pine pitch drawing salve

Pine Resin Drawing Salve

In the winter months there is nothing quite like the smell of conifers.  As the light of spring and summer shifts to the darker, dormant months, so does our need to focus on these fragrant and readily available resources.  The evergreen nature of conifers gives us a bounty of medicine in their greenery, bark and even their inner resin.  Some refer to this as “sap” but technically pitch and resin are the two correct descriptors.  Needles of several pine varieties make a tasty tea that is high in vitamin C and is useful as an immune system booster and cold fighter, but the inner resin, or pitch, is the real wonder medicine of the conifer.  One our favorite uses for the resin is as a salve.  This salve has a warming, stimulating/moving action that does wonders for drawing out splinters and it’s warming, stimulating nature makes it a sought after Read More

Acorn cap whistles, fall crafts

Acorn Cap Whistles – Fun Nature Activity

Everyone loves a fun kid’s activity, especially one that you can participate in and that sparks a child’s appreciation for simple pleasures.  We live in an area with gigantic chestnut oak trees and for us, these trees, a member of the white oak family, provide us with a variety of assets.  We use the shade provided by their leaves in the spring and summertime to help keep our passive-solar home cool, their acorns in the fall to process into flour for food and their wood in the wintertime to heat our home with our woodstove.  A couple of years ago, a friend of ours, Bart Miller, added another use by showing us how to whistle by blowing into the empty acorn caps.   It’s really easy, but in addition to a written description how to do it, we’ve made a quick, very awful, video.  🙂 Read More

IMG_2592

Make A Coon Skin Hat – Easy, Start To Finish Instructions

Making a coon skin cap is not as difficult a project as it would seem and here we have it broken down step by step, starting with the animal to be skinned and ending with a finished cap.   You can even skip down to step #10 and use the pattern instructions if you choose to make a faux coon skin cap with “fur” from the fabric store.  Our skin came from a raccoon that had been hit by a car just down from our house.  He was really fresh for lack of a better term, so I stopped and picked him up to make use of his pelt.  We respect and make use of all the resources out here so this was a good way to turn the raccoons unfortunate encounter into something appreciated instead of letting his life be taken only to lay in waste. The rest of his remains were returned to the woods to feed his natural predators that live in our area.  For this project, I decided to go the easy route and use a store-bought tanning product instead of brain tanning.   Obviously store bought tanning solutions are super easy in comparison.  Here we go: Read More

Predator Safe Homemade Poultry Cages

Predator proof cage pen

These wire cages are really easy to make and completely enclose poultry or small livestock that you want to keep safe from predators.  A smaller version filled with chicken supplies also makes a great gift for a fellow chicken lover or someone who is just getting started.  We usually let our hens sit and hatch out chicks this time of year, but every few years we purchase a few from the feed store to re-fresh our flock.  When we do that though, the chicks don’t have a mother hen to help keep them safe.  The threat source can range from our own grown hens and roosters to foxes, coyotes and even our own gigantic dog who is just curious and wants to move them back to wherever she thinks they “should” be.  To remedy this, we enclose them in fully enclosed cages like this one that is portable and even sometimes small make-shift areas that we put up and take down as needed.  By far, these portable ones are much easier. Read More

11 “Out-Dated” Kitchen Tools For Your Survival Ready Homestead

Survival tools, Homestead kitchen tools

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if all of a sudden our modern conveniences were taken away from us?  Would you have the ability to open the can of Wal-Mart beans in the pantry?  Do you have pots and pans that would survive more than one use cooking supper over an open fire or on a woodstove?  Your scenario might be a week long power outage or simply your own choice to “pull the plug” long term.  Either way, there are some throw backs that still function perfectly and make living simple easier.  This is by no stretch an all-inclusive list, but might help get you started.  Some of these you may still use, we certainly do, but then again, we’re out-dated kind of people and like it that way.  🙂 Read More

Ginger & Turmeric – Grow Your Own Continual Source

Grow your own Ginger Root Turmeric Root

Growing your own Ginger and Turmeric is actually quite easy.  We’ve been growing and replanting “child” sprouts from our ONE original Ginger root for about 5 years now and this year decided to give Turmeric a try.  Ginger and Turmeric have such a wide array of uses, both medicinal and culinary, we felt like they were something we didn’t want to have to do without or depend on the grocery store for.  It’s so easy that I’ve just laid out the quick and dirty for you below, nothing fancy.  There are probably a billion other methods, but this is the way we do it, and with very good success. Read More

Natural Pain Relief Herbal Pain Relief

Willow Bark Tea – Natural Pain Relief

Natural Pain Relief Herbal Pain Relief

Before there were store bought medicines, our ancestors knew which plants grew around them and how to use them to remedy their ailments. One big example of this is Willow Bark, which can be used for many types of pain including headaches, menstrual discomfort, muscle pain and arthritis. The active ingredient, salicin, found in the bark of Willow trees, also acts as an anti-inflammatory and is present in varying Read More

Violet Flower Jelly

Violet Flower Jelly

The arrival of spring and all its wonderful blossoms, birds and warm breezes is by far my favorite time of the year.  A while back I shared a recipe for Honeysuckle Jelly that is always a big hit everywhere we take it.  The cool thing about this recipe is once you’ve learned how to make the infusion for the jelly, you can substitute virtually ANY edible flower to produce amazing and unique jellies.  The variation I have below is for Violet Jelly, Read More

“Get-Home” Bags – How To Pack For Survival In a Widespread Emergency

what to put in a get home bag or bug out bag

Times seem to become more uncertain everyday and we’re always trying to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be.  One of the ways we try to be prepared is by carrying a get home bag.  A “Get Home” bag differs from a “Bug Out” bag, but both are equally important depending on your living situation.  In a widespread emergency, will your primary focus be to get home to your family and your shelter, or will you be gathering family and supplies to seek shelter at an alternate location?  The bag you pack will depend on the answer to that question.  In the following article, my husband draws on his experience with the USMC to provide a clear plan to choosing and packing a “Get Home” bag and also some basic tactical skills that are easy to understand and follow in an emergency. Read More

How Can You Tell If An Egg Is Fresh?

How to tell if an egg is fresh

Are my eggs fresh?  Although, at age 46, this sounds like something I might be asking my doctor, I’m actually talking about eggs that you find laid somewhere other than the chicken’s laying box.  With free-ranged chickens, this is bound to happen sooner or later, and will probably happen often.  The other day, we went to retrieve something from the gardening shed and found a clutch of eggs.  We had no idea how old they were, so we do what we always do instead of just throwing them out; we floated them.  These eggs were of varying freshness, so I snapped a couple of pics to show you how this is done. Read More