Mother Earth News

Self-reliance how-to

I’ve been a reader for 35 years, and I’m finding it pretty useful these days. This old hippie magazine is the only place to keep current with back-to-the-land news. The old dream of thriving on a few acres of land is still serviced with enthusiasm here. Familiar subjects like backyard animals and all-year gardens are reliably addressed, but they also have solid reporting on the such technological innovations as the latest in modern cabin toilets, microgenerators, the best chain saws and solar panels, and so on. However, since a lot of homesteading chores haven’t changed much, their website offers 35 years of back issues online — some of the best stuff they published was written in the 1970s. (You can also get the archive on CDs).

At ten bucks per year, this magazine is essential reading for anyone attempting to homestead in the country, or to live self-reliantly in a town. But I also find it a great bargain for anyone with a do-it-yourself mentality. Despite the glossy sheen, the pages radiate with reports of reader’s hands-on, can-do, think-different attitude.

Why I subscribe: Most magazines are about consuming. This one is about producing.

-- KK 03/10/05


Tool Sharing Start Up Advice
Are you thinking of starting a tool-sharing program in your community or neighborhood? Here are some helpful tips:
* Hold a meeting to find out people's needs and available resources.
* Determine the scope of the program; it's often best to start with simpler hand tools.
* Determine storage-will tools be stored in homes or in a common space?
* Determine how costs will be covered for tool purchases and ongoing maintenance.
* Develop a clear set of lending, repair and tool-return rules.
* Develop a list of "experts" who can share skills.
* Organize a system to track checkout and return of tools.
* Assign responsibility for maintenance and repair.

You can easily make your own parched (dry-roasted) grain corn at home for a sweet, crunchy snack with "flavors like nothing you've ever tasted before. To get the full flavor from any type of culinary grain corn, Roberts says, it's essential for the corn to ripen and dry on the stalks. Slow drying, low-temperature milling and immediate refrigeration of freshly ground corn keep the flavors alive. Because whole-grain cornmeal retains its natural oils, you often don't need to add butter or other fats when baking with it. "I never add fat to corn bread, since the (corn) meal already has fat in it," says Zoe Caywood, owner of War Eagle Mill in Rogers, Ark.


It usually does cost a bit more to buy meat from heritage [pork] breeds, but Small says there are good reasons for the higher price tag: Heritage breeds take longer to reach market weight than conventional breeds, and because they also produce a higher percentage of body fat, fewer of those pounds consist of marketable cuts. Small says the high quality and great flavor of the meat nevertheless creates steady demand from customers willing to pay the premium. "Cost per pound of our meat is definitely higher than cheap factory-farm pork," she says. "What we tell our customers is to eat less meat, but eat better-quality meat."

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