I love a good garden myth article, and I love a scientific explanation of the myth even more! Take a look at this piece from the Garden Myths blog which explains why adding rocks and gravel to a pot doesn't increase drainage, and the simple things you can do to increase drainage so you don't have to worry about overwatering.
After analysing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises. We all know broccoli will be on the list for sure, but what about carp and pork fat? I was intrigued to see how many fish are on the list, mainly because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content. I wonder where grass-fed lamb and beef would be end up
We've had chickens on the mind a lot this past week as we are preparing to show birds in 4-H next month, and bringing our first batch of broilers to the processor. One thing that I have noticed about excellent farmers is that they know their animal inside and out. They can spot trouble from a mile away because their knowledge of the animals they are raising is intimate. That's why articles like this one, specifically about chicken combs, are important to me. Not only are they simply interesting, but they help create that deep intimate knowledge that is necessary to care for animals in the best way possible. Enjoy learning more about combs!
There are many ways to cover the floor of a chicken coop: wood chips, shavings, etc. Have you ever considered sand? From BYC: "Using sand as a floor covering in my coops has been one of the BEST decisions I have made in terms of how to properly care for my chickens... The idea was of course not mine, I picked it up from an E-book from 1919 written by a California Egg Farmer named Charles Weeks, who spent a great deal of time testing the best conditions in which to raise chickens."
Father's Day is just a week away. Don't know what to get the homesteady/outdoorsy father dude guy in your life? Check out the 5 best gifts that I use on the farm all the time in this YouTube video from my channel. I use these items and am happy to recommend them. From some tough tools I'd run into a burning barn to save to comfy clothes that give me second chances, these gifts have made the difference as I started my farm.
How can you know moisture is getting deep enough into the soil to benefit your plants. Is there an easy way to find out? Yes there is – a simple (homemade) soil probe will do the trick. The Garden Professors show us how.
You are invited to submit a video of your Back to Eden garden to be featured in our upcoming Back to Eden Gardening Summit, a free, virtual, 1-day event featuring many of the world's leading regenerative no-till gardening experts including Paul Gautschi. Our goal is to show how Back to Eden Gardening is benefiting gardeners from diverse regions, climates, and soil conditions around the world. All you have to do is upload a short video (no longer than 5 minutes) that features you and your Back to Eden garden.
Greg Judy is one of the go to experts for grazing sheep in the regenerative ag world. My favorite part of this Q&A (other than all the cows milling around in the background) is when Greg talks about the benefits of sheep versus cows. This isn't a cows vs sheep thing, I just believe more people could benefit from learning the differences between these two ruminants and what each is good at. Enjoy Greg's no nonsense answers!
"Let’s put our boots away in their cubby so we know right where to find them later and we don’t get frustrated. To my complete and total surprise, the kids were like, yes. Let’s do that. That makes sense." As homesteaders and farmers, I think we are better than average at thinking about today's actions and how they affect "future us" and many generations down the line. This article is a good reminder of ensuring that every decision we make, no matter how small, should be viewed through the lens of "future us".
Via Modern Farmer -- Last week, the CDC (currently one of the least popular federal agencies) announced it's investigating a Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry. There have been 163 illnesses and 34 hospitalizations reported in 43 states, according to the CDC, which also warns, "Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick." Admire your chickens from a safe distance!
The 2020 meat shortages led many to wonder what to eat for protein when supply chains are disrupted. Some people turned to gathering eggs, raising animals and growing their own food. A team from Michigan Technological University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks found that the work is well worth it. In a new study published in Sustainability, the researchers looked at how a typical household with a typical backyard can raise chickens, rabbits or soybeans to meet its protein needs.
This week JBS, a mammoth meat packing conglomerate, was crippled by a Cyberattack that shutdown several of their processing plants. The day it happened I was talking with a friend, local farmer, and my pork supplier about how hard it would be for small farms like ours to get hacked. We both laughed knowing there wasn't really anything to "hack". Joel Salatin muses about the same thing with Polyface. From Joel: "Every food dollar we can circulate in our community, or transfer from big to smaller, is a food dollar that invests in a more secure system. The notion that big is secure and small is not is completely false. Being invisible is wonderful."
New to chickens this year? Here is a simple guide to finding the differences between if you have a hen or a rooster by Shelby Vittek of Modern Farmer. These tips should give you a little help identifying what you have before one start crowing and the other starts laying eggs.
Joel Salatin gets asked a lot of questions, and usually the questions and answers are routine by now. Recently he was caught off guard when asked "...in light of a culture that thinks your stupid, how do you sustain enthusiasm?" I won't spoil the answers for you, but they are both exactly why I created dailygrower.com and why my wife Karen and I do livestreams on Friday nights. Let's just say Joel's answer has to do with good information and good community. If you'd like to join us, tune in at 7:30PM Central tonight on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yjjomLQLxlg
Food Animal Concerns Trust has provided a series of handouts that can be downloaded, printed, and shared in-person or online which showcase the benefits of livestock and poultry raised outdoors on well-managed pasture. These are a treasure of science-backed proof of the nutritional benefits of consuming pasture-raised meats. Bonus! If you are a farmer, you can even send them photos of your farm and they will personalize the handouts for your customers. Awesome!
Are you chickens laying eggs everywhere but the nesting box like mine have been lately? Kathryn from Farming My Backyard gives us five things she has learned from her birds not laying in their nesting boxes.
When Carrie Richards was growing up, she always had a feeling she'd end up taking over the ranch that her family had owned and operated since 1941. What she didn't expect was to do so in her 30s, with a husband and two kids in tow, and to radically change the way her family had managed their land for generations. Through research, trial and error, and a tireless multi-generational effort, Carrie has been able to implement regenerative farming methods that build back soil and revitalize the land. By stewarding the land regeneratively - focused on the full spectrum of health from soil to cattle to community - Carrie is bringing new life to the family ranch and illustrating the wonderful possibilities of regeneration. (Caution: some naughty words in this mini-documentary.)
There are all kinds of predators that go after sheep. When sheep flock up together and move en masse, thinking as a group rather than as individuals, they are easy targets. As a shepherd or future shepherd, it’s important to think proactively about how you will protect your sheep from predators. In this article, Rebekah Pierce walks us through the many options we have to keep our flocks safe from harm.
Today many urban chickens are not able to free-range, they are confined to a run. Many people do not have enough space to let their chickens free-range, or they want their chickens to be safe from predators. Some chickens must stay in a run so they don't wander into the neighbor's yard, or into the road. Whatever the reason your chickens must stay in a run, there are many ways to make the run more fun for your chickens.
Keeping a soil healthy requires that all of the organisms that live in the soil also be healthy. Soil is astoundingly dense in these lifeforms, ranging from insects and earthworms to fungi. And yet the EPA does an incredibly limited job of measuring the health of these organisms. A new survey finds that a broad range of pesticides pose a threat to these vital invertebrates that live in soil.
Some of the most significant advances in crop science have involved speeding up the crossbreeding process through genetic engineering (aka GMOs). However, the next big innovations in the field may not involve genetics at all, but the microbes within seeds. Researchers are looking at how different microbes might help crops weather varying challenges. "If researchers can find ways to navigate these complexities, the microbiome could become fertile ground for a wide range of interventions to shore up the food supply. That could turn out to be crucial," writes Casey Crownhart. And it might be a less controversial approach than GMOs.
Kevin Kelly has served up 99 new bits of unsolicited advice for his recent birthday. They range from just plain useful "Learn the bowline knot" to the profound "You are only as young as the last time you changed your mind" to the plea of any farmer with livestock "Leave a gate behind you the way you first found it". Everyone will find some advice they can use in this awesome list.
I love all things salad, so I grow a lot of lettuce to keep myself in supply. Most of the time, you get a great harvest because it’s such an easy plant to grow. Unfortunately, you also run up against some prevalent lettuce problems that may wreck your harvest or at least cause you to throw much of it away.
The National Grazing Lands Coalition has teamed up with On Pasture and Yvette Gibson, an online learning specialist in grazing science, to bring you a FREE eBook and Online Course filled with the information you need to be a successful grazier. In Grazing 101 we introduce the principles you need to: manage for soil and pasture health, choose the right fencing, watering systems, handling facilities and livestock, and work smarter, not harder.
One thing that happens when growing broilers on pasture in chicken tractors is "piling on". This happens when birds who are becoming acclimated to lower temperatures outside the brooder pile together to such a degree that some birds suffocate. This simple fix doesn't require building anything and you can set it up in less than a minute. Protect your birds from themselves and this odd behavior and don't lose any unnecessarily anymore.
If you have owned egg-laying chickens for long enough, chances are you have seen your fair share of misshapen, off-color, and just plain weird eggs. This always seems to strike a feeling of fear for me, cuz I am terrified of food-poisoning. But, a lot of the deviations from the average egg are entirely harmless to us as egg eaters. Check out this CompreHENsive guide to non-standard eggs and keep it for reference. This is a must read for anyone keeping hens for laying.
I realized I neglected my seed starts and ended up with 10 trays of leggy tomatoes and herbs. Ever had the same problem from setting seedlings in a south-facing window? I somehow never had this issue, but this year I had to fix it before all of my seedlings were too far gone. I found this article from Morning Chores that told me how I got here, and how to fix the problem. If you are extra curious how I used the advice I found in this awesome article, check out the YouTube video I made about it (https://youtu.be/XfQLT4TMElw).
Most farmers I know are caring and considerate people, but they also don't shy from taking initiative when necessary. Today we learned that the boundary between France and Belgium is believed to have been inadvertently redrawn by a farmer who found the 200-year-old border stone marking the divide in an inconvenient location for his tractor. The Belgian farmer could theoretically face criminal charges after making Belgium bigger by moving the stone that has marked the border since after the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo.
Norlin Mommsen is a third-generation farmer in Iowa, using techniques for raising corn and alfalfa passed down from his father and grandfather. Mommsen is also a representative in the Iowa House of Representatives, so he proposed a measure this year to make healthy soils a priority in the state. It’s part of a wave of healthy soils initiatives being debated in 28 state legislatures this spring.
Joel reacts to a recent letter sent to Secretary of Agricultural Vilsack about concerns about the integrity of the National Organic Standard and how it has drifted from its original intent. Former organic board members and legislators have asked that concerns about posturing livestock, grain fraud, and soil-less farming be addressed. Joel is not so sure Vilsack is the best place to start.
Every 20 years under the cover of darkness, scientists pull out a secret map, dig up seeds that were stashed 142 years ago beneath a college campus. They dig up a bottle containing 20 varieties, scatter the seeds over trays of sterile soil and see which ones grow. It’s one of the world’s longest-running experiments.
Today's feature is from yours truly. I was ready to tidy my garden this Spring when I realized that my busyness last Fall (or was it laziness?) actually helped my garden. You see, by not ripping out all of my plants when I was done harvesting, and instead letting them grow until the frost killed them, I was inadvertently following soil health principle #2 (minimize disturbance) and principle #4 (keep living roots in the ground). Learn with me about the 5 soil health principles that are universal: every climate, every region, every soil type. They aren't just for big time crop and livestock farmers. Everyday folks like you and me can create better gardens no matter where we are.
Is there anything more annoying than weeding? Is there anything cooler than blowing stuff up with lasers? Check out this laser-wielding autonomous robot that drives itself through fields of onions destroying weeds at a rate 20 times faster than a human can do. This robot obviously isn't for home gardeners, or market gardeners even. But hey, it's actually certified for organic production, and its popularity has made it only available on backorder!
Far be it from me to know anything about fashion, just ask my wife. She dresses me for nearly every event that requires me to leave the farm where the destination isn't another farm or farm store. But does the fashion industry know anything about farming? Apparently they are catching on to farming lingo and paying attention to how their fiber is grown with an eye on using regenerative farmers for their products.
Dana and Sarah, the original filmmakers of the Back to Eden film, provide a short and sweet video tutorial of how to sow seeds directly in a wood chip mulched garden. I have been deep mulching my garden for 7 or 8 years now, and I even picked up a few tips (like adding compost to the soil before sowing to provide more planting medium, and using a mister for small seeds). Back to Eden changed everything about how I grow food, and little snippets like this just make it even better!
Choosing the best location for a backyard chicken coop is one of the most important decisions in getting started with a flock. The ultimate position of the coop is critical for your chickens' health, happiness and, of course, safety. As such, there are several considerations to take into account when determining the placement of your chicken coop. And the position for your coop will be very unique to your property, although there are a few universal guidelines to follow that might help you narrow down several possible locations.
My daughter loves chickens. I mean like all of her t-shirts are chicken related. She gets up at 6AM to take care of chickens before driving herself and her sister to school. Once I caught her on her laptop after she was supposed to be in bed. The website she was looking at? BackYardChickens.com. Seriously. So when I asked if there were any good articles about raising chicks (we have a bunch hatching today), she gave me this one in 0.1 seconds. Just the right length and amount of detail, check out this guide to raising baby chicks if you are new to these cute puffballs or just need a refresher.
What lessons do you need to learn to go from odd jobs around the neighborhood to owning a real estate empire? From working as a freelancer to selling your own digital products? What about from working at Wendy’s to owning a SaaS company earning over $1 million per month? That last one is my own path.
There’s a reliable progression that anyone can take to earn more and build wealth. This essay from Nathan Barry lays out the roadmap for transitioning from an employee to running your own business.
Permaculture designer Laura Marie Neubert provides a complete guide to growing tomatoes from seeding to eating. I know there are a lot of tomato guides out there, but this one stood out to me because it goes beyond growing to unique ways to use and prepare the harvest. I plan on trying oven-dried tomatoes and lacto-fermented green tomatoes.
Most experienced gardeners will tell you what should be started indoors (or purchased) as transplants and what should be direct sown into the garden, but this can often be confusing for new gardeners. Add to the confusion the fact that some plants have a gray area when it comes to what is best, sometimes it depends on the time of year, and sometimes it depends on where you are as to whether what is possible. So if you forget to start your favorite tomato or begonia indoors in time to transplant, do you have options?
In recent years, the Instant Pot has soared in popularity as a one-stop shop for pressure-cooking, sauteing, steaming, and boiling. But one lesser-known function of this kitchen gadget is that it can serve as a reliable incubator for germinating garden seeds. This can be particularly helpful if you want to speed up germination with warm-weather crops, such as tomatoes, melons, peppers and cucumbers, and you don’t want to buy a heating mat. It can also be a useful tool if you’re simply late to germinate your seeds or live in an area with a colder climate and a shorter growing season.
Composting yard "waste" and kitchen scraps is a great way to make what some consider useless into something your garden will thrive with. But it can be hard to get your whole family knowledgeable about all of the DOs and DON'Ts when it comes to collecting materials and using to make compost. Never fear. Big Green At Home has a great guide for kids aged elementary through high school to help them (and you!) make sure everything is done properly. With handy printable lists and videos, your family will be making great compost and making sure your "waste" is turned into garden gold!
Sheep and goats are closely related, both having been domesticated and used by humans for fiber, meat and milk for millennia. But they aren’t similar in all ways. One possible difference, newly discovered thanks to some researchers in Switzerland, might be in their problem-solving abilities. That’s right: A bunch of scientists made goats and sheep face off in a puzzle to see which was better at it.
Mark from I am Organic Gardening shows us one super simple practice to essentially eliminate "damping off" in our seedlings. Damping off is actually a microbial disease, not a result of overwatering. By changing the bacterial landscape of your seed pots, you can make damping off a thing of the past and providing plant available nutrients right from the start. Double win!
Thinking of turning your homestead into a farm business? Dave Pratt, CEO Emeritus of Ranch Management Consultants, lays it out straight about what is a business and what isn't. "It's been said that profit is to business as breathing is to life. Without profit, you don't have a business, it is just a hobby, a very expensive hobby."
Almost unrecognizable to us today, this 3 minute video shows a 2008 interview with the young-ish Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, describing his conversation with his boss to leave his great job at a Wall Street firm to start an "online book store". Bezos's decision was based on minimizing his possible regrets of having the online book store idea, but never acting on it. If you have a new idea, project, philosophy, or adventure in mind, when you look back at age 80, what will you regret more: not acting on it? Acting on it and failing?
We're continuing this week with beginning guides to gardening for those who found a new pandemic past-time, and want to up your game from last year. Thrifty Homestead doesn't disappoint with a trove of links to answer the most common questions and how-tos for growing your own food. I especially like the "Planning the Sustainable Garden: How Much Will You Grow?" article because it seems like I never grow enough beets, and always grow more than enough tomatoes!
A lot of articles on the web try to tackle the start to finish of gardening, from seed to harvest, so to speak. When looking for seeds recently, I found this super simple and to-the-point planting guide from none other than Baker Creek, one of the most popular seed suppliers to home gardeners out there. Keep this link in your browser favorites. I am already using it to determine what I can plant outside before my last frost date.
Planting trees is one of the most rewarding and earth-friendly things you can do in your landscape. Trees offer beauty, shade, habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon, and depending on the type, may feed you as well! But you know who else loves trees just as much as you do? Gophers! Those frustrating little creatures LOVE to eat tree roots. Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to stop gophers from destroying trees. We simply have to plant trees in wire gopher baskets – and those are easy to make!
Diego Footer walks us through his experiment using cover crops versus tarps to determine which method builds better soil in preparation for a new garden bed. Cover crops and tarps have advantages and disadvantages to building soil. Diego thinks both build good soil, but both have different applications.
The researchers looked into the effects of soil organic matter on yield during drought for maize crops. They found that adding a single percent of soil organic matter to maize crops has massively positive effects, including increased yields (about 35 bushels per acre) and, most importantly, decreased vulnerability to drought. In farms that had that extra percent of soil organic matter, the researchers calculated, insurance liabilities under extreme drought conditions would be decreased by 36 percent.
Most gardeners this time of year are thinking about the last frost dates for their locations and how soon they can get out into their garden plots. In the Southeast, many areas have already passed their last frost or will soon, while in other parts of the country, it may be many weeks before the threat of frost is over. In this week’s column, the Garden Professors describe a way to get frost dates for your location and discuss the mystery of why the date of the last spring frost is getting later in the Southeast in spite of temperatures that are rising across the country.
One of the popular arguments against mulching landscape and garden soils is that mulch delays soil warming and thus retards plant growth. Given that a well-chosen mulch will moderate temperature extremes – both hot and cold – is this an argument supported with evidence? In today’s post, I’m reporting the data I collected in visiting various parts of my home landscape and gardens and measuring soil temperatures.
Greg Gunthorp raises turkeys on pigs on pasture at Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange, Indiana. He used to raise “a lot” of pastured chickens. Then Covid hit and business changed. The only poultry production to survive 2020 is pastured turkeys.
In the podcast, Greg unpacks exactly what Covid did to his pasture poultry business, which was almost exclusively wholesale to restaurants. You may be surprised that the second quarter of the summer of Covid saw Gunthorp Farms sell out of inventory. Thing were looking very good. They pivoted and responded to the immediate crisis. That’s a testament to the agility of a local, independent food supply. Then things tightened up over the following months as some of the traditional meat supply rebounded and other news took over the front page.
If local food and pastured poultry is your jam, then this is a must listen episode.
Today we have another rising star, but it's a far different situation. A couple of weeks ago the media was abuzz about Bill Gates being the new largest farmland owner in the U.S. Unlike Turner, Gates is buying cropland (farmland) not ranch land. The difference is important. Whereas Turner loved the historical animals, migratory patterns, and biomass accumulation vectors of the ancient prairie ecosystem, Gates wants nothing to do with historical norms. He wants nothing to do with animals. He wants nothing to do with perennials. He wants nothing to do with soil building, hydration, or biomass accumulation.
Five years ago, a group of nutrition scientists studied what Americans eat and reached a striking conclusion: More than half of all the calories that the average American consumes comes from ultra-processed foods. A growing number of scientists say another reason these foods are so heavily consumed is that for many people they are not just tempting but addictive, a notion that has sparked controversy among researchers.
The Monsanto Papers is something of a sequel to Gillam’s award-winning first book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, which came out in 2017 and detailed the controversial history of Roundup as well as Monsanto’s wide-ranging efforts to manipulate the scientific record about it. But where Whitewash offers a more sweeping look at the chemicals and the company, Gillam’s new book tells a narrower, more personal tale—namely, that of Johnson and his lawyers.
As if farming organically weren't hard enough, these researchers are beginning to quantify the residual effects of pesticide usage. They found pesticide residue at all of their 100 samples, including organic farms that were converted over 20 years ago. This should be a warning sign for us to become more diligent about the effects our current actions have on our future soils.
See how easy (and inexpensive!) it is to mix your own herbs and give your chickens some aromatherapy in their coop! There are loads of different products on the market now in the dried herb niche. And they're all just about the same - likely most even source their herbs from the same place! But instead of paying an average of $14-17 for just 5 ounces of dried herbs, you can easily mix your own for around $20 a pound!
We do not denigrate these kinds of calls. We honor them as part of the process and welcome whatever created the flight from factory farming. Embracing a new system changes everything: the place, the personnel, the perception, and yes, the yolk color. It's what healing looks like.
Steward is a private lending partner, financing the growth of regenerative farms and sustainable producers through simple, flexible business loans. But we don’t do it alone—we bring together a community of values-driven lenders who participate in loans that fuel the growth of regenerative agriculture.
So whether you're a sustainable producer looking for the support needed to take that next step, or a qualified lender ready to make a direct impact with your resources, with Steward everybody wins.
Lauren and Christoph Herby were eager to put down roots. A “rusty, big hunk of metal” helped show them how. They dug it out and realized it was a maple syrup evaporating pan. The answer the couple was searching for was right there in the maple trees, birch trees, sycamore trees and walnut trees on their land.
Master grazier Greg Judy review the basics of fence chargers from this video in 2019 which deserves a lot more views! As we get ready for putting animals on pasture in the coming season in North America, this video provides the basics of successful containment from a trusted source. From Greg, "A good fence charger is the backbone of your grazing operation. This is not the place to buy a cheap one, get the best one you can afford."
Alicia Serratos, who is just 14, came up with the idea to start 3 Sisters Seed Box in 2019. Her goal: Send out enough starter kits to have at least two seed libraries in all 50 states. It started out as a Girl Scout project and turned into a nationwide movement.
"We love to complain about the enemies out there, but in many cases, we've invited the enemy into our own homes. What we patronize with our money and time says everything about our values and the ultimate practical solutions in which we believe. We only have a few hours, days, and years to sow blessings or cursings. Are we this inept, this vapid, this uncreative that we can't find something more noble, sacred and righteous in which to invest $50 billion than video games?"
Beth Dooley and The Forever Green Initiative have provided a free cookbook with some excellent recipes featuring some ingredients you may not be used to: Kernza, barley, hazelnut, and camelina oil to name a few. Learn the nutritional profiles of these ingredients and how to pick out the best and freshest versions of them. Download the PDF for free or order your own print copy for a small fee (and signed by Beth at no cost).
One of the newer “miracle products” targeted to gardeners is rock dust. Rock dust (also called rock flour or rock mineral powder) is exactly what it sounds like. It is a byproduct of quarry work and is generally a finely pulverized material that resembles silt. It’s heavily promoted as a way to provide macro- and micronutrients to your soils and plants. Is it worth adding to your gardens?
Farmers, ag professionals, and eaters alike are invited to our eighth annual Midwest Soil Health Summit, hosted virtually March 9-11. Each of these farmer- and expert-led sessions will be held from 7-9 PM CT and you can expect some robust discussion, including time for Q&A. Check out the schedule of events!
Like vegans who don't consume any animal product, veganic gardening doesn't use any animal product in the growing of food. I include this story because my first gut reaction was "integrating animals is a pillar of soil health!". However, can you still have a wonderful and productive garden without animal fertilizers? Of course!
New York legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit shipping live animals within the state after an article from the Portland Press Herald went viral in August 2020 which detailed how at least 4,800 chicks had died on the way to farms in Maine.
The scientists found that despite dextrous and visual constraints on the animals, pigs were able to both understand and achieve goals in simple computer games. Two of the pigs couldn’t even finish the experiment; they’d grown too big for the laboratory pen. All four pigs also turned out to be farsighted, which made seeing the screen a bit of a challenge.
We always hear a lot about compost tea being a great thing for our gardens, shrubs, and pastures. But do the benefits stand up to the hype? You might be surprised when author, master gardener, and biochemist Robert Pavlis lays out all the facts!
Farming has destroyed a lot of the rich soil of America's Midwestern prairie. A team of scientists just came up with a staggering new estimate for just how much has disappeared. The most fertile topsoil is entirely gone from a third of all the land devoted to growing crops across the upper Midwest, the scientists say.
“No skill is more valuable and harder to come by than the ability to critically think through problems. And schools don’t teach you a method of thinking, you have to do the work yourself. Those who do it well get an advantage and those that do it poorly pay a tax.”
Lacto-fermentation is the process used when we make fermented vegetables, fruits, and even kombucha. Lactobacillus bacteria converts sugars into lactic acid. This good bacteria inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. The lactobacillus organisms that develop when we ferment food preserves it, but it’s also a boon to our digestive tract. Foods fermented in this way provide us with the probiotics that we’ve heard so much about in recent years.
A chicken tractor is a handy and functional structure that every homesteader should have. Almost no one had one 10 years ago, but now it is necessary equipment! Here is everything you need to know if you are looking to add one to your homestead.
My high school German teacher used to occasionally remind our class of misfits that "Diese Klasse ist keine Demokratie!" Apparently a herd of goats is also not a democracy. From the I can't believe people study this for a living desk: When a herd of goats moves from one spot to the next, does one decide where to go next, or is it a democracy and majority vote wins? Sometimes it is just fun to learn about the behaviors of our animals and not just how to provide for them. Biologists, armed with GPS tracking collars and computer models found that goats aren't like other herding animals, they don't vote.
Female mammals only produce milk to feed their young. It’s as true for a woman as it is for a cow, a nanny goat or a ewe. Dairy production, therefore, typically relies on female animals falling pregnant every year and most of the young being sent away for meat along with the less productive older females. So, it’s fair to say, there is typically no milk without meat. But what if a farmer showed that goats that only were pregnant once still produced just as well? A French goat farmer has sparked an unexpected movement doing just that.
What is the best mulch for your garden? Compost? Nope. Composted tree trimmings? Nope. Fresh arborist chips? Yes! Jim Downer of the Garden Professors gives us a run down of why chips from the tree service are the best material to put in your garden. That Back to Eden stuff just might be on to something...
We have all left a banana on the counter for too long right? In 2012, materials scientist James Rogers received a $100k grant to figure out a way to reduce food spoilage. That same year, he launched Apeel Sciences, where he developed an edible, FDA-approved solution that works to extend the shelf life of produce around the world. The treatment is made up of lipids and glycerolipids (yeah I don't know what those words mean either), plant-based compounds that are found in peels, seeds and pulp. It acts as an invisible barrier, or an extra peel, as Rogers puts it, to double or triple the time it takes for produce to go bad.
Synthetic fertilizer has become increasing unpopular with the rise of the organic and sustainable agriculture movements. But is it all bad? Kathy Voth talks about the good, the bad, and the ugly of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and their affect on soil microbes.
The preeminent event for those interested in the connections between soil, plant, human, environmental and cultural health will be an every Thursday (Feb-Sept) event online this year. I haven't physically gone to the conference, but have listened to sessions posted online and they never disappoint. Perfect for anyone looking to pick the brains of real-live food growing experts who actually grow nutrient-dense food.
"Our friends thought we were crazy, Dad made fun, we bottomed out financially and I thought I was gonna die. But there was hope…" Justin Rhodes gives us a never-before seen view of his origin story as a homesteader and content creator. With raw story and breath-taking cinematography, episode one of his new project will be available publicly for just 2 more days.
How can you succeed in a world of information abundance? David Perell introduces us to the Paradox of Abundance and how an unfamiliar financial theory applies nearly perfectly to our health and our digestion of today's news cycle. The paradox? As the internet and social media have brought unprecedented access to information, most people will fail to find and consume nutrient-dense information, while a small fraction will become uber-healthy gainers of knowledge.
There are at least 10 quotable gems in this article, and I'll share just one -- "On the Internet, your rate of learning is limited not by access to information, but by your ability to ignore distractions. The people you follow online is a leading indicator of your success, your health, and your happiness."
I find that gardening is the among the best therapies to shake off the winter blues and stress. When you can't garden because of the cold you read about gardening! In this article straight from the filmmakers, you can learn how to apply the Back to Eden Gardening principles to grow food indoors for better results. Prepare ahead of time and organize your planting schedule!
Many gardeners tend small herb gardens on their window sills, but far fewer take the next step to grow their own spices. Spice-grower and author Tasha Greer wants gardeners to know that while it takes a bit more technique to grow spices, it’s still something anyone can do. Greer wants to walk gardeners through the steps with her new book, Grow Your Own Spices, which she put together with collaborators, Lindsey Feldpausch and Greta Moore.
New chicken keepers usually start with baby chicks in the spring. The excitement of the chicks growing into adults, then that first egg in late summer or early fall is undeniable. And the eggs keep coming all through that first winter, right into the following spring and summer. But that next fall, all of sudden egg production drops and the hens stop laying eggs. What's up with that?
A few special ingredients make this Annual Conference remarkable, in spite of it not being an in-person gathering: A diverse array of presentations, workshops and discussions are on deck, bringing together farmer experts, educators and innovators who are sure to spark ideas and new practices. Session topics include quality of life on the farm, meat processing in Minnesota, economics of silvopasture, making hay, off-season side hustles, and feature speakers like Beth Dooley, MN Ag Commissioner Thom Petersen, Alan Guebert, and more.
According to a report from Reuters, Muyuan Foods, a Chinese pork concern, has started operations at a new hog farm that blows others out of the water in terms of size: it will eventually produce 2.1 million hogs per year. It’s roughly ten times larger than most of the bigger facilities in the US. Yikes!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) has developed a groundbreaking treatment for barber’s pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), the number one health issue in the sheep industry. In live-animal trials, the new treatment reduced fecal egg counts by 90% and overall parasite burdens by 72%. Perhaps most importantly, the treatment impacted female parasites the most, reducing their populations by 96%. Such a large reduction in females means an equally large reduction in the number of eggs produced, leading to reduced infections overall. While extremely successful with sheep, it did not translate to goats. Guess where they found the treatment? The soil!
If you do any searching for gardening (or even think about the color green), you’re likely bombarded with adds on social media and search engines about all stuff gardening. One of the recent trends is microgreen production. There’s all kinds of fancy little systems and gizmos that will help you grow microgreens for a price. But what are microgreens? Are they the same thing as sprouts? And do they have the same food safety issues as sprouts? Let’s discuss, shall we?
While seed sellers are already starting to get busy this year, time is still on your side. If you plan ahead, you can get the seeds you want and start your garden as soon as the winter frost subsides. Not exactly sure where to begin? Here’s our guide to buying seeds for the upcoming growing season.
Vegetable seed sellers experienced skyrocketing demand last spring as concerns over potential food shortages drove some of the demand; gardening also helped pass the time during quarantine—leading seed companies to post virtual “out of stock” stickers on some popular seed varieties. As seed starting season begins again, sellers say demand hasn’t slowed down.
I’d love to use chickens to till and fertilize my Raised Garden Beds, but will my Chicken Tractor work or will I need to make modifications? Spoiler alert. It worked, but let’s have a deeper look at how I easily set up five chickens to do the work of my Raised beds.
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