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Showing posts from January, 2018

You Label Me, I'll Label You

Sometime around 1970, my parents acquired a "high tech" device known as a Label-It. Manufactured by the DYMO Corporation, the Label-It was an embossing tape printing system that produced a sticky-backed plastic strip onto which the user could custom-print words or short phrases; or for that matter I suppose all the great works of literature, given enough patience and an unlimited supply of tape. The Label-It was gun-shaped with a horizontal alpha-numeric wheel on top. You loaded a spool of plastic tape into the back and fed it through the embossing head. By arranging the wheel so that the desired number or letter was over the tape and pulling the "trigger," the head forced the tape against the raised character and, due the physical properties of the plastic, a white image of the character was transferred to the tape. When the entire word was finished, you hit the "cut" button and removed the label. It was fairly primitive by modern standards, but it was

The Day The "S" Really Did "HTF"

The homesteading community is made up of several different camps: some take to it in an effort to eat healthier; some want a simpler, less materialistic life and some are preparing for a global catastrophe that will wipe out civilization leaving the ultra-prepared and self-sufficient to inherit the earth. That last group can be a little over-the-top in their beliefs, but there is no doubt that one of the key advantages in living a more sustainable lifestyle is being able to more easily deal with natural and man-made disasters, situations often referred to as "when Sh*t Hits The Fan" or by its acronym, SHTF. I personally experienced one of those SHTF moments 40 years ago this week, January 26, 1978; what those of us who lived through it call the Great Blizzard of '78. I was a high school sophomore at the time, living with my parents and older sister in the tiny hamlet of Gypsum, Ohio. Gypsum was, and is, an isolated community of 50 or so families located along the

Plant A 3X3 Square Foot Garden For $50 (Or Less)

It's that time of year when many of us are beginning to solidify our gardening plans for the upcoming growing season. If you are planning to plant a traditional single-row garden this year, I hope you will consider trying Square Foot Gardening instead. One of the frequent concerns I hear about Square Foot Gardening is that it is expensive to get started. My response is that while there is certainly an up-front cost associated with the method, that cost is relatively modest when compared, over time, to a similarly productive single-row garden. Further, many of the costs can be mitigated or eliminated entirely if the gardener is willing to do the work themselves and be creative about acquiring materials.  My preferred materials for building the raised bed box are cedar and cypress, primarily for their attractive appearance and rot-resistance. However, less expensive types of wood, composite materials or even concrete blocks could be used, with a significant savings in cost. If

Give Me A Seed Catalog On A Frosty Winter Evening

Like much of the eastern United States, Wynfield Creek Homestead has seen colder than usual temperatures this January, with lows on a couple of nights dropping into the unheard-of-in-these-parts single digits. We've also had our share of precipitation this month, but have been fortunate NOT to have the two at the same time... until today. Now, to be fair, the inch or two of "wintry mix" we are likely to get over the next few hours is nothing compared to the foot or two some areas of the country have endured this winter. Still, I've been saving up a particular item for an evening such as this, and, no, it's not a fifth of Wild Turkey -- although that doesn't sound bad, either.  If your household is anything like mine and you do a lot of your Christmas shopping online and via catalog, you probably received an astounding number of catalogs between October 1st and December 1st. There were days in the early part of November when the mailbox was stuffed with a

Homestead 2018: New Book, Market Garden and Custom Tackle Change

As we flip the calendar over to 2018, I want to mention some of my plans for the homestead in the coming year. 2017 was a year of transition, as I started a professionally challenging new role as executive director of a startup economic development group, AnsonEDP, in a town more than 60 miles from the homestead and chose to split my time between the two. This arrangement was a little tricky at first, but as Janet and I came to an understanding about shared duties things smoothed out and we actually had a reasonably productive year in the garden. Buoyed by that success, I am looking to take on a couple of additional challenges in 2018; a new, full-length nonfiction book and a market garden, as ell as some minor changes to my custom tackle business. I started work on the new book, which will be called Ben and the Art of Lawnmower Maintenance , in earnest this past September, although the origin of the project can be traced back to an essay by that title I published on the  Porch Dog