half-acre homestead (28)

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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Virtual Presentation of The Half-Acre Homestead

I did a virtual presentation of my book, The Half-Acre Homestead on August 20, 2020) at Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of my favorite bookstores in the world. I usually do a bunch of bookstore appearances for each new book; this year I just got the first one done at City Lights, before Covid closed things down.

It was recorded. About 30 minutes are me doing a slide show from the book. The last 30 minutes are questions from the audience — what do I think of domes, A-frames, underground houses? How to build nowadays? Cob and strawbale and Hardy Board? Chickens. My image looks blurry (at least here) and I suspect this is because of our slow DSL connection. (C’mon Horizon, ride to our rescue!)

www.crowdcast.io/e/bookshop-santa-cruz-7

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Gimme Shelter: July 2020

This is a newsletter I send out maybe once a month. If you’d like to be on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


Even More True Today

“We must realize that the world as it is, isn’t worth saving; it must be made over.”

–John Rice, founder of Black Mountain College, 1933

The Half-Acre Homestead

It was, of course, completely unplanned, but we came out with this book about doing stuff at home at precisely the time that people had to start staying at home. There are dozens of things you can do en la casa, besides staring at screens of various sizes. Here are a few pages from the book:

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Pages 38-39 from Half-Acre Homestead, by Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

Get something done.  Bake bread, plant (more) vegetables.  Sprout some alfalfa seeds.  Start a small flock of chickens.  Make a table.  Knit a hat.  Fix that leaky faucet.  Straighten up that messy desk/workplace/shop.

One time, years ago, I was seriously depressed. I went out and spent several hours cleaning up my shop, and it really lifted my spirits. I often think about that — making lemonade…

I was scheduled to do two presentations at the Mother Earth News Faire in Nashville on May 16th, then flying to Italy to attend the La Biennale di Venezia, a bi-annual architectural exhibition in Venice opening May 23, where our book Shelter was being featured as having had an influence on architecture. Sigh.

“Hoping that endlessly won’t be for long.”

–Townes Van Zandt

Stretching – 40th Anniversary Edition

Drawings of right and wrong way to use a smartphoneIn 1979, I discovered a homemade book for athletes called Stretching. I was working as a carpenter and gardener, and the book helped me fix my back problem. I wasn’t actively publishing then, but I contacted the authors, who were living in Southern California. I called Bob Anderson and said, “What about stretches for carpenters, or truck drivers or waitresses?” (By then, they had sold 35,000 copies out of a garage at Bob’s folks’ house.)

Long and short of it: Bob and Jean moved to Bolinas, and over the course of 3 months, we added many more stretching routines, and Jean did all new drawings. We printed 50,000 copies on the first run, Random House was our distributor, and boom! It took off and never stopped, now at 3¾ million copies in 23 languages.

The big deal about this edition is the new section on smartphone problems, mainly bad posture, but also stiffness or pain. There are some simple suggestions for improving your posture, as well as new stretching programs for smartphone users.

Pub date: October, 2020

Note to our friends in other countries: We will be negotiating contracts for this edition in all languages.

My eBike

Specialized Turbo LevoA life changer. A Specialized Turbo Levo, with carbon fiber frame. After 25 years of competitive sports, I’ve grown tired of running the same trails, bored with lifting weights, dealing with the constant injuries. These days I want adventure when exercising, and the bike provides that. It’s not only got a brain, but it calls me to get out there. I can go so much further.

Plus it’s “pedal-assist,” meaning you’ve got to pedal. I’m going for 2-3-hour rides. I keep the level of exertion reasonable, and get to see a lot of the countryside while getting exercise. When I first got it, I was maxing out with “turbo” assistance, now I’m scaling back so I have to pedal harder and get a better workout.

Hidden bikeI’ve been riding out in the woods. When I get to a spot where I have to go on foot, I find a spot off the trail, lock the bike with a cable, disconnect the power, and cover it with foliage. Then I’ll put markers on the trail so I’ll know where it is upon return.

El Problema de Café

My friend Bruno Atkey told me that yerba mate tea has as much caffeine as coffee, without some of coffee’s side effects and, by golly, he’s right. I’ve started making it in our espresso machine, and it does have a stimulating kick. Only thing is, I enjoy the ritual of roasting and grinding beans, then trying to get espresso in crema form, then foamed milk for a latte — and zoom!

Author Michael Pollan experimented with giving up coffee, with interesting results: www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/02/10/803394030/michael-pollan-explains-caffeine-cravings-and-why-you-dont-have-to-quit

Foxes and Skunks and Spiders, Oh My!

In our book we show garden visitors: foxes, skunks, hawks, great blue herons, dozens of other bird species, butterflies, honeybees, spiders. Over the years I’ve come to realize that we’re only here temporarily, that the other forces of biological life, including termites, ants, and woodrats, are always chipping away at our self-made kingdom, and that eventually, they’ll take back over.

Pages 130-131 from Half-Acre Homestead, by Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

Shameless Commerce

“Shameless Commerce” is what the Car Talk brothers called their commercials, and I’ve always felt ambivalent about sales pitches in these newsletters or on my blog. But nowadays, we need to survive, so:

All our books are for sale at www.shelterpub.com.
There is a 30% discount for 2 or more books, with free shipping in the USA.
Fawns in field

A couple of little beauties patrolling the vacant spaces with their ma yesterday. Notice how deer always angle their ears at you like radar antennas.

Opium poppy Opium poppy Opium poppy

Papaver somniferum in the garden this week

On My Blog

“Take it easy (and) if you can’t take it easy, take it as easy as you can.”

–Shaggy Man, on the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City

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