Thursday, August 25, 2016


Yesterday I was very busy all day long.
I had selected the next tree to be turned into firewood, a good sized maple, about two feet in diameter, out in back of the wood shed a good distance. That area is very overgrown, so first I needed clear a path, for a couple of reasons.
First, I will need a clear path to get away from the tree when it starts to go over. Falling a tree is dangerous. Things go wrong, trees get hung up, a breeze comes up at the wrong moment and the tree goes in an unexpected direction, the tree is rotten in the middle and it collapses. A limb hits a nearby standing tree and comes back at you, the tree hangs up on another tree and kicks back on you. If any of these things happen you can end up dead or badly injured, so first and foremost safety needs to be your constant companion.
The second reason is to be ale to access the area to carry the wood out in the wheelbarrow. I don't have any heavy equipment, so that means doing things the old fashioned way. Muscle ans sweat.
When felling a tree you need to consider a couple of things. First of all, is it leaning in one direction or the other. If it is, that is the direction it is going to go. If it is more or less vertical, choose the direction you want it to go. Make a horizontal cut the direction you want it to fall. Make a slanting cut upward below the first cut so you can remove  a pie shaped piece of the tree about 1/3 of the way through the tree.
Then make another cut about a little less than half way through the tree on the opposite side of the tree. Remove the saw. Insert a felling wedge in the side opposite the pie cut. Sledgehammer the wedge into the cut. With any luck the wedge should supply enough to provide enough push start the tree going over. If not, you may need to make a plunge cut at the side of the pie cut .
Just be ready to move in any direction. Remember that whole clear a path thing?
So after felling a good sized maple yeaterdy, I started cutting it into rounds for splitting. and started splitting the rounds into firewood.
I finally got to the point where I could hardly generte enough force to split the rounds, so it was time to call it a day.
Today I am a little sore, but mainly it is too hot to go out and do hard physical labor, so it didn't take too much encouragement for me to take a dy off.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Purple Pod Beans

Today I was putting up purple pod beans for the freezer.
I don't think purple pod beans are substantially different than regular green beans except for the color. Even that moderates with cooking, since they change color when they cook to green. A slightly different shade than regular beans, but not a big difference.
You might wonder why purple pod beans.
As with most things, there is a back story.
Over on the farm in Idaho, the growing season was very short, so any crops have to be short season crops, and through time and experience we settled on purple pod beans because they are a good producing short season crop, and they preserve well. They also require very little attention.
I planted about a dozen plants and have eaten beans for the last month, so now I am putting aside some for this winter.
My mom used to can them, but I am not quite domesticated enough to take up canning. The idea is rattling around in my head, but I have not yet convinced myself to go but the equipment to actually get into canning. That is a door that once you go through there is no going back. I like the idea of having a reserve food source in case of  troubles.
I guess I am not a full fledged prepper, but have tendencies in that direction. With all the insanity and troubles in the world, I would like to be prepared "just in case"".
SO I have enough food for a couple of months, we can heat the house with wood, I have a small generator that can supply a limited amount of electricity, given some gasoline.
The one base I don't have well covered is water. We have a well, so as long as there is electricity, no problem. The well pump requires  220V, and my generator only is 110V so If the electricity goes out, no water.
For short term I have a food quality 55 gallon plastic drum filled with water. That would last for a short while, but I need to think about a longer term solution. The well is 180 feet deep, so it will need a pretty skookum pump. The hand pump systems I have seen that can draw water from that deep cost about $2,000.00, an investment I am reluctant to make. I need to read some more to see what I can McIver together out of old ball point pens and straws.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Blackberry Jam for Lunch

My lunch lately has been two slices of nine grain bread with real butter and my home made sugar free blackberry freezer jam. Of all of the jams and preserves in the world, my favorite has always been my favorite.
First of all let me be perfectly clear. It has to be made with the wild trailing blackberry. Not the Himalaya, not any variety found in the store. Only the kind that can only be gotten by personal labor. Second, I only make freezer jam (non cooked) jam. Once you cook the jam, you radically alter the flavor profile of the berries. Lastly, I make it with splenda, because I am diabetic. Splenda tastes the same as regular sugar, stands well to reparation, and measures the same as regular granulated sugar.
Mash up the berries. Get some pectin and combine it with some water and splenda. Let it boil then just blend in with the berries. Ladle it into freezer containers, put it into the freezer and it is good for a year.
I started picking berries at the beginning of June, and ended in the middle of July.
Actually I started much earlier, because I scouted the are where I pick when the first blossoms were on the vines. It is a lot easier to find the vines when they are in bloom. Keep a mental map of where the vines were and come back when the berries are ripening. I picked every other day during the season. I have made a gallon of jam and two gallons of berries in the freezer. Ought to be enough to get me through until next year.
Part of the motivation, besides my own pleasure is to have some jam for my mom. She is having her 90th birthday in November, and I can think of no present she would rather have than some home made blackberry freezer jam. She always picked berries, and we raised strawberries and raspberries. We augmented them with huckleberries and blackberries. I picked strawberries for money a few summers, so I have developed an aversion to all things strawberry. Raspberry remains my second favorite.
But nothing can bring the whole tumble and spill of memories like blackberry jam.
SO many positive memories of picking berries with mom, making jam. Like a little slice of the best of my life in every bite.