DIY and the Three R’s

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Homesteaders old and new must be so busy we had to find acronyms for everything!  DIY-Do It Yourself.  So, when our friend, Ingrid, said to look up videos on YouTube to see how to fix the fridge, we wondered why we didn’t think of that!  We are homesteaders after all!

Armed with a drill and some online videos, Doug set to work.  Back panel off, fought the shelving unit, removed the ice maker, tried to get the inside panel off.  I went and did yoga in the living room.  Too much for me.  Then I got the phone number for an appliance repair.  Here’s where the Reduce, Recycle, Reuse comes in!  We got ourselves a refurbished fridge.  It’s ugly as sin, shorter than me, and needs a paint job (can you paint refrigerators?), but it will do the trick.  They will take ours, fix it, and resell it.  We keep a small business busy, kept a fridge out of the landfill, saved money, and Thursday we will have cold food.  All in a day’s work!  We didn’t need new.  Just a little thinking through.

Homestead Anywhere and How to Preserve Rhubarb

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This sentiment is going around facebook and I read some of the comments.  Impossible.  You need at least so many acres.  Too hard of work.  But it isn’t all or nothing, folks. We are all where we are supposed to be through circumstances of decision or fate.  I am in an incredibly urban environment right now, decidedly un-homesteady.  But, there are still many things I can do to homestead because the result is so delightful.  I will have a freezer stocked with nutritious food, a gallery of canned goods in the living room, healthy drinks at the ready, flowers and herbs and a community garden.  No one is an island, Lord we learned that on our last farm and we’ll remember it on our next, but it isn’t all or nothing.  One can homestead anywhere.

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Putting up rhubarb, for instance.  A reward all year!  Aunt Donna had us over to harvest some of that delicious, crisp summer treat, a celebration of getting through winter, a testament to survival, a perfect meal to surprise folks with at Christmas should you have any left!  I have mentioned it before but it bears repeating how Aunt Donna taught me to put it up.  I have canned it and it is good, syrupy and soft and still quite fine, but the easiest way, and the way to keep it crisp and fresh as the day one snaps it off at its base, is to freeze it.

Cut stalks, discarding far ends and rogue strings, into 1/2 inch chunks.  4 cups of rhubarb go into a quart sized freezer bag.  Now, don’t skimp, you know how cheap trash bags are….same with freezer bags, get the good zippered ones.  I despise freezer burn.

Add 1 cup of sugar.  Zipper to one inch then suck the air of the bag with your lips and finish closing it.  Label and freeze.  One large bag yielded enough to share and 5 quarts of frozen rhubarb.  Thank you, Aunt Donna!

It was lovely to have a glass of my own homemade raspberry mint kombucha while chopping.  For dinner we had a pile of freshly harvested dandelions prepared in a Cherokee fashion  with crisp bacon (from a local heritage pig farm) and the fat from the pan poured over the cold, tart greens sprinkled with salt.

Self sufficiency on any level is quite nice.

 

The Joys of a Simple Life (goals, self reliance, a day in the life)

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Forget January first as New Year’s!  That is only one time of pondering goals for a homesteader.  There are several pivotal times in the year that homesteaders like us take stock and decide and dream and implement plans for the year.

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Our average spring day starts at dawn with strong cups of coffee.  Doug reads the news and I write.  We do outdoor farm chores like milking, feeding goats and sheep, letting the chickens and ducks out and making sure they are cared for.  We plant as the weather allows, watching the weather and clouds like an addiction.  Preparing soil, adding beds, caring for plants.

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Doug fixes fences and puts up gates.  He repairs things damaged from winter and makes sure we have plenty of firewood curing and in the house for the still chilly nights. We watch our beautiful granddaughter.  She wants to be a part of everything, carrying wood, making cheese, doing dishes.

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I keep up the farmhouse and put three meals a day on the table.  I preserve throughout the year to keep the pantry rotating.  Five pints of meat sauce put up the other day, seven quarts of broth last week.  Cheese rests in brine on the stove. (I will teach you that next week!)

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We watch owls swoop by, worry about family members from a distance, pray for sunny days, and relax in the evenings after milking, reading by oil lamp.  We lead a simple, busy, enchanting life.  In order to keep this lifestyle we have to find everything possible that we can do ourselves.  This allows us to live on very little money and enjoy the profound satisfaction of doing things ourselves.  We live softly on the planet and provide healthy food and peaceful living for ourselves and our children that came home.

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For the past six years we have added skill by skill and vast achievements but this year I would like to go one step further and do these things more intensely, more prolifically.  I have grown all my own green beans, but how about all our corn?  I have sewed a skirt, how about sew what I need this year? (I am in dreadful need of new aprons)  So, these are my goals for the next two and a half seasons and of course you will be drug along with me through my writings to see just how self-reliant we can be and how satisfying it is to live a life of freedom and work by hand and I hope I can inspire you to step back and live a little more simply and old fashioned too.

Can I: Grow all my own fruits and vegetables?

Make my own wine?

Prepare my own spices?

Make all my own dairy products?

Provide some of my own meat?  And source the rest from friends? (Whole Foods is killing me y’all!)

Bake all my own breads, tortillas, rolls, etc.?

Stock, organize, and fill staples so that we can practically eliminate the need to go to the store?

Grow enough variety to satisfy us?

Be creative with recipes?

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These are my goals for my farmhouse kitchen.  I have a list of what we need to reserve for winter.  How to improve my relationships. What to sew. How to rearrange the living room and kitchen.  But most of all I need to be present, unfettered,  and loving.  I need to not get so busy that I forget to hug my husband, sit and watch the rain from the window, read a good book, or play with the baby.  Our old lifestyle allowed a two week vacation.  This one allows a bit every day.  This is truly the best life for us.