Monday, September 26, 2011

New Title

....but not so new focus.  I've changed my blog so that it isn't just about the knitting (textile) adventure, but rather the whole lifestyle adventure.

As you can tell, if you've been reading my blog, I am a homesteader.  My husband and I do what we can to grow/preserve and prepare our own food but homesteading, to me, doesn't stop there.  It takes into account our entire way of life.

We used to be the kind of folks that worked to acquire money to buy stuff and things that we didn't actually need but we thought that we wanted because they would somehow keep us happy and put on a good show for neighbors and relatives.  We certainly have nice things and want for nothing because of it but for us, we discovered that that was absolutely not the key to our happiness.  (Not knocking those who find fulfillment living for stuff and things...this story is about me).

Several years ago, I found myself in another city, farther away than my closest city...looking for more things and stuff that I couldn't get nearer to home.  Yes, the selection was much better but I realized that it was all still mass produced, artificial things, made far far away that won't do anything to give me happiness.  When I realized this my desire and quest for things and stuff abruptly ended.  Since then I find it quite painful to go into any of the big box stores (especially Walmart) to get anything.  So I don't.  Unless I absolutely NEED something.  I don't buy clothes anymore just because I see something cute, I only buy what I need and when I do need something I try to be more conscious of where it comes from, how it's made and what it's made from.

This thinking, this new morality as I like to think of it arrived for me just before the tide of the world economic crisis (which only hardened my thinking into concrete).  By reading other blogs books and articles about homesteading, living simply etc, I have found that many, many people in Canada, the US, UK and elsewhere seem to be coming to this same (or similar) thinking.  Spend less, don't create new debt, pay down/get rid of existing debt, use less (electricity, water, junk food, gas) and get back to the way things were before we NEEDED stuff and things to make us feel good about ourselves.  Now that being said, there are certain modern conveniences that I don't want to live without, like internet and television and a flush toilet but I don't think we have to live like cave people to make our lives healthier and sustainable and to make the world a better place.  I just think a quick question(s) before a purchase   "Do I need this, is the one I already have still good/working, if not can it be fixed, will this really make me happy, am I raping the planet or some poor soul in a poorer country?" is all that is needed.

The changes we've made and are making have become personal challenges for us.  It's a friendly competition in our house to see how much less electricity we can use, how much more store bought food we can replace with homemade, how much of the things and stuff can we actually do without because we don't really want or need them anyway.

This whole blog post today comes on the heels of using our home made, solar powered, absolutely free 'cause we recycled everything we used, food dehydrator for the very first time.  It works like a dream.  Husband build a solar collector made with pop cans painted black that he has on the outside of our out building, he then built a cabinet (inside the building) with an old wire chip rack (from a store) as shelves, pine boards that were in the basement and some fans recycled from old computer parts.  The air from the solar collector cycles through the cabinet inside the building and so far we have had it heated to 93 degrees F.  And that people, is dehydrating apple slices (from local apples that we picked yesterday) and grapes that I picked this morning from my own back yard.  Dried apple rings and raisins, made by me, in my own yard to use this winter as I please.

I love my new, old fashioned life, I cannot image ever going back to they way we used to live.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Homesteading

Wild Apples from our property



I have been a big believer in the 100 mile lifestyle for some time now even though I don't always do a very good job of it.  This year I have decided to take the localvore culture (which used to be the normal way of life for everyone) a few steps further than I had in the past. 

We have been growing fruit for a few years now and are actually starting to see decent yields, enough so that I can actually preserve some for the winter by pickling, jamming, drying and freezing.  We haven't had a veg patch in several years but we live in the country and have many farm gates to be able to buy from.  I also realized this year that many of the farmers around me plant grains for crop rotation so I'm looking to buy some of these also. 

My experiment, the plan....is to see how much food and how much variety I have to preserve to sustain the two of us for the winter.  The plan is a daily amount of potato, veg, protein and grain.  I thought the variety would get boring but so far I've preserved corn, blueberries, peaches, strawberries, beets, rhubarb, rye, grapes, scallops, mustard pickles and currants.  This weekend will give us apples, more grapes, tomatoes and more pickles.  (everything I've mentioned so far has been local except for the sugar used in the jam/pickles).  We will be freezing local pork, locally grown and made sausage.  Root vegetables I don't have to save in advance as they are all grown very locally and available all year round.  Our dairy is all produced on the Island from Island farmers so that we don't have to do ourselves either.  Grains I'm still working on but I know I can get rye, wheat, barley and soy beans so I just have to GET them.

Himself just told me he picked up some lovely hot peppers this morning and wants me to turn them into some kind of pepper relish....mmmmm sounds good.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Still "Puttin"

We haven't had a huge harvest this year on our little acreage, but we have taken the time to preserve everything that we can (no pun intended).  I've made and frozen apple pie filling, made mustard pickles, canned beets, sent some berries straight to the freezer and today I made Sovereign Coronation Jam....


Step 1.....grow and pick some super awesome grapes (they look frosted but that is just the photo).



Step 2, cook and mash....now the house smells like Welche's grape juice.



Step 3, add some sugar and cook some more.  Mouth is watering!



Step 4, make everyone jealous cuz it's the best Jam ever!!!!!