September 2008

By Example - The Quest for Sustainable Living Newsletter
September 2008

Getting Started with Food Production!


We moved onto our land last September and we've been busy with projects on the homestead ever since. We call our place "Solar Flare Farm" and life here is quite the adventure -- it seems as though there is an unending supply of interesting projects to keep us constantly entertained. This summer we focused our efforts on developing our first farm and garden, which we hope will one day be a sustainable source of food for our homestead.

Creating the first garden on our land has been a most exciting project! We've experimented with native vegetables such as the tepary bean and Hopi squash and have been successful cultivating plants from open-pollinated seeds. We are thrilled to be eating homegrown vegetables and dehydrating our surplus for winter consumption. With the uncertainty of climate change at hand and threats of extreme weather on the rise we decided to create raised beds for our primary gardening needs. The raised beds are designed to protect our plants from strong winds, intense sun and heat, driving rain and even hail storms. We are currently in the process of building cold frame attachments that will make it possible for us to continue food production throughout the winter season.

This past spring we also constructed a passive solar barn. It's design is based on our passive solar greenhouse and is intended to maintain comfortable temperatures both in the summer and in the winter. The barn incorporates an indoor chicken coop to house egg laying chickens, as well as indoor rabbit cages to keep our breeding rabbits sheltered. We are currently working on automated systems for the barn that will provide fresh water and ample light to our animals throughout the seasons and will ultimately cut down on the time it takes to complete our daily farm chores.

Most Saturdays over the summer we participated in the Concho Farmer's Market selling jewelry, farm fresh eggs and other homestead creations. We have aspirations of vending vegetables at our local farmer's market in the future and are working diligently to that end. With the price of gas increasing steadily we feel that it is important to support local producers and to develop sustainable sources of food that are readily available and that do not need to be transported across the globe.

This year we dove into our farm and garden projects with little prior experience and there has been a lot to learn at each step of the way. We look at each project as an experiment with numerous approaches to be explored and no guarantees for success. When we look around our homestead we are pleased with our first year's progress and feel very blessed to be here.

We've recently planted our fall garden and we are anxiously waiting to see what grows...we'll let you know how we make out.

In peace,

Mel & Patrick

Passive Solar Barn Plans

Our passive solar barn is designed to maximize light and store solar heat in the winter months. In the summer it minimizes light and solar heat, and also ventilates without a fan.

Raised Garden Beds

We are very pleased with the results of our raised bed gardening project. We will be building more raised beds as we expand the garden.

Chicken Coop & Chicken Dome

You may have wondered what became of our geodesic dome. We've turned it into an outdoor yard for our egg laying chickens. The chickens love it, plus it looks cool.

Rabbit as a Sustainable Food Source

Recently we began breeding rabbits as a source of food. One of our major goals is to stop relying on cow products and over-packaged, factory-raised meats. We believe that breeding rabbits for meat will provide us with a sustainable source of food, without negatively impacting the environment.

How to Build a Garden Fence

Every garden needs a fence to keep the critters out. As part of our first garden we erected a fence around the perimeter to keep out wild rabbits, dogs and free range cattle. In this article we share what we've learned about fencing.

The Newsletter is an "opt-in" monthly publication delivered via email to over 100 subscribers.

© 2006-2008 All rights reserved.

Our Email Newsletter

To subscribe please enter your e-mail address below.

Past Newsletters