We do not have a lot of money so we designate extra funds to anything that builds or benefits our homestead. I picked up a “new” oil lamp and two beautiful wooden candle holders with chimneys at an antique store yesterday. Our house is so lovely and rather modern compared to our past houses. It was not built by homesteaders so a few changes were needed to prepare for our year of farming ahead.
We put up hundreds and hundreds of jars of produce each year and where will we put them? There is no basement here and we have limited storage. We spend most of our time in the main room of our house. When you walk in the front door you are in the living room which is attached to the dining room and is separated from the kitchen by only a 3/4 wall that was made into a pantry. If that wall were gone, it would be a perfect square. The wood stove putters along nicely heating the house and the east and west windows keep the space light, the high ceilings make it feel airy and rustic. To make it fit our needs better, there are two things we wanted to do, build shelves along the north wall and take down the wall.
With the rebate we received from getting solar panels on our last house we hired the fellow that put up our shed. The shelves are stunning and rustic. It is rather amazing how shelves can totally transform a space. We chose the brackets (Celtic scroll) and the wood stain. Four 12 foot long shelves went up on one side and two 6″ boards went up on the other side. Kevin was kind enough to move my behemoth piano to where I wanted it. The result is stunning. You could call our decorating style, 1860’s General Store style, I guess!
Each 12 foot shelf can hold 244 jars of produce. Is it safe to have all of one’s canned goods out in the open like that? I did my research and actively used a thermometer to monitor the temperatures of the wall in several places. The first time I ever saw canned goods was at one of my best friend’s houses when I was sixteen. Her family was Mormon and quite sufficient in their lifestyle. Rows of glimmering glass jars shone from open shelves on a sun porch. I was mesmerized. Funny how little things like that can change the course of your life.
According to my research, I learned a few things. 1)Canned goods are best kept out of direct sunlight. The shelves are on the north wall. Thanks to a covered patio out back, the sun never shines directly on that wall. 2) Homemade preserves are best kept between 50-70 degrees. No higher than 90-100 degrees. The highest temperature the wall got with the wood stove at its peak was 78 degrees. That was nearest the stove. The higher shelves were at the highest temperature because heat rises.
I believe that the sight of hundreds of colorful jars of sustaining produce is the prettiest art installation I have ever seen. It may seem odd to have all of one’s pantry out in the open but the benefits are many. One, it is so beautiful! Two, you can see everything available and inspiration for supper comes easier and you can see what you are getting low on. Three, it looks like an 1860’s General Store- which happens to be my current decorating style.
If we had installed the shelves ourselves it would have been even more affordable, but we didn’t fancy having crooked shelves and we needed them to be put up strong and correctly to hold that much weight! The second phase happens Wednesday when the wall comes tumbling down. Such little changes to make a homestead more efficient and charming.