Here on our little hillside, in WV, we try to live a simple life. One where we can try to make the best decisions in regards to what we feed our family, and where we source our foods. We try to make green decision that are not only good for our family but for our community and planet as well. There is no place I would rather raise a family, than these WV hills! So I guess it is our responsibility to preserve them, and our heritage.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

the "new normal"

I sit here today, in the middle of a snow/ice storm, checking out all the damage we need to repair to the trees, and fence, and land from these recent storms.  In the past 6 months, here at our little piece of heaven, we have experienced two storms, the derecho in July and then Sandy in October, that knocked out the power for 9 and 10 days. Sadly the folks at the bottom of our mountain had to deal with a flash flood in the earlier part of the year, that completely washed away their houses.  We have always been very cautious about being prepared, and have learned very valuable lessons from each storm as to what additional preparations we need to make.  Seeing as this degree of storm is to be considered the "new normal", I guess we should prepare for the loss of power, for over a week, at least twice a year.  Really??

Sadly, the weather is not just affecting me, but is making an impact worldwide.  The new normal, and it is only getting worse.  I always keep an eye on climate news, but have began to notice an increase in climate statistics being released and articles regarding the current drought and heat records, that should have all of us taking a serious look at how we intend to provide for our families in the coming years.  These weather changes are also something we need to be prepared for.  Their affects are going to be far reaching.  Which means we have a lot more preparation to do.

The drought and heat affects the price of practically everything.  In 2013 food prices are expected to raise .  Crop production will be lower due to drought, causing a world wide food shortage, the world population has exceeded 7 billion, and we are producing less food.  Did you read about the pork shortage?  How about the price rise on rice?  Have you noticed that the can of vegetables you bought at the grocery store a few years ago for 35 cents now costs 70 cents?  The price of a gallon of milk has practically doubled in the past decade and is expected to go higher.  There seems to be no slow in the rising cost of feeding our families.  

FEMA recommends having a 3 day emergency supply of food and water, per person, on hand in case if an emergency.  Do you have at least that?  Do you have a means of providing food or water for your family, if the disaster went beyond that 3 days?  Luckily most folks around here seem to be of a "different breed", and are for the most part prepared, at least for a few days of being snowed in.  When Sandy hit, most emergency response crews and news media went to NY, and NJ where thousands were without power.  When here in our West Virginia mountains, we too had thousands who were without power.  You saw a great response from volunteers to help those who were not prepared, and help remove debris and restore power.  What you did not see, was many news crews.  Just a few reporting on the amount of snow, and our wonderful local coverage.  I believe this is because our people are strong and resilient, and self sufficient.  For the most part, we have the necessities to keep our families safe, warm and fed.  We have a rich and strong heritage to thank for that.  We should take pride in the skills we have in gardening, preserving, hunting, fishing, foraging and living off the land provided to us.  
wild morals found last spring

We all should to try to make an extra effort to provide at least some of our families foods, and to start buying locally and seasonally.    There are so many ways to provide good food.  From a small container garden, or window herb garden, to a raised bed or traditional garden.  There is also foraging for wild foods, nuts, mushrooms, berries, etc.  Make sure you are taking advantage of local fishing and hunting. You can also try visiting a you pick it farm or participating in a community garden or invest in a CSA.  You have the option to can, freeze, or dry what you gather to save the excess for winter, or in case of an emergency.  

When it comes to storing grains and dry beans, it is super simple.  Just sterilize and dry your mason jars and use them.  I like to use the half gallon jars for pasta and quarts for rice and beans, even popcorn. You can date and label the lids.  Rice, pastas, and beans will stay good in dry storage for a long time.  It is also a great way to keep the pantry stocked and easy to replenish.  
dry storage
Do you know your local farmers?  Beekeeper?  Do you know a local supplier of meat, dairy, cheese, or grains?  You know what you are capable of supplying, you should also be aware of what others in your area can offer.  You should always try to buy locally before you have something imported anyhow.  Supporting your local farmer, supports you.  Check out your local farmers market, when open, and meet some of your local farmers.  You should be able to find most everything you need locally.  Have you ever placed an order at your local butcher?  You may be surprised to find out what they have to offer.   Take some time to become familiar with your local food sources.  It is better for your family, your pocketbook, and our planet.

They are predicting that we may see global food riots, like in 2008, next year due to the rise in prices and the decline in the harvest.  Climate scientists are predicting the drought to continue into 2013.  This drought is going to cause problems globally, in crop production, livestock numbers, soil conditions, water levels, etc.. So when preparing for your families needs, this should be something you consider.  Please take the effort to be cautious in your choices that can harm our planet.  Start your "new normal", recycle, reuse, compost, conserve, buy locally, eat naturally, live green!