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Building a Wood Shed with Upcycled Materials to Get Ready for Winter

Building a Wood Shed with Upcycled Materials to Get Ready for Winter

When we first bought our off-grid property, we decided to run it like a homestead – which means that we do everything that we can ourselves, we aim for zero waste, we use what we have and we buy little.

Now that we have been here a while we are slowly moving toward our dream of being 100% self-sufficient and eating only what we grow, catch and forage for thus reducing our waste.

When we decided to build a wood shed to store our wood for winter, we knew that it was going to be set back in the bush, no one can see it so it didn’t matter what it looked like.

We literally just said the other day that we need to start chopping wood to prepare for winter and wondered where we could find some tin to make the roof.

We used trees and manuka poles on our property for the sides and we have a small amount of tin that we put on the roof.

Then Mark’s workmate told him that he wanted his shed pulled down so he could build something else in its place so Mark went to his house and brought all the tin home – free of charge! The tin could have ended up in the landfill had we not salvaged it and upcycled it into our magnificent wood shed!

Now that we have our shed up and the first few pieces of wood in it, we can spend the rest of the summer and autumn making sure it is loaded to the top.

The really ironic thing is that we don’t even have a fireplace yet! We are going to put that in before winter so we are toasty and warm. The winter isn’t terribly cold here like it is in other countries but it still gets cold enough to light a fire. Because we live off the grid, we will use our fireplace to boil water, cook stews and curries and other delicious hearty, homestead meals.

What is something that you have upcycled recently?

When we first bought our off-grid property, we decided to run it like a homestead - which means that we do everything that we can ourselves, we aim for zero waste, we use what we have and we buy little. Our wood shed was no exception. #woodshed #homestead #homesteading #offgrid #winter
8 Reasons You Should Be Growing Your Own Herbs

8 Reasons You Should Be Growing Your Own Herbs

Herbs are plants that are traditionally used to enhance the flavor of foods as well as offer loads of health benefits. During spring and summer, they are found in most stores and farmers markets. If you are passionate about cooking and have been wanting to start a garden, then growing herbs is a great start. With the right amount of sun, water and organic soil, they are easy to grow.

Here are eight reasons you should be growing your own herb garden this year:

1. They’re Fresh

Buying herbs from the store may seem easy, but fresh herbs can quickly go bad. Having your own herb garden means you can have any herb you want on hand and fresh, without the need to substitute for dry ones.

2. They Save You Money

Herbs at grocery stores or even farmers markets can be quite pricey, especially if you are trying to make some delicious sauces or pesto that need larger quantities.

You can simply save money by pulling the herbs from your garden without the stress of running out, because more will continue to grow from your initial investment of seeds or starter plants.

3. They’re Healthy

Fresh herbs offer many health benefits. Most are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants and help aid in digestion. You can get all these benefits from your own herb garden without added pesticides.

4. They’re Beautiful and Smell Fabulous

Herbs are highly aromatic and pleasing to the eye. They make great additions if you want to add a few pops of color, like violet from lavender. Feverfew is another choice that looks like small daisies with a bright yellow center and white petals.

5. They’re Fun and Easy

Most herbs are quite easy to grow, which makes them less stressful and more fun compared to other plants in the garden. You can grow herbs outdoors or even inside on windowsills or other areas of the house that have adequate sunlight.

6. You Have More Variety

A home herb garden offers what most stores can’t and that is variety. There are hundreds of herbs to choose from and the choice is yours.

7. They’re Good for Pest Control

If you are having trouble keeping insects or other pests out of your garden, then plant herbs such as basil, lavender or rosemary. These herbs are known to repel pests due to their strong scents.

8. They Taste Exceptional

Fresh herbs offer the best flavour. That is because when picked, herbs release an oil that is responsible for their flavour. This oil breaks down fast, which is why herbs are best fresh and have such a rich flavour when first picked.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you should be growing your own herb garden. Your taste buds and wallet will thank you over time, and you will no longer need to make multiple trips to keep fresh herbs around the house.

Herbs are plants that are traditionally used to enhance the flavor of foods as well as offer loads of health benefits. During spring and summer, they are found in most stores and farmers markets. If you are passionate about cooking and have been wanting to start a garden, then growing herbs is a great start. With the right amount of sun, water and organic soil, they are easy to grow. #herbs #herbgarden #organic
Know What Your Family is Eating by Growing an Organic Garden

Know What Your Family is Eating by Growing an Organic Garden

When we moved to our homestead, putting in an organic garden was top priority.

I hate having to buy food at the supermarket knowing everything has been sprayed with pesticides and who knows what else so growing our own fruit and veggies is essential to not only our wallet, but our health too.

What is an organic garden?

Organic gardens produce plants and vegetables that are grown and handled naturally. Many people like us are concerned about the chemicals that are sprayed on commercial fruits and vegetables and the additives they’re given to keep them fresh so it’s time to do something about it. It’s really not that hard to build in your own organic garden – even if you don’t have a lot of space.

What are chemicals doing to our bodies?

We all know how fruits and vegetables are healthy for our mind and bodies, but what about those chemicals?

I wonder sometimes if they actually cancel out the benefits fresh veggies provide because they cause so much damage to our systems.

Serious illnesses like cancer are on the rise and I’m sure all the chemicals we consume play a big part in that.

What you see is what you get when you grow your own food

Growing your own food is essential to make sure that you’re eating fresh, natural foods to provide the necessary nutrients for your body.

Organic gardening doesn’t use any chemicals at all, so you can enjoy an all-natural diet.

Commercially grown fruits and vegetables have chemicals on them to keep the insects and other pests away from the food and the additives are what keep them fresher longer from the farm to our table.

You have the benefit of eating it straight away

Your own fruit and veggies will last long enough after you pick it until the time you go to eat it.  There’s also no need for chemicals to rid the plants of pests. All you need to do is grow natural bushes and plants in your garden that deter bad insects and attract the goo others – like bees!

There’s also no need to use artificial fertilisers to help the plants grow. You can use natural compost that you make yourself. All you need is leaves, grass clippings and table scraps to be stored for composting.

One of the biggest advantages of growing an organic garden is that because there are no chemicals used in your soil, there’s no danger to the plant life, wildlife, water supply, and humans.

Growing an organic garden allows you to put food on the table for your family and know exactly what you’re putting on the table instead of just taking a chance that you’re not putting anything harmful into your family’s mouths.

Take control and make sure your family is safe with the food you prepare for them. Do you want to risk harming them with traces of sprayed chemicals – or do you want them to benefit from the nutrients an organic garden provides?

Do you have a garden at home? What is your favourite thing to grow?

Organic gardens produce plants and vegetables that are grown and handled naturally. Many people like us are concerned about the chemicals that are sprayed on commercial fruits and vegetables and the additives they’re given to keep them fresh so it's time to do something about it. It's really not that hard to build in your own organic garden - even if you don't have a lot of space. #organic #garden #organicgardening
Healthy Homemade Granola Made From Scratch

Healthy Homemade Granola Made From Scratch

I love making my own healthy homemade granola. You can add whatever you want and there is much less sugar than the kind you would buy at the supermarket. I use a super simple recipe that is easy to make. My son, Eli helps me make it.

Ingredients:
2 TBsp Honey
2 TBsp Peanut Butter
3 c Rolled Oats
1 c Nuts and seeds 
1/2 c Dried Fruit

First mix the peanut butter and honey together until it makes a smooth paste then add the rolled oats. 

I just used normal oats but you can use gluten free or whole wheat if you prefer. I just used what I had on hand so I didn’t have to go to the shop to buy anything. Try and get all the oats fully coated in the peanut butter mix. 

Mix in  either regular, gluten free or whole wheat rolled oats

I then chopped the nuts.  This time I used walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews and sliced almonds but you can use whatever you have on hand. Macadamia and pecan nuts would be great too. For seeds I used pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and chia seeds. 

To be honest I don’t measure how much I put in, I just play it by ear and use what I’ve got and how much I want to save for next time. 

Put it on a roasting dish

Then I baked them on an oven tray at 150 degrees celsius (300F) making sure I turn them often. I have a really small gas oven so I have probably overloaded it a bit too much so in future I will try making it with 2 cups of oats instead of 3.

Once they are all nice and evenly toasted, I take them out of the oven and let them cool down. Once they are cool I will add my dried fruit. This time I added cranberries, apriots, dates, raisins and a bit of shredded coconut as well. Then store it all in an airtight container. I assume it will last a while but it never does in my house – it’s gone within days and I have to make a new batch!

Store in an airtight jar

So there you have it! My easy peasy homemade granola. It’s great for breakfast with fresh fruit and yoghurt or on it’s on as a healthy snack.

Do you make your own muesli or granola? Let me know in the comments if you have tried this.

I love making my own healthy homemade granola. You can add whatever you want and there is much less sugar than the kind you would buy at the supermarket. I use a super simple recipe that is easy to make. My son, Eli helps me make it.
How to Build Raised Garden Beds From Driftwood and Punga Trees

How to Build Raised Garden Beds From Driftwood and Punga Trees

 

 

Too often when homesteading we tend to overthink things and then make it more complicated than it needs to be. When we moved to this property there were no gardens, and nowhere to even put them. We could have spent heaps of money getting the timber for nice beds but we live in the bush so we wanted to utilise our natural surroundings and have our garden beds blend in. 

To do this, we first went to the beach and looked for suitable driftwood. The garden would be whatever height the wood was. We didn’t want to muck around with it too much. We cut a length that we thought would look good. We had no measuring tape so we tied flax leaves together to get a rough idea and cut 2 long lengths and 2 short ones. We still had to trim the ends off to make it fit perfectly then we screwed them together. Punga trees are native New Zealand fern trees and are a dime a dozen. They are EVERYWHERE! We couldn’t screw the punga trees because they are airy like a coconut husk – so we used wooden pegs to hold them instead. This is all untreated, natural wood so we know we will have to replace them every few years or so when they rot. 

We built 3 planter boxes of a similar size and alternated them punga, driftwood, punga and we will build another 3 raised garden beds at the end of summer. We really wanted to get a few gardens going ASAP.  Once the planter boxes were screwed together, we got a truckload of topsoil in to fill them.

Truck tipping dirt onto raised garden bed

And then the shoveling began! The golden rule on the homestead is that everyone must help so Eli had a ball helping shovel the dirt. He loved playing in it too, jumping up and down in the dirt pile. It’s so good for kids to be outside and get dirty. And it’s good for mama as well to get connected to the earth and nature.

Everyone must help - shoveling dirt

Once we got all the dirt level, it was time to plant. I have never done much planting before but this time I was head honcho because hubby was busy with other jobs. I planted corn, heaps of tomatoes that we will out into jars for winter, cucumber, capsicum, eggplant, chilli, peas and beans, celery, spring onions, spinach, and many more. It’s means so much more to me knowing that I have invested my blood, sweat and tears into this garden and providing healthy organic food for my family. There is no need for a gym membership on the homestead. Just get outside and start digging – that is all the exercise you will need.

It’s so easy to use what you have around to make your raised garden beds. You don’t have to over-complicate it. Getting driftwood off the  beach or using anything you have already on your property will be awesome and they will look like they have been there all along.

Often when homesteading we tend to overthink things and then make it more complicated than it needs to be. When we moved to this property there were no gardens, and nowhere to even put them. We could have spent heaps of money getting the timber for nice beds but we live in the bush so we wanted to utilise our natural surroundings and have our garden beds blend in.
7 Things I’ve Learned After 1 Month on Our Homestead

7 Things I’ve Learned After 1 Month on Our Homestead

It’s hard to believe we have only been living on our homestead for a month! It feels like we have been here all our lives. We have achieved so much in a short space of time but there’s still so much more to do. What have we learned after a month on the homestead?

1. Take small actions every day to make progress

Sometimes it feels like we haven’t made any progress – especially during the week when we had been working in town all day and then it was raining or we were tired after a busy day but we made sure we did something every day to keep the momentum going. We have a huge list of little jobs but most of them we can knock out in no time at all. These are things like building planter boxes and getting ready for growing veggies to hanging a mirror to fixing Eli’s spade handle. Every time we ticked something off the list it felt like we were getting stuff done and moving forward.

Our homestead is starting to take shape

2. Things do not always go to plan

Things not going to plan is a lesson we have learned many times in the first month. We wanted our outside side to be up in the first weekend but it rained so we got all our inside jobs done first. Then the shed was a huge mission to get up – which was a huge realisation that we had to let things happen at their own pace. When we couldn’t get the shed up, we had a make another plan and even now it is still not 100% finished. Another thing that did not go to plan was our solar power upgrade. We were without power for 6 days – we have a gas oven so we could still cook – but we had no internet and no way to charge our phones. No things do not always go to plan but we got there in the end!

The shed has not gone to plan but we are nearly there!

3. We can survive with less

Every time we moved we decluttered more stuff. Our house literally has 4 rooms – 2 bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen/living room. We don’t have space for more stuff! And being without internet for nearly a week really taught us that we don’t need much to survive and be happy.

4. Don’t overdo it

We have literally been thinking about this for 5 years and really planning this for over a year. When we first moved in we wanted to rush and get things done and we nearly burned ourselves out. We still work and then work harder on the weekends. Our poor son has been pretty neglected but he has found ways to entertain himself. We get him to help – he uses the power drill, digs in the garden and uses his dump truck to cart dirt to where we need it. On the weekends we made an effort to take breaks, go for swims in the (freezing!!) river, go on bush walks and hang out at the beach.

We make sure we take breaks from the homestead and go and play at the beach or river

5. Make a list and tick things off as you do them

Ticking things off a list has been great for building momentum and keeping morale up. It can feel like progress is slow sometimes but as I said in #1, when we take a small action every day we look back over the month we have been here and are amazed at how much we got done. We had a huge list – but we have slowly ticked everything off and now we will make a new list!

6. Don’t try to do everything at once

It’s hard to not be disappointed when progress feels slow and we want everything done TODAY. We wanted veggies growing and to get pigs and chickens, get solar power and put a fireplace in. We have had to prioritise and know that we will get there eventually. We moved in a bit late to plant a garden but we did it anyway. We slowly chipped away at tasks – some things have taken longer than we planned but others have been much quicker – we do actually have veggies growing which we thought we would only have done next year.

Our new solar panels are amazing - we have another one on the other side of the house as well

7. Ask for help

This has been a big one. You can’t do everything on your own and sometimes you need to ask for help. We got help building our shed and with the solar power. We realised we couldn’t do the shed on our own so we found a local person to help us. This has been crucial as getting the shed up meant we could move some of the boxes and now our house looks less like a storage unit and more like a home.

What lessons have you learned on your homestead in the time that you have been there?

7 things I learned after a month living on a homestead

4 Ways to Eliminate Plastic from your Homestead and go Zero-Waste

4 Ways to Eliminate Plastic from your Homestead and go Zero-Waste

Going zero-waste can be very overwhelming when you are just getting started. It can be hard to know where to even start at all so you end up doing nothing and carrying on the way you have been. You may also think, how can one person make any difference?

But let me tell you, every little tiny bit helps. Every time you say no to single use plastic you are helping the planet.
 
 

Shopping Bags

I was one of those people who would always get to the cashier and think, “Ahh, my bags are still in the car!” And then get plastic ones. We used them for rubbish bags so I convinced myself that it was ok. But since I participated in “Plastic-Free July”, I haven’t forgotten my bags even once. Something twigged in my brain and now I always remember to take them.

My town is going plastic bag-free so a few weeks ago we got together as a community and made our own ‘Boomerang’ Bags! The idea is that you are given one when you buy something and then you ‘boomerang’ it back somewhere else. I always keep reusable bags in my handbag and pull them out all the time. I even pack my lunch and bring that with my in my Boomerang bag. It’s not only groceries that we use a lot of plastic but every time you buy anything – clothes, books, make-up etc – you are often given a plastic bag. But where does it go when you get home? Usually in the rubbish and off to the landfill.

The whole town got together to make these reusable bags to replace single use plastic bags

Fruit and Veggies

I recently grabbed some smaller reusable bags for my veggies. The supermarket will take off the weight of the bag so you don’t have to pay for it. I picked up a pack of 4 bags but I’ve seen heaps of ways to make your own on Pinterest if you have a sewing machine. Of course,it makes more sense to grow your own veggies at home than to buy them. Even if you don’t have much space, you can still grow a few things. We have just moved into our new place and while we’ve already got veggies growing, they aren’t ready to eat yet so we have to buy them for now.

Buy or make your own reusable bags for veggies to avoid plastic bags at the supermaket

Beauty Products

I have recently started using shampoo bars instead of my usual one packaged in a plastic bottle.  It took a while to get used to it because normal shampoo is full of chemicals that strip the natural oil out of your hair and then you use conditioner to put it back. I don’t wash my hair every day and my shampoo bars are lasting for ages. I take them out of the shower every time I’ve used them so they dry properly and last longer.

I’m really interested in making my own beauty products so I will be posting blogs in the future that will go into more detail. So far on my list of things to try are: deodorant, tooth powder, chapstick, facial cleanser, sunscreen, lavender body butter, mascara and sugar body scrub. Watch this space!

I use shampoo bars to cut down on plastic

Buying in Bulk

It’s pretty hard to be completely zero-waste. I decided to make my own granola so I wouldn’t have to buy it. But guess what? All the ingredients come in packets. The oats, different types of nuts and seeds, cranberries, coconut….I was devastated when I got home and saw all the rubbish! But I have to keep things in perspective. I have enough ingredients to make way more than I would buy in a packet thus saving rubbish over time. And I learned a lesson in sourcing certain ingredients online that would come in more sustainable packaging.

Another thing we did a while ago is switch to powdered milk. One packet of milk lasts for weeks, we don’t buy any of those plastic milk bottles and we get to drink milk stored in beautiful glass flip top bottles. I don’t drink a lot of milk myself – a bit in coffee but mostly I use it for baking so it lasts a long time. Yes, I still have the packet that the milk comes in to throw away but that’s way better than all the plastic bottles I used to throw away.

Switching to powdered milk has saved us 4 2L plastic bottles per week

Even if you don’t plan to go all in and try to be completely zero-waste and plastic free, just doing these 4 things regularly will help reduce your rubbish.

Let me know in the comments what you are doing to eliminate plastic from your home!

4 Ways to Eliminate Plastic from your Homestead and go Zero-Waste

Create simple shelving from pallets

Create simple shelving from pallets

When we first moved in to Holder’s Hideaway there was hardly any storage so we planned to create simple shelving from pallets so we could unpack some of our boxes. We have a few cupboards in the kitchen and one in the bathroom and that was about it.

We have been planning our homestead for years – long before we ever bought it – so we have been stashing all the pallets we came across. They have now come in very useful. It was easy enough to put up shelving in the kitchen and in my home office (which is in the lounge). We just needed something that looked tidy but wasn’t too difficult to make.

First we measured the space and cut the pallets to size.

Sawing pallets to make DIY shelves

This took a bit of trial and error. The original shelf we made was massive and way too big for the space. So we changed the plan and tried a smaller board.

Bare space in Kitchen for shelving

Nothing fancy at all but they are exactly what we need them for. They look much better than the bigger ones we originally had. It is a pallet board with 2 triangle wedges screwed in under them for support.

Simple shelves made out of pallets

Here they are with our spices on them. They fit the space perfectly and now they look like they were always a part of the house.

Shelves with spices, tea and olive oil

I’ve always wanted my cast iron pans on display where I could see them. I love cooking with them so much and got sick of digging around in the cupboard to find the one I wanted. This way they are all within easy reach and it saves room in the cupboard for other things, like my nutri bullet and homemade natural ice cream maker.

Our cast iron frying pans are hanging from shelves we built out of pallets

My home office was going to be a different story. I needed something strong that would hold my books up and stop them falling off onto the floor. We are lucky enough to have amazing native bush on our property that we intend to use to our full advantage. Why go and spend hundreds of dollars on things that we can make ourselves? That’s what homesteading is all about, right? It’s about being self-sufficient and using what you have on hand.

We cut down a manuka pole and scraped the bark off. Then we cut 12 pieces out of the one pole to the right size and screwed them into the pallet boards. They match the decor perfectly and we love the rustic look.

Shelves for my home office with Manuka book ends

Manuka is a stunning wood and we have it in abundance so we have used it throughout our house. Pallets are made with rough sawn wood and most of them aren’t even straight so building a perfect shelf was never going to happen. Once the shelves are loaded up with stuff you can’t even tell anyway.

Manuka book ends for pallet shelves

It’s easy to get stuck on social media and looking at the beautiful shelves on Pinterest or Instagram but we would never have got started if we worried about it being perfect. They are rustic and they may not suit everyone but they suit our home. We could still be sitting here surrounded with boxes but instead we have amazing shelves that we build ourselves with a few old pallets that we got for free!

Shelving doesn't have to be fancy. Use what you have at home and collected to make shelves from pallets.

Welcome to Holder’s Hideaway!

Welcome to Holder’s Hideaway!

We are Mark, Jilanne and Eli Holder and we live off-the-grid in Charleston on the West Coast of New Zealand.

 

How Holder’s Hideaway Came About

Mark, a South African, has always wanted to live in the wilderness and have his own piece of land that he could grow food, hunt, fish and live a sustainable life. We searched the whole world over and finally decided to settle in New Zealand, where Jilanne is from and where Eli was born.

 

After 3 years living in Matamata, NZ, in the North Island of New Zealand we saw the perfect off-grid hideaway on Trade Me. We packed up the family – Eli was 2 at the time and our cat and moved down to the South Island. Mark is a huge fan of Josh James, The Kiwi Bushman and watched a lot of his YouTube videos so he knew that the West Coast was where he wanted to be. We looked at properties in the Far North of New Zealand but then decided to head to the West Coast.

 

We moved to Westport NZ to follow our dream of living off the grid
The past year has not been without struggles. Even as little as 3 months ago we thought owning our own property would never happen. It was meant for other people but not for us. But it’s amazing how when the stars align, EVERYTHING falls into place.

 

We arrived in Westport on October 27th 2017 with the intention of buying our home within 6 months. We took over the house on October 31st, 2018. It took a bit longer than we intended but here we are.

 

Living off the grid

Our home was previously a holiday home and most of the appliances are for an RV or motorhome. It is 100% off the grid. We have a tiny TV, 3 tiny solar panels, and a 10,000 litre water tank.

 

We have to be careful when charging our phones and even having showers. You don’t realise that everytime you turn on a tap or flush the toilet you are using power to run the water pump. We turn everything off when we aren’t using it – even the Wifi!

 

Our washing machine isn’t hooked up yet because we don’t have the power capacity to run it. We will be upgrading our solar power system but until then I have been doing laundry at the laundromat until our generator arrives.

 

Our hot water, tiny RV fridge, and tiny oven all run on gas. When we upgrade our solar panel system we will Our tiny kitchen with Gas fridge, oven and stovebe able to run our big fridge and freezer. For now though, we are doing fine with what we have. We are lucky that it’s coming into summer so it’s lighter for longer in the evenings so we still make power and we don’t really need the lights on.

 

Our Adventure

This is an adventure and one we have been planning for a long time. It’s exactly how we imagined it would be. We still have a lot of work to do.

 

First we need to put up an outside shed so we can get rid of the last few boxes – our house will feel like a home and not like a storage locker!

 

Then the real work will begin – growing food and becoming real homesteaders at Holder’s Hideaway!
We're the Holders and we are excited to share our off grid, homesteading adventure with you. Come with us while we learn how to live sustainably generating our energy from the sun and water from the rain. We can't wait to get started!

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