KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Month: August 2014 (page 1 of 2)

a few ways to save: wedding on the homestead

with our wedding less than a month away now, we’ve realized that there are many ways to save money while planning a homestead wedding like ours. some of these ideas don’t apply to traditional weddings, or indoor weddings, but they work perfectly for what we’re doing:

  • save on the price and hassle of renting chairs by buying hay bales and 10’x10″x2″ boards for seating. for us,renting chairs would be about $1.50 a chair plus the coordination necessary to truck 100+ seats 45 minutes away into the country and pick them up the next day (talk about delivery fees). by buying hay bales and boards we’re able to add to our collection of homestead resources: we can use the hay for mulch and the boards for building a heavy-duty structure in the future. this at only the cost of $2.50 per seat.
  • make your wedding favors. make it something personal from your farm, and your guests will appreciate the personal touch and the time you spent making it for them.
  • need cocktail tables for all of your guests to place their drinks on? try upending large metal barrels and placing a piece of larger wood on them to serve as table tops. slap a table cloth on that baby and you’ve got yourself a sturdy cocktail table.
  • need extra regular sized tables? well, if you have any extra doors lying around, lay them on stools or lower barrels and use them to serve your food and drinks.

just a few creative, low budget ways to have the homestead wedding that you’ve been dreaming of without the cost!

.:.

wedding prep: pruning and trimming the bushes and trees

today after work i continued my epic, month-until-the-wedding, preparation for the big day!

after i finished all of the usual chores, i decided that i felt like pruning the boxwood bushes in the front of our house. we hadn’t pruned them since we moved in, and they were looking a little wild and crazy. it was a success! this sort of thing is so fun…

trimmed bushes!

trimmed bushes!

i also trimmed some lower limb off of trees in the yard and ended up using our new hedge trimmers (thanks grandma!), a pair of nippers, and a leaf rake to shake all of the trimmed branches off of the bush to be sure i hadn’t missed any spots. it was a great time, especially since bridey was decided to hangout with me!

boxwood trimming: my rake, shears, and nippers

boxwood trimming: my rake, shears, and nippers

my pal bridey, taking a nap.

my pal bridey, taking a nap.

.:.

 

getting the land ready for the wedding!

first of all, jason, my dad, and i  spent last saturday cleaning out and organizing the area around the barn. it was a really long, hard work day, but extremely fun overall and rewarding. here’s what the barn looks like now (check out my post about revealing the barn to see what kind of junk was in it/around it before):

 

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the area around the back of the barn where we’ve stacked useful items that don’t need to be kept out of the elements.

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more stuff!

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and more…

tomorrow my dad and i are going to do a lot of work in the yard to get the area cleaned up and looking good for the wedding. here’s what we plan on doing (hopefully we’ll get it all done!):

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cleaning all of the junk out of this trailer and moving the trailer if we’re strong enough!

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relocating this hugelkulture wood pile.

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moving these bundles of brush and removing the leaves so they can be used in our wattle fencing.

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moving all of this organic matter from around the station wagon in the front yard and finding it a new home in a compost pile.

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clearing these heavy, rusty, old appliances out of the way so they’re not in view.

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and if we have time: moving all of this trash/junk from a spot on our land where a trailer used to be (years ago).

so, wish us luck!

.:.

too many tomatoes (is there such a thing?)

do you have too many tomatoes and you need to process them before they go bad?

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why, make tomato sauce, of course!!!

.:.

 

Steripen Water Purification: Field Testing and Review

Do you ever go camping or hiking? What do you for water when your miles from civilization and the comforts of tap and bottled water? What if you need to drink questionable water after a storm, like a hurricane that damages the water lines or knocks out power to pump your well? How would you ensure that you have access to clean water, one of the most important items for day to day survival and prepardness?

Enter the steripen, a lightweight, portable device that uses UV light to kill bacteria, viruses, and other potential contaminates in your water. It zaps these pesky buggers, and keeps them from proliferating to dangerous levels, and allows you to safely consume water from streams, springs, lakes, and water tanks.

steripen review

the steripen is a great way to quickly and easily make water safe to drink

I recently tested the steripen on a week long Appalachian trail hike and was more than satisfied with it. Compared to chemical treatments it’s safer, and let’s you taste the freshness of the water.I think it’s easier than a filter, all you have to do is insert the lamp into your water bottle, and then shake until the light goes off. There are 2 settings, .5 l or less and .5 – 1 liters. The whole system is perfect for a bpa free Nalgene bottle and fits easily in your pocket.

Check out the video we shot of the steripen in action, and you’ll see just how easy it is to guarantee yourself safe and delicious water, whether you’re thru-hiking the trail or without water after a natural disaster.

Check out the steripen classic on amazon, or the whole line of steripen products.

Greening the Desert with Geoff Lawton

In 2003, in the dead sea valley of Jordan, one of the world’s hottest, driest and most inhospitable pieces of land, permaculture practitioner Geoff Lawton and his crew implemented a design to regreen, reforest and bring life back to the desert. Their goal was to create an oasis in the most difficult location on Earth, a showcase to the world that the ethical design science of permaculture can solve some of the big problems.

They installed swales, water catching ditches on contour, to rehydrate the overgrazed land and store the few inches of rain they receive in the soil where it nurtured the dates, figs, pomegranates and other fruit trees that were planted in addition to fast growing, hardy nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs.

Unfortunately, funding ran out for the project, and it was completely abandoned for 6 years. In perhaps the harshest environment on earth, the young trees and plants where left on their own, with no irrigation, fertilization or care at all.

Yet when Geoff returned, instead of withering up dying, the trees thrived and produced an abundance not seen in the “fertile crescent” for hundreds if not thousands of years. The swales stored 100% of the runoff and rain, and supplied enough water to bring the system into maturity and abundance in 122 degree weather. A patch of life in a sea of brown.

It’s truly an amazing sight and story, and proof that the techniques and concepts of permaculture can produce abundance, fertility and life in any environment. Check out the video, which shows both the original design after implementation, and what the site looked like 6 years later.

farm food friday: homemade cherokee purple tomato sauce!

we’re finally back with another edition of farm food friday, and this recipe, once again, is all about tomatoes. i know we’ve been on a posting kick about tomatoes lately, but once you have one of our cherokee purples you’ll understand why…

the other day we made some homemade tomato sauce, and although i’ve frozen a ton of tomatoes for sauce ingredients, we had enough fresh ones to make use them for our sauce.

ingredients (keep in mind that you should add as much as you desire for each of these):

using our awesome new sauce pan (it's still shiny!).

using our awesome new sauce pan (it’s still shiny!).

directions:

  • we used our new, huge, awesome sauce pan to be sure we made a lot!
  • saute sliced garlics in olive oil and then add onions
  • once these have cooked for a few minutes, add your sliced/diced cherokee purple tomatoes (from the garden); cut the heat to medium
  • as this cooks begin boiling your water for the pasta
  • add capers, sriracha sauce, and salt and pepper to taste
  • let it cook down more, being careful to stir it often so the thickening tomato doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
  • add sliced and diced bell peppers (our’s were from the garden)
  • add lemon thyme and basil (also from the garden)
  • continue letting it cook down and add a few pinches of parmesan cheese to thicken the sauce and make it a bit creamier… this also adds bite.
delicious cherokee purple tomato sauce!

delicious cherokee purple tomato sauce!

as i’ve mentioned before, cherokee purples are sweeter tasting and less acidic, so i find that there is no need to add anything to the sauce to tone down natural acidity. that makes this dish a delicious and easy-to-make meal any day of the week!

and the great thing about cooking in our kitchen: there’s always leftover scraps to feed to our flock of chickens!

this recipe's scraps... chickens here we come!

this recipe’s scraps… chickens here we come!

next up… making more of this sauce and freezing it in ready-to-go containers.

.:.

Homemade Homestead Pizza!

In my post about some of the differences between living in the country vs the city (which include thinking that anywhere other than rural Stokes county = the city), I mentioned that it took us a whole year before we  found a pizza place that would deliver to our house. While delivery pizza is great for nights you just don’t feel like cooking, nothing beats a homemade pie crisp and fresh from the oven.While we haven’t yet made our own pizza dough, we do use either frozen pizza doughs from the store, or more often, tortillas.

homemade pizza garden

a fresh tortilla, with sliced cherokee purple tomatoes and california wonder peppers is a great base for garden pizza

But the best part about homemade pizza is that you get complete control over your toppings. No having to split, or compromise with friends or significant others about meat lovers vs. veggie supreme. This especially holds true with tortilla, “personal pan” pizzas, where each person gets their own pizza to create and eat.

garden pizza

add some jalepenos…

garden pizza homemade

and some onions and chorizo…

Some of our favorite toppings are the ones we pick fresh from the garden. Tomatoes, basil, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and jalepenos all make great pizza toppings. Add some sausage, or chorizo, and some garlic olive oil, and your in for a fun night.

homemade pizza from the garden

add some olive oil, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, than bake until golden brown at 375

We use thick slices of homegrown cherokee purple tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, and a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. A little salt, and a drizzle of oil really brings it all together, and makes it all but impossible for any leftovers to survive.

garden pizza

yum!

Garden pizza! A delicious way to save some some money and get a full helping of nutrient dense veggies form the garden! No, the chickens won’t be eating any of this pizza!

 

growing tomatoes: why we love our tomato varieties

let me start by saying that we will always grow tomatoes… no matter what! we are in love with freshly grown tomatoes! whether we’re pickling green ones or eating BOT sandwiches, we’ll certainly have tomatoes on the vine.

they are an amazing food: versatile, delicious, and if you pick the right variety, super duper nutritious.

our very favorite slicing tomato, one that i grew up eating and that we’ve recently realized also makes an excellent pasta sauce is the cherokee purple. supposedly the seeds from the cherokee were passed on from the cherokee  tribe beginning before the 1900s, and have been grown ever since. this makes it an heirloom tomato, and it sure is great. dark purple/red in color with a green top when ripe, we consider it to be a very meaty, dense tomato that tastes less acidic than your average tomato. this taste profile makes it fantastic on a tomato sandwich, especially when the slices are thick. it’s also great in soups and sauces since the sweetness of the tomato really shines through.

the ripened base of the cherokee purple, champion of tomatoes!

the ripened base of a cherokee purple, champion of tomatoes!

the top of the cherokee purple (yes, it's ripe... just cut around the very green spots).

the top of the cherokee purple (yes, it’s ripe… just cut around the very green spots). the brown lines are where the tomato burst open from all of the rain we got the last two days. you can see that the spots have healed over naturally.

we’re also growing two types of paste tomatoes, the san marzano and the black plum paste tomato. jason and i both feel that the black plum is the “cherokee purple” of paste tomatoes. colored much the same and similar in its less acidic flavor, it’s also super creamy. we were surprised by this, but i guess that’s what makes it a great paste tomato… being creamy instead of watery!

san marzano on the left, black plum on the right.

san marzano on the left, black plum on the right.

the san marzano is a bright red tomato that is also creamy. together, these two paste tomatoes give us the best of both worlds: the flavor of the black plum is superior but the san marzano seems to be more fruitful and grows larger tomatoes.

this tomato triad is an exciting combination for future soups and sauces. we’ve already frozen some mixed batches, with all three tomato types included. stay tuned for a farm food friday fresh tomato sauce recipe!

.:.

Understanding Nutrient Density

The modern western diet, a diet high in carbohydrates, grains, sugar, processed foods and low in saturated fat, vegetables and fruits has many flaws, chief among them is a complete disregard for micronutirents, minerals, and vitamins. Sure, the USDA and FDA pay lip service to a select number of vitamins and minerals, but as the quality of our food has decreased, it is all but impossible for modern agriculture to supply us with even these limited nutrients. The recommendation then becomes to take supplements. The problem is, many of these supplements are completely useless, or worse, potentially harmful to your health.

Take for example calcium supplements, the standard recommendation for decades to fight bone density problems, which have been linked to increases in heart disease, breast cancer and may actually worsen bone strength.  Bones are made up of more than calcium, and if you overload your body with calcium it displaces the other essential minerals in your bones, and the rest ends up in places in your body that it shouldn’t be, like your arteries. (Check out Dr. Mercola’s article on Calcium supplements and The Calcium Lie by Dr. Robert Thompson for more information.)

nutrient dense foods

freshly picked garden carrots,  a nutrient dense and delicious vegetable treat

So how do you ensure that you and your family get the nutrients you need to be healthy? By eating whole, nutrient dense foods prepared in traditionally ways. Let’s look at calcium again. Instead of a pill, you can make bone broth. Bone broth is a rich broth made from bones that have been simmered for anywhere from 4-36 hours. This extracts all of the minerals in the bone, the very minerals that make up your bones, not just calcium. Other good sources of calcium are dark leafy greens and raw milk and cheese from grass fed cows, as well as unprocessed sea salt.

The key here is to eat foods that are nutrient dense. Foods that are bursting with the nutrients and minerals necessary for health and life. Raw milk for example contains anywhere from 100-400 % more of certain vitamins and minerals than pasteurized milk. This means that for every glass of raw milk, you would need to drink 2-4 glasses of pasteurized milk to get the same amount of nutrition. If we add to that the fact that animals raised on pasture have better fatty acid, and nutrient profiles in their meat, eggs, and milk than those fed only grains, it’s easy to see that a glass of pastuerized milk from corn fed cows is not a nutrient dense food.

Grains are particularly empty foods, with very little nutrient content. When you add to this agricultural processes that have killed soil life and require the dumping of petroleum based fertilizers in order to get a yield, and a policy that a grain based diet is healthier than one based on high quality animal fats and vegetables, it’s not hard to see why America is full of overweight people suffering from nutrient deficiencies and disease.  You are what you eat.

nutrient dense foods

pastured animal products are more nutrient dense than those fed a diet mainly of corn and soy

We can change this by growing food in ways that restore the biology of the soil and allowing the nutrient cycles between plants, bacteria, fungi and animals to recover. This can’t be solved with more sprays, synthetic fertilizers, and tilling all of which destroy the soil structure and lead to food that is devoid of any nutrition. Compost, and compost teas in addition to tree crops and support species whose roots are able to mine nutrients from deep in the subsoil and bring them up for other crops to use. Our farms need livestock to reminaralize the soil. We need to chose foods rich in nutrition like nuts, seafood, lard, and fresh vegetables. We need to take these nutrient rich foods and eat them whole, or processed in traditional ways like fermentation and drying.

You are what you eat, and we need to eat food that was grown in healthy soil. We need to eat animal products that ate healthy plants that were grown on healthy soil. We need to start as soon as possible, and do as much as we can, even if it’s only 10% of our diet at first. Head to the farmers market and ask them how they grow their food. Are they part of agritrue, a transparency program that helps everyone know how their food was grown? Join a CSA, or start growing some of your own food, even if it’s just some herbs in a pot. It’s addictive, and soon enough you’ll be looking for other ways to garden, or even contemplating a fruit tree investment. whatever you do, keep trying to find the most nutrient dense food available, whether it’s organic produce, vegetables from your backyard, pastured eggs from your neighbor up the street, or lard from pigs rotationally grazed in a permaculture or restoration agriculture system.

 

Resources

The Weston A. Price Foundation – Great information on eating nutrient dense foods and how to prepare and find them

Nourishing Traditions – A great book from Sally Fallon, the co-founder of the Weston A. Price foundation, that goes into what, and how to eat, with recipes and facts that will keep you reading for hours.

Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care – Similar to the above, but shorter, sweeter, and tailored to providing a healthy and nutritious life for children that begins before pregnancy.

Dr. Mercola – A brilliant doctor who looks past the propaganda and marketing of industry and government to find the truth about health

Agritrue – Focused on letting consumers find the best food in their area, and letting them see exactly how it’s grown.

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