Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

Five pounds of smoky, rich local coffee beans are a comfort to have. We still have 3/4 of a fifty pound bag of organic, unbleached flour. We have lots of wheat gluten and jars upon jars of pulses, like barley, rice, and pinto beans. Did we know that there would be a worldwide pandemic? Yes and no. We knew there would be something, and it is just a smart way to live. To be prepared. It is as comforting as a big cup of hot coffee on a cool spring morning.

We homestead for many reasons. Everyone knows that the power can go out at any time. Job losses and lay offs happen. Natural disasters happen. People get sick. But we don’t just homestead for disaster preparedness; there are other reasons too.

We homestead to save money. A five pound bag of organic coffee is $60, recently roasted locally and the beans are sourced sustainably and fair trade. A fifty pound bag of flour is about fifty bucks. That is a stellar price for organic, unbleached flour. Organic is very important to us and we would like items that we can’t produce ourselves to be fairly and sustainably grown and sold.

We also save money by preserving our own food. I save scraps from vegetables, the ends of onions, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, veggies that are just turning, and make them into savory jars of broth. I make fourteen jars at a time for free, basically. I guess the lids cost a couple of bucks. A quart of organic vegetable broth in the store is a minimum of five dollars. I have jars of broth at the ready for cheaper than a Walmart special.

By having pulses and foods on hand, we eat out a lot less because we have food here. It is all displayed in beautiful canning jars and is easy to see and be inspired by.

We homestead for better food. By growing our own food, we control what is used to produce it, how it is handled, when it is harvested, and its freshness. And to have food. I suppose a lot of y’all are going to have a garden this year after seeing so many empty grocery store shelves! We have fresh eggs (we are vegan outside of that), plenty of grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables canned and frozen.

We have candles, lamp fuel, water in jugs, cleaning products, a bag of homemade soap, and craft projects for days. But here is what I have learned from this quarantine.

We need to save more money. Well, we need to save money period. All our bills are paid and we have everything we need but in these situations, an emergency fund would be more of a comfort than a cup of coffee.

We need to preserve more food. Last year we moved before harvest time. The year before I started a shop that promptly closed, but took up all my time during harvest season. Luckily I had canned a lot before that, but geez, no more slacking! I usually put up a couple hundred jars of food a year. This year I have a lofty goal of over five hundred jars of food and several gallon bags of frozen vegetables. I am also growing and/or buying a lot of things to dry and dehydrate.

We need to figure out how to save more water. We will look into rain barrels and ways to save drinking water this year in case of emergency. Right now, with our animals, we have maybe two day’s worth saved. Not enough!

Homesteading is an adventure. One can do it from anywhere. Joining a community garden, buying produce from a farmer’s market, canning in an apartment, saving jugs of water under the bed, learning to sew, getting a few oil lamps, buying second hand; the ways are endless. We gradually improve our ways of homesteading by experience. This year will be our most ambitious farm yet and this quarantined time has showed us what we need to focus on. I hope something good will come out of this time for all of you out there. How are you homesteading? What skills will you learn this year?

12 thoughts on “This is Why We Homestead (and how we will prep better this year)

  1. Julie P says:

    This year I will use the pressure canner!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Yay! The new ones aren’t scary!

      1. mrmhf says:

        Can you recommend any models/types?

      2. Farmgirl says:

        I just got mine from Walmart. All of the new pressure canners are fool proof. No beans splayed across the ceiling like at Great-grandma’s house!

  2. webbermd says:

    A skill we need is to improve is our orchard this year. Skills we have learned is building an off grid home, installing our own solar system, creating a thermosyphon hot water system through the wood cook stove, building a bicycle generator, etc… I never consider ourselves preppers, but having survived an economic down turn as a kid, I wanted my wife and I to own our home and have little to no debt, so a job loss wouldn’t cost us everything. Perhaps, living sustainable is a sort of preparedness.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      And it is such an amazing way to live. So much more peace of mind and spirit.

  3. I love this — so inspiring, especially in these challenging days!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thank you so much!

  4. mrmhf says:

    We were a year behind in our schedule to become sustainable from a food perspective. The veg garden will be ready this year to hopefully satisfy our food requirements.

    On that note, do you can/jar tomatoes? If yes, can you share any tips?

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I have done a lot of posts on how to can things, but I don’t think I have done one on tomatoes! We will have to do one this year. Tomatoes are easy because they are water bath canned, but they do take a bit. If you have a helper, and assembly line is great, but I typically do it all myself.
      Tips:
      Peel the tomatoes first. The skins are not appealing once canned.
      If you are going to boil down a puree for sauce, just throw all the tomatoes in the Vitamix first. Then you don’t need to peel or seed them.
      1 teaspoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice per pint. Important!!
      1 inch headspace.
      Let water get to a rolling boil and can for 10 minutes plus one minute per 1000 feet of altitude.

  5. Soul Tranquility says:

    Finally utilizing what we have and not wasting energy and money on what we don’t!

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