Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Handmade Log Carrier

We have been wanting a log carrier for years and now we finally have one!  It took a little bit of creative thinking to make this, but an hour is all it took for this project! 

This project requires two butterfly chair cases.  For demonstration purposes, I included a picture of two bags so you can see what I'm referring to. 

I wish this post could be a tutorial but I didn't think about making this crafty project into a blog post until half way through sewing it.  Basically I cut the ends off two bags, overlapped them to create a reinforced center, and sewed all the seams to keep it together and to prevent fraying.  Note: I left the straps alone---no sewing.
Dimensions: 22W x 31L

The carrier works really well!  The material is easy to clean, light weight, and sturdy.  


Strawberry Harvest

 Strawberries are the first fruit of the summer and this year we had our hands full!  So full that after weighing 50 pounds of berries, I lost track.  We had a late spring freeze which bit a lot of the strawberry flowers, but apparently the plants recovered because from the picture above, you can see flowers everywhere! 

It seems like we can never have enough berries around our homestead and friends never tire from them either.  Aside from fresh eating, this year we added them to oatmeal, made coffee cake, smoothies, bread, pies, ice cream, and a lot of jam. 

This strawberry rhubarb pie made in a cast iron skillet was the best pie I had every tasted.  It almost had the flavor of a raspberry pie.  Thanks to my generous friend who has the most prolific rhubarb I have ever seen, traded me some rhubarb for some strawberries. 

My family loves homemade ice cream and naturally flavored with strawberries is a treat!

All together we made 26 pints of jam; some contained rhubarb and some were plain strawberry.  I have to hold back on the jam making every year because it's easy to get carried away filling dozens of jars and blackberry season is slowly approaching!  Jam is always a great gift idea too!


Picky Eater? Let them eat dirt.

Do you have a picky eater in your house? Well, we'd thought we'd share our story on how we raised Paul, and how this kid will eat anything.  The key was we didn't give him choices when he was a baby. He ate what was on the table or he went hungry. We didn't dress up his food with salt or sugar either. In fact, to this day the kid goes through a 25 lb. bag of Bob's Red Mill Oatmeal about every 5 months! It's a fixture at the breakfast table. He eats a heaping cup of dry oatmeal with boiling water poured over the top without any sugar added. After about a year of this, we started adding raisins. In fact, if you put brown sugar on it, he says its too sweet - that goes for a lot of things like pop/soda, chocolate, ice cream...etc.


Paul just ate a handful of dirt and he didn't like it. We did help clean him up...


Paul has always been given the option to forage in the garden, and let me tell you...he takes advantage of this freedom. Throughout all hours of the day he will eat raw fruits and vegetables. At first, when he was little, we felt the need to restrict him because he was becoming a pest: eating small bites here and there (when produce was under ripe), breaking vines, trampling seedlings, etc.but Paul was in love with the garden and we were in love with him so it all worked out. Tomatoes, snap peas, broccoli florets, any type of berry, okra, the list goes on and on, he loved foraging. He even knows what not to eat. I think when he was three we showed him a picture of a fly agaric mushroom and said it's a "bad" mushroom. A few weeks later in the dentist office, Paul saw a picture of this mushroom on the wall and exclaimed excitedly "Daddy, that can kill you" (while pointing to the mushroom). So, he knows to ask us before eating a mushroom. We only eat wild oyster and chanterelle mushrooms, and we grow shiitake; anything else he has to ask us about.
Fly agaric mushroom

So a pleasant side effect to all of this is Paul has eaten a lot of dirt, and the kid was perpetually sick the entire first year of his life. Since then, he has maybe had one minor cold. We're sure his little body built up a ton of antibodies and strengthened his immune system so much that he could live in a germ palace and do just fine. Just don't let your kids eat dirt that has been treated with fertilizers/pesticides etc. Our garden is 100% organic/pesticide free so we didn't have that fear.

video
Eating dirty strawberries...

Eating dirt in the blueberry patch...


Taking care of the strawberries


Mmmm blueberries with dirt...


Foraging for beans
Not going to eat the chicken...

Big Carrot!
Eating peaches
Hunting for Mushrooms
Fresh Corn

Eyeing the trunk full of raw apples (they're not pretty, they may have a worm, but to Paul they're heaven).

A fully loaded apple tree (this tree was only two years old and gave 2 dozen apples)
He loves his fruit and veggies.


My First Bee Tree!


It's always hard to get away from the homestead, but we think it's important to take time away from all the chores and enjoy other family activities that we don't make enough time for.  This weekend we decided to go camping in Ohio.  During one of our walks around the lake, Jon pointed out a large sassafras tree.  While looking at the gaping holes on the trunk, I spied some movement.  I immediately stopped walking, pointed to a hole, and exclaimed, "Jon!  A bee tree!"  I have been waiting for years to come across a bee tree in the woods.  Every time I see knot holes in a tree, I am looking for flying movement.  Jon and I stood a long time quietly observing the hive, listening to their subtle hum, and watching them come and go from the entrance. What an exciting experience for all of us!  And later on during the hike, we found a large paw paw patch!





Snakes in the Chicken Coop!

(Click to enlarge)

Every week new challenges await us.  This week while closing the chicken coop for the night, I came across two black rat snakes in the chicken coop.  We see black rat snakes here frequently and have surprisingly gotten used to their presence and keep our distance, but this time, I freaked out and considered getting rid of them.  Black rat snakes aren't venomous and they eat small vermin such as mice so they really are beneficial to have around.  But I have to admit, they are a bit scary since they are 4-8 feet long and slither up the side of walls.  

Inside the chicken coop, one of the snakes was in the corner where there are mouse holes, and the other snake was curled up with the eggs in the nest box.  I have heard of snakes eating eggs so I figured between the mice and eggs, the snakes weren't going to leave.  Contrast to my shocked behavior, the chickens were walking right next to the snakes as if they weren't even there!  Even the rooster was calm and collected. As you can guess, I didn't collect the eggs, but closed up the coop and quickly posted this moral dilemma on a homesteader's facebook page I follow.  The responses were a bit surprising.  Many folks said to kill them because they will never leave as long as there are eggs and others say black snakes eat baby chicks (which we don't have).  Others said to put them in a burlap sack and drop them off far away from your farm while very few advocated for leaving them alone.  Well, Jon and I decided to leave them alone for now unless they start to eat too many eggs because they are beneficial to have around and they aren't venomous.

Much to my surprise, the next morning, the snakes were no where to be seen and the eggs were all left in the nest box!  I carried the camera everywhere I went during the week, hoping to capture a picture of them since I didn't think to return to the coop for a picture the night before.  The only sighting was near the barn in the grass (see picture at the top of the page).  So, life goes on here.  The snakes did not harm the chickens or eat the eggs, and we left them alone.  It sounds all warm and cozy that we live harmoniously with nature, but instances like these do make us question the balance of nature and when humans should intervene.




About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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