Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The First Fire of The Season....

Getting ready for the storm was like getting ready for any winter storm...

Tonight as I write, the first fire of the season warms this space, and the rewards of my effort of gathering, splitting and stacking wood to build this fire, gives me great comfort and reward.

There is no other heat source here in this space, only a gentle fire that has hot burning coals to ignite the next layer of wood. The light smell of smoke fills the air and brings my mind to many other days.... I added a hickory log and the scent gives me so many feelings....

I look and stare at the fire as if the flames are talking to me and look away only to wonder why I was looking and staring at them any way....

It is 35 degrees outside and I sit here in my space that is 67 degrees...

As I sit here and type, in my own comfort, I am pleased to smell the smoke, and have a fire to warm this space because it makes me feel right at home...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Holding a Value System For Everything Homesteading

As a Homesteader, I find that there are many different challenges to life that are expected and there are the ones that people just don't think it is going to happen to them. When they do, they almost always catch us off guard. Sometimes when our plate is already filled, it piles a little higher. Just when you get the plate clean and everything seems to be going well, it hits us like a lead balloon.

Many years ago I adopted many ways of life that could be considered Pagan and perhaps a little Hippy and over the top with Earthly love of the world and for others. That word "others" pertained only to those who were my friends and swung my way. If you weren't in with me, than you weren't part of my life and so I didn't care about you.

As I got older, I started to understand more about my way of thinking of life and all that is in this world. I began to go back to church. As I live my life now, headed to whatever comes my way, I find that keeping a value system in place keeps a balance in my life.

Many things I do I work close to God and all that he has blessed me with. People might not understand this part of me. There are many others just like me, people who love others, love the earth, respect animals and humans alike, and love the Lord for many reasons.

There is a value system for me, everything has value. From weeds, plants, trees, insects, animals and other humans male and female alike. I do my best to start with a heart of love, a heart filled with understanding... At times this seems like the hardest thing for me to do, but I do try.

The reason I am mentioning this in a blog because while your riding with me, remember you are riding with me... I have a value system and a balance of love for everyone and everything including God.

If your here just for the pioneering self sufficient ideas your gonna have to take my love for the Lord as well or you might leave me like a bad habit. Either way you decide, I am not going to change who I am or anything about me for you. These are my pages and I am glad your here, but don't tell me to stop mentioning the Lord from time to time.

This is a package deal, take me as I am....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Free Organic Materials, Labor Free...

Keeping up with the Jones, well that has benefits that I like...

Most suburbs have little trees, then comes country suburbs where they have trees but have a desire to keep their lawns spotless and perfect. In my neck of the woods, where the Deer Tick thrives, get rid of leaves has medical purposes.

Often along the side of the road of the country suburbs you will see a deer that was killed, so we know they travel there. So bagging up the leaves might get rid of a few ticks or more as well as keeping your lawn and house looking good.

I like those large, cheap paper leaf bags sold by stores... They are a good way to condition my eyes in the evenings while rolling through the local suburbs, makes me look for that color in the evening sun. So as I drive around looking for bags sat on the side I think about how easy it is to gather these bags up than to offer to rake other peoples yards to gather the compost material up.

Trailer in tow, I ride out to fill and stack it with these brown bags filled with others leaves. I get a few dog turds from time to time, but generally just leaves. I always knock on the door and ask, but if no answer, I gather them up.

The second load tonight....

I even have then doubled stacked in the back part of the trailer.....

Most people dispose of the bags and buy them knowing they are a one time use thing... However some people would rather hang onto them and think they have something on you and want you to rake their yard to fill the bags, hold your breathe on that one.. Nope I just roll on and keep finding the ones that people set out on the street, and smile and wave at the folks who think their leaves are so badly needed by me...

However, there is a way to reach out to folks that are filling those bags. There are people now that email me this time of year to give me their leaves that they didn't sit on the side of the road, but saved them for me.

So I give everyone a free bag with a MP card and a little note about why I took/needed their leaves. I find that giving something back is generally a very welcomed and surprise for those folks. It is good because it helps build relationships/friendships, and I like networking whenever I can.

It's also a kind gesture....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Raw Milk Turns Into Many Homestead Products

As I sit here this evening, while the cool fall air swirls around the trees to pull off the dead leaves and floats them to the ground, today was a good productive day.

You might remember the other night I went to a secret location and got some raw, right from the cow, milk. Now before you start posting your thoughts of how bad raw milk is for you, I will not listen to your nonsense. Your wasting your time preaching to me about all the things bad with raw milk, and if I wanted to waste my time I would combat and debate the issue with you. But I am not going to do that.

As I used a method taught to me by my Mom, I had confirmed the technique of separating the cream from the top of the milk. So out of the milk I got I ended up with enough cream to make nearly three pounds of butter. You see I dodged that "how much cream did you get" bullet? I didn't measure my cream as I should have because I forgot to and just moved into butter production first thing this morning.

So, I know your ready to get into the whole butter production, but I wanted to let you know in my useful gadgets I have a Mixer Stand like the one I used to make my own butter. One of these days I am going to blog a list of stuff I make with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

So I started out by allowing my cream sit overnight and then just chilled it a couple hours. I added some into the stand mixing bowl, and kept adding until the mixer was going on high and I always make a foil bonnet around it to keep it full.

 So as it starts to churn, it will thicken up and the milk and as you can see in the photo below, the level of milk has dropped compared to the one above. Generally I just keep adding cream until I get enough where I know my machine can handle the butter.

So by adding foil around the edge, tucking it in, I can fill my mixer up pretty full without spreading milk all over the kitchen.

Taking a peek in, can you see the noticeable change it texture and color?

Well it won't be long until my butter starts to clump and balls together. When it is at this point it is time to take it out and strain it.

Now it is time to start cutting the butter, if you don't cut it, it will become rancid very soon and you have wasted all your cream, time and effort. Cutting the butter with a pastry cutter and cold water will clean out all the residue milk that has been collected during butter making process. Ice cold water added, than cut it for a couple minutes, strain add new cold water, and repeat until your butter cuts clean in water. I use 1/2 cup cold water during my first cut and mix that with my buttermilk. The remainder several batches after the first one I toss out.

This is my last cut, clearly from the first photo you can see the water color get much clearer.

Now I will strain the butter one last time and begin to press it into containers for long term storage. Notice the water coming out?

Don't be afraid to poke your fingers down into the butter to remove the air pockets and the water will also continue to come out. Now it is time to smooth it out for long term storage...

Some advice, never share your source for raw milk by bragging about it, share with people you know if the farmer allows it. Make sure to visit your farmer and make sure they are a clean milker. If your lucky as I am, mine doesn't use hormones and mine grazers and produce organic milk for the market.

So tomorrow for breakfast I will have homemade buttermilk (made from my by product from butter production) pancakes with my homemade butter covered in my homemade maple syrup.... I feel pretty proud to say all those homemade words in one sentence....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Hunt, Pass The Powder Please....

The first season of black powder rifle hunting is now open. With a left handed 50 caliber in my hand I climb the hillside just feet away from my back porch to sit in or sometimes near my hunting stand to wait for the large herd of local deer to come around.

Because of the bear activity this year, I am cautious about entering into the woods so quietly, yet trying to be quiet enough not to spook the deer or it will be an all day wait. The damp nights have softened the leaves making my steps into the woods much quieter.So I offer up a few grunts not to draw in bucks because I can only kill Does right now. But rather startle a bear if they are near.. 

Out of all the different styles of hunting, I like the hunt using my black powder muzzle loader. Although it is a dieing style of hunting, no other style gives me the pleasure that I get when hunting. I often feel like it is a more even style of hunting rather than having a scope.

In years past, I had often toyed with the idea of tanning my hides without any direct action to do it and make it a practical self sufficient skill. However I am considering doing just that this year.

As the Crows have come back from the heat of summer, the smell of the morning fall is a welcomed smell as the cold morning air brings a chill to my bones as I tighten up my jacket. It is wonderful to see the sun rise from behind the mountains. These are just season reason why I have moved back to the country away from the big city.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall Colors and Seasons of Change Means Shifting Gears

I like Autumn, it does close Summer and puts a lid on the harvest season and opens a whole different mind set on the Homestead. I will be pulling down the solar water heater as the snow and temps no longer support it. The fall gathering of wild mushrooms, nuts and other free goods mother nature hands over is the final reward before hunting season opens.

Hunting season for me isn't about bagging the big buck, and so if he walks in front of my deer stand I will harvest him. I take no real reward in his rack, if it pleases the guy in the next stand over he can have him. I just want to get a buck that is legal and fill my other Doe tags for the food value. I always pass on smaller Does as I know there are plenty of older Does ready for canning. I also grind them up for Sausage, Bologna and Jerky. This year I am going to be keeping the Deer Liver for a Liver Sausage recipe that I found.

I look forward to small game hunting as well as fall turkey season with Joshua who just loves to bird hunt. This year he is excited to turkey hunt as I teach him to use a new turkey call. If I had dogs I would be shifting towards hunting more rabbits, but I am considering raising rabbits next year for food because having a beagle right now isn't on my list.

I will be priming the smoker this weekend for this years seasoning of food for me and my friends. Getting everything ready for winter means putting everything away and stored properly until next spring. I am considering setting up the Greenhouse but haven't decided to do it. I was thinking of putting it over the cold frame.

You have not heard me mention wood splitting as we did split some, but last year it was so warm, we have plenty of wood left over. We processed so much maple syrup, we will be selling off all of our goods this year. That money will sure up my SS fund pretty nice. I still have a few projects to wrap up for the season and do some clean-up and get ready for the holidays, hunting, and wintertime.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Winter Grains For Green Cropping in The Spring

As the weather gets cooler, the leaves start to die, the trees begin to fall asleep for the coming winter months. Daytime temps are a hit and miss as the weatherman tries to get us ready for the day ahead. The morning sun beams through the early morning fog as the dew drops from the blades of grass collect and drip.

The garden has given up the last of her bounty, and it is time to take down all that garden art that served to allow plants to grow and produce its food for collecting. Reflecting back to this years harvest, it has been a good year and the garden produced plenty of food as I had planned during the early spring.

It is time for me to get it cleaned up and till the soil over to turn in the skeletons and the last of the vegetable plants and the weeds that I allowed to finally win their space in the garden as it didn't seem important to pull out any more. A time does come, as a gardener, to just realize the garden is at a point where weeds can be allowed to grow.

A custom mixture of my own Grains and Legumes have been mix together and are now ready to be planted and allowed to grow before the winter snow comes. It is important to plant green crops so that in the spring it can be tilled in and nutrients from the green crop like nitrogen will be present. Side by side with my brown leaf compost that I will start building this fall, my garden will have a wide range of organic food to base my garden off of next year. Along with Chicken poo and cow manure, my garden will grow well again next year.

Here is a great mix that you can purchase already made for you. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Third Bear Encounter in a Week....

Tonight I had contact with the bears again, in fact there were four bears. I saw three clearly and heard one in the woods before I stepped out and they headed towards the wood line.

Last week, Sunday night from we came home from Bible Study and saw a Bear munching on our trash in the driveway. Friday night another bear made its way to my porch, and I noticed the dog got all weird and the next thing I heard was a bear moan. Well at the time I didn't know it was a bear, I went to the back door, it must have heard me too, and it headed back up the hill.

Don't get me wrong here, the dog always stays with the kids at the bus stop,  I am not to worried. It is concerning, why this year they have come closer than ever before. I suspect the drought and perhaps their food supply is very low as they search for food trying to fatten up for the winter.

Putting out the game camera to try to get some photo's and see how many more are around. My concern is the largest female, because we know what female bears will do to protect her cubs...