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Jess Dee

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since Mar 10, 2011
Prairie Canada zone 2/3
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Recent posts by Jess Dee

I can't speak to high altitudes, but I am familiar with high latitudes, and many people would be surprised at what you can grow with even a 90-day frost-free season (what I am currently working with).  There are trade-offs.  Trees grow a lot more slowly, and take longer to bear; however, we seem to have a lot less insect pressure and fewer problems with most bacterial and fungal infections (except black knot in plums and cherries, which is very problematic in my area).  My neighbors and I have grown excellent beans (including kidney beans), squash, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, etc; my area is also well-known for growing a variety of grains and legumes  without irrigation, even though our annual precipitation is under 18".  I'm not sure how that compares to the sort of land you are considering in Colorado, but I guess I want to convey that there are short-season and cold-hardy varieties of many things, and if you are determined to live there, you will likely be able to find all sorts of edible things that do thrive in that region.  

Having said that, growing is almost certainly easier in a warmer, wetter place.  From your post, though, I'm not sure whether growing your own food is a primary consideration, or something you wish to pursue alongside other goals.  We certainly don't grow everything we eat, not by a long shot, but we do grow a lot of our own vegetables, and an increasing amount of our own fruit (as our trees begin to mature).  
1 week ago

teresa quintero wrote:I think another side to this is that a lot of people prefer to go through someone else rather than hunt for the knowledge. Maybe they don't have the time, or maybe not a clue what to look for, or even not sure what is valid info, or what is hype.

This is very true.  I have done plenty of self-directed learning, but there are times when I am happy to pay someone to spoon-feed me knowledge, even when I know darn well I could go track down the same knowledge on my own.  It's faster to have an expert hand it to you in a structured way, versus finding bits and pieces and having to sort through the BS by trial and error.  Sometimes I just need to learn the thing quickly, and will pay for someone else's assistance with that.  
8 months ago
I know nothing about fiber, or even selling physical products on Etsy, but I do sell downloads there.  

I have a couple of observations.

A bunch of really successful sellers do what they call "drops" on some periodic basis.  They have facebook groups or mailing lists, and they contact their customers with a sneak peek of what they are going to post on, say, Friday.  They build up an excitement level, and then only release a relatively small amount of product, which generally sells out.  Then everyone waits on the edge of their seat for the next "drop".  I don't know if that would work for you or not, but it might be worth looking into.

You can build a mailing list from Etsy.  You just need to get people to voluntarily go and opt themselves in.  My first line in every listing is a link to my mailing list sign up, with a note that they will get a 20% off coupon if they join the list.  It also means my list is mostly made up of folks who've already spent money in my shop, rather than browsers.  I haven't put much effort into the shop in the last couple of years, but with current circumstances, I am also looking at ramping back up with Etsy.  
8 months ago
Where are you hoping to find a community?

Best of luck!

I struggle more with the short days than the actual cold (and we get really cold here - forty below is not uncommon for stretches in January).  Sometimes I save vacation days to stay home on sunny days during the week, since I get to work before sunrise and leave around sunset during the shortest days.  I am fortunate to have a living room that has a long wall of south-facing windows, which makes it a luxurious place to be when the sun shines, even in January.  

We do a lot of baking, and shift our cooking from stove-top to mostly roasting in the oven during the winter, and let that help keep the kitchen warm.  We build snow forts when it's warm enough for the snow to stick together (there is a point where it's too cold to stick, and all you get is piles of loose snow).   The kids also sled on the slopes of the ditch, or on snow piles we make for them.  

I tend to spend a lot of time researching trees and plants and such, and placing seed and plant orders for spring.  We also spend a lot of time curled up with warm blankets and books.

We tend to get feeling pretty cooped up and 'over' winter by the end of February.  At that point, all we can do is hunker down and wait.  It happens every year, so we just kind of plan for it, and try to stay out of each others' way until we can get outside more.  
1 year ago
Travis, I haven't read every reply on your thread, but I want to quickly share some thoughts before I head out the door for work.

It looks like you're spending around $900/month to feed your family.  My monthly grocery budget is $500, and that includes food for three large dogs and six cats.  If it was just humans (2 adults and 2 children), we could definitely cut that back to $400/month, possibly less.  This is in a cold part of Canada, where milk costs around $6/gallon, and most of our fruit and veg is imported, especially in the winter months (October-April).  Typical prices would be $0.80 for a pound of bananas, $1.50 for a large can of beans, and $5 for a pound of butter.  Ground beef, on sale in bulk packages, runs around $3/pound.  Apples are usually around $1.50-2/pound, and grapes run around $4/pound and up.  

We do grow a big garden, but I don't think it saves us much money, as the things that grow the best here are also very cheap to buy at the store.  We keep chickens for eggs, and that saves us a bit of money, but again, not a ton, as eggs are usually pretty cheap.

We do cook most of what we eat, from scratch.  We also eat seasonally, buying the fruit and vegetables that are in season, and therefore cheap, and using that as the starting point for our recipes.  Right now, it's apples, oranges, squash, and root veggies, for the most part.  In the spring, it's asparagus and strawberries and eggs.  

We don't eat a ton of meat.  I normally buy less than 5 lbs of meat per week for the whole family - usually more like 3 pounds per week, though when turkeys and ham are on sale around holidays, I stock up.  Some weeks, we don't eat meat at all.  We do eat quite a bit of dairy, and eggs.  

We buy dry goods in bulk quantities when we can - rolled oats, flour, sugar, rice, and such we buy in the largest bags we can.  Usually 20+ pounds.  

I think that if you really want to reduce your grocery budget, you need to start with changing what you are buying, rather than trying to grow your food.  If you struggle to find time to cook, gardening is not going to work out well.  Plus, you can invest a lot of time and money into a garden, only to have weather or bugs wipe out your crop.  

I will say that not every meal needs to be gourmet.  In fact, you'll find the whole thing a lot easier if you plan to eat a lot of 'peasant food' - things that take one or two pots to make, produce large amounts of leftovers, and preferably don't use up too much meat.  Favorite meals around here include chili, pasta with meat sauce (though the meat is often stretched with zucchini), soup, and roasted root vegetables.  We also do lots of Mexican-style burrito meals (beans + corn + squash; meat optional, though it's great for using up leftover chicken or turkey), Indian-style lentil meals, and Thai and Chinese style stir-fry meals.  Leftovers are a life-saver - we only cook about 4-5 days a week.  Lunches are sandwiches or leftovers (I take leftovers to work), and breakfast is porridge (dressed up with applesauce or raisins and cream), toast, or yogurt and fruit.  

We don't feel 'deprived' at all with the diet we have.  It's really quite healthy, not terribly expensive, and even the cooking isn't very time-consuming.  

Having said ALL that, only you can decide what is going to work for your family.  It takes a lot of commitment to change how you eat, and if you view it in the negative (spending less money), you'll probably find it quite difficult, because everyone is going to feel like it's a deprivation.  Even viewing it in a positive light (we're going to eat healthy, seasonal, home-cooked food), it may be a big change, and not easy.  Anyone who doesn't already know hoe to cook from scratch will have a steep learning curve, both in the cooking and in the meal planning, as most cookbooks highlight fancy meals that take a lot of prep work, rather than basic food that is quick to prepare.  Personally, I believe it's worth it, though.  
1 year ago
I live in a rural area with a large 'area' but a small population.  Halloween is my chance to catch up with neighbors after harvest.  We only take the kids to about ten houses, but it takes more than 2 hours, and there's usually an adult beverage or three to be had along the way.  The older neighbors, especially, love to see the kids.  I do wish they would hand out Rice Krispy squares or candy apples, though.  I know nobody out here would harm the kids, and it would save on plastic waste, plus it would be healthier.  It would also be over sooner.  Because there's so few kids, most houses hand out big bags of candy, which means we've got an unreasonable surplus to discretely dispose of after the first week of sugar coma.
1 year ago
Besides the other questions on this thread, I would add one:  What are you willing to sacrifice in order to attain your goal?  Only you can decide that, but it will definitely have an impact on your success.  Some people are willing to work a job they don't like in order to have more money to achieve their goals.  Some people are willing to cut expenses to the bone and really rough it in order to achieve their goals.  Some people are willing to revise the goal in order to make it more achievable.  You are probably going to have to do at least one of these things in order to achieve your goal; doing all three would probably get you there faster.  

For ourselves, I work a job that is less than ideal, but that pays well.  We also moved from a high-cost area to a lower-cost area, more than 500 miles from where we were at the time, in order to be able to afford some land.  We revised our goal to include less land, and a longer time frame on planting trees and whatnot, in order to be able to get land at all.  We lived fairly frugally in the first place, but we decided we didn't want to cut any further, so that's something we could have done, but chose not to.  It took quite a while, but we have a place we are mostly happy with.  Your choices might be different, but it is not likely that you will be able to do everything exactly as you are, living in the place you are in, and still achieve your dream.  
1 year ago

Michelle Bisson wrote:I planted some lovage seeds in August (that's when I received them) in a small pot which I transplanted in the ground about a month ago.  Now they were small plants which the frost has now died back shortly after planting.

I am in a northern climate easily go to -45C where I am currently staying.  I do wonder if my baby lovage plants will survive as they were still quite small. It is now wait and see.

My plan is to start some new lovage plants this winter indoors and plant them in the ground in the spring time. If my baby plants that are now in the ground survive the winter, then that would be a bonus.

I don't know if your babies will survive the winter, but a well-established plant will.  I have some growing in my garden in north-central Saskatchewan, and we do get -45 winters.  My plant grew up over 5 feet this summer, even after a fall drought last year and super-cold winter that killed half of my supposedly hardy fruit trees.  I planted more lovage this year, as it has proven to be both tasty and hardy for us, and the pollenators do really seem to love it.