Thursday, February 15, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - Buying For The Homestead

Rain. The past week has been solid rain. Yes we need rain in this area because of the threat of drought but not all in one week!

With the rain falling everyday and the cloudy days the garden area cannot dry out enough for the tiller to run a row for beets and cold weather plants. Maybe I will turn the green house into a growing tunnel instead, and forget about the potted plants. We will see, this maybe the the change of plans for me in the future. 

On The Homestead: 

Since it has been raining I have not done nothing outside but the temps are staying mild and that part is something I do enjoy, but the grass is turning green and I am not ready for that :) 


While I was out and about I stopped at Lowe`s home improvement center to get another bag of connectors for the electric fence that I will put for the dogs in a few days, what I seen was nice! Grape vines on sale from $10.98 down to just $3.00! I got five and they had a couple fig bushes as well so I bought one of those for my sister, her yard is bare and needs some life!

Now I need to look at the homestead and decided where to put the grape vines.

Want to get started at home and not get in the crowds? Just click the link below and get started! Delivered right to your front door!

For The Garden :

Last week was a good week for sowing seed and that is just what I did and this week I have babies. 

The tomato seeds burst out and are growing tall.

The garlic is making an appearance as well, sine this is my first at growing garlic this will be a learning experience as well.

The tomato plants are blooming, soon I will play the bee and pollinate them myself.

The eggplants are slow growing so it`ll be weeks before I re-pot them or set them out into the garden.

Want to start tomatoes at home?  click the link below and get started, the bigger the plants the faster you`ll get tomatoes from your garden when planting begins! Click the link below and pick your favorite tomato and have them delivered to you!

The Stockpile :

Last week I did not have anything from my homestead to can so I did what I would usually do, see what is low and restock it if possible. I did.

Around here the pickled meats are enjoyed, I would also like to enjoy them but I am cutting out pork and beef and most of the hot dogs or sausages are made of both. So I bought myself turkey sausages (using coupons) and I home canned myself a batch and another batch for the rest, a total of 11 pint jars. 

Want to home can but scared? Do as I did and read this book, it changed my life! I will now always have food no matter if its in season or not, because I got over the fear of home canning. click the link below and get started!

The Learning : 

I have to say that everyday on the homestead is a learning experience because nothing is ever the same. From getting rain to no rain, the pest and the need of fertilizer to building fences. 

But .....

From the books I bought I learn the most about how to do things and this is the best book I have "EVER" read. I have learned so much. 

For instance, I thought that the nursery used the black plastic on the ground for weed and grass control but that is not the only reason, its to make the ground a few degrees warmer so you can grow earlier! Since some plants require and certain ground temperature the black plastic heats the soil making it just right for the jump start on growing. 

You never get to old to learn! Books is how I learn the most, I will share the link to where I bought this book below.

How is life on your home stead? 

By Andria Perry
Photo by Andria Perry

You Might Also Like : Life in February

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - Life In February

growing  tomato plants in pots

So far life is good, No snow and plenty of rain and mild temps. Not our typical February here in central Alabama and glad its not.

On The Homestead :

Last week I started on the fence and clearing an area for the dogs, so I continued with this work and on that area. 

More about this click here : learning and organizing 

Saturday I went to work and made another section of the fence and got it up, leaving only four feet left for me to complete. The total fenced in area on one side will be 6 feet tall and 20 feet long.

Next I cleaned out the shed, there was just to much stuff in there that I did not need so I got most of it out and recycled or tossed into the trash.

Tuesday came around and I took a few more hours to work on the dogs area and the shed. I cleaned out another small area of the shed and nothing went back in, its all to be recycled, I just have a small section left and I will finish that when I get some type of shelf up for what junk I am keeping. 

I clipped down more of the small bushes and picked up trash that had accumulated under the leaves, some of it is not even mine, I found beer cans and no one here drinks.

I plan to finish the fence and put up a section of wire fencing and the dogs area will be done, giving them about 200 feet to run and play, sunshine or shade.

For The Garden :

Today was a good day to sow seeds according to the farmer almanac so I sowed a huge pot with tomato seed, another with sweet green bell pepper seed and one more with garlic. These pepper and tomato plants will go into the garden in around 8 weeks, if its Gods will.

I have never grown garlic so I hope it goes well, I know it should be set in the garden but I do not have a space cleaned so I planted them in this huge plastic meat container until I can get a space fixed for garlic.

The baby eggplants are growing. More of  bell pepper plants got transplanted into bigger pots and so did a couple tomatoes.

While cleaning the shed I found more large pots and more mulch, both will be used soon.

The Stockpile :

I have not added anything but jars, the jars after we ate the contents :)

The Learning :

I have not gathered anymore materials to read but I have learned that with determination you can get what you want from the earth, growing food is not all that hard when you learn what plants like it cold, hot and mild. What plants like it wet and which plants like it dry.

And that is why I love to read about plants that will feed me for years to come.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - Learning And Organizing

Its February 2nd. and it seems that the old groundhog "Phil" seen his shadow so more Winter for the USA. But from an entire life of experience its always cold here in central Alabama in February, as a matter of fact its always the coldest month.

When I think about Spring I usually think April in terms of getting ready to plant in the garden. But let me tell you something, maybe I can plant some things earlier! 

I am learning to organize the plants. YES you read right. I am organizing how I can plant and I gained this knowledge from others and their books.

On The Homestead :

starting a fence

We have had warm weather for a week with the cold coming back in today, but not so bitter for the days but colder for a few nights.

I did not do anything outside that pertains to gardening but I have been clearing and cleaning out another 20 x 15 foot area for the dogs. While I am just removing the smaller brush and leaving the medium and large size hedge bushes so that the dogs will have a nice cool area to lounge for the Summer. I am also cleaning up some of the human mess, seems a homestead can get pretty piled up if you are not careful, got to learn what to keep and what not to keep.

I worked out there for a few hours last week and I must say I got more accomplished than I expected in such a short time.

In one area I want a block, something to block the wind and nosy people, it also will double as part of the dogs fence.

first section of fence.

I looked around in the " I will use later" pile of lumber and I began to build the fence, I am sure I will have enough to finish my small but effective project. 

For The Garden :

Baby eggplant

Today I was especially happy to see the new babies! I have baby eggplants. These will stay inside with me till probably May and since I have started seed inside I am hoping to begin to get eggplants earlier than the fall of the year. I know I will sow more in around a month so that I can have fresh eggplant all the way till the first freeze.
Baby cabbage

The cabbage babies are getting very leggy. I will have to learn when to get them hardened off and into the garden.

Tomato plant

The tomato plants are thriving. Soon I will have to tie them to sticks to keep them from falling over. The bell peppers and basil are also growing so good.

The Stockpile :

Last week I cleaned out the pantry and its a shame but a couple boxes of home canned foods got pushed in the back. I went ahead and emptied the jars, washed them and put them with the other empty jars. All of this was old, as in I would not feel safe eating, because the date was from 2010 and 2012. 

I have not home canned anything but I did buy turkey smoked sausage to make my pickled sausages. I made a case for Tony but his is with real pork smoked sausages, I am not fond of pork so I will sooner than later make my own with the turkey. Not that healthy but sometimes we all like to be bad, or at least eat bad.

I am enjoying the food that I have home canned and I have been buying less from the grocery store.

The Learning :

my new book

Over the past year I have been really digging into what I want to know, I am seeking knowledge about how I want to run my homestead and what foods I want to grow, what goods I want to make and sell, so how do I get what I need? 

Books. I learn from others. Is that not what we also do in school?

So far I have books on herbal medicine, Maple syrup, Greenhouses and more. 

But the best information I have learned this past week is to learn to organize the seed packs. Not just vegetables, flowers and herbs but  to place them into categories of what months to plant each. This is what I have been needing, I often want to plant something but only to find out its time has already passed so I wait for another year.

I also invested a little in another book, year round vegetable garden. While I know how to grow food in the Spring and Summer I want to know how to keep fresh foods going year round. I think I made a good choice with this book, I have not hardly been able to put it down.

By getting my planing organized I can reap the benefits year round.

I am so glad I ma open minded and willing to learn from others accomplishments and their failures. 

What is going on at your homestead?

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - Last Week Of January

I can`t say that I will miss January, for some people January means a fresh and new start, to me it just means unpredictable weather and Winter. A month that either you start seed inside or have nothing to do, after all it does not take a month to plan the Spring/ Summer garden.

The most depressing event I encountered in the past few days was the opening of the monthly power bill. It is extremely expensive! With the weather being so cold the heat was on a lot. After all 9° is not normal for central Alabama, especially not a couple weeks. 

So ...... The discussion for my homestead is now going to " how to better heat this home." I will do the power bill winter pile up and see how much power we use and go from there, see if propane would be cheaper or should I just began to chop wood all Summer. I would love to do the wood but I am not so sure Tony can handle that with his bad lungs. What I do need is a very nice solar system.

On The Homestead :

There is not much going at the moment here but I have been bring on some help. 
Tree limbs down by my uncle tractor.

Help from downed trees that is, a form of heat if need be. A couple months ago it got bad here and we had no power for days, that meant no heat.

More About no heat click here : Off The Grid Two Days

I have not cut any trees on the homestead just yet because I have several downed on other property that had to be cut and removed.

Big logs left behind

Yesterday we worked on those, well one, and I have two more to cut and remove.

I am bringing the wood home and stacking it for future use. It was cut in small lengths so that it fits in the fireplace, and they are small so I do not think this one will need chopping. No sense in letting it just go to waste.

For The Garden :

Bell pepper to the left and tomato to the right

I managed to get another good planting day, according to the moon phases, to re-pot the rest of the tomatoes. I have nine tomato plants and six sweet green bell pepper plants.

Since it takes a very long time to place seed in the ground and for fruits to come on eggplants,  I sowed seed for eggplants " Black beauty" are my favorite. If its Gods will, I will have many plants and not get stuck paying $3.50 per plant.

I also sowed seed for Cabbage. If its gods will once again, I will have my own cabbage plants to set out before the Spring tender plants go in. Cabbage can take the cooler weather.

new seed .25 per pack!

I also picked up more seed while at another dollar tree. 

Stockpile :

Nothing this week at all. Just enjoying the fruits of my labor of the past year.

Learning : 

Since the rainy season is here I have began to see more and more mushrooms.

If I have my camera with me I do snap photos so that I can identify them when I get home or near the computer.

While at work Yesterday I see these growing on a rotten stump. I am not sure but they do look like oyster mushrooms. I will not harvest any till I am sure.

February is near and so is Spring :)

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - Is It Depressing?

Watching out the window as the snow falls, looks like tiny snowballs and not big fluffy flakes. Accumulation was only an inch but that inch stopped all activity outside, after all this is Alabama, central Alabama! Not three hours north on the Tennessee line where some of the mountains do get snow, No I am way on down, a couple hours from the coast. Snow comes around every few years, or five. Not twice in one winter.
snowfall in the shadows

Do you think the snow fall is depressing since you can`t go anywhere or do anything? I am going with no, not around here. Yes it snowed but this did melt off quickly but the temps did not rebound as fast and yes its rare to get a 0° at night in these parts of the country. Snow on Tuesday and 60° on Saturday seems to be how we roll this year.

On The Homestead :

The greenhouse. I did get the greenhouse up last fall and I did have a few plants inside, they did die because I got sick. So the greenhouses location, where it is now, was not a good idea, I did not make that choice and I am so glad its portable and I can move it. In my opinion it needs to be closer to the house so I can get to it better and so the bright southern sun hits it even more, I think my opinion has been proven, I cannot talk care of plants way down in the field all winter. I am glad that it held up to the winds we have been having. With that being said I am still sowing seed in the house, and they live by the southern windows. I only have tomatoes, sweet bell pepper and basil right now.

For The Garden :

 Notice that right now its not "what is from the garden" but what is for the garden? Yes there are some pitiful greens left and I am not picking those, so its all about what I intend plant this coming spring.

Planning. Starting some seed inside to get strong healthy plants ready.

When I ran into the dollar tree for can foods for my uncle I seen seed for .25 each packet! I grabbed up four packs. One tomato, one cucumber and two herbs, oregano and parsley. 

I add those to the seed I caught on sale at the co-op last week, cabbage, eggplant and okra and what seeds I have harvested from the year passed.

Stockpiling :

This is the first year that I am depending more on the stockpile than the grocery store and it feels so freeing! I feel empowered, that I can provide for myself without money or shopping. That if the SHTF (shit hits the fan) and things go bad, I can survive and teach others how to also.

With only around a month into winter I have used around  four cases of food from the home canned stock. I do notice that I use many tomatoes or tomato based foods.

I did not keep a count of the frozen stuff from the garden, that I have used this far. 

I still use the old stand by tin canned foods that is store bought that I have stockpiled, but that is okay, some foods like beets and sweet peas, I did not have in my garden and home canned, yet.

Learning :

Last week I do not think I did any learning as far as my homestead. Although I wish to, NO, I will be off the grid I do not see a complete escape from working, or making money, because of the property taxes and business license have to be paid.

While some have said that I should teach, I am reluctant because what if someone cans food wrong and dies? I would feel like I did not teach them enough. But I am still thinking about all the nature talents that live in the this house that can make money, from fishing lures to soaps.

I have to say that everyday on the homestead is a learning experience. You can read books, you can watch video but every homestead is different. From walking the woods looking for edible mushrooms to picking winter greens, no year is the same. Some years its all about tomatoes, some years about squash, the garden is never predictable. 

Its always changing and that is the thrill of making a homestead and getting it to work. Achievement and failure.

Not much going on, depressing? Nope because I am looking to the future days of the hot sun on my back while harvesting fruits and vegetables.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry