Posts tagged ‘diy’

Why You Shouldn’t Homestead

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Dance Therapy & Positive Energy Meditation

Build a Composting Toilet for $20 or Less

Greywater System-Friendly Natural DIY Laundry Detergent

If you’re using a greywater recycling system on your homestead, you already know that harsh detergents and soaps are a no-no. You can buy natural detergents, but some of them are ridiculously expensive. The point is to spend less money not more, am I right? After looking around, googling, thinking and experimenting, we have come up with a very simple recipe for DIY laundry soap that is safe for your greywater system. It won’t hurt your plants and won’t harm the soil or the environment. It’s also pretty cheap to make. Cool, huh?

You will need: IMG_20160229_070151

This recipe is very easy. You simply combine equal parts of everything (like maybe 1/4 cup each) and mix it all together in a container. One small scoop per load does the trick. Most recipes call for lye or Fels Naptha soap, but with the yucca root powder or soapnut powder, it isn’t necessary. They are the “soaps” instead of lye or Fels Naptha. This recipe has no fragrance, but you could add an essential oil to it if you want it to smell nice. You could also technically use soapnut or yucca powder all by themselves as a totally natural laundry soap.

If you don’t want to buy washing soda or if you have an absolutely humongous box of baking soda (like we do for some reason), you can make some washing soda by spreading baking soda on a cookie sheet and baking it at 425 for up to an hour, stirring about halfway through the time. (At 400 degrees, baking soda undergoes a chemical process that changes it into washing soda.)

When rinsing your laundry, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to every 5 gallons of rinse water to soften and remove odors. You’re done! Laundry comes out fresh, clean and odor-free. More importantly, the greywater is nontoxic to your garden or your land.

*NOTE: Like many things, both Borax and washing soda can become dangerous to plants if too much is used, so don’t overdo it. This recipe works very well and you don’t need much; a little goes a long way, especially if you are using rainwater (it contains no minerals and it’s naturally soft).

An Alternative Method For Homestead Laundry

If you read our “Laundry on The Homestead” article, you know there are quite a few different methods for doing your laundry on the homestead, ranging from the very labor-intensive to the more laid back. There is however an in-between method. It combines some of the labor of hand-washing with the confidence and ease of a machine to create a middle-of-the-road product that we are very satisfied with.

Meet The Wonder Wash. It’s cheap, it’s cute, it works and to be honest, I wish I’d thought IMG_20160229_052050of it. Seriously, it’s so simple and works so well. You just add water (about a gallon and a half for a full load), add soap, add up to 5lbs of clothes, seal the pressurized lid and turn the crank. The instructions tell you how long to turn it per load, but to me it doesn’t seem long enough. I usually turn a full load for about 4 minutes. Then simply attach the drainage pipe and let the water out. You can either rinse the clothes in the washer by adding clean water and cranking some more (which I do now) or in a rinse tub (which I will do on the homestead). Wring and hang dry. Very easy and it cleans your clothes just fine.

We use this all the time already because though I adore my electric wringer-washer, this is much easier to use and requires less water. Sheets, small blankets, jackets and heavy sweatshirts fit in this little guy just fine as well, but for heavier blankets or coats, you’ll need to use a different method or go to a laundromat. You could probably smash them in there but it’s debatable how clean they would actually get.

It’s hard plastic that does not feel flimsy but obviously will break if treated too roughly, and it could use some stabilization when it is being cranked, because it moves a bit and that requires more work to keep it in place. It does have suction cups but they don’t prevent it from sliding. We plan to use screws to attach it to the countertop beside the sink at the homestead in order to fix this.

PROS:

  • It’s compactIMG_20160301_085849
  • It’s lightweight
  • It requires zero electricity
  • You have full control over how long clothes wash
  • It can use hot or cold water
  • It works

CONS:

  • It could use some stabilization to hold it while cranking
  • The drainage pipe is tricky and can be messy before you master it
  • For some reason, my washer has a pinkish tint; this is not a huge deal but… yeah
  • We recommend using a wringer; even with draining, clothes come out soaked

Overall, this little washer is definitely worth the $40 we paid for it. The purchase of the wringer will raise the cost of it overall, but a wringer should be purchased anyway, regardless of which method you use to do laundry. They are not essential, but your clothes will dry much more quickly if you use one. (You might think you can wring them out well enough by hand, but after you try a wringer, you will see that the difference is huge.) We are still taking our electric wringer-washer to the homestead but as we intend to build on to our solar energy system gradually, we won’t be using it for a while.

*This review is my own opinion and I was not compensated in any way. Bought the product with my own money.

Making Money With Your Homestead: How to Make Your Land Work For You

So it finally happened! You’ve got your land and you want to create a self-sustaining homestead. Perhaps the most important thing you can do with your land is to make it work for you. You can produce enough food and energy to take care of your family and your animals on even a small parcel of land, but you might be interested in ways you can use your land to make money for you as well.

Here are a few ideas you could utilize to make some extra cash with your land.

Hunting

  • Offer a hunting or fishing lease. Depending on the laws and how much land you have, offering hunting leases is a great way to make some extra cash from your property. There are lease listing services that will take care of the headache and promotion for you, so all you have to do is collect the money. Of course, you want to make sure your ponds are stocked well and there is an abundance of game on your property before offering it for lease.

camping

  • Offer camping. If your property is near a state or national park, a waterfall or any other recreational activity or landmark, you’re already way ahead of the game. We stayed at a rustic campground during a vacation to Delaware Beach and it was loads of fun – as well as being much cheaper than a hotel. Your campground can be as primitive or as luxurious as you’d like, and can operate seasonally or year-round. Hunters love camp sites! You could have a small petting zoo using your livestock, offer hiking in a nearby national park, horseback riding, swimming if you’ve got a lake or pond, fishing, boating, you could put up small cabins and rent them out, offer meals for more income… whatever you can afford and would like to offer. The possibilities are endless and are truly up to you. (Just about any one of these things could be offered alone as well, if camping on private land is not permitted in your area.) Check with your local government to make sure camping is permitted. An alternative to this idea if you have money to invest in it is to open a bed and breakfast or resort of some kind.

goats

  • Breed and sell animals. This is perhaps one of the best ways to make some cash with your land. Depending on how much land you own, the investment you can put in to a breeding pair and what the laws are where your land is, you could bring quite a bit of money in by breeding quality animals, either for show, companions or for food. This includes goats, chickens and rabbits, as well as dogs and cats. (Some people breed mink and foxes for fur, but we do not believe in raising or wearing fur and besides that, if any of these animals ever escape, they can devastate your ecosystem in a very short period of time. Especially minks; weasels and their relatives are pound for pound the most ferocious predator in any ecosystem.)

farmers

  • Sell fruits and veggies. If you find yourself with far more than you can possibly eat, open a roadside stand or become part of the local farmer’s market. People love to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Some farmers also offer baked goods as well.

spiritual

  • Create a spiritual retreat. It’s like a campground, but with spirituality-related activities. Some are more spa-like and others are rustic. Some are traditional, offering prayer groups and other Christian activities, while others are less traditional and have more esoteric or nature-based themes. It’s totally up to you. Spiritual retreats might offer things such as drum-circles, yoga, group meditations, art workshops, sweat lodges, instruction on meditation, herbal remedies or aromatherapy, aromatherapy treatments, massages, acupuncture, soul clinics, past-life regressions and much more. A variation on this is to create an artist’s retreat, where creative folks can come to create or be inspired in peace.

These are just a few of the ways you can make extra income with your land. Land is one of our most precious resources and one of the most valuable things we can have as human beings. Tell us your ideas in the comments!

How to Make a Solar Still

From MotherEarthNews:

Make Your Own Distilled Water

Make your own distilled water from stream or lake water, salt water, or even brackish, dirty water, using these DIY Solar Still Plans. With just a few basic building materials, a sheet of glass and some sunshine, you can purify your own water at no cost and with minimal effort.

Distilled water is not just for drinking, and it’s always worth keeping a few gallons of it on hand. Clean water free of chemicals and minerals has a number of valuable uses:

• Always refill the lead-acid batteries used for solar energy systems or automobiles with distilled water

• Water delicate plants like orchids with distilled water; minerals and additives like fluoride or chlorine that are present in most tap water can harm plants

• Distilled water mixed with antifreeze is recommended for car radiators, as it’s less corrosive

• Steam irons become clogged with mineral deposits unless you use distilled water

The principle of using the sun’s heat to separate water from dissolved minerals has been understood for millennia, salt ponds being the best example of how this knowledge has been put to use in the past. In salt ponds, seawater is drained into shallow ponds and then baked and purified in the sun until all that remains are crystals of salt. In this case, the pure water that gradually evaporated away was considered a useless byproduct, but as far back as the time of the ancient Greeks it was known that seawater could be made fresh and drinkable by this process.

A solar still works like a salt evaporation pond, except that the water that invisibly evaporates is extracted from the air; the minerals and other impurities are left behind and discarded. As the hot, moisture-laden air rises up to the slanting sheet of relatively cool glass sealed to the box, water condenses out in the form of small droplets that cling to the glass. As these droplets get heavier, they roll down the glass to the collector tube at the bottom and then out to the jug.

The box is built from 3/4 ” BC-grade plywood, painted black on the inside to absorb heat. We used a double layer of plywood on the sides to resist warping and to help insulate the box, with an insulated door at the back and a sheet of glass on top.

Finding a good lining or container to hold the water in the inside of the box as it heats and evaporates can be complicated. The combination of high heat and water containing salt or other contaminents can corrode metals faster than usual and cause plastic containers to break down or offgas, imparting an unpleasant taste to the distilled water. The best liners are glass or stainless steel, although you can also coat the inside of the box with two or three coats of black silicone caulk (look for an F.D.A.-listed type approved for use around food). Spread the caulk around the bottom and sides with a taping knife. After it dries and cures thoroughly, just pour water in—the silicone is impervious to the heat and water.

How to Make a Solar Still

We chose to paint the inside black and use two large glass baking pans to hold the water. Glass baking pans are a safe, inexpensive container for dirty or salty water, and they can easily be removed for cleaning. We used two 10 x 15″ pans, which hold up to 8 quarts of water when full. To increase the capacity of the still, just increase the size of the wooden box and add more pans.

The operation of the distiller is simple. As the temperature inside the box rises, water in the pans heats up and evaporates, rising up to the angled glass, where it slowly runs down to the collector tube and then out to a container.

The runoff tube is made from 1″ PEX tubing. Stainless steel can also be used. However, use caution with other materials—if in doubt, boil a piece of the material in tap water for 10 minutes, then taste the water after it cools to see if it added any flavor. If it did, don’t use it.

Turn undrinkable water into pure, crystal-clear distilled water with a home-built solar still.

View step-by-step photos of how to make a solar still in the Image Gallery as well as this PDF of the DIY Solar Still Plans.

1. Mark and cut the plywood pieces according to the cutting list. Cut the angled end pieces with a circular saw or tablesaw set to a 9 degree angle.

2. Cut the insulation the same size as the plywood base, then screw both to the 2 x 4 supports with 2 1/2″ screws.

3. Screw the first layer of front and side pieces to the base and to each other, then add the back piece. Predrill the screws with a countersink bit.

4. Glue and screw the remaining front and side pieces on, using clamps to hold them together as you predrill and screw. Use 1 1/4″ screws to laminate the pieces together and 2″ screws to join the corners.

5. Glue and screw the hinged door pieces together, aligning the bottom and side edges, then set the door in position and screw on the hinges. Add a pull or knob at the center.

6. Paint the inside of the box with black high-temperature paint. Cover the back and the door with reflective foil glued with contact cement. Let the paint dry for several days so that all the solvents evaporate off.

7. Apply weatherseal around the edges of the hinged door to make the door airtight.

8. Drill a hole for the PEX drain. The top of the PEX is 1/2″ down from the top edge. Clamp a scrap piece to the inside so the drill bit doesn’t splinter the wood when it goes through.

9. Mark the first 19″ of PEX, then cut it in half with a utility knife. Score it lightly at first to establish the cut lines.

10. Drill three 1/8″ holes in the side of the PEX for screws, then insert the PEX through the hole. Butt it tight against the other side, then screw it in place, sloping it about 1/4″.

11. Wipe a thick bead of silicone caulk along the top edge of the PEX to seal it against the plywood.

12. Shim the box level and tack a temporary stop to the top edge to make it easy to place the glass without smearing the caulk. Spread a generous bead of caulk on all the edges, then lay the glass in place. Tape it down around the edges with painter’s tape, then let it set up overnight.

To Tiny House or NOT to Tiny House?

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yurt

Build a Zen Garden in Your Backyard

IMG_20150725_160024

One of the most useful and beautiful things you can add to your backyard or property is a Zen garden. In fact, I’m writing this article from mine right now. As you can see, you don’t need a huge budget or a lot of property to make a serene respite from the world. You can even build a Zen garden indoors.

Now, I would love to add a fountain, a nice statue, some tile accents and lots of other things but as you can see my Zen garden looks pretty good even without them. The only things I’ve added that are not visible in the picture above are an aromatherapy burner and a tabletop tiki torch to keep away bugs and enhance the ambience. I will be adding a vintage bathtub in the future. That I refuse to compromise on.

I created mine in a shady spot so that I didn’t have to worry about the sun beating down on me while I’m out here. I felt it was very important for all of the elements to be represented in mine as well, but yours can contain absolutely anything you want. Mine also contains a cot which aids in meditation and doubles as a massage table when my husband or myself are feeling a little indulgent. This can be folded up easily and put away so that the mats can be utilized for sitting meditation.

There are lots of different things you can add to your Zen garden and lots of different ways you can make it appealing and attractive, but the most important thing is that it fill you with relaxation when you use it. Whether you use it for meditation, spiritual journeying or even just for a 10 minute time out during the day, relaxation and serenity is the most important part of any Zen garden.

If you have a Zen garden, I would love to hear your ideas or see pictures of what’s in it!

IMG_20150727_212940

zen

DIY Facial Mask & Beauty Regimen

So I’m not much of a girly girl. I’m not into fashion and clothes and makeup and hair. My teenage daughters are though, and it’s always a struggle for me to find something to do with them that we are all interested in. Then it hit me: natural beauty treatments. I like natural, they like beauty. It’s girly enough to make them happy and not too girly that it makes me want to run screaming from the house. It’s a win-win.

Here are a few of the things we like to make. Links to buy everything are included. We make them, then we hang out talking while they work. My oldest rolls her eyes sometimes and sighs, “Mo-THER!” at me sometimes when I’m talking but she also asks me things like, “What does this oil do?” and “Which of these herbs is best for my skin?” so it’s good enough for me. She’s 18, so really I should be thankful she even talks to me at all.

Natural Glow Honey Cleanser

  • Raw honey (not kidding, that’s all you need)

Dab the honey onto your face with your finger and then spread it out, massaging upward until it covers your whole face. Leave it on anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. (I make the facial mask while we’re waiting.) When your time is up, wet a rag and wipe it off, just like you would any cleanser. It comes off really easily (don’t get it in your hair). You’re done! Honey has so many purifying benefits that it is a natural cleanser, even for problem skin. It even fights acne! You can use it every day, up to twice a day. It might sound silly, but seriously… don’t knock it until you try it. Honey is also a humectant, which means it draws moisture into your skin at the same time it’s cleansing. I love nature.

You could alternately mix the honey with some milk to enhance the softening and purifying properties of this cleanser if you like but it’s not really necessary. This cleanser can be used on your whole body. I do it at least once a month.

mask

Mask is almost dry.

Chamomile & Rosemary Facial Mask

Place the distilled water in a small pot and simmer until hot. Place the herbs in the water and steep about 20 minutes, until the water looks brown like tea (you’ll know when it’s ready). Add more water if you need to. Strain the herbs out and set the herb-infused water aside to cool. When it’s cooled enough, mix the water and clay together, adding more of either until the desired consistency is reached (you want it to be creamy and smooth; if it’s too thick it won’t spread and if it’s too thin it won’t be a good enough layer on your face). Add the essential oils (optional, but I always use them because I have them) and mix very well. It’ll be a dark greenish-grey. Apply to your face and let it dry. When dry and stiff, wet a rag and gently scrub the mask off. Done! You’ll notice a difference right away in how your skin looks and feels.

After mask. I know, I got some in my hair.

After mask. I know, I got some in my hair.

Fuller’s Earth Clay is a natural antioxidant and brightener for the skin. It’s excellent for lightening acne marks and evening out skin tone. Chamomile calms the skin, evens tone and is also a natural brightener. Rosemary increases circulation and tightens skin, and using a fresh or dried infusion of Rosemary is less harsh on the skin than using Rosemary essential oil. Rose oil promotes circulation, renewal and much more. Geranium is good for tissue regeneration, healing and many other things. Texas Cedarwood oil aids elasticity, tightens skin and promotes circulation. Patchouli softens, smooths, heals and all these oils fight aging.

Some variations of this mask include adding a few drops of Tea Tree oil to fight acne and oil, adding some dried or fresh Hibiscus flowers to the water instead of Chamomile to promote young, fresh skin (Hibiscus-infused water will stain your clothes if it gets on them), adding Lavender essential oil to the clay or fresh/dried Lavender flowers to the water to promote circulation, to calm the skin and to soften… the variations are endless.

There are some oils you should not use on your skin, including citrus oils. Yes, they smell great and they have antioxidant properties but they also create photosensitivity on the skin, which can lead to a chemical burn if you go out in the sun. Cinnamon essential oil of any kind smells wonderful but it will also burn the crap out of you. Best to avoid these altogether as additives to beauty treatments. Because of the lightening properties of this particular mask, I would not use it more than once a week.

ACV Toner

All done!

Done! If you’re wondering if this regimen works, keep in mind that I am 35 years old. :)

Dilute the vinegar with the water at a ratio of 1:1. You might find you need to dilute it further, depending on your skin sensitivity (ACV can be harsh if not diluted enough). I use a 1:3 dilution on my face. That means 1 part ACV to 3 equal parts water. So if you were to use 1 cup ACV, you’d use 3 cups water (that would make a lot of toner, but you get the idea). When I use ACV to rinse my hair, I can mix it a little stronger. You can add essential oils to your toner, or infuse the vinegar* with herbs to get their benefits. Rosemary is fantastic for this and so are roses or other flowers. Shake the toner and then apply to your face with a cotton ball or the tips of the fingers.

We usually follow this with a thin layer of plain coconut oil right out of the jar to moisturize. You can do that or try this instead. So there you have it. A beauty regimen you can do with your girly daughters. I use this time to teach them about natural things and they feel pampered and beautified. These recipes also actually work. Win-win!

*Infusing vinegar is very easy. You simply place the herbs of your choice into a jar or container with a lid, heat the vinegar to hot but not boiling and then pour the vinegar into the container, completely covering the herbs. Let it sit for a few weeks in a dark cabinet, shaking once in awhile, then strain the herbs out and use the vinegar. Simple! (Infusing vinegar for eating or use with food requires more care. Doing it wrong can lead to some serious problems, so please research more before attempting it.)
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