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Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Sorry about the long stretches between posts.  I have been busy doing this:

I was thinking that I'm almost through with the canning for the year, then I started listing what I have left; eggplants, pumpkins, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, pears,one more bushel of tomatoes, some peppers, more blackberries and let's not forget sauerkraut.  Well!   Let's just say I'm two-thirds through the canning season.  Going to need some more shelves!

I do not live on a farm, just a regular sized city lot.  Just goes to show you  what you can do with a little bit of gumption.  The other day I was talking to a relative who was unemployed.  She was making herself sick with worry about how to make ends meet.  The whole time I was wondering  why she didn't put in a garden as she lives on several acres out in the country (even volunteered to help her get it started).  I read a statistic that one in seven Americans receive food stamps.  That means that some of the people I know are using them, but when I tell friends and neighbors to just come and pick whatever they want or need,  they rarely take me up on the offer.  Now, the very same people will gladly accept produce if I pick and clean it and present it to them in a nice plastic bag, but it is too much work for them to do those couple steps themselves.  They'd much rather go to the grocers and buy it that way.  I stopped offering.  If a person cannot bend their back and use a bit of effort to help themselves,  then I surmise that they are not truly needy.

Well, enough of that rant!  Just had to get it out.  We've had cool weather the last couple of days.  One day it was in the nineties and the next  the high temperature was fifty-one!  It was as though nature said, "Labor Day has come, summer is over, let's get on to autumn!".  It would be nice to have an extended fall season.  Usually it gets smooshed between a too long summer and a too soon winter.

It smells wonderful outside.  The Concord grapes are ripening,  Looks like a bumper crop this year!  This is the first year we are getting more than one apple on the trees we planted five years ago.  We planted my favorite "pie" apples;  Rhode Island Greening, Wolf River, and Smokehouse.  Old antique varieties.  Also, just for eating, the delectable Snow or Fameuse apple.  The neighbor also allows us to pick the pears and apples in her orchard. Lori is such a nice neighbor!   While I was writing this,  it reminded me that grape juice is also on my list of things to can.  The work never ends.  But it is a joy.  Next time I post something, I'll have a more informative article.  Just dropped in to say hello, and say I'm still here on Earth.  Just buried under garden produce!


  1. Good article Jane! And I am super-impressed with your canning and gardens and trees and hard work! I had the same thing happen in my puny garden....I invited a neighbor to just come and take anything, to have it fresh, and she prefers to have me pick it and bring it over! (She is 89, in her defense, but I am just used to my younger life up with neighbors that were elderly doing lots of gardening and canning). I like your shelves. And for your last post comments....$35/2 weeks back then was impressive. I know that I need to spend less on groceries, waste less of what I have, and stop shopping all-together for material things. love,andrea

  2. Hi Andrea! What bothers me is that these are all able-bodied people that I make the offer towards. And that they turn down the offer of free food, but in the next breath will whine about the fact they don't have any money and can't make ends meet. The shelves- we made a lovely pantry in the back spare bedroom (It was more useful as a pantry) but then we put a woodstove in that room, it was the only place it would fit, so now we had to make-do with some shelves in the closet under the stairs because the pantry gets too hot to store canned goods. Don't know where I'm going to put the rest. Our basement is one of those creepy Michigan basements and you wouldn't want to store food down there! Maybe under the bed!I think spending money is fine as long as you can pay your bills and aren't asking for handouts from people or the government. Nothing wrong with it. If everyone stopped spending, imagine all the people that work in stores, restaurants and hotels would be out of work. So don't feel guilty about it! We've worked hard, so why shouldn't we enjoy life a little, even if it's just a nice roast or a pretty teacup from time to time?

  3. Dear Jane,

    My goodness, you've been busy! How wonderful it will be for you to have a feast for the eyes, as well as the tummy, all winter. I've been reading "Good Old Days" magazine, and thinking, too, how far we have NOT come as far as being self-sufficient goes! Hopefully folks will learn as gardening becomes more popular.



  4. I didn't know that they still published Good Old Days, Marqueta. Used to love to read it and got many thrifty tips from the stories. It's a shame how we've all become so reliant upon grocery stores to supply our food. I was just thinking today, that it's about that time of year that we used to glean the potatoes from relatives that farmed fields. And gather windfalls from another's orchard. When times were rough we lived off of those type of things!

  5. How wonderful! I think shelves of home canned food are always so beautiful!! My grandma used to have shelves that looked like that, and I loved how great they tasted compared to store bought. This is something I very much want to learn to do. Our town is surrounded by fields of wonderful produce, it would be fun to pick some and can them, esp. w/ apple season right around the corner!! Your post is very inspirational to me!! ~April

  6. I agree with April; shelves of canned food are beautiful! We're trying to decide what kind of container and/or raised beds we can do on our small plot of land here. Hubby has promised to help me get a small garden going next year.

    I have a friend who did the same thing. She falls short a certain amount almost every month but because of circumstances can't work a full time job. She has more than an acre for just her yard and I thought for sure she would plant a garden, but instead she told me it was just too much work. In my head I can imagine a medium sized garden feeding one person for a year with no problems. (And it isn't as if she doesn't have the know how to not only grow the garden, but also how to preserve the food.)

    Sorry, that is my rant for the day. :-)

    Do you make grape jelly? We used to spend days making it when I was younger.

  7. Glad the post encouraged you April. If you have any questions about canning, feel free to e-mail me. I'd be glad to help. Canning is easy and the more you do, the easier it becomes!

    Hi Shara! We once lived in an area that had a large tract of land where you could "rent" a plot. You are welcome to rant here! Yep, I make grape jelly. I use the domestic Concord grapes for juice, but we have wild grapes that grow everywhere around here that I make into jelly. People say they aren't very good, but everyone that tastes the jelly likes it.

  8. Thanks Jane, that is so nice of you. Ha..I guess I am doing my part of helping the economy. I know, though, that when my husband retires, I can't be spending as much as I do. (In 6 years, or if he ever loses his job, whichever comes first!) We have future plans to remove a bathroom in our lower level and put in shelves. That way, I can properly start to can more. We would be envious of your real basement, albeit "creepy". My husband always wanted one! ha. I appreciate your canning expertise, because when things get tighter, I'll be prepared, and not be one of those who sit around helpless. love,andrea

  9. Ha! Andrea, guess I spur the economy too. (That teacup reference was about me.) No one would envy this basement. This house was built in the mid 1800s and it has old log for beams with the bark on, a dirt floor, and an ancient grindstone underneath the main post that holds up the little jut out. The walls are old stone that sweats in the summer so it's always damp. Like I said, creepy! As for canning, you might not need the information now, but who knows what is going to happen with the economy, so it's good to file the information away for just-in-case scenarios.

  10. I'm so glad that you did pop in to give us an update! Wow. Your stock is very impressive and I love that you do it all on a city lot! Glad to see what's been filling Jane's time. :)

    Blessings, Debbie

  11. Jane,
    I'm just now reading this -because I've been busy like you canning. You have me beat I think though! Wonderful stocked shelves I just love looking at it!

  12. Hi Debbie! I was listening to an interesting podcast the other day about the fact that there are millions of acres in the USA of farmland laying to waste. It's called the family lawn! So true. Maybe it's time for Americans to rethink the old ideas about having large green lawns that serve no useful purpose. The funny thing is when people visit me for the first time, they always comment that my backyard is so peaceful.

    Hi Vickie! I was thinking about you the other day when I acquired some canning jars at an estate sale. Remembered that you wrote about how fun it was to get some unique ones. I know how you felt. I couldn't wait to use them!

  13. Hi Jane! I love your post and the picture of your pantry. How proud you must be, to have grown and canned all those beautiful jars! I wish that basic agriculture and food preservation were taught in all schools as a mandatory class. Back in California about ten years ago at my old elementary school, they took one corner of the school play yard and converted it to a lush garden. They had all the grades do certain projects and the children loved it. They grew corn, pumpkins, squash, you name it, on that little patch of land. I used to love to walk past and watch the progress on my morning walk. The school won a national award and all the neighbors felt so proud. It hurts my heart to think of the children and adults who don't have a concept of where their food comes from or how to preserve and prepare it. Besides becoming more dependent and helpless, it also disconnects us from our roots and our understanding of our ancestors and history. When we don't know "who" we are, it effects our self-respect and how we respect others. The longer I live, the more I see how connected it all is. Knowing how to prepare your own food is so empowering. Your picture is beautiful, it is sure inspiring! Have a great week ahead Jane, until next time...Delisa :)

  14. Hi Delisa! It would be wonderful if they did teach such things in school and a lot more useful than a lot of classes they offer. That California school sounds like a great one. I heard on the radio that inner-city children could only positively identify eight animals. Can you imagine being so far removed from the natural world that you could only identify eight animals? How awful that they have only known concrete and asphalt. It really makes me sad. No wonder the country is in such a sorry state!

  15. Good for you, Jane! One for the canning and one for the observation that people are just too lazy to fix their situations! What is up with that? A little work won't hurt anyone!

    We have this odd, uncomfortable situation right now. We have two friends, both carpenters, whom we have hired to do work here. Neither shows up for weeks at a time. And, one even called to say he would miss a week because they were going to the beach! Now, I work a full-time job and can't afford to go. How can someone who works catch-as-catch-can afford it?? It makes no sense! And, it makes me really angry! No wonder I have an ulcer, eh??

  16. Tell me about it Matty! Remember I wrote to you about the contractor that hasn't come? Well, he still hasn't started work, But at least I got smart and had him resign a contract with a start date and give me a discount. Still, he was the only guy that actually showed up and gave us a quote. Now this wasn't a small job, $17,000 for the labor alone, not to mention he's charging us full price for the materials although he's getting a contractor's discount. Huron county isn't a wealthy area and the phone book has a long list of building contractors, so why everyone else thought that this was too small potatoes to even bid on, I'll never understand. I don't think that much money for three weeks work is anything to sneeze at do you? But every time I need to have something done it's the same story. They are all like that model that said she doesn't roll out of bed for under a million dollars! Guess it's easier to get your government assistance and food stamps. No one seems to have any self respect. And they make it so easy for people now days. Just swipe the card like it's a credit card, no need to be embarrassed. Wasn't it Franklin that said something about the best cure for poverty was to make people feel uncomfortable in it?

  17. dear jane
    i love your post and the photo about your canning must be very proud of your work. all the canning jars looks wonderful......great job.
    i wish you a wonderful restweek,
    love regina

  18. Hi Regina! I'm hoping that soon you will find your place in the country and have your own shelves filled with home-canned veggies and fruits. I miss your blog. Hope you'll be posting something soon. I so enjoy looking at your lovely gardens.