The winter season is on it’s way, I felt the shift during midsummer. The air seems lighter, the nights are cooler and the plants are ready for harvest. I’ve noticed the Mimosa pods are falling from the trees and the herbs and lettuces seem a little happier as they begin to grow quicker and quicker as the season passes. Harvesting and sharing the bounty bring such pleasures, connection and inner peace. We’re connected spiritually and energetically to what we grow, forage and preserve. The smell of drying herbs fill the are as I enjoy the sweetness of a locally grown watermelon. Autumn is creeping in, reminding us to get ready for the following season.
I’ve been blessed with beans and lentils…lots of beans and lentils! Pounds and pounds of them! I’ve been canning by booty off. When it comes to beans, I like to have plenty canned so we have them at a moment’s notice. Most of them are kept dry and safe until I’m ready for more. Being a vegan, I depend on foods like beans and legumes for my protein along with other plants that are high in protein such as broccoli, kale and spinach. It’s actually a misconception that vegans need to worry about getting enough protein. A cow is vegan as well. Any diet is unhealthy if it’s full of processed sugar, processed food, chemicals and GMOs. Those this will never promote good health. The nutrient vegans need to be mindful of are omega-3s. Most vegetables do contain omega-3s in trace quantities however. I get mine from avocados and I do eat eggs.
I ran out of brown sugar and the cost of sugar is just going higher and higher. Brown sugar is generally more expensive than white sugar in my area. I found it more economical to make my own brown sugar. It’s easy, I just add organic molasses to organic cane sugar and stir until it’s well blended. I can adjust my brown sugar from light to dark and anything in between. Very little molasses is needed so 1 jar lasts forever. I currently have 2.5 jars, it’s taken me almost 2 years to go through half a jar. Sugar I buy in bulk, it’s a good chunk of money up front however, I get it for so much less per pound and I only buy it once a year to year and a half.
Homesteading, on grid or off, is a continual learning experience. Once we feel we know all we need to know we stop learning and start to waste away. We’re on this plant to learn, grow and expand. Jellies recently taught me this. Making jelly in the hills of Ten Mile, TN is much different than making jellies in Southern Wisconsin. I’ve had to play around with the recipes and my technique. It turns out the problem was my technique, a total me issue! That’s not a bad thing, I do have all the power to change it. Now I have 1.5 dozen jars of syrup that is supposed to be jelly-like. I got the plum jelly to reach proper consistency. I’ll be reprocessing the nectarine and grape. I’m looking forward to sharing them with my community.
Now that it’s cooling off I’m back to making soy candles. It feels good to make them again, I have so many ideas in my head I want to try. Now that I’m in a couple of stores, I need to make a good amount of them. I recently tried to add a little beeswax to the soy way to make them less delicate in the summer heat. In my opinion, their too hard. I’m going to try it again with less beeswax. I’m ordering some bamboo and hemp wicks, I want to experiment with them and different waxes. This is homesteading…trial and error! Sometimes it’s trial, trial, trial, error and trial again. I do very much enjoy the challenges (most of the time) and proving over and over again that you can teach an old witch new tricks!
This weekend I have propagated plants that grew nice root systems ready to be planted and find forever homes. I have some custom orders as well as apothecary products to make and get in the shop. Yule is coming! I’ve got a garden to clean up, compost to tend to and winter seeds waiting to be planted. I have lots more preserving of food and getting the toiletries and cleans stocked up for winter. I’ll be making and canning dog food as well. Our pups do get kibble, store bought for now. I’ll be making that soon and eliminating the cost of store-bought dry food. It’s getting expensive to buy organic dog food.
What are you doing to prepare for winter? What lessons have you learned? What ingenious ideas have you tried and had success with? What are you sharing with your tribe? I’d love to hear about your homesteading journey!