Are you interested in HOMESTEADING LIFESTYLE?  Then you might find one of these articles handy:

Homesteading for Retirement by Brenda Curkendall

Heating with Wood by Doug Smith

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Home Winterization Anyone Can Tackle by Doug Smith

The Actively Passive Home by Sheri Dixon

Crofting Life by Magdalena Perks

Dutch-oven Cooking by Catherine Lugo

Rockin’ Out With the Stones -  Homesteader Style: Building a Natural Stone Fireplace Surround by Sheri Dixon

He Who Shall Not Work Shall Not Eat: Part One of the History of American Homesteading by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Easy as Pie: The Myth of Simple Living by Sheri Dixon

Time Traveling with the WPA: Missouri by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Weather Lore and Superstitions by Sherrie Taylor

Fishing Without Chena by Clark Johnson

Non-Electric Dreamin’ by Barbara Bamberger Scott

I’m From the Universe, and I’m Here to Help by Sheri Dixon

Signpost to Simplicity - Wanda Urbanska Points the Way by Barbara Bamberger Scott

Laws of Attraction by Sherrie Taylor

Natural Alternatives to Chemical Household Products by Diana Barker

The Plain Paper - Letters From The Budget by Barbara Bamberger Scott

What I Learned From Poultry by Diana Barker

American Farmers Today - Part One by Karyn Sweet

What is Your Homestead $ Number? by Tony Colella

Homesteading in Appalachia by Karyn Sweet



Besides being all but a necessity of rural life, knowing how to decipher legal descriptions can lead you to fascinating insights into the history of your land.

How to Read Legal Descriptions



Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Public Land Survey System,  and Perhaps a Tiny Bit More.

by Neil Shelton

Excerpted from Neil's latest book, LandBook, The small landowner's guide to buying, improving, maintaining and selling rural land.

If you’ve ever wondered over the deed to your property, or the strange designations you’ve seen in your real-estate tax bill, you’ve come face to face with a legal description.

Ever since man started slicing up the earth and deciding which pieces of it belonged to whom, there has been a need for defining exactly where any given piece of land might lay.  In early Britain, this was handled in a memorable fashion: the practice was to take a young child from the neighborhood, lead him one by one to the corners of the tract of land in question, then give him a severe thrashing at each location.

The theory was that the child would long remember each spot (if beaten with sufficient gusto) and could testify to its location long into the future.

Today’s coddled children have it easy: we just record a survey at the County Recorder’s Office, but when we walk around the perimeter of a property, we still call it, “beating the bounds”.  That’s how the phrase originated.

In most of the United States, rural land is described according to what is referred to as the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), or less frequently, Government or Rectangle Survey, or much less frequently, the Aliquot system.  It's used in thirty of the most rural states, including Alaska, but excluding Texas and the original thirteen colonies 

Here's how that works:

First of all, a series of base-marks has been established for all of the continental U.S.  Lines running north to south are referred to as "meridians" and east-west lines are called "base-lines".

Here's a map showing all the meridians and baselines:

You'll notice that the Meridians converge as they go north.  That, of course, is because of the curvature of the earth.  Most of the effort involved in this sort of land description relates to different ways to describe squared boundaries on a spherical globe.  It's like trying to put a postage stamp on an orange; you've got to figure out ways to iron out the wrinkles. 


Starting from a baseline and a meridian line, Township Lines and Range Lines lay out a grid of 6-mile square blocks.  For example, the first line 6 miles north of the Base Line is named Township 1 North of the Base Line, and the first line 6 miles east of the Meridian is Range 1 East of the Principle Meridian.  The block that those two lines form is called Township 1 South, Range 1 East, or T1S,R1E.

Each Township and Range is further divided into 1-mile squares called Sections.  The most important thing to remember about this stage of the process is that the 36 sections are numbered and arranged BOTH left to right AND right to left, as in Figure 27.

Then once you get inside a Section, that's when things really get interesting… or complicated, depending on your point of view.  Each section can be divided into quarters and halves, so that a quarter-section is 160 acres and a quarter of a quarter is 40 acres.  In Figure 28, the top ten-acre square in the northwest corner is described as "The Northwest Quarter of the Northwest Quarter of the Northwest Quarter of Section 12 Township 28N, Range 8 West" which is abbreviated NE1/4,NW1/4,NW1/4, S12 T28N R8W, or simply NE NW NW 12-28-8.

Got that?  Okay, let's try it out.  Suppose I want to look up a legal description that I've found on an old Warranty Deed... 



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