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...

Aug 2, 2022

Heat Dome/Garden Progress, A More Resilient Kitchen, Dehydrating Eggs!

Heat Dome/Garden Progress-
I don't know about anybody else but we have been under the heat Dome that's been all over the news. It's been in the 100°s for the last 2 weeks. But we lucked out today, it was in the '80s and it RAINED this morning! Not a lot of rain, but enough to really cool things down. We have just been watering, watering and watering the yarden. I've been taking extra cool care of our chickens. I use a water mister near their shade area, hose it down once or twice a day, and give them cool treats. Our tomatoes been growing like crazy in the heat! Typically tomatoes don't set fruit over about 80° or so, luckily there were lots of baby tomatoes already on the vine. It's made a HUGE difference in the production in the garden with more SUN. We did a major professional prune a while back. What a difference!!! 

We finally had our first harvest! I picked one medium sized tomato and two lemon cucumbers. The lemon cucumbers are doing amazing, they are growing so fast! I decided not to plant any pickling cucumbers since I found a wonderful local farm where I can buy them fresh. I made the best fermented pickles ever last year using their cukes! We have a good amount of peaches on the front peach tree, just starting to change colors. Our apple tree is running a little bit light on the harvest this year. That's nature. That's why I wanted to plant three different kinds of fruit trees. The blackberries are ripening now as well. Pretty soon I will be canning fruit! I also bought a pressure cleaner so I'm going to start canning some meats and non-acid vegetables. I hope to be also canning soups for the winter. With potential blackout/brownouts/fuel shortage good to have easy, healthy fast foods on hand. If you're not getting prepared for some future difficulties better late than never! I heard about a shortage coming of Garbanzo beans so I bought about eight lbs. of dried in the bulk section. They're tucked away in glass jars with O2 absorbers. I also got a great deal on Augason Farms freeze dried strawberries, $20.00 for a #10 can, nice deal. Still on Amazon clearance. Never to late to get things in order...

A More Resilient Kitchen-
When we bought our house almost 20 years ago there was a built-in desk in the dining room/kitchen. That worked out pretty well and we decided to use it for that. Later I really wanted to remove all of that and put in a buffet, but we never put new counters in the kitchen. I had hoped we would be able to do solid countertops and turn that area into a buffet for storage. Fast forward to now. I decided since I'm not working from home anymore to move our kitchen office into the spare bedroom. I'm hoping we'll be able to put some butcher block where the current countertop is. In the meantime I decided to take back my kitchen. We moved the computer system into the home office, where I previously worked at my job. That opened up the entire counter. I cleared everything off and wiped everything down. It's amazing how many dust bunnies were under there! I even had room to put out my radio/CD player!

I made 2 loaves of bread in the new (thrifted) bread machine there, Honey Oat bread (recipe in my Pinterest bread folder)-

Great flavor and crumb!

Next I used the same recipe, but used 1 cup WW flour and 1 teaspoon dough enhancer, excellent result!

Hole from the paddle, great otherwise! 

I will keep playing around and plan to make some herb breads too. One of the things I wanted to start using the area for is for dehydrating-

Orange slices for winter teas

It will be really handy to have that area for cooling home-canned bloing jars instead of the top of my dining table. When we have lots of company over in the winter for the holidays I can use it as a serving area. So far so good! I'm leaving the dehydrator there for now so I can run various batches including eggs. More on that below...

18 eggs in there!

Dehydrating Eggs!
I've seen a few different blogs and YouTube videos that had information on how to dehydrate fresh eggs. I decided to try that! Since we have a bumper crop of our own organic eggs it's a good shelf stable way  to preserve them! Basically I ran about 9 of our eggs at a time through our Magic Bullet until blended, 18 totla in the 1st batch. I had previously bought some silicone trays for inside my food dehydrator, link here Dehydrator Trays I had the trays stacked and simply carefully poured the eggs in. The temperature I read everywhere was to do about 140° for about 18 hours or so. Probably depends on the humidity where you live. Here's the photos of the process-

Mostly dry, checking for doneness

dry and crispy, looks like corn flakes!

I ran the chunks thru the Magic Bullet again (clean and dry), came out perfect. I added to O2 absorbers in the glass jars. Just treat like raw eggs and cook. You can use in baked goods, for scrambled, eggs etc. 
Great video here from one of my fave Youtubers with lots of info!  From RoseRed Homestead-

Jul 7, 2022

Homesteading Thrifting Finds/Pressure Canning, Veggie Garden Growing! My Eton Mess, RIP Rosie

Homesteading Thrifting Finds/Pressure Canning-
Here's an update of some things that we've been doing here! My thrift store radar was pinging the other day, I went to Goodwill, came around the corner and saw something I have been thinking about buying new. With the price of wheat going up and up and no end in sight in the future, I had thought about buying a bread machine. Since I work full time I thought it would be nice to buy a machine where I could just dump everything in and have a loaf of bread! You can also use it to make a lot of different kinds of doughs for other purposes as well. I really just didn't want to spend the money on it. So I went thrifting and what did I find? A Breadman Ultimate bread making machine! For a whopping $10.00! I love the fact that loaf goes sideways and is not shaped like a square- 

I plugged it in at the thrift store, the power came on, looks like it's been very well taken care of and hardly used. It even came with the owner's manual and the recipe book! I wiped it down, washed it and it almost looks brand new. Will give it a test run this weekend. While I love Dave's Killer Bread, and a few of the other whole grain breads, it's just getting too expensive. I really loaded up on flours the last eight months, as well as wheat berries. So I can definitely make bread a lot cheaper than I can buy it. And fresher too!  I also found a really nice big heavy class Anchor Hocking storage jar. Like new as well! $4.00. 

I did some research on how to dehydrate eggs, since we have our own, and turn into egg powder. Egg powder will take up a lot less space than freezing eggs in our freezer. I'm also trying to move away from relying on our freezer in case we have brown outs/blackouts in the next 6 months and ongoing. After doing research I realized that I could use my existing dehydrator I just needed to buy some food grade silicone liner trays. I found a good deal on Amazon, $14.00 for four, and they fit perfect! I may also make some fruit leathers for the grandkids- 

Basically you do about 8 to 10 eggs at a time, blended, and dehydrate at 140° until completely dry. I think I read that can take about 10 to 12 hours or more. I will be doing that shortly since we have almost six dozen eggs! Will fire it up this weekend and post results. 

I've been doing some research for a while and decided to start doing pressure canning. For a long time there was a lot in the media about NOT being able to use a glass top stove. After I did a lot of research I realized that you can, however you have to make sure about the weight, the size of the burner, and the canner. After doing research I decided to buy a Presto 16 quart pressure canner. It will be a good smaller size for us. I did research on my stove top and how big the canner would be. I was really excited to see that the thick round part of the canner bottom fits exactly my large burner, perfect-

This was something that I saw lots of places is really mandatory. There's also weight limit on most glass top stove of about 50 lbs so I didn't want to get a huge canner. I was really excited when it arrived it fits perfect! I will not be dragging across the glass either, and was advised to only have the one pot on the stove at a time. Best be careful! Looking forward to canning meat, beans, soups and veggies! Will post more of that over time. 

Veggie Garden Growing!
After all the crazy weather we finally got our vegetable garden planted and cleared off our deck! There were so many pots and plants on the deck for so many weeks I couldn't even see what the deck look like underneath it all! 4th of July weekend we made a push on Sunday and Dave and I laid out all the veggies and strawberries. He planted all of that while I was able to plant up all the herbs, flowers and some of the perennials. I can finally see my deck again! 

Sorry about that thumb

We have a really nice mix of vegetables this year and we're very fortunate found some really good deals. With my job change and other craziness I was never able to start any seeds in our grow light plant rack. We have planted several kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of cucumbers, collard greens, curly kale , three or four kinds of peppers, some small refrigerator size watermelon, yellow squash, and something else I'm probably forgetting! 

Mound garden this year, gorgeous from all the rain! 

flowers near the veggie gate

lots of veggies! 

New strawberry row, will add more next year

Luna peeking out behind the gate

Lots of thornless blackberries! 

Lavender to harvest, I leave 30% or more for the bees

White lavender

Small watermelon, my 1st!

We mulched everything really well and my herbs really took off in this hot weather! Now we're finally into the part of just watering and keeping an eye on everything. We're finally in the mid-90s and this will probably be the norm for a while. I think the rain is finally over! Need to mulch the strawberries a lot more, taking a beating in the heat! 

My Eton Mess-
I read about a traditional Eton Mess, a British dessert and decided to try it! Jamie Oliver did something pretty similar. Eton Mess is a traditional British summertime dessert of gooey meringue, sweet strawberries and rich cream in a generous sticky mess. Here's what I did- crushed about 3/4 cup fresh strawberries and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries. I used a potato masher, added a few Tbl of sugar and left on the counter to get the juices going. I bought some Trader Joe's meringue cookies (not baking a huge one for two people) then whipped some heavy whipping cream. I used our medium drinking glasses. I started with the slushy juicy berries, then add the cookies (cut in 1/2), then the whipping cream. Keep layering. Last fresh plain berries on top, added a cookie on top. That's it! I loved it!!! 

RIP Rosie-
Rosie was our wonderful Rhode Island Red hen that we had for about almost 10 years. She'd been through her trials and tribulations over the years. Several months ago she started limping really badly and had to use one of her wings on one side to be able to walk. She kept doing pretty well was eating, drinking and hanging out with the rest of the flock. I couldn't really tell what had happened. I did read chickens can have strokes, maybe that was it? I examined her but couldn't figure anything out. Over time she started eating less and less and resting more. I couldn't bring myself to euthanize her because I'd had her for so long. So I kept her comfortable. I made sure she always got treats 2xs a day, water, was clean and would take her from the nesting box at night where she slept, down into the main part of the garden. Depending on the weather would be in, or out, of the coop. She enjoyed being with her pals. Finally last week I could tell she was ready to go. I brought her in, she sat next to me in a nice laundry basket on a big fluffy towel-

It was nice and cool. She only lasted about an hour after I brought her in. She had a really good life, she ate lots of bugs and weeds and laid wonderful eggs. I like to think that she's on the other side now with her chicken friends who preceded her. We'll miss you Rosie! She was a real trooper and the mother/protector of her flock. She had quite the personality! RIP my sweet girl. Last summer with her flock-

Jun 12, 2022

Blogging Blahs/Rain Rain and More... , My Favorite Youtubers

Blogging Blahs/Rain, Rain and More... -
I don't know if it's been the weather, current world news, etc. but I just have had major blahs as far as blogging. I also came down with a non-C virus a week ago +, almost gone. Nothing like being sick in the summer, yuck. I browse around online and I think I've gotten to the point of not really being interested in blogs that show all these fun arts and crafts ideas, etc. On a certain level I think that there are just so many people who are still so asleep. While I appreciate the stress reduction aspect I'd rather spend money on food, fuel and OTC supplies to stash than craft items. But that's me. As I've said before- no downside to being prepared. 

Anyway, on Memorial day it was 45 degrees! Yes 45 degrees.  Heavy cold rains for 3 days, we were supposed to plant the veggie garden that weekend. This weekend it was pretty warm yesterday, so Dave turned the entire vegetable garden. Last fall I told Dave I wanted to expand the veggie garden so we can plant more intensively. I had the idea to cordon off a small portion of the veggie garden area and increase the length of the chicken run in the shade. We expanded the chicken run this spring which works great. I suggested that he create a gate out of the old coop wood door-

We had replaced it with a used glass storm door. He came up with the idea to also have it articulated, so that will fold up for the winter, will get some touch up paint-

Gate attached to coop, then chicken wire to the fence

Gate attached to coop

The hens can get in and out of the coop, then also have the long shade run. We can plant much more intensively now, no worries for the hens digging into the veggies. Once the fall garden is done the idea of the chickens will have full use of the whole area again. We have so many eggs now I have decided to start dehydrating some. I'm ordered some trays for my dehydrator with lips for wet items. More later on that. Will be nice to have more room in the fridge! We woke up to heavy rains again today, Sunday. Dave decided to just go ahead and plant since his work week is crazy. He does the heavy digging as it's a lot easier on my arthritic knees and back. I will plant my smaller flowers and herbs, etc. He was out with wet clay soil today. He planted the 6 tomatoes, 3 peppers, a Bird's Nest pine and a yellow squash. Will plant the strawberries and others in the next week or so. Needs to dry out a bit - 

I wouldn't mind a cool summer, this this is crazy! We're supposed to get almost-record rain today that we would usually get in the entire month of June! What can you do? We'll get some more veggies planted in the next few weeks, will be a late growing season, fingers crossed. Fruit trees are LOADED too, great news!!! 

My Favorite Youtubers-
I thought I'd share some info on vloggers I have followed for quite some time, and have found to have very useful info. Many of them were way ahead of the curve news-wise. I was watching a really great YouTube video last night. This is the channel I don't usually watch, but I heard something about a message from a farmer it peaked my interest. This video really nails it in my opinion, and that's only my opinion, watch through the end-

Points- Some people seem to think that if there is not a shortage in a grocery store now that that will continue. Farmers & ranchers plan out a year + in advance. The farmer that was quoted mentioned when you grow a calf to an adult for beef it takes about 18 months. So if you like beef you may be able to find in the store now, that's last year's production. Many didn't breed for this year, too expensive with feed prices. Many are cutting their herd size. I have heard this from many other sources as well. Buy now if you can. I also like these guys, pretty a-political and informative-  Canadian Prepper  Alaska Prepper  City Prepping and my fave female blogger Appalachia's Homestead with Patara, she is pretty blunt, so skip if you don't like that! I LOVE her!  Great vlogger for food preps, a food scientist Rose Red Homestead. For a really FASCINATING vlog with old world preserving and more watch Country Life Vlog, located in Azerbaijan I love this new post! Very relaxing!!! Really a gorgeous property-

May 15, 2022

Independence Days Challenge


Independence Days Challenge-
Here's a look at some of the things that we have been up to. With our crazy weather we've had to put some plantings on hold but are getting started. I had a nice Mother's Day with two of my girls. One's living in Oregon now, and she sent me the most touching hand written letter about what my being her Mom meant. So lovely. I got a gift card from one of my other daughters which I always use every Mother's day to buy flowers and herbs locally. It's really nice to have our grandchildren in the area too, got to see them!

New Arbor Vitae

1. Plant Something-
We had to replace one of our Arbor Vitae plants that we planted last year in our mound garden. We found a good deal last weekend but decided to leave it in the garage for protection with the crazy snow weather. I did buy a few herbs for my herb box, some perennials and Nasturtiums. I bought a bird's nest Pine shrub for my herb garden area which looks pretty sad most of the year-

I'll be starting some calendulas from seed. With my job change and everything I just didn't have a chance to start some seedlings inside in our mini indoor greenhouse. The good news is all of the local nurseries seem pretty well stocked so far and the prices seem very reasonable. I will start some vegetables from seed out in the garden soon. Mostly I usually buy tomato starts for the garden, it's ready to plant-

We extended the chicken run this spring, so we can plant the veggies more intensively. It's nice and shady in the summer, once we finish the fall garden we will open the main garden back up to them. I made this decision last fall, after seeing where things were headed. They will be limited to the south part of the garden and the run. During SUPERVISED visits I will let them into the veggie area. This should increase our production by 30 % or thereabouts. 

2. Harvest Something-
Still getting lots of eggs and have been harvesting some of the wintered-over kale and collard greens, mostly to the chickens so far. I bought some more collard greens and we'll tear out the old one since they're really going to seed. Will probably buy, or start, some kale as well and give those old ones to the hens. 

3. Preserve/Store Something-
Been buying random things to freeze and put in the pantry closet. I got some two-for-one ice cream yesterday and had a coupon for another one's so into the freezer it went. While I have to take it easy with dairy I can have a little ice cream once in awhile and doesn't seem to bother my stomach. I'm keeping up with having lots of flour stored as well as wheat berries. I had bought some Bob's Red Mill flour which comes in kind of a heavy plastic bag. After seeing some things about food storage I decided it would be best to actually put it in a vacuum sealed bag just to make sure it was absolutely airtight. Into the freezer it went. I don't freeze all my extra flour, I do have some in food grade storage totes. I was able to buy a couple of 2 gallon food storage totes yesterday with lids. I move some of my vacuum-sealed flour into those so they can be stacked.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep-
I found a great deal on butter today so I bought two extra pounds to freeze, spray oil for baking, Dutch cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. We bought extra cat food for Bonnie, crackers and salad dressings. Just filling in all the reserves. I've been seeing a lot more caning supplies in the stores!!! Good news for us who can our own foods! Bought tow new sets of sheets, our were shot. I got some nice percale ones on sale, queen size $25.00, score! Got a nice LL Bean blouse on eBay cheap, like new. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe-
About every two or three weeks I hard boil a dozen eggs and work on them through the week for lunches. Sometimes they eat them playing with salt or make deviled eggs with spicy brown mustard. Yummy! I roasted some chicken from the freezer and we had a Greek chicken salad, with feta cheese, greens, Kalamata olives and some Kalamata olive bread. I thought out some huge country style spare ribs and will make those tonight for dinner barbecued.

 6. Build Community Food Systems-
We're going to the farmers market soon,  they should have some spring veggies in although the weather has been crazy. I heard the diesel prices are going to get really awful, also in a short supply in some areas of the country. Please support your local farmers and ranchers! It's going to be a tough year for them. Ditto feed prices. 

Bonnie photo bombed!

7. Recycle/Re-Use-
I wanted to spruce up my kitchen computer chair. I stumbled onto these covers for desk chairs on Amazon. It's a nice fabric lots of designs, and you just pull the two pieces onto your chair and viola! $10.00. I decided to go with the blue for a pop of color since I have some blue accents in the kitchen. At some point (before we bought the house 16 years ago) someone put a desk in the dining room and we actually really like it there. We thought about it moving the computer area to the spare bedroom but I like that it is centrally located. I'm hoping to replace the desk with a slab of butcher block for something different and do some different storage underneath. I decided to sell my bicycle that I hadn't ridden for a few years on Craigslist possibly. It's in really good shape but it's just not comfortable for my back. I donated some clothes and got rid of old office stuff we didn't need. 

8. Skill Up-
Learning lots of new software at my new job. Also learning more about the types of procedures we do and what they entail. Everybody's been really helpful at work so far. It's a nice relaxed environment so far! Great change for me. 

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something-
A lot of people who work in cubicles (like I do now)  personalize them. I'm lucky that mine is V shaped and pretty open-

I was looking for something fun to do under my big metal overhead cabinet and found this cubicle re-do on Pinterest, loved it, check out the photos on the link! 

I wanted to bring nature in and decided to go with the white shiplap look after seeing that re-do. I can swap out some seasonal things as needed. I started with some white shiplap contact type sticky paper (removable)-

will rotate so the lines go horizontally

I then bought this-

Fun, 7" wide from Amazon $7.00

I saw a poster I really liked, took the idea and made my version, in a Word doc-

I'm going to do a color print and hang in my cubicle! I already have some other farm style things, so I'm spending very little on this. I may have Dave make something fun out of scrap wood. I already have this- 

Here' my idea so far-

I will post photos once I'm done. I think the white with rusty silver and green plants will pop, and then can rotate in some seasonal fun things too. May add a plant on top of the storage cabinet?

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