Sunday, May 9, 2010

Homesteading 101

We are writing to-do lists these days. There is work here at home, there is work we need to plan in the future. Priorities and dreams. While contemplating all our plans we can refine what we started in our current home for our new home.

When we first moved here the first improvement we made to the place was our clothes line. It can fit three loads of laundry. It receives good sunlight most of the day. The one refinement we will make on the next one to fill our holes with concrete before putting the posts in the ground so that the posts do not succumb to the whim of frost and thaw.

We also plan to build a woodshed that will keep our wood dry. Each fall we stack wood. I love this task. Evan and I go out each morning and stack. We collect any kindling left from the wood Mark has chopped. By December the wood is all stacked on top of pallets and covered in tarps or makeshift tarps constructed from feed bags. By January we are trying to keep the tarps on the wood or they are frozen to the ground. By spring we are chasing tarps freed by March winds. So a woodshed would be definite improvement.
Our compost bins were constructed from wooden pallets, chicken wire and barn boards from a barn we salvaged a few years ago. Some years I am very diligent about turning those piles every 21 days. I keep my piles of green and brown around and construct the pile as it should be. But the last year the piles have been more passively built. When we get to our new place I would like to construct our bins to look like log cabins; basically a box made from logs, that can built up and taken down while building or turning the piles.

We have capacity to collect 330 gallons of water from our roof. We put the 50 gallon whisky barrel up first and then found the 280 gallon industrial container. We had to put up new gutters. We use this water for watering our animals and garden in the summer. If we lose power we use this water for washing. In the new place we would like to increase our water collection efforts and connect some of them to soaker hoses in the garden. Our new place also has a hand pump in the kitchen that is connected to a hand dug well that we will use when ( it is not an "if" in Maine) we lose power. There is also a drilled well with an electic pump. I love redundancies:)

Mark made this cold frame for me before we moved here. It has served us well. It has been rebuilt and refined several times during it's life. When we move to the new place we would like to build a small greenhouse to help with seed starting, season extending and a spot for growing some of those veggies that like the heat.

Mark and Tristan built our barn a couple of years ago. We had a chicken coop a few years ago that was functional but a little scrappy looking and it fell prey to the elements easily. So when we built the barn I had the stipulation that I wanted it to be pretty. But our budget was a little tight so we decided to put T1-11 on as siding and, well, we started with 4 inch wide and that became unavailable, so there is some 8 inch on it too. It is post and beam construction and very sturdy but we are going to try something different with our next barn. We just haven't decided yet what that will be. We like the pole barn idea and our hayloft can store a fair amount of hay but not all the hay we need for the winter so we are going back the draft board for the next one.
Mark fenced in the pasture and this has worked really well. It has different sections that can be opened or closed depending on how the tall the grass is. In the spring we spread oats on top of the pasture grass we grew so that there is early grass for the wooly critters. The next place has more open spaces so we will be able to mostly grass feed our sheep in the summer.

Finally, we have a big double sided refrigerator with an ice maker. It came with the house when we bought it. We have been meaning to replace it with something more efficient. The new house has a built in cold room and a vintage fridge circa 1960's. We are thinking of getting rid of the fridge. We have a small chest freezer. We might get a small dorm fridge for things like milk and leftovers but we would learn how best to use the cold room. Also, when we put in our woodstove in our current home we stopped needing to use so much propane gas. We have a hot water heater that uses propane now. But the new place has an electric hot water heater. We would like to install an on -demand hot water system. We think that this will save us a ton of money.

Well, big plans...gotta go sharpen the pencil:)


Wendy said...


Ellen said...

It is a lot of fun to be making plans for your new home!
We are planning to move in about 3-4 years, but we are already talking about how we want certain things.

Sounds like you are on the right track. Have fun!

Kelly said...

Thanks for stopping by our blog. I love hearing from neighbors. I learn so much from others blogs it really helps us here. We will start working on our barn and I think the large container for rain collection is a great idea. I wonder how much rain comes off a barn roof? Alot!

Hullabaloo Homestead said...

great plans!! I had to laugh about the wood pile tarp situation. That's how ours goes too with the wood on the pallets and chasing tarps in March. So many of your plans are my plans too. We've incorporated a lot into where we are, but we won't be here much longer. The industrial water container has been popping up a lot for me. Very innovative.


Wendy said...

I'm still trying to talk my husband into getting rid of the fridge. We have a full-sized upright freezer that's rarely so full that we couldn't keep a couple of gallons of water in there to swap out of a small, insulated cold-box. He's not completely convinced, but I can see that I'm wearing him down :).

And about the tankless water heater. We have one, and it's awesome! We have a gas hot water heater, and after we had it installed our gas bill was reduced by 2/3 what it was. We use about 10 gallons of propane per month for hot water. Anyway, my point is that I highly recommend a tankless water heater. It does save - significantly!