Yesterday I tackled a tiny piece of the mustard patch.  We planted this garden late in the fall, not certain if anything would stand the winter.  However, we knew for certain that seeds won’t grow in the package so we threw them out there.  In the last few weeks of brighter sun and sometimes warmer weather they’ve Continue reading

The Heifer Project

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We got the heifer butchered and things have been jumping around here lately.  It’s been a re-learning experience as we haven’t butchered a cow in 20 years!  We’ve decontructed lots and lots of other livestock and game, though, which is definitely a pre-requisite to butchering a bovine. Continue reading

Cured Venison Loin: Smoking


On day 21 of curing I decided it was a good day to smoke our venison loin.  The meat is first washed then allowed to dry in the breeze forming a pellicle, or shiny skin on the surface.  This will result in a beautiful even color in the finished product and prevent sooting and smudging.

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Cured Venison Loin: Day 7

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On Day 7 the venison loin was due for an “overhaul”,  meaning a check-up and another application of cure.  Notice how pretty and pink the meat is.  It looked great and smelled sweet.  Again, I used 1/2 oz per pound, rubbed into all surfaces of the meat, then back into the fridge or a cool spot for another 7 days at least before smoking.

Woodstove Cooking: Cleaning The Pioneer Maid

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I took advantage today of the warm weather and no fire to clean the woodstove.  She looks aweful! I try for weekly in the winter and monthly in the summer, but I don’t always meet that goal.  You might wonder why it even needs cleaning in the summer when it’s not in use.  The stovetop is a sheet of 1/4” steel and will rust if you so much as sneeze on it.  In the summer Continue reading

Off-Grid Laundry: Dirty Work Clothes

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I love the washboard – it’s a wonderful tool – but I found myself frustrated in trying to use it on David’s work pants and shirts.  When my mom told me about how Grandma used to spread Grandpa’s dirty overalls out on the cellar door and scrub them with a scrub brush I realized I wasn’t alone.  I took Grandma’s advice.  This is how I deal with dirty work duds.

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Venison Machaca

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Machaca is a traditional method of preserving meat originating in northern Mexico.  Herre on Big Turtle Creek we like to explore food preservation methods from other parts of the world where they have to deal with extreme summer heat.  In traditional machaca beef is salted and dried, then rehydrated, shredded and dried again.  It is served with scrambled eggs and cheese in a flour tortilla.  Modern machaca recipes call for the beef to be stewed and seasoned then shredded and served as a fresh product without the traditional steps that enable preservation without refrigeration.

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Canning Bacon


First, the disclaimer:  The USDA does not recommend canning bacon and has determined the practice to be unsafe.  Once again, nothing you see me do on this blog should in any way be construed as a recommendation that you do the same.  I make my own decisions.  You’ll have to make yours.

That said, here’s how I can bacon.

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Canning Milk


From the Off-Grid Food Preservation Stratagies post came this comment from Robin:

I would be interested in learning how you can milk.

Unfortunately, before we get to the good stuff I must present a couple of disclaimers.  1)  The USDA does not recognize canning milk at home as a safe practice.  2)  Being somewhat of a rebellious soul I make decisions on a daily basis that run counter to academic recommendations.  The fact that you might see me do something or omit something in no way is intended to imply that you should do the same.  Do your own research, trust your instincts as they develop and make your own decisions.

Now, I’m ready to can milk. Continue reading

A Low Power Usage Refrigerator For Off-Grid

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In the south refrigeration is probably the most challenging part of living off-grid on a budget.  It is certainly possible to live without it – our ancestors did and we have – but it makes handling our milk and cheese much more productive.  Our solar power system is very small, less than 300 watts, as is our budget so investing in more power and one of the refrigerators designed for off-grid use (the Sunfrosts or propane models) wasn’t an option.  After some research we have found a way to have Continue reading