Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nettles, Prosperity & Hope

The weather has been spectacular and, strangely enough, actually Summer-like. Old summer temperatures have returned and after the heat wave, they feel cool and refreshing. It's been in the high 80's and low 90's for days now. Mostly sun with some blessed rain here and there and almost constant breezes on our little hill carrying hope and promises of a good life.

Things here are going along as they will. Some days much gets done, others days very little. It can be vexing but balance is a good thing too. There have been a few bad things, else wise tho, things have been wonderful.

We picked up 30 more pallets over the weekend and have started work on a couple of pallet projects. I think i posted some of my pallet projects awhile back but in case I forgot, a few of the things on the pallet list are ...
2 animal houses
a huge wood shed
a kitchen island
stand for the drying racks
more drying racks
floor for my outside laundry area
deck around the cistern
floor for the solar shower
front, side and back decks
enclose the lagoon
fence the entire property

I'm also going to build a swinging bed out by the pond. Like a porch swing but with a platform for a futon mattress.

Nik was able to punch a hole in the old shower drain so that the water can run down the sink. Long story having to do with the crazy plumbing but, the end result is that the kitchen sink now drains.

We're also working toward winter preparations and the top 3 things on the list are ...
wood stove installed and working
bath tub installed and working
well house pipes and light repaired and working

Wood Stove - We have 30 days from last Monday to get the stove in and working so that we can get new attic insulation free with installation. We'll need it for winter of course too but an organization has offered free attic insulation including the work to do it but only if we have a fixed heat source in place.

I asked on freecycle and have already found much of what we need, thanks to the great kindness of others.

Bath Tub - The solar shower has been quite chilly all week, thanks to the wonderfully cooler temperatures. But that means we have the get the nonworking shower and water heater out and the tub in as soon as we can. Hauling pots of boiling water out back is not just a pain but a dangerous pain.

Well House - a metal water pipe was broken on the well when we moved in and a plumbers assistant came out and replaced it with pvc for just under 200.00. We have since had to replace everything he replaced. There's still one pipe to replace or fix, the main one, which I believe he cracked when he put it in tho he probably didn't realize it. and then see if we can fix the heat lamp which exploded when the pipe started leaking worse (the explosion is how we discovered it was leaking in the first place). Then see about getting a thermometer plug. I had one at the old house and forgot to get it from the well house *-*
(update- Nik got the metal piece out of the lamp and it seems to work perfectly :) )

There are actually quite a few things on the Winter Prep List but those are the top 3 at the moment.

I've been wanting to get a cow for some time now and came across one the other night by chance (while looking for stove pipe, of all things). It doesn't look like it's going to work out but she's a beautiful little thing and would be the perfect Wild Moon Cow. Of course whatever cow we get will be the perfect cow :)

This one is so pretty tho, Jersey/Holstein and sweet like a puppy. A very reasonable cash price but as usual (for over a year now) I am broke money-wise. Who knows, anything is possible and if she's the one for us, it will work out.

I've been interested in finding local alternatives to everything I can, it's just much more self sufficient and often easier. I'm always searching for things but yeast, rennet are at the top of the list. I only use vegetable rennet so I knew there must be local vegetation that could do. I discovered that stinging nettle has been used for rennet for many years and started about seeing how it would work for me.

Stinging Nettle rennet for cheese making

I found several old ways of making cheeses with wild rennet, then tried it a couple of the ways until I found what worked bets for me so you should probably experiment as well.

You can use the nettle fresh or dried, tied in cheese cloth of muslin. Add to the milk when you reach cheese temp and cook until separation. The amount I tried was varied but roughly a tight handful fresh, coarsely chopped or 3/4 handful dry. This was from several medieval recipes and did work well.

My preference was to make a strong nettle infusion. Around 16 cups of fresh nettles in a pot, cover with water and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer just under boiling for 30 minutes or so. Allow to cool then store in a glass jar in the fridge. For cheese I use about 1 cup nettle rennet for 1 gal milk.

To make cheese, you can use anything that will coagulate the milk and you can combine things for flavor. Lemon juice and nettle makes a very good cheese. I found a pioneer recipe for just sitting a covered gallon of milk in the shade for a day or two, to curd, then salting and hanging the curd to harden.

I actually had picture but they were lost in the computer crash *-*

Things week's To Do list

make 3 skirts, 1 top and a slip
make more little purses (market bags)
soap (I keep putting it off)
1 batch of salve
1 batch of balm
fence work
the week's bread
bread for market (if I have time)
harvesting what i can find (elderberries are starting to ripen)
plant more lettuces and spinach
plant more herbs
kill some chickens for food
work on the 3 big winter preparations
unload the last 30 pallets
clean the hen houses
clean the barn
clean the goat pens

There's more but I can find the weeks list and can't remember at the moment. For the rest of today I have a late supper to start, a goat to milk, laundry to fold and put away, bed to make and shower to take.

I hope the day has been as bountiful for everyone as it has been for us :)


the wild magnolia said...

Very interesting post. How busy you are working your land and your plan, as much as possible.

As always, I love to hear about everything.

You all are awesome.

Peggy said...

julia, google making your on washing soda and you will find a recipe for taking baking soda and baking it into washing soda. Saves buying and works great!

Carol said...

I have been missing from the blogging world for 2 years. So glad to see you are still here.

Akannie said...

My goodness, girl! You are always on the go!

I've never made cheese, as the husband in this house is a bit lactose intolerant and so we don't eat much.

I want to try to make a dress like you did...I would love that and don't sew a lick!

We live on a tiny piece of land and grow lots of food and have chickens and have just put in our second planting...kale, turnips, beets, spinach, green beans (they're about 2 inches high already)...I want to do more and become more self sufficient. Working on it.
As for killing the chickens...I have not been able to do that yet. We talk about meat birds, but....sigh....

Love your blog.

JoyceAnn said...

You've been very busy , bet it's looking good around the cottage.

~ Blessings ~