COVID and Food Security

After a rather lengthier silence than I had planned, I have a new post up on Mother Earth News. Like some of my previous posts, this one, too, explores food security in the pandemic era.

“Most authoritative sources agree: food prices are rising, and the trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Many of the reasons have to do with the pandemic in some way or other, including production and supply chain disruptions, increased shipping costs, and the dollar’s deprecation.”

Key insights from the post:

~ In years to come, we will likely pay for our convenience in outsourcing most of our food production

~ Prices are only going to climb higher and higher in the foreseeable future

~ The next months and years will try our resilience and ability to get by on less and less

I know that if someone had told me two years ago, “you’ll walk into a grocery store two years later and you’ll see such and such prices on fruit, vegetables, and basic staples”, I’d probably think it was a joke. Filling a supermarket cart is turning more and more expensive.

There is no better time than now to learn sustainability skills, stockpile, grow some of your own food, and explore still-affordable meal options. To make and mend clothes and furniture, swap goods, and develop strong community ties that make every crisis easier.

Why I don’t regret staying home with my children

Some years ago, there used to be a young woman. She lived in an isolated outpost with two, then three, then four small children. All day long, she took care of her kids and the household. She cooked and homeschooled, herded and milked goats, made cheese, fed chickens and gathered eggs. She took care of all the dishes, laundry, diapers, and other humdrum chores.

In between, she took her children for walks, played with them, read to them, baked with them, and sometimes even did creative things like making soap and candles.

And boy, did she fail to appreciate herself and the magnitude of work she did for her family.

As you have probably gathered, I was that woman. At the end of an exhausting day, I would sit down, wipe my brow, and tick off on my fingers: “Well, that’s two loads of laundry done, soup cooked, cheese made, baths done, floor washed, and little ones in bed. Whew! I guess I’m not completely useless.”

When I look back, I just want to give that frazzled young mom a hug and tell her, “You’re far more than adequate. You perform a staggering amount of work. You deserve a lot more recognition for all you do, as well as a long bath without anyone pounding on the door.”

Despite the financial struggles, logistic difficulties, and overwhelming loneliness of those years, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They were precious, and children only get to be little once.

There was something magical in living in the middle of nowhere and having my children run around hills with goats, sheep, and horses. And while I hope I will never have to struggle financially and emotionally so much, I will always cherish these strolls down memory lane.

If someone out there is reading this and is in a similar situation – small children, lots of work, not much money, not much external appreciation – please value and love yourself. You deserve it and more.

When it rains, it pours

From last season

During the previous couple of weeks, we’ve had such lovely sunny weather that I was finally tempted to go out and start planting some things. Yesterday and today, we’ve had a sharp overturn toward torrential rains and howling winds, and now I’m afraid all my poor seeds will be washed out. Reminder to self: never trust the weather at this time of year.

What I’m happy about is having had time to line my chicken coop with a nice, thick layer of dry leaves prior to the rains. I expand on this in my latest Mother Earth News post:

Using dry leaves for chicken coop bedding has numerous advantages:

1. It’s free: just grab a bag and haul all the leaves you want.

2. Leaves are plentiful and readily available

3. It will entertain your chickens: a bag of leaves will always contain tidbits like seeds, grass stalks, bugs, and other edibles your chickens will enjoy unearthing. 

I’m also proud to say that my post about preparing your chicken coop for the spring has made the latest MEN newsletter:

Our chickens pick up the cue of longer days and generally resume laying around February, even though it’s still cold. The young pullets hatched at the end of last season – say, September or October – are generally ready to start laying in February or March.

I can hear some of you laughing hysterically, saying “Cold? You guys don’t know what cold is”. True, we rarely get any snow, but the shorter winter days still affect our egg production. Come spring, I look forward to:

  1. Having all the omelets we want
  2. Raising baby chicks
  3. Planting
  4. Hiking

I’m not looking forward to:

  1. Passover cleaning.
  2. Uh… no. Nothing else. Just the cleaning. 🙂

Stay snug and warm, everyone!

An oasis of sustainability

A thriving little urban garden

It used to be just a tiny synagogue with an empty dirt yard full of construction debris. Until one day I passed and saw that someone has cleared the trash away and began to make rows for planting.

Ever since, I have seen them often. They are a lovely older couple that had taken over this desolate little plot and have made it green and thriving. They have planted greens, herbs, squash, tomatoes, and young trees. And they work there every day without fail.

I’m so grateful to these people. They have shown that no plot is too small to work; every bit of unused urban land can turn into a little island of sustainability. And it doesn’t even have to be your own land.

As Naomi of Bloomah’s City Farm writes,

“Though I live in a regular Beit Shemesh apartment, there are so many budding opportunities for me to farm. I farm on my kitchen windowsill, in my storage room, on my porch, in the yard I’m blessed to have, in my neighbor’s yard, in the open spaces that surround my neighborhood. I don’t need rolling green acres.”

From our backyard

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The little quail pen. It’s easy to move so that they can dig in a fresh place from time to time.

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An inside shot of the quail: the darker one is the female. Raising them has been fun and I can’t wait to try hatching their eggs (which, by the way, make delicious tiny omelets).

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The upgraded chicken coop: now on a raised netting-covered platform. Most of the poop falls right through the netting, which reduces the mess and smell.

Clockwise: sage, mint, rosemary, lemon balm.

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Tomato seedlings are in the ground.

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Two of my favorite repotted geraniums. They are incredibly easy to propagate: just cut a piece, stick it in moist potting soil, and it will soon sprout roots. I’ve been making little plants to give to neighbors this way.

As you can see, we’ve been busy and enjoying the nice weather. I hope everyone is doing well and keeping safe.

This kind of day

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Yesterday spring was really in the air. We found the first surprise eggs from our pullets in odd corners – you can imagine the thrill (I don’t have a store bought egg to place side by side for comparison, but they are about 2/3 as large and a 100 times tastier).

I made the nesting boxes all comfy and cozy and placed dummy eggs inside.

I planted peas and sweet peas.

I put the yard in order a bit after the recent winds and rain and being unable to poke my nose out. It was great.

Now today we have more rains, a chilling wind, lots of mud, and I’ve caught whatever bug that has been making its way among the kids. Again.

But that’s OK too, as long as I have the comfort of my warm bed, books, yarn, and hot chocolate.

Stay cozy and warm!

Lots of sunshine

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November days are short, but sunny and breezy – perfect for picking, sorting, washing and drying dates that grow on some palm trees that apparently have been planted for purely decorative purposes. Well, we’re definitely not wasting these. Separate post about it coming soon.

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Look what a great find – a practically ready made deck path which is going to come in handy soon when we have lots of rain and mud. My husband found it discarded in the industrial zone, and we are going to sand and stain it.

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This handsome fellow belongs to our neighbors. It’s a Black Orpington and they have recently acquired a hen too. I will see about getting some hatching eggs in the spring (right now it’s not a very good chick season).

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Six days of creation art!

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