Are You Eating Ethically?

In these days of vegan diets for ethical reasons we need to also look at the impact of eating ancient grains such as quinoa on the indigenous cultures that have traditionally grown them.

It is all well and good that people are choosing their diets for ethical reasons. That is one of the very reasons that I want to raise and grow my own food for my family. We are definitely not vegans here but there are still things that we look at to make our process more sustainable and healthy for the animals and plants that we raise. Here is where we differ from those who have to purchase their foods rather than grow them, do you really know where your food is coming from?

Most quinoa is grown in South America, specifically a little country called Bolivia that many people don’t even know where it is on a map. The amount of quinoa that is consumed in this country has dropped.  As export of this wholesome ancient grain increases the indigenous people’s consumption decreases. They can no longer afford to buy what is a staple food source. 

Then we run into the industrialization of this food product. There is now destruction of land to produce more quinoa. Haven’t those of us on the sustainable train been fighting against monocropping for years now? The destruction of the land costs biodiversity and healthy soil. Monocropping is destroying the genetic diversity of this ancient food source of the Bolivian people. It is affecting the very lives of the indigenous people.

As so often happens, western (caucasian/European) culture is appropriating someone else’s culture without thought to the long term effects. This is just one example of how you choose to eat affects other cultures. This is just one crop of many that are becoming globalized, mechanized, and industrialized. This is just one example of how corporate greed and brainwashing turns people with good intentions into the colonizers. 

The next time you go to buy that bag of ancient grains check out the company selling it to you. Are they using sustainable practices? Are their farmers getting their fair share of the profits? Are the farmers able to put their own native crop on the table to feed their family?

Water Bath Canning vs Pressure Canning

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There really is no debate on which you should choose. There are somethings are safe to water bath can but everything can be pressure canned. Why can’t I water bath can low acid foods? My grandma only ever water bath canned. I have heard pressure canners can explode. Tons of reasons to avoid pressure canning. But one big one to use it. BOTULISM!! A silent, odorless killer. Other things can happen as well but this is the big one.

What is botulism?

Picture courtesy of the CDC.

Botulism is a bacteria that can kill you. If nothing else it will make you feel sick enough you want to die.

It is a rare, potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin. The toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The disease begins with weakness, blurred vision, feeling tired, and trouble speaking.

It is a nasty illness that we can avoid by properly preserving our food bounty.

 

What can I water bath can?

Things that are considered high acid foods. Tomatoes are a big one, unless of you are growing low acid tomatoes, those varieties are a story for another time. Jams and jellies, pickled anything. Fruit preserves and most anything that you add lemon juice, vinegar, or are fermented.

Some fruits are considered naturally high in acid:

 

  • apples
  • berries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • peaches
  • pears
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

What should I pressure can?

Anything that is not on the above list. Those things can also be pressure canned. There are no safe ways to can fresh squash, including pumpkins. Those need to be prepared how you want them and then pressure canned. Or simply frozen.

Other items, not produce related, that you should pressure can are meats, soups, and broths. Your other option is to freeze them. All of this will prevent you, your family, friends, and customers from being poisoned.

Did You Know?

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Did you know that you can start your garden even if you are on food stamps?

Yes, any seeds or plants that are edible can be purchased with your EBT card. You can use containers and such you have to start your seeds. Compost and newsprint to start your no-till garden.

What seeds to buy to start

Some things are easier to grow from seeds than others. For the beginner I recommend peas, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, squash and melons from seed. They will grow in anything. And are great for direct sowing.

I recommend bush varieties so that they are easier to care for and take up less space. A few well tended plants will provide enough for your family.

Herbs that grow well from seed are basil, parsley, dill, and coriander. If you are feeling adventurous you can pot a few peppercorns to grow indoors. This is one of my experiments this year. We will see how it goes. My family just loves fresh ground pepper.

What plants to buy

Tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, and cabbages all do best for beginners if purchased as started plants. They will give you a bit of a headstart on your summer garden.

Many grocers offer a limited selection of plants. Go with what you can find. It is money well spent since vegetables are so expensive in the grocery store and there have been so many recalls recently. Another option is to use some vegetables that are in the store already.

Many times you can save the roots from bunching onions, celery, lettuce, tops of pineapples, etc. Place them in water to get the roots started again and you can then place them in pots.

Starting plants from seed

If you cannot find started plants then you will need to start from seeds. I have been lucky enough to have a small greenhouse. If this is not in your budget you can either purchase the seed starting kits or make your own.

The key is to find a sunny spot that you can leave the seeds in to grow. You also need to make sure that the growing medium stays moist. Too much water and mold will grow. Too little water and the seeds will dry out and no longer be viable. I love the self watering cells that come with starter pellets. They make it very easy and do come in window sill sizes as well.

A quick note on soil

Plants need healthy well drained soil to grow. A quick easy way to do this is to use newspaper and/or cardboard and compost. I like to layer with cardboard in the fall to kill weeds. I lay the cardboard down and cover with compost.

Spring I will use newspaper and compost. I can plant directly and weeds will be controlled at the same time. I do like to add straw over top when possible to help maintain moisture.

One tool that I have found invaluable when I am doing a no-till garden is a cultivator. It will help keep the soil loose and aerated throughout the growing season. It is a pricey investment but has saved my back, knees and hands in countless situations.

 

Switching to Infused Oils

I have been doing research on essential oils vs infused oils a lot lately. I have come across several websites, one in particular that has inspired me, that explain the difference. There is also the cost involved in obtaining either one. I primarily use them when I am making homemade soaps, lotions, and other similar products. I have used some in medicinal products I have made for my family.

Why am I switching over?

There is not enough information on the long term use of essential oils. They are highly concentrated oils extracted by distillation. It is always recommended to dilute them for topical use and not to take them internally. They are often preferred because of their concentrated aroma. I have noticed that the soaps and lotions that I market do better if they have a strong scent. However, I am willing to forgo the strong scents for a gentle scent and a safer product.

There is also the issue of sustainability. It takes so much more  plant matter to create essential oils that over harvesting of plants takes place. Wildwood Apothecary has an excellent article regarding why she is EO free and what it takes to make EO. There are plenty of other articles around the net as well that explain this very well, such as the one over at Evolutionary Herbalism.

So what is going to happen?

Well it means that I need to grow more of my own herbs and flowers and other useful plants. Such as chore, you know. Then I will start producing more of my own infused oils. The cold process takes 4 to 6 weeks to produce. For a faster result and a little more aroma I will also be doing a hot process which only takes about an hour but has the same shelf life.

As for the investment in EO, I cannot stand waste. I will continue to use these oils in things until the run out. They will be replaced with the items that I make. I am hoping to eventually offer my own line of Enchanted Infused Oils on my etsy shop.

Light, Love and Peace

Tammy ~SSM~

Finding Resources in Your Own Backyard

It has been a massive search for things to use for building materials. I was considering pallets but as right now I have no way to transport them without paying someone. Remember I like free and cheap. I can’t afford to put out money and run to Home Depot, Lowe’s, or any other type of store.

So what to do to get stuff done has become the question. Well here are some ideas I have come up with, inspired by my new friends over at Accidental Hippies.

Where to get wood?

It is all around our property honestly. From trees that need to come down to the ones that have already fallen. Not to mention the pieces from various older projects that are just hanging out. We already have a chainsaw and many other tools to make them all work.

How to put them together?

Well that is a little tricky. We have various size screws and nails already. Some cam be recycled from old projects and well there is always tongue and groove. They are also inexpensive enough to just go and buy. Free is best but cheap works well too.

Tools?

Well with what we already have and family members close by we can find what we need. Somethings we could even possibly make. There are plenty of options here including for human power. We want to be self sufficient not hermits. I am lucky to have a family equipped with multiple trade skills.

My main outlay will hopefully be in food. Nothing like working hard and having a good heart meal to celebrate a job well done.

Upcoming projects

  • Garden fence
  • Rabbit cages
  • Our own henhouse
  • Property fencing
  • House repairs
  • Barn
  • Outdoor kitchen

Not all of these this year but as time goes by. And many other things that will come up over time.

Light, Love, and Peace

Tammy~SSM~

Single Sustainable Mom vs Enchanted Farmstead

There has been some question as to why there are two different names floating around. I am Single Sustainable Mom and my farm name is Enchanted Farmstead. It really is that simple. I use SSM for Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest. For farm business I use the farm name.

Single Sustainable Mom

I have spent the last few years establishing an online presence as SSM. I talk about family life, farming, work, basically my entire life. The trials and tribulations of being a single mom, trying to be eco-friendly, and life as an adventure. I am a mom, nurse, farmer, crafter, and so much more. I want to inspire other people to look at life as a journey, adventure. I want people to realize that no matter the cards you are dealt you can always discard and pick up new cards and take off with it. That is Single Sustainable Mom.

 

Enchanted Farmstead

I own the farm. It is not a person but a place, my home. It is part of the lifestyle of sustainability that I am creating for my family. I am creating a home that is a sanctuary, a life that I do not need a vacation from. The end goal is that the land pays for itself by providing most of what my family needs. Whether it be food or products to sell. It is a business, escape from the world, and a place of peace all rolled into one.

 

Light, Love, and Peace
~Tammy~SSM

 

Make Your Own Household Cleaners

Part of becoming sustainable is getting back to basics and making much of our needed supplies ourselves. I have made laundry soap before and for a lot less than what the stores sell it. That is a really old post actually. It is complete with video, well video of sorts. I haven’t gotten into making those yet but hopefully I will as things settle into routine on the farmstead. This isn’t so much about chemicals, I am still addicted to bleach and its smell, it’s a nurse thing, but about saving money. The fewer chemicals in my home is an added bonus. I will share my recipes in future posts, as well making available some of the products for sale.

Things I Keep On Hand to Make Cleaners

Cleaning Tools

What Can I Make With All of This?

  • Laundry Soap
  • Fabric Softener
  • Disinfecting Cleaner
  • Dish Soap (I still handwash)
  • Furniture Polish
  • Electronics Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaner

Venison Tenderloin

Bambi

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs venison tenderloins
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Mix brown Sugar and Soy sauce together in a bowl. They should combine nicely into a soupy soy liquid.
  2. Put Deer Loin in a cooking tray and pour Brown Sugar/Soy Sauce mixture over loin. Roll tenderloin over in mixture, completely covering it.
  3. Let meat marinate in mixture at least 3 hours or overnight in fridge. 
  4. Remove loin from tray and place on a bake sheet. Save the marinade.
  5. Wrap a piece of bacon around the very end of the tenderloin, securing the bacon strip with a toothpick. Repeat this process until the entire loin is wrapped in ten or so bacon “loops.” 
  6. Drizzle remaining marinade over deer loin. You can continue to baste the loin with the marinade throughout the cooking process with either a brush or a turkey baster.
  7. Place on center rack in oven and bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and place on cutting board. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Potato Soup

potato soup
Photo courtesy of Bing Search

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 whole onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 pound of cubed ham
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 potatoes peeled cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a heavy pan saute garlic, celery and onions in butter.
  2. Add in ham and potatoes, cover with water and bring to a boil, 10 minutes.
  3. Lower heat and allow to simmer, add in heavy cream.
  4. In separate pan boil the other potatoes. Once they are fork tender drain and mash.
  5. Slowly add mashed potatoes to the broth to thicken it.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Check Your Local Code Before You Get Urban Chickens

IMG_1197Looking to keep poultry in town? Here is an example of our local code that says yes, we can keep chickens within certain limits, such as keep your chicken house clean. It even says that pygmy goats would be permitted as pets. So are you allowed to milk pets to keep them healthy? Hhmmm…something my urban and town living friends need to look at. I just wish we could do it in our apartment complex!

While most of us would like to do what we want but when you live in town or a city it doesn’t hurt to check out the local codes. Avoid becoming a news item because someone who doesn’t like gardening and such turns you in, become a news item for doing it according to code or working to change code so that everyone can enjoy gardens and such.