Tag Archives: Spring 2017

Self-Reliance is going on the road!

We’ll be traveling all over the country this year to participate in 15 huge expositions featuring seminars, classes, hundreds of exhibitors, and thousands of participants, all with one thing in common — a desire to become more self-reliant, prepared, and educated. From canning and homesteading expert and author Jackie Clay-Atkinson to lunatic farmer Joel Salatin, these events are not to be missed. We’re excited to rub shoulders with some of the most prominent promoters of the self-reliance movement. Join us!

February 18-19: Belton, TX
Mother Earth News Fair
Bell County Expo Center
301 W. Loop 121, Belton, Texas

April 21-22: Sandy, UT
South Towne Expo Center
9575 S. State St., Sandy, Utah

May 6-7: Fletcher, NC
Mother Earth News Fair
Western North Carolina Agricultural Center
1301 Fanning Bridge Rd., Fletcher, North Carolina

May 21: Grants Pass, OR
Sustainable Preparedness Expo
Josephine County Fairgrounds
14151 Fairgrounds Rd., Grants Pass, Oregon

May 26-27: Irving, TX
Self Reliance Expo
Irving Convention Center
500 Las Colinas Blvd., Irving, Texas

June 10-11: Essex Junction, VT
Mother Earth News Fair
Champion Valley Exposition
105 Pearl St., Essex Junction, Vermont

June 16-18: Custer, WI
The Energy Fair
7558 Deer Road, Custer, Wisconsin

August 5-6: Albany, OR
Mother Earth News Fair
Linn County Expo Center
3700 Knox Butte Rd. E, Albany, Oregon

September 5-7: Santa Rosa, CA
The National Heirloom Expo
Sonoma County Fairgrounds
1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa, California

September 9-10: St. Paul, MN
The Energy Fair
Harriet Island Park, St. Paul, Minnesota

September 15-17: Seven Springs, PA
Mother Earth News Fair
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
777 Waterwheel Drive, Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

September 22-23: Denver, CO
Self Reliance Expo
National Western Complex
4655 Humboldt St., Denver, Colorado

October 1: Spokane, WA
Sustainable Preparedness Expo
Spokane Valley Fair & Expo Center
404 N. Havana St., Spokane Valley, Washington

October 14: Warrenton, VA
The Homesteaders of America Conference
Fauquier County Fairgrounds
6209 Old Auburn Rd., Warrenton, Virginia

October 21-22: Topeka, KS
Mother Earth News Fair
Kansas Expocentre
One Expocentre Drive, Topeka, Kansas

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! First, by not using power for the dryer, and, second, by not heating up your house and forcing the AC to work harder.

A second benefit is whiter whites. Ever leave something in a window too long and find the color faded? Sun-bleaching is an ancient tradition that is still practical. Bonus: the sun has germ-killing powers!

Hanging laundry is pretty simple stuff, and I’m not here to complicate it. Whether you’re new to it or an old hat like me, if you’d like to get the most out of it, here are a few tips I’d like to share from doing this a few years.

Towel the line — It’s warm out, and that means pollen is everywhere. Unless you’re into yellow stripes, take a minute to run a damp cloth down every inch of hanging surface.

Double up — Hang a piece with two pins, then overlap it with the next piece and use the second pin to hold up one side of the next piece, so that they share it. This works best on thinner pieces, and keep in mind it will slow the drying process a smidgen. This, along with grouping like items, is also helpful when you have a lot of pieces to hang so you don’t run out of pins.

Flip out — Remember what I said about the sun? That’s good on whites — leave them be. But, if you want your colors to last, protect their exteriors by turning them inside-out. This is also great for pants because it helps pockets dry faster. Pro-tip: turn underwear inside out. Don’t make me explain why.

Whip it good — Give everything a good shake when you hang it. Helps get the dog fur and wrinkles out. If there’s not any wind, clothes dry in the shape they’re left in, so make it a good one.

Fluff ‘n stuff — When finished, I like to toss the load into the dryer on the air-dry setting for 5-10 minutes; helps get the dust off and softens. Save this task for late at night or early in the morning before the temperature climbs.

Bring it in — Don’t leave clothes on the line overnight, and don’t leave the basket outside all day; the sun dries and weakens the plastic. And if your clothespin bag doesn’t zip, best take it inside so critters don’t move in and surprise you next time you reach inside!

Don’t be such a snag — If you have delicate fabrics (satins, laces, hosiery), consider investing in soft-grip plastic clothespins with rubber feet to avoid snags. For everything else my 50 or so wooden pins do just fine.

Scoot yer boot — I hang my pin bag over one of the middle lines and move it down as I go so it’s always nearby.

Special techniques

I have techniques for hanging every article of clothing. Socks and underthings get one pin each. Shorts and briefs get two — I fold the waistband over the line. Pants are hung upside-down by the leg with a pin on each cuff. Tees, blouses, and polos get a pin at each shoulder.

Button-up shirts, however, have their own special way to hang, a technique handed down for generations in my family. Take the two seams on either side of the shirttail, and pin those. This way the shirt hangs upside-down, and the breeze can flow through the armholes.

As soon as the daily temperature is in the 50s, I start hanging laundry; this year that was February. And I don’t quit until October-November. If I get up early and the sun is warm, I can get three loads done. For my husband and me, I do one a day during the week to maintain.

If the wind is over 10-15 mph, I wait. Better to put it off than risk damaging the clothes. Save sturdy loads (blankets, towels, heavy sheets) for blustery days.

Drawbacks? Not many. The occasional rogue bird needs target practice. Spiders and other critters (mostly boxelder bugs) have met untimely ends in the dryer during post-hang fluffing. I sometimes find their shriveled carcasses on my socks and shake them off. The boxelder bugs have been eating my baby raspberry bush leaves — the meanies deserve what they get.

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. In the Old Country they didn’t use things like calcium chloride, but since they are readily available, and make the process a bit easier, I have tweaked Yiya’s recipe a bit.

    1 gallon raw goat milk
    ½ tablet rennent
    1 Tbsp. plain greek yogurt
    1 tsp. calcium chloride
    6 Tbsp. pure fine seasalt (for a later step)


Heat milk on medium low heat (stirring) until it reaches 88°F. Remove from heat, and stir in one tablespoon greek yogurt (mix it with a tablespoon water so it’s easy to blend), and one teaspoon calcium chloride (this will make your cheese curds more firm). Cover and let sit for an hour. (1)

Dissolve half a tablet of rennet in about four tablespoons of cold, unchlorinated water. Wisk gently into milk. Cover and let sit overnight or about 12 hours. (2)

The next morning there will be a layer of whey on top of the pot, and the curds will have separated. Take a long, sharp knife and cut ½ inch slices into the curds. Turn the pot 90 degrees and cut ½ inch lines the other way. (3) Take your clean hand or large spoon and lift the curd strips from the bottom, then cut any large pieces. (4)

Strain the whey into a large pitcher or jar and save for a later step. (5) Wrap the curds tightly in cheese cloth, and allow to drain until no more whey comes out (about four hours). (6) Unwrap your curds, sprinkle with one tablespoon of pure fine sea salt, and break up curds to mix in all of the salt. (7)


Transfer curds into your cheese press or mold. There are online ideas for making one if you don’t own one. In my case, I just have the mold, but no cheese weights, so I press the cheese inside by placing my husband’s exercise weights on top. The cheese will sit like this overnight. (8)

Once the cheese is in the mold, transfer 2½ cups of the whey into a jar and add five tablespoons of salt. This will be your brine for your cheese. Let the brine sit out 12-24 hours. Allowing it to sit out will make it acidic, and it must be or your cheese will melt. I set it next to the cheese press, and let both do their thing for 12-18 hours in the summer, or longer in the colder months.

In the morning dump your cheese onto a flat surface and cut into chunks. Place all the chunks in a container, and cover with the brine. (9) Store covered in fridge, and allow cheese to age in the brine for 3-5 days before eating.


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. The reason is gravity and our evolved need to interact with it.

Ilene Duffy, whose mom, Kathy, suffered from osteoporosis, gardens as a way to help stave off the symptoms of the condition.

Gardening has us bending, digging, twisting, stooping, lifting, carrying, and huffing and puffing to overcome gravity as we plant, nurture, and harvest our vegetables. Swimming lacks the pull of the earth against our bones and muscles, and jogging lacks the constant flexing of our bodies that gardening requires.

Although gardening is good for both sexes, it is especially good for women who are more prone to osteoporosis as they age. Some years ago, in a study undertaken at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville called Physical Activity and Bone Density Among Older Women, it was found that women 50 and older, who gardened at least once a week, showed higher bone density readings than those who engaged in other types of exercise including jogging, swimming, walking, and aerobics.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Lori Turner, then an associate professor of Health and Science at the University, said that research has long shown that weight-bearing exercise can help women maintain healthy bones. “By knowing which exercise provides the greatest benefit, women can design a workout regime that ensures strong bones as they age,” Dr. Turner said.  She added that such preventive measures may reduce the number of people who develop osteoporosis, a debilitating disease that threatens almost 50 million Americans.

“Within our study, more than half the women, 57 percent, showed low bone density,” said Turner. “There is no question that osteoporosis is a problem in our society. But if we persist in only treating the disease, the number of victims will never drop.  We have to find ways to prevent it.”

To gain a comprehensive look at the effects of exercise on older women, Turner looked at the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a data set collected by the National Center for Health Sciences, which contains information on more than 40,000 people. From a pool of women ages 50 and older, she examined how often they performed different activities including gardening, calisthenics, bicycling, dancing, aerobics, swimming, jogging, walking, and weight training. Turner’s research showed only two activities to be significant in maintaining healthy bone mass: gardening and weight training.

Turner said: “We hadn’t expected garden work to be significant. Gardening is sometimes taken for a dainty activity. It’s not. There is a lot of weight bearing motion going on in the garden, like digging holes, pulling weeds, hoeing, and pushing a mower or a tiller.”

The outdoor exposure to sunlight also boosts vitamin D production, which aids the body in calcium absorption.

But gardening and other weight bearing exercises are beneficial for everyone. Doctors noticed years ago that patients recover more quickly after major surgery if they are made to get up and walk (interact with gravity) the morning after surgery. Previously, patients were thought to need bed rest at the start of their recovery, but patients who were encouraged to walk the morning after surgery, even if only across their room and down the hospital hallway, seemed to jump start their recovery.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is conducting numerous studies today to ascertain the effects of zero-gravity over prolonged periods on astronauts. They have discovered that human cells do not properly grow healthy muscles and bones unless they vigorously interact with gravity. The debilitating effects of the lack of interaction with gravity became apparent when astronauts returned to earth after lengthy stays at the International Space Station. The astronauts can neither walk nor even stand, but must be carried from their re-entry capsules. It turns out the astronauts had lost both muscle and bone quality.

Since it can be expensive to study weightlessness on earth, some NASA earth-based studies have involved subjecting test subjects to six months of bed rest as a way to simulate near-gravity situations. They have the test subjects lie in bed for 60 days, eating, defecating, doing everything while laying down. They are hoping the tests will lead to ways to deal with the effects of zero gravity over prolonged periods. The same muscle atrophy and bone loss happens to these test subjects that happens to hospital patients who are bedridden for weeks at a time. Like the patients, the test subjects must undergo physical therapy to recover their former ability to interact with gravity.

Evolution has simply conditioned the human body to depend on gravity to help it produce the biological material that lets its cells successfully produce new bone and muscle. In a nutshell, humans must interact with gravity to remain healthy. The more vigorously we interact with gravity, such as when we garden, the healthier we remain.