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The Essential Book of Homesteading


 

QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Villagers Urban Homesteading Suppply (+ discount!)

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There are spaces in communities that are so very much more than physical structures. While they’re housed in an actual brick-and-mortar building, their reach extends far beyond the front door. They become ambassadors, either deliberately or by default, for a space and a place and a people. Villagers Urban Homesteading Supply is such a place.

Located in west Asheville, NC, Natalie Pollard’s store sells chicken feed and yogurt cultures and organic cucumber seeds, but it also is a community hub of ideas, inspiration, and creativity. Offering an ongoing, ever-changing roster of classes (I’ve taught canning, backyard chickens, homemade beverage, and home dairy sessions there, and attended MANY topics taught by others), Villagers has become a place to pick up items you might need for your home or garden while also learning about herbs for stress management, how to properly prune fruit trees, the in’s and out’s of wooden spoon carving, and what’s going on in the neighborhood and greater Asheville community in general. It possesses what I’ve come to see as invisible underground networks, similar to the way mycelium send out thousands of miles of subterranean roots in forests, connecting life and sending messages in a silent, sentient postal service, of sorts.

In addition to being a beautiful space in Asheville, expertly stocked with handcrafted items to help you around the home and garden, Villagers offers an online store, for those desirous of such items but who don’t live in the area. A few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d like to review some items, in an effort to bring attention to the availability of the online store. As it turns out, I already own many of the items available, having bought them at Villagers myself! I selected six items that I keep in regular use, and would like to share them with you here today.

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I am an avid sweeper. Which is to say, that I truly, genuinely enjoy sweeping (full disclosure: I actually enjoy all forms of housecleaning/housekeeping; must be genetic, as my Pops is the same way). I have a corn bristle broom that I purchased at Town Hardware & General Store in Black Mountain, and use it to sweep my home, especially my kitchen, at least twice a day (when you live in the woods, with two large dogs, two indoor/outdoor cats, an active 5 year-old, and a spouse frequently engaged in outdoor tasks, you sweep. A lot.) After the sweeping is done, I reach for this dustpan and brush combo. A stainless steel dustpan is partnered with a magnet for its matching hand brush made from 100% pure light horse hair. Both have oiled beechwood handles and are handmade in Germany. Functional and beautiful make this duo a clear winner in my home. I’ve used it every day for nearly a year now, and it shows nearly no wear.

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I was first introduced to Womanswork gloves several years ago, when owner Dorian Winslow wrote me directly, asking if she could send me a review pair. Every morning, I put them on and head out to the chicken coop. When I stack or bring in firewood, I put them on. When I work in the garden, I put them on. When I do pretty much any outdoor task here in the cove now, I put them on. You see where I’m going with this, right? They are true workhorses, and I can’t stress enough just how much I’ve come to rely on them (and this endorsement comes to you from a formerly avowed non glove-weaver). Crafted of form-fitting, buttery soft goatskin leather with pale gray suede split cowhide leather on the cuff, these gloves are heirloom worthy. When they need a bit of sprucing up, just hand wash them in cool water and air dry. Please note these are sized just for women’s hands (men’s offerings are also available).

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I really, truly loathe waste. I make every attempt to reduce, reuse, and recycle in a nearly evangelical attempt at eliminating trash in our home. That’s why I love Bee’s Wrap so much. Crafted from organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin, Bee’s Wrap is the most wonderful alternative to plastic wrap. Use it to cover bread, cheese, vegetables, sandwiches, pie dough-nearly anything you’d use disposable plastic wrap for you can substitute with this reusable wrap (except for meat).  I’ve used Bee’s Wrap for everything listed above and so much more. I gave up buying plastic wrap year’s ago, opting instead to store things in lidded glass containers. This wrap, though, makes my work considerably easier, as the warmth from my hands causes it to conform its shape to that which it’s being wrapped around, offering up lots more shelf space in the fridge. Bee’s Wrap lasts for about a year, and can then be composed. THE! BEST!

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I am a pretty diehard Rosemary Gladstar fan, and have been so for nearly two decades. The wise woman from Vermont has helped me out on numerous occasions with her sage, seasoned advice for herbal self and family care (see what I did there?!). Her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health is my go-to these days when I’m on the hunt for expert herbal advice for myself, Glenn, or Huxley. There are herbal remedies for children, men, women, the elderly, everyday ailments, body care, stress & anxiety, and more in its pages. Her fire cider recipe is the basis of my own, as is her elderberry syrup. I cannot recommend this book enough (or any of her books, truly). Indispensable wisdom for those seeking to take the reigns of their health and wellness.

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Our home is only about 10 miles from downtown Asheville, but with curvy mountain roads, traffic, and well, let’s be honest, oftentimes slow Southern drivers (I like to say they’re on “molasses time”), it can take upwards of 20-25 minutes to get into town these days. Although the filters I was using for our Chemex pour-over were compostable, I still had to drive into town to purchase them, and put down around $8-9/box. These Cuppow reusable, certified organic cotton coffee cones, or “socks,” have saved me both time and money since I picked them up at Villagers. They come in packs of two and work equally well in pour-over or machine use. Empty out the grinds (I put them into the compost), give the cone a rinse, hang it up to air dry, and then use it in your next morning’s cuppa. Win win.

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Like I said, I wear my Womanswork gloves for most outdoor activity. But not for all of it. And Huxley and Glenn don’t wear any gloves, unless it’s snowing/snowy outside or Glenn is working with the firewood. Suffice to say, with all the digging and tossing and playing and lifting and scooping and tugging that we three do outside, our fingernails can get a bit, er, well, less than super buff and luxe, let’s just say. Enter this sturdy, handsome little tool. Handmade of oiled thermowood, this nail brush lives on our kitchen sink counter. I’ve had it for nearly a year, and it’s just as ship shape and fine looking as the day I brought it home from Villagers. It does a serious job of getting the space under our collective fingernails back in shape. If you’ve a need for nail-cleaning in your home, this is the brush for you.

If you live near Asheville, do check out Villagers in person. Otherwise, check them out digitally. Natalie is graciously offering small measure readers a 20% off discount for online purchases. Just enter “QUENCH20” at check out. The offer will run for two weeks, through April 13th. Small businesses matter, friends. So much more than just a quaint notion, they truly are the lifeblood of communities. Villagers exemplifies the power of local businesses in a profound and abiding way, and I for one am deeply grateful for their presence, in the flesh and on the interwebs. Check ’em out, and tell Natalie & Co. I said “Hi!”

*All images taken from Villagers website. 

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