We've been researching articles for this blog, and are working and preparing the best postings we can possibly provide. Especially that series that we started this week: What You Need. Meanwhile, what would you like to see discussed here?
One of the biggest priorities in anyone's life is food. Whether you raise it from an egg or baby cow, or grow it in a garden, or watch a tree grow from an apple seed, you need food.
This blog (http://www.backyardgrocerygardening.blogspot.com/) will help you create a grocery in your yard. How to plant fruit and nut trees. How to plant and care for berry brambles.
Later, we'll discuss in this blog how to raise and care for poultry and livestock.
As to preserving and cooking your harvests, check out http://www.survival-cooking.com/.
Here's just a little something to take note of: we modern people are sooo spoiled. Yes, me too. I love McDonald's and Subway. When I don't feel like cooking, or eating something left over from the night before, we tend to take out or get something delivered. We like variety. Most times we don't even eat the same cereal twice in one week.
Used to be... people didn't have that kind of choice. They grew (or bought) one or two kinds of grain, and didn't have a lot of ingredients to alter the final product. Pioneers (the ultimate homesteaders) might only have cornmeal for months at a time. How many different ways can you make corncakes when you just have cornmeal, salt and a little course maple sugar? Maybe a little milk and butter if you have a cow. Maybe a little lard or salt pork if you raised a pig.
Fruits were usually gathered wild: blackberries and apples... whatever grew nearby. Berries were dried in the sun. Apples were cored and sliced into rings, then hung to dry.
Vegetables? They didn't have the huge variety we have now, not if they lived away from a town. They usually grew corn (for horses and humans), and sometimes oats (horses mainly). Potatoes, carrots, turnips, and a pumpkin and/or hubbard squash rounded out the vegetables. They needed to grow what they could store to last through the Winter, and that didn't include greens or cucumbers.
Glass canning jars that were reusable weren't invented until 1858. So the food they harvested, they knew other ways to preserve it: Meat was salted and smoked, and hung from the attic's rafters, along with braids of onions and garlic. Fish were salted and kept in brine in barrels in the pantry. Sausage balls were kept "frozen" in the shed (pigs were butchered and sausage balls made after the deep freeze of winter started). Vegetables were stored in root cellars (hence the name).
A winter evening meal might consist of a corncake (cornmeal, water and salt), and a half a hubbard squash or stewed pumpkin. Possibly a prairie chicken or rabbit, or salt-pork if the hunting was bad. If there was any dessert, it might have been stewed blackberries with cream. The kids drank either water or milk, and adults drank coffee and tea (sparingly).
Geez. I look in my pantry and refrigerator, and see a wealth of choices. We are lucky, here in America, in the 21st century. Would I be able to feel satisfied eating the above meal? No. Not night after night after night.
So I better prepare. And if you can't tolerate the same meal over and over either, you need to prepare too.
Consider planting these (space permitting):
- Staples (corn, oats, wheat, and other grains)
- Seasonings (onion, garlic, parsley, chives, basil, dill, etc.)
- Protein (beans, sunflowers, peanuts, soybeans, etc.)
- Nut trees (filbert, almond, pecan, walnut, butternut, hickory, etc)
- Fruit trees (apple, pear, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, etc.)
- Fruit bushes (elderberry, blackberry, cherry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, etc.)
- Fruit plants (strawberry, melons, etc.)
- Winter Veggies (pumpkin, spaghetti/acorn/hubard/cushaw/butternut... squashes, carrots, white potatoes, turnips, cabbage, etc.)
- Other Veggies (greens, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, okra, peppers (bell and hot), summer squashes, radishes, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.)
- Perennials (artichokes, asparagus, rhubarb, etc.)
- Other (cotton, flax)
We'll discuss cotton, flax and medicinal-type herbs in another posting, as well as animals you could raise.
"Luxuries" or extras would include:
- Medical (including holistic methods)
- Safety and personal security
- Financial security
- Education of your children
- Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Homesteading, when done full-tilt, is not for people who like to sleep in late or who get drunk all the time. Running a tractor when you partied all night isn't safe or smart.
- Social and network and friendship. Humans need belonging and acceptance. Meet your neighbors and get to know them. Find peers that share the same interests.
- Don't ignore the need for intimacy.
- We all need to be respected, which in turn, gives us self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Keep your needs, and those of your family, in the forefront. What do you want? What do you need? How can you reach your potential and self-actualization?
So ... a previous posting on this blog asked you to make your plan. Did you? What about your list of priorities? So... are you ready?
Here we go!
Are you a homesteader? Do you wanna be one? Okay... first things first!
- Determine why you want to be a homesteader: More healthy food? Preparations for hard times? Do you want to be an urban homesteader, living in the city or a town, close to your job? Do you want to be like in this picture, out in the boonies, with the shifting grain and lowing cows for company? How much can you really do? Do you have the energy or inclination to gather eggs daily, butcher your pet chicken or goat, till an acre of ground to plant wheat?
- Make a detailed plan with a timeline.
- Determine a budget
- Find the land
- Check the building and livestock codes/laws for that land. How many chickens, cows, horses, etc. are you allowed per acre? Are bees allowed?
- Buy the property and move onto it
- Buy and plant fruit and nut trees because they take so long to produce.
- Prepare homes for livestock (chicken coop, barn for cows/goats/sheep/alpaca, etc.), then acquire livestock
- Prepare land for garden, then plant
- Teach yourself many skills, including canning, butchering, beekeeping, shearing, weaving, farming, animal husbandry...
- and so on and so on
This blog will go into much more detail about all of these steps. In addition, you'll find canning information at http://www.survival-cooking.com/ and gardening info at http://www.backyardgrocerygardening.blogspot.com/.