A Dignified Look at Chicken Butchering Day

Everyone likes a tasty chicken, but how about what happens during the time between the clucking, feathered bird and the freezer? Here’s a dignified look at a poultry processing day on our farm, feathers and all.

Hybrid Home Energy Systems Offer Both Off-Grid and Grid-Tied Benefits

For residential electricity users who want to control and master their electrical consumption, as well as business owners and agricultural users, a hybrid approach offers the best of both worlds: reduced or even eliminated utility charges and backup during critical times, without the need to stay totally off the grid with a system that can draw from the grid when necessary to make up the difference.

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.

Food Storage Options when Living Off-Grid

Because I like high-quality food but live somewhere that doesn't have a year-round growing season, the best way for me to ensure I have it available is to stockpile, store, and preserve food when it is in season and plentiful.

Italian-Style Pressed Sandwich Recipe

Years ago, a friend who once lived in Italy described a sandwich she had prepared for a picnic. Adapted to foods we can buy locally, it works well for late-summer suppers after a sweltering day in the gardens. It’s a lifesaver for days when I just don’t know what time dinner will happen until it happens.

Heat-Tolerant Eggplant Varieties

For several years, we have been trialing eggplant varieties to find one better in hot weather than our favorite 'Nadia', which is great in temperate summer weather. We love the classic pear shape and glossy purple-black skin of 'Nadia', and we want something looking similar, but better at setting fruit in hot weather.

Are Solar Panels a Sustainable Product?

Your solar panels’ lifespan is long enough to produce decades of renewable energy for your home. Additionally, solar panel recycling options mean that once your system does finally reach the end of its life, you can be confident that your panels won’t end up in a landfill.

Home-Based Food Businesses Thrive in California

Whether your food product is gluten-free, a loaf of bread made with organic wheat, or chocolate carefully crafted with organic cacao, more culinary entrepreneurs than ever before are launching their food product business from their home kitchens thanks to their state’s “cottage food law.” California is leading the way with laws for cottage food operators.

4 Ways to Use Beautiful Bee Balm on the Homestead

When it comes to landscaping the farmstead or urban homestead, it’s nice to be able to include plants that are both beautiful and functional. Bee balm is a North American wildflower that easily fills both roles. With an unusual, eye-catching bloom that is loved by bees and butterflies, these showy flowers can come in either scarlet or lavender, but this plant provides more than just looks and wildlife habitat: It is also a versatile herb with many different uses for health and home.

Nevermind the Politics, Forests Can Help Cool the Planet

Forestry and climate change are complex and emotionally charged issues. In this post, we focus on the forests themselves and how they can contribute to global cooling when forest management practices are adjusted through the incentives in the multi-billion dollar carbon credit programs being launched.

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.

The ABCs of Homesteading: G is for 'Goats'

This is the fifth blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers considerations for how to raise goats on your homestead, including research strategies, space planning, herd management, the fundamentals of milking goats, pasture development, and making cheese and yogurt.

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.

'Taters Gone Wild: 2 Bushels and Counting

The harvest begins. Whatever happened to those wild and crazily overgrown potatoes (written about in a previous post)? Check out the bushels of newly dug potatoes that resulted from that botanical experiment started this spring.

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 4

Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well-rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate — all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.

Homemade Nectarine Preserves Recipe

A commercial pectin recipe for this preserve calls for 4 cups of fruit to 7 cups sugar. I use about ¼ of that: at least twice as much fruit and half the sugar, so my jams and preserves taste of the fruit instead of sugar and have half or less calories. As well as the usual breakfast toast spread, try adding your own homemade preserves to plain yogurt.

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.

Make Gazpacho Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes

I never much cared for gazpacho, and that’s probably because I lived in Colorado and Alaska most of my adult life. You must have great tomatoes to make great Gazpacho. After I tasted gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes like 'Cherokee Purple', 'Brandywine', 'Marmonde' and others from my garden, I realized what I had been missing.

Forestry, Global Warming, and the Multi-Billion-Dollar Carbon-Credit Grab

Most forests are working forests. They are cut regularly for lumber production and other uses. Only 12.7% of the earth's forests are protected. Wood is carbon. Carbon volumes sequestered in the woods need to multiply to significantly contribute to global cooling. Without this, the carbon credit market is mostly wasted as a tool for significant global cooling. We still have time to save our forests.

Insights on Food Sovereignty from Cuba

Recently two members of the collective Grow Where You Are were selected to visit Cuba with FoodFirst.org on a food sovereignty tour. This exciting honor is still fresh in the hearts and minds of Nicole Bluh, Operations Coordinator and Maricela Vega, Agroecology Intern. Below each of them shares a bit of their reflections about local food systems and the people at the center of them.

'Berkie' Babies: Raising Berkshire Heritage-Breed Pigs

We just love everything about the Berkshire pig — so we decided we would raise a breeding pair and produce heritage-breed piglets. Berkshire pigs are gentle enough to pasture with other animals and can be trained to harness/lead.

Freezing Corn and Berries

Taking a little time to freeze some corn and berries this summer can not only save you some serious money, but it can make your winters much more pleasant. Here's how to freeze berries and freeze corn for year-long food security with summer flavor.

What to Do with Sludge

Sewage and industrial sludge is being managed as a liability. Current outdated regulations and technologies focus on the least-expensive means of the sludge disposal. Sludge management needs to be redirected toward the recovery of energy and chemicals embedded in the sludge and guided by the principals based on the current scientific findings and technology. Environmental and demographic considerations need to play an important role in this new approach geared toward sustainable and energy-efficient waste management practices.

Woodworking Arborist Salvages Urban Trees

Working as an arborist in Colorado, Ryan Baldwin saw an opportunity to salvage city trees destined for the dump into usable lumber for woodworking projects.

Convert Your Lawn to a No-Till Permaculture Garden

When we bought our homestead, the only gardening area was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. Though fine for growing a winter’s worth of potatoes and squash, it’s less convenient for greens, which we prefer to grow close to the house. Having read about a method called "lasagna gardening" (named for its layers; learn the basics here), we decided to try it. Egged on by its success, we extended the garden the following year only this time incorporating hugelkultur techniques. Here’s how we did it.

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 Create Green Garage Storage

Creating garage storage often requires going out to buy new plastic storage containers. Here are a few ways to make your garage storage green.

The ABCs of Homesteading: E is for 'Edible Landscaping'

This is the third blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers ideas for starting an edible landscape on your homestead including: soil improvement, cover crops, perennials, attracting beneficial insects, and home-based food production.

Creating A Project Plan For Your Garden

Start your dream garden as you would any project — with a project plan. If you break down your end goal into step-by-step tasks, you will see your dream come to fruition in no time.

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are easy to grow, if you have 90 frost-free days. The work involved happens at times of year when you probably have fewer other garden tasks. Planting on ridges reduces damage from flooding. Biodegradable mulch warms the soil and increases yields, while reducing weed growth.

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?

10 Tips for New Garden Farmers

Now, 4 years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.

Common and Rare Types of Tomato Foliage

The more tomato varieties you grow – especially if you delve into the wonderful world of heirlooms – the more you realize that not all tomato plants look alike. Look closely at the leaves and you will find lots of variations; once you become familiar with a particularly favorite variety, you may even be able to distinguish it early on just by its leaves. Pictures tell the story and take the mystery away from the commonly used tomato foliage terms "regular leaf" and "potato leaf."

Dirty Jobs: Cleaning Chicken Coops

Ok, the hens are off, but now it's time to clean the coop. Yup...my favorite. Get on your grubbies and join the dust bowl!

Jefferson’s Monticello Chickens

Monticello’s gardens and orchards are world-famous for the fruit and vegetable production. Interestingly, among all his writings, there is very little included by Mr. Jefferson about keeping poultry. But what breeds of chickens might have been on Mulberry Row

Watering: Not too Much, Not too Little

When and how to water a garden can be challenging especially for beginner gardeners. Read the tips that will make you feel like an expert on garden watering.

Making 'Lemonade' from Seedling Failure

Enemy forces seemed to converge over my indoor green thumbs this year, resulting in a near complete seedling failure. What happens when undetermined circumstances produce "lemons?" You make lemonade, of course. Blythe shares how her failed seedling crop may just have changed how she manages her springtimes from here on out.

Managing Chickens in Mobile Coops on Pasture

Spring has sprung - time to get the hens into their summer mobile chicken coops. A nice afternoon project, right? Well, you know how those "5-minute jobs" go — they always seem to multiply. Learn how we manage chickens in mobile coops on pasture.

A Look at Goose Eggs

A rare treat, goose eggs are prized for their large yolks and tough shells.

How to Dehydrate Fresh Spinach

It seems spinach is a feast-or-famine kind of vegetable — it's gloriously prolific when it grows, then BOOM! Gone for the season. I wanted to preserve this spring goodness to enjoy later in the year, so I decided to dehydrate it. Learn how to dehydrate spinach here.

Working with Nature to Build Organic Soil, Part 5: Sustainable Grazing

Ruminants have been maligned for causing desertification and worsening climate change, but when we emulate the way nature designed herds to graze, the result is a rapid improvement in soil, forage and animal health. Our planet's health is also improved because rotational and mob-grazing takes atmospheric carbon and stores it as organic topsoil.

Fast and Easy Homemade Salad Dressings

If people knew how easy and delicious homemade salad dressings can be, store-bought dressing sales would plummet. You, too, can make your own salad dressings without having a culinary school degree or cooking experience. Learn to make Oil and Vinegar with Tarragon and Homemade Ranch with Roasted Garlic here.

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.

Biosolids or Biohazard?

Meet Carla Jordan, the resident of a rural county of Spotsylvania, VA. This a true story of how land application of biosolids affected Carla's life and how she decided to fight for the health and welfare of her family and her community.

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.

Growing Asparagus from Seed

It’s a common misconception in the home gardening arena that asparagus is a crop that should never be started from seed. I am not sure when this became the standard dogma, but it is far from the actual truth. Asparagus is a crop that thrives when started from seed and those plants that are derived from home-grown stock tend to be larger and more robust than store-bought crowns. Growing asparagus from seed is a rewarding experience that is easier than you think.

We Live on Planet Mother

Land-based people have a global culture of relationship with nature. This powerful experience of interconnection is extremely valuable too turn us away from the colonized food system.

Transplanting Seedlings into Hay Mulch

In spring, we plant several crops into hay mulch to help control weeds, including reducing the "weed seed bank". Few weeds other than perennial grasses will come up through a 4-inch layer of hay. Mulches of natural materials keep the soil damper, which can mean higher yields and less need to water. This method is quick and easy, and more effective than mulching around the plants after transplanting.

Activists Fight Biosolids Land Application

Caroline Snyder, Ph.D.,is Professor Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. For the last 20 years she has researched the politics and science of using biosolids and industrial residuals as an agricultural "fertilizer". She founded Citizens for Sludge-Free Land and is a charter member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here, Dr Snyder shares with us her views on the role of anti-sludge activists.

Is Your Home Good for Solar? Find Out Now

If you’re starting to think about going solar, knowing that your home and solar are a good match makes the shopping process even easier. Here are the top five questions and answers that will help you determine whether solar is right for your home (they might surprise you).

First Lettuce Crop and a Sandwich, Too

After you grow your own organic greens, it’s hard to go back to grocery store crap. The good news is that greens are easy to grow in a multitude of environments. If you are short on space, try building a salad tray and grow your own greens on a patios or balcony. If you have a small patch of ground, do what I did and install a raised bed.

The Growing Economy of Salvaged Urban Wood

Megan Offner of New York Heartwoods is salvaging downed and damaged city trees to redirect material from our waste stream, decrease greenhouse emissions, and fuel the demand for local wood products.

How to Make Fruit Kvass with Probiotic Benefits

Probiotics and digestive enzymes are important to our health. Fruit kvass is a fermented drink that can be made quickly and cheaply to provide digestive health benefits. Celeste Longacre shows you how and includes a basic kvass recipe with blueberry, strawberry, and orange.

Sheep Shearing Day

The sheep are puffy balls of wool, but spring is coming, and with it one of the "rights of passage" to a new season - shearing!

Bottling Great Elderberry Flavor

Most great ideas start small. That’s how Katie and Ben Reneker, founders of the Carmel Berry Company, started out handcrafting small batches of syrups and cordials with elderberries or elderflowers wild-harvested or grown on their small farm.

Brooders for Waterfowl

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

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.

Achocha: The Unknown Cucumber Relative

Achocha is a delicious and unknown member of the cucumber family with almost complete immunity from the diseases and pests which attack other cucurbits.

Complying with State Cottage-Food Laws for Home-Based Food Businesses

Making and selling processed foods legally involves more than filling containers with your favorite recipes and selling them at the local farmers market. It requires compliance with a variety of state and perhaps federal regulations and processing guidelines designed to ensure that food products are packaged safely and properly.

What's Growing in the Early-April Edible Garden

This is the time of year that salad greens and herbs shine in the edible garden. Lettuce, chard, parsley, cilantro, mustard, corn salad, and many other greens love the cool and moist spring days.

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 www.FarmingwithCarnivoresNetwork.com. 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.

Stalking the Wild Fruit: Foraging Local Fruit by State

There is wild fruit nearly everywhere, free for the picking. This spring, as soon as leaf buds swell in your area, go looking for blooms. Take a ride, get somebody to drive for you, so you can search roadsides and fields, along railroad tracks, in power line right of ways, and maybe even an abandoned homesite, looking for brushy shrubs, brambles, vines and trees with white flowers.

DIY Decorative Tray

Learn how to make your own decorative tray using repurposed materials!

How to Set Up a Bathroom Recycling Station

Recycling in the home shouldn't be confined to the kitchen. The bathroom can be a haven for recyclable items too. This post shares some ideas on setting up a recycling system for the household bathroom.

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.

Gingerbread Muffins Recipe

Gingerbread isn’t just for dessert. It’s also a great way to start off the day – after all, molasses is full of healthy iron, calcium, and B vitamins – and makes a filling after-school snack.

Dismantling Food Regimes

In our current food system, growers are undervalued and supermarkets hoard profits. How do we create solidarity between migrant workers, family farmers and urban growers to empower a thriving local food economy?

Build A Simple ATV Sled

Learn how to build a simple sled in less than 30 minutes from scrap lumber and logs!

Using Phenology to Better Know Your Land

Observing and documenting the seasonal phenomena that happen on your land can be a fascinating and important way to get an understanding of how it changes through the year. And it can be fun, too!

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 3

Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate, all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.

10 Super-Easy Veggies to Grow

Afraid you have a brown thumb? Here are worry-free veggies that can be grown in pots or in the garden. Try one or two or all ten for your first garden!

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.

Stand Up and Sign Up: Community Farms Need You Now

With forces and circumstances intensifying all around, this is the optimum time to take positive action for your family, your community, and your planet. CSA Signup Day on Feb. 26 gives everyone an opportunity for intelligent action by joining and supporting a community farm (CSA).

7 Mad Gardening Skills

To be an avid gardener means you need to have special skills. Here's a list of 7 abilities that will take you to the next level.

Butchering Biomass: How to Use Every Part of a Cedar Tree

Most homesteads have trees that need to be cut down, but how can you ensure minimal waste and maximum benefit from every part of the tree? Trunks, saplings, green branches, dead branches, and more can all be used in multiple ways to save money and add value to your homestead, while capturing some of the carbon and nutrients in the tree. Here’s a look at how we break down an especially abundant and useful tree: the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

Hugelkultur on Rented Land

Hugelkultur is the building of raised beds by burying wood and other organic material. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you can’t implement one this season.

Securing or Expanding Your State Cottage Food Law

Democracy is essential for the expanding cottage food laws in the US. There are many steps you can take to be able to sell homemade food products in your state. First, get the cottage food law passed that allows you the freedom to earn.

Make Your Own Candied Citrus Peels

Making your own glace citrus peels is easy. You can save the peel from lemons, oranges, grapefruit and pomelos as you eat them. Just toss the peel into a zipper bag and keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days. I used Jacques Pepin’s method as guidance here.

ArkV Adventures, Part 2

So, the gals are on their way to New Hampshire to pick up heritage cows, and so far, it's going smoothly — but there are bumps in the road ahead, so hang on! (Spoiler alert: They all made it home fine: two cows, two pigs, and two galls.)

6 Easy Ways to Live a More Zero-Waste Life

You're recycling as much as you can, but have you ever wished to lower what goes into your recycling bin while reducing that landfill-bound trash, too? Here are 6 simple ways to live a more zero-waste life.

ArkV Adventures, Part 1: Transporting Livestock in Winter

The farm hasn't had cows in 50 years — but Kara wanted cows. Not any old cows; no, a special heritage kind. nd where were these cows? In the mountains of New Hampshire, half a continent away! Time for a road trip to pick up and transport livestock in winter!

Farm Trucks

They may be rusty, they may be dusty, they may even be falling apart — but you just can't run a homestead without a good old farm truck.

Energy Breakthrough: Reactionless Generator and 'Out of the Void' Film Review

Energy conversion efficiencies have been stuck in the 19th century. As a result the enormous drain on natural resources has polluted the entire planet and threatens to cause a return to a preindustrial lifestyle. An Energy breakthrough is needed. A breakthrough has occurred as prophesied by Nikola Tesla.

Are Electric Vehicles Bad for the Environment?

Recent studies have begun to spark a fresh debate about whether battery-powered electric vehicles are really better for the environment than gas-powered ones. The key point is asking how much the source of the electricity that powers an EV contributes to its green credentials. This post explores that question.

Confessions of a Relaxed Gardener

If you want permission to garden with your own goals and comforts in mind, you'll find it here. Gardening is a consummate joy that can easily reflect the personality of its practitioner.

Swedish Flower Hen

Heritage breed chickens are a doorway into the past. They not only provide you with an opportunity to preserve historical links to the farming community but can be productive members of your homestead as well.

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 2

Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate, all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.

Gardening While Renting

Gardening includes permanent features like raised beds, perennials, fencing, and soil building. How can one think permanently when renting is all about the temporary?

Becoming (Accidental) Urban Farmers

An urban homestead is as unique as the individuals who own the property. Our homestead developed slowly. In fact, my wife likes to joke that we are “accidental homesteaders.” We did not buy our village home nestled on 1/16th of an acre with the goal of becoming urban farmers, it just sort of happened, out of necessity.

Pan Lebkuchen Recipe

Let’s go to Germany for great lebkuchen (aka, gingerbread)! Aside from great beer and sausages, you will find that this is one of the country's ancient but addicting Christmas treats.

How to Make Great Kale Chips

Kale chips are the rage and they cook up quickly, but they can be tricky to make. Here are some tips to making great kale chips.

2016 Goals for the Garden

Solstice Night is the traditional time to set goals. On that night, we sit by the fire, review the year, and plan for the next. I’ve been thinking about the goals for the garden already; two are building upon existing systems and the third is new. Once I am clear on my goals, I am going to post them in the greenhouse, so I will see them almost every day!

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.

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.

Taking Care of Turkeys in Winter

Winter weather presents challenges for anyone raising poultry in northern climates. Here are a few tips for getting your turkeys through the winter.

Top 10 Immune-Boosting Tips to Survive the Cold and Flu Season

As we enter into the cold and flu season, it is the perfect time to be thinking about your immune system and practical ways to help boost it. Here are 10 tips to stay your healthiest this season and all year round. These tips are our tried and true suggestions for increasing immunity and maintaining good health all year long.

Winter for the Tomato Grower, Part 1: Your-End-of-Season Questions Answered

For much of the country, the tomatoes we are eating now are not the prized specimens plucked from our gardens. They are emerging from our cupboards (dried, canned) or freezers – certainly wonderful enhancements to our cooking endeavors, but not elucidating the summer time level of excitement. But the end of the growing season doesn’t equate to a long, tomato thoughts-free sabbatical. This post outlines how to be planning for next tomato-growing season.

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.

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.

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 1

Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate, all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.

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.

Fermented Kale Tips and a Recipe for Kale Kimchi

Kale doesn't ferment as well as some of the other members of the brassica family but we still find ourselves wanting to preserve this delicious and nutritious green. Here are tips and a recipe to ensure success fermenting kale.

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.

Preserve Your Food in a Root Cellar

Food preservation can be an energy-intensive proposition for any homesteader, but building a root cellar will pay off in the long run. This old-fashioned method of food preservation is one of the simplest ways to keep traditional storage crops like onions, winter squash, apples, pears and root vegetables like turnips, carrots and potatoes.

Community Farmers Convene in America's Heartland

For dozens of reasons, it’s time to convene in America’s heartland a conference of farmers involved in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Here’s a sampler of the key topics that will arise.

Gentle Heritage-Livestock Breeds for New Homesteaders

Starting with gentle livestock breeds is key to success for new homesteaders. Scottish Highland cattle and Dorper/Katahdin cross sheep proved easy-to-handle and good producers for a retired Missouri couple.

Make a Corn-Sheller Box

Shelling corn by hand will soon put blisters on your thumbs. You can acquire a corn sheller to help you do the job. Learn how to make a sturdy box to mount your corn sheller on to make your work easier.

Make Homemade Spiced Apple Cordial

After the first of the crisp fall apples have started to soften, I love to have a sip of this for dessert on a cold winter’s night. This homemade apple cordial tastes like the absolute best apple pie you ever drank! Here is how I preserve the goodness of apples laced with sweet spices.

Seeing the Forest for the Deer

Deer are unique in that they are often managed regardless of habitat quality. When ecology and grazers are out of balance, impacts on forest health and herd health can be severe.

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.

A History of Geese as Guard Animals and for Weed Control

Noisy, gregarious birds, geese have been part of human history since the Ancient Egyptians. Their uses are wide ranging, and their entertainment value should not be overlooked. While I've spoken to many people who are skeptical about geese on their farms, universally those who have added geese to their barnyard are delighted by these comical and helpful fowl.

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.

Agroecology Techniques for the Fall

How do we apply life-changing agricultural practices in under-served urban areas? This is a brief sketch of agroecology in the urban, Southeastern region of the United States. Agroecology, food forestry and permaculture all begin by developing small densely planted, oxygen rich, microclimates that when linked in clusters or chains across and area drastically increase biological diversity and plant food production.

Can I Go Off the Grid with Solar Batteries?

Energy storage technology is moving closer to mass-market adoption. As solar batteries become cheaper and more accessible for homeowners, more people are wondering, “Can I use solar batteries to go off the grid with my solar panel system?”

Young Farmers Deserve Student-Debt Forgiveness

Student loan debt continues to pressure young farmers and those considering taking up farming to give up on their dreams of working the land. The National Young Farmer Coalition hopes to secure student loan debt forgiveness by recognizing farming as a public service.

Safe Food Storage of Your Dehydrated Food

After you have dehydrated and vacuum-sealed your garden's goodies, it's time to store them either for use during the winter and early spring months, or for those people who wish to have on hand an emergency supply of food — this post covers both! From Mason jars to plastic lidded bins, here are safe food-storage tips right here on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

How Do I Find a Humane Bee Removal Service in My Community?

Bees have nested in your home. How do you get rid of them humanely? There are no easy answers to this situation. The editor of Bee Culture magazine outlines your options for safe, non-lethal bee removal options that are available to you.

'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.

Dehydrating Blueberries

The author tells how to dehydrate and use blueberries for delicious cooking and for snacks, such as in smoothies, muffins or even as flavoring for frostings. You can use an electric dehydrator or air-dry blueberries. Learn how fun and easy it is to do.

Cultivating Communities through School Gardens

As an educator and ecologist, I am learning from my students that the most important survival ingredient may actually be a sense of community. Grow Your Own! was born in 2012 to address a problem: Local teachers and parents were building school gardens that were lying empty from disuse. The mission of GYO! thus became support for school gardens and their leaders through guidance, curriculum, and resources to foster gardens that were at the same time beautiful, educational, and functional.

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.

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.

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.

Orange-Oatmeal Zucchini Bread

Last year my zucchini patch threatened to take over the neighborhood. I made lots of bread, but concentrated on using zucchini in non-traditional yeast breads. Turn too much zucchini plus tangy citrus into a delectable quick bread.

Music for Climate Change (with Video)

We recently attended a concert for Climate Change at the Uptown Arts Bar in Kansas City organized by Craig Wolfe and Randy Deutch of the band Soular. The concert premiered a song by Winston Apple that brought tears to some eyes in the audience. There is no way to know for sure if we’re past the point of no return.

The Buzz on Honeybees

Honeybees have a complex social system - who does what is clearly defined and intricately divvied up. But where does the beekeeper fit into the story? Let's find out.

Folk School Redefined: The Homestead Atlanta

Resiliency education, if it is to be effective, should reach the masses and this poses the most difficult challenges in an urban setting. The Homestead Atlanta is a folk school dedicated to empowering communities in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. Workshops include useful heritage crafts and new age sustainability innovations to offer a curriculum designed to integrate fruitful skills into the everyday.

Managing Hive Beetles in Home Beehives

Small hive beetles are typically considered a secondary pest in the honeybee hive, paling in comparison to the Varroa mite. But they can be more than a nuisance. Left unchecked they may wreck the hive. There are ways to combat this secondary pest.

Home-Canned Chicken and Ways to Use It, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a blog series for how to can chicken. It includes great ideas for meals using canned chicken. All of these meals can be made with either home-canned or store-bought canned chicken, but the most satisfying is the meals you make with foods you have had a hand in preserving and preparing, as far back up the chain as you are able to go.

Mountain Hunting

A short story about how deer and deer hunting have changed in both the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley of New York State.

Drying Herbs to Savor the Flavor

There are so many ways to dry herbs: in an oven on low heat, in a dehydrator, in the sun. However, overr time under well ventilated conditions, herbs will dry all by themselves with no additional encouragement.

Time to Mow Down Your Kale

Is your kale patch infested with insects? It may be time to mow it down and start a fresh patch for fall. But, don't worry: Here’s a chard variety to get you by in the meantime while you wait for your fall kale to come up.

Sustainable Poultry Network National Conference

You’re invited to the 2015 Sustainable Poultry Network–USA National Conference! This conference will be the most complete, comprehensive conference for sustainable poultry production in North America. This conference features some of the very best instructors to teach on the current critical subjects of sustainable poultry production.

Urban Food Sovereignty is Our Goal

Assisting urban residents in moving toward local food production is an innovative strategic plan for resilient growth. This blog post will outline some of Grow Where You Are’s core projects and outreach methods in an effort to share best practices for developing local food systems in communities that are most in need.

Home-Canned Chicken and Ways to Use It, Part 1

The author tells how to can chicken at home, and gives some ideas on meals to make with it. Last year, the author raised and butchered 75 chickens. But when you stare at more than 70 quarts of chicken in the pantry you start wishing you had more ideas for using canned chicken.

Unconditional Love

The gifts we are able to share in a long and respectful relationship.

The Biodynamic Farm Body, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part post series explaining how biodynamic agriculture views your farm as a living organism. By tapping into the ecology that makes up your farm and viewing these systems holistically, you can utilize the natural world to grow healthy crops and achieve true sustainability. Your farm has a body and seeks wellness through biodiversity and habitat variability.

Dehydrate Potatoes for Various Uses

A potato can be sliced, diced, shredded, cooked, or uncooked for dehydrating. If you know how you plan to use them in a future use, you can customize how you prepare potatoes for dehydrating.

The Biodynamic Farm Body, Part 1

Biodynamic agriculture views the farm as a living organism. By tapping into the ecology that makes up your farm and viewing these systems holistically, you can utilize the natural world to grow healthy crops and achieve true sustainability. Your farm has a body and seeks wellness through biodiversity and habitat variability.

Meet the Polyface Farm Pastured Turkeys

During my time as a Polyface Farm intern, I never was able to grasp the turkeys as my personal responsibility. Now things are different. Get a glimpse through the eyes of a Polyface Apprentice as he raises Polyface Farm’s pastured turkeys.

5 Summer Herbs to Preserve Fresh

While many herbs can be dried and stored for later use in teas and remedies, these five summer herbs are best preserved fresh!

A Kansas Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency Begins

Even though our goal is to be completely self-sufficient, one thing that I stress is that you don't have to be completely self-sufficient — just make it your goal to become more self-sufficient than you are right now. This blog will help people become more self-sufficient by leading by example, right or wrong. Here is your official invitation: Please come and join us!

Heritage Animals on a Homestead

Raising animals will up your game in the homesteading arena, but you'll also be taking a huge step toward conservation by raising heritage livestock.

‘Lucky’ Young Farmers

Farming may be the dream, but sometimes it can also be the nightmare. Balancing the good, the bad, and the ugly poses challenges.

Deerculture

Deer impact our lives, whether you're a farmer, permaculturalist, forester, hunter, vegetarian, or landscaper. According to The Nature Conservancy, "No other threat (upon forests) is greater at this point in time." So what to do?

Parsnips as a Staple Crop

Though they are less popular than potatoes, carrots and turnips, parsnips are a fantastic storage veggie.

Small But Mighty Chicks

It's baby animals season on the farm, especially for chicks! They're pretty sweet, but they're also a lot of work. Oh, and there's incubators involved too.

Using Tonic Herbs for Health and Vitality

Many of us are familiar with Echinacea and yarrow as antimicrobials, wild cherry bark for a cough, ginger for nausea, and a host of other herbs used in acute situations to restore health. Herbs can be very effective used in this manner, but herbs also shine when used as daily building and strengthening tonics!

Weather, Climate Change and Where to Go To Escape

Recent studies show that the jet-stream patterns have changed significantly during the last decade. The oscillations that bring the jet stream down to lower latitudes have increased in frequency and amplitude.

Poetry of the Land

Language is born of experience -- so enrich your vocabulary! Go outside! Learn how to address "the sparkle of morning sunlight through hoar-frost." And don't let the world die in the dictionary.

Grow Where You Are: Community Partnerships Support Local Food Production

Grow Where You Are is a social enterprise focusing on assisting communities in creating local food abundance systems. After creating small-scale urban food systems nationally and internationally for over 15 years, we see that even the most effective systems can be easily dismantled without land security. We propose supporting local growers in a transition to home ownership with a dynamic web of community partnership.

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.

The Waiting Game

Springtime on the homestead is all about timing--getting those colorful eggs into the incubator, sneaking in a crop of spinach in the high tunnel, but also being on-the-ready for lambing season!

Help Your Trees By Burning Firewood

Those who garden know that weeding is often essential to growing good vegetables or fruits. In a forest, sunlight too is a limiting factor. By knowing which tree to cut and which to leave, forest health can be improved. Cutting for firewood can serve as an incentive to "weed" on the ultra-perennial scale.

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.

Rare Chicken Breeds at Greenfire Farms

Do you count yourself among the chicken-obsessed? Prepare to be truly impressed. In this blog, Jeannette Beranger of The Livestock Conservancy takes you on a photo tour of just a few of the eye-popping breeds found at Greenfire Farms in Havana, Florida.

Maple Syrup Memories

When the sap gets drippin', it's time to get itchin' for tapping the maple trees and making syrup!

Keep Track of Crop Rotation (Video)

Crop rotation is good for your garden, but can be difficult to track. These tools will help you chart which crop families you plant so you can mix it up the following season.

Can Nourishing Herbal Infusions Replace Your Daily Multivitamin?

There is deep nutrition in weedy herbal infusions that can fill a glaring gap in our modern, processed diets. As a passionate herbalist and vegetarian who’s endeavored to pay close attention to the nutrients in my diet, I found myself wondering: Can nourishing herbal infusions replace a daily multivitamin?

Chickens Got Cabin Fever

The sun is shining, the breeze is starting to warm, but there's still three feet of snow outside. It's driving you crazy — why can't spring get here now? Well, you're not the only one because those chickens have cabin fever too!

A Close Study of Holy Basil

Holy Basil is an herbaceous plant in the mint family that is native to South Asia. It grows throughout lowland regions of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, southern China, Thailand, and Malaysia. The species name, sanctum, reflects the sacred nature of the plant in Indian culture. Holy basil includes a few species and varieties.

Old Time Farm Talk: A Homesteader's Narrative

Farmers sure have their own way of talking — from the cadre of names for animals to the meaning of "shit," we'll explore and unravel some of the greater and lesser known sayings in Old Time Farm Talk.

Is the Future of the Fridge a Connected One?

New Energy Star standards not only raise the bar for energy efficiency in refrigeration, but they also introduce, for the first time, the idea that putting Wi-Fi into a fridge can help with energy savings.

Holes: A Homesteader's Narrative

Just when you’ve got something broken in on a farm, the holes begin to appear. There’s a hole in the bucket, a hole in my muck boots — and of course there are holes in the fence! But it’s not all bad, so here’s a homesteader’s narrative that provides a good chuckle about life on the homestead with all its wrinkles…and holes.

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.

Listing Of Most-Nutritious Vegetables And Fruits

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study on the nutritional value of vegetables and fruits. Check out the top "powerhouse" vegetables and fruits to add a few to your garden this year.

The Dog Ate My Chickens

An anecdote that illustrates a few of the realities of farm life and raising livestock.

Winter Vegetables in Your Hoop House

Here is an idea of daily hoop house tasks and information on growing and harvesting abundant, healthy winter vegetables in your hoophouse, avoiding hazardous nitrate accumulation in greens.

Cows Without Legs, Part 1: Choosing Genetics and Management for Pastured Beef Production

All the principles of sustainable grazing management can be summarized in one rather strange statement: your cattle should appear not to have legs! Their short legs should be hidden in tall grass. Both animal genetics and pasture management contribute to this philosophy. In this article, I’ll start with cattle selection and care protocols. In Part 2, I will cover forage considerations.

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.

The Top 3 Green Energy Trends for 2015

Learn about three consumer-driven green energy trends for 2015 that will have a direct impact on our pocketbooks in the coming year, including net-zero energy homes, electric vehicles, and green energy production.

How to Store Carrots Under Straw for Winter

Not being a fan of frozen or canned carrots, I began to wonder how to store carrots under straw for winter to enjoy organic carrots throughout the winter. Living in Central Oregon where beach sand is not at the hand, I gathered garden straw from a local farmer. It is important that you know that straw for the garden has not come from crops treated with herbicides to control broad-leafed weeds.

December Bees

A brief update on how the bees are faring during a break in the freezing weather.

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.

Sustainable Timber Management for Homesteaders

Managing timbered property can benefit your wildlife and your pocketbook, but beware! Timber buyers are often con-artists. Learn the questions you should be asking about sustainable timber management on your property or homestead.

How To Transition Healthfully Through Life Changes and Challenges

Practical tips for transitioning through life's changes mindfully and healthfully. This will cover simple ways to get back on track and stay focused forward. Alex and Ashley share their own personal experience with picking back up and moving forward.

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.

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.

Build a Hugelkultur Bed

Prepare simple hugelkultur beds utilizing organic materials found onsite. Use fallen trees, branches, pine needles, leaves and other organic material to build raised beds now for planting in the fall.

The Larder

Winter food storage in a naturally cooled space.

Seed Saving and Line Breeding: Preparing for Climate Change

Climate change is a sign of the end of the industrial age. If humans are going to survive the end of the industrial age it will be because individuals and groups of neighbors take these matters into their own hands. It cannot happen any other way.

Movie Review: The Seeds of Time

Modern, industrial agriculture as we know it today is running out of time, and it's much later than we think.

Biogas at Home

Renewable energy's ugly duckling comes of age.

Onions: Everything You Need To Know to Grow 'Em

If you are confused about what type of onion to grow in your garden, this blog will give you the info you need. Onions are perennials, easy to grow, and have little to no pest problems. A must have addition to every garden!

Late-Season Garden Vegetables

Keep those vegetable plants growing for a second harvest late in the year. Organically-grown, heirloom varieties will survive with a little help.

MAX Car 109: Reducing Rolling Resistance

MAX isn't just streamlined - MAX has its rolling resistance down to a minimum too, thanks to low-drag tires and lubricants. Here's a video to show how much it matters.

How to Grow and Use Heirloom Ground Cherries

Ground cherries were once a popular staple in backyard gardens. Urbanization and lost space to grow our food led to ground cherries falling out of favor. Though older folks may remember eating ground cherry jam, they’ve only recently begun reappearing at farmers markets and in seed catalogs. Ground cherries are easy to grow and pack an unusual flavor punch in jams, pies, savory sauces.

Time to Plant the Fall Garden

You can be harvesting from your garden all year long, including through the winter months! It's time to plant the fall garden.

Pesto Pesto Pesto

The green of summer available right in your freezer year round!

Complete Biogas: Food Waste and Biogas, Part 1

There’s a gold mine out back of your local restaurant in the form of wasted food. Learn to think like an ecologist and discover how nature turns “waste” into useable, renewable energy.

Steadfast Garlic

Garlic is resilient, easy-to-grow, highly nutritious, and a natural antibiotic.