Posted by & filed under Permaculture.

How does Hope affect sustainable living during a drought?   You have hope, that is why I am here also.

I read this quote by Siebold:  Self-made millionaires get rich because they’re willing to bet on themselves and project their dreams, goals and ideas into an unknown future. Wealth is based upon the individuals own perception.

I believe that you are willing to bet on your self and your dreams.

Even if the future is unknown, you have the desire to build your sustainable life!  You inspire others as you move toward your dreams and goals.  It is farmers and entrepreneurs who take what they have and what they can envision that makes them leaders who enjoy themselves and making a difference.

Together, we can make a Huge difference in the world and honor God, our Creator, by living the purpose written on our hearts and the passion that is burning inside of us.  Our Hope for a sustainable life, is what allows us to think about our challenges, research what we have available to us to overcome those challenges and then take action.

So what are some of the things that we consider about our challenges when it come to drought?


First what is drought? geography shared this definition:

Drought is defined as a period in which a region has a deficit in its water supply. Drought is a normal feature of climate which happens in all climate zones from time to time.

Usually, drought is talked about in one of two perspectives- meteorological and hydrological. A drought in terms of meteorology takes into account deficiencies in measured precipitation. Each year’s measurements are then compared to what is determined as a “normal” amount of precipitation and drought is determined from there. For hydrologists, droughts are monitored by checking stream flow and lake, reservoir, and aquifer water levels. Precipitation is also considered here as it contributes to the water levels.

In addition, there are agricultural droughts that can impact crop production and cause changes to the natural distribution of various species. The farms themselves can also cause droughts to happen as soil is depleted and therefore cannot absorb as much water, but they can be impacted by natural droughts as well.

Picture Of Palmer Lake boat ramp in gallery 1 on site.

As you can see here in the picture, Palmer Lake in Colorado is dry.  Bone dry is how most of the news stations describe it.  But it is dry.  The lake is usually fed by a spring, but there was a time where water from a creek could be sent to the lake during times of drought.

But not anymore.

The nearby city of Colorado Springs now owns those water rights, according to a source who lives in Palmer lake, and it is Imperative for the other city to get the water it needs to serve its residents.  Now the lake is dry, the fish are dead, as well as most of the tourism.  Water truly is a magnet to us humans.


What is the Solution?

What are some of the challenges that you need to look at as a gardener/farmer/business or resident in an area hit by drought to maintain a sustainable living lifestyle?

Sustainable living includes preparing for drought and finding ways to continue to have abundance during drought! Our world is changing, but there will always be the same amount of water here on the earth.  It is either in the oceans, soil, groundwater, ice and snow on the ground or glaciers.  This cycle has been happening since the beginning of creation.

Knowledge of the cycle of water where you live, as well as controlling what you grow, graze or use and taking responsibility for by being a Good Caretaker of what you are managing, will help you maintain your sustainable lifestyle.

There is much to learn for all of us, and treading lightly is one aspect of sustainable living.

  • How do you grow your garden/crops?
  • Do you till all of your land at once or do yo follow the 7 years then leave that field fallow for a year?
  • Do you have a Rain water catchment system?
  • Do you reuse your gray water from your home to water your garden crops?
  • Can you build a small pond to store water on your property to store water?
  • Do you have swimming pool?
  • Are you or can you grow hydroponically or aquaponically?
  • What is the average rain fall where you live?
  • How have you planned for the drought cycle that comes to your area?


Do you remember reading about the “Dust Bowl” in school, or hearing about it from family stories?

It is by research and planning that you can ensure that you are living sustainably.  There can always be “Surprises” come your way, but by researching the past, and looking at the growth in your area that will use your limited water supply you can prepare properly. Look at your property and business, and answer the following questions to prepare for the next drought that may come your way:

  • Do you own the  water rights on your property?
  • Who or what is upstream from you that can use up all of the water before it reaches your property?
  • Can you build water storage such as small lakes/ponds/holding tanks/ water towers/etc.
  • How can you conserve your water usage that will allow you to still be prosperous and sustainable for decades and generations to come?
  • Are any County, state or federal laws that are in process that can change your rights to your water rights?
  • Do you have the history knowledge of the past 100 years or more for weather in your mini-ecosystem?
  • Are you ready to learn and implement the actions that you know that need to be taken?


How does hope fit into this scenario?  Without hope, there will not be the passion or desire to make anything better.  Without Hope, there is only despair.

My Personal Story of Hope and Sustainable Living.

This is the one year anniversary of when my wife and I were planning of my cremation and funeral.  My health was tanked, I was scheduled to be evaluated for a heart transplant, but was told that my heart would never get better.

What was dead is dead,  I had a drought of heart muscle, and to give up hope was my option.  We did not believe that, and since then, Giving glory to God through prayer, surrounding myself with Positive people who have hope, faith and love for others, along with eating organically and natural, I have the hope and the health to move forward to a sustainable living life.

I still work with the doctors, and they are amazed at the Measurable physical changes to my heart!  Hope and Faith affects everything!


My Mindset is one of the first things that I needed to change.  Since we are created in the image of God, we are able to choose our Thoughts, Words and Actions.  I needed some help to accomplish that, and as well as reading and staying focused on our Creator, I took a Miracle Mindshift Month course which is administered by two of my “chosen” family:  Robert and Terri Talltree.  They have loved me and helped guide me back into the hope and knowledge of a Sustainable, Positive Life.

I continue to work on my mindset, as life can sometimes come trying to push me back to my old thought patterns.  But thank you Robert and Terri for your friendship and your help with the Miracle Mindshift Month training.

I am truly blessed by God to be here today.

If you are looking for hope in a drought, you can find the help you may need also with the Miracle Mindshift Month course.

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 Organic Gardening.

Can a Sustainable gardening experiment go right?

That is the question that I have been working on for about a year now.  I had many questions about how to grow our own food effectively at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level, with no usable soil.

My wife and I have grown in containers, raised beds as well as the all original row and hoe methods in gardens larger than 1 acre.

But the challenge was to see if we could grow a garden in a mobile home park at 7,000 feet elevation with no real soil to speak of, and NOT build an expensive (either time or money) raised bed system.

Here, we are in the middle of an area that had more gravel and not much growing when we started.  We bought the food4wealthsystem and implemented so as to take advantage of the items that we could purchase for little or now cost.

After all, our experiment was to build the sustainable gardening plot, which means once it is created it would not take much more investment on our part, that could feed us without much work on our part.

What were our challenges as we started?

  • No soil on site
  • A Budget of $200 total for the project
  • Bugs, Bunnies, Bears and other “invaders” in the area
  • What to grow at this altitude
  • Seeds or Starts,  what works best?
  • Frost protection
  • Finding the right Organic soil for our garden
  • Time to do it all while living a “busy” life
  • Provide integrity for sustainable gardening

That is not really a large list when you look at it now,  the time factor was the biggest challenge for us.  You know how it is, you need to work to make money to pay the bills.  Family obligations, social expectations, vehicle maintenance challenges, continuing education classes,  etc.  You know them all right?  What are your challenges in this area?

What we did

  • Purchased the Food4Wealth System
  • We asked permission to grow a garden in the mobile home park
  • We cleaned up the lot
  • Followed the directions as much as we could
  • We gathered the materials to build our sustainable garden
  • Started our seeds
  • The Garden grew!

What did we like best about the help we received from Food4Weatlh?

  • The set-up was easy, and took about 1 hour total, since we used the stuffed coffee bags
  • Even though we had been growing since 1968, the simplicity was a blessing
  • We used local materials, and the plan adapted easily for us
  • We really like the idea of little to no weeding
  • Project plan included was a great guideline for us

What we struggled with, or did not necessarily like?

  • Since We have been growing gardens for along time, we had some habits that we did not want to change
  • We still planted the Corn, Beans and squash together (The Three Sisters) as my Native Ancestors taught
  • The videos were good, I didn’t like hearing and seeing the same introduction music each time.
  • I would like to have had a forum or a membership site for asking questions and sharing

Our Costs have been minimal.  Even after spending the $99 dollars for the mini-greenhouse, we were still way under the $200 budget.

We wanted to stay close to the teachings of the Native American teachings of leaving a very small footprint and only taking what was needed.  Food4Wealth has helped us simplify our workload, down to almost nothing.  The Abundance that has been realized also allows us to share with others and inspire a few so far to also start growing food and enhancing their landscape that benefits them as well as the four legged and winged neighbor that surround us.

Truly a much more enjoyable environment for the children that flock to our house and ask Heather, my wife, to show them the taste and texture of an abundant garden!

Both my wife and I highly recommend this system, there is nothing like having a garden party with friends and family, eating fresh right out of the Garden!


Download your copy of this Food4Wealth System now!


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.

Have you ever had one of those weeks that just seemed to be full of Challenges and you still have a ton, literally, of work left to do? 

Top it all off with items you need to purchase but you can not just bring yourself to go to the local Big Box store?  You just want to go shopping ina place that is friendly, people understand you and your busy life?

You have been working hard to build that sustainable life that you dream of, but also need and want to socialize with like minded people.

An Oasis of Hospitality

When I need an Oasis of hospitality, one of my favorite places to just “Get Away” is our local feed store.  The people there are friendly, and have a lot of the same values as me.  They have always been helpful, and even hand out nice little “party favors” such as a new horse treat or dog treat for our animals to try. 

Sometimes they even provide “Trick or Treat” surprise goodies for me and my family! Even if Halloween is still 2 months away.  It is like going to the Mountain Man Trade Fair and Rendezvous, without having to sleep on the ground or eat their cooking. 

There is a lot of new stuff to look at like tools and tack for our animals, but also the “ambiance” of an open house for people who have the same desire to meet new people, share stories of creating a sustainable living.

Problems with having your own Sustainable Living Lifestyle?

  • You Get up on your own schedule, you must decide what it is you need and want to do that day to create the life you want.  No one else to make the decision for you.
  • If you make a mistake, it is your responsibility.  No one to blame
  • All expenses incurred are your responsibility
  • You have to choose the right equipment for your estate
  • You have to choose the crop or theme and product for your own income stream
  • Every decision is your own responsibility!  AAAAAGGHHHH!!!!

Now with all of that knowledge, there is some great news also!  Each and everyday you have freedoms to work on your own personal plan!  Here are some of the benefits of creating your own sustainable life:

  • You set your own schedule!
  • You get to decide what is best for you and your lifestyle that you are working to build
  • There are no others to make errors or challenges for you,  you get to decide every step that your business undertakes!
  • Your business expenses are controlled by you.
  • You get to choose which direction that your business grows to provide for your successful, sustainable living!  The excitement of testing, building, failing and most importantly succeeding is all your to decide and implement!

Success is a Team Effort

When I was younger, I wanted to do everything myself.  Now that I am older, I like to be “interdependent” and trade or barter for work to be accomplished or as well as goods that we may need for our  life style.  The older I get, most of our social activities are tied directly to living within the best practices for being a good steward of the land and assets that I have been blessed with.

I have placed flyers as well as embraced the internet for sharing what I am doing as well as what we are adding to our lifestyle that meets our needs and moves us forward to our goals.  One of the best surprises for me has how much more enjoyable sharing our lifestyle with others and being dependent upon others for their services has improved our lives and my mind set.

Problems, Challenges or Opportunities to learn?

When I was younger, all of the “problems” I encountered use to just bother me and steal most if not all of my joy.  I made so many mistakes, it was not funny.  Then as I became friends with other Organic Gardeners and business owners, I started to see how much more they enjoyed their lives, even when faced with difficult situations.

That is when I was blessed with meeting Gina Gaudio Graves from Directions University as well as Robert and Terri TallTree.  Your mindset is a way to create the life of your dreams.  There is a Miracle Mindshift course that will keep you focused on what you would like to live. Go there now and start your 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.

Fall Season, Time to Prepare Sustainable Living Storage for your Harvest of fresh organic gardening bounty.

Harvest can be seen in the Garden and in the Fields. The time is getting closer and now we prepare for that harvest as well as storage of the fruits of your labor. As with any fruits and vegetables, there are preparations to be make to keep them fresh and great tasting without the pitfalls of storing items together that will make the entire cellar reek and your produce taste bitter.

What can be the problems you ask?

  • Temperature requirements for different crops for optimum shelf life.
  • Humidity problems that cause rot
  • Repulsive odors that ruin the palatability of the food
  • Too much light that starts produce sprouting
  • Produce containers that fall apart or leech taste and odor into food
  • Shelving that falls over and spills contents on the floor
  • Rodents and other cellar raiders (human?) that may want some of your goodies

There are alternatives to below ground cellars, but I am going to refer you to an article by Debbie Moors, a fellow Coloradan who wrote a great article titled “Above and Beyond, Root Cellar Alternatives. She is a great source of information and I appreciate her roots of information regarding cellars! (yes, pun intended)

Root Cellers were named that in the beginning due to their ability to keep root vegetables healthy and lasting for long periods of time once harvested. That was of course if they were set up carefully and that the vegetables were properly stored.

As you will discover, not every climate is perfect for a cellar. If the water table where you live does not allow for a basement, due to flooding, that is not the best place to dig a root cellar. Even if you live in a relatively dry climate, but you live close to a wetlands or get occasional flooding, that is also not a great place to dig a root cellar!

No matter where you live thought,to build the sustainable living lifestyle, there will always be  non-digging root cellars that you can prepare and build yourself that will accomplish the same thing. I am only going to talk about one type, because I do not like to work that hard.

With some ingenuity, and a little bit of money or a bit of time, you can create your own above ground root cellar.
One of the easiest solutions is to purchase an old metal shipping container that use to be used on either trains or ocean ships. This will be fast and relatively easy. If you do not have the skills, maybe you can barter or “trade” some of your food for the work.

To build your sustainable living storage area,  follow the steps below:

  • Locate where you will be placing your shipping container.
  • Level the site, plus add 4 feet in front of the container to allow for ease of access
  • Set the container on site
  • Install power and low level light ( I prefer LED’s) I do not like flourescents due to the mercury content in case one accidentally breaks.
  • Install ventilation ports that are properly screened to prevent rodent incursion
  • Insulate the outside of the container by stacking bales of straw around the container, then add dirt and compost and allow the grass to grow. You can leave the top uncovered depending upon your climate. I prefer to cover the top, ensuring that there is ventilation and a light source that come in from above or from the side as well. It does not have to be much, just enough for light to come in and proper ventilation.
  • Build sturdy shelved inside the container, and if you want a cooler or warmer storage climate, as well as humidity, you may do so by adding a wall and preparing that section also.

The Options are pretty much endless. Create the storage that you need, but make sure to follow up on your plan, and build to meet your needs.

There is abundance everywhere we see, our neighbors, our children the earth as a whole is all of our responsibility.  Choose wisely the words you speak today, share abundance in every conversation today.

One great way to share in abundance, is to create a Garden that saves time and increases the health of the land that are living on and taking care of.

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.

I have heard many different stories of lack and fear of the future because of that fear.

Look at these questions and answer for yourself what you think:

  1. Will the Sun rise in the morning?
  2. Will there be air to breath?
  3. Will you have food to eat?
  4. Will you have water to drink?
  5. Will you have the ability to dream?
  6. Do you have the strength to ask for help?
  7. Are you ready to choose your attitude/emotions and thoughts?


In a garden or on a farm, each day, week, month and year, you choose what activities that you do.  Do you work on the bills, feed the animals, tend the garden or fields that day.  These are the choices the build  sustainable living lifestyles.

You wake up and then choose to the attitude that you will share your day with.  The attitude and the way you handle your challenges and chores starts in your mind.  What is your day going to be like today.
You can be stuck in a mud hole cleaning out the culvert that got plugged from a severe storm overnight.  It was too dangerous to be out in the storm, so now you can tackle the challenges in front of you!

You get the culverts cleared, the branches and trees cleared from the road, and now you get back to your normal routine.  Life is great!  The Sun rose, the day passed and you once again get to choose what the next task and the way you perceive it, address it and enjoy it will be.


How Flying Taught  Me About Sustainable Living

I love to fly airplanes and helicopters.  I have also flown in a gyrocopter and an ultralight airplane.  The smaller aircraft were fun because they were so small compared to my 6 foot 5 inch height, that half of my body sticks out of the aircraft, if it had and enclosure.  The first part of the flight is always enjoyable, leaving the earths bonds of gravity.

Next, flying above the farm and the surrounding area, I get to enjoy a completely different view point of my life.  Everything looks neat and tidy, mostly, and I get to assess how the flow through the farm of all aspects of traffic, water and wind has changed the landscape.  I get to look into the woods and look see the animals that are enjoying their day eating and lounging in the safety of the sparse woods.  Life is Great!

Now it is time to land.  This was the most fearful part of flying for me when I started.  It was actually the reason that I started flying, to get over my fear of falling out of control.  Once I learned the skills to fly and to land safely each and every time, my fear lost its grip on me.  I still have the bit of tightness in my stomach as I go through the landing procedure each time, but I am awake and alive.  In the moment doing what I love.

Farming, Gardening and any business that you choose, or chooses you, is a passion that just seems to draw you closer. Sustainable Living there will always be things to do, decisions to make, people and animals to serve.  What is it that draws you to your passion?


My Thoughts

I wrote poem many years ago.  It reminds me of what I have been given and my responsibility to share and help:
The Garden (by Chris Downs)
A Garden is not just a piece of Ground, it is all we see all around.  It is the soil we till the air we breath.  The water we share to drink with the animals and neighbors we see.  A garden is a way of life you know, we can help it and nurture all that we encounter, we choose our words and actions to prosper.

There is abundance everywhere we see, our neighbors, our children the earth as a whole is all of ours responsibility.  Choose wisely the words you speak today, share abundance in every conversation today.
Your mindset is a way to choose the life of your dreams.  There is a Miracle Mindshift course that will keep you focused on what you would like to live. Go there now and start your 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 water.

What is the Life Cycle of Aquaponics?  That is a great question.

There is a basic formula for the life cycle of aquaponics.

  • You have a fish tank, can be small or large.
  • You need the correct amount of fish
  • You will need a grow bed for your plants
  • A water pump
  • An oxygenator for the water
  • A complete understanding of the nitrogen cycle
  • Knowledge on how to set up the tanks, tubes, pump and a heater for temperature control for your fish.  If you are in a warm or hot climate, you may need to keep the fish tank cool.
  • A proper fish to tank and vegetation ratio

Aquaponics Tank System


So the fish produce ammonia in their tank as they poop in the water.  The ammonia is then converted to nitrates by bacteria.  The plants use the nitrates as food to grow and clean the water.  The water then goes back to the fish tank clean and healthy for the fish!

A complete Aquaponics Life Cycle for your sustainable living experience.

So What are the steps that you need to accomplish?

  1. Set up your fish tank system.   Set up the Tank, the pump and tubing including the grow bed tank.  The gravel or clay are in the grow bed with the return water tubing.  Fill the tank with non-chlorinated water (captured rain water is great!)
  2. Test the pH.   The pH should be between 6.4 and 7.0.  some people fret to get the pH exactly to 6.8, but this is real life, and I am sure you want to be realistic and not a perfectionist.  As long as the pH supports healthy edible plants and the fish you are growing, you are fine.
  3. Place Your fish in the tank.  Once your tank system is clean and everything is correct pH wise and with the proper temperature for your fish, put in the fish!  Remember, the Fish are your guests and your pets, or food, so make them comfortable so that they grow in a healthy environment.
  4. Turning Ammonia into Nitrites and Nitrates.  Nitrification is the conversion of ammonia to nitrate through biological oxidation. It is an aerobic process that involves several stages and numerous species of microorganisms. I am not going go into that now, but you can go to the link Nitrification to learn more. As the fish are fed, their waste becomes ammonia in the tank. The converted ammonia (now nitrates) flow to the grow beds, where it flourishes in either the gravel or clay bed.
  5. Keep the water chemically balanced. Test your tank water and keep the overall pH around 6.8 or so, and keep the ammonia as low as possible.  This is a must to keep the fish and the vegetation healthy and growing.
  6. Send the water from the grow bed (after being used by the vegetation back to the fish tank.  In this step, the water that has been cleaned by the vegetation gets drained back to the fish tank.  The plants consumed the nitrogen and sends clean water back to the fish!  Do not forget that the plants roots will need to drain periodically so that they can get the oxygen they need.  You can use a flood valve to automate this setup.


Now comes a new mindset and some new skills.  As the system is running, gain  the habit of checking ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels frequently. You can purchase expensive equipment that will do it for you and send you an alarm, or you can just check it yourself.

Do not overfeed the fish, as it is the only external element required in the process, if you overfeed the fish it can increase the ammonia created in the tank.

Pay attention to the smell of the water. It should have a fresh scent, not a rotting or nasty odor. With the nitrogen cycle started properly, both fish and plant life will thrive in your aquaponics system.


That is the basic Aquaponics Life Cycle.  The fish eat and poop,  the bacteria change ammonia to nitrates and the plants eat the nitrates.  The clean water goes back to the fish tank!  All one happy cycle and you benefit!

The Native Americans taught about the cycle of life for centuries before we even thought about it.  It is the balance of life that ensures your life’s journey is Joyful and Healthy.  The 4 Brothers is a great place to start your understanding.


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