In many communal kitchens, may it be a hostel or a student dorm, postings are usually to be found; “Leave it nicer than when you came”, they read. That can be said to humans on earth too, to leave it better than it was. By living and working in nature, with nature, I believe that our surroundings here at the homestead are ecologically healthier, more diverse and vibrant than should we as humans not have been here.
Goat School will be traveling to British Columbia and then to Ohio in September.
Overcoming my personal fears and welcoming the newest addition to our homestead - honeybees
Our August at the Hostel has best been described visually; a flat palm held about an inch from our face.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick honors the determination of women farmers, even as she observes a bittersweet month on her farm.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Dyan catches us up on the spring happenings at Bittersweet Heritage Farm.
HOMEGROWN blogger Dyan finally spots signs of spring on her Maine dairy farm, from sunrises to newborn goat kids to eggs of every shade. Lovely!
Getting your very first chicks is an exciting experience and a very big step for most first-time homesteaders. Here is some advice for enjoying your new additions and avoiding any potential problems.
Winter has it's challenges, but the snow-capped beauty and the adventure of living simply amongst it makes it more than worth it.
Thanks to helping hands, everything gets done.
Having a hostel of your own, gives you the best of both worlds; the comfort of home with the vibration of travelers.
A homestead is about so much more than just mindful ways of producing one's needs; the health of the land and landscape is nothing if the health of the homesteader isn't there. The most sustainable homestead is one where the homesteaders like what they're doing and therefore will keep doing it. The self-fulfilling prophecy that we're all too busy is a highly unsustainable way to attempt sustainability, whether it's for a homestead or a summer business.
Growing an organic garden with compost I made using natural material from our surroundings is to comply with nature's way of taking care of itself – it's to remain humble for a true and tried life cycle and acknowledge our inevitable part in and connection to life on earth.
Few other vegetables represent summer as a sun-ripe, homegrown tomato does.This is how we raise and plant tomatoes at the Deer Isle Hostel and Homestead.
The community of Penobscot, Maine, has declared their local food sovereigny in a move to bypass restrictive state and federal regulations.
Spending the time to get to your goats is more important than you may think
Natalia Bragg of Wade, Maine, is a sixth-generation herbalist who is gaining well-deserved recognition for her work with the rich variety of plants and trees on her remote farm.
There are many benefits with raising pigs for meat, and also some common sense ways of doing so in a sustainable way.
Hints for kidding in the very cold weather.
Making our own compost is not only a way to meet our need of fertilizer, it's also a way to redirect the garden scraps, chicken manure, leaves and grass cuttings from the waste stream to the resource river. Another area where this applies around our homestead, is our use of a composting toilet. For us, the difference between what goes down a flushing toilet and what accumulates in the buckets in the outhouse is the difference between waste and resource.
That something is easy doesn't always mean it's simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.
One thing that gardening has done to me, as to so many others probably, is that I've started to pay attention to where the food on my plate comes from, and usually the answer is “from our garden."
A homesteader's year is over for this time. Nothing cleans the yard up as a foot of snow, and I think it's here to stay. winter on Deer Isle is great, so great I consider it something we deserve after getting through the summer, both for us as homesteaders and for us as a part of this community.
After deciding to take a year off from lambing, Maine dairy farmer Dyan has a change of heart and gets a four-legged Valentine, a baby lamb.
As homesteaders, all the homesteading rewards are directly ours to keep and our work provides most of our necessities but the multiple returns we get from our homestead also give us what money couldn't buy, such as the self reliance, sense of security, dignity, the beautiful place where we spend our days and the choice to set our own schedule.
The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.
Spiller Farm has a history of growing incredible amounts of food for those in need. They are presently working on steps to make sure that their farm and land will always have a focus on agricultural undertakings.
Using a mortar and pestle to create a variety of spice and herb blends.
Where is our economic security?
What if I find land where I can homestead but it's at a location where no one does the same thing? The lack of a homesteading community can be a discouraging factor when looking for land, but over time, if one is patient, it is very likely you'll find others that are drawn to the basic, sustaining, diverse and positive actions of homesteading.
Stay warm, find a hobby and cull the livestock; here are some of the things we do to prepare for winter!
The process of saving seed for next year begins while the growing season is still going strong
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan shares a preview of her children's book about raising lambs.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick recounts a poignant start to lambing season on Bittersweet Heritage Farm.
Regular tasks that keep our cabin comfortable and welcoming.
As the planetary ecology falters, and finite resources are depleted, communities everywhere will be challenged to create vibrant local economies that function within and help to renew local ecosystems.
Calling all gardeners — If you want to view a remarkable series of photographs of vegetables as art, check out Lynn Karlin’s exhibit, Taking a Stand: the Pedestal Series. You can view the series here http://goo.gl/K1apd or at the Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast, Maine from September 28 to November 14th.
Any other year in March, the homesteading chores are back in full swing after the winter break. This year, winter lasted longer than ever and it wasn't until the end I could even conceive of getting any of the usual stuff done. Here's the list of what I normally do.
With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.
Here are some of the most important things to do around the homestead in April - or at least asap.
A well-thought-out garden design will make your work enjoyable and manageable and will encourage the gardener's presence and attention.
Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Dyan recalls how the seasons affected her childhood and how they guide her activities now on her Maine dairy farm.
One of my best pieces of advice to those wishing to establish a homestead is to reach out to the community. Happy neighbors are a big part of a happy homestead and for us it was not only a way to drum up support and engagement for our project, but it was also transformative for our experience and for our business.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick gets through winter — and goat breeding — by taking a page from her herd and sticking together.
The new apple orchard we're planning for our homestead won't be the classical lawn-layout most people are accustomed to. Our edible landscape will mimic a natural landscape with the goal to reduce interference such as spraying while providing organic fruit, berries and herbs for many months of many years.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short time of being a goat herder, it’s that at breeding time, the goats are in charge.
Dyan writes about the changing season at Bittersweet Farm, and introduces us to the newest member of the flock, a black sheep named Little Man.
To grow, keep and eat your own food keeps you away from the food industry, the fossil fuel based agriculture, food stores and logistics.
Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough.
Up against China, the tar sand extraction, dysfunctional global summits and the endless cry for economic growth, any individual's actions to halt global warming might seem insignificant. But conscious decisions that bring us closer to nature can make a difference and might be the best we can do.
Here's 5 of the basic steps to how we created our small organic home orchard/edible landscape. It's a permaculture designed area that has been created with a natural landscape as inspiration, with the least amount of human input. It will host not only heritage apples but several other fruits and berries, herbs and medicinal plants.
February can be a hit or miss for us here at Deer Isle Hostel - snow and cold demands more creativity to stay busy, but also provides a great chance not to do much. Planting onions from seed, shoveling snow and planning for the Hostel season 2015 are some things I do to keep the cabin fever under control.
Homegrown.org blogger Dyan Redick of Bittersweet Farm honors - and helps keep alive - the legacy of fellow Maine goat herdswoman Pixie Day.
Using fresh raw cream to make butter by hand.
Mary Quinn Doyle shares a background about how she became involved in a volunteer project traveling around Maine for over two years visiting over 180 unique farms to take photos and write stories about them for an educational book and website.
Here at Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, we use a compost pile built with local, natural materials and a 100-foot water pipe to create a steaming hot shower.
There used to be, from Maine to Georgia and west to the Mississippi river, 20.000 grafted apple varieties. Today, when commercialism is king and the most known apple varieties are the 5 kinds offered in the supermarket those old varieties are worth paying attention to. As with all things around us, diversity is interesting and sustainable.
For the past few years, we've experimented with different ways of storing food fresh and now we're eating garlic, onions, squash, carrots and beets in June.
In this blog series, we look at how a small wind turbine works, while exploring the concept of the smart home microgrid.
As fall wanes, HOMEGROWN Life contributor Dyan spends time observing and learning from the language of animals on her Maine dairy farm.
Using snowshoes to keep our paths and trails open as the snow piles up.
Darning socks is a simple thing to do - and a statement for self-sufficiency!
Even with the daylight hours lately, we still have quite a bit of winter left. Good health – both physically and mentally – might require a little bit more effort than in the summer but can still be achieved and maintained though this homestretch before spring.
Purchase romaine lettuce once, regrow it again and again! Use this simple tutorial to slash your salad bill while enjoying tasty, healthful greens.
A good gardening tool is lightweight, ergonomically correct and has a positive impact on the soil. We only use hand tools (non-powered) in our gardens since we find that we can get the job done easier and more efficiently with a more correct impact on the soil and less impact on our bodies than we would with any machines.
The actual footprint of a garden is only one of many factors for how much food that can be produced there. With succession planting, good soil and some planning the same garden area can produce substantially more food.
Even as far north as Maine I can harvest produce from March to December with parsnips to dig from under the frost in February without the use of row covers or a greenhouse. In some beds I do two or more succession plantings that together with the root cellar keeps me with fresh produce all year.
We use some old and tried techniques for how to process the meat, like curing and smoking the big cuts so they'll keep without being put in a freezer. We're constantly striving to learn new, mostly old ways of utilizing and preserving more of the pigs for our own consumption, by making headcheese, confit and lard.
Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.
Many aspects of my homesteading life lie close to what we as humans have evolved for: the outdoors, physical activity, whole food and days and years that follows the rhythm of the seasons and the sun. But there are other, less obvious biological aspects for why I believe homesteading can improve health and well being.
Weeks eight and nine of our cross country bicycle trip start in Brantford, Ont., and end in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The previous installment focused on the benefits of small wind turbines for homeowners who are grid-tied, off-grid, or have battery backup systems. In this short episode, we’ll go over the main terminology associated with small wind turbines.
In our first installment, we covered the basics of electricity generation and the process by which a wind turbine creates power. This time, we’ll look at the benefits of adding a wind turbine as a source of clean power for your home.
In a post-carbon agriculture, much of the work of growing food will be done through physical labor and one in six of us will need to have our hands in the dirt. How do we foster a new generation of 50 million fit farmers?
Get the inside scoop on how successful farmer and author Jean-Martin Fortier farms 11/2 acres using soil building and no-till methods.
Ordering bees in January doesn't seem to make sense, until you understand that April is the cruelest month. Plus, if you order bees in January, and then you don't need them - that's just a reason to celebrate! Order early!