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 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


  1. Wow, that regular perpper's pantry is fantastic! Guess I'm not regular enough, lol. Actually, mine is nowhere near that either, for the same reasons you point out - because Mother Nature is not often kind with her punches. I like your term "self-sustaining preppers." That describes us too. It's a good description of the homesteading lifestyle.

    1. I used to have e a true prepper's pantry. It lasted us 2 years without having to go to the store after my stroke. All those chemicals and processed foods went into our bodies. And still, we only depleted 1/4 of it. You see I was the grocery fairy for my kids and grandkids during that time also. By the time, I moved up here, I donated almost a quarter a 12x12 roomed prepper's pantry to a local food pantry. All my home canned stuff came with me. It makes up my qt, 1/2 pint, and 1/4 pint jars inventory.

      may be able to get there homesteading with marginal store purchases. I'm pretty much on the way. Mel just started having to but paper goods since May and we depleted a goodly amount of food stuff with our week without electricity, but it's a start.


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