"I remember first having
thoughts about living off the land when I was six years old. I was
sitting at the kitchen table with my brother and a friend, and I told
them I wanted to run off and live in the wild. Iíd eat wild plants and
make milk, just like a cow. Following that statement, I went outside
and gathered some grass, brought it in and mixed it with butter to
help it slide down and then started chomping away. I was in the
process of trying to swallow my first bite and smiling with tiny bits
of grass sticking to my teeth, when my brother said, 'If you are
really able to make milk, how are you going to milk yourself?' I
looked down at my body trying to determine what might be comparable to
a cowís utter. I have never been well endowed in that manner, so you
can imagine what I was like at the age of six. That was the end of my
endeavors at that point. Luckily, when I yanked that grass out of the
yard, I didnít yank up anything poisonous along with it.
"My connection with figs began early. I would have been no older than four when we moved to a little brick house in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an enclosed backyard. On the other side of our fence was our neighborís fig tree. Our neighbor was a spinster (as the term was applied in that era), and perhaps she did not realize the intense lure of the ripe fig to a small, active tomboy (as the term was applied in those days), a lure so powerful that I risked all to get to the prize. I clambered up the fence, scrunched perilously across the top rail, and secured two or three of the delicate wonders that had attracted me with their sweet aroma and their glowing pink and brown hues, not to mention the shapeólike a large teardrop, or something more mysteriously sensual that my little mind couldnít identify.
I was well on my way through the second of these delicious forbidden treats, hunched on the ground in the overhanging shade of the treeís large, deep green leaves, in my own backyard, when I heard a shout from the other side of the fence, and though I was only four, I knew the jig (or the fig) was up. Hearing the imprecations of the spinster as she stridently strode up to her side of the fence, my mother slapped open the kitchen screen door and strode, perhaps a bit more cautiously, as the temper of our female neighbor was as yet unknown.
I vaguely recall that I was hauled up by the scruff of my shirt and whacked on the butt to satisfy the fig-hoarding harpy, but worse, I was made to release the remaining fig, a bit smushed for having been squeezed in my fist behind my back. I had learned my lesson, though: FIGS GOOD."
...and Then Make Some Tasty
"I recently set out to learn how to make yogurt. In my initial information gathering, two things made an impression on me because they seemed at odds with each other. First, the practice of storing milk in a goat's stomach is what most likely led to the discovery of yogurt. Second it seems that if I want to make yogurt in 2012, I need to purchase a plug-in appliance along with countless other products or I would be doomed to immediate failure. This was according to various voices of reason on the internet. I know I am not the first person to come away from a day of online research feeling like I knew less than when I started. It was as if I stepped into a never-ending information labyrinth. A goatís stomach was the only thing that a yogurt-making website didnít try to sell me. Luckily I had a goat, but she had her own needs for her stomach. How could something so simple like spontaneously fermented milk have gotten so complex?
I am after a simpler life. Getting by with the basics is part philosophy and part necessity as a homesteader. More research eventually led to a few sensible souls both online and in some good old fashioned books. After sifting through the lower-tech approaches, I looked around my kitchen and took stock of what I had that would work. At the time, I was living in a trailer and working on a dairy farm. It was about as bare bones of a kitchen as I have ever lived with, at least indoors; but because I outfitted my kitchen correctly I should have all necessary utensils to make yogurt.
Before I got bit by the homesteading bug, I worked as a professional chef, so I had a fairly well-equipped kitchen. I am going to share with you my simplified yogurt technique, but first let me suggest some guidelines for outfitting your homestead kitchen."
Reality vs. the Cute Factor
"We have replaced their mothers and it is to us, directly, that they look for nourishment, warmth, cleanliness, and affection, the latter being what heightens their cute factor. Bottle lambs like to be cuddled, they like the closeness of our voices and our body heat, they like being scratched and stimulated physically and, even in this, we have replaced the bottle lambís mother to some degree.
There are many reasons a lamb may become a bottle lamb. It's mother may have died giving birth, or the lamb may have been rejected at birth by a mother drawn more to the other siblings. Some lambs become bottle lambs after the first few days of their life simply because their mothers are unable to produce enough milk, perhaps because she has given birth to two or more lambs, perhaps because half of her udder is non-productive. Then there are the young ewe lambs giving birth for the first time, who may simply have no idea about motherhood and walk away from their young. The bottle lambs that have never suckled at the nipple have not received colostrum from the mother and, during the first 24 hours of their lives, they have special needs beyond just milk. Colostrum is the thin yellowish fluid secreted by the mammary glands at the time of parturition that is rich in antibodies and minerals, preceding the production of true milk. Newborn lambs, even those destined for bottles, must have colostrum to survive and flourish.
Whatever the reason for the lamb needing to be bottle-fed to survive, most shepherds have a strong motivation to keep these young lambs alive. We keep sheep in order to, with hope, make money each year. We raise meat lambs. Everything born here is destined for the meat market, except our breeding stock and any ewe lambs that we consider good enough to include in our herd. In order to get them to market, they first have to survive."
By Regina Anneler
"If you have purchased eggs from a retailer recently, then you know that the most expensive eggs for sale are the ones known as 'cage-free' or 'free-range.' Why should these eggs have a higher value than the average commercial eggs? Part of the reason for this higher value is because these eggs cost more money to produce; however, they are better, healthier eggs all the way around. They have a higher nutritional value and the hens themselves are healthier than the caged birds kept under artificial light and fed a steady commercial diet. True free-range chickens are those that range outdoors on pasture. Meaning they do what all chickens do naturally: eat bugs, greens, and whatever leftovers they can scrounge or scratch up. The challenge for the homesteader, however, comes in the form of keeping and managing a flock of free-range chickens in order to reap the benefit of their eggs.
Besides the obvious nutritional benefits, free-range eggs simply taste better! The most likely cause of the differences between free-range eggs and those from caged, commercial-production hens is the diet the hens consume every day. Basically, you are what you eat. After all, the free-range chickenís diet is all natural and varied, while the caged hen eats only what is placed in front of her. Free-range hens are also usually healthier than their cousins kept in crowded cages in commercial poultry houses. The feeds given to commercial hens are the cheapest possible mixture of corn, soy, and/or cottonseed meals, with many types of additives mixed in. These additives often include growth hormones, meat and bone meals, as well as antibiotics and chemicals, like arsenic, to keep the chickens awake longer and producing more. The commercial chicken has a much shorter lifespan due to stress, illness and general disease than does a free-range henóunless, of course, the free-range hen falls prey to a natural predator."
Living Six Years Without an Electric Bill
By Chris Devaney
six years ago, I put up a rooftop-mounted wind generator, and then
another the following year, and then a third a year or so after that.
It wasnít hard to do and didnít require any special-function tools,
just the regular ones everyone has. Even so, I figured that I
better leave the tools handy. Those mechanical whirlygigs, I
supposed, will need attention, and more than likely, lots of it and
real soon. I get a typical wind of 10-15 mph almost every day,
stronger in the winter, and much stronger in a storm. Notice the
weather beaten and wind eroded appearance of the stain on my
homestead, certainly in need of a fresh coat. I even had a
hurricane back a year or so ago. No one liked that. Not
the house, not me, not even the wind generators. But nothing
broke, so those tools still lay dormant!
By Neil Shelton
"They came from the city.
They were prepared.
They were prepared for the complete collapse of world civilization, and with it the demise of the banks, the governments, the plumbing fixtures; all the institutions modern man relies upon.
They were prepared for the Next Ice Age when a giant meteorite crashes into Earth and tilts the planet on its axis, plunging life on Earth into a thousand years of winter.
They were prepared for times of mass starvation, when folks would shoot you for your food, because they knew that if they were starving, theyíd shoot someone for their food.
It didnít matter that none of these things had ever happened, they didnít have their heads buried in the sand, and they werenít taking any chances.
But there was something they werenít prepared for; something that has been a constant threat for approximately 4.5 billion years."
"I truly believe that our modern day decedents of Columba livia (rock dove/pigeon) are some of the all-time greatest game-bird species, and yet seemingly, they have been overlooked by most poultry and game-bird enthusiasts. Consider the following attributes which the pigeon masterfully displays: minimal space requirements, extremely simple housing needs, simple and easy to feed, can be allowed to free-range or be kept in total confinement, producer of delicious meat, raises its young up until butchering time (no need to use incubators and brooders), fun and entertaining, intelligent and beautiful, as well as being healthy and hardy. Thatís pretty good, huh? I can think of a few other species that match these criteria, but I do find that many birds which are much more popular than the humble pigeon come far from reaching them. I am left to sit and wonder why.
Requiring no specialized feed, the pigeon can thrive on anything from straight grains and legumes to pellets designed for chickens or turkeys. Plus, you only need a square foot of space per bird (more is always better, of course), which means they take up a minimal amount of room. The housing can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Give them a recycled rabbit hutch or a loft that can hold a hundred birds with self-cleaning nests and theyíll be happy and healthy all the same, on solid flooring, or wire for optimal sanitation. Even better, where city ordinances prohibit the keeping of other poultry, pigeons are most often legal. So, you can enjoy some birds of your own whether youíre keeping them in a window-box, on a balcony, in the front yard, or amidst hundreds of acres. Now thatís adaptable!
If kept as pets and ornamentals, or an additional source of meat on the homestead, the pigeon fits its place well and is not nearly as popular as it deserves to be. Letís look now at some more practical subjects."