The Many Benefits of Refinishing Old Furniture

In context of furniture, “refinishing” refers to applying a protective coating to a furniture item that has lost its original or previous protective layer. A typical furniture refinishing involves sanding, staining, sealing, and application of protective layers. Here are five reasons to take on the task.

Echinacea: A Common Medicinal for a Variety of Ailments

Echinacea has a rich history, used by several Native American tribes of North America for different purposes, the chief one being as an analgesic (it relieved fever, headaches, and provided pain relief). Echinacea is a natural remedy to turn to the next time you or a family member come down with a cold.

Locavores (Eating Local Food) and Preparedness

Here are The Prepared Homestead‘s top 5 reasons to become a locavore. By the way, you don’t need to join groups or pay membership fees to become a locavore, you can just do it. Now. Today. You can also call it whatever you like.

Local Herbal Remedies Using Violets, Plantain, and Dock

These three underappreciated plants deserve their time in the sun, so to speak! Let’s dive into Local First Aid, learning about the edible and medicinal uses of these common wild plants: violets, plantain, and yellow dock.

10 Simple Ways to Keep You Safe on Your Farm

Farm life has its risks and we don't need to add to them by acting in unsafe ways. Read more for 10 Simple Ways we follow here on Serenity Acres Farm to keep us safe.

Off Grid and Free: The Terror of Forest Fires, Part 1

Since moving to our isolated piece of heaven in 2000, we've had at least four serious forest-fire scares. One doesn't hear much about these fires in the north unless they threaten a community like Fort McMurray, Alberta. But the fires that have burned around us were equally as vicious and consumed over ¾ million acres. This 2-part blog series will look at the terror of forest fires and how to survive them.

Off-Grid Water Preparedness

Water is the liquid-gold standard for off-grid sustainability. However, how does a new off-grid homesteader prepare for their water needs? Here are some simple tips from seasoned veterans on how to successfully have a backup plan for water.

Build a Mini Root Cellar that Actually Works

Got a basement “cold room” that doesn’t keep your fruits and veggies properly? You can make things better. A few simple modifications can turn that disappointing space into a reliable spot to store food without electricity and boost self reliance.

Off-Grid and Free: The Dangers of a Slush-Covered Lake

Living remotely is wonderful but it does force us to evaluate our actions knowing that we are ultimately responsible for our own safety. Taking the precautions outlined here is just one example of how we try to cover all the bases. Safety is paramount and slush on a lake can become a safety concern.

Bone Broth Basics

There is much controversy over the health benefits of bone broth, you can find articles all over the web that fall into one of two camps: bone broth is another unscientifically supported health fad or bone broth is a health booster. I fall into the second camp. This type of broth is a fairly new phenomenon in the west, but it certainly isn’t a new thing.

Sludge Train: Toxic Biosolids Permitted in Virginia

The burden of municipal and industrial waste disposal is transformed into a commercial enterprise, with the careless disregard for growing concerns over the risks it poses to the human and animal health and to the natural environment.

The Sludging of Rural Communities

Agricultural use of sludge is not only detrimental to human health, but it also damages the social fabric of rural communities all across the country. Federal and state regulations are ill prepared to address medical, social and environmental consequences of this disastrous practice.

Water Strategies for the Homestead

This post covers the importance of having a comprehensive water plan for your property. Most homesteaders are simply dependent on their wells, which are predicated on cheap and reliable energy. Don’t misunderstand me: I love being able to flip a switch and get light and turn on a faucet and get water — it’s wonderful! However, we need to develop a resilient water plan that accounts for potential disruption in that system but also to develop other systems to increase the fertility of the land.

Biosolids: More Harm than Good, Part 2

This is Part 2 of an interview with David Lewis, Ph.D. - formerly a senior-level research microbiologist at EPA-ORD. He currently serves as director of research for the Focus for Health Foundation.

Biosolids: More Harm than Good, Part 1

Dr. David Lewis, Ph.D., who was formerly a senior level research microbiologist at EPA-ORD, kindly agreed to an interview for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog addressing the issue of agricultural use of sewage and industrial sludge, aka – biosolids. He is one of the most prominent scientific voices in the growing opposition to biosolids land application. Dr. Lewis’ publications are frequently cited as an example of solid, unbiased scientific evidence of the danger posed by this practice.

Goal-Setting for the Homestead, Part 1

Goal setting for the homestead is so crucial it can’t be overstated. There is always a gap between a dream and reality. Goals are the glue that makes those two much closer together. This blog is about the nuts and bolts of goal setting. It starts with a dream, moves toward purpose and ends with goals. It is geared toward homesteading but can and should be applied to all areas of life.

Let It Snow

A good snowfall now and then helps to test the limits of our resources. You never know if you are prepared for disruptions until you are disrupted. Here are some hints to help things go smoothly when there are real possibilities that they might not otherwise.

Preparing to Homestead, Part 2

In the military, we were taught combat first aid with these four life-saving steps: Stop the bleeding, start the breathing, protect the wound and treat for shock. I want to relate these life-saving steps to handling finances in preparing to homestead.

Preparing to Homestead, Part 1

Before we started homesteading I would sit and imagine how idyllic and peaceful it would be. Reality is not prettier than what I imagined, but it’s better.

The Prepared Homestead Kitchen: Top Appliances, Part 2

Over this last year my water bath canner has grown into a frequently used item. This time of year, it makes itself useful by simmering gallons of bone broth on our stove due to its generous size. In the summer and early fall, however, it is kept busy canning all the jams, jellies, and sauces I preserve for the coming winter months.

Preparing for Power Outages on the Homestead, Part 2

Losing power is a reality that homesteaders must prepare for. It is not a matter of if, but when, and for how long. As a homesteader/farmsteader we have a responsibility to keep the home running regardless of “power.” This series of blog posts discusses homestead preparedness for power outages, part 2 covers generator usage, communications, water strategies and dry-composting toilets.

10 Reasons to Build an Earthbag House

My earthbag home has liberated me from a mortgage. The technique has numerous benefits. Here’s my list of why anyone might want to think about an earthbag home.

The Prepared Homestead Kitchen: Top Appliances, Part 1 (with Sandwich Bread Recipe)

I’ve always enjoyed cooking — it’s something I’ve considered a serious hobby. One of the first goals I made when I moved here last year was to start baking all my own bread and other baked goods. Because we got through so many loaves a week (about eight) every day I am very grateful for my Bosch Universal Plus mixer. I would consider this one of the top five most-used appliances in my kitchen.

Preparing for Power Outages on the Homestead, Part 1

Losing power is a reality that homesteaders must prepare for. It is not a matter of if, but when, and for how long. As a homesteader/farmsteader we have a responsibility to keep the home running regardless of “power.” This series of blog posts discusses homestead preparedness for power outages, beginning with fuel storage, gas cooking and wood heat.

Getting Ready for Winter on Our Urban Farm

The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts for our area “Winter will be cooler and rainier than normal, with above-normal snowfall." To quote a popular television show “Winter is coming." Prepare for winter with this checklist and weatherization ideas.

Are You Prepared For Disaster On Your Homestead?

Whether it's a summertime flood or a winter snow storm, homesteaders and farmers must be prepared for the "what-ifs". Here are some ways you can prepare your homestead, and yourself, for disaster.

Beneficial Uses for Drones

Drones can be used to survey areas to develop more accurate maps. They can be equipped with heat sensors and used in search and rescue at far less cost than putting people out there searching for those lost. This post counts the beneficial uses of drones, or airborne robots.

Agroecology Rebuilds Rural Livelihoods of Women in Post-Earthquake Nepal

Many rural Nepalese faced persistent food insecurity even before the recent earthquakes. Now, because of the destruction of livelihood assets, the situation is substantially worse. With support from Groundswell International, family farmers in post-earthquake Nepal are learning and using ecological agriculture principles to restore their farms, become more resilient, and create a more equitable landscape for women.

A Simple Guide to Using a Tiller: Why? When? How?

If you are planning to set up a garden with a surface that is bigger than 300 square meters, a tiller will help you save a lot of time and energy. Its sharp, heavy blades might be a little intimidating for first-time users, but with a little practice, you will get the hang of it.

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.

Water Catchment on the Suburban Frontier

Catching and storing rainwater is one of the most important tasks on the suburban frontier for "green preparedness." It's a great way to build "home economics" and connect more closely with taking care of basic needs.

How to Find and Fix a Pond Leak

If your pond keeps dropping its water level, you might have a pond leak. Here are some steps to find where it's going and how to find the leaking area to repair.

Fire Moons and Evacuation Preparation

The fire moon shows up every year when the forest fires start up. Maggie Bonham has some recommendations for preparing to evacuate with animals.

Finishing the 'Barndominium': Final Stages of a 3-Year Project

We started our adventure of building a barndominium on our Texas property while still in Australia. The past year has been spent finishing and enjoying the house. As we've learned, finishing the house is only the first step in developing the homestead.

Tornado Survival Tips

With 1/3 of the population of the US under a tornado watch today, these tornado facts, myths, and survival tips could save a lot of lives!

Team Austria Wins Solar Decathlon 2013

Team Austria wins the Solar Decathlon 2013 for building the most energy-efficient, cost-effective and most attractive solar-powered house.

Testing For Toxicity

There seems to be limited testing done by the EPA on the toxicity of some chemicals.

Find a Fuel-Efficient Car

Whether you’re looking for a sporty two-seater, a large family vehicle, or a heavy-duty farm or work truck, here's how to find the best options for vehicles that use less fuel and save you money.

Resilience: Disaster Resistance, Adaptation and Restoration

As the costs and consequences of climatological and ecological instability become impossible to ignore, people are recognizing the need to be more prepared for the challenges we could face in the short-term and the long-term. A variety of initiatives are arising to share ways of becoming more resilient—i.e., able to survive and thrive in the face of dangers and even disasters.

Tornado Survival Tips

Tornado, facts, myths, and tips to help you make the right decision when facing a possible tornado strike.

Chicago to Launch Bike Share System

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will launch the city’s new bike share system – called “Divvy” – later this year, with the goal of expanding to 4,000 bikes at 400 neighborhood locations.

Earth Gauge Tip of The Week - National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Are you ready for the kinds of severe weather that could impact the area where you live? National Severe Weather Preparedness Week takes place from Mar. 3-9, 2013. This is a great time for you and your family to “Be a Force of Nature” by learning the importance of planning for severe weather events and practicing how and where to take shelter before severe weather strikes.

Sansin Corporation Offers 5 Renovation Tips for Historic Homes for National Preservation Month

May is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Preservation Month. In conjunction with this month dedicated to protecting historic places, Sansin Corporation — a wood protection company focused on eco-friendly, “water-borne” interior and exterior stains — offers tips that do-it-yourselfers should keep in mind when undertaking historic home renovations.

How We Transitioned from City to Country (And Why We Did So)

Many years ago, years before I moved to the country, I was what would be considered "a prepper." I saw disaster every time I turned on the TV, or read the news on the internet, or visited forums that talked about stockpiling beans and bullets. I panicked, thinking I could never have enough control for the sake of my family, never be "prepped" enough.

Off Grid Homesteading and Cover Crops in a No-Till Garden

Launching Anna's new E book on cover crops in a no till garden and talking about the recent power failure that prompted us to do some Off Grid Homesteading which taught us a few lessons on using golf cart batteries for supplemental lighting.

How to Wash Produce Properly

This guide on how to wash produce will help keep your foods safe. Avoid food-borne illness by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Growing Renewable Energy Sources in the United States

The Obama Administration releases its plans for new renewable energy sources.  Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, explains that the new solar energy zones span six states and keep both domestic energy and environmental preservation in mind. If completed, the power generated from these solar energy zones would provide electricity to roughly seven-million homes.  

Do You Have A Survival Mentality?

Are you able to face any situation that comes your way with the knowledge that you will survive the adversity? Challenge yourself to become an overcomer!

Autumn Is A Time Of Preparation

In the beauty of autumn comes a time of preparation for winter. The many necessary tasks to be prepared if you are self sufficient.

Prepping for Minor Emergencies

Prepping for major emergencies - earthquakes, floods, tornadoes - is important, but so is emergency planning for less dramatic events. Find out what you can do to reduce the potential for stress.

Quest for Corn

Growing field corn for livestock, home use and future crops; a grain for sustainable living.

Use a Digital Tire Gauge to Get Better Gas Mileage

Use a digital tire gauge and learn how to check tire pressure regularly to get better gas mileage. While other types of gauges exist, the digital tire pressure gauge is an accurate and simple way to keep your tires properly inflated. Read this digital tire gauge review to see what digital tire pressure checkers you can buy.

California Approves the Use of Dangerous Pesticide on Strawberry Fields

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has approved the use of methyl iodide, a pesticide toxic to humans, for application to strawberry fields. Methyl iodide is recognized as a carcinogen that can also cause late term miscarriage and permanent neurological damage. Scientists agree that farmers cannot safely use the pesticide, and a concerned coalition has formed to persuade Governor Brown to put a moratorium on the use of methyl iodide.  

Make Holiday Shopping a Joyride

Mia Birk's new book weaves together personal and professional history to illustrate the transformative power of bicycling.

The New Loo Part 2

Simran Sethi writes about choosing eco-friendly paints, tiles, and other aspects of her renovated bathroom.

Self-Reliance for Everyone

If your job, finances, family commitments, etc., have thwarted or delayed your dreams of self-reliance, you don’t have to wait until you can afford a 20 acre parcel. You can start working where you are now to build and nurture self-reliant living skills that are sure to provide you with more peace of mind and improved health, and will most likely be of great personal benefit during the coming decades of global challenge and change.

Find the Best Reusable Water Bottle for You: Ditch Bottled Water

Find the best reusable water bottle for you. Whether it is plastic, steel, aluminum or glass, using a reusable water bottle helps the environment. The $11 billion bottled water industry takes a toll on our environment. Here is a list of reusable bottles that could end your bottled water habits. 

Obama Asks EPA to Reconsider Auto Emissions Position

President Barack Obama signed an executive order to help reduce automobile gas emissions in the United States. This is the first of many steps that the Obama administration plans to make to improve global warming.

Repair Door Trim

Repairing or replacing trim around a door is easy, and you need only a few simple tools.

The Not-So-Great Divide

The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants, but have they thought about the wildlife that they will destroy along the way?

A Need for Border Order

The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border, despite petitions from the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club.

Movin’ on out

Here are a few tips for sprucing up the old apartment before you move out. Quick and easy methods for filling nail holes, removing marks from walls and cleaning carpet stains.

Fight Climate Change With Weeds?

Don't like weeds? Well, maybe this will change your mind. An article in the New York Times, discusses possible ways that weeds could help fight global warming.

A Call for Border Order

The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall to create a barrier along the US-Mexico border. Although the wall will never completely stop illegal immigrants from coming into the country, it will risk the survival of animals and wildlife in the area.

Highway Safety & Wildlife Crossings

Animal-vehicle wrecks cause about 200 human fatalities and 29,000 injuries a year. The fight between wildlife and urban developers seems never-ending, but wildlife crossings can be a solution. Learn how you can help just by giving your state's Department of Transportation a call.