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So you finally took the leap and installed a home wind turbine. Congratulations! You’ve just taken a big step to make your home energy generation more sustainable and secure, but what comes next? Wind turbines require maintenance and this post will outline some wind turbine maintenance essentials to consider.
Homesteading in the mountains can be inconvenient, dangerous, challenging and lots of hard work.
Living in the country often makes it difficult to access reliable, fast Internet services. One couple searched through their rural Internet options after moving to property outside of town.
This is part three in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.
Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate, all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.
This buttery cream cheese is exceptionally easy and takes no cooking.
Discussions about solar value are often limited to avoiding electricity costs, and oftentimes neglect the additional market value that these “mini power plants” can add to your home. EnergySage and Sandia National Laboratories conducted an analysis to estimate solar market values in 15 cities across the United States.
Don't fall into the "greenwashing" trap when buying a new home. Gain tips on how to avoid it and insight into how one website is trying to safeguard against the real estate practice.
Death on a farm is unavoidable as life itself. These stories share lessons learned, words of wisdom and how a farmer can prepare for the inevitable when raising livestock.
There are five main areas of the home responsible for wasting the most energy. At the top of that list is windows, and one of the most effective ways to decrease your home’s carbon footprint is by replacing old, drafty windows with new, air-tight Energy Star-qualified windows.
Now that this couple has moved into their new country home, they take time to plant garlic and a small fall garden in their “front yard.” One small step toward an established homestead, one giant leap for family morale!
Dairy animals such as goats produce milk in a seasonal cycle, requiring homesteaders to handle both an abundance and shortage of milk during the year. Freezing milk directly, and making & preserving cheese, are two ways to ensure a reliable supply of dairy year-round. Allowing your diet to change with the seasons can also reduce the impact of low-milk periods, replacing its nutrition with food crops or meat when milk isn’t convenient to produce.
These homemade syrups and natural sweeteners offer a DIY way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This is Part 2 in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. The author is currently entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at his mountain homestead after completing the construction of a small house.
Kefir culture can be used to start a broad range of dairy ferments. This recipe shows how kefir grains will culture cream into delicious creme fraiche - a tasty, healthy alternative to whipped cream. Part 2 of a series of articles explaining how to use traditional cultures for cheesemaking.
This green homes blog post describes energy-efficient, fiberglass windows and the impact they have on energy costs in your home.
A 3-step decoupage project to transform a plain lamp shade into a stunning statement piece.
Does solar energy make financial sense for you? Have a look at these considerations before deciding.
As part of their Americorps positions at Big Laurel in West Virginia, for the next 11 months, the author and her husband will be living in and maintaining an historic homestead, working in the local schools as teacher aids, and doing whatever they can on the premises of Big Laurel to help further its mission as an Appalachian ecological learning and retreat center.
This is the first of a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable old-school techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small home.
Abundant Fields Farm is receiving the support of a business incubator process in much the same way other types of start-up businesses do. Sharing infrastructure with other beginning farmers helps make success possible.
Take notice of your environmental footprint over the festive period and follow our guide for a greener Christmas.
One couple is raising hogs to “till” and fertilize their future garden space, as well as produce healthy meat and lard.
One couple has finally moved to the country, with the hope that they’ll soon be eating a lot of homegrown peaches from their yet-to-be-planted orchard. The homestead dream continues, with this story of a successfully organized moving and unpacking experience — and beginning a lifetime of enjoying full view of the sunset from the back porch.
Dream big, build a small house or make home improvements, and enjoy the benefit of every task when you tap into your Zen of Building.
Are you thinking about building a cordwood home or cottage, but are not quite sure if it's worth all the effort? Why not first spend some time in a cordwood home? There are several places where you can enjoy vacation time in a Cordwood Bed and Breakfast.
A young couple left behind their corporate jobs and purchased land in Idaho. They’re living on their homestead in a travel trailer while they build their home.
If you’re reviewing multiple quotes for solar power, there are plenty of metrics that can help you make a decision about which solar option is best for you, but studies show most solar shoppers rely on one metric in particular: the solar panel payback period.
Aloe may be best known for its use as a natural treatment for sunburns, but the benefits of aloe extend far beyond helping your skin heal. Learn how aloe can help keep your heart, teeth, digestive tract, and more healthy.
After drilling a well and hooking up the pressure tank, whole-house filter and water softener, one couple covers the steps in having the health department come and test well water for bacteria to ensure the well water is safe to drink.
"Mastering Basic Cheesemaking" is the latest book from author and cheesemaking expert Gianaclis Caldwell. A follow-up to "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking," Caldwell’s latest book is for those who are just getting started making cheese.
Serenity Goats has discovered a sustainable farm revenue stream in creating and selling goat's milk goats. Follow the farm's path from the USDA grant in 2014 to the finished product 18 months later.
This post tells the story of how one couple seeded a buffalo grass lawn and began planting native grasses and wildflowers around their property. They started by seeding the open soil that was moved and exposed during the construction of their new country home.
Getting ready to sell your honey and other products of the hive at a fair or festival? Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss how to make the day of the event both enjoyable and successful.
A young couple from Oregon leaves behind their corporate jobs and life in the city to move to a remote location in Idaho and start an off-grid homestead.
With minor, common injuries, you’ll likely be able to care for the wound yourself. These simple guidelines will help you to be better prepared next time you or someone around you gets a cut.
Polyface Farm Apprentice Tim Rohrer encourages homesteaders and farmers to try and define clear goals for their farm. By determining clear goals, a farmer is better able to go about furthering her farming adventure.
One couple set out to build a green home that incorporated sustainable materials and relied on the expertise of local businesses. This post highlights photos of a few of those features as the house-building process comes to a close.
Estimating the work load and minimizing re-work is the key to happy owner-builders of small homes. The basic steps are similar wither you build a straw-bale, stick-frame, or masonry structure, all must be completed within the relatively short building season.
One couple explains how their well water will flow into the house they are building. They review the water’s path through a water pressure tank, whole-house water filter and water softener. This post highlights the differences between this water-well setup and a house that gets its water from a city or rural water system.
Net-zero homes are very popular. What are they and how do you get one? Here are some tips.
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.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the amount of energy lost annually through windows costs consumers $35 billion. Heat loss and heat gain through and around windows accounts for between 10 and 25 percent of our heating and air conditioning usage, the largest consumer of energy in a modern home. Here are some ways to make sure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible.
Air compressors can be used for just about anything on your homestead but they don’t have the best reputation for going green. Here’s what you need to know. These valuable machines are used in many factories, small businesses and even in homes, and making sure yours is efficient can cut down on emissions and your energy bills at the same time.
While building a house on rural property, this couple explores the native wildflowers and prairie grass on their land. They plan to nurture the native species already taking hold, and in future years, do all they can to spread their growth.
The first question on the path to creating a sustainable homestead is: Where should I live? Find out how population and topography characterize a town and use a simple method to map your region and locate and research the right-sized town for your home.
Learn ten step to raising calves so that they will grow to become tame, calm and well-mannered cows. Steve Judge, a long-time micro dairy farmer takes us through the steps he follows on his farm.
Discover how to expand your olfactory palate to be able to determine qualitative differences between essential oils and learn what all the terms used in the marketing of essential oils mean. Feel more empowered in choosing a supplier and learn key elements to look for when making that decision.
Kefir (rhymes with deer) is a traditional yogurt culture from Central Asia. Often described as a fermented milk, kefir is a flavorful, drinkable and slightly effervescent yogurt.
This is the first post in a three-part series on how a water well works, as experienced by couple building a new home in the country. This initial post focuses on the initial decision to drill a water well, the installation process, and their maintenance plan to keep their well safe.
Where could you start your cheese making journey? Well, why not try something like Feta cheese? With minimal stirring after cutting the curd, and a pressing of only 4 hours, this cheese is an excellent place to start cheese making.
While not the most glamorous topic, building a house in the country usually includes a septic system installation. The tank, pipes and lateral lines were all laid out, approved and buried at one couple’s home-construction site last week. Read how the process went, find out how a septic system works, and check out the photos.
Have you thought about selling your extra honey and beeswax products at a fair or festival? In Part 2 of a three-part series, Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss steps you can take to make your first fair or festival a success.
Resiliency education, if it is to be effective, should reach the masses and this poses the most difficult challenges in an urban setting. The Homestead Atlanta is a folk school dedicated to empowering communities in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. Workshops include useful heritage crafts and new age sustainability innovations to offer a curriculum designed to integrate fruitful skills into the everyday.
When I first started gardening in this place, I was surveying my four by ten raised bed of greens with pride one afternoon. “You really are a farmer, not a gardener,” a friend observed. Take this short quiz to see if you are a gardener or have slid into the realm of "urban farmer."
Dogs may have had nothing to do with the naming of the season, but they, like us, will most likely desire some respite from the heat. Here are several cooling herbal recipes for your furry friends to try at home!
By composting meat, vegetables, paper and all organic material in your trash, you can reduce waste by more than 50 percent!
When putting in a greywater system, consider how you’ll reuse the water carefully. One couple settles on an underground release system that will irrigate the roots of their future orchard’s trees.
These Lincoln, Nebraska, neighbors put self-reliance to work in their neighborhood.
Polyface has an “Unfair Advantage," but the good news is that you do, too! Here, Tim shares his thoughts on how your Unfair Advantage sets you apart from the crowd and bestows gifts on you that you can turn into success. The trick is learning to utilize your own Unfair Advantage.
Tiny homes are becoming more and more popular throughout the United States. This article explains why tiny homes are inherently green and offers an example of Anita’s 248-square-foot Lilypad Tiny Home, decked out with green appliances and sustainable materials.
HOMEGROWN Life contributor Rachel recounts a kidding season full of problems.
Building a new home with energy-efficient appliances and water-conserving features is now pretty easy. One home-building couple relates how simple these options were to find, thanks to the EPA’s appliance and plumbing labels.
Designing a tiny home can seem like a Rubik’s cube challenge—finding ways to shift things around when needed and out-of-the-way when done. Find out how to integrate inside/outside rooms, single/multiple rooms, and built-ins and fold-outs into your tiny house design; plus learn about the “14 Basic Requirements of a Livable Home.”
Who would have thought that making your own cheese at home could be so much fun? I have produced cheese as a hobby regularly since 2009, so I thought it would be practical to share with some valuable tips that I have learned along the way.
The trials and tribulations of our life on a cooperative living farm quite frequently mirror those of any small group of young Americans finding their way in the world, however, for me, there are daily reminders of why I am sticking with these crazy idealists in Appalachia.
For a new house being built in northeastern Kansas, a mix of spray foam insulation and batt insulation will provide an R-value that will help the home owners efficiently heat and cool their new space.
A damaged roof or a roof over 20 years old may need to be replaced. When doing so, there are several environmentally-friendly options to consider.
Have you thought about selling your extra honey and beeswax products at a fair or festival? In Part 1 of a three-part series, Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will discuss how to get started in selling your products of the hive.
Don’t let a toenail infection get the best of you; try these easy and effective home remedies for toenail fungus that will help you get your nails back to normal.
Eco-friendly rugs can be found both indoors and outside but it's important to know the differences and the attributes that make outdoor rugs "green". Here are some of the best options for eco-friendly outdoor rugs.
A lot of progress has been made on one couple's home construction. This post showcases some photos of the progress and highlights some special features being built into the house.
Finally, the freedom to earn from our home kitchens. In 42 states (and counting), home cooks can now sell to their neighbors and community certain "non-hazardous" food products made in their home kitchen, often with very few regulations or governmental entanglements.
Bamboo is frequently touted as one of the best green options. Here are the pros and cons, and what certification organizations say about its sustainability.
When one home-building couple first started looking for sustainable countertop materials, they were focused on options made with recycled materials. In their quest for the perfect tops, they stumbled upon a more cost-effective way to incorporate recycled countertops into their home’s design.
To make potent extractions of the medicinal properties from plants growing nearby, you can easily learn to make your own tinctures and infusions. Alcohol-based tinctures are often used for acute or specific concerns, while water-based infusions are strong, medicinal teas which gently strengthen the body over time.
This short tutorial shows a different way of using a chainsaw to cut wood.
You do not have to have “land” to farm. You can farm where ever you are. A 10th of an acre is enough and, on some days, more than you would want to can handle. Make the best use of your space, care for your soil, be thrifty with water and enjoy the garden and the fruits of your labor.
HOMEGROWN Life contributor Bryce contemplates the future of agriculture, food production, and their corresponding technological developments.
Two Great Pyrenees dogs have drastically improved a Kansas sheep flock’s safety, while creating lasting bonds and deep trust.
After looking through many sustainable floor materials for their new home, one couple settles on bamboo flooring for the majority of their living space. As with many house-building choices, finding a truly green bamboo floor requires a little product research.
Even though our goal is to be completely self-sufficient, one thing that I stress is that you don't have to be completely self-sufficient — just make it your goal to become more self-sufficient than you are right now. This blog will help people become more self-sufficient by leading by example, right or wrong. Here is your official invitation: Please come and join us!
Whether your windows are fixed or operable, crank or double-hung, or come with a low-emissivity glazing all make a difference in how well the windows perform in an efficient, passive solar home.
One of the largest energy expenses in a typical home is its water heater. Here are some ways to assess the efficiency of your water heater and decide whether a replacement is needed and if so, what type it should be.
Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.
Choosing a countertop for a kitchen remodel involves many considerations. One of the most important considerations is eco-friendliness. Here are some of the best eco-friendly countertop options available on the market today.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Rachel of Dog Island Farm shares a great tip for growing the most tender celery in your own backyard.
People who decide to leave the rat race to move toward full-time homesteading or farming face a unique set of challenges. Homesteaders must accept certain sacrifices their peers will never face. This post explores some of these issues, as seen in the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally experienced in my family's ongoing transition.
Planning a custom kitchen design that incorporates sustainable materials and supports a self-reliant lifestyle can be done. Read one couple’s experience and thought process as they do just that. The graphic shown here is a computer-generated draft modeling of the cabinet design for their future kitchen, but note that the colors and materials do not reflect what will be the final look.
Even with minimal building capability, you can learn how to make light fixtures from old metal chicken feeders. The feeders may be hard to come by, but if you know someone that has been in the commercial chicken-raising business, then you can likely find some in their used feeder pile. The total cost per light was $19.32.
Imagine being able to turn dead tree branches from your own property into motor fuel. Make power just about anywhere, at any time...for free. Sounds futuristic, right? Fuel your back-up electrical generator with wood gas and save a trip to town. Learn build tricks from a pro for a reliable system on a DIY budget.
As more people choose to reduce their energy consumption and buy newer, energy-saving light bulbs, more incandescents are disposed of. Divert incandescent light bulb waste by hosting a terrarium-making workshop, where students can up-cycle their incandescents into something new: mini terrariums! This post will show you how.
An eco-friendly and also budget-friendly way to search for a new rug can actually be very simple: the search can start right at home. Here is a way to re-purpose an old tablecloth into a new rug.
A home-construction timeline is often a moving target: Rain, subcontractor schedules and various other conflicts can cause frustrating delays. One couple finds ways to cope with record rainfall that halted progress on their home-building process by working ahead on other decisions they’ll eventually need to make.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to make an article of clothing from seed to finished product? I have. Check out my homegrown, handspun, handwoven, naturally-colored cotton vest.
In order to save money, water and energy, one couple is building a new home that will incorporate a simple, gravity-run, household greywater system to divert and collect greywater, as well as rainwater from their roof, for landscape use.
Ever thought about designing and building your own space? Darles Eaton will walk you through thoughful design, best materials and lessons learned.
The previous entry provided a run-through of the basic wind turbine terms. Here, we’ll cover the tower, the unsung hero of small wind turbine energy production.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates reflects on how growing up in farm country impacts a student's choice for their future.
While building their own home and farm, one couple decides to learn from other talented and experienced market farmers about how to set up year-round gardening production. Here are some tips and photos from a trip to Four Season Farm, home of Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, in Maine.
What it's really like to buy, sell and market a green home.
How I encouraged a swift healing for my body.
When building a new home, be sure to check into what home construction insurance coverage you need. For this homesteading couple, not having liability insurance would leave them feeling as unprotected as not having sandbags to prevent downhill ditch runoff and sedimentation.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Dyan catches us up on the spring happenings at Bittersweet Heritage Farm.
Want to make your own garden sprays? Learn which homemade garden sprays are most effective for organic pest control, and when to use them.
In The Nourishing Homestead, Ben Hewitt along with his wife Penny tell the story of how we can create truly satisfying, permanent, nourished relationships to the land, nature, and one another. With plenty of practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food, build soil, and develop traditional skills, this book is sure to inspire a new generation of homesteaders.
Caretaking wild places is a great way to homestead in paradise without having to afford land.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Rachel explains safe and easy ways you can use household items in your garden.
Concrete is not a green or natural building material, but one home-building Kansas couple decides the built-in storm shelter, root cellar and custom greywater system they intend to include in their concrete basement will make using the material worthwhile.
Steve Maxwell explains why living the bootstrap lifestyle and living with less leaves you with more in the end.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce addresses his attempt to balance his climate change concerns with the everyday challenges of an agricultural lifestyle.
For many, home construction requires financing from a bank. So how does it work after signing and finalizing home construction loan papers? Here’s the standard process for accessing the funds within the loan account. Just one more step in the process of building a dream house and homestead!
Cam contemplates the meaning of life from the comfort of his off-grid homestead in Eastern Ontario.
Stormy spring days mean it’s time for a new loaf of homemade sourdough bread.
A homesteader introduces readers to his quest for a simpler life, which led to the construction of a unique underground home.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan shares a preview of her children's book about raising lambs.
In order to be environmentally friendly, a kitchen remodel should reduce energy use, reuse or recycle materials, and minimize the carbon footprint of the remodeling project. Here are five tips to keep in mind in order to achieve a greener, cleaner kitchen.
As one couple plans their homestead-to-be, they spend time learning the lay of their land. One happy fringe benefit: They used this time as an excuse to go morel mushroom hunting. The results of their efforts were delicious.
Homesteading is to me to live in self-reliance, simplicity and mindfulness. To be able to do that in a way that feels true to what we believe in, I've found that it demands a narrow definition of what I put in the word enough.
Pallets can have many uses. And they can be re-purposed into just about anything. This article shows how to re-purpose a wood pallet into a wine rack.
The steps involved in receiving a building permit require some advance planning and paperwork. If you’re hoping to build in the future you’ll want to review the building permit requirements in your area several months before your planned construction start date.
I used this tried and true method of preventing a valve from freezing. There was no electricity as a back-up crutch for this mission critical valve and I kept it open through the coldest February on record.
A list of the 6 most basic questions to ask before a buyer purchases a green home.
We know you're anxious to get growing! But HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel says it's not time to plant seedlings just yet.
Scroll through a short collection of photos documenting the groundbreaking process as one couple prepares to build a home. First up: moving dirt and laying a gravel driveway.
Fire pits can be great things. They are attractive, inexpensive to use and help to extend the use of your yard through the fall and winter. But they must be used safely. Here are some guidelines for fire pit safety.
Not all green building materials are fancy, engineered products. One couple explores the saved-from-the-landfill options at local Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Hard to beat preventing waste, supporting Habitat for Humanity’s mission, and finding great deals on materials for a new-home construction in one fell swoop.
How big of a priority are good animal handling facilities?
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and homesteading parent Michelle shares tips on buying second-hand baby supplies.
How to choose an apple tree to fit your space and needs.
Whether you are a novice or experienced homesteader, we've all heard those "crazy things" that people say when it comes to living a self-sufficient life. Here are 10 things you should never say to a homesteader.
These step-by-step instructions will show you how to make a Roman shade to fit any window in your home. You can save lots of money by recycling clothes for the fabric of your custom DIY Roman shade.
Indoor air pollution can be even worse than outdoor. For this reason, choosing eco-friendly floor coverings is essential to a healthy home.
After deciding to take a year off from lambing, Maine dairy farmer Dyan has a change of heart and gets a four-legged Valentine, a baby lamb.
In order to secure a building permit to construct a new home, many counties require a septic system inspection and approval. Here’s how one couple had a successful “perc” test done at their future home site, along with a quick explanation of what a perc test is.
The outdoor rugs that line my garage and mud room get filthy and need a good cleaning every now and again, a cleaning that usually goes beyond just vacuuming. But this cleaning can be done in an eco-friendly way, without the use of harsh chemicals.
This is a short video that shows some of the major highlights on the homestead during the month of February.
If you want to build a passive solar house, you’ll need to spend time upfront carefully considering your house plans. Here’s how one couple worked with a contractor and a designer to draw up and then finalize their small home plans with energy efficiency and lifestyle in mind.
A good vegetable garden doesn't have to be expensive. Here is a step-by-step description of how one family was able to build a paved, raised vegetable garden for under $200.
One of my best pieces of advice to those wishing to establish a homestead is to reach out to the community. Happy neighbors are a big part of a happy homestead and for us it was not only a way to drum up support and engagement for our project, but it was also transformative for our experience and for our business.
Repurposing for functional home décor, featuring four recent household projects.
Going from raw undeveloped land to a functional homestead is hard work, but it's rewarding.
HOMEGROWN Life blogger and pregnant Pennsylvania mama Michelle (Congrats, Michelle!) shares her plans for planting a baby food garden, including her entire seed order.
A great garden needs great soil. Regardless of a garden's size, there are always ways to improve the soil quality.
You can organize and track your poultry’s hatch rates by using this helpful spreadsheet created by MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader Terry Standard.
How farm life will keep you fit so you can live a healthier and happier life.
Before beginning construction on their new home, this couple is taking steps to prepare their land for their impending move-in by planting perennial natives, building some walking trails, cutting firewood to dry, and more. They’re having a blast!
It's never too early to think spring. And it's a good time now to plan for an eco-friendly patio by thinking about how household items can be smartly repurposed and upcycled into useful patio décor.
The fourth in a series of postings about my visit to Cuba with a delegation of energy industry professionals, and a Cuban colleague’s visit to Vermont where I developed a similar tour. Along the way we learned about efficiency and renewables, and some striking contrasts between ourselves and our countries were revealed.
Bank loans, especially new home construction loans, require some legwork on the part of the future homeowner. One couple explains how they got a loan to build their new house.
Windows can be responsible for up to 40 percent of heat loss in a home. One way to achieve both cost savings and energy savings is by installing the right window treatments.
New England’s favorite homemade biscuit recipe is made even better with whole-grain Khorasan.
Before beginning construction on their new home, one couple assesses which renewable energy sources make sense for their location and situation.
Catching and storing rainwater is one of the most important tasks on the suburban frontier for "green preparedness." It's a great way to build "home economics" and connect more closely with taking care of basic needs.
Livestock guardian dogs are renowned for their protective instincts. They have been bred for thousands of years to be aware, work inde