Homesteading and Livestock
Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

What is Bottle Jaw?

Many goat owners are well aware of the dangers that internal parasites can cause for their herd.  The most common internal parasite is the barber pole worm.  These worms will chew on the digestive tract linings and create bleeding.  The worms then consume the blood that spills out from the wound.  In small numbers, these worms aren't really harmful to the goat.  In large numbers, they can consume so much blood that the goat's body cannot keep up, causing anemia.

If left untreated, anemia can become severe.  Severe cases of anemia are often accompanied by bottle jaw.

What is Bottle Jaw?

Bottle jaw is a term used to describe an area of edema under the chin of a goat.  Edema is intracellular fluid, or simply swelling.  It's not infection and would run clear if drained.  Bottle jaw is not a condition, but a symptom of an underlying problem.

You may notice that a goat with bottle jaw tends to worsen throughout the day.  The swelling will decrease overnight and may seem to have disappeared from the day before.  As the day goes on, the swelling will return.

Bottle jaw appears in severely anemic goats.  If your goat has bottle jaw then it needs treatment as soon as possible.


Bottle jaw is not an illness itself but it does indicate that there is an underlying issue with your goat.  The underlying issue is usually anemia and can be caused by several things.

The most common cause of anemia in goats is the barber pole worm.  If your goat has bottle jaw, your first reaction should be to treat them for worms.  You can use a wormer medication such as Ivomec, Cydectin or Prohibit.  Use a FAMACHA score to determine the level of anemia in your goat.  Goats with bottle jaw will usually score high on the FAMACHA test, but it's a good idea to check them and keep a record of it.

There are a few other internal parasites that can cause anemia and bottle jaw.  However, these are typically accompanied by other symptoms as well.  Scours and fever can indicate an internal parasite that is not the barber pole worm. 

Bottle jaw can be caused by a copper deficiency or a copper toxicity.  Make sure that your goats have ample copper from a goat mineral mix.  Do not feed your goats a goat and sheep mineral mix as the copper will not be in the correct proportions.  It's a good idea to have your soil tested as well to see how much copper is present in the soil naturally.  Sometimes other minerals in the soil can prevent copper from bring used properly.  For example, if your soil has high levels of molybdenum, your goat may not get enough copper from the soil, even if it is present in large amounts.  Molybdenum can block copper from being absorbed by the goat's body.

Traumatic injury can create an anemic goat.  If your goat is anemic from an injury, you'll be able to tell.  Don't worry about worming them but focus on healing them and preventing infection. 

Treating Bottle Jaw

There isn't a way to treat bottle jaw.  To get rid of it, you'll need to determine the cause of bottle jaw and treat the cause. 

Start by worming your goat to make sure that they aren't anemic due to barber pole worms.  This is the most common cause of bottle jaw and is more than likely the cause.  You can supplement your goat's recovery with injectable B-12, Nutri-Drench for goats and Red Cell.  These supplements will help restore much needed vitamins and minerals to your goat so that their body can work on rebuilding lost blood cells.

If your goat does not show signs of recovering after a few days then you'll want to have your veterinarian check them out.  Your vet can test fecal samples for various parasites and run blood work tests to rule out any diseases. 

Staying on top of your goat's health is key.  Check for anemia often using the FAMACHA score system.  Don't worm your goats as a preventative throughout the year.  Worm them as they need it to prevent parasites that are resistant to worming medication.  If your goat is showing signs of feeling ill, check them out.  Goats don't often act sick until they are pretty bad off, which means they'll need treatment quickly.

Shelby DeVore is an animal expert with a B.S. and M.S. in Animal and Dairy Science. Shelby has over 20+ years of experience working with animals and livestock. She lives in West Tennessee on a small farm with her husband, two children, dairy cows, goats,turkeys, too many chickens to count, two farm dogs and three tuxedo cats. You can read more from her on her homesteading blog Farminence.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

When Age and Illness Invade the Homestead

 resting in the garden

A bench in the garden provides a handy place to rest and rehydrate.

You love living close to Mother Earth, digging in the dirt, hand making gifts, building your own structures. So, short of chucking it all in, how do you cope when long-term illness or a chronic health condition, even just aging, becomes a factor? Neither traditional nor modern homesteaders want to throw in the towel. And it’s hard to ask for help—assuming help is even available. What’s a person to do?

Our family has had to face both age an illness on the homestead, so we’ve been thinking about options for when we can no longer do what we love, at least the way we used to do them. Here are some ideas we’ve come up with.

Reassess and Prioritize

Now that you’re older, perhaps some of the tasks on your long To Do list aren’t as critical as they once were. If you have to make a lifestyle change, which jobs could you scratch off, or at least modify? Yes, you need a leak-proof roof, but perhaps that new greenhouse isn’t really a necessity. Or maybe you don’t need so much acreage, farmland, or garden space at this point in your life. Is it time to consider going small?

Once you’re whittled down your list, take a second look. Which tasks are most pressing and which can stand to wait awhile? Which ones are wants rather than needs. Needs go to the top of the list.

While you’re at at, consider this. There is always too much work to do, and we tend to focus on all that lies in front of us. It can get depressing, especially if you’ve recently found yourself unable to keep the pace you’re used to. Instead, take a look around you—and behind you. Think of all the things you have accomplished, all the goals you’ve met, the things you’ve done that you or others once thought impossible. Realizing all the great things you have achieved may make it possible to go easier on yourself now.

Adapt and Compensate

Look for new ways to achieve your homesteading goals. Love gardening, but back, hip, or knee problems keep you from bending or kneeling? Consider making, buying, or asking someone to build some elevated beds. Container gardening on a deck or anywhere near the back door simplifies gardening chores, too.

Look for ways to do less. Instead of an exhausting all-day canning spree, preserve food in smaller, more manageable batches. If you have animals, maybe it’s time to downsize, if not eliminate, that aspect of your homestead.

Where you can’t reduce your workload, look for efficiencies. It might mean finding some tools to help you do what you used to do by hand, a log splitter for instance.

One thing old bones don’t need is to fall. Make time to be sure your garden paths and other work areas are free of rocks, hose lines, or other objects which might contribute to a fall. Add grab bars, not just to your bathroom, but anywhere a balancing aid might help you accomplish your goals.

Take It Slow and Steady

Sometimes, it’s more about loss of stamina and endurance than total inability. Rethink how you go about your chores. Take breaks. Make it easier still by installing some sort of seating near your work stations. Use that time to plan, meditate, or simply enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor.

This is a good time to rehydrate, too. Dehydration diminishes both your mental and physical ability to perform, so keep a supply of drinking water at hand. After a bit of rest and contemplation, perhaps you’ll be re-energized enough for the next chore.

Farm It Out

If you just can’t do it yourself anymore, but you have a great gardening space, contact your local extension service, the sustainability department of a nearby college, or a food pantry. Perhaps you can arrange a deal where students, interns, or others maintain your garden, giving you a share of the harvest.

You may well have something to barter for services you can no longer perform with ease. It might be garden bounty or firewood. Do you have a child or grandchild who would trade chores for sewing or knitting lessons? Can you offer living quarters in exchange for labor? That would be a perfect deal for the right college student.

A neighbor teen might appreciate a mowing or window washing job. If there’s a college nearby, there’s probably a student employment office where you could place an ad for a part-time handyperson. It will cost less than hiring a seasoned professional.

Use Homesteading Skills in a New Way

Yes, there are things we lose with age, but we gain a lot, too, most notably experience and wisdom. Even if you can’t do the physical work anymore, you can use all you’ve learned over the years to help others. Consider teaching, writing a book or blog, or hosting hands-on workshops.

Perhaps you could organize new versions of the old-fashioned quilting bee or barn raising, calling on friends to join you for an assembly-line style workday, whether it’s making holiday gifts or cleaning up your property. You do the chores that fit your ability level and let others handle the more physically demanding work. Next time, they’ll host and you can return the favor—again at your ability level. The added bonus of social interaction is always a plus for mental health.

It’s not easy to face the challenges of age or illness, but sometimes circumstances force us to take stock. What matters most to you at this stage of life? What can you afford? What can you forgo without too much grief? When you are able to focus on what you can do and not the things that are no longer possible, the future holds new hope and possibilities.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here.You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Products for a Homestead Home Office

KeySmart Urban21 Commuter Backpack

I’m always exploring new products that will save us money, make our homestead more efficient, our business more profitable, our home and office environment healthier, or become a little more resilient to the next thing nature might throw our way. My son, Liam Kivirist, and I regularly cover technology for emergency preparedness, often discovered during new product launches at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held every January.

The products below are new additions to our Inn Serendipity homestead, with a focus on our increasingly mobile life and home office.

Protecting our Technology with the Urban21 Commuter Backpack from KeySmart

No matter whether you’re on the move around town or the farm, or need a smaller “bug-out” bag that’s designed to last in extreme conditions or during emergencies, KeySmart’s Urban21 Commuter Backpack with its super tough ballistic nylon fabric and plentiful padding should keep your portable electronics equipment, cell phone and other essentials safe, secure, protected and dry. The two larger pockets in the inside are for a laptop (up to 15-inch) and a tablet.

Since the Urban21 Commuter Backpack has waterproof front and hardshell pockets, plus water-resistant nylon exterior, I often bring it into the growing fields with me, using one pocket for my tablet and the other for my clipboard containing my growing field notes. Since we have a WiFi signal that’s bounced into our field, we can now even stream NPR to our headphones while weeding (the headphones are also stored in the backpack when not in use).

Most homesteaders and farmers are constantly on the go and increasingly wired or connected to cellular in order to take product orders from customers or monitor the output of their solar electric system like we do with our 10.8 kW PV system. So, technology is almost always on and within reach. This comfortable, padded backpack produces a way to keep all of our gear organized and protected wherever we might be. There’s even a hardshell top compartment for fragile items like glasses, cellphone or flashlight. Their Professional Bundle Urban21 version comes with rain cover, pocket organizer, chest strap and water bottle. The only design addition I could think of after trying it out is for KeySmart to add a rigid bottom to the backpack to better protect electronics inside from a sudden, jolting drop.

When we’re on the move, especially into the big city when the chances of hanging out with a potentially malicious hacker at a coffee house go up, the Urban21 Commuter Backpack has RFID-blocking microfiber compartments to keep our data safe. Given the number of RFID chips in use today, including in some credit cards and a US Passport, it’s just one more security concern, whether we’re a prepper or not.

Home Office Air Cleaning System with the Swiffer Continuous Clean

Since we cool our 100-year-old farmhouse the old-fashioned way by opening the windows at night and use fans during the day, plenty of pollen and dust from the outside air might pass through the screens. To help improve the indoor air quality in our home office and help cut down on some of the allergens that might aggravate my wife’s allergies or asthma, we been using the Swiffer Continuous Clean Air Cleaning System.

You can see proof of what the filter captures in the triple layer filtration material after only a month or so of use. The replaceable filters should be changed about once a month. After using the unit, we noticed it helped cut down on the time we had to set aside for regular dusting.

Not to be confused with the more comprehensive and expensive air purifiers on the market, the Swiffer Continuous Clean Air Cleaning System is more of an air cleaner and operates with a super quiet fan that pulls the room air through the filter material that collects the pollen, dust and pet dander. It uses less energy to operate than an average nightlight. The best part: my wife seems to be sneezing a little less since we starting using it.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the sun. Both have been speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, a 10.8 kW solar power station and millions of ladybugs.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Five Winters, Part 2: Two Conscientious Objectors Find Struggle and Salvation in Their 1970s Move Back to the Land


Introduction by Kerridwen Harvey

In 1969, Jocelyn “Josh” Harvey, born in the American Midwest, moved to a farm outside of Barry's Bay, Ontario, with her husband, David Harvey, who, ever the punster, dubbed the farm Gopherwood, and their one-year-old daughter Kerridwen. There, the two former full-time English professors who taught in upstate New York, embarked on a politically motivated project of "living off the land" — or attempting to do so.

Part 1 sets the context and recounts the author’s struggles through her first winter on the farm.

Spring Brings Food-Foraging Relief

When spring finally arrived, as slowly as it can when you are desperately hankering to eat fresh greens, we did a crash course in wild foods and discovered which of these were most appetizing. Sheep’s sorrel, winter cress and fiddleheads were up first, and are quite good. Plantain and burdock came next, and, when we could find them, morel mushrooms were sensationally tasty.

None of the other greens, we thought, were as good as young dandelions, picked well before they blossom. These we had in such abundance that we could easily eat them cooked or in a salad twice a day, in fact, that we relish them now even when money allows us to buy salad greens all winter long.

Euell Gibbons cites many excellent dandelion recipes in Stalking the Wild Asparagus. He translates the Latin name of the dandelion as “the official remedy for disorders,” with good reason. Dandelions have more calcium per cup than milk, they are fairly strong in vitamin C, higher in iron than virtually any other plant source, and tremendous providers of vitamin A — in all cases better for you than spinach. And they are surprisingly subtle and wonderful cooked or raw, if you pick them before blossoming and cut them properly, just below ground level, so that you get the crown (the best eating portion) and can clear off the root and shake out dead grass clinging to the leaves.

A year later we were to spend a good month depending heavily on dandelions, for though we had put in a successful garden the previous summer, we ran out of vegetables in the spring and had to survive on eggs, milk, cheese, potatoes, and dandelions for four weeks. I can’t help but find the dandelion a miraculous vegetable — and the fact that it is weeded or sprayed in certain communities is a terrific insult to its remarkable qualities.

An Expanding Garden, Black Flies, and How to Store the Harvest

The second summer we had every possible incentive to put in a large garden. The plot we dug and seeded was about 100 feet by 35 feet. Each following year for three years we added about 25 square feet to this initial garden. Our soil was moderately welcoming, sandy loam, certainly tillable, but filled with Scotch grass and countless rocks, small, medium and immense, and pieces of the formidable Canadian Shield thrust upward.

We had no tractor in those days, so the whole patch, after being plowed, had to be slowly cleared by hand, in the height of what in our parts is “the black fly season”. There is probably no other way to deal with that damnable Canadian nuisance, unless you either stay in the city or go to the country dressed in the Eskimo’s remarkable bug-season attire, than to have to put a garden in.

If you’ve chosen to go for a walk in the woods when the Canadian spring finally comes, you’re likely to find yourself turning red, itchy, and impendingly bulbous and grotesque — and run home as fast as possible. Why not? On a walk one expects friendly treatment. In a subsistence farm garden, one expects, by God, the worst, and the worst, therefore, is relatively painless. Anyway, when else can you put in a garden except at the height of the black fly season?

All summer long our neighbouring Polish farmers, who had been born and raised in the vicinity, wore their green shirts buttoned at wrist and neck, heavy work pants, and boots (and, I always suspected, long johns as well) — their version of Eskimo clothing. We must have looked like city dandies to them, for, no matter how thick the flies, we couldn’t bring ourselves to such uncomfortable extremes of self-protection.  In fact, we got by without even using bug spray until our fifth year, when a grant gave us a good deal more money — we softened measurably — and the bugs became more bothersome.

The garden grew something of almost everything. The exceptions were chancy plants like melons, peppers, eggplant and artichokes — non-essentials, really, and even they might mature another year in a plastic greenhouse. We concentrated on potatoes and green vegetables, especially several sorts of lettuce (Romaine, escarole, chicory and leaf lettuce, all much more interesting and nutritious than iceberg), but rural Ontario is perfectly suitable also for crops in the cabbage family, and so far we have never had any problem getting plenty of warmer-weather vegetables like tomatoes, corn, squashes and pumpkins.

One year we harvested 141 winter squashes and pumpkins, and the real problem was how to give them away. Some of our best discoveries were accidental, though other people had made the same discoveries much earlier. Brussels sprouts make fine eating if frozen in the field and harvested when they are to be eaten. Parsnips and carrots overwintered in the garden are especially sweet. That unusual, delicious plant kale, which rivals dandelions nutritionally, keeps firm and crunchy long after it is heaped with straw and covered with snow. We dug it out when we needed it in mid-winter, and it kept us in green salads or fresh cooked vegetables for months.

Our reading introduced us to the marvelous weed every gardener knows at least by sight, lambs’ quarters or pigweeds, which come up with dull green, nearly four-sided leaves, often with a purplish cast on the underside when young. They belong to the spinach and beet family and are a bit like spinach in flavour, thought milder. Nutritionists claim they are highly valuable greens. We grew to eating them in salads when they were no more than four inches high and cooking them when they grew larger. Frozen they were more luscious than any other green. Our younger child, John, born while we lived on the farm, ate them pureed all during his first summer and thrived on them.

Abundance at Last

With the garden produce frozen, canned or dried and with our new-found affluence in the shape of a hundred-dollar monthly check, we found the next winters more comfortable. Our list of stores read like a page from an old farmhouse cookbook: turnip and beet greens, Swiss chard, collards, kale and lambs’ quarters; canned tomatoes and pickles; homemade jams; frozen and canned apple sauce, berries and rhubarb.

A few years later, when we had built a root cellar, it held potatoes, carrots covered with sand, beets and turnips, cabbage and Chinese cabbage with their roots planted in soil, such wine or brandied liqueur as was “making”, and maple syrup put up in old sherry bottles.

In the house there were dried herbs and teas and dried mushrooms Dave gathered from the spruce forests nearby as he learned how to distinguish edible mushrooms and found out which were the most delicious. The chanterelles and boletus mushrooms, which grew in great quantities in our region if the season is fairly wet, excel store-bought mushrooms as much as wild strawberries excel the pithy, dried-out cultivated kind, but of course they required close attention and a great deal of patience to learn and to find.

We continued to ration our meat-buying parsimoniously. Perhaps twice a month we ate meat, aside from an even more occasional chicken, too old for egg-laying and vastly in need of long stewing in a pot heavily laced with garlic and herbs. Once a friend of ours moved in to the valley and decided to raise goats and a milk cow, we had fresh milk as well, and invaluable experience, because they were a rare, almost inimitable combination of gourmets and health food experts.

That combination once seemed implausible: between Gourmet magazine and soybean cookery there was nothing in common. The health food buff scorned gourmet cooking as decadent — all those wasteful calories, that unnecessary display, that overcooking, all those sauce disguises. The gourmet scarcely acknowledged the existence of most health food cooks, those people who seemed to think if you boiled all kinds of fresh vegetables in water you a decent soup, and not just vegetable water, at the end.

But in the last years I seem to have noticed a change in these attitudes. People shopping for wheat germ and mung beans are increasingly likely to be fine cooks. They are usually not wealthy but often solidly middle-class. They are interested in health as well as economy and good food. (Unfortunately, it is precisely among the poor that nutritional information is least distributed, so that the people who need most to learn how to budget and yet eat well have no ready informant at hand.) 

Our cooking at the farm came to resemble a combination, harmonious on the whole, of instincts from both “gourmet” and health food traditions. On the one hand, our foods were as fresh and nutritious as possible, and our use of recipes was pretty eclectic: If we didn’t have an ingredient, chances were we couldn’t afford it, so it had to be omitted or something else substituted for it. If the missing ingredient was an herb or an onion, the substitution was easy — you ended up with a slightly different dish, but the difference might be appealing and wasn’t likely to be entirely unsuitable.

Most of our soups we called, ambiguously, “garbage soup” because they were concocted of yesterday’s leftovers. Some of them were barely acceptable, some of them were delicious. (Even the delicious ones, alas, were unrepeatable.) In times past, I have also ransacked cookbooks for eggless, milkless, or butterless recipes and found or devised them. None was ever very satisfying, but in needy times one’s demands lessen. And one becomes frantically “imaginative”: I have made cookies with leftover marmalade when I had no sugar, with extra flour in place of eggs, with skim milk and butter in place of cream, but my strangest concoctions usually substituted wild greens for cultivated ones.

The most outlandish was Dandelion Omelet (in place of spinach); it was a deadly mistake, but lambs’ quarters, we found, made a lovely substitute in the same dish. Like all subsistence farmers, we specialized in certain foods too when they were in season, sometimes eating so much of them we became satiated.

I remember once going to a communal party of “country freaks” during the late fall. Everyone there had brought an apple dish – there must have been fifteen or twenty of them, apple dumplings, apple cobbler, apple jelly, baked apples, apple bread, apple muffins, and several apple pies. I couldn’t touch any of them. All I could think of was how dearly I would love a hot dog and a good cold potato salad.

Eating Well Cheaply Using Traditional Kitchen Skills

As we gradually got our feet under us — learned how to grow food and how much to grow, how to preserve foods, what we had to buy for our satisfaction as much as health — we were able to eat very well indeed. We cooked all our own baked goods, made yogurt and cottage cheese, and sprouted beans, of course, but we also learned how to make homemade noodles and tortillas and flat breads.

The pasta machine I bought from an Italian grocery store for under $30, was worth its weight in gold, because we all loved Italian food, and noodles homemade are as superior to “bought’ noodles as homemade bread it to store bread. The machine pays for itself very quickly, too, for your need only 2 cups of flour and two or three eggs for a batch of spaghetti or lasagna that feeds a family of four. The tortillas, put together from nothing but corn flour, wheat flour and water, allowed up to relish beans in tacos or enchiladas instead of despising them, and again, made highly nutritious and economical foods.

Eating well cheaply means, of course, cooking a great deal more than most people so far prefer, but we may all have to learn how to do some fundamental cooking if the prices of foods and the world food situation continue to deteriorate. What can a city cook learn from the country person’s experience?

First, of course, if garden space is available, even a little of it, plant some seeds, whatever you love most or find most costly to buy. Even a small plot can appreciably decrease food costs during the summer, and the bigger the plot the better, providing you can take care of it and preserve what you don’t use immediately.

Second, buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season, in place of more expensive canned or processed foods. If you are willing to go a bit further, investigate bulk-buying of flour, oil, rice, etc. from cooperatives or health food stores. In bulk these places are often cheaper than supermarkets and have more nutritious products available.

Stretch your meat-buying by combining small amounts of meat or dairy products with pasta, rice or bread. The animal proteins supplement the deficiencies in grain protein, and make a whole protein count that is larger than the sum of its parts. Such recent cookbooks as Diet for a Small Planet and Recipes for a Small Planet from Ballantine and The Meatless Oxfam Cookbook from Oxfam Canada, explain how to obtain a proper protein allowance without meat. Look into Euell Gibbons and other wild food experts for plants which may be available in waste places near your home or in the country. Outside my city apartment as I write is an ugly vacant lot which has at least six types of edible plants growing wild.

The difference between a costly habit of eating and a more economical one often depends on whether you invest money or time in your food. Most patterns of modern living require an investment of money, but not time, and they depend on our belief that time is the one commodity we don’t have (partly because we are spending the time earning money!). For a city person earning a salary, this cycle is not completely escapable — but many of us, men as well as women, do have time, and using it to grow a garden, bake a loaf of bread, or prepare a real meal can be a thoroughly exhilarating experience.

Jocelyn “Josh” Harvey was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and accomplished arts administrator and advocate, working for many years at the Canada Council for the Arts. This story is provided to MOTHER EARTH NEWS by Josh’s daughter, Kerridwen Harvey.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Remote Living vs Human Interaction


Why Live Remotely? 

Reasons vary why people choose to live remotely but a common thread is they want to feel less crowded and infringed upon by people, regulations and noise/visual pollution. They want to be more self sufficient and allowed to enjoy their privacy. To be away from slamming car doors, noise pollution, sirens and lawn mowers noisy neighbors and such.  If you live remotely where then do you go for neighbors and friends?  

Not Dependent On Others?

Living remotely and being semi or totally isolated from people works for a while but sooner or later those who separate themselves still need human interaction. Some self isolate because they want to be more independent but sooner or later everyone needs others in one way or another. If you truly live remotely human contact is more spread out and scarce. Sometimes it takes effort to connect with others in remote living situations. 

Choosing Friends: 

We have always trust people even though some just wanted nothing more than to learn enough about us to gossip, whisper or make up stories. Some just wanted to use us or take advantage of us. We quickly learned that friendliness was not the same as friendship. I don’t believe this is uncharacteristic or unique and is human behavior that permeates most communities.  

Coping With Gossip Mills:

We therefore watch those who come across as exceptionally friendly more closely and scrutinized their behavior over time. If they gossiped about others to us they most likely were doing the same about us. Discerning who can be a good friend or who just wants to use us can be very difficult. As a child I remember my mom being part of a ladies group that met regularly and sometimes at our house. They used to work on projects, play games and just talk  but I never once heard them gossip. They helped each other when needs arose and I think that is the way life should be. 

What Constitutes A Friend: 

I recall studying Aristotle in school and his observations on friends has remained with me over the years. It was Aristotle’s position that friendship fell into three areas. One, friends of pleasure - as long as people were pleasurable to each other the friendship lasted. Two, friends of utility - friendship based on what they can do for each other. Three, friendship of mutual admiration - friends who truly admire each other and seek the best for each other. Those who just like being around each other, flaws and all. Of those three types of friends only the third is a lasting and truly rewarding friendship. 

No Sense Running From Bad People: 

There is no sense in running from “bad” people because it seems that there is no safe place to stop and catch your breath. Sometimes it is best to stay where you are, especially if you love remote living like we do, and adjust yourself to your circumstances. People are people regardless of where you go and we now meet new people with skepticism until we can determine which of the three types they are. 

What To Do: 

So where can socialization be found if you live remote?  We find it in various places. We have a few close friends within our small community because the politics in the community has separated people into different groups based upon numbers 1 and 2 of Aristotle’s three levels of friendship. We tend to avoid types one and two. Thanks to social media and technology we are able to keep channels open with friends whom we have known over the years. We can do Facetime or see each other on line and that satisfies most of our need for human interaction. Social media is a great resource for those living remotely

Other Sources: 

The internet keeps us in touch with family, old reliable friends and newly acquired friends. People from as far back as grade school, coworkers, people who share the same interests, church friends, and mostly people whom we have known over the years and who we know we can trust and rely on. We have established friends on social media that have proven to be true friends. For example the photos of our framed family in this blog were sent to us by very good friends we met online with these gifts coming as a complete surprise. They are friends of the third type as listed by Aristotle. 

A Good Balance: 

Having this interaction with people who we have known and can trust on a regular basis works for us and fulfills our need to interact with others. Our very closest friends are our dogs who always accept us for who we are and love us unconditionally without being judgemental. It is indeed rare that we find people with the qualities our canine family possess but we have been fortunate to have found a few. 

Advantages To A Remote Lifestyle:

One of the obvious advantages is that there are usually less people so there are fewer people to interact with. We have also found that when good people cease to associate with the gossips and rumor mongers they ultimately lack material for their poor habits. They then only have each other and their social circles dwindle because they lack the power of gossip and rumor mongering. Another advantage is that life lived remote has less stress. No traffic jams, no loud noises, no demands to adhere to or rigid expectations from others and so forth.  


Remote living is hard enough but when unethical or troublesome people infiltrate your circle of friends it becomes even more difficult. People usually live remotely to avoid stress and allowing people into your circle of friends who provide drama/stress are to be avoided in my estimation. It is an asset to have good friends who will be there when you need them and in order to nurture those kinds of friends it is important to also be that kind of friend in return. 

Living remote in the mountains presents its daily challenges and to have those who you can call on for help when needed (and they can call on you) is a valuable asset. 

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their remote lifestyle go to their blog site

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Nutritional Benefits of Feeding Pumpkin to Chickens

Pumpkin Seeds Close Up 

Fall decor is one of my favorite things.  I love seeing all of the pumpkins, funky squash, gourds, mums and scarecrows that are displayed this time of year. I also don't like to feel wasteful, so I like knowing that when I'm done with my fall pumpkins, I can feed them to my chickens to give them a nutritional treat that they will love.

Chickens will consume an entire pumpkin, from the flesh to the 'guts' and seeds. They will even eat the skin if it's not too thick or too tough. Pumpkins are full of nutrients that your chickens need to be healthy.

Nutritional Benefits of the Fleshy Parts

Chickens go crazy for pumpkin, probably because it's so good for them.The flesh of pumpkins is full of vitamins A, B and C. It's also packed with zinc and potassium. All of these are key nutrients that your birds need, and may even be deficient in!

Vitamin A can help regenerate cells and boost a chicken's immune system.  Chickens are usually deficient in vitamin A, which is not good considering it can prevent proper mucus production.  Lack of mucus can lead to dry eye and even respiratory problems. Do you notice frequent blood spots on your egg yolks? One or two occasionally is normal, but if it's common, you may have hens with vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin B is a key player in proper energy metabolism, so it affects almost all of the body systems.  Growth, development and egg production are affected by vitamin B. It's also crucial for proper embryo and chick development.  A deficiency of vitamin B can lead to hatching problems (due to poor embryo development) as well as kidney and liver diseases.

Chickens can produce vitamin C, so it's rarely talked about. However, it's important that chickens have plenty of vitamin C during times of stress. Stress can occur during times of growth, a sitting hen, flock changes or illness. Supplementing vitamin C can help your chickens fight heat stress and can prevent water belly.

Zinc is especially important for developing embryos. It's a good idea to provide zinc to laying hens that you want to hatch eggs from about two weeks before they start laying the eggs that you want to hatch.  This will give them a good supply of zinc to pass on to the embryos to ensure proper development. Deficiency of zinc can cause bone deformities and stunted growth.

Potassium is also key in embryo and chick development. Provide a potassium supplement about two weeks before you collect eggs to hatch. Potassium has also been shown to help chickens survive during times of extreme heat.  If you have hens that lay reddish brown eggs, potassium supplements will help to darken the red in the eggs.

Nutrients in the Seeds

Don't think that pumpkin seeds are too large for your chickens to eat.  They will eat them and they can digest them as long as they have plenty of grit. If you feed pumpkin seeds, it's a good idea to make sure that they have access to the grit that they'll need. You can feed fresh or dried pumpkin seeds to your chickens to give them a boost of vitamin E and zinc.

Vitamin E is a key component in a healthy immune and neurological system. Vitamin E can help to boost the immune system and can protect against coccidiosis, E. coli and bronchitis. Deficiency of vitamin E can lead to wry neck and even severe neurological problems.

Pumpkin seeds contain zinc in the thin shell membrane that is under the shell of the seed. Don't try to peel the shell off of the seeds before giving them to your chickens.  When you remove the shell, you'll also remove the membrane that contains zinc.

Feeding your chickens pumpkin is a good way to give them nutrients that they need in a treat that they'll love.  Are you feeding your chickens pumpkin yet?

Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on her homesteading blog Farminence. Find all of Shelby's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Reviewing the American Felling Axe by Hults Bruk

axe in the woods 

During the construction of our second cabin, hand tools have been an integral part of the process. Sledgehammers, wedges, and axes have always remained some of the most used items throughout our experiences, especially when it comes to dropping trees for building or for firewood. However, we've learned that the phrase is very true in telling folks that you get the kind of quality you pay for, and we experienced some time back a cheaper axe with a fiberglass handle breaking on us during use. When you're miles away from a store, there's no returning that axe.


We recently had the opportunity, however, to test and review an axe crafted by Hults Bruk. Hults Bruk is a company founded in Sweden in 1697, with experience in forging for over 322 years. This in itself is impressive to me, personally, as it tells me that they've been dedicated to the same quality for that long. Included with our axe was a very informative miniature booklet detailing the history of Hults Bruk, how the axes are made, and very important care tips including how to re-handle them.

The axe we were given the chance to work with is the American Felling Axe, a signature axe crafted in partnership with survival expert David ("Dave") Canterbury. Also included with the axe is another miniature booklet describing who Mr. Canterbury is, and how to use the axe properly. In total, the axe weighs 5 lbs with a 3.5 lb head weight, and comes with a 32" American Hickory wood handle with a MSRP of $214. Designed to fell trees comfortably true to its name, the American Felling Axe also is meant for bucking, limbing, and splitting as well.

information booklets came with axe 

First Impression

Upon removing the American Felling Axe from the box, I immediately took notice of the head of the axe, and how the marks were clear to show this is truly hand-crafted. My husband has always used axes around our homestead, dropping the very first trees to clear our build site years back with only an axe, a sledgehammer, and a wedge. He removed the leather carrying sheath, examining the edge first thing and commenting that it had a sharp, clean edge to it. It was nice and balanced in the hand, and lightweight enough for myself to carry comfortably as well. There always remains concern for a wooden handle on an axe, but I believe proper use and storage would prolong the life of it.

 closeup of felling axe


My husband and I had the ability to put this axe through multiple tests with its recommended uses. After felling a small Oak tree, my husband bucked the log swiftly and we moved on to lopping the limbs with the axe. As mentioned, it was lightweight enough that I was able to limb with it as well. Because this was a fresh log and we wanted to let it dry out before processing for firewood, the axe was instead carried to the wood pile where seasoned logs were waiting to be split. It split through medium-sized firewood hunks with ease, and made it through knots on the inside of the wood where splitting mauls in the past have had trouble breaking through.


I believe it would make a great companion tool even for those who use chainsaws, saving the user gas by limbing with this axe. If you have the ability, this wooden handle is beneficial in that you can replace it in the future. For those who are survivalists, it is lightweight enough to be packed easily while on the move and serve you while in the woods. While it may be a bit heavy and large to be considered a camp axe, but a bit too light for those used to a heavier felling axe, this is a happy medium in that it can be a multi-purpose tool.

As a whole, our impression of the American Felling Axe has been a positive one, and we look forward to putting it through more work. The craftsmanship of Hults Bruk is evident, and the sharpness of the axe was still there even after multiple uses. If you're looking for a quality axe to process wood on the homestead, or pack for survival and camping, give the American Felling Axe by Hults Bruk a try.

 bucking with the axe


View online: American Felling Axe - Hults Bruk
Head Weight: 3.5 lbs
Total Weight: 5 lbs
Handle Type: American Hickory wood
Handle Length: 32"
MSRP: $214

Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building their own log cabin and milling their own lumber, along with raising heirloom crops in the Spring and tanning furs during the Winter. Read all of Fala's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

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