The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Homestead News, Volume 16

When I sit down to write about the news from our place, I always look back at the last article to see what I wrote. I was surprised to see that the outdoor kitchen was still a slab of concrete, and that the antenna towers had just been put in the ground. It seems like much has happened since the last edition, so much so that I won't remember it all.



We ended up with 77 quarts of pears. I had to do some rearranging on the pantry shelves to get them in there all together. That wasn't such a terrible task.

I've canned another 6 pints of green beans this past week. Six jars aren't a lot, but I'm still surprised that the Missouri Wonders are producing this time of year. I will be canning a few more pints  along with a few beets, maybe tomorrow.

Yesterday I picked the last of the tomatoes. We have temperatures forecast in the mid 30's on Saturday and Sunday night, which means we will probably get a frost here at the house. We were really surprised the first time that happened. The house is in a small, low dip in the land, and the barn is on a small hill. It will frost at the house, but not at the barn when the temperatures are in the mid 30's. That means the tomatoes, green beans and okra will die this weekend. I was surprised at the number of tomatoes we harvested. Most of the vines are suffering from some kind of wilt and are dying anyway. Today I will wrap a bunch of these tomatoes in newspaper and tuck them in the pantry to ripen. 

I was also surprised at the number of carrots we still had in the ground along the tomato trellis. After the rains pass through today, I will dig up the remainder of the carrots along the green bean trellis. I have really enjoyed being able to go out and pull a few carrots for a salad throughout the summer. Carrots are something I have finally figured out how to grow. Now if only I can learn how to grow onions, and store them.

I used to be sad to see the last of the garden die out for winter. This year, all of the new growth in the greenhouse has replaced that sadness with a continuation of 'gardening' activities. Many of the new seeds I planted last week are coming up, including the Austrian Winter Peas. I look forward to adding them to our salads and picking a few for the chickens as well.


 Since we are expecting a frost, I dug up one sweet pepper and one jalapeno plant to see if they will survive the transplanting and live in the greenhouse. They have been blooming and producing more peppers, so I thought if the frost was going to kill them anyway, it won't hurt to experiment with transplanting. I
had mentioned these plants to a friend of mine that encouraged me to try this. I know she'll be watching their progress or demise, whichever comes first.








Frank has been working on giving some of our trees and shrubs haircuts. The new antenna set up will be a little different configuration, thus the trimming activities. We have made several trips to the brush pile to keep the yard cleared. 

 


















 
 


We have another rainy day today which is very good. The soil has gotten very dry over the past few months and we appreciate the nourishment the rain brings. We hope to get several inches today. The hay we put down last week to cover the bare parts of the garden have worked out very well. That was a very good use of old hay. Now it looks like we will be getting some serious weather later on today.


 





The structural portion of the outdoor kitchen is finished. Now we need to paint the plywood walls to protect them from the weather. When that is finished we will start 'installing' the stove, grill/smoker, rocket stove, sinks and cabinet/workbench.


This water tank has been lurking around here for about six years. Our original plans for it have long since gone by the way side. Our latest plan was to put it up on a platform by the outdoor kitchen and attach it to the sinks, but that just never seemed quite right. You know those ideas you get that seem to be pretty good, but just don't quite come together in your mind? Well, Frank and Henry discussed the placement of the tank there by the kitchen one afternoon with plans to build the platform the next morning. That night when we went to bed, we were talking about the next days work and a new idea emerged. I had already asked Frank to put a 55 gallon drum under the guttering down spout by the greenhouse, then I could dip out the water easily. Well, our late night idea was this. Put the 305 gallon water tank here instead. Looks great, doesn't it? It will be connected to a short run of guttering, with a faucet of sorts for accessing the water. It's a few short feet from the greenhouse which will be wonderful.

 








In the next few weeks we will be showing you the installation of the water lines. Emmet has been back several times digging the beginning of the ditches required for water and electric lines. This will allow the gentleman to come and dig the lines without worrying about the barn, fencing or existing water line. I have some really exciting pictures on here, don't I? Holes in the ground....

A few days ago Frank commented on how many acorns one of our oak trees has dropped this year. These are larger acorns than many of the other trees, large enough to affect your footing if you have too many of them underfoot. Until this year, they have been a nuisance to contend with, this year they are turning into meat. Seeing all of the acorns brought a vague memory to mind, something about pigs eating acorns. We researched oak acorns and pigs to make sure they were safe, and found not only are they safe, some people consider pigs raised on acorns to be some of the best pork available. So yesterday I began collecting acorns. It only took about 30 minutes to pick up this many. I gave a few to the pigs yesterday morning and at first they didn't pay much attention to them. We thought it might be necessary to crack the hard outer
covering, but it's not. Last night all of the acorns were gone and this morning I saw one of the barrows crunching away on one. It's interesting how perspectives can change. There are lots of things I now view as meat, meaning food for animals that will turn into meat. Many of these things have lain about for years going to waste, but now with a little effort, they are increasing our food supply. Speaking of pigs, for the rest of this week Liberty has come running into her pen each time I feed. She starts out in one of the 'outside' feed pans, but as soon as I pour out her feed and call her, "Come on, Liberty", here she comes running. Every so often one of the boys tries to come with her, but they've figured out that this is not their food. This has been very interesting to me.
 
I thawed out the leg roast I saved from the last goat butchering. We tried cooking one of these roasts, but it was really tough. This roast was sliced yesterday and marinated in soy sauce and pepper so we can try another batch of jerky. Frank didn't care for the first batch, and I have to admit it is really tough to chew and doesn't have a lot of flavor. It's okay, but we hope to improve. One thing I am doing differently today is starting it in the morning so it won't be left in the dehydrator overnight, which was too long the first time. We also hope the soy sauce improves the flavor. If not, I'll go back to sea salt and add more than I did the first time.

Easter & Patch

Our buck moved to a new home yesterday. Since we kept his daughters, Easter and Patch, we wanted a new buck for breeding. We have yet to find a new buck, though, and will be borrowing Faith's new buck in a few weeks. One Stripe and Copper will give us another set of kids from the buck we just sold, but Easter, Patch, Lady Bug and Cricket will all be bred to Faith's buck. This will give us the chance to add some new blood to our herd. We will keep looking for another full-time buck for our next round of breeding in May. We are still trying to have year round milk, which means two 'breeding seasons' per year. It makes things a little more complicated, but we think it's worth the effort.

video

Enjoy the blessings of these peaceful days. On the surface, most things seem calm. Don't let the depth of the swift undercurrent pull you under. The decisions we make today will help determine our ability to survive in the future. Choose wisely.

Until next time - Fern

36 comments:

  1. Thanks as always for the update. You two are certainly making progress on those projects.
    Your video made me chuckle as we had similar rain this past weekend.
    Finally, you mentioned growing onions. Have you tried growing green onions? I read on a different blog how the root ends can be replanted from store bought onions. I tried it and it worked and kept me in green onions all summer. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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    1. Hi, SJ. We've never had any luck anywhere, anytime growing onions. Other folks we know have bumper crops, and to this day we have never had successful onions of any type or variety. Thanks for the idea. I guess we're just onion failures, but we will keep trying. Thanks, take care.

      Frank

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  2. What kind of acorns are those? I have never seen any like them..ours here in michigan are small with little caps on top. Oak. Interesting.

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    1. I knew when I posted this article that I would have to figure out what kind of tree the acorns come from, Janet. From everything I found on the internet, I think this must be a bur oak tree, one I had never heard of. Thank you for the question!

      Fern

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  3. My son found an oak tree last fall that had tons of acorns on the ground. So he collected about 50 of them and we planted a dozen of them in large tub in the greenhouse just for kicks, and every one came up! We planted six of them this year along the road, and gave the others to number two son who planted them on one boundary of his house in a different part of the Island.
    Number three son the tree whisperer, just found an old American chestnut tree that probably survived the clearcutting of the Island back in the 1600's. We have right now a bushel basket full waiting to try out the "chestnuts roasting by an open fire" meme, when Jack Frost starts nipping at our nose! Put about 50 of them in the freezer earlier in the fall to see if I can trick them into thinking it has been winter. Then we will try and propagate a bunch of them. With those and more of the oaks we will be on the way to having a little forest for their grandchildren to use for whatever! Who says I'm not forward looking?
    Looking right now at buying a couple of Kitchen Queen 480 wood stoves for two of the kids and their families. I already have one in storage just biding time.
    Thanks for the updates, and you just keep on giving me more ideas about things that need to get done or at least initiated.


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    1. everett,
      if that is a chestnut tree that has survived, the people who want to preserve it would want some of those nuts. cannot remember the name of the group.
      please look it up and send them seeds. posterity will thank you.
      used to be one of the great crops of the mountain people as there is little flat land to raise crops. kept many from starving and was a great trade item.
      many, many thanks.

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    2. Hi Everett, always enjoy reading your comments. It must be nice to have family that close. As for the chestnuts and the acorns? Good for you. I did research on the cookstove, seems to be a good, solid model. Someday in the near future, a good wood cookstove may be worth it's weight in precious metals. You know, brass and lead. Thank you for your thought provoking comments, they are earnestly appreciated.

      Frank

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  4. Have you tried using a Biltong Recipe for your goat. It is a south african dried meat and very good. I beleive it is made differently than jerky and may be more suited to goat meat. You have made such incredible improvements in one short summer!

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    1. Hi, Fiona. It's been a long summer, we're looking forward to winter. Hopefully things will slow down a little bit. We'll take a look into the recipes you're talking about. That's just what we need, one more thing to do. Thank you for the help. We all need to be paying very close attention right now, things can slip quickly. Very quickly. Stay close to home.

      Frank

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  5. Hi Fern
    Thanks for your update on things . We are doing a lot of the same kind of things around our place too .
    Our garden is pretty much over for the season . One amazing thing to us as we trundle into the cooler fall months is that we are still picking raspberries from our patch , but they are about done as we expect frost tonight . Carrots , leeks and beets are still in the ground and I think they will be okay for awhile yet . We will probably put some mulch around them .We have canned and dried a lot from our little garden patch this year .
    We have our winter supply of firewood ( 3 cords) all stacked away and I will be cutting a few more rounds just because the tree is there . It is like money in the bank .
    We don't have any animals yet to care for but next spring may be time for five or six chickens . Upcoming projects include a holding pond in our spring to solar pump water ,first for the garden and shop and eventually the house .
    Sorry that the goat recipe wasn't satisfactory, keep tryin ,you'll get one to work .
    Blessings & Thanks,
    Bluesman

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    1. Hello, Bluesman. Sounds like your plate if full also. We're putting our garden down tomorrow, frost should be here tomorrow night. It's been another bad year for the garden, it takes a terrible beating with multiple different building projects. Hopefully next year there won't be as many pieces of heavy equipment. Thank you for sharing.

      Frank

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  6. Same sort of things here, getting the garden winterized, we have also had a bumper crop of both tomatoes and green beans, not complaining mind! When we have had tough game meat in the past we have made ground jerky, just grind, season and dry in rolled shapes about as thick as a small link sausage, makes for a nice easy to chew change and those tough cuts become edible! (that's what we did when the boys got excited about 'points' rather than meat!) Fun to watch the progress, especially the outdoor kitchen, we have plans.,,,,! :)

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    1. Hello, Kathy, thank you for the ideas about jerky. Fern made a batch a couple of days back. It's not bad jerky, it's just not good jerky. It just needs something. We'll keep trying. And yes, the more points you have, the more of a jaw workout, life is tough. Thanks again.

      Frank

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  7. Your outdoor kitchen looks great! Do you have problems with birds coming in and roosting? They take over our pole barn, the droppings are everywhere (: On one building we finally had hardware cloth stapled up under the eaves and on the inside of the roof/ceiling, and that kept them out. Your garden seems very prolific, I'd like to try the hay layer you talked about. It's always inspirational to read about everything you're both doing, thank you so much for sharing your adventures and your pictures are also very helpful.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. No birds in the kitchen yet. We still have lots of work to go to get it up and running. If the open design doesn't work out, then we will screen it, hopefully it will work, though. Again, thank you.

      Frank

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  8. Wow lots of progress. Loving the outdoor kitchen. How much it changes with just the addition of some walls. Good spot for the water tank to. I think there is nothing worse than having to drag hoses back and forth to water precious plants. We had lovely good rain over the last couple of days but of course with it came the humidity. Still not complaining though - we needed it and the water tanks are full. Tomatoes have flowers on them, picking lettuce, zucchinis are growing and even strawberries are ripening. Roll on summer.

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    1. Hi Calidore. We had a good rain yesterday and last night, just shy of 4 inches. I'm really glad that Fern put hay down across the garden a couple of weeks back, if not we would have lost our topsoil again. Our winter is coming, but I'm happy for your summer. Hopefully, it will be a very productive year. We'll keep you updated about the outdoor kitchen. Thank you again.

      Frank

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  9. according to peterson's field guide it may be a bur oak. if the leaves are round-lobed it is a white oak and the acorns will have much less tannin than those of the black oak.
    therefore it is good for flour for human consumption.
    see 'ask jackie' at backwoods home magazine for directions for preparation.
    excellent for self sufficiency.

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    1. Thank you for the oak information, Deb. We read Backwoods Home regularly. Take care.

      Fern

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  10. looks like you have kept yourself very busy!
    Beautiful goats :)

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    1. Thank you, Sandra. Our goats are healthy and happy, especially the females, we don't butcher them.

      Frank

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  11. There is such a thing as an 'Overcup Oak' wherein the cup encloses most or all of the nut. The 'Bur Oak' cup covers half to three-quarters of the nut. ~Sassafras

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    1. Interesting, Sassafras, thank you. Now I will do more research, and pick up more acorns. I also went and picked up more pears today, most of them blemished or half rotten for the pigs, but some for us too. Thank you for sharing.

      Fern

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  12. Hi Fern! Just a quick note to tell you how I did my carrot patch last year. After I had dried and canned all I wanted, I still had a slew of them and they were lovely right through the first frost. I took old straw and covered the whole bed thickly--maybe 8 inches thick. I left the straw on the bed and each day that the weather warmed up enough, I went out and dug a tub full of lovely carrots. There were areas that froze but interestingly enough, it was usually just the soil surrounding the roots and I had enough cover on the whole thing that it was protected. I finally dug out the last of the carrots in late March, I think. I'm planning on doing that again this year. We live in Central Missouri. We got quite cold weather and some snow last year. Can't remember where you are but you may even be warmer than us?

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    1. Great ideas for the carrots, Lorraine. We are in southeast Oklahoma in zone 7, so we are warmer than you are. If I were to leave some carrots in the ground over winter they would need to be planted somewhere else. This part of the garden will need to be worked before long, so they will have to come out. I just haven't gotten organized enough yet to get a winter patch growing. Thank you very much for sharing your techniques.

      Fern

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  13. My teeth can't handle really tough, hard jerky - but I love the flavor! So, my husband gave me a Nesco American Harvest Jerky Works. It works like a caulking gun. You fill the barrel with ground meat and press out the meat either in 1 inch wide, 2 inch wide or rope style jerky strips. It works like a charm and the meat comes out chewy but not stringy and leather hard! I can't wait to see your outdoor kitchen when it's done!

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    1. Hi, Vickie, thank you for sharing the information. Fern and I have looked into this type of jerky maker, and we will certainly look more with your recommendation. I also don't care much for the rock hard jerky, and it's something we are fairly new to. Hopefully with time it will become more palatable. Thank you for the recommendation.

      Frank

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  14. Hi
    I move peppers to unheated greenhouse also. They survive for quite a while. They may pout about the transplant for a while but they are guaranteed to do better indoors than out in the frost. Good luck.

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    1. That's good to know, Michele. I hope our transplants make it. We'll let you know how they do.

      Fern

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  15. We are above you in the state I think and will be pulling green t'maters today!!! Supposed to be nigh on to freezing tonight. The garden season got off to a rainy start as you well remember, but it seems to be hanging on longer on this end. We had some trees by the house removed the other day (to close to house & powerlines for us to do ourselves safely), and the tree man made the observation that spring weather was about six weeks late this year and summer was hanging on about six weeks later on this end. Our normal first frost is Oct 15th-ish. To be pulling ripe tomatoes this week? A first. I have red tomatoes still on the vines as well as loads of green ones! Weather here is supposed to warm back up some this coming week so I was even contemplating just covering a few of the tomato plants to see if I can extend it farther. However, the chipmunks & squirrels here are in hyper-drive to load up on nuts! ~Sassafras

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    1. Hi, Sassafras. Our average annual frost date is October 31st. We expect a frost tonight, maybe not area wide, but in our location. We've still got green beans and okra up, and a handful of ground loving plants, carrots mainly. We'll know tomorrow morning about 6:00 am. But it's time, it's time for this part of the garden to go to sleep. Actually I've been waiting for the garden to go to sleep so I can put some antenna towers down and make some adjustments and improvements, but antennas come second to gardening. Time for the long sleep. Good night.

      Frank

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  16. Just wondering if you pull the soil away from your onions as they begin to grow. They don't do well buried deep.

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    1. Sometimes. I'm just figuring out that they need very little of the plant in the ground. When onions are growing in the garden, I usually get busy with other things and they get neglected. Maybe next spring will be the year of the onion for me. Thank you for the reminder, Pat.

      Fern

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  17. Here in NE Texas it has been very rainy as well. In this time of limited outdoor activity, I have started reviewing old posts here and on other blogs as well as re-reading articles and books to refresh my memory about things. So much becomes clearer the second time around. Just want to say keep up the good works and pray for the best.

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    1. I wholeheartedly agree. I often get more out of an article when I read it the second or third time. It just seems like I missed a lot of the intended meaning the first time around. In reference to the rain, we've had about four inches the last few days and things are a little soggy right now, but it was certainly well accepted. We've got more forecast Veteran's Day. Thanks for the comment.

      Frank

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    2. Frank and Fern, those are some really big acorns, I'm impressed. The indians used to make flour from acorns, I wonder if yours could be processed for flour. Just another source of food if you found yourselves in need. I like your outdoor kitchen idea. We may make a shelter house that can be used in similar fashion and also a kitchen in the garage so we don"t have to heat up the house in the summer while canning. Here in southern Indiana, carrots will keep in the ground over winter with a mulch. It was a very cold winter last year and my carrots were fine. They get sweeter when they get a frost.

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