Mary Jane Phifer





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6/5/2014
The old goat barn must go! Follow the progress as we choose how to best replace an aging (and dangerous) structure for livestock housing. Pole barns are an economical alternative to traditional framed barns, are long lasting and multipurpose. You can even live in one!
7/10/2014
You decide you want a pole barn, what is next? Site preparation can yield some surprising findings. Flexibility when planning a pole barn is key to success and making adjustments to your plans early will be most beneficial; saving time, money and perhaps even improving on your original ideas!
3/17/2014
One of the most exciting facets of raising goats is when kids are born on your farm. Knowing how to prepare for the grand event makes for a smoother and more successful kidding process.
7/11/2014
What to do with all that surplus asparagus? Maybe you have too many pole beans? Or okra? This is the best ever recipe for pickling extra asparagus, and the recipe can also be modified for any thin vegetable you might have from your garden's bounty! Canning is such fun!
6/17/2014
Roasting green coffee at home is not only easy, but the first step in making a truly great cup of coffee. Roasting at home also does not mean you are limited to small batches; follow the instructions below to roast 3 lbs of beans and get ready for a great cup!
3/14/2014
Pre-spring work up for beehives coming out of winter.
12/18/2013
With the increase in small-scale farming activities, people are looking not only at backyard poultry but also into raising backyard livestock. This post is about Mary Jane Phifer’s experience with Irish Dexter cattle, a small-sized dual-purpose.
1/16/2014
After trials and errors with various forms of bread baking, it seems that for sandwich bread success, the key is having the right tools for the right job. Introducing the Pullman Loaf Pan!
3/18/2014
Intensive grazing management can answer questions regarding field carrying capacity, how much forage your animals need each day and how to manage what you have. Pizza, anyone?
6/3/2014
Not enough hours in the day? Want to make tomato sauce but are short on time? Use this recipe to make great-tasting tomato sauce (using frozen tomatoes)at your leisure. Perfect for pressure canning and delicious!
3/14/2013
A general description of how aquaponics works and an easy DIY aquaponic set up.
4/11/2012
I started my poultry quest way too early for New Englanders: January! I marked my calendar in red and drew childish pictures of a chicken on the calendar blocks. I was as impatient as a 6-year-old waiting for Christmas morning.
11/9/2010
MaryJane's Farmgirls is a network of women's groups across the country who meet to discuss and share their experiences in modern homesteading, including sewing, cooking, voluteering and more.
2/28/2013
What exactly is hydroponic gardening? Though it may sound complicated, it’s really not.  The word "hydroponic" comes from the Greek "hydro," meaning water, and “ponic,” meaning work. The basic concept is this: growing plants in a nutrient rich water solution rather than in soil.
3/29/2013
By starting seeds indoors, you get a jump start on spring garden planting.
3/11/2011
Transportation rock stars, Janette Sadik-Khan and Congressman Earl Blumenauer, tell National Bike Summit attendees that local advocates are the real headliners in the bicycle movement.
12/12/2013
Sarah is a friend to the farm who taught Ilene Freedman how to make "Farm Chi." Farm Chi is Sarah’s version of kimchi, fermented mixed vegetables from the seasonal farm harvest.
7/21/2014
If you are challenged by growing carrots, you might consider transplanting them and growing some dancing carrots.
6/22/2011
How do you travel, with a family, and maintain some environmental dignity? We recently went exploring in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
1/16/2012
Solar protection window treatments that never go out of season.
8/1/2011
Who needs a TV drama, when, out the back door, we have our own alfresco drama, complete with territory battles, births, deaths, alien invasions, mystery, beauty and fornication, unfolding daily before our very eyes if we care to look.
11/18/2011
Recently in the rental house in which we are living, we had furnace issues, toilet issues and door handle issues. In each of these cases, men came to look, and all announced, …“the whole thing will have to be replaced”.
8/26/2013
It takes a few good rationalizations to get through the busiest part of the growing season.
8/8/2013
Making garlic powder is easy, and a good way to preserve a crop of split garlic.
10/23/2013
Curing sweet potatoes so their starches turn to sugars; plus my three favorite recipes.
2/17/2014
From our last post learning about the difference between large and small ponds let’s jump into the large (below ground) ponds to discover what happens to them and what makes each pond unique. We’ll see that the watershed has a great effect on the pond water quality and the pond inhabitants have an effect on each pond even the wildlife that visits our ponds pose some challenges.
6/27/2014
Growing corn early by transplanting may be unconventional, but its a great way to beat the challenges and...eat corn in July!
4/17/2014
Echinacea tincture is easy to make. Getting through the psychological inertia might be the hard part of the process.
1/13/2012
It has become a Christmas ritual for me to clean out my mother's fridge. I find whiskery gnarled morsels, shoved to the back of the fridge many months previously, unseen, and untouched by my mother’s arthritic hands. Do I compost all this detritus?
4/23/2013
This post outlines the process when an inspector from your state regulatory agency visits your property to view pesticide damage.
8/26/2013
The victim of a spray drift incident often finds him or herself on the defensive.
4/12/2012
In part we owe our very existence here on earth to the unicellular prokaryotic eubacteria. It is right and proper that eubacteria be a kingdom all of its own. Eubacteria is my “new best friend”, and I have taken a personal interest in it.
4/12/2012
In part, we owe our existence on earth to the unicellular prokaryotic eubacteria. It is right for eubacteria to have a kingdom all on its own. Eubacteria is my “new best friend”, and I have certainly taken a “personal interest” in it.
4/12/2012
In part, we owe our existence on earth to the unicellular prokaryotic eubacteria. It is right for eubacteria to have a kingdom all on its own. Eubacteria is my “new best friend”, and I have certainly taken a “personal interest” in it.
4/12/2012
In part, we owe our existence on earth to the unicellular prokaryotic eubacteria. It is right for eubacteria to have a kingdom all on its own. Eubacteria is my “new best friend”, and I have certainly taken a “personal interest” in it.
6/4/2013
The Verdict discusses two possible findings of your spray drift incident after the State Enforcement Agency inspects your property.
5/14/2013
This installment explains what complainants might encounter during the time between the State’s pesticide drift inspection and the results of this inspection.
4/15/2013
Reporting Pesticide Drift outlines the steps you should take to report a pesticide incident to your state enforcement agency.
9/23/2013
The victim of a spray drift incident may not see any actual damage, but plants, trees and possibly people, still are drifted upon.
11/19/2013
The many problems associated with recognizing, treating and reporting pesticide drift exposures.
10/16/2013
What it means to stick up for yourself when you experience pesticide drift.
11/8/2013
Transforming a crock full of cucumbers into old-fashioned dill pickles is a bit of magic.
11/26/2013
Ilene Freedman and her family reshaped their Chanukah tradition to feature family activities instead of presents.
2/17/2014
Candlemas is an ancient midwinter holiday, when people would take inventory on their stock of candles, pantry food storage and hay in the barn to get the homestead through the second half of winter.
1/20/2014
Ilene White Freedman celebrates with her friends at their homestead-warming, after over two years of living in a trailer while renovating a dilapidated house. Their restoration includes the original logs and stone kitchen of a historic cabin. Some uninvited guests from the farm’s livestock take a house tour too.
6/12/2014
Ilene White Freedman contemplates sharing goat milk with the nursing kid.
5/28/2014
Ilene White Freedman’s goat is in labor, reminding Ilene of her own natural childbirth experiences.
12/30/2013
Wintertime for a farmer is full of projects and planning.
3/11/2014
Learn how to take garlic as medicine — garlic is a potent natural antibiotic and immune-booster.
11/6/2011
Mulch, like compost, plays an important role in organic gardening. To maximize the flavor and nutrition of your produce, learn how to use and balance the characteristics of various organic materials when mulching.
6/17/2013
Here's an alert that could affect your plantings of annuals, especially impatiens.
2/28/2013
This blog post discusses growing enough produce for canning.
9/11/2012
Adding lemon juice to tomatoes before canning is not an option! Neither is being distracted and forgetting what you're doing.
8/10/2010
Corn "smut" is actually a delicacy in Mexico and can provide mushrooms for our meals.
10/24/2011
Homesteaders become similar to the self-sustaining people in the Arctic as they spend each season preparing to have food, warmth and shelter for the entire year. It is gratifying to eat well and be comfortable because of our year-round efforts.
4/7/2014
Your homestead is complete when you get your own cow for milking. But problems such as a cow who holds her milk or who kicks can make milking difficult and even dangerous. Here are some helpful hints so that you can enjoy your cow and enjoy milking her.
5/9/2014
We can all help to save rare breed genetics for future homesteaders by raising and using these animals ourselves. Furthermore, we can help preserve the animals by sharing their valuable genetics with others.
5/3/2011
I am new to America, and new to the suburbs, having previously lived in rural Australia. I now live in suburban Indiana. During the past two years I have been trying to set up an "urban homestead" for our family. The neighbors are curious and amused.
5/17/2011
Springtime in Urbania can be fraught with temptations at the stores. I have managed to navigate these temptations, sometimes just by 'smelling the clover hay'! Now that the veggies are in, all we have to do is wait for the summer vegetable frittata!
9/13/2011
My mission was to find like minded 'earth nurturers' in a neighborhood where there seems to be a dearth of us! What I found was humility and kindred spirits, and the makings of a great dinner party!
3/8/2012
Jerry is no ordinary guy. Don’t be fooled by his rather gruff exterior. Laughing eyes, and a twitch at the corner of his mouth, quickly verify that humor lies within! This wild man in the suburbs has some interesting hobbies which keep him well fed!
8/14/2012
Leaving the rental home we had lived in for three years in Carmel Indiana, to move back to Kangaroo Valley, Australia has meant more than losing the plot and getting the flock out of there!
2/18/2013
It may not be in the Kangaroo Valley tourist brochures, and you might think it odd to visit a rural supply store just for a look, but I would encourage any visitor to Australia's Kangaroo Valley to make a trip to the Red Shed.
3/13/2013
What is Pesticide Drift? “Pesticide drift” is the movement of a pesticide through the air away from the intended target. You might actually see the drift in the form of a mist. You may smell it. But it can be invisible and odorless. The spray may be applied from the back of a tractor — referred to as a “rig.” Or it may be applied from a spray plane or helicopter.
3/28/2011
It's not difficult to eat locally during the long winter months if you have preserved the previous year's harvest. Even while we wait for spring to arrive, the root cellar may still be providing our dinner.
4/24/2012
We had a once in a lifetime opportunity over Easter this year to talk to more than 30,000 people about honey bees, pollination, honey and beekeeping. And the place we got to do this in was one of a kind.
5/13/2014
The hoophouse on our farm is filled with greens all winter long. It’s almost hard to switch gears for summer tomatoes.
9/28/2010
Learning to save seeds from one harvest to the next takes you a step further towards self-sufficiency and helps to save genetics of plants needed for the future.
4/7/2011
We would like all our food to be grown locally, but when it's too cold to grow outside, we often rely on what we've stored from the previous season. Calzones offer one more way to cook with stored food.
10/14/2011
It pays to spend time preparing your garden for winter. You can improve your soil, increase your harvest, decrease garden pests and make next spring's planting much easier.
7/27/2012
Even we homesteaders must decide how we interact with our animals and the environment. When we follow Nature's rules by developing old-time virtues, our lives are enriched with connection to everything around us.
8/14/2012
Many a homesteader and farmer can use help, and many a young person wants to learn homesteading skills. Having apprentices is an important means to assure a continuation of farms and farming,as well as teaching youth essential survival skills.
12/6/2012
Kitchen dish towels designated only for hand drying help keep germs out of the kitchen, without going on a fanatical sanitizing binge.
1/27/2013
It's important to periodically check any canned, dried, or otherwise home-preserved food to make sure it's still safe to eat.
6/13/2013
Preserving rare breeds requires that the animals are successful in having babies. For our poultry, we sometimes find that the mother hen does a better job than the incubator.
7/27/2012
The author of STAND UP AND GARDEN discusses why it is safe to can and otherwise preserve produce that's grown in an environment in which pesticides are used.
10/9/2013
There is much to be learned when taking care of dual-purpose cows including how to avoid birthing problems and retained placentas, how to manage mastitis and when to do artificial insemination.
11/29/2013
Each season brings its own work on a homestead. In the autumn, the garden and animals still require work, but this is also the time to put in a cistern and begin a smoke house.
2/28/2014
Homestead spring projects include honey bees, Dorking chickens, Ancona ducks, Narragansett turkeys, Dutch Belted calf, Red-Wattle hogs, the incubator, pruning fruit trees,starting seeds, and heirloom plants so we can eat healthful and delicious food all year.
3/18/2014
Starting seeds with children indoors is a project that extends into outdoor planting of the seedlings in spring and harvesting produce in the summer. It allows you to share success and satisfaction with children and makes it more likely they'll eat their vegetables!
12/27/2013
Beekeeping allows us to have not only honey, but also the wax. This is a story of how to make beeswax candles with molds and some of the difficulties I have yet to resolve.
2/5/2014
Feeding chickens sustainably means keeping them healthy by using a combination of free-range, good-quality commercial food, supplementing their diet with garden produce and perhaps even mixing your own poultry food.
3/21/2014
Reading label ingredients is a must for your baby's health.
7/12/2013
Learn how to request your “closed” complete pesticide complaint file from the State agency through the Freedom of Information Act.
8/8/2013
The different emotions you may experience as you deal with Pesticide Drift on your property or your person.
8/3/2010
Basil is a versatile herb that can be used for companion planting, bee forage, year-round herb as well as delicious pesto.
10/6/2010
Both organic and local food are important if we want to eat nutritious and delicious food. Furthermore, our current food system is in jeapordy because petroleum and water supplies are dwindling and climate change is resulting in more extreme weather.
10/21/2010
To benefit from the meat of backyard chickens, one must learn to process them. This includes how to kill, scald, pluck, and eviscerate, and then get them into the freezer. This article describes how we are learning to improving this process.
11/28/2010
Here's some hints on how to juggle cheese-making among the many other homesteading chores. Mozzarella and cheddar can both be woven in while doing other tasks, but there's nothing like clabbered cheese for ease of making.
12/15/2010
Hog butchering was a common farm chore done in the early winter. It provided much of the family's meat in the wintertime. It provides healthful food, exercise and a wonderful experience of community.
1/2/2011
There's no need to go to the grocery food in the winter if you have stored food in a root cellar, freezer or canning jars. Most of the work of preparing this food has already been done and so that winter meals are easy, nutritious and delicious.
1/22/2011
We may find it overwhelming to know where to begin in teaching others to eat healthily. People attempting to eat healthier find it difficult to know where to begin. "The Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables gives us all a place to start.
2/7/2011
Food labels are confusing, but you can be sure that processed foods with many ingredients are not as healthful as whole foods. Here is a explanation of processed-food ingredients and some suggestions for healthful breakfast foods.
2/23/2011
Labels on commercial foods are difficult to decipher and misleading. For healthful food, healthy bodies, healthy communities and planet, we need to grow and purchase our food locally.
3/8/2011
Herbs are versatile plants that enhance our lives by adding beauty, aroma, nutrition, seasoning, and a varied landscape. Because they can be grown indoors, or outdoors in pots, as part of landscaping or in the garden, everyone has room to grow herbs.
7/12/2012
There are many logical reasons for adding flowers to your vegetable garden: attracting beneficials, crop diversity, companion-planting, barriers and healthy soil. But perhaps their beauty does not need to be rationalized at all!
8/28/2012
Homesteads are attempting to provide longer grazing times by dividing pasture into paddocks. The difficulty of getting water to each paddock can be solved by a windmill with underground pipes. No electric is needed--just wind!
1/2/2013
It's easy to get distracted and forget a few absolutes when it comes to food safety. Take this quiz and see if you know your stuff!
10/1/2012
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.
9/1/2010
A homemade solar food dryer allows you to dry tomatoes and apples for delicious and nutritious winter snacks and addition to your meals.
10/3/2011
Although the concepts of fair trade, buying local and buying organic food are used to aid the economies of developing countries, these same three concepts can help our local communities become the healthy communities we can thrive in.
11/21/2013
Honey from our backyard bees provide us with a sweetener, but just as important, honey has many health benefits.
11/3/2010
Heritage breed chickens are more nutritious and flavorful than store-bought chicken, but require different cooking techniques. Learn different methods of cooking different age and different breeds of chickens.
2/22/2011
Healthy home advocates are concerned that wireless power and gas meters, which are being installed in homes across the country, could release dangerous radiation.
11/7/2012
In this piece, author Mary Moss-Sprague discusses the simple pleasures of tasty, home-canned tomato preserves.
11/28/2011
For those of us who hate to use chemicals in our gardens, in our homes, or with our livestock and pets, diatomaceous earth may be a safe and efficient substitute. It may worm your animals, rid them of fleas and lice and even handle indoor pests.
10/10/2012
Growing Local Food is a new book that encompasses all the needed basics to grow plants, keep heritage breed animals and bees. The author is a homesteader and physician who gives the readers the basic information to grow or find nutritious, local food


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