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"Every book is a childrens' book if the kid can read." –Mitch Hedberg

A sharecropper's shack in rural Florida.

Photo by B. K.


Darkness Tomorrow

No Electricity for a Year

By Anthony Okrongly


     "The problem isn't that the risks of bad things happening has changed.  The problem is that everything is interconnected, and we are so dependent that the consequences of a systemic failure to you, personally, have increased exponentially over the risk to your great-grandparents.  What did they care if the telegraph wires burned up?  It had little effect on their daily lives.  Alternately, what do you care if the banking system collapses and you can't get to any of your money for six months?  Big difference.

     Risk assessment involves two primary variables.  Variable #1 is the likelihood of the event.  Variable #2 is the impact of the event.  What is the likelihood of a Carrington-sized solar flare shutting off power to the U.S. for months or years?  It's very low for any given year.  Less than 1% probably.  However, what would the impact of such an event be for you, personally, and your family?  It could be deadly."  Read more...


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Fermented Salsa

By Jessica Shelton


     "You probably already know that eating fermented food is, as my Pop used to say, 'good for your guts'.  But, what you may not know, is that, guess what, guys... fermenting is EASY.  Even after publishing a handful of articles on fermenting here on Homestead.org, I was still intimidated to try it, fearing I would mess it up and make myself sick or something.  Well, it turns out that fermenting is pretty foolproof.  You can easily get all of the beneficial bacteria of fermented food with a few ingredients from your garden or local produce stand, some salt, some mason jars, and a little patience.  I started with this salsa recipe, because a.) I love fresh, homemade salsa, and b.) it sounded so simple that I wasn't afraid to try my hand at fermenting.  I'm so glad I did and I think you will be, too. Read more...



The Lazy Harvest

Start Saving Water and Money in Just a Few Hours

By Karyn Sweet


     "Want a quick but very useful and effective homesteading project you can knock-out this weekend?  Consider installing a rain-harvesting system.  A diverter runs about $35.00 and in less than hour, you can have a supplemental system for your water needs.

      If you need some convincing that this is a worthwhile project, consider the following benefits... Read more...



Traditional Homestead Construction

By D. Glenn Miller


     "Trees and rocks.  Unless there happen to be deer or other wildlife passing through, that’s what we see when we look out our windows.  Just up the lane from us is a lovely but modest 18th-century house.  From the road, the average passerby may not find anything especially noteworthy about it.  It’s just a house, albeit an old one.  The remarkable and almost incongruous thing, though, is that it is simply made from the native trees and rocks—essentially the same ones we see out our windows. 

     The word 'simply' would seem to describe traditional homestead construction perfectly.  At the same time, it is completely inadequate.  There’s an intriguing mix of simplicity and sophistication, pragmatism and elegance—not to mention downright hard work—in these old structures."  Read more...



The Actively Passive Home

New Construction Using Old Rules

By Sheri Dixon


     "There’s something very un-shelterlike about a box that has no ventilation (even those pet store boxes they put hamsters in have air holes poked into ‘em) but that’s exactly how houses have been built since the advent of mechanical central heating and cooling—as sealed boxes to keep all that (expensive) artificially heated and cooled air from escaping. 

     So if there’s no electricity or other power source, or even if you just want to open the windows to let some fresh air in, it goes…nowhere.  Because air needs to flow, as in 'come in this window and go out this door'.  If a house is built without regard for airflow and is comprised of a maze of dead-end rooms the air starts to come in the windows, but quickly becomes depressed and just sulks around the sill.

     And people say, 'How did anyone LIVE before air conditioning???  It must’ve been HELL!!!'"  Read more...



A Farm-Hand's Life: Shearing Sheep

By Matthew Surabian


     "When the scraper first hits the compacted, manure-laden hay it feels like concrete.  There's just no easy way of getting through that top layer, and I know, because I tried every other tool sitting around the barn on that hot May afternoon.  It wasn't until I came back to the scraper the shepherd had given me in the first place, that I was able to break through to the soft layers of rotting hay beneath.  While easier to move about, it has a smell unlike much else.  The smell doesn't bother me much though; within a few hours I am able to see the wide heaving floor boards that remind me just how old of a structure I'm cleaning.  Having the floor scraped, raked, and swept should prevent pieces of hay and other 'prizes' from getting into the wool on shearing day. "  Read more...



Goats: The Diversified Farm Stock

By Regina Anneler


     "Anyone who has started or managed a homestead knows the many hours spent trying to decide what type of livestock that they want to invest their time, money and energy into producing.  This means that each species and breed type must be considered for their usefulness and productivity as related to the current homesteading plans.  Versatility in a species is a very important part of production, and one of the most versatile species chosen each and every day for the farming homestead is the goat.  The goat can offer more for the dollar than nearly any other animal ever raised.  Goats come in many shapes, types and colors, while being easier and cheaper to manage than cattle or other, larger types of livestock.  Goats are most often used for brush and shrub clean up, fiber, milk, cheese, soap, meat, driving, packing, and even as personal companions.  They have been the livestock species of choice for thousands of years and their popularity continues to grow."  Read more...



"Build and Maintain Your Own Trails, Roads, and Driveways

By Neil Shelton


     "Without question, one of the very handiest things you can own when you live in a rural area is a four-wheel-drive truck.  Your livestock, your income, even your health and safety can all depend on your ability to stay mobile in all weather, so having at least one four-wheel-drive vehicle can relieve you of a lot of unnecessary stress.

     Having said that, you'll find that after a few weeks of enjoying your omnipotence over all sorts of terrain, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that it is often nice not to need four-wheel-drive, especially for everyday events like trips to town, or short jaunts up to the highway to get your mail.

     That’s when you start to pay attention to the condition of your driveway and access roads."  Read more...



If You Can't Stand the Heat... Cook Outside

By Jenny Flores


     "The heat of summer makes cooking in the kitchen more of a chore than a joy.  Fortunately, the weather is perfect for outdoor parties and cooking.  Cooking outside is a welcome change for adults and a lot of fun for children, who benefit from fire safety lessons while learning some science behind different cooking techniques. 

     Campfires are one of the best things, in my opinion, about summer nights.  A tent pitched in your own backyard is transformed into a real camping trip once a fire is built.  There are just a few simple rules for building great fires safely."  Read more...


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