Years ago, when my husband and I got together we started to budget.  We had to as we were really poor and had lots of debt.  My husband is a methodical worker and I think he must have kept all those little monthly budget sheets from the past twenty-five years.

He showed me our monthly budgets from five years ago and our current monthly budget.  The figures from five years ago were slightly less than half of what they are now.  That means our expenses have increased by almost 100 percent in five years.  

Our lifestyle is, possibly, even more frugal now than it was five years ago.  In fact, the figures don’t tell the whole story.  Five years ago, we were not producing as many of the items we consume as we currently are.  We have learned to eat a great deal more out of our garden since then so the rate of food inflation in the past five years is likely a little more than 100 percent.  Has your income gone up that much?

I know the Government figures do not show this but governments around the world have a vested interest in deceiving their populace about the rate of inflation.  The jobless rate too is a serious work of fiction.  

So, we are stuck in a situation of rampant, world-wide inflation.  What should we do?  The first thing is to admit that things are going to get worse before they get worse.  Our industrial civilization works just fine on oil that is 20 to 25 dollars a barrel.  Today, oil was priced at $80 a barrel and last week was $90 a barrel.  This is where inflation comes from.  Everything in our civilization is tied to our oil consumption.  The price of oil goes up and so does everything else.  Oil is the commodity that allows Western Civilization to run at all.  

There is nothing we can do about the price of oil except to practice good conservation measures (don’t drive unless you have a series of jobs lined up that all need the car and drive at or below the speed limit) and get ready for even higher prices.  

There are a couple of wildcards in the deck, the first is the possibility of war spreading in the Middle East.  If the Straits of  Hormuz close, expect the price of oil to soar while Western Economies go into cardiac arrest.  

The other wildcard is a problem with a shortage of heavy oil, such as the Russians produce.  The boycott of Russian oil has led to a shortage of diesel fuel which is used in almost all agricultural machinery and is used for the transportation of goods.  The price of diesel is currently quite high and this means the price of food is probably going to be even higher next year.  The situation is so dire that the American Government has started to buy heavy oil from Venezuela, formerly a pariah state for the Americans.  

Here in the countryside, we can help ourselves by gardening and growing more of our own food. To get new garden beds started, or to remediate very weedy garden beds, cover the area you want to garden with layers of maple leaves, newspaper, cardboard, manure, or seaweed.  By the spring, the soil will be almost weed free and will be easy to dig and already more fertile.  

Having a couple of hens to eat any food scraps and to produce beautiful eggs would be good but there is no point in keeping hens unless you build a mink cage and put your hens in it.  That is something Peter Karsten taught me years ago.  Even if you manage to exclude mink, we now have a bear, and possibly a cougar, taking livestock on Denman.  

As usual, the Government has been no help at all beyond telling us to read a pamphlet on how to coexist with bear and cougars.  We are to keep our flocks and herds behind electric fences by day and lock them up at night.  Fine, but what about people’s pets and children?  What about smaller people who might want to go out for a walk without taking their rifle?   Our various levels of Government are useless where they are not corrupt and incompetent.  We are on our own with the bear.  

But, back to inflation, one way to offset the high cost of food is to buy staples in bulk and cook from scratch.  I love Donna’s little grocery store here on Denman where I can buy large bags of organic staples such as flour. 

I also like Fieldstone Organics, a Canadian company that I purchase legumes and grains from.  A lot of lentils are grown in Western Canada despite our not eating very many lentils in Canada.  Most of them are exported.  If you want to slim down, be healthier and reduce the cost of your groceries, then learning to cook with lentils would be my first suggestion.