Brother Harold

Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars

I’ll admit, by the first few weeks of September I’m getting tired of canning. Two runs a day for 2 weeks straight, dozens of quarts, double-dozens of pints, and I’ve had enough of the preparation, the cleaning, the water, the heat. Don’t get me wrong: even at the tail end of the harvest when I’m “canned out”, there is still no greater satisfaction than cracking a canner load of beyond-organic salsa from all garden-grown produce, and knowing I’ve taken another […]

A 5-gallon Bucket of Potential

It’s the most gut-wrenching thing an aspiring orchardist has to do every spring: thin the crop. Amidst the flush of life and potential on display in the many subtle hues of green, an orchardist must bring cold-hearted callousness to bear on his or her bearing trees. Fruit abortion. Plucked in their innocence. Too young…far too young.

Turkey Hunting

Putting meat on the table the old-fashioned way is a long standing tradition of the self-reliant. Ask any new homesteader what their most-desired skills are and you’ll likely find “hunting” in the top 5, at least for those who weren’t raised in a hunting family. And so it was that I, Br0therH@rold, the APB resident Green Thumb finally got blood on my hands. After years of enduring the hysteric chittering laughter of squirrels on Mr. Paranoid’s woodlot as they flitted […]

Low-Tunnel Tomatoes

You may recall my experiments with low tunnels for squash and low tunnels for sweet potatoes. I’m always looking for opportunities to get an early start on spring, or to hang on to the last breaths of fall before winter takes hold. Low-tunnels are an easy and cost effective way to extend the growing season and this year I’ll be experimenting with low tunnel tomatoes.

Dormant Pruning Fruit Trees

When nighttime temps are still just below freezing, but daytime temps are rising into the 40s and even 50s, it’s time to get into the orchard and do dormant pruning. Personally, I prefer to dormant prune in the late fall, well after leaf-drop but before the ground is totally frozen, however sometimes life gets in the way of making that happen on time. Early spring dormant pruning is still a good option though. I like to wander down to the […]

I had a blow-out kit review performed by a “professional”. My cousin is a 1st Lieutenant in the Army, a trained combat medic, and a civilian paramedic with over 25 years of experience in one of the busiest metro areas in the country. Amongst other great conversation, I threw him my blow-out kit off my chest rig and asked for an honest assessment. Here is his candid feedback.

Fuel Injector: That's proper broke.

Today was just another “Labor” Day on the Homestead. Instead of sitting around, eating cheesepuffs and celebrating pension shortfalls, cadillac insurance plans, and 30 hour work weeks, I commemorated the day like most Americans would have prior to 1882: by actually working. First up, the annual deep clean of the chicken coop was in order. We clean the coop monthly, but this was the *deep* clean: muck it out, hose it out, then scrub it down with a 10% solution […]

Pressure-canning Salsa

Pressure canning can be a bit intimidating. I know it was for me when I first started, but sooner or later you just have to do it: face that fear of the shigity-shhi-sh-shaker weight and learn to love the steam bomb (I’m aware I just said “bomb” in a post about pressure canners. “Honey, someone’s at the door…“) This post is not in any way meant to be comprehensive guidance to pressure-canning, but rather a demonstration of the tried-and-true recipe that […]

Camping. Sort of.

I took the family camping this weekend for the first time ever. I mean, it was sort of camping. My parents gave us their popup camper and we went to a campground 15 minutes from the house. We had electricity, running hot water, and real bathrooms not too far away. I figured I would ease them into it gently. I even let them bring electronic devices (I had my laptop too). So it was an experiment. Lots of lessons (re)learned. […]