Non-Electric Clothes Dryer

This picture to the right is a clothes drying rack that we bought at Harriet Carter several years ago, and use down in the basement most of the year. None of our shirts and only some pants go in the dryer - they all get hung up on this drying rack because that helps them last longer.

But that's not what we're talking about today.

You've all seen pictures of these new-fangled clothes dryers that don't use electricity. They don't even use gas. Amazing inventions, these. Thing is, they aren't new at all. They've been used for thousands of years.


Take a moment to think about it. Yes, you take the chance that a bird might poop on your clothes, but that's a rare chance. Using clothespins and a line in your backyard will help your clothes air dry. The sun will also reduce bacteria in your clothing, and will bleach whites the most beautiful clean white.

Place your clothesline over a raised garden bed, and you'll help your plants too! Your clothes will drip onto the plants below, not wasting that water for anything. When we move to the next house, we plan to have a sunroom, which will also have a clothes line over some of the plants.

Be sure to buy a good strong clothes line and lots of old-fashioned wood clothespins. (The plastic ones are cheap, and a heavy garment combined with a strong wind will tear them apart!). No matter where you live, you can start doing this today!

Is there a Farmer's Market Near You?

We have lots of farmers markets in the Denver area, but most aren't open yet (usually starting in May).

There's also the Mile High Flea Market open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the vendors tend to sell produce that's been shipped in.

Farmers Markets are on our mind because we're really wanting some fresh produce. Our own Summer plants are still just seeds waiting to sprout, or 3 inch tomato seedlings. The carrots, radishes, bunching onions and greens will go in the raised bed this week, but couldn't do it before now with all of the weird weather and last week's blizzard.

We're suggesting you check your area for farmers markets. Support your local farmers while you're waiting to harvest your own produce. Maybe you'll even make friends with some vendors who just might be homesteaders... talk about your goals and maybe you'll be invited to check out their homestead and meet their goats and pigs and chickens!

Now excuse me while I go pretend this mealy pink-inside tomato is a real homegrown slicer!

Tis the Season... for Yard Sales

The weather in turning warmer in the northern hemisphere. This is the time when people are doing Spring cleaning, and want to get rid of clutter around the house. You've heard the expression "one person's trash is another person's treasure"? Time to go for a treasure hunt!

  • Make a list of what you need and want, but keep an open mind!
  • Determine the best way to find yard sales / garage sales / tag sales in your area (, newspaper ads, bulletin boards, etc.)
  • Plan an entire day around garage-sale-ing
  • Plan your route according to the list of garage sales. This is where mapquest or yahoomaps comes in handy.
  • Gas up the car, gather your cash (people don't have a way to accept credit cards and most don't like taking a chance on checks), grab some bags or boxes (in case there aren't any there), and go!
  • Be ready to barter; keep in mind that these people want to get of this stuff, and don't really want to haul it all back inside.
  • Examine every bit of the sale. There might be some great tools tucked in back!

Take a look for these things:

  • canning supplies
  • candles
  • little red wagons/wheel barrows
  • tools
  • scrap wood
  • tires
  • clothing
  • cast iron cookware
  • furniture
  • supplies for sewing, crocheting, knitting, quilting, spinning, etc. (yarn, fabric, needles, etc.)
  • reference and school books
  • camping supplies like sleeping bags, backpacks, etc.
  • lanterns and oil/kerosene lamps
  • glass or other jars that can't be used for canning but can be used to store dried beans or dehydrated foods
  • electronics that can be used for parts
  • hand-crank coffee grinder
  • mortar and pestle

I never get yard sale stuffed toys (too hard to properly clean - could have lice) and shoes (wear patterns could mess up your feet).

What was the last great find you got at a yard sale or garage sale, and how much did you pay for it?

Earth Day Changes You CAN Do!

Happy Earth Day! Do something different today to help the Earth. Here are some suggestions:
  • walk or bike to work
  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • use a reusable bag instead of getting plastic or paper shopping bags
  • mow the lawn with a body-powered push mower instead or an electric or gas mower
  • eat a fresh no-cook meal today (instead of taking out from a fast food place or cooking on your gas stove)
  • gather all of the recycleables (gas bottles, aluminum cans, etc.) in your neighborhood and take them to a recycling place
  • start a petition to have your trash pickup include recycling cans and recycling pickup (ours is every other week)
  • don't watch TV tonight - play a board game or take a walk after dinner
  • A 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization blamed meat production for 18 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, so make a vow and start today with never eating meat again!
  • Inflate your tires to the proper measurement; that will help you save on gas
  • Inquire about getting a "smart meter" for your house - helps you better track where you power usage is.
  • Use energy-saving appliances
  • Plug your electronics into power strips, then turn those off. Remember, even if a item is turned off, it is still pulling electricity in from the wall socket, whereas the strip will stop that pull.

Make today and every day count - for you and the future of your children's health.

A Push Mower for the Lawn

We have a small bit of property - our tri-level house sits on .22 acres on an odd-shaped corner lot. The house and driveway takes up quite a bit of space, with weird strips in land here and there. Even before we closed on this house, we knew we wanted a push mower for lawn-work. Less carbon foot print (actually, zero), and good for body work. We got the cheapest one we could find, an 18" Scotts push reel mower.

Hubby did it the first couple of times, showing the Tween how to do it. We really didn't have much grass, and what we did was pretty dead. Lots of thatch, mixed in with a sparse bit of green ... house was in foreclosure for 18 months so no one took care of it. One day when Hubby was out mowing the front strip, our across-the-street neighbor sauntered on over.

"Hiya. Don't have much grass, do ya?"

"No, not really."

"You don't have much money, do ya?"

Taken aback, Hubby answered, "What?"

"Well, you got this cheapo mower thing. You need to borrow my lawn mower? It works great. I just ask that you replace any gas you use."

"No. thanks. We prefer this."

"Really? It's a lot of work."

And on and on it went. This from a man (the neighbor) who is maybe 5'3" at the most, drives a huge diesel truck although he never hauls anything, makes his wife shovel snow from the sidewalks although he's home all day and she's not, and mows his lawn at 6:00 AM in the summer. Methinks there's a compensation issue going on there.

Oh, and it's the same neighbor that turned us in to the local authorities for that dead grass AND for not moving our car often enough, AND stole our alley-ers who almost took our tires which we wanted gone. AND he has apple and plum trees that he doesn't harvest, so they drop to the ground, inside and outside of his fence, where the ones that collide with the sidewalk, smash and stain and stay there until a neighborhood child experiments and gets a sick tummy.

Ooops, I got sidetracked.

I guess the moral of this story is: don't be intimidated by people who think you're just being cheap because you have a push mower. We didn't. Actually, looking at the front lawn from my desk, it's about time for Tween to do the first mowing of the season.

Hmmm... I bet he can't wait until we get grazing animals! Well, at the new place.

Updated April 5 2009: We're in a blog carnival! Check it out at:

Mother Earth News

I just got Issue No. 233 of Mother Earth News, and was blown away by one article: "Life On the Homestead" by Jenna Woginrich. It is the experience of the author, and how she changed her life. She started out learning how products get to consumers - what they go through. It made her consider being a vegetarian, to become healthier but also because she educated herself on what animals go through to become dinner on her plate. She became appreciative of small farms, and wanted to do more to not only feed herself, but to change how she clothed herself, lit her home, and the electronics she used. She finally is living her dream: grinding coffee by hand, using a hand-cranked radio, at peace in her simple and beautiful surroundings with her animal companions.

So much of homesteading is food. Basically, you don't grow your food, you either buy processed, chemically-enhanced foods, or you starve.

But once you meet that on-going need, you concern yourself with the other comforts of life, while earning enough money to pay property taxes, and purchase things you can't make at home.

I'd love to hear other stories while I work on catching on the posts of this blog. How do YOU homestead?