Add Variety and Fun from Garden to Table with 'Yard-Long' Beans

Each year we choose a vegetable for our garden that we have never grown before and will offer fun and variety. This year, we chose the yard-long bean based on its name alone. After a little bit of experimenting in the kitchen, we learned to love its unusual texture and flavor.

How Cows Make Milk

We take it for granted that cows and other mammals make milk for their babies and for us. The process is truly a miracle of nature. What follows is a brief explanation of exactly how cows make milk.

Cook for a Night and Eat for a Week with a Wood-Fired Oven

We built our own clay oven for backyard pizza and bread-baking. One of our favorite things to do is fire up the oven for a weekend afternoon/evening and prepare a variety of meals that will last all week. A bit of work on the weekend provides meals for a week with the unique wood-fired flavor of the outdoor oven.

Healthier Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread is a great way to use this veggie when it is in abundance. I wanted a recipe that was a bit healthier than the traditional version, but still as moist and delicious.

5 Tips for Homesteading with Kids

One of the primary reasons we purchased our homestead was to create a place that would be better for our kids — a place where we could provide for them and also help them to develop a sense of connection to the play where they are growing up. These strategies are helping us to find that balance, all while realizing that we have the rest of our lives to build our homestead but only a few precious years when our children are young.

Making Fruit Jelly Using Apples for Pectin

Making fruit jellies without a lot of added sugar is easy when you let chopped apples supply the pectin your fruit lacks. A simple test of jelly on a cold plate tells you when the jelly point is reached.

Fossil-Fuel-Free Cooking

Gas range or induction cooking? The speed and efficiency revealed. Because I’m off-grid, induction will be my go-to cooking method when sunshine is ample, offering an option for fossil-free cooking!

Raising and Slaughtering Livestock: Legal and Practical Considerations

For the uninitiated, slaughtering animals is a repulsive thought. Our forebears thought nothing of it — and neither would people today if we were not so alienated from our own food production. But this is not to say that we should be unfeeling about our animals. Humane treatment is a moral imperative, and also ensures meat quality: Stressing animals at slaughter time compromises the meat in numerous ways — even making it inedible.

How to Choose Cows for a Micro or Small-Herd Dairy

There’s a lot to think about when choosing the right cow for a small herd or micro-dairy, but it is worth taking the time needed to select an animal that will best fit you and your farm.

Buying a Pork Share

Buying a half-pig directly from a farmer ensures quality and well-raised pork, although it will cost more than supermarket pork. Understanding how to fill out a cut sheet guarantees you get what you paid for.

7 Ways to Increase Your Patience and Attention this Holiday Season

If you fall asleep or can't think straight at holiday gatherings, don't blame it on the turkey (or your relatives)! Research indicates that carbon dioxide is not only a greenhouse gas, but elevated levels of it are detrimental to human health and cognition. Learn how improving your indoor air quality will increase your health and stamina during holidays.

10 Tips for Better Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasting enhances the flavor of root vegetables, as long as the vegetables are cut in uniform pieces and aren't crowded in the pan and are roasted in a hot oven.

Life and Death on the Farm

Death on a farm is unavoidable as life itself. These stories share lessons learned, words of wisdom and how a farmer can prepare for the inevitable when raising livestock.

Know Your Egg Shed, Part 1

An egg shed could be defined as: the eggs produced within a certain distance that go to a specific place. That place could be your kitchen. In chicken-friendly, local food-supportive, low carbon-footprint communities, backyard flocks and small family farms produce eggs. The takeaway message is that egg shed needs for a family, or a community, are relatively easy to meet. A household or a community can somewhat easily be protein self-sufficient.

Apple Guacamole Recipe

Use the last fresh foods of fall to make a lively guacamole. The apple guacamole is not only a fine substitute to traditional guacamole, but it is lovely in its own right. It’s flavor is subtle, but complicated. It tasted great with homemade nachos. I can even imagine experimenting with different kind of apples for different flavors. The green apple gave is a sour punch, but a sweet apple could work too for a different effect.

How to Milk Your Cows in 30 Minutes

Milking your cows is a repetitive chore. Steve Judge, a long-time micro dairy farmer details his process which demonstrates through efficiencies how you can do it in less than 30 minutes.

How to Make No-Fail Sauerkraut and Other Ferments

No matter how many pounds of vegetables you are working with, a good tasting result is guaranteed if you ferment in canning jars because the ferments are never exposed to the airborne yeasts and molds that result in off-flavors. As fermentation gases build up, loosen the screw bands on the jars and allow the brine to overflow onto a saucer. In this way, gases leave the jars, but air does not flow back in.

10 Steps for Calf Care on a Small-Herd Micro Dairy

Learn ten step to raising calves so that they will grow to become tame, calm and well-mannered cows. Steve Judge, a long-time micro dairy farmer takes us through the steps he follows on his farm.

6 Ways to Make Food Preservation Faster, Easier and Cooler

Freezing, fermenting, and using a steam canner can reduce the amount of time it takes to preserve foods. Some vegetables can be blanched without freezing, and some can be cooked in a finished dish to make efficient use of your time while the weather is still hot.

Preserving Cherry Tomatoes as Tomato Confit

An abundant harvest of cherry tomatoes can be roasted to make a tomato preserve called tomato confit. The recipe is simple, and the tomato confit can be used to make tomato tarts and tomato bruschetta.

How to Make and Can Jostaberry Jam

Jostaberries are a cross between black currants and gooseberries, combing the best of both fruits to make a tasty berry and an even tastier jam. You can use a water bath canning method to preserve this productive perennial fruit.

How to Pick the Perfect Pectin for Homemade Jam

Before commercial pectins, our grandmothers made jam by cooking down fruit, slowly, slowly to keep it from scorching. Pectin is what makes a jam or jelly gel. A little known fact: Which brand of commercial pectin you buy matters in terms of taste, texture, and how fast you are likely to get in and out of the kitchen.

Black-Cap Raspberry Pancakes Recipe

Make wholesome pancakes with local native fruit. With fewer local raspberries surviving pest infestation in Vermont, having so many tiny black caps has been a real treat. We have been eating a lot straight from the bushes. But our favorite use for black caps is in these thick, long-cooking pancakes.

How to Pickle Radishes (With Recipe Variations)

Radishes are among the very first non-leafy greens available in the spring. While radish pickles can be canned, I find them more delicious as refrigerator pickles. They can last up to 2 months (but trust me, you’ll eat them long before that time). I create all kinds of variations: Asian-style for use in ramen, sweet, spicy, citrus, and more.

Become a Caretaker of Your Environment: Lessons from a Lipan Apache Shaman

The information and ideas presented in this post are from teachings and skills Tom Brown, Jr., learned from the Lipan Apache Shaman and elder Stalking Wolf, who mentored Tom a decade. We can learn to develop a relationship with the Earth that becomes an ongoing communication and a form of mutual healing. The lessons and skills of nature awareness, wilderness survival and a philosophy of living with the Earth focus on how to cultivate a caretaker approach.

Transitioning to Spring On a Micro-Dairy, Part 2

Spring has been slow to arrive in the Green Mountain State. But there are signs of spring in Vermont and that means preparing your Micro-Dairy for the change in seasons. Bob-White Systems' Steve Judge shares more tips to transition a Micro-Dairy into spring.

Transitioning to Spring on a Micro-Dairy Farm, Part 1

Springtime means mud season in Vermont. And on a micro-dairy, it also means preparing the cows, fields and barn for the transition to warmer weather. Steve Judge offers tips to prepare for Spring on a micro-dairy in a two-part series.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 4

The fourth in a series of postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont where I developed a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 3

The third in a series of weekly postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont where I developed a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.

Herbal Supplements Controversy Spurs ‘The Sustainable Herbs Project’

The Sustainable Herbs Project is a new project by the producers of the award-winning documentary, Numen: the Nature of Plants, the first feature-length film on the healing power of plants. We are creating an online interactive documentary following medicinal plants through the supply chain to launch a more educated and responsible consumer movement supporting high quality herbal remedies and sustainable and ethical sourcing.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 2

The second post in a series of weekly postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont where I developed a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.

Cuba and Vermont Perspectives on Energy and Culture, Part 1

The first in a series of weekly postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont for a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.

How to Keep Your Dairy Animals Clean When Milking, Part 2

As farmers, we know the importance of creating a milking environment that is clean and healthy for the animals. In Part 2 of Making Clean Raw Milk, we outline the steps needed to milk your cow or goat in a manner that keeps it clean.

Making Clean Raw Milk, Part 1: A Simple Guide for Small-Scale Dairies

A big benefit of running the private and FDA-certified Bob-White Systems Dairy Lab is that we get to see what works and what doesn't work to keep milk clean. “Clean," for our purposes, means that it passes Vermont's Tier II Raw Milk Standards, which happen to be some of the most stringent in the country — more stringent than federally regulated pasteurized milk standards. At the lab we perform FDA-certified testing to ensure raw milk producers are compliant with Vermont’s standards.

Transitions: Preparing the Farmer for Winter

It's important to prepare your Micro Dairy or small farm for winter by making small improvements to your facilities. But it's also important to mentally prepare for the dark, cold months.

Preparing Your Cows for Winter

Helping your cows transition from fall to winter can be easy to do. Here are five steps to consider when the cold weather starts settling in.

7 Steps to Prepare Your Barn for Winter

Finding time to make improvements on a small dairy is difficult but making a few improvements as the seasons change can often make a micro dairy or any size small farm more efficient. Here are 7 steps to help you prepare your barn for the cold winter months.

6 Incredible Facts About Kinetic Log Splitters

Kinetic log splitters have taken the log-splitter market by storm. But how much do you know about these lightning-fast, hyper-efficient machines? Check out these surprising facts about kinetic log splitters.

How to Use a Bucket Milker

Bucket milkers offer small and micro-dairy farmers affordable and reliable system for milking cows. Here are my basics for how to use a bucket milker on a micro dairy.

A Brief History of Milking Cows by Hand

Cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo, camels and, even, horses have been successfully milked by hand for thousands of years. Though it's an age-old practice, milking a cow by hand is not as easy as it may first appear. It’s best to know what you are getting into before you take on this important farming task.

5 Tools For Clearing Overgrown Land

Clearing overgrown land can be a daunting task. Choose the right tool for the job and it can be a breeze! Here are 5 of my favorites that make clearing overgrown land satisfying and fun!

How To Milk a Cow that Kicks

Cows are big, powerful animals, and milking puts you right beside the strong hind legs and feet. If you find yourself with what I call a kicky cow, there are steps you can take to manage the animal.

How To Milk a Cow

Cows love routine. The more things stay the same for cows, the safer and more secure they feel. Here is my abbreviated list of best practices for milking a cow, learned over many decades in the barn.

Feeding Cows on a Micro Dairy

Managing the feed regimen for cows in a micro dairy environment is a matter of setting clear goals and understanding what your cows need.

Log Splitters: Electric vs. Gas-Powered

If you’re considering buying a new log splitter, you may have begun to debate whether you want an electric log splitter or a gas-powered model. What’s the difference? DR Power Equipment has some useful insight for you.

Induction Cooking

How does induction cooking work? What are the pros and cons? Efficient electric cooking or hidden health risk?

Air-Source Heat Pumps

High efficiency air source heat pumps are proving their worth for cold climate heating and cooling.

Every Cow Poops: The Value of Cow Manure on the Farm

Cow manure is a key indicator of bovine health and well being. After milk, it is the most valuable thing your cows will produce. Micro-dairy expert Steve Judge explains why it pays to get comfortable with cow manure.

Winter Chores for Off-Grid Living

Outside of a few rare equipment failures, we’ve never had a power outage in the past 20 years that wasn’t our own fault — usually caused by not paying attention to power use or proper battery charging. Weather failures, on the other hand, are starting to become noticeable.

Why Milk Pasteurization?

How a small and inexpensive High Temperature-Short Time pasteurizer could change the dairy industry.

Woodstove Sweepstakes Winner Enjoys New Bun Baker

Woodstove sweepstakes winner Ken Newman plans to use his new Vermont Bun Baker to heat both his home and his meals. The Bake, Crackle and Broil Giveaway, sponsored by MOTHER EARTH NEWS, awarded the $3,400 woodstove to Newman earlier this summer.

What is Ritual Slaughter?

“The Gourmet Butcher” Cole Ward breaks down the meanings of Kosher, Glatt Kosher, and Halal.

Vermont Peanut Butter Company

Vermont Peanut Butter has an excellent grass roots feel, a very colorful and fun look, in addition to a product that is probably found in 9 out of 10 homes.