The Ozark Homestead

The Journey to a Simplier Self-Sufficient Life


Turn the Other Cheek? But He Killed My Dog

Good fences make good neighbors.” So says Robert Frost in his famous poem, The Mending Wall. Frost questions why they make good neighbors. My question is how high of a fence do I need to co-exist with my neighbor.

It is shocking how a nice warm Sunday afternoon can turn terribly traggic in a instant. This past Sunday, my neighbor, who has had it out for us since we moved here, shot and killed our beloved yellow lab, Shelby. She had wandered off after our gate blew open.
20130221-070322.jpg Shelby was the gentlest, most loving animal I have ever known. She was gentle with all our other animals. She tolerated the chickens eating her dog food, she cuddled with Brotus, our male kitten and was submissive to the sheep.

We had the great joy of sharing our lives with her for 5 years. Even though I often got annoyed with her for getting in the way when I was working, I so enjoyed her constant companionship. I am amazed at how much she was apart of my life and how many times a day I am reminded of her.

I am reminded of her every time I go out the door. She was always there and would follow me on all my farm chores. Her favorite thing in life, besides laying her head in my lap watching T.V., was to race us when we took the UTV out on the trail that runs through our property. She somehow knew we were going before we ever even got on the UTV. She would start jumping up and down and whining. She would stayed close to me when I hiked alone through the woods, but when the family went she would run ahead and chase squirrels. She will be terribly missed by me and my family.

Living on a farm with animals, you have to get use to the circle of life and the loss of livestock and pets. But to have your pet brutally killed by an evil man for no other reason than he can, that is not something you should have to get use to.

The Sheriff’s Deputy was apologetic that the killer probably will not be prosecuted for killing Shelby, even though the Deputy believes he did it. “What I believe and what I can prove are two different things,” he explained.

So my question now is, how to peacefully co-exist with this evil neighbor?



Save Money and Increase Self-Sufficiency by Making Your Own Condiments and Sauces

Homemade Ketchup with Local Potato Fries

Homemade Ketchup with Local Potato Fries (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

Rural living has many advantages, but being able to make a quick trip to the corner grocery isn’t one of them.  Out of necessity, I have had to improvise when cooking to substitute ingredients or make my own.  While cooking dinner yesterday, I discovered that I was out of ketchup.  Since a trip to the store takes an hour roundtrip, I decided to make my own.   I actually liked my homemade ketchup better than the store-bought brand I have purchased for over 20 years.   I started looking at other items that I purchase that I could make from scratch.  Making my own condiments and other ingredients could save my family money as well as reduce the amount of plastic and glass I throw in the trash.  Also, I like that if our electricity goes out or something happens where we are unable to purchase the things we need from a store, that I can still make the dishes my family enjoys like tuna sandwiches and meatloaf.  In addition to saving money and reducing the waste my family sends to the landfill, I like that I can know what ingredients are in the food I feed my family and where those ingredients come from.

I encourage you to open your refrigerator, spice cabinet and pantry and see how many items that you purchase that you could make yourself.  Try these recipes to get you started.

Homemade Ketchup

1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup sugar
2 T vinegar
1/8 tsp cloves
dash of salt

Wisk items together. The cloves add the flavor of like the name brand ketchup.

Homemade Hellman’s Mayonnaise

1 egg (room temp)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
3 T. vinegar

In a blender on low-speed, blend first 5 ingredients. Slowly add 1/2 c. oil. Add the vinegar and the remaining oil. Blend until firm. Use immediately or store in refrigerator for 1 week.

Homemade Mustard

1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
Dash of salt

Soak mustard seeds in vinegar and water at room temperature for 2 days. (Make sure seeds are submerged, if not, add just enough additional water to cover.)

In a food processor, purée soaked seeds mixture with sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt about 2 minutes or until almost smooth. Add additional water to thin to desired consistency. Add dash of salt.

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

2 cups apple-cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground yellow mustard seed or dry mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or clean pantyhose and let cool completely before using. Worcestershire sauce may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 months.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 cups whole milk
1 cup whole cane sugar OR 3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, warm milk over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, add whole cane sugar or honey and stir until combined. Let the mixture warm up over low heat until steam rises. Do not overheat or milk will curdle and separate.

Reduce the mixture to half of it’s volume, about 4 hours or more. A skin will form on the top of the mixture. You can remove it occasionally, if desired.

When the sweetened milk has reached the desired consistency, skim the top of the mixture and pour into a clean glass jar. Add the butter and vanilla, if desired. Place lid on jar tightly and place into the refrigerator to let cool completely and thicken. Use immediately or refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Homemade Soy Sauce

1-1/2 cups boiling water
4 TBS beef bouillon granules (or 2 cubes)
4 TBS cider vinegar
1 TBS dark molasses
1 tsp sesame seed oil
pinch of black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until dissolved and pour into a bottle with a tightly sealed top. Use immediately or refrigerated indefinitely. Makes 2 cups.

Homemade Beef Bouillon

3 cups celery, minced
3 cups carrots, minced
2 onions, minced
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 lb ground beef

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cover and cook over very low heat for 1 hour. Pour into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.