Sunday, June 27, 2010

Farmer's Market

Welcome to Market Week here at OPOD, where we are going to explore how people used to buy food before places like Walmart moved in. Regrettably, I must inform you that I HATE shopping at Walmart. The people working their are not helpful, it is hard to find things, and much of what they sell is made in China. So, lets role the calendar back and look at this picture of a Farmer's Market. The guy growing the food is the same guy selling the food. No middlemen. Farmer's Markets still exist in many communities today, and I really like shopping at them . . . nice friendly people, who take great pride in their product. Great food, great prices, and friendly people . . . remind me why we buy our vegetables at Walmart?

Domestic Update:

OK, it has been a busy week around the old homestead. Many of you suspected that I gave an easy mystery person contest yesterday so I could get out and work on the greenhouse. Well, I guess I am busted on that one. The thing is that the temperatures here during the day are over 100 degrees, so I like to get out there and get going before it gets too hot.

Most of last week was spent getting things ordered and lined up for the construction project. I decided that in addition to the gas fired furnace, I would put radiant heat in the floor of the greenhouse. It actually does not cost that much to get the tubing and stuff that goes into the slab. If you don't put the tubes in when making the slab, then you really can not add it later. The other thing is that with the tubes in the slab, then next summer I can think about installing passive solar water heating, so you would be heating the greenhouse with hot water from the sun.

I did make progress on the construction as well. Below, you can see I am building the forms for the slab on my front porch. So far, no complaints from Mrs. PJM about the mess . . . I think she is pleased to see progress being made.

The long boards will be the forms for the concrete slab. The steel pipes are connected to the forms, and are the anchors that the greenhouse arches will connect to. The anchors have to be connected to the forms exactly plumb, level, and square. Since the plexiglass sheets are an exact size, the greenhouse arches have to be extremely precisely positioned, or the plexiglass won't fit. So, getting these anchors connected accurately is very important. The blue material is Dow Blueboard, which will go underneath the slab, and insulate the underside of the greenhouse.

I also made progress on the building site. The picture below shows the caliche pad. Since I live on a hill, the ground is not flat, and the caliche pad provides a flat, level space to build on.

You can see that I have the Batter Boards and strings run marking the location where the concrete forms need to be. Also, I have little flags marking where the holes for the ground stakes need to be drilled. Drilling the holes will be hard, since we live on a rock. I have a water drilling rig lined up, and they will come and drill the holes next week. The holes have to be 12 inches across, and at least 36 inches deep. Then, I have the concrete guy lined up to come and pour the slab, once the holes are drilled.

Also, some developments out in Chickie Town. I had mentioned one of the peacocks was sick last week, and the other female had a nest of eggs. Well, this week I find that the sick peacock is feeling a little better, and in fact has her own nest going. She started sitting on the eggs about a week later than the first one. So, we have two babies already hatched, and 8 more eggs being set on. Looks like we are going to have lots of peacocks. I really like the peacocks, and I enjoy the loud calling noises they make.


  1. I remember not to long ago that Wal-Mart was advertising that every thing they sold was made in the USA. Then they got caught with some Mad in China things . That is when the damn broke as far as China made products/

    At least these peahens are not taking chickens hostage to sit with them while their eggs hatch like Lovie did.
    So if these eggs hatch does that mean the Handsome Jack is the daddy?

    If you had known how much was involved with your greenhouse project, would you still have gone ahead with it?

  2. The gut in the white shirt sure looks like Buddy Ebsen.

  3. Roger,
    The working assumption is that Handsome Jack is the daddy.

    I am actually enjoying the greenhouse project. I am hopeful I can grow fresh vegetables year round in it. It has been a fun summer project so far. I am anxious to get the the part where the structure actually starts going up.

  4. I'll bet when it is done you will be a proud as a Peacock. A little humor there.
    But seriously many congratulation on taking on this job. I hope every thing lines up great and things start to fall into place.
    I would guess that with the warm weather and the greenhouse watering system, plants will grow like weeds.
    How are your experimental plants doing? It's been a couple of weeks now hasn't it?

  5. I shop at Wally World when what I'm looking for is sold absolutely no where else. I shop online before Walmart.

    Back when I worked for a living (before returning to college), we built passive solar houses. We would lay out concrete blocks with the holes lined up, N-S across the slab so that they would line up with the spaces between studs. When the house was completed, it looked like a "normal" house, but used the walls and foundation as heat sinks. Then all you had to do was direct the airflow N->S in summer to cool things and S->N in winter to warm them.

  6. We live in a large county with only 2 grocery stores. It is a treat to get to a city & shop at Walmart (100 miles, one-way) with wide aisles, lots of light, great variety & much better prices than at home. We stock up when we go. I wonder if Merideth feels the same.

  7. Yes, but out in Wyo. they still ride horses to town, and the 10 trip takes about a week one way.

  8. Roger,
    The experimental hydroponics on the screened in porch is not doing so well. I had test planted lettuce. Lettuce likes cool temperatures and lots of light. The porch is in the shade, and is 100 degrees right now. So, lettuce is not healthy. Part of what I am doing though is working on water conditioning. The water has to be just right in hydroponics. The water out of the tap here is much too hard. What I have found though is that the water run through an RO system appears to work. With the RO water, I am able to maintain conductivity and pH of the water properly. So, I will have to put an RO system in the greenhouse. Downside of an RO system is that it wastes a lot of water (maybe 5-10 gallons of water is used to condition the membrane filter, for each gallon of water produced). In under the sink units, this waste water is sent out your sink drain pipe. In the greenhouse, I will put a tank outside, and collect the waste water from the RO system, and use it to water outdoor raised bed garden.

    It is a shame few builders take any advantage of passive solar. Simple things like how house is oriented with sun, and where the windows are can have huge effect on heating/cooling.

    We pointed our house north, with screened in porch on the south side. Also, no windows on west side of house. So, in summertime, no sunlight shines into the house, making it easier to cool. The screened in porch is in the shade in the summer, making it a little cooler. In winter, the sun shines in the screened in porch, and into windows, helping keep things warm.

    I have been reading up on thermal solar cooling. This is where the sun is used to heat a working fluid, which is then used to chill water for air conditioning. It is a little like a refrigerated cooling system, but the sun is used to create the high pressure, instead of a compressor. I am really disappointed that such "free cooling" solar systems are not available for home use. Refrigerated coolers based on compressors are a HUGE energy drain.

    Like you we live in a rural area, and shop once a week in town at a super Walmart and Sam's club. None-the-less, I really hate these huge box stores, and would rather be able to purchase from mom and pop stores, locally produced goods.


  9. That was suppose to say 100 mile trip. But I guess they would use the wagon for the longer trips.

  10. Vegetables from WalMart?! Heavens. Home grown is always best.

    Again, please consider amending your soil or constructing raised beds. I suspect you could grow crops year round in Texas.

    Thank you for supporting your local farmers' market.

  11. Maybelline,
    I am sort of committed to the greenhouse at this point.

    Outdoor raised bed gardening would be hard because the hot summer winds are pretty hard on plants, the peacocks would eat the plants when they sprout, and winters do freeze here. I will grow root plants in raised beds outside the greenhouse like garlic, onions, and so forth. These are things the peacocks would not eat.

  12. Here in NYC there are a lot of farmer's markets, believe it or not. And not a Wal-Mart in sight. Two of the great things about NYC. I'm afraid that the no Wal Marts may change soon, though. Wal Mart is trying to break into the market.

  13. As a WalMart retiree, I know WalMart has changed over the years and not always for the best. When they widen the aisles in the store I shop at, they discontinued a lot of my favorite items, but I still have to go get my WalMart FIX about every week to ten days.
    I was an associate for over 25 years and they were very good to me when I retired.

  14. So PJM, where do you buy all your tools, hardware, lumber, plumbing and electrical goods? Local independent stores?
    I suppose you shy away from the soulless Home Depots' etc?
    How about office supplies - local stationer or Office Depot?
    How about computers and accessories? Local Radio Shack franchise, or a big box computer vendor like Fry's?
    Do you get your clothes from the local haberdasher?
    Do you always purchase books from a local independent book seller, even if it costs more? Or do you take advantage of the vast online bookstore available via abebooks, amazon, ebay, Daedalus, Hamiltons. etc?
    After all, it's not just groceries is it? It's the whole idea of the local independent merchant.
    Where do your wife and daughter buy their feminine fripperies? Local boutiques, neighorhood Avon/ May Kay lady or the mall or maybe QVC?
    Do you get your prescriptions filled at a little local pharmacy or a chain drugstore?

    In my super liberal, no growth, politically correct area, it's the kiss of death to admit you like Walmart. I love it.
    Very large retailers like Kmart, Target are a minimum 25 mile drive from my house. Walmart is 50 miles. The stores in my local town are either over priced boutiques or offer only the basics. I order almost everything online and from mail order catalogs: clothes, shoes, household goods, crafts, vet supplies. The most recent items I wanted were a cast iron wok, a kitchen mandolin, a large waffle iron, a quality ricer and a quality meat grinder. These are all ordinary kitched tools. I asked the owner of the local kitchen store if she could special order these items and she said she had no distributor from whom she could order individual items! Well, had all these items, either sold by Walmart or a partner on their website. I wanted a particular opera so printed the page from and asked the local music shop to special order it. After TWO MONTHS, they said sorry, it just wasn't available. I promptly purchased it from (If I ran that music shop, I would have 'special ordered' it for my customer from Amazon if nothing else. It's not just due to the recession that they are having trouble, it's their inflexibility.)

    When I was a kid, we got almost everything from Sears and Montgomery Ward. (I still use a Montgomery Ward heater which is 40 years old - all metal construction!) My mail order shopping habits have not changed; but thanks to the internet, my resources are much bigger and better.

    When a chain drugstore and a supermarket opened in our town everyone ran to buy from them, which put two mediocre grocery stores out of business, but the good "mom & pop" grocery store is STILL in business. When a 24 hour gas-n-go opened in 1972, we all cheered that it was now possible to buy gas after 9PM, let alone all night long. The supermarket didn't drive the old grocers out of business - the customers did because they preferred the supermarket.

    For every nostalgic backward glance. There is a good reason why people like the newer ways. I remember both: the small grocery store and drugstore with high prices, limited selections, fresh lettuce two days a week and wilted after that; how happy people were when the supermarket arrived with fresh produce EVERY DAY, lots of selections and most of all, better prices.

  15. I will be honest that one thing that really bugs me on this blog are uppity posts by people posting anonymousnesly. This comment would not have bothered me, and I would have answered it if the author would have logged in or identified themselves.

    I don't mind challenging questions from people who identify themselves.

    I don't mind anonymous posts of thoughts and questions.

    To answer the question, when I have a choice, I buy from locally owned businesses. They have much better customer service, and by doing so, you are keeping more of the money you spend in the local economy. I don't mind paying more to get better service. Go into Home Depot and try to get someone to help you. Good luck.

  16. Wal-mart sucks. I used to work there. It was the most horrible place I have ever worked. I too buy from local when possible. My last resort is Wal-mart. I have not been to the mall in over 2 years. There are other places to shop.

    GO LOCAL!!!

    GO GREEN!!!

  17. Boy...funny how they made pants that went halfway up your middle. Now the young crowd prefers to wear them halfway down the back!!

  18. The guy in the suit is Communist-chaser Sen. Joseph McCarthy