Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Homesteading Mishaps

The reality is I will never be going off the grid by choice.  As much as I love the word homesteading and try my hardest to act like a homesteader, I'm simply not one.

I do love gardening in a soft cotton dress.  I love the taste of pure maple syrup.  I love, love, love canning vegetables, jams, and juices.  I love the flavor of fresh eggs in hues of brown, blue, and green.  I love butchering*, grinding, and wrapping fresh venison in the fall.  I love baking bread in a pan found in my grandparents' basement.  I love blackberry picking along our woods trails.  And I love a well-worn apron.

*For the record, Warren and the kids do the butchering.

Homesteading and getting it right is hard work.  Years ago my canning goal was to put up 52 quarts of whatever I was making.  One quart a week of tomato juice, salsa, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, green beans, cranberry sauce, pickles.  As our family grew and appetites increased, so did the number of outside activities, loads of laundry, and time spent cooking.  I really should be putting up double, but finding time for a garden that size is hard.  And some days I'm just not up to the challenge.

A number of us were feeling under the weather this week and a pot of Hug and Kiss Soup is the perfect remedy.  Sadly, though, those two empty jars were the last of my supply of tomato juice.  We still have plenty of soup and chili days ahead of us here in Wisconsin and leave it to me to run out of tomato juice - the starter for both.  #homesteadinghardships #notselfreliantenough

And this beautiful picture has a very sad ending.  Sunday was finally the day to cook down the sap.  At the beginning of the season my goal was to make 2 quarts.  Not much, but about 7 times as much as Sam and I made last year.  Sam and I had the sap boiling away and came in to make supper.  We took turns checking on it every 20-30 minutes.  I checked on it.  It's getting close when it really starts smelling like maple syrup, which it did.  I ran in the house for something, decided to put away the leftover brats so I could take the boiling liquid outside to dump.  That's when I saw it - the fireball inside the kettle.  Before charring the syrup, it looked like we were going to have about 12-14 oz.  Last year our entire production amounted to only 6 oz.  Back to square one, but now the weather isn't conducive for a good sap run.

On a positive note, Nick filled the freezer for our Lenten fish fries.  Add to it the Northern Pike caught up North this winter and we're set for seven weeks of fish.  #homesteadingforLent

Share your best homesteading tips.  I need all the help I can get.

Hold your hat on, it's a blustery day out there.