Tuesday, July 12, 2011

more plantin places-from junk

Measa was putzing about today because its too hot and humid to do much else and made a few new planting places from sections of old corrugated culvert pipe that we had laying around. He just dug the area out, slipped the section of pipe in, then filled back up around them, and added soil. They will be nice for herbs or other plants that we do not want to spread all over or as veggie planters.We had to replace our old mail box a couple weeks ago and of course we all thought about making the old one into a planter. Today it was sunk into the ground, no holes needed to be made since it was holey already then filled with soil. One of these days I will take some spray paint down and give it some color so it doesn't look quite so junky.

Monday, July 11, 2011

canning over wood

For those that do not know, we are for the most part fossil fuel free on the homestead. The only fuel we use is for the weed eater, chain saw and coffee in the mornings because I am simply too lazy to go and make a fire at 5 am. This also means that all of our canning is done over wood and on days that we have to use the pressure canner it makes for some very long days. Yesterday it made for 13 hours of feeding fire and transferring jars into and out of the canner. It also made for someone having to collect the wood to cook over for all of that time.
I did not start the day out with plans of canning until near 11 pm but when I checked the curing potatoes I came to the conclusion that there was no way that they could be stored until eating and if we wanted any taters at all through the winter, I had no other choice. We will have to buy some local grown potatoes for fresh usage this year as this truly was the worst potato harvest EVER! So, we began chopping, slicing, and dicing and got a grand total of 27 quarts ready to go in the canner and then had the long wait to get them all finished. We will be getting a larger canner one day, this 5 quarts at a time business is just too slow for my liking.

Since we had the fire under the stove top going and had breaks when the canner was depressurizing, I also made rolls, tortillas, chocolate zucchini cake, lentil taco filling, cinnamon rolls, and blackberry jam which I boiled all over the stove top, made a big giant smelly mess and lost half the jam. I must say I am glad that it was outside as I could just let it burn off and self clean rather than having to dismantle a stove in the shack. I should have also slow roasted a roast but since I had not planned on canning all day long it was still frozen solid. Some of the things I slow cooked in the oven part of the stove even though there was no fire under it. I would have made many more items and fired up the oven to a proper temperature had I not had to finish up a paper for school and do an assignment that I had put off all week.
Canning over wood is not difficult and is not any more time consuming than canning over a flame on a normal stove. Regulating the temperatures does take a little bit of getting used to and it does require that a good stash of wood be at the ready. If I had another functioning canner I could have easily double or tripled the amount being canned at once and made the day much shorter. Water bath canning is much easier as I use a big wash tub and can put over 20 quarts in at a time. Thankfully most of what will be left for canning can be done using the water bath method rather than the pressure canner.