This summer around the homestead has been full of victories in the garden. Our peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, spaghetti squash, pickling cucumber, celery and straw/black/rasp berries all had a great year! Lots of drying canning and freezing going on in this house hold.
I started all my flowers from seed this year, and they were amazing. I had marigolds, petunias and zinnias. I really think they help to bring the pollinators in when you inter crop them into your veggie garden.
Some of the sad news from this summer… First we had several quail die from and unknown illness 😦 and then a predator killed 5 more. I know have to lock them up at night, I always used to let them access their run at night, but I can no longer do that. We have eggs in the incubator as I type this so hopefully we will have replenished birds soon. Our neighbour also called the town to tell on us for having chickens (we only had 2 🙄) so we ended up having to bring them back to the farm we purchased them at. My town only enforces the bylaw on chickens if someone complains. She literally said nothing for 2 years, her husband passed away, and almost immediately called the town after that. I could tell the bylaw officer felt bad, he said you have a beautiful yard and a nice coop, and these animals are well tended, but they have to act on complaints. Very unfortunate, but I will be fighting to get the bylaw changed. The neighbouring town bylaw allows for 3 hens, so I’m hoping to make that change! Thanks for stopping in, I hope you all are enjoying your summer! 🐝🦋🌱🌸🌻🌼🌞⭐️🌈
Yesterday my family went out and harvested most of the remaining carrots and some of the cabbage that was ready to pick! We got quite the haul! Yesterday was a true testament to the importance of letting your kids play outside and including them in homesteading chores:Sunday morning was brutal! My 4 year old and three year old were fighting all morning. Arguing over toys, books, anything! They were yelling at each other, tattling etc. I was trying to get some house work done but I thought I better get them outside and playing, maybe that would decrease the tension. I brought them outside, gave them their gardening gloves and away we went. For 2 full hours they did not argue one time. They were laughing together, helping me pick and wash carrots! They gathered all the carrot stems up and fed the bunnies, chickens and quail. It was like a peace and calming washed over the whole family. Not that a homesteading life will always be rainbows and butterflies, but I believe that afternoon was a true testament to the importance of giving children age appropriate tasks and responsibilities. This is the type of ‘education’ they will never receive in school. It is one that generations past always gifted their children. We as a society have to get back to teaching our own kids how to garden, cook, forage, animal husbandry etc. If we don’t do it no one will, can you imagine a society where no one knew how to do any of these things? It’s a scary thought.
Back to the carrots and cabbbage…
Most of the carrots I peeled, chopped, blanched for 3 minutes and then froze them in ziplock baggies for use in a nice fall time soup!
The rest I left dirty, unpeeled, in a brown paper bag in the fridge for use later this week. I am going to cook them with a nice pork roast.
The cabbages I cut into quarters and blanched for a few minutes and they went into the freezer as well!
Thanks for stopping in today!
My family and I visited Genesee Country Village yesterday in Mumford, NY, and to say it was amazing would be a huge understatement. It is the largest living history museum in the U.S, and is on a 600 acre parcel of land. There were animals, gardens, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, yarn spinners, shops, brewery, shoemaker, apothecary etc. The fully furnished cabins were beautiful and quaint, but also showed the struggle the early pioneers would have faced. Disease, starvation, injury, doubt and missing your extended family would have plagued these brave people during their journey to homestead west. There are 49 outbuildings in this ‘museum,’ and one was as awesome as the next! They were as early as 1807 all the way to the early 1900’s. The best thing about it was there were ‘pioneers’ in each house living out what would have gone on in this time period. The blacksmith was making nails, the tinsmith was making lanterns, there was a man making buckets and butter churns, a potter making a fermentation crock, a women spinning wool into yarn. My kids had eyes the size of saucers and they learned so much in that short 6 hours day.
Going to this living history site made me yearn for the simple life even more than I did before. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad we have the medical advancements we have now, and I am thankful that if my garden doesn’t produce I *can* run to the grocery store and buy food, my kids won’t starve. It just made me realize how hard these people worked and how they had to constantly think ahead and prepare for the next season. One cabin had dried mushrooms on strings, dried herbs hanging from every beam, fermentation crocks filled with pickles and kraut, cheese drying, bread baking and food in a pot over the open fire. They didn’t have mason jars and fancy canners, they didn’t have food processers and driers. They had the sun, the air, salt and the sweat of their brow to preserve food. You couldn’t look something up on the internet, everything was trial and error. Winter was long and you had to have enough food put away for your family and livestock! I can’t imagine how much work that would have been!
The courage it must have taken to leave everything you know behind and trek across the country to endure the unknown is something many people in this lifetime will never experience. I am glad they have this 600 acre reminder of what life was like a few hundred years ago so we can appreciate what our ancestors would have endured. As hard as this life would have been I truly believe these people lived happy, simple lives and were surrounded by their loved ones. No one was rushing off to work in a cubicle, facing a miserable commute in a car they couldn’t afford. You didn’t run around like a maniac shuttling your kids from activity to activity. You didn’t have a 25 year mortgage on a house hanging over your head for most of your adult life. People lived and breathed family life, taught their own children hard work and discipline and people believed in the sanctity of marriage. So really, who was better off, us or them? It’s definitely up for debate.
We have 8 jumbo Coturnix quail on the homestead. 1 white, 1 white/wild, 2 Italian, 1 tuxedo and 3 wild. We ordered the eggs from Manitoba, Canada and had them shipped to Ontario. A friend of mine who has a farm business hatched and brooded them for me, and we received them beginning of March. They are now 8 weeks old and we have been patiently waiting for them to lay eggs, and today is that day!!! When I walked out to our small barn this morning there were 4 eggs laying in the wood chips! I almost didn’t see them! This is a big day for us, one less food item I have to source locally, or buy from a grocery store! All the work has been worth it! Animal husbandry is a lot of work, and when you are getting nothing in return it can seem a bit frustrating, but those eggs make it worth it. I know when I feed these eggs to my children they have not been tainted with hormones or antibiotics, and I know they came from healthy and happy quail. Plus, we do love watching our quails, they are funny and quirky. They are hilarious to watch in their dust bath, they just fling that sand all over (I also add some diatomaceous earth in there for extra mite/lice protection). I can’t wait to make some pickled quail eggs, Yum!
Some other happenings…
I have always struggled a bit with trying new things and new recipes. I am not creative in the kitchen and really have to force myself to try new things with different vegetables. Growing up I was not a big veggie eater, so I only have my go-to ways of preparing each veggie that comes out of the garden. I also grew a few things in my garden that I wouldn’t normally buy at the grocery store, to push myself to try new things! I am really trying to broaden my horizons to ensure I don’t get ‘bored’ of veggies and want to eat junk instead (I am sure I am not alone in this struggle!).
So this weekend I made baked zucchini chips from the garden!
Harvest your zucchini, cut in thin small slices, coat in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spray a baking sheet, lay out the zukes and cover them with parmesan and panko. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 mins.
Crispy and delicious. I only have pictures of the first few steps because I got so busy cooking and entertaining guests that I forgot to take a picture of the end result. Oops! Scatterbrained, what can I say! Trust me, they were good! 🥒
Kombucha is a great drink to have around on the homestead, or any home for that matter. It is easy to brew, tastes great and has many health benefits. People have been drinking it for thousands of years. It is essentially a fermented tea that becomes carbonated when fruit is added to it. The way it ferments is by adding a SCoBY to brewed tea. SCoBY stand for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.’ When it is added to brewed tea and sugar, the yeast and bacteria consume the caffeine, tannins and sugar and the tea ferments, creating a wonderful drink full of probiotics.
Kombucha seems confusing at first but it is actually quite simple. There are kits online where you can buy a SCoBY and starter liquid, however, there are also Facebook groups that sell them for the price of shipping. Which is usually only $10-$15. I belong to “Kombucha Nation: Cultures, Health and Healing!” and it is a great site, and there is a ton of knowledgeable people that have been brewing for years! They allow you to post pictures and ask if your brew looks ok. There are references and recipes too!
What you will need:
1 Gallon Glass jar (I bought a Ball jar that cost $20 at Canadian Tire) you can buy one with a spigot, but the spigot has to be made with 304 SS or higher grade, no plastic!
2 cups of ‘starter’ (I will explain below)
1 coffee filter
1 rubber band
8 tea bags (no flavored teas with oils, should be black, green or oolong)
14 cups of distilled water, or boiled tap water
1 cup of sugar (white sugar works the best and really cannot be substituted – do not use stevia, honey or artificial sweeteners, the bacteria and yeast consume the sugar and it is important to the fermentation process)
1 wooden spoon for stirring that is really clean
White vinegar (for cleaning only!!!)
Sterilize your gallon jar buy washing it with hot soapy water, then with white vinegar and rinse
Boil your 14 cups of water, add 8 tea bags, add one cup of sugar and stir, let cool
Pour cooled tea and sugar into gallon jar
Add 2 cups of starter (when you buy a SCoBY the person should give you 2+ cups of fermented tea with the SCoBY, this is called ‘starter’ and it is important to have enough of it so you don’t get mold)
Add your SCoBY (it usually floats to the top, but not always)
Secure a coffee filter over the top of the gallon jar with a rubber band, this keeps the fruit flies out. Do not use a tea towel or anything like that, they can get in the smallest holes. The coffee filter is not penetrable, but still breathable.
Do not use a metal utensil to stir or touch your kombucha.
Let the tea ferment for 14-21 days.
If for any reason you see mold, DO NOT consume it. Throw out all contents of the gallon jar and re-sterilize everything. The SCoBY cannot be re-used.
Never add vinegar to Kombucha! You can get vinegar eels. Blech!
Do not keep near bread products or fruit (incase mold develops), or other ferments. You risk cross contamination.
Keep in a warmish, dark place in the kitchen. If it is really cold it takes forever to ferment. If it is really warm it will ferment quickly!
By the end of the 2-3 weeks, you will see a new ScoBY forming on the top. This is the baby to your original mother SCoBY. You can save all your extra SCoBY’s in a ‘hotel’. Glass container with lid, add all your SCoBYs some fermented tea, and they will keep for months. You can also give them to people to share the wealth!
This first process is called your 1F, or “first ferment” in the world of Kombucha.
Now onto your 2F or “second ferment”
Buy glass bottles that are rated for carbonation. Do not buy decorative ones or they will explode!!!
I use ‘GTs’ Kombucha bottles. I bought a bunch of pre-made Kombucha at local health food store, drank all the Kombucha (which is delicious) and saved the bottles.
First sterilize the bottles by boiling them for 5-10 minutes.
Let them cool, and fill them with tea (save a bit of room)
Add fruit or fruit puree.
I have added cut up grapes, pure grape juice, ginger, raisins etc. This is what gives the tea carbonation.
Burp your bottles every couple days so that the carbonation doesn’t build up so much that it bursts through the top when you go to open it.
2F takes 2-5 days, just keep an eye on it!
*Kombucha needs to slowly be introduced to your diet, because it is a ferment it can cause gas and tummy upset if you drink too much at once. So start with a few ounces a day and build from there. It also flushes toxins, so be sure to also consume a lot of water when you drink Kombucha*
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health food professional. I am just giving information based on my personal experiences. Please use it responsibly, and research other information!
I just did a small batch, I didn’t have enough radishes to make as much as I would have liked! I used the radish I grew and I also purchase some from a local, organic farm that grows them on a much larger scale then I do. However, we just harvested some more so I will make another batch tonight! Canning is such a great skill to learn, there is such a sense of accomplishment when you hear the *ping* of the lid sealing the mason jar. It’s food security. I would love to have an entire pantry full of canned preserves and dried goods! Maybe one day 😋
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
– Making ACV
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!