Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holidays on the Homestead

I'd like to talk about holidays your first year on the homestead... This thanksgiving was fun and quiet compared to what I grew up with. Thanksgiving when I was a kid was the whole family coming over for most of the day ... this would be at my parents house. Both sides of the family would come, my mom would have the turkey being prepped by 9 am so we could have a 2 pm meal. She'd also make the mashed potatoes, corn, cranberries, rolls/bread, veggie tray, polish sausage(polish family what can I say?) and the stuffing I have yet to master. Our relatives would bring a dish or two to add to our meal, my favorite would be a fruit salad my aunt would make with fruit cocktail and marshmallows, granted she had an interesting wild rice recipe too. Everyone would be at my parents house by noon and the men would be sitting around chatting in one room and the women would be in the kitchen chatting while cooking. The turkey would be golden brown(I've only ever managed to do this once), and everyone would be smiling and there would be a buzz of chatter at the table. I do miss those days, but I did enjoy my thanksgiving none the less.

After getting up on thanksgiving I baked some bread for a late breakfast, granted the kids had already eaten some cereal; but they appreciated it anyway. The kids spent the day taking turns on the computer and watching movies... and they were doing it themselves, we didn't have to intervene. I started my turkey at noon planning it to be cooking till about 5 pm, we were using a electric roaster as our oven was not big enough to cook it in. Well... and hour later it was almost done, I was a bit shocked but we just went ahead and made our mashed potatoes to go with it, first batch of them since getting our kitchen too. During all this time I had a pot of chicken soup base simmering on a back burner for the past couple of days, I was planning on using it for a turkey soup base for the leftovers. So for a 1:30pm-2pm meal we had turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and jellied cranberries (I'd love a good cranberry recipe if anyone can pass it on). Then around 5pm our neighbor came by with the extras from their meal for us and we had a second meal from that, it was mostly cold salads some potatoes, and stuffing, and a few extra rolls; but we still appreciated it.

After eating I took the one whole breast from the turkey that we had not eaten from and froze it. We will be having some turkey casserole sometime later this month, then I dropped every bone and all remaining meat fromt he turkey into our biggest stock pot and pour first the chicken soup base over it then added a lot of water, and an onion. The base had... onion,carrots,bay,rosemary,curry,hot peppers,celery, basil,peppercorns, and some leg quarter bones which had all been strained before adding it to the turkey. All that I added to the base was the turkey, another onion, some garlic right before it was done; it came out well we ate that soup for two days to get it down enough for me to freeze the leftovers and give the dogs a little bit.

I think my Thanksgiving went well, I do hope the winter holiday does too, I personally celebrate Yule, but I do hold Christmas for my kids and they know that I am doing so for them. We have to tone down what we are wanting for this holiday due to money and space... (our 7ft tree is -just- not going to fit in here), we are planning to get a Norfolk pine to use this year and in the spring we are going to plant it somewhere on the property and use it for our "outside" tree next year. I like to put out food on yule to the wildlife to give them a gift, which my/may not give them a hand through the winter. Generally its nuts (in shell), apple pieces,popcorn, and some bread... sometimes more depending on what we have, it is a tradition I have done since before my son was born and I want to keep it going. It is my way of giving back at least one day a year to those whose home we live near. I do hope everyone has a great holiday season and that you have some traditions you have made for yourselves that you continue every year.

Here is the thing though, when you do first come to your homestead, or even if your not on one but are having problems of any kind... make the holidays what you can, don't make yourselves an emotional wreak trying to "recapture" your childhood, memories are nice; but making new ones is better

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We had some fun today, yesterday before the severe weather came through the father of my daughters' friend came by with a trailer full of foam insulation for us. It was a surprise, even though the family had called us on Sunday to tell us they might know where there was some free insulation. The surprise was how much and the fact it was foam. Silver figured as did I that it might be a bag or 2 of batt insulation. That stack is about 3 foot tall and it is a double stack, we had known there was some severe weather coming so after we had stacked it we covered it with our extra 2x's that we haven't used yet.

So today after we warmed up (boy it was cold this morning...) we started to place the insulation. Well, Silver decided to try putting it up in the full sheets first; the first one went no problem and straight. The second one we tried we could not get up straight, also we noticed that only the first sheet we put up was a full one. All the other ones were different sizes. So we decided to cut them to fit in between the studs.

We did notice a ...small... problem when we started to place cut pieces between the studs. The top of the space and the bottom were different widths, it is a good thing Silver hadn't cut for every space before we started fitting them. Even with measuring the tops and bottoms for each cut there are still a few small gaps showing up, this is due to the amount the diffrence is between the two spots.

Due to the precise measuring we have to do.. and spending an hour trying to figure out where two of the dogs ran off to, we have only gotten 75% of the front ceiling done. We will be spending the day tomorrow finishing it, with the kids' help. We figured we'd tell the kids they are going to have to do some major weight lifting tomorrow (grins), you know how much an arm full of Styrofoam is.. its just so darn heavy!

I'd also like to say people here are very nice, our neighbor's with all the animals has asked if we wanted some salads and maybe a pie for thanksgiving. She likes a good sized meal for the day and goes all out it seems, and her husband doesn't eat a lot and she'd like to see it go to someone who would like to have it too. One of these days I'll have to send her some spaghetti sauce, I had sent some over to Mark Chenail's house and I do hope the guys enjoyed it. Have a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it!

Be Well and Blessed Be!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Musings on "Food Safety"

I read this article about a new bill (Senate Bill S 510 Food Safety Modernization Act) The article is here:

I have a major issue with the idea that the government could tell me if I can or can't grow something for myself, personally I do not plan to sell to farmer markets, and it seems at least at first it will only affect those people who produce $500,000 gross annually from their farms. Well... I'm not selling food so it shouldn't apply to me, but I do not think this bill is a good idea, yes something needs to be done about food safety; but the issue really is in the "factory" farms.

Those of us producing in the small scale have better product overall.

Check out this site for updates on it, the person writing on it seems to have a lot of info about it:
I know I'm going to watch this one come about... I don't want the government telling me what i can and can't grow for my family.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A few Thoughts

The other day after spending a couple days working on Mark Chenail's roof, we were driving home and it struck me. You know those "cramped" apartment stories everyone seems to have about when they were first married... well I guess I'm living mine now. Silver and I almost have an actual "bedroom" right now with 2 walls around our bed. (Yes I said the bed) The gap between the two walls we put up is about 2 and a half doors wide, and if I take 3 steps I am at my girls' bunk bed. With the "bathroom" next to us. The kitchen is at the foot of our bed on the other side of the wall we hung the upper cabinets on.

We have discovered the only bad thing about our lovely little kitchenette, the "tiny" (muuuuch smaller than tiny) freezer in it doesn't keep temp at freezing. Not much of a big deal to us as we have the deep freezer. As we bought our thanksgiving turkey today on our "normal" shopping trip I had to wiggle it into the freezer with the rest of the frozen things we picked up. We also made the kids very happy by making pizzas for dinner, they haven't had a pizza in months. "Outdoor living" can make it hard to toss a pizza in the oven LOL.

Speaking of the term "Outdoor Living" I heard on the radio a lot this summer about how to "live outdoors", and how much fun it can be. Yep... I wanna see them spend 6 months in a tent that had holes in it and no where else to sleep on bad rainy nights but your car. Then they might not think it's fun, then again also eating only canned foods is so much fun too. At this stage in my life that term is like "the simple life", I hear one of those and I shake my head. Soem things in life just need to be experienced rather than talked about.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Books on Pedophilia?

I have to admit while I believe in first amendment rights, I find that any company choosing to sell a book about pedophilia a heinous crime. "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct" by Philip R. Greaves II, is not something that Amazon should be offering to it's sellers. From all of the outpouring of outrage in the public Amazon has pulled it from their Kringle page.

While this in itself is a wonderful statement, people have bought it already and Amazon let it be put up for sale in the first place. Maybe Amazon needs to have someone watching for content that is illegal in nature, making something like this available to the public is just wrong.

Amazon is a private company, which means they had a choice in allowing it to be there. Many online sites such as FaceBook and Twitter have started groups against this book. There is thousands of entries online about it as well all running along the same lines of outrage. I don't think that if my children went on Amazon to make their holiday wish lists would I want them to even see this listed. Being a public site with anyone able to visit their site they do need to ensure that a child couldn't get into something they shouldn't, as now a days kids surf the webs in school. I guarantee that they are unsupervised doing so even at home. Yes the man who wrote this book has the right to write it... However that doesn't make it a good idea, nor appropriate.

I had posted my views on a site that I belong to online and most of the people (not all mind you) jumped me for saying Amazon shouldn't sell it because of 1st amendment rights, I also had a couple defend what I said about it being disgusting and that Amazon should remove it. It does show me that people do believe in freedom of speech... but that they don't care what that "speech" entails... as one of the people who responded to it said "A line has to be drawn somewhere"

Bright Blessing and Blessed Be...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For those who thought yesterday was fun...

How to wash your hair on the homestead (sans shower)

I have made a discovery since living out here and it's that you never appreciate things like showers until you have to do the following:

#1 find a wash basin of some kind that you can bend your head into.

#2 make sure you have enough water (again this might be hard if you have no well, if this is the case follow my suggestions for getting water on the last post)

#3 heat some water (again this might be hard, also you might want to watch the temps a bit closer than with dishes or clothes) I am sure you don't want the “OH MY GOD IT'S HOT” water.

#4 if you have long hair (anything past your shoulders) grab a partner as it is a team effort.

#5 pour your water into the basin

#6 pour COLD water into the basin as I'm sure it is too hot

#7 bend over the basin getting as much of your hair into the water as you can

#8 have your partner pour water over your head (watch the temps as hot for your scalp is different than hot for your hands)

#9 take hair out of water

#10 soap up hair (note you will be dripping water)

#11 put hair back in basin

#12 again have your partner pour water over your head

#13 Ring out water

Repeat for conditioner or dry

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Washing Clothes on the homestead

*Note this is verrrrrrry true!!!!

Without a well:

#1 Find a washing vessel, this can be anything that will hold more than 3 articles of clothing; with water of course.

#2 Make sure you have enough water to wash with (if so jump to step #4)

#3 go to your water provider via car (that is if you have the gas for it)

#4 fill a water heating vessel with half of your washing water, (what ever is the easiest)

#5 while waiting for water to boil place some clothes in the washing vessel, add soap if you are not using a bar soap. (note bleach on your hands hurt so if you want to do whites bleach them overnight in bleach water and wash them first)

#6 Once water is boiling hot add to your clothes in the washing vessel

#7 add cold water till you can touch the water (*note water will either be not quite hot enough or “OH MY GOD IT'S HOT” decide which way you want it to go)

#8 if using a bar of soap (which is the easiest) take one article of clothes and rub soap into a portion of it and then rub that part against the rest until soapy. If not using a bar agitate the water (note you may have to do some spot cleaning if there are some nasty stains)

#9 rinse off soap in washing water

#10 if necessary get extra water vessel to help rinse soap out and rinse again

#11 Wring out clothes (note clothes will be very wet even after you wring them out)

#12 hang clothes to dry depending on air temps and wind this can vary

With a well but before plumbing:

Follow step #1 then find/get/borrow a hose and hook up to your well and fill your water containers then continue at step #4.

With Well and plumbing but no washing machine:

Follow step #1 then fill from tap and continue at step #4

Washing dishes on the homestead:

follow above steps but change clothes for dishes

Bathing on the homestead:

follow above steps but change clothes for yourself

Monday, November 8, 2010

Work, work, Work.... and work and work...

Well we have been busy here... so much that I seem to have misplaced the cord to upload my pictures with from my camera. So I guess I'll just have to fill in with out the pictures for now. We put up the kitchen have it wired so it works, and it is so nice to be able to cook inside, -AND- have a refrigerator. We made out sawdust toilet and now it has a little room for it that is going to be our "unofficial" bathroom. Silver is putting up a medicine cabinet in it today. We got the kitchen plumbed over the weekend the only issue it seems to have is needing a couple of new washers for the faucet.

So lets see....

running water... check
electricity... check
bathroom... check
heat... check

Looks like we have an "official" house, and it is wonderful... now we just have to clean up from doing all this work. You wouldn't belive how much room making bunk beds give you until you put them in. We put in a built in ladder that my son also uses to get into the loft to his bed.

Today was supose to be our clean up day but we went over to Mark Chenail's to work off the kitchen he got for us. Silver spent the time up on the roof putting down metal. We are going back tomorrow to finish it, so I guess that means clean up will be on wensday. We have also put our deep freezer behind the bunk beds to free up some "TV" space so when we watch movies we can use a couch... and shockingly we got our couch in here after making the bunks, putting in the kitchenette, and building a bath room.

thats about it frt now

BE Well and Blessed Be...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shopping day part 2

Well we had some fun shopping yesterday, this is a heater we bought to better heat the shed. We also discovered that the $44 we spent on it was better than spending it on insulation that won't fully cover the inside, which means it really wouldn't help keep the heat in and our little heater wouldn't do anything if it gets really cold. This particular type is suppose to be best for drafty rooms. *looks around* You know with no insulation I bet this constitutes "drafty". We fired it up last night, and until we had to open the door overnight to let the dogs out to pee it was well above 40 degrees all night it hit just at 40 after letting the dogs out. I think it did well, and was a pretty good buy, but *gasps* I had to buy it at "Wally" mart as that was the cheapest price.

This is one of two packages of pine bedding we bought for our sawdust toilet, I think it was a good buy. $4.99 for "compressed" 3 cubic ft, it says that uncompressed it is 8ft. So we bought two of them as we are not sure how much we will go through in one month, I'd rather have too much than a week before Silver gets money trying to stretch one cup of pine bedding. We bought some 2x3's as the lumber yard with the $1.19 2x4's were out of stock, figures... so we spent $1.99 on 2x3x8's instead of the 2x4's we got cheaper, no biggie. We just used the remaining 2x4's we had to make a supporting wall for the loft as we put my son up their to sleep so we can have our "indoor" toilet.

Here it is our new toilet! I know the picture is outta focus, I guess at least one of my pictures has to be. It was funny as that is the toilet seat we had on the out house .. so for a short period of time we had no toilet. the kids had returned home from school before Silver finished it and of course one of my girls couldn't hold it and Silver had to rush to finish it. For now we have a curtain around it till we can build a wall, this way "little ones" can use the toilet; because you know how they have a hard time with those little bladders... uh-huh a 12 yr old seems to have a smaller bladder than me. I guess when ya gotta go you gotta go.

This morning we have to go out and pay for use of a laundromat (at the moment I don't have time to hand wash) then head out to Lebanon's free store and see if they have another twin mattress as we are one kid mattress short, and it would help to have a mattress when we make the bunk beds today. Our dogs were not happy last night with the change in the bed set up, they had gotten use to sleeping with everyone and now there is one less bed and kid for them to sleep with. Well they should be even less happy when we have the bunk built, Silver has to figure out how to get the kitties up and down from the loft. Right now they are using a log we leaned against it for them to climb up.

Here is a picture of "Crookie" perched on the climbing log, its actually funny watching him climb up and down. As since his stroke his balance isn't good and he is a very large cat he stretches all the way he can down it before putting his back legs even on the log. Now I have suggested to Silver to put this log back up with the bunk bed but in front of them using it as part of the ladder to the top bunk. The other girl will have to duck to get to her bed but that should work. Silver said he has to think it over, maybe we will find a solution today while we are out. So today's jobs are going to be run the plumbing for the sink, build the bunk beds and wire the computer and kid side of the shed; next month we will be buying insulation... it will cost around $200 to insulate this shed and well... I don't have it now after paying our bills and getting the wood and other things we needed. I did go out and buy some milk and have it in our new little fridge, it's so nice to have a fridge.

Be Well and Blessed Be...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our kitchen job day

This is the start of our work we did today to put in our kitchenette. This picture is of the supporting wall we needed to build for the upper cabinets, the whole thing combined is about 7ft 6in. After doing the wall Silver and I went over to our close neighbor to borrow their "haulin'" truck... it is an older beat up truck that does work... kinda. It took us 20-30 minutes to get the truck to start, it hasn't been moved in about 4 months and the transmission slips, well apparently it also had a totally dead battery too. Well we get the truck to the local gas station to put in some gas and discovered, yep the transmission slips as it needs fluid. OK put in gas added trans fluid, and it wouldn't start. We tried jumping it, nope; not the battery. Did find out there was a loose spark plug, and after about 10 minutes and jiggling the key we got it to turn over.

We arrived at Mark Cheneil's house and it was me, Silver, and their new handy man to load the kitchenette into the truck... we didn't risk turning it off to do this. We found out when Mark brought the kitchenette they used 4 men to put it inside their house, we used one disabled man (Silver), their handyman who has a cracked rib, and me to load it into the pick up.

We had a fairly uneventful trip back aside from the truck dieing at the intersection were the gas station is (maybe it was telling us it didn't like the gas station?). We managed to back the truck right up to the shed door and just shove it inside with out lifting it much, this next picture is just after we brought it into the shed and just set the whole thing down.

We just set the uppers on top of the base, we found out it even came with a metal back splash. To place the uppers on the wall we had to put up another 2x4 to set the upper on top of which sat on top of the metal back splash. The wire is behind the storage drawer under the stove. The fridge is under the three burners and the oven is small but bigger than using a toaster oven.

We also started our wiring the shed... which is up from running everything off of 4 plugs wired right into the meter. We actually have about 1/2 of the wiring done and also we have wired the kitchenette up, though to test the wire needed for it, as Silver was not sure what kind we'd need. We did discovered that the kitchenette originally needed the old plug in fused that when they blow you need new ones; it doesn't now. The good news? It works!~!!!!!!!!!!

And finally the kitchenette 85% done (need to plumb it still), and we are roasting chicken breasts and having fried potatoes with onions with it. I like having a inside kitchen!!!!!

BE well and Blessed be.....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shopping Day! part 1

Ok I think we did rather well on this shopping trip...:

entry cable (the wire that goes from the power pole to the box in house) at $.75/ ft for 18ft as it was the end of the spool, normally $1.30/ft

4 pvc pipes 10ft pieces for $1.43 a piece
the pipe insulation which I think are in 5ft pieces was the same price

the 2x4's which are around 6 ft(maybe bigger) were $1.19 each (not at LOWE's)

The rest is 7 double electrical boxes, a box of plugs(10pkg), pvc primer/sealant, electrical box, 2 15amp breakers, one 40amp breaker, 7 box plates, 25ft 10-2 wire 4 switches, and some random pvc fittings all for about $125 total.

The 2x4's were a -VERY- good deal the only problem was that the 2x4's weren't all good ones however the man at the lumber store let us take almost all the ones we needed in the good ones. at LOWE's a 2x4x8 is about $2 a piece so I think we didn't do bad with those 2x4's we bought.

We are going shopping for "supplies" again when Silver's next pay arrives, this buy will be mostly insulation and anything we forgot the first time. After of course we pay the bills.

Be Well and Blessed Be...