The Natural Living Site

Simple, Self-Reliant, Sustainable Living

Category: Homesteading (page 1 of 10)

4 Easy to Grow Culinary Herbs Ideal for Small Spaces

basil image


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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Fresh herbs are a great way to bring the flavors of your meals to life.  Buying fresh herbs at the grocery store can be expensive though, and when I’m looking for a particular herb, they are always sold out or not in season.  I love using dried herbs too, but there are just some recipes where only fresh herbs will do. Continue reading

Grow More Vegetables in Less Space with Succession Planting

lettuce garden


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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Did you know that you can grow more vegetables throughout the season, even if all you have is a small corner in your yard? You can get the most use out of small spaces by using the succession planting method. Continue reading

What’s the Difference Between a Kitchen Garden and a Regular Vegetable Garden?



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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Do you know what the difference is between a “kitchen garden” and a regular vegetable garden?

Kitchen gardens, or potagers (pronounced puh-ta-zhay), are edible gardens that have a rich history going back to French and old English gardens.  Kitchen gardens are planted with herbs, edible flowers, fruits and vegetables that are tucked right outside the back door for ease of gathering while you are cooking. Continue reading

3 Gardening Tips You Need To Know

sugar snap peas on trellis photo by Doug Beckers

sugar snap peas on trellis photo by Doug Beckers


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© 2014 Shanna Lea

I think the best thing about summer is biting into a fresh picked tomato, still warm from the sun.  I love the taste of the juice bursting in my mouth from that first bite.  By growing your own garden, you can experience this little piece of heaven all summer long.

However, to harvest an abundance of veggies year after year, it takes practice.  To become successful consistently, you need hands-on experience.  Here are 3 tips from gardening pros that have shared what you need to know. Continue reading

Learn Survival Skills at the Online Survival Summit

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© 2013 Shanna Lea

On Monday, January 20th, an online event called  The Survival Summit’, will be available for you to watch.  This FREE five-day online training event will feature 25 of the world’s experts on Survival and Self Reliance, teaching online classes on topics you need to know to survive disasters by planning ahead and learning specific skills.

Here is just a sample of what you will learn:

  • Develop a STRONG detailed Plan for Property Security and Threat Planning, water, energy and fuel systems and Self-Reliant Food production and storage
  • Train your mind to think clearly in an emergency situation
  • How to grow food, even in an arid climate
  • Off-grid cooking without power
  • How to survive a nuclear event
  • How to set up your property for off-grid water and energy
  • Protect your crops from pests by learning trapping secrets
  • How to make your own bio-diesel fuels
  • How to protect your loved ones in an emergency
  • How to preserve food when your stove and freezer stops working
  • Native American techniques for preserving meat in the winter
  • How to forage for food and medicinal plants in a city
  • Herbal remedies and off-grid medical knowledge for emergencies and traumatic injuries
  • Top 5 Bug Out Mistakes
  • Alternative Dentistry
  • Composting
  • How to build and use a root cellar

There will be 25 of the top experts in the field presenting at this 5-day online event, running January 20-26, 2014.  But only those that register now will have access to it.  Click here to learn more and be sure to register after watching the video.



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Folks This Ain’t Normal – Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin from Folks This Ain’t Normal

Joel Salatin from Folks This Ain’t Normal


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Joel Salatin is a third generation farmer and author who runs Polyface Farm in Virginia and has been an outspoken pioneer in sustainable farming.

Joel raises pastured beef, pork, poultry and rabbits and supplies 4,000 families, 40 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets with quality organic food.

He is a prolific author and his farm has been featured in Michael Pollan’s book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the food documentary “Food Inc”.

In his book “Folks, This Ain’t Normal”, he lays it out on the table like it is in our modern era of consumption.   Ours is the first culture in history to have stepped so far away from what is normal that we don’t even know what “normal” is anymore.

A pioneer who is inspiring and motivating people from all over to recapture the relationship with our food that we have lost, he shows us working solutions from his farm.

Watch the talk he gives in the video below and be inspired to take the steps needed to bring normalcy back to our future generations.  This is his keynote address at the 2nd annual Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS 12).

Grab your organic non-GMO real buttered popcorn and a comfy spot, this video is an hour and 36 minutes.

AHS 12 Joel Salatin—Folks This Ain’t Normal!



Folks This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

Omnivore’s Delight by Michael Pollan

Food Inc



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American Meat—Taking a Look at Sustainable Farming in America

Joel Salatin from American Meat documentary film

Joel Salatin from American Meat documentary film


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

A new food documentary is out called “American Meat:  Our Meat is Changing For Good”.  Featuring Joel Salatin, Chuck Wirtz, Fred Kirschenmann, Steve Ells, Paul Willis and other farmers across the United States, this documentary takes a look at animal husbandry, what it is, how we got here, and how we can change the system.

It begins with how we arrived at our current state with the industrial system and then shifts into the grass roots revolution that is changing the way we raise our food.  It’s a film of stories from farmers across the country who have changed their lives and careers to start grass-based farming systems to bring us better food while doing what is best for the animals.

A fresh change from other documentaries which focused on the bad side of food, this is one of the most balanced and objective documentaries about food so far.  With a focus on cows, pigs and chickens, it offers new solutions for old problems and how we can be more successful at raising animals on pasture and making it more affordable for consumers.

Take a look at the trailer below, and if you are interested click here to purchase American Meat documentary.

American Meat


What Can You Do?

Grow and raise your own food, buy from sustainable sources and support your small family farms.  Know your farmer!

Here are additional resources:

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Farmer’s Markets  –   national listing of farmer’s markets

Local Harvest – listing of farmer’s markets, family farms, produce, grass-fed meats etc.

Eat Well Guide:  Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals – directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and online sources in the United States and Canada

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture ( CISA) –  CISA is dedicated to sustainable agriculture and promotes products from small farms

Food Routes – provides a map to “Find Good Food”—farmers, CSA’s, markets

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

American Meat Documentary




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Christmas and Yule Gifts for Homesteading and Self-Reliance

homestead cabin Christmas image by Rebecca Proch

homestead cabin Christmas image by Rebecca Proch


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Christmas and Yule are great times to give gifts for homesteaders that will be appreciated and used all year ‘round.  Any tool or new skill that can be learned is essential for leading a self-reliant lifestyle, especially in our world today with our economy.  Always invest in the best tools you can afford, because it is really more cost effective to have quality tools than cheap, poorly made ones, especially where safety is a concern.

There are endless ideas for gifts for homesteaders.  Anything for the barn or the workshop is always welcomed and appreciated.  Bridles, milking pails, tools, saws, books, solar and wind energy products are good starts.  For others, building new skill sets are a dream come true—learning to spin wool, or weave, quilting, sewing or crochet.  Woodcarving, metal working, blacksmithing and leatherwork are more skills that are fun to learn and sometimes essential for self-reliance.

And, there are gifts of yourself to give—like homemade coupons to give for doing a chore for your loved one.  It could be for weeding, cleaning the chicken coop, taking care of the animal chores, like milking, or bringing in the firewood.  Print up a handmade coupon and give with a mug of tea or cocoa.

Or, give to a family in need.  Through Heifer International you can give a goat, cow, chickens and endless other gifts to families who cannot afford them but desperately need them for survival.

Check out the list below for other gifts for homesteaders and surprise the special people in your life with a gift they will use all year.

Make or Buy a Solar Oven

Cooking with the Sun:  How to Build and Use Solar Cookers

All American Sun Oven—World’s Best Solar Oven

Foxfire Complete Collection Book Set—Books 1-12

Buy the entire set or individually.  Subjects range from hog dressing, mountain crafts and foods, hide tanning, wild plant foods, blacksmithing, flintlock rifles, spinning and weaving, and much more.  A favorite collection for many homesteaders for how things used to be done.

Wood Burning Stove

Vogelzang TR008 Durango EPA Wood Stove

Solar Charger for Phones and Tablets

Portable Solar Charger—StrongVolt SOLAR:10

Charges iPhones, Androids, Tablets, eReaders

Power and Hand Tools and Technical Books

Stanley 65 Piece General Homeowner’s Tool Set

For Her—Apollo Precision Tools 39 Piece Pink General Tool Set

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool

Seville Classics UltraHD Lighted Workbench

Dewalt 8Amp 3/8Inch Mid-Handle Grip Drill Kit with Keyless Chuck

SKIL 7.2 Volt Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver

Dewalt 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw

Dewalt Bare-Tool 6 1/2Inch 18 Volt Cordless Circular Saw

Dewalt DWE575SB 7 ¼ Inch Lightweight Circular Saw with Electric Brake

For the Milking Parlor/Barn

Kuchenprofi 18/10 Stainless Steel Funnel with Filter  –use for straining milk, grease… etc

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats

The Family Cow

Indipets Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Pail—for milking

For the Garden

Worm Factory 360 Worm Composter

Beehive Mann Lake 10 Frame Traditional Basic Starter Kit

Honey Extractor–  Mann Lake 2 Frame Plastic Extractor

The Beekeeper’s Bible:  Bees, Honey, Recipes and Other Home Uses

Living Wall Planter by Woolly Pocket

The Garden Tower:  The Composting 50 Plant Organic Container Garden

Algreen 34002 Garden View Vertical Living Wall Planter

Last Thoughts

Other ideas include making up a medicinal/first aid or emergency preparedness goodie basket.   Or knitting/crochet /quilting or other crafting lessons—these always come in handy on a homestead.  A membership to local CSA or farmers markets and conference tickets to meet a favorite guru in the natural living movement, perhaps like Joel Salatin.

Gift cards to hardware stores or farm and ranch supply stores are always appreciated.  And if that special someone knows how to do a skill or is passionate about food, homesteading or gardening, help them get started with a website so they can share their knowledge with others, teaching these core values to future generations.

Be sure to check out The Natural Living Site’s Resource Page for more products.

And remember  –Amazon has coupons!  Be sure to check for a coupon for your wished for items while visiting the site.



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SEED: The Untold Story Video Trailer

SEED:  The Untold Story

SEED: The Untold Story


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© 2013 Shanna Lea

Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz are producing a new documentary coming out in 2014 called SEED:  The Untold Story.  This may be one of the most important films made.

In the past 100 years we have lost 94% percent of our seed diversity.

Think about that.  That is a huge loss of diverse foods that our ancestors ate.

This feature-length documentary brings us the story of seed through our 12,000-year relationship with seeds.  Many of these irreplaceable seeds are near extinction and we are in a huge battle for their future—which is our future.


“If you want to control a country, control the oil.  If you want to control the people, control the food.” 

~ ~ ~ Henry Kissinger


 “If you want to control the food, control the seed.” 

~ ~ ~ Dr. Vandana Shiva



This film takes on a journey to “doomsday” seed vaults, we meet seed savers and indigenous tribes—all who are striving to protect seeds.  Watch the movie trailer below for a preview of what will be in the film.


SEED:  The Untold Story


Click here to go to SEED: The Untold Story’s Website



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Living in the Wilderness at 93 Years Old–Could You?

Jack English image from Vimeo

Jack English image from Vimeo


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© 2013 Shanna Lea




I just recently came across this video about 93-year-old Jack English who has been living in the cabin he built himself several miles off the road.  If you have always wanted to live way out and homestead, take heart.  Hold onto your dream and you just never know.. for Jack it came late in life before he was able to live his dream.  Watch the video below to learn more about him.




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