Country Living Series

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Funny photo

Saw this today and it cracked me up. The photo was entitled "Chewbacca Cosplay."

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A call for financial assistance

Dear readers, an excellent organization could use your assistance.

My friend Lisa Bedford (of Survival Mom fame) is putting out a call for financial assistance to an organization severely damaged by Hurricane Laura.

The organization is called FriendShips, a Christian international relief group. As Lisa wrote, “They have ministered to some of the most vulnerable people around the world, providing medical care and disaster relief for many years.”

Lisa’s son recently joined the group – literally days before Hurricane Laura aimed a direct hit on the organization’s fleet of ships (which are old World War II-era cargo ships).


The organization reported:
"After several hours of relentless winds and pounding rain, the wind uprooted several of our mooring bollards (these are large steel bits that secure ships to the land sunk eight feet in the ground and secured in cement). We tied our ships to these with several lines knowing the force they would be under, hoping the lines would not snap.

They did not snap but instead the wind drug these bollards up out of the earth and took off with them and their eight feet of cement, setting six of our seven ships adrift, several sustaining significant damage."

Every one of their smaller boats sank. Their storage containers, storage sheds, and their airplane hangar were either completely destroyed or severely damaged.

Power lines have snapped, and food supplies are on the verge of spoiling if generators are not quickly found and fueled.
Lisa added: “FriendShips.org is an all-volunteer organization. They operate on a slim, shoestring budget, and today, at this moment, they are in dire need of help. Their mission is to reach out to those in need, and, in fact, in the hours and days leading up to the hurricane's arrival, they were making excited plans for how they would help those in need around them. That's who they are and what they do.”

Helping FriendShips is not just helping the organization. It’s helping the organization help others, since that’s their whole mission. Lisa asked me to help put out the word for financial assistance.

Please join us in helping this fine organization during their time of need.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Garlic, start to finish

Last fall, I planted 150 gloves of garlic in the garlic boat, as I do every autumn.


I mulched it with straw for the winter.


Garlic grows very well here, and each year I get an excellent harvest. This year was no exception.


A few days ago, I finally got around to pulling the garlic.


The soil is soft and friable, and it took no time at all to pull everything -- maybe half an hour.


I stacked it all in a blue tub and toted it off to the shady barn...


...where I spread it out in a rough circle to dry for a few days.


Yesterday morning I went out and trimmed the bulbs from the stems.


I ended up with a bucket of garlic and a pile of stems (which went on the compost pile).


Normally peeling the garlic takes me a few days, but for whatever reason I got almost all of it done yesterday. It's kinda like doing a puzzle -- once you start, it's hard to stop.


Many of the cloves were huge, with the biggest ones approaching eggs in size.



These large cloves are characteristic of German porcelain-neck garlic. Love the stuff.

I held back 150 cloves for planting later in the fall. My plan was to mince and can the rest. Since we don't have a root cellar, this is my preferred method for preserving garlic.

The peeled garlic came to almost 11.5 lbs.


I chopped it...


...then parboiled it for about 15 minutes. I drained the garlic and reserved the cook water.


I filled 15 pint jars with the mince...


...then topped the jars with garlic water.


Wiping the rims (and checking for nicks).


Scalding the Tattler lids and gaskets.


Unprocessed, the garlic is a creamy white. After processing (depending on whatever minerals might be in the water), canned minced garlic can turn some shocking colors -- pink or blue or green. It's always a surprise. (The color change is harmless.)


Into the canner.


It was time to reapply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to the canner lid (to lubricate the metal-to-metal seal peculiar to All American canners).


For our elevation, I process at 13 lbs. pressure. For minced garlic, I leave it in 25 minutes (for pints).


Out of the canner. Rather to my surprise, the garlic hardly changed color at all, to a light brown. (The darker jars are in the shadow of the canner.)


The house smells overpoweringly of garlic right now, but that's okay. The year's harvest is done.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Lessons from the Pandemic

Dear readers, I would like your input.

Don and I were asked to jointly write an article for Backwoods Home Magazine on "Lessons from the Pandemic" – what we did right and what we did wrong. By "we," it doesn't necessarily refer to "us" specifically, but what people in general feel they did right and wrong. This article is for inclusion in BWH's Emergency Preparedness and Survival Guide.


Since we feel we're weathering the pandemic quite well due to a number of pre-existing factors (rural lifestyle, low debt, multiple income streams, abundant supplies, etc.), we are looking for input from readers on what they feel they did wrong.

This article is not meant to be political, so please refrain from speculating about whether it was a "plandemic" or any government repercussions from the last few months. Instead, frame your replies in terms of what they're looking for – maybe some things that you did right, but especially those things that you wished you had done, or done differently (prepper-wise), prior to COVID's arrival and the lock-downs.

Okay, folks, let's hear 'em!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Garden update

Despite the cool wet start to summer, the garden has actually done very well this year. Here's a walk-through.

Grapes. They're not ripe yet, of course, but show a lot of promise. There's just nothing prettier than grape vines.




Herbs. I grow parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, basil, rosemary, spearmint, and horseradish. Here's the parsley, starting to go to seed. I'll save some of the seeds for our next homestead, but in the meantime it will seed its own bed for next year's crop.


Oregano.


Spearmint. This is my garden candy. I actually don't care for mint tea in any form, but I simply adore the smell. This lush bed started from one small plant I impulsively bought a few years ago at a local hardware store, and it spread to fill an enormous tire with perfume. (One of the advantages to gardening in tires it it's easy to contain things that like to spread, like mint.)



Rosemary and basil.


Raspberries. The fruit season is past, but I have a freezer full of berries.



Blueberries. It's blueberry season, so I'm picking about every other day.




Peas. Their season is also done, of course, and all the peas are in the freezer awaiting cooler weather so I can can them up. These vines are about ready to pull out.


One of the strawberry beds.


Onions. Goodness I love onions.




Carrots.


Garlic. It's definitely ready to harvest.


Tomatoes. Lots of green fruit, and a few ripe ones.


I planted lots of dry beans this year -- Navy and pinto.




The orchard is doing very well.



Plums.


Apples


Peaches.


(No hazelnuts yet. They take a few years to mature.)

Okay, I guess I'm done with excuses, I really need to go harvest the garlic.

[Bonus feature: Here's an article on the therapeutic power of gardening.]