Teflon Coated Light Bulbs Deadly to Chickens

...go, Dupont was unsuccessfully sued over the toxicity of Teflon in cookware. Sylvania, apparently, has a warning label on their Teflon coated bulbs, “WARNING: This product contains PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene–”Teflon” is a brand name). When heated, it creates fumes potentially fatal to confined birds.” GE does not have a warning label. I let the ladies take the winter off of laying and it never dips below 40ºF here...

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Are Pallets Safe to Reuse?

...ticides. A certified applicator license is required to purchase and use these products and strict adherence to label directions/requirements is mandatory. Under normal fumigation conditions methyl bromide is a gas and when the pallets are properly aerated according to label instructions, virtually no methyl bromide residue remains on the pallets and wood materials. Now I’m not a methyl bromide fan and I find it’s use as a soil fum...

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Back on the Yogurt Train: How to Make Yogurt

...Your last store bought container of yogurt. You need live yogurt to start the culture, only a few spoonfuls. The label should say something about containing live, active cultures. You’ll need 1 Tablespoon of live yogurt for every quart of milk you’re transforming. Milk, of course. Make sure your milk doesn’t say “Ultra Pasturized” or UP on the label. That stuff is just nasty. Otherwise, you can use whole, 2%, 1% R...

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Review: Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal

I prefer long cooked oatmeal when I’m at home, but we’ve always packed instant oatmeal with us when camping. I think the habit goes back to when Erik and I took epic backpacking trips, and food weight was a prime consideration. Now, camping is a more gentle endeavor–but the instant oatmeal has become a tradition, an easy no-brainer for sleepy grey mornings in the woods, even though its nutritional qualities...

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New Health Food Trends at the Natural Products Food Expo West

This weekend I attended, for or the second year in a row, the Natural Products Expo West. At this massive convention, health food, natural supplement and cosmetic concerns pitch their products to retailers. And, again this year, I did a lot of intemperate sampling. For the sake of you, our dear readers, I ate every known power bar, sports beverage and processed soy/hemp/chia meat substitute so you won’t have to. It was...

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Bar Codes on Veggies

...nion of Agricultural Cooperative cooperating with other farming and agricultural associations are adding QR code labels right at the point of origin. In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was...

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Urban Homesteading Mistakes: Landscape Fabric

...rds for you: landscape fabric–that plastic stuff sold in rolls at big box stores that allegedly blocks out weeds. Just after we bought our “crack” house I started constructing brick paths and decomposed granite walkways (another mistake we’ll blog about later). I thought it would be good idea to lay down landscape fabric to keep weeds from poking up. So why is landscape fabric a bad idea? It’s made of plastic. It ri...

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Hay Boxes or Fireless Cookers

...form of cast off sweaters and blankets, perhaps shredded? This might sound nuts, but if you cut down a bunch of weeds, let them dry and chop them up, they would work as well as hay. Straw has that nice hollow stem construction which probably holds heat better than hay, but some weeds have the same sort of stems. Note: I’d discourage using fiberglass insulation for safety reasons. It’s nasty to work with and you don’t want to...

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Sonora Wheat at the Huasna Valley Farm

...biscuits that tasted as light as white flour but with a rich and complex flavor. Jenn Skinner To fight weeds (the big bugaboo of wheat farming) the Skinners plan on introducing Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) a leguminous plant that will fix nitrogen and out-compete unwanted weeds. The tall stalks of Sonora wheat will allow the medic to grow far below the seed heads. This is in contrast to conventional wheat farming with its short varie...

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Least Favorite Plant: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Today, a new feature on the blog: least favorite plants. I’ve always thought that it’s more fun to read a bad review than a glowing one, so why not extend the concept to the plant world? But we’re not going to rant about “weeds”, which Ralph Waldo Emerson defined as, “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” As active foragers we’ve found virtues in what most people think of as weeds,...

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