Random Musings on gardens, groceries & the grid

I knew it was too good to be true…  I stopped at a different market today, and winced at nearly every item I put in my cart.  Luckily I didn’t have to get much.  I picked up another 10 pounds of sugar for the pantry – yikes!  I think those price increases are starting to take effect.  I don’t often go to Albertson’s.  Personally, I hate the store.  But I was nowhere near Safeway, so I had no choice.  I won’t be making that mistake again. So I guess the aggregate of my shopping this week puts me back at the average per bag.  Oh well.

Took a little nap on the couch this afternoon – woke up about an hour ago to the sound of a tractor.  The guy across the road was using a giant tractor to till his garden plot.  A tiny little garden plot – maybe 15 x 20 (?).  Using what equated to a full on plow.  Nice.  The landlord hasn’t been up to skim my plot yet.  Which is fine by me.  It’s not really gardening weather out there this weekend.  Brrrrr.   Father Winter’s still trying to keep his grasp on western Montana.  There was fresh snow up in the hills behind the house this morning.  Looks like there’s another squall blowing in from the drainage.  I keep tellin’ folks – just wait…  in another month or so we’ll be praying for these cold and cloudy days!  So enjoy ’em while you can.  Speaking of a squall – the rain just started pouring down out there.  At least it’s not snow.

Pretty soon these will be a common occurrence once again:

When I was in town this morning, after the sticker shock at Albertson’s, I decided to drowned my sorrows at Barnes & Noble.  Much to my dismay, nothing new or interesting in the Home & Garden section of the books.  So I wandered over to the magazine rack to pick up two of my favorite magazines: Mary Janes Farm and Back Home, when a magazine I hadn’t seen before caught my eye.  The issue number on the masthead tells me it’s not a new publication – but apparently not one my local bookstore thought to carry in the past (I pretty much know exactly what farm and rural life titles they carry).  The magazine is called The New Pioneer: The Complete Guide to Self-Reliant Living.  Apparently it’s a quarterly, because this is the “Summer” edition.  Not feeling terribly summery outside…  Looks like some really good articles in there – on solar ovens, the modern back to the land movement, garden critter control.  Heck, if I can’t be gardening, I might as well read about it!  Although, I should probably get some seeds started.  I’m only about 5 weeks out til planting.  Many things will need to be sewed directly into the earth at planting time, but a couple things will need a head start…  tomatoes, hot peppers, etc.

I also received my latest Lehman’s catalog in the mail when I stopped at the post office the other day.  That delivery always gets my mind rolling. In my terribly humble opinion, electricity is a necessary evil.  But one I hope to make unnecessary as soon as humanly possible.  The other night I watched a video clip that was up over at Joel the K’s site The Patriot Cave.  Although, he seems to have replaced it with a different video by Michio Kaku.  ???  But the gist of the video was a brief history of Chernobyl.  I was relatively young when that went down, and really never made it my business to find out exactly what went wrong.  I didn’t realize it was a controlled experiment that went terribly wrong, causing what, up until this Japanese crisis, had been the worst nuclear accident in the world’s short atomic history.  I was outraged.  Furious!  Which, then, led me to wonder why on earth we find the most dangerous, dirty and destructive ways to provide power to our world.  The sun, daily, provides more power than our earth could use in a year.  Cleanly, free of charge, with no danger, and with no potential environmental side effects.  I went further to look at how many nuclear plants were in this area of the country.  There are three in Washington state – two of which are in various states of being decommissioned.  I feel confident, because of the not-so-close proximity of the plants that none of my power is generated by nuclear means.  I took a look at my local electric cooperative – apparently their energy is produced by a combination of wind, solar, hydro and coal.  Meaning 75% (in theory) of their energy is clean.  Now, I’m not sure what percentage of the actual grid is made up by each of those means.  I will have to find out.

But this doesn’t make me any less weary of electric.  Power in general.  Last month’s power bill came in the other day (on the same day as the Lehman’s catalog) and my usage last month was 154 kwh.  I’ve been looking at my own usage, and there are few ways to cut down even more on what I use.  Unfortunately my stove is electric, but soon it will be summer, and I’m looking forward to trying the solar oven experiment.  Have yet to figure out what to do about the refrigerator/freezer.  (although, LLM uses a typical picnic cooler and a propane freezer – that’s it.) I’ve cut down my light usage to one lamp each evening, only turning on other lights in the house on an as-needed basis.  I may take a look at oil lamps.  We’re getting to that point in the year where the sun is up later and later.  As it is, my lights don’t come on until around 8 o’clock.

But I think I’ll start taking a very critical look at each power-generated device in my life, and see if there’s a way to do without it.  Let’s see just now un-necessary I can make this electric power grid in my life.  I’ve decided I don’t need to live 100 miles out in the bush to ditch the grid.  Twenty miles is good enough to start with!

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