How have y’all been? It has been busier than a bee in May here at Mama Jess’s. Let’s see…. Second semester has started; we’re almost to Easter Break it seems…. Garden is to be planned soon, and cleaning is never done it seems (I’m testing out a new schedule for myself to see if I like it)….. Whew! That made me tired just telling y’all let alone doing it.
Whelp, let’s move onto Stage 2: Learning & Practicing.
So, you may not be at a season you can just move. There are plenty of reasons why: jobs, family, location, etc. So? What now? Practice and learn. That’s right, Practice and learn at least one new skill a season if possible. Any progress is great progress. Let’s start at the beginning… the most essential and basic aspect of homesteading is gardening. Yup, gardening. I have yet to meet a steader who doesn’t garden.
Start by planting a few herb pots if you’re in an apartment or town home. If you have an urban/suburban home I suggest a garden by the square foot type garden or a few raised beds. If you have .25 acre or more then plan a garden with just a few of your most favorite veggies. Mint (in its own container always), sage, cilantro, and oregano are just a few easy to grow herbs. Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and peas are some of the easier veggies to grow that are also easy to find. Squash is also very easy to grow but does require space and some basic knowledge in cross pollination. (Another post for another day.) Cucumbers can be grown trellis style in small spaces as well as along the ground as normal. The whole point is to have fun, learn, and practice! Start small…. Pick your favorites, and do not be afraid to ask for help.
The next skill I highly suggest is food preservation. Pick one and learn the style. There is drying, canning and smoking to name the most common. Drying and canning being the most popular amongst homesteaders. I do all three truth be told. However, I mostly smoke for fun.
Drying is the most versatile that can be done in most any size space. Simple dehydrators can often be picked up for a few bucks at yard sales and thrift stores. Better ones can often range between $50 to $200, $120ish being the median range on the “good” ones. However, my basic one I use averages between $30 to $50 and does just fine for my needs. What I really want is a freeze dryer….to make astronaut food….BUT that’s another story.
Canning is my love…. I can almost everything. Though, there is plenty I don’t can for various reasons. Some things are because in my area some items are actually cheaper already made in the store, and bonus! They already have minimal ingredients as well. Others are because as cool as it is to can and keep it shelf stable (i.e. Breads) I find I like keeping the ingredients on hand in bulk better to fresh bake like our ancestors. Plus, I cook from scratch all the time, so… I actually need such ingredients in bulk for many other uses as well. Lastly, canning (well any preserving really) is limited to space to hold said items. (My house is smaller, 3 kids, and no cellar limits how much food I preserve.)
Smoking is for dinner and preservation. It’s a very fun option. Smoking is done in many various ways. I use a pellet smoker, mostly because, as mentioned previously, I smoke to make dinner. I will however; if enough interest is shown for this method, do research for a later blog post.
The last main skill I recommend practicing is sewing. Yep, read that right, sewing. It’s a highly useful skill that is so often under rated. No, you do not have to become a seamstress or tailor, but the basics are a must. I patch clothes, mend clothes, and alter clothes all the time. I also make curtains, aprons, and quilts because those are the items I need the most it seems. I’ve made doll clothes for my girls as well when they were younger. (They’re 18 & 17 years old now.) I, as a side note, also crochet via looms to make things like hats, scarves, and dish clothes. Well, at least I do when I have time….. The last three years have been a story unto its own.
That about wraps up this blog post….Until next time…we’ll talk about Living the Dream.
Blessings from My Home to Yours,