Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Numbers Are In

~The road into Fall~

AND THE TALLIES ARE IN!!! Well, kind of anyway. The main garden is pretty much done for the year. The chickens are in there now, noshing on any leftovers (not-yet-ripes, not worth picking, and rottens) they find, tilling things up for us and fertilizing for next Spring while they go. We just ordered garlic for Fall planting, have onions growing still, and have potatoes still waiting to be harvested out of that garden. So ... the tallies are in .. kind of.

Before I tell you how it came out, I'll let you know something new we did this year. Not only did we really make an effort to weigh things, we tried to take note (I say try, as we weren't always successfull) of how much comparable items would've cost us had we bought them at the store or Co-op. This got to be a little tricky sometimes. We are growing heirloom, organic foods. Finding prices for heirloom, organic foods isn't always possible. So we did our best.

Here are the Tallies:
*Tomatoes - 187lbs 12.1oz - prices really varied here, so we picked a mid-way price of $2.82 a pound pound = $529.46
*Bell Peppers - 7lbs 11.4oz - these are priced by quantity, not weight, we had 34, and again prices varied, so we went mid-way @ $2ea. = $68
*"Hungarian Sweet" Banana Peppers - 8lbs 6.4oz - @ $3.29 a pound, non-organic = $27.31
*"Anaheim" Peppers - 11lbs 8oz - @ $2.99 a pound, non-organic = $34.39
*"Charleston Grey" Watermelons - 21lbs 5.6oz (this was only 3 melons, and one was pretty darn small!) - @ $3.99 each (this price is from the Co-Op) = $11.97
*Cherries - 3lbs 8oz - @ $5.99 a pound, non-organic = $22.76
*Beans - 13lbs 8oz - these are a blend of the following: Mitla, Boston Favorite, Charlevioux, Hidatsa, and Roma II - again, a mid-way price of $2.50 a pound = $33.75
*Zucchini - 8lbs 5oz - @ $1.79 a pound, organic from Kroger = $14.86
*Oregano - 3lbs 4oz - ok, this is cool .. a 1/2oz jar of organic oregano from Kroger is $3.99 - at that rate, it's $127.68 a POUND = $434.11 .. AND, we could've harvested TRIPLE that amount, EASILY!!!!!

These are the things we remembered to check price on. So .. you wanna know how much total it would've cost to buy all of this stuff???

$1632.75 ... WOW!!!!!!!

Ooh, but let's not forget costs to grow this all. Ok, well we didn't pay for seeds this year because we saved seeds in previous years and took advantage of the Earth Day Seed Swap. We paid $30 for a bale of hay. We paid roughly $49 for some new canning jars. We did buy some plants. So, let's round the total spent up to $80. Ok, well subtract that from the above total. That brings us down to $1552.75. I'm still sitting here typing with my jaw on the floor.

Something else. From what we've canned so far we've already "saved" well over $100 if not a lot higher than that. So far I've already canned Spaghetti Sauce, Tomato Sauce/Soup, Ketchup, BBQ Relish, and the Strawberry Jam from early Spring (even if we did buy those strawberries from a U-Pick Farm). Not too shabby.

And, anyone who gripes about the similarity of this post to the one from the end of August .. well 1)get over it, and 2)props to you for actually noticing. Thank you, I'm flattered!! Don't worry, I won't be doing this every month. ;)

Also - before you think I forgot. Egg Tally for September was 68. Definitely down. We also had to deal with another "break-in" from the dogs, which left LadyBird badly wounded. This happened yesterday. She spent last night in the coop by herself, and this evening we put her back in the tractor. The wound was looking ok, and it was kinda hard to see. It's a good thing she is Queen on the Totem Pole, as she did get pecked by Patti. LadyBird seemed pretty pissed off about that and pecked her right back. She also pecked at either Easter or Bunny when they nosed near her. By dark they were all huddling into the nest box together. We wanted to put her back in with them since temperatures were supposed to drop down into the low 40's tonight. Keep your fingers crossed that "the Queen" will hold onto her title and be ok. Stupid dog.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Way Things Are

~The Farmer and the Pig regarded each other~

As a general rule, we try to limit tv watching, but some mornings are lazy mornings and perfect for a movie. This was one of those mornings. We watched "Babe" ~ the boys first time seeing it.
I've seen the movie before, in fact I used to have a copy on VHS. I've loved it since it first came out and if I could, I would love to live on Hoggett Farm. I really loved the character of Arthur Hoggett, and find it no surprise now that I see similar traits between him & Justin. Men of few words, kind souls, hard workers.
Watching it today with the boys, particularly Shannon (as Tristan paid little heed to it) was different though.
We always strive to be honest with them. Honest about the way things are. Which is odd to a point, as we're living lives in a way we didn't grow up with, and are raising our children differently from how we were raised. In other words, neither of us were raised with parents who were urban homesteaders or anything close to that really. My mother baked when I was younger and Justin grew up with the occasional garden out back, but that is about it. Back-to-the-Earth folks our parents were not.
So it was interesting to me to watch this movie again as a parent, with my child. To stop the movie from the beginning to explain about, to point out, factory farming, and the difference between the factory farm and the Hoggett Farm.
To pause it to explain why Farmer & Mrs. Hoggett are trying to fatten Babe up. What the rules of the farm are. How all creatures have their role, and that some of those roles will eventually land them on our plates.
It is strange to find yourself saying how it is better to kill something you raised on your own rather than to support factory farming, because you've allowed that animal to live a natural and happy life.
It shouldn't be strange, but it was a little. Perhaps it is because we didn't grow up on farms, or anything close to that. Perhaps it is because we're still starting out on our paths as urban homesteaders and don't have a farm of our own. Of course, we get our meat from a local farm, the kids go with us and have seen the pigs alive, and know when we pick up pork that we're picking up those pigs. We've processed our own chickens, ones we've raised. So, I am not certain why it feels strange.
Shannon wasn't phased by the talks we had during the movie. We talked more about it afterwards. It impresses me how well children can handle things like that. It reminds me of something Joel Salatin said about people coming out to Polyface Farm. How the children will help slaughter an animal while their parents cower in their hybrids listening to NPR.
James Cromwell, who plays Farmer Hoggett, was a long-time vegetarian when the movie was made. After making it, he became a vegan. With everything I've seen and learned, I am not persuaded to become either (though I don't put down people who are). I am more determined than ever to support local, to not support factory and industrial farming practices. When we went out to meet family for a bite to eat this afternoon, I didn't eat. I know the food from the place where we went isn't local, organic, or pasture-raised. I couldn't eat it knowing what I know. I saw the burger and saw cows crammed together on concrete lots, force fed, dragged. The smell of eggs made me think of caged hens. Even the cheese made me think of cows pumped full of hormones, hooked up to mechanical milkers, udders swollen and raw.
So as strange as it may have been for me, I stand by it. I know the importance of it. I can only hope my children will see it one day as well. That, when they learn the way things are, they will learn the way things ought to be and what they can do to help make sure they are.
That'll do.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Chickens, Lazy Gardening, & Silly Dog

This year we tried a new method of gardening. We've been following Ruth Stout's "No Work," deep mulching method of gardening. It's had it's ups and downs. Now we're into fall. To take down the dying plants and to fertilize the garden we've moved the chickens into the garden.

~Happy Chickens~

Here are the chickens, moved to a new spot in the garden. I know it is hard to see through the reflection of the wire, but the chickens are delighting in the tromped-down old tomato plants. Needless to say, they were beyond happy!!

~The "old spot"~

This is where the chickens were. We moved them there on September 15th and then moved them to the "new spot" on the 21st. As you can see, this has given them some time to really have fun with the area. We spread their feed directly on the ground, encouraging them to scratch it up more, and we also gave them treats. See the watermelon rind?

~The "old spot," the "new spot," and the greenery of the garden as we enter Fall in general~

After we move the chickens, we will lay down a layer of newspapers and mulch. Ruth Stout recommends using spoiled hay. We did that but we had two issues with it: 1)it sprouts and since we're not in the country, spoiled hay doesn't come free; 2)our pain-in-the-butt of a neighbor repeatedly called and complained to the City about it. "Looks like a milk farm over there," & "it looks primitive" ~ I really don't care what she thinks, but having to buy the spoiled hay, get it moved to the garden (or near the garden), and then buying more before it sprouts into grass IS kind of a pain. So, for now, we use wood chips thanks to Paul Bunyan Tree Service ( - they have their own wood chipper and have to pay to dispose of the wood chips, so they offer them to the community for free. Recycling at it's best!

~This the wood chip pile. It is from their "small" truck too!~

~The "old spot" now covered with a thick layer of newspaper and then mulch~

~Silly Dog~

No sooner had we finished mulching the "old spot" and getting it all nice and perrtty for Fall, than the dogs happened. This tends to happen when you have dogs, and we have Jomo. If you look at the right of the photo, on the wood, you can see where they chewed at it last night. Tonight, Justin was taking out the compost and he noticed that the dogs weren't anywhere around. He began calling for them and noticed that Whiskey, our Chocolate Lab, inside the garden & he figured Jomo was probably in there somewhere. He went over there and found him inside the coop, standing up, looking out towards Justin. Jomo realized he was in trouble and laid down. It took Justin over 15 minutes to get him out of the tractor.
Luckily, none of the chickens seems to have been injured. Justin could tell where he had nosed at some of the chickens, LadyBird and AnnBancroft were a little wet looking and had ruffled feathers, and (as you can see in the photo) Patti & either Easter or Bunny were cowered together in the corner. No chickens hurt, just nosed at a little.
Oh, and the dogs pulled out a lot of the newspaper. So much for pretty. Neighbors, I'm sure, are NOT shocked.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Day

This morning I awoke early, roused out of sleep by an odd dream - one of those that you're not sure if they're real or not until you wake up. It wasn't real, but the cricket that was either inside our room or just outside the open window was. I think it was inside, and from the sound of it, it was the biggest cricket in the world. You know, loud enough to start your day off with a headache -- something that is truly unfair unless you're waking up with a hangover.
This was the start of my day. I knew today would be a busy one. We've been lucky enough to qualify to have the house "weatherized" for free and we had guys coming to replace the wiring, in the attic, for all the lights in the house AND we had another guy coming to service the boiler heater and check out the hot water heater!! WOO HOO!! However, they were both set to arrive around 8:30am. So, no shower for me this morning ~ it's ok, I got a good one yesterday.
The kids come in our room every morning and this morning Tristan was having one of those whiny-3-year-old mornings. Grumbling on my part, but nothing really unusual there. Time to get dressed: Shannon dresses himself and goes to get the kitchen ready (this I do LOVE!!), as I'm working on getting Tristan dressed he decides he needs to use the potty. We're in the middle of potty training & toilet demands come at odd times and places. OK. Today he decides he's quite manly and will stand to pee. Instead of the toilet he pees on the plunger and floor. He then decides to sit. Knowing it will be a while till he decides he is done, and that the clock is counting down till men show up, I go ahead and feed the dogs.
Tristan's done, dogs are fed, kids get fed. Mom cleans up pee from toilet floor & plunger.
Floyd, the furnace guy, calls. Can he park in the driveway? Sure, I run out to move the Jeep onto the road. We talk and I realize he'll be needing in & out access to the basement, which requires walking in and out of the backyard to his truck in the driveway. Which means the dogs can't stay in the backyard. Hmmmmm ... where to put the dogs??
Can't have them loose in the house. Can't put them in the dining room. Can't put them in the music room (where Tristan naps) or the boys' room (where Shannon naps). Only one room will work - our bedroom. I do a quick pick-up of anything that might appear edible to confused dogs and toss a blanket across the bed in case Whiskey decides to make herself at home, or in case Jomo (who weighs close to 80lbs and is more than big enough to jump onto the bed) figures out he CAN jump up onto the bed. Currently, this is something he doesn't know. Dogs go into the bedroom, door is shut tightly.
The guys who are going to work in the attic call. They're lost. Where is our house?? I ask them if they're sure they're on the right street, as our street changes names every time it crosses a road. Oh yes, they're on our street. So I tell them what to look for. Seriously, you can NOT miss our house. Sore thumb ya know? They call back a few minutes later. Can I go stand out front? Sure. I tell them I'm wearing a tie-dye. This I have to repeat. Apparently there are a lot of women standing in front of blue houses with white columns wearing tie-dyes at 8:45 in the morning. They finally arrive a good 5 minutes or so later. The younger guy sheepishly admits they were on the wrong road. "Yes, I know you were" I think to myself, but tell them it happens all the time.
It is now that I realize that they need the FRONT door open so that they may access their van. Hmmmm .. what to do with little kids??? Can't put them in the bedroom. This sounds familiar. I grab the baby gate and barricade the kids and myself to the living room and sunroom.
Ironically, all goes fairly smoothly. Floyd, the guy in the basement, finished first. Very sweet man. Tried to convert me, but he was at least sweet about it. Guess when you deal with furnaces all day Hell stays on your mind. After he left I put the dogs back outside. No damage done to bedroom, and they were happy to be out.
I fed the boys lunch, and put them down for naps. The guys in the attic needed to access the basement. OK. Armed with the baby gate, I block off the deck, barricading the dogs to the yard. I block the baby gate with two deck chairs. This kinda works. The dogs let the guy come up and get back inside before they knock everything down and get back up onto the deck. We repeat this procedure several more times, everytime he needs to go back to the basement to check the breaker box.
They're all done now, it is about 2pm. Just as they're leaving I realize the lights have gone out. I call them, they come back. Apparently the younger guy mixed up the wiring upstairs. I assure them that mixed up wiring upstairs is nothing new around here. :)
Up into the attic they go. Front door is open. Access is needed to the basement again. I block the dogs off once again. Now comes the fun part.
For those of you who don't know this, the door to our basement is a full-size door, but a trap door that lies in the floorway of our back hallway. You have to walk to the deck, turnaround, pull it open, latch it, then proceed down. There is MAYBE a 4" "ledge" of sorts that sticks out from the freezer and washer that you can tip-toe on if you want to get back inside the kitchen.
I'm in the living room when I hear it. Here she comes, barreling down the hallway, and before I can get to the front room, Whiskey is out the door, bounding across the street, and up the alley. Whiskey is our 9 1/2 year old Chocolate Lab who loves to socialize and was Houdini in a previous life.
She broke through the barricade and then did one of two things, either of which boggle the mind: 1) turned into a mountain goat and tip-toed along a very narrow ledge for the length of 7+ feet OR 2) turned into an Olympic worthy long jumper with big brass balls (she's spayed though .. and a female) and took a running leap over the big opening in the floor. Either way, she made her break and was gone.
Can't very well go look for her when you have workmen at the house and two little kids who are getting ready to be picked up by Grandpa in a few minutes (by the way - the kids are in time-out for fighting!), now can you?? I call Animal Control. Really, I am shocked that they don't just say "oh, she got loose again eh?" - maybe it's because we're not Canadian.
The guys finish up and leave. The kids leave. Grandpa promises to drive around and look for her with the kids. They do that for 20 minutes with no luck. Finally, I decide to go look too. I change the answering machine message, leaving my cell-phone number in case anyone calls with her.
I'm out and about and get the first call - the Paul Bunyan Tree Service guys have mulch for me, can I be home? Ok, sure, I'll head on back. Second call - we've got your dog. Luckily they're on our street, so it's a quick swing by. I park on the hill, pick her up, put her in the car and begin to walk around to the driver side, walking behind the car. It is at this point that I realize I'm parked on a steep hill, the dog has hopped into the driver seat, and I'm behind the car. I envision her accidentally knocking the parking break loose and the Jeep rolling back, flattening me. This doesn't happen. Oh well, bikini season is over anyway.
We get home, I park on the street again to allow the tree guy to dump the wood chip mulch in the driveway. But, I need to clean up the driveway some. So, I move the trash can to the side. Pick up some recently cut down debris, put that in another garbage can, and put is aside. Move the chair that had set out near the pool that is no longer up, and also the umbrella. Summer is over. Then I realize that the long board that Justin took out of the attic might be in the guy's way, so I start trying to push it to the edge of the driveway, rolling it over.
Suddenly, I feel a familiar sharp pain and I begin hollering "oh please no!" Thank you Justin for not telling me there were nails sticking through the board. And, in case anyone is curious, crocs do NOTHING to stop nails. Luckily, it barely broke the skin. A tetnus shot is not exactly the type of shot I was hoping to end the day with.
I hobble inside. I find myself standing in our big bathroom (after having put some hydrogen peroxide on it already), mastering a very impressive yoga pose as I spray some Bactine on it too. A little neosporin, a band-aid, and I'm (relatively) good to go. I hobble back to the end of the bathroom to put stuff away and, as I am wondering "why in the world is the floor so wet?" I manage to whack my head against a towel hook.
I hobble back to the other end of the bathroom, throw down towels, do the appropriate amount of cursing, and swear off that bathroom for a while.
The "tree guy" arrives and dumps the wood chips with only a slight heart attack from me when he catches on the overhead lines. One of those "nowhere to run," "I can't watch this," and "I think I'm going to faint" feelings - well, all rolled into one.

And that brings me up till now. I'm a little scared to move to be quite honest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day Of School -- actually, no

~This photo tickles me because his smile and pose remind me of a yearbook photo~

For many, many children around the country today is the first day of school. Some local schools started earlier, but Salem started today. If Shannon were attending public school, this would've been his very first day of school.
I don't know why I am a little sad today. I was awake when the school bus went by, and even though Shannon's friend, who also starts kindergarten today, wasn't on the bus (she's being driven) kids he knows are.
I didn't grow up being homeschooled and neither did Justin. We hadn't planned on homeschooling when Shannon was first born. It was a decision that formulated over time, with much thought and research being done first.
I remember my first day of school, or at least I remember photos from it. I remember I wore a white shirt and a little green skirt with pink pigs on it. My "backpack" was more like a messenger bag and looked like a Hershey bar (I wish I still had it!!). We had to take little mats to school with us for nap times. Do they even still do that for kids?
So, even though I know that we're on the right path for us, for some reason I am a little sad that I didn't get to see Shannon get on the bus for the first time today. Rationally I know that this is one of those silly, "mom things" that we moms get all choked up and teary-eyed about, but here I am teary-eyed anyway.

Instead of getting on the bus this morning, Shannon was laying on my bed with Tristan and me when it passed by the house. Instead of napping (if they still do that) on a little mat, he's in his room for "nap time". Instead of sitting at a desk today, he's been playing with toys.
Lessons learned so far today: what is bbq and where does it come from?, what happens when you don't obey (they've been grounded this morning), how to tell time (a continual process of learning - the reward usually being when he can get back up), just because someone is smaller than you doesn't mean they can't swing a toy hard enough to hurt you (hey look - I think there is a physics lesson in that one somewhere!!), that Summer doesn't end the day after Labor Day, you can take different paths than your friends and that doesn't need to effect your friendship in anyway.
Instead of homework this evening, we will be preparing for a picnic dinner at a local park, along the river. We will practice reading, as we do every night, with books from the library - a constant, fresh stream of them! Writing lessons come in the form of eagerly anticipated penpal letters to a new friend in Israel. Bedtimes haven't changed due to new schedules. No new clothes were needed.
Of course, there are some things I would feel remiss if I didn't mention: 1)We don't think of school as something that really has a start and end. I suppose that is why we unschool. We know that our children have been learning since the day they were born and believe that they will continue to learn till the day they die, as we all will. 2)We started Shannon out on "kindergarten" lessons well over a year ago. He does like doing workbook things from time to time. If he were truly placed in public school based on the things he knows, I doubt he would be starting in kindergartent today. 3)Murphy's Law NEVER fails. If Shannon had gotten on the bus and gone to school this morning it would've been with very dark bruises underneath his lower lip, starting at the corners and going down. I have no clue how he got these, nor does he. I checked his teeth and gums and all was good. But still, he would've gone to school black & blue. AND, since I REALLY know Murphy's Law NEVER fails .. he probably would've let fly how he got to drink Daddy's beer yesterday ("what did you do yesterday for Labor Day?" "I drank beer!")! Of course, he only got to try a little sip (though I will admit the turkey tried to take more than that) -- we're not bad parents, please unwad your panties. A SIP folks, monitored, glass held by parents. But Shannon is 5 1/2 and that is not how it would've come out.
Ahh .. the reasons why, and the glories of unschooling. I'll try to not cry anymore about any experience he may have missed by not being on the school bus this morning, I promise.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August Tallies & Some Math Too!

~While I realize this isn't your typical "harvest" photo, I found it rather appropriate. Yes, those photos of counters full of vegetables are fantastic - but I think this photo captures something more important: Soul-Smile. It's a feeling you get when you harvest food you've raised or grown. It is fantastic. It pleases me to no end to see it in my child.

August is over and September has arrived with a very Fall feeling. The mornings are chilly and some days you can even wear jeans quite comfortably for the day. In a house with no AC, that is saying something!
August definitely was our biggest harvest month. Previously we'd had a year to date tally of 20+ pounds at the end of June and then 27 pounds just for the month of July. August found us having 20+ pounds everytime we went out to the garden!! I am especially grateful for the cooler temperatures now because our freezer is so full it won't hold much more, meaning it is canning time.

For the 2009 Tallies:

Eggs: August - 81 (they did NOT like the weather!) ~ Year to Date - 753
Food: August - 181 POUNDS 1 oz ~ Year to Date - 236 pounds 7.5 oz

First off - read that again -- ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY ONE POUNDS!!! WOW!! My mind is still trying to wrap around that!!!!

Now, for some cool math:

1) If we were buying eggs we would pay $3 per dozen. 753 eggs equals 62.75 dozen eggs - which means we would've spent $188.25 so far this year on eggs. Instead, we've spent (roughly) $81 on feed. I say roughly because the price of feed fluctuates and I honestly don't know how many bags we've bought. Oh, let's not forget hay - throw another $24 on. That brings us up to $105. Still saving some serious money and we're blessed with enough eggs that we've been able to share with friends and family. Strengthening bonds and building community = priceless. (Sorry, Mastercard commercials have succeeded in their brainwashing!)

2) The spaghetti sauce we buy from the store is $3.19 for a 24oz jar. On August 23rd I canned 10 quart jars, 1 pint jar, and 1 24oz jar of spaghetti sauce. Doing the math - $3.19 for 24 oz = almost 14 cents an ounce. I'm going with 14 cents because I would also have to pay sales tax. To buy the amount of sauce that I canned would've cost us $49.11!!

3) To buy a 1/2oz jar of organic oregano at Kroger costs $3.99. This year I harvested 3lbs 4oz. Actually, I could've harvested easily three times that much, but to be honest, I was sick of it and that amount was enough. Now, I have to note here, I weighed it with the stems still on there, so the truth and accuracy of this weight and the costs might be faulty, but it is what I've got to work with so I am. Ok - $3.99 for 1/2oz comes out to $127.68 per pound. 3 lbs 4 oz roughly = $434.11!!! FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS for Oregano!!!Here are the rest of what I added up, based on costs of the products

4) Here are the other numbers I've come up with based on cost from Kroger:

*Cherries - $5.99lb @ Kroger - we harvested 3lbs 8oz = $22.76
*Hungarian Sweet Banana Peppers - (just banana peppers) $3.29 lb - we harvested 5 lbs 11.2oz = $18.92 (also note - our were organic & heirloom the ones at Kroger were neither)
*Anaheim Peppers - $2.99 @ Kroger (again, not organic) - we harvested 6lbs 3oz = $18.53
*Zucchini - $1.79 @ Kroger (organic zucchini) - we harvested 8 lbs 5oz = $14.86
*Bell Peppers - $1.50 non-organic & $2.99 organic @ Kroger for Red Bell Peppers, this price is PER PEPPER! - we harvested 18 Bell Peppers, all organically grown of course = (@ $2.99 each) $53.82
*Tomatoes - pricing this one was a little tricky, as there weren't any organics to compare with & to be honest I likely would've bought in season from the Farmer's Market, but here is what I got -> between $1.65lb & $3.99lb - I split the difference and went with $2.82lb - we harvested 161lbs 10.7 oz = (roughly) $456.14!!!

ADD IT ALL UP == $773.28!! That's a savings of over $96 a month from January through the end of August!

It even gets better too! There were several things I DIDN'T do the cost comparison on: greens, herbs, Roma beans, black "Mitla" beans, red "Hidatsa" beans, "Boston Favorite" baked beans, yellow squash, and potatoes. ALSO - it's not all done yet!!!

Anyone who thinks gardening and growing your own isn't worth it couldn't be further from the truth. True, we spent around $10 on buying a couple of the plants, and we spent $30 on spoiled hay to use as mulch. We didn't have to buy seeds this year because we either had ones that we saved/didn't use from previous years or we got seeds from the Earth Day Seed Swap. We did spend $8 on some new canning jars, and I might still have to buy some more, we'll see. The math can not be done on the health value of growing our own. We tend to give away jars of canned items as gifts too, so there are some future $$ savings. And, since we did deep mulch (and have had a fairly rainy summer), we only watered the garden FOUR times this year.
If you can't tell, I'm bearing a huge Soul Smile right now. :)