Homesteading (26)

Most Useful Tools for a Half-Acre Homestead

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Summon the word “homestead” and you likely think of hardy farmers with 10 or more acres on which they keep livestock, grow and preserve a great deal of their own food, and fell trees to build their homes. But more modest-sized homesteads are more attainable for most people, and these smaller-scale acreages can embody old-school homesteading in principle, if not in scope. Our half-acre homestead is one of those. Following are some of the most useful tools and techniques that have made Lesley’s and my 40-year journey toward greater self-sufficiency possible.

www.motherearthnews.com/…

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Welsh "Hobbit House" Faces Demolition

Welsh Hobbit House

Sent to us by Conor McBrierty :

A young family is making a last-ditch effort to save its cherished “hobbit house” from the bulldozers after planners deemed it had to be razed.

Charlie Hague and Megan Williams used natural materials to lovingly build their roundhouse tucked away in southwest Wales. But the pair, both 27, applied for planning permission only after moving in with their newborn son, Eli, in 2012.

Though many local people did not even know the small building was there, planners ruled the house did not fit in with the surrounding Pembrokeshire countryside and decided it had to go.

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New Video of Lloyd Kahn's Homestead by Kirsten Dirksen, Fair Companies

Kirsten Dirksen
Photo by Nicolás Boullosa

Kirsten Dirksen is a filmmaker with Fair Companies, a bilingual media operation that she and her husband Nicolás Boullosa run out of Barcelona. Kirsten is a former TV producer for MTV and the Travel Channel who now focuses on “…community and access to tools on sustainable culture.” She has produced almost 600 videos, an amazing body of work when you consider that it’s the editing, not the shooting, that is so time-consuming. I don’t know how she does it.

We’ve had a bunch of people shoot film (OK, OK, video) around here and they generally take a long time to get set up, then follow a preconceived series of shots and questions.

Kirsten walked in the first time and within 5 minutes, was shooting. We were comfortable with her. She winged it, seeing what we were doing, following us around. On one of her visits, her two little long-haired girls explored the garden and chickens and Nicolás shot photos.

…[more on full post page]…

One thing I love about this video is that she recognized what Lesley is doing in her life and with her garden, her art, and her attitude towards a home. Often that gets missed in people coming here to see me.
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Lloyd Kahn and His Greenhouse

Art Rogers Family Album, November 6, 2014 | The Point Reyes Light

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Lloyd Kahn and his greenhouse built from recycled windows and handmade bricks made from local clay. Photo by Art Rogers

Lloyd, who was born and raised in San Francisco, began building things in the late 1940s when, at age 12, he helped his father construct their family home in Colusa. After building a large timber home for himself from recycled materials in Big Sur in 1967, he became interested in domes and began his publishing career with a series of publications titled Dome Book 1 and Dome Book 2; he became the “Shelter” editor in 1969 for the Whole Earth Catalogue. He moved to Bolinas in 1971, built a dome, tore it down and replaced it with a stud-framed house and became a pioneer of owner-built simple structures using recycled materials. He has since published over 20 books on the subject, including  Shelter, and The Septic System Owners Manual, Builders of the Pacific Coast, and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

He will be giving a slide presentation and book signing this Friday, November 7, 2014, 7:30 p.m., at the Point Reyes Presbyterian Church for his latest book about living in small structures, titled Tiny Homes on the Move: Wheels and Water.

For more information, visit www.pointreyesbooks.com.

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Septic System Scams — Homeowners, Beware!

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 8.10.38 AMI got a robot phone call last night (around dinner time, of course): “Hello, this is not a solicitation, this is about your septic system…”

The object was to sell homeowners on additives that will “…improve septic tank digestion of solids.”

Don’t fall for this scam. Below is what we wrote in Septic Systems Owner’s Manual (There are 5 complete chapters from the book reprinted here, along with other septic info.).

ssom2-648HSeptic system additives, especially enzymes. (You don’t need to add enzymes; they’re naturally present in the sewage.) Beware of telemarketers or ads hawking additives claiming to avoid tank pumping. They actually break down the scum and sludge into small particles, which are then readily flushed out into the drainfield, increasing possibility of premature drainfield failure. The State of Washington has banned septic tank additives. In Tiburon, California, a homeowner recently added enzymes to a septic system that had been working perfectly well. Soon after, sludge moved out into the drainfield and the system failed.

I wrote an article that appeared in The Mother Earth News in 2008 about the sorry state of septic systems engineering and regulations in the U.S.: www.motherearthnews.com/….

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Making Shelter Simple: An Interview with Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd“When I was a kid I had a little workbench with holes in it, and the holes were square or round or triangular. And you had to pick the right little piece of wood block and hammer it in with a little wooden hammer. And so I’d hammer with it, put the round dowel into the round hole, and hammer it through. And then maybe the most formative thing was when I was twelve — I helped my dad build a house. It had a concrete slab floor, and concrete block walls. And my job was shoveling sand and gravel and cement into the concrete mixer for quite a while. We’d go up there and work on weekends. One day we got the walls all finished, and we were putting a roof on the carport, and I got to go up on the roof. They gave me a canvas carpenter’s belt, a hammer and nails, and I got to nail down the 1″ sheeting. And I still remember that, kneeling on the roof nailing, the smell of wood on a sunny day. And then I worked as a carpenter when I was in college, on the docks. I just always loved doing stuff with my hands…”

Check out the article over at Medium.

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