Friday, October 20, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - A Scattered Week

fresh Kale 
October 20, 2017

I usually call life like this past week bouncing but scattered suits it better because while I did not finish anything I did make a few accomplishments, when bouncing you do not see very much of anything.

I have began the bartering with a friend, greens for pecans. Although I would give her greens for nothing in return and I know she would for me, I still feel better to give something for what I get. I dropped off a medium size mess of greens and I will pick up pecans next week and if the greens are big enough take another mess of greens with me that day.

Progress  Around the Homestead :

unfinished greenhouse

I did not have to take the plastic off the greenhouse because the unexpected rain and wind of last Sunday night did that for me, so I straightened out the wet plastic and turned it the right way so that two pieces could be put up. Tony came down to the field and helped, a bit mouthy but I made do with the help. Although its not done yet its well on its way. 

I have a few odd and end shelves to put inside until I can make shelves. I still have to get the heat source bought. I will try to buy those cheaper if I can possibly get the man to go down on his prices. 

I did very little work on the back yard for the dogs, I left Harley tied to a chain stake and he escaped! Broke his collar and took off into the neighbors field. Tony got the truck and Roscoe hopped on the back as I got in the front, off to find Harley. We rode down the rode and not in sight through the waist high grass, so Tony heard him, I got out opened the tailgate for Roscoe and said " Go get Harley," I watched Roscoe go straight to him, I had to tote Harley across the field and Roscoe ran back home. This is why I will use the electric fence. This was the reason I did not get much accomplished in the back, chasing Harley the beagle.

I did get a few of the basil babies transplanted, this is for my in home use, the rest will be potted up and hopefully sold next year, if its Gods will.

What`s In The Garden :

This is just a repeat of last week, a little more okra and new greens.

And the lemons are turning yellow and I will soon use them, maybe I will make a sugar free lemon cheese pie. 

I must remember to check and see if I have Swiss chard aka beets coming up, I forgot all about them.

The Stock Pile :

This week I did not put anything from the garden into jars. However, I did put to use the carrots and potatoes that needed to be eaten or canned and I used the dry beans, making meals. 

I have canned meats, vegetables and fruits but not so many meals in a jar and that is what I need. That quick homemade soup or chili. 

I made 14 pints of chili, seven with pinto beans and hamburger and seven with red beans, to suit the taste of everyone in the house.

I also made a Seven pints vegetable soup loaded with vegetables so one pint will fill you up! 

Learning :

This week was a working week, for both jobs. The landlady job and the caregiver job. I did not learn much and I am waiting on the new mushroom book I ordered last week. 

How is life going on your homestead?

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Not Happy And Stockpiling

October 15, 2017

While my week was very busy working, the paying job, I did manage to get a few things accomplished around the homestead. A couple of hours of work can make a huge difference. Today is Sunday and I will work outside today. 

Progress  Around the Homestead :

We only had a few hours to work so we took on the backyard again, cutting down the rest of those over grown shrubs that had turned into trees. 

While Tony cut them down I stacked them, I am making a shorter fence with many of the branches that I did not haul off to the edge of the property, The dogs sat with us, watching and playing.

I am sure its clear enough to put up the electric fence and get the dogs back into the area and allowed to run loose once again. BUT I had better clean out what I want out or it will be harder to do later with them underfoot.

We also got the plastic up and over the greenhouse but its not staying this way, Tony insisted putting the plastic this way and he did not understand how I wanted it to be and it would be completely closed in except the front, I finally drew it out how it would work my way and cost less and be less work. So that will be changed here soon. 

Whats In The Garden :

I am still getting Okra and I am now getting a mess of greens, but I am also getting pests so I will have to treat this problem before thy eat them up.

I harvested another round of banana peppers this week, and I have another putting on, I am sure these will last till a freeze just like the okra, seems they love the fall weather.

The Spring crop of lemons got picked yesterday, yes they are still green but they turn yellow soon after they are picked, I could have left them longer but the Fall new babies need all the plant can give them at this point. There is six huge lemons.

The Stock Pile :

As most of you know I love mushrooms in just about everything and I do not grow mushrooms so when Aldi grocery store has them on sale I stock up, so far its about every three months the sale comes around. I bought twelve 8 ounce packs of white button mushrooms for .69 each package. I home canned seven pints, so that took about nine packages. I kept three packages fresh to cook with now.

I home canned two pints of sweet banana peppers as well as having enough to eat with our bean and greens dinners.

Once a week I have a meal with okra, the rest is put into the freezer sliced to fry or add to soups and whole for making boiled okra pods with butter.

From another grocery store I managed to use coupons and restock canned goods.  Del Monte sweet peas, sweet corn and spinach for .40 per can, I had more coupons to get diced tomatoes for .26 per can. I got 16 cans of each except for corn, just 4 cans of it since I am the only person who eats it.

Learning More About Foraging  :

While I have read a book and watched many videos,  I still ordered a new book about mushrooms, one that covers the South with more details and photos of the mushrooms in this area. However, I did learn more from watching the experts on Youtube, how to tell mushrooms apart.

Last week when hanging new keep out signs, no hunting on this property, I seen so many type of mushrooms, sure some had dried up but I know they are there now and they are edible. Although these photos are not that good I will share them anyways.

I found many turkey tails, some dried up and some not. 

Turkey tail mushrooms, dried up.

A day old - Turkey tail mushrooms

Tony found a Chanterelle, which are edible. But we only took one to come inside and make sure what it is.
one day old Chanterelle  mushroom

While at work I seen these growing inside the tree that is rotting, but these are NOT edible.  I learned from the experts about spore patterns and when its brown do not eat this mushroom.
Wild mushroom on tree

Spore pattern of tree mushroom - Not edible 

I know that many will say better to go buy them than to fall over dead but those people do underestimate my intelligence, I am not about to just pick and eat anything growing wild. I will educate myself before I choose to pick and eat any mushroom and I will cook it thoroughly as recommended by the experts. 

Remember I did not just begin my journey last week or even last year, I have been on this journey all my life and I refuse to stop till I can live off the grid, nicely and not in need, and be able to feed myself when a disaster hits or when the SHTF situation arises. 

For more about the greenhouse click here : The Greenhouse and more 

What knowledge do you have that you would share? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The Greenhouse And Hurricane Nate

The frame of the greenhouse 24 x 10
October 8, 2017

I had planned for Saturday to be the finishing day for the greenhouse but once I seen the weather I chose to wait out hurricane Nate, there is no need for me to apply the plastic and a hurricane come and blow away all my hard work and it would waste money, the plastic, so as soon as I can I will get the plastic on. 

My Uncle told me he has black plastic I can have to lay on the floor of the green house but I am not so sure about that, sure it would help retain heat in the winter but I am thinking more about sliding around on it or falling down. I will have to see, I know I have a few rolls of the gardening fabric I can lay and then put mulch over, I am sure I still have a few bags of mulch left also.

So the greenhouse is at a standstill due to the weather.

Progress  Around the Homestead :

I still have a few things to get done before Winter set in, while its raining there is not much I can do outside. But, I can gather the materials I need for the project.

The electric fence!

I had bought the power device a couple months ago at an awesome price of $30 and I thought it would cost more than anything I needed. 

Yesterday I ran by Lowe`s home improvement store and I bought a roll of wire for the device 1/4 mile, and the plastic insulators you hook it up to, plus a few corner insulators. 

After we finish the greenhouse I will begin to install the electric fence in the back yard, I really want the dogs back there and free to run around, right now they are both on a chain most of the day and sleeping in separate dog houses. I am sure they will NOT be happy to try to get out of the fence and get shocked, but its better than then getting ran over by a car or shot.

Whats In The Garden :

Well, I have been waiting for this since I planted them, the greens. I picked myself a small mess of kale, cooked it and thoroughly enjoyed every sweet bite of them, they were not bitter and did not need any sweetener. 

Since the rain I can see how much they have grown, soon I will be picking and canning those greens as well as sharing with my family and friends.

I am still getting okra and I assume I will till the plants freeze. This year I have these freak plants that are making their own plants, without seed. I have never seen this before in my whole life! The main stalk, usually the only stalk, will have okra all the way at the top and the bottom leaves fall off. This year the main stalks have the okra on top but where the bottom leaves have shed a new plant is coming out! Yes! I am for real. And those are baring okra!

I am also getting bell pepper, they are not huge but they will have to do but the banana pepper are doing awesome.

I picked another eggplant and I am hoping for a couple more IF the rain did not beat off the blooms.

And now to the lemon tree. I bought this tree many years ago down in Valdosta Georgia on my way home from the Keys, I have always kept it inside for the winter and I have it in this massive size pot.

This year it has a small but nice crop of lemons and its now back into full bloom! Seems I get two seasons from this lemon tree. One harvest in the early Spring and one right now in early Fall.

The Stock Pile :

Each time I pick the okra I do slice it and freeze or of its small I freeze it whole for boiled okra, that is about the only vegetable I have right now.

Tony had been waiting me to can pickled sausages and hot dogs so I did a trail run a couple weeks back to see if the recipe I got was any good and it was so I home canned a case, eight pints of mini sausages and four pints of hot dogs cut into pieces. When he finished these and only then will I make more, I am not fond of them but will do in an emergency.

New On The Homestead :

While out walking the dogs I noticed the mushrooms, they always come up as soon as the rain comes. I did not pick them but I wanted to learn what they were so Tony went out and gathered a few, I will not eat these! We are just learning to identify mushrooms.

This lead to an hour on Youtube watching the professionals. We did learn what mushrooms we have here and are edible. Many times we have seen the chickens growing on the dead oaks, and another called turkey mushrooms. 

Very interesting to learn that many of the mushrooms kill cancer naturally. But I will do much research on these before I eat any I pick. 

That is life around this homestead, what is going on at your place?

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - A Week Later

My Black eyed Susan`s 2017

October 3, 2017

What is new on this homestead? 

I happy to say that I got the area cut out for the greenhouse  in September and Tony chopped down a small pine tree, around five feet tall. We also bought the supplies needed to build a 12 x 10 greenhouse. 

Today, Tuesday October the 3rd. we laid out the grid and erected the hoop style green house. We stopped after  getting it half done because we are going to double the length. 12 feet is not big enough for the way we will heat it so its going out another 12 feet, the 10 feet is plenty wide. 

Tomorrow I plan to go buy the supplies and by the week is out it will be up and ready.

Progress : 

This past weekend I home canned the pears that was given to Tony, his friend gave him the whole tree filled with huge pears once again, since I was swamped with housework Tony helped so much by peeling the pears for me, I canned eight pints and nineteen half pints of cinnamon pears.

Next I had bought a couple pounds of red grapes for .79 per pound and I canned those, one pint and six half pints.

I also got a deal on pork roasts, so I took advantage of the very low price and got two. I canned seven pints of pork.

From The Garden :

I am still getting okra, about a quart a week but I noticed something very strange a couple days ago. Tony told me I missed a lot of okra on the smaller plants when he helped me one day by watering the new baby greens, so the next day I went out to pick okra and I seen what he was calling the small plants.

The okra stalk is sprouting new plants from its old leaf holes, you know where the bottom leaves had fallen off as it grew tall. I have never seen this before! Brand new plants are stuck out of the side, blooming and with okra pods. I am going to make photos of this.

Some of the kale and turnip greens that were planted at the end of August are now big enough to pick and eat, I had planned on eating them already but I just have not made time to pick, clean and cook them. Maybe within the next few days I can get around to cooking a nice fresh pot of fall greens.

The Back Yard :

There has not been anymore cutting because I still have a section of limbs to move, I have been working on that a few minutes here and there, As soon as I get the greenhouse finished I will finish the limb removal for the new dog area before winter sets in, I want them to have a place that is warm and protected from the northern winds.

Harley and Roscoe

It is October. The nights are getting cooler and the days have less humidity, even at 80 degrees the dry winds make it feel cold.

How is life on your homestead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Monday, September 25, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Hurry Up And Wait

September 25, 2017

Here I am in the last week of September, for some reason this is my least favorite month, maybe because its dry, off and on cold and then back hot. By no means has this been a Fall Like day.

The confederate roses are blooming, they always make the last big boom before cold sets in, I have a few blooms around the huge bush, I had to cut one down due to it growing over the house and into the flood lights, however, the lower limbs are still a beautiful show. Plus I get to root the limbs I cut off, to share or to make a summer fence row.

 The Learning :

While I am in the middle of waiting I am taking this opportunity to increase my knowledge. This month the books I ordered is on trees and wild mushrooms. The book about trees came in within days of ordering but the mushroom I got this past weekend. I must say its small but packed with what I wanted to know. I am still wary of picking mushrooms but maybe in time I will have the confidence to pick and eat the wild mushrooms without thinking I am poisoning myself.

The Veggie Garden:

The first bed of turnip greens, kale and collards are all up and I noticed something eating on my greens, I lightly sprinkled Sevins dust over that area after eating a few raw greens myself, not bitter at all. I am thinking about picking me a small mess of the greens soon!

As for the second bed that was planted last week, they are up, little babies everywhere. I made it to the Co-op and bought a couple scoops of curly mustard greens and another scoop of kale, since that is my favorite and it home cans well.

The okra is still giving me about a quart a week and I slice and freeze it as I gather it.

The bell peppers do not look that great but I have small ones all over.

Those pitiful tomato plants! I have no idea what to do to them. 

The cucumbers are gone, I mowed those down last week, I collected five and missed one but the mower found it and smashed it flat, so I left it for whatever wild animal may hop into my garden.

I am getting a few more jalapenos and sweet banana peppers.

So right now its a "hurry up and wait" time on the greens.

The Progress :

We got out back and cut down a few more bushes that had turned into trees and were taking over the entire back yard. I have a huge stack to load up and move, that will be the biggest job to get done.

The greenhouse is still not done but Tony found the small pipes we needed to make spikes, I hope they are still good. I have not looked at those yet. 

Although I do not have anything in the garden I can home can I did do a sweep at the grocery store, I got a nice price on ground beef at $1.99 a pound so I bought that an home canned seven pints it for later, I was also asked to make pickled sausages, so I did four pint jars of those, if they turn out delicious I will make more and have those in stock.

Another good deal is the man that gave us pears before also gave the tree filled with pears to us again this year, I intend to restock the  pear preserves as soon as I can get there and load them up.

I also made friends with this lady at a yard sale that told me she has a ton of canning jars, I will stop back by and see if she had time to look them up and give me a price for them. Getting canning jars under store prices would be awesome.

The Defeat : 

I do not know what it is but Tony said its snakes. I will walk the dogs and in one area I smell this harsh smell ( for 2 years now), its like the smell of pork cooking that came from an uncut hog, evil smelling. I have smelled it now in four areas of the property, and the one time I backed away was when I was cutting back the confederate rose, I was almost finished with the tall limbs when I smelled it, I slowly backed away out into the lawn. This is up against the house so this is very scary.

I really need to learn how to repel snakes from my small area, I do not have a rodent problem but I do know rats live in the wild and in bushes and the fields. 

Off the grid and in the woods is very different than calling the landlord and saying " hey come fix this" its real and wild out here, still heading off the grid!

How is life in your neck of the woods?

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - A Wonderful Week

Area about to be plowed

September 18, 2017

Since the hurricane, Irma, the weather has been very nice with only one day of a little rain. I did work my regular job but I still got a few days I could get outside and do a little work, the weekend for the most part was a little here and there but on Monday I took half a day and worked outside.

The best mower ever!

I managed to get the push mowing around the house accomplished as well as around the apple, pear and plum trees. Next I went to the back yard to push mow, the grass was not that high back there but I mowed it anyways and then I cut down about a million privet bushes. I tossed more of what was already cut down last week over the fence to be taken down to the back edge of the property, maybe tomorrow. 

Learning :

I got my book in the mail, I was so excited when I began to read about the trees, I have to say that this is the book to have because it shows so many types of leaves and how to identify every tree. Its a medium size book but super thick and worth every penny I paid for it.

The bad news is that I thought the hedge row of trees were Maples and they are NOT! They are Sweet Gum tree`s but I am sure there is a use for them, I am still reading about them but I know they used the sap from the sweet gum as a flavoring so all hope it not lost. I may not get maple syrup from them but I can get something.

Sweet Gum Leaf

 I have not went into the back woods yet, but I will and I will mark the tree`s I want to tap in the Spring.

The Greenhouse :

What I am most proud of is getting more grass and brush cut down for where the greenhouse will be, I got to work on that late Sunday evening.

Sunday afternoon I went to Home Depot and bought the supplies to make the "hoop" style greenhouse.  What I have to do now is cut down one small pine and possibly one small oak, they will be to close or inside the area. 

One step closer!

Last,  I will offer the guy with the clear barrels $10 each and buy four, he was asking $20 but I think that is to much so when I made a face and said I will pass he told me if I bought two it would be $15 each, so maybe buying more he will go down more. Why do I need the barrels? They will heat the greenhouse this winter, very green using solar energy.

The Garden :

To the right is the row of  greens, the left will be the second planting.

Before I went to work in my area for the greenhouse I mowed down a nice patch in the garden, it was mowed a week ago but I went over it with the push mower and got it super low, after that Tony took over with the tiller, he turned over that area to be planted with MORE greens.

I did not know I had more collards and kale seed till I began to look for the beet seeds to see how many I had, Although I did not want to plant till Wednesday he tossed the seeds out on Monday.

Tuesday I plan to buy curly mustard seed to plant, I want a huge variety of greens, to eat, home can and share.

From The Garden :

Everything had slowed down, I am still getting a some okra but not so much, the cucumber vines are now spent. I got one cucumber in a week. The tomatoes are a few here and there but they are also small, yes the late ones that Tony planted. I am still getting a few jalapeno peppers and a few banana peppers, the bell peppers are blooming and bearing but none seems to get large. I have one small eggplant, the plant did not do so well alone, Next year I will plant two or more.

I plan to mow down what has already had its season to clean things up so its not so ragged looking.

The Dogs :

The two escape artist!

Today as part of the backyard cleaning was prepping for the electric fence, I cut down small bushes against the fence so that when I put the electric fence in I wont be fighting the bushes too.

So far I am getting this slowly but surely. 

The fall of the year is just about as busy on the homestead as Springtime. Don`t you think?

What is happening in your part of the world? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry