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Preparedness Challenge & Giveaway #34

Another month has come and gone. It was a busy month and the coming months will only be busier.

The Preparedness Challenge link up/blog hop is hosted by Homestead Revival every month. You will visit some great blogs, learn something new and meet some great homesteaders when you visit the others who participate. Be sure to check them out!

How I met the challenge this month:

Food Storage-for life's unexpected events whether related to long term effects from a disaster or a job loss and everything in between.
    *I added 12lbs of sugar, 30lbs of flour, 4 cans of tuna, 4 cans of cream soups, one pound of rice and this:
A Presto 16 quart Pressure Canner. After doing much research, I found this canner to meet most of my requirements, the two biggest being cost and something safe to use on my smooth glass top range.  It has a lot of good reviews. Another thing that sold me was the 5, 10, and 15 pound weights. I've never used a pressure canner (or cooker) before. All my past experience has been with a water bath canner, so I'm excited to learn a new skill in the coming weeks.

Emergency Preparedness-for times of power outages, natural disasters, etc.
    *I purchased more face masks, hand sanitizer and added 8 more 2 liter bottles of water to our stored water supply. A cheap alternative to purchasing a barrel to store water is 2 liter soda bottles. Here is instructions on how to prepare your soda bottles. Be sure to date them! Sine I filled these at the end of the month and so I dated them for next month.

Once the 6 month expiration has expired, I just move my bottles to the area where I store non-drinkable water. This would be water you can use for anything other than to drink/cook with such as flushing toilets.

Sustainable Living-in order to be more independent, both physically and financially and live as close to the land as possible given each individuals situation.
    *We purchased and planted a plum, nectarine, and peach tree; 2 red seedless grape vines, 6 strawberry plants, 8 asparagus roots as well as various annual vegetable plants (carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc). I also made a 6 bar batch of blender soap.

Things seem to move slow until I actually write down everything we accomplish and realize it was better than I thought.  I need to be more diligent in the area of emergency preparedness.

What do you do to prepare for emergencies?  Do you have extra flashlights, batteries, or oil lamps, etc?


Growing Carrots

I do not like weeding carrots. It is a tedious time consuming chore. The carrots are so frail it makes it difficult. So why I planted them in one of my beds that I always have to fight weeds is a good question. Determined to have carrots this year I have been working on getting them weeded and I have finally started to win the battle.

This is how they looked last week. By the time I was done weeding today it was too dark to take another picture. I'm really excited about getting some carrots this year. I planted two different kinds, Scarlet Nantes and Danvers Half Long. These seeds were old seeds that I wasn't even sure if they would germinate. The Danvers were 2010 and Nantes were 2009 seeds bought on clearance for a nickel a pack at the Dollar Tree Store over a year ago!

I wish I had more room to plant a bunch more so I have enough to can. We love carrots, it's one of 3 vegetables we all three will eat. We like to eat them raw as well as cooked. I've read that I can companion plant them with tomatoes and I think I'm going to try it since I'm short on room.

Have any of you interplanted carrots with your tomatoes? If so, how well did it work?

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Cheese Making Classes

Learn to make cheese in Hermann, MO, April 21-22 from 9 am to 5 pm (choose both days or one) with Merryl Winstein, Cheesemaker from St. Louis, MO. A complete array of traditional and professional methods will be taught using both cow and goat milk. You'll leave the workshop to go home ready to make all your favorites. Hermann is an hour east of Columbia, MO.

Saturday April 21 - Traditional cheddar, swiss/alpine, brie/camembert, soft spreadable chevre, & ricotta

Sunday April 22 - Blue, gouda, traditional mozzarella (not the quickie citric acid type), & ricotta

You will learn about correct curd textures, acid development, and moisture, observing with all your senses so you can create great tasting cheese that stores well. Everything supplied for class itself; other supplies available at class.

Be sure to bring your own lunch since there will be very little time to go out to eat lunch.

Merryl Winstein has raised dairy goats in her back yard in Webster Groves, MO for 19 years, and sells raw goat milk, which is legal in Missouri (see article in Missouri Life Magazine, Feb/March 2012 issue, page 58).

The cost of the workshop is $145 per person per day or $280 for two registrations. You can choose one or both days to attend. Pre-registration is required. Register online, or by phone at 314-968-2596

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FREE Homesteading Ezine

Erin of Homestead Drying Racks is premiering a new ezine...

The Homestead Community Post

All I can say is WoW! Wonderful articles! Beautiful pages! It will only be available for FREE download for a limited time. HURRY!


Orchard Update

I'm watching the apple trees closely this year. I'm hoping they have progressed far enough that there is no need to worry about frost. Just a few days ago these little apples were beautiful apple blossoms.

Last year we lost our peach tree and three years ago we lost our plum tree. Our orchard wasn't growing, it was sliding the other way so Saturday I purchased another self pollinating plum. It is a Sweet August. The tag toots it produces the sweetest fruit you will ever try. It is larger, firmer, sweeter, more productive and less acidic than Santa Rosa. We shall see. I hope I can add another peach tree this year as well.

I was able to cut some lettuce! This type is called mixed salad greens. It grows very easily, just not sure if I like all of the different types without mixing it with regular leaf lettuce.

How is your orchards doing? What type of trees do you successfully grow? Anyone have a suggestion for a peach?

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Garden Update

I planted 4 broccoli and 4 cauliflower this weekend as well as a few more tomatoes. I've never grown broccoli or cauliflower so we will see how we do.  Have any of you ever grown either?  Is there anything I should know?

The Yukon Gold potates are growing fast.  It's almost time to cover them with some more compost.

Suffolk Red Seedless Grape

Suffolk Red Seedless Grape

Another new addition this year was the two Suffolk Red Seedless Grape plants.  They are growing at a very fast pace.

An unexpected! Volunteer potatoe from last year.  It is bigger than the rest probably because of it's 12 month jump start on the others.  We will see how many potatoes it actually produces in the end.


The ten bare root strawberry plants I planted previously have done nothing.  I had a lot of room left in that bed so I bought 4 everbearing and 2 June bearing plants and added them.  Two days later they are looking great!

A couple of the tomatoes that were planted last weekend. They are growing and looking good. There may be a chance of frost later this week so I'll have to watch the weather closely.

How is your gardens growing? Did you plant anything new this weekend?


Treasured Amish and Mennonite Recipes: Cookbook Review

Treasured Amish and Mennonite Recipes: 627 Delicious, Down-to-Earth Recipes from Authentic Country Kitchens
Author: Mennonite Central Committee

If you love simple, down-to-earth cooking, then this is the cookbook for you. These recipes are the best of the best from the two original volumes which have been out of print for years.

There is a “Brief History of the Amish and Mennonites” section for those interested in learning more about the cultures, as well as a wonderful
Foreward that explains the purpose of the Mennonite Central Committee and their relief work.

Sprinkled through the pages are tips, interesting facts, stories, and gorgeous photos, not of any of the recipes but of this way of life.

You will find a Table of Contents as well as an expanded index. The recipes are organized into 14 categories from Main dishes and Casseroles, Side Dishes and Vegetables, Desserts and Sweets to Grandma's Remedies and Soap Making. . You will also find some recipes for European dishes (Apple Moos-yum!) and for crowds of 200 (Threshers Dinner, Funeral, Barn Raising Dinner). The recipes are easy to understand and the items can be found in your pantry or grocery store.

This is truly a unique cookbook and I am delighted to add it to my shelf of favorites in my kitchen.

I received a free copy of this book from Fox Chapel Publishing Company for me to review.


Weekend Gardening Update

Saturday when I got up I made another batch of blender soap.  Here it is right after unmolding.  I'm trying to perfect my soap "recipe".  I want a good moisturizing soap.  I add no dyes or perfumes because of allergies.

Today I planted some petunias in pots by the front door.  I love my rusty birdhouse!

Then I cleaned and started up the pump on the koi pond in front.  I only have one koi left in this pond.  I will have to get a couple more.  There is a striped frog that has moved in.  We played cat and mouse all day.  I would walk by without my camera and he would be there.  I would walk by with it, and he would be hiding.  I'll get picture of him one of these mornings.

The bleeding heart is in bloom.  It is always so pretty in the spring, but is short lived.

Then I moved to the garden.  I worked on weeding the carrots and didnt get far at all.  It is very time consuming and tedious. 

Boy wonder and hubby made three potato boxes and I got the last of the potatoes planted.  I'm using the "build as you grow potato bins" method. 

Hubby planted five tomato plants against my better judgement.  I never plant tomatoes in the garden before Mother's Day.  I'm sure I will have to cover them a couple times between now and then to protect from a frost.  I do plant tomatoes in pots on the deck earlier and planted four today. 

Then for supper we had some foraged wild asparagus hubby and boy wonder found yesterday. 

It was sooooo yummy!  Nice and tender, not tough like the stuff you buy in the stores. 

So what did you do this weekend?

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