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Everything posted by Donit

  1. i am interested also but don't know how this works. What is a shoutbox??
  2. Yes, Thanks!!!! I have learned a lot about this part of canning in the last couple of weeks from different threads past and present here on Mrs. S. I learned canning as a small child with my mom and grandmother, but never updated my information about safe canning practices after leaving home. I am one of the people who have been doing very unsafe things.....for a long time. The worst thing I have done is the way I have disposed of food and jars with spoiled low-acid food in them.....just never knew. I now see that this is not a reason to continue, just to be thankful that nothing bad happened. Thanks so much to everyone who gave info and links....and for your patience with those of us who are here to learn...especially with those of us who think we already know. Wishing safe canning seasons to everyone.
  3. I am very familiar with that kind of crazy!!! I am happy to inform you that it requires no medications!!!!! (only more canning jars....and shelf space....and eventually a room all it's own ((not to mention a barn)). But hey, it's a not to missed experience when your room is full and you get to take a nap!!!! Sweeeeet sleep. My husband was stunned to see me buy NEW jars last week. I don't believe that has ever happened before and I'm not done..... It is always so refreshing to know that others share the obsession... um... hobby.... um .....past-time???? Values. Good old-fashioned ones. It is great to be this kind of crazy.
  4. Yeah Bluebird!!!! Double value. More healthy and additional money for preps. Way to go!!
  5. After a very busy weekend, I now have 3 bushels of beans, 1 bushel of tiny cukes, 50# of tomatoes, 4 bushels of pears, 3 bushels of peaches and 3 bushels of beets to can. Not to mention the 120 tomato plants that still need picked...or the animals I still have to butcher.....I am tired to the point I unintentionally have developed my own mantra....Thank you God. I'll be so glad I did this.....Thank you, God. I'll be so glad I did this......Thank you God. I'll be so glad I did this..... I did get all the onions finally braided and that cleared out a stall in the barn so that was a good thing....one step at a time and feed whatever doesn't make it to the pigs!!!!!! Thank God for my pigs. Thank God I didn't give myself or anyone else botulism with my unsafe canning practices. Many, many thank yous for many blessings for my tired hands and heart. My pink rocker, spinning wheel and knitting needles have taken to calling me in my waking and sleeping hours but I can't seem to get there. I really want to knit a sweater for my little angel before it isn't needed anymore. Sometimes prioritizing is really hard.
  6. The one of the biggest preps happening for me in the last few weeks has been an informational/mental one. I discovered, thanks to the lovely people at Mrs. S, that I have been doing some things that are actually horribly unsafe with regard to canning. I never even knew how bad this was (especially the part about how careful one must be with regard to disposing of low-acid food gone bad) . Thank God I didn't kill anybody, because it most likely would have been myself. I also am looking into some of the "food storage alternatives", most of which I practice, but also some I had never even heard of. I am so glad I found you all, and even more glad I came out of the closet to post. I have been a big fish in a small pond for a long time, being the only person I knew (aside from those I have taught over the years) doing a lot of the things I love to do and practice as part of our lifestyle. I finally found some bigger fish than me!!!!!!! In addition, my husband made it over a major milestone yesterday. He is now fully capable of logging into his work online. This was a very complicated task. This is huge for us, as we live rurally and he has a long commute to work in a very inhospitable Winter climate....not to mention if we happen to get some bad flu! This has greatly decreased my stress level with regard to this Winter, just knowing that he can work and be home to help me if I or the children get sick. This is especially true because if our child in hospice gets flu they will be singing with the angels. I am very, very grateful this all came together at this time. I also met a few of our "neighbors" because we have had two pitbull incidents in the last week, one with four dogs on the road by our house and one with dogs in our yard chasing animals. Thankfully, no one was hurt. A hue and a cry was raised and the people living out here are raising a ruckus in their own quiet way (involving loaded guns in cars, behind front doors and quiet restructuring of possibilities for the owner of said animals). We have lived here a long time and this is the very first time I have really felt a part of this community. People have been beyond gracious and supportive. I have always loved our place here in microcosm, our little farm. Now I have very suddenly fallen in love with several of my neighbors, some of whom I may live another 10 years here without seeing or speaking with because people are private out here. That said, I have learned a lot about who will show up when the chips are down and that is a HUGE, HUGE, UNSPEAKABLY HUGE PREP. Out of this, there has been born an an e-mail list starting up for people in the area so that we can rapidly communicate with one another with regard to any POTENTIAL DANGERS and information regarding POTENTIAL COORDINATED RESPONSES. The value of this speaks for itself. This was an incredibly scary situation, but a tremendous amount of good has come out of it for our community.
  7. I really appreciate this thread. There is a lot of hard work and sacrifice that goes into becoming self-sufficient. We have made a lot of counter cultural choices along the way. Last Winter we did something that we didn't talk too much about because not a whole lot of people we know do these kind of things. We let our long driveway snow shut so that we didn't have to worry about anyone showing up with an opinion. We basically lived in one room of our house all Winter, until warm-up in the Spring. Doing this allowed us to get by in our very cold climate with a moderate amount of wood for the woodburner. We did not buy ANY fuel oil. I estimate we saved approximately $5,000 and this even though the year before our heat was set to 52 degrees day or night. We did this with four children and we actually had fun. My husband worked in town, but the rest of us couldn't leave because the house would freeze before we could get to town and back. We are planning to use the fuel oil furnace this Winter for a back-up heat source so we can actually go if we NEED to. That said, we will be living in one room again in an effort to save money up for another project. And yes.....the driveway will be allowed to snow shut again!!!!! Also, we are trying to save money for taxes. My great-grandparents lost their farm during the depression. It had already been totally paid for, but they couldn't raise the money to pay their TAXES!!!!!! The dog food and laundry soap ideas are great. I have pulled a lot of all-nighters doing stuff that needs to be done to try to be in a better position with preps for this Winter. At the end of every day I have a moment where I stop to appreciate that we were given another day to take another step forward. With each day that passes, I feel a little better because ever so slowly we are moving closer to our goals. It is encouraging to me to simply know that we are not the only family working this hard and valuing the fruits of our labors.
  8. Well, it is 3 o'clock in the morning and I still have one pressure cooker full of green beans left to cook. I have done tomatoes and beans today (yesterday) and will be starting pickles after church. When I get those done I will start in on salsa... I hope to be done canning/freezing and dehydrating fruit/veggies within three weeks. Then I'm going to have to start butchering animals and canning meat and broth. I am going to have to buy more jars. My fingers are itching to pick up my knitting needles. I'm also getting the "lets burn the woodstove feeling" that always comes in the Fall.
  9. I make ricotta before doing anything else. Whey also makes a pretty good lemonade substitute when mixed with lemon juice and a little sweetener. Then I feed it to my various critters.
  10. I just am trying this to see if I did it right. This was very fun, Cat. I was wondering about this avatar business. I love the one I chose.
  11. That is a good point, Cowgirl. It is true you can't expect the neighbor to help rebuild the fence when you arrive, but here where we live it IS expected that if the neighbor asks YOU (as the newbie to the area), you had better be ready to pony up for the fence! It is also just Good-Old-Boy enough around here that you don't want to fail in this area of "neighborliness". It is sort of a test, which we found out by our own experience. The fence we shared couldn't keep either of our sets of animals in or out!!! I guess the real issue is just to know what the established expectations are regarding fencing in the area you are considering, because they are different in different places. Whether you are in ranch country or farm country, fences are always important. Another thing too...Cowgirl's point about hunting is excellent. When you do buy, it is a good idea (in my opinion) to post no hunting/no trespassing signs immediately. This keeps all neighbors, people who have had past hunting permission, etc. from taking it personally when you do post. It is often no fun to move into a new rural community and change the way your land has been "managed" in the past. I think it is better to have communicated "No trespassing" before anyone has the chance to take it personally.
  12. Okay, so I just read Darlene's pinned forum at the top and got the picture. I did have a conference call last night with my mom and very elderly grandmother and got to ask a bunch of questions so that was really good for me. I was wrong about some things. I have a couple of questions, but I will post them in the Edge. A lot of times Amish stores have the half gallon jars, both wide and small mouth. Thanks for the info everyone.
  13. Well...I'm glad I read this thread again. I did not know they were only recommended for fruit juices. My grandmother did kind of live on the edge and she taught me... I haven't used them for anything but apple cider for a long, long time. Thanks for the correction. I would hate to pass on bad info.
  14. If for some reason your potential property has farm-style gas tanks, make sure you know what the state/county laws are governing clean-up. Sometimes you can get stuck with a large clean-up bill in order to get financing or finalize if it is not part of the sale agreement for the SELLER to pay for this. The same is true for anyplace on the land that was ever used as a "dump". If you are going to have animals, walk every fence and know exactly what you are getting because fencing is expensive. Hog fencing won't keep in cows or horses very long. When we bought our place the fencing would not have kept in a geriatric cow. We knew that going in and were okay with that, but that would be a nasty surprise because fencing gets expensive fast. Check any outbuildings to see if they can be readily secured, meaning closed and locked at every door/window. This also applies to the house...... If the fences are in poor condition, realize that in many rural areas you will be responsible for half the replacement cost of any fenceline shared with a neighbor when it comes time to replace them (meaning your neighbor asks you to). Make sure that you know where the flood plains are in the area and that your house is NOT IN A FLOOD PLAIN NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!!!! Also, I like a house that sits far off the road and yet has a clear range of vision for quite a distance. It helps to see who is coming and be able to respond BEFORE they arrive at your door, especially if the visitors are not friendly. Woods that extend right up to the house are a negative in my book. Also true of crop lands that may rotate into field corn. Many people prefer to keep horses and cows separate so the horses don't drive the cows THROUGH the fence. More than one pasture or pen is a good idea. Also, make sure there is a decent turn-around for a large truck with trailer if you will be moving animals.
  15. Freon (spelling?) is the chemical and I don't know how to take that out. The one I saw had had all the Freon leak out before it was used for a cellar. I may be wrong about this but I thought that Freon was a gas, not a liquid. Air vents are used in larger root cellars as a control mechanism for temperature and also humidity. A freezer/fridge "cellar" probably won't be helped much by one because it is too near the surface of the ground. I left a couple of details out of my hiding the cellar idea. First of all, the design is basically two upside down Us or something very like a square m. The compost pile is two pallets wide across the back with a T-post driven in at the corners and in between the two. Two pallets are set at 90 degrees to form the sides and one "swings" from the T-post set between the two pallets in back to form the middle of the M. Also, you have to line up the break between the fridge door and the freezer door on top with the middle pallet. Then you can move the middle pallet slightly to one side or the other in order to access both sides of the "cellar". I hope this makes sense now.
  16. Donit, having been a lurker for so long, tiptoes in the front door with a farmer's market bin full of 12 pies, which she promptly sits on and enjoys watching everyone else get messy, knowing that there will be plenty to eat later!!!
  17. I know there is a pie called "bumbleberry pie". I don't have a recipe myself but I know it has apples, rhubarb, blackberries and a couple other things.
  18. My best tip is to put the fridge into the side of a hill or on a slight incline with the door hinge on the uphill side. If you cover the door with a large heap of straw, it makes it pretty easy to get in and out without a lot of disruption. However, the practicality of this working depends on the temperature where you are. If your climate is too cold, this idea won't work because your frost line is deeper than the freezer/fridge. The fridge will rust in proportion to the water retention of your soil. The wetter your soil stays, the quicker the fridge will rust out. Also, fridges with a separate freezer work well because you can store apples on one side. Apples ripen everything else exposed to them in a root cellar setting, particularly in limited space. If you have two compartments you can use one for apples and the gas from the apples won't affect your other stored crops. Also, if you want to HIDE your "root cellar" you can bury them in a dirt-floor basement or hide them under "compost piles" made from pallets with nothing but straw or leaves in them. Dig your "root cellar" at night and 99%+ of people won't know any better. Attach a square piece of landscape cloth (which is black) to the BOTTOM of the pallets on the front and back edges. Attach the back and sides (3 pallets) in a U-shape by attaching to two T-posts planted at the back of the compost piles, with bottom of the poles extending down into the dirt on the far away side of the "root cellar". Leave the front pallet free by tying in place on both sides with a baling twine. Put the straw or leaves, anything light-weight, into the "compost pile". When you want into your "root cellar" you simply remove the baling twine (or whatever), lift the front of the "compost pile" (which elevates the front pallet, the landscape cloth and everything inside the compost pile (so don't put too much in the compost pile)) and fold it back over the middle. This keeps the cloth taut so no (or little) "compost" falls down under the landscape cloth and forms a sort of lid. With the hinge of the fridge planted on the away from you side, towards the back of the "root cellar", it is easy to lift the outer "lid". Then you can lift the inner lid and get to your food. A short piece of 2x4 can be used as a prop for the outer "lid". Donit Working towards a world with a root cellar for every home and a harvest to put in it
  19. We came home from church yesterday to find unripe watermelons smashed in the road less than 1/2 mile from our driveway (there is one neighbor between us and the smashing site). We are the only people we know in this area growing watermelons. I am not sure they were a variety we are growing (we are growing four heirlooms). I am going back today to check them out and see. My almost teenage son promptly went out, picked all the ripe ones and shut them up in a shed where no one could get to them (they are his babies). This is something I have been worried about for a long time and it has at the very least come home to visit someone very near us, if those watermelons weren't ours. This is very, very sobering. It means that someone knew we would be gone to church (we don't get out much otherwise), and KNEW WHAT WE HAD. No one would have casually known they were there because they are HIDDEN!!!! We were missing many, many dozens of ears of sweet corn too, but that was at least in part those pesky masked banditos. People, we had better take seriously the safety of our gardens, livestock and all food assets. I was worried it would come to this and it HAS. Things aren't even that bad where we are and people are trespassing and stealing food from one another in RURAL AGRICULTURAL communities. This has lit a fire under my seat to get all outbuildings to the point we can LOCK and SECURE every building and every animal every night. This is NOT how we have lived in the past but it will be our future. I hate it that it has come to this but it really has.
  20. Welcome Mommaplus!!! I'll be looking forward to hearing from you. All our closest friends have large numbers of children and I have learned so much from each family. Thanks for coming to the table!!! Donit
  21. So last night we just found out that a close extended family member has had MRSA infected lesions in their nose for the last two years off and on(since an extended stay in the hospital for near-fatal pneumonia). The lesions would come and go and we all thought they were cold sores. Apparently NOT!!!!! I don't know very much about this, so I need to figure out what this means for us. What does anyone know about this?
  22. Half gallon jars can be used to can anything you can in smaller jars. Questions regarding how long the jars need to be boiled or pressure-cooked can be obtained from your extension office. I have used/seen them used for smoked fish, juices, sauced fruit (apple, apricot, pear, asian pear) to eat or make fruit leather, chickens. It really has more to do with what your family can use in a reasonable period of time. I know big families use them for soups, etc. because they can use them up in a reasonable amount of time. Mostly I put apple cider in mine to keep warm on the woodstove all Winter.
  23. I just woke up from a two hour nap. I had only had 8 hours sleep broken up over the last three days because I have been canning so much. My "little space" is filling up nicely and every jar that lines up on those shelves makes me feel that much better about this Winter for my family. I am canning everything the neighbors have on the ground but aren't going to use (I am making fruit wines this year for the first time because of a wonderful elderly neighbor that taught me how and gave me the fruit to do it!!!!!). I am road-hunting wild things. I am working through one last box of apricots and boxes of apples now for sauce gathered from a friend's tree and I need to send out the deputies to go pick my tomatoes again. I am thankful to have them. We grow our own transplants from seed (over 100 varieties) and so far have not had blight problems, even though we are surrounded with neighbors who have dead, blackened sticks with a few sickly looking tomatoes dangling from them. I am wondering if it is because we grew our own???? Anyone else having this experience??? One neighbor has 700 tomato plants and is not even getting 100 pounds every three days, as she watches the blight move not-so-slowly across her field. I still have geese, ducks, and chickens to butcher and can. I also have some four-footed yet to do, as well as however many deer we all get. I am going to can as much of it as I possibly am able because I want the freezer space for other things. My goal for this year was to go into Winter with every single one of my jars filled. I actually think I may have to go buy more. If that is the case, my husband will probably fall over dead from the shock and awe. At a minimum, he will have to build me some more shelves or give up the floor of the basement . I'm trying to slowly prepare him for the news. I told him earlier this Spring I was going to try and he shook his head and gave me "the look". You know, the one where they are thinking "Why in the world is that particular fantasy helping you now?????" because it is so incredibly much work that no one could really do it.....right?...... Let me say right now that "the joy of the Lord" in the midst of the valley of the shadow is really strong stuff. I definitely know what it means in Heb 11 where it talks about those who "won strength from weakness". God is very good to us in our weakness and He really does give us eagle's wings when we wait upon Him. "God is the strength of my life and my portion forever". I am loving his provision as I do my part to provide for our family.
  24. In 24 hours, 10 boxes of peaches, 1 box of apricots, 4 boxes of tomatoes. Mostly by myself in the wee hours, but did have some help from the "deputies". (don't anybody look in my kitchen)
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