Saturday, November 24, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - The Late Fall & Inventory Of Canned Goods

In Alabama we are going into late fall, meaning we have a few cold days and nights but we are not into the set weather pattern.

We can still grow many plants without protection. Collards do well in the colder temps as well as turnips and kale. The mustard greens look okay but you can tell the cold has touched them a few nights, the turnip greens are turning purple themselves but it foes not change the taste at all. God blessed me with greens this year.

Since I am not as advanced as some off the grid I do not have a hot house, greenhouse or cold frames, yet. I tried the greenhouse but I was not ready and knew nothing so it flopped. I have  A LOT to learn.

I am also still working to make a living, I don`t have it down on how to live free and not have to have some sort of work away from the homestead. I would love to rely on whatever the homestead has to offer as an income, hard work but I would do it any day than to have to leave for work. This is something more to learn.

I still need the root cellar/ storm shelter. not only to store the home canned foods to keep them cooler but to store fresh as well. If we have a tornado warning I can use it as shelter.

I did sort of an inventory a couple weeks ago. I only got the one room, so I know I have more in the pantry to count. But here ya go, this is what I have for now.

Jelly, jams and pastes = 250 half pints
Vegetables = 116 pints
Soup and Chili = 58 pints
Pickles- peppers - relish = 43 pints
Fruit = 37

Total counted = 504 pints/half pints

I did stop at the fruit and did not finish counting, I have yet to count the pears and blackberries. Plus I may get to home can more kale before the year is out.

This is only the home canned, I did freeze some, a lot of okra, but I am trying to get away from freezing to get rid of the deep freezer when I go solar. This is a hard habit to break!

I need to learn how to grow more vegetables. I need to preserve more nuts and mushrooms.

How did you do home canning for the summer of 2018?

By Andria Perry

Photos by Andria Perry

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - Green Before It Was Cool

"A flower child is what you are, just born a little to late to run with the others," is what my brother told me when I was a kid. I am not sure how he meant it but I am sure I know now. 

I am not normal.  I would rather grow my own food than buy, I would rather make my own soap than buy it and I would rather cure myself before even thinking about a doctor.

I had made the statement online once that I am going green and I got made fun of by some asshole, telling me I did not know what being green was, so I learned to keep it to myself.

Although there are some things I cannot give up at the moment, being a car, because I live in the woods and I am working as a caregiver, I have reduced the amount of buying. I sit back and think do I need this or do I want this? Usually its a want and when I realize that fact I save my money and do with what I already have. While many people meet for lunch and shopping, I decline the offer and suggest a picnic and fishing at the local lake/park.

Don`t know how to clean fish? I got that covered, click here on "How to clean Bass" 

I know all have heard the three R`s, meaning Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, there is another R and its Refuse.

I actually think that refuse should be at the top of going green, by refusing then you do not add to the problem.

Reducing is always an excellent option because do we really need 50 pairs of dress shoes? Do we really need to redecorate every year?

Reusing. This one can get weird. I have seen YouTube videos about reusing items and making crafts, I prefer minimal so I`m not always cleaning junk, I reuse the glass containers the most, I try to buy in glass when I can.

Recycling is awesome, it take less energy to recycle than to make new, however, plastic is plastic no matter how you get it so I try my best to lay low on the plastic. I make sure every can, tin and aluminum, gets recycled and most recycling plants will pay you to bring in the "trash."

In these times of high tech I am sure I wont ever go back to the "good ole days" of candle light and no t.v. but I can do my part in reducing the amount of energy that I do use, or actually get that solar powered house I been looking for all these years, if its Gods will. 

This week I have practiced "refuse" when I got the mail asking me to subscribe to magazines again. I put that letter in the recycling.

I am thinking about writing a monthly update on how I am doing with this whole GO GREEN! thing, its a journey, one well worth my time.

How green are you?

By Andria Perry

Photo By Andria Perry

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - I`m Still Homesteading and Cooking Roots

Life is always about ups and downs, No one is always going to have the perfect life and no one will always have the down and out parts of life. Its how we handle each situation and move on that is important.

Living on a homestead is the same, so I am figuring out. You have to go with the flow and not fight it, what will be will be, its all Gods will. 

I was not blessed with some foods that I eat regular but I am blessed beyond my imagination with another.

This summer it was all about okra. I did get the perfect amount to put up for myself as well as shared with so many people. 

This fall its all about greens, where I am not seeing many collard plants I do have curly mustard, kale and turnip greens, now with a little age I have those wonderful purple top turnips. I have gave away as many greens as I have canned or more. 

I do enjoy giving fresh vegetables from my garden, especially greens, the wonderful punch of vitamins in eat bite. I do not ask for anything back but at times someone will give me something from their homestead as a trade but its not necessary.

Winter is here, no not by the calendar but by the cold air and freezes, so there is not much I can grow, yet, without a cold frame or greenhouse. I still do not have the greenhouse thing down.

So, its dreaming time, make that plan.

My plan is to let this homestead make me money while I live on it. I never dream little, I have big dreams that I will take slow and one step at a time. When I seen it by just looking, I did write it down, drawings and all.

For now its just the time of the year where I need to look hard at what the homestead has to offer me and get busy gathering it.

Now Lets Cook!  

Turnips taste spicy when ate raw and completely different when cooked, more like the taste of the green but more intense. 

Today I made boiled turnips with butter.

First trim off the tops and the roots.

Wash the turnips in cold water.

Cut the bigger ones in half so the will all cook properly.

Add just enough water to cover the turnips and boil on medium heat.

When done, you can stick a fork in it and its soft but not mushy.

Add salt, a sprinkle of sugar and a generous amount of butter.

That is it! Enjoy.

What is going on, on your homestead? 

By Andria Perry

Photos by Andria Perry

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - That Dirty Word!

I have been so happy in my little world of hot weather and vegetable gardening. Still gathering in mid October. 

Last night I heard the dirty word, cold. Yes the weather lady said by Monday night it would be a crispy 39 degrees and in these woods that could mean a frost/freeze for me since its somewhat colder.

This week I have had this drive deep inside to home can food, maybe it stems from hurricane Michael, maybe its just me.

I have home canned 72 pints of mixed greens, mustard and turnip, kale and collards. But I gave someone in Florida a case to take home with them, so I have 60 pints so far, I may can more this evening. I will try to gather more this week to get them done, just in case. Besides canning for myself I have cooked and frozen two quarts and gave them to an elderly lady and cooked and froze 2 more quarts for my sister, I have picked and gave away so many grocery sacks packed with greens, mostly to the elderly, a few sacks for my friend, I do think I was blessed with greens this year. I give thanks to God.

While at Walmart I seen carrots for .94 per two pounds so I bought a couple, making four pounds. I home canned six pints, sliced, and I made Lentil soup with the rest, I got six pints of soup. 

I had left over beef roast, not much, but I had plenty of broth so I made seven pints of vegetable beef soups.

The hickory nuts are falling and there seems to be many this year, I reckon I need to get the hammer out and try to smash them enough to pick some of the goody out. I hate to waste them and not many people wants to try and pick them. However, my friend did ask for some to try and I took her about a half sack.

We picked the lemons off the small tree I have in a huge pot, there were 17 this year and they smell so good!

I will began to prepare for wintertime, heat, I need to try out the heater one day soon before it get really cold.

How are you doing on your homestead? 

By Andria Perry

Photos By Andria Perry

Sunday, October 14, 2018

How To Home Can Greens - Getting Off The Grid

Fall is the time to enjoy greens of all kinds, especially turnip greens, mustard greens , kale  and collards. 

There is no sense in letting them go to waste, home can them for later, home canning preserves food for years! 

So how to do this? 

First you plow, or till, the dirt and make it softer, toss out seed and that is it!

In a matter of weeks you will see those greens coming up, another week or so and they are ready to pick and eat. 

Yes it is that simple! 

Lets get started.

Pick the greens by pinching off the outer leaves, by leaving the inside leaves the plant will continue to grow and you will have more greens. Do not put up the plants.

Once inside put them into a sink and fill with cold water, allow them to soak a few minutes, maybe 5 to 10, and then rinse them off, if you think you have any type of bugs on them just add salt to the soaking water. 

Now they go into a very large cooking pot and add only one half water, the greens will make their own juice too. 

While those greens are cooking wash and sterilize your canning jars. Set aside on a clean towel, put seals into the bands also setting those aside.

Get your pressure canner out and add 3 quarts of water and a splash of vinegar. Put the canner on the stove top and get that water mixture hot. 

Now that your greens are cooked pack the jars 3/4 the way, then add the juice to one inch head space ( that means to where the jar lid band will go) and 1/4 teaspoon canning salt. 

Wipe the jars rim with a clean damp cloth, making sure no food is in the way. Apply seal and band, tight but not really tight.

Place the jar into the pressure canner and out the lid on. Once the pressure has built up for 10 minutes put the jiggler on (10 pounds)  and time once it begins to rock for 30 minutes for pints and 45 for quarts.

Remove the canner from stove eye to a near by counter top. Allow pressure cooker to cool.

Remove the home canned greens to a towel to finish cooling, when cool enough to touch remove bands to use another time. 

That is how easy it is to home can greens. 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Getting Off The Grid - First Of The Fall

Its been a while since I have talked about the homestead. Seems life is in the fast lane and I have not slowed down to sit and talk about the homestead.

Summer has came to an end, as far as the calendar is concerned, and Fall is on us. Here in central Alabama the temps are the same as in summer so I am still waiting for the fall weather to come by and set a spell.

The Homestead :

I have not really did much on the homestead, I have been in the business mode.

I am not sure if I will try the greenhouse this year, it flopped last year, however I still have it. 

I have planned out the entire homestead, how to always have something to harvest, now I need to apply that plan and get life going. 

I need to build another dog house and rake the pine straw, other than that all is good.

From The Garden :

A dry spell came and stayed a while, slowed down or killed, any vegetables that were or may still bear till freeze. 

Then we had a couple days of rain and with that rain I got greens up and growing.

Finally I got to harvest enough to put in a green salad. A week later I picked 2 huge sacks.

The okra is still bearing, I am getting a few quarts a week now, I am giving away more than I keep at the moment.

The stockpile :

I have been lazy, I know this. Seems all I have canned or frozen are fruits. 

I still have muscadine juice waiting to be made into jelly.

But I did get off the road long enough to home can greens. I did the first yesterday, I got 7 pints of mixed greens. I will try to do more later so that I will have at least some put away for that rainy day.

I have been slicing okra for the freezer so no shortage of okra but I have been sharing as much as I keep with the elderly. 

The Learning :

 I have not learned anything much about homesteading this past month. But what I have learned is that people are not as nice as they pretend to be. 

I have to say, I am what you see, what you see is what you get.

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Come by and see me : Sunshine`s homestead creations