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  • spider flower

    Homestead Stories: The Spider Flower

    “You know I don’t really like spiders.” I scowled as my friend led me around her garden. Large or small, spiders really do give me the creeps, and sometimes they bite. Yuck! I do know they have a purpose. Just as long as that purpose does not include me. My friend stopped in front of […] More

  • cabin off in the distance

    Lessons Learned From Our First Year of Cabin Life

    Last year, my husband and I moved from Austin, Texas to a little log cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We changed our entire lives over the course of 20 days: quit our jobs, sold most of what we owned, and moved across the country. Not to mention, I was seven months pregnant at the time. […] More

  • glass gem corn

    Homestead Stories: Glass Gem Corn

    “Oh my! That is colorful. And it’s really corn?” I was flabbergasted. I loved growing and eating corn on the cob. Usually the standard yellow corn or the peaches-and-cream which is a combination of a deep yellow and a pale yellow. I have eaten, though never grown, white corn, loving its tiny, sweet taste. I […] More

  • tulip tree

    Homestead Stories: The Tulip Tree

    “Oh my! The flowers on those trees look like tulips.” I was taking a walk with my grandmother along a country road just north of Lake Erie. It was spring and the weather demanded some outside activity. “That’s why people call them tulip trees,” Gran said. “They’re also called poplars. In fact, other than in […] More

  • green rose

    A Green Rose for St. Patrick’s Day … Why Not?

    “What’s wrong with your rosebush?” I asked. We were standing in front of my mother’s profuse garden of rosebushes. She loved her roses and was always adding a new color to the collection. “That’s a new one, isn’t it? Why is the flower all green?” I was convinced there had to be something wrong with […] More

  • michelle's homestead

    Moving from City to Country: The Long-Term Transition

    When we moved from a city of 200,000 to a homestead in a hilly, Ozark town of 2,000 residents, my husband and I fully anticipated there would be an adjustment period. As I wrote in my first article for Insteading, there are many moments of “culture shock” that could affect this urban-fled, aspiring country bumpkin. […] More

  • morel mushrooms

    Morel Mushroom Hunting

    It’s spring in Minnesota when the trees are sporting their new green leaves and the ground is warm and damp. It’s also time to get into the woods and look for morel mushrooms. Morel hunting has become one of my favorite springtime traditions. My husband Adam, introduced me to morels several years ago. I still […] More

  • foraged coffee

    Caffeine-Free Coffee Substitutes That You Can Forage In The Backyard

    Coffee is something I really used to enjoy. In my memories, that roasted, dark liquid is synonymous with warm cafes, good conversation, and air perfumed with delicious aromas. But now that I’m more than a decade past college, I’m finding that my appreciation for the flavor of this ubiquitous American beverage is quickly being eclipsed […] More

  • yellow jackets

    How To Get Rid Of Yellow Jackets

    My young son was playing with some rocks and sticks nearby while I was pulling weeds from our perennial herb garden. I kept his small frame in the corner of my eye while I worked, smiling to myself as I saw him lean close to the ground in curiosity. He was apparently studying something fascinating. […] More

  • prepping food for cooking

    Homestead Stories: How Dumpster Diving Made Me a Better Cook

    The first zucchini I ever ate came from a dumpster—or, rather, from a cardboard box next to a dumpster, also filled with various greens, peppers, and hummus. Many of the foods in the box were foreign to me, at least from a culinary standpoint, but they were free and I had a family to feed, […] More

  • balloon flowers

    Homestead Stories: The Balloon Flower

    “It’s a balloon flower, Mom.” My youngest jumped up and down with glee. “A what?” I asked. I have to admit, I’ve heard some pretty strange names for flowers but balloon flower was a new one to me. “A balloon flower,” my oldest confirmed. “That’s what the flower looks like when it blooms. A balloon.” […] More

  • outhouse flower close up

    Homestead Stories: The Outhouse Flower

    I have fond memories of the outhouse at the family cottage. Years ago. When I was a youngster. Dad had built it far enough from the cottage that it didn’t project its noxious odors into the place where we ate and slept. Mom planted tall, bushy flowers around the outhouse in an attempt to beautify […] More

  • bee balms

    Bee Balms Or Bee Bums?

    “Mom,” my six-year-old called from the front walk where he had been riding his bike back and forth. He had paused in front of my display of red and purple, firework-like flowers and admired them. At an age where he wanted to know everything, it wasn’t unexpected that he would ask about the different flowers […] More

  • the holly and the ivy

    Homestead Stories: The Holly And The Ivy

    “The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown. Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.” I hummed the tune happily as I dialed my parents’ number. I would be going home in a few days to spend Christmas with the family. I was excited and […] More

  • bulk food in jars

    Frugal Living: Everything You Need To Know

    It’s no secret that modern living is a bit of a morass of consumerism, waste, and debt. In a world where the latest smartphone debuts less than a year after its previous iteration, where the Joneses are always one step ahead of you, and where mountains of plastic are clogging up waterways and oceans, the […] More

  • jack-in-the-pulpit

    Jack-In-The-Pulpit: A Beautiful Flower With A Weird Name

    Growing up in the 1960s, just about everyone in my class at school went to church, and most churches were similar in layout, including, at the front by the choir, a pulpit. So, when the lessons turned to studying the wildflowers of Ontario, the one plant which captured our attention was the Jack-in-the-pulpit. The teacher […] More

  • false solomon's seal

    Homestead Stories: What’s False About False Solomon’s Seal?

    “False Solomon’s seal? What’s that? And why is it false? What’s the real thing?” Questions. Always lots of questions. Each new discovery on my country property opened up a new page of learning, understanding, and appreciating. I had been studying the knee-tall foliage that arched over my flower beds. With oval-shaped leaves draping along the […] More

  • trout lily

    Homestead Stories: How I Accidentally Grew Trout Lilies

    When I first moved to the country, I was amazed at the bounty of both wildlife and wildflowers. I had a big job ahead of me—tidying the forested part of our property. I wanted to clear out the brambles and remove the garbage that had been randomly dumped in a place the previous owners believed […] More

  • soap made with hops

    Making Homemade Soap

    I started making my own soap out of necessity, but eventually it became one of our farm products. Around 2000, I started having severe rashes. I had combination allergies, which made me allergic to soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent and even toothpaste! I started out making my soaps with melt-and-pour glycerin, but that proved to be […] More

  • dandelions

    Why You Should Keep Your Dandelions

    Yellow, yellow everywhere. Interspersed with the yellow, were just as plentiful white puffballs of fluff. Hardly any green. It was a dandelion haven. As a child, I recall picking dandelions as a flower bouquet for Mom or Gran. They loved them, or so they claimed, and made a big deal of placing them in water […] More

  • black and white lighthouse on the beach

    Lighthouses For Sale

    Buying a lighthouse is more than a real estate transaction. It’s a lifestyle change that links you to a proud American tradition. The best way to find lighthouses for sale is via a US Government lighthouse “property disposal”. These happen sporadically. When one is going on, the General Services Administration lists available lighthouses on this […] More

  • maple trees tapped for sap

    Homesteading Stories: Maple Sugaring

    There are a lot of different types of maple trees – at least 128 species. Some grow better than others. Some are a harder wood, making them ideal for use on bowling alley floors, while others are considered a weed maple because they grow too big, too fast and too soft. There’s the silver maple, […] More

  • white orchid in winter

    How To Care For Orchids

    “You should be advised, sir,” the clerk advised my husband, “that when the blossoms die, it doesn’t mean the plant is dead. It does go through a dormant stage. And don’t over-water.” My husband smiled as he paid for the purchase and accepted the carefully wrapped plant to bring home. “Not to worry. My wife […] More

  • rhubarb garden

    Homestead Stories: Great Grandpa’s Rhubarb

    The first heavy frost has just hit and the temperature has taken a nose dive well below freezing. The gardens are all tucked in their beds, well covered with leaves. Little nobs still poke their heads above the frozen earth, but the remnants of my great grandfather’s rhubarb are well blanketed with a thick layer […] More

  • jerusalem artichoke tubers

    Jerusalem Artichokes

    I first discovered Jerusalem artichokes about four years ago in Arkansas. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I saw the 5-foot stalk with a yellow flower that looked like a miniature sunflower without the seeds. I flipped through my edible plants book, surfed the web, did some research and was pleased […] More

  • chickens drinking water

    Lessons From Facing Death On The Homestead

    As a small girl in my suburban neighborhood, dealing with death was something unusual. So when my pet fish died, tears were shed and a solemn, toilet-side funeral was held, complete with speeches! Any time I found a dead baby bird in the spring, my long-suffering father would kindly wrap it in tissues and bury […] More

  • Homestead Stories: Memories Of Carving Pumpkins

    The shape isn’t perfect – it never is. It’s rather flat on one side since that’s the way it laid on the ground while it grew. Its shape adds character. At least, one can imagine that it does. Washed and then dried, it sits on the kitchen table awaiting its demise. Or, perhaps, its re-creation […] More

  • copperhead snake laying in woods

    Homestead Stories: Dealing With A Copperhead Den

    I knew before making the move to Arkansas several years ago that I would get to see a lot of snakes, especially since Central Arkansas is hot, humid, and rocky. The climate in combination with the rocky terrain makes the area perfect for snakes. I’ve encountered beautiful queen snakes, king snakes, garter snakes, and many […] More

  • shovel and compost bin

    What I Did When My Compost Got Smelly

    “Ugh! What’s that smell?” I still remember the exclamations that came from our next door neighbor, back in the day when we lived nestled way too close together in not-so-blissful suburbia. Over time the exclamations continued, “I can’t sit out here. It positively reeks.” After that came the pointing and glaring. The Source Of The […] More

  • Our Dead Trees Became Living Fungal Art

    Fungi are remarkable, and after many trees fell in our yard we discovered the beauty of living fungal art. Trees–they’re beautiful when healthy, but even long-living, solid trees can meet an untimely end. When we moved onto our one-acre country lot, we were thrilled with the bits of forest that surrounded our house. Not only […] More

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