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May 8, 2017

HAPPY HOMESTEADING – MAKE YOUR OWN HOMEMADE EXTRACTS

Did you know that it's really easy to make your own extracts from fresh herbs and fruits? These are great alternatives to ones at the store which may contain corn syrup or artificial flavors, and they make great gifts around the holidays! The basic idea is just to steep nuts, zests, or leaves in an alcohol that will absorb all of the flavors over time, leaving you with delicious flavors that are easy to add to any recipe.

These liquids can be stored in medium mason jars, or 2 oz. glass jars, with screw-top lids which make for good storage in small spaces or as cute gifts!

Hazelnut Extract
1 cup hazelnuts (toasted/skins removed)
1 split vanilla bean
3/4 C vodka

Directions: Add hazelnuts to a jar, add vodka, vanilla seeds, and vanilla bean. Close and infuse for 3-4 weeks, shaking once daily. Strain hazelnuts from extract, and sweeten the liquid with a dash of simple syrup, if needed.

Almond Extract
1 cup almonds (freshly ground, toasted)
1 split vanilla bean
3/4 C vodka

Directions: Add almonds to a jar, add vodka, vanilla seeds, and vanilla bean. Close and infuse for 3-4 weeks, shaking once daily. Strain hazelnuts from extract, and sweeten the liquid with a dash of simple syrup, if needed.

Lemon Extract
1 medium lemon rind (all white pith removed)
1/4 C water
1/2 C vodka

Directions: Chop up rind and pour it into a jar with water and vodka. Store in a cool dry place for one week. Strain out the lemon peel before using.

Orange Extract
1 medium orange rind (all white pith removed)
1/4 C water
1/2 C vodka

Directions: Chop up rind and pour it into a jar with water and vodka. Store in a cool dry place for one week. Strain out the orange peel before using.

Peppermint Extract
1/4 C peppermint leaves (dried and finely chopped)
1/2 C water
1/2 C vodka

Directions: Place peppermint leaves, vodka, and water in a jar. Close and infuse for three weeks, shaking the jar lightly once a day. Strain out leaves before using.


May 8, 2017

KEEPING CHICKENS: WHAT THE CLUCK IS ALL THE HYPE?!

by Jamie Miller

Let me fill you in on what it's like having chickens as pets: For starts, chickens require less time than most people think, and who isn't concerned with time these days? Just a few minutes of checking food and water each day, and they're pretty much set. They also don't require very much space, and they give you fresh and nutritious eggs almost daily. Despite what some may think, you don't need a rooster for the ladies to lay eggs, you only need a rooster to fertilize the eggs for more chickens. These powerhouses just lay, lay, lay on their own.

Chickens are so much fun to watch, I think they are hilarious. My family spends a lot of time in our backyard, watching and giggling at our chickens' silly antics. They each have such different personalities - some are strong and willful, while others are reserved and shy, but they all definitely known who their favorite people are. My chickens follow me everywhere, it's so cute watching their little legs try and keep up with you as they follow you around the yard.

Chickens are great organic pest controllers, they eat everything! I can come outside to a giant pile of ants, bring the chickens over to the pile, and they are gobbled up in five minutes. I love that! They also love to eat weeds, as well as our leftover fruit and veggie scraps (just no potato peelings), and who doesn't want less waste? Their poop makes great fertilizer for the yard and garden, just another benefit of these wonderful creatures.

Last, but certainly not least (and probably my favorite part of keeping chickens), chickens help humans produce the stress-lowering chemical known as Oxytocin. There are actually hens that serve as therapy chickens, how cool is that? My chickens let me hold them, because I've done it ever since I got them, and they even sit on my lap.

My chickens often come in the house and want to be a part of what's going on, and they even beg for food, just like the dogs. They put themselves to bed every night, it's pretty cool how they just know when to go to bed, based off the daylight hours. It makes it very easy for a pet owner not to have to put them in their coop. They co-exist really well with our other pets, we have two dogs and three cats. They all just walk around together, sharing the yard. Sometimes I don't think they think they are any different than the dogs and cats. They definitely have the Oxytocin affect on my family, as well as me. We enjoy having them, and we will probably always have chickens as part of our family.


Apr 28, 2017

RIDGECREST HERBALS TO PHASE OUT HOMEOPATHICS IN FORMULAS

by Jamie Miller

Beginning in 2017, Ridgecrest Herbals has decided to phase out the homeopathic elements that exist in some of our formulas. We expect the full process to take around two years as we carefully work to replace the homeopathics with equally effective herbal components.Ridgecrest Herbals continues to believe in the effectiveness and benefits of homeopathic remedies, but we feel that in the current hostile regulatory atmosphere it is more beneficial for us as a company to remove homeopathy from our products. This decision has come from a multitude of events in the industry:

  • Historically, homeopathic drugs were permitted to indicate suggested uses based on the Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States (HPUS). These HPUS usage guidelines are based on homeopathic provings, which are fundamentally different in nature than the clinical trials used by conventional drugs. Traditionally, the FTC has not significantly regulated either advertising or labels of homeopathic drugs, leaving the FDA to act as the primary regulatory agency for homeopathy.
  • For many years, the FDA has been opposed to combinations of homeopathics with other products such as herbs, because homeopathics are regulated as drugs and herbs are generally regulated as supplements. This makes it difficult to satisfy conflicting regulations with respect to formulation and labeling.
  • The FDA has recently taken the position that homeopathics should be subject to identity testing. Because of the nature of the small dosages of the homeopathic tradition, this regulation is impossible to satisfy with current science.
  • In November 2016, the Federal Trade Commission announced a new “Enforcement Policy Statement on Marketing Claims for Over-the-Counter Homeopathic Drugs,” stating that “the FTC will hold efficacy and safety claims for OTC homeopathic drugs to the same standard as other products making similar claims.” This position essentially adopts the “clinical-trial” standard applied to pharmaceuticals, and precludes reliance on the HPUS. This will vastly increase the cost of traditional homeopathic medicines, or make it very difficult for manufacturers to describe to consumers what the product is designed for.
  • In addition, homeopathy has recently become somewhat of a target for self-appointed “consumer advocates” and professional plaintiffs who prey on parts of the natural products industry that they feel are insufficiently “regulated” or “scientific.”

For all of these reasons, we have decided to discontinue our homeopathic/herbal combination products and focus on our herbal formulas.

History of Homeopathy:

The theory of homeopathy was developed by German Physician Samuel Hahnemann at the turn of the 18th century. He based his theory on the Greek philosophy of “like cures like”, the belief that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. It is believed Hippocrates prescribed a miniscule amount of mandrake root to cure mania, understanding that larger doses would produce mania. The practice was a welcome shift from bloodletting, purging, and medicines that could sometimes include lead, mercury, and opium. It gained popularity throughout the 19th century, and helped pave the way for more scientific approaches to medical treatment. In 1938, before the pharmaceutical industry became powerful as in modern days, the FDA recognized homeopathic preparations as drugs.

Homeopathy Around the World:

Homeopathy is the second most-used natural medical system worldwide (next to Traditional Chinese Medicine), with over 500 million people around the world incorporating it into their healthcare. The World Health Organization has called for a greater acceptance of the practice as well as a push for more evidence-based studies into the practice. In 2004, they produced a comprehensive list of every known study in the world, and concluded that there was much evidence of its effectiveness, though more research was needed. In Europe, homeopathy is supported and is an accepted form of natural practice, and many countries integrate it into their state-subsidized health care systems, reimbursing for care, regulating and protecting homeopathic drugs, and financing research. It is legally recognized in 42 countries, is written into the constitution of Sweden and in Great Britain Queen Elizabeth is a patron of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, and her husband, Prince Phillip, has played an active role in promoting the practice.

In the US, however, the road for homeopathics has been much more difficult, as the recent federal developments prove. Natural medical alternatives have little federal lobbying power, and regulations such as these hurt the ability for advocates of natural medicine to offer their services to the general public. As a result, it can be difficult to describe exactly how a product works when you are not allowed to properly or adequately explain what traditional methods, backed by hundreds of years of global efficacy, believes them to do.

Conclusion:

Because of the difficulty of selling products while trying to work around the governmental oversight that does not allow companies to properly describe the effects of their products, Ridgecrest Herbals has found our homeopathic remedies in the crossfire. While homeopathy makes up less than 2% of our products by weight, we do feel that their inclusion leads to better effectiveness than herbal remedies alone. Unfortunately, in light of the current regulatory environment, they simply are not worth the fight. We will be researching herbal alternatives in an attempt to improve on these formulas so they continue to be as effective as we are proud they have always been. For some this will mean including products proven to increase bioavailability, making the already existing ingredients more useful, and for others it may mean integrating new herbs. While we are disappointed at what we see as an over-regulation of the natural products industry, we are committed to providing quality products that meet all federal requirements, and we will work to guarantee our products to be as powerful and effective as ever.


Apr 6, 2017

SOURCING QUALITY HERBAL INGREDIENTS

by Matt Warnock, CEO RidgeCrest Herbals

I am often asked where our herbs come from. As an eclectic herbal company, our herbs come from all over the world. Our herbal ingredients come from every continent of the world, except Antarctica-- which doesn't grow many herbs.

Obviously, sourcing quality herbs from so many different geographic locations is a challenge. And we often read sensational headlines about supplements that are laced with prescription drugs, or that contain dangerous chemicals. However, the companies that sell these products are usually fly-by-night firms, that buy complete predefined formulas from disreputable overseas suppliers, and sell them on the Internet. These products are almost always intentionally spiked during production, in order to make the formulas more effective.

Our products, on the other hand, are manufactured entirely in the USA. The ingredients are sourced as individual herbs, and are purchased only from well-known and trusted suppliers. Since the suppliers don't know what the herbs will be used for, there is little incentive to spike them. And since each separate herb has well-known physical and chemical characteristics, it would be difficult to spike them without the adulteration being noticed.

Still, ensuring overall quality of herbal ingredients is a very real challenge, and we meet that challenge with a combination of teamwork and process. Teamwork means that we rely on known and trusted supply partners who make it their business (and reputation) to provide quality ingredients. In addition, we make it our process to further test our products, to ensure that our product specifications are consistently met or exceeded.

There are three important qualities that need to be adequately assured for each individual herbal ingredient: identity, potency, and purity. These major areas of concern can be further broken down as follows.

  • Identity: Is this the correct species of herb? Has someone sent common licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) instead of Chinese licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)? Is it the right part of the plant? Has someone sent dandelion leaf instead of dandelion root? Has the herb been grown, harvested, and processed correctly? Is it whole herb, cut and sifted pieces, or powder? Are the granules the right size for encapsulation? Is it the correct kind of extract?
  • Potency: Is this the correct strength of herb? Is it fresh enough for use? Is it correctly harvested, cleaned, dried, and powdered? If an extract, is it the right process and potency? Does it have the right chemical markers?
  • Purity: Has the herb been adulterated with drugs or other chemicals? Has the herb been sulfured to make it look fresher than it is? Are there residues from pesticides or other agricultural chemicals? Does it contain elevated levels of heavy metals like lead and arsenic? Have root crops been washed clean from surrounding soil before drying and powdering? Is the herb contaminated with dangerous germs l ike E. coli or Salmonella? Is the overall bacterial count too high? Or is it too low because it has been improperly radiated or gassed, as opposed to properly treated with steam or UV light to reduce benign bacteria count?

Obviously, not every possible test can or should be performed on every single batch of herbs. As an extreme example, we could run a DNA identity test on every batch, or even every individual drum of powdered herb, but the cost would be astronomical, and would ultimately have to be passed on to the consumer. On the other hand, at least one identity test needs to be run on every ingredient, and microbial tests need to be performed on every batch of finished product.

Some problems are more likely than others, and some problems are more dangerous than others. Likely or dangerous issues should of course be tested for more frequently, and more stringently. Other tests can be omitted, or tested for only periodically, if the problems they detect are unlikely, or not immediately dangerous. If these problems do crop up in random or sporadic quality testing, they can be made part of the routine testing program until they get resolved.

In reality, some tests are just as effective, and far less costly, than others. For example, organoleptic testing (testing by appearance, smell and taste) may be low-tech, but human senses have not yet been surpassed by scientific instruments for speed, effectiveness and value for identity and potency testing in many (but not all) circumstances.

But by far the best way to increase quality and lower costs is to know your supplier. Good companies use well-known and respected suppliers, because they know that their products and their reputations depend on good quality ingredients. Reputable suppliers in turn know their sources of supply, and they do a lot of testing when they buy the herbs, so as to reduce the amount of testing that needs to be done later by their clients.

In the end, quality is largely a matter of trust. Trusted suppliers provide trusted ingredients, which can be used by reputable manufacturers to create trusted and effective products. No amount of testing or government regulation can eliminate all crooked manufacturers from the marketplace, but luckily, you don't have to buy from them. Do your homework, ask your local retailer, and buy effective products from reputable companies, and you can save yourself a lot of trouble.


Apr 6, 2017

THE BASICS OF COMPOSTING

Ever wanted to start your own compost pile for your yard/garden, but didn’t know where to start? Here are some of the basics to help get you started on cultivating your own black gold. Microbes thrive on heat, moisture and oxygen inside your compost pile to turn organic matter into soil, full of nutrients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A minimum pile size of 3 feet cubed, on the ground or in a compost container.
  • 1 part fresh green materials such as kitchen veggie and fruit scraps, eggshells, corn cobs, coffee grounds, tea bags, and yard scraps such as grass clippings, weeds, or dead plants.
  • 2 parts dry brown materials such as dead leaves, straw/hay, wood shavings, sawdust, shredded paper, cardboard, napkins, paper towels, or natural fibers like cotton or wool.
  • Oxygen and Water.

Directions:

  • Stir and mix your compost pile weekly, to aerate and distribute oxygen to all of the microbes that are growing. More turning will give you faster compost.
  • Be sure to give your pile just enough moisture to feel like a damp sponge. If you overwater and have poolage or leaking, your pile won’t have the necessary oxygen to break things down. Too little, and the process can stop altogether.

Now that you have compost, put it to use! Your compost is ready when all identifiable parts have turned into a black and crumbly soil. Place a ring of compost around your plants and then water in to provide nutrients to established plants, or till it into your soil at the beginning of planting season.


Mar 20, 2017

THE BENEFITS OF VERMICOMPOSTING

by Will Christensen

Vermicomposting has grown in popularity and become a mainstay for homes around the world, turning natural table scraps into worm castings, or dark black beautiful fertilizer right under your kitchen sink. Before you turn up your nose, let's get the gross worries out of the way:

1. Worms will not escape and find their way to your bed while you sleep, they are contained within their own system.
2. Done right, vermicomposting will not stink.
3. You should not have to handle the little red worms. They do all of the work, and move right on to the next step in the process.

Why should you compost with worms? The short answer: Fertilizer. The long answer: You can turn your kitchen waste into food for your garden, houseplants, and trees. You will also have a supply of rich compost tea - clear water that collects in the bottom of the container, which is an additional fertilizer. You can water your plants directly with this liquid, and they will love it! Your kitchen waste will not have to go into the garbage - Instead you will put it in the top tray of this system under your kitchen sink, or in your garage (they need to be someplace insulated from frozen winters for maximum benefits), where the worms will break it down into usable material. The ecological benefits are giant, it saves a lot of power, and helps you do your part for the planet. When you buy big-brand fertilizer, you have to think about the energy & fossil fuel used to make or mine the components, and acknowledge the energy used to transport it globally.

How do you vermicompost? You can find forums on the web, or there are many books available to teach you how to make your own. You can also purchase kits that vary in cost from around $80-$120, depending on the size you need. Size is determined by how large your family is, and the amount of non-meat food waste you produce.

Keep in mind: you will need RED worms. This will not work with the common night crawler you find in your yard. These worms can be bought by the pound, or found in horse pilings (if you have access to that resource). The best way to get them is by asking around. Someone who vermicomposts (or even has a red worm composting system) can give you a handful, and that’s all you need to get started. They will populate the right amount for your system in a short time. The only downside is that red worms do not like extreme temperatures. I live in the mountains of Utah, which means I have to pay close attention and be careful to not let them freeze during the winter. If you live in a hot climate, you will need to keep them out of the extreme heat. This is why the dark and temperature controlled environment under a kitchen sink is a common place to keep them, and is fairly stable year round.

I love vermicomposting. I know where my fertilizer is coming from, and I know it is not damaging our ecological system, but helping it. If you’re curious and want to find out more, check out these references:

http://www.planetnatural.com/worm-composting/ http://compost.css.cornell.edu/worms/basics.html http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/guide-to-vermicomposting-zmaz83jazshe.aspx


Mar 7, 2017

NO-TILL GARDENING FOR ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS

an excerpt from the book by Caleb Warnock

Fifteen Reasons to never till your garden again:

1. Dramatically reduces the work required to garden
2. Reduces weeding by 90 percent
3. Allows you to establish a self-seeding garden
4. Means you never need to purchase fertilizer again
5. Hugely cuts down on soil disease
6. Cuts down soil compaction
7. Dramatically increases natural soil fertility
8. Makes a 100 percent organic garden practical
9. Makes gardening physically accessible
10. Makes permaculture truly possible - no gas, no tiller
11. Make a garden honestly sustainable
12. Make gardening easier for beginners and experienced growers,
the physically disabled, seniors, children, families
13. Increases yields
14. Makes a larger garden possible with less work
15. Makes gardening less expensive

There are only two ways to make soil fertile - One way is natural, the other is synthetic. The natural way costs nothing and requires little work. The synthetic method is expensive, labor-intensive, and violates the first rule of sustainable gardening -- the garden should pay you, instead of you paying your garden in the form of buying stuff for it. You may be surprised to learn that the natural method is based almost solely on mushrooms (mycelium). Mother Nature has a whole system of soil fertility in place, and as it turns out, if we get out of her way, she will make our garden fertile -- for free.

Modern science has confirmed something surprising. In natural ecosystems, many (if not all) plants are best able to remove nutrients from soil with the help of mushroom mycelium. Most gardeners have never heard of mycelium, even though they’ve seen it. Mushrooms are an interesting plant. The whole plant is underground. Only the fruit -- what we call mushrooms -- emerge into the sunlight. The rest of the plant is called mycelium. If you’ve ever turned over an old log, or cleaned a garden in spring, you’ve likely seen the brilliant white threads that are mycelium. These strings are delicate and easily destroyed -- but when left to their own devices, they will slowly break down the largest logs, straw, chaff, and garden waste, helping Mother Nature turn these things to rich soil. Mushrooms are huge plants, with the mycelium of one plant running for dozens, hundreds or thousands of feet under the soil. Mushroom plants are also long-lived, threading themselves through the soil where they assist trees, bushes, grasses, and vegetables. The roots of all the plants that surround us need the help of mycelium to get food from the soil. It’s that simple.

When we mechanically till the soil, we are damaging the very mycelium that our soil relies on for natural health. Throughout history -- until the modern age -- gardening was always done using the no-till method. Scientists are quick to tell you that, even though we have known for 130 years that plants depend on mycelium, we know very little about the whole process. We know that, for the most part, mushroom plants must have carbon to live, but are not able to process this carbon themselves. To solve this problem, they form relationships with plants underground. The plants provide carbon to the mushrooms, and the mushrooms “farm” these plants by supplying them with nutrients so that the plants will continue to grow and provide carbon.

In 2008, the Oxford Journal of Experimental Botany published a wide-ranging paper which examined years of studies of mycelium and its relationship to plants. Here is what modern science has learned about this relationship between mushroom mycelium (fungi) and plants (data from J. Exp. Bot. (2008) 59 (5): 1115-1126):

“Mycorrhizal fungi ‘connect’ plants ‘to the nutrients required for their growth.’ Mycelium helps plants in times of stress including drought, soil acidification, and exposure to toxic metals and plant pathogens. Mycelium increase “the nutrient absorptive surface area of their host plant root systems.”

Tilling drastically reduced soil fertility because it did so much damage to the soil. What kind of damage? The mechanical action not only destroyed the mycelium, but also ground the earth so fine that it created compaction. And tilled topsoil, essentially ground into dust, continues to this day to blow away, creating huge fertility problems worldwide. Science solved these problems by creating commercial petroleum-based fertilizers which could be scattered over fields and mixed right into the soil with Howard’s new tiller machines. Natural soil fertility was no longer necessary. During and after World War I, millions had starved to death in Europe. As I explain in my “Backyard Winter Gardening” book, it took years for aid to reach rural Russian villages and other places, where the starving had turned to eating their straw roofs. When help finally arrived, what the locals wanted more than anything else was vegetable seed. Seeds helped put these villages back on their feet, and taught the world a valuable lesson that has been mostly forgotten today -- seed is only available when someone grows it. When seed vanishes, people starve. As I wrote in my first Forgotten Skills book, today our seed supply is almost wholly hybrid, corporate owned, patented, and designed to be self-suiciding to ensure long-term corporate dependence and thus, profits. Nine out of every ten heirloom varieties that were for sale in 1900 are now extinct. We will never be able to get them back. The new science of agronomy promised to end starvation forever.

As petrochemicals became the standard on farms, backyard gardeners began to “see the light.” Arthur Howard’s invention had initially been rejected by gardeners as useless, but soon the wave of science washed over the backyard garden too. Organic gardening methods were dropped as “old-fashioned” and “foolish”. The great age of chemicals had dawned.


Mar 6, 2017

THE MANY HOUSEHOLD USES OF VINEGAR

Did you know that vinegar has many different uses in your home in place of harsh chemicals?

Try some of these great methods:

Remove Pet Odor - Spray some white vinegar onto your pet’s puddle when you’re cleaning it up to remove the odor as well as the stain.

Clean Mineral Deposits - Scrub your shower with vinegar to remove hard water stains, let it stand for an hour, then rinse. Clogged shower head? Tie a plastic baggie filled with vinegar around the head with a rubber band and let sit overnight, remove and rinse.

Absorb Smoke Smells - Vinegar can help to remove cigarette smoke from rooms and surfaces. Add it to your carpet shampoo solution to pull the smell out of carpet, dilute with water and spray/wipe walls, or even stick a bowl full of vinegar in smoky rooms to absorb odors before they set in.

Clean Your Refrigerator - Wipe up spills and stuck-on food with a rag and 1 part vinegar to 1 part warm water. Works like a charm!

Dissolve Kitchen and Bathroom Grime - hard water deposits, soap grime, and food spots are no match for baking soda, vinegar, and a toothbrush! Let the solution sit for 20 mintues to an hour on stubborn spots, then rinse or wipe with a warm damp cloth.

Unclog a Sink - This is an inexpensive way to get a drain moving again. Add 1/3 cup of baking soda and flush with a generous amount of vinegar, followed by hot water to completely flush the baking soda through the pipes.


Feb 21, 2017

RIDGECREST HERBAL’S PHYSIQOL SUPPLEMENT WINS 2017 TASTE FOR LIFE ESSENTIALS AWARD

Ridgecrest Herbals is thrilled that our PhysiQOL herbal supplement has won the 2017 Taste for Life Essentials Award in the category of Pain Management. This recognition is a tribute to the hard work our company has put into this unique product and the results our customers experience. Designed to help improve quality of life (QOL) during periods of pain or discomfort, we combined homeopathic remedies with herbal products used for centuries to help reduce pain and promote a healthy inflammatory response such as Boswellia, ginger, bromelain, turmeric, and white willow bark. The result is an eclectic, effective product that helps manage the root issues of many common aches and pains. Whether it is tension in the neck or head, inflammation associated with overuse, or menstrual discomfort, PhysiQOL is a natural, safe alternative that is non-habit forming and gentle on the liver. Ridgecrest Herbal’s patented formula contains a variety of the most powerful ingredients for natural pain relief used in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TMC) and Western herbalism. Ingredients in PhysiQOL are fast-acting and have been shown to help reduce discomfort and promote a healthy inflammatory response in the joints, muscles, digestive tract, and respiratory system. In addition to pain management, this formula includes ingredients designed to help bring a sense of calm to help reduce stress for faster recovery, and still others that increase the bioavailability of the product.

The Taste of Life Essentials Award is a great honor, demonstrating the quality and effectiveness of our PhysiQOL product, and places our exclusive solution for natural pain management alongside some of the best products in the industry. Released in 2015, this is PhysiQOL’s first recognition, adding it to our list of other quality, award-winning products including ClearLungs Immune (2016), Anxiety Free (2014, 2016), and Thyroid Thrive (2016).


Feb 14, 2017

A BLURB ABOUT BEARDS

by Scott Van Zalinge, Fellow Bearded Brother

Since the beginning of mankind, men have been growing beards. They have been worn for warmth, fashion, or to convey masculinity. For centuries, the ability to grow a beard was accepted as the sign of full-grown manhood, and in many cultures, a long beard has been associated with great wisdom, strength, and social status.

Early man would have had little choice but to wear their beards, since the earliest evidence of hair removal only dates back to the Stone Age. During that time, hair was plucked from the body using two shells (like tweezers), or by use of water and a tool such as a sharpened flint, or shark tooth. Egyptian warriors, followed by Greek and Roman soldiers, would shave their beards to keep them from being grabbed in hand-to-hand combat. The modern straight razor was conceived in Sheffield, England in the 19th century, though daily shaving was not a widespread practice then. The custom of shaving every day began among American men during World War I, when soldiers were required to shave daily so that their gas masks would seal properly.

For me, I feel that having a beard does convey masculinity… and perhaps one does look wiser with a beard, like the many philosophers who’ve worn them in the past. It keeps my neck warm while out on winter hikes, intimidates bears I come across, and I think it’s just plain cool!



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