Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Local Meats, Better Quality/ Prices Supporting Local Farms

So for many years I have been going to my local Farmers market as well as Slater's Meats. Located off of 38 about 11 miles from my home. Bob Slater, the owner makes many of his own meats to sell as well as other local meat makers. When I asked him how long he had been Butchering, he laughed and said "long before you were born, 1957" When I asked him about his meat supply, he stated that some was local, and the other from out west. He made it clear that it was the cost of raising the beef locally and what farmers could get per pound. I also know from talking to another farmer locally that supply can increase on a weekly bases. 

It was a very clean store and you can tell a lot of attention goes into their up keep. There was clean saw dust on the floor around the cutting stations, and the veggie cooler was perfectly clean. They offer a wide variety of HOMEMADE loafs and meat mixes as well as a large selection of locally sold spices from a local company. You just got the feeling that this was a shop for locals, no gimmicks or thrills, just a down right country store.

If you happen to be passing through or are local, stop in and try some of their deli meats. They will allow you to free sample some, just like the old days!
Here is Bob Slater and one of his other butchers. Bob was cutting NY Strips while his other butcher was cutting a piece of fresh Top Round for me to make my jerky from. His knife was very sharp I might add.

 Here you can see the butchers rail coming from the freezer while a mule deer looks away from the butchers table.

Butchers rail

  Prepping some meat

 Trimming off the fat of my top round

 Look at this selection of cold cuts, homemade sausages, loafs and meat mixes!

 How good are these prices?

 Local Chicken

Prices so good, it is worth the drive for the price alone not to mention the quality!

 What grocery store can claim they make their own lunch meats? I did sample and bought a pound each of the Pepper Loaf and Dutch Loaf. The Pepper Loaf taste just like a hot pepper sausage, but its flat! YUMMY!

 Other local meats and sausages as well as a wide selection of cheeses. I am going back today to pick up my pork bellies for bacon makin! They also supply me with my pork and fat trimmings to make my homemade sausages!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rats, Now That Wasn't A Self Sufficient Idea, But Why?

There are times when I get an idea in my head and for what ever reason, I know I should but I don't want to stop. So I came out of pockets on this project, the scrap money paid for this one, and I have in the end. I compare it with a male addiction to beat his chest and say I prototyped that but didn't get the patent or something. When it comes to hand tools and a new idea, well I get sucked in pretty quick. I admit I went way out on this one folks.

I live this SS life by the rules and I want to keep it out right honest and as raw as it can be. I know I wish I did everything right, but I know that I would just get big headed and all macho and be blinded by feeling that way. Sure, I do this for myself, but I also have a responsibility to you. Its ok if I fall short, I am human. I know many of you are living vicariously through me, some may sit back and read, and already know I am failing. But at the end of the day my goal is to learn and teach you the things we just don't know. 

So the rats have moved in, and now minus 79.00 for the water warmer for the chickens, it is game on punks. I don't hate rats, I am sure fried on a stick or bbq'ed they are good for something, but not in these parts. So I am not a poison person, and you know wasting time with a BB gun when I have better things to do like my honey do list ( or some other SS duty heehee) I had to turn to a clever way to gettem out of there. Naw, my cat is small, and she is a chipmunk liver eating fool.  So I turn to myself and say in my mind ( dude you got this ) than I get lost with blinders on and here we go for the ride... HANG ON!

I started out with 8" duct pipe and 3 caps to make two rat traps to put in my chicken coop. I used the trap and measured it to 16 inches which seemed like a perfect size.

So every 8 inches I placed a pop rivet in the seem to keep it together

I laid it out and used electrical tape to make a guide around the pipe to use a metal cut off wheel.


Laid out the center line

Added then to the cans after I closed off one end

Now we have some closed in rat traps cans that can be re-used for years to come

For the handle, I used some electrical wire I had. I drill two holes and bent them over

So now I am sure I could have made this lots of different things, like two coffee cans tapped together with a hole cut out one end. I am sure I will get all kinds of feedback on this tanked idea. But this how we learn.

I wish I could report this was a great idea, it is, but my approach was not right, I wish I thought it thru a little longer instead of grabbing the bull by the horns.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Space, A Sharing Idea, A Self Sufficient Idea, Your Thoughts?

Recently I have purchased a new commercial building for both of my businesses. After a couple months of retro fitting the new building, we moved. Doing this has freed up a great space.

The space is located on my property and I use one half for my tractor and gardening stuff. We also use the space to make our maple syrup. The other side is just being used as storage. So, after some thinking, I really want to clean the space up and make a couple small rooms and offer it out for rent as a self sufficient cabin retreat for people to come visit use here on the homestead as well as to hunters. We are located 9 miles from some of the riches state game lands in this area.

I think that renting it out, sharing and working with people and sharing my lifestyle with them is a great way to share and spread the joys and comforts of living like I do. There is power to the building, and it is insulated, lights as well as a pretty big space measuring 14 x 35. With great views of the woods from one direction, and a dairy farm at the bottom of the valley, it has some great views.

Thinking of offering a gas grill to cook on, and keeping it primitive will allow folks to step outside of the rat race for a spell and enjoy country living at it finest.

It would be great to get people to come and work together in the garden, sharing my food with them as well as working on projects, and maintenance on that building. With a fishing pond, a canoe and half a mountain to run around on, kids would have a ball too.

What do you think or what are your ideas on this space? Help me with some ideas or what would you do?

Steve has given me a free corn stove, so I will put that in there for a source of heat... 

Monday, January 23, 2012

So The Question Was Asked, Am I A Prepper?

K&D asked me this morning if I am a prepper? Perhaps..

My lifestyle is based on a system of beliefs that living off the land and taking care of me, my family and helping others to become more independent for themselves. However, not having a huge wallet to just go out and buy everything I need, my approach is a more practical down to earth.

If you have journeyed with me the past few years you know that I operate out of a fund/account set-up to provide money to pay for this. Whenever you follow my links to amazon from here or from FB and buy stuff, no matter what, I also get a kick back. It isn't much but at an average of .34 a day it helps. I call this account my SS fund and I make purchases according to my needs and what SS skill I am working on.

Trading and bartering are not included with this account. So I do my best to trade and barter before I spend any money for something.

I do have stashes placed in different locations of my property,  and those each will afford us with 7-9 days of food for 4 people. They are replaced every 3 years at a cost of $60 a bucket. I also have a "bug-out" bag as well as night vision and first aid. I have water filters as well as iodine for water.

Now, as many of you know, I don't talk about my weapons and what I use to hunt. I have a rifle, muzzle loader, and cross bow. Beyond that being said, the rest is not open for conversation.

I am sure I can escape, and we do have a plan in place in case something does happen. I feel my skills are useful enough to present myself as an important member in a clan if need be. I also am skilled enough to do it on my own and take care of my family. Fist aid is my biggest problem, I know the serous basics, but not the serous stuff.

Knowing plants in different regions is a must as I may have to travel south or north. I feel I have enough knowledge to gather food in every season. I can build shelters, set all sorts of string traps to catch small game, and I know many staple plants that I can gather that will keep us alive if they are to be found.

I don't know what the future holds, but I live the life I do so that I will not be unprepared in regular life or if something bigger happens. I know that my basic calorie counts won't be good, but we can get by.

What if TSHTF, are you ready? What are you doing about it?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sugar Season Is Coming, Get Your Pork Bellies Ready

Last summer Joshua and I headed into the woods to mark our own Maple trees. Armed with a Canadian flag and pictures of types of Maple trees, we started scouting in the middle of the front yard. Joshua spotted our first tree. Using blue plastic marking tape, we tied the tape around every tree we found that we could tap for sugar season this year.

We found 39 trees on the homestead that could be tapped, 14 of those are sugar maples. So then I decided to gather the two different saps separate in order to sell off the batch made from the sugar maples as the syrup is a better quality. I see that syrup is going for $88 dollars a gallon, so I hope to sell some to pay for the new barrel I had to buy and cover other minor cost. I had wish listed most of my supplies so I consider those as gifts in order to keep my SS fund above $1K. 

Make the task of gathering the sap easier, not knowing how much snow will be on the round, we mapped out our trail around the property to gather the sap. Than I decided it would to our advantage to clear and trim out the path around the property. We removed old logs, used some as firewood, cut limbs below head level. We drove the tractor around to decided which approach would be the safest for us. 

As the cold weather is here now, the smoker is cured and ready for meat. This years bacon video will include a smoking how to as well. In order to the best use of the smoker, we are going to smoke the sausage and bacon together but do two separate videos. As I type this, I have bacon in the fridge curing...

Its a simple 3 ingredient cure and any one can make/smoke their own!!! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

About That City Life? Country Living At Its Finest !

So I have had some conflict recently about my SS way of life. But let me not forget my city life and all that it still is and more. Perhaps I will slip into a place where I beat city dwellers down, but have heart my dear friends, city living isn't this country boys cup of tea.
As we sat watching the news, a 78 y/o woman had been raped and murdered 4 blocks down, 7 blocks over. I didn't understand the dynamics of the murder back then, I have a great understanding now. However, it was the fact that we lived in the best area, the best school, and things like that didn't happen here, or so I was to believe.

Then there was the on going hassle with stupid neighbors and property lines (still can't run from that one) and all that it came with. Then comes privacy, I didn't get that till we moved back to the country. The people driving by, the sirens, the smog, the everyday traffic, horns beeping, that fights people had, and the list goes on.

Than once we moved house back to the country it took a little getting use to. But I would sit out on the porch staring up at the sky that I hadn't seen in so many years. The peepers, the tree frogs, the gentle cool breeze of the summer night. It was like heaven, a place where I walked around and drank my beer and listened to what mother nature was. To be honest, it defined me and who I am.

I grew up on a farm, where in the summer we stay and camped outside because the upstairs of the house was too hot. Even if we could afford a fan, we couldn't afford the power to move the night air. In the winter, getting ready for school was a hoot!! See, the trick was to put our clothes in bed with us the night before. Early in the morning, when Mom would shout to get up, she just wanted to see lights in the hallway. So every other day me or my brother would hop out of bed and make a mad dash to turn on the light and back to bed. There was frost patterns on the windows, you could see your breath. You could smell Dad trying to get the coal fire started. But if it were banked right the night before, it would be cold but you couldn't see your breath.

I found the relationship with the Earth that I so longed for and had missed sooooooo much when I had to move to the city. I always told my Dad " You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. " He would be mean sometimes and say " well what are you going to do? Move back to PA where the deer and the antelope roam? " I never could figure a response to that statement, until I moved back. Jokingly, at Thanksgiving dinner, I looked at him and said " They must have killed all the Antelope, because I have yet to see one. " He never said a word but rather changed the subject.  
I decided that city living isn't for me, I see nothing wrong with it, but its not for me. I have dreamed of living in a cabin, that dream might just happen sooner than I ever dreamed.
But it might not, so I have made a final decision on where I will remain. I will continue to live in the woods, and continue with my way of life and continue in the direction I want to go. I want to be happy, and gardening, living off the land, making my own stuff, and being kind to the Earth are all things that are importnat to me, I can't give that up.
I hope you stay with me as I continue my next adventures of sausage making!!! I am evening doing a bacon video.... Thanks friends and fans, stay tuned!!! Jason