Tag Archives: rain barrel

Full day homesteading skills class

Thanks to everyone who completed the survey for what people are looking for as far as education here in Indy. Here is the first response to that. Based on the survey results this is what most people wanted to see.

Full day homesteading basics class. 8 full hours plus free samples to take home. As of now here is the breakdown of the class. This is for people from apartments to rural areas. I will give examples of how you can implement in just about any situation. I will bring examples, what materials I use, photos, and a CD/DVD of resources I use when I need additional information.

Class will be $40 per person or $60/couple. If bringing the family or more than 2 please contact me for other arrangements. Pay in advance or at the door. Cash only at the door. You will save the cost of the class alone if you just adopt and use a few of the topics mentioned.  Due to the limitations of Meetup payments (can’t do discounts based on number of people) contact me if you want to pay in advance with cash or use electronic payment.

Register through one of the Meetup groups below although not required. There is a limited number of seats but should accommodate a larger class size but to guarantee a seat registration is recommended.

http://www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardening/

http://www.meetup.com/Indiana-Disaster-Preparedness/

Here is what is being offered. I can add additional topics if time and my experience permits. Seats, and tables provided along with two large overhead screens for notes and examples. There will be breaks and a lunch period as well. Bring your lunch or visit one of the many local places.

  1. Backyard Grocery (fall is one of the best times to start this)
    1. Mini Orchard
    2. Vegetable garden
    3. Edible landscaping
    4. Aquaponics
    5. Backyard Chickens
    6. Goats
    7. Bees
    8. Rabbits
    9. Vertical Gardening
    10. Potatoes
    11. Container Gardening
    12. Medicinal Herbs
    13. Composting and mulch
    14. Water harvesting and rainbarrels
  2. Food Preservation (what to do with everything you harvest)
    1. Canning
      1. Water bath canning
      2. Pressure canning
    2. Dehydrating
    3. Freezing
    4. Smoking
    5. Fermenting
  3. DIY
    1. Laundry soap – how to make – free samples 5 ingredients or less
    2. Tooth paste – how to make – free samples 3 ingredients or less
    3. Bar soap – how to make –(free samples if cured in time)
    4. Fire starters – how to make
    5. Homemade bread – very simple steps <5 ingredients. Way more healthy for family
    6. Homemade pasta – very simple steps <5 ingredients. Way more healthy for family
    7. Make your own ethanol
    8. Battery backup for emergency home power use
    9. Make your own generator from your car with an inverter
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Homesteading – How did we get here?

        Today I hosted some good folks from the communist state of Illinois. I gave them the outdoor tour and talked about what we have done and where we are going. How we got where we are today and lessons learned along the way. They made the comment we are just getting started and wanting to learn more. I remember being there several years ago. It made me think to when we got started to where we are today.

         Many people look at what we are doing on our 0.2 acre suburbia homestead and think we are so far ahead of the game. I see it as the opposite. I see how much more I have to do. I look back when we bought this place and think how it has evolved, how we have evolved. The one common denominator was it didn’t happen overnight.

                I wasn’t always homestead minded. I once was one of the sheeple following the next person in line. Buying, consuming, and spending. I got hooked from listening to The Survival Podcast. It isn’t the doom and gloom, doomsday prepper, and militia. It is a lot of common sense, and I have learned quite a bit just from having it on in the background.

                The bushels of pears and apples ripening on the trees didn’t just come with the property. We planted them. One tree at a time. We used to buy in spring when everyone had them in the box stores or the 1 year old seedling from the catalogs. Now we trade, start our own, grafts, and buy on clearance or end of season at 50% off or better. We learned there was a better more cost effective way. We learned the hard way and bought full price trees before we learned there is a better way.

                We make our own laundry soap. We just recently started this. $0.02/load vs. $1.00 load does add up. It was a learning process. Rather than use the dryer we are line drying our clothes. This alone cut our eclectic bill in ½ . From March-November I know we will not use it, and if all goes well will not use it again. “So what do you do when it is raining or snowing, or freezing outside?” Either don’t do laundry or hang in our garage. We don’t park in our garage. It is for storage, workout area, and a play area for the kids when it is raining outside. For the cost of a few feet of paracord I have two lines in my garage.

Here is a picture in our garage.

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 Here is one where I turned the pergola into a clothesline.

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                The strawberry groundcover didn’t happen overnight. It took time and planting. Now we get to enjoy fresh strawberries, chemical free, organically grown, and well free year after year.

                You can start at any time, and start small. You do not have to do everything at once. When it came to canning I started with one package of jars, one pot, and tome tomatoes out of my garden. I now have 500+ jars accumulated from family, craigslist, and goodwill. My next step is to get the reusable lids.

                We have boxes of dehydrated foods from our garden and grocery deals. It didn’t happen overnight. We found our dehydrator in a family members storage unit. Started with a few herbs, after gaining success and learning the skill, we now will dehydrate shrimp, eggs, and make jerky.

                I remember when I first started learning about homesteading and preparedness I was overwhelmed by all that I thought I needed to do overnight. I had lists, schedule, priority of items. What I once thought was the top most important item has since fallen to low or no importance. There is no golden book or plan to follow. Waking up and becoming more aware is the best tip I can give. Your bran, the knowledge you learn, the experiences is what is key. I have made many failures for any success. I never consider them failures, but more a lesson on what not to do the next time, or how could I have made it better.

                Start small, but start today. Challenge yourself to learn something new each week, or a goal each month for prepare and grow your homestead. It could be planting a fruit tree, or reading a book on canning, or try a new more sustainable food on your next trip to the grocery. We tried goat and were pleasantly surprised.  When I look back we have come a long way, and I have learned so much more than I did 5 years ago. I learn something new almost each day. For instance I have 24 more hours of new permaculture videos Geoff Lawton just posted as part of my class. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Get your own homestead in order by one thing at a time. What helped and scared me was when I made lists of all I wanted to do and get accomplish. Some are low hanging fruit, and easily completed. But seeing it all there on a list made it more manageable and easier to grasp. Putting in out poly tote rainbarrel seemed overwhelming, and I kept putting it off. It took less than 30 min.

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One more thing to check off my list.  What can you cross off your list today? This week? This month?

I am presenting at Foodcon IV in Indianapolis

The Harrison Center for the Arts presents FoodCon IV, our unconventional convention celebrating the art and culture of food in Indiana. Now in its fourth year, FoodCon IV will gather a wide and exciting variety of local food enthusiasts. In the courtyard, attendees can learn more about raising goats and chickens, beekeeping, salmon cooperatives, hydroponics, lead abatement, the Garden Tower Project, Handsel Farms, the Butler Campus Farm, cow share programs, cooperative groceries and much more.

Late on Monday I got a call to have tables set up for various aspects on which I teach and practice at our homestead. I will be speaking about rain barrels, food preservation, aquaponics, and my wife will be presenting on medicinal herbs you can grow in your back yard along with their uses.
If you will be in the Indianapolis area on Friday evening come check it out. The cost is FREE.

www.harrisoncenter.org

Don’t forget, Saturday we are hosting a tour at our micro farm in suburbia at 9am. We may be inclined to offer an 11 am tour for those that like to sleep in a bit later. If 9 is just too early let us know you would like a later time.

http://www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardening/events/124494172/

Rainbarrel V 2.0

Last year here in the Midwest we had a pretty serious drought. “Officials” were stating you were not able to water gardens etc. due to water shortage. That took its toll on our gardens and aquaponics. Before the ban I had to refill the pond regularly due to evaporation. That became expensive.

This is version 2.0 of our rain collection system. Version 1.0 had the barrels upright and would cascade to the next one down the slope. They had many problems. Standing water for mosquitoes, water transportation out of the barrels, water transportation between the barrels, then storage and space capacity.

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I made this from barrels I got locally, they are food grade plastic, with closed lids and 2” bung caps. The caps are pre threaded for ½” pipe. The PVC plastic pipe I was able to scavenge from another project, but buying all the parts probably cost less than $50. Each system can be different, and scaled to your own water needs. I would have liked to have more barrels, but I only had 4×4 lengths that would support the current setup. With the 5 barrels, I can collect 275 gallons of water. This is enough to water 5-8 times or more of my vegetable garden depending on how much rain we get. Because I use deep mulch in our gardens, I am able to retain moisture and water better than if it was on bare ground.

I have two downspouts emptying into the collection system and the overflow goes into my aquaponics pond, or into the greenhouse pond. These refill each time it rains for even a moderate amount of time.

We have planted butterfly bushes in front of the barrels to somewhat hide them. They are in my back yard so it isn’t visible from the front of the house.

I am hoping to make version 3.0 using 275 gal poly totes on some of my other downspouts. I hope to have two high, and two across for a total of 1,100 gallons. Stay tuned for more updates.

These can be built on your site/home as well. Use the contact us or consulting page.