Instructions for building a cold smoker (and three other things you can do with steel oil drums).
Jim Oseychuk built this intricate garden shed for his wife and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
Using wood you’ve harvested to start creative wood projects is not impossible. Many sawyers have created beautiful wood structures made from lumber they’ve cut themselves.
Donn Saindon built this beautiful 1,200 square foot home from reclaimed wood and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
Joe Bonn built this impressive home in Colorado and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
Robert Craig built this 960 square foot barn in Oregon and won his category of the Wood-Mizer Personal Best contest.
If you want to learn how to paint your house without the help of professionals, this article from the archives is for you. Exterior home painting can be a snap with the right tools and information.
The Homestead Act of 1862 celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The Homestead National Monument is hosting several activities to recognize this historical event that resulted in millions of self-sufficient homesteaders receiving free land. Learn more and participate!
Radical homemaker Karen Keb introduces her new blog, which will cover topics as diverse as baking bread to raising livestock.
Building a pantry is a great way to store your groceries and home produce.
You can build a low-cost, squirrel-proof bird feeder using simple tools and inexpensive materials. All you need is some plastic drain pipe and caps, hardware cloth and a bit of wire (or a wire hanger). In no time at all, you’ll have all sorts of birds at the feeder — and the squirrels will be perplexed!
Instructables is a great website for finding DIY projects, and recently site administrators have reorganized the site to make it easier to find the project you're looking for.
Do you find yourself spelling out words to others, such as when you are spelling out your last name? Try out our Homesteading Alphabet to keep your listeners on their toes and your homesteader lifestyle a part of your daily routine in a whole new way.
Giving handmade gifts will save money while showing the recipient that you care. Homemade sugar scrub, rice pillows, glass magnets and iPod covers are all easy to make and exciting to receive. Spend time, not money, to give the perfect holiday or birthday gift.
For one week, BuildingGreen is offering a free download of an insulation guide, available with a 30-day trial of BuildingGreen Suite.
Four months or so after you made wine from summer’s fruit, it’s ready to go into bottles. More meticulous than romantic, the bottling process marks the start of the final wait until the wine is ready to drink.
Environmental journalist Simran Sethi spends her first night in her new home and reflects on the struggles and triumphs of the journey thus far.
Be aware: Living sustainably can be hindered by homeowner association rules.
One of the best ways to learn about green homes is to explore real-world examples--by touring homes or reading about them online. This article links to free online collections of case studies and in-depth profiles of green homes.
Are you a modern homesteader with pioneering women in your lineage? My great grandmothers were all pioneers, but our lives could not be more different.
There are some things that you just aren’t going to wash very often, like your curtains, couch cushions, and probably even your favorite jeans. To spare the air, concoct a simple essential oil-infused linen spray, and spritz away until your definition of what “clean” smells like shifts permanently.
It's time for our fourth-annual call for nominations for outstanding modern homesteaders! Organic gardeners, do-it-yourselfers and general self-sufficient gurus are being sought for the opportunity to be named as one of our 2015 Homesteaders of the Year.
An introduction to me, a home-schooled 11 year old.
For the fourth-annual MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year contest, we are asking for nominations of homestead hamlets — communities and neighbors working together to enable and practice sustainable living.
Do you know any modern homesteaders living a self-sufficient lifestyle? We want to know about them! Nominate a family, someone you know or even yourself to become one of our Homesteaders of the Year in 2012.
This blog post shares some of The Thyme Garden’s experience with growing hops for over 25 years. It includes history of hops, useful information about hops and how and where to grow them.
Farmer and HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates doesn't need a calling. He’s got plenty of other stuff to keep him busy in his small Missouri town.
Exploring preparing meals of only homegrown food.
Why do we believe that math must be done one workbook page at a time, at the kitchen table? Anyone who’s ever kept chickens can tell you all the math that can be found in the hen house.
Scott Davis’ “Solar Projects, Big and Small” video offers inspiration for both solar energy enthusiasts and folks who are just curious. Tips and advice pertaining to solar energy can be found at the Yahoo! group Simply Solar, and you can make your dream project a reality with Gary Reysa’s instructions.
Anyone can brew beer. Part 2 of Homebrewing for Beginners seeks to demystify the process of cooking the wort, fermentation, racking, and bottling.
Anyone can brew beer. The article seeks to demystify the process and help jump start brewing by breaking down the equipment, recipe, and ingredients. This is a 2-part blog post.
Assistant Editor Heidi Hunt checks in with a quick report about Nate Poell's presentation on homebrewing.
The discussion of home birth often revolves around the mother and the newborn baby. This blog post describes the experience through the eyes of the father, and the amazing respect for the family's midwife that came from the day of his son’s birth.
As the youngest member of a new local food producers and artisans cooperative, 11-year-old Grace is learning business skills while perfecting her artistic talents with homemade jewelry, pot holders and more.
Making cheese was nothing like I expected, but in the end, I was successful.
Pick something new to learn this year from Granny Miller’s list of 101 basic homesteading skills.
One of my earliest vivid childhood memories is sitting on my father’s lap as a young girl reading the magazine together in the 1980s and all throughout my childhood. He would read aloud while I studied the pictures of passive solar building, vegetable gardening, sheep shearing, building your own sugar shack and the beautiful array of topics which he read to me frequently. Those images, along with the camping trips in the mountains, the whitewater and canoeing excursions, and our family trip to Alaska, have been etched in the catacombs of my childhood memories and have sculpted the person I have grown to become.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS is seeking nominations of self-sufficient modern homesteaders for our 2013 Homesteaders of the Year awards.
HOMEGROWN blogger Dyan finally spots signs of spring on her Maine dairy farm, from sunrises to newborn goat kids to eggs of every shade. Lovely!
When her parents fall ill, Michelle takes a step back to care for them, to take stock of all she has learned from them, and to observe an early Thanksgiving.
When HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania mama Michelle Wire discovered a hidden treasure on her property, she found a new appreciation for her home along with it.
We learned a long time ago that we couldn’t attract an audience for our magazines unless we gave our readers tools they could use to improve the world personally. A backyard organic garden is the perfect symbol of positive vision and commitment.
At the Healthy Homes Conference in Denver today, I heard Home Depot Foundation CEO Fred Wacker say that the nonprofit sector is so far ahead of the profit sector in addressing healthy homes that it’s embarrassing for the profit sector.
I heard Ellen Tohn of Tohn Environmental Strategies say that the government will fund energy-efficiency updates in 1 million homes in the next year, making it paramount that energy workers understand healthy home principles. Poorly done house tightening could trap residents inside with contaminants and create hazards.
And I was pleased to hear health care pioneer Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, put quality housing in the same arena as diet, exercise and public policy as a key to achieving individual health. “If you don’t have healthy housing, I don’t care how many times you push away from the table or how far you walk, you’re not going to be healthy,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants, but have they thought about the wildlife that they will destroy along the way?
The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up 270 million acres of public domain land for settlement. The Homestead National Monument of America tells the stories of many of the people who claimed land and tried to "prove up" their claim.
HOMEGROWN.org unwraps its 2013 holiday gift guide, featuring lots of homemade presents, as well as a few stocking stuffers for under $20.
Marley Audio Electronics collection, which debuted last week, showcases premium, eco-conscious manufacturing and materials, including hemp.
Green is Universal and Etsy's The Art of Reuse Contest is a gold mine for DIY home project ideas. My favorite pays homage to Audrey Hepburn's ahead-of-its-time sofa made from an old clawfoot bathtub in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
The time for relaxing in the sun has arrived, and this homemade hammock tutorial will help you hang out in style.
We are collecting stories from our readers -- their older neighbors or relatives, too -- about self-sufficient homesteading and farming in the early 20th century. Read what we've found, and share your own story from yesteryear for modern homesteaders.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania homesteading mama Michelle takes a young woman under her wing for a first lesson in homemaking.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick recounts a poignant start to lambing season on Bittersweet Heritage Farm.
Western Missouri farmer Bryce Oates shares his thoughts on the USDA's once-in-five-years census.
Pennsylvania mama Michelle has finally found a homestead! Get her moving tips on take-back programs, packing mason jars, buying cheap appliances, and more.
West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates explains why he has a problem with putting farmers, among others, on pedestals.
Glimpse a view into the world of cordwood construction. This old-fashioned, natural building technique can inspire you to build an energy-efficient, mortgage-free house of your own.
Doug and Jennie Ostgaard designed and built a photovoltaic system for their home, a project they was completed in six months. DIY photovoltaic solar has many benefits, and they outline a few of them here.
Our humble abode begins to take shape.
Jeff and wife Kathy have lived off-grid since 2002. They strive to inform the public about ways to live inexpensively, and to further the principle of sustainability. Visit their website to learn more: www.naturalpower.weebly.com
At last, we construct the foundation.
Victoria Gazely considers her revitalized 650-square-foot homesteader’s cabin on 7 acres of fertile earth--purchased for $150--a blessing. “I absolutely love living here,” she says.
How to make your own homemade deodorant that really works!
The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall to create a barrier along the US-Mexico border. Although the wall will never completely stop illegal immigrants from coming into the country, it will risk the survival of animals and wildlife in the area.
The Department of Homeland Security continues to build a 670-mile-long wall along the US-Mexico border, despite petitions from the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club.
Building housing projects in developing regions is extremely rewarding, but also quite challenging. It’s prudent to draw ideas from as many resources as possible to improve the process. The following guidelines have proven effective.
Build this portable poultry pen in an afternoon using only simple hand tools. It’s just the right size for a small yard, but you’ll find lots of uses for it around the homestead, too.
Get our expert advice on homemade options for laundry soap.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares how she built a cheap greenhouse out of mostly scavenged materials - and how you can, too.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce shares 5 things to consider before starting a farmstead—not the least of which being winter.
Learn about using the Piteba to press your own homegrown oil.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and West Missourian Bryce Oates explains how he and his family survive summer on the farm. Two words: swimming pool.
Mother's Day was this past Sunday, so I felt it was appropriate to share two beautiful birth stories this week that were sent to me from two extraordinary and strong women. This first story, in two parts, is a story about a HBAMC.
My name is Antonette, and I am a new blogger here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Before I can blog my pregnancy journey for you all, I must first do something that has taken six years ... write the birth story of my son Baylin.
The birth story of Baby Oakley from my dear friend Suzann is an important one. Someimes things don't go as planned, but her story goes to show that an empowering birth is about trust, love, support and the power of choice.
On Mother's Day 2011, Brandy went in to labor with her fourth child. She was planning a HBAMC (Home Birth After Multiple C-Sections). She woke up that morning ready to bring her son into this world on her terms. This is Part 2 of her story.
October 6, 2010, at 11:04 am I said the three words I waited over four and a half years to say. I looked in to my newborn daughter’s eyes and said I DID IT! This is the VBAC homebirth story of my daughter Evangélina.
After many weeks of prodromal labor and a baby who kept momma on the edge by constantly changing position, Suzanne goes into labor with Baby O in a posterior position. Read Part 2 of Oakley's Birth Story.
I recently received a copy of the new book and pregnancy journal Sacred Pregnancy from author Anni Daulter. I was thrilled when Anni agreed to guest post this week for the blog on what makes a Sacred Pregnancy.
Have you ever let your imagination run wild and built a fanciful, unique … (spinning wheel, bat house, garden tool)
Kids love to build forts and space ships, and create secret places to dream and imagine.
Engaging in new projects around the house or yard can put us in unfamiliar territory where we might make mistakes that are potentially dangerous or just embarrassing.
Keeping your tools in good working order saves time and money.
Learn how to make giant bubbles like a professional bubble artist at home with this DIY video. Complete with a recipe to make a giant bubble wand and your own homemade soap solution, you’ll be ready to impress everyone on your street with human-sized bubbles.
The traditional potato stamp gets a makeover in this tutorial over how to use a spud to make a work of art (and gratitude).
We call our homestead Sunflower Farm and now we have the sign to show for it!
Since her first house move, MOTHER EARTH NEWS blogger Cathie Ackroyd, has become so very conscious of the impact we humans have had and are having on our planet’s environment and hoped to find a place to settle that would allow us to gain an element of self-sufficiency in a relatively car-free community.
While many of those visiting our Hostel are farmers and homesteaders themselves, some come from that “city culture” and seem to take their first hesitant steps outside of a flatly paved driveway when they arrive at our place. Wide eyes, a sense of adventure.
I wanted a DIY natural cleaner for stainless steel appliances, because I don't use all those terrible chemical-filled products that I was tricked into buying 10 years ago. How do I clean without the name brand products that promise to make life easy and clean your stainless steel products? Let me tell you my secret.
Jim and Julie are starting their homestead in Texas while still living in Australia. Managing the project by remote control is the challenge, and they are learning as they go. This is an adventure of faith and confidence.
Prefab is so much more than mobile homes! Explore your options for manufactured homes, modular homes and panelized homes made of wood, steel or insulated concrete.
Haven't made any New Year's resolutions yet? No worries. HOMEGROWN.org has you covered with 10 ways to change the world in 2014, starting in your own backyard.
Some of the best recipes are never written down. Thankfully, Rachel's mom recently transcribed her own grandmother's onion-celery dressing recipe. Lucky for us, Rachel shares it here. Pass it along!
Homesteading with dogs in remote mountain living. Considerations in providing a good safe homestead environment for your cherished pets.
These cheap and easy homemade baby wipes will make your baby’s bottom and your pocketbook healthy and happy.
This morning in my inbox: Orlando Bloom announced at Wednesday night’s Global Green pre-Oscars party that he’s building a green, solar-powered home in London. And an RISMedia report stating that despite the downturn in the general housing market, demand for green homes continues to be a hot trend.
In 45 years, Deltec Homes have never lost a house to high winds.
Did you buy or build a home without going into debt? We're looking for stories on homes built with a small mortgage, or no mortgage at all. Here's what we want to know.
The $300 House Project challenges student and professional designers to create housing that shelters the poorest of the poor with safety and dignity. Winners will receive cash prizes and the opportunity to see their $300 houses built and reproduced.
Have you ever wondered how to make reusable bags to take to the market? They’re easier to fashion than you might think, and you can work with all sorts of materials! See how to melt used-plastic sacks to make a new plastic bag or upcycle a T-shirt into a bag suitable for market. Newspapers make a chic and sophistocated basket perfect for carrying fruits or produce. Upcycling is good for the environment and makes for stylish shopping, too!
Many years ago, years before I moved to the country, I was what would be considered "a prepper." I saw disaster every time I turned on the TV, or read the news on the internet, or visited forums that talked about stockpiling beans and bullets. I panicked, thinking I could never have enough control for the sake of my family, never be "prepped" enough.
The place I call home these days is The FarmSchool, a fertile 180-acre strip of ridge top in Athol, where 15 student-farmers are spending a year learning the ins and outs of growing food, managing forests, and raising animals for meat. I arrived at the farm in October, just as the leaves were reaching their peak brilliance. The Farm School — which offers three-day programs for schoolchildren, a summer camp, a full-time middle school, and the apprenticeship program I’m in — takes us through all seasons of farming, weaving together class work and on-farm training.
Here are some resources where you can learn more about how a scythe can be useful on your homestead.
The new metal roof was nailed down just hours before the storm hit.
Our Rural Property for Sale site helps you search for a sweet spot to put your future homestead, with handy filters to help you find just what you're looking for more easily.
This grandparents’ homestead housed a number of generations and everyone participated in daily chores such as pumping water for baths, melting lard for bread, and using cloth flour bags to make curtains, blankets and dresses.
If you have a lot of excess scrap paper like I do, it’s time to put that waste to better use. Read this do-it-yourself article about how to make your own homemade, recycled paper, and then get to work turning trash into treasure.
From pig to plate, learn how to make homemade sausage patties grandma’s way and use rendered fat for more cooking.
Small towns across the country in need of a population boost are literally giving away free land to attract new residents and boost their populations. Seekers of the quiet (and low-cost) small town lifestyle can now grab some free land to build their homes.
The NH Permaculture Gathering is just a couple weeks away!
You can easily make homemade mozzarella in 30 minutes or less!
Builders and designers believe that low-e windows, engineered wood products and eat-in kitchens will be key characteristics of new homes in the future.
In the final chapter of this five-part series, Lyn Fenwick finds the country cemetery that Isaac was burried in and pays her respects to the author of a treasured family heirloom, a 19th century homesteaders journal.
HOMEGROWN blogger and homesteading mama Michelle explains why road trips are worth packing 3 kids, 2 adults, and 2 dogs in a camper for weeks on end.
In the wake of the summer solstice, HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan takes time to appreciate the longest days of the year.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel recounts how she went from half-hearted to full-breed-ahead when it comes to breeding goats.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick honors the determination of women farmers, even as she observes a bittersweet month on her farm.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates discusses why his family works so hard—both on and off of the farm—to practice subsistence farming.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel discusses using manure in the garden, including which type of animal waste is best for which crops.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm covers the essentials of how to can safely.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan reflects on the changes that arrive with fall, including her own sense of melancholy.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Missouri farmer Bryce Oates shares why he values reading (Eliot Coleman, especially) and how it impacts his fall growing season.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and homesteader Rachel, of the Bay Area's Dog Island Farm, shares her method for cooking the very best Thanksgiving turkey ever.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates shares his approach to improving soil health and preparing a soil microbe brew.
HOMEGROWN.org blogger and West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates shares his thoughtful position on vegetarianism.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Michelle Wire explains how homestead parenting works in her house, where sons and daughters learn the same skills.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Dyan Redick considers how inextricably the lives of farmers and fishermen are intertwined in her coastal Maine town.
Homegrown.org blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm shares tips for deciding which seeds to order — in other words, which vegetable varieties to grow.
Facing massive snow drifts, HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan Redick forges a new path to her barn and finds inspiration in the process.
HOMEGROWN blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel outlines strategies for responsible drought gardening in her home state of California--or anywhere.
Cobbler is not the only solution to a bumper crop of berries. If you can boil water, you can turn the juice from big-flavor berries into tasty beverages that are naturally rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Make extra juice to freeze or can for year-round enjoyment.
There's no need to be afraid of canning. With basic skills a cook can safely prepare and process excess produce during the summer and have a ready supply all winter. An easy way to start is with dill pickles, with extras like garlic and hot peppers.
This blog post describes the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff's afternoon spent harvesting their homegrown garlic.
An introduction to my current pregnancy with Baby #3 and plans for a second homebirth. Details of my seventh month and thoughts on the gender of our baby.
A Birth Altar is a space that will become a power symbol of one's birth. I have begun creating my birth space and bringing together objects that will become my collection of strength during my home birth.
Existing homes that are certified as “green” sold for 30 percent more than homes without such a designation, according to an analysis of the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan region released today by Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building resource. Newly constructed homes with a sustainability certification sold for 8 percent more than non-certified homes.
This result continues a four-year trend in which new homes with third-party certification for sustainable construction and energy performance have consistently sold for more than newly constructed homes that had not been certified. The term "certified home" includes homes that received an Earth Advantage New Homes, ENERGY STAR, or a LEED for Homes designation, or a combined Earth Advantage/ENERGY STAR certification.
Forced to extremes by illness, these homeowners built sacred, beautiful homes completely free of toxic chemicals, petrochemical fumes and other poisons. For all three, better housing has meant better health.
A listing of companies that offer green dwellings in the form of modular, prefab, manufactured, compact, or mobile structures. These days, many such options are available that are not only green, but also beautiful, well-made, and often low-cost.
This is a summary of our attendance at the IBS show in Jan. Also a re-cap of Jan events and our transistion into the construction phase of the project. We also talk about the decision for the competiton to be moved off the Nationa Mall in DC
Kathy Bennett and Scott Bergford will present workshops on raising sheep and keeping your green home safe at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
James Zitting of Bee Landing and Terry Phelan of Living Shelter Design Architects will present workshops on beekeeping and straw bale building at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Learn the basic skills useful for mountain homesteading.
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).
This soft, tangy sourdough oatmeal bread may just be the best you’ve ever tasted.
Make a delicious homemade bread with this easy tutorial.
Homemade vodka is easy to make and tastes great. Stay tuned — MOTHER EARTH NEWS has an article coming up next year about Artisan Alcohol Distilling.
This traditional recipe for Potatiskorv, or Swedish potato sausage, is delicious, simple and hearty.
Make you own inexpensive, pampering - and edible - homemade face mask with this simple recipe. Enjoy!
Use your extra screwdriver bits to build stubby screwdrivers suitable for small spaces.
This low-cost, easy-to-assemble fire pit from Instructables is made with concrete tree rings and rocks. Just add a grill and you've got the perfect backyard hangout, all for around $50.
Crafting laundry detergent saves time, money and lightens your environmental footprint. Plus it’s simple!
Reuse various household materials to make a functional cheese press.
Build a simple backyard barbecue pit with no more than a shovel and a good cover panel for your next barbecue party.
Use old CDs and soda cans to keep pests out of your garden.
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a commercial recumbent bicycle when you can make your own out of parts of recycled bikes?
Finding the perfect desk with just the right amount of work space can be a hassle and a financial drain. Build your own desk with this do-it-yourself tutorial, and you’ll have room for your computer, notebooks, phone, printer and any other work-time necessities, and you’ll save some serious cash in the process.
How-to online videos are a valuable resource for any do-it-yourselfer. But there are a lot of videos out there, so we’ve picked noteworthy ones and provided a few links to help you find more in the future. From building a workbench to changing your car’s oil, these engaging and instructive videos will inspire you to start a fun, new DIY project.
Ben Cartwright of Lawrence, Kan., is working on a book project about the city of Tianjin, China, where he worked and lived for several months, and he needs your help.
Borrowing from a Native American tradition, utilize porcupine quills to make beautiful beads.
Recycling building materials from other sources is a great way to cut the cost and reduce the environmental impact of your DIY projects. We want to know where readers go to find reclaimed or used building materials, and how they use these materials in home projects.
Who knew that making a soda so delicious was so darn easy?! This office experiment is our most rewarding yet. I mean, Marlin is cool with his aquaponic system and all, but I definitely don’t want to drink fish water. (See aquaponic blog.) Our ginger beer is so refreshing, surprisingly effervescent and just plain awesome! So you’d like to know how to make it yourself, right? Well, I will gladly share the steps and recipe with you.
Where we find a wealth of information for projects and enjoyable reading.
There are many ways we can conserve energy, and be more eco-friendly, especially with the advancements that technology is making every day.
One of the nation's largest home developers announces it will offer solar arrays as standard features on new homes in California.
A lookout tower home, which features reclaimed materials, connects its homeowner with her past, present and future.
The bleeding edge of technology is where the true pioneers of their respective industry reside. Adam D. Bearup has had his own impact in the green building field on several fronts, above and below ground.
Any net zero-energy home needs two things. The first is the sun, providing passive solar energy. The second necessity is retaining maximum heat.
Living luxuriously doesn’t necessarily mean living large — at least not in these homes — and reducing a little waste doesn’t hurt, either.
Most of us would love to live in energy-efficient homes that are good for the environment and have low, low energy bills. But what are the best real options available? How do you create an extremely energy-efficient home that’s still affordable for most people?
Welcome back to "Unplugging to Reconnect." In this post, we continue to explore key financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle, all based on the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally executed in my family's ongoing transition. The specific focus of this entry is on the need for flexible income streams, particularly ones that offer money-saving benefits in addition to pay, while in between the old and new lifestyles.
To build a net zero energy home, you'll need to design for passive gain. That requires a shallower footprint to ensure that the low-angled winter sun can enter and heat each room.
Insulation under the slab -- and lots of it -- is vital for the performance of a net zero energy home. So is the footprint. You can make the most of passive solar by creating a longer, narrower house in which each room is heated by the sun.
Be sure to install under-the-footing conduit to run electrical and water pipes, including sewer. I like to run pipes and wire under the foot to prevent penetrating the band joist or the foundation to create a more airtight, water tight home.
Don't forget to budget in the cost of deeper excavation and add $1000 to $2000 as a budget contingecy in case you run into bedrock.
Insulating concrete forms are an excellent choice for foundations for passive solar, net zero energy homes. They create a highly insulated, air-tight foundation, so essential for extremely high energy performance.
ICFs are not the most environmentally friendly green building product, but result in super energy efficient home, and offer many other benefits, that offset their origin from petrochemicals.
ICF walls must be carefully braced to prevent blowout.
Creating a net zero energy home requires that we eliminate all thermal bridging loss -- heat movement into and out of a building. All this starts in the basement.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm shares how to install drip irrigation in your home garden.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan learns that giving up control, whether over a mischievous flock or a single lamb, can have its own rewards.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Michelle's annual road trips out west renew her love for the heartland and the American farmer.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania homesteading mama Michelle reflects on how she lost the Christmas spirit of her youth — and how she got it back.
Looking for land? HOMEGROWN.org blogger Michelle Wire shares resources and practical advice for anyone considering buying a homestead.
HOMEGROWN.org blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm says keeping animals in the garden improves her soil and fights weeds and pests.
A few hundred protestors from across the country arrived at the White House last month, the culmination of the two-week GMO Right2Know March that began in New York City on October 1. (Congratulations all you brave marchers - my feet ache just thinkin
Going camping, hiking, or canoeing this summer? HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares a big-batch granola recipe that will feed your entire group—or one hungry teen.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Rachel, of Dog Island Farm, argues in favor of her favorite chicken breed, the Buckeye.
Coming back to agriculture and the farming life, I think every farmer should spend time as a fisherperson. If that were the case, I have a hard time believing Industrial Agriculture would have ever taken its foothold. Manure runs downhill as they say
As the economy improves, the trend toward smaller homes is reversing.
As Passive House Institute standards up the ante, USA Today’s “Best Green Homes of 2010” list reflects Americans’ desire for affordability, efficiency and style.
Homestead skills of yogurt-making and bread-baking increase your independence from grocery store aisles and international food conglomerates.
Katie and Martin Clemons are resetting their priorities as they settle happily into a 480-square-foot apartment in Berlin. “Living smaller has taught us to live more simply,” Katie says. They bike more, shower less and enjoy their good life.
Looking for a great home metalworking project? Follow these DIY patio furniture instructions to build scrap-metal furniture for your patio.
Curing your own bacon is so simple that anyone can do it. Here's how to do so, complete with recipe and step-by-step.
Clipping the wing of a troublesome hen and tasting the first Chicago hardy figs was really great, but what was even more fantastic was seeing Anna's new book arrive and how beautiful it looks.
Docking of dairy cows serves no purpose and causes pain and discomfort for the
To me, the most important features of a sustainable building are not its technological wonders but its simple design features: common-sense strategies that should be incorporated whether the building becomes LEED certified, Energy Star certified, or is just trying to be environmentally friendly.
Our striving to live frugally, monetary so, affects our everyday life choices. We choose to live without a lot of things that cost money. We make most of the cash we do need by running the Hostel in the summer months.
FamilyFarmed.org Good Food Festival & Conference partner Vicki Nowicki shares her experience living, learning, and teaching on her suburban permaculture homestead.
There are a lot of things you can do right now to experience the homestead lifestyle right in your backyard.
Watch Steve tell you his homestead story and how his two trucks have helped make good things happen.
Chainsaw safety equipment.
Stay warm, find a hobby and cull the livestock; here are some of the things we do to prepare for winter!
Using rabbit hypnosis and a pair of wire cutters we successfully perform dental surgery on one of our does.
Providing your own sewer, water and power can be more expensive and is certainly less convenient but that's not all there is to consider. This article takes a look at some of the other differences between public and private services.
A rundown of activities you can do in the winter to improve your homestead.
After many months of preparation and planning, we are very excited to be starting to build our homestead - a barndominium. The first stage is to get a good solid foundation so our new homestead will be solid for today and future generations.
On what will probably be the last trip to Chateau Christie as Australians, we are trying to get the property to a livable stage - completing the electrical and plumbing and getting things ready for an inspection so we can sheetrock and finish.
The building of the barndominium is in high gear. After all of the ground work, the slab is poured, cured and the steel framework of the barndominium is erected in one day. With the progress, there were a few problems but quickly solved.
Expense checklist for anyone wanting to plan a new homestead.
Outlining our process for locating a suitable location for finding a new homestead.
As we look into the future we prepare for a flatter terrain for a new homestead.
Homesteads and farms often have fun or touching
names that etch themselves into our memories. Is there one that has stuck in
How we approached buying our property, clearing and selecting a home site.
Fun is where you find it, in this case it is a hay ride for the family along our trail.
Jonathan Sadowski shares what motivates him to be a bread baker. He then provides a preview of what to expect from his future posts.
You can create refreshing-flavored waters and sodas right from your backyard. Homemade waters and sodas are easy, cost effective and healthy.
Ten easy holiday pantry gifts that you can make at the last minute.
This recipe will have naan on your table in no time to accompany your Indian dishes, and it will provide a quick and easy snack in a pinch.
This recipe provides delicious bread with minimal time commitment and plenty of room to explore the wonders of homemade bread.
This heavy artisan bread is full of flavor, and will be ready by dinnertime if you start right now! The unexpected flavor comes from good quality honey olive oil and barley flour.
Take control of your food with a return to the kitchen, and learn to love the time you spend there cooking with your family.
You can save money and improve your helaht by making more foods from scratch in your own kitchen. Sign on for October Unprocessed, and kick the processed food habit for one full month (at least for starters!). Check out some deliciously simple recipes to get you started.
I used my homemade ricotta cheese in a number of ways, the best was in a pumpkin lasagna dish we shared with my family at Christmas dinner.
Ten easy-to-make homemade soup recipes from Eating Well magazine that are suitable for any occasion.
Drop store bought mayonnaise like a bad habit. Make your own with only five simple ingredients, under 5 minutes.
Check out this delicious, refreshing treat that comes in handy when there are too many blueberries to know what to do with.
Reclaim the joy of the holiday season with homemade gifts that aren't too late to make.
This simple DIY project is a great way to display this seasons' holiday greetings, or to keep your mail organized. The materials are free or low-cost, depending on what’s in your recycling bin and craft or junk drawer!
Learn whether you need to locate a butter churn for making homemade butter.
Jessica Kellner, managing editor with Natural Home magazine, talks with Deborah Niemann-Boehle about how easy it is to make bread at home.
Learn how to make a pinwheel for a fun, outdoors toy.
In this blog, I describe two of the first and most important design considerations -- the length and depth of the home and the layout of rooms for optimum passive solar gain.
Dan Chiras talks about the benefits of passive solar design.
Dan Chiras discusses the long-term benefits of building a green home.
Learn more about the life and work of Malcolm Wells, the "Father of Earth Sheltered Design."
Learn about the different types of earth-sheltered homes and why you should consider digging in the ground to find your next residence.
A progress update on our book Tiny Homes On the Move
If you are hoping to build a new home or weekend cottage, we would appreciate your participation in this short survey, which will gauge your interest in a variety of possible kit home features.
Lloyd meditates on the essentials of shelter and our memories of home.
A new Environmental Protection Agency website helps homeowners and renters decrease their energy consumption and cut carbon emissions.
Information about energy-efficient washing machines and cellular window shades. These energy-efficient appliances and window shades will please environmentally conscious consumers.
Offering paint that saves the rain forest and a full list of ingredients, this natural finishes start-up aims to change the industry. Unearthed is making a bold move by providing full ingredient disclosure for all of its products.
More than 30 years ago, Michael Reynolds followed his vision of sustainable, energy-efficient homes that would work with nature. Today, his Earthships inspire green designers and architects.
Building homes using dangerous and impactful industrial chemicals--in the name of energy efficiency--is not sustainable or ecological, a green building veteran says. His Health-Based Building model is an important step forward for green design.
Learn how to assemble a humane animal trap out of recycled material. It’s easy and effective!
Gather a few pallets and get geared up to make your very own spacious rabbit hutch with just a few supplies for under $25 dollars!
Wintertime for a farmer is full of projects and planning.
Need to get your kids out of the house? Learn how to build your own playground and give them a convenient place for outdoor playtime.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious award for grassroots environmentalists. This year’s six inspiring prize winners (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are...
Learn about the many kitchen and community projects supported by SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education), including the training necessary to be able to sell value-added food products at markets.
A report from economic analyst Mark Cooper shows that continuing nuclear power projects in the Southeast will only produce billions of dollars in excess costs.
Portland is the nation's most bike-friendly city, yet this Oregon community has had to deal with cycling disparities among its population. One nonprofit organization addressed this issue by developing new programs targeting low-income immigrant communities.
You can upcycle (make crafts from recycled materials) to beautifuly and simplify your world! Have a few old T-shirts that are past their prime? Make them into a rosette pillow! Use homemade recycled paper to send friends and family chic, personalized greetings cards. Overrun with stuff to recycle? Transform tin can lids into a melodious windchime! Have fun and get creative turning your old stuff into treasures!
Kids get to have fun, learn about gardneing and start veggie seeds at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Puyallup, Wash.
Using natural products, such as grass clippings and homemade organic fertilizer, can turn the worst clay soil into an acceptable growing medium.
Creating new no-dig garden beds is easier and quicker with raised-bed stakes and two-by-six lumber.
This historical neighborhood, with a strong sense of community, offers the feeling of small-town living.
For inspiration and education, take some time to peruse the hundreds of Modern Homesteading a