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Sources for Generating Electricity

Solar

So, you've thought about whether or not living off the grid is right for you; you know that it means no more utility bills and generating all of your own power, but what's involved in that? It isn't as easy as slapping a few solar panels on the roof and calling it good; when it comes to generating off grid power, there are a handful of methods that can combine to generate all the energy you'll need to live comfortably off the grid.

Plug in to off grid power with solar electricity.  Solar power is probably the one that jumps to mind for most of us when it comes to off-grid energy. The sun-powered option, which includes photovoltaic solar panels, an inverter and batteries, can provide lots of electric power (especially if you get a lot of solar exposure where you live) for a long time, without any moving parts and a little maintenance.

The downside, at least for now, is the cost: it is rarely cost-effective to power an entire home entirely with solar, even allowing for several decades for a positive return on the investment. Add to that the wide variance of solar exposure by location (see the map for an example) and the fact that solar only works when the sun is shining, and it's easy to see why solar remains a part of the answer, and not the whole thing.

 

Solar

 

 

Wind Electricty 

If you get good news after you contact your local weather service to check on the average wind speed in your area, generating electricity from residential-sized wind turbines is another option for off-grid energy. Knowing the average wind speed ranges, you can estimate how much electricty a given system will produce. Keep in mind, wind speeds on a specific lot can vary significantly from regional averages depending on local topography.

When it comes to picking a turbine, size truly does matter. A 400-watt wind turbine, big enough to account for a few appliances, uses about a four-foot-diameter rotor; a 900 watt-turbine uses a seven-foot turbine and is mounted on a tower often more than 100 feet tall. Obviously, living in town or on a small plot, the big one isnt going to work as well, but many people have the necessary real estate for an extra seven- foot turbine.

As with solar, there are pluses and minuses to going with wind energy off the grid; the biggest, most obvious one is the need for breeze: if the wind doesn't blow, the turbine stays still and the electricity isn't generated. Wind turbines also have moving parts, which means more things that require maintenance and have the possibility of failure.

 

Wind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Goat Farming

If you've always thought about raising goats for milk or for cheese without added hormones or antibiotics, you may be suprised that there can be a lot to learn when starting your own goat farm. 

 

Read More at: 21 Things to Know About Goat Farming

 

There are many benefits of raising goats, the goat is the most versatile livestock a homesteader can own. Not only can you raise them for milk, cheese, yogurt or meat; But they are also great for brush control. However depending on your purpose for raising goats you will need to know what type og goats to purchase. 

 

Read More at: The Benefits of Goat Farming

 

When raising goats for milk and dairy products you may also know that there are many nutritional benefits to drinking raw milk. However, pasteurized milk is considered safer and generally tends to stay fresh longer. I have found a few tips on home milk pasteurization.

 

Read More at: Home Pasteurization

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Gardening and Preserving Tips

 

Herb Garden Tips

If you are anything like me you know there is nothing better than topping off your pizza with some fresh basil, or snipping off a few fresh chives for your morning omelet. But if you are battling a black thumb it can be discouraging to try to grow your own herb garden. But growing your own herbs isn't a mystery... it's a science.

 Read More at: Starting your Herb Garden

 

 Guide To Pressure Canning 

Home Canning has almost become a lost art. But with backyard gardens on the rise and growing movement towards eating organic and locally grown foods, more people are seeking to rediscover ways of preserving the harvest year round. Whether your completely new to the world of canning or you just need a little push out of your comfort zone. I have found a few tips on how to put up a variety of foods for your family! 

 Read More at: Pressure Canning at Home

 

Summer Food Storage

A great way to keep food chilled throughout the year is to use a root cellar. There are many types of DIY root cellars for the homestead you can build. The DIY root cellars listed below give a few examples of the different options that are pretty easy to to build.

 

Read More at: Backyard Root Cellar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Root Cellar

 

Root Cellar Plans

These unique root cellar plans show you how to build a root cellar for food storage by adapting a new concrete septic tank.
 
By Steve Maxwell
April/May 2014
 
 

Make this root cellar by burying a new concrete septic tank into a hillside.
Illustration by Len Churchill
Slideshow

 

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The cool, moist and dark conditions of a root cellar make it the perfect place to keep many fruits and vegetables crisp and delicious for weeks — even months — of storage. And while there are myriad ways to store vegetables, our innovative root cellar plans show you how to build a root cellar by modifying a new, precast concrete septic tank. By following the plans, you'll cut an entrance, install a door, add a pair of vent pipes and cover the tank with soil to bring an old-fashioned, walk-in cellar into your modern life.

Choose a Concrete Septic Tank

You'll want to buy an unused septic tank for this root cellar design, but look for a deal to avoid paying full price. A percentage of all precast concrete septic tanks end up with small manufacturing defects that prohibit them from being used for sewage treatment. Suppliers sometimes offer discounts on these flawed tanks. As long as the tank is solid and sound, a chipped edge or a patchable hole won't prevent it from being a root cellar. You won’t need the plastic fittings or effluent filter found inside most septic tanks, so ask the supplier to remove these before delivery.

Tank size is another detail you'll need to consider when planning how to build a root cellar from a septic tank. The capacity of septic tanks is measured in gallons, with different models being taller or shorter. While you might be tempted to buy a 1,000- or 1,200-gallon tank because they’re common, you’ll get more food storage space and headroom with a tank that's 1,500 gallons or larger. Standard 1,500-gallon tanks typically measure about 5 1/2 feet wide by 5 1/2 feet tall by 10 feet long, while a 2,500-gallon tank provides more than 6 feet of interior headroom. Don’t choose a low-profile tank because it will be much too short to work in. Prices for new, undamaged 1,500-gallon tanks start at about $1,100, and 2,500-gallon models can be found for as low as $1,600. Discounts for damaged tanks may be as much as 50 percent.

Most septic tanks have an internal partition that must be opened or removed to build from these root cellar plans. Try to find a tank without a partition, or ask your supplier to remove it before delivery. You can also punch through the partition yourself as part of the doorway-cutting process.

Best Sites for Root Cellars

The perfect location for a root cellar is nestled into an existing soil bank in a well-drained location 10 to 20 yards from your house. Ideally, the door should face north to keep out the sun’s heat. You’d be fortunate indeed to have all of these conditions, and most people have to modify their sites. Expect to pay from $50 to $100 per hour for a backhoe and operator to excavate your site for three or four hours.

 

Feed Your Family & Your Wallet

Owning land is having possession of a tangible asset that has a host of benefits, one being the ability to farm.

It may sounds like a lot of unnecessary work to many, but there's a growing movement of people growing their own food. This food-to-table trend is also allowing some to feed their families and sell the excess to others for extra cash.

Farmers markets allow small-yield cultivators the ability to help others, and themselves, by selling everything from fruits and vegetables to herbs, plants and flowers. Consider container gardening if your land isn't well suited to farming.

Even in varying climates, here are some of the most popular choices and easiest to grow.

Vegetables

Green (Bush) Beans - Sow seeds every few weeks to enjoy a continual harvest through the summer.

Beets - You can plant your beets as soon as your soil can be worked in the spring.

Carrots - Plant carrots as soon as the soil can be worked. They thrive in fertile sandy loam.

Cucumbers - Give your cucumber plants generous amounts of organic matter and good fertilization and they will respond with lots of crunchy cucumbers; harvest them regularly to increase production.

Lettuce - Lettuce thrives in cooler weather so plant it in the spring and fall, sowing every few weeks for a continuous harvest.

Snap Peas - Plant your peas so that they can mature as early as your planting schedule allows and sow more seeds when cooler fall days return.

Radishes - Spring radish varieties are often ready in just three weeks and are more mild in flavor—hotter summer soil produces spicier radishes.

Herbs

Basil - Plant basil in rich, moist soil where it can enjoy full sun. Sow your basil every few weeks for continual harvest.

Dill - Plant your dill seeds in warmer temperatures: it thrives in soil around 75 to 80°F.

Cilantro - Plant cilantro early in the season and sow seeds regularly for a continued harvest.

Parsley - Plant parsley in fertile soil with good amounts of organic matter and moisture.

Thyme - Grow thyme in an area that will receive full sunlight.

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