Creating a Life to Help You Really Live

There is a peacefulness here in the mornings. The sun shines hopeful light over the mountain sides and the breezes are light. The changes in season are obvious and there is a certain beauty to the washed out pallor of late autumn. During this season, I feel very thankful for everything in my life. Truly, honestly, thankful. For my husband, my children, grandchildren, friends, animals, nature, health, comfort, and this lovely piece of land where the hearth fires burn. We purposely build a life that feeds us, inspires us, and fuels us. A homesteading life.

A homesteading life looks different in different situations with correlating bonds. We have chosen that I be a housewife. I make a little off of book royalties, and herbs, and this and that, but my place is in creating a home. We used to think that homesteading required two people at home. But we learned the hard way that to homestead in the state we were born in, one of us had to get a full time job. Many farmers and homesteaders do. In many cases, both parties work outside the homestead.

Having and pursuing a trade is a wonderful way to work towards self sufficiency. (A note on self sufficiency: it truly takes a community to sustain, but we will use the phrase to denote taking care of ourselves and others to our full ability.) If you can do something well, and it is a needed skill, then you can often support, or help support, your family with it. It is important that we begin to encourage as many folks to go to trade schools as college. The next generation will be stronger for it.

How does one get started homesteading? There are a few gals at my husband’s work that want to come down to our farm and learn to make cheese. I will be happy to teach them. It won’t be long before they begin to bake bread. Or make their own candles. Pretty soon, they have goats and a small dairy. Homesteading grows. You see something you would like to do yourself; sewing, crocheting, gardening, baking, cheese making, soap making, candle making, wood working, raising farm animals, wine making, herbalism, and decide to learn how to do it. You incorporate that into your life. Look at your grocery list, what can you learn to make? Do you need to buy all of the packaged boxes of junk or can you learn to make granola bars, cookies, and bread? Can you make cream of celery soup? Can you make gravy? Spaghetti sauce? Can you grow the tomatoes for it? Oh, then you are really going. Pretty soon you have a full out farmstead.

My granddaughters, Ayla and Maryjane, wearing the dresses I made them.

The peace of mind and pride is profound in this lifestyle. Do it yourself. Even if it isn’t perfect, you did it! The peace of mind of knowing you can heat your house if the power goes out. Feed your family for awhile if there is a natural disaster. Take care of yourself if an economical collapse occurs. There is peace of mind in knowing what you eat and what you drink were grown by you, prepared by you, and there are no crazy chemicals in your cupboard. Your cleaning products are truly clean, your muscles toned from doing everything by hand, your heart light at watching the fruit of your labors expand. This lifestyle is filled with planning, hard work, and life and death, but it is truly living. Being in the midst of it all. Purposely creating a good life filled with sustenance. A good life that feeds you, inspires you, and fuels you. A homesteading life. Start today. What would you like to learn?

The Homegrown, Healthy Life (So You Want to Be a Homesteader #16)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, somewhere during women’s liberation we got led astray.  The frozen dinner folks were ready to pounce.  “Yes, women, go get a job!  We’ll take care of dinner.”  Every convenience began to show up, pushing women into the work force in droves.  Children left raising themselves and food being neatly packaged in factories in other countries.  Oh, and we still get to do all the housework!

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I am thankful for the ability to vote and that my daughters can be lawyers if they so choose, but I will take my original jobs back, thank you very much.  My father-in-law wondered when I am getting a job.  Let me tell y’all about my job and earnings.

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When you gaze down fluorescent lighted grocery shelves with the sounds of bad music and customers in the background, do you ever wonder where the food came from?  Or ever wondered what would happen in an emergency and you couldn’t come shop these aluminum and box lined shelves?  Have you read the ingredients?  Lord, have mercy.  A good 50% of all those foods are poison.  Not to mention grown who knows where, handled by who knows who, sprayed with who knows what.  I am my own food preserver.  I can, I dry, I fill my own grocery store shelves with nutritious, delicious foods.

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I am the farmer.  I grow all of our produce for half of the year, increasing yields each season.  I grow our own chickens (a new venture, granted).  We gather our own eggs.  To fill in, I use other housewives’ farm goods; beef, pork, milk, and organic vegetables to preserve.  It takes a village of us.

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I am the cheese monger.  I make our own variety of cheese, along with yogurt and ice cream, and butter.

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I am the baker.  In my bakery I make coffee cakes, and fresh bread for sandwiches.

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I am my family’s own doctor.  I make my own medicines.  I am the veterinarian around here.

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I am the tailor.  I am the accountant.  I am a hell of a gourmet chef.  I am the winemaker.

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I make body products and cleaning products and support my husband in his job.

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I buy organic flour and coffee, sugar and nuts.  Things of that nature.  I save a ton of money by growing, bartering, supporting local farms, and doing it myself.  Just think of all the things I don’t buy!  I don’t really have time to get a job, you see.  I am busy working and giving my family a homegrown, healthy life.

 

 

Maple Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

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This bread turned out delicious!  It has a touch of sweet and slices well.  I slice one loaf and put it in the freezer to toast or to use for French toast. The other loaf we eat fresh.  I used to avoid kneading bread.  I have mastered the art of bread baking without kneading but have realized, like so many other homesteading activities, that the actions become soothing and methodical, a type of meditation and calm.

We love grains and find that they provide the energy we need in our daily active life.  I always use organic, unbleached flour and organic, freshly ground whole wheat.  Real butter and rich molasses with sweet maple make this bread a real treat!

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Mama’s Maple Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

5 teaspoons of yeast added to 1/2 cup of warm water, set aside

Warm 2 cups of goat’s milk, 1/4 cup of molasses, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 1/4 cup of butter, and 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar over low heat.

Meanwhile blend 6 cups of white flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 3 teaspoons of vanilla salt, and 1 teaspoon of ginger as a fun surprise.

Add half the liquid ingredients, blend then add yeast and remaining liquid and blend.

Knead one cup of flour in for 6-7  minutes.  (Press palms of hand into dough, fold in half and turn a 1/4 turn then press palm in again.  Repeat.)

Let rise 1 hour in a greased covered bowl in warm spot.

Divide into 2 loaves and place in 2 oiled bread pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  Brush tops with butter (and sugar and cinnamon if desired).  After a half hour or so pop bread out and let cool completely on rack.  (Without the cinnamon and sugar this bread can be used for savory sandwiches or meals as well as sweet.)

Grain Mills and Rye Bread

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The aroma captures you as you enter the house.  It instantly makes a home cozy.  When you make the soup too spicy (oops) it calms it down and fills you up.  It is perfect with a glass of wine and bit of butter and jam.  A must for a picnic.  Not to mention full of protein, nutrients, and fiber.  Ahh, fresh bread, how I adore you.

One of the lovely things about moving to a small town, opening a small business in a small town, and living simply around other folks that live simply is the community mindset of barter.  So when a couple we know wanted to take some of my herbal classes, they offered me a near forgotten treasure…a grain mill.  One that actually grinds whole wheat into fine, delicious flour.  What a gift!

Living at 6500 feet above sea level has provided me with years of baking cement blocks.  A few of you are laughing, cause you know what I am talking about!  I have perfected the simple loaf of bread with the help of some books like “My Bread” by Jim Lahey and “Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” by Hertzberg ad Francois.  They didn’t touch on high altitude baking but they catapolted me to the next level in order to master the humble peasant loaf.

Easy Scrumptious Rye Bread

2 cups of unbleached, organic white flour

1 cup of rye flour

1 Tablespoon of yeast

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1Tablespoon of caraway seeds

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 1/2 cups of warm water (1 1/3 cup for lower altitudes)

Mix well in a mixing bowl and place plate over it (you could use a towel, but I have cats, since cat hair is not really a necessary ingredient in bread, I use a plate) Promptly forget for 2-6 hours.  Take off plate, sprinkle with flour and knead 20 times in bowl.  Re-cover. Promptly forget for 1-4 hours.  Place in preheated Dutch oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake for 15 minutes more.

You could also grease two bread pans and bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes with a ramekin of hot water.

Enjoy with rich butter, homemade choke cherry jam, and glass of red wine, a meritage or California red blend would be lovely.

Have a beautiful Sunday.  (Go Broncos!)