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, May 20, 2018

Taking Advantage of the Cooler Weather


Yes, as I predicted, we are still experiencing some 40 degree night time temperatures at the Cockeyed Homestead. So I'm doing the Snoopy dance of happiness that I have planted the garden, but my seedlings are now plants and should survive the cooler weather. To date, 40 tomato plants are in straw bales. Thirty-two of which are Roma tomato plants. Yes, I'm planning to can a huge bunch of tomatoes. We just added another set of tires to our potato plants. They are growing great. The bush green bean, cucumber, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, and English peas seeds are planted. I'm growing horseradish, ginger and turmeric in pots. It just gets too cold here in winter to plant them in the ground. I've seeded our gutter garden with lettuces. Now in my starter trays, I've got okra, pumpkin, peppers, and sweet potatoes.  They will love the warmer weather in a month or so.

 I have been canning up a storm while it's cool. The canners adds needed humidity to the air inside and heat. It's that time again to empty out the freezers and defrost them. We do this every two years. It's hard to believe I've been here two years already. Time flies when you are busy. So I've been canning the contents of the freezer and more.

So far, I've canned up pint jars of 18 lbs of ham, 40 lbs of pork chops, 24 lbs of roast beef, 40 lbs of pork loin chops, 24 jars of spaghetti sauce with meat and there was still shrimp, fish, and ground beef in the freezer. I've even made a case of chili for quick fix dinner nights when Mel comes in saying, "I'm starving!" The fish, shrimp and the 10 lbs of ground beef can sit in the coolers until Mel finishes defrosting the freezer. Or maybe, I'll try and can hamburger patties and meatloaf again if I have enough wide mouth pint jars. I also canned about 20 lbs of bacon in half pint jars (a serving for the 2 of us). I couldn't keep Mel out of the bacon. She was a regular piggy it scarfing up every time she passed the pans. I did the last 10 lbs in a 10 lb batch. I won't ever do that much at one time again. Even Mel complained that she was almost sick of the smell of bacon and after a week she says no when I talk about cooking some.

I even canned the bacon fat that rendered off the bacon during the par cooking process. You may think canning the bacon fat is overkill, but I don't. We make our own laundry, bath, and hand soaps on this homestead. We even make our own lye from the wood ash and rain water we collected over the winter. How's that for being self sufficient? Homemade soaps take a lot of fat to make a good bar. The fat can come from anywhere even store bought. The less money I pay for base ingredients for the soap I make means more money I can spend elsewhere.

Besides the canned fat can be used in biscuits, gravy, and pie shells. The canned bacon fat will have to go through another cooking process to remove the smoky flavor before it's used in anything other than flavoring. Although, the bacon flavor and taste wouldn't be bad in breakfast biscuits. Oh, it makes some yummy green beans and other vegetables too.

So my winter depleted storage building got a new influx of canned foods before the garden starts producing. My plans for the empty chest freezer? To fill it again. This time with half a cow and culled roosters. Maybe, even half a lamb for variety. I also do plan to buy 2 cases of hot dogs from Zaycon in early summer. We do love the Zaycon all beef hot dogs! The one case I ordered last year was gone too fast and I thought we'd have plenty. The plan is not to have to buy meat again this year unless it's something special like seafood.

EMPTY
Actually, I plan not not having to go to the grocery store for much besides milk, hard cheeses, and sodas. At least that's the plan. There might be a few household items like bleach and vinegar or paper goods that might have me running out to get it, but I tend to buy these on sale in lots of three or four at a time. I did make about three gallons of apple cider vinegar from the peeling and cores of the deer apples I bought last fall so that will carry us through until pickle making time in mid summer.

Oh, and I'll make my yearly trip to the Amish store in NC. I'll pick up some more cases of used canning jars, my non GMO flour, wheat, sugar, and Clearjel. We'll be set for at least a year. The purchase of the 50 lbs of ground flour is a luxury item for me. It will get me several months worth of ready to use flour rather than soaking, drying, and grinding it myself. The Clearjel is necessary for pie fillings, and cream of chicken and mushroom soups that I can. I've used other thickeners in the past, but for long term storage of these items, I prefer Clearjel when I can get it. But I use half as much than is called for in a recipe. I kind of like getting my canned food stuff out of the jars without having to dig it out. Oh, geez! I just checked my inventory program that Mel created and saw that I only have six pint jars of Cream of chicken soup and only 2 pints of beef broth left. Guess I gotta make some soon.

It's been a busy canning time for me this week. Mel has been troubleshooting her new Master List gardening program. We've also been busy with the bunnies who blew their coats. A shorter staple length because of the shearing, but not too short. Still a respectable 4" length on average. So we've been busy!

****Something NEW to this blog****
I now write a newsletter weekly on the happenings on the homestead. A more precise look at what is going on weekly here than this blog. If you'd like to be included, please fill in the contact form ----> over there and put "newsletter" in the message section.

Y'all have a blessed day!

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