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Paula's Chicken Coop

Robert's Projects | Root Cellar

Step one:  Dig a hole in the ground.  We are fortunate to have a local gravedigger who is a real artist with a backhoe. He can carve a hole with straight sides almost within an inch of what you ask for.

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Knowledge Weighs Nothing

Free Step By Step Plans To Build A Barn Style Greenhouse

Amazing FREE set of 'professional level' build plans! Now's the time to get building a greenhouse, so grab a copy of these free plans whilst they are online.

Giving Tree Homestead

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Made with glass bottles.....good idea for recycle !!

Knowledge Weighs Nothing

Excellent DIY Lightweight Tin Can Stove

Check out this great little stove made out of a tin can and some wire hangers. It would good for camping and emergency preparedness. You could use different sized tin cans for a larger or smaller stove.

Recycled silver fork bracelet with turquoise (this one by MamaJoia-Etsy)

Preparedness Pro

For those of you who are still trying to figure out what you can do to easily pump water from your well when there's no electricity or funds for solar options, consider this Do-It-Yourself project from Maya Pedal.Org. This PDf Has the complete Instructions!

Homestead & Survival

DIY Solar Hot Water Tank For Thermal Storage (Solar Hot Water Tank)...

Make your own DIY solar hot water tank to adequately store hot water for doing dishes and laundry and for taking showers.

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Tip Of The Day

How cool would this be in a garden?

Aluminum Rainbow Bottle Tree (

Build a cistern out of corrugated road culvert

Using a corrugated road culvert as a cistern is an economical way to add to your water storage. Here is the finished tank with PVC pipe directing water from a gutter into the tank inlet.
No matter where you live, the most important resource that a prepared homestead can have is access to stored water. It may be abundant or scarce, but you still have to be able to collect and store it somewhere. That's where tanks and cisterns come in. Wells are fantastic, but if you have no holding capacity, your access to water is 100% dependent on the pump and the electricity to run it. Whether you're in a wet or dry environment, being able to collect rain or just hold a reserve of water is essential.
We happen to live in the Arizona desert and water is a huge issue with us. We have no well on our property, so the storage of our summer and winter rains is crucial. Unfortunately though, storing water isn't as cheap as it once was. It used to be that you could get a plastic tank or some used IBC (intermediate bulk container) totes for cheap or build an inexpensive concrete cistern. Large-capacity poly tanks have become very popular as well as pricey, and building a concrete cistern isn't exactly cheap either. Not to mention very labor- and maintenance-intensive.
Frame was set and leveled with PVC pre-plumbed, rebar and remesh tied, and filler rocks added to save on concrete.

Author using a boom hoist to lower the culvert into the "soupy" concrete mix

Detail view of water spigot and valve. Note that the assembly is threaded to aid in cleaning in the event of a blockage

Inside of the tank was coated with Ames' Blue Max Liquid Rubber along the culvert seams and tank floor to prevent leakage

Recently, my wife and I were considering the option of adding more capacity to our rain system. We currently have three tanks totalling about 10,500 gallons but we wanted to up our capacity just a bit due to the overflow loss we sometimes had at the end of our monsoon season when our tanks were full. I had wanted another polytank but she wasn't keen on another piece of plastic sitting next to the house or spending another $1,200+ on a 2,500-gallon poly tank, so I suggested that we build a cistern out of road culvert. I had seen a couple around the Tucson area and after showing her pictures and giving her estimates in the $300-400 range, she was interested. We could get a 1,100-gallon cistern out of an 8x5-foot diameter road culvert. And if we wanted to go to an even larger diameter, the cistern capacity would exponentially increase versus the smaller increase in price.
In my research, I found some general plan diagrams out of the Texas and Arizona Rainwater harvesting manuals through each state's extension service. They gave me a good starting point for the general layouts and dimensions. Then I went ahead and sketched out my own rendition (see diagram). Once I was confident in my plans, we started the groundwork. After selecting the location, I leveled the ground, compacted it well with a hand tamper, and built a 6x6-foot frame out of scrap pieces of 2x6 lumber. I fitted some 45 degree angles in the corners to save on concrete and give it a better look as well. To get the proper thickness out of our undersized 2x6s, we had to dig the ground inside the framed area to ensure that we were adding an additional 2½- to 3-inch slab thickness overall. It is hard to see in the picture, but almost all of the interior area is at 8-inch thickness from the ground to the top level of the slab frame.
After ensuring the frame was level and anchored, I placed the PVC overflow and hose spigot pipes prior to adding rebar and concrete remesh. The PVC overflow pipe runs through a hole in the frame so that water exits out the side of the slab but still above ground level and the hose spigot makes a "U" shape and will be located on the top of the finished slab for easy access. When adding the rebar/remesh, I made sure that spacing was even near the edges as well as the top and bottom of the slab area. And while most of the rebar grid was to be 3/8 inch, the main grid that would hold the weight of the culvert was to be ¾-inch rebar. This bar needed to be dead level, as that would be a huge factor in the finished cistern being level. Note: In addition to the commercial concrete spacer blocks, I added washed riprap rock to the slab area to help hold up the rebar and to help save on concrete (see picture).
Once the groundwork was done, it was time for the pouring. We used a small concrete mixer and mixed the bags to just slightly "soupy" so as to allow the culvert to sink freely into the mix and onto the rebar grid. Just make sure it isn't too "soupy" as it can result in a weaker final slab if the mix is too moist. Once the slab was poured, leveled, and worked a bit, we set the culvert into the mix. Luckily, my father-in-law has access to a boom truck that we used to lower the culvert into the mix. But if you don't have access to a hoisting device, then two galvanized fence pipes strapped to the sides with four adults on the corners will work just as well. The lowering of the culvert required a bit of jiggling to sink it down to the rebar but after a couple minutes it was set. After making sure that the tank was vertically level on two sides, we added a couple braces to ensure no shifting would occur before the final setup. One aspect to remember when placing the culvert in the mix is to make sure that you have at least 4-5 inches of space between the edge of the culvert and the edge of the slab to ensure adequate strength in the thinner areas of the slab.
After edging and working the concrete for the next couple hours (times will vary based on temps, humidity, and concrete mix) we covered the exposed areas with plastic and let it sit for 24 hours to cure. This is crucial to keep cracking down to a minimum as a slow cure is usually better than a fast one. Once your concrete has cured, you can remove the plastic and the forms, doing any touch-up work as needed. The next step will be to let the slab totally dry (we waited two weeks) before applying Ames' Blue Max liquid rubber sealant. We applied two coats to the bottom of the tank and along the interior seams. This product was expensive but is 100% waterproof, non-toxic, and we only required about ¼ of the gallon to finish the tank.
Once this is done, you should attach a valve to your spigot stub and add a section of pipe to your interior overflow pipe. Remember, this overflow pipe should be a couple inches below the highest level of your tank (see diagram). After these are done it will be time to add a tank lid or covering. We opted to have a local HVAC guy fabricate one for us for about $100, but I've seen people use scrap lumber, tarps, etc., to make their own tank lids.
All in all, the project costs were $275 for the culvert, $88 for the concrete and rebar, $15 for the PVC, and $54 for the Ames' Blue Max. In total, you could do this project with all new materials for $432 (add a $100 for the fancy galvanized lid). But, if you are resourceful like most BHM readers are, you can possibly get a culvert section for much less off Craigslist or from a local contractor, further lowering your costs. This project turned out great for us and I hope it gives you at least an idea of another option when it comes to storing water for your homestead.

Thermoelectric Fan Powered by a Candle

Hypnotic Wind-powered Kinetic Sculptures by Anthony Howe

Hypnotic Wind powered Kinetic Sculptures by Anthony Howe sculpture kinetic In Cloud Light. Stainless steel. 224″h x 104″w x 52″d. Linked stainless disks rotating around a circular axis. Spins in ultralight winds but overbuilt to withstand strong.

Hypnotic Wind powered Kinetic Sculptures by Anthony Howe sculpture kinetic
Octo. Stainless steel. 204″h x 48″w x 20″d. Linked stainless shapes rotating around a circular axis. Spins in ultralight winds but overbuilt to withstand strong.

Hypnotic Wind powered Kinetic Sculptures by Anthony Howe sculpture kinetic
In-Out Quotient. Stainless steel, 64 sealed stainless bearings. 16’6″h x 6’4″w x 3′d. Sixty linked arms on circular axis, spins in ultralight winds.

Hypnotic Wind powered Kinetic Sculptures by Anthony Howe sculpture kinetic
About Face. Copper and stainless steel. 88″h x 62″w x 60″d. 100 individually balanced and weighted copper panels moving in the wind, some free swinging and others articulated by spinning stainless cups.

Kinetic sculptor Anthony Howe lives and works in a rural area in Eastsound, Washington surrounded by little more than trees, wind, and other natural elements that inspire his incredible kinetic sculptures. Howe works primarily with stainless steel which he welds to create carefully engineered objects powered by the slightest breeze. Watching the motion of each piece in the videos above is totally mesmerizing and it hardly seems possible that such an object could be constructed. Many of his original works are available for sale on his website, and you can see many more videos on his YouTube channel. (thnx, justin!)

Kinetic Garden Wind Spinners |

How a small town in Italy struck green gold

Two decades ago, Varese Ligure, Italy was fading away due to a lack of jobs, industry and essential services, Guevara-Stone writes. Today, it's a charming town with bustling markets and thriving tourism. How wind turbines and solar panels helped it get there.

The flag of Italy waves in Trieste, Italy. A forward-thinking mayor of a small town in northwest Italy leveraged clean energy technologies to revive a sputtering local economy.

A trip to Varese Ligure, Italy, will bring you face to face with a charming town of pastel-colored houses and a plethora of restaurants serving dishes with organic porcini mushrooms and chestnuts. Stop at the bustling markets and you will see Italians who have traveled from far and wide to purchase the locally produced organic meats, cheeses, and honey. It’s a far cry from just 20 years ago, when this town in the Liguria region of northwest Italy was fading away due to a lack of jobs, no industry, decaying properties, and a lack of essential services.

At the end of the 1980s, Varese Ligure, a small town (pop: 2,400) located in the Vara valley in the province of La Spezia, had gone from a population of 6,000 to 2,250. However, the mayor at the time, Maurizio Caranza, refused to give up hope for his dying town. He decided to take what others thought of as Varese Ligure’s weaknesses—geographical isolation, lack of modern industry, antiquated farming practices—and turn them into strengths. He realized the valley’s clean air and unspoiled land were assets and opportunities. What better way to capitalize on those attributes than by becoming a sustainable tourist destination through renewable energy and organic farming? “We realized the only thing to do to prevent the village from dying was to protect the environment and rehabilitate the agriculture sector," Caranza told Italian news agency Adnkronos International
The forward-thinking mayor hit on a gold mine. This was in the early 1990s, before climate change and mad cow disease became household words. Little did he know that in the following decades the organic and environmental movements would mushroom (pun intended).
Now, 20 years later, four wind turbines produce 8 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, generating three times more electricity than the town uses. The town hall and secondary school are covered with solar photovoltaic panels, producing on site 98 percent and 62 percent of their electricity needs, respectively. The wastewater treatment plant has a 4 kW PV system and the town swimming pool is heated with solar panels. There is also a small 8 kW hydroelectric system.
The electricity from the renewable energy systems is fed into the local grid managed by ACAM, the electric utility company in La Spezia. While ACAM manages and maintains the wind turbines, the ACAM utility and the municipality jointly own them. ACAM pays Varese Ligure about $30,000 each year for the excess electricity and also provides the town with various services as part of its payment for the electricity, such as sorted waste and landfill site management.
To rebuild the town, Caranza asked the residents if they would be willing to repair and renovate their ancient stone houses—an image of which sits juxtaposed against a modern wind turbine on the municipality’s website—if the public administration got funding to redo the roads, sewers, aqueducts, and street lighting. Though some people were resistant at first, Caranza finally won them over, and home renovations began. While some of the funding for renovations came from the European Union, the majority of it came from the citizens themselves. A psychological factor was at work, Caranza told travel journalist Giovanna Dunmall. “If you go to someone’s house and it’s much nicer and cleaner than yours, then when you go back to your home you realize that you want to improve it, too.”
There was also a lot of education about organic farming practices, and a push for farmers to stop using chemical fertilizers. Most farmers actually couldn’t afford chemical fertilizers, so were farming organically out of necessity already, but weren’t officially certified. To get these conservative farmers to become organic certified, Caranza explained that organic products could be sold at higher prices and helped farmers get EU grants for organic farms. Now 108 organic farms supply 98 percent of town’s produce, meat, and dairy products. The Vara valley, now known as the “Organic Valley,” became Europe’s first valley to be certified ISO 14001, the international benchmark for environmental management.
One important program they started in the town in 1996 was the Environmental Education Center (CEA), which educates children of the region about organic agriculture, renewable energy, and sustainability. The CEA takes schoolchildren on tours of organic farms, dairy cooperatives, and bee keeping operations; it offers educational courses on small wind turbines, solar panels, and solar cookers; and it educates youth about energy consumption and climate change.
Varese Ligure is currently rated one of the best small towns in Italy by the Touring Club Italiano, even receiving the organization’s orange flag, awarded to small towns for excellency in tourism, hospitality, and the environment. There has been a 500-percent increase in tourists since the late 1990s, an additional $514,000 in annual tax revenues, 140 new jobs, and a stable population.
Caranza is proud of what has become of his town. “Tourism is an important sector for six months a year, local farmers produce an abundance of organic fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy products, and the village now recycles 25 percent of its refuse,” he reported to Adnkronos International. “Because the political will existed, we succeeded in arresting Varese Ligure's decline.” And more than arresting decline, with a mixture of clean energy and sustainable agriculture, they have truly transformed the community.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best energy bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

Survivorman - Off The Grid - Full Documentary

Government criminalizes rainwater collection from your own property - outrageous assault on freedom

Rainwater Harvesting

How Rain Harvesting Works

3 Easy DIY Greenhouses for Under $300

It’s seed-starting season and spring is just around the corner. If you’re looking to start seeds indoors and realize that you don’t have enough windows space to sprout seeds indoors, or don’t want to raise your electrical bill by installing grow lights, building a greenhouse from recycled and salvaged items might be the solution you need.

1. The Window Frame Greenhouse

Probably the most popular examples of DIY greenhouses you’ll find on the Internet. This greenhouse by Angela Davis of My Rubber Boots uses old wooden windows that you can pick up at the local dump, architectural salvage store, yard sale, or even in your alley.
The best time to salvage windows for this garden project is during construction and remodeling season where you live. Take Angela's awesome photo tour of her window greenhouse and garden.
Here's another window frame greenhouse, this one by Michael Taeuber, who created an Instructable to demonstrate how to build a greenhouse from old windows for his plants.

2. The Lean-to Greenhouse

Alex Campbell built this lean-to greenhouse, also using old windows, for his food growing operation.
He graciously documented his project so others could follow along and do the same. One of the benefits of building a lean-to greenhouse is that you can passively heat it during the cold with heat from the structure it is attached to.

3. The Poly Hoop House

Here's a simple greenhouse that you can build in one weekend. This was assembled by Wolfie and the Sneak blogger.
You’ll need a few pieces of lumber, a polyurethane sheet, and some “cattle panels” for support. Charlie Lybrand followed Adam Fyall’s directions for building a poly greenhouse. The temporary and portable nature of this example makes it a great option for gardeners who are renting or want to take advantage of the passive solar heating.
Check out the West Virginia University Extension Planning and Building a Greenhouse page for more ideas and directions.
Want more garden goodness? Follow the MrBrownThumb urban gardening blog, also on G+Facebook, Flickr and Twitter

How to Build a DIY Solar Air Heater from Old Soda Cans

Fair Companies/Video screen capture
Solar space heating is tricky. Air is harder to keep warm than water, and while most of us need a shower on a hot day—we tend to want space heating when the sun is not doing enough for us. Nevertheless, from a Mad Max style partially solar heated home, through a DIY solar heater from old campaign signs (yeah, politics and hot air...) to a soda can solar panel, we've seen plenty of attempts at harnessing the rays of the sun to actively heat the air inside our homes.
Here the folks at Fair Companies present one Seattle man's attempt at heating his home studio with soda cans. (The video was shot on a phone, so please pardon picture quality.)

Fair Companies/Video screen capture
Peter Rowan left his job as a self-described "corporate weenie", and instead took up teaching, writing and converting a shed into a reclaimed writer's studio. Because the studio was off-grid, electric space heating was not an option. So he set up a simple soda can space heater, using fans running off his solar panels to help channel the air.

Fair Companies/Video screen capture
Rowan is transparent about his own gaps in knowledge on the thermodynamics of solar space heating, and shares the ups and downs of his experiment. (Putting a panel that relies on convection on a relatively flat roof was probably not the smartest of ideas.) But once the installation was complete, he does feel like even on a cold, cloudy day he is getting a head start on heating the space compared to the ambient temperature outside.
Full instructions on building a solar space heater here. I'd love to hear from anyone with ideas on how to improve this design.

Tags: Do It Yourself | Heating | Renewable Energy | Solar Energy | Solar Gadgets | Solar Power

Make a Solar Water Heater for Under $5

Instructables user, TheNaib, has written a tutorial on how to create a solar thermal water heater for under five dollars. It will involve a fair amount of DIY, but nothing too complicated. It's designed as a fun project, but with some tweaking it could see real applications, "Its a great way to learn about using the renewable energy of the sun to produce useful effects, in this case hot water. You can use these instructions to build a device that will actually heat enough water to use in the home, but it would require modifications."Not only is it creating hot water using completely renewable energy, but it is also created from recycled scrap parts like the coolant grill from a refrigerator. If you do try this out, be warned that it can really heat up water quickly, and to quite an impressive temperature, "A word of warning, this panel works VERY WELL. We tested it on a very sunny day and within seconds the water coming out of the panel was hot enough TO SCALD. I burned my fingers. This very hot water is only formed when the water inside the panel is allowed to sit for about a minute without moving. If the water is moving (do to the gravity siphon) the water exiting the return pipe is about 110 degrees, and while hot, will not burn you."
If you are thinking of trying this out then read the comments on the tutorial page, because lots of users have suggested ways to improve the design. Get in touch and let us know how you get on. ::Instructables

Would you buy an 84 mpg car for $6,800?

Elio Motors photo

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Lloyd's concern that electric cars may make it harder to fix our cities, we shouldn't forget that the much talked about future of electric vehicle dominance—while much more plausible than it was a few short years ago—is by no means guaranteed.
Cars and car-dependent infrastructure are not going to disappear overnight. And fossil fuel-powered vehicles are still by far the most popular in terms of sales, and are likely to be for some time yet.
In a world of high-priced Teslas and the still substantial price tag of the Nissan LEAFElio Motors is taking a decidedly different approach to cutting our transportation footprint: an ultra-high mileage, low budget personal vehicle, powered by an internal combustion engine.
Boasting 84 mpg on the highway, two seats (in a front, back configuration), an anticipated 5 star crash safety rating, and a price tag of $6,800, the Elio is technically a motorcycle, but it is really designed to get people out of their cars. Here's how Elio answers the "what is it" question on their website:
According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) “Motorcycle” means a motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground. So if it is less than four wheels it is a motorcycle. But what do you see when you look at the Elio? Fully enclosed, power windows, wiper blades, steering wheel, gas and brake pedals… you be the judge.
Given its rather unconventional looks, one might be tempted to question whether the market is ready for the Elio. But the numbers speak for themselves: 12,340 pre-orders and counting. The company is retrofitting an old GM plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, and expects to start shipping vehicles in 2015.
Be warned though, not everyone is buying the Elio concept. Some green car watchers - like Jo Borrás over at CleanTechnica - are decidedly skeptical about the Elio and its market appeal.
It will be interesting to see how this thing plays out.
Tags: Bikes | Fuel Efficiency | Transportation

Elio Motors
Founder(s)Paul Elio
HeadquartersPhoenixArizonaUnited States
Number of locations1 (plant in Shreveport,Louisiana)
Area servedNorth America
ProductsThree-wheel motor vehicles
Owner(s)Paul Elio
A white Elio viewed from the side
Side view of 3rd generation Elio prototype

LEDs in greenhouses deliver same yield as grow lights, using just 25% of the energy

LED grow lights
© Purdue Agricultural Communication

Even with our growing emphasis on and awareness of the benefits to the environment when eating locally and seasonally, there hasn't seemed to have been a major shift in our eating habits, as most of us still want to be able to buy any kind of produce we want, any time of the year that we want, regardless of the conditions necessary to grow those items.
We expect to find things like ripe, flavorful tomatoes and peppers in the grocery store during the middle of winter, and we also expect them to still be affordable. That's a tall order, especially in the northern parts of the world, as maintaining heated, lighted greenhouses all winter long consumes quite a bit of energy and money, which is something that small and local growers in the north can't generally afford to do.
To be able to still meet demand in the winter for out-of-season items such as tomatoes, grocery stores and restaurants depend on produce trucked in from a thousand miles away, with is also responsible for large amounts of energy consumption for transport and refrigeration. Those heavily-traveled tomatoes are often bland in flavor and high in cost, but still end up cheaper to produce than growing them locally.
"The average tomato is trucked 1,500 miles from where it’s picked in the winter and it sits on that truck for a week or more. By the time it gets to a northern market, it has been in the dark for a while and its quality is degraded. Yet you pay a premium for it—up to four dollars a pound in January." - Cary Mitchell, Purdue University horticulture professor
However, LED lights may soon enable greenhouse growers to grow affordable, vine-ripened tomatoes and other produce items much closer to the market, enabling more local food production, especially in the northern latitudes.
The results of a Purdue University study show that by using LED lights instead of the conventional high pressure sodium (HPS) lights for growing tomatoes in greenhouses, growers could get the same yields of fruit from the plants using just 25% of the energy required with current methods.
Because the LEDs produce far less heat than HPS lights, they can be placed very close to the plants to deliver high intensity lights to the surface of the leaves, including the lower branches and leaves in the understory.
"The leaves are photosynthesizing on the lower parts of the plants, and that may be helping with the plant's energy. We're getting the high intensity of the LEDs close to the plants because they're not hot like a high-pressure sodium lamp. If you put one of those close to the plants, you'd scorch it." - Celina Gómez, doctoral student
According to Txchnologist, only 30% of the energy going into an HPS light gets converted to usable light, with the other 70% being lost as heat, whereas LEDs can convert up to 50%, and can be optimized for different wavelengths that favor plant growth.
The study, which is published at HortTechnology, found that each plant grown using traditional HPS lighting used 1224 kilowatt-hours of energy through the season, while those under LEDs consumed just 294 kilowatt-hours.
That's a significant savings in energy, and therefore money, which could be just the advantage needed for local growers to compete with trucked-in produce during the winter seasons.
"The United States still imports one-third of its tomatoes from Mexico and Canada, as well as other countries. This technology could allow U.S. growers to create local jobs that shrink carbon footprints and produce better-tasting tomatoes." - Mitchell

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