Sustainability, Homesteading And DIY

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Posts on sustainability, homesteading and do it yourself projects are here.


There’s something about me you may not know that might change how you perceive me. I'm not a flusher. I poop in a bucket, and when I’m done I cover it with sawdust. When the bucket gets full I dump it on a compost pile along with other organic inputs (kitchen, yard, etc.), then cover [...]

I just got back to the Jack Mountain Field School from a great day hike in Baxter State Park in Maine.  We arrived around 10 am (a few hours later than we'd planned, gotta have coffee right?) to find the parking lots servicing the three trails that wind up to the peak of Katahdin full [...]

2015 marks my 20th year composting humanure, also known as human poop. In that time I've managed numerous compost piles, scrubbed countless buckets, read The Humanure Handbook about five times, built a variety of structures to serve as outhouses, had numerous outhouses built by others, and created a lot of soil. What started me down [...]

If you're coming to the field school this year and want to upgrade your accomodations to include your own private bathroom, consider bringing your own toilet seat and 5 gallon bucket (or 2 buckets).  These Luggable Loo toilet seats clip onto a bucket.  You can also improvise your own seat or build a toilet box [...]

I had a friend at the field school this past summer and he and I spent some time discussing water and water systems. We collect rainwater at the field school for drinking and washing, and when it runs low we get water from a stream or the river. At the time he was in the [...]

We've been using the humanure composting system since 1996. At the field school, we've simplified it down from a sawdust toilet. Now it's a forest duff toilet. The goal was to use only materials we could gather on site. Now we cover fresh deposits with duff; the mixture of leaves and dirt that makes up [...]

I read about the Windbelt several years ago and am excited it will be coming to market soon.  It will be a great complement to our off-grid solar system.  Unlike conventional wind generating technology, the windbelt generates electricity without a turbine using aeroelastic flutter; the same process that causes a blade of grass to vibrate [...]

I field a lot of questions about our off-grid solar power system at the field school, so here's my super-simple primer on going solar. An off-grid solar system where you store energy to use with regular appliances (light, radio, laptop, etc.) at night or when the sun doesn't shine is comprised of four parts. 1. [...]

I'm excited about the new flexible, adhesive PV solar panels, designed to stick to metal roofs, that are finally available. Long-time readers know that we've got a small, off-grid solar system at our field school in Masardis, Maine. It consists of one 80-watt panel, a charge controller and several 6-volt golf cart batteries. The panel [...]

This is a selection from my upcoming book "Bush Cookery: Outdoor Cooking Secrets From A Professional Guide". You should never leave food, even small bits of it, around your camp.  To do so is to bring animals into camp, and ultimately habituate them to human food.  There's an old saying that a fed bear is [...]

There has been a lot of interest in simplifying and preparedness recently as a result of the economic circumstances many are facing.  Knowing how to take care of your family, even if the modern conveniences stop working for a while, is something at least one person in each household should know.  The good news is [...]

In addition to being the base for our programs, our Bushcraft And Sustainability Field School is also where we experiment with different technologies in order to achieve a simple, comfortable, rural life.  It's a demonstration site, but not in the sense that we create alternative ways of doing things and then revert back to the [...]

One of the challenges of an extended stay in the bush during the warm (no snow or ice) seasons is planning meals that don't require refrigeration. Of course, there is always the option of storing food in a cooler with store-bought ice, but this is a hassle as well as being expensive. There is also [...]

Times are tough, and they're getting tougher. Gas prices keep going up, as do the costs for basic necessities. Many people are being squeezed. But what can they do? First, they can learn how to take care of themselves and their families. A good survival course can go a long way toward this goal of [...]

I'm inconvenienced by modern conveniences much of the time. They break, they suck up money, and when their full cost and upkeep is taken into account, they don't seem make my life much more convenient. I like pumping and carrying water more than I like dealing with tempermental plumbing systems. I like composting toilets more [...]

I'm a vocal critic of the lack of sustainability in outdoor education and recreation. I've said numerous times that minimum impact is really displaced impact, in that the impact is considerable but is not felt in the area where people recreate. Northland College has addressed the problem. They've put together a web page about their [...]

I've been elected to the board of directors of GALA, which stands for Global Awareness, Local Action. It's a local organization focusing on sustainability and local issues. We've worked together for the past year by offering sustainability workshops on such topics as composting, raised bed gardens, winemaking, local edible and medicinal plants, and more. The [...]

In planning the spring Earth Skills Semester Program, as well as how we'll accomplish certain tasks at our new base camp in Masardis, the issue of a way to generate electricity to charge camera and video camera batteries and run a laptop has been in the back of my mind for a while. Since we [...]

Even thought the days are still short and the snow is piled deep over the garden, it won't be long before it's time to start seedlings in preparation for the growing season. I'm putting in several fruit trees this year, as well as expanding the number of edible perennials we grow. GALA is putting together [...]

As part of our ongoing series of sustainability workshops, we've scheduled a winemaking workshop for Sunday, November 11. My old friend Shayne White will be here walking us through the process of making your own wine at home with simple ingredients, as well as talking about the equipment you need to get started. There's also [...]

We're putting together a series of community-oriented workshops on sustainable living, self-reliance and sense of place to begin this summer and run year-round. Although all the details haven't been worked out, it will be based around low-cost, low-tech things people can do such as composting, gardening, food storage and emergency preparedness, as well as developing [...]

Yesterday, as they were packing up their things and preparing to move on, one of the students mentioned something that stuck with me overnight. He was talking about the simplicity of our humanure composting system, and exclaimed, "I can't believe that we didn't flush anything for the past ten weeks. This system is so simple [...]

 


 

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Typos, Etc.
Note: Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device that demonstrates his writing prowess.

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