Pollinator Food

Healthy Eco Lifestyle

Pollinator Garden

A pollinator garden is ideally made up of regional flowering plants from native seeds that help attract and feed pollinators such as butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and other insects and animals.


David Proctor

 Urban Farmer/Rancher

Local Flowering Plants

by David Proctor

May 16, 2024

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly 

I have raised bees for a number of years and one of the things that will make or break you with having success with the bees is their food source.

When bees or other pollinators seek out pollen and nectar, one of the things that will attract them is color.

We all look at and admire the perfect green lawns that are weed-free and mowed to perfection.

Green Lawn
Green Lawn

To a pollinator, all they see is a desert with no food!

I would like to point out some resources that I have found to help our pollinators with natural, regionally grown food sources.

If we help our pollinators survive, they, in turn, will help us survive by pollinating the plants that we need for food.

Flowering Plant

When doing research on this topic, I found the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge website that is promoting just what I want to do.

“The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) is a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other pollinators across America.” 

The site explains how you can participate in this activity and get on their map of gardens across the United States.

Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Registration Map
click on the registration map

Another site; Xerces.org, which I found to be very useful has downloadable PDFs that have lists of local plants for pollinators in the different regions of the US.

Milkweed Seed Finder

Milkweed Seed Finder Click On Image

Once you have downloaded your region, you can see what species of regional plants attract and are beneficial for pollinators. 

There are many beautiful flowering plants to choose from.

Pollinator.org has an app and guide for Canada and the US.  

They are very extensive and tell about most of the local species that can be planted for pollinators.

Plants For Pollinators

Plants For Pollinators

This goes beyond just wanting to have a good food source for my bees. 

If we don’t try to help promote the pollinators in our region, we will have the potential to lose some of our native species and at the least have less productive flowers and plants in our garden. 

When you have a chance to plant, plant food for our pollinators and enjoy the beauty.

Check It Out!

Hues That Attract
Click Image

Quick Tip

-use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources

-provide a water source

-be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks

-create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants

-establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season

eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides and herbicides.


“Million Pollinator Garden Challenge |.” Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2024.

“The Xerces Society » Pollinator-Friendly Plant Lists.” The Xerces Society » Pollinator-Friendly Plant Lists. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2024.

“Pollinator Partnership – Guides.” Pollinator Partnership – Guides. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May. 2024.

Toscano, Kim. “Shrubs and Perennials to Attract Butterflies.” Southern Living Plants, Southern Living Plant Collection, 16 May. 2024, https://southernlivingplants.com/plan-your-garden/shrubs-and-perennials-to-attract-butterflies/.

“Planting Guides.” Pollinator.org, https://www.pollinator.org/guides.16 May. 2024

Posted in Apiary, Homesteading, Magazine Issues, Plants Tagged with: , ,

Whole Birds

Healthy Eco Lifestyle

Cut-Whole Chicken

While attending the intensive seminars at Polyface Farm a few years ago, one of the sessions was on cutting up a whole chicken into parts.  It’s amazing how many people don’t even know how to cut up a chicken.  Today we will go over the process of this seemingly lost skill.


David Proctor

  Urban Farmer/Rancher

 Urban Farmer/Rancher

How To Butcher A Whole Chicken

by David Proctor

May 9, 2024

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly 

When you shop at the grocery store you will see whole chickens, legs and thighs, breast meat, and chicken quarters. 

Not a bad selection, but money can be saved by buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself. 

At Polyface, they resisted for many years, selling cut birds. 

They only sold whole birds. 

They finally gave in to customer demands, but they charge extra for this convenience.

Broiler Shelter With Cornish Cross Chickens
Broiler Shelter With Cornish Cross Chickens

The next step is to remove the chickens from the shelter by grabbing them one at a time and then placing them in the kill cone.

The throats are slit so they can bleed out.

Kill Cone
Kill Cone

Next, the chickens are placed in the scalder.

Chicken Scalder
Chicken Scalder

This allows the feathers to be removed.

Then the chickens go into the plucker.

Feather Plucker
Feather Plucker

From the plucker, the chickens are now ready to be packaged or cut up into parts on the processing table.

Chicken Processing Table
Chicken Processing Table

Daniel Salatin gave a demonstration on cutting up a whole bird into packaging-size quantities.

Daniel’s concern was not the mass production of cutting many birds up into serving sizes but just one bird for your meal.

Butcher Process Demonstration
Butcher Process Demonstration

The principles are the same.

Step 1.
Lay the bird on its back.  Wiggle or pull the wing to determine where the joint attaches to the breast.  To separate the wing from the breast, use a sharp knife to cut through the ball joint where it meets the breast.  Repeat with the other wing.

Step 2.
Pull a leg away from the body to see where it attaches. To remove the whole leg, first cut through the skin between the thigh and the breast.

Step 3.
Continue to pull on the leg and wiggle it a bit to determine where the thigh meets the socket in the back.  Use a boning knife to cut through that joint.  Repeat with the other leg.

Step 4.
Place each leg skin-side down.  Flex to see where the ball joint between the drumstick and thigh is located.  Look for the thin line of fat that was perpendicular to the body.  Cut through the line of fat to separate the thigh and drumstick, wiggling or put tension to find where the joint is.  Repeat with the other leg.

Step 5.
To remove the backbone, start at the head end of the bird and cut through the rib cage on the one side of the backbone with kitchen shears or a sharp knife.  Repeat on the other side of the backbone to remove it completely.

Step 6.
To cut the breast into 2 halves, place it skin-side down, exposing the breastbone.  Use a lot of pressure to cut through the breast bone, right down the center of the breast. Now you have two breast halves.

Chicken Parts
Chicken Parts

You now have eight pieces of chicken. 

You can use the parts for stock, stews, frying, grilling, or baking. 

Plus you have saved money and have the desired cuts of meat that you want.

Check It Out!

Gordon Ramsay: How to Part a Chicken 3:28

Quick Tip

A boning knife or pairing knife will give more mobility than a chef’s knife or cleaver.

Gordon Ramsay uses both Wüsthof and Henckels branded knives; his list of essential knives is; Chef’s knife for chopping. 

Paring knife for peeling cutting small vegetables and fruit. 

Boning knife with a somewhat flexible blade to cut around meat and bone.

Whole Chicken Parts
Whole Chicken Parts


Roszmann Updated February 21, Rachel, and Rachel Roszmann. “How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken.” EatingWell, 9 May 2024, www.eatingwell.com/article/15522/how-to-cut-up-a-whole-chicken/.

Siracusa, John. “Gordon Ramsay Knife – What Knives Does He Use? (2020).” Hell’s Kitchen, Hell’s Kitchen, 9 May 2024, hellskitchenrecipes.com/gordon-ramsay-knives/.

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Chickens, Health, Homesteading, Magazine Issues, Recipes Tagged with: ,

Coconut Oil

Healthy Eco Lifestyle

Coconut Oil Benefits

Coconut oil is one of the most convenient, versatile products to have in your house. Whether you’re eating it or making it into a hand cream, this stuff works.


David Proctor

Benefits of Coconut Oil

by Kelsey Proctor

May 2, 2024

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

Coconut oil is one of the most convenient, versatile products to have in your house.

Whether you’re eating it or making it into a hand cream, this stuff works.

I invite you to read further and see how coconut oil can be a healthy addition to your diet, but also a lifesaver to have around the house.

Coconut Palm Tree
Coconut Palm Tree

Up until the past decade, healthy and coconut oil were not used in the same sentence.

This versatile oil was thought of as only a saturated fat no-no.

How wrong we were!

Now the buzz is all about how this healthy fat can be used in cooking, beauty products, cleaning products, and more.

Coconut oil has hundreds of uses outside of just cooking.


First off: how is this new superfood healthy to consume?

Coconut oil is almost 90 percent saturated fat; however, that fat is mostly lauric acid.

Lauric acid consists of medium-chain triglycerides (an MCT) which are metabolized easier than longer chains found in meat and dairy products.

This metabolism boost means instant energy, and can actually help you lose weight.

As a point of reference, Bruce Fife (C.N., N.D.), author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, recommends consuming 1-3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily.

Coconut oil is a healthy fat, but is high in calories (about 117 a tablespoon) so consider your diet and lifestyle when deciding what the right amount is for you.

So, now that you know how great coconut oil is for your diet, there are a few things to look for when buying your first jar.

In my fridge, I have a jar of Simply Nature Organic Coconut Oil I grabbed from the grocery store for about $16.99.

Coconut Oil

See below for more benefits!

Check It Out!

Now the fun part: ways to use coconut oil outside of just cooking!

Coconut Oil Face Mask
Coconut Oil Face Mask
Top 3 Benefits and Uses Of Coconut Oil – Dr. Berg 3:13

Quick Tip

The Top Three things to look for when buying coconut oil:

  1. Unrefined – this means there hasn’t been any bleaching or stripping that would compromise the oil’s health benefits.
  2. Virgin (tip: unlike with olive oil, you’re not going to find a discernible difference between “virgin” and extra virgin”).
  3. Good price! There’s no reason to drop tons of dough on coconut oil anymore. It’s become such a frequently bought product that you can purchase a 14 oz jar for anywhere from $15-$20 depending on the brand and your area. My 14oz jar will last me all winter!


How much coconut oil per day?. (2024, May 2). Retrieved from

Kadey, M. (2024, May 2). Everything you need to know about coconut oil. Retrieved from http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/everything-you-need-know-about-coconut-oil

Michaelis, K. (2024, May 2). How to choose a good coconut oil. Retrieved from http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-choose-a-good-coconut-oil/

image Coconut Palm Tree by:
Photo by Oliver Sjöström: https://www.pexels.com/photo/coconut-tree-under-gray-sky-1122409/  (2024, May 2)

Posted in Health, Homesteading, Plants Tagged with: , , , ,

Grow In Soil

Healthy Eco Lifestyle

Is Hydroponic Organic?

The debate continues on whether fruits or vegetables grown hydroponically instead of in soil, should be allowed the organic label. The USDA says yes!


David Proctor

 Urban Farmer/Rancher

 Urban Farmer/Rancher

Is Hydroponically Grown, Organic?

by David Proctor

April 25, 2024

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

The occupations of many small farmers rely on being able to get a higher price for a superior product.

Hydroponics is a system that allows plant nutrients to be accessed by the plant through the water that the plant is in.

No soil is involved with the transition of nutrients to the plant. 

It is a very effective system, uses less water than soil-based agriculture, and allows plants to be grown inside without requiring a lot of land, without most pests and competing weeds.

Hydroponics In A Shipping Container

Hydroponics In A Shipping Container

I really enjoy having fruit and vegetables that are out of season but I do not think that substantially more should be paid for a product that doesn’t live up to the same quality as organic.

You have to keep in mind that a hydroponic system feeds the plant. 

Organic feeds the soil that feeds the plant.

I never really thought too much about whether hydroponically grown fruit or vegetables was organic or not. 

Until I started patronizing the organic aisle and paying a premium for the produce, meat, and dairy. 

You think you are getting a product that is either grown in the soil or is eating what has been grown in the soil organically.

Grown In Soil
Grown In Soil

So, what is organic, and who puts that label on things that we pay more for? 

Organic labels are placed by inspectors who are controlled by the USDA National Organics Program (NOP), United States Department of Agriculture. 

The USDA takes into account guidelines established by the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB).

In 1995 Organic was defined by the NOSB as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony”

Soilless environments weren’t really being considered organic nor did the rest of the world consider hydroponics as organic.

Everything went along well until the popularity of eating healthy and eating organic started to take off.

When money is involved, things start to change quickly. 

Other countries started to export their products to the US since they could get a better price with their hydroponically grown produce and be able to use the organic label that other countries would not allow

Mexico, Canada, and Holland all export tomatoes, peppers, berries, lettuce, and other fruits and vegetables as organic into this country, but can’t sell as organic in their own country, because they are hydroponically grown!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike hydroponics, it has its place. 

Hydroponics was the key element in my farm plan to feed my animals. 

But I never considered that I would call that organic. 

How often do you see in the organic aisle the label hydroponically grown organic? 

I am not against the hydroponic industry nor am I here to demonize the hydroponic growers. 

The problem is the USDA has not lived up to maintaining the standards of organic and has been allowing these growers to be certified because of money and influence.

Hydroponic Oats

Hydroponic Oats

In fact, I have used a hydroponics system for growing my jalapeno plants. 

As I said before, do we feed the plant or feed the soil

The most natural way and healthiest way is to feed the soil that feeds the plant

If you think that soil is inert and is just there to support the plant, till we feed it with Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, then you may not get this article at all or wonder what the big deal is!

The true test is in your taste buds. 

During the seasonal time of year for locally grown fruits and vegetables, try tasting a true organic against a hydroponically grown one and see if you can tell any difference.

Fruit & Vegetables
Fruit & Vegetables

How many wines have you bought that said they were made from grapes grown hydroponically?

Samuel Adams advertises that they make their beer from hops that are grown at one location in Germany.

The soil on this farm provides the taste that is found with the Hallertau Mittlefruh hop.

The debate goes on.

If you want a say in it, I would normally say you can vote with your dollars, but if you don’t know what you’re buying because the labels don’t tell you what you are really purchasing then that process is hardly effective.

In the market, a new label has gone on products that meet the true and original concept of “Organic”, started by the Real Organic Project.

RealOrganic Project

This is placed on organic products that meet the criteria or Real Organic.

Check It Out!

Quick Tip


Dixon, Linley, Ph.D. “Is Hydroponics Organic?” Cornucopia Institute. N.p., 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 April 2024.

“Should You Buy Hydroponic Vegetables?” Rodale’s Organic Life. N.p., 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 April 2024.

“Keep-soil-in-organic.” Keep-soil-in-organic. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 April 2024.

Damrosch, Barbara. N.p., 25 April 2024. Web.

“Green City Growers Main Navigation.” Green City Growers. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 April 2024.

Dykstra, Jim. “Hallertau: Hop Nobility and Its Bostonian Knight.” The Beer Connoisseur, The Beer Connoisseur, 3 Aug. 2015, beerconnoisseur.com/articles/hallertau-hop-nobility-and-its-bostonian-knight. Web 25 April 2024

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Homesteading, Magazine Issues, Plants Tagged with: , ,

DE Pest Control

Healthy Eco Lifestyle

Natural Pest Control

Get rid of fleas, ticks, bedbugs, ants, and any exoskeleton insect naturally with 100% food-grade diatomaceous earth.


David Proctor

  Urban Farmer/Rancher

 Urban Farmer/Rancher

Diatomaceous Earth For Pest Control

by David Proctor

April 18, 2024

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly

What is diatomaceous earth or DE? 

“Diatomaceous earth is a soft, powdery, porous, and silica-rich mineral that is found in fossilized deposits near dried-up bodies of water.  

This mineral is the result of the accumulation of dead diatoms found in marine sediments, which contain the remains of silica.”

Diatomaceous Earth

I have found that quite a few people take the 100% food grade internally and according to Dr. Axe has these benefits:

  • Detoxify the body by cleansing the digestive tract, boosting liver function, helping eliminate heavy metals in the body such as aluminum, and acting as a detoxifier for the blood since it carries a negative charge that attaches to free radicals and other harmful toxins.
  • Helps purify water by killing viruses and filtering out heavy metals
  • Fights parasites by adding to the feed given to pets and farm animals.
  • It can be used as a natural insecticide since it absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, which causes them to dehydrate and die.  DE can be used to eliminate bed bugs, house dust mites, cockroaches, ants, and fleas, without the use of toxic chemicals.
  • Beneficial for joints and bones and can help prevent low bone mass.
  • It helps clean and protect skin, nails, and teeth.
  • The use that I thought was interesting was for ants and fleas.  These are two very hardy insects and hard to get rid of once they make their way into your home.

Diatomaceous earth is a really inexpensive way to control external and internal parasites in your dog and cat.

The microscopically sharp edges contact the insect or parasite and pierce their protective coating, so they soon dehydrate and die.  

The larvae are affected in the same way.

But DE is completely harmless to animals.

The only thing that you should be very careful about is not inhaling a lot into your lungs.  

It is easy to do, so if need be, wear a mask if you think you might inhale a lot while working with your pet.

DE can be placed on your pet, cat, or dog and the powder rubbed through the fur to the skin.

When the fleas come in contact with the DE, it will help eliminate them.  

I would really like to try this out on chickens.  

It appears that DE can really help chickens with egg production.

The Food and Drug Administration lists Food Grade diatomaceous earth as “Generally Recognized as Safe”, which means it’s legally allowed to be added to many different types of foods, beverages, and supplements.

How To Use DE

In summary, it is my belief that Diatomaceous Earth can be a very useful product for eliminating pests naturally and safely.

Check It Out!

Natural Flea Control? 8:04
Veterinary Secrets

Quick Tip


“The Most Versatile Detoxifier Around.” Dr. Axe. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 April 2024.

“Before You Go…” DiatomaceousEarth.com Official Site to Learn About Diatomaceous Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 April 2024

Winger, Jill “How to Use Diatomaceous Earth.” The Prairie Homestead. N.p., 26 Sept. 2016. Web.18 April 2024

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Health, Homesteading, Magazine Issues Tagged with: , ,

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