Here at Independence Homestead we love storage. It allows us to have the resources and tools on hand when needed. One area of storage we needed to expand was storage for kitchen items, as we wrote about in this post.
We debated several options for storage. Originally we were planning on creating a built-in shelving system of sorts, using a decent amount of wood, staining it, and making a big, sturdy shelving setup that covered the entire area above the bottom cabinets. The idea of designing and building such shelving was daunting. We were imagining something like the shelves in this picture, but we don’t have a wall on one side, and the wall we were working with was much longer.
We realized that we were over-engineering the situation, which we have a tendency to do. There was no need to spend the time and money that would be required to create such a large shelving system. Wouldn’t some simple wood shelves on brackets work just fine?
Have you noticed it? How prices keep going up and up? The inflation going on right now is ridiculous, and one of the areas that we’ve seen that most acutely is in the price of alcohol. We’re not big drinkers, but we like a bottle or glass of something every once in a while. That habit is costing more and more, though, and it’s not because the quality is improving.
Saving Bottles For Homebrewing
We started looking at homebrewing to address the costs of beer. While homebrewing is not cheaper than buying basic domestic beer, since you get a high quality product, it does seems to be cheaper than it would be to buy equivalent beer. Plus it’s a lot more environmentally friendly. Think about the gas it takes to ship that case of beer in glass bottles from the bottling facility. If you homebrew, the bottles are shipped once, and then you can reuse them indefinitely. Talk about decreasing your food (or drink) miles! Continue reading
Have you ever thought about how you’d stay warm if your home’s heating system was not available? What would you do during a winter storm if the power and gas went out? What if the furnace and/or fan in your system broke during a storm and service was unavailable?
Our Prefab Fireplace
Our house has a “prefab” fireplace which means there is actually a negative heat flow in our home when we have a fire in our current fireplace. So if we had to rely on our fireplace to heat our home we’d be really in bad shape!
We wish we had an alternate heat source for our home that we could use to address the questions raised at the beginning of this post as well as improve our current fireplace setup so that we don’t double pay for energy when we enjoy the fireplace now. Continue reading
Last December I decided that we should make paper. That was one of the decisions that got the ball rolling on this Independence Homestead adventure! I was enjoying my winter break, and I was reading online about different recycling strategies people had implemented. All of them centered around reusing something currently being wasted in the community.
Supplies We've Gathered For Paper Making
I thought about what was being wasted in my community, and how I could use that waste to create something useful. Since I teach at a school, I have access to a ton (probably quite literally) of wasted paper. Teachers accidentally copy something wrong, and they just recopy it correctly and toss the first copies. Or a teacher makes more copies than actually needed. Or students use paper, and then are done with it. While the school does have recycle bins, not all that paper makes it into those recycle bins. Also, it takes a lot of energy to recycle that paper on an industrial level. Plus there’s all the gas being used to transport it to the recycling facilities.
So I looked into what it would take to make paper using recycled paper. It turns out the process is quite simple. You need some containers, water, a blender, frames with screening, and of course paper. We already had access to all of this other than an old blender (didn’t want to use the same one we use for food). Within a few weeks we found a blender at a yard sale. To really make the paper in a manner that’s as environmentally friendly as possible, we decided to use water we collected in rain barrels. So even though this idea occurred in December, we haven’t made any paper yet since George installed our rain barrels just a couple weeks ago. I’ve been collecting paper at the school since January, so we have a large stockpile to use. It’s raining right now and our rain barrels are filling up, so I think papermaking is in our near future!
AR-15 Lower Receiver - Source: http://bit.ly/FQ8duF
Yes, this week’s Wishful Wednesday came early. I’m just too excited about this new development to make you wait to read how its progressing!
One thing Martha and I appreciate most about our move from California to Virginia was the huge increase in our gun rights. California is a bastion of gun control and a perfect example of gun control’s racist and prejudicial history and its utter failure to reduce crime and improve public safety. I could probably write a book about how useless gun control laws are, but I don’t have to because its already been done. While Virginia is nowhere near perfect in terms of respecting our self-defense rights, its much better than what we had before and we do appreciate it!
Part of our appreciation of our newly found rights and freedoms is a desire to exercise these rights and expand the choices we have for personal protection in our firearm collection. In California we limited ourselves to handguns due to space restrictions in our old place of residence. However, since settling in our new homestead we have expanded our collection with long-guns (and more handguns of course), but we don’t yet have an AR-15 style rifle. I won’t go into the details of why we have settled on the AR-15 platform for this project, but for the purposes of this post, a major reason is the AR-15 platform’s ability to be heavily customized and completely assembled from parts by ourselves.
Excellent Manufactured AR-15 Options - Source: http://bit.ly/JnjVCh
What better way to expand our firearm collection and skill set, than by building a versatile self-defense and hunting rifle in the AR-15 platform? Yes, doing this build may not get us the AR-15 the cheapest way and yes there are lots of great local AR-15 manufacturers near us. But for our first AR-15 I want to be able to really appreciate and understand as much about the firearm system as possible. Building also allows us to realize much more customizations in the firearm since we won’t be paying for a gunsmith to make the modifications. While we may certainly purchase fully assembled AR-15s in the future, we want this first one to be OURS!
I look forward to our journey selecting the components and assembling our first AR-15 and will be sharing our progress with you in future posts!
If you have had any experiences with your own builds you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about them!
When we first moved into our house last summer we were shocked when we saw our first electric bill. Moving from a place where we had no air conditioning to a place with relatively high humidity and in the middle of a very hot summer meant using lots of electricity to keep the house cool. Like most people when hit with a larger than expected electric bill we spent a little time assessing what we had that used electricity. While the largest consumer was our 20 year old A/C unit (which we did replace), we also noted that all of our kitchen appliances were electric. We like to cook and bake but cooking and baking during the summer months means you are paying to heat your oven/stove but also paying again to cool the air in the house that is heated as a result of this cooking/baking!
Example Solar Oven - Source: http://bit.ly/Irkvv4
This summer I wish that we can avoid this dilemma of paying twice for our cooking/baking and build ourselves a solar oven or two. The solar oven is great because it requires no gas or electricity to cook your food. Instead the food is cooked by harnessing the energy provided for free by the sun. While I mention the summer months specifically, the solar oven is really not limited to just summer usage. If you have good sunlight available you can cook with the solar oven (of course cook times may vary depending on ambient temperature). Not only are these great to save some money on energy costs they are also great to have around because they will allow you to continue to cook/bake in case your gas/power goes out or becomes unavailable for extended periods of time such as during a blackout or natural disaster. Continue reading
Kitchen shelving! The kitchen doesn’t have a pantry. It has a bank of cabinets we use as a pantry, but they don’t provide enough space. We store a bunch of our boxed and canned food in the basement due to this lack of space. It takes time to run down to the basement whenever we need some of the food that’s stored down there. Plus I’d like to use the room in the basement for other projects!
Future Shelf Location
On one kitchen wall there are only bottom cabinets, as you can see in this picture. The top half of the wall is empty space. George has been tasked with building shelving for that wall, and I cannot wait for the extra storage! The bottom cabinets are the ones we currently use as a pantry, so all the food will be together once the shelves are there. Continue reading
While we have a relatively private backyard with not many neighbors close by, we do have a walking trail that goes right behind our house. Since we’ll be growing all kinds of yummy fruits and veggies, plus having bees, I would love for our backyard to be more private! I would say I’m a pretty private person overall, and that philosophy of keeping my cards close extends to my yard.
Currently our yard is fenced in with a wood fence. People can still see what’s inside the yard without much effort, though. In this region of the country fences are built with the slats on alternating sides. That means there are huge holes people can see through! I still don’t know why fences are built that way here.
Holly Plants Along Our Fence
To work toward the goal of having a private backyard, we have planted several plants around the fence. Outside, we planted holly bushes on one side, and blackberry vines on the other. Aren’t the holly plants cute?! I love how holly is evergreen, too. That will add nice color in winter. Plus they’ll provide privacy year round. But the darn plants grow so slowly! I am impatient and want them to be huge NOW. Continue reading
Freshly Planted Cherry Tree
We’re going on one year in the homestead. The first summer was spent revamping the interior so that we could live our daily lives. This year’s focus has been the yard. Our philosophy is that we know we’ll be in this homestead for a while, so we should take the time to plant beneficial plants now and reap their benefits for years to come!
The yard had no landscaping to speak of when we bought the homestead, so it has been pretty much a blank slate with which to work. We are thoroughly enjoying fixing it up! We have planted a cherry tree, blackberry canes, and several berry bushes. We also planted the perennials rhubarb and asparagus. Continue reading
Rain Barrels - Source: http://bit.ly/3vXXok
I want rain barrels! I’d love to catch the runoff from the roof. It would such a green thing to do, especially since rain barrels are usually reused food barrels! I’d feel safer having extra water storage. It would be an easy thing to do, too. Once we set up the rain barrels, we’re done with the work! Plus, catching the rainwater would help lessen the muddiness of the backyard. Less mud equals cleaner dogs, which is very nice. We could also use the extra water for some other projects we’ve been considering like paper making!