Homestead News, Volume 25

Sit back, pour up a cup of coffee, and enjoy the update. Thanks for stopping by. Please share your news in the comments. The more we learn from each other the better.

Did you know when olive oil gets cold, it partially solidifies? Just move it to a warmer location and let is set for about 12-24 hours. You will read everywhere that oil will go rancid after about six months. We have stored and eaten olive oil that was five years old with no degradation in quality or taste. Not that I would recommend that to everyone, it’s just something we have done.

As the seasons turn, my thoughts are always on our food supply. I have been planning the garden for a couple of months now. We have a few salad greens growing in the greenhouse for winter eating, but mostly there are flowers, some that grew on the porches last summer and some I planted in there in the fall…..just because. During the polar vortex we ran a couple of space heaters and covered the plants with frost cloth. We had some damage, but most of the plants did very well.

Once the sun came out, it warmed up in the greenhouse quickly. It always amazes me to see the difference between inside and outside temperatures. The greenhouse is not sealed, the air freely flows out around the top and the sides. The inside temperature here is 33*, the round thermometer is hard to read, it is 72*.

I have three bus tubs planted with brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and carrots that I will transplant to the garden when the time comes. I have started moving them outside to maintain the adjustment to cooler weather. The greenhouse is starting to heat up quite a bit on sunny days.

We discovered during the cold snap that this entryway into the garage had heaved upward and made the storm door drag on the concrete when we opened it. This small slab has been sitting here for 40 years or more. In the last 12 years we had never had anything like that happen. Fortunately, it settled back down to it’s normal position after the temperatures warmed up again.

I started growing sweet potato slips right before the recent cold snap. We had some starting to sprout that we grew last summer and I intended to grow all of our slips from the heaviest producing variety. Now we have plants growing in a kitchen window since it is too cold in the greenhouse for these tender plants.

Yesterday was a busy day. We partially repaired a chicken house door that needs replacing before it falls off. Then Frank brush hogged a small area by the barn before we replaced the brush hog with the tiller on the tractor. We have an extended rainy season coming and wanted to get the garden area tilled and fertilized. A few months ago, right before we were going to clean out the barn and haul it to the garden, we had bought hay that had been sprayed with Grazon, an herbicide. We were told the hay had been sprayed before we bought it, we just didn’t know enough to ask what with. Grazon can kill your garden, even after it has been ingested and passed through livestock. A friend had their garden spot decimated for a couple of years until the Grazon had time to deteriorate in their soil. As fate would have it, we were unable to clean the barn before the baby goats were born and in the meantime found out about our hay. We replaced what hay we had left with another supply and took the remaining few bales out into a pasture to be burned at a later date. The barnyard will be dumped out there too instead of being brought down to the garden.

It’s hard to imagine the garden looked like this just a few days ago. What a difference a week makes.
Commercial 13-13-13 fertilizer we applied to the garden this year.

Winter weather and aching bones have also prevented us from cleaning out the chicken house and getting that manure into the garden early enough to be useful and not be too hot to burn any seedlings we want to plant, so this year for the first time ever, we are using commercial 13-13-13 fertilizer. I am grateful we have the option of purchasing fertilizer, even though it is not our first choice. If it was unavailable, our garden would probably still produce well since it is a spot that has been worked and fertilized for 10+ years. I still plan to make some manure tea with chicken litter over the summer to water some of the crops.

Just as we finished spraying down the tiller to get some of the caked on dirt off, Frank discovered we had a flat tire on the tractor. Not just a low tire, but it looked like the tire was almost off of the wheel. We didn’t think we could get it to seal and hold air at all. So out in the mud and water puddles we had just created while cleaning off the tiller, we got out the air compressor and extension cords. We were very happy to find we could get it to hold some air, at least temporarily. It was enough to get the tractor back to the barn, but by then it was almost completely flat again. Frank aired it up again with the compressor there, but it very quickly went flat. The good news is we got the garden tilled before the rain came. We have rain forecast for about a week and were working against the clock on getting the garden fertilized and tilled.

While Frank was tilling, I was working on getting the last two flats of carrots planted in the greenhouse. These are seeds we saved from our carrots in 2018. I planted a bus tub of them in the fall to see if they were still viable. Since they were going on three years old, I planted them thickly. I have thinned them twice and they are still too crowded. That’s good to know. Saving viable seeds is always a gamble. Sometimes they are viable, and sometimes they are not. I use the Pot Maker for these seedlings. Direct planting carrots in the garden doesn’t work for me. The weeds and grass take over and they never have a chance since they are so slow to germinate. Using the Pot Maker [link goes to a previous article about them] also allows me to easily thin them before planting and space them in the row just by planting them next to each other.

Our new companion is named Charlie, but she’s a girl. Frank named her. Many of you know we are ham radio operators. When using phonetics for call signs, the alphabet starts with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc…. Well, when we were thinking of names, Frank said he is always alpha when it comes to our dogs, and that is true. Then he came up with he is Alpha, I am Bravo, and she is Charlie. Our Great Pyrenees, Pearl, left us about a year or so ago. We miss her a lot. She was great with the goats and had the best personality. Charlie came to live with us this last summer at eight weeks of age. So far we have survived the puppy stage, but some days just barely. She no longer tears up 40 lb. bags of potting soil, eats the front and back porch, but she still tore up some of the black plastic we have around one of the sheds in the garden yesterday. I made a big mistake not long after Charlie came to live with us. When she got here the garden was in full swing and she would follow me around when I was picking vegetables and weeding. I would pull a weed and hand it to her. She liked the roots and would take it, run off, and attack it. As she grew, she got to the point of pulling her own weeds, except they weren’t all weeds. At the end of the season she even decided pulling up full grown okra stalks was a good idea. She also loves apples and would race me for any windfalls. Charlie decided it was fun to pick tomatoes even if she didn’t eat them, and peppers as well. She has good taste, but these crops are for the people, not the dog. Thus with the addition of Charlie to the yard around the house which includes the garden, this year we will fence it off to prevent certain destruction of seedlings. This will have to take place before we start planting, but we have it tilled and are ready for the next step.

As you can tell, a lot of our efforts are focused on food. At this day and age, I feel that everyone should be focused on their food supply. Prices continue to go up, stability of the world food supply continues to be questionable. Cooperation between countries that traditionally trade or sell their excess food has been changing over the last year. How that may affect our food supply, prices or possible rationing or confiscation is yet to be seen. I think all of these events are possible, but not necessarily eventualities. Only time will tell.

Over the past few years my goal was to plant a smaller garden. Aches and pains affect my ability to keep up with the garden, the weeds, the processing and preserving of the harvest. But, you know what? This year’s garden will be larger, not smaller. Being able to produce as much of our food as possible has always been a goal, now more than ever. We are not increasing varieties or experimenting with new crops, just increasing the volume of our known, proven varieties.

Folks, do what you can. Buy and store what you eat, not a bunch of strange foods that are supposedly ‘prepper’ foods. Buy what you normally eat and store it as best you can. If you can grow and preserve more, in a garden, on a porch, in a pot, do it. Learn more about how to provide for yourself. Even if the world, our country, your state, county or neighborhood doesn’t have challenges in the coming months or years, it never hurts to depend on yourself, your knowledge and abilities instead of someone else.

Because if things continue the slide into tyranny, into subjugation, into the enslavement of the masses……

NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE YOU.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 24

Life goes on here on the homestead, in the local area, in the country and in the world. Precarious though it may seem at times, the store shelves (here at least) are still filled with an abundance of frankenfood, the lights are still on and water still comes out of the tap when I turn it. 

We continue to adjust our lives for our current and future physical abilities while continuing to prepare our minds for what may be coming down the road one day. We have recently had two and a half acres of our ten acre pasture fenced off for our much smaller herd of goats. This still allows us to have four small pastures for animal rotation, but makes it much easier to manage. We are debating about trying to hire someone to brush hog the remaining acreage once a year, or listing it for sale. Our decision changes from day to day, so for now we are just going to let things settle. We are in no hurry.

Our four does – two adults, two kids

Buck and young wether

The eleven year old matriarch of our goat herd is no longer with us. One Stripe was part of the first herd we acquired when we moved here in 2008. She never met anyone she didn’t like and loved to be petted. She gave us many babies, lots of milk and much affection. All of the does we have now are from her line. 

One Stripe


We also no longer have our wonderful Pearl. She was a one of a kind dog and we miss her. She was great with the goats and devoted to the two of us. We’ll be dog-less for a while. We don’t look forward to training another puppy, but one will come along again when the time is right.

Pearl


We’re also preparing the acre surrounding the house for eventual use as pasture. When the day comes to really downsize the land, if we haven’t already, we will sell the ten acres with the current barn. Then we will use this area around the chicken house for any pasture we may still want to use. It will maintain a couple of goats, although we would have to feed more hay year round.

In preparation for that we have had some overgrown brushy areas cleared out along with tons of pine needles.

This older storage shed has seen better days. We’ve been fighting a leaking roof for years. Now we’re working on emptying it out so it can be moved out by a neighbor that wants it. In the process we are donating many things to a local church that works with individuals and families that are in recovery from alcohol and drugs. It’s good to be able to pass on some things to people in need, but it’s also difficult to start downsizing instead of building up. It’s probably something most people go through as they age, and now it’s our turn.

I have been making some simple cheeses since we are enjoying fresh goat milk again. I tried an herb cheese with onion and garlic, but it came out really strong. Frank doesn’t even like to smell it. I tried a small wheel with fresh basil from the greenhouse a couple of days ago. We haven’t tried it yet, but it smells much milder so I hope this wheel is edible.

 

As time goes on we find we eat less, quite a bit less. Our sauerkraut crock is wonderful, but is now too big. We recently got some air lock lids to make kraut by the jar. This is our first experiment. We had them in the pantry for a dark place, but I didn’t remember to check on them, so I moved them into one of the kitchen cabinets. Two of the jars turned out fine, but the one that wasn’t full didn’t. I don’t know if it was the amount of cabbage or if it was because we didn’t include the rubber gasket in the lid when we put it all together. Another learning experience. It’s always good to learn. I am going to try peppers this way this summer. I think that would be good. And maybe okra? I’m not sure if they will ferment/pickle very well. I will have to read more about that before I try it.

I have been working on a door hanging for my mother who is in the nursing home with dementia. She has been there for two and a half years now. I agree with all of the people that told me over a year ago that this is a very cruel disease. We pray for her peace and comfort every day, and I pray for her release from this world. I can usually still get her to smile and laugh. She even sang Happy Birthday to Frank (I got it on video on my phone) recently and she hadn’t sang with me for months. It was very touching.

The greenhouse continues to feed us some nice green things a few times a week, and is now housing some seedlings, or the dirt that holds seeds that will soon be seedlings.

Two ages of cabbage seedlings

Will be carrots, tomatoes and peppers.

Carrots are just beginning to peek out.

Onions

I am going to cut the tops of these tomato plants, root them and start them in pots. I hope to get some big seedlings ready this way. We still have that one tomato that has been growing slowly all winter. I don’t know if it’s going to ripen or not. Frank thinks it will be really tough if it ever does.

 

We are saving eggs to start the incubator tomorrow. These eggs will be hatching the same time the day old chicks we ordered will be arriving. We’ll raise them all together, keep a replacement laying flock and butcher the rest. It’s a good seasonal activity. Eggs to meat to the table. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

For now, the garden lays fallow, but it won’t be long before we will plant it once more. Hope is eternal when there is spring on the way.

Our country? The world? Viruses, plagues, pandemics, politics, food shortages, lies, corruption, greed? It just goes on and on and on. Every so often I get a small, tiny spark of hope that the world will keep on turning, people will come to their senses and we can continue to live in some semblance of peace, but then the next ‘thing’ appears and extinguishes that spark pretty quickly. So, life goes on. Until it doesn’t. We do what we can and try to be realistic about what we can and can’t do. We try not to play head games with ourselves and pretend we are going to go running through the woods chasing bad guys if the collapse occurs. Not going to happen. Reality. Sometimes difficult to deal with. Choosing not to? Not an option on our homestead. How are things going on yours?

Until next time – Fern
 

Homestead News, Volume 23

Things have slowed down somewhat here for the winter. Outside of the opinion pieces we have been sharing for news, in our little corner of the world things are relatively quiet. We have our daily routines of animal chores, cooking and eating, and eating. The small lane that leads to our house is about 1/4 mile if you walk round trip. Frank walks it twice a day for about a mile or so. I usually make it about half to three quarters before the arthritis in my back starts complaining. We take the half hour drive to see my mother in the nursing home regularly. Some of those trips are easier than others. Her dementia is now limiting her speech significantly and it’s hard to keep her attention. So, go our days. Watching the demise of the world and wondering when it will reach our doorstep.

We have some food growing in the greenhouse along with some basil and flowers. More flowers than usual and surprisingly, some of them like to bloom in the winter.

Turnip greens

Salad fixings – amaranth, pak choy, kale, cress, lettuces

Looking out of the door that goes into the house.

Balsam – I had no idea they would bloom in the winter greenhouse.

And believe it or not, the tomatoes are blooming. I don’t think they will produce because it gets too cold at night.

But this will be the first plants I set out come spring if they make it until then.

Our baby goats are all on the ground for the year. We had one set of twins and two sets of triplets. One of the does has continued her mastitis problem from last year so we gave away two of her kids when they were four hours old. They got a few good drinks of colostrum and we sent more home with them. 

Now we have fresh milk again which we both consider to be a wonderful treat.

I have been using up some of my fabric and quilt batting making lap quilts to donate to the nursing home where my Mom lives. It’s part of my downsizing effort.

And speaking of eating, today is a good day for a pot of soup. It’s still warm outside, t-shirt weather, but I wanted to use some of our harvest for a good hot meal.

 
I don’t like the feeling that these tools are always necessary when I walk out the door to go milk the goats, or garden, or take a walk down our lane, but so go the days of our lives. Anymore, you just never know what you need to always be prepared for.


 Until next time – Fern
 

Winter Greenhouse Salad

The greenhouse has turned out to be bountiful, and a good learning experience. I have tried to grow a number of things that were failures, but in the process we learned a lot. We have also been able to eat fresh greens for the past few winters that weren’t available to us before.

Since we have changed our diet to healthy low carbohydrates and quality proteins, our meals have become more simple, with less ingredients, and contain as much homegrown food as possible. Actually, we have gotten to the point that we have to be very careful what we eat from the store, because most of it makes us sick. But that’s another article for another day.

We are far enough into the winter growing season that the spinach and lettuce in the outdoor, back porch bed is slowing down and buried in oak leaves, while the greenhouse vegetables now provide a good plate of salad fixings.

Small garden bed by the back porch. We have wanted to use this area for a long time.

For these salads I picked…..

Romaine, Buttercrunch and Black Seeded Simpson lettuces
Simpson lettuce

Bloomsdale spinach

Pak Choy cabbage

Cress

The cress is still pretty small. I transplanted it from the back porch bed about a month ago since it had really slowed down it’s growth from the weather.

Kale

We have finally found a way to eat kale. All of the other ways we have tried, we don’t like because of the strong flavor. Here I pick the leaves when they are about the size of a quarter to half dollar. They are starting to get that kale type of flavor, but mixed in with the other greens, they aren’t noticeable.

Parsley

The parsley wasn’t growing well back in the herb bed this year, and neither did some of the other herbs. I’m not sure why, but I ended up transplanting them into pots and growing them on the porch instead. Now all of those herbs have moved into the greenhouse to see how they do over the winter. We had a bit of parsley in some of the salads, but it didn’t set well in Frank’s stomach, so it’s just growing in here for now.

When the forecast is in the teens at night, like it is tonight, we cover everything with some frost cloth and turn on a small electric space heater. Tonight is the second time we have used the frost cloth and space heater this winter. I don’t worry about 22*F and above. The water barrels seem to keep everything warm enough and most of the things growing in here are cold hardy plants. The space heater and frost cloth seems to help and we haven’t lost anything yet. Not even the yellow squash, believe it or not, or the flowers.


I never thought this would grow. We haven’t done anything special for it.

It’s nice to be able to tell Frank I’m going to go pick some lunch, even in the winter. I feel like I am providing some good nutrition and at the same time, get to enjoy the process of growing things, something I have always enjoyed.

Until next time, Fern

What Seeds Have Taught Me

Seeds. I love seeds and the potential nourishment they represent. If the truth were to be told, I have too many seeds, so some of them age past their prime and lose viability before they have the opportunity to grow. A waste? Yes, could be, but like our preparations, I would rather have too many, than wish I had something grow because we were hungry. Frank has heard me say many times that seeds are worth more than gold. The food that seeds provide can keep us alive. If there are no seeds to be had, all the gold in the world is worthless.

I am grateful that we have had the last seven years here to learn the climate, soil conditions, pests and temperature variations. No two years have had the same weather conditions, which has offered even more to learn. Our first two gardens were grown under extreme drought conditions. This past year we lost some of our hard earned topsoil to flooding, and it was so wet that seeds rotted in the ground.

During the first few years we tried growing the same varieties of vegetables we had grown else where, some did well and some did not. We experimented one year with about six or eight types of peppers, tomatoes and winter squashes. That gave us a very good idea of which ones would produce well here. Some of our favorites made the cut and some did not, fortunately we found better producing varieties that have now become our new favorites.

It took me three years to figure out how to grow lima beans only to discover we really didn’t like them. Until two years ago, I didn’t like fresh tomatoes. We started growing two old heirloom varieties, and surprisingly, I liked them. Frank has always liked tomatoes and he describes them as more acidic than many of the newer varieties. I have also discovered that my back cannot pick a row of bush beans. I just can’t do it. This has led to experiments with several types of pole beans until we found one that we really enjoy, that produces well into the fall.

I wish I could figure out how to grow a head of cabbage. I even wrote an article about it. And onions. Those are things I will continue to work on because we eat a lot of both. I also need to be more diligent at saving our seeds. It has always been easier for me to order seeds instead of planning ahead for seed saving. There will come a time when the only seeds we have will be the ones we save, so this is not a skill for me to continue avoiding or neglecting. 

The greenhouse has given us a whole new learning experience in growing food. As would be expected, the cool weather crops are happier than those that like the heat of summer. We have picked one yellow squash and the tomatoes are blooming, but with 38* lows at night, I don’t expect much from them. I will soon be planting seedlings in the greenhouse. The window I’ve used for the past few years has now been replaced by the greenhouse entrance and I find that to be very comforting. I’m excited about the greatly expanded room to grow many more seedlings that won’t be leggy and leaning over sideways in an attempt to reach the sunlight. I’ll be learning much more about the timing for growing, hardening off and planting these seedlings.

There are many beautiful seed catalogs arriving in the mail now days. They all have something to offer that is new, different or interesting, but I have found a company that has a very wide variety of quality products for a fraction of the cost. With few exceptions, we order our seeds from R.H. Shumway’s, which I have no affiliation with, except as a very satisfied customer. Their catalog is not shiny and showy, but it is packed full of seeds and information.  I would highly recommend them.


So, what have the seeds taught me? Patience, diligence, responsibility, the power of observation and learning, conditions for success, hard work usually pays off, and that hope springs eternal in the miracle of germination and growth. In a recent article I said, Our future will be one of incredibly hard work, grubbing in the dirt for our survival.” That’s what seeds mean to me. Life. Survival. I am continually fascinated that one tiny little seed can produce so much food. In the coming days if you have a few seeds and a shovel to spare, a man could help feed his family. Do you have enough seeds for this year, and the next, and the next?

If you are new to your area, or plan to go somewhere else when the SHTF, do you know someone that can help you with invaluable information about local growing conditions and varieties that produce? When is the average first and last frost date? What insect pests cause the most destruction? Do you know how to deal with them without running down to the local garden center for a fix? Has the soil been turned and worked? Is it fertile enough to support the production you need? There are so many things to learn and know before those seeds will turn into food. I have read many places that people feel prepared to replenish their food supply because they have a can of survival seeds. Unless these people have figured out, and made accommodations for many of the things I have mentioned, they will starve. Not that these cans of seeds are a bad idea or contain inferior products, but the conditions necessary for adequate food production are dependent upon so many factors that the odds are stacked against them. 
 

Grace’s garden


We have a friend, Grace, that gardens just a few miles down the road. She can grow things we cannot. We have pests she doesn’t, and she has some we don’t. Conditions can change quickly, from location to location, as well as year to year..

What have you learned from your seeds? Please share with us because we are all in this together. Any knowledge we can glean now, before it is a vital means of survival will be of great benefit. As soon as I get back the use of these two hands I will be rolling up a new batch of pot makers and planting them in the greenhouse. I can’t wait.

Until next time – Fern
 

What’s Growing in the Greenhouse? Volume 2

The plants in the greenhouse are growing quite well, so I thought it was time to give you an update. Over the past few nights we have had our first cold weather of the year. Saturday night the low was 28* outside, and since we still have electricity and didn’t want to lose the plants we have growing, we put a small space heater out in the greenhouse for the night. The low in the greenhouse that night was 43* with the heater running. An hour or so after daylight when the outside temperature had risen to 39* and we had turned off the heater, it was 66* in the greenhouse because of the sunlight. It warms quickly once the sun is up. We also ran the heater last night when the low was 31*. The plants would have probably been fine without the heater last night, but we are so happy with all of the growth and potential food, that we didn’t want to take the chance. 

 

Before the cold weather hit, we removed the exhaust fan and covered the four vents with plywood.

 

 

Generally, the temperature next to the wall of the house continues to stay about 10* warmer than the surrounding shelves overnight and all of the plants, with the exception of the okra which is a real heat loving plant, 

appear to be happy. During the day, we open the screen on the door, or the door itself when the temperatures inside reach around 85* or so. We just have to remember to shut everything back down about 3:30 or 4:00 pm once the sun reaches the point where cooling begins to occur. It continues to be a great learning process. We still think the cool weather plants will do well with the thermal mass of the water barrels. The warm weather plants might not make it, but there would still be food to eat. 

Here is the latest tour of the plants.

Sweet pepper dug from the garden

Tomatoes

Buttercup winter squash

Cucumbers

Green beans

Onions

Okra with comfrey leaves for fertilizer

Collard greens

Mesclun greens

Romaine that has been picked a lot

Tansy lettuce & endive

Comfrey that has been picked several times

Strawberries

Lettuce that has never been very happy

Mustard spinach that grows very well. We’ve picked it a lot.

Spinach, we’ll be picking soon

Beets

Broccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Brussels sprouts

Turnip greens

Celery

Potatoes

 

Cabbage

Kale

Basil

Thyme

Stevia

Coriander

Lemon Balm

Dill

Oregano

Austrian Winter Peas

Jalapeno from the garden

Potato

My first experience with hand pollinating has been with the yellow squash.
 

Yellow squash on the left

Male flower collecting pollen

Female flower receiving pollen

Squash that was pollinated one week later

The muskmelon has had some problems with powdery mildew. One of my books recommended comfrey tea spray which I have been using for a few days. It seems to be gradually diminishing, but not before it affected the yellow squash next door as well.

Powdery mildew

Muskmelon on right next to the yellow squash

The muskmelon has had many male flowers.

I think this will be the first female flower on the muskmelon I have found.

 

Today I picked lettuce, spinach, winter peas, sweet peppers and onions for a salad. We still have a few tomatoes left from the garden, and I added some of our cheddar cheese.
 

There is not a lot of food to harvest yet, but there is a lot of potential. We’ve had a few small servings of cooked turnip, collard and beet greens which we’ve really enjoyed, and we really look forward to eating squash again, in the winter no less. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue learning how to produce more food.

Until next time – Fern
 

Homestead News, Volume 17

We are still working on our antenna project. The rains have softened the ground enough that we can’t get in the garden to work on raising the first of three towers. We attempted to raise the first one as the rains were coming, but found out we need a stouter pulling pole to get this tower up. We’ll give you a lot more details in an article dedicated solely to this project when we’re closer to completion.

Our young hens are starting to lay and we get varying sizes of pullet eggs everyday now, and that is great. We were blessed with eggs from Grace and Faith to tide us over until we had enough.

October 29th

The garden is history for this year. There are still a few potatoes that keep coming up out there, but we already have two pots in the greenhouse. I may add another one or two but it will have to be tomorrow if I do since the low tomorrow night is supposed to be 24 degrees. This will be our first hard freeze of the season. We’ve had a few dustings of frost so far, but haven’t even made it down to 32 degrees yet.

Easter & Patch

We brought home a buck this evening that we are borrowing from Faith. It was dark by the time we got him unloaded and settled, so no pictures yet. Faith and her husband have been gracious enough to provide us with an opportunity to add some new blood to our herd, and we haven’t been able to find a permanent replacement buck for our herd yet. Victor, the borrowed buck, has four does to breed while he is here. Our plan is to keep him for 60 days to make sure all of the does are pregnant, especially our two young does, Patch and Easter. Young does don’t always ‘take’ the first time they are bred, so we will be counting days to see if they come back into standing heat 21 days after breeding. If not, it’s usually safe to say they are pregnant.

We tried the pear sauce this morning on some sourdough biscuits and it is very good. To us it seems very sweet even though there is no sugar in it. The very ripe pears I used worked great. Very nice.

The outdoor kitchen work has been on hold because of the wet weather. We need to spray down the plywood walls and let them dry for a day or two so we can paint them before we start setting up the stove, smoker and sinks. Maybe next week it will be dry enough to get the painting done.

We cleared out the stuff that had accumulated in the livingroom around the woodstove so we can get it ready for use. When we paint the outdoor kitchen we’re also going to paint the concrete board that goes behind the stove and get it fastened to the walls. We plan to paint the exterior doors on the house, too. I hope we can finish off the painting soon, neither one of us like to paint, and really don’t look forward to that chore.

The Survival Radio Relay Net continues to slowly grow. There were two new people on the net this week. Our ability to communicate has been somewhat limited with the towers down, so Frank has been calling the net from one of our vehicles that has a CB and a VHF/UHF in it. We are all learning how to be more effective in contacting each other and relaying information between different people. It is a great learning experience and we get a little better at it each time we meet.

Life is good. It has slowed down a little with the coming of winter, but not much. We’re hampered a bit by the weather, but still making good progress. 

The events of the world continue to unfold with increasing speed and TEOTWAWKI comes more into focus each passing day. I often think of Ol’ Remus’ advice, “Avoid crowds”, especially in light of holiday shopping. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing among us.

Until next time – Fern