I have a couple of very simple homesteading projects I wanted to share with you. If you’re interested in getting started working on some projects on your piece of land, but have no idea where to get started with making any kind of preparations, these are two simple things you do:
- Ferment naturally-occurring plants. Learning about and then utilizing plants that are naturalized to your area (therefore they grow wild and are readily available) is a great way to get started on your property. For instance, you can make a pretty decent cup of tea with dandelion roots.
- In this case, I wanted to see if I could utilize the wild onions that sprout every spring in my yard. I tend to let my lawn revert to it’s natural, native state, and only cut the lawn when the city is on the verge of coming down on me. I pretty much let Mother Nature dictate what’s going to grow where. In this specific case, we have wild onions that grow in the yard. The bulbs grow to about the size of a ping-pong ball, but the bulbs are so strong, as to be inedible. They literally made me puke the first time I tried one. But I wondered…….”Could you ferment them to make them edible?” Fermentation changes the nature and makeup of food. And certainly, there could be nothing more organic than wild onions growing in the backyard. The lactobacillus bacteria will be plentiful on these. There are lots and lots of good guides on lacto-fermentation on the web. This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. The only point of this article is to get you to look at foods that may be growing in your backyard right now, in a different light. The fermentation process is super-easy. .All you need is saltwater, and……..that’s it. Dig the onions up, clean them up, cut off the tops, and wash them. Put them in a mason jar and fill to the brim with salt water. They make all different kinds of airlocks and weights for fermentation, but I don’t have any of that stuff. I just filled a clean mason jar to the brim with salt water and put the lid on, and then burp it every so often.
- It won’t take long before you start to see the biological activity begin. Maybe a few days to a week. It’s literally alive in there. You can see it. It bubbles and fizzes when you open the jar. I tried one of the onions after about 20-30 days. Now, look – It’s important to know: I’m NOT advocating serving fermented wild onions served as an appetizer before a romantic night with your sweetie. They’re still very strong. But the taste is pleasing, and tangy. Natural fermentation may provide you with an alternative way to eat healthy, natural, organic food right out of your own backyard.
- Another skill I’ve been working with in the last week has been cooking on natural firewood. In this case, because we live in Texas, I’ve got mesquite. I’m learning to cook on firewood. Why is this a homesteading skill?
- Cooking on firewood is not as easy as cooking on charcoal – The firewood has to be dried out. Green wood is very difficult to burn into hot coals. It’s hard to get lit and stay lit. The firewood will also have lots of very hot spots and some very cool spots – It burns unevenly. It can also be harder to light. You have to literally build a fire, starting with tinder, and then kindling, and then the fire. It’s not as easy as just squirting some lighter fluid on the pile of coals. And it takes a lot longer then you might think. If you’ve got a hungry tribe at 6:00 PM, you don’t want to start the fire at 5:00 PM. You want to build the fire much earlier in the day, so that there’s ample time to form coals. Don’t attempt to cook over the wood when it’s still “wood” and aflame – Better to wait until the coals are fully ashy.
- I only put the picture of the beer in there, because I was being cheeky with a friend.
Look, I get that this is not the same as getting hydro-electric power to your homestead. These are two very simple projects that you can implement almost immediately on your own property, and begin to take control over your own life and your own land.