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"Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you." –Wendell Berry

A controlled burn can prevent wildfires and revitalize bushy, overgrown land.

Photo by Neil Shelton


Hydroponics and Aquaponics

Setting Up a Simple System

By Jenny Flores


     "Hydroponic and aquaponic vegetables are becoming more popular with growers and consumers alike.  Consumers enjoy fresh, organic produce and growers appreciate the potential high-yield of hydroponic systems.  If you are interested in trying your hand at setting up a system, do not be intimidated.  I bet you already have some practice at the science behind the system.  If you have kept rooted cuttings in a jar of water on your kitchen window, you have used hydroponics.

     Hydroponics is simply the science of growing plants without soil.  Growing produce in this way relies on plants getting the nutrients they need as well as the correct light and temperature.  There are four main benefits of growing your produce in a hydroponic system: efficiency, water and space conservation, and high yields."  Read more...


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Morning Glory Muffins

By Jessica Shelton


     "I'm just going to come out and say it... these muffins are truly glorious!  Each one is moist, dense, and full of flavors and textures that make each bite a new taste.  They're packed with wholesome goodness from apples, carrots, raisins, walnuts, coconut, and pineapple, and are made almost completely with whole-wheat flour.  What they aren't packed with is a load of sugar and fat like most muffins.  All of the fruit provides most of the sweetness and moisture the sugar and fat would provide; brown sugar and coconut oil make up the rest.  These babies are great for a healthy, satisfying snack, a quick breakfast, or even an after-dinner treat.  Make up a batch this weekend to have all week long... if you can keep from eating them all in a day or two. Read more...



The Learned Burn

Prescribed Burns to Prevent Wildfires

By Lily Herndon Weaks


     "But wait!  Haven’t we been taught how dangerous fires in forests are?  Indeed we have.  Smokey Bear is America’s wildfire prevention icon...  But you may have noticed a recent change in his famous slogan, which from 1947 was, 'Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!'  Beginning in 2001, his slogan was altered to, 'Only You Can Prevent Wildfires!'  And the reason is clear: after many decades of fire suppression and the, perhaps unintentionally, implanted idea into the public psyche that was, basically, 'Fire… BAAAAAAAD…', we now once again realize what used to be common knowledge dating back to widespread Native American practices in land management.  Namely, that there are 'forest fires' and there are 'fires for forests.'  And in one of life’s many ironies, we clearly understand that fire, itself, is one of the best weapons against… well… fire! Read more...



Noxious Weeds

...or are They?

By Nicole H. Brauner


     "Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.  During the next couple of days, I read up on every possible plant I recognized from their online 'mugshot' and marked them on our property.  Some of them were poisonous to livestock (and humans), so I focused on those first.  The plants that had not gone to seed yet I pulled from the ground (with gloves on) and laid them to dry on the burn pile.  The weeds that did go to seed I tried to remove as carefully as possible.  Various websites suggested placing a container or a plastic bag over the plant before removing them, so the seeds don’t spread."  Read more...



Edible Flowers

A Rose by Any Other Name Just Might be Lunch

By Adrianne Masters


     "I design my garden with aesthetics in mind as much as efficiency.  It helps that vegetables grow in such beautiful colors and interesting shapes, of course.  What beauty really inspires me though is the illuminating brilliance of flowering blossoms.  And in order to spend my valuable, limited time cultivating these stimulating blooms, I had to find a use for them other than just 'pretty' and 'good for pollination.' 

     How about, 'edible?'  That quality is pretty tough to argue with, even for a rough-around-the-edges country man who doesn’t find beauty compelling and prefers function above all."  Read more...



Going Bats!

The Benefits of Bat Houses on Your Homestead

By Patricia Halderman


     "The facts are amazing and should have all of us running out to buy or build hundreds of bat house.  One little brown mysotis, (little brown bat) can catch 1,000 or more mosquito-sized insects in an hour.  A colony of 150 big brown bats can catch enough cucumber beetles each summer to prevent the egg laying of 33 million rootworms.  Bats catch and eat cucumber and June beetles, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, cutworm and corn earworm moths.  Many garden and crop pests flee areas where they hear bat echolocation sounds.  According to Bat Conservation International, the 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats that spend summers in Bracken Cave, Texas, eat up to 200 tons of insects in a single night over the surrounding towns and croplands."  Read more...



Pastured Pig Pilgrimage

Moving Pastured Pigs, and a Few Stops Along the Way

By Sue Dick


     "Unfortunately, where the pigs currently were was nowhere near where we were going to move them and it would require a significant cross-country trek.  We debated about the best way to achieve this with minimal insubordination from the girls but could think of no good way and decided a combination of leading and driving might work best.

     In classic artwork and vintage tales the Pig Drover utilizes only a stick to keep his herd of pigs in line as they amble pleasantly along Spring lanes.  These pigs seem to require only gentle words or a good-natured tap with the Drover's stick to be reminded to keep their eyes on the road and not be distracted by small, tasty children playing in the lane, or geese, or whatever.  The reality is that if those were my pigs in the painting, the children would be in mortal peril and the geese would be unpleasantly surprised to meet their evil-tempered matches."  Read more...



"Horse Sense Meets Street Smart

By Neil Shelton


     "If I may be allowed to pretend that you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years, let me explain that 'street smart' is a label intended to describe someone who is particularly adept at taking care of him or herself in an urban setting, usually to the exclusion of everyone else, and despite a complete lack of any socially redeeming graces.

      Time and Newsweek absolutely LOVE to describe young delinquents as 'street smart'.  It’s almost as if those writers secretly admire the astute business-sense and long-term planning of someone who would start dealing crack cocaine in the first place."  Read more...



Goat Kidding Season

It's No Joke

By Kathy Bernier


     "Live births are a big deal.  Whether you are the mother at the end of her pregnancy, the newborn breathing air for the first time, or the midwife attending the process, the emergence of new life is not to be taken lightly.

     Homesteaders attend a lot of birth events, most of which involve livestock.  All manner of babies are emerging fast this time of year, and farmers need to keep on their toes to ensure that mothers and offspring are safe and healthy.

     If you are expecting your first goat kids this year, there are a lot of things you can and should be doing in order to prepare for the big event.  You will want to be ready both physically and emotionally, to have certain supplies on hand to help things go smoothly, and to know what to watch for when it happens."  Read more...


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