All posts by Mr. Homesteader

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WordPress is unfortunately giving me some trouble with uploading media suddenly. Or maybe it’s my hosting. Or something else…who knows?

But we’re picture-less for the time being. Still homesteading and taking pictures, just not able to show you what we’re doing!

This Week’s Homestead Menu–Sick Week :P

Well…let’s see…one official picture this week. We all took turns having a cold so that messed up a lot of our routine. I took a double-dose of my cure and went on with my life.

Monday

This was the sickest of the sick days. Lots of broth and saltines as I recall.

Tuesday

Mrs. Homesteader thawed some homemade chicken noodle soup that we had cooked up and frozen earlier this year. It was a nice gift from our past selves.

Wednesday

The most exciting thing about this meal was the pepper. I mean, the pot pie was good too, but this pepper is the first one we’ve successfully grown in our garden. We’ve tried for the last 3 years without a good pepper so this was particularly satisfying.

Thursday

Out with friends this night so didn’t have to cook!

Friday

I had a late appointment and Mrs. Homesteader wasn’t quite up to cooking (especially with this unseasonable HEAT!). I hit the easy button and picked up some Thai food.

…we really need to stop doing that. Especially since the quality was disappointing this time.

Spicy Tom Ka soup, Chicken Satay, and Pad Thai.

Mr. Homesteader’s Cure for the Common Cold

Despite it being a beautiful 80-degree end to the summer, the Homesteader Family seems to have caught a bad cold. Sniffles and snot, coughing and hacking, sinus pressure and pain, I HATE being sick! I understand that no one likes being sick, but there’s a measurable, active difference between “I don’t like this” and “I hate this”.

I knew I needed to shorten this period of misery and I was unsatisfied with the chemicals from the store. Thus I began searching and experimenting with concoctions and recipes from hither and yon. I read articles from the Internet, poured over old journals from gold rush miners, and even analyzed some Latin writing from Roman generals.

Finally, I succeeded in augmenting a cure that’s based on something French Voyageurs used to use when they were hundreds of miles away from civilization and didn’t have access to medicine. It’s a little mystical but don’t let that stop you from giving it a shot. It always gets me back on my feet and I thought I’d share it. Plus, in true Homesteader fashion, it’s 100% organic, free-range, and made from recyclable materials. Hippies rejoice!

Mr. Homesteader’s Cure for the Common Cold
Ingredients:
-4 cups of grit
-2 cups of “suck it up, cupcake”
-3 tablespoons of “quit your whining”
-1 tablespoon of “tell me when you’re actually sick”
-1 teaspoon of “get over it”
-Frank’s Red Hot to taste
Directions:
Pour the grit into a large bowl and fold in the “suck it up, cupcake”. Think about all the things you need to get done despite the fact that you’re sick. Add the “quit your whining” and “tell me when you’re actually sick”. Whisk together rapidly and remember that you have been and will be sicker than you are now. It’s really not that bad after all. Slowly add the granules of “get over it” as you fight the temptation to feel sorry for yourself. Let the whole thing sit for a day at the most. Serve chilled with Frank’s Red Hot

This Week’s (belated) Homestead Menu

Well it’s 2 or 3 days late, but here’s our dinners from last week.

Monday

I honestly have no idea. There isn’t a picture logged and I can’t remember! Maybe Mrs. Homesteader can help me out when she sees this post

Tuesday

Sloppy Joe’s with a side salad (homegrown veggies in there) and raspberries. Raspberries are store-bought for now, but we have some transplanted bushes that we’re hoping will take off next year.

Wednesday

Mrs. Homesteader cooked up a recipe from her childhood. It’s pork chops with tater tots on top and a thick, creamy sauce holding it all together. I thought it would be kind of runny, but the tots were nice and crispy!

Thursday

Spaghetti night! Mrs. Homesteader did some homemade meatballs and we mixed in some more of our homemade sauce. One of our friends offered to teach us how to make noodles so stay tuned for that one of these days.

Friday

I had to take off for a bachelor party so the rest of the Homesteader family opted for a pizza (it’s not delivery…). I added some of our tomatoes and peppers.

 

This Week’s Homestead Menu–We Ate A Rooster!

Monday

We still had some homemade bread to use from Sunday night’s meal so I cut it up and made a sort of pizza bruschetta bites with some of our homemade tomato sauce and of course more cucumber.

 

Tuesday

Mrs. Homesteader put together a delicious Spanish tortilla along with a side salad and bread. That red wine is from an extraordinarily fancy $5 bottle from Aldi. As you can tell, we’re doing quite well for ourselves (really I just don’t understand the taste differences in wine so cheap stuff is just fine for me)

Wednesday

Michigan is on a cold streak it seems so hot soup and sandwiches hit the spot. The butternut squash soup was made and frozen in October of last year and is some of our best work! Unfortunately the picture won’t work so you’ll just have to imagine it.

 

Thursday

I got home from work pretty late and Mrs. Homesteader had a heck of a time with The Boy and The Girl. We hit the easy button and this happened.

We were so ravenous that I barely remembered to take a picture

Friday

I popped in the rooster from Monday into the crock pot for a nice slow cook. We had let the meat “cure” in the fridge for a few days and I’m told that makes quite a difference in making it more tender (rather than trying to cook it within a day of slaughter).

It turned out to look and taste mostly like anything you’d get in a store. Everyone in the family ate it and liked it, which was a big win considering the pickiness of The Girl.

Meat Chicken Swath of Destruction

Behind those fuzzy feather beat the hearts of lawn murderers.

I knew this was going to happen, but for some reason it still surprised me.  The chickens scratch and peck at anything that might possibly be edible so they’ve been leaving this trail of destruction in their wake. When the new blades of green grass come under the shadow of our chicken tractor–we’ve affectionately named it “The Nugget-Mobile”–they immediately get devoured by beak and talon.

I’m told the grass will come back greener and healthier than ever, but for now I have to deal with this eyesore of dirt and dung scorched earth.

It’s a sort of destructive lawn roomba (patent pending)

What We Learned From Slaughtering Our Own Chickens

Note from the author: This post is on the graphic side so if you feel hesitation in reading or seeing pictures about butchering animals, it’s probably best to act on that instinct and skip this post. Notes about killing, cutting, and gutting a chicken follow.

Through some connections and conversations over the last couple of weeks, I came across 3 unwanted roosters. They were under a year old (still tender enough for butcher) and the owner had no use for them. A friend and I jumped on the opportunity to practice on some birds before our meat chicken co-op is complete.

At no cost besides time and effort, we could learn the ins and outs of slaughtering and butchering chickens. It would give us an idea of all the work necessary to bring chicken to the table, which ended up being pretty substantial when it’s a small scale like this. With this experience we would know if it was worth it to do it again when our chickens were ready or if we wanted to pay for someone else to do it.

So we both read articles and watched videos, but we knew that like anything else, the real education is in the doing.

Side Note: Some people are happy to teach their kids about the source of meat early on, but I had Mrs. Homesteader take the kiddos for a beach day. I figured that we’d be making plenty of mistakes this first time through (we did) and it might be a little scarring (it was).

You can find better “how-to” articles than this blog. These are just some notes from our first attempt at this.

We used the following equipment:

Table covered in plastic sheeting, metal pots with lids, propane burner and tank, 5-gallon buckets, coolers, rake, wheelbarrow, hammer and nails, plastic jugs, latex gloves, knives, dish soap, gallon-sized plastic bags, and paper towels.

After setting up all our equipment, we nailed a couple of plastic jugs (“kill cones”) to a tree  to hold the chickens upside-down and let the blood drain into a pile of leaves in a wheelbarrow.

Click here for a picture of the chicken draining (warning: graphic)

We set up hot and cold water buckets to loosen the feathers, a bit of dish soap was in the hot bucket since that’s supposed to help.

After a thorough dunking, we pulled the feathers out to prepare them for gutting and then began the messy business of getting rid of the insides.

We re-watched some YouTube videos to make sure we got that part right. Finally we put the chickens in plastic bags to refrigerate for a few days before trying to cook one.

What did we learn?

A thorough setup saves a lot of time and hassle.

Once we started, I ended up darting back and forth a few times to grab various items we hadn’t thought about or didn’t know we would need. Now that we’ve done the whole process, we should be able to get everything setup right at the beginning.

Sharp knives are key.

From the first throat-slitting to the final gutting, we really appreciated how much time had gone into sharpening the knives. It made for a quicker, more humane kill and a much easier time when we were separating the meat.

We need to really swish the chickens.

We were worried about scalding the first chicken too much and accidentally cooking the meat. Unfortunately, our caution led to a long and tedious feather-plucking since we hadn’t scalded it long or thoroughly enough. We learned our lesson and the next 2 were much easier. We made sure to move the wings around and get hot water soaking in every part of the other birds.

Our location has a big bee problem. (not to be confused with a coffee place or over-sized insects)

I knew flies would be attracted to our work, but I had no idea how many bees would join in. There were about a dozen constantly buzzing about, crawling on and, most annoyingly, in the chickens. I was very reluctant to reach inside to get the guts when I suspected there might be a stinger waiting for me. I’m not exactly sure how to fix this problem since doing this inside isn’t an option.

 

In the end, we called the whole process a success and we’ll be better-equipped when our meat chickens are ready to go. We’ll let you know how the meat is!

This Week’s Homestead Menu–Only 3 meals pictured this time

Monday

Mrs. Homesteader made some deeeeelicious lasagna-like shells with cheese! We used tomato sauce we had put together from our garden. The Boy ate with abandon while The Girl, unfortunately, was not impressed and wouldn’t eat it. She received a PB & J with a look of disapproval.

Tuesday

We enjoyed a smorgasbord (I looked up the spelling) consisting of leftovers. General Tso’s Chicken, buttered shells with Parmesan, pizza…it was an odd meal.

Wednesday

I had to go straight from work to a meeting so I grabbed some fast food. The rest of the Homesteader Family had a homemade spinach pesto with noodles of some kind.

Thursday

Chicken Gyro’s! Mrs. Homesteader has been trying to help use up some of the abundant cucumber harvest and a homemade tzatziki sauce was part of the solution. We also got to use some of our homemade yogurt for that sauce.

Friday

We took a trip to the zoo and had pizza for dinner with some Homesteader relatives. No picture of the pizza, but here we are at the zoo:

Our zoo let’s you feed the giraffes! The Boy and The Girl loved it!

 

This Week’s Homesteading–Daddy-daughter pickles!

Pickles

Mrs. Homesteader was out and and The Boy was asleep so The Girl and I processed more cucumbers. She did really well stirring the brine and stuffing in the slices in jars. This makes I think 2 gallons of Bread and Butter Pickles in the last month

Dirt and Sun Baths

The hens were allowed to roam for a bit and quickly found a nice dirt patch to scratch around in.

The chicks were allowed to roam too and quickly turned themselves from bright yellow to dull gray

Garden Harvest

The cantaloupe was the most enjoyable. The Boy made himself pretty sticky in celebration! We also brought in cucumbers, plenty of tomatoes, and it seems our beans are starting to grow again…

This Week’s Homestead Menu–Soup, cantaloupe, and more

Both myself and Mrs. Homesteader love to cook. We eat very well at our house! We’re far from the healthiest family out there, but we do continually aim for either homegrown or at least with ingredients we can read and understand. Local meat is highly preferred!

Monday

We were out a friends house and didn’t have to cook. We contributed a green salad with various veggies from our garden. We also brought a cantaloupe from the garden that was devoured quickly

So proud, so noble, so beautiful
I forgot to take a picture of the meal so here is the cantaloupe in the wild!

Tuesday

Mrs. Homesteader cooked up a Chicken Fajita Casserole. We served more cantaloupe from our garden with it

Wednesday

We made a couple of french bread pizzas…not a ton of “wholesome” or “homegrown” here.

Thursday

We had a cold front here in Michigan so Mrs. Homesteader put together a Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup with some Drop Biscuits. I’ll have to get her to share both recipes sometime because they will feed both  body and soul

Friday

We were setting up for a Saturday garage sale so we had to push the easy button…hello takeout Chinese! Probably the least-healthy meal we’ve had in a good while