Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Washing Dishes with Hand Made Dishcloths!

It is so nice to use my own homemade dishcloths. I LOVE it. So far they just feel better than the sponges, they work twice as well (even on the tough stuff after it's been soaked for 5 minutes) and they are so much prettier to look at. I don't know about you but I like to look at pretty things whenever I do something that I don't enjoy that much. It makes the experience that much better.

Here are some photographs.

I bought some cotton yarn and single crocheted each row into the back loop only of the previous row. It makes a sort of ridge and I thought that that little ridge would be helpful when washing dishes. On the black and blue ones, it looked fine. Just simple. BUT in the plain blue ones it looked so pretty I'll probably have a hard time washing grimey dishes with them!

All in all, I would like to sell these too, so if you want some, just let me know! You can pick the color and tell me about the size that you want and I'll make them for you!

Just in case you all feel like I am just out to get money from you, I want you to know why I keep trying to sell things. I want to live in something a little bigger that a 180 square foot camper. I want to build a bed a breakfast where you can all come and stay at, and I want to share this awesomeness with the world. Most of those things take money, and if you have a little extra and you want to share with us, buy something. If we don't make it yet, just ask and we'll see what we can do for you. We want to build a community where we all help each other. I will even trade for time/talents/trappings instead of money. Let's make a deal!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sunday Walkabout: Snow Day

There's "Snow" Time Like the Present!

What do you do when you are suddenly set upon by a good 4 inches of snow overnight? You play in it of course!

At least that what we did here at Haven Homestead!

We built a snowman,

Made it snow, had a snowball fight (Chris won! Several times...), and did special tricks!

Arctic Vortex Hits Haven Homestead

On February 1, 2014 this is what all of Lewis County had for weather; Sunny, partly cloudy, rainy and rainbows everywhere. The temperatures were in the 50's and 60's (that's Fahrenheit).

Just a few days later, the snow came. They called it an Arctic Vortex.

Here's an excerpt from a neat article (here) that describes this phenomenon:

"One of several semi-permanent weather systems over the Earth, the polar vortex is an area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere that, on average in the Northern Hemisphere, typically has centers in two main areas: near Canada's Baffin Island, and over northeast Siberia.The vortex is strongest in winter, thanks to an increased temperature contrast between the polar regions and the mid-latitudes, including the United States.

"Occasionally, the polar vortex can either be forced well south of its typical position, or a significant piece of the larger spin can break off and plunge south into the U.S. In the case of this outbreak, a large piece of the vortex broke off and was forced well to the south...

"The Arctic outbreak, while dangerously cold, will not persist long as the polar vortex returns home to near Baffin Island, Canada after its southern vacation later in the week."

Here on the homestead, EVERYTHING FROZE! We only had the water in the holding tank in our camper to last us all week, but we made do. It was a good thing that church was cancelled on Sunday. None of us had proper baths all week!
Just last night, everything began to thaw, the water began to flow again, and we all got baths!
Check out my other posts about this week to see some of the fun things we did in the snow!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Learning More About Spinning Straw Into Gold

Last night I got my copy of Straw Bale Gardening by Joel Karsten and I read half of it as soon as I opened it! Chris read some of it last night while I was cooking dinner (more homemade tortillas!) and I finished the rest this morning. Now I am getting ready to sit down and start planning the garden this year.

For anyone new to my idea of spinning straw into gold, here's a brief overview of what I am thinking:

Spin Farming is S-mall P-lot IN-tensive farming. On our land we have a lot of trees and not a lot of space where a vegetable garden will get much sun. Hence we have a "small plot" that we are going to use for a vegetable garden. We will also have a larger portion of the land dedicated to growing a food forest, but that is another story! The SPIN technique focuses on urban farmers and gardeners, but the techniques still apply. You have three sections in your garden. One is dedicated to longer growing single harvest crops. The second area is reserved for growing two crop rotations, and the third is for plants that will reach harvest quickly for three crop rotations. They also talk a lot about growing crops that are High-Value.

Straw Bale Gardening is the practice of growing your vegetable garden in a straw bale. The bale acts like a container and the potting medium. We have very heavy clay soils here on the homestead. Most vegetables require well drained soil. Straw Bales will be a great way to start gardening this year, and when we are done, we'll make compost from the bales. That compost will be a really great soil amendment for us, and I can foresee, in just a few years time, we will have the awesomest soil around!

When I made the comment that we were going to spin straw into gold, I thought that the gold part would be money, or the food equivalent of money. I didn't even think about COMPOST! Gardeners call it Black Gold and it's my new favorite by product of Straw Bale Gardening. The straw bales only last one or two years before they are too far decomposed for planting in. That's when you make a compost pile, stir it up, add some nitrogen, and keep stirring until it no longer resembles anything that you added to it. It's amazing! And it's practically free. You can use your straw compost on next years garden and you won't have to buy much, if any, potting soil for your seed beds or planting pots!

We have a couple of different compost bins already. We have a worm bin, and we have a black vegetable/yard wast compost bin. We also have the rabbits making their little fertilizer right onto the garden bed! Rabbit manure is a cold manure and can be used directly in the garden, without the typical aging process. Right now all forms of our compost are being underutilized. I have some ideas -- ALWAYS WITH THE IDEAS! -- on how to use them better, but it all depends on how I will be able to put them into practice! And practice makes perfect fertilizer!

One of my ideas, is to put worm bins under the rabbit hutches. That way we can make fertilizer from worms and rabbits at the same time! I've heard that worms love rabbit excretions, and then we won't have to have the rabbits over top of the garden, taking  up valuable planting space. Here are some sketches:

Just in case you are wondering about the "it's important" that I wrote at the bottom of this photo, I was interrupted and couldn't remember what i was going to write! I think it was something along the lines of "it's important to make the worm bins larger than the rabbit cages so you aren't having to clean out the bottom area around the bins." 

When our Straw Bale Spinning turns out to be a success, we'll throw a party!

Purposeful Beauty: My Functional Art Jewelry Organizer

So I have been watching videos on Youtube about Tiny Houses... If you haven't heard of the tiny house movement, you should check it out! It's pretty cool. I'll probably talk about it occasionally.

Anyway, in two different videos, two different women had these really cool sticks that they were using to hold their jewelry... I thought, "I have Sticks. I have jewelry that is in a heaping tangled mess. I can make that." So I did.

I love it when art becomes functional. It's beautiful, and it serves a purpose. Having a purpose is beautiful!

So I went out to my husbands workshop and stole a really cool board, I went for a walk to the slash pile and picked a cool stick, then I found some yarn I had stashed away and I started lashing (yes real lashing... If you don't know how to do it, you should learn! Maybe I'll post a tutorial!) the sticks together and to the board. I wanted somewhere to hang my earrings, so I was planning on putting in some fabric somehow, but I ended up making a sort of dreamcatcher to hang them from instead.

I just want to take this time to thank my third grade teacher who taught me how to make a dreamcatcher. I don't remember your name, but I remember what you taught me! And I love it!

Here is a close-up:

It only took me about an hour to make. I think the next ones will be prettier, faster and easier to make now. I've got sisters, so I'm thinking "REALLY GREAT CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!" but we all know how that goes...

Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Waking up : An Excerpt From My Grit Blog

Hey guys!

Since I don't like repeating my self all that much, I'll just give you a brief and then send you on to GRIT!

This post is all about my my experience of waking up to the realities of self-sufficiency. I reference Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It's sounds pretty boring but I think it's pretty awesome!

If you want to read about it, visit http://www.grit.com/blogs/haven-homesteaders-for-grit.aspx. It's the blog article titled, "Waking Up."

Thanks for reading!