Category Archives: Sustainable Living

5 reasons to raise chickens

chicken-profile-pic

Chickens are often the first livestock to be added to a homestead and have been laughingly referred to as the gateway livestock. However the benefits of adding a flock of chickens to your backyard, homestead, or beginning farm, are no laughing matter. Chickens bring some serious good ju-ju with them and open the door to a number of opportunities for… Read more »

Sprouts: easy DIY winter greens

sprouts-easy-diy-winter-greens

I’ve been eating sprouts during the winter for a number of years now. Sprouts are a quick and easy way to provide the family with fresh veg all year long regardless of where you live. They’re pure, fresh, and nutrient-rich food that can be produced easily whether you’re 3 or 103. I like to use the jar method because I… Read more »

Establishing a new farm: Where to start & how to prioritize

establishing a new farm

These days nothing is more enticing than the concept of living a life sustained by the land and nature.  Folks from all walks are turning away from the mainstream and it’s commercialized lifestyle.  For some it is a mission to provide a healthy atmosphere for raising their family; for others a desire to live more lightly upon the Earth–to protect… Read more »

Garden planning for beginners

garden planning for beginners

An expression of art and science, gardening is a practice that dates back to the start of civilization, and is both creative and economical.  With the ever-increasing trend towards green and sustainable living, gardening is enjoying a resurgence–if you’ve been considering taking up the habit, I hope this is your year!  If you’ve been toying with the idea of gardening… Read more »

Innovation, resourcefulness & creativity in farming

Mulch at Snakeroot_FI

This is part 3 in our “Establishing a New Farm” series, you can view part 1 here, and part 2 by clicking here. Have you ever met a wealthy farmer?  Ever seen a farmer driving a flashy new sports car?  or any brand new vehicle for that matter?  Not likely.  People do not become farmers to get rich. Most farmers… Read more »

Living seasonally and reconnecting with nature

winter seasonal intentions collage

Now that we’re settling into the new homestead, back on our farm-property, I’m ready to reconnect with nature and the natural world that I love so much. I’m looking at nature-inspired homeschool activities to do with the boys, taking walks in the snow–shoveling….  So when the chance to review Kathy Lepvic’s eBook “Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook” presented itself–I leaped at… Read more »

7 foods you can easily grow indoors this winter

kitchen windowsill herb garden

Now that the balmy days of summer are behind us, and the time to tuck in for the long cold of winter has come–I like to play around with growing different foods inside my house.  The gardening season may be over, but providing fresh and nutritious foods for family meals is a never-ending task, and though I am not yet… Read more »

Sustainable beekeeping at the state beekeepers’ conference

deborah delaney ude scientist at msba

I love the assortment of people who are drawn to beekeeping.  Young and old, eccentric and conservative, financially solvent–and bootstrappers like me–those who make do with less.  People from all over the state come together for the annual Maine State Beekeepers’ conference to join together in the spirit of learning; to bask in the feeling of community generated by a… Read more »

Maine promotes native pollinators

somerset beekeepers

Tuesday night the Somerset Beekeepers met for their monthly meeting, and were joined by a number of the county’s master gardeners in welcoming Dr. Sam Hanes and Eric Venturini, a masters degree student, both of whom came over from the University of Maine at Orono to speak with us. I’ve mentioned before the good work Maine’s academics are doing in… Read more »

Harvesting garlic

curing garlic

Since this was my first time growing garlic, I was pretty stoked to go and dig up the bulbs earlier this week.  I’d planted the garlic cloves back in October (you can read about that endeavor here).  I mulched them heavily with dry leaves and watched over them all winter. This spring I pulled up about two-thirds of the mulch,… Read more »

Do NOT buy ladybugs; attract native species to your garden instead

ladybugs as predators

Ladybugs are often touted as a safe solution to aphid problems in the garden because their use doesn’t involve harmful pesticides.  The little spotted beetles are popular all over the world, and in ancient times they were thought to be indicators of good fortune and a bountiful harvest. However commercially available ladybugs are not native to the US, and pose… Read more »

Growin’ good!

These are the lettuces I planted a few weeks back.  They’re looking really great.  Here you can see the soaker hose I’d laid in this bed for the day, to give everything a good watering.  And if you look closely, you can see the new lettuce sprouts I planted between these heads to ensure a successive harvest.  We love our… Read more »

Hardening seedlings in a mini hoop-house

After the devastation of last year’s seedling fiasco (read about that here), I was more than a little anxious about hardening off my seedlings this year. My mini hoop-houses (more about that here) have been working so well this spring that I decided to construct something similar to protect my tender tomato and pepper seedlings during their hardening off period. … Read more »

Sustainability through the family garden

I managed to set up 2 mini hoop-houses and planted a number of lettuce seedlings, yet April was a cold and windy start to the gardening season that left me longing for more.  So far May has made up for it in spades!  I’ve been out in the garden practically every day for the last week, working on preparing one… Read more »

23 early spring vegetable crops

Many American gardeners cling fast to the idea that the growing season doesn’t begin until Memorial Day weekend. Yet in Europe gardeners use a variety of methods to extend their season and increase their garden’s harvest. Thanks to Elliot Coleman’s book Four Season Harvest, more and more Americans are discovering the possibilities.  Even in Maine you can get a jump… Read more »

How to build a mini hoop-house

I’m a big fan of season extenders like cold-frames and mini hoop-houses for the family garden. Last year I managed to erect a mini greenhouse of sorts, using PVC and plastic, and with that I hardened off my seedlings in anticipation of the growing season.  This year I not only want to use that method to protect tender seedlings, but… Read more »

How to make your own laundry soap

diy laundry soap

If you’ve never made your own laundry soap you don’t know what you’re missing.  The laundry soaps that are available commercially are expensive, and filled with ingredients that I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce. This laundry soap is very economical and simple to make.  It works just as well as anything you’ll buy at the store, with the… Read more »

What are the benefits of using beeswax?

what are the benefits of beeswax

  Since man first began robbing bee-trees for honey, beeswax has been a highly prized commodity treasured for it’s many uses and healthful benefits.  Beeswax is utilitarian, medicinal, and beautifying. Beeswax through the ages Both ancient Egyptians and Persians used beeswax when embalming the dead.  When they conquered Corsica in 181 BC, the Romans demanded beeswax as tribute.  And in… Read more »

10 tips to help you stretch your meat-budget

dried beans

Previously I ranted about budget-meat versus local and sustainably raised meats.  I’m not going to rehash the topic–but you can read that post here if you are so inclined.  Basically my point was that if you’re truly committed to avoiding the factory farmed meats offered at the grocery store, there are ways to eat sustainably produced meats with a clear… Read more »

What really demonizes Monsanto

It was brought to my attention recently that Monsanto is not bad–it’s just a corporation looking to make money.  At the recent MSBA meeting Monsanto affiliate Jerry Hayes spoke about the company’s desire for sustainable agriculture (you can read that post here), but if that is true then there are some seriously misguided people leading that corporate entity.  In my… Read more »

10 tips on how to avoid GMOs

grass-fed meat

With genetically modified ingredients in just about everything processed, it can be a daunting challenge to avoid them when you go to the grocery store.  It’s startling when you begin to realize how pervasive GM-ingredients are–it seems like they are in all of the things you love and have been eating for years!  But with a little dedication and your… Read more »