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Petroleum jelly is rumored to protect chicken combs from chicken frostbite. But does it really work?
Dirt mounds and holes in your yard? Identify and learn how to get rid of moles, voles, squirrels, gophers and groundhogs naturally and how to keep these animals out of your garden.
Living in the country often makes it difficult to access reliable, fast Internet services. One couple searched through their rural Internet options after moving to property outside of town.
Determine the difference between dried food and freeze-dried food to proceed with the preservation method that suits you best.
Now that this couple has moved into their new country home, they take time to plant garlic and a small fall garden in their “front yard.” One small step toward an established homestead, one giant leap for family morale!
One couple is raising hogs to “till” and fertilize their future garden space, as well as produce healthy meat and lard.
Pressure cooking is a quick, healthy and efficient way to cook a myriad of dishes. In this recipe from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Topeka, Kan., vegan cookbook author Jill Nussinow introduces a simple bean chili recipe that includes nutritious fall favorites, sweet potatoes and squash.
One couple has finally moved to the country, with the hope that they’ll soon be eating a lot of homegrown peaches from their yet-to-be-planted orchard. The homestead dream continues, with this story of a successfully organized moving and unpacking experience — and beginning a lifetime of enjoying full view of the sunset from the back porch.
After drilling a well and hooking up the pressure tank, whole-house filter and water softener, one couple covers the steps in having the health department come and test well water for bacteria to ensure the well water is safe to drink.
This post tells the story of how one couple seeded a buffalo grass lawn and began planting native grasses and wildflowers around their property. They started by seeding the open soil that was moved and exposed during the construction of their new country home.
One couple set out to build a green home that incorporated sustainable materials and relied on the expertise of local businesses. This post highlights photos of a few of those features as the house-building process comes to a close.
One couple explains how their well water will flow into the house they are building. They review the water’s path through a water pressure tank, whole-house water filter and water softener. This post highlights the differences between this water-well setup and a house that gets its water from a city or rural water system.
While building a house on rural property, this couple explores the native wildflowers and prairie grass on their land. They plan to nurture the native species already taking hold, and in future years, do all they can to spread their growth.
This is the first post in a three-part series on how a water well works, as experienced by couple building a new home in the country. This initial post focuses on the initial decision to drill a water well, the installation process, and their maintenance plan to keep their well safe.
We recently attended a concert for Climate Change at the Uptown Arts Bar in Kansas City organized by Craig Wolfe and Randy Deutch of the band Soular. The concert premiered a song by Winston Apple that brought tears to some eyes in the audience. There is no way to know for sure if we’re past the point of no return.
While not the most glamorous topic, building a house in the country usually includes a septic system installation. The tank, pipes and lateral lines were all laid out, approved and buried at one couple’s home-construction site last week. Read how the process went, find out how a septic system works, and check out the photos.
When putting in a greywater system, consider how you’ll reuse the water carefully. One couple settles on an underground release system that will irrigate the roots of their future orchard’s trees.
Building a new home with energy-efficient appliances and water-conserving features is now pretty easy. One home-building couple relates how simple these options were to find, thanks to the EPA’s appliance and plumbing labels.
For a new house being built in northeastern Kansas, a mix of spray foam insulation and batt insulation will provide an R-value that will help the home owners efficiently heat and cool their new space.
A lot of progress has been made on one couple's home construction. This post showcases some photos of the progress and highlights some special features being built into the house.
The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors threw a canning party with the Ball electric water bath canner and multi-cooker.
When one home-building couple first started looking for sustainable countertop materials, they were focused on options made with recycled materials. In their quest for the perfect tops, they stumbled upon a more cost-effective way to incorporate recycled countertops into their home’s design.
Consider renting your equipment this fall. Use Featherman Equipment’s nation-wide rental list to save a bundle and share the cost with your neighbors.
A MOTHER EARTH NEWS editor got her body tested for glyphosate residue, and what she discovered led to a number of realizations regarding U.S. environmental regulations and the importance of an organic diet.
Two Great Pyrenees dogs have drastically improved a Kansas sheep flock’s safety, while creating lasting bonds and deep trust.
After looking through many sustainable floor materials for their new home, one couple settles on bamboo flooring for the majority of their living space. As with many house-building choices, finding a truly green bamboo floor requires a little product research.
Even though our goal is to be completely self-sufficient, one thing that I stress is that you don't have to be completely self-sufficient — just make it your goal to become more self-sufficient than you are right now. This blog will help people become more self-sufficient by leading by example, right or wrong. Here is your official invitation: Please come and join us!
Whether your windows are fixed or operable, crank or double-hung, or come with a low-emissivity glazing all make a difference in how well the windows perform in an efficient, passive solar home.
Follow my misadventures in Montpellier, France as I venture to try and make it to the farm of my first WWOOF host. From McDonald's bouncers and bubbly bus-drivers, to no money and no-star hotels, this story has it all.
Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.
Planning a custom kitchen design that incorporates sustainable materials and supports a self-reliant lifestyle can be done. Read one couple’s experience and thought process as they do just that. The graphic shown here is a computer-generated draft modeling of the cabinet design for their future kitchen, but note that the colors and materials do not reflect what will be the final look.
Even with minimal building capability, you can learn how to make light fixtures from old metal chicken feeders. The feeders may be hard to come by, but if you know someone that has been in the commercial chicken-raising business, then you can likely find some in their used feeder pile. The total cost per light was $19.32.
This blog post serves as an informative overview of the steps involved in creating a successful experience volunteering abroad on an organic farm.
A home-construction timeline is often a moving target: Rain, subcontractor schedules and various other conflicts can cause frustrating delays. One couple finds ways to cope with record rainfall that halted progress on their home-building process by working ahead on other decisions they’ll eventually need to make.
In order to save money, water and energy, one couple is building a new home that will incorporate a simple, gravity-run, household greywater system to divert and collect greywater, as well as rainwater from their roof, for landscape use.
Calendula flowers make a lovely floral component for an organic vegetable garden. Plus, they pull their weight in terms of productivity: The petals are edible and can be used in skin-healing salves and balms.
When building a new home, be sure to check into what home construction insurance coverage you need. For this homesteading couple, not having liability insurance would leave them feeling as unprotected as not having sandbags to prevent downhill ditch runoff and sedimentation.
Recent studies show that the jet-stream patterns have changed significantly during the last decade. The oscillations that bring the jet stream down to lower latitudes have increased in frequency and amplitude.
Concrete is not a green or natural building material, but one home-building Kansas couple decides the built-in storm shelter, root cellar and custom greywater system they intend to include in their concrete basement will make using the material worthwhile.
For many, home construction requires financing from a bank. So how does it work after signing and finalizing home construction loan papers? Here’s the standard process for accessing the funds within the loan account. Just one more step in the process of building a dream house and homestead!
This in-depth gardening infographic covers both good and bad insects, as well as companion plants, row covers and more.
A look at "Trees," the newest film from award winning journalist and filmmaker Nick Werber.
As one couple plans their homestead-to-be, they spend time learning the lay of their land. One happy fringe benefit: They used this time as an excuse to go morel mushroom hunting. The results of their efforts were delicious.
The steps involved in receiving a building permit require some advance planning and paperwork. If you’re hoping to build in the future you’ll want to review the building permit requirements in your area several months before your planned construction start date.
Scroll through a short collection of photos documenting the groundbreaking process as one couple prepares to build a home. First up: moving dirt and laying a gravel driveway.
These nifty watering nipples can be added to a chicken waterer to keep your flock’s water free of debris.
Not all green building materials are fancy, engineered products. One couple explores the saved-from-the-landfill options at local Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Hard to beat preventing waste, supporting Habitat for Humanity’s mission, and finding great deals on materials for a new-home construction in one fell swoop.
Monsanto’s most widely used herbicide has been found in the blood of agricultural workers and is now being linked to both mammal and human carcinomas.
These step-by-step instructions will show you how to make a Roman shade to fit any window in your home. You can save lots of money by recycling clothes for the fabric of your custom DIY Roman shade.
In order to secure a building permit to construct a new home, many counties require a septic system inspection and approval. Here’s how one couple had a successful “perc” test done at their future home site, along with a quick explanation of what a perc test is.
Learn the best sources of vitamin D to achieve your recommended dosage of “the sunshine vitamin," and put the "D" in diet!
If you want to build a passive solar house, you’ll need to spend time upfront carefully considering your house plans. Here’s how one couple worked with a contractor and a designer to draw up and then finalize their small home plans with energy efficiency and lifestyle in mind.
Before beginning construction on their new home, this couple is taking steps to prepare their land for their impending move-in by planting perennial natives, building some walking trails, cutting firewood to dry, and more. They’re having a blast!
Bank loans, especially new home construction loans, require some legwork on the part of the future homeowner. One couple explains how they got a loan to build their new house.
A comprehensive roundup of available science and study disproves the arguments that industry uses to support genetically modified food and crops.
Before beginning construction on their new home, one couple assesses which renewable energy sources make sense for their location and situation.
One homesteading couple navigates the final series of meetings with the county planning department and county commission in order to finalize their land survey plat approval.
Meat, eggs and dairy from grass-fed animals provide superior nutrition. Join our nutrition testing program for proof you can use.
It is said that everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. Here is the reason we all talk about it and hints on what to do about it.
With GMOs seemingly everywhere you turn, it’s hard to know where to buy non-GMO Seeds. Here’s how to keep GMOs out of your garden.
When it comes to building their home, one couple decides to hire a contractor to handle the process, but still plans to design their own home and provide labor and materials as much as possible.
If you have the cream and a bit of time, the method for making fresh, rich butter can be as high or low tech as you want.
One couple recounts how they pursued a land zoning waiver in order to secure a building permit on their recently purchased rural property.
Just how many eggs can a chicken lay? The answer depends on several factors. Learn which choices you make can affect your hens’ egg production.
By 2025 half of all children born will be autistic. Herbicides and pesticides are destroying the health of the American people.
One homesteading couple reads up on passive solar house design and then modifies online options to create their own custom passive solar plans. Here are their recommended resources.
One homesteading couple learns what a land survey plat is, and then proceeds to have a plat completed of their rural property.
Why pay high prices at the grocery store when growing herbs outdoors is achievable all winter long?
There are many reasons to save seed. Why should you learn how to save seed?
In order to secure a building permit to construct their future home, we must first complete a soil evaluation and meet the county's requirements for septic system installations.
Whether you are buying a house, purchasing land, or getting ready to build your own home, we recommend starting by setting your priorities and then matching a house design to your needs.
If you want to be hands-on with your house building, a kit home can be an affordable, energy-efficient option. One homesteading couple assess whether building a kit home is right for them.
Bird identification flies to the next level with this beautifully illustrated guide.
We received some good additional tips on buying land and building a home. These pieces of advice are a roundup of comments taken from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Facebook page.
In order to access our land and put in a driveway, we need to secure an entrance permit. If you're planning to buy land and build a home, check what your entrance permit requirements are before you purchase the property.
If you want to own property, you have to find a way to finance buying land. Here, one couple explains how they took out a mortgage to build a home and purchase land.
Join two modern homesteaders as they begin down the road toward building their small home and self-reliant farmstead on their new piece of raw land in northeastern Kansas.
Watch an interview with Rosemary Gladstar, during which she discusses the goals of the non-profit United Plant Savers and the importance of plant conservation. Plus, read about how Rosemary became a leading figure in American herbal medicine.
The history of Samhain reminds us that we once celebrated holidays because of a shared human connection that resonated with the Earth’s cycles — the weather, the moon, the harvest — rather than needless consumerism or “heroic” dominance.
Permaculture has become the new buzzword in certain circles. What is it? Do we need it?
Criminal racketeering by the fossil fuel industry is destroying our environment.
Declare energy independence this Independence Day, 2014
You can make your own homemade cough drops with garden-fresh herbs, such as horehound and marshmallow.
In order to maintain an internal body temperature of 98.6 F, the body perspires or sweats. As the sweat evaporates off the skin it cools the body. The trouble starts when the humidity is so high that the air is saturated with moisture and sweat drips off of you rather than evaporating. My method for avoiding Heat Stroke is called Getting Grounded in the Garden.
Seed Germination depends on Soil Temperature. Transplants need to survive a late spring frost. Here are some handy charts and a lookup tool that will help your timing for a successful garden.
As important as it is to improve life locally, such efforts will not work their way up through the world's economy to solve our biggest problems.
The USDA first published a plant hardiness zone map based on temperature in 1960. Hardiness zones are based on the average annual extreme minimum temperature. What's your zone?
Interest in breeding a perennial version of wheat is once again on the rise. That would help reduce soil erosion, maintain soil cover, and cut back on fossil-fuel and chemical inputs.
Do natural genes that defend wheat against diseases also hurt its productivity and food quality? Sometimes yes, sometimes no - and when diseases hit, resistance genes protect yield and quality.
You can stretch your budget for wedding flowers by growing some of your own. Learn how to select, schedule, and plant flowers — then make them into wedding bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces.
In the Spring of 2010, I quit my job as a high school theology teacher, because I wanted to be a farmer. I am now entering my fourth year of full-time farming, even though I had almost no experience farming. Here’s how I did it, and some tips to help you on your way.
Soil microbes provide numerous benefits to plants. This is a recipe for creating a brew of your own local, indigenous microbes.
A great opportunity to use a new hand-driven sorghum mill and cook down a small batch of sorghum for the crowd at the Lawrence Kansas MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in October!
Sowing confusion about wheat.
Does wheat wreck your health?
Nothing lasts forever, let's do the math.
Drought has been displaced by winter storms in the headlines, but persistent water shortages are plaguing much of North America, and the past 18 months have seen a global outbreak of water emergencies.
Mankind’s use of fossil fuels during the last 200 years has dumped millions of years of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere in the form of Carbon Dioxide. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, 315 gigatons of carbon have been added to the atmosphere, leaving the carbon cycle 315 gigatons out of balance.
Only through selfless, voluntary, individual sacrifice can we expiate our essential human flaw and restore the Garden. We have to accept mortality as the necessary and – if voluntary – heroic alternative. We must divert the resources we are using to mindlessly expand human life and work and invest them, instead, in the improvement of all life both human and non-human.
Every time I leave the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR I come home with a bag full of stuff that I have accumulated along the way. My youngest son typically tears into the bag, once exclaiming that my return from the FAIR is always “like Christmas.”
Strict ceilings on resource use, with rationing, can halt and reverse climate disruption. Australia's experience shows why the alternative to rationing, a carbon tax, is too indirect and too politically toxic to succeed.
Cherished Aladdin lamps were on display at a recent collectors show in Topeka, Kan.
After Publisher and Editorial Director Bryan Welch decided that death might be a personal choice, he was struck by the heroic potential in making mortality a conscious decision. As we are increasingly able to lengthen our lives and perpetuate our health, the notion of death is transformed. Death is our ultimate opportunity to consciously give back.
Discover the Ozarks region's natural beauty and adventure hot spots as told by Mike McArthy of Photozarks.
The Land Institute of Salina, Kan., held the 34th annual Prairie Festival Sept. 28-30, 2012. Keynote speakers including Wendell Berry and Palgummi Sainath inspired local farmers, students, and nature lovers.
Hiking The Ozarks' Lost Valley - Where getting lost is part of the fun! By Mike McArthy of Photozarks
Take a tour of the mills and mountains of the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas, home to some of the finest remaining historic gristmills that still exist in the U.S.A. Based on the popular Historic Ozarks Mills book created by award-winning photographer Mike McArthy. Hydropower's energy-producing capacity is getting well-deserved attention these days, and these old mills provide inspiration.
Debbie Mildfelt shares memories of her grandmother's stories, exploring the life of a large family on a small Kansas farm.
Try spelt, an ancient grain more easily digested than wheat, in your next loaf of sourdough bread. You'll love it.
Kansas City's 18Broadway project is a superb example of how to capture and store rainwater to grow food in the heart of downtown.
Complete streets policies are sweeping the nation, to the benefit of bicyclists, pedestrians and travelers of all ages.
Discovering the perfect lifestyle is more important than finding the perfect place to live.
Small towns across the country in need of a population boost are literally giving away free land to attract new residents and boost their populations. Seekers of the quiet (and low-cost) small town lifestyle can now grab some free land to build their homes.
Last weekend—the second anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the small town of Greensburg, Kansas—residents invited the public to see its progress toward becoming one of the first green towns in the United States. Greensburg homeowners and business owners have rebuilt much of the town with eco-friendly construction materials.
Join Carrotmob in the movement to help local businesses become more green.

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