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"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self." Ė Ernest Hemingway

by Rob Bertholf


Building Community Through Bartering and Trading

By Benjamin K. Coffman


     "There is no reason why a cul-de-sac of twenty-five people should own twenty-five lawn mowers when there is only ten acres shared among them.  One or two people could easily handle that amount of grass and profit from the service while the others never have to spend the money on the machine, upkeep, and gas.  This also cuts down the amount of pollution, noise, and general irritation that comes from owning mechanical things...

     Iím not asking that you go out today and start a hippie commune with all your neighbors, although you can if you like.  Iím merely asking that in this age of separation, fences, and individuality, go talk to your neighbors.  Build relationships in person and not only on the internet.  Participate in a farmerís market, ask your neighbor to mow your lawn in exchange for something, or plant a fruit tree on your property line and share the fruit with the adjoining neighbor.  Plan a community potluck and host it at your place.  Be friendly, offer to help, take food when someone is sick.  The smallest gestures can build lasting relationships with those around you and they will be there when you need them.  We call this building community; our grandparents called it good manners.  We need to reclaim our skills, learn to rely on one another and cast aside our constant suspicions of people whom we do not know that live fifty feet from our front door.  If we take money out of our lives, we will fill the void with something much more valuable."


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Avocado Zucchini Bread

By Jessica Shelton


     "With a name like 'zucchini bread', you would think it was a savory loaf of veggie-packed goodness.  Thatís what I thought before I tried it, but was surprised to find a sweet bread akin to my favorite fall treat, pumpkin bread.  While I looove pumpkin bread, having made several dozen loaves over my 37 years on Earth, I knew it was typically loaded with oil, sugar, and white flour.  Therefore, I knew the same could be said for the zucchini version.  Thinking it was a shame to make something so healthy, so un-healthy, I set out to create a recipe that had the same sweetness, without as much of the guilt, and even some good-for-you stuff, too.  Avocado replaces some egg and all oil; whole-wheat flour and oats add whole-grain goodness."



Redefining Neighborhoods Back on the Land

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "If reaching out seems hard now, think what it would have been like in the pioneer and homesteading days when people often lived hundreds of acres away from the nearest other human.  Yet for warmth, contact, and, letís face it, procreation, barn dances, harvest festivals, and religious customs were organized to bring folks closer.  It is well known that one of the biggest challenges that settlers faced was pure out-and-out loneliness.  You canít claim 400 acres and expect to be able to holler across the back fence when you want company.  Women were especially afflicted with this problem, as it was often the men who went away to the far off towns for a little social pollination.  Women and children might be alone on the vastness of the howling prairie or the darkness of the forests for weeks at a time.  Towns were formed just to decrease the perils of being alone too much. Despite the difficulties, people found ways to get together.  But someone had to take the first step.

     The significant difference for us moderns is that we can, by choosing to live differently, also make a choice of whom we want for neighbors." 



Stay-at-homesteader Mom

How I Went from Corporate Executive to Urban Farmer

By Jamie Baddorf


     "Watching the girls play and interact, the reality of how just how much I had missed hit me like a freight train.  I couldnít believe how much they had developed in the past year, and all of the little accomplishments I had been too busy to notice.  On top of that, my six-year old had begun struggling behaviorally in school.  We had been taking her to speech and occupational therapy weekly with little success.  Her teachers were not willing to work with her, and her confidence level plummeted.  My baby was spending most of her day with guardians who resented her.  It was more than I could bear.

     It was then I realized that things had to change.  My family was more important than the size of my paycheck, but I wasnít sure how we could survive on anything less.  Part-time jobs in my field were virtually non-existent.  Starting my own business seemed like the best option.  Having worked in e-commerce for several years, I decided to give that a try.  I set the goal of quitting my job by the end of January and dove into how to make a simpler life possible for my family."



Learning Curves on Rural Roads

Three Lessons for Every Homesteader

By Diana Boeke


     "Back in 2011, when my husband and I ditched our rat-race city lives to lead a 'simple' life in the country making a living off the land, the pictures on milk containers were about all we knew about farming.  We bought five acres in the country, and now grow vegetables in about an acre of it and run pastured chickens ('meat birds') on the other four.  Though our bodies were past their primes, we felt as though the endorphins of newlywed life could carry us through any physical challenges.  And because we didnít have a tractor, or for that matter, any idea exactly what tractors did, there would be plenty of physical challenges.

     We cajoled ourselves out of our denial of our naivety about all things rural by watching the complete DVD series of Green Acres.  Oliver Wendell Douglasí little speeches about farmers being the backbone of America still inspire me.  Now a seasoned third-year farmer, well, a micro-farmer anyway, I can reflect back on those early days and appreciate that I, at least, have learned the basics." 



Homesteading Failures

If at First You Don't Succeed... Don't Worry, No One Else Does Either

By Magdalena Perks


     "Anyone who succeeds without some measure of failure first is either not trying very hard, or lying about it.

     Farming, gardening, homesteading, or croftingóall have their times of failure.  Weather, bad advice, or disease can all play a part.  Hasty and ill-thought decisions are equally culpable.


     Despite the many failures and disappointments, when one can settle in to the homestead, get things slowly in order, and fight year after year with the weeds, the rodents and the insects with some hope of winning, it is all worth it.  The disappointments fade; new ones will come along.  Good homesteaders and farmers keep journals and records: weather patterns; animals born, purchased and lost or sold; garden and crop production; wild animals spotted; problems faced and solved.  Learn from your mistakes; the reward for facing failure is knowledge and success."



There's Something About Rosemary

By Gay Ingram


     "Just the name evokes mystery and romance. Its Latin name means literally "dew of the sea" and this herb has been steeped in traditions and folklore for centuries.  The Roman, Pliny, recommended rosemary for failing eyesight, jaundice and the healing of wounds.  Although it was introduced to England by Queen Philippa of Hainault in the16th century, it already had been mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon Herbal of the 11th century. 

     The students of Ancient Greece supposedly wove twigs of rosemary in their hair to help them remember for examinations.  In the Middle Ages, people depended on sprigs of rosemary to ward off demons and evil spirits.  In some parts of Wales, mourners at funerals are still given a sprig of rosemary to be cast on the coffin as it is lowered into the grave, for rosemary is best recognized as the herb of fidelity and remembrance.  Because it is the symbol of friendship, remembrance and love, rosemary has traditionally been a wedding guest.  Brides wore wreaths woven with rosemary or carried rosemary in their bouquets.  Anne of Cleves wore such a wreath at her wedding.  A rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribbons used to be presented to wedding guests." 



Are You Sure You Really Need a Job?

By Neil Shelton


     "One of my favorite cartoons shows a politician giving a speech at one of those thousand-dollar-a-plate dinners.  He's saying, '...And during my administration, we've created 200,000 new jobs!'.  Applause sweeps through the room as a  bus-boy is shown in the background picking up dishes, thinking, 'And I've got THREE of them.'

     Well, personally, I haven't held a steady job in 30 years, but I can tell you that it was one of the most soul-scarring experiences of my life: not only was I expected to show up at the same time and place every morning, but I had to stay there and pretend to be doing something for eight long hours every day, with no consideration whatever for what I REALLY wanted to be doing.

     Okay, I'm (sort of) joking, but if you still find yourself working for The Man, then it's no joke to you, and if you're trying to make a go of homesteading AND holding down a steady job (or three) it may be down-right depressing.

     Which brings us to ask why you want to have a job anyway."



Put a Little Wolf Song in Your Life

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "Cantaloupe (song of the wolf), as we generally know it here in the US, is a cucurbit that sprang from the south and eastern side of the Mediterranean.  It sneaked into southern Europe and was adopted by Italians in the county of Cantalupo, near Rome.  As every schoolchild knows, Rome was built on seven hills by a family of wolves.  And wolves howl.  So the big hard ball with its strange creepy exterior and its welcoming orange interior became the Latin cantalupo, properly named for the area where it was grown, the place where the wolf sings.  The Romans, who spoke Latin, not Romanese, had a penchant for claiming and naming things.  The Cantalupo melon later crept its vinous way into France.  The French changed its name, but not its marvelous flavor, by moving the o around and adding a snobbish e on the end.

     The muskmelon, as grown elsewhere, can be anything from the pale green honeydew to the thick-skinned casaba with its cucumber-ish taste, to the yellow, oval-shaped and sweeter Crenshaw.  A cantaloupe is always a muskmelon, but not all muskmelons are cantaloupes. And that is why we do not grace our salads or dessert plates with the mere generic muskmelon (or as I have heard it said, mushmelon), but instead take pride in serving our guests the sophisticated cantaloupe."


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