Cultural Influence

photo of biscuits and gravy on a white plate.

A few days ago, someone on Twitter asked what biscuits and gravy was. I wrote, “They are only the most delicious and satisfying breakfast food in the world. It’s hot sausage cream gravy over baking powder and buttermilk biscuits.”

As you can tell, I think biscuits and gravy is my favorite food that is native to here in the Ozarks. It hasn’t always been that way because I have not always lived in the Ozarks.

Couldn’t Get Them in the North

Biscuits and gravy is a south-of-the-Mason-Dixon line sort of food. A few years ago, my daughter and I took a trip from here in Missouri to Pennsylvania where my family is from. While there, we went to a restaurant to have breakfast and she looked over the menu and said, “I don’t see the “biscuits and gravy”.

“Oh, honey, “ I said.  You won’t find them here. They don’t know what biscuits and gravy is.”

“Are you serious?” She asked.

“That’s right,” I replied. “Here they like French fries and gravy.”

‘”Really,” she asked.

“Yes really,” I replied but I digress. This is a post about biscuits and gravy.

Making My Own Biscuits and Gravy

One of the prerequisites of living in the Ozarks is knowing how to make good biscuits and gravy.

I start by baking the biscuits. according to the recipe on the package Personally, I like baking Grands biscuits, fresh and hot because my own creations often turn out like hockey pucks so I buy a tube of the commercial biscuits and start from there.

Next, I brown the sausage in a frying pan until it is thoroughly cooked. I set it aside.

I do make the gravy from scratch. I start by making a roux. To make the best roux, I start with some bacon grease that I saved from the last time we had bacon. I melt it in a frying pan on the stove and gradually add flour until the bacon grease is absorbed and browned slightly. I put some of it aside in case I need to thicken the mixture more. Next, I add milk and whisk the mixture until the milk thickens into a nice gravy. Add more milk or roux as needed to make the desired consistency.  I then add the sausage and salt and pepper to taste. When the biscuits are fully cooked and golden brown, the meal is ready to eat.

I like to split the biscuit in half and pour the gravy over it. My husband just likes to pour the gravy over the biscuit without exposing the fluffy inside. Whatever way you like it, biscuits and gravy is not only good for breakfast but can be eaten for supper as well.

Something Else I’ve Learned Lately

The nuances of biscuits and gravy aren’t all that I’ve learned. Because of all of the research that I did for Gourmet Weeds, (Purchase on my affiliate link on and support your local indie bookstore). I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about foods we can forage here in the Ozarks. Not only that, but I also learned different ways of cooking those foraged foods.

Yes, I knew some of what I wrote about when we started Ozark Grannies’ Secrets, but I learned a lot from my co-author Kerry Kelley who was also a transplant from another part of the country. You can check out the post I wrote about her here. She is a treasure trove of valuable information about gardening, homeschooling, and homesteading in the Ozarks.

To learn more about purchasing books on, check out my article: A Neat Way to Purchase Books Online.

When I first tell someone that I grew up in Pennsylvania, but now call the Ozarks my home the next question that person always asks is why I moved to the Ozarks.

I first fell in love with the Ozarks when I came through the area back in 1979. I immediately felt a longing to get off the bus and stop and stay. Perhaps I should have, but it wasn’t yet time. However, the small houses and rustic gardens that I passed never did leave my mind. I vowed to myself that I would someday return.

Return, I did, in 1984 when I started buying land through a contract for deed. Later I found out that buying land on contract for deed is probably the most expensive way to buy land, but I didn’t care. I had my piece of Missouri.

Sadly, I no longer own that piece of property, and I have come and gone from the Ozarks many times over the years, but I always keep coming back.

The People

So, what is it that keeps me coming back? First, I like the fact that where I live at least, my neighbors don’t try to make my business their business. They keep to themselves, and I keep to my own, unless, of course, disaster strikes.

People here in the Ozarks will rally around someone who they feel is truly in need. Many years ago, my house burned down, and I didn’t have insurance. Rather than people balking at my not having insurance, they helped me out with a place to stay, clothes, household items, and household money that I needed to get back on my feet. When my car broke down and I couldn’t afford to get it fixed, friends from church paid for the repairs. When we lost our car to the bank, our pastor gave us a used car. The act is reciprocal. When the same happened to others, I do the same for them.

There’s a freedom here in the rural Ozarks that isn’t found in other parts of the country as well. We don’t have an HOA telling us that we can’t grow chickens or have livestock because we’re “not zoned for that”. Of course, it can also mean that we might have a car or two on the back forty or a nonfunctioning washing machine in the front yard, but that’s changing. There’s almost always someone around who wants to help you get rid of that piece of metal that you have no more use for. (Translated, they will take it and sell it for scrap.)

The Land

 Many people complain about the rocky land. I like our karst topography. The Ozarks is built on a subterranean system of limestone caverns, that creates mysterious-looking formations like caves, surface sinkholes, and rocky, overhanging cliffs caused by the interaction of the water from its rivers with the limestone bedrock. I also enjoy the clear spring fed rivers that are kept stocked by the conservation department with all kinds of fish. A trip by canoe or kayak down one of the Ozarks’ many rivers is a sightseeing adventure that displays all these features and more.

The Plants and Animals

I love the biodiversity of the flora and fauna.

As we wrote in the upcoming book that Kerry Kelley and I will be publishing soon called Gourmet Weeds, “The Ozarks are home to an amazing assortment of plant and animal life. Imagine hardwood forests, pine groves, cedar glades, Prairie remnants, river bottoms and bald knobs, all spread out in our roughly 47,000 square miles (about half the area of Arizona)

The stony hills and hollers make it an ideal area for finding many forageable foods because the variety of plant species have not been depleted by excessive cultivation. The wild and beautiful Ozarks are essentially not suitable for growing most commercial crops, although in generations past, many local families grew sizable acres of corn and cotton for themselves and as a source of income.”

Prickly pear cacti and paw paws grow near one another in white oak forests. Many plants (and some animals) are only found in the Ozarks. Plants that prefer more northern climates are found near caves. Desert species grow on the dry rocky glades. In the spring, the Ozarks explode with springtime blooms like bloodroot, trout lily, jack in the pulpit, and violets that live a short life before the onset of warm weather and tree leaf growth. In the summer, roadsides burst with echinacea, butterfly weed, wild carrot, and daisy-like Jerusalem artichokes and many other wildflowers.”

The diverse plant populations support various types of animals. In my yard every day, I am entertained by a family of squirrels and one year a family of gray foxes. (I used an electric fence to keep them from eating my chicken.) At night raccoons and opossums travel though my yard. White-tailed deer often nibble on my garden greens, but those greens often still make it to my freezer. Wild turkey thrives here. Wiped out and made extinct in the Ozarks before 1900, Elk was reintroduced and are now managed, as they bounced back so strongly their numbers became encumbering. The Hellbender is making a comeback in the Ozarks as well.

Once near extinction, bald eagles often nest here near where I live. I have seen many of these eagles on many of my trips to down at different times of the year or during trips down certain Ozark riverways.

Raccoons, white-footed mouse, opossums, otter, mink, eastern chipmunk, beaver, short-tailed shrew, quail and numerous other species of birds, insects, and animals call the Ozarks home.

What I especially like about the Ozarks is how every day can be different, and I’m not just talking about the weather. On the surface it seems like nothing ever changes, but that is deceptive. Every day there is something new to see and something new to do if you know what there is to see and do. It’s a place where imaginations are allowed to grow and flourish.

Why the Ozarks? I guess I have to say that it’s the place where I can enjoy being me.

Enjoy this blog? Join us on our Ozark Grannies’ Facebook group. Want to meet us in person? Check out our event page

A man using blacksmithing tools
Blacksmithing became a barter skill on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

As I was doing my research on the Lewis and Clark Expedition (also known as the Corps of Discovery) Most of the information I am using for this blog comes from archives of the actual journals of the explorers themselves.

In my research, I have discovered that these men didn’t take most of the food or supplies that they needed with them. They either procured or built what they needed. Though Captain Lewis bought surveying equipment, medicine, and trinkets to trade to the Indians in Philadelphia and had the original boat built in Pittsburgh, some of the boats were built in Camp Wood (Dubois). They hunted, hunted fished and foraged for much of their food. If something broke, they either fixed it or replaced it. The men got good at making tow ropes on their trek upriver.

They didn’t simply hunt and fish to supply them with all their food and other supplies. Nor did they just trade trinkets to the Indians for what they needed. They also bartered their skills with the Native Americans.

The skill that proved to be best for bartering with the indigenous people was blacksmithing.

Two blacksmiths accompanied the expedition. One was Private Alexander Willard, and the other was Private John Shields.

Private John Willard

Willard was recruited at Fort Kaskaskia from Captain Amos Stoddard’s artillery company, He was convicted of sleeping while on guard duty, which was punishable by death. He was given 100 lashes instead.

In the Mandan village, both blacksmiths set up shop and spent the entire winter of 1804-05 fixing Mandan tools and weapons in trade for the corn they ate that winter and the corn they took with them on their continued trek west.

Willard often assisted Shields in his work during the first year of the expedition. Because of his misconduct, he was detailed to the return party in 1805. He later served during the War of 1812.Willard later served during the War of 1812.

Private John Shields

Shields was such an invaluable blacksmith that Captains Lewis and Clark broke one of their own rules and allowed him, a married man, to go on the trip with them. (Only unmarried young men were wanted for the expedition.)

During their winter on the Pacific coast, Shields demonstrated his talents to repair their weapons including Captain Clark’s favorite gun.

Shields proved so valuable that Lewis requested that Shields be given more than the salary given to most privates in the Army at that time.

I am enjoying learning about people behind the scenes of this great adventure by the Corps of Discovery. If you enjoy this series about these amazing explorers, let me know in the comments section below.

Living Today, The Power of Now Get Your Copy Today!

So many of us feel guilt and shame about our past or we are worried about the future. My book Living Today, The Power of Now reminds us that we don’t live in the past, nor do we live in the future. All we really have is now. Think about it. Now IS…. We’ll never have the past again except as a memory. We’ll never have the future, except as a dream. We can only live now.

How can we let go of the past and not try to live in the future? Living Today, The Power of Now explores how to make this a possibility.

As I am thinking about this book I am reminded of the movie “Click” where the protagonist of the story gets a remote that takes him from one major event to the next and never allows himself to enjoy the journey that takes him from each event. The next thing he knows is that he is no longer in control of what happens because he has programmed the remote to skip over those things that seem trivial or painful. His whole life passes him by and he regrets not having experienced his life because he was too obsessed with reaching his goals. It is quite the metaphor for those of us who keep our nose to the grindstone in hopes that we get what we want in the future, but never quite being satisfied with what we get.

I am reminded of those people who are always living in the past either pining for something they had but lost. Whether it’s a relationship, a memory, or a situation that no longer is. These people feel that they can never be happy again.

 I am also reminded of those who live in the past of guilt. These people made a mistake in the past that they can’t let go off. Something that brings them shame even after others have long forgotten the events.

There are those who live in the past because they can’t forgive someone else or themselves. They can’t let it go, and events occur often that trigger them to relive the pain of that time. They can’t enjoy today because they can’t get beyond the past.

Living today frees us from worry, shame, guilt, and unforgiveness all those negative emotions of inaction. It faces fear straight in the face by saying. What can I do right now? What is my next step? What direction should I turn right now? It allows us to move. What we face may not always be pleasant, but if it isn’t, we are simply moving through it, not dwelling in it because we are taking each step as it comes.

Living today gives us the ability to look at and appreciate life around us. It gives us permission to get off the hamster wheel to stop and walk barefoot in the grass. It gives us the power to stop and smell the flowers, to ride bikes with our children while they are still children. It allows us the privilege of watching the sun rise or set. It gives us permission to stop and just enjoy the fact that we are alive!

Every day is a gift and that was my inspiration for writing the book Living Today, The Power of Now. I believe that it will inspire you as well as you read it.

Follow this link for your free preview of Living Today, The Power of Now.

For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all of the books that I have written to date. I am beginning the book club with my first published book: When God Turned His Head.

The First Book in the Locket Saga

The Story Behind the Book

When God Turned His Head is the first book of the Locket Saga, but it was not the first book of the series that I started writing. I started with the second book Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues and rather than making When God Turned His Head a prequel to Soldiers Don’t Cry, I made it the premiere book.

The idea for this book started when I was writing about when Rachel and Elizabeth are entertaining their uninvited guests when the question came up about their parentage and the girls told them that they had the same mother, but not the same father. They also said that their parents had been indentured servants.

That was when I wondered what happened to them. About that same time, I read the story about the murder of John Codman in the middle of the 1700s and thought the details would be fantastic to fashion into a historical murder mystery. Many of the facts were exactly how they happened. I just added Drusilla as his wife and Rachel as his daughter.

I wrote this book at a very difficult time in my life. I had been working as a nurse and hated it. Every day I had been afraid that I would kill someone by some mistake that I made. I won’t go into the details, but the fear of making a mistake and harming a patient caused me to sabotage my nursing career. Then I was afraid to tell my husband that I had lost my job. It didn’t do much for my marriage, I’ll tell you that.

After I lost my job, my husband also lost his because of something that was not his fault, but because he quit that trucking company, they reported him to DAK for an accident that was an equipment error that he had no way of knowing would happen. He had no recourse in the issue. He was shunned from truck-driving for the next three years.

Before losing our jobs, we had been doing everything right. We put sweat equity into the house we were building. In 2007, just before all this went down, we had fifty percent equity in our home. We had two vehicles. One was completely paid for. Regarding our other car, we had easily been making the payments. We had been paying extra on our mortgage and making extra payments on our credit cards. Life was good. However, in a short time, everything fell apart.

At about the same time, we lost our jobs, the housing bubble burst and the recession hit. The equity in our home disappeared overnight. We couldn’t make our payments because we didn’t have a job. A boy stole our truck that we had paid off and he wrecked it. The other car was repossessed while I was selling muffins in the town 9 miles from our house. I had to call my husband to get the neighbor to come pick me up.

Because my husband lost his job, he also couldn’t pay the child support that he owed to his ex-wife, and he ended up in jail for nonpayment.

If it weren’t for our pastor providing us with a car to drive and paying enough to get him out of jail, I don’t know what we would have done. He got a job driving a school bus for a local school which was enough to pay the child support, but not enough to save our house. He was talking about the possibility of having to live under a bridge.  

I was depressed. I was depressed enough to seek professional help, but I refused to take medications to mask what I was feeling. The psychologist who I was seeing suggested that I try journaling, and journaling led me to get back to writing which I had done since I was twelve years old. I wrote When God Turned His Head while all this was going on. Journaling and writing the book took me out of my state of depression.

While writing the book, we did lose our house, but we didn’t have to live under a bridge because my brother let us move into his house with him. During this time, I incorporated my emotional state into Drusilla’s situation. It was highly therapeutic.

Bad things happen to good people and sometimes it seems as though God does turn his head and the winters of life blow their snows of life, but eventually, the flowers of life do return. Like me and like Drusilla, you must push through the hard times, and eventually, you’ll pass through. As it says in Psalm 23:

“Yea, though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

Psalm 23:4 KJV

Let me know in the comments below if you have already read the book, and any thoughts you have regarding it. I love hearing from my readers!

Did you know that you can read a free sample of When God Turned His Head right on Amazon? LOOK INSIDE

Fuel-efficient cars are nice, but there are things you can do to save on fuel even without buying a new car.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the problems with the electric cars and at the end, I suggested that there are ways that we can conserve fuel without everyone driving electric cars.

One of the reasons that energy conservation related to driving is so important has to do with what is currently happening in Europe and in other parts of the world. Some countries’ economies are being held hostage by other countries simply because most of the petroleum products that they use come from countries that could soon be at war especially if they were to follow their own convictions.

Because the United States produces more petroleum than any other country in the world, but also because of our consumption of oil products we also import a lot of it as well, we could do a lot here to conserve energy produced by petroleum products and share more of that oil with other countries than what we do.

So many ways exist for us to conserve our use of petroleum products especially here in the States, and one of the ways that we can do it is in how we travel around. Conservative ways of getting from place to place will not only assist Europe but by doing so will save you money in the long run.

If you doubt that conservation would make a difference in petroleum product usage, look back on what happened at the beginning of the pandemic when we all stopped traveling and stayed home. The price of fuel dropped to rock bottom prices because we weren’t using oil like we had been. The reason the price of oil went up at first was that we were using it again. Now with that war in Eurasia, the prices are at an all-time high. Supply and demand. If we cut our demand, supply will be less of a problem than it had been.

This doesn’t mean that we all need to stay home and never go anywhere, however. What it does mean is that we need to get smart about how we travel. Let’s start with getting smart with how we travel to work.

Traveling for Work

This is a lesson that we learned during the pandemic. We don’t always have to go to a job to get a paycheck. We might be able to work from home at least part of the time. Hybrid work situations can work for many people and now is the perfect time to do this especially since there is a worker shortage.

In some situations, skype or other conference calling situations could be used for meetings with associates, colleagues, or potential customers. Customers can also be found just as easily and possibly even more quickly by email, phone, or webinar than by visiting them in person.  

Not every job is set up for every person in the country to work from home, of course, nor do we necessarily want to. However, what we may want to do is try to get together with others that we work with and carpool when possible.

You might also be able to take mass transit like the bus, train, or subway to work. Biking is also an option as well.

With so many people renting rather than buying homes, it might be in your best interest to live closer to your job and perhaps walk to work rather than driving or taking mass transit or riding a bike.

When You Have to Drive

There are times when not driving is not an option and there’s no one to carpool with. For those of us who live in rural areas, it is often not possible. Therefore, learning how to drive more economically is most beneficial.

First, if possible, consider getting a more fuel-efficient model of vehicle.

Second, if that isn’t possible, make sure that the vehicle you do have is properly maintained. Be sure that your car’s tires are inflated to the right tire pressure for your car. Check your tires when they are cold. Also be sure that your car has routine oil changes, and the air filter is changed when needed. In addition, be sure that your fuel firing system is properly functioning. Replacing a fuel filter, cleaning injectors, and changing plugs and points will offer improved gas mileage. Check with a trusted mechanic to see what options might benefit your vehicle at this time.

Next, change some of your driving practices. Accelerate gradually and smoothly, especially from a stop.  Use a light touch on the gas pedal until you’re going about 25 miles per hour. Then continue to accelerate until you reach the speed limit. Don’t exceed the speed limit. When driving on a level highway, use your cruise control, but avoid using cruise control on hilly parts of the highway because you’ll use more gasoline rather than less.

Anticipate traffic and traffic lights. Try to maintain speed. As much as possible synchronize with the traffic lights so that you don’t have to stop and wait for red lights. Pass only as necessary and don’t slam on the brakes any more than necessary. If traffic is stopped for more than thirty seconds, turn off your vehicle and restart when traffic resumes. Take the route with the fewest stops and lefthand turns. Turn off the car whenever you are stopped and waiting for someone or something.

Remove excess items from the car that weigh the car down.

When using the air conditioner less is better. When starting out and driving at lower speeds, drive with the window open then close and use only as much air conditioning as you need to feel comfortable.

Plan Your Trips

Batch errands that need to be done at the same time in the same part of town. Go shopping when you have an appointment. Pick up the dry cleaning when you pick up the kids at school.

When Traveling on a Vacation or Get-Away

Plan activities that don’t require driving at all! Consider hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or camping near your home.

Plan other destinations where you don’t have to drive much.

Consider how you can incorporate walking into your vacation plans.

Eat meals at locations within walking distance of your hotel or wherever you are going. Eat at home more often rather than going out to eat.

Take mass transit at your destination location whenever possible during vacations. My daughter and I went to Pennsylvania from Missouri by Amtrak several years ago and another time my family visited St. Louis and took the train from downtown where our hotel was to the zoo on the other side of the city.

Make it Fun!

Whatever you do, plan every trip you take as much as possible. Give yourself enough time to go where you want to go without rushing. This includes to work, running errands, or while on vacation. Challenge yourself to reduce the amount of gasoline you’re using every day. Make a game of it. It doesn’t have to be a drag. Imagine the pleasure you’ll get by not supporting the oil industry.

Now it’s your turn. How do you save on fuel when driving?

Two hundred and forty-seven years ago this week on April 19, 1775, was the shot heard around the world. No one knows who shot the musket that started the American Revolution, but that shot was discharged on Lexington Green, Massachusetts. It was just the first shot of many that lead to the birth of The United States in a war that would continue until its formal end in 1783.

Several years ago, I started researching for my books in The Locket Saga series and several of the books in this series including Soldiers Don’t’ Cry, A Coward’s Solace, and Sailing Under the Black Flag are all based during the American Revolution.

Here’s a blog post about The Locket Saga

Although the events in this book occurred prior to the American Revolution, I would be remiss if I failed to mention When God Turned His Head. I posted about the first book of this book series which started from an idea that I got the idea of Soldiers Don’t Cry even though When God Turned His Head was the first book in the series.

Over the past several years, I have done a lot of research and written several articles and blog posts about this time in American history. Here are a few.

The Boston Massacre-Powder Keg of the American Revolution

The Unsung Hero: Lucy Flucker Knox

This is the story of the wife of Henry Knox. She is a patriot in her own right.

The Hidden Cause for the American Revolution: The Thirst for More Land

This article explains how the French and Indian War brought about limitations on land attainment and forced the British to limit forts on the American frontier.

How Changes in English Farm Practices Influenced the Colonization of the Americas

See how the change in weather patterns brought changes in the British agricultural system and caused migration to the Americas.

Songs of the American Revolution

Music has always been an important thread in the American fabric. So exactly what tunes did Americans sing during the American Revolution?

The French Intervention

How the French intervened to win the American Revolution-We Americans talk about our independent spirits, but we couldn’t have pulled off the revolution without our friends the French.

Even though I went to dusty old books for information, I loved it when I discovered actual members of the Eighth Pennsylvania when I was in Waterford, Pennsylvania. Here’s an article I wrote about the event where I meant the Eighth Pennsylvania regiment of the American Revolution.

When Historical Writer’s Research and Re-Enactors meet

I hope you enjoy these articles, and they help you appreciate the value of the freedoms that we have in this country that started with that shot on Lexington Green on April 19, 1775. If you have any questions about my articles and blog posts or if you have any comments, please do so in the comment section below.

Also, be sure to check out The Locket Saga series all books are available in paperback and on Kindle!

Eating fresh vegetables from the garden can save energy in so many ways.

Last week we discussed how we could save energy in the home. This week we are going to talk about saving energy in food production. I bring this up because how we get our food is one of the ways that decrease the increased cost of energy that we are facing.

My thoughts are that if everyone could have a garden, grow it, and utilize their gardens in the most thoughtful manner, we could save an amazing amount of energy in the process.

Your Food Travels Farther Than You Do

The average meal in the United States travels about 1500 miles before it hits our dinner plate. This long-distance, large-scale transportation consumes large quantities of fossil fuels. We currently put almost 10 kcal of fossil fuel energy into our food system for every 1 kcal of energy we get as food.

Long-distance transportation requires huge quantities of diesel fuel Some forms of transport require more than others. Airfreight requires more energy than sea shipping per pound. But sea shipping is slow, and in our increasing demand for fresh food, food is increasingly being shipped by faster and is more energy-consuming.

In order to transport food long distances, much of your food is picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport, or it is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport and sale. Scientists are experimenting with genetic modification to produce longer-lasting, less perishable produce.

Cutting the Energy Consumption of the Food We Eat

To cut down the number of miles that the meals that my husband and I eat, we purchase many of the things we cannot grow ourselves in bulk when possible. We purchase sugar, different types of flour, oatmeal, coffee, tea, dried beans, spices, salt, vinegar, canning supplies, and herbs that we can’t grow. By purchasing them in bulk I not only save money, I am also saving the energy needed to process the food before it gets to my home.

I then have started making more of my food from scratch. The bread that I make is the freshest bread I have eaten in a long time, and it doesn’t have any preservatives. I also make things like pies, cookies (that for six months out of the year I sell at Farmer’s Market allowing those who live locally to cut down on their energy usage as well), and granola.

I also produce and use my own garden produce to decrease even more fossil fuel energy. That fresh produce is not traveling all those miles because I am growing as much as possible in my own backyard. I am also eating as much of it as possible from the fresh state as well. The less processing that I do, the less fossil fuel I am consuming. I’m not canning, freezing, or dehydrating any more than I must. I eat my fruits and vegetables in season as much as I can.

The energy savings I have from gardening isn’t just in growing what we eat either. We save energy in the gardening process. Instead of using a gas-hog of a tiller, I use a broad fork to work the soil. I am keeping down weeds by using recycled cardboard and sawdust from a local sawmill. (a broad fork doesn’t expose weed seeds that would sprout if brought up by tiller either.) I sell excess produce directly to the local population. I do have one gardening tool that is gas-powered. I  use a grass-catching self-propelled push-lawnmower so that saves some of my own personal energy. It uses far less than a riding lawnmower and saves me quite a bit of time in the process.

Harvesting of garden produce is done by hand. We eat fresh seasonal foods as much as possible. I tell about how we can produce vegetables all season long in my book The Four Seasons Vegetable Garden.

What we don’t eat fresh or sell, we store as fresh food whenever possible. I tell about the vegetables that you can store over the winter without processing in my book The Survival Garden. Available in Kindle Edition or in Paperback

Preserve or Not Preserve?

Contrary to what these two latest books might suggest, however, I do not believe that preserving food has no place in our home garden setup. We do utilize canning, freezing, and dehydrating, but we first try to eat our foods fresh as much as possible. The less we process food ahead of time, the less energy we will be using in the end.

I hope this post has given you something to think about. If you have a garden, make it a little bigger this year and eat produce as it ripens. Don’t have room for a garden? Grow a few herbs under lights. Can’t grow herbs? Visit your local farmer’s market and get your produce there. At least your food won’t be going more than a few miles to get to you.

For more on gardening, check out my other blog The Perpetual Homesteader.

We may not be able to produce more oil on a dime, but we can easily cut back on what we are using!

As the price of gasoline at the pump rises, we are told that there really is nothing that we can do to alleviate the problem other than extracting more petroleum than we have and according to the oil producers, because they can’t just turn on the spigot to get more, we either have to pay what they say and have increased prices at an alarming rate.

However, what they are telling us doesn’t make sense. Why should the prices be going up so much? According to statistics, the United States only used four percent of Russian oil. The question becomes why is it that if the United States is the biggest producer of the world’s oil that we need to import any oil in the first place and what can we do to fight back to avoid paying those prices.

This increase in price has little to do with the manufacturing sector because our country’s manufacturing sector has been decreasing over the past several decades. Yes, we use plastics and other petroleum products, but much of it is made in China, so we can’t blame manufactured petroleum products for that. Much of what we use is based on personal energy consumption. If we want to fight back on the price of energy, let’s start in our own homes where we have at least some control.

What we can do is something that we learned two years ago. At the beginning of the pandemic, we learned a very important lesson concerning our use of petroleum products that we learned that we can utilize now. Stay home or at least close to home and decrease the demand for oil and price will come down.

But most people are tired of staying home. Are there other alternatives to not being able to travel?

Over the next several weeks, I will be addressing these issues in some very practical ways that if more people in the US does them, the demand for crude oil will go down and we’ll pay less at the pump.

There are numerous ways we can save money on energy, and they are not necessarily as painful as the American oligarchy would suggest. All we need to do is develop a few habits that decrease our need for petroleum through the decrease in energy use to make it so that we wouldn’t need to ever use that source of foreign oil.  This week we’ll be discussing how you can save on home energy costs.

The Use of Energy in Our Homes

Many areas to save energy exist within our homes and this is a good place to start decreasing our dependence on petroleum. First, we must learn how we actually use energy. Here’s the breakdown of the average usage of energy in the home. Here in the United States, we use 47% of our home energy for cooling and heating, 14 percent for water heating, 13 percent for clothes washing and drying, 12% for lighting, 4 percent for running the refrigerator. The other 10 percent is used in cooking and entertainment.

Decreasing Energy Use at Home

Heating and Cooling-We can decrease our energy use at home very easily if we just start changing a few small habits. We can turn down the thermostat by a few degrees in the winter and raise it a few degrees. If you were to adjust your temperatures when you’re not there and at night, you’ll cut energy costs by one percent for every eight hours for every degree you adjust the temperature up or down.

If you have some money to invest, and you own your own home, insulation will also improve the efficiency of the energy used as will getting a high-efficiency furnace.

Living in a smaller home that has good insulation and a high-efficiency furnace is a better investment than a large home of equal efficiency.

Water heating can be improved by finding ways to use less hot water. This can be done by timing your showers to make them as short as possible, not running hot water any longer than possible. If you have some money to invest in your energy, consider insulating your pipes, getting a more energy-efficient water heater, or better yet, getting an on-demand water heater where you’re not dragging hot water down yards of pipe.

Washing and Drying Clothes-The cost of washing and drying clothes can be decreased by using cold water to wash only full loads of clothes and using a clothesline to dry your clothes.

Lighting can be decreased by turning off lights that we’re not using and using the most energy-efficient light bulbs that we can. Use a flashlight instead of a nightlight. Turn off the porchlight when you’re not expecting anyone to need it. Use solar lighting instead of on-grid power for outdoor lighting. Use motion sensing light instead of constant lighting.

The Refrigerator-though the refrigerator only uses a small 4 percent of our home energy bill, there are ways to decrease the cost of refrigeration. First, purchase an energy-efficient refrigerator and only have as big of a refrigerator as you need. Second, don’t open the refrigerator any more than you have to, and don’t keep it open longer than necessary.

The Final Ten Percent-Numerous things can be done to decrease that last ten percent of energy usage. First, decrease fantom energy usage. Unplug appliances that you’re not using. Use smaller appliances rather than using the cooking range when possible. Smaller appliances often use less than half what the range uses because the range runs on 220 current (if electric) whereas the appliances use 110 current. Use the cooktop instead of the oven, when possible, as well. If you are using the oven, do all the baking all at once.

What Suggestions Do You Have for Saving on Home Energy Costs?

I’m sure that this one article has not been all-inclusive regarding how I can save energy used in my home. What have you done to decrease the energy usage in your home?

Next week, I’ll be talking about how we can decrease energy usage regarding how we get our food. Be sure to like and follow this blog to explore how we can save energy on an individual level.

Hundreds of people going in different directions.
Many Americans said goodbye and good riddance to their jobs when the pandemic hit.

Twenty million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in the second half of 2021. This occurred because many Americans had time to get off the treadmill long enough to realize that they didn’t want to and didn’t have to work as slave labor to support someone else’s dream. They decided that they wanted to decide for themselves where they wanted to work or whether they wanted to work at all. I am a part of this great migration from working for “the man”.

I Am Part of the Great Resignation

Since March 2020, I have been away from the nine to five grind and living on our acre and half. At first, I was putting the house in order. While I lived in a travel trailer on our property, I had our trailer set up and painted it on the inside. I worked the garden area and canned what I could. I set up shelving to hold our home-canned jars and the store-bought items I bought in bulk. We picked blackberries.

In 2021, while continuing to garden, I started selling my books and several kinds of cookies at the local farmer’s market. I have also been working part-time as a substitute teacher and last September, I started collecting early social security. About the same time, I published another book about gardening and have had some decent success. In September I published my book The Survival Garden. I was surprised at how many sales I was able to make between September and December.

Coming Back from a Small Set Back

The forward motion slowed, however. This past winter, I have started cutting into my savings a little. Between the fact that I have had to spend more on our heating fuel (we heat with wood) and for groceries and gasoline, things have cost me more than I expected. In addition, my computer started falling apart. It happened first in November and then the screen fell apart again in December. I waited for the entire month of January for the repairman to let me know that it was ready, but that never happened. At the beginning of February, I decided to purchase a new computer which is what I am working on now. I probably shouldn’t have waited even that long.

 Now that spring is in the air, I am hopeful about the future. We have already been getting ready for next year’s gardening season. Last fall I planted regular garlic and elephant garlic and it is up and growing. We have planted our potatoes in three different ways and have pepper and tomato plants growing nicely. Soon we’ll be planting onions, peas, and shortly after that corn.

My book sales have also started to grow again after just a few sales in January and February. I have started experimenting with marketing methods and have found some benefits to those methods. I will be giving more later as time goes on.

In March, I finished writing an eBook I call The Four-Seasons Vegetable Garden in which I tell about the various ways that I am developing a vegetable growing system in which I can grow all of my own vegetables throughout the year. Check it out! And while you’re at it, check out my other books-fiction as well as nonfiction at my Author Central Page.

Is Being Part of the Great Resignation Worth It?

It’s not like I couldn’t go back and do what I was doing before the pandemic hit. I still could, but I have decided that I don’t want to go back to the way things were. I like the fact that I don’t have to punch a time clock every day. I like the fact that I can greet the morning on my own terms. That’s not to say that I’m not working. I have probably worked harder over the past two years than any time in my life and I am happy with what I am doing. I love gardening and I love writing. I feel fulfilled and that is a great feeling.

Now It’s Your Turn!

How about you? Did the pandemic make you re-evaluate your life? If so, how has your life changed over the past two years? Feel free to comment below!

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