WTF?

Apparently if you want to pay cash for anything at a military surplus store in Colorado, you could be reported as a terrorist.  Also, if you buy something there and have a different use for it (re-purposing or otherwise) you may be a terrorist.  Or if you buy in bulk ammo cans or MRE’s, you may be suspicious activity.

Remind me to not to buy surplus in Colorado ever again.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not a rose garden all the time…

That was too long of a break.  I figured that instead of doing this blog by the seat of my pants, I would put some thought into these posts so that the most can be gained from anyone who reads this.

So, back to where we left off, way back in May.  Memorial Day I was finally able to put in my garden.  I was not able to plant until the garden was roto-tilled since this is a community garden.  The day the garden was tilled, the skies opened up nearly every other day and two-thirds of an inch of rain on one day!  It was beginning to look that I wasn’t going to plant until June.  We finally caught a break Memorial Day weekend and I spent five hours breaking up the clods, leveling the plot, seeding, planting and watering.  The result was a near religious experience.  I knew that it was good.

Here was the final tally of what was planted (Each row is 10′):

  • 1 row of mesculin lettuce
  • 1 row of spinach
  • 2 row of beans
  • 4 rows of peas
  • 2 half rows of carrots
  • 1 half row of white onions
  • 1 half row of red onions
  • 1 row of garlic
  • 10 pepper plants
  • 8 eggplants
  • 6 tomato plants
  • 1 cherry tomato plant

Yes, that is all contained in a 10′ x 20′ plot.  The peas were planted in rows 6 inches apart.  I knew that was close and is my experiment of the garden (that is what inexperienced gardeners will call it).  I cannot walk straight to the back of the garden, I had to know where the pea rows were and side step my way to the lettuce.

Once everything sprouted (except the spinach, which never showed up.  GRRR!) reseeded the gaps and thought that the work was done.  Little did I know that for the next month I would be locked in mortal combat with other unwelcomed plants that sent wave after wave to invade my garden.  The only collateral damage so far has been an eggplant.  Not bad in my opinion.  It was not so bad at first, until we went nearly three weeks without rain.  Holy cow can those weeds hold on for dear life in hard, dry soil.  Many afternoons have been spent with little progress, but progress has been made.  I am sure there is a slick little tool out there that will help immensely, but I am going to do this myself with the help of only my little hoe.

Now here I find myself, a week after the 4th of July, and the garden has rewarded me for my toils.  The peas, beans and tomatoes are in full bloom, six peppers are growing with one already ripening and many more blooms, and everything else is doing very well.  Within days I should have my first lettuce crop.  But not everything I have done been all roses.  The experiment I mentioned is a near failure as the peas have latched on to each other to create a viney dome and anything underneath, be it pea leaf or weed leaf has died off..  I have now made a makeshift trellis for the peas to climb.

There have been more lessons taught in the garden than just botany.  Psychology, meteorology, pedology, etymology, and economics all have had lessons for me while I was in the garden.  Who knew you could be a college education from $30 worth of seeds?  I will explain more in future posts.

Until then, I hope your garden is going as well as mine, though I hope you do no have to lug around full 5 gallon buckets in order to water yours.

~J, the freedomtrekker

Posted in Garden, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

To market, to market.

Saturday marked the beginning of the farmers’ market season here in Waukesha.  This season was a particularly special one due to the fact that I was giddy for it to start.  I was actually counting down the days to it.  This was new to me and I knew I felt this way genuinely but I did not understand fully the reasoning for it.  So, over the course of a few days, I mentally made note of my reasons to get excited and participate in the farmers’ market.

  • You buy directly from the producer.  This one of the best and simplest ways to know what you are eating and what may or, more importantly, what is not in your food.  This gives you superior control over your diet.  Before you buy you can ask about the product and get the inside scoop on how it was made/grown.
  • You are supporting the local economy.  Traditional farmers only get $0.19 per dollar of sold product where as the farmers’ market vendor get a much higher amount due to the fact there are not middle men. Not only do people spend at the market, this generally translates into people spending in the adjacent local shops which contribute to a robust city/town/village economy.
  • You are getting a better deal.  Most items at the market cost much less due to the fact there are no middle men or processors to pay.  Most vendors are located within 30 miles of the market which means fuel prices will not affect food prices at the market much.  There is also next to no packaging needed for transport which not only would affect cost, but also reduces waste, which is not a bad thing either.

There are other reasons for regularly going to the farmers’ market such as creating a connection with the community and having a link between the suburban/ urban and the rural people that are worth considering, but then this post would be huge.

For those of us that cannot produce all of the food our families need, the farmers’ market is the next best place, in my opinion.  It is another option for those who are looking to take control of another aspect of their life.

Posted in Break the System, Food | Leave a comment

If you are on the fence…or on the other side for that matter

If you feel that what you read here sounds a bit crazy and a bit on the fringe, you are not alone.  Many people will read what has been and what will be posted on here and dismiss it as the ramblings of a guy wearing a tin foil hat.  For those people I invite you to listen to a podcast that can say it better than I can with my limited abilities.  The Survival Podcast by Jack Spirko was the outlet that convinced me that I needed to do something in order to have more security and freedom in my life.  The following is from a recent podcast directed to any critics.

The Why of Preparedness

Hopefully this may give you a different perspective.

-J, the freedomtrekker

Posted in self-sufficiency | Leave a comment

Are you storing food yet?

Coffee Price Index (Past Year)

Food prices have been rising steadily with oil prices going up. and the combination of the two is not a good sign for a still shaky world economy.  Global inflation has started to kick into high gear as well.  Couple that will the fact that we will reach 7 billion people by the end of the year and the picture starts to become clear.

Wheat Price Index (Past Year)

Food prices that have been on the rise, will remain on the rise.  That, in turn, means that if you are in lower income brackets, that much less is available to you for other necessaries in life like rent/mortgage.  This type of pressure was a contributing factor to the recent political unrest in the Middle East and is likely to spread to other, seemingly stable, countries.  This in turn could drive oil prices further and that will increase food prices more.  As you can see, the potential is there for this situation to get worse very fast.

While the United States is not at the point of political upheaval due to food prices, the added pinch to the wallet will be felt by all Americans.  While that pinch is not much, a pinch from a different source would be much worse.  The American food system is supplied utilizing a “just in time” infrastructure.    Simply put, in order to maximize profit, delivery of products are fine tuned to that product being sold, so sellers do not have any type of stock in the store.  While this is great for everyone on the supply side, consumers get the raw end when disruption occurs.  As has been seen over and over again on the news, any disaster, or even impending disaster, there is no food to buy.  If this were to happen on a widespread level, the devastation would be far reaching.

Many people are just not ready for this scenario, but preparation is easy to do.  In order to do it right though, a few rules need when making a plan for food storage:

  • Store what you eat.  Storing food does not mean going out and buying 50 lbs of rice and thinking they will be okay.  That may be fine and dandy if you like rice, but could you live on just that for days or weeks?  I know I couldn’t.  If you have that huge sack of rice and a little bit goes bad, the whole bag may need to be thrown out.  Besides, if you need that food to would be nice to mix it up for dinner, which will help moral in a disaster situation
  • Eat what you store.  Even the most tightly sealed container has a shelf life.  Just because you have all the food you may need for a month or two, does not mean all that food will be good if left untouched.  The best way to make sure your stored food will be good when you need it is to rotate it out by eating it.  This ties in with the first rule very well because if you store what you eat, you will eat it at some time and will need to replenish that stock.
  • Buy more when items are on sale, this makes sense for any grocery buyer. In the long haul, buying more at a lower price is an actual investment in that you are offsetting the extra cost of buying food at a higher price later by buying more now.  Buying leftover stocks from the farmers market at the end of the growing season is an excellent way to get a ton of vegetables at a very low price.

The first question that would be on anybody’s mind when they want to start storing food is, “How much is enough?”  There are calculators out there but none are tailored to an individual family.  There will be guesses that you will need to make.  Also, it is better to store enough food in increments instead of going for the gusto of a full year.  I have only just started storing food and I probably have enough to make it through a few weeks and am close to my goal on one month.  From there I am going to go to three months and then in three month increments afterwards.  I hope that this will kick into a higher gear in a couple weeks when the farmers market starts up and I can dehydrate, freeze and can my way to a fully stocked larder.  Hopefully you can too before food prices get out of hand.

-J, the freedomtrekker

Posted in Food, self-sufficiency | Leave a comment

First year garden…For real this time.

My parents have had a garden for as long as I can remember.  It started small (20′ x 20′) and over the years it slowly grew to three plots.  There is the main garden that mainly has the bush crops (Beans, peas, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc).  The second has the pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers and a second crop of beans and peas.  The third is much smaller, but is strictly asparagus.  These combined have produced more food that we could eat, and so canning and freezing were necessary to keep them from rotting.  I never really participated in any of these, didn’t learn anything bout them and even hated it when Mom and Dad would force us to pick weeds.

After moving into the condo I now live in, I realized how big a part the garden played in putting healthy food on the table and cutting costs as well.  So, the first thing I set out to do was grow some simple things:  peas and radishes.  Both are easy to grow in any soil.  The only thing I did not count on was the fact that the patio is nearly shaded completely by the nearby maple tree.  The plants would grow as fast as they could to reach the light, fall over from lack of a strong stem, and die.  Dang it!  No vegetables can be grown with only 1-2 hrs of sunlight (if I am wrong let me know in the comments).

While we did find some things that grow well out in the patio (herbs), I was soundly defeated in my first garden.

Not this year.

I was able to secure a 10′ x 20′ plot at the local community garden that is only a couple blocks away.  I walk past it nearly every day while walking the dog which will give me no excuse to not check in on it.  The only thing is, with that much space, what do I plant?  When do I plant to produce the highest yield?  If I succeed, where are all of my crops going to be stored?  The only answer I had for any of these was, “That’s a good question.”  Lots of research will be needed.

I have gotten a good start thanks to the UW-Extension and the master gardener that is part of the community garden.  She gave us guide to planting specifically for southeast Wisconsin.  Master Gardeners are a wealth of knowledge and hopefully I will post more about what she teaches me and the growing season goes on.

Another excellent place to get advice for the new gardener is Mother Earth News.  There are a slew of articles about gardening and plenty for the newbie.  They also have a garden planner that functions like a CAD program to help layout your garden.  It will also link up with seed producers local to your area to get the exact seeds you need and are conditioned for your area.  It is free for 30 days and $25 per year afterwards.  A perfect tool for those not sure of how many seeds to get or how to layout a garden properly.

Within the next couple days I should have my seeds ordered so that they will arrive by the time the garden is tilled (May 14th at the latest) and then my gardening adventure will begin.  I will post as I go along about what does and what does not work.  Hopefully there will not be too much that does not work.

-J, the freedomtrekker

Posted in Garden | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What is this place?

What this site is about:

  • One person’s path to financial freedom
  • Living simply while living a more satisfying life
  • Realizing that you are not the only person trying to live the better life
  • Awareness to the forces in the world that do try to keep you unaware
  • Another voice trying to get people to wake up as I did.
  • Being prepared
  • Becoming a producer rather than a consumer

This is not a complete list, and things will be added and deleted as I have a better understanding of personal freedom and liberty.  While I will never claim to be an expert, I do know of places to direct you if you have questions.

Comments are always welcome and questions directed to me will be answered here so that we all can learn together.

Email me at freedomtrek@gmail.com with any questions or comments that you do not want posted here.

-J, the freedomtrekker

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Debt is not a friend

A few months ago, I woke up.  I woke up to the many things wrong in my life.  Here is one of them.  Part 1 of a series.

I had been living the dream.  I had graduated from a four-year college with a degree in civil engineering, had a job lined up before graduating and a wonderful relationship with a women I knew would be my wife.  I became a contributing member of society and I wanted everything that it had to offer.  I used the first six months of my income to upgrade everything I owned from school and obtained a few toys in the process.  I was happy.  To be even happier I figured that I needed more.  And more I got.

However,  I always didn’t have the cash on hand for everything at the time of purchase.  So I got a credit card.  I paid  the card off every month, but this new found “wealth” I could do even more things.  I took my girlfriend out to nice dinners, bought her a lot of stuff, bought myself a lot of stuff.  The best part was that I didn’t need to pay the entire balance of the credit card at the end of the month.  I could push it off and pay that off in chunks, however the number of chunks needed to pay off the entire balance every month became larger and larger by the month. I never needed a budget.  I knew the balance in my checking account and of the credit cards, why would I need to write that down?

Fast forward three years, one marriage, one car loan and one mortgage later, I had three credit cards near their max.  Soon I found myself not able to do the things that I was used to.  I couldn’t.  The majority of my paycheck was going to my mortgage, utilities and the car, with its loan and regular maintenance.  There wasn’t the money available to pay the cards down anymore.  As much as I wanted to run away from my debt, it always was there in front of me.  I couldn’t move, I could feel it closing in on me.

That is when I woke up.  I realized that the life that I was living was no longer sustainable and if I continued, I would drown.  I decided that debt would no longer rule my life.  I decided that I could live my live without even the need for debt.

I now have a budget that allows me to see where every penny is going and a debt payment plan that will allow me to pay off my my student loan, car loan, and credit cards by 2013 and my mortgage by 2018 (20 years sooner).  With this plan, money is tight at times, but I will save almost $60,000(!) in interest.  I did have to sacrifice some of the “toys” that I had, but I do not miss any of them with some I forget sometimes I even had (i.e. Nintendo Wii).

The realization that I cam to was that happiness cannot be found in things.  It is found in the experiences you have and in the friends and family that will always be there for you.

-J, the freedomtrekker

Posted in Debt Freedom | Tagged , , | 1 Comment