Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Now THAT's a talented Rabbit!

Plotting the course:

Coming into position:

Ah, getting down to quilting... where do you turn it on?:

Article on a Mormon cannery in Seattle

This is just a quick post to include an article for the Seattle times about the Mormon Cannery there.

Please do not think I am advocating Mormon doctrine or beliefs (quite the opposite,). I think therer is tremendous value in the implimentation of a common warehouse of equipment for use by an entire town is quite important for transition towns and a post peak oil future. It's interesting that article says these came about in the Great Depression.

Oh, and the reason I don't have pictures up is that we have a nice new camara and I have no idea how to get the pictures out of it. How's that for lame?

Monday, March 30, 2009

My trip to the Mormon cannery

Mrs. Neighbor and I went to the Mormon cannery one evening last week. It was an interesting experience. People sign up to come in shifts every hour of the evening. When you walk in you are handed a slip of paper to fill out with your name, what church you attend and to check out what you want to buy. The food available to purchase is organized by shelf life. Then you go and wash and put on hair nets, aprons, and food service gloves. Everyone is listed on a white board with what you're buying and then everyone sets to work packing -not your individual order, but filling cans to fill the common food stores.

The cannery is in a house on a farm at the end of a dirt country road. On the outside it looks like a regular western farm house with cows in the field next to the house and dogs in a kennel and a plaque on the door. However there is no living space inside the house - the entire house has been converted (upstairs and down, floor to ceiling) into a cannery/food storage area. The wall was taken out between the living room and kitchen and there is a desk as you walk in and filing cabinets (where what you bought is filed away). There are long processing tables and a hoppers to fill tin cans and a way to put the tin lid on and seal it. Everything is packed in #10 cans. There is one white board with lists of places where you can get different information and other food storage items. This information changes regularly according to our host person.

In what would have been the master bedroom is flour processing where flour is poured into cans and sealed (and the mess is contained to that room), in the other old bedrooms, boxes are stacked on custom pallets floor to ceiling in a maze. And in what would have been the laundry room off the kitchen is an office for keep record of what is needed. The bulk foods are brought up from the basement and taken to the various processing stations.

There was an older lady in charge who told people what their job was and everyone set to working. I was given the task of folding cardboard boxes, and the lady in charge watched for a moment to be sure the packing stamp was on the bottom and I was keeping everything neat and straight. I thought it was because I hadn't been there before and was being kept out of the way that I was given that job, but by the end of the evening I realized that every job had equal importance. During the course of a half hour I built a mountain of empty boxes. As the cans came off the line every box was filled, labled, each packed with two plastic reusable lids. The full boxes were put onto a dolly and taken to the bedrooms and placed with other like. During the course of the evening one team had been filling the orders off the white board.

The work was strenuous with everyone working at top speed for one hour. There were no little children underfoot and there were so many people working we were packed in like sardines. There were old people working, strapping young men, and pregnant women. I noticed one quite pregnant woman sitting quite a bit on about the only chair while her husband did the work - each did according to their ability. The atmosphere was happy and people caught up with each other's news as they worked along side by side. As each order was filled the lady in charge would tap you on the shoulder and you would go and settle up. Only checks were taken and a receipt was given and your information was filed and your took your order out of the way to your vehicle and come back in and keep working your shift.

Mrs. neighbor and I were obviously outsiders but were treated very cordially. However at one point two men stopped behind us and said to the other "Well, I just figure the more of them that comes and works with us the less of 'em we'll have to worry about when the time comes."

When the hour was up, the white board was wiped clean the floor was swept, counters wiped, food stowed, packing tape placed in his location, and the next group was standing outside to come in and take their turn working at full steam for one hour. The last group of the night empties the trash and cleans the equipment.

It boggles my mind the amount of food processed every night, and the efficiency with which the whole operation clicks along. There is at least one such cannery in every town in the state and then less frequently in other states. No wonder their symbol is the bee hive. It was very interesting to see lines of people working on common food storage and yet just a little eerie. I know that in Salt Lake city there are entire huge silos that are kept full of food at all times. That must be where the bulk bags come from.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

As the worm churns

Well, worm ranching may not be rocket science but I think I've managed to drown my wrigglers. I've got them new bedding and better drainage so we'll see if they dry out and rev. up. I have 2"x3"x1" plastic bins under the rabbit cages to catch the manure (and urine). I had set one aside for the worms but I didn't have good enough drainage. I think that the cost of converting all these bins to containers with catch buckets would not be cost effective so I'm going to look into finding a place in the ground to make a trench. That way I can water the rabbit manure down and wash out the ammonia so it doesn't burn the worms.

Sadly we lost a bunn last week. It was one of the new Flemish Giant babies - a light gray. He just didn't travel well and didn't recover. We were very sad and gave him a decent burial.

This winter it was as if someone pulled the plug on the economy of this town. Even I was surprised at how it happened overnight. Everyday Mr. Greenjeans is fearful of losing his job. Every week they lay off people both above him and under him.

Today I went to a yard sale at a neighbor's house - they are moving to AK. I picked up a food dehydrator (electric) for $3.00. I guess I've got Mrs. neighbor's attention as she is now looking like a survivalist nut (I taught her well). She wants us to go in on packaged food storage. I like our fresh food storage (I hear Chibi beginning to measure wheat into the mill, now) but I suppose long term packaged stuff has its place. You could bug out with it in its boxes. It's so expensive though!

Our garden land (and house and other land) sold to the neighbor's son just before the bust. He's now looking to sub-divide it for building lots. He hasn't (yet) given us permission to garden this year. I don't know what he's asking for the land. The time is ticking on the season here! I'm going to have to start thinking about raised beds in the lawn.

Boy am I pleased as punch to see a (little) veggie plot going into the White house lawn. I love our president and his family but I think he needs to think outside the box to turn the economy around. Payroll had to tell me I'd gotten my economic stimulus tax break - it's so small it wouldn't take us out to lunch at a fast food place! I am very grateful that we are both employed. We're saving money but we've only too recently been at the end of our financial rope to have much cushion.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Still Around

I noticed that Chili posted a comment about wanting to check in (what a sweetie). I checked in because it may be time to begin blogging again.

You know, some folks give a warning that they are taking a haitus, I just seem to waunder off...... must be a personality thing. (INFP for your Meyers-Briggs types).

No pictures today but here is some of what I've been doing: for one thing paying closer attention to my work and really ramping up the creativiy there. I am the keeper of tradition but the folks who pay my salery really like creativity as well.

Chibi and I have taken our rabbits on the road. We have started showing our rabbits and have purchased some more. Chibi's French Lop won Best in Show, and I have picked up another couple of Flemish for show. Beatrice is doing very well and is a constant companion in the house.

I didn't really intend to get into Holland lops but I went with a friend to get some bunnies for her from an old guy who was going out of rabbits. I saw that the little guys only have ice to suck on and the guy who owned them had run out of feed and was only feeding hay, and so I picked up some myself - he said others were interested. After thinking about it over the weekend he was out of town I went back and bought the rest and realized they hadn't been fed since the last time I'd visited. I now have quite a few Holland Lops.

The chickens are doing well and producing beautifully. I did a spring cleaning on the chicken coop this weekend and now have more brown compost materials than I can deal with so it's piled up in the corner of the property to age.

Nee has been accepted to all the nice private schools she's applied for. She has been awarded half tuition.... which leaves $24,000 a year. Mmmmm hope there are scholarships out there or its a no-go.

The wood stove has cut our gas bill to a fraction this winter. We've been buying wood from a guy who goes out to the bone yard at the factory he works for and cuts up shipping pallets to the proper length and takes out all the nails. I figure its a win-win scenario. He obviously needs the suplimental income.

The snow is all but gone except for the north side of the house. Mr Greenjeans is itching to go fishing as the ice breaks up. Related to this is that with my composters being full, and animals producing manure, I've started in on the worm farming end of things. I'll post more on that as it gets going. I think I started with too few worms for the job.

I'll be checking in with you all - even if I'm not blogging every day.