Sunday, July 29, 2012

Updates around the homestead and AH we need RAIN

I haven't updated lately about the status of the garden or anything so I thought today would be as good a day as any. For one thing, we NEED rain. Living in the South where it is typically very hot anyways, combined with 100+ temperatures for weeks and no rain since April 24th ( YES! APRIL) we are really having a hard year. The well is the lowest my Dad has seen it his whole life....

Anyways here goes with the updates;
Have I ever shown you all our little school bell? I love it. My parents it bought it at a little yard sell up in the mountains years and years ago. I tied a string on it and ring it to let the kids know when it's time to come inside from playing. Such a fun little addition to our homestead don't you think?
Next is our pear tree. We have two of these beauties and they provide such yummy fruit year after year. This one is already full and will be ready here in just probably about a month.

I just love this tree. It's been such a great source of many, many pounds of pears over the years.
The tomatoes are really really needing a rain. Watering just isn't cutting it. We haven't had the harvest this year we are used to because of the dry conditions. We still are getting tomatoes, but not the yield we are used to. Still delicious though, and the ones we are getting are just as flavorful as ever.
   Then we have the cabbage. We are down to three of these babies. They have been great to us this year and we have enjoyed many cabbage dishes the past few months. These last 3 will come off this week and then our cabbage will be finished for a while. These have been nice and big and hearty and one cabbage feeds our family at least 2 meals.  Muscadines anyone? These are really looking good this year. They typically come off around the middle to end of August and are pretty good at withstanding heat. I've had to run a few racoons out of them, but by and large I am looking for a great yield from these yummy little fruits from the grape family.
We replanted a few squash for  a late picking. The ones we planted in the first of the summer burned up pretty fast, so hopefully these will be coming off towards the end of August.

Peppers. We have some peppers. It doesn't seem like the jalepenos are getting as BIG as we are used to , but they are producing lots just the same.

We have about 10 different varieties of peppers, ranging from sweet, to mild to SMOKING. I'll use them to pickle, and also will make more pepper jelly and some pepper relish also. We also just eat these a lot.
The okra is still producing pretty well. They should hopefully all the way through August and into September. I fry these puppies up, sometimes I boil them, and sometimes I roast them. I'll pickle some and freeze some also for the winter. Beware though before planting a ton of okra that you HAVE to pick it about every other day. It won't make more until you do and the really long, big ones are too tough to eat.  Below are the two rows of them we planted this year. PLENTY let me tell you.

This is my daughter's gourd. She planted it for a 4H project. She wants to make a birdhouse out of it. :)

So that's what is keeping us busy. We are still getting about 8-10 eggs per day and have a few herbs we are still collecting from, mainly cilantro, basil, and dill.

What's been happening in your part of the woods?

Friday, July 13, 2012

If you have to buy your meat at the store....

I recently found the show Mountain Men on tv. I think it is on the History Channel or maybe Nat Geo. Anyways, one of the men said something that has had me thinking. He said ( and don't quote me) but something to the effect of " When you have to start buying your meat from the store, it's the beginning of the end"..... WOW.

This particular episode had the man above that lives in Alaska and he was taking his wife and young daughter on a caribou hunt. They needed meat. Their freezer needed meat to sustain them for the winter. So they hunt. Such a simple complex, yet it seems to be so foreign to so many people now a days.

If you follow my blog you know that our family only eats deer meat and fish that we catch.(We enjoy a wild turkey, pheasant, ducks, geese, rabbit and squirrel also, but those are special treats).   Also on rare occasions we eat seafood when we are fortunate enough to get some fresh from the coast. That was the case this week. We had the great opportunity to share the wonderful experience of oyster tonging, crabbing and some sea fishing with our daughters. They are used to fishing in lakes, but they have never harvested oysters or crabs fresh from the gulf.

Here is a picture of my oldest daughter pulling in a crab trap. You pull it in with a big hook.

Then you empty your yummy crabs from the trap, re bait and throw it back in. You can't see the crabs too well from this picture, but between about 6 traps we had an abundance of crabs for dinner.

Next were the oysters. If you have never seen anyone tong for oysters before it is pretty great. They use what look like post hole diggers with rakes on the end, and basically scoop them up.

You just dump them out and then go through them and kind of cull them. You don't want all the extra materials, only the good oysters .

The shells of the oysters can be sharp so it's important to wear gloves. You can sea the girls helping here which is kind of adorable in my opinion.

Next was fishing. Basically the same as fresh water fishing, just different types of fish. This was a kind of saltwater catfish we caught. We got 6 of these puppies on the day we were out.

We had a feast of crab, oysters and fried catfish for dinner and had plenty to share with our family.
I really want to encourage everyone to think of ways to harvest some of their own meat sources.
Of course not everyone can have herds of cattle, nor does everyone want that. I can't tell you the last time we had beef and we are okay. Not everyone can raise chickens to eat, and again even though we have chickens we don't eat them. But hunting and fishing is something that most can do. America has an abundance of these harvestables and to our family it is a real blessing. Hunting and fishing done humanly, respectfully and lawfully is one of the greatest lessons in sustainability we can leave our children .

What all do you hunt for your family??