Category: Homesteading

Foodsaver Expandable Bags — Usage Trick

I ordered the Foodsaver expandable bags to freeze our turkey. They’re serious about the extra space at the end of the bag so you can get the pleats back together; but, even following their instructions, this is almost a three person operation!

But I came up with a trick — once you get a side pleated, use binder clips to hold the side together (I used two clips). Then get the other side tucked and use binder clips to hold it in place. Now that it’s all held together, slide the clips to ensure you have enough plastic to fit into the vacuum sealer. Seal it up. And again. I moved the plastic out a bit and double-sealed another line. And a third … because it would really suck to ruin a huge bag of food like this!

Shotgun Shopping

We want to get a semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun for hunting waterfowl (and maybe deer). I like the box mags, so there are a couple of options we’re considering:

TriStar KRX — cheap gun available at Cabelas. Fixed stock.

Panzer KMR — A little more expensive. Can replace stock, but not telescoping.

UTAS looks like they’ve got a gun with an adjustable stock in the 500 dollar range

Remington 870 DM looks great too

Spatchcock butchering method

We butchered our broilers and ducks for the year. In a larger household, a whole bird is probably a perfectly reasonable amount of food. But, for us? It’s too much food. Half a bird is a lot more reasonable.

In looking at techniques for grilling and smoking poultry, we came across spatchcocking — basically splitting the whole bird along the spine so it lays flat. It looked like a much quicker way to butcher — and, if we didn’t want to have a whole bird in the end anyway it isn’t like the approach would be counterproductive.

So we’ve been butchering by detaching the crop, airway, and throat. Placing the bird so the backbone is up and the neck facing you, cut along the spine. It’s a little tricky to cut at the hip joint — you’ve got to find the right spot to snip, but the oyster is always included with the leg using this method — and be careful not to pierce intestines. You can leave the spine with one half or cut down the other side of the spine. Cut around the vent, then clear out all of the innards — one entire mass is removed. Either finish spatchcocking to store a whole bird or use shears to cut along the breastbone and have two halves. I’ve found this approach to be a lot quicker than the normal technique — and, since the carcass is open, removing the innards is very easy.

2022 Seeds

We’ve saved seeds from the garden (and seeds from both ground cherries and hot peppers that we picked up at the farmers market) that will make up much of our garden this year. I purchased a bunch of flower seeds to expand the bee garden, and a few new vegetables. And I really hope to get asparagus established this year!

Seeds for Honeybees

Autumn Beauty Sunflower Seeds – XL Packet

Ballerina California Poppy Seed Mix – XL Packet


Ball’s Orange Calendula Seeds – XL Packet


Butterfly Weed Seeds – 1/4 Oz

California Giants Zinnia Seed Mix – 1/4 Lb

Globe Annual Candytuft Seeds – XL Packet

Fairy Bouquet Snapdragon Seed Mix – XL Packet


Dwarf Shasta Daisy Seeds – XL Packet

Swiss Giants Pansy Seed Mix – 1/4 Oz


Single China Aster Seed Mix – XL Packet

Painted Daisy Seeds – XL Packet

Money Plant Seeds – XL Packet

Ice Plant Seed Mix – 1 Oz

McKana Giants Columbine Seed Mix – XL Packet


Indian Blanket Seeds – XL Packet

Imperial Rocket Larkspur Seed Mix – 1 Oz

Imperial Pincushion Flower Seed Mix – XL Packet

Iceland Poppy Seeds – 1 Oz

Sparky French Marigold Seed Mix – XL Packet


Common Milkweed Seeds – 1 Oz

Seeds for Food

Sugar Beet Seeds


Anise Seeds


Chioggia Beet Seeds


Easter Egg Radish Seeds


French Breakfast Radish



Sparkler White Tip Radish


White Icicle Radish Seeds



Hickory King Corn

Pencil Cob Corn
Triticale Winter Rye Dundale Pea
Hull-less Barley Burbank Hull-less Barley Stalks of oats stock image. Image of ripe, harvest ...


Wheat on farm field stock image. Image of agriculture ...


German Extra Hardy Garlic

Chesnok Garlic

Music Garlic

Dutch Red Shallot

Dutch Red Shallot



We’d talked about joining Costco for years — a new store was built not too far from my office, and they had a membership promo. It was rather far away from our house; and, without checking it out first, hard to tell if it was a good deal. Especially without storage space for, say, a gallon of lemon juice. As we’ve been producing more at home — vegetables, meats — we’ve also gotten a lot of storage space. Loads of canning jars, chest freezers, vacuum sealer, shelves. So the idea of buying twenty pounds of apples is now appealing — can a bunch of apple sauce and apple butter 🙂

So, on Friday, we went out to Costco and got a membership. They’ve got a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, we were there about an hour before closing (why in the world would a company have limited hours on the weekend?!) and didn’t get to check out everything. Lots of electronics — a big TV that Scott would have loved to get. A couple of mesh WiFi systems. Fridges (not the one I want to get, unfortunately). And the expected huge containers of foods. Stuff I have a hard time finding in the grocery store too — they never have thick cut pork chops, so I end up getting a whole loin and cutting my own. But there were really nice 1″+ chops sitting right in a cooler. A tasty looking kale pesto. And a huge bag of frozen mango chunks (also a similarly huge bag of blueberries that I hope to not need in a year or two once our bushes start producing!). The coolest thing was that they’re loaded up with organic options (that are generally cheaper than the non-organic variety at the grocery store).

We also learned something about pickup trucks. They are great for hauling home the materials to build a chicken pasture fence. They’re great for hauling chest freezers. They are not great for bringing home groceries … I get why people have those tarp things that pull over the bed. We loaded all of the heavy (and low wind resistance) things into the truck bed, but ended up piling a bunch of lighter / breakable things in the cab with Anya.

Overall, the place seems like a score. And very much in line with my mom’s parents’ approach to living out in the country on a mountain. They’d not plan on going anywhere from October through April — stock up on food, get supplies for any winter projects, and just do their thing for six months. An approach that seems far more reasonable now that I’ve got my own couple hundred foot driveway curving up a mountainside.

Rechargeable batteries in the game camera

We tried using rechargeable batteries in our game cameras — eight batteries per camera, and we have three cameras … so it’d be nice not to throw out two dozen double-a batteries. The question, though, was how long they’d last. (Well, the first question is if they’d work at all … nuance of battery chemistry and electric production … the cheap rechargeable AA’s are lower voltage than throw away ones. But we quickly proved that the cameras would run on these batteries). We put the cameras out on October 3, and the cameras are still operational today. That’s over two weeks on a charge. We’ll see when the last videos record, but they’ve already proven to be functional for our purpose.

The first batteries to discharge stopped recording overnight 11/6 to 11/7 … 34 days on a charge. One set was still working, but we pulled them all to discharge / charge them.

Chest Freezers

We picked up two chest freezers — Whirlpool WZC3115DW — today. We had an adventure trying to get a chest freezer. They weren’t in stock over the summer, and the one we tried to order that included in-home delivery? They wanted to deliver to the bottom of the driveway! But we’re getting into Autumn now, and really needed the freezer space. I’ve got a partner account with an appliance company, and we were just about to order a set of freezers when I found a dented appliance store. For a chest freezer that’s going to sit in the furnace room, half price to have a couple of dents on the outside of the box? Score! And we’ve still got a pickup truck, so we were able to haul both of them home today. I need to wash the things down tomorrow, and then we’ll plug them in and make sure everything works.