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

Mark and I splurged on an electric wheelbarrow a year and a half ago and are very glad we did. We chose the Snapper XD because of its hefty battery, which meant the wheelbarrow was able to go up our steep hillside while loaded down with firewood. (Check out the video above to see it in action.)

Since then, I've also started using the electric wheelbarrow to haul mulch and compost into the garden, where it also shines. Only small flaw: the Snapper doesn't turn on a dime.

If you decide to follow our lead, a few thoughts on getting the best price:

First, you'll notice you don't get a battery or charger with the wheelbarrow. At the time of our purchase, it was cheaper to buy a Snapper weedeater/battery/charger bundle than to buy the latter two on their own. This may change over time!

Second, at the time we did our research, Home Depot had the cheapest price. However, Amazon sometimes has used models available even cheaper. Shop around!

And, finally, a warning to all you men out there. Electric is just so easy --- it always starts and it just runs. Your wife may steal your electric wheelbarrow just like I did with ours. There is a key you can remove if you really want to keep it for yourself.

Posted Mon Jul 4 11:17:48 2022 Tags:

Wheelbarrow Fire Ring

Do you have a rusted-out wheelbarrow waiting to be hauled to the dump? If you've been homesteading for at least a decade, I'll bet you do.

Well don't haul off that wheelbarrow! Prop it up on cinder blocks and turn it into a fire circle.

Propping a wheelbarrow up on cinder blocks to turn it into a fire circle

I ran into this fire circle at a friend's house yesterday evening and was highly impressed. Its owner told me the wheelbarrow not only contains the fire, it raises the flames up for easier management. During the winter, she finds it especially nice to have the heat closer to body level. Sounds like a win/win!

Posted Wed Jun 29 07:19:01 2022 Tags:

We built a deck recently and needed a handrail.

I decided a planter box was more fun and functional.

Posted Wed Jun 22 14:06:57 2022 Tags:

Spotty and good carrot germination

When Mark created our caterpillar tunnels, they had one purpose --- keeping cabbage moths away from my broccoli and brussels sprouts without laborious hand squishing. But they've since proven themselves valuable for much more than that.

After moving to Ohio, I've had trouble getting peas, beans, and cucumbers from the seedling to early adult stage due to bug damage and rabbit nibbles. Popping a caterpillar tunnel on top for a few weeks seems to circumvent those troubles, giving the babies a safe environment in which to thrive. If you follow suit, just make sure to uncover by bloom time or you won't get any fruits!

Then, this spring, I discovered yet another use for caterpillar tunnels. I left a caterpillar tunnel on two-thirds of a newly seeded carrot bed because I didn't need the structure anywhere else that early in the spring. To my surprise, the covered section germinated at many times the rate of the uncovered section. (In my photo, from two weeks ago, the covered section is the right side of the bed...and that picture was taken after I thinned the plants!) My best guess is that the caterpillar tunnel mitigated the ground-level microclimate, keeping it just a hair warmer and damper. Whatever the reason, I'll clearly need to start using Mark's tunnels as germination aids as well.

Other news

In other news, those of you reading this directly on our blog will notice the new cover photo. Cool huh? Mark cleverly chose to catch the light just before sunset when it shone straight through the tunnels to us.

Also on the blog, you'll now see an email signup form at the bottom of every page. I'm giving away a free ebook (and promising behind-the-scenes info) to those of you who join, so I hope you'll sign up!

And, finally, Mark has a slew of video ideas buzzing around in his head right now. I'll be straight with you --- we haven't posted here much in recent years because after we shut down our chicken waterer business, it just didn't make sense to sink so much time into a project that didn't help pay the bills. But Youtube recently told us that we'd hit the 1,000 subscriber threshold needed to put ads there (wow!), and all we need is to boost our viewership by about a third to be eligible. Ads would make it worth Mark's while to share some of the projects he's created but hasn't posted about, so I hope you'll help him reach his goal by checking out our channel. Thanks in advance for giving him a reason to scratch his filmmaking itch!

Posted Mon Jun 13 15:29:15 2022 Tags:

Building a chipmunk-proof garden bed

I did the unthinkable last winter --- I ripped out all of my strawberries. The issue was chipmunks. Our berry enclosure is bird proof, but no matter how hard we worked we couldn't plug every little hole that chipmunks burrowed through. As soon as berries showed the first sign of white, the chipmunks snuck in and tore off every single fruit, strewing them across the garden path and taunting me. With no harvest on the horizon after four growing seasons, I gave up.

Then Mark shook his head and refused to throw in the towel. "I can make a chipmunk-proof raised bed," he told me. "Some hardware cloth on the bottom and a hinged, screened lid should do the trick."

You can see the result at the top of this post. I hope it works as well as his caterpillar tunnels have!

In other news, sad then glad:

Both Strider and Huckleberry left us over the last year. They were both old, beloved cats and their memories are unlikely to fade soon. We deeply miss them.

On a more pleasant note, a new book-recommendation website asked me to write up a post about the best books for beyond organic gardeners. If you've been following our blog since the beginning, there's nothing new here. But those of you who haven't read every single book I ever recommended might enjoy skimming off this recommended cream.

I hope your gardens are growing and your homesteads are happy. Enjoy the spring!

Posted Tue Apr 12 15:07:04 2022 Tags:

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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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