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

Homemade Chicken Tractor

A friend of ours delivered this chicken tractor today. It’s part of our mini co-op to raise these 8 little nuggets as a continuing experiment in homesteading and self-sufficiency.

The idea is that you move the chicken tractor to a new spot every 2-3 days so that they don’t completely destroy the land underneath them. If you leave them in place, they’ll eat every blade of grass and leave themselves with little more than a muddy pit. For instance, our 3 hens started out with a chicken run that looked like this:

Pullets are the awkward teenagers of chickens
Here they are as pullets a little over a year ago!

But they soon devoured their salad bar and turned it into a patch of dirt:

All grown up!

With that in mind, the tractor was built with more lightweight materials and included a rope to pull the whole contraption.

Such innovation!

Half of it is covered with a tarp to provide protection from the elements and I was able to hang their water from some of the conduit. Hopefully having it raised off the ground will keep it a little cleaner!

It uses the plastic conduit as ribs and has chicken wire stretched and stapled over that to provide protection from local predators (raccoons, possums, local cats/dogs, Bear Grylls, etc.).

The only thing I’m a little worried about is animals digging under the sides at night. I’ve seen evidence of that with our other chicken coop, but I flared out about a foot of chicken wire at the bottom of that one to make sure they couldn’t get in. I might need to do that to this one as well.

This is plenty of space for 8 meat birds. At approximately 30 square feet, that’s more than double what they actually need to stay relaxed.

And as an after-thought, I think I might be able to re-tool this slightly in the winter to make a hoop house and grow some lettuce or spinach while the snow falls…

This Week’s Homesteading–Relish, Carrot Soup, and More

This is the prime season for food processing so we have been very busy!

Pickle Relish

I hope that pun didn't make you cringe...
We relish these sorts of homesteading opportunities

Cucumbers have done really well this year to the point where we were scrambling for ideas of how to process them. I gave pickle relish a try and it seems to have turned out well enough

 

Carrot Soup

Carrots bubbling away

The carrots surprised us this year. This is the first time we had more than a handful of stunted balls of orange. We blanched and froze some slices and made two batches of soup so far. Mrs. Homesteader had a recipe from when she studied abroad in Spain!

 

Tomato Sauce

These are Roma and Sunburst tomato varieties

We planted around twenty-five different tomato plants this year and had quite a yield. Last year we did several batches of creamy tomato soup, but this year we’ve opted for simple sauce. The orange Sunburst tomatoes give it an incredible sweetness. We also got our hands on a food mill to make it creamier

 

Meat Chickens

Turns out these baby/toddler fences make good chick housing

The new meat chicks required a lot of hands-on time this week since they’re still small and vulnerable. They stay in the garage under a heat lamp at night while they get to be in the sun pecking at the grass during the day. Soon our chicken tractor will be complete and we can keep them outside as long as it doesn’t get too cold. When they get their feathers, they’ll stay outside 24/7.

 

We’re hoping to put up the recipes we used for the soups and relish soon. Plenty more to do…stay tuned!

Meat Chickens–Fatter and Uglier Every Day

A friend and I decided to try doing some meat chickens over the next couple of months. It’s a fairly low-cost experiment to expand our self-sufficiency and also to have an excuse to build something.

We’re planning on a chicken tractor to house them, which supplies plenty of benefits. I only have an acre of land and it’s in a neighborhood so keeping them contained is a high priority. It also provides sufficient protection from predators like raccoons, possums, and this hawk:

...I pulled a muscle
I ran outside and chucked a shoe at him

It’s been 2 weeks now and they started out fuzzy and cute:

“Cheep Cheep Cheep!”

Since then, they’ve gotten fatter, uglier, and possibly dumber as they move to the next stage as pullets.

The fuzz is slowly disappearing

Apparently, breeding chickens for rapid growth comes at the expense of intelligence. They regularly knock over their food and poop in their water and that doesn’t stop them from turning around and consuming it…

I’ll keep you updated on their continued growth and stupidification

Is Homemade Granola Cheaper Than Buying At A Store?

There are tons of choices of granola at the store so why spend the effort making your own?

I’ve shared my process for making homemade granola, but here I wanted to research whether or not it’s cost-effective. Here are the ingredients from the recipe I posted:

  • -2 cups steel-cut oats
  • -1 tablespoon olive oil
  • -1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • -1/2 cup dried fruit
  • -1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • -1 tablespoon syrup
  • -Pinch of salt

Here’s a price list using Aldi or Meijer store brand prices. The syrup price is from the fake, high-fructose corn syrup varieties. Canadians say that this is the sort of syrup you get from tapping telephone poles so I advise against it!

Homemade Granola Ingredient Price List

So a grand total of $0.14/oz from the yield of this recipe (I left out the negligible cost of salt). Is that cheaper than store-bought granola?

Yep. By a long shot.

In fact, it’s less than half of some of the name-brand granola. Here are some comparisons:

  • Bear Naked–$0.37/oz
  • General Mills Protein Granola–$0.38/oz
  • Store Brand Granola Bars–$0.28/oz
  • Various Cereals–$0.20-$0.32/oz

It’s your choice in the end. It’s $1.12 for a cup of delicious, homemade stuff or almost $3 for the top-quality granola at the store.

Homemade Granola

It’s tastier, cheaper, and healthier than buying it from the store so why not make it at home? The added bonus is that our house smells like maple syrup and vanilla for hours afterward!

It’s a pretty family-friendly activity too. Our 3-year-old Lucy loves holding the measuring cup while we pour ingredients and does a passable job stirring it up.

We made it while our 1-year-old was taking a nap so that made it a bit easier too.

Ingredients:

-2 cups steel-cut oats

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews…good with sliced almonds too)

-1/2 cup dried fruit

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

-1 tablespoon syrup

-Pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F

Mix everything except the dried fruit together in a bowl. You can add the fruit, but it tends to get a bit tough after cooking. I cooked them in this batch and the wife and kids didn’t enjoy it.

Spread them thinly on a cookie sheet or two (aluminum foil keeps clean up easier). Toast for 15 minutes. Remove the sheets, shuffle the granola, and return to toast for another 15. Repeat until you reach the crunchiness and color you want.

Here are a couple pictures of my double- batch:

Before:

After:

 

Next time I’ll have to look up some alternative flavorings and possibly try making clusters. Have you tried doing this differently? Any suggestions?

 

The First Post!

 

Welcome to the blog! This is totally unique, right? No one has ever thought to launch a blog…

So here we are pioneering the idea.

We’re using this more as a living scrapbook for our adventures in homesteading than anything else. We thought other people might be interested in our successes and failures and that we might even be able to convince a few people to give some of these projects a try.

We’ll be experimenting in gardening, storing food, livestock care, composting, building projects, and anything else that fits in the “homesteading” category.

Briefly, here’s an introduction to your homesteaders:

How many tries do you think this took?
How many tries do you think this took?

Mr. Homesteader is a very serious businessman that never engages in sarcasm or humor of any sort. Smiling and laughing is completely inappropriate.

Posing or candid? The world may never know
This is from the mountains in Puerto Rico

Mrs. Homesteader loves to bake. She’s fluent in Spanish and loves to travel. She’s found enormous satisfaction in motherhood and stays very busy keeping The Homesteader Kids very busy.

Muy bonita! :)
This is picture from our wedding

The Homesteader Kids are incredible bundles of joy for Mr. and Mrs. Homesteader. While you’ll probably only see pictures of them smiling and playing nicely here, rest assured that they are as challenging and messy as your own. The Boy likes to put rocks in his mouth and The Girl likes to scream.

Most of the time they scream at each other
Once in a blue moon they can share nicely

Stick around for projects you can try on your scratch of land.

See you next time!