Posts tagged eric smith
We Bought Land! [An Exciting Update On Our Journey To Building An Off-Grid Homestead From Scratch, Slowly & With Cash]
 
off grid living, building off grid homestead, off grid homesteading blogs, how to build off grid cabin on a budget, our homestead journey, how to start a homestead with no money, living off the land, back to the land movement, modern homesteading in washington state, self sufficient living, how to start a homestead from scratch, wilderness living, sustainable living, build your own house, washingtons last frontier, tiffany davidson, eric smith

Time moves slowly, and yet so fast.

It seems like we’ve been redesigning careers, working, saving money, and browsing properties for sale for an eternity, yet at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday that we even seriously set goals and began this journey to building an off-grid homestead from scratch.

If you follow this blog, you’ve watched as we setup completely new career paths, finally made the big move to this wilderness we love so dearly, and you know we’ve just been plugging away - working a lot and saving as much money as possible.

Now, a big step has been made in this overall process - WE BOUGHT LAND!

This is a big accomplishment and we’re so happy to finally meet and begin to get acquainted with the land we’ll build out our dream homestead on over the course of many years. Now we have a canvas for all of our imaginings to play out on and it’s such an exciting new dynamic!

I wanted to make a post here to document this pivotal moment and introduce you to our land.
In time, many more pictures will be shared, videos too I’m sure, so be sure to follow us on Instagram if you’re interested in a more intimate look into the process.

In early Spring, we’ll begin building a small cabin to live in, so this winter will be spent brainstorming, designing, and gathering materials. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do and we’ll share what we glean with you as we go.


Welcome to our beautiful piece of the earth…

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Where is it?

Situated about one hour northeast of where we currently live is an area we fell in love with earlier this year - the Okanogan Highlands.
This area is desolate and beautiful, so very peaceful and inspiring. Once you emerge into the Highlands, it feels like you’re in a dream and like you’ve gone back in time simultaneously. Some combination of golden light on rolling highlands, the vast spaciousness, old abandoned pioneer cabins tucked in the landscape like a memory, the crisp cool air, the snow-capped Cascades far in the distance… all combine to create a place that we both feel is altogether unique and distinct from anywhere else we’ve ever been.

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How much land?

We purchased 20 acres, mostly wooded, with open area at the bottom.
Aspen trees line their way down the property spilling out into a grove at the bottom, pointing to the strong possibility of water being not too far below the surface, while the majority of the property is coated in Larches, Pines, Douglas Firs, and even a few Maple varieties.
We have already found fresh scat of black bear, elk, moose, coyotes, and a single cougar (who might even live on the property in a cave we’ve yet to explore, we’ll know more once we get a trail cam set up in January).
We’re also really looking forward to exploring the geology around the property…

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What will you do for water?

This will certainly involve a lot of trial and error.
We have a few different ideas in mind:
First - we are going to try to catch rainwater, despite the minute amounts of rainfall this area gets. We’ll see how it goes.
Second - we will likely try to dig a well if water is determined to be close enough to the surface. As mentioned above, the Aspen trees seem to be a good indicator that we do have water close to the surface.
Third - over time we will purchase cisterns, which we’ll bury, fill with water, and gravity-feed to the home and other areas as needed.
I plan to utilize permaculture strategies for growing food that create the need for less water, such as hügelkultur and other solutions.

 

What about electricity?

We plan to be off-grid, and will likely start off with just the essentials - a wood stove, oil lamps, and lots of beeswax candles.
Over time, as we save more money, we’ll begin to incorporate more substantial off-grid power systems such as wind and solar. Fortunately, our climate gets over 300 days a year of sunshine!

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How will you work online?

One of the reasons we ended up deciding on this property is because it’s in view of a rare satellite. The way Internet works out here is usually: if you have visible line of sight to a satellite (which are usually placed on high peaks), you can probably get Internet. Otherwise, it’s doubtful.
We shouldn’t run into an issue accessing Internet once we’ve built the necessary infrastructure for a company to come out. Of course, we’ll be without power for a while as we save to afford off-grid power setups. So, there will certainly be a transition period where I may have to find other Internet solutions for a while. (Another reason I’m working hard now to establish passive income!).

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When will you be living on the property?

Our plan is to begin building in early Spring (2019). We plan to build a small cabin - just 14x14 to begin with - which will eventually become an Airbnb one day after we finish our larger cabin.
We’re deriving inspiration from older Nordic home designs, but with modern touches (wooden cabin, painted black, big windows, large platform deck, etc.). Over time, we plan to build a sauna, several studios and work spaces, more small cabins for family to stay in… so we should end up with a proper Scandinavian village in the forest sort of feeling :)
(And you’ll be able to come stay and enjoy it yourself if you wish, thanks to the Airbnb platform).


off grid living, building off grid homestead, off grid homesteading blogs, how to build off grid cabin on a budget, our homestead journey, how to start a homestead with no money, living off the land, back to the land movement, modern homesteading in washington state, self sufficient living, how to start a homestead from scratch, wilderness living, sustainable living, build your own house, washingtons last frontier, tiffany davidson, eric smith

I hope these pictures and questions answered have been enjoyable to read or inspiring in some way on your own journey.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

And if you’re interested in this sort of thing, we hope you’ll subscribe to the blog and follow the journey as we build an off-grid homestead… from scratch… slowly… with cash!

off grid living, building off grid homestead, off grid homesteading blogs, how to build off grid cabin on a budget, our homestead journey, how to start a homestead with no money, living off the land, back to the land movement, modern homesteading in washington state, self sufficient living, how to start a homestead from scratch, wilderness living, sustainable living, build your own house, washingtons last frontier, tiffany davidson, eric smith

Until next time ~

x
Tiffany


OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

 

Welcome!


TIffany+Davidson+Washingtons+Last+Frontier+Wilderness+Living+Homesteading+Hygge+Blog+Inspiring+Beautiful+Blog+Life+in+Washington+Homesteading+Off+grid.png

My husband and I are working to build a Nordic-inspired homestead in the Washington wilderness slowly with cash and no debt. You can follow the journey here!

I write about:

  • wilderness living

  • our homestead journey

  • health & wellness

  • adventure travel

  • cozy homemaking

  • wild food foraging

  • DIY & craft projects

  • making a living online from home (or anywhere)

  • natural living

  • my own recipes from scratch

  • and much more


My hope is that you will find some nugget of inspiration here.
Thank you so much for stopping in & please come back often. The kettle's always on...

x Tiffany


Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning: at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you click-through and make a purchase. We only feature products that we believe in and use ourselves. Your support means the world to us and allows us to host this website.
So thank you :)


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The Most Productive Way To Grow Vegetables In Any Climate (How To Start A Garden From Scratch)
 

While we're still in the first stages of our off-grid homestead -- tying up loose ends and getting our ducks in a row to move to the wilderness and start searching for property -- I've been reflecting on my years of experience homesteading and imagining how I will go about things in this totally new climate of northeastern Washington State. My previous homesteads were in Kentucky and North Carolina where there's an abundance of water and defined seasons. Now that we're moving out to the Inland Northwest, there are long snow-packed winters, hot dry summers with cool nights, completely different soil landscapes, and wildfires to contend with. It's going to be a whole other ballgame!

That said, I don't think my gardening plan is going to differ all that much from the extremely productive raised bed gardening I did in Kentucky. 

My approach blends several different methods of gardening, namely: hugelkultur, permaculture, raised bed gardening, and square foot gardening. It utilizes a hoophouse setup which can be removed or setup in a minute or two (in the case of unexpected weather changes) and is terrific for extending the growing season. Not only did I grow insane amounts of organic vegetables using this technique, but I experienced ZERO pest problems. It's also important to note that almost all of our vegetable intake came from the garden! I hardly had to purchase anything from the store and if I had planned better, I see no reason why we couldn't ONLY eat veg from the garden and not buy at all as long as the season lasts.

Here are the key components of my customized approach to organic gardening, hopefully you'll be able to glean something from all of this to implement into your own garden design to reap beauty and abundance!

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Step 1: Building Raised Beds

We used cinder blocks for our DIY raised beds. The reasoning for this was that we wanted them to last a long time. I've also used stones and wood to build raised beds in other locations, sourced from the land. While cinder blocks aren't very aesthetically pleasing, they are sturdy. Depending on your location, your goals (do you plan to sell your property in the future?), and the resources available to you, you can choose from a plethora of building materials for your raised beds. If you're a purist like me, be mindful of treated lumber which could leach into the soil and ultimately into your crops. 

Make sure your raised beds are deep since you will be filling them with all sorts of things and you want to be sure plants have plenty of room to root and prosper. Our raised beds ranged from 1.5 feet deep on one end, to 3 feet deep on the other (accounting for slope of the land). Generally speaking - the deeper, the better.

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Step 2: Fill the raised beds with a layer of logs

This is where hugelkultur concepts come in. Hugelkultur is essentially just buried wood. These buried logs (twigs, branches, etc.) help out in a lot of ways: 

This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets - so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water - and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.
— https://richsoil.com/hugelkultur/

I learned about this method of growing food (and soil) from Sepp Holzer, my favorite permaculturist, who manages to grow citrus trees way high up in the cold mountains of Austria. Here's a link to his remarkable book, chock full of knowledge and inspiration.

Step 3: Mix soil and fill raised beds

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This soil mix formula comes from a book I read called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. "Mel's Mix" is three parts: 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost. 

Making sure to keep the equation 1/3, we would mix the soil using buckets full of each ingredient dumped onto a large tarp. From there, we'd each grab two corners of the tarp and do a swooshy dance (real technical, I know) until everything looked good and mixed. Pro tip: Make sure to breathe through your nose, inhaling any of this can damage your lungs. 

Aside from building the beds, this is where the real work comes in. We sourced vermiculite and peat moss from a local garden shop and composted manure from a farm about 30 miles away, so there was a lot of shoveling and hauling. This is a situation where you put in the work upfront, and enjoy the payoff over years. Building these beds and the soil to go in them is a really fun winter project. Then when Spring arrives - you're ready to go with your new garden!

 

 Step 4: Build square foot grids (Optional)

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To grow as much as possible, you might find it very helpful to build a wooden grid. I used simple 1x1 untreated lumber, screwed together in a grid that fit the measurements of my raised beds. You'll have to measure your beds and do the math, of course, but the goal is to lay the grid over each of your raised beds so that you have square foot planting areas from one end of the bed to the other.

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The purpose behind this is to optimize growing space. Without this grid, you might space seeds further apart and not grow as much as is possible. For example, in a single square foot you can grow 16 radishes, 16 carrots, 9 cilantro, or 16 onions!  Here's a comprehensive list of what you can grow in one square foot, per vegetable.

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Step 5: Install hoops

For hoops, we used simple PVC pipes in a length that worked well for our raised beds. The wonderful thing about cinder blocks is that it was very easy to stick the PVC pipes into one wall through the holes in the blocks, then bend the pipe over to the other wall, creating a hoop without having to dig into the ground. 

As a general rule, a hoop every three feet is a sturdy setup.

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We purchased plastic sheeting for each bed. You can secure this plastic sheeting over the hoops and hold it down with stones or stakes (depending on your setup) to extend the growing season in either direction and to protect from unexpected environmental concerns (i.e. wildfire smoke, severe winds, unexpected frosts, etc.). In the middle of summer, we would fold the plastic up and store away in an anccessible area in case it was suddenly needed. 

I ended up making use of the hoops for netting as the season progressed and birds and cabbage moths began frequenting the garden. You can purchase a roll of netting for each bed and put it over the hoops in the same way you would to construct your plastic hoophouse. Amazon has a great deal on netting with this 65-foot roll, which should be plenty to cover several raised beds. Rain and pollinators can still get in, but pests are kept out - no toxic chemicals needed. Consider it a natural organic pest control remedy ;)

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Step 6: Sow seeds!

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Now for the fun part: it's time to sow seeds. What you plant is entirely up to you, just make sure you refer to the square foot planting list so you optimize your space and grow lots of healthy food!

This isn't a requirement, but I recorded my layout in a notebook, keeping record of what was planted in each grid, for each raised bed. When those sprouts start to come up, you can grab your notebook, point to it, and level up your botany and horticulture knowledge! My favorite part of gardening (other than eating the delicious organic vegetables freshly plucked from the earth) is watching the daily progress and noting subtle changes. One of the best ways to spend a morning is to go out with a hot cup of coffee and walk through the garden while the dew is still fresh on the leaves, noting the smallest of changes. What beauty! What reward!
 

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Step 7: Composting

This is an ongoing step, but a vital one for true self-sufficiency. 

You've put in all the hard work of getting your food growing system up and running, now to be sustainable and to build soil you'll need to start composting. 

This can be as simple as designating an area in your garden and tossing all organic matter there. Everything from leaves to straw to animal manure and of course - your vegetable waste. What works best for me is to keep a small container in the kitchen for all vegetable scraps. Anytime you're chopping vegetables and have remnants, or instead of throwing away veggies past their prime, just add them to the compost bucket. Then, once a day, empty the bucket onto the compost pile. The more often you can turn your pile and add water, the faster it will transform into rich usable soil. To prevent any funky smells wafting through the house, I'd recommend a compost bucket with a charcoal filter like this stainless steel one.

These are great ways to get exercise (turning a compost pile is a decent workout!) and to make sure you're eating plenty of veggies (if there isn't something to add to the compost pile every day, you might need to consume more plant food!). 

After the growing season ends, add this compost to your beds and let sit all winter. This is how you sustain your food growing systems and continue building soil so that you don't have to buy anymore.

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And that's a wrap! Hopefully I didn't leave out anything. Let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to help in any way I can! Happy bountiful gardening!

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Welcome!

Tiffany Davidson.JPG

My husband and I are working to build a Nordic-inspired homestead in the Washington wilderness slowly with cash and no debt. You can follow the journey here!

I write about:

  • wilderness living

  • our homestead journey

  • health & wellness

  • adventure travel

  • cozy homemaking

  • wild food foraging

  • DIY & craft projects

  • making a living online from home (or anywhere)

  • natural living

  • my own recipes from scratch

  • and much more


My hope is that you will find some nugget of inspiration here.
Thank you so much for stopping in & please come back often. The kettle's always on...

x Tiffany


INSTAGRAM:

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning: at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you click-through and make a purchase. We only feature products that we believe in and use ourselves. Your support means the world to us and allows us to host this website.
So thank you :)