I live on a pretty self sufficient farm-ette in the forest in the pacific northwest, yet I know I can do more.
I have grass fed milk (and wool) sheep, chickens and ducks and a great pound-puppy-turned-livestock-gurdian-dog. I just butchered my first hog that I pastured for the last year in a half forest half grassy area. (I have horses too.) I don't use chemical dewormers, unless I absolutely have to. Once for the pig (when I first got him) and once for a sheep that isn't very hardy. The rest of the time I use things like DE, cayenne pepper, pumpkin seeds and pasture rotation.
I have rain barrels that supply water to the livestock, orchard and garden. I chop all my wood by hand, anything too big my neighbor's son comes down to help with his chain saw.
I make my own shampoos, tooth paste, lotions, laundry detergent and dish soap. I barter with a friend that makes my goat milk soap bars-full of herbs etc. Hopefully this year I will be able to make my own soap with my sheep's milk.
I'm on the other side of the Tacoma narrows bridge.
My dog is a (believe it or not) St. Bernard! She is the third one I've gotten so far from the rescue. She does not behave anything like a Bernard though, she is lean and fast and acts more like a junk yard dog rather than a pet. She does guard her animals very well though, we call her the bouncer.
I don't think anything on my place is worthy yet to be on a video though. lol It is still a work in progress.
Sally, I am new at this also and doing it alone so I am inspired by all you are doing. I am particularly interested in your rocket stove. How did you make it and how big is it? I do know how to make a smaller one but that small size does not seem very stable for regular outdoor use. I did find one online that was a 5 gallon size (to hold a large kettle) and has a top stack to double as a water purifier.. I would be very interested in what you used and a photo if possible. Thanks. (I want to start practicing now....some day I may need to change out my indoor propane fireplace with an indoor rocket stove/bench model.)
It is very simple to make. The bricks are simply stacked up, there is no mortar. I used a base of 4 cinderblocks (so I wouldn't have to bend over to cook) stacked into a cube. Then I used 16 fire bricks to make my rocket stove. For the very top (where the pots or pans sit) I used 2 pavers that I cut in half (easy to do with a hammer).
It is the same size more or less than the 4 cinder blocks holding it up.
I am not sure how to upload pics, when I figure that out I'll post some pictures.
It gets hot enough to bring a 16 quart pot full of water to a boil, using nothing but yard waste such as twigs and small branches. All of my prunings from my orchard get saved for the rocket stove. You do have to babysit it though. One thing I really like about it is that it doesn't make smoke. My 14 year old daughter has cooked many of her meals on it too.
You can even make a very simple one in the ground too, say for camping, just by digging a couple of holes.
Ok, now that I know how to upload photos, here are some pics of my livestock gurdian dog "Kate". The sheep and chickens and ducks are pastured together out back. (I have not had to mow my back yard (one acre) since I got the sheep.) Anyway she keeps her eye on them at all times.
Thanks Sally. I had watched a Rotary video that made one the same way...I had just forgotten about it. Seems simple enough...if this rain ever stops, I will give it a try.
I love your pictures.
One more question...what do you use for organic mulch? My property is all oak and pine which is too acidic by itself. I do have a small area (about 50 x 20) at the bottom of my property where I could plant something to use as mulch as long as the deer don't like it and my neighbors don't get too close with their sprays which I can't stop. I used to be able to buy organic straw but that is no longer an option...and I prefer to use something that is regenerative. I do have access to organic coffee grounds and am currently collecting organic comfrey starts...any other ideas? Thanks again.
The hay isn't organic unfortunately, it is too hard to find here...and probably too expensive for me too. I don't use the hay anymore, (I have enough leaves to choke a frog) but I don't have a recent photo of my garden, so I used that one.
I do use every organicly grown-and-then-dropped leaf and all clippings I can find on this place. Nothing here has ever been treated as far as I know. The owners before me were really against using anything other than natural products and they lived here 30 years. Before that it was just a forest.
My compost pile is really my garden. All kitchen scraps, coffee grounds etc just get tucked under the thick layer of mulch. I do have another one for horse and chicken manure etc too.
I am really excited to learn more from this site, I want a bigger garden!!
Lovely pictures Sally! Love the one with your daughter and all the animals That cat is looking good and lazy too. I hope you will continue to share more. I like the Ruth Stout method as well and it seems pretty effective and environmentally sound as far as I can tell.
I'm Lee from St. Paul, MN. We (me husband, 3 kids) live in the city and are trying to be as sustainable as possible. We've had pv electricity for 14 years, a biodiesel car, are extreme gardeners, make beer & hard cider, only buy secondhand, rain barrels, canning, do with out when possible, low heat in house (60* days - 50* nights), no dryer, refuse to fly, chickens, warm windows, composting, worms, ...... we're passionate about all of it and I'm here to learn more.
I am very grateful that I found your site. I had promised myself early in the fall that I was going to promote this tip as much as possible, and I didn't do it justice. So, I'm hopefully sharing it with a wide group who will appreciate the idea.
Take any type of old plastic container (milk jug, pop liter.... ) that you can find and fill it up with water. Freeze it outside and put it in the refrigerator. The ice chunk will slowly melt but it will significantly lessen your electrical usage for the frige. I have a couple of them and switch them when needed using the frige as a icebox in the winter. Depending on your usage, computers usually use the most electricity in a house, but the refrigerator is very high too. This can substantially lower your electricity bill too. Don't let it touch the lettuce though - that's a bummer.
Since I'm just new today, I'll read and learn before saying more. I sure wish Sally was a neighbor though!
Thanks Nathan, and you are right, that cat is very fat and very lazy. lol
Funny thing about the pig, he just showed up one day out of the forest as a tiny piglett. He was full of fleas, worms, he was uncasterated and very hungry. Nobody claimed him, so by default he was ours.
We aren't the butchering type, not even our old hens, but we couldn't keep a 400lb pet pig. He had a good life, got daily back scratches and lived in a pen that was half forest and half grass. It was a very hard decision to have him butchered, however when he had a hard time getting around we knew it was the right thing to do.
Hi Harlane and Lee...I'm totally digging this site too. Oh, and Lee, I wish you were my neighbor too, you sound like a cool cat and I love beer and hard cider.
p.s. good tip too.
I got Gaia's Garden from the library and already read it cover to cover. I also ordered a permaculture manual and beginners guide too. I can't wait until they arrive! I think I'm going to have to put the hands on course on hold because it doesn't fit into my budget this year.