Category Archives: Self-Reliant Living

Off to a good start — newborn goats and the first days of life

By Donna Insco

Baby animals born on the farm are a rite of spring, and few things are more appealing than young goat kids cavorting in the fields. But the road to healthy newborns actually starts the fall before.

I start preparing for spring kids the first day of August by doing two things: I make my final decision on which female kids to keep as replacement does, and I remove the buck from all contact with the rest of the herd.… Read the rest

Amen to the Praying Mantis

By Allen Easterly

Over the teeth and past the gums, look out stomach here it comes. I don’t know if that’s the prayer being said by the Praying Mantis but I sure hope he gets his dinner. I’ve got too many harmful insects stalking my vegetable garden looking for a tender, tasty treat.

Named for its heavy front legs, held in a position that suggests it is praying, the Praying Mantis is one of the top insect predators.… Read the rest

Fruits for the Far North

By Johanna Melchiore

Eighteen years ago when we moved from our Maine homestead to Canada where we established a new homestead in the wilderness of northern Saskatchewan, we knew gardening was going to be a challenge. I was especially concerned about growing perennial fruit plants such as raspberry and berry bushes that would need to survive winter temperatures of -40 or even colder. Located just above the 56th parallel, our growing season is short, snow is on the ground well into May, our summers are often cool and the threat of frost is ever-present.… Read the rest

Rethinking the weeds

 By Mary Ann Lieser

My father tended a beautiful garden most summers of his life. Each late winter he started tomato plants from seed indoors and then, come May, transplanted four dozen of the healthiest specimens to the large, heavily composted garden plot that he’d spaded by hand. By August, when the tomatoes were beginning to ripen, pumpkin vines curled around the cornstalks, the melons were growing too large to be shaded anymore by the plants’ lush leaves, and the radishes and lettuces had long since been cleared away to make room for a second planting for fall salads.… Read the rest

Impromptu shelters

By Charles Sanders

Emergencies happen. Whether you are camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, or just traveling, there may come the time when you are thrust into a real survival situation. As a self-reliant type of person, you probably realize that there are times when we can not depend upon getting help exactly when we need it and must rely upon our own wits and skill.

As a part of the Survival Basics program that I present occasionally, I stress the importance of remembering the Rule of Threes.… Read the rest

Keeping garden tools sharp

By Tom Kovach

A few minutes spent sharpening garden tools can save hours in the garden. Sharp tools make work easier and safer. A sharp hoe can quickly cut through soil to sever a weed. But a dull hoe will take more effort and may not do as good a job as a sharp hoe does. This holds true for all garden tools. You also keep your plants more healthy with sharp tools. Dull gardening shears can split and tear stems, opening them to infection.… Read the rest

An old-school cache to store food and supplies

By Setanta O’Ceillaigh

After two very productive gardens and two winters of dehydrating food, I found I had a substantial amount of dried goods in sealed jars. While I was filling my cabin with more jars than I could keep track of, I pondered the possibility of future crop failures — not just of my own garden but regional failures which were common historically. Before the advent of canning in the early 1800s it was not practical to store fruit and vegetables for long periods of time, as mold and insects would eventually spoil even the best laid provisions.… Read the rest

Gardening after sixty

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson

Nearly all of us garden in some form or another. After all, isn’t growing our own food one of the tenets of self-reliance? Besides that, it’s fun, fulfilling, and good exercise. Biting into that first sun-ripened tomato, crisp, sweet carrot, or oh-too-juicy melon makes all that planning and work worthwhile instantly. But as we age, some of the work becomes more difficult and we need to find new ways to do the things that make that garden not only possible but more enjoyable, too.… Read the rest

Little ones on the homestead

By Melissa Souza

Everywhere I go around the homestead I have four little ones following close behind me, two of which always have their boots on the wrong feet. Folks are always asking how we get it all done with four homeschooled children. It is true that I never have a stretch of time when children are gone at school, but that only means that I have helpers all of the time. Homesteading with children is a state of mind.… Read the rest

Fresh figs

By Kristina Seleshanko

When we moved to our 15 acre homestead, I was thrilled to adopt a mature orchard. Most of the common fruit trees were there, including apples, plums, cherries, and pears. And then there were four fig trees. Suddenly I realized I’d never even tasted a fig … unless you count Fig Newton cookies. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about figs — and I must say I’m as delighted with those trees as I am with the other fruit trees in our orchard.… Read the rest