Sunday, June 30, 2013

DIY Preparing for New Home

It is both an exciting and tiring time here at the Carter Homestead. We have signed on our new house. We are getting a very nice double wide that we were able to customize for us. It is scheduled to be set up this coming Wednesday.

 We are doing a lot of the work ourselves which is not only saving us a good bit of money, it is also providing a lot of teaching opportunities. I believe it should be every person's desire to teach someone else any and all skills they possess. I do not think this should be just between fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. Everyone should be willing to learn and teach.

I have come to the sad realization that have changed from the DIY culture to the DIFM (Do It For Me). I can understand doing a cost benefit analysis and determining that a person's time would be better spent making an income than doing a project. In these circumstances I can understand a person paying someone else to do a project, but I have seen adults pay other people to assemble a lamp. A LAMP! This is not the first time I have lamented people's unwillingness to learn.(Please see Really You Must Be Kidding. )

Pictured above is my youngest son Chance operating a stump grinder one of the things that was needed to prep the cite for our new home. I am proud that he is always willing to jump into anything I am working on. He has skills at 17 that many people twice his age have never tried. He makes me proud.

There will be many more experiences over the next couple of weeks as we move into our new home. I promise before and after photos when it is all said and done. Like the Rural Economist on Facebook for more photos.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Homestead Update

Things have been crazy around here lately. Work has been extremely busy and around the homestead as well. For those of you who have been reading these posts for a while know we have been trying to buy a new homestead to no avail. With our large family and the age of our home we needed another place. We currently live in a 2 bedroom house that was poorly constructed.

After hours of talking between my wife and myself ,we decided to purchase a double wide mobile home and put it on our land. We will be closing this week. So along with the normal things that are going on we have to prepare for the installation.

In the next couple of weeks I will be renting a stump grinder and a small backhoe. I have three stumps to grind, a power pole and meter box to put in, cable lines to run under the new house, as well as run water and sewer. All of this on top of the normal duties of the homestead.

The garden is going well. Harvesting zucchini and squash every other day. Collecting eggs daily. The peppers are just now starting to mature.

I think I have mentioned this before, but my wife has agreed to let me get rid of most of the lawn and go into full food and herb production mode. This means over the next couple of years this place is really going to look different. I am looking forward to the transformation.

As this transformation occurs I will be writing about our adventures as well as our misadventures. There will be tons of pictures that will be posted on The Rural Economist Facebook page. Come join in the conversation. Sorry so short this week, but I promise there is more to come.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Rural Economist Salute to Fathers

This post is not going to be exactly as I planned. I had intended on writing about homesteading, farming, and country dads because that is who I am and what I promote. Something made me realize that this post had to be much broader.

I was blessed today to meet a man that was taking his son and grandchildren out for an adventure. All I will say is it turned out to be a bigger adventure than they anticipated. I do not know if I would have met this man under normal circumstances. The man I met today in everything he said and did he showed his love for his family and his God. He also showed his concern for his fellowman. In the course of our conversation he quoted Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. This man was diligently trying to teach his children and grandchildren to be honorable and God fearing people. He is teaching them the only ways that he knows. He is teaching them the ways of the city, but with honor. He does not face an easy task.

In the past couple of decades the image of fathers has taken a beating. I have seen the portrayal of fathers change from decent, well meaning characters to a bumbling bunch of buffoons.  That every member of the family takes pleasure in ridiculing and manipulating. I will quickly admit that we are partially to blame for this transition. There are far too many men out there that would rather spend their time on the golf course, the lake or in the woods than with their children. There is nothing wrong with wanting some time to yourself, but always make time for your children. Lots of time for your children. 

As a homestead dad, I am all about teaching and showing my children the ways of the country. Rural skills that I believe will be needed in the difficult times that I think are to come. I love teaching my children about splitting firewood, how to do basic auto maintenance, anything and everything I can teach them. I teach all of my children anything in which I can get them interested. This is not only my duty, it is my joy.

To all the fathers out there, do not leave this responsibility to your wives. Take your  place. Do what is right. The future of our nation depends on us passing skills on to our children.

I salute those of you who do your best. To you mothers that have been forced to be both dad and mom, I salute you even more. We can teach our children to 

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strawberry Jam Canning's Gateway Drug

If you're really going to embrace the homestead lifestyle just growing your own fate is enough. You must learn how to preserve your harvest. Canning is a time-tested and very reliable means of preserving a lot of your excess produce. In my opinion one of the easiest things began is strawberry jam. Since strawberries are one of the first things to get ripe in the season it's also good place to start learning that way you don't waste any time.

When I was growing up canning was a family adventure. Everyone got involved in some way. Most of the time my job was picking the fruit and cutting it up. Then Mom or Dad would do all the cooking and canning. Our kids had a lock in at our church, so they went to bed after I picked them up,meaning less hands to help. Even though my wife worked a 12 hour the night before she still came to help me pick before going to bed. We picked 3 gallons of strawberries. We picked ours at a local "you pick" farm that has not only strawberries, but also blackberries.
 After we got home I washed the strawberries. My wife says it is to get the bug pee off the berries, but honestly it is to get the dirt off. I just wash them with the garden hose and set them on my work table.  I have a worktable outside for doing a lot of the prepping. I believe that this helps me keep from messing up the kitchen as bad.
3 gallons of strawberries waiting to be processed.

I cap and cut up all of the berries. The photo on the left is one gallon cut up and ready and the one on the right is all three gallons. 

The caps and any soft spots go into the compost bucket. Nothing goes to waste on the homestead. With any luck we may have some volunteer strawberry plants next spring. Everything we can put back into the soil, goes back to the soil. Any volunteer plants that come up I keep. These plants have proven that they have the ability to make it through the compost pile and the winter to grow in the area. These plants tend to be very hardy.

These caps will go into the compost pile.
If you are concerned with getting your hands messy, this is not the job or really even life for you. When processing strawberry jam you will get strawberry "blood" on your hands.

 All jars must be sterilized and the lids must be heated. I will not go into an actual recipe because depending on if you use pectin and the brand of pectin as well as whether you are making low or no sugar jam will determine not only the amounts of each ingredient, but also cooking times. The same basic principles apply no matter which recipe you use. I suggest you find a recipe you like and go for it. If you don't add enough pectin or sugar instead of jam you may end up with strawberry syrup. It still tastes great, especially on pancakes.

We now have 45 1/2 pints of strawberry jam. The owner of the farm said that here there will be berries for about the next two weeks. Depending on where you are in the country it is still not too late. With an ingredient list that reads berries, sugar, and pectin it is worth the effort. The plink of the jars as they seal give me a sense of accomplishment. You can do this. This may just be the start of you taking control of your food destiny.

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