Barter my way to mushroom education. 

This has been a good week. I tattooed a local Islander and made $125 which I then gave directly to having another local deliver soil for my empty raised beds. I was quoted $250 for 3 cubic yards. That really doesn’t sound like much dirt but I went for it anyway. David  came the next day to deliver it. He gave me $20 off because he liked my blog, score!. He left the large pile in my driveway and I recruited my kids for the afternoon. Together we shoveled it into the wheelbarrow and moved and dumped it into the beds. Well actually we dumped it in one of the beds as we seemed to run out before we could move on. So now I need to come up with the means to fill the rest.

Discouraged and now broke I came inside and started surfing craigslist where found a local seven part mushroom mycology course starting this weekend. I got super excited. I have never met a mushroom I didn’t like and have already been researching them on my own, using apps, books, the Internet and the guidance of my peers. Unfortunately the course is $350 and I just spent any money I had on soil. I decided to write to them and express how much I want to be a part of the course and offer any of my skills in barter. Michael returned my email and gave me his info to call him. I called and we worked out a deal, he wasn’t interested in tattoos per say but was interested in having an assistant during his workshops!. I am so excited. I paid him $100 and have agreed to help him how he needs throughout the courses, meaning I get to learn all about something I am so passionate about, while learning how to forage free food for my family!. Thanks universe, I love you!.
Here is a page from my book of medicines wild crafting foraging, and life hacks that I am making.


What Makes Me Hot?

I am going to focus this blog on food costs mostly, but living costs are important to address also. My family moved into this new house on this new island only one and a half weeks ago. The new house has a woodstove, something I am super excited about, but already we have spent $300 on wood. My husband Trevor chopped what small amounts we brought with us when we first arrived and whatever fallen logs we found on the property, but this is not nearly enough to heat the house full time. Immediately we find ourselves buying wood from the locals.

While exploring Pinterest for d.i.y life hacks I came across a process for turning all your left over paper products into fire logs. All I needed was two five gallon buckets one perforated with drilled holes, lots of paper products, a piece of wood cut in a circle to act as a press and water.



-You place the perforated bucket inside the solid one and fill it with all your torn up paper recycling, you can also add twigs and leaves if you like.


-When it is as crammed full as you can get it fill it with water and leave it for a few days until mushy.

-Then find something you can use to mulch up your concoction. We used a large electric drill outfitted with a paint stirrer. And mulch the concoction until the consistency of a smoothie.

-lift the perforated bucket full of mushy paper out of  the solid bucket and allow to drain.

-Save and reuse the first water for the same purpose or water your garden or compost with it.

-Outside place the perforated bucket on the ground and put the circle Press on top of the mush and use the other bucket as a seat for you while you use your weight to compress the paper mush as much as you can.

-When you have got as much water as you can out of your now compressed pulp, pop out the puck and set it somewhere to fully dry for as long as needed then burn!

I found the log burned hot for about an hour. Free firewood!!

A Seedy Lesson


Last week I was lucky enough to attend my first Seedy Saturday. Well, let’s be fair, I’ve had more than my fair share of seedy Saturday’s but never of this nature. This seedy Saturday actually involves seeds and happens in full daylight in the downtown centre of our sleepy town. With hopes of diversifying my collection I gathered up my own seeds, consisting mostly of squash organically grown by my friends on the Sunshine Coast and headed to see if I could make some trades.
This event was spectacular. Locals had set up with their seeds, starts, and even mushroom mycelium for sale and others had travelled from different communities to join in the festivities. In the middle of the room I found a trade table. I met a lovely lady named Heidi who had envelopes to put your seeds to trade in, a sign up sheet, and a general plethora of information. This is where I learned something.
Heidi asked me about my seeds, I told her proudly how I had saved them from the squash my friends grew and gave me on a tattoo trade this year. She then asked if they were done properly. I said “I imagine so, they were organic, all different sorts and were delicious and I had all the seeds dried and separated by type”. I was then informed that to properly save squash seeds the different varieties of squash need to be grown at least one whole kilometre away from each other to prevent cross pollination. Which although exciting, creating new species is apparently not desirable.
This meant they probably couldn’t use the seeds.
I suppose the look of utter defeat on my face made Heidi take pity on me. She said to label the seeds after the squash they came from but specify that they may be mystery squash, she then gave me two packets of pole beans and some tips on how to grow them. I left my seeds to be redistributed and went to the other side of the table to help myself to a packet of basil, some parsnips and some cilantro and some lentils. Mission complete. Oh and now I get to grow  Frankensquash!.


How To Achieve

So now that the intentions have been clearly set, how Shall we go about achieving or attempting to achieve this goal. Who knows How close our food or even living costs could can get to zero. I fully understand and live by the rule that my time is money, but for the sake of this project only money is money.

There will be a few basic ideas and principals adhered to, but there will be no rules. The plan is to farm, forage, barter and even scavenge to provide for my family. It is safe to say that groceries will still be purchased during the attempts to reach the goal. I will blog all of my grocery bills with the hopes of first learning average costs, then later seeing those drastically drop.

To begin this journey I have armed myself with some useful literature , and the knowledge not used will none the less be informative and interesting.
Here are the books I am currently reading or have recently finished.

This one is just to make us all better people


This book and this woman are both amazing!


How this begins

How does someone go about freeing a family of four from the tight restraints of agriculture? How can a family existing in this day and age be as green and cruelty free as possible? How can I ensure my family is eating the best and most natural foods The planet can offer them?

These are questions I constantly ask myself and my peers. I have looked for the answer in books, in public opinion, in myself, my surroundings and in those around me. I definitely do not know the answers to these questions, but perhaps the real answers lie in the quest to find them. So this is my quest.

I am going to start with my most recent grocery receipt. At $353.48 this shop was average to a little on the low side for a trip to town. I have found it is safe to expect one like this or higher two to three times a month. Previously I have estimated our food costs to be somewhere from $700-$1200 per month. We try to eat mostly to totally organic, and for the past few years while on a journey to be green and what we deem to be cruelty free, have been fully vegan.

I am not convinced lately that being vegan is really what’s best for the planet. I understand this view will not be warmly received by everyone, and honestly I have yet to stray from  being vegan, but I think I may and this is why.

To be both vegan and to be healthy we need a variety of foods and sometime supplements. For example allthough I try to limit my soy intake  it still finds its way all to often into my daily meals. I know it isn’t the healthiest option but it is so often readily available. Unfortunately the problem with soy is not just its negative affects on the human body but perhaps more importantly the horrible things it does to our planet. We as humans have cleared countless hectares of land to mono crop the soy bean, and other crops like almonds, or corn. This kills biodiversity, poisons the soil, causes dust bowls and ocean dead zones, seriously you can google it, I don’t need to rant on it. This and stealing foods from other peoples, like the controversies surrounding quinoa are reason enough for me to look for a better alternative.

Using the information I have gathered, as well as let’s call it a serious gut feeling I have been led to believe that living off the land the way it was intended, staying closest to the way my pre industrialized, pre consumer, not necessarily white ancestors did may be the best hope for future generations, my family, my wallet, and the earth; not specifically in that order.