Homestead News, Volume 14

Well, let’s see, what have we been up to lately? Bunches. Last week we got a comment that accused us of putting the youngsters to shame with all of the work we’ve been doing. It struck me as kind of funny at the time, and I’ve thought about it a couple of times since then. Because of that comment, I thought I’d let you know that the two men that are doing most of the hard work around here, Frank and Henry, are 65 and 60 years old, respectively. This little tid bit of information may motivate someone out there, so I thought I would share. As for the woman here? I’m 56.

The ditch we showed you last week looks exactly the same as it did then, except we ran a soaker hose across the yard where the rest of the ditch is to be dug. Emmet has been back since this ditch was

started, but during that visit he dug a different ditch, the one between these two buildings, and about half of it was done in the dark by lantern light. The one picture I tried to take showed too much of Emmet’s face, so I didn’t keep it. After the ditch was dug, Frank and Emmet ran 12/2 in conduit connecting the two buildings. And then there was light. Inside that is. Frank did his first night time tractor driving and covered up

the ditch with the bucket. He didn’t like it much, he prefers the visibility daylight provides instead. So now we have temporary power to these two buildings. Temporary because the solar panel installation will provide the power to these buildings in the long run.


Today Frank and Henry finished installing the braces and brackets for the new antenna towers. There is one on the garage, one on the garden shed and one on the house by the current antenna pole. Frank has been determining the angle of attachment because these towers will fold over at the bottom so they can be laid down to install or work on antennas. This has taken a lot of planning, plus acquiring some needed equipment and accessories. We will continue to give you updates on how this project is progressing.



As you can tell from the picture on the header, the concrete for the outdoor kitchen was installed last week. I have to tell you, watching Henry mix the concrete bag after bag made me tired. That was a lot of work, but it went quickly and smoothly. Frank brought the bags of concrete over in the bucket of the tractor so no one had to lift them. We kept water in a five gallon bucket for Henry to pour into the wheelbarrow, which saved time and effort as well.

Here is the first appliance for the outdoor kitchen. Neat, huh? It is neat and exciting to think about completing this project and having a functional, no-grid, rather primitive kitchen right off the back porch. But when I really stop and think about using it out of necessity in a survival scenario, the neat factor drops like a rock. This kitchen has not been conceived, nor created to invite friends over to enjoy tea and crumpets. I picture processing vegetables and meat out here, washing clothes and fixing breakfast before a hard days work. It’s rather daunting, actually.


Last week our friend Grace let me know there were some local pears ripe and available. There are folks that have pear trees, but aren’t using the pears. One gentleman’s tree is loaded and they are falling by the dozens to the ground. Yesterday instead of butchering and canning chickens, I went and got pears, five 5 gallon buckets full of pears. Guess what I

Washed pears in the sunrise that’s peeking in the backdoor.

did today? Yep, but I only got started. So far we have 21 quarts of canned pears. We did it a little different this time, no sugar (just like the peaches), and no peeling. When we had finished canning peaches a month or so ago, one person commented that they don’t peel their fruit before they can it. I thought that sounded great and read about other folks doing the same thing, so that’s what I did. Aren’t they beautiful? And there are lots left to put way. I hope to have them finished by the weekend.


We have had some cold nights this week, into the 40’s. This was the first ‘cold’ test for the greenhouse and the water barrels we are using for the thermal mass. The first night it got down to 47*, the greenhouse against the wall was 59*. Yea! That is where the tomatoes, peppers, ginger, potatoes and turmeric are living. The temperature on the thermometers along the outside wall read 54*. Another yea! That’s when I discovered that I hadn’t thought to close the screen at the top of the storm door on the greenhouse. That may have kept it even warmer in there. The plants are happy, even when it gets over 100* most afternoons. It is supposed to cool off, even for the highs later in the week. Today it got up to 97*, it was a hot day.



Brussel sprouts




Since I have been watering the plants in the greenhouse almost everyday, I thought it would be good to use the water well that is right next door. This water well has a Simple Pump installed that works very well, it’s just that we haven’t been using it at all. When I pumped some water out of it the other day it smelled awful, so today I put about half a gallon of bleach in it. We’ll let it sit for a couple of days then pump water out of it until the bleach smell is gone. It will be an easy walk with my watering can back and forth to the well. I figure it is a good time to get the well into good working condition since we may be using it regularly before long. I wiped down the main rod to remove any dust and grime. Before I use it again I will clean and lubricate the rod again with olive oil.


For now, I am filling the watering can with the hose and rural water supply. I have also been ‘watering’ the clothesline poles for several days. It is really dry here and it hasn’t rained since we put the poles in the ground with the dry concrete. I have watered each pole a number of times, several days apart. I’m ready to use it, it just isn’t ready to be used yet.




I almost forgot to tell you. Monday when Frank and Henry were finishing up shelving and braces in preparation for working on the antenna towers, I tore the carpet out of the bedroom. This

house has old, old, about 35 year old shag carpet in the bedroom, hallway and living room. Did I tell you it’s old? Well, last weekend Frank took up a small piece of the bedroom carpet, just to see what was underneath. That showed me what to do. I thought it would take quite a while and be difficult. It took less than an hour and was a breeze. The hardest part was moving the mattress out into the

hallway and back, and that wasn’t difficult. Now we have a somewhat uneven, paint splotched and stained in some places, plywood bedroom floor. It’s great! We haven’t decided what we’re going to do with it next, but there’s no hurry. We’re just glad to have the carpet and everything that was living in it out of our bedroom.

After I finished with the carpet, I snapped a few green beans I had picked over the weekend and thawed out the gallon bag of cowpeas I had put in the freezer over the summer. Out came the canner and they all went in together even though the green beans only require 25 minutes to can and the cowpeas require 40 minutes. I ended up with three pints of green beans and 10 pints of cowpeas. It sure is nice to have a few more jars of food on the shelf.

There is an interesting article on The Economic Collapse today that Frank ran across, The Numbers Say That a Major Global Recession Has Already Begun. We know that not everybody follows the markets, but we’re all invested heavily, one way or another. Please pay attention. And if you can or would, please pray for the Middle East. Things are not looking good there. Do you think the world economy and the Middle East problems might be connected? Certainly food for thought. A couple of extra cans of green beans might come in handy some day. You just never know when the stores might not be there.

Life continues to rush by at break neck speed. It’s amazing how much we are getting done and how much is yet to be completed. We have never worked this hard and accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. Ever. It’s quite fascinating. This afternoon after Frank and Henry had quit for the day and we were waiting for the last batch of pears to be finished, Frank and I talked about how hard we have been working. I told him we are practicing for what is to come, when there won’t be a choice of working hard all day or not. It’s hard work, it’s good practice and it’s providing us with many things that will make life a little easier. There is nothing like experience for learning. It’s your turn, do, learn, and experience. It will get you one step closer to being as ready as you can.

Until next time – Fern

37 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 14

  1. Great explanation, Calidore, thank you very much. If you want to email some pictures, I could use them in an article, but there isn't a way to put them in a comment. I've tried. (-:I haven't really thought about additional cookware or lighting, so that is something to think about. Our kitchen will be very open and very small, 10' x 10'. It adjoins the back porch which is 8' x 40', and is where any seating or tables will be located. Please continue to comment with ideas as we show the progress on this construction. There are no plans for electricity at all, so I guess I could call it my grid down kitchen. Thank you again for sharing. You just never know who might benefit from this information. I know I have.Fern

  2. Well I hope my answer on my outdoor kitchen can help. DH traded some electrical work for a friends kitchen as they were renovating. I ended up with a double bowl sink, Dishwasher (which is hardly used) gas oven and cook top and loads of benches, cupboards and drawers. DH has set it up for me so it is like my kitchen inside with good lighting and lots of power points – the only difference is it's outside under our pergola. I have running hot and cold water and when we can afford the next rain water tank it will also have filtered rain water on tap. There is also a permanent supply of gas for the stove and BBQ. I can do anything from butcher chickens to preserve fruit to host a large party. I scoured second hand/op shops for plates, glasses, cutlery and cups so entertaining is easy and I'm slowly stocking the cupboards with pots and pans etc. It's reasonably easy to keep clean and as we eat outside a lot in the summer months makes it very convenient. I also have an old refridgerator to keep drinks cold and a huge hand made pizza oven (made by an old Italian gentleman that has since passed away) that I can cook a weeks meals plus lots of loaves of bread in using just a small amount of wood.Lighting is provided by led downlights and I have one ceiling fan and another portable fan just to stir the air which also helps to keep down the insects. All the lighting and fans are powered by our solar system which means if the power is down I can still see :-)))) DH and I have sat outside before using the old Kerosine/Tilley lamps that he collects and they give a perfect light too. To help keep the insects away we put some citronella oil in the lamps with no difference to the light output and the smell is rather nice.There are down sides to the whole plan – when isn't there? Keep in mind here in Australia where I live it's HOT in summer and the insects and mosquitoes can be quite nasty at times. The pergola isn't enclosed with fly wire so we get all the insects and flies buzzing around as we work or entertain. Also a good dust storm gives everything a lovely coating of dust….but apart from that it's perfect. I use the outdoor gas stove/oven lots as I bake all our cakes and biscuits and it saves heating up the indoor kitchen during the summer which in turn means that I quite often don't have to turn on the air conditioning until very late in the afternoon on an extremely hot day. My wish list for the area is to enclose the pergola – which means rebuilding the pergola including fixing the roof line – so I don't think that will happen anytime soon. I would also love a wood stove, like I have inside, to cook on. In a grid down situation as least I could cook meals on a stove top and heat water without heating up the house during the summer months. Gosh that ended up being a book didn't it? In the end my advise would be put everything in your kitchen that you would use inside, providing you can afford it. Good lighting, bench space and cooking areas are a must. Depending on where you live maybe screening it in would be a great idea and don't forget to have a sink and tap so you can wash up or rinse off something without having to go inside.I hope this helps. If I can help anymore or clarify something better please ask. I have no idea how to add photos to this comment (or even if I can) or I would send you some.Calidore.

  3. The roof has always been part of the plan, Sandra, but not screening. We have some if it's needed, but so far it's not part of the design. I haven't explained much about this kitchen yet, and part of that is because it's a work in progress, we'll have to wait and see how it turns out. Right now it has to take a back seat to antenna towers and electric lines. We're also waiting for the metal roofing materials to come in. Thank you very much for the description of your grandmother's summer kitchen. It's a great way to get more ideas that may make this one work more effectively. I'm glad you enjoy your time here. Thank you for your comment.Fern

  4. Sounds like you have your work cut out for you, Andrea. There are always things we can share with others, and we find those others often teach us many things as well. Thank you for the very kind words, I'm glad you enjoy your time here and find some things that are useful, that's why we're here. Hang in there and take good care of yourself.Fern

  5. Our plywood subfloor is uneven in places and has a number of gaps, so we'll need to eventually cover it with something, we just haven't decided what. Good ideas about the pears, thank you. We're saving a few seeds, just to see if we can get them to grow. The Simple Pump works very well, we are very pleased with ours. Thank you for sharing, and enjoy all that work.Fern

  6. Congratulations on your new pig acquisition, Claudia. I hope you enjoy them as much as I am. I think I am finally getting comfortable with the pigs. They're actually kind of fun.Frank and I talked about the need for a farmer's market kind of thing in our small community just recently. We've been pondering it for a while, who to approach with the idea, where it could be held, etc. Then you leave us this comment today. It's interesting how God uses other people to bring you a message, isn't it? Thank you for being a messenger and sharing your wonderful community interaction. It's a great example for all of us. And you're right, time is short.Fern

  7. I read your blog, Ilene, and you two get a lot done in your garden. It is a sight to behold. You grow things everywhere, and use them, too. I'm glad you got your knee done when you did. Now is not the time to be putting things like that off. You just never know what will happen next in our government. It didn't used to be that way. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  8. You're a youngster, Calidore. It's funny, since Frank and I have lost almost 50 pounds, we sure have a lot more energy. He told someone the other day that we are working harder now than we ever have. You know why? One, we have many projects that need completing before the SHTF. Two, it is preparing our bodies for the day that we will need to be able to work all day long just to meet our basic survival needs. These are very interesting times we live in.I would be very interested in hearing more details about your outdoor kitchen. What you have in it, how you use them, any challenges that have occurred, etc. I need all the help I can get, so please let me pick your brain. (-: It may also help someone else. Thank you very much for sharing, Calidore, it's always good to hear from you.Fern

  9. It will have a roof, Just Me. How did I think of it? I kept coming back to being able to cook outside during the hot Oklahoma summers when there is no more electricity. It will be so hot inside the house, I can't imagine cooking and canning in there, making it even hotter. But that's what lots of folks used to do before the wonderful invention of air conditioning. This will give us another grid down option for cooking, canning, washing clothes and processing meat and the vegetables from the garden. It will be a big learning curve to say the least. Thank you for asking.Fern

  10. Have fun with your new flooring. It will be a while before we decide what to do with this floor. We're also going to take up the carpet in the hall and livingroom. That will be interesting as well. Thank you for sharing your old, old carpet with us. (-:Fern

  11. Love this blog. May I make a comment on your outdoor kitchen? In my grandmother's pre-Victorian house, which was built in 1865 in Dayton Ohio for my grandfather's first wife, had all sorts of wonderous and great places. A ladies porch, where only the women gathered to do sewing, get the news, etc. It was cool and quiet and an incredible way to escape in the summer. It also had a \”summer\” kitchen. The regular kitchen was huge with a wood fired stove, plus a fireplace, a seperate pantry that could hold enough food for an army, a kitchen table and chairs for 25 people (my grandfather had 17 children from his first marriage, and 12 with my grandmother-that lived), and plenty of room for dogs, cats, my grandfather's parrot, and whatever else showed up. Directly connected was the summer kitchen. Open in the sense it was only roofed and screened in, this place had it's own stove and oven. It was a complete kitchen with no pantry. It was in use from May until October. Grandma's house was never hot in the summer. My aunts and mom canned out there, cooked, baked, and remained fresh in God forsaken humid Midwestern Summers! So think about a roof and screening and you will never use your regular kitchen in the summer again! As an aside-had vagrants not burned the house down in the '60s, bad neighborhood or not, I'd be living there. My happiest memories are in that old house. -Sandra T

  12. Your blog has been such an inspiration to me. We're working so hard readying our little 23 acre farm in WI. I'm weary often. But then we're both 68 and I'm just a couple of years out from breast cancer. I've spent years in the suburbs, so I'm relearning what I learned as a child. We have to do and use these things so when we don't have them, we've made the mistakes. I'm not as concerned about hubby and I. We've lived a long and wonderful life. Going to meet Jesus is okay by us. However, we'd like to stick around long enough in a collapse to really help the youngers. You give us hope, ideas and it's just plain fun reading what you write. Thank you. Andrea

  13. I have at least 2 bedrooms I need to yank the carpet out of also! Have you thought about just painting that sub floor? We own a share in a house we use for hunting/overnite vacay and mine plan for that one is to paint 4 feet or so around the edge of the room, maybe do a scroll design over that then put down my thrift store wool rug. Beats 30 year old carpet all to heck. Maybe use porch and deck enamel for durability. Proud of all you are accomplishing! We too are 50+ years old and working harder than we ever have. About the pears………one sees why all the old homesteads had them. They are much more reliable producers than apples, and so much you can do with them! I also dry them, can, make butter, and preserves. Also do \”Pear Pie in a Bag\” has to be frozen so would not work of grid, but we enjoy it now. Thanks for the pump info as we have a place we could use one of those.

  14. You two lit a fire under me-yesterday Bruce (66) and I (65) drove 600 miles to pick up twotwo AGH/ Kune Kune six week old barrows. Hopefully the gilt and boar will come later. What cute tubby little guys. As I look off my back deck at the fences patched with baling twine (chuckle). I am grateful for all we have and will have to offer. The small community that is ours-boasts 180 souls. Some of us ladies of this burg started a small farmers market this past summer-small, social an we think needed. Those of us with incubators have shared eggs and hatched many chicks for those wishing to start flocks-all sage advice good and bad shared with humor. Our volunteer fire department-always in need of funding will receive all the $ from our local chestnut harvest sold at the market. Time is short-Please keep blogging.

  15. The information about the pump is at SimplePump.com is a standard, deep well pump with fiberglass sucker rods, PVC casing, stainless steel, and some aluminum parts. Our wells are about 300 feet deep. Our pumps are about 100 feet deep. This is not the pitcher type pump that draws or pulls water, but the type that pumps water from the provides lots of information, I'm more than happy with both of mine. They are lightweight, two people can comfortably install them, and I found the price to be reasonable. A friend of mine and I installed the first one, the second one Fern and I installed. It's that easy. No rust, and it works. It's a 'simple' pump. Hope this helps.Frank

  16. Considering the fact that there's no SS cost-of-living raise this year but yet we may be in for a hike by 50% on what we have to pay for Medicare, plus there may be some new limitations on what it will pay for, causing an increase in the medi-gap premiums, I'm sure, I'm glad I got my knee done this year instead of putting it off. This country thinks of it's senior citizens first when they start thinking about things they can cut. I guess they think we're not productive and therefore we're expendable. Boy is that wrong. Look how productive you, Frank and Henry have been! We've not been as productive as we normally are, lately, because of my knee, but that's temporary. Hubs is turning 74 soon and I'll be 69 a month after his birthday.

  17. My goodness I'm exhausted from reading all that you two have been achieving but I'm also in awe of what you are managing to do. I'm ten years younger than you Fern and obviously need to lift my Was going to ask if you put hole in the bottoms of the tubs you are growing your seedlings in – but someone beat me to it. Thank you for replying to them. We have an outdoor kitchen to and it's fabulous especially in hot weather as I can cook and preserve without heating up the house.Like you I'm busy canning all I can. Great idea leaving the skin on the pears. Must try that when and if my trees ever decide to grow a crop. Our onions have gone to seed (yet again and I have no idea what I'm doing wrong) so am going to try making French onion soup and canning it. Found the idea on pinterest and figured it was worth a go. If nothing else I can use it as a base for casseroles. I've also been buying canning jars when ever I go to a store that sells them – they aren't as available here as they are in the States. If I have extras it won't matter the way things are going in the world I will need all I can buy to get us through.As you are slowly moving to the colder weather it's heating up here in Australia. Hot and sticky today with a minute possibility of rain – but when it happens I'll believe it. Love your hot house but no need for one here – well not at the moment anyway.Blessings to you both and stay safe.

  18. I love the outdoor kitchen idea! LOVE it. Is some kind of roof in the plan? What a fantastic idea. How did you ever think of that?Just Me

  19. You will really enjoy those apples, Fiona. Happy shopping at the auction. I'll be canning pears again tomorrow, and you're right, it's great to see the shelves fill up a little more. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  20. The adventures of mystery plants, Vickie! I hope your fruit trees do well. That is something I have never mastered.The outdoor kitchen will be an interesting venture. I am curious to see how it will come together. There aren't any plans for chairs out there, only work areas. The chairs will have to stay on the porch out of the way. I have a lot to learn about cooking on a stove like this. I wonder how many things I will burn while I learn? More than one, I bet. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  21. We haven't decided what we're going to do with the floor, Deb. Thanks for the idea, though.The water well has just been sitting stagnate for a while, that's where the smell comes from. When we pumped it regularly, it was fine. The bleach treatment will take care of the problem and we will pump it out before we use it. My plan is to use it to water the greenhouse, not to drink, at least not for now.Thank you for sharing.Fern

  22. Did you tamp down the dry concrete with a digging bar? I've used dry concrete for all my foundation posts and gate posts. Used them right away. Hard and firm from day one.

  23. I can top you one on the carpeting. The broadloom that came with this house 13 yrs ago is now 47 years old, and we can finally afford to replace it. We've no idea what the original color was but it's amazingly durable. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

  24. It is amazing the amount of fruit that people have no use for. The three apple trees on this place fed a horse and wildlife…they did not use them. They are early apples and we're ready in July, I know we will make use of them. Tomorrow we are going to the produce Auction for cabbage, late tomatoes and peppers. So much to do and we are tired every night but like you….we see the pantry filling and our food stocks growing. God Bless you both.

  25. I love seeing the pictures of your vegetables! I also have broccoli and brussels sprouts planted. I had started them in small pots in my little greenhouse and, unfortunately, a certain someone dear to me didn't know the brussels sprouts were on the right and the broccoli were on the left. They got mixed around and so now I am not sure which is the brussels sprouts and which is the broccoli because they look so much alike! Haha – it doesn't matter because all of the seedlings made a great transition to the garden and it will actually be fun to see which is which! I just ordered a bear root pear tree (a three in one) to be planted this winter. I love pears and your jarred ones look just lovely! I also adore pear butter and dried pears, so I sure do hope my pear tree will bear lots of fruit! Your patio looks great! I think I have exactly the same little wood stove as yours. I have been having fun cooking on it – chicken and dumplings, beef stew, chili. Even though it is a bit more work to cook on a wood stove, I actually enjoy it!

  26. floor- one company in belgium makes real linoleum.i think that a company in chicago was importing it but that information is years is expensive but wears like iron.i have read that it is naturally germicidal.if the well water smelt terrible do you think it should be tested?

  27. No, we did not drill holes, Kathi, I put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the tubs for drainage. The ginger is from the store. I've grown store bought ginger before. It takes forever to come up and I always just know it is dead. Then it grows.Our one week old baby chicks are out in the chicken house with a heat lamp and doing great. They have been out there since they were 3 days old, even with the night time temperatures in the 40's. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  28. Can you please tell us about your Simple pump. I may have missed it from a previous post. Is it pulling from your water table and how deep did you need to go? Any information would be helpful.Mesquite

  29. Fern, I have two questions: did you drill holes in the bottom of the bus trays you are planting in? And did you plant ginger from the store, or buy some online? Looks like quite a temperature drop tonight. I'll have to remember to cover the chicks' bin.

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