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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
930 articles written by Shannon


There is no denying the passing of time when one is a Mama. Days turn to years and years into a childhood and suddenly our firstborn is up to my chin.


The girls used to love helping me carry slop out to the hogs. I say used to because the hogs have been gone for quite some time – something I apparently forgot to mention here. Two were harvested and one simply got away and we are thankful for the unexpected provision of meat.


It seemed as good a time as any to plant seeds a few weeks ago so out we went with brassicas and beets and dirt beneath our finger nails. And now here we are, warm and no rain since and thankful I remembered to only plant half the seeds from these packets.


The big project lately has been the root cellar and the roof over it to keep the water away. The roof is now done, the gutters up, the steps put in. This room over top has many possible uses so we will see how it ends up.


And there are new chicks! A few broody hens all hatched out around the same time and so every morning I hear their little chirping from near the barn. It is no less than a miracle every time this happens; a direct provision from God. We are grateful.


And so the flock thickens, as they say (they don’t really say that, do they?). But the chicken flock continues to grow and the young ones are more than eager to send feed flying in whatever direction it might be taken to supplement the weeds and bugs these birds spend their days finding.

The evening milking is barely happening before dark; the morning milking sometimes even sees a sweater. September is here with her golden light and whispers of fall but I think we will plant some seeds indoors this week while we wait for the last warm days of summer to pass us by.

How are things at your place during this last month of summer?

For some time we were eating gumbo several times a week, that spicy meaty stew served in seven rice-filled bowls. The bowls of okra were swiftly making meals and all was in balance… up until about three weeks ago.

That’s when the children collectively decided they were completely done with okra. It seems as though they may have had a meeting, the young girls finally convincing the hungry older brothers that enough was enough already. Joshua must not have been privy to such a meeting, and maybe didn’t even receive the memo afterward, because he still happily gobbles down this southern delicacy.


So I was at a cross roads, so to speak. Continue with the gumbo in militant fashion or preserve the okra to spread throughout the year a little more. Because the black-eyed peas are simultaneously giving so generously and are in low regard among the young ones after perhaps one too many stir-fries, it made sense to start preserving the two in tandem.

These jars will be mixed into spiced meats and tomatoes, onions and celery when the frost comes and armfuls of firewood move into the house on a daily basis. Maybe by then the distance from the vegetables of the late August garden will be sufficient to happily warm empty bellies again. If not, perhaps the homegrown chicken broth will be just the sauce these vegetables need.

Either way they will get eaten, of that I am sure.

Canned Gumbo Vegetables


Whenever I can vegetables of more than one variety, I consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation and simply follow the instructions for the vegetable that requires the most pressure and/or time. In this case, that is the okra.

I pick and clean the okra and black-eyed peas, several large harvest bowls being about enough for a canner load. I then snap the beans into 1″ pieces and slice the okra into 1/2 inch slices. These get raw packed into the jars and then covered with hot water, leaving headspace.


I then process the jars at 15 lb of pressure for forty minutes in my pressure canner. Once the jars are cooled and the rings removed, they are tucked into cabinet shelves next to the canned squash and cucumber pickles from the early summer garden.

And what a joy it is to see those shelves filling up.