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Simple and Delicious Deer Jerky Recipe

November 23, 2016 – 1:00 am

I’ll share with you my favorite way to marinade venison to make delicious deer jerky. You’ll love how simple and easy it is!

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The Homestead Life »

Homestead Diary: We’re Snowed In.

January 11, 2017 – 5:08 pm


January 10, 2017

We’re going on five days snowed in on the homestead. We didn’t get a ton of snow, but the 9-10 inches that we did get was enough to prevent us from being able to make the winding drive through the woods to the main road. As the sun has popped out here and there it has melted some of the snow, but overnight temperatures in the single digits have turned the puddles into sheets of ice too treacherous to attempt to drive over. The kids and I will be hunkered down here at home until the ice melts and the driveway is passable again.

My husband, who had planned for the snow, parked his truck at the top of the driveway and hiked home so that he would be able to get out again. Currently we are full time caregivers to my grandfather, so it was important that one of us was able to get back to him after our weekend home. He will stay with my grandpa in town until I am able to get my SUV onto the main roads, and then we will trade places so that I can take over the caregiving duties for a while.

The kids have enjoyed playing in the snow, sledding, building snow men, having snowball fights, and playing in their pallet playhouse, dubbed the “snow castle”.  Little Elias, who will be six in a few months, played and played until his cheeks were so red and his fingers so frozen that he finally tearfully gave in and retreated indoors. His misery was quickly lost over a cup of homemade hot cocoa.

Yesterday, while the kids played, I cooked wheat berries over the wood stove for a hot cereal lunch. The warm, chewy grains sweetened with chopped apples, golden raisins, and maple syrup was a welcomed treat to the hungry children.

It has been a full time job staying on top of the pile of wet winter clothing shed at the door every time someone comes in to warm up. A half-dozen pairs of boots, wool socks, and gloves, hats, coats, snow bibs, long underwear, and sweatshirts are constantly being placed by the fire to dry. The large floor drying rack is full of wet clothing, trays with dripping boots sit by the stove, and cold gloves are clothes-pinned to a line hung across the fireplace mantel.

Keeping the fire going has also been quite a chore. This house we live in must have terrible insulation. It gets so darned cold! Every two hours I’m loading more wood into the wood stove, doing my best to keep the chill at bay. Overnight is particularly difficult. My husband, Jerry, stuck plastic wrap over all of the windows in the house, which helps, but it still gets so cold inside once the sun goes down. Last night I nailed a wool blanket over the back door to help block the cold draft that was coming in. I have the kids sleeping in sleeping bags, with box fans blowing from the living room down the hall toward their bedrooms to circulate the hot air from the stove. On super cold nights we pile mattresses in the main living area and close off all of the bedrooms to keep warm.

The chickens seem to be doing alright. Before the storm blew in, Jerry wrapped the windows and door of the chicken coop with thick plastic, and filled the interior with fresh straw. He also experimented with putting a bottle of salt water in the chicken water to keep it from freezing… a trick he’d read somewhere. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The two liter bottle of salt water didn’t freeze, but the bucket of water it sat in froze around it, trapping the bottle in ice. We’ll just have to continue refilling their waterer with hot water every morning. The chickens will venture out into the snow, but I have to rescue them and return them to the warmth of their coop when their feet get so cold that they seem to freeze in place and they refuse to take one more step, even as the sun is going down (which is when they always return to the coop). So far none of the hens show signs of frost-bite on their combs.

Right now the house is a cozy 72* and smells of pumpkin pie, which is baking in the oven. We’ve been fortunate that our power hasn’t gone out in the storm. Usually we lose power as soon as ice forms. We have the generator parked under shelter behind the house, and lots of water bottles filled, just in case. And of course we have plenty of food. The solar panels aren’t getting any charge from underneath their blanket of snow. We’ll just have to wait until the sun melts it off.

The kids are getting a little stir crazy when they’re indoors. We don’t have cable or internet or gaming devices to entertain them, though we do have a DVD player to watch movies on when we get desperate. The kids have mostly been playing with their toys, reading books, pretending the clothes basket is an airplane, and cutting up colorful seed catalogues making collages of flowers and edible gardens. We all look forward to gardening season.

Speaking of gardens, I’m regretting not wrapping our young fruit trees before the snow came in. It has been on my to-do list since fall, but kept getting pushed off. Hopefully none of the trees will have damage to their trunks.

I love the way everything looks when covered with fresh snow. Especially the fir trees. However, I can’t say that I like the cold. I’m grateful we don’t live in an even colder climate. Our winters are typically pretty mild here in the southeast. Hopefully it will be cold enough to kill the larvae of bothersome garden pests.

This evening I was putting the chickens up for the night, my snowboots crunching their way through the frozen garden, when I took notice of the Jerusalem Artichoke patch. A few dead stalks are still poking up through the snow, the only evidence that anything ever grew there. I suddenly felt comforted knowing that just underneath that cold, white blanket lies a food source, still perfectly harvestable. I need to be more intentional about growing food that can stay preserved in the ground overwinter, just in case we should ever depend on it.

Anyways, I think I’ll go grab another cup of coffee. I’ve been drinking way too much lately. I said to myself that I’d quit drinking it starting at the beginning of the new year. That lasted about two days. Wintertime is no time to quit drinking delicious, hot coffee when you’re used to waking up to it each morning! Maybe I’ll quit in spring when dandelion root tea will be in season.

It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow. Maybe we’ll be able to venture out. Until then, I’m grateful to be safe in a warm, dry home full of love, laughter, and good food!

Today I did something crazy. I cancelled our internet.

January 3, 2017 – 6:34 am

It’s the beginning of a new year, and I’m ready for some long overdue changes.
Today, I gathered up my nerve, dialed my internet service provider, and summoned the words I’d been meditating on for months …

The Best Way To Store Fresh Radishes To Keep Them Crisp

December 7, 2016 – 9:58 am

Fresh radishes will get rubbery if left out too long. Here’s how to store fresh radishes to keep them crisp and ready to eat for several weeks! Fridge or no fridge.

Firewood Storage: Why We Built A Woodshed

November 28, 2016 – 2:29 pm

How to store firewood to keep it dry and ready to burn… and why you should consider building a woodshed.

How To Can Venison

November 28, 2016 – 2:00 am

Canned venison is delicious, and a great way to have pre-cooked meat on hand at all times.

Heating With a Wood Stove vs. a Water Stove

October 26, 2016 – 8:17 pm

The pros and cons of heating your home with a wood stove vs. a water stove. Which is best? I’ll help you decide.

Raising Freedom Ranger Chickens For Meat

October 24, 2016 – 12:48 pm

Our experience raising Freedom Ranger chickens for meat, and why I would recommend them for your homestead.

From Gangs To Goats

October 14, 2016 – 10:43 am

I recently did an interview with Tim Young from The Self Sufficient Life, which I must say was my absolute favorite interview of all time- hands down. He touched on things I’ve never talked about …

How To Install A Permanent Clothesline. Metal vs Wood.

September 9, 2016 – 8:35 am

An easy, step-by-step guide to installing a permanent clothesline. Plus, why we like metal t-posts better than wood. (Disaster story to follow!)

A Garden Bad Guy: The Hammerhead Worm

September 9, 2016 – 5:50 am

If you find a hammerhead worm on your property, it could mean bad news for your garden! Here’s what you need to know…

A Lesson About Contentment From The Fir Tree

August 11, 2016 – 5:25 am

I read a bedtime story to my children the other day, and felt that its lesson was meant more for me in that moment than for the kids. In this imperfect and often uncertain journey …

Living with Grandpa and Alzheimer’s

July 7, 2016 – 10:29 pm

Being a full time caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging for sure. But there are many blessings to be had as well.

Hot Ash Stove Review and Giveaway!

June 28, 2016 – 8:15 am

Looking for a portable, wood burning stove? Check out my field review of the Hot Ash Stove and see if it might be exactly what you need! Great for camping, off grid cooking, and emergency preparedness.

The Pie Cherry Tree

June 7, 2016 – 9:02 pm

Harvesting cherries from our Montmorency Cherry Tree. These tart little fruits are perfect for canning or making yummy desserts!

Condensed Tomato Soup Canning Recipe

June 3, 2016 – 9:29 am

A simple and delicious condensed tomato soup canning recipe made from fresh ingredients.

Edible Landscaping: Nanking Cherry Bushes

June 2, 2016 – 7:47 am

Nanking Cherry Bushes make a beautiful ornamental shrub or hedge, and are loaded with little edible cherries delicious straight off the bush.

How To Peel Chicken Feet, and Prepare Them To Cook

May 26, 2016 – 2:26 pm

Chicken feet make an excellent addition to soup stock, and are full of rich, nutritious gelatin. If you can get over the yuck factor, they’re totally worth learning how to use!