The Homestead Cookbook

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"The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family." ~Lee Iacocca


The Bear Facts

Teddy's Story

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "What began as a friendly chat escalated into a friendly dispute about what constitutes 'humane' hunting, especially as regards to bears, one of the largest and fiercest of land mammals in the Americas.  Never one to disagree too long with womenfolk, Donnie and the museum keepers came to an understanding that satisfied both parties: he reckoned that a 'fair fight' between a bear and a man, that is, a fight in which both had a chance to win, would involve one weaponóa bowie knife, wielded by the man.  One-on-one, mano-a-paw-o!  That would be the true test of manís equality with a bear in the combat department.  Perhaps it was just such a confrontation that afterwards inspired Daniel Boone to carve into a tree, 'D. Boon Cilled a. Bar on tree in the year 1760.'

     Not many creatures have as adoringly insinuated themselves into human culture as the bear, the black and the brown, beloved especially among English speaking folk as the huggable, winsome-faced 'Teddy.'  Children are encouraged to hold on to their toy bears in times of stress and loneliness.  Winnie the Pooh was one of the first of Western Civilizationís adored literary bears.  Smokey was Americaís favorite TV bear (also honored with a carved likeness at the Game Warden Museum) until Yogi, of Jellystone fame, came on the scene.  Loveable, large, lumpish men are often called 'big ole teddy bears.'

     Native Americans revered the bear as a symbol of power, authority, and, not too surprisingly, of motherhood.  There are few animals whose mothers appear so loving, trusting and, well, human, as bears.  Images of a mother bear and her cubs loping about in the wilderness, tussling and rolling in the snow or on the forest floor, penetrate our unconscious need for the closeness of family.  The mother bear makes herself a complete model for her offspringóshowing them by example how to hunt, climb, run, hide, and if necessary, fight."



Go Nuts!

Squirrel Away These Savory Snacks

By Doug Smith


     "Just like the squirrels I watch as I jog near my rural Missouri home each morning, every fall I get the urge to store away provisions for the coming winter.  Itís a feeling Iíve experienced as far back as I can recall, and I tend to believe itís the caveman deep inside me that pushes me to squirrel away food. 

     Iím not alone in my paleo tendencies.  Over the centuries peasants and kings alike have made plans for coming lack.  Native Americans harvested bison and other meat and then dried the edible goods over a smoldering fire to preserve it for later use.  Colonists brought with them to America the practices of storing domestic grown vegetables and fruits in root cellars or covered in beds of straw or lime. 

     For the homesteader, or any rural resident, having supplies on hand is the way to survive when you live more than five miles from the nearest Walmart.  Weíre not just talking food items either, although thatíll be the focus of this article.  Rural residents are wise to also maintain stores of nails and other hardware, oil and garage supplies, basic home repair goods, first-aid stuff, and even money."




How to Buy a Pickup for the Homestead

By Jamie Svrcek


     "Let me start with a few general statements based on my experience with the trucks Iíve owned over the years.  Iíve owned everything from a compact Nissan XE pick-up to a one-ton Ford crew-cab and, like everything else; there are positives and negatives with each of them. 

     The small Nissan was great for its fuel economy and its ability to go places off the trail that would astound you.  I could put it anywhere that an ATV could go.  Its drawback was that it couldnít carry much payload, and with itís short bed, a trip to the lumber yard meant hitching a trailer or coming up with some rather precarious ways to transport eight-foot lengths of lumber.

     The large Ford was good for its ability to haul anything I asked of it, literally.  The four-door cab made it good for hauling help, they couldnít escape by saying, 'Oh you donít have enough room.' Its drawback was fuel economy, granted it was a gasoline powered truck, and a diesel would have done better.  I have a reason that I donít prefer diesels that I will touch on later. 

     All of that being said, I have determined over the years that as a general rule, the regular-sized, regular-cab, gasoline-powered, eight-foot bed, half-ton pick-up truck is the choice for most average homesteaders."



The Natural Building Colloquium of Kerrville, Texas

By Sheri Dixon


     "Our personal goal is to build by hand, quietly and slowly, using materials inherent to our region: earth, stone, and logs.  A shelter should be as individual as the family that lives in it.  'Houses' have Resale Value, 'Homes' have Value Without Measure.

     In our society 'Everything has a price', but truly wealthy families know that some things are irreplaceable and are not for sale. People to love and who love us back cannot be bought, meaningful employment sometimes has no paycheck, and Home should welcome us and shelter us from whatever the rest of the human world throws at us.

     What better escape is there from a culture full of speed, pointy things, plastic, mass production, and noise than an embrace of earth, logs, straw, fiber, and stoneóevery inch an individual spirit, formed with care by your own hands and the hands of your loved ones into one...big...giant...hug."



Weather Lore and Superstitions

By Sherrie Taylor


     "Since the beginning of time man has found various ways to predict the weather.  From this have come superstitions, old wives tales, and cultural stories passed from one family member to the next in each generation.  It is a way of controlling the environment by knowing what to expect from the coming season.  It is impossible according to scientists, and reliable according to those who know how to read the signs they have learned.  

     Based mostly in four season zones, but found around the world, the stories vary with the information gathered from the sky, air, animals and plants.  Farmers have depended on these predictions and superstitions for planting their crops and harvesting the bounty for the coming year.  If a harvest does not produce, many people would starve during the coming winter.  It was their lifeblood and their survival to produce a good harvest. 

     Sailors from our early history were guided by the sky, the stars and the wind.  Before the advent of technical advances a ship's captain used weather lore and superstitions to find his way.  He was responsible for import of goods and export of people to the New World.  His used the sky and the stars and the clouds to foretell of storms that could cost the lives of his crew or to guide the ship safely into port.  With each discovery came new superstitions from a new people in a common connection to the earth."




Herb Extraordinaire

By Gay Ingram


     "Basil, whether you pronounce it 'bah-zil' or 'bay-sil', Ocimun Basilicum is the most well-known of all herbs. If only one plant made an herb garden, this annual would be the choice. Whether you start this plant from seed on a sunny windowsill in February or March or wait until luxurious-looking plants are available at your favorite nursery, basil, in its several varieties, is recognized world-wide as an herb par excellence.
     Varieties are often named after their scent or physical characteristics. Leaves of this herb range in colors from dark purple to pale green and may be serrated or smooth, glossy or crinkly; flowers grow in whorls ranging from white to purple. Most of the commonly available basils range in growth from one to three feet tall and one to two feet wide. It is the pungent clove-like fragrance that rises to greet you as you brush the plant that makes it a favorite of many. The most common basil is sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum).



Lost Your Job?

Congratulations, You're Finally Self-employed

By Neil Shelton


     "So you're out of work; maybe you have been for a while. Well, as you probably know, you're not alone. Like a lot of other markets these days, the job market is in dire straits.
     Let me introduce you to a new way of thinking about job security: your job is never going to be secure-as long as you have a job. Working for someone else is always just that, and the only way to insure your job security is to start working for yourself. The good news is, you can start today.
     It's said that there are currently five job-seekers for every available position, so looking for work in this market may be time-consuming and fruitless. If you decide that from now on, you're going to be self-employed, then instead of looking for work, you go to work right now, and start looking for money (or business) instead.



Basket-making Basics

By Catherine Lugo


     "Basketry: possibly the oldest of human crafts.  It is time-honored, it is revered, it is respected, and still, it has the power to excite and involve us today.  Our ancestors fashioned their baskets out of whatever natural materials they found at hand: trees, bushes, vines, and grasses all went into the making of their baskets.  Don't you want to try your hand at this ancient art practiced the world over?

     Baskets made work and play possible in villages and towns; these handmade appliances were used to carry everything from food to water.  By using resources found in their homeland, the ancients let Mother Nature know of their respect for her.  Vital connections were thus strengthened.  When you fashion a basket, you embrace the past of all humankind and you encourage its future.  You are letting the forces that be know that you won't give up on the beauty of nature.  You will be writing your name in Mother Nature's book of life.  I guarantee it's worth the effort.     

     Unfortunately, the amazing natural materials that our ancestors used in styling their baskets decayed with age; the very thing that makes baskets so endearing and special is the reason not many baskets from the days of yore survive.  But don't worry, most of those very same materials are available to you today, so we can continue to carry on the grand tradition of weaving a basket."



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