Welcome to the last episode of our four-part podcast Q&A series. In today's podcast, I'm answering the remaining questions, discussing everything from my least favorite farm chore, where to begin when homesteading, and even what foods I want to grow but haven't yet.
If you missed the first three podcasts, you can find them here:
This is Pioneering Today Podcast episode #372 and the final episode in this four-part series. I hope you've enjoyed it! If so, please leave a comment below and feel free to ask me any other questions. If I get enough to merit another podcast, I'll be sure to keep up this fun series!
What kind of Woodstove do we have?
We have a Lopi woodstove. We chose this stove 16 years ago because they're approved for use in a double-wide, which is what we live in. We've been extremely happy with it, especially because it has a flat top that allows us to actually cook on it.
Before we had a propane stove in the kitchen, if the power went out, I wasn't able to cook on the electric stove. Now that's been remedied, but I still love having a wood stove as a backup cooking source. It's also great for simmering potpourri and heating up some spiced chai tea.
We've had our stove for going on 16 years now and haven't had to replace anything on it.
How do you stay motivated on a daily basis?
This is always a little bit hard to answer because, there are some days when I'm not motivated at all. Especially on those days when the weather is horrible, I don't always love the idea of going out to take care of the cows.
I would much rather straight snow or sunny weather. The rain and cold is just so hard. It's like a bone-chilling cold that's hard to warm up from.
Because we need to feed the animals twice a day during weather like this, it's even more difficult.
The better description of what I am is disciplined. There are certain tasks that have to happen each day. Our family needs to eat, the animals need to be fed and the cow milked. So whether I feel motivated to do these things or not doesn't always matter. But being disciplined enough is how I get those things done.
The other things I like to do are to plan in convenience days. Times when we'll pick up a frozen pizza from the store to give us a night off from cooking. But where we live, restaurants are at least a 45 minute drive (one way), so eating out when I'm not motivated to cook just isn't an option either.
But if you have food in your pantry and freezer that's easy to cook up with very little effort, this can often times keep you from splurging on eating out.
Can Work Ethic Be Taught?
Have you ever wondered if work ethic can be taught or if it's something you're born with? Maybe it's something that you were raised to have, but is much harder to learn at an older age?
I've always had a strong work ethic since I can remember, but it was also modeled for me by my dad. He drove his own log truck, and he raised cattle (he kept about 130 head), so he was up early and working late every day of the week. Then on the weekends, it was mending fences or crossing off items on the to-do list around the house.
I also know that for myself, raising our own meat each year, growing quality food in the garden and preserving it, and ordering high-quality food from places like Azure Standard are all ways that I can help keep my own health up.
Having had a cancer scare in my early 30s, that's all the motivation I need to stay disciplined when work around the homestead gets tough.
Where do I Start?
I hear from so many people wondering, “How do I do it all?” and “Where do I start?”.
I love the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” That's truly how you tackle these homesteading skills. One at a time.
I've discussed before in my podcast on the essential skillsets homesteaders should have that everyone should start in the kitchen. We all have to eat, so learning to cook food from scratch, learning how to prepare the foods you're growing in the garden or the meat you're raising in your backyard, this is a skill you should have first.
Not to mention, depending on the season you may not be able to grow anything in the garden.
Choose one thing to focus on in the kitchen. Sourcing a healthier ingredient. Maybe buying local. Just taking one step in the right direction is still getting you closer to your end goal, so don't feel like you need to overhaul your entire kitchen or menu, but rather just choose one thing at a time.
What's My Least Favorite Farm Chore?
This question really made me ponder for a while, and I realized I don't actually have a least favorite farm chore. But one chore that I dread every single time is cleaning the shower!
What's My Favorite Farm Chore?
I love when it's time to prune the fruit trees! I don't let anyone else do it because I look forward to it each year.
I think I love it because it's a bit of an experiment based on what's needed for each tree. The wait to see if how you pruned the tree actually worked is fascinating.
Easiest Thing to Grow for Beginners
There are a lot of plants that are easy to grow, but one that I think might be easiest is lettuce. It grows so fast, so even if you mess it up, you can quickly recover by planting a second time. Or, better yet, do succession plantings of lettuce and never have to buy from the grocery store again!
Easiest Thing to Preserve for Beginners
Once you get over the fear or trepidation of using a pressure canner, raw packing vegetables is so easy! Many of the water bath canned products have a lot of prep work that's needed. But something like pressure canning green beans is so easy!
What Food do I Want to Grow but Haven't Yet?
One thing I want to grow is ginger. I'm looking forward to giving this a try.
Another thing would be citrus. It doesn't tend to grow well in my climate. However, I do have a friend who has been cultivating a hearty citrus tree that I plan to buy and grow myself!
How to Homestead in the Suburbs on a Budget?
When living in the suburbs, you may have to get creative with how you can grow. One great way is to grow vertically. I have an entire blog post on how to grow vertically to plant more in less space.
If you're on a budget, you could also look into a community garden. There are often community gardens where you can go volunteer your time in trade for some of the produce grown. This is a great way to learn gardening skills without having to invest a lot in raised beds or other containers.
But if you want to garden, where there's a will there's a way. You can plant radishes in a cut off milk jug with some garden soil. So don't limit yourself just because you might not be able to build the picture-perfect garden.
Homesteading With a Full-Time Job & Kids
Yes, it's true that homesteading while you have a full-time job and while raising kids can be difficult. But it can be done, and don't let anyone (or your own mind) tell you otherwise.
My husband and I built our homestead while raising two small children and working full-time jobs. So I know the effort it takes, but I also know it can be done. You can read more on how we cut our debt and how I quit my day job here.
Check out this podcast with Rebekah Rhodes on homesteading with children. She has five children, homeschools the older kids and helps run a homestead.
Favorite Quick Dinner
Hands down my favorite quick dinner idea is always breakfast for dinner. Homemade waffles or pancakes are always a big hit. Grab my recipe for homemade buckwheat pancakes here, or have some DIY pancake mix ready to go on your pantry shelf.
The other idea is taco meat. Because you can cook ground beef from frozen it's always my go-to if I need a quick and easy fast meal.
How to Balance Being Prepared with Hoarding
Sometimes being prepared and having a well-stocked pantry or house can feel a bit like prepping or hoarding in excess. So how do we find the balance?
I only buy things we already use. Then, instead of buying individual portions, or smaller portions, I'll buy in bulk and learn how to properly store it.
I also don't buy more than we'll use before the expiration date. Flour, for instance, I'll only buy a year's worth because I don't want to buy too much and the have it go rancid.
You also need to learn how to use the oldest first and the newest last. This can take some organization when it comes to the pantry.
I also like to have backup supplies for items like my pressure canner, light bulbs for the refrigerator, etc.
I do have an entire blog post on how do properly go about being prepared on the homestead without buying in excess and creating unnecessary clutter.
I also recommend checking out these posts on decluttering.
What is My Favorite Podcast?
I don't really have a favorite podcast! Because I tend to be an “all or nothing” person, when I'm interested in a particular topic, I'll go all in and binge-listen to all the episodes on that podcast until I think I've learned what I need.
But then I won't necessarily continue listening to that podcast moving forward.
Right now, because we've just listed the Norris Farmstead Farmstay as a short-term vacation rental, I've been listening to the Vacation Rental Success podcast.
I do love business podcasts and feel like I've given myself an entire college education just from listening to them.
More Posts You May Enjoy
- De-clutter Your Home Month by Month
- Does Gardening Save Money
- Gardening by Month Series (Garden Tasks by Month)
- Hot Climate Gardening Tips
- Planning our “Farm Stay” Homestead
- Best Vegetables for Small Spaces and Self Sufficiency
- 4 Tips to Success In Growing Your Own Food
- Seed Packet Information – How to Read Seed Packets for Gardening Success
- How to Plan Your Best Garden & Harvest for a Years Worth of Food
- The Ultimate Seed Starting Guide- Planning, Starting & Mistakes to Avoid
Hey Pioneers, welcome to episode number 372. So today is the last part of our Q&A session, which I hope you've been enjoying as much as I have. Today is part four and this is really just a bunch of general questions, but some really fun ones. I ended up saving these set of questions until last because y'all really made me think on some of these, which is funny because some of the ones that I really had to sit and ponder on the most, when you hear them you're going to be like, "Well, it doesn't really sound like that hard of a question," but I had to really sit and give some of these some thoughts. So we are just going to dive straight into them.
First one is from Ever Growing Abby and says, "What kind of wood stove do you have?" We have a Lopi. We live in a manufactured home, which is a fancy way of saying a double wide. So we live in a double wide and we got our Lopi when we moved into it, which was in 2006. We had it installed. They are certified. I shouldn't say certified, but approved. They're known for being able to be used in double wide trailers. It's been a really good stove. We got the kind that has the flat top so that I can cook on it. It actually has an area that I can put a couple of pots, couple of pans, skillets, et cetera. That was really important to me that it had a large enough flat surface on the top of it that I could actually cook on it because we lose power quite often here.
Now I've got a propane stove, so I actually will be able to use our stove when the power is out. We have a larger generator. But even with our larger generator, when I had our electric oven and stove range, the generator would power it but it wasn't normal power. Meaning, it would take way longer to cook stuff, it was kind of uneven. I just really wasn't that comfortable using it. It also was not effective. Now that we've got the propane, I could actually cook just fine on it, but it's kind of like the wintertime. And we use lose power all year round, but more so usually in the winter, and of course it stays out longer in the winter usually. And we've already got the wood stove going, so I wanted to make sure that it had a surface that I could easily cook on top of it because it's kind of silly to not use that when the wood's already going and it's good and hot. Why wouldn't you use something that's already there?
So we really do enjoy our Lopi wood stove and have had it for... I'm going to try to do the math real quick in my head; not one of my fortes, but going on 16 years now. Yeah, same original. We haven't replaced anything on it. It's all original from the moment it came in.
This one is from Jack Attack. "How do you stay motivated on a daily basis?" Oh gosh, this is a good question. This is kind of one of those that I felt was a little bit hard because I can't say that I'm motivated all the time. There's days when I wake up, I am not like, "Yay, let's go get them!" I mean, when it's really nasty out and I've got 101 things to do, I got to be honest, I'm not necessarily feeling motivated to go out in the ick in the weather to feed the cows, especially when things break.
I had a moment a couple of weeks ago when we had four inches of snow and then it switched to rain, which I would rather just have straight rain or straight snow. It's the absolute worst when it's half and half. It's actually colder out because you're just hovering right at freezing. But that rain, it's really heavy rain too when it's mixed and it's almost ready to switch over to snow, and it just penetrates. And the cold, I don't know. It's hard to explain. I know obviously 10 degrees and all of that, that is cold, but it's a different type of cold if that makes any sense when it's a dry cold. It's still cold, don't get me wrong. But when you're hovering like 33 degrees, 32 degrees even in raining where stuff's still frozen but it's raining on top of it and then it's just a slushy, it's just a horrible mess. I'll quit complaining about it.
But I had a morning where I had to go out and feed. When it's like that, it's actually harder on the animals. So it's even more important that you are feeding twice a day because they need to be eating all day long in order to keep themselves warm. Snow will just settle on their backs and then that's it, and it actually acts as insulation. Whereas that pelting rain, when it's that cold, it soaks them and they get really cold. You can't get away with really just feeding once a day. You have to feed multiple times a day, especially with the cattle.
I went out and we use our four wheeler in order to haul the hay out when we're not using the big round bales. They finished the round bale faster than they usually do because they were so cold, so I had to hand feed some hay. My husband got home and we could get a round bale in for that night. I went out, the four-wheeler gear got froze because it was so cold even though I'd been letting it warm up. It was just one of those warnings where I'm like, "Why? Why? Why am I doing this?" And I know why, because I had to feed the cows, right? They're our responsibility. But I was not feeling motivated is where I am going with this. I was not feeling motivated. I wanted to be inside by the fire. It was cold. I was not feeling well honestly that day. But the kids had already left for school, my husband was at work, it just had to be done.
So I don't know that I have honestly motivated on a daily basis, but discipline. Sometimes I am not feeling motivated and I don't want to do it, but I know I have to do it. There's not a choice. I mean, yes, there's technically a choice, but not really. I don't give myself a choice. The cattle have to be fed, and I'm the one that is going to be doing it on that day. Kind of with everything, like we need to eat. Because I don't always feel motivated to cook from scratch all the time to be honest. I do love cooking from scratch, I like good food, but there's moments where I'm like, "I don't want to cook tonight," or, "I don't want to prep Sunday. I don't want to do my two hours of prep time," which really takes us through between an hour to two hours. But then if I put it in, we've got food for almost all of our meals except dinner in one way or fashion for the entire week. But I'm not always motivated to do it.
Again though, it's being disciplined enough that you're not giving yourself a choice; you're just going to do it. I will say that there are times, yes, when I'm like, "Okay, we are going to get a frozen pizza from the grocery store," or, "We're going to go to our little fabulous local burger joint in the town near us, and that's going to be dinner tonight." But I know that that's not something that we can do every night, and it's not something we can do all the time. That's just kind of special and usually planned in.
But on the motivation part I'm like, "Well, one, we need to eat." And we don't have options out here, which probably helps. There is no... What are they? Like, Uber Eats, Door Dash. I know there's some different apps where people will deliver food to you from restaurants. We don't have that here. We have to drive quite a ways to get to any place like that. Like I said, we have some local restaurants, but to actually get to somewhere that's normal fast food chains that you would recognize like Subway, those types of things, you're looking at a good, good 45-minute drive one way. That's just not an option, or something I'm not willing to do. I know that we're either not going to have food that night or we're going to be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Healthy food is really important to me. So I know might not necessarily feel motivated in the moment, but again, I just don't give myself a choice. It's something that needs to be done. I think part of that... I don't know. Here's interesting. I'd love your guys' food for thought on this. Can work ethic be taught, or is it something that you're born with? I don't know. I've always been highly motivated or had a strong work ethic, but it was modeled for me.
My dad was one of the hardest working people I have ever met, like bar none. He would get up early in the morning, sometimes depending on if it was the summertime and where they were hauling from, and he'd be up 3:00 AM to get up to the top of the mountain to be first load out so that he could get as many loads in as possible on that day because that's how he got paid. He was a log truck driver. He owned his own log truck. And then he had a second one. He had a driver hired. He had his own log truck company. And then, we always raised our cows.
So dad would get up, like I said, sometimes about 3:00 AM in the morning in order to get out the door. Then he would get home in the early evening, usually around 5:00. We would have dinner. And then he was back outside greasing the trucks, doing any type of mechanicing stuff that needed to be done on the trucks, especially in the summertime. And then he would be back in and go to bed at 8:00 because he had to get up in a bit like 3:00 in the morning usually. So any stuff around the house that had to be done and as well as all of the maintenance on the trucks. And so that was both trucks. If something was going down, at the very least, greasing and just getting them ready to go for the next day.
Then of course in the winter months we had to feed. We fed square bales. When I was young, dad had about 130 head of cattle. So that was... Oh boy, it's been a while, guys. I think that was between 30 and 40 bales a night that had to get fed. So that meant backing the truck into the barn. I learned how to drive a stick shift and back a truck at eight years old into the barn because I was the only kid left at home at that point. I would back the truck into the barn. At eight, I couldn't really lift the bales yet. I could push them off the top of the stack.
Now looking back, I'm like, "Dad was so tired he didn't want to crawl. Literally scale the hay all the way up to the top of the rafters of the barn." So sometimes he would back up partially in and he would have me go up to the top of the stack, which I just thought was greatest fun ever. I would go up to the rafters and I would push the bales off, and then he would load them into the truck. Other times, depending on where the stack was, I would just back it all the way in and then he would just load the truck. And then you're loading those 30 to 40 bales and then I would drive really slow through the field, and dad would cut them and throw them off the back and feed. So that would take however long. Then we'd have to go and check water if it was freezing, if we had to break ice.
So we were doing all of that, and that had to have taken at least an hour. Maybe more. I'm trying to think back. And so that would of course be after he got home from driving log truck all day, maintenanceing the trucks, then we would go and do that and then he would come home and usually just go straight to bed. Then weekends were fix and fence, big mechanic projects on the truck. Of course regular house stuff that maintenance needs to be done.
So I guess where I'm going with that is I don't ever remember really seeing my dad rest. Very, very rarely. Sometimes in the evening if we were home and we would sit, especially if it was going into the weekend, sometimes he would watch a little bit of TV and other times we would listen to... We had a record player and we would listen to... Hank Williams Senior was his favorite, and so we would listen to some Hank Williams Senior songs.
We didn't really go on vacation. He didn't take leisure time. He never went to sports things. I just remember him always working. I don't know. If it's selective memory or I just never picked them up, I don't remember hearing him complain very much. Like when a cow got out and we had to go fix fence and maybe it was in the middle of the night, I'm sure he didn't enjoy it because I don't enjoy it when my cows get out and I have to chase them to Timbuktu to get him back in and then go fix fence, but I don't remember him complaining, being pessimistic, or grumping about being tired. He had to have been, because by the time he had me, my mom was his second marriage, and I mean he was up in his 50s by that time. He had to have been tired. Because I'm almost 42 and there's times where I'm a lot tired than I recall being 10 years ago when I was in my early 30s.
So I don't know if it's just because I saw that model, like you just get it done, or if that's something that you kind of just are almost born with. I don't know. A very interesting question though. So I don't know that I stay motivated on a daily basis. I feel like I'm disciplined and I don't give myself a choice. And I remind myself, "If you don't do this, this is your alternative." And because I've had so many health issues with the esophagus and the biopsies and all of that, I know that if I don't do it and fall back on convenience stuff or buying meat that's not raised to the health standards and the ethical standards that I want, I know that that choice is not just taking the easy route for the moment. I know that it could put me back in a place where I'm having to have another biopsy and/or down the road could be a cancer diagnosis.
Now, I mean that still could happen to me even with making these health choices, but I know that the amount of healing I've had by doing these things, I'm drastically reducing that and the quality of my life is a lot better. And so I keep that front in mind too, like why am I doing this, so even if I don't feel motivated, I know what's at stake If I don't. I hope that helps. I wish I had a more very straightforward answer for you, but I really don't. I think it's kind of a combination of those things.
Today's podcast is sponsored by Azure Standard. Azure Standard is one of my favorite places to go for almost everything in the house and even some in the barnyard because they also carry livestock feed. One of my favorite to get from them is the Scratch & Peck brand because they have the organic Scratch & Peck that is both soy and corn free. And that is what we use primarily when it comes to our chicken feed for our laying hens.
The great news is Azure Standard has drop zones almost all over the entire United States now, meaning that almost everybody can order from them. So you place your order online and then you punch in your... Well, you punch in your zip code first and it will to show you your nearest drop zones and what those days are. So you place your order, you have a specific cutoff date that your order has to be in by, and then it gives you your delivery date. And then you go, comes in on a truck depending on how much you ordered, it could come in on a pallet, but it comes in boxes and bags and then you just go and pick up your entire order at once.
And even after your order is placed, oftentimes I'll do that, I'm like, "Okay, I know this is what I need," and so I'll place the order so that I don't forget to place it by the cutoff date. But then before that cutoff date comes, I'll be like, "Oh, I need to actually add this." And so you can go in and add to your order up to your cutoff time. That has saved my bacon because there's been many a time where I'm meant to... I was like, "Oh, I know I want to add some more stuff to this when I'm going to come back to it later" and then I would forget and it would miss my cutoff time. And then it would push back being able to get my order to further down the road and I was out of some of the things. So that's kind of one of my little tips, is take advantage of that, place your order. And for new customers we have a coupon code which is PPIONEERING10. So for brand new customers, 10% off of your first $50 order or more when you order from Azure.
Now this one's from Lisa J. and she says, "Where do I start? It's all overwhelming." And Lisa J, the thing is you really just pick one thing and that's where you start. Because to try to do it all, I still even feel overwhelmed. We will look at all that we need to get done for the year, even sometimes the month, sometimes even the week depending on where it is, and all feel overwhelmed. But really if you just start and you focus on the first thing that needs to be done first and you keep it there and then it's just the very one next thing instead of the whole big picture, it's kind of like that old saying or adage I've heard like, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." That's how you do it, is one project at a time and it's one step of that project at a time.
So as far as where to start, my best advice is start in the kitchen because you might not be able to grow things right now depending on the season, the space, whatever, that might not be an option for you, but you can start in the kitchen. So one thing that you're buying processed, pre-made from the store, pick one thing that you are eating on a weekly basis, or a daily basis even better, start making that one thing at home from scratch with good whole quality ingredients, whole food ingredients. One thing. Once that becomes normal part of your routine, add the next thing.
And kind of the same thing really with the garden or the livestock, whatever. If you can't raise it yourself, can you buy from a local farmer? If you can't buy from a local farmer, can you at least buy something that is raised better than what would just be your regular kind of normal agriculture? So for example, if you're just buying the cheapest possible eggs that you can find, if you can't raise chickens yourself, if you can't find a local farmer or a local neighbor, whatever, that you could go and get the eggs from, then could you at least pick a brand that is either certified organic or is truly free-range like that? Because there's always going to be better, best, that type of thing. Pick one step further ahead from where you are right now. Pick the next best thing and then move from there. But at least you're making forward progress and that will give you momentum and it will lead to the rest of the things that you want to do over time.
If it's growing a vegetable garden, again if you don't have a lot of space and the thought of doing a huge garden where you're growing over 50% of your own food for the year, you're like, "No way," what's your favorite thing to eat fresh vegetable wise that grows in your climate and then grow just that one thing. Maybe it's just lettuce. Lettuce is super easy to grow, germinates really fast, can be grown in pots. Maybe you decided that... Or maybe it's a pot of basil, maybe it's just some herbs even on your window seal. A lot of herbs you can actually grow on the window seal very easily in a really small pot. But pick one thing and just get started with it.
This is from The Rabbit Hole Creative I think, and says, "My least favorite farmer house responsibility and my favorite." This sounds hilarious, but this question I had to really sit and think about. Like, what is my least favorite? I mean, I can't say that I love doing dishes, but is it my least favorite? No. So I think that my least favorite, and here was my process for figuring this out, what is the thing that I know needs to be done, but I don't do it? Because that must be the thing that is really my least favorite because I do the dishes. Dishes get done every day. I don't physically do them every day. The dishes get done in our house every day, but sometimes the kids have a dish night, my husband takes a dish night. We share it even though I do the dishes more nights. Most of the time I have a few more nights than the kids and my husband do. But the dishes are getting done.
So by process of not actually getting done, cleaning the shower. I don't know why. I really don't like cleaning the shower. I have no idea why, but that's probably my least favorite and one that I will put off way longer than one probably should if I'm being honest. As far as my favorite though, I don't know that I have a house favorite. There's a lot of house responsibilities and stuff that, again, I just get them done because they have to be done and I'm not willing to live without them being done. But my favorite, it's actually pruning the fruit trees. I love to prune our fruit trees. In fact, I don't let anybody else prune our fruit trees.
Like my husband, he would do it, but I love to prune the fruit trees. I think what it is because it's an experiment in a way. What I mean by that is I can see like, "Okay, I'm making this cut this year" in the thoughts that it's going to create, either it's going to open it up like, We've got too much crowding," or "I need better horizontal growth here," or "I want to encourage the tree to quit putting so much growth up top. I'm going to try to eliminate the amount of water spouts that we have coming out of this."
So there's all of this thoughts. And so then you make the cut, right? Then you make the cut, you do the pruning, right? And then it's seeing did it do what I wanted it to the following year? Because you have to wait a while. That might drive some people crazy, but I just find it fascinating. It's like this continual experiment on, "How can I make this tree be the most productive, do what I want it to do and shape it with the act of pruning?" I don't know, I love it.
So I will actually go out and I'll study the trees throughout the different seasons and be like, "Okay, I think I'm going to make..." I think when it comes to pruning, because I do summer pruning, which I have a whole episode, YouTube video, et cetera on summer pruning and why we do that now, but throughout the year I will go out all the different seasons and look at the trees and make notes. "Okay, this is how we're going to try this. I think this is what we're going to do." And so that when summer comes in, all ready to go, the trees are just ready to be pruned and we get them pruned. But yeah, pruning fruit trees is one of my favorites.
Okay. Eva WS. "Easiest to grow for beginners? Easiest thing to can?" Easiest thing to grow for beginners. That kind of varies. A lot of things are actually easy to grow, but I would say something like lettuce is really easy because it grows so fast and doesn't tend to be something that has as many... You don't have to worry about it bolting as fast as you do things like spinach. It just has a longer... Like climate wise, I feel like lettuce is more forgiving and easier to grow and it's something that will grow relatively quick. So you kind of get that fast reward, which feels really nice when you're growing. It's not something that's super fussy like you're worrying about blossom in drought or too much nitrogen and the flower's not setting fruit. I feel like it's pretty forgiving and an easy thing to grow and get started with. Plus you can direct sow it. It's not something that you have to worry about seed starting. So I think lettuce is a great one.
Easiest thing to can, honestly once you get over the fear of pressure canning, it is way easier to raw pack and can vegetables as far as your prep time and sometimes even your processing time than it is to water bath things like pickles and jams. They have a lot more because it's like getting it to set if you don't know how to do that, or pickles to make sure that they turn out crisp. I actually feel for the hands-on amount of time raw packing. Something like green beans doesn't have a super long processing time. You can literally put the raw green beans in the jar, cover it with water that's just came off a boil, hot water, and you put it in there and you process your pints. Depending on your altitude, it's 20 minutes. That's really fast. So I know a lot of people get intimidated by pressure canning, but honestly I find pressure canning in a lot of instances less hands-on time and easier than some of the water bath
Gin Harp. "What food do you want to grow but haven't yet?" I had to sit and think on this. One of the things that I would like to grow but haven't yet would be ginger and citrus. Here in the north, citrus is real touchy because we are cold enough that a lot of your citrus is not going to make it through. Because we can get down to five degrees, single digits, overnight lows, and most citrus are not going to survive that. But I have a friend who has successfully grown a lot of citrus here and all different kinds of varieties. He is going to actually be one of the guest teachers at the workshop we have at the Farmstead this year, or coming year in May of 2023. We'll have those workshop tickets out really soon with the dates. But he has actually been cultivating specific hardy citrus that he is growing here and that's doing well. And so he's going to have those plants and fruit trees that he's been grafting and doing cuttings on for sale. And I absolutely plan on getting some myself.
So that's when that feels... Because of my love of fruit trees and pruning is my favorite, that one I'm really excited to see what type of citrus could I get to grow here. Because right now all the citrus pretty much I have to buy. I mean I'm not able to grow it ourselves.
Little Mountain Girl. "How to do this alone on a very low income in the burbs?" Well you definitely can do it alone. And if you're in the burbs and on a low income, really is again starting in the kitchen because usually making something from scratch in the long run is cheaper than buying a processed version. I mean yes, a bag of flour costs more than a bag of Dorito chips. And I'm not saying that you're eating Doritos, right? I don't know that. But where I'm going with this is oftentimes people are like, "Well, this processed box of something or bag of something pre-made et cetera is cheaper than if I buy the bag of flour. All the ingredients that it would take to make it up front." But in the long run, you're using that bag of flour to make so many different things with those other ingredients that it is cheaper in the long run.
So I would say the first start in the kitchen, and that's kind of a theme, I always say start in the kitchen because usually that's where it's easiest to control. And then look at, you're in the burb, so what can you do in your space? You likely can grow something and you might be on low income, but you can get creative and use all different kinds of things for pots to grow things, especially small, shallow rooted things. So things like basil, lettuce, even radishes. Like breakfast radishes, they don't need very much space for their roots so you could literally use milk junk cartons, right? You could use those to grow some small things in. Yeah, you'd need to buy some seed and some potting soil, but you would be able to grow things and multiple things throughout the season in there because those are shorter growing time.
Look. Is their a community garden? Or is there somewhere that you could... Community gardens can be a great way if you don't have the land obviously or the space in a yard. Or do you somebody who does have some yard space that you could partner with and you guys could split the garden cost of it going in? A garden is one of those things where if you're doing raised beds or containers, yes there can be the cost of them though you can get around with using some different things like I've seen where people have taken wheelbarrows and old bathtubs and put drain holes and use those to grow in for containers. You can get creative. Buckets. Five gallon buckets might not be the prettiest thing in the world, but it'll get the job done. And then the money that you save by having that fresh produce, right? Then you take some of that and instead of aside for what the next thing is that you want to do.
And like I said, even partnering, I know people who have found in their area where there's some land or yard space and they'll ride their bicycle to go and help tend it. Or even if it's like a vacant lot, find the owner of that and see if it's something that they could turn into. Start your own community garden with people. So I think that where there's a will, there's a way. And it may be a lot smaller in the beginning than what you would want, but there definitely ways to be creative. I mean people will grow micro grains just in a little bit of dirt in an old lettuce container. Plastic lettuce container will grow even if they don't have yard space. You don't need yard space and it's very little amount of dirt to grow micro grains. So just starting and doing with what you can, but making up your mind to say, "I will figure out a way to do something" and then go forth and do that.
[inaudible 00:31:21]. "A day in the life. Two big full-time job with toddlers and don't know how to get started." I have done some days in the life, so we will make sure that we link to those in the show notes. Or the blog post for this episode will be at melissaknorris.com/372 because this is episode number 372. So we'll go in and link to those. But again, it feels like a theme. It's picking the things that are super important to you and making sure that you get those done.
We actually have a good episode I did with Rebekah Rhodes and that was on Growing a Garden with Kids. We'll link to that one too. I think that you'll find a lot of helpful information in there. Even though we were talking about growing a garden and home setting, a lot of the principles still really apply to home setting in general.
But I worked a day job for a number of years and we homesteaded when the kids were little. It was just picking what the priorities were. There was stuff that I would have to do in the morning before work because if those didn't get done, then they just wouldn't. And so kind of picking and layering things. So I knew that I didn't have time in the morning in one stretch to do an entire load of laundry. So I would put the clothes in as soon as I got up. Sometimes I'd put them in the washing machine the night before, but I just wouldn't add the water and soap, right? I wouldn't turn it, but that way the dirty clothes were in the washing machine.
So first thing when I got up in the morning, I would turn it on so that that would be washing while we were getting dressed and the kids breakfast and getting them dressed and all of that. Having their bags because I was commuting, so I had to have their bags packed ready for the day to go to grandma and grandpa's or daycare. Or if you're home, at least have the kids' clothes laid out so in the morning it's not something that you're having to take time on. It's already all set out. And so then we would do that and then I would come back and the clothes would already have been through the wash cycle by then. And then I would put them out on the line before I left when weather worked for that or in the dryer. And then when I got home that night, we would actually take them out, fold them and them put away.
I knew that I didn't have time to wash a whole load, dry a whole load, fold them and get it all, put them away before I left for work. But I also knew if I didn't do laundry every single day, that we would have this huge back load of laundry and I'd never get caught up. So that was just a thing, I'm like, "Okay, I got to break this up in the time that I do have. We're going to make sure that this gets done every single day." Kind of the same thing. Dinner would be planned out if it was something that was going to be in the slow cooker or if it's something that needed to go in the fridge to be thawed so that would be ready to cook when I got home that night. Like if anything had to be prepped, I would do that in the morning.
And so just basically setting up routines and setting up... This was something that I still use to this day and was really helpful. And it was by Kathi Lipp is who I first heard say this and is, "Whatever your evening self..." So I tend to break things up like that, like my morning self or today's self compared to tomorrow's self, et cetera. I might not feel like doing this in the morning, but I know that my evening self is going to be really happy that I did it and I'm not going to regret that I did it. I'm going to regret it if I don't do it. So that kind of just helps as a more of a mindset shift in order to get things done. Again it's picking the one thing that's most important to you right now that's going to make a big impact and just doing that one thing until it's very much a part of your routine so that it feels normal and it's an actual true habit and then stack the next thing on.
Okay, this is from Farman Hearth, my favorite fast meal for dinner. This is a great one. Breakfast for dinner honestly. When I'm pressed for time, I'm like, "Okay, we are going to do something with eggs or maybe we do french toast. We're just going to do some type of breakfast." Sometimes it's pancakes. The kids love it when we have pancakes for dinner.
Aside from some type of quick breakfast like that item in place of dinner is taco meat. Even if it's not all the way thawed, I can fry up some hamburger really quick, throw those taco seasonings on there. Obviously if we have tortillas, it can go in that. If we've got lettuce, it can be a taco salad. If I don't, I can cook rice while I'm frying up the meat and we just do taco bowls. I've always got home canned salsa, cheese. Taco meat is so easy. Or if you have taco meat and then throw it with the eggs and make a taco pie, which is kind of basically it's a taco meat quiche, taco meat's just so versatile. Or throw it on chips with cheese and you have nachos for dinner. Yeah, so I have to say either breakfast for dinner or some type of taco meat is the one of my go-tos if I need a really favorite fast meal. And the kids are never going to say no to taco meat.
Okay, Kara Elizabeth asked, "We want to start growing our own food. Where do you suggest we start?" I think I actually really already answered that a lot in the other questions that were surrounding that. So great question Karen Elizabeth, and I kind of answered that with what your family eats that grows in your climate and pick one thing and go from there. I also have full episodes on that as well as worksheets that are a free download from my book the Family Garden Plan that walk you through how do you identify that. And so that I highly recommend grabbing. If you go to melissaknorris.com and click on the book tab and go to Family Garden Plan book, you'll see where you can put your name and email in and get those sheets for free.
Okay, we're nearing the end. This one actually ended up being a little bit longer than I thought it would. That question is Jennifer Lu and says, "Balancing, prepping and buying in excess with clutter and chaos and hoarding." Jennifer Lu, this is a great question because sometimes it feels like it can be a fine line. So with balancing, prepping and buying in excess with clutter and chaos and hoarding, one is I don't ever buy anything that I know we're not going to use. So for me, I don't buy a whole bunch of MREs or foods that I'm not using in our everyday cooking. I only buy things that we're already going to be using and then I'll buy them in bulk because it's going to save money. And I buy what I think will go through this in a year or maybe two years depending on what the shelf life of something is.
For wheat berries, I'll buy extra because those will store for like 25 years. But flour, already pre-ground flour from the store, really a year, maybe a year and a half and you're going to start to hit rancidity. So I kind of know what we're going to use for a year and I'll buy that. And then as we start to get down, I'm like, "Okay, we've got six months left," then I'll buy it up. So my goal is that we always have a year's worth of most of our foundational items as far as pantry goes. So when I start to get down to only having six months left, then it's like, "Okay, time to buy this next set," so that we're always a year out. And always rotating through it obviously. Using the oldest first. And again, as long as I'm only buying stuff that I'm actually cooking with I'm making into our meals all the time, then I don't really run into as far as hoarding goes because I'm just extending it out so that we've got it on hand for a set amount of time.
I think hoarding is more when you have so much stuff and it's stuff that you're never going to lose and you just don't ever throw away anything. And so that's not what we do so I'm not really worried about that. It's stuff that we're consuming and going through. Or a backup part. So that I've got a backup pieces for my pressure canner so if it goes out in summertime, I don't have to wait to get that part in, I can just simply replace it and go on my way.
Now as far as the organization though and the clutter and chaos part, yeah, you definitely need to have spots for things and be organized, know where things you're at because otherwise you run into where, "Ooh, I am pretty sure we have this part or I have this thing but I don't know where it is and I've just wasted so much time trying to find it. I'm just going to go and buy it again because I need it right now and I can't find it." That doesn't serve anybody. And too much clutter. There's a lot of negative things to clutter as far as your mindset even if you don't think it. Your brain has to make decisions about clutter and it's subconscious. You don't realize it, but your brain, when there's a lot of clutter out, your brain is like, "Do I need to do something with that? Should I do something with that?" And it's making it so fast you don't even know that it's happening, but you get fatigue. You get mental fatigue from it.
So there's actually been quite a few studies done on clutter and the negative impact it has that we don't realize, really pretty fascinating. But that being said, my house is not minimalist by any means because I am a homesteader. But I have found that it's a good rule of thumb... And definitely we will link to and listen to some of the decluttering episodes and organization episodes that we've done. But a really good rule of thumb is, "If this broke today, would I go and buy its replacement immediately?" And so that can be a tool of helping you decide, "Do I keep this? Do I get rid of this?" And again, I don't usually buy things unless I know we're going to be using them. So if it's like a replacement part, then I know that I use my pressure canner all the time and that I want to have a replacement part for it because if that part broke, then that's going to be really detrimental to us putting up our food. It's something I use all the time.
So I think you just have to be really honest with yourself truly and really think about it. "Do I need this? Are we going to use it? And if we are going to use it, in what timeframe?" Or if it's a tool, like, "Is this truly helping us get stuff done or is just another tool that adds to the clutter?" And then making sure everything has a place. Doing inventories, especially sometimes this could be with parts and farm animal feed, et cetera, but doing an inventory especially on your food so that you do know what you have. Amounts, dates, when it was purchased, kind of put some best buy there so that you have records of things too. Because sometimes it can be like, "Oh, I think we bought blah, blah, blah, blah," but if you don't have a good system in place, then you're not really sure.
And then you also don't know like, "Well, okay, I bought this and I thought we were going to go through this much, but we're not going through it as fast as I thought. So I probably shouldn't buy as much." Or, "I know that I don't need to buy this every six months. This is something that I only need to buy once a year or maybe every other year," depending on what it is. So really just having true clarity on how much you have and how much you're using it and if you really truly need it, and if the cost of the item and the space that it requires is worth it.
So what I mean by that is, I know even my dad has had things that he has stored literally for 30 years. Literally. And lo and behold, something is broke on an old piece of equipment and he went and got that part out and did end up using it 30 years down the road. So he'd be like, "Okay, well that was justifiable." However, that's like one thing and there's a lot of other things that were in that shed that he never ever used. And 50 years after he put it there, the shed fell down and all of it ended up just being taken to the scrap metal, what you could it, et cetera. So that was a lot of stuff that completely went to waste and filled up an area.
And so was it worth it that there was that one part 30 years down the road that he needed? And that's going to be something that I don't have the answer to that necessarily. Each person has to ask themselves that. But there's some things where I'm like, "No, it's not worth this space for the cost of what the item is, and I know that I can get this item." For me it's not worth it to the space to store this one." So you have to ask. Again, it comes back down to kind of prioritizing what that's going to be for you.
Okay, last question. And this is from Ross Kelly and ask what is my favorite podcast. This again was one that was really hard for me to answer because honestly I don't have a favorite podcast. I tend to be very all or nothing person. So what I mean by that is when I am learning about a subject, I am all in on that subject. And I will binge a podcast. Once I find a podcast that's on a subject that I'm interested in, I will binge that podcast and I will listen to almost nothing but that podcast if they've got a back playlist. And so I'll listen to that podcast for probably two months until I've learned what I think I want to learn about that subject. And then if that podcast is more lifestyle and they have stuff that keeps me engaged, et cetera, then I probably will still keep listening to it.
But I found that that's how I tend to consume a podcast. I'll just listen to the whole podcast, all the back episodes. And then sometimes I'll keep up with it and sometimes I won't. So I don't really have a favorite. So for example, we are doing the Farm Stay, which is basically a short-term vacation rental. So many people are familiar with Airbnb, et cetera. And so I have never done that. I have never had a short-term vacation rental house. I've operated that. I've not been in the hospitality business, which that is what that is. And so I'm like, I really need to learn and educate myself as I'm building this out. I don't want to just learn by making mistakes. I want to learn from people who have experience in this and in this industry. And I know I still will make mistakes, but I want to try to minimize them as much as possible.
So I found a podcast, it's called... Let's see, I'm going to actually pull it up on my app here. I know this probably won't relate to a lot of you because you probably were thinking that I listened to a lot of other homesteaded podcasts or something within that nature. But it's the Vacation Rental Success Podcast by Heather Bayer. Heather has been in the short term vacation rental business for over 20 years and has also managed tons of different properties. And so it's kind of like with raising livestock, right? You're going to learn so much by raising 10 chickens. But if you raise 200 chickens a year, even though you both have only been raising chickens for a year, the person who's raising 200 chickens for a year is going to naturally learn a lot more because they're going to experience a lot more different scenarios than someone with just 10 chickens will.
And so I wanted to really learn from someone who had been managing a lot of properties over a lot of time and had experienced a lot of different situations. So I binged my way through that podcast and I learned so much. There were so many things I'm like, "Oh, I never even thought of that," that we've been able to put in place. And so I can't say that I really have a favorite podcast. I tend to binge. And then there's some that I listen to here and there. A lot of what I listen to is business podcasts because I feel like I've given myself a complete education, a college education on business through podcasts and courses and stuff on entrepreneurship and just all those different things.
But I do listen to Beyond Labels which is Joel Salatin's podcast. I do listen to that one. I'll kind of just pick my way around, again, if it's a subject that I'm really wanting to learn about. So if I'm wanting to learn about herbs in a specific way or a specific herb, I'll just do a search and see what podcast that I can find on that and listen to them that way. So yeah, I don't really have a favorite podcast. And I kept trying to think about that, like, "Okay, what is my favorite podcast?" I had to finally realize I don't have one. And that might be weird, but I love podcasts. I just don't have an actual favorite.
Well, I hope that you guys have enjoyed this series. I have found it really, really fun. We've got more guests coming up for you in the new year and a lot more things to talk about. Which by the way, if you want to check out the short-term vacation rental and come and stay on the farm with us at the Farm Stay, you can go and look at norrisfarmstead.com and see more about the property and the rooms and all of that fun stuff. We would love to see you. And you will also see a picture of, which I will be doing an episode on in the new year, our new herd of Scottish Highlanders that I'm very, very excited about. But we are going to take a break next week from the podcast and we'll be back here with you right at the new year. So I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Blessings and mason jars for now.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.