pur your home into homesteading

Putting the Home into Homesteading

We have been living at The Knob for less than a week and we are already up to our eyeballs in projects. First off was the task of unloading every shiny new kitchen tool we received as wedding presents into an already amply stocked kitchen.

The process of cleaning, organizing and stowing away everything that was already there took us a full day and allowed us time to full appreciate the idiocnycracys of our new living quarters. Shelves that aren’t quite level is the norm, and it’s almost expected that every couple cupboards will have a gaping hole cut into the bottom for reasons now unapparent to us. It’s very obvious that this home was built over decades by many different builders with varying skill levels, all with different intentions of how the space should look.

At first I thought it would drive me crazy, but at least in the kitchen, the ability to fill the space with my belongings gave me a sense of attachment and also allowed me to appreciate the quirks as character rather than inconveniences. But maybe the novelty will wear off.

Other adventures have included the long and tedious process of getting ourselves to be legal Americorps volunteers. To ensure the FBI stays off our backs, we were requested to get fingerprinted in Michigan before moving to West Virginia, but upon arriving learned that those tests were invalid for the state and that we needed to get retested here ASAP.

Read More
raising rabbits

A Guide to Meat Rabbits: A Sustainable Food Source

Confession time.

We’ve been eating rabbit. Lots of it.

Ian butchered our rabbits several weeks ago, and since then we have eaten them grilled, curried and  stewed. Every meal has been delicious so far and we even managed to serve some to our adventurous friends over Labor Day. I love the slightly gamey taste of our rabbits and the fact that each one is a perfect portion for two people. Our first livestock have been a complete success!

Even their waste is good for the planet. Unlike most manures, rabbit droppings don’t need to age before being used and can be thrown directly into your garden. (We would do this, but our dogs somehow always get to the manure before we can…ewww!)

Read More
maximize your garden harvest

Maximize Your Garden Harvest: 5 Tips You Need to Know

I love gardening, and there’s nothing more satisfying than harvesting fresh produce from my own backyard. However, getting the most out of my garden isn’t always easy. It takes some planning and effort to maximize the yield of each plant. Over the years, I’ve learned some tips and tricks that have helped me get the most out of my garden harvest.

To determine which plants are best for your climate, you can consult a gardening guide or talk to a local expert. You can also check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which divides the United States into 11 zones based on average annual minimum temperature.

Another way to add nutrients to the soil is by using fertilizers. According to Backyard Gardeners Network, fertilizers like 10-10-10 can be added at the beginning of the season in case of the absence of the soil test, to give your plants a boost. However, it’s essential to use them sparingly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Overuse of fertilizers can lead to nutrient imbalances and harm your plants.

Companion planting: Planting certain plants together can help repel pests. For example, planting marigolds with your vegetables can help repel aphids.

Read More
shiitakes mushroom

Getting Started with Shiitake Mushrooms

Growing some of your own food is an important early step in homesteading: growing your own mushrooms puts you on an entirely different level of self sufficiency. For beginners, shiitakes are a simple mushroom to learn to cultivate. And they are delicious! Rich in ‘umami’ flavor, shiitakes have an outstanding meaty texture when sauteed, broiled, baked or grilled.

Popular in Asia for centuries, they are quickly gaining traction in American markets. Beyond taste, shiitakes are also gaining recognition for their health benefits.

Ian’s been wanting to raise mushrooms for a while now. If he could have his way our whole property would be turned into one big mushroom farm. For once I was the voice of reason and encouraged him to start considerably smaller.

And so, for this year we are sticking with shiitakes. If these do well for us maybe Ian will get his mushroom farm after all.

Read More