Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
He then wanted to know if I've eaten acorn mush. Yes, it's sort of a required experience for people in my line of work. I don't like it though, but I do know how to process it and eat it. I'll eat acorn bread, pancakes, or make it into a tortilla rather than plain mush. The Indians used a lot of salt to season the mush, they didn't like it plain either.
Acorns should be a staple storage item for people who live near oak trees. A mature oak can produce hundreds of pounds of acorns a year. There is a process required to remove the tannin from the acorns. There are people who say you can just eat them plain but I wouldn't suggest it. Although you may like the flavor they really need to be leached or you'll get sick.
I will mention a couple of ways to get rid of the tannins. First is to grind the acorns, then to put them into a colander lined with muslin. The Indians would make a shallow depression in the sand along a creek, line the bottom with leaves such as thimbleberry, put in the ground acorns, then slowly pour water over them. Another way is to soak them in water and change the soaking water several times a day for about a week. I have made them this way, in fact, I have ground them in the bedrock mortars that were originally used by native women here in California.
The second way is to leach them whole. This works if you have a creek or some continuous water flow since it will take longer to leach them whole. Leaching them whole is good if you want to eat them like nuts.
A third way is to boil them to get rid of the tannins. This is quickest if you do it right. If not done right, or if you do it right but it just doesn't work out this time, you actually bind the tannins to the acorns and ruin the whole batch.
After you leach the acorns they need to be dried, whether in meal or whole nut form. They can be dried outside or in the oven.
A fourth way the Indians processed them is to bury them in a wet muddy hole in the ground and a year or so later dig them up. They will be black and disgusting looking, but this way is supposedly good for roasting. I don't know, I haven't tried it that way.
Right now is about the end of acorn gathering season so pick some and try your hand at processing acorns.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
I haven't lived in a house hooked up to sewer since 1988. Every once in a while there is talk about upgrading those backwards folks and extending the sewer system towards my neck of the woods. If it ever becomes more than talk I will fight it wholeheartedly. Not because the county charges you directly for their costs of bringing us into the modern age but because I want nothing to do with being on a communal sewage disposal system. At least I am uphill from their plant.
Our house has a septic system which as I wrote before only failed once but failed at the most inopportune time. The kind person who added an additional 100 feet of leach line did this work on a Christmas morning. Something about having a house full of grandkids and sewage coming up in the bathtub made him give up his morning at home.
Although I figure our septic system will work for an awful long time before we have any more problems, this will only be the case if it is treated properly. I saw an add for toilet paper that said to use their brand because you wouldn't have to use 27 sheets to clean yourself like you have to with another brand. 27 sheets at one sitting? If everyone around here did that only once a day the system would clog up. The problem we have is when we have company. Trying to get the ladies to put their personal hygiene items into the trash can rather than flushing them down the toilet is a problem. We just had one person visiting who lives with a septic tank and still put three days worth of tampons down our toilet. Almost makes me want to put cement down hers…
We have an outhouse in the front and I'm planning on putting another one out back. The boys usually just find a tree when they are outside and don't want to stop playing, so it's more for the "entertainment" of guests and for saving water.
I remember as a kid I lived near the farmers fields. They had portapotties on the dirt roads next to the fields. These potties didn't have the plastic container underneath to catch everything. They were open to the ground. Prior to setting the potty somewhere they'd dig a hole, maybe a foot deep and two feet wide, setting the dirt aside for later. This hole would catch everything that was done that day. At the end of the day they'd move the potty about 25 feet, then they set fire to the pile of toilet paper and human waste where the potty had been stationed. After burning the pile they would cover it up with the dirt. I thought that was very efficient.
I've scoured the internet to see if that was discussed anywhere. It wasn't. All I read was to dig a huge hole and bury it all or go into a bag and carry it out. I also saw that it was ok to burn the toilet paper in your campfire at the end of the day. No place was found stating that you should just burn it all then cover it up. Sure it won't all burn completely, but it's a good start to getting it to decompose.
The front outhouse is over a deep hole. The back outhouse may be built this other way, over a shallow hole that gets burned every week.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
There was nothing wrong with my teeth. Last week I went to the dentist and got a clean bill of health. How could this happen? Freak accident. I'm going back to the dentist tomorrow to see if it's something that needs repair. I'm not so vain that I need it to be repaired because it looks funny. I'd rather spend my money prepping for the future. Anyway to the dentist I will go to see what he thinks.
When I was at the dentist last week I was asking question after question about dental tools and how to properly use them and if you can hurt your teeth using them, etc. It's not that I want to put the dentist out of business but rather if there wasn't a dentist available what could I do myself? I've up until now been pretty fortunate that I haven't had a lot of dental issues to deal with. According to the orthodontist, one of the grandkids needs braces in about six month but it's not a life threatening problem so if he doesn't get them, he will survive. I plan on getting him the braces because anything to keep the teeth in good shape is the proper thing to do, as long as I can afford them.
I'm convinced that one of the reasons for shorter lifespans in older days was due to inadequate dental care. You don't eat or can't eat properly if your mouth is in too much pain.
Back to my dental visit last week; I was told that the tools they use for cleaning plaque and tarter won't hurt your teeth if used properly. What was improper, I asked? If you use the tool to drill a hole, then you are going to hurt your teeth, but if you use the tool to scrape stuff off your teeth you won't hurt the tooth. If you dig too far under the gum you can irritate the gum but you won't go too far to irritate the root because the pain will stop you prior to damage that you can cause doing this work yourself.
I'm not talking about full blown dental work, just keeping the teeth extra clean. Brush them two or three times a day for two minutes each time. Use an egg timer for the kids so they know what two minutes is. Use floride toothpaste and get floride tablets for the younger kids if you are on well water. If you change your toothbrush every six months then you need to have twenty if you want them to last ten years. That's not too hard to do. Buy floss. It will last forever and can be used for other things as well. Using floss is as important as brushing your teeth. There are websites that have dental tools available for not too expensive of prices.
If you want to read the publication Where There Is No Dentist, you can download it free from Hesperian. http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download.php
Tonight I figured they were dry enough and I ground them up. I used my Kitchenaid grinder, although I do have an old fashioned hand grinder, and an older fashioned pestle and mortar to use if the situation warranted it. Ground up the eggs look like cornmeal. The six eggs come to about 2/3 cups ground eggs. Sometime this week I will cook them up for breakfast. According to what I read you should be able to reconstitute them and cook some of them like regular eggs. I also read that you can use them in other recipes calling for eggs but I don't know how that will work out since they are already cooked.
I'll report again soon.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Rourke, over at ModernSurvivalOnline.com, is conducting another great contest. He's giving away the first season of
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Times per week
Supply on hand
2 tablespoons –
85 oz. box
1/3 cup (~3 oz) in white load
1/3 cup (~3 ox) in quart spray bottle
1/3 cup in bucket
1 cup in quart spray bottle
32 oz in spray bottle
1 every 2 month
Murphy’s oil soap
4 oz. in bucket
Proforce oven cleaner
4 oz. straight from bottle
2 ½ months
Laundry Detergent (Costco powder)
(but I get 300 loads with H.E. washer)
Vinegar – mostly for laundry
two or three drops
Monday, October 18, 2010
We do not ever buy eggs from the store. I like to know where our food comes from. I've always said that I won't buy foreign food from foreign companies because they have less oversight for the way things are grown and processed. After the American 1/2 billion egg recall, it brought home the fact that if possible I'd rather not buy my groceries at all. It's much more of an incentive to produce my own. Presently this is impossible with a full time job and grandkids to raise but any amount that I don't have to buy gives me that much more to spend on the bandaids and bullets part of my survival plan.
I have a recipe for preserving eggs. You can keep eggs in the refrigerator for months if you want. They've gone bad if you can float them in a glass of water. If they still sink, they are still good. This recipe is not like most recipes which call for freezing them or putting them in a waterglass or even pickling them. This recipe calls for scrambling the eggs and without milk cooking them in a nonstick pan. You don't butter or spray the pan, just cook the eggs on the nonstick surface. After cooking them well but not browning them you break the scrambled egg into small pieces and dry them. You can dry them in the oven, dehydrator, or outdoors if it's warm enough. I wonder if you can just let them sit on the counter to dry if you keep the flies off?
After they are dry you grind them up into a powder. Supposedly you can then rehydrate them with milk or water and scramble them up again. It will be great if this works. We have so many eggs during the spring, summer, and fall but may only get two or three each week during the winter. If I can save those eggs for baking and still have scrambled egg dishes then winter will be much more pleasant.
I'm cooking a dozen eggs today. I'll let you know how it works out. Has anyone out there ever done this?
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The federal government, in an idiotic move, made a change to one of the tax codes and next spring when I complete my tax return I will be receiving a credit of over $20,000! I'm not saying what I did to "deserve" this money but it's legal and I will take the credit.
This leads me to a huge dilemma. What am I going to do with the money? Number one idea is to pay down the mortgage. Getting the place to a position of outright owning my property is a very lofty goal. This money won't even make it close but would take off four years worth of payments.
Second idea is to put in solar power. Not the grid tied type which is worthless if the power goes out but the stand alone solar power. $20,000 would get me a good system that I think would probably cover all our electrical needs.
Third idea is to finish with the six foot wrought iron fence across the front of the property. That's five thousand. I'd have $15,000 left. With the other $15,000 I could buy lots of stuff.
The fourth idea is to make more improvements to my mountain property. It needs fruit trees, fencing, and just about everything. At this property I am always putting in more fruit trees, as I believe you can't have too many, but if I didn't add any more we'd still be ok.
My fifth idea is to ask you. If you had this windfall, what would you do with it? As you can see, none of my ideas include putting the money into the bank or into savings. I do not believe that that would be the best use of this money. It's a one time chunk of money. I don't ever expect to have this amount given to me again. Ideas?
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
In some parts of the country the temperature is freezing at night already. Not here. The weatherman was joking today that some of the local towns are going to get down into the 50s tonight. Most people already have their fall garden in and are reaping the fruits of their labor. The pumpkins are almost ready to be harvested for Halloween carving.
What's my garden looking like this year? The summer garden is still going crazy. We are still getting squash, cucumbers, okra, eggplant, and tomatoes. We have onions and garlic ready. One of my favorite vegetable dishes in cubed zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes cooked in a little butter with a lot of Italian seasoning. It's simple and delicious. We eat this fresh for over half the year. For the other half of the year we eat the same dish using dried zucchini and eggplant mixed with canned tomatoes. I can zucchini and eggplant using the pressure canner as well.
We have pumpkin growing by the propane tank and also out front. We use them not only for carving but also for eating the seeds and eating the pumpkin. My grandmother used to make pumpkin chocolate chip cake. It's delicious and can be cooked in a canning jar and given as a gift. I keep pumpkins in the garage during the winter and they will last until spring.
The ground doesn't freeze around here and can be kept going all year round. Overwinter I usually just keep broccoli. The plants have grown like crazy and will have little flower buds to pick each week. I can get enough for one meal per week for most of the winter. We also overwinter some of the beets for the greens. I can pull beets and carrots for much of the winter as well. I can't leave potatoes in the ground here. They will rot, but some will survive well enough to grow again in the spring. It is time to start prepping the garden for next spring. The kids cleaned out the chicken coop and dumped everything into the garden. I've heard that you aren't supposed to do this as the manure is too strong. I've never had a problem with burning the plants. What it has caused is some plants to grow great but not produce flowers or vegetables. By the time spring comes around I usually don't have a problem.
At the end of winter, and sometimes during, the barn needs to be cleaned out where the sheep hang out. This takes a while to decompose because it goes straight into the garden. If I made a compost pile it would decompose quicker. We don't have much to compost. The chickens eat leftover food. The sheep and goats (when we have goats) eat the leaves from the trees. Branches from trimmings get burned. Grass, when I mow the lawn a couple times per year, goes to both the chickens and sheep. If I wanted to compost I'd be taking away from the animals and giving to the garden. So right now the garden gets the manure the animals get the plants.
I'm trying to decide if I want to put in raised beds. At another house I lived in I had raised beds and I loved it. I used railroad ties which looked great in my perfectly manicured yard. I certainly don't have anything that looks perfectly manicured now. Railroad ties, or any product used to raise the beds would have to be purchased because I don't have any source of free stuff except rocks from our other property. Is it worth the expense? Not right now but if I get serious about raising the beds then I should start putting the manure in areas where the bed would be if they existed rather than spreading it throughout the entire garden.
It's easier to plant intensively in the raised garden than it is when you have lots of open space. At least it is for me. With about ¼ acre dedicated to vegetables, it's hard to not want to use all the space and space each of the plans out in nice rows. There's something very satisfying about looking at the rows of vegetables. I could plant in less space but then there'd be all this open area. I'd need to plant even more food!
During the winter the ground gets so saturated that you sink at least to your ankles when walking in the mud. Last year we put in a rock path that went from the yard to the barn but missed the 15 feet to the chicken coop. This summer we extended it to the chicken coop. Instead of just a small path we made a 15 foot square pad in front of the barn and coop. We are going to put down another layer of rock this weekend but it's looking good so far. Being able to make dedicated paths in the garden would also be a plus and is another reason to go with the raised beds.
I'm thinking about opening the chicken coop door and letting them into the garden during the day. This will be a good way to get rid of many of the bugs that overwinter in the garden. They can also eat the weeds. They will probably eat a lot of the seeds as well so I should expect as much of my volunteers to come back in the spring. It will be a good experiment. I won't have to worry about the volunteers anyway because next season I'll be planting my survival seeds from www.bepreparednow.net that I won from the contest at www.modernsurvivalonline.com.