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Kitchen Time

What we make, grow, raise and buy at Longshadows Ranch


So many people have been asking us if growing our own food and raising animals (chickens) saves money. The short answer is yes! And no. So which is it? Well, it is just a financial balance sheet thing. Our first year garden and animals cost money. It was not too expensive, but we had to acquire, build, forage and scavenge what we needed to get going. And that cost some money, more than if we had simply purchased the food at the store.  And getting set up with chickens – Lord, don’t get me started. By the time we FINALLY figured out the best set up we had spent several hundred dollars. More than what the eggs would have cost had we purchased them. So why on Earth? That is easy.

Now that we are set up in the garden and the chickens are in a coop and large run (large enough for them to be considered free ranging), we are sitting in a good position for next year. The spring planting yielded food and seeds for replanting! The chickens are happy and producing more eggs than we need so we are able to sell a few dozen here and there. The soil is slowly being conditioned and restored and will be home to more plants this fall. The compost we are making is jam packed full of nutrients. The herbs are yielding cooking spices (very expensive to purchase) and medicine, both of which produce excess that we sell. The fruit, nut and berry plants will take a little longer, but by next fall at least half will produce edible offerings and over the coming couple of years will generate some very nice revenue.

Bottom line – by the end of this year we will break even. The money it cost to get going will have been recovered and the true savings and revenue will be seen going forward. As we were putting together this blog post, we had to look at one another and smile. We have accomplished so much in a year! And instead of just buying these things at the store (which has a whole ball of yarn of problems attached like packaging, transport, high carbon footprint) we used the same amount of money to set up a self-perpetuating system. The best part? We will have extra that we can share and sell. Just this little bit helps us end up with more than we had left over when working ourselves to the bone for the “man”. Because we need less money. It is brilliant really.

OK – having answered the question about saving money, I wanted to answer a second question we get – what do we buy and what do we produce/use/eat from our land. We are slowly switching from buying things at the store to making, growing and raising things ourselves. Of course, there are a few things that are easier and more efficient to purchase.


What we produce

  • Cucumbers: in salads, with hummus, into pickles (dill and sweet), tzatziki, seeds to plant
  • Tomatoes: in salads, into tomato sauce, salsa, added to soups and stews, powdered skins for tomato powder, seeds to plant
  • Lettuces (bib, leaf, romaine, arugula): salads, grilled, on sandwiches, lettuce wraps, seeds to plant
  • Potatoes (white and sweet): eaten roasted, boiled, baked, turned into flour for baking, added to many different dishes like soups, stews, casseroles, and small potatoes for replanting
  • Carrots: salads, snacks, with hummus, in cooked dishes, in breads, seeds to plant
  • Celery: salads, snacks, with hummus and nut butters, in cooked dishes, for medicine, seeds for cooking with and replanting
  • Onions: do I need to list all the ways? So many. In addition to the common uses, we also dehydrate and grind into granules used for cooking, bulbs for replanting
  • Garlic: In addition to all the ways we cook with garlic, we also dehydrate and grind into granules, use in many different kinds of medicine, and are added to various things for pest control (horse food for flies, sprays for garden pests, etc.), cloves for replanting
  • Fruit: Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Grapes, Currants, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Persimmons, seeds for replanting
  • Squashes (yellow, zucchini, butternut): for eating, chips, dried and ground for flour, seeds for replanting
  • Peppers: bell, hot, mild, seeds for replanting
  • Herbs/spices: Basil, Oregano, Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Rosemary, Thyme, Peppermint, Fennel, Licorice, Lemon balm, Lemon grass, Hibiscus, Rose hips, Elderberry, Bilberry, Sage, Ginger, Horseradish, Turmeric, Astragalus, Calendula, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Stevia. We will put in more things in the spring. These are used in cooking, for medicinal teas, compresses, poultices, tinctures and for seeds.
  • Beans (Garbanzo, Black and Pinto). All for eating in many, many forms, for making flour, used to fix nitrogen in the garden for plants that need it, for replanting
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Beets – food, molasses, cooking sugar
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage – food and medicine


What we raise

  • Chickens: eggs, eggshells for calcium to feed to chickens and add to dirt in garden
  • Bees: pollinators, honey and wax
  • Rabbits: meat, fertilizer, fur (starting next spring)
  • Sheep: milk, wool, shrub control, fertilizer (starting next spring)
  • Goats (2-3): milk, shrub control (starting next spring)


What we hunt

  • Deer
  • Hog
  • Fish


What we buy in bulk to cook with (some are temporary as we wait for things to grow):

  • Flour: Organic unbleached flour, gluten-free flour blend (eventually we will produce this from crops we grow, but for now we buy in bulk)
  • Oats (we will plant oats next year)
  • Soy Sauce (we are putting up a batch but it takes a year)
  • Maple Syrup (we will tap in the spring)
  • Vinegar (until we start fermenting our own)
  • Molasses – when we use up our supply we will make our own from beets
  • Sugar (raw, brown): tapping trees in the spring so we will have this for next year
  • Almonds (planting)
  • Walnuts (planting)
  • Pecans (planting)
  • Hazelnuts (planting)
  • Cashews (will always buy – they are toxic to handle)
  • Oil – Olive and safflower
  • Pepper and salt
  • Rice
  • Lentils – red, brown and green
  • Baking items: Baking soda, Baking powder, Cacao Powder
  • Extracts: Vanilla, Almond, Mint and Peppermint


What we buy/barter at the store, farmer’s markets, from other producers:

  • Apples, Pears, Peaches, lemon, lime (planting)
  • Ketchup (working on a recipe)
  • Yogurt (trying to figure out how to do this from nut milk)
  • Cheeses (until we have sheep and goat milk, then we will make our own)
  • Tahini (until we make our own)
  • Tortilla Chips (until we figure out how to make our own)
  • Nutella (we will make this once our hazelnuts are producing)
  • Oranges
  • Cereal
  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate chips (dairy-free)
  • Butter (Earth Balance)
  • Meats: Beef (very little), bacon, sausage, pepperoni, sometimes lunchmeat
  • Salmon, Tuna
  • Yeast
  • Popcorn
  • Coffee


What we make that we used to buy:

  • Hummus
  • Jellies
  • Desserts (Cookies, brownies, ect.)
  • Breads
  • Flours: Almond, cashew, oat, squash, potato
  • Milks (nut): almond, cashew, oat
  • Cheeses: almond, cashew
  • Dog food
  • Chips: all different kinds
  • Tortillas
  • Granolas and other snack mixes
  • Pizza
  • Tea
  • Pasta: spaghetti, fettuccine, lasagna, capellini, spatzle
  • Dumplings and eggrolls
  • Ice cream
  • Pancakes
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Tomato sauce
  • Salsa
  • Pickled and fermented foods
  • Soup stock
  • Refried beans, bean burgers, bean “meat” balls


You never really think about it, but there can be a lot of different individual foods in your house. Perhaps even more than we have here at Longshadows Ranch! We try to not have more food than we need, because we dislike throwing food away. If we don’t eat it, sell it or share it, we compost it.

Join us on our journey and follow all of our blogs. We will keep you informed every step of the way. Make sure you leave a comment if you have questions or just want to say hi! If you do have questions, we will do our best to answer them. Thanks for visiting Nature Cure on the Homestead.


Check out our other blogs

Ranch News by all of us,
our homesteading journey and transitioning from a city to country state of mind.

Nature Cure on the Homestead by Eli
natural medicine at home and the homestead.

Stall Talk by Sophia
covers everything about horses.

The Birds & The Bees by Brian M
adventures with chickens, bees and more.

Pick, Shovel, Hammer and Saw by Brian Kuhn
our building, remodeling, constructing and problem-solving endeavors.
Note: these are often problems of our (his) own making :-)

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