Friday, November 28, 2008

Self Sustaining Living- Holiday Meal and a realization

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and I found myself short on a few things needed for the meal that my containers could not handle. So, I ran out to the local Sav-a-lot(box store) for a few things. I picked up 5 tomatoes, head of celery, 4 green peppers, 2 cucumbers and a bag of carrots. The total was $16.54! Now, this is from the local discount grocery! One more plant of each variety plus a celery plant or 2 and I would not have had to spend that
money. These items would have normally been off my own container plants for the every day meals I prepare for the 4 of us and fed us well for 2 days worth of meals. So, using that as an example,growing these things for myself would save my family $50 a week.What??? $50 extra a week??? That's not something to sneeze at, that's $200 a month, or $2,400 a year! That's a decent amount of money we could be fixing something that's broken around the farm with or just plain saving for a rainy day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Self Sustained Living- "free meat day"

I grew up in a family environment that frowned on firearms and would rather take a picture of a deer instead of shooting said animal. Funny how I turned out then because I eat deer meat. I have no problems shooting and butchering a deer. I know the picture is a pair of cute and furry little bunnies, they get eaten too!

I've heard at least 30 people in the last month say "ew, deer meat is gross!" That's because all they have ever eaten is deer given to them from other people that were too lazy to butcher it for themselves. Deer processors will NOT take the time to remove every speck of fat and every speck of silver skin connector tissue. Sending a deer to the processor is a reflection of society. Most people like to say they killed the deer and offer you some salami or sausage and boast of how cool the great hunt was. Me, I like to keep quiet, offer some meat and then when the person says how tasty the beef sausage was, I can laugh and explain how they just ate deer meat. Properly cleaned deer tastes just as good as the roast you just paid $4.59 a lb for or the ground meat you just paid $2.89 a lb for at your grocery store. Society as a whole has become lazy and lost some of the basic skills needed to survive. I can't say about where you live if the deer are as numerous as they are here, but if you see one deer, you can bet there are 20 in the bush you can't see! In most rural areas, deer over run the area. Population has removed all the natural predators so deer flourish. Get a gun card and a hunting permit and get some fresh red meat!

Now for the bunny picture, rabbits are easy to tend, don't require a ton of time or space and you can feed them a multitude of things grown right in your own yard. High protein and low fat meat, very easy to butcher. Any recipe you would have chicken in you can use rabbit in. Give it a try!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Self Sustained Living- Sweet Stuff

I found this awesome and simple recipe to make home made milk shakes without pricey ingredients or that stupid ice cream making contraption that turns out stuff that ends up like frozen flavored milk. I had everything right in my cabinets but the non-stick spray(explanation in the recipe). This stuff ends up tasting just like a frosty from Wendy's! You can find the recipe at Hillbilly Housewife.

It took just a minute or so to throw the stuff in the blender and 2 minutes of mixing it up and it was ready!

It's my new favorite sweet thing as it doesn't take 2 hours in the kitchen to make it! Believe me, after tending animals, the greenhouse, canning, butchering and the cooking/baking the rest of the day, I am sure sold on anything sweet as a snack that is simple and quick to satisfy the sweet tooth needs :) Give it a try, I think you'll like it too!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Self Sustained Living-Container Growing

Container growing is a great way for people living in small spaces to have fresh fruits and vegetables when ever they want them. My all time favorite tool is a book called "Bountiful Container" written by McGee and Stuckey and when last checked, it was still available from The book is a step by step guide to container growing including edible flowers. I love it and it is what I used before I got my farm. I still grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in my south facing kitchen windows every winter.

There are at least a dozen different plants that grow well in containers. The packet will say "space saver" or "container" on it letting the consumer know that the plant will do well in containers. I have also used regular garden varieties in containers but you must take into consideration the growing patterns of the plant and the root needs as well. A regular tomato plant needs at least a 5 gallon bucket worth of root space so even tho it will grow indoors, the size of it's container makes it a bit awkward for container growing. The space saver tomato varieties work so much better. Also, garden variety cucumbers tend to vine all over your growing space so the bushy type cucumbers work better for container growing.

Another thing to keep in mind... most of us don't have insects flying around in our homes all winter so when each of your container plants flowers, you must hand pollenate them to produce. It's not difficult or complicated, I simply use a q-tip and go from flower to flower on each plant using a new q-tip when changing from peppers to tomatoes, etc. Just rub the q-tip lightly around the flower, then to the next one and when you finish, go back to the flower you started with. Fruits every time with that method.

Patio fruit trees are an excellent project for small spaces. There are several varieties available mail order. I prefer mail order to nursery purchases, I like Starks Brothers and Miller Nurseries, never had one plant from them not grow. Peaches, apples, cherries, oranges, lemons, limes and olives are available for container growing. They do of course, need their dormant time thru the winter like all fruiting trees. Just put them in a garage if you have one or bank them with some sort of insulating material like straw bales to prevent root freeze, keep the soil lightly moist like the outside soil and let them be dormant. In the spring as temps rise and the rays of the sun change, the tree will bud out and prepare to flower and you're on the way to fresh home grown fruits again.

My personal opinion on those growing bags that you hang, upside down buckets for tomatoes, etc... waste of time. The bags burn up and I think genetics work against you hanging the tomato upside down! People seem to make simple errors and get discouraged and go off to try the latest weird trick to get the reward. Soil nutrient and root space and proper moisture is all you need. You can do this!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Self Sustained Urban Living with style

These are photos of what I've been talking about. Leokat75 turned her backyard into a free grocery for her family. Kat keeps chickens and rabbits in her backyard as well. Like I've been saying, it doesn't matter where you live, you can feed yourself with some creative planning and a little bit of follow-thru! Good job LeoKat75! This is a backyard to be proud of!

Friday, November 14, 2008

self sustained living with home made bread

I've been baking my own bread for several years now but for some people, the thought of baking bread can be a bit scary. It really isn't and the rewards outweigh any fears you ever had.

While searching the web for some variations on what I've been baking, I came across this wonderful website, the Hillbilly Housewife.

It's full of frugal living tips and baking recipes and easy, step by step bread baking! A well put together site full of great tips and tricks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Self Sustained living

As many of us have realized, things are getting pretty expensive lately. Fuel and food take up most of our paychecks. Life in the fast lane of Blackberries, cell phones, fast food and video gaming is getting harder. Some would say that is a good thing. Either way you like it, something has got to give.

I can help you with the grocery bill no matter where you live, even in condos and apartments. It is not difficult to grow things such as tomatoes and peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, even melons in small spaces and containers! A sunny spot is all you need. If you don't have a sunny spot, a florescent light will do. You don't need to waste your money on the "grow lamp" bulbs, the white light bulbs do just fine. If you don't feel like that is going to do it for you, you can always use the bulbs designed for fish tanks, readily available at Lowes or Home Depot.

For people living in rental homes, you can expand a little with a small chicken coop built like a dog pen or even rabbits in wooden hutches. The hutches even work well for a few chickens. Remember tho, if you have crabby neighbors, don't get a rooster! Chickens are daylight sensitive and lay an egg every 24 to 28 hours so plan accordingly for your egg consumption. Just 6 hens give me 3 dozen eggs a week, give or take an egg here or there.
In an 8x10 coop with a 10x10 run, I have 4 to 6 fresh eggs every day and fresh meat whenever I want some chicken. How to kill a chicken will be another days post.

Remember my post on raised bed gardens? For those of you that have the opportunity to make a raised bed, I forgot to mention how easy they are to maintain! It is easy to cover the garden in the fall with grass clippings, even newspaper or paper sacks, anything organic that will decompose, kill off the weeds, add to the nutrient value of the soil and keep your soil easy to turn. Just one small raised bed garden here produces literally hundreds of pounds of healthy, pesticide free food for my family.

Now to rabbits- I keep 2 does and 2 bucks, I breed every other month for 12 to 18 kits for the table. Rabbit is high protein, low fat and can be served up just like any chicken recipe you have.
Rabbits don't make any noise, their manure is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potash and can be used right out of the rabbit, no composting needed. It will not burn your plants like cow or horse or chicken will. Rabbit is a win win situation! Small spaces work out well as a medium sized meat rabbit needs just 2'x2' to stay healthy and produce for you.

All these things add up to savings. Think about how much money you spend on food stuffs like meat and veges. Canning is easy to do and cooking is just as easy. Think about how much money you spend eating out. A healthy and tasty meal can be whipped up in your own kitchen for a third of the price if not cheaper than that, for just 20 minutes or so of your time. Plus, you get to spend a little quiet time at home relaxing while you do it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

raised bed gardening

Raised beds are great for areas with poor soil or for a contained gardening area. I used all compost from the farm for the humus in my raised beds. Old oak timbers from the local coal mine I picked up dirt cheap.