Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for January, 2009

Resources for Biodiesel Class at Canton Energy Fair

As we prepare our materials for the 2009 North Country Energy Fair (, I wanted to share two resources we believe will be of great help to folks getting started on their journey making Biodiesel. The first is the Biodiesel Homebrew Guide by Girl Mark (more info at ), and the second is Home Brew Biodiesel by our buddy Rick ( Both are excellent guides on making processors, making biodiesel, and cleaning it up to match standards. For info on collecting and filtering vegetable oil, and using it straight in diesel engines, get our veggie oil guide at


More info at


Long lines, long wait for power after ice storm

ice-stormTwo-week delay possible for hundreds of thousands; new deaths feared

CADIZ, Ky. – Hundreds of thousands of ice storm victims hunkered down in frigid homes and shelters Thursday, expecting to spend at least a week without power and waiting in long lines to buy generators, firewood, groceries and bottled water.

Utility companies in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas and West Virginia warned that many of the estimated 1.3 million homes and businesses left without electricity wouldn’t have power back before Saturday at the earliest, and at worst, as late as mid-February.


The Winter Garden

It’s 15F outside, and there’s a few feet of snow on the ground. Our hankerings are turning to fresh salads, as the stuff at the grocery store is very anemic and not very nutritious. Our good friend Nathaniel has been developing some very cool hydroponic growing systems for those in cold climates, or with out space for regular gardening. Even if you live in a temperate climate, and have garden space, this might be a good alternative. Check out his video and website at


Biological Water Filtration

We are working on a project for some folks where the need is for biological filtration of graywater for irrigation purposes. It’s a arid climate, and greenhouses are being set up for food production. The complex is being set up with composting toilets, eliminating blackwater, or sewage, but the graywater system needs to be reused, as freshwater is in short supply, and a typical sewage system will not work in the rocky ground conditions. The compost toilet material will eventually be used as fertilizer after being thoroughly composted and tested for fecal coliforms.

Check out our free conservation and self sufficiency info at


Freedom of the Press belongs to those who own one!

We are taking what we have learned over the last 16 years of website design and marketing, and helping others create a website to get the word out on issues that concern them. Websites with blogging, mailing lists, email accounts, affiliate programs, google ads, credit card payment processing and much more is available. If you have a issue that needs promoting, and need that process to generate funds, drop us a line at or see


AIR-X Wind Turbine Arrived, More Rocket Mass Heater Videos

The 24v AIR-X arrived today, and the Whisper 500 watt unit arrived last week. The Whisper was donated by Jim Juczak of Allan Smith, the creator of the Rocket Mass Heater came for supper, and we discussed his design, and alternative implementations. We will be building one of these soon. A ebook of the heater with video and Sketchup diagrams will be available from us shortly, as well as one with the wind turbine setup and installation. He has also added a couple more video’s on startup of the heater, and heat circulation. The manual wood splitter mentioned in the video’s is found at Bailey’s Online.


Making your own Biodiesel

We have been involved in the biodiesel and waste vegetable oil scene for over 10 years now. Our good friend Rick from has produced a new website on making your own biodiesel that is worthy of review. It’s at and we recommend that if you have a diesel engine, or are considering obtaining one, or a vehicle that uses one, you check out this site.


Freshly Ground Horseradish, and keeping warm in sub zero (F) temperatures

I suffer from sinus congestion, and one thing that really helps me is horseradish. Whether the green Wasabi paste at the local Chinese restaurant, or the traditional white found in the grocery store, if done right, it opens me up and drains the sinuses. The problem has been finding good horseradish. Most preparers add the vinegar too soon in the process, and tone done the heat and vapor qualities. I bought a large root, peeled it like a potato, cubed it in small 1/4″ cubes, and ground it, using our minichopper. I waited 5 minutes before adding 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the chopped horseradish. Worked like a charm, and I’m breathing through both nostrils now. I’ll be planting horseradish this spring, and selling roots as well as prepared horseradish.

It was -18F last night, and I fired up both wood stoves this am, bringing the house up to 80 from 51. My friend Allan sent me links to a few more videos showing his Rocket Mass heater. I recommend you spend a few minutes looking at them. It uses very little wood, because it burns so cleanly and completely, and it cost very little to make. See all the videos at


400 watt Air-X Wind Turbine Arriving

Our old 12v battery and inverter system found a new home at the Martins, and we got a AIR-X wind turbine out of the deal. It will arrive near the end of the week, and we hope to have pictures and installation info for you on the weekend. We may also have a Whisper 500 watt turbine going up as well. Will keep you posted.

These wind turbines will help charge the 840 ah 24v battery bank that runs this house. We also hope to get our DIY 1000 watt unit rewound for 24v and raised sometime this spring. On sunny days, the 1700 watt solar array is bringing in between 4 and 6 kWh’s daily.

I’m looking forward to seeing the production numbers on the wind turbines. Initially we may only get them 30′ or so up in the air, but plan on 100′ in spring when the ground thaws.


Getting Started in Renewable Energy

We have put together a series of kits for those wanting to get involved with generating their own clean, renewable energy, and learn how the big systems work. The modules include a small 400 watt wind turbine, a 60 watt solar array, an optional engine driven battery charger with propane conversion, and a inverter for producing 120vac from the sun and wind. Each module is optional, so as little or as much can be ordered at once. The capacity of the modules is flexible, so give us a call if you are interested in a science fair, travel trailer, or a home sized system. These systems can be used where there is no power, or as an emergency backup for a grid dependent home. Complete installation instructions are available.

Steve Spence