th - 18th century.

This is a tea bowl that I made in my Ceramics Class, I used a scalloped edge to try and make it look like a Chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemum was the symbol of the royal family and is used frequently in Japanese art to indicate power or authority.

To the left is a set of three bowls that I made, the one on the left is a side view of the above bowl. The theme that I was going for was that of a snow capped mountain, you can be the judge if I was successful or not. All of these bowls were hand made to give them a more rustic look that is more in line with the simplicity of the tea ceremony.

I do not consider myself a potter, but I did find joy in making something useful out of a lump of clay. Making pottery was fun and a much needed avenue where I could blow off some steam while I was trying to put my senior paper together. To all those who are reading I will pass on the major theme that I discovered while studying and trying to copy the are of the Japanese tea bowl. I have found that sometimes a simple and rustic bowl can contain all the beauty and complexity of a masters work of art.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

California Gun Race

I just got back from a road trip with one of my co-workers and learned some things about California that don't sound very good. To explain why my co-worker and I got on the subject of gun laws you have to understand that this guy I work with Steve (name changed to protect his identity) is a very big gun enthusiast and has been preaching to me the need to get a Glock and a CCW. What we discussed on this trip we were on was how in the gun world the election of Obama triggered a huge surge in gun sales like nothing else in recent history. I heard from a gun dealer that between office hours of the fourth to the fifth of this month he had 700 orders. For this small time dealer that was monumental and unprecedented.

My wife and I have been talking about getting some more guns for our own protection and to be prepared for eventual trouble in the world. The problem is that it is already getting harder and harder to find guns. Sportsman's Warehouse just opened a store in my town and they haven't been able to get any new guns in since the opening two Weeks ago and they have been selling guns right and left. The two models of Glock that I am interested in they have never even had in the store.

The reason for this blog is to let everyone know that reads this to go out and get as many guns and ammo as you can afford so that when Obama stops the sale of semi auto guns you will already have yours.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Getting started

My wife has been blogging for quite some time, but I now think that I will start my own blog for a number of reasons. I want to start keeping a journal and If I put some of my goals and achievements down for all to see it will stay motivated to get them all done.

The basic reason that I want to start this blog is to show some of the success that my family and I have had with home gardening and canning. We do not have much space, and don't even own our own home. What we do have is allot of motivation to change the way we eat and how that food is obtained. I am worried about the state of the country and how dependent we are on a few large farms to provide all of the food for the entire nation. I know it is not as simple as that, but I do know that on only a small plot of ground in our backyard we have been able to put up close to 30 dozen jars of food from the 2008 season and now have a nice fall garden in the ground.

I want this blog to be an outlet for me to express some of the current things I am working on, what I want to do in the future and how I am going to get there. To start the blog off right I will give you a picture of what the garden looks like now and a sample list of what we canned this year.

These are some of the pumpkins that we grew. We had about 20 or so, most were canned, but we did save two for Halloween.

Pumpkin in the jars. I will admit that my wife did most of the work with canning the pumpkin, and what a wonderful job she does.

This is my son Ben and I working to get the ground ready for the fall garden. After taking up all of the summer crops I put a pickup load of composted cow manure in it with the tiller.

This was taken a few days ago and shows the garden with lots of leafy greens growing very will. We have peas, red and regular cabbage, collards, brussel sprouts, beats, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and spinach. The winters are very mild in the central San Joaquin valley and these should all last the winter if I get my mulch down soon. I have two bales of straw I will put down just as soon as I get enough news paper to put under it.