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''You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn't that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena. '' ĖJon Stewart

"Eve" at the Eden Project, Cornwall, England

by Samuel Mann


Three Easy Passive Solar Projects

Cut the Summer Power Bill

By Kathryn Wingrove


     "We changed the way we used our appliances, made sure that all the light bulbs were CFLs, put a timer on the hot water heater, and washed all of our clothes in cold water.  We did everything in the house that could be done, successfully reducing our usage to 560 kwH.  Then we discovered passive solar in our search for information and it seemed as if a whole new world had opened itself up to us.  Passive solar projects are made to collect the heat from the sun without the use of specialized equipment.  The projects are often able to be constructed from materials you already have or are cheap to purchase.  So far we have completed and utilized three passive solar projects, which have helped to reduce our power bill down to 480 kwH per month.  


     We are hooked on passive solar.  All of these projects were so easy to build and with just a little adjustment in routines easy to implement into our lives.  We have several more passive solar projects in the works now that will hopefully help us save this winter as well.  The best part is that for about a weekend's worth of work and less than $30.00 we are now saving hundreds of dollars on our power bill."


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Caprese Pasta Salad

By Jessica Shelton


     "Caprese salad brings together some of my very favorite summer flavors.  In fact, when Iím missing the warmth of the summer sun, Iíll even throw one together in the dead of winter.  One thing about a true caprese salad, though, with its layers of fresh tomato and mozzarella slices, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette is that it doesnít travel well, making it a little out of place at a pot-luck picnic or back-yard barbecue.  This new spin on a classic salad makes this summer-flavor favorite easily portable.  OrecchietteóItalian for ďsmall earĒópasta is the perfect size and shape to carry the vinaigrette without overpowering the sweet grape tomatoes and creamy mozzarella."



Non-Electric Dreaminí

Lehman's Country Store

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "The lighting room is a dazzling arcade that combines the homey beauty of brass bases and finials with the multi-colored charm of floral glass shades.  On the practical end are carbide lamps (made in India), wind-up flashlights and candle lanterns.  While at the store I bought two adorable hand-painted lampshades not advertised in the catalog. This points up another reason to go to Kidron: to see the goods particular to the Amish trade that are not included in the catalog, such as the wide variety of buggy lamps.

     None of the toys at Lehmanís require batteries!  They range from simple pull toys and the aforementioned sock monkeys and Raggedy Anns (dressed like Amish children) to brainy selections like a gyroscope and the classic kaleidoscope (how I loved that when I was a child).  There are big ride-in pedal cars (John Deere has made serious in-roads at Lehmanís) and playthings made of recycled plastic and tin.  Croquet sets, kazoos, puzzles and boomerangs are among the time-honored childrenís pastimes, and Lehmanís is not afraid of a modern touch or two, offering, for example, a book called Help Your Parents Save the Planet." 



What's Convenient About Convenience Foods?

Not Much...

By John Wilson


     "When I was a kid, my family was fueled by convenience food.  With two working parents, the idea of coming home and preparing a full dinner was a daunting one.  By the time I entered high school, the hum of the microwave was the theme song to my kitchen experiences.  Everything was microwaved; from my pancakes in the morning to my chicken pot pie in the evening.  If I wanted a snack during my evening studies, the microwave delivered popcorn and Hot Pockets on demand.  This was more than twenty years ago, before the modern food movement gained mainstream attention and the obesity epidemic was something spoken about only in medical journals.

     Now, we are in an age where people are looking to deconstruct their over-processed lives, and I think it is an excellent time to challenge the ideas around food and convenience.  Are frozen pizzas easier and faster than pizza made from scratch?  What about that old TV-dinner standard, the turkey dinner?  Does it truly take less time to microwave dinner for your family than to make it by hand?  The answer, on both counts, is no."



Homemade Cheese in an Ultra-pasteurized World

By Kimi Ceridon


     "In an era where all things labeled 'do-it-yourself' or 'DIY' are gaining popularity, making cheese at home is having a sort of modern-day renaissance in America.  Stylish cheesemaking kits are available from a variety of outlets ranging from high-end home furnishings stores like Williams-Sonoma to and hip and fashionable online retailers like Etsy.com.  These kits offer do-it-yourselfers the supplies and instructions necessary to make homemade cheeses such as ricotta, farmersí cheese, mozzarella, feta, and, even hard cheeses like cheddar.  They promise it is so easy and delicious that you may never buy cheese again.  The cute, little, cardboard boxes with folded handles have everything an aspiring home cheesemaker needs, except the milk.

     Interestingly, it is the milk, not the kit contents, which have the largest influence the flavor and, thus, the deliciousness of a cheese.  It is also the milk that determines the ease for making cheese.  So, how does this critical ingredient make or break an easy, at-home cheesemaking experience?" 



The Day the Fires Came Through

By Colleen Armstrong



     "He pulled up next to me, grabbed a flapper and said, 'Let's fight this sucker'.  I was now feeling very confident, the adrenalin wasnít unwelcome at this stage either.  I grabbed my flapper as well and together we strode out to confront the four-foot flames fast approaching us.

     As I slammed the flapper into the base of the flames I watched the rubber begin to smolder.  The wind was blowing in our direction and the heat that came off the fire was unbearably hot on our faces.  Luckily, we were watching each others' backs as the tall flames danced in around us in all directions. "Run!", I heard Alastair shouting above the noise of the crackling fire and with eyes big, red, and swollen from the heat and smoke, I moved away in the direction he was pointing as fast as I could, the flames chasing closely behind me.  I realised then how vulnerable we actually were and that our safety was the only thing that was really important.  I became even more aware of my surroundings and this, being my first fire-fighting experience, I realised how important it was to read the winds and the directions of the flames.  Instinctively, I became more alert."



Belted Galloways

The Oreo-cookie Cow

By Victoria Varga



     "Galloways have a long and distinctive heritage as being considered one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world.  Belted Galloways belong to the family of Galloway Cattle which today include solid whites, and blacks.  Back in the 1700ís when this breed was first being selected and bred for its many fine qualities, other colors existed; reds, duns, spotteds and brindles were commonly seen.  However, by the mid 1800ís, cattlemen had made the decision to choose solid black as the preferred select-breeding coloration.  The Belted coloration became popular around the turn of the 19th century, and in 1921, a registry was established for the belted coloration of Galloways.

     The distinguishing factors for Belted Galloways require that to be considered a true 'beltie' and registered as such, the cattle must have a wide, even band of pure white fur completely encircling the animalís mid section.  The rest of the cow, back and front, must be solid black with no white anywhere else on its body or face.  Belted Galloway breeders are watchful in selecting breeding animals to make sure that white feet, which is considered an undesirable breed marking, to be bred out." 



Rural Review: Portable Persuasion

By Neil Shelton


    "Itís certainly no secret that farm work frequently requires some heavy lifting, but what if youíre not too good at muscle-intensive manual labor?  Well, probably the best solution is to hire some big gorilla to do it for you, but that has its drawbacks, not the least of which is that you have to pay him, and bananas are more expensive than ever.

     So instead, letís investigate what weaklings such as you and I have been doing about conundrums like this since around the time that fire was invented.  Prehistoric man doesnít have a very impressive record as an inventor of advanced technology, but he did come up with one little app for the common stick that proved to be the Next (and continuing) Big Thing: the lever."



Edible Landscaping

Eat Your Environment

By Micah Janzen


     "For those of us who are forced to homestead in an urban environment, growing our own food can be a challenge.  We might prefer a productive plot to one that requires we waste our time and energy on a purely ornamental lawn; a lawn that produces nothing more than a never-ending demand for mowers, fertilizers, and herbicides.  But our neighbors may take issue with having a 'farm' next door.  The neat rows of corn and beans and small flock of chickens that we admire doesn't necessarily appeal to everyone else's aesthetic.  But never fear, there is a compromise: build a landscape that is both aesthetic and productive by using beautiful edible plants.


     With a little effort anyone can create a stunning landscape that is productive as well as beautiful.  All it takes is a willingness to think outside the box, something at which most homesteaders excel.  Soon, you will have a yard that is the envy of the neighborhood, providing you with beauty, a relaxing haven, and supper.  Who knows?  You might even inspire your neighbors to trade in their lawnmowers for tomatoes, too."


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