The Homesteader’s Favorite Big Box Store: Lehman’s Tour

While visiting family in Ohio I had the opportunity to visit Lehman’s in Kidron, an Amish retail store that sell all sorts of products that help you be more self sufficient.  I love the store because they have products that can be hard to find otherwise, unless you order them through their website.  But here you can find them all right on the shelf and see how they work in person. From cheesemaking, to wood stoves, to old timey hardware, to non electric technologies of all kinds, you can find everything here.  I don’t usually recommend buying lots of stuff, but most of these products are about self-sufficiency, so they help you reduce your dependence on buying many other products and foods.

Trying Out the GoSun Solar Cooker

I designed my house with the sun in mind, and since I get so much sun inside the house in the middle of winter, why should put a solar cooker outside to cook?  The GoSun,  a relatively new design for solar cooking, is small, portable, and powerful enough to use in my house with just the sunlight coming in through the window.  My DR neighbor Aaron and I tried it out last January to see how it would work even in the low intensity winter sunlight.  The GoSun is just another tool we can use to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel and make use of the abundant solar energy that bathes our planet year round.

New Plastic for my Hoop House

So I got some new plastic for my hoop house.  This is more of a vlog post than anything else.  Just let you know what I’m up to.  This new plastic is different from the old.  I thought there was something wrong when I opened up the box because it was so cloudy, but apparently it isn’t as clear as the old stuff because it refracts sunlight so the light is dispersed more evenly for the plants.  No shadows are cast inside the house and the sun’s energy fall evenly on all the plants inside.  It took awhile and I needed to recruit some helpers from my village, but that’s what’s great about living in a community–you can always count on help from neighbors.

Natural Refrigerator: The Root Cellar in My Floor

When I built my house I noticed that one corner of the foundation was really deep, so I planned to make it into a root cellar. Now I use this space to keep the food I grow in the summer fresh through the winter, without refrigeration. It was a rather simple design feature, but it saves me a lot of energy in the long run and allows me to eat my harvest year round.

Our economy expends a huge amount of energy on refrigeration, not only to preserve food so that it can be shipped across the world and eaten fresh, but so that the food industry can recreate the climate conditions of a root cellar. Continue reading

My Ten Year Old Toothbrush

Part of a hardcore sustainable lifestyle means reducing waste in every action you take.  That’s why I use a toothbrush that’s over ten years old.  How can you possibly use a toothbrush for ten years? You’ll find out when you watch this video.

In a consumer culture where throwing things out after using them briefly has become the norm, reusing something seen as disposable seems odd.  Disposable products require more extraction and waste of resources, and in many circumstances these products could easily be made to last.  Disposability is just another cultural and economic trend that does incredible damage to the environment.  And it increases corporate profits in the short term for sure, but in the long term, wasting resources is actually bad for the economy.

Sustainable Landscaping: Scythe vs String Trimmer

Most people these days maintain their yard with a lawnmower and a string trimmer (or weed whacker, as we like to call it), but before the days of fossil fuel, the scythe was the preferred mowing tool. Virtually silent in comparison to its carbon emitting counterparts, the scythe is simply manufactured, durable, and long lived. Best of all, it requires no fossil fuel, only muscle power. And for that reason it’s also provides good exercise.

At Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, where we are building a post fossil fuel culture and community, the scythe is the tool of choice for yard and farm maintenance. The renewable energy powered electric string trimmer also has a place in maintaining a space.