unusual request: penpal or will work for knowledge.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by outofmire, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2003

    I'm a new homesteader in need of some teaching. We are interested in the old ways of living without electricity and producing most of our own food with little dependence on cash so that my husband can come home.

    We've been living without electricity for the past 8 months, and we've learned a lot, but there's so much more to learn. For example, I've learned some about cooking on my wood cookstove, but I still burn baked goods most of the time. We have learned some about living without a refrigerator, but don't know much about preserving meat. We've read the books, but we are wanting to get in touch with those individuals who don't always go by the books. I have the book knowledge; I'm lacking the experience or anyone around me with the experience.

    I'm looking for someone who is living without electricity and is trying to produce most their own food. I'd really love it if someone would let me come out to their homestead where I could help work and simultaneously learn. It would have to be a small stay because I do have small children, a husband, and animals. Also, since I'm a woman, I'm looking for a woman to help. I live in Arkansas, and would be willing to travel to a bordering state in this endeavor.

    I'm also looking for penpals.....maybe someone to teach me, and also someone I can help. I know most of you have the Internet, but we don't. So I really need someone to snail mail with. Maybe some of you knows someone else like me without electricity who would like to snail mail with a Christian, homeschooling, and homesteading family.

    My email address is:

    It may take me awhile to respond since we don't have Internet access at home.

    Thank you,
  2. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Manitoba, Canada
    Welcome Shae!!!

    You're going to find that a lot of us KNOW how to do what you're asking, but choose not to! I *LIKE* my refrigerator, but I could live without it if I had to.

    You can't live completely without cash. If nothing else, there are the two constants: death and taxes. Both cost real money. So the first thing I would suggest is that you and your DH figure out something that he (or you) can do from home. Ken Scharabok (Sorry, Ken, I think I spelled that wrong!), a member of this forum, has a WONDERFUL ebook on making money from home. Your library will also be a resource. Sit down and make a list of all the things you and your husband are skilled at, or can learn easily. Then go through the list and figure out if there is a niche market in your area for any of it.

    Living without electricity for 8 months! Wow. Even without a generator or solar? I admire you. Many here have done it -- I don't think it's something I'd want to do permanently, but hey, good for you!

    There is an excellent book out there called "Woodstove Cookery" -- I think it's available through the Countryside Mag website (www.countrysidemag.com) which will give you all the juice you need on cooking with a wood cookstove. I grew up in a home with a wood cookstove, and baked my first bread in one. Regulating the temperature was an issue for me, too! My mom used to stick her hand in the oven to test for temperature. She said that the heat had to make your cuticles feel tight to be right for bread.

    Meat can be preserved through drying, freezing, canning (pressure only!) or salting or pickling. It can also be preserved, cooked, in it's own lard in buckets or barrels, but personally, I don't think I'd try this one. An excellent book on preserving meat is also available at the countryside mag website -- it's called "The Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing and Smoking of Meat, Fish and Game". In my experience, if you weren't canning it or freezing it (with electricity and a freezer) the best way to ensure your meat didn't rot was to wait until after freezeup to slaughter it, and hang it somewhere the critters couldn't get to it, then pray you didn't get a thaw. You could also concentrate on small livestock like rabbits and chickens, and not worry about keeping them fresh -- just slaughter and eat as needed.

    I admire you for your ambition in this. I can't offer you a place to stay and learn, as I'm not doing what you appear to intend, but you do have my whole-hearted support. Go for it, learn all you can. The acquisition of knowledge about anything is always worthwhile.

    Good luck to you!


  3. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Yes, without a generator or solar. We have used ice and ice chests, but recently are learning we don't need it. We wash our clothes by hand some and then also do some at my inlaws when we have to get water and run errands.

    we have that book as well as another book on the subject.

    That's a good idea.

    We have this book also. Unfortunately, the instructions involve either the use of a freezer, refrigerator, or sustained temps that we just don't have here in Arkansas. Furthermore, according to all the drying techniques, it's too humid here. I can't believe the old timers just didn't preserve meat.

    That is what we've been trying to do. Have the chickens now; just need to butcher our first one.

  4. breezynosacek

    breezynosacek Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    I'll be more than happy to correspond with you. I PM'd you.
  5. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 21, 2004
    I can advise you about the smoking of hams and bacons. Pork properly smoked at low temps will last almost indefinatly. The hard pard is brineing temp. Bacon can brine in a week, but hams need about 3 weeks at 45 degrees. If winter temps hang around 45 you should be able to pull this off. I would also suggest pressure canning, you can keep meat for years this way.
  6. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2003
    Central New York
    cooked pork packed in lard crock
    fish stored in a crock of brine
    jerky and pemican
    dried sausage and hams
    canned meats and veggies
    plenty of wild game

    get the mayo, catsup, salt and pepper, powdered milk, coffee, sweet and low or sugar, maple syrup, relish, mustard, soy sauce, jams and jellys, peanut butter, sauces and other condiments in individual servings from fast food places or buy them by the case. Needs no refridge eat what you open. waste less too
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 19, 2002
    Northeast Ohio
    We had an old stove and used to put a brick or two in the oven to help regulate the temperature. But even then we had to turn the bread end for end half way through the baking process to get good loaves.

  8. MTNwomanAR

    MTNwomanAR Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2002
    Winslow, Arkansas
    Shae, good luck to you on your endeavors.... I've been living without electricity for almost 9 years... I can't help you much on the preserving food............. I do have a generator, but I don't use it very often...more in the winter.... I cook in the winter on my little two burner stove. I haven't much experience in the baking department..................................although an ex boyfriend of mine had a little coleman oven, that sat on top of the wood stove, and it worked very well.......
    So, it appears that you are coming to the fall picnic on the buffalo?? I am looking forward to meeting you....... always glad to meet new people that are trying to live the life....I agree that one cannot live totally without cash, BUT, we CAN get to where we need way, way less than what most of us use now.......... I know that I plan on it..... the only real cash outlay I will [hopefully] have in the future is my land taxes, which are only 30 dollars a year on 40 acres...... I can sell one photo to pay that......... :)
    Good luck!!
    BTW-if you want to write me, I'll pm you my snail mail addy.... I like snail mail........ :)
  9. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 29, 2004
    Seems like a while back someone on here mentioned using an old refirgerator buried in the ground to keep food cool.

    I have also read that unfertilized farm fresh eggs can be kept for longer than you would expect without refrigeration. I've been told that you should not wash them. I guess the U.S. is one of the few places in the world that refrigerates them. There are apparently many ways to keep them longer such as coating with various substances (such as vaseline) and storing in bran.

    Canning seems the way to go for your situation. Get together with a like-minded person in your area and share the expenses. I have even heard of canned sausage patties that taste just like they were fresh cooked.

    I would stay away from making clothes (just my opinion) since you can buy stylish clothing for cents on the dollar at yard sales. My girls are dressed in name-brand, nice-looking clothing and if they tear or stain it playing outside, we will probably just throw it away since it probablky costs 25 cents!

    We are in the process of getting a miniature Jersey milk cow that will likely give 1-2 gallons of milk a day. There would not be too much of a storage problem there. Whatever you didn't use by the end of the day could be fed to the chickens.

    Kerosene lamps apparently burn clean as long as the wicks are trimmed correctly.

    My wife and her family used an outhouse exclusively for over twenty years. From what I hear, it never plugged or backed up, either!

    Just some ideas.
  10. Natureschild

    Natureschild Well-Known Member

    Oct 14, 2003
    When I was about 11yrs my mom bought a house/property that had a nice wooden garden shed with a large chest freezer burried in the ground and had its door in addition to two wood doors(shed had a wood floor) over it. The neighbour said it was used to store produce year round. It was about half full of water,and felt very cold when I peeked in, and then my mom had the hinges taken off those doors and nailed them down so that noone(mainly me :haha:) would fall in and get trapped.
    And thats my only experience with freezers in the ground. Or with anything really.
    Im in the read-all-you-can and do little experiments with what you got, so that one day I can homestead for real.

    OP- have you heard of WWOOF? you might find what you are looking for with this organization.
  11. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    May 20, 2004
    SE Missouri
    Shae, have you checked into making a solar food dehydrator? There are some very good plans around. If you want I'll see if I can relocate them.
  12. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

    Oct 20, 2003
    Also, you can make a solar box cooker (fun to use.. no wood needed!) from newspaper, cardboard and ?? hmm.. I think that was it.. maybe a little styrofoam. and foil. :D (I love mine!)