Rainwater cleans clothes better than does hard well water and can be used in electric washing machines.
A simple hand-crank wringer gets clothes cleaner, less wrinkly and dry more quickly when washing laundry by hand off-grid.
Starting with gentle livestock breeds is key to success for new homesteaders. Scottish Highland cattle and Dorper/Katahdin cross sheep proved easy-to-handle and good producers for a retired Missouri couple.
Ripping apart old clothing and other rags to remake into useful items takes more time than purchasing new fabric, but the rewards – reducing landfill overload, reviving an old-fashioned skill, conserving a treasured memento and saving money – are worth the extra trouble.
Homesteaders with a shallow water table and sandy soil can save thousands of dollars over the cost of a drilled well by driving a sand point themselves for a secondary or primary water source.
Planting seedlings from large garden centers often delays production as plants must overcome neonicotinoid insecticides, hormones, and chemical fertilizers when planted in your garden. Learn more about the toxins used by large growers and then support small producers for a healthy garden.
Shag rag rugs made of old clothes are durable, attractive, easy to care for and can be machine sewn in a few hours.
A small food producers' cooperative in Missouri wins a national award and will share with others how to form a successful co-op that focuses on bartering, sustainability and the economy of neighborliness.
Leaving a job with benefits and security to live a simple, country life, also known as un-jobbing, can be scary, but as we learned, so very worth it.
"Folk Medicine" by D.C. Jarvis, M.D., written in 1958, explains how humans would do well to watch animals that know instinctively how to stay healthy. Jarvis advises drinking raw honey and apple cider vinegar for good health and vigor.
St. Paul, Minnesota, not only allows front yard gardens and promotes growing vegetables in containers, but encourages residents to beautify the boulevard with plants, including edibles.
Use a hand water pump to compress air for filling tires without electricity.
Sowing tiny seeds for fall crops is easy with discarded plastic seedling trays and strips of fabric for lifting soil cubes.
Learn how to use a well bucket in a drilled well to get water without electricity.
Learn how to make a scarecrow from scrap materials that moves and makes noise to keep deer, squirrels, rabbits and crows out of the garden.
Why manual water pumps are making a comeback and how to select the right type for a homestead.
Home experiment reveals tomato seedlings started in water heated in a microwave do not grow well. How different are we from plants?
A mortarless rock-wall raised garden bed is easily constructed with simple tools and adds long-lasting natural beauty.
Cheap imported goods do not stand the test of time compared to locally crafted goods.
A copy of "Good Housekeeping" magazine from 1944 reminds us how housewives found ways to stretch meals, repair household items and plant gardens to overcome wartime rationing hardships.
Because county health departments and public water systems check only for a few contaminants, homeowners are advised to test their own water, an inexpensive and simple solution for peace of mind.
White Family Rotary treadle sewing machines are well-made and easy to operate – but the hand wheel operates backward of other treadles. Modern bobbins can be used, if one extra step is taken when winding on thread.
A hippie in the 1980s who demonstrated for a clean environment, particularly water, now owns an online water filter business where she shares her views about the scarcity and fragility of water, the toxins dumped in it and what we can do about it.
Fed up with cheap, easily breakable clothespins, craftsman Herrick Kimball is now making Classic American Clothespins and has a vision for inspiring others to make them in their communities.
Junk mail, old books and other used paper can be easily recycled into something useful. Never buy notepads or envelopes again.
A Texas mom created an all-natural toothpaste that whitens teeth and encourages her children to do a better job of brushing because it’s fun.
Jenna Woginrich’s latest book, “One Woman Farm,” whisks readers away.
A do-it-yourself portable solar cart allows us to have solar power without removing trees from the yard. We can also take it away from the home site and move it indoors before storms.
Bringing back Victory Gardens could help ease hunger and dependence as U.S. social aid programs, such as Food Stamps, are drastically cut.
Author Marjory Wildcraft visits Cuba to learn how people learned to grow food after the country’s economic collapse when fuel and other imports stopped arriving.
United Nations Climate Week invokes memories of first Earth Day and how far we have yet to go to clean up our environment.
Writer attributes eating wild food, game, homegrown vegetables and forest food to good health.
To prevent algae growth deterioration by sun damage to a plastic rainwater tank, cover it with a painted bed sheet.
Water filter supplier offers recommendations to avoid radiation contamination following the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster.
The documentary film “Beyond Off-Grid” is nearing completion and includes a dozen specialists across the United States living self-reliant lifestyles.
A recent trip to Vietnam presents an opportunity to study people-powered devices and transportation.
One woman’s fascinating journey from a high-rise apartment overlooking Hong Kong Harbor to sharing the earthly pleasure of growing food.
Used T-shirts can be turned into many useful household items, including weaving without a loom.
The "Household Discoveries" book from 1909 instructs how to build an outhouse, with plans simple enough for any average 14-year-old schoolboy to follow.
Survivalist Gardener Rick Austin offers natural and long-lasting tips for repelling pests and insects in gardens hidden in the forest.
A Texas family searches for a suitable crop as supplemental income on four acres. After watermelons and flower fail, they succeed with luffa.
Author Rick Austin shares gardening advice from his book, “Secret Garden of Survival – How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest.”
A unique contest challenges people to hand-pump more water in one minute than a 64-year-old grandmother can.
Like many things in nature, the catalpa tree and worm have a special one-on-one relationship.
As the youngest member of a new local food producers and artisans cooperative, 11-year-old Grace is learning business skills while perfecting her artistic talents with homemade jewelry, pot holders and more.
An upcoming inspirational documentary, “Beyond Off-Grid,” that strives to motivate people to return to the old paths, includes self-sufficiency experts from around the country. A MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog prompted the producer to contact us.
Forming a food producers and artisans cooperative brings together farmers, crafters and consumers hoping to revitalize their community, preserve skills and continue the economy of neighborliness
Ban disease-carrying mosquitoes from rainwater collection sites with window screen and scrap materials.
A look back at how we’ve become addicted to electricity and its conveniences since the Great Depression.
Household hints from 1909 reveal useful tips for hanging clothes out to dry.
Homemade transplant pots from newspaper save money and reduce waste.
A 1909 household-hints book reveals old-time method of filtering rainwater for drinking.
How to build a greenhouse of used sliding-glass patio doors that is warmer and less expensive than plastic, and keeps out burrowing animals.
Planting a vine patch for the first time is easy without the need to till up a lot of soil; instead, cut out sod circles and mulch the surrounding area.
On our journey to self-reliance, my husband, Darren, and I have been gathering human-powered tools when we can find them. It’s surprising and sad how quickly hand- and foot-powered tools were junked when electricity became available. From 1850 to 1890, more than 100 apple-pealing devices were patented. Then none, except those running on electric power. And so it goes with thousands of other nifty human-powered appliances.