denise ra wrote:How do these systems work in winter? I'm in Western Oklahoma and everything goes dormant in the winter when it can be pretty cold. Also, what about freezing? I don't think I can just attach a hose to the outside of my wall as I know it will freeze in winter. I'm also planning on not being here sometimes for months at a time, so what happens to reed beds and plants and trees when there's no water coming out of the house? Also, for those of you with dishwashers what are you using for dish soap?
Denise, my experience in south central Oklahoma: Lived in an off-grid home. Greywater from the kitchen sink (the only drain in the house) was directed straight to an Hugulkulture bed under a tree. I was able to grow awesome shade loving plants there. It would freeze periodically, not often, only when it was really bitter. I believe a bit more decline in the pipe would have helped. Years before, in southwestern Oklahoma, all the graywater from an on grid home went to a rock filled pit with no problem. The pipe was underground and I think in the western part of the state, with our winds, that's the best bet. We're back in far southwest Oklahoma now, in an on-grid home. Would love to do a graywater diversion, but the plumbing is under the slab and I haven't taken the time to ponder how best to make it work.
So, yes, I think you could make it work with some thought and maybe a false start or two.
I was born and raised in southwest Oklahoma and recently moved back after 20 years in the much wetter south central area. There aren't a lot of persimmons here, I remember a few from when I was a kid. My aunt transplanted wild grapes from a creek site to her dry, tightland garden more than 60 years ago and did well with those. Sand plums are the go-to wild fruit out here. It looks like we might have a crop this year. Last year they perished in a late freeze. We used to be able to find blackberries in the shelter belts, but a lot of those are gone now. Prickly Pear fruit is an option. Also there are things that can be done with mesquite. Mulberry is a good choice as well. My aunt that had the wild grapes also grew figs. I've planted a Chicago Hardy and am anxious to see how it does. There were trifoliate oranges for years around the local library and I plan to plant some of those as well. I've also seen pomegranate grow and produce here. There are some oaks that will grow. In the sand shinnery oak is easy to find, though it's a spreading bush and not a tree. It does produce acorns, though.
We use a sawdust toilet so have to keep a can of cover material. In a conventional outhouse it doesn't hurt to keep some lime or wood ashes to dump in and help keep odors down. We also keep hand sanitizer and a container of cleaning wipes for quick seat wipedowns. Also, a solar light for night visits.
On the one hand, cattle producers do it all the time. On the other hand, having raised sheep and goats both ways, I wouldn't want to go back to not having the livestock right out the back door. We have much better outcomes (less illness, fewer kidding problems/losses and fewer predator losses) from being able to interact with the animals several times daily. I believe there's quite a bit more interaction even on a subconscious level. That's not to say you couldn't do it. The only way to know for sure (as is the case with most homesteading ideas) if it would work for you is to give it a try. Maybe with a minimum number of one species to start?
Don't ever let anyone tell you that something can't be done or that what's working for you is wrong. 😉
This is what we use for 2 people in Oklahoma, zone 7, temperature lows between 5 and 20F. We separate probably 75% of the urine. We don't use a diverter but keep a separate urine bucket that we've just gotten used to using. No strict rules about urine separation. Each barrel fills up in 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how much company we've had. After 4 to 6 months of composting in the barrels we dump into an open compost area for a few months before using. When it's warm we get lots of soldier fly larvae in the barrels which really helps stuff break down.
That's a good thought. It would depend on the temperature and how quickly curds form which would probably vary with the acidity of the yogurt. I'll mess around with it today and let you all know my results. I love a good experiment!
I don't know about Aussie skillets, but as far as American skillets I would consider buying an old one instead of a new one. The finish on the old skillets was much smoother and higher quality from the factory and not just from years of use.
In small quantities it's unlikely to do any harm and may well do some good. I'd suggest mixing it with compost when you use that as soil remediation. The damage seems to have been caused when adding large concentrations of biochar in some circumstances. That's unlikely to apply to the kinds of quantities coming out of your stove (although you might want to look at efficiency if you are producing charcoal, not ash).
Thanks. We do have less than 100% efficiency with our wood cook stove, but we don't mind producing a little charcoal along with the ash. We save it to use for grilling in the summer, etc. so it's actually part of our overall system of things.
I think it would be similar at least. By cooking the yogurt the resulting curd would be drier and require less time in the sun I would think. I had some extra yogurt yesterday so I strained it, salted and mixed in some dried ground habanero pepper. It sat outside in the sun and breeze yesterday and should by dry enough to make a ball today.
I am a fan of Joseph Jenkins, the Humanure author. Unless you have a definite need to separate urine from faeces (the only one I can think of is separate application to a new compost pile ala' Steve Solomon), I would do as Jenkins suggests and put urine and faeces together, covering the result with a generous carbonaceous cover material.
All this angst for separating urine seems to be unnecessary...
I agree. We have used a homemade composting toilet for about 17 years. Our angst free system is: Boys pee in the woods during the day. Girls pee wherever they're comfortable, even in the bucket. (Turns out I'm pretty comfortable squatting anywhere while guests like the seat in the outhouse.). Everyone pees in the night bucket after sundown, mostly because that's when the copperheads like to crawl around in warm weather. We do our initial composting in 5 large, black garbage bins with lids for a household of two people. There are holes drilled in the bottom and sides for drainage and ventilation. Roughly every 4 to 6 months these are emptied into another larger bin for several more months. Our initial bins are numbered so when they're all full we can know which is oldest for dumping and it usually smells earthy and not stinky by that time. Our outhouse is less than 15 feet out the back door and we have no odor problems. We also dump kitchen scraps and the occasional small dead animal in the humanure bins without complication.
Let me show off my mental simplicity 😉. We burn a variety of native wood in our stove - oak, pecan, elm and box elder. Nothing processed or treated. The resulting charcoal is as close to bio char as we're going to get. What are the advantages and any disadvantages to spreading this plain old charcoal (just charcoal, not ashes) on our gardens?
What temperature range do you store the brining* cheese? I'm not sure if I should put it in the basement at about 18C, or in the egg fridge at about 8C
I like cool room temperature, which for us southerners translates to about 70F. In the summer the root cellar works better for us (about the same temp.) If I were in your location I'd just leave it out on the counter. I didn't watch the video (we have limited bandwidth) so I don't know how long they recommend to age it, but we usually eat ours within a few days to a week. It will age in the fridge, just faster if it's warmer.
I've raised many orphan lambs and kids but I haven't raised lambs on goat milk so can't comment. I can add, however, that if you have to use milk replacer it has been our experience that it's best to use the highest quality lamb (not cow or multi species) replacer you can find and make certain the baby gets some colostrum in the first 24 hours. Also, it's been our experience that it's not necessary or even desirable to bottle feed for months. We begin slowing decreasing quantity from a high of about a quart a day starting at 3 to 4 weeks fully weaning at 8 to 10 weeks. Providing a good quality creep from as early as a week helps with outcome. Again, this is just our experience.
There's the old trick of having an ice chest open at night and then closing it in the morning, keep it in the shade during the day. We did this with eggs, cucumbers, squash, anything we'd get a large amount of that needed to be kept cool a few days until farmers market. We had a big restaurant walk-in cooler that we would keep relatively cool this way without using the compressor.
This is how we deal with curing meat (in winter) during warmer spells
We have the issue of having what's evolving, after many years of work, into a lovely, productive homestead and no one to leave it to. Our children are idiots, not interested in the land or the lifestyle, and we won't allow them to profit from our work. I had a cousin in a similar circumstance who, in her older years, had a family that lived with her and helped her allowing her to stay on the farm. She left everything to them. The rest of our family got a little bent out of shape over this initially, but in thinking about it it seems like a logical plan. So, in 15 years or so, we'll have a wonderful deal for the right young family. 😉
Before we got refrigeration we would can a lot of our food. I've actually pressure canned over an open fire but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who wasn't experienced in both pressure canning and open fire cooking. Our non- refrigeration, non-canning strategy would have to be based on fresh food and yogurt, drying, fermenting, curing/smoking. These are the issues we have in a hot summer climate:
We have a partially finished root cellar under the house, roughly 9 ft x 16 ft. The temperatures average mid 50's in the winter and mid 70's in the summer. 50's will work for aging cheese but I have lots of mold issues. 70's are fine for storing dried things, but they have to be in a moisture- tight container because of humidity. I have stored dry-cured ham down there, but again excessive mold is a problem. The best use I've found for the root cellar in summer is for making wine and fermented products like kraut. We do have to can any excess kraut to keep it much past the time fermentation is complete. This summer we hope to finish the cellar, installing insulated walls that will help lower the summertime temp.
We also have a spring down on a seasonal creek below the house. It needs a spring house but the problem has been that the spring opens down in the lower part of the creek bank and when hard rains come we have a fairly powerful creek rise that would flood and possibly destroy a structure. Hopefully we will be able to improve the spring to where it runs from a point further up the hill. The water temperature at the open outlet runs about mid 60's in hot weather. We are able to use the spring for a water source that we purify using a bio-sand filter.
We raise a feeder pig or two every year and are fairly proficient in curing and smoking. Our cured meat is a late winter/early spring treat as we have found and verified historically that cured meat is generally getting rancid by early summer here in the south. Once the weather warms we can both ham and bacon to hold the meat longer.
We also raise rabbits and chickens which are traditionally summer meat, but realistically both will be tough if not kept cold to age and come out of rigor for at least 24 hours after death. If you go from slaughter straight to the cook pot it's best to stew or braise, both of which are fuel intensive.
While we live in a generally dry summer climate, our homestead is located in the bottom of a canyon which provides us with a lovely, moister microclimate. Unfortunately it can make dehydrating tricky. We have decent luck with dehydrating most fruits and veggies in the greenhouse but it can be hard to get things dry enough. The humidity also makes evaporative cooling techniques less effective.
We are fortunately warm enough to make yogurt in ambient temps in the summer which in turn makes a nice soft cheese. Feta works pretty good for intermediate storage as well. Our real issue is probably that we make more milk than two people can reasonably use, which is a different topic altogether.
For things we do can, we've started to use Tattler reusable lids. The failure rate is a little bit higher than metal lids, but not unacceptable (about 5 to 10% after the learning curve).
Mike, thanks. I'll check it out. Also found a post from 3 years ago where someone had done just what I'm thinking of.
R, refrigeration is our #1 power consumer. Even using the chest freezer on an external thermostat our system current 380 watt system is pretty stressed in the summer here in the southern plains. We have a mixed bag of cooking techniques. About 6 months out of the year (October through March) we use a Pioneer Maid wood cook stove in the house. When the weather warms up we switch to propane in an outdoor summer kitchen to avoid heating up the house since we don't have air conditioning. We also grill quite a bit and have a cob oven with an attached open fire area for Dutch oven cooking. We've done some experimenting with a solar oven but haven't perfected that yet beyond popping some leftovers in in the morning to be warm for a late lunch. Living off-grid is awesomely liberating and I can't imagine that I would want to live any other way. Probably the biggest challenge at least at first, and the one that gets people the most worked up, is the lack of air-conditioning in a climate where 100 degree summer afternoons aren't unusual. Once you acclimate, though, it's not that big a deal. We have large shaded decks and spend most of our warm weather time outdoors. Until we built our current 600 square foot house we slept outside most summers. The new house has 12 foot walls on one side with eave vents, lots of windows along with 3 doors and an open floor plan which helps us stay comfortable on hot summer nights. I use a small 12 volt fan at night because a woman of a certain maturity just has to have a little air moving to sleep well.
I guess I'm going to give myself away as a redneck, but I like this one both for cobbling and for washing blankets off-grid. ( I put them in the shallow stock tank that doubles as our bathtub and stomp them around in warm water). My husband gets tickled at either one.
I have the same issue when I use buckets with having to watch closely to keep it level. I just keep an eye on it, propping as I go, eventually the curd firms up enough that it stays level. I've used an old lard press with pretty good success and also a piece of 6 or 8" stainless steel pipe with a big piece of 2" steel plate that fit down onto it.My husband was building oilfield pressure vessels at the time and had access to lots of good scrap. The key to life, in my opinion (at least here on the homestead) is knowing that there's more than one way to skin a cat.
We lived without refrigeration for several years and if push came to shove could certainly do without again, but . . .
Part of our small (380 watt soon to be expanded to 760 watt) system currently includes a chest freezer converted to a fridge using an external mechanical thermostat. We've used this method for several years both off-grid and before that while on the grid and preparing for the transition. It works pretty well except for the condensation buildup in the floor of the freezer, difficulty accessing items and some rust problems. I would advise anyone considering this to go with a freezer interior that's aluminum or plastic. The freezer is sited on a covered breezy dogtrot. We don't use air conditioning so it's just as cool there as anywhere. We choose refrigeration at this point because we deal with several gallons of goat milk daily for several months out of the year and in the summer even our under the house root cellar is over 70 degrees.
Now for the actual question: Does anyone have any constructive thoughts or experience with super- insulating an upright freezer or a refrigerator, the kind with all the coils at the back? I know you can't do it with a chest freezer as the coils are in the walls. My goal is to have an efficient A/C refrigeration unit that doesn't cost an arm and a leg that is easy to access and doesn't leave food sitting in a puddle of water. The D/C units I've found are out of my price range right now.
I'm glad to see so many vets here. We are both veterans, husband an OEF vet with mild tbi, ptsd and some other issues. Living simply on the land is the only way he could survive. Would love to connect with other Oklahoma veterans who share our interests in self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Southern peas are one of our preferred calorie crops here in southern Oklahoma. Squash can be iffy for us because of squash bugs but we have pretty good results with sweet potatoes and they store well in our warmer climate. Most years we grow a small white potato crop and preserve it either by canning or shredded and dried.
I have had good results with bandaging the cheesecloth wrapped curd into a round (wrap a strip of folded cheesecloth or cotton fabric around the outside and secure with a safety pin) then placing it on an overturned plate in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket. I place a second plate on top to make a nice smooth surface then place a second 5 gallon bucket on top of that. With this set up I can get accurate pressure poundage by adding water to the top bucket- 8 pounds to the gallon. When making hard cheese bringing able to incrementally increase pressure is necessary and with a 5 gallon bucket I can get up to 40 pounds. I've used several makeshift pressing setups and this one seems to work best for me.
Getting ready as we speak to start this years' goat milking and butter and cheese making.
We raise goats and rabbits and produce lots of manure for compost. The rabbit manure is easy to handle, but am having trouble with the goat barn manure/straw material making big hard clumps (or soggy, depending on the weather.). We live in the southern Great Plains where rain is either sporadic or a deluge. We have been composting in large simple piles. Would it help to cover the piles in plastic, etc. or to use some type of tumbler? Husband is a welder and can fabricate whatever might be needed.