One Quarter Can Save You Hundreds

One Quarter Can Save You Hundreds

Simple Easy Preparedness Tip Everyone Should Know When The Power Goes Out

How often do you lose grid power? I know it happens often around here and we are thankful to be unaffected by grid power loss because we are utilizing solar power on our homestead, BUT this particular circumstance could also affect us…

Have you ever lost power while you were away from home and wondered how long the power was out and if the contents of your freezer are still good? We utilize propane for our freezer and refrigerator and we could very easily get something in our line that would cause it to clog (thankfully in 8 years we have never experienced this or power loss), BUT this is one thing that can cause GREAT loss.

Today, I have a simple, easy trick that can take the guesswork out of how long the electric was off and also whether all may be lost.

You simply fill a canning jar or container 3/4 of the way full and allow it to freeze. Once frozen you simply add a quarter to the top of the ice and place back in your freezer.

If you ever lose power while away from home you will now have a gauge as to what happened in your freezer. If the quarter is still on top of the ice the power must not have been out long and things did not even thaw at all. If the quarter is partially through the ice it is likely that your foods may have thawed a bit, but refroze which would indicate that your food should still be fine. If the quarter is at the bottom of the container it is likely that everything thawed and refroze in which case dependent on the contents things may be questionable and it is likely that if you had meats in paper you will see the telltale signs of thaw with blood that has leaked out of the packages from the thaw.

My sweet friend Mona found this tip sometime over the years and wasn’t quite sure where she found it but knew that I would love to know this trick(and she was right) and she also knew that I would LOVE to share it with you all!

What a great way to add peace of mind and a gauge that may eliminate you throwing a whole freezer full of food away out of fear!

So be sure to take a few minutes and safeguard your freezers!

What did you think of this tip? Pretty simple and smart, huh? We LOVE hearing from you all so share your thoughts below in the comments…

Do you have any tips similar to this one that you would like to share? If so please share in the comments below…

Goals vs. Reality – Gardening, Canning, and Building

Goals vs. Reality – Gardening, Canning, and Building

[guestpost]This is a guest post by Michelle Hedgcock. Be sure to read more about Michelle at the bottom of this post![/guestpost]

Goals vs Reality Gardening Canning BuildingIn my previous post, MORE Was My Catalyst,  you read about how I got started on my journey and the progress made.  Now that I have another year under my belt I still feel like there is so much to do.  Initially, I thought that we’d be able to get everything how we wanted it within three years.  Yeah, not so much!  So let me tell you about our goals for 2015.

Our plan was to get chickens in the spring, put up a pole barn or update our garage, put in a greenhouse, start seedlings for the garden, add to the orchard to include some nut trees, plant grapes, hardy kiwi, rhubarb, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries, as well as expand the garden with raised beds and in ground.  Additionally, I wanted to increase the amount of canning to be put up to not only include things like fruits, veggies, and broth but meat as well.  And the plan was to do all of this in addition to our normal everyday things, stock up on wood for the winter to keep our heating bill down, and a couple week long vacations (we don’t usually take more than one so this was an exception for 2015).

Pretty aggressive right? Do you think we accomplished everything?  Nope.  Not a chance.  What do you think was our set-back?

Our set-backs were money and time.  So typical right? The year started out well for the most part.  The garden plan was created with the knowledge that the raised beds would be finished in the spring (hubby started in the fall but with getting firewood ready for winter he wasn’t able to complete that particular project).  The seeds were planted during the correct time according to the garden planning calculator from Seeds for Generations. Finally, when the weather cooperated, the raised beds were completed.  We put in two 4X12, two 4X8, one 4×24 and one 4×4.  The 4X4 was claimed by my daughter so she had a hand in every step of the building of it.

Now, can you imagine filling those darn things with soil?  It was back breaking work using the wheelbarrow but I did it with a little help from the family.  But before I did that I put some wire down in the bottom to prevent moles and such from disrupting the plants during growing season.  Next I threw in some small branches (my version of hugelkultur) with the soil/compost mixture on top.

goals vs reality building

Around the time that the raised beds were being finished a friend of ours contacted us and asked if we wanted a free pole barn.  Who can say no to that??  The catch was that we had to dismantle it. So we made a trip out to the farm where it was and found that there was a small shed with some damage to the roof and sides that needed to be removed as well.  And we could have that for free too.  My husband worked tirelessly to get everything taken apart and brought home.  The only problem is that it took away from his time to find and cut wood for the winter.

2015 was also the year that my best friend got married so I made a trip out to Nebraska during prime planting season, over Memorial Weekend, to spend a week with her.  Because of this trip, several plants were delayed getting into the ground.  And then there were nutrient deficiencies in a section of the garden.  And come to think of it, the seeds that I planted in that section in 2014 never took off.  So that may be why.  I normally don’t buy anything to add to my soil but I had to make an exception in this case because my tomatoes were severely stunted and sickly looking.  After a quick internet search to figure out exactly what the deficiencies were, I used a combination of things for this area: bone meal for phosphorus, crushed egg shells for calcium, and an Epsom salt water spray for magnesium.  My tomatoes started doing better but my harvest still wasn’t very good due to the combination of late planting and then having to fix the nutrient deficiency.

Goals Vs Reality Gardening

One of the best parts of the summer was spending time with my daughter picking strawberries and then preserving them by canning, dehydrating, and freezing.  While we planted both 4×8 raised beds with strawberries and they filled out nicely from the runners I’m not convinced that we have enough for this family.  I may have to find a spot to put in a big patch.  Good thing is that I won’t have to purchase strawberry plants anymore.  Those plants send out a ton of runners!

goal vs reality canning

August was extremely busy with canning new things.  I never knew that when processing corn that it smelled like buttered popcorn.  And no butter was used!  It took a bit of time because there were so many pints filled.  And trying to remove the pit from peaches was a difficult task for me.  I’m sure it was user error though as that was my first attempt at that.  One of the jams that I made using the peaches was the Maple Vanilla Peach Jam found in the Preserving with Pamona’s Pectin book which is great on waffles!

We have an apple tree on our property that was there when we moved into this house in 98 which we always thought was a crabapple tree.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that we realized that it wasn’t!  I took the plunge and decided to make applesauce with the windfall apples from it and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was and how little sugar had to be added.  Those apples are absolutely perfect for applesauce.  I’ll be making applesauce every year from now on.  And the apple butter from those apples? Delicious!

My daughter’s little garden did really well.  She had decided to grow onions, carrots, cucumber, and a small pumpkin.  The pumpkin seeds never germinated but everything else grew well.  The onions were huge!  The carrots were a cool purple color (Purple Dragon from Baker Creek Heirlooms ( and grew big.  In fact, we used them on the veggie tray for my husband’s 40th birthday party and everyone loved them.

goals vs reality gardening carrots

In November, I picked up my order from Zaycon Fresh which I had heard about from Tammy in this video (  Her How to Can Chicken videos gave me the courage to try it myself.  I’ve included the links here so you can watch yourself either in another browser by clicking the links below or you can watch the same videos directly below.  ( &

Canning chicken is a long process due to the processing time and with the amount I had it took me well into the early morning hours (like 3 AM early).  After having this experience as well when I canned the corn, I decided I needed to have two pressure canners. I can’t fit two on my stove side by side but I can remove one and put the other on to get it going while the first one is depressurizing which still saves time. I love having Amazon Prime and being able to get my order within two days.  I now have two Presto canners . Since I have a glass-top stove the All American Pressure canner can’t be used.  Always refer to your user manual to verify if the Presto canner can be used on your glass-top stove.  Whatever you do, don’t slide the canner across the top of the stove.  Unless you like the scratched look.

Wondering how we’re doing on the chicken coop and pole barn?  Well, we have the pieces here except the big metal siding as we need to borrow a flatbed trailer for that.  And everyone’s schedule just hasn’t worked out to make that a reality.  So nothing has been built.  And how did we do in gathering wood?  Well, if it hadn’t been for my brother-in-law, it would have been a cold winter.  He gave us at least 4 face cords even delivering some of it himself.  And a co-worker of my husband’s knew of someone who needed a tree removed.  The best part was that it was already felled and mostly cut up.  We’re very fortunate to have others looking out for us.

Here’s a list of what we did accomplish in 2015:

  • get chickens in the spring put up a pole barn or update our garage
  • put up a pole barn or update our garage
  • put in a greenhouse
  • start seedlings for the garden √
  • add to the orchard to included some nut trees √
  • grapes
    hardy kiwi √
    blueberries √
    strawberries √
    cranberries √
  • expand the garden with raised beds and in ground √
  • increase the amount of canning to be put up √

We ended the year with a road trip to Hilton Head Island, SC where we enjoyed some unusually warm weather and got to see dolphins.  It was awesome!  There’s nothing like spending that week between Christmas and New Year on vacation (we left Christmas night and returned on Jan 3rd).  During the trip I reflected on how the year went and what’s ahead.  I’m happy to say that I TRIPLED the amount of food put up!  In 2014 it was 106 jars and 2015 was 320!  It truly was a busy year of learning and growth from starting seedlings effectively for the first time out of several prior attempts, making food from scratch, preserving enough to feed my family to being more realistic in our goals. While we didn’t get the pole barn built or the garage fixed up we did have to get a small inexpensive shed out of necessity.

I hope 2015 was a good year for you and am really looking forward to all the good things to come in 2016.

What is on your list for 2016?


#TrayerWilderness  #Gardening  #Preserving  #Inspiration

MORE Was My Catalyst

MORE Was My Catalyst

MORE Was My CatalystHave you ever thought “There’s got to be more to life?”  Yep, that’s where I was at September 2013.  I was working a full-time job with a minimum two-hour commute daily and an elementary child in before and after school care (known as Latchkey here in our school system).  I was dissatisfied with my job and just knew that there had to be more than just going to and from work to pay bills and spend money on things.  I wanted MORE quality time with my family.  MORE time to garden.  MORE time to take care of my health (I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in February 2013). I wanted to feel like I was making a difference.  At the same time, I started perusing Pinterest where I kept coming across homemade laundry detergent posts.  And from there I started finding other homemade items.  This led to finding homesteading blogs, including Trayer Wilderness which quickly became one of my favorites.  My eyes OPENED!  That was what I had needed.
So I made a plan.  I made a list of pros and cons to quit my job to be a full-time homesteading Momma.   I ran budget numbers…over and over and over.  Then I presented it to my husband.  It took several months to convince him but we had many great conversations about what we wanted for our family of three.  From there plans and goals were developed.  It took us about three months to get everything in place in order for me to quit the job that I  thought I’d retire from.  This included paying off as much debt as possible. In May 2014 I gave my notice and my last day was the first week of June.
 More Was My Catalyst Garden
Part of the preparation for me being home was getting the garden in.  In previous years I had planted a garden, but could never keep up with it.  So the weeds had taken over.  So it was a ton of work to not only plan what and where to plant but to till it, mound up raised rows, and put cardboard down in between all the rows .  In addition to a garden, we wanted to put in an orchard right away because it will take several years to see a harvest from it.  The orchard included apple, pear, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, mulberry, and fig trees as well as blackberry, raspberry, and elderberry bushes.
 MORE Was My Catalyst Orchard

Other goals included increasing our food storage thru canning and dehydrating, neither of which I had never done before in my life.  All the tools to do this were purchased before I quit my job as that was part of the plan.  So, there I was with a water bath canner AND a pressure canner.  My first foray into canning was water bath canning making strawberry jam and sauce and strawberries in syrup.  I also dehydrated strawberries (which were excellent in oatmeal and cereal).  Blueberries were next on my list.  By this time, I was becoming a regular at the farmers market.Finally I was brave enough to use the pressure canner.  I was tense the whole time but I successfully canned chicken broth.  I haven’t bought broth or stock since!  In all I successfully canned and dehydrated 106 jars of food.  Not bad for six months and just learning!  I also learned so much from all the homesteading and preparedness blogs that I knew 2015 had to be even better.

What was your reason?  What led you on your journey?


#TrayerWilderness  #Gardening  #Preserving  #Catalyst

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Paid Endorsement Disclosure:   This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥

Mountain Woman Radio

Mountain Woman Radio

Mountain Woman Radio - Tammy Trayer

Mountain Woman Radio is available every Wednesday either on our website or iTunes.

Mountain Woman Radio is  loaded with inspiration, encouragement and knowledge on self-reliance, preparedness, sustainability, homesteading, off-grid living, wilderness survival, day to day life, autism, traditional and primitive skills, gardening, canning and so much more.  Not to mention, there are guests from all walks of life joining frequently to share their stories.

Not everyone is able to listen to podcasts due to poor internet connections and such, therefore,  we have created cd’s so that you can listen at your convenience as well as gift them if you feel so inclined.

Mountain Woman Radio Christmas

Mountain Woman Radio Season 1


Mountain Woman Radio Christmas  


Mountain Woman Radio Season 2

Trayer Wilderness Off-Grid Homestead Tour With Beyond Off Grid

Trayer Wilderness Off-Grid Homestead Tour With Beyond Off Grid


It was a great honor and privilege to be a part of the Beyond Off Grid Summit/Webinars.

As you all know, we feel very led to share our knowledge, skills and inspiration in these uncertain times.

We decided to give you a tour of our homestead, show you around a bit and offer some tips and tricks along the way.

If you missed the live presentation, you can catch the tour here.

If you are unfamiliar with our personal story, you can read more about us in detail here.

In this webinar, I will discuss the following topics:

  • Why we chose to go back to their roots
  • Why we chose a life with 100% solar power
  • How we built their homestead
  • How we embraced a frugal self-reliant lifestyle while letting God lead the way
  • How we raise animals, harvest wild game and forage from their surroundings
  • How we grow and preserve most of our own foods, and our future plans for growth
  • How we utilize our skills on our homestead and in making an income
  • How we feel traditional knowledge and primitive skills will keep us moving forward
  • How homeschooling and our lifestyle changed our son’s life


Be sure to check out my books on Amazon

P.S. – We would love to have you join our newsletter and check out our Academy!


#TrayerWilderness  #OffGridLiving  #Homesteading  #EmbraceOffGrid

email trayer wilderness Trayer Wilderness on Facebook Trayer Wilderness on Google+ Trayer Wilderness on Twitter Trayer Wilderness on Pinterest Trayer Wilderness on YouTube Trayer Wilderness on Instagram Mountain Woman Radio from Trayer Wilderness on iTunes Tammy Trayer of Trayer Wilderness on LinkedIn  Trayer Wilderness RSS Feed

Paid Endorsement Disclosure:   This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link I will make a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥

Book Review – Simply Canning: Survival Guide to Safe Home Canning

Book Review – Simply Canning: Survival Guide to Safe Home Canning

Simply CanningFor those of you that have read my other canning posts or watched my canning videos on our YouTube channel you are familiar with and my dear friend Sharon Peterson.

I not only have the wonderful opportunity to communicate with her online, but I had the privilege to meet up with her here in Idaho when her husband came our way on a business trip.

Simply Canning and Trayer Wilderness

We spent the day in a park here in Idaho with our boys and enjoyed good conversation and we really got a wonderful chance to get to know each other.  Since then we keep in touch regularly and help each other out.  She is a sweetheart and I am blessed to know her as a person and I have also been blessed with her books.

Each of her books are utilized in my kitchen and in my home.  She is a wonderful author with a great writing style and is a fantastic educator on what she loves best!

For those of you that may be intimidated by canning or are looking for a good resource before you get started, Simply Canning: Survival Guide to Safe Home Canning is what you are looking for as well as Sharon.  She is such a wealth of information and reading her book is like having her hold your hand in your own kitchen.  You CAN do this too! (Pun intended) 🙂

Sharon and I are very much alike in that our passion for canning is to feed our families of big eaters, healthy and nutritious food all winter long, most of which comes from our own gardens.

I can not rave enough about this book and recommend the book as well as Sharon and her website to everyone I talk to about canning and preserving.  She is the go to for everything canning and there is a reason there are 256,000 people on Facebook alone following her.

So be sure to pick up your copy and stay tuned for my reviews on her other books! ♥

Paid Endorsement Disclosure: In order for me to support my time spent blogging and educating, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.