The Self Sustained Living Thread!
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Thread: The Self Sustained Living Thread!

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    Posting Addict Chimmy's Avatar
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    Default The Self Sustained Living Thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by sarahsunshine View Post
    Hi!

    I’m jealous. Our city won’t allow chickens or bees… I would have chickens in a second if we could. In fact, I went to a chicken keeping and bee-keeing seminar just a month ago.

    I have been losing sleep the past few nights trying desperately to figure out how we can build our healthy, off-grid house, home-school the kids (or at least have someone home with them until they ago to school), have a good veggie garden, chickens (for eggs of course), and still be close enough to the city for DSS to get to school, and DH and I to not commute too far… and which of us would quit our job? Me (I make more than DH), or DH (He likes his job better)…

    AARRRRGGGHHH…

    Or do we just keep on like we have been doing?

    So I jumped ahead & started a new thread I am big on living off the grid, self sustained living, urban homesteading, backyard farms & all the other different ways one calls it when trying to live in such a way that you are as dependent on your own sustainable resources as possible. I totally get the want to do it AND the stress that sometimes (often times? lol) follows as you begin to make those changes. Within the last couple of years my husband and I have taken a serious step in this direction, after talking about it nearly our entire married life. Part of my reason for pushing it is my kids are small but growing fast and I want them to be raised with these experiences.

    We are starting small - one thing at a time! Although I'm so type A that I often have to remind myself that the process is often a slow one and it's okay! I think being a good steward over what you currently own is a positive start in the right direction & how I had to start looking at things so that I could be happy with where I currently was.

    Our first steps started in our backyard. Making our garden friendlier & richer so our plants would grow, we bought chickens - although I realize not everyone is able to do that & if not look into supporting local farms by buying farm fresh eggs when you can afford it or look into co-ops for things like chickens, goat milk, cow milk & so forth, we are also using a clothes line to dry our clothes instead of relying on our dryer 100% of the time, we've joined co-ops that support our local farmers, we compost & use a lot of what's in our backyard & our own "waste" to feed that compost - I've recently started looking into worms (red wigglers) for composting b/c it works so weel & we are doing everything we can to get out of debt - including our mortgage payments.

    I think sometimes if you simply put a plan into place, it puts your wants out there & makes them more solid than if you just day dream about them. KWIM?

    My next big want is to get two nigerian dwarf goats - we aren't zoned for them but let me tell you I have spent LOTS of time trying to figure out how they would fit in my backyard LOL


    Oh! And some magazines I love - Mother Earth News is a good one. They are on facebook, they have a website & an awesome magazine. I also love a local one called Edible Wasatch which connects community farming/gardens & green friendly/self sustaining restaurants & ppl together. Doing google searches has lead me to some great blogs & websites as well.
    Last edited by Chimmy; 06-09-2011 at 06:45 PM.
    Mama to 7 curious, wild & wonderful little ones



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    Mega Poster PAmom2boys's Avatar
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    i started new gardens last year. We compost our kitchen scraps. So far its made a lot more than i ever thought it would and i've already gotten a big batch of compost from last years pile. The gardens are growing well. We installed rain barrels. If we could go solar we would(not allowed in our neighborhood). I thought about getting chickena dn DH mentioned he'd be up for it but i just dont see it right now. We had one cat about 2 yrs ago and cleaning the litter box was too much for me. I dont see how i could keep chicken coop clean. I dont have alot of time on my hands and its about to get a lot shorter. Kids are too young right now to help with that. So maybe we'll get chickens in 2-3 yrs. I know it would do wonders for the garden though. and i eat alot of eggs. Kids would love the chickens as their pets(we dont have any right now). Not even sure we could have chickens. hmm.

    I would love to go geothermal for our heating and cooling. go on well water as well but where we live i dont think its feasible. Maybe if we move more rural(its in our plan eventually) we'll get those things.

    Amanda
    ♥ Mom to: Jesse 16, Jacob 5, Ethan 3, Eli 2, & baby Andrew ♥

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    Amanda, your comment reminded me of another thing we do. We use recycled paper cat litter. It's more expensive than clay, but it's scoopable, so you use less, and you can flush it down the toilet. You can also compost it, but we are not equipped to compost at the moment.

    Julia, you and I think a lot alike. I was going to start a thread too. I would have a hard time going off the grid, though, since I'm "cyber schooling" my kids next year.

    We don't have the property size or the time to have chickens, goats, bees or a garden. We do buy fresh chicken eggs and honey from folks at church. (They donate the proceeds to buy new hymn books for the church.) And I try to buy my produce at the farmer's market in the summer. Other than that, I just try to use reusable products as much as possible (e.g. covered dishes rather than plastic wrap, reusable water bottles, cloth napkins and towels, Diva cup, etc.) Also, each member of the family has their own large towel for bathing and uses it for the week before we launder it. And I make my own non-toxic bathroom/household cleaner, so I can feel safe about letting the kids clean the bathroom-- it smells great too.

    Whenever we move, I'd like to look for something in the country with enough space for a garden. Not sure if I'm ready to try chickens yet. One step at a time. LOL.

    Deb ................. DH Norm
    DS Caleb, 13 ...... DS Patrick, 12
    DS Isaiah, 8 ......... DS Thomas, 7

    DD Cherish, 6....... DD Emily, 7\18\13 ....... Ripple, 17
    William, 14 weeks, 4/11/12

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    Supporter Broodymama's Avatar
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    I'm kind of fortunate to live in an area where I can have some chickens and even a goat if I wanted. Actually, I think with our property size, we could have a cow as well. I don't think I'm going to get one but a goat, maybe? We live on ALMOST an acre. It's not huge at all but considering how small yards are these days with new houses, I'm thankful to have it even if the house that sits on it is a pit. lol I started a garden but it's not doing well. It seems that the Texas sun kills any and everything even when you're watering properly. I don't know how other Texas gardeners do it. I'm sure I'll have some veggies but compared to other gardens of friends, mine is sad, sad, sad. We decided to start slow and work our way up to being more self-sufficient. One step at a time because it takes a little getting used to.
    Mandy



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    Mom to 3, with #4 on the way!
    I'm your local crazy chicken lady. BAWK BAWK


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    Community Host sarahsunshine's Avatar
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    We try to do all sorts of things…

    At our old house we had a large veggie patch, and I had a big compost. It was wonderful. We fed most of our wedding from the veggie garden (potatoes, carrots, tomatos). But the new house is bigger, and doesn’t have any useful vegetable gardening space.

    I took an energy efficiency course a couple years ago now, and I found that the single most cost effective way to reduce energy consumption is to use compact fluorescent light bulbs. That’s because you don’t have to change anything you are doing, just switch the light bulbs. It’s even cost effective long-term to replace working incandescent bulbs with CFLs. Our problem is that we have dimmer switches in all the bathrooms and bedrooms and CFLs don’t work with dimmers. I could switch them out, but we just put them in because they are great for taking kids to the bathroom at night. LED bulbs are supposed to be even more cost effective, and can be used in dimmers (certain ones), but their initial cost is just prohibitive right now. I can’t stomach spending $50 on a lightbulb! And if we did get them, I’d be taking them with me when I move!!!

    I am, however, looking into replacing light fixtures with LED lights – particularly in the bathrooms. A string of Christmas lights, for example, gives better light than many of our lamps and uses a fraction of the energy. They are great for kids rooms too, if you get the rope lights instead of traditional ones with bulbs, and put them around the top of the walls. You could even have the outdoor all-weather rope lights in the shower without any worry of electrocution. I always find showers too dark.

    Other things, I have 2 community garden plots. It makes things a bit hectic, though, getting to them to water…

    I’m hoping that when we rebuild our porch (which we’ll have to do in a couple years) that we can eliminate a part against the fence, and make a raised bed. We could then make a make-shift greenhouse structure over it to increase the growing season there. It would be a great addition, but probably in a few years when the porch really needs a face-lift. At the community garden, though, we use the compost! Hey, maybe I could arrange a bucket and take our compost to their composter? A thought.

    We have a rain barrel, but it hasn’t been used. We have to attach a spigot to the bottom of it, and then it will be used more. Right now it grows algae!

    We, unfortunately don’t compost. Our back yard isn’t set up for it. The only places we could put a composter is on the porch, but that is taking away highly used play space for the kids. The other is under a tree in the coldest part of the yard.


    We also would like to put a grid intertie solar system on our house. Our roof is south facing, and it would work quite well. The thing is, we may have to increase the insulation in our roof on that side of the house and the only way to do that would be by taking the roof off and rebuilding it… That would be SUPER expensive and will need to be done when the roof need to be re-shingled, and before solar panels could get mounted.... So that’s several years down the road. Also, it would be better to do that when there are more incentives. Grid parody (that’s when the cost of solar power gets to be the same as what you pay for from the utility company) would be nice, or something like what they have in Ontario where they will buy back any power that you aren’t using for 8x what you pay for from the utility. Also, when we renew our mortgage (next year) we can get what’s called a “green” mortgage which is a deal the bank has where they will reimburse you for a certain percentage of any “green” renovations that you make on your house – like solar panels. If we do that, we’d like to get an electric on-demand hot water heater when our hot water tank dies…

    In the meantime, we do “Bullfrog Power”. This is a company which will ensure that whatever power you use is renewable – either wind (for electricity), or renewable natural gas. They do this buy figuring out how much you use, and ensuring that it is put onto the grid. I hadn’t heard of renewable natural gas, but I guess they make it from the garbage dump… It costs a little bit more than your regular power bill (a little less than $50/mo for us), but to me, that’s worth it.

    We also got a new high-efficiency furnace a couple years ago. It’s 96% efficient. Also, we have aprogrammable thermostat. We lower the heat at night, and during the day when no one is home, to 15C (59f), and only heat as high as 19C (66f). If you are cold, put on a sweater (or pants, or a bathrobe, or a blanket)!

    In the winter we try to make sure all the curtains are drawn… We insulated the header on the basement walls, and we will be getting a couple new windows this year.

    We also have power cord with a main switch on the main electronics (TV, DVD player, PS2, speakers, etc...) and that turns off any constant power that many electronics use.

    We do not have any air conditioning, and try to keep the south side curtains drawn during the day in the summer to prevent the house from getting too hot (though that’s less of a problem up north here than in lots of places).

    I would also like to add a layer of insulation to the house. It’s cold here in winter, and reducing heat loss would be a great way to increase energy efficiency. It would also help keep the house cool in the summer.

    All these are things we would like to do… Now doing them is harder. But we will as they come up. Windows is a priority this year, and maybe the hot water heater. Deck next year…

    I would really like to do more, but our house isn’t very well set up to convert to energy efficiency, and what we have done, we have done ourselves (okay, we got someone to put in the furnace for us).

    Since we live in a city with stupid bylaws, we can't have chickens. There's a group that's been trying to change the bylaws for years, but it's slow going.
    Last edited by sarahsunshine; 06-10-2011 at 12:54 PM.
    Skyler Dylan 22 April 1999
    Reed Aslan 17 June 2007 ~ 8 September 2008
    Ivy Rayne 3 May 2009
    Leo Spencer 2 Sept 2010
    Forrest Reed 15 Aug 2012


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    I love the idea of using LED rope lights or string lights in the kids' rooms!

    Maybe you can't use CFL lights on a dimmer, but you can use chandelier lights, which use less power than a standard light bulb. My friend is bothered by fluorescent lights, so she has the chandelier lights all over her house.

    We have an energy-efficient furnace, and our house is insulated with insul-brick siding. (It's a frame house.) We also had drop ceilings when we moved in, which makes a huge difference, because you're not heating that much space.

    Simple things that you can do to reduce power usage are to close curtains in the summer to reduce heat coming in, open sun-facing curtains in the winter, close closet and cabinet doors and close off rooms that you don't use during the winter to reduce heat consumption. And a programmable thermostat to turn the heat down at night and during the day if you're away from home. If you have drafty windows, you can invest in heavy curtains to keep out the cold.

    Deb ................. DH Norm
    DS Caleb, 13 ...... DS Patrick, 12
    DS Isaiah, 8 ......... DS Thomas, 7

    DD Cherish, 6....... DD Emily, 7\18\13 ....... Ripple, 17
    William, 14 weeks, 4/11/12

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    Community Host sarahsunshine's Avatar
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    I forgot to add, we do EC – that is elimination communication – in combination with cloth diapers. Ivy was out of diapers at 17 months (during the day), and Leo rarely poops in his diaper. That definitely cuts back on the laundry and disposable diapers. They both still use cloth diapers at night, though I think that Ivy misses the toilet first thing when she waked up these days while she is trying to take her diaper off… I think that I will try to have her without a diaper at night when we get home from camping and see if she stays dry.
    Skyler Dylan 22 April 1999
    Reed Aslan 17 June 2007 ~ 8 September 2008
    Ivy Rayne 3 May 2009
    Leo Spencer 2 Sept 2010
    Forrest Reed 15 Aug 2012


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    Quote Originally Posted by 2sonsplus1 View Post
    And I make my own non-toxic bathroom/household cleaner, so I can feel safe about letting the kids clean the bathroom-- it smells great too.
    Tell me more Deb! I recently went to cleaning with vinegar (my mom always did it), and one main reason was so that it is safer for the kids to use, and soooo much cheaper and so on, but well, it does not smell awesome.lol

    Quote Originally Posted by PAmom2boys View Post
    i started new gardens last year. We compost our kitchen scraps. So far its made a lot more than i ever thought it would and i've already gotten a big batch of compost from last years pile.
    What do you use to compost? I would like to do this, but have not taken the plunge yet. My ILS do it, but they have a large yard and garden, and they just dump it in the garden area, which makes for lots of bees and stink, and my kids freak out when they see wasps, etc.

    We keep our house fairly cool, 68 or so, and in the summer warmer, 77-78. It sometimes bothers the company, but you really do acclimate to it, and it definitely makes a difference in the bills as well. We switched to the eco bulbs (why is the name escaping me? lol) sometime ago, and also so much nicer to not replace them as often, except for the one dimmer switch and the garage door opener light.
    Rachel, momma to 4
    dd 9, ds 7, twin boys Dec 09
    I nursed my twins for 2years and 2 weeks! A little sad to be all done now.

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    Rachel, the way I make the cleaner is to take a spray bottle (I think it's 16 oz?) and fill it 2/3 with water. Then I add some Murphy's Oil Soap (maybe a Tbsp?) and a few drops of cinnamon oil. If it smells too strong or looks white like milk, I add some more water. If it smells too much like Murphy's, I'll add more cinnamon. You can use natural soap (like Charlie's), but since I have a huge bottle of Murphy's lying around, that's what I use. The cinnamon oil (or lavender if you like) is a natural disinfectant. If you use an oil-based soap, you can use it on wood as well as bathroom and kitchen surfaces. If you use a non-oil based soap, you can't use it on wood. The kids use it to clean the bathroom, and it smells so good when they're done.

    ETA: Start with a very small amount of soap and add more if you need it. The first time I made some, I used so much soap that I had to split it into two spray bottles to dilute it enough to use.

    Deb ................. DH Norm
    DS Caleb, 13 ...... DS Patrick, 12
    DS Isaiah, 8 ......... DS Thomas, 7

    DD Cherish, 6....... DD Emily, 7\18\13 ....... Ripple, 17
    William, 14 weeks, 4/11/12

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    Okay, going to have to try this!
    Rachel, momma to 4
    dd 9, ds 7, twin boys Dec 09
    I nursed my twins for 2years and 2 weeks! A little sad to be all done now.

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