Hi Carmen, I'm so excited for you that you get to move onto your place finally! PM me if you need help with anything.I am just starting to learn about RMH and stoves so I won't be much help there though I'd be happy to help with the labor of building one.
With your camp stove, if you decide to use it inside now that the weather is getting cold and rainy, I have some thoughts. My dad is a retired fire chief and he told me for propane you need a specific propane detector in addition to a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is released with burning the fuel. Propane itself is heavy and will sink to the floor so you put that detector near the floor. We had a carbon monoxide detector plugged in right next to our propane range and came home from a date one night to a house full of propane and a babysitter who just thought we had exceptionally stinky garbage can or something. 😬 The carbon monoxide detector didn't go off because there was none.
Thankfully they add that stinky smell to the propane because the knobs on our stove sometimes get bumped into an on position. Our kitchen/living room is large so it would take a while for the gas to make it to the bedrooms in our house and we've always caught the leaks before that could happen. For safety in your position, I would store the propane outside and I would turn the propane tank off and disconnect the stove each time. That way if there is any little leak, the gas is leaking outside.
For carbon monoxide, your space is really small so I would have a window open and a little fan by the window to circulate the air outside and a carbon monoxide detector on the countertop near the camp stove. Walmart has these nifty fans that charge their battery by USB and then you could just sit it by your open window. (It was a little cheaper this summer when I bought one for my daughter.) It kept a charge for a long time each day.
Here's some pictures of the partially dried wool. Looking more closely at the different sections, I am seeing the wisdom of doing small sections at a time. Some pieces look beautifully clean, and others are just a little dirty or greasy and some are disgusting.
Thank you again Carla! So much good advice for me to consider!
I have the other (unwashed) fleece stored in mesh bags- do you have any advice about how to store it until I can clean it? It's stinky and dirty so I don't really want it in the house but I know if I keep it in the garage, mice are going to get into it. Maybe I could hang it from the ceiling?
Thank you Carla for all your advice and encouragement!
Carla Burke wrote:
With consideration for your septic system, I'd switch to doing one at a time, in a big bucket, tote, or tub, near the garden, or just someplace out of the way. Cleaning fleece is neither a neat, easy, nor quick process, and you'll be much happier with yourself, and less frustrated with the fleece, if you don't try to rush it, but simply enjoy the process. That is likely my biggest struggle, because enjoying the process, when I'm in a hurry to see the results... well, I've not mastered it, yet - at least not with cleaning fleeces. 🙄😬
Part of the reason I ended up doing it in the bathtub inside was that it was the safest and easiest way that I could get really hot water to soak the fleece in. The idea of walking back and forth from inside to outside with containers of really hot water sounded exhausting, plus it would be inevitable that I would try over a child underfoot and spill said hot water all over us.
I don't know that just doing one bag at a time would have saved me any time or made it more enjoyable. I'd still be filling a container and draining it on repeat for hours.
Carla Burke wrote:
As far as using soap, I've tried rinsing first, with plain water; scouring with soap, first; and skipping the soap, in favor of the suint method. At least for sheep fleece, I prefer the suint, by far - for several reasons. Once it's rinsed clean, it remains soft, and lovely not only to touch, but for your skin's health.
By the end of the day, the suint method was sounding very, very attractive to me. But since it is cooling down in my area, will it work out do I have to wait until next summer to try it?
I do have the dirtiest part of that fleece soaking in water in black plastic tote in the yard. Maybe I'll just let it continue to sit there for the next week or so and try it out.
Carla Burke wrote: Many folks like to spin 'in the grease', which means the lanolin hasn't been removed.
I have never done any spinning, though I'd like to try (we have a simple drop spindle). We might use some of it to experiment with spinning but I was planning on using the fleece to make some felted crafts and hats and stuff like that. The white one we want to use to learn about dying with plants. I think we have to get it pretty clean to dye. And after that who knows what we will end up doing with it. In the long run, if we completely mess up, I'll use it as stuffing for sewing projects.
Carla Burke wrote: The most effective way I've seen it removed, was with a pair of combs, or a comb & hackle. It's slower than carding, and just as hard or harder on the hands, but the results are substantially finer and cleaner. I don't have a set, myself, so I used my swing picker, then the drum carder. But, those two items are not only less efficient at vm removal, and more likely to damage the fiber, they're also far more expensive than the combs or comb & hackle, and much less portable. Guess what's on my 'must buy, next' list... I'd recommend a comb & hackle first, if you've not already acquired any of these tools.
We don't have any tools yet. Looks like I have to watch some YouTube videos and learn about all these methods. Until this year I only had ever heard of carding. This year I learned about drum carders and willowing. And now you've told me the terms swing picker and comb and hackle. 😁 A friend of mine who spins told me there is a shop close by with a drum carders people can use but I don't know how clean i the fleece should be before I could use it. She always sends her animals' fiber to a mill to get it cleaned so she couldn't help me out with this first step.
I think my next experiment will be to put out some of the wool and pick some willow branches and let my kids try out willowing. It sounds like delightful messy chaos! If it's not very effective, oh well! Then we can try to acquire a few tools. A lot of what I'm trying to do here is to give my kids experiences that put the idea in their head that they can do anything if they want to learn by exposing them to lots of hands on experiences. Grow food, make clothes, build a home, etc.
Seems like another area where we have lost traditional knowledge. I wonder when and where in the world lanolin first was extracted for separate use.
If you have to boil and boil and skim and add stuff, who first thought "Hey, I know what would be fun! Let me feed a fire for hours (with wood I had to gather and chop) to boil my wool (which I depend on to clothe my family so I must not let it felt) in a pot (possibly the only pot I have so no meals that need it today)."
It seems like there must be a different way where the lanolin is able to be collected as a natural byproduct, and not just a separate process from the regular processing of wool for making cloth.
So I finally had a day free to dedicate to washing one of the fleece. It's almost midnight and I still don't feel positive that it's clean.
I have it laid out on a drying rack anyway because I'm not going to have time to even look at it for the next few days. Please can you tell me what I should do next?
I decided to start with my gray fleece; well, it's mostly gray, kind of silvery but also has midnight black strands and white strands too. There are parts that also look reddish brown but I'm not sure if that is just staining on the white part of the wool. Also I got the impression this was the first time these sheep have been sheered so does wool change color as the sheep matures? I don't have details because I was gifted the fleece through a friend of a friend. They weren't sheered until late summer which seems odd to me.
Maybe I should have started with the all white one since it looked cleaner and would have been easier to see the difference in the wool at the end- the wool looks white and the dirt looks black, simple...
Anyway, I started out by trying to skirt the fleece. All the muddy matted edge is soaking in a tote in my yard. I figured I should ignore it until I successfully clean the not so dirty stuff.
I put the rest of it into about ten mesh bags. I used my bathtub with super hot water and Unicorn Power Scour (I'll try it with my cloth diapers after I'm done with these fleece). Soaked them for twenty minutes and had a bathtub that looked like chocolate. Drained, rinsed the mud from the tub, refilled and put more soap in and soaked again. The second time it looked like a not so dirty mud puddle.
After that I started soaking and rinsing without the soap. Maybe that was my problem. Maybe I should have used soap again? But I had read some people warning against over-washing it and making it dry and brittle. I soaked it and drained out the water another five times. (It really made me wish we had a grey water system set up instead of sending all that water to the septic.)
By the last soak, eight of the ten bags had clean water coming from them. Two of them were draining slightly tinted water. I put the wool from those two bags on the bottom of the drying rack so I can possibly wash them some more later.
I'm pretty underwhelmed at how the wool looks right now. It still looks dirty and matted. There are white blobs of what I'm guessing is lanolin in the middle of the wool if I pull it apart. Does that stuff need to be completely gone?
My impression at this point are that it was much more fun to play with when it was dirty. My hands felt so soft from the lanolin and the wool stayed together. Now my hands feel all dried out (from the super hot water) and strands of wool keep sticking to my hands. I had no idea the fibers would be so long. They are almost as long as my own hair. My hair is also back and silver and white so it felt a little weird because it felt like my own hair was getting everywhere (only my hair is thicker and straighter).
All in all, an interesting experience so far. I hope I can improve the process with the next fleece. Please chime in with advice.
Hi Lila, I just sent you a PM about it but I feel like Egyptian Walking Onions are pretty fool proof. Mine get drenched in winter and neglected in the summer and just keep chugging along. I've never seen any disease or pest pressure on them but my climate is cold and wet to hot and dry but not really hot and humid. I think it would be worth experimenting with though.
Barbara Kochan wrote:I intend to plant a bunch of apple seeds later this fall. ... Any thoughts/suggestions?
Have you ever watched "The Permaculture Orchard" on YouTube? I really learn a lot from him. Stefen has a few videos about how he direct seeded a large area and the results and what he learned a year later and what he plans to do differently next time. It's very interesting.
We have an abundance of wild cherries on our property so I'll be interested in what you learn from your experiment with grafting onto your tree. I've toyed with the idea of getting some sweet cherries to graft onto some of the endless seedlings that pop up all over the place. I just tried grafting with plums and apples this spring and it was a lot of fun and so far very successful (I only lost two grafts out of twenty at this point 6 months later!). I've heard that cherries are harder though.
It's always a big learning curve when you move to a new climate! I've moved a couple of times coast-to-coast and it always took a couple of years for me to really start to understand how my new ecosystem worked.
I'd suggest you wait a year before you invest in trees, for two reasons.
#1- that steep learning curve+trees are expensive
#2- the gravel+weed cover probably equals dead soil underneath and you might want to work on building the soil first with mulch and compost and some nitrogen-fixing crops. Definitely get a soil test done and even better would be to take a look at what soil life you have under a microscope.
Have I taken my own good advice on the past? Nope! And it's cost me hundreds of wasted $$$. I planted at least fifty different native plants the first year we moved to our current house and exactly 2 are still alive and those still struggle because of their poor start due to my mistakes. I also bought a huge bunch of different fruiting shrubs and trees and planted them in poorly prepared soil (a former gravel wasteland), thinking I'd just dig huge holes and fill them with good soil and compost. Those poor things barely straggled on for a few years until I took pity on them and, with a few years of observation under my belt, was able to move them to a much better location in my property. Meanwhile I covered my compacted gravel wasteland in a dump truck load of wood chips from our power company. It was too big an area and I didn't have the means of removing the gravel but luckily there wasn't weed barrier underneath. I'm still trying to remove an obscene amount of weed barrier from a different part of my yard. Anyway those wood chips have gone a huge way in waking up the soil and making it productive.
One way you can get a head start and still get the plants you want (because I definitely understand not wanting to wait!) is to buy tiny cheap little things or get cuttings locally and keep them in pots until they are big and you know your land and climate better. You can also easily move them around and see what kind of sunlight and wind exposure they will get in different areas and what kind of sunlight exposure they like.
Anne Fletcher wrote:My daughter (7 years old) and I LOVE to explore plants to figure out where the seeds are. It's an activity where she gets very calm and focused, and carefully opens seed heads to explore what's inside. Often we use a magnifying glass to examine all the beautiful shapes! She's also a great buddy when it comes time to strip seeds from pods to save seed for next year. It's tedious, but nice, and very satisfying, at the same time.
I have not thought to have my kids examine seeds under the microscope. We will have to do that. The shapes are so interesting and I just got two field microscopes for them to examine bugs with; seeds will be even easier to look at!
Today we were having fun examining the way marigold seeds sit so compactly in their little "cup". It feels like how a magician pulls a scarf from their hat- they just keep coming and coming and coming...
My 9yo used the petals from the dandelion she was drawing in her nature journal to color in the picture.
That led to pounding different flowers to make prints.
And that led to an experiment to make ink/paint out of different petals that she smashed up with water and filtered out the petals. I knew she wasn't going to get anything very vivid but didn't want to discourage her.
She was surprised by some of the colors she got. A deep red rose gave her dark purple, almost blue, water. Dandelions were a muddy yellow she didn't like. But so many pretty colors. She was disappointed that the colors were not bright when she painted on paper (with her handmade brush of grass+stick) but she was not discouraged! She is still interested in continuing to experiment with nature as materials for her art, like using crushed rocks and dirt as well.
We also had a great discussion about what she might need to do to get brighter results, how paint historically is made from minerals and a binder like egg, and went into a tangent about how people can use aged urine to get colors to stick onto fibers. My 11 yo boy thought that was the coolest and volunteered to help if the 9yo wanted to take her experiment in that direction. 😂
We don't see many around our yard and I'm very curious why. I obviously don't want them to decimate my garden but I always liked running around and catching them as a kid. Maybe it's the abundance of wasps and birds we have...?
The first summer we lived here (2015), I planted an orange cherry tomato and a yellow cherry tomato and saved seeds from them. Orange and yellow cherry were the oh so descriptive names provided by the nursery I bought them from. The next year I started some from those seeds but every year after that, there were always volunteer cherry tomatoes growing all over the place, yellow and orange. My climate is not the best for tomatoes actually ripening so I consider this a great win!
Unfortunately our weird spring weather (early warm spell, freezing, cold all through June, then really hot) really messed with my volunteers. 😢 I didn't see any volunteer tomatoes popping up until late July and they never flowered.
Luckily I still have some old seeds saved in the fridge! I haven't collected any new seeds for a few years since I just took my volunteers for granted. So lesson learned! Collect a few seeds even when faced with easy abundance, just in case!
Nicole's great post above is very thorough. I'd like to add one more option, "elimination communication" or EC for short. Basically you learn to pay attention to the baby and learn their schedule and cues and hold them over the potty whenever they need to go.
I still use diapers because I get distracted but I'm on my fifth baby and once my babies get to about three months, I rarely have to change a poopy diaper (like less than ten times ever for each kid, usually only if they have an upset stomach) and I'm talking exclusively breastfed babies which poop more often than formula fed. My youngest is 18 months and she has had 2 poopy diapers in the last year. Pee is a little harder but if I'm not lazy, I only have a wet diaper once or twice a day or even less.
The first time I became aware that not everyone in the world used diapers, I was a teenager visiting a friend at her family's house in China. She had two cousins that were not potty trained yet (EC is not potty training, more like parent training). The baby was probably about four months old and her brother was three. The kids didn't wear diapers but instead had split pants. If the kid crouched, the pants naturally opened up, making it easy for the toddler to go potty without having to unbutton anything. The baby was just held so as to keep her legs out of the way. I was so nervous to hold her because I was sure I'd end up soaked in pee. But I didn't understand yet that babies don't just leak pee constantly.
When our first was born, after the first few months I started noticing that she was dry when I would go to change her at certain times of the day. Rather than put the dry diaper back on, I started holding her over the toilet and to my surprise, she would pee after a minute or two. We ended up buying a tiny baby toilet that she could sit on. The baby potty actually helps them go poop since the position makes it easier and gives their feet something to push against.
Our pediatrician is new to our family and when he asked at baby#5's 1 month appointment how many wet and poopy diapers she was having a day (to gage if she was eating enough), we said one or two (babies pee and poop every hour or two at that age) and then had to explain and show him a picture. He didn't believe us and was laughing and thought we were joking until we showed him the pictures.
I'd post pictures of my adorable babies except I don't think they are appropriate for a public forum (twenty years from now, I don't want anyone getting mad at me for posting a picture of them on the toilet even if they were only a few months old) 😂 But maybe I'll get a picture of the potties.
I'd be happy to share my dehydrator but something like that really only makes sense if someone is pretty close by. I'm not going to mail it to, say, Oregon for example 😂 but you could probably find one for a few dollars at a garage sale or on Craigslist.
You could join a site like NextDoor where you post things that only very near neighbors will see. There are similar Facebook groups for towns or neighborhoods too. I'm not on Facebook but I have lots of friends who trade things they need on Freecycle and Buy Nothing groups (these are small neighborhood/town sized groups).
This is a very interesting topic. Our current (and most likely forever) home is 1700 sf living space, not including the garage and a 700 sf nother-in-law apartment. We have a family of 7;) parents and kids) and we have extended family living in the apartment, for a total of 9 people on our 3.5 acres..
It is really too big but at the time we bought it, it was what we could afford, funnily enough. Smaller houses on similar land in the area were more expensive and often in fixer upper condition. Our house was newer built and in great condition. My husband and I are probably the only people who looked at it and thought it was too big. I actually have a friend who had moved here the same time we did and they had looked at it and decided it was too small for their family of six.
I have lived in small apartments and small houses, as small as 400sf. I never felt cramped. But I've visited people with horribly planned spaces and immediately felt claustrophobic. For us with all our kids, we could be very comfortable with plenty of space in 1200 sf in a traditional house.
I like to dabble in architecture and once planned out just how small I (personally) could go, imagining two parents and six kids. I came up with a design of 800sf, planning even for how much space I would need to pull out a dining chair and still have space to walk behind it and that kind of thing. But it had 10-12' ceilings. I think higher ceilings make a huge difference. Also if I had no outdoor space, that would make smaller living much harder.
I am having a flare up of my eczema after several years of no symptoms. I still have to get to the bottom of this since my symptoms were relieved by cutting out all dairy from my diet but this recent flare-up came after a week of birthday parties with lots of sugary cake so I feel like that is the most recent cause. But in the meantime my skin really needs some relief or I might scratch myself raw!
In the past oatmeal baths have helped but I want to try adding in some herbs to see if I can get longer lasting relief. I've got to go with what I have right now and my list so far is:
Are there any obvious common herbs for healing and soothing skin I could toss in the mix? Also I am nursing a baby so I should stick with pretty benign/mild things.
Garlic could be good but I don't think I want to stink like garlic.
Maybe some coconut oil too?
Also any reason I should NOT take an herbal soup bath for skin relief? I am not an experienced herbalist so I appreciate the guidance.
Scott Stiller wrote:I luckily do not have psoriasis. I do have eczema and extra problems with bug bites.
That’s why I grow marshmallow. I’ve never found anything that gives immediate relief like it does. The fresh root is best but dried also works. I cut it open and wet it before rubbing some on. I’ve read that it can be ground in a mortar and pestle with a little water too.
I’m happy to report that it’s very easy to grow from seed.
My eczema flared up this past month and I'm about to scratch my skin off. I was waiting to harvest my marshmallow but after reading this, I think I'll go dig it up right now. I wonder if the leaves would help at all, like if I threw some in with an oatmeal bath?
I only use a mineral based sunblock when we are at a waterfront playing in the water all day. But even then, we are wearing long sleeved swim clothes.
For everyday normal life, I do not wear sunscreen. I do wear loose long sleeved shirts and loose long pants or skirts and try to stay out of the sun during the afternoon. Our property has quite a lot of thick shade throughout the day so I move around in it or go inside.
I really want a wide brimmed hat but my head is huge and I have not been able to find one that doesn't feel like it's squeezing my brains. After ten years of looking, I think it's time for me to learn how to make the hat I want!
This is my third time trying to post this with the pictures. Fingers crossed it works this time!
These are some of the seeds I collected last week. I store them on a shelf stacked up in these little upcycled cups with the paper label inside. I only do this with seeds in going to be replanting or sharing within the year. Expensive/hard to acquire seeds I store in the fridge but space is a premium in there.
I'm getting ready to build a swing set for my kids and I'm making it sturdy enough for grown ups too (because why should kids get all the fun?). I would like it to last a long, long time so I can keep playing on it after my kids grow up but wood starts to break down pretty quickly in our rainy weather, particularly where the wood touches the ground.
Going with the wood that is readily available around here, we are going to use Douglas fir in 4x6 10' beams for the top and 4x4 legs.
What kind of natural wood preservative or preservation methods could I use on a swing set? I've seen products that you soak the bottom few feet in and the usual stain-type treatments. I found this list and I'm curious what you all think of any of these products/methods:
Pine Tar (this sounds too sticky for a playset)
TimberPro UV Internal Wood Stabilizer (they list playsets as one of the applications)
Eco Wood Treatment (a kind of stain)
LifeTime Wood Treatment (another kind of stain)
Charring it (and would that weaken the wood at all?)
Radish pods are nature's bubble wrap! Radishes are not my favorite vegetables. I eat a few roots and later the flowers and immature seed pods but then leave plenty of them to go to seed so I can pop the seed pods. Is that a little crazy? 🤣
Ever since I was in grade school and would walk along the sidewalk collecting wildflower seeds and then dispersing them in the green lawns of my town, I've found collecting flower seeds to be so fun and relaxing.
In high school, a good friend had a cottage style flower garden and while we would chat, I would be searching through the flowers for seed pods to collect. She and her mom were some of the first people to help me learn plant names.
One of my kids has a collection of sensory and fidget toys to help her concentrate. I think seeds are nature's fidget toys!
You all are plant geniuses. Can you help me with another mystery? This one is growing in a little strip of no man's land between a sidewalk and the porch where weeds battle it out with water deprived flowers. I have a bunch of different kinds of mints, along with thyme, lavender, and rosemary growing in the bed on the other side of the sidewalk, so at first I thought this was some kind of self seeded mint. My spearmint readily seeds itself all over the place.
This has the flower stalk that's a little like a mint but the leaves have a very green, fresh smell- not minty or herbal, but more like lettuce. It smells pretty delicious actually but I'm not going to taste it until I ID it.
The stem is green with a light red line going up it. The stems and leaves have fine hairs. It's about 3' tall.
#1. I have been puzzling over this plant all summer. I keep finding it flowering in completely different areas of my garden so I don't think it's something I planted. The base is a wide rosette of leaves from which the stalk rises up with leaves spiraling around it and multiple yellow flowers at the top.
#2. I let this one grow all summer in one of my kids' beds thinking it was something they planted and that I would eventually recognize it once it flowered. But no, it's definitely a wild plant. That big mass is one single plant. The flowers are miniscule and the seed pods are slender pods that pop and peel back releasing fluffy seeds, kind of like foxglove seed pods only 10xs smaller. (I know it's not foxglove, just the seeds remind me of them.)
a good 100 USD solar powered well pump is what you want before you spend for the wrong solution and end up with a bottomless barrel.
How much it cost you to refurbish the bath tub?
You can get rainwater 65 gal barrels cheap for 19.99 USD in the builder's depot when they are in the promo week.
In my humble opinion: For me it looks you save at the wrong end.
Hi. I have not seen rain barrels for 19.99 but I will look. I won't refurbish the bath tub, just plug it or attach a hose to the outlet. The tub will be a temporary receptacle to catch the water when it comes out of the first hand pump. I will look into a solar pump. It wasn't really feasible for the permanent well pump. There is a whole lot of thievery in my area and it would surely disappear almost immediately. Unfortunately, because that would have been my first choice. Thank you
Following! I have this problem with my asparagus bed. My asparagus is even in a raised bed and that grass climbs up through a few feet of dirt. Weeding it out disturbs the asparagus and in five years, I have yet to harvest a stalk because the grass is crowding it or it's pouting because I bothered it while trying to pull up all the underground roots. I tried planting rhubarb with it, which competed pretty well with the grass but also competed too well with the asparagus.
The sawfly fact is very interesting to me. A couple years ago, I had a big issue with pear sawflies but each year, they were less and less without me doing anything except pick random larva off the leaves of my pear trees. Now I'm curious if the wasps had anything to do with the pear sawflies disappearing. Because I have not seen a single sawfly this year.