Thursday, January 16, 2014

10 Reasons To Homestead

Everyone has their own reasons for following their passions and living the life they choose. For my hubby and I our passion led us out to a three acre plot of land in the country to start a small homestead for our family. Over the transition of moving from the city, to the suburbs and finally the country we spent many hours discussing the reasons why homesteading would be right for us and why we would like to homestead in the country.

We wanted to share our reasons with you. Whether if you are a person just playing with the idea to homestead, you are just curious or you are ready to pack your bags and get out of dodge there may be something on our list that will help you with your decisions. What is cool is that homesteading can be done anywhere,  for us that meant a few acres in the country. We could have found a larger plot of land and started bigger with more animals many acres of field to plant, but right now we wanted to start with a piece of land where we can have our chickens, a large garden and room for small quantities of larger animals. We have a space that isn't too large but has plenty of room for what we need and gives us  plenty of work.

We didn't have to go with as many acres as we did or even as far out as we did homesteading can be done wherever you call home. It can start with a small garden in a suburban backyard or a patio garden in the city on any scale that works for you.

This is why we wanted to change our lifestyle and become homesteaders....
  1. Homesteading can give you a simple life, do not confuse this with an easy life. Homesteading is a lot of work, but there is a quality of life that growing your own food and raising animals that is slower and rewarding. There is less of a hassle to survive the crowded store with coupons and kids, and I found now there is less of a need for things bought at the store. Before we moved and we were closer to the convenience of discount stores I found myself spending a lot of money on things I thought I needed. When the stores are not as convenient to get to it is interesting how much less I buy or feel I need.
  2. Homesteading lives a life closer to God and closer with our family. We are a Christian family, living a more simple life with less need for the store and more time in the dirt we are further away from the distractions of modern life. With those distractions removed there is more time to live with the earth and focus our thoughts on our creator and our  reason for living rather than what is on sale, the newest store or the latest trend. It is also great for our family's relationship that we are able to focus our time on projects and work as a group. This of course can come with it's own set of complications, there is plenty of room for whining from the kids and bickering between hubby and I, but overall our life is something we are all working together on. With how fast paced modern life is I think it is easy for families to work individually without God rather than as a group and get lost in the hustle of maintaining schedules. We each have our own path and our own direction but homesteading gives us time to be together while we are on our own way.
  3. We are learning self reliant skills that keeps us more reliant on each other than outside sources. This saves us money on our grocery bill and can also save money on home energy costs. We are also learning lessons that can save our life.
  4. We are more prepared for disaster and emergency. I'm sure nearly all of us have heard tales of a pending doomsday and the need to be prepared for the worst that is ahead, and who knows there could be truth to that. I do believe however, there is much truth in being prepared for things like natural disaster or the loss of work. Lets say you live in a cold climate and the power goes out for an extended time leaving you unable to get to the store or heat your home. Homesteading can help you. Having a back up of water, an alternate way to heat your home and having food stocked in your home will keep your family comfortable while waiting for the power to return. The same can help you if a spouse becomes ill or looses a job, in a stressful situation like that, knowing you have a back up plan will make things smoother.
  5. We are teaching our children valuable lessons that they can take with them as they venture out on their own. They will know where food really comes from, how to grow and raise their own and what to do with it. We are also teaching them respect for the land and for animals. Some people wince when we tell them we raise and butcher our own animals but we are teaching our kids that meat doesn't come in a package, it comes from a living breathing creature that needs to be respected and we need to be thankful for this. This will help remind all of us not to waste our food or take it for granted.
  6. Homesteading saves money and gives more freedom from outside work. After a homestead is established, a steady amount of food and energy are being produced and lessons in simple living have settled in there is less of a need for a large income. This will give you and your partner more freedom in how you make money outside of your home. Selling extra veggies and meat at markets may be all you need to pay outside bills now, if not, you may be able to keep one spouse at home tending to things or both work part time. Less time away from the home can help keep families working together as one unit.
  7. Homesteading can give a healthy life to you and your children. By raising your own fruit, veggies, and animals you are able to make the choice of keeping it all organic. We choose to raise only natural and organic food here because we rather have the occasional bug than chemical on our food. There are a lot of changes in children such as food allergies, and attention problems that in my opinion (and I could be wrong here) are related to the strange chemicals sprayed on food to preserve it and give it longer than a natural shelf life. Aside of what we are putting in our bodies that is keeping us healthier we are working harder physically now. We no longer need a gym membership when we work up a sweat outside. Our children help us too. By keeping them away from too many hours sitting in front of the TV or computer helps maintain healthy weights for all of us.
  8. We are building a community of like minded people. With many lifestyles a community of people grow and get together. For us that means a group of fellow homesteaders, farmers and gardeners to trade tips and recipes with. We have connected with new friends and reconnected with old ones because of a desire to homestead.
  9. Homesteading is environmentally friendly. We produce less waste by eating what we grow and make here more often than buying packaged food bought at a supermarket and use less gas doing it. We also do a small part by choosing not to use chemicals and buying used rather than new.
  10. Homesteading is fun,  at least we think so. This life is obviously not for everybody, which is fine, our differences help make the world an interesting place. But we enjoy the hard work and projects associated with managing our land, it keeps us active and keeps our family bonded. There is a lot of trial and error associated with what we do and for us that is part of the fun.
This is just our opinion, our reason for choosing the life we live. We would like to hear yours too, are you a homesteader or someone similar. Leave us a comment and tell us why. If you have a blog leave your link so we can help build our community.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot

My hubby and I are always looking for new recipes to make things at home that we frequently buy at the store. We do this for a few reasons. First, we enjoy making these things on our own and learning new skills that can make us more self reliant. Second, we make our own food to be sure of what is actually in our food. We have read too many books, blogs and articles to comfortably trust packaged food is safe for our family. Lastly, making our own is also a way for us too save our money and do a small part in protecting the environment by producing less waste.  

Recently we have been browsing various yogurt recipes and used them to come up with one of our own making yogurt in the crock pot. This recipe was super easy too. It's something that can be done in the background while focusing on other things around the house. 

Homemade Yogurt

You will need:
  • A crock pot
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 6 oz container of plain yogurt that contains "live active cultures". (We also found recipes that called for a yogurt starter in place of a container of yogurt. We did not use one but I believe you would make it the same way)
  • Add 1/2 gallon of milk to crock pot, cover and set on high for about 2 hours or until your temp reaches 180 degrees.
  • Once it reached the desired temperature turn the crock pot off and let the milk cool to 110 degrees with the cover off.
  • At 110 degrees pour half of the milk in a separate bowl and mix in your plain yogurt being sure to mix well.
  • Pour the milk and yogurt mixture back into the crock pot and stir.
  • Place the lid back on the crock pot.
  • Cover the entire crock pot and lid with a towel and put it in a cooler (like the kind of cooler you use camping or for picnics).
  • Keep it in the cooler for 8-12 hours (overnight) and let is cool down slowly undisturbed.
When you wake up you will have yogurt! Check the consistency, it may be slightly more runny than store bought yogurt. If you would like a thicker Greek style yogurt, place your yogurt in a mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, set over a bowl and refrigerate overnight. 

To sweeten your yogurt add honey or maple syrup. You can also add fruit jelly or jam to the bottom of your jar to have fruit on the bottom yogurt.

This yogurt will store well refrigerated for 2 weeks. We stored ours in covered canning jars. Be sure to save 1/2 cup of your yogurt in a separate container that you can use as a starter for your next batch in two weeks, and you will never need to buy yogurt again!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eggless Buttermilk Pancakes

On Monday's post I taught you all how we make delicious homemade butter that not only will save you money but leave you with wonderful buttermilk perfect for baking. Today I will share with you my recipe for Eggless Buttermilk Pancakes that calls for 1 cup of buttermilk (which is exactly what is left behind after making butter).

Our oldest son has a peanut and egg allergy so you will find that most of our recipes are egg free and all of them will be free of peanuts, and actually eggless baking hasn't been as much of a challenge as I thought it would be especially when cooking from scratch which is what we do most often. There are a few ways to supplement eggs in most recipes or just leave them out all together.

Eggless Buttermilk Pancakes:

  • Mix all of your dry ingredients in a bowl, add the melted butter, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix again being sure to leave the batter lumpy.
  • Pour on to a pan or electric skillet that has been heated to a medium to high heat. When I use my electric skillet I set the temp at 350 degrees F.
  • Let set until the edges start to dry and the batter bubbles.
  • Flip once just until brown.
  • Serve with your homemade butter, maple syrup, choice of fruit and enjoy!

If you are looking for more eggless breakfast ideas try our Perfect Eggless Waffle Recipe.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Make Your Own Homemade Crayons

I'm sure I'm not the only mom out there with stir crazy kids looking for indoor activities to keep them entertained. It has been way too cold to play out side or even go to school in Wisconsin so my boys have been running wild destroying the house. To settle them down and give them a project I found a few recipes to recycle crayons and make these large crayon blocks then altered the recipes to make our own.

We had tons of bits and pieces of broken crayons laying around the house in crayon boxes, the basement and toy boxes some of them I think were even mine from when I was little. Just looking for them all was a project in itself.

To make them you will need:
  • A collection of broken crayons
  • an old cupcake tin(s)
  • an oven

This is how we made ours:
  • Once we hunted down out lot of broken crayons we needed to peel all the extra wrappers, this was the most time consuming part. 

  • After the wrappers were off I had the boys sort the crayons by colors in the cupcake tins. We separated ours by color but multicolored ones would be fun too.
  • After they are separated the crayon pieces need to be broken down into pea sized bits so they melt nicely.
  • We put the tins in the oven at 175 for about an hour until they were melted through then took them out let them cool on the counter in the tin.
  • Once they were cool they popped out pretty easy but if you have trouble put the tin in the freezer for a few minutes and that should help.
  • Be sure to use an old cupcake tin because the crayon will leave a residue behind.
  • After they were cooled they work just as well as blocks as they do crayons.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Make Your Own Homemade Butter

It appears that it has been quite a while since my last post on our blog..can I blame that on the exhaustion first trimester of my third pregnancy? We are blessed to say we have a new baby due this July! But enough with the excuses, I am well on my way into the second trimester and am feeling great so I think it is time to pick up where we left off and offer some tips on making your own homemade butter. 

Who knew butter making was so easy and so affordable? Personally I think butter prices are out of control especially when buying organic, which in Wisconsin costs almost $6.00 per pound. You can make your own for a fraction of the price all you need is 1 pint of heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized preferably) a half teaspoon of salt and a stand mixer.

This is what you do....
  • Add the cream and salt to the bowl of your mixer, cover with a towel or splash guard and set your mixer at medium to high. Let it go for about 10 minutes checking on it periodically (all we had was ultra pasteurized cream so it took a little longer if it had been pasteurized it would have taken close to half this time).
  • What you are waiting for if for the cream to thicken, then peak, then break leaving the buttermilk at the bottom of the bowl. Once you see the cream break it is time to stop the mixing. Be sure to save the yummy buttermilk for baking and use it with in 3 days. Just keep is covered in your fridge until you are ready to use it.

  • Next knead the butter in the bowl using your hands to squeeze out any remaining buttermilk. Once it appears that you have squeezed most of it out run the butter under cold water and keep kneading until you are sure there is no more liquid remaining. 
  • And lastly enjoy your fresh homemade butter and buttermilk.


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