Blog or Vlog 365 Recovering Health and Fitness

Day 17 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

Water. Roughly two thirds of this planet is covered with it. It makes up most of our bodily tissues. In Colorado history, while fights and murders did occur over gold, more people died over contests over water rights than ever happened over gold.

We can die in a very few days without it, and good quality water is key to our health.

The marketing of bottled water gets pretty intense. However, the expense and hassle of dealing with innumerable plastic bottles (and the prospect of the waste of resources involved) make other options of ensuring high-quality water more attractive.

In doing a little bit of research regarding our municipal water supply, a laundry list of contaminants became a rising source of alarm.

I’m not going to get into a Chicken Little The-Sky-Is-Falling panic, but I’m not happy with drinking heavy metals with my ice tea.

While boiling and cooling can kill microbial contaminants, boiling water does not remove inorganic contaminants. In fact, because evaporation reduces the water volume, boiling water will actually concentrate inorganic contaminants.

I’ve been told by some of my acquaintances in alternative medical professions that I exhibit symptoms of reduced thyroid effectiveness. One of them characterized it as Functional Hypothyroidism. A quick online search returns many articles and resources covering this idea in depth.

With the fact that I have been exhibiting symptoms of lower functional thyroid activity, depressing it further is not something I want to do.

Given that reducing intake of these contaminants is a good idea, the question becomes how to go about it effectively?

Two methods that will result in pure water are distillation and reverse osmosis filtration. Reverse osmosis systems are not practical from a cost standpoint at present, and reverse osmosis systems for home use generally waste several times the amount of water that is actually produced.

The least contaminated of possible water sources can be presumed to be rain. The process of rainwater being evaporated and condensed, falling as rain is a vast natural distillation process. The question becomes how it can be collected, stored and used without becoming contaminated. I have several future posts dealing with this subject

A future post will cover some of my current sources of non-GMO seed, my small patio garden setup and plans, and my plans for clean, healthy food.

Blog or Vlog 365 Recovering Health and Fitness

Day 16 0f 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

In re-reading my first post of this new blog, I realized that I mentioned weight and exercise.

I want to clarify my goals a bit. Weight loss is not my main goal. My feeling is that weight is just a number. I know that in doing what I want to do physically, a fair bit of weight loss will occur.

My main goal is to be able to regain my physical ability, resiliency, and basic health. This main goal of regaining my use of my body will allow me to be more creative and effective as an artist, and explains the title of this blog.

My planned path toward this goal does include attention to the following:

  • Eating high-quality, non-GMO, non-processed foods
  • Increased exercise
  • Improving the air quality in my home
  • Moving to an area that does not have as much air pollution
  • Growing a good deal more of my food
  • Obtaining a water filtration system that does remove fluoride
  • Finding and using herbal and vitamin supplements to handle high blood pressure and edema

In a conversation with a family member, he brought up the point that if I exercised multiple times a day, I could build up to a substantial amount of exercise even if I exercised for five minutes every hour I was awake.

So, there is some clarification.

In a future post, I’ll give some coverage as to why I’m putting attention on the fluoridation of water, and what I plan to do about getting it handled.

Blog or Vlog 365 Recovering Health and Fitness

Day 15 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

2013 has been a challenging year. 

It has been defined by illness and physical issues that have only gotten harder to deal with. 

The so-called “Health Care Law” is imploding. My hope is that it ends fast enough and hard enough that our health care system can be rebuilt into a more sane open market framework. As far as I am concerned, this socialist framework that we’ve been getting force-fed is obscene and has dire consequences.

My doctor quit rather than continue under this system, and I was unable to get a new doctor before I was informed that in order to keep what coverage I did have, I would be required to sign up for medicaid.  I looked at what that would have as consequences for me, and decided that the risks were unsupportable. 

Then there is the fact that the more treatment I got, the worse I felt and did physically. That tells me that the medicos have the wrong “Why” and I should look at how and when I went downhill physically, and reverse the change that was made then to start repairing the damages. 

The healthiest I’ve ever been was in 1996 when I was living in the Rockies. 

Granted that was seventeen years ago, and bodies do age, but the fact was that I had clean air, non-fluoridated water, non-feedlot meats – including quite a bit of wild game – and I was doing a lot of daily exercise in just the course of daily chores.

When my husband at the time couldn’t be at the altitude and we moved to Oklahoma, I was able to keep in a fair amount of the non-industrial meats, and was getting clean food from our own large garden. I still had lots of exercise, but the health really went downhill when I was exposed to some pretty heavy air pollution at my job – epoxies and solvents. I got out of that job and started doing better for several years. 

I moved to Texas and was having some ups and downs. A stint in Florida saw some marked improvements, but that ground was lost again not long after I moved into my current apartment three years ago. 

This has been the most dramatic slide. The largest difference? Air quality. This complex is directly under the landing pattern for the DFW airport, and I am pretty sure that the building has a mold problem also. 

I’ve attempted to make other changes to get back in healthier eating, exercise, even going to bottled water to get away from fluoridation, but I’ve had more difficulty breathing, high blood pressure issues, and I’ve gained weight. A lot of weight. 

In Hartsel, CO 1996






In Denison, TX 2013












I am told repeatedly that I should lose weight, and if I do, I’ll feel better physically. I think that this is the wrong way around. While I have always been heavy, the health issues predated the largest amount of excess weight gain. Since the weight gain did not cause the health issues, I do not believe that weight loss itself will reverse the health problems. 

My plan is to turn this thinking on it’s head and start by deciding to feel better. I believe that by doing this, I can start to reclaim my body as my own, and not the medical establishment’s.

I plan to move out of the DFW metro area as soon as my current lease expires. This will be in several more months, so I plan to start by getting some exercise back in on a gradient that doesn’t cause more shortness of breath. 

The doctors have said that I need to be on home oxygen – which I can’t afford – and walk more – which the shortness of breath makes nearly impossible.

So, the current scene is that I am a middle aged obese female with high blood pressure, heart failure, edema, shortness of breath on even mild exertion, and I am fed up with it!

My goals include – 
Regain the ability to walk long distances, work in the garden, shop without need for the electric carts, carry loads, hike in the outdoors, dance, and sleep without snoring.

When I get my body doing what I want, I feel that I’ll be able to do more creative activities and live art in my life.


Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead

Day 14 of 365 Blog or Vlog

New trees getting planted

We just got an order of trees that I had paid for last summer.

I was getting rather frustrated with the claims of shutdowns creating delays in shipping. I won’t be ordering from that supplier again., but I need to get these tiny trees planted.

I’ve used markers and tags for plants, paint, and even cut open soda cans written on with ballpoint pen to make a dented label. I’m trying a different option this time.

I have a number of these wood rounds. They do seem particularly appropriate for making plant labels, especially using a wood burning tool.

There are a dozen tiny trees – crepemyrtles, dogwoods, hawthorns, crabapples, and redbuds.

My knee is not up to much physical work today after a fall yesterday. I think I can use some already filled large pots as nursery pots for the trees. I need to finish these labels, and on to another project.

Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead Recovering Health and Fitness

Day 13 of 365 Blog or Vlog


I had a fall the other day and basically wrecked my right knee. While it’s swollen, painful, and difficult to get up and down stairs, I feel that I should keep in some level of activity.

We are using some over-brewed kombucha on a towel as a poultice on my knee. This has given me some relief.

I’ll still be making my way down to the Homestead Office and working on several projects.

One of them is some rearrangement of the work area. I’ll be swapping the positions of my computer monitor and TV so I can clear one table for the wood burning and glass embellishment projects.

We’ve discussed how drinking kombucha has helped both of us in the past. New batches of kombucha need to be brewed. A new starter culture has been ordered, and will be here in a couple days.

Once we have freshly brewed kombucha, we’ll be drinking it every day. From experience, home-brewed has much higher levels of probiotics and is far more effective at lowering inflammation.

Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead

Day 12 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Salvage Materials: A few Thoughts on Creatively Sourcing Needed Items

The retail cost of materials for building projects can really put a roadblock in planning a homestead.

Lumber in particular can put many projects on hold. With a little bit of patience, and a fair amount of effort, salvaging lumber can be an option.

The opportunities and options for using pallets are well known. We’ve been collecting pallets for several months. Several projects are planned with the use of pallets.



Most of the rabbitry and chicken coop will be constructed from pallets, as will most of the skirting on the house. Raised beds for the garden will have half-pallet high sides to lower the need for bending over. The compost pile containment is already constructed of pallets, and the firewood storage will be made of pallets also. The uses of this free resource are nearly unlimited.

The term “free” is used with a few caveats. The trade-off of time for money is rather direct since gathering pallets does take time, effort, and gasoline. Large pallets can easily weigh over 70 pounds apiece. While some projects do not require the disassembly of the pallets, the aesthetics may not be acceptable. Where the disassembly of the pallets is necessary, more preparation work is needed.

Some pallets are made from treated lumber, and the uses for these are more limited. In particular, treated lumber pallets should not be used in living spaces, or in contact with soil used for growing food crops. Disposing of the scraps of treated pallets in the wood stove is particularly hazardous.

This past week brought a blessing in the form of several pick-up loads of lumber from a repair shop that was raising their roof to install vehicle lifts. Liability issues may make this more problematic in some areas, but a case of liquid refreshment(s) may lubricate more creative thinking. Workmen may be willing to load a pick-up and trailer instead of filling a dumpster, for example.

The lumber from this haul appears to be full-dimension red oak lumber. Possibly over 70 years old, it would be a crying shame for this to end up in the landfill. First thoughts suggest that this may become the framing for some of the planned additions. A good deal of preparation work will be needed to remove nails and bolts.

We’ve also been gifted with a rather sizable pile of vinyl siding. There are a few uses under discussion, but it probably will not be on the exterior of any of the projects here on the homestead. Since it will not rot, it may be used as a liner for raised beds, or on the interior of the rabbitry.

A neighbor did not need this set of porch steps once he upgraded his porch construction. These are well built and will be the steps off the back porch. It took a fair bit of main muscle power to load these onto and off the pick-up truck.

Cull wood is sometimes available from the home improvement stores near us. This can be a very inexpensive source of broken bundles of flooring, trim paneling, floor tiles, even some dimension lumber.

We have quite a bit of cedar closet liner from one of these cull wood hauls. This is quite attractive, and the thought for using this is to combine it with pallet wood pieces to cover the side of the kitchen counter, a backsplash, and possibly a wood patchwork feature wall.

Odds and ends of screening, extra light fixtures, flooring, barn metal, plastic roofing, and much more have also been collected.

Storage of all of these resources can be a bit of a headache, and with the recent additions, more re-arranging and preparation will need to be done.

Still, having these resources will save a great deal of money, and creates opportunities for more creative living.



Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead

Day 11 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog

We just got your Christmas card. So much has happened this year, that I figured an email would be a better response.

Rahn and I moved the trailer last March we were renting to some family land that Rahn’s sister Karen transferred to us. It was quite the rodeo!

About 45 miles and $1,200, we got it to the property.

The house mover dropped it into a ditch when the trailer tongue collapsed. It took about a week for him to come back with a skid steer to drag it around and into place. Another week, and he came back again to get it leveled and up on piers.

During this time, we were working in town for a few days at a time, and came home one night to discover that the house had been burglarized.  It was heart-breaking, but friends did get my antique sewing machine and my custom-made spinning wheel replaced.

We got grid electric hooked up in the middle of April. Rahn has been working on getting stairs and porches built.

Over the summer, we worked on a number of handyman jobs away from the house.

The projects here at “Art-Ternative Life Farm” are many and varied. We started with meat rabbits, I plan to build a very large garden for next year. Eventually, we expect it to cover our acre of property, and hope to get the adjoining half acre as well.

The rabbit kits are just too stinkin’ cute. We’ve agreed that only the breeding stock gets named, though.

Rahn started an addition to the house for my art and weaving studio for my birthday on December 5th. He had to pause the same day, as he needs to get some plumbing done for our rainwater harvesting system before he blocks access to that part of the underside of the house.

Another birthday present was this vintage sewing machine. With a manufacture date of 1972, it’s the newest of my little collection. The eldest is a 1924 Singer treadle, and the 1957 and 1962 Singers fill in the middle. I’ll be doing a lot of sewing for sale on Amazon handmade page, as well as my AmedaDesigns FB page.

I have lots of spinning, knitting, painting, wood-burning, jewelry, and other projects going. I’m looking forward to having a more organized space to work in!

Meanwhile, he’s doing a fair bit of smoking on “da Beast” a smoker converted from a restaurant vent hood.

All our best, Ameda and Rahn

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.

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.…/RainwaterHarvestingManual_3rded…
And this one from Texas A&M is also a big help.
It also includes links to quite a few useful publications.

Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 8 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Moving forward on the garden plan.

We were discussing a fast way to get started. Solving the time / money / energy equations can call for some very creative solutions.

Instead of spending money on grow bags or commercial raised bed kits, we realized that feed bags could be re-purposed as grow bags.

When time and energy permit, we will be building raised beds around groups of bags. At the end of the growing season the bags will be emptied into the boxes with additional soil and compost.

Yesterday I got seed potatoes, onion starts & garlic bulbs from the feed store. It is important to get seed potatoes that are not infected with potato wilt and not treated with the sprouting inhibitors commonly used on grocery store potatoes.

I prepped the seed potatoes this morning. What this entailed was cutting up the three pounds of seed potatoes into multiple pieces with one or two “eyes” apiece. While not a process that commercial farmers would use, this lets me multiply the number of potato plants

Now I have to let the pieces dry out and scab over before we plant them.