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$4000 Cabin plans? Not so fast!

BUILD THIS CABIN FOR $4000! Not in 2015!

One of my readers recently pointed out to me that one of the hottest topics in homesteading and tiny homes was a design and build guide for a tiny cabin that priced out at just $4000 for the exterior shell. That sounded like a stretch to me, so you can imagine my surprise when it was pointed out that the guide where these extraordinary figures were coming from was written by none other than me – Steve Maxwell!

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HOMESTEAD SKILLS: Patching Drywall Like a Pro

drywall_hole_knifeIf the walls of your homestead house are looking ratty, this free video course is for you. Patching drywall and masking lays the essential groundwork for any good interior paint job, and doing this work yourself is an excellent way to save money. As long as you know how to do it, that is. Learn about DIY drywall repair with my video series and you’ll see and learn everything you need to know for the most common situations right here in this course. Click the thumbnail below to learn how to:

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PLANS DOWNLOAD: Make a Cold Room That Actually Works

Lots of homeowners – both urban and rural – would love to have a place to store fruits and vegetables in cool conditions. That’s what basement cold rooms are for. Trouble is, typical modern cold rooms simply don’t work. Too cold in winter and too warm in summer is the usual problem. The downloadable plans below show exactly how to retrofit a standard basement cold room so it actually works.

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GOOD IDEA: Simple invention makes it cheaper, easier to reduce fossil fuel dependence

The most I’ve ever paid for gasoline was $1.42/litre, and the experience left me feeling more than just fleeced. It also reminded me, once again, how vulnerable we all are when it comes to energy. Ultimately, we’ll pay just about anything to make our cars run and keep our homes warm, and even though the cost of energy has dropped recently, it doesn’t mean all is well. Far from it. We’ve been given a reprieve — temporary I’m sure — but with it comes a danger. That’s why we need to do something . . .

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HOW TO: Four Lessons Learned From 25 Years of Gardening

While some people are obviously better at gardening than others, I’ve come to realize that gardening success is possible for anyone with the energy to work and a heart that’s thrilled by beauty. The so-called “green thumb” myth comes down to nothing more than skills that are both simple yet challenging. Learn my four favourite gardening lessons and your thumbs will look like a lawn in June.

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Maple Syrup Tradition Built on Great People

maple_syrup_bucketMaple syrup is one of the forest’s gifts to the world, and with more than 80% of global supply coming from Canada – the land of the maple leaf –we’ve earned our sweet reputation. What’s far less known is how much effort goes into making the syrup that graces tables everywhere, and the kind of commitment and risks shouldered by the hardworking people who make maple syrup happen. It’s a story worth telling because no one else in the world can tell it like us Canadians.

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North America Still a Great Place for Homesteading

Young people today are having less success becoming homeowners and self-supporting adults than their parents or grandparents did. It’s simply a statistical fact. High student debt loads, low-paying jobs and expensive housing is reducing the rate of homeownership among young people, and this is one reason there’s a growing interest in modern homesteading. This is also an option that makes especially good sense in the North America of today.

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Cold Room Fix Satisfies the Urge to Preserve

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Root cellars are cool, subterranean spaces ideal for storing vegetables, fruits, nuts and other foods, but at first glance they should be something you only see in museums. Yet somehow, despite the proliferation of convenience foods, the habit of eating out more often than in, and the steady decline in cooking skills, the old fashion idea of a root cellar is not only still with us, but it’s on the rise.

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A Simple Life is a Good Life: Five Reminders From the Amish

In the spring of 2014, something good happened in our quiet corner of rural Canada. It’s something I’ve been hoping would happen for a long time and it’s taught me things you might find interesting and useful.

Three Amish families moved onto two old and forgotten farms near our place while winter was still lingering last year, and these are the first Amish ever to come to our area. I’ve long admired the Amish faith and way of life – at least from a distance – and over the years I’ve learned all I can about Amish life from books. Now that I’ve gotten to know my new neighbours first-hand, they’ve reminded me of five important things. They’re worth thinking about, regardless of where you live.

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VIDEO: See How Cool Homesteading Tools Are Unveiled

Every homesteader needs tools, and that’s why I pay attention to new homesteading tools that might help people like us boost our self-reliance and success. Every year major power tool companies invite people from the media to come and see what’s arriving on the market, and I was in on the latest unveiling from the people who make DEWALT, Stanley, Black&Decker and other tool brands. Click below for a video glimpse of a cool tool event called the “New Product Avalanche”. It happened at a ski resort at Blue Mountain, Ontario on January 30th, 2015. Not exactly a place of homestead simplicity, but interesting just the same.

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CASE STUDY: Compact Homestead Cottage Rises from Ashes

It was a bad day when fire destroyed the 60-year-old heirloom cottage of Mike and Alice Ogden, a bad day indeed. But from the ashes of this disaster grew roses of success. On the same lakeside site today you’ll find a compact, classically shaped structure that’s as energy efficient as it is eye catching. And how the Ogdens got from smoldering ruins to where they are today offers four pivotal strategies that can help anyone interested in building elegantly and efficiently with minimal environmental impact.

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CASE STUDY: 60-Something Couple Builds Homestead House

willson_house_overall2Homestead houses provide shelter, but the best are also expressions of the people who live in them. And while many folks dream of creating a homestead house that’s an expression of themselves, few attempt it. Fewer still manage to hang on to their creative convictions all the way through a long, challenging, hands-on homebuilding campaign. Chuc and Linda Willson are two people who’ve made it to the finish line, and their story proves that vision, a frugal building budget and a practical floor plan can come together and create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind home, even for those who’ve never done it before.

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VIDEO: Homestead Heresy! Grid Power Connection

Homesteaders aren’t supposed to like the electrical grid, but I do.  I never used to like it, but 30 years of real homestead life has taught me otherwise. Sure, there are problems with grid power, and I certainly don’t rely on it exclusively. That said, it’s hard to beat the grid when you want power for the workshop, food preservation or frost protection. Whether you like living off the grid or consider grid power a homestead heresy, you might enjoy seeing how we installed an electrical service connection on our homestead property that didn’t have enough soil for safe coverage of the cables. Click and watch the installation in action from start to finish.

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VIDEO: Handy Homestead Reciprocating Saw

Homesteading is at least as much about using tools as it is about growing things and raising animals. The ability to building and repair your homestead house and outbuildings is key to success. Watch Steve’s quick tour of a 12-volt cordless reciprocating saw that he’s been using lately. It’s one of many smaller, lighter and more powerful cordless tools that are revolutionizing the DIY world

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VIDEO FEATURE: One Way to Warm Your Homestead House

garage_outside_view_275Many homesteaders live in old, cold farm houses that are hard to heat.  This is why an under-used insulation upgrade technique is worth knowing about. I got to see it in action back in January 2013,  in the home you see above. It’s not exactly a typical homestead house, but it does have the same problems that many old farm houses have – insufficient insulation in hollow wood frame walls.

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Young Man Seeks Homesteading – Part 2

Here’s the second part of the email Q&A I’ve been having with Daniel, a young man from South Africa with aspirations for homesteading. Read part 1 of the conversation here.

Overcoming Loneliness

Daniel: I wanted to ask you some questions that I haven’t been able to find answers to yet and I was really hoping that you could give me some insight . . .  You mention that you were young (23) when you first moved out to your land. It’s something that I have often thought about but taking that mental leap has not happened to me yet. I still have fear that I would be isolating myself too much and I’d get lonely – did you have those same feelings and how did you overcome them?

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FREE DOWNLOAD: Replacing Wooden Tool Handles

Most people have at least one hammer, axe, hatchet or other striking tool with a wooden handle, and sooner or later all handles like these need to be replaced.  Learn how with my free downloadable report and you’ll be a pro at the job in no time.

If this report looks useful to you, there’s lots more where this good stuff came from. Sign up for my newsletter at the form top right and I’ll keep you posted on new content as I publish it.  After all, replacing wooden tool handles is only one part of rural self-reliance.

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Know-How for Family Homestead Living