Friday, November 13, 2015
Monday was butchering day. We slaughtered one of the potbelly/kune cross sows. She has not raised a single piglet so it was time. I have the bacons out of the cure,rinsed, and drying now. As soon as they are dry they are going in the smoke house. The hams will be ready to smoke Saturday or Sunday.
We also butchered four of our older doe rabbits. These we boned out to use with the pork trimmings for sausage. Since there is very little fat in the meat of rabbits ,the very fatty meat trimmed on the pork was a perfect mix.
I stuffed the sausage into these meat bags with a canning funnel. Not the fastest job but it works.I get a lot of satisfaction from curing my own hams and bacon as well as sausage making. It saves a lot of money and most importantly we know what we are eating.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
|I like the color variation on these Staghorn Sumac leaves.|
Homesteading, just like most other things, is repetition. Plant, Till, Harvest, Preserve, Plant, Till, Harvest, Preserve. This makes it hard to come up with new things to blog about after a few years! All of which is my excuse for posting so seldom lately. I love learning new stuff or more exactly, learning old ways. A couple of building projects have kept me too busy to do much else lately but we will be butchering some pot belly pigs soon and I'll try to do something on that. Mean while, this will be my 188th post. Many of them are how- to sort of post and ALL of my post are based on stuff I did not just passing on someone else's experience. Have a look around, I'll be back later.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
|Winter buds of Populus balsamifera|
Here is another useful thing that I like to gather in spring. Sphagnum moss. Dry Sphagnum can hold up to 20 times it's weight in water. This makes it a great addition to potting mixes where it will help retain moisture. I also use it as mulch, especially around acid loving plants like blueberries. In early spring none of the other plants have started growing yet so it is easy to gather lots of it. I wring it out like a sponge as I stuff it in a bag so it is lighter to carry. I lay it out on screens in the greenhouse for a few days to dry.
|Dry roots of Coptis groenlandica|
While I am out in the bogs gathering Sphagnum I often come across another very useful herbal medicine plant. This is Gold Thread which very accurately describes the part I am interested in, the roots. The tiny ,very bright gold or yellow roots contain berberine, which is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It's other common name, Canker Root, indicates it's traditional use which is to treat canker sores and cold sores. My experience indicates a strong tea applied topically is quite effective.
My garden gives up a few things in spring too. These Jerusalem Artichokes wintered over just fine in the ground. Also known as Sunchokes, it's a good idea to harvest as soon as the ground thaws since they will start sprouting once the soil warms up. I am going to increase my planting of these this year. They are a great low input crop to use as animal feed. My rabbits and hogs are ga-ga about the tubers and cattle and horses love the stalks and leaves. I also enjoy them occasionally and there are lots of recipes for them.
Well, I can't talk about spring harvest without talking about maple syrup. This has been a good year so far and the trees are still producing sap. I've made around 20 gallons of syrup so far this year. Since we make syrup every year and keep a lot of it for our own use, we have quite a bit stored from last year. I used some to make wine last year and might do that again this year. Because of our surplus I am making sugar from most of this years crop. I have only sugared out about gallon and a half so far. I ended up with 10 1/2 pounds from that batch.
I have about 12 gallons to sugar out today. That should yield somewhere around 95 pounds when done. This is darker syrup than my first batch so it will have a lot stronger flavor.
It will be time for me to get all my seeds started next and lots of prep work to get the garden ready. Time for me to get to work.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Monday, December 29, 2014
Our first trip up was a leisurely trip with numerous stops for yard sales and coffee breaks. We didn't reach our favorite picking spot 'till well after noon.
Some hand sanding to smooth everything out and a coat of bee's wax finished it up. I didn't have another nice piece of the Douglas Fir to make another like it so I shifted gears.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I started out by setting six pallets up on edge to form the shape I wanted for each arch. After I had established the angle that each set of pallets met at, I marked out a piece of chipboard to match that angle. Mine worked out with the bottom joint and the second joint being different from each other and the center top joint matching the second.
For the first and last arch, two sets of these chipboard gussets are needed. For any arches between those, one set is needed for each arch. I built the first arch laying down. After nailing the chipboard gussets on the top edge, I slide the gussets underneath the pallet arch and nailed down thru the pallet and gusset. This leaves the nails sticking out so be careful when raising the arch.
With the first arch standing and adjusted I nailed on my bottom row of pallets with the correct gusset between them. Add a piece of the same chipboard at the bottom so they are evenly spaced.After this bottom row is on, take the time to level and adjust so that the sides are parallel.
We have our pigs and rabbits in here now. I did spend some extra money for rubber cow mats to surface the pig pens. Hopefully this will be enough to prevent them rooting it up. So far it seems to be working.
This project requires some basic carpentry skills and some physical strength. Pallets are not horribly heavy but they are awkward when you are holding them over your head with one hand and nailing with the other. I did this project solo but a helper would be advised if possible. I ended up with a 11ft.7inch. X 16 ft.8inch structure. Each arch was made from 6 pallets. I do not have plans but if you have a question I will try to help.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
This is a good time of the year to replenish or replace some of the items in your natural medicines cabinet. Don't have a natural medicines cabinet? Well, this is a good time of the year to start one! The four items in the pic are four that I try to keep on hand . Lower left , a little hard to see, are Turkeytail Mushroom, Trametes versicolor.It is the subject of much scientific research and is credited with helping rev up the immune system.
Above the Turkeytail is Chaga, Inonotus obliquus.The golden colored part is the interior, the black charcoal looking surface is the exterior. Chaga grows mainly on birch trees. In my area I find it mostly on Yellow Birch but in other areas it is more common on Paper Birch. Chaga is another widely researched member of the fungi world. It has been used medicinally for centuries and makes a pleasant tasting beverage. It is generally used for it's anti oxidant qualities.We put a few small pieces in our coffee percolator once a week but I know people who drink it instead of coffee. I'm too much of a caffeine addict to go that route!
To the right of the Chaga ,I show a bag of Usnea sp.. There are a half dozen or so species of this lichen in my area and as far as I have been able to determine, they are interchangeable for medicinal purposes.One species common in this area is Stag horn Lichen, another is Old Man's Beard. I find the Staghorn on Black Spruce most often. All of these lichens seem to like areas with fairly high humidity such as Black Spruce- Sphagnum moss bogs. Usnea species are known to absorb airborne contaminants so judgement is required in choosing harvesting locations. Try not to harvest in areas with a lot of human activity that puts pollutants into the air. Usnea species all contain Usnic Acid which is a strong antibiotic and anti fungal agent.There are some suggestions that it should only be used externally but I have used a mild tea orally for a few days at a time.
The bright red mushroom in front is Ganoderma tsugae, one of the two species of Ganoderma mushroom known as Reshi. The more common Ganoderma lucidum generally grows on hardwoods while the tsugae grows on Hemlocks.They are widely distributed through out the world. In traditional Chinese medicine this is known as Ling Chi or Ling Zhi and has been used for thousands of years.This is the "mushroom of immortality"and is believed to enhance overall wellness and to support the cardiovascular system.
I keep and use all four of these health power houses. While the scientific research continues with all of these materials, in this country they are not considered to have any therapeutic benefit. Is this because no substance has been isolated that can be patented as required by drug companies to insure their profits? Used in moderate amounts,none of these have harmed me. Can I prove they help me? No, but I am willing to err on the side of thousands of years of human experience that say these are good for me.