Category Archives: Update

A few updates

Now that we have had a little of warmer weather is seems as things are going full speed ahead. I wanted to give a little update on several of the projects and activities for anyone following.

Indianapolis Flower and Patio Show

I will be presenting Permaculture Thursday 3-13-14 and Aquaponics on Sunday 3-16-14. More details.


We will be migrating our website to a different host to be able to give more features, benefits, and more freedoms. There may be a bump in this transition. You can always follow us on Facebook as well.  If you are wanting to schedule a class, or consulting time check out the available time/dates on the calendar.


The greenhouse is 70% dismantled. I decided to tear it down this winter due to the inability to expand it, heat it, and cool it in summer. I decided to build a hoop house instead over the existing pond and growing area.

Hoop house

The V1.0 of the hoop house was an utter failure big lesson learned. It was a test, and using materials I already but didn’t stand up to the 10” of snow we got in one day. I used PEX tubing, and some rebar along with clear 6mil plastic sheeting.

The version 2.0 was another big lesson learned. I used 10’ PVC pipe and attempted to connect with “T” fittings in the middle and bend the 20’ sections into an arch. Well the pipe would bend, the “T” couldn’t handle the stress and I shattered 3 trying to make the hoop.

Version 3.0 was to make it in an “A” frame just to get something out and plants in the ground. So far this is holding. Version 4.0 I am on the lookout for metal “T” fittings and try it again. Pictures of all will come when I write them up.


In the near future I and another individual will launch a new podcast. We are focusing on topics we hold important and highlight local small businesses in the process. There will be podcasts of each of us on various topics, podcasts of discussions (we both have the gift of gab), interviews, and even Q&A from listeners. We modeled a lot off what Jack Spirko has done with TSP. He paved the way for a great podcast. We wanted to focus on things locally that impacted us here in the Midwest as well as highlight local small business owners. If you are a small business owner and would like to discuss being on the show let me know. There are some requirements before we ever put an advertiser, local business, or recommend anyone or anyplace to listeners. If you have a topic that you think people would be interested in again, please let me know. More details when we have everything in place probably in the next week. We are both very excited to get this out. Not everyone can attend classes, so we can reach more people while in their commute, at work, doing dished, or just hanging out at home.


Our new logo is back at the designers. 1st round comments went back and we are waiting on the revised images.

Alternative Gardening MeetUp

I ran a poll on the Alternative Gardening MeetUp site and we are now adding Homesteading to the mix. It just flowed since you would need to do something with the food you produced, and most of the people in the group were already interested in the topic. If you are not a member, we are building meetings all the time. Here is the new site.

Tour of our place

We will be scheduling tours as soon as our property dries up and some green starts to show again.

Midwest Sustainable Education Conference

We had to cancel the conference due to lack of interest. We didn’t meet the minimum number needed before the deadline at the resort. This was a tough decision, but had to do it. If you were interested in attending, but didn’t register, I would love to know how we could have improved it. We will look to offer another conference in fall. Spring-Fall is the busiest time for all who were involved.

Wolf-Beach Farms updates

My posts here on my blog have been irregular at best. Many irons in the fire at the moment, but follow me on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, or through e-mail and get the latest updates. Here are some of the current happenings and publications. If I am not writing here I am writing for one of the places below.


November 23rd full day homesteading class.


Midwest Sustainable Education Conference – As a co-founder, and presenter for the January conference, I have been helping get all the ducks in a row and organizing the space and materials. I have also been writing blog posts for the website and Facebook. Helping manage multiple websites, and social media accounts can take a drain on time resources.

PREPARE Magazine – PREPARE is a digital subscription which is free to sign up. I have had a couple of articles published here and even made the cover story once. PREPARE has stories on becoming more prepared for a variety of situations, as well has becoming more self sufficient, self reliant, and different how-to articles.

Aquaponics Survival Community – I have written a few articles for this paid subscription magazine which focuses on becoming more prepared and harnessing the great food production process through aquaponics. Articles on different techniques, problems, and solutions to what many aquaponics growers face.  

Brink of Freedom – Brink of Freedom is an online community page with a variety of contributors on topics of personal defense, permaculture, self reliant living and self sustainable lifestyles in addition to off-grid living. Brink of Freedom is now moving to both a online article community to a digital magazine publication as well. I have an article in the 1st issue, and one of my online articles we trending as #2 as most popular. Given some of the contributors, it was a shock to me when I looked at the stats.

New food project – No name for this project yet, but throwing some ideas around. I am working with a local chef to put together a class on using your food stores to make edible meals. Many people are starting to store some longer shelf life foods, for any number of reasons, but do they know how to make edible meals out of them? Rice and beans may store for a like time, but have you ever tried plain rice and beans? Have dehydrated or freeze dried foods? Can you make a decent meal even the kids would eat if the internet was down or you had no power? This class and possibly cookbook is the answer. What foods you should store, how to store them, what not to store, and then how to prepare them, even if only using a singly burner stove. Interested? Let me know, so we can start moving this project up on the list. You don’t have to wait until a situation requires you dive into the food stores. You should be rotating them as part of your every day meals. Eat what you store, store what you eat.

Permaculture consulting – Responding to projects, design questions and e-mails add up. I am consulting on a project in Central Florida, and a new project that a friend is starting up there. Consulting on a 300 acre farm here in Indiana, another 6 acre farm transformation and doing some experimenting with different techniques, plants and concepts here on my 0.2 acre property.

Be Prepares Series – Designing and construction of the individual sessions for the Be Prepares Series has taken some time. So many topics that could be covered in any given series they are really starting to add up.

Then there is the day to day here. Finally finishing off storage and preparation of the 500lbs of apples we picked this year. Apple fruit leathers are the latest preparation. Basically it is the dehydrated applesauce recipe using one of our food dehydrators. Tearing down our greenhouse for a new hoop house this spring, fodder system in the garage, milking goats in the spring, aquaponics in the garage, and making more food and supplies for scratch, and that is just some of the latest projects. Apparently everyone loved the home made pretzels this week. 4 trays of them were gone within 24 hrs. Super simple to make with easy ingredients. The home made croissants and buttermilk biscuits went over well, although I cannot claim them. The wife was on a baking kick last weekend.

If you ever have questions feel free to ask.

2 more seats sold for the January Conference

I just got confirmation two additional seats sold for the SoldJanuary Conference with Midwest Sustainable Education Conference. Again from Michigan. Must be something about the Michigan winter and not much to do up there with all the snow and cold. We welcome the new attendees! With an indoor pool and gym at the hotel, the cold winter shouldn’t be a problem. You will be thinking warm thoughts as we talk about how to turn your property into a permaculture sustainable system in the coming spring/summer.

Spread the word before early registration discounts run out. A full class means we will be offering it again, and we can start offering other classes like off grid power, medical and first aid, additional homesteading classes and much more. Be sure to take advantage of the early registration discount or the MSB discount through The Survival Podcast. Using the MSB membership, your discount will be greater than the MSB cost i.e. you actually save more than you spend making your membership FREE.

There are still openings for my November homesteading class here in Indy. Planting barrel/composterOnly 8 hrs, but jam packed of information. While registration through the sites listed isn’t necessary, it does help plan on how much to bring and plan for. There is a free registration for a planting barrel with every advanced seat sold. We can take credit card registrations/payments, but there is a 4% fee due to credit card transaction fees. Cash is always accepted.

Correction Midwest Sustainable Education Conference

When I originally posted the new site had launched, I mistakenly posted that it would be held July 10-12 2014. The dates for the conference are JANUARY 10-12 2014. For all the latest details go to the conference website

The Herb Spiral and Farm updates

                We have been very busy lately. As the colder weather approaches, there just doesn’t seem enough time to get it all done before winter.


                I completed the 1st of the herb spirals this weekend. I know it won’t get planted this year, but getting it installed now will allow the ground to settle over the winter, and I can add more soil before actually planting. This spiral cost me noting to make. The walls are made from old concrete field tile that has accumulated out at the farm. The soil is from an excavated area and soil had been piled up. It only took about two full days to complete, and most of that was hauling dirt. I had the layout done in about an hour. Not only can I plant in the bed area, but because I used hollow building materials I can plant in them too. I haven’t yet decided what to plant into the tiles. But while building this I discovered about 6 other larger tiles. About 1 ½ feet across. We are now going to use these as large planter pots. Nothing goes to waste.

Started with a stake, and one tile.

Started with a stake, and one tile.


I placed the tiles where I thought it would go adjusting as I needed. Dry fitting.

I placed the tiles where I thought it would go adjusting as I needed. Dry fitting.


After I was happy with the design, I started adding soil from the outside first.

After I was happy with the design, I started adding soil from the outside first.

This is what I ended up with. Both my wife and myself can reach the center from any side. The 2 year old calls it her castle and likes to run up the ramp to the top. It helped compact some of the soil and set the tiles, so she helped with this project too.

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      Speaking of nothing to waste, my wife’s grandfather is tickled and laughs almost daily at the stories we tell him of repurposing materials. The tiles were just one example. We found an old door that was repurposed in the chicken house for ease of getting into the laying boxes. Several months ago we found some old aluminum wiring of some sort in a junk pile. We repurposed it to use as a trellis for the blackberry garden. Now it is much easier to harvest the berries when in season. Old fencing, has become used for growing peas and tomatoes. Old bricks will be used for a forge. Old 55 gal drums will be used for water barrels and about 100 uses for old pallets. We have uses or repurpose for just about everything we come across on the farm.

Here is the hay and straw repurposed into fall garden, and the reused fencing in the center as a trellis.

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We have come to the realization, that nothing is junk unless it absolutely cannot be used. Old bailing wire has a million purposes. Junk mail, I shred it and feed it to my worms to make compost, compost tea, new soil, and bait for fishing. Old barn wood has a new life as a dining room table. Old tires, potato vertical growing bins. If I don’t have an immediate use for it, it will go into one of the piles/barns and find a new purpose when one is discovered. Not all the repurposing ideas are my own, but most of the “functional” uses have been developed on demand. The creative are about 1/3 mine 1/3 wife and 1/3 I find online. In my pinterest account you can see some things I stumbled upon.

                We have been cleaning out old garden beds, adding chicken area to keep them safe from predators, and reorganizing materials. 6 new chicken tractors are on the list to build before February. Again these will be repurposed from old materials as much as possible. The build of the tractors will be a post on its own.  Every time we are up there we come up with new projects. We have roughly 45 min to an hour one way drive time from our Indianapolis home. On the way up to the property we discuss what we are going to do, would like to accomplish, and plan for attaching. We have 4 pages of projects, tasks, and wish lists. On the way back we mark off what we accomplished and lists for what we saw that needed to be added or new projects. This week I decided to add a pond to the rose garden that will be build either this fall or next spring. We are repurposing a preformed pond we had here in Indy, which was repurposed from another project. I decided to take all the field stone we have come across during the cleaning phase and make a large waterfall water feature in the pond. This will not only aerate the water for when we stock, but keep some of the unwanted slime and moss growth down. It will be a nice feature to see, and hear. We would eventually like to make the pond into a natural swimming pool so this fits nicely with that plan. Adding a sauna, hand pump for the well, tree nursery, hoop house and the list goes on.

Planting Barrel V 2.0

So I took the time and redesigned what was a strawberry barrel and no came up with a planting barrel. You can put so much more than just strawberries in them. If you are limited on space, you just want to maximize space, or wanting a new way to display your flowering plants this could work. And bonus it has a built in composter/fertilizer in the center. In 2′ garden space there is not 60 different planting sites.

All of the steps are available for sale.

I started with a 55 gal white food grade barrel with the top cut off. These are available for $20


Next I drilled drainage holes in the bottom. Also available for $20 and can be used for a potato barrel. You could probably get 3-4 layers of potatoes in one barrel, around 30-60 lbs of potatoes.


Next pilot holes along the outside edge for cutting the holes.


Using a jigsaw  I cut approximately 9″ lines between the holes but not connecting them.


Using a blowtorch I softened the plastic and inserted empty wine bottles to hold the shape until the plastic cools. Do this in a well ventilated area, and make sure the caps are off the bottles. Learned that one hard way. If the bottles heat up and the cork/lids are still on they can explode from the pressure.


You have to keep the row above filled with bottles while forming the second one down. As you heat the plastic the upper pockets will start to close.


Here is the completed barrel with composted in the center and filled with compost/mulch mix ready to be planted. I plan on making this into a salad/herb garden, with varieties of lettuce, cooking herbs, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and radishes. I will publish and post once the plants start to develop.

These are available for $70 empty,

$80 full of compost/mix,

$90 with composter and prepopulated with worms.

$120 filled with strawberries and all of the above

$150 filled with salad and cooking herb mix.


These are made to order and some plants may not be available. Allow 2-3 days from order to availability. There may be an increased price based on plants requested. Delivery is also available and there may be a fee based on distance from SR 135 and Stop 11.

To order or ask questions use the contact us page or the consulting page.

Morning strawberries


While it isn’t much our strawberry barrel is already producing strawberries after only 30 days of going in. Next year we should be getting much more we hope.

Aquaponics, Then and now

18 months ago we started with a greenhouse and some barrelponics. Barrelponics uses 55 gal barrels for fish and growing in an aquaponics system. We then moved to a pond liner and the floor being dug out, and used 4″ PVC drain pipe to contain plants. This worked for a while but learned some critical lessons.

1) If you do not harvest the entire plant, the root system will clog the pipes and you will have a reduced flow downstream. Since we use a constant flow system, this created overflow and loss of water, since the linter only covered the pond.

2) we extended the liner to everything under the pipes. This way if there was a leak or a backup, the liner would catch the water and no water loss.

3) the pipes and greenhouse were not heated this year, and as a result large ice masses formed. These masses were too heavy to support and resulted in system failure.

How we fixed the problems. We switched to a grow bed system, which has its own issues and problems but were much more manageable. These problems were grow media, weight issues, and plant support.  The grow media was solved by using lava rock from left over landscaping. No increased cost. The weight was solved by adding additional supports and using shelves father than lashing to the support structures.

This is May 2012

May 2012 Aquaponics

This is July 2012 after putting in the liner

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Here is how things look today. We have actually increased our growing area quite a bit. Still have a few more grow beds to add too.


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Medicinal Herb Garden, Then and now

So time for some updates. It has been a year since we put in our medicinal herb garden. Not only have the plants thrived but we have some new additions.

 Here is the garden before we started.

Herb Garden day 0

Herb Garden day 0

Here is the garden in May-June 2012


Here is the garden today. Much growth. We also took down the boxwood bushes in the background and added a pergola. We added kiwi, goji berries, and hops to climb up and on the pergola.


In the herb garden we added nettle, wintergreen, sweet grass, dill, white sage, valerian and a few others. Thanks to Hobbit gardens at the Indy farmers market.


We have harvested quite a bit. Chamomile, calendula, horseradish, comfrey, various mint, catnip, basil, feverfew, lavender, lemongrass, yarrow, and evening primrose. We hope to harvest more this year.


We have lots of other updates stay tuned.