Posted by & filed under water.

You move into a brand-new house.  Go to the faucet and turn on the water.  The water looks dirty and smells like a bottle of chlorine filled with dirt. What do you do?

Bottle Filled With Chlorine

City water has to meet certain standards. As the water sits in the lines, it can grow bacteria. That is where a lot of the color and taste and odor come from. You call your local municipality that provides water to you and you asked them if the water safe. Of course they tell you it meets the safe drinking water act requirements.


What is that mean to you? It means that the water quality at your house must have chlorine in it. It must also have less than a certain amount of bacteria in it to be considered safe which is 500 units of contaminants per milliliter. A milliliter is equal to 1/1000  of a liter. So that is not a very large amount of contaminants in the water.

So how can it smell and taste so bad?
Answer: The chemicals and water treatment process combined with the pipes that deliver it to your house.

For you the best choice to create better water for your house is  to install to whole house filters in series.

  • First filter cartridge will be a 5 µ filter.
  • The second filter cartridge will be a carbon filter.

This will remove the sediment and taste and odor.


For you the best filter cartridge will be a 20 inch Big Blue filter cartridge. You want a high flow whole house filter double 20” x 5”cartridges.  It comes with two housings and will remove hundreds of contaminants from your water. The first filter will be a solid carbon cartridge for removing volatile compounds like insecticides, pesticides and solvents. The second filter cartridge you want to have a stack cartridge that has a 1 µ pad then ceramic balls, granular activated carbon or GAC then another one micron pad. And that’s all you’ll need with the exception of replacement cartridges.


Want to make sure that sure house water pressure is between 40 and 80 PSI. Your filter cartridges depending on quality of water will be about 160,000 gallons. That is if you use 6 to 10 gallons per minute. If you have experience doing plumbing you can do this yourself.   If you have threaded fittings and access to shutting the water off to your house it will be simple.


If you are unsure hire a plumber. When you contact the plumber ask for a discount if you purchase the filter system from them.


At the same time ask for a filter monitoring system. It should be inexpensive and have a warning light that mounts to your refrigerator with the magnet. This is a simple easy to operate and change filters in a few minutes.


Keep extra filters on hand, ensure your plumber teaches you how to maintain it and enjoy your clean great tasting water.


Healthy water helps provide for a healthy life. The cleaner your food and water that you eat and drink the healthier you will be.  Any questions leave a comment at the end of this report. Follow our website and our blog so that you can learn more about your healthy life.


Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on

Posted by & filed under Farm Equipment.

In this article, you are going to learn what a garden tractor can be used for, and why it will help lower your work load and keep you safer.

A Garden Tractor is more than just a riding lawn mower.

A garden tractor has the ability to operate attachments for:

  • Digging
  • Plowing snow
  • Blowing snow
  • Disc harrows
  • Spring tooth harrows
  • Front loader
  • Small backhoe
  • Splitting firewood
  • Rototilling larger areas
  • Seeders
  • Brush cutters
  • Lawn mowing
  • Maintaining dirt/gravel roads and ditches
  • Dirt auger
  • More

A Lawn tractor will mow the lawn and pull a wagon for some landscaping tools and materials.  When it comes to maintaining your small scale farm or garden, there truly is no comparison.  While taking care of a private island, we used a garden tractor.  We purchased our tractor for just over $3,000 used.  It was serviced prior to us purchasing it and came these items:

  • Front end loader
  • Drag blade
  • Spring tooth harrow
  • Brush hog
  • Box blade
  • Owners and technical manual


I had been using a small lawn tractor to mow the lawn at our house and the community properties.  The problem that I ran into with mowing our lawn with a riding lawn mower, was the brakes.  The brakes were not that efficient.

As you can see from this picture, our lawn was very steep.

On the second time that I started mowing the hill, the brakes had gotten wet.  While coming down the hill, instead of slowing down, the riding lawn mower started picking up speed with the brake pedal fully pushed in!  Before I went over the cliff and into the bay, I turned the steering wheel hard left.  I was going about 15 miles per hour, but the mower overturned and stopped on top of me, but short of the drop off point.

It was also at this time that I found out that the automatic shut off switched didn’t work either.  The mower blades were still turning, the engine was running.  I had to turn the ignition switch off by hand, and when the blades quit turning, I was able to push the mower off of me.

I know, not too smart on my part, but that is when we started using the garden tractor instead.  The tractor has a manual transmission.  Controlling speed with the transmission is a huge benefit of a garden tractor.  Here are some more benefits that will save you time and back ache:

  • Power control
  • Dig with the front bucket
  • Move heavy objects
  • Load trucks and trailers
  • Dig fence post holes
  • Auger out holes for planting trees
  • Dig footings for your buildings/lean-to
  • Low gear, low speed for loading/unloading a trailer while walking beside the tractor

You have learned many of the benefits of owning a garden tractor, and how it will not only save your back.  You have also learned some of the ways to keep you safe because of the way it operates.

When you decide on which garden tractor to purchase, do not overlook the used ones.  As they are maintained properly, they will last for decades.

Take action, and get to work!  Using a good garden tractor with all of the attachments that you need will make work more enjoyable and rewarding.

Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on

Posted by & filed under Composting.

Green manure is another name for cover crops and most organic farmers grow green manure for the following reasons.

  • Organic pest control
  • Organic weed control
  • Erosion prevention
  • Disease prevention
  • Adding nutrients to the soil.

So for this article, imagine that you live in dry climate and want to enrich your soil. Since you are organic farmer you decide to solve the problem with green manure. Next you decide on Alfalfa as it has very deep roots. These deep roots bring up nutrients from deep down in the earth to enrich your top soil.

Here is a picture of a Healthy Alfalfa field after growing a green manure crop last fall.  The cows give their three tails out of three tails swishing approval.

So here is the process on how to grow green manure.


First, you have to plant the seeds or transplant seedlings to grow into green manure.  Sowing (a fancy word for seeding) your seeds is pretty simple.  Have you ever reseeded any spots in your lawn?  It is a simple process.

  • Gently work up the soil with a rake for small areas.  For larger areas, we would use a piece of equipment like a spring tooth harrow  (an older tool and is used to loosen soil prior to planting).  There is also a disc harrow, that is a bit better, but we always used a spring tooth harrow.
  • Now it is time to throw or “cast” your seed. Then you cover up your seeds to prevent the birds from eating it all!
  • You want to plant your green manure crops in plenty of time to allow them to be healthy prior to frost, generally about 4 weeks before a “killing frost”.
  • If you have row crops, you can start your cover crop before harvest time up to 4 weeks before harvest, by planting in between rows.
  • Now it is time to take care of your green manure crop
    • Mow your alfalfa cover crops to keep them manageable.  You want them to stay growing and flexible, and it also helps increase the growth of the roots
    • Some clover plants grown in garden pathways need to be mowed on a regular basis otherwise they will compete with vegetables and other flowers
    •  Be sure to water cover crops during times of drought.



Now the final step in how to grow green manure, kill them.

I know that it sounds harsh, but here is what and why you do that:

  • Keep them from setting or (going to) seed
  • That prevents the top growth from going crazy and becoming “woody”
  • Cut them down to the base of the plant
  • The woody plants do not compost as fast, and are more difficult to cut up with your tiller or by digging them up by hand.
  • After a couple of days, when the leaves and plants are brown and dry, dig them in or till them into the ground.
  • Keep them cut low by mowing over the winter. Do not let your cover crop “manure” get too big.  It is just more work for you.


It will not take too long for the crops to decompose when you follow this plan of action.

It is best to wait 2 to 3 weeks before planting your vegetables after burying a green manure crop that consisted of grass plants.  Some cover crops will hinder germination of your regular crops if planted too soon.


This is a basic guideline for you in how to grow green manure.  Growing vegetables organically is a great way to save money and energy.

You can learn more by signing up here for our newsletter, and get a gift to help you increase profits from your home and garden.


Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on

Posted by & filed under Permaculture.

Is there really a food shortage in sustainability?  The answer is no.  I am going to share with you some amazing facts that I have known for a while, but have not shared.

When I first got out of the service, and was living on Oahu I became homeless.  The housing was expensive and even though I had a job, the money was not that great.  I could rent a room or a couch every once in a while so that I could stay clean, but to eat, that was another story.  There was fast food, but I could only eat so much of it, not a steady diet.

I would pick up coconuts on the beach, but too much coconut would cause me to have to go to the bathroom a lot.   After I had not eaten for a couple of days, I started looking in dumpsters at different grocery stores and restaurants.  The “throw away” food was tremendous!   Some of the food was fresh and of great quality.  Potatoes that were a little small, fresh heads of lettuce, tomatoes and even boxes of bananas that were just starting to turn too ripe for their sales bins.

What brought this back to the front of my mind, was a story on CBS Sunday Morning on 18 November 2012.  They shared how much food is thrown out annually by Grocery Stores, Restaurants, as well as by food left in the fields and plowed under because of the lack of transportation.  There are actually TONS of food left to rot in this nation.

Sustainability, to me, means to be able to maintain an operation or a way of life.  Sustainability is a way to keep life healthy and happy through proper nutrition.  This includes people, animals, water, food and the earth.  There has been much talk about energy, unemployment, food, water, air, land and life in general in the last year here in the United States because of the elections.

But now that the elections are over, do we not pay attention to the same things anymore?  Sure, there are many other things that are in the news, but nothing hits home more than being hungry, truly hungry to the point that there is no food in the house.  How do you feed your children?  Where do you go for help if you have a “Special needs” diet? has shared some more information on food waste in this story here.  With all of this waste, what is it that we can do to help feed all of the people that are going without.  Lots of things, but the most difficult of all will be this:




Yes, I am talking about making the things that are increasing our costs for living and creating waste in our lives and those who are looking for help.  Here is a list of items that have been used to cut energy costs, and to stop food waste all while helping feed people who need a hand up.


Sustainability and Food waste is greatly affected when you buy local food.  Another great way to lower waste and make a great contribution to the health of not only your family and the environment, as well as your money, is to grow your own food.

Food4Wealth is a way of growing your own food that is less time consuming and you do not have to dig up the earth.  It has been a great way for my wife and I to grow 2 gardens this year, both in extreme conditions.

Get involved and be part of the solution.  You never know who you may meet and become great friends with while you are volunteering or growing your own food.  Life is a Journey, embrace it!


Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on

Posted by & filed under Land.

When you go looking at undeveloped land there are some things that you need to be thinking about that you do not have to take in to account when buying a house.

TRUST me….We had to learn this ourselves and having this knowledge sooner would have helped sooooo…

Here are the key things that you are looking for when you go look at land:

1.     Is there a place that you can build on?

-Yes, some people will tell you that you can just get someone to dig out a place for you it will be easy but remember that it will cost more money to do that along with the cost of any kind of structure you have to put up to prevent erosion. AND if you will have to have a septic system, some EPA regulations stipulate that the land cannot be disturbed for a certain amount of time prior to putting in the septic system.


2.  How steep will the driveway have to be and how far will it have to go in?

– Having a steep drive way is not such a great idea unless you live where you never see snow or ice. You want easy access and remember a driveway costs money so the longer it is or the more they have to dig out the more it will cost!

3.  What is the lay of the land?

– How usable is it going to be for you? The views might be beautiful but can you use more of it than just to build a house? How does the water flow? You do not want to end up in an area that water will sit (it does not have to be considered a flood zone for you to have water issues). Is there enough timber to have a fire if you are using wood heat for your home?


4.  How does the land feel?

– When you step on the land what is your first felling? Make sure you include that in your notes on each piece of property.


5.  Driving in to the piece of property what kind of feeling do you get?

– PLEASE understand that when you are buying undeveloped land in a more rural area, things are MUCH different than you might be accustomed to. Know that people in that kind of area look out for each other and are not always the most friendly at first or they can be the most amazing person you have ever meet, you just never know what you are going to get.


Remember they are on their toes and do not know you from Jack. They have probably lived there their whole life or they have moved out there for similar reasons you are moving, to get away from the craziness and get back to a more homesteading lifestyle. If you like the land ask the agent it they know the neighbors. Just do a little digging and find out what you can about them for many reasons and make sure you meet the people who could be your new neighbors if you can.


6. Is this piece of property going to meet ALL of your needs?

– Again why notes are SUPER important.


The deal is that sometimes you have to use your notes of places to do some eliminating of properties. There IS a perfect piece of property for each family and what might meet your needs might not meet my needs.

There also might be some things that you have to either gain or lose to get that perfect piece of property.


***Finding YOUR perfect piece of land might take longer than you expected wanted it to***

PLEASE respect your agent enough to be honest about how you feel with the land they showed you. If you do not give them clear reasons you did not like something you are being part of the problem. They cannot help you find what you are looking for if you are not communicating with them to help them understand.


Another thing we did is even if we did not like the area and knew that we would not be buying land there we always offered to buy lunch. Yes this is their job however they spend a lot of money out of their pocket on gas, tires and matinance on their vehicle. They also spend a lot of time looking through listings to weed out things. So it goes back to the golden rule… Treat others how you would want to be treated.

Understand that it is OK if you do not find something right away. It took us looking at land for 9 months in 3 different states for that perfect piece of land. I also know that it is exhausting, frustrating and I would be a liar if I said that I loved this process because I DO NOT!

You have to think about it like this… “In the long run I KNOW I will be happy that I did this”, it is kind of like going to the gym. NO ONE like going to the gym at first until you get in the rhythm and then some days you still hate it, but you feel good and have more energy after you do it.


This process is stretching yourself to get to a better place and kind of like a cleansing process, so with that knowledge it makes the process easier (I said easier not perfect). When you take the time to know that this process is not always easy on you or your family it gives you more grace to deal with times that are stressful.


Keep in mind that we as Americans for the past few generations have basically been handed everything (Yes, I know not all of us have. Some of us have had hard or difficult upbringings but most of us do not have to deal with what some people have to deal with in other places of the world).


That is why it is soooooo hard to basically reprogram ourselves and re figure out what is important, what we can live with and what we can actually live without (you would be surprised to learn what you do not miss when you do not have it for a while).


Example: my grandmother, she built a house when she was young and she had no plumbing in that house until she could afford it. Now days they would NEVER let people do that. I just hope you are getting the idea.  We buy something before we even have money for it, so now we are living in a place where we wait for nothing. I mean I have gotten pissed because I sat in the drive through line for 3 min before and I had to catch myself… We have grown accustomed to everything being instant, right when I want it, right now!


Just beginning to take action is the first step. There are SO many people who have a greater knowledge base about this than me; I am just one person sharing my story and what I have learned.


Every day is a new day with new things to learn and areas to grow. You CAN do this even though it seems like you may not be able to pull it off. There have been many days that I have told God… “I am not sure we can do this.” His answer to me was “I would not have put this on your heart if it was impossible.”

I will leave you with this… The knowledge that if God has placed this desires on your heart it is not without reason and knowledge that you can do this with His help.

Keep moving forward,



P.S. If you have anything to add to this about your experience or if you have ideas and comments please leave a comment. Do not be greedy with your knowledge, someone just might need what you have learned to help them get where they need/what to be.


AND…If you want more info on a homesteading lifestyle, how to have an organic garden or just knowledge period sign up to get more info here.

Posted by & filed under Land.

Alrighty… now that we have the money part out of the way with land let’s get down to business! The first thing you MUST understand about buying raw land is that it is not in any way shape or form like buying a house.

What I mean by that is, when buying a house you can look at 15 in a day if you start early and look for about a week and find something you like (sometimes due to circumstances that is not always how it goes but for us that is pretty much what happened). With land it is very different!!! A LOT of energy goes into finding land, the whole thing is really different.

The first questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Are you staying in your same area or moving to another area?
  • Are you staying in the same state or moving to another state?
  • If you are moving to another state, do you know anyone there?
  • If you move to another state have you ever visited there before?

This is why I ask those questions. We moved to another state where, yes, we had family. First we moved to Colorado where I am from and have family. Well my husband had never been to the West before and the West is home to my heart – Colorado, the Rockies and just everything about it.


We moved in with family to save money (if you can it is a good temporary, and I MEAN temporary avenue but if we could have afforded it we probably would have rented something, but again we wanted to save money) just know that living alone and then moving in with family is yet a whole new set of stress that you might not want to encounter.


Long story short everything we loved in Colorado we could not afford and what we did like in our budget had been or was on fire (we were there during the Waldo Canyon Fire and we lived in Colorado Springs). That FREAKED my husband out and he wanted to head back east where there was more greenery and less fires. When you are married you have to keep in mind that you BOTH have to be happy in the long run and feel good about the place you have picked.

So we moved to Tennessee where he had family and I have friends. This much moving DOES put a stress on your marriage and yourself, consider yourself warned!

I will do another whole post about the stress of moving and the adjustment of this process but let me get back to land.

Landing in west Tennessee we figured, well… we are already here so let’s go ahead and look here for land. We did not spend too much energy looking in the Western part of TN. The area was nice but we BOTH have to feel good in a place.

I finally told my husband that we would compromise… He could have the rain and greenery but I HAD to have the Mountains period! So we started looking all over the northern part of TN. We looked from the Jackson area all the way over to Kings Port TN.


Of course we have narrowed our search down to the area about 45 min north of Knoxville. We are close enough to his family and my dad, step-mom, brother and other family live in NC (yep, half the family in CO and the other in NC) so we are close enough to most of our families.


I have spent months looking at properties online. One good thing to do when you are starting your search is once you figure out what state or areas you want to be in create a folder on your desktop and create sub folders to place links for the land that you like. Being organized during this time IS your best friend.

When you are packed or just in a transition mode the more organized you are the less stressed out you will feel.

I had a folder that was TN land, and then inside of that folder I had folders with the big cities that the land I liked was close to, Knoxville, Nashville, and Kings Port etc. Then I would dedicate at least 1-2 hours every morning looking for land online. Coping the links of places I liked and placing them in that particular folder.


After doing that for about 1 month in just TN alone I would pick one area, call each agent with the listings that I had picked and gotten detailed information about each property.


Here are the type of questions that you should be asking an agent:

  • How many acres is this?
  • How many neighbors are there?
  • What are the property taxes?
  • Does this piece have water? (P.S. If you live in some of the western states such as CO or Montana you have to purchase your water rights, that can be some money you might not have counted on needing to spend)
  • Is this property surveyed?
  • Does it already have septic?
  • What are the restrictions?
  • Does it have any easements?
  • Is it in a flood zone?
  • How long has this piece been on the market?
  • What is the % commission? Depending on the state they do commission a little differently (some states the buyer pays commission and some states the seller pays commission and some states it is split…make SURE you ask)

Then take notes on each one. You can tell right away from the answers you get if that Realtor really knows their listings and how knowledgeable they are about the area.

What I did was highlight which Realtors were the most knowledgeable. Then the one with the personality I liked the best with the most knowledge, I would tell them I wanted to see that particular listing along with others, then set up a day to drive up and spend looking at properties.


Your Real Estate Agent needs to be knowledgeable and honest (yeah, yeah they all say they are however anyone in the business of sales is in the business of selling you something… it is their job). You need to feel like they are really listening to what you are looking for and by their actions you will know if they are just trying to sell you something or if they are invested in helping you find what you really want.

Some pieces that you loved online you might hate and some you were unsure about you might really love. You have to keep an open mind when you are looking. Make sure you take LOTS of note on each property and do not expect your agent to equip you with a pad and pen to make notes.


Next post we will go over the things that you NEED to be looking for when you go look at land. These are VERY important and make sure that you cross EVERY T and dot EVERY I because when you are leading this kind of lifestyle you are not looking to flip this property you are looking to live there forever (or darn close to it!).


With much love and blessings on YOUR Journey!



P.S. If you are looking for a place where you can become part of a community dedicated ENTIRELY to the homesteading life style (weather you go full throttle or you just want to live a more organic life style) please sign up for newsletters, giveaways, and just more information click here.