The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Homestead Blog


Homesteading Tags

Recent Comments

Blog Archive

User Pages


About Us

Submission guidelines


Most visited this week:

Fighting tomato blight with pennies

How to help chicks during hatching

How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?

Electric club car trouble

Automatic chicken door

Jul 2015

A year ago this week:

Bearding bees

Lazy susan ceiling mounted fan

Sustainable firewood strategies

Cut-and-come-again cover-crop experiments

Jul 2014

Walden Effect Facebook page

To get updates by email, enter your email address below:

Summer collage

Despite the current bone-dry conditions, mushrooms are popping up all over the woods.


There's a certain zen wonder in not being able to identify most of them but still enjoying their beautiful shapes and colors.

Goat eating fallen leaves

Meanwhile, the goats are much more interested in the first golden tulip-tree leaves filtering to the ground. To each her own!

Posted Mon Jul 25 06:43:21 2016 Tags:
Onion harvest

I usually wait to harvest our onions until the leaves have dried down. But the summer abruptly turned wet and I began noticing a few signs of rot. Time to get our precious bulbs out of the ground before they go bad!

I harvested perhaps three-quarters of the onions Tuesday, filling up three bushel baskets and then transferring the contents over onto one of our curing racks. Maybe I actually planted too many this year?

Posted Sun Jul 24 07:09:58 2016 Tags:

Solarization is still a major time saver for us.

Sometimes the plants end up winning when the plastic is on its last leg.

Posted Sat Jul 23 14:41:06 2016 Tags:
Old-fashioned thresher

Belts and gearsKayla and I took in the antique tractor show at Fairview in Abingdon Friday. It was another perfect girl's day out, with an extremely well-behaved baby, fascinating old implements (like this thresher --- look at all those belts!), and quite a bit of historical education as a bonus.

Growing flax

OuthouseThe interpretive signs were top-notch, full of information I'd never considered. For example, did you know that the crescent moon traditionally shown on an outhouse was meant to designate the lady's room? Way back when the average American couldn't read, stars were for guys and moons for girls...but men's outhouses tended to get run down and didn't last. Thus the crescent-moon-marked outhouses dominating the colonial landscape.

And speaking of outhouse traditions, hollyhocks were usually planted around the outhouse as a way to draw the attention without forcing a lady to request directions to the necessary. Lamb's ears with their silvery ears did the same job at night (while also providing backup toilet paper).

Oh, and the other picture in this section is flax. I was proud of myself for guessing its identity...and Kayla was proud of herself for capturing the plant matter before it made it into baby D.'s gaping mouth.

Organic dyes

Plant dyesIn the air-conditioned comfort of the interpretive log house, we took in several beautiful displays pertaining to history and crafts. On the history front, I was intrigued to learn that I-81 (the big highway that runs through our region) began as a buffalo trail but soon became a major thoroughfare between Philadelphia and the Frontier.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the so-called Great Philadelphia Road was used for wagon trains of settlers (many from Europe) moving to new land and also for people from our region driving their sheep, pigs, and cattle to market in the City of Brotherly Love. Can  you imagine making that 500-mile trek at the tail end of a herd of swine?

Percheron horse

Pig overallsThe upshot? Best girl's day out yet! Think we can top this in August, Kayla?

Posted Sat Jul 23 07:24:32 2016 Tags:
chicago hardy fig

Our Chicago Hardy Fig is finally bouncing back from 2 Winters ago.

The highest point is just over 6 feet.

Posted Fri Jul 22 15:10:56 2016 Tags:

Soil Amendments for the Organic GardenI'm excited to announce that the final book in my Ultimate Guide to Soil series is now available for sale!

This one is long and in-depth but very heavy on the pictures so hopefully still easy to read. In addition to rundowns on more conventional garden amendments, I've summed up our experiences with bokashi, black soldier flies, humanure, biochar, and much more.

Here are the buy links in case you want to give it a try:

What early reviewers had to say:

"Thanks to her Ultimate Guide to Soil series, I am enjoying robust plant growth and harvesting gorgeous vegetables and herbs from my garden." --- M

"I know more about composting and soil amendments now than I did before reading this - and I've been composting for 30 years, so I thought I knew it all!" --- Colin B. McGee

Thank you in advance for any support, from buying a copy to telling a friend to leaving a review. You are why I write.

Posted Fri Jul 22 06:51:26 2016 Tags:
cucumber vines

Soon we'll have a lot of extra cucumbers.

We don't like pickles so they mainly get used as a side salad.

Posted Thu Jul 21 16:53:49 2016 Tags:
Goats grazing hedge

Goat pulling against its leashNow that Punkin has moved on to his new home, I'm finally able to get back to tethering our herd in the morning while I garden. Artemesia was thrilled at the opportunity, but our little doeling wasn't so sure about the idea of collars and leashes.

She had a small fit, pouted for a while, then decided mimicking her mother was probably a better way to utilize her time. I figure by the end of the week, Aurora will be just as good at being tethered as Artemesia is.

Posted Thu Jul 21 05:58:12 2016 Tags:
New improved metal gate.

Our new metal gate was just as easy to install as the first one.

The hinges let it swing both ways and the powder coating should last for a long time.

Posted Wed Jul 20 15:16:55 2016 Tags:

Ice cream makerThis summer has been averaging 1 to 3 degrees hotter than previous summers on our farm. That doesn't sound like much...until you realize that we spend a lot of time working outside and I'm still stubbornly avoiding air conditioning. (Mark has AC in his man cave.)

Long term, we're pondering all kinds of passive-cooling systems. Short term, the solution was obvious --- an ice-cream maker!

This little machine makes a great long as you put in a little TLC during the freezing process. Unfortunately, the procedure isn't set-it-and-forget-it. Instead, it's necessary to run a firm spatula around the inside every three to four minutes during the course of the freeze cycle.

Without that step, you end up with ice cream stuck so hard to the nonstick surface that you can't pry it loose and end up having to slowly but surely scoop it into your mouth as it thaws. Oh, the hardship! No, Mark, that's not what I'm doing while you're cooling off in your man cave. Really....

Churning ice cream

Ahem, anyway. In case you're interested in following suit, I'm still using a slightly modified version of this recipe. Mark got sick of mint and I realized I could downgrade the chocolate chips a bit (although not much or the consistency goes off). The final recipe for use in a two-quart ice-cream maker includes:

  • 6 cups rich goat milk (divided)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Soft-serve ice cream

See the previously linked post for cooking instructions and be sure to cool overnight before tossing in the ice-cream maker. The end result is soft-serve consisetency, so Mark and I like to ladle the contents into eight individual-serving containers and put them back in the freezer for 12 hours before eating. Enjoy!

Posted Wed Jul 20 07:19:02 2016 Tags:

Didn't check back soon enough and unread posts ran off the bottom of the page?  See older posts in the archives.