Greetings Everyone, I hope everyone is able to enjoy the holiday season 2020 despite the current events of this year. I hope you are all well and that your loved ones are too. Blessings to you and yours! I pray we all have a healthy, happy, and fulfilling 2021.
I started the New Year 2020 with high hopes of selling my property this year for an offer even better than the one I had rejected from Dollar General, but since my neighbor across the street from me sold out to them DG is now open across the street from me instead of the locally owned small feed store that had been there for years! This area was showing signs of commercial growth all around me at the beginning of the year.
January 2020 began a new decade and it is 100 years since the “Roaring Twenties” had begun. In hindsight now after eight plus months of the pandemic I have often thought about the 1918 pandemic and wondered if the roaring 20s was a reaction to the lockdowns and deaths that pervaded everyone’s lives back then. I wonder if now that we will have a vaccine and the pandemic will begin to subside will we also have a similar phenomenon, or will we see a different phenomenon perhaps a return to a simpler life of growing our own food and handcrafting.
That is what I thought might happen after experiencing the knee-jerk reaction of many people who chose to return to growing their own food and stocking the pantry with staple goods many of us saw empty grocery store shelves for the first time in our lives. I have seen that many times actually because I grew up in the Gulf of Mexico southern USA where every year due to the hurricane threats there were many times the store shelves were bare because people buy more than they usually would “just in case” and because we were taught to be prepared if you shelter in place then you may be on your own for weeks before aid will show up to help. Other people in 2020 bought up seeds in the same way to the point that there was a seed shortage.
Many people are fearful of the safety of our food supply from the stores and they decided to grow their own for the first time in their lives. I’ve had a garden off and on over the years because I love gardening and having veggies and fruit that I grew myself. I used to always save the seeds from the grocery store food but I had stopped doing that because it was so easy to buy seeds and you know what you are getting with seeds from seed houses that you trust.
When it comes to just needing to grow food though, the grocery store veggies and fruit seeds will still produce food you can eat, but if it is a hybrid then you may not get the exact same fruit that you got the seed from because hybrids are sort of like us humans who are mixed breeds. You never know what you will get in the next generations but we will still all be humans, and so it is with plants. A hybrid tomato may be a cross between a sweet round red tomato that doesn’t produce very well, cross bred with a tomato that is not sweet, that is odd shaped, and has thick skin but produces like crazy! So if you save the seeds from that plant then it may be more like one of its parents rather than like the other one. Such in my case, I had a fair skinned blond haired blue eyed Dad and a mom with a beautiful olive complexion and dark brown hair. I was a fair skinned freckle faced blond haired blue eyed child, where as my sister is blue eyed too but with more olive skin and brown hair. With plants, the first year hybrid is called an F-1 hybrid. You may have seen that in seed catalogs, and other seeds are called open pollinated or heirlooms. The difference is that open pollinated and heirlooms seeds will give you the same plant and fruit as the parent you grew it from, but hybrids are cross breeds so they won’t and it takes about 7 generations to stabilize a hybrid to be able to call it an heirloom. I had actually ordered seeds in January and February before the pandemic hit; however I probably would have ordered more varieties had I known what was coming in March 2020.
I am very fortunate to still have my sweet old fur babies Zoie and Terra, they were 15 years old on December 5, 2020. I feel so lucky to have them especially because of their conditions called Laryngeal Paralysis. You can look it up on line but basically it is a disease of the throat where the muscles get very weak and there is partial paralysis of the muscles that close off the windpipe from the food pipe so they often get choked. They also have trouble breathing if it is warmer than about 68 degrees. It was a long hot summer and I was very worried about them especially because my AC went out during a hurricane. I am thankful I had bought a small unit in case of emergency. I put it in my bedroom and had to make them stay in that room most of the time. I also worried because the truck doesn’t have AC and so if I had to take them to Veterinarian they could die in the heat on the way to the doctor. We made it to winter and I’m so thankful now it is cooler weather. It is amazing what a difference it makes for them to breathe easy. They seem so much happier and active with the cold weather and they don’t wheeze with every breath as they do during the summer. Tango is still with me too, he was 11 years old in September.
I had many bouts of allergic reactions this year that were worse than any time before that I can remember. I had swollen legs and rashes and breathing problems. I took new medications and they helped. I also discovered that pulling a bandana up over my face covering my nose when working in dusty conditions outside helped with not getting as many sinus and lung infections. I even started using a bandana instead of a mask when I go out in public, it works great! I am doing much better with allergies now with the cold weather. I actually got vaccinated this year for the flu and for pneumonia, which is quite a feat for me because I never took either in my life and didn’t think I ever would but this year changed my mind. I look forward to when we can all have this current pandemic virus vaccine available so that those of us who want to take it can. Virtual doctor visits are now part of my life and I like it because I don’t have to leave home. I actually walked around my yard while talking with my doctor on video chat through the Sacred Heart virtual doctor visit browser! I hope that will continue after this pandemic is over because I really prefer it over driving to the office and sitting with a bunch of people who may have something contagious.
This year I have come to enjoy a new type of shopping called Curbside Pickup. I sit in my home on my computer and order things and pay for them online from local stores such as Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Lowes, Manning Feed and Seed, Rhonda’s Aviary, Michaels Craft Store, and Walmart. I was already using the pickup service with Walmart but all the other stores didn’t have that service until this pandemic occurred. I hope they continue the service after the pandemic is over because I am spoiled now and it’s the way I like to shop. I can order days ahead and set up curbside pickup all on the same day so I leave my house and go to 5 different stores, sit in parking lot, they bring out the orders, and I go home. It takes less time than if I went to one store and had to go inside and fight the crowds, and deal with checking out and all that goes with that. I definitely like curbside pickup! Another change for me this year is ordering more stuff online. I don’t have mail delivery at my home because I choose to use a post office box at a post office that accepts Fedex, DHL, and UPS shipments on my behalf and then I go there to get my mail and pick up packages.
I also became more fascinated with heirloom and open pollinated seeds this year. I found many seed companies that I had never ordered from before. I decided to start a seed library this year of all my favorite vegetable and fruits. Many of the seeds I ordered are for vegetables and other plants that are not sold in our chain stores; they can only be found at Asian food markets, or some of the local farm markets. Since I want to insure that I have those plants I decided to find the seeds online and buy some. In my quest to find many unusual seeds I found over 25 seed suppliers that are small family owned businesses all over the USA that sell heirloom, open pollinated, non-gmo, and organic seeds. I have ordered seeds regularly every month this year from many of those seed suppliers. I made a spreadsheet on my computer listing all the seeds along with scientific names and growing information about the seed as well as the supplier I bought them from. I then file them by category so that when I am ready to plant some of the seeds I will be able to find them easily. So far I have 192 different packets of seeds for an assortment of my favorite edible plants and some that are not edible but I wanted to grow them for the beauty of their flowers. I have many different varieties of herbs, greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, legumes such as several of the Asian long beans and many other types of beans, radishes and other root crops such as beets and rutabagas. Most of the seed suppliers guarantee their seeds for at least 5 years of viability. I think especially now in these uncertain times that a seed library is a wonderful worthwhile endeavor! I found many of these seed suppliers from watching YouTube videos of gardeners, farmers, homesteaders, and other such channels that I been watching much more of this year. You may not know that seeds are viable for many years. There are some gardeners who have sprouted seeds they found in their grandparents basement that were over 80 year old seeds! My own experience with old seeds is that the older they are the lower the germination percentage. In my own experience seeds over 8 years old don’t sprout for me but my seeds were not kept in ideal conditions either and that is the key to longevity of seeds. This new seed library that I have started this year will be kept in climate controlled conditions so that they will be viable for many years to come. I plan to plant just a few of each type just to have the experience of growing the many different ones that I have never grown myself. I buy the vegetables and fruits at the market but I have never grown some of these plants before such as many of the Asian greens, long beans, and the various radishes especially the huge Asian ones that I will be fermenting along with other root crops and various vegetables, and using in Kimchi ferments too. I’m looking forward to the experience of growing new varieties! There are so many different types of vegetables and fruits that many people have never tried that are delicious and nutritious! I buy them and cook them or ferment them and now I will grow some of them in 2021.
What have you been reading this year? Our libraries are still closed to public inside but we can checkout online and then pickup. They also have online ebooks to check out. I have done both this year but I have also purchased used books online when I find them at a reasonable price. I’m reading the Louise Penny series that is set in a fictitious village called Three Pines in Canada. It is her series known as the Inspector Armand Gamache Novels. I read some out of order from the public library but then I got serious and decided to collect the entire series so I been ordering used and I intend to collect the entire series. I think she is up to #17 now in 2020.
I didn’t ask you about what tv shows are your favorites since I still don’t have a television I probably wouldn’t know the show if it is newer than early 2017 because when my tv broke in March of 2017 I decided I wasn’t going to replace it and instead I would catch up on reading for my entertainment instead. I gave up cable tv in 2007 but I used an antenna with converter box after the USA went digital in 2009 and so I watched over air tv and PBS was my favorite channel. I been able to still see many of my favorites such as This Old House, Sewing with Nancy, Cooking and gardening shows by using the hotspot on my mobile phone I can get online on my computer and watch YouTube and many websites that are free.
For those friends and family who are on social media, or who keep up with me online in other ways such as email or by subscribing to my blog, thank you for being there this year. It has been a blessing to be able to keep up with each other online and be able to see your posts, your pictures, and your wonderful correspondence during these strange times when many of us are staying home as much as possible. As you may know, I had taken a sabbatical from facebook (FB) from February 2019 when I deactivated my page. I let everyone know I was not going to be on there and to find me online at my Instagram page or by email. This year in early March I got back on my FB page with the intention of deleting my business page and removing my personal information on my personal page. FB makes you wait 2 weeks after you delete a page to verify you indeed want to do it because it is not reversible. I waited the two weeks for the business page to delete permanently and during that time I caught up with cousins and friends who I had not communicated with for nearly a year. The pandemic hit during that period of time and I decided to not deactivate personal page again. I may deactivate again in the future but for now I have it activated. I do many auto-posts to Instagram and to FB that means I post things to my page without actually being on the page actively. I try to spend a little time on there to catch up with friends and family members’ posts but I am mostly not there and I don’t use the messenger feature, I don’t have it on my phone and I don’t have the notification for it on. So if you try to reach me on messenger at either Instagram or Facebook and I don’t respond then send me an email to my email listed below.
For those of you who don’t communicate with me online, I wish you would consider giving it a try. I will list below my online platforms that I use the most. If you choose not to use online then I hope you will take the time to write me a letter by snail mail (USPS = United States Postal Service.) I love getting letters and cards; I will write you back! We can be penpals! I don’t care much for talking on the phone, but when I finally do talk on the phone I usually do a marathon session which I’m sure none of us has time for these days!
Although I do want to sell my property I have felt very blessed and grateful this year that I am in my own home on my own homestead property during this pandemic. I don’t know if 2021 will bring me an offer I will be able to accept but I hope so because I want to pay off my mortgage and be able to pay cash for a more rural homestead farther north with a basement. I really want a basement. I have lovely memories of my Grandma Downing’s basement in Lena Illinois. As a child when we visited I got to go down in the basement with grandma to help her carry up canned goods that she had canned from her garden. There was a trapdoor in the pantry floor off the kitchen that she pulled open with a round metal latch that rested inside a round recessed place in the trapdoor. Grandma used to pull it up and then climb down a staircase that was more of a ladder and then I would go down after her, she was below waiting for me. There were also doors that opened at an angle to the outside yard to the back garden. I also used to love to go down in the basement at Mama’s sister Thelma’s house. Aunt Thelma and Uncle Emerson had a basement too. Uncle Emerson had a hobby that was HAM radio. He had a huge tower outside and his base unit was in the basement. I loved going down there with him and listening to him talk to people all over the USA and maybe other countries. Uncle Emerson and Auntie Thelma lived in Rockford, IL. Aunt Thelma had a very large garden, my sister and I used to play “Starlight-Starbright” in the corn rows of the garden in the moonlight. We also had fun when we would lay on top of the hill by the garden and roll sideways all the way to the bottom. I also remember the basement at my Daddy’s brother Uncle Sheldon Atherton and Aunt Aurora’s house; they lived in Barre, Vermont . They had a tiny basement compared to Grandma Downing’s house but it was also full of shelves lines with canned food that she had put up. All these years I have taken those memories for granted; this year for some reason those memories have become the most precious jewels of my childhood.
Contact information is below.
My mailing address is Maggie Leiterman, PO Box 813, Bagdad, FL 32530 for regular USPS mail, and for Fedex, UPS, DHL it is Maggie Leiterman, 4629 Forsyth Street unit 813, Bagdad, FL 32530
https://www.instagram.com/handcraftermaggie/ you can see literally thousands of pictures and video that I have been posting for many many years on my Instagram page, it shows my daily life around my homestead and my sweet furbabies.
https://www.facebook.com/mc.atherton.leiterman I usually post on Instagram and it autopost to FB for me and I don’t actually get on FB to post many of the posts you see.
My blog: https://handcraftermaggie.wordpress.com/ you can subscribe for free to get notified when I post on my blog.
My new email: email@example.com I have many things planned for 2021 as a farmer and a Maker so I made a new email because my other ones are already overloaded.
My mobile phone: 850-686-1786 (I don’t have a house phone)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!
Maggie, Zoie, Terra, and Tango