Bottle Drop

Hey Everyone!

If you live here in the US, your pop (soda) cans & bottles have bottle deposits listed on them for some states.

Here in Oregon, we are one of the states that has bottle deposits that we have to pay on certain types of cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles. Our state has a $0.10 bottle deposit per bottle.

The bottles that have these bottle deposits on them are pop (soda/soda pop/coke) cans and bottles, beer cans and bottles, hard cider cans and bottles, Kombucha cans and bottles, single use water bottles, and that kind of thing.

From the time the bottle deposits were started until more recently (like the last year or two) many of the grocery stores had and have bottle return areas. Over time, many of them became quite dirty, smelly and gross. Quite often, when the machines were working you had to contend with street people who collected cans for the money. Returning cans and bottles has always been a less than desirable task. At least in the part of the city I am from, as well as the other nice areas, a lot of people put their cans and bottles out in the regular recycling, because the 5 or 10 cents wasn’t/ isn’t a big deal to them. Up until the last couple years we never really saw the amount of street people come through digging through people’s recycling the night before and early morning of Garbage day. Now it’s crazy. It makes me a bit unsettled, because they are out quite often at the same time I have to leave for work, which is before the sun is up and most people are awake (before 4:30 in the morning). While I know most would leave me alone, it’s hard to tell who would give me issues and who wouldn’t, so it’s unsettling. There was one instance that made me become almost hyper vigilant, on Monday mornings (garbage day on the other side of the road just up from my house) and Friday Mornings (our garbage day). There was one of these people standing in the corner just up from where I live, with his bike leaned against the stop sign, staring at me. I walked to my car fast and got in, and locked my doors. While it did work out OK, it just unnerved me a lot, and made me feel even less safe here than I already did.

That brings me to what I started this post about to begin with. Within the last two or three years, we have had several bottle drop / redemption locations open up here in the city. All the major cities here in Oregon have at least one. Outside of the Portland Metro area, they can be found in at least: Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Roseburg, Medford, Klamath Falls, Bend and Hermiston. These are the ones that I know of.

I know at one point they were talking about closing down the individual grocery store self serve bottle machines (the dirty, nasty gross ones, where you have to deal with the homeless street people), and just having the bottle redemption centers, but that has yet to fully materialize.

I finally bit the bullet after the new year and set up a bottle drop account, and went in, got my card and bags. I was surprised to see that they also have self serve machines, which is nice to see. These centers are also kept surprisingly clean. Much cleaner than I have ever seen the ones at the grocery stores here in Portland, the one at the grocery store I went to, in the small town I lived in while in college was kept way cleaner. Though that small town didn’t have the homeless / street people problems that the bigger cities do.

Over the last month, I finally filled my first green bottle drop bag, with cider bottles I have been collecting over the past year or so, as well as pop cans, and San Pellegrino cans from last year. I finally had enough to fill a bag, and took it in.

Since I am still learning the process there was a fair amount to figure out, but I got it figured out, and I am set for a bit. The whole green bag system, definitely does make it easier in the long run. Boxes of bags have 10 bags, and cost $2.00 per box that is debited to your account, and each bag costs $0.40 to process, which is also debited from your account. There is also a limit of 15 full green bags that you can take back during a 90 day period, which isn’t really an issue for someone like me, and my family. There is also a daily amount you can take back through the self service, which is like 350 or 360 cans or bottles per day. Though the daily self services amount rules have been in place pretty much since the bottle deposit / returns have been in existence, or at least as long as I can remember so that is nothing new. While there are some other rules for the bottle drops, as far as how much, how often and frequency within that time period, exist and are available on their website, it is pretty reasonable for the average person.

Getting everything figured out in the beginning and the idea of everything you have to do to get started with the program was a little bit like “is it really worth it?” But now that I have gotten my account set up, gotten my first roll of bags and gone through the process of taking my first bag back, it’s not that difficult or daunting.

I wanted to get things set up an squared away while I still have a bottle drop like 10 minutes from my house. I know I am going to be moving away at some point, and unless I move out of state, I wanted at least this to be taken care of, so all I have to do is update my address and stuff in the system. Depending on where I end up moving in Oregon, I would be making fewer trips to a town or city that has a bottle drop, and now I am at a point where I have everything thing I need to make it so that I would only have to go to one of these towns every few months (which I would be doing anyway, to go do some stock up shopping).

Here in Oregon, the cost to have the bottle drop place process the green bags, is the same as the refund value of 4 cans or bottle, and if you figure the cost of a box of bags divided by the number of bags, is the same as two cans or bottles per bag, you are really only giving them or “losing” 6 cans or bottles per bag, which isn’t bad. I’d just as soon pay the $0.60 total per bag, and save myself the time and hassle of the serve and having them do it. About the only time it’s not quite as cost effective is if you have more 2 liter bottles than anything else (as they take up more room than the average 12 – 20 ounce cans and bottles). When you can fit more than 50 cans and bottles in a bag, it’s totally worth it to not do it yourself, especially when you can drop it off as part of running errands, and you still get most of your money back.

Wasting Food and Money Saving Apps

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Over the years, seeing how much food, we, in the industrialized world waste, is very disheartening. It is disheartening, because there are children in this country who don’t have enough to eat. It is also a waste of money, and other resources.

I work in a retail store where we have a food department, that we call “Gourmet”, and I have seen so much product from that department expire and have to be thrown out because it’s past is best by / sell by date. While there are some cases when the food looks like it’s gone bad (primarily the chorizo and some other packaged meats), or it’s something that is better left unchanced, so yeah, write that off and toss it. Other things, like in my case today, bags of whole bean coffee, that had best by dates of the 5th and 6th of this month, and are still completely sealed in their bags, they are still good.

Even though we couldn’t sell them to the customers, I was able to purchase a few, and my parents will use them up. I had sent a picture to my mom this morning of what I had pulled, as kind of a “the amount these are worth at retail value would cover two of my shifts” text, and she asked me if I could pick up a few at a discount. My manager said yes (we have special discount stickers for food that is getting close to their expiration, but I was allowed to use a few for these bags that were a few days past their best by dates). Due to being an employee (not the same liability as a regular customer), and the type of product it was (whole bean coffee still sealed in its bag), it was one of those, “at least it’s all not a loss” situations.

Over the last few years I have tried several money saving apps. Quite honestly, the ones that are beneficial for someone like me, are the store apps for the stores I frequent, like Safeway and Fred Meyer (Carr’s and Kroger in other parts of the country). I have tried fetch, drop, and Ibotta. While I still use Ibotta, I only really use it when I shop at where I work, since there is quite often a 2% back deal. When the day comes that I no longer work, where I work, 2% won’t be worth going shopping at where I currently work any more. I use it, because it’s 2% in addition / after the fact of getting my employee discount and any other percentage off sales that are going on in store. When I no longer have an employee discount, the likelihood that I would shop at any location of the company I work for, would likely go back to the way it was before I began working for the company, which was rarely. Having an employee discount, and on occasion a $10 shopper reward coupon (one of the two coupons we are allowed to use) as well as any in store non coupon based percentage off sale we could use too, has made it so I could pick up a few things in terms of decorations (especially Christmas and Easter decorations), at a reasonable price. Ok, I was talking about “money saving apps”, before I went off on my tangent. So, yeah, once I eventually find a different job, and leave the company I am with, the likelihood I will continue using Ibotta will be slim to none. While there are deals for places like Fred Meyer, most of them are for things I can’t or don’t use, with my food sensitivities and lifestyle. I had been using Ibotta, the first time, under an old phone number, and I had forgotten which one it was so I couldn’t remember my points once I had gotten enough. It had taken me over three years to get to that $20. I started a new ibotta, with my current phone number about six months ago. I am now almost to $15, and more than 95% of that is from shopping at work.

These apps may be great if you do a lot of shopping at the places they will let you earn point for shopping at, but for me, I don’t shop a lot at most of these places. If I do shop at some of these places, it’s not often enough to earn rewards through most of these apps. In addition to that, I really am trying to be more frugal, additionally, I eventually want to move someplace that doesn’t have a lot of these stores, and live a simpler, more frugal life.

I am still going through my closet, and trying to reduce the amount of clothes I have, since I still have a lot that I don’t wear, and I have my favorites that I wear way more than anything else. There are some things that I will be keeping that I don’t wear as often, as they are more for special occasions (or church clothes, and for weddings and funerals etc).

I am / have been doing some spending on myself during this season, since I am working some extra hours, I am still single, don’t have a family of my own to feed, and I am still living in the city. Besides my favorite tea, what I am ordering specifically for myself,bare for accessorizing the clothes I am keeping, and taking them from two half season outfits (late spring & early fall) and making them wearable for three seasons, by having warmer accessories for the cooler temps. Most of what I am picking up at work, are decorations for my future home, so while I am buying them because I like them, I hope they will help bring joy and festivity to my family and anyone who comes to visit.

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Muffins!!

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I have been wanting to be doing some more baking, and get back into Homemaking again. Beings that it is autumn, I have been wanting to make some Pumpkin Muffins.

These pumpkin muffins, are gluten free and vegan. While I am not vegan, I am dairy free, and have had issues with eggs, so when I make stuff for myself, I definitely need to avoid dairy and try to avoid eggs. I also try to limit the amount of gluten that I eat.

Over the last couple of years, I have been seriously considering what I am doing, and how it hasn’t been working out here for nearly a decade. I have also been contemplating what I am supposed to be doing with my life. When I realized I wasn’t supposed to be a teacher, I have never really had normal career aspirations, all i have wanted to do is be a wife and mother. I have wanted to cook, bake and can. The older I have gotten, the more my desires, interests, and lifestyle choices have changed. I realized long ago, that the city life is not for me.

The idea of being solely reliant on others for my food, and not knowing where all my food comes from. I prefer the idea of growing a garden, and raising / hunting / fishing my own meat, or get it from local sources where i know how it was raised. I also love being outdoors, working the earth, a slower pace of life. At this point, I don’t want to live completely off grid, but do want to live a more sustainable and self sufficient life. I am the kind of person who would rather be busy working hard, taking care of house and home, and family, and having less of a need for and time spent using modern technology like phones, and computers.

I love knitting and making hand knit items. So I am able to make some of my own clothing items.

I am definitely looking at moving someplace else, that is more conservative, and where the laws are more favorable for Homesteading, hunting, homeschooling, and more favorable to living a life where the government doesn’t listen to the vocal minority. Some of my issues with the big city life, it’s always on the go, it’s such a fast paced, consumer driven. The commute time, it takes 30 minutes to get to work at 4:30 in the morning, and 45 minutes to get home, and my job is 12 miles away. Crappy / completely inconsiderate / high sense of self entitlement (ie, its all about me, and I can do whatever I want, the rules don’t apply to me, neighbors be damned), and just plain rude neighbors can happen anywhere. In the city they are a stones throw away and living right on top of you, so between dealing with the revolving door of college kids in the party house catty corner to us (that has been such for over 20 years), the neighbor across the street is is the epitome of self absorbed/ it’s all about me / I’m better than anyone else Millennial across the street who runs his business illegally out of his home, not to mention paying over $6000 in property taxes… and having experienced small town life in a more rural area for myself, I have had enough of the city. While I was in college, I learned one of the biggest things I could have about myself, I am a small town / country girl, who needs elbow room and room to breathe. There is so much more to life than the rat race of the city. Sh*tty neighbors can happen anywhere, to me, when their house is more than just across the city street from you, you have more options for dealing with them that aren’t illegal, immoral and doesn’t actually physically hurt any living being.

When I was younger, I wouldn’t have thought much about having to leave for work, by 4:30 in the morning. The homeless / street people / people who rummage through your recycling bins the night you put them out before garbage day, has made me really uneasy. I live in what was a good / highly desirable area, but I no longer really feel that safe. I feel like I am always having to watch my back. Downtown is a no go zone, and it’s a public health hazard, In the time I have been at my current job, just about every time I go to work, I see homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks of the shopping area, not far from where I live. There was one morning, as I was heading out to go to work, between 4:15 and 4:30 in the morning, it was garbage day for those living on the other side of the main (yet not super busy at this part of it) road, and there was a homeless / street person with their bicycle leaning against the stop sign, staring at me. That definitely made me feel unsafe. I definitely made him aware that I knew he was there, without saying anything. Our city government, has done nothing to deal with the homeless situation, the hands of our law enforcement officers are tied in dealing with any situation (whether it’s the homeless or protesters) leaving them ineffective and a joke. Having seen this city go from one that was fairly liberal, but was more live and let live, and the city that wasn’t as horribly run, to a city that is no place to live unless your a liberal hippy, who wants to coexist with the homeless and drug addicts. I have also been the subject of discrimination from the liberal left, here, because I don’t believe what they believe, and choose to live my life differently.

All of this, plus learning what I have about myself, has brought me to the point where it is time for me to move on, find a place that on the whole, is more aligned with my values, and with the way I choose to live my life, and make a life for myself. I realized long ago, that while living in this city, I am just existing. I am making the conscious decision to look for a job else where, in a place that is more aligned with my values, and stop just existing and wasting the life I have been given.

Preparing for my Future Home

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One of the things I have been doing since I was a teenager, has been collecting things for my future home. Well, at least for my future kitchen anyway. I didn’t start on collecting things for other rooms until I was in college.

I always knew I wanted a home of my own, and a kitchen of my own, where I could cook, bake, can, and so much more.

How I have wanted it to turn out has changed a bit over the years, I have known that Black, White, red and grey were the colors I wanted in my kitchen. So, over the years I have been collecting things to go with that color scheme to go in my future kitchen.

I am not one who wants super fancy and ornate, I prefer simple and down to earth, diy, kind of person.

At work, I had seen this set of dish towels that I knew would go perfectly in my future kitchen. Today, I picked up the last one we had in stock at the moment.

We had had this one set left for a little while, so I didn’t feel bad about snapping it up. It definitely helped that I had a couple loyalty rewards coupons to use, as well as my discount. In trying to be frugal, I like taking advantage of coupons and sales. I definitely like getting quality items at a good price.

The older I am getting, the more refined what I want my home to look like, and have take place in said home looks like. I want my home, to be homey, inviting, and welcoming, yet be practical and functional. I would love to homestead, have animals that I raise for food, as well as being able to can, and preserve food for winter.

When the time comes that I have my own home, I definitely want to work on my YouTube channel, especially if the whole Homesteading works out. I have a lot of ideas for videos that I really cannot make happen right now, that I could in my own home. I definitely will keep blogging, this blog really isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. I still have ideas for this blog as well.

Homesteading is what I want to do.

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After a couple of months where I have been crazy busy, I am getting back into the Homemaking routine. Now that the holidays are over, and work is slowing down, the overwhelming desire to be a homesteader has come back in full force.

While becoming a homesteader as well as hopefully eventually being a Homesteading wife and mother who also homeschools, and so much more is still an unfulfilled dream, it is very much my dream. In some form and fashion it has been my dream for a few years now.

I have loved cooking, baking, canning, and knitting since I was little. The joy of having my own place, and keeping it up came in my early 20’s, while I was still in college.

I grew up in the city, yet it has never felt like home, I always felt like something was missing. Between a couple classes in college that really set my brain in motion of wanting to know where my food came from, how it was grown / raised, and developing food intolerances as an adult, that was the early beginnings of all this. I knew I loved small towns and country life over city / suburban living. Having to cook way more for myself and having to read labels, it has almost become an obsession.

I have had several different types of jobs over the years, some office jobs, a daycare, and working as a stock crew member at a retail store. During this time, especially these past couple summers, I have been trying to do more and more gardening, and jam making and so on. I have loved that. This season working stock crew, while it has been physically demanding for me, and I have been tired at the end of every shift, I really realized that I prefer working hard physically to sitting in an office all day. No, I don’t want to work stock crew forever, but it has helped me realize a lot of things about myself.

I love working with my hands, seeing the fruits of my labor at the end of the day, knowing I did something, and being tired from hard work.

I want, and am pursuing a different lifestyle than the one I was raised with, I never really had a sense of community, and lending a helping hand when the need arises. I want to live a simpler life and I am not afraid of putting in the hard work, day after day in order to know where my food comes from. In addition to that, be able to grow enough fresh produce to be able to go to Farmers Market and help provide others in the community fresh produce and good at a reasonable price.

Today, I baked a loaf of easy artisan bread with rosemary and sea salt, as well as baked oatmeal. I am really trying to eat better, and make things with fewer ingredients that I can pronounce. The baked oatmeal also will make mornings I have to work a bit easier.

Born in the Wrong Era

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Earlier I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner since I hadn’t marinated the chicken I got at the store yet.

I knew I had a lot spinach in the fridge, so I decided to make sautéed spinach with yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic and lemon juice sautéed in olive oil. I also decided to cook some of the tricolored quinoa I had in the pantry to add to add to my concoction, for some protein. I had also added a bit of salt as well.

On the side I had broiled some left over rosemary potatoes I had made the other night.

Before starting in on making dinner I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, vegan cherry brownies. I used apple sauce instead of butter, and I really like how they turned out.

After I had dinner and cleaned up the kitchen I went out to the garden and picked raspberries. I also checked the tomatoes and the lettuce. The tomatoes are still very green, and I had picked lettuce a couple evenings ago so there was not anymore ready at this point.

I am working with have I have available to me at this point. I would love to live outside of the city on more property, and have a larger garden. I would love to do more canning, and freezing of what I can grow and obtain fairly locally, as well as freezing meat obtained from hunting and fishing.

Part of this comes from the fact that I was raised in the city, where I have always been reliant on the grocery stores for all my food, unless we went to a produce stand, farm store or farm stand locally. Be even then, most of the meat I have eaten in my life came out of a package.

While there are certain items I would still need to pick up at the grocery store, I am the kind of person who wants to know where my raw food, especially and produce is coming from, how it was raised, and that it was butchered properly. I also want to be doing more to support my local farmers and helping them succeed. I prefer local food, when you buy it from the farm itself, it is a better quality, and has better flavor.

As I have gotten older, the quality of my food has become more and more important, as well as supporting the local smaller farms and such, over the big chain stores. The chain stores have been having so many issues with recalls on food for e.coli and salmonella and other contaminates.

I also love cooking and baking and using the best quality ingredients in what I create. There are times when I feel like I was born in the wrong era, because I do enjoy Homemaking, gardening, knitting, hard work, and all that goes along with it.

She Changed Her Mind

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I was really craving brownies today, so I made gluten free vegan cherry brownies today. The recipe I used called for the squares of bakers chocolate, but I had cocoa powder, so I googled how to use cocoa powder instead of the bakers chocolate. I figured it out, it called for a tablespoon of butter, oil or crisp shortening per three tablespoons of cocoa powder. I used applesauce instead. I used gluten free egg replacer instead of eggs. While I really wanted brownies I wanted to make them a bit healthier, which is counter intuitive anyway but it is what it is. I had added maraschino cherries, and man the brownies turned out so good.

The past three days have been cooler than the past couple of weeks. With the cloudy mornings and warm but not super hot afternoons have felt more like the end of summer early part of fall.

Between the cooler temps the past three days (it will be heating up again in the next couple of days), rewatching Grimm, Knitting, Baking, and generally wanting to go do stuff, I am ready for Fall to be here.

It has gotten me into the mood for autumn decorating and decorating for Christmas when the time comes. It is also making me want a home of my own to decorate.

As much as I would love to live in Alaska or the country, there is a part of of me that wants to stay living here in the city and have a home of my own here. There are so many things I would miss if I moved too far away, like Trader Joe’s, Bob’s Red Mill, Costco, New Seasons, Market of Choice, even Whole Foods. I would also miss all the craft stores and book stores like Powell’s.

Starting a Garden Journal

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Now that I have been getting more into Gardening, and hope to continue gardening well into the future, I decided to start a gardening journal.

I know that moving is in near enough future, and depending on where I move, the longitude and latitude I am at may change a bit or a lot. Unless I am able to move to Alaska, which could happen, in all likelihood I will stay in Oregon, Washington or Idaho, as I love this part of the country and the growing regions we have out here. We have everything I want out here, in terms of agriculture and produce. Not to mention hunting and fishing.

Each year is different, and different vegetables grow differently at different elevations, in different climate zones and at different latitudes.

I decided to start keeping this journal to track all of that on a regular basis (daily or almost daily).

I am only needed to record longitude, latitude, elevation and town / closest town each time I move, just to know where I am at and to be able to go back and look as a reminder.

At the beginning of the season I want to track if I planted anything new, what I planted, and how many plants, as well as what plants returned. From there, when I do maintenance stuff like staking the tomatoes or transferring starts from the greenhouse to the outdoor garden. I also want to track when things first start coming on.

On the daily basis track things like high temperature, humidity, whether it was an overcast or sunny day, if there was rain, or that I watered. I also want to track how much of each item I harvest each day. From there, I also want to document if I was able to make a batch of jam or something like that from what I harvested.

Part of why I am writing it down is so I have it easily at hand to track and look back on, as well as the fact it will be easier to search than my blog. I also feel that I would bore you all and lose followers if I posted all that here on a daily basis.

Not to mention that this blog is more than just about gardening, even though that is taking up a bit of my time in the summer.

I want to keep things as well rounded as possible, with Homemaking, Cooking, Baking, Canning, Gardening, cleaning, budgeting couponing, Decorating, entertaining, and all of that,

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

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Over the past couple weeks since I have started picking raspberries, I have been keeping an eye on the tomato plants. They are finally tall enough where I really started taking notice and thinking that it was time to corral them.

Last year, they hadn’t been corralled, and by the time I had kind of taken over checking raspberries and working around the plot where the tomatoes are (as they are behind the raspberries), they were an overgrown mess. There were tomatoes on the vines, only a few ever started getting ripe, and most that did either got stepped on or partially eaten by squirrels and birds.

This year, since it is early enough in the season, and I have taken over keeping up with the plants in the garden and trying to tend them, and talking with the family members I live with, I found out that we had the wire tomato cages. With some help, we got the tomato plants corralled in the cages, and hopefully we will actually get some tomatoes off them to enjoy this summer.

I kind of taken over tending the garden plants because I really want a garden of my own, and what better way to get a feel for it than to jump and get my hands (and knees) dirty with what I already have available to me to work with.

I know I will be writing more about the Garden this summer, as well as other Homemaking and Urban Homesteading things. I may not post as many pictures here, but if you want to follow along, I will for sure be posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram. If you on either of those and want to follow my Homemaking and Homesteading journey through pictures and such be sure to follow me on those two platforms as well as following my blog.

This is the Life I Choose

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Earlier this week, one of the evenings I had been out picking raspberries, and I was been eaten alive by mosquitoes and cut up by the raspberry bushes.

The next afternoon I went digging in my closet looking for an old button down shirt that I didn’t really care about and hadn’t worn for ages. I found one that would work and put it on before going out to pick berries.

While the scratches from the raspberry bushes hurts, it’s the mosquito bites that concern me a bit more. While we don’t really worry about things like Yellow Fever or Malaria, or anything that is typically in the humid subtropical areas of the world, our biggest worries are West Nile Virus and to some extent Zika. Other than travel related cases where someone had travelled to a place where Zika is prevalent and gets bit, it is a pretty low risk still at this point in this part of the country that you could get Zika from a mosquito bite here. That being said it’s something I don’t want to take the chance of.

This evening I had gone out picking, and I got about 7/8 of a pint. The berries are slowly coming on. It is a wait and see kind of thing to see what the crop is like this year.

The berries I have gotten thus far have been gotten eaten. If and when I start getting a pint and a half to two pints a day, then making jam is a definite possibility.

There are a couple DIY hacks I would like to try in the future, such as homemade Citronella candles and using citronella essential oil mixed with fractionated coconut oil applied topically. I would also like to give some proper work clothes a try like some Duluth Trading Company clothes a try for the summer months (as well as some Carhartt for the colder months).

It seems that the older I get, the desire to grow as much of my own produce as possible, and do so much more Homesteading and DIY stuff. Knowing where my food comes from and what is in my food is a big deal to me. I realize that growing a garden, as well as going and locally procuring what isn’t feasible to grow on the small scale, hunting for and fishing my own food is the life I am working my rear end off to make happen for myself.