New year.. New projects.. New goals..

ImagePumped up for the new year!! Michael started a project on a mini wood stove. I’ve been pouring over seed catalogs, brushing up on crop rotation. Last year was all about growing, this year we actually are incorporating a little more method behind the madness 🙂 I want to focus more on preserving this year. My mom got us a dehydrator for Christmas! Score. And I’m picking up a canning set soon with the Ball book to start reading through it. I canned tomatoes in a class last year so we’ll see how it goes..

Image We have a shed outside that is roughly 100 square feet. With the tiny home movement in our future, we decided to turn the shed into a model tiny home for us to see what it’s like. Now mind you, we don’t plan for 100 sq. ft. but it’s going to be fun to see what we can do with our shed.

Michael scored an 50 cal ammo box to project a mini wood stove we have seen on a couple YouTube videos. We had some old pavers left over to use for the corner for both protection and to help absorb and hold some of the heat. Using a Sharpie, ruler and his dremel, he cut out a door. He went and got piping. We want to make it chimney out the side if possible instead of the roof. Right now we are burning in it outside to burn off any zinc.

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More up to dates next week. Hope everybody had a great Christmas and Happy New Years!!

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Word.. from my mother ;)

So I actually think mom is considering the idea of us coming down there. It would be awesome. We are going to look at the land they sit on when we go down for Thanksgiving. I don’t think they like the idea of cob as much as they would a cabin, tiny home style. That is fine by me!! That would let us build both if we wanted. Set up the homestead, actually build.. All the while learning the land, setting up the garden. I’ve never even practiced with cob so maybe this is a better idea to start. I want to do an outdoor kitchen area on whatever we decide, between the kitchen and garden would be nice! I would build a cob oven to break everybody in on what it’s all about and how it works.

I’ve been entertaining the idea of a Japanese style outhouse for the main bathroom. I feel completely renewed on my inspiration. I honestly thought my mom and step dad would shoot me down on this and I think the cob, they will. But the cabin, we may have hope! She says to me yesterday.. It’s all woods back there, Kortni. Yeah, mom, I know! I talked to her about felling trees on site. Renting a sawmill for lumber, hopefully harvesting all you need from what you cut down. We talked about composting toilets and solar panels. I think she is really starting to take me seriously.

She’s at a hippie festival this weekend, so I tell her to get in tune with nature while she’s there 😉 Ask someone what they think of earth homes and off the grid living. Hopefully her and Jay come back with renewed inspiration for us too!

I love pallets and Pinterest!

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I got this cool idea off Pinterest for a potting table. Something I could do myself!! We had been collecting pallets for a fence project that has long been discarded. There were so many things to do with pallets. I’ll start with a potting station.

I went down to Harbor Freight to get a saw. I needed one anyway for my fence. I was smart enough to get the two year warranty and was on my way. I got home and cut up my pallet and some 2x4s we had been saving. (Never know ;)) Michael had brought home his impact gun from work and with his help lining things up, my table was together!! Not only did it look good, it was very sturdy!

I had to scrap the pallets for for my failed fence because I cut them up, but something tells me the winter months will having me collecting pallets again and planning ideas for Spring 🙂

Teach a man to fish.. :D

Last year we bought a flip over style compost bin. You can see it next to the pallet fence I started (it’s no longer there, don’t worry;)) As our garden grew, remember we started with 2 4 x 4 raised beds, our compost pile grew. After reading Teaming with Microbes, it grew even more. We could compost our dog in the pile we have going now 😉 We tried to contain it with another pallet idea.. gotta love Pinterest, but it was cumbersome to do anything with, besides facilitating the chickens to jump in our neighbors back yard. We cleaned up the turn style and placed a for sale ad on Craiglist. Within 2 hours a lady had emailed then called Michael to arrange the sale and pick up. You could here it in her voice. She was exactly where we were last year at this time. Once her and her husband got there, Michael offered to sale them both bed frames for $20. We had about $40 in them and had used them for 1 year. Made from cedar, they were still nearly perfect aside from a little warping from late summer sun. I gave her a little book I had pick up with some Burpee seeds called, Little Space, Big Bounty or something like that.

We had been talking about doing away with the beds anyway and these people were pumped about starting off just like we did. And it felt really good to pass on our baby shoes, so to speak. It is so refreshing to find others wanting to just generally being more in touch with doing things themselves. Wondering where their foods comes from, realizing there might be a problem with food shipped 4500 miles to be in a nearby grocery store when so much can come from your back yard. Score one for the Home Team 😉

We just got hired to landscape our neighborhood entrance!!!

Success!

Great news!! Our neighbor, Rick, walked down this morning to offer us the job of keeping up the landscaping in front of our neighborhood. Heck yeah! We don’t have an HOA so no dues, but no fancy smancy landscaped entrance like some(most) of the other neighborhoods on our street. We, personally, love this and is why Michael choose to buy in a no HOA development. Not only did the annual dues scare him away, but the rules of a lot of HOA are really strict. No compost, no garden, no chickens.. What’s wrong with these people?!

Anyways, over the summer, our entrance started looking a little run down and I started making trips down there to weed and water. A great friend of ours is a landscaper and gave me some plants to help it out. With my little red wagon(actually my neighbor’s son’s wagon..Thanks Beth!) I took the plants, arranged and planted them. I made weekly trips on the bike to pull weeds. All of a sudden, people started helping with the watering, saying it looked really good, thanks!!

The neighborhood does have an email system that keeps people in touch with the goings on. They decided to beef it up a little and hire a “landscaper”. Honestly, I was sad with what they did to what I had been working on, it really didn’t look that good. They planted 5 holly dwarfs on each side, mulched it well. I think there were some small flowering things for like 2 weeks.. You get the picture. So, I gathered it was handled and went back to the growing micro farm in my own backyard.

Today Rick, who kinda heads the whole email, neighborly thing, walks down. We usually speak as Michael and I walk Sydni to the bus stop. He knows how we feel about the corporate grind, about having less, living with less.. the whole spill. He knows Michael quit his job last month and things have been tighter than normal(which is super squeaky btw) This morning he walks back down and plainly says he is kinda disappointed in the job the other guy did and he was way more impressed when we did it just with the plants given to us.. Would we like to take over that role for a little extra income..?? The neighborhood keeps a fund up for such. He wants to put it out on the email list in hope more donations come in to make our entrance kick it up a notch. And to be done from within.. On top of helping us out tremendously with another small source of income.He has already text since I started writing to say he spoke with another neighbor about felling a dead tree in his yard. There’s always something if you leave yourself available to receive. If we hadn’t involved Rick in our lives, he would have never known to offer us that opportunity. I have found it’s okay to tell people what we’re trying to do. We’re not crazy to want to live a simpler life. To be fine with a smaller income and less material things. More time with my fingers in the dirt and getting paid for it!! We just gotta keep the faith..

Our community helping our community. I love it!!

Our 43 dollar chicken coop :)

ImageHaving a flock of laying hens is a staple to a good homestead, so March we decided to invest in chickens. Michael began salvaging wood where he could. At the time he worked at a huge strip mall from which the stores were always tossing things out. One was a shelving unit he took apart, saving the lumber and heavy duty screws! We had to wait until April to get the chicks, so we started watching documentaries on the chicken industry, um.., no mam. No longer a good feeling when you saw the largest carton of eggs for the cheapest price, just ugh.. You begin to wonder how many chickens did that chicken have to eat, with NO beak, before that egg came out?? Yet to do the organic thing on cage free eggs (when you still don’t know) you gotta really fork out the dough!

We have had too cut down on eggs, milk, meat because of the organic price. I can tell you there is not a lot of wasting around here anymore 🙂 So to stay in our budget, not to mention peace of mind on what we were eating, we buy and consume less of these products, filling the void on the dinner plate with larger serving of vegetables or a good salad. I’m a true sucker for a good salad, there have been lunch and supper served with a salad topped with a few chicken strips I cooked up really quick with olive oil.

So in turn I guess the food industry going down the drain and me realizing is actually saving my family’s health. It has made us all aware not all food is the same!! If we can’t afford the best, the healthiest or grow it ourselves, we simply go without. I’m not talking starvation, this is still America folks. But there are no more Cheetos, if you don’t want an apple, then you really weren’t that hungry. POOF! Sorry I’m back.. On to the chickens!!

With the materials Michael acquired, a small pallet we found and my neighbor giving us the corrugated roof. All we had to buy was the wiring and hinges. And the chickens of course!! It took us 2-3 days to build it, we could have finished it in one (it’s a small coop, we wanted to be able to move it by ourselves around the yard) but we were in no rush. The chicks were still under the lamp. And well Michael likes to stop and stare, I mean analyze his progress every other step. We had a few Google images to go off of to build. We’d spend an hour in the unfinished frame deciding what would go best where. The sun was shining, the air felt good.. I knew this was right, and it was just the chicken’s coop!

Now finished (for under $50), the birds love it. One of our initial chicks died and we got 3 more about 12 weeks ago. We suspect we have a male and we suspect we’ll be eating him around Christmas. That will leave us 4 hens with 2 nesting boxes, it worked out perfect. We are on our third egg in three days.

One project at a time..