The sympathy is for those of us, including me, who can’t seem to shake whatever bug it is that has invaded our chests, heads and thinking. The tea is part of that sympathy, because a hot cup of tea with honey and lemon, and perhaps a warm muffin, is the next best thing to mom holding you on her lap, wrapped in a blanket, rocking back and forth in time to the lullaby she is humming.Keep Reading
Furloughed federal workers who are finding life tough because of the partial government shutdown are sacrificing and taking extreme measures to make ends meet and pay their bills. They are visiting pawn shops, asking for loan extensions, applying for SNAP (food stamps), using food pantries and visiting soup kitchens. They are taking any part-time temporary work they can find at whatever pay rate. They go to bed each night wondering how they will get through the next day, week, month. Sort of like a huge chunk of U.S. workers.Keep Reading
Read Our Handy Guide To Find Out!
Satire by Corporate Christ, GUEST COLUMNIST
Are Lesbians moving into your community? Does the thought of Chinese children playing with your children frighten you? There are so many people to hate nowadays it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Read our handy article to make your own decision and you too can begin to make sense of your petty prejudices.Keep Reading
How solid is a home that is sitting on a crumbling foundation? What other parts of this home are being stressed by having a weak infrastructure? Well, America IS our home and when we think about creating American jobs, we are literally standing on the solution. Keep Reading
Since we stopped hunting and gathering and turned to markets for our food and ingredients, cost-conscious cooks have depended on affordable basics to provide hearty, healthy meals for their families. Many of these items are now being appropriated and glorified by “foodies” who have “discovered” them. The gentrification of traditional foods has enhanced the plates of the few at the cost of the many.
Nearly all ethnicities have roasted, then simmered, soup bones for a stock. Used to be that you could ask a butcher for some, and he would give you a big bag, cut into perfect lengths, for free. Traditional ingredients have enabled the cook to serve a wholesome and tasty meal of soup for less than $1 per person, including the chunks of warm bread for sopping it up. Think of all the cultures that rely on soup for satisfying nutrition. With pasta, with vegetables, with grains and curries, with garnishes like parsley or green onions.
Plain bones (no attached meat) are priced at about $2 a pound in the supermarket. And if you want someone else to do the simmering, a quart box of bone broth is about $5. Shanks and oxtails are a step up from bones, with more meat and flavor, but they have become unaffordable for the cook with a large family to feed. Another of my favorite bones, or collection of bones, is one of the dishes that has not been discovered—yet. Pig’s feet are part of the German heritage on one side of my family. I think it may take some doing before they are appropriated by anyone else. Keep Reading
Having moved to North Adams in the summer of 2018, I asked one of the locals in the know what he thought was one of the most important issues facing our small city. He replied, “Jobs.”Keep Reading
If you buy your holiday tree at a cut-your-own place, what tool do you bring or do they supply you with? Likely it’s a bow saw–a lightweight, efficient tool that nearly anyone, even me, can handle. It’s the tool that the workers at the lot use to even the cut of a precut tree so that it will stand nicely in your container and drink enough water to keep it green through the week or two it will gasp in an overheated room.
I don’t know if I’m a cat person or a dog person. Love them both. I’m also a chicken, cow, goat, rabbit, and children person. Just know that I am not, with few exceptions, an adult people person. My adult friends tend to include struggling farmers, struggling artists and writers, and others struggling to make it at something they love while maintaining their dignity. To nearly everyone else, I am friendly, but there is a difference.Keep Reading
It’s time to get up on the stool and pull the cookie press and other seasonal baking gadgets from the top shelf. I normally don’t eat a lot of sweets, but there’s something about this time of year that calls me to gain a few extra pounds, on top of the other extra pounds.Keep Reading
Goldman Sachs has upgraded Waste Management stock from a sell to a buy as a safe place to invest in a downsizing economy. At first read, this made little sense to me, as I think of a recession as a time when you hunker down and buy less, thereby creating less garbage. But maybe it’s a well-run company in an era of companies that produce goods and services that we can actually do without, making it at least a necessity of sorts.
The short-term interests of the financial elite override the long-term interests of society as a whole (the rest of us). Their goal is to keep stock prices and profits soaring by whatever means possible. Currently they are shaking in their boots because they can hear the bear growling off in the woods
It doesn’t take a lot of land to grow enough vegetables for one family and maybe even fit in a chicken coop. Many towns have farm-friendly policies that allow a small number of hens only (for the uninformed, you don’t need a rooster unless you want the eggs to be fertile). There is no piece of ground so small that it can’t be brought into production.
Beautiful soil is the result of composting, which also reduces our waste. Keep that bucket on the sink and throw in your peelings, coffee grounds, apple cores, etc. until it smells enough that you must toss it in the pile. We could also use more community gardens where experienced growers could guide others wanting to learn through the seasons. Because I’ve done the farming thing, I often forget how few people still know how to grow food. Scary.
There are many websites that offer help and guidance when it comes to learning the homely arts. For someone like me, who poured (and still does) over hard copies of magazines like Countryside & Small Stock Journal, Grit, and Backwoods Home Magazine, there are articles that instruct on every phase of homesteading. The mother of them all, Mother Earth News, keeps an extensive archive on its website, free to browse and use.
The Foxfire website describes the series that originated in 1972 with the original “The Foxfire Book,” a collection of articles from the magazine that was begun in 1966 by children of the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia. The name chosen for the title is a reference to the glow emitted by bioluminescent lichen that grows on decaying logs in the Southern woods, noticeable on dark nights. Since that time the magazine has been published uninterrupted, a museum has been established, and the core principles, based on self-centered learning and community-based education, have been adopted by families and educators who favor the Foxfire Approach to Teaching and Learning that “promotes a sense of place and appreciation of local people, community and culture as essential educational tools.”
Beginning more than four decades ago, the students interviewed the elders of their area, documenting their lives and skills, and in doing so they became aware of the close relationships and sharing that were an integral part of creating a strong community. We need more of that–relationships with neighbors and an appreciation of lost culture, not only in Appalachia, but in the urban, exurban, and suburban communities where most of us live.
There are now twelve books in the series that began as a sociological work, and millions of copies of individual volumes have been sold. I bought the first six books in the 1970s. I was a city girl learning how to establish a homestead. I had no experience with farming but was a believer, part of the back-to-the-land movement.
It is in these first collections that most of the practical information can be found. You may not plan on butchering a hog anytime soon, but you will certainly want to plan a garden. The original book has sections on planting by signs, building a log cabin, basket weaving and preserving food, as well as making butter, soap and moonshine. For the religious, there’s information on faith healing and snake handling. The next five volumes offer instructions on spinning and weaving, animal care, tanning hides and logging, as well as making cheese, apple butter, wagons, kilns, tools and shoes. And for “when the work’s all done and the sun’s gettin low” (thanks John Denver), you can also learn how to make old-fashioned toys, corn husk dolls and primitive dulcimers, banjos and fiddles–just in case you can’t power up the tv.
The books are available through the Foxfire website, which is a great place to begin if you’d like to secure your future in small ways, and possibly in bigger ones. And remember the Boy Scout motto.
Interested in the prepper movement? Check out this video by the New Yorker shared on Facebook a few days ago!