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

Tour of an underground solar house

Underground house

Outhouse"Ooh!  That's a pretty outbuilding!  I could live there," I enthused as we toured the property Joey's renting.

"That's the outhouse," explained my long-suffering brother, rolling his eyes.  He'd already put up with me snapping photos of his solar array (pictured below), the wood stove, the grape arbor meant to shade the long wall of south-facing windows in the summer time (pictured above).

I hadn't shown nearly enough interest in the ingenious way he'd thought of using a car radio to work with the existing voltage in the structure, and I had instead peered at every fruit tree, at the uncovered hoop house, and even down the cistern.

Solar panels

Joey at the controls of the solar system"Did you know you have a swiss chard plant in there?" I asked him as he pointed out a weedy cold frame the previous owners had left behind.  "And there's a volunteer kale, and one lone collard.  Is that an apple tree?"

Joey kindly didn't explain to me that three tiny plants weren't going to give him enough greens to bother picking.  He just smiled and nodded as older brothers learn to do with their babbling younger sisters.

If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend touring someone else's homestead.  It's a great game to guess why they put this here and that there, and to see things in action that you've only read about in books.  All of the fun with none of the work --- what's not to like?

Walking on the roof of an underground house
Our homemade chicken waterer takes minutes to put together and provides poop-free water for years.

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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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