Tag Archives: homesteading

Battle Royale Pt 2 – Sustainability

1935 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture; A different time with different solutions

I find it necessary to address the sustainability of each of the methods of growing that I will be comparing in my Battle Royale. Sustainability is very important to consider when undertaking any agricultural venture. When I say sustainability I mean it very literally, not just speaking from an environmental standpoint. Can this method be sustained indefinitely under the current or foreseeable future conditions?

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarianism, homesteading, soil, Uncategorized

A Poem

The ice glistens,
The fire crackles,
The joints creak,
The tea steams,
The soup boils,
The mind turns inward.

The winter approaches.

2 Comments

Filed under art, poetry

Progress or …?

One of my best sources of information in the agronomic field has been the USDA Yearbooks of Agriculture. Having access to studies from 130 years ago up until the end of publishing in 1992 has been a boon for my education. It is hard not to notice, however, the stark changes in the writing styles over those years, and the perceived shift in the target audience based on the tone of the writing. Here I will present a contrast of two randomly selected excerpts to illustrate my point.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarianism, books, Uncategorized, USDA Yearbooks of Agriculture

Subsoiler aka Chisel Plow (not a hand tool)

In my last post (Battle Royale (Agrarian Style)) I revealed that I have indeed used a tool on a tractor to accomplish an agrarian goal. I used a single shank subsoiler, aka chisel plow or ripper, to help prepare a hillside to become a productive orchard. There were definitely ways that I could have used hand tools only to suit this purpose, but it would have taken years worth of work and crop rotations. This solution allowed me to jump ahead with minimal investment of time and money, and with minimal negative consequences. Read on if you are interested in the reasons behind this exception to my rule (Hand Tools: The Simple Choice).

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under agrarianism, hand tools, homesteading, pond, soil, trees, Uncategorized, water

Battle Royale (Agrarian Style)

Garden with a view

I am starting new gardens from scratch this year, and in the interest of learning new things in new places, I have set up an experiment to compare a few different methods of gardening. I will keep this as brief as possible, and expound upon each of these methods as I update you with progress reports over the following years. Each bed will be planted in the spring with potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and an assortment of vegetables, along with a row of sunflowers and buckwheat. I have no expectations or knowledge of how the results will look, this experiment is purely out of curiosity and I am excited to see how the different methods turn out. How will they yield, handle drought, soaking rains, etc?

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under agrarianism, food, hand tools, homesteading, soil, Uncategorized

Science Seeks the Farmer

USDA Yearbook of Agriculture 1920

By L.C. Everard – Chief Editor, Division of Publications – an article from the 1920 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, public property

Something is wanting to science until it has been humanized, said Emerson. That was long ago, before the development of the Department of Agriculture. Were he here today he would probably say something is wanting to agricultural science until it puts on its overalls and gets out between the plow handles. And the scientists of the department would agree with him; for though they may in their laboratories surround their work with a cloud of hard words and harder ideas like a smoke screen anround a battleship, they realize that their investigations and discoveries are made for the sake of mankind, and acquire their chief value when the veil of thechnicality is torn away. Cyclonic action means something to the farmer when translated into term of rain or snow or fair weather. And scientific study of the life history of Ascaris lumbricoides becomes a blessing to him when a way has been found to apply the knowledge so as to save his pigs.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarianism, books, USDA Yearbooks of Agriculture

Thankful for … Butternut Squash

Every fall cucurbits rise to fame and infamy. They appear on porches as testaments to their diversity, as monsters and vampires, as modern art disguised as a vegetable smashed on the ground. They bring folks to a local farm, bring families together around a hot pie, and bring coffee lovers to love or hate the words ‘pumpkin spice’. They are a symbol of fall, harvest, and abundance. I am thankful for them. I am most thankful not for the pumpkin, however, but for the Butternut – cucurbita moschata.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarianism, food, homesteading, thanksgiving

Thinking In Long Terms

Times they are a changing. Time marches on. Time waits for no man. Time flies. There are many sayings about time and our interactions with it. Theorists would have you acknowledge that whether or not time is linear is still not a settled issue, but from a human perspective we see time pass from past to present to future at a constant rate. It may seem to speed up and slow down depending on our circumstances, but we know that each day is equal to the last, and we can’t go back and change anything after the fact. We can however affect the future with our actions in the present.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Daily Simple Breakfast Oatmeal Recipe

One of my pet peeves is how recipes on the internet are usually preceded by an autobiography and timeline progression of how the recipe came to exist.  I will give you the recipe and then if you decide to continue reading that is your choice.

Daily Oatmeal: Serves a family of 9

What you will need:

  • 3-1/2 Qt pot
  • 2 cups whole oats (or 3 cups steel-cut oats)
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk (or 1 quart milk)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 quarts water
  1. Crack 2 cups whole oats in mill – as coarsely as possible without letting any whole grains make it through unbroken (2 cups whole oats should make approximately 3 cups “steel-cut” oats)
  2. Combine all ingredients in pot.  Pour the water in last and fill to within a comfortable distance of the top of the pot.  You will be stirring frequently and sometimes vigorously to stop any burning and sticking, keep this in mind.
  3. Cook over medium-low heat for 3 hours total, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  If you feel any residue build-up on the bottom of the pot, use the wooden spoon to stir it back off the bottom.  As long as you stir within 15 minute intervals you should not have a problem.
  4. After 1 hour the liquid should be up to almost boiling temperature you will notice the oatmeal forms a dense bottom and you can hear it boiling underneath this.  It is very important to stir until all grains are scattered evenly through the liquid every 15 minutes.
  5. After 2 hours you will notice the oats swelling and the liquid will begin to thicken noticeably.
  6. After 3 hours if desired add 1/4 stick of butter, remove from heat and stir until fully homogenized.
  7. Let cool 10-15 minutes then serve!

If faster cooking time is desired:

  • Begin cooking on high heat but staying with it at the stove and stirring constantly for 15 minutes.  Then reduce heat to medium-low and stir for 5 additional minutes.
  • Resume recipe as if there is 1 hour left.

We have this oatmeal 4 days a week and we have never heard any complaints about lack of variety.  As the children filter into the kitchen in the morning I can hear more than one say “Yay, oatmeal! Hey guys we’re having oatmeal today!”  Sometimes we have plain oatmeal without the cranberries, sometimes we have dates, a can of fruit, frozen berries, or anything else we feel like putting in.

This entire recipe costs less than $1.50 and feeds our family of 9 comfortably so that we are all full for 3-4 hours even when working outside.  If you don’t have a mill substitute 3 cups steel-cut oats and the rest stays the same.  I added information about shortening the cooking time, but in my opinion this should not be done –  the longer and lower temperature it cooks the better the quality of the finished meal.

If there is any oatmeal left (never at our house) it can be put in the fridge and is good if not better after a day or a few days in the fridge.  If it is sufficiently thickened you can even fry it in some oil for a breakfast treat or bake it and slice it up as a bread.

1 Comment

Filed under children, homesteading

Meat Rabbits; or How Children Can Provide Substantial Assistance on a Homestead, Part 1

Buck

Mature breeding buck

A few years ago we began asking the children this question: “If you could pick one farm project, what would it be?”  We got many wide-ranging answers, some realistic, some not.  One answer was given by our son – meat rabbits.  Our first step was to have him do what free and readily available research he could.  Once he exhausted our own home library, we bought the Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits, a pre-owned copy of course.  The Storey’s Guide series are one of our go-to introductions to any topic.  They are well-written by experts in the specific topic relevant to each book, they start from the beginning specifically for someone with no knowledge of the topic, and they go into enough detail that anyone could start that project without a more advanced book. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under agrarianism, children, homeschooling, homesteading, rabbits