Category Archives: Self-Reliant Living

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

Jersey Giants: The triple-purpose chicken

By Patrice Lewis

We’ve raised chickens for years, both for eggs and meat. Getting eggs from chickens is easy. Getting meat … well, not so much. No matter how many times you hear about various breeds being touted as “dual purpose” — good for eggs and meat — the meat part is likely to be disappointing. The bird that goes in your freezer is likely to be about the size of a skinny “rubber chicken” rather than the fat roasters you see on the rotisserie at Costco.… Read the rest

Bike foraging

 By Setanta O’Ceillaigh

When times are hard it pays to ride a bike. Bikes can travel at a reasonable speed, carry a reasonable cargo, and there is very little that can break. They are light enough to carry over rough terrain, and they are very good on gas — they don’t use any. But a bike is more than a means of hauling cargo or getting from place to place; it is also a very valuable foraging tool if you know how to use it.… Read the rest

Homemade condiments add a gourmet touch to almost any meal

By Linda Gabris

Nothing tickles the taste buds better than a squirt of mustard on a roasted wiener, relish on a burger, ketchup with French fries, horseradish on a slice of roast beef, or a spoon of chutney to crown a venison curry. These are just a few of my family’s favorite condiments that we use almost daily in our house to make our everyday meals so much more marvelous!

Of course, I should mention that my “condiment-crazy” gang isn’t exactly gung-ho for store-bought condiments because they are rather bland when compared to my homemade specialities.… Read the rest

Laundry line tips from an old hat

By Amanda Woodlee

Nothing warms my pioneer blood like clothes hanging on a line to dry. For me it’s a chance to unwind while I take care of household business. It’s a wonderful basic country skill, but, after so many years of doing it, I have found ways to make it easier and avoid its pitfalls, such as dust and scratchy towels.

There are also monetary benefits to line-drying your clothes. The most obvious is how considerably it lowers your electric bill — twofold!… Read the rest

Feta cheese

 By Melissa Souza

 
As a child I remember my Yiya having balls of curds draining around her kitchen. She was from “Greece’s Old Country” as she called it. Her homemade feta cheese was maybe the best thing I have ever tasted. We used to sneak big chunks of it as it was aging in her fridge. We lost Yiya a few years ago, but keeping her recipes alive for my own children has always been very important to me.… Read the rest

Why gardening is such good exercise, especially for women

By Tom Kovach

There is an old maxim about exercise: “The best exercise is the one you are willing to do.”

For us rural folk, one of the exercises we are usually willing to do is gardening, because it is part of the lifestyle of living in the country. How lucky for us, because a growing body of scientific evidence says that gardening, even when compared to such strenuous exercises as swimming and jogging, is one of the best exercises a human being can do.… Read the rest