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#62398 - 06/23/08 02:55 PM How to's for beginners
Two Sassy226 Offline
Chick

Registered: 06/22/08
Posts: 14
Loc: West Virginia
I am very interested in the DIY method of feeding my family. I have three sons who can eat their weight in groceries...literally! We have always raised a big garden and my Mother and Grandmothers have graciously passed along the fine art of food preservation...which I have mastered quite well for the most part. But with the rising cost of groceries these days, and the constant worry of what I am actually feeding my family, I am becoming increasingly more interested in the "old" ways.

I too, can remember how it was when you raised what you wanted to eat. I spent many of my childhood days at a wash-tub where my Mammaw would have us washing the canning jars for hours on end! She canned everything from veggies to meats to home made soups! I will admit, I don't do it to the same extreme, but I am considering it nowadays! The only thing that neither she, nor my Daddy, ever did was smoke meats. We raised hogs, and cattle. And there were always chickens on the farm, although they were seldom ever killed for eating. I've seen everything from beef, pork sausage, and venison canned for winter use. I just have never seen the smoking process carried out. I am interested in learning how to do this, so if anyone would like to pass along some info, I sure would appreciate it! Also, I am looking to get a cow for milk purposes...so any suggestions on which breed to buy would be a big help too! I want to learn all I can about what a "milk cow" needs to eat and how to take care of them.

I hope that some of you will share your wealth of knowledge with me. I am always looking for the old ways of doing things. The old ways are the best ways in my opinion.

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#62399 - 06/23/08 10:05 PM Re: How to's for beginners
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Hi Twosassy:

I think your name should be Tooenergetic! Wow, I admire you. That is a lot to take on and as I have said in other posts, a dying art.

My mother used to milk a cow. Her name was Milky, we were very original with names. She was a Canadienne cow. Small breed, about the size of an Angus but much lighter. Smaller than Holstein, Brown Swiss, Jursey or Guernsey. Easy keeper, not bothered by extreme cold and gave more milk than the family could use.

My mother had a milk separator, which I now have. She used to make the milk so skim it was blue. We hated it. She used to churn her own butter, I have the butter churn now. But she had the odd idea that cream churned better if you let it get a little sour before you made it into butter. She made butter people refused to eat. One year she used her stinky butter to make shortbread cookies. I think she froze those cookies and tried to serve them to us again the next Christmas and there was no way we could gag them down. eek

I keep the churn and separator 'just in case'. Not sure in case of what, but you never know.

This is probably redundant, as I am sure you are aware, a milk cow is an ENORMOUS committment! My daughter keeps making noises about getting a milk cow and I say NO WAY. Not that it's a bad idea. But morning and night come hell or high water, through every weather occurence and National holiday, you milk that cow twice a day at the same time! No going on holidays, no attending early meetings or staying late at a neighbour's. Your life revolves around that cow! At least that's how it was at our house, and how it is with any Dairy.

But if you have the space, committment and desire, a milk cow is wonderful. My mom says there were times when her only moment of peace and quiet was in the barn with nothing but the sharp sound of milk hitting that clean, galvanized bucket. She'd talk to Milky, and if times were bad, she'd lean her head against Milky's flank and cry while she milked. Sometimes the barn cats hung around hoping for a treat. Or the pet ducks would bother mom by nibbling on the rivets in her blue jean pockets.

Nothing I can tell you about smoking except my dad decided to experiment, built something that looked like an outhouse, made some fabulous sausage with the German neighbour who knew what he was doing! Then dad decided to try smoking fruit as a means of preserving and it was ghastly and we threatened to run away from home. Ah, those were the days! smile

Good for you for doing all this! I am glad to hear that 'pioneers' still exist. Good luck with all your smoking and milking.

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#62400 - 06/24/08 03:52 AM Re: How to's for beginners
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
If you have the space to run your milk cow and a couple of young calves, you can "share milk" with the calves by separating them from the cow while she bags up, and then milking her for what you need for the house and letting the calves have the rest. That way, if you do need a day or two away, you can turn the calves in with the cow and not need to worry about her getting too heavy with milk. She will require pretty good feeding, (hay, grass, meal...)to keep her milk supply up. Spare milk is always welcomed by the hens and farm dogs, or of course you could get into cheesemaking. The calves could also be candidates for the home freezer.
Spare eggs can be frozen, or pickled.
Most fruits can be bottled, and you can make jam out of practically any fruit, although some need added pectin to make them set. Microwave made marmelade is good and very easy to make.
The old way of preserving potatoes for the winter was to dig a hole in the ground, line it with sacks and cover the potatoes. It was called putting the potatoes into Hell (meaning a hole in the ground) which became a whole new meaning after Dante's Inferno.
Pumpkin will keep through the winter too as long as you pick them ripe, leave a long stalk on them and dry them properly.
Some green vegetables are better frozen, such as beans which can become toxic if bottled. I don't like the flavour overmuch of frozen beans. (bit bland) but some chopped bacon in them certainly makes them more interesting. There are recipes about on the internet for curing bacon. You would probably find some information on smoking too. If you have the time, the old ways of preserving for the winter are great ways.

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#62401 - 06/24/08 08:00 AM Re: How to's for beginners
Two Sassy226 Offline
Chick

Registered: 06/22/08
Posts: 14
Loc: West Virginia
Hello uno! Thanks for sharing those stories with me...it gave me a laugh! smile As for changing my name to "Tooenergetic"...it's a wonderful name, but not exactly befitting. lol. I find that as my age climbs higher, my energy level drops lower. But I guess that is the way life is. I love the idea of milking, as I had an Aunt who used to milk and churn and I helped her during the summer months. My hubs would prefer that I find someone to buy the milk from and then do my churning...but sadly, since the older generations have passed on, so too have the older ways. I don't even know of anyone in my area who milks anymore. I remember that I didn't care much for the taste of fresh milk, as far as drinking it went. But what lovely buttermilk and butter can be made from it! My Father-in-law bought fresh cow butter from an old lady not too far from us for years...but she passed away about two years ago. However, she churned right up until she passed on, and two years ago he was paying $2 for a small container (probably a 1 cup size) of the butter! My Mother makes her own fresh butter...but she does it the easy way. She buys the homestyle type of buttermilk in the stores, as well as the pure salted butter. She softens the butter and whips enough buttermilk into it to suit her taste. It is a fair equal to the real thing. I don't blame you for holding on to the seperater and the churn...those are things that are not easily found these days! And who knows, someday you or your children may either decide to use them, or have to use them. The way things are looking these days, it wouldn't surprise me to see folks having to back-track to the ways of yesteryear just to survive! I do love my garden though. I find a sense of peace in my veggie garden...strange, but true! lol. And I preserve all I raise, so that comes in handy. It is an almost forgotten way of life, but I recall those days with much fondness...and find that as I age, I yearn to revert to them even more.

Here's a little something else that I do as a hobby...I make my own laundry detergents and sometimes soap as well. Haven't dabbled with the lye types of soap, but have considered it. I found a really good recipe for making the laundry detergent, and it is an economical solution to having huge amounts of laundry! Probably averages around 2 cents a load...which ain't bad at all! It doesn't provide suds like the modern day detergents do, but the cleaning power is great! And another good thing about it is that it is good for folks who have sensitive skin as well, as it leaves no residue behind. So, as you can see, I am always on the lookout for a better way to do things....or as my Mom would say, I'm just a "glutton for punishment"...lol! wink

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#62402 - 06/24/08 08:21 AM Re: How to's for beginners
Two Sassy226 Offline
Chick

Registered: 06/22/08
Posts: 14
Loc: West Virginia
Hi Foehn!

Yes, as you pointed out, the calves do help with the milking. I remember that my Aunt and Grandmother always made sure that they let the calves have the evening milk, and they used the morning milking for their use. And too, the fresh beef in the freezer makes for cheaper and better eating!

I must say, I have never heard of freezing eggs. I am much interested in knowing how this works, and if they are as good when thawed as they are while fresh. I hope you will give me more info on this, as I am dreading the months ahead when my girls won't be laying as they are now.

I don't freeze a whole lot of my vegetables. I mostly can them. I know a lot of folks who prefer to freeze their green beans as well, and I will admit that I have tasted some home canned beans that were not very tasty at all! But we always use a pressure canner and dry pack them. It makes a huge difference in the taste! The only liquid you find in the jar is the liquid from the beans themselves...and they taste as close to fresh as you can get. The only things I really like to freeze are corn, cabbage, and the occasional chopped green pepper or onion for cooking purposes. Everything else gets put into jars and canned for storage. I have some really great recipes for canning if you would be interested in trying them. I don't mind sharing...lol. I even can green tomatoes...talk about something tasty...frying them up while the snow is blowing outside is a real treat! I do not have a root cellar, but wish I did. I know that my Grandmother always stored apples, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins in her cellar...as they stayed nice and cool there. I am raising some pumpkins this year, along with my watermelons, and I hope to find a good recipe for canning the pumpkin. If I had a cellar house, I'd sure take your advice and store them...would be a lot quicker!

We do always store our potatoes in the ground. We always called it "hole-ing them up". lol. Here's a little tidbit of info that some may not know... If you plant late or fall cabbage, you can hole it up as well. Just dig a really deep hole (probably 18 inches or so deep), pull up the whole cabbage head, roots and all. Place the cabbage head first into the hole, and mound the dirt up around the stalk, leaving the roots exposed. The cabbage will keep for a very long time right there in the ground...and tastes like fresh cabbage out of the garden! Of course, if your winter temps are really low, you'll want to take them up before they freeze...depending on how cold it gets and how much the ground freezes in your neck of the woods. I just started my fall cabbage plants a few weeks ago. They should be ready to plant by the middle of August. I find that the Jersey Wakefield variety is hardier and does better than most others. You may want to try it sometime.

I am going to scour the internet for some bacon curing recipes and maybe some smoking instructions as well. Bad thing about that is that you never know if you are getting a good one or not until it is too late. That's why I prefer to use proven methods/recipes from folks who have already has success with it. But who knows, maybe I'll get lucky!

Thank you for your info, I am always appreciative of any tidbits of wisdom that I can find!

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