This past weekend was such a treat. Our workshop was supposed to start at 9am, but by 9:30 my family and our fellow instructors were still huddled in the house looking at the downpour and pouting thinking no one was going to show up. But in the next 5 minutes three vehicles came, and they kept coming!
We had a great start to the weekend with our good friend Dave Gahn, who led an inspiring introduction to bird language followed by a chill 35 minute individual bird sit, in which we got to watch the birds return to baseline, our their status quo. The alarm calls quieted, and hopefully so did our minds.
After a potluck lunch, we got down to fire building. We all failed at the one-match fire, but everyone who stuck it out with either the bow-drill or the flint-and-steel got a coal! We even lit our dinner's campfire with a coal made from the bow-drill.
Some of us cooled off in our "pool" and then helped harvest the evening's supper from our garden. We had a salad of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and cauliflower; a stew from new potatoes, last year's sweet potatoes, carrots, some of our pastured pork, and garden herbs. We also grilled pork back strap and zucchini. This complimented James' coconut curried chicken that he was kind enough to share. Yum!!
We sat around the fire for a few in the unseasonably cool evening before crashing for the night in our tents. We awoke to a light rain that increased as we ate breakfast huddled under the pavilion. But luck was on our side for once, as it quit raining in time for us to practice archery. Michael brought a huge assortment of traditional bows for us to use, and also taught us how to throw with an atlatl.
We took an ethnobotanical stroll before a late lunch. We tried different local plants and trees to make cordage (i.e. string - or an anklet) and also learned a few edible and medicinal wild plants.
A big shout-out of thanks to everyone who came and made this such a successful weekend!
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Scouting wild edible and medicinal plantsWe've been walking around the property a lot recently to scout which plants are up and might be of interest to folks who attend our plants workshop in mid-April. We found all of these yesterday! And in looking for morrels while walking, we found an interesting mushroom specimen. I think of chicken-of-the-woods (aka sulfer bracket or "wishi") as a fall fungus. It turns out that this paler sub-species, Laetiporus Cincinnatus, known as "pale chicken of the woods" is also edible when cooked, like the true sulfer bracket, or Laetiporus sulphureus! Bonus!
|checking on the health of the creek before harvesting watercress. Found cadys fly larvae - yay!|
|A farm meal all from what we harvested or wildcrafted! Fried white and sweet potatoes, salsa, scrambled eggs, cilantro, wild greens, and goat-mozzarella. That's what I'm talkin' about :)|
Sunday, March 5, 2017
The first step in making farmstead soap - is getting a beef kidney.According to my homesteading books, kidney fat is the best both for eating and soap making. Last year, when we brought a few of our steers to the processor, we asked him to save some fat for us so we could make soap. Also knowing about the superiority of kidney fat, he saved us two kidneys. Here I am removing the kidney and then rendering the fat to make pure beef tallow.
To render the fat, cook it over a LOW heat. This can be accomplished in a pan in the oven on a low temperature, on the stove or the back of a wood stove (maybe elevated on a spare gas-stove burner grate or two to keep the heat lower), or as I did in a crock pot. A crock pot uses electricity, but guarantees a consistent low temperature, which allowed me to sleep through the rendering of the first kidney. Cook the fat until either all the solid tissue-y parts float, or test it with a thermometer. For lard, you don't want the fat to get over 255 degrees. I haven't found a temperature for knowing when beef tallow is done. The fat from one kidney was just at 260 when I awoke this morning, and dried a perfect white, so it seems fine.
Stay tuned for adventures in soap making :)
The finished product!
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Despite our first workshop being only a month away, Johnny, Calvin and I took 10 days and drove to Maricopa, AZ; (south of Phoenix) to join our friends Michael and Kayla at Winter Count: https://wintercountcamp.com/about Winter Count is a huge gathering of people interested in learning and practicing primitive skills with others who have similar interests. The entire week was set up like a professional conference, with several simultaneous workshops to choose from. There was more to do than we had time for, but this just makes us want to go back for more!
|Can you spot Johnny?!|
Monday, January 30, 2017
Progress on the Pavilion: site of future homesteading, nature connection & primative skills workshops
All the recent unseasonably warm weekends here in NE Oklahoma have been a boon to our progress on the pavilion. The three of us have put our handsaw and drill to lots of use. Here are a few pictures. For info on upcoming workshops, check out our EVENTS page!