Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You, Lord

Things can often get frustrating while we're waiting for things to happen, whether it's waiting for a project to start or finish, or waiting for something to happen around your homestead, or even waiting to get the homestead that you really want (like we are).

The important thing is that we are obedient to God's will and trust in Him even though we don't necessarily understand what's going on.

A song from the movie, Fireproof, says it all and should reflect our attitude...

"I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord"

Anyway, the article with some tips can be found here:

No matter what, we can constantly work towards some aspect of our dreams while keeping our eyes on the Maker of our dreams.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

3 Sisters Garden

When looking at trying to make our garden more productive, we learned about a method of companion planting called a 3 sisters garden that I believe came from the Native Americans.
The 3 Sisters Garden is a grouping (I guess that pairing isn’t the right word here) of corn, beans and squash. They all compliment each other in a symbiotic relationship. The corn provides a natural structure for the beans to climb on. The beans “fix” nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of area. The beans also help stabilize the corn so that they are less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Squash vines, which are shallow rooted, help to retain water in the soil as well as shade out any weeds that may come along. 

Corn, beans and squash also complement each other nutritionally. The corn provides carbohydrates, the dried beans are rich in protein and the squash contains.
In addition, after harvest, all of this can be mulched to improve the soil for next year. 

When you plan this out, this garden has to be planted in full sun.

Below is the layout for the mounds and the corn placement. We'll then look at how the rest of the garden is laid out.
To plant corn, you first make 18” diameter mounds (with flattened tops), each one 5 feet apart from the previous one. You then plant the corn in a 6” square with each corn plant in the middle of the line of the square. See figures.

Allow the corn to grow by itself until it is 4” high. Now, weed the area and plant the beans and squash. The beans should be planted on the corners of each square as shown below.

Following planting the beans, plant the squash by creating 18” mounds in the middle of the corn and bean mounds. Plant 3 squash seeds in a 4” x 4” x 4” triangle in the center of the mound. Later you will have to thin the squash to 2 plants.

The varieties that we’ve used have been Silver Queen corn, Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans and Summer Squash.

This was our first attempt at planting this type of garden and in spite of that, it turned out wonderfully!

I hope that this helps you with your 3 sisters garden.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Farm - a poem

This is a beautiful poem that I came across a long time ago. I think that it wonderfully sums up the homesteading attitude and a life lived by God's grace.

My Farm

My farm, to me, is not just land,

Where bare, unpainted buildings stand,

To me, my farm is nothing less,

Than all created loveliness.

My farm is not where I must soil

My hands in endless, dreary toil,

But where, through seed and swelling pod,

I've learned to walk and talk with God.

My farm, to me, is not a place

Outmoded by a modern race.

For here, I think I just see less

Of evil, greed, and selfishness.

My farm's not lonely ... for all day

I hear my children shout at play.

And here, when age comes, free from fears,

I'll live again, long joyous years.

My farm's a haven ... here dwells rest,

Security and happiness ...

What e're befalls the world outside

Here faith, and hope, and love abide.

And so my farm is not just land

Where bare, unpainted buildings stand.

To me, my farm is nothing less

Than all God's hoarded loveliness.

-- Anonymous

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Our chickens have stopped laying and while we are weighing our options (leaning towards processing them for chicken stew), I wanted to take this time to encourage others that were considering raising chickens for either meat or eggs. 

I have always wanted to raise chickens ever since I’ve had my first taste of it as a boy of 12. My father had an autobody repair shop, which in turn had a large fenced in yard. This yard constantly had chickens running around it that had escaped from another property in the neighborhood where they were free-ranged. Some of these chickens had taken up residence in part of my dad's property and one day we discovered that they had laid eggs and that they had hatched. 

I asked my parents if we could take some chickens home to raise.  My parents thought briefly and said, "Why not?" I don’t remember the exact number of peeps that I had, but it was probably about 6. None of us knew anything about raising chickens, so I kept them in a clubhouse-like building that I had. I outfitted it with bedding, food and water. Unbeknownst to me, we were going to have a cold snap a few weeks later. One morning I came out to 6 dead chickens. I hadn't tried anything with chickens until now.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2010...

We have a couple from church that was looking to get rid of their Arucanas. We live in an unincorporated area but close by, the city has a limit of 6 chickens. Note to self (and others), live in an area with as little restrictions as possible. Freedom is very important in more ways than one!

In thinking about the number of chickens that we should keep, we decided that we should take as many as we could handle and have room for. Extra eggs will just go to our friends and the neighbors.

Our family took to building a chicken tractor so we can house the chickens with access to land, while keeping them from tearing up all of the grass as well as aggravating the neighbors, so I immediately began thinking about what to build and how to build on that is efficient as well as inexpensive as possible. I'll post some information on the  chicken tractor in a future post.

We got the girls home and were fascinated. We watched then as they became accustomed to their new surroundings.The next morning we came out to six freshly laid eggs. We were surprised that they acclimated that quickly, but were also very happy that they did.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to take this time to encourage anyone who was thinking about raising chickens to try it. Start small so you don't get overwhelmed and have a chance to learn, but do start. You'll find that chickens are quirky, but also very enjoyable and smart; and nothing beats your own, fresh eggs!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

FREE Homesteading Resources

FREE for today and tomorrow!
 Backwoods Home Magazine (check out their forum as well) is offering several of their books as well as back issues to download to the Kindle for free today and tomorrow.

Get 'em while you can!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Venison Recipes - Part 4


Here is the next in the round of venison recipes. This one is interesting as people usually don't associate venison with Asian flavor.

Venison with Sweet and Sour Sauce

4 6-8 ounce venison steaks, trimmed of all fat, gristle and bone
1 bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb fresh cranberries
1 lemon, juice only
2 sprigs rosemary
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with equal part cold water
salt and white pepper

Prepare sauce. To large saucepan, add red wine and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, uncovered. Lower to medium heat and reduce liquid by one-half. Remove rosemary and allow mixture to cool. When cooled, transfer contents to a blender or food processor and puree. If you wish, you can strain the liquid through a strainer to remove any large pieces. Do not attempt to process the HOT sauce in the blender or processor! It has to be cool. As soon as you turn on the machine, hot liquid cranberry sauce will spew out of the top and burn you and/or make a really big mess.

Return processed sauce to the saucepan and add brown sugar and half of the cornstarch mixture. Heat to boil. Add additional cornstarch mixture to thicken, if needed. Adjust sweet and sour flavors as desired by adding additional balsamic vinegar (sour) or brown sugar (sweet). Season with salt and pepper.

Season venison with salt and pepper. Grill, broil or pan sear until medium-rare. Spoon a little sauce on each plate. Slice venison across the grain and arrange slices over sauce. Garnish with additional cranberries, fresh herb, orange slice, etc

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Listen... Don't you hear it calling you?

The urge to move from the city or even suburbs to the country is a strong pull for me. It's one that gets stronger and stronger every day. I think about it during my free time, I often dream about it at night. I'd really like to get a nice piece of land for our family.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking about obtaining a nice piece of acreage with which to be able to expand our homestead. While we don't live in the city or suburbs, we don't live deep enough in the county... or at least, not on enough land to continue our journey towards self-sufficiency. While we will continue to do what we can where we are, there is an intense longing to be able to do more.

To those who love the city, this makes no sense whatsoever. Why would anyone want to live in "the wilderness" away from "everything"?

Anyway, this morning, I was (unbeknownst to me) singing while getting ready for work. My dear wife asked what it was that I was singing and it was the lyrics from a movie that I loved as a boy, Across the Great Divide. I had the opportunity to watch it with 3 of our children this past Christmas break and the theme of living this way has been in my head, intensifying my love for the country and continuing my passion for our goals.

Anyway, the lyrics of the song, which have been running through my head all day are...

Across the great divide
Is a place well call our our own.
As together we ride
Out across the great divide.

Oh, Listen.
Don't you hear it calling you?

With hearts thrown open wide
Together we will ride
Hand in hand across the great divide

With hearts thrown open wide
Together we will ride
Hand in hand across the great divide

Across the great divide
Is a place well call our our own
As together we ride
Out across the great divide.

Look around us
The beauty of God's country surrounds us.
Liftin' up our souls
To keep them from the cold
Turning all our winters into springs

With work and love and pride
Farming side by side
Together out across the great divide

What goals do you have that you are working towards? What motivates you? What calls to you?

 Listen... Don't you hear it calling you?

Venison Recipes - Part 3

Venison Pot Roast

2-3 pounds boneless venison roast
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2/3 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
2 teaspoons beef bouillon
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Trim fat from roast. In a 4- to 6-quart pot, brown meat in oil. Blot any remaining oil or fat. Add juice, onion, carrot and bouillon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until meat is tender. Remove meat. To make a sauce, add water to juices to equal 2 cups of liquid. Stir flour into sour cream or yogurt. Stir into juices in pot. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Season to taste. Serves 4-5.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Poor People?

I came across this parable on Facebook. It sure gives one an insight into people's perspectives on things.

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?'

'It was great, Dad.'

'Did you see how poor people live?' the father asked.

'Oh yeah,' said the son.

'So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.

The son answered:

'I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, 'Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.'
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Venison Recipes - Part 2

Venison Stroganoff

1 pound venison sirloin steak
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons beef bouillon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
Hot cooked noodles

Partially freeze venison and slice across the grain into bite-size strips. Stir together sour cream and flour. Stir in water, bouillon, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large skillet, cook and stir the meat in hot butter until done. Remove from skillet. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook and stir until done. Mix meat and vegetables together. Stir flour mixture into skillet. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Serve over noodles. Serves 4

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Around our place...

Tonight it's cool outside... in the upper 30's. We also have the pleasure of having company over. Our oldest son's girlfriend, along with our oldest daughter's boyfriend are joining us for diner. After taking some daily items out to our compost bin, I asked our oldest son if he would like to help me make dinner. He wanted to and pretty much made it by himself with a little help.

We made meatloaf, brussels sprouts, a cauliflower, carrot and broccoli medley and macaroni and cheese.

  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup and recipe mix
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
The brussels sprouts were steamed and lightly coated with butter
The vegetable medley was also steamed and lightly covered with a cheese sauce.

It was well received by everyone and was delicious!

Venison Recipes - Part 1

The boys and I have had our opportunities to go deer hunting and although the ladies in our home don't like the taste of venison, we (the guys) still eat it whenever we get it.

I recently had an opportunity to introduce a love for venison to an elderly lady who works with me. She was given a 2 lb brisket that measures 6" x 6" x 2" from a deer harvest in Wisconsin.

She knows that we hunt and eat venison, so she asked for some help. She told me that she has tried venison before (in the 70's) and didn't like it due to the gaminess.

With that, I put together a list of recipes that I received from some friends that will hopefully help her to like it. I hope that these are helpful to you as well.

Rather than put them all in one long post, I am going to break them up so they are easier to read.

Bar-B-Que Venison
  1. In a crock pot, combine a bottle of BBQ sauce and the roast and let it cook on low till its falling apart.
  2. When the meat is done, falling apart, and tender, remove the meat from the crock and discard the liquid. 
  3. Shred the meat with a fork
  4. Add additional BBQ sauce until the mixture is juicy
  5. Serve on buns, a little cheese on your bun is good.
* You can also heat up the leftovers and add some cooked pasta for a second meal.