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"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds." –Aesop

Click to see the rest of this homestead in rural Peru.

Photo by McKay Savage


As Free as the Wind Blows

By Catherine Lugo


     "To me, birds are the living embodiment of what it truly means to be free.  On many a sunny day I have looked skyward and seen our fine feathered friends soaring effortlessly above.  Watching them stirs my soul and I envy their freedom to climb into the clouds and then plummet to the earth at will.  They soar through the air with the greatest of ease and I have often wondered how they accomplish this.  What I’ve learned about birds has amazed and fascinated me and has taught me that we owe them more than we will ever know.  

     The bones of modern birds are adapted to conserve weight in flight; their feathers usually weigh more than a birds’ entire skeleton.  Their bones are mostly hollow, braced by internal struts and honeycombed with air sacs.  These air sacs allow air to flow through them and into the bird’s lungs when the bird is in flight, increasing the supply of oxygen to their body parts.  A prime example is the golden eagle; this bird has a wingspan of up to 8 feet and weighs less than 9 pounds."  Read more...


Jessica's New Homestead Cookbook

Caramel Apple Cobbler

By Jessica Shelton


     "You'd never know it with a heat index of 99° here in the Ozarks earlier this week, but, according to the calendar, Fall has finally arrived.  You can probably guess, with temperatures like that, I couldn't be happier about it.  I'm ready for crisp, Autumn air, cozy sweaters, fuzzy socks, and fall-spiced goodies.  So, even though it was in the upper 80s here yesterday, I couldn't help but celebrate the arrival of the season with this delicious caramel-apple cobbler.  A cobbler, technically, is a fruit pie with a crust only on top.  I've seen many variations of cobbler crusts—from handmade pie-crust to store-bought canned biscuits—but this cake-like version was new to me.  I'm glad I gave it a try, though, because it had a wonderfully soft, rich texture with chewy, almost crisp edges.  Not only did it taste amazing, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and simple it was.  So, even if, like me, you're still not-so-patiently waiting for the mercury to drop in your neck of the woods, embrace autumn by baking up this sweet apple treat over the weekend and thinking of cooler temperatures, colorful foliage, and cozy clothes... after all, we'll be covered in snow before we know it. Read more...



Getting Ready to Get Ready For Winter

By Kim Flottum


     "If you do your homework now, before winter, when it finally arrives all the preparation pieces are in place and your bees have everything they need, long before they need it. 

     Start with making sure the bees in the boxes today are healthy.  Of course the biggest problem honey bees have is that pesky varroa mite.  If you’ve been on top of things all summer you have been keeping the mite population in check by routinely trapping and removing them in drone brood; plus, you have a screened bottom board so when a mite gets brushed off a bee it falls through the bottom and away from the bees; and you’ve and dusted your colonies with powdered sugar most every time you have checked the bees all summer long.  Those three pest management techniques work remarkably well and will generally keep mite populations manageable in an otherwise healthy hive.  The only other necessary task is to make sure that mite population is reasonable… Read more...



Winter Preparedness

Prepare for the Worst Winter Can Throw at You, So You Can Enjoy the Fun Winter Offers

By Jan Cooke


   "Officially, WINTER starts on December 21st, the shortest day of the year.  But here winter starts the end of October, if not earlier.  Once the snow arrives in October, it is here to stay until April.  Those of us who live in the Northern States or Canada know all about winter.  You can tell a lot by the jokes, such as: 'Here we have 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sledding.'  'We have 4 seasons: Winter, Still Winter, Almost Winter, and Construction.'  It is said that we prefer to drive in the winter because the snow fills in the pot holes.  So, to enjoy winter you have to be prepared for winter.  How do you go about getting ready for winter?  Well, reality is, winter is coming no matter if you are ready or not.  But there are some basic rules that apply for dealing with winter. 

     My wife says that the best winter preparedness is to stay home, hibernate and wake up come spring.  However, while that works for bears and gophers, it is not practical for most people. Read more...




Apartment Living, Homestead Lifestyle

By Benjamin K. Coffman


     "Many people simply don’t have the financial means or the opportunity to own a home and land.  I have been one of those people for the past six years.  In all that time I’ve read countless books on homesteading and gardening.  I’ve never read one book that seriously dove into homesteading without land.  It’s possible; you just can’t expect to grow a huge garden on a balcony, but homesteading is not all gardening.  There are other ways you can change how you live to help yourself, your wallet, and the planet without owning land.

     The first and most obvious place to make changes is the home.  If you can start changing small things and saving money in your home, then you can make space or save for bigger projects down the road.  If you change your mode of thinking in your home, it will start to leak out into your life.  Before you know it, you’ll be making conscious decisions about things at work and beyond that."  Read more...



The Homesteader in Denial

How to Convince Your Partner You’re Not Crazy

By Clare Brandt


     "Ah, marital bliss.  After more than a decade living in a large city—one that annually makes a top ten list of shame, alternating between 'highest crime' and 'worst places to live'—the family has decided to get out of Dodge.  The appearance of one, then two, small children in our lives added weight to this decision, but secretly I’ve been dreaming of this for years.  You see, unlike my hubby, I have a desire to get away from the city, and its attendant crowds and traffic, just so I can find a little patch of Earth where the air is clean and I can see the stars at night.

     Yes, the homesteader in me is starting to show.  I try to hide it in another pot of store-bought herbs for the windowsill.  Just when I thought I’d completely repressed my earlier aspirations to grow a few vegetables, have a little herb garden, or raise some chickens for fresh eggs, they raise their heads and howl."  Read more...



Economics of Dairy Goats

By Allena Jackson


     "Milk prices have certainly gotten higher in the last few years, high enough that many of us small farmers are seriously considering a dairy animal.  For our family the shear volume from a cow, plus the added expense for purchase and maintenance, was a serious roadblock to obtaining one.  We never even considered a dairy goat, because, well, we never drank any goat milk.  There definitely is a stigma against the dairy goat, and we often associate them with a 'goaty' taste and unpleasant smell.  While bucks do have a very unpleasant odor in breeding season, the females, or does, do not and are pleasant and easy to care for.

     When milk is $4.50 per gallon at the supermarket, keeping a dairy animal starts to look really economical, especially when you drink a lot of milk.  For us, with 5 children, we will use 1-1.5 gallons of milk each day.  At today's prices in our area, that adds up to about $130.00-$135.00 a month."  Read more...



There is Only One Way, DAMMIT, to Pronounce "Missouri"!

By Neil Shelton


     "Alright, enough is enough!   

     I've got to get something off my chest that's really been testing my patience for the last thirty or forty years, and that's the way otherwise intelligent, astute human beings pronounce that word, 'Missouri'.

     Before we can progress with this invaluable lesson, we should determine whether you are, like myself, a careful practitioner of proper grammar, punctuation and spelling, or if you are, shall we say, part of the problem.

     If the latter is the case, we need to think up something to do with you." Read more...




Alleviating Aphid Aggravation

By Kristin Mauer


     "With the winds of seasonal change on the horizon, we don't necessarily have to hang up our hoes and head inside the house until Spring Break.  Even gardeners in some of the more frigid climates around the country can rely on potatoes, chard, lettuce, and a variety of other cold-weather crops to elongate their growing season.  One of the many perks of putting in a fall garden is the lack of biting insects and invasive pests that we are forced to contend with on a daily basis during the plentiful, warm weeks of summer...

     But then there is the sustenance-sucking aphid.  Aphids are survivors, and if there is food growing, they can survive pretty much anywhere.  Cool, crisp nights and mornings are no test for these little invasive critters.  Gardeners can find them happily continuing to draw the nutrients out of the leaves, stems and sometimes even the roots of their hopeful harvests right on through the fall season and into the cold months.  As all garden-loving folks are well aware, putting in the time and effort to raise fresh fruits and veggies, only to witness them quickly become devoured by nature’s noshing creatures is quite a disappointment."  Read more...


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