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Pantry Chat Podcast Farewell to 2023

As we close another year, it’s time again for us to look back and reflect on all the year held. Without looking back, we can never be too sure just how far we’ve come in a year.

Man and woman laughing and walking arm in arm.

Our Blessings from 2023

For us, 2023 has been a year filled with many blessings. The newest addition to our family, Nathaniel, was born. He brings our family total to 13 (and boy were the girls all happy to have another little brother in the house!).

Having him proved that many of our household systems were working (and helped highlight those that needed a bit more honing in). It was so wonderful while recovering from the delivery to know the household was running smoothly.

A baby eating freeze dried yogurt bites.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out some of the following blog posts:

Next up, our oldest son got engaged! We’re so blessed by our soon-to-be daughter-in-law. They’re planning to be married in early 2024! This is a new stage of life for us, having our first and oldest child leave home.

Carolyn speaking at the Modern Homesteading Conference.

A few more blessings from 2023 were:

  • We had the earliest crops from the garden than ever before! In anticipation of the baby being born, I created a calendar system for the garden. This system was specific for our household and climate. The calendar included when to start plants indoors, when to pot up seedlings, when to transplant into the garden, when to harvest, etc. Before you ask, no, I can’t share this calendar because it’s SO specific to our home! But I highly encourage you to start a calendar of your own this year!
  • It was fantastic having Joel Salatin out to our homestead, having a Farm to Table dinner with him, and then joining in on the first annual Modern Homesteading Conference.
  • We continued to improve our root cellaring methods in our non-root cellar (we utilize the area below our storm doors in the basement). We tested with cabbage this winter and are still enjoying fresh cabbage into December!
  • As we continue to experiment with sheep and pig breeds, we’re continuing the search for our perfect homestead breed to fit our specific needs. We want easy keepers that don’t require such high maintenance. Though the Kune Kune pigs are very low-maintenance, breeding has been a challenge for us.
  • Beyond that, we’re doubling up on homeschooling on the homestead, so we’re ready for spring. And we’re enjoying many of the winter activities on the homestead.

We’re looking forward to what 2024 has in store, and we hope you continue to be a part of our journey! We’re extremely thankful for the role you play in making Homesteading Family what it is.

Be sure to check out some of our classes and courses, or consider becoming a member for even more hands-on education and guidance from us and the Homesteading Family community!

A large garden under snow with trees and mountains in the background.

Josh: Hey guys, this is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homesteading family, and welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought.

Carolyn: Merry Christmas.

Josh: Yeah, Merry Christmas. This is the last, I think it's the last Pantry Chat of the year.

Carolyn: I think it's the last Pantry Chat of the year.

Josh: Yeah. We're about ready to take a little break and have some fun and celebration with family and hope you guys are too.

Carolyn: Yeah, so we're kind of talking about that today, talking about the end of our year, things that we've accomplished around the homestead.

Josh: Sure. A little year-end review and closing things out a little bit.

Carolyn: So come on.

Josh: Of course that's going to involve a little bit of chit-chat.

Carolyn: Always a little bit of chit-chat. Can't do without the chit-chat.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: That'd be sad.

Josh: Anything particular that you're up to right now?

Carolyn: Well, of course by the time you guys watch this and listen to this podcast-wise, we will be taking a break and we're actually shutting down business, everything's stopping and taking a break, which means we're going to be out playing.

Josh: Hopefully.

Carolyn: Hopefully we'll be sledding and ice skating and doing all sorts of fun things, lots of cooking and fun stuff going around Christmas-wise. But then in the break between Christmas and New Year's, we kind of get a lot of fun time. So anyways, I'm looking forward to that tromping through the snowing woods a little bit. That sounds like fun. But-

Josh: We got to just do a little bit of that too. That was fun.

Carolyn: We did. Yeah. Going and getting the Christmas tree.

Josh: Getting the Christmas tree.

Carolyn: Yeah, that's always fun. Growing up, we both grew up in Southern California. I didn't even know that people went out and harvested Christmas tree. I mean, it makes sense to think about it, but that was so far outside of my experience. The closest thing I ever got to do was go to the Christmas tree farm and pick out your tree. So living here, that's just been something that I love every year, getting to take the whole family up and go search around the forest until we find the right tree.

Josh: We don't even fight about which one's the right one most of the time.

Carolyn: Most of the time. Yeah. There's a few snowball fights though.

Josh: Oh yeah.

Carolyn: You got to do all the fun things.

Josh: And it's fun when... We had six inches of fresh snow, so all the trees had snow on them. And here's a little tip, when you're evaluating a Christmas tree in the woods with snow on it, realize that it's going to look different when you bring it in the house without the snow on it. That one got us this year a little bit. We kind of know that. But the tree was perfectly shaped with snow on it, but then you shake off, we cut it down, shake off the snow, set it up in the house, and it was like, wait a minute, is this the same tree we picked?

Carolyn: Turns out ornaments are not as heavy as full branches of snow, let's just say that. But it's still fun. Everybody has a good time. We usually come back home and drink hot chocolate or hot apple cider. This year is hot apple cider. We did a lot of cider from our own trees this year, so we have a lot of apple cider on the shelf. To drink some cider and let the tree dry for a little bit, the branches dry as it's all melted off. And then we get to decorate it in the evening, and that's always fun. That's always a fun day, I love that day. But aside from that, around the Christmas season, we've been really focusing on school. We've been doing double days a lot of days where we are literally doubling and doing twice the amount of schoolwork that we would get done in a regular school day just to really, I don't know, it's like the opposite of make hay while the sun shines. It's like do your school when it's raining and snowing and there's no sun.

Josh: And the days are short and the night's are long. Yeah.

Carolyn: So we've been focusing on that so we can just really get a lot of school done, get caught up.

Josh: And everybody's really on board on that. They're inside anyway, so it keeps their minds active and it frees us up to be able to be more flexible when the sun is shining and we want to be out, whether that's out doing homestead chores or we're out doing something fun.

Carolyn: Yeah, definitely. So it is. That's kind of what we've been doing, what I've been doing. We in the household have been doing. What about you?

Josh: I'm just hitting my stride, realizing actually today this morning that we've kind of got everything winterized and we're getting into winter motion. That means all the animals are up to the barn. Operating in the barn system, we're not out in the snow anymore. We feed some hay and stuff and kind of push the season and a little bit of stockpiled forage and whatnot. But projects are wrapped up. All the animals are in the barn, so all the chores get done.

Carolyn: Including the cows in the new addition on the barn, which is exciting.

Josh: So we needed a bigger area for deep bedding. We needed more area to store our deep bedding material and our hay under roof because we got so much snow and rain. And then we needed a place to feed the cows, doesn't necessarily have to be under roof. Cows can do just fine out in the snow. It's more for an ease of management of not just the cows and feeding, but of the deep bedding and so that we're not just accumulating manure. We're having a nice bedding system that then turns into compost next spring, next summer. So that just makes management... It makes the chore so much easier. This system is almost fully complete. It'll take us one more year to get a couple of the water and electric things dialed in and the structure finished. But gosh, we're feeding nine cows, three sheep, seven pigs, three goats, a hundred chickens, milking the goats and the cows and how many? There's four of us up there and more. Just have to manage at this point. And chores get done in less than a half an hour, a little longer for the milkers.

Carolyn: It's fast. Yeah, you guys are up to the barn and back really quickly.

Josh: And so we're just hitting that. We haven't been at that. That's just like right now. So that'll get us through to spring. And so yeah, it's just been getting to that point, which allows everybody to sleep in. We try to get a little more extra rest in the winter so people can sleep a little bit longer because chores are shorter.

Carolyn: We've shifted the schedule a little so we don't start breakfast until quite a bit later.

Josh: So that's just been getting here and now it's like, okay, I came back down early today and I was like, oh, okay, what am I going to do? We've got to have a little more time for personal study in the morning or something. It's a good place.

Carolyn: So this is really fun because this is something we've focused on for years. We've talked a lot about it is putting these systems in place so that your homesteading gets easier year after year and you start making things more simple. And we're really seeing that come to fruition this year where it's like, yeah, that was pretty easy and pretty fast to get all the chores done in the middle of winter, which is historically one of the hardest times to get all the chores done.

Josh: Oh gosh. The years chopping ice in the snow, in the rain, dealing with hay under snow and you do what you do got to do to get it done. And we've done all that. But building those systems and a lot of you, we have a lot of people ask us how to prepare for retirement and how to prepare for-

Carolyn: Aging.

Josh: ... Getting older. It's these systems that are really key. We've got kids right now, but our first of our kids are starting to go out and some of them seem like they want to stay around, they maybe want to make a business that's yet to be seen. So I'm always thinking about how are we aging and what systems are we going to keep up? The reality is if it was just us, we would shed quite a bit eventually, but also making things as doable as possible. And so that's part of it is putting these systems in place, not just for today, but thinking about the future. The other part I try to think about is for kids that want to do this lifestyle but maybe still need to work full-time job. We're setting systems up and showing them how to set up systems to integrate and meld this into the modern world and yet be prepared for what ifs if things go sideways.

Carolyn: But it takes a while to get these things up and running and the way you want. So you do have to be patient with the systems and figure them out. So that's exciting though to see that starting to come together. And I wanted to tell you guys, I got really excited. Parents out there are going to identify with this, especially parents that deal with snow. Every year we go and we buy two or three of these cheap plastic discs.

Josh: Yes, kids, they want a disc in the snow and it's good, inexpensive fun and keeps them active and out.

Carolyn: But they destroy them and they're essentially disposable discs. These plastic discs.

Josh: And it's been impossible to find good ones. They've gotten worse and worse.

Carolyn: They have.

Josh: Like the plastic tear, they break down, it's just Chinese junk.

Carolyn: We just found a company that makes USA made and they're metal, they are metal discs and they look wonderful. The kids took them out yesterday and they got out on them for a few minutes and they're like, "Oh my gosh, they're so fast. These are so great."

Josh: I bet they're faster than plastic too.

Carolyn: I bet they are. And so I am so excited that you made the comment the other day, "Our grandkids might be sliding on these-

Josh: Heirloom.

Carolyn: ... heirloom sleds.

Josh: Heirloom snow sleds. They're discs, they're not sleds to be clear.

Carolyn: But it's super... I can't remember the name off the top of my head.

Josh: Can we find it and get a link for them?

Carolyn: Oh yeah. We'll put a link for you guys because-

Josh: Yeah, they're nice quality. This is USA made.

Carolyn: I love it when we can find things. It's like one less thing that's disposable. I feel that way about the Oh, American Blossom sheets. Sheets in our house were disposable and then we get those and they're such good quality sheets that they just last and last and last. Ever since we've gotten those, we've never had to replace a sheet and that just, they're expensive up front. I'm like, well, they're cheaper today than they will be a year or two from now and I won't have to buy the replacements all the time.

Josh: Well, it's just a good homesteading mindset. I mean, we have to make do with the resources we have, so sometimes we've got to buy cheap.

Carolyn: Absolutely.

Josh: But the mentality of just buying cheap to buy cheap, I find more and more of the stuff that I've tried that it just breaks down so fast. I'm not saving any money. And in fact, I'm having to spend more energy and shopping more and I'm being frustrated with something not working well when you need it to work well. And so working towards buying the tools, the things that we need, I mean this is obviously a toy and whatnot, but in our household with so many kids in the winter, it's a big deal. It actually becomes more fiscally responsible.

Carolyn: Definitely.

Josh: And blending frugalness with buying good quality and you find that actually those things didn't last so long.

Carolyn: They do.

Josh: That you spend less energy on them and less money over time.

Carolyn: It's a good way. It's hard for us to grasp that sometime in the moment because it's more expensive in the moment.

Josh: Especially when you don't have a lot of extra money, you have to work through it and sometimes you got to work through it one thing at a time. Sometimes you just got to buy stuff to get by. But I think as homesteaders we can get in that mentality, like it's got to be cheap. And there's a time where we just got to do what we got to do and get what we can get to make it happen. But can we work towards, oh man, this thing just keeps breaking down on me. I'm going to save up and I'm going to buy the right thing instead of just keep dealing with the cheap thing that fails.

Carolyn: Sometimes spending more is the frugal answer.

Josh: It is. Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. It's the more frugal thing to do. So anyways, okay, I think we're talking about chores in the barn.

Josh: Yeah. Well good. That's the point of the day. We're just free flowing a little bit.

Carolyn: Somehow got sleds into the middle of getting chores in the barn, but.

Josh: That's good. I love getting to talk about USA made and I've said for a while, one of these days we got to do a pantry chat-

Carolyn: Just on that.

Josh: On USA made. We're starting to build up a little bit of list and it's hard, it's challenging if you try. There's no just nailing it. But I think that would be a fun discussion because we're more and more finding things and I think more stuff is getting made available in the United States, but it's not always easy to find.

Carolyn: If you have some favorite USA made companies that you like and that you've been working with and you're like, "Oh, this product's great, I love this." Please put it down in the comments, share it with the rest of us so we can help start sharing resources because, like Josh is saying, it's hard to find good companies.

Yeah. Good. All right, well we have a question of the day, or two.

Josh: Yeah, I think one or two of these that they're all for you today. The three-eyed profit, interesting handle there. The three-eyed profit. Watch this before you get a freeze dryer asks, how often do you have to clean your freeze dryer, if you have to clean it at all?

Carolyn: Ah, good question. Luckily, freeze dryers are really easy to clean. The whole inner working pops out and you just have this big drum. So you want to keep it clean, but that doesn't mean that you often need to clean it. The thing is usually the food is in the trays and as long as your food stays in the trays, like it's supposed to. You don't need to clean the machine really. But occasionally you'll be doing something and the food kind of poofs out of it. It is actually a poof, that is a very technical-

Josh: Like a freeze-dried water, if you breathe on it, it poofs?

Carolyn: Kind of like that.

Josh: Did you see that?

Carolyn: Just a note, you don't have to clean up freeze-dried water if it gets on your machine.

Josh: Don't miss that video.

Carolyn: Don't miss the last 30 seconds of the video. I think we actually had a question from somebody in here who said, if you don't have a freeze dryer, what is the best way to store water? And I thought, oh dear. She didn't watch the last 30 seconds of that video to know that it was a joke. So we won't call out that name. And just as a note, there is a blog post attached to that video that has real information on how to store water. And it's not by freeze drying, just as a hint. But the good news is easy to clean, don't have to clean your freeze dryer often. And when you do, it's literally just taking a damp soft cloth and wiping it out and getting it all nice and clean. So it's really easy. For me, I find that maybe once every three or four runs something kind of gets out of the tray and I need to wipe it down. That's often because I think we do what we do with every machine that we own in this house, which is kind of to push it a little bit, maybe fill it up a little more than it should be filled up to get a little more out of each run. So if you were being careful, I doubt you'd even have that problem.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Josh: Let's see here. Leslie Melby says, regarding the fruit leather recipe, pumpkin pie spice video. Hope you and your family are staying warm these days. Have you tried your Pomona pectin hack with this recipe? Blessings from southern Idaho. Almost a neighbor.

Carolyn: Yeah, with the pumpkin pie spice fruit leather. No, I have not tried that. I don't know why I haven't tried it. I just have not tried it. I guess it's kind of a consistency that's a little different to start with, but you could definitely do that. I'm trying to think of exactly how that would work, but you could add some pectin to that and it would probably make it much smoother and more of that jelly-like consistency rather than, I don't even know how to describe the consistency of a dehydrated pumpkin pie leather. I don't even know how to say that-

Josh: Nor do I.

Carolyn: But I could make it a little gellier, gummier, I am not real sure what to say. It could make it good.

Josh: Try it.

Carolyn: We'll go with that. Give it a try and give us your results because we'd love to know.

Josh: So I got to do one more and it's about freeze-dried water because so many people have asked, but it's not about the water-

Carolyn: Okay, good.

Josh: So you don't have to answer anything about the water. But everybody wants to know, and this is just fun. Hideaway Homestead particularly is asking about that video. How did you do this with a straight face? I'll never know, she says. Nor will I. How many times did it take?

Carolyn: I focused, I actually only cracked up in filming twice, but I had to get into this zone. The moment that I had to pour the water into rehydrate the water powder. I don't know if I was horrified that I was actually filming this or if I thought it was hilarious because I had this moment of conflicting emotion while filming it as like, oh my gosh, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? But it's important to remember to laugh and to take things a little lighter, not so seriously.

Josh: It is. And I appreciated everybody's sense of humor. Some people got a little frustrated and I actually expected a bit more frustration from people.

Carolyn: Did you? Yeah.

Josh: But we have faith in your sensibilities that you realized this is not real even all the way through it. But you did such a phenomenal job at it that I was like, oh man, you're going to have people going, "But wait, what? What? Really?" Anyways, and you guys had a fantastic sense of humor, so if you haven't seen that, you've got to check it out. It's just phenomenal teaching even though there's a catch.

Carolyn: And a lot of the teaching in it, aside from the water fact as I'm working through the process of the freeze drying, that's exactly what you do. I did real teaching in there about the freeze drying process. If you were to replace the water in that with milk, that would totally work. Or any other liquid like that.

Josh: Yeah.

Carolyn: So yeah, it was definitely a fun video. But the other thing I think that came out besides the importance of laughing and taking things a little lighter, there were quite a few people who actually we're believing it through most of the way through the video.

Josh: Well you just did it. You did such a good job that it was going to make people go, whoa, okay, there's something to this. She's serious.

Carolyn: It's a good lesson though, I think for all of us because it can be really easy just to believe somebody and to believe something that you see. And I know right now there are really good tutorials on YouTube that I have watched on how to do things that are dangerous, they don't work, there's a whole list of things. And it's really important to just keep that critical mind on, thank you guys for laughing with me on ours. But to keep that critical mind on and go, this doesn't make sense or I don't know about this or double check it. Safety information with food preservation. There's really great directions out there that are really clear, really good, well presented instructions on things that are incredibly dangerous to do in canning and have killed people and do kill people. So it's like you want to be aware of that and just be aware.

Josh: Be the YouTube Berean.

Carolyn: There you go. Be the Berean.

Josh: Be the Berean. Yeah.

Carolyn: Say thank you and then go do your research.

Josh: And continue to do your research and verify and validate your resources.

Carolyn: Definitely. Anyway.

Josh: Cool. Well, fun stuff. That's just a fun one time we could touch base on that because I've had those questions personally and I've seen them a lot in the comments and everything else, like how in the world did you do that?

Carolyn: I got in the zone. I got in the free drying water zone.

Josh: Well, you know what, I think something to bring up. You're that good of a teacher. You got into your teaching zone and I mean you did it. It was all real. It's just obviously you've got to have water to rehydrate free drying water.

Carolyn: Exactly. Yeah, it was fun though.

Josh: You got in your zone. You did good. All right, well, anyways, moving on. We were going to just recap a little bit this year as we exit out of the year. Any highlights, any things for you this year that-

Carolyn: The really big one of course is Baby Nathaniel was born back in March and now babies just integrate into the household so much that it's kind of hard to imagine a time he wasn't here.

Josh: That he wasn't here. He's only, what, 10 months? Nine months? Nine months.

Carolyn: And so he made a big splash coming into the household and definitely had me down a lot over the last couple of, I guess two years here between the pregnancy-

Josh: Even the lead up.

Carolyn: ... being so rough and then some recovery time after having him and all of that. So I've felt a little slower this year on some things, but I do feel like we still made a lot of really good progress. There's a lot of good help. As the kids get older, they can do so much so quickly. It's amazing. So even with me being down, I guess it was a moment to kind of prove our household systems in a lot of ways because things just kind of kept getting done and I don't feel like any one person was stressed or overburdened on that. Now I do have to say we did have an intern in who was helping, two interns who were helping with that. It's been helpful.

Josh: Well, but one of the interns have been here for a while, so she's very knowledgeable of our systems. The other one who was great and did a fantastic job, but you're still, and people sometimes say, oh well you've got all this help. And I hear this about other people that have interns. You have to train people. It takes six months to get to break even on... And this is hiring somebody in a business, teaching something new. So loved having the interns. It was a big help, but it is work. I don't know that people always realize that it is.

Carolyn: It is.

Josh: There is work to it and it's not all just, it all gets done perfectly.

Carolyn: Yeah, absolutely. So that was a big test and I feel like that really showed that the household systems are really strong. We saw a few places where we had a little weaknesses in little places that we didn't have accounted for on who does what and when. And it wasn't quite as laid out. But yeah, that was a big, big one for me this year I think. Yeah. What about you? You want to go back and forth?

Josh: Oh, sure. Yeah. Gosh, I think this is less homesteady, but just our oldest son got engaged and so that's a new place in life for us. And it was already, he's been working and he's been involved. This isn't new as far as with the gals, so it's not surprising. So he is already been working his way into a new life. But that was definitely finality and a new stage of life for us, our first getting married and getting ready to move on. And it's actually coming up pretty quickly in the beginning of the year, so that's good. But at the same time it's a new thing and excited to be watching somebody step into their own life and of course a little bit of like, oh man, they're heading out and going to miss them here. So along with having a baby, that's another big highlight. What a contrast in one year, a new life coming into the family and our first getting ready to start his own family.

Carolyn: Yeah, I am actually really excited about all that because I love her. I think she is just absolutely amazing and I think she is a perfect fit for him and I am feeling so blessed to have an amazing first daughter-in-law that I just, it's really cool. It's exciting.

Josh: It's really cool to be excited about your children going out. And just as parents have been working for 18 years here, 18 plus years, and you wonder and people tell, oh, wait till they're teenagers, wait to this, wait till that. And all the stuff you hear. And of course we have paved kind of our own path and done a lot of things counterculture and different. And so that's a risk in some ways. And to see our first going out and to be excited about it, that they're doing well, you're excited about what they're doing, excited about the couple, excited about their path in life that they're charting before them. I've just really enjoyed thinking about that and going just how good this is. I didn't grow up with a lot of that. There was a lot of just dysfunction and a lot of people not on a good path. And so to see ours on that track-

Carolyn: Exciting.

Josh: That's beautiful. So that's a biggie for this year.

Carolyn: Yeah, That's pretty neat. Okay, so I'm going to go totally shallow compared to that.

Josh: Sure, yeah. Go.

Carolyn: Another thing we did this year, and I actually did this in anticipation of the baby being born and knowing that I was going to be a little less focused on things like gardening. I created a calendar system for the garden just for our household. So it's very specific to our homestead, our location, when we need to start things, when we need to plant things. So I know everybody's going to be like, can you share that? It really needs to be specific-

Josh: Tailored-

Carolyn: Very tailored.

Josh: And it's from years of experience on site.

Carolyn: Right. But because every year we're like, oh yeah, what am I supposed to start earliest and what's the date and when should I do this? I thought, well, this is ridiculous that I'm doing the same questioning and the same calendar questions every single year. And so instead I purchased a calendar. It's a three-month view calendar. So it's each, it's hard to say, each month has its own single page-

Josh: So you see three months at a time.

Carolyn: But the way it flips out, you're always seeing three months.

Josh: It's hung on the wall.

Carolyn: It's hung on the wall.

Josh: You can see it three months.

Carolyn: It's long because it's three different panels and it is dated. I know they have dateless calendars, but it is dated for last year. But I went ahead and I put all of the dates of when everything needs to happen, but then I also put how many and what variety and all of these things for all of our standard so that next, this coming year already I'm looking at it and going, oh, okay. I know right here I need to do this. And this is going to simplify gardening because now I'm making adjustments. All last year I was like, oh, we did that about a week too early. We need to move that. So I went and I adjusted the calendar so we can really hone in this idea of we want succession plantings, we want the earliest... We ate, the earliest we've ever eaten here out of the garden this year because of that, really pushing things and paying attention. So anyways, I'm really excited about that because I think that's another one of those systems that's going to reduce the yearly work. It's really going to cut down on the garden planning time for me on the when do I start and how much do I start and what is it?

So anyways, that's a big step forward I feel like in our systems.

Josh: Yeah, very, very good. I do want to say for people that are new to gardening, that is still a budget, like a budget in that you set it, but you still have to adjust to the annual weather pattern now, but it takes a lot of the guessing and then you can just adjust to that. You're right. Great job on that. That was a huge benefit to the whole garden system

Carolyn: And it was very visual, so everybody could go, we put it right on the wall. Everybody could go see, oh, what are we supposed to be doing this week in the garden?

Josh: Well, it's nice in the three-month view too, because we're literally spread out that far and from starting stuff indoors to some of the last things that need to get started outdoors as soon as we're frost free. And so you see, I really like that being visual. It's not like you're having to flip through something on a computer or flip through a calendar in paper. You just get that view of kind of what's going on in spring and your planting schedule all in one shot. And so you can really chart things together as you're thinking out and thinking ahead.

Carolyn: Well, and for me it's like those people with the birthday at the beginning of the month are always the people who I'm late or just scrambling to get something because I haven't flipped the calendar yet to think about it. So I haven't seen it because I do still work on an... I use my phone for a calendar also, but I do still work on a real analog paper calendar. So anyways, that just helps you be ready for what's coming down the pipeline. So yeah.

Josh: So another thing this year that was new for us and it was really big was hosting live training on property with Joel Salaton and a farm to table and the Modern Homesteading Conference here in Coeur d'Alene.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: Yeah. So that was exciting. It was challenging. It was an honor to have Joel Salaton here and to learn from him on site and have a group of people that were here learning. And so definitely learned a lot. And we did two properties and then had a farm to table-

Carolyn: Dinner.

Josh: Farm to dinner and with a hundred people and that was-

Carolyn: That was amazing.

Josh: Went really well. People love that. I think we're going to play on the next one.

Carolyn: We're thinking about it.

Josh: We're still thinking about it.

Carolyn: We're thinking about it. We're making sure we can make it happen.

Josh: Yeah. And then the Modern Homesteading Conference, I know a lot of you came to that. If you didn't, you really got to go in 2024. It's going to be even better next year.

Carolyn: And we're both speaking again.

Josh: Yeah, we're both speaking and along with a whole lot of people from the school of traditional skills.

Carolyn: That's exciting.

Josh: ... will be speaking.

Carolyn: Yeah, it'd be a lot of great speakers.

Josh: So that was a big event. That just was a big moment for us.

Carolyn: That was some new things too.

Josh: And a lot at once. There was our typical go big and do it all at once and we'll organize

Carolyn: We'll try not to do all three things in the same week next year.

Josh: Right. Yeah.

Carolyn: That would be good.

Josh: All right, did you get another one?

Carolyn: Oh, okay. One more smaller thing for me that we tried is we're continuing to improve our non-root cellar. Root cellar. I know you guys are all going to ask about the root cellar. It's just a slow long process. It's not going... Definitely not this year. Time's over this year.

Josh: No, it's been derailed a little bit. Yeah.

Carolyn: We can get into that when we have more time, but we've been working on improving our root cellaring in our non-root cellar, which is actually the stairwell of our storm doors to the basement. So that's an area, it's not entirely insulated from outside, but it's not heated from inside, although we do have the ability to open the door and put a little heat in if it looks like it's going to freeze-

Josh: We can temperature control manually.

Carolyn: That's really nice. So this year though, our latest addition was putting cabbage in it to see where we could get cabbage to, and immediately after we put it in we thought, oh, the cabbage is all done, the cabbage is all ruined, it all just wilted. And then we looked at it and realized it got a little wilty, but it's still in great shape. So for cooked cabbage or for any sort of soups or stews or anything like that, we put it in, they're still in great shape. So here we are December and we've got quite a bit of cabbage that we can still go through.

Josh: It's going to get us, I bet you... I mean we'll eat it before we have a problem with it so we can maybe do more, but it's going to take us well in the winter.

Carolyn: Yeah. So that was kind of exciting because it's hard to get greens around here in the middle of winter. So this has been my answers. Figure out how to root cellar cabbage.

Josh: Without a root cellar.

Carolyn: Without a root cellar.

Josh: No problem in the proper root cellar, but we're not there yet.

Carolyn: Exactly.

Josh: Well, I've got one and this is a little more, less people think that we don't struggle and have our failures. We've had a couple challenges this year. One has been with just the sheep. We kind of did a redo on the sheep herd a couple of years ago to get both a wool breed and something that was a little larger. The wool breed we had was very small and just weren't getting a lot of yield for the food consumption and the work.

Carolyn: So we had Icelandic's and we had Gotlands originally-

Josh: Cross.

Carolyn: ... which were great sheep, very hardy.

Josh: Great all the way around other than low-

Carolyn: No real problems.

Josh: Low carcass yield-

Carolyn: Very low carcass yield.

Josh: Very small carcass yield. And so we went to these Cotswolds and nice size, pretty nice wool. I know you're not as excited about the wool I think, but they've not been great mothers. We've had one kill themselves, just do something stupid. And so that has been a real struggle and we're having to rethink what we're going to do with sheep. So these things do happen and they can be a challenge. And we're a couple of years in, invested in. It's like, oh man, this got part of what we wanted. It solved the carcass yield side of things.

Carolyn: A little bit. Yeah.

Josh: It's much better. But we like easy management animals. We don't want to babysit animals. We want easy keepers. They need to do their job, pull their weight. As my friend Adam Martin says, you kind of like, what is it? Get tough or die. And that's not to say we don't care for them, but that's a working homestead. Things need to do their job. They need to not be high maintenance. It's not a hobby farm that we need to give excessive attention. The animals need to function, they need to breed. So that's been a challenge. And then the coonies have been a bit of a challenge.

Carolyn: The pigs.

Josh: And they are wonderful homestead pigs. They cost almost nothing to maintain. They live on grass and a little bit of supplements, pretty much grass and kitchen scraps.

Carolyn: In our house, we could over fatten them accidentally-

Josh: Well, we did and we have.

Carolyn: On kitchen scraps.

Josh: And so they're very low maintenance and I'm very excited about them in that. But getting them to breed has been a challenge. And I knew that coming into this, this is a challenge across the board for coonies. They can get too fat. There's multiple things and we're finding that to be a challenge. We're not giving up on it yet. So interested in input. If any of you guys have experience.

Carolyn: And we have tried the tricks, we've separated off the board significantly away from the sows. And we've done all the different things.

Josh: Other than boar competition. We thought it was the sows was the problem. But we're starting to realize because we got another sow who was pregnant, had piglets did great, but she's not bred back. And we know she's proven.

Carolyn: And the boar is proven.

Josh: And the boar is proven. But there's some theory in talking to some friends of mine that have been down this road a bit further, that still have similar struggles that it's the boar. One thing we haven't done is like boar competition.

Carolyn: There we go.

Josh: Anyway, so there's real struggles here too. And those have been two systems that they're working, but they're not working great. And we'll be making decisions next year. How do we continue to work through this?

Carolyn: And do we keep going down this route or go a different direction now? So yeah, that's good. It's always learning, always adjusting, and that's what we all have to do.

Josh: And that's part of the journey, right? There's always going to be things to solve and there's always going to be some things to overcome and challenges. Yeah.

Carolyn: Hey, we hope you guys have an amazing Christmas season. Hopefully you're getting to celebrate with family and friends and enjoy winter, whatever that looks like for you. Maybe you're hot right now and seeing the sun and the rest of us will try not to be jealous, but that's cool.

So enjoy your Christmas and have-

Josh: Don't get me started.

Carolyn: And have a great New year and we will look forward to seeing you really soon.

Josh: That's right. Hope you're enjoying some of the fruit of your labors. Merry Christmas. Goodbye.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat, Food for Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more at

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

A man and wife smiling.

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