The Homestead Cookbook

Homesteaders You Should Know

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“‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.  Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.  I am the Lord your God." ~ Leviticus 19:33-34

Photo by Dwight Sipler


The Mountain Men

By Catherine Lugo


     "Who were the mountain men?  They were America's original survivalists.  They were the pathfinders of yore, lovers of nature, and fiercely independent.  They lived and roamed the mountains and back-country of America from the 1800s to about the 1860's.  They were the original survivalists, trapping beaver, muskrat, and otter, and living off the land.  Traveling through the countryside dressed from head to toe in his homemade buckskin outfit, the mountain man plied their trade mostly in the Rocky Mountains, and became instrumental in opening the uncharted west to the settlers that would eventually pour in.  Because of the mountain man's fierce independence, bravery, and willingness to follow his bliss in the face of untold danger, the American West was made more accessible to settlers.

     The life of the mountain man was an exciting one and one that makes for great stories even today.  It's fun to imagine how they traveled through unknown territory, depending on their wits and survival know-how.  They trapped beaver and sold the pelts at annual fur rendezvous across the west.  The rendezvous was about the only time a mountain man got to meet up with and get face-to-face contact with other trappers.  The rest of the time, he lived and traveled the back-country completely alone, only occasionally teaming up with other trappers. 

     Those days of roaming free on the land, having no laws, no neighbors and no boundaries are long gone.  The life they lived was solitary and dangerous, but they lived it willingly and became specialists in their field.  We today will never know the courage it took for them to travel their solitary roads knowing that the next Grizzly bear or Indian attack could be just around the corner.  His travels across the uncharted territory, that was then a new and unmapped country, opened the way for future generations of Americans who will never know the struggles of the mountain men."



Right On, Sister!

The Feminzation of Farming in North America

By Bonnie Lavigne


     "There has always been a female face to agriculture: the tough homesteader pioneering the frontier; the milkmaid; the tender of the flocks; the manager of records; the daughters and wives who pitched in with every chore known to farming, and helped keep it all together.  Traditional attitudes however have undermined women’s contribution to the business of farming; ignored their history until it was virtually forgotten; restricted their access to resources; and have made them just about invisible. 

     This is now changing.  Many roles remain the same, but attitudes are evolving.  For female farm owners (or the throngs of would-like-to-be's), resources are opening up in the form of support groups, educational programs, and importantly, mainstream finance that has begun to recognize women’s impact, skills and reliability.  Two key factors that will influence new gender trends in agriculture are women’s past financial disadvantage, and their interest in producing healthy, ethically grown food...

     Female ingenuity may discover ways to decentralize our current distribution channels, at least for meats, produce, honey, eggs, and a myriad of specialty and artisanal foods.  Picture local networks of cooperatives surrounding cities and towns, giving people back their right to access diverse, wholesome, sustainable, and ethically grown food.  Then picture the farmer providing this wholesome food, and you’ll likely see a woman in overalls, pitchfork in hand, working hard to create a better tomorrow for herself, her family, and you."



Doctoring on the Homestead

By Lacey Thacker


     "Let’s face it: at some point in life, there is a distinct possibility that you will, in fact, have to make a trip to the doctor’s office.  Surgery, a broken bone, stitches—these are situations an untrained person such as you or I would probably not want to deal with at home, nor should we.  However, whether you are living thirty miles out of town or in a town apartment, one should not have to run to the doctor for the everyday cuts, scrapes, and bruises that come from hard work. 

     Granted, you could just keep a few basic OTC’s in your first-aid kit - but then that wouldn’t be particularly self-reliant, would it?  Nor would it be, and I stress this, particularly FUN!  And, since you are reading this, I can only assume that you are interested in living a somewhat self-sufficient life in which, for fun and function, you just might have to get a little creative on occasion.  Who knows, maybe you can work out a barter with the neighbor.  With all of that said, let’s get to the goods..."



Belted Galloways

The Oreo-cookie Cow

By Victoria Varga


     "The 'Belted Galloway', a hardy breed of Scottish Cattle, is distinctive because of the belted, white band evenly distributed around the mid section of the otherwise totally black animal.  Many breeders and cattle fanciers refer to the 'belties' as Oreo Cookie Cows.

     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 1700’s 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 1800’s, 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 animal’s mid section."



Hens are Birds, too

By Faith Drummond


     "Hens are fussy about their nests, just like any other bird.  Although there are many reasons why hens stop laying, dissatisfaction with their environment is often the culprit.  Many birds have strict prerequisites about  nesting sites.  No one thinks it unreasonable for Purple Martins to prefer a white-colored, 'condo-style' house with several compartments for relatives.  The Robin likes to build itself a 'mud hut', whereas Tree Swallows don't build their own nests, instead preferring to occupy a woodpecker's abandoned site.  When selecting a man-made house, they prefer one with an eastern, western, or southern aspect, and they abhor neighbors.  Bluebirds are nit-pickers when it comes to their nesting materials: only soft grasses and fragrant pine needles will do.  They prefer their house to be about 4 feet off the ground, whereas the American Kestral likes an elevated aspect from 20 feet.  Swallows don't like houses at all - a nesting shelf is what keeps them happy.  Bluebirds prefer a house in a sunny spot, whilst Robins prefer shade, and Wood Duck likes a house which faces water.  So why should chickens be any less particular?"



The Unsung Benefits of Homesteading

(There's a Perfectly Good Reason for the Egg in My Pocket)

By Sheri Dixon


     "Oh sure, we all know the perks of growing our own food, supplying our own energy and being as self-sufficient as we can be, but what about the benefits of homesteading that AREN'T touted from the cover of the latest Men magazine?...

     When something breaks or otherwise needs mending around the place, city folk get into the SUV and head for the Home Depot for the proper parts and the proper tools for the job.  I have neither the SUV nor the money for such extravagances as Parts and Tools.  Luckily, I DO have an endless supply of baling wire.

     Homesteaders take multitasking to a level unheard of by most folks.  We can feed the livestock, milk the goats, gather eggs, get breakfast into our families, have several loads of laundry washed and hung out to dry, the family washed and dressed and the whole crowd ready to face the day in less time than it takes for some of those Big Haired Women to do their 'do.  Of course, later in the day when your son needs a tissue and you reach into your jacket pocket and present him with an egg, it may be a sign that you need to slow down just a tad, but considering the workload, still not too shabby."



Why Don't Jukeboxes offer "None of the Above"?

By Neil Shelton


     "As the Baroque era dawned, man quickly sought to distance himself and his music from the grim chaos that had gone before and the more sophisticated, resplendent and celestial music became, the more he liked it.

     Who can blame him?  If all you got to listen to all day long was the grunts and snorts of farm animals or the wails of your neighbors dying of bubonic plague, a string quartet would sound pretty nice, even nicer than it does today.

     However, as luck would have it, time continued, and more different sorts of music began to fill the air. 

     Today, we have music played on all manner of instruments for people of all manner of taste, even those whose taste it is to prefer anything that will scandalize their parents.

     ...and I don't have a problem with that.  If I weren't so sick of music, I'd like all kinds of it too.

     But sick of it I am, and the reason why is because I can't escape it."



How Sears, Roebuck Helped Homesteading Happen

By Barbara Bamberger Scott


     "If you shop online, and I admit I often do, as you open a new webpage with all its wonders, you know something of the magic tingle that our homesteading ancestors experienced when they got that catalogue.  Suddenly a huge new world was opened before their eyes.  I recently purchased a reprinted 1902 Sears and Roebuck catalog at a yard sale, just to look at the pictures and imagine what it would have been like to be a lonely housewife on a farm in Nebraska, dreaming of a swath of 'multicolored' cloth for curtains, or a 'plaid' ribbon, a guitar or a petticoat or a dining table or an oil lamp—all illustrated in stark black and white, each picture promising Improvement, Progress, Decoration, Health, Utility, Profit—in other words, Prosperity.  In a rural landscape devoid of radio, television, phones, or movies, the Sears catalogue was the World Wide Web of its day...

     Once Americans in the remote heartland (Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho) saw what was available to them through the catalogue, and realized it could all be theirs for cash or a money order and a short waiting period, the fortunes of Sears and Roebuck were assured...

     For the homesteader, the Sears products and the trains that brought them were nothing short of miraculous.  By the 1920s, Sears, Roebuck, and Co. sold cars (and printed a separate automobile catalogue), electric washing machines (what a blessing for our foremothers!), silk stockings (what a blessing for our forefathers!), and even school desks to help communities get local educational initiatives off the ground.

     My 1902 catalogue reproduction sold for fifty cents. It has a whopping 1,162 pages; the index, in tiny print, is 12 pages long.  Each section is packed with pictures (as many as thirty per page) and fascinating descriptions.  The furniture would make a modern homesteader or amateur antique collector drool: an oak dresser ('No Better Value Offered') with mirror cost $11.95.  How about an 'Extra Large Genuine Machine Buffed Leather Cover Stuffed Couch' for $26.50 with this promise, typical of the Sears, Roebuck trustworthiness: 'If you will send us your order and money, we will send the couch to you, guaranteeing it to reach you in perfect condition, and if not found in every way satisfactory, you can return it to us at our expense of freight charges both ways and we will immediately return your money.'

     It would be difficult to find any business concern today willing to make such a guarantee."



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