Monday, December 30, 2013

Time needed to prepare for the LONG winters

So I know I need about 1,600 quarts of food to make it through the long U.P. winters. So assuming I only used the equipment that I currently have (one pressure cooking and one good quality stock pot) I would have to make 200 runs. I'm going to assume that each run will average 3 hours (prep and cooking) It would take 600 hours (on average) to prep all the food I would need for the winter. Also because of the short growing and harvesting season I would only have about 3 months to get all this done. So I would have to average 200 hours a month, 50 hours a week and about 7 hours a day to get it all done on time!

Well at least I found my second job!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Marry Christmas Farmer Style

Rum, homemake hard cider, milk, cookies, chocolate dipped Oreos, snowman shaped cake and homemade mints!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

FOOD for thought and planning!

How much food would you need to survive a winter? What kinds of food would you need? How much would it cost to prepare all that food? Well the USDA's National Center for Home Food Preservation put out TONS of helpful and useful information every year and are the main and best source for canning safety. One the worksheets they put out is this one. ( on page 1-34) It is a chart that helps you to plan how much food you need to can and what foods you need to can. I did the above worksheet to see how much my family would have to can to make it thought the winter( 8 months of snow). It turns out that I will need 1,536 quarts of food. For fun over the next week or so I"m going to break down how much meat veggies fruit and TIME I will need to fill all those jar. But for now to just buy the jars alone it will cost about $2,560 (based on the average cost of a 12 pack of jars is $20).

This is why planning is so key when entering into a venture like farming, homesteading, or being self-sufficient. I have to admit I was a little surprised by these numbers. Were you surprised?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Child Abuse and Endangerment... OH HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

My sister shared this great picture of all of us kids. This is a photo of our annual chicken slaughter. As stated earlier these types of traditions started to die out when I was very young BUT I do remember a few of them. As a family we all had jobs ranging from slaughtering to gutting to de-feathering. We all worked as a family to make meat. Chicken though for what ever reason was quickly phased out and we switched to only harvesting pigs for meat. These memories are some of the main reasons why I have a passion to further my homesteading life style.

Now fast forward 20+ years and I now have kids of my own and I want to share with them the same experiences I fondly remember as a kid. So I started getting chickens, rabbits, turkeys and harvesting wild life. My kids LOVE IT! BUT as stated earlier TIMES HAVE CHANGED.

Back on the farm and in the community we lived in making meat as a family was just a way of life. But when I shared with friends and friends of friend that I make my own meat and my kids were involved I get a much different response. I have been accused of everything from child abuse to child endangerment.

One of the most profound events happened when one of my friends wanted to have a grill out at my house. At the time we had rabbits turkeys and chickens. The "farm" we had was in a very urban setting. We were lucky in the fact that at the time we had about .25 acres of land to work with (now we have A LOT LESS). All the animals were well taken care of and very healthy. Well we were having a good time grilling, eating, and talking. The friend of the friend was impressed that we could keep such healthy animals on such a small piece of land. BUT THEN ENTER AT THE TIME MY YOUNGEST.

She loved the animal but she loved even more that these animals were going to become our "chicken nuggets" (for here even the rabbits were going to be chicken nuggets, she was 3 and all meat was chicken nuggets) She took this lady around and explained to her about how this turkey was named Christmas, that one was Easter, and that one was Thanksgiving. Next came the rabbits and than the chickens. Well after that the mood changed.

The story goes on from there but you get the moral. We were bad parents in that person's eyes. Not to mention we were bad people too. Mind you this is just one story of many. But this one was one of the worst.

It's funny how less than a generation or two the only way to put meat on the table was to kill and clean it yourself. Even going to the butcher meant you had to wait around sometimes has he "filled" your order.

But besides that history lesson what the person failed to see is that all the farming activities were done as a family for us. My kids didn't watch much TV they went outside in the fresh air and helped with caring for the animals. My kids learned the what it took to have food on the table. My kids understood that everything on the earth had a purpose. They also learned some valuable life skills. If times ever got tough I know that my kids could survive not because "well you know I could if I had to" But I know that they could because they HAVE DONE IT ALREADY.

We have lost touch as a people. No longer can we do for ourselves. Instead we handicap ourselves to the magic of the supermarkets of the world. This is one of the driving reason why if at all possible I will restart the family farm despite all the new limitation we have. I firmly believe urban farming and family farmer on only makes us better parents but it also makes us stronger as a family!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

OK I learned my lesson the HYDROMETER is key!!

So way back when almost 9 years ago now I started brewing wine. I put together my own little brewing station from salvaged and improvised items. Everything from a Kerosene hand-pump in place of a syphon and empty one gallon cheap wine jugs as carboys. But it worked and worked well! Slowly I picked up more and more proper equipment. One of the last pieces I kicked up was a hydrometer. But funny enough I never used it! I thought it to be a waste of time and to high of a risk for contamination. So it was set aside to collect dust for years. UNTIL

Fast forward a few years and on last Sunday I started another batch of hard cider and came across my very dusty hydrometer and decided what the hell give it a try. WOW was I surprised what I found out from the readings! Turns out I have a lot of altering to do to my recipes!