Author Archives: Homesteader's Supply

Salt Pork

The piglets arrived in late June. They ate all our food scraps, lots of spent plants from the garden, grass and clover in their pasture, and some commercial pellets. During a harsh old spell when the overnight temps dropped close to 0* they enjoyed a can of cracked corn each and extra flakes of hay. Everything was late except the cold weather. I was concerned about Red and White staying warm, and that maybe there wouldn’t be enough fat for salt pork.

There was no need for concern. I made put up 36 pounds of salt pork today. It will sit at the bottom of the cellar stairs, hovering above freezing, for the next month. I’ll check it weekly to be sure it’s curing rather than spoiling.

salt pork

Uncured pork belly.

I wasn’t able to find the tons of information I expected on curing pork, specifically how to make salt pork, online. Turns out there’s not a lot to write about. It’s a simple process.

My pork belly was cut into slabs, vacuum packed and flash frozen by the butcher. I thawed the pork overnight in a cooler.

You’ll need a container for your pork. A crock is great. If you don’t have a crock you can use stainless steel, plastic or glass. Wash your container thoroughly.

Salt Pork Recipe

Cut 2.5 pounds of pork belly into slabs that are six to eight inches wide. Rinse each piece with cool water and dry well with paper towels.

For each 2.5 pounds, mix together:

10 oz Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup white sugar

That’s it. This is very basic. Coat each piece of pork belly and stack them close together in your containers.

 

I put a 1/4″ layer of salt and sugar on the bottom of the container before placing the first pieces. Add more salt and sugar blend to the pieces to make up for any you lose when moving the fat. More salt than necessary isn’t better. You don’t want your salt pork to be so salty it’s hard to use.

salt pork, how to make salt pork

My container of salt pork is sitting at the entry of the cold cellar (they lead in from outdoors so it stays cold), on the cold side that hasn’t been blocked to keep the cold out. I’ll check it every few days, and I plan to let it cure for at least a month. When it’s done I’ll wash the salt off, dry the salt pork well, and vacuum pack it before placing it in the freezer. My cellar won’t stay cold

One of the first recipes I’ll use the salt pork in is Boston Baked Beans. They’re a traditional Saturday meal around here. I’ll slice the salt pork and place it on top of the beans. The pork will help the beans stay moist and the meat will be delicious. I’m also going to dice pork to fry pan fried potatoes and saute mixed greens.

There’s always a little concern about using fat. Moderation! Use a little, only what you need. Use the same caution with salt pork that you use with butter and all other fats. This fat is all natural real food. Enjoy!

Homestead Planning – Water Supply

Water Supply

If you’re homesteading away from a public water supply you’re probably dependent on an electric water pump or people power. I was shocked the first time we didn’t have water after moving to the country. The idea of electricity and water being tied together had not entered my mind. It wasn’t like that back in the city. We had water no matter what when we lived in the city and  small towns. We could flush the toilet no matter what. We might have to suffer through cold water but we could wash up and wash our hair no matter what. It was so easy.

Let’s assume public water and a private well are not options or choices. Wells are a topic in itself. Drilled, pounded, hand dug, lined, blasting – it’s more than I know well enough to talk about intelligently. If you know the topic well enough to write about it we’d love to talk with you!

Our water pump depends upon electricity to work. Sixteen years ago I said we’d install a hand pump “soon” so that we’re never out of water, but it hasn’t been done yet. Our well cap is in the basement (not cellar) so freezing won’t ever be a problem. If we had a pump outdoors it would have to be frost free. Our high daytime temperature later this week (first week of January) is going to be below 0*F and our frost can easily reach four or even six feet deep. If you’re using a frost free pump, also called a hydrant, you’ll need to know how deep to lay the pipe and how to take care of it during especially cold spells.

5 gallon bucket, homestead, water supply

5 gallon bucket

If your water source is close you can carry water in five gallon buckets. Five gallons of water and the bucket weighs just under 45 pounds. You’ll get your exercise and build muscle at the same time. This is best done in a stream or river that will provide water pressure through a hose, or by using a generator. Dipping water can stir up silt, mud and other impurities from the bottom and edge that you don’t want in your water supply.

A small gas powered generator can be used to pump water from bodies of water. Be sure to check local and state ordinances. It isn’t always legal to pump water from ponds, streams, rivers or lakes. We pipe water from a stream into our camp. The pressure from the running water determines the water pressure inside. We use the generator to pump water into a 50 gallon black barrel on the roof to have solar heated hot water from spring through fall. The water gets very hot from late spring until the end of September and has to be mixed with cold for showers and dishes.

water supply, rain barrel, rain water collection, collecting rain water

Collecting rain water is a tried and true method used for years.

Rain water is a well known and popular method collecting water. It’s illegal in some areas so be sure you can do this before you put your barrels and buckets out. Rain barrels can be connected so that fresh water is collected in the barrel farthest from the spout used to drain water out.

CSGNetwork has a handy water usage calculator that will help you determine how much water you use in a day. You might be surprised and how big a water supply you’ll need, and how much more careful with your water supply you’ll want to be. According to the calculator I use about 70 gallons a day. Wow! That includes one five minute shower, four toilet flushes, five hand washes, hand washing dishes once a day, and a load of laundry a week. The United States Geological Survey estimates 80 to 100 gallons of water per person per day is used in the US. Water can be a lot of work.

water collection, natural spring, homesteading

Crystal clear water but it’s very shallow.

Natural springs might be an option for your water supply. This natural spring over flowed during torrential rain in early November. The tree took enough soil with its roots to make a small area where the water now collects. The water is crystal clear but hasn’t been tested. Be sure your water supply is safe. Deer, bear and smaller wild animals have been drinking here which also means they might be defecating here or very nearby.

Active, bubbling natural springs often stay open in winter. I have one about 200 yards from my back door that is open even when we have five feet of snow on the ground. It will supply water in a pinch but it would be a lot of work to get it to the house.

You probably have options when it comes to your water supply. It’s not something to take lightly when you’re planning your homestead.

Injury and Illness on the Homestead

Injury and Illness on the Homestead

You’re fine one moment and the next you find yourself in a heap at the bottom of the cellar stairs. There’s a stomach bug going around and try as you might, the only thing you can accomplish for the next five days is sleep and maybe a shower. One minute you’re stacking hay and the next the hay is stacked onto of you. Injury and illness on the homestead are a fact of life.  Injury and illness on the homestead

Injury and illness on the homestead are scary thoughts . We try to be careful, especially when we live in a remote area or away from people, but accidents happen. We don’t plan on accidents but we can plan ahead of time for how we’ll deal with the consequences of injury and illness.

First Aid

Injury and Illness on the Homestead

Keep at least a basic First Aid Kit

Do you have a first aid kit? Everyone should have a small first aid kit with bandages, tweezers, and antibacterial soap. Please do follow the first aid kit link. It has a long list of items for injuries as well as illness. Adjust your kit accordingly. Injury and illness on the homestead

Frozen Meals

Chicken soup freezes well, and who doesn’t want a bowl of chicken soup when you’re not up to par. Soup, stew, cooked meats and vegetables – they all freeze well and are easy to warm up. Keep these meals simple. Simple allows kids and other busy adults to prepare a meal and eat well. If you’re the healthy person in a house full of sick people you’ll be busy enough without having to cook from scratch. After a while we’re usually willing to make whatever someone is willing to eat as their appetite returns. Having several frozen meals as options is a blessing.

Remember tv dinners? You can make them yourself with leftovers. Pie plates work well. You can freeze the entire meal in a pie plate covered in foil. Pull the meal from the freezer, pop it into the hot oven and rest while the meal warms.

Make sure your meds are refilled before you’re down to your last few doses. If you don’t let yourself get below a week’s worth of meds you’ll likely feel well enough to get to the pharmacy before you run out. Otherwise, give the person who’ll take care of your refills a few days to get to the pharmacy. Injury and illness on the homestead

Keep important phone numbers in an obvious place. Back in the day we kept phone numbers written on a piece of paper and taped to the wall beside the phone. Few of us have a phone on the wall these days. And of course, everyone who is old enough to use a phone (by age four) should know how to dial 911 and know when and when not to call 911.

Keep your cell phone with you if you’re at home alone or working away from people. You don’t want to sit at the bottom of the stairs without help, be unable to call someone when you are seriously ill, or unable to dial 911 when you’ve had an accident. Homesteading tends to push modern conveniences like cell phones off to the side but don’t dismiss this important tool.

Social Media Options – Join Us!

Social Media Options

Hello?  Hello?  Anyone here? Can you hear the echo at Facebook? Oh my gosh, it is quiet there. It’s like walking into an empty room. If you stop in would you please give us a like, forward something (especially blog posts!) or somehow let us know we’re not alone? Facebook is allowing only 4% of our followers to see our posts. Social media should be social, right?

Pinterest is very friendly when it comes to social media. We had a big rush of followers in November and we’re still working to catch up on following back. A good storm and a pot of coffee or tea will give us plenty of time to browse everyone’s boards, pin and follow back. Our community board, Homesteading with Homesteader’s Supply, is growing nicely. Wouldn’t you like to join us? social media

social media, homesteading newsletter

Click on the logo to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter

Our newsletter is sent out every Wednesday. We share tips, recipes and other information you won’t find on our other social media outlets. The latest blogs are linked to in the right sidebar in case you missed them.

We announce new products in the newsletter, answer questions and during the holidays, we shared family traditions sent by subscribers. It’s more than just a few links to blogs. We have great information in our newsletter.

You’ll find us on Google+, though honestly, we aren’t active enough there. Now that winter is here we’ll spend more time developing our circles.

We love Twitter! We’re always looking for new homesteaders, preppers and other like-minded people to follow on Twitter.

And of course, we blog! Homesteader’s Supply Blog. We’re working on a series on homestead planning. If you’re planning to homestead or already homesteading and looking for more information you should be able to find useful information in the series. We share recipes, tips, details on new items, homestead happenings and more. We participate in [NeighborWoods] with other homesteaders on Tuesdays. Would you like to guest blog or reblog? Get in touch! And please leave a link to your blog in our comments. We want to visit your blog, comment and build community.

[NeighborWoods] Old Man’s Beard

[NeighborWoods] Old Man’s Beard

[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Old Man’s Beard (a lichen) grows on a lot of the old and dying trees in our woodlotol. Whitetail deer eat it in winter and birds use it as nesting material.

lichen, old man's beard, neighborwoods

Homestead Planning – Will you want a garden?

Homestead Planning – Will you want a garden?

Gardening seems like a given on a homestead, but it isn’t. Not everyone likes to garden, or knows how to garden. None of us were born with everything we need to know about growing food. Don’t let that stop you!

If you’re starting from scratch I suggest you call your county’s Cooperative Extension and ask to speak to a Master Gardener. The local garden club and neighbors are also helpful. In the meantime, here are some things to think about when you’re considering a garden.

First things first. Be sure you are allowed to have a garden. As silly as that sounds, some home owners associations and subdivisions don’t allow vegetable gardening. Or, they might limit the garden to the back yard behind a fence. It’s considerate to ask a neighbor about their preferences to how close you garden to the shared property line. It’s possible that your town has a zoning law regarding how close you are allowed to be to the property line and sidewalk.

butternut squash, planning a garden, garden planning, gardening, homesteading

Butternut Squash

Is there room for a garden? You might be surprised at how little space it takes to grow a respectful amount of food. One tomato plant in a five gallon bucket may produce upwards of 20 pounds of tomatoes. That’s about $60 worth of tomatoes in exchange for a few dollars in the plant and soil. You can reuse the bucket from year to year. From container gardens to lining the sidewalk with vegetables to a full acre out back, you have options.

Are there large trees or buildings casting shade on the spot you’d have to use for a garden? The trees can probably be felled but moving a building probably won’t happen. You can use some shade to your advantage but there’s only so much you can do.

Is the garden spot convenient? We like to think we’ll be so excited about the garden that we’ll be there with bells on no matter where it is but let’s be honest – that’s not usually true. When it’s inconvenient we probably won’t make the time to walk the extra distance (let’s say a few hundred yards) to pull weeds for ten minutes. I don’t want to walk a few hundred yards for a cucumber.

How about water? Is it available? And convenient? You can run a hose just about anywhere if you have an outside faucet. The hose has to be moved out of the way to mow the lawn. It’s really not a big deal until it’s 90 degrees and you’ve had a long day.

Will you need to fence in the garden to keep out the pests? Deer and other large animals can do a lot of damage in a few minutes. Groundhogs and rabbits dig under fencing, deer jump over, squirrels squeeze through. If you’re going to need fencing I suggest having it ready to go sooner than later. You don’t want to lose your hard work to marauding bunnies over night.

Don’t be discouraged. Plan for the problem so it doesn’t become a problem! The taste of a warm, juicy, really ripe tomato from your garden makes it all worth it.