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Monday, 27 May 2013

Catching Up

Hello faithful readers!

There's a lot going on here at Self Sufficiency.  As you probably figured, I'm giving up on trying to post every week.  All I can say is that the ideas generated through this blog are really gaining steam, and ironically they're drawing me off in pursuit of them . . . anyway, here's an update.

The Council Meeting I Attended.
As you will recall from my last post, I attended a council meeting recently armed with what I thought was a well-researched speech.  What happened, was, as I was sitting there waiting for my turn at the podium, I realized that I didn't have the clout to say the things that I wanted to say.  I ended up giving a condensed speech, highlighting my concerns about the planned industrial development and also emphasizing the asset value of viable farmland within pedestrian foot travel distance of town.  But it occurred to me that if I just gave my concerns as a locally known, freelance writer, they wouldn't be taken seriously.  Sounds timid, I know, but I realized that if I waited a year or so, (or until the bulldozers line up at the cornfields ) then I might be far enough along with Earthmama that my words would be given a little more credit.  I guess they call that having a platform, huh?  Anyway, with the grant that I'm researching for this type of business, it helps to have a letter of support from the municipality, and so I used the opportunity to convey my plans for Earthmama.  I guess what I learned from the experience is not to tip your hand too soon.  I established myself as a local advocate of sustainability, voiced my concerns, and that was as far as I got.

On my Buddy Old Pal Old Stephen Harper.
I'm going to take this opportunity to give the anti-capitalist perspective on Legoman Harper himself. Supposing for a second that I'm right, that the 1% is really a crooked organization who will stop at nothing to forward their own agendas, then it would stand to reason that the Prime Minister of Canada would be their puppet, or at the very least, would be put in place through their tactics. (Robocalls, anyone?)

In my opinion, Stephen Harper has demonstrated time and time again that this is indeed the case.  Take for example the protected waterways fiasco.  Now how could any decent human being have the balls to slide through a clause like that that only  benefits corporations at the expense of all the rest of us under the flimsy shrouding of an Omnibus Budget Bill?  Yet that is what he did, despite our objections.  For those of you living under a rock, (wake up!), in 2012, the Harper Conservatives enacted legislation that removes protections on protected waterways, effectively opening them up to pollution causing shipping traffic.  Of the ten thousand waterways in Canada that USED TO be protected, only a hundred or so remain.  What that means is that as the pola ice caps melt, the Harper Conservatives are actually taking the position that this is a GOOD thing in that it paves an easier access route for carbon emitting shipping.  Oh, and guess where the waterways that still maintained their protections are located?  Primarily in Conservative ridings. (For more info on this subject, please read a letter written by David Suzuki to Stephen Harper and signed by thousands of Canadians, myself included at
The proof is already in the pudding that Harper acts in the interest of big business, but is he really as corrupt as I make him out to be?  Well, let's examine the senat scandal.  In 2008, Harper handpicked three conservatives and placed them in the Senate.  These are:  Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy, and Brazeau.  Guess who's in hot water for being on the take?  Those three.  The three most recently appointed senators, the three dyed in the wool conservatives, well it looks like they got their cushy jobs handed to them on a silver platter and started dipping into the pot to fatten up their already inflated salaries, now doesn't it?  And then, to quiet down the scandal, Harper's chief of staff forks over a cheque to cover the expenses due back to constituents.  Only it turns out that OOPS!  That's kind of frowned upon as well, now isn't it?  The question of whether or not Harper had any knowledge of the events, kind of a no brainer given his absolute unmitigated failure to even acknowledge the concerns within his own caucus last week, aside, I heard him with my own two ears on the CBC radio the other day going on about how environmental concerns are butting heads with economic concerns and that for him, economic concerns will always trump environmental ones.
Well guess what, Stephen Harper?  The economy is a man-made CONSTRUCT!  It is not imperative to our survival.  The environment, on the other hand, is. 
If the economy fails, we live.  It'd be rough, but we'd survive.  If the environment becomes uninhabitable, we don't.  It's that simple.  Decimating the environment in the name of profit to keep the economy going is suicide.  Human beings, as acknowledged, are flawed creatures.  We make mistakes.  Therefore, if a man-made construct like the economy (read - capitalism) should be proven to be doing irreversible and potentially unsurvivable damage to the natural resources we depend on such as clean air and water and healthy food, the answer does not lie in doing even further damage to the environment through trade agreements with Europe and China.  The answer lies in abandoning the man-made disaster we call capitalism and starting from scratch, with a new paradigm for society based on valuing human life and our natural world and restoring harmony.  For more on this, please check out .  The piece is called Thinking About Revolution, and it's a really interesting read.


Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I feel that the best way forwards is for all of us to do as much as we can to become Self sufficient.  With that in mind, please enjoy some cheerful photos from

The Garden Patch
So to begin with, after I yanked out the old shrubberies (with some help - Thanks Ryan!) and my husband and I worked up all the soil, I cultivated my garden space into raised beds.  In keeping with some advice I learned off the internet, a good idea is supposed to be this:  You figure out the angle that the sun transverses your garden on, bisect that angle, and plant your rows perpendicular to it.  With that in mind, I accordingly dug up raised beds in rows along that angle.  The theory is that this way, the individual plants each get the maximum amount of sun in the day, because they aren't contending with each others' shadows.

Next, you fill in the trenches between the raised beds with straw :

and then you top the straw with mulch:
So in effect what you have is a raised row of soil to plant your garden in, with a coating of compost that holds moisture, keeping the roots of the plants damp while gradually breaking down and adding nutrients into the soil.  I'll keep you posted on how this all plays out over the summer, but for now, at the very least, it's giving me a nice cushy row of material to walk down as I'm out gardening in my bare feet, a place to step between the rows that I know is safe to walk on and won't damage any tender shoots.

Now, some things that came back from last year:
These are the wild vines that appeared in my garden last year that Google images assured me must be wild raspberry.  Acting on a hunch, I decided to leave them in just in case, reasoning that if they're really wild raspberry they'll bear fruit in year two, (this year.)  Well it looks like the little bastards are loaded with buds!  Stay tuned, I'll be waiting with baited breath to see what these develop into.

As you can see from this picture, the strawberry plants that I bought last year from a $1 sale bin, which bore fruit into November, came back.  I had broken the plant into two and put them in the garden in the fall, and here they are flowering already!  Can't wait to see the little red beauties, and will have to visit the thrift shop to pick up a weigh scale to wiegh their total yield for the year.

While not the clearest picture, this one shows the blueberries that I put in last year.  They're blossoming away, but I'm hearing on the radio lately that pesticide use in my area is decimating the bee population, so pollenation may not have occurred.  I'm looking into raising my own bees in the future, (I suffer from allergies, and I've heard that a good all natural remedy is to eat honey from bees that share your immediate environment) but so far my husband is not on board.  Oh well!
The Savings Thus far:
As you can probably tell, I've lost interest in tallying up the sandwiches savings.  Suffice it to say, on average we save around twenty dollars a week.  Most weeks, we save more than that, but in the interest of objectivity, I"m going to round it down and just put in $20.  My husband and I recently made a trade on the old barter system.  In our back yard, we had a useless old cast iron satellite dish that a friend of ours wanted to repurpose into a roof for a gazebo.  Meanwhile, in his backyard he had a swingset that his children had outgrown. My husband and I costed out swingsets and had figured out that we'd have to spend around five hundred bucks to get one for our kids that they'd actually use, but instead we were able to trade!  We took down the dish, they took apart the swingset, and we swapped!  We threw in a case of beer for them on top, since their item was worth more, but I'll trade the case of beer for the taxes we'd have paid and call it a wash.  Given these adjustments, our total is now:

Savings So Far:
Last post's total:                640.87
swingset                            500.00
sandwiches x6 weeks        120.00
cosmetics *                          40.00
Total                                 1300.87

*I found a dirt cheap recipe online for making sunscreen, so I've added another ten dollar monthly savings here.
The recipe is easy, and I only had to buy zinc oxide, which my pharmacist ordered for me directly very inexpensively.  the other ingredients I already had. Take care!

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