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, August 27, 2017

RIP Dustin

You may remember I blogged about Dustin before. He was our non related self black, English Angora buck with wry neck. He passed away unexpectedly this week.

Mel had built a special enclosure for him in  the rabbitry barn. It was filled with straw and I had bought special feeder and watering trays for him that attached to the shelving wire enclosure. He loved his new digs!

We watched him happily roll around his enclosure. Safe and comfortable. He would venture around it and return to us to check if we were watching, and then take off again. His wry neck didn't seem to bother him. As always, he loved performing his antics to an audience. He was very socialized to us.

What killed him, we don't know. We do know he wasn't attacked. Mel went to feed the rabbits and she found him. Mel's last original angora is no more.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Progress Continues at the Cockeyed Homestead

The rabbit hoop barn is complete. Finally! You can see it finished project on an upcoming video.

Now. it's on to the chicken enclosure.We have lost four hens so far. It greatly reduces our egg production. The decision to not free range our chickens any more was because of the loss. We will also be butchering four roosters this week. Having this many extra roosters means our hens are taking a
beating. When the back hoe pulled out the Spanish Bayonet, we found a clutch of almost three dozen eggs under it. One of the old New Hampshire Reds went broody a few months ago. I heard her under there but didn't have access to it. She later abandoned the nest. We could smell the results as the shovel end came down on the eggs. They were ripe.We still had a New Hampshire Red rooster when she went broody too. It's a shame she abandoned the nest, they are highly productive in eggs. Very friendly birds too, unlike our current chickens.

The handyman came about the ramp and deck to the storage unit. I still haven't heard when he can start this job. The plumber came and we got his estimate, but no work has started yet. We still haven't had any luck in locating an electrician. I've only called four so far.

The cockeyed garden has produced fairly well this year. I've canned three cases of green beans, frozen about two dozen, double servings of zucchini, eggplant, and breaded okra for frying. I'm still canning black eye peas and tomatoes. I've got about two cases of each so far. I've canned a case of peaches to supplement our frozen bags.This week, I found deer apples for $6 a case so I bought two. Not for deer, silly but for us. They aren't huge or pretty, but they are firm enough for apple pie filling and apple butter. The skins and cores go into the barrel for making apple cider vinegar, and then into the compost pile. Everything plays double or triple duty around here. Not a stellar produce year, but better than last year.

I've also put up some pints of cherry pie filling. I blame my need for cherry pie at Thanksgiving on my grandparents. My grandfather planted 14 cherry trees on their property. One for each child born. Two things we could count on every year in Nebraska...cherries and corn. Make that three. Rhubarb. My grandmother loved the stuff and to this day, I can't stand it.

The garden looks like a mess of weeds, but it's planned that way. Among the vegetable plants grow violets, herbs, plantain, lettuce, garlic, grasses the rabbits love, clover, potatoes, and a host of wild greens. All this green will be tilled in late fall. Yet another layer of cardboard, straw, rabbit and chicken manure, and a layer of compost will be added to the whole area to await spring planting. The worms will do their thing over winter leaving us a rich environment for growing. Each year the garden soil grows better and better.

I'm noticeably absent from the YouTube front. I'm doing a cooking video every two weeks rather than every week like I did last year. I'm too busy behind the scenes canning and freezing. I'm also cultivating relationships with other organic farmers in the area. What we don't grow they do and vice versa. We just don't have enough land to produce all of what we need. We are forming communities within communities and bartering to boot. I'm visiting farmers' markets, online forums, and such. I've even joined a homesteading blogging network. The exchange of information is so important. If I can build this blog to the status of my other one, I'll be in hog heaven.

That's it for this week...
Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

You Know You're Paralyzed, Right?

"Doh!" was my response.
This following question another patient made they made after hearing me tell my physical therapist what I have been doing on the homestead since I last saw him a week ago.

This was followed by the usual comment I hear, "You do more before noon than most people do all day!"

Yes, that's true. I operate a mini farm and homestead. To others homesteaders, I'm barely doing anything. That's true also. I'll call a homesteading friend and they will have done twice the amount of work done that day. I guess it all depends on your point of view. It really doesn't seem that much to me, but when you recite my list of morning chores most "ordinary" folks are exhausted just thinking about it.

From 4AM to 7AM, you'll find me in the kitchen. I'm starting the day's baking. Breads, rolls, breakfast pastries, and desserts for the week are prepped. I'll also eat my breakfast. Usually yogurt, homemade granola cereal, or oatmeal. Occasionally, I'll scramble some eggs and have some toast. I'll hop on the computer to play some wake up my mind games, answer and read emails, check the day's schedule, etc. I'll feed the cats and dogs, giving them plenty of ear ruffles before I head outdoors with them tagging along.

From 7AM to 10 AM, you'll find me with the chickens, rabbits, or harvesting the garden. I'll gather wild plantain, poplar and oak leaves, assorted grasses, clover, and other weeds for the rabbits. While technically their diets is complete with fodder and timothy hay, I figure the rabbits would like different things to munch on too. I sort of rotate how much of each they get per day and change it up. Each will get individual attention...mostly snuggles and nose to nose Eskimo kisses. Dustin is usually ready for his morning physical therapy session. I usually feed him first so he's ready by the time I finish everyone else. I'll gather the eggs before I head inside. I'll also set up Mel's morning cup of tea.

The chickens get the bucket full of caterpillars, beetles, and assorted bugs I find in the garden as well as their ration of fermented grains (wheat. barley, sunflower, and oats) and a commercial organic chicken  food. The chickens will also spend the bulk of their day free ranging in our wooded back acreage. I'm also setting up next rotation the fodder and fermented grains. Broody or Gimpster (as Mel calls her) gets up in the dog crate to be fed and have her alone time away from the roosters who aggravate her unmercifully. The cage door isn't latched and she lets herself out when she is ready to rejoin the flock.

All in all, our animals are pampered if not spoiled rotten.

From 10AM to 3PM, I'm baking whatever I started earlier and washing the day's harvest. Then, I'm processing the harvest. Canning tomatoes, okra, and eggplant (for right now). Black-eyed peas, herbs, or other harvest is set on trays in the oven for the pilot light to dehydrate them.

From 3PM to 5PM, I'm usually doing my off the homestead doctor or therapist visits, feed stores run (including for us), etc. Or, I'm grooming rabbits. Or, I'm helping Mel with this or that project around the homestead. I'm also prepping dinner unless I'm running late and pick something quick before coming home.

6PM to 10PM, I'm cleaning up the day's mess in the kitchen. Not that I'm not doing this during the day too. We are watching our favorite Netflix shows or watching YouTube. But I'm also knitting. Right now, I'm working on a 12" wide scarf for Mel. After that project is done, it'll be socks, baby booties foe crisis pregnancy, and dishcloths.

From 10PM to midnight, I'm usually at my computer. Playing mind building or just for fun games, writing blogs, answering and reading the 50 odd emails that have come in during the day. I'll finally lay down for the night amidst the sounds of crickets, frogs, cat purrs, and an occasional coyote call.

So what do you think? I'm I too busy or just busy enough?

Y'all have a blessed day!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jars, Jars, Jars!

Canning jars are an essential for the homestead. Ours is no exception. A YouTube subscriber of ours lives in North Carolina near an Amish community with a cannery. They sell for pennies on the dollar or giveaway their used jars. Yes, they have some leftover jams and jellies in them, but otherwise, they are perfect. She's collected 40 cases of pint and a half jars for us this year and it's time to get them. SIXTY cases (12 jars to a case) may sound extreme, but how many cans or frozen bags of vegetables do you go through in a year?

I'm not above borrowing, bartering, or even using second hand stuff. It's all part of being frugal financially. This goes along with the self reliant life style we are trying to achieve. With a garden, there are overages in harvest, either planned or just happens in a fruitful year. I don't know about you. but I just don't have enough freezer space to process all my planned harvest because we are shooting for six months to a year's worth. It also costs money to store produce in the freezer. The option are limited to store and preserve a harvest: dehydrate, can, freeze, or a root cellar.

Some fresh produce does well in a root cellar. Mainly root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and turnips. Hard squashes, garlic, and onions last only a few months. My grandmother kept apples in a barrel after wrapping each one in newspaper. These would have to be checked and rewrapped each week to check for spoilage. You ever hear this old saying, "One bad apples spoils the whole barrel or bunch?" That's where this comes from. The same concerns the rest of the harvest stored in a root cellar. Vigilance is the key to successful root cellar keepers.

Some produce does beautifully dehydrated, but not all do. I dehydrate all my herbs and root type seasonings. I love to dehydrate mushrooms! Four pounds of dehydrated mushrooms easily fits into a pint jar. Talk about space savings! Don't you just love dehydrated watermelon? A ten-pound watermelon dehydrates into a super sweet treat almost like candy because without the water all the sugar is condensed in a smaller area. Cantaloupe or strawberry roll ups. Raisins. Apple and banana chips. Venison, beef, and rabbit jerky. I could go on and on.

The last option is canning. Once you purchase the jars and you have a garden, the expense is minimal year after year. The cost of lids can vary. I usually buy the sleeves of 349 lids for about $50. I also will reuse lids. Technically, you are not suppose to, but I do. The rings are reusable until they get too rusted or bent. Since you remove the rings after you seal your jars, the same rings can be used multiple times during a season. The rest of the time, they hang on an opened metal clothes hanger in my pantry. Wide rings on one and regular rings on the other. You  will quickly end up with a glut of rings if you buy all new jars. They'll be everywhere and seem to multiply.

You can also smoke and salt meats for longer term storage. I prefer canning my meats.

So I'm on a pickup run to North Carolina. When you figure out just how much canned food you go through on a year and how many jars you'll need, the monies saved on a trip like this sure beats the cost of new jars $36 in gas versus $480 in new jars. Plus, I picked up 30 4-gallon food grade buckets with lids for free. They'll come in handy for storing the rest of what I purchased. In going into the actual store, I purchased 100 lbs of each, oats, sugar, barley, dried corn, and wheat. All non GMO and no chemicals. For other canning and tanning items, I bought Clear-Gel, citric acid, alum, and salt in bulk quantities and cheaper than Amazon would have sold it. I might have spent almost all my savings on the jars in other products, but I won't need to buy them again in at least a year or more. Now that's still saving money and being self reliant!

Y'all have a blessed day!