Thursday, June 17, 2021

Preserving -vs- Quilting

 Quilting often has to take the backseat to chores.  We try to preserve as much as we can.  Some years it seems that's all I do in the warmer months.   So far this year it looks like it's going to be a light canning and preserving year.  Our garden is much smaller and we still have some leftovers from last year stored in the pantry and freezer.  

Yesterdays plan was to pick and freeze berries and peas.  Then can 3 gallons of milk, since the price of milk is supposed to get up to $6 a gallon by the end of the summer. 

 Last on the to-do list is put the border on the Camp Quilt.  I'll tell you right now, I never stepped foot in the Studio.  I still need to add the top and bottom borders to the quilt.

The peas were picked, cleaned and put in the freezer early in the morning.  Then it was time to take my girl(dog Khaleesi) for a long walk to wear her out so she would nap while I picked berries.  She needs to be leashed on the far side of the property where the berries grow.  This is for her safety and the neighbors dogs safety.  I can't pick berries if I'm holding a leash.  

One would think picking berries would be a chore.  But I find it to be very therapeutic.  Out here in Podunk it's super quiet.  All you hear is the birds chirping.  Most of the time I pick to the sound of nature but today I decided to put my phone in my back pocket and listen to an Audible book called "The Cancer Code" by Jason Fung.  It's been in my list for a couple of weeks but I just haven't gotten around to it.  I often listen to books these days since there's little time for real reading.  I can work and "read" at the same time.  Rarely do I "read" novels anymore.  For some reason I find them boring.  My go-to books are more educational in nature.  

Most of you know my mom died of cancer.  We've had 2 other family members die of cancer in recent years. I also have a cousin who has been battling cancer for over 10 yrs.  It keeps metastasizing and she keeps fighting.  She's only 46 years old.  So the topic of cancer I find quite interesting for good reason.  

Listening to books written by a doctor is much easier than reading due to the large words they like to use that I have no idea how to pronounce...HAHA!  Sad but true.  More often than not if I like the book I will also purchase a hard copy for referencing later.  I will also listen to the book more than once. It's easy to do while I clean, cook or quilt.  By the way this book is available on Amazon if your interested.  That's were I got it for free as an Audible with a 30 day free trial.  I never pay for Audible I just wait for another free 30 day trial and listen to another free book.  I told you a long time ago I'm a penny pincher!  HAHA!

It was an amazing day to spend outside in the woods picking berries.  Not to hot, not to cold.  The temperature was somewhere in the low 80's, which means out in the woods its below 80.  
Our berry patch is on the backside of the property.  I could take a short cut and go over the bridge but today is about getting things done and enjoying nature so I took the long way by going around the pond and over the dam.  Below is the path on top of the dam that makes our pond.  You can barely see the pond in the right hand side of the picture.

No hurry to get to the berry patch.  Just listening to Dr. Fung and enjoying the day.  The pond is looking pretty yukky right now due to pollen.  This is a real nature shot, not always picture perfect. A good rain will be all it'll take to clear the foggy glaze off the pond.  We try not o interfere too much with they way nature works, hence the overgrowth of trees and weeds.  Occasionally we'll trim them back.  But most of the time mother nature has a way of taking care of it all by herself.  Take for instance these orange Lilly's.  They used to line the dam on both sides.  They became overgrown with weeds and new trees then faded away for about 5 years. Then the trees choked out the weeds, the trees fell due to being to close to the pond and now are Lilly's are starting to bloom again.

Mother Nature knows what she's doing.  It may not always be so pretty but she's got more experience than me.

At the end of the dam I take a hard right and this is the berry patch area.  It's about as long as a football field and about half as wide.  This year instead of getting deep in the weeds and briars I will only pick what I can reach from the paths.  We should be able to harvest 2 or 3 gallons of raspberries and about the same of blackberries.  Only take what you need for a years supply.  This will be more than enough or us.  We don't need to make jam or jelly this year I have some in the pantry from years past.  So just enough for frozen berries and a batch of syrup of each berry.

The first pickin' is usually pretty small, but this is a good first pickin'.  I'll go back out in a couple of days to pick again.  The raspberries are cleaned and dried, place on a cookies sheet then put in the freezer as is.

They freeze super quick.  By late afternoon they are frozen solid and ready to be bagged. 

Normally they would be vacuum sealed after freezing but I don't have any vacuum bags.  I was trying to wait for a good sale on them.  A plain ole Ziplock will do until I can go into town for vacuum bags.  The silicone mat makes the transferring of the berries into the bag much easier.  Just slip one end of the mat into the bag and dump them in.  I used to use parchment paper instead of silicone mats.  I like the silicone mats much better.  They are sturdier and reusable.  A win win!

I do all of my frozen veggies and fruit the same way.   The FDA says to blanch almost everything before freezing.   I do not.  Why?  Because mom and granny never did and we never had an issue. 

 What most people don't know is most other countries don't have an FDA to make silly rules.  They are not dying of botulism.  And neither is anyone in the USA.  Research shows more people(almost all) that contract botulism get it from store bought FDA approved foods not home canned foods.  So I take the easy way out and do it how I was taught.  But by all means if you want to follow the guidelines you should.  I would never eat something that I was not comfortable eating and neither should you.  Are you surprised that I don't follow the canning rules?  Seriously, I don't follow to many rules, you should know that by now!...LOL!  No rules in quilting either!

Next it was time to can 3 gallons of store purchased milk.  Yep it to is a no-no if you follow rules.  If they can put it in a can and we can buy it, then why can't I can it myself? 

 If you would like to try this yourself here's a link to how it's done.

I'm not sure how we as humans survived before regulations.  You would think we were an endangered species by they way they regulate everything.  They also say you can't can some things without pressure.  That to is incorrect.  My daughter cans without one, it just takes longer.  The processing times for foods without pressure canners can be found in older canning books from the 1930's and 40's.  My daughter likes doing things the old fashion way.  I bought her the old canning books and a pressure cooker just to make her life a little easier.  I too like doing things simple sometimes but there's something to be said about saving time with a few modern conveniences.  Especially when you have 4 kids that you are homeschooling.  Does she use the canner?  Sometimes.

Well the milk is canned and will sit here on the counter until tomorrow morning.   Most home canners try to use up all stored canned goods within a year.  But that doesn't mean it will go bad after a year.  I've had home canned milk in my pantry for over 2 yrs.  And it taste just as fresh as the day I canned it.

After finishing up the milk and cleaning up the mess I was plum tuckered out.  Mr. Podunk is having leftovers for super!  We relaxed on the back porch for a bit then took Khaleesi for her unleashed evening walk.

We strolled around the property assessing the flower patches.  Not as pretty as a magazine but we are okay with it.  Growing big areas of flowers is not easy when you don't use chemicals.  We have learned to live with more weeds than most would tolerate.  

We didn't plant these Lillys in our roadside wildflower patch.  We had to cut down an old Cedar tree and this is what came up when we cut it down.  They had laid dormant for at least 30 years.  Thirty years ago is when Mr. Podunk bought this property and they were not there 30 years ago so it's been longer than that since they last bloomed.  Is it possible they just blew in somehow?  Maybe.  But I like to think someone way back when took the time to plant them.  Our property used to be an orchard long before the house was built in the early 1970's.  The last apple tree from the orchard died about 5 years ago.

The last flower to share with you is called Gaillardia, Mr. Podunk's favorite flower.   He just keeps planting more and more of them.  As with anything that is fighting to survive in a wild environment, some years we have a lot of these and some years we don't.  We will only assist their survival at a minimal level.   It makes us appreciate them a lot more when they do have a good year.

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  1. Learn something new, had never heard of canning milk. Why is your milk going sky high? I only pay $1.08 at our local Wal-mart in N. Alabama.

  2. Beautiful property! The deer don't get to your berries before you do??

  3. Where I live, you can't find had our

  4. Milk up to $6 this fall? It certainly won't be us dairy farmers receiving that windfall. I also can and freeze a lot of food. We rode out the pandemic with food from our freezer and canning shelves last winter. Since we have our own milk and eggs, I only needed to grocery shop approximately every 5 weeks and then it was for apples and other produce. Have a great day!

  5. that was quite a lovely tour of your large property. I get a strong message of your beliefs and respect for nature. Thanks for that and scratches to Khaleesi.
    I think before some regulations there was a lot of illness and people died of it. Stuff that can be avoided now. I also think there is knowledge from experience and doing that a lot of us do not have. My parents and grandparents didn't care enough about me to teach me what they knew for instance.
    There must be a reason there are tags on blow dryers that say do not use in the shower... some people must have zero common sense!
    we had stands of orange lillies in our Maryland yard, and wanted some gone, fuggetdaboutit! They could not be rid of so I just enjoyed them where they grew!!!
    do you have a big tick problem with all the nature around you? What about mosquitoes with the pond? I was amazed at some ponds that are so naturally balanced that they supported mosquito predators that kept them free of the pests!

  6. I watched one person, cannot remember who, when preparing a bag of (whatever) for the freezer they would stick the bag in a tub of water to get excess air out of the bag as they were were zipping the bag closed!

  7. Wow.... just wow - can I have some of your energy? I love your berry place and the photos are just gorgeous! I have never heard of canning milk - that is so cool for you to do!!

  8. I just discovered your blog and I am loving it! I think I found you while looking for quilt videos on you tube - I'm a new quilter (well, new quilt top maker, lol) but long time sew-er. I don't comment very much, but your talk of regulations made me laugh and reminded me of conversations my husband and I often have. We ignore lots of those 'rules' and have made it to our 60's just fine so far, lol. Thanks so much for your blog and quilt work, I'm looking forward to working my way back through all of your posts, and keeping up with future ones!


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