Thursday, March 30, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - No One Said It`s Easy

The last week of March, the sun is shining and we are getting the right amounts of rain to make everything flourish.

Wednesday I tried to get the riding mower to run, it turns over but would not crank, I will check the spark plug tomorrow before I move on to the next thing to check.

I got absolutely nothing accomplished on the homestead. I had planned to get the biggest part done, mowing, and then work on the food plots that will not be a part of the garden in the field.

I would like to plant on Good Friday but I am not sure I will make it. I don`t know why but all the old timers always planted that Friday, I tend to listen to my elders when it comes to the crops, maybe its the moon phases because one year I planted according to that cycle and had the best garden ever. 

Learning to do for yourself, growing and canning your own food, it not easy, And its even harder to give up all the electric appliances. 

And it is even harder when you work and try to do this alone.

Getting off the grid is nothing like the t.v. shows we sit and watch, after  all we see is 30 minutes of their life and that is only what the producers tell them to do that interest them.

You never see them mowing down the grass or breaking the ground to make a garden.

You never see them sneeze five hundred times because the pollen is bad while you are trying to set up food plots, you can`t hang out clothes because they turn yellow before they are dry.

You never see them talk about solar power and how they use it, well once on the last frontier they used solar power to electrify a fence to keep the cows in, but not how they are using it to make life better in their homes.

You never see how many home canned foods they have, just when they make a five 1/2 pint batch, you need to can thousands of jars of food to have it all year and its an everyday canning thing to keep up with the garden and freshness of the food.

Where do these people work? They have to have a job to pay property taxes because those are not cheap, to buy jars to home can with and to buy the supplies like flour, oil, coffee and sugar. The crops don`t always make each year and you don`t always get to kill animals for pelts, so no food to sell or trade and no animal pelts to sell..... Leaves me with the thoughts "where do they work?"

So before you "think" you want to live off the grid, try it for a while and see how hard this life is.

My point of getting off the grid is to lessen the time I have to work for others out in the world because I will require less money to live, Grow my food so that its healthier and all my money won`t go to a grocery store. To know if something bad happened I could make it without all the power and all the stores.

No one said it`s easy.

You might also like : When Animals eats the crops

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Friday, March 24, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - How To Stockpile Meat Cheaply

Getting off the Grid does not mean you have to live in the woods without anything but nature to depend on, Killing your own animals for meat and growing your own potatoes for fries.

You can live in the city, grown your own vegetables and fruits and home can it! Your homestead can be anywhere.

As far as meat is concerned you can buy the meat or trade with a farmer for meat.

When you find meat deals at the grocery store, stock up if possible. If your family is like ours we use a lot of ground beef, (hamburger meat) for making single dish meals like spaghetti and chili or we have hamburger and French fry night.

A few days ago I was in Aldi`s grocery store and I seen that they did have a wonderful sale on ground beef at $1.99 per pound, that is stock up price around here so I got a family pack, 5 pounds to be exact.

The first day I brought it home I made two meals and on day two I made two meals. Later in the evening of day two I cooked the rest of the package and then I home canned it, six pints and each pint will feed two people. With this one package of ground beef each serving is around .63, Or you could make it go further by having a pot of soup for a crowd, now that is having a cheap meal with meat.

This is how I Home Canned the Ground Beef :

First we always, I mean always, wash and sterilize the jars. And always use new seals, you may reuse the rings but not the seals.

Next take out your Pressure canner, fill with 3 quarts of water and a couple tablespoons of vinegar. Set aside.

Put on 2 quarts of water to boil.

Brown the ground beef till its medium well. Drain as much of the grease off as possible.

Put the pressure canner on the stove eye and set at medium high.

Fill each pint jar 3/4 with the ground beef.

Next fill each pint with the boiling water, leaving 1 inch head space.

Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean cloth , making sure its clean and no meat or grease can interfere with the sealing process. Apply the lid, tight but not super tight.

Put into the pressure canner and process 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Remove from the canner after it has cooled down, set each jar on a towel and allow to cool and you will hear the seals "pop" as they seal. After completely cool remove lids, label and put in a cool place for storage. 

There is nothing wrong with stockpiling meat when it is cheap, you are providing for your family to have meals in the future. I try to buy and home can one meat a month, usually the meat is what is on sale the week I do go shopping. 

By learning to home can everything, when it is time to get off the grid and depend more on myself, I will know what to do and how to do it. Plus if I have a month or so that my payday is low or not at all, I will have dinner on the table every night, because I stockpiled when it was dirt cheap to buy.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - How To Make Kraut

A couple years ago I grew my own cabbage and I put up enough cabbage in the deep freezer to last me two years, but I want to go further in preserving food, cabbage for one, so that it will last up to four years.

With home canning in mind, so I won`t have to depend on the deep freezer, just in case of power loss for a long period of time, I read books and searched online and not once did I find a way to home can cabbage except for making Kraut / Sauerkraut. 

But...... I did find an interesting article about "how to home can cabbage" it was about why you cannot find anything online, saying its not safe because of lack of acid in the food, the stronger flavor and dull color after home canning, the last time it was written how to do it was in the Ball Blue Book home canning guide 1974.

And to my surprise I also read in that same article that you should not use cabbage in soups when home canning. Well, that statement was a shocker because I have for many years home canned my own soup and cabbage is an ingredient in one of my favorites but I may have made it safe by using tomatoes in the soup, because of the high acid of the tomatoes it killed anything bad.

Now lets get to making Sauerkraut as this will take some time.

You will need :

5 pounds of cabbage

3 Tablespoons of canning salt ( or more)

Working with around 5 pounds is the ideal amount to start with because it can be placed into a gallon glass jar.

Remove any wilted or sunburned leaves from the cabbage.

Cut the cabbage into four quarters and remove the core. Rinse cabbage and drain.

Shred or slice thinly, around 1/8 inch of possible.

In a large glass bowl, put the shredded cabbage and the salt, toss the salt to cover all the cabbage.

The cabbage will naturally release water, this is exactly what you want to happen. Every few minutes toss the cabbage again, using your clean hands if fine.

Fill your glass container, leaving 4- 5 inches at the top, and allow the cabbage to continue to "sweat" for a couple hours. 

If it did not make enough of its own fluid , mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of canning sat to each quart of water needed to cover the cabbage.

I had to use another quart of water to cover mine.

Next make sure that the cabbage stays under the brine using weight since cabbage will float, fill a freezer grade baggie with water and 1 1/2 tablespoon of canning salt and place on top.

Cover with a clean cloth and I used a rubber band to keep it in place, making sure no flying bugs get inside. 

Now I just wait 10 to 14 days for the fermentation to complete and I will have kraut.

I can put this gallon of kraut in the fridge for three months or I can home can it.

Home canning :

 Hot pack : In a large cooking pot heat the kraut in its own brine. Pour hot kraut into hot jars leaving 1/2 head space, seal with canning lids and process in a water bath 15 minutes for quarts and 10 minutes for pints.

Raw pack : Filled clean jars with kraut and brine leaving 1/2 head space, add lids and process in a water bath for 25 minutes for quarts and 20 minutes for pints.

Although this seems like a long process it will be worth it to eat your home made kraut, made with love from your own hands.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Springtime In Alabama

I know that spring is just a date on the calendar but in Alabama that means that it is also warm outside and that plants and trees have awaken from their winter sleep.

Not only is it warm but its time for seeds to sprout and to begin their journey making plants and eventually food.

 51 peat cups filled with Jalapeno seeds and eggplant seeds were put outside on a shelf, right now they are getting all day sun. Since the nights are mild in the fifties I am leaving them outside and uncovered. I actually want these to learn to survive at these temperatures. 

I did get a head start and I have tomatoes and sweet green bell peppers ready to go into the ground but that will still be a few weeks away but first I have to take them out and allow them to get used to the outside because they have had one steady temperature living in the house, yes they are used to the sun from the window but that is all.

Yesterday I got out of the house and cleaned the areas I will make new food beds, no where is better than around the smaller fruit trees. Why? As I water and feed the plants the tree also benefits, making it grow stronger and I will be able to control weeds better.

I have always loved the plots to raise food in but others on the homestead are stuck in the past, thinking that the only way to have a garden is in very long rows that WILL grow up with grass by the time its harvest. So I tend to make a few plots around the deck or porch and grow food plants instead of flowers or I mix in marigolds. 

The peach tree and the plum trees are blooming and the pear already has its leaves. The apple trees have yet to show anything.

The main problem I see is ants, I am seeing them every where in the yard, mounds here and there. I must exterminate them as soon as possible and I must find something safe to use because of the dogs and cat.

Warm temperatures also means mowing grass. Its not just grass but weeds and wild onions. Hopefully this week, if its Gods will, I will mow and clean the garden area off, all except the greens, those will stay till around May when it gets to hot for them and they blister from the sun.

I will also order the new bushes for the homestead, blueberries. And a few walnut trees, maybe another pecan. Since I am fond of nuts I really want to focus on growing them. 

That is what is going on around my homestead this March 20, 2017. What is happening on your homestead?

You Might Also like : What is growing in February 

By Andria Perry 
Photos By Andria Perry

Monday, March 13, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Cooking Dandelion Greens

For a couple years I have ate dandelion greens but in the raw form and I found them to be very bitter and since I am not fond of bitter I decided to try them cooked for a change.

One lady told me about cooking them one way, another man another way and yet someone else said to cook them with turnip greens.

This is me trying out how I like to eat this bitter weed best.

First I went out and I dug up the whole dandelion plant because I am keeping the root for medicine, I will be harvesting the dandelion plants with roots all through the year, and I placed the plants into water.

A couple days did pass before I could actually clean and disassemble the dandelion plants but they were still living well in the shallow pan with water. I clipped the leaves off and set those aside and I cleaned the roots and put those on a wire rack to air dry.

I placed the dandelion leaves into a sink filled with cold water and soaked them, so the dirt would release. I rinsed them several times to make sure the dirt was off the leaves. I put them into a bowl of cold water and sat then into the refrigerator over night because I was cooking these the next day.

Now the cooking part :

I drained and patted dry the dandelion leaves.

I took the advice of the man and I cooked them in butter, this does NOT take but a couple of minutes, like most greens.

I tasted and added salt to my taste.

The Taste :

The texture was that of fresh cooked spinach, sweet first and at the end a slight bitterness.


I added how the woman told me to cook them, add lemon. So I added a small amount of lemon juice and stir the dandelion greens.

The Taste :

At first sweet, then tart but I still could detect the bitter and that was just to much for me.

Now to MY addition to these wild little greens.

I have the dandelion greens cooked in butter, with a dash of salt and lemon juice and drizzle of Agave nectar.

The Taste :

Now we are talking! 

Cook the dandelion greens in butter for a couple minutes, turning to cook them evenly. Add salt to your taste, give then a squeeze of lemon and drizzle with agave nectar.

Fabulous dandelion greens! Plus they grow wild everywhere so they are free.

Do you eat what grows wild in your yard?

You might also like : Getting back to nature 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gone Fishing - Getting Off The Grid

Although I am going back to vegetarian, I will add fish to my diet. I love to go fishing. Its a place that is calm this time of the year when no one is out playing in the water.

Note: I`m a flexitarian at the moment, I will live as a gatherer but I will add fish to my diet so I reckon I will be a pescatarian and not exactly a vegetarian. There are just to many way to say I eat veggies and fruits all day but will have fish in occasion.

Yesterday was the first time that I have went fishing this year, I have been leaving it up to the men to bring in the fish but one is old and got hurt and can`t fish yet and the other one has been sick for months but I brought him with me anyways, I have to step up and try to get the fish I will need to get me through a year, Fish to eat now and fish to put up along the way for stock, either in the freezer or home canning, with home canning the preferred method.

I do live close to one river system but I do not feel comfortable eating the fish because of so much pollution and the fact that I have witnessed so many people suffer with cancer, or die, that live on this river system so I traveled a little to go to the cleaner river and the water shed.

Lake Wedowee is in the next county over, its the back water from the dam, and this time of year the water is down and we can walk out to a favorite spot.


The wind was blowing and one of my points was unbearable to try and fish but Tony had the side of a mountain as a wind break and he caught a couple fish, crappie, one female and one male. If we needed food, that would be a meal but according to the size limit they were an inch under the length that we could keep.

After a couple hours we gave up and moved to the next fishing place,  just on the Edge of Oxford, Alabama. The small lake that feeds the water shed lake, Lake Hillabee, I have always called it anchor metal lake but I don`t know that it has a name. 

It was late in the evening and there was only a couple fisherman out, but there was so many cars coming in and circling around that it was impossible to get a nibble, so we left and knew we would have to come here earlier to avoid the traffic of sight seers to actually enjoy fishing this lake.

That is the fishing story of the first fishing trip of 2017. 

Do you go fishing? Do you keep the fish for food?

You might also like : How to clean Fish By Andria Perry 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Going Back To Nature

I reckon some people cannot fathom that the doctors and /or medicine men got medicine from the area they lived in, out in the forest. And still to this day we get a lot of medicines from nature and not all come from a laboratory.

While I was looking around online at books that would interest me and  I ran across one that I have been wanting for a very long time. I have head people talk about this wild plant is good for this or that but I never got an answer of " How" to use it. After all with everything there can be an over dose that can lead to death and that has always stopped me from using what God gave me right here in my own back yard to use for medicine.

Now I can let go of that fear, Take another step into my journey of living free. I have a book to refer to when I need a natural remedy. I know that there will be times when a doctor or surgeon will be needed, I am not saying I am not a doctor, but if things ever got bad with the world I could help myself of need be.

What have I learned so far? 

I have learned that many of the plants I grow for the beauty of the flowers are the actual medicine that is needed to treat many aliments. 

Plants I grow for food can also be used as medicine only you dry the plant or root first them make a powder and take so much. 

Some need to be steeped into boiling water to release the medicinal properties.

While other plants its the fruits to be consumed and nothing else needed.

Not only will I use this book more often than not but I will also take notes and make up my own smaller book/notebook for just the plants that are native here and for those that I grow so that I can see what the use is faster.

Sure there will always be some plants that I will never use, one being a mushroom listed because as far as I could see it does nothing but give a people a trip, a trip into the drug world and that is what I want to stay away from. Instead I want to make topical pain relievers, especially for sore muscles from working a hard days labor.

What do you think about treating yourself when or if there are no more hospitals or pharmacies? 

This has been one of my favorite men, Tommie Bass. I heard about him when I was a kid and I have always wanted to do just what he was doing. 

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - What Is New On The Homestead

I started seeds in the house back in January, I have tomato plants, sweet green bell pepper plants up and the plants are beautiful.

A couple weeks ago I started seeds for another variety if tomatoes and those are up and about to put on the second set of leaves.

Just a couple days ago I did another planting, of Jalapeno peppers. I have not home canned hot peppers in a very long time. This year I do plan to make pepper jelly and cowboy candy as well as pickled jalapenos for those nachos and cheese.

Next good moon phase I will sow the seed for the eggplants, I have seed for black beauty, they are deep purple, the type I usually buy or grow. I also bought another variety of tomatoes, I will also plant these with the next best moon phase.

AND .....

The best news ever. I got my Strainer/ Sauce maker. 

Last year I ordered a new one on ebay and I never got it so ebay gave me the refund.

A couple weeks ago I was checking out my "extras" bank account and I went shopping. I looked on ebay but they were expensive, so I went to Amazon and got this one very cheap and its new. Its much bigger than I had thought.

I am now prepared to make my own tomato sauce, pasta sauce, apple sauce and more. 

I know people question the cost of making your own compared to buying it cheaper but I look at things this way :

1 - If there were no more grocery stores how would you eat these sauces? 

2 - Would you know how to make them and what to add as a seasoning? 

3- I control how much salt I eat and how much sugar is added.

4 - This sauce maker is manual, does NOT require any electricity. 

That is four reasons why I am happy to make my own.

That is what is happening on the homestead, what is happening in your neck of the woods?

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry