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 (rareseeds.com)) 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwyQxdq22JA).  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.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCe6IIOVX28 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUpfGMu8fOA)


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 √
    rhubarb
    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?

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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?

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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 TrayerWilderness.com and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥

Mutlipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying Rack

Mutlipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying Rack

Multipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying RackThe Mountain Man is always fabricating, creating and manufacturing useful items for our homestead.  Sometimes it is necessary for us to manufacture things to fit our needs, to improve the modern day counterparts and to allow us to do unique and creative things here.

Many of these tools will benefit you as well so once we create these items we add them to our site so they benefit you as well.

Our Multipurpose Hand Forged Herb Drying Rack is not only perfect for those of us that are drying our home grown herbs, flowers and medicinal plants as well as all those wonderful things in nature that we forage.

Multipurpose Handforged Herb Drying Rack with Lantern Hook Broken Down

In addition to its drying abilities this whole hand crafted unit comes apart for easy storage and cheaper shipping.

You can put this together and only utilize the top rack for drying extremely long things.

This hand forged rack could be used to hang kitchen utensils, jewelry, scarves, hats, lanterns and honestly the sky is the limit based on your creativity, but I personally can envision SO many uses for this.

If you would only want to use this rack for drying and would put it away at the end of the season, you will be able to utilize our lantern hook that comes with it for an indoor plant, lantern or what have you.

I think this is such a useful hand forged piece and I am excited to present this to you.

We are accepting pre-sales on this item right now at a discounted rate and upon our return from GA and my surgery, we will start packaging and shipping them on March 1st.

To see more of our hand forged items, visit: http://trayerwilderness.com/store/hand-forged-metal-art/

8″ square by 12″ between layers

 

Price: $75.00

10″ square by 12″ between layers

Price: $85.00

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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 TrayerWilderness.com and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥

Podcast #125:  Interview with Dr. Eric Zielinski on Biblical Health

Podcast #125: Interview with Dr. Eric Zielinski on Biblical Health

Mountain Woman Radio Podcast 125 Dr Eric Zielinski Biblical HealthJanuary 20th, 2016: In today’s show I had the extreme privilege to interview Dr. Eric Zielinski.  We spoke today about biblical and natural health.  Dr. Z is a wealth of information and his website DrEricZ.com should be bookmarked by all.

Check out his Heal Your Gut Summit that is going on right now.  So many things can be healed in our bodies by simply healing our gut issues.

You can also check out my interview with Dr. Eric Zielinski on his show here:  http://drericz.com/2015/12/healing-off-the-grid/

You can also find his Biblical Health Radio on iTunes.

 

If you like my Mountain Woman Radio you can also Subscribe to me on iTunes.

Submit a review on iTunes.

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Helping Your Family Deal With Unexpected Illness

Helping Your Family Deal With Unexpected Illness

Helping Your Family Deal With Unexpected IllnessWe typically write and video things that are happening on the homestead to share and educate our audience.  This is a bit of a different season for us.  Although we still have projects and we are living life, we are also dealing with an unexpected setback and illness.  This season has also brought lessons to which I feel are essential to share.

When a family is faced with adversity they pull together as a team and work through it, but when one is sick and suffering it bring new challenges.

Everyone deals with their feelings, fears and struggles in different ways, but the key to these situations is extremely good communication.  Honestly, good communication is an essential to everyday living, but it is something that many have to work at.  Along with good communication comes understanding to which is a key to success in life, marriage and truly all aspects of  living.

Good communication is the doorway to understanding.  It can help others to understand how you are feeling and why you may be acting the way that you are, it can keep people from stuffing their feelings or even denying them which in turn will cause other problems and it can also help to relieve stress and provide comfort.

As many of you know, my son Austin is high functioning autistic and although he has overcome 97% of autism there are times when you can see autism shining through.  During this chapter in our lives, I have seen Austin struggling.  This is something he has never had to deal with, it is new.  He is typically a very kind, helpful and good natured young man and during this time he has been displaying a lot of anger and lashing out.  Knowing this is not normal behavior for him, I have tried to keep in close communication with him to help him through this time.

Men are not typically talkers, they keep their deepest feelings to themselves, but I have made it a point to draw their feelings to the surface during this time so we can help each other through this process.

In communicating with my son this morning, he shared that he is putting his total trust in God and pushing his feelings aside.  Although it is a good thing to put his trust in God, it is not good to push his feelings aside.  I shared with him that by pushing his feelings aside it was causing his feelings to surface in anger and mouthiness.  Having these conversations helps our children to better understand their feelings and to understand that it is ok to express their feelings and to talk about them and even to cry.

It is hard to watch a loved one in pain, not being able to do the things they normally do and to see sickness taking over.  Communication, understanding, compassion and patience also play a role during these times.

Our men process things differently than we do and they too will deal with worry and fear differently as well.  They are fixers and hurt inside when they are unable to fix and repair.  They often feel helpless so while these situations are present it is important to remember each others feelings and ways in which they processing things.

Although I am unable to do the things I would normally do with my family, even going for a short walk has been hard so being creative has been helpful in still keep a window and time open to do something special with each of them.  I spend time with the Mountain Boy, playing board, dice and card games, watching movies or YouTube and reading together.  We also have a special time set aside to do devotions together which has become a very cherished time for us.

I spend time snuggling with the Mountain Man and discussing our dreams, our plans for the year and watching varied YouTube videos..  We are always taking time to educate ourselves and continue learning and YouTube is a great resource for knowledge.  There are several channels (you will be able to find them soon in our resource pages) that are very similar to our Trayer Wilderness channel to which we enjoy and can always glean information from.

We never know what tomorrow will offer us, but God uses every circumstance in our lives to build us and mold us as he sees fit.  I was recently asked. “If I could go back in time, what would I change?”  The answer to that question was nothing!  I have gone through some pretty rough spots in my life, but in looking back I can see how God used each of those times to build me, mold me and make me who I am today and I am thankful to be where I am and happy with who I have become.

So as you may also be weathering a certain storm along with me, look for the blessings, keep communications open, pull closer to God and your family and allow God to use this time to mold you and bring you to the next stage in your life!

There is always something beautiful on the other side of adversity!

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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 TrayerWilderness.com and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥

Facing The Realities of Illness

Facing The Realities of Illness

Facing The Realities Of IllnessI felt compelled today to share with you some of the current situations in my home.  As many of you know, my health is not in a good place.   Before too long, I will be sharing with you what the causes are for my bad health, but in the meantime I would like to encourage those of you that may be in a similar situation, there is hope.

There is hope for many things…  A better life, better health and always happiness.

Do you know we are responsible for our own happiness?  Yes, this is a truth!  We can not expect someone else to create our happiness.

In my humble opinion, I think a lot of our happiness and wholeness comes from the walk we have with Jesus!  The closer we walk with God the happier and more fulfilled we will be, no matter what our life circumstances.

Do you allow your unfortunate circumstances to define you and affect you?  This my friend’s is a choice.

I have not felt well for well over 3 years now and as the years progressed so did the decline of my health.  Honestly, it was a very scary experience because no matter how hard I tried to find the answers, there were no answers in site.  There were so many things going wrong and going on at one time that it was hard to pin point my struggles, but by the grace of God and his amazing hand in my life,  we now know what things are responsible for my declining health.

Let me share this with you as well,  many of you know I am a VERY VERY VERY active person and a go getter!  I am no longer able to keep the pace or do the things I was always able to do.  Since October when my health rapidly declined I am couch bound and often so uncomfortable that standing, nor sitting, nor even laying down is comfortable which leaves me turning to God in prayer for his comfort, peace and removal of my pain.

Many of you suffer from debilitating and chronic illnesses.  My heart has always and will always go out to you because even before I was sick myself I knew how hard your day to days must be.  Such situations can chip away at our mental, physical and even emotional health, BUT there is hope and there are choices…

Perspective and our choices play a very BIG role in all of this.

When I get bummed out, have unfortunate circumstances or am not well – I battle more with myself than anything…  I do not allow my circumstances to rule and I battle with keeping a gloomy perspective on things because I know without question there is always someone in a worse situation than myself.    It is ok to be sick, to be bummed and we all have unfortunate circumstances and it is ok to feel the affects of those situations – it is not something we need to beat ourselves up for.  It is ok to experience those feelings, but it is important to move past those feelings too!  If we get stuck in a “woe is me” state of mind for too long we then become responsible for a very negative view of our situation and folks, negativity breeds negativity.  So when I experience such situations, I have learned to allow myself to experience those new feelings and then I start looking immediately for the shiny side of the penny in my situation.

No matter what the circumstance, I will always do this.  Why?  Because I truly feel that God uses all our circumstances for the good, IF WE ALLOW HIM TOO!!

The enemy looks for openings to slither in and work us over…  Negative things run through our heads such as, you will never be well, you are going to lose your home if you can’t find work, your vehicle is not fixable, etc…  He is what creates that negative self talk we are ALL so good at!!  Yes – I too, even being as positive as I am, have to pay great attention to what is going on in my head…  I have learned that anything negative in my head is the enemy trying to win me over, trying to seep in and weaken me so that I will continue to listen to more of his negativity.  I was hearing him say that I was USELESS last week when I was couch bound and others were doing my chores.  I started to listen and was even reduced to tears in the changes in my life, but you know what?  He is WRONG!!  I was still working while on the couch and I am not USELESS – I am temporarily benched and needing to slow down, but at the same time I am BLESSED with the angels God has so conveniently provided just when I needed them most!

Seeing the good in our circumstances can be hard at times, but I know if you look hard enough you will find the blessings no matter how small.  You need to make a conscious effort to look for the blessings versus allowing your circumstances to consume you and define you.  When you put your focus on the blessings in even the worst situations you are reprogramming your brain to look for the positive instead of being stuck in the negative.  This is one of the best habits you could create in your life and I promise you the rewards are great!

Often times, our circumstances require us to be creative.  I LOVE being creative in my life.  I can thank my son for the creative spin I put on my life because it was what I needed to do to help him to conquer his autism.  I will give you an example of how I was creative.  I was very seriously feeling useless and it was because I was thrown into a new routine with a protocol I am doing for my health.  I am having to soak my feet and do some unique treatments which are taking at least an hour to an hour in the half in the morning.   My mornings are my power time of the day, I am a morning person and I do my best thinking and am the most productive in the wee hours of the morning when things are quiet.  I was giving up my most productive hours in my day to the new protocol when the new protocol did not need to be a morning thing – they just needed to get done.  I realized why I was so disheveled and changed my schedule in that I took back my power hours with God and my work and when my house comes alive and there is a lot of activity and things going on – I could soak my feet and do my treatments which has also enabled me to have some very personal time with my family so it actually has given me two wonderful things – the feeling of self and use and the personal time with my family that I hold near and dear.

As many of you will learn in taking my new course Getting Organized In A Crazy, Busy World in the new year, I am a very organized person and when we pay attention to our needs, our calendars and our goals and put God and our families first everything else just falls into place.

For those of you that are dealing with poor health, debilitating or chronic illnesses or unfortunate life circumstances, I encourage you to pause, pray and take a look in your life for the blessings.  Don’t let your circumstances and the enemies negative talk define you.  With the help of God, be BIGGER than your life circumstances.  Choose to be a light to others and allow God to use you!

I feel so honored to be going through my current circumstances because I know God will be glorified and there is great purpose in all of this!

There are so many ways we can be a  light to others, but when others see us improvise, adapt and overcome or be content and happy even when life throws us a curve ball – it gives them hope and a new determination to experience their circumstances in different ways…

I do know how hard this can be and I also do not want to down play the emotional side of things.  Be sure to read my next post The Emotional Side of Sickness because there are ways you can help others around you to cope with sickness and their struggles.

If you or someone else is in need of prayers, by all means, feel free to email us at survive@trayerwilderness.com so we can add you to our daily prayers!

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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 TrayerWilderness.com and keeping us up, educating, inspiring and running!  ♥