Ray's Homesteading Ideas

A Gathering of Homesteading & Prepping Ideas

Flowers in the Yard April 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 6:42 pm

I’ve been working on putting out some flowers to give a little curb appeal to my home and to just make things feel like spring. Especially since spring took so long to get here this year.

I was looking for different ideas on what to do for flower containers outside, as I don’t want to invest a lot of money into expensive planters, but I still want something that looks nice. Well, I came across a neat idea on a blog called Life in a Little Red Farmhouse. The writer of this blog took some bright red feed buckets and planted flowers in them. So, I love this idea! Even if I bought new feed buckets, it is still more affordable than buying the window boxes, and the feed buckets will hang off of my porch railing easier.

I’m also wanting to do something different with the flowerbed on the side of my walkway up to the house from the driveway.

Photo from a few years ago:

sidewalk flowers

The flowers are pretty, but they aren’t very organized, it looks like a hot mess of exploded color.

My steps on my front porch are nice and wide, so I’m thinking about getting some small metal pails to use as flower pots and have a different type of flower for each step, maybe do a rainbow effect going up.

flowers in a bucket

Ah, I just love the look of flower growing in a bucket. And in a wheel barrow, I think I may have to go through the barn and see what all I have that can double as a planter for my flowers.



Cleaning Naturally February 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 5:34 pm

A few tips on how clean your home more naturally and keep chemical cleaners out of the house.

Windows: Use a mix of 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 1/4 cup water, mix in a spray bottle, spray mirrors/windows and wipe away with newspapers.

Create your own all purpose cleaner by using the aforementioned 1 part vinegar, 1 part water and put into a spray bottle.

Tub & shower cleaner: create a paste with 1 cup white vinegar (hot) and 1 cup Dawn blue dish washing detergent. Put into a spray bottle and shake to create your gel, spray and clean as usual.

Floors: add a splash of white vinegar to your warm water in your mop bucket.

Difficult dishes: use coffee grounds as a scouring scrub.

Laundry: I prefer powder so that’s the one that I’m sharing here, but if you prefer liquid a quick online search will yield a recipe for you to use.You will need: 4 cups baking soda, 3 cups washing soda, 2 cups castile soap flakes, and 3-4 drops of your favorite essential oil
To make: Take your castile soap and grate it into a container large enough to mix all your ingredients. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Place into an air tight container. I like to use canning jars. To use, scoop about 2 tablespoons of your laundry powder per laundry load.

natural cleaning


Kitchen Items for Food Prep & Storage February 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 6:17 pm

Food storage seems to be a hot topic lately. Many people are worried about food prices rising, especially with the way the economy has been. You can store extra food whether you’ve grown it yourself or just found a great deal at the super market.

Things you need in your kitchen to help you store food.

Food Dehydrator: Great for storing extra fruits and vegetables. I love making veggie chips using the dehydrator and a bit of seasoning. And dried fruit makes great snacks.

Pressure Canner: Pressure canners are great for canning food. And most can also double as water bath canners, just don’t seal the lid.

Canning Supplies: You’ll need jars, lids, rings, jar lifter, fruit pectin, etc. Although what you need for canning may be different from what I need, it just depends on how much you can and what types of food.

Vacuum Sealer: I love using these to keep foods in the freezer from getting freezer burn. Also helps to keep dry goods from gathering moisture.

I love using canning jars for more than just storing canned foods, I also use them store dried beans, nuts, dried fruits & veggies, and much more. So definitely stock up on those.

food prep tools


Storing Dried Beans and Grains February 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 6:33 pm

As with anything purchasing foods in bulk is a cheaper way to spend your grocery money. It may seem like a lot of money to invest at first, but sometimes the savings is mind blowing when  you look at cost per pound or ounce. But how do you store the extra food that you have left from buying in bulk? Let’s start with the easier bulk foods first, dried beans and grains.

One way I like to store my beans is by dividing them up by how much my favorite recipes call for and adding them all to a mason jar so that when I want to make, let’s say, 13 bean soup, I just grab my mason jar with those beans already mixed up in it and gather my other ingredients and get cooking. Saves a lot of time when I’m not measuring out 13 different beans every time I make this soup.

My sister-in-law stores large quantities than I do though. She has a restaurant in town that saves their large food grade buckets and containers for her to use. She washes the containers out and lets them dry REALLY well before putting her rice and other grains into them. By doing this she is getting free storage (awesome bonus!) while helping keep plastic out of the dump.

I know some people who store their beans in burlap sacks, but I worry about moisture and bugs with that route.

storing dried beans


Cleaning Cast Iron Cookware February 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 9:27 pm

Cast iron cookware has been around for a long time. It came in handy on the original homesteads that America saw. Cast iron cookware is highly durable. I have a few pieces that I inherited from my grandmother that still work like new.

Taking care of your cast iron will help to extend its life for the long term. Part of caring for it is cleaning it. I’ve always been told to never wash my cast iron in soapy water as this strips off the seasoning. The way my grandmother taught me to clean cast iron is to scrub it with a coarse salt and use a soft sponge to rub the salt around the pan or pot. The salt helps to absorb the oil in the pan and lift away any food particles.

If you’ve never owned cast iron cookware then you may wonder why the seasoning of the pan is so important. Cast iron is bad to rust, if you keep your pans seasoned this helps to keep the rust to a minimum (also storing in a dry area helps!). Also the seasoning helps to keep your food from sticking to the metal. Plus, well in my opinion, the seasoning of the pan makes the food taste better. Especially corn breads.

How do you clean  your cast iron?

cleaning cast iron


Getting Started with Homesteading February 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 6:43 pm

Are you one of the people out there who are tired of relying on the food industry giants and want to be able to be more self sufficient? If so then homesteading may be the path you should take. Following are a few pointers on how to get started with homesteading.

Don’t Bite off More than you can Chew: What I’m trying to say is start small. If you try to take on everything at once you are likely to get overwhelmed. Homesteading is a learning process, and just like the first steps that a baby takes, it is one step at a time. A small raised bed garden with easy to grow plants and a small compost pile is a great place to start. While you are working on the small baby steps, research into homesteading can help prepare you for the next steps you desire to take on.

Make Homesteading Friends: People who are already doing what you want to do are a great resource of information. Plus it is a bonus if you have excess of one crop and want to trade with someone for a different crop, a preserved crop, or fresh eggs (those are the best!)

Be a Chicken! Wait, I mean, have some chickens. Having a small flock of chickens (once you are ready for that undertaking) is a great way to supplement your homestead. Fresh eggs are great for eating or trading with other homestead friends. Plus chicken manure can help fertilize your garden plot.

Always keep in mind that if you are tired of a situation, whether it is relying on the food giants or any other aspect of your life, take steps towards making it better and you can change your life. It is just baby steps at first which seem like minor changes that won’t go anywhere, but remember baby steps lead to walking which leads to jogging, and soon you’ll be sprinting along wondering what all the fuss was about in the first place.



Buying Foods in Bulk January 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 8:28 pm

Usually I grow most of the food that I put up. But sometimes a harvest doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped, or you didn’t have time to garden. But whatever the reason, a remedy for this situation can be purchasing foods in bulk.

So why should a person buy bulk foods?

Bulk foods cost less. This is great for those of us who are on a strict budget. But even if your budget isn’t tight, it is nice to be able to save money. Organic bulk foods can cost up to 89% less than their non-bulk counterparts.

Bulk foods help the environment. When you purchase a bulk food there is less packaging involved. Packaging that usually gets thrown away.

Have food on hand during emergencies. If  you buy food in bulk then if there is an emergency that leaves you stuck at home, you will not starve as your pantry will be stocked with food for you to eat until the emergency is cleared up.



Tree Stump Grill? January 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 3:48 pm

I have found the neatest thing through pinterest! (If you are on pinterest find me here: http://pinterest.com/raybansey/)

It is a tree stump grill. The link took me over to http://www.eatliver.com/i.php?n=8502

Which then showed a visual process of creating your own tree stump grill.

My personal translation of the photos:

Start with a stump (looks more like a thick chunk of firewood to me, but hey we’ll call it a stump to not argue)

Use a chain saw to cut most of the way through the stump in wedge shapes. Leave the bottom intact so that your stump stays together.

Not sure what they used, I’m going to guess charcoal, but light and place in middle of stump wedges.

Heat your cast iron pan and start cooking your food of choice using the top of the stump as a mini stove top.

Be VERY careful not to get burned as the stump continues to catch on fire…

When done, be sure to put your stump fire out well so not to catch the yard, woods, field, etc. on fire.

Okay, so I definitely want to try this over the summer. I think I will keep a huge bucket of water nearby since I do tend to be accident prone.

to do log grill


Snow on the Modern Newbie Homestead January 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 4:03 pm

We had 12 inches of snow in my neck of the woods last Thursday. The roads were bad, the power went out, and everything grew quiet and peaceful.

snow day

I had to be sure the wood stove stayed well stoked through the night, but alas, our water pipes still wound up freezing at one point. Luckily, I save my old water jugs and keep water in them for flushing toilets and such for occasions like this.  I also had to get the snow shovel out and dig my car out in order to make it into work on Saturday. On the rest of the driveway and sidewalk I shoveled off the majority of the snow before getting out my ice melt spreader to apply salt.

I was so glad to have some food that I had canned during the fall available to eat. We got out the cast iron dutch oven and made some vegetable soup using mixed vegetables, beef tips, and some tomato stew that I had canned. It was the perfect meal for a cold winter day. I’m so grateful that I was able to have a garden last summer and enough food for us to put up.

We still don’t have any animals on our land. So there wasn’t anyone other than us and the cat to feed and keep warm. Our homestead is still new, but next year I’m hoping to have some chickens, so I will report back on how that goes.

Hope everyone stayed safe and warm during this bad weather.


Modern Day Homesteading January 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rbansey @ 7:50 pm

One of my favorite blogs to read is Modern Homesteading, a no fluff look at rural living for newbies. There is a post on there today that I think deserves a read, it is called: What is ‘Modern Homesteading’, Anyway?

There are more than 15 different definitions, all from different people, on the subject. Going to prove what I believe about homesteading in general. It depends on who you are as to what it it means to you.

My favorite definition from the blog?
“It is a journey, a process, not an event or a place. Homesteading to me indicates action. Trying and learning all the time… expanding what one knows how to do on your own. We are all headed the same direction. Some take different roads but we are all going the same direction.”

So, in light of this awesome blog post by Modern Homesteading, how do you define the term?

modern homesteading

In case you missed the last blog, it was about Homesteading Kitchen tools. My favorite place to purchase homesteading kitchen supplies? Pressure Cooker Outlet