I feel like this guy. Image Credit: http://barkandclark.blogspot.com

I felt like this guy. Image Credit: http://barkandclark.blogspot.com

Man it was hot yesterday. I’m sure that my brothers, who live in Wyoming and Maine, were gloating about their cooler weather, since it was over 100-degrees F, with a 108-degrees heat index, here in Kansas City, KS.

And with that, let’s quickly move on to the Independence Days Challenge, so we all can get back into the shade. Here’s what I have been doing lately.

Plant Something: If you are one of my few readers, you know that I planted my tomatoes and peppers not too long ago. While I was at it, I tried out some DIY ollas, using plastic milk jugs. The milk jugs didn’t work like real ollas, because the water ran right through. But, they are helpful in watering deeply. Other than that, I have been out only a few times to water. The mosquitoes have been unbearable lately.

Things seem to be growing well, in spite of the lack of water. Next year, I would like to try a garden with almost no watering. I think that it would be helpful to purchase to ollas.

The crimson clover seems to have developed some sort of mildew. It starts out as spots on the leaves.

CloverFungus1

The spots quickly expand to cover the leaves.

CloverFungus2

I’m not sure what to do about this, except to cut the clover down to the ground and dispose of it in the trash (not the compost bin). Since I don’t grow beans any more, maybe I could put this in the composter. What do you think?

Harvest Something: Nothing, though I could harvest chard and herbs. Mostly, I am working and trying to avoid more bug bites.

DehydraftedApplesTomatoes

Preserve Something: I have been using my Excalibur dehydrator (affiliate link) lately, to dehydrate organic apples and tomatoes (see above). The tomatoes are local, but sadly the apples are not. There is an apple orchard (Sunflower Orchard) near my home. This Fall, I plan to stock up on dehydrated apples, apple sauce, apple jam/jelly, etc.

I started two new quart jars of lactofermented saurkraut, using cabbages that I purchased at the farmer’s market. I am giving my Kraut Kaps© (affiliate link) and Crock Rocks© (affiliate link) another try. You can read about my previous attempt here.

As you know, the usual ratio of salt to cabbage is 3-Tablespoon of canning salt for every 5-pounds of cabbage. While putting my ferments together, I found that 1.5-pounds of cabbage fits perfectly into 1-quart sized jars, so that the level of the ferment is far enough down from the Kraut Kap airlock. 1.5-pounds of cabbage requires 1.5-T of salt. (Should have used 4-teaspoons of salt. See why here.) That was pretty easy, since one of my measuring spoons is 1.5-T.  Hah! 😀

Now my two jars of fermenting sauerkraut are on my counter, under paper lunch sacks (which keep the sun out). The should be finished fermenting in a day or two. Can’t wait to give them a try.

I froze several quarts of blackberry seconds (from Sunflower Orchards). When it cools off, I plan to start making jam. Black and blue jam (blackberries and blueberries) will be one of the first jams that I plan to make. Guess that I had better freeze some blueberries too.

Waste Not: We continue with the usual recycling and uncluttering. I suppose that one might add being sure to use up leftovers. Usually, I make them into frozen dinners, which I take to work for lunches.

Want Not: Nothing

Eat The Food: We have eaten lots of stuff from the Farmer’s market, including cabbage, tomatoes, corn, onions, cantaloupe, blackberries… You get the idea.

Build Community Food Systems: From “Eat The Food,” I am sure that you figured out that we have spent some time at the Farmer’s Market. We also purchased tomatoes for a friend who works during the Farmer’s Market. I made arrangements with one of the farmers to purchase a 5-gallon bucket of second tomatoes (for dehydrating). I discussed and made plans to purchase apples from Sunflower Orchards, when it is harvest season.

Skill Up: I am becoming interested in Dry Farming. It is pretty obvious that as time goes on, there will be less water for the garden. Thus, I have been searching the web for articles on dry farming and seeds for dry farmed crops.

Contemplation: I decided to add this category because I spend a lot of time thinking about the environment and how things are going to go as climate change progresses and oil declines. You can use this category if you want to.

stateofclimate2013cover_200x267 (1)This month, The American Meteorological Association published its annual special supplemental bulletin entitled State of the Climate in 2013, which is a peer-reviewed series. The journal makes the full report openly available online. You can download a pdf copy of the bulletin by clicking here. Or click on the image to the right.  You might want to take a look at the extreme events that happened last year. Here is a terrific map.

Here are the highlights of the report (via NOAA):

  1. Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.8 ppm in 2013, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year. At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the daily concentration of CO2 exceeded 400 ppm on May 9 for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958. This milestone follows observational sites in the Arctic that observed this CO2 threshold of 400 ppm in spring 2012.
  2. Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth’s surface: Four major independent datasets show 2013 was among the warmest years on record, ranking between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest.
  3. Sea surface temperatures increased: Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions in the eastern central Pacific Ocean and a negative Pacific decadal oscillation pattern in the North Pacific had the largest impacts on the global sea surface temperature during the year. The North Pacific was record warm for 2013.
  4. Sea level continued to rise: Global mean sea level continued to rise during 2013, on pace with a trend of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year over the past two decades.
  5. The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic observed its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Record high temperatures were measured at 20-meter depth at permafrost stations in Alaska. Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. All seven lowest sea ice extents on record have occurred in the past seven years.
  6. Antarctic sea ice extent reached record high for second year in a row; South Pole station set record high temperature: The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.56 million square miles on October 1. This is 0.7 percent higher than the previous record high extent of 7.51 million square miles that occurred in 2012 and 8.6 percent higher than the record low maximum sea ice extent of 6.96 million square miles that occurred in 1986. Near the end of the year, the South Pole had its highest annual temperature since records began in 1957.
  7. Tropical cyclones near average overall / Historic Super Typhoon: The number of tropical cyclones during 2013 was slightly above average, with a total of 94 storms, in comparison to the 1981-2010 average of 89. The North Atlantic Basin had its quietest season since 1994. However, in the Western North Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Haiyan – the deadliest cyclone of 2013 – had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone, with one-minute sustained winds estimated to be 196 miles per hour.

Now that’s depressing!

I suppose climate change and the impending scorcher we all are going to endure is another good reason to get on with the Independence Days Challenge activities. At least the activities force you to learn new skills (i.e., how to grow food and preserve it), to plan ahead, to stock up, and the like.

If we all participated in the Independence Days Challenge, the increased reliance on locally produced food (and other things) might mitigate climate change in some small way. At least we won’t be using oil to ship meat to China, for processing, and then back again. Maybe the Independence Days Challenge can give us some hope of surviving the future.

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