Late Summer Chores
Depending on where you live late summer could mean hot days or the onset of early fall. For us, it's hot. It's so hot I like to do most of my work indoors.
I have that luxury this year since most of the garden was a dud. All but the okra and peppers survived the prolonged bake-a-rama. And even the survivors gave few fruits.
There's always a silver lining so I decided to use my time (not harvesting) by organizing my house.
I have a very nice work room where I do most of my writing, reading, and overall research. My cabinets are full of stuff--stuff I rarely use or even look at.
I'm sure you have a few cabinets like mine too. So why not make them useful again?
I have a large space under my work table that housed boxes of computer stuff. Most of it is defunct tech. Only occasionally do I go through them looking for a spare charger, cable, or keyboard. Another big shelf area had loads of different sized envelopes from when I used to mail a lot.
It was wasted space spent on things I might look at once a year if that. Time to rehome the lot.
So what's going into these new open spaces?
I've recently bought some dehydrated food that I'd like to keep in a temp-controlled room. I'm also working on storing several months' worth of cat food.
For some reason cat food is still really hard to find on a regular basis. And when you can find it, it's ridiculously expensive. Since I have a cat who cannot eat solid food, I don't want to be caught without the food he can eat. (I also buy baby food for Jammy since he can eat it without me having to puree it.)
Also, buying in bulk and ahead of time allows me to buy food at the best prices. Fortunately, canned cat food doesn't take up a lot of space.
If push came to shove, the dogs can eat what we eat, but the cat is greatly disadvantaged when it comes to what he can swallow.
Speaking of letting the dogs eat what we eat, our neighbor offered to shoot a loose pig that was eating the corn he left for deer. We think this pig is from a litter of four that must've escaped their owners. They've been wandering our neighborhood for weeks. It won't take long before they turn feral.
What with Greg still recuperating, we declined to harvest the pig. I don't have room in my freezer anyway.
I would LOVE to raise a mini cow (and calf for the freezer), but Greg has put his hoof down. No more large animals, even if they're minis.
He's right of course, but I've always wanted to raise beef for the freezer.
Interesting side note. While waiting to pay a bill, I was eavesdropping on our local large animal vet who was sharing his plans on buying up a lot of cattle. Because of our prolonged drought, a lot of ranchers are selling their herds. This vet felt that if he could buy them now, he could sell them for a profit a year from now when everyone wanted them again.
He's got the land, so it makes sense.
I have only a little land, but I've come up with a plan to help it for the next drought.
Every year, we vacuum up and mulch the leaves around our property. A lot of it goes into the garden. This year, I'd like to see if the next door neighbors would let us drive around their land and vacuum and mulch any of their leaves. I'd like to lay down the additional mulch around our property as an extra layer of protection during the drier months.
They might not let me do it, but it never hurts to ask.
Every year I hope for wood chips but those guys only trim our trees every third or fourth year, so I've been out of luck lately. Wood chips help me house so many earthworms even during the worst heat wave.
It looks like our heat wave is coming to an end though. Huzzah!! We'll have several days below triple digits. Now all we need is the rain.
Along with the dehydrated food, I'm doing research on mylar bags. Since it's just the two of us, I want to be able to divvy up the #10 cans into more usable portions for us.
Do not buy the first mylar bags you see at a good price. Check the thickness. Many companies will tout 5 mil, but that's 5 mil combined from both sides of the bag. You want at least 9.5 or 10 mil. 12 mil is better.
Depending on what you're repackaging, you don't want any sharp edges punching a hole once you vacuum seal it.
Sometimes I think I spend most of my time doing research. For every legitimate vendor there are fifty unscrupulous sellers.
What plans do you have for late summer? Do you ever get on an organizing jag?
I've started winnowing out all my 'stuff'. I've thought for awhile that I still have way too much stuff. I got rid of a lot when we moved here and gave up a thousand square feet and it wasn't nearly enough then and I haven't done much since. I must though. I can't stand it anymore.
I don't do a lot in the late summer/early fall. I do some cleaning up in the yard, but not much. I leave a lot for the critters who overwinter. My big clean up is in the spring but after I'm sure the critters have come out of dormancy. I know. I'm weird.
I couldn't keep animals for food though. Well, chickens for their eggs, but that's it. Sorry. I can't look a critter in the eyes and then see it on my plate. That's just not me. I can remove myself from it when I buy it at the grocery. I'd definitely be a vegetarian if that was the case and not by choice mind. Just because it would have to be. Can't help it.
My 35 years in Tucson provide lots of empathy with you on the heat issue. Keep telling yourself that soon it will be December and cooler! My current abode features hot days, but only into the 90s and low hundreds, with occasional higher spikes. But most of the time, it's balanced with cool nights that let us open windows and wake up to a house at 70 degrees or so. Like you, though, drought is our biggest problem.
Can you tell us more about the mylar bags? How long can you store food? What about cooked food or meat? Can it be kept for any time out of the freezer if it's heat-sealed? Currently, we keep emergency food in the original packaging, in large weather-proof containers. It's all kept in a small shed outside, so the heat can affect the quality of the food. I rotate it out every year or two. Are the bags a better idea.
Thank you for all your ideas!
None of my outside tomatoes have produced since the heat wave began.
re: animals for food
A lot of people are like that. I've always been interested in where my food came from, even more so after I learned how many antibiotics and other chemicals commercial farms put in our food. Raising my own doesn't make it cheaper, but at least I know they're chem-free.
I'll write a proper post on mylar, but I'll try to answer your questions.
Mylar is better than plastic (vacuum sealed) bags because they are generally opaque and thicker. It adds a layer of insulation.
Vacuum sealing plus using an oxygen absorber will greatly increase the longevity of your foods.
As for freezing food, while it's more durable, it's also more expensive. Most frozen food is only there for a year, so you're better off using plastic.
On the other hand if you have freeze dried food, you can store it in mylar for up to 20 years (according to the literature). I would add it depends on the food. If there are oils or high moisture you don't want to store them for that long.
For example, you can store brown rice for two years, but white rice (sealed and with an oxygen absorber) could last 20-25 years. Some people say indefinitely, but I would err on the 20 year mark. Brown rice as you know has oils that will make it go rancid faster.
To answer your question on whether they're better, I think they're better for long storage of food like rice, flour, beans, seeds, and pasta. Another benefit, vacuum sealed and with an oxygen absorber it prevents weevils from hatching. That's a big plus for me.
For high moisture and freezable food, I would go for a thick plastic bag that can be vacuum sealed. You can use mylar, but I wouldn't go for the added expense for food that's in quicker rotation.
I promise. I'll write a proper post on mylar soon.
I have organic farms here that I can buy meat from. I'm good with that. I just couldn't pet it then eat it. Not in my wheelhouse. Nope. Not me. No can do. I trap the spiders and let them go outside. No way could I kill something and eat it.
I had a bazillion flowers on my tomato plants! When they all fell off, no fruit. And I have bees up the yingyang so it's not like they didn't get pollinated. They're not 10 feet from the cukes that are producing at an almost alarming rate. No, it's got to be the heat. I can't think of any other reason why they're not doing anything more than just sitting on pea sized...peas.
re: room: The original owners of the house designed it as a hobby room I think. It's got lots of space to hold supplies and a long work table with under cabinets. I put my computer desk catty corner from it. I can look out the window and watch the deer.