Reflections from a Debt-Free Homestead

| 12/6/2017 10:34:00 AM


What we’ve learned in 40-50 years building a house, gardening, raising chickens, and installing solar power? I’ve learned that self-sufficiency is not attainable. It’s like perfection — you never get there.

But you do what you can. If you live in NYC, you can grow chives and parsley in a window box. We’ve refined things, made mistakes, made adjustments. By the time I built my 5th chicken coop, I got it right.

Cool tools. Not the obvious ones, but unique tools we’ve discovered. For kitchen, garden, shop, building, and crafts. Like this cats’ paw Lew showed me last week. It’s 11 inches long (pictured below). Anyone who’s done any wrecking will see how cool this is and costs about $35, and I found a titanium one on Amazon for $80.

Life lessons from natural home building. I’m gonna design a home, the way I’d do it now (after building three homes): kitchen facing south, opening out onto outdoor cooking area with a roof, cob oven, sink, dining table, and garden. You can do a lot of living outside in nice weather, just a roof overhead. Central core of wood stove with coil for hot water in winter, solar panel on roof for hot water in summer, kitchen/bathroom back-to-back, with hot water centralized. Greenhouse with double-wall polycarbonate roof. Deck with roof for sleeping outside. Photovoltaic solar panels feeding back into grid.

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