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Showing posts from October, 2019

Homegrown Diet Diversity (And a Recipe)

One of the challenges of relying on a diet of homegrown food is variety. Over the years I've tried to grow as diverse a garden as I can, but truth be told, some things are easier to grow in any given climate than others. If all I had to do was the garden, maybe I could succeed. As it is, we've got too many other things needing tending, so my gardening time and energy are limited. Instead, I focus on growing things that I can count on to do well in our region. Even then, there are no guarantees. I just have to take advantage of what produces well, and at the very least, hope I can get a seed crop out of what doesn't.

Mostly, our diet diversity is seasonal. Meals focus on whatever is producing well at the time. I do shop at the grocery store, but my shopping list is pretty basic. It sticks to staples we can't or don't produce ourselves such as olive oil and unbleached flour, a few particular favorites like black olives and bananas, and sometimes items to fill in a nut…

The Solar Panels Are Up

For the past couple of months I've been sharing with you about our plan to put my chest freezer and second pantry refrigerator on solar energy. After finishing the updates and modifications to the back porch, Dan went to work building a rack for the solar panels. This was a weather permitting project, but we didn't mind the pauses because we definitely need the rain.


He's especially happy that he didn't have to buy a thing to build the rack! He was able to use materials and hardware that he already had.


Required spacing of the panels was specified in the installation manual. For these, a quarter-inch.


The angle will be somewhat adjustable.





The next step will be running the cables from the panels to the house, which is about 30 feet.


In the above photo, the corner of the house that you see is our back porch. That's where the freezer and fridge will reside. A battery box will be built next to the house under the windows. Options for the cables are putting up a pole and ru…

Pooper 'Possum

Okay, this is a new one on us. We have plenty of wildlife around, which means frequent sightings if not frequent evidence that we're sharing our homestead with them. We are concerned only with anything that threatens our livestock or garden and so take precautions to protect both. Dan keeps the live animal trap set most of the time, although it isn't uncommon to have the bait disappear leaving the trap otherwise untripped! Obviously, our varmints are on to us.

During evening chores not long ago, I checked the bucks' hay feeder. I was surprised to find it largely uneaten, and reached in to fluff the contents a bit. What an unpleasant surprise to put my hand into a pile of poop! Yuck! That explained why the boys hadn't eaten it. I had to throw out a good bit (to me that means spreading it out on bare soil in the pasture) and go get more.

Wellsir, for the next several nights I found the same thing when I went for evening hay check. Why in the world would any critter prefer …

Off-Grid Laundry

You may recall that our winter project last year was repairing the carport. While we were working on it, we discussed what to do with the space. Once upon a time we parked our jeep there, but eventually it became more useful for things other than a car. Expanding it to store firewood was one of the upgrades, and that left us with space to spare.


When Dan installed a rain catchment tank,


we decided to set up an area for laundry. On the back side of the carport, it would be convenient to the clothesline.






We've gradually been accumulating everything we need.


We hope to use water mostly come from rain catchment.


Last Sunday we got our first rain since August. Only half an inch, but it's a start toward quenching the thirsty ground and refilling our rain tanks.

Because I didn't want to dump the tub water all in one place, Dan installed a hose bib in each tub.


This way I can empty the tubs via hose to where the water is needed most.

No, I haven't used it yet! But we've finally go…

Lessons Learned from a Hot Dry Summer

I wish our seasonal weather was predictable. Climate change aside, Dan and I live at a latitude where the weather can go either way - hot or not. We've had rainy summers and dry summers. We've had cold winters and mild winters. We never know which way it's going to go, and that makes it tough for planning what to plant and when.

For the past several months I've been paying attention to what's managed to produce in spite of our hot dry summer. Our last rainfall was 0.7 inch last August. I know everything in the garden would have done better with more rain, or at least more frequent watering. Even so we still managed to get  an acceptable harvest. The survivors:

Watered the least:
cushaw pumpkinsOzark razorback cowpeas collardslacinato kaleJerusalem artichokesMinimal watering:
candy roaster winter squashsweet potatoesblack turtle beansWatered the most:
tomatoespumpkinsmelonspeppersrice
Cucumbers started out well, but succumbed to pickleworm. Corn, okra, and green beans wer…

Back Porch Progress

So this is pretty much where we left off last time.


After Dan installed a solar attic fan for ventilation on the back porch, he insulated that bit of wall and covered it with a piece of paneling. Then he then trimmed out the window.


While the dryer was moved, I did a deep cleaning in it's spot and then painted.


You can see that we added a battery and charge controller to the fan so it can be run after the sun goes down.


Then, because these windows get the late afternoon summer sun, I wanted to try some of those thermal heat blocking curtains. Has anyone tried them? Do you think they help?


Now we're ready to move the freezer. It will go on the right-hand wall where the shelf units used to be. 

Back Porch Progress© October 2019 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com

Candy Roaster: A Keeper of a Winter Squash

October means first frost is right around the corner. We may get it this month or next, but either way it's time to get ready for it. One important job is getting in the last of the summer garden. First on my harvest list was the winter squash.


I've grown cushaws for a number of years, but this was my first year to try the Candy Roasters. I only had a couple of plants and I thought they did quite well considering how hot and dry our summer was. They weigh about five pounds each and have an interesting striped skin.


The flesh is a pale orange and thick. The skin is thin and easy to pare.


Any vegetable with "candy" in the name is appealing, so I was anxious for a taste test. We tried them oven roasted first.


I tossed bite-sized chunks of squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper and baked for about 30 minutes at 425°F (220°C). Excellent! One squash gave us a couple of meals of roasted squash as a side dish and two pies.


Better than pumpkin! I'm definitely going to plant t…