Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Casting Call, Will It Lead To A Show For Me?

I had a great conversation that lasted 45 minutes with a Senior Casting Director today. I am not going speak a whole lot as I not sure where this sets. It might not go anywhere and I am just thinking how neat it would be to do a documentary style show or a show that I can show people what I am up to.

When I looked into what she was representing, and she gave me a break down of what they are thinking. I thought she was just singing a beautiful song to me as she told me what their thinking of. Instead of living my life, she could put what I do in your living room...

I don't want to do a reality stye show, I am not a redneck and I don't want to entertain people in that manner. I would like to do a show where I can share some of my ideas.... So I am not "jumping" the make-up seat just yet... But I would enjoy sharing my life on my homestead.

She was very fun and a good listener, and she didn't make fun of my bashing of the English language. Half way through the conversation, I got the feeling I wasn't what she was looking for. But you know, at least she considered what I was doing, and if this doesn't work out she has my number. I told her I was happy to advise her or help in any way I can.

Thanks Caz..... Jason

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Eggtastic Homesteading With Chickens

People talk about the hundred dollar egg when I tell them that I raise chickens for eggs. As you know, there is a lot more to raising chickens than just getting eggs.

To me, anything labeled organic is worth looking into, and anything that the Government says organic or free range isn't really what might be in there. People that raise their own chickens can tell some of you that your eggs that you buy and homegrown eggs taste different, and they do.I know that my chickens eat a very healthy diet and are very happy birds. I know that the egg I am eating is a good quality egg.

I also enjoy having the chickens around as pets, they develop their own personalities as well as teach children about caring and responsibility. When good food goes in a couple good things come out, eggs and poop. We eat the eggs, and I use the poop in my garden.

Chickens will also come to you if your outside and want to see if you have something good for them to eat. My kids have learned to keep a little scratch in their pockets, and like dogs, the chickens will come calling if they see you.

Nested in our hand paint Gourd bowl is our first batch of eggs from our second flock.

....................Click the picture to enlarge it.....................

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stocking Up The Pantry 2012...

As the garden keeps giving, I keep on putting food up. Because I use several methods of storing food, I use the methods that best suit our needs and I know the food will get used.

While the pantry fills, taters sit at the bottom under every shelf, jars start to stack up, and I end up putting empty jars waiting to be filled every where I can.

To the right are Jars filled with good eats, as well as the left side. The right is wet side, the left is the dry side. We are looking good so far and ahead of production this year. I am short on taters, and I was late on beans which are now canned from mine and Marks garden. I still have Lima, Kidney, Pinto and Mexican Red Beans that are almost ready to harvest. Because they are dried beans, they need time to ripen and store.

I also have 19 Butternut Squash that are bigger than a pound each, and a few Pumpkins. The Okra is still going as well as the Sunflowers. I still have 2 bushels of maters and the peppers will continue to grow. 

The pantry is looking good...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Care, Share, Thought, and The Deal...

Along side a country lane, chickens roam around the front yard, natural rocks decorate the land scape. A huge statue of a tree man sits in front of the house, with a hand painted Gourd Birdhouse hangs from the eves.

As you pass by you notice a log flower bed filled with weeds and flowers, and just beyond that is a wee little make shift food stand the has a hand written sign FREE on it.

SO as you keep going you remember a little spot you could pull over and sit out of view of the house where no one can see you. So you turn around and return back up the hill and you pull over. You take a few seconds to decide what you need, or take it all... You say to yourself that would be greedy... So you grab a couple maters and a squash, back to the car you go and now your on your way...

I wonder what people really think of my free food road side stand and the free food... Oh well, guess I might not ever know...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Real Homesteding For Real People, DANGER! (Graphic PG-13)

For most people here you understand how I live and the reasons why I live the way I do. It is a system that balances on many factors, some I can control, some I can't.

I know I have had ONE egg fried and savored in the last two months. No pancakes, no Souffles, no cakes, nothing that requires a egg. Sadly my old flock is in its senior years, and the girls are beyond their hot flashes and have just about stopped laying. I would cull them, but their are our first flock and I said I would only cull them if it made them live more comfy.

The new flock has had a Rooster, a kind gentle Silkie. I didn't know he had fight in him, but now I know he does, and he is ready to defend the flock.

Growing up on a Farm, you understand sometimes bad things happen. In order to secure the problem you have to look at the evidence and decide how and what happened. Even when you look at what is there before you, it isn't what it seems.

Joshua came in and mentioned he saw a Red-Tail Hawk looming in the trees near the coop and he saw one dead chicken and other stuff. We had just come home from Church and I was cooking lunch, but it was a Homesteaders worst fear, grabbing the gun to defend what is yours. I will defend my way of living and my food including my animals.

Wait... You can't shoot at a Hawk against the law, but my thoughts were different as he said he saw a dead chicken. I knew it wasn't a Hawk, a Hawk would carry its pray off to eat... But I knew that the killer was near and close by. I thought a dog was near by, and if lived by me and your dog entered my property line and killed my chickens, I would kill your dog. I have no relationship with your dog, my dog has been trained to guard the chickens and not harm them.

So as the evidence was there, a dead chicken laid at my feet, I looked at the method of killing and looked around the pen. It was the scene of horror for a chicken, a real reason why they are so skittish by nature. Piles of feathers, each pile near or around the edge of the fence.

I figured if a coon had made the kills, I would find more dead chickens as I had 7 still missing. I ruled out a yottie, and then a weasel was considered. I didn't know so we recovered the live chickens secured them.

After lunch I went out to look around and decided to make my "chicken call" just in case the girls had escaped some how and made a run for it... What do you know, they did, and they were still alive and called back to me!! Scared, but still alive, the Araucana ran to me (we are friends) and so she was happy and settled up in my arms. I called out to Danielle and Jessica to help me, I told Joshua where to go. We got four of them, the other three had been hurt pretty bad by the feathers in the pen. By evening they showed up ready for food and water.

I suspect a young coon came in and the rooster defended the flock while many of the got away. We did loose one chicken, and she was buried as she died unexpected and was honored.

The great news is that the girls have started to lay!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ѽ Modern Pioneer's Original Apple Chip Recipe Ѽ

 With all the recent request for my Wonderful recipe, I decided to blog it..

Modern Pioneers   Ѽ Ѽ Apple Chips Ѽ Ѽ
1/3 cup Cinnamon
1 cup cane sugar
nice pinch of Allspice (heavier pinch if you want the taste to lean towards Apple Pie)
Pineapple juice
7 pounds of choice apples (use sour apples for sweet/s
our chips)

I use two thicknesses, just over 1/8 for crunching chips, 3/16 for less crunchy. Cut Apples into desired width, placing the fresh slices into the pineapple juice until you fill the bowl. No need to soak them as they just need to be coated with the juice. the juice has vitamin C which will protect the color.

Mix the Cinnamon, sugar and allspice together blend well. Sprinkle over apple chips already placed on trays. Then dehydrate until crispy ( ⌚ 8-14 hours)

If you want to omit the sugar altogether you can do that but the flavor will be much stronger, and I agree healthier as well. You can do this in a oven, but I am not sure how that would work.

If you want to make some really different fun chips, consider getting a spiral slicer like this one. Great for other dishes as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Re-Claiming and Makng Useful Stuff (Pictures)

There is a lot to be said about keeping things you "might" use in the near future, then comes along the rules of how long to keep it. I know on at least a half dozen times, I have stuck to the rules. But wouldn't you know it in the near future I would need it. Sometimes, that is my luck... So I decided how rare or how many things could I use it for and what was the chance I was going to include it in a project.

I had some manure delivered a couple years ago, and the driver backed into my gate and crushed it, breaking off the post it was attached to. After bartering, I got another load for free and replaced the gate but I held onto the crushed one.

It was a 12 foot gate and too large to store, so I cut it down, did some tree pulling on it to pull out the bends as best I could. I attached a come-a-long with a strap around a large wild cherry tree and the other end to another big tree. Using a nylon industrial/farm strap, I positioned it several times along with the other strap to pull out the kinks. Some I couldn't get out, some I just repaired.

After I repaired them, I stored them away in my out building for a few years. They were out of the way because I hadn't remembered them until I needed them. When I built the new coop pen, I used both of the now two parts for entrance and exit gates as you will see.

 So each gate would have been around $70 retail or more, and the installation went quickly. 

Now the finished product is keeping my Silky Roo in with his girls and the critters out!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Canning Those Tomatoes/Sauces and Better Sauce Ideas

While waiting for the bumper crops to start, those tomatoes start to come in. I love to eat the wonderful fruits as they come in the house, having that kind of reward is so wonderful. I have, through the years come up with many uses as has Danielle. Coming from England she brings with her a different pallet as well as fresh eating ideas.

Along with those big round bundle of joys comes the start of the Paste Tomato harvest, Roma's. I plant Heirloom Roma's which don't grow as big as the ones at the store, but are packed with 2x more flavor and meaty goodness. As the war against GMO's continues, I couldn't tell you the differences of nutritional values between the two because I plant Heirloom seeds.

A few years ago I bought a few Roma's at my local GMO peddler store. I cut mine open and compared them side by side. Mine didn't have such an even color, nor was its shape perfect. Mine was smaller and didn't weigh as much and wasn't as plump. When I cut them open I could see right away mine was more compacted and wasn't as juicy. But the color inside was as rich as the outside color, the GMO fruit was whiter and had more runny juice inside. It had a much better shape and even blotted color.

When thinking about a sauce tomato, consider water content and pulp content as these are important qualities when making good sauces. Starting out with a good quality Heirloom Roma is the first step in making a good sauce.

Once the Roma's start to come in, just before the bumper crop, for a few weeks you will start to harvest a few pounds a week. The rate at which they start to come in increases every couple of days. This period last a couple weeks in my zone, and so I have to prepare and process those early Roma's.

Often I will process the first ten/fifteen pounds and freeze the pulpy juice and when the bumper crops hit, and I am in full processing swing, I will thaw that stuff out and mix it with my fresh tomato sauce. However, in both cases I allow my homemade puree to sit in a stainless steel bowl, covered in the fridge, overnight.

If your making your own stuff, homesteading or just being frugal, time and money is the two things we want to reduce. This can also help make us a better product. By letting the homemade puree sit overnight, the water content of the juice rises to the top, allowing us to skim it off so that it isn't stirred back into our sauce, reducing energy and cooking time to make a quality, thick sauce.

Even after canning, compare my approach to your traditional sauce by setting the two jars side by side on a shelf for a few days. You will see how much less water content my method has. Also your sauce will be thicker, richer and you will use 30% less energy making the same amount of product.

Although I adjust the Spaghetti recipe a little, I use the one found in Ball's Blue Book.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

POOW__TAT__TOE Dehydrating

This food has long been the staple in many parts of world, and I believe has saved lives as much as ended lives. Stupid people are still building and shooting each other with potato guns. Then there was Black 47 in Ireland, again the source of people dieing and starving because crops were wiped out.

One of those frequent questions I am asked about is how to do potato in a dehydrator?

Lets talk about uses, and the first would be to make your own Scalloped Potato oven dish... Then there are skillet potato's, trail potato dishes, and they are light and store really well. They are really affordable and come in big ole bags that you can just dehydrate for a week and turn a 100 pound bag into 25 pounds of goodness.

The process is simple to address, but I suggest having a food slicer as you will be able to get lots done in a short amount of time. If all you have is a mandolin slicer, use it.... I clean them well and leave the skins on for nutritional reasons.

Get a bowl of salted water beside your work station, fill a vessel or sink with cold water add ice, put a pot large enough to dump your potatoes in on the stove on high, salt it as well.

Slice your potatoes just about 3/16 of an inch thick and place them in the salted water at your work station. As you slice the potatoes, place them into that bowl making sure enough water to cover them. Once you have finished them take them to the stove and put into your boiling water. Watch the water as it heats back up. Once it returns to a small boil, boil for 6 minutes, stirring gently and often to separate the pieces, drain and place into cold water right away. Rinse then one last time and rack them into your dehydrator and dry them until hard.....

Pictured here on the right as they are temporary place in a zip storage bag next to a box bought big manufacturers product, which looks starch white and unnatural to me. A few years ago I bought a box sample from Harmony House Foods, which is one of the largest dehydrating companies in the world, and mine looked just as theirs did. So don't get all worked up over the less white look of your potatoes, unless they look nothing like mine.   
Barry Farm does sell a dehydrated cheese that you can buy pretty cheap and make up your own recipe or use mine. Either way, this will be a rewarding dehydrating project/food store.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chicken Popsicle Hydrate Them With Water and Scraps

In the hot, dog days of summer, I am canning outside trying to keep the house cool. Nothing says farm work to me like a glass of cold Iced Tea, touch of lemon and just a tad of sugar to take off the bitter edge.

As a child we always had water and goats milk, but goats milk had it's place, and Iced Tea... Come in out of the garden, bailing hay, farm chores or fields, the cool glass of iced tea hit the spot. It still hits my memory buttons like it was yesterday.

Chickens are no different than hard working homesteader or farm hand. They aimlessly wonder to forage for bugs and find cool places to get a good dust and cool off. Their feathers keep the heat in and they need to keep cool.

So, you can keep your veggie scraps, chop them up, and add them with water into a flexible plastic container and freeze. I like to add a little scratch just so they know I love them. From green bean ends, swiss chard, blueberries, blackberries, squash and even tomatoes. Over rip strawberries in the mix makes my girls go nuts....

Friday, August 3, 2012

Soul Food In The Garden

Many people that garden just do it, they just get on with it and you would know nothing else other than they grow their food. Some people garden to eat, share and be happy and enjoy giving food away. Some people garden because they have to, they will not eat well if they don't do something to lighten their food bill. I even know one 84 y/o man that swears that his hard work and gardening is keeping him alive.

Out of those four types of Gardeners, I am not one of them. Perhaps just a little part of each one of those, tossed in with some other types of Gardeners, that would be me. I am not alone either...

With sweat running down my face, dripping on my legs, the dirt from pulling weeds scattered all over me turning into mud while mixing with the sweat. My back sometimes hurts, I get mad all the weeds and want to surrender my garden to them as if they won some kind of war for my land. The on going battle with the critters, and the lack of or way to much rain at one time. Then there is the diseases to fuss with and all the ways to find out how to best handle them organically. It all seems like it would be better to just give up, cash it in, and try living like the mass population.

Then the feared canning day... Here it is in my house... alright I am canning tomorrow, that day, everyone get out of the way or you have a job to do. Danielle pitches in and ask if there is something she can do, I often have Joshua or Jessica helping out. But until I say so, I own that kitchen!!

Truth be known, I can't give up, my soul won't allow me to. I spent many years working my way back to the land and people I call home. I over paid for the property I now own, but I am not upset at that either. Because you know what, as much as I have worked my land, the land has worked me and my soul too. This is my little organic spot that I made, worked, and saw a vision when we first bought the property.

When I step into that Garden, my soul steps out and takes it all in. Sometimes I work in the garden and time flys, the sun sets and the air gets cool and I don't even know it till I finish my job.

When I start canning, as I move along, I know that a little piece of my soul goes into that jar. When the contents of that jar are used, that is my love feeding our bodies.

If you had asked me 15 years ago where I would be at today, well it wouldn't be where I am. I am so blessed with so many things, and I am so happy my wife, Danielle, allows me to continue. I would say I humor her sometimes I think, as I try some of the wackiest things. How many people do you know have a rain gutter full of dirt, growing Spinach on their property?

When the day comes I can no longer garden, give me a big pot and some seeds beside my bed...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Report: Mushroom Log Project

With the drought in full swing, I have had other worries on my mind other than my mushroom log tower. In the spring as it came in, if that's what you want to call it, I checked my logs after every rain. Time and time again I left thinking maybe soon.

As it sat on my mind from time to time, I became discouraged. I spent about $32 dollars and made a lot of effort to complete this project. I don't like wasting time or energy let alone money out of my self sufficient fund. Mark, would remind me to check my logs after he found some on his... It was a constant reminder that I had failed that project. My research, when I did the project had slipped my mind this past spring or the negative just masked it.

So I went to the farmers market and a man was there with a table full of Shiitake mushrooms, we began to talk and we covered the same conversation Mark and I had the day before. Then I decided to take what I had learned, what Mark and I talked about as well as the man at the Farmers Market and put it into action.

So Saturday, Joshua and I took the logs to the pond, lashed them together, and plunged them into the pond. Sunday, after church, we took them back out after a 24 hour soak. At first they just seemed water logged, so we continued to stack them up and I would return Monday to check them out.

Monday came and I forgot to check on them, so yesterday I went up and checked on them again. Oh, I had hoped that they would show signs of mushrooms growing, but I didn't want to lift my spirits to high so when I was disappointed I wouldn't have far to fall back. Life does that to us from time to time doesn't it?

So as approached the pile I saw something, a small round light brown looking thing... I had a closer look... Well, what do you know it WAS a mushroom. I quickly looked all the logs over... and they were EVERYWHERE!! I was so excited, I started to count them, then I saw two growing from one hole, I thought " hmmm reminds me of a double yolk egg... cool ". A brief few photo's, and off  I went to the house to make an announcement. I did and everyone was like "good for you", Jessica said "gross, I hate mushrooms", Josh walked out to have a look!!!

So here it is Wednesday, and here is a few photo's of my rewards.... But first, I gotta say this.... YES another self sufficient skill done!!! Off the SS BUCKET LIST!!