Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Urban Wagon

Every once in a while you get a gift that keeps on giving.
This is one such time.
My soul mate gave me a big 'ss safety yellow garden wagon for Christmas.
While many will equate this gift to receiving a new plow blade there is a method to his madness once you look deep enough. It's a multi layered gift.
On the most obvious level anyone who knows me knows that I am a gardener. Even in a space deprived garden as ours a good garden cart is a must have. Potted Irises can be very heavy.
Not to mention a great cache of wood shavings from a near by freshly ground tree stump courtesy of city works.
Next this urbanbilly cart is a must have for curb shopping & dumpster diving.
Or using the shoe leather express to go to tag sales in our hood.
Neighborhood grocery shopping.
Farmer's market down the avenue.
Then there is this reason which by far is the one that is most near to my heart.
Collecting firewood for our as yet installed wood stove.
Free firewood means that the original outlay of $ for the completed wood stove project is recouped all the more quickly. Quicker return on our investment along with the eventual concept of free heat = cash surplus.
Or to put it simply the very real possibility to become a one income family.
Imagine having time to enjoy my role as a Wife and Mother without being a co-bread winner.
Time to volunteer.
Become a Master Gardener.
Imagine. Just imagine.
We recently had a huge warm up here in Western New York with day time temperatures reaching near 60 in some areas. Along with the warmer day came high winds two days later. Gust of 75 miles was recorded @ the Buffalo International Airport.
100 + year old Maples didn't have a chance.
While DD #2 was more than happy to glean on our city streets DD #3 keep two houses back @ all times so not to be associated with us urbanbillys. She basically was our look out since the contracted tree service feels that city residents who remove fallen trees are thieves. With the rise in demand for firewood cord prices are over $125 in some areas.
Tools consist of a few hand saws & a battery operated sawz all.
Working on conquering my phobia of chain saws.
~~ pelenaka ~~
p.s - Hubby & DD #2 enjoyed a brisk walk on Monday glean another wagon load of wood.
1/6 of a cord collected. Need to set aside a total of 4 cords for next Winter.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Long Term Storage

Another use for all those extra empty mason jars is long term storage of food & other items that wander your way.
This is one of two vacuum food sealers that while still vacuum won't seal. Seems the heat strip that actually melts the plastic bag closed has a spot that is too cool to do the job.
Years ago DH bought both the wide & small mouth attachments that fit mason jars while @ an Aunt Sally's. Needless to say some things are worth hanging on to until the time is right.
Had to use new wide mouth lids but the small mouth lids are out of the recycle bag. Scrubbed well they have a 2ND chance to be useful.
Half gallon jars were bought a few years ago with coupons from a local Ace Hardware store one of the few places who carry this size. Gallon mason jars either used or new are almost impossible to locate not to mention a bit pricey. Turns out I really don't have a need to can anything in a half gallon size so it's good to finally be able to use these jars for something besides making yogurt.
Tally worked out to be 15 - 1/2 gallon jars + 1 quart of organic Winter Wheat. Paid over $50 six mos. ago for a bushel's worth. Little did I know that a Barter Buddy who was passing a field in process of being harvested would stop & grab me over 100 lbs. of locally grown wheat. Not organic but darn near close. On a side note one of the major reasons behind the building of the Erie Canal was to ship wheat. Western New York was the Bread Basket for the East Coast in the early 1830s.
Back to the great barter on Wheat - cost me about 5 lbs. of Butter & a future share of another score perhaps Cider.
1 quart of dried pumpkin - might grind it up for flour or use in a soup. Not really sure so send in suggestions.
7 jelly jars of matches - these were snatched up by DD when they were helping with an activity with the younger children in Bible class. Seems that these matches were destined to go out with the trash. Good score for people like us.
4 jelly jars of yeast - bought a 2 lbs. bag of Fleischmann's yeast from the restaurant supply store in my neighborhood for $5.50. Last year I forgot to split up the bag which shortened the shelf life.
In the dehydrator now is squash. Starting to go bad in the cellar.
I am lousy @ the art of running a Root cellar.
DH says it would be easier if we had a true root cellar with a dirt floor, four walls, and a door.
Not sure on this one. Really do like the idea of once it's canned it's all said & done. Then again eating a crisp juicy apple in December ...

Need to go prep the turkey for tomorrow, mix up dressing (cornbread), and whip up some flan.
Also working on sewing up a shopping bag from a dog food bag that blew into my yard from a neighbor.
In two weeks I have a week's worth of vacation which will be spent stripping wood work and 100 year old door knobs. Not to mention our marriage bed a cast iron 1900's 3/4 bed.
Then all the do dads I have been collecting along with of DH's stuffs can find a home.
After that then it will be time to clear an area for seed starting.
Not to mention an area to study seed catalogs.
Thinking of making a garden map this year. 'Cause a map means a plan. And as everyone knows a plan means better results.
Better results should = a better harvest.
Yeah, I got a plan baby.

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano con carino,

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

R word

This is the new freezer bought with the last of the pennies from my economic stimulus check mailed out way back when. The first of the pennies went to buy a few vinyl replacement windows for Our Old House.
The freezer sits empty near the corner that holds our food stores. Buckets of Winter Wheat, Organic Rye, & White Rice bought on deep clearance 2 years ago when a local store went belly up. Lying on top is a 25 lbs. bag of yellow onions which need to be introduced to the food dehydrators soon.
K, so I have this new freezer that speaks of almost endless possibilities - perhaps filled with a great deal on free range organic chickens, or our own rabbit fryers? Maybe a wonderful bounty of fresh caught trout (lol, April Fool's Day is opening day of Trout season see the irony?) ... or just a wonderful bounty grown and harvested less than a few yards away?
Need to start thinking about formulating a plan.
A really good plan 'cause it's getting serious out there.
It's on every one's lips that "R" word.
Up until now my fugal/cheap coping methods were meant for my world. To help a struggling single parent household hang on to a quality life. Then eventually to enable me work at times less than a 40 hour work weeks. Recently fugal habits are helping me regain lost retirement savings due to poor life choices.
Now it's a whole different ball game.
Now it could very well be about just living.

So what's gonna be in your freezer, urbanbilly?

~~ pelenaka ~~

DH pulled the girls outta school on Thursday (their 1st absence & their honor roll) to go hunting.
After spending a week last Summer @ a NYS DEC Camp in Rushford, New York, where they tested & gained their Hunter's Safety Certificate it was time. Time to see if they could & would actually make a kill. Hunting isn't for everyone - long hours spent motionless in the woods, freezing cold at times just waiting. Not to mention the actual task ...
Long story short no game was had but DH who has been looking forward to doing the Father - Child hunting experience for years had a wonderful time. Daughter's experienced a taste of a hunt (4 hours worth in 18 degree cold) and most importantly it left no question in any of their minds that they would be able to hunt.
So now I'll have to see about hitting our local freecycle / craig'slist for some quality hunting clothing in their size.
Also hooking up with someone who has a line on land to hunt (think Deer) maybe a barter Cheese for hunting rights. Yeah I hear you all ROFLYAF!

~~ pelenaka ~~

Friday, November 28, 2008

Backyard Lasagna

Lasagna filling for the most part made from our homestead garden minus the raw milk & vinegar used to make a soft ricotta style cheese, & ofcourse the Parmesan cheese.
Everything else such as the Swiss chard used in place of cooked spinach, the diced Onions, dehydrated Green Bell Peppers, and all the Italian herbs such as Basil and even the Bay Leaf ( houseplant ) were grown within 18 feet of my kitchen.
The raw milk came from a dairy in my county so easily within say 15 miles. I'd give you the exact GPS but then I'd have to kill ya 'cause buying raw milk is illegal here.
The tomato sauce was made with a quart of stewed toms put up last Summer.
I strayed when it came to the pasta a loss leader from mega mart for 99¢ a box.
Bad locavore, bad!

So here is the first of what will indubitably be more Winter Goals than I have energy for ...
This Winter my goal will be to learn to make pasta such as lasagna from locally grown ingredients.

Run down on our version of veggie lasagna -
$ 2.50 for a gallon of very fresh whole milk from cows that are actually pastured, $ 1.00 worth of grated Parmesan cheese, $ 1.00 something with tax for the pasta = $4.50 for huge dish that fed 4 for 2 meals.
Forgot to add in the cost of the canning lid on the quart mason jar that the home canned stewed tomatoes came in. Being a bit OCD huh ?
You get it though, right ?
It's about being self reliant.
Maintaining direct control over our food supply.
Utilizing your pantry goods.
Cost effect organic produce.
Sitting down to a family dinner with good food.

Now when the vines start producing then we can have a nice Red to go with this.

~~ pelenaka ~~

This is how I plan my garden - 1st planning a menu then planting toward that menu.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This is was my house.
This is was my house circa 1998 on drugs.
Word on the street was that the white van had been parked there for over a year quickly becoming a haven for neighborhood cats. I still have no idea how the van was able to fit in the driveway due to a large wooden fence installed directly on the lot line (right side of photo).
Oh forgot to mention the drug bust shortly before the bank took ownership.

10 years earlier this home had been accessed for over $ 70k.

On the day I viewed this property with a realtor it smelled so bad that my 3 very young children wouldn't enter, instead planting their feet firmly on the plywood porch floor covering their face with their hands and vigorously shaking their heads NO. Seems that there had been an altercation with a baseball bat & the original toilet in the upstairs bathroom. The resulting flood soaked all the first floor carpet.

The fashionably dressed realtor jumped at the chance to stay with the children while myself & my then husband took a look around.

After a very brief tour ending in the cellar, my soon to be ex asked me if I was on drugs for even considering this as an option.

2 days later armed with work gloves & a flashlight I came back for a good go thur.

What can I say ... one too many episodes of This Old House, and the fact that it was the only house in my price range.

Almost 9 years later this is my urban homestead.
I had thought that by now all the restoration & rehab would be over with. But then life takes over with raising children single all the while learning how to rewire an outlet.
Still needs a new roof (main portion), and as of right now only 3 windows left to be replaced of the original 14, along with countless wood work that is covered in 30 + layers of paint. Then there is the bathroom remodel that we have been collecting materials for over 4 years for. What can I say when you are offered a 1920's claw foot tub for free.
Then there's installing a wood stove from scratch.

Details; built in 1902 as rental income, 3 original upstairs bedrooms with 1 downstairs, parlor, dinning room, kitchen with a pantry closet, no indoor toilet, 3 coal/wood stoves. Cellar sported a large cistern (now holds all my home canned goods). Garage/shed added in 1929 floor paved with slate perhaps from a city works project?
Sometime in the late 1920's the owner's two children lived here as young adults to be close to employment as their parents had moved out to the country. Their mother died in 1928, father remarried then succumbed to work related injuries (city plow truck mishap) at which point the house stayed in the 2ND wife's possession for many years.
Interesting fact found in her obit was that her wake was held in their home 3 blocks away in a house that is still standing. I was able to find hers son's grave but not hers nor her husband's.
I believe that the stepmother & the owner's daughter had a falling out because in 1936 she signed a quick claim deed giving the new wife all rights to this property. On all the paperwork the house was owned by the wife. I found that very interesting that in the early 1900's a married woman owned a home separate from her husband's name.

Sometime in the 1950's a family with 6 children lived here. It was at that time that there was a kitchen fire caused by a stove. An elderly neighbor delighted in retelling how both her & a GF ran into the house and scooped up what seemed to her dozens of children before the fire trucks came. At the time I truly thought she was just telling tales then on a remodel of the kitchen ceiling charred beams verified her adventure.
Even though the deed & title have been a wealth of information I haven't been able to find out exactly what my house sold for in 1902.

~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S. 7/5/2010 per the internet the average cost of a home in 1900 was $1500. Still unable to find out what my home sold for in 1902.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Feasibility Factor/Canning the Harvest

Looking over my notes, I realize that I could have done allot better with this critical task.
Like starting my own veggie plants from seed instead of buying.
Like planting more.
Like getting my Roma's to grow 5 lbs. toms ... organically.

Here's the dollars and cents of putting food by on an urban homestead when you have limited Sun, Soil, and Space. The critical 3 S's.

Spent - a total of $37 on vegetable plants such as the Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Chard, Eggplants, Green Bell Peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Yellow & Purple Onions, and Watermelon seedlings. Also Marigolds & Nasturtiums for bug control.

$1 worth of lemon juice used in both prepping & canning of produce.

60¢ worth of pickling spice from my local neighborhood health food store.

$2 of white vinegar used in canning. Last year's purchase/price.

40¢ of salt.

7 boxes of pectin bought last year on clearance for 35¢ each - $2.45

$2.49 worth of Sugar (12.8 lbs. of Sugar originally bought for 99¢/5 lbs. in 2005 holiday sale).

$70 on farmer's market produce such as canning tomatoes for salsa, jalapeno peppers for jelly (yet unmade) & salsa, fresh corn on the cob (majority eaten fresh), a few bushels of fresh apples in varieties we could barter/forage such as Gala, also more Bell Peppers, Onions (over 25 lbs. total), along with a few purchases of new to us veggies for taste testing like Delicious & Turban Squash. About 1/4 was eaten fresh such as plums which weren't canned.

$50 for a 5 gallon bucket of pie making Cherries from a cannery located the next county over. Coop of sorts through a local home school group. One of the Mom's knew someone who knew someone ... Worked out to under $2 per lbs for pitted Bing Cherries.

Bartered a few Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, 3 large Bell Peppers, and a small Chuck Steak - $6.99 retail for 2 bushels of Bartlett pears worth $36 - net $29.01.

$147.94 for produce/ingredients.
Minus $18 worth of Broccoli collected from the garden which was both eaten & frozen.
$17 Winter Squash more than paid off the cost of the Swiss Chard plantings.
$29.01 worth of Pears subtracted from the produce/ingredients column.

Grand total spent $119.93

On the garden effort really only the Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, and Roma's, were worth the effort.
The Chard for instance had a good return in not only the enjoyment factor for our table but also was a very profitable barter item. I eventually traded the last harvest, a peck's worth for a bushel plus of Winter Squash ($17). Some people really love Swiss Chard!
The Cantaloupe, and Watermelon never amounted to anything. The Green Bell Peppers worked out to about a 1/3 of a bushel. Peppers were on the very small side. Eaten fresh & dehydrated for later use in Chili & Soups.
Eggplant only yielded 1 med. & 1 very small but glorious purple tender globe. Next year I'll just consider bartering for a bushel or buying outright.

The rest of the ingredients used such as herbs were either freebies from GF's, obtained in bartering or started years ago in flower pots from seed.

Except for items such as Corn or the Chard which has to be Pressure Canned on my electric stove (I'm good but not that good @ Wood stove cookery) I cooked & canned on my laundry stove with free firewood. I'm not gonna calculate the cost of collecting the wood since the majority was done on foot with our little red wagon after the October 13Th storm.
Cost of my wood stove was absorbed last year as was my huge canner.
All American Pressure Canner was bought 8 years ago for $20 @ Aunt Sally's.

Old fashioned jar lifter was a gift from my SIL when we were running tag sales years ago.
Prepping was done with non electrical appliances such as paring knives or a Squeezo http://thirtyfivebyninety.blogspot.com/2007/10/utilizing-child-labor-opportunties-aka.html
All of my mason jars are paid off - freebies, gifts, or bought cheap over 5 years ago.
Canning lids were 9 ¢ each bought in bulk on eBay (shipping included).
224 canning lids were used for a cost of $20.16 , 3 mason jars broke during processing.

Comparison was to a local house brand from a Mega Mart who is so kind as to have online access to their products.
I didn't base cost on organic items because buying organic is out of my economic reach. If I had well I'd be talking a alot more Franklins.
That is one of the many reasons why we garden & forage.

Preserved Produce - 221 Mason Jars

Applesauce - 15 pints (240 oz.) retails for $9.60 ($1.99 /50 oz. or 4¢ per oz.)

Blueberry Jelly Organic - 13 jelly jars (104 oz.) retails for $28.51 ($3.29 /12 oz. or 27¢ per oz.)

Carrots - 7 pints (112 oz.) retail for $5.60 (65¢ /14 oz. or 5¢ per oz.)

Chard Organic - 6 qt. Unable to compare as this can only be bought fresh for $2.29 per bunch.

Cherries in Syrup - 12 pints (192 oz.) retails for $11.52 ( 99¢ /15 oz. or 6¢ per oz.)

Cherry Pie Filling - 11 qt. (352 oz.) retails for $42.24 ($2.59 /21 oz. or 12¢ per oz.)

Cider - 15 qt. 6 jelly's (528 oz.) retails for $21.12 ($2.39 /64 oz. or 4¢ per oz.)

Corn - 9 pints (144 oz.) retails for $2.88 (39¢ /15 oz. or 2¢ per oz.)

Current Jelly - 3 jelly jars (24 oz.) retails for $3.84 ($1.99 /12 oz. or 16¢ per oz.)

Hot Dog Relish Green Tomato - 7 jelly jars (56 oz.) retails for $7.28 ($1.29 /10 oz. or13¢ per oz.)

Lime juice - 11 half jelly's (44 oz.) retails for $9.68 (99¢ /4.5 oz or 22¢ per oz.)

Pickles Bred & Butter - 9 pints (144 oz.) retails for $20.16 ($2.19 /16 oz. or 14¢ per oz.)

Pickles Dill - 7 pints (112 oz.) retails for $14.56 ($2.09 /16 oz. or 13¢ per oz.)

Peaches - 15 qt. 4 pints (544 oz.) retails for $38.08 (99¢ /14.5 oz. or 7¢ per oz.)

Pears - 9 qt (288 oz.) retails for $17.28 (99¢ /15 oz. or 6¢ per oz.)

Pizza Sauce - 16 jelly jars (128 oz.) retails for $10.24 ($1.29 /15 oz. or 8¢ per oz.)

Salsa - 43 pints (688 oz.) retails for $61.92 ($1.49/16 oz. or 9¢ per oz.)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam - 14 pints (224 oz.) retails for $60.48 ($3.29 /12 0z. or 27¢ per oz.)

Tomatoes Stewed - 16 qt. (512 oz.) retails for $25.60 (79¢ /14.5 oz. or 5¢ per oz.

221 Mason Jars yielded $378.12 in retail value.

Minus $20.16 - 221 canning lids, $119.93 - produce & ingredients.

Net savings of $238.03 or $1.07 per jar.

Awful lot of work for under $250 even if you factor in that the majority of the produce was organic, and had a very high quality control (me) and tastes outstanding.
Granted there is the serenity factor of being able to cook & can outdoors in my garden. Did have a nice tan going on.
Not having to deal with with weekly grocery shopping especially in the Winter (could factor in gas milage).
Peace of mind knowing that we have a good stocked pantry is rather priceless.
Still, I really need to work on either better barter deals or growing more produce for free.
Also increasing the amount that I can on certain items like fruit.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crunching the numbers

~ ~ consider that a wave, be it a princess wave or a hailing a cab wave
Life has me running in circles right now. Employment schedule has changed drastically, children are busy running a muck a muck with both church and school activities which means child labor is in short supply, and my country man has started a new job so while he may be willing to be my prep boy he is elsewhere obliged. Pity his apron outfit makes me weak in the knees.
In short I need a good old fashioned hardy homestead wife to fill the void. Dressed a bit on the Amish side with good rubber clogs for gardening, strong hands that can weld a paring knife like a well train surgeon, and a deep desire to kick it. Ability NOT to say, " This is too much work" needed.
Any takers?

Canning season has wound down to a trickle. Jar count is over 200.
Freezer is filled to capacity with broccoli and beef and well items that hurt when they tumble out of the freezer dropping on our feet.
Buttoning down the old family home hasn't really even started despite a few good chilly nights.
Suppose were waiting for another October 13 storm to hit
Putting the garden to bed is taking longer than a first time babysitter with a set of 2 year olds doped up on candy.

So on that pitiful long winded excuse I pledge to have as soon as harvesting season is over October, I will have the final tally of our harvesting efforts from start to finish in dollars & cents.
The Feasibility Factor.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Got a windfall of Persian Limes from a friend who got them from a friend who originally got them from a food ministry who got them from a local mega mart. While the temptation to cut, squeeze, strain, and salt the nearest goblet in preparation of traveling to Margaritaville was great I made the decision to opt for long term storage. Future hopes of Lime curd and marinades for chicken won out. Directions posted from a query to HomesteadingToday forum provided directions based on a Ball Canning book.
2 lbs. of Limes gave me a quart and oh about a fourth of a pint of fresh Lime juice. Utilized half jelly jars for the containers since I doubt I'll need more than a few ounces at a time.
Lime juice retails for $4.39 a quart.
Limes were free, lids & jars were a B-day gift, energy to can also free.
Nonelectric food processor (knife & 1930 glass juicer).
While it can be said that canning up a few pounds of Limes was a waste of time I prefer to look at it as expanding my urban homesteading preservation mindset.
Sharpening my skills.
Besides I'm a type A personality.
Couldn't let a few Limes slip past me now could I ?
~~ pelenaka ~~

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Solar Reuse

A bit here. A piece there. Working our way to be off grid.
Take one 106 year old house with no electrical wiring to the back door.
Add in a need for lighting and a deep desire to be as frugal as possible.
Throw in a few broken solar garden lights.
Top it all off with a Husband who has a MacGyver can do attitude.
Voila - enough light to come & go at night plus a slight deterrent to the criminal element.
There is one solar light hanging from each corner of the door jam along with a few @ ground level.
Parts list - solar garden light (these had broken off the metal pole used to insert them into the ground), one of those key chain circles that you put a key on, length of metal chain, & 3 very small eye bolts. A $ store plant hanger.
Directions - screw the 3 eye bolts equal distances into the top of the solar light but be careful not to Pierce the solar panel. The idea is to form a triangle. Think hanging flower pot.
Next connect the length of chain in 3 equal lengths.
Then add the key chain circle @ the end of the chains.

Bet you thought Solar had to be expensive & complicated, huh?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beds & no pillows

Apparently I can grow Cabbage (center middle of the pic the area that is Sunny), which is something new since my one previous attempts had been a waste of growing space. If all turns out well then I'll can these babies up in a Cole Slaw recipe using jelly jars for individual servings. Only a few of us enjoy it so if I make it up fresh more than half goes to waste.
Foreground is a new raised bed that my New Zealand & Mixed Flemish buns are hard at work providing bunny poo for. Rabbit manure has 4.2% Nitrogen, 1.4% Phosphoric Acid , and .6% Potash. This method saves me on tray cleaning along with not having the cost of wood shavings.

Odor so far hasn't been an issue.
By next Wednesday I hope to have added the final 3 inches of soil & seeded salad greens in this bed & DH has built a lid of some sort - our 2nd cold frame, (hint hint my husband).
1st frost is scheduled between September 23rd to September 29th for my area zone 4/5. Provided Mother Nature doesn't have her own schedule. Not gonna bet the farm that I have a decent harvest of Eggplant or Green Bell Peppers.

Beginnings of a raised bed located in the very back of the back 40, feet that is. The first layer was bunny poo then gradually as compost material becomes available it's added.
Can you guess what I'm canning today? A tip from my B.B. let DH & the girls to a cornfield that wasn't able to be machine harvested. As my 12 y.o. informed corn picking isn't as glam as the old days. I believe she was referring to a hoe down & finding that specially designated corn cob that meat you could kiss a boy. By boy I can only guess she means a Jonas brother.
So today & this evening & more than likely the wee hours of the night I will be pressure canning sweet corn. So far 12 pints are being vaporized as I type.
Later when I have some help I'll move the lovebirds a.k.a. Willie & Handsome (don't judge ... actually Handsome was miss named he is a she), over to this bed so they along with our 3rd bunny can do their duty to the homestead.
In between layers of composting supplies I toss a thin covering of wood ash from the canning stove to provide minerals.

Also when I have enough ground up a thin layer of eggshells for calcium.
Followed by a layer of dirt.
Then bunny poo.
Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

Same tomato plant that was pictured being watered by bucket-drip irrigation a few weeks ago. Plentiful but not exactly large in size. I think my biggest was 3 oz. So far about a bushel has been harvested. Never the less these have been making some tasty salsa.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, September 8, 2008

Say Cheese !!!

This is what is termed a WFG a.k.a. Windfall from God.
The day before DH had attended a Steam Show in Alexander, New York where along with hit & miss engines on display there is a varied range of steam driven machines from tractors to a contraption the size of my house for running a shop. There was also a nice sized flea market with some very good deals to be had.
One of which was Cheese. Artisan cheese locally made. Cheese with titles such as Garlic Cheddar (40 lbs. blocks) , Horseradish & Bacon Cheddar (10 lbs.wheels) , Jalapeno & Cheyenne Cheddar (10 lbs. bricks) , Cheddar with Horseradish (10 lbs. brick) , and Jalapeno Cheddar (10 lbs. brick).
At first I was in quite a dilemma only having about $43 in cash. Then the cheese maker (k, people running the tent but how many times can I write that the cheese maker said?), that they take checks. Simultaneously both DH & I looked up @ each other with that strange smile we both get ... the WFG smile. All he said then was I'll go see if I can drive the car up here.
Long story short I bought over 100 lbs. of cheese for about a buck a pound.
Not long after we got home & I called my prime BB a.k.a. barter buddy to come snag some cheese & bring ice since storage hadn't quite been worked out a coworker called with an offer of almost a bushel of organic Bartlet Pears from her mother's tree. Brought about 6 Organic Macintosh (gift from DH's friend) along with a small chuck steak from our 1/3 of a cow meat deal for my end of the barter deal.
As soon as I repackage the cheese into smaller weights I'll mention I have cheese ... or carrots, potatoes, or hopefully more & different varieties of apples in case her peeps have extra pears.
Thank you to our Lord for blessing us with this opportunity.
Thank you to my Husband who dragged me out to a muddy farm to meet some wonderful people, see some wonderful antiques, and accept God's blessings.
~~ pelenaka ~~
P.S. As the cheese was being loaded into the car my 12 y.o. made the statement that she didn't want cheese for Christmas. I on the other hand would love crackers.
P.S.S. Sept. 9th - Bartered a 5 gallon bucket of mix variety tomatoes, good sized bunch of Parsley, and almost a bushel of Green beans for 5 lbs. of Garlic Cheddar from my Egg Lady.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Peaches Peaches Peaches

" Your the cutest thing I ever did see ... Really Love your Peaches ... wanna shake your tree ... Luv a dubby Luv a dubby all the time " Steve Miller Band

All totaled between the 2 peach trees the haul was about a market basket & a half which if bought works out to almost $25 (organic). Each tree retailed for $24.99. Doing the math after the 3rd year one tree is owned free and clear.

Seeing the twinkle in my children's eyes as they bite into a sweet juicy just picked peach - priceless.

~~ pelenaka ~~

http://thirtyfivebyninety.blogspot.com/2008/04/urban-orchard-part-3.html 3rd picture down - same tree full of pretty pink peach blossoms - future peaches !

MIA on the Urban Homestead

My apologies for this longer than intended absence from blogging. My only good excuse is that I have been knee deep in homesteading activities such as canning and bringing in the harvest.

Closely followed by home repairs/restoration on my version of TOH. In short making hay while there is daylight.

This is the view looking down the garden path toward the backyard. The patio is to the left behind the PVC lattice almost completely hidden by green beans. Right foreground is a very good looking Zucchini plant that has only produced one squash to date (note to self plant in front yard for full sun). Chard directly behind is picking up the slack producing very well. To the far right is the row of Roma Tomatoes lined with Marigolds doing what they do best bug patrol. Hard to see but between the 'golds are onions both yellow & red.

Here is a really fugal version of drip irrigation. One of the many items that attracted me to DH was his collection of plastic pails & buckets that he had hoarded away after years of collecting but I digress sorry back to the subject of drip irrigation.
In short the concept is very simple - a slow steady drip of water that finds it way to the deepest portion of a plants root system, a small area of wet soil that extends down to a foot or more vs. a large soggy area that only extends down a few inches (surface watering).
Each container has a small hole drilled in the bottom about the size of half a pea. That hole I found was best to place about two inches from the edge. This works well when I place the container up close along side the plants stalk as well as the original area where the root ball was first planted.
Good method to deliver either compost or manure tea.
There are 13 Romas on that one plant ... now if only they would grow to a pound each!

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, August 11, 2008

not my bro's deck

I'm pretty proud of how well the patio turned out so far. Pictured is the dinning area/canning kitchen with the PVC lattice trellis providing not only a bit of privacy but an area to grow green beans & cucumbers on. Directly behind the table growing is an heirloom pole bean, Garden of Eden. Many of our Italian neighbors have remarked how it reminded them of a green bean their father's grew. Thick & fat with huge seeds in the pods.

To the right is a smaller leafed pole bean, Gita Specialty Snap bean, also an heirloom.
Of the two the Gita comes in first for our preference of taste & texture.

This is a close up of Gita Specialty Snap bean. More than a few measured 16" however it's best not to let them grow that long or thick. Planning on canning these in a recipe called Dilly Beans.

Bragging rights on my Rainbow Swiss Chard - a whopping 27 " long. Unfortunately not every stem so for now I am selectively harvesting only the largest. Chard like other green leafy vegetables has to be pressure canned instead of the usual water bath canning procedure.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, August 4, 2008

Press this Baby!

This has nuttin to do with nuttin except well to brag on my Husband's skill & as an incentive for me to cut some cheese. You see I'm pretty much burned out on homesteading.
Well not all homesteading activities just the canning aspect. Actually not the entire canning aspect just the jar washing/sterilizing/water bath canning/wipe down & label/stocking shelves aspect. Followed closely by the renovation of my old house such as stripping of woodwork and installing replacement windows, and repainting the porch. Next up is staining woodwork & doors, painting & reasembling door hardware (100 y.o. screws).
So on what is my first night off after picking up extra shifts due to call offs DH & I are going out to an area outside of Buffalo to a wine tasting/vintage car show/antique event http://www.clarencehollow.org/index.php3 .
So whether or not I come back with an attitude adjustment tomorrow there is Rainbow Chard to preserve, Green beans to can, & if it ever stops raining perhaps Roma toms to put up also.
Oh and Broccoli to harvest.
Perhaps I'll stop by the local mega mart and grab a shopper's flier to read. Dose of economic reality should snap me outta it.
$2.50 per lbs. for Green beans.
51,000 Americans lost their jobs in July.
Gas @ Hess is $4.18 a gallon.
It's time to cut the cheese.
~~ pelenaka ~~
good buys @ a tag sale this week were a dozen & half of wide & reg. canning jars for $3.50
3 100% white cotton sheets sets & 4 sets of pillow cases all pre 1970's for $16.
Last week put up 8 Qt. of Cherry Pie Filling, 16 pt. of Cherries in syrup for ice cream toppings, oatmeal, or yogurt, and Maple syrup ( broke down a gallon jug into jelly jars for long term storage, yes canning can be used but not abused).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Red Currant

Huge apology for the quality of this photo.
Pictured is Red Currant berries along with a few leaves. This is by far my favorite berry to pick as there's no thorns on the bush nor tell tale finger tip stains. Currants come in 3 varieties, Black, Red, and White. A good friend of DH's offered his bush to us. After all was said & done I got about 2 1/2 cups of juice (20 mins. of picking) which is sitting patiently in the freezer waiting to be canned up into jelly.
I use the Red Currant Jelly as a sauce with either Chicken, Rabbit, or Pork Roast cooked up in the crock pot. Depending on the meat herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic, or Fennel are added.
Projected cost is estimated somewhere in the neighborhood of .20 per jelly jar - accounts for pectin & lid.
~~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Broccoli Repeat

Broccoli crop so far is mixed results - on one hand the plants themselves are really looking pretty good, standing about 18" with good Broccoli green color. On the other hand the heads only grew to about the size of Acorn Squash (farmer's market Broccoli was melon sized but not organic) before they started bolting (turning yellow/flowering).
This is a pic of a Broccoli plant that has already been harvested but was left to grow a second set of smaller florets. A repeat.
The first harvest yielded almost 9 cups of florets. So enough for 4 meals.
Retail value estimated @ $4.50. Subtract that from the original $27 paid for seedling planted in this bed. Silent scream in my head for not starting plants from seeds in April!
I'll be starting Broccoli from seed for a fall harvest (cold frame'ng it). Hopefully the bed that the Bun's are making will be ready to accept planting in a few weeks .
On today's chore list is; clean the 2 pints of Black Raspberries ( retail for $10 since their organic) DH & I picked yesterday afternoon from our satellite farm, then freeze. At the end of berry season I'll collect every thing from the freezer & can it all. Also pick all the mature Chard, clean, & freeze. This will also be held until enough is gathered to warrant a pressure canner load full of pint mason jars. It is amazing how produce like Chard & Spinach cook down to a fraction of their size.
Concoct an organic Aphid repellent to spray since all of the Apple Trees are infested.
No Ladybugs in sight. Spotted only a handful of Honeybees, 3 Bumble Bees, numerous Dragon Flies & wasps. Oh and a very inquisitive Blue Jay.
~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Taking advantage of a great opportunity to pick Cherries are my GF's young sons climbing (wearing bike helmets) her oldest Cherry tree.
She hasn't owned this city homestead long so this is the first Summer that she has been able to gather a sizable harvest of Cherries from this tree. Unsure as to what type just that they are red & juicy.
Since the tree has major issues her plan is to gather saplings growing ten feet away & replant in her corner lot. My plan is to snag the wood for a smoked meat project when it eventually falls.
This is for all those people who say that fruit trees are too much work. That they have to be sprayed. That they have to be netted. That you can't just let them grow - yes you guessed it this tree wasn't sprayed, netted, or watered. Did have a more than a few children climb it though.
~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Garden updates

This is the raised bed that last year held Celery. I expanded it width wise by about a foot & removed the rectangular pavers that sat on top of each cider block which allowed me to plant the perimeter with the French Army a.k.a. Marigolds for insect control.
Back of the bed has 2 Rhubarbs going on about 3 or 4 years old now. This year trying recipes from Ball's Complete Book of Preserving - pg. 193 Sunshine Rhubarb Juice Concentrate (similar to Cranberry per the book) & Victorian Rhubarb BBQ Sauce pg. 259. Also old standby favorite Strawberry -Rhubarb jam.
In the middle is Broccoli a hybrid variety. While it may look great foliage wise I'm disappointed that the heads aren't the size of basketballs or even volleyballs. More like the size of an Acorn Squash. Will be harvesting them today so that any off shoots can produce smaller heads. I'll have to experiment to see if I can get the those heads to the size of softballs.
Thanks to a fellow HT'er on the Garden Forum Broccoli is a cool weather plant so the red plastic mulch idea is a bad one.
In the very front is one of 2 beds of Chard Rainbow Variety. I love Chard. Sauteed in a bit of butter, lemon, & garlic.
Potted plant in the foreground is (L) is a Bee Balm which will be planted next year after I'm familiar with it. Tiny potted plant to the right is Lemon Balm to dehydrate later for Winter's tea.

Far right is what is left of the salad garden planted in Spring. The top of the cold frame has been removed. I was bemoaning the fact that I forgot to plant mustard as I had hopes of canning up some Beer Mustard pg. 274. DH informed that all those greens , ones with the yellow flowers that I was pulling up & feeding to the buns are Mustard. I'll thin out that bed & leave the mustard greens in hope of having enough (1 cup) and the right type (brown) to can up some gourmet mustard.
Today hitched a ride with a GF to a local Nursery where they had flats for $10 so I picked up a six pack of cabbage (planting in 1/2 gal pails), more broccoli (5 gal. pails), Green Bell Peppers (no clue where to plant) , cantaloupe (again no clue) , and pretty flowers. Now to go scrub down plastic pails bought curb shopping. Poke a few holes and spray paint them black.
Also need to can up a few things since it isn't suppose to rain today & tomorrow.
This bed has about $27 worth of plants not counting the Rhubarb which has recouped it's cost last year ($6).
Starting more of our plants from seed would have been much more cost effective.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rochester Stove Works - H. Bush

Sorry for not having a pic to go with this entry. I have the perfect one - a page from a 1847 City Directory from Rochester, New York, an advertisement for Henry Bush & Robert Harding's company Rochester Stove Works. Unfortunately it's in PDF & I'm pretty lame when it comes to jumping formats.
So here is the gist of the story behind that little parlor stove
I bought @ an auction -
Henry Bush of 228 Buffalo Street now West Main/Chili (chi-lie) Ave. shows up in the Daily American City Directory in 1844 as does his partner Robert Harding of 21 Kent Street. Occupations listed are stove makers.
Both vanish from the city directories around 1851.
Their company warehouse was on 34 Exchange with the foundry listed as Buffalo St. near the Genesee Valley Canal (Barge or Erie?).

Imagine that this parlor stove is in the neighborhood of 150 plus years old.
No cracks no holes.

Special thanks to Nell the librarian who put me on the right path.

~~ pelenaka ~~

07/18/2009 Co-Oppertative Foundry Rochester New York - unable to provide a pic but I ran across another small parlor stove stamped with Co-Oppertative Foundry. Simular design. May see if the Genesee Country Museum is interested in displaying my little stove since using it is a big no no.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bartering Opportunties Sought

Since we are spacial challenged a fair amount of our produce is either bartered or gleaned for. Our most successful method to establish local contacts is that old stand by a hand written index card.
Quick and to the point our card states what we need & what we have to offer. Repair of antiques, yard work, house cleaning, for gleaning rights. Fair trades in potted plants. Instruction in old time skills such as spinning. Apple pressing in exchange for a share of apples.
Handing out our cards have often given us an opportunity to start a dialogue with someone about the concepts of simple living in an urban setting. Chance to make a new friend.
I originally got this idea from my Mom who would always hand a notebook sized piece of paper to the person holding a tag sale. The paper had columns of items listed that Mom was interested in buying such as boys size 6 pants or yellow patterned drapes 78" long. Often that spurred the person to send a family member into the house to retrieve the items which of course had never been considered before. She also use to leave her contact info in case they ever came across those drapes.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Solar Dehydrator

This is a close up of the solar dehydrator that DH built me last year for about a dollar in materials. Missing are the trays which come from all my old Roncho electric dehydrators.
The air is drawn into the bottom of the intake (area that resembles a black slide). As it is heated it raises coming out the area that is white (square resembles a table).
On the slide is scraps of plexi glass snatched from a trash bin @ his job hence why there are horizontal lines instead of just a whole sheet of plastic. Glass could be substituted also but would add to the weight.
I sewed a mesh cover for insect control out of sunblock material I had in my scrap pile. A close weave cheese cloth would also work well.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

H. Bush, Rochester, New York

I have an addiction to stoves. Antique wood stoves to be exact. It was simple enough starting with my 1949 Hotpoint double oven ... just one hit ... don't inhale ...
Look where it has lead me.
First my 1900 laundry stove used for canning now this parlor stove possible circa 1850's. It's in awfully good shape with no holes or cracks. More than likely 1870's. Love the ridges.
Can't seem to find anything about a H. Bush Foundry in Rochester, New York online.
Stats; estimated weight is around 50 lbs. per DH, top is 11" wide x 20" long, stands 25",
flue is 4 1/2 ". The legs are removeable slide into brackets & are quite ornate.
To answer every one's question no my 1902 TOH has no remaining chimnies. All 3 - one in kitchen, front room/foyer, & up stairs bedroom were removed in the '30's replaced with radiator heating then with a forced air furnance.
But it does still have one of those bump outs that accommodate a stove pipe in that bedroom.
Or wouldn't a stove in the bathroom be the bomb on those cold Buffalo Winters?
I really should stay outta auction barns.
I may need an intervention.
Bring ladders & class B stove pipe. We'll do a Techno-Amish barn raising. I'll make New York style cheese cake & serve cordials.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


The best laid plans of Mice & Men ... I was planning on growing Opalka paste tomatoes for canning this Summer but the few that did sprout up were weak. So in a moment of desperation after being told at local organic greenhouse they had sold out of Amish paste seedlings I went commercial and bought Roma paste. There is always next Summer, (wiping away a tear).
I plant my tomatoes on their side to promote root growth. Roots will pop out all along the stems if buried. I leave about 2" to 3" peaking out. Within a day what was horizontal will be vertical reaching for the Sun. In a week or so I will repeat the process until the seedling is directly underneath the PVC trellis to which it will be tied to with twine.
The white powder on the soil is finely ground organic egg shells that I saved all winter. Free form of calcium which promotes flowering.
The red plastic is a tablecloth bought at the $ store. I read that the color will increase harvest by 20% when used as ground cover. Wonder what other applications it can be used for?
Time will tell.
6 pack Roma's were $ 2.49, bought 4 = $9.56
So I'm - $9.56 in canned stewed tomatoes category. Gonna have to make up for it in both increasing the harvest in general and foraging.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good Links

I found these two links while blog reading about wasted food @ http://wastedfood.com/.
The 1st is Love Food Hate Waste outta UK that has a great section on recipes where the search is based on what needs using up. There's a recipe called Bubble & Squeak that's worth a try for the unique factor alone. http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes
Link to converting Metric to Standard (it's a UK website after all) http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.htm
The second link from Wasted Food is the Society of St. Andrew, a Christian ministry dedicated to gleaning America’s fields and feeding America’s hungry.
Great opportunity to learn about gleaning - http://www.endhunger.org/index.htm

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

First Salad of Spring

Free Organic Baby Salad Greens grown in the cold frame. Seeds were a gift from a fellow urban homesteader. Not sure where she obtained them from no doubt a barter deal. This is a mix of non-iceberg lettuce the majority I can't i.d. without a seed catalog except for Red Oak. Wanna say the seed packet read salad mix from Johnny's seeds.
I sowed the lettuce much too close in the beginning of April half thinking it wouldn't be a problem since the seeds are 4 years old, more than likely not to grow. So now for the most part we'll just come out and kneel down next to the frame and attempt to pluck out every other lettuce plant. Make that pluck 3 leave 1.
Frugal aspect: from an earlier blog post about the cold frame http://thirtyfivebyninety.blogspot.com/2007/08/happenings-on-back-40-feet.html
Materials were free wood scraps, about $2 worth of black paint, and guess of $5 worth of upholstery plastic. Still need to do that upgrade to enable the original goal to be met - growing greens in Winter.
Current pricing on organic salad greens is $4.99 for 8 oz. Frame paid for itself last season so I'm curious how much of a savings it will generate this season.
Last night we ate about $6 worth for dinner.
~~ pelenaka ~~
  1. P.S. Chore list 5/5/08 - future rain barrels didn't get painted due to a difference between my engineer (DH) & myself. He has an idea for a new design ...
  2. New Patio design is 1/3 completed, waiting on the take down of my greenhouse which is waiting on the final threat of frost. Extreme difficulty foraging for cinder blocks, (must be the recession).
  3. New Raised bed is started but also waiting on the removal of the greenhouse. Soil was relocated from a bed located in the driveway along with found compost material (lazy neighbor who doesn't rake). Wasn't able to collect pond scum or wood chips yet. Placed rabbit cages over this bed & another to direct collect poop. Bun's are enjoying the change of scenery. I'm enjoying NOT cleaning cage pans.
  4. Rabbit tractor has been put on hold until I can find a suitable pasture. First attempt @ a local park attracted a dog & owner with way too many questions. The tractor design was my smallest cage placed on the open lawn.
  5. Planted a very small bed of wild garlic from a plant trade with a coworker. Garlic should be planted in the Fall when possible. Hope to trade a lilac for a Hosta next week.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chore list

Monday, Monday, time to get organized after my 3 12-hour shifts @ work. Quick check of the long range weather claims highs around mid 60's & more importantly lows around 40's. Chance of rain <>
So here's my list of outside homesteading chores to complete in the next 4 days.
  • Paint 2, 55 gallon food grade plastic barrels black so DH can make me more rain barrels. We both have a feeling that this will be a drought Summer.
  • Rework the patio - rearrange the pavers & put up a privacy trellis that will double as vertical growing space for green beans. Involves relocating pea gravel & using found materials.
  • Install a new raised bed - HD is having a sale on landscape timbers @ $1.89 each. Our need for more growing space outweighs our usual lax time schedule of curb shopping for found materials to use in construction of raised beds such as cinder blocks & huge rocks. This will also free up old cinders to recreate a better hearth for my canning stove or make a new stove.
  • Visit a local city park that has a fresh water filled quarry (licensed fishing only) to collect pond scum for composting. Forage for plants.
  • Snag countless trash cans full of free wood chips for mulch (city dump) for the back 40'.
  • Plant all those darn seeds we keep buying, collecting, trading, received as gifts.
  • Make a rabbit tractor so buns can be free ranged to save on feed & give them some space.
  • Survey my oldest DD's backyard to finalize plans for a satellite garden . She's rented a house in the same neighborhood so maintaining it will be convenient (yea, famous last words). Oh duh, add @ least two more rain barrels for that garden. Figure out a fencing system to deter her neighbor & their pets.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Urban Orchard Part 3

Our stretch of Summer like weather has come to a close with temps. expected to drop down to frost conditions on the night of 28Th, and wet snow on the night of the 29Th. My poor little Apple tree.

There are tiny little leaves sprouting up all over the branches. Good reinforcement as we I have never planted bare rot stock before.

Transplanted Strawberries from over the side yard that were growing under the Purple Cone flowers. Can never have enough Strawberries.

3 found galvanized plumbing pipe and some jute twine to contain the branches then a heavy duty large trash bag placed over worked very well for the first night of frost temperatures.

30 degrees tonight with rain (wet snow), then another night of below 38 degrees. After that low 40's for the rest of the week. Will have to set my alarm clock & walk out to brush the wet snow off the bag. DH says it will be a lost cause.

This is one of 2 Frost Variety Peach Trees that were my Wedding gift to DH a few years ago. Sorta a spontaneous purchase on morning after work when I stopped into a mega mart nursery store looking for onion sets. Apparently I have a weakness in Garden Centers. Very comical dragging these home buckled in my front seat of my subcompact car the tops hanging out the hatch. It's not a dwarf to say the least. Last year we got about a dozen peaches from the two. Very sweet & juicy.
The plan for tonight is to place as many stakes as I can find around the perimeter then drape that blue trap over the tree.
Maybe lite my supply of mason jar candles underneath. Sorta like they do in the citrus orchards during a cold spell with propane heaters.
Yeah, it's no wonder the Code man has his eye on me.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Urban Orchard Part 2

This is one of the 3 apple trees we bought. As per the catalog it's a self pollinating hand grafted semi dwarf, 4 on 1 antique variety. Which means that it can be grown to a height of 6' & has 4 different antique varieties of apples. I was riding the fence on this type of tree until the Nurseryman @ Miller's mentioned that it comes in an antique vs. modern tree.
Golden Russet -med./lg. yellow with russetting, crisp, keeps until April, good cider apple.
Snow or if you wanna impress your MIL Fameuse -med. red great eating, cooking, cider.
Summer Rambo -16th century French, lg. yellow, famous for eating & sauce, vigorous.
Roxbury Russet -16th century Massachusetts, lg. green, great for juice & cider, keeps until April.

4' away in the same bed is planted our 2nd Apple tree a Sops of Wine which date back to medieval England. Everything we have read on this variety says it's a great cooking & cider apple.

All the trees have buds with one or two that have tiny leaves. Unfortunately our recent heat wave of 75 + degree weather is coming to a close tomorrow. Will discuss with DH about throwing plastic over our orchard in the evening to prevent frost damage. Good that there all dwarfs, lol.

~~ pelenaka ~~
Now if I could just get over the fact that if I had planted fruit trees when I first moved in 8 years ago ...

Urban Orchard Part 1

Part 1
A few Sundays ago DH & I sent our daughter's to the movies via a Christmas Gift Card so we could go fruit tree shopping a few hours away in Canandaigua, New York. That in itself was a bit of an expirence becomming lost and slightly distracted with the numerius antique shops in the region. The only thing that stopped us was the fact that if we need the cargo room & $ for plants. So all total we spent about $150 for 3 apple trees, 1 cherry tree, and 2 grape vines and some sorta oil that DH said we needed for an insectiside. Gas was about $10. Bonding time priceless.
The Nurseryman who helped us was extremely knowledgeable & patient with us or rather me. Seems that aprently once in the warehouse I forgot I only farm >1/14 of an acre. I wanted everything. So once DH gave me a reality smack & we explained to him what we wanted to eventually accomplish he was very helpful in a very non salesman way. He even was able to give me his opinion on what different types of fruit tasted like which helped me decide (canning possibilities).
Oh he verified that more than 2 fruit trees is an orchard. We have an orchard!

~~ pelenaka ~~

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Needed : 260 jelly jars non wire bail type with or without rings. Also foraging/gleaning rights for fruit such as apples, peaches, & pears.
Offered : Handyman services, housecleaning, yard work (ready a garden for spring planting), pruning, cider, when in season; organic blackberries, 3 bushels potatoes, 100 lbs. of squash. Possible trade organic commercially butchered beef.

Here's the deal. Just spoke with my children's school in regards to attendance which is 180 days. 180 days of lunches. 180 days of eating a jelly jar of canned fruit per child.
Which is really 360 jars filled for two daughters. 2 lunches per day. 5 Lunches per week.
Fruit needed is about say 500 lbs. if I did the math right.
Lofty goal huh?
So I need about 200 more jars having about 170 jelly jars in inventory. Also need to see about getting deals on a bulk buy of fresh fruit. Apples would be the cheapest but can't see daughters eating applesauce 5 days a week no matter if it were spiced or not.
Can't recall what a bushel of fruit was fetching @ the farmer's market provided that a bushel is X amount of pounds, which it never is. Varies. Besides we are in an inflation so cost is a variable.
Lids bought last year by the case were 6¢ each.
So if I'm able to barter for jars or even if just use my already paid/free jars then the questions is how much $ to fill each jar. Cheaper than store bought individual fruit cups ? Should I factor in the green aspect of no further expended energy to make the plastic containers ? Take into account that I am assured what the contents are - as in semi to completely organic (tainted food supply like peanut butter) ? Also cost factor of sugar, spices, and orther ingredients.
All I wanted to do was have fruit on hand for school lunches that was low in sugar and preservatives, low in cost, and easily stored.

Sometimes I really need to be medicated.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Realizing limitations

This is one of my pedigreed Satin Angoras just short of being a year old. Can't tell you which one 'cause I'm so new ( or perhaps lame) that I didn't mark the cage. In any event this is either the Fawn or Red Satin. We had attended our 1st Rabbit show in Syracuse when DH fell in love with this breed dragging me down with him. Yeah that's it, gonna go with that at least until he reads my blog! The idea was that these would be a good dual purpose breed both meat & fiber. I think he thinks I spend way to much $ on yarn.
Well truth be told I have bit off more than I can chew in the rabbit department of our homestead. Future plan is to bring the rabbits down to a buck & two does then breed up for freezer camp.
So if your in my area of Western New York ...
Here is the link for the National Angora Rabbit Breeder's Club http://nationalangorarabbitbreeders.com/blog/

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dirty Laundry

These are the 3 basic ingredients in making your own laundry soap minus the water.
To be truthful this is only really fugal if you can manage to buy the components on sale or with coupons. Fortunately over a year ago a local M&P chain grocery store went belly up so I was able to stock up on the washing soda & borax. I have yet to find any store brands of these two. The Fels Napa can easily be replaced with a pink laundry bar soap from Mexico named Zoot, if memory serves me right. Check out any of the $ stores in both the cleaning & body care sections.
I used Fels because I was able to find it for a buck. Yes, I stocked up buying 12 bars.
Or if your really a hard core homesteader you could render your own lard (provided if was obtained cheap) and saved up a year's worth of wood ash to filter your own lye (storage & effort issues). File that effort under "Good to know in case".
I have a front load washing machine which after 4 years hasn't suffered from this old fashioned laundry detergent. I don't add any essential oil because well that would add to the cost which this time around works out to 3 cents per load. Also once the fabric softener is added can't say I can smell the essential oil.
On the subject of fabric softener - tired vinegar while it is great for a rinse cycle removing soap residue it isn't fabric softener. Softner takes on a whole new meaning when your machine spins like a jet engine & the clothes are line dried.
1 bar Fels Naptha Soap
2 cups Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Cut up the Fels, combine with 2 cups water in saucepan heat until soap is melted. Add this to a 5 gallon pail with 4 gallons of warm water. Stir in dry ingredients until well mixed. 1/8 cup or less works for us in my front load washing machine.
~~ pelenaka ~~