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.

Hatching Chicks Using Incubators vs Broody Hens, Part 2

In my previous post, I discussed several points comparing the relative benefits of using incubators for hatching chicks vs. doing things the natural way - that is, assigning the job to a broody. Today I am going to cover some more factors influencing the chicken owner's decision on this matter.

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 ABCs of Homesteading: H is for 'Horticulture'

This is the sixth blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers an understanding of what horticulture is and why it is important to homesteading. You'll find reading recommendations, information on plant selection, garden planning, plant propagation, seed saving, and food security.

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.

From the Ravages of Fire Come Berries

'Tis the season for harvesting. Specifically, for me at least, the abundant blueberries and cranberries that are in quantity and free for the taking. How we take advantage of prior devastation from forest fires to pick our yearly supply of blueberries and cranberries.

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.

Setting Live Traps for Mammalian Garden Pests

Mammalian garden pests can do serious damage to your crops in a short period of time. Humane live traps such as those made by Havahart are a practical answer to this situation, but outwitting the animal can also be frustrating. Properly setting, baiting, and managing these traps can increase your success in removing problem animals from your property.

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.

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.

7 Tips for Beginning Chicken Keepers

This post is for people thinking about, or just beginning, to keep a backyard flock of chickens. Perhaps you’re like us — you wish you had chickens and feel that your sustainable, self-reliant life wouldn’t be complete without some hens clucking and pecking around your back yard. However, you’re a little intimidated by actually jumping in. Here’s my two cents, after several years of raising chickens under our belts.

Hatching Eggs Using a Surrogate Hen

When one of our hens went broody, we asked ourselves if it was possible for her to hatch out a nest of ducklings instead of chicks. The result was a protective hen and four healthy baby ducks!

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?

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.

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.

3 Fertilizer Teas for Plants

If you are trying to stay away from chemical fertilizers, stack the functions of the plants and animals on your property and save money then these simple fertilizer teas are just for you. There are many different kinds of fertilizer “teas” and we will be covering three of them in this blog. We will talk about comfrey, rabbit manure and vermicompost tea!

Learning About Raising Chicks from a Mama Hen

We can argue about how to raise chicks all day, but when it actually comes down to how mama hen and nature do it, no one is going to tell her how she can and can’t do it. Here’s what my Mama Hen is currently teaching this homesteader about raising chicks on our homestead.

Making the Ultimate Brooder Box

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

A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: July

It's all about beating the heat at Bees of the Woods Apiary this month! We'll share some tips and strategies for keeping you and your bees comfortable during the dog days of summer.

6 Fun Summer Activities for Free-Range Kids

The ability to entertain yourself is a crucial skill for children of any background. The key to self-driven summer fun is setting acceptable boundaries of when and where your children may go, how long they can stay out, a communication plan to get in touch with them if needed, and to provide them easy access to tools and supplies that will enrich their experience.

'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.

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.

Beginning Beekeeping: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Beekeeping is a fun yet rewarding experience. Not only you can produce a sustainable, nutritious natural sweetener, but you can also benefit the environment by keeping bees in your backyard. This post will help you get into beekeeping.

How to Prepare for Raising Goats

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

Interpreting the Buzz of Honeybees

Did you know that you can tell a lot about the behavior of a honeybee by the sound of her buzz? Careful attention to the sound of the honeybee’s buzzing can alert the beekeeper to the mood of the bees.

Tracking Natural Events on the Homestead

Observing and recording natural events on your homestead offers many benefits, from sharpening your skills to developing data that help you understand natural patterns which influence your surroundings. Developing an organized approach to documenting and sharing your observations can be especially beneficial, creating a resource that’s useful to you and others.

A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: June

It's another busy month at Bees of the Woods Apiary! Jennifer Ford will share what we have been up to in June 2016, including keeping up with honey supers and brood boxes — and the importance of knowing when you have enough hives.

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.

Homesteading Checklist for June: Wild Food Foraging, Berry Preservation, and More

Both tart and sweet, June is infused with the tangy taste of wild cherries, the sweetness of plump raspberries, and the succulence of wineberries. Though feasting, harvesting and preserving this sweetness is a priority, there is much more to do to make the most of this month. Below is a guide to homesteading and wild-food foraging in this juicy season.

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.

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.

Fun Facts About Chickens

Chickens have always been a trademark of farm life and recently have gained popularity with backyard farmers looking to take out the middleman between themselves and fresh eggs. They’re funny looking feathered friends with distinct personalities and some unusual antics you might not know about if you are just getting into poultry. Their quirky behavior can have some interesting origins.

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?

A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: May

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary shares what has been going on in the beeyard this month, including queen rearing and pollen production.

10 Simple Ways to Keep You Safe on Your Farm

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

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

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

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

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.

Keeping Dairy Goats on Rotational Pasture 24/7 to Reduce Internal Parasites

Rotational grazing can reduce the parasite load of goats, but this is difficult to accomplish with a dairy herd which needs to return to the same location every day for milking. On our homestead, we developed a rotational shelter and management system that allowed us to keep the herd on pasture 24/7 during the warm season. This significantly reduced our reliance on chemical de-wormers and helped us feel better about the quality of our milk and our soils.

How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an easy to grow, delicious mushroom for beginners to learn to cultivate. Shitakes have a satisfying meaty texture when sauteed, broiled or baked, and they have a distinctive 'unami' flavor that makes them popular in Asia.

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.

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.

Dear MOTHER: June/July 2016

Reader letters about aging on the homestead, composting toilets, parsnip burn, preserving okra, a homemade swimming pool design, canola oil and omega-3s, pesticide drift, and more.

Installing Bees in a Top-Bar Hive

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

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.

Can I Hatch an Egg I Found?

Springtime is egg season, and often wild bird eggs are found unattended, either in nests or simply lying on the ground. What is the best course of action when you find an egg? Find out here!

Off-Grid and Free: Living With Wolves and Remote Communications

They're back. The wolves. During breakfast one morning this past week, we heard a chorus of howling. Racing down to the shoreline, we saw 3 wolves in the center of the lake about a mile away. The wolves are a symbol of our wilderness location. Learn how we live with them and stay in touch with civilization.

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.

Homesteading and Wild Food Foraging Under the Poplar Moon: May To-Do List

As the days stretch closer to their full summer length, we are welcomed to sow directly into the warming ground. We are invited to harvest from the woods, which are coming to life with new abundance. Now, we step into the light of the growing season, and we plant beneath the poplar moon! Learn how to prepare your garden and what to harvest in the month of May.

Raising and Slaughtering Livestock: Legal and Practical Considerations

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

A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: April

In the Northeast, you never know what to expect in the beeyard in April. From snow to some very busy bees, Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will share what has been going on in the apiary this past month.

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.

Concerning Dehorning Mature Goats

Goat packers who have goats with horns that have become an issue around the home or farm is that, depending on age and sexual hormone levels, there may be options less dire than surgical complete dehorning or banding at the base of the horn, which compromises your pack goat’s defensive capability and confidence on the trail. Certainly talk to at least two vets before committing to any plan of action regarding full removal of horns from goats over the age of 6 months old.

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.

Fun Facts About Eggs

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

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

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

5 Clever Chicken Egg-Incubation Tips

While chickens are natural incubation experts, many breeders find that utilizing an incubator can give them more control over their hatch, ultimately leading to higher hatch rates than nature provides. Want to increase chicken egg hatch rates? Check out these fives tips to help you become an egg-incubation master.

What to Consider When Building a Chicken Coop: Sizing and Location

Building a chicken coop is a big deal. It is something that will remain on your property for years to come. It is the beginning of turning your yard into your own ‘starter homesteader.’ But wait — there are a few things you should take into consideration before you break ground on your new friends’ home.

Why We Fence-Line Wean Our Calves and Why You Should, Too

Spring is a common time to wean calves, but as any animal caregiver knows there's more to weaning than just separating the calf from its dam. When we wean calves, our preparation tasks must start several weeks earlier. We fence line wean to lower their stress and give calves a healthy start.

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.

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.

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!

Brooders for Waterfowl

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

DIY Off-Grid Chicken-Watering System

For the same cost as one more indoor waterer, we built an outdoor system with 10 times the capacity that won’t require much extra work from us to keep up.

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.

Choosing Your Honeybee Breed

Who knew there were different breeds of honeybees? Choosing the best breed for you depends on your goals as a beekeeper. This post covers a few of the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular breeds of honeybees.

A Simple, Modern Rail Fence

Fencing is a perpetual challenge for our wildlife-rich homestead farm, as we try to balance security, aesthetics, budget, and sustainability. Our fences range from serious permanent barriers made from thick cedar posts and wire mesh to lightweight and portable electric lines. Recently we’ve been experimenting with a modern twist on the classic split-rail fence, with a method that fits many of our goals for a good fence.

Live Better … on Less!

Discover alternative ways of looking at the world's problems and simple solutions to everyday challenges. Pay just $12 for six jam-packed issues or $20 for twelve jam-packed issues.

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.

Harvesting Animals Humanely

Harvesting animals is not our favorite part of homesteading, but it is a necessary part. We think the aspect of harvesting, processing, slaughtering, and butchering provides the deepest connection with the land. It is the thing that makes a connection with food the most real.

Feather-Pecking Solutions

Feather pecking among your flock is a situation that requires your immediate attention. The confidence to address the root cause of the problem is essential.

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.

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.

A Year at Bees of the Woods Apiary: March

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will share what happens in the beeyard during the month of March. This is a critical time in the apiary - for both bees and beekeepers.

Coping with Animal Deaths on the Farm

Last year was the year from hell. Literally. We lost 7 baby goats, 4 llamas, 2 dogs, and 1 cat due to different causes. But I did have victories. I'll be talking about what I learned here and in my next blogs.

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.

Building a Hoop Coop

Because our flock is now running around 40 birds, we are in dire need of an updated coop for our hens and their roosters.

Tips for Training Goats to Electric Net Fences

Portable fences made of electrifiable netting allow practical movement and protection of small livestock on pasture. It’s important to use and maintain the nets properly, and to train goats to respect the barrier for their own safety and security. Well-managed net fencing offers significant benefits to the health of herds and pastures, and to the homesteader’s peace of mind.

Your Horse Can Read Your Facial Expressions

Research shows that domesticated horses can read and understand human facial expressions. This finding means that the mood you’re in when you go to work with a horse is going to affect how the horse feels. Learn tips to deal with this amazing trait in your horses.

Dear MOTHER: April/May 2016

Reader letters about inspiring homesteaders, the benefits of advertisements, uses for organic tobacco, introducing children to meat processing, the dangers of borax, pesticide drift, newsletters, and more.

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.

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.

Build A Simple ATV Sled

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

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.

Home-Scale Maple Syrup Production

Tapping maple trees for home production is practical and productive. Even in the lower Midwest, tapping as few as three trees can produce much of a household’s year-round maple needs. Although fully concentrating sap into syrup takes significant time and attention, it’s also possible to preserve sap at a lower concentration with far less work, using it year-round as a refreshing drink.

Hoof and Leg Issues in Pack Goats

Goats need sound feet, knees and legs to carry a pack in the backcountry. Here are some problems and solutions that pack goats experience with their legs, including proper goat hoof care.

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.

The ABCs of Homesteading: D is for Ducks

This is the second blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers how and why to raise Pekin ducks for a quick and easy introduction to home butchery, food preservation, egg production, and soil improvement.

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.

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.).

Considerations When Building a Chicken Coop

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

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.

The Joys of Raising Ducks

Raising ducks not only provides you with the opportunity to have fresh eggs and meat available, but also provides you with hours of enjoyment. From chasing minnows to quacking their greetings to a caretaker, ducks can be fun to own!

Purchasing and Managing Pastured Pigs

Tim Rohrer talks about what he's learned while managing the pastured pigs at Joel Salatin’s farm and shares a few things to consider before purchasing your own pigs.

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.

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.

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).

Goat Packing as a Use for Male Goats

Training wethers to pack can be an option for dairy goat breeders looking for alternatives to less attractive means of dealing with the problem of too many males.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

Preparing Your Homestead Rabbits for Winter

Whether it’s as simple as switching our water bottles for crocks, or something more complicated, like stacking hay around your hutches — here are a few quick tips on how to keep your homestead rabbits warm this winter.

Dear MOTHER: February/March 2016

Reader letters about inspiring market gardeners, the health benefits of bison, Tyson’s effects on Arkansas homeowners, the term “urban homesteading,” industrial egg products, forest burning, and more.

Repurposing Scrap Wood

From decorative signs to nest boxes, there are many ways you can repurpose pallets, lumber, or even logs around your home. Learn about some of the ways you can turn scrap wood into something useful!

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.

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.

The Prepared Homestead Kitchen: Top Appliances, Part 4

This last year I was able to preserve hops, apples, raspberries through making a puree and drying fruit leather, I made kale chips, dehydrated onions, dried mint and basil, zucchini, plums, and lavender. Yogurt was a common sight in my Excalibur up until our goats’ milk supply slowed down, we’re too busy drinking it to make yogurt right now. This is one of the appliances I really appreciate particularly in the summer/harvesting months. In addition to all of this, we even used the Excalibur to incubate chicks!

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.

5 Easy Squirrel Calls (with Video)

Here are five very quick, simple calls you can make to mimic the sound of a squirrel "cutting" using items you can find around your home!

Traveling Without Goats: Three Ways to Share the Workload of Dairy Animals

Goats tie you down, particularly dairy goats. Even an overnight absence, or a short trip to visit family for the holidays, creates a management problem for the daily needs of your left-behind livestock. By developing working relationships with other goat enthusiasts, you can have your milk and travel, too.

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!

A Slice of Winter Homesteading Life (with Videos)

Mark pulled out the camera this week to share a few short videos about our winter garden and goats. Explore our December garden and goat pasture in these short homesteading videos.

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.

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!

The Prepared Homestead Kitchen: Top Appliances, Part 2

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

The History of Barns in America

The iconic structures that shape our countryside have changed over the years to reflect the needs of agriculture.

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.

Using a Worm Bin to Create Compost in Your Kitchen

Make exceptionally rich compost quickly and easily by utilizing some of the planets very best eaters - worms! Vermicomposting, or using worms to break down waste materials, is a fast and effective way to turn kitchen scraps into worm castings, a highly valued form of compost.

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.

Choosing Hay for Your Dairy Goats

How should you choose good hay for your dairy goats? Hay should be composed of plants goats like to eat, cut and cured properly for best nutritional content and storage life, and free of unwanted chemicals and weed seeds. If you can, buy hay fresh from the field of a trusted source, where you can inspect it and its growing conditions.

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.

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.

Not Your Normal What-I'm-Thankful-For List

We all are thankful for the things in our lives, but are we thankful for the right things? Tim Rohrer encourages us to consider things that we might not normally consider thanks-worthy.

How to Bake Using an Earth Oven

Instructions on how to bake the best wood-fired pizza you will ever eat, right in your own backyard using an earth oven made from cob.

How to Sell Surplus Honey

There are many ways to sell your extra honey and other products of the hive. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain a few easy ways to sell all of that extra honey, including how to sell honey online, at work, at a roadside stand and more!

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.

Harvest Honey from a Top-Bar Hive

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

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.

Getting Ready for Winter on Our Urban Farm

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

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.

The USDA’s Latest Dumb Idea to Combat Avian Influenza

Is it okay to let the fans and air conditioners go off in a shed with 20,000 chickens inside? Of course not, and poultry growers have been prosecuted and fined for such negligence. Yet, the USDA as of September 18, 2015, has sanctioned this action as an appropriate "depopulation" measure in an avian influenza-infected poultry barn.

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.

Dear MOTHER: December 2015/January 2016

Reader letters about solar and geothermal systems, free quilts for the homeless, Q Fever, soy’s link to obesity, MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS, monarch butterflies and more.

Why Young Farmers Grow Up To Be Responsible Adults

Young farmers have the opportunity to grow in many ways. Responsibility, work ethics, and with teamwork are just a few ways farming can further a young person. These principles can help them down the road of life, regardless of their final occupation.

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.

Are You Prepared For Disaster On Your Homestead?

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

Types of Beehives

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

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.

Teaching Kids to Be Safe on the Farm

Farms can be a magical place to grow up but they can also present some dangerous situations for kids. Here's how to teach your children to be safe on the homestead.

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.

Puppy Talk and How it Relates to Livestock-Guardian Dogs

Pups who are taken from their mom and littermates too soon face many potentially serious behavior issues. Equally important when we are looking to raise a good working livestock guardian dog, the older pup learns invaluable lessons from its mother on how to live and work with stock.

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.

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.

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.

Feeding Greens and Other Garden Materials to Dairy Goats

Many garden vegetable crops produce excess leafy material perfect for feeding goats. Using these materials as milking snacks helps reduce the need for purchased grain & hay while recycling these waste products on the homestead.

Cows Without Legs, Part 2: Forage Management

Here is the second half of my strangely-titled discourse on grass cattle management. I have come to the conclusion that on a correctly managed enterprise, cattle should appear not to have legs (hidden within tall grasses). In Part 1, I discussed the animal side of this philosophy. Now I’ll continue with the forage aspect of it.

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.

Homestead Composting

One of the wonderful aspects of permaculture is the mindset of integrating systems in ways that enhance each other. Composting is a great example of integrating systems in a synergistic manner. Learn how the "problem is the solution" in this post.

Why Farmers Need Each Other

Tim Rohrer describes why he thinks that farmers need each other. Tim describes his the time immediately following his apprenticeship at Polyface Farm, and how he experienced farmer camaraderie.

Dear MOTHER: October/November 2015

Reader letters about rotational grazing in city parks, DIY garden bench plans, solar ovens, safe chicken coops, Lyme disease, homesteading without money, and more.

The Benefits of Smart Forest Management

Thinning trees intelligently and practicing informed forest stewardship can aid fire suppression as well as provide acres of compost for your farm or garden.

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.

Before You Buy a Livestock Guardian Dog or Puppy

With the increasing use of livestock guardian dogs, we are seeing more inappropriate breeds or crossbred dogs being offered for sale as LGDs. Keeping these guidelines in mind will help you avoid the pitfalls or potential problems of LGD shopping, and will greatly increase your chances of success.

Build a Simple Goat Restraint for Slaughter, Maintenance or Milking

Goats need to be held still in various contexts, including slaughtering, hoof-trimming, and milking. Ideally, the method of restraint should be comfortable/humane, strong, portable, easy to use, and affordable. We’ve developed a homemade goat restraint that fits these categories and has worked for many years.

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.

How to Clean, Melt and Store Beeswax

Here, I share this very simple method for rendering beeswax that will take you from sticky mess to wonderfully fragrant disks of clean beeswax ready for your crafts and beauty products while costing very little of your time and precious energy. Your bees will actually benefit from it!

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.

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.

White Snakeroot: A Plant Toxic to Your Goats and Yourself

White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is a potentially toxic plant, particularly for dairy animals as the toxins can be passed through the milk. It caused many human deaths during the age of European settlement in eastern North America, due to dairy animals grazing in brushy areas and woodlands. Modern homesteaders using such landscapes for their goats or other ruminants should learn to identify and remove white snakeroot to ensure the safety of their milk supply.

Introducing a New Dog to an Existing Pack

Introducing a new dog to your existing dog or pack depending on how many you have is not always as easy as it seems. I am neither a professional dog behaviorist nor a trainer but I do observe our canine members and believe there is a proper way to bring in another fur family member so the chances of success are greatly improved.

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.

A Polyface Processing Day

Tim Rohrer, A Polyface apprentice, recounts what an average processing day at Polyface looks. Here, Tim Talks through some of his processing experiences and a basic overview of the procedure.

When Good Bees Go Bad

Most honeybee hives are calm and gentle. But every once in a while you may come across a hive that seems unusually aggressive. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain what steps they take to deal with an abnormally aggressive hive of bees.

Sewing and Quilting the Old Way with Rags

Ripping apart old clothing and other rags to remake into useful items takes more time than purchasing new fabric, but the rewards – reducing landfill overload, reviving an old-fashioned skill, conserving a treasured memento and saving money – are worth the extra trouble.

Scaling Up Our Pastured Poultry from Backyard to Commercial

Over the winter, we managed to secure a contract with an up-and-coming company in Massachusetts to raise pastured chickens for them. This company ended up pre-ordering a significant amount of chickens per month from us, which necessitated the building of six new coops. Here I outline how to scale up a poultry operation.

A Texas Rancher Shares Homestead Inspiration

Everyone has a dream, and although we are lucky enough to have had ours come true, our homestead lifestyle required time and work to make a reality. I invite you to follow us in our dream through this blog to learn DIY projects, gardening, water and energy conservation, a few clever “Homestead Hacks,” and how to use what you already have to fill a need.

Renting Poultry Processing Equipment

Consider renting your equipment this fall. Use Featherman Equipment’s nation-wide rental list to save a bundle and share the cost with your neighbors.

To Kill Or Not To Kill Small-Livestock Predators

We've all either encountered them or will encounter them in the future - it is inevitable. But the age old question still stands - do you kill the predator, or do you allow nature to take its course and try to perfect your security? Those questions are answered here, and more.

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.

Getting Started with Dairy Goats: One Homesteader’s Experience

Over 6-1/2 years, goats became an integral part of the author’s life. He experimented with shelter designs, pasturing methods, the elimination of grain and chemical de-wormers, fencing styles, and milk management. This hard-won knowledge of homestead dairy goat management is introduced in this post.

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!

Dear MOTHER: August/September 2015

Reader letters about making homemade bread, welcoming the next generation of homesteaders, battling a homeowners association about a front yard garden, voting with the dollar, publishing American Spirits tobacco ads, and more.

Rescue Old Pillows

Some experts recommend replacing pillows every two years. That would have cost me more than $1,000 over the past 10 years! Don't throw out old pillows in order to opt for expensive new ones. Instead, this post will teach you how to effectively hand-wash old pillows to remove stains and kill bacteria.

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.

Cheese Whiz: Making Microwave Mozzarella, Part 1

When you have as many goats go through kidding as I do, eventually you have to do something with all that milk. In the past I’ve done things like feed the milk to the chickens, but it always seemed wasteful. Many people I know who have goats and pigs often feed the pigs the extra milk. If you’re butchering pigs, it’s not as bad, because the milk does a great job in fattening up pigs. But there is another way to preserve that milk goodness, and that is to make cheese.

Staying Power

We all know that summer can be a hectic season on a farmstead. Here’s some simple advice on remaining mentally strong and physically fit during the busiest time of the year.

Kidding Blues

Every year I go through playing goat wet nurse because I seem to have one or two goats who have difficulties.

Cardboard Bedding For Your Chicken Coop

We often hear the debates - which chicken coop floor bedding is best? From deep litter straw to sand, everyone claims their method is the best, but I rarely hear people talk about cardboard bedding. Here is a great natural alternative to straw and sand in your coop.

The Walk-Away Split Pros and Cons

The least expensive method to grow your apiary is to split existing hives. The walk-away split is the easiest way to do this.

Small Growers Offer Organic, Rare Heirloom Plants

Planting seedlings from large garden centers often delays production as plants must overcome neonicotinoid insecticides, hormones, and chemical fertilizers when planted in your garden. Learn more about the toxins used by large growers and then support small producers for a healthy garden.

Maximizing Happiness with Hen-Raised Chicks

The author’s thoughts about raising chicks changed when he returned home from a vacation and couldn’t find one of his hens. He discovered her the next morning, sitting on a clutch of eggs under a porch. When her chicks hatched and he saw how much she cared for them, and how much her chicks adored her, he knew then that every chick deserves a good mother hen.

Growing Up in Farm Country

HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates reflects on how growing up in farm country impacts a student's choice for their future.

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.

5 Steps to Our New Orchard

Here's 5 of the basic steps to how we created our small organic home orchard/edible landscape. It's a permaculture designed area that has been created with a natural landscape as inspiration, with the least amount of human input. It will host not only heritage apples but several other fruits and berries, herbs and medicinal plants.

‘The Nourishing Homestead’ by Ben Hewitt

In The Nourishing Homestead, Ben Hewitt along with his wife Penny tell the story of how we can create truly satisfying, permanent, nourished relationships to the land, nature, and one another. With plenty of practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food, build soil, and develop traditional skills, this book is sure to inspire a new generation of homesteaders.

How to Lobby for Saner Food Policies

In response to readers’ requests, renegade farmer Joel Salatin provides pointers for how to engage politicians about Earth stewardship and a sustainable food system.

Dear MOTHER: June/July 2015

Reader letters about grass-fed vs. factory-farmed meat, going solar, underground root cellars, urban homesteading, finding recycled goods, learning how to cook, banishing tomato blight, food-frugal tips, and more.

Evaluating Rabbit Body Condition

Keeping animals in good condition is important for the health of your homestead. Here's how to get past the fluff and make sure your rabbits are in top shape.

Tiny Homes, Bigger Lives

Steve Maxwell explains why living the bootstrap lifestyle and living with less leaves you with more in the end.

'The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm’ by Josh Trought

Josh Trought is the founder of D Acres of New Hampshire, an ecologically designed educational center, sustainable farm, and community gathering place in central New Hampshire. In his new book, The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm, Trought presents a comprehensive model for creating an intentional community, producing nourishing food, and being true stewards of the land, including practical examples of alternative building, renewable energy, holistic forestry, no-till gardening, hospitality management, and much more.

‘Farming the Woods’ by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel

In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel teach readers how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non timber products. Forest farming is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

10 Items to Take to the Bee Yard

Developing a checklist can help when loading up for a trip to the bee yard. Here's how I'm trying to eliminate unnecessary trips back to the house for a forgotten tool.

Raising Romeo: A Love Story

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

Weaning Your Pasture Piglets

Spring is filled with babies of all kinds, but some of the most adorable are baby piglets. These are even more cute when they are running around on green pastures. But what about weaning time? This article will explain some of the easiest and best options when weaning your pasture piglets.

The Art and Meaning of Good Husbandry

Practicing good husbandry skills is extremely important to ensure healthy and happy animals on your homestead. But it doesn't just mean making sure everything is "clean and tidy." Here are a few more things that you might not realize help pull together the "art" of good husbandry.

Ways To Increase Our Self-Sufficiency

Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough.

Leaking Ponds, Pigs, and Sheep Feet

A leaky pond can be frustrating, and while good construction is the best way to avoid this problem, there are some solutions for fixing your pond when it does spring a leak.

How to Keep a Critical Valve from Freezing

I used this tried and true method of preventing a valve from freezing. There was no electricity as a back-up crutch for this mission critical valve and I kept it open through the coldest February on record.

Sugarmaking Tips and Tricks

This article wraps up the sugarmaking season with a few tips, tricks, and helpful advice gleaned from another year in the sugarbush.

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!

Raising Meat Rabbits on Pasture: Intensive Grazing with Bunnies

Rabbits are a fabulously healthful, economical and ecologically sound source of meat, and they don’t have to be kept in hanging cages. Rabbits can be raised on pasture to produce food for your family while improving the quality of your land.

Goatwatch 2015

So, while I’m making mead, tanning skins and staring out at the weird weather, two of my pregnant goat does are having a race to see who will deliver first.

Beehive Components: Wooden vs. Plastic

One decision you will need to make when purchasing beehives is whether to use plastic or wooden hives and frames. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss the pros and cons of plastic and wooden hive components for your bees.

Unplugging to Reconnect, A Journey Toward Full-Time Homesteading: Location, Design, Infrastructure

This entry departs from our treatise on purely financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle to explore issues that can be leveraged to reduce other "costs," such as time, labor and maintenance requirements. Up for discussion this installment are homestead location and layout, equipment, and free natural raw materials.

Firewood in the Winter

Cutting firewood in the winter opens time for other activities during the short summer and fall seasons.

Animal Handling

How big of a priority are good animal handling facilities?

Homesteading Chores in March

Any other year in March, the homesteading chores are back in full swing after the winter break. This year, winter lasted longer than ever and it wasn't until the end I could even conceive of getting any of the usual stuff done. Here's the list of what I normally do.

How to Naturally Treat Chicken Lice

It can happen to the best of us, and the worst of us. But rather than using chemical powders and unnecessary medicines, here are a few ways to get rid of chicken lice completely all natural.

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.

Things You Should Never Say to a Homesteader

Whether you are a novice or experienced homesteader, we've all heard those "crazy things" that people say when it comes to living a self-sufficient life. Here are 10 things you should never say to a homesteader.

What To Do at the End of Maple-Tapping Season

This article is part four in Julie’s sugar-making series and will show you how to remove taps, clean your equipment, and store everything away for next year. It also includes fun recipe ideas for using pure maple syrup including making “Jack Wax” candy and maple cream.

Backyard Sugaring for Homemade Maple Syrup

Sugar maple is not the only tree that produces abundant sap in late winter and early spring. Sycamore; black walnut; paper, black, and yellow birch trees; and all maples trees can be tapped for their sap. However, some are sweeter than others. Here are lessons for backyard maple tapping and things to consider before beginning to make your own maple syrup.

Haywire: Devices Break Down

Mechanical and electrical devices break down sometimes. Can you fix them or will you pay to have them replaced or fixed? My take on how to tackle the problem.

Spring in the Mountains

How we discovered a cut-glass prism that told us the exact first day of spring by producing rainbows.

Maple Syrup Memories

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

A Greenhouse, Chicken Coop Combo

These two structures for creating a sustainable homestead are not often associated, but with the right planning they can be integrated into a single multi-use structure that enhances both environments. A greenhouse/chicken coop becomes a year-round food-producing machine, giving you a bounty of fruits, vegetables and protein all in one.

How to Make Maple Syrup

This article is part three in Julie’s sugar-making series and will show you how to boil maple sap into syrup, how to filter it after boiling, and how to bottle it for storage.

How We Engaged the Community in Our Homestead

One of my best pieces of advice to those wishing to establish a homestead is to reach out to the community. Happy neighbors are a big part of a happy homestead and for us it was not only a way to drum up support and engagement for our project, but it was also transformative for our experience and for our business.

Planning a Baby Food Garden

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and pregnant Pennsylvania mama Michelle (Congrats, Michelle!) shares her plans for planting a baby food garden, including her entire seed order.

Maine Herbalist Taps Local Plants and Trees

Natalia Bragg of Wade, Maine, is a sixth-generation herbalist who is gaining well-deserved recognition for her work with the rich variety of plants and trees on her remote farm.

Setting Up a Sugar Shack and Collecting Maple Sap

This article is part two in Julie’s sugar-making series and will show you how to collect and store sap, and prepare your sugar shack or boiling room to get ready to make pure maple syrup.

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!

Farm Fit for Life

How farm life will keep you fit so you can live a healthier and happier life.

The Nankin Chicken Breed

Nankins are a rare breed of bantam chickens that are a worthwhile addition to the backyard flock.

Beautiful Creeping Cattails

Cattails are a common, native plant on the margins of ponds. Take time to manage them to keep them enjoyable.

Dear MOTHER: April/May 2015

Reader letters about earthbag building, water consumption, factory farms in the rural United States, a hand-built outdoor oven, pressure canning, state-level sustainable population, ethical eating, seed saving, and more.

Maya the Wise Chicken

Cam shares his thoughts about one of his elderly "ladies" who seems wise beyond her chicken years!

Gardening at High Elevation

Gardening at a high elevation presents challenges such as harsh sun and a shorter growing season.

Wintering Pigs on Pasture

Wintering pigs outside is both fun and rewarding, if you plan accordingly. The most important aspect for pigs wintering outside is that they have adequate shelter and protection from the weather and cold. Water and proper forage, even during cold months, are also important.

Why Did My Bees Die?

Sometimes a colony of honeybees dies. Colony-collapse disorder is all over the news, but what else might have happened?

Back to Basics for Improved Health

Many aspects of my homesteading life lie close to what we as humans have evolved for: the outdoors, physical activity, whole food and days and years that follows the rhythm of the seasons and the sun. But there are other, less obvious biological aspects for why I believe homesteading can improve health and well being.

Preparing for Spring Beekeeping

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will offer some tips on preparing for a successful start to the beekeeping season!

How Do We Finalize Our Home Construction Loan?

Bank loans, especially new home construction loans, require some legwork on the part of the future homeowner. One couple explains how they got a loan to build their new house.

Starting a Flock of Chickens: 5 Important Tips for Success

For first-time chicken owners (or even for experienced chicken enthusiasts), selecting, purchasing, and preparing for your home chicken flock can seem like a daunting task. After thirty years of raising chickens, here’s Forrest Pritchard’s personal guide to ensure your new flock remains safely tucked beneath your wing so you can start a flock of chickens without worry.

Two Brothers Grow, Hunt and Forage for All Their Own Food for a Year

For calendar year 2015 brothers Edmund and Garth Brown are eating only food that they have produced on their farm or bartered for from a neighbor. To do this successfully they must raise and butcher their own meat, hunt, forage, and cultivate a large vegetable garden.

What We Do Around the Homestead in February

February can be a hit or miss for us here at Deer Isle Hostel - snow and cold demands more creativity to stay busy, but also provides a great chance not to do much. Planting onions from seed, shoveling snow and planning for the Hostel season 2015 are some things I do to keep the cabin fever under control.

The Good and the Bad of Raising Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens have become the new thing for country folk and the urban folk - but as with anything, there's the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are a few things to consider before diving head first into your new chicken keeper adventure.

The Amazing Instincts of Livestock Guardian Dogs

Livestock guardian dogs are renowned for their protective instincts. They have been bred for thousands of years to be aware, work independently and to protect their charges at all costs. But do they also break up fights between quarreling livestock?

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.

From Nomadic Marine Corps Family to Rooted Modern Homesteaders

This is the story of my family’s transition from a nomadic military lifestyle to one of rural homesteading. I talk about our preparation leading up to leaving the service and some of our current goals and projects for the property and our lives. I also talk about using permaculture as the design science methodology for our businesses and the development of the property.

Tips for Staying Healthy Through the Winter

Even with the daylight hours lately, we still have quite a bit of winter left. Good health – both physically and mentally – might require a little bit more effort than in the summer but can still be achieved and maintained though this homestretch before spring.

Unplugging to Reconnect: A Journey Toward Full-Time Homesteading - Finances, Part 3

This entry continues our lightning-speed survey of key financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle based on the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally experienced in my family's ongoing transition. Up for discussion in this installment is the power of barter.

How to Keep Livestock Water from Freezing

Our Facebook fans gave us feedback on how to keep livestock water from freezing when the weather gets cold. Read their innovative tips to keep your own water warm.

Who Will Draw Our House Plans?

After finding some basic online building plans, the next step to getting a future home built is to find a designer to draw the house plans.

The Basics of Making Your Own Dog Food

Why are we feeding our dogs the same exact dog food every single day? Why are we feeding our dogs overly processed food when we try to eradicate processed foods from our own diet? Here are a few basic steps to switching your homestead dog over to a more natural diet.

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.

Overwintering Pigs in the Northeast

Kristen and Dan overwinter their first herd of pigs in Newport, N.H. Learn how we care for them, including fencing, feeding and shelters.

Using Honey to Make Mead

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain the basics of a fun winter project - how to make homemade mead!

The Chestnut Harvest

September brought a huge chestnut harvest that I delight in gathering and eating.

Mountain Wildfire Mitigation

We use the winter to mitigate our wildfire exposure as opposed to the summer when we are involved with other needed tasks.

Homesteading Community

What if I find land where I can homestead but it's at a location where no one does the same thing? The lack of a homesteading community can be a discouraging factor when looking for land, but over time, if one is patient, it is very likely you'll find others that are drawn to the basic, sustaining, diverse and positive actions of homesteading.

Deciding Which Seeds to Order

Homegrown.org blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm shares tips for deciding which seeds to order — in other words, which vegetable varieties to grow.

Homesteading Simplicity

That something is easy doesn't always mean it's simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.

How Many Eggs Can a Chicken Lay?

Just how many eggs can a chicken lay? The answer depends on several factors. Learn which choices you make can affect your hens’ egg production.

Preparing For Spring with Children On The Homestead

While many of us are homesteaders, some of us have another special job that comes first: parenting. Here are some ways to get through Spring prep and Summer projects on your homestead by involving even your smallest children in daily chores and activities.

The Problem with Pedestals

West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates explains why he has a problem with putting farmers, among others, on pedestals.

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.

How Do We Choose a Passive Solar House Design?

One homesteading couple reads up on passive solar house design and then modifies online options to create their own custom passive solar plans. Here are their recommended resources.

2015: The Year of the Goat

In the year of the goat we must compare the personalities and characteristics of goat people with goats.

What We Do Around the Homestead in January

The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.

A Great Herdswoman's Legacy Lives On

Homegrown.org blogger Dyan Redick of Bittersweet Farm honors - and helps keep alive - the legacy of fellow Maine goat herdswoman Pixie Day.

Dear MOTHER: February/March 2015

Reader letters about livestock guardians, homemade deodorant, bidets for TP-free living, emergency generators, leeks, meat coverage in MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the wonder-working slow cooker, and more.

Unplugging to Reconnect: A Journey Toward Full-Time Homesteading - Finances, Part 2

Welcome back to "Unplugging to Reconnect." In this post, we continue to explore key financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle, all based on the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally executed in my family's ongoing transition. The specific focus of this entry is on the need for flexible income streams, particularly ones that offer money-saving benefits in addition to pay, while in between the old and new lifestyles.

So, You Want to Be a Beekeeper?

Don't wait if you plan to start beekeeping this year. If you want to be a beekeeper, now is the time and this blog post will provide you with information to prepare for the coming season.

How to Not Get Stung

Being stung is the most often quoted reason for not keeping honeybees. This was also my fear before I started keeping bees. There are ways to reduce your chances of being stung. With just a few precautions, you don't have to let this keep you from a rewarding hobby.

The Myth of Breeding Like Rabbits

Since we began raising rabbits on our homestead, the phrase "breeding like rabbits" has taken on a whole new meaning to us. The sad fact is that domesticated rabbits don't "breed like rabbits." Here are a few tips that will help you make breeding more efficient and less stressful.

How Do We Get a Septic System Installed?

In order to secure a building permit to construct their future home, we must first complete a soil evaluation and meet the county's requirements for septic system installations.

My Beekeeping New Year's Resolutions

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will share her beekeeping goals for the New Year, along with some tips on how to make them happen.

Fire Takes a Homestead

After fire took her friends’ award-winning historic, renovated home only a year after its completion, Ilene White Freedman asks “Who will rebuild their spirits?” A follow-up to her post about the home's renovation.

The Dog Ate My Chickens

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

How Do We Design a House? First, Set Priorities

Whether you are buying a house, purchasing land, or getting ready to build your own home, we recommend starting by setting your priorities and then matching a house design to your needs.

Home from Polyface Farm

Kristen describes returning from her summer internship at Polyface Farm and explains what she's been up to since.

The Beginning Of Our Homestead Rabbit Journey

Whether you have 1/4 acre or 100 acres, raising rabbits is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to have a constant supply of meat on your homestead. Here are some of the things we learned at the beginning of our journey.

Could We Build a Kit Home?

If you want to be hands-on with your house building, a kit home can be an affordable, energy-efficient option. One homesteading couple assess whether building a kit home is right for them.

A Beekeeper's Short Story

A beekeeper, acting as the Guardian, discovers a hive that appears to have been frozen in early spring and then sees it come back to life before his very eyes. This beekeeping short story may surprise you, too.

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.

Changing the World One Decision at a Time

Up against China, the tar sand extraction, dysfunctional global summits and the endless cry for economic growth, any individual's actions to halt global warming might seem insignificant. But conscious decisions that bring us closer to nature can make a difference and might be the best we can do.

Hank Will on TheTypeset

In this episode, the first of our series with TheTypeset, we look at the basics of raising backyard chickens, with the Editor of GRIT magazine, a 30-year veteran in the chicken business.

Hatching Eggs in the Wintertime

Hatching eggs in the wintertime presents many challenges. Here are a few things you should take into consideration before hatching during the most bitter months of the year.

Woodstove Safety

Putting a safety fence around a woodstove keeps small children and pets safer.

Want to Go Camping? Let's Build a Campsite!

Tyler and I spent an afternoon creating a footpath and campsite in our woods. Now we can go camping with friends and enjoy meals (and s’mores) over the campfire whenever we have the time or desire.

Processing a Deer

I never butchered a deer before, having always spent the money to have someone else do it. But I discovered it is surprisingly easy and worth the extra effort.

December Bees

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

A Great-Grandmother's Onion-Celery Dressing Recipe

Some of the best recipes are never written down. Thankfully, Rachel's mom recently transcribed her own grandmother's onion-celery dressing recipe. Lucky for us, Rachel shares it here. Pass it along!

Winter Is Coming

The cold weather is hitting Virginia early this year and it's time to winterize!

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.

Preparing a Rooster's Comb for Winter

Contrary to popular belief, most breeds are very well equipped to deal with the cold. But good husbandry skills will ensure very little frostbite irritation for your rooster and other large-combed chicken breeds. This blog post is about protecting your chickens' comb, but frostbite can also afflict the feet, mainly on snowy days.

How Do We Get an Entrance Permit for Our Driveway?

In order to access our land and put in a driveway, we need to secure an entrance permit. If you're planning to buy land and build a home, check what your entrance permit requirements are before you purchase the property.

2015 Homesteaders of the Year Nominations Call-Out

It's time for our fourth-annual call for nominations for outstanding modern homesteaders! Organic gardeners, do-it-yourselfers and general self-sufficient gurus are being sought for the opportunity to be named as one of our 2015 Homesteaders of the Year.

The Cost of Solar Panels for Your Home

Whether you choose renewable energy for ecological or financial reasons, this article will help you see how solar panels and a solar hot water heating system can be financed and get you closer to being a sustainable household.

How To Form a Successful Cooperative

A small food producers' cooperative in Missouri wins a national award and will share with others how to form a successful co-op that focuses on bartering, sustainability and the economy of neighborliness.

We Bought Land! Now What?

Join two modern homesteaders as they begin down the road toward building their small home and self-reliant farmstead on their new piece of raw land in northeastern Kansas.

How to Make a Living Without a Job

Leaving a job with benefits and security to live a simple, country life, also known as un-jobbing, can be scary, but as we learned, so very worth it.

An Early Thanksgiving

When her parents fall ill, Michelle takes a step back to care for them, to take stock of all she has learned from them, and to observe an early Thanksgiving.

Brownie the Milking Angus

I can hear it now: “What the devil? Angus? They are not milk cows!” Well, it all got started when the neighbor purchased four, what he was led to believe were, Black Angus calves from someone in a valley some distance from us. But the udders on these two cows were huge! They clearly had more milk than the calves could handle.

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.

Gifts from the Hive

Jennifer Ford, of Bees of the Woods Apiary, will share how she uses honey and beeswax from her beehives to make useful and creative gifts.

Why I Really Love My Rural Life

Almost 30 years ago I made one of the best decisions ever when I began my homesteading adventure. It's no "Little House on the Prarie" but you can see it from there.

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.

Dear MOTHER: December 2014/January 2015

Reader letters about pressure cooking, food choices, swapping cloths for toilet paper, diversity in MOTHER EARTH NEWS, sweet spring gardening anticipation, and more.

Maine Leads the Way with Unique Farms

Mary Quinn Doyle shares a background about how she became involved in a volunteer project traveling around Maine for over two years visiting over 180 unique farms to take photos and write stories about them for an educational book and website.

6 Incredible Facts About Kinetic Log Splitters

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

First Frost

A mysterious "ailment" brings our first frost to the goat pen.

How to Build a Smokehouse for Smoked Cheese and Meat

A homemade smokehouse can be built to give you a new way to preserve and flavor your meat and cheese. By building the firebox at a distance from the smokehouse, you will have a cold smoker that can preserve meat and flavor cheese.

Beekeeping: Try Before You Buy

Beekeeping has its benefits: raw honey, beeswax and pollination. With a quick check, you can find out if your community offers a rent-a-bee program. For a fee, you'll get a queen bee, hive colony and a mentor to get you started.

Beekeeping with a Honeybee Allergy

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary talks about her experience with developing an allergy to honeybee venom, and how she manages this allergy to be able to continue beekeeping.