Sunday, April 2, 2017

Scouting wild edible and medicinal plants

We'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 sulphureusBonus!

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

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

Winter Count

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:   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!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Primative skills weekends

After attending Bois D'Arc Primitive Skills and Knap in this September with our good friends from Missouri, we were inspired to hang out with our good friends we met at the now defunct Ozark Tracking School (OTS). 
At Bois D'Arc ( we learned about primitive cooking, making gourd canteens, cat-tail shoes, pine-pitch glue, flint knapping arrow-heads, taking edible and medicinal plant walks with Rix, cooking insects we found with Bo, and much, much more! 
We came back and cooked one of our hogs while Snoopy cooked a farm stew in a pumpkin with hot rocks and cooked up pumpkin seeds and corn-meal persimmon and black walnut cakes on a hot stone.  Calvin slept in a hammock in the top of our cedar tree (and lived!), and the kids all practiced throwing atlatl darts at Michael's target.  We hiked in the canyon and made friction fires in the afternoon.  We all pledged to do this more often, as we all had a blast! 

Can you find 4 hammocks?

Persimmon, walnut corn cakes