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A Quick Update

By: Everett S

waylon-agnesI realize we haven’t posted much lately so I wanted to give a quick update on a few things.

Company, Travel and Friends
We have had a lot of company over the last couple of months, and I was out of town for work an entire week. We have really enjoyed our time spent with both sides of our family recently, as well as visiting friends, potlucks, jams and everything else going on around here. Whoever thinks that moving to the country means being lonely can rest assured that this is not always true. But now the dust is settling and we have decided to spend our first Thanksgiving and Christmas at our new home, as a new “family”. And I am very much looking forward to a few weekends in which I can just focus on the basics of life, such as gathering firewood, kindling, mulching, pruning, fishing, playing with my son and wandering through the woods.

Hunting Season
A Freezer Full of Deer MeatRifle hunting season for deer opened this past weekend and my brother and three of his kids were here hunting with me. I only hunt for food, which means I only take does. That works out nicely since I’ve only ever seen one buck on our property anyway. I spent Saturday morning in a hay loft with my nephew, both of us freezing our toes off while waiting for a deer to make its way into the field. With gunshots going off in all directions I guess we should have figured the deer weren’t coming out in the open that day. So that afternoon I decided to venture off into the woods by myself. It was nice to be sitting on the back side of the property for a few hours. I found a soft mossy spot on which to sit with my back leaned up against the flat side of a rock outcropping. After about a half hour of being there nature seemed to start going on about her business. I watched a woodpecker get grubs out of a tree. I’d always thought them destructive until that moment, and realized what they do is akin to the birds in Africa that pick parasites off the backs of herd animals. I also watched a squirrel go back and forth dozens of times between a large oak and a stump, where it was depositing its stores of acorns for the winter. Then I heard some twigs snap and looked over to see a big doe coming around the corner…

One of these days I’ll post a how-to video on processing a deer, but you’ll have to wait until I’m confident enough to do so. This was only my second time processing deer, but it was easier this time that the first, and I suspect it will continue to get easier with each time. We now have a freezer full of steaks, roasts and burger meat – free range, natural, no antibiotics or hormones – all for the price of a single 270 caliber shell and a few hours of processing with my brother, which was actually some of the most quality time I’ve spent with him since we were kids. Say what you will about hunting, vegetarianism, etc… We eat less meat than the average American, I think, but the fact is we are omnivores and make no excuses for it. All “scrap meat” that was trimmed off during processing was boiled with brown rice and will be our dog food for the next several weeks. A lot of hide goes to waste when you don’t use that part of the animal. I hope to make use of it once I feel comfortable with all of the other aspects of processing a deer. I’d also like to start keeping the tallow (i.e. fat) for soapmaking instead of the rendered beef lard we’ve been buying in tubs. The more we can get out of each deer the better, not just for altruistic reasons, but because it is a lot of work to kill and process a deer. First it involves hunting, which could take the entire day (not that it isn’t enjoyable), and once you kill a deer you have to “field dress” it (i.e. take the guts out) before transporting it to wherever you’re going to do the processing. After sharpening your knives, which makes all the difference, you have to hang it, skin it, let it cool overnight (if the temp drops low enough), cut off the meat, dispose of the carcase, grind the burger, trim the steaks and roasts… Then it’s time to either can, dry or freeze the meat. After that you need to clean the grinder, knives, all working surfaces and yourself. And just when you thought it was all done you remember that you have to clean your gun.

Missy’s Art
She’ll probably post some things of her own, but while I’m giving an update I should mention that Missy has been getting some of her artwork into local stores. She’s been spending more time out in her studio working on the things she enjoys working on, not because she has to, but because she wants to. Waylon accompanies her and either naps, nurses, plays with mamma or watches his Monster’s Inc. DVD while Missy sews her owl pillows, upcycled purses, curtains for the house, or works on her yarn spinning and knitting. You can see some of it on her site, Salvaged Threads.

The Baby
He’s five months old now, has two front teeth, smiles all the time, sleeps through the night on most nights, and is generally just becoming an awesome little joyful boy who makes me look forward to every day. He makes me appreciate everything so much more.

Projects Done and in The Works
The weather is turning so we won’t be doing as much outside work. But we have another soapmaking batch coming up and I am looking for cheesepress designs so I can begin making cheeses that are bigger than the 5″ PVC pipe I’ve been using. If you know any that I can make I’d love to hear about them! The observatory exterior has been painted, and any holes patched with wood or silicone to keep the water out. The pipes in the basement have been wrapped to protect us from freezing water lines. I’ve started clearing out several parts of the property that were covered in briars. Woodcutting is an ongoing task. Clyde now has a dog house mansion. We’ve started opening up some trails through our woods. The kitchen wood cookstove has been patched up in a few places so it is now more efficient and cleaner-burning. We put hardwood floors in the bedroom, which was the only room in the house that didn’t have them. My two worm bins are ready to be harvested again. I put chickenwire around the compost piles to keep the dogs and some other critters out.

I’d like to fix some of the boards on the barn that have dry rotted to the point of needing replaced. I still need to do some serious pruning on pretty much every fruit and nut tree or bush on the property. I still want to get the garden mulched. Instead of importing straw this year, I’ve started using the wood chipper / shredder that was left behind from the previous occupants. It works like a charm and does double duty as it helps me clean up the undergrowth and open up paths in the woods while making mulch for the garden and bushes. Question: If I mulch the blueberry bushes with wood chips will it be more likely that mice will move in there and gnaw on the bushes this winter?

All-in-all, life is good. So if you don’t hear from us just assume we’re happy keeping busy and busy keeping happy.

 

I’d also like to share this for a friend:
Which fruit tree is the easiest to grow in your backyard? How can your family stay warm during a winter power outage? What tools do you really need to make your homestead a success? Can you build your homestead using free tools and supplies?

Weekend Homesteader: December answers these questions and more as it walks you through the basics of planting your first fruit trees, staying warm without electricity, understanding the uses of essential tools, and turning trash into treasures.  Available for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/Weekend-Homesteader-December-ebook/dp/B006A8S73S

And don’t forget, Weekend Homesteader: November gives you tips on roasting a chicken and delicious root vegetables — a more manageable Thanksgiving meal for the small family.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00609YAYC/

— Anna Hess
Blog: www.waldeneffect.org
POOP-free chicken waterer at www.avianaquamiser.com

Category: Family, Food, Rants, The Transplants

Comments (11)

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  1. v8grrl says:

    boy, the kid is really growing! gotta stop feeding him! :)
    a funny: I was looking at the hunting season post part…I thought the bag said Seal Meat! hahahahaha I was thinking, Man…you can’t get seal meat there!
    then I realized it said “seal a meal” bwahahahaha

    :)
    v8
    seriously

  2. SanDandy says:

    I was wondering where you had gone. I am soooo happy to hear all the wonderful things you have been doing. Here is wishing you and your family a really WONDERFUL holiday season.

  3. Everett says:

    LOL @ Seal Meat
    We use a Food Saver machine to get the air out of the bags and seal (as in closing) them up before putting them in the freezer.

  4. Anna says:

    Wood of any sort does tend to attract small mammals, but in my limited experience, they’re mostly shrews and moles eating up the grubs in the soil. (Of course, that can be a problem too when your dog digs up the whole bed to get to the shrews. Bad Lucy!)

    Be careful with using fresh wood chips on your vegetable garden, though. You’ll want to counteract that high carbon material with a copious supply of high nitrogen compost.

  5. Angie says:

    Thanks for posting Missy’s etsy site! I added you to my circle and my favorites…your stuff is great! I am glad to hear from you all again, as you continue to keep me inspired for our own moving day to the homestead we are dreaming of!

    Angie
    breedbaby.etsy.com
    smart. unconventional. creative.
    Clothes for hip babies|hip kids

  6. Lani says:

    Yay for sleep! :-) So happy to hear the update. Everything sounds so wonderful! I’ve been wanting an owl pillow do I’m going to check out Missy’s site. Thanks for the link. Enjoy the holidays in your new home!

  7. Missy says:

    Thanks Angie! I love your stuff too. Keep the dream alive! :)

  8. Ed says:

    Use pine mulch on blueberries. It will help lower the pH, which is what they like.

    Don’t mulch up to the trunk of your plants. Keep it a couple of inches away. That will also help keep the rodents from getting to comfortable. They will have to be exposed to gnaw on the trunk.

  9. mark says:

    mmmmm…seal meat.

    Congrats on thinning your local herd.

    Curious to know which type of .270 caliber point you prefer to take down a seal?

  10. Jen Lopez says:

    Thanks for this great update! I’m so glad to hear that things are going well for you and your family. As a city girl, I don’t know much about any of the stuff you’re doing now. So I can’t offer much advice. I’m happy to hear the wee one is sleeping though, that makes for a happy family. :)

    Don’t be such a stranger with these updates!
    Jen

  11. Everett says:

    Thanks Ed! I thought about the pine needles for mulch at one point when thinking of natural ways to acidify the soil, and promptly forgot about it as soon as it came time to put it into practice. I have to learn ten things to remember one of them; it’s a very inefficient way of using the brain. That’s a good idea about exposing a couple inches of the trunk too.

    Thanks Jen. The invite is still open BTW!

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