In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine


Apples apples everywhere but not a drop to drink...oh wait...

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, November 2, 2009

What a gorgeous weekend!!!  We had a nice little heatwave on Saturday and I spent the whole day clad in a tee-shirt and burying our new in-ground dog fence with Kyle.  We learned in the past that it was not wise to leave it above ground for very long so we were extra excited when we got it finished and loop indicator didn't scream at us saying that all our work was for nothing.

As soon as we finished the rain began and the wind started picking up- perfect timing.  We retreated to the comfort of the house and I started dinner while Kyle hopped down the road to pick us up a bottle of wine.  I took a chunk of the dough I had made almost a week ago and began stretching it out to make a pizza.  I have seriously fallen in love with the no-knead dough that I found in Mother Earth News months ago.  All week we've enjoyed fresh-baked bread with dinner and lunch the following day.

I wasn't sure how the pizza crust would turn out, I mean, how can one dough be so versatile?  But I spread it out on a cookie sheet (my favorite; Williams Sonoma Goldtouch nonstick brand...NOTHING sticks to this sucker) and covered it with a bit of sauce, some mushrooms, peppers, sun-dried tomatos, and some great chevre (we like to switch it up from the same old mozzarella) that is made locally.  Hopefully next summer we'll be making our own chevre when May starts milking.

After just a few minutes in the 500 degree oven we slid the pizza off the cookie sheet and onto the wooden cutting board.  The crust was perfect; thin and crispy.  We ate the entire pizza that night and I still could have had more- I love chevre pizza.

Sunday was our official apple cider day!  We had two huge boxes of apples that had been sitting on our porch from weeks ago and it had taken on a lovely caramel-apple smell but it was time for them to go.  We had borrowed a home-made cider press from Kyle's employer and it made quick work of the apples.  I, personally, love the look of old-style cider presses but let me tell you they take forever to make much cider.  This loud, metal monstrosity took away alot of the romance...but produced fast and delicious results.

We fed the apples into the ginder, powered by some kind of small engine, and pulp shot out the bottom into my canning pot.  (Kyle walked away covered from the waste down with apple pulp.)  We, piled the ground up apples between layers of cheesecloth and plastic trays; three layers of apples and three layers of trays at a time.  Kyle pumped the hydraulic jack which squeezed the juice out of the layers of pulp as I held the hose over my stock pot which was covered in another few layers of cheesecloth.  Each batch provided about 3 gallons of cider, sometimes as many as five.  Pouring the cider from the stock pot into the jars proved to be a little difficult and we inevitably spilled what probably amounts to a couple gallons of cider in all.  But, between all the spilling and the taste-tests we ended up with about 25 gallons of fresh, unpasturized cider. 

So, for $50 we filled up our pickup with perfectly good apples and made six gallons of frozen apple slices, at least nine gallons of apple sauce, and 25 gallons of cider.  I'm not sure how much the cost of frozen apples are but when you consider that local applesauce is $3.75 a pint and a gallon of local apple cider around here costs $12.95 we've saved ourselves almost $550 by making it ourselves.  Now if THAT doesn't sound like a good investment I don't know what does!!  Of course this doesn't consider the cost of the jars...which would probably total about $100, but those are re-usable and we still saved alot of money.


  1. Donna Mae Says:
  2. you guys are doing great! :)
    My Grandmom would be proud of you! She was so into Waste Not Want not...:)

  4. This is fantastic!! I made (helped make) apple cider once. We used several different kinds of apples from wherever we could scrounge them. But the real taste trick was to include some crabapples! They provided just a hint of something amazing in the cider. It was fun. But I gotta say.... all this is for young folks like yourselves and like I was then. It's a whole lot of work now. More power to you.

  5. Melissa Says:
  6. Yes! A variety is SO good! We didn't try crabapples, but I'll keep that in mind for next year! And I know what you mean- it IS alot of work- I woke up Monday morning with some sore hamstrings, guess I should have stretched afterwards, ha! :)