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

Overthinking homesteading projects

Insulated skirtingSometimes when I overthink a project, I back myself into a corner and nothing ever gets done. For example, re-insulating the lower part of the trailer would, in a perfect world, go in this order:

  • Add insulation under the floor everywhere that the original insulation has fallen out (and perhaps replace the stuff that's still in place while I'm at it).
  • Run insulated skirting around the entire trailer to fill in the gap between the walls and the ground.
  • Add on porches and other structures onto the sides of the trailer.

But the problem with this campaign is that I haven't wrapped my head around the best way to insulate under the floor, and that's also the project I care about the least. As a result, somehow two porches ended up attached to the trailer before I'd even begun step one of my reinsulation project.

Still, it did seem like a good idea to install the skirting behind the mushroom tower before we started putting mushroom logs and water-tower braces in place. Luckily, I discovered that it's not all that difficult to do the tasks in the wrong order --- yes, I had to crawl under the porch and the trailer, but I embraced my inner coal miner and survived.

So maybe I was wrong with my original plan. Maybe it should have been:

  • Do what I think is the most fun first.
  • Then do whatever suits my fancy next.
  • And finish up with what's left.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Each year did changes help to improve tmps and reduce need for heat. Evev with slow careful progress you are on track. Any solar air heaters?
Comment by Jim Fri Feb 6 07:07:38 2015
Curious to know why you put the water container up above the ground that high (besides being able to get some type of water movement through gravity instead of electricity). Is there a possibility that the metal surrounding the container might rust? I ask because a neighbor and I are contemplating using those containers for fish farming and now I'm worried about setting the container directly on the ground.
Comment by Nayan Fri Feb 6 08:32:35 2015

Jim --- Good point --- every little bit does seem to help! We don't have solar air heaters, but do have a huge bank of windows on the south side of our trailer, which provides lots of passive solar heat on sunny days. We do want to add more thermal mass to that system eventually, but it's not on the list yet.... :-)

Nayan --- Good point on the metal rusting. Yes, I have seen a bit of rust on ours already in our wet climate. The goal of the height in our system is to allow us to use gravity pressure to run sprinklers to water the mushrooms.

Comment by anna Fri Feb 6 09:26:33 2015
Brilliant! I love your revised three-step plan for projects and for Life!!!
Comment by Abby Fri Feb 6 10:10:14 2015

IF you let the man in your life worry about these things concerning the house, structure, insulating, guttering, towers and so for you would be a much happier woman...left to do the things you enjoy the most. You are such a controlling woman...yikes.

Glad to get that off my I'm happier.

Hope to see Mark making His posts more interesting since you've given up making ALL the decisions thus giving him something to write about.

Something to think about don't have to post this up but I HAD to say it.


Comment by Edith Fri Feb 6 20:41:47 2015

Anna, I'm surprised you felt obligated to post Edith's comment, but I commend you on at least resisting the temptation to respond to it. I won't.

My goodness, Edith, what a thing to say. Anna's ambition and determination, and her thoughtful sharing of her hard work and research on all kinds of projects, are inspirational to many of us, male and female. You appear to have some very antiquated notions of appropriate spheres for the sexes, which is your right, but I'm surprised at your unkind personal criticism of Anna. I was offended on her behalf, and on the behalf of many other people who don't share your views. I hope you will consider keeping such thoughts to yourself in the future.


Comment by Heather in CA Sat Feb 7 17:22:56 2015
Heather --- Thanks for your kind words --- cheered me right up. :-) I do try to post all comments that aren't obvious spam because I believe in freedom of expression, although I am sometimes saddened by the thoughtlessness of a few. On the other hand, I'm always impressed by the depth of thought of 99.9% of our commenters, and today you go to the top of "Anna's favorite commenters" list. :-)
Comment by anna Sat Feb 7 18:07:43 2015


IBC are primarily designed for use inside (warehouses, trucks, production plants). They are generally made from a rotation moulded polyethylene cube surrounded by a (usually galvanized) steel frame. The base is a pallet that is made out of wood, plastic or steel.

When exposed to rain, the metal frame will start corroding after a few years. (you could use a sacrificial anode to protect it.) If you live close to the sea, it will corrode faster.

The polyethylene cube will suffer from degradation by UV light, unless a UV stabilizer is added. Possible signs of degradation include loss of transparancy and flaking.

My guess would be that in general the plastic will fail before the frame does, but that it should at least last around a decade in a moderate climate.

However it is impossible to give an actual prediction of how long an IBC will last outside, because that is very much dependent on the circumstances. What we can say though is that keeping the IBC's frame dry and the plastic out of direct sunlight will prolong its useful life.

It would be a good idea to empty it in the winter to prevent frost damage. Another factor is how to keep it clean/usable. If you collect rainwater I suspect that in time you will get algae growth inside. Keeping the container covered to starve them from sunlight will slow their growth.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Feb 8 05:09:05 2015


Not all woman are ideas are alive, and well with many woman sharing them....:o). Only thing is most don't have the courage to speak out for fear of ridicule or being told to keep our "politically incorrect" thoughts to ourselves. Many terrible things have been done by this means.

Truth hurts sometimes but truth is not unkind. Criticism is a healthy thing. I for one want to know how others view me so I can make sure I am not controlling which is a female tendency.

No one can say or do anything to offend another. A person "takes offense" at whatever is done or said. This said.....your offense is of your own making not mine...:o)

I have been reading this site for a long time so I can see.. what many others can see.

I wonder how Mark feels about it? His posts pale in comparison but what can he write about?????

My intentions were not to hurt but to show how she comes across to many woman. It's an insult to see a strong man over shadowed by a feminist woman. It's very sad how it's destroyed the traditional family. We have very few real, strong, confident, men left. They have been destroyed, and subjected to feminism.

It's all very though provoking is it not?


Comment by Edith Sun Feb 8 21:36:19 2015

Okay, I did post Edith's second comment, but I'm going to ask people not to respond. I don't think this issue is worth debating on a homesteading blog.

Edith --- You've had your say and are now repeating yourself, so I won't be posting further comments from you on this topic. However, feel free to post on-topic comments on homesteading issues like growing food and becoming self-sufficient.

Comment by anna Mon Feb 9 07:23:29 2015

Troll?? You have got to be kidding..

I know you won't post this but it just proves my point. I did not repeat myself in the second post, I explained the first one.

It's your life but it's quite sad to see.


Comment by Edith Mon Feb 9 11:08:20 2015

I commend you for taking on these projects. We also tend to over think and over engineer projects. For us the over thinking is a result of us renting the property we are working on. Everything has to be transportable in the event that something happens and we have to move the chickens, coops, rabbits and raised bed gardens, etc. I feel the other part of this is that we see the shoddy workmanship and know we can do it better, make it last longer, make it more aesthetically appealing and functioning but I feel the biggest thing is it is OURS and we want to do it right. A case in point for us, is when building the coop (15x10) and run (15x35), we added an extra door a few feet inside the main door, this allows us to enter the coop with new bedding, food, etc without having to chase the girls around the yard. We have too many predators here between the hawks that sit over the top of the enclosed coop/run and coyotes and loose neighborhood dogs. Keep up the great work and don't worry about over thinking/engineering things unless this paralyzes the project!!

Comment by Arid Acres Fri Mar 6 01:23:23 2015
Out here, we use those IBC totes to raise our tilapia and catfish for our aquaponics systems. You might want to consider it during the warmer months, the fertilizer infused water is great for the gardens and you'd be using the IBC's to raise food in... just a thought.
Comment by Arid Acres Fri Mar 6 01:34:31 2015

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