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Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365 Fiber and Fabric Homestead

Day 10 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

by Ameda Holmes

It seems to be quite ordinary to have multiple projects going at once. Whether it has to do with the multiplicity of chores that need to be done on a developing homestead, updating and repairing clothing, decor changes to the living spaces, improving organization, and creating items for sale, the project list sometimes seems to be getting longer as items are completed.

This doesn’t bother me at all. The production measured against my project list is quite satisfying. I did discover that I do have to create lists in order to keep from getting overwhelmed and confused. While I have received dismissive comments to the effect that the detail in my lists is unnecessary, I have found the detail is not only satisfying as it gets checked off, but needful actions don’t get overlooked.

There is a daily chore list where individual items just get a check mark as completed. Making the bed, feeding animals, doing dishes, taking out trash, etc.

A weekly list includes items such as dealing with leftovers. For example, freezing meals for the next week, making stew from left over meats and veggies. Baking bread, any cleaning and organizing projects, and mending, laundry & putting clothes away. With the guys working on remodeling and painting projects away from the homestead during the week, there is a need for portable meals to avoid additional expense.

A monthly list consists of the bills and due dates. While not actually projects, this is a very important part of our household organization. It is also where we schedule spending for materials and equipment.

While most of the homestead construction projects are on the shoulders and strength of the male half of this partnership, I do have input on appearance, priority and problem-solving. I also have some personal projects that are within my strength and energy level. This is a longer term list, as the time / money / energy equation gets continually updated.

A few items on the current list include:
Porch / greenhouse / dining room on the west side of the house. The entry stairs and first 8’x10′ porch are mostly completed.
We have a pile of reclaimed corrugated plastic roofing for this, and hopefully we have enough for the greenhouse as well.

A 16’x16′ deck / porch on the east side of the house that will eventually (hopefully this winter) get enclosed for my studio space.

An enclosed storage room under the south end of the house. The house mover left the several-hundred-pound trailer tongue under this area. Rahn got help to manhandle this out around the tie-down straps and help to dig out the sand to level the area prior to it getting enclosed.

A much larger rabbitry needs to be constructed to protect the bunnies from predators and extremes of weather. We lost bunnies to both this summer.

The current cages did get moved to where the new rabbitry will get constructed, and a start was made on the construction. More to be done here as well.

The garden:
First iteration of the garden is going to be in 5 gallon buckets enclosed by half-pallet sides. Most of the soil here is composed of sandstone gravel and clay. Very low in organic matter, so buckets of amended soil as we get larger amounts of compost made will do for now. We can get a nearly unlimited number of free pallets and buckets, and plan to get a chipper to chop up brush in the future.

When I was living in an apartment in Irving I had a successful container garden. The containers here at the homestead will be much larger.

Eventually most of the property will have gardens. Food is the first priority, of course. Some of the plants I want to grow for fiber and dye are quite decorative and will be sited with an eye towards enhancing the overall appearance of the property. I also want to get some wild blackberry starts to plant along the edges of the property, some fruit trees, and perhaps some nut trees.

I did get a dozen small trees from Arbor Day Foundation. I’ll be getting them sited this week.

The “Making” list has sub-headings of clothing, household, and trade goods. This is probably the largest list, though the homestead construction projects are individually larger items. This is also the list that gets longer as I work on items. I have a quirk where I’m working on a project, and a variant occurs to me. I’ll put it on the list and write down any details that pop up.

A couple examples of this:
I was knitting one of my favorite edgings on the lace wristers I was finishing. It occurred to me that I could use some of my acrylic yarn stash and knit panels to be mounted in reclaimed wood frames as fencing for the front yard. There was a FB post a few years ago where a knitter in the Shetland Isles made a fence around her garden using fishing net cord and over-sized needles. She used the same edging pattern as I was currently knitting.

Another variant of this was a project I did a few years ago as display panels. The panels I did then didn’t survive the multiple moves of the years between then and now, but I plan to get some of these done this week. Reclaimed lumber frames, and twine to make dream-catcher centers.

Other “Making” projects include clothing for both of us. I currently have several historical re-enactment items cut out that just need sewing.

I am also cutting up a number of old pairs of jeans and piecing them into fabric to be used for covers for furniture and a cowboy duster.

Reclaimed denim is also a great resource for the trade goods list. Little bags, medium bags, quilts, wall hangings, are all on the list to be done.

Then there is my sizable stash of fabrics, yarn, jewelry supplies, and the creativity that gets splattered around my work space.

An on-going item on the “making” list is regular time spent spinning yarns to be used in future projects. I can sometimes get some production done as part of public spinning demonstrations. Honestly, there is a lot more explaining of the process than actual spinning happening.

Categories
Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead

Day 9 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

As a beginning for figuring how much rainwater can be captured, one inch of rainfall can produce 0.62 gallons per square foot of collection (roof) area.

A 1,000 square foot roof with a 1 inch rainfall would produce 620 gallons. That seems like quite a bit of water, and the weight of that much water is 2.5 tons.
However, most households go through that much water in only a few days to a week. Laundry, lawn & garden watering, baths, toilets use the largest amount of water, with potable water usage being much less.

In practice, the actual harvested amount will be lower depending on several factors. Heavy rain events can lead to water cascading over the rain gutters, or fail to drain into tanks because gutters and pipes can’t handle the amount. Some water is lost to first flush systems, or when tanks become full, water simply overflows the system.

As a more practical figure, 75% of the potential amount is a good estimate.

If I plug in our roof square footage, 1,072 square feet x 0.62 gallons per one inch of rain, by 0.75 to account for the loss factor, that comes out as 498.5 gallons.

While we currently don’t have sufficient storage for our water needs, this area averages 41 inches of moisture per year. That figures out to a potentional 20,438 gallons!

Our plans include using a number of 50 gallon food grade barrels with equalizing plumbing so they fill and empty in unison. Some will be installed under the house to protect them from temperature extremes.

With a good filtering system, we plan to be independent of the water companies.

How do you make sure the water you harvest and store is clean?

Make sure junk never gets into the storage.

Starts with the roof itself.

This trailer is old and the roof has quite a bit of rust. We were thinking of dealing with it with more filtration, but we came up with a better idea.

We’ll be coating the roof with three 18′ x 24′ tarps. At $99 each from Amazon, we’ll have several benefits.

The tarps will keep the rust from the roof from getting into the rainwater in the first place.

We can get tarps as we can afford them. The first one went over the north end of the house. Twenty foot gutter sections are up and leading into the storage tanks. The east side has a first flush filter, the west side needs one to be created.

The tarps are white, so we’ll have less heat gain during the summer heat.

The tarps will keep the roof from rusting out further, giving us needed breathing space until the roof needs to be replaced. It’s not leaking YET but I wouldn’t count on the roof metal lasting another year at this point. We’re estimating that the tarps will give us at least another two years.

The house is 67 feet long, so the second tarp will go over the south end of the house, leaving only 19 feet of the center to be covered by the third, giving plenty of overlap.

With the tarps keeping the rust out of the rainwater, the next part of keeping the water in the storage clean is what is called a “first flush” system. Basically, this diverts the first bit of water – including dust and bird droppings – into a side pipe and then lets the bulk of the rainwater into the storage tanks. It’s simple to build out of bits and pieces of PVC pipe.

After the first flush fills up, the water will come down the downspout. Before it hits the tank, It goes through a home made filter. Poly fiber, charcoal and gravel ensure that the water going into the storage is as clean as we can get it, and keeps mosquitoes from gaining access.

To prevent the growth of algae, we’re keeping sunlight from the barrels. Some of the barrels are the blue poly, and wouldn’t be susceptible to algae growth, but we do have a couple white barrels.

The barrels are sited on the north end of the house on an elevated stand, and there are plans to enclose them with a protective box. This will improve the appearance of the set up as well as keep the barrels from any weather damage.

The barrels will be connected with a manifold that lets them fill and drain in unison, and can be expanded with more barrels to keep our water storage ahead of our needs.

While our barrels fill quite well if we have a reasonable rain, reasonable rains can be a bit far apart, requiring us to go to town and get multiple five gallon bottles filled. The answer is going to involve getting at least ten more barrels and expanding our storage. I would like to get a couple more large IBC totes

There are a number of very good resources online.
This PDF is one of the best I’ve found. http://www.twdb.texas.gov/…/RainwaterHarvestingManual_3rded…
And this one from Texas A&M is also a big help.
https://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/
It also includes links to quite a few useful publications.

Categories
Homestead

A Homestead is a Living, Evolving Organism

Saying to oneself that if I did this, that, and this other project, my homestead will be “Done” is silly.

Not even a rock is static. It is formed by volcanic forces, or laid down in sediment, or crystallized. It gets eroded, cracked, pulverized, or sculpted by wind and rain. If a rock changes over time, why would anyone expect a home not to?

We all have goals. The “When I grow up, I want to be a ……” is natural, needful, and sometimes happens. Goals also change.

My childhood goal of being an artist has led me in directions I never forsaw. Now I and Rahn are creating an artwork over a canvas nearly an acre in size.

We have goals, and Rahn sometimes complains that “everything I do is temporary”. While this is true on one level, in the bigger picture the current projects are improving the conditions for the next level.

.WISH LIST – PROJECTS

Here are projects that need to get done:

Rahn’s project list
Once these first fifteen get moved to completed, order of next projects will be updated.
1. Chicken tractor DONE!
2. Remove dead trees and buck them up
3. Install barnyard fence with gate – Expand Barnyard
4. Install new stove / wiring / breaker / 220 plug
5. Replace kitchen sink and disposal
6. Rebuild back porch (expanded) and stairs with railings
7. Build new chicken coop
8. Create Rabbit colony / housing in barnyard
9. Front porch with stairs
10. House skirting
11. Office wiring / lights
12. Office insulation
13. Office flooring
14. Office paneling
15. Office porch w/ awning

Raised beds built and filled
Pallets broken down
Den cleared
Den flooring
Den wood stove
Den wood hot water
Kitchen cabinets repaired
Central heat / air unit removed
Old water heater removed / replaced with on-demand
2nd fridge / chest freezer to utility room
Bathroom gut / floor repaired
Washer / dryer in place of central heat & air
Shower in place of tub
Plumbing repair / replace
Water stanchion expansion / freeze – proofing
Water filtration both continuous and drinking water
Water collection gutters / piping
Blow-in insulation in ceiling
Exterior siding repair / replace / insulation
Exterior paint
Repair lawnmower(s) & mow
Build hardscape / landscaping
Repair generator / build generator

Ameda’s Projects

Sew new tobacco pouch for Rahn with camouflage fabric
Excess kitchen stuff cleared
Studio stuff from kitchen to Office
Can goods to cabinets
Utility room shelves cleared
Utility room shelves to Homestead office
Wool wash set up / wash wool
Design solar backup system
Make Dragon Duster for Rahn
Sew new clothes for myself
Organize stash / donate what I can’t use
List items on Amazon Handmade
Create signs for Homestead store
Design flyers for Homestead store
Amazon affiliate links
More production of for sale items
Food processing
Kitchen organize
Set up kombucha brew station in Office
Design labels for kombucha / eggs
Design & print flyers for rabbit sales / kitten re-homing
Work on website / YT edits
Plants started

  • Set up Office – Completed
  • Dish washing station – Completed

WISH LIST – TO BE PURCHASED

Quick charger for phone
Printable stick-on CD labels
Printable business card size labels
Vodka for bottle sanitizing
Large sack sugar
2 boxes family size tea bags
Video Camera PURCHASED
Lapel mic
250′ 12/2 wire
70′ 2″ PVC conduit
Fittings for same
Outlet boxes
Outlets – both interior and exterior
light switch
Pex and connectors
3/4″ PVC sched 40 & fittings
Water filter for continuous filtering
Low micron water filter for drinking water
Water pump with pressure switch
Copper pipe for wood stove hot water
Rain gutters & PVC
Exterior siding
Insulation for house – wall and blow-in for ceiling
Water barrels
Exterior paint and stain
Shower stall
Pressure canner & jars
2nd Fridge or chest freezer
Small trailer & trailer hitch insert
Sanding discs and belts for bench sander
Batteries / inverter / charge controller / wire / solar panels
Repair fittings for water hoses & electric extension cords
Hardware cloth and bird netting for coops / tractors
Float valve for automatic watering system
Rock / gravel / topsoil / mulch

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Homestead

Links to Items we use.

This page is a repository of Amazon Affiliate links to items we use and suggest.

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Homestead

Lessons From A Dangerous Situation – How Not To Die Of Stupid

In coming weeks and months, this failures of the grid electric system here in Texas will be gone over in excruciating detail. That is not the purpose of this post.

I want to bring up some plans and upgrades that we will be doing here that you might want to take note of.

Our personal fails touched on all the main needs: Health and physical ability, Food and Water, Shelter and
Energy, Clothing.

Health and physical ability: Neither of us had paid much attention to decreasing level of fitness, strength, and recurring injuries. We had allowed ourselves to drop successful nutritional actions – mostly drinking kombucha and taking vitamins. Rahn spent far too much time with back pain and I had let poor sleep decrease my energy level and ability to handle a heavy project load.

Food: I thought I was “adulting” by paying attention to the forecast and getting to the grocery store and feed store two days ahead of the forecasted storm. I got over $200 worth of groceries, $50 worth of feed, and put $20 in the gas tank. I filled water bottles, and made sure I had the recirculating pump in the rain barrels turned on.

As things fell out; the lack of alternate ways to cook meals made the interruption in electric service dangerous. Lack of hot food in cold weather can speed the onset of hypothermia.

A simple recirculating pump was totally inadequate to keep our stored water from freezing. This made keeping our rabbits and chickens safe far more difficult.

Shelter: I didn’t make any particular preparations so far as the house went. I did make sure I knew where my candles were,, and had fresh batteries in the flashlights.

Inadequate insulation in the house, and the inoperable wood stove also added to the danger level.

Clothing: We did not have proper winter clothing, and this could have killed us.

Having examined how we failed to protect ourselves, we need to make sure it never happens again. Increasing our self-responsibilty level requires a number of improvements.

We certainly can’t count on luck!

Health and physical ability: We are back to daily consumption of  Rahn’s health TreaT – a specially brewed and upgraded home – produced kombucha –  and vitamins. We are also starting multiple visits a week to a local gym, and will be working with a personal trainer at least five times a month. This will require some fairly substantial outlay, but we have negotiated a plan that is doable.

Food: While we plan to vastly increase the amount and variety of food grown at home, I need to put some attention on fast meals with minimum cooking time. The emphasis here will be on canned and dehydrated foods and not on things that require thawing or a microwave oven for heating.

I have a good dehydrator and need to add a pressure canner and jars. A nutrient-dense soup or stew that can be put on the wood stove in a week like we just survived will make a HUGE difference.

While I would like to add a chest freezer, more jars and a pressure canner may be a better option.

Water: Extended hard freezes can be planned for. The best option here may be two-fold. Since the wood stove will see a lot of use during a hard freeze, a copper pipe around the chimney and water line to the water storage is easy and inexpensive. A pex solar hot water panel is another inexpensive option, and can be easily adapted to melt snow and ice for animal water usage.

Shelter: Two things are essential. Improved insulation and a working wood stove. There will be a number of upgrades and additions to the house this year, so more insulation, a radiant floor heating system, and the blocking of the pneumonia holes are part of that.

The parts for the stove have been ordered and will be here soon. Some decisions need to get made regarding the location of a wood-fired hot water using heat from the stove pipe, or a solar water heater using a coil of pex tubing – and preferably both.

We do have two chain saws, and plenty of access to firewood. We have a log splitter on layaway, and expect to be able to get it out in a week or two. One of the chain saws is a small electric model that I can handle easily.

Energy: Installing grid electric was the least expensive option when we first moved the mobile home here. We do still plan to follow our original goal of adding zoned solar power generation

Even the $200 Harbor Freight solar kit would be a step in the right direction. That kit consists of a minimal mounting kit, a charge controller, four 25 watt solar panels, and a blocking diode to prevent night time discharging. It does not come with batteries or an inverter.

While we have already eliminated this kit from our plans, it gives an opening for discussion. There are plenty of videos on YT that deal with how to size a solar power system for various loads.

The basic problem with this system that it is woefully undersized for anything larger than a few 12 volt lights and maybe a phone charger. It can’t run a laptop for more than an hour a day, for example. If you want to power that laptop for five hours per day, you would need at least 600 watts of panels and four deep cycle golf cart batteries.

You would also need a higher amperage charge controller, higher cost wire, more space, more battery connectors, and a battery box to keep children and animals from access. This much amperage can kill.

Here is another option. The 900 watt gas generator from Harbor Freight only costs about $100. It will run for 5 hours on a gallon of gas, though it can charge those four golf cart batteries in only an hour. Since sunny days would not be an issue, you could also use that power day or night, sunny or cloudy rather than having to design in having extra wattage capacity to allow for poor weather.

Having generator backup will allow fewer batteries to carry a load, and let you expand panel arrays. Batteries are much more expensive than panels, and mismatching power capacity and battery age can cause several technical problems.

Clothing: While real cold-weather gear is generally not required in north Texas, having it and not needing it is much better than the reverse. Waterproof barn boots with heavy wool liners, long underwear, a sweater or two for layering, and wool mittens are good things to have in the closet. The waterproof boots would also be useful during spring mud, for instance.

I have a substantial amount of sheep wool in my stash, and plan to process, spin, weave and knit it this year. Hand-knit items, hand-woven blankets, and garment fabric are all on the urgent project list.

We plan to put up a temporary shelter / studio so I can get started on these projects, and we have a sheltered area for outdoor cooking / canning / wood working / general work space.

These actions will allow us to address our failures in preparedness. Freedom should imply that we take our self-responsibility seriously. None of this is to give the impression that we are addressing this with heavy doom and gloom. We take both joy and pride in our ability to be free, productive, and creative.

Create Beauty Every Day!