Sunday, May 21, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - What`s Growing On The Homestead -Vegetables And Fruits 2017

It`s the last of May and time for the plants to bloom and the seed to pop out and show me they will be giving food soon.

I started seed for tomatoes and bell pepper in the house back in January and February because I know  that here in central Alabama the last frost comes early and I can get the plants in the garden area and producing for me sooner than some.

I slacked way back this year on what I sowed seed for because I will not be able to handle the entire field full of produce to home can, freeze and just eat and enjoy. I do not have a root cellar, yet.

About two weeks ago I bought tomato cages when I noticed the plants blooming and getting leggy. 

Read More Here : Caged the tomatoes  

And this is what the tomatoes are doing now, its amazing that in just a few weeks the plants are already giving me tomatoes.

The yellow squash and the zucchini squash are both getting their second leaves, the ruffles. What many do not know if that most spring squash grow very fast! And in just a couple more weeks I should have those vegetables to enjoy.

The cucumbers have popped up and as you can see they have their small round leaved with the ruffle edge beginning to show, this year because I have a tight planted garden I may make a small fence to allow the cucumbers to run up and on, just so they do not invade the other plants.

And the best for last. Yes I do love my okra. It was planted last week and now they are popping up, okra grows slower than most all of the other vegetables and I will have a summer crop all the way till the first freeze. But okra is well worth the wait to me.

A few weeks ago I mowed over the "greens" bed, it was strange how they grew. They were planted late last fall but the drought kept them from coming up, in December we began to get rain again and they came up and grew ever so slow all winter, I only got a couple meals and then in spring they bloomed and went to seed, well there were huge turnips so I left one spot for the fresh harvest of those. 

I guess God wanted me to have more kale so it came back with not one insect on it. I picked a small mess and I am having it for dinner today.

I will always express how wonderful it is to walk outside and pick dinner fresh out of the yard. 

What else is in the garden? Jalapeno peppers, sweet banana peppers, sweet green bell peppers and eggplant that are still growing, some with blooms. 

This year, if its Gods will, I will made and stock up home canned pickled peppers, squash relish, pickled okra and all types of pickles. Ketchup, tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce besides stewed tomatoes.

What is your plan for the vegetables and fruits in your garden?

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stock Now Enjoy Later - Getting Off The Grid

I don`t know what I am doing but I am learning, from books and people, how to get off the grid. I intend to get off the power grid, maybe have well water and try my best to grow and home can as much of my food as I am able to. Be more self sufficient. 

One thing I did do last year and I was glad I did is when the fish came in the front door I made sure I put them in the deep freezer. Some in the back so they were for later, I did this each time and I had fish all winter and into springtime. I always wrote on the freezer bag the date and where they were caught.

Now its time to restock but this year its not the two men going out after them its me and one sick man. 

Although I do know how to fish I am more of the gatherer, I prefer to work with the plants and dirt but this year I do not have a choice, if I want fish in stock I have to get out and catch them myself and work with the vegetable and fruit plants.

Knowing when to go fishing for stocking the freezer is what its all about, I will not wait till Summer or fall ( the last minute!) I am starting now because I know what I can catch this time of the year with little effort. 

Bream/sunfish are at their best right now, breeding and hanging out in the shallows and big! Most people catch the small bream all year long but there is a window of when the big ones come up and run the small fish away. The two in the photo above fill a dinner plate, Now that is big!

On May 14th we went to a lake up in the mountains that I have fished in hundreds of times through out my entire life, maybe thousands. Its a lake that only allows paddle or trolley motor, we own paddles and a flat bottom boat (some people call them Jon boats) and you must have a permit in addition to your fishing license.

It was late when we arrived but I knew we only needed a few hours to get the fishing stock started. Within two hours we had 25 keepers and we tossed the small fish, a couple of monsters got away but all in all we had a good fishing trip.

It was dark when I got home and I will say that the first time in a boat in years did give me a back ache, so I washed up the fish and put them in cold water, into the fridge they went till morning so I could see how to clean them.

On Monday morning I cleaned the fish first thing and put them in the deep freezer, since the bream are so big four will make a meal for two, the smaller ones went into a freezer bag but there were only eight smaller bream. I got five meals for two. 

Not bad and I still have red worms left over.

And that is how I spent my Sunday and I may go back a couple more times for the best tasting fish ever. Most people are spoiled to filleted fish, not me, I can pick the wonderful flaky fish right off the bone.

Do you stock up on fresh water fish? 

You Might Also Like : How to clean,cook and eat Bream

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Caged The Tomatoes And Sowing Seed - Getting Off The Grid

The first week of may just passed by and I am way behind on the grass mowing. All of the two acres needs mowing again but the back field is the highest and will more than likely get the mower first, if its Gods will I will get it all mowed this week.

Since the drought of 2016 I am not planting the fields like I once did and I`m looking for my way here, seems I am lost again, since the drought took most all of the crops I do not want a repeat of that. But I will always have a tomato plant or 36 growing no matter where I live, its in my blood to grow me some type of food.

The tomatoes are blooming and since I am for the most part dealing with everything alone this year I bought tomato cages instead of sticks and tying them up, I have a few around here somewhere, I just cannot find them but I bought 36 this past weekend and I caged all but a few of the tomatoes, Tony helped a little and did a dozen. This investment will last for so many years so I do not feel like spending this money was wasteful at all.

Last week I also sowed  the seed for 1/2 row of yellow squash and zucchini. I have no more plans for any type of squash. Lets say its not my favorite and I still have plenty in the deep freezer.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week is idea by the old farmers almanac to sow seeds and transplant plants. I am going to try my best to get the garden planted, all of it that I will tend this summer, it will be a serious downsize but that is okay, I really need a lot of tomatoes for all the sauces I plan to make and that is about it.

 I am going to sow flower seed and transplant flower plants too, I seen a few passion flower vines coming up in the grass and I intend on digging those up and making a hanging basket, the flowers are so beautiful and the fruit is so sweet and delicious. I may even divide the basil, but they are still so small.

However, I do have baby bell pepper plants and I do have one eggplant but they are tiny and it will be a month or more before they get big enough for the garden. I just finished hardened them off and put them out in full sun Saturday.

I checked out all the blackberries and so far looking good! I am praying for them to be plump and juicy this year. I need to home can as many as possible in light syrup, harvest leaves for teas and make jelly and jam, my stockpile is down, way down and I like my blackberries.

I have to buy the dog feeder, I want to teach them to feed themselves when they are hungry and all I have to do is fill the feeder. I need get the fence up at the far end of the property so the dogs can run free again, both have learned to escape the old fence and its not safe for them to run loose, not even at home :( With this fence I will have more freedom for me, like it is I walk the dogs so they have freedom and its not fair to them.

I have a full week ahead of me working on the homestead and working out in the world for that old thing called money but its all worth it. God provides and I will take when he is giving.

How about you? Got your garden started? Whats blooming in your area?

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hippie Neighborhood In 2017- Getting Off The Grid

When I was a little girl I loved hats, no shoes and being free. My oldest brother once said " You are a flower child and you were born in the wrong decade to be doing this now." I was born in the 1960`s and this was told to me in the late 70`s and early 80`s.

I am not sure but I assume that when people are headed off the grid that they do own there own little piece of ground so that they can grow food, raise animals for food and have a set up for getting off the grid, unless the land owners agree for you to alter the power system and plow up the grass, many do not care as long as you pay the rent.

Year after year I have invested in small lots of land, I do have four that are side by side and could make a huge homestead, if that is what I want to do with that land. But this past few months I have this urge to set up tiny houses, with solar power and well water, the water is cheap in that area so maybe just solar? I could place one on each lot and they would have privacy and plenty of room to grow food but in this area farm animals are not allowed except chickens and rabbits. ( It would be awesome if they were vegans!)

Before I head off to the land of dreamers I will do the math, How much to hire the land to be cleaned off, how much would it cost to put in septic tanks, run water lines for the meters and buy the small houses, as hulls, and redoing the insides myself. Yes, it would cost to have this dream neighborhood of mine come to be, but nothing is impossible of its Gods will.

How about you? would you live in one of my tiny houses, in my solar powered neighborhood?

My Hippie neighborhood :)

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Make It Yourself - Getting Off The Grid

I chose to do this slow and I can say that at times I am overwhelmed by how much work there is to do, most of it I am now doing all alone. I don`t expect anyone else to do the work for me and I don`t want to pay anyone to help, that would be counterproductive because I want to live as free as possible and with little money.

The Power :

I was happy with this months power bill but it is poor man weather, not to hot for the a/c all the time and not cold. The power bill dropped from $240 to $150, I expect this to be the cheapest till fall.

The Vegetable Garden :

We have been getting rain at least once a week and that part I am loving because its just the right amount to keep the new plants watered but not so much it keeps me from working outside.

The tomatoes that were set into the ground are taking off so are the bell pepper plants. Yesterday just around dark Tony felt like running a couple more rows in the garden with the tiller so I raked one row down and set out the rest of the bell peppers I had grown inside from seed, yellow squash and zucchini. Tony wants huge rows of these two but I don`t, I don`t plan to sell this year and I still have plenty in the freezer. I will sow one row with okra seed for sure.

Flowers :

At the end of one of the rows I sowed Marigold seed, when they are big enough I can plant one by each of the tomato plants to keep pest down. It was almost dark but I dug a small trench at the end of the deck and filled it with sunflower seed, I know I will have to thin them but I know I will have beautiful sunflowers and sunflower seed for me and I am sure I will have to share with the birds. I like to plant flowers that attract birds, especially in a place I can watch from a window. Double duty, pretty flowers and pretty birds.

The Greenhouse :

I have not had the chance to get anymore accomplished on the "clearing bush" project and I got rained out Sunday evening for mowing the back field.

The Wild food :

The black berries are little green babies, I hope this will be another excellent year for the berries, seems I went through a lot of the blackberry stick I had, they are sort of hard to pick because of the thorns, maybe getting red bugs in the skin and even meeting up with a snake but I do enjoy the blackberry products I make each year.

Make jelly or jam yourself : How to make blackberry jam and jelly 

Hand Powered Tools :

I try not to buy a lot of things because we actually do not need household junk to live, especially more kitchen items, but around here we are fond of tortillas. I watched a lady on t.v. make the fresh homemade tortillas so I ordered a press for $10 and got a bag of the cornmeal mix to make them myself. This will actually save me money in the long run because buying a small bag can be wasteful since it takes so long for us to eat them all that sometimes they get stale and hard ( the dogs get them at this stage), now I can just make how many we need for a meal with no waste.

Although this is the beginning of May in the month of June I will be dealing with everything that needs tending to alone and I will be working two jobs, one part time and one full time. I will have a full plate and its going to be a challenge to see how tough I really am in my middle age years and to see just how much I can do on my own while working.

What is going on around your homestead?

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Sunday, April 30, 2017

How To Clean, Cook And Eat Bream/ Sunfish - Getting Off The Grid

I think I learned to clean bream/ sunfish first around the age of 21. The reason I learned was the men came home with around one hundred and they were beat down by the sun and just fishing and needed help so I grabbed a fork and began to just do it.

Its not difficult at all and this is one fish that is for the most part cooked with the bone in and it is worth cleaning and picking around the bones because the bream is the best tasting fish, ever!

I have shares how to clean and fillet a Bass but not the little guys so here is how I do it.

You`ll need :

A clean flat surface outside with water available.

A sharp knife

A fork

A bucket to place the head and guts in.

How to clean Bream / Sunfish :

Take a Fish and begin at the tale with the fork move up toward the head slightly pressing so the scales will come off, flip and do the other side.

Once you have the scales off place the knife behind the side fin and make a slanted cut from the top of the side of the fish down to the bottom fins, This could take some pressure to cut all the way through the bone to the other side of the fish.

Now that the head is off clean out the guts with your fingers.

Rinse the fish thoroughly with clean water and place in clean cold water till you are ready to cook or to bag up for the deep freezer.

That is how you clean a bream / sunfish.

To cook the Bream / Sunfish :

Take the cleaned fish from the water and dip into flour.

Drop into very hot grease and fry till golden brown.

How to Eat a Bream/sunfish: 

First thing to know is there is a bone down the middle of the fish, Larger bones around the rib cage with smaller just above the rib cage bones. Each fin has its own bones.

Take the top fin and gentle pull it out, using your finger trace the area after to get any bones left behind, remove the bottom fins next.

Lift the meat from the the tail up to the rib cage, the bone should stay put and it should stop at the rib cage with no bones. There is a chunk of boneless meat on top of the rib cage area.

Take small bites and if you feel a bone in your mouth simply spit it out. 

I am sure with the first bite of this fish you will agree with me that its the best tasting fresh 
water fish.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Clearing More Land

I think my entire life I have been the odd one, the one that fits in but in the back of my mind I want more so I always want to push things to the next level. Determined to make it, to be what I want to be regardless of people telling me I cannot do it.

However, I do have days when its one of those " one step closer and two steps back," and I will be the first to say that it can beat your down mentally. I just take a day to feel sorry for myself and then jump back in with both feet.

Tuesday me and Tony cleared a section of land that we have wanted to develop for a very long time. Since Tony is still sick he sat down on the ground with the electric chainsaw and cut the small trees down while I removed them and piled them on the truck, after three hours of cutting and pulling, loading and hauling down to the back of the property we were very tired, so I left a few of the smaller limbs to clean up another day. 

The area cleared is about/ around 15 feet by 30 feet. I want a greenhouse but he wants to put the root cellar/ storm shelter in that spot.

Either will work because it does have a slight slope for good drainage. By June I will know for sure what we will have there, it all depends on if I can get someone to bring equipment to dig a root cellar, if not it`ll be a greenhouse by the end of this year. If it goes toward root cellar then I will clean more land and put the greenhouse there. Either will be a win win.

I mowed down the garden area last Saturday, I began to mow down the pitiful section of greens that had went to flowers and seed. It was hard on the mower so I would only do it in sections, I left one spot for next time, plus there are a few turnips that Tony will eat raw and I may get seeds for next year. Notice the tomato plants at the bottom of the photo?

I do have flowers. I don`t know what this plant is but I thought it was pretty so I let it stay and took its picture.

I have heard of rose petal jelly, should I try to make it and see if its something I would enjoy?

The mint is growing the fastest, ever and I will begin to harvest and dry this soon and do it all summer long.

This weekend, if its Gods will, I will have the newly cut spot completely cleaned off and smooth as the rest of the cut grass.

That`s a few days in the life.... Headed off the grid.

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry