Category Archives: Alternative Farming

Abundance and Scarcity

December is harvest month around here. Even though my husband didn’t plant anything, he brought in a harvest nonetheless. Four or five times a week, he headed to Cerano to see where la maquina (harvester machine thingy) was currently working and asked the owner of the field if he could pepinar (glean). Only once was he refused permission. That day, he had taken his father along and apparently the owner had some beef with him that went back 50 years or so. So no, corn that day.

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The gleaned corn he has been feeding as a regular treat to all the mama goats and sheep we have right now to help increase their milk production so that all the babies become fat and sassy. The then-empty corn cobs have been fueling our fire to keep down the bitterly cold December brought to our mountainous area along with the leña (firewood) from a dead mesquite tree the neighbor cut down a few months back. My husband has been trying to reduce our cooking gas consumption by using this mesquite wood to cook our daily meals. There’s nothing quite like beans cooked over the open flame for taste.

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My husband also bought a costal (feedbag) of purple corn he prefers for pozole. He sold several kilos to some ladies who work with his sister at the tortilleria, but we still have more than half a tote full. And he purchased rastrojo (dried corn stalks) from Panzon (Big Belly) in La Ordeña which will be ground to dust later this month as animal feed.

In line with our end of year prepping, we ordered a pipa de agua (water truck delivery) from the presidencia (town hall). This is the first we’ve had to order in the 6 months since the dry season started due to unseasonally late rains this year. The runoff from the rains kept our tinacos (water storage containers) about half full for some months.

What we didn’t take into consideration in all our prepping was the gas crisis. Yep, 9 states including both Michoacan and Guanajuato (which are the two states bordering us) are experiencing gas shortages.

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Gas stations in Moroleon and Uriangato and nearby Yuriria began running out of gas January 1st. The ones that were without gas first were privately owned gas stations, those owned by foreign investors like Oxxo and Exxon. However, now into the second week of hideously long lines, the Pemex owned gas stations are now outta gas too.

Locals insist that the problem originated when the Nortenos (Mexicans who live north of the border) began their annual pilgrimage back to the United States, filling up their gas-hogging SUVs and mini-vans and leaving locals without a drop of gas. I have my doubts about that since this year there were far fewer returning paisanos (countrymen) due to the US threat to close the border.

Apparently, it isn’t a gas shortage, at least according to government officials, but rather a problem with distribution. The new president Lopez Obrador has begun his campaign to reduce robos de gasolina (gas thievery) by implementing a new system of distribution. While working out the kinks, he has asked the Mexican people for patience.

According to some, there are additional factors causing the gas crises going as far back as 2016 when Pemex reduced production. Of course, the 800% increase in fuel theft under the previous president Pena Nieto, hasn’t helped the supply.

Regardless of the reason, there is no word on when our area can expect gas deliveries again. Grocery store shelves are becoming bare because delivery trucks don’t have enough gas to make deliveries. The cooking gas trucks that cruise around town with their cheery song are off the streets for the same reason. The guy my husband buys corn leaves from is no longer at his usual corner. He wasn’t able to purchase enough gas to fill his tank this weekend. It’s just a matter of time before the buses stop running.

We have enough gas in my husband’s motorcycle for the next 2 or 3 days. The truck and my motorcycle are garaged until further notice. The bicycles have been dusted off. Their tires have been checked and patched. We may need to go low tech for a while. 

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Buying plants in Mexico

Mexico prohibits the import of seeds and plants from other countries. Which means Amazon and Burpee Seeds do NOT ship to Mexico. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds does but customs can sometimes hold the shipment up for months. Other online places to find seeds in Mexico are La Semillería and Rancho Los Molinos.

My favorite place to buy plants is at the weekly tianguis (fleamarket). Usually, I can score a coffee tin or two with plants for under 20 pesos. You can also buy tierra para plantas (feedbags full of soil) from certain vendors. This is usually dirt scooped up from the base of el acebuche (Olea europaea), La ensina (Quercus ilex) or uña de gato (Uncaria tomentosa)trees which is particularly porous and makes a good mix on top of the regular old black dirt. This is what Mama Sofia collected and sold to supplement her income in Cerano.

Seeds packets are most often found at places that sell animal feed, maicería or Alimentos para animales or forraje. The packaged variety is limited but every now and then you can find exactly what you were looking for. I spent 6 solid months looking for semillas de jamaica (hibiscus flower seeds) until I finally found some. They’ve sprouted and I’m excited to see how they grow! These are the best places to get your corn, pumpkin and bean seeds by the kilo or puño (fistful).

You might also try stores that sell productos de jardinería (gardening products). You’ll find macetas (flowerpots) and some general insecticides here. Macetas are also sometimes sold off the back of trucks that periodically come through town offering 3 for $100 sets.

Viveros (plant nurseries) sell live plants but it’s a pot shot what you might find. The other day we were hot to get a banana tree and went to 4 different viveros before we found one. We also lucked out and found a new barrel cactus to replace the one that putrified in the last rainy season.

Sometimes you might come across a tricycle vendor and I encourage you to stop and take a look. You might just find exactly the plant you are looking for.

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Back to Basics Bundle Flash Sale

I can’t say how much I love these ebook bundles!  This is one of my favorites by far. Just look at what you get!

This year’s bundle includes over 59 resources to help you get back to basics and will help you:

  • Cook from scratch using nourishing real food
  • Plant and harvest your own vegetables
  • Learn what it means to live a simpler life without stress
  • Create a wholesome, healthy food storage
  • Learn how to create and use natural remedies
  • Plus learn how to live a more frugal life, do more things yourself, manage a small homestead, and much much more!

If you were to buy each of these resources separately you’d pay over $500, but for this short sale it’s 92% off!

The bundle is only available for a few days: August 25 – 27

Click here to find out more! I know you won’t be disappointed! I sure wasn’t!

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Blackberry Leaf Tea

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The blackberry bush in the backyard is trying to take over!  Shoots are popping up left and right, and it continues to wrap its spiny clutches around the lemon tree despite being cut back several times.  Since I will not be one of those ill-prepared preppers that lament the loss of coffee and tea after TSHTF (See Into AutumnInto Autumn) if you’ve got it, use it right?

Blackberry tea leaf is easy to prepare.  Just pour boiling water over dried leaves and let steep. It’s a darker color than some of the other teas I’ve prepared.  It has a rich, deep taste, just right with a drop of honey as a sweetener.

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Fermenting the leaves increases the tea’s flavor.  To ferment, crush wilted blackberry leaves with a wooden rolling pin.  Wrap them in a damp cloth and hang in a dark, warm area.  In 2 or 3 days, the leaves will smell like roses which I thought odd until I realized that blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis) are part of the rose family after all.  Remove the leaves from the cloth and allow them to dry completely before storing.

Not only is blackberry leaf tea delicious but it’s good for you as well.  Used medicinally since the ice age, leaves were chewed to strengthen gums and made into plasters to treat shingles and hemorrhoids. During the Medieval and Renaissance periods, blackberry leaf infusions were used as a gargle for a sore mouth, throat cankers and wound washing. Now in more enlightened times, blackberry leaves have been shown to fight cancerous cells and are a good source of antioxidants.  Blackberry leaf has also been effective in diabetes treatment, as a wrinkle preventative, and as a protection against cardiovascular disease.

There’s been some evidence that the tannins found in blackberry leaves, bark and roots may cause nausea in some people.  However, adding milk to the tea neutralizes the tannins quite nicely.  Thus the German regulatory agency for herbs has approved blackberry leaf tea for relieving non-specific acute diarrhea.  In addition, just like our medieval ancestors, the Germans have determined that blackberry leaf tea, mouthwash or gargle is appropriate for mouth sores and gum inflammation.  

(after use, please put it backin its proper place)

With all these reasons to drink blackberry leaf tea, perhaps this spring you should harvest your own.  Pluck the tender light green new leaves before the plant flowers, being mindful of those tiny pickers.  Ferment as described above or hang to dry and you’ll be all set.

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The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy
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