The Importance of Socializing Livestock

Spending the time to frequently handle your poultry and livestock can be important to you! Find out why in this article about socializing your farm animals.

Why 'Self-Sufficiency' is Not a Sufficient Description for Homesteading

Despite how much we do on our own land, we are far from self-sufficient. We are part of a local and global community that cares about where their food comes from and cares about taking care of the earth. Buying our homestead has actually increased our commitment to this community - to sharing what we do with others and to learning from what others share.

Maximize Ranch Profits with Tips for Using Livestock Scales

Learn the significance of modern weighing scales in gauging livestock performance and making better decisions. It elaborates on five practical tips that livestock ranchers and farmers can use to maximize profits from farm animals. As modern weighing equipment has become a necessity for livestock business success, these five tips will ensure that farmers invest in the right equipment and derive maximum benefits from them.

Mother Earth News Yanmar Field Day at Sanaview Farms

As a Mother Earth News blogger community member, I was invited to tag along on Yanmar’s Field Day with 60 other participants. Arriving at Seven Springs, Pennsylvania a day early, we rode to Sanaview Farms (Champion, PA) via bus just 20 minutes away. All I knew was there would be tractor and greenhouse workshops, so the entire endeavor was quite a mystery. Sometimes not knowing is the best thing to happen.

Senior Homesteading Injuries

Because I am a senior homesteader, I write from experience and new experiences seem to surface from time to time to disrupt my normal homesteading routine. Sometimes, the mind is willing but the old body won’t respond as we wish, and this occurred to me recently, which is why I have not been posting for a few weeks. By telling of my experiences, perhaps it will benefit someone else.

Using Poultry in the Garden

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

A Security Upgrade for the 'Egg Cart’n' Chicken Tractor

Several years ago we purchased an “Egg Cart’n” brand chicken tractor and have been very pleased with it, save for one significant security flaw we only discovered after a predator slaughtered the coop’s residents. The fix was simple, once we figured out the flaw, helping us feel comfortable using a product we’re otherwise very happy with.

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.

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. 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 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 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 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.

Guidelines for Establishing an Orchard

The new apple orchard we're planning for our homestead won't be the classical lawn-layout most people are accustomed to. Our edible landscape will mimic a natural landscape with the goal to reduce interference such as spraying while providing organic fruit, berries and herbs for many months of many years.

Breed Profile: San Clemente Island Goats (Video)

San Clemente Island goats are graceful, slim goats often raised as dairy goats. They were introduced to San Clemente Island in 1875; culled in the 1970s, only a few hundred remain in the breeding population.

Breed Profile: Navajo Churro Sheep (Video)

The Navajo Churro sheep is a heritage breed descended from sheep originally brought to America by the Spanish. Once on the brink of extinction, the population is now rebounding with the aid of concerned breeders.

Breed Profile: Lincoln Longwool Sheep (Video)

Interested in shepherding? Lincoln Longwools are both good meat sheep and producers of high-quality wool, and are a heritage breed dating to the height of the Roman Empire in Britain.

Removing Bees From Honey Supers

It's time to harvest honey and there must be a way to evict the bees from the super. This post covers three possible options.

Building a Goat Shelter and Bedding

A basic overview of why shelter and bedding are must haves for your goat operation. Also, some of our personal experience with a few options.

Facing the Homesteading Rewards

As homesteaders, all the homesteading rewards are directly ours to keep and our work provides most of our necessities but the multiple returns we get from our homestead also give us what money couldn't buy, such as the self reliance, sense of security, dignity, the beautiful place where we spend our days and the choice to set our own schedule.

Tanning a Buffalo Hide

We called in friends to help us with brain-tanning a buffalo hide that was donated to us.

Polyface Farm Summer Internship: Week Fourteen

This week at my Polyface Farm Summer Internship, I spent working with turkeys, touring our local USDA inspected abattoir, prepping for the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s annual fundraiser and processing stewing hens.

Solar Energy Solutions

Solar energy solutions can reshape the future. It can help sculpt the world we live in and can help solve some of the greatest environmental problems facing the world today including climate change and our reliance on fossil fuels.

Folk Medicine Book Advocates Honey and Vinegar

"Folk Medicine" by D.C. Jarvis, M.D., written in 1958, explains how humans would do well to watch animals that know instinctively how to stay healthy. Jarvis advises drinking raw honey and apple cider vinegar for good health and vigor.

The Chickens Have a Sleepover

Homesteader Cam Mather describes integrating new backyard chickens into his existing flock and the wonderful life his "ladies" lead.

Going, Going, Gone...Off-Grid

How to go from buying everything at Wally World to growing organic vegetables, raising livestock, building an efficient home, and a Do-It-Yourself, self-sufficient lifestyle.

Polyface Farm Summer Internship: Week Twelve

This week of my Polyface Farm summer internship included a forestry lesson from Joel Salatin, installing my first fence, and the introduction of Polyface’s new guardian dog puppy, Cody!

Dear MOTHER: October/November 2014

Reader letters about passive solar homes, making biogas, gardening in drought, neighborhood-scale self-sufficiency, “enhanced” supermarket meat, residential wind power, and more.

Is It Free-Range or Pasture-Raised?

Like many things related to food, the free-range label misleads customers, so we explore the differences between free-range and pasture-raised.

Rude Goats

There are some goats you don't want, no matter if the price is right. In this case, the goat was free.

Is This Breed a Livestock Guard Dog?

Can I use a Great Dane as a LGD? Or a St. Bernard? How about a heeler and Golden crossbred? Being a LGD is not a job you can train any other breed to perform. LGDs are a specialized group of breeds.

Great Ways to Increase Your Harvest

The actual footprint of a garden is only one of many factors for how much food that can be produced there. With succession planting, good soil and some planning the same garden area can produce substantially more food.

Polyface Farm Summer Internship: Week Nine

This week was a lot of fence line and firewood work, a water systems discussion with Joel Salatin, fun with turkeys and my birthday on the farm (with a surprise guest).

The Beginning of a Root Cellar

A root cellar slowly is dug by hand, with the goal of increasing our homestead's food preservation and storage capacity through the winter.

Why I Raise Cattle

HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates considers the burden of beef and explains why his Missouri family farm chooses to raise cattle.

Legal Front Yard Gardens Go Beyond Containers

St. Paul, Minnesota, not only allows front yard gardens and promotes growing vegetables in containers, but encourages residents to beautify the boulevard with plants, including edibles.

Fire Moons and Evacuation Preparation

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

Time to Thank the Bees

In all that can go wrong in beekeeping, it's time to be grateful for a good season.

Time Management Tools for the Homestead

Time management tools can help a homestead run smoothly as well as make the work more enjoyable. By focusing on different tasks in different seasons, assigning different tasks to different days and by sharing tasks, the work becomes both manageable and fun.

How to Use a Bucket Milker

Bucket milkers offer small and micro-dairy farmers affordable and reliable system for milking cows. Here are my basics for how to use a bucket milker on a micro dairy.

At the Hive Entrance

Did you know that you can learn a lot about the condition of your beehives simply by watching the entrance of the hive? Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain what to look for, and what it might mean. No smoke or hive tool necessary!

A Granola Recipe to Feed the Masses

Going camping, hiking, or canoeing this summer? HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares a big-batch granola recipe that will feed your entire group—or one hungry teen.

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

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

Health Benefits of Honey

Raw honey isn’t just delicious — read on to learn some of the medicinal uses for it.

A Brief History of Milking Cows by Hand

Cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo, camels and, even, horses have been successfully milked by hand for thousands of years. Though it's an age-old practice, milking a cow by hand is not as easy as it may first appear. It’s best to know what you are getting into before you take on this important farming task.

Farmers Swim, Too

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and West Missourian Bryce Oates explains how he and his family survive summer on the farm. Two words: swimming pool.

A Changed Life

How a single purchase of a magazine in newsprint in 1970 changed my life.

Dear MOTHER: August/September 2014

Reader letters about the consequences of modern agriculture, timesaving garden equipment, debt-free living, avoiding pesticide-laden nursery plants, the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Asheville, N.C., and more.

For The Love of Pole Barns, Part 2: Siting a New Barn

You decide you want a pole barn, what is next? Site preparation can yield some surprising findings. Flexibility when planning a pole barn is key to success and making adjustments to your plans early will be most beneficial; saving time, money and perhaps even improving on your original ideas!

Do Not Feed the Bees or the Nucs

In this blog, I hope to convince beekeepers that not feeding the bees is better for the health of the bees and for the beekeeper's bottom line.

My Goats Have Green Thumbs blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm says keeping animals in the garden improves her soil and fights weeds and pests.

Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower

Here at Deer Isle Hostel, Maine, we use a compost pile built with local, natural materials and a 100-foot water pipe to create a steaming hot shower.

Homesteading on the Cheap, Part 1: Finding Land

Many of us are seeking to discover a lifestyle in which not all of our needs are provided through the medium of monetary exchange. Don’t let misconceptions about what is necessary to a family-size farmstead discourage you in the search for that small rural acreage, reasonably priced, where you can begin to realize your dreams.

Urban Beekeeping

Keeping bees with neighbors in the city or the burbs.

How to Market Farm-Fresh Milk Direct to Consumers

The flavor and shelf life of the milk you sell directly to consumers are directly impacted by how the milk is produced and handled on your farm. Here are my best practices for handling and producing the highest-quality, most delicious milk on the farm.

Chicken Stimulus Package at the 2014 Richmond Home and Garden Show

Richmond, Virginia, legalized chickens in 2013. Since then, cities and towns have joined in legalizing family flock. The organizers of the Richmond Home and Garden Show (one of the largest on the East Coast) wanted to feature chickens and offered us free booth space.

Can Bee Propolis Be Sustainable?

Propolis is becoming a very popular “bee product” in the natural health arena. The fact that it is produced in nature does not make a product sustainable. We must always be aware of the toll that the harvest of that product makes on the organism that creates it.

Myths, Misconceptions and Misinformation About Livestock Guard Dogs

Experienced LGD owners can easily come up with a list of myths, misconceptions, and misinformation about their dogs. A quick glance at various LGD forums, email lists, or Facebook pages will reveal that these misconceptions are not only widespread but they are also responsible for the majority of problems new LGD owners find themselves in.

A Difficult Goat Kidding

If you have dairy goats and plan on getting milk, inevitably you have to deal with difficult kiddings. Most of the time, you walk in the barn and there’s mom and her kids staring at you, all dripping from birth slime. To be honest, that’s how I like it. All I have to do is dry the kids, tie off the umbilical cord, and dip it in iodine. Not yesterday.

Uncovering My New Homestead's Old Secrets

When HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania mama Michelle Wire discovered a hidden treasure on her property, she found a new appreciation for her home along with it.

Honey Harvest

Here I describe the honey harvest and how it varies from year to year.

For the Love of Pole Barns

The old goat barn must go! Follow the progress as we choose how to best replace an aging (and dangerous) structure for livestock housing. Pole barns are an economical alternative to traditional framed barns, are long lasting and multipurpose. You can even live in one!

Three Options to Feed New Honeybee Colonies

Choices are available when it comes to feeding a new package of honeybees. Three of the options are discussed in this post. Choose the one that is right for you.

Honeybee Swarms

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss honeybee swarms, and how to try to prevent your bees from swarming.

Goat Fencing 101

Do you know where your Goat is NOW? A quick overview over fencing materials, fencing type, fencing do's and don'ts.

Selecting a Guard Donkey

In previous posts, we have looked at how guard donkeys work and we’ve examined the pros and cons of using a donkey as a livestock guardian. If you are contemplating using a donkey, let’s look now at how to select a good candidate and how to integrate him or her into your stock.

Goat Midwifery

Ilene White Freedman’s goat is in labor, reminding Ilene of her own natural childbirth experiences.

Grazing Your Cows on Wooded Pasture

Silvopasture is a newfangled word for wooded pasture. Basically, all it means is that you are using wooded land with trees and forage for pasture. The trees can be managed for firewood production and/or saw logs and provide welcome shade and shelter for your livestock and forage.

Ditch the Itch: Get Rid of Poison Ivy Plants

Get rid of poison ivy plants in your yard by following these instructions. Just don’t forget to protect your skin to avoid the effects of this rash-causing rascal.

Manure Can Make a World of Difference

Smallholder farmers around the world have practiced traditional, subsistence farming for as long as farming has been around. Using manure as a natural fertilizer can make the difference between barely scraping by and growing enough to earn an income.

Composting Toilets: From Waste Stream to Resource River

Making our own compost is not only a way to meet our need of fertilizer, it's also a way to redirect the garden scraps, chicken manure, leaves and grass cuttings from the waste stream to the resource river. Another area where this applies around our homestead, is our use of a composting toilet. For us, the difference between what goes down a flushing toilet and what accumulates in the buckets in the outhouse is the difference between waste and resource.

Building a Cheap Greenhouse

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares how she built a cheap greenhouse out of mostly scavenged materials - and how you can, too.

Sustainable Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate peanut butter cups make a lovely Mother's Day present. They're all the better when you can make them organically, inexpensively, and sustainably.

Make a One-Hand Gate Latch

You’ll never fumble while opening a gate again if you implement this reader’s tip for a one-handed gate latch.

Dear MOTHER: June/July 2014

Reader letters about threshing wheat, saving money on groceries, clay soil, hunting and self-sufficiency, walk-behind haymaking equipment, childfree living, and more.

We Get What We Pay For

We consumers can collectively change the food system by choosing to buy nutritious, wholesome, high-quality, organic foods.

Help to Preserve Rare Heritage Breeds

We can all help to save rare breed genetics for future homesteaders by raising and using these animals ourselves. Furthermore, we can help preserve the animals by sharing their valuable genetics with others.

Managing Pond Weeds: Your Pond Toolbox

There are weeds in the pond, what to do and what to use. A description of what to do with pond weeds and how to manage them with the various pond weed tools available on the market and a description on how they work. In this article we do not discuss chemical treatments and stick to natural methods.

5 Tools For Clearing Overgrown Land

Clearing overgrown land can be a daunting task. Choose the right tool for the job and it can be a breeze! Here are 5 of my favorites that make clearing overgrown land satisfying and fun!

Treating Varroa Mites

For the hobby beekeeper, try treating Varroa mites with natural remedies.

April Showers

Finally some sun, too bad it is during the work week!

Piglets and Chicks, Oh My!

The arrival of our first chickens and pigs to the farm, and prepping to head off to my summer internship at Polyface Farm

Sustainable Happiness, Sustainable Homestead

A homestead is about so much more than just mindful ways of producing one's needs; the health of the land and landscape is nothing if the health of the homesteader isn't there. The most sustainable homestead is one where the homesteaders like what they're doing and therefore will keep doing it. The self-fulfilling prophecy that we're all too busy is a highly unsustainable way to attempt sustainability, whether it's for a homestead or a summer business.

Principles of Forage Recovery Chart

A sustainable, profitable grazing system starts with one thing: full pasture recovery. Destroying your land can also start at the same point, if you don't allow enough rest. This chart summarizes the principles of mob grazing for those who don't have the time or desire to read dozens of articles. Hang it up in the barn!

County Fair Season Is Here

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Missouri farmer Bryce Oates traces the history of county fairs from their origins in the country life movement to his own kids' involvement.

Pressure Washers

Is a pressure washer something that would be beneficial on your homestead?

Selecting a Guard Llama

Selecting a good potential guardian llama, bringing him home, and introducing him to your stock.

First Beehive Inspection of Spring

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain how they perform the first beehive inspections of the year. This will be the first step in what will hopefully be a successful year in the beeyard!

Leave It Better Than You Found It

In many communal kitchens, may it be a hostel or a student dorm, postings are usually to be found; “Leave it nicer than when you came”, they read. That can be said to humans on earth too, to leave it better than it was. By living and working in nature, with nature, I believe that our surroundings here at the homestead are ecologically healthier, more diverse and vibrant than should we as humans not have been here.

Me vs. The Bees

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

How To Milk a Cow that Kicks

Cows are big, powerful animals, and milking puts you right beside the strong hind legs and feet. If you find yourself with what I call a kicky cow, there are steps you can take to manage the animal.

Pollen and Honeybees

Bees do not live on honey alone. Pollen provides honeybees with necessary protein.

Raising Your First Chicks

Getting your very first chicks is an exciting experience and a very big step for most first-time homesteaders. Here is some advice for enjoying your new additions and avoiding any potential problems.

Finally Signs of Spring on the Farm

HOMEGROWN blogger Dyan finally spots signs of spring on her Maine dairy farm, from sunrises to newborn goat kids to eggs of every shade. Lovely!

Predicting Goat Kidding; or, Why My Goats Think I'm Nuts

Since Lulu and Belle had their kids, I'm now waiting on three more does to have their babies. Only, they aren't. So here is how the experts claim you can discover if your goat is going to kid. Only, it's really wishful thinking...

Five Seasons in the Rockies

Other than the four regular seasons there is a fifth season in the mountains called mud season.

Compost: The End and the New Beginning

Growing an organic garden with compost I made using natural material from our surroundings is to comply with nature's way of taking care of itself – it's to remain humble for a true and tried life cycle and acknowledge our inevitable part in and connection to life on earth.

How To Milk a Cow

Cows love routine. The more things stay the same for cows, the safer and more secure they feel. Here is my abbreviated list of best practices for milking a cow, learned over many decades in the barn.

All Chicks Grow Up

Chicks and kids growing right before our eyes this spring.

Ground Operations

America needs one million new farmers. Veterans want the job.

Overcoming Problems When Milking a Cow

Your homestead is complete when you get your own cow for milking. But problems such as a cow who holds her milk or who kicks can make milking difficult and even dangerous. Here are some helpful hints so that you can enjoy your cow and enjoy milking her.

Moving Tips for Homesteaders-to-Be

Pennsylvania mama Michelle has finally found a homestead! Get her moving tips on take-back programs, packing mason jars, buying cheap appliances, and more.

Mountain Reflections

Taking time to reflect on the past brings renewed appreciation to the present.

Starplate Chicken Coop

This pentagonal structure was costly and tricky to build, but the finished structure is both beautiful and functional.

Sudden Chicken Death: What Are the Causes?

When a chicken dies suddenly for no obvious reason, it's unsettling. But it's not uncommon. Here are some possible causes for that sudden death in your otherwise healthy flock.

Selecting a Working Livestock Guard Dog Puppy

You’ve done your homework – examining your needs, situation, and breed preferences – and now you are ready to select your LGD. This is an expensive, long- term commitment of time and energy. This LGD will be protecting your farm and stock. Please take your time to choose your pup carefully.

The Joy of Physical Labor

A meditation on the benefits and fulfillment found in the physical labor of homesteading chores.

Using Essential Oils for Honeybees

Essential oils can be a useful supplement for honeybees. Lemongrass, spearmint and thyme essential oils are being used to encourage brood development and the overall health of bees.

Spring Fever

Beekeeping supply arrived, it's light out and I have a fever!

Darning Socks

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

Fly Control

Fly season is upon us. Here are some helpful and easy hints to control those buzzing beasts at your homestead this year.

Feeding Cows on a Micro Dairy

Managing the feed regimen for cows in a micro dairy environment is a matter of setting clear goals and understanding what your cows need.

Log Splitters: Electric vs. Gas-Powered

If you’re considering buying a new log splitter, you may have begun to debate whether you want an electric log splitter or a gas-powered model. What’s the difference? DR Power Equipment has some useful insight for you.

How to Get Started With Chicks

Raising chicks is easy as long as you pay attention to their needs for food, water, and housing. It also helps to learn their language.

Starting Seeds with Children

Starting seeds with children indoors is a project that extends into outdoor planting of the seedlings in spring and harvesting produce in the summer. It allows you to share success and satisfaction with children and makes it more likely they'll eat their vegetables!

Preparing for Goat-Kidding Season

One of the most exciting facets of raising goats is when kids are born on your farm. Knowing how to prepare for the grand event makes for a smoother and more successful kidding process.

Kidding-Season Tragedy

Preparing for kidding time is always crazy, and sometimes things never go the way you planned.

Sawing Sycamore With a Norwood Portable Sawmill

Sawing oversized sycamore logs with my Norwood portable sawmill was a huge job, but yielded a lot of great lumber, and salvaged the logs instead of dozing them into a pile and burning them.

Two Effective Tools for Pond Management and a Healthy Pond

Keeping your pond healthy and its inhabitant healthy can be a challenge, but knowing the basic steps to a healthy ecosystem can keep the pond alive for years, even reverse the aging process. Let’s look at two highly recommended tools for pond maintenance, aeration and beneficial pond bacteria.

Dear MOTHER: April/May 2014

Reader letters about gardening in the suburbs, raising heritage breed chickens, childfree living, fracking, wheat and health, and more.

A Winter Bath

Taking a bath in the winter takes a little more planning at our off-grid, no-plumbing home.

Six and a Half Money-Saving Tips

Inspired by the recent Mother Earth News article, "65 Money Saving Tips", this piece shares how we at the Be the Change Product spend little and live better.

Piglets: The Maiden Voyage

How we found our first piglets and the lesson I learned about the importance of hands on training

Late Winter Honeybee Hive Manipulations

This is an explanation of how I use a late winter warmup to manipulate my hives in preparation for spring nectar gathering and to minimize swarming.

Spring Homestead Projects

Homestead spring projects include honey bees, Dorking chickens, Ancona ducks, Narragansett turkeys, Dutch Belted calf, Red-Wattle hogs, the incubator, pruning fruit trees,starting seeds, and heirloom plants so we can eat healthful and delicious food all year.

How to Build a Chicken Tractor

To create a chicken tractor that will keep both you and your hens happy, you'll want to focus on weight, shelter, doors, handles, and more.

More Questions To Ask Yourself Before Selecting a Livestock Guard Dog

In our last few posts, we’ve been looking at the various breeds of livestock guard dogs. But before you start looking at advertisements or litters of puppies, there are a few more questions for you to ask yourself. They are centered on two broad issues – your predator problems and your farm or homestead.

Snowshoeing Home

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

Cows Jumping for Joy (Video)

It’s spring euphoria, bovine-style! Just released onto grass from winter confinement, these bouncing belles proclaim their preference for pasture.

World War II Magazine Emphasizes Frugality

A copy of "Good Housekeeping" magazine from 1944 reminds us how housewives found ways to stretch meals, repair household items and plant gardens to overcome wartime rationing hardships.

Large Pond Management Tips

From our last post learning about the difference between large and small ponds let’s jump into the large (below ground) ponds to discover what happens to them and what makes each pond unique. We’ll see that the watershed has a great effect on the pond water quality and the pond inhabitants have an effect on each pond even the wildlife that visits our ponds pose some challenges.

Candlemas: A Midwinter Homesteader's Holiday

Candlemas is an ancient midwinter holiday, when people would take inventory on their stock of candles, pantry food storage and hay in the barn to get the homestead through the second half of winter.

Safely Cut Pond Ice

Maintaining access to a water source is one of the most important winter-time chores.

Ten Tips for Getting Started With Chickens

Are you new to backyard chickens? Raising chickens is easy once you get the hang of it, but a little knowledge will help you skip these beginner mistakes.

Every Cow Poops: The Value of Cow Manure on the Farm

Cow manure is a key indicator of bovine health and well being. After milk, it is the most valuable thing your cows will produce. Micro-dairy expert Steve Judge explains why it pays to get comfortable with cow manure.

Testing Well Water Simpler Than Expected

Because county health departments and public water systems check only for a few contaminants, homeowners are advised to test their own water, an inexpensive and simple solution for peace of mind.

Dear MOTHER: February/March 2014

Reader letters about homemade sourdough bread, ag-gag laws, DIY poultry-processing, population growth, working dogs, low-tech home insulation, organic grasshopper control, and more.

The Nature of Growing Up

4 or 40, growing up isnt always straight up. Branches, bumpy outcroppings and the occasional low hanging fruit serve as speed bumps on the road of life.

Build a Log Deck for Splitting Firewood

Use materials at hand—stumps, logs, railroad ties, and sawmill slabs—to build a firewood log deck that takes the effort out of lifting the logs, and holds them at a convenient height for splitting.

The Importance of Beekeeping

Colony Collapse Disorder is threatening the future of bee pollination. Here's what we can do about it.

A Farmer Mulls Vegetarianism blogger and West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates shares his thoughtful position on vegetarianism.

Hand-Milling Sorghum

A great opportunity to use a new hand-driven sorghum mill and cook down a small batch of sorghum for the crowd at the Lawrence Kansas MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in October!

How to Swap Fruit Tree Scionwood

You can get twigs to graft onto your rootstock for the price of shipping a padded envelope, allowing you to grow rare fruit-tree varieties for nearly nothing.

Baby Goats

The joys and heartaches that can come with kidding season are a part of life on a goat farm.

Aboveground vs. Belowground Ponds Overview

Learn the parts of a pond’s watershed and the differences between aboveground and belowground ponds to determine which pond type is the best for your property.

Feeding Chickens Sustainably

Feeding chickens sustainably means keeping them healthy by using a combination of free-range, good-quality commercial food, supplementing their diet with garden produce and perhaps even mixing your own poultry food.

Appreciating the Tastes of Regional Honey

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss how to enjoy a little taste of summer in the middle of winter by developing a new appreciation for honey!

Creating a Homestead: Where to Start

Tips to help you get started planning your very own homestead. With proper planning you don't have to be experienced to do it right.

Under the Covers with a Flashlight

The quiet low of January has broken, the promise of spring and its seedy optimism is evident in the pile of seed catalogs at my bedside.

A Sunroom for My Chickens

Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!

January on the Homestead

While the snow's flying, this is a good time to plan your garden rotation, order seeds, preheat early spring garden areas, and more.

The One-Day Cob House

This May 2014, Be the Change Project is attempting to build a cob house in one day with 50 people.

Books for a New Beekeeper

Finding the right book for yourself is hard. Even harder if you are trying to learn something new. A BeeWeaver beekeeper, Emerson Arehart, read many beekeeping books and came up with a short list and summary to help you get started learning about bees.

Pig Harvest

Another season of pigs and the work of raising, feeding and butchering them in the urban setting.

Pumpernickel Bread Love

Love of family, love of tradition, love of pumpernickel bread — need I say more?

Sheep Come to the Homestead-Warming Party

Ilene White Freedman celebrates with her friends at their homestead-warming, after over two years of living in a trailer while renovating a dilapidated house. Their restoration includes the original logs and stone kitchen of a historic cabin. Some uninvited guests from the farm’s livestock take a house tour too.

How to Use a White Treadle Sewing Machine

White Family Rotary treadle sewing machines are well-made and easy to operate – but the hand wheel operates backward of other treadles. Modern bobbins can be used, if one extra step is taken when winding on thread.

Choosing a Livestock Guard Dog Breed, Part Three

In Part One of this post, Jan Dohner explained how the different Livestock Guard Dog breeds were developed and introduces us to their differences in style of work, temperament and other behaviors. In Parts Two and Three, we take a brief look at some of the more common LGD breeds available in North America.

Survival Vocabulary

With all the TV shows depicting "survival", I will sort through the various groups and argue that the reality shows are far from reality.

The Real Beginning of Winter

Putting into practice those great intentions: Living on preserved hard work and home canned peaches these short days.

Bees of Winter

Describes the winter hive life of the honey bees.

Craftsman Brings Back Classic American Clothespins

Fed up with cheap, easily breakable clothespins, craftsman Herrick Kimball is now making Classic American Clothespins and has a vision for inspiring others to make them in their communities.

Dealing With Winter Honeybee Withdrawal

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary shares some beekeeping crafts and activities to pass the time until you can get back out in the beeyard this spring.

What We Gave Up To Go Off-Grid

Providing your own sewer, water and power can be more expensive and is certainly less convenient but that's not all there is to consider. This article takes a look at some of the other differences between public and private services.

Do Ducks Wear Jeans?

That moment you realize contentment looks pretty good on you, but the ducks seem distant.

Breaking Trail

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

Making Beeswax Candles with Molds

Beekeeping allows us to have not only honey, but also the wax. This is a story of how to make beeswax candles with molds and some of the difficulties I have yet to resolve.

A Homesteader's Winter

A homesteader's year is over for this time. Nothing cleans the yard up as a foot of snow, and I think it's here to stay. winter on Deer Isle is great, so great I consider it something we deserve after getting through the summer, both for us as homesteaders and for us as a part of this community.

How to Choose the Right Knife

I’ll let you in on a little secret; there is no PERFECT knife. Cutting tools are only as effective as the handler wielding them.

How a Dairy Goat Farm Grows

Dairy goat farmer Julia Shewchuck learned a lot about keeping dairy goats in her first few months (and much more since). It was a learning curve too steep to be repeated willingly, but which has saved many other goats’ lives since.

All About Irish Dexter Cattle

With the increase in small-scale farming activities, people are looking not only at backyard poultry but also into raising backyard livestock. This post is about Mary Jane Phifer’s experience with Irish Dexter cattle, a small-sized dual-purpose.

Old Ways of Processing Pork at Home

We use some old and tried techniques for how to process the meat, like curing and smoking the big cuts so they'll keep without being put in a freezer. We're constantly striving to learn new, mostly old ways of utilizing and preserving more of the pigs for our own consumption, by making headcheese, confit and lard.

The Yule Goat

The Yule Goat is an ancient Scandinavian tradition which predates Christianity. Learn about how our oldest farm animal became the symbol of Christmas.

Welcome to the World of Beekeeping

North Carolinian Master Beekeeper, Tia Douglass, offers an introduction to chemical-free, natural beekeeping, bees and approach to raising pollinators.

Wanted: Visionary Wisdom

Why Tesla cars, Space-X and other creations of Elon Musk are not the kind of visionary thinking we so desperately need.

No Rest for the Weary Pond Owner

One of the things you can do this fall to help your fish is to add three-dimensional pond fish habitat, especially if you have a bass-bluegill pond.

The 2013 HOMEGROWN Holiday Gift Guide unwraps its 2013 holiday gift guide, featuring lots of homemade presents, as well as a few stocking stuffers for under $20.

A Report on Warmth

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

How to Keep Fall Crops Fresh

Dig in to our wealth of food preservation resources to learn how to keep fall crops edible well into winter.

On Ducks and Water

After two weeks amongst the poorest in India, how do I come home?

Alternative Chicken Feeds

You don't have to stick to corn and soybeans to nourish your flock. Chickens enjoy a variety of foods, including mulberries, worms and Japanese beetles.

Thrifty Ways To Use Junk Mail

Junk mail, old books and other used paper can be easily recycled into something useful. Never buy notepads or envelopes again.

Choosing a Livestock Guard Dog Breed, Part Two

In Part One of this post, Jan Dohner explained how the different livestock guard dog breeds were developed and introduces us to their differences in style of work, temperament and other behaviors. In parts two and three, we take a brief look at some of the more common LGD breeds available in North America.

Building a Chicken Coop

Chickens rock. One way to make the chicken experience even more rewarding is to build your own coop. Here's a description of one coop and some ideas for you.

MyMagicMud Toothpaste Review

A Texas mom created an all-natural toothpaste that whitens teeth and encourages her children to do a better job of brushing because it’s fun.

Start Planning Now for Bees in the Spring!

Becoming a beekeeper takes a lot of planning and preparation. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will explain some steps you can take now to start getting ready to keep bees in the spring.

Biological Farming Trending Up

A description of a pioneering workshop featuring no-till, cover crop cocktails and mob grazing. Douglas County Conservation Service educated local farmers in cutting-edge biological farming techniques.

How Not to Keep Chickens (Know What You’re Getting Into)

A growing number of homeowners are realizing how useful chickens can be in the backyard: They offer pest control, fertilizer, comedy relief, and their business end doles out concentrated protein like a Pez dispenser. Unfortunately, novice chicken-owners can encounter problems when they expect more than chickens can deliver, either in food, companionship or general co-operation.

Always Getting Ready on the Homestead

Each season brings its own work on a homestead. In the autumn, the garden and animals still require work, but this is also the time to put in a cistern and begin a smoke house.

Our First Chicken Harvest

In preparation for a large chicken harvest later in the season, a few homesteaders perform a trial run to test their chicken harvesting capabilities.

Dental Surgery On a Rabbit!

Using rabbit hypnosis and a pair of wire cutters we successfully perform dental surgery on one of our does.

DIY Mealworm Farm

Learn how to make a simple "mealworm farm" out of readily available materials you probably already have in your home. Raise your own mealworms to feed to chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, and other poultry as a protein rich treat.

Hometeading Freebies

We've got several homesteading-related giveaways going this week.

Off the Grid With Solar Power

Renewable energy is often seen as a way to have it all and still feel “green” and it is indeed at a glance more environment friendly than conventional power, but no power has as low footprint as the power not used.

Remote Homesteading With Dogs

Homesteading with dogs in remote mountain living. Considerations in providing a good safe homestead environment for your cherished pets.

Three Ways to Gauge Pastured Livestock Health

Here are three easy observations you can make every day to see how your animals are performing. Use them to constantly adjust your grazing program, instead of “flying blind” until sale day or weighing. They can help you adjust paddock size or give supplemental nutrients.

So You Got Your Dream Homestead, Now What?

You have read every garden, homestead and back to the land book in your library system. Your dreams of coffee at sunrise set to the chatter of fowl made real. With hoe in hand and 914,760 square feet rolling out from your feet like a magic carpet; where do you start?

For the Beekeeping Newbees!

Encouragement for new beekeepers who may be confused and overwhelmed about all the conflicting advice about keeping bees.

Choosing a Livestock Guard Dog Breed: Part One

Jan Dohner explains how the different Livestock Guard Dog breeds were developed and introduces us to their differences in style of work, temperament and other behaviors.

Pond and People Management

Managing expectations and learning more about your pond or lake are key in being satisfied with the benefits of having a natural body of water on your property.

Why You Really Don’t Want a Billy Goat

Owning an intact male goat can be difficult, even if you know about their little idiosyncrasies. Learn about (and laugh at) one goat owner's attempt at doing something simple, like switching female goats in a buck pen.

Investing in 'Slow Money' with Woody Tasch

Consider a rational, common sense alternative to modern investing with 'Slow Money.' Woody Tasch explains his company's concept that not only makes the investors successful, but also local agriculture and the businesses to which those local farms provide.

Feeding Honeybees in Winter

When honeybees are unable to store enough food for winter, the beekeeper must decide how to support the colony through the winter.

The Natural Therapeutic Coturnix Egg

The Coturnix Quail egg is very nutritious, has been in many civilizations as the treatment for many ailments, now it is back in our era as the only dietetic egg due to its amazing components.

Cabin Fever: Reality Or Myth?

Cabin Fever: noun, ‘Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area‘.

The Love of Local Food

One thing that gardening has done to me, as to so many others probably, is that I've started to pay attention to where the food on my plate comes from, and usually the answer is “from our garden."

HOMEGROWN Life: Let’s Talk About Poop

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel discusses using manure in the garden, including which type of animal waste is best for which crops.

The Beekeeper's Calendar: Maintain A Productive Warré Hive

This summary of a Warré Beekeeper’s regular seasonal activities gives you both a general idea of what this method entails in the long-term if you are considering adopting this method, and to provide you with a beekeeping calendar that you can use as a guide after you have gotten started.

The New Beekeeper's Calendar: Getting Started Warré Beekeeping

This overview of the yearly activities of a Warré beekeeper is for people trying to decide if they have the time to become beekeepers and experienced beekeepers who are curious about the Warré method. It also serves as an index of the many of the main topics that will be covered in depth by this blog.

Crocheted Dishcloths

A different way to make these old time favorite crocheted dishcloths.

Dear MOTHER: December 2013/January 2014

Reader letters about seed swaps, garden hoops, drafty windows, health insurance and retirement on the homestead, an adoptive mother hen, farmland, working dogs, cities that inspire, and more.

Under The Stairs

Necessity leads to ingenuity in the creation of root cellar storage.

Record Keeping in the Apiary

Beekeepers need a consistent way to document hive inspections including prompts to address all relevant areas while looking at a colony of honeybees.

How Livestock Guard Dogs Work: the Question of Genetic Behaviors

In a previous post, “What is a Livestock Guard Dog?,” I described what livestock guard dogs do but it is also exceptionally important to know how they do this job. Understanding how not only helps us work with our LGDs but also explains why other breeds or crosses with non-LGD breeds are not likely to perform this same outstanding job.

Let’s Bring Back Victory Gardens

Bringing back Victory Gardens could help ease hunger and dependence as U.S. social aid programs, such as Food Stamps, are drastically cut.

Can You Really Get Goats For Free?

Author Maggie Bonham recounts the various ways she's managed to obtain free goats, including Craigslist ads and trading for chickens.

A Fiery Love

Harnessing the power of anger mixed with love to turn the world right side up again.

Step-by-Step Chicken Processing (Video)

Butchering can be intimidating. Learn how to process a chicken in this video that covers equipment, humane killing methods, plucking, eviscerating and more.

Apple Abundance as a Part of Our History

There used to be, from Maine to Georgia and west to the Mississippi river, 20.000 grafted apple varieties. Today, when commercialism is king and the most known apple varieties are the 5 kinds offered in the supermarket those old varieties are worth paying attention to. As with all things around us, diversity is interesting and sustainable.

Reducing and Re-Using Around the Barnyard

The diva of re-use, Annie Warmke, talks about simple steps to take in the barn yard for re-purposing and reducing waste. After reading this article you won’t be able to think about things like llama poo or beer bottles in the same way again.

Fun at the Fair

It doesn’t matter how much you know already, there is always something to learn at the Mother Earth News Fair.

Remembering the First Earth Day

United Nations Climate Week invokes memories of first Earth Day and how far we have yet to go to clean up our environment.

Fresh Storage of Produce

For the past few years, we've experimented with different ways of storing food fresh and now we're eating garlic, onions, squash, carrots and beets in June.

Having Guests Visit Your Beeyard

Having guests visit your beeyard takes a lot of planning and preparation. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary shares her experience having visitors in the beeyard, along with some tricks and tips to make the visit go more smoothly for everyone.

Our Annual Learning Curve with Cows

There is much to be learned when taking care of dual-purpose cows including how to avoid birthing problems and retained placentas, how to manage mastitis and when to do artificial insemination.

I Love Lovage!

The little used herb lovage makes an attractive addition to the edible landscape and provides a smoky flavor to soups and stews.

HOMEGROWN Life: A Melancholy Season

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan reflects on the changes that arrive with fall, including her own sense of melancholy.

Foraging Chickens for Free

How to identify and cook with chicken of the woods mushroom, one of the most delicious and easy to identify wild edible mushrooms.

Finishing the Barndominium: Almost Ready to Move In

After three years of trying to build the barndominium in three-week-per-year spurts, Jim has relocated back to Texas to complete the build while Julie remains in Australia to finish her work there and transfer to the United States.

Testing For Toxicity

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

Guardian Llamas: Pros and Cons

If using a livestock guard dog is not the right decision for you or your farm, Jan Dohner takes an honest look at another option – the guard llama.

Homesteads as Agricultural Zoos

Homesteads are keeping alive old skills and ways of raising crops and livestock that are being lost in the age of agribusiness.

Early Autumn in the Beeyard – Preparing for Winter!

Although winter may seem a long way off, starting to prepare your beehives for winter now will pay off later. Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will describe what they do to get their beehives ready for winter.

How to Harvest and Prepare Sunflower Seeds

As fall nears, sunflowers are beginning to die off and it's time to harvest their seeds! In this post I bring you through the steps to harvest and prepare your sunflower seeds for eating!

Choosing a Livestock Guardian Dog

Livestock guard dogs are an attractive choice for predator control on the farm. Jan Dohner gives us an honest look at the pros and cons of choosing a Livestock guard dog versus a guard donkey or llama.

Must Read Books

Eight books that have had a transformative effect on our lives.

Savor the Season of Autumn

Autumn offers not only a bountiful harvest, but also an abundance of art materials directly from nature.

Canine Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration

A sudden onset of a canine eye disease called SARDS leaves dogs totally blind very suddenly. Bruce McElmurray explains this disrder from a personal perspective.

Emergency Solar Lights

Use emergency solar lights for emergency lighting situations around your homestead.

Dear MOTHER: October/November 2013

Reader letters about chickens in the garden, pressure canning, apartment gardening, labeling genetically modified foods, a local urban homesteaders’ network, capitalism, green tomato recipes, and more.

Protect Chickens From Hawks

Need a more secure chicken coop? Protect chickens from birds of prey with this spider-web-like “roof.”

Why Milk Pasteurization?

How a small and inexpensive High Temperature-Short Time pasteurizer could change the dairy industry.

Living Off Grid: Lessons Learned

Each year we learn more and more about living off grid and homesteading. These are just a few of the third-year experiences we wanted to share.

Celebrate the Harvest with Cake

Get creative in the kitchen by baking with your harvest. These sweet recipes will change the way you think about baking with fruits and vegetables.

An Incredible Pest: Any Good Suggestions?

After three years of trying to build the barndominium in three week per year spurts, Jim and Julie have relocated from Australia to Texas and are building out the barndominium. However in growing gardens and potential fruit plants for use in future years, we’ve encountered a horrible pest and want to share it in hopes of ideas from the Mother Earth News community.

Honeybees and Robbing

Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary explains how to prevent, identify and stop robbing in the beeyard.

Restoring and Seasoning Rusty Cast Iron

Taking the guesswork out of rescuing a piece of rusty cast iron cookware, Sarah provides easy to follow step by step instructions on how to take cast iron from unusable to gleaming.

Homesteading Defined

When defining the term homesteading, consider the various options available.

Chicken Brooder Basics (Video)

When you acquire day-old chicks, introduce them to a chicken brooder that will keep them comfortable and safe. Watch this video to learn the basics.

Incubating Chicken Eggs (Video)

Get your flock off to a most egg-cellent start! Hatch eggs with confidence by following our poultry expert’s guiding principles for incubating chicken eggs.

Eat These Birds to Keep Them Alive!: Developing Sustainable Poultry Flocks

So, what makes a flock of poultry sustainable? What is standard-bred poultry? If you purchase chicks from a hatchery, are they true to the breed? Why does every hatchery sell Rhode Island Reds and they all look different? Why do the Cornish Cross meat chickens have so many problems? Raising standard poultry is the only true way to improve the sustainability of quality local food while preserving the strength of Heritage poultry.

Farming Is Hard Work

It takes a few good rationalizations to get through the busiest part of the growing season.

Save Your Seeds

Want to grow and save your own vegetable seeds? Meet Fruition Seeds. They produce regionally-adapted, organically-grown seeds. And they can show you how to do it too.

Homemade Horse Treats

It can be very frustrating trying to find horse treats that are safe and healthy for our equine friends. So, why not make your own? In this post, Harper Slusher shares her recipe for natural horse treats.

Finishing the Barndominium: The First Steps

After three years of trying to build the barndominium in three week per year spurts, Jim has relocated back to Texas to complete the build while Julie remains in Australia to finish her work there and transfer to the US.

What is a Livestock Guard Dog?

Livestock guard dogs were found in a sweep of cultures from southern Europe through Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and central Asia. They worked in the company of shepherds who often spent weeks on high summer pasture or on long migratory routes.

Urban Meat, Part II: Pigs

Pigs can be a great source of healthy and humanely-raised meat in an urban setting thriving on the leftovers of humanity.

Should You Feed Your Bees?

Learn how to keep your bees properly fed and also ensure a plentiful and delicious honey harvest!

Finding Organic Poultry Feed

Are you seeking the healthiest, organic feed for your chickens, ducks, geese, guinea and other poultry? You can use this map to locate a supplier anywhere in North America. We also invite you to add the names of other organic poultry feed providers. This map is only for suppliers who offer either certified organic poultry feed, or feed grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Plumbing Tips When Using CPVC Pipe

Don’t let this tricky pipe slow down your projects — these CPVC basics will help you ease into those plumbing repairs.

Why We Raise Our Own Meat

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

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Moving to the Country

Unprepared for their first foray into country living, Kristy Athens takes what she learned and focuses on 5 areas to be considered before moving to the country: Land, buildings, animals, food and community.

Coösauke Kale

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

Turn of the Year

We are trying to wrestle back the food business into our neck of the woods. To create a micro dairy and a micro economy for all to enjoy. Wish us luck !

Backyard Homestead

There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.

Choosing a Zero-Turn Mower (Video)

Zero-turn mowers are a great investment for homesteaders with large lawns. In this video, learn how to choose the best one for your needs.

Find Safe Raw Milk

In our culture we are used to government regulations telling us what to do – can we talk on our cell phones while driving? Or, should I wear my seat belt? Or has this food been properly processed? Raw milk is your chance to embrace your rights and freedoms and do your research and ask the hard questions – you have no one else to rely on to do this for you.

Homesteading 101: Getting Started

As a beginner homesteader, designer Larissa Reznek has learned some hard lessons fast. Here are the top three pieces of guidance she wishes she had before she started out.

Honey Harvest - Part One

One of the most fun parts of beekeeping is harvesting honey. Here we will look at the first part of the honey harvest, removing the honey supers from the hives, and how to store them safely.

My Four Biggest Gardening Mistakes

Over the past year, I have made countless mistakes on my garden. In this post, I share four of my most frustrating gardening mistakes and how to avoid them.

Living a Resilient Urban Life Good Food Festival & Conference partner Vicki Nowicki shares her experience living, learning, and teaching on her suburban permaculture homestead.

A Few Big Rocks

We quarry a granite rock to create a front stoop.

How to Tie a Square Knot (Video)

Knot-tying isn't just for Boy Scouts — it's a handy skill for homesteaders, too. In this video, learn how to tie a basic square knot that is both attractive and strong.

Hosteling At Home

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

Build an Outhouse With 1909 Plans

The "Household Discoveries" book from 1909 instructs how to build an outhouse, with plans simple enough for any average 14-year-old schoolboy to follow.

HOMEGROWN Life: Geeking Out on Goats

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel recounts how she went from half-hearted to full-breed-ahead when it comes to breeding goats.

Sawmill Visitors and Tractor Repair

After discovering a family of wrens in his sawmill, Dave Boyt decides to take a break from sawmilling and make some necessary repairs to his antique tractor.

City Food for City Bees

Bee populations in urban settings are increasing, but urban settings aren’t set up to provide lots of forage for honey bees... or are they?

Always Have a Backup Plan

The journey to a self-sufficient life is a bumpy ride. Having a backup plan — or two — can make all the difference in your progress.

Fun Times at Goat School

Maine and Minnesota Goat Schools are over, and a great time was had by all; Janice Spaulding recaps the events and prepares for the next one is in Ohio in September.

Maple Field Milk: Full-Tilt Farming

Dairyman Nick Snelgar reflects on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health certification process and bagging hay for winter on his UK dairy farm.

Dear MOTHER: August/September 2013

Reader letters about self-sufficiency and sustainable living, the U.S. Army’s net-zero initiative, backyard chickens, the White House garden, the Puyallup MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, an outdoor wood boiler, The Encyclopedia of Country Living, raised garden beds and pressure canning.

Haflingers: The Ultimate Horse

Looking for the perfect horse for on the farm and in the arena? Well, look no further. The Haflinger has it all — size, strength, gentleness and trainability.

Benefits of Backyard Chickens (Video)

From nutritious, farm-fresh eggs to organic pest control, backyard chickens furnish a feathery array of perks for modern homesteaders.

Growing Luffa on Four Texas Acres

A Texas family searches for a suitable crop as supplemental income on four acres. After watermelons and flower fail, they succeed with luffa.

Nurturing a Meadow

Describing the process of turning forest to field, by hand.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

Get rid of fire ants — without using heavy-duty chemical pesticides — with these tips for fire ant control.


Notes on immigrant farm labor and livable wages.

Thinking About Self-Sufficiency

The sweet spot in self sufficiency is to have just enough...with a bit of surplus to meet your needs and a few friends and neighbors.

Double Your Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are a great vegetable, perfect for all occasions and relatively easy to grow. Here is a way to double, even triple your seedlings while boosting your existing ones.

Growing Food Hidden in the Forest

Author Rick Austin shares gardening advice from his book, “Secret Garden of Survival – How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest.”

Farming By the Book

Local farmers lease Amherst College land to provide for the school’s dining hall.

Personal Wildfire Mitigation

Taking personal responsibility for private-property protection in light of ongoing climate change and the hazards associated with same.

The Strength From Being Little

Over the years, we’ve had many experiences with injured and sick chickens. Sometimes the birds have pulled through, sometimes they have not.Such is truly the way of life.

Unplugged: From City Life to Off-Grid Homestead

How did Victoria Redhed Miller and husband David end up living on an off-grid homestead in the foothills of Washington State's Olympic mountains? Grid? What grid? Electricity was something one took for granted; it came from those outlets on the walls. I was hardly aware of it except during one of the infrequent power outages.

HOMEGROWN Life: On the Road (Again)

HOMEGROWN blogger and homesteading mama Michelle explains why road trips are worth packing 3 kids, 2 adults, and 2 dogs in a camper for weeks on end.

Children in the Garden

Allowing children the space to discover the beauty and wonder of plants through tending to their own garden builds character, teaches responsibility, gives insight into the beauty of nature and fosters their connection with where their food comes from.

Why We Farm

It is a regular occurrence, a question we're asked: Why do we do all this work?

Growing the Garden Footprint

This year is the first season I had the whole garden dug and ready and boy, it's easy to plant a garden when the garden is already there.

HOMEGROWN Life: Giving Up Control

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan learns that giving up control, whether over a mischievous flock or a single lamb, can have its own rewards.

Mountain Living in the Springtime

Spring time is a time to experience the newness of life and living in the Sangre de Cristo mountains amid the wildflowers, birds, green woods and new birth.

Simple Gifts

A western Massachusetts community rallies to save a generations old farm.

Make a No-Sew Chicken Saddle

Roosters are great for protecting your flock. Unfortunately, they often tear up their hens during mating. Here is an easy and effective way to protect your hens.

Maple Field Milk Test Results

We passed the "phosphataze" test with the Health Protection Agency and know that the milk from our dairy farm is safe to sell.

Reader Delights in Miniature Cows

Miniature cows may be half the size of standard cattle, but as MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Corinne Talkin writes, these diminutive breeds have big personalities.

Building a Sustainable Farm Business Operation

You can start a productive small farm business rather quickly if you use a business operations approach from the beginning. You may have what it takes if you own some property and are willing to work hard for successful results. Farming is also a practice in which traits like patience and persistence come in handy when everything goes wrong at the same time. These are all parts of the farming business and should be considered valuable lessons learned because they are only attained by experience.

Hostel Homestead Economy Part II

For me, homesteading means to not have a great need for money in the first place. It also means that the money one does need is being made by utilizing the land, as in our case, running the Hostel.

The Elegant Solar Wall Heater

One of the easiest ways to bask and rejoice in the gifts of nature is to make and use a solar wall heater.

Strawberry Bliss

Springtime happiness can be measured by the sweetness of your strawberry patch.

How to Run a Small Business

Creating your own start-up is full of obstacles, but rewarding. MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Jessica Vaughan shares advice from her experience as a first-time small business owner who teaches clients how to grow organic produce.

Clean Out Your Egg Cartons

When overloaded with eggs, it seems like there’s no way to use them up fast enough. This is a delicious, unique and easy recipe to clean out your egg cartons!

Potato Bracelets Are a Hot Seller

As the youngest member of a new local food producers and artisans cooperative, 11-year-old Grace is learning business skills while perfecting her artistic talents with homemade jewelry, pot holders and more.

Wet Spring

Stormy weather, wildlife and observations about trees.

Determining Drought History

Tree rings tell the tale. It is nice and green here now but our plants and weeds are acclimated to semi arid and have deep roots.

Regenerative Agriculture

Focus on Food records an episode from Chaffin Orchards and discusses sustainable farming and the ethics of eating meat.

Film Strives to Promote Simple Living Off-Grid

An upcoming inspirational documentary, “Beyond Off-Grid,” that strives to motivate people to return to the old paths, includes self-sufficiency experts from around the country. A MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog prompted the producer to contact us.

Star Modern Homesteaders

A collection of many of our Homesteader of the Year winners and nominees. These modern homesteaders are skilled in a wide variety of homesteading tasks and community building endeavors, including food preservation, organic gardening and more.

First: Set Up a Workshop

We’re all in this for the glory projects: the garden, chickens, bees, and wind turbine. But there’s one thing all new homesteaders should do before getting started on these other projects. By: Matt Kelly

Goats: You Are What You Eat

"Garbage in, garbage out," is as true to goat nutrition as it is to the computer world and more folks should take heed!

Home and Away

Completing tasks in preparation for a few days away from the homestead

The $30 Greenhouse

The joy and sustainability of a greenhouse made of salvaged everything (well, almost).

Finish off Fire Ants Part 3

Fire ants are a pain. In this post, I talk about the solution to conquering fire ants once and for all!

Refugees Find Home on Iowa Farm

Global Greens Farm in West Des Moines, Iowa, helps refugees transition from growing food for their families to operating small businesses that sell produce at farmers markets, local grocery stores and to area restaurants.

Food Co-Op Promotes Bartering, Sustainability

Forming a food producers and artisans cooperative brings together farmers, crafters and consumers hoping to revitalize their community, preserve skills and continue the economy of neighborliness

The Half-Acre Homestead

It not only feels good to grow some of your own food, but there’s the quality: the taste of a homegrown sun-ripened tomato just knocks your socks off; broccoli cooked within minutes of picking is sweet, entirely different from store-bought; fresh eggs cause you to think, “So this is what eggs are really like.”

Taking the Leap to Off-Grid

A few thoughts on why so many people are hesitant to make the transition to produce their own power.

Michigan Attacks Heritage Hogs; Farmers Fight Back

It has been fifteen months since heritage breed hog farmer Mark Baker sued the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stop the implementation of an invasive species order (ISO). The swine ISO supposedly targeted feral swine but could be applied to any domestic pig not raised in confinement. Baker has yet to have his day in court and it is still not settled when his trial will take place. It is common for lawsuits like this to turn into wars of attrition; the state has virtually unlimited resources while the farmers are bled of theirs over the course of the litigation.

Finish off Fire Ants! Part 2

Getting rid of fire ants can be hard. In this article, I explain the background behind these pests and my own personal experience with them.

Growing the Nerves

But maybe, at the end of the day, I am just a person with weak nerves doing something that depends on so many unknown factors – the weather, the bug population, the quality of seeds and some plain ol' luck.

Magnificent Birds: Free-Ranging Chickens, the Threat of Hawks and Choosing Freedom Anyway

One week after moving our chickens, there now stands a chicken “duck and cover” shelter for them to dive under in the event of a hawk attack. It’s not perfect as a strategy, and the hawk may still get a chicken or two. But these magnificent birds crave a greater measure of freedom than they have in their chicken tractors, and I aim to see that they get it.

Chicken House Tips

Suggestions for the interior of your chicken house, including; feed storage, access to nest boxes, dividing the chicken-living area, and making a loft for storing bedding material.

Tree-Planting Season

It is a busy time for planting here. Not tomatoes, peppers, or squash, though. We got in our order of trees from the Missouri Conservation Dept. last week. In the past, we had planted mostly walnut, but we have a good enough supply of our own walnut seedlings that we are focusing on native trees that could use a boost to restore the forest to what it once was. So we are planting pecan on the bottom areas, shortleaf pine on ridge tops where the soil is poor, and burr oak on the better upland areas.

DIY Rabbit Hutch From Wooden Pallets

Gather a few pallets and get geared up to make your very own spacious rabbit hutch with just a few supplies for under $25 dollars!

Beekeeping Resources

These beekeeping resources will help beginning beekeepers get started raising bees.

Dear MOTHER: June/July 2013

Reader letters about full-time homesteading, hoop houses, buying a mower, the White House garden, pesticide drift, broody hens, distinguishing sorghum from molasses, the legality of home distilling, and more.

Finish Off Fire Ants! - Part 1

I can deal with a lot of things- floods, frosts, Japanese beetles, but one thing I can't stand is fire ants. Living in the north for a good portion of my life, I was close to unaware of their existence until I moved to the south. Then, everywhere I looked in my yard I saw the same thing; enormous mounds of orange clay filled with irritating stinging ants.

Caring About the Environment

Why do certain individuals care about the environment while others do not? Is it an intrinsic moral obligation? Are we born with an innate instinct to want to protect the earth and its natural resources?

Turn Your Farm Venture Into a Business

Have you ever dreamed of taking your part-time homestead to a full-time salary? What's holding you back? Business books say most people are more afraid of success than failure.

Meat Goats Two

There is no “one size fits all” bunch of information that works every time in every location, every person, and for every goat.

2013 Farm Bill Should Be Healthy Food Bill

As Congress considers the 2013 Farm Bill, it has the opportunity to enact legislation that protects and supports the nation's family farmers and market gardeners, in addition to protecting consumers and the environment.

Homesteaders' Vehicles

If you have a bike, your freedom of moving around is endless. Cycling is swift and bikes are easy to navigate where cars sometimes can't go.

Buffalo Gals

The story of two ladies and their small CSA in the Rocky Mountains.

April To-Dos

Spring tasks around the homestead.

The "Stoven"

How we built a cob oven and rocket stove hybrid.

Including Animals In Your Diet

Animal products provide vitamin B12 in your diet, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system. Learn what and how much you would have to eat to meet your daily B12 need and other considerations for adding animals to a sustainable diet.

Pasteurize Your Own Compost

Pasteurizing your own compost can protect your new seedlings from damping-off and harmful bacteria.

Hostel Economics 101

Our striving to live frugally, monetary so, affects our everyday life choices. We choose to live without a lot of things that cost money. We make most of the cash we do need by running the Hostel in the summer months.

The Unsustainability of Local

A few months back I heard a comment on an NPR radio program that really caught my attention. The program was about the local food movement and at one point the guest on the show said, “Now remember - just because it’s local doesn’t necessarily mean it has a smaller carbon footprint. That Argentinian apple that was shipped on a barge with thousands of tons of other apples may actually have required less fuel per apple than the apple than came from a few hundred miles away in the back on a farmer’s pickup.”

A Growing Trust

In this section you will find stories of real farmers across the country that made it work. You'll find their story, how they did it and who helped them. We hope these stories will inspire and educate new farmers, as well as land owners and community members to become involved in the new agrarian movement. A growing trust.

Veteran's Park In Southern Colorado

Ours is a great country and I don't think defined by politics but by people like the ones from our small county who served and are little known.

Goats: Meat Goats

There are so many different “types” of goats! My last post was all about Angora goats and their fiber; this post will be about the meat aspect of goats. So what makes a goat a meat goat?

Uncle Dave

Sheepskin rug keeps a childhood story alive.

Factory Farming Plowing Over Family Farms

A hard look at the state of the food industry and the impact of factory farming on polluted run-off, animal rights, and small family farms across America.

Dead Trees Full of Life

To turn a woodlot into a park with no “litter” on the ground might look tidy, but is not very healthy or functional. Next time you look at a dead tree or a log rotting on the ground; look at it as something full of life.

Reusable Canning Lids

Our experiences in learning to pressure can and use reusable canning lids.

Spring: Lots of Work To Do

Springtime brings cleaning up from the winter, starting a new garden and finishing up home-school work.

The 80/20 Rule of Homesteading

This current situation is a perfect example of the 80/20 rule of homesteading: 80 percent of your time, energy and effort is spent on maintenance; 20 percent on progress towards the dream. A majority of your time homesteading is spent covered in chicken poop, squashing potato bugs, figuring out why gas isn’t getting to the carburetor in the ATV and shoveling snow after dark by headlamp.

Deer Whisperer

While far-fetched, this is an absolute wildlife true story. Maybe it's coincidence, but I don't think so because I was looking into those warm friendly brown eyes.

Find a Portable Sawmill Service Near You

Knowing where lumber sawyers exist locally opens the door to all kinds of DIY projects. For example, storm-damaged trees can be turned into useable lumber instead of heading to a chipper or landfill. But you can take advantage of milling lumber at local sawmills only if you know where to find them. There are online resources to help you find a sawmill near you. Search by state or Zip code using the sawmill locators below and you will be on your way to turning raw wood into quality-cut lumber for DIY projects without the need to purchase any equipment yourself.

Dear MOTHER: April/May 2013

Reader letters about calculating garden payback, the resolve to homestead, outwitting wind with low tunnels, sorghum press plans, wind turbines, masonry heaters, contaminated soil, raising pigs, and more.

Small Scale Forestry for the Homestead

Our work in the woods starts long before we get the chainsaw and axe out; by being in the woods, observing and contemplating. We're looking for healthy trees that we can help to thrive and that will be of benefit in the future.

DIY Sprouted Fodder for Livestock

A step-by-step guide, and benefits to growing sprouted grain fodder for your livestock as a natural alternative to commercial feed or as a pasture supplement.

Goats: Raising Angora Goats

Angora Goats are not the easiest of the breeds to raise, however, even though the work can be intensive, the rewards are incredible!

HOMEGROWN Life: Why Homesteaders Do What We Do

Sometimes even HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm needs a reminder why she puts up with the goat feed, the chicken poop, the cat puke, and the never-ending mud. Here's a hint: It involves good food.

Noting the Time

Noting the time and marking its passing, keeping us in the present.

Spotlight on Earth Stewardship: Eric Stevens

This will be an ongoing series, which pays homage to Eco-conscious individuals by sharing their stories of hope, inspiration, challenges and insight into making the earth a better place for generations to come.

Swarm Care

Catching a swarm of bees is awesome. Now learn how to take care of them.

Cow Power

In addition to a source of cheap food and extra income, cows can provide cow power—the motive force small farmers need to plow a field, skid logs, or clear rocks and stumps.

Free Range Winter Chickens

How both we and the chickens have gotten better at surviving the cold winters where we live.

Start Your Onion Seeds Today

Onions are daylight sensitive and need to have plenty of time to put on top growth before the days start to get shorter and the plant pulls its energy into the bulb. If you like to start onions from seed, don’t wait! The best time is already closing in.

Children Are Like Seedlings

Discusses the similarities between the essential needs of children and seedlings in terms of what they need to grow and thrive.

A Sweet Homemade Stain Remover

This sugar and vinegar based homemade stain remover has been used by two generations to get out tough stains from clothing.

A Father's Legacy of Natural Living

One of my earliest vivid childhood memories is sitting on my father’s lap as a young girl reading the magazine together in the 1980s and all throughout my childhood. He would read aloud while I studied the pictures of passive solar building, vegetable gardening, sheep shearing, building your own sugar shack and the beautiful array of topics which he read to me frequently. Those images, along with the camping trips in the mountains, the whitewater and canoeing excursions, and our family trip to Alaska, have been etched in the catacombs of my childhood memories and have sculpted the person I have grown to become.

Balancing Our World and the Real World

We are grateful for the peace and balance inherent to our lifestyle, offering ease of being and grounded perspective as we continue to negotiate the boundaries between our world and the real world.

Osage Orange: A Wood for All Seasons

Hedge (a.k.a. Osage orange, a.k.a. Bodark, a.k.a. horseapple) is a thorny problem, but also a remarkable resource, if you have the means to use it.

Permaculture Chicken: Pasture Basics

Summing up pasture data where it relates to chickens and customizing land to better suit poultry and their behavior and stomachs. Measuring oil viscosity levels and rescuing a trailer with a portable winch were some of our favorite things.

Farmers in Training: A City Dweller Gets Lessons in Harvesting, Milking and the Meaning of Life

The place I call home these days is The FarmSchool, a fertile 180-acre strip of ridge top in Athol, where 15 student-farmers are spending a year learning the ins and outs of growing food, managing forests, and raising animals for meat. I arrived at the farm in October, just as the leaves were reaching their peak brilliance. The Farm School — which offers three-day programs for schoolchildren, a summer camp, a full-time middle school, and the apprenticeship program I’m in — takes us through all seasons of farming, weaving together class work and on-farm training.

We Are What We Read

My husband Alan’s first gift to me was Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life. The books we turn to regularly have changed, although some we go back to again and again, year after year. A list of our top 10 favorite books follows.

Who Cut My Chickens Beaks Off!

Some of the practices of animal husbandry, such as clipping beaks and dehorning, can lead to discomfort and inconveniece for the critters.

Bank The Farm: Let it Snow!

How packing snow against your house can add R-value to your insulation - and subtract energy costs.

Making Marmalade

Making delicious homemade marmalade from Seville oranges.

Swamp Bridge Stump Dirt

Fixing the swamp bridge and starting some new onion seeds along with a new experiment involving willow rooting hormone tea.

8,000 Square Feet in a Box

It wasn't many months ago the seed catalog for this year showed up, but at that point I had just, just, managed to finish off the garden season, slightly traumatized from all the work. To receive a catalog then seemed mostly like an ill-conceived joke, a way to rub it in; don't think you can relax too much.

Goats: The Great Weed-eaters

Goats are terrific weed eaters, and do a great job clearing land for you, why not utilize them for clearing your pastures!

Thoughts of Spring Begin to Stir

A winter thaw inspires starting the first seeds of the season - indoors, of course: kale, chard, and spinach to start.

Avoiding Urban Beekeeping Problems

OK, you’ve got a start: where to get equipment, groups to join, classes to take, and mentors to hook up with. Now’s the time, before you have bees, to take a long hard look at some of the rest of the things you need to be thinking about.

Groundhog Crocus Signs

Talking about carrying in the red roofing tin the old fashioned way due to a broken golf cart and some very muddy conditions. The refrigerator root cellar continues to prove itself as an experiment that seems to be working so far.

Who Let the Cows Out?!

Today I gave the cows all a dish with a zinc mix, copper mix, and sulfur mix. I do this about once a week to see if they need to free choice those particular minerals. Today they liked the sulfur and zinc but did not eat much of the copper. It is amazing how farm animals know what they need and will take it if they need it.

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

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

Red Thai Roselle Hibiscus Tea

Grow Red Thai Roselle hibiscus for a tea, health drink and sauce. Roselle, also known as Florida Cranberry, can be grown outside the sunbelt if you have the right variety. Red Thai is that variety.

My Exotic Daily Life

While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.

A New Blogger's Homesteading Journey Begins

Since her first house move, MOTHER EARTH NEWS blogger Cathie Ackroyd, has become so very conscious of the impact we humans have had and are having on our planet’s environment and hoped to find a place to settle that would allow us to gain an element of self-sufficiency in a relatively car-free community.

The Accidental Homesteader

When I bought my farm, I did it to live in the woods. I would like to say I was deliberate. And intentional. But clueless is probably a better word. I should have suspected something when I bought the land and they threw the house in for free.

Emerging Brawn

Work on the farm gets easier as kids grow and get physically able to tackle chores with more strength.

Drought Again?

Are we headed into another year of drought? Already, we are behind on precipitation for this year, and for the last two years. What strategies can we implement to utilize minimal rain and resources better?

Dehorning Cows and Trimming Cows' Feet

We had a dehorning and RE-castrating day at the farm today. We had to make the very difficult decision to dehorn three heifers that had not been properly dehorned as babies, which is when this should be done.

Walking Home

Making the most of a winter walk to home.

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

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

Building Walls in the Owner-Built Home

Ken Kerns covers what you need to know to construct sturdy walls in your self-built home. Originally published as a chapter of "The Owner-Built Home and Homestead" in the May/June 1972 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

HOMEGROWN Life: Thank you, E. B. White

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick discovers a kindred soul in E. B. White when she reads the essay Memorandum, from his 1944 collection, 'One Man's Meat.'

The Astonishing Colors of Rainbow Indian Corn

This video slideshow reveals the sacred magic contained in the Native American corn that sustained many Indian tribes for thousands of years before professional plant breeders turned it into an industrial feedstock.

Winter Carrots

Eat carrots from your garden all winter! A little planning goes a long way toward more food with less work. Learn how to start with a winter cover crop of rye, with carrots following next in the rotation, maturing by the time the first frost.

Only In America

How we focused on attaining our dream homestead.

What is ‘Modern Homesteading,' Anyway?

What exactly is ‘modern homesteading"? There are as many definitions as there are people doing it. What does the term ‘modern homesteading’ mean to you?

Live the Homesteading Dream

Like Thoreau and the Nearings, we feel more alive and participative in the natural world around us on our 5.5 acre homestead and organic farmstead than Lisa and I ever did walking through a corporate cubicle maze in the city.

Australia to Texas - Our Last Learning Experience in Australia

We're getting very close now to our relocation to Texas. After years of planning and developing, it's time to go home to our sustainable lifestyle. We leave with some sadness but a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement for our new life.

Mountain Fun

We enjoy sledding and snowshoeing in the winter as outdoor activities.

Australia to Texas - Framing the Exterior of the Barndominium(3)

We have few opportunities during our stay in Australia to fly home and do work ourselves on the property. This blog features a set of planned activities that we wanted to be personally and directly involved with. When we left, we were very happy.

Australia to Texas - Framing the Exterior of the Barndominium(2)

We have few opportunities during our stay in Australia to fly home and do work ourselves on the property. This blog features a set of planned activities that we wanted to be personally and directly involved with. When we left, we were very happy.

Australia to Texas - Framing the Exterior of the Barndominium

We have few opportunities during our stay in Australia to fly home and do work ourselves on the property. This blog features a set of planned activities that we wanted to be personally and directly involved with. When we left, we were very happy.

Goats: It's Cold Out There

Keeping goats inside during nasty weather isn't easy, but it's worth the time! Dealing with sick goats, fever and runny noses isn't fun, so taking precautions makes things much easier.

Tradescantia - A Common Little-Known Wild Food

Nyerges shares his years of experience about a little-known plant, Tradescantia fluminensis, and how it can be used for food. It has apparently never been described as a food plant in U.S.wild food/ethnobotanical literature.

Walking Water

We haul our water from the river - walking water!

Ducks in the High-Occupancy Vehicle Lane

We folded down the back seats in our Subaru wagon, lined the whole back area with a heavy tarp and a thick layer of straw, and headed down to Nash's Delta Farm to catch us some ducks.

Keeping Garden Records

Put together a notebook with your complete garden plan. Here's some tips to get you started.

Dear MOTHER: February/March 2013

Reader letters about killer compost, broody hens, setting out to farm, the beyond-monetary riches of a garden, pollution from nuclear weapons, genetically modified foods, composting meat and fat, and more.

DIY Matches

A piece of copy paper can be transformed into a simple fire lighter.

HOMEGROWN Life: The Farmer Goes Fishing

Coming back to agriculture and the farming life, I think every farmer should spend time as a fisherperson. If that were the case, I have a hard time believing Industrial Agriculture would have ever taken its foothold. Manure runs downhill as they say

HOMEGROWN Life: The Making of a Hugelkultur Bed

Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc.

Raising Chickens: Farming in the Great Depression

This story recounts one father's hard work to help his family survive by raising chickens and farming during the Great Depression. The author also describes his family-owned homemade brooder house, which helped shelter the chickens that provided meat and eggs during hard times.

The Lazy Farmer

I don't know why, but somehow I think of myself as a lazy farmer. Perhaps it's because I know that I'm not a real farmer. Sure, we ate out of the garden all summer and I sold our excess produce at the farmer's market, but gardening is hardly farming.

Pedal Powered Soil Testing

An update on generating electricity with pedal power and which exercise bike we decided on and testing soil for nutrient ratios along with fixing a pair of leaky boots with adhesive and inner tube scrap patch.

Our Little House

The thrill continues living in our handmade house.

Winter Chicken Care

Learn details regarding winter chicken care including ventilation for a cozy chicken house, heat for baby and grown chicks, and recommended poultry books.

Terrace Support Structure and Picking Ripe Mushrooms

An update to the refrigerator root cellar and how the Thermo Cube is keeping it from dipping below the freezing point and how we decided to start a terrace system to make more flat spots in a chicken pasture that's on a hillside that is steep.

Make Your Own Lotion Bars

Claire finds a recipe for hard lotion and makes molded lotion bars to give as Christmas presents.

Ode to a Hand Saw

Ode to our hand saw...why we choose to live without power, and what we've accomplished by hand.

EcoFarm Conference Educates Both Seasoned and Beginning Farmers

The Ecological Farming Association will host the 33rd annual EcoFarm Conference at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, Calif., Jan. 23-26, 2013. The conference will offer more than sixty workshops, as well as the opportunity for eight beginning farmers to win substantial grants.

Goats: It's All In The Names

Often time choosing the right name for your kids is the most difficult part of kidding! Here is a little help on picking out names that are appropriate!

A New Twist On an Old (Chicken) Saddle

This durable, puncture and tear-resistant chicken saddle will protect free-range chickens from pecking, cannibalistic behavior and predators.

Fruit for the Future

Looking ahead to spring, we're using these long days to plan a rootstock order of perennial trees, shrubs, and herbs.

Thinking the Way Animals Do

A horse trainer once said to me, 'Animals don't think, they just make associations.' I responded to that by saying, 'If making associations is not thinking, then I would have to conclude that I do not think.'

Master Nut Cracker

If you have black walnuts to shell, you need a heavy duty nutcracker. The Master Nut Cracker will do the job.

Veggie Lovers: Good Green Salad!

A family meal favorite that was shared with us for years by a beloved aunt. This is one green salad that I crave and never get enough of!

Goats: Cold Weather

Getting prepared for cold weather is quite an undertaking with daylight growing shorter and shorter. Adding to your herd and selling goats takes a lot of planning.

Hatch Your Own Chicks!

Nobody can resist fluffy baby chicks, so what would be better than hatching your own? Let us put your mind at rest and make your first time incubating an enjoyable experience you will want to repeat.

Plumbing Fixtures That Conserve

We have slowly replaced out dated fixtures and the Rialto toilet was the final step in getting more environmentally compliant.

Putting in Windows

again, rushing to beat the weather as we close in our finishing our hand-built cabin

Chicken Incubation Tips

Trying to sum up a few of the lesson learned while figuring out the best way to incubate and hatch cute chicks.

Protecting Fig Trees from Cold and Best Wood Chopping Tool

Protecting the fig tree for the winter felt like putting it to bed for a long sleep. Chopping wood with the Chopper 1 is a thing of joy and beauty and that's no joke. Do it yourself corn bin helped our neighbor keep the racoons out.

Dear MOTHER: December 2012/January 2013

Reader letters about the return on investment from gardening, self-sufficiency in the city, living forever, cheap food, dogs on the homestead and more — plus dispatches from our first-ever International Homesteading Education Month.

Slow Down, Watch

I feel that if we want to connect to our families, to our neighbors and to the people that we love that live in the community around us, we must somehow retrain ourselves to slow down and watch, listen and share, love and care.

Math in the Hen House

Why do we believe that math must be done one workbook page at a time, at the kitchen table? Anyone who’s ever kept chickens can tell you all the math that can be found in the hen house.

Introduce a Rooster to Your Flock

Keeping a rooster with your flock of hens is beneficial but must be done carefully. Here’s how to introduce a rooster to your poultry flock.

HOMEGROWN Life: A Change In Seasons

Dyan writes about the changing season at Bittersweet Farm, and introduces us to the newest member of the flock, a black sheep named Little Man.

Firewood Carrier

Short sonotube rounds can be used as kindling carriers. 

Free Fire Starters

Dry pine cones make excellent kindling for starting a fire.

Keeping Pet Worms

Raising worms for the compost material they make, vermicomposting, is the easiest indoor pet experience.

Earth Pond Troubleshooting Guide

This quick guide offers solutions to earth pond upkeep problems such as algae, erosion, low water level, fishkill, flooding, stagnant water, and siltation.

Weighing a Bee Hive and Improving Dielectric Hygiene

Orchard soil health is a topic that gets covered as well as the new asparagus beetle management system and how it seems to be working better than we could have hoped for. Dielectric grease to prevent rust and corrosion on the golf cart battery post.

Visitors and Company

Ed and Laurie struggle with making time for visitors while dealing with all of the daily business and homesteading tasks.