Lest one would think that our homesteading duties are through until spring, I must correct. Now granted, if I had had the prolific garden I thought I would have had I would have long before now canned a year’s worth of peppers, but as life would have it, I did not. And down to the last two jars is no laughing matter. So when my dear friend, Lisa, handed over boxes of produce that Whole Foods did not deem sellable (Gee, they look like they’ll cook up just fine to me!), I practically ran from her kitchen laughing maniacally all the way to mine. Homesteading personalities can be a bit peculiar and they do tend to show themselves in times of seeming triumph. A box of peppers and mushroom and other goodies awaited the knife.
Save for the balmy outdoor temperature of precisely zero, my kitchen looked like summer. Homesteaders must be thrifty. It is the only way. And if one should find items on sale that look great still, do grab them.
I chose to freeze these beauties. Cut in half then finish pulling apart. Remove the seed ball, seeds, pith, et cetera and chop into fine chunks. When your hand gets tired and you find yourself rather bored just cut them in half, seed them and throw them in freezer bags. Now, I have always taught you to freeze them on cookie sheets first, always. They come apart easily and cleanly. But should you find yourself with a very small, very full freezer then just bag two chopped peppers in each sandwich bag and pile the halves into a gallon bag. You will have to pry them apart but then they are quite easy to cut up frozen with kitchen shears. Do what you can, you may have a ton of mushrooms to do next!
A full freezer equals a happy new year. I wish you all that and much, much more.
Finding balance is one of the things we all strive for in every aspect of our lives. Becoming a homesteader is about living the life you want, that you dream of. It’s about taking chances and knowing you can live on less. It is about spending time in the gardens and with animals and friends and not giving our life to a corporation, who will have you replaced by the time you hit the parking lot, or grave. This is about relationships; with community, with friends and family, with nature, with God. This is about freedom. When we are living on less, we need to know when to be thrifty, when to barter, and when to splurge.
Being thrifty means that we reuse a lot of things and we don’t produce a lot of waste. This is helpful on our pocketbooks and the earth. We find we need less. We don’t go to an office job so we don’t need really nice clothes, nor do we worry too much about our appearance. We use our clothes until they are torn. Our cars have to be practically falling apart while driving before we get a “new” one. We read books from the library and rarely purchase new. We reuse rubber bands to fasten stems of greens together to sell. We save all of our twist ties and use them to stake plants to trellises and tomato cages. Wine corks can be put in the bottom of pots before filling with soil for drainage. Boxes that are too small to put in the garden or use to store canning jars get torn up and are used as fire starters. Wine bottles get turned into oil lamps.
Bartering is imperative in the homesteading world. Being able to trade for services that we cannot do ourselves helps us live on a small income and helps connect us to others. Rod put up a screen door for us and Doug cleaned up his computer. We are trading one of Elsa’s kids for one of Jenet’s Nubian kids. Last year Joan and I traded canned goods so we would have a bit of variety. We barter herbal medicines for a lot of things!
When to splurge? Buy good quality feed for your animals. Buy organics for yourself if you didn’t produce them. When buying tools, buy the best you can so you don’t have to repurchase. Buy quality seeds. Not everything need be cheap. Sometimes a bargain costs much more in the end.
Then there are other types of splurges. We live this way to enjoy life. My post about boxed wine gave folks a good laugh around town, I’ll tell you. I received large boxes of wine and funny comments. I bet knowing my affinity for good wine that you can guess that it wasn’t long before I was darn sick of boxed wine! If it’s under $15, a bottle is worth it. One can find a great deal of fabulous wines in that price range. And if Doug and I aren’t running around wine bars all week like we used to, you can bet your overalls that I am going to enjoy my glass of single vineyard, estate grown wine with dinner!
This weekend we are taking Emily, Bret, and our sweet Maryjane Rose up to Boulder to celebrate Emily’s birthday a bit early. I bartered for the rooms at a gorgeous Bed and Breakfast. We will splurge on great meals and make fond memories with our children.