How to Have a Healthy Complexion: 5 Steps with 5 Natural Skin Care Recipes

from New York City
Shea butter is a skin moisturizer
Shea butter is a skin moisturizer

Natural Skin Care Tips and Recipes

Our lovely faces are constantly under attack by everyday stress, heavy pollution, very little sleep, poor diet and maybe just a bit too much partying. Just a little bit of time spent taking care of our skin will keep it healthy.

Listed below are five basic steps to take to keep your face beautiful. Also listed below are very simple recipes you may want to try to go along with each of the five steps, as well as more additional tips for facial skin care.

Note: Always know your facial skin type – such as dry, oily or combination – so you can use the right products. Then do a patch test if you are applying the product to your face for the first time.

Five Steps for Basic Skin Care

1 – Cleansing — done daily will get rid of all the day’s dirt, excessive natural oils and any makeup

2 – Steaming — done weekly will help open the pores in order to do a deep cleansing, while it also increases blood circulation

3 – A Face Mask — done periodically, a face mask will help remove dirt and oils deep down in your pores. It will also help replenish essential vitamins and minerals.

4 – Toning — gentle toning can be done daily to help tighten the pores and give you that even skin appearance

5 – Moisturizing — daily moisturizing will help replenish lost moisture and also offer a protective coating against the harsh elements

Some Suggested Recipes for Each Step of Facial Care

1- A Cleanser — for oily skin

Use a simple apple cider vinegar wash if your skin is oily – it quickly removes dirt

  • 2 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp distilled water

Mix ingredients together/ apply with a cotton ball/ then rinse in mild water and gently pat dry

2 – Steam Suggestion — for skin that is acne prone and oily

Steam the face with lavender to normalize secretions of the sebaceous glands

  • 6 drops of essential lavender oil
  • 1 gallon nearly boiling water

In a large bowl filled with the nearly boiling water, add the essential oil/ drape a towel over your head and once you determine the water is not too hot, put your face over the bowl of water and oil – about 12 inches away. Steam for about 10 minutes, then gently pat your face dry.

3 – A Face Mask — for all skin types use honey

Because honey is a natural humectant, it can attract and maintain moisture in your skin. The anti-oxidant properties of honey help protect skin from UV (ultra-violet) sun shine. Darker honey is more potent.

  • Organic honey

Always cleanse the face before doing any face mask. Next, warm the honey to make it more liquefied. Gently smooth it on your face and neck without pulling (I use my hands to have better control, but you can use a spatula)/ relax, leaving the mask on for about 15 minutes. Wash with warm water and then splash with cold. Pat dry.

If you are not going to use a toner now, then apply a moisturizer to seal in the moisture.

4 – Simple Toner — (a favorite) this super easy green tea tonic is good for tired and aging skin

  • 2 tsp loose green tea
  • 1/2 cup water

Steep tea for 10 minutes and let cool. Apply with a cotton ball. This tonic is gentle enough to use daily. Store leftovers in the fridge and you’ll have a cool refreshing summer skin tonic.

5 – Moisturizers — Would you believe a particular margarine is an excellent moisturizer? Here are a few simple suggestions, including the margarine

a – Recipe for rose water and glycerin moisturizer

  • 2 parts rose water
  • 1 part glycerin

Mix together to create a lotion and apply nightly

Glycerin, like honey, is also a humectant and will attract moisture into your skin

b – One of my old favorites is a safflower margarine that I purchased at the health food store. It was made by Hain and sold in stick form. I never used it for anything else but as a skin moisturizer. And I was very pleased – even surprised at the good results.

I’ve since moved on to Shea butter which requires no refrigeration, keeps incredibly well, is better priced and has a multitude of uses and amazing healthy benefits.

c – My all around moisturizer of choice is Shea butter, which is not only excellent for moisturizing but also has many other healthy benefits. See the link below for more information

Note: Many cooking oils also work well to moisturize the face. This includes olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and more. See link below about using cooking oils as massage oils and more.

Additional Tips for Skin Care

  1. When doing a steam always cleanse your face first, be sure the water is not too hot and do it once a week for best results.
  2. When doing a treatment on your face include your neck. The skin on your neck ages just like the skin on your face.
  3. Certain areas of your face are more prone to lack moisture. Therefore, be sure to moisturize the areas above your upper lip and atop your cheekbones, but stay below the eye area.
  4. Adding certain foods to your diet will help lubricate and heal your skin. Add foods with vitamin A; this includes carrots, pumpkin, spinach and cantaloupe. Foods with vitamin E will help improve elasticity. This includes eggs, broccoli and leafy greens.

Also see other links for simple beauty treatments that you make yourself:

Prepping 101: The 10 Principles of Preparedness

Photograph by Sharp Entertainment/ Corey Wascinski

Photograph by Sharp Entertainment/ Corey Wascinski

Last night’s premiere of Doomsday Preppers got you thinking your emergency preparedness plans are somewhat lacking? We thought it might. Our resident gourmet prepper Kellene Bishop has put together an introductory lesson to the word of prepping. And big thanks to Kellene for live-tweeting during her episode last night! She provided great insight and behind-the-scenes commentary. And, since we noticed so many comments about people considering prepping or worrying about how they would fare in an unexpected emergency, Kellene put this handy guide together for anyone interested in how to start prepping: 

Attempting to be more self-reliant in any one area of our lives can feel a bit overwhelming. Even more frustrating can be the litany of advertisers who scare the bejeebies out of us in hopes to get us to buy their new and improved disaster prevention thingamajig. But if you stick to two key fundamentals of preparedness, you’ll be able to avoid the countless pitfalls.

Prepare for today, be ready for tomorrow. Avoid looking toward a single specific event for which you’re going to prepare. Self-reliance applies very personally to each person’s life. If you can prepare for the everyday, then you’ll find yourself prepared for future events as well. Instead of dwelling on the myriad of horrible possibilities, take it one step at a time. As you go through your daily routine, challenge yourself with questions that make you think differently about the access and freedoms you presently enjoy that make your daily routine possible. For example, as you’re driving ask yourself what you would do if your ability to drive that particular route was compromised. “What if” scenarios are much more powerful than simple child games, they give our brain the resources to use in the future when we are suddenly faced with a challenge, allowing us the chance to better function when faced with stressful situations. Also, allowing yourself to think of the “what if “scenarios, will naturally help you to take measures to be ready with countermeasures when you’re thrown a curveball.

Prioritize. There’s a natural progression of events that unfold in the face of a trial. Understanding this natural progression is key to properly preparing and will ensure that you don’t ignore a key principle or overemphasize another. History provides us with an abundance of these examples. For example, while most people think about stocking up on food, when it comes to “preppers” such a principle is no where near as critical as access to proper medical care. No one gets into a car accident and immediately dials for pizza delivery, right? So strengthen your self-reliance efforts by focusing on the natural way that vulnerabilities will unfold in times of distress and take actions according to the level of importance to such priorities.

Here’s a list of 10 Principles of Preparedness in the order of their prioritization. Try as you may, you’ll be hard pressed to switch their order of influence in your life. Ensuring that you address all of them with the proper level of prioritization, will give you a balanced self-reliance result:

1: Spiritual Preparedness: Your core values and belief system will be the first point of strength in the face of any challenge and will no doubt determine how you respond to those challenges.

2: Mental Preparedness: Your level of knowledge, skills, and fortitude to endure a challenge will be closely linked with the first Principle of Preparedness. All of the tools and supplies and protections in the world won’t help a person without the mental ability to exercise the use thereof.

3: Physical Preparedness: Your level of physical mobility, fitness, and how you’ve prepared to address your physical vulnerabilities is crucial. A fitness guru can be just as compromised as a person who’s seriously overweight if they lack the muscle memory, dexterity, and physical skills needed to travel or defend themselves in the face of a challenge.

4: Medical Preparedness: Something as simple as a hang-nail, minor scrape, or running out of critical medication has killed a person more than once. Preparing for such instances in the form of first-aid knowledge, alternative methods of care, battle field triage skills, and stocking up on essential first aid supplies can eliminate a host of unpleasant possibilities.

5: Clothing/Shelter Preparedness: Personal and structural soundness, safety, and protection. You may think of water as more important than most anything, but you can perish from heat exhaustion or freezing to death much sooner than you will thirst. How will you control your environment if you lack the luxury of electricity or gas?

6: Fuel Preparedness: Light, heat, travel, cooking, sanitizing, and environmental control all require some form or another of fuel—whether it be your own physical energy or that provided by a resource such as propane, batteries, or wood.  Do you have alternative resources along with the equipment to use such resources?

7: Water Preparedness: While it’s not accurate that 72 hours without water will kill a person, it is accurate that 72 hours without water will begin to damage vital organs in the body. Be sure you have reliable water sources in your shelter, easily accessed, as well as plans for filtering and treating other resources of water.

8: Food Preparedness: Be sure that you also have the knowledge and resources to prepare and serve food with absorbable nutrition. Simply storing food is only the first step. True self-reliance only comes in this area when you’re able to produce food as well. Also, don’t underestimate the need for familiar foods for your family, as well as comfort food.

9: Financial Preparedness: Ridding yourself of debt and having the ability to purchase what you need under a wide set of circumstances is critical, as is having 6 months reserve of your monthly income and setting aside items with which to barter.

10: Communication Preparedness: When trouble strikes, the first thing you want to know is that your friends and loved ones are well, however, there are many circumstances in which your traditions communication methods are compromised, so prepare for alternatives. Coordinating efforts, commerce, and safety are also compromised without sufficient low-tech communication alternatives.

Kellene Bishop, The Preparedness Pro, has been educating on panic-free, practical preparedness information for over 12 years. You can find more information at or Kellene’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Charles Hugh Smith: Why Local Enterprise Is The Solution

Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 10:12 am, by Adam

A growing number of individuals believe our economic and societal status quo is defined by unsustainable addiction to cheap oil and ever increasing debt. With that viewpoint, it’s hard not to see a hard takedown of our national standard of living in the future. Even harder to answer is: what do you do about it?

Charles Hugh Smith, proprietor of the esteemed weblog, sees the path to future prosperity in removing capital from the Wall Street machine and investing it into local enterprise within the community in which you live.

Enterprise is completely possible in an era of declining resource consumption. In other words, just because we have to use less, doesn’t mean that there is no opportunity for investing in enterprise. I think enterprise and investing in fact, are the solution. And if we withdraw our money from Wall Street and put it to use in our own communities, to the benefit of our own income streams, then I think that things happen.”

“We have to solve our own problems. The savior state and these institutions are not going to reform themselves and they are not reformable in any way that is meaningful. And so, I think what we’re talking about is taking your capital, which is your human capital, your skills and your experience; your social capital, the people you know and trust that you’ve created in life; and your financial capital and investing them in local solutions. Things that people need, like energy and food and shelter and a low energy lifestyle.”

“There is opportunity for technological innovation in greatly increasing the efficiency of our appliances and the rest of our lifestyle, as well as tremendous technological improvements in productions and so on. But there’s also what we might call social and behavioral innovations, which the United States is really poor in recognizing. The simplest way to cut your energy is to live close to the things that you need to get to. And if you have your own enterprise, then we might benefit on a household and a social scale of just living close to your job. So being dependent on corporate America and a job a hundred miles away – that’s a really fragile, vulnerable lifestyle. So if you can relocalize your income streams and your enterprises and live close to work and school, you’re already tremendously more resilient and have a much more sustainable household regardless of what happens.”

Also in this interview:

  • Why keeping capital in the financial markets puts you at increasing risk of mis-aligned Wall Street incentives as well as declining asset prices
  • How de-globalization, de-legitimization, de-centralization and de-finacialization will be major trends driving our economy in the future
  • How investing in your local economy can yield a higher quality of life, even if your relative “standard of living” decreases

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Charles Hugh Smith (runtime 43m:35s):

Download/Play the Podcast
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Or click here to read the full transcript.

The Resilient Gardener, Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

By Carol Deppe

The Resilient Gardener – click here to view or purchase on Amazon

Scientist/gardener Caarol Deppe combines her passion for gardening with newly emerging scientific information from many fields – resilience science, climatology, ecology, anthopology, sustianable agriculture, nutrition, and health science.  In this book Deppe extends these principles with detailed information about growing and using five keystone crops that are especially important for anyone seeking greater self-reliance: potatoes, corn, beans, squash and eggs.  In this book you’ll learn how to: garden in a time of climate change and unpredictable weather; grow, use, and store more of your staple crops; save your own seeds and seed potatoes; and keep a flock of ducks and chickens whilst integrating them into your gardening activities, and growing most of their feed.

The Resilient Gardener is both a conceptual and hands-on gardening book.  “Resilience” here is broadly conceived, and encompasses a full range of challenges, from the personal, financial, health, dietary – to serious regional disasters and global climate change.  However this is a supremely optimistic and realistic book about how resilient gardeners (and their gardens) can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive through everything that comes their way – tomorrow or in the next thousand years.

The Resilient Gardener is so essential, timely and important, and I will recommend it to everyone I know. It doesn’t matter if you garden or if you don’t-this is practical wisdom good for humans to know, passed on by a careful student who has deeply studied her life. Carol Deppe’s lens is the garden-which is great for gardeners, but really, she speaks clearly to all of us. If you try to think like Deppe, you will find you have a new view of your life no matter who you are. This is a wise and intelligent book. Hats off to Carol Deppe!–Deborah Madison, Author of Local Flavors and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

In the years since Carol Deppe wrote the classic Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, she has continued to grow in deep wisdom and experience. The Resilient Gardener is brilliantly timely, and shows us how to create gardens that can survive our increasingly erratic weather, while supplying key nutrition lacking in most vegetable gardens. This book fills a critical niche, and I recommend it unreservedly.–Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

The Resilient Gardener is the most comprehensive and detailed book about gardening that I have read to date, and I could not find one sentence that I would quibble with. Not only does Deppe discuss all the immediate, nose- to- the- grindstone kind of information about producing and using homegrown food, but also all the surrounding environmental and cultural aspects of gardening that are so vital to success. A must read for beginning gardeners, and full of details even the most experienced will find invaluable.–Gene Logsdon, author of Small-Scale Grain Raising and Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind

The Resilient Gardener gives concrete examples of how to deal with diet, climate, and economic changes before the need arises. Deppe challenges us to experiment with and practice all aspects of gardening, seed saving and food storage, and advises on the growing need to meet special food and climate requirements in the face of our food system’s fragility. This book is an invaluable tool for gardeners and farmers as we experience more and more volatility in our food systems.”–Suzanne Ashworth, author of Seed to Seed

Carol Deppe is informative, funny, and intriguing as she guides us through every phase of gardening–dispelling myths while also orienting us to the technical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of growing food. The Resilient Gardener is the quintessential guide to gardening from an authority who also knows how to enjoy herself.–Didi Emmons, author of Vegetarian Planet

Carol Deppe’s celiac-friendly approach to gardening and nutrition provides a wealth of information on how to overcome food intolerances many are confronted with each day. If you struggle with food allergies or sensitivities–or want to use natural resources to create a healthy world for you and your family–this book is for you.–Peter H.R. Green, MD, Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

“Growing food is among the most positive changes anyone can make in the face of uncertainty about the future. The Resilient Gardener is an information-packed resource for people starting or expanding a garden practice. This book empowers readers with skills and understanding, as did Deppe’s previous book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties.”–Sandor Ellix Katz, author, Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved


Product Description

CREATIVE, PRODUCTIVE GARDENING FOR GOOD TIMES AND BAD.In an age of erratic weather and instability, people’s interest in growing their own food is skyrocketing. The Resilient Gardener presents gardening techniques that stand up to challenges ranging from health problems, financial problems, and special dietary needs to serious disasters and climate change. Scientist and expert gardener Carol Deppe draws from emerging science in many fields to develop the general principles of gardening for resilience. Gardeners will learn through Deppe’s detailed instructions on growing, storing, and using the five crops central to self-reliance: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.
Learn how to:
  • Grow food in an era of wild weather and climate change
  • Garden with little to no irrigation or “store-bought” inputs
  • Garden efficiently and comfortably (even with a bad back)
  • Customize your garden to deal with special dietary needs or a need for weight control
  • Make breads and cakes from home-grown corn using original gluten-free recipes (with no other grains, artificial binders, or dairy products)
  • Keep a laying flock of ducks or chickens, integrate them with your gardening, and grow most of their feed

And more . . .The Resilient Gardeneris both a conceptual and a hands-on gardening book for all levels of experience. Optimistic as well as realistic, Deppe offers invaluable advice for gardeners (and their communities) to flourish.

My Suburban Homestead Photo Gallery

Kim’s Journal Entry:  May 13, 2011

I’ve been gardening in Germantown for three years now and I’ve had a tough time bringing in a substantial harvest.  Last year all my squash and zucchini plants died when I mulched with pine straw (too much acid) and my tomatoes stopped producing during the drought because I had a poor irrigation system.  I’ve had to deal with squash worms and aphids too.  I really believe that companion planting and using rabbit and chicken manure along with worm castings is really making a difference for me this year.  But the biggest change that I’ve made is planting in raised beds. I LOVE raised beds!  Creating my own nutritious soil mix without having to till and work our clay soil has been a huge plus.  The beds keep the rabbits away and make it easy to attach trellises, netting and connect hoop houses for winter crops. Weeding is also much easier to do with raised beds.  The floods and strong winds this spring would normally have hurt my garden but with raised beds every plant fared well.

Over the past three weeks I’ve added five new chicks and four bunny rabbits to my homestead experiment.  I also planted a small orchard in the back yard and built a chicken fence.  I planted peach and apple trees in my orchard and built a small grape trellis. All my raised beds are finally planted and I’ve been harvesting fresh, organic spinach, kale and romaine lettuce for two weeks now.  We are finally picking ripe strawberries too.  The girls like to help pick leafy greens for salads and pizzas.  It’s so much fun to eat this way!  I love the cut and come again romaine lettuce and spinach plants. YUM!

Here’s a list of the plants that I’m growing this year:

Vegetables: spinach, lettuce (romaine and loose leaf), kale, broccoli, onions, garlic, potatoes, green beans, squash, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant, green, purple, red and yellow bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots, corn, celery, tomatoes, okra, lima beans, black beans, alfalfa.

Fruit: grapes, peaches, tangerines, apples, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, oranges (I’m hoping to plant cantaloupe, watermelon and pumpkins soon).

Companion Flowers: nasturtiums, marigolds, pansies.

Herbs:  basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, chocolate mint, lavender, dill, mint, sorrel, stevia, apple mint, rosemary.

Here’s my latest photo gallery:

Living on a farm in the city

Published in Mother Earth News
5/4/2011 11:49:36 PM

Chicago urban farmMany of the people who read Mother Earth News are interested in self-sufficiency, growing their own food, making food from scratch and raising animals for meat or fiber, if space (and laws) allow. However, many of those same readers also, like myself, live in the city. We enjoy the benefits of farm life and city life, adding in the convenience of urban transportation, diversity, great restaurants and access to world class arts.

But, there are drawbacks. Legal restrictions. Neighbors that are too close that may not appreciate your activities. Lack of space to plant an orchard or raise a milk cow. The list goes on. Many of us dream of living further out to do the things we really want to do when, really, most of the things we want to do can be accomplished right in our own backyards.

Growing a substantial amount of food just means the willingness to convert a lot of your yard into food growing spaces. If you are fortunate to live in a city like Seattle that has forward thinking laws, you can raise rabbits, a half dozen chickens, a couple of dwarf dairy goats and some bees. What else do you really need?

All the other activities we think of when it comes to being self-sufficient can be done no matter where you live – cooking and heating with a wood stove, cheese making, home brewing, soap making, bread baking, canning, sewing, knitting, etc. Again, the list goes on and few things prevent you from doing them besides, perhaps, funds and the gumption to do them.

If you call yourself an urban farmer or homesteader and dream of the country, what do you wish you had or could do differently? Is your wanderlust for more space really just holding you back from creating what you really want in the space you already have?

Thoughtful Chicken Raising

Thoughtful Chicken Raising, by Sharon, April 22nd, 2011, Posted on The Chatelaine’s Keys

Read the original article here

Poultry is the new black, right?  Well, maybe not, but when you think about greater self-sufficiency and backyard farming and such, the first thing a lot of people imagine is getting some chickens.

Now on one hand, I think that’s a good idea. There are many compelling reasons to keep chickens. First of all, industrial chicken and egg production is one of the filthiest, most inhumane, most grotesque industries of all time. You probably already know that the chickens are essentially tortured during their short lives, living in filth, crammed in tiny cages, etc… I won’t bother reiterating what we all already know, but if you buy eggs or chicken at the supermarket, you are, with your dollars, saying, “I’m ok with torturing animals and polluting the planet just so I can have meat and eggs.” Organics, industrial kosher and “free range” (which really doesn’t mean what you think it does) are marginally better, but much more like industrial production than not.

So what is a person who likes to eat eggs and the occasional bowl of chicken soup to do? If you raise four laying hens in your backyard, you will average 2 eggs per day – enough for a household of four to have an egg each every other day. 8 hens, which would fit comfortably in your average suburban backyard, will keep you in all the eggs you want much of the year. Eggs are a superb source of protein, and quite delicious. They enhance most baked goods.

In addition, you will get chicken manure (in industrial concentrated production, chicken manure is a problem – in your yard, it is a blessing on your garden), and when the hens get older, and stop laying so well, if you are brave about this sort of thing, you can make chicken and dumplings out of them. Or you can keep the hen as a pet. They are friendly things, make pleasant noises (you don’t need a rooster to get eggs, and in fact most people in close proximity to neighbors shouldn’t keep a rooster) , and good natured. Children can pet them, and there isn’t a child or adult in the world who doesn’t get excited when they find an egg. All my children have grown up with chickens, but the excitement has never waned.

Chickens will eat your food scraps, including meats and things you can’t put on the compost pile, and return you beautiful eggs. They will eat bugs, including japanese beetles, slugs and ticks that pester us. All they require is an area of grass to scratch on, the most basic housing (4 hens can live comfortably in a doghouse, but for gathering eggs and straw removal you might want something else).

Now some areas do not permit chickens, but surprisingly many do, and if they don’t, this is something to take up with your town board or whoever is in charge. Get your neighbors to help – promise them as many delicious, orange yolked, lovely eggs as they want if they will help you. Show them how cute the baby chicks are, and how sweet natured a Buff Orpington hen is when a five year old picks her up and carries her around. 6 hens make far less noise, mess and trouble than one Golden Retriever for neighbors, and are infinitely more useful.  Their manure is less dangerous than a dog’s poop, they carry fewer human-dangerous diseases.  Any society that permits household dogs can rationally accept household chickens, so do not let nonsense about salmonella and bird flu deter you or your city.  That does not mean it will always be easy, but it is well worth a try.

But – and I want everyone to pause at that but – it is worth thinking about how we’re going to feed these chickens. Because a lot of people get chickens and think their work on the path to sustainability is done. But if your chickens are eating a lot of grains, it would probably be more productive for you to simply eat the grains. And if those grains come from long distances, and are not organic, you’ve done something, but not enough. If you are feeding your chickens GM corn and Roundup-ready soybeans, then you will both get out of them what you put in, and are again, with your dollars, tacitly saying “these practices are ok.”

So how do we feed chickens so that they produce eggs and meat for us, but don’t require us to violate basic principles about raising things sustainably? Well, chickens are always going to need some grain, but they can get quite a lot of their food foraging in your yard for bugs, eating grass, and from your household scraps. Most American households could easily feed half a dozen chickens more than 80% of their diets from their own scraps, scraps obtained from their neighborhood (talk to neighbors, your local coffee shop, the market, etc…) lawn and bugs.

Lots of people raising poultry and feeding them mostly grains raises a major problem – among other difficulties, besides the fact that your eggs may or may not be any lower in environmental impact than the other eggs, when grain is fed to livestock in the industrial world, it raises grain prices in the Global south, where much of the grain is fed directly to humans.  Competitions between the livestock and pets of industrial people and the world’s poor are always a losing battle for the world’s poor – they can’t compete.  So finding ways to keep your chickens on homegrown feed or food scraps, as is done in much of the world, is essential.

Now back to the lawn.  Presumably, you didn’t want the bugs, mostly anyway. The lawn might bother you a bit – after all, if you live in a suburban neighborhood, you may have one of those lawns that looks like it was painted on, and the thought of chickens pooping on your lawn may be traumatic. But if you build a chicken tractor (that is, a small pen that can be moved easily), and put the chickens in a small spot on your lawn each day, you’ll fertilize that spot, won’t have excessive quantities of manure, and get your grass trimmed too. Or, you can build them a yard where they can poop their heart’s content, and you can bring them your weeds, lawn clippings, as well as the scraps from your garden, and keep them blissfully happy.  Generally speaking you’ll want breeds of hen that are good foragers – we’ve had great luck with Buff Orpingtons, Dark Cornish and Aracaunas.

For the other 20% of their diet you’ll need grains and a source of fairly intense protein, and maybe a source of calcium. If they have open ground, you won’t need to worry about grit too much.  Now we shouldn’t be trying to duplicate commercial diets – the idea is not to maximize meat or egg production, but to get the most out of the animals without either shortening their lives or making your own life stressful.

Locally produced staple grains can feed chickens – you can grow them in your garden if you have enough room. Dry corn, for example, is not hard to grow, and it wouldn’t take much space to grow a year’s supply for a small number of hens.  Wheat, oats or millet need not be threshed or anything. Just grow them (they grow like grass, because they are grasses), cut them down, and toss a bundle in with the hens now and then – the straw will make bedding for them and they’ll scratch out all the grain. Even potatoes can be used, and potatoes are the easiest staple starch to grow in cold, rocky areas like the Northeast. Potatoes must be cooked, but you could easily boil a big pot of potatoes every few days and toss the rest to them gradually. Or you can buy grains from a local small producer.

As for protein, if you have enough land, you could use extra milk from goats or cows (chickens will also happily drink milk you let sour in the fridge.) If you can find enough scraps to support them and the chickens, you could raise either earth or meal worms in your house, and use them as a supplementary source of protein. Or, of course, there’s soybeans, if you can buy them locally. Your own meat scraps will provide some. If you have spare eggs, you can even cook them and feed them back to the hens (you don’t want to teach them to eat raw eggs, trust me). In any case, any shells you don’t need should be cooked, crushed and fed back to the chickens for calcium supplementation. With that, you’ll need only a little oyster shell or other source of calcium.

At most, you should be bringing in a small percentage of the hens’ total diet, if you are working towards sustainability – because those sacks of feed will probably not be available forever.  Might as well make good eggs now!


Radiation fallout from Japan affects food safety across North America


See the original article here



FRENCH NUCLEAR RESEARCH GROUP CRIIRAD ISSUES WARNING AGAINST CONSUMING SPECIFIC FOODS FOR ENTIRE COUNTRY OF FRANCE – All French citizens were warned against consuming rainwater, leafy greens, and all milk derived products (including from goats and sheep as well as cows) due to radioactive fallout contamination in Europe.  The U.S. and Canadian governments still claim that all of the above foods are safe in North America, even for infants and pregnant women; unfortunately the reality is that the level of radioactive fallout present here is 8 to 10 times greater that of France and the rest of Europe. –








These maps, made available by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), show which areas of North America have received or will soon receive the highest dumps of radioactive fallout from Fukushima.  The maps show during which time periods to expect incoming fallout in specific areas.  It is a tragedy and a scandal that the U.S. and Canadian governments do not provide such information to its citizens.  The link below will take you to a page where you can click on which radioactive fallout element to track over which area of the world.  Be aware that the amount of fallout already on the ground in North America  will continue to affect us for a long time to come, even if concentrations shown on this mapping (which shows current streams of new fallout from Fukushima) become less intense in the future.



EPA IS PLANNING TO INCREASE OFFICIAL “SAFE” RADIATION LEVEL GUIDELINES BY FACTORS OF THOUSANDS OR MILLIONS IN THE NEAR FUTURE – This is a clear sign of how bad things are: to continue the illusion that the fallout crisis is not dangerous, the EPA is planning to increase dramatically the official guidelines for “safe levels” of radiation – even though their current guidelines are already unrealistically high and inaccurate for risks from radioactive contamination of air, food and water. –

MAINSTREAM MEDIA IS IGNORING REPORTS OF RADIOACTIVE CESIUM FALLOUT TO FOCUS ON RADIOACTIVE IODINE – Since Radioactive Iodine has a short half-life of 8 days, whereas Cesium has a half life in some cases of 30 years, this is another tactic to obscure the long-term danger in North America. –


Energy News Website (perhaps the most frequently updated information source in English on the internet for the Radiation crisis in North America):

The non-profit Nuclear Information and Resource Service is an excellent and highly recommended source with regular updates:

The non-profit Low-Level Radiation Campaign website has a wealth of helpful  information, including good rebuttals to false media reports such as those stating that the Chernobyl accident was “not as bad as people think”:

NaturalNews website is another frequently updated source of information on the fallout crisis:


Below is a summary of key areas and food products of highest concern.

We strongly recommend that you do energetic testing of foods from these areas before consuming them to see if they strengthen or weaken you, using

  • Vibrational Radiesthesia, or
  • Kinesiology, or
  • Pulse Diagnosis.


The Entirety of the Northern Hemisphere around the world is affected by fallout, as well as the Pacific Ocean.

Most Serious:  Japan, Pacific Ocean, and Pacific Rim States

Most Contaminated food areas of North America (based on fallout wind spread patterns charted by European scientific research agencies) in order of likely intensity of contamination, starting with the most contaminated:

  • Entire Pacific Coast (note that much of the produce in North America comes from this region, especially California)
  • Northern U.S. States close to Canada, and Canadian areas close to the U.S. (including Toronto etc.)
  • Eastern States
  • Central States of the U.S., and Far Northern areas of Canada


The majority of contamination is in the northern hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean region.  Most of the Southern Hemisphere has little to no fallout (the exception is the Southern Hemisphere in the Pacific; Australia for example is finding radioactive fish in the ocean, so although they may not get much atmospheric fallout they are affected by the massive contamination of the Pacific Ocean.)

Also note that radioactive contamination is being found on non-food products being imported from Japan.

Safest Areas of Origin for food products:
Central America (avoid items from the Pacific Coast area of Mexico)
South America

Europe is also far less contaminated that North America, although it is also experiencing significant fallout; so it is a better source for products than North America, however not as good as Southern Hemisphere sources.  (However some South American produce may contain high levels of pesticides not allowed to be used in the U.S. or Canada.)


Most affected:

All Ocean-Derived Products from the Pacific Ocean: the Fukushima accident dumped millions of times the normal background levels of radiation into the Pacific, where it is affecting the entire ocean (most toxic near Japan and bordering areas, but now reaching to the US West Coast: debris from the Tsunami in Japan is also expected to start washing up on the West Coast in the near future.)  There are already reports of Pacific Fish showing radioactive contamination.
This indicates a need to be cautious regarding:
All Pacific Ocean Fish
Sea Salt or Ocean Minerals derived from the Pacific
All Pacific Seaweed and Sea Vegetables (order Atlantic Ocean seaweed at )

Milk and all Dairy Products (butter, cheese etc.) from all animals: Cows, Goats, and Sheep (Dairy products have the most intense immediate absorption of radiation from fallout). Radioactive contamination of milk has been found throughout the United States, especially on the West Coast.

Any plant with a large surface area exposed to the air while growing:  The most intense radiation absorption in plants is through rain falling directly on the leaves  of the plant, where it is directly absorbed.  Rainwater absorbed through the earth into the plant is already of much lower radiation intensity due to the filtering affect of the soil.
All broad leaf plants and plants with large surface areas grown in the open air (rather than in greenhouses) are the most contaminated, for instance Salad Greens, Spinach, Cabbage etc.  Contaminated crops in California (carrying radioactive iodine and cesium) have already been confirmed by UC Berkeley.
[Carrots and other root vegetables are less contaminated due to growing underground.]

Water from Rainwater or Open Lake type catchments: instead drink bottled water, or water from underground wells or other underground sources (radiation is greatly reduced when the particles have to travel through the ground.)



A good overview of radiation protective food and antidotes are available in a free downloadable PDF here:

Information on Dr. Hazel Parcells’ important Radiation Detox methods can be found in this book:

Excellent article by Dr. Mark Sircus on Radiation Treatments (check out his blog too for good updates): has an incredibly rich database of scientific articles on foods and supplements which protect against radiation here:

The Best Medicinal Herbs To Grow

eHow – The Best Medicinal Herbs To Grow

By J. Lang Wood, eHow Contributor

The environmental movement has spawned an interest in growing plants that have been used traditionally for their medicinal properties. Many of these plants are easy to grow in most regions, while others do well when grown indoors. The plants can be prepared as infusions, tinctures, syrups, or as oils for medicinal use. Those interested in growing and using plants for medicinal purposes should carefully research how these substances should be used and in what amounts. Like all medicines, improper use can be dangerous.

  1. Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera is a plant that grows commonly in the southwestern United States. The leaves produce a mucous-like substance that possesses cooling and healing properties. It can be used against sunburn, kitchen burns, and other skin irritations. In a juice form, aloe vera is used against ulcerative colitis, constipation, and other digestive disease
  2. Sage – Sage is a cooking herb as well as a medicinal plant. It was often used to help indigestion, flatulence, depression, and menopausal symptoms.
  3. Peppermint – Besides its delicious smell, peppermint has been in use since ancient times for its medicinal properties. It is used to help upset stomach, spastic colon, and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as to reduce fevers.
  4. Tea Tree – Tea tree oil is used in many over-the-counter medicines and beauty products. It can be used to help acne, athlete’s foot, burns, cold sores, insect bites, and vaginal infections. Tea Tree can also be used against chronic fatigue syndrome.
  5. Ginseng – Ginseng is a plant highly regarded for its medicinal properties. It is used to relax the nervous system, stimulate hormone production, treat insomnia, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and improve general stamina.
  6. Feverfew – Feverfew is a very old medicinal plant that has been used for hundreds of years to treat colds, fevers, and arthritis, as well as for bruises, swollen feet, and to help with migraine headaches.
  7. Fenugreek – The seeds of fenugreek are nutritious and are taken to treat inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It can also be used for the treatment of late onset diabetes, to lower cholesterol levels, to prevent cancer of the liver, and for labor pains.
  8. Evening Primrose – The roots can be eaten and the shoots can be added into a salad. A tea is often made from the roots to treat obesity and bowel pain. Leaves and bark, which are made into evening primrose oil, treat rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, acne, and premenstrual disorders.
  9. Chamomile – Besides being known as a soothing tea, chamomile can be used for a number of ailments, including a cold, diarrhea, earache, toothache, digestive disorders, eczema, and common wounds. 
  10. Echinacea – This lovely flowering plant is known as one of the most important medicinal herbs in any medicinal garden. It can be used to treat wounds, burns, insect bites, and even snakebites. It is also used to strengthen the immune system in fighting allergies.

Precautions When Using Medicinal Plants – Pregnant or nursing women should not use medicinal plants unless under the supervision of their doctors. Always let your physician know what medicinal plants you have been using. If there are any changes in heart rhythm, vision, mental processes, dizziness, itching, rashes, or abnormal bleeding, discontinue use of medicinal plants and consult with your physician.


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Homesteading in the Burbs – My Journey to Resilient Living

March has been an incredibly busy month for me. When my husband and I discussed how to spend our tax refund this year we were unanimous in our decision to spend it on building resilience.   We decided to take the plunge into backyard homesteading.  It’s one thing to store some food as a hedge against rising fuel prices, inflation and emergencies but growing your own is an entirely different ball game and one that requires time, resources, education and commitment.  The crisis this month in Japan, the unrest in the Middle East and the rising cost of fuel have only added to my resolve to take this plunge!

I made my list and drew a diagram of what I planned to do with the backyard to maximize our sunny real estate.  Using the system designed by Patti Moreno, the Garden Girl, I began to build raised beds, a rabbit cage and a chicken tractor.  I purchased my six chicks the first day they were available from the tractor supply store.  My daughters were thrilled with their new pets!  The cages that I built fit neatly inside my raised beds and can be moved around to fertilize my soil between plantings.

Chicken tractor in a garden bed in the garage

Along with the beds, cages and chickens, I purchased four different apple tree varieties to start a small orchard.  I found a small greenhouse at Lowes that worked perfectly for seed starting and we installed three rain barrels on the patio. Then I was off to the nursery to buy soil, compost, manure, peat moss and mulch.  In three weeks I’ve finished all my building projects and have vegetables and fruit growing in 10 of my 18 raised beds.  We also hired a lumberjack to remove some trees and stumps to increase our sun exposure and free up some space for the new orchard.  With the extra wood as a resource, I decided to purchase to fire pit and make wood ash for the garden beds.

Our chickens

Luckily for me, I love this kind of work!  I find it to be therapeutic, calming, noble and meaningful.  I love that the kids are learning right along with me to appreciate God’s creation, to make wonderful things grow out of the earth and to care for animals that will in turn care for us by providing eggs, meat and fertilizer for our garden.  It’s fun to learn which systems work together to sustain life.

My neighbors have gotten involved too, especially their children.  I love having the help turning the compost, watering plants, feeding chickens and clearing the land. It turns out, gardening and chickens are a huge draw for kids. Some of my neighbors are asking for help to design and begin their own gardens.  I’m hoping they follow through.  The more resilient our neighbors are, the better off we’ll all be when hard times come.

Rain Barrels

I’m also inspired by my close friends who are starting their own back yard gardens.  Maybe we can barter and trade.  I’d love to learn from their successes and mistakes too.

I’ve added a few new resources to my indoor resilience supply closet.  I purchased a hand mill  for grinding grains, nuts, seeds and corn. My next experiment will be learning to mill and bake my own organic bread.  I also purchased an excellent water purifier in case we need to drink water from our rain barrels.

Me and my chickens


I never stop learning so here’s my list of books and films for the month:


  1. You Grow Girl, Written and designed by Gayla Trail, the creator of YouGrowGirl.comYou Grow Girl is a hip and humorous how-to for the blossoming generation of crafty gals who want to get their garden on.
  2. The End of Food by Paul Roberts – In this carefully researched, vividly recounted narrative, Roberts lays out the stark economic realities beneath modern food



  1. Gasland – This film is well worth watching!  It was nominated for an Oscar this year.  Don’t miss this one
  2. Flow
  3. Tapped