Recommended: Self Sufficient Me

Welcome to my โ€œRecommendedโ€ series of posts. These will be weekly โ€“ for now โ€“ posts about resources and sites I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. ๐Ÿ™‚ Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.

I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!

As we continue to clean up, repair and improve things here on the family farm, we do have an ultimate goal to be as self sufficient as we can. Our health and mobility requirements mean we’ll probably never be completely “off the grid”, but there is still a lot we can do.

Growing up here, we were basically subsistence farmers. We grew, raised, preserved, butchered much of our own food, and for our animals, grew most of their feed, too. When it came to gardening, there was a time when the garden was close to an acre in size. This was your typical garden of everything planted in long rows, far enough apart to run a tiller in between. In my mind, gardening meant growing food. Flower gardening was just an aside, and not something I understood as “real” gardening, for may years. Even now, when I think “gardening”, my mind always goes to growing food.

As productive as my mother’s garden was, however, it is not how I want to garden, for many reasons. Everything from the rocky soil where the garden used to be, to mobility and accessibility, leads me to wanting to do raised bed gardening.

The following resource is very much the sort of thing I have in mind. Self Sufficient Me (Website YouTube) is an Australian site, so obviously, there is a lot that won’t apply to us in central Canada! We’re not going to be growing papayas anytime soon. ๐Ÿ˜€ However, this resource has lots of information that can be used pretty much anywhere. Along with their website and YouTube channel, they are on other social media, which you can find linked here. They also have a second YouTube channel here.

It was through the videos that I discovered this resource. I haven’t been able to go back through all 8 years of them, but I’m slowly working on it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The videos include some very basic stuff, perfect for beginning gardeners.

This next video really caught my attention, as hugelkultur is sort of the method we will be using when we build our raised beds. We might not use such large stumps and logs, but will likely have lots of big branches!

I especially appreciate that he talks about what didn’t work about the raised bed, as well as showing how the soil looks after 4 years.

Also, I love his tools!!!

Of course, he covers building raised beds as well.

He’s got all my prerequisites: height, strength, easy and cheap! ๐Ÿ˜€

Don’t have the space to do raised beds? He’s got you covered there, too.

He also goes beyond growing vegetables, and has videos on raising animals, too.

He readily admits that he is no carpenter, and that’s one of the things I love about it. He’s big on going ahead and building things, without worrying about being perfect.

We don’t have to worry about snakes where we are – the snakes we have would be more in danger from the chickens than the other way around – but definitely predators are an issue.

Chickens are not the only critters he raises, and you will find videos about raising quails and ducks, as well as videos reviewing products – the good and the bad! – about pest control, composting, watering, and so much more. I definitely recommend going through the many videos available. I’m sure you will find plenty to inspire you!

The Re-Farmer

Recommended: XiaoXi’s Culinary Idyll

Welcome to my โ€œRecommendedโ€ series of posts. These will be weekly โ€“ for now โ€“ posts about resources and sites I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. ๐Ÿ™‚ Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.

I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!

My very first Recommended post was for the YouTube channel Liziqi. I love the video format that makes it accessible to all, including those who don’t understand any Chinese language. Since discovering this channel, I’ve found a couple others that I now follow that are similar, yet very different. This is one of them. XiaoXi’s Culinary Idyll, which focuses on both cooking and hand crafts.

I didn’t know that, when I stumbled on the first video I saw: How to make delicious braised chicken out of stone.

Out of stone? That certainly piqued my curiosity when it showed up in my feed, recommended by YouTube.

As I started watching the video, I was perplexed. Where is the chicken? What is he going to do with that rock he dragged out of a riverbed?

By the time I got to the cooking part of the video, I was completely hooked.

How do you braise a chicken out of stone?

First, find a rock and carve it into an exquisite cooking pot.

This is a very new channel, less than a year old at the time of this writing. So it didn’t take long for me to go through all of the videos.

The first videos started off with a very different feel. At first, it was straight up cooking videos.

Other videos featured a lot more people and activities.

Then the crafting portion came into the picture – with a sense of humor!

Are you having trouble making traditional noodles by hand? That’s okay – use a machine!

First, cut down a tree…

As I worked my way through the videos, from oldest to newest, I got the sense that the makers of these were kind of feeling their way around on the focus. Where the Liziqi videos started out with just her, filming herself until she could finally hire a couple of people to do the recording for her, these videos appear to have been made with a professional film team from the start.

I’m okay with that.

The format they seem to be settling on is basically just the one guy who first makes a thing, then somehow uses that thing to prepare a food. Both of which are gorgeous.

Then you get to watch him eat. ๐Ÿ˜€

I readily admit, every time I see the guy working in his shop, I suffer from an extreme bout of tool envy.

You’ll see him doing everything from forging a frying pan (one of the few videos where he cooks food, but you don’t see it being eaten at the end), to weaving various useful objects (I will never look at a bamboo steamer the same way again!), to making things with wood and resin and…

…succulents?

While there is a lot of focus on traditional crafts, there is definitely a modern, even high tech, side to some of these videos.

While these are hardly “how to” videos, they are still quite inspiring – whether you’re looking for ideas on things to make, or ideas for cooking traditional Chinese food!

Or going fishing with a woven, waterproof hat you just made.

Even if you have no interest making the things or cooking the food, the videos themselves are beautiful to watch, and seeing his exquisite attention to detail is a pleasure in itself.

I highly recommend working your way through all of the videos.

You might not want to do it while hungry, though. ๐Ÿ˜‰