I make calendula salve with just calendula and rendered beef tallow. I use Sepp Holzer's guidance in his permaculture book and use the whole plant: leaves, roots, flowers. It's very easy to make and works wonderfully on minor wounds. Plus for me it's free (I get the beef fat free and I grow my own calendula).
The eroding hill seems like a big deal to me. If you can, putting swales on contour would help slow and catch the water when it comes, hopefully reducing erosion. If digging swales isn't feasible, I've also read about rock swales (I'm not entirely sure if they're called that); these are lines of rocks piled up on contour on the side of the hill, like a swale. The piles don't even have to be very high--a single layer would be better than nothing. I would suggest plenty of swales (traditional or rock) and spacing them pretty close together, because a monsoon rain event would probably overwhelm a solitary swale.
If you can't do anything like this to the hillside, maybe you can do it to the hot spot itself. You have a pile of rocks at the bottom of it which you say doesn't do enough. Several swales across it, probably rock swales, might mitigate the rain and help catch some soil coming through.
It's not a quick fix, but if you could catch some of that sediment and rain, I would think some natives would seed themselves there eventually.
This is not something I've done, only read about. I have been to Sedona though: lovely place!
I wore one as a teenager, which I sewed myself from green velvet--it was my pride and joy for several years until I got tired of being stared at by strangers all the time. I gave it away to a male friend who started his own cloak journey :)
I have a wool coat now which is somewhat like a cloak. It has that full drape but also has sleeves and buttons up the front. I got it for £20 at a charity shop; the label says Givenchy! I don't have a photo of the front but here's the back.
For me, a cloak is more about style; it's not very practical. That's not a bad thing--I like to be stylish sometimes. Who says I always have to be practical?
Myron Platte wrote:Thanks, guys! That’s what I wanted to know. Although I’m hoping I can find out what breed of ducks that is, G Fredan.
I have two Pekins, a Khaki Campbell, and a big mongrel drake. The drake we got at about 8 weeks old, but the other three ducks are ex-factory farm birds, and never saw the great outdoors till we adopted them at 2 years old. They took to foraging very happily regardless.
My ducks slurp down slugs big and small; they even swallow big snails whole. I definitely recommend ducks for slugs and any other bugs--when I was a kid in the southwest of the US we had a grasshopper plague and our ducks cleaned them out completely from our garden, so much that we kids would go out every night catching jarfuls from other neighbors' gardens to keep them fed.
My chickens on the other hand, are not particularly interested in slugs though they will eat snails if I crack the shells first. I believe geese are herbivores, though I have no experience with them.
If it's flexible and somewhat long, you can probably weave with it. Might as well just try some stuff out. I made a couple ribbed baskets (search for images if unsure what they look like) with some sycamore maple shoots as the ribs, and dried yucca leaves for the weavers. Both I just collected from my small suburban garden--the yucca leaves just shed off the plant and I collected the least dusty ones from the ground underneath (and split them into narrower lengths to make weaving easier). I use them both as harvest baskets, and it doesn't matter how long they hold up because I can make another just as quickly and easily.
I have also woven with willow but it's more of a plan-ahead project. I'm sure you, like me, have a lot of flexible plant material that could be woven with right now. Vines, suckers from trees/shrubs, daffodil leaves, rushes or sedges, lots of things. Try bending the material and if it doesn't snap, cut a handful and make a little basket with it. Take 20 minutes over it. It's fun!
Not the best basketry photo, but here's one of my yucca baskets in use last spring.
Edited: found the better photo!
Hi Debbie, you could weave some willow wands in situ to make them into wicker chairs--it's not too hard to do; other trees/shrubs with long flexible branches could work too. Or use some heavy canvas material and sew a new seat and back--it could be as simple as a long piece of material with opposite edges sewn together into a rectangular tube, then slotted onto the frame. I'm sure there are lots of other ways to make them useable again.
Here's one I appliqued and quilted by hand (I sewed the large blocks together by machine, but everything else was by hand). The applique was fairly quick considering, but the quilting took me ages. I actually prefer to hand quilt instead of machine quilt because it is precise and neat. I have machine quilted on my regular sewing machine, and I always seem to end up with tucks and puckers, and it's hard work heaving the quilt in and out of the machine to get all the stitches in; last time I machine quilted, it took several hours and I spread it over two days. Last time I hand quilted (a scrappy log cabin quilt, not pictured), it took me several months. I didn't quilt daily, or sometimes even weekly; I even made larger spaces in between the quilting lines compared to the appliqued quilt--but it was still a long time before it was ready for my bed.
I do not use a frame or hoop. I baste the quilt layers together first, mark my quilting lines with chalk, then just hold it on my lap to quilt. I use a short quilting needle and short lengths of thread, plus a thimble; these make it easier on my hand and arm.
For me, hand quilting is worth the time and effort it takes to get a superior result. It is not worth it for many people and that is absolutely fine.
We used cloth for our oldest. We also potty trained (elimination communication) by 18 months, so we no longer used them after this, though he still had occasional accidents, mainly of the bed-wetting type. He never went to childcare as my husband and I managed to trade off shifts at our respective workplaces.
We used cloth for our youngest until she was 12 months old, and used elimination communication pretty much from birth, so she was reliably dry by 12 months and out of nappies completely. However, I also went back to work then and she went to childcare...and while being mostly brilliant in all other respects, they were not prepared to potty a little girl of this age (she gets one potty visit for her 5.5 hour stay). So she was wetting herself daily and we had to start sending her in disposibles after a few weeks (they don't do cloth nappies).
And now at nearly two she's in disposibles every day...and wets herself again at home on the weekends if we put her in her undies. Sigh.
I had a white leghorn who was like that; she was constantly on the lookout for food, almost like a dog. She laid an egg almost every day of the year, even in winter so I figured she was just hungry all the time to keep up the production.
Through a series of events, we ended up with a mixed flock of three drakes and three ducks. After a year of two drakes to two ducks, getting two more ducks, losing one, adding a duckling...we had too many drakes and they were being very hard on the ducks. One in particular was Not Allowed to mate--the ducks would run away from him (as a contrast, they would do the head bobbing dance with the alpha before willingly mating), and if he could catch a duck, the alpha drake would jump on top of him to try and get him off (which was always completely ineffectual and our small duck would just be squashed underneath the both of them). This drake would even have a go at us humans, and if disciplined by us would immediately go and take it out on that poor little duck. Yeah. This drake was a jerk, and the youngest drake was starting to follow in his footsteps. The flock was not in harmony whatsoever.
So I took the decision to kill and cook both the youngest and the meanest of these drakes. I'd always planned on eating excess drakes from any we'd hatched anyway so when that cute little duckling our broody hen hatched turned out to be male, I decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak, and solve the problem of the jerk at the same time.
I've killed quite a few cockerels for eating over the years (and have put down a very badly injured hen too) by using the broomstick method. It's quick and clean, but I'd read that duck legs aren't sturdy enough to make this reliable, and I accidently popped a joint out of a socket while plucking a dead drake, so I completely believe it. Instead I got myself a sharp hatchet and did it the time honored way. It was even quicker, though not quite so clean, but I had no qualms and got it done.
Previous to this, I'd bought myself some parafin wax--after watching duck hunting videos on youtube--so that plucking wasn't too much of a trial. It still took a good amount of time as I had to roughly pluck the outer feathers first, then dunk the whole carcass in hot water with melted wax and let it harden, but afterwards it was just a case of peeling it all off easily and almost completely cleanly. I used 500 g for the two large drakes, and I probably could have done another one or even two more with that amount of wax.
Finally, and again on the advice of the duck hunters, I aged the two carcasses in the fridge; five days for the younger and a week for the older. The younger duck was about four months old and the older was around three years old, but both turned out very tender and not at all stringy like some of the cockerels we've raised; the husband joked that he knew that jerk was just a big softy all along. The younger one was slow roasted to make crispy duck (so so tasty), and the older was made into confit (which sort of ended up like duck bacon? not sure if that's what it's supposed to taste like, but it was great anyway).
That's my first experience of raising and eating my own duck and I would definitely do it again. And the flock of four is now cohesive; no one chases anyone else and everyone gets to hang out.
This is my go to recipe for ice cream--it is technically a frozen mousse, as you do not need to churn it. It stays very fluffy in the freezer for several days after (but doesn't usually last that long in our house). You will want an electric mixer for this, preferably a stand mixer. It can be done by hand but expect a sore elbow by the end!
3 egg whites, at room temperature
6-8 oz sugar (by weight)
8-12 fluid oz heavy cream (you can play around with this, using even more or less as your tastes prefer)
Flavouring of choice (mashed/pureed fruit, vanilla extract, crushed cookies, let your imagination run wild)
-Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.
-Put the sugar in a saucepan and cover with a few tablespoons of water. Cook on very high heat without stirring until it reaches 250F/120C (this is the hard ball stage of cooked sugar, please read my note below*)
-With the beaters turned on high, gradually pour the hot cooked sugar syrup into the eggs whites, in a slow but steady stream. Keep beating till the mixture cools to room temperature, usually for about five minutes; you've just made Italian meringue!
-When the meringue is fully cooled, set it aside and whip the cream to soft peaks. This can be done in the same bowl with the same beaters without needing to fully clean them (note, the egg whites cannot be treated the same way--if there is a speck of fat in the bowl or on the beaters they will not beat into peaks).
-Gently fold the flavouring into the meringue, and then fold in the cream. Freeze and enjoy.
*About cooking sugar past the boiling point of water: it sounds scary and technical but really isn't! I don't use a thermometer or even do the old-fashioned hard ball test (drop a spoonful in a glass of water and then form it into a ball with your fingers). Here's what I look out for:
-The syrup will boil furiously for a little while, emitting plenty of steam
-The steam will gradually get lighter and suddenly the bubbles will go from very small to uniformly medium-sized. I liken it to going volcanic
-After this point, it starts to smell like cooked sugar: like caramel corn, or cotton candy/candy floss. Use it now!
-If you carry on cooking from here, after a little while the sugar will start to go a bit darker and caramelize. You can still use it at this stage; it will taste different but will still work perfectly fine. However, once it starts to colour, you definitely want to use it immediately. Go much beyond this point and it will simply burn
-(If it burns, let it cool in the pan, fill it with warm water, and let it soak. It will dissolve and you can clean it out and start over)
Hi Laurel, did you decide? I think putting them in a good moist spot now is a great option. Maybe they will do so well there you won't want to transplant! Because they take so long to establish, I would want to get them in sooner rather than later (as in, this autumn) and get a yield from them earlier. With 100 acres to play around with, in my view there's really no pressing need to keep them to the dedicated kitchen garden.
Our mixed flock of somewhat flighty chickens will happily go from their run to their tractor with just a little cup of corn as an inducement. No need to fence their path: they go straight in to where they see us sprinkle the corn. Going back to the run is just as simple. We trained ours to come when called; they know "chick chick chick" means come get treats.
Hi Grayson, my family went low carb about ten years ago, which meant we cut out sugar at that time. However, I discovered it was too hard to follow it strictly over the holiday season, so I personally allow myself to indulge at that time with the knowledge that I will get back on the bandwagon once it's over.
For me, it takes about two weeks of cold turkey before the cravings stop again. During this time, I load up on plenty of fruits, so that when I "need" sugar, I eat a piece of fruit. After two weeks I don't need the fruit any more. Actually I can do it without the fruit but it's harder.
Oh, and having sugary things in the house means I will eat them, so I don't have them in the house. If someone offers me a treat of this kind, I have to consider that it will take me two unpleasant weeks to recover, and is it worth it? Almost always the answer is no. If I cheat, it has to be for something really special (and for me, that means homemade with real butter, cream, etc--and even then, the answer is still often no).
The first time we raised chicks in our kitchen, I was sick to death of their noise. They were so LOUD! I was so glad when they were old enough to go outside for good. Then a few years and batches of chicks later, one of our hens went broody so we gave her some eggs to hatch instead. I then learned that loud cheep actually means "MUM! Where's my mum? MUUUMMMM!!" They only make it when separated from their mother; their happy/relaxed call is just a soft little peep.
However, some chicks are just louder than others; our little broody hen raised some brown Leghorns one year and we named that batch The Cheeps because that's all they did--I was glad Cookie was looking after them, not me!
I like to browse Project Gutenberg for out of copyright books; there are some interesting craft-related ones. This one, The Book of Needlework Economies, edited by Flora Klickmann, has a section called the economy quilt (to find it on the text, search for it using CTRL-f). She describes the method for making it: she would save up all small fabric and yarn scraps; the larger scraps are folded into small square/rectangular pouches--three or four inches when folded--and filled a third full of the smallest scraps, none bigger than one inch square, then sew them closed. She saved up these pouches until she had enough to sew them together into a full quilt.
I certainly have a lot of scraps myself, and could no doubt make a full economy quilt if I set about it! The little pouches could be sewn by hand a few at a time, and the full quilt could be hand or machine sewn.
I quite enjoyed reading the whole book, and there are others like it at www.gutenberg.org
Yes, and I have done it with looser weave fabric too. It feels a bit softer than the iron on stuff and is a little more work to put in, but it works for me. You could try a test piece first, to see how it works for you.
Do you normally make then drink, or go the whole aging route? I find the whole testing over years thing really interesting :)
We usually leave it to age in the demijohn for about a year and then start drinking once we bottle up. Depending on the batch size, we do end up ageing some inadvertently. Also if it doesn't taste nice right away, we'll try ageing, usually for at least six months but often for a year or longer. I finally used up the last bottle of a 2014 elderberry wine just last month. It still wasn't that great, so I used it for cooking instead--a lot of our cider is used in cooking too :)
We've made some excellent elderberry/blackberry wine. Also some just so-so. I've got a couple of gallons of the latest batch fermenting from last autumn and am looking forward to trying it in the summer. I've also made rhubarb wine (drinkable), elderflower wine (light and refreshing), elderberry wine (not that great). And apple cider which is also a bit of a hit and miss--but is the one wine which I don't have to add extra sugar to, which is why I continue to make it: it's free :)
In the future I hope to make plum cider and perry (pear cider), as my own trees start to produce more, but I can't comment on either of them just yet.
I asked my husband to take a few photos of our allotment at the weekend. Above you can see me in the background next to our chicken coop and run. In the foreground is some sheet mulch, with artichokes visible behind. Further along are some rows of garlic and purple sprouting broccoli, and not visible (between the artichokes and myself) are both old season and new season leeks; new season onions, peas and broad beans; and old season lettuces. There is also a strawberry bed and raspberry patch at the very back.
I'm still fighting the grass! It got somewhat of a reprieve over winter when the chickens were back at our house and I didn't have much motivation to dig it. They're back and I'm digging again every day, if only a few clumps at a time. I'm also sowing and planting up my the start of the summer crops, and hope to be transplanting out the tender stuff (pumpkins, tomatoes, etc) and autumn and winter brassicas next month.
Congratulations Sage! Having your first baby is such an exciting event.
Everyone else here is right. You and your baby are the most important things to worry about right now.
I say this, having given birth to our third child a year ago. Like you, my pregnancy was difficult. I gave myself permission to let go of everything else, telling the people closest to me that I needed them to pick up the slack--and I forgave myself for letting the rest to drop. This continued for several months after birth as I recovered from a severe hemorrhage. A year on, I don't regret giving up the garden and housework to care for myself and baby.
Likewise, your own wellbeing is the priority here. Good luck!
We are within £13,000 of paying off our mortgage, as a consequence of working at sucky jobs, cutting our expenses down to the very bone, and living very frugally--and putting every spare penny onto overpaying. On our current trajectory, we can pay it off in two more years, which will be six years early (on a 20 year term). We could have paid it off already had we been living this sort of lifestyle right from the beginning, but we were younger and perhaps less wise. Only a few years ago we had credit card debt and car loans/personal loans; finally paying these off lifted such a weight off our shoulders. Some people would consider our lifestyle unacceptable: we don't buy anything we don't need, and we don't buy anything new if we can get it secondhand. And yet, in two more years we can throw off the chains of debt, forever. We will be free.
Well, I put my money where my mouth was and the year old daughter is now in undies during the day, with a nappy on for sleeping. We made the transition about three weeks ago, and it has been a fairly dry experience so far; some days she's completely dry all day and uses the potty/toilet. There have also been a few days where she's refused the potty or we've missed the opportunity and have had to change clothes several times. Thankfully all misses so far have only been wet, not poo--she's been consistent about pooing on the toilet in the morning for several months now. She can signal when she needs to potty by making the hand sign or by grunting loudly and insistently.
Of the muslin nappies, after being used and washed daily, those from the cotton tablecloths all started wearing thin and tearing holes. I mended a few to start with, but more holes kept appearing, so these eight have been retired. Those from the linen tablecloth and the cotton flannel receiving blankets are still intact and usable. Likewise, the terrycloth nappies--which were used daily with our older son for 15 months before moving on to the daughter--are looking somewhat ragged around the edges but are still in good enough condition to use. We finally stopped using the woollen wraps as the Snappi broke when the daughter was about 10 months (and because we were close to our deadline for the transition to undies I decided not to buy another). I experimented with pinning the wraps instead, but decided it was too time consuming for EC: I couldn't get the pins out quickly enough for pottying. So the woollen wraps were retired and we began using the PUL wraps which have Velcro tabs, with the pad fold as described previously. This is still what we use for bedtime.
This system has worked well for us, and has been very cheap; it was in fact free! The muslins are quick and easy to wash and dry--they are line dried weather permitting, or dried on indoor racks overnight; the terrycloth nappies also dry fairly quickly (especially compared to the prefolds we have) but the muslin ones really take very little time. I liked that everything was breathable and natural for baby's bottom, while still being dry enough for her outer clothing and bedding. A few times I had to change bedding after a particularly wet night, but only rarely (and again, only wet not poo). However, this was not just confined to the woollen wraps as it also happened once in a while with the PUL covers too--more a case of not wrapping thoroughtly/securely than a defect in the covers.
I've got one plant which has overwintered for a few years now, in place. It's in a fairly sheltered spot next to a fence, so also a little drier than the surrounding soil (all its original neighbours didn't make it though). I did dig some up, store, and replant the one time, but they didn't really perform any better than the ones from seed. More experimenting, maybe?
I do this with most of my seedlings; I can't direct seed most of the time because the slugs and bugs massacre them and sowing a bunch at once into one tray saves me time and space. I generally will just prick out into a similar seed tray, spaced evenly, and then plant out from that tray once big enough. I've noticed that my pricked out seedlings grow larger than ones grown directly in modules, which I now no longer use.
For my birthday this week my husband cooked me a massive steak--like 32 oz--and I finished it all. Was almost as good as the liver
Cajun rice. I brown off some chopped. celery, pepper and onion with sausage or kielbasa. Add garlic and Cajun seasoning. Add minced liver and giblets (I prefer using the organ meat from my chickens in this but have done it with other animal livers. The stronger the live type, the more sausage and seasoning I use to hide liver taste). Add cooked rice and parsley. Salt to taste.
On the rare occasion we have giblets--either from a bought turkey or from our own chicken--I mince them raw as finely as possible and then stir them into the gravy at the last minute, allowing them just enough time to cook, but not letting them simmer. I notice the texture of them, at least a little, but not the taste: just tastes like gravy.
I think it may be a little late for my ten year old son to convert to liver, but I've started early with my 9 month old daughter; she enjoys having a few bites of mine when I make it
Flora Eerschay wrote:Thanks! I'll try with sheep fat tomorrow, and maybe with beef fat later too. I now remember that the rabbit I had a few months ago had its fat in unusually hard clumps... could that be melted too?
Definitely. I didn't realise there was enough fat on a rabbit--I'd be interested to hear what it's like. To my taste, sheep fat is kind of strong but I still like it.
I think perhaps another reason it's no longer widely done, is that a lot of modern clothing is made much more cheaply (as in poor quality) and is not worth mending. Although I buy almost all my clothing secondhand, or make it myself, I remember browsing in a mid-market fast fashion shop several years ago, while waiting for a relative to conduct some business nearby. As I was looking at the dresses on the rack, I noticed that many of their seams were so poor they were already coming apart, while still on the rack! How can they justify charging £40 for a dress that's already coming apart at the seams before you even buy it? But that's the reality of modern clothing, or at least the kind of clothing that most of us can afford to buy.
Flora Eerschay wrote:How do you render beef fat? I'm waiting for beef and I'm wondering now if I could ask for the fat too... I mostly used vegetable oils so far.
I chop into small pieces and either bake it (covered) in the oven for about an hour, or just dump it all in my hotter slow cooker for about six hours; I have a not as hot slow cooker that doesn't work as well--the cracklings don't go brown and crispy in that one, but the fat still renders ok.
We like to generously salt the crackling bits and eat them hot like popcorn. I like them even better when they're cold and greasy :)
Our local butcher gives us a bag of beef fat every week, for free (free with our weekly shop, that is). We render it and use it as our go-to cooking fat and I prefer it to other oils/fats with the exception of possibly duck and goose fat. I have also made birdseed balls, candles and soap when we run out of containers to store it in--though after rendering, it does keep several months if not longer. He doesn't give away the pork fat though; I'm not even sure he'd sell it--it goes in his sausages.
Today I put a lamb stew in the slow cooker with garlic, pumpkin chunks, dried chard and dried celery, and a splash of cider (hard cider) among other non-self-produced ingredients. I didn't harvest any of it today--sure is nice to be able to get garden food from the cupboard.
I think maybe my change of heart is partly to do with that fact that I need iron badly--maybe my brain is encouraging me to eat more, making it taste good. To begin with, I told myself it was medicine; after all, medicine usually doesn't taste good! But I told myself if it made me better I would choke it down, no matter how bad it was. Truly, I have never felt exhaustion as profound as this, and it's really limited my normal day to day activities, and is particularly hard keeping up with my nearly 9 month old baby. I would eat much worse to get back to normal.
My husband had a tiny bit not long ago, when I was so enthusiastically shoveling it down, and he agreed it "wasn't bad" and that he might even consider having a small slice for dinner once in a while--on condition it was smothered in onions. I don't really need other people to like it--more liver for me