Featuring speakers from around the Midwest, the Mid-America Homesteading Conference will be held September 1 at Joliet Junior College. Participants will have a choice of three topics in each of the six, hour-long sessions presented throughout the day, including those appropriate for people who live in the city, suburbs, or country.
“There has been a huge increase in people’s desire to become more self-reliant in the past few years,” said conference organizer Deborah Niemann, author of Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living. “And you don’t have to live in the country to become self sufficient. I know people in Chicago, the suburbs, and small towns who are keeping chickens, beekeeping, composting, gardening, canning, and even keeping small goats to produce their own dairy products.”
The conference is being held in September to coincide with International Homesteading Education Month, which was designated by Mother Earth News magazine. Two years ago the magazine held its first such conference in Pennsylvania, which attracted 12,000 attendees. The Joliet conference has a maximum attendance of 90.
“One of the things I kept seeing on the Mother Earth News Facebook page was people requesting similar events in other parts of the country, which is why the magazine declared September as Homesteading Education Month – to encourage others to repeat what they’re doing,” Niemann said, “and after speaking at those events for the past two years, I decided to coordinate one in Illinois.”
Sessions will cover backyard poultry, fencing, raising pastured pork, grass-fed beef and dairy, creating your own dairy products, making herbal tinctures, selling products at a farmer’s market, gardening, composting, canning, solar power for homeowners, and beekeeping, including a session devoted to the special needs of urban beekeepers.
There will also be a two-hour session on FAMACHA, which will be especially interesting to anyone who raises sheep or goats. The barberpole worm is the number one killer of sheep and goats. Unfortunately, past recommendations of deworming protocols have led to worms that are resistant to available dewormers. The FAMACHA© system provides a tool to identify anemic animals (assumed to be caused by the barberpole worm), so only affected animals are treated. This will reduce the number of dewormer treatments given and slow the development of resistance in the parasite. During the class, attendees will learn about the barberpole worm biology and the development of drug resistance, Smart Drenching, and use of the FAMACHA card. The training will be provided by Andrew and Jennifer Miller, DVM.
Other speakers will include Donna O’Shaughnessy of South Pork Ranch in Chatsworth, Cathy Lafrenz of Miss Effie’s Country Flowers and Garden Stuff in Iowa, Susan Saniie of Dayempur Herbals, beekeeper Tanja Deshida of Chicago, and certified grassland specialist Richard G. Hungerford, Jr., as well as Niemann, whose second book, EcoThrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life, will come out this fall.
For more information, visit www.homesteadingconference.com