Friday, February 1, 2013

Homesteading: Another Reason Why We Have Chosen to Move to a Home with Land, it's about saving money - Part 2

Earlier this week I made my way to the co-op where I purchase the majority of my food during the winter months. I hadn't been there in a while, trying my best to make the food we had in our home last as long as possible.  We've been eating up the last of the root vegetables and canned items we had in our "root cellar" from our garden last summer.

I had my grocery list in hand from the menu plan I made for the next couple of weeks. So very thankful I took the time to make a menu plan and a grocery list so I knew exactly what I needed, because if there is one place it's easy to overspend (at least in my world) it's at the co-op. I grabbed my cart and headed over to the fresh veggie area, bypassing most of the fruits, because I know that for the value veggies are more nutritious and filling. The items I was planning on purchasing were fairly simple; broccoli, cauliflower, greens and so on.

As I stood in front of some of the veggies I grabbed a bundle of broccoli and then looked at the price and honestly it's likely my jaw dropped. Prices had gone up and not by a little. I took my broccoli over to the scale to see how much it weighed. I quickly realized that for me to buy enough broccoli for a meal for my family I would spend a little under $15. Not going to happen. It can't happen, we can't afford to spend that much money on one item of food for one meal. I continued to move down the vegetable line and was amazed at just how many items had seen price increases in the last couple of months. How can people afford this... wait, many of us can't.

So now what? I could try heading to one of the local grocery stores and see what prices are, but for me food is not just for the stomach it's an investment into our overall health. I prefer a healthy family with our money going towards what we eat instead of towards the doctor. So for me personally standard grocery store food is out. It's simply missing the nutrients our bodies need. 

Our garden in August 2012

Monday, January 28, 2013

Homesteading: Why we have chosen to move to a home with land - Part 1

Since moving to a home where we have land, one of my goals has been to provide our family with all of our food right here at home. Why? I think first and foremost, my desire comes from the instinct to take care of my family, especially my children. For the past five years I have been learning about different food ideologies. There are many, including myself, who are very passionate about providing our bodies with the healthiest food we can. No matter where my research has lead me, one thing I could consistently take away is that our food today, whether organic or not, is void of much of its nutrients, caused primarily because of poor farming practices. So, what can I do? I could choose the route of adding supplements to our diet to help fill out was is missing in food. However, for me there is one problem with this approach. I don't believe we truly understand vitamins and minerals yet, especially how they work with one another within our body. It's why there is a steady flow of changing information on what to take for the best overall health. Instead I've decided I'd rather focus on growing the most nutrient rich food I can in a sustainable way and allow it to nourish our bodies.

Beyond the overall nutrition, I realize it's also not just enough to feed my children, I also feel it's important that they understand food; how it's grown, where it comes from and why it's so important for their bodies. I hope as they work in the garden, and this year start a garden of their own, they can begin to learn to appreciate nature and how God called us to be stewards of the land.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Check out the books we are currently reading to help us prepare for the spring growing season!

It's January. Thank heavens! I have been waiting for this blessed month since last spring. As winter has set in with the deep cold and snow and the holidays have passed, I finally feel like I can spend more time reading. As long as the weather has been nice I have felt obligated to be working outside on the many, many projects we have on our list, but with winter here there is not so much to do with the ground frozen solid and covered in a foot of snow. My husband and I are thinking through some changes in our lives as we consider how best to go about creating the homestead we desire for our family. We aren't sure exactly what this is going to look like yet, but we are trusting in the Lord for His guidance and relying on Him to show us the next steps we should take.

Since neither of us has a strong knowledge base in sustainable ways of growing our own food or raising our own animals for the table we are spending plenty of time researching. The spring season will be here before we know it and we have a lot of planning to still do to take the most advantage of the warmer days.

In the past, information such as what we are looking for would have been passed on from family and friends, generation to generation. But the last century has seen generational knowledge thrown to the wayside for modern convenience. It's sad how quickly we have lost much of our heritage. Not enough people have stopped to think about what it means to let go of the knowledge of forefathers. So, this leaves us looking for new sources to train ourselves and arm ourselves with the knowledge we need to find a little more self-reliance for the future.

While the internet is certainly loaded with plenty of information and a resource I use often, I prefer to have a solid core of books on the shelf for referencing as needed without running to the one computer our family shares. Frankly, I also far prefer to read a book than read on a screen... there's something about the feel of a good book in hand and a comfy chair that calls to me like a computer never will.

When in research mode, I rarely read just one book at a time. Perhaps a touch of ADD when it comes to learning! Instead my coffee table has a whole slew of books spread about on it. Right now, we are learning from the following books, all of which I am greatly enjoying and finding very useful. I am taking bits and pieces from each book and applying them to what we have in our mind and the land that we have. Some of the books do contradict one another just a bit, but overall they each fall in line and serve well in providing a wide range of ideas for creating the homestead we dream of.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon

If there is one food subject that really fascinates me, it's fermentation. I have been delving into fermenting different foods for several years now, but certainly have a long way to go before having a full grasp of all that can be done for food preservation through fermentation, along with the great variety of food and drinks that can be prepared.

When given the opportunity to review Wardeh Harmon's new book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods, I happily said yes. Wardeh maintains the site GNOWFGLINS. Already one of my favorites to check out for a variety of useful information for making foods from scratch, I just knew her book would be great. She certainly hasn't let me down. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much detail she included and the full extent of her knowledge.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fresh Eggnog, very easy and oh so good

As we sat down for Advent, the snow was falling peacefully outside. We warmed ourselves by the fire and the kids gleefully sipped on small wine glasses filled with eggnog. They feel so grown up enjoying their special holiday drink.

For me it's not quite the Christmas season unless a glass of eggnog is being sipped on during the joyful time of decorating the Christmas tree, playing games together as a family near the fire and taking a quiet moment to celebrate Advent. While store bought eggnog may have a place, making fresh eggnog isn't hard and all the more enjoyed when the eggs come from your chickens and the cream and milk being used is from a wonderful raw milk source. You could almost call the drink healthy... almost. :)

This particular eggnog is creamy, yet light from the addition of the whipped egg whites. It's also not overly sweet, it more falls into the just right category for me. Some may prefer a bit more sweetness if more accustomed to store bought eggnog. If so, you can increase the sugar to a more desired amount. While it can stay in your fridge for several days, it's best enjoyed right after making it. It only takes about 15 minutes to make. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Simple Way to Make Apple Cider Vinegar

I am always looking for ways to cut our spending with food without giving up the whole, real, organic food that I find to be extremely important for maintaining healthy, strong bodies. In my search for ways to reduce our spending I'm finding that many of the products I have been purchasing are actually very easy to make and are often made with items that I'd normally throw away.

Insert apple cider vinegar here.

I always have cider vinegar in my pantry. I normally purchase an organic, unfiltered one that isn't necessarily cheap for the pocket book, but it's one of those items that has a variety of uses and I've found it essential to have on hand at all times.

I'm fairly certain that a couple of apples pies are going to grace more than one households table this week. So this seemed like a good time to share this "recipe". Organic apples are essential here. You don't want any unwanted pesticide residue in your vinegar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's time to start blogging again! What we've been up to...

It's been weeks and weeks and more weeks and I haven't gotten a post up. Life has been going at full speed for so long now that I think we've begun to forget what it looks like to slow down! But it's all good, because what's been keeping us busy are the kiddos and learning how to be more self sustainable on the land we moved to.

Our first eggs from the chickens we've raised and oh how good they were!
I hope this will be the first of many posts to share what we have been learning about and boy learning is something that we have been immersing ourselves in.

learning how to...
  • home school our children
  • create a healthy environment for our chickens
  • build a chicken run and how to most effectively use it
  • slaughter and butcher our own chickens
My children are learning first hand where their food comes from and we showed them how to slaughter and butcher the chickens they've been helping us raise.
  • gardening using the Back To Eden approach (thank you to the person who shared this approach with me on FB)
  • make a root cellar in our home
  • preserve food in more ways
  • butcher a pig and turn it into all kinds of delicacies
My husband and brother butchering a whole pig we purchased. My brother has been staying with us and helping us our. It's been a wonderful blessing.
  • use all parts of an animal so nothing goes to waste
  • use our land to raise other animals next year
  • hunt small and large game
My husband's first deer and the beginning steps of butchering it for our dinner table.
  • utilize what we have and being content with not having more
  • help others with what God has given us 
  • build what we need or want with our own hands
    Building a new kitchen table for our growing family.
Even more importantly learning...
  • to be well balanced parents who are patient and loving and who focus on raising our children to know, love and understand who our Lord and Savior is
  • how to completely and totally rely on the Lord for His guidance and wisdom in all parts of our lives
  • how to have fun and enjoy all that we are doing, even when tiredness would cause us to feel and think otherwise

Besides learning we have also certainly been enjoying ourselves.
  • Seeing our children run and play covered in dirt and full of imaginative play
  • Watching our youngest make her first smile and seeing my oldest make her laugh for the first time

  • Opening our home to a beautiful couple and watching them walk down the isle and commit themselves to one another before the Lord
A beautiful wedding in our backyard.
  • Harvesting our own food and for the first time in our lives enjoying meals where everything on the table was grown and harvested by us
Unearthing sweet potatoes.
  • Taking walks through our woods and land and seeing the many wonders of God through His creation
  • Celebrating birthdays and new life
I had fun making these cute lego cupcakes for my son's birthday this year.
  • Watching the sun rise and starting the day in God's Word
  • All running to the windows or heading outside in the evening to see the amazingly beautiful sunsets that happen just about every day
  • Watching the geese fly over, the turkey and geese mothers and their babies walking by on their way to who knows where, the snapping turtles wondering up the driveway, the deer grazing nearby, the chickens making themselves at home, the herrings roosting in the trees and the many other animals that make a frequent appearance
  • Seeing my children use their imaginations as they play with sticks, rocks and sand and watching them explore what is around us
Looking at the sunset out our front window.

These last months have been both amazing and joyful, filled with thankfulness. But to be fare I don't want to make it out that life has been perfect, while it has been wonderful in many ways it has also be exhausting. I have squeezed a lot on our plate trying to prepare us for some goals for the coming year. More than one tear has been shed on my part and there have certainly been many a day where I've wondered if I can make it through it when all I and my husband want to do is collapse on the couch and take a break... oh and sleep. I had forgotten just how tiring it can be to be up all night nursing a baby (yep my little one still nurses several times a night) while trying to pack in an extremely full day. I have struggled with not knowing where everything is at and not being organized since we are still making a place for things since our move. It hasn't all been fun and games and it's been a lot of hard and tiring work, but it's been good... very, very good.

Stay tuned as I begin to share more of our experiences and of course a mix of recipes and some crafty and artistic creations. The posts may come far and few between at times, since my relationship with the Lord, being a wife and a mother all come before anything else and take a good deal of my time, but the posts will come.