- Using glass pans to bake bread in a wood stove. This always sticks out to me as my number one stupid moment, only because I should have known better! One day last winter, I wanted to try baking bread inside my wood stove. It is not one intended for cooking, but I have been successful in cooking in it anyway. I just push coals to the back of the fire box and place my dutch oven in front of them. Well, on this one day I decided to try bread. I found a metal rack to put inside the stove because I was worried about the bread burning on the bottom and then I set my glass bread pans on top. Not smart! By the time the bread was done the pans were completely black. My cinnamon rolls were the worst because the inside of the pan was covered with burned on sugar. I’m actually surprised they didn’t break. It took FOREVER to soak, scrape, and scrub all that stuff off. I had to use a razor blade for a lot of it. Never again. Only cast iron from now on! I know all about baking bread in a dutch oven, so I’m not sure why I even tried this. Just a lapse of judgement I guess. Have you ever had those?!
Not enough firewood. Last winter was a cold one! When heating with only wood, it can take a few months to cut and chop enough to last through the winter. When winter came last year, my husband and dad had not had enough time to prepare with all the other homestead projects going on. They decided to purchase a rick of firewood. They came home with the truck bed completely full and neatly stacked the wood next to the tool shed. I will always remember my husband’s comment. “That should last us a good while!” In reality, it lasted two weeks. Lesson learned, you can never have enough firewood.
- Wearing a long skirt on the homestead. I love wearing skirts! But I learned very quickly that they are not practical for the heavy manual work done on a homestead. Early homesteaders over a century ago, would often tie up their long skirts to make them knee length. Long skirts drag in the mud. Long skirts can catch on fire when cooking outside over a fire pit. Long skirts are a tripping hazard! One incident sticks out in my brain and it was the turning point for me in changing my mind about skirts. My hands were very full (as they usually are in coming back and forth from my home), but I was also carrying my baby who was not old enough to even sit up. I tripped on my skirt, my baby slipped out of my hands and almost fell down the stairs. I really believe that God was watching over us because on his way down, I was able to grab him and keep him safe. The mother instinct is powerful! So I made the decision: No skirts for me while working around the homestead. It just makes things so much easier and safer. I still love wearing them when I go to town or have relaxing days around here.
- Slip on boots/shoes stuck in the mud. This has been more of an issue for the kids than for us adults. My oldest son has some slip on shoes that he loves to wear because they are easy on and easy off. I love them because I don’t have to help him! But I’ve learned they are not good in the mud. On more than one occasion, his shoe got stuck in the mud in mid-stride. He completed his step with only his sock on. Muddy socks are not fun to wash. When it’s really muddy, lace up boots are essential.
- Using baking soda to clean a propane oven. I love the baking soda trick for cleaning an oven. Just spray the inside of your oven with water, sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface and let it sit for a while. Open the door and simply wipe off the mess. There is no yucky nasty smelly chemicals that fill your house. I’ve used this method in an electric oven and it works very well. I found out that it’s not great for a propane oven. I tried it a few months ago with potentially disastrous results. The bottom of my oven has small slits around the edge that allow the heat to come through from the propane flame below. These slits collected baking soda that I could not wipe out. When I turned on the oven, I thought that I had set fireworks off inside! There were so many sparks and popping noises! My only remedy for this was to spray the surface again with water and then turn on the oven for a very short time. I repeated this several times until the sparks stopped. Please tell me if you have been successful in using baking soda to clean your propane oven. I would love to try again with a little more guidance.
- Using a chainsaw without the proper safety equipment. My husband has gotten very good with his chainsaw since we moved away from the city. I love watching him work! He hadn’t been using it very long when one day he found me and said that he was bleeding and needed the first aid kit. He had cut his leg with the chainsaw! It wasn’t bad, just a big scratch. It could have been much worse. Evidently this is a common accident because they make things called chainsaw chaps. After that we purchased some and now he wears them whenever he uses the chainsaw. I’m so thankful that he practices working safely.
Overfilling kerosene lanterns. The sun had already set when I realized that my lanterns were both empty. I rushed outside to fill them before the light was gone from the sky completely. My husband was not home, so my dad offered to help. We got them full and I headed back to our travel trailer (home for the first 9 months of our off grid life). I hung them on their hooks. A few seconds later, my oldest son cries, “It’s dripping!” Kerosene was dripping down on his comforter! I picked it up to carry it out and realized the lantern had already left a trail of kerosene down the center walkway of the trailer when I brought it in. I emptied the lanterns of some of the kerosene and wiped up the mess as much as I could. All while my baby was fussing to eat. Thankfully my parents had an extra comforter in their shed. My husband came home a couple hours later. The first words out of his mouth were, “Why does the trailer smell like kerosene?” Uggghhh…. After that I learned how much my lanterns would hold and only put in that amount.
These are just a few of our oops moments. I can look back now and laugh at some of the moments when at the time I felt like crying. In other moments, I can see how my family has been protected and I’m so grateful. I know that we have a lot of other homesteaders who read our blog. I would love to hear your stories of how you have messed up and learned along the way!