Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Great Chicken Experiment or ...

Mel's latest money making venture. Namely, becoming a chicken farmer. Her plan includes selling chicks, pullets, cockerels, layers, roosters, and eggs. She has narrowed the breeds to two with a possible third: Americana and Rhode Island Reds with Buff Orpingtons as a possible third.

We are well versed in the hatching, raising, and caring for two of these breeds. Currently owning Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Reds, we have learned their personalities and manners. We love both of these breeds and highly recommend both breeds for southern homesteaders. Both of these are dual purpose (meat & eggs) breeds with cream to brown, large eggs. They are prolific egg layers.

The new kid on the block will be the Americana breed. They are a cross breed of Ameraucana and Araucana breed chicken. As a novelty egg layer, hens lay colored eggs between olive green, blue, and turquoise eggs. The layers are less robust than the orpingtons and the reds, but about 240, medium sized eggs a year. Just think, no chemically dyed Easter eggs for Easter!

We may be adding some Silkies are mother hens since they have a great reputation for broodiness and mothers. We'd much rather raise chicks the way Mother Nature intended. While Rhode Island Reds RIR) are not known for broodiness, our Black Butt has turned out to be an excellent mother just as Broody. aka Gimpy, was to her last brood of New Hampshire Red chicks. I'm holding out for Goldie, our remaining Buff hen, to go broody. That breed is supposed to be broody, but she hasn't yet at two years old.

So we are getting a jump start on hatching some chicks of our own with our cockeyed incubator. (Instruction below)Yes, we know it's late October, but we're just in an experimenting stage. These eggs we've gathered from our free range birds could have been fertilized by Big Red (RIR) or Hoo-de-ho, our Buff rooster, or not fertilized at all. We'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, we set up the our cockeyed incubator today. Now we have a standard electric incubator, but we've had better hatch rate this way. We've managed only a 75% hatch rate with the electric incubator with ours Mel managed 6 chicks from 6 eggs. (it may have been beginner's luck too.)  In case you can't figure it out, that's 100% hatch rate.

So, do you want to know how we did it? This time I took pictures while Mel set it up.

Our Cockeyed Incubator
(it was copied from similar models on YouTube)

What you'll need
An 18-gallon tote
A heating pad (ours has three settings low, high, and off)
Several beach towels
A small bowl
A sponge
Light fixture with 100-watt bulb, we use our brooder box light
A temperature probe (mine was one I used as a chef)
A pencil
Unrefrigerated eggs, 1 week or less old

Putting it together
Step 1
We laid a heating pad on a folded  a beach towel fold it into quarters. We
turned the heating pad on high. Our heating pad is an older model that does not cycle off when the temperature has been on too long.


We folded another towel and placed it inside the container. This gave the eggs a comfortable cushion with a cotton pillowcase for the eggs and to stabilize them. We can bunch up the pillowcase easier than the towel to keep the eggs in position.

Next we placed a thermometer in the tote and the 100 watt bulb in the tote.Notice we have not punched any holes in the tote. We can reuse this tote for a large optional storage solutions later after cleaning it with bleach, soap and hot water.

We placed a small bowl and a sponge in the corner away from the eggs but still on the heating pad.We poured boiling hot water over the sponge  Enough to soak the sponge and leave 1/2" in the bowl. You'll maintain this until hatching is complete.

Check your eggs carefully. If one appear abnormally large, it's probably a double yolked egg. (Miss Greedy Piggy is notorious for giving one of these a week). It may not hatch or develop twins. Not a good choice for hatching, but wonderful for baking with. Some eggs may have tiny cracks or a hole in the shell. These are also good candidates for hatching. Heavily soiled eggs (feces or dirt) also should not be incubated also. Have them for breakfast instead. Two of our "to be hatched" fell into this category so we are hatching 9 instead of 12.

Take each egg an draw an "O" on one side and an "X" on the other with a pencil. I know some people who do this with a marker, but I have concerns of the chemicals leaching through the porous shell. Do you know what chemicals or dyes are in a Sharpie marker, I don't either so I don't want it anywhere near my chicks.

We'll place the marked eggs  onto the towel "O" side up.

We will be manually turning these eggs  four times a day until day 17. The "X"s and "O"s will tell us it has been done without yelling at each other to ask. We start at "O"s and the evening it's "X"s. Then we'll start again at "O"s again in the morning.

When we open the box to turn them, we lose all that lovely humidity and warmth the eggs need so we'll pour some hot, steamy water into the bowl before we close the lid again. Each morning turn, we'll empty the bowl, squeeze the sponge, and add fresh boiled water again to the bowl.

Place the container lid on the container. To regulate the temperature, simply open the lid part way if it's too warm. If more heat is needed, cover the whole tote with a blanket. Remember to plug the cords into a power strip and make sure it works. Do not add your eggs until you reach 99 degrees in the tote. It will do so in a few hours. We do a standard 12 hours and check it frequently.

We will candle these eggs when we stop rotating them. We will discard any unfertilized eggs. It's doubtful with two roosters doing their rooster business on the so few egg layers, but it can happen, right?

With our nighttime lows dipping into the low 50s, we cover them at night too to help maintain the temperature overnight. We don't have CH/A, but it's too warm to start a fire in the wood stove so we do what we can to compensate. Mel has hatched chicks twice now with 100% hatch rate. The first time in February 2014, she chocked it up to beginner's luck, but a second time  in 2016 was more than beginner's luck.

If the chicks that hatch and survive fall into the RIR/Buff category, the hens will go into the household use (personal use or eggs for sale). Otherwise, (especially cockerels) it's the canner pot for them when they reach harvest age and weight. The true RIR are born, they'll be separated to start Mel's egg farm operation.

That's the plan anyhow. But you know what they say about don't count your chickens before they hatch. Projected hatch date is November 5th or there about. Wish us luck.

Now, in the meantime, I've been researching Pharaoh quails.  Since Mel and I are are dark meat fans, it only makes sense, right? They are all dark meat and easy for me to care for and be  harvest by me alone. We also have unused rabbit hutches outdoors. I'd only have to redo the hardware cloth, but we have to redo it that anyhow if we move the rabbits outside and we have enough hutches for ten rabbits which we have two. We lost Alby and Moira this week.😥

Mel's on the fence about this. If there's a market for chickens and eggs wouldn't there also be a market for quail? Of course, they wouldn't be free range nor "organic." But, they would be antibiotic free. I imagine I could come up with a seed and grain mixture like I supplement the chickens free range feedings with during winter. Still researching options on this. I can fit a whole lot of quail in two 37" x 29" rabbit cages (5.5 sq ft) plus the surplus rabbit cages we have. I'm just saying, waste not, want not.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cooking with Chef Jo: Planning for My Fruitcakes-"Citron"

This isn't mine, but close
Love it or hate it, fruit cakes from scratch takes time for the preparation in making them. From dehydrating the fruits, shelling the pecans, making the batter, and aging the fruitcakes take months! There are a lot of steps in preparation for making my fruitcakes.  You could always cheat and buy the dehydrated fruit at the store. But doing it my way, is a labor of love and tastiness.

I'll be dedicating the next several weeks to this process and show you the finished product.

It starts the winter before when Meyer lemons and clementines (aka mandarin oranges) are in season. I still purchase these because my own potted trees haven't fruited yet. Next year, I should have my own home grown harvest. We are starting with the "citron.." I love this recipe for "Citron" tea as well as citrons for my fruitcakes. I'll can it for the tea and later dehydrate some for my fruitcakes but it all starts the same. Citrons are not grown in the US so, I'll make do with what's available. The taste difference is marginal.

"Citron" and Honey Preserves
7 half pint jars

What you'll need
Not me, but Mel
10 Meyers lemons, fully ripe they should have very little pith around the fruit
5 mandarin/clementines, pith and veins removed if you can
2 cup raw honey
1-2 TBS water

Putting it all together

  • Scrub the outside skina of the room temperature fruits with a solution of 1tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vinegar, to 1 gallon of water even if the produce is organic. Cut out any bad spots.
  • Thinly slice (1/4") the clementine/mandarin oranges and lemons. Chop each slice in 2" pieces picking out any seeds.
  • Place oranges into a saucepan.
  • Over low heat, add 2 TBS of water so the oranges do not scorch. You want to warm them through not boil them.
  • Measure out the raw honey into a bowl and add the lemons.
  • Stir in the warmed clementines/mardarin oranges.
  • Stir well to coat every piece.
  • Put it into half pint jars and cover.
  • Leave the jars on the counter for three days to get good and happy, and for the juices to meld with the honey.
  • Refrigerate the jars for the most nutrition benefits.
  • Or, water bath can for 10 minutes. You lose some of the benefits, but it becomes shelf stable.
    For the fruitcake mix, I'll strain the fruit. For God's sake, reserve all that great honey mixture to put in regular hot or iced  tea. Place the fruit on a jelly roll dehydrator tray and dehydrate (about 24 hours @160 degrees). Be aware that the dehydrated fruit will remain it's moist stickiness due the honey, but the orange and lemon are dehydrated. Refrigerate until ready to use. I'll dehydrate a full batch of this recipe for the fruitcakes so after the three days of allowing the fruit to meld, I'll dehydrate it.

    For Citron Tea, I'll put almost 2 TBS of the preserve in a mug and fill it the rest of the way with boiled water. I'll let it steep for 4 minutes and enjoy on a cold winter's night. For added nutritional boost, munch on the fruit after you've finished your tea. Or for summertime refresher, take 2 half pints and 2 qts of boiled water, let it steep, and then pour it into a gallon pitcher filling the rest with water. It will cool you down and refresh you in short order.

    I'll usually make two batches. One batch for each.

    Stay tuned to next Wednesday for another ingredient to my fruitcake.

    Y'all have a blessed day!
    Cockeyed Jo

    Sunday, October 13, 2019

    The Cockeyed Homestead is Redoing Everything...

    I received this response to a comment I made on another blog. It's true, but then again false.When I speak of redoing/revamping/changing focus for our homestead, it falls in various headings.

    When I wrote about doing or redoing the back porch kitchen, it was to make the cooking/ canning area a more efficient work space for me rather than a couple of rough wood counters with a three-burner cook top and a grill. We actually used scrap wood and a counter top with sink that I bought when we were planning a butcher station. It works better this way for the expanded canning operation I do each year. With the addition of plastic sheeting over the screens, I have made it into a cold weather greenhouse with plenty of space for the growing transplants and not cold tolerant trees to be housed during winter. This falls under expanding and completing the intended tasks.

    Similar to my old setup
    The butchering station fell through the cracks in our relationship, Mel's and mine, we just didn't know enough
    quirks about each other at the time. The plan I made for here was a carryover from my previous homestead where I raised meat rabbits and chickens to butcher and eat. The same went for hunting. For decades, I fed small rodents( not rats) squirrels, random rabbits, and assorted smallish critters that wasn't essential for our food needs to make and supplement our dog food.

    While Mel, being a dyed in the wool carnivore, belonged to PETA and was against killing animals. I guess buying it from the grocery store was okay. I asked her if when she went fishing did she catch and release the fish, or cook them up and eat them. She answered she ate them. It boggled my mind at her paradoxical relationship between food and where it came from. I finally realized, it was the loving, nurturing and caring before the killing she had for our livestock that was the problem. Anyhow, the countertop and sink didn't go to waste.

    I spend quite a lot of the time in our kitchen. That's one of my main jobs on the homestead. In our bi-annual top to bottom scrub-a-thons, I noticed how shabby the cabinets looked and how the previous owner had painted the cabinet hinges as well. A fresh coat of paint and redo on the hardware was needed.  If you don't take care of what you've got, it won't take care of you.This fell under maintenance. The fact that it looks so much better puts a smile on my face.

    We've finally found the culprit behind our leaky ceiling. It was the gutter. It filled with rain water quicker than it could be drained away. An additional drain spout fixed that problem. So simple but so hard to detect with the insulation and ceiling tiles in the way. This is repair and maintenance. As will the ceiling when we complete the project this winter.

    We've worked on the wiring and plumbing in the house. Let's face it, we are living in an over thirty-year old double wide trailer and it sat abandoned for seven of those years. The people before us made renovations that were cockeyed and half-assed like water lines out of flexible black hoses with garden hose splices, buried only 6" underground from the well to the house. Come on! Who was standing behind the door when God gave out common sense?  So somebody that knows how to do it right has to correct it... namely me holding the purse strings for someone else doing the work now. This is maintenance and repairs.

    That's a lot of our revamping comes from necessity. Like changing the angora rabbitry into a stores building. We had jars in ever nook and cranny. We lost half of them not knowing where we put them. Buying staples for 6 months to a year was impossible. Building a new bunny barn to now, a chicken/bunny barn. It goes under improvement, future income, and growth.

    Mostly it's Mel changing directions to find a viable way to make an income since nobody wants to hire a woman her age and attitude. She got tired of caring for the angoras and couldn't get the hang of spinning, so we decided to downsize our rabbitry/fiber production operation. This revamp goes under future growth and income.

    The deaths (not by choice) this year of 5 out of 9 rabbits put us right where I wanted to be for a continued small production rabbitry. I can breed them if I find I can handle more without Mel. She got her wish. She's lost interest, but I haven't. So I have enough now to keep me happy with caring and grooming them, gathering and spinning their fiber, and selling the surplus. This falls under maintenance and income.

    Meanwhile, the extra space will start Mel's new interest, chicken farming. The hatching, raising, and selling certain breeds of chickens at different ages. Selling chicks, pullets, roosters, layers, and eggs can be quite lucrative as a money maker for the homestead. With more coops and runs to come later. Improvements geared for future income.

    Nothing is ever wasted on a homestead. It goes through several reincarnations as the trial and error process continues. It meets our needs and that's the important part. Everything changes. It's improved upon, converted, reinvented as needs arise.

    So yes, the Cockeyed Homestead is redoing everything constantly. We are constantly evolving over time as needs arise. Nothing is stagnant or it dies. So hang in there with us as we repair, renew, and repurpose this once abandoned property into our dream of the most self reliant, and organic lifestyle that we can. We ain't done yet with our shoe string budget.

    Y'all have a blessed day!
    Cockeyed Jo

    Wednesday, October 9, 2019

    Cooking with Chef Jo: Triple Berry Delight Jam

    On Sunday, I mentioned my Triple Berry Delight jam. I got emails for the recipe. If you haven't watched our YouTube video of this, I'll include it at the bottom like I did before. Even if you've watched the video and wanted a written recipe for Mel's favorite jam, here it is. Mel doesn't like strawberries. I never heard of such a thing, but she doesn't so I created this recipe for her. By the way, I LOVE all things strawberry. Such is our odd couple housemate relationship. I provide for her needs and mine with my gardening and canning.

    Triple Berry Delight Jam (no pectin recipe)
    5 1/2 half pint jars or 3 pint jars

    What you'll need
    4 cups blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, equal amounts slightly mashed to release the juices
    1 TBS lemon juice, use bottled not fresh squeezed
    6 cup sugar
    1 tsp butter, if needed

    Putting it all together

    •  Since the berries ripen at different times, I wash and freeze the harvested berries until I have enough for two or three batches of jam before I start this recipe.
    • Thaw the berries reserving the juices.
    • Slightly mash the juices to get more liquid to equal four cups. I don't know about you, but I like chunks of fruit in my jam.
    • Pour fruit and juices into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
    • Add the sugar and lemon juice.
    • Stir well until sugar is dissolved and turn on cook top to medium low. Scrap the sides well.
    • Continue to cook stirring occasionally to keep jam from burning on the bottom.
    • Check for jelly stage. The fruit mixture will have reduced by half.
    • Water bath can for 10 minutes. Cool and store for later
     I usually double or triple this recipe depending on the harvest or foraging results for a year. This is the way my grandmother made jams and jellies. It takes more sugar than pectin assisted jams to get the right consistency and quadruple the amount of cooking time. But, if you ain't got pectin or a thermometer, it's a sure fire way to make jams and jellies.

    Y'all enjoy.

    Y'all have a blessed day!
    Cockeyed Jo

    Sunday, October 6, 2019

    Even Mother Nature Failed Us This Year

    We've got a slew of wild blackberry thickets on our property. Considering over an acre and a quarter is still an overgrown mess, this is far from surprising. They are good for about five-gallon bags a year of this juicy, succulent fruit.

    We only harvest five gallons worth because that's all we need for a years worth.  Mel eats as much as she picks. Actually, more as she heads to the creek and none get in the bag. I'll grab a few and bag the rest. Who can resist popping a few in your mouth while picking them, right? That's the beauty of organically grown or wild foraging your food. The other problem we have trouble getting to them all the thickets are so thick. Remember, this property was abandoned for seven years before Mel rescued it. Well, the birds eat well and the seeds, from those berries that drop, replant themselves for even a thicker thicket next year.

    As we've clear the property of undergrowth, foot by pain painstakingly foot, we leave strategic areas for blackberry patches. Those on the way to the creek, along the driveway, around the orchard, and patches by the chicken houses are left to grow and flourish. Why only those areas, you may ask? Well, they are semi-contained and easier for me to get to for picking and Mel can snack on while traipsing our property. Of course, there's the untended land that we haven't even bush hogged yet and the ravine is impossible to bush hog... it's too steep of an angle. That's another purchase we need, way down on our "to purchase list," a bush hogger attachment and a bigger tractor to do it with. It'll save our friends up the road to do it for us. Not that they mind doing it. We ply them with food and goodies... to eat and take home as a form of payment.

    But this year, even Mother Nature failed us!
    I've lamented about our garden and orchard for months now, but Mother Nature has always provided. This year, I watched for the tale telling signs of  the whitish cream colored blooms heralding the season. All spring and summer long, I waited except there was no show of blossoms. No flowers equals no berries. Discounting hospital stints,I might have missed it. I actually walked the driveway looking for fruit. None, nada, zilch!

     So much for making Mel's Triple Berry Delight jam I make for her each year. No blueberries (homegrown), no raspberries (homegrown), no blackberries (wild homegrown) equals no jam unless I purchase the frozen varieties. I refuse to do this just on principle alone. Well, she's just got to ration what we've got after thinning and recanning  the jam out a couple months ago. Not that she'll like it much. She wants what she wants when she wants it. Not that there's not other jams and jellies she can't eat. The strawberry jam and orange marmalade are mine and mine alone because she doesn't like either.

    Regular prepper's pantry
    So, our bad year for harvesting has gotten worse. Oi veh! It's just a bad year for us and we are praying for a better year next year or we'll be back to buying produce. Such is homesteading organically. You have great years, not good years, and failures. You've just have to roll with the punches Mother Nature doles out. In the great years, you put up enough to cover the not so good and failure years to carry you through. As we said once on a YouTube video Tea Time, We aren't preppers in the conventional sense of the word. We are self sustaining preppers. We prep for a failed season or two not ten or twenty years worth. That's just insane.

    We may eventually reach the five-year pantry, but we'd have to clear another half-acre and build the soil up some. It would involve cutting down more trees, pulling up stumps, tilling up the hard clay soil with adding about an easy ton of compost, and waiting for the new planting area to mature (a season or two). But, we could plant upland rice in the area while we wait, thanks Leigh for the research and trial, or orchard grass for the bunnies to speed up the ground breaking up/ maturation time. But mainly we have to have a couple great harvesting years with Mother Natures cooperation.

    Y'all have a blessed day!
    Cockeyed Jo

    Wednesday, October 2, 2019

    Cooking with Chef Jo: White Clover and Honey Jelly

    One of the many hats I wear is for herbalist & aromatherapist. Yes, those are two of the sheepskins, I'd wallpaper my walls with if I ever got 'round to it. I believe in being an observer of life and a forever student.

    When I was a research and development coordinator for a herbal products company, I created a recipe for an tea which alleviated symptoms of colds and flu aptly I dubbed it "Cold Caught Me Tea," My daddy always said, A cold caught me because nobody in their right mind would ever want to catch a cold." A marketing company decided to change the name of it and the company decided to go with their suggestion. You may still see it on some supermarket shelves today twenty years after I created the initial recipe. But enoigh tooting my own horn on to today's recipe.

    With the changing of seasons come cold season. That's the inspiration behind this recipe. Some people just make it and eat it because its mild apple like flavor. I'll eat or drink it whenever I feel I have a scratchy throat or when I begin to feel under the weather. It's my go-to other than kimchi to circumnavigate a cold catching me.

    In the spring, I gather white clover heads and dry them. When I have about 1/2 a pound of clover, I'll save any overages for the next batch. I'll make this up and store it for when I need it. It's historical uses for this humble weed include coughs, fever reducer, cleanses the blood, expectorant, and antiseptic. It also reduces pain and swelling of arthritis.

    And, you thought they were only an obnoxious weed. :oP  You want full blossoms not the spindly sparse ones like is pictured on the right bottom. If you pulled some clover leaves, it's all good too. On to the recipe...

    White Clover and Honey Jelly
    A jelly that alleviates and boosts your basic electrolytes when you feel like a cold is coming on.

    What you'll need
    1 cup white clover blossoms, fresh or dried
    3 1/2 cups of boiling water

    3 cups sugar
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    1/2 cup honey, raw if you can get it
    1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed, bottled if you have to
    1 box fruit pectin
    1 TBS butter

    Putting it all together
    For all you visual learners out there
    • Steep clover in boiling water for 8 hours, loosely covered.
    • To a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the clover infusion.
    • Add remaining ingredients except for the pectin.
    • Bring to a rolling boil. A hard boil that can't be stirred down.
    • Add pectin, stir until dissolved and bring mixture to a boil.
    • Stir constantly for one minute.
    • Turn off the heat.
    • Ladle into hot, sterilized jars.
    • Wipe your rims, lid and ring the jars.
    • Flip jars lids side down on several layers of towels.
    • Wait 10 minutes. Flip jars right side up snd let cool.
    • Check the deal, wash the jars, and label. 
    • Store in cool, dark place.
    To serve-spread a tablespoon of jelly onto s piece of toast or stir a tablespoon into 6 oz of boiled water. For optimum
    benefit, do this 3 times a day.
    WARNING- Ingesting too much clover is hard on the kidneys.

    Y'all have a blessed day!

    Sunday, September 29, 2019

    Is Preserving Your Own Food Safe and Cost Effective?

    As you may have read in my last post, I'm up to my ears in apples! Well, not really, but still a lot. Since our orchard didn't produce this year, I've resorted to buying deer apples again. Why? Because they are cheaper to purchase. At $15, a bushel, it's a better way of preserving for my apple needs. Store grade apples, the pretty ones, sell for $3.23 lb (organic). That's $209.95 for a 65-lb bushel. Say it together now CHA-CHING! Smart savings! I calculated I'd need four to five bushels for 1-2 years worth of apple products.

    Let me break down the math for you. All of these are pre-tax prices. No labor costs are included and I'll admit to labor cost being high in the homesteading option, but I have nothing but time.

    In a year, we use...

    7 gallons of Apple cider vinegar (for cleaning, cooking and other household uses) @ $2.68 for each...$18.76
    6- 12 oz jars of apple butter @  $2.50 each...$15
    10 gallons of apple juice @4.75 each... $47.50
    6- 16 oz jars of applesauce @ $2.99 each...$17.94
    4-16 oz jars of apple butter @ $2.86 each...$11.44
    18-12 oz cans apple pie filling @ $3.12 each...$18.72
    5- 12 oz jars of apple jellies/jam @ $3.19 each...$15.95
    5 boxes of fruit pectin @ $3.59 each...$17.95
    2 lbs of dehydrated apples  (even at the Dollar Tree)...$36
    2 tanks of gas, oil, maintenance of vehicle @ $2.58 per gallon (17 gallons) averages out to$100.
    That's $214.21 in apple products a year for 2 people.

    Now take a look at the numbers for the same home preserved products shall we?
    7 bushels of organic apples... $105 (will almost free when our trees start producing)
    10 lbs sugar...$17.85
    3 TBS sugar $0.50
    3 lemons...$3.00
    193 lids for canning jars...  (bought in bulk) $3.57
    4- 5 gallon food safe buckets...FREE, Grocery bakery trash

    193- pint and quart canning jars and rings...FREE
    Propane, electricity, gas... Averaged out to $35
    That's $162.10 in apple products a year the homesteading way.

    In favor of canning my own...
    • It's only about a $52 savings now, but oh, the benefits. I know I'm getting an organically grown product. 
    • I'm eating local. The source 40 miles from me. 
    • I know everything about these apples because I know the grower. 
    • I know what is in my food.
    • It's made to my tastes rather than having to tweak it.
    I can't say the same thing about store bought product.
    • Food inspectors allow for so many insect parts, foreign debris.
    • They aren't standing over each and every employee to watch them wash their hands or see if they are sick or not, nor where they've been in their work clothes.
    •  A fairly recent survey (2005) prove it. What percentage of women do not wash their hands before returning to work unless someone else is in there too? Drum roll please (ra-tata-tat) 75%!!! These are the people who are preparing and serving your food! Let's all go out to Mickey D's after this...uh, no.
    • Food inspectors only take small samples of huge volumes to inspect. What's been missed. 
    • The average length of a food inspector is an hour or so. So many places to inspect, so little time. They hit the most likely place for infection/contamination.
    • How many cases of food poisoning have you heard about regarding these points in recent years...mostly due to employee error- hundreds, thousands, or millions of people?
    • Have you ever asked to see an inspection report? Shame on you.
    The numbers will change over the next ten years. Store bought will increase in cost, while the cost of my home grown products will continue to decrease with the maturity of our apple and lemon trees. Although, the price of sugar will increase too. Unless, we start growing our own sugar cane. That's doable too.

    I reuse my canning lids when I can too to reduce my overhead. The lid price is IF I only can with brand new lids. I've thought about purchasing the Tattler lids, but that's going to be made over time in multiple purchases. I've got 1,000 pint jars (36 are wide mouth), 48 half pint jars, 24- 1/4 pint jars, 18 pint and a half jars (wide mouthed lids), and 48 wide mouth qt jars in my inventory. I don't use all those at once. But IF the SHTF, I'm ready. They'll be a valuable trading item. But having so many jars is a buffer against breakage. They are glass after all. For two or three years worth of canned meats, fruits, vegetables and condiments, I might use all of these jars in one sitting, but I doubt it. Add to this my dehydrated stores and maybe I'd fill them all. I'm still on the lookout for cheaper half gallon canning jars for things like dry canning cornmeal, sugar, flour, rice, and dried beans in. Carry around 3 and 5 gallons buckets every time I need to replenish household staples gets tiring. A half gallon jar fits so nicely in my shelves. I'm not a spring hen, nor a fall hen anymore as this year of illnesses has proven to me.

    To buy Tattlers for that many jars is huge money to convert to Tattlers (@ $70 for a 100 or 12 dozen for $120) from Ebay for regular sized lids). The wide mouth jars are handy when canning certain items like meatloaf and special breads. But, the Tattler wide mouth kids are equally as dear @ 10 dozen for $90. Of course, you always need to have spares on hand just in case of an unexpected gifts of produce from friends and family like one of my subscribers who was gifted asparagus this past Spring.

    Then, there is the problem like we faced. Sure, Tattler lids won't rust, but rats will chew through them. If a tin lid fails after numerous attempts to seal. you can repurpose it into something else (everyone find a use for little bits of metal. Or chuck it. It only costs pennies instead of almost a buck each. What about a Tattler? It's plastic. I don't know about you but in my mind, plastic equals disposable, but the cost is premium. I can come up with one possible repurpose use. A guard in the hen side to hold down waste in an automatic chicken feeder, but it may even be too small for that. I could probably think of some other ideas, but my brain is too busy thinking of ways to use what we've got already.

    So is preserving your own food safe and cost effective? In my book it is. While buying product to can isn't the best way to do it, it still saves money. Yes, you have to work at it, but isn't that true for everything you've gotten or achieved? I know my body feels better without all those petroleum/chemical based fertilizers or insecticides in them. Your body is your temple treat it with loving care and it will continue helping you along your path. Or like my old computer programming days, GIGO garbage in, garbage out.

    Y'all have a blessed day!
    Cockeyed  Jo