Friday, February 28, 2014

Pros and Cons of Using Gray Water Part I

Map of California and record precipitation for the 2013 and 2014 year. 

I am sure we have all seen these signs on the side of the road indicating that the highway landscaping is being watered by grey water. There are many city and county sites where grey water is being used to water the landscape. 

California is experiencing its longest and hottest drought in centuries. While the rest of the nation is dealing with arctic winter (2014), California's beautiful weather hides a sinister side. No rain! The low precipitation and little rain has rekindled the infamous Water Wars in California. The environmentalist want water for the rivers and lakes to protect the wildlife. The farmers want water to irrigate their fields and grow food for the nation. Homeowners need a water too. Did I leave anyone out? 

As of this posting the Federal Government has declared that the farmers in the Central Valley (of California) will not be receiving any federal water. Read about it here. 

While the politicians argue over water and where to get it from many homeowners are looking towards their own alternatives. Recently, Viking Dad and I have had discussions with other other small Homestead owners about the use of graywater. As I kid I knew my Grandfather used the graywater from my Grandmother's washing machine to water the lawn and the orchard. I  knew the lump in the lawn was the holding tank and that was the extent of my knowledge. He was pretty "far out" in his thinking when he built my Mom's childhood home in the 1940's. However, being a "Californiaos" he knew the importance of water conservation even then. 

Lets first define Greywater.

Greywater gets its name from its cloudy appearance and from its status as being between fresh, potable water and sewage water ("black water"). In a household context, greywater is the leftover water from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines only. 

Graywater is different from warm-up water (wasted tap water that is allowed to run down the drain before it reaches a desired temperature). Warm-up water that has not been used for bathing or dishwashing is generally free from bacteria and other pathogens. The amount of wasted warm-up water can be significant in homes where water heaters are located a considerable distance from showers or tubs and where no recirculation system is installed. Catching this water in a bucket and using it to water plants can contribute to home water conservation savings.

Some definitions of greywater include water from the kitchen sink. Any water containing human fecal waste is considered black water.

There is some discussion regarding the use of water from the kitchen sink. It is believed to be a cautionary area because of the possible bacteria and pathogen contamination that can occur from various food items going down the sink and into the holding basins. In California it is required to filter the water coming from the kitchen sink. 

What are the Pros and Cons of using Graywater?


  • Lower fresh water extraction from rivers and aquifers
  • Less impact from septic tank and treatment plant infrastructure
  • Topsoil nutrification
  • Reduced energy use and chemical pollution from treatment
  • Groundwater recharge
  • Increased plant growth
  • Reclamation of nutrients
  • Greater quality of surface and ground water when preserved by the natural purification in the top layers of soil than generated water treatment processes.
  • Reduce in cost.
  • Conservation of water use
  • During a drought can be an less expensive alternative to city/county/federal water sources. It also relieves the pressure off the ecosystem during a drought. 


  • If graywater is mishandled can spread diseases or contaminate in which can be spread and make the water unusable.
  • If grey is not filtered correctly then it can become extremely smelly. Unfiltered graywater must be used within 24 hours. 
  • Depending the water quality and source water quality could damage soil quality; ie too much salt.
  • not enough water in the city/county sewer system to push sewer through the system. 
  • Graywater may contain fats, oils, grease, hair, lint, soaps, cleansers, fabric softeners, and other harmful chemicals
  • Even biodegradable soaps and detergents can present a problem over a period of time when grey water is used for irrigation.
  • Most cleaning agents contain sodium salts which can create an alkaline condition and damage the soil structure
  • Soil type. Certain soils are better at accepting graywater then others. Clay, for example, is unsuitable because it is impermeable. 
  • Cost prohibitive. In some areas the permit process or equipment requirement could become cost prohibitive. Always check with your city/county/state to determine if graywater use is acceptable. 

Before establishing or creating a graywater system check your soil condition, acceptability in your city/county or state and precipitation levels. Look for local water sustainability or graywater organization to learn how to properly set up a domestic system. 

Bless Bless.....

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Paleo Meatloaf- Yum!!

I have a life long mission to perfect my meatloaf recipe. I think I have found a passable recipe that my family will eat. 


  • 2 lb ground grass fed organic beef (you may substitute with ground pork)
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 farm fresh egg
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups brown mushrooms, finely chopped  (For more Earthy taste experiment with other varieties of mushrooms like shittake, and portabellos.)
  • 3 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup homemade ketchup (omit if you are avoiding nightshade plants)
  • ½ tbsp gluten free Worcestershire sauce, optional
  • 1 tbsp olive oil ( you can use ghee or coconut oil)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium sized skillet placed over a medium heat, olive oil, add the mushrooms and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the meat, salt, pepper, egg, onion, mushrooms, thyme, oregano and garlic. Mix well, makng sure to break-up the meat. Add the cooked mushrooms as well. It’s very important that the mushrooms are evenly distributed to ensure the loaf bonds well.
  4. Lightly grease loaf pan with additional cooking fat and fill it with the meat mixture. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine ketchup,and Worcestershire sauce to make the sauce for the top of the meatloaf.
  6. After cooking for 15 minutes, gently spread the sauce on the top of the loaf.
  7. Continue cooking for another 40 minutes.
In the past I have added a 1/4 cup of almond flour for the extra binding but I have found with this particular recipe it is not needed. If you would like a bit of sweetness with the sauce you can add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of real honey. 

Serve with Mock Potatoes ( mashed cauliflower) or sweet potatoes "chips."

Eat Well Be Healthy.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Are You Totally Prepared?!

Over the years since I started this blog I have posted several Emergency Preparations list for people to follow.

Our family often jokes that we are preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse but the reality is that anything can happen. 

Take for instant the current weather on the East Coast that shut down Atlanta, Georgia and most of Texas.

In previous posts I have shared how to create a Bug Out Box and Basic Emergency Preparation; especially for an Evacuation. 

It is inevitable that people are going to be hurt and get sick. A simple scratch can easily become infected and become septic. An item that is often over looked in emergency preparation are medical supplies. The average person has a few bandages and possibly an antibiotic cream. 

Please consider including into your Bug Out Box a medical kit. Medical kits are bit larger then First Aid Kits. 

A Basic Professional Medical Kit can run you between $200-Thousands....

Ready Project is a site that carries various different size medical kits. Check out their site here. Inside this 6lb medical kit you will find:

6) 2" x 2" Gauze Pads
(8) 3" x 3" Gauze Pads
(3) 4" x 4" Gauze Pads
(4) Blood Stoppers
(1) Sting Relief
(1) CPR Mouthpiece
(6) Tongue Depressors
(18) 1" x 3" Band-Aids
(1) Tweezers
(1) Whistle
(1) Stethoscope
(1) Thermometer
(3) ACE Bandages
(6) Pain Stoppers
(6) Non Aspirin Pain Relief Pills
(6) Buffered Aspiring Pain Relief Pills
(4) Ice Packs
(6) Pairs of Nitrile Gloves
(2) Solar Blankets
(6) Sterile Eye Pads
(3) Containers of Sun Block
(3) 4" x 7" Combines
(12) 3" x 1.5" Knuckle Bandages
(6) Fingertip Bandages
(4) 3" x 4" Non-Adhesive Bandages
(1) Ammonia Inhalant (10-Pack)
(6) 2" x 3" Patch Bandages
(12) Sanidex Antimicrobial Wipes
(12) Alcohol Preps
(12) Antiseptic Towelettes
(2) Wire Splints
(9) Antibiotic Ointments
(6) Iodine Prep Pads
(6) Sterile Gauze Rolls (2 x 6 yards)
(3) Adhesive Tap (1 x 10 yards)
(4) Triangular Bandages
(6) Large Butterfly Bandages
(6) Towelettes
(1) Carrying Case
(1) Paramedic Scissors
(6) 4" x 4" Burn Free
(8) 1/8 ounce Burn Fee
(1) Life Savers
(2) Chapsticks
(1) 27 Page First Aid Book
(1) SAM Splint
(1) QuickClot

The liquids and gels need to be replaced every 1 1/2- 2 years
Also, add your own personal medication to this collection. It has been recommended that people who  need special medication have a 30 day supply. Please contact your medical professional to discussion plans to keep store and acquire these additional supplies. 
The rest of the website I recommend to explore too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Home Made Water Filters without Chemicals.

We had a minor catastrophe with our water source. Viking Dad made an emergency fliter for our pond/cistern with spare parts found around the property and workshop. We have an awesome Ace Hardware store in our Humble Little Town in which they are more then happy to supply materials for our Homestead. The emergency filter worked so well that we decided to make a formal one and document the process. This filter was able to filter about 500 gallons of water. 

The following post comes directly from the email Viking Dad wrote to the manager of Ace Hardware---- 

  Another Utility/Emergency/Survival/Practical project.  I recently had a minor ecological disaster in my garden pond when it was contaminated by left over oils and odd roof runoff from a 55 gallon rain capture barrel that wasn't quite completely cleaned prior to installation.  My fish and pond were dying and I needed a quick filter.  I built the first filter with scavenged parts from the workshop and used the pond pump to lift the pond water up to the filter.  The filter was able to completely filter out the contaminants.  The water from the filter was clear and drinkable (yes drinkable) after about 10 minutes of running (getting the dust out the gravel).  We could watch the oils and contaminants being trapped in the top layer of the sand filter.  Within 24 hours we could see a dramatic change in the clarity of the water, and could see the fish and plants responding well. The pump and filter completely cleared the 500 gallon pond after about a week.

I did not take the time to document my original emergency creation. The original bucket had a huge crack in it (but still functional for the emergency) and the sand now needs replacing.  So I built its replacement under calmer circumstances and took the time to document the construction process.

These five pages show the step by step process to build a Sand and Gravel Water Filter using components acquired at our local Ace Hardware.  
  • Ace 5 Gallon Plastic Bucket
  • Play Sand
  • All Purpose Gravel
Not necessarily from Ace:
  • Canvas scrap (could be from bag or tarp)
  • Brace (Hand Drill - any will work)
  • Barrel Pump (or other pump of choice)
  • Box Cutter
  • Drill bit
  • Hose

The Rain Water Collection Project was a previous project using Ace parts

ACE Hardware!!!

Sand and Gravel water filter in a bucket. 

Prepare the Bucket
1. Mark the drain holes with a permanent marker
Marking the location of the holes. 

2. Drill the holes
A hand drill was used for this project but an electric drill can be used if on slow.
This is to prevent cracking.

3. Trim and clean the hole.

Use a sharp blade to clean the holes.
This will create a cleaner flow.

4. Prepare the filter material: Gravel and Play Sand, Canvas Disk

1. Play Sand- should be clean and sterile. No beach sand
2. Pea gravel.
3. Canvas fabric-unbleached

Canvas fabric

5. Cut the canvas disk about two inches wider than the bucket

6. Add a few large stones at the drain holes, then fill in 2 inches of gravel

The extra big stones protect the drain holes which improves your flow.

7. Press in the canvas disk, fold the edges to make a ‘bowl’

8. Add an inch of sand to the center of the disk

9. Press the sand to the sides to hold up the canvas ‘bowl

10. Add sand up to the top of the canvas

11. Add an inch of gravel on top of the sand

12. Add hose or pipe from pump
This is a garden hose that is connected the hand pump.

13. Add water

This filter was designed to filter water from our rain barrels. Rain  water is collected
from the rain gutters into these barrels. A hand pump is then used to pump the water from the barrels to the
"cistern." The cistern is a re-purposed hot tub. 

14. Watch filtered water drain out

This filter was able to clean 55 gallons of water plus the 500 gallons from the cistern in 12 hours.
Water was clean enough to see the bottom of the cistern and water the chickens, safely.

Our local ACE Hardware have been awesome support to us with our projects. We are rather loyal to them. But, if you do not have an ACE Hardware near by any 5 gallon bucket of choice will work. I recommend that the bucket be new and clean. 

Replace sand with clean sand as needed. 

Bless Bless

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Paleo Cheat Sheet

"Viking Mom! Why can't I eat Nightshade plants? I love tomatoes!"

Not everyone who starts the Paleo diet has to eliminate foods found in the Nightshade family. But, the question remains. What can I eat?

 It can be difficult to decide what is "Paleo" and what is not when first starting. A lot depends on why you want to be on the Paleo diet. 

Here is a quick reference sheet to get you started. 

1. Eat a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, and healthy fats.

2. Don't eat added sugars. 
This includes "organic" sugar and artificial sweeteners, Never drink sodas.

3. Don't eat grains and legumes.
This includes: soy, rice, corn, wheat, and any grain product like pasta, breads, cereals, as well as legumes (beans) and white potatoes. Sweet potatoes and yams are safe (Thank the Gods!)

4. Don't eat processed vegetable oils
This includes canola, corn, soybean, peanut and cottonseed oils. Olive oil and coconut oil will become your staple. 

5. Don't eat any factory-processed foods.
If it comes in a box, most likely you shouldn't eat it. Dr. Weil suggests that if you can't pronounce it then don't eat. (Love that suggestion!)

6. Eat dairy only if it is from grass-fed animals and you can digest it well. 
This includes ghee butters and cheeses. Once you have a taste of raw organic milk from cows that have fed off clover and grass you will not go back to "normal milk."

7. Plan one or two cheat meals a week if it keeps you on track. 
Try to "treat not cheat" by indulging in more decadent paleo foods, occasionally. (My weakness is chocolate. )

8. Exercise regularly and intensely, and rest. 
Give yourself rest days throughout the week and extended rest every couple of weeks. We are a nation of "on the go people" in dire need of rest. 

9. Get a full night's sleep in a dark room every night. 
Try not to follow asleep with your television or tablets et al in your hands. It is theorized that the electrical fields off these items effect our sleep patterns. 

10. Drink lots of water!!!!!

11. Don't drink much or any alcohol, and avoid caffeine late in the day. (Ha! I can still have my coffee in the morning!)

As for the Nightshade question. Some people genetically can't eat nightshade plants, which include tomatoes, white potatoes, and cayenne peppers. It is suggested in some Paleo cookbooks in which health is a focus that some people eliminate this in their diet. As always, make sure you discuss any changes in your diet and lifestyle with a medical professional. 

Eat well, be healthy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Waldorf Education and Boy and Girl Scouts

"Oh, we don't do Girl Scouts in a Waldorf school."

And with that ignorant comment no one stepped forward in our circle of "Waldorf" parents to buy Girl Scout cookies from my daughter last year. This bothered me greatly since many of the values that are within the Waldorf Community can also be found in Girl and Boy Scouts. I also know for a fact that this particular parent bought Girl Scout cookies while at home. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is hypocrisy. 

Over this last year I have been researching and learning about Rudolf Steiner's Threefold Social Order and how it can or could be applied to Boy and Girl Scouts. It is the Threefold Social Order that the Waldorf schools are modeled upon. 

Here is what I have discovered, learned and applied from the lecture "The Nature of the Social Question in the Life of Modern Man" by Rudolf Steiner.

In 1917, at the end of the World War I, Europe was in desperate need of a new model of government and a way to heal from the devastation of the war. Rudolf Steiner developed the idea of a Threefold Social Order between 1917 and 1922. At the heart of this idea is the recognized three domains of the human social activity: economics, legal, and culture. Rudolf Steiner believed that the health of human society depended on the understanding of each of these domains. It needs to be stated clearly that this model is not socialism nor is it capitalism. Please don't confuse it with a utopia world either. 

(You)The Economic Realm: where nature provides in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms the commodities that meet human needs. The idea of "brotherhood" meets the needs of all human beings on the planet. Further discussions on the financial aspect of economic life can be found on Dr. Stephen E. Usher site "Rudolf Steiner's Threefold Social Order"

(We) The Legal Domain also known  Rights Realm: This is the realm where the laws that govern the behavior of society equally. This is the realm where human rights are discussed. There is no room for business or business law here unless it pertains to human rights. This realm was established to help defend the rights of individual cultures and countries from foreign intrusion and military power. Steiner was not a pacifistic but he didn't want to see countries invades and dominated by other countries over ideologies and economics. 

(I) The Culture Realm: This realm is about the cultivation and recognition of the human capacity. Human capacities, according to Steiner are "the spiritual endowments that rain in upon the earth with the births of the new human  beings." It is the culture realm that is tasked to finding the best way to develop the human capacity.  

 In a newspaper article Steiner described this freedom:

" The Culture Life aims at a form of cooperation among men [women] to be based entirely on the free intercourse and free association of individuality. Here human individuality will not be forced into an institutional mold. How one person assists another, how on helps another advance will simply arise from what one, through his own abilities and accomplishments, is able to be for the other. It is not great wonder that presently many people are still able to imagine nothing but a state of anarchy as a result of such a free form of human relations in the social orders spiritual cultural branch. Those who think so simply do not know what powers of man's innermost nature are hindered from expanding when man is forced to develop in the pattern into which the state and economics system mold him. Such powers, deep within nature, cannot be developed by institutions, but only through what one being calls forth the perfect freedom from another being."

(One) Movement: Steiner envisioned that society should be structured so that each of the three realms had their own organization and autonomy but could come together through negotiations on matters that were common ground and concerns.

This is where Boy and Girl Scouting can fit in with the Threefold Social Order. 


Rudolf Steiner strongly encouraged families to have a spiritual faith and have their children raised within that faith. That is what both Girl and Boy Scouts encourage- (Culture)

Rudolf Steiner strongly encouraged building a stronger community and culture. (Economics)

Rudolf Steiner lectured extensively about Human Rights and equality. The Girl Scouts in connection with the United Nations established goals to help young girls learn about the plight and lives of other children around the world. The Service Projects that both the Girl and Boy Scouts create are focused to help them understand how to help their community and society. (Legal)

The badges, journeys, belt loops, Eagle Award and Gold Awards that the Boy and Girl Scouts earn through out their journey in scouting are to help develop personal skills that can be used in the future. Lord Robert Baden- Powell of the Boy Scouts and Juliette Gordon Low of the Girl Scouts discovered that young adults were not prepared for the real world. Creating the the Boy and Girl Scouts Lord Baden-Powell and Lady Gordon Low created a path for young people to develop skills for the future. This is the core of Rudolf Steiner's Threefold Social Order- (One Movement)

The Girl Scout cookie sales is the number one entrepreneurial and goal setting program for girls in the United States. Girls learn how to set goals, philanthropy, entrepreneurial skills, money management, and communication skills while selling cookies. Money raised during this time are applied towards troop activities, service projects and individual girls personal goals. Selling Girl Scout cookies (Boy Scouts have other opportunities to raise money) involves all realms of the Rudolf Steiner's Threefold Social Model. 

Would you like to buy Girl Scout Cookies?

For further reading check out:

Dr. Stephen E. Usher's article on Rudolf Steiner and Economics applied to the Threefold Social Order here..

Rudolf Steiner, The Threefold Social Order

Bless Bless