The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Please Enjoy the View

Hi Folks. Just wanted to let you know we haven't forgotten you, it's just real busy here right now. At about 10:00 last night when we finally got to sit down for the evening, I told Frank, "We don't have anything for the blog or for your class tomorrow night, and it won't get done tonight." We were pooped. Frank and crew had been working on the greenhouse for six hours in the hot, humid weather, and I had made cheese and worked on mulching the garden. The day flew by and before we knew it, the day was done, and then some. We will be busy all day again today, and Frank's second class is tonight, so please enjoy a few pictures we have accumulated over the past few weeks. I'll even give you a sneak peak at the greenhouse, although it is farther along than my pictures show. By the time everything was done, I didn't get a picture of the final progress from yesterday, but it will give you an idea. Please enjoy the view. 

Have a great day!

Until next time - Fern

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let the Canning Begin!

You know those horns that were blown when the king arrived in the arena for a jousting tournament? Picture that sound.

Let the canning begin! 

[I don't know why the spacing in the rest of this article is not single spaced and I can't figure out how to fix it. I'm sorry for the changing format.] I was excited this morning to know that today is the day that I started filling jars with food so I can fill my pantry shelves. As usual, I had so many things in mind that I wanted to accomplish today, that it is impossible to do in one day. Well, that's okay. I did get a lot done, just not as much as I would have liked. I always start off a canning session, and especially a new canning season by reviewing the manual that came with the canner. We have highlighted the most important information to make sure we are using it correctly.
When I first started canning, I was afraid of the canner, feeling like it might explode or something. Now, I am not afraid. I am very careful, make sure I follow the directions, use all standard safety precautions, and just good ole' common sense.


Our first harvest of Cushaw winter squash came to about 28 pounds from four squash. This is great! Not only is Cushaw a good keeper and nutritious, it tastes good. Since I have not included any winter squash in the articles on nutrition, I want to include it here.

  • calories 80 
  • carbohydrates 17.9g
  • protein 1.8g
  • vitamin A  10,708 IU
  • vitamin C 19.7mg
  • vitamin K 9.0mcg
  • folate 57.4mcg
  • choline 21.7mg
  • calcium 28.7mg
  • magnesium 16.4mg
  • phosphorus 41mg
  • potassium 896mg


I wanted to start off my canning day by putting these four squash into quart jars. I quickly realized that it would take more than one batch to can this much Cushaw, so I decided to get out our second canner. We have had it for a while, but basically got it for a back up, just in case we ever needed to replace the one we usually use, or like today, that we had a lot to can. We use an All American canner that does not have a gasket, and have been very happy with it. Until today. Well, I'm still real happy with our older canner, but for 
some reason, the new one will not seal well enough to produce 10 pounds of pressure. We tried and tried and tried and tried, about seven times, to get it to work. The first four times were with my seven quarts of squash in it. By that time the old canner with it's seven quarts was finished and we moved the squash from the new canner into the old, and fired it up again. It worked like a charm.

If anyone knows what we might try with this new canner, please let us know. I recleaned and relubricated the sealing plate; re-read the manual for any indications of what to do; checked the pressure blow off valve, and checked the pressure gauge opening and they all appear to be functioning properly. The vent valve works great and allows a full spout of steam to escape during venting prior to adding the 10 pound pressure regulator weight. After the weight is put in place, the canner starts steaming around the lid instead of building up pressure. Frank finally got it to go up to five pounds of pressure the last time we tried it empty, but that is as far as it will go. I will try to call the company on Monday to see what their recommendations are.


I had planned to cook and peel the beets after the squash was finished in the canner, with plenty of time to can them with the few cowpeas I have. Both need to be pressure canned, the beets for 30 minutes and the cowpeas for 40 minutes. Since I don't have very many of either, I will can them at the same time. Tomorrow. I did get the beets peeled, so they are ready to be sliced and put in jars. I shelled the peas I picked this morning while the beets were cooking.


I didn't think I would get to everything, and I didn't. So, now I also have carrots and green beans to can tomorrow. I'll do the same thing with them since the carrots need 25 minutes and the green beans need 20 minutes. I finished snapping the green beans I picked this morning while the last batch of squash was in the canner.

Since there were about two quarts of squash left over after I filled the 14 quarts, and Frank was gone looking at some antenna towers a man had for sale, I baked the rest of the squash for lunch. And since the stove top was busy, I peeled a few of the small turnips I had harvested and baked them with some simple meatballs made from ground meat. That gave us a good meal without interrupting the canning process.

It has been a long busy day, but a very good one. I can see where we will have many more jars of squash on the shelf, both winter and yellow summer squash. They are both very nutritious and easy to use in many different dishes. We will keep some of the Cushaw to store fresh, but will wait and harvest the keepers later on in the season. For now, I will can as many as we harvest. 

Our beet harvest has been very small so far. I hope to be able to grow many, many more before winter sets in. I would like to have about 70-80 pints on the shelf. And the same with the carrots, and green beans, and...... Everything! I am glad the time has come to preserve the harvest. Like many folks around, I feel pressed to grow and store as much food as we can. The unprecedented rainy spring has delayed the harvest of many crops in our area. I sure hope we can make up for lost time. In the meantime, I am planning our fall crops and will continue to plant many more seeds before the year is out. And by the way, our greenhouse is about halfway finished, and it is beautiful. When I look at it, I don't really see a greenhouse, I see food. This will give us the potential of growing food year round. I will show you the finished greenhouse and explain our plans before long. 

Find your calling in the hard times that come. We all have talents and abilities that will be needed. Be ready to put yours to good use. Frank and I have found over the past few months that there are and will be things that we don't do together, which is different for us. We have always done things together. Building projects, homestead chores, washing dishes, everything. But now our roles are changing a little. Today while I harvested and preserved, Frank worked toward the communication abilities for our community network. Then this evening while I did the chores, he visited with a gentleman from his class, answering questions and discussing the capabilities of different kinds of radios and antennas. We talked about it after I came back in from the chores. You see, I feel like the time and effort he is putting into radio communication could very well save my life one day. Just as much as the squash I am putting in jars. Find your calling and increase your abilities as much as possible. It could save your life one day as well.

Until next time - Fern

Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Independence - freedom from outside control or support; the state of being independent; the time when a country or region gains political freedom from outside control

Independent - not governed by a foreign power; self-governing; free from the influence, guidance or control of another or others; self-reliant

Frank & Fern

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ham Radio & Survival Communication Class, Volume 1

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

Well, Folks, I did something last night I haven't done in four years. I actually taught a class. Except this time, it was a group of adults, and this time, my clientele was not a group of teenage prisoners. They weren't high school, public school kids. You know, prisoners. This group extended from probably about 19 to, I'm going to say, 65 years of age. We had some laughs, which remember, Humor is the Essence of survival. 

Our local emergency management director spoke for a little while at the beginning. I invited him, I wanted to thank him for providing us with the materials that we used. This also provided him the opportunity to address some of the needs of the local folks where they live.

We started off by using the Romanchik, KB6NU, new Technician's manual, which is a great way to help get the Technician's license. We got into the very basics of it, the first few pages of the manual. This deals with E = I x R and P = I x E. You see folks seem to think that you have to learn a lot of formulas, but you really don't. I showed them a couple of shortcuts that actually work.

Wouxun & Baofeng

Then we did a little show and tell. I showed a handheld, which in the ham world called an HT, which is a handy talky, and the non-ham world is called a walky talky. 

I took the radio apart, which means I took the battery and the antenna off, and showed them the three basic components of the radio system. These are the basic components of any radio system, which are the battery/power supply, radio and antenna. For demonstration purposes here, I am using a Wouxun radio, which is a $120.00 radio. The Baofeng radio above is the $35.00 radio.

Then I showed them how you could eliminate the battery, with a gizmo called a battery eliminator. It plugs in where the battery would normally go, and has a coiled cord coming out the back that connects to your lighter plug/power port. Now you can connect to that big battery in the car. 


Then I connected a magnet mount type antenna that attaches to the roof of your car and with an adapter plug, connected it to the port where the removable antenna was. 

Wa-la! Now you have a radio that has an external antenna with a much greater distance, and a much bigger power supply that is renewable as long as you have fuel for your car. 


Then I connected a hand microphone to the radio, so now there is a full functioning 5 watt, dual band radio. This can be used for GMRS, MURS, ham radio, police, and fire frequencies. This is a very capable little radio. The cool part is the Baofeng radio itself costs about $35.00. The external antenna is about $20.00. The battery eliminator is about $10.00, and the antenna adapter is about $10.00. You do the math. You can have a full functioning, UHF/VHF system for under $100.00. That includes the microphone, too. If you don't need all the stuff for your automobile, for $35.00 you can have a fully capable, handheld, UHF/VHF radio. Folks, you just cannot beat a deal like that. You can also listen to the weather on it. You can even listen to the railroad frequencies on it. You can listen and communicate on the marine band frequencies, if necessary. And you can also listen to FM commercial radio. An unbelievable deal.

In an emergency, like a natural disaster, you can talk to your neighbors down the road. If you can talk to your neighbors down the road, then you can also know when the bus is coming to round people up for free rides to the FEMA camp. You know, where the government will take care of you.

These little radios will also provide you with communication while your children are outside playing. If you're interested in getting your ham radio license, which is real easy, and you're carrying one of these $35.00 radios, and you get real lost while you're out deer hunting, there are few places in this country that you cannot reach a ham radio repeater. Just food for thought.

Overall the class went well, had a real good turn out of about 25 people. Some there are not interested in getting their ham radio license, and that's great. Some folks there just wanted to improve their communication skills. Well, folks, I know most of you don't live in my neighborhood, but I encourage you all to give serious thought to improving your communication skills, because, just look around, seriously look around, there are hard times just right around the corner. We are going to need to communicate, local and long distance, but it starts local. Every community has some type of ARRL radio club. Go on their website and find a local club. Learn how to communicate using radio. $35.00 is a real inexpensive insurance policy.

We are going to meet five or six more times, and the whole purpose of this class is to eventually get people communicating, because that day is coming, maybe real soon. I'm not going to play head games with you, like there are biker zombies coming. But, for whatever reason, if we need to shut down our community, and people have even 10 minutes notice that there is something bad coming down their road, then they can at least be out of their house and away from the carnage that could be coming. This is the purpose for this class. The whole purpose for this class is to help save my life, and then my family's lives, and then there is the domino effect. It will spread. We have got to be able to communicate. Please wake up.

We'll talk more later, Frank