Old -Time Pennsylvania German Homestead Superstitions

Holstein Calf

Every once in a while I’ll run across a Pennsylvania folk belief that is taken as more than just a custom or superstition. The two that I hear most often are:   Keep a smelly Billy goat with your cows and they’ll never get sick.   Cure a scouring calf by feeding it a whole…

Forced Branches

Forsythia Branches That Have Been Forced

Every season I try to have a little bit of nature indoors. During the snowy winter months my favorite bits of the outside world are flowering branches that lie dormant. Forsythia, apple, peach and pussy willow are in my garden and orchard so those are the branches I use for forcing. The flower buds on…

Pick The Best Day For Hatching Eggs

Hatched Chick

I’m a great believer in agricultural traditions and folk wisdom. That’s because much of what I learned about homesteading was passed onto me by the two generations of garden farmers that came before me. Heeding their advice enabled much success and fewer homesteading failures. One bit of advice that was given to me by those…

Spinach Pies

Spinach Pie

Spinach pies are one of my favorite ways to use fresh spinach. In fact I never met a spinach pie that I didn’t like. With the usually cool wet spring we’re having here in the US this year, we may be looking at a bonanza spinach crop in home gardens all across America. The recipe…

A Beginner’s Guide To Fruit Tree Grafting

Cambium Layers Of An Apple Scion

Grafting is a basic homestead skill that’s easy to learn. If you don’t already know, most modern apple and other fruit trees; as well as some grapes, are grown from two parts: a “root stock” and a “scion”. For the purpose of this discussion we’ll refer to all hand-grafted plants as “trees”. The root stock…

Why A Canning Jar Will Break During Canning

Broken Canning Jar

  Last week I had a canning jar break in my pressure canner while I was canning bone-in chicken. Sometimes you can hear a jar break in the canner during processing and sometimes you can’t. Often when you’re not expecting it, a bad surprise and a big mess is in store for you when the…