Archive for July, 2009

Whoo Hoo! We have tipi poles. They finally arrived yesterday. The big FedEx truck pulled up in front of the house and when I answered the door the driver said, "I have a very interesting delivery for you."

When I told him that we plan to live in the tipi year round while we begin our homestead his response was, "NO WAY"… followed immediately by, "WAY COOL!"

Here are the poles just after we unloaded them.


Of course, Bob couldn't wait to start sanding on them. 


We're going to get at least one coat of linseed oil on them and then we plan to set up the tipi in the back yard. That ought to get a few looks from our neighbors πŸ™‚


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I don't know about you but I think that you just can't go wrong with a recipe that includes ground beef! Today Bob and I have decided to can up some pint jars of ground beef to use this winter on the homestead. We decided that a pint jar should be just about the right size to cook up a tasty meal for two adults. 

Even with all of the research and reading that we've been doing we still read the instructions several times before we started. I have to confess that I'm a little bit afraid that if I screw this up I may kill us both with botulism. YUCK!

First we set up a preparation area in the garage where we planned to use our new Camp Chef stove for canning. We had pan with hot water for our canning lids, 2 dutch ovens to keep our jars hot and sterilzed (yes… next time I'll know to use my water canner for this!), a pan with some broth to top off the canned beef,

At last β€” the moment of truth β€” we opened the lid to the canner and were rewarded with several satisifying "klunks" as the jar lids sealed. Using our jar lifter, we lifted the still boiling jars of beef onto the waiting towel to cool.


I'm not quite sure if it's ok to have that much fat in the jar. If anyone knows more about that leave me a comment. Any and all information is welcome. Other than that I think it looks ok.

Sorry I didn't get any photos while actually doing the canning. We were caught up with the whole new experience that we just forgot. I'll be sure to be better about that during my next canning project β€” PICKLES!

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Ok… so when we get moved to our homestead we're going to need to know how to preserve our food without refrigeration. We plan to try several different preservation methods such as drying, lactic acid, and, of course, the traditional method of canning.

We wanted t least one pressure canner β€” two would be better. Fortunately we were able to find two 23 quart Presto pressure canners on Craigslist.com that were in good condition AND at a reasonable price. We got 4 cases of wide mouth quart jars too! 

Of course, we want to be safe when we can so we took our canning lids to the county extension today office to have the gauges tested.

Keep your fingers crossed that they pass!

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Okay, we've been thinking about homesteading for quite some time now. We're tired of the rat race. We want to be self-sufficient. We want to live off the grid. Sound familiar?

Life has consisted of lurking in forums, reading countless blog posts, checking out books from the library, and then buying the ones we really liked. The subjects are many β€” sometimes overwhelming but still we continued to read β€” gardening, food preservation, pest management, country skills, knitting, cabin building, goats, chickens, rabbits, bee keeping, solar energy, soap making, and on and on. OH? And how will we make the income, fortunately a limited income, that we need to survive? Back to the Internet and books for yet more research. <BIG sigh>

Of course, we were still searching the real estate ads hoping to find the perfect spot. Have we mentioned the strange looks we got from family and friends who think we're just a little bit "OFF" for wanting to live the self-sufficient life? We made a scouting trip earlier this year looking for the right homestead property but were so dissapointed when we didn't find anything we liked that we kind of got sidetracked and stopped looking for awhile.

Here's some of our criteria:

  • No restrictions on the land
  • At least 5 acres but 10 would be better – mostly in timber since we plan to heat with wood but with enough cleared for our home and garden
  • Good access to the land – don't want to have to spend a bunch of $$$ just to get on the property before we ever begin to homestead
  • Inexpensive land – notice we didn't put price first but, let's face it, cost definitely needs to be a consideration
  • Privacy-We really don't want gawkers πŸ˜‰
  • Low taxes – income and property
  • Reasonable weather – mainly for the longer growing season but we still want all 4 seasons
  • A water source – either a creek or a pond
  • Access to "the grid" not critical but want access to the Internet. After all, we've got this blog to maintain!
  • Good scenery - nice view
  • Nice community – good people – prefer a small town but also want to be fairly close to a larger city

We couldn't ignore the dream for long. At least once a day, one of us we start a sentence with, "When we're on the homestead…" Not IF but When! So… considering all the criteria listed above we printed some land descriptions off the Internet, packed the camping equipment, filled the truck with gas, and headed south.

Once again, our hopes crashed when the first property we looked out was horrible but we persevered. It was time to enlist the help of an expert! We called a local realtor (who we've been exchanging emails with for several months) to let him know that we'd be in his area the next morning and asked if he could show us a couple of properties (remember the printouts?) and any others he thought we'd be interested in. 

Is the supense building? Will they ever find their homestead? Read on…

The answer is YES! We've GONE AND DONE IT! We're officially land owners. Did we get everything we were looking for? You decide. Keep in mind that there aren't any "perfect places" unless you're planning to spend a fortune. Remember the part about inexpensive land?

(Click image for larger view)

Here's a description of our new home:

  • No restrictions on the land.
  • 10 acres at a good price. We bought 5 acres outright and got the owner to finance the other 5 at a reasonble rate. 
  • Approximately 80% timber and 20% cleared.
  • Good access to the land. Immediately accessible. Don't need to build a road, put in a whistle, or anything!
  • Very private – can't be seen from the road. It's located on a private road with only one other owner.
  • Low taxes – income and property.
  • Reasonable weather – mainly for the longer growing season but we still want all 4 seasons
  • Ok… we didn't get a water source but there's a couple of spots that can easily be dug out to create ponds.
  • Property has a power pole, rural water, and telephone β€” IF we want them!
  • Still working on the Internet access πŸ˜‰
  • Well we didn't get a panoramic vista for a view but then that's kind of difficult and still maintain the privacy requirement but it is still good scenery.
  • Small town is less than 5 miles away. Larger city about 40 miles away. Works for us!

And so Hickory Hollow Homestead is born! If you're thinking about homesteading, becoming more self-sufficient, or just want to chuckle over our mistakes (which will probably be many), then be sure to visit us often!

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