It's December? Already?

Wake me up when it’s over. I mean, granted I love winter, but not the coldest, darkest days of winter. More the happy beginning and end parts.

So this last week was an exciting one. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year (it’s all kinda downhill after that, you know?) and our community Thanksgiving was a happy and joyful one. You know, I always hear about one mother or grandmother doing all of the cooking on Thanksgiving, preparing a meal for the whole family, a feast according to tradition. And it boggles my mind that one woman might be able to handle 
cooking all that food because for as long as I can remember the meal preparation has been shared between all of the women of our community. And I think that is a beautiful thing because we all come from different places in the world, and different upbringings and traditions, and besides sharing the load (which is such a blessing) I think our Thanksgiving meal, or any meal we prepare together, showcases each of the ladies’ skill and technique, and (as in my case) we can kinda stick to what we are good at and the best of all of our abilities can be shown in the food we bring to eat together.

 Any time we eat and/or fellowship together is a wonderful time, but this time of year is when the cameras come out and you can see our little group together, celebrating the tradition of gratitude to our Lord above.
I didn't really take many pictures, I may have been too busy stuffing my face, who knows, but I will share the few I did snap here, and advise you to keep your eye on The Sifford Sojournal for more, and better, pictures of our Thanksgiving meal.

So, the Friday after Thanksgiving, we attended this great event called the Homesteading Fair, in the Brazos de Dios community right outside of Waco, Texas.  We have been to this fair once or twice before, but it gets bigger and better every year. They have three days of seminars on sutainable living topics, (like – Why live an Agrarian Lifestyle?, and Cheese Making, and Soap Making, and Bread Making, and Sheep Shearing, and so, so much more.) And they have sheepdog demonstrations on the model homestead that they have built to showcase their ideals and how they do things like gardening and barn raising, and they teach year round classes on all of these topics. Weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Pottery, Woodworking, etc. You name it.
I really do love the Homesteading Fair, I always have such a blast walking around and seeing all that these people have accomplished to become more sustainable, and to see all the products they have for sale that they have made right there in the community. I always end up spending too much, but I think it is worth it. They have a deli that is open year round, and a gift shop and general store that is open most of the time. If you are ever in the Waco area, I would definitely recommend checking it out. You won’t be sorry, and the people are so friendly and the model homestead is usually open for tours. It’s a beautiful place, an Off-Gridder’s Disneyland, if you will.

 Anyway, around the homestead, things are clicking along at a slow but steady pace. We took the bacon out of the smokehouse today to be sliced in the morning, and Robert has to clean out the firebox do that we can hang the hams in a few days. The hams are still curing in salt brine. Hopefully we can hit another cold snap at some point so we can do another pig, and possibly a beef. We need all the meat we can butcher to re-stock the root cellar.

We will be hitting it hard this spring in the gardening department, and I already have some seedlings going inside by the woodstove. We have some big collard plants and some root crops out in the garden right now, but we never did get to planting all the cabbage we wanted to. I hope to get a jump start on spring to make up for it. I have also been planning on putting in a rabbit garden to see if I can jump start the rabbit’s reproductive health so I can get bigger, healthier litters next year. I have been holding off on breeding for about a month now because I have had a shortage of roughage to feed the bunnies over winter, so they have been getting more pellets than I wanted to be feeding them. Hopefully we can get that mess back on track before spring.

Also, our Jersey, Greta, has still not dropped. She is as big as a house, so I hope she drops soon. She has never been this late in dropping a calf, and it is cutting into our cheese supply. I think maybe she was bred later than we calculated, but who knows. Robert and I will, Lord Willing, be putting the milking stall back up in the barn by the rocket stove so that I can milk out of the ugly weather. Please join me in praying that our cow drops a calf and is just not insanely fat. I need to be making cheese this winter!!

Speaking of which, Scott Terry of Christian Farm and Homestead Radio has asked me back for the end of this month, so I will be posting the dates for that here when we get closer. The decided upon topic is going to be Cheesemaking Off Grid, so you won’t want to miss it! I will get the dates and links up here for that soon.

Also, I am planning (DV) on starting a Fermented Meats series over at Cultures for Health, I have just finished drafting the intro for that, so you won’t want to miss it. Go over and check out the great articles and recipes there on all foods cultured, and keep an eye out for the upcoming series on safely fermenting meat and fish.

Well, I had better turn in. It is getting late, and I for one have a long and busy week ahead of me.

I pray all is well with you and yours, and blessings until next time,

Tracy M.


  1. I enjoyed reading your update! I'll be looking forward to your show on cheese making. I want to practice this winter, so I'll be ready to go whenever we get dairy animals, whether it be a milk cow or dairy goats. BTW, your pies look great!

  2. Awesome! I certainly am glad that 'mama' or 'grandma' don't do all of the cooking! With all of our daughters and daughter in law(s), I was lucky to be able to do any!

  3. As one of those women who did all the cooking for Thanksgiving, all I can say is "Whew, I need a rest." Two boys and a 90 year old mother means I do most (read all) of the holiday cooking. My husband was going to cook the turkey outside but we ran out of fuel, so it was cooked by me, too. Son #1 did bring a friend (girl) who was interested in cooking and helped quite a bit, so I was thankful for that blessing. The communal meal that you all have sure sounds good to me.

    I'll be praying your cow drops her calf soon so that you can start your cheesemaking. I am looking forward to your future posts on off off grid cheese recipes.

  4. I've just now stumbled across your blog. My husband and I are looking to start a homestead or join a community of homesteaders. We've been doing our research. We have two young children and we're hoping to raise them in much the same way it seems you and your siblings were raised. Can you tell me, are you part of a community of homesteaders? Where did you gain your homesteading knowledge? We currently live in Waco, only 10 minutes from homestead heritage. We love it there but we aren't deeply religious and I don't think people who are on the fence on religion would be welcome to join. Love your blog. You are a fantastic writer.

  5. Hello Kelly,

    I'm sorry it has taken me so very long to respond. Busy, busy, busy.

    To answer your questions : Yes, we are a community of off-grid homesteaders, but we are also a church of like-minded Christian people, first and foremost. Our movement towards self sustainability and agrarianism is the product of a conclusion of our biblical belief system. We have gained our know-how slowly and through books and online info, and also good, old fashioned experimentation. I learned most of what I know from my father, who has written a book on the subject entitled Off Off Grid, the basis for the upcoming documentary, Beyond Off Grid.

    I hope I have answered your questions fully and satisfactorily. Please don't hesitate to ask more if I left something out.

    Blessings and Encouragement to your in your Walk,

  6. Oh, and Thank You for your kind words!! :-)