Sunday, August 27, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Fall Planting and Saving Seed

Just chillin with the house plants - Photo By Andria Perry

August 28, 2017

Last week I got the ground prepared for fall planting, well the first of several plantings, and I took the tiller to be repaired. On Thursday I had help and the area as wide as a pick up truck and as long as fifty feet was turned over with the tiller. 

I allowed it to sit for a few days so that all the grass on top would die. Since it has been dry for a week and rain is in the forecast to get here in the next couple of days, And under the farmers almanac as a good time to sow seed, with all things lined up late Sunday evening Tony sowed the seed for turnip greens, collards and kale. If its God will I will have sprouting greens in a week and full grown leaves to start harvesting within three weeks.

I noticed I am low on cabbage in the deep freezer so I think I will sow seed for cabbage also, its been a couple years since we grew cabbage.

From The Garden : 

Sunday evening I also picked enough okra for another quart for the deep freezer. 

The Seeds :

As the seeds began in get ready in many of the flowers I have started collecting them, This year I planted Marigolds in the garden to repel pests and they were beautiful. Now as the blooms die I take the seeds for next year.

Collecting Marigold seed is one of the easiest seeds to pick, clean up and save. 

First make sure the flower bud has died and dried all the way up with no green left,  then just pinch the dead head off. You will still have a beautiful plant blooming so this is not ever done all at once.

Next clean them up. Take the bud in hand and gently open it and the seeds should fall out. 

This year I planted the orange and the yellow Marigolds, with the yellow being the last to bloom. I am also harvesting the seeds of the sunflowers for the first time.

Read more click here : Harvesting Sunflower Seeds 

I am not new to collecting seeds, that was our job as children, my mom always let us collect the seeds from all the plants.

The blast from the past : Two years ago what was happening? August 28, 2015 my jorunal.

Its in the Air - Lush Green Grass

  It is well known that I am not a fan of cold weather, I don`t like having cold feet at all nor a cold nose and ears.

   However, The past couple of nights the temps have been cooler, that means no a/c running, and its nice. Fall is in the air. But I think the weather man said Summer is coming back and with hurricanes.

   Staring out the kitchen window waiting for my coffee to get done making in the Mr. Coffee I noticed that everything has a thick dew and the grass is lush and green once again. This is odd for a central Alabama late August but I will take it over brown and dead any day  .

   I watered my kitchen Basil and the Rosemary, the oregano looks dead. The small Aloe and the Christmas Cactus for a drink too.

   I did not make any plans for the day because I do have to get a tooth filled but I do need to mow grass and clean up my house plants, they could use a good fresh re-potting and larger pots, I gave half of them away yesterday :). I might run by the CO-OP to see if they have any turnip green seeds in yet. Yes I did get those small packets of seed for .02 but if I am going to can greens I will need a field full, plus some to share with friends and family.

   I need to make more jelly and/ or jam with the blackberries from last years pickings that I have in the deep freezer. I did find one case of half pints left at the Dollar General store and bought those. 

   A couple nights ago I heard what all people hate to hear that can food, that pop of a seal being bad or the food has spoiled. I checked and it was a half pint of pears, the band had a spot of rust and I reckon it messed up that seal so I lost one :/


I always check on my dogs every morning and for days I have noticed they are playing and having fun. Wrestling. I think its funny because Harley is so little and Rosco is as big as a grown adult. I did not make it home before dark yesterday so they did not get a walk and that is why I wanted the fenced in area so badly, so they can run and play.

Today I take them for a walk / run. I know they love it and I need it, doctors orders. But I really do not need a doctor to tell me to walk and exercise. One day I would like to tell a doctor to live my life for a day just to see if he could do it. Its doubtful, he would probably cry when the blister burst while digging a ditch or a post hole and had to continue working.

By Andria Perry 

That is what is happening on the homestead, what is happening on your homestead?

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Preparing The Fall Garden

Grown  over garden area
August 23, 2017

I planned today. I knew I would mow an acre of the grass an then I would start in the over grown garden area. I am preparing a spot to be tilled so that I will have a fall garden of greens.

Here in Central Alabama the weather usually does not get cold till around January with February being the coldest so I have four months to grow and reap the benefits of kale, collards and turnip greens. And as far as collards are concerned they sometimes will last until springtime. I am in hopes of home canning a few cases of kale for the coming year(s) as I am down to just 10 quarts from the last planting in 2015 / 2016 season, I did not have many to survive the 2016 fall planting due to the drought. 

2016 fall kale

This time it was harder to prepare since I have not had a mower for the whole summer, it just was not feasible to push mow that area, but today I took it slow and easy and mowed down a wide section of the four feet tall grass and weeds. I had left a rolled up older water hose in the garden, last year was the drought and I did try to save the plants and the grass had hidden it, I knew about where it as so me and Tony walked that area and he found it. 

It was impossible to pull up through all those weeds and grass by hand so Tony got his truck and drove to the garden up to the hose pipe and looped it around the towing ball and he pulled it out. It had already dry rotted and it was old and now out of the way. I was glad to see the truck had more than enough room to fit between the grow over grass and the okra plants, the area I took a lot of time to prepare.

It feels strange to mow grass in August, usually this is a dry and crispy month but this year its as green as Springtime. 

But before the tiller can be used it needs a simple repair and my uncle agreed to do it for me tomorrow and then that area will be ready to be tilled, raked and planted. 

I picked another pint of okra and four cucumbers, one red tomato. I seen plenty of bell peppers but I want them to get bigger so I left them for a couple more days.

Looking back two years ago at what I wanted was a shock to me. I still have not got that greenhouse but I do have many windows to make a wood and glass greenhouse, or I could go the cheap way with plastic everything and I would buy it all.

This is what I wrote in my journal :

Getting Off The Grid- Those Bushes And A Greenhouse

There are two things that I have been wanting since forever and thats a clothes line and a green house . 

   After thinking about it a very long time I know now exactly where I want the green house . No I have not said much about it to Tony or anyone  . I will just have to start buying a few building items here and there . I know how and I am sure I can do it but with a project this big I will need another pair of hands . I may do a single side slant roof so that I can add on later if I want a bigger place .

   I mentioned that I was going to begin to clear out a spot of bushes that are grown over into this yard by 10 to 12 feet but thats all I said and he replied " you will see how much room is taken over when they are gone " . . I would love to start my green house as a 10 x 12 room and grow food all Winter inside . 

   Clearing bushes is no problem for me as I used to own a landscaping company , I even cleared out the lot that my sister bought and now lives on , with her help . I have a spot we want to burn out so I can pile the brush there , its a wad of honeysuckle and poison ivy vines .

   Now the clothes line ! The last rental house that was repaired I had two posts left over , 4 x 4 x 8 and we had cement left over from these posts for the fence .  You guess right if you was thinking I am going to dig me a couple holes and make my own clothes line .

    Using solar to light the house , dry the clothes and heat water is my goal . A clothes line is considered a solar clothes dryer :) its as green as you can get ! Here in central Alabama we only have a couple months of super cold weather around January and February so it`ll be used a lot .

     It is the perfect time to put in a clothes line too because I am putting Rosco in the fenced area and he wont pull all my clothes off the drying line .

By Andria Perry

So much has happened since I wrote this but it shows that I am trying to get to where I want to be, even 2 years later. Well, Last year I did get one thing I wanted. 

Read more about that here : The benefits of hanging out laundry 

I am guessing that I did not get my clothesline till Spring of 2016 by the date on the article but that is how life is, things come at the right time. 

Do you plant a fall garden where you live? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Monday, August 21, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - On A Need To Know Basis

Muscadine vines with green berries

August 21, 2017

Although I have always wanted to live free sometimes it takes more than just doing it, after all you can take the girl out of the city but not the city out if the girl, you have to learn how to do things, how things are made and such. With learning you takes steps forward and steps backwards. Learning  and getting that experience is more than learning how to plant for food or how to hunt or raise animals for food, its living through the unexpected weather and predators.

I chose to read and learn, so I buy books. Some ask me why do I buy the book and not just look it up online and I always have to answer " I may forget and If I do I wont have to walk all the way back home, or inside, and sit down and look it up, because if I have the book I can read what I forgot there on the spot."

This past week I received two more books in the mail I bought from Amazon. 


One is something I want to do in the coming Spring and that is tapping trees for making syrup, maple will be the first. 

The second is a DIY book for building, although I know "how" to build this and that its always good to have someone else`s perspective on how to do it, plus this book actually tells me how many pieces  and what size of lumber I will need for a project. 

This weekend I took off working around the homestead, however I did home can seven pints or seven meals, I made vegetarian chili. Sometimes its a good idea to take a break and do something else. Yes it was to help add to the stockpile, fishing, but for a little fun too, I did not catch any fish so I went for a swim.

Two years ago I began to get serious, so I began to write about how life is hard and when its easy. This is the first entry of my journal of getting off the grid :

Getting Off The Grid - Live, Love And Laugh 

August 10, 2015

I am beginning a new journey in life and I want to share my steps with you. Whether its good news or a complete failure.

First I want to say that living off the grid does not mean that I want to disappear in the woods and leave all contact with humans behind.

When I say I want to live off the grid I mean I want to be as self sufficient as I possibly can be, spend less money for things I feel I need in life.

I want to use what God has given us, free power with the sun and free water with a well, Seeds to grow food .

Over the years I have been slowly working my way to becoming more self sufficient by doing hard labor myself that includes digging ditches and push mowing the fields, digging fence posts and putting up my own fences and much more.

Growing a garden year round so that fresh foods are always available.

Drying or canning foods that are in season for later in the year when food may be low. 

I have also been learning more and more about natural medications aka herbs, barks and wild plants but I have so much more to learn in this department.

I am thinking about buying chickens for the fresh eggs and free fertilizer. 

Today is the day I put the fence up to contain the dogs, With the dogs enclosed I may be able to get a goat and chickens.

I have still yet to find a business for solar panels in my area or a well digger. I know I must invest money to not have to spend money. 

I have a long journey ahead of me and your are welcome to come with me.

By Andria Perry

As I look back I can see how far I have came, in some areas how far I have fallen behind.  I can see when I wanted to give up and when I was so happy and full of life. 

I realize that no matter where I live or move to I can take with me what I have learned living here and apply it there, even take anything solar with me.

I have learned to never give up on a dream, if you don`t know how to get to where you want to be, buy a book and learn. Only you can make those dreams come true. 

You Might Also Like : Getting back to Nature

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Friday, August 18, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Making Progress

August 18, 2017

When you have to go to work and you run the homestead alone things can become hard, more times than not, but after getting knocked down time and time again I am back up.

I finally bought the equipment I need to get things back under control, everything I owned quit. That is usually how things happen all at once, makes a woman want to give up that is for sure. But that is not me, I may get down about it for a day and then I get to thinking about how to resolve the problem. 

When I got a rider going and I got the main living area cleaned I then had time to tackle the five foot tall grass with the push mower. The lower section of the first field was where I began, I got a good 20 x 20 section  cleared on Thursday and I will work on this area till I get it cleared because this is where I will most likely plant the fall greens.

The Garden

Although I do not have many okra  plants I am getting several quarts a week now, this week I picked four quarts we ate two and I froze two for the Winter months.

The cucumbers are coming on pretty good I actually got enough in one week to home can a case of Dill pickles. I only have a small section of plants but I am happy with the amount they are providing.

For More click here : How to make dill pickles

My sweet bell peppers are not growing as fast as I would like and I am managing to get enough to keep me from buying so I guess that is a good thing.

Those sweet banana peppers and the jalapeno peppers are making a few but nothing to brag about.

The new tomato plants that were put in the ground a few weeks ago have baby tomatoes, the plants are so little.

The Herbs

Last week I picked more sage leaves and laid them on the drying rack I use, its actually a cookie cooling rack. 

The spearmint is about to bloom so I will be doing a massive picking the coming week and I think I will hang it to dry. 

Next week on the list as well is picking blackberry leaves, I use these to make tea or add it to green or black tea for a flavor.

The Basil is very slow growing and I plan to separate and pot up plants for the inside of the house so I will always have fresh when I want, I do love this herb so I use it more.

I am new at growing Ginger and the stalks are dying so I will have to do research on how to harvest the ginger. 

The Seeds

My first try at growing sunflowers for the seeds. For the most part I got two huge flowers that made seeds, the rest were smaller with few seeds. I waited till the first head and stem was turning yellow and I could see the seeds were plump and striped before I cut it. This is my first so I am hanging it to finish drying inside since we have a rainy year and I do not want it mold. The next one I will wait a little longer to cut. 

Wednesday on the way home I stopped by the co-op and bought a couple dollars worth of kale, collards and turnip green seeds. I usually like these in the ground in September.

Its a live and learn world I am in.

What are you harvesting at your home stead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Making Banana Jam, Dill Pickles And Fig Spread - Getting Off The Grid

August 12, 2017

Busy as a bee as they say, its August and that means to get in a hurry to get prepared for Winter. School already started back and the first crops have gone. Time to take a count of what you have already harvested and put up by home canning, drying or freezing and what you will need or want in January.


Each year it seems to be about the same month by month of what to put up and that is because that is that fruit or vegetables season, but one fruit we do not grow local is bananas but they are enjoyed here at this homestead and as always some get ripe faster than they are eaten so I looked up a few recipes to make a jam, a way to preserve and not waste the bananas. I did the test in my own kitchen and I have a nice flavored jam home canned, however I did alter the recipe because for one it was way to sweet, with bananas naturally sweet I had to reduce the amount of sugar.

Banana Jam - Makes 4 half pints

3 1/2 cups of mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups of Sugar

6 tablespoons of Lemon juice

1 cup water

A dash of Cloves - Nutmeg - Cinnamon.

In a large cooking pot combine water and sugar and boil for around 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 

Reduce heat to medium low and cook till thick, 45 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.

Spoon into prepared Jars and seal with new lids. 

Precess in a water bath for 5 minutes. 

Now you have this wonderful banana jam to enjoy.

Serving suggestion : Peanut butter and banana jam sandwich.

NOTE : This is not a pretty jam, but the taste makes up for the beauty. 

Dill Pickles

I usually always make a few jars to a case of dill pickled but I always bought the mix because mine always turned out way to sour for my taste but the mix is way to salty so I looked around, listened to a few shows on t.v. and I gave the old fashion down home recipe a chance. I cut back on the salt just a bit and I think this one will be used in the future, a plus is that you can grow everything it calls for.

Dill pickles - Makes 7 pints : How I make them

Cucumbers - One Medium per Jar - See " Note"

2 3/4 cups of Vinegar

3 cups Water

Whole Cloves of Garlic

Fresh Dill Weed

1/4 cup of Canning Salt

Peel and wash the garlic, slice each clove in half. Put 4 halves in each pint jar. 

Add 2 sprigs of dill weed to each jar.

Wash the cucumbers in cold water. Slice the cucumbers into spears. Fill each jar with the cucumbers tightly and just below the one inch head space ( the rim)

In a large cooking pot combine water, vinegar and canning salt and heat to a boil. 

Fill each jar to the one inch head space and apply a new lid.

Process for 7 minutes in a water bath.

Allow 2 weeks for the pickles to be ready to eat. 

NOTE : Sometimes I don`t measure out how many as some recipes ask because the cucumbers are not large or small, so this is what I do, I prepare my jars and slice or chop how I want the cucumber to be and place them in the jars, that way I do not cut up to many or not enough.. I did spears this time, To make spears cut  the ends off, cut in half, next cut the half in half and if its still to big cut that in half. 


Figs! Its time for figs and if you are lucky you will harvest more than the birds eat and the ants finish up. Last year I was given a whole crop of figs so I still had plenty of preserves, so I wondered what to do with this years figs, I dehydrated a couple screens and that became a pint bag,  I made some with light syrup and I made fig spread, like what is in the middle of the cookie fig newtons. I thought that would be an awesome treat around Christmastime. 

Fig Spread - Makes 2 half pints

2 quarts of fresh ripe Figs

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

Chop figs into small pieces. 

In a large cooking pot combine figs and the water and bring to a hard boil, add sugar and lemon juice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Stirring often so not to stick to the bottom and burn.

When the figs get thick and dark remove from heat and fill jars. Apply a new lid and process in a water bath for 5 minutes. 

NOTE : Figs are naturally sweet and they have a good amount of water naturally, so this will take some time to make, it will cook slow and on a low setting. I put it on the back eye of the stove and made dinner while it was condensing, once it gets super thick keep an eye on it so not to let it burn.

So that is what has been happening around the homestead. Putting what I grow into jars to enjoy for the cold months coming. And not letting a banana go bad and being wasteful. 

Have you home canned or froze any of this seasons fruits or vegetables? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Friday, August 4, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The Homestead and Banana Jam

August 4, 2017

I have to say that I am not making much progress this year as far as getting what I want most, solar power. And, although I have looked up people about getting a well drilled I have no talked to anyone about price and a well would be welcome because this water is terrible at this place. With not knowing if I will stay here or go is another problem I am facing, I wont give up this house but I may downsize and use this place as a vacation house.


For now I will continue to work on the food stockpile, I am still maintaining the food for now and Winter stock plus beyond that. Sometimes I think about how much fruit, jams and jellies I am home canning, is to many? to much and I need to get back to vegetables only?  Then I remember the years that the fruit blooms got froze with a Springtime freak storm and we had no fruit or jams that year, and most everyone knows that the canned foods last for years so I continue making the jam, jelly and plain fruits since I am getting 90% of them free. 

The vegetable garden is sort of at a stand still except the cucumbers, I am beginning to get a basket full every other day. What okra plants I have left are making but I have to collect twice before I get two servings for a meal. I still get a few bell peppers. The new tomatoes are blooming as well as the new bell peppers. 

My fig bush, to me its a tree since I have to get on a ladder to get them, is doing great this year. I am canning figs about once a week. Plus Tony`s uncle gave us a basket full and told him to come get the rest if he wants them. This time I canned the last batch in light syrup  so that I can enjoy the figs because the preserves are just to sweet for me.

Click here for : How to make fig preserves 

I also put a couple racks of split figs into the dehydrator, this is the first time I have dried figs. After drying I got 1 pint of dried figs. I put them into a ziploc freezer bag and then into a quart mason jar for extra protection.

What about banana? Well.... when I mentioned watermelon jelly Tony asked " how about banana jelly I bet that would be good!" I never thought about using bananas so I looked it up and sure enough there was a recipe so I made a batch. However I did alter the recipe a little by cutting the amount of sugar and I must say the cloves are strong so next time I will cut back on those as well, its not pretty in the jar because its a grayish color but the taste is fantastic! Recipe for Banana jam coming soon!

Click here for Recipe :  Watermelon jelly  

As far as me getting the fields cleared I have not. I manage to keep the walking track me and the dogs use mowed and that is it. I do push mow the area around the house and my dogs area. Since both riding mowers quit and I began push mowing all of it again I nearly killed myself working 12 to 14 hours a day working, so I have up the fields when I had to chose. The past few weeks each time I go to buy a new riding mower either they do not have what I want or they try to push one on me I cannot afford, something always happens right there at the store and I end up not getting what I need.

Now that its a new month, usually our hottest of the year, we will see what mother nature has in store for us here in central Alabama, the way this year has been so far we may have an early Fall. 

What is happening at your homestead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry