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"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." –Henry Ford

It's spring turkey-hunting season in many parts of the country.

 Photo by Don McCullough



The Patriotic Posey

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "Want to beautify an ugly unfriendly patch of ground, an old ditch, a weedy edge?  Want to create a stunning border for a garden path or drape delicate or vibrant colors over a rock wall, or a rock pile?  

     Want to attract and butterflies and bees to your garden? 

     Want to decorate your yard—permanently—for The Fourth of July?

     There is almost no better way to accomplish all three, separately or together, than to cultivate creeping phlox...

     Because it is a child of our continent, and a beauty to behold, and because of its range of colors, I feel it is fitting to commemorate our nation’s heritage with red, white, and blue phlox.  I am picturing a large tub over spilling with stripes of red and white and a patch of blue in the middle.   

     There’s still time before the Fourth of July, my friends, to get patriotic phlox positioned for your celebrations!"  Read more...


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Sweet & Spicy Slow-cooker Pork Chops

By Jessica Shelton


     "Sometimes—often times for some folks—we're just too busy, lazy, or simply uninspired to cook up a dinner that is not only tasty and enticing but is also still somewhat nutritious.  One that doesn't dirty up every pot and pan you own; one that doesn't come in a box or paper bag.  Enter the trusty slow cooker.  With a little bit of planning, you can have a home-cooked meal, hot and ready to eat when you get in from a long day tending to the homestead, navigating the concrete jungle, or holding down the couch.  This particular recipe employs one of my favorite flavor combinations: sweet and spicy.  A little bit Hawaiian luau, a little bit Chinese take-out, and a lotta bit delicious, it's reminiscent of some favorite take-out dishes without any additives or mystery ingredients. Read more...



Bees for Free

By Andrew Botham


     "...why, oh why, oh why would you pay for bees when you can get them for free.  Bees that are not only locally acclimatised, but ready, willing, and driven to develop and build up a new bee colony.  I am, of course, talking about swarms!

     A swarm isn’t just a group of bees, it is the reproductive unit of a hive.  In spring, when the food is coming in, and the bee population is swelling, the hive may collectively make the decision to swarm.  Swarm season is usually from April to June, depending on the weather, but can extend out into late July.  Eggs are selected to be made into new queens and, when they are capped and ready to go, a large portion of the bees along with the current queen up and leave en mass.  This is the 'prime swarm'.  They gorge themselves on honey before they go which leaves them able to rapidly build new comb when they arrive at their new home.  The queen is already able to lay, so things progress pretty rapidly. Read more...



Spring Turkeys

By Doug Smith


     "Anyone who finds themselves living in the country for more than a few days will discover this statement to true.  In nature, as witnessed by living close to it, there’s a right—or optimal, at least—time for every task or adventure.  A time to plant and harvest crops, or to trim trees, to dig ponds, to pick mushrooms, or to go fishing.  Likewise, spend any amount of time outdoors and you’ll realize there are seasons of the year or hours of the day when animals are more active than other times.    

     For instance, spring is the time to watch for wild turkeys.  'Why?' you ask.  The wild turkey mates in early spring.  Most of the year turkeys are elusive and tend to hang out with their own sub-groups.  Mature males tend to hang with other males, while females can often be found keeping with other females and any young.  Immature males move in groups with their other immature buddies.  But for a few weeks each year—starting in about early April and running through mid-May—both males and females can be heard and seen calling, strutting, and posturing for attention of the opposite sex.  It’s a great time to peer into a world of an animal often all but unseen the rest of the year."  Read more...



Hunting for Marvelous Morels

By Martina Kuhnert


     "Where I come from there are three topics that it are impossible for the locals to tell the truth about:  buck, trout, and merkels.  The bucks that are now in the freezer had at least sixteen points and were as big as a full-grown Angus.  The native trout that were eaten last night were all at least eighteen inches long.  The merkels were so plentiful last week, they pulled ten gallons off the mountain in one day.  Now, ask where any of these miraculous examples of nature occurred, and the conversation becomes vague.  Terms like 'over yonder' and 'up past Spruce Nob Point a piece'  are about as exact as you are going to get, and even this information is suspect.  Pushing for more details will often get you the reply, 'Well, I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.'  After you live here a while, you realize this behavior is not a lack of morals but is probably genetically linked to some hunter gatherer strand of DNA designed to keep the organism alive during times of scarcity.   

     But wait... there is something that many people who are not from my neck of the woods may be confused about.  What is a merkel?"  Read more...




By Chris Devaney


     "It’s time to retreat.  Gather the dogs, put away the tools and get inside.  The first roll of distant thunder announces itself and is almost always followed by a second and closer one.  The storm quickly advances electrifying the formerly peaceful summer afternoon.  And in my house, it’s always the same: I’ll hold onto Snoball, the youngest of the dogs and always the most terrified.  We’ll rock back and forth on the rocker as I stroke her calmly, whispering softly over and over...

     Together, in the growing darkness we watch the lightning fork it’s way across the steel gray sky, flinching with each crash of thunder, blinking with every bolt of lightning.  I believe that Snoball wonders the same as I wonder...  Her widened blue eyes ask, 'Are we safe?  Can you do something to make us safer?'

     Those frightened blue eyes tell me that it’s time to face the danger.  To learn what lightning is all about and proceed to maximize our safety."  Read more...



Tiny Houses: Big Potential

By Nicole Hixon


     "What is your ideal house-size?  Is it 1,000 square-feet?  2,000 square-feet or more?  Right now across the country, many Americans are purposely moving into much smaller homes, some less than 500 square-feet.  This tiny-house movement makes one wonder: how much space do you really need to live comfortably?  After all, the average size of a home in America has increased steadily since the 1950s to over 2,000 square-feet, even though family size has declined over this same time frame.  With extra space in our house, and more money, our material possessions have also increased to extraordinary limits. 

     Tiny houses offer a way to go against this trend and return back to basics.  Those that are part of the tiny-house movement have sought to decrease their living space and material items, allowing them greater freedom and financial independence."  Read more...



"Oxygen Farming for Fun and Profit

By Neil Shelton


     "Did you know that in one growing season a single mature tree produces enough oxygen to service the breathing habits of 10 adult homo-sapiens?  That's just one tree, and I've got literally zillions of them.  I calculate that here at the Exclamation Pointe Oxygen Generation Facility #1, when engaged at peak capacity, we can supply an annual 24/7 oxygen fix to an entire city the size of Springfield, Missouri and have enough left over to blow up the balloons for New Year's Eve.  (Springfieldians can expect a hefty bill in their mailboxes when I work out the kinks in metering and distribution.)

     Right now, I have the plant shut down for retooling and maintenance, but come Spring, we'll be coming back online with all units churning at peak capacity, sequestering carbon like it was going out of style and pumping out massive quantities of safe, clean, 100% organic oxygen (with only trace elements of tree-frog and firefly)."  Read more...



Designing an Herb Garden

By Jenny Flores


     "Herbs are easy to grow as most of them are generally undemanding, requiring just enough light and adequate soil to produce well.  They are useful to the homesteader, both as culinary and medicinal plants.  But in a time when you can find almost any herb at a grocery store, why bother growing your own?  Besides the exorbitantly high price of store-bought herbs, one of the best reasons is that organically grown herbs make up a very small percentage of the herbs available for sale in the United States.  Ninety percent of the herbs sold in the United States are grown in Third World countries, where regulations regarding the use of chemicals and herbicides do not exist.  Growing your own herbs is the best way to ensure you are not consuming harmful chemicals."  Read more...


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