Canning, Critters, DIY, Essential Oils, Foraging, Garden, Pioneer spirit

My journey to becoming more self-sufficient…

 My journey started about a year and half ago. I started looking into how to cut back some of the chemicals that I used in our day to day life. I wanted to find recipes for soap, laundry soap, cleaning solutions etc. That is when I realized the more stuff I made, the more I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn the skills of yester-year. I wanted to know that if another depression hit, I could still provide for my family in a lot of ways. One aspect of learning that I still struggle with a little bit is frugality. I am really good with some things, and then other things I just want to ‘buy’ what I need to get the project done. Even if it means spending more money up front. This is something I am striving to work on. It is hard to shift your mindset from being a consumer to a producer. Our culture has taught us convenience, convenience, convenience. Pay more for something if it saves you time. I saw a quote by Robin Williams that said “We used to be hunter-gatherers, now we are shopper-borrowers.” I want to shift my mindset away from this thinking, but it is challenging when you are a working mom with 2 small children, but I strive every day to lean more towards frugality. Some of the skills I have learned in the last couple of years include:

– Canning (which I have found a passion for, I LOVE it!)

– I now make my own laundry detergent, cleaning products, body butter, chap stick, candles, body scrub, essential oil perfume etc.

– Baking bread (still learning this one, hard to get light fluffy bread)

– Hanging clothes on a line (not all of the time, but I try and dry all towels and bedding like this)

– Animal husbandry: chickens, quail, and bunnies (we have rescue bunnies as pets, not meat rabbits) I do use their poop for fertilizer, so they do contribute!

– Vermicomposting (Worm bins)

– Organic gardening

– Drying herbs and fruit, dried fruit tastes like candy 

– Sewing (still learning, I am definitely at the beginner level)

– I used to know how to crochet as a child, my grandmother taught me, so I would love to re-learn that skill

– Very small scale foraging (morels, fiddlehead ferns)

– Brew my own Kombucha (I will be doing a post on Kombucha soon!)

– Essential oils

Skills I would like to learn…

– Pressure canning (I have purchased a canner but have not tried it yet- slightly scared of blowing it up, not gonna lie)

– I would like to get better at ‘scratch cooking’

– Improve knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants

– Improve foraging skills

– Knitting/crochet

– Making ACV

– Fermenting

Beeswax candles, I bought the wax from a local Apiary
Salsa made with heirloom tomatoes
Pickles!
One struggle that I have encountered is that my ‘housekeeping’ has suffered a bit in this process. I now have so many things to do outside, watering, weeding, feeding animals, cleaning coops and hutches, that I have noticed the inside has taken a backseat a bit. I have to learn to give myself some grace sometimes. When you are raising young children and working, now with the added outdoor duties, you have to learn to prioritize. That has been a learning curve for me. I am working on it every day.

Some of my role models on this journey include:

Eve Kilcher from the show ‘Alaska the Last Frontier.’ She is an amazing homestead women. She has skills that would blow your mind. Watching her is extremely inspiring, they live off the land and between her and her husband Eivin, and they provide almost 100% of the food they eat. They grow enormous gardens, hunt, fish, and raise their own animals for eggs, milk, and bees for honey. It really is an amazing shows to watch and learn from.
Another role model is actually a friend of mine who owns a 7 acre horse farm. They board horses, raise and breed chickens and geese, grow food, preserve, bake etc. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people is so important, because you will encounter people that think what you are doing is weird, and they won’t understand. People will say, “but why would you bake bread when you can buy it at the store?” or “Eggs are 2 bucks a dozen at Walmart ya know.” So being part of internet communities and finding people in your area that have the same passions will motivate you to keep going! Leading a more simple life isn’t ‘easy’ but it’s definitely worth it! 
😄

Foraging

Foraging

This is one aspect of living a sustainable lifestyle that I struggle with a little bit. It is intimidating, and I am afraid I am going to screw up. There I said it. I’m scared. So many wild plants are delicious, and have awesome medicinal properties. Not to mention if you hit the jackpot on something, it saves you on the next food bill. I am just afraid of what *could* happen if I identify something wrong. For example, Queen Anne’s Lace is also known as a wild carrot, you can dig up the root and eat it. Poison Hemlock looks very similar and can make you really sick!

So, because I am a nervous Nelly, I stick to Morel mushrooms, Fiddle Head Ferns and wild Strawberries. I know them, and can identify them.
Morels have a pretty distinct look, but you still do have to be careful. There are false morels. The way you can tell the difference is to cut one open. If the center of it is hollow, it is a true morel. If the stem goes all the way up, it is a false morel – DO NOT EAT a false morel!!!

It’s hollow!

Fiddlehead ferns are also easy to identify, I have looked everywhere and cannot find the photos I took of the ferns I picked and cooked. They happen to be growing in the back of my parents’ property, so that was a bonus. Fiddlehead ferns do have to be cooked though. There are instructions on Wikihow on how to prepare them. I sautéed them in butter, and it was delicious. They are very expensive to buy at the grocery store, so it is bonus if you can find them and eat them for free. Also, do not eat them if they are open, they taste the best when in a tight spiral.

Happy foraging!  🌱🌾

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