Spring Break on the Homestead

Spring is here! My yard is full of blooms, the trees are blooming, we are planning to get some baby chicks soon, and… it was snowing a couple of days ago.

In Kentucky spring can be a wild weather season. It might be 70 degrees tomorrow, but today it feels like winter. We have several limbs down in the yard from the gusty winds that are blowing cold fronts in and out. The growing things are becoming more green, including my garden that is waiting to be tilled up. I have a long list of homestead jobs, chores, and spring break goals. Like most of the spring breaks that I have spent in Kentucky, it will be a week with a few warmer days, a few rainy days, and a few colder days. You never get bored with the weather here in the Bluegrass State. In order to keep the homestead productive, I try to always be learning, planning, and/or working regardless of the weather. Most of my goals and dreams are steps to make my homestead more self-sufficient, or in other words, expand my DIY skills. Recently I have been researching affordable, small DIY greenhouses, composting, and fermentation. Over spring break I will be working on combining the first two with free wood pallets. A couple of Christmases ago, I was given a small greenhouse made with plastic covering. I enjoyed moving my seedlings into the greenhouse and actually had some plans to use the space more often this year. However, the strong Kentucky winds shredded the zippers. I replaced them and the wind still destroyed the new zippers! And if a greenhouse is not enclosed it is useless. So I am working on building a more permanent solution that will provide me with space outside of the house to start seeds, and possibly over-winter more greens like spinach and kale. I will blog about my progress with the greenhouse project after I complete the build. Who knows? It might not work out. Not everything I try on the homestead is a success. I already have tomatoes and pepper plants that are growing well inside my home while waiting on the last threat of frost here in Kentucky, in order to be planted. During some of our colder weather I have been experimenting with the fermentation of foods. I recently successfully made apple cider vinegar, though my first attempt ended in lovely blue molded apples. If you don’t succeed you can try, try again, like the old saying goes. The whole process of making the vinegar took about a month. The end result was surprising to me – the flavor was delightful! The apple undertones to the vinegar were stronger than what I have experienced with store bought vinegar.

I told my homesteader husband that I have saved us a whole dollar by making my own vinegar. When he is not a homesteader husband, he is a tax auditor, and he loves a dollar saved. There are usually a variety of experiments in progress here on the homestead. Soon I will blog more about my greenhouse project, kraut making, and share more from my Stella series. I hope you enjoy the spring pictures of the homestead. Here are the instructions for making homemade apple cider vinegar in case you’d like to try it. If you have a jar and some leftover apple parts you can make your own, homestead not needed.

Simple Apple Cider Vinegar

Equipment needed:

  • quart jar or larger with regular mouth (no large mouth jars)
  • Apple scraps, enough to fill jar up to ¾ full
  • Non-Chlorinated water
  • sugar or honey
  • Coffee filter
  • Rubber band

Instructions:

  • Place your apple peels and scraps in a clean regular mouth glass jar. This is a great use of apples that have maybe passed their prime or have little bad spots. I like that even the peel gets used to make something.
  • Fill the jar about ¾ of the way full
  • Mix one tablespoons of sugar per cup of water. Don’t skip the sugar. The process of making vinegar needs the sugar. (you can use honey).
  • Pour the mixture of water/sugar over the apples until they are covered. Do not pass the lip of the jar, you need room at the top of the jar.
  • Place the coffee filter over the jar and secure with a rubber band
  • Place jar in a cool spot of the house out of direct sunlight
  • Every other day take a chopstick or something similar and poke the apples down into the liquid so that they take turns being submerged, this prevents mold from growing. 
  • After two weeks remove coffee filter and strain liquid
  • Return the strained liquid to the jar and replace the coffee filter, leaving in a cool dark spot covered for another two-four weeks. 

Thank you for reading.

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