Usnea – The Antibiotic That Grows In Your Yard

One of my favorites, Usnea ssp. is a lichen that is revered for its antibacterial properties and its ability to clear multiple types of infection. Since it’s classified as a lichen, it’s not technically a plant or herb, but is a half algae and half fungus organism (loosely speaking).  Look for it growing on a variety of trees, especially hardwoods and fruits.  If I could have only 3 or 4 medicinals, Usnea would be one of them.  Its broad use for treating urinary Read More

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how to tell if canned food is bad

Home Canning – Signs of Spoiled Food

Read this and others like it on this week’s Homestead Blog Hop  at SimpleLifeMom.com

Home canning has really made a comeback and if you do a lot of it, chances are you’ll run into the situation at least once, where you question the edibility of something you’ve just pulled out of the pantry.  Whether it’s because it didn’t seal correctly to begin with, or that it came unsealed while in storage, if you know what to look (and smell) for it makes decision making easier.  I tend to err on the side of caution if I find myself questioning a jar of something that I’ve canned, but most of the time the signs your canned food has gone bad are pretty obvious.  The one exception Read More

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how to can homemade tea

Canning Iced Tea – An Old Fashioned Trick For Making Homemade Tea “Instant”

Browse similar articles on this week’s Homestead Blog Hop hosted by Simplelifemom.com!

Recently someone from a canning group I’m in shared their “Instant” Iced Tea method.  It’s basically making a concentrate that is canned in pint portions so that it keeps in your pantry like a jar of the instant granules do.   Then, when you need to make a pitcher of tea in a hurry, you just add water.  For me, there are plenty of times a pitcher of tea winds up being a picnic afterthought for one reason or another and this is a fantastic way to make it easy to grab a jar of concentrate, add water, and instantly have good, homemade sweet tea.  The recipe below will produce enough concentrate to Read More

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Making The Switch – Electric to Wood Cooking

Click here to see this article and others like it on the Homestead Blog Hop!

We caught a lot of flack online when I shared the first picture of our “new” wood cook stove that took the place of our electric range.  So much so that I started deleting the followers that left comments like “Bad installation”; “I hope their house burns down”; “No help for dumb rednecks” and my favorite; “There’s one bunch of hillbillies we’ll be rid of when *there* house burns to the ground with them in it”.  I had to laugh out loud… it’s probably a good idea to check your spelling if you’re going to put something like that out there.  It’s ok to have an opinion, and I’m ok with someone expressing it, but I just can’t grasp being hateful about it.  For the sometimes mean spirited flaw the internet has, the up side is that it allowed us to do extensive research for our stove installation and have access to a cache of information that would’ve been impossible just 10 or 15 years ago.  Also thanks to the internet and Craigslist, the stove we ultimately chose just happened to get listed in a town about 3 hours from where we live.  We got on Google to find specs for it before making the commitment for such a long trip and turned every dimension inside and out.  Ultimately we arranged to go look at it and decided that it was indeed  the right one.   All in all, we took almost 3 years doing our research and making our decision.  The driving force is our desire to get off grid.  Not just off grid with solar panels, but off grid without Read More

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how to tell the difference in wild onion and wild garlic

Wild Onion or Wild Garlic? A Pictorial Identification Guide

The lines are sometimes blurry when it comes to these two forage foods and the names are often merged so that it’s referred to as just “Wild Onion/Garlic”.  Even botanists and seasoned foragers occasionally disagree on precisely how to classify these wild versions.  What I have shown below are varieties that grow in our region and when these two are placed side by side, they make the differences easy enough to pick out.  Read More

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How to make a clothes pin bag

Quick & Easy Old Fashioned Clothes Pin Bag

If there’s any “luxury” in hanging clothes out to dry on the line, it’s got to be having something to make your clothes pins easily accessible as you work.  Bags for your clothes pins used to be pretty common and my grandmother had one that I always thought was easily one of the best creations ever.  (my mother and I clipped the clothes pins to the bottom of our shirt in a little line so you can see why I coveted the bag idea)  As an adult, I’ve made a couple of these bags for my own pins Read More

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How to tell the sex of a rabbit, how to tell the gender of a rabbit

How To Determine The Gender Of A Rabbit And Why We Free-Range Ours

In this video we demonstrate how to determine the gender of a rabbit, commonly referred to as “sexing”. I also give a brief description of how and why we free range our colony.   If you want to skip ahead and view only how to sex the animal, that portion of the video begins at minute 6:03.  Please pardon our homemade video, my 7 year old videographer is still honing his skills.  I think he  did quite well, all things considered! 🙂

 

 

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redbud edible uses

Redbud Blossom Tea Sandwiches

The beautiful Eastern Redbud, or Cercis canadensis, blooms in our region as one of the first flowering shrubs of spring.  It always blooms just before the Dogwood tree and is often referred to as the “Judas Tree”.  Some say the nickname was given because Judas was quick to lead the arrest of Jesus, thus the Redbud, or Judas Tree, blooms quickly before the Dogwood does.  Others say it is because Judas hung himself from a Redbud tree out of dismay at betraying his friend.  Later God dwarfed both trees, the Redbud and the Dogwood, so that their branches Read More

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Learn to sew

Sewing 101 – Handy Sewing Tricks

Both my Mother and two Grandmothers were extraordinary seamstresses.  They sewed new clothes with or without patterns, reconstructed all varieties of used clothing to fit like it was tailor made and mended holes and seams on favorite stuffed toys and hand-me-down clothes.  Sadly, all three of them are gone now and with them went a wealth of knowledge.  It happens for not just this, but in so many other areas of life.  I was lucky enough to be Read More

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how to make a vinegar mother

Make Your Own Vinegar “Mother”

As our website name eludes to, we work hard toward putting ourselves in a position where we are completely self sufficient. For regular readers of this site, I know you all have heard me say that a billion times already.  I’m sorry about that! 🙂 Anyway, of our self sufficiency efforts, fruit trees are a valuable (and enjoyable) piece because they provide food, medicine (peach tree leaves can be used as mild histamine blocker) and a source for making cider and vinegar that have a whole other separate list of uses.

Making vinegar is not very hard, as a jar of raw apple cider will eventually turn on its own, but it takes considerable time.  A “Mother” makes it much more expedient and once you have one in your possession, so to speak, you step into a new level of self sufficiency.  Several years ago we made Read More

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