Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Growing up Off Grid

I was recently fortunate enough to have an interview with NPR / american Public radios "MarketPlace" weekend addition. ( If you are interested in listening it will air this weekend.) The topic was "cutting out the Middle man".
After the interview , I called my mom to chat and tell her about the interview. So what kind of questions did they ask you?"she asks,  and then asks " Did they ask how it has effected Norah , growing up with this lifestyle?"
They did not ask this question. The interview was fairly short and they had specific questions..

But what if they had asked that?? There really would not have been an answer.. And  like my husband said " Norah doesn't know any different, she is growing up this way, its what she knows." 

She is an off grid kid ;) She doesn't have the handheld devices ,  video games , and has very limited tv time. We do not have television per say, but have a TV for dvds, which can only be watched when there is an extra sunny day.

It just  what she knows..................

She knows not to flush the toilet if the generator is running( haha),, she knows to turn the lights off when she leaves a room, she knows when I say " we have hot water now. that means right NOW while the fire is going or the sun is hitting the passive solar heater,and bath time is right then n there.
She knows to turn off the water when brushing her teeth to conserve water. She know that the sun makes our lights work and that wood heats our home, lets us cook and gives us hot water. She knows that rainbarrels are used for watering and that using the hose is a luxury ;) She knows to dress warm in the winter and light in the summer because there is not air conditioning and winter mornings can be chill until the fire gets going.

This is what she knows.

I suppose there are times when I might feel a little guilty that she can't wake up on Saturday and watch the morning cartoons ( like I did as a kid!) but when I see her wake up put her play clothes on and run outside at 8 am to catch bugs, crayfish or dig a hole in the dirt, or build something and use her imagination..  I tell myself,, this is what   She Knows .............. and this is a wonderful thing!!!

The Cools

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Autumn: Stocking up and winding down

well, We are Finally caught up on the wood situation. Robb spent 2 weeks bringing home truck loads of wood. We live in a National forest with a 12 mile gravel ride through it, so he is fortunate enough to be able to grab a down Tree off the side of the road ( or sometimes in the road, and yes that happens often; he always carries a chainsaw with him) cut it up and bring it home. and it only costs us 20.00 for a wood permit to legally get wood throughout the forest.. pretty cheap heating bill ;)

We heat entirely with wood, with NO back up. all of our hotwater is heated with wood, and we solely cook and bake with wood. So its kind of important to have the woodshed stocked.
AND after 5 yrs of splitting wood by hand or trying to borrow a wood splitter we were fortunate enough to be able to buy one. This has helped Tremendously in saving time. We are by no means done hauling and splitting but feel we have a good handle on it.

The pantry is pretty well stocked too. I still have some more to do . I am hoping we get around to building more shelves. I want to extend the pantry on the right hand side, ( L shaped) by putting more shelves up there. I am running out of room! 

The fall garden is in. I planted Kale, lettuce, carrots beets, broccoli, cabbage, and spinach. My spinach had a heck of time germinating, so I have reseeded it for the 4TH TIME. 

I have more Beans flowering and hope to get a good harvest before frost sets in.

Sweet potatoes still need dug, and I am really trying to be patient and let them grow a little bigger , but am really tempted to go out there and tear things up ;)

Robb did a hive inspection and all the hives look pretty good. Its probably the last inspection for the year before winter sets in.

 Hope everyone is having beautiful weather! Its been an absolute Joy to work outside these past couple weeks. Enjoying every second before the cold sets in!!

Happy Autumn!!!!
The Cools

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Friday Night activities

Friday Night activities with my 2 favorite people. A perfect way to unwind  from a  long day.


The Cool Family

Monday, September 8, 2014

Save those Heirloom Tomato seeds!

Yep , its that time of year.. .Tomato season is coming to an end *sniff sniff............. I am thoroughly enjoying the last of my daily tomato sandwiches, canning some salsa, and   of course....saving my seeds!

Saving most seeds is fairly easy, you scrape out the seeds and set them out to dry,but tomato seeds require a couple extras steps, on account of the tomato that is stuck to the seeds.. To save heirloom tomato seeds you need to seperate the tomato flesh from the seeds.. And today I am going to tell ya how to do that ;)

What you will need
* Your favorite heirloom tomato ( this is a big rainbow in pic)
* a small glass ( I have a shot glass in the photo)
*saran wrap or plastic bag

*Cut tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, place in glass..

*Fill Jar with about 1.5" of water

Cover Jar with either saran wrap or plastic bag and place rubberband over jar. Poke holes in the top of the plastic to allow air circulation.

Stir mixture once a day every day for about 3-5 days until you see a fairly thick film on top of the water. It will aslo have an unpleasant smell, don't panic,, haah, this is normal..

Rinse seeds with water while dumping out the yucky water.. the yuck will dump out and the seeds will stay at the bottom of the glass.. Pour SLOWLY so you don't dump any seeds out.
Place on napkin or plate and let air dry!!
THATS IT! place in envelope , label and seal.. place in a cool dry place..

No more buying heirloom seeds! Ok who am I kidding,, no matter how many seeds I save, I always buy another variety the next year ;) But this is a great way to save money and grow those heirlooms you love!!!

**Fermenting the seeds will  also help kill any disease present, but please beware that it will not kill all disease. so try to stay away from infected plants.

What is your favorite Heirloom tomato?? I am always looking to try new varieties!

The Cools

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How to: canning Grape Juice

Labor day weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited ( by a friend) to go pick some grapes. A fella she knew apparently had TONS of grape vines that his grandfather planted ( so yeah these are some old vines), and being near 80 he just didn't really have use for all of them.. Best of all , they are all ORGANIC! never been sprayed.
Needless to say we picked A LOT of grapes.. we each came home with about 40 lbs worth !

I knew I could make Jam (but my canned goods cubbard is plum full of jam ) but wanted to make something else. I thought about grape juice and what do ya know..........
My friend Tree from posted a recipe for me, from her blog. She did say it turned out a little sweet.. So I decided to look around online and found a wonderful recipe for Grape Juice Concentrate.

What you will need:
Grapes: Concord are probably the best for juice, but other varieties will work too.
-Boiling water.

1. wash and sterilize Quart Jars.. then place in canner in hot hot water for atleast 10 minutes.
2. remove Jars from canner.
3. Fill each Quart Jar with 2 Cups grapes and 2/3 cup sugar

4, Pour boiling water over mixture and stir up. Leave 1" head space.
5. Wipe rim, add lids and rings and boil for 20 minutes in a water bath canner...

THAT IS IT.. It is probably the easiest canning recipe I EVER encountered!

One jar boiled over a bit when i took it out of the canner, so that gave me the wonderful opportunity of trying the juice,, and it is going to be DELICIOUS!

I am not sure as to how long you should let the Jars sit, but I am going to bet a couple months would be good, the longer they sit the more concentrated and flavorful they will be :)

When you are ready to open and serve:
strain out Juice through Cheescloth and discard grapes into compost. Add 1 qt Cold water and serve!

Next up:  WINE :)

The Cools

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bee Kind Family Farm Honey Giveaway!!!!

Ok,, its giveaway time!! We have been extremely blessed this Bee Season. We have expanded to 64 Hives at the present time and have pulled a whole lotta that liquid Gold!! So I figure its time for a giveaway..
The winner will receive a 1 lb jar of our Summer Harvest Honey.. This is a blend of (the all time favorite here in the mountains) Sourwood. and other various wildflowers including a plant we have here called Japanese Knotweed...
Follow the instructions in the rafflecopter box below!!
each one counts as an entry, so if you do all 3, you get 3 entries in the raffle :)
* follow my FB page
* Make a Comment on this post.. it can be anythign Honey bee or homesteading related :)
*Follow My blog!

Good Luck!
Winner will be announced September 5th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Homesteading: The true story

Ok, its a little embarrassing, OK, its a lot embarrassing and I am sure my husband is wondering why I would post a picture like this..
If you are wondering what this is, its our wood shed that has somehow turned into a storage shed..
Its the middle of august, and we have NO wood split.. thats right, NONE.

I wanted to show the REAL side of homesteading.  With so many blogs and facebook pages out there showing pretty pictures with lovely quotes attached, I wanted to show what it can REALLY be like....Its not all running through a field of daises, swimmin in the creek  and cookin beans over a cookstove while we all sit around and craft and tell stories and live some laid back fantasy life.. ( well ok maybe in the winter we sit around a bit more;)

This is the reality of having a LOT going on....THIS is the reality of trying to be self sufficient, it can get ugly,, haha

we went from about 20 hives to 60 this year. and between that, gardens, the farmers market, raising a 7 yr old, canning our harvest, and everything else life has to offer, we are just a litttttle behind.

Being completely off the power grid, this is our only source of heat, Hot water and how we cook and bake from about october to may. so we go through A LOT of wood.

Robb assures me we are ok, and he is going to start splitting that big ol pile soon. but thats not even close to what we need . If he have to buy a load this year, I am ok with that.. its  hard to do it all, and we just have to remember that sometimes its not possible...and sometimes ya have to pull out the checkbook to keep your own sanity.....

This is what homesteading looks like at times.. its a never ending battle to keep up!!! But what else would we do if not this??? its our life :)