About Common Sense Homesteading


About Common Sense Homesteading

Common Sense Homesteading is about using sound judgment to be more self-reliant.  It means doing what you can, where you are, with what you have.

We’ll cover topics such as:

  • Gardening
  • Food Storage
  • Preparedness
  • Natural Health (including our first e-book, Common Sense Health)
  • Herbalism
  • Wildcrafting (Using wild plants for food and medicine)
  • Home Remedies
  • “Getting Started” with Homesteading Basics, such as chickens
  • Green Home Building and Remodeling
  • Book and Product Reviews
  • Recipes and much more

Being self-reliant isn’t about trying to tackle everything on your own, it’s about building community and helping out each other.  I look forward to growing and learning with you!

Laurie Neverman
The Common Sense Woman


Contact Us

You can reach us via email at laurie at commonsensehome dot com.


Baby Laurie

Me (Laurie), around age one, toddling around the garden.

I was raised on a Northwest Wisconsin dairy farm where frugality and providing food for the family were a way a life. My mom was a great inspiration to me. She always cooked and baked from scratch, gardened extensively, and kept the pantry well-stocked with home preserved foods.

I earned my BS in Mathematics at UW Superior, and attended graduate school at UW Madison, where I studied renewable energy. After graduation, I moved to Green Bay, married my college sweetheart, August, and began work at Public Energy Systems (PES).

PES provided repair and installation of solar hot water and solar heating systems for homes and businesses, and operated the world’s largest flat plate collector solar thermal array. Unfortunately, circumstances change, natural gas was cheap for a time, and the giant collector array was torn down. At this point I was also expecting my first child, and so I came home to be a full-time mom. Baby one was followed by baby two, my beautiful boys, August and Duncan, whom I now homeschool.

We spent nine years in the suburbs of Green Bay where we cultivated large vegetable and flower gardens as well as fruits and culinary herbs. The boys were able to graze their way around the yard.

Common Sense Home

In 2005, we relocated to 35 acres in Kewaunee County, where we designed and built our Wisconsin Green Built and Energy Star certified home. The home has an array of “green” features, including:

  • Solar Water Heating and Passive Solar Design
  • Insulated Concrete Form construction
  • An Attached Greenhouse
  • A Root Cellar
  • Handicap Accessibility
  • Environmentally Friendly Materials

Our large organic gardens contain over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, most of which are heirlooms. We freeze, water bath can, pressure can, dry, and ferment to preserve food, and use the root cellar, cool storage, cold frames, and green house to extend the harvest without additional energy inputs. I am also interested in natural health and wellness, including herbalism, wildcrafting, homebrew probiotics and ferments.  When I’m not busy with all of that, I enjoy ancient history, science fiction and the LOTR trilogy. (Best movies ever!)  I never want to stop learning.

Like many people, we went through some ups and downs when the economy tanked. My husband is now working two hours away, and I say a little prayer each day that he can find a job closer to home soon.


August and Laurie at the October 2012 Open House

I have written for a number of local and national publications including Taste of Home and Countryside magazine, The Healthy Independent and Healthy Thoughts.


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  66 Responses to “About Common Sense Homesteading”

  1. was wondering if you have a newsletter I can sign up for? or if there was some way I could stay connected to your website…etc…so enjoyed looking around….Thank-you…

  2. LaLonnie – I think I’ve got the rss feed transferred and updated. Hopefully this will work! So much to learn on WordPress. just switched over from blogger this week.

    • Just purchased a little over a quarter section out here in Canada. Getting ready to retire after many years of saving for our little ranch. Chickens are the first on our list so really enjoyed your chicken information. Next is trying to get something in around our barns to get the knee deep grass down. Any suggestions?

      • How thick/tall is it? Heavy duty weed whacker or possibly rent a brush hog may be a good fit to take it down initially. My brother lays down tarp for a year to smother patches for starting garden beds. Flame weeders are sometimes useful, but not so good close to buildings.

  3. Nice job on the new blog! Looking forward to learning more from you in 2012. xo, Annette

  4. Hi Annette! Thanks. Lots done, lots more to do. :-)

  5. whoa, so inspired to find your site today — a friend posted on facebook an article about putting up food. my bf and i are just learning how to make kimchee…. loving that, realizing how much i want to learn ‘old ways’….. thanks for sharing all your learning!!! <3

    • Welcome! I hope you find the site useful. Let me know if there’s something you’re looking for that you can’t find. I’m always looking for new ides to post about.

      • It is so awesome reading all of these interesting subjects, etc. here, I would like to know if you have a magazine or something on paper I could subscribe to? my mother likes these things too, but at 82 years doesn’t have computer.

        • Hi Lou! Glad that you are enjoying the site.

          Right now, it’s just me (Laurie) for the most part, squeezing in time between “real life”, so I haven’t given much thought to a print option. As we move forward, it might be something I would be able to do. (I just need a clone!) You are welcome to print out the articles for personal use.

  6. Stumbled upon your site from a post on Pinterest. WOW, you are just what I’m looking for.
    I’m diabetic and need to find healthy ways to keep my blood sugar in control, I need to lose weight-the prescribed medications has caused me to gain weight-I’m not real comfortable with the prescribed medication. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I already appreciate you.

  7. Hi
    I see we are ‘Lake Neighbors’ I live in Michigan in Manistee County which is directly across from you. :o) I love this blog you have so much useful information. We are trying to live more sustainably on our small city lot. Eventually we’d like to move out of town a little onto a few acres.

  8. Well done on the move from Blogger! I still have a blog or two lurking over there that I haven’t figured out how to transfer.

    Now that you’re on WordPress, if you do have questions or crises, please feel free to join our new WordPress Help group on Facebook. It’s manned by friendlies – and no promotion allowed. If we can help, we will be honored to do so – and if not, we are a nice safe place to chat over coffee :)


  9. Hello, I saw a link to your post over on Frugally Sustainable, My husband and I live in the city where we’ve had a tiny “urban homestead” but we’re growing out of our back yard and our neighborhood has changed so we’re moving to ten acres in the country. I’m adding you to my Google reader and look forward to reading your blog.

    • Welcome, Jenny. We had a similar motivation for when we moved away from our urban homestead. The neighborhood had changed so much!

      Since you’re moving to more land, you may find this new/old book I just rediscovered helpful. It’s called Weeds- Guardians of the Soil.

      • Oh that’s wonderful!! Thank you so much. For the time being we just mow the front of our property to make it look nice and have let everything else grow. It is cut for hay twice a year (maybe just once this year because of the drought). I’ve started to take notice of the “weeds” though, have identified several and am anxious to start foraging.

  10. Hi! I’ve just stumbled over your site and am really excited to work my way through it. I live in South Africa where our economy and future is best described as seriously unstable, and though I haven’t been a dedicated homesteader (mainly because we’ve moved about 22 times in the past 14 years) – I have always had a keen interest in it. Having moved last week for (hopefully) the last time in a long while, I am really determined to start something properly now and, just from looking through your site, I can see I will get a LOT of wonderful ideas. Thanks so much for sharing your life with the rest of the world! :-)

    • Kathleen, thank you for your kind words. We don’t get much news about South Africa here, but I have seen snippets about unusually cold weather, which tends to add stress to already difficult times. The US is in a lot of turmoil now, too, with no end in site. Hopefully we can all work together to come up with real solutions.

  11. Hi, Laurie,
    I haven’t visited in a while (just read your Facebook updates). Just wanted to tell you that your updated blog looks SO fantastic! Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.

    • Hi Danielle! Nice to hear from you! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Glad you like the new format. It’s still a work in progress, but I found a WordPress angel to help me do a makeover. The goal is to make everything easier to find. (I knew I needed help when I couldn’t find posts that I knew were on the site.) She runs her main sites over at http://www.lassgroup.com/, but also provides help to wayward bloggers. :-)

      We had family over yesterday and will be hosting friends today, so I’d best go get the ham in the oven. It’s windy as can be outside, but otherwise good weather, so that makes traveling easier in the area, which is a blessing.

  12. Just started looking at being more self sustainable, though I’ve raised my own vegetables for many years. With the government and economy in such turmoil, we have begun stocking up and getting ready for unexpected emergencies.
    I found you on Pinterest and was pleased to find someone from Wisconsin. I’m near Oshkosh. I’ve been up your way many times.
    I keep my carrots in the garden all winter by covering with a 2-3ft layer of leaves. We dig 6-8# at a time and bring them in and cover the rest over again. Many years ago, when I planted too many, I had to give away many buckets of them so I could plant my spring garden. I don’t have that much space at this house, but still raise much of the veggies we eat. Being close to the earth is very rewarding. I’m a nurse and believe we have lost the ability to heal ourselves due to all the medications that people take at the drop of a hat. Give you body a chance to fight it off by eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated.
    I’ll be researching your earlier posts and watching for new ones!


    • Welcome, Debbie. At our site here we’re pretty exposed, and everything not nailed down tends to blow away, but maybe one our windbreak trees are taller I could try the deep leaves.

      I agree that we’ve lost touch with our own healing capacity in this crazy world we live in, and I’m working to reconnect with that in my own family and share what we learn with others.

  13. We have a large garden and I planted enough potatoes from last year’s crop to feed an army. Now we have a large root celler buried six feet underground. Unfortunately the root celler has been open all summer and only recently closed up, so the surrounding concrete and soil is too warm. Currently I have a small 6″ fan to draw in cold air every night. Problem is, our stored potatoes think its time to start growing, so the sprouting is not good for them. Does anyone know of a way to slow down the sprouting process until the temperature can be brought down into the thirties?

    • My grandmother used to break off unwanted sprouts as they formed, and I follow the same practice. Anything you might treat them with could inhibit sprouting at planting time. Other them temporary colder storage somewhere else while the root cellar cools down, I haven’t heard of other good suggestions.

  14. Made your sandwich bread. It is wonderful! It has gone inside my cabinet door (where I hang all the best recipes, I may need more doors). :) I live in a rural area where gardens and canning are common for us “country folk”. I love the taste of homegrown food, I won’t even buy tomatoes at the store. I wait for my garden. :)

  15. Laurie, most excellent site and value adding info. I’m adding your site to my Resources page, just followed you on Twitter and subscribed to your newsletter.

    Saw your article on oil pulling. I’ve been doing some pulling for about two months now with coconut oil and have noticed great improvements in my skin and sensitivity in my teeth has gone. Just a little testimony on my part.

    Common Sense Woman indeed :)

    • Hey Todd! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. I’ve seen your content around the survival boards. One of the things we’re planning to focus more on the year is preparedness, so I’m sure we’ll be running into each other again. Thanks for your words of support.

  16. Hi Laura

    In depth organization! However; with financial/social chaos coming how will you keep your preps when the FE MA goons come to take your stuff under the existing executive order? Might consider some secure hiding places. Extend your root cellar and build a rock-walled circular raised garden over it? So much to learn and do that it interferes with my theoretical physics research.


  17. Laurie:

    I enjoy your comments and your exceptional reviews of products. Your education certainly gives you an edge on most preparedness-type reviewers and reviews–that makes your content more credible for both newbie and long-time preparedness folks.

    I invite you to interview with me on the Doctor Prepper C.P.R. Talk Show on the Preparedness Radio Network. I think it would help our listeners gain an appreciation for some of the basics necessary for becoming prepared or getting better prepared for the uncertain future.

    We’ve enjoyed more than 3.6 million downloads (not hits!) to date, have more than 2 dozen hosts, and broadcast more than 40 hours of original content each week day–and have two days of “Best Of…” shows on the weekends. We average more than 12,000 downloads daily, and that should help more people get to know you. We reach lots of preppers — that will certainly help introduce more people to you and your great information.

    My contact information is below. Please contact me and we can arrange a convenient time for recording the interview. Heck, with your information and credentials, you should be one of our hosts!

    Looking forward to speaking with you.


    James Talmage Stevens / Doctor Prepper
    “If you’re gonna do things ain’t never been done,
    You gotta try a few things ain’t never been tried.”
    Phone: (210) 695-4950
    Fax: (210) 695-4200

  18. Oh,
    You have my dream house! Lol…I’ve been after hubby for a long time for an attatched greenhouse! I love the idea of fresh, homegrown all year long!
    I am so considering homeschooling…sigh…
    Love to garden, although I need to get better at it!
    Love your website, it’s on my favorites list.

  19. Hi, Laurie! I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed this website and how much I have learned from it. Thanks!

    I came across this site and thought of how you are all about frugal and do-it-yourself projects. Set the boys to making labels for your canned goods, etc with this:


    Look under Craft Recipes in case the link does not totally work.

    Don’t work too hard!

  20. I would like to purchase all your books – how much, etc.

  21. Hi Laurie, I was hoping to get your input on a project that I’ve been pondering, first a mini bio. I have serious back & neck problems as well as with my left knee, ankle & foot. I live on a fixed income so I am always looking to save where I can. I’m unable to work on my knee’s or in a bent over position as one would with gardening. I currently live in town and the duplex I rent has an attached brick flower bed out front that stands approx. 30″ from ground to top. This past summer I decided to plant Tomatoes in the flower bed and It worked great! I could stand and tend to my plant’s without all of the pain. I even enjoyed some of the comments people walking by would make about my beautiful flowers, lol.
    However, the space is limited.

    As for my project, I would like to build a raised garden, or what I’ve been referring to as a standup garden. I was thinking of a narrow rectangular shaped plot that would allow enough room for 2 rows of crops. This way I would be able to walk along one side of the plot tending to 1 row and back down the other side tending to the 2nd row with little or no bending involved.
    My questions are:
    1) What would the width of the plot need to be to accommodate 2 rows of plant’s (primarily vegetables)? The height of the box would be 24″-30″ with no floor, so room for the root system wouldn’t be an issue.
    2) What materials would you recommend for the walls? I’m leery of any materials that may have been treated with any sort of chemicals for things such as weatherization, pests, etc.
    3) What would be the best soil mixture for a plot of this type?
    4) Lastly, I need to keep this as cost efficient as possible. I only need food for myself and wish to eventually have a constant 1 year supply of a continuous rotating stock of canned goods. (again, primarily vegetables)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Even as to whether or not this is a plausible idea.
    Thank You for your time, God Bless,


    • I recommend checking out the book “Square Foot Gardening” to give you a detailed listing of spacing requirements of a large selection of crops.

      As for walls, it really depends on your budget. Cedar and some other woods are naturally pest resistant without treatment, as are some composite materials. Check around your local lumberyard and home supply stores and see what’s available in your area that will fit your budget. Concrete might also be an option.

      You can check out this post for good info on organic potting mixes: http://www.extension.org/pages/20982/organic-potting-mix-basics

  22. HI, Just found your blog and I really like it.
    I’ve been looking into growing stevia for I’ve
    tried several from the stores and have not
    found one that I like and plus the cost is crazy.
    So I want to grow my own and well the seeds
    you suggest don’t show an organic symbol and
    I’m not always sure how to deal with seeds that
    don’t have the organic symbol.

    Also if I buy seeds now can I sow them outside
    I am in zone 9 or 10 sounthern California?
    Thanks for all your help and now that I’ve subscribed
    I have a feeling I’ll be taking a journey with you all. :)

    • There aren’t all that many places that stock organic seeds just yet, and I haven’t yet come across any certified organic stevia seeds, but they may be out there. Many small producers find organic certification to be cost prohibitive.

      I haven’t grown in zone 9/10, but I suspect that the seeds would indeed grow and germinate in your area directly sown outside. It just might be easier to baby the seedlings and keep track of them if they are sown inside and transplanted out. They tend to have a low germination rate, so every seed sown will not give you a plant – fussy little things that they are. Once they get growing, they are fairly tough.

      Welcome to the site. We can learn together.

  23. Hello,
    Just thought I would throw my two cents out there for you.
    Came here by way of Home on the Range (Brigid) blog.
    What you post about is what I am striving for. I would like to get all gushy about how excited I am to see your blog…but just can’t put the words down and not cringe at them!
    I can say that I am very grateful for finding my way to your electronic life. I can also thank you for sharing your life with us.
    Sincerely, Pam

    • Thank you, Pam. It’s really nice of you to take the time to comment and share such positive thoughts. 2013 has been a bumpy year for us, but we’re still trying to hold on to the dream. We have each other, and are reasonably healthy, so in the end that’s the stuff that matters most.

  24. Thanks very much for accepting me to your folds and want to express my joy for being part of your discussions,I read comments from the group and learn more as I keep using my common sense to lead my life,the use of our common sense could have saved our world the many lives lost to diseases created by man in search of real wisdom and common sense.
    Thanks again and hope to be here till dooms day.
    George Henry Amoah.

  25. Love the recipes. Like to cook with beans and always looking for new ideas. I have a request though. My mother had a cookbook for pinto beans that included a recipe for chocolate cake. Unfortunately it was lost in a house fire and I have been unable to find it. If anyone knows what I’m looking for and where to find it I would appreciate your help. Thank you.

  26. Do you have printer friendly versions of posts available? We do not have internet at our farm. Thanks!

  27. How long will the herbal class be offered? Thank you.

  28. So nice to stumble upon this blog! My husband grew up in Kewaunee and my in-laws still live there!

  29. Laurie I love your articles. I studied horticulture for a couple of years in St. Louis and was able to work at Shaw’s Botanical Gardens through a work/study program through the school (several years ago!) That experience embedded a deep love of all things in the garden and it’s been a life long endeavor to always have a beautiful yard – with vegetable plants tucked in wherever I can! I noticed your grow lights. Do you have a good source for these? They used to sell the bulbs at the hardware stores but I have been unable to find them lately. I kept my Kumquat trees going this winter by a single full spectrum bulb in the garage but would love to expand to starting my seedlings again under the fixtures. I used to germinate my seeds in old metal ice cube trays with cut glass tops (to slide off and on) on top of the furnace in my basement. I miss the thrill of hundreds of flower and veggie seeds poking thru the mix! Regards, Kathy

    • We purchased ours at the hardware store, too, quite a while back. I noticed when searching online, I was getting a lot of results for single, screw in bulbs, and not much else. Maybe ask at a local gardening or hardware store?

      Working in the earth is good for the soul. :-)

  30. How I stumbled across your website . . . I don’t know (maybe with a simple cheese recipe). BUT I AM SO GLAD I DID!!!! I am so happily overwhelmed. Everything I ever wanted to try, experiment, etc. is here! I could read for months but of course that wouldn’t get me DOING. I am so excited. I started reading in the garden section. growing up and into young adulthood my mom & g’ma had green thumbs. Me? Mine was black!!!! Until they passed. I believe they willed me their green thumbs ’cause now I do pretty well in the garden. But I have so much to learn! I am temporarily in MD for the next year (an entire rotation of growing seasons) and had been unable to get my hands dirty until a nice opportunity arose. I was given about a 50yd x 25yd of an old corn field to play with. Whoo hoo! Oh no. I didn’t and still don’t know anything about the weird climate on this side of the country. The local Master Gardners came out and helped me get going. Obviously we didn’t only used about a 40 x 25 ft area. It would be too much for just me otherwise. I have so much to learn and am so grateful for the knowledge I am obtaining from your website. Thank you. I am looking forward to a bumper crop of vegies and storing seeds for next years garden in CA.

    • Welcome, Devora, and thank you for your kind words. God must have known I needed a pep talk. This weird weather and everything else going on with moving my husband home this spring has thrown a monkey wrench in my gardening, but I know I just need to stick with it and get things done, even though it’s a terrible mess right now. Thanks for taking time to leave a positive comment. :-)

  31. Love your web site, I am getting two of the same emails at a time.

  32. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for hot flashes, they are driving me crazy.

  33. Hello Laurie!

    Your new site design looks beautiful!! Thank you for all that you are doing for me, newbie homesteader in British Columbia, Canada!

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