Thursday, November 16, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Working In The Winter




November 16, 2017

When Winter comes around most people think about gardening time being over completely and they buy what fresh produce they want at the grocery store but when the goal is to be off the grid there is no grocery store and you keep growing food year round. 

It has taken me much longer that I have anticipated to get the green house together and with things living and growing. 


Progress Around The Homestead :



When I got the white plastic barrels home I still had to paint them and I knew it would take a lot of spray paint and at $1 per can.  I could estimate that I would be spending to much for such a small amount of paint, I also looked at the quarts of black paint and once again $9 seems liked to much plus it was enamel so I opted for a gallon of black paint, while is still is costly at $18 per gallon I have so much left over for other up coming projects.

 I finally got a day off, Wednesday, and I used this day to work on the greenhouse needs only, since I knew colder weather is headed in next week I wanted to get a heat source in place.

First I got the barrels painted, I gave them two coats, and got them inside and filled with water. I placed three in the back so that the morning sun hits those and one by the front so the evening sun hits that one.



Next I placed the table I will use right now inside and I potted up my first greenhouse project, Confederate Jasmine cuttings. This will be a way to make money in the Spring. I already have Confederate Roses rooted and they have new leaves. 




From the Garden / Greenhouse :

I have not harvested anything this past week but a mess of greens for a meal. But I can see the Swiss chard / Beets growing and I am excited because this is my first time growing these. 


In the new greenhouse I have a baby tomato and one turned red already, soon more will be re-potted so they will grow better.

The Stockpile :



I was lucky to get a couple of cabbages from Aldi grocery store for .69 each, I sliced them up and froze those, I will have cabbage when I want it, I also bought 20 pounds of Irish potatoes for .19 per pounds and that is cheap taters around here! I plan to put them into jars, just potatoes and also in soup. I have ate all the soup stock and now I need to take a day and make more.

Learning :

I am at it again with the books, as I get older I need the books, the real in my hand paper books, so I bought how to deal with diabetes off grid. Now I know I can cure myself, the Doctor even told me how, with food. I am often thinking about, if I don`t know my numbers how would I deal with it?  I am not so sure there is an answer for that question. So now I am learning more about vitamins and what I need to eat to keep up those vitamin in my system so that my blood sugar will stay level.

I am also waiting on another DIY homestead book. What can I say? I like to build things :)


Do you have plans for your homestead this Winter? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry





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Monday, November 13, 2017

8 Tips To Save Money On Heat This Winter




Its that time of the year again when we have to think about turning the heat on and what most of us hate to see, the rising cost of keeping warm. But there are a few things we can do that will help the blow of opening that bill and seeing the amount owed each month.

No matter how we heat out homes, electric or gas these tips will help keep you warmer.

1 - Insulation is the best way to keep the hot in and the cold out.  If you have an attic or basement make sure both or either are insulated. 

The heat goes up! and we do not want it going into a space that is not used.

Make sure that crawl space holes, under the house, are covered with something, a board or piece of tin to keep the cold air out, cold circulation under the house will make the floors very cold and could cause pipes to freeze and burst








2-  Stop air coming from windows.

Check all your windows and make sure that they still have all the putty in them, check around the entire window frame and make sure the calk is still in place. If its a no, then this is a simple job anyone can do. Buy a tube of calk for windows and doors, with a utility knife cit the top at a slanted angle so that as you apply it, its going where you want it with minimal lost.

If you live in an older home do not hesitate to put up plastic over the windows to keep the heat in!





3- Close those Plug In`s and dryer vents

Have you ever put a candle by a plug in? Do that and see is air flow is coming in, if so then buy a pack of safety plug in covers, that will stop that air.

Check the dryer vent pipe, does it have an opening? If so buy a can of the stuff, its a foam spray insulation, use it minimally because it tends to swell and that should stop that air.






4 - Use the heat in the ceiling

Push the heat in the ceiling back down with a ceiling fan, all heat rises so flip the setting to counter clockwise to push the heat back down, you will fell the difference.




5- Use free heat!

In the day open the blind and curtains. The natural heat from the sun will warm your house more than you imagine. Using the south side of your home as a natural heater by simply opening the curtains and blinds and allow nature to give back, free.





7 - Dress for Winter

I am sure that most people don`t have to be told to wear clothes to be warm, but there are a few items that some may not own and should. 

If you stay at home invest in several pairs of sweat pants, these are extra thick and comfortable, stay warmer and invest in the tops also.

When you go outside and you love your jeans but still get cold fast, buy a few pairs of insulated underwear, or as we call them " long Johns" these will help keep the cold off your skin and the heat in. The best part is they will fit under your pants and not look bulky.

Most people stopped wearing hats but I am one that will wear a hat, not so much inside but outside? its a yes. Nowadays we can look pretty with hats or beenies, they come in so many styles and colors. From casual to dressy but the hats and beenies will keep you warmer because you lose most of the body heat through the head. 


8 - Sleeping 

Most people know that when the temps are just right we tend to sleep better and that is usually when the air is cooler.

Sleep like a baby by turning down the nighttime heat and pile on the blankets and quilts. You can add to if you get cold or toss back when to hot but you will find that just right warmth and sleep well. 





I am sure everyone has the common sense to :

Keep the doors closed 

Have your heating device serviced

Close fireplace dampers when not in use

Wrap the electric water heater with an insulating blanket

Use glass screen doors if possible


I am sure these tips will help save you money on heating, stay warm and enjoy the coming winter with a cheaper heating bill.


Andria Perry

Photos by Andria Perry

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - A Bad Case Of.....




November  9, 2017

After a week of cold we got the normal temperatures back that is the 70`s as highs and the upper 50`s at night. My kind of weather! But at this time of the year we bounce back and forth with the cold and hot, like a slow smooth tango.

 I know I cannot live in Alabama and hope for tropical weather so I will have to go with whatever mother nature brings, as old man Winter comes a knocking.


Progress  Around the Homestead :

Saturday was a free day so we went down to the place to buy a few of the plastic drums and see what else this old guy has sitting around we might use around here. I could not believe that the place was closed on a Saturday around 2 pm! If I were a betting woman I bet it had something to do with college football.


When Monday came around I made sure that I went by there but first I also made sure I only took $50, I would get what I needed for $50 or go elsewhere. Of coarse this guy wanted more but he let go of $10 and gave me four barrels for the $50.


 I will paint them black, place them inside the greenhouse, fill with water. As the days gets hot they will absorb heat and at night they will radiate the heat out into the space to keep it warm.

From The Garden : 


I have kale. I have turnip greens and turnips. 


I have Swiss Chard (aka beets) Other than that I have nothing. 

But..... I have tomato plants in the greenhouse ready to be re-potted into large containers, maybe have some ripe tomatoes in January? 

The Stockpile :



This week I did not shop for much of nothing. But I did pick a huge sack of kale and I home canned four pints, not much but a start for re-stocking. 

Learning :

I have ordered yet another book, this one is specifically on foraging in my area of the USA.



The more I walk around my woods the more I learn, Sunday I noticed several types of wild mushrooms. 



The red mushroom I know is a big no no, the photo does not do this red mushroom justice, it is bright.



Next I seen clusters of mushrooms, they all had a hint of purple on top.



I am not sure why one was upturned but I got the underside of it.

And last I seen one brown mushroom, after I had left the camera back at the house.

I am certain that all of these are NOT edible but its a learning experience each and every time I study a mushroom. 

And.....

I also received my new book on foraging and I am disappointed at how little this book shows. I need a book that shows what I can eat here in Alabama, not Northeast! But that is how we all get stuck buying the books, they NEVER tell us where they are foraging. Another live and learn experience. 


By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry





Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - The Freeze Came



November 1,2017

No this freeze was not predicted, sure they said 38 degrees for October 27th. but not a freeze, it is a little early this year.  I no longer have any thing but cold weather foods growing in the garden. It all melted.

Progress  Around the Homestead :

Dead and melted plants 2017 Vegetable garden


October 31st.

Since everything was dead I got the riding mower out and I cleaned off the garden area. 

First I gathered all the tomato cages, stacked them into three sections and took those up to the shed for storage, I made this investment this year so that I can use them for many years to come, so I will take care of my cages.



There was a few paper plates that had blown into the garden that I picked up and one I did not see got chewed up.

I did do thirty minutes out in th back grown up field, I almost got it mowed down, all five feet tall.

We spent one afternoon working on the dogs area in the back yard, the electric fence project and got so much accomplished. I also got something I did not want, poison oak, my arms are covered in those tiny itching blisters. :(

So, I asked Tony if he could handle doing the back yard electric fence while I mowed the garden to get double the work done, he said "yes." Life is much easier when I have help, this year I have not had much at all.


From The Garden : 



I have not picked anything but I did get all the bell peppers before the freeze, thank God. I had left a baby and it melted.

I do plan to gather a mess of kale to can one day this week.

The Stockpile :



Since I do not have anything but greens to can I bought more meat, a whole pork tenderloin, it was on sale and I got nearly five pounds for around $7.00 I got five pint jars and two meals so that is around $1.00 per Pint and it can and will be made into meals like pork and rice that can feed two people.



I also made extremely hot and spicy pickled sausages for this man that is allowing Tony to deer hunt on his land, I made five pints. He asked for hot and that is what I made.

You might also like : Cooking from the stockpile  

Learning :

I do not think I did any learning the past few days, I have for the most part been working and not much thinking about new stuff.

How is life on your home stead? 

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Friday, October 27, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - One Crazy Week!

October 27, 2017

The past six days have been crazy, from rain to cold and the wind! 

After getting the greenhouse plastic turned and place right, the wind blew for days and that was the test, the greenhouse did not pass this test and the back plastic came down after a couple days. And the front was blowing like a sheet in the wind. The wind also blew over the stand I had the houseplants on, so they were scattered inside.

Progress  Around the Homestead :

Spooky the cat, not helping!


Sunday after church I got busy on finishing the gate for the deck, I need one as extra protect for the cat, from dogs and coyotes. Afterwards I cleaned off the deck, loaded the plants and shelves, took them down to the greenhouse on the back of the truck. Sunday night we had a rainstorm with winds and the plastic came down on the back of the greenhouse.

Monday was a do nothing day because of a doctor appointment but Tuesday? That was the work day for me and the homestead.



First I already made the date with my friend to gather pecans so we got that done, had a blast telling stories while picking up the pecans, We picked up me a five gallon bucket full and then I am hoping my friend nearly five gallons, she had a box or two, I had an old paint bucket. BUT I did not go empty handed, I took another bag of kale and turnip greens from the garden.

Next was find the black pipe needed to make clamps as discussed in the book " How to make a greenhouse" instruction but I could not find any at Home Depot so I got the pipe at my sisters house, worked  just fine.

Wednesday morning we put the back plastic back up and used the  black pipe as clamps.

From The Garden : 

I have to say I have nothing but a little okra and just greens, however, I will say that the beets / Swiss chard is coming up as well.

The Stockpile :

After looking at the stockpile last week I decided to all more meals in a jar and not just the plain vegetable, fruit or a jar of meat. Sure I can plan meals with what I have but sometimes it nice to come on and just cook rice and grab a jar and pour it over the rice. So I have been working on that type of home canning. 

For More Click Here : Making Meals

Beans and Wieners

Sweet and sour chicken


This week I made seven pints beans and wieners and seven pints Sweet and Sour chicken. I will pop open one of the sweet and sour chicken here soon to make sure it came out right, it did not turn out pretty as I thought it would. I also canned seven more pints of white potatoes because I got an eight pound bag for $2.50 and that was cheap.



Learning :

I got the book I order but its not what I expected, if its the one I did actually order. I assumed it would be a book on mushrooms that grow wild in the Southeastern US but instead I got " A field guide to the Southeastern states" put out by The National Audubon Society. Its a good little book but it does not express "edible" on any of the few pages of mushrooms, or wild plants. Buying books online you never know what you are getting at all.

Now I am sure people are wondering what I do with all these home canned goods so soon, November, I will be linking my other blog " Cooking With Angie" to this blog so you will know how I use all this food I am canning and stockpiling, I will provide full recipes. 

Till next time....

You might also like : Cooking with Angie 

By Andria Perry
Photo By Andria Perry

Friday, October 20, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - A Scattered Week

fresh Kale 
October 20, 2017


I usually call life like this past week bouncing but scattered suits it better because while I did not finish anything I did make a few accomplishments, when bouncing you do not see very much of anything.

I have began the bartering with a friend, greens for pecans. Although I would give her greens for nothing in return and I know she would for me, I still feel better to give something for what I get. I dropped off a medium size mess of greens and I will pick up pecans next week and if the greens are big enough take another mess of greens with me that day.


Progress  Around the Homestead :

unfinished greenhouse


I did not have to take the plastic off the greenhouse because the unexpected rain and wind of last Sunday night did that for me, so I straightened out the wet plastic and turned it the right way so that two pieces could be put up. Tony came down to the field and helped, a bit mouthy but I made do with the help. Although its not done yet its well on its way. 

I have a few odd and end shelves to put inside until I can make shelves. I still have to get the heat source bought. I will try to buy those cheaper if I can possibly get the man to go down on his prices. 

I did very little work on the back yard for the dogs, I left Harley tied to a chain stake and he escaped! Broke his collar and took off into the neighbors field. Tony got the truck and Roscoe hopped on the back as I got in the front, off to find Harley. We rode down the rode and not in sight through the waist high grass, so Tony heard him, I got out opened the tailgate for Roscoe and said " Go get Harley," I watched Roscoe go straight to him, I had to tote Harley across the field and Roscoe ran back home. This is why I will use the electric fence. This was the reason I did not get much accomplished in the back, chasing Harley the beagle.


I did get a few of the basil babies transplanted, this is for my in home use, the rest will be potted up and hopefully sold next year, if its Gods will.



What`s In The Garden :




This is just a repeat of last week, a little more okra and new greens.


And the lemons are turning yellow and I will soon use them, maybe I will make a sugar free lemon cheese pie. 

I must remember to check and see if I have Swiss chard aka beets coming up, I forgot all about them.

The Stock Pile :

This week I did not put anything from the garden into jars. However, I did put to use the carrots and potatoes that needed to be eaten or canned and I used the dry beans, making meals. 

I have canned meats, vegetables and fruits but not so many meals in a jar and that is what I need. That quick homemade soup or chili. 

I made 14 pints of chili, seven with pinto beans and hamburger and seven with red beans, to suit the taste of everyone in the house.


I also made a Seven pints vegetable soup loaded with vegetables so one pint will fill you up! 

Learning :

This week was a working week, for both jobs. The landlady job and the caregiver job. I did not learn much and I am waiting on the new mushroom book I ordered last week. 


How is life going on your homestead?

By Andria Perry
Photos By Andria Perry

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Getting Off The Grid - Not Happy And Stockpiling



October 15, 2017

While my week was very busy working, the paying job, I did manage to get a few things accomplished around the homestead. A couple of hours of work can make a huge difference. Today is Sunday and I will work outside today. 

Progress  Around the Homestead :

We only had a few hours to work so we took on the backyard again, cutting down the rest of those over grown shrubs that had turned into trees. 

While Tony cut them down I stacked them, I am making a shorter fence with many of the branches that I did not haul off to the edge of the property, The dogs sat with us, watching and playing.

I am sure its clear enough to put up the electric fence and get the dogs back into the area and allowed to run loose once again. BUT I had better clean out what I want out or it will be harder to do later with them underfoot.


We also got the plastic up and over the greenhouse but its not staying this way, Tony insisted putting the plastic this way and he did not understand how I wanted it to be and it would be completely closed in except the front, I finally drew it out how it would work my way and cost less and be less work. So that will be changed here soon. 

Whats In The Garden :

I am still getting Okra and I am now getting a mess of greens, but I am also getting pests so I will have to treat this problem before thy eat them up.


I harvested another round of banana peppers this week, and I have another putting on, I am sure these will last till a freeze just like the okra, seems they love the fall weather.




The Spring crop of lemons got picked yesterday, yes they are still green but they turn yellow soon after they are picked, I could have left them longer but the Fall new babies need all the plant can give them at this point. There is six huge lemons.


The Stock Pile :

As most of you know I love mushrooms in just about everything and I do not grow mushrooms so when Aldi grocery store has them on sale I stock up, so far its about every three months the sale comes around. I bought twelve 8 ounce packs of white button mushrooms for .69 each package. I home canned seven pints, so that took about nine packages. I kept three packages fresh to cook with now.

I home canned two pints of sweet banana peppers as well as having enough to eat with our bean and greens dinners.

Once a week I have a meal with okra, the rest is put into the freezer sliced to fry or add to soups and whole for making boiled okra pods with butter.

From another grocery store I managed to use coupons and restock canned goods.  Del Monte sweet peas, sweet corn and spinach for .40 per can, I had more coupons to get diced tomatoes for .26 per can. I got 16 cans of each except for corn, just 4 cans of it since I am the only person who eats it.

Learning More About Foraging  :

While I have read a book and watched many videos,  I still ordered a new book about mushrooms, one that covers the South with more details and photos of the mushrooms in this area. However, I did learn more from watching the experts on Youtube, how to tell mushrooms apart.

Last week when hanging new keep out signs, no hunting on this property, I seen so many type of mushrooms, sure some had dried up but I know they are there now and they are edible. Although these photos are not that good I will share them anyways.
  

I found many turkey tails, some dried up and some not. 

Turkey tail mushrooms, dried up.

A day old - Turkey tail mushrooms




Tony found a Chanterelle, which are edible. But we only took one to come inside and make sure what it is.
one day old Chanterelle  mushroom



While at work I seen these growing inside the tree that is rotting, but these are NOT edible.  I learned from the experts about spore patterns and when its brown do not eat this mushroom.
Wild mushroom on tree


Spore pattern of tree mushroom - Not edible 


I know that many will say better to go buy them than to fall over dead but those people do underestimate my intelligence, I am not about to just pick and eat anything growing wild. I will educate myself before I choose to pick and eat any mushroom and I will cook it thoroughly as recommended by the experts. 

Remember I did not just begin my journey last week or even last year, I have been on this journey all my life and I refuse to stop till I can live off the grid, nicely and not in need, and be able to feed myself when a disaster hits or when the SHTF situation arises. 

For more about the greenhouse click here : The Greenhouse and more 

What knowledge do you have that you would share? 

By Andria Perry
Photos by Andria Perry