Thursday, February 2, 2012

survive and thrive friday: getting rid of stuff, container garden, fresh food, deer meat wrap-up

There's a lot to sum up this time around for my remarkably popular (hi, Mom!) "Survive and Thrive" series. I know some of this stuff is as boring as all git-out, so if you make it to the bottom of the post, you are a real patriot. Of whatever country you choose.

Looming largest before us, both in our minds' eyes and in our basement, are our mountains of crap. Down-sizing possessions has been an ongoing process for the last, I don't know, 7 or 8 years. But this time we're serious. We no longer want to keep anything that's not on the slimmed down list of our truest interests. Moving into our first real home is the impetus for this newest manifestation of an old resolve. We lived in a one room cabin in Alaska for a couple years and a pickup camper in Maryland for a few months, but sadly, though we had the appearance and scent of minimalists, we always still owned our stuff; it was out of sight - in storage, or at Mom and Dad's house. This time, we're whittling down the piles in every single category, including the sacred cow of books. It's really something for us to get rid of books. We love books. Our collection is our history, our identity, in a form you can hold in your hands. But you know what? Any books we haven't referenced for years and that are readily available at the library, why haul them around? They make for very heavy shelf decor. We'll keep the practical, how-to books for when/if the internet isn't available. And a few sentimental books. And maybe a joke book or two for when we're super bored not owning any possessions. And some classic series' that we want the kids to read. And a few that are signed. And maybe some we wouldn't want to bother hunting down at the library. Dangit. This is hard.

One of my proudest sorting feats was getting the kids' clothes down to three cat litter boxes or roasting pans apiece. Give me a break, those are the only cheap containers that would fit into this weird closet thingy. Anyway, pride. And then I read the account of my friend, Kim, who lives in a hut in Sudan. She showed lovely pictures of the villagers in their new Christmas outfits. Very colorful, sturdy outfits (lucky, right?)....which they'll wear nearly exclusively until next Christmas, when they each get one new outfit to wear all year. Doh.
By the way, is this not the cutest dress on God's green earth?
Rachel made it for Z for Christmas. It's reversible.
Don't be distracted by one pink and one gray sock.

Jason is trying his hand at this particular style of container garden. (Resource: this PFD instruction link at Jason and Zoralee planted tomatoes, peppers, peas, basil, and cilantro, and I think maybe a little flower that fixes nitrogen in the soil. I can't recall exactly, but we should know soon enough! This container is pretty neat. You keep water in the bottom reservoir, and then the soil pulls it up as it needs it, through the column of soil that sits down into the water. 

Jason cut the edges off of the bin's lid so it would sit down inside the bin,
making a floor or shelf for the soil. He cut a hole in the center for a small bucket.
Dirt will fill the bin, including the bucket, making a column of dirt that pulls water up
by capillary action. (I remembered that term off hand. Kidding. Thank you, google.)

The soil floor is held solid by four legs of PVC pipe.
They, and the bucket bottom, sit on the bin's actual bottom.
Holes are poked throughout the bucket! Muy importante, so the water can come through.
They are poked into the floor/shelf too for soil aeration.
Once the bucket is foil of soil, you fill the lower reservoir by pouring water into the pipe.

They laid down cheesecloth so the soil wouldn't fall out of the holes and into the water,
but the water could still come in to the soil.
How useful you are, oh cheesecloth, despite your name being really awkward
when there is no cheese involved.
Day 1: January 16
We started getting some sprouts within a few days. It was fabulously rewarding! (no pics of those little guys)

Day 14: January 29

Day 18: February 2
Jason will do another round of thinning out those foreground herbs.
The germination rate on our seeds was super high.
We've had a couple of casualties. One pea plant was voted off the container garden by a certain young girl when she wondered what would happen if she picked the leaves, the only two tiny leaves by which the dear plant could obtain light and grow. A couple of herbs won't make it because a baby dropped a ball into the bin and it rolled all over the delicate sprouts. Oh, what the heck. I'll just tell you - it was Zoralee and Ziah, those rascals.


In food news, Jason was on a week + long vegetable and fruit juice fast, after watching the documentary, "Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead." Every concoction was different than the next, some in very pretty colors. This was my favorite:

The kids and I go through the yogurt and fruit smoothies anyway,
but I started to add more veggies when Jason took up juicing.
I'm gonna say go easy on the sprouts. If you overdo them,
you've got what essentially tastes like a sprout smoothie.
And, there's nothing wrong with it, if a sprout smoothie is what you set out to make.
Oh. This is JUST dawning on me as I type: Zoralee, the child who has always said things like, "Yay!! Broccoli!" has recently stopped wanting vegetables. I know that it weirded her out to have spinach in the smoothies, but oh my. What have we done?!? I hope it's an unrelated phase, I hope it's an unrelated phase, I hope.... 

Anyway, since we started eating a more "Paleo" style diet a few months ago, we have really cut down on wheat and other grain products. The kids and I still eat a lot of dairy, but Jason, not so much. And yes, fresh produce is expensive, but I really think good health is worth that cost - especially when it coincides with spending very little money on chips, crackers, pop, and every manner of pre-packaged food. It is so freeing to not have to run down every aisle at the grocery store. We stick almost exclusively to the edges for the fresh and refrigerated stuff. As time goes on and our gardening and canning skills improve, we'll be able to cut out buying canned goods too! 
Granola Doll in fresh produce ecstasy


I'll close by showing a few shots of wrapping the deer Jason shot a couple of months ago. More details of his hunt are available upon request. :)

Always, always, always, we're learning lessons! Now what we've got to work on is trying the same experiments twice in a row so that we can apply those lessons.  


Rena said...

I know I'm repeating myself, but I love these posts that show what's going on in your daily lives. (I need to learn some lessons in getting rid of stuff...the big pile of books that Z & B arranged on my bedroom floor last month is still there, undisturbed except for Wiley's rearranging of it when he plays in it ☺) Looked like Zoralee is pledging allegiance to her newly-organized closet. Does that mean she'll keep it neat and clean?

Rena said...

It's cool that Z (and someday Zi)is part of everything, like the container gardening. She'll remember that with her sharp little brain. Odd about the vegetables. Is she still liking fruit?

Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet said...

Your "Survive n' Thrive" series is really taking off! This was a good'n, not only because it exists, but also because it is packed with awesomeness!

I enjoyed every single bit of this post, but I must say that I especially enjoyed that there was actually a photo of YOU in it.

How did Jason feel on his juice fast? I mean, did he lose weight? Feel great? Feel 15 years younger or any of that jazz?

The Weems Family said...

Hey Lori,
Great post. I love the pics. Sometimes my kiddos decide not to like something too. I just remind them "Oh that's not so, you DO like....It's one of your very favorite things!" and they usually resume normal.

If I get "I really don't like..." I say "Well yesterday you did, and tomorrow you will like....". Sometimes I make them say "I really, really like...." to help their brains remember to love fruit, veggies and yogurt.

Funniest one was when Daphne said "I don't like chocolate or ice cream".I didn't remind her on that one. I figured she'd remember at some point.

Children are funny critters aren't they.

2 Moms of a Feather...Stick Together said...

I enjoy reading what going on with you in North Dakota.
Hey...get ahold of the "hoarders show" and you won't want to keep anything! YIKES!
It hard keeping things "organized" with little children...any things can get broken or smashed(like the sprouts).
Jason is a busy guy too...projects, new diets, hunting.
You guys have the cutest kids too.
Take care,

Emmy said...

I love reading about what you guys are doing. You make me smile. Jesse must have gotten to Jason with the juicing. That doc really hit home for him. Keep the great posts coming!

lori said...

Ha ha, Shelsea! Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on MY mood, Zoralee's not one to change her preferences easily. Love the chocolate and ice cream anecdote. I wonder if Daphne said it by accident or just to see your response.

Yes, Nancy. As if we didn't make enough mistakes on our own, having four little hands around makes sure of it.

Emmy, Jason said he didn't know Jesse was doing the juice thing too! I swear, if those two lived near each other, they'd show up in matching outfits half the time. How did it go for Jesse? And the big question - have you used your juicer for anything else now that the cleanse is over?! It's sort of a big luggy thing that I can't see using very often...

lori said...

Mom, oops! I totally forgot about that pile of books. Sorrrrry. And no, I don't think Z is making any tidiness promises. Yes, she still eats about four pieces of fruit a day - whole bananas, apples, a dish of blueberries, etc.

Rach, well, thanks for liking the survival and thrival! Jason fit better into his work uniform and has maintained that size, and he felt much more alert and alive during the fast and beyond. He eats more fresh stuff than he did before, though not juiced.

Emmy said...

He watched that movie about 4 months ago and I just so happened to have a juicer I'd picked up at a yard sale over the summer. He still makes a juice for breakfast and lunch most days. We did however, upgrade to an amazing blendtec blender that we use instead of the juicer. It allows him to get the fiber and vitamins from the veg and fruit that is left in the pulp of the juicer. And lets be honest, cleaning the juicer was gross and I told him about it everyday! I also use the blendtec for baby food. Jasper eats so much that I have to make it! I couldn't afford to buy it even if I wanted to. We use it daily. I figure we are about 3/4 of the way thru it paying for it's self and we just got it for Christmas.

melissa v. said...

Awesome! I haven't visited your blog in awhile and holy crap you've been very productive! I love love love the photos, and am very lovingly jealous of your rural life. You're amazing! And your kids are killer cute. We have to meet in real life, dontcha think? xo

lori said...

Emmy - I keep hearing about Blendtecs....hmmm. Yes, the fiber waste was something we both couldn't really get over with the juicer. I use our little Magic Bullet (the bonified infomercial gadget) for baby food and smoothies and all kinds of concoctions, and then a cheapie food processer for the same stuff but bigger batches.

Melissa - thanks for thinking I've been productive. :) Yes, I almost think it would be a crime to not meet one of these days. We should still shoot for a girls' thing in Portland sometime.