Apple season is winding down soon here in Oregon, and everywhere
I look, I see windfalls of red, green, and gold fruit.
Neighbors are just giving them away.
Naughty donkeys are sneaking into the orchard to steal as many
bites as possible before being caught...
And, so, like many others, we decided to do some canning. We
found out that our local tool rental company rents a cider press by
the day. For $25, we got a press with an electric grinder (I think
this made the process a lot easier), and a manual press. By the
way, if you think a project of pressing apples won't take all day
-- a couple of hours, we thought! -- I'm here to say otherwise. I
didn't even think we had that many apples... so it's definitely
something you should set aside plenty of time for.
Also plan for lots of stickyness.
We collected all the juice and heated it to a boil, then canned it
with a boiling water bath. An internet search will bring up any
number of ways to can cider, for the uninitiated (like me, before
this long, long, loooooong day of apple cider pressing...)
We have a number of places listed on Farm Stay U.S. that offer
cider pressing as an activity to enjoy on their farm, which
would also be a great way to get this experience!
Soon enough, the apples will be gone, and we'll be adding some
mulling spices (and maybe a little rum?) for a toasty drink around
the fireplace with friends. Happy fall!
When I decided to raise backyard chickens three
years ago, I consulted books and the internet, as it is so easy to
do these days. But books and web forums didn't prepare me when one
of our hens broke her leg. As a girl from the suburbs, whose only
real outdoor chores growing up were weeding a lawn or raking
leaves, I laugh now (and cringe a little) to recall our dash to the
vet's office to have them put a splint on that little chicken leg,
when, really, I could have handled it myself.
There's a self-sufficiency that comes from trying things on your
own, trial and error, and necessity. However, if we have the
foresight to seek help and knowledge from our community, we can
accomplish even more.
In Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a
Consumer Culture, author Shannon Hayes interviewed
Los Angeles homesteader Kelly Coyne who says, "you need community.
The best way to do any of this is to have someone show you how to
do it. I think a lot of these skills are not easily taught by
books, and when you're a person who's not been raised doing any of
these things, whether it's preserving or growing or dealing with
small stock, it's all very mysterious. You spend a lot of your time
going, "Well, what is this?" Like, "What's this spot on the plant,
why is my chicken doing that?"
Our farm, ranch, and vineyard members know about community, and
the importance of sharing knowledge. Guests can get started
learning a variety of skills straight from the farmers and ranchers
who practice them every day.
Check out these results from some Activity searches on our site:
Along these same lines, this September, Mother Earth
News and Grit magazines are
hosting International Homesteading Education
On their website, you can find workshops, open houses, and other
events, all centered around neighbors teaching neighbors and
building more self-reliant communities. Find events about food
gardening, renewable energy systems, raising livestock (including
backyard chickens), real food preparation and preservation, fiber
arts, and more.
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