Choosing Natural Building Materials for Improved Indoor Air Quality

You might think building a green home automatically means you’re building one with good indoor air quality. That’s not necessarily the case. There’s no guarantee eco-friendly materials are also low in pollutants. And what you put in your home after construction can have an enormous impact on air quality. Here are three ways to ensure the air you’re breathing inside your home is as good as — or better than — the air you’re breathing outside.

Where Have All the Wolves, Cougars, and Wild Horses Gone?

How can we as a culture emerge out of the darkness where we think that our species has all the answers to complex relationships on the Earth? I share thoughts here regarding the treatment of our wild mustangs, and how their predators can help them and us.

Using Poultry in the Garden

If you think that poultry will only bring eggs and meat to your homestead, think again! Most birds bring some incredibly helpful personalities to your garden as well as your farm. With a little bit of strategizing you can learn how to best use chickens, ducks, geese, and more to help combat bugs and keep your soil fertile.

Encounters with Coyotes in the Past and Present

Coyotes live among us just as they have with our Native Peoples in the past. But unlike our Native Peoples understanding and respect of coyotes, our present day culture has little knowledge, and this greatly takes away from all the positive experiences we can have with America’s wild canine.

Coyote and Fox and Mesopredator Release

What changes a predator’s relationship with your farm? Relationships are two-sided, and human behavior has much to do with our relationships with predators. Here are two real-life stories about just that.

Making the Ultimate Brooder Box

Having an area properly prepared for your new chicks or ducklings is important in making sure they grow up healthy and safe. For some, it is easiest to use an old dog crate or a plastic tote and outfit it for the occasion, but if you are going to be getting new poultry regularly or annually, it is often best to build a brooder specifically for raising your young birds.

Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History

An understanding our human history teaches us much about our present day perspectives and our behaviors that manifest those perspectives. We can observe this in all facets of our human society, and it is most poignantly made aware to us in Dan Flores’ newly published book, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. Read on!

How to Prepare for Raising Goats

Getting ready for goats means setting up a stall and pasture and making sure you have all the right food for them.

Cougars Return to Their Homeland

Cougars, our American lion, historically have been the most widespread large carnivore of both North and South America. After being almost systematically annihilated from our continent by those who came before us, our big cat is making heroic attempts to return to their lost homeland. Will we let them?

Installing Bees in a Top-Bar Hive

Top bar hives are becoming increasingly popular with beekeepers as they help encourage bees to colonize in a more natural way than Langstroth beehives. Installing bees in a top-bar hive can be surprisingly easy if you take a few steps to ensure that your new colony is happy.

Fun Facts About Eggs

Easy to produce and good for your health, eggs are a universal food. Here are some things you might not know about this versatile food.

Brooders for Waterfowl

Find out the unique needs of ducklings and goslings and how best to care for waterfowl.

Common Poultry Terms

There are a lot of specific terms about poultry you might not be familair with. If you’re thinking about getting chickens, ducks, geese, or other fowl, it’s good to get used to these common terms. Here are some of the farmyard poultry terms you might come across.

Introducing the Farming With Carnivores Network

This blog post introduces you to the new educational website It is a collaborative effort of leading farmers, experts on guardian animals and fencing, and biologists whose work focuses on carnivores. Its purpose is to help create a farming of the future by sharing knowledge and experience with each other.

About Livestock Guardian Dogs

Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs, have been used by shepherds and farmers for centuries. Bred and trained to instinctively protect their herd from predators, LGDs are an alternative to attempting to hunt or scare off threats to your farmyard. Read on to learn the basics for how LGDs work and tips for choosing the right livestock guardian for your homestead.

Rebuilding a New England Barn

Turning an old barn into something useable is a challenge, and it is a valuable skill to have when you are starting a farm.

Rodenticides and Your Relationship with Carnivores

This blog post explains how the use of rodent poisons is having a serious effect on the health of carnivores. The very species that have the ability to control rodent populations are being negatively affected by the human use of poisons.

Considerations When Building a Chicken Coop

Building a chicken coop is a fun exercise and there are hundreds of designs out there that can ensure your coop is both functional and unique. Taking a few things into consideration before building can help you avoid a re-build in the future.

Scaling Up Local Foods Cooperatively

The Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative has a plan to take the local food movement to the next level. They're vying for big contracts with institutional buyers and competing with major corporations. And they're cooperatively owned and run by Maine's farmers and consumers.

Coyote: A Keystone Carnivore

Every member of an ecosystem community needs to be present in order to keep your land healthy and vibrant. That includes the carnivores - both terrestrial and avian. But one carnivore affects that ecosystem community more than the others: the keystone carnivore. And Coyotes play the role of the keystone carnivore in many of the landscapes of North America.

Farming at Every Scale

Did you know you can grow potatoes in an apartment? Whether you live in an apartment or on a hundred acre farm, you can take steps towards self reliance and lifestyle independence. Living with limited space doesn't have to be a setback towards homesteading, and there are many creative ways you can take advantage of your space to get the most out of it.

15 Fun Facts About Geese

Did you know that "goose" is actually the term for female geese? How about the origins of European geese? Here are a few things you might not know about these elegant farmyard birds.

Harvest Honey from a Top-Bar Hive

In traditional Langstroth beehives, the honey is extracted via a centrifuge that spins the golden liquid out of the comb and allows it to run into your pot. In a top-bar hive, honey collection is quite different, as isthe rest of the top-bar hive beekeeping process.

Goose Breeds for Your Farm

Temperament and abilities vary widely between goose breeds. Know the types so you can get the best goose for your farm.

Types of Beehives

For a long time, the only beehive you tended to see would be the traditional Langstroth hive. In recent years, new styles have become popular including the Warre hive, and the top bar hive design. It is important to be familiar with the various styles of beehive in order to choose what is most appropriate for your colony.

Planting an Herb Garden

Herbs are an easy way to start gardening or expand your current gardens. The benefits are countless, including helping your health, adding spice to your recipes, and adding beauty to your garden.

'I Am Coyote' Profiles North America's Native Carnivore

This blog post is an introduction to the author'snewly published book, "I Am Coyote." What is essential to know when living and farming with carnivores? I would suggest that THE most important aspect to understand is WHO THEY ARE. Get to know how they live, how they think, their complex social lives and much more.

Prepare for Winter Wellness with Garden Sage Body Oil

Sage is an herb of ancient repute, long valued as a culinary and medicinal plant. It has a stimulating, heating, and drying energy and is a well-known cold germ and flu fighter, having particularly potent antimicrobial, respiratory antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, mucolytic (mucous thinning), antispasmodic, and vulnerary (tissue healing) properties. Prepare for winter wellness with this garden sage body oil recipe.

Our Native Carnivores: A Historical Perspective

As a conservation biologist whose focus is large carnivores, I find that historical perspectives regarding our understanding of our place within Earth’s communities and the behavior that flows from those perspectives is essential to understanding our present day relationship with carnivores. In my first post, I want to take you back in history, sharing with you worldviews and the actions that expressed those views, as Europeans settled on the American continent.

Why Off-Gridders Love Home Wind Turbines

The advantages of combining wind and solar go beyond system performance and floating batteries – it’s an enhancement to the off-grid lifestyle as a whole.

How a Small Wind Turbine Works, Part 3: Turbine Terminology

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.

5 Steps to Our New Orchard

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.

How to Regrow Lettuce

Purchase romaine lettuce once, regrow it again and again! Use this simple tutorial to slash your salad bill while enjoying tasty, healthful greens.

Raising Romeo: A Love Story

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan shares a preview of her children's book about raising lambs.

Ways To Increase Our Self-Sufficiency

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.

Homesteading Chores in March

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.

How We Engaged the Community in Our Homestead

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.

Maine Herbalist Taps Local Plants and Trees

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.

Back to Basics for Improved Health

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.

What We Do Around the Homestead in February

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.

Tips for Staying Healthy Through the Winter

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.

Homesteading Community

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.

Homesteading Simplicity

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.

What We Do Around the Homestead in January

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.

A Great Herdswoman's Legacy Lives On blogger Dyan Redick of Bittersweet Farm honors - and helps keep alive - the legacy of fellow Maine goat herdswoman Pixie Day.

Changing the World One Decision at a Time

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.

Natural Conditions Beyond Our Control

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.

Maine Leads the Way with Unique Farms

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.

Guidelines for Establishing an Orchard

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.

Facing the Homesteading Rewards

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.

Great Ways to Increase Your Harvest

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.

A Homesteader's 5 Favorite Gardening Tools

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.

Fit Farmers for the Future

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?

Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower

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.

How We Grow Tomatoes at Deer Isle Hostel

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.

Moving Toward an Ecology-Based Economy

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.

Composting Toilets: From Waste Stream to Resource River

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.

Sustainable Happiness, Sustainable Homestead

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.

Leave It Better Than You Found It

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.

Me vs. The Bees

Overcoming my personal fears and welcoming the newest addition to our homestead - honeybees

Raising Your First Chicks

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.

Finally Signs of Spring on the 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!

Compost: The End and the New Beginning

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.

Darning Socks

Darning socks is a simple thing to do - and a statement for self-sufficiency!

Snowshoeing Home

Winter has it's challenges, but the snow-capped beauty and the adventure of living simply amongst it makes it more than worth it.

Breaking Trail

Using snowshoes to keep our paths and trails open as the snow piles up.

A Homesteader's Winter

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.

Old Ways of Processing Pork at Home

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.

A Report on Warmth

With winter beginning, these homesteaders are starting winter off cozy in their cabin.

Off the Grid With Solar Power

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.

The Love of Local Food

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."

Apple Abundance as a Part of Our History

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.

Fresh Storage of Produce

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.

Succession Planting for Space Saving and Season Extension

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.

Why We Raise Our Own Meat

There are many benefits with raising pigs for meat, and also some common sense ways of doing so in a sustainable way.

Coösauke Kale

The process of saving seed for next year begins while the growing season is still going strong

Hosteling At Home

Having a hostel of your own, gives you the best of both worlds; the comfort of home with the vibration of travelers.

HOMEGROWN Life: A Change In Seasons

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.

HOMEGROWN Life: Milking with Frannie

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.

Vegetable Art by Lynn Karlin

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 or at the Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast, Maine from September 28 to November 14th.

About Honeybees and January… and April…

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!