Solar Mint Tea

Solar Mint Tea

Mint

During these very hot days it is refreshing to make iced mint tea. I know that is not a common drink to many, but both Silver Oak and I grew up drinking iced tea made from mint grown in the garden. If you think that’s weird you should try it! There’s nothing better on a hot day to rejuvenate the body!

Some friends of ours had mint overtaking their garden and invited us to stop by and pick some. I gratefully picked a few grocery bags of the herb to make tea, and took some with the roots as well to plant at home. I’m not certain which kind of mint it is, but it tastes a lot like spearmint.

With the sun giving us more than enough energy right now, I really wanted to take advantage of it and save on fuel to make the tea. So rather than bringing a gallon of water to a boil on our propane stove top and then immersing the mint in the hot water, I decided to make a variation of sun tea. After all, on an off-grid homestead we should do it the off-grid way, right?

The traditional way to make sun tea is to fill a jar with water and tea bags or leaves and set it in the sun for a number of hours. But sunlight diminishes nutrients, especially B vitamins. I wanted this tea to be delicious as well as an energy booster, so I did not want it exposed directly to sunlight for long.

I whipped out our handy-dandy windshield shade solar cooker to help with the process. Actually, I am no longer using the window shade because after a while the stiffness relaxed and I had a hard time getting it to stay where I wanted it. I’ve since switched to a piece of radiant barrier insulation which was left over from our big deck roof project. It is about the same shape and size as a windshield shade so I use it the same way. It is stiffer so it stands nice and tall right where I place it.

As when I make cottage cheese with the solar cooker, I don’t want a really high heat with mint leaves in the water or it will lower the nutritional content and make a bitter taste. So I don’t place the cooking utensils under glass or plastic which would create a hotter environment for cooking. I don’t want it to boil; just to stay fairly hot.

I stuffed the freshly washed mint (stems and leaves) into a clean gallon jar and filled it with filtered water, leaving a little room for expansion at the top. I loosely fitted the lid to allow air to escape, and placed it in my black pail just as I do for cottage cheese. With another black pail inverted on top to absorb the heat but block the light, it is ready to be placed in the cooker facing the sun.

Solar Mint Tea

A gallon jar of mint and water is placed in the solar cooker

I try to start as soon as the sun is nice and high in the morning to give plenty of time in case it gets overcast or rainy later in the day. In Florida the summer sky can change quite quickly so if the tea starts heating too late in the day there may not be enough sun to complete the job well.

After four to eight hours in the sun, depending on how direct the sun is or whenever I remember to bring it in, the tea is done. I strain the warm tea off the leaves, or pull the leaves out of the tea. If it is really strong I add more filtered water and then sweeten it with honey or raw sugar to taste. After the sweetener is dissolved I let it cool to room temperature, then add ice and place it in the fridge. That night for dinner or the next day when we’re sweating it is a wonderfully refreshing and thrist-quenching drink! Yum!

Solar Mint Tea

Blessings,

Solar Mint Tea

Linked w/Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Natural Living Link-up, Homemaking Link-up, Live Renewed, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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DIY Bodywork

DIY Bodywork

The tree imprint...ugh

Several weeks ago a most unusual thing happened here on our little off-grid homestead…one of the trees beside our long winding lane jumped out and smashed up the front of our Suburban. Well, of course, you know that is not exactly what happened. Actually, the driver was reaching down momentarily to divert a biting rabbit (which should never have been running loose in the car in the first place), and failed to turn the wheel at a sharp turn. The result was a permanent tree imprint in the hood, grill, and bumper of the Suburban, and a wiser teenage driver.

We can count our blessings it didn’t happen on a two lane highway going 50 mph, and that a tree was struck rather than a person. It’s a very small loss comparitively. And it’s an opportunity to learn some bodywork skills we probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise. We’re also thankful that the grill met the tree right beside the radiator rather than in the middle of it! And the biting rabbit and all people involved remained uninjured.

While waiting on funds to fix it “right,” we did what we could to straighten things out (we needed another project, right?). The biggest concern was protecting the engine from damage by unmashing the compressed metal which could be placing stress on hoses and other parts. So Silver Oak got to use his new winch in an unexpected way!

DIY Bodywork

The winch on the front of the pick-up is used to straighten the damaged Suburban

The winch is attached to a front receiver hitch on his truck (so it can be removed and also used on the back or on another vehicle as well if needed). The upper part behind the grill straightened fairly easily using the winch. But the steel bumper was much tougher. With Silver Oak on the truck brakes and me on the Suburban brakes, it still wouldn’t budge much.

So Silver Oak chained the back end (hitch) of each vehicle to a tree and tried it again. It grunted and groaned, but finally did straighten enough to return to something closer to its original shape. After a few weeks with only one vehicle it is so good to have it driveable again, in spite of its new unique design.

DIY Bodywork

Straightening the bumper

DIY Bodywork

With each vehicle chained to a tree it worked!

DIY Bodywork

BEFORE . . .

DIY Bodywork

AFTER

Someone suggested buying a “bra” for the front to hide the damage until we can get it repaired completely. What a creative idea! Of course the bumper is compromised at this point, so either way it is best if we get it repaired correctly as soon as possible. And we’re going to have to be more alert for those active trees!

 

DIY Bodywork
Blessings,

DIY Bodywork

Linked w/Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Natural Living Link-up, Homemaking Link-up, Live Renewed, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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Homestead Scenes ~ 11

Rose Petal’s daughter Evenstar bringing you Week Eleven of Homestead Scenes:

~Water Fun in the Sun~

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

Our homestead “pool.”

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

A morning expedition to the beach.

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

Yours Truly

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Homestead Scenes ~ 11

 

Linked w/Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Natural Living Link-up, Homemaking Link-up, Live Renewed, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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Homestead Scenes ~ 10

Rose Petal’s daughter Evenstar bringing you Week Ten of Homestead Scenes:

~Relaxing on the Homestead~

Most of the time, the only relaxing on the homestead is done by the animals…

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 10

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 10

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 10

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 10

 

Have a relaxing week!

Homestead Scenes ~ 10

 

 

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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The Frolic

The Frolic
The hardest worker of all!
Recently we were blessed by several families from our local preparedness group who held a frolic at our little off-grid homestead. In February many in the group had come out for a barn raising. They had set the foundation baseboards and put the first several rafters in place on the hoop barn that is to become our greenhouse.
This time they put up the remaining rafters and bolted them all in place, as well as connected the rafters by installing the purlins (metal cross poles). Four of the nine sets of purlins are now completed.
While the men and some of the children worked on the greenhouse structure (yes, the younger children were thrilled to be able to help tighten bolts), some of the rest of us started moving things out of the “graveyard.”
The Frolic

One rafter at a time is lifted into place

The Frolic

The purlins connect the rafters to each other

Back when we first cleared land we needed to store lumber, fencing supplies, propane tanks, gardening supplies, and other riff-raff that had been in our barn at the old place. Since there was no building, we simply stacked things as neatly as possible in one of the cleared areas. That cleared area ended up being the view out of my kitchen window, which is not terribly pleasant.
Now we’re trying to find permanent storage places for everything in the “graveyard” so that can become our garden. Barnyard and animal supplies went into the tiny new (old) shed we recently found through Craigslist. Plumbing and pipes are going on brackets mounted on posts that will have privacy fence panels added soon to hide them. Pots and other planting supplies were lugged to a corner by the greenhouse, and so on. It was a start.
The Frolic

The "Graveyard" beside the house, soon to be reclaimed as a garden spot

The Frolic

The fence posts hold the pvc pipes...when the privacy fence panels are added they will be hidden

Would we have gotten all of this done by ourselves? Probably. But what was done in less than one day would have taken us many days to complete ourselves. The extra manpower seems to multiply the accomplishments, and the emotional boost continues even after everyone else goes home. Working together to build each other up has many benefits. This kind of community spirit is what will carry us through in a crisis more than many other aspects of preparing. The memories made, the friendships strengthened, the fellowship shared…all make such an event worth much more than just accomplishing a set of tasks.
The Frolic

The view from the back side of the greenhouse showing our big shed and tiny house with the new deck

Everyone in our preparedness group is terribly busy. It really doesn’t fit anyone’s schedule to go help someone else for a day. There are too many projects needing attention at home. And financially it doesn’t seem to be a good deal either. Why don’t we all just stay home and do our own thing? Isn’t that what we’ve learned as successful Americans? We don’t need each other anymore. We can and should be able to take care of ourselves. Everyone should mind their own business, right?
Unfortunately thinking like this has caused us to lose some of the strength that the early settlers possessed and that helped to form this nation. Jesus tells us to bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. When we make that practical it is a blessing for both the giver and the receiver.
When we were getting ready to move out here last fall, Silver Oak’s cousin challenged him to not be too proud to ask for help when needed as we set up our homestead. Oh boy, that’s tough because there is also the attitude among some that we should never tell others our needs because it makes people feel obligated to help. Which way is right? We believe openness and a willingness to be ready to help others is the way Christ would have us live.
Silver Oak’s cousin is part of our local preparedness goup and needed some work done, so Saturday we and a few others went to their house. The men put up wooden fence panels around his hog pen and installed chicken wire on other fences. He gave his three chicken tractors to others who could use them and now his chickens have a larger area to free range.
The Frolic

Fencing at Cousin's house...

The Frolic

Moving one of their chicken tractors

The ladies and girls enjoyed inside tasks which are difficult for his wife right now as she is soon expecting a baby. Again it was a great time of fellowship and encouragement. We want to do this more and build that sense of community that is so essential in a time of crisis!
The Frolic
Blessings,
The Frolic
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Critters and Fire

Critters and Fire

Thunderclouds are a common sight around here this time of year. This was an especially pretty one.

While part of the country has suffered devastation by fire, parts of Florida have recently experienced flooding.  So ironic. Too much of a good thing is destructive, including fire and water.

And I must mention the massive storm (super derecho) in the midwest this month which put millions out of power, some for over a week.  My youngest brother, who installs automatic stand-by generators and designs renewable energy systems in Ohio, barely saw his family for several days trying to answer the deluge of calls from those wanting relief from the heat or trying to save their frozen food.  He finally had to stop answering his phone so he could help some people.

In a town near them the only fuel available was at a station where he’d previously installed a generator, so there were long lines of cars.  Many drove long distances to find fuel, and grocery stores had no refrigerated or frozen food after the first day.  How fragile our fuel, food, and power systems are.  One break in the chain can shut them down.  What if a crisis strikes a much larger area at once, without anyone or any place nearby to get help?

When things go well, we get complacent.  When disaster strikes, we suddenly realize our need.  My brother now has enough orders for generators to keep him busy for a long time.  A taste of disaster makes us act.  Smaller crises can be blessings to help us prepare for larger ones.

I feel almost bad mentioning that we’ve been getting rain (praying for you who aren’t), but here we’re taking advantage of our wetness to burn palmetto piles.  Palmettos hold lots of water making them hard to burn until they’ve dried out, and we have huge mounds of them from clearing our driveway and living area last fall.  Now they’re prime for burning and the wetness keeps the fires in check.

Critters and Fire

The first pile to start burning

Palmettos are hard on wood chippers, or we would make them into mulch.  Next best is to burn them and use the ash for some awesome compost.  We will have lots of it by the time we’re done.  Last week we made a small dent in piles close to the house.  The dirt mixed in slows the burning, and some piles are too close to trees or other things we want to protect, so we pull trunks out by hand to throw onto the flames.

Critters and Fire

We're pulling palmettos from the mound in the background to burn in the driveway away from trees

I will be so happy to have those ugly, snake-sheltering piles gone!  But burning is miserable in this heat.  Silver Oak now goes out right after a rain has cooled things down (if he’s here) and lights a few piles when there is no wind.  Slowly but surely they will diminish.

Critters and Fire

Three piles, burning at dusk

One palmetto mound in front of our house had become the nesting place for our guinea hens.  The guineas were mature enough to be laying eggs but we couldn’t find their nest until recently.  We heard a rattlesnake in that pile a few months ago, but it must be gone or it would surely be helping itself to the eggs!  One big reason we got guineas was to control snakes, so they must be doing their job!

Critters and Fire

The pile in front of our house

Sadly most of our guineas have disappeared.  They are very independent creatures and hard to contain as free rangers.  In pens they would not serve the purposes we got them for: eating chiggers, fleas, and other bugs, killing or running off snakes, and sounding the alarm for intruders.  But allowing them free range may also mean losing them; not sure how to solve that problem.

After initially losing a few baby guineas (keets) earlier this spring, they grew up as a flock of nine until Zoe killed one and then last month one female disappeared.  More recently they divided themselves into two groups: one group of three with one hen and two cocks, and the other group of four with two hens and two cocks; a little off-balance on the male/female ratio. They’ve always faithfully come to roost in the tree above Evenstar’s rabbit hutches every night.

Critters and Fire

The flock of guineas before they divided and disappeared

Critters and Fire

Guinea eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, but taste the same. The large one at the top is a chicken egg.

Suddenly, this past week, the group of four was seen no more.  We burned the pile that held their cache of eggs (after conviscating the eggs), and the newest field fence had them befuddled.  We thought they were all gone till I spied the threesome in the neighbor’s pasture.  Evenstar and I tried and tried to get them back, but the poor creatures aren’t too intelligent.  The cocks finally came over but the hen refused, and before we knew it the cocks listened to her call and flew back to join her.  Blah!

We found a path along the fence where they literally pace back and forth trying to come back home, but when they finally get across they turn around and fly back.  We decided they are too smart for how dumb they are.  Silver Oak thinks I have more important things to do so I’ll leave the impossible guineas to their own fate.  So far the threesome is still hanging around.  We did spot a small pile of feathers across the fence, so it’s possible at least one of the others was a coyotte or fox dinner.  We may never know. We’re thankful for two good dogs that keep predators away from our livestock, but if something strays off our property there is no protection.  (Before I got this posted the female also disappeared.  Now we are down to two bachelor guineas.  How sustainable is that?)

Meanwhile Buttercup grows larger.  There must have been a miscalculation on when she was bred.  Any day we’ll have milk again.

Critters and Fire

Buttercup waits more patiently than we do

Critters and Fire

A chick peeks out from under its mama the day it hatched

One fun thing recently has been watching two mama hens with their chicks.  They hatched eggs together and are now co-parenting the seven chicks.  So cute!  One of the hens was at the bottom of the barnyard social ladder, and all her back feathers were pecked off by superiors.  Now that she is mothering her brood outside the barnyard, her feathers are starting to grow back.  The chicks and hens scratch around where they want, making a mess on our walkways, but they’re so cute I don’t mind too much.  It’s temporary.

Critters and Fire

The fluffy balls come out to enjoy the world

Critters and Fire

They get around!

Critters and Fire

At 2 1/2 weeks their feathers show, and the bald-backed hen has new growth as well

Evenstar’s rabbitry is reproducing as rabbits tend to do.  Bunnies are always fun, and she writes great ads with the cutest photos so they sell easily.  People love it that they are so tame.

Her most recent purchase has been a 13 pound Flemish Giant.  It is one huge rabbit!  She sold her show quality registered lionheads and decided a large meat breed was a wiser and more sustainable investment of her time.  Now she is raising three basic kinds: meat rabbits (Flemish Giants and New Zealand Whites), fiber rabbits (Satin Angora), and pets (unknown mix).  Interestingly the unpedigreed mixed breed bunnies are the most popular and have made her the most money so far.

Critters and Fire

Some adorable mixed breed bunnies

Critters and Fire

Evenstar's Flemish Giant truly looks like a giant, especially next to Starlet, our newest addition

The newest (and greatly cherished) critter on our homestead is Starlet, a sweet little kitty.  She and her siblings were found in front of an apartment complex after Tropical Storm Debby blew through a few weeks ago.  Their mother had disappeared and they were guessed to be two or three weeks old.  We jumped at the chance to take one of the females.  Our 12-year-old cat Marble was the starving runt of a large litter when we got her at four weeks old.  Evenstar was about five at the time and she and I enjoyed nursing Marble to health and happiness.  Now we get to do it again!  Hopefully Starlet will live as long and be as good a mouser as Marble.

Critters and Fire

Blossom gives Little Bird a turn at feeding Starlet

Critters and Fire

There's almost nothing cuter than a tiny playful kitten

The bigger girls took turns getting up at night to feed Starlet her bottle.  What great practice for motherhood!  This time there are six kiddos spoiling the kitty rather than just one as with Marble.  That’s even more fun.

 

Critters and Fire

Starlet makes herself at home in our tiny house, as she's too little to be outside yet

We are grateful to still have Tess, our 27-year-old Arabian mare.  A few weeks ago we thought we were losing her.  It was so hot for several days and she was wheezing with lots of mucus draining from her nostrils.  She refused to eat or drink and kept lying down in the sand like she was giving up on life.  We prayed and kept hosing her off to cool her down.  I managed to coax a tiny bit of nutrient-rich molasses water into her, which she usually relishes, and a little cayenne pepper to increase circulation.  We were all sad about losing her, but obviously even Tess can’t live forever. To our delight the next day she was better and started eating and drinking again.  Thank the Lord!

Critters and Fire

The children ride Tess who appears to have fully recovered!

Last, but not least, I have to show you our neighbor’s bull, a Watusi with a horn spread of six feet.  He likes to hang out right across the fence, which we enjoy as long as he is not riled up about a nearby cow.  Then we hold our breath hoping he won’t decide to use those beautiful horns to come through our fence!  He is currently for sale, and though we will miss seeing this spectacular animal when he goes, we will also be a bit relieved.

Critters and Fire

What a grand specimen!

Critters and FireI guess it’s time to wrap this up before it turns into a book!  Critters and Fire   Soon I will post about a recent old-fashioned frolic we had at our house.  What a blessing!

Blessings,

Critters and Fire

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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Homestead Scenes ~ 9

Homestead Scenes is finally back!

After several months of computer problems, then lack of time (and some plain old forgetfulness!).

Our daughter Evenstar brings you Week Nine of Homestead Scenes:

~Best Friends~

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9 So how was your day?

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9Harold & Buckshot (Harold is a ram we had a few years back)

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9 Don’t think that I’m enjoying this! I’m only putting up with it.  Can you scratch there a little to the right? There, there; now down a little…

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9 Please?

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9 Oh alright!

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9

I can’t believe she’s doing this to me!

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9 Howdy partner!

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9Buttercup’s personal bodygaurd

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9Faline & Misty  (Faline was a beautiful little fawn we were priveleged to raise a few years ago.)

 

Homestead Scenes ~ 9Snuggles

 

A few of these pictures were taken at our former house. Hope you enjoyed the photos, and thanks for your visit!

Homestead Scenes ~ 9

Homestead Scenes ~ 9Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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A Baptism on the Off-Grid Homestead

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

A new stock tank with an unusual application

Last week Silver Oak built a permanent fence in front of our house to make a protected area for gardens and landscaping (safe from marauding goats!). It stretches from the big shed bordering the animals’ runway, to the fence on the northern border of our property about 150 feet away. It is mostly done, just needing to add the gates and stretch one section that is field fence.  The part in front of the house is a board fence combined with 2×4 wire to keep critters out.

I like the board fence running along in front of our tiny house, making it look a little more civilized around here. There will be one big gate for driving the suburban into, and a small one for a footpath. At the north end there will be another large gate for truck access to our grow bed area.

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

The new board/wire fence on the right of the big shed matches the fence at the front of the animal runway to the left of the big shed. You also can see the front of our tiny green house and part of the new deck roof to the right of the big shed.

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

A view from the other direction. The big blue tarp is covering the big box with our solar panels that are still waiting to be installed.

This fence means now we can finally separate our overgrown kids from their mamas (goats!). The mamas stay inside their runway and paddocks, and the kids are out, but can’t get into our living area (hopefully). This will make do until more fencing is put up in the front part of the property and back in the paddock area to make separate grazing areas. We’ve been separating the kids at night by keeping them in the barn so we get all the milk from their mamas in the morning. Now we get the daytime milk as well!

Buttercup has been dry because she is expecting her calf. It should make its presence known any day now! Till then we are grateful for the extra goat milk.

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Buttercup is in her last days of being "with calf"

We got the fence up and worked hard to clear the front yard of all construction materials that had accumulated the past few months. We had a very special event to prepare for, and we wanted it to be as nice as possible for the stage of development we are in. I’m always glad for a reason to give us a deadline to clean things up. Otherwise piles tend to just stay where they are as we busily work on more urgent things.

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Some piles in front of our house were there (evolving) for months! They were constantly being added to or subracted from, but they were there just the same.

The very special event we were preparing for was…church! Last Sunday we hosted our home church fellowship for the first time in a few months. It has been so hot and we’ve been in the middle of building roofs and drilling wells and there was just not a practical way to host it here. But this time we weren’t going to just have church. We were going to have a baptism!

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

The deck (and air conditioned camper) are great for the fellowship meal after the morning service (notice...no piles of stuff)

Last year Little Bird, our seven year old, gave her heart to Jesus and has been asking ever since when she can be baptized. We are of the mind that since folks were usually baptized immediately upon confession of faith in the New Testament, there must be some benefits that we miss if baptism is put off for a long period of time until a formal event is planned. We really meant for it to happen way before this, but moving two times and being so busy setting up our new off-grid homstead…it just got put off.

When our church and fellowship meal were over, more friends and family joined us to celebrate the baptism. One of our new stock tanks had been set up in the front yard and worked perfectly. Silver Oak and my dad, a minister at our former church where I had grown up, performed the baptism. Little Bird briefly answered a few questions about her faith in Jesus and shared her desire to live for Him. She was so excited for this day, and took it very seriously.

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Prayer with Little Bird before her baptism (the sun was kinda bright)

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Getting ready

 

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

"...buried with Him by baptism into death..."

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

"...that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Rom. 6:4 KJV

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Mr. Gopher Tortoise

After the baptism we sang a few praise songs as one of our friendly resident gopher tortoises made his way across the area beyond the fence. One of the songs sung, “I’m so Glad I’m a Part of the Family of God,” was quite significant, as my dad pointed out.

“From the door of an orphanage
To the house of the King,
No longer an outcast:
A new song I sing!”

Little Bird indeed came from the door of an orphanage in Kazakhstan at 10 months of age, and she is not only a part of our family, but also part of the family of the King of kings! What a blessing to see our children walk in Truth!

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Enjoying fellowship in the family of God. We were privileged to have our former pastor and his wife join us, as well as a Haitian missionary pastor and his wife who were visiting the States

It was a very hot day and it wasn’t too cool in our tiny house with compromised air conditioning. After everyone left, our four youngest kiddos begged to jump into the baptismal stock tank to cool off. It did look inviting, so we agreed.

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

What cool fun!

So much for being civilized!  A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Blessings,

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

This week our off-grid homestead blog was featured on Lil’ Suburban Homestead!

A Baptism on the Off Grid Homestead

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Preparing For a Hurricane

Preparing For a Hurricane

The dirt road leading up to our lane is filled with water, reminding me of roads in Haiti when we've been there.

As Tropical Storm Debby brushes past we are evaluating what still needs to be done here on our new off-grid homestead to completely prepare for Florida’s rainy season and possible hurricanes.  We’re getting strong gusts of wind and just about swimming with all the rain.  We experienced Hurricane Charley years ago, seeing first hand what a storm of that magnitude can do.  We want to be ready!

Since getting the deck roof up last month we have enjoyed relative dryness on the deck area, but several problems arose.  During construction of the deck roof an error was made in marking its slope.  The final beams were being put in place when Silver Oak realized the error.  It was getting late and a few of our volunteers needed to get home, so he decided to leave things for the time being so the crew could finish up.

During a heavy rain it became evident that the roof definitely needed more slope to keep water from seeping under the metal and dropping in on our deck.  It was a huge undertaking, but Silver Oak stayed home one day and actually lowered one end of the roof eight inches.  It took about 15 hours, using farm jacks and bottle jacks to brace up the beams and slowly lower them to the correct height.

Preparing For a Hurricane

The roof before lowering one end...very little slope

Most of the day he loosened bolts and shortened posts in preparation for lowering one end of the roof.  The children were kept inside because of the possible danger, and I helped as I could.  The actual lowering didn’t take long.  The middle and outer beams both had to be lowered, and one time as we were carefully lowering the back corner we heard a mighty crash between the house and camper.  One of the temporary posts holding the middle beam with a bottle jack had broken apart from the extra weight, allowing that part of the roof to drop down onto the brace Silver Oak had installed underneath it in case something like that happened.  Thank the Lord no one was near the post as it broke!

Preparing For a Hurricane

The new slope is noticeable

As we finished lowering the roof in time for dinner I had a splitting headache. This is not the first time I got a headache when doing something that feels so dangerous.  It happened when we were drilling our well and we had to keep raising the heavy pressured pipe about 30 feet into the air (threatening to break or burst) to try again.  It also happened when we unloaded our two-ton 4,000 gallon rainwater reservoir with farm jacks and a winch.  I do lots of praying during events like that, and we are so thankful for God’s protection.

After dinner Silver Oak was determined to rebolt the beams and posts together and completely finish the job before going to bed.  Since there were eight posts that needed new holes drilled and bolts and metal plates reinstalled, taking about 30 minutes per post, it took him around four hours.  We got to bed after 1:00am, but it was secured once again!

Preparing For a Hurricane

Re-anchoring the beams to the posts late at night

In preparing for more heavy rains Silver Oak built a better roof over Evenstar’s rabbit hutch which houses her fiber rabbits (angoras).  He also worked on rerouting water that wants to pool on our tiny house roof right above the front door and run down onto the deck and doorway during a heavy rain.

Preparing For a Hurricane

Building the rabbit hutch roof

Preparing For a Hurricane

Now they stay dry even with driving rain

My mom helped prime the renovated parts of the big shed to protect the new siding.  We also set up a real washing machine under the roof behind the camper.  Doing laundry off-grid is even more challenging during rainy season, and we need a break!  Since we now have a well, water usage isn’t an issue.  But I’m learning a washer takes an enormous amount of electricity. We have to do laundry with the generator running.

Preparing For a Hurricane

My mom and Blossom prime the new wood on the big shed

A friend came out to help Silver Oak set up two roofs: one for Buttercup to stand under during rain, and one to keep untreated lumber dry.  What a blessing!  They used the tarp roofs that had been our temporary deck roof for several months.  They didn’t quite have time to finish the roof for storing lumber.  It was up but not completely secured.  Unfortunately this wind from Tropical Storm Debby blew it over.  Lesson learned:  make sure something like that can be finished before starting or it may need to be done again.

Preparing For a Hurricane

Measuring for Buttercup's roof by the water tank

Preparing For a Hurricane

The new roof will offer shade and protection from rain

Preparing For a Hurricane

Preparing to build the roof for lumber storage

Preparing For a Hurricane

Up goes the frame (the tarp roof rests on the ground in the back)

Preparing For a Hurricane

With the help of the bigger girls and me the roof was placed, but not totally secured

Preparing For a Hurricane

The result when a tropical storm comes along...sad

There is still so much to be done!  All of our buildings need to be tied down with hurricane auger anchors, and the big deck roof needs more work, including finishing the gable ends so rain can’t blow in.  The retaining wall needs to be built under our tiny house so water can’t collect underneath.  It is nestled in the hole we dug for it (which will hopefully become our root cellar), but until a wall is built rain naturally runs down there, eroding the soil as it goes.

Preparing For a Hurricane

Water from Tropical Storm Debby under our tiny house (a converted semi trailer). Pardon the steps...they don't really belong there.

Those big projects need to be done as well as installing the solar panels still sitting in their box, adding the final pieces of deck to join the house and camper, finishing fence, and installing our new windmill which will be delivered this week.  The list is endless, as usual.  It will get done one step at a time as the Lord allows.  Right now I hear more driving wind and rain!Preparing For a Hurricane

Blessings,

Preparing For a Hurricane

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, Farmgirl Friday, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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The Off-Grid Tea

 

The Off Grid Tea

So pretty

It actually started on the grid, but ended off.  It had been a long time since we’d had a ladies’ tea with Grandma and the cousins, so when the men and boys had their father-son outing for Father’s Day a few weeks ago we decided this was our chance.

The Off Grid Tea

My five lovely ladies ready for tea

The Off Grid Tea

My mom (Grandma) adds the finishing touches

Grandma (my mom) went all out and hosted the event at their little 5 acre farm near town, and my five girls and I and my sister-in-law and her five girls were there for tea.  Of course the fancy hats and gloves and dress-up gowns and shawls were pulled out of their storage places in the big shed for the event.  The pictures tell it all.

The Off Grid Tea

Finally it's time to start

The Off Grid Tea

So many goodies!

 

The Off Grid Tea

Little Bird

The Off Grid Tea

Butterfly

The Off Grid Tea

Honey Bun

The Off Grid Tea

Blossom

The Off Grid Tea

Evenstar & Cousin

After the last drop of tea washed down all the delicate goodies that were served, we cleaned everything up and gathered in the living room to watch “Little Women.”  It was during the video that it began to storm and the power suddenly went out. For most people that would mean the video was ended, ready or not.  But my dad has an alternative power system that powers part of their house all the time and is ready for an emergency (wonder where we got it?).

We continued with our video for some time until suddenly everything went black.  Fortunately by this time the father-son outing was over and my dad was home.  He realized he had forgotten to unhook the charger cable and the inverter had gotten too hot trying to charge the batteries with battery power (make sense?).  When the inverter got too hot a safety feature made it kick off, and we were completely without power, even with an alternative system.

Then I had a funny thought.  How ironic that we came to town for the tea party where everyone is hooked to the grid.  The grid went out, so the whole neighborhood was out of power.  But out at our off-grid homestead we still had power.  Since we are off the grid we could have continued to watch our video if we had been there!

 

The Off Grid Tea

My five lovely ladies and me

Well, my dad’s inverter did cool down and we were able to finish the video after a bit.  And come to think of it, back in “the old days” lovely ladies had tea regularly with no power, because there was no such thing as ”the grid.”

Blessings,

The Off Grid Tea
PS.  If you missed our radio interview with Vickilynn Haycraft of “Get Real – Get Prepared” on Saturday evening you can still listen to it here:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/doctorprepper/2012/06/23/get-real–get-prepared-with-vickilynn-haycraft
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Get Real – Get Prepared

Get Real   Get Prepared
Hubby and me

This Saturday, June 23, at 7pm EST Silver Oak and I will be interviewed on Preparedness Radio Network by Vickilynn Haycraft, author, teacher, speaker, and hostess of “Get Real – Get Prepared!”  What an honor!  We will be sharing how we came to be living a lifestyle of preparedness with our six children on this 20 acre off-grid homestead.  We will also be talking about our newly revised book How to Prepare a Family Emergency Food Storage Plan: Giving the Frugal Family Confidence to Survive in the Face of a Crisis.  (Editor’s note:  If you missed it listen here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/doctorprepper/2012/06/23/get-real–get-prepared-with-vickilynn-haycraftAlso, if you don’t have a Kindle and want to download our book to your computer, find instructions herehttp://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_pcland_stinst?nodeId=200450200&#installing).

We’d love to have you join us!  Actually, the broadcast is already recorded because we will be just returning from Ohio where we are participating in an orphan awareness event called “No Longer Alone.”  If you didn’t read about that check out my last post.  But we plan to be in the chat room during the broadcast, and we’d love to have you there as well!

I haven’t participated in chat rooms much (not the most techy person around) so I had to ask Vickilynn how to do it.  I’m already signed in so when the time comes I’ll be ready.  Here are the instructions:

Click on this link to the show page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/doctorprepper/2012/06/23/get-real–get-prepared-with-vickilynn-haycraft

At the top of the page on the right, you will see SIGN IN.
Click on that and it will take you to a sign in page. To the right of the sign in form is a registration form (in the middle of the page).
Create an account by filling it out with your user name and password.
Use that same username and password when you come back Saturday night and you’ll get into the chat room.

You can also just listen to the show without joining in the chat, if you prefer.
If you miss the show you can listen to it later by clicking on the same link anytime after it airs.
It can also be downloaded as an Mp3.

Make sense?  We’re excited about this opportunity to be part of a larger group of Believers who are encouraging people to prepare.

Vickilynn is the author of Wrapping It Up! Making Sensational, All-Occasion Wrappers and Fabulous Family Meals and co-author of Naturally Healthy Cuisine, Real Food for Real Families. She also is a national Product Review Examiner and Family Preparedness Examiner for Examiner.com.  Read her blog for more info: www.blog.realfoodliving.com.

Hope to meet up with you Saturday evening!

Blessings,

Get Real   Get Prepared

PS.  Our post Healing Wounds Without a Doctor was featured on The Country Homemaker Hop by Heidi of My Simple Country Living!  Thank you Heidi!

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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No Longer Alone

No Longer Alone

Our family at a recent historical event

It goes without saying that our six children are a huge part of our story here on our little off-grid homestead.  But just seven years ago things were quite different in our family.  Evenstar was 10 and our only child after 13 years of marriage.  The vision we felt God had given us for a larger family seemed a distant dream.  After several miscarriages and years of infertility, we weren’t sure how the Lord was going to work things out.

But even years before this God was preparing our children in various parts of the world to be a part of our family.  Evenstar prayed daily for siblings, and we gradually became aware of the huge needs of millions of fatherless children in this world who have a special place in the heart of our Heavenly Father.  Seven years ago there were four children already born and one who would be formed in my womb that God would place in our family.

No Longer Alone

Evenstar at age 10 as our only child

The Lord used The Shepherd’s Crook Ministry (TSC) to help us find several of our children.  They have a heart especially for orphans who are hard to place, and were instrumental in helping us to see the possibilities in adoption; how opening our hearts and home to children who needed a family was part of God’s calling for us.

Our first adoption attempts failed.  We were a few weeks from bringing home two little boys from Romania when the country closed its doors to international adoption.  Alex has mild CP, and after Romania closed we were unable to keep track of his whereabouts.  Marius, who is blind, was in a good foster home, but for reasons no one understands he was removed and placed in a state mental institution, the fate of many physically needy children in some countries.  Before marriage I had visited a state institution in Romania, and those memories still make me shudder.  How grievous that a child we thought of as our son is living in this setting.  We can only pray and trust the Lord is ministering to his heart in special ways, and that some day we will meet in heaven.

No Longer Alone

Honey Bun at the orphanage - age 3 1/2 yrs

When we finally accepted the fact that our boys were not coming home, the Lord brought to our hearts a little girl whose picture was on TSC’s website.  She was 3 ½ and had an issue with her right leg not working properly.  She looked so sad and alone, but she was in Kazakhstan which made her adoption look impossible.  Kaz is difficult and very expensive to adopt from, requiring several lengthy trips by both parents, or one long stay to complete the adoption.

Our God is a God of the impossible, and the summer of 2005 found us in Kaz bonding with this little girl we’ll call Honey Bun.  Ten days into our bonding time with her we were told we couldn’t adopt her after all.  A local woman had stepped forward and said she wanted her, and locals get first chance.  We were devastated!  They gave us a little baby girl instead.

After spending the summer in Kaz we left for home with our darling new 11 month old with very mixed feelings.  We were overjoyed to have our Little Bird, but felt like we were leaving another daughter behind.

We arrived home and discovered I was indeed pregnant!  What joy!  The Lord protected our son from miscarriage and Farmer Boy and Little Bird grew up together 18 months apart in age, but developmentally more like twins (babies in orphanages usually are way behind babies in families).

No Longer Alone

Litte Bird (2 yrs), Evenstar (11 1/2 yrs), Farmer Boy (7 mos)

No Longer Alone

Butterfly (5 yrs) and Blossom (8 yrs) waiting in Liberia

Meanwhile God had drawn our attention to the children in Liberia orphaned by war and the very tough economic situation.  We ended up getting approved and matched with two unrelated little girls.  They were hard to place because of their ages.  It was the beginning of 2008 and we were preparing to travel to Liberia for Blossom (eight) and Butterfly (five).  Then we got a phone call.

A stanger asked if we were the family who had been in Kaz three years earlier trying to adopt Honey Bun.  They were to inform us that her adoption had been revoked and she was back in the orphanage.  They wondered if we were still interested.

That was an earth-shaking, mind-boggling “God” moment!  It started us on an 18 month journey fighting tooth and nail to bring Honey Bun home from a country whose adoption process had only gotten more difficult and expensive than ever.
Our whole family saw the mighty hand of God many times during that process, moving impossible mountains (some day we promise to write a book).  But our God is a God of the impossible!!  All of us came home from Kaz (yes, it was a family adventure) with Honey Bun after spending another summer there, making her the fifth child God had added to our family in four years!

No Longer Alone

In Kaz again with Honey Bun (on left, 8yrs old) in 2009

No Longer Alone

In the mountains in Kaz

Are we done?  God only knows.  There are still millions out there who are alone…who need to know the love and belonging God intended for every child.  What an opportunity to make disciples!  In our family five little girls are no longer alone: the four adopted, and one who prayed daily for siblings.

This weekend we go to Ohio for the orphan awareness event we were filmed for in April, hosted by TSC.  Here’s a preview of that production we participated in:  “No Longer Alone 2012.”  We invite you to come if you can.  Get your free reservation now for 6-9pm this Friday, June 22 at the Savanah Center in West Chester, OH.  Learn how you can make a difference in the life of a child by adopting, by supporting someone else adopting, or by helping provide for needs of children in orphanages around the world.

Blessings,

No Longer Alone

No Longer Alone

My girls and I at a recent tea party - L to R: Butterfly (9), Evenstar (17), Me, Little Bird (7), Blossom (12), Honey Bun (10)

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Healing Wounds Without a Doctor

Healing Wounds Without a DoctorThe other Saturday when we had help building the new deck roof for our tiny house I hurt my ankle.  I brought the little portable generator up on the deck to run the oven because our little off-grid system was maxed out with the power tools.

I know how to start generators by now.  I can pull start them with no problem…usually.  But this one is so lightweight and has such high compression you have to practically stand on it to start it.  I gave it a mighty tug and the rope caught.  My momentum caused the generator to jerk, and the weight of my foot forced it to roll, and I rolled too.  I’m sure the men on the roof were quite amused.  Blah!

I jumped up and Blossom, our 12-year-old, came along smugly and started the thing with one easy pull.  That really made me look bad.  So much for being a tough homesteader!

The inside of my ankle was bruised and skinned, and from one little hole came some dark blood.  I immediately cleansed the area with peroxide and slapped Neosporin and a bandaid on it, and continued my work.  It was a very busy day, and I didn’t give it another thought till late afternoon when my ankle started hurting.  That night I could barely put weight on it and I knew something bad was going on.  An infection was trying to raise its ugly head.

I pulled out my remedy books to get a good game plan, and got to work.  That night and the next day (Sunday) were tough, as it was very painful and swollen.  A red circle about an inch in diameter was clearly outlined around the wound area, but the worst pain settled in the joint above it which made walking difficult.  On Monday we saw progress, and by Tuesday we were definitely winning.  On Wednesday it had healed so much I forgot about it.  That was a big mistake.

I am no expert, but want to share what has worked for me, and mistakes I’ve made.  These are great opportunities to learn so we are not completely helpless if no doctor is available.  Here are some things I have learned from experts:
1)  Begin treating sickness or infection immediately, at the first sign of symptoms.
2)  Be very aggressive and consistent in treating it.
3)  Don’t stop treating it until two days after symptoms are gone.

I did great with the first two, but sadly failed with the third.  The infection was still active enough that it crept back before I realized what was happening.  A few days later it started to hurt again.  The second time around it wasn’t so easy.  I’m still babying that thing.  It’s slowly progressing, but taking its good old time.  If I had stayed on top of it the first time, it would probably be healed; an important lesson to learn.  Now I can go to the doctor if things get out of hand.  Some day I may not be able to, and a mistake like that could cost a life.

Healing Wounds Without a DoctorThere are many tried and true remedies out there.  I looked at the lists of antibiotic and anti-inflamatory herbs in Dr. Philip Fritchey’s book “Practical Herbalism.”

Remember a few weeks ago when the goats ate all our plants except aloe, rosemary, and milkweed? I didn’t have much left to choose from.  I did have some rather oldish cloves of garlic on hand, peppermint oil, and cayenne in the cupboard.  I also had another powerful tool:  kefir grains!

I soaked my foot in warm epsom saltwater, used ice packs, and elevated it to help with swelling.  I alternated different combinations of herbs for added benefit. One was peppermint oil and cayenne with a thin layer of garlic clove laid across the wound.  Another was raw honey and flour as a paste.

My favorite was kefir grains and aloe vera.  What an infection fighting and inflamation soothing combination!  I cut a slice of aloe plant, shaved off the thorny edges and peeled the inner side.  The outside peel I left on (washed with water) and carved out a little hole on the peeled side to stick a kefir grain into.  Kefir grains are powerful, but they will dry out rather quickly under the bandage alone.  Placing them into a piece of aloe leaf keeps them moist and active for some time, and adds aloe’s healing and soothing qualities.  It brings instant relief to the wound.  I used this method a few years ago to heal my infected finger when Eventstar’s pet squirrel bit me.

 

Healing Wounds Without a Doctor

A kefir grain on an aloe vera leaf. This particular time I also addes a few shavings of garlic.

Healing Wounds Without a DoctorI also used B & W Ointment (Burn and Wound Ointment) on the open parts of the wound.  This salve is formulated by Amish man John W. Keim, author of “Comfort for the Burned and Wounded.”  He’s had phenominal results treating burn patients with this salve and burdock leaves.  A few hospitals are even using his methods in place of the painful standard protocol.  I used this salve regularly at first, but when the infection returned I stopped for fear of healing the outside of the wound before the inside because it contains comfrey.

When the infection returned it needed an extra boost, so I began taking things internally as well:  echinacea, garlic, vitamin C, and whole kefir grains.  The fight is still on, but symptoms greatly reduced.  The Great Healer deserves glory for healing taking place, and for creating tools and knowledge needed.

Foot wounds can be hardest to heal because they are farthest away from the heart.  A few years ago my dad had a little crack in his foot from dryness, and it got a staff infection.  He ended up in the hospital.

We read a biography of a family who immigrated to America years ago.  A few weeks before their ship sailed the father got a little splinter in his arm.  It became infected, and he died.  They came to America without him.  Modern medicine takes care of many things like that, but what if it’s not available?Healing Wounds Without a Doctor

The Lord has made so many options for us in herbs and other natural remedies.  The ones I’ve mentioned here only scratch the surface.  What methods do you use when treating a wound or infection?  It would be great to share ideas!

Blessings,

Healing Wounds Without a Doctor

Disclaimer:  This website is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to replace licensed, professional health care providers.  The author and Live Ready Now! disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information.

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Let It Rain! Part Two

Let It Rain!  Part Two

Father and son put up metal over a wet deck the morning after the storm

For three days we had no deck roof while the new one was under construction.  Wouldn’t you know, during that small window of time the biggest storm of the year so far hit our homestead and our tiny house.  About two hours into the storm, our little off-grid power system shut down.

Silver Oak braved the storm to start the generator and string power cords into the house for fans, and power the camper for his parents.  After nearly 2 ½ hours and four inches of rain, it suddenly stopped.

Needless to say we faced quite a mess in the morning.  Amazingly furniture under the tarp was mostly dry.  But the inverter refused to reset.  The temperature sensor must have gotten wet and the entire inverter refused to work.  Now we couldn’t use our battery bank to power our tiny house.

It was a great learning experience.  Hopefully we will be more storm proof in the future, and we’re making a back-up system to easily switch to when necessary.  We purchased a cheap 2000-watt inverter from Harbor Freight to use while the big inverter is serviced.  It doesn’t have a charger so we also purchased a big automobile battery charger, although it’s not the most efficient.  Altogether the cheap inverter and charger cost about $240 compared to the big Magnum 2000 watt inverter/charger which was $1100.  For constant use and keeping batteries at their peak performance the cheap one would not last long.  It also won’t run our little air conditioner and we must constantly monitor the battery charge and usage manually.  But it works in a pinch.  Meanwhile our solar panels are still waiting to be installed on the new roof.

Let It Rain!  Part Two

Our makeshift battery charger (front) and inverter (top) with a meter (left) to read the charge level of the battery bank below the deck

Monday and Tuesday the rafters were finished and the radiant barrier insulation and metal roofing were put up.  What a relief to have a roof again!  We commented on how things in life often must get worse before they get better.  We had to tear down the small temporary roof and be without for a few days before the big one could be built.

 

Let It Rain!  Part Two

Adding metal roofing. It's hard to tell in the picture but the roof really does slant down from our tiny house on the right.

Let It Rain!  Part Two

Finished putting metal on the whole roof! Notice the new lights on our tiny house installed by my dad.

On Wednesday Silver Oak’s parents left for home, and Silver Oak went back to landscaping.  Friday we had another big test.  Silver Oak was in town and it began to rain again.  We shouted for joy that we had protection from the weather.  Let it rain!!

After a few minutes of hard downpour, the new roof began to cry.  Oh dear.  The metal was up but not completely fastened yet, and some of it had been used previously on another roof and the screw holes were not yet caulked shut.  Water collected above the insulation and broke through in about a dozen places, sending us scurrying for buckets and tubs.  Another mess.

 

Let It Rain!  Part Two

Our mess after the rain (notice the buckets, tubs, and watering cans)...but not nearly as bad as it used to be before this roof was built! Laddie, our Australian Shepherd, doesn't mind it.

To top it off the generator ran out of fuel soon after Silver Oak left for work since we had used it much more than usual the past day and night.  We had not yet figured out how to charge the batteries fully with a car battery charger and used up all the fuel trying.  I could have run to a gas station 15 minutes away, but decided to see if we could tough it out.  So we were out of power and the rain was coming in through our new roof.

Next we ran out of water.  It is still a mystery, but the tanks on the roof were drained.  With no power we could not refill them.  But who needs water from a well when there is tons of it coming from the sky?  From the buckets we gathered more than enough clean water for washing hands and other things.  So the leaky roof was a blessing!  And since it was overcast and rainy all day, we stayed nice and cool.

We also started having problems with our septic tank.  We may need to enlarge it or put in another one so there is one for the camper and one for our tiny house.  The house toilet has had trouble flushing sometimes recently and Silver Oak loosened the cleanout cap under our tiny house to relieve pressure temporarily.  When he emptied the sewer tank in the camper the other day it backed up and pushed the loosened cap off and came spurting out under the house.  Disgusting!!

We were up till 2am digging a big hole out back to put the scraped up mess into, then dumping over 20 gallons of strong bleach water over the whole area to cleanse it.  The cap is on tightly now so that won’t happen again, but I could tell the septic system was struggling again.

Another thing:  I was fighting a full-blown infection in my foot from an injury the previous Saturday.  More on that in another post.

I struggled the early part of that day.  How would life be living in a normal house like normal people?  Are we just crazy or what?  What is the point of all of this anyway?  My phone hadn’t been plugged in properly and the battery was nearly dead so I plugged it in out in the Suburban to charge it.  I called Silver Oak and started whining.  Thankfully he had just been encouraged by the Lord and was able to remind me gently of God’s hand in this and how we have much to be thankful for.  What a prime opportunity to be a good (or bad) example to our children.  That little pep talk was just what I needed, and helped me rearrange my attitude.  The rest of the day was much easier even though circumstances didn’t change.

On Saturday Silver Oak stayed home and plugged all the holes in the metal and caulked the overlapping metal sheets together to waterproof the roof.  He sealed the area above our tiny house where rain had run down right over our front door!  Then he built another little roof at the front end of the camper to cover that and our laundry area.  Meanwhile the rest of us cleaned and straightened up the deck and yard, which had gotten unbearably messy during construction.  It looks half sane around here again!

 

Let It Rain!  Part Two

Adding a small lean-to roof at the back of the deck roof to cover the front of the camper and the laundry area (yes, notice we set up an old washer recently to help a bit during this stressful season, now that we have a well!)

Let It Rain!  Part Two
Finishing the metal on the lean-to

Reflecting on the week we realize how important little trials like this are.  They help us see reality and prepare for serious crises which may come.  We are more motivated to make changes that will benefit us in the future.  Back when we prepared for possible trouble with Y2K it helped us to be prepared when we lost power in a topical storm the following year.  That helped us to prepare better for Hurricane Charley and losing power for a few weeks.  All these trials benefit us and those around us if we learn from them.  They are mercies from a loving Heavenly Father.

Blessings,

Let It Rain!  Part Two

PS.  Yesterday we were so honored to have our recent post “Done With Homesteading!” featured by Amy at Homestead Revival for the weekly Barn Hop.  She’s a great encourager in the homesteading movement and said some awfully nice things about us.  Thank you Amy!

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Let It Rain!

Let It Rain!

We've enjoyed this temporary roof for five months. It was a tarp stretched over metal framing made in less than one day.

In anticipation of the soon coming rainy season, Silver Oak took off work and his parents came down from Ohio for about nine days to help build a permanent deck roof.  The plan was to build a hurricane resistant structure covering our deck and his parents’ camper, which is parked parallel to our tiny house on the other side of the deck.

I took several trips to town to collect materials needed.  Hauling three tons of lumber and concrete was a learning experience in itself.  Once I entered a small parking lot to pick up something for Silver Oak, pulling a heavy trailer behind me.  Then I realized to my horror the only way out was backing!  Six months ago I would have majorly stressed out.  It took about 10 minutes, but with our 12-year-old directing I managed to get out.  I was glad for being stretched the past few months in things like this, forcing me to learn.

Silver Oak and his dad got right at it digging holes for the big posts and constucting posts and beams.  Rather than using 6×6 posts, they glued and bolted together three 2×6 boards which are easier to find and make a stronger post.  The big support beams were made in a similar fashion.  We purchased a small cement mixer from Harbor Freight and 100 bags of premixed concrete from Home Depot, which gave the best price for materials.  The two men removed our temporary roof and concreted the posts in to harden for two days.

Let It Rain!

Silver Oak's previous masonry experience now serves him well

Let It Rain!

He and his dad make the 6x6 posts from 2x6 boards

Let It Rain!

Half of the bags of concrete we used. In the background the old temporary roof is visible.

Let It Rain!

They got smart and mixed concrete beside the posts to dump directly in the hole

Let It Rain!

Each of the 12 posts were braced up and concrete poured into holes around them

On Saturday we hired a real carpenter to help (who refused payment) and another brother from church joined us to put up the huge beams.  Another builder friend gave good advice about building this structure.  My dad also came for the day and did some electrical work, including a new electrical outlet inside and a new light on the deck.  Again, we are blessed and grateful for good friends and family who care.

The girls and I made brunch for everyone.  Actually, after all the cooking trials it ended up being lunch.  Our power capacity maxed out running two small air conditioners (it was unbearably hot), the vacuum cleaner (for our usual Saturday thorough cleaning), and big power tools for construction.  Unfortunately our propane oven still uses electricity (that must change in the future).  With too much power consumption the oven just wouldn’t stay hot.

With our little portable generator we powered the outside oven successfully at last, but the muffins fell because the oven cooled when they were only half done and the egg casserole baked unevenly.  It was good just the same, but next time we’ll plan our power supply better.

When the volunteers left that day all the big beams were in place!  Silver Oak and his dad started on the rafters that afternoon, then on Sunday we were gone most of the day.  We still had no roof, but Monday they planned to start putting up the metal.  Sunday night there was not a cloud in the sky, but we covered everything on the deck with a huge tarp just in case.

Let It Rain!

The first beam is lifted into place beside our tiny house. Notice the old deck roof is gone.

Let It Rain!

The second beam is placed next to the camper on the other side of the deck.

Let It Rain!

The third and last beam is on the other side of the camper.

Wouldn’t you know, in the middle of the night, we were hit with a huge thunderstorm!  We awoke to loud thunderclaps and torrents of rain.  We closed the windows to keep water from blowing in.  Usually at night the temperature drops so we use fans in the windows and personal fans at each bed which keep it quite comfortable.  But with the windows shut it soon became stuffy.

Then water began streaming into the top of the front door.  With no roof overhead there was nothing to stop it.  What next? After about two hours of raging storm our little off-grid power system shut down.  The inverter screen indicated a temperature sensor alert.  Now we had no fans either.  Things were getting worse.

Let It Rain!

Putting up the rafters

This post is getting too long, so I’ll pick up tomorrow.  Aren’t I mean?  Let It Rain!

Blessings,

Let It Rain!

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Gratefulness for “Little” Things

Gratefulness for Little Things

An old ice box used by a Florida family before modern refrigeration was available

How many big things in our lives seem very small because we are so accustomed to them that we take them completely for granted?  We have noticed some interesting things about ourselves since moving to this off-grid homestead last fall.  Things we had never before been grateful for are now causing us to rejoice and give great thanks!

In our affluent society whoever thought of being grateful for a light switch that can instantly brighten a dark room with one flick?  Why would we think of thanking someone for a handle we can turn that produces an abundance of clean water on demand?  Things like air conditioning and food in the fridge are things many of us have always just expected to have as part of our daily lives.  To be without them for even a few days (camping or mission trips?) is considered a true hardship.

My grandpa is almost 98 and we recently had him out to our place before he went north again for the summer.   We were reminded that when he was growing up things were totally different than they are today.  It wasn’t till the 1940s that farms were connected to the power grid and farming families out in the country started enjoying modern conveniences that we now take for granted.  And for thousands of years before that even the most sophisticated and wealthy people never experienced many things we now consider absolute necessities.

Grandpa jokingly says that his family made the first motor home.  He and his mom and dad and brothers used to travel from Ohio to Florida every winter to grow celery in the muck fields that his father and older brother owned.  Of course there were no big highways.  Travel was slow on dirt or gravel roads that wound around mountains and through the countryside.  There were occasional cleared areas beside the road where cars could pull off for a picnic.  Sometimes they stayed overnight at a house with a sign out front indicating they had a spare room set up for travelers.

The body of the car they traveled with wore out, so grandpa’s family dismantled it and built their own body for it.  They made places to sleep and store their belongings under the benches.  Grandpa is sure others saw it and decided they wanted one like it.  So the production of motor homes began!  Gratefulness for Little Things   Ha!

Down in Florida Grandpa’s family converted another car into a tractor that they used in the celery fields.  People came out to their fields every day from town to see the alligator they had caught and tied on a long chain in a canal.  I suppose that part of the reason I enjoy our homesteading adventures is because it is in my blood.

At any rate, in spite of the slow economy, most of us are still living way better than the majority in this country before 75 years ago, but rarely do we see a spirit of gratefullness about it.  If the air conditioner goes out or something causes a break in our community’s electricity or water or food supply, we feel we deserve to have it corrected at once because we’re entitled to these things.  That sets us up to be willing to give up freedoms for the sake of conveniences.  We’ve come full circle since our forefathers gave up conveniences to settle their families in this land of freedom.

Gratefulness for Little Things

A fireplace used for cooking in days gone by

The past weeks Silver Oak and I have mentioned several times that we are so glad to see gratefullness in our children about things we would never have thought of being thankful for at their ages.  It would have never dawned on me to be grateful for a well, but our children were so overjoyed when we hit water! And they were very concerned about the water pouring out onto the ground.  Some of them offered to grab containers to catch it so it wouldn’t go to waste!  Though it made me chuckle, I also realized the value of their concern.  It’s one of the “perks” of this homesteading lifestyle.

Gratefulness for Little Things

Putting up the first beam for the new roof

Blessings,

Gratefulness for Little Things

PS.  Right now we are in the middle of a major construction project…building the permanent roof over our deck and the camper.  The temporary roof had to be removed, making us keenly aware of the weather.

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Done With Homesteading!

Done With Homesteading!

Working at night to install plumbing from our new well to our tiny house.

I’m done.  I’ve had it.  This is not working, and I quit!  If something doesn’t give I’m going to blow up or lose my mind or do something crazy!  Just let me live a normal life again (what’s normal???).

Last week I was really tempted to voice some of those thoughts…and actually I did voice them quite emphatically to the Lord one day.  I felt discouraged and like everything was going wrong.  I KNEW differently, but that is how I FELT.  Graciously, through His Word, He reminded me that He sees the big picture and I am very special and loved by Him.  He reminded me that Eternity is really what I am living for, and that what happens here on this earth is small in comparison.

“I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isa. 43:19b

Of all my worries, the worst was that we would all die, which means going to heaven to be with Jesus!  Whatever difficulties we face here, they are very temporary.  And my Heavenly Father promised to make a way through them.

As I prayed and asked the Lord about my feelings, He helped me to get a more eternal perspective.  I’ve been worried about Silver Oak because he is under extreme pressure trying to juggle his landscaping business with homesteading.  It is not good.  On top of everything else the past month or so he is often awake for hours at night with tingling and burning hands from overdoing himself.  Our bodies can withstand pressure for a time, but there must be relief or things will fall apart.

Done With Homesteading!

Isabelle (L) and Caspian (R), Evenstar's young Nigerian Dwarf goats. Caspian was tragically killed last week.

One day last week the children and I went to town to help my mom who has helped us so much.  When we returned home a devastating sight met us.  The goats had found the end of the field fencing and crawled through the barbed wire, coming into our living area and eating every living plant we had, except three they don’t like.  Blossom’s newly purchased herbs were destroyed.  Evenstar’s rabbitry supplies were knocked down and the feed eaten.

Our new dog Zoe has proven to be a disaster.  She has now killed four of our animals (two chickens, one guinea, and Evenstar’s new little Nigerian Dwarf buckling) and injured one (a big rooster in critical condition).  It has been too sad to even mention.  We are finding another family for her.  The day of the goat devastation, Zoe also had a half-eaten chicken lying beside her.

Last week several of Evenstar’s baby rabbits were injured by freak accidents.

Done With Homesteading!

An injured bunny's leg bandaged with aloe vera (one of the three remaining plants)

The small diaphram pump that gives us water pressure in our tiny house went out.

It’s raining more and our makeshift deck roof is manifesting its “makeshiftedness.”

The tiny air conditioner in our tiny house quit working, and it is HOT.

The list goes on.  Things like this take time and energy.  In spite of giving nearly all of the daily chores to others in the family, it is just too much for Silver Oak to live with one foot on the homestead and the other in town doing landscaping.  The rest of us are feeling it as well.  I was so overwhelmed one day I took the two and a half gallons of Buttercup’s milk waiting to be processed and poured it all into the chickens’ trough.  What a relief I felt!  If you would have been here I would have given it to you…

So we are praying for a way out.  Silver Oak’s heart is here on the homestead.  He doesn’t want to go to town and plant or trim shrubs for other people.  He wants to be here.

A change must happen and we are asking the Lord for answers.  He knows our limitations and where He wants us.  We simply need to be ready when He opens doors.

On the brighter side, we just received our new solar panels and they are waiting for installation (hmmm, wonder when that can happen??).  Silver Oak has completely installed the plumbing for the new well, pump, and small pressure tank, and no longer has to haul water!  What a huge blessing!  A temporary a/c window unit keeps it around 84° inside when it is in the upper 90’s outside.  We also just restocked our rotating supply of food which had dwindled way down since moving here last fall.  The tax money we recently received made some of these things possible.  God is taking care of us.

Done With Homesteading!

Plumbing the "new" well pump (and sediment filter) which we bought used for $50 through Craigslist, saving around $200. It's working great!

Done With Homesteading!

Brown rice, oats, popcorn, and other bulk foods fill our storage buckets

I had to ask myself, “Did God lead us here and provide this homestead for us?  If so, will He give me the grace to face difficulties that may arise?”

Meanwhile we’ve received several messages from fellow Believers of things that are to happen in our country and world soon.  I have never been keen on studying controversial issues in Bible prophecy, or listening to gloom and doom reports, but when people I respect share information or visions about things in our future, and they come from totally different sources and seem to agree with each other and with Scripture, I am ready to sit up and listen.  How many times in history has the Lord mercifully warned His followers so they could prepare?  How many times were warnings ignored by people who didn’t want their comfortable lives rocked?

Maybe I’ve read too many biographies of people living through the takeover of Communism or Hitler’s regime, or other world-changing events.  Some things happening now are similar to what happened before people completely lost their freedoms or their lives.  Think of all the personal information we naïve Americans are encouraged to share via social media, linking ourselves up with each other in “innocent” ways.  What could become of it in the hands of those who decide Bible-believing, homesteading, home educating, and health consious people are “terrorists?”  Why is the Department of Homeland Security purchasing massive amounts of ammunition, and what is the real reason checkpoints are being planned and built on major US highways?  Many other questions could be asked.  Read this compelling report we recently received from a friend.

In contemplating the growing stress of the past weeks and our future Silver Oak and I have discussed various things:

1)       We must guard against believing it is solely up to us to prepare for emergencies that may happen no matter what else is neglected.  The Lord provides in His timing for things that are His ideas if we are faithful to walk accordingly.  If He doesn’t provide for something we think we need by a certain time, we can trust Him and His Master Plan.  If He allows us to be in a position where we may be hurt or suffer loss, we can trust Him to carry us through whatever happens.  Being in the center of His will is the only safe place to be.

2)      Whatever the Lord shows us about the future or about what we are to be busy doing will always bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ.

3)      As Believers we are called to be servants.  If we are busy preparing for things coming it must include preparations for being the hands and feet of Jesus to others in time of need who may not be prepared.

4)      The ultimate yearning in the heart of Jesus is for all people to come to Him and find Eternal Life.   When there are seekers of Truth we should always be prepared to share.  World Missionary Press makes small Scripture booklets in many different languages for no charge (they are an organization worth supporting!).  We should have a healthy supply of these booklets on hand for use now and in time of emergency when hope is needed.

5)      We must question ourselves whether we are prepared spiritually for what may be coming.  Are we hiding God’s Word in our hearts?  Are we in fellowship with Jesus so we recognize His voice when He gives us specific direction?   Are we ready to die for Him?  Are we communicating Truth and Love to our children so they have a solid foundation in case we are separated?

6)      We must value relationships more than reaching preparedness goals.

7)      Whatever difficulties we face in homesteading or otherwise will possibly make life that much easier when long-term hardships arise.  A life of convenience and ease can leave us ill-prepared, but if we are already toughened up a bit it may be less stressful in the long run.

Our prayer is that the Body of Christ would lead in preparing, for His honor and glory.

Blessings,Done With Homesteading!

Done With Homesteading!

PS. Our computer difficulties are being resolved, so hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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Cooking with a Windshield Shade

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

After scooping off the cream the skim milk is used to make soft cheeses

We have been enjoying the great quantity of milk on our little off-grid homestead since the addition of Buttercup, our new Jersey cow.  Now I allow the children to drink fresh whole milk whenever their hearts desire (almost) and we no longer purchase butter, cheese, or any other dairy products.   We’re buying less store-bought food for the dogs and cat because they get milk every day as well. 

With the extra milk we’ve been making lots of butter, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, ice cream, kefir, ranch dressing, whipped cream, and buttermilk muffins and pancakes.  When I scoop off the cream I like to make cottage cheese or ricotta with the remaining skim milk.  But making cottage cheese (the quick way with vinegar) means using the gas stove for at least 20 minutes on high to bring a large pot of milk to the right temp.   

It bothered me that we have loads of free energy around us every day and I’m “wasting” our propane on food we’re making ourselves to save money.  How does that work?  Thanks to the internet I found a really simple idea about harnessing the sun’s energy and tried it.

Can you imagine cooking with an accordion windshield shade?  When I first came across this idea last year I had gone to Goodwill and found a shade and small grill rack to make this particular solar oven, but I hadn’t had time to try it.  Now I fastened the shade’s sides together with clothespins to make a cone shape.  The instructions say to sew velcro on the edges to secure it but I wanted to try it first before investing much in it.

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

My cone-shaped shade held together with clothespins

I stuck the cone-shaped windshield shade on the five gallon bucket and placed a metal grill rack on it (a square cake rack would do).  This secured it to the top of the bucket, making a sturdy place for my pot of milk.  It also allowed the sun’s rays to shine under the pot and reflect all around it.

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

The metal rack holds the cone on the five-gallon bucket

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

The cone sits on the bucket with a stick helping to prop it open

The instructions say to use a plastic baking bag around the pot to create a greenhouse effect.  In order to bring the pot to a high heat and keep the heat around the pot, a baking bag or other plastic or glass enclosure would make it a lot more efficient.  But I wanted to monitor the temperature of the milk and didn’t want it to get too hot anyway, so I decided to skip the bag.

I could have placed my gallon jar right on the metal rack, but sunlight kills some vitamins, including B vitamins in the milk.  I usually make cottage cheese in a large stainless steel pot (Lifetime cookware), but in this situation the shiny exterior would deflect the sun’s rays away from the pot.  I could have used a black cozy around the pot or painted my jar black.  But since I didn’t need a really high heat for cottage cheese the simplest thing seemed to be to place my jar inside something black. 

We have two granite buckets for milking the goats, and it worked perfectly to place the jar inside one bucket and use the other one in an inverted position as the lid. I made sure the jar lid was loose to allow air to escape while heating.  I didn’t want an explosion!  Once everything was assembled I propped the sides open with a stick and aimed the cone toward the sun.

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

A gallon jar of milk in the black bucket

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

An inverted bucket serves as lid

My first try took nearly six hours to bring the milk to the desired temperature because every time I checked on it the wind had blown the windshield shade around and messed things up.  After two hours I got the stiffer and sturdier shade out of our Suburban and tried again.  It was also taller and worked much better.  Now the Suburban has inherited the small flimsy shade.

Once I reassembled everything with the new shade we began to make progress.  A few hours later the milk had reached around 125° F and was ready to make cottage cheese!  I was so tickled that it had actually worked!

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

I periodically used a candy thermometer to check the temperature

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

It worked!

I called Silver Oak and told him that I had just made cottage cheese without using any fuel, and he was quite pleased with his wife.  :)  The next several days I made a batch every day.  It usually took between three and four hours to reach the desired temperature, and I turned it more directly toward the sun about twice during that time.

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

The cottage cheese is ready for salt and other seasonings. The whey will be used to soak oats overnight for breakfast the next morning, or for cooking, or to feed the chickens.

Now that I’ve successfully used the sun in this simple way for making cottage cheese, I hope to learn more and reach higher temperatures.  This method is valuable in that the materials used would be quite easy to transport or include in a bug-out bag in an emergency.  There is so much to learn, and lots of ideas out there being used around the world.  Here is one place to start.  Next I want to try using an old tv dish to make a parabolic solar cooker.

Last week the weather changed a bit and it was very windy for several days, making it difficult to set up the windshield shade cooker.  So I mostly made ricotta cheese which requires no heat, and was able to save cooking fuel that way.  The adventure continues as we work toward our goal of living sustainably.

Blessings,

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

PS. We are still experiencing computer difficulties which reduces the amount of posts I am able to write.  Most of us are sharing one computer right now, which puts the squeez on things.

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

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WATER!! We Dug a Well!

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Water gushes out!

After weeks of trying to drill a well on our little off-grid homestead we finally hit water this evening (Saturday)!  What a triumph!  It was one of the most patience-building and perseverance-requiring jobs we have ever done!  I still can’t quite believe it!

We had purchased a Brady kit from Home Depot that explained how to use 2” PVC pipe to drill a 25-30 foot well.   One helpful website explained how to make teeth at the end of a pipe and use water pressure with water hoses connected to the top.  The drilling is done by rotating the pipe back and forth, slowly working into the ground while the water washes the cuttings back up to the surface.  After enough pipe is down, your 1¼” well point and pipe are dropped into it and the drilling pipe pulled up.  Sound easy enough?  (Groan.)

All of the water we used to dig the well was hauled in, of course. Silver Oak made many trips to the neighbor’s house to refill our barrels. One hose ran water from our tanks on the roof, and the other from the water barrels on the truck.

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!
The Brady kit
WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

The auger drilled through tree roots

We started several weeks ago with high hopes, and after spending one day laboring for hours to grind through the hard pan about 12 feet below the surface, we had to start over because a pipe got disconnected and stuck about eight feet down.  That was only the beginning of many discouragements.

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

The first ten feet were easy

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

It took 4 minutes to get it in

The next week we rented a machine invented by an Amish man that eliminated some of the exhausting manual labor.  This worked great till we hit the hard pan which was several feet thick.  One time we pulled up the pipe and found the teeth at the end completely worn flat. 

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Silver Oak made a handle to clamp onto the pipe to grip it easier

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

No teeth left

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

New teeth cut

After cutting new teeth things went faster, but below the hard pan was a layer of mush that kept caving in, making the pipe stick.  The water would quit washing up.  Instead it built up pressure inside the pipe, and things started popping apart if we didn’t raise the pipe quickly.  Try lifting a 30 or 40 foot pipe filled with water straight up into the air.  It leaned precariously with the weight of the water, threatening to break or burst.

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Going at it some more

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Using the machine

Nothing was going like the instructions said.  Finally we set up scaffolding above the hole and worked it by hand again.  That went better, but we still kept reaching that sticky layer and when we ran out of water we would have to start over and work our way back through it.

Today (Saturday) we were at it again.  The pipe would get full of water and refuse to wash, forcing us to raise it again.  We would go down 25-30 feet, get it all loosened up, and then need to add more pipe.  In the time it took to grab the PVC glue and slap on a connector and another length of pipe, the hole would close in making it impossible to progress.  If we raised the pipe to wash water back up, the additional length filled with such pressure made things start flying apart.

Several times Silver Oak declared in desperation that he just didn’t know what else to do.  It looked increasingly hopeless.  We would cut the pipe just to save the operation, gradually add length as we worked back down, and it would cave in again.  Nothing worked.  It reminded us of our “impossible” adoption from Kazakhstan two years ago.

We made it to 30 feet, and since the water was no longer washing back up we dropped the well point to see if it worked.  When we raised the drilling pipe the clay caved in again and the well tip could only go down about 23 feet.  We pounded on the top gently to drive it deeper and it wouldn’t budge, but we saw water coming up the well pipe!  We quickly hooked up the pump and got a tiny trickle of water for a minute or two.  Blah!  The well tip had gotten completely stuck and nothing more was coming.  But the worst part came when we tried to pull it back up.  We had twisted the pipe back and forth, causing the threads to loosen where the pipe was fastened to the tip, and when we finally got the pipe back up it left the well tip at the bottom of the well!

This looked like the end.  We’d lost our tip, and we’d lost our well as the stuck tip would interfere with any further action.  Despair.  Hopelessness.  Discouragement.  We were beginning to think we would be working on this the rest of our lives.  We’d been praying already, so we prayed more.  Silver Oak decided we must at least try to regain that well tip.  We lowered the drilling pipe back down carefully, washing with water as it went.  He cut the top off and quickly lowered the well pipe into it.  He felt a little bump when the well pipe reached the stuck tip, then he jiggled it a bit, and turned.  Unbelievably he screwed the pipe right back into that tip, and the water had washed enough that it loosened it so we pulled it back up!  Amazing!  Thank you Lord!

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

The well pipe that disconnected but re-attached

I’m sure this is boring you to death by now, if you have read this far.  The next time we got the drilling pipe down about 30 feet, we did some things differently.  Again we connected the pump, primed it, and got nothing but a little drizzle of water.  We fiddled around to no avail.  After 7pm the children wondered if we were going to stop soon for dinner.  This was getting very old, and we were getting nowhere. 

Past exhaustion, we saw our work was in vain.  I looked at that lousy well and informed Silver Oak, “We’ve drilled a 30 foot hole, and just can’t get it.  It’s time we hire someone who can do it right.”  At that moment the pump gulped, and to our astonishment water burst forth! It gushed a strong steady stream out of the pipe on the pump, forming a pool in our front yard!  Water was coming OUT OF OUR WELL!!!

Words cannot describe our elation.  We hollered and shouted!  The children gathered in amazement.  Later we recalled my words of gloom and doom.  What if we had turned off the pump three seconds before the water appeared?

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Several of the children were concerned about all the water being wasted on the ground. Ha!

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Farmer Boy digs his own well

Tonight, for the first time since we moved to this new homestead six months ago, the water tanks on the roof were filled to overflowing from our own well!  And they filled fast!  Isn’t God good?

Blessings,

WATER!!  We Dug a Well!

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

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The Best Way to Learn Sustainable Living

The Best Way to Learn Sustainable Living

Butterfly, our nine-year-old daughter, was adopted from Liberia when she was five. Here she holds a photo of when she still lived at the orphanage.

I’ve gotten so far behind in what is going on here on our new off-grid homestead that I can hardly catch up.  I still can’t be online much because that virus we got recently messed something up and our internet service is being used up like crazy.  Hopefully it will be resolved soon.

This past weekend Silver Oak and I went to Ohio with one of our adopted daughters to participate in a video production for The Shepherd’s Crook (TSC) ministry.  The video will be a tool to educate and encourage prospective adoptive families considering international adoption.  TSC was instrumental in helping us find and bring home our four adopted children.  They are a non-profit organization who lists special needs or older children who need homes, and they help the families and children find each other.  They are not an adoption agency, but are very supportive of the adoptive family throughout the entire process.  They have been an inspiration to our family for years, and they asked to feature one of our daughters on this video, along with six other children and their parents.  It was an encouraging weekend.

The Best Way to Learn Sustainable Living

Butterfly stands on the set during a break from filming

Meanwhile, back at the off-grid homestead, things rolled along like usual.  Evenstar, our 17-year-old, was responsible to manage things while we were away, and she did a great job!  The older kiddos helped of course, and the youngest ones stayed in town with my parents while we were gone.  We thank the Lord for His protection!

I am quite pleased to say that all went well.  How many teenagers would know how to manage an alternative power system all by themselves? They had to start the generator and keep the batteries charged, know when to turn off the generator, and keep track of water usage in case more water needed to be pumped up to the tanks on the roof.  Of course if you had kiddos living here they would know how to do those things too.  But I think it’s so neat that they know things now that I didn’t know till I was 44!

All the chores had to be done morning and evening, which includes feeding and milking two goats and one cow, feeding two horses, the chickens, the younger goats, three dogs, one cat, a lot of rabbits and bunnies, and the keets.  Some of the animals need brushing or other special attention as well.

They did a good job keeping everything in order and enjoyed themselves, but of course they were quite glad when we returned home.  Blossom, our 12-year-old daughter, tended to the abundance of milk from Buttercup (the cow).  She separated the cream to save for me to make butter and she made cottage cheese with the extra skim milk.

The Best Way to Learn Sustainable Living

The barnyard is a busy place at chore time

All this to say that homesteading is indeed a good education and a great way to prepare our children for life, one of the things we love about this way of living.  Besides the character qualities of diligence, responsibility, perseverance, initiative, frugality, orderliness and more, and the daily exercise of body and mind, there are many practical skills and much knowledge learned as a normal part of life here on the homestead.

Blessings,

The Best Way to Learn Sustainable Living

Linked w/Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives Thursday, My Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.

The Best Way to Learn Sustainable Living
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