Low-impact Living at the Eldergrove Homestead

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Earth-Centered Resources for Sustainable Living (and beyond)
 

Simply put, we are a couple of people who continually experiment with things to make our lives more sustainable, durable, stable, and more survivable (for the past 30+ years). We are seeking a better path for ourselves on this planet, a "Geo-Path" if you will. We can't tell you what to do, but we can show you what we've done and why. We may not try to convince you of what we consider "facts" or convert you to some particular way of thinking or doing, but we hope to inspire you to be less fearful about doing SOMETHING.

Some say that we must have lots of money in order to do all this stuff. VERY incorrect! Others say that we must have lots of training or education. Other than reading what interests us at the moment, wrong again! No Doctorates, Masters degrees, or even careers here, just plenty of pondering coupled with trial and error.

For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have noticed, the economies and political systems of this planet have become increasingly controlled by the ultra-rich and their corporations. This plutocracy ensures a high standard of living and a life of leisure for a few. This leaves the rest to fend for themselves, often in a very degraded environmental situation, competing for limited jobs and supplies, and doing work that merely advances those who are better off.

We prefer to support win-win strategies, not win-lose. Since working hard to buy what the biggest trans-national companies produce only makes them stronger, we have always worked smarter and less, learning as much as possible, consuming fewer non-essentials, and doing what we can to produce what we need for ourselves while helping others of low means do the same.


"Once you SEE the change you want to BE, you need to BE the change you want to SEE!"

As scientist, author, poet, and eco-speaker Sandra Steingraber says, "It's time to play the Save the World Symphony". We don't care what instrument you use or how well you use it, but for everyone's sake it is time to start making some noise. We started out with little money but we were willing to do whatever it took to supply our basic needs. Think of wilderness camping, but pursued as a very long trip. We slowly learned how to provide for ourselves, using very little in purchased materials, adding "frills" to make life slightly more comfortable, but never compromising our goal of remaining as Earth-friendly as possible. Now, over 30 years down that timeline, we just like to try innovative things that further reduce our earthly impact and, given our experience level, we are not terribly afraid to fail. That gives us an education which is not soon forgotten. Along that path we have learned a few things that we would like to share.


Missing Links?

We have heard that some folks have a difficult time finding links that they may have stumbled over while reading that they would like an easier time referencing at a later date, without rereading all of the text leading to it. To make this easier we have organized every link on every page into a categorized listing at the bottom of this page.

And if you are looking for our web pages about Earth Energies and the Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation, they are now on our sister-site, GeoPathfinder.net. You can find updates about what we are doing here, at our Blog.


Products & Services

Yes, we do offer some stuff for sale! The rationale? If something helps you to save on energy use then it keeps more coal-fired or garbage-burning electric generating stations from being built. Many lower-income folks live in these high-pollution industrial areas. They don't necessarily get to "vote with their dollars", as many environmentalists urge us, to buy the energy-saving stuff that keeps additional sources of pollution away. But maybe you do! We handle some stuff (mostly self-published how-to books and stainless steel screens) that helps lower energy use, and if that helps both the "haves" and the "have-nots" it's a win-win situation.
 

About Us

We are Larisa Walk and Robert (Bob) Dahse. We have been together since 1982. We live in the rolling hills and temperate, humid climate of southeastern Minnesota in the "upper Midwest" of the United States. We work for wages as little as possible, maintaining a "poverty-level" income. We prefer to work for our subsistence instead of paying for endless wars and a bloated, deficit-based federal budget. Needless to say, we are both the "black sheep" of our families! We have been living with off-grid, solar electricity (and sometimes with wind electricity) for nearly 30 years, using rainwater collection for all of our water needs. We compost all of our kitchen and bodily "wastes", along with those of our two pet sheep. We grow most of our food and use organic methods learned from childhood (along with plenty of reading along the way), honed through over 5 years of soil consultation and testing that we provided nationally through our former business, "Underfoot Soil Consulting Service".

Our home is owner-built using straw-bale construction and it's heated by both direct passive solar techniques and by using a masonry wood-stove of our own design (burning about a "cord", 128 cu.ft., of fallen "soft maple" per year). Although we live in frigid Minnesota, we grow lettuces and other greens in our solar-heated greenhouse year-round. We steam-can, steam-juice, root cellar, "live-store", or solar-dry all of our garden's bounty. Much of our spring/summer/fall cooking is done using a parabolic solar oven or a PV-powered AC stove top. And since we don't like senseless suffering or death, we've been successful and healthy vegans for over 30 years (each). Our diet is whole-food, chemical-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, casein-free, and primarily home-grown, wild, or shipped-in Certified Organic as a last resort. And our transportation, when we need it, is primarily by recycled 1996 Geo Metro, obtained from a Geo rebuilding specialist, our recumbent Catrike, "tadpole-style" tricycles, now converted to solar-charged, human/electric hybrid vehicles, and (since 2009), a solar-charged electric car, converted from a gasoline-powered, 1979 Porsche 924.

You will note, as you read the various subjects we cover, that many of our efforts involve "hybrid synergy" (except our seed supply; we save open-pollinated varieties for planting) and robust back-up systems. Our former Toyota Prius and bikes were/are gasoline/electric and human/electric hybrids. Our wood-stove is a masonry/steel hybrid that heats our hot water and includes an active solar, air-to-air heat exchanger. Our house is a hybrid of straw-bale infill, "stick-frame", and post-and-beam building techniques. Our sauna is sometimes used as a "summer kitchen" and as a foul-weather food dehydrator. Our photovoltaic solar electric system doubles as a supplier of hot water for much of the year, and also utilizes excess sunny-day input to charge our newly-built electric car, hybrid electric trikes, electric tractor, electric mower, etc. The electric vehicles can be directly charged from our solar panels or we can use AC chargers and our inverters. You get the idea. We like things that do multiple tasks or use various inputs.

Having read all of the above I will assume that you think we are purists, tree-huggers, and neo-Luddites. That's far from accurate. We use technology where we feel that it is appropriate, from an environmental, economic, and sociological perspective. We aren't creating or raising children, and we consider this choice to be the basis of our version of an ecological life. Human life means more than being a DNA copy-machine. There are too many humans on the planet as-is, with plenty more on the way! The few things that we buy we view as tools, to be used for accomplishing specific tasks, and we don't skimp on tools. We typically don't follow directions or dogmas, but stay within the confines of the Law. We've read, and continue to read a lot, and make decisions based on sorting out as much information as we can handle, balancing the rational, logical results with well-honed intuition. We encourage others to do the same. Our choice of lifestyle is political, in that we don't wish to support the Earth-killing decisions made either by those in power in Washington D.C. or more locally. If the only legal way to do that is by living pretty close to the land in a low-impact, low-income, atypically self-sufficient mode, then so be it.

And in case you think we're too serious, we both play the accordion! The only thing serious about it is the volume. For two former childhood organists, playing the right hand sideways, hugging it to produce sound, and using 120 buttons for chords, all without being able to see what you're doing, is a definite re-learning experience! If you'd like to hear a REAL homestead musician, check out our friend Bryce Black's website for numerous humorous recordings about "baler twine", mad cow disease, water-pumping windmills, and prehistoric chickens, among other insights.



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Food & Nutrition

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Homesteading & Homemaking

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Home-Grown Power

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The Wheel Deal - Transportation & Other Moving Things
 
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