Volunteering with Us ūüėä

Over the last twenty years we have enjoyed volunteers from all over the world. Many of them have become family of heart, returning often.We are trying to share the concept that everyone can work toward being more sustainable, a few steps at a time.

As the years have gone by we’ve learned a lot about what works for us and what doesn’t! I thought I’d share a little about what a volunteer can expect here and what we are looking in return.

While we do ask our volunteers to help out, it is mainly about sharing our love for our local culture and the beauty of our area. If we can create a love for it, hopefully it will help preserve it for future generations!

Our life is fairly primitive, but we love it!

Most of the year, volunteers stay in tents down on the campsite.Our campsite is also our native plant garden..with paths winding around colonies of wonderful plants, some of them rare or endangered.While you are here you’ll learn about them.

The bath house has a cold water shower and compost potty…the shower is gravity flow, and has a wood burning hot water tank. The walls have art ….paintings by different volunteers..my favorite was by Charlene, She was from Quebec…all of 99 pounds soaking wet! She came in mid Febuary and it SNOWED!

When she came up to the house the next morning, we asked if she’d been warm enough! Her painting was better with snow coming down…ūüėā

We teach as we go, sharing not only how we do something, but why. Often there be another way of doing it…even a better way..so we try to share those as well.

Another goal is helping volunteers learn how to do things, teaching old time skills…between us we know many of the old ways of doing things..I grew up with herbs both traditional, and the wild ones, so that’s a big focus of what I share.

We set down to three family style meals, sharing Our day and making plans for the next one.

We also take off hiking to the scenic areas nearby…floating the Buffalo during season, and encourage our guests to visit places like Horseshoe Canyon Ranch to climb.

We ask folks to each help with a house chore and an outside chore and then help a few hours each morning with whatever project is in the works. Many hosts ask for more hours, but we have been happy with this arrangement.

Most of our projects are aimed at making a minimum impact on our land…our home was designed using passive solar concepts, and utilizing wind patterns and passive design to help cool it. Our gardens are developed using a meld of French Intensive gardening and horticulture concepts. We forage wild plants in season, hunt and fish..using several different methods of preserving our harvests. Much of our home medical care is herbal based.

We try to share the ideas behind all this and love hearing ideas from our volunteers as well.We have learned so much from them !

Herbhome’s Mission

Mission? That works ūüôā

Several of our volunteers have asked that we post our view of what we are about – so here goes…

I thought it would be tough to write about just what we believe and why we do what we do. Surprisingly it is fairly easy.

We want to pass on the love we have for our hills and hollows and be sure that the homestead skills don’t get lost. we hope to show that sustainability doesn’t have to happen in an instant- but can be achieved one baby step at a time.

We can create a better world by taking the dreams in our head and using our hands and skills to bring it to life.

I think that we interact with the “real world” daily, like it or not. Maybe we can make a difference by the small things we change on a daily basis. I used to be one of the loud , aggressive, up front people for the causes I thought were important. Now I think my role has changed. It is more about teaching, making small changes- “baby steps” each one making the word a little better. My best image is of the pebble dropping into the still pool . each ripple going out , touches and changes the next one.

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We love the hills and hollows here and treasure the waters – the Buffalo – our Creeks and Springs are all¬† rich and beautiful. The culture here is deeply ingrained in our community and we are gifted with a good array of skills that are important to pass done so they won’t be lost.

Our volunteers from the  different work exchange programs we are involved in hopefully walk away with a love for our area- the culture and people as well as a respect for the ecology that is so rich.

I think sustainability starts one person at a time.. if we can pass that on, then we have achieved a big goal!

“To DO” Lists-What’s YOURS like?

Got one? That dreaded “to do” list?

Mine actually helps me ūüôā

Making lists didn’t used to be productive for me. Then I read something in a Womans Day magazine some years back that really made it work¬† by putting a new perspective on it.

A “to do ” list is a memory aid filled with SUGGESTIONS not a MUST¬† do thing.

How is it helping ?

Well, – we have a big scribble board -with four columns

We keep a NEED list- if one of us wants something or needs something the next trip to town it goes up here . The understanding si that these are budget dependent , of curse.

Then there is the one with the Day of the week and the Date up there for us old folks whose memories aren’t functioning well til there is a pot of coffee on board LOL- this is where the¬†TODAY’S WORK¬†is listed- We try to keep it down to three major items- that way it is not too overwhelming. If one doesn’t get done – it just stays up the nest day-IF it is super important on the priority list it gets a time frame set out-¬† this means – get that one done ASAP!

The third¬†one is for¬†¬†Neill’s reminders-his things he wants to remember

and the fourth is MINE Рthings I need to do in town Рor business calls to make Рorders to fill etc.

It is surprising how much this helps- also, when we have volunteers it let’s them know what next , if we are out of pocket for some reason.

We do keep a separate chore board – the everyday stuff spelled out for our volunteers- or us , if we happen to be in a time with no volunteers here.

The board is also a place to scribble where you are going if you hike- not intended as an intrusion, but a safety feature- if it gets dark -are you upstream or downstream – were you headed to town?

It truly  has helped us get a load more accomplished to keep our lists.

 

Chilly! Weather Patterns – Shifting?

Gooood Morning!

Woke up to a chilly 52 this AM !

As one of the Ancient Ones, I remember …

Old time folklore the first twelve days of january represent the months of the years – if the first is wet – January will be wet- etc.

Another one is about counting the fogs in August-the number of fogs is the number of snows the winter will bring.

We got into a deep discussion of weather patterns yesterday. I had to add my two cents worth here .

We are seeing a lot of changes. But I can remember seasons like this – Dad used to say we had three weather cycles- a three year one, a seven year one and a forty year one.

Things will stay about the same for roughly three years-rain patterns repeat about every seven years and seasonal shifts make the rounds about every forty years. in looking back – I actually was shocked to see – I think he was right !!!

Our traditional Pattern here was a couple of fair weeks early in January , then all *** would break loose- the worst of our weather usually through about the last week of February- when we would have an open spell- I usually turned garden then and pur out the early things- peas, broccoli, a small amount of lettuce – might even risk a small planting of sweet corn..It would turn bad again and then when it got better the early garden would be up and doing well.

Late March , early April it would fair up again – then storms come in – May usually was rainey and flood time- June would be hot then we’d have Fourth of¬†July lightening and thunderstorms–

August was dry – the creeks would start to drop , springs would get iffy- and the heat and humidity would be horrible- September¬†would be hot and dry .¬†October would start getting rainey-¬†another¬† of heavy floods –¬†and cold- I remember bundling up most Halloweens!

Then we’d get an indian summer through November. Thanksgiving time there was usually a snow and cold snap – then clearing off until Christmas. On the mountain we always had a snow – at least a flurry ,Christmas¬† night- then clear until about¬† ¬†week in January.

It seems like now we have the same¬†progression , but it has shifted by about 3-4 weeks¬†later in the year…

A lot of our weather here in the ozarks seems to depend on where the jet stream falls as well. Our storms are usually right on the edge of it. The years the edge of the jet stream drift down toward Little Rock we have snow- if it lands directly over us , we get the intense ice storms. It also affects our rainfall – the stroms follow the edges of the front- if it swings north of us – we are dry ..

Weather is always a topic of converstaion in the country – try it sometime !

Taking a Day Off to Dream

Life can get busy as twins. All the “should” and “musts”…

Sometimes it does the Spirit good just to take a timeout  just to rest and recoup our energy. We need  time to let our brain process everything we feed it Рand surprisingly it will come up with unexpected , unique , answers and solutions.

My rest times often produce some awesome dreams of things I hope to do here on the homestead- scares hubby a little LOL- his “Honey Do ” list gets longer !

It can also be a great time just to re-connect with why you live your life. Right now , the wind is stirring my chimes- an old belief that they scare off bad things has them hanging everywhere ūüôā -Wow! Just realized that comes from Uncle Fred¬† (My great grandfather) and all his tales of the Orient¬†ūüôā

My Shadow cat is curled up snoozing beside me, hummer’s are stocking up on sugar water- hounds are snoozing everywhere- the leaves are rustling .. just a soft day to BE.

The muscovie ducks I got from Jimmie are picking out their roosting spots , now that they are getting older-one has even decided she likes the kitchen roof- she can look through the gable window and see what we are doing..:)

I get so much joy from the world around us- I hope I never lose that sense of wonderment! When I get wrapped up in real world issues and forget to get grounded it really shows in my state of mind and behaviors. Being a type “A” personality , bent on providing the best for family,¬†it took many years to allow myself to relearn the connections I had as a child to the woods and hills I love. So it often takes a conscious effort to stop and ground when “real life”¬† rears it’s head.

My skill set has always been to make things happen- and right now it is¬†needed¬†in our family due to illness. But I also don’t want to¬†loose the things I hold dear about my life. So – time out to Dream.

Planning the medicinal garden growth- also getting a list together of what we still need to complete the wind tower- and the floor insulation the first… wishing for more tanks for water storage… and dreaming about the living roof we want for the new library we hope to build. LOL – As the boys all say – when is Jeannie EVER without a project?

I believe Dreaming keeps hooked in to Life!

Things to Know when Buying Land

Another subject we covered in our visit with Tyler  the other night .

What are some things to think about when you are looking for land , or getting ready to actually buy it?

First , it is a good idea to know what you want and then think about what you  actually need and can afford!

First advice Рbuy your land and pay it off as quickly as possible, and then be sure to pay your land taxes immediately each year! Here in Arkansas land can go to auction if taxes are two years delinquent. If you are on land that is paid for and you keep your taxes up Рyou have a place to live and can raise food .

RECORD ANY PAPER WORK ASSOCIATED WITH THE LAND !  You can do this at the County clerks office for a small fee- and it is an important protection for you and your family. (It covers your B***! )

What to look for when buying? Well First what do you want to do with your land? Are you looking to live simply Рraising your own food and livestock Рor do you want to have a CSA , or raise organic  beef Рeach has a different need. Will you have to work of the farm  for a while to pay for it , or can you stay there right away and begin developing it ? Do you want rural electric and water , or do you plan on going off grid immediately? Do you plan on tenting while you build Рor living in an RV? or do you plan to refurbish an older home ?

Basic needs are clear title- Insist on a title search with Title insurance prior to closing . What is this ?

It is a legal record search , to be sure there are no outstanding debts or succession claims against the land you look to buy. The abstract company “insures ” that they have done a through search of the archives and they warranty that the land is free of debt and impediment. If something turns up later – the they are the ones who have to deal with it.

Another need is a survey before closing- the cost is usually split between buyer and seller. A surveyor will mark your corners and record them all. Any dispute should show up at this time – be sure it is cleared before closing.

Land Taxes – check at the county clerks office to be sure they are up to date and have in writing who is responsible for the remainder of the year you are buying in .

If you are buying from a private party rather than a bank loan- i.e. owner financing- have it put with an escrow company. It is a legal holding company – they accept your payments – and send it on to the seller – they also hold the deed while the land is being paid for. This protects both of you.

Now on to the nuts and bolts ta da!

What to check out about the and you are buying …

Access Рbe sure you have LEGAL access to your place- if you cross another persons land and it is not an established county road Рbe sure there is a written ,NOTARIZED Right of Way . Too many folks end up in disputes over this. Also be aware of weather issues Рhow tough is it to get in and out in bad weather- flood time , snow or ice?

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Water- Rural water, well or spring?

Rural water now requires that there be an existing septic system before they will bring lines in – you also will need right of way form anyone whose property the line has to cross. (Same guidelines apply for electric) This is due to Federal Regulation .

Wells- most local wells in our area have to 600-800 feet to avoid Sulphur water – you will probably expect to do pump maintenance every five years or so – this involves¬† pulling the pump¬†– can get expensive…

Spring water- if you are blessed with a year round spring Рyou are fortunate-but if you live near any large livestock holdings it will most likely have high levels of ecoli Рit will be unusable . so be sure to have it tested routinely-  The county health agency can do this for a fee.

Storage- this is a big thing – good dry storage –

It can protect your building supplies , precious items that you are storing “until the house¬† is built”.

There are many, many,  other things to think about , but these are a few of the basics- hope this helps

 

Daily Blog- Library for a homestead

OK- I know we all use the internet these day , right ? LOL well I still love the feel of book hands when I curl up to read and it can be a wise thing to have a good reference library on hand! There will be many times that you use these books…

Tyler Geyman was back up from Louisiana to visit for a while and we got to talking ”¬†things to know “- and what books are good¬†to keep on hand. Promised him a list ! So here goes…

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First the usual disclaimer -This is for informational purposes only – these are books we use and enjoy.

My three standbys are :

“The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening” -Rodale Press

Good basic¬† info about gardening , livestock raising and companion planting”How-to” graft, starting root cuttings etc.

“Stocking Up”

Great how to’s on preserving food- drying , canning , root cellar design , etc.

Merck’s Veterinary Manual”

Conventional meds for livestock- has dosages, diagnoses for illness etc.

There are many other good books- and great resources for books

Storey books- usually on a shelf in you farm supply store- these are good beginners manuals Рwith sound information. They can give you a great start on basic animal care

Chelsea books – fantastic publisher of alternative building books

Horizon Herbs- now “Strictly Medicinal” – some very good books and their catalog is full of growing info on herbs of all sorts

Alchemy Works – great seed resource for medicinal’s and tons of wonderful, accurate information !

Books in our library include the following , plus many more- I search thrift stores for basic texts on things like chemistry , physics ,etc.

The Hand Sculpted House- fun and informative about cob building…

Serious Straw bale – I feel this is the best book about building with bale-we followed is guidelines about moisture issues and have had no problems with it in seven years…

Rocket Mass Heaters by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson- a good read about basic rocket mass design

The Old Farmers Almanac- great lists of best planting days and all – gestation table- just good general information.

Llewellyn’s Moon sign Book- a yearly Lunar almanac

Any of Susan Weeds books about  healing

Euell Gibbons books – wonderful reads about wild foraging…

The Modern Herbal by Henriette Grieve- wonderful compendia of herbs Рshe refers to Culpepper a lot Рincludes many old time uses , but there area lot of American plants not included. I tend to use it for reference , but do not count on it for accuracy.

The Herb Book – by john Lust- I consider this to be one of the best sources for descriptions of a plant- I use it in combination with Nat. Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Flowers

Trees of Arkansas by Dwight W. Moore- good basic guide to learning trees

Audels- this is a serious of how-to books for construction and mechanics – on of the best to have on hand. Gives how to figure angles for rafters, proportions for mixing concrete, how to figure load bearing. etc.

There are so many more , but this gives you an idea¬† of what a resource library might have in it ūüôā

Have fun browsing LOL!