Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

Oct 13, 2021

Preparedness 12.0/ Final Harvest, Winterizing The House and Coop


Preparedness 12.0/ Final Harvest-
Our first hard freeze is here! Eastern Idaho had several inches of snow two days ago. This is the time of year where you start preparing for winter. As they used to say in Game of Thrones WINTER IS COMING! We wrapped up the harvesting, except the Basil and herbs, covered those with a row cover-

High winds so need to weight it down

Only some small green tomatoes are still outside. We'll check on those this weekend. We picked our last really ripe tomatoes and peppers. With the cold snap warning Dave harvested all the last of the large green tomatoes in advance-

This is only one tray!

The really ripe ones we're using on homemade pizzas this week! Got the dough from a local pizza place. Some of the others I'll be freezing or I may make a big pot of pasta sauce. The green ones we will lay out and let ripen slowly. They never have quite as much flavor but they're good to use in soups and things. I dehydrated lots of dead ripe tomatoes, more coming!

This time of year we winterize the house, doing things like closing up the foundation vents, putting out some fleecy blankets for snuggling. I'll be adding our heavy comforter this weekend to our bed. I moved my summer clothes into our spare bedroom closet. Got out all my flannel blouses and fleece. Luckily I bought more wool socks last month! One of the things we do to winterize the houses is buy some of Costco's amazing chocolate/almond biscotti's! They are so good with a cup of something hot on a cold day. Winterizing the house includes the yard like putting away the hoses, pump is out of the pond and we moved some of the perennials in pots to winter-over in the garage. I'll pack up my garden bench and cover with plastic this weekend. Got out my small space heater for the kitchen. The big sliding glass doors make for a cold spot near the desk-

Link to my post Low Cost Ways to Keep Your Home Warm for more ideas. We got the cars ready for winter- new wiper blades, got out the snow scrapers, added a blanket in the backseat of each car. All those little things in case you get stranded and buried! What I bought this week- more acorn squash, lemons (small amount of pesto to still make), misc stuff.  

FOR MORE REALITY CHECKS- 5% inflation (today), new of possible brownouts/blackouts in some areas possible, droughts equal less foods, last springs freezes equals less foods and feed for ranchers, gas is going up, sizes going down /prices up (shrinkflation), less food in the stores, restaurants having less staffing/ more areas closed off, less available online to buy, trucking shortage, blackouts in China affecting manufacturing. Here's some visuals and links-  

Again- no down side to being prepared 

Winterizing the coop is actually fairly easy. We have a large window on the bottom of the coop that faces East. In the spring we switch it out, put on a frame with hardware cloth for ventilation (Dave built). We also took off the glass panel on the storm door. It was part of our Coop Rehab  Works much better than the old warped wood door, and it was recycled! The upper coop window (recycled) slides and can be opened as needed-

Lower vent on the left

Dave put the big glass panel on the coop wall back on and added the glass panel to the storm door before the freeze hit. They still have good ventilation through the lower vent and the coop itself is not airtight. There's also a vent in the roof. The main thing with the coop is that you do not want to have too much moisture inside. We also have the upper window that we can open if it gets really warm. Will be adding our exterior extension cord soon, to plug in their water so it won't freeze. It also allows us to turn on a light inside the coop if we have to go out after dark. I decided not to add a light at night to get more egg production. We do use a hardwired-in heat lamp and a reptile ceramic disc for additional heat if it gets really cold. Usually that would be in the teens or lower, but it depends. The good thing about the deep litter method is it actually generates some heat in the winter as it slowly breaks down. We love that method and there's never any odor! We'll add the sunroom soon, the new design worked great last year-

Just knocked off the snow once in a while!

Oct 7, 2021

Preparedness 11.0/ Amaranth Grain


Preparedness 11.0/ Amaranth Grain
Good ideas above, time to remind myself on occasion! First hard freeze is coming next week, winter's coming. We'll be winterizing the coop, closing the house vents, getting out the warmer bedding and winter clothes. Bye bye summer! So it was time to harvest Basil. I made a big quadruple batch of Rosie's Pesto. The Basil plants did great with three big pots full,  I harvested about 80%

Luckily the pine nuts I get at Winco are bulk, so I save quite a bit there. I always grate the cheese first in the food processor then set aside, juice the lemons, etc. I make it and freeze in small jars I bought years ago-

Little jars ready with fresh lemon juice

made 13 jars total, off to the freezer! 

I also saw Rosie's recipe for this Cajun Seasoning- 

We harvested another nice batch of tomatoes, cukes and peppers, tons more green on the vine to bring in next week-

headed for freezer, and/or pasta sauce this weekend

I had heard of Amaranth, but had never eaten any. I've tried lots of various unusual grain over the years- Millett, Teff, etc. I decided to buy some, it was less than $3.00 a LB, so I bought about 2 Lbs. I did some research and here's a nice looking breakfast dish Blueberry Amaranth Porridge  You could do lots with this, since it's a great source of protein! Lots of info here on nutritional info Food Facts Mercola Amaranth

I hit the Dollar Tree and scored four bags each of black beans, Northern beans and rice. No price changes yet, may coming according to the national news-

Bought two bags of these to try-

I've continued to stock up on bulk spices, more cabbage for the fridge, filling nooks and crannies. I seasoned my new thrifted cast iron pot, came out great! What are you doing to prepare for winter? 

Sep 29, 2021

Preparedness 10.0 / What If ? , Canning Rhubarb Sauce


Payette Lake

Preparedness 10.0 / What Ifs?
Autumn is here, cooling down, leaves starting to fall, got some rain! We decided to take a short day trip up to McCall for a change of scenery and a mental health break. Great weather, saw six deer, clear skies and 70 degrees! Random shots-

saw tons of these on the ground, not sure what they are

Water is low

We hit our favorite thrift store! I found a really nice expensive-looking ceramic garlic holder for fresh garlic-


The store was just putting out a cast iron pot with a lid. As the worker was taking a photo I asked her how much it was? She said "well what do you want to offer me"? I looked at the bottom and said "made in Taiwan",  looked in pretty good shape. I offered her $12, she said yes and I bought it! It needs a good scrubbing but it was already seasoned which was good. Not sure how old it is. I had read lately a lot of people bake round loaves of bread in round cast iron pots. Always good to have an extra pot anyway since sometimes we have company and need the extra cooking containers-

We stopped at the Ace Hardware store since I had a funny feeling they might have some canning lids. And boy did they! I bought some Pur brand wide-mouth canning jars. I think Pur bought out part of the Mason company.  After I did some digging I think that the lids are made in Colorado. I was really happy that the price, 12 lids for $5 so I bought five boxes. Who knows what next year will bring? Good to plan ahead-

I took a day of work for projects, that was much more relaxed! I did a little fall baking, using the last of my canned apples slices from several years ago. Lots of cinnamon and an oat/crumble topping, yummy! 

On the preparedness side I heard Costco is not only limiting items but will be hiring their own cargo freighters, just like Home Depot. Our grocery store, Winco, seems to be pretty well stocked for now. The Dollar Store is on the national news, now their prices going up. I just keep looking for gaps I can fill now inexpensively. I bought some soy sauce, pork chops (to freeze), ketchup, Bronner's apple cider vinegar. We use vinegar in the chickens water, great for probiotics and shell strength. I bought some nice bell peppers, .50 cents each, to freeze-

Went to our fave farmstead, bought pumpkins and fresh local fruit, gypsy peppers, squash, peaches and plums-

fun pumpkins! 


More bulk spices, chives and parsley

I just froze two dozen eggs since the production is slowing down a little bit. Will freeze another dozen.I finally found some dried small red beans to make red band and rice, recipe here Authentic Louisiana Red Beans and Rice  This is a recipe you can really play around with. I had a frozen pork shank so I used that for flavor, much better than overly-salty ham hocks! Served with biscuits, and lemon cukes, love those beans-

Nice haul from the garden, will freeze some-

I had to turn off Youtube and take a break from all the prepping info last week. I was on information overload. I can see the writing on the wall (to a certain extent) of how the next year (or two) might roll out.  I will say frankly it's looking pretty bad. I just read that natural gas is skyrocketing and that could be really tough for a lot of people this winter. At least we do have several oil-filled radiant heaters. They don't use a lot of power and a great to heat up individual rooms. The UK is running out of fuel and calling in the military to help. Ships stuck on the coast, droughts, etc. I think for some people who don't know how to cook from scratch, garden, preserve foods or fix things life might get pretty ugly. Sometimes you have to make SACRIFICES. My family did that during the depression. You adjust and keep going. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but we'll see. After watching a YouTube video the other I thought about some "what ifs"??? 

What If ? 
****What if you couldn't find any clothing/shoes/household goods for a year? What if groceries and other supplies become more and more limited? What if you couldn't get basic medical care? What if your main source of heat for the winter quit working? What if you had trouble getting water? What if you lost power for an extended period of time? What if you didn't have internet access? ****
Some of those questions get your wheels spinning. So what kind of backups might you be able to have? Can you barter? Can you make things? And how can you modify your home/life to be more resilient? For urban folks I HIGHLY recommend the Retrosuburbia book, see left sidebar for more info.  Full of amazing ideas! Here's my fave new Youtube channels, tons of great info there Melissa Norris Modern Homesteading and this too Simple Living Alaska, check them out! Gives me helpful tips and tricks and something positive to focus on if I get bummed out. Hit the thrift stores, for instance and buy tools, etc. Tools would be a great barter item. Think outside the box. 

I know, it's not red

Canning Rhubarb Sauce-
Every year our neighbor (who hates rhubarb), lets us harvest hers, we give her eggs. This year we got about 10 lbs. I froze it in vacuum bags back in July, then thawed this weekend-

Here's what I used, was a little too sweet so I added a little bottled lemon juice  Canning Rhubarb Sauce. The 10 Lbs came out to 13 jars. I did adjust the sugar a little bit lower and it was still pretty sweet so I was just a tablespoon of lemon juice. Nice to have more homemade food! It came out a bit green, that rhubarb isn't the really red version, and I don't like food coloring. It's tasty! Good on top on ice cream, cereal, yogurt or plain. 

Sep 22, 2021

Preparedness 9.0 / Dehydrating Frozen Foods, Autumn Decor!


Preparedness 9.0/ Dehydrating Frozen Foods -
I wanted to start doing more of a variety of food preparedness so I decided to bring out my food dehydrator! I bought it probably 15 to 20 years ago and didn't use it that often, but it works great. I have the Nesco/American Harvest brand.  I started reading articles about how some people bought frozen foods (already chopped, etc.). Once thawed you can then just put them on the food dehydrator. I started off with some chopped spinach which work great! I wanted something to add to soups, scrambled eggs, etc. Fresh spinach is very perishable so I thought drying some would be a good option. The first batch of spinach came out great! I did two medium sized bags of spinach which converted to one medium sized jar, see above.

I also bought a bag of blueberries and will also be working on some cubed carrots and peas. One nice thing about food dehydrators is you can turn it on and walk away. One of my rules however is I never run it over night while I'm sleeping. To me it's just not worth the fire hazard. I dried one bag of blueberries, definitely took a lot longer since there was more liquid in them. Those converted to a smaller jar. I'll probably do a few more bags of blueberries since those are really great in cookies, muffins, oatmeal, etc. 


Off to the pantry! 

I did realize after the fact I should have sprayed a little Pam or oil on the food dehydrator trays as the berries were pretty sticky. You could also use parchment paper. So if you want to do some food dehydrating just buy some frozen veggies already prepped and throw them on the tray! Needless to say you can also do your own or store-bought fresh vegetables and do the prep yourself. We getting more tomatoes so I think I'm a dry some, slice them really thin and dry 'em up! You can dry in your oven on low heat too, just use a cookie sheet. I may try some jerky too.

What I bought this week- 
Some canned foods from the Dollar Store. Goya red beans, some Halloween candy (hoping for trick or treaters), two totes of shelf stable 2% milk, two bags of lentils, Himalayan salt, two tins of Mackerel in tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, two cans of coconut milk to make some curry or smoothies. They had lots of canned meats, but some are way too salty for me. I bought a small amount of some mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to package up smaller amounts. I don't want to preserve huge bags of grains, etc for just two people. Easier to do smaller bags, open as you need them. Got a few fun Halloween things for my home office, not going back to the office any time soon.  And a fun Autumn sign for the deck herb box-

speaking of autumn....

Autumn Decor!
I never liked putting up Autumn decor when it's hot. Now that it's cooled off I was in the mood for putting up some Autumn goodies! I got out my seasonal items and bought a couple bags of small pumpkins. I put all my generic stuff away, now I'm feeling ready for some ginger cake! My mom always made boxed ginger cake in the fall, I still occasionally make that, but I had a handful or two of raisins or chopped nuts. Quick dessert on a busy weekend, top with whipped cream and that's fall to me. Ironically I'm not much on all of the pumpkin flavored stuff. The only reason I even made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving let's because everybody else liked it. To me it's just squash! Here's a peak around the house, we'll get cornstalks soon for the front entrance and a few larger pumpkins-

Dining room

Living room

My Etsy faves! Toot and Lil' Toot!

From my library days, Starbucks reading owl
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