Archive for May, 2016



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Hauling Water

All winter long we have had to buy water. We have not yet put in a cistern and it is too cold to put your hand into the stream to fill jugs. It is still pretty cold and there is no way to get the car down to the stream yet, but we are sick of buying water. Until the cistern gets put together, we need something else.


The Man went out wandering the property in hopes of finding some water flow closer to the house where we could collect water. He managed to find a tiny spot where the water flowed over rocks in such a way that he could get a gallon jug under the flow and catch it very nicely. He managed to clean the area enough to get the trickle to pick up a just a little bit.


It takes about ten minutes for the jug to fill, but you don’t have to sit there and hold it the whole time. He wanders that area while the jugs fill, cleaning up the brush and branches that are in his path. It’s starting to look pretty good down there.


The site of this water is just beyond the site of the new house, which will be great once we move down there, many years from now. It isn’t too far a walk, and carrying four water jugs at a time, it doesn’t take much longer than it would to go down to the stream. Plus, you can just sit and enjoy the quiet while the jugs fill, if you want to.

Here is last years failed attempt at rainwater collecting.

Now that we have a nice path to our water source, I am going to start planting some cover crops along the other paths and anywhere else we may want some grass. Here is the clay that I will need to turn into rich soil for my grass:


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DIY Tire Planters

There are many herbs that can grow out of control if you let them. A little bit of containment goes a long way for your frustrations if you want to grow these herbs. Things like mints and lemon balm are very useful herbs to have growing for many reasons, but they get out of control very quickly. I hate to spend money on things like flower pots. They are far more expensive than they need to be, I think. So I set out on my way to find the perfect containment for my wonderful herbs.tire2

Old tires, of course! They cost money to get rid of and people don’t generally want them around, so they are easy to come by. I have 8 tires so far and I will get 4 planters out of them. The whole thing is very simple. All you have to do is fill the tires with dirt for the herbs to grow in. I chose to use sticks and leaves to help to fill my tires for the organic matter. This will eventually settle as the leaves rot, but I don’t mind having to add more later, and I will likely have to add a lot. The herbs I will be planting are quite hardy and will tolerate being replanted. Try to stuff the walls of the tires the best you can so that you don’t have air pockets for critters to live. And that’s it! Yes, old tires are ugly, I know. I don’t mind looking at them if I have some nice bushy plants growing in them. You can also paint them if you want to.



I’m not attempting to be an environmentalist, but there are old tires everywhere. There are too many tires in the landfills to ever get rid of them all. It is a wonderful idea to try to use the tires for free building materials rather than buying new things that will also eventually end up in a landfill. There are many websites out there with many ideas on fantastic projects that you can do with old tires. From these tire planters, to playgrounds, to houses. Please, check it out!

Check out my post on junk collecting!

Another great junk project I will be doing is building an outdoor shower. Here is the site I have started preparing:

shower spot

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Our first year here, we had spent two months in a 10×10 nylon tent. The sleeping arrangements were just sufficient and the tent was always damp inside. There was even that delightful morning that we all woke up in a puddle. The location of the tent on the property was also the part that floods with every rain. Needless to say, I began to dread the rain.

The worst kind of rain was the storms that would come at night. It was storm season for the time we stayed in that tent, so there were many horrible nights. We would stay awake, watching the weather, waiting for the storm to pass. Watching to see if we were safe to stay or if torrential downpours and lightning were headed this way. As we would hear the thunder off in the distance creeping closer and closer, we would load up the weather channel on our phone. It would come up painfully slowly and then we saw the nasty storms in red and orange heading right for us. We would run to the car and drive to town waiting for the storm to pass. Sitting in the parking lot in town we could watch, from a safe distance, the fiery lightning bolts of red and orange shoot down into the trees not far from our little tent.

It has been almost a year since we got out of the little tent, but the dread had carried over to our home in the large tent. We were no longer on a little hill in the middle of a flood zone and there were far fewer trees that were close enough to the tent to potentially fall on it. Laying awake in my bed, staring at the “ceiling” in the tent, I would listen to the sounds of the wind and rain. Listening to the sound of the wind whipping the leaves and waiting to hear the cracks of a breaking branch that could tear a hole through our roof.

I am happy to say that living in a cabin with a solid roof has resolved my fear of the rain. Now that I don’t have to worry about the tent blowing away with us in it, the gentle tap-tap-tap of the gentle showers is actually rather soothing. The sound of the rain on the roof always brings me to a warm summer afternoon with a refreshing, cool rain coming down and cooling us off. Sitting next to an open window, feeling the cool breeze on my face with not a care in the world. Even being a kid on a camping trip, going to sleep at night to the sound of a gentle rain tapping on my tent. I am looking forward to summer when I can sit near an open window, listening to the rain on our metal roof, tap-tap-tap, and feel that cool breeze on my face…

Speaking of a metal roof, we don’t even have a roof. This will be yet another upcoming project…

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If you were going to read a book about a family moving from the middle of town to an off grid home out in the woods, what would you hope to read about?  If you could ask anything at all about the experience, what would you ask?

Yes, I have started writing and would love to hear what aspects of our adventure might be interesting to others.

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Planting Potatoes

If you take a look around, there are more than enough ways to plant potatoes the “easy” way. Perhaps this is because of how much of a pain it is to grow potatoes the traditional way. Dig a trench. Put the potato pieces in the trench. Bury the potatoes with light, rich soil. Wait for the potatoes to grow some. Add more dirt. Wait. Add dirt. Now dig them all up, without missing any because if you do they will grow back with a vengeance next year.

pot2Personally, I love digging them up and don’t mind them coming back next year. Having another crop next year is apparently bad because using this method causes disease to spread. You cannot possibly produce your own seed potato because then the people who sell seed potato couldn’t sell them to you. I plan to try to reuse the small potatoes as seed potatoes next year. If everything is healthy, I don’t see how disease would spread.

Either way, I have enough digging to do as it is and am not interested in digging trenches in this awful clay. I have tried growing potatoes in hay in mounds and this lead to infestation. The next method to try, for me, in the potato cage method. I’m not sure that it is much better than the mounds, but I will have to wait and see.pot8


spread out nicely

I took leftover chicken wire and hooked the ends together to make circles. The bottom was filled with rotten sticks and leaves and then covered over with soil. Once they had a chance to get rained on and to settle in, I added the cut up potato pieces that had been sitting since I built the cages. I covered the potato pieces with a soil and rotten leaf mixture, being careful not to throw in too many sticks. Sticks could stack up in ways that would lead to air pockets that critters could live in. You will have to continue filling up the cages as the potatoes grow, just like you would traditionally do.


The kids helping

Once the potato plants die off, you can dig up the potatoes. The awesome part is that you can just tip over the cages and sift through to get the goods. You won’t have to dig deep in the ground with your back hunched over awkwardly picking through the dirt. In theory, of course. I will let you all know when it comes time to harvest.


Moist soil layer


Composting leaves layer


Finished potato planters, for now

Some potato planting links to check out:


Grow a Good Life

Other potato posts I have done:

In a rush potato planting

(these ended up being forgotten and still grew a few potatoes)

How not to store potatoes

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