half-acre homestead (30)

Dieter’s Compost Bins

My neighbor Dieter came over and looked at my compost bins (with adjustable sides) a few months ago and then built these — a great improvement over my funky bins. He said he added the concrete around the bottom because the rats (or skunks) were getting in. The idea here is that you add the slotted boards as you build the compost pile higher. The screened mesh keeps out varmints from the top.

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Greenhouse on Our Homestead

Greenhouse as shown in our latest building book, The Half-Acre Homestead. Roofing is double-wall polycarbonate, which has a 10-year guarantee and comes from Farmtek Farm Supplies.

Windows are salvaged. Back wall consists of homemade adobe bricks. For these, I used a Cinva-Ram block press: one part cement to 12 parts soil (from when we dug our shallow well). With the Cinva-Ram, you compress each block. The cement makes them water-resistant. The adobe wall retains heat from the day during the night. The solar fan on the roof has worked flawlessly for over 10 years

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Masked Bandidos in the Chicken Yard

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Two young raccoons got into the chicken yard by ripping a hole in rusty chicken wire the other night. Luckily I went out to close in the chickens in their (secure) coop before raccoons got to them. I have a lot of respect for these guys, called in Spanish mapaches (pronounced mah-PAH-chays). Like coyotes, they’re survivors. I’ve patched the roof.

When you live on a piece of land like this, multiple critters are constantly seeking food. In our book The Half-Acre Homestead, I list all these would-be intruders, along with various methods and traps for controlling them.

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Half-Acre Homestead in Boise, Idaho

Hi Lloyd,

I’ve attached a few pics of our half-acre homestead project here in Boise, Idaho. My wife and I bought a .42-acre lot with a fixer-upper house in the heart of town 5 years ago. We also added two beautiful girls, Willow (6) and Zoe (7 mos).

We focused on the house first, with a goal of having a net-zero house … and we are pretty close thanks to it after gutting and replacing all the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. This includes a bad-ass Mitsubishi heat pump, solar array that is net metered, heat pump water heater, all LED lighting, induction range, and lots of insulation.

My family deserves a lot of credit living thru the remodel process (is it ever really done?) and dealing with their carpenter dad that has big ideas sometimes.

The gas company came to replace our old meter and I just told them to pull it, we don’t need it anymore. That felt good.

The last 2 years we have focused a lot on the food production side, building up soil. We build a hugelkultur bed out of some trees we took down, and this has become a great spot for annuals, zucchini, squash and particularly melons … they love it. It also has a lot of mushrooms that fruit from the rotting wood below when the weather is right.

We get lots of water from our irrigation ditch as this area was all orchards before WW2, and Boise has an elaborate system of irrigation ditches all over town.

After reading The Half-Acre Homestead, I built up a compost area out of job site scraps and just poured piers for our chicken coop/garden storage area. The piers are big because I plan on adding a green roof like your coop.

I could go on and on, but I want you to know that books like yours have been a real lifeline for a builder like me, especially out here in Idaho. Folks like yourself, and Foster, Bruno, et al have been a great inspiration, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

Take care and come visit sometime,
T.J., Missy, Willow, and Zoe Sayles

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Pacific Northwest Greenhouse

Yo Lloyd,

You’re the man. Love the newsletter, don’t have any social media, so keep it up. My wife got me The Half-Acre Homestead for Christmas and used it for inspiration for my summer greenhouse project. Hope for many years of season extension up here in the inland northwest. Keep up the good work.

–Taylor Goates

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