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Recipe For Easy Banana Nut Bread

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for yummy banana nut bread, just in time for the approaching holidays!

Ingredients:

1/2 c Butter
1 c Sugar
2 Eggs
4 sm Bananas, mashed
3/4 ts Baking soda
1/2 ts Salt
1 1/2 c Flour
3/4 c Chopped walnuts
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy; add eggs one at a time beating well after
each addition. Stir in bananas. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into bread pan, bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Five Things To Consider Before Moving To The Count...


Okay, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and trade in your urban existence for new life in the country. You’re excited to get started, and make your dreams of a tranquil rural homestead a reality.

But before you give your employer notice and rent a moving van, you should take a moment to carefully consider all the ramifications of such a major life change. This isn’t like trading jobs or moving from one apartment to another, after all. Relocating to the country is more like waking up one morning in a world where everything is much different from what you’re used to.

With that in mind, here are five important things to consider before you make your dream life in the country a reality:

#1  Be sure that you really want to live in the country. This might sound obvious, but more than a few people make the move from city to a rural area, only to discover later that they made a big mistake. So take off the rose colored glasses, and make sure you understand the challenges you and your family will face when you leave the city behind.

You can visit our country living page for a short list of pros and cons and go from there.

#2  Decide what you’ll do once you get there. It’s not enough to say you’d like to live in rural America, you need to know what you’ll do once you get there. Do you plan on going the homestead route, and become self-reliant and raise your own food and livestock? Or are you looking to start a business in the country, like a country inn or bed & breakfast? Or maybe you’re retired, and just want the quite rural lifestyle while still having the comfort and convenience of the city?

Much of this will be determined by your age, your desires and ambition, your financial situation, your level of training, etc. Understand that making a living can be a challenge even for the best prepared, especially in the first year. Many urban job opportunities simply don’t exist in rural America, and many of the jobs that are available are low-wage, manual-labor positions that might be quite different from what you’re used to.

#3  Will you be able to make a living once you relocate?  Some people fall in love with the idea of living in the country, but don’t take into account the economics of the situation. Traditional “city” jobs can be hard to find in rural areas, and if you’re not within commuting distance to a city or large town, this could make it hard to earn a living.

Also keep in mind that farm work and other jobs available in the country typically pay less than urban jobs. This is offset somewhat by the fact that you should be able to produce a lot of your own food and other necessities on a rural homestead, but many urbanites who move to the country have a hard time making ends meet, especially in the beginning.

#4  Identify your ideal property. Again, this will be determined by a number of factors, including what you plan to do with your new life in rural America, how hard you want to work, how much money you have to spend, how much money you need to make, whether you’re single or married with a family, and more.

Consider your answers to question #2 above when deciding on your ideal property. For example, you might be looking for a large rustic home in farm country or the mountains that you can turn into a Bed & Breakfast. Or maybe you want a small homestead on a few acres where you can grow your own food and raise your own livestock. Or perhaps your idea of heaven is a quaint Victorian home located on a quite street in a small Midwestern town.

Then take into account other important characteristics relevant to the region of the country you’re considering, including climate, cost of living, topographic, economic and more. As for the property itself, some important considerations are drainage, availability of clean water, fertility of the soil, whether the site has southern exposure in the winter, access to good roads (especially during the winter months), condition of the septic tank, condition of the main house and any outbuildings, and of course price.

 #5  Don’t be in a hurry to buy.  One of the biggest mistakes urban dwellers who dream of moving to the country make is rushing out and buying the first property they lay their eyes on.  Much like a marriage, this is the kind of life-altering decision that needs to be carefully thought through, and planned for. Always expect the unexpected when moving from the city to a rural area, and be sure that things won’t go as smoothly as you envision.

Visit the area you’re interested over the course of several months, and in different seasons. A location that seems terrific during the warm summer days may seem anything but in the Fall, Winter, and “mud” season when many dirt roads become quagmires. Meet some of the people in the community you’re looking at, and ask them how they like living there, and why. Find out how friendly they seem, and how open they are to new transplants from the city. And of course inspect carefully the property and buildings you plan on buying, and know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line.

This an admittedly short list of considerations. There are entire books written on this subject that cover every aspect of buying property and moving to the country.  Just remember not to rush this process. The goal should always be finding a place where you can put down roots, and where you’ll be happy for a long, long time.

 

 

Adding A Wood Stove To Your Homestead

Wood burning stove in homesteadWell, with October half over and Halloween approaching, the night are certainly getting much cooler here in Colorado.

Winter is just around the corner, and if you’re in the market for a wood or pellet stove, this is a good time to buy one and have it installed in your home.

In the previous blog post we talked about cast iron radiators, but many homesteads in the country aren’t set up for hot water heat, and a good quality wood stove is the best option.

Some folks who do have central heating still buy a wood stove to supplement the heating in their homes, especially in the rooms where the family spends the most time, like in the livingroom or kitchen.

And in fact if the temperature is above freezing outside, often a wood or pellet stove is all you need to keep the entire house warm enough to live in, and much cheaper to operate than a central heating system.

Things to consider when purchasing a wood stove.

There are a wide variety of choices available in stoves, and not just wood or pellet burning models either. There are a number corn burning stoves on the market today, and oil burning models as well. Each has it’s pros and cons, depending on the type of fuel that works best for you, the efficiency of the stove, emissions, how it is constructed, heat output, safety, and of course your budget.

One consideration is whether to buy a cast iron or welded steel stove. The cast iron models are more attractive than welded models, but they cost more, and after a few years they need to be rebuild to seal the joints between the steel panels to keep them from leaking.

Stove efficiency is another important consideration. The newer, certified stoves tend to be more energy efficient than the older models, as combustion technology has improved. Just as newer cars are more efficient at using gasoline, newer wood burning stoves are about one-third more efficient than the older pot belly or box style stoves. This might not sound like much, but consider the fact that you’ll only have to cut and haul two-thirds the amount of wood, and you’ll spend one-third the money if you buy your firewood. Plus efficiency also translates into less emissions, which makes these newer stove better for the environment as well.

If you would like to read a more detailed buyers guide for buying wood or pellet stoves you can visit the site below.

Wood Heat.org website

 

Vintage Cast Iron Radiators Are Reliable And Energ...

cast iron radiator for home heatingIf you grew up in an older home or apartment, or attended an older school building as a child, you now doubt have memories of the cast iron radiators used for heat in these buildings.

I for one have fond memories of these ornate and functional radiators in the elementary school I attended, listening to them softly pop and hiss, and holding my hands up to them to chase away the chill of a brisk autumn day.

Until World War II, hot water heating using cast iron radiators was the most popular form of heating in homes and other buildings. But then, after the war, forced air furnace systems began to replace hot water as the preferred form of home heating.

But recently hot water heating has started to make a comeback, especially with the new radiant in-floor hydronic heating systems being installed in new homes, and retro-fitted into existing homes as well.

This return to hot water heating has also brought with it the return of the classic cast-iron radiators of the early 20th Century. People are re-discovering these sturdy, reliable, and classically styled iron masterpieces and are combining them with their new hot water heating systems.

What most people don’t know is how energy efficient these iron radiators really are. They assume since this is “old” technology that radiators must be inefficient at transferring heat into a room, but that’s not the case. In fact studies have shown that cast iron “rads” as they referred to are quite efficient and delivering heat with properly installed and maintained.

These antique cast iron units work especially well with wood burning or natural gas boilers, and can even be used in solar heating systems as well to give your energy efficiency an added boost.

While many people who decide to choose this method of home heating buy new, reproduction iron radiators, there is another option. Original, refurbished cast iron radiators are available in most areas of the country. After all, there’s nothing like the original, and many times radiators a hundred years old are still in very serviceable condition.

During the refurbishing process, the old paint is removed, revealing the original textures and patina of the metal. Then the interior flushed out and any corrosion removed, and the radiators are repainted and returned to like-new condition.

If you’re considering converting your home to hot water heat in the near future, or you’re buying a new home, you should take a look at antique cast iron radiators as a way to add character and functional elegance to every room.

Fall Is Time For Cover Crop Planting

Well guys, it’s Fall again, and you know what that means (unless you live in a sun-belt state like Florida or Arizona). Fall means cooler temperatures, especially at night. Here in Colorado we’ve already have several nights where temps dipped below freezing, although many of the days have been in the warm 70s and 80s.

The advent of Fall also means it’s the time of the year for those Fall cover crops that add vital organic matter and nutrients to the soil, while at the same time keeping the nutrients that are already there from leeching away during the Winter months. One of the best crops for this type of cover gardening is cereal rye, which is also referred to as winter rye for this very reason.

The cover crops work hand-in-hand with your compost bed, in a rotating cycle throughout the year. When your summer garden crops are finished for the season, save all the remains, including garden residue and weeds, and add them to your compost bed. Then in the Fall, the finished compost from the previous season is taken and spread over your garden bed before you plant your cover crops.

Then the remains of your cover crop will be added to your compost bed in the Spring, and the cycle continues from season to season. A good crop to plant after the compost has been removed is rye, which is great at absorbing stray nutrients that have been left in the soil, then plant corn after the rye.

If you’ve never planted a cover crop you’ll be amazed at the results. It allows you to have a low-maintenance garden during the Winter that’s working to replenish your soil, and lock in vital nutrients that will supercharge your vegetable garden come Spring.

 

 

The Pros And Cons Of Owning A Country Inn

Many people dream of owning a country inn or bed & breakfastIf your dream is to own your own country inn or bed & breakfast, but you’re still on the fence about leaving your current life and career, there are a number of considerations you need to ponder before taking the leap and leaving your old life behind.

If you’re a social person, and you love to cook and entertain, and you yearn to leave the city and live in rural America, this can be ideal business. Many people have a romantic image in their minds of owning an inn or B & B in the country, of a leisurely life sitting out on the porch in a rocking chair and watching the sun set every evening with your blissful guests.

But if you ask anyone who’s been in this business for any length of time, they’ll tell you that is a real business, with all the work and responsibilities that come with it. You’re essential running a hotel, and unless you have employees, you’ll be responsible for cleaning, cooking, and maintaining that hotel, along with dealing with a wide variety of people at the same time.

Here is a short list of many of the pros of running your own bed & breakfast or country inn:

  •  It is your business, and you’re in control of every aspect of it. If you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss, and running the show, then this could be your opportunity do to just that. You won’t have to answer to a boss, you can run the business as you see fit.
  • You get to meet a lot of great people. You’ll find people walking through your door from all parts of the world, and some of them will end up becoming good lifelong friends.
  • You get to live in the country. This is the main draw for many innkeepers, the idea of being able to live in rural America and get paid to do it. And you can beat the commute from your bedroom to the kitchen every morning!
  • You get to cook. If you love cooking, baking, and creating great homecooked meals, this is the perfect business for you.
  • You’ll be able to deduct a portion of your home’s depreciation and operating expenses on your yearly income taxes as legitimate business expenses.

Okay, those are some of the pluses, but like most things in life, there are minuses as well. So what are some of the potential pitfalls of owning a country inn or B & B?

  • Many innkeepers get burned out after a few years. This is especially true if you run your inn or bed and breakfast year round, seven days a week. Think about it – after five years, that’s 1825 days of having guests in your home, cooking and cleaning and entertaining them 24/7. One solution to this problem is to take some vacation time during the “off” season to recharge your battery and your spirits.
  • You’re responsible for everything that happens under your roof. If the hot water heater goes out, you’re responsible for fixing it or having it replaced. If the toilet backs up, you’re responsible for getting it unplugged. If one of your guests is unhappy for any reason, you’re the one they’ll complain to.
  • You can’t call in sick. If you have guests under you’re roof, you’ll have to take care of them, no matter how you’re feeling that day. There are no sick days in this business, unless you can find someone to cover for you until you start feeling better.
  • Owning a country inn or bed & breakfast can be a significant financial commitment. Both to open, and keep running, especially if you experience a long “off season” where guests are few and far between. So run the financial numbers before you jump into this business, and make sure you have a budget that will see you through the first couple of years while you get things off the ground and established.

So there you have it. If you’re dream is to move to the country, or the mountains or along the coast and become an innkeeper, don’t let the potential drawbacks discourage you. Just be aware of them, and realize that this is a real business, and there will be real work involved in keeping it a viable enterprise going forward.