Reuben and I were married less than a year when my parents called a family meeting at the farm in the summer of 1998.

My dad, a career computer programmer, told us about the glitch in the computer programs that didn’t plan for a four digit year. What would happen when computers running every area of our economy rolled over from the year ’99 to the year ’00?

If the problems in all the systems that run our lives – electricity grid, banking, manufacturing, fuel delivery – weren’t corrected in time, the Year 2000 could be a disaster, he said.

It seemed that the best thing to do would be to prepare for failures by storing food, preparing our homes “off grid” and learning skills to do things ourselves.

The Y2K glitch ended up not being a disaster but learning these new skills had a huge affect on how Reuben and I made decisions over the next two decades.

Traditional Food Preparedness

Reuben and I enjoyed re-reading the classic Laura Ingalls Wilder books as we bought 5 gallon buckets of local honey, made a field trip to the Mormon food storage cannery, and experimented with storing our home grown carrots in buckets of saw dust over the winter.

The details of homesteading, especially in Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods, fascinated us as we contemplated making our own lye from wood ash, curing our own meat and grinding our own flour.

You know, the only one of those three we haven’t done yet is make our own lye.

Learning to prepare and store food started us on a path that still keeps us learning and now teaching traditional food skills to others.

“Prepping”  is just relearning what our grandparents knew about survival.

You plant and harvest as much as you can and you make sure you know how to store it through the winter.

Thoughts on Curing Meat for St. Patrick’s Day

When I was brining my beef brisket for St. Patrick’s Day, my thoughts revolved on preserving meat.

What if my freezer full of meat was threatened by a long term power outage?

Prepping taught me that if you have enough salt, you don’t have to lose it.

Beef brisket is a tougher cut of meat that needs to be slow cooked for hours. Brining it not only imparts that salty seasoned flavor, it preserves it and tenderizes it.

Imagine the New York City corner delis serving corned beef and pastrami all year long. They had a barrel of seasoned salt water stacked with briskets to keep up with supply and demand.

If I had to make the decision to empty the meat out of my freezer I know what I would need to have on hand in order to save it:

  • large storage containers: barrels, plastic storage bins, or maybe even my empty freezer
  • pounds of salt: 2 cups of salt per gallon of water
  • clean water

That’s a good reason to keep an ample supply of sea salt on hand.

But in the mean time, I’m only brining a five pound brisket in my refrigerator for a week and a half so that we can have a tender, flavorful, additive-free corned beef and cabbage meal on March 17.

I wrote down exactly what I did so that you can Make Your Own Home Cured Corned Beef this week too!

It’s pretty simple: a brisket (from Willow Haven Farm!), salt, pickling spice and water.

In fact the recipe also include the ingredients for making your own batch of pickling spice. But don’t let that deter you from making your own brisket. Feel free to buy a pre-made pickling mix (I do).

Download Recipe

Tessa’s Farm Video Gives You A Peak Inside

You’ll start in my makeshift kitchen where I show you how I got my huge brisket into brining bags.

With the bakery just behind, I question Reuben about his bread and introduce you to the new baker. Then I head outside to show you the progress in the greenhouse and what is holding us up from planting in our field greenhouses. Lastly, you get to meet Reuben’s dad who made a special trip to help get us back into our farm house kitchen.


As Always…

We support your desire to have a good, healthy way of life and food on your table that supports that goal.

We’ll keep farming for you!

Reuben and Tessa DeMaster
Willow Haven Farm

P.S. Don’t miss out on these two exciting workshops:

You need the confidence that knowledge from a clinical expert can give you so you can advance to the next level in your overall health and enjoy healthy skin and clean facial products.

Discover Medicine in Your Food is a workshop that will introduce you to healing foods you didn’t even know could improve your health.  10 am.

Natural Beauty Care from Your Kitchen will give you the confidence to ditch your toxin laden commercial make up, lotions, creams, cleansers and toners. 1 pm.

Date: March 23, 2024 ​Time: 10 am & 1:00 pm ​Location: Willow Haven Farm, New Tripoli, Pennsylvania ​Price: $35/ per session for farm members. $45 for non members

Spaces for Karla’s workshop are limited, so secure your spot now to ensure you don’t miss out on this experience.


P.S. The Farm store is open on Saturday to help you stock up on eggs, milk, cheese, vegetables, natural cleaners, home remedies and more.

Open this weekend!

Market Hours: Saturday: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM