The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Homestead News, Volume 7

There is not a lot going on here right now, just a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We have told you about many of our latest activities, so we thought we would give you a run down of our general, everyday homestead life. I waited until evening chores with the sun going down to take the pictures for this article. Just as we were wrapping up and I was going to take the last pictures of the pigs, the camera batteries died.

And speaking of pigs, our American Guinea Hogs are doing very well. They are pretty friendly, and now come running anytime they here one of us holler, "Come on pigs!" They know that means we are carrying a bucket with something good to eat. The contents of the bucket tend to vary
widely depending on what we're harvesting from the garden, whether we have whey from making cheese, or just getting rid of some older staples that have sat on the shelf for too long. I'm starting to eye the barrows and think of the future meat and lard they will provide. We really look forward to butchering one of them so we can see how they taste. Lance, the boar, and Liberty, the gilt, like to greet me in the morning with mud on their noses. They have become very adept at putting a nice big nose print smear on my jeans, especially if I have just put on a clean pair. I like to think they are just bumping me with their nose in greeting and not wiping their faces. What is it about pigs and shoes? Why does Lance think he needs to taste or try to bite my shoe when I go in there?

One Stripe. See it right there on her side?
We have been putting two of our does, One Stripe and Cricket, in the 'boys' pasture during the day for about a week. Cricket has fully recovered from the scours she had earlier in the month which prevented us from trying this a few weeks ago. Our temperatures have hovered just under or over 100* for a couple of weeks now, and we think that has, and will, prevent them from breeding. We had hopes for them to breed in July for December babies and a winter milk supply, but I just don't think that will happen. Next year I will breed two does in May for October babies. That will require the does to breed not long after they kid, but then we should be on a more even cycle of once a year again. We will see. It is a real challenge to keep ourselves in milk year round, but continues to be an important goal.


We are still picking tomatoes, green beans and cowpeas from the garden. The last of the squash plants have succumbed to the squash bugs, and I have already replanted a few hills. The pepper plants are finally growing well and starting to produce. I will pick a few jalapenos next week to make salsa. Tomatoes are filling up my crispers in the frig awaiting enough company to can salsa for the pantry shelves. We have been out for a while and have missed it. We eat a lot more salsa than canned tomatoes, so it will take first place in the canning process.


The cucumbers are gradually growing and starting to bloom quite a bit. There aren't many plants so I don't know how many pickles we can make. I'd like to ferment them, so it may be in individual jars. I'm just not sure how well they will keep on the pantry shelves. I'm still hesitant to leave them there instead of refrigerated. We only have one refrigerator, and no other cold storage for jars of fermented food, so I just don't know what to do. I've read that fermented veges will be fine on the shelf after they complete the fermenting process, but I don't trust that practice yet. Any advice you may have for me would be appreciated.


In our efforts to clear the weeds and grass from parts of the garden for fall crops, Frank used the disc on the tractor (like we showed you in a previous post). Well, today we went out to work on it again and Frank got a great idea. Instead of raking and removing the dead grass, he scraped it all together with the bucket on the tractor. It made quick work in the hot sun, instead of using a rake and wagon. That was one of those time and body saving ideas that really paid off. Now after one more session with the disc, the ground will be ready to plant. 

Work on the greenhouse and other slated projects will resume before long when our one man crew returns from vacation. Frank's list of things he wants to complete grows a few more items from time to time.

I continue to do contract work for the school district we both retired from, and with school starting before long, I will be more involved in that process than I have been for the past few months. I will be attending training on a new computer program that the state of Oklahoma is adopting, then spend a day at the school training the teachers how to use it as well.

Frank's Ham Radio & Survival Communications class is going very well. They have two more weeks of class before some of the members will be testing for their ham radio licenses. The local county emergency management office has arranged for Volunteer Examiners to come to the class location to administer the tests instead of the students having to go 60 miles to another testing session being offered by an area radio club. This is the first time the local Volunteer Examiners have administered a test in this area. The ARRL requires them to administer four test sessions before they will be recognized as a certified testing group. It's great that Frank's request for a local test session has lead this group to start up their own program.

Once the radio class is over, the real work will begin. There are several class members that want to set up towers or antenna poles to begin the process of creating a communication network in our area. This is the whole purpose of this class and we are excited to see the interest that is being expressed. Many of these folks know that there are hard times coming and want to be able to look out for each other when they arrive, and for that, we are truly grateful. So even though we expect the deterioration of our country and world to continue, it's comforting to know there are those that are willing to create a workable communication network in this area.

This morning we turned 16 of our eight week old hens out with the adult flock of birds. This gives the 17 or so young roosters more room in their pen to grow a few more weeks before they take up space in the freezer. We look forward to having fresh chicken again. We rationed out the last few from last year and are now out of chicken meat. 


The young batch of chicks are now a month old and will soon need both 'baby' pens to prevent overcrowding. We will be looking at the hens in this group of birds also to see which ones we want to keep. We plan to keep about 20 young hens to replace the current laying flock. We will also choose two young roosters. In about three or four months, the older bird will find their way into jars once the young hens start laying. Then the cycle will start once again.

Scruffy drinking fresh squeezed milk

The heat keeps us inside during the hot afternoons this time of year. Our busiest times outside have waned until the weather starts to cool in September. We will continue to work on our projects in the mornings, or when the heat allows. There is still so much to do, and we feel the time gets shorter everyday. 

Until next time - Fern


  1. hi. somewhere in the reading about hurricane katrina i came across an article about the state of radio.
    it seems there is very little local radio and it is a danger.
    in one place the sheriff tried to call the station which came in in his area to put out an urgent warning.
    he found that it had been bought by a corporation on one of the coasts and that there was no way to get the message announced.
    it would have gone over thousands of miles instead of just locally.
    that would have been preferable to no message, but even that could not be effected.

    also read a bout a young fellow who kept a rickety radio tower functioning in the katrina storm just so updates could be broadcast to those in the path of the storm.
    no paycheck for the service, either.

    when the ham radio group gets going it would be good for non operators in your region to get the receiver only sets so they can listen to your broadcasts during dangerous events.

    all your work and concern will bring a big payoff to your region.

    1. There are other frequencies besides the ones used in ham radio that can be used for transmitting and receiving by the public, Deb, like FRS, GMRS and MURS, not to mention CB. But you're right about folks needing a scanner that can listen to both the public frequencies and ham frequencies. That will be how some of our group members participate, through public channels, not ham frequencies. Very good point. Thank you for your comment.


  2. I have a pickle recipe that keeps quite nicely at room temperature without canning. It's a sweet (very sweet) pickle, so if you're looking for a dill or bread and butter type you may not like it, but I'll share the recipe anyway. I've been making these for several years and they're quite popular with family and friends. The recipe is for 1 gallon, I typically make half a batch at a time as my cucumbers start coming it and then whole 1 gallon batches later on.

    One Gallon Countertop Pickle Recipe

    Day 1: Boil 7.5 cup water and 1 cup canning salt and then let cool to room temp. Fill your one gallon jar with sliced cucumbers, then pour the cooled brine over to cover.

    Let sit 9 days at room temp.

    Day 9: Drain and rinse. Fill jar with plain water and 2 tbsp Alum
    Day 10: Drain. Fill jar with vinegar and 2 tbsp pickling spice (I tie mine in a scrap of cheesecloth)
    Day 11: Drain. Leaves spices in. Add 3 cups of sugar.
    Day 12: Add 3 cups of sugar
    Day 13: Add 3 cups of sugar

    On Day 14 you're also supposed to add 3 cups of sugar, but generally by day 12 or 13 my pickles are covered in liquid and there is no room for more sugar.

    These pickles store for up to a year at room temperature in closed jars. I keep mine in large recycled pickle jars or 1/2 gallon mason jars.

    1. Interesting recipe, Alissa. We don't use sugar, but someone else may want to try this. Thank you for sharing it.


  3. Thank you for mentioning how you manage working in the heat and adapting that work to the better hours. Ralph is beginning to learn that. I so enjoy these Farm news posts. It shows how busy the bucolic farm lifestyle is!

  4. I don't post here often for reasons too complicated to explain. Long and short, I'm not conservative enough to fit in or enough of a salt-of-the-earth type to feel I have a place.

    I am moved today though to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so open, so candid, and so descriptive about the mechanics of your daily lives. You truly are the salt of the earth. I hope to one day follow in your footsteps.

    1. MC, I hope that you always feel welcome here. There are as many ways to live as there are people, which is the way it should be. I am truly humbled by your kind words. Thank you.