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"Life is nothing if you're not obsessed." –John Waters

Gatehouse on Raky Weiher, Dalheim-Rödgen, Germany

by Bert Kaufmann


Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity

By Roger Welsch

Book review by Catherine Lugo


     "Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity is a story of one man's evolution and his personal revolution.  Roger Welsch tells his story of moving his life from urban to rural while trying to give readers an honest and objective picture of what country and small town living is really all about.  He writes about his first hand experiences in buying his land, cultivating it, living on it and fitting into small town America if somewhat clumsily at times.  He does it all with amazing humor and his common sense advice shines through it all.  This one time college professor turned sodbuster will make you wish you had the guts to pull up stakes and move to America's heartland to chisel out a life of sustainability.  And if you are of the mind to do just that, Forty Acres and a Fool is your blueprint.


     If you're one of the ones that have already pulled up stakes and made your move, Forty Acres can still answer some questions you may have lingering and be a very enjoyable read.  You'll travel down the bumpy roads of small town life as Roger Welsch learns how to settle in and carve out his own very unique niche and approach to living beyond the sidewalks."


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Lemon Garlic Green Beans

By Jessica Shelton


     "If you’re like me, sadly, the majority of my experience with green beans came from the inside of a can.  Mushy, with little flavor other than 'metallic', it seemed the only thing that made them palatable was the way my Granny Mable made them, simmered with salt and bacon… lots of bacon.  While they were tasty (did I mention the bacon?), as a kid, I didn’t think about how very few nutrients were left in them, or about the added fat and calories of the bacon.  Now, older, wiser, and with more mature taste buds, I’ve come to realize just how naturally delicious these humble legumes can be with the simplest preparation.  A little heat and some flavorful aromatics and you’ve got a beautiful, nutritious side-dish that everyone will love."



Grandma's Pantry

Lost Recipes of My Childhood

By Jeanette Leadingham


     "Kids weren’t allowed in the garden, but that didn’t mean that we didn’t have garden chores.  We would have contests on the back porch shelling peas and 'snipping' green beans, competing to see who could fill their bowl first.  We also picked blackberries and wild raspberries and blueberries for ice cream, cobblers, and jams.  The blueberries we picked from 'up in the alley.'  If the grandkids ventured out on our own, we had to stay on the path.  Being coal country, there were too many snakes and sink holes in the fields to go exploring without the grownups.  We never minded too much since the berries were plentiful, and wild mint grew along the alleyway.  When our parents went, we were allowed to wander the fields until we picked gallons of berries.

     I used to spend at least two weeks with Grandma every summer.  I remember one morning coming to the breakfast table to find a bowl with a slice of toast in it.  When my teenage, Lucky-Charms-eating self asked what it was, my grandma replied, 'Breakfast.  Do you want milk or tea over it?'  With that, I was introduced to milk toast, or tea toast, whichever you prefer.  My mom’s parents were Depression Era farmers who made do with what they had.  Everything was used; nothing was wasted.  If the humans didn’t eat it, the animals did, or it was composted to feed the garden.  In fact, many of my memories of Grandma’s house revolved around food: planting it, harvesting it, preparing it, and eating it.  It’s from these ethics that many of our favorite recipes were conceived.  My father-in-law says we live in a world of excess.  He claims that kids my age (anyone under the age of sixty-five) don’t know what it’s like to go without, so we have become wasteful.  Maybe that’s the reason many of the foods we ate as kids are so hard to find." 



How Sears, Roebuck Helped Homesteading Happen

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "The year was 1886. 

     It started quite by accident, but it happened at a time when the entrepreneurial and inventive spirit of Americans was pulsing fast, and homesteading was on the map. 

     It was a time when new states were waiting to be formed—there were only 30 then—a time when the poor man’s energy could be directed to grabbing land, starting farms, establishing homesteads on the Great Plains, all for a few dollars down and nothing left to pay but sweat equity.  And men with a bit of luck and capital were opening businesses that took advantage of the poor man’s dreams.  Suddenly, the wars were over, democracy was safe, immigrants were pouring in to enjoy newfound freedoms, and city folks in cramped quarters were going west in droves for a taste of the wide-open spaces.  Hand in hand with the Homestead Acts and westward expansion were the railroads crisscrossing the country, and alongside each one, telegraph lines.  Prosperity was the buzzword of the day."



Beat the Vacuum Tyranny

By Magdalena Perks


     "I have lived off-grid before and since then, where there was no question of needing a vacuum.  The off-grid cabins in which I lived had wood floors.  They were one or two rooms, and a brief swipe with the broom and a quick mop down were all it took to keep them clean.

     Why have we been sold on the idea that carpets are necessary, and even that electric dirt-sucking monstrosities are required for a bare-floor house to be really, truly, clean? 

     I would say we blame the Victorians.  The expansion of carpet mills in the Industrial Revolution, the upward mobility of the working class, and increased literacy with a market for what we now call lifestyle magazines made ordinary people aware that carpeting was desirable.  It was a sign of affluence and good taste." 



Understanding the Blues

A Guide to Gorgonzola

By Dustin Eirdosh


     "Guiding your homestead milk to it's destiny as a farmstead cheese can seem onerous enough without contemplating the role of our dairy-related fungal friends.  Certainly all of the cheese books out there will tell you to hold off on crafting the mold-ripened varieties until you are a master of the fresh and pressed/aged types.  While I agree that you will want some experience in transforming milk into curd—the proper perspective can allow even the novice cheesemaker to craft a stunning blue-veined frommage.


     Like all aged cheeses, the blues require intense patience and the willingness to endure a long and steep learning curve.  The rewards for your steadfast dedication will be unrivaled culinary enjoyment and the amazement of your friends and family.  Certainly Gorgonzola is well suited to almost any type of salad, but I also enjoy adding it to a number of hot dishes.  Try making a buffalo chicken pizza—with diced chicken breast marinated in a buffalo sauce combined with blue crumbles—sure to be a favorite at informal gatherings.  I think it also makes a unique addition to classic Mac'n Cheese, or combined with sausage as a filling for stuffed baby portabellas.  No matter how you prepare it, your home made blue cheese is sure to be a source of pride every time you bring it out." 



Wintering Bees

By Kim Flottum


     "Though a hard frost hasn’t coated the windows and weeds yet—except in the far reaches—most of the flowers are finished and only stalks and seed heads remain.  Still, there’s a few straggling asters left in the wettest parts of the fields, sought after by desperate bees but ignored by most for they know those lonely white flowers are barren and gone.  Nature has little left for the bees.  However, on rare days when it warms to over 50... when the sun shines and the wind settles enough... ambitious bees go looking for the last of the season’s wine.  It’s in their genes to seek and find. 

     This first winter can be daunting for a beekeeper just beginning.  But then, winters are always daunting...  that a box of bugs manages to stay alive, moving, buzzing, raising young, eating, sleeping... when only inches away it’s cold... too cold for them to live... is one of those fascinating mysteries beekeepers revel in.  Here’s how it works, and how you can help."



Iris Pseudacorus - Exotica on the Cheap

By Neil Shelton


     "I don't know about you, but one of the things I appreciate most in a plant, that is, if I'm going to be expending the effort to plant and cultivate it, is enthusiasm.

     That's why the Yellow Flag Iris, iris pseudacorus is one of my all-time favorites.  In fact, this iris shows so much enthusiasm that it's considered an invasive nuisance in some areas. 

     More on this later, first a little background."



Naked Gardening Exposed!

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "Some proponents of nudity have high ideals, believing that it promotes a sense of equality, removes occasions of envy evoked by clothing, and could eventually lead to a classless society.

     In the 1950s in the US, there was a study that concluded that 75% of Americans never experienced any nudity at home, but by 1995, another study indicated that parental nudity had no negative effect on children, and by the year 2000, a Gallup poll indicated that 80% of Americans believed that “people who enjoy nude sunbathing should be able to do so as long as they do so at a beach that is accepted for that purpose,” and 25% admitted to having gone skinny-dipping in a 'mixed group.'

     So, it seems we have a taboo against nudity in almost every public situation among people of almost any age.  But we will tolerate it in hidden enclaves, among other nude people, and many of us have an 'old brain' secret longing to wake up, disrobe, and smell the flowers (being careful to avoid the thorns)."



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