Simple things you can do to help the planet this Earth Day (or everyday!)

So here at the farm we try and do the best we can to treat the Earth with the respect it deserves. We are so grateful for the amazing planet we live on that allows our homestead to function! With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd I thought I would share some ideas with you of simple things you could do to help the plant this Earth Day.

Actually use your reusable bags

Ok I know, this one is kind of a given. But, we’ve all got those reusable bags that are sitting in the back of our car or are stuffed in the back of a closet. I don’t remember to bring my reusable bags until I get to the checkout and see them bagging my groceries in plastic. Oops. I’m working on it. But this Earth Day try and start the habit of bringing your reusable bags with you to the store. I buy the bags like this one that I can fold up into a small bag and then leave in my purse. That way I always have one with me.

Buy in bulk

Not only is it normally cheaper to buy things in bulk, but when you buy things in bulk they tend to have a lot less packaging which means, less plastic. I use these bags when I buy things like bulk nuts, seeds, oatmeal etc so that I’m reducing the amount of plastic I’m using.

Recycle. Obviously.

Really though. Look into what you can and can’t recycle in your area, and try to recycle as much as you can.

Reuse things instead of throwing them away.

 

So on our homestead we’re pretty frugal. I try and reuse things as much as I can. Before you throw something away try and think of a way you could repurpose it or maybe donate it to someone else who could use it.

 

Compost

 

Composting is awesome! It’s good for your garden and it reduces your food and garden waste! Check out this article for tips and trick on how to make composting easy.

Buy a water bottle you can reuse!

 

Buy a good water bottle that you can fill with tap water and use over and over again. I use this one because it keeps your water cold for so long which is amazing for a long day working on the homestead!

 

Fix those leaky sinks!

 

It’s crazy how much water is wasted when you have a leaky sink, toilet, or shower. The EPA  estimates that the average family can waste 180 gallons of water each week due to leaks. So fix those leaks!

 

Try out xeriscaping

 

Xeriscaping is landscaping your yard in way that reduces or eliminates the need to water. This not only saves money, but it also conserves water, especially if you live in a dry area. Xeriscaping includes choosing grass and plants that are native to your area, using a drip system, and using water-efficient plants. Xeriscaping can also reduce the amount of work required to maintain your lawn and flowerbeds. Bonus! Check out this article for more information about xeriscaping.

 

Ride your bike or walk

 

Using your car less is an easy way to help the environment. And it’s fun too! Ride your bike to the park with your kids instead of driving. It’s also a great way to motivate your kids to get outdoors and play!

 

Eat locally grown produce or grow your own garden!

 

It takes a lot of energy and natural resources to ship corn to the United States in the middle of January. So head out to your farmers market and pick up some fresh, local produce! It tastes amazing and you’re supporting local farmers. Growing your own garden is also an awesome way you can help the environment.

Thanks for reading our simple tips to help the planet this Earth Day! I would love to hear your tips on how you help the planet in the comments below!

This Week in Farm Photos

How to Make Laundry Detergent at Home

How to Make Laundry Detergent at Home

For years, we simply purchased laundry detergent from the dollar store, not ever thinking about making our own. When we moved to our homestead, and as the desire to produce more than we consumed became greater, I researched how to make laundry detergent at home, and found that we could save more by producing our own. It takes a little more leg work, but it’s super-easy, and I get a lot of satisfaction creating my own.

I like knowing that we aren’t using the chemicals in mass-produced laundry detergents! And the bonus is that I can choose my own scent!

If you’ve ever been interested in making your own laundry detergent at home, and it’s an important skill to have as a homesteader, then this post is for you. I decided to make powdered detergent over liquid detergent because liquid detergent takes longer to make.

Here’s how to make laundry detergent at home. Any of these ingredients can be found at your local big box store, so no excuses why you can’t produce your own, even if you’re an urban homesteader.

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Shredded Fels Naptha soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar laundry soap (I used Fels Naptha, you can also use Ivory or Zote or your own)

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soap (like Arm & Hammer)

Essential oils (if desired)

Shave your laundry soap until it’s shredded. (You can use a cheese grater. I purchased one especially for this project.) Mix with the borax and washing soap, and store in a clean, air tight container.

That’s it! It’s really that easy to make laundry detergent at home. As a homesteader, you can go all out and produce your own laundry soap too. I plan to do this the next time we burn a bunch of wood. I have the fat sitting in the freezer! (Stay tuned for the tutorial.)

You can use your own laundry detergent at home in both regular and HE washing machines.

So, how to make laundry detergent smell good? Well, the good news is the ingredients, as they stand, smell like clean linens. But if you want to add your own scent, simply add essential oils. I personally like the scent it already has, so I leave it alone.

What scent will you use?

Links to: Simple-Lives

How to Arm Knit a Blanket

Here’s a pretty cool video about how to knit a blanket using your arms. It’s not my video, but since knowing how to make blankets, etc is part of homesteading, I thought I’d share it. Thanks to Simply Maggie for making such a neat video! Enjoy!

 

2015 Homestead Goals

CYMERA_20150127_200859We’ve had a few improvement ideas kicking around since we bought this homestead back in April. We’ve done all the work so far ourselves, trying to do it with as many free resources as possible. For 2015, I want to accomplish:

Finishing the horse barn and creating a wash bay
Erecting a pergola between the horse barn and the storage shed
Finishing the riding arena and edging it with bushes (incorporating fruit bushes as edible landscape)
Installing an orchard
Adding goats and sheep
Installing wheat grass in our pastures

I’m hoping that incorporating goats into our pastures will help with weed control. Two of our horses are small enough to be companions for the goats. We also would like a 4 acre plot cleared, and goats can help with that too.

Despite my husband’s eye rolling, building a methane digester is a big goal. I have to clean manure anyway, and I’m going to compost it anyway, so why not go the extra step and capture the methane? I’m not a 100% sure we will use it for more than cooking, since I plan to heat the barn with water. I’ve been reading about using ethanol for powering generators for off grid living, and that seems an easier route to go for electricity, and an adjustment to a generator we can easily do at home.

We’ve started gathering supplies for the aquaponic system. I’ll start off with goldfish, but eventually I want to have blue gill, tilapia, and catfish, along with fresh water prawns. I’m not a fan of catfish but my husband is. I’d prefer to only do tilapia and prawns, but we, at least at this point, can’t breed the tilapia because we do have winter here, so I will just buy fingerlings every year until we can consistently keep the water warm enough.

For the garden, I plan to erect 4-5 more raised beds and start on a separate garden for the chickens and pigs. Here’s what I plan to grow:

Early spring:
Radishes
Cabbage (lots because the pigs love it)
Greens like mustard, kale, romaine lettuce, some salad greens
Kohlrabi (this is new for me so I won’t do to much)
Bok choi
Peas

Summer:

Lots of potatoes
Bulb onions (we have green onions from the last owner so no need for those!)
Beans
Tomatoes
Parsnips
Carrots
Golden Bantam Corn (lots of corn for the animals)
Eggplants

Most of these are heirloom varieties. I’ve shopped the non-gmo catalogues, such as Baker Creek, Seed Savers, etc. I haven’t ordered my tomato seed yet because I spent a while deciding on varieties. I’ve decided to focus on heirloom varieties specific to my region, and Baker Creek has quite a few. Last year’s tomatoes got a mosaic virus, so I’ll be planting in a different area. I bought the plants from a feed store, so I’ll be avoiding that too.

What are your 2015 goals?

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