Posted in Non-Electric

August and Annie

Meet August. She is the creation of a brilliant twenty-three year old named Annie, who is helping me on my farm. August is a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van who started her life as a work van in Chicago, a bare bones vehicle given a second life as a traveling ray of sunshine.

Annie and her mother beautified the interior of the van with sweet-smelling pine planks and faux wood floors.

The sink has a pump and containers for grey water and fresh water reserves.

Annie graduated from Colorado University this year with a chemical engineering degree but really has a great love and passion for all things homesteading. She has traveled quite extensively and this van emanates her pioneering spirit.

The futon folds out into a double bed. There is storage above and behind the bed.

I have always been fascinated with the idea of traveling the country in an old restored school bus or even in our copper Fiat named Fernando. Annie inspired us with her restored van and her ingenuity. August and Annie have brought fun and joy to our farm.

Posted in Non-Electric

Garden Sickle (the homesteader’s weed wacker)

My husband would get really frustrated pulling and replenishing all that bright orange plastic cord in the weed wacker every so many feet. “Where is all that plastic going?” I wondered aloud. There was shredded plastic all over the farm, basically. Not to mention the gasoline or the really long cord and electricity it required and that they were too unwieldy for me to use.

Enter the garden sickle. It is such an easy off grid device. I got mine from Territorial Seeds for twenty dollars. It is basically a mini-scythe.

Before

I don’t hoe the paths between the garden rows because Mother Earth likes some covering, and it’s just as easy to grow what she wants there. But I do give it a sleek haircut weekly.

After

You can stand or kneel. You can use the sickle in any direction. Hold it sideways and without too much pressure you just wack smoothly, like you’re giving the weeds a haircut.

The goats and ducks get excited when they see the sickle because they love the weeds that I chop up. It’s free food for the farm animals. The chickens prefer bindweed, but I just pull that up by hand.

Now, you don’t need all that fancy equipment on the farm. This simple tool will last you many years and does the job in a fraction of the time since you don’t have to stop and adjust it every ten minutes. After every few uses, clean and dry the sickle and sharpen. It has a serrated edge so be careful. Hold the sickle at a sharp 45 degree angle and smoothly drag the sharpener along the teeth a few times. You don’t want to grind down the teeth.

Sometimes I wonder if all our modern inventions didn’t just make our life harder! Try out a garden sickle and see how lovely off grid tools can be!

Posted in Non-Electric

Off Grid Lighting (even if you are on the grid)

There is something about old fashioned living that appeals to many of us. Old fashioned living honors the natural rhythms of nature and the body. It is better for the senses, the spirit, and one’s outlook. I am not romanticizing the life of pioneers of old- the starvation, traveling away from their families, the freezing temperatures- but we can take the practical, slower, methodical (and sometimes fast paced), family oriented, earth friendly, sweet aspects and incorporate them into our modern homesteading practices. One of the easiest ways to incorporate homesteading into one’s life is old fashioned lighting.

This mouse is one of my favorite finds!

A girlfriend of mine and I go visit Amish friends in Westcliffe every so often. The last time Elizabeth and I were there, Ruth showed us around their new home, freshly built of rustic logs and windows with views.

“What are the outlets for?” Elizabeth pointed at the ceiling.

“Oh, we have to have the house wired in case we ever want to sell it,” was Ruth’s reply.

Hanging between two comfortable looking chairs facing west and looking out upon the grand Sangre de Cristos- so close you could practically climb them- was a battery operated light, much like one you might find in a mechanic’s garage. They charged it in the basement at night and it ran for many hours in the evening.

So, what’s the point? If one is going to have light at all, why not just flip on a switch? For the Amish, living a slow, simple life keeps them closer to God and each other. That is really what homesteading is about as well. It connects us to things greater than ourselves. Greater than video games, recorded television shows, and opens the way for meaningful conversation and family time. One area of lighted space keeps a family together in that space, reading, laughing, sewing, watching the children play. When Doug and I popped in to see Ruth’s husband, Joel, at his furniture shop last weekend, he mentioned the birth of twins. Happy moments shine brighter in an old fashioned life.

Oil lamps are my favorite because they are beautiful and practical and some of the old ones come with their own quiet stories. Oil lamps are easy to find in antique stores and even Walmart. There are beautiful ones online and even second hand stores. That is where my daughter, Emily, spotted this charming red one. Oil lamps come in all shapes and sizes. When you are looking at an old one, turn the knob and make sure it moves the wick up and down. You can get a new screw on collar for the lamp if needed online. Put in a fresh wick. Empty any remaining oil and clean the lamp. Pour in a clean oil like, Klean-Heat or Firefly. Let the wick gather up the oil for a few hours before lighting. Let the wick barely show over the top in order to keep the lamp from smoking or wasting oil. Clean the chimney and place on top.

I also use extra chimneys to cover candle tapers. I have some lovely candle holders. Candles perhaps give off the best light. Look for packages of candles at second hand stores. The best though, is to purchase a bulk pack of dripless candles. They last a long time and do not make such a mess.

If I supplement light, it is from twinkly lights. We always grab a few extra boxes of Christmas lights during the season. They use less energy and help supplement the space with soothing light.

By using off grid or near off grid lighting options, the dimmed light allows the body to calm down and you will sleep better. It is a natural way for your body to know that the day is fading. It just doesn’t get the memo with television and phone screens! It is less harsh on the eyes and flattering on faces. It is calming in a way I cannot explain in prose. We are so relaxed and comfortable in the evenings. Between the wood stove and our off grid lighting, our gas and electric bills are less than half of what they would be in a conventional environment. And even though oil for the lamps and candles have a footprint, it is less than blaring all the electric lights. Incorporating non-electric lighting into one’s house is easily done anywhere and is a great step into the world of homesteading.

Some more of my articles you may enjoy:

Visit Ruth’s House

A return to our Amish friends’ house

Oil lamps

Posted in Non-Electric

The Hand-Cranked Life

The dawn filters through the windows white and glowing after the night of snow. I put my warm robe on and wander out to the wood stove to start the fire. It starts spreading heat quickly and the kitties gather and curl up on furniture around the stove while I start the coffee.

The grinder has a gentle whir that I rather like as I churn the handle around. It isn’t difficult and within minutes the smell of freshly ground coffee awakens my senses. The kettle on the stove starts to bubble and the grounds hiss and extract as the boiling water immerses into the French press.

My Great Pyrenees will not come inside, despite the very cold temperature. I have never had an outdoor dog before. I always thought it rather cruel. But there he is, happy as can be sitting in the snow barking at who knows what. I give him a bowl of water that is not frozen. I open the chicken door and give them food and water as well. The mountains are hidden behind a thick veil of clouds and threatening snow storms. The large western sky above makes it feel like a snow globe. The cats are fed and fresh water given and I settle in with my coffee amongst them before the fire and write.

I turn off the computer, unplug all cords, there are no LED lights shining non-stop here. They irk me for some reason and I can actually here the buzzing from electric devices. The grandfather clock gently ticks time and tells me the quarter hour. My home wouldn’t be quite the same without the master of time standing guard in the living room.

I tie my apron on and the day is spent in blissful schedule. Bringing in wood. Stoking the fire. Putting the kettle back on the wood stove for tea. I think I will put on a Dutch oven of beans and make sage white bean soup for supper. Maybe I will knead together a loaf of bread.

I tend to whatever household chores are on the day’s list and do all the cooking from scratch. Stopping to snuggle animals. Catching up on sewing projects. Dreaming of spring. Reading gardening manuals as if they were the most fascinating of novels. My education in farming and homesteading continues. Though is doesn’t make a lot of money, it saves a lot of money. And money saved is the same as money earned sometimes. Particularly for homestead wives.

Today I will write to my pen pal and perhaps call my grandpa. The piano is longing to be played. There is a steadiness to the winter days here. Soon I will have my clothes line up and in the spring I will get a set up to do my clothes washing by hand outdoors once again. I will use a hoe to weed, and my hands to harvest. Nary a machine in sight.

The warm water and suds caress my hands as I place the dishes in the dish rack. Stir the soup. Take a sip of homemade mead. Light the candles and oil lamps as the sun begins to fade, casting shadows across the house and another day winds down.

We sit together and chat, enjoy the fire with a hot drink and talk about our day. Blow out the oil lamps and the candles. And fall into bed sleepy and happy and content.

The furnace will come on if the indoor temperature drops too low. My daughters will snapchat me throughout the day. We can turn on the lights of the lamps. There is a coffee maker for entertaining in the garage. I could just go on using the washer and dryer year round and I certainly could turn the clock on above the stove. But why? When the gentle cadence of an old fashioned life brings with it such quiet and loveliness. When clothes and dishes are cleaner, coffee better, house warmer, air more crisp as one gathers wood. Laughing at animal antics, kneading the bread, the feel of a wooden spoon in hands that work joyfully. Reading by oil lamp, snuggling near the fire, a kitten on one’s lap, and a song in the heart. That is a day in a hand-cranked life.

Posted in Non-Electric

Tips for Heating with a Wood Stove

It was thirty-five degrees in the little homestead. It was a particularly cold winter and the wood cookstove in the 1890’s kitchen was our only source of heat. Hands freezing, seeing through my breath, I fumbled with the kindling and the wood pieces trying to get a fire going. I always did, but often not without tears and frustration. In our current homestead, we have central heating. We rarely use it though. We put in a nice wood stove. It is compact and unassuming but keeps our home toasty, and even the rooms that are closed stay well above thirty-five degrees! I can now get a fire up and roaring in a few minutes flat. I wanted to share a few tips with you.

Kindling– My granddaughter’s daddy, Bret’s great-grandpa was busy cutting down trees and chopping wood until the park that he lives in said he needed to get rid of all the wood. My cousins and their truck swung by and picked me up and we were off to Denver to get a truckload of wood. Most of it was piled into boxes and was perfect for kindling. Any small twigs, tiny branches, and pine cones make excellent kindling along with newspaper. I admit I do not read the paper but I always pick up the free ones for the wood stove.

  1. I like to put a small, flat piece of wood down over the grates and place four to six crumbled up newspaper pieces just tucked under and around the wood. Crumple the paper well, if it’s loose, it will burn too quickly.

2. I take a long piece of newspaper and wrap up a good fistful of twigs and small branches and place that on top of the flat piece of wood and paper.

Wood– There are two kinds of wood, soft wood and hard wood. Hard wood burns longer and more even. Soft wood burns quickly and is good for starting fires. Cedar would be an example of soft wood and Osage Orange is the hardest wood. Somewhere in between is all you need. We only have cedars on our property so I ordered two full cords (not face cords) of cottonwood. I typically put a piece of wood in an hour.

3. Place one small piece of wood alongside tilted over the bundle of kindling so that there is something to catch and prolong the fire. The kindling will burn fast. Each thing has air between. One needs oxygen to get a fire going. Light the paper in places from back to front.

4. Keep the door closed but not latched. This helps bring in air to get the fire going. About the time you add another log once everything is really going is when you can latch the door. If the flames begin to go out, open the door again. Poke things around a bit if wood is piled to thick to get the fire going. You can always throw in another sheet of newspaper crumbled and stuffed with a poker between the logs. Sometimes that is all you need.

Managing Heat- Close doors to rooms that are not in use. If it gets too hot but you don’t want to let the fire go out, open the bedroom doors. This helps regulate the heat in the house.

Cooking on the Wood stove- Use the top of the wood stove as a burner. If you want higher heat, place pan directly on stove. If you need to lessen the heat, place the pan on a trivet. Cook just as you would on a stove top. Certainly place a tea pot on the stove so you have hot water for tea and coffee at the ready! A pot of beans is always nice as well. I ruined a perfectly good pressure cooker pot by using it to heat water. It was aluminum, apparently, and bent up something awful. Cast iron was made for cooking over fire. Enamelware over cast iron works great as well.

Humidity- Just like central heating (or more so), wood heat dries everything out. Great if you live in a humid climate, but here in Colorado where it is high desert- haven’t seen moisture in weeks- skin gonna fall off- dry, a pot of water atop the stove is necessary. You can even add a few shakes of essential oils into the water for a pleasing aroma.

Ash- Heating and cooking with wood is carbon neutral so long as you order cords of already dead wood or cut up downed trees and branches. It goes full circle. The ash can be added around the base of trees. It will raise the PH of the soil, but may be too alkaline in gardens if used alone so a little goes a long way. You can sprinkle it in fallow fields or in small doses along where you will be starting a garden. The easiest thing to do though is to place it in the compost bin.

A wood stove is an investment, but one that pays itself off in about three years. Less if you don’t have to buy wood. You can often find free wood if you can haul it. Wood heat heats through and through. It is lovely and ambient. It keeps your utility bills low and you will always be able to keep warm and make food and coffee should the power go out. A wood stove is a homestead necessity!

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving), Non-Electric

Cooking on a Wood Stove and Mushroom Risotto Soup

Cooking on a wood stove is easier than one would think. Consider it a cook top. Add more wood to make it hotter, let it die down some to lower the heat. Use a trivet to adjust heat by raising up pot. Always use cast iron; other pots cannot handle the heat!

When I was a very young woman, my great-aunt Donna allowed me to take my children to her circa 1800’s log cabin in the woods. I loved cooking on her wood cook stove. Seventeen years later, in an 1800’s homestead on the prairie, Doug and I had a wood cook stove. We learned that it does not heat a home, but I did enjoy cooking on it. Seems food tastes better. Stirring chopped onions from the root cellar, or flipping eggs from the coop; it is all very satisfying.

When I am feeling old fashioned (or ornery), I will walk around our homestead and turn off the computer and unplug chargers and anything that has a damned light, and cook on the wood stove. (Of course the Christmas lights are all on…) Yesterday I made a fine mushroom risotto soup that was piping hot by the time my husband walked through the door. It was delicious! Served with garlic toast and a glass of wine, this homestead meal felt very fine indeed.

Mushroom Risotto Soup

  • Pour a good swirl of olive oil into cast iron Dutch oven. Place on stove.
  • Chop an onion and place in pan.
  • Give a stir with a wood spoon, then go chop 5 cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.
  • Chop up about 3 cups of shiitake mushrooms. Add to pan with 1/2 teaspoon of smoked salt (or sea salt) and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and stir well. Let that saute for a bit until onions are soft and everything is fragrant.
  • Add 1 teaspoon each oregano, thyme, paprika, and parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of red chili (or other hot chili). Saute a bit more.
  • Push vegetables to the side and add 1/4 cup of Arborio rice in a thin layer and let saute for a few minutes to toast rice.
  • Mix everything together and add five shakes of liquid smoke.
  • Give a good pour of Marsala wine to cover. It will fizzle real nice- stir, and let absorb.
  • Add 2 cups of vegetable broth. Once it begins to boil, it will be ready in about 20 minutes. You can take it off the stove until you are ready for it. Adjust seasonings.
  • Before serving, put in a tablespoon of butter and a splash of cream (I use Miyoko’s vegan butter and unsweetened organic soy milk). Place back on stove and heat through.
Socorro and Taos are ready for dinner!

When my daughter and I were out wood stove shopping, we couldn’t resist running our fingers over a new, red, shiny model of a snazzy wood cookstove. Some day!

Posted in Non-Electric

Thy Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Clothes Line (and how to make fabric softener sheets)

“Ooh, look at that one!” I exclaimed and pointed, my mouth slightly ajar. “I love that one.”

‘Tis true that our walks together over the past eighteen years have included gaping at properties we want, but we just bought our first bit of land this year so my husband replied, “That place is a mess! We just bought our own land!”

“No,” I pointed, “look at that clothes line!” I waved at it. My sign that I love it.

“In the spring,” Doug said.

I can’t wait! Oh, I know the wind has been gusting over 40 miles an hour the past few days and it is a balmy 26 degrees right now (minus windchill), and it is a strange time to be dreaming of clothes lines, but farmers and homesteaders live perpetually in the spring. I know just where I will put it.

This all began a very long time ago when our new (mind you- new) dryer crapped out on us again and smelled like it was going to catch fire. I rigged a makeshift rope across the yard to our very-nearby neighbor’s house in the suburbs. The next house didn’t have a dryer. The next house had the longest, oldest, sturdiest, most beautiful clothes line on the property. I even hand washed clothes on that property. The next one had a beautiful line as well. As did the friend we lived with complete with a buck who stayed near me while I hung clothes. (Rather enchanted place. I will be writing about that on my other blog OwlandWolf.home.blog.) We rigged a clothes line at the last house, but the new puppy pulled the clothes off and ate them. And here I am, in a lovely house- the nicest we’ve had- with a new dryer and longing for pins in my apron pocket. The smell of spring and soil and summer and sun upon the clothes as I hang them quietly in the fresh air, my eyes on the mountain ranges, listening to birds sing, and taking a moment to restore.

Work pre-electricity was a place of meditation, a time of prayer. Beading, sewing, washing, painting, farming, animal care, cooking, and hanging clothes were all ways of being in the moment. Mental health is associated with domestic chores.

In the meantime, I learned a rather good trick. In lieu of commercial fabric softener sheets, dampen a washcloth and sprinkle ten or so drops of lavender essential oil on it. Throw in with your clothes. It works great!

What are your laundry tricks?

Posted in Non-Electric

Losing My Identity

It all began simple enough.  A ringing came from my stocking on Christmas morning in 2002.  My husband wanted me to have a cell phone so we could reach each other.  Then many years later came the smart phone and all of a sudden I could be instantly connected to my email, to text messaging, to the internet.

It all began innocent enough, you know.  Such a new, fascinating thing, social media.  I could find old friends, see photographs of family, keep track of my kids, share our fun, farm life.  I started my first company- a modeling agency- twenty years ago.  Since then I opened a dance company, two apothecaries, a farm, written ten books, and have been written about in several newspapers from the Denver Post to the Huffington Post.

I am connected.  Bound.  A Facebook page, four business pages, two Instagram accounts, two emails, a cell phone, and an unexplainable addiction to the thing I despise, technology.

My very self has been wrapped up in it all.  My identity.  I fear that if I don’t have a social media presence that I will disappear.  If I only have a home phone, will I become invisible?  How will I make friends?  I might be out of touch.  I might be free.

My friends know where I live.  There is a big sign that says Pumpkin Hollow Farm out front!  They can call me on a home phone hung on the wall in my farm kitchen.  In reality, my daughter can send me photos.  The same eight friends like all my posts on all my pages.  I don’t really like the wide world of Instagram knowing where I live, actually.  I am kind of tired of hosting zillions of events.  Amazon sells my books, as do the local shops and museum.  If I wanted to boost my farm, or my books, or my work, I could go to markets.  I could be local, face to face, authentic.  You know, old fashioned.

I can still write my beloved blog.

Does anyone else feel trapped by the constant pace of the tech world?  How much time do I lose?  I am a simple housewife, apron donned and all, who grew up in a time where the phone cord wouldn’t reach around the corner so I could have privacy.  How did we get here?  With every person we see on the phone, all the time, in every place, in every situation, always connected, as if we will lose our place on this earth if we disappear from it all.

I think I am going to get a home phone.

Posted in Non-Electric

Our Farmstead Goes Solar

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Our farm began in an old house on two-thirds of an acre backing to the fairgrounds in a small, country town that will remain beloved to us for all time.  There on our rented mini-farm we watched goats, chickens, alpacas, and ducks play in the back yard, grew so many pumpkins in the front yard that people speeding down the street slammed on their brakes to take a better look, and we farmed the rest of the driveway.  We fell in love with oil lamps in that house.  The sweet glow of old fashioned light as we read in the evenings.  The gentle tick-tocking from the cuckoo clock on the wall letting us know the time as the stars came out and the moon rose.

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The landlords were losing the house but we found an amazing farm on ten acres where we would live in a late eighteen-hundred’s homestead on the property near the owner’s own house.  We had a wood cook stove to heat the house and cook on.  For a few months in the warm autumn of that year the world looked enchanted indeed.  We plotted a large garden, and gathered three cords of wood.  The chickens and goats were far from the house and we missed seeing them.  That winter we mastered the art of starting a fire while the house was thirty-seven degrees.  We quickly realized that the small firebox was not going to help and put in a large wood stove with our own money.  Of course, many of you know the ending of that dreadful tale.  We were forced to leave after putting every penny into that farm.

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So from friend’s house to friend’s house we went until we had enough saved to get into a beautiful, decidedly on-grid apartment.  That year was fun using a switch to turn on the fireplace, turning the heat up, basking in a large tub.  But the cement gets to a Farmgirl and it was time to see what was next.  Agricultural land was out of the question with the loan we qualified for.

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We found our homestead on the south side of a big-small town.  It’s big, but everywhere you go you see folks you know and I have never met friendlier people than here in Pueblo.  One third of an acre, an adobe shed with seven foot fencing made a fine chicken yard, wood floors for easy cleanup on what we knew would be our urban farm, and a wood stove held prominent position in the main room.  A root cellar holds hundreds of jars and the climate here allows for prolific gardening.  And dreaming.

The large grandfather clock keeps time, ticking regally and alerting us to each quarter hour and moon cycle.  The wood stove heats the house well, save for the back bedrooms.  We are constantly looking for ways to increase our sustainability.  How can we use less?  How can we spend less?  How can we show the beautiful earth that we are grateful?  And in return for our simplicity we find a peaceful existence of health and quiet joy.

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In the city, it is nearly impossible to be off the grid.  One can easily find one’s home condemned if attempted.  Composting toilets are against code.  City water is a given.  But there are still things we can do.  For us, the next step was solar power.  On that first farm, it would have been impossibly expensive (particularly for a rented home), but here on our very own home and in this time, it is absolutely practical and affordable. In fact, it cost us nothing.

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The solar company comes out and surveys your property, sees about light hitting the roof, and local zoning.  With a credit score of 650+ you get a loan for the amount of the solar panels, which was about $10,000.  $3000 is rebated back to you on your taxes.  We put nothing down.  The loan amount is the very same that we pay for electric every month so there is no change for us.  My neighbor’s electric bill is three times higher than ours, so she would save much, much more.  We pay a slight $8 charge to our utility company to “manage” our electricity.  Once the panels are paid off, we only pay the $8.  Our home value goes up as well.  The solar panels are flat against the roof and hardly noticeable at all.

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I have written many times how all of us really need to use less.  Wind energy is so destructive.  Obviously the power we have been creating with fracking and coal is detrimental.  Solar panels never decompose.  We can’t keep going on about the government and big oil.  We cannot stand around with our “Save the Earth” signs and not do something ourselves.  Solar was a great way for us to use considerably less resources, save thousands of trees, the equivalent of taking thousands of cars off the road, and using Father Sun for our power “needs.”  (I guess refrigeration and internet are fun.)  And it is completely accessible.

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If you are in Colorado, call Peak View Solar.  Everyone was so friendly and easy to work with.  Elisa Harrelson, 719-387-7232.  They have a referral program so mention us when you call!  It will help me get my greenhouse going!

Other things you can do to help save resources:

Eliminate animal products from your diet.

Grow a huge garden, community garden, or support local farmers.

Buy organic.

Drive less- get a bicycle!

Don’t buy crap. You know you don’t need that.  Put it back and save the money for seeds!

A wood stove is carbon neutral.

Preserve your own food.

Go for a walk.  The more you are in nature, the more inclined you will be to not hurt her.

Be grateful for life.  Indeed we are lucky to be alive this day.  Happy farming!

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating, Non-Electric

Redecorating the Farmhouse, part 3-vintage item revival

Our Lady of the Goats

It has been three years since we lost everything and left our farm.  Sure feels like a lifetime ago!  We had our family and a few things and started over.  I used to love the thrill of the hunt, the search for the usable off grid item.  I had no desire to purchase items for mere decoration, they needed to be usable.  I had every homesteading item you can think of before we left, and truth be told- material items or not- it has taken awhile to fully heal from loss.

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So, for the first time, I was able to walk through our nearby antique stores without lamenting that “I used to have that!”  I simply kept my eye open for a bargain that I could use.  A relic to make my life simpler.  Not simpler in the modern theory of flipping a switch or hitting a button, but in the beautiful space in time that hand grinding coffee beans takes, or being mesmerized by the percolator.  Or curling up beneath an oil lamp with a delicious book.  Or knowing if the power went off, we’d be none the wiser as our clocks ticked, our lights shone, and our wood stove puffed out smoke into the cool air.  The tea kettle on, a dog at my feet, a cat on my lap.  Goodness, I know no better life than one like this.  The homestead revival.

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Here are a few pieces to keep an eye out for that can go to work in your home.  They are pleasingly decorative in their own right, creating a lovely old fashioned coziness to the home, but are also useful and trusty.

Oil lamps are amazing, beautiful, useful, and fairly easy to come by.  You can, of course, buy all these things from a great homesteading catalog, like Lehman’s, but that takes some of the fun out of it!  Make sure the knob on the side works.  You can get wicks at Walmart.  They create the most lovely glow and help the body realize that bedtime is soon, as opposed to LED lights which awaken the body more.

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The coffee grinder is imperative on a homestead!  This way you can purchase five pounds of whole beans at a time at a more affordable price (organic, fair trade please!).

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There a few options for coffee.  I have long loved my French press.  It makes delicious coffee and you can keep it hot by placing it on a tea warmer with tea candle.  This percolator was in perfect condition at the antique store and the price couldn’t be beat.  There is something soothing about the gentle perking of coffee coming through the lid.  It could also go on a wood stove if the gas weren’t available.

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In this picture we have a great tea kettle that goes from stove to wood stove.  A beautiful oil lamp.  A pile of library books and musical instruments.  There are many ways to keep oneself busy without screens!

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I have three amazing clocks that I got from my friends, the Jensens’.  I have the lovely, old grandfather clock that shows up in many of my photos.  I have a fun cuckoo clock in the kitchen.  And I have this melodic, wind up clock.

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Simple baskets and reusable bags (perhaps that you make out of old clothing) are great to take to the market, or to bring in the harvest for supper, or carry books back to the library.  Try with all your heart not to buy or bring home another new thing that is plastic.

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Use less energy by unplugging cell phone chargers, anything that lights up, and shutting down your computer at night.  Turn off the television and go for a walk.

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Being outdoors hits the reset button for our lives.  A nice walk at dusk, or a hike on the weekends, helps bring life back into focus.  Finding things to do that have a lower footprint inadvertently gives you things to do that are great for mental and physical health.  We may have more health care options in this day and age but I bet our fore bearers were actually healthier and happier because they had purpose, family, and kept busy.  They had the magical satisfaction of work well done, of having purpose, and the space of mind to relax during methodical tasks.

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There are many ways that we can lessen our load and the one we have put on the planet.  Spend time with family, eat homegrown or local food, laugh, read, be.  And maybe read by oil lamp.