Note: Jim and Laurie were the first Homesteaders of the year by Mother Earth News in August 2012. This house is on the 2012 Solar & Green Building Tour. See Tour Details...
Our first conversation in 1983 about “shelter and our options” set the tone for our relationship and many of our projects trying to live sustainably in a world gone awry. The Nearings became our beacon, as we have tried to lead by example and teach others that it is still possible to live a good life in this more “modern” era without trashing our planet.
As we planned and built our homestead, I wrote a collection of articles, mostly for the NOFA NY newsletter (original references remain). Someday I may update and edit what I have written and finish the story with some missing details, but now I want to share the articles with a broader group. I have sorted these into the primary topics we focused on while homesteading twenty-one years on the mountainside in Meco, NY: Shelter, Food and Energy.
Homesteading outlines the diversity of homesteading, not to define it, but to stake out the direction and intent of my writing: my hope to provide a seductive and personal account of homesteading life as we live it here, in the hope that it may entertain, inform and perhaps prove useful to others. I also share the difficulty we had finding suitable land over twenty years ago.
Homesteading Design relates how Laurie and my first discussion on shelter in 1983 and later reading of Helen and Scott Nearing’s book, “Living the Good Life” helped to chart our path to building the environmentally friendly, straw-bale house we would finally call home in the Fall of 2000.
Land Ho, We develop a greater appreciation of our land and its resources - not all trees are equal. As we plan to build the shop, a better understanding of what we need and what the land offers, pushes us to change our house plans.
Theory and Practice Our observation of local barns leads us to a full foundation instead of piers. We hurdle one of the unknowns when we get the shop’s building permit and we start imagining a old-fashioned barn raisin’.
Practice Fosters Perfection They built houses and barns the way the did back in the day for some very good reasons – conventional vs. timber frame. We finish the shop’s foundation and start felling, milling and joining the over 250 major pieces needed next!
The Barn Raisin’ In the Spring of 1995, not fully prepared, we sent out invitations for August 19th. We continued “manufacturing” timbers through the Spring and Summer and prepared what was needed for the “one-day” event.
Rooted in Soil Working in nature causes one to pause: Musings on our short existence relative to Earth and Time, here in the Adirondacks.
Building a Straw-bale, Timber-frame House Our focus shifts to house building, with timber frame and straw-bale insulation. When you build unconventionally, even the building permit takes more time than you’d expect!
See 2007 video of Jim and Laurie relating the experience of building their home, courtsey of Christian Grieco and Optimus One, LLC.
Beans, Beans,the Magical Fruit Becoming bean independent may be as important as becoming energy or financially independent. Bean variety and experience are important factors in success.
Solar Dehydrators How to build and use a solar dehydrator, including tips on building with used materials.
Preserving the Homestead Harvest Energy conservative ways to store food, including a quick look at some of the simple techniques in the very excellent book, “Keeping Food Fresh: Old World Techniques and Recipes” (Chelsea Green Publishers).
Local Food and Delicious, Too Basil, onions, potatoes, eggs and garlic, these are some of our favorite things. And, here is one of our favorite recipes.
Garlic We grow a lot of garlic; it stores well and is part of our cycle of life here on the mountain.
Excerpts from the Homestead Diary Here are a few insights into our life on the Homestead, Farmers Markets in Gloversville and France, and how things ought to be with chickens.
Gloversville Gets a Co-op One step at a time results in the unlikely accomplishment of a viable and wonderful Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market opening on July 22, 2009.
Homestead Energy - Electricity We tried, but couldn’t live without electricity. The pivotal epiphany was our need for an automatic washing machine. Still, we live well on less than 2 kWh per day (700 kWh/Yr), a good bit less than the national average of 10,656 kWh/Yr (2001)!
Heating with Wood Firewood, in all its species, from woodlot management is the most sustainable. Creosote myth is uncovered and what to do and look for to be sure it doesn’t burn you. Plus a little advice on selecting a wood stove.
Jim Strickland and his partner Laurie Freeman are living the good life as sustainably as they can on their mountainside homestead in Meco, NY. You may reach them through member email or comments to this article.