By Ponygirl Cortez

Laundry Day

I built a "washing machine" out of two buckets and a toilet plunger.  I still have to scrub the stains out by hand, but it takes a lot of work out of the spin and rinse cycles!

Getting Settled In

Alice's Retreat Homestead Site - Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

WBAL-TV Interview
December 29, 2015

Mushroom Identification

I've got these guys growing on some underground stumps in my yard.  I'd love to get the species narrowed down.  There are some cousins in this group that are not good for us human types, although others are delicious.
Glistening Inky Cap?
If I have the ID right, this is tasty shroom, indeed.  Conveniently, they also tend to grow in dense clusters.
Mushroom Spore prints
The sample on the left I believe is in the Chroogomphus family, but I haven't been able to track down the exact species.  The spore print was more deep purple than black.  Still working on that, but I am content in the knowledge that it is either poisonous or delicious.
The sample on the right I believe to be a glistening inky cap.  As you can probably tell by the remaining shmear, these mushrooms autodigest when harvested (deliquescence).  No worry, though, just cook those babies up in a hurry before they eat themselves!
I think this is some variety of hydnum, but I'm still trying to figure it out.  I didn't take a sample home, just pictures, so I don't have a full image of the structure of this little guy.

Edible/Medicinal Plants

Reed, Phragmites
This time of year reeds can be used for their seeds and their rootstock. Both can be crushed and used to make flour.
A variety of fiddlehead fern, bracken is the most abundant fern in most of this country.  Can be cooked much like asparagus, but needs at least 30-45 minutes to remove an enzyme which destroys vitamin B1.  Roots can be used to treat nausea and diarrhea. Smoke from bracken has traditionally been used to treat headaches.
American Holly
The leaves of American Holly can be used to make tea to treat flu, coughs, and pneumonia as an expectorant.  Chewing about 10 berries will clear out your GI tract as well. I don't recommend trying that, though, since the berries are actually considered poisonous.
Making Mushroom Spore Prints
Setting a Rabbit Snare
Gone Fishing

Homemade Fire Starters

Learning how to skin a squirrel
Fire Starting 101
Basic fire starting with a magnesium fire starter and dry tinder and kindling.
Pressure Canning
Learning how to pressure can to preserve low acid foods.
  1. Pressure Canner
  2. Ingredient Prep
  3. Cooking the stuffs
Chicken Tractor
I finally got started on my chicken tractor.  
  1. Getting started
  2. Chicken tractor frames
I got my first hunting license last week.  Deer season is currently open for bow-hunters, so that's where I started.
  1. New deer stand
  2. Tree climbing gizmos
  3. Bow shopping
Fall Gardening
A little mushroom maintenance and getting the garlic bulbs in after the first frost.
  1. Bulb insulation
  2. Feeding the shrooms
  3. German Red bulbs
  4. Checking soil pH
Food Dehydrating
Experiments in food dehydration.
  1. Floofiness
  2. Drawing moisture out of tofu
  3. The seasonings
  4. Title 4
  5. Title 5
  6. Marinating
  7. Title 7
  8. Finished product