Peak Oil

Why don’t more people talk about peak oil? I mean, I know that it is definitely on the radar of all the blogs I read, but it is not actually ‘out there’ in the rest of the world news. Is there something we don’t know as American citizens? Is it something that the government wants to keep quiet for some reason? I guess a lot of people still question whether peak oil is actually real or not, although I cannot see how they can dispute it. I mean, oil is a fossil fuel, right? And fossil fuel comes from…ummm…fossils…so you would think that at some point people would realize that we would eventually reach a point where the amount of fossils in the ground would be declining. Is that too simple? Am I looking a bit like an idiot right now for saying that?

I know that every one of my conservative counterparts (although, can I mention I am NOT a republican, and am actually a libertarian – very big difference there, but we won’t go into it right now) seem to believe that the tar sands of fill in the blank are going to be our next huge producer of oil. I don’t agree of course. It does not make sense to put MORE energy into retrieving something than you will actually receive from it. Again, I am sure there are all sides of opinions on whether or not that is the case. It seems like there must be something that “we, the people” are missing in this whole equation. Unfortunately, I think it is information, and the fact that there is very little in the mainstream about peak oil, or any sort of possibility of life not continuing at the crazy high consumption level that we are now.

I can’t figure out why we are ignoring what is facing us in the (I think near) future. We are already paying exorbitant amounts for gas and heating oil, especially in the north east where we consume 70% of the heating oil in the country...although not as high in Europe I understand. And now the US and other industrial nations will be releasing 60 million barrels from the reserves, something that has only been done twice before. Not to mention the implications that going into Libya was for a humanitarian effort and not about getting our hands on more oil.

Back to my mainstream media complaint; back in 2006 the Army released a report saying that they needed to come up with an alternative to petroleum as the amount available was expected to decrease and put the army into a bit of a pickle as far as what they need. And it also tells us how there is not a suitable alternative at the moment. I’m sure this was all over the news back when it was released to the public…except I don’t really remember the outrage from anyone over how our military would not be prepared if we did not have an alternative. Maybe I was busy listening to the recalls on spinach at the time to really pay attention…

Now I will get into my crazy conspiracy theories and hope that the nice people monitoring my blog after this post won’t come knocking down my door. I think it is interesting that President Bush has an enormous compound in Texas with a passive solar design, water cisterns that collects rainwater; a grey water system setup…seems interesting to invest so much money into “green” technologies that did not seem to be much of a priority during his presidency. The other part of the equation that I found interesting is that when President Obama was campaigning, he was all about getting everyone out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. Yet, once he became president, he had his meeting with the now former President Bush, and all of a sudden all bets are off. So either we are still in an insane amount of danger from terrorists, or the fact that we are in just about every oil producing country that we could possibly pick a fight with is because we NEED to have as much influence over the oil as possible.

OK, I’m glad I got that all off my chest…and I’m sure that everyone will come back tomorrow to hear me talk more about cucumber beetles and the amount of sex they are having on my plants…or I have totally lost the 3 readers that I have currently J

CSA weeks three and four and a recipe

I can't believe this week was our fourth CSA pickup! I can already tell that the summer is going to be flying by, booo! Anyways, we have had a good couple of weeks. Moving a bit away from lettuce and spinach and now getting more spring baby carrots, bok choi, and the first of the green onions. We have also been getting baby beets with the greens and swiss chard.

We love swiss chard in my house. I just saw recently on Barefoot by the Sea that she was not always the biggest fan of swiss chard and then she posted a delicious swiss chard saute recipe. But, like I said, we love it here. Yesterday I decided to do something different, because we tend to only steam our greens and add a little sea salt and butter. We had swiss chard and white beans. It turned out really good! I used the little baby navy beans. And since I hadn't soaked them the night before I had to do the quick soak method. Here is what I did:

1/2 lb of navy beans rinsed/soaked/cooked - reserve cooking liquid
1 onion
1 large bunch of swiss chard with stems

Saute the onion in olive oil, I used a good drizzle. Add garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste, add the swiss chard and saute for a couple minutes until the stems start to soften and the leaves start to wilt. Add the beans and a little bit of the liquid to make a thick sauce, maybe two ladles. Add more salt unless you had seasoned your beans while cooking. I also put in some extra onion powder at this point. I am a big onion/garlic girl so do it to your own taste. Stir it around for a couple minutes and then you are done. Serve it up in a bowl with some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

My family was totally on board with this. I think the only additional thing I might do is add some red pepper flakes, because I love spice. I'm sorry the recipe isn't better, I am not a big recipe person, I kind of just go for it :-) I think that instead of garlic powder, fresh garlic would be great, and you could add more onion instead of onion powder I would imagine. It depends on your taste. The navy beans are pretty small and mild, so it was a good match. I also think I could have used a lot more swiss chard, but I used what I had.

What are you doing with the summer bounty in your area? Any new recipes you are trying?

hanging laundry

There is something very satisfying about hanging laundry outside to dry. A couple of years ago my husband made me a very nice clothesline, which I said was mandatory for me because we were using cloth diapers. Running the drier every day or even every other day wasn't my idea of a good time :-) Last year during the construction of new sewer lines the guys destroyed our clothesline (which technically they were/are supposed to fix). Finally, last week I took matters into my own hands.

Yes...I went out and bought 100 feet of clothesline which I then attached to the one post that is still standing from the old clothesline and tied it across the driveway to the stairs that go to our second floor deck. Ghetto much? It isn't just one line either, it is 3, you just can't tell from the picture. You will also have to pardon the kids toys/blue board/and other assorted garbage that is just hanging out outside :-)

Now, although it looks totally horrid, it works quite well, and because it isn't a permanent fixture, I can easily untie the line, fold it up and put it away. Although, let's me honest, I am not doing that unless you are the Queen coming for a visit...and even then I might put up a fight. Yesterday I was able to wash 5 loads of clothes, including diapers, and dry them all on this line. Imagine how much money I just saved by being outside in the beautiful sun while my kids played instead of running the beast in my bathroom.

I think that I could be quite happy only hanging my laundry to dry, in a lower energy future, but I have to second Wendy's desire to keep her washing machine. I think that would be one of my needs...if I had the choice that is. Maybe I would feel different if I didn't have two kids in cloth diapers...The only problem I have is that I don't have a place to hang clothes when it is cold and snowy here, which tends to be 8 months out of the year it seems. I have one drying rack, but that doesn't cut it for the amount of laundry I do. And I just can't see Matt letting me hang a clothesline in the living room...

As an aside, how is it possible that a family with a stay at home mama and a work from home dada plus two babes that prefer to be naked most of the time, creates the amount of laundry that we do? OK, I know I have to do diapers and wipes every couple of days...I know we don't have any paper in the house so that means a lot of towels and rags that need to be washed...but I still do several loads of clothes a week. If I get rid of all the clothes, will this help? Just wondering...because I could do with a little less laundry in my life :-)

Cucumber Beetles...

Yes...I have a bit of an infestation. OK, that is an understatement. They are totally destroying all of my cucumber plants, but not just cucumbers...summer squash...winter squash...watermelon... zucchini...they don't seem to be all that picky as long as it is a squash or cucumber plant. I know that you can put floating row covers over them to help deter the little buggers...but I have't had a chance to figure out how to do that. Instead, I go out each day and squish them with a rock. I'm not sure I am really making a dent in the population though. I planted some more seeds in my smaller bed for pickling cukes, and then planted some more zucchini seeds too, and hopefully by the time those come up I will have figured out the floating row covers. It's definitely sad to see half of my garden getting demolished!

On the plus side, the 5000 tomato plants that I planted seem to be thriving, as well as the peas and lettuce and peppers...oh and the beans are all doing great too. I also have a few pots on my second floor deck of tomatoes, basil, peppers, and cukes. It's the one place that is completely free of pests and animals. I wish it were a bit bigger so I could put even more up there...but potting soil is hella expensive, and I do want to learn to grow food in the ground anyways :-)

I'm really glad that I have the CSA though, it helps to know that even if my seeds fail, I have a backup...someone who actually knows what they are doing :-) I guess I better think about signing up for that winter CSA again too. But what if that wasn't a possibility? I guess I should pay better attention to what I am planting, and what I can do to make the plants actually produce food!

PYO strawberries starts today. I am definitely going to be doing that...most likely next week. There is something about going to a chemical free PYO that makes me happy. Also the fact that we will have strawberries this year (we didn't last year) and strawberry mouth is starting to water just thinking about it. Do you do PYO? Do you try and preserve the fruit so that you can have it all year round? Or do you buy from the grocery store? We mainly eat fruit seasonally, except bananas which my kids can't seem to get enough of. Although, when the choice is between berries and bananas, or apples and bananas it is always what is available locally and what is in season...maybe they know something I don't...or maybe I should just not bother with the bananas :-)

CSA Week Two and succession planting

Monday was our second CSA pick up for the season. I was slightly concerned about how we would fair with the huge storm we had last week. We still got quite a bit. I am looking forward to the middle of the summer when we are getting many different veggies. This week, no picture again. It seems like as soon as I get the food home I am rushing to get it washed up and in a bowl for us to eat immediately!

1 big bag spinach
1 big bag lettuce
2 bunches of baby carrots
1 bunch swiss chard
2 bunches of kale (plus a lot of extra that Emma kept putting in my bags, she has a thing for dinosaur kale)

We ate all of that in 2 days. So I sent Matt to the Farmers' Market yesterday...he came back with 2 dozen eggs, and a bag of spinach...hmmm...guess he didn't want to hang out and see what else was there :-)

I am having a hard time getting to the Farmers' Market. It goes from 2-6 every Wednesday, which you would think would be perfect. Not for me. Yesterday, Emma fell asleep around 2:15 and slept until 5, at which point she was starving and wanted dinner. So there goes another week without being able to go to the market. It is only across town, but I know that by the time I drive over there, if I go when they first open, both kids will be asleep and I won't actually be able to get anything anyways! The other option is of course walking, then I could have one in the stroller and one on my back, however, I'm not sure I am up for the hills that we need to go up to get there...and then of course there is the fact that it is kind of sunny at 2pm, and I don't want anyone to get a sunburn. Maybe I am just making excuses...I guess if that were the only place I could get food I would make sure I was there every week...We will try again next week :-)

Now, succession planting. Does anyone do it? I would like to, but I have no idea what I am doing. I think I am going to plant some cucumber seeds next week once I pull up the spinach and radishes in my small garden bed. But, other than that I have no clue what else to plant. I know that my green beans aren't going to be in the ground for the entire summer, but will it be too late to plant something in those spots once I pull them up? Maybe lettuce or a fall spinach planting could go there??? I have a lot of garden space...I need to learn how to actually make it work for me, and produce the most food as I can. I think I have to sit down and plan better for next year...I will just schedule that in...hahaha :-) But, any tips would be appreciated!

USDA's MyPlate

Well...the USDA has replaced the food pyramid with MyPlate. Is that a good thing? I'm not convinced, unfortunately. I feel like maybe the government is too far into big agribusiness for them to actually give any guidelines for what is actually a healthy diet. I recently saw an article that Garden Variety Mama posted a link to, "We Need Policy Not Plates" by Jillian Michaels. She really hit the nail on the head for what I believe about the state of our national diet.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is just depressing. I wonder how many of our weight related problems would disappear if we were eating a totally local diet. I'm not even saying organic. What I am saying is: Know your farmer's! I think that if we weren't as able to buy whatever we desired, perhaps it would be a little better for our health. Maybe that is just me. Maybe I am just lucky because 95% of what I would ever need in my current diet, I can get in my food shed (within 50 miles). The 5% I am of course referring to are bananas and avocados...two very important foods in my life :-)

I guess I feel that the government shouldn't be subsidizing anything. I think that it should be a completely free market. By subsidizing we are giving priority to one food over another. Currently, it is corn/soy/wheat, probably the worst things for us in the forms that they are delivered (huge amounts of processing). But, if it were tomatoes and lettuce would we be any better off? Clearly we will never have ALL fruits and veggies subsidized, so maybe the consumer should be able to make the decision on what the important foods to buy are. Maybe then we might actually buy the fresh fruits and veggies that are in season.

Am I giving too much credit to people? Would people actually choose what was local and in season? I think that it is possible. If farmer's weren't forced to produce huge crops of corn doused with chemicals, maybe they would choose to have a permaculture farm and produce the food that their customers wanted. Granted, that would be the complete opposite of what we know now. Go without for a time because it isn't in season. Certain foods you are no longer able to have because they aren't local to you. But, would it cure many of the nation's health problems...I think yes.

Unfortunately, I think that the government is doing more harm than good. They employ thousands of scientists, spend loads of money on "research" just to find that the wording isn't quite what the dairy industry, or the beef industry, or the corn industry (all with loads of lobbyists) want to hear. Who in their right mind would tell an a citizen of the United States of America that eating too much cheese, or beef, or (fill in the blank) is bad for them?! But is it really fair that only the people with the most money are able to come to the table and voice an opinion?


Is it just me or are we having some crazy weather patterns these days? I don't ever remember having tornado warnings when I was growing up, although maybe we had them and I didn't notice...And the thunderstorms with the hail?? We have always had big thunderstorms, not with hail though, but now the hail seems to go hand in hand with the thunder and lightening. Flooding? Always had the flooding, but it was mainly just in the spring when the ice from the river it seems with every downpour some road washes away, and we have flash floods downtown.

Climate change. Clearly it is happening everywhere. I'm not complaining about it. I just don't know how to plan for it. Two years ago it rained almost everyday in June and July. Last year we had an incredibly early I dug out my garden in February and planted in March (unheard of for my cold little spot in Maine). And we had a long HOT summer. This year, we had snow on the ground through mid-April. I didn't get anything planted (except peas and spinach) until Memorial Day. I don't have high hopes for my winter squash hasn't been warm enough. There is no "normal" anymore. It seems like we can't really take past years into account. Maybe for people that pay really close attention, but not for me..a complete novice.

So what are you doing in your area? Have you noticed more extreme weather patterns? How do you plan for climate change? Hmmm...maybe I need to go to the library...


fresh greens from the CSA + green smoothie = love!

CSA Week One

We had our first CSA pickup of the year! It was a great day for me :-) We are lucky enough to have a year round farmers' market in my town, but unfortunately I don't make it there as often as I would like. And in the winter it is only the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month. I don't know why I can't seem to be more organized and just make it a point to go to the market when it is open. I think it has to do with my kids...who like to nap right when the market opens. And when I show up at the end of the day...well nothing is left :-)

In all of my excitement to start using all the fresh greens I received (and the constant "can we please please please have green smoothies!" from my lovely 3 year old), I didn't take any pictures. It is the first year in the 4 years we have had this CSA that I haven't taken pictures of my first CSA share! So a list will have to suffice :-)

4 large bags of spinach (hence the green smoothies)
1 large bunch radishes
3 bags of what I think are baby mustard time I have to actually look at the board
1 bag of lettuce
1 bag of beet greens with baby beets

I was really happy with the selection, especially since it has been so rainy and cold this spring! But, the days are warming up, which was evident by all of my seeds coming up in the garden! I didn't check it on Monday, and last night when I went out I had little bean plants coming up all over the place, maybe 3 inches tall already. It is amazing what a little hot humid weather does up here! And it looks like the rest of the week will be quite nice as well...if 95 and humid is nice. I can't complain though! I have been begging for summer since the end of February!

I also had the opportunity to meet Garden Variety Mama. It's always interesting to meet bloggers, especially ones that live local to you!

What about you? Are you gardening? Member of a CSA? Live for the Farmers' Market??? I would love to hear what everyone else is doing :-)

how do mamas do it?!

I just can't figure it out. If the baby is nursing and the toddler wants to "play circle time" what is a mama to do? If I am paying attention to one, I feel like I am neglecting the other. Sometimes I think that mamas of big families have an easier time of it because they have older kids to help. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am not able to really engage both of my children at the same time.

I have to say that this has definitely been a trying time for me as a mama, the past few months. It seems like I have a miss independent growing beside me (possibly encouraged by mrs. independent...her mama), and I of course have my little that is needing me pretty much constantly. I feel guilty if I put one's needs before the other, I feel guilty if I am trying to read something to both that isn't interesting to the older. And really, it feels like too much sometimes! Am I alone? Is this normal?

I guess I should be happy that my now 3 year old (yikes!) wants to do so much by herself, for herself, but it definitely makes daily life a little more taxing. What do other mamas do? Are you so into a routine that everything just falls into place? Or is this 3 year old, almost one year old time period with babes really as trying as it seems?

Part of my problem is that I want life to slow down, I can't believe my oldest is already 3, it doesn't seem possible, and my youngest is already almost 1. It is so sad, but at the same time I long for the day when they can play together without the elder bonking the younger on the head with a toy because he took it from her...can anyone relate?

Maybe it is just the season of my life. Too much stress, not enough wine :-) But, I feel better unleashing on my poor audience. Thank you for listening!

the garden is in!

Yay! We have finally had some sun and warm days. It coincided perfectly with Matt's "working" vacation. I have no idea if anything that I planted will actually grow, I kind of work on chance in the garden department. But, I am very hopeful. I planted quite a bit so hopefully will have some left over for preserving...we shall see! Without further ado!

green beans
yellow wax beans
black beans
jacobs cattle beans
cannellini beans
blue hubbard squash
yellow summer squash
sugar baby watermelon
pie pumpkins
green peppers
jalapeno peppers
and of course about 20 tomato plants :-)

So what I have gathered from this list is we like beans :-) Actually, we eat A LOT of dry beans, and apparently they are supposed to grow well in Maine. So, we planted them. And hopefully we will get some to put in a jar and eat this fall/winter. Depending on how they do this year, I will probably expand next year. And the green beans? Well, we found out this winter that Emma LOVES dilly beans, and I like just about anything that is in some sort of super easy to blanch and freeze for the winter. Out of everything though, I am hoping for success with my tomatoes. I have never planted tomatoes in the ground before...always in pots...lots and lots of pots. But, I love tomatoes, and we eat so many tomato products, that it makes sense for me to plant that many. It makes for a very busy August/September, but it definitely helps. Plus with BPA in just about everything these days, well, it is almost out of necessity.

I really want to be a "master gardener" but for now I am just going on hope. I am sure I planted things way too close together, probably planted seedlings next to each other that shouldn't be next to each other...I would love to take the time to read a lot of gardening books, but time doesn't seem to be my friend lately...The one thing I did differently this year was cut back on the amount of veg I did in pots...I only have 4 pots this year, and one is full of herbs. I have always had so much success with the potted veggies too. But, the potting soil is super expensive, and I have a large yard just waiting to be dug up :-) So let us all cross our fingers for an abundant garden year for this little Townsend House!

And for my wonderful sister-in-law, here are some pictures...although they don't show all that much :-)

And of course I need to show some love for my cute little babes :-)

On a completely unrelated note, we went for a lovely drive yesterday and what did we come across on the side of the road?

Clearly native to our area...