Rachel Dee

+ Follow
since Nov 07, 2015
Rachel likes ...
fungi food preservation bee
Merit badge: bb list bbv list
For More
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Rachel Dee

wayne fajkus wrote:I'm interested in making soap from ash and fat. Cooked on a rocket. Good info is needed on this. When i do it i will document it.

I watched many youtubes on using ash. Watching a 20 minute video to find out is was a "fail" was disheartening. I encountered this more than once. I finally found a success. I think the difference was cooking, cooking, cooking til done. Everyone else gave up to soon.

I think the concentration of the lye made from the ash is where it varies so much.

Reliable lye from ashes:

A large amount of hardwood ashes for sodium hydroxide (making hard bars)
A large amount of softwood ashes for potassium hydroxide (making liquid soaps)

I’m talking about 20 Gallons of ashes for a small amount of water passed through it.

Then you make a “well” by digging a hole in the ashes and put in 2L of water
It’ll take a long time to come out and should be strong enough to make an actual soap. If not, pass the resulting liquid through it again.

Then, use that with oils for a better chance at making something successful
We're using an old smoker on top of th the cookstove - this is still new and we haven't worked out the kinks yet. Screens would be better, but we don't have them on hand yet, so we're experimenting.
5 years ago
I found this -

List of Lifetime warranties brands

And the clothespins I was referring to were these : Kevin's Quality Clothespins I really like that they're a small business, making wooden clothespins.

Also, I was thinking more homestead-like; I much rather invest on buying a few hives (with can be 300-600$) instead of having to buy honey. We use our hives as a medecine cabinet - propolis for anything skin or oral related, apitherapy (bee stings) for my partner's arthritis, wax for anything made with wood, candles, making soaps, and so many more uses. It's also entertainment, educational, wholesome.
8 years ago
I'm a fan of this method. I've never had much money to spend, so the money I do spend is well spent.

Where we're living right now, there are no used clothing ctores. I usually buy all of our clothing there, but it's just not an option for us here. The only option available is to go to a fast-fashion clothing store and buy some cheap shirts for cheap prices. I did this once, last year, because my huge pregnant belly would not fit into any of my other shirts. The 4-5 shirts might have cost me $20, but they're all done-done-done now. Useless as rags since they weren't cotton. What a waste.

When going to the used clothing store, I go for the higher quality items. While on a trip, I had found a winter coat for $50 in some sally-ann kinda store, and I decided to buy it. I've seen these coats at specialty mountain-equipment style stores costing $600+, so the $50 seemed worth it. I never had a complaint about it. Much of my pregnant winter (in -40 temperatures for a couple weeks), I would just put it on top of my inside shirt, no sweater, or else I'd be way too warm.

Now, I'm looking into getting lifetime-guarantees objects that I know I'll be using.

I found clothes pins with this guarantee- $20 for 10. Anything happens to it, you get a free replacement for life. I'll probably have to buy 50 of them. I'm looking at $100 of clothes pins, but this is for a lifetime of a sound-quality, no problem, can-hold-my-wet-wool-blankets-up-by-the-edge kind of clothes pins.

I also found lifetime guarantee socks. I must throw out 5-6 pairs of them a year because of holes. This company sells these at around $30 a pair. Anything happens to them, they stretch out too much, you get a replacement. Normally, we buy used military-surplus wool socks at $3-$5 a pair. I throw out $25-$30 worth of socks every year this way.

Other high quality items I'm always looking out for - Wool pants (my partner always manages to make holes in the knees within a year), non-electric kitchen appliances, general clothing, underwear (both panties and wool long underwear), furniture.

I'm not on my personal computer, but I have a list of companies that offer these lifetime guarantees on everyday objects that I know we'll use. I would like to replace every cheap item that we have in our household with one of these high-quality ones.

Another thing that we do - cloth diapers. $500-600 for a full set for a kid for 2 years. Disposable is $2000 through those same years, but at $25 per pack at a time. One diaper is $25 when using cloth. We got lucky and were given 3 sets, so I didn't have to buy anything new for my first kid. With this new baby, I'm starting to buy one at a time, even though I'm just 4 months pregnant.

Most of the time, it's just so friggen hard finding something that is truly quality. Marketing and consumer-based economy confuses the hell out of me - I've seen way too many high-priced low-quality items to trust in the price (washers, big-store furniture, fridges). These break down in less than 10 years, yet would make a huge dent in my wallet!
8 years ago

As Elaine Ingham said : if your soil has too much clay, add organic matter. If it`s too sandy, add organic matter. If it's too alkaline, add organic matter. If it's too acid, add organic matter. Just add organic matter.

We've successfully grown on top of sand. Because... compost! Lots and lots of compost.

We do humanure compost, and that equals a huge amount of new compost every year. We've stopped thinking that garden = going into the soil. Just make the soil on top!

So basically, it has to start with composting everything you have on hand - seems you have hay and animal manure on hand - and you could make something with that for sure if you don't want to get into composting your humanure.

Our steps are :

- Lay out cardboard with tape removed (for us, it acted as a weed barrier, but in your case, it could help with water runoff)
- Lay out finished compost 2 feet deep
- Lay out a foot of mulch on top (It depends how fast you want it to grow things. If you want it now, do hay. If it's for a third season's planting, you could do wood chips)

With a hay mulch, we were able to plant it and grow things successfully within a year. You would have to keep adding layers every year, because the compost layer really eats up anything around it. It does keep something like 900% it's own weight in water, so it's really good stuff to work with in arid conditions.

We were able to make (3) 200 sq ft gardens in a year. It's best if it can just be left to do it's own thing, but as I said, you could plant in it the first year.

Seriously, just keep making your area bigger by adding the cardboard, compost and mulch on perimeters. In 2 years, we had real deep soil on top of any existing soil. I know with this technique I can move on top of a rock and start growing stuff within 2-3 years without a (big) problem. Compost is magic.

We did just a cardboard and wood chip bed, and nothing would grow in it for 3 years. It's ready next season for plant life, but, alas, we're moving away from it. Boo. With so much compost coming from our humanure piles, we'll never ask ourselves what to do with it by doing this. It does take a lot of good quality compost. It's a lot of work, but once you have rich soil, there'll be a lot less work to do every year to keep it up.

8 years ago
So what steps are we going through to establish ourselves in our new community?

Step 1:

Stop accumulation of anything. When we're to move 900 km away, we would like for it to be in as few trips as possible. It's painful enough to have to do 10+ hours one way, but multiple times that just to move STUFF? Nope. I won't have it.

There are things that we currently don't have that would be useful for the yurt, but for everything else, the flow of stuff coming in needs to stop.

This, to our general sadness, includes our compost-making. We've been collecting our humanure extensively for many years, but when we're about to move, it doesn't make sense to keep doing it. Our landlord, although our friend, doesn't want our shitty compost (pun intended). Ahhh, fecophobia. It's real, yo'.

We've decided to keep composting our kitchen scraps with an inside vermiculture, which we've successfully done before in a tiny apartment. And so, the cold, lifeless porcelain throne gets more attention than the bi-monthly flush. Our warmth is sucked away from our bums by the poop-sucking thing, but alas, it doesn't make sense any other way in our situation.

The only person that gets to use it on a daily basis is this little guy:

We want to keep the bucket/elimination relationship happening in his mind, because that's the one that makes the most sense. Plus, the toilet-room is at the other end of the house where there is no heat, behind the door. Overall awkward to change the diaper, so why complicate things even more?

That's all for now. Bummed out to say goodbye to our bucket.
8 years ago
After 18 months of not working (due to pregnancy and maternity leave), I'm going back tomorrow. I won't have very much time to write, so I figured I should tell you more about Peter now, or it might get forgotten.

Peter. What a complicated man. I've never met anyone like him. Of course, this comes from someone who loves him, so you might say that it's through pink colored glasses. I'm not going to talk about his qualities and defaults though, so my subjectivity (Is this even a word?) won't matter as much.

Peter's always been a country boy - raised in a little rural town outside of Kingston, he grew up haying, having his garden, playing in and on the lake. The first time he had a near-death experience was when he had a snowmobiling accident going way too fast. He recovered well, but when he dances, his hips won't move. When he was in college, he would wake up extra early to go to his job, milking cows, and then go to class smelling like a barn. He got his Forestry technician certificate. During the summers, he was working for the Ministry of Natural Resources in fire control - after he was done his program, they wanted him as a team leader, but he refused. He still talks about it, saying that he would have been "set" if he had accepted. "Set" for money, but definitely not happy.

He went back to school for urban tree something or other - started climbing trees, pruning, doing difficult technical tree removals and whatnot. Hydro Ontario picked him up and he was their little golden boy for 2 years. When Hydro was having to lay off some people, they offered Peter a farewell package since he was so new. He hated working for someone else, so he took the money, bought a house and started his own company. For the next fifteen years, he worked for himself and employed 4-6 people year round.

After falling out of trees multiple times, his body was way out of balance, and he got really hurt lifting up a Santa Claus-shaped bottle of maple syrup out of the fridge door. Couldn't walk anymore. The dr told his he had 2 seriously herniated disks in his spine that he could have a surgery where they shave off what is sticking out. He refused, wanting to keep his body intact. He got alternative treatments, let go of his business, moved to a big property, and started crawling in the garden. He did what he could - weed, plant, whatever. His body became better with time, and when I met him, he was unstoppable. He had made a body-products workshop for his girlfriend, renovated the barn, made a workman's fence using logs that he had ax-split himself, was doing the hay by himself for his 6 horses, logged on his property with the horses and made his firewood, and on and on. He was only there for 3 years, but so much had been done that you could have sworn his family had been there for generations.

Well, by the time we met, his girlfriend wasn't anymore, he was going out with the "lead renter" where I was at. Anyways, after having a summer full of fun getting to know each other as friends, things fell out with the lead renter, we started being a thing, and I got kicked out of the house before the internship was over because of it. Oops.

So Peter had a mortgage on this place - a crazy big one, too. Something like $1000 a month for 40 years or something. It was HUGE, alright? Eventually, the property was sold, but we had stopped living there long before.

Multiple places with multiple adventures every time:

1 - we went to Northern Quebec and lived on the beach for a month in early June in a prospector's tent(it was soooo cold!)
2 - Northern Ontario in the tent, next to a lake for 2 months.
3 - Met a guy at the tent location that would rent us his tiny cabin for $100/month. Stayed there for 2 months.
4 - Moved to a neighbor's in the middle of the field in our new yurt
5 - Moved to another neighbor that had an eco-lodge in a log cabin, then in the yurt
6 - Moved to Northern Quebec in a basement apartment, then a friend's place, then our current place.

Peter made a space for a garden at locations 3-4-5-6(two places). He made a spot to set up the yurt in 3 places in location 6. We've been in this current place for 2 years, in this city for 3. We've known each other for 5 1/2 years, but with the amount of things we've done/went through, it feels like 15.

We're tired of being in the wrong place. We want to root ourselves where we can be ourselves and work WITH people. Peter's been taking advantage of so many times because he's always willing to help. He's a bit more wise now that he's done so many things for others and gets no help in exchange. I don't know what the contrary of lazy is, but that's what he is. A lazy day for him is going to the chickens in the morning, shoveling the snow in the yard, doing the firewood for the next week, doing the dishes. He'd almost be depressed because he doesn't feel like he's moving towards his goals. Living in the basement apartment in town was the worst for him. He had nothing to do, and so he felt useless.

So there you go, a small history of the man. He has lots of stories about his past that he likes to tell - arborists shove a lot of living in a little time, and I agree. Life certainly hasn't been boring since I've met him.
8 years ago
After reading this again, I realized that I really didn't say much about us. A property, no matter how good it is, is only as good as the people on it. If we're to have a community, it'll either be successful or a failure because of people, not the land. I don't really know how to start describing ourselves; it'll have to be examples of what we've done. Actions speak louder than words, no? There will probably be more than one post - a lifetime can't really be summarized.

I grew up in multiple places, always being uprooted a few years in because of my father's job. I always found it fun and exciting, but I could never feel like I was truly at home when I knew I was leaving shortly. With the years, I started feeling like I had no roots, and I became unstable and fell again and again. I don't know when I started being interested in "the alternative lifestyle", "living off the land", homesteading or whatever else you call it. It probably came from a childhood and adolescence of having no roots. I want to be rooted. I want to feel grounded, close to the earth, feel at home. I know that by the time I moved out of my mother's at 17, my ultimate goal was to have a farm, a homestead.

I accumulated so much knowledge about it, but I wasn't always happy with the most popular way of doing it. I wanted to be a beekeeper, but I'd have a top-bar hive without pre-made comb. I wanted to live simply, so I looked in traditional Mongolian yurts. I didn't want to use a septic system that would eventually contaminate the water. Not only I wanted to be off-grid, I wanted to use the least amount of electricity possible. And on and on about different subjects. My head was ripping at the seams with theoretical knowledge. I was drooling at the words "vermicompost" "humanure" "no-till" "self-sufficient" and many others.

After living on my own for two years and moving three times (habits don't change quickly!), I quit college a quarter way into my Recreational Therapy program. I loved the program, but the pull to live what I was talking about was too much for me to ignore. I got accepted into an unpaid farm internship in southern ontario, and I was to be there 7 months. "Farm internship" might even be strong of a word, now that I look at it from a perspective with more experience. Two young women were renting the house and land, and were growing a garden for market gardening. There was 12 chickens that came with the rental, and we (I) raised 6 pigs from piglets to time to butcher. I was the woman to do the free labor to help. Sure, sometimes I felt like I was being taken advantage of, but the experience was rich for me. Plus, not being paid meant that I was to do my share, but I didn't feel forced to do anymore than that. I got to do lots of exploring the area, plenty of adventures were had. I really enjoyed getting up extra early Saturday mornings to go to the farmer's market, I loved taking care of the chickens and pigs, harvesting the produce, even weeding the beds (after having a small doobie). I layed in my bed at night sometimes wondering what I had gotten myself into. I grew up with basically no work ethic, never being asked to do anything. I didn't know (and am still learning) how to work. I got frustrated at times. On the other side, all my sleeping problems disappeared. My large frame started to fill in with muscle, finally. My skin was golden, my hair was growing, and I was finally sweating. How addicting.

I can't really go on more about myself, because this is where I met Peter. Basically, everything I did before going away on this farm internship amounts to very little movement forward towards how I wanted to live. I could even say that life was happening to me. It sure didn't feel like I was taking advantage of my time. That is, before Peter catapulted me in the roller coaster of the ups and downs of LIFE.

More later.
8 years ago
We're moving in - read about our side of it :

Preppers and homesteaders

8 years ago