Steven George

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since Jan 21, 2017
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Building the homestead and raising a family, little by little.
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Finland, Minnesota Zone 4a
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Recent posts by Steven George

Wow, fun topic, so much to say here!  One thing that I think has been ignored in this discussion is the community/local culture factor.  Please, I beg of all young and ambitious homesteaders, do your research on the local community and culture before just buying land in some completely random location half way across the country!  I'm an incredibly lucky homesteader who just happened somewhat by chance to settle in an awesome community with little restrictions (and even less enforcement) here in northern Minnesota about a decade ago.  When I began staying in a wall tent on my friends property 12 years ago and they were legally living completely off-grid with no solar (no electicity at all), no well, no septic, no driveway, no immediate neighbors (no complaints), composting their poop and living in a 120 square foot hand tool built log cabin with their 4 year old kid, I began to think "Huh, this is my kinda place maybe I can settle here and eventually have a family and live a life the way humans ought to!"  Fast forward 12 years and I and my wife now have four kids and our own off-grid property where we are attempting to start a permie intentional community of autonomous homesteads just down the road from my friends property.  When I first came to my friends property, I could have cared less about the outside or larger “community” or “culture”, I was just following my crazy homesteader friends out to the edge of civilization to learn how to live off the land.  Honestly though, that outside “community/culture” is the main thing that has kept us here.  Anyhow, I just would like to state, that the “community/culture” factor is every bit as important as the codes/enforcement etc……. unless you happen to be one of those rare humans that really is more or less a hermit (or hermit-like family unit).

Anyhow, I can personally vouch for my little NE Minnesota community as having few restrictions and being generally very tolerant and used to different lifestyles (but yes we aren’t all that far from Canada eh?).  I won’t go into too much detail on the public forum, but feel free to PM if you want more info on our community.  
3 years ago
I have not read all the replies, but to he original post, and anyone else who cares, here is my method.  We use watered down castile soap for dishes and bathing (about 5 parts water to soap).  I have a personal plate and spoon that I very rarely wash, I just lick it clean every meal.  We also rarely wash spatulas, I lick em off and hang em up near the stove where they dry.  
6 years ago
One more note on Deer tallow...  I believe it to be the best fat in existence for seasoning cast iron pans......  Definitely keeps my skillets good and greasy non-stick whenever I am cooking with it.  Probably due to those "clingy" hard to clean off properties it has.
6 years ago
You are probably right about there being a world of difference between Texas and MN deer.  Are you talking mule deer or whitetails?  I know nothing about mule deer (and I suppose I know nothing about Texas deer in general).  Our whitetails are super fatty in early winter and they tend to thin out by spring.  Our deer tallow does stick to dishes but it easily dissolves with warm water and a little castile soap.  

My broth/stock usually turns our pretty rich and concentrated so this is why I add water whenever cooking grains in it.  If I don't add water, sometimes it seems like it won't cook all the way, kind of like it's saturated with broth and needs more moisture or something.....  it's hard to describe.  

Anne I like your signature by the way!
6 years ago

Anne Miller wrote:I have lots of deer bones but they do not have much fat so I don't use them and the tallow is nasty tasting.

I completely disagree with this statement.  First of all, tallow is fat and I actually really love deer tallow (I know some people don't like it but everyone should decide for themselves).  

I make dozens of gallons of very rich delicious deer bone stock/broth (call it what you will) every year and have been doing so for about 10 years.  I will admit though, it is not great on it's own, it needs to be made into a soup/stew or cooked with something else but it is an amazing base.  In many rural areas in the US, you can get as many free deer carcasses as you want from butcher shops during hunting season.  Be sure to avoid any areas close to the bullet wound as there are sure to be lots of lead particles.  I like to slow roast the ribs in a pan with just salt, eat most of the meat off em and then use the bones, spine etc in my stock/broth.  I always save the rendered tallow and cook with it and it's actually my favorite cooking oil.  Deer heads also make an excellent extremely rich broth/stock and the tongue (once boiled) is one of my favorite pieces of meat from the entire deer.  I like Sarah Milcetic's post and I have also drawn most of my inspiration from Nourishing Traditions, however my recipe is slightly less refined.  This is just my basic stock/broth (not soup) recipe.

I save deer bones in the freezer until I have enough to mostly fill a big stock pot.

Put em in the pot, add water to cover, pour in some apple cider vinegar and then get em up to a boil.  

I leave them on our woodstove usually for at least 3 days.  We heat with wood and I try not to boil them hard, but the time they are actually simmering varies with the outdoor temp so sometimes I leave them on the stove longer.  

I let the broth cool outside and them take the hardened layer of tallow off the top and save it for frying food with.

I fish the bones out with a slotted spoon and try to leave all the other stuff in there because I like my stews to be meaty.  

If I have any marrow bones (leg bones), I split them open to get the marrow out and put it back in the broth.

Making sure it is room temp or cooler, I ladel it into empty yogurt containers and freeze it until I'm ready to make soup or stew.  One yogurt container is a great size for a small soup and you don't even have to fully thaw it, just partially thaw it and pop it out into the pot.  

I sometimes reduce the broth down longer to save on room in the freezer, then I just make sure to label it concentrated.  

I never add anything besides vinegar until I am ready to turn it into a soup.  

Sometimes we cook wild rice or other grains in the broth/stock, but we always have to add water when doing that as well.  Makes for very rich flavored grains.  

I do similar broth/stock with bird bones/carcasses and fish carcasses, pretty mush the same process but usually I don't cook them as long.  The fish bones are actually edible just like in canned fish after you cook them long enough though.  
6 years ago
Oh yes and I would recommend doors on both sides for cross ventilation..... and larger vents at the peak.
6 years ago
Ben Falk talks about potential moisture issues when attaching a greenhouse to an insulated building.  He recommends attaching it to an uninsulated building like a barn....  I haven't really heard anything else against the idea.  We built our attached small (7ftx14ft) greenhouse last year on the SE side of our house.  We only use it for starting seeds though so we haven't really used it at all past our frost date.  We use a separate hoophouse for growing tomatoes in the summer.  I put vents up at the peak of the greenhouse to allow moisture and heat to easily escape.  The vents aren't big enough though and we had to often keep the door open during the spring when we had seedlings.  As I mentioned we've only had it for a year, and I can't very easily see inside my walls, but everything seems fine so far.  We also were able to keep kale alive in there all winter last year without heating it.  We experienced outdoor temperatures of at least negative 25 degrees F last winter but I don't think it got below zero in the attached greenhouse simply because it was absorbing heat from the house.  The outside walls of our house are covered with tar paper and plywood siding.  So I would say if you have tar paper or house wrap under your siding, you'll probably be fine, but I suppose only time will really tell!

6 years ago
Just found some more pictures of construction on my wife's camera

6 years ago
Good to know about the carrots.  Thanks.  We actually did have problems with our carrot storage this year and we weren't really sure the best way to store them.  We had em in ziplock plastic bags in the root cellar for the last month and a half and just noticed some of them starting to get a little moldy a few days ago, so I washed em off and put them in that box until we eat them (that box is the last of our carrots anyhow, so we should be through them pretty fast).  Thanks for the input though!  I've heard of sand being good, to store them.  We tried storing them in damp mulch before putting them in plastic bags, and they seemed to store ok, but a bin full of damp mulch was a bit cumbersome and took up too much space for our small cellar.  Mike can you elaborate on your wood shaving method?  Thanks
6 years ago