We are revising our recipe book and we would like to add recipes from you and your little homesteads too! Click the read more button below to find out how you can participate and possibly win some prizes
Have you ever heard the old adage, "First year they sleep, second year they creep, and third year they leap?" Well folks this is our year to leap!
Haven Homestead, like most perennial plants, has been sleeping and creeping with the best of them. For the past three years, we have been putting down roots, building relationships, and getting financially prepared.
This year we will begin and finish construction on our house, which means more opportunities to serve others in our home. We will also complete construction on our first place to lodge guests! We are calling it The Cottage.
This year we will also be focusing on building an online school for sustainability. We believe it will enable us to encourage more folks to live a sustainable life.
Our abilities to serve you are growing! We are so excited for the possibilities. Make sure you check back often to see how our leaping is progressing!
There are three reasons why homeschooling works for us.
I work best with a little flexibility. I get a little cramped when I give myself too many deadlines. I like that my daughter can come into my room at 6:30 in the morning and we can spend time on one of our preschool games, or read a book together, or we can start our learning day at 9:00. I like that my son can wake up from his nap and we can spend some time counting his favorite trucks.
Most days, I am not rushed to get the kids up and out. I can take my time and use every possible moment as a teaching moment. Plus, I'm a busy momma. I can work on learning whenever, and wherever, and my children learn about life from living it.
This works well for us. At least for now while our children are young, this flexibility is freedom.
Taking responsibility for your actions, good or bad, is key to finding true happiness. I truly believe that.
As a mother, I am responsible for the education of my children. I am responsible for teaching them how to be productive members of society.
For some mom's, that looks like sending their children to a public school and being an involved parent. There's nothing wrong with that. For me, it looks like homeschooling.
Ultimately, my children will benefit from my involvement in their education in the same way that a publicly schooled student will benefit from having an actively involved parent.
I am choosing to homeschool, because it's the responsible thing for me to do.
I am able to teach my children, so why not? As my children get older and get smarter than I am, I will give them their choice of resources that will extend my abilities to teach them, including public school. However, that's not where ability stops.
When I talk about ability, I'm not just talking about my own ability to teach. I also mean that I can teach to my children's abilities.
I looked at the curriculum for the kindergarten classes at my local school and my little girl would be so bored. She knew her letters and letter sounds by age 3. She's reading before age 5. We've worked on sorting and patterns and she can count to more than one hundred. She's even adding. I don't say this to brag, not even a little bit. All I mean by this is that, I'm sure she'd get into mischief during instruction time! She'd either try to answer all the questions and get into trouble for talking too much, then have an emotional melt down when the teacher tells her to stop, or she'd fall behind because she'll be staring off into space because the teacher lost her. She needs something different than what's being offered at public school.
On the other hand, my son is a late talker, so he may struggle to communicate with others, but his intelligence is certainly not lacking. He can could count to 20 without help before he could really say the numbers. He has really well developed motor skills and can handle doing most of the things that my daughter can, and somethings more. I'm afraid that in a public school situation, he might be labeled "special needs" and he would be held back in other areas because of it. He is an incredibly bright boy, and he doesn't deserve that.
I want to set my children up for success. I know my children, I can give them what's best. I don't have to place unrealistic expectations on teachers, and we are free to learn at our own paces.
This is what works for us. What works for you?
What do you think of when you hear the terms "Permaculture" and "Prepping?" Do you think, "What?" or "Crazy!" or something else entirely? Are Permaculture and Prepping at odd's with each other? Can they work together to make the world a better place? That's what I wanted to know when I decided to interview some of my idols.
When I started this journey, I had no idea how awesome it would be. Growing up, I knew how important it was to be prepared for things. My dad always told me to "keep my head on a swivel" which meant pay attention and to be ready for anything.
To be honest I'm a little bit of a space cadet so I especially needed that guidance. Anyways, I really took that to heart.
As an adult I became interested in permaculture because I have a deep regard for my Heavenly Father and all of his creations. In the words of Matt Powers, "Permaculture is the language of nature." I want to learn this language so badly!
Being prepared and living sustainably, are both so important to me, but for awhile I didn't know how permaculture and prepping could work together. Both can be all consuming, and can require a lot of effort, at least in the beginning. I couldn't see how they worked together. Until one day I realized that you need to be prepared in order to do permaculture things, and like Paul Wheaton said, "Every act of permaculture leaves you better prepared." I'm still working on defining this relationship in my life. Now, thanks to these wonderful interviews, I am a lot more clear on how permaculture and prepping can live together in one life. I hope these help you do the same!
For this interview series, I spoke with (really communicated, some of the interviews were via email) 5 experts; Ernie and Erica Wisner, Paul Wheaton, Geoff Lawton, and Matt Powers.
I took what they wrote (or said), lightly edited for grammar and clarity, pulled out a few of my favorite quotes, and left it in an interview format. And here they are, in all of their wonderfulness. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope that you learn something important.
(p.s. click on the images above to be taken to that books link in our store!)
In a word: Endurance.
Every time I think about the word endurance I think of a story that I heard when I was little. It was about two frogs who fell into a bucket of cream. They couldn't hop or climb out. One frog gave up and drowned in the milk while the other one kept swimming in circles. Eventually the cream turned to butter and the frog who didn't give up could hop out.
Can you imagine how hard it would be to paddle in that milk just before it turned to butter?
When you are starting from scratch and it seems like nothing has a place, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
THERE IS HOPE!
If you know what you want, you can live The Abundant Life. If you decide now to never give up, you can do anything.
When I feel like giving up and running away, or when I feel like I can't do this, I just dig in again with even more verve than before. I DARE whatever is getting me down to try again and see what happens. My dad's favorite movie quote for a while was, "Never give up! Never surrender!" That is what I say.
This is what separates the men from the boys. Being able to endure in the face of trial.
How are you handling life's challenges? Leave me a comment below.
HEY! Here's another wonderful guest post from our friends over at Startoff Homesteading. Check it out!
When Jen and I bought our 12 acres of paradise in Maine, we knew we had some serious planning to do to get the very most out of our land. We wanted to grow some vegetables, have room for our horses and be able to expand our activities over time. At the same time, we discovered the world of permaculture, and while we are not complete permaculture converts, the simple planning concepts really struck a cord with us. Some of the principles and methods just made a whole lot of sense when planning our homestead.
One of the tools, or design principles practiced in permaculture is Zone Planning. Zone Planning is the placement of different elements (such as fruit trees, animal pens, grazing fields, garden plot, etc.) based on how often you use or maintain that particular element. The things you use most often are placed closest to you, or at least in such a way that it's easiest to access the things you use most often. It's a really efficient way to plan your plot. The image below defines what should go in each zone. Keep in mind as you design your zones, that you may not have , nor do you need, all the zones present on your property (like we don't really have a zone 5 yet!), and they will NOT look like this target thing.
Take a look at our zone system. We used the wonderful free mapping tool, Google Earth, to plan out our whole property using these permaculture zones:
Zone 0 (orange)
This is our home - the building and any other structures that house equipment etc but in which you don't do any farming activities. So house, garage, workshop etc. Our barn is NOT in Zone 0, because we have a farming activity inside it!)
Zone 1 (yellow)
This is the zone closest to our house and where we visit often. It’s where we have our vegetable/herb gardens that require us to water, weed, harvest on an almost daily basis. We also have our chicken shed and horse stalls in this zone - and in this zone is the barn!
Zone 2 (green)
This is the next zone away from our house. This is the area we visit maybe once a week to do some maintenance or farm activity. I have some berry canes growing in this zone, a no-dig pumpkin area, our compost bins and manure compost area.
Zone 3 (blue)
This is an area where we have to work intensively a few times a growing season - to plant, water and harvest - or where we allow our animals to graze. For us, this is our horse fields in which our chickens can free range as well. Our old apple and pear orchard is in this zone. We have planned that as time goes on this zone will decrease and Zone 2 will expand into it..
Zone 4 (purple)
This is a zone in which you just venture to gather wild food (like forest mushrooms) or gather firewood. So typically its a forest environment where you don't graze animals. We have a wedge of this zone on our place - but hope over time it will turn into a Zone 5 area.
A wild area - an area that you rarely go into. A place for wild animals to roam. A place to protect so that the natural ecosystems can thrive. It can also be the place from which your water supply is being recharged. For us this is a special place we aspire to have....we plan for it and it will occur!
Now we have a better understanding of our permaculture zones, we can plan ahead to make sure we are getting the most our of our property. For example, we already have plans for converting a section of the northern area of Zone 3 (horse fields) into Zone a 4 (forest). It’s an area that gets a little boggy in the wet seasons, but will also provide us with some more privacy and help block the prevailing winds. We have stopped slashing the area and are allowing the small trees to sprout that are self seeded. We know it will take years, but know that a future generation will benefit from the new ‘space’.
Gaz Lewis - a homesteader and geology educator living in Maine. Gaz writes about homesteading on his blog and provides advice to new homesteaders on Startoff Homesteading (www.startoffhomesteading.com).
Advertising and Marketing can be a pain in the neck for most small business owners. I know how you feel! I don't want to be just another noisy voice in the cacophony of "Buy this!" "Take this class!" or "Read my stuff!" It's hard to find a way to stand out in that mess, let alone the fact that when I do try, I don't feel like I'm being effective at all. I sometimes feel like I just shouldn't try at all, but it all comes down to this:
How is anyone going to be able to take advantage of what I am trying to offer if I don't say anything!?
I thought I'd take this opportunity to offer our marketing strategy (which is incredibly liberating and simple) to anyone who is in the same boat. I hope this helps!
First things first, Always Be Helpful and Considerate!
Being helpful means that you start with a high-quality, well-designed, thoroughly-thought-through product and you tell folks about it in a kind and helpful way.
If you start with a high-quality product, whether it's a class, a book, or a hand-crafted piece of furniture, then selling it becomes easier. It becomes easier to get other folks talking about it, too, and let's face it, word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to win or lose business.
Telling folks about it in a kind and helpful way means cutting the fluff, and keeping your communications "other" centered, and not self-centered. No one wants to hear about you and your product. They do however want to hear about how a really great product can help make their lives better. Whenever you are putting yourself out there, keep that in mind. You need to keep your Self out of it. Besides, people will more often listen to an experienced peer than a self-centered expert.
The KISS rule.
I learned this from my dad when I was growing up. K.I.S.S. stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid." The more complicated your marketing strategy the more difficult it is to execute the plan. I say pick between 3 and 5 channels or avenues to talk about your products, and no more. I like website, blog, social media, and local chamber of commerce.
Instead of having to keep up with all of the social media options out there, pick one. Maybe two. Find out where your audience is, then go there. And just there. At least for now.
When it comes to having a website and/or blog, keep it simple here to. I think having your own domain is essential to business, but you can certainly squeak by without a blog of your own. If you have a website, but you don't want to keep a blog of your own, consider guest blogging for others on occasion. It's a really great way to get the word out in a helpful sort of way!
If you are going to run ads in a newspaper or other advertising outlet, keep it simple. Simple powerful ads on one or two avenues at a time is more effective than a sub-par ad on 50 avenues.
Consistency is Key.
Whatever you do, you must be consistent in order to be effective. Your logo needs to be consistent, your language needs to be consistent, and your timing needs to be consistent. It's absolutely essential to growing and establishing a business.
While the needs for different businesses and business owners will vary greatly depending, you need to be reaching out regularly to your people. It doesn't matter whether you reach out once a month, once a week, or once a day, you just need to be regular about that. And really you shouldn't do anything less than once a quarter. Otherwise you'll be forgotten and possibly even lost in the deluge of competing media.
To sum that all up...
Here at Haven Homestead, we:
In other words, we are doing our best to help other folks, and we are doing it in a kind, consistent manner. How are you doing it? Please let me know in the comments below!
Know Your Rocks
Knowing about the rocks on your farm can really help you to understand the mineral components of your soil. That mineral component is so important, but often overlooked as most folks go about improving their soils. However, it's the minerals that provide most of the vital elements needed for plant growth. So lets have a closer look at the rocks and minerals that you might find on your farm.
Rocks in General
All the rocks on our planet can be divided into three major groups.
Igneous - Rocks that formed from the cooling of molten rock either below ground (plutonic rocks like granite or gabbro) or above ground (volcanic rocks like basalt or rhyolite)
Sedimentary - Rocks that formed from the cementing together of cobbles, sands, silts or mud size particles into layers of rocks. Most of these are formed in the oceans on the margins of the continents where these materials have have washed from the land in rivers such as sandstone, shale, conglomerate or built up from the remains of animals like limestone.
Metamorphic - Rocks that are formed from the squashed and/or cooked (but not melted) remains of other rocks. These are usually found where mountains formed, continents collided, or close to huge masses of molten material. Rocks like schists and marbles, quartzites and gneisses.
All of these rocks are made up of a mix of common minerals: Quartz Felspars Mica Amphibole Pyroxene Olivine Calcite Plus, a splattering of minor minerals.
Here is a table of just a few of the common rock types
and the minerals they contain:
Rock type Rock Name Minerals
Igneous Granite Quartz, Feldspar, Mica
Igneous Rhyolite Quartz, Feldspar, Mica
Igneous Basalt Amphibole, Feldspar, Pyroxene, Olivine
Metamorphic Marble Calcite,
Metamorphic Schist Mica, Quartz,
Metamorphic Gneiss Quartz, Feldspar,
Sedimentary Sandstone Quartz, Feldspar, Mica, Clays
Sedimentary Shale Clays
Sedimentary Limestone Calcite
Once a rock is exposed to the weather it will start to break down "physically" into smaller grains, and "chemically" into different minerals. These major rock forming minerals break down into the following (lesser/minor) minerals. These are the minerals that you will find in your soils:
Original Mineral New Mineral Released Elements
Quartz Quartz Felspars Clays Potassium, Sodium, Calcium
Mica Clays Potassium
Amphibole Clays, Iron
Pyroxene Clays, Iron
Olivine Clays, Iron, Magnesium
Calcite & Dolomite Calcite, Calcium, Magnesium
What this means for you...
So, if you know that much, you can figure the following: If you you live in an area where granite is the dominate rock type (a rock containing quartz, feldspar and mica), you will find your well-developed soils contain quartz, grains, and clays. Less developed soil will appear sandy as the feldspars have not yet broken down into clays. The soil will contain potassium, sodium and calcium.
If your homestead is on basalt, you will have clay rich soils with loads of iron and magnesium.
The best way to find out what kinds of rocks you have in your area is to visit your national or state’s Geological Survey. To find those in the USA go here (http://www.stategeologists.org/). They will have maps (many online) and advice to help you discover whats under your feet.
What ever rock type you have on your farm will directly affect the type of soil you have to work with. With a little love and care, any soil can be amended with fertilizers and organic matters to create fertile, workable ground. It just helps to know what you are starting with!
(This here is a post from our old blog. I hope you enjoy it as much now, as when it was first posted 8/2014!)
I have always wondered how it is that some people have "green" thumbs and others don't. I use to have the blackest thumb ever, and it's unfortunate because I believe that Geoff Lawton had it right when he said, "You can solve all the worlds problems in a garden."
My favorite color is green. I love the book "The Secret Garden" so much that I read it 12 times in one year! I want to study herbal medicine. I think that plants are amazing, BUT... I kill them. Completely unintentionally. Nonetheless, I am guilty of plant murder by neglect on several counts.
It's Chris that is the grower. Of all of the plants that he has revived, I am ashamed to admit that close to half of them were my fault. (The other half he bought from nurseries at extreme discounts at the end of the season and they were half dead when they were purchased.)
The garden thrives with him around. As soon as he walks into the garden, the plants start humming with excitement. I love working with him in the garden, because I can feel a little of the humming crossing over. When he's there with me, I feel like I'm doing alright.
So we were in the garden together the other day, and it hit me. I now know how to get a green thumb!
How do you get a green thumb? You spend time in the garden!
... and prune the tomatoes! Tomatoes are full of green juice that turns your hands green after the chlorophyll has oxidized a bit!
All joking aside, spending time in the garden, whether you are pruning tomato plants or thinning carrots, or any number of other plant nurturing activities, will help you to develop your green thumb.
After learning all you can from books and blogs and neighbors, you just need to get out there and do it. When you spend time in the garden, you gain the necessary experience that allows you to "read" the plants and tell what they need. If you have questions, it really helps to have mentors, friends and a few really good blogs give you some support.
But the best way to green your thumb is to practice. Practice and don't worry about messing up. Just keep practicing! Just keep gardening!
Share a comment below on the green- or blackness of your thumbs!
Comfrey is probably one of the most talked about plants in permaculture plant forums, and it’s no wonder! This prolific plant is stout, easy to propagate and very useful. This little dandy is sometimes called knit-bone, because it is commonly used as a poultice to help heal broken bones. How cool is that!
In fact, since so much has been said, I won’t say too much my self, but I would like to point you to a couple of awesome resources on the matter!
First, there’s Paul Wheaton’s video, “Why Permaculture Folks Love Comfrey.” It’s a 10 minute video, where some permaculture experts talk about the awesomeness of this beneficial plant! Toby Hemenway, author of “Gaia’s Garden,” even calls comfrey the King of Permaculture! If you are even a little bit curious, about comfrey, I would check it out.
Secondly, I’m going to point you to the Plants For A Future Database (PFAF). They are a non-profit, research organization dedicated to researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture. They have been compiling a database for more than a decade. That database currently has more than 7,000 different species of plants. THEY ARE AWESOME!!!! PFAF lists 5 different species of Comfrey, edible, medicinal, and other uses for the plant, growing conditions, propagation techniques and more.
Here are some highlights from the PFAF entry on Symphytum officinale, or common comfrey:
For more on this highly beneficial plant, including toxicity information, check out the database at www.pfaf.org.
We’ll see you soon with another awesome Plant Profile from Haven Homestead!
Lindsay Hodge is our resident Writer here at Haven Homestead. She keeps this blog, a GRIT blog, and writes other fun things too.