Wood Cook Stove Construction…

Isn’t the wood inside this wall pretty.

We hated to cover it up, but the show must go on.

Insulation board

Bearded Randy applying the thinset between layers.

Randy mixing the thinset in the house before he realized it was coating our entire house with a layer of grey dust.

Concrete board…not-so-fun to haul around.

Our instructor…Craig, my brother, showing us the ropes.

It is amazing what an awesome teacher he is.  He is so patient.

Me in my smoking hot construction gear.  I was a tiling machine…jogging suit and slippers.  Cute, right?

Randy looks dressed a little more appropriate for the assignment.

Wouldn’t be our house if there wasn’t a dog helping…inparticular a cute little blue heeler.

I apparently sprung for the velor black pants, a sweatshirt, and slippers for day 2 of tiling.

At least I’m not in the same clothes as the day before, eh hem.

These decorative tile will hopefully fall right above the top shelf of the stove.

The tile is up and ready for grout.  Craig was so good to come do the grout for us.  We were left in charge of wiping it down a thousand times until all the grout was off the tile.

Fortunately, we live in a little country neighborhood with the most helpful people you will ever find.  One friend drove out from town with a friend of his and our neighbor came over early-ish on a Sunday morning.  We thought with the moving straps this would be enough guys, but fortunately our two other neighbors saw the struggle, stopped, and offered to help.

Five guys were able to manuver this beauty into our house and onto the tile after being stored away for over six months in our garage.

We still have to get the chimney installed and eventually we hope to hook it to our hot water system for hot water in the winter, but for now we are just excited to finally have it inside.

Some think it is cool.  Some think it is the most ridiculous thing they have ever heard.  We just tell them we want to be less dependent.  Sometimes it gets their wheels turning.  Sometimes they have their minds made up that it is absurd.  Either way, we are excited and undeterred.


Wood Cook Stove Destruction…

 Way back in December began a huge undertaking for Randy.  We decided against all the naysayers we wanted to install a wood cookstove.  So after months of research we finally found the perfect stove for our needs….and the demolition began.

This was our cute little entry way before.

cutting out the floor

Next came the wall with its pretty hidden wallpaper.

and surprise….lath and plaster.

Apparently this is lots of fun to tear out.

Am I a lucky girl or what…he cleaned up after himself as he went, so I came home from work to a clean construction area.  He did such a good job and got it all ripped out and ready to reconstruct in one day.  He’s awesome!

Around the Homestead, Self-Sufficiency

Trenching for our new well…

We have been battling the need for a new well for a couple of years now.  We had it airlifted two years ago which bought us some time, but in the end we knew we were going to have to bite the bullet and put in an all new well.

Randy hand dug a good portion of the trenches to locate electrical, water, and sewer lines.

For a week solid he spent his evenings digging.

And digging.

Of course while he was digging I was doing our chores and cooking dinner.  Didn’t want you all to think I was parked inside catching up on Dancing with the Stars or something.

Then it was time to pull out the big guns, and we rented a trencher.

Then came guidance, eh hem.

This is what our yard looked like after the trencher had done its thing.  Sort of reminds you of Money Pit, huh?

**And honestly one month later our yard still looks a lot like this…I digress.

This little run in the bottom left corner is where we pulled up the landscape timbers that were lining our driveway.  They had seen better days and had to go.

We did have a chicken and Ruby fall into the trenches.


Once all the lines were laid, Dad came in with the tractor to cover the majority of the trenches.

There were still some areas he couldn’t get to which we had to fill in by hand, but the tractor helped tremendously.

Now we have high pressure water and two new hydrants in addition to the two we already had.  It is so nice to water from a hydrant or a hose and not have to carry 5-gallon buckets here, there, and everywhere.

 It does make me think about how readily we can have access to water where so many around the world have none and have to walk mile and miles to access only what they can carry back with them.  Even with the ease in which we can access water, we still try to be cautious of its use and not take advantage of it.  We also pray for those who struggle everyday to find good, clean water for themselves and their families.  Without clean water life cannot carry on so we must take care of this resource we are so blessed to have at our fingertips.



Morel Hunting…

And since we can’t do anything without some sort of animal tagging along.

Isn’t he a good lookin’ dude though.

Dusty followed us through the trees like a dog.  He was fairly well behaved right up until we got about 100 yards from our pickup at the end of our hunt.  Then he literally went berserk charging us and chasing us.  We honestly think he didn’t want us to leave.  He had just been put in that far away pasture by himself a few weeks earlier.  We joke he had gone feral down there all by himself.

An unidentified plant.

It was beautiful once we got under all the trees.

My pictures really don’t do it justice.

There was a thick layer of fallen leaves covering every inch of the ground.

We didn’t find a single mushroom.  Apparently we had given up just short of their breeding ground.  Maybe next year!

In The Kitchen, Preserving the Harvest

Pickled Garlic…

I used the recipe out of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon to preserve some garlic cloves I bought in bulk.

Pickled Garlic

about 12 heads of garlic

2 t dried oregano (preferably organic)

2 t sea salt

2 T liquid from previous ferment (can use 2 t of additional sea salt if you don’t have a previous ferment)

1)  Place garlic heads in the oven at 300 degrees until heads open and cloves can be easily removed.

2)  Place cloves in a wide-mouthed quart jar.

3)  Add oregano, sea salt, starter liquid or additional salt and cover with filtered water leaving at least 1 inch headspace below the top of the jar.

4)  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before placing in refrigerator.

Try to find a warm, undisturbed place to set this. 

Now I can grab a couple cloves, crush ’em, and toss ’em into whatever dish I am preparing.

Food, Self-Sufficiency

Egg season…

With 12 Rhode Islands, 25 Buffs, and 14 Banties we have plenty of eggs on our farm.

The eggs are beautiful and so much more nutritious than the “eggs” you get at the grocery store.  Not to mention the quality of life our chickens have compared to the life of a factory laying hen.  Find a source for farm-raised, free-range eggs.  You will be amazed how easy it is to locate eggs near you and how wonderful they taste.

Around the Homestead, Foraging, Nutrition

Foraging and Scottish Highland Cattle…

The past few weekends I have been doing a little foraging around our homestead.  I spent the morning weeding our wildflower area and decided the dandelion greens would be a nice addition to a salad.  So I ran inside to grab my basket and collect a few.

I have read a lot about the benefits of dandelions in Dandelion Medicine by Briggite Mars and online. 

“Dandelion root ( Taraxacum officinale ) stimulates bile production, thus improving liver function, which when sluggish, can contribute to fatigue. Dandelion root improves digestion and increases vitality.” 

All of us could probably benefit from a little liver cleansing these days.  Toxins in the air, soil, and everywhere else cause a burden on our system trying to eliminate these toxins from our body.

I also got to crawl around in these thorny things.  These are sandplum bushes and they grow wild in Kansas.  Everywhere you look (that the township can’t get to and spray) there are sandplums growing.

The plums themselves are tart and not great for eating right off the bush, but they make the best jelly and wine.

So I soaked them, washed them, and bagged them up in 2 1/2 gallon freezer bags and tossed them in deep freeze.  When fall rolls around and our house in nice and cool I will fire up the stove and get to making jelly and wine.  Right now it’s just too hot to mess with them.

I had lots of help when I was out in mom and dad’s pasture picking sandplums.

First there was just one curious bystander.

Then a couple more.

Then a little closer.

And a little closer.

Then it was just time to hang out, stare at me, and make me a little nervous.

The little guy wasn’t too sure it was safe.

But finally started creeping out from behind his mama.

Finally I had enough cow time.  They were really close to me.  Sniffing me.  Watching me.  And breathing down my neck.  I decided to pack it in and loaded up the four-wheeler to head back to the house.

See that little shaded area under the sandplum bushes??  That’s where I WAS standing.  They didn’t waste anytime taking over my spot once I was outta there. 

They really are the best little cows.  The Scottish Highlands are tame and gentle, but were just too curious for me that day.

Green Living, Self-Sufficiency

Solar Oven Cooking…

It has warmed up outside and since we haven’t turned on the a/c yet it’s really important for me to choose my cooking styles wisely.  We have a propane stove so have the cooktop can put out a lot of heat and turn a cool home into a uncomfortably warm home in just a few minutes. 

I did a little experimenting over the weekend cooking with my solar oven.  I love the thing!  I did have to buy the refector separately.  If I had it to do all over again I would probably buy something more heavy duty, now that I know I will use it regularly. 

I baked a banana bread.

It turned out fabulous.

I also tried cooking up my rice for tacos in the solar oven.  The book had two different instructions for cooking rice, but since I soak my rice before cooking I winged it and made up my own instructions.


Here is my brown rice in one of the black pans that came with my solar oven.

Next I added homemade kefir and a small amount of water and allowed it to soak about 6 hours.

After the rice soaked I added tomato juice for the remaining water needed.  The label says “sauce,” but it really is homegrown, home-canned tomato juice.  Trust me!

I stuck it in the oven for 3-4 hours and it turned out great.  So great I forgot to take a picture of the finished product so you will just have to take my word for it.  We ate the rice along with our tacos made from local beef.  It was delish!!

I have yet to cook meat in it, but feel fairly confident now to give it a try.  I would like to try a roast or a whole chicken at some point before summer’s end.

Enjoy the heat!

Around the Homestead, Self-Sufficiency

Randy’s Birthday….

Today is Randy’s birthday.  For his birthday he wanted to go fishing.  We had dentist appointments on Monday and took the rest of the day to fish with a friend of his.

Randy with his catfish.

Dan with his catfish.

And me with my catfish.

We were all successful and ended the day with 5 to take home and clean.  We caught lots of sunfish, bullhead, and catfish.  It was a fun day with lots of fish being reeled in. 

Inspirational, Self-Sufficiency

Life’s Journey…

I read an interview the other day from Jim Sturgess.  He made a comment about the fact that he is the type of guy who can go to a theater, watch a movie, and leave thinking “I could do that.  I could live like that.”  That is me!  I can so relate. 

If I posted every idea I came up with, every talent I hope to master, or every hobby I wanted to take up it would be a revolving door of ideas.  However, if given a little time I could probably know at least enough about each endeavor to be dangerous.  I love to learn, and I love to read.  I’m convinced I can teach myself enough to get me started into almost anything.

This earned me the title of “flaky” by my husband.  I change ideas, hopes, and dreams continuously and increasingly drive him nuts with my new ideas.  When I start a phrase with, “I was reading today about….” He starts to get nervous about what’s coming next.

I read an article about someone moving to the Alaskan wilderness…I could do that.  I read an article about someone who lives entirely on traditional foods…I could do that.  Someone how homesteads and is self-sufficient….I could do that.  I read about someone who lives in a camper and is a real life “gypsy”…I could so do that!

So this is what my very patient and very open-minded husband gets to hear over dinner.  All the while I’m just waiting to strike a chord with him and have him say, “I could do that too.”  Although I have never really gotten the enthusiasm I’ve been hoping for out of him, he has agreed with some of my ideas and goals for us together.  I take what I can get, compromise on some of it, and throw the rest in a drawer to surface again at a later date.

I think being an avid reader is a huge contributor to this.  I don’t really read novels, I sort of feel like it is a waste of time.  I like to read books I can learn from.  I like non-fiction!  I like anything on living off the land, spirituality, natural health, traditional nutrition, lost skills (candle making, soap making, open-fire cooking, etc.).  I have time to read because I can read on my breaks at work and over my lunch breaks.  I don’t, however, have time to do most of things I read about.  I figure if I read and educate myself now, eventually I will have the time to actually do them and be all studied up on it.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get to move to the Alaskan wilderness, eat an entirely traditional/primitive diet, have a self-sufficient homestead, or live in a camper and travel the country.  I do know it is fun to dream, imagine, and think about all the things we could do in our lifetime.  If that makes me “flaky” then so be it.  I’ve been called worse I suppose.  I just hope life doesn’t pass me by, and when I’m old and gray I can look back at my life and know I lived it to the fullest.

Two quotes I came across this week:

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”

~Martha Washington (1732-1802)

“Borrow from cultures old and new and with our imaginations blend those borrowings to create new ways to live that are simpler, gentler, more generous, and beautiful.”

~William Coperthwaite, A Handmade Life:  In Search of Simplicity

Have a great day!