Growing vegetables at a high elevation can be very challenging. Over the years we have had to be flexible and creative in order to manage a small garden. We grow enough for our needs but not enough to put any vegetables up for future use. This blog post outlines some of the challenges we have faced and how we overcame them.
Working as an arborist in Colorado, Ryan Baldwin saw an opportunity to salvage city trees destined for the dump into usable lumber for woodworking projects.
Homesteading is an exciting life choice regardless of age, and one of the benefits is the remoteness. Seniors can be homesteaders, but just be prepared for hard physical work and be open to adjustment and change.
Some charities are happy to get firewood to distribute to those who can't afford it — or get it for themselves.
Seniors like myself are coping today on many levels of homesteading and life is good for us even if a little more difficult. Learn how homesteading and self-sufficiency have become more difficult as we grow older but is far from being over.
Radon is colorless, odorless, and invisible but it can give you lung cancer. Learn to test for radon in your home and techniques to mitigate its impacts.
When we built our current home in 1992, there were very few rules and codes that could damage or destroy our dream of doing most of the work in building our cabin ourselves. Times like that are rapidly disappearing and those who build now must endure permits, inspections, delays and forced compliance. The dream of building your own home could be more complicated than just knowing construction techniques nowadays. Read our story.
Chicken saddles are fabric "vests" you can put on hens that are suffering from overly, ummm, romantic roosters.
We thought we were doing the right thing when we moved to a remote area to live 19 years ago. The community is a landowners association with some who desire to change a beautiful remote-living area on acreage to resemble what they left. We thought living in an area with covenants and rules would protect our investment, but one should recognize that living remotely in a covenant community offers both positive and negative aspects.
Each year at the start of planting season, I come to my senses and order only a few packets of things that I know will actually grow in my garden. This begins my annual process of starting a complete garden from little dry specks called seeds. Although seed catalogs can be pretty exciting and I want to grow everything I see, I need to be practical. Here are my personal priorities for buying and starting vegetable seedlings.
I have a long-standing fear and dislike of spiders — especially big ones. You could say I was not a likely candidate for conversion to a spider lover. This story is about the Yellow Agriope spider I found in my tomato plant and the unlikely garden friendship we developed.
Wildfire is our greatest threat living in the mountains with all the dead vegetation and dead trees providing fuel. Here in Southern Colorado, where population density is less and forest growth is thick, sensible people plan ahead to mitigate wildfire risk. Plan ahead with these tips for wildfire mitigation.
We provide bird houses for nesting birds and they provide us with insect control.
Our changing weather pattern at high elevation.
It takes special diligence and caution to keep domestic pets safe when living with wild predators around.
Learn what biodiesel can do to a fuel system if not properly treated against gelling.
This is an easy-to-make, fragrant, delicious and nutritious meal. It takes minimal prep work and simmers for a couple of hours until the meat is practically falling off the bones.
Tiny homes range anywhere from 80 to 400 square feet and are sometimes built on a trailer chassis and sometimes built to go on a more permanent foundation. It is a relatively new concept and if we believe what is being said about the tiny home, its popularity is growing like wildfire.
Soap making is fairly easy and rewarding, especially when you make a soap that’s better than anything you can buy!
Since moving to the mountains of Southern Colorado, we have encountered many black bears and because of those encounters, we have learned much about the species. I find it incredible that bears and other smaller critters can hibernate. Our winters are sometimes 7+ months long and for any animal to put itself into a dormant state for that long is simply amazing. Read more insights into how bear hibernation works.
More than 20 years ago, we made the decision to live a more simple life. Living in the big city, we had accumulated many possessions that had, at best, limited function. When we decided on a more uncluttered and simple lifestyle, we called an auctioneer and had him auction off the majority of our possessions. When we moved to our small cabin in the mountains we were immersed in nature.
A hearty and delicious soup, made with a leftover duck carcass (or other poultry), fresh vegetables, wild rice and mushrooms and flavored with smoked ham, sherry and curry powder. Just in time for the holidays!
Homesteading in the mountains can be inconvenient, dangerous, challenging and lots of hard work.
Bone broths are all the rage these days. And with good reason! You can find plenty of articles explaining that nourishing bone broths, rich in protein, gelatin and minerals, are soothing to the gut and healthy for bones, skin, hair and joints. And for someone recovering from surgery or illness that needs to be on a very light or liquid diet, bone broths are soothing, light and nutritious.
In our many encounters with black bears, we have had no serious incidents. Achieve harmony living in bear territory by staying calm and giving bears favorable distance.
We put a lot of thought into being prepared for mountain winters and it requires a lot of work to be fully prepared.
I’d been experimenting with sourdough (no added yeast) bread for more than a year. The final result is the easiest—and best—bread I’ve EVER made or tasted. I mean seriously, I’m so excited about this recipe!
Canning your own foods can be a rewarding, economical and healthier way to preserve a garden’s bounty — but it’s not for everyone. Here is a bit of the lowdown on what is involved in the process for canning food so you can decide for yourself what will be best to preserve your garden bounty.
Drones can be used to survey areas to develop more accurate maps. They can be equipped with heat sensors and used in search and rescue at far less cost than putting people out there searching for those lost. This post counts the beneficial uses of drones, or airborne robots.
There is one time of the year in the mountains that is special and above all other seasons in my opinion. Fall time in the mountains is invigorating and refreshing. It is the season the invigorates all five senses. For a little Rocky Mountain fall-time inspiration, read on.
Hoop houses have proven themselves to be invaluable for extending the gardening season in both spring and fall. But I didn’t expect to get even more use out of mine during our frequent and unpredictable hail storms!
Can animals actually tell us what the weather has in store for us?
Have you ever wanted to make your own pickles, but became discouraged and overwhelmed with the amount of work involved with traditional recipes? Well, here’s a recipe that’s quick, easy and made right in the jar. These fermented dill pickles take very little work or prep time and are delicious, healthful and ready to eat in a week.
Introducing a new dog to your existing dog or pack depending on how many you have is not always as easy as it seems. I am neither a professional dog behaviorist nor a trainer but I do observe our canine members and believe there is a proper way to bring in another fur family member so the chances of success are greatly improved.
Lessons learned from watching birds.
Our experience in purchasing a tractor for our homestead.
We had a visit from a deer that looked to be in bad condition and the result was fibromatosis, a non-life-threatening skin condition afflicting mostly young male deer.
How we environmentally maintain our wood lot.
We took some test pans of dirt to see if we had any gold coming out of our springs. Sure enough some small pieces of gold.
Two issues to consider before heading out to high elevation. Altitude sickness and snow melt issues.
Gardens are possible, but having a successful garden at high elevation presents a different set of challenges.
Using the right component improves the chance of success when gardening.
Cutting firewood in the winter opens time for other activities during the short summer and fall seasons.
How we discovered a cut-glass prism that told us the exact first day of spring by producing rainbows.
Going from raw undeveloped land to a functional homestead is hard work, but it's rewarding.
Gardening at a high elevation presents challenges such as harsh sun and a shorter growing season.
We have found that there are down sides to legalization of marijuana in Colorado.
We use the winter to mitigate our wildfire exposure as opposed to the summer when we are involved with other needed tasks.
How we repurposed an old leaky wood stove to use outside to cook meals on.
Dovetail joints that are hand made are a strong woodworking joint.
When we produce locally what we consume locally creates cells of sustainability. The shorter our supply lines the more resilient we become. More importantly, sustainable cells produce a healthier and more beautiful way of life.
Making New Year's resolutions for a remote homestead.
No homestead is complete without our canine companions.
Typical suburban landscaping is a maintenance expense with no return to the owner and often diminishes the habitat for the living things around us. One alternative is to create a forest island that provides flowers for pollinators and food for people with little to no maintenance cost.
Putting a safety fence around a woodstove keeps small children and pets safer.
Building garden boxes that keep critters out.
Using manual control of weeds as opposed to chemical control.
Grow food year round with no operating costs and no waste by using integrated closed loop production in a heat retaining enclosure.
Whether you're planning a last minute day trip or a multi-week expedition, these five hiking tips are a must for seasoned hikers and newcomers alike.
Selecting a tree, reducing it to logs, milling out the logs into lumber and using that lumber for specific projects.
There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.
Climate change is a sign of the end of the industrial age. If humans are going to survive the end of the industrial age it will be because individuals and groups of neighbors take these matters into their own hands. It cannot happen any other way.
Building a closet from lumber milled from standing dead trees.
Tarps are lightweight and inexpensive alternatives to conventional backpacking shelters. Consider switching to a tarp for shelter in order to minimize pack weight and maximize your enjoyment in the great outdoors.
Living in the mountains or remotely requires physical endurance as well as being fit.
Using these techniques you can spend an afternoon building a deep mulch garden and stop tilling and composting for up to 30 years.
Though wolves are commonly misunderstood animals, not all of what you hear is true.
We have a large population of hummingbirds in the summer and observing them and their flying antics is amazing.
Our declining industrial system has created a series of environmental and social problems and can no longer produce the wealth required to solve them. That means that ordinary citizens must shoulder the burden of changing the way things are done by creating biodiverse systems. Here is a place to start.
Make a winter checklist to follow in preparation for winter in the mountains.
The benefits of owning a home wood mill and the economic advantages if you have available timber.
How we convert standing dead trees to usable lumber.
How we prevented birds from flying into our windows.
Should you do it yourself or hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney?
Learn how to clean your own woodstove and chimney.
How a single purchase of a magazine in newsprint in 1970 changed my life.
How having a rhythm and routine assists in accomplishing difficult tasks.
How to report application violations of herbicide abuse.
How to flush a small engine and repair a clogged carburetor.
Tips that we have learned gardening at a high elevation.
How to cope mentally with living in a remote location.
Is a pressure washer something that would be beneficial on your homestead?
Other than the four regular seasons there is a fifth season in the mountains called mud season.
Taking time to reflect on the past brings renewed appreciation to the present.
Fly season is upon us. Here are some helpful and easy hints to control those buzzing beasts at your homestead this year.
The benefits of Kombucha are many. Find out why you should add this healthful probiotic to your life.
Two homesteaders discuss their experience with the weather applicable to their mountain homesteads in Washington and Colorado.
Ed Essex and Bruce McElmurray compare their weather experiences living at 4,200 feet and 9750 feet elevation respectively.
Two homesteaders from Washington and Colorado comment on their greatest weather fear in the mountains.
In this episode we will cover the 3 major steps in the alcohol distillation process
The spirits industry is changing dramatically. However, owning and knowing how to use a still could be of great benefit to you. Knowing how to make a strong alcohol puts you in an immediate position of power.
Peppermint is a wonderful and versatile herb that can be utilized for many everyday ailments.
Ed and Bruce compare the weather and its impact on their mountain homesteads at different elevations and mountain ranges.
Bruce McElmurray and Ed Essex collaborate on how the weather dictates to their mountain homesteading.
A fun, but informative tutorial on making your own unique lap quilt, from the first-hand experience of a novice quilter. A perfect single day project and a great gift idea!
Make a delicious homemade bread with this easy tutorial.
It takes commitment and determination to live remotely in the mountains.
Learn the basic skills useful for mountain homesteading.
Mountain homesteading in a remote area.
There is hard work homesteading in the mountains and the weather dictates much of those challenges.
Transforming a tree to lumber and then to a piece of furniture.
The discovery of an uncommon remedy for blood poisoning in my pantry.
Snow in the mountains is different than snow found at lower elevations.
Living remotely with wild animal encounters and how to come out safely.
Selecting a power option for your homestead.
Homesteading with dogs in remote mountain living. Considerations in providing a good safe homestead environment for your cherished pets.
Learn to make Queso Blanco, by far the easiest cheese in my opinion, as the only ingredients are whole milk and white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you like).
Cabin Fever: noun, ‘Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area‘.
Viewing elk herds from the comfort of our home.
We love our lifestyle and all the hard work that is associated with this lifestyle is just a small part of it.
There seems to be limited testing done by the EPA on the toxicity of some chemicals.
Coping with SARDS (sudden acquired retinal degeneration) in dogs and practical ways to help a blind dog.
A sudden onset of a canine eye disease called SARDS leaves dogs totally blind very suddenly. Bruce McElmurray explains this disrder from a personal perspective.
When defining the term homesteading, consider the various options available.
Don’t let this tricky pipe slow down your projects — these CPVC basics will help you ease into those plumbing repairs.
Are GMOs good or bad for civilization?
Are GMOs good or bad for civilization?
From log to the mill to the project in no time at all.
We are inundated with green messages that can sometimes be confusing or misleading. This phenomenon is especially true when it comes to the paint industry. There is much talk about No-VOC and Low-VOC paints, but what is the truth behind it?
The final in a 6 part series on Ft. Garland, Colorado
This is a true account of an end of life journey. A beautiful backyard Burial and all the steps that were taken in order to do it. This story is written in two parts, part two will be posted next week.
To give your bedroom a boost, consider new paint suited to your personality. AFM Safecoat's Ayurveda Essence line allows you to choose colors based on your dosha, or personality type, within Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicinal system.
How the small town atmosphere can enhance your homesteading and living.
Our area is abundant with history. We have a limber pine tree nearby that I estimate is over 2,100 years old and still very much alive. History - we have an abundance of it.
A heart warming story about a feral cat that traveled many miles across harsh terrain to be back to familiar ground.
This is a fun story about planting seeds for future generations and not recognizing a gift when it is blooming right in your face.
This is a fun story about planting seeds for future generations and not recognizing a gift when it is blooming right in your face.
So many paint colors to choose from for Simran Sethi’s home, but one standard must be met: no VOCs or harmful chemicals.
The forests in Colorado are dying at a fast rate. Find out what's to blame.