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I just read this on a blog I just started following!! This is an AMAZING commercial! All my feelings on the farming industry summed up in 2 minutes. Check it out!! Back to the Start –

Back to the Start

Two Barn Farm

I’m not one to post back-to-back entries, I’m usually good for one a week but if you didn’t see the new ad for Chiptotle, take a couple of minutes and watch it. This is Chipotle’s first tv ad and wow! They nailed it, amazing. Smart campaign to target a “Back to Basics” farming approach in this short animated commercial featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos

It reminds me of Pixar’s “Up” when they were able to convey so much emotion in the first ten minutes (when she was unable to have children) completely through nonverbal means. I’m not saying go to Chipotle’s (owned by McDonald’s) but I am saying what they made here is gold and will hopefully force change in the industrial agricultural factory farming community.

Baby steps, right?

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1. You look forward all week to the arrival of the Sunday paper and all it’s circulars and coupons.

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2. A Friday night spent with your favorite TV shows, take out and a bottle of wine sounds like a Rockin good time to you.
3. You keep adding animals to your menagerie because you like responsibility.
4. You think a Wine Spritzer is the best thing since sliced bread and you wonder why Red Bull and Vodka ever seemed like the right choice?
5. One of the most exciting things you got for Christmas was a new kitchen faucet.

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Yes it’s entirely possible that this version of adulthood could be synonymous with BORING, but as someone who had wild oats and sowed the heck out of them, I call this contentment!!!

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A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

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As I prepare my last batch of hot pepper jam for this season and plot out the holiday baking madness for the upcoming season I am also preparing to put our garden down for an extended rest.   That’s right, for Garden Season 2012 we will not be planting anything in our garden plot.   Does that mean this Farmgirl has given up only 3 years and 6 chickens in?  On the contrary,  this Farmgirl has been inspired by a great book that I picked up at my local Tractor Supply  The Backyard Homestead:

This book is a must have desk reference for anyone who wants to start a backyard homestead or begin to dabble in producing  their own food from scratch.    Upon purchasing this book I had some AHA moments about  being a bonified urban homesteader.    I have not mastered anything mind you (as clearly illustrated by this year’s less than bumper crop of carrots and beets),  but I do feel that I have a good handle on growing vegetables in a garden.    So 2012 our goal is to make our yard a well-rounded food bearing garden retreat.   We would like to add apple trees and perhaps some pear trees.  We would like to clear out the random and useless rock garden next to our pool and create a blueberry patch.   We would like to plot out a location for  raised strawberry and raspberry beds.   Perhaps a deck and real live fireplace and/or bread oven.   Perhaps a door yard full of berries and nuts.  Boxed herbs and of course a handful of containers loaded with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  Oh and maybe, just maybe we might actually get that compost system set up that we have been threatening to put into operation for 3 years now.

So,  you ask what will these homesteaders do for fresh and local produce next year?   Well, we will start by getting a full share in our CSA, Maplewood  Organics.   My final calculation after this last pick up of what we received for this season was nearly $350 of organic potatoes, peppers, onions (which, I might add, organic onions were going for $2 a lb. today at the grocery store) brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, fresh-cut flours, swiss chard, kale, radishes, lettuce, green beans and more.  Given that, I am super excited to see what a full share will garner us.  Of course there is always our local farmers markets and farm stands where buying in bulk is encouraged.  Having  just filled my belly with Gluten Free Lasagna made with delicious homemade tomato sauce, we will make sure to do whatever it takes to get our hands on fresh tomatoes.  So. long story not so short, we will do what our ancestors have always done and give our garden plot a rest after what can only be described as a “challenging” season for growers across the nation.    We will fill it with winter rye,  and host a potato sack race over the top of it for leap year in July!!!  We will build the backyard homestead/haven of our dream and in 2013 recreate the veggie magic of old.   And by then, ideally, I will be picking my first apples from our own tree, making my own soap, jewelry and clothes (try to contain your envy) and munching on homemade yogurt and string cheese.   At the end of the day, homesteading is an attitude and a lifestyle.  Gardening is a huge part of that, but anyone can grow a vegetable, a true homesteader grows and decorates an entire buffet.

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Sorry folks I am just recovering from an amazing wedding weekend with my oldest dearest and one of the best friends I have ever had AND I am coping with life without a nanny AND housekeeper!! I will give everyone some great details from this past week to make up for lost time!! Also, just before leaving for the wedding I found myself desperate to can nearly 100 pounds of tomatoes while working a full time job! This folks is all part of the joy of harvest season!!

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I had intended to write about our garden as it enters its second stage, but alas, the weather was not being super cooperative so that will be a post for another day.  Instead, I would like to share my extreme couponing experience and my plans moving forward.   If you caught my tweets you know I saved about 27% off my total bill at my local grocery store, Price Chopper.   We are still reaping the benefits from that trip (nothing says let me entertain you like a can of Bush’s baked beans of which I have 5), and slowly starting our stockpile.   I saved 27% without printing any online coupons or really using the full extent of the deal match-ups that I could have.   I also realize that when we see the famed “Extreme Couponers” on reality TV, they have a ginormous stockpile already and therefore can pick and choose what they get with every trip, and can wait to buy necessities until they reach rock bottom prices.  Our stockpile has not reached epic proportions as of yet, but I am confident we will get there.   As for the overall experience I can tell you the following things for sure:

1.  Couponing is a time commitment.  I did not even get any of the online coupons, completely research the match ups or organize the coupons with anything other than a paper clip and a dream and it still took about 3 hours of time total from clipping to car.

2.  5 boxes of cereal take up a LOT of valuable cart real-estate.    By the end of the trip I was practically balancing yogurt on my nose.   If you are going to try an extreme coupon trip, bring a friend who can push an additional cart..then load up on cereal till your heart’s content.

3.   Have your coupons organized and bring them all, even if you don’t think you are going to use them.  I stumbled across a couple of really good deals while shopping made even better by coupons I had on my person.

As I move forward with this new “hobby”, I have a couple of goals in mind:

1.  I would like to spend only $400 a month or $100 a week on groceries.   This would cut our monthly bill in half, which would be ideal and means Iphone for Jamie and more grassfed/free range meats for  our family.

2.  I am going to organize the coupons in a binder and/or accordion file in the hopes of being able to get the most bang for my buck and time.

3.  I would like to clear out some shelves in my basement to start the stockpile.  My husband has acquired the shelves and now we just need to clean out the space.  It has long been a dream of mine to have an unlimited supply of paper towels, toilet paper and dishwasher detergent in storage.  Perhaps soon that will be a reality.

I already have my match-ups lined up for the next trip and will share a photo of my newly organized coupons once it is complete.   In the meantime I am looking forward to reporting increased savings and sharing photos of our homemade and store-bought hybrid stockpile.

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You are probably wondering what on earth golfing has to do with homesteading and/or organic gardening, right?  I will be honest, not a whole heck of a lot.  However, I absolutely believe to be successful as a homesteader, you have to be willing to try new things.  Since I am what some psychologist types would like to call a “joiner”,  I did not even blink when someone asked me to play in a charity golf tournament.  I simply said, “sure I’d love to!”  The fact that I hadn’t touched a club in almost 5 years and never really played a full game didn’t matter until the next day, when the reality of what I had committed to sank in.   So today, I “tried” golfing again and I was terrible.  No, terrible is to kind.  HORRIBLE.   My teammates should have gotten  tee-shirts that say, “I played golf with Jamie and all I got was this damn T-shirt?”   Thankfully, they were all super kind and supportive and were happy to have some comic relief.   As it turns out I am looking forward to playing again!!     I was a little disheartened by my 20th swing and a miss and by around hole 9, I was ready to throw in the towel.  Instead, I ordered a drink, watched my teammates, and tried again.  Now granted, there is a tree here in northern VT with a little less bark, a pond with a few extra golf balls at the bottom, and one outbuilding with a little dent in it, but by the  18th hole, I was actually making solid contact and putting the ball in the air.     All the while, I was laughing and enjoying my time in the great outdoors with great people.   My journey into homesteading has been a similar experience.   Our first garden lacked, well, vegetables.   The first batch of canned jam I ever made was not among my top 100 tastiest concoctions.   It has taken me 7 years to perfect pie crust.   The first thing I ever knitted was a blanket for my friend’s wedding.  They have been married nearly 5 years and it is STILL not done.    The first diaper I put on my child was backwards.   You get the drift.   Every single one of those things has an amazing memory or funny story attached to it.   So many of the best experiences of my life have come from deciding I wanted to learn a skill or “join” a club.   I cannot wait to see what fun new skills my journey towards becoming the a little mom on the prairie bring my way.   Getting back to basics means learning a lot of new things, which means inevitable failure before amazing success.   I hope everyone tries something for the first time,  falls flat on their face, comes back for a second whack at it and repeats the process for the rest of their lives.   On a side note :   Should you see me on the course, stay away from buildings and trees for your own safety.

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Tonight’s post is a little lean because as it turns out this modern-day homesteader has some modern-day homework to wrap up.   Today, however, was one of those days that was just to wonderful to not write about.  It wasn’t wonderful in a wedding, birth of my child, day on the beach kind of wonderful, but a simple pleasures life is good kind.   Today was a day to enjoy ice cream sundaes with friends and co-workers.   It was about eating a homemade corn fritter filled with fresh herbs that tantalized the taste buds.  It was about going for an amazing walk in the sunshine with a good friend.    It was about a kind and patient man who I happen to adore helping me master a golf swing.   It was about talking to chickens and having them talk back.  It was about running through the sprinkler with my daughter and watching as seeds start to sprout in our garden.    It was about eating grilled cheese and letting the magic of dance fill our home.  It is days like these that remind me that the root of all our homesteading goals and practices is to relish these simple times and make them a rule not the exception.  Days like this also remind me that talking to chickens is a little weird and even when you think you are a terrible golfer, the magic shot will happen when you are aiming towards the house.  Sleep tight and strive for a 100 simple pleasures tomorrow!!

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