Mother Earth News Blogs >

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

Using A Misting System


What Is A Misting System?

Most people invest in a misting system to cool off in hot weather. A misting system will decrease the temperature by up to 30 degrees through a fine water mist that cools as it sprays over you. Misting systems are popular at theme parks, community parks and other social events where people will be outdoors in the heat and need to cool down. Misting systems are reasonably priced for the individual home/land owner also. A pressurized system can be more costly and perhaps better suited for commercial users.. A home misting system takes water from a garden hose with normal domestic pressure and forces water through  ⅜” tubing and then out through the misting heads which further reduces the water to a mist where it disperses in the air. Misting systems can run as low as forty dollars or for the more sophisticated pressure systems several hundred dollars.

Other Uses

A few years ago we had a wildfire audit by a professional wildfire expert who noticed in other parts of the country he had encountered homes that survived wildfires by using a misting system to keep wooden exposed parts of homes damp. They are not a fail safe or quick fix system nor do they replace the conventional means of protecting structures like removing any combustible material a safe perimeter from the structure. They are a device that will dampen combustible exposed wood if conditions are right. Most wildfires are amplified by wind and wind will also blow mist way from its intended purpose so if a mist system is used the possibility of wind should be considered. The nozzles in the system we have are adjustable and allow for a fine mist or heavier mist.

Is A Misting System Practical? 

When the misting system was described to me I immediately saw the practicality of such a system but recognized it was just one tool in what needs to be a full arsenal in wildfire protection. Due to circumstances or application it may or may not work but I concluded that it was a reasonably priced tool that should be available if needed. I am told that a wildfire can send hot embers up to a mile ahead of the main fire. A misting system that is adjustable in volume and direction may help in such an  event as long distance embers. The system we selected can direct mist up or down and also the volume of water or mist emitted.

Other Benefits

A misting system once installed only needs minimal maintenance. The actual misting heads are easily removed so when the temperatures turn cold they can be removed and stored inside. Also a misting system does not drain a well of its content because it uses less water to operate. I have heard others say they will use their garden hose or a water sprinkler to fight a wildfire. While that may work it will exhaust the domestic well content much faster than a mist system. A mist system will run for days turning very little water into a mist, therefore using less water and providing longer protection. If left in place the mist heads need to be soaked in a lime dissolver like white vinegar if your well has any minerals in it before it is used each year. If using the water hose system the lines should  also be flushed out before use each year to eliminate debris in the lines or insects that may have made the lines their home. Since water - even mist - is heavier than air we installed our line 7’ from deck level to wet the house front and also the deck.


I have concluded that any tool respective of how effective is worth having if you live in a heavily wooded area remotely. We have a backup system wherein we keep two 55 gallon drums full of water with a hand pump on each if needed. I would not recommend a mist system as a primary deterrent to a wildfire but consider having one installed as an excellent supplement to assist in keeping embers from sparking new fires. It also can be used on very hot days to cool off in the refreshing mist. The photos included in this blog are photos taken by myself of our system.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lifestyle in their small cabin in a remote area where they live with their three German Shepherd Dogs go

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.

Pioneering Self-reliance in Fredericksburg, Texas: Part 1

woman holding canned vegetables

Just 124 miles from the Mother Earth News Fair held in Belton, Texas, is Fredericksburg, Texas, an idyllic and bustling small town that serves as a testament to the pioneering spirit of the West and hard-scrabble determination of the German immigrants who originally settled these 2,000 square miles of Texas’ Hill Country.

“Back in 1846, a group of 120 folks first came from Germany to settle this area, buying a package that included passage to Texas and land on which to farm,” explains Ernie Loeffler, President of the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau. “What was unique about this organized movement of people here is they had a vision to recreate a traditional German village in the middle of Texas, one in which families farmed on rural acreage and then came into town on weekends to do their shopping and attend church.”

We can draw much inspiration and learning from these early German homesteaders. Despite multiple setbacks along the journey to establishing their new lives in Texas – from the company that sold them this package not following through on expectations to dealing with sickness and adjusting to a new geography -- these persevering pioneers forged ahead, eventually creating a thriving community which you can still experience, savor and learn from today.

This is the first of a series of articles covering the back-to-the-land spirit found here and emerging food travel scene not to be missed.

cowboy in fredericksburg texas 

Self-reliance and Pioneering Spirit

Fredericksburg serves up multiple opportunities for diving into and experiencing the rich history of Texas Hill County. Channel the Lone Star State of mind with a visit to Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, home to our nation’s 36th President and Fredericksburg’s favorite hometown boy. 

“Your first stop here will be the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, a farm where you can step back in time and experience Texas pioneer life one hundred years ago and also get a sense of what President Johnson’s childhood was like growing up here,” shares Iris Neffendorf, the Park Superintendent.  It’s indeed a working farm, where you can interact with the knowledgeable history interpreters as they go about daily farm chores and feel like you took a time travel machine to visit our country’s original homesteaders. For many of us hard-core homesteaders who bake our own bread, put up our vegetables and collect eggs from our free-ranging chickens, it’s wonderfully familiar.

“Every day we do things just like they would have back in the old days,” says Mark Itz, an interpreter on the farm whose family goes back five generations in Hill Country.  “Last year we put up 154 quarts of tomatoes out of the garden and made 250 pounds of sausage. We just didn’t have to take it to town to trade for flour, sugar and salt like they used to,” he laughs.  Soap making, bread baking and animal care are other activities you’ll see at the farmstead, which is operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Eye opening, many areas like this one in rural Texas didn’t have electricity until the early 1950s. This final push for national electrification is attributed to then Congressman Johnson’s commitment to rural electrification, as he saw, first-hand growing up, the challenges of living without electricity.

This hardscrabble land of the Texas Hill Country taught the German settlers and others to be independent. “It is impossible to live on this land without being a part of it, without being shaped by its qualities,” wrote Lyndon B. Johnson.  As you leave the Sauer-Beckmann Farm and take a short drive across the Pedernales River, you enter Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, one of only two national parks operating as working ranches. 

Lyndon B. Johnson is the only President where you can see his full life cycle within 14 miles, as you move on to tour what is known as the “Texas White House,” where the President conducted much of his business during his administration.  From the original front doormat with the adage “All the world is welcome here” to the cheery splashes of yellow walls and wallpaper the house, First Lady Ladybird Johnson’s favorite color, you immediately get a sense of why this place is where President truly felt at home and worked best.   From his administrative staff to visiting foreign dignitaries to members of Congress, much work happened here such as forwarding Johnsons’ commitment to education reform and navigating the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War and civil rights reform, all done over cattle tours and BBQ.

Lyndon B. Johnson isn’t the only famous person who called Fredericksburg home.  Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in the Pacific Ocean during World War II, is another native son who grew up to change the course of American History.  The National Museum of the Pacific War is located in downtown Fredericksburg, an impressive, modern museum experience offering a deeper understanding of the significant struggle between Allied and Japanese forces that took place in the islands of the Pacific.  The newly renovated Pacific Combat Zone recreates a realistic environment of where many of these battles took place and offers regular “live” reenactments and interpretation.

cottage in texas hill country at night

Cottages and Bed & Breakfasts

A century before Airbnb and a more established bed & breakfast industry, this German-immigrant community settling in Texas Hill Country gifted Fredericksburg with what would become a tourism treasure today:  Sunday Houses. Back in the day, these German farming families would travel by horse and buggy on Saturdays to town to do their shopping and attend various social events, spend the night, go to church on Sunday morning and then head back to the farm. The families built these small, quaint wood-framed or stone cottages to stay in on Saturday night, typically just two rooms. 

Today, these Sunday Houses offer a diverse and unique lodging option in Fredericksburg, offering over 1,270 choices, both original cottages and replications. They’re by far the most popular way to spend the night in town. Some cottages are in the Fredericksburg Historic District, based on the original platting of the town, while others are scattered through community or in the countryside. 

Our stay at Honey Hill’s spacious, romantic and luxurious Forget Me Not cottage provided a natural refuge in the quiet countryside on six acres just outside of town. Deer passed through our front yard dotted with cacti and native wildflower and cool evening breezes were enjoyed on wooden rocking chairs on our screened-in front porch.  Our favorite activity, however, after a day of wandering through fields of wildflowers and sampling local wines, was soaking in the hot tub on the front porch while star gazing into the wide Texas night sky, feeling gratitude for the strong German pioneer community that built this thriving community.

Photos by John Ivanko

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband and photographer, John D. Ivanko, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam 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.

Mother Earth News Fair Highlights, Part I

I’ve just returned from another educational and entertaining Mother Earth News Fair event, this time near the hip city of Asheville, NC. Fair attendees have lots of options with well over a hundred workshops to choose from. But there’s more to the fair than classes. In today’s post, I want to focus on some of the other learning opportunities and just plain fun things that were available to fair goers.

African cattle horns

Check out the horns on this Ankole-Watusi African cattle breed--six feet from tip to tip. Photo by Carole Coates


Indoors or outside, attendees had plenty vendors to check out—more than two hundred of them. Everything from vegetable and flower seeds to tractors was on site and available for sale. Mushroom kits, gardening tools, clothing, children’s books, sun ovens, and fruit trees were just a few more things available for purchase at the Asheville fair. As usual, I found a few things for the garden and some one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

Edible landscape exhibit

Edible landscaping. Yum! Photo by Carole Coates


For those who needed a break from sitting, there were more than fifty informal demonstrations at various exhibit booths. For instance, North Carolina State University offered a series of how-to-grow workshops ranging from hops to collards. The fair program listed demonstrations by topic (organic gardening, animal husbandry, real food) and location to make it all the easier.

For the Kids

Under eighteen? The fair is free! How great is that? Fair organizers made sure there was plenty to keep them engaged and entertained, too. Some of the booth-based demonstrations were strictly for the younger set, including the chance to create their own audio podcast. Awesome!

Best of all, though, were the kid-focused workshops—all available at the Kids’ Treehouse venue. (There’s not really a treehouse, but you get the idea.) Kids got to meet the same presenters as the adults, but with activities designed just for them. Youth social entrepreneurship, species saving, yogurt parfait making, building with sticks and mud—all these and more workshops were available for teens, tweens, and younger folks.


It was better than a petting zoo at the animal conservancy venue, with exhibitors giving tips and educational information. Chickens, rare African cattle, and most every other animal you might find on a farm or homestead were on view and for sale. The days-old baby goats were probably the biggest stars at the entire two-day event. What could be better than having an fuzzy kid fall asleep in your lap?

lap kid goat

This little fellow got lots of attention at the Livestock Conservancy exhibit. Photo by Carole Coates

Bookstore and Book Signings

The Mother Earth News Bookstore is an ever popular fair destination. It featured books by many of the speakers as well as a whole host of other natural living books. Several non-book items, including cookware and cheese making kits, were also available.

Many of the workshop presenters are also authors and have written books related to their presentations. At the bookstore, fair goers could meet the authors and get autographed copies of their how-to books. I’m getting quite the collection!

speakers who autograph

Gardening expert Niki Jabbour was one of the many speakers who had books available for sale at the bookstore. How exciting to get author autographs! Photo by Carole Coates

While topical workshops are the main feature of Mother Earth News Fairs, there’s lots more to keep you busy on fair weekends, too. My only challenge was finding time to pack everything in.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts by following this link. 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.

Spoil Yourself With This Milking Machine

Dairy Goat

Our Oberhasli Goats Mabel and Ginger

When it comes to raising dairy goats, a lot of time and money is spent keeping production up. Whether consuming the milk or making products from it, healthy happy goats are a necessity in good production. Owning dairy animals requires extreme loyalty to the animals. Early mornings and late nights are just the beginning of what dairy families endure. So, when a product is found that can make life a little simpler, why not give it try?

Farmers and homesteaders can’t necessarily afford the opportunity to try out a lot of new products. What if you spend a ton of money to only find yourself disappointed with the purchase? For many, this fear alone keeps them from trying new equipment and/or products. Smaller dairy producers seem to have a hard time justifying the purchase of expensive milking equipment. Strongly due to the fact much of the equipment is setup to use with larger operations. Who wants to go through the hassle of cleaning and sanitizing the equipment and lines twice a day, for just a few animals? So, what great dairy equipment is available for the small guy?

All About the Milker

Ultimate EZ Milker

The machine and accessories when we unpacked it.

The Ultimate EZ Milker, wow where to even start. I have only recently purchased this product but have fallen madly in love with it. With the sad realization that my husband’s Muscular Dystrophy has slowly begun taking his hand coordination, strength, and grip; hand milking is becoming less of an option. So, I began to look into small milking machines for our farm. The price tag for even the smallest of pulsating machines was out of the realm of our financial possibility. The daily upkeep and sterilization of the machines alone seemed way more in-depth than we wanted for a handful of goats.

When I stumbled across the Ultimate EZ Milker, I was intrigued. This little pint-size power punching machine is not your typical milking machine. I needed something easy for my husband to use but also simple for me to clean and maintain. After a lot of research, and what I can only guess were some annoying emails to the owner and his head guy, I felt prepared to make the purchase. Could it really be this easy? Oh my god it is! No need to clean out lines daily, just wash your bottles and nipple inserts, and you’re done. This machine is not a stereotypical pulsating machine, it works off a completely different technology. Even our first freshener took right to it with no issue. Even though the unit comes prepared to milk two teats at once, we have found doing one at time is easier for us. We simply close off the second line, with the included clamp and go about our business. With the Ultimate EZ four adapter, milking two goats at one time is even an option. Don’t let the size full you, it’s a powerful machine with the ability to milk cows, horses, sheep, camels, and goats with ease.

Now if you’re anything like me, I rather not use plastic containers when milking. The company offers glass jars if you prefer them to the plastic ones that come with the unit. Don’t have power to your barn? Well that’s not a problem, they offer a solar option. Although it’s a bit pricey, mainly due to the cost of materials I assume, it is a great option. Wait another month or so and check out their latest accessory, the Ultimate EZ Power Pack. How will it work? Simple, particular sizes of Dewalt, Milwaukee, and Makita brand drill batteries will be able to power the machine.



Milking Mabel our First Freshner

While the product is not “cheap” per say, it’s worth every dime we have invested into it. The cost of the Ultimate EZ Milker is only a fraction of the cost of a traditional pulsating system. Have we had any problems due to the lack of pulsation? Absolutely not! It is extremely gentle on the girls, causing no pain or irritation. With so many great products on the market, how do choose which ones to spend your hard-earned money on? Read all the reviews and talk to other goat lovers, see what has and hasn’t worked for them. While everyone has their own opinions, it’s a great place to start.

For me, I like to go directly to the horse’s mouth. I always contact the higher ups of a company and ask the hundred and one questions I have. If they don’t respond or seem less than willing to provide the information I seek, I simply move on to another product. At the end of the day customer service is number one to me, like most buyers. I want to know if there’s a problem down the road, that the company will work with me to find a solution. If the company is unwilling to talk to you when you’re thinking about purchasing their product, what’s the chance they will when there’s a problem? 

Millking 2

Milking Gizmo

Want to know more? Check out The Ultimate EZ Milker Website.

Photos by the author

These are the opinions of Miller Micro Farm, not the opinions of Mother Earth News. Miller Micro Farm is endorsing this product because we love it. We have not been paid by the company to do so.

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.

Mutual Benefits for Children and Chickens

Easter Egger Chicks

We’ve had chickens for several years, and with the exception of a broody hen that hatched four chicks, we’ve only dealt with adult birds. That changed this past spring when we decided to try hatching our own chicks, much to the delight of my children. The adventure inspired some reflection on the benefits that children and chicks receive from one another.

First, the children were involved in the preparation and planning. They did their best to find the eggs while still warm despite the unseasonably cold March weather. When successful they carefully hurried them into the house and excitedly declared their victory. Over the ten day window of viability, they managed to find 32 warmish eggs. During this prep phase they also helped their DIY Dad with the finishing touches of the our homemade bread proofer/incubator. All the while their anticipation and excitement began to grow.

Next came the period of patiently awaiting the chicks’ arrival. During the three weeks they frequently checked the temperature and humidity readings to ensure they stayed within the proper ranges. On day 10 of incubation we turned out the lights, huddled around our makeshift egg candling device and flicked it on. Their eyes grew into excited circles when they saw the shadowy evidence of a growing embryo. They were witnessing new life growing, literally, at their fingertips. The anticipation mounted as they counted off the days left to hatching. They were learning the value of waiting for a delayed gratification rather than one of the instant variety; something that those choosing to live a sustainable lifestyle must embrace if they seek to work within nature’s rhythms.

Finally, on the morning of hatching, the day began with loud peeps and excited children’s voices. All throughout the day the children peered into the incubator, monitoring the progress of hatching chicks and searching out new hatchees. On that day, they learned a greater appreciation for tenacity and the fight for life as they watched the chicks struggle to hatch. One empathetic daughter wanted to help a chick out of an egg from which it was unable to hatch because the shell had become too dry. Knowing the chick was dead without her intervention, we let her give it a try. She succeeded in hatching that chick. It’s still alive today and bears the name Miracle.

Upon moving into the brooder the chicks provided hours of entertainment and opportunities for careful study. The children noted their differences in behaviour, colouration, and size and gave them monikers such as Dot, Roly-poly, and Eggnog. Under such devoted vigilance those chicks were well cared for, never short on water or food and quickly assisted if anything was amiss. The children participated in the care for the chicks, learning the responsibility of tending to creatures dependent upon their vigilance.

Growing a Chicken Garden

Now the children are each planning to grow chicken gardens, inspired by Jessie Bloom’s book Free-range Chicken Gardens and Melissa Caughey’s book A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens. Their awareness of what chickens need to not just survive, but to live healthy, happy lives was inspired by the chicks they nurtured. An awareness of a wider world around themselves, of the part they play within it, was fostered along with those chicks. Considering how few children in our modern world have such an experience, I’m grateful for these lessons the chicks unknowingly bestowed on my children. And If chickens are the gateway animal, then my children are all in and I can’t help but I wonder what it will be next? Ducks? Goats? Pigs? A dairy cow?  

Rebecca Harrold homesteads and homeschools on a 23-acre property in rural Ontario, where she is engaged with all types of wiser living skills. She believes that restoring the land to its healthy, sustainable state will increase its resilience, and in turn, the resilience of the people who depend upon it. Connect with Rebecca at Harrold Country Home and on Instagram. Read all of Rebecca’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.

Front-Mounted, Independently-Powered Snow Blowers


We live at the 4200' elevation in the Okanogan Highlands of Eastern Washington. Our access road is three miles long with an elevation gain of 1,000'. This past year we had a record snowfall of over 9 feet.

I have an 8-foot snow plow I've been using for the past eight years. It does the job well but two years ago we had almost 7 feet of snow and for the first time I ran out of room to put the plowed snow. If you plow snow you know what I'm talking about. I made multiple trips down the hill and pushed snow off the road where I could and as far as I could but it wasn't enough. We ended up hiring a big dozer to come in and push the piled up plowed snow off the road and over the edge where we could. It cost $550 for the dozer.

We never used to get this much snow but weather patterns change and I was going to have to do something different. Hiring a dozer is fine but I like to do things myself and buying a dozer of that size wasn't worth it. I went online and started looking at alternatives, mainly snow blowers.

95% of the snow blowers for tractors mount on the 3 point hitch and you have to drive backwards to remove snow. That wasn't going to work for me on my road! I have a Case 55 HP diesel tractor. They make a front load snow blower but it requires more hydraulic power than I have. Most of the other major brands have a front mount blower design as well but again you have to have enough hydraulic power to run one. Most compact tractors don't have that kind of hydraulic capacity. You can also get a snow blower that mounts on the front of your tractor and is connected mechanically by rods/frame that run from the front of the tractor to the rear and connects to your PTO. I wanted something simpler.

Front View

Those are your only choices - a rear mounted blower, a front mounted blower that runs off your PTO, or a front mounted blower that requires more hydraulic capacity than most tractors have. Kubota and Bobcat are two exceptions to that.

My research turned up only two snow blowers that were powered independently which eliminated all of the problems as described above. The one I chose to go with was called the Big Pigg ( It came with a quick attach frame, a remote control to operate it with from the tractor seat, and a Kohler 27 HP gas engine. These snow blowers are manufactured in Idaho at a small family owned machine shop. They make a fixed amount of them each year and you can choose from several models. Since I bought mine they have a new model which is powered by a 40HP gas engine. They make two different widths that I am aware of - 72" and 84". They are made specifically to front mount on ATV's, trucks, and tractors.

With my set of controls, from the tractor seat I can start and stop the engine, start and stop the augers, rotate the chute from left to right and raise and lower the chute. As I mentioned, my road is 3 miles long so a round trip of 6 miles is all done with one tank of gas. My gas tank holds about 3 gallons. My snow blower cost a little over $8,200 two years ago. The only other comparable competitor at the time was priced at $12,000.

Depending on conditions this blower can throw dry snow up to 70'. Wet snow not as far. It will blow up to 6" deep wet snow and 10" of powder. Over all I'm very satisfied with this product. Remember when I had to hire a dozer with only 7 feet of snow? This year I had 9 feet of snow and was able to keep my road open with a combination of my snowplow and blower and NO DOZER.

Blowing Snow!

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website  and

Photos by author.

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.

The Truth of Rural American Farming

farmMany farmers across the country are not happy with the state of the agricultural environment in America. Dodge County Concerned Citizens has decided to take matters into their own hands and arm the public with knowledge on what is going on behind the scenes of rural America.

The group is hosting an event in Owatonna, Minnesota to discuss and share the dark truths behind what has happened to agriculture and farms throughout the country in recent years. Family farms and the environment are under siege for higher profits in the food industry, and the quality of food and the land are suffering because of it.

The event will be showing two videos to help inform the public on the truth behind their food and the system that produces it.

First, they will be showing “The Economics of Sustainable Agriculture and the Food Revolution,” presented by John Ikerd, an agricultural economics professor at the University of Missouri.

The second film that will be shown is “The Dark Side of the Other White Meat.” This video will be shedding some light on the farmers’ struggle in Dodge County, Minnesota, who have been fighting for cleaner water and soil for their farms.

After these videos, a Q&A will be held for those in attendance to ask for any further information or any questions about the videos presented.

The issues surrounding rural farms of America have been discussed for years, but many in the public are unaware as to the depth or true effects of some of these issues, which is why Dodge County Concerned Citizens is inviting anyone to their event to hear the truth about rural farming today.

This press release is presented without editing for your information. MOTHER EARTH NEWS does not recommend, approve or endorse the products and/or services offered. You should use your own judgment and evaluate products and services carefully before deciding to purchase.