Monday, September 24, 2012

How do you do it all? I DON'T!

Often, when I'm posting on Facebook or talking to someone about the projects we do, people often say, "I don't know how you do it all!  I could never do all that!"

The main thing to remember is that you need to focus on what you CAN do or HAVE done.  Just because I accomplished XYZ  today, probably means that I had to let something else fall by the wayside (usually housework and laundry).  I try to accomplish at least one small thing every day that falls in line with our sustainable lifestyle.  Whether it's making laundry soap (takes 5 minutes) or making and canning sauce from the tomatoes from our garden, which takes all day...  Every task is an important one.  Often, I feel so far behind, that I post everything I have done as a reminder to myself that the small steps are important and they count too.  Putting all you have accomplished in writing really helps to put things into perspective and validates that yes, you are moving in the right direction.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Measuring Independence

I don't have much time to write lately, as the pigs have been very challenging to keep contained, and with a 2 month old baby, you can imagine our hands are full.  I thought today, as I'm feeling frustrated, I would try to measure how far along we are in our self suffiency.  Following are things we don't have to buy now (if we don't want to), that we either harvest, grow, raise, or make ourselves:

Milk & cheese (goat)
Laundry detergent
Dishwasher detergent
Jams & Jellies
Spaghetti sauce
Produce (for now, from our garden)
Soon, we will have meats (rabbit, pork, goat), and if fate allows, we would love to have a mini-jersey cow to make butter and cheeses and have cow milk (the kids don't care much for goat milk).  Hopefully, next year, we will have apples (this year's crop was killed by a late frost), pears, cherries, and peaches.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Winter's Coming!

The last couple nights and mornings have been exceptionally cold.  It's starting to feel like Fall!!!  Autumn is my favorite season.  Pumpkins, apples, soups & chili, baking, changing foliage: All those usual things that come to mind are great, but there's also something about Fall that stirs up some primal instincts in me that I love being in touch with.

Preparing for winter, though hectic sometimes, is fun and satisfying.  Sprucing up animal shelters, stacking firewood, freezing and canning the garden harvest, making sure we're stocked up on paper goods and supplies, and freezing batters and doughs so we can bake (thus heating the house) at a moment's notice...  It's all part of providing for our family, so should we be snowed in for days or even weeks, we have all we need.  Consider it extreme nesting, prepping, or whatever you want, I love knowing that should we be cut off from the world during the winter, we will be snug, fed, and happy....  Actually, I'm kind of hoping for it :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What if We Had to.....

With all of the problems facing our country and the world - economic difficulties, civil and political unrest, natural disasters, droughts, pollution, etc., I often find myself wondering - if life as we know it changed tomorrow, would we be able to provide for our family for an indefinite period of time?  The answer for us is, "Not yet, but we are getting there"....  For right now, just being able to provide a few meals a week from our garden, animals, and food storage (flour, sugar, etc.) provides a sense of pride and a connection with our land makes it all worth it.  As it stands now, we don't need to buy eggs, bread, milk, produce (except for exotics and we will have to buy in winter), fire wood, or water.  All of that is provided by our land, our animals and our labor.  I also make our own laundry soap, body soap, and candles.  By this time next year, we will have our own pork and rabbit meat, and be able to trade those for beef from friends of ours.  Hopefully, the fruit trees and grape vines we planted this year will start producing next year as well.  So while we are still far from being totally self sufficient, we could be self sustaining if we needed to be, and that's a good feeling!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Got Pork?

WE DO!!!  This past weekend, we purchased a breeding pair of Yorkshire/Duroc cross pigs.  The sow is a year old, and the boar is about 7 months.  She is bred and due to have her piglets around 11/21.  I have named the breeders Porky and Petunia.  Out of the litter, we will probably only keep 3 or 4 for our own butchering, and sell the rest as piglets.  If anyone is interested in any of the piglets once they are weaned, please let me know.

Temporarily, the happy pair has a lean to within our electrified goat pasture.  Soon, James and the boys will be fencing in our lower pasture for them and building 2 separate huts and dividing the pasture so that when Petunia has her babies, we can separate Porky from them so that he doesn't eat any of the little ones.

I am hoping to find a local resturant (or an employee) to give us their prep scraps for the pigs as well.

I can't describe the feeling, knowing that soon, we will have our own perpetuating supply of delicious, natural, grassfed, homegrown meat!  It was one of the big missing pieces on our overall homesteading plan, as free range chickens give great eggs, but the meat is lean and tough.  We will also be aquiring a couple of rabbit bucks to breed with our does soon, so that we have a good supply of delicious (don't knock it till you've tried it!) rabbit meat.

I have a short term goal of being able to cook at least 1 meal a week this winter, made entirely out of foods we have grown, hunted, or raised on our homestead or made from scratch using minimal store bought staples.  Wish me luck!

The Canning Bug

I have always been fascinated with the idea of canning.  Afterall, what could be better than preserving something that you grew from a tiny seed in your own land,and seeing it grow, ripen, and create something delicious that could be enjoyed year round?  After years of wanting to learn, I finally took the steps necessary to learn this invaluable skill for myself.

Several months ago, I took a canning class from Karen Allen, owner of Old Barn Hallow in Binghamton, NY.  I'm now hooked.

Since taking her class, I have canned blueberry jam, blueberry pie filling, dilly beans, green beans (pressure canner), and candied jalepenos...  I'm hoping to get some peaches this week to make preserves and can slices.  It's going to be amazing this winter, to open up a little jar of summer that I preserved myself.  Soon, I would like to start canning some meat in my pressure canner, especially since we are hoping to get some deer this year, and thanks to our two new pigs, we will have an over abundance of pork eventually.

What are some of your favorite canning recipes?


As I'm having my coffee this morning, the air is cooler than it has been and it feels like Fall, my favorite time of year.  Sitting here, with my baby cooing and the house all quiet (except for the dryer and baby sounds), I'm reminded of all the blessings I have to be thankful for...  As stressful as life can be, if you count your blessings, it helps to put things into a clearer perspective.  Today, I plan on reflecting on how thankful I am for my husband, our children, our little home, the bounty we are harvesting from our garden, our animals, our extended family, our friends, and the knowledge that someday we will see those we have lost, in Heaven.  Thank you, Lord, for granting us this life and the means to live it well.