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Posts Tagged ‘homesteading’

 

I’m so glad everyone got to  meet our new Ducks and Chicks; Merry and Pippin, those are the two ducks, and Mrs.Winners and ‘No Name’ (we don’t know if its a hen or rooster yet!) our chicks. There growing so fast now! The ducks seemed to have lost their baby fluff completely and the chicks keep getting bigger and bigger every day!  Since There’s a lot of great info on the Internet on the care and keeping of poultry, we won’t go through the whole run down here but let me warn all of you before you decide on those cute little ducklings, they are a bit more complicated to care for then chickens. Their little webbed feet are very sensitive, they are Extremely messy eaters, drinkers, players, poopers…well, just about everything they do is messy, and their nutrition requirements are different then chickens.  Think about this before you start your backyard flock and things will go a lot smoother than they went for us! (let’s just say my poor floor got scrubbed about twice a day for two weeks until they were old enough to stay outside…glad it’s concrete)
Here are a few great sites to check out if your thinking of raising poultry:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/    – a great general resource for poultry

http://www.motherearthnews.com/home.aspx   – just type in chickens in the search box at the top of the screen.

http://www.newagrarian.com/category/ducks/   – a great blog about Raising Ducks, including a diary of development.

http://urbanchickens.org/   – thinking of keeping chickens in the city? Yes you Can do it!

Now let’s talk about happy birds! Treats to be exact! First of all, please don’t feed your birds junk food…pop tarts, cake, chips, etc are just not good for them, not even every once in a while! All of the treats listed here, however, are not only great for them, it’s a blast to watch them eat it too!

Collards are my bird’s favorite treat, they are absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals. Serve in their whole form when Ducks or Chicks are about 4 weeks old and watch them tear the leaves to pieces or, in the duck’s case, drag whole leaves into their swimming water to rip apart. 

Radishes, Turnips and Rutabegas are a fun treat for your chickens, grow them big and hang them whole in your coop at chicken head level. They love pecking at the Root until there’s virtually nothing left, just remove if they don’t get it all eaten before it starts to mold. This is a great way to supplement their winter diet and keep them moving during the sluggish months. Since ducks can’t peck, chop the root up into very small pieces and place in a pile near their water dish.

One way to provide a great treat all summer long is to hang a light a  little above the height of the birds right in the middle of the coop. The light will attract all sorts of yummy bugs (including mosquitoes), which the birds will then snatch right out of the air! Just be sure to create some sort of plastic covering or perhaps a metal screen cage over the bulb to protect it from pecking beaks.

Fresh grass clippings are great to throw in the coop. The birds will root and scratch to find bugs, seeds, flowers and plant material to eat. I’ve seen our ducks stick their heads in a pile right up to their necks to root around, they fling it everywhere, including on the unsuspecting chickens! You can leave the clippings in the coop, just make sure they don’t get moldy, Mold is especially hazardous to growing ducklings.

And, of course, we can’t forget bugs from the garden! One way to amuse a child for hours on end ? Tell them your chicks and ducklings love bugs! Crickets, rollie pollies, cabbage worms, grass hoppers, slugs, Japanese beetles, you name it, they eat it! Make sure your child knows not to grab any spiders, centipedes or scorpions! In fact, why not go bug hunting too? It’s great fun and every time you find a new bug, it could turn into an excellent educational experience…”ohhh! Look at this bug! It’s called a (insert cool bug name)” then watch your chicken chase it down and rip it apart! Ok, so maybe it’s a little morbid, but at least your ridding your garden of salad eating insects the organic way, right?

I hope everyone garnered some fun ideas from my little ramblings, I know I’m growing a giant radish just for my chickens right now! Have any yummy treat ideas for poultry? What are your chickens favorite food? We definitely want to know, so please comment below! (yay! I rhymed!)

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Wanna Take a Tour of our Farm? C’mon, lets take a walk!

This is where we lived for Two years while working on the Big Barn, the small addition on the right was a battery box. Right behind it, the Ducks and Chicks are housed...lets go meet them!

 
 

Meet the Ducks and Chicks! The Ducks are named Merry and Pippin...they're always in trouble! We're fairly certain one of the chicks is a hen, she'll be named Mrs.Wynners. (I know, we're morbid, wait 'till you hear the Rooster's name)

 
 

Awwww! They love each other!

 
 

Lets check out the Gardens now! Well, this is actually the compost...I have volunteer peas and pumpkins coming up!

 

My Baby Carrots! They were DELICIOUS! I keep harvesting them before they reach full "carrothood", there just too good to leave in ground!

 

Yarrow...good for wound healing, and the treatment of colds and viruses, I have A Lot drying for the shop as we speak, with more to come as you can see!

 

The last Radish...we're seeing how big it will get...

 
 

I made a wonderful Rose Vinegar for sunburns last year from this rose...Make the same way as garlic vinegar. To use, Soak a rag in half water, half vinegar and lay cloth on Sunburn to alleviate pain and turn the burn into a tan!

 
 

Now we'll take a walk down the path we cut behind the house, everything is left wild for the local critters until we turn the area into an orchard, we always see rabbits, deer, racoons and plenty of birds down here!

 
 

To the right is this beautiful wild vetch, the pea-like pods are poisonous, but this plant provides vital nitrogen to the soil structure, as well as beauty to the landscape.

 
 

Just behind the vetch is a large Privett shrub, though invasive, it too provides vibrant blooms and food and shelter for wildlife. I've heard rumors its medicinal but havent had a chance to research this further...

 
 
 

As we continue down the path, my favorite flowers appear right in front of the semi-dry pond bed. A simple wild daisy, it's simplicity is it's beauty!

 
 

This is one of the many wild willow trees that populate the property, Im fairly sure this is White Willow. White Willow bark is medicinally similar to asprin; pain relieving, fever reducing, etc, The difference is no Stomach bleeding! Im very excited to have these trees...

 
 

This is the Lower Barn, soon to be workshop/studio/forge! It needs alot of work, but hey, were accustomed to that by now!

 
 

This is Grandmother Willow-who-is-actually-an-Oak, the inspiration for RavenOak Medicinals...the Ravens and She have an agreement, they get to hang out on her limbs as long as they fertilize the ground below with their droppings!

 
 

The guardian of the Oak...surprisingly not covered in Raven Poo!

 
 

A view thru the Oak leaves...That's the little building up there and you can just barely see our solar panels to the left. The driveway is to the right...thats where we're headed next.

 
 

Up here to the right of the driveway is the baby Oak Grove, a No-Mow Zone. Though we will not see the full maturity of these babies, it is still pretty cool to know our grandchildern will bear witness!

 
 

Our pecan started as a stick in the ground! The nuts it produces are very large!

 
 

Say Hi Bo-Bunny! (He likes to graze the clover under the Pecan)

 
 

The last stop is my messy front porch, we wont go into the house, its not fully done yet. That's Mint growing up through the cracks there, Oh! and meet Churches! Rev. Churches Chicken is his full name and he loves biscuits and my Garden. Dont worry if he chases you out of the driveway as you leave, he does that to everyone!

Well Im glad you could stop by, it’s too bad you couldnt see everything! We didnt get to the Frog Filled Pond Bed, The Stream behind it (I’ll be growing Ginseng back there one day!) Oh, and the Pine Forest, My Grandmother’s straw and mud cottage she’s building next door, The Front and Side Fields…soon to be an apple orchard and vineyard,and the Slab behind the house, its going to be a Huge Greenhouse someday! Oh, Well, maybe next time! I’ll invite you in for some coffee and some Peanut Butter cookies, maybe it wont be such a construction zone then! See Ya’ll next week!
 
 
 
 
 

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Alas, my friends, I am guilty of shirking my blogging responsibilities! But who can truly blame me? The Spirits of Spring have called me to the newly blooming Gardens ( or what will soon become gardens ), and who can resist the call of Nature ( no, not that call! 😉 )? I apologize, but now it seems the rains have come to Georgia and I suppose I will be stuck indoors today! So now I sit, sipping a steaming cup of Organic ( and Fair Trade ) coffee mixed with wild harvested, roasted Dandelion Root that I recently dug from my yard.

    I have, in earlier posts, preached the amazing qualities of this sometimes hated weed, and what better time to explain the roasting process than on a rainy day? Plus I figured with my total lack of posts I might better give y’all something useful to read, otherwise my minions ( oops… I mean Readers:) )might rise against me! Now enough of the babble, let’s get to the good stuff!

What dainty Flowers!

How to Roast Dandelion Roots:

First, of course, we must extract them from the soil! To ensure a continuous supply of crunchy, cleansing roots, and crisp salad greens, we must pick the seed laden puff balls and make a few wishes for the future! Just be sure not to blow the seeds into your neighbors yard ( unless, of course, they share your love for dandelion’s sunny disposition )!

To gather the greatest amount of roots, you will need a good spade, and by spade, I mean a square shaped shovel with a nice, sharp edge to it. Some people prefer a regular shovel, but these tenacious roots tend to grow about 2 feet long, strait down into your yard, so it gets pretty difficult unless you have a long shovel!

 A good root diggin’ technique is to dig in a circle around the base of the plant, placing the spade straight down at the base and jumping up and down on it multiple times, then standing on the shovel and rocking precariously side to side to loosen the soil around said Dandelion. Not only is this really fun, it’s the only way I’ve found to get the whole root! Comment if you have a more efficient ( though maybe slightly less fun) technique. Once you have the soil loosened, reach down and grab the base of the plant and using your shovel for leverage, pull straight up. You should now have a beautiful, dirt covered root, along with some excess dirt under your fingernails. Keep up the diggin’ until you have enough roots ( there’s no real way to tell how many you’ll need, because, of course each root is a different size, shape and length).

These beautiful little roots, covered in Ga. Red Dirt, are actually a golden yellow color when washed. You can see how long and skinny they are, and they shoot straight down into the soil.

Now clean your roots outside first at the hose, I like to set up a grate over my compost pile, then spray them with the hose, but not too hard, you don’t really want to bruise them, however, get as much soil off as possible before moving on to the kitchen sink. Once inside, cut the leaves off and set them aside for lunch, then move on to scrubbing them as you would a potato, until all the dirt is gone. Place them on a paper towel to get the excess water off, then start chopping them up.

Now you can see the yellowish color. Sorry for the Horrible Pic!

It doesn’t really matter how you chopp them as long as their basically the same thickness to ensure even drying.

Spread them on a baking sheet, a couple of centimeters thick, and place in a 250 degree F. oven, leaving the door partially open to allow  moisture to escape. Keep checking them until they look shriveled, then leave them for about 30 more minutes to get a nice brown to golden color. The whole process usually only takes about 2 hours (unless you decide to try this on an extremely humid Georgia afternoon, like I did! Then it takes half the day to just dry them!:))

When their nice and roasted (I can always tell by the Earthy, slightly spicy aroma that permeates my kitchen), store them, unground, in an airtight jar in a cool dark area just like any other medicinal herb.

I like to grind the Dandelion with the coffee beans at a ratio of about a third of the Dandelion root to two thirds of the coffee. Adding more will give you a more bitter, Cafe Du Monde chicory-like flavor. Then Brew just like you would regular coffee and enjoy the cleansing, nutrient rich flavor of your dandelion coffee! Just remember, both coffee and Dandelion roots are diuretic, which basically means you’ll be urinating more than usual. Don’t let it get you down, it just means the dandelion is traveling through your body picking up toxins along the way out. Be sure, however, to get a little extra potassium in your diet, as this can be depleted by a pickup in the frequency of urinating.

Not only is this a great tasting way to take your medicine, it will also extend the time between buying more coffee, thereby saving you a couple extra dollars! I like to use that extra cash to buy plants…and potting soil, and pots, and seeds, and garden tools….O.K, so maybe it wont save me that much!

MMmmmmm.....

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I must sincerely apologize for the complete lack of my normal Saturday post! The end of the week proved to hail a whirlwind of activity and the blessing of the company of old friends. To be quite honest, I must admit that on Friday evening I stayed up until about 6:30 in the A.M, I really felt like I was in High School again! Then Sunday showed my home full of the laughter of both children and men (you know they act like kids most days anyway;) and my new stove got broken in in a most appropriate way for a homestead…two whole batches of cookies!-all of which were consumed within the hour:)

But now I shall make up for it with this collection of wild medicinal (and of course edible!) plants, all of which can be found growing throughout the wilds of Georgia and I’m sure most of the southeast! I also had the pleasure of taking a wild weed walk in my mom’s Secret Gardens, so these pictures are a culmination of both her homestead and mine. So once again, won’t you join me on the farm, and in my mother’s gardens as we walk with heads pointed down to the ground exploring the bounty of our lawns!

The first in the series is common in most areas of the country in one form or another- Chickweed! This diminutive plant is both edible and medicinal in nature; having the properties to Treat coughs, hoarseness, constipation, kidney related disorders, and is now revealing itself as an effective antihistamine! With a whole host of vitamins and minerals including Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc, this plant is a treasure waiting to be discovered!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One easy way to identify chickweed is the tiny star shaped flowers, which upon closer inspection reveals instead of ten petals, five deeply cleft petals. It also has a line of hair running along a creeping purplish green stem, this particular variety is called mouse-eared chickweed, and is fuzzier than the variety shown above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This beautiful weed is called Ground Ivy, it makes a lush green ground cover and grows in areas grass doesn't like...but be careful, it's related to the mint family and tends to take over! Thankfully, it's medicinal and edible so it adds greatly to the useful lawn. It makes an excellent spring tonic, aiding in relieving congestion and inflammation of mucous membranes associated with colds, flu, and sinusitis, stimulating the appetite, treating allergies, digestive disorders, gastritis, acid indigestion, and diarrhea. These are just a few of it's many benefits. It is also an appetizing salad and soup green adding a great host of nutrients to the meal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it is a member of the mint family, it's stem is square, hairy and creeps along the ground forming a mat, it's leaves are heart shaped and scalloped. The leaves, stems and flowers can be harvested year round, since it is a perennial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do not, under any circumstances, confuse ground ivy with this plant! This is called Delphinium and is very poisonous!some distinct differences include the serrated leaves, rather than lobed, and the more compact nature of the entire plant instead of the creeping nature of Ground Ivy. Remember, always properly identify before you even touch a plant, let alone harvest it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite appearances, no this is not a strawberry leaf! This ancient plant is called cinquefoil, otherwise known as Five Finger Grass. Purely medicinal in nature (I tried a leaf and neither the texture nor taste is appetizing in the least, so, though you could probably eat it as a salad green...well, let's just say I told ya so 😉 It's medicinal uses include treating Diarrhea, Menstrual Cramps, Mouth Inflammation, PMS, Sore throat and used as an astringent skin wash. In the old days, this herb was almost considered a 'cure all', it's scientific name; 'Potentilla' can attest to that...see 'Potent' in its very Latin origins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A close-up of this precious groundcover, notice the five serrated leaves on a single axis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hmmmm....is this one of those 'what is this' closeup pictures you sometimes find in the back of a magazine? Nope! This is a most amazing resin from a very common plant...the Pine! Members of the Pine Family grow almost everywhere in America and most, if not all, are medicinally interchangeable to varying degrees of success. The Native Americans used this as a very valuable food supply in the winter when fresh vegetables were scarce. Because of it's very high vitamin C content, it's very useful in treating scurvy; the severe vitamin C deficiency commonly found in malnourished countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another amazing quality of Pine sap (and pine needles) is it's ability to treat just about any form of influenza, and though I've not come across a case, I'm almost certain even the bird or swine flu could not stand up to this resin's healing properties! More research is defiantly required in this area and if you come across any vases I would be delighted if you shared! On another note, pine sap also makes an amazing healing and drawing poultice for splinters, glass, spider bites and other small wounds. There are a great many old-timey pine sap slave recipes out there so I'll not take up more space with another one, simply know the knowledge is there for the taking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was overjoyed to recently learn (from my brilliant mom:), that this curious looking wild plant I've been wondering about for over a year now is actually the ancient healer Fumitory! This beautiful little plant has been used in medicine for thousands of years and just it's name brings images of monastery cottage gardens, ancient monks tending the healing plants in times such as King Arthur and Robin Hood lived! Many times I'm sure the smoke of this plant has graced the halls of catholic churches and has even been used to purify sick rooms and quarantine areas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internally, Fumitory is useful as a digestive tonic, treating gall bladder and Liver conditions, along with Being gently laxative and sedative in it's nature. Externally, it has been used to treat skin conditions such as rash, eczema, and other inflamations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much for joining me once again as we explore the bounty nature has provided for us! Last weeks it was a salad, this week a healing potion…all from plants freely given to better our bodies and minds! Ahhhhh…..I love Spring!:)

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  Wow! What an eventful week! First of all, I would like to congratulate the Egyptian people for their victory over Oppression, and we all pray that the following days will be full of joy, freedom and positive change! You have a long road ahead of you, Egypt, but this victory is the stepping stone on the pathway to democracy and personal rights which I believe every human is entitled to. Yay Egypt!!!! Sorry, got a little carried away:). Anyway, we’ve been so busy, (building more raised beds:) I figured for this post I would extend to everyone some of the resources we have been using the past two years or so, hopefully you can garner the same knowledge, news, entertainment and great products we have had the privilege to find on our journey toward financial freedom and sustainability. Please enjoy the following links….it’s time to get click happy!

http://bearmedicineherbals.com/ -a wonderful guide to traditional herbal medicine with insights into the everyday life of a medicine woman. Highly recommended for wild and regional herbal medicine. The very knowledgeable Kiva Rose brings to life the wild and often mysterious valley in which she resides with her family and friends. She, along with her colleagues, have produced a treasure trove of knowledge in publishing the new online herbalist’s ‘Plant Healer Magazine’, which I have yet to have the opportunity to read:(.

http://www.greenlittlecat.com/ -a great site my friend Jess found for  the cat lover in all of us. All about the different ways we can “green” our feline friend’s lifestyle. How to make your own cat litter, natural foods and holistic kitty medicine.

http://www.horizonherbs.com/ -the number one site to go to for hard to find herb plants and seeds, the owner Richo Cech also writes some extraordinary guides to growing and using medicinal herbs. Every plant I’ve ordered from them has been a prolific producer and I highly recommend them.

http://agrigirl.wordpress.com/ -a wonderful blog about friends, family and community supported agriculture, she will surprise you with the wit and wisdom of her posts.

http://www.bountifulgardens.org/ -a great source for untreated and organic vegetable seed. You will truly get your money’s worth at this site, the proceeds go to a great cause; teaching people all over the world how to grow and provide food for their communities, and finding new and improved techniques of growing the most food in in-hospitable areas! I order my veggie seeds from this company because Jesus said it best; give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime…(along with feed his family, neighbors, and perhaps his entire village:)

http://www.gardenweb.com/ -a forum for all regions of gardening. Ask a question and it will be answered by gardeners in your state.

http://urbanhomestead.org/ -for the ultimate in inspiration, this is what your small city lot could provide if given half a chance. As just a small example, the total in produce for January alone was over two hundred pounds! Plus the pictures of the gardens alone is enough to strive for greater production!

http://beyondthebluebin.com/ -a diary of one person’s trash, and thoughts on how to reduce, reuse and recycle that trash. It invites us all to take a look at what really goes into our trash cans!

http://www.wholesalesolar.com/ – we bought our solar panels (and a refrigerator, and inverter) from these guys, their prices are very reasonable, their reps are knowledgable and their equipment is reliable! If you have any questions about future solar projects, or even just want to understand more about how the systems work, don’t hesitate to give them a call! (Hint, hint, Wholesale solar, Winding Road Farm is advertising for you!;)

http://www.motherearthnews.com/ -when I found out we would be moving to a ten acre farm, living in a tiney outbuilding, and with no running water or electricity, the first thing I did, was order a subscription to this magazine. I grew up reading Mother Earth News, my mom has almost every issue. It’s pages beg to be book marked, it’s passages underlined and every issue kept safe for future generations! If you can find anyone who is willing to part with the older issues, they are well worth the price. Every issue is packed with homesteading tips and tricks, gardening ideas, environmental news and personal accounts from the sustainability front!

http://survivalfarm.wordpress.com/ -all about gardening and how much humanity will soon need the small farmer, and the backyard veggie plot.

http://www.gardenfork.tv/ -A very entertaining site! Eric’s videos are informative, funny and his Labradors are downright adorable! I love the fact that they appear completely unscripted, I think his favorite saying is “and, well, we’ll just see what happens!”. How-To videos, Cooking, Bee-keeping and random Cute Puppy shots makes for a great show!

http://wastefreehome.wordpress.com/ -another household that has vowed to reduce and even eliminate the trash that makes up their portion of the landfill, I was very glad to find that we’re not the only ones!

http://wooddogs3.wordpress.com/ – another urbanite’s experiences with farming on a small city lot. Look for the great book recommendations!

http://herbanlifestyle.wordpress.com/ – and finally, just looking at the site makes my mouth water! Full of good news and good recipes, the writer also owns an Etsy shop selling hand crafted all natural bath and body care products, which have garnered some great reviews!

   Thanks to all who read about our adventures and let’s hope we can get this garden going soon, I got my local Georgia Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin and according to the planting guide, I should have stuff in the ground already! You see, this is why we call our kind of procrastination an extreme sport!

Gwenevere

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During my work in the garden today, my mind began to wander,(as it normally tends to do during garden work), and I began to formulate a list. Now many of you may not yet know my love of lists, but a single quote from a magazine pretty much sums it up; “I love lists…creating them, looking at them, and every once in a while crossing something off!” I can’t for the life of me remember who said this, but it has stuck with me. This particular list is called ‘Rules to Live by on the Farm’, a compendium of advice from  our experiences thus far.

1: Possibly the most important piece of advice, Always laugh in the face of failure, even if it happens again, and again, and again…..eventually you’ll get it right.

2: When you think you’ve got enough (hay, soil, compost, grass clippings, firewood…etc.) in your wheelbarrow, pile in more. Because you don’t have enough, believe me!

3: Never send hungry children to the berry patch with the intentions of baking a pie. What you will get instead of a full basket, is ten berries at the bottom of it and very sticky children with red, blue or black faces depending on the berry being picked.

4: The same goes for hungry adults, though they may try to wash away the evidence;)!

5: Always dress in many layers if work is to be done outside in the winter, Especially if you live in the south!

6: Never plant mint directly in the ground unless you really want a Minty fresh lawn (which smells wonderful when you walk on it, or mow it). One option is to bury a terra cotta pot in the ground to plant it in.

7: Celebrate the small accomplishments, they add up in the long run!

8: Always thank your cats for the disgusting offering left at your door step, it’s just common courtesy. If you chastise them, they’ll probably pee on your bed…they know which side you sleep on!

9: If you can’t afford a leaf shredder,  instead gather together a giant pile of leaves and several children given copious amounts of Halloween candy. This was my mom’s tried and true technique!

10: Never say, “well this should be easy!”.

11: Always make sure the goat pen (or chicken coop) is secure before you go to bed, otherwise you will be chasing goats and/or chickens for the remainder of the night.

12: Never leave rakes face up on the ground, and if you do, buy a video camera.

13: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Old wisdom usually holds true. (had to include this one)

14: Smile and wave at your neighbors whenever you see them, they’ll probably be your best customers!

15: And last but certainly one least, Never underestimate the power of pizza (or cookies) as payment! We renovated our house this way! Throw in a bonfire and some beer at the end of the night and your friends will work harder than if you paid them with money!

  As I said before, all of this comes from true experience. We really do have a Minty fresh lawn, we have been up all hours chasing chickens and goats, and the only way we stayed sane throughout the house building experience was by celebrating such small accomplishments as erecting one single wall. Though I’m sure this list will grow as our experience grows, I think were off to a pretty decent start! Does anyone else have any tried and true advice to contribute? Were always up for some tips!

Gwenevere

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     Ladies and gentlemen, drum-roll please! I am pleased to announce that We now have, at our lovely off-the-grid home…..Running Water! That’s right, after two full years of turning on the gas powered generator to fill up about ten gallon sized milk jugs for drinking water a week, washing dishes by heating water on the wood stove, and taking showers and washing our clothes at an aunts house down the street, I can simply turn on the kitchen faucet and have instantaneous, crystal clear well water running freely for my drinking pleasure! Also, coming soon to a home near me, hot running water with no limits, courtesy of our propane powered tank-less hot water heater that’s been sitting behind the house since October! Oh the luxury…the convenience! Couple these amazing accomplishments with a working stove, oven and super efficient refrigerator and I’d say this has been a very prosperous week! All thanks to the fact that my dear fiancé Bear has worked his little behind off in the cold, the rain, and the dark to bring me all of the modern comforts of a regular home, wrapped in a cute little green package with a recycled bow on top…I must be marrying the most wonderful man on earth! Really, what more could I ask for? (aside from building a chicken coop, a greenhouse,a woodshed and a covered back porch, of course;)
  
   Alright, onto a separate, but equally amazing piece of news. After doing a little online reading, I recently came across an article from the staple homesteading and self sufficiency magazine ‘Mother Earth News’ (when I say staple, I mean I ordered a subscription as soon as I found out I would be living with no power or running water). The article proclaimed that half of the trash in landfills comes from new construction waste, over 136,000,000 pounds from America alone each year! The average 2,000 square foot home claims 8,000 pounds of that when built from the ground up. The implications of these figures took a second to dawn on me, but when it finally hit me I was floored! This means that since we renovated an existing structure, and saved every scrap of construction waste from our job site, we essentially kept over 8,000 pounds of waste from going to a landfill! Wow, what a pat on the back! I really can’t believe the numbers, when we started this whole project, it was out of necessity that we used every scrap of lumber, saved every bent nail, and bought only the exact amount of any material needed to finish it. Now, after all the hard work and struggle we’ve been through since October 31st of 2008, we get this metaphoric award and handshake for a job well done! And guess what? Seannakate, Juanita, Caleb and Jess, you too have each saved anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 pounds of construction waste from the landfill. How about all you readers out there who have bought an older pre-existing home, or built your home the no waste way? You too have rescued a heap of trash from the dump! How does that feel? Go ahead, give yourself a round of applause! And as for anyone on the market for a home, keep these figures in mind, purchase an older pre-existing structure, build with greener methods, and save those scraps because scraps saved means money saved in the long run! I did, after all, build an awesome raised garden bed out of scraps!
     Let’s keep the good news coming! If you own a home purchased or built in the manners listed above, we here at Winding Road Farm want to know how much waste you kept out of the dump. Here’s a simple way to find out: 1 square ft of newly built home usually yields about 4 pounds of construction garbage. Just multiply the square footage of your home by 4 to come up with the amount of trash you didn’t send to landfill mountain! Subtract any construction waste you did send off to get your final amount. For example, my home is 2100 sq ft., I multiply that by four and get 8400 pounds of garbage. During the two year period, we probably hauled off about 200 pounds of stuff I couldn’t figure out a use for, subtract that and I’ve saved 8200 pounds of trash from making a home at the dump!  Use this method to figure up your trash savings and leave a comment below…hey, maybe we should add it all up! Let’s keep a running tab, that way we can all congratulate each other for being such fine citizens! Remember, if your in the market for a home, keep these figures in mind, purchase an older pre-existing structure, build with greener methods, and save those scraps because scraps saved means money saved in the long run! I did, after all, build an awesome raised garden bed out of scraps!
    

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