Posts tagged ‘homesteading’

How-to: Gravity-fed Rainwater Harvesting Off-grid Plumbing System

Off-grid gravity plumbing system hooked up to barrels for rainwater harvest. No electricity, no pumps.

Homesteading: How We Do It

People often ask, so here is a short rundown of how things work here at Twin Lamps Farmstead.

Why You Shouldn’t Homestead

Dance Therapy & Positive Energy Meditation

Build a Composting Toilet for $20 or Less

Basic Homemade Pasta Recipe & How-to

Making pasta is so easy, you are going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The recipe is ridiculously simple and the prep is a cinch. I am embarrassed that I did not start making it years ago. However, let us not dwell on the past! I am making it now and I will show you how you can, too.

The Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of water

See? That’s literally all you need. Combine the flour and the salt, then make a well and add the lightly beaten egg. Mix these together, then add the water and work it until a stiff dough forms. (It’ll be very crumbly, so keep working at it with your hands until all the flour is incorporated.) Once you have a ball of stiff dough, knead it for 4 minutes and then let it rest for at least 5 minutes so that it is a little easier to work with, otherwise it’ll be too difficult to roll out.

pasta1

After the dough has rested, roll it out with a rolling pin until it is thin enough to fit in between the rollers on your pasta machine when they are set at the widest setting (on mine, this is 7). If you don’t have a pasta maker, just keep rolling it out. If you need one, this one is like mine.

pasta9

When it’s thin enough to fit between the rollers, just roll it through.

pasta11

Dialing down the settings on the machine, decrease the space between the rollers so that the pasta gradually gets thinner and thinner. Once mine gets down to 4, it is usually pretty long, so I cut it in half.

pasta5

You can make the pasta as thick or thin as you want. I usually stop at 2, where it is thin enough to see my hand through. The picture below is on 3.

pasta3

The end result is two very long, very thin pieces of dough.

pasta10

Now, I feed them into the fettuccine attachment on my pasta maker and cut them out. If you are not using a pasta machine, then once you are done rolling (which will take quite a while), you can then use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut your pasta noodles out.

pasta7

pasta8

Once they are done, put them in a bowl, dust with flour and toss them to coat so they don’t stick. You may still have to pull some apart.

pasta6

From this point, they can be prepared, frozen or hung and dried. I hung a few batches the other day so that I can store them. I don’t have a pasta drying rack (yet), so I just sterilized two plastic hangers and used them. Worked just fine.

pasta2

If you dry the pasta, it needs between 8 and 24 hours to dry, depending on how thick it is and the humidity factor in your home. When they dry, they are pretty brittle, so be careful when handling them. You can add basil, spinach or many other herbs to the egg before you add it to the flour for an added zip. Bon appetite!

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.

Want to Bring Your Electronics to The Homestead Without Draining Your Main Solar Energy System? This Works!

So we’ve been testing out this little solar battery charger by RAVPower for the past few days. It’s a 15w solar panel that charges basically anything with USB charging capability. That means it can charge not just cellphones and tablets, but lanterns, lamps, radios and lots of other things. We bought it to charge cellphones and tablets on the homestead, that way they would not be a constant drain on the main solar energy system. (Larger systems are pretty expensive, so the less one needs to power, the better.) The way our current house sits is in a weird place between two large buildings; it doesn’t get sunlight all day on any one part of the house. To test the panel, we hung it out an upstairs window onto the porch roof in the morning.

Happy to report that it works like a charm. It provided a full charge to a 10 inch tablet in about an hour with full sun and in about 2 hours on a very overcast, snowy day. (This is at like 9:00AM in February, people.) It charged a 7 inch “phablet” type of phone and the 10 inch tablet together to almost a full charge in about an hour as well with full sun. For $50, we are pretty impressed with it. We also bought this battery pack to go with it, just in case. The battery pack came fully-charged (a very nice bonus), so we have not been able to test yet how long it will take the panel to charge the battery pack. ravpower

PROS:

  • It’s lightweight
  • It’s compact and foldable
  • It seems very sturdy and stitched together well
  • Has two USB inputs so it can charge 2 devices at once

CONS:

  • It’s not waterproof, so it cannot be left out in the rain or in a heavy snow
  • USB ports in general break or stop working easily
  • The charging capability is reduced quite a bit by overcast days
  • It does not work well indoors, even with full sun coming through the window

Even if we weren’t moving to the homestead, we are still glad we have the panel. We paid $50 and can now charge any of our devices for free, anywhere there is sun. This includes while driving and in any emergency. You can’t beat that.

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

Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized

A lot of people don’t drink milk for various reasons, and humans are the only animal that still drinks milk after infancy. We are also the only animal that consistently drinks the milk of another animal. Weird, right? However, if you do the dairy thing, you might be interested in this infographic comparing raw milk to pasteurized milk.

Raw-vs-Pasteurized-Milk-v2

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!

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