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All posts in January, 2014

Finally, we got the deed in the mail. Yes, it has been over two months since the closing date. I emailed the attorney’s office on Tuesday because I was getting a bit concerned. It seemed to me that we should have had that deed in hand certainly within a month of closing on the property!

I wasn’t at all surprised when, after a bit of investigating, she discovered that our deed was in the mail ready to go out that very day! People in all professions need a reminder/prod now and then.

Anyway, now that we have paper saying that the property is, indeed, ours, I feel safer in scheduling the driveway, septic system, etc. to be done when the weather permits it–in Maine, I believe that we’re looking at the end of April or beginning of May. We plan to arrive somewhere in that time frame, as well, in order to begin building fences and animal shelters and our starter house. It seems so far away, yet so short at the same time.

Right now, Craigs List in our area has buiding materials for a 20×20 structure available at a REALLY good price. If only we had some way to transport and store it now!

 

 

A friend posted this on Facebook and it sounded so good that I had to post it here so I can find it when I need it!  This is something that would be good to prepare in the Fall so that it’s ready come wintertime. This is supposed to be good for fighting sinus infections and stimulates digestion.

Rosemary’s Fire Cider Cold & Flu Remedy

 

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to give the recipe here as well:

  • 1 part each chopped garlic, onion, and horseradish
  • 1/2 part chopped ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne per quart
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Raw local honey

Put the chopped stuff in a mason jar, fill with vinegar, add cayenne and shake.  Allow to sit at least 4 weeks, then strain and add honey to taste.

 

 

 

I thought I’d posted this already, but it seems that I didn’t! I measured by volume, and they turned out so nice! Even without essential oils, they have a very nice, mild fragrance of their own and boy are they moisturizing!

Lotion Bars:

3 parts each:

  • Coconut oil
  • Beeswax

1 part each:

  • Cocoa butter
  • Shea butter
  • Mango butter
  • Apricot kernel oil

Vitamin E: 1 teaspoon per 3 cups mixture

Optional: essential oils (I didn’t use any)

Melt all together in double boiler or mason jar placed in water and heated to BELOW simmering. Stir occasionally until fully melted. Hold on low heat for 20 minutes to temper the cocoa butter for a silkier finished product. Pour into molds and let harden at room temperature. This will be solid at winter room temperature, but will melt in warmer temperatures. Increase wax proportion for a product with higher melting point, if desired.

Lip Balm:

Same as above, but with 1/6 part more beeswax

 

 

I made one more small step towards self-sufficiency today. I made honey horehound drops … sort of … You see, I like Ricola cough drops. They work well and I’ve been buying them for probably 20 years, now. But they’re expensive, and I don’t really understand what “starch syrup” is, and it seems like that’s probably the base, along with sugar. So I followed the directions at the Frugally Sustainable blog, and of course played free and loose with it as I do with most recipes. Yes, folks, that is a heaping cereal bowl full of honey horehound lozenges!

honeyhorehound

First, I used about 3/4 cups of horehound and added a teaspoon or so of eucalyptus leaves, a teaspoon or so of thyme, approximately 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, and filled up the measuring cup with mullein. Then at the end, this stuff cooled off a LOT faster than I thought it would. I could only do around 20 lozenges before it hardened too much–so into the oven at 175f it went for 4 minutes. I had to repeat the process several times. I tossed them in sugar at the end in order to keep them from sticking to one another. I did use raw local honey in this recipe, even though the beneficial enzymes would be killed, because that’s the only way I know of to know that I actually have honey, not corn syrup and God knows what all.

Next time, I’ll play with the herbs some more! I’ll keep 1/2 cup horehound and 1/4 cup mullein, and add more eucalyptus along with some ginger, sage, mint, thyme, and lemon balm. Hurray for playing in the kitchen!

I’ve updated this so I can find it to remind myself of the changes I want to make next time. I hope that you find it helpful, too!

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful,
 and since we’ve no place to go,
 let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

A whole lot of the country might just as well be singing this old song, since it seems to be happening, anyway. Yes, it IS winter, but my goodness! The COLD dipping down from the North Pole is ferocious! Here in northern West Virginia it’s not so bad, but it IS snowing, and we WILL be going below zero Fahrenheit tonight, which is a rarity. I’ve lived here for 14 years now, and I don’t recall it going below +10, though it may have once or twice.

When we move to Maine, I know that it’ll be more like the climate I grew up with in Minnesota. When I was a child, winter really was a wonderland playground. Making snow men and snow angels, walking on top of the crusted snow, sledding, ice skating, tunnelling through the deep drifts and never really noticing the cold was amazing! School closed for 3 days during the typical winter, due to blizzards causing such drifts that plows couldn’t keep up and the school bus couldn’t get through. As a young adult, I remember the winter of 1977-1978, when the temperature didn’t rise above zero for a full month in a row. I was working the night shift at a nursing home at the time, and I’d go out to start my car and let it warm up a bit twice during the night, to be sure it would start when my shift was over. I definitely felt the cold that winter! And people wonder why I moved away from Minnesota … and why I’m now looking at moving to Maine!

Eric and I are wondering just what we’ll need to do to keep our critters safe in the colder temperatures of Maine winters. I understand that cows can handle it pretty well, so long as they have shelter from the wind and plenty of good hay to stoke the rumen/furnace that they carry around with them. Chickens are so much smaller, and without a rumen, that they’ll definitely need more shelter than that, but they will always have more shelter at night, anyway. Deep bedding that’s doing its composting thing, in a chicken house, should be good enough for them. It was in Kansas, and we had some pretty good winters while I was there. Most important is making sure that everyone has liquid water available. Thank God for electric heaters!

I was born and raised in Minnesota. It wasn’t exactly a hotbed of biscuits & gravy. I never even tasted of biscuits & gravy until I was nearly 30 years old! When I was little, Bisquick drop biscuits were a special treat, served with a roast.

Over the years since then, I’ve used LOTS of different recipes and methods for making biscuits, ranging from Bisquick to Beaten. I’ve cut in vegetable shortening, storebought and home-rendered lard, and butter (and have also stirred melted butter into the milk). I’ve used sweet milk, cream, and buttermilk. I’ve done them with egg and without, with yeast and without. I’ve tried all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, and whole wheat flour. I think I’ve finally landed on MY recipe for biscuits! Maybe it’ll work for you, as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c all purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T salted butter
  • 2 T home rendered lard
  • 1 c cultured buttermilk
  • 2 T melted butter

Stir together all of the dry ingredients.  Cut in the butter and lard–they don’t have to be cold, but you don’t want them mushy, either. It should look pretty much like cornmeal, but some larger lumps left is fine. Stir in buttermilk to make a sticky, soft dough. Turn out onto a small pile of flour on your table, and knead about 25 times, until dough is smooth. Pat or roll out to under 1/2″ thickness. Fold over and pat or roll again, then do it one more time. Cut with biscuit cutter, the top of a glass, an opened can, or into squares using a knife or pizza cutter.

Put melted butter into your pan. Dip the top of each biscuit into the butter, then flip over. Set them so they’re touching if you want soft sides, or a bit apart if you’d prefer the edges to be crisp. Let the biscuits sit while you preheat the oven to 450f and bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

I’ve tried kefir. I’ve tried kombucha. Eric won’t consume either one, and to tell you the truth, neither was really turning out right for me. Even if it was, I simply won’t go to the trouble of dealing with either for any period of time if it’s just for me. We NEED probiotics from SOMEWHERE, and it’s pretty clear that food is a better source than pills are–and cheaper! So …

I’m moving on from liquids to fermenting solid foods. Actually, I made pickled green beans last summer and they were okay. I made pickled garlic from the recipe here last Fall and they came out pretty good, so I got another batch going a month ago and added the honey on New Year’s Day–it’ll be ready in 3-4 weeks! Since both are made with ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar), I’m not sure if they count as being fermented or not. Probably not. Today, I’m starting some naturally fermented sauerkraut with no added culture. Eric likes sauerkraut, so here’s hoping it comes out well!

I’m starting with the very simplest kraut–plain old green cabbage that I shredded, salted (I use Celtic Sea Salt exclusively) and mooshed/bruised, stuffed in a jar and left alone for a week or more with daily burping. I was shocked at how much cabbage fits in a jar!!!  I used the fine shredder/food processor attachment on my Bosch Compact Mixer to cut the cabbage, so it’d be nice and fine–if I did it by hand, it would be coarser … which would be okay, but I wanted it fine.  Anyway, I started with just under 1/2 of the head, salted and mooshed & crushed with my hands and stuffed in the jar … and that wasn’t nearly enough.  I added another quarter, and my 1-1/2 pint wide mouth jar STILL wasn’t nearly full! So, I shredded up the rest of it and wound up filling the jar with just enough leftover to fill a little jar that once held maraschino cherries.  What a cute little jar of sauerkraut that will be! Hahahaha!

DSCN0096

I stuffed the jars real tight by pushing down with my hand.  You’ll be amazed at the amount of liquid that comes out of that cabbage, pretty quickly! There’s definitely enough to keep the kraut well covered in liquid.  I also tucked a piece of cabbage leaf over the top of it all, tucking the edges down, to hold everything under and away from the air. I’ll leave the jars on the counter in order to remind me to burp them at least once daily, then start checking for flavor in a week.

I’ll let you know how it comes out!

This is one that I wrote several months ago and didn’t post.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Maybe this is the right time for it, now.  For someone …

I haven’t been writing lately because my back has been out and sapping my energy and making me feel just plain yuck. My life experience has taught me that nothing “bad” happens without something “good” coming out of it, and that quite often … usually … pretty much always, in fact, there’s been an important life lesson in that “bad” stuff for me to carry along and grow with. In this case, it’s actually two intertwined lessons involving some new insight, plus another lesson, as well.  Let’s see if I can effectively share a bit of what I’ve been gaining. Maybe you’ll find something useful for yourself here. I hope so.

First: I am a human being, not a human doing. This is not a new lesson, by any means, but I guess I hadn’t fully integrated it, since the lesson is being repeated. My value is in who and what I am. What I do is, at best, an honest and congruent reflection or outpouring of my being. To be honest, that doesn’t always make me proud. Who I want to be, and who I like to think I am, are not always shown through my words and actions. Who I truly am is what comes through instead. Sometimes, I lie to myself and to others in my attempt to become who I wish to be … and my attempt to appear to be what I am not … yet. “Fake it ’til you make it” can be a helpful growth strategy, but being honest about it, at least with myself, is important. Despite that, as hard as it is for me to believe and fully embrace, comes the second lesson.

Second: I am worthy … being able to ask for help is important. Again, this is an old lesson being repeated or boostered or something. My growing up years told me that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t do anything well enough, and never would or could. I have so often felt like a waste of space … and I have worked on that with self-affirmation and prayer and trying so hard to DO better in order to BECOME worthwhile to God and to human beings. It keeps on coming back. It has fed depression and hopelessness and helplessness. And it is a lie. God doesn’t make junk. Everyone has purpose and value. Every person is unique and special and beloved. Even me. Asking for help is a proof that I’m integrating this lesson–maybe a test of my learning? I’m practicing.

Third: I cannot give what I do not have.

Offering love and healing if I’m not actually accepting such fully first is harmful to me and not helpful for others.

God, you know that we need $1000 by the end of this month and you know all that has caused us to be in this situation. You know when the funds will arrive that will allow us to buy the farm and animals that you have waiting for us, you know where they are and will lead us to them at the right time. While I am beyond weary with “one more month” from humans, I know that somehow, you will provide as we need, at the right time, whenever that is. I give you thanks and praise each day in all things, that all may work according to your will and in your love, not only in my life but in all. In the name of Yeshua aka Jesus and the power of Your spirit abiding in me, I pray. Amen.

We did, in fact, have what we needed, when we needed it. We’re still waiting to move to the land and build the farm, but it’s coming! I’m still a bit weary of waiting, but it will happen.

Love to all,

Deborah

Hello, my friends!  Welcome to the celebration of our new website!

Some of you have seen my website before, but it has changed!  I’ve moved it over to our own domain rather than keeping it on the WordPress site.  One reason for that is professionalism.  People are more apt to trust a company with its own domain than one that’s hosted on a free server–even if it’s a farm.  Another reason is that we hope to generate even a small income from the affiliate links.  After all, the farm won’t be generating income all that quickly, and we need to eat–and so will the critters.  I may also be selling stuff like bottle blankets & lotion bars directly from the website.  Every little bit helps!

I plan to write blog posts far more regularly.  I pray that I have something to say that’s worth reading!

goodstuff

Happy new year to all of you!  I saw this great idea on Facebook, and am actually following through with it–here’s my jar for slips of paper to be slipped in whenever something good happens.  I’m anticipating putting at least one slip in there every day that I wake up, since that’s a good thing–in my opinion, anyway!  Is anyone else doing it?

I figure that this will help both Eric and me to focus on the positive throughout the year.  There’s always something negative happening, in everyone’s lives.  Focusing on the positive will help us to get through, over, under, and around the obstacles while maintaining what sanity we have.  We are blessed every single day.  Let’s see how many of those blessings we can see well enough to write down so that we can relive them at the end of the year!