5 Things You Can Repurpose Into Homestead 'Mojo'

Repurposing building materials is at the heart of sustainability and mojo is what you build with. I’ve tried many ideas at my homestead and here’s the tips I’ve found are the most affordable, brings that homestead mojo to work for you, and instead of filling up the landfill you’re helping save the planet.

The Most Important Warranties for Your Solar Installation

Solar energy systems come with multiple warranties that apply to different parts of the installation, and trying to keep track of them all can get confusing. Here’s a simple guide to the different warranties for your solar energy system, and which ones you should really pay attention to.

Know Your DIY Limits: Safety on the Homestead

Not everyone who has the time and inclination for DIY projects should necessarily engage in such endeavors on every level. Some completed self-done projects have function and form, some exhibit neither, and some are outright dangerous. Knowing your limits and when to trade your skills and products for those of others is a fundamental safety issue on a homestead. Sustainability, stewardship, and homesteading are much more than DIY.

5 Easy Options for Restoring Old Furniture

In general terms, refinishing refers to the act of repairing or reapplying a wood finishing coat on a furniture object. Refinishing can be applied to a variety of surfaces or materials, including metal, plastic, wood, glass with the help of varnish, lacquer, paint or wood finish. Here are five options for refinishing furniture in your home.

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.

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.

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.

Mullein: A Common Medicinal for Home Remedies

Cowboy’s Toilet Paper, Our Lady’s Candle, Bunny’s Ear, Beggar’s Blanket, & Quaker’s Rouge are just a few nicknames for Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a member of the snapdragon family. You will find this fuzzy, biennial plant growing on roadsides and in areas that have been disturbed in almost every state. A pioneer plant, it grows well in any type of soil, enhancing the soil as it grows (nitrogen fixer) which means it is a great plant to keep on your permaculture property for more than just an herbal remedy (or toilet paper emergency).

Killing Microbes Without Antibiotics

We think that antibiotics and antibacterial substances are the only ways to contain pathogenic bacteria and cure infections. But there are simple and very efficient tools available to everyone, which provide significant protection from pathogens.

What To Do With Overcooked Jam

Is your homemade jam thick and almost Is your homemade jam too thick and almost like candy? Here's how to fix it.candy? Here's how to fix it.

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.

5 Ways Hiring an HVAC Professional Can Save You Money

Have you wandered the aisles of your local home improvement store trying to determine what you need for your home’s air conditioning or furnace? If you are unsure about what is wrong with your equipment, get a professional’s opinion or you could be spending money unnecessarily.

How My Husband and I Went From Corporate Drones to Tropical Organic Farmers in Puerto Rico

Learn what the catalyst was behind the huge leap from corporate drones to becoming organic farmers in Puerto Rico — despite knowing nothing about farming, not speaking the language and knowing only a handful of people. Although family and friends thought we were crazy, it was the sanest decision we ever made, and we couldn’t be happier with the way our life has turned out. Amid animals being dropped off to us, frequent power and water outages, and being separated from our family, we are truly happy for the first time in our lives.

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.

Meet Delilah, Our Black-Mouth Cur Guardian Dog

The Black Mouth Cur mountain dog is not one of the more popular breeds in the homesteading community, and yet, it used to be one of the most popular homestead dogs around. Let me introduce you to our new pup, Delilah, the Black-Mouth Cur, and tell you about the amazing abilities and history of this homestead dog breed.

Building with Physical Limitations

Living with injury is a constant struggle for everyone, especially someone aiming to homestead. Even a simple thing such as getting a sack of chicken feed out of the car can be a problem, and we often ask a neighbor for help with that. Here is what to do when health issues interfere with building the home of your dreams.

Senior Homesteading: The Reality

Seniors face different challenges when homesteading than those who are younger, and so have to adjust accordingly to bring their self-sufficiency dreams to reality.

Considerations For 'Going Green' at Home

Making the commitment to going fully green at home is huge, however there are certain things you should know first, such as what it truly means to go green, your home's energy expenditure, and your carbon footprint.

Dark Molasses-Oatmeal Bread

This yummy loaf is a little darker than regular oatmeal bread, due to the molasses, which also gives it some sweetness. Once again, I’m using home ground hard red wheat flour, which gives an indescribable flavor. No flour mill? No problem, just substitute regular whole wheat flour and all purpose white, respectively. The blend of whole wheat and white flour makes a lighter loaf than if made from 100% whole wheat.

Canine Homeopathic Treatments for Natural Pet Care

We live in the mountains with our four German shepherd dogs. Our nearest veterinarian is approximately 45 miles one way and so we often treat our furry family members with homeopathic remedies. These have worked for us in the past, and although I am unable to say that the natural remedies always work, these are worth giving a try.

5 Easy Ways to Recycle Wooden Pallets

Not only is recycling your used wooden pallets helpful for the planet, but it can help you stay young in brain and body by encouraging you to learn new skills. You can also have great fun as a family working on wooden pallet recycling ideas.

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.

Starting a Rotational-Grazing Goat-Rental Service, Part 2: When Things Go 'Baahd'

When starting a farm business, make sure you know your states rules and regulations. You can contact your states Department of Agriculture and/or your county Cooperative Extension Agency for info. Make sure you know what you need to know about the basic safety and maintenance of goats to begin with: What are their needs when it comes to health, shelter, food, etc., and what are concerns such as plant toxins and predators?

How Much Does an Average Solar-Panel System Cost?

If you’re shopping for a solar-energy system, one of your first questions is probably, “How much will it cost?” Reviewing prices for a 5-kilowatt (kW) system is a great place to start — that’s the average system size in the United States.

Life on a Homestead

Homesteads come in different shapes and sizes but what is constant is that life on a homestead is one of hard work and great joy.

Starting a Rotational Grazing Goat-Rental Service, Part 1

Goat rentals are a good way to "value-add" your goat herd, as well as provide additional rotational-grazing space. But, sometimes you run into problems. This blog series about how we started our rotational-grazing goat-rental service wil outline what some of those problems are and how to deal with them.

Renewing Old-World Skills with a Modern-Day Twist

The revitalization of the “Back-to-Basics” movement has brought with it the old-world skills that the pioneers once used to survive, but with a modern-day twist. While no longer essential to survival, these skills are now being used by modern homesteaders to gain their freedom from dependence.

5 Tips for Homesteading with Kids

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

Energy Pros Weigh In on Future of Solar Power

A friend of mine participated in the Second-Annual State of the Electric Utility survey. He also shared with me the results of the 2014 survey, which tabulates the opinions of more than 500 electric-utility professionals on the subjects of demand growth, distributed generation, power supply, regulatory models, and a number of other electricity-generation, transmission, and distribution-related issues.

The Elusive DIY Reuben Sandwich and Family Secrets Revealed

The pieces have all come together. Proper restraint has been shown and I managed to put together a pretty darn good homemade (all but the cheese) Reuben sandwich. However, it is not without some consequences and revelations of a none too proud family tradition.

7 Easy Ways to Protect Your Skin Without Sunblock

Sun protection is important, and although sunblock is marketed as safe and effective, I'd rather not slather chemicals on my skin every day. Although sunblock has its place in my skin-protection arsenal, here are seven easy ways I'm able to protect my skin from the sun's harmful rays without resorting to sunblock.

Tips for Buying Kitchen Staples in Bulk

Buying certain foods in bulk is a great way to save money, packaging, and shopping time, while opening up new opportunities to support good farmers. Here are some tips and considerations for buying and handling bulk foods in a homestead setting.

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.

Potential Health Impacts from Photovoltaics

We all know that renewable energy is an important part of a greener, more sustainable future, but are there health risks associated with home-scale photovoltaic installations? The jury is still out in the world of industry-sponsored and independent research, but there is a fast-growing segment of the population who feels ill from our ever-increasing use of electricity and wireless frequencies.

How To Choose The Best Solar-Energy Equipment

Installing a home solar energy system is a smart financial investment for many homeowners. As you evaluate offers from solar companies, there are many different factors to consider – the equipment that you choose for your system, your financing options, and the installer that you select all have an impact on your solar savings.

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.

4 Reasons To Grow Hops In Your Backyard

In the case of hops, Humulus lupulus, there is too much goodness to not consider this addition to the homestead. The quick answer? Hops provide excellent shade, prolific forage for animals, superb medicinal benefits and, of course, they are great for home brewing beer and cider.

Can Seniors Really Homestead Remotely?

Homesteading is an exciting life choice regardless of age, and one of the benefits is the remoteness. Seniors can be homesteaders, but just be prepared for hard physical work and be open to adjustment and change.

Get Past Your Fears and Start Composting

Composting is beneficial for the earth in many ways: amending soil for gardening and diverting trash from landfills. But many people don't ever get started due to fears and misguided notions of composting. Learn your composting basics here.

Solar-Energy Incentive Programs are Your Friends

Installing solar panels for your home is becoming more and more affordable. In addition to the generous federal investment tax credit of 30%, there are over 900 financial and regulatory incentive programs across the United States. Combined with falling solar costs and rising electricity prices, these programs are helping to make solar panels an investment that can save you money in the long run.

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels: Top 3 Things You Need to Know

When homeowners think of installing a solar energy system on their home, rooftop solar is probably the first thing to come to mind. What many homeowners don’t realize is that installing ground-mounted solar panels is both easy and cost-effective.

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.

A Woman's Perspective on Off-Grid Living (with Video)

What's it like to be a woman off the grid? Dirty? Chore-filled? Sacrificial? Modern day off-grid homesteading is a wonderful, empowering lifestyle for those women who choose to take this path. Yet, finding practical, reality-based feedback is getting harder! Media and networks are often misleading in their depiction of off-grid life, because they need to feed a audience who is thirsting for excitement. Here is on woman's reality check.

Light Straw-Clay Building Coming of Age in North America

This past year has been a hallmark year for the advancement of Light Straw-Clay building. The publication of our new book The EcoNest Home and the latest edition of Franz Volhard’s book Light Earth Building translated into English, and the inclusion of Light Straw-Clay Building in the International Residential Code has made this beautiful form of construction accessible to more people than ever before in modern times.

How Big Data is Becoming More Important to the Energy Industry

As the energy industry evolves, so does big data. Big data is probably best known for tracking people’s behaviors, purchases and viewpoints, but it can have many other applications. Now the energy sector is tapping into the resources big data has to offer. From renewable energy to oil, gas and coal, this data science can help many companies maximize profits, reduce costs and even lower risk.

Buckwheat Corn Muffins with Blueberries

Milling your own flour is a delicious way to add nutrition and flavor to your recipes. Want maximum taste? Mill your own buckwheat for these Blueberry Corn Muffins.

How to Install a Top-Locking Chimney Damper (with Video)

Installing a Lock Top Chimney Damper is a common project among do-it-yourself homeowners. Many times the fireplace throat damper rusts apart and is non-functional, allowing heat and air from your home to escape through the chimney and vice versa. In today's chimney industry, we have top-locking chimney dampers that are easy to install, made of stainless steel, and completely seal a chimney flue when not in use.

Homesteading as a Senior Citizen

Seniors like myself are coping today on many levels of homesteading and life is good for us even if a little more difficult. Learn how homesteading and self-sufficiency have become more difficult as we grow older but is far from being over.

Stories from a Goat Farm and Micro-Dairy (with Video)

You've heard of a one-horse town? Well, we are a one-goat micro-dairy! That doesn't mean we only have one goat to milk, but that our milking parlor is set up to take only one goat in at a time for feeding and milking. Here is a story about a little goat kid who wouldn't give up so, how could we?

New Device Could Make Solar Cheaper, More Efficient

A seemingly simple, light-trapping prism could revolutionize the future of solar power. The glass prism, which maximizes the amount of energy it can derive from sunlight, contains a 28-square centimeter, four-junction miniature module that works by utilizing a hybrid receiver designed to convert electricity from each sunbeam more than other devices.

Fossil-Fuel-Free Cooking

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

Is Solar Really Worth It?

Every solar company has a variation of the same sales pitch, but whether solar is a smart long-term investment for you depends on a few major factors. Before you buy into the hype, use this simple guide to cut through the sales jargon.

Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Switching to Solar Energy

Making the switch to solar energy for your home is a big decision. It pays to spend a little time and effort researching your solar options, whether it be how to finance your system, deciding which installer to hire or which size system to install. Avoiding the most common mistakes will help you through the process so that you can make the most of your investment.

Entertaining Yourself When Living Off-Grid

How do you currently fill your spare time? Is it with things that are time wasters or things that are productive? How do you entertain yourself when Living Off Grid, Really?!?!

Oregon Company Salvages Urban Timber

After seeing beautiful trees in Oregon going to waste, Seth Filippo realized the Pacific Northwest had a huge underutilized resource in urban wood.

Install a Solar Gate Opener to Save Energy and Money

An automatic gate opener is a great example of how simple and convenient it can be to use solar panels to power all of its tools and equipment. You can also get a 30% federal residential tax credit toward the cost of a new solar powered gate opener, accessories and installation, as long as you do it before December of this year.

‘Goldenseal’ Charms and Heals in the Garden

“Golden” will be the first word to enter your mind when you see the roots, rhizomes and dormant buds of Hydrastis canadensis. You’ll understand immediately why the common name is “Goldenseal.” This very useful native woodland plant will not only charm and entertain you spring, summer, and autumn — it can even heal you.

How Much Can I Save with Solar Panels?

If you’re looking for an investment that will help to save you money as well as conserve fossil fuels, solar power is great option for many homeowners and businesses. With the continual drop in equipment prices, the advantages of solar energy just keep growing. Before undertaking such a project, you may be wondering how much can solar panels save exactly? Here are the basics.

DIY Outdoor Patios: What You Need to Know

Why pay for someone to come and install an outdoor patio when you could do it yourself? Outdoor patios are perfect for people who love to entertain. They don’t require a lot of maintenance and they can be completed within a single weekend. This post covers sizing, siting, and building materials.

Solar vs Wind Energy: Which is Right for Your Home?

If you’re a homeowner weighing your renewable energy options, you already know that thorough research is the best way to find the right system for your home. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of residential wind vs. solar power so that you can make your decision with confidence.

Homesteading With Code Requirements

When we built our current home in 1992, there were very few rules and codes that could damage or destroy our dream of doing most of the work in building our cabin ourselves. Times like that are rapidly disappearing and those who build now must endure permits, inspections, delays and forced compliance. The dream of building your own home could be more complicated than just knowing construction techniques nowadays. Read our story.

Hopping in the Backyard: Grow Your Own Small-Scale Specialty Hops Crop

Hops have not been recognized for their full potential! I often ask people, "do you know what hops are?" I always get the same response: "It's what people use to make beer, isn't it?" Well, yes, but they are much more than that. Read about how to grow hops in your backyard and the many uses beyond brewing for this specialty crop.

The Importance of Community for Homesteaders

Homesteading is built upon a foundation of self sufficiency, but community is just as important. There is so much more to homesteading than the individual pleasure associated with it. There is true joy and friendship in the shared labor of land.

Using Soap Nuts as a Chemical-Free Cleaning Solution

Technically a berry, soap nuts are considered to be an environmentally conscious alternative to chemical detergents and soaps. The berries come from a prolific tree that grows well in degraded environments where little else can grow. They are safe for allergies, free from any additives, and can be used to clean just about anything.

Homemade Coffee-Lemon Body Scrub

Eager to make some yummy, detoxifying scrubs for my arms and legs, I mixed some simple ingredients to my trusty epsom salts to achieve clarity, exfoliation, and moisture using coffee grounds, lemon zest, and coconut oil. Brilliant? Yes! Simple? You bet. Here are DIY instructions on how to make a homemade coffee-lemon body scrub!

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).

Net-Zero Energy Homes for the Masses

If you were to rank sustainable homes primarily based on their energy efficiency, Zero Net Energy homes would rank extremely high. They’re pretty cool — and complicated. Top U.S. home builder PulteGroup moves into the eco-friendly homes market by providing Zero Net Energy homes to the masses.

How to Choose Eco-Friendly Decking

Building an eco-friendly deck involves many considerations. Choosing the right material is certainly one of them, but other factors are also involved, including climate, location, and budget. This post reviews the important factors.

Organized Community Homesteading

We thought we were doing the right thing when we moved to a remote area to live 19 years ago. The community is a landowners association with some who desire to change a beautiful remote-living area on acreage to resemble what they left. We thought living in an area with covenants and rules would protect our investment, but one should recognize that living remotely in a covenant community offers both positive and negative aspects.

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.

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.

Choosing the Right-Sized Solar-Energy System for Your Home

Choosing the right size solar photovoltaic system for your home depends on where you live, how much electricity you use, the specifications of your roof, as well as the policies in place at the state, municipal and utility level. By optimizing your system, you can make the most of your solar investment.

I Am an Independent Woman Homesteader, and That’s OK!

We live in a society that is constantly telling women they can’t do hard work. But the reality is, some of us do this homesteading journey all on our own without the help of any man. Here’s why I take pride in being a strong, independent, woman homesteader.

Minimalism and the Homesteading Life, Part 2

Whenever I fancy an item for which I lack funds, I remind myself of what the item would cost in terms of that freedom. Fortunately, and perhaps because I live a joy-filled life, these material desires rarely beckon.

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.

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.

6 Things More Difficult than Building Yourself a Green Home

People think building is difficult. It’s not. And in the hope of encouraging a few more wannabe natural builders, I’ve compiled the following list. Because in my experience, there are far harder things in life than building a house.

How to Install a Chimney Chase Cover (with Video)

Installing a chimney chase cover is a common project among do-it-yourself homeowners. Many homes were built with galvanized chase covers which rust after a few years – causing leaks and rust stains. Homes that were built with a masonry chimney eventually end up with a cracked and weathered mortar crown, also causing leaks and damage to the home.

Solar Can Increase Your Home's Value: Here's How

You may have heard that installing a solar energy system on your roof can increase the value of your home – but by how much? Get past the sales pitch and understand exactly what solar companies mean when they say that your home value increases when you install solar.

Minimalism and the Homesteading Life, Part 1

Our kitchen cabinets hold an array of mismatched cups and utensils and plates purchased at thrift shops or bartered with neighbors and friends. The effect is not quaint like that of a country house in a glossy magazine. Rather, it speaks the truth of its owners: people who refuse employment that chafes against ethics and spirit. People who value a frugal life.

All About ‘Bloody Butcher’ Corn, Part 3: Storing, Packaging, and Selling (with Recipes)

If you are growing your corn to sell, you can sell it fresh (to eat) without any additional license or permit. When you change the corn in any way such as drying, grinding, etc., this is considered value-added. If you are selling your corn product at market or other outlet, make sure you have looked at all the legal aspects. Read on to learn about all aspects of packaging and selling homegrown corn, including recipes.

Accidents Happen

Accidents happen that divert us from our plans. Learning ahead to be flexible can make things easier. Here is Cindy Conner's take on having a broken wrist.

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.

Home-Insulation Considerations for Spring

According to the Department of Energy, many Americans are leaching up to 30% of their heated or cooled air through leaks, cracks or poor insulation. While you can hire a professional to perform a complete home energy audit, homeowners can conquer this important task themselves by following some simple guidelines, especially when it comes to checking and/or adding additional attic insulation if necessary.

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.

Dealing With Outside Criticism as a Homesteader

Sometimes living off the land can be pretty counter-cultural. My decision to start raising meat rabbits on my homestead was met with a lot of criticism from others. Learn how homesteaders can deal with unwanted (and sometimes unwarranted) remarks.

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.

Answers to Your Most Common Solar Energy Questions

Solar energy is growing in popularity! But installing rooftop panels is a big investment, so homeowners naturally have a number of questions. By answering some of the most common questions, I hope to set your mind at ease and help you discover the many benefits of solar energy. Before long, you could be producing your own clean, green electricity.

Solar Panels as a Home Improvement Strategy

The conventional wisdom from HGTV and home improvement magazines is that updating your kitchen, renovating your bathroom, and building an addition are among the smartest ways to increase the resale value of your home. But there’s another home improvement that you may not realize can add serious value to your property: installing a solar energy system.

Gardening While Using a Wheelchair: How One Man Recovered from Injury to Grow Again

Weeks after graduating high school, I was accidentally shot in the neck by a 14-year-old boy playing with a rifle in his home. This injury left me a quadriplegic. After months of hospitals and rehab, my desire for growing things began to reignite and I started with houseplants and a terrarium. That grew to lettuce and tomatoes on the patio. It doesn't matter if you plant something but have to have help somewhere along the way before your produce reaches the table. What is important is that you be involved in what you eat.

Stacking Functions in the Greenhouse

ne of the principles of Permaculture is “Stacking Functions” or making every structure/addition to your plan serve at least two, if not more, functions in the landscape. When we added solar panels to the homestead, we wanted to honor this principle—and constructing a small greenhouse allowed us to install the panels, as the light was not great on the roof of the house. The number of functions we have stacked on this small structure became very clear to me as I prepared for an upcoming solar homes tour.

DIY Decorative Tray

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

Why and How to Test Soil in Your Garden

Wondering how to test your soil? Get the scoop on proper garden soil testing, evaluating soil pH, and home soil testing kits before you plant this season.

The First MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Texas

The first year fair in Belton, Texas was a huge event and by all accounts, a success. I was super busy at the DIY Showcase the entire fair and had over 300 people attend my presentation on the GRIT Stage.

Homestead Planning

Having a plan allows all our energy to go toward accomplishing the necessary tasks rather than having to prioritize and build objectives on a daily basis.

Solemn Confession of a Rookie Off-Grid Homesteader

When we started our off grid homesteading adventure, we had all sorts of elaborate plans as to what we would accomplish our first year. Six months into our journey, it seems that we underestimated our workload, by a long shot!

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.

Top 5 Reasons to Go Solar Right Now

With favorable legislation in the form of a generous tax credit, along with low interest rates and stabilizing costs, switching to solar energy has never made more sense for homeowners frustrated by rising electricity rates and/or wanting to help the environment.

The Homesteader's Journey

If you have ever considered the change of lifestyle to be more self-sufficient, here are some of our thoughts and experiences from this journey.

A Sweet Season Flows: How to Tap Maple Trees and Make Syrup on a Wood-Burning Stove

Though sap flow occurs in a wide variety of trees, there is one variety that produces a sap sweeter than them all: The Sugar Maple. For a six-week window of time before the break of spring, the sugar maple flows. The sap can be tapped, and then boiled down on a wood burning stove at home to make golden, luscious homemade maple syrup.

Running a Successful CSA

Cam describes how much he has learned after running a CSA for 5 years and offers a workshop for those interested in learning from his experience.

10 Tips for Heating With Wood

Learn to choose the right-sized wood stove, manage your firewood and light, and maintain quality fires to heat your home with wood.

The ABCs of Homesteading

This is the first post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It will start with simple preparation ideas (Asceticism, Borrowing, Creativity) and move into more hard-hitting how-to advice (Ducks, Edible landscaping, Fodder, Goats, Horticulture, etc.).

Living Off-Grid, Really?!

Aur Beck, who has lived off-grid with solar electricity as his main power source for 18 years, shares some of his personal experiences with renewable resources throughout his life.

After the Storm, Getting Back on the Horse

Sometimes life’s events get in the way of our goals and aspirations in homesteading. This story is about how events in 2015 derailed our homestead activities and how in 2016 we’re trying to “get back on the horse”. We welcome your comments and advice.

A Gradual Wakening to Spring

Following the Wheel of the Year gives us monthly moments to celebrate. Imbolc is a reminder that half of winter is now behind us.

Goal-Setting for the Homestead, Part 2

This blog is part of a homestead goal-setting series. 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 iteration is how to take your major goals and get them accomplished. You must support your major goals with mid-term and short-term goals. After that, you have to make a plan to get stuff done! It is geared toward homesteading but can and should be applied to all areas of life.

A Right and Wrong Way to Squat When Giving Birth

There is a right and a wrong way to squat when in labor and giving birth. Unfortunately, most women are taught the wrong way. Learn the true birth-squat position and why it will lead to a more comfortable birth.

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.

4 Ways to Remain Eco-Friendly During Winter

Winters can be brutal, especially on our homes when it comes to our energy costs. Winter tends to drive up energy costs but there is a way to prevent that from happening this winter including eliminating drafts, smart thermostats, and more.

5 Steps to Turn Your House into a Smart, Energy-Saving Home

There are many ways to save energy in the home and one of the most efficient is the right use of home automation. Here are the top five ways you can use home automation to turn your house into a smart, energy-saving abode.

Honoring the Seasons Through Land-Based Living

At Wild Abundance, reconnecting with the land means living and working in sync with the cycles and seasons as they unfold. Here is a guide to the very beginnings of the East, when the earth is waking up, and moving from the slowness of winter into the flurry of action of spring: Harnessing the Maple Moon of February and the New Growth Moon of March on your homestead.

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.

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.

Should You DIY Solar with a Solar Panel Kit?

To save money, it’s no surprise that many homeowners are considering DIY solar panel kits when they decide to go solar. Here are the top things you need to know about DIY solar before making a decision.

Doctors Prescribe Walking as a Boost to Your Health

A major new study found that lack of physical activity is twice as deadly for us as obesity. But as little as 30 minutes of walking a day cuts the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in half, lowers the likelihood of diabetes by 60 percent, limits colon cancer by 31 percent for women and reduces risk of dementia, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis, glaucoma and catching a cold. This prompted U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to issue a call for Americans to walk more.

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.

Top 10 Places to Go Solar in the United States

Determining the best places to go solar is not just about finding the sunniest places, but also about the economics of going solar. That means taking a look at electricity prices and available financial incentives as well.

4 Reasons to Drink Goat's Milk

Not many people in our sphere of influence drink goat’s milk, so we have a great opportunity to educate those we come in contact with about the benefits. These are our four main reasons why we drink goat's milk.

Changing Trend in Homes: Going Smaller

Tiny homes range anywhere from 80 to 400 square feet and are sometimes built on a trailer chassis and sometimes built to go on a more permanent foundation. It is a relatively new concept and if we believe what is being said about the tiny home, its popularity is growing like wildfire.

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.

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.

A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: January

Have you been wondering what it is like to raise honeybees? Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will offer a peek into the life of a beekeeper in part one of a year long series. She will share what goes into maintaining a beeyard throughout the course of a year.

Solar Power as a Retirement Investment Strategy

Establishing a secure financial future for your retirement requires that you explore a variety of options, but most homeowners don’t realize that installing a solar panel system can be one of the smartest retirement investment options available.

How to Green Clean Your Shower Head

Many people assume that a shower head doesn’t need to be cleaned. However, it's not uncommon for lime scale and mineral deposits from the water to clog your shower head and reduce the flow of water. Cleaning the shower head is important but it must be done correctly and in an eco-friendly way.

Building a Cabin with a Portable Sawmill

By sawing his own lumber from fallen trees, Billy Reeder not only built his cabin debt-free on family land, he also built a new life — a deliberate life. A good life.

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.

Home Economics

Learning to do things for yourself at home is empowering. You don’t need a degree in home economics, although it helped Cindy, to get started. She even makes her own blue jeans! Just as important to her are projects such as making a bench grinder stand, which you can learn more about here.

Our Summer with a Community Garden Plot

While this young couple had dreams of buying land to start their homestead, they were still stuck in an apartment in the big city so they rented a community garden plot. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Find ways to accomplish your goals and do what you love!

The Chicken Cabana Room

At Sunflower Farm we strive to provide our chickens with the best accommodations!

Sane and Sustainable Homesteading, Part 1

Many people in the world long for a life in the country, lived on their own terms, close to nature, honest and hands-on. But too many of these people find that homesteading is harder, less fulfilling and more painful than they imagined. Learn how to thrive on the land without burnout, despair and failure.

Does Snow Affect My Solar Panels?

Plenty of homeowners have both solar panels and snow, and some of the most popular regions in the U.S. for solar have snowy winters. Don’t let winter weather discourage you from going solar!

Original Fire Cider Recipe and Controversy

Learn how to make Rosemary Gladstar's original Fire Cider recipe and chutney to help keep your immune system healthy, and to ward off infections. Also learn about the Fire Cider controversy, and why it should matter to you.

Choosing a Rural Home Security System

After building and moving into their new home in the country, one couple undertakes outfitting their rural home with a security system. They share a few lessons for others considering the same.

Homesteading in the United Kingdom

“Smallholding” is a UK term that’s broadly equivalent to the term “homestead” in the United States, meaning farming on a small scale with a strong element of self-sufficiency in food. Despite the geographical differences, there must be a great deal of common ground between the American homestead and the British smallholding — so let’s find out!

Solar Empowerment: Lights Illuminating Guatemalan Hills and Hearts

"Solar Empowerment" is a key component behind an educational development model that does more than trade third-world problems for first-world problems. The Integral Heart Foundation combines education for the poor with environmentalism in a way that bypasses the problems facing our developed world.

Why Home Insulation Is Important Year-Round

Home insulation can no longer be regarded as something homeowners simply put off as a vague way to be environmentally conscious. Insulating one’s home properly is the best way to cut down on those surging energy costs plaguing every homeowner.

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.

Lessons Learned from Childhood on a Farm

Time well spent on my grandmother’s farm taught me lessons that I have carried with me throughout my entire life. What I learned there even inspired me to pursue a homestead lifestyle for myself, working right beside my husband as we learn to be more self-sufficient.

My Utility Bill Keeps Increasing: What Are My Solar Options?

With rising utility rates, more and more homeowners are considering solar energy for their home. In a number of states, the cost of electricity from rooftop solar panels is the same or cheaper than electricity from the utility. A brief look at historical trends in utility rates across the U.S., is followed by an explanation of the available solar options.

How Self-Reliance and Voluntary Simplicity Equals Power

Don't buy into the hype telling you that you aren't capable of doing it yourself! Learn the simple things you can start right now and build on it as you gain confidence. You may find, like me, that the difference you make in your life can be game changing!

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.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 5: Heat

This is the final article in a series on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.

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.

Essential Steps to Keep Your Wind Turbine Turning

So you finally took the leap and installed a home wind turbine. Congratulations! You’ve just taken a big step to make your home energy generation more sustainable and secure, but what comes next? Wind turbines require maintenance and this post will outline some wind turbine maintenance essentials to consider.

What Are Our Rural Internet Options?

Living in the country often makes it difficult to access reliable, fast Internet services. One couple searched through their rural Internet options after moving to property outside of town.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 3: Water

This is part three in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.

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.

Home Solar Value: Analyzing 15 U.S. Cities

Discussions about solar value are often limited to avoiding electricity costs, and oftentimes neglect the additional market value that these “mini power plants” can add to your home. EnergySage and Sandia National Laboratories conducted an analysis to estimate solar market values in 15 cities across the United States.

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.

The Top 5 Things You Can Do to Your Home to Save the Planet

There are five main areas of the home responsible for wasting the most energy. At the top of that list is windows, and one of the most effective ways to decrease your home’s carbon footprint is by replacing old, drafty windows with new, air-tight Energy Star-qualified windows.

Planting Garlic in Our Fall Front Yard Garden

Now that this couple has moved into their new country home, they take time to plant garlic and a small fall garden in their “front yard.” One small step toward an established homestead, one giant leap for family morale!

Preserving Milk: How to Balance Dairy Production Year-Round

Dairy animals such as goats produce milk in a seasonal cycle, requiring homesteaders to handle both an abundance and shortage of milk during the year. Freezing milk directly, and making & preserving cheese, are two ways to ensure a reliable supply of dairy year-round. Allowing your diet to change with the seasons can also reduce the impact of low-milk periods, replacing its nutrition with food crops or meat when milk isn’t convenient to produce.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 2: Electricity

This is Part 2 in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. The author is currently entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at his mountain homestead after completing the construction of a small house.

Kefir Crème Fraîche

Kefir culture can be used to start a broad range of dairy ferments. This recipe shows how kefir grains will culture cream into delicious creme fraiche - a tasty, healthy alternative to whipped cream. Part 2 of a series of articles explaining how to use traditional cultures for cheesemaking.

How We Became Caretakers of a Historic Appalachian Homestead

As part of their Americorps positions at Big Laurel in West Virginia, for the next 11 months, the author and her husband will be living in and maintaining an historic homestead, working in the local schools as teacher aids, and doing whatever they can on the premises of Big Laurel to help further its mission as an Appalachian ecological learning and retreat center.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 1: Resources

This is the first of a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable old-school techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small home.

5 Tips for a Greener Christmas

Take notice of your environmental footprint over the festive period and follow our guide for a greener Christmas.

Moving Day(s): How We Moved into Our New Home, Plus a Few Tips

One couple has finally moved to the country, with the hope that they’ll soon be eating a lot of homegrown peaches from their yet-to-be-planted orchard. The homestead dream continues, with this story of a successfully organized moving and unpacking experience — and beginning a lifetime of enjoying full view of the sunset from the back porch.

Things Get Easier One Step at a Time

Dream big, build a small house or make home improvements, and enjoy the benefit of every task when you tap into your Zen of Building.

7 Aloe Vera Plant Uses

Aloe may be best known for its use as a natural treatment for sunburns, but the benefits of aloe extend far beyond helping your skin heal. Learn how aloe can help keep your heart, teeth, digestive tract, and more healthy.

Well Water Test: Is Our Well Water Safe to Drink?

After drilling a well and hooking up the pressure tank, whole-house filter and water softener, one couple covers the steps in having the health department come and test well water for bacteria to ensure the well water is safe to drink.

Natural Wound Care: How to Heal a Cut Fast

With minor, common injuries, you’ll likely be able to care for the wound yourself. These simple guidelines will help you to be better prepared next time you or someone around you gets a cut.

Determining the Goals for Your Farm

Polyface Farm Apprentice Tim Rohrer encourages homesteaders and farmers to try and define clear goals for their farm. By determining clear goals, a farmer is better able to go about furthering her farming adventure.

Step-By-Step Construction for Owner-Built Small Homes

Estimating the work load and minimizing re-work is the key to happy owner-builders of small homes. The basic steps are similar wither you build a straw-bale, stick-frame, or masonry structure, all must be completed within the relatively short building season.

Fall In the Rockies Invigorates the Senses

There is one time of the year in the mountains that is special and above all other seasons in my opinion. Fall time in the mountains is invigorating and refreshing. It is the season the invigorates all five senses. For a little Rocky Mountain fall-time inspiration, read on.

How and Why to Choose Energy-Efficient Windows

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the amount of energy lost annually through windows costs consumers $35 billion. Heat loss and heat gain through and around windows accounts for between 10 and 25 percent of our heating and air conditioning usage, the largest consumer of energy in a modern home. Here are some ways to make sure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible.

Could Using an Air Compressor Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Air compressors can be used for just about anything on your homestead but they don’t have the best reputation for going green. Here’s what you need to know. These valuable machines are used in many factories, small businesses and even in homes, and making sure yours is efficient can cut down on emissions and your energy bills at the same time.

How to Find the Right-Sized Town for You

The first question on the path to creating a sustainable homestead is: Where should I live? Find out how population and topography characterize a town and use a simple method to map your region and locate and research the right-sized town for your home.

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.

How to Determine the Quality of Essential Oils, Part 1

Discover how to expand your olfactory palate to be able to determine qualitative differences between essential oils and learn what all the terms used in the marketing of essential oils mean. Feel more empowered in choosing a supplier and learn key elements to look for when making that decision.

Water Well Drilling: How Our Well Works, Part 1

This is the first post in a three-part series on how a water well works, as experienced by couple building a new home in the country. This initial post focuses on the initial decision to drill a water well, the installation process, and their maintenance plan to keep their well safe.

How to Make Something Like Feta Cheese (Video)

Where could you start your cheese making journey? Well, why not try something like Feta cheese? With minimal stirring after cutting the curd, and a pressing of only 4 hours, this cheese is an excellent place to start cheese making.

Septic System Installation (with Photos!)

While not the most glamorous topic, building a house in the country usually includes a septic system installation. The tank, pipes and lateral lines were all laid out, approved and buried at one couple’s home-construction site last week. Read how the process went, find out how a septic system works, and check out the photos.

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.

13 Signs You May Be an Urban Farmer

When I first started gardening in this place, I was surveying my four by ten raised bed of greens with pride one afternoon. “You really are a farmer, not a gardener,” a friend observed. Take this short quiz to see if you are a gardener or have slid into the realm of "urban farmer."

Cooling Herbal Recipes for Your Canine Companion

Dogs may have had nothing to do with the naming of the season, but they, like us, will most likely desire some respite from the heat. Here are several cooling herbal recipes for your furry friends to try at home!

Polyface Farm’s Unfair Advantage

Polyface has an “Unfair Advantage," but the good news is that you do, too! Here, Tim shares his thoughts on how your Unfair Advantage sets you apart from the crowd and bestows gifts on you that you can turn into success. The trick is learning to utilize your own Unfair Advantage.

Why Tiny Homes Are Inherently Green (With Lilypad Tiny Home Tour)

Tiny homes are becoming more and more popular throughout the United States. This article explains why tiny homes are inherently green and offers an example of Anita’s 248-square-foot Lilypad Tiny Home, decked out with green appliances and sustainable materials.

Livable Space Design for Tiny Homes

Designing a tiny home can seem like a Rubik’s cube challenge—finding ways to shift things around when needed and out-of-the-way when done. Find out how to integrate inside/outside rooms, single/multiple rooms, and built-ins and fold-outs into your tiny house design; plus learn about the “14 Basic Requirements of a Livable Home.”

5 Top Tips for Cheese Making at Home

Who would have thought that making your own cheese at home could be so much fun? I have produced cheese as a hobby regularly since 2009, so I thought it would be practical to share with some valuable tips that I have learned along the way.

Reasons I Joined a Cooperative Living Situation

The trials and tribulations of our life on a cooperative living farm quite frequently mirror those of any small group of young Americans finding their way in the world, however, for me, there are daily reminders of why I am sticking with these crazy idealists in Appalachia.

Our Home Insulation Decision: Based on R-Value

For a new house being built in northeastern Kansas, a mix of spray foam insulation and batt insulation will provide an R-value that will help the home owners efficiently heat and cool their new space.

Selling Honey at Fairs and Festivals, Part 1: Planning Ahead

Have you thought about selling your extra honey and beeswax products at a fair or festival? In Part 1 of a three-part series, Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss how to get started in selling your products of the hive.

6 Top Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

Don’t let a toenail infection get the best of you; try these easy and effective home remedies for toenail fungus that will help you get your nails back to normal.

How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rug

Eco-friendly rugs can be found both indoors and outside but it's important to know the differences and the attributes that make outdoor rugs "green". Here are some of the best options for eco-friendly outdoor rugs.

Home Construction Update: A Mini Photo Series

A lot of progress has been made on one couple's home construction. This post showcases some photos of the progress and highlights some special features being built into the house.

For Sale: Homemade Products from the Homestead

Finally, the freedom to earn from our home kitchens. In 42 states (and counting), home cooks can now sell to their neighbors and community certain "non-hazardous" food products made in their home kitchen, often with very few regulations or governmental entanglements.

A Closer Look at Recycled Countertops

When one home-building couple first started looking for sustainable countertop materials, they were focused on options made with recycled materials. In their quest for the perfect tops, they stumbled upon a more cost-effective way to incorporate recycled countertops into their home’s design.

Making Your Own Herbal Medicine: Tinctures and Infusions

To make potent extractions of the medicinal properties from plants growing nearby, you can easily learn to make your own tinctures and infusions. Alcohol-based tinctures are often used for acute or specific concerns, while water-based infusions are strong, medicinal teas which gently strengthen the body over time.

Farming on a Tenth of an Acre in Town

You do not have to have “land” to farm. You can farm where ever you are. A 10th of an acre is enough and, on some days, more than you would want to can handle. Make the best use of your space, care for your soil, be thrifty with water and enjoy the garden and the fruits of your labor.

Sourcing Sustainable Bamboo Flooring

After looking through many sustainable floor materials for their new home, one couple settles on bamboo flooring for the majority of their living space. As with many house-building choices, finding a truly green bamboo floor requires a little product research.

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!

Which Windows Are Best for a Passive Solar Home?

Whether your windows are fixed or operable, crank or double-hung, or come with a low-emissivity glazing all make a difference in how well the windows perform in an efficient, passive solar home.

Is Your Water Heater an Energy Hog?

One of the largest energy expenses in a typical home is its water heater. Here are some ways to assess the efficiency of your water heater and decide whether a replacement is needed and if so, what type it should be.

Financing Renewable Energy: Home Wind and Solar Power

Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.

4 Eco-Friendly Countertop Options for Every Budget

Choosing a countertop for a kitchen remodel involves many considerations. One of the most important considerations is eco-friendliness. Here are some of the best eco-friendly countertop options available on the market today.

The Heart of the Home: Planning a Sustainable Custom Kitchen

Planning a custom kitchen design that incorporates sustainable materials and supports a self-reliant lifestyle can be done. Read one couple’s experience and thought process as they do just that. The graphic shown here is a computer-generated draft modeling of the cabinet design for their future kitchen, but note that the colors and materials do not reflect what will be the final look.

Make Light Fixtures from Old Chicken Feeders

Even with minimal building capability, you can learn how to make light fixtures from old metal chicken feeders. The feeders may be hard to come by, but if you know someone that has been in the commercial chicken-raising business, then you can likely find some in their used feeder pile. The total cost per light was $19.32.

Turn Wood into Free Motor Fuel with a Wood Gasifier

Imagine being able to turn dead tree branches from your own property into motor fuel. Make power just about anywhere, at any time...for free. Sounds futuristic, right? Fuel your back-up electrical generator with wood gas and save a trip to town. Learn build tricks from a pro for a reliable system on a DIY budget.

How to Make a Mini Terrarium from an Incandescent Light Bulb

As more people choose to reduce their energy consumption and buy newer, energy-saving light bulbs, more incandescents are disposed of. Divert incandescent light bulb waste by hosting a terrarium-making workshop, where students can up-cycle their incandescents into something new: mini terrariums! This post will show you how.

How To Turn a Tablecloth into a Rug

An eco-friendly and also budget-friendly way to search for a new rug can actually be very simple: the search can start right at home. Here is a way to re-purpose an old tablecloth into a new rug.

Home Construction Timeline: Plans vs. Reality

A home-construction timeline is often a moving target: Rain, subcontractor schedules and various other conflicts can cause frustrating delays. One couple finds ways to cope with record rainfall that halted progress on their home-building process by working ahead on other decisions they’ll eventually need to make.