M and A in one of their frequent "hug" moments.

M and A in one of their frequent "hug" moments.

I was reading through my blog recently and realized I had written several posts about what I planned and hoped to learn to reach our goal of being self-sufficient homesteaders, but there were no update posts.  So, I thought I would get you caught up.

I have spent the last few months really making a lot of changes.  My goal is to learn something new every month, but most months I exceed that goal by learning several things.  Since we really started making major changes only last year, it has literally been not quite 12 months that I/we have incorporated the following:

  • Started eating organic
  • Started drinking raw milk and cheeses
  • Tightened our budget
  • Learned the benefits of and started using coconut oil
  • Begin replacing pantry items with the purest, natural things I could (ie. sugar with rapadura, regular honey with raw honey, etc.)
  • Began baking our bread in the bread machine
  • Learned how to purchase a whole cow, and work with the butcher for custom cuts of beef
  • Learned how to cook different beef products (ie. soup bones, stew meats, rib meats, different steaks and roasts)
  • Saved a couple pounds of beef fat for future learning
  • Learned to make butter from fresh, raw cream
  • Learned to seperate the cream from milk
  • Experimented with eliminating plastics from our lives, and although I discovered it wasn’t entirely possible, I also learned to be more conscious of the supplies I do purchase
  • Learned to make homemade crackers and other healthy snacks
  • Experimented with gardening (not very productive, but highly educational!)
  • Learned/learning to cook with natural sweeteners like rapadura, honey, maple syrup, and stevia rather than sugar
  • Learned/learning to make and bake bread by hand
  • Purchased stoneware baking supplies
  • Purchased wheat grinder and learned to mill our own flour ( also learned how handy my husband is in this area!!)
  • Learned to make cheddar cheese
  • Learned/learning to make bread and other foods from freshly milled flour (works a bit differently)
  • Learned/learning how to use by-products of other foods such as buttermilk from butter, whey from cheese, tallow from beef cuts, etc.
  • Learned how to blanch vegetables (I think)
  • Learning to buy in bulk to save money, and to use the supplies I have–even if it is 20 pounds of tomatoes or 10 pounds of zucchini!
  • Purchased a stand mixer to help speed things up in the kitchen (still waiting for it to arrive!)
  • Learning how to render tallow to make baking grease
  • and most importantly, I learned that I have a WHOLE LOT more learnin’ to do!!!

There are some days I feel like I have made so much progress toward our goals, and there are other days where I feel overwhelmed at all I still have to learn.  I have found the greatest difficulty to be trying to learn without having someone to watch first.  The first time I do everything is a challenge, as I have to match my results with photos on the internet, descriptions given in articles I am using, or calling friends to find out their secrets.  All in all, however, I have truly enjoyed learning so much in the last year.  It is been so rewarding stepping back in time, when a woman’s place was in the home, caring for her family.  I have had the utmost pleasure in teaching my children that there is so much more involved in food production than just going to the store to buy it off a shelf.  They are able to watch me, and in many cases help me, spend hours preparing their dinner.  They are able to see first hand how much work goes into their meal, and, as a result, are learning to be appreciative for the food I set before them.  Sure, there are nights they may not like the finished product, but they are quickly learning polite ways to deal with that issue. 

I have always enjoyed baking, but I am now taking such great joy in caring for the health of my family.  I love knowing that they are eating food the way God designed it to be, and seeing our health improve as a result.  I am learning that there is an art to cooking as well, and there are skills which can only be learned through experience.  I pray that my children will grow up to understand and appreciate these efforts, and that God will continue to bless us in this endeavor.

Still on my ever-expanding list of things to learn is:

  • Learn to use that new stand mixer when it arrives
  • Learn to make pasta from scratch
  • Learn more about fermenting our grains
  • Learn to can foods for long-term storage

If there are any other suggestions you more experienced homesteaders have, please let me know so I can add it to my list!