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Bethany Dutch

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since Jun 24, 2012
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Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Recent posts by Bethany Dutch

I have a Mockmill 100 and I really like it a lot. My old mill was a Vitalmill which (I think similar to the nutrimill?) had an attached grain container below the mill. I presume, to keep things from getting dusty but it also trapped moisture and then I had to clean all these nooks and crannies each time I milled.

When I got the Mockmill I got it because I wanted one that had a spout I could just put a bowl under and be done with it, and I didn't like how warm the flour got with the Vitalmill too. The Mockmill seems to do a good job not heating the flour up too much. It's adjustable, you can do fine flour with it or even coarse grits type textures.

The only thing where the Vitalmill was better was with grinding corn. With the Mockmill I have to feed the corn slowly and carefully or it will jam up, and I often have to do a coarse grind and a second pass on a finer grind. The vitalmill just chewed through it no matter what. I don't use a ton of cornmeal so this isn't a big deal but it is annoying when I have to do it LOL!
1 month ago
I just got started this year but I've also been thinking about this. I do have a marketing background though so there's that. I think - I would start with something like "from naturally kept bees" and then either put a little asterisk by it and more wording on the back, or have it all together where you say something like "our bees live as naturally as we can help them - we don't feed them HFCS, we don't transport them around, and we never use chemical treatments in our hives" or something to that effect. There's also a Facebook group for TF beekeeping, there might be some threads in there about it.
1 month ago

Travis Johnson wrote:A person could use a reciprocating saw too, only instead of the saw blade, put a bar of steel to act as the pitman.

TRAVIS - LOL! Why did I not see this before? I could have saved myself MONTHS of time! I literally just posted an update to this because I used a reciprocating saw... great minds think alike, I guess! Here's the new thread in case anyone is wondering, with a video of how it worked. It worked GREAT!
1 month ago
So - I've been grinding our own grains for a while now and trying to get us converted over because it's an affordable way for me to use organic ancient wheats but the big elephant in the room is all purpose flour.

Whole wheat flour is fine for breads (although I suppose my kids would disagree LOL) but sometimes I need white flour for lighter stuff. But hand sifting TAKES SO SO SO LONG and then your arms and hands cramp up. And then I buy it. Because in all my googling and asking around, everyone always said they did the same as me - use it whole, unless you NEED white flour in which case you just buy it. There is a flour sifter thingy on the market but it's like $250 and I figured I could come up with a cheaper option.

So the other day I had an idea and IT WORKED. I figured out how to do this automatically and aside from the sifters you probably already have what you need to do this suuuuuuper fast. I made a video to show you how it works - if you don't want to listen to me yakking at first, the actual "action" starts at 4:19 😂

Basically in a nutshell, I attached the blade of a reciprocating saw onto the side of my sifter and then just pulled the trigger which then shakes the sieve at rapid speeds.

In order to get a "white" flour you need to sift a few times with different sizes. Sieves have various mesh sizes and like gauge size, the smaller the number the bigger it is. Basically, how many "divisions" it has per square inch or something to that effect. I started with a 20 mesh sifter to get the biggest pieces of the bran, and ideally you'd then screen it through a 40 mesh and then through a 60 mesh but I only had a 60 mesh with my 20. I know WHY you graduate it - because it's kind of a waste to try and sift out all the big pieces with my little 60 mesh sifter - so I may try and get the 40 mesh to see if that makes things faster. I'd also like to get a larger 60 mesh sifter but I'll probably stick with this one for a while, especially if I can the 40 mesh sifter which means my 60 mesh could handle more flour at one time (since all the bigger pieces would already been sifted out).

But IT WORKED IT WORKED IT WORKED. I was so so happy about this. This is a game changer for us. I have been trying so hard to get us more on an ancestral diet of what our specific ancestors ate 500-1000 years ago and this will allow me to use those ancient grains but also still do special occasion white flour type things without compromising that.
1 month ago
I'm a lazy composter - I don't worry about ratios, because I generally just let it take it's time.

BUT - I'm wondering if it would be possible to build a compost pile that wouldn't be too massive and would generate a little heat over months?

Here's why I ask - I'm about to begin a root cellar build. Here in the north, I am going to expect my root cellar temps won't exceed 35-40 degrees in the winter.

BUT I also want to use it as a cheese cave & wine cave. Those things prefer temps closer to 50-60 degrees.

So I'm trying to figure out a way to passively heat a small section (I may make it a 2-room deal) just a little bit so it doesn't get quite so cold in the winter. I'd like it to be as passive as I can. I've been racking my brain but then I remembered how sometimes people make a "hot bed" with manure in the spring to keep seedlings warm in cold temps.

But I think the big issue is that unless I can keep it generating a little heat consistently, I'd end up with a pile that would generate a lot of heat and then stop. Unless I could make a relatively brown-heavy pile that might be slower decomposing? Anybody know?
3 months ago
I'm going to be starting an addition onto my home this year and one thing I want to plan for is a really nice RMH. There's a good chance I won't want to build it myself (I have been building my home for the last 6 years myself and to say that I am BURNED OUT is an understatement) but I want to at least design the addition to accommodate one.

Does anyone know of anyone in the Eastern WA area (Spokane-ish) who knows how to build them? I'm hoping for something not quite so "southwest" looking but maybe more "English Cottage" with a built in oven and cooking area, and once the addition is finished the home will be about 1900 sq feet to heat (though it will be designed in a way that at least half, if not more, will be "close-off-able" if I need to conserve fuel).
6 months ago

Mike Haasl wrote:Mine is in the basement and about 6' wide by 4' deep with the door in the middle of the 6' side.  It's poured cement against the middle of the North wall (I didn't build it otherwise it would be in the NE corner).  I insulated it from the interior of the house with 4" of styrofoam and have two 4" pipes going in and out of it through the rim joist.  The floor is cement.

I removed the decades-old wood shelves this year and put in plastic shelving.  Much better (other than the plastic part) for cleanliness and mold prevention.  I also lime washed it which made a huge difference in how clean it looks/feels and how moldy I expect it to get.  

For me and the missus and a huge garden, it's big enough.  I store apples, carrots and beets in 5 gallon buckets in dry/damp/damp (respectively) planer shavings.  That's because the cellar isn't damp enough for the root crops.  I have onions and potatoes in baskets on the shelves and they do fine till spring.  

I love how it's in the basement and easy to access.  I hate how it's in the basement and takes till November to cool down.  I love how it's in the basement and it barely gets too cold after a stretch of -10F weather and I can fix that by cracking the door open.  I hate how it's in the basement and can't get humid enough.  I love how it's in the basement and easy to access (yes, that's in there twice on purpose).

If I were doing a new one in a new house, I'd bump out the basement wall for the cellar and have a gravel floor.  I'd try to figure out how deep undergound to put that part of the foundation so that the cold outside air optimally cools the cellar.  My foundation wall sticks out of the ground a foot and has an inch of styrofoam outside it.  With that amount exposed to the root cellar's back wall, I almost freeze the cellar on cold snaps in January in Northern WI.  If I was farther south, I'd probably want more wall exposure to the cold outside air (I think).

I'd also build it more like 6' by 6' for the two of us.  It's currently big enough but a bit more space would be nice.

That's awesome, thank you! I'm going to be building an addition and my house is kind of dug into a hill, and so I think I'm going to come up with a "connected" root cellar that will give me the convenience of it being "in" the house but not actually be in it. Do you feel like yours would be an adequate size for you and your wife if you had to be 100% self sufficient?
6 months ago
I am SO excited, things are looking like I'll be able to put in an actual root cellar this year. I've been re-reading the root cellaring book but was just curious and wanted to hear from other people before I start drawing up plans.

So - tell me about yours. How big is it? How big is your family, and do you feel like the size works well for you? What style is it? What kind of floor? If you could do it over, would you do anything differently?

Would LOVE to hear any thoughts!
6 months ago

Chris Kott wrote:

There are many ways, and many possibilities, and many of those can coexist on the same planet at the same time. I suggest you read over David Holmgren's Future Scenarios. It's quite detailed, and provides many answers to the questions being asked.


Thank you for the rec! I will definitely check it out.
7 months ago
Great discussion, thank you everyone! I would agree that we aren't going to "run out" in the sense that it would be truly gone, although it makes sense to me that there would be a point where it is so difficult to produce since all the "easy" oil has already been extracted, that it isn't worth it except for some high end stuff. In other words, it would be hardly worth extracting if it takes two barrels' worth of energy to extract one barrel of oil.

Ideally, by the time that happens, we will have already figured out a substitute or replacement, I'm just not sure if that would end up happening. Everything I've ever heard about alternate power is that it takes more power to produce the components than they produce in their lifetime although our technology does improve exponentially so it would make sense that at some point, we'd find a way around that.

However, I'm definitely not educated on this and that's why I posted, I always get such a wide variety of opinions and thoughts here.

I'm already working on being as self sufficient on my homestead as I can, this is just one more scenario that I thought about. Was off grid for years but finally put grid power in this summer and love having it! But still this is one more reason why I ought to probably have some un-powered backups for things, etc.
7 months ago