Ever want to visit us, in Wisconsin, and see the yarden? Now you can!!!
We are doing a tour on Sat., August 10th, from 11:00 am to 1 pm. (If you need directions contact us through our website contact form.) We're planning to have a potluck afterwards. (We will have hot dogs and hamburgers. The grill will be open to anyone who wants to grill with Bear. Do you want to grill some plants? We can do that! ) Bring chairs and a dish if you want to hang out by the bonfire and eat after the tour....
For the outside... We will be discussing permaculture, gardening for wildlife, catios, etc...
Inside... cooking methods, being debt free (and our buy nothing challenge), wood stove cooking and more...
If it rains, we will probably cancel or postpone.
Hope to see you!
Bear & Theresa...
Bear celebrated in a more traditional guy way- sleeping with the cats in our catio:
Soon we will go inside for a while to make our amazing World's Best Honey Vanilla Ice Cream:
If you feel like a few laughs, you can watch the video of Bear making ice cream
we did a couple years ago.
Here's our Solstice flame (a little bit of the Sun), our abundance charm (with a citrine geode on the left), and our hope for how we can live the rest of our Summer (and our lives):
Do what you love,
We started small with a couple of hanging bird feeders and a ground feeder. The ground feeder was small and needed cleaning after it rained, so was no fun to take care of. We replaced it with stumps, which are pretty self cleaning in a hard rain and created a lot of room for more birds.
Theresa also put small tree limbs out the top of the post so there were more safe landing areas. As you can see, some birds had to wait in line to get to the food.
We feed the birds fine sunflower seeds with the shells removed. It's expensive, but there's less waste and less mess. The birds don't throw out the less attractive seeds to get to the ones they like.
To attract woodpeckers we added suet. Theresa heard that Baltimore orioles like grape jelly, so we added bowl for that. And yes, Theresa buys jelly without high fructose corn syrup for the birds.
You also need water for the birds. Theresa went out every other day to fill a small birdbath so the birds could drink and sometimes take baths. That changed in 2012...
Yep, in the winter. We feed the birds all year round. In Winter, on really cold or snowy days we use twice as much food, the birds need it. We also have a heater for the pond. It keeps an area open so the birds can drink.
We use the Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide to identify the different types of birds.
Here are photos of some of the 30+ types of birds that have visited the bird feeders in our yarden...
It's a little stressful for the bird community when a hawk moves in. I thought he was a lousy hunter so I called him Mr. MaGoo. Then I realized he was still alive after stopping in our yard for over a month, so he had to be good enough to survive. He is now known as McGee.
We leave a large brush pile in (aka the birdie condo) in the back yard to provide shelter for birds close to the food.
W even get mourning doves. Here are two babies waiting on the path for their parents.
On some days the birds like to take baths in the pond.
Type at ya later...
Ever get tired of the websites where everything is perfect the first time? I call bull crap!
Want to hear some secrets? Not everything works out the way people planned it. Some ideas that sound good really are bad ideas, and sometimes the good ideas need tweaking (repair work) a few years later. People learn from mistakes (usually). Here at Our Tiny Homestead we are not afraid to talk about our mistakes. It's one way we learn and sometimes laugh. Here is an example...
- Thick blankets didn't work, I'm too heavy and still felt the separate bales under me.
- Straw stays wet a long time after it rains. A lot of the time I would need plastic under the blanket if I wanted to be dry when I got up.
- Mushrooms tend to grow in straw bales, and not the good, edible ones. The shrooms left black marks on the blankets and if the cats ate the shrooms they could get sick or die.
- The bales became mushy over the summer. They didn't sink, they were crushed. The couch was lower and harder to get up from.
- The word ICKY comes to mind when I had to move the large glops of straw with mold and critter droppings inside. The middle of the bales never really dried that summer.
Type at ya later...
Just another reminder why "weeds" are your friends. We wanted salad without going to the store, so we went to our yarden instead. We found Turkish rocket, chickweed, and lambs quarter... and...
Wha-la... Weeds Salad...
- People spray weed killer to get rid of chickweed and lambs quarters. We let them grow. Theresa has a stock tank in our garden just for growing lambs quarters because she loves it in soups and salads.
- Chickweed has lots of vitamins.
- 2/3 of this salad was provided for us by Mother Nature .
- With homemade vinaigrette dressing this Yarden salad brightens up any breakfast (see below)...
Except I almost forgot- our shameless plug- there are more chickweed (and other "weed") recipes in our book:
Eat Your Wild Yard.
Type at ya later...
Ever been surprised by a power outage and thought " Oh CRAP... now what do we do?" We had that experience today. We were also ready for it. We couldn't go on line to see our prepare for power outage page but we did have a list of what to do when the power goes out. Luckily the power was out for only 2 hours. Being prepared made those 2 hours a lot less stressful. Today is a windy day and the power could get knocked out again. It can look ugly out there (see below), and panic may set in. You don't have to panic if you are prepared. Here are a few basics.
- A full freezer will stay frozen for about 48 hours if unopened. A refrigerator will stay cold for 4 to 6 hours. Old school iceboxes were kept cold with large blocks of ice. Get 2 to 4 gallon milk jugs or 2 medium buckets and fill them with water and set outside to freeze. When frozen put 1/2 in refrigerator and swap every 8 to 10 hours.
- If something needs chilled but not frozen after opening put some snow in a large pan or cooler and cover to keep chilled.
- keep nonelectric entertainment around. (books, puzzles, games, ect. ) Makes time go faster.
- Plan a menu for a week that doesn't need electricity and always keep those items in pantry. Remember to keep supplies for your pets.
- Learn to cook with your wood burning stove.
- Have some no electricity weekends for fun and practice for emergencies, take notes on what would make them better.
Hope is helps,
Type at ya later...
Tis the season to use the wood burning stove and try something new with it. Chili is also a good winter treat. Here is how I make my chili taste like it was done over a camp fire.
If you're cooking from scratch, soak 1 cup red beans & 1 cup black beans overnight. We like grains in our chili so I also soaked 1 cup of barley overnight with 2 Tblsp of cider vinegar in the water. Get a 3-5 lb chuck roast. Use whatever spices you want to season the chili. (It could be as simple as chili powder and onions.) I added salsa instead of tomatoes.
When done put the meat back in the pan and get all the coals & ash off of it. Trust me, you want ALL the coals gone (below left). Then cut the meat into bite sized chunks (below right). It will smell like you are cutting a grilled steak. You'll want to sample like me, just don't eat too much. (I stopped at about 1/3 of a slab- no willpower here.)
Type at ya later...
For our annual Winter Solstice celebration, we try to connect with Winter's darkness. On this longest night of the year, we don't turn on any lights once the sun sets (around 4 pm). We spend our evening in front of the wood stove, try to keep the Yule log burning all night, and then greet the Sun when it rises the next morning (around 7 am). This ritual of not using electrical lights lets us truly experience the dark, which is a rare occurrence in most of the USA, where we suffer from light pollution. I love our Solstice celebration, and always wish it could continue for more than one night. This year, thanks to an extended sick leave, I get to have my wish.
Using candles or fire light, instead of electricity, is one way you could try to connect with the darkness of Winter.
If you try to live connected to the seasons, then the darkness of Winter is a time for rest that promotes rejuvenation. It is a time to slow down and dream, to feed your soul with ideas that will help you choose what projects to work on come Spring. Accordingly, I've been reading random books and blogs that I don't usually have time for. This morning I picked up Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice. It's about eating seasonally and locally, using traditional cooking methods, in connection with the 13 lunar cycles. Turning to the current lunar month, I discovered she called it the Moon of Long Nights. She discusses how before the advent of electricity, we would normally have a Winter season of long nights with lots of extra sleep. She discusses other authors who believe that using electricity to stay up after the sun goes down keeps our bodies in a state of perpetual Summer, and traces this to our cravings for sugar and carbohydrates, which normally we would only have access to in the Summer. In the Winter, we would have been eating mostly protein. I like this quote:
Our biology says, "Curl up in the back of the cave and gnaw on a buffalo bone, then sleep for fourteen hours," while our society says, "Run around shopping in brightly lit stores and then stay out late at a [holiday] party drinking champagne, eating truffles, and being sociable with your coworkers."
...by depriving ourselves of long nights of winter sleep, we are depriving ourselves of a state of meditative healing and spiritual communion, a time when we have access to messages from a higher consciousness.
This was not the first I've heard of this. I've read other accounts of spiritual pursuits in some cultures that occur in the middle of the night, but it did remind me that I've always wanted to test the theory in my own life. I often wake up around 2 or 3 am, which I've read is common, and perhaps genetically encoded. It wouldn't be a problem if I had time to go back to sleep, but since I usually have to get up at 4 am to get to work, this middle of the night wakefulness has thus far only resulted in sleep deprivation for me.
Thanks to Bear's willingness to agree to this experiment, I'm looking forward to connecting with the season, which thankfully will mean getting more sleep and perhaps finding another way to connect with the Divine. If we were starting today, it would be time to go to bed now. Instead, Bear is still out shopping for birthday treats and we haven't had dinner yet.
I wonder what we will learn, or come to realize, or begin to remember from deep in our bones, when we sleep during the long, dark hours and remain active only during the light. In what ways will our body and spirits heal?
Eat Your Wild Yard: Spring
Nettle, Chickweed, Fiddleheads, Ramps, Violet Leaves. (BEAR SAYS they taste like plant, but in a good way.)
We have been posting for years about our yarden and now you can get us in PRINT! (And hug the book sometimes like Theresa does.) Each chapter includes an introduction to the plant, full color photos to help with identification, instructions on growing & harvesting, and easy to follow recipes with a photo for every step.
Click here for all the details!
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Theresa & Bear's Blog
Theresa will be posting notifications of the new pages we add to the website and Bear likes to share inspirational posts about our homesteading experiences.
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Cook Of Anarchy