Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Getting Off The Grid - Running Late

Welcome to my journey to get off the grid and making a homestead.

The week of the 11th to the 17th. was a back and forth week, normal for me at this time, at this point in life.

This month the temperatures have been higher than normal and rainy for Alabama so I am not sure how this will effect the fruit trees, I did not get to tap the trees to make syrup, the main reason being that many I want to tap could be underwater this week with all the rain, so I do not want to waste. All I can do it note it on my book about this year and try again next year.

I have the area cleaned now and I just have a few small pines to drop and its ready to build on.

My Work Week - February 11-17, 2019

Monday -  I made cheese! I had read a blog about making cheese at home and without any special equipment. I made two type instead of just one, I just used 1/2 for each type so I got two 8 ounce containers. I made plain with just salt, a little to much salt!, and its more like a soft mozzarella and I made pepper Jack and I let it set out longer to get a little harder and it turned out wonderful!

Tuesday - I slept all day, it rained. As I have been told I do deserve a day off. Yes working on the homestead is hard work but once you get used to it, it feels normal to get up and chop down a tree.

Wednesday - I worked at the old home place, cleaning the tree debris. While I had one day without prediction of rain. This needed to have been done a whole back but was not so I decided to get this part done, I worked a couple hours and got most of it contained to the back edge of the property, this property is not large but on the side of a mountain so the work feels harder. I just have small stuff to move now and I will take a tarp with me next time and try to get all of it in one pull down the hill.

 Thursday -  I cut down five pine trees, dragged some limbs to the street. I concentrated on this for the day since there was no rain yet, I am using an electric saw so I have to plan. Five down and twelve to go!

Friday - Pulled brush to the street, I had a pile by the driveway that needed to be moved so I could work on this side of the driveway, I burned the raked up pile of chopped blackberry bushes, pine straw and poison ivy vines (I used a mask). I did not have a full day to work so I did what I could in a couple hours, the fire was past dark and I was lucky it did burn all the way because the rain came.

Saturday -  I cut the last of the vines in the area I want cleared, cut some small branches off the pines with the loppers, next I began cutting on the south side of the property against the fence, the other side of the driveway, I want this clear for a building or parking. I dragged more brush to the street for pickup. I have all of the cut down limbs to the street except a few pine limbs. I am sure I will get those moved before the next pick up. I also sowed more tomato seen in flower pots, big boys this time, after all its only a month till Spring!

Sunday - Took off because of the rain and went into town.

The weather is all crazy right now, as usual for this time of the year in Alabama, but we are having an entire week of rain coming for the 17th. till 24th. I have not gotten to use the wood chipper! I put it in a closet.

What to do while it rains and you are stuck in the house? 

Plan! Plan the garden and what you`ll plant. 

Look for the seeds or plants you will be planting.

Draw up the plans to the new building, look at costs and compare building to buying.

Clean house! Since I have been working outside I let the inside slide. Get rid of clutter, best time of the year to do this, new year, clean and clutter free home.

Clean out the deep freezer, take inventory of what you need for the next growing season so you can plant.

How was your past week on your homestead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

I am still making progress on this homestead, getting a store built. For now I am just selling online, so check out my online store for homemade lotions, soaps and more. All made as natural as possible. Sunshine`s Homestead Creations. New scent added this week! Honey Almond.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Getting Off The Grid - A Week Of Work? Or Not?

New mint coming up 2019

Welcome to my journey to get off the grid and making a homestead.

Well, the weather turned bad with a severe drop in temperature, from 79 degrees down to 45 degrees, with the last cold front so that first day kept me inside being such a shock to my body and another kept me inside with rain.

Although I do love the warmth of the 70`s I am not ready for Spring to arrive just yet, after all its just February! I want the long sleeves on and the gloves to go to work because I get less cuts, scrapes, briers and poison oak. But if its in the 70`s I tend to shed all the extra protect because I am over heating. Nonetheless, I work in most any weather condition, that is what you have to do on a homestead. 

With that being said I won`t do a week of working on the homestead since I took more than one day off to go to work or it was cold or wet. However, much did happen. 

Monday the city did not pick up the huge pile of brush I put by the road, I called and for some reason they had skipped this road but they came during the week and did get every single limb, I was impressed because this pile was huge! As in fill up a dump truck huge.

Calhoun county dump

I made it to the dump! I got rid of that truck load of yard trash, as I unloaded it at the dump I seen I had a lot of mental, so maybe someone will pick it and make a few dollars. I had ordered the wood chipper on Friday Feb. 1st. and it arrived the next  Tuesday, I put it together but the weather has been to bad for me to take it out and use it.

New wood chipper

I finally received the big boy tomato seed, I got a couple seed not labeled so I am guessing they are the free seed the company mentioned when I emailed them about my order, more big boys? Who knows but I will plant them separate. Next plant date will be according to the farmers guide as best date to plant or sow seed. 

Blackberry bushed and vines covered in pine straw

One afternoon after I got off work I did have 2 1/2 hours before dark, so me and the dogs walked a few laps around the fields then I got busy on the last section left to clean up on the area I plan to put a building, maybe another small greenhouse, the worst section! the section that has every vine or thorn I can think of area. I cut my way to the small pines in this area and then trimmed all the lower limbs, why trim the lower limbs? because its easier to work with the overgrown blackberry bushes, the vines and the saw briers underneath and not get your eye poked out. I was on a roll and I got ALL of it done except a few blackberry bushes over to one side, I did not want dark to come.

I was told by someone that seen the last work, with the pines standing alone, " Looks like what the German people do, clean the forest" I was happy with that compliment :) But I will take a saw to those small pines because they will shade my future greenhouse.

Another evening when I had about an hour I cleaned under the wild cherry trees. I see they are about to began to bloom, I would like to maybe get a few berries this year. Make up cough syrup.
New cleaned area for the dogs, summer shade

Saturday  I had to work both jobs so I took advantage of being in town, I stopped by Lowe`s home improvement store and bough the fencing for the new summer dog area and a few step in posts.

And on Sunday I rested.

Plans :

This week is supposed to be warm again but rainy also, the rain will rule my progress outside. At the moment everything is electric, the wood chipper and the saw, so if the work is not done with the loppers or a rake I won`t be clearing any.

I think its time to tap a tree for sap, I have charged the drill and will pick a day to try this for the first time. I hope I get this right the first time.

That was my week on the homestead.

I am still making progress on this homestead. For now I am just selling online, so check out my online store for homemade lotions, soaps and more. All made as natural as possible. Sunshine`s Homestead Creations. 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Monday, February 4, 2019

Getting Off The Grid - January Rolled Into February

Welcome to my journey to get off the grid.

The end of January and the first few days of February were so different but so predictable for Alabama. Snow predicted one day and a few days later a nice 70 degrees!

I was looking for the seed to arrive in the mail this week but they never came so I emailed them and they told me that they would arrive in 10 day with free seed. I won`t hold my breath I ordered the big boy tomato seed on January 7th.!

The baby tomatoes, beef steak, are growing and I am hopeful they will make plenty of tomatoes so I can home can enough for 2 years of tomatoes and tomato based sauces.

Monday - Although I did not get into "the bush" I did get the garage cleaned out, sometimes things I need are put there and I know not to buy more. Its good to do an inventory to refresh my memory. 

Tuesday - The cold front came in so the temperatures drop 25 degrees from the day before making it a shock to the body so I took the day off and rested up.

 Wednesday - I have new lightweight loppers and although its still cold outside the sun was shining so around 2:30 pm I went out and cut more down in the area I am working on, mostly dead blackberry bushes, saw briers and poison oak vines. I trimmed lower limbs off more of the small pine trees and took them to the one pile. 

I got to thinking if I had a wood chipper I could make my own mulch with those pine branches. I might check prices for the wood chipper.

Thursday - After work I came home and cleaned out the flower beds by the deck, I still like a couple but some work on them was better than none at all.

 Friday - I worked two jobs all day, being a landlady and a caregiver, so no work got done on the homestead at all. I ordered a wood chipper and it should be here next week, invest a little and save a lot. 

Saturday -  This was my day off so I got busy with a new project that I have been wanting to do for a while, I started on the area behind the garage. It has never really been cleaned up and junk found its way back there, like a grave yard for junk. I pulled the truck up beside the garage and I loaded it up with plain trash and unwanted junk! I do have a truck load to haul to the dump. After I got that loaded up I got the push mower out and cleaned up around the greenhouse where grass had grown up and I did not get it cut before the winter came. I am sure I worked 5 house.

Sunday - Another beautiful day with temps around 70 degrees. Behind the garage I raked and cleaned a path for the fence to be put in, just passed I continued to clip down the small bushes and make a nice pile to be dealt with later, still out of the way. I also went down to the greenhouse and cut back a few of the small bushes that the lawnmower would not cut, I started in the wooded area on that side and clipped my way through to the new clearing I already had going. I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so next week I will need to cut down more small pines with the electric saw.

That was my week on the homestead.

I am still making progress on this homestead. For now I am just selling online, so check out my online store for homemade lotions, soaps and more. All made as natural as possible. Sunshine`s Homestead Creations. 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry

Monday, January 28, 2019

Getting Off The Grid - Sowing Seeds And A Week On The Homestead

Have you ever wondered when the garden centers bought their tomato plants from a greenhouse so that in April you can buy them? Some are small and some are in huge pots and already have baby green tomatoes.

I know the answer! Well, for the people here in Alabama - zone 7.

Now! Yes right now the greenhouses sow the seed so that everyone who buys plants will have them, ready and waiting to go in the garden. Before this homestead I never thought about it, then I decided to try this out myself.

The first time I sowed my own tomato seed I had nice lush plants when April came around, I planted them in my flower beds by the deck, I had six plants. For the garden I needed twenty five plants so I bought those from the local garden center. The results were astonishing! I got more tomatoes off my six tomato plants than I did from all twenty five of the store bought ones planted in the garden, plus mine were still producing when the freeze came, the garden plants were dead, long gone and plowed under.

I am still to this day not sure why my tomatoes did so much better.


Last year I decided to get an extra month, so I planted a batch in December. They grew tall and loved being inside the house, even had a few tomatoes because I pollinated them but they were weak when I got them outside into the garden they did not do well.

So, going with what I know, I sowed one batch of beef steak tomato seed on January 20th. and on the 27th. they were busting through the dirt so I have babies.

I am actually waiting on the seed to arrive by mail for the big boy tomatoes, I will sow those as soon as possible. I like a variety of tomatoes.

Homestead Progress

 How was my week? Here is how far I have gotten on getting this homestead a working and money making place. 

Embrace the seasons, whether its warm and sunny or cold and windy. There is always work on the homestead and if you think about it you can always do something, even if you feel its something small, you are still moving toward your goal.

Sunday it was cold outside but there was still sunshine, after working a couple hours you really are not cold anymore. I cut down a pine tree, then cleaned the branches off, I will use the tree. I cut down more small bushes and toted them down to the pile to be burned later in the winter, after they dry. I got my first blister of the year and popped it while working.

Monday it was still cool but the temps getting a little warmer, I raked up all the chopped up blackberry bushes and leaves, cleaning the ground. I began to clean another smaller area where I have windows and the grass and blackberry vines were grown up.

Tuesday was nice outside but slightly windy so I waited for the wind to calm down since I had planned to burn the huge pile of dead, dried blackberry bushes. I had to go into town and I spotted new seed. I bought beets and eggplant seed. When I got back home just about dark the winds were calm and I burned the pile, with a water hose on near.

Wednesday - Rain a few sprinkles in the morning and then the bottom fell out, rain had set in so I took this as a day off. I actually slept and rested my body.

Thursday the rain was gone but left me with a soaked and flooded in spots homestead. Now where many would be down in the dumps about this I was not, I was actually thrilled. I could see where the water had pooled, I could see the higher areas not really seen with the naked eye. I could see the homestead in the future. The cold came in and knocked the temperature back to 45 degrees, I did about an hour of clipping down another section of the dead blackberry bushes and than I went to work for the rest of the day.

Friday - No matter what the temps were I had sunshine, so I went out and got started  in the area I am clearing I clipped using the loppers and I started me another pile, small pile of dead to burn. This area is the hardest because it has dead vines also, while I did not work but a couple hours I got something accomplished.

Saturday was a little warmer and I got the saw back out, I had this pine down but the small branches had to come off, I cleaned it and moved it out with the others to be used. I cut the lower branches off another small pine so I could clean the vines and blackberry bushes away so I can cut it down. I got another small area cut back but this area has some live blackberry bushes and they were brutal, I got slapped back and it got my hand, leaving a few thorns and a lot of blood. I got my revenge! I chopped it and raked it to the burn pile.

Sunday the temps were back up around 60 degrees. I did not work on the area I am clearing instead I worked all around the homestead. Seems there is trash no matter what I do, in the woods too. I got up a couple black bags of just plain old trash! I said out loud " How did this trash get here? I don`t remember throwing this stuff on the ground." I also put the water hose up, filled the dogs self feeding bin and straightened the shed, very little but some is better than nothing.

Do I see a difference? Heck yeah!

Each tree down, each section raked I see this becoming a money making homestead, with a variety of goods and not just what I can provide in the online store, Sunshine`s Homestead Creations.

How was your pasted week on your homestead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Monday, January 21, 2019

Getting Off The Grid- Its Been One Week

January in Alabama can be a wild ride, one day the temperature will be 66° and the next day it will be 35°, one day sunshine the next a flash flood so you really have to work around or with the weather. The second week of January was cloudy but not to bad on the temps, the third week a little more sun and warmer temps, till Sunday and a cold front pushed in, however, I went with the changes to make the positive changes here, on the homestead. 

Last week I did manage to get back to the clearing of land by hand with electric saw and loppers, a few days around normal "go make a living work" and a day of rain.

Progress :

The area I am working on has had blackberry bushes to grow, produce and die. This was always an area I could not get into to pick the berries because of the overgrown bushes, much less clean up the dead. Its difficult cutting the dead into smaller pieces to rake up but I am managing.

By me starting at the edge and working my way into this area, cutting whatever is in my path, has been the best way to get this area cleaned up and once again usable.

Sunday although it was cold at 35° with a little wind I still got out and put in a couple hours of work. I cut down two pine trees, cleaned the branches off of them and pulled them aside, I will cut those and use for posts. I piled the branches just outside the garden area, when the needles die and fall off I can use the small branches. They will be cut up, for kindling. The dogs had a good time being with me in the fields, a change from the backyard. 

Planting :

Yes, you read that right! I usually plant by the moon and have success so this past weekend was the full moon, the lunar eclipse, blood moon. A good time to sow seed.

I sowed seed for the first round of tomatoes, I received the seed for the "beefsteak" type of tomato in the mail and I planted about 100 plants,  about 16 with their own pot and the rest a mass planting in a huge pot to be transplanted when big enough. The 16 will go into the ground as soon as last frost, maybe in the flower beds, depends on how far I am around the homestead when that time comes.

I am still waiting for the big boy tomato seeds to arrive.

In The Garden:

I am still getting curly mustard, kale and turnip greens with turnips, from the garden. God blessed me this year with more than enough and I have shared, still will of anyone wants more. I intend to home can another case if possible before the tilling for the spring garden.

This Weeks Plans :

I have two projects that needs to be done, one is to begin to build the first of six buildings. The other is to finish clearing and clean the one area for a building. 

Buy seed for sweet bell pepper, we eat those a lot so I need to get plants going inside. 

What did you accomplish on your homestead this passed week?

Stop by and check out "Sunshine`s Homestead Creations" online store, I have specials monthly. 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry