I adore my old Singers. I have a 128 treadle, a Featherweight, and a 401A. (I also have a bunch of others in various states of reconstruction; as they get restored, they’re going to people in my local community who lost everything in the Almeda wildfires this summer.) The 401 has all the fancy stitches I will ever actually use and it’s easy to use and maintain. The 403 Singers were designed for home ec classes in the 60s—if you can find one, that’s what I’d recommend. Love them.
I hate the boiling water/ice bath method of skinning tomatoes; it's messy and too fussy for not enough benefit for my taste. I'm usually making both sauce and diced tomatoes or salsa at the same time, so here's my process:
1. Blend the everloving crap out of cored, trimmed, but unpeeled tomatoes in the Vitamix. (We bought a new one two years ago after my mom's 1963 avocado-green model died.) Start simmering that down for sauce. Can when it's about 2/3 of the original volume.
2. Cut tomatoes in half, lay them cut-side down on a cookie sheet, and broil for 5-7 minutes. Let cool for a few. The skins slip right off. Those also get blended up and added to the sauce. The tomatoes are then either diced (for canning) or tossed in the food processor (for salsa).
3. Collapse in a heap after canning all day.
I've found that I used diced tomatoes more often than sauce, so I do more of the crop in that form. My marinaras and other tomato-based sauces all usually cook for quite some time, so having them cook down a bit more isn't really a problem.
It took some time, but the barn is up, the insulation boards create a ceiling, and the bunnies are in! Took them a couple of days to settle in, but they are starting to be more comfortable and active now. Since it's been so warm here, I put a big box fan in the barn to help with air movement and cooling and stuck a mister that we already had a couple of feet in front of it. Ta da, sorta-kinda swamp cooler. The temps have been lower in the barn than outside, so it's a step in the right direction.
Thanks for this, Pearl! Since my phone and a small additional electronic piece form a part of my pancreas, it's super important that I have pockets. I've been adding patch pockets to some clothing, but it's not always a good match for all clothing styles. This will help immensely, and now I don't have to figure it out for myself!
I was going to post a "this story contains poop" warning, but then I remembered that this is Permies and I've seen very robust threads on humanure, so just gonna tell the story.
I'll start by saying that no cats suffered any permanent damage. Pretty much, everyone turns out fine except me. Our alpha cat, Ducati, has a penchant for eating things he really oughtn't. Years before reusable bags became A Thing, I'd banned plastic grocery store bags from entering the house because Ducati would somehow use his extra cat senses to discover that one was in the house. Within 30 seconds, he'd be there munching on it. It was far easier to avoid the situation than to try to dissuade him; no matter where you hid them, he would find them!
One day I come home from work to find Ducati sitting, uncharacteristically, in the middle of the floor and looking very thoughtful. A Pooh-stuck-in-Rabbit's-hole kind of thoughtful. An I-probably-shouldn't-have-eaten-that thoughtful. I still had my mind wrapped around work, so I figured it was a Cat Thing and moved on about my business.
A few minutes later, there was unhappy yowling. And then a lot of racing noises of both cats Nascaring it down the hardwood floor of the hallway, skidding around corners. And Ducati is still yowling. I step out in the hall and see Ducati running back down the hall, but there's something apparently stuck to him and the kitten is chasing whatever it is that is stuck to him. Yowl is full bore and sounding frantic now, so I grabbed Ducati as he tries to make the corner and get past me. As I swoop him up, the kitten is now jumping up and swatting at whatever it is that's stuck to Ducati.
Correction. Whatever it is that's trailing from Ducati's butt.
Ducati's amazingly calm with any kind of health procedure (pills, trimming his nails, baths, whatever). He's quite trusting and usually just puts up with whatever you're doing, so, fortunately, he stopped yowling once I got hold of him and didn't fight me. Kitten still jumping and swatting at... Oh.
Apparently, Ducati ate some of my yarn. And now there's about six inches of poop-covered yarn, with a nice poop tassel on the end, that he's passed, but he apparently couldn't get the rest out. So I turn him around and start very gently and slowly (because if it's impacted, I want to be able to tell before I'm pulling intestines!) pulling yarn from the wrong end of my cat like he's the world's worst party favor. There's...quite a lot of it. Yards. He's not best pleased with this procedure and starts in again with the weird throaty yowling. And as I'm pulling, the kitten continues to jump up and try to grab it, because kitten. She's determined, she's fast, and in the end she's successful, grabbing a loop of crap-covered yarn. This is where things really went downhill.
I'm still in the hall. Kitten seizes on her excremental prize and starts racing away with it. And I really can't do much because the whole scenario has kind of overwhelmed my senses. Before I know it, she reaches the end of the slack and is now pulling more yarn from Ducati The Feline Yarn Ball at a frightening speed. The last bit releases (thankfully, no impaction or other intestinal damage and he was ok) and now she's blazing around the entire house with about five yards of Satan Brand Fecal Yarn trailing behind her. Ducati, now blessedly yarn-free, wants to know why I'm still holding him and starts the usual efforts that cats make to free themselves of unwanted human clutches. I'm bleeding, the house smells like a catbox, the alpha cat is pissed off, the kitten is now merrily playing with her prize on what was a clean kitchen floor, and there are suspicious brown smears all. over. everything. EVERYTHING.
At that point, my husband walks in the front door with a hearty, "Hi! So, how was the day?"
I'm also hugely introverted and completely understand the drain that a lot of unstructured, uninvited small talk can be. We have one rather nosy neighbor down the lane who tends to want to comment on something or other as she drives by if I'm out in shouting distance (we live at the intersection of our lane and the main road, so literally everyone drives past our house all the time). I was working through a huge pile of aged horse manure by the driveway, sifting out rocks. The day was hot and I was sweaty and cranky. She drove up, rolled down her window, and said, "Whatcha doing?" I unthinkinly responded with a literal, "Sifting horse shit."
She hasn't stopped by lately to chat. I wonder why.
Pretty excited—I found a steam canner on Marketplace for about a third of what they go for new. Made the first batch of juice tonight and it’s so gorgeous! It’s a little flat tasting, but it’ll work beautifully as a pectin in with other fruit or concentrated down to a syrup and mixed with a bit of lime. And it was so easy! Hooray!
I’ve lurked on Permies for years now, but BBs were the catalyst to actually getting me posting. I’m one of those people that’s motivated by structured challenges, so I love the concept. I started with ones that I pretty much already know how to do and then I’m slowly working through others that feel like they’re just a little bit of a stretch for me (Zone of Proximal Development for any of you trained educators out there).
There is no way for me to complete the PEP on 0.44 acres and working full time at a job I love and find important to the world. Many of the BBs just aren’t applicable and that’s fine. I’d really love, though, to see PEX more fully developed, because that does seem like it might be within my reach—and as I said before, that’s motivating for me to participate in.
The forum structure mean you have to be pretty determined to find and complete badges. The PEP tracker helps, definitely, but I still have to wade through the forums to find instructions, log completion, etc. An app is one way to solve this, though not the only way. If that is chosen, I hereby volunteer to help test it (I do software quality assurance for a living, so I’m pretty familiar with trying to break shit and documenting it).
Other experiments I’ve tried with these included not pitting them, such as whole pickled plums (with chai spices, which was tasty) and straight-up canning them with a very light syrup. They were ok, but the very high pit-to-flesh ratio of them makes for effortful eating. I’m lazy and don’t like my eating to involve that much work. 🙂 I was the only one who ate these.
I will definitely be sharing the excess with the community, Bihai. Love the idea of including recipes! These will probably be my first item on the planned Free Food stand by the road this year.
Some interesting ideas here. I’m thinking the steam juicer and whole brined options might fit with the low labor aspect I’m looking for. (I make jam/plum butter with these about every two years because we just don’t use it fast enough; this is a no-jam year.) I hate seeing all this free fruit That we do absolutely nothing to maintain go to waste, so definitely keep those ideas coming!
Hoping for some creative solutions to turn this excess into a valuable resource. I’ve been breaking my head over this dilemma for the past five years and now it’s time to infuse some new ideas.
I have plums.
I have plums like a stray dog has fleas.
Native plum trees, the kind with the tangy fruit about the size of the top joint of your thumb, surround two sides of my back yard. The ones on the short side are on our property, but the ones on the long side are on the neighbor’s. Roughly 20 trees, all told. And in a couple of weeks, they’re all going to come ripe. We’ve already got fruit falling, but soon it will be lots of squishy fruit.
I make some jam with it, which is tasty but the process of removing the pits is incredibly laborious. I cook it down and then use a food mill, picking out all the pits with a spoon as they start clogging the mill. I’ve tried using a cherry pitter, as the plums are about the same size as a large cherry, but the stones are a bit bigger than cherry stones and it ends up a frustrating, even more laborious mess. And frankly, we just don’t eat enough jam to warrant that amount of work. I’ve also made BBQ sauce and Asian-inspired plum sauce, but same issue—not enough use for the amount of labor it costs.
My goals for this:
* low labor investment
* doesn’t involve brewing alcohol, as I’ve had some spectacular failures in this arena and I’ve promised the spousal unit I will not be doing that again
* creates a usable product, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be food
* low sugar, if it is food/drink
Ideas? I did check out a (previous thread But those mostly centered on umeboshi and similar products, but the labor for the sheer volume we are talking about here is untenable.
We’re in the process of building the shelter for our rabbits and don’t have them yet, but the breeder we are getting them from leaves a radio on NPR (so a mix of talk and varied music types) on in her rabbit barn all the time. She said this was to help desensitize them to noise.
Been wondering about herbs that would be helpful in supporting recovery/soothing symptoms of gluten exposure for those of us with either celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Demulcents, like mallow, perhaps? A GI-active anti inflammatory like plantain? What think you, gentle people?
This is a nifty tool, Daniel! Thanks for offering this up to the community. I suspect I tend to overdo on the alcohol in tinctures because I want to ensure their shelf stability and this will help me better balance them.
This spring has been a process of proving what doesn’t work, apparently. The hundreds of seeds I started in 3/4” soil blocks all got drowned in mud when I accidentally left the cover off the tray. The replacements, in 2“ blocks, roasted when I didn’t remove the germinated blocks from the heat mat. Seedlings didn’t do well in the raised beds; earwigs ate all but one of my perennial kale grex from EFN, the Shantung radishes from SSE bolted at 2” high and no root to speak of, and the dragon carrots that self-seeded were so fibrous they were inedible (though excellent biomass in the compost, so not a complete loss). The asparagus never came up.
I have tried so many new things this year, put in a whole bunch of exciting perennials, and expanded the grow space over 300%, so I can’t be too upset.
The other thing to consider, especially if you will be storing your tinctures, is the water content of your herbs. It’s very hard to estimate what that will be, which can affect the water/alcohol balance and thus the shelf life of your tincture. If you want to be certain, dried is safer.
Three years in a row, an increasing number of my tomato plants disappeared from my garden. 12...boop, boop, boop...9...and so on. I was so puzzled, because it was only the tomatoes and always when they were getting to be about 9 - 12 inches tall. Arrrgh.
Then I found the first tunnel under a disappeared tomato.
We have tomatoes in raised beds with hardware cloth on the bottom now. It was the only way.
William Bronson wrote: The solid roofing will heat up from the sun and then radiate heat into the space beneath it.
If that space includes your rabbits, they will get hot as well.
To build an "attic" lay 2x4's across the horizontal parts of the carport frame and screw them to the tubing with long self tapping screws.
Attach insulative board, foil side up to the top of the 2x4s, with screws and fender washers.
Close in the open ends of the frame that form triangles with mesh to keep out wildlife but allow air flow.
Cap your roof with a ridge vent and you should have decent convection air flow through the attic.
Add a solar powered fan if you want but that might be overkill.
If you want to use the attic for drying/storing hay, screw your fan boards to the bottom of the 2x4s and plywood on the top and frame a hatch into the floor.
I would NOT put any of your own body weight into the attic floor, but it should hold hay just fine.
Aha! I get it. Thanks for that detailed explanation. I was wondering about potentially using an "attic" space for hay storage so that I can keep things close and easy to access. Any fire concerns or nutrient loss concerns with keeping hay up there? I realize that hay barns have used the upper portion for...a long time...but I also have witnessed our neighbor's barn catch fire from spontaneous combustion of their hay attic. (Granted, they were not the most observant or careful of farmers, but still, would like to avoid that outcome.) Additional bonus of what you've laid out here is that that mesh is cheaper and will be easier to cut and install than shiplap. I'm going to have a fair bit of babysaver wire left on this roll after building my cages, so, hey, already available.
On a semi-related topic, has anyone used wool for insulation? I'm thinking that might be workable for the walls. I've seen some info on alpaca fiber used as insulation, but I've got a good and inexpensive source of wool here locally.
Thanks, Christopher! I must have been watching the video and posting response while you were posting. I was wondering about how much power we’d need in a panel to run the fans, so this is super helpful.
Helpful video; thank you! Shade, check. Orientation, check. Fan....that one I’m still puzzling over. Had a brain wave last night about making the north wall out of 2x3 goat wire and not putting any cages on that side (so the darn varmints can’t reach through to grab bunny parts) for maximum air flow. Has anyone found a solar-powered fan that’s powerful enough for a shed that size? Preferably under a hundred bucks, but it would be more expensive to lose rabbits than to pay for a fan that does the job.
We’re in the process of designing a 10 ft x 14 ft rabbit barn, using a carport A-frame structure as the genesis. We’ll secure it to the ground, add corrugated roofing, and, for predator barrier reasons, are looking at using lap siding. We have a LOT of skunks and raccoons here. Construction plans came together much more quickly after the spousal unit remembered we had this frame already and I found an Instructable for adding the roofing! The floor will remain dirt for urine absorption and vermicomposting.
What I’d really love some input on is cooling. Most of our summer is above the 85F degree mark during the day, which, as we know, is bad news bears for bunnies. We want to to this without running power. The oak and photinia are to the south of the barn, so that side is shaded starting at about 10am. I’m not a big fan of vinca, but it’s there and we can encourage it up the east side of the barn. I’ll plant something tall and sun-grabbing on the west side for shade. The doors will be to the north so they can be opened during the day for lots of air flow. Considering a solar fan; anyone have a favorite model? Would love some input on what others have done or ideas to keep our rabbits cool.
I plant radishes for two reasons: near-instant gratification in early spring when I just want to see veggies growing, and these pickles.
Radish pickles- makes 1 quart
Bunch of radishes. Maybe two bunches. Enough to nearly fill a quart jar.
Spices. I use 2 tsp each dill seed and mustard seed, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, and 2 cloves garlic.
Brine: 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt, 2 cups water (dissolve salt in water)
Spices go in the bottom of the jar. Then pack in the radishes. Place glass weight. Pour in brine and add “pickle pipe” top and jar ring. Start testing at 3 days and place in fridge when they are about as sour as you want them.
There are so many options that it’s difficult to give a single answer. Do you want to spin plant fiber or animal fiber? Do you want something portable? How much are you wanting to spend? You know...it depends! 😉
You will probably be able to find an Ashford Traditional (“Traddy “) for sale used in your area—they’re quite common, and for good reason. They’re solid wheels, easy to understand, lots of good tutorials for them, and easy to find parts for should you need them. I was given one by a friend, and it was a good beginner wheel for me until I knew more of what I wanted. I now have a Spinolution Echo that I adore and a couple of Electric Eel electric wheels that are fantastic when my hips/knees are too cranky for treadling.
If looking at Craigslist or other classified-type listings, be careful of the SWSO (spinning wheel shaped object). These were produced in the 70s as decorative objects but are absolutely not functional. Make sure that the wheel turns true and doesn’t wobble, that the bobbin and flyer are separate from one another, and that the flyer has an orifice. If the wheel isn’t a known brand, make sure there’s at least 3 bobbins; bobbins from handmade or unknown sources can be very hard (expensive) to reproduce accurately and you’ll need at least 3 bobbins to ply your yarn.
Enjoy your search! It’s fun to dream about new tools.
Raspberry is a very high-acid fruit, so it’s very forgiving to work with. Recipe:
6 cups previously frozen raspberries
3/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp. citric acid (helps with gelling when not using lots of sugar)
4.5 Tbs. low/no sugar pectin
3/4 cup water
Mix water, pectin, and citric acid with berries over medium heat. Once it starts to come to a boil, add honey. Bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Put in hot jars with 3/4” headspace and process for 10 minutes. Don’t start timing until the steam has been exiting the side vent for at least 8 minutes or the temp gauge on your canner is appropriate for your elevation.
I’ve got a couple from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They’re well-constructed, sturdy, and easy to use. The 2” are very versatile for all but the largest seeds. Not crazy about the 3/4” ones. Seemed like a nice idea for saving space on a heat mat for germination, but they were so fiddly to construct and melted away with any sort of watering.
I’ve been making bread since I was 5. But I’ve had to make a change recently since finding out I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and gluten free baking is a whole other universe. So I’m glad that this BB gave me the nudge (and a recipe) to tackle a yeast bread! I used the gluten-free recipe in the original post: easy gluten-free peasant bread.
I think I need smaller bowls, though, to get a taller bread. Wasn’t gummy, had a yeasty taste, and the spousal unit actually went back for thirds.
Glad it was helpful! The muslin bags are approximately the length of my leg from mid-thigh to ankle—wanted enough room in them so I wasn’t having to reach in and stuff anything down. How do I know it’s that long? Wellllll...I had a muslin makeup from a trousers pattern I was trying out. Just cut the legs off it, stitched the ankle portion and added a casing and drawstring at the top, and voilá! I imagine it would be easy enough to do the same with a worn out pair of pants.
Just before the whole TP crisis started, we added a bidet under-the-lid attachment to the toilet and started using what we call "under-chassis chamois" that I made from a 30+ year-old flannel sheet. I cut it into 12" x 6" rectangles, sewed up the three edges leaving a space to turn them right side out, then topstitched around the entire perimeter. Result is a double-thick, very worn flannel that's large enough but not too bulky.
After a bit of spray, we use the cloth to dry the bits and then drop said cloth in a muslin bag that hangs next to the toilet. Every two to three days we wash them in hot water and dry on hot as well (like we used to do for the littl'uns' cloth diapers) - shake the bag out into the washer, drop bag in washer, and go. We have two bags, so if one is in the laundry the other is available for service. No smells, no issues. Bacteria really like moist environments, so my theory was to reduce the moisture potential as much as possible; that seems to be holding up. Softer and significantly stronger than TP and overall quite pleasant to use. Feels like an upgrade to make the switch. Spousal unit has only once habit-thrown a cloth into the toilet and has been exceedingly careful to avoid that experience a second time. <grin>