Category Archives: homestead

In Memory of Neighbor Dave

Dave Marquardt was our Neighbor.

That doesn’t sound like much, maybe. The word “neighbor” doesn’t mean more than houses in proximity, for most. But Dave helped teach us what being a Neighbor can mean.

See, Dave died last week. And I really couldn’t have predicted how hard it would hit, so literally close to home – and how major this transition into a future without Neighbor Dave would feel.

As I searched through ten years of blog posts, it became clear how present he had been throughout our history here, how instrumental in the creation of the field, the high tunnel, the root cellar … and our life here in the Barrens. So I brought some of those stories together, hoping to sketch a portrait of the Neighbor whom we have been so lucky to have.

Neighbor Dave delivers a beautiful chicken of the woods mushroom he found while mowing (August 2020)

Won’t you Be My Neighbor: a Decade of Dave

From the beginning, Dave and his tractor helped us prepare the field – driving past in 2011, he’d seen Kristin struggling alone to bring forth food from the sand and weeds, without tools, irrigation, or fencing … just her pure indefatigable gumption.

Dave loved to reminisce about those early days, how impressed he’d been, how he’d driven over and introduced himself… and began the relationship that would nurture our farm and family for years to come.

I used to call Dave “Tractor Man” – imagining a rural super hero in a John Deere-green cape who heard the distress call and came swooping in to save the day.

“This week, we finally cut down the “Ultimate Ticking Time Bomb” – the dead oak that leaned over the trailer and loomed over our bed. Neighbor Dave brought his tractor and a long cable over, and pulled the tree away from our home, while Kristin worked the chainsaw.

Of course, the old tree didn’t go without a fight – after it was “safely” down and we were removing the branches, one of them broke under tension and came flying freakishly up off the ground, broken end spinning around to punch Gabe just above the upper lip, splitting his face open. Dave got us a razor to shave it to the skin, so that his tape strips would hold the wound closed – although it was deep, it was remarkably clean, allowing it to mend nicely.”

September 24, 2014

Notably, in the decade we’ve been here full time, we never had to worry about being trapped in by the snow – because Neighbor Dave made our driveway a part of his plow routine, keeping our path clear even when we were Down South for the season.

After our first year living on the farm, we managed to get ourselves stuck in the Marquardts’ driveway on our way out of town … and Dave pulled us out, the first of many similar times that “Marquardt Search & Rescue” would save the day.

“Over the two days before we planned to leave, a storm buried the farm beneath 16 inches of snow – and nearly trapped us there. The snowplow took 2 and a half days to clear the road, just in time for us to leave – and our amazing neighbors Dave & Marcia helped us escape – plowing us out, and then pulling us up and out of their driveway when we got stuck there while trying to drop off some veggies as we departed.”

November 26, 2014

Building the 70x30x15′ high tunnel greenhouse was a huge undertaking for us, and if it wasn’t for Neighbor Dave’s help, we might be working on it still. When the semi truck first arrived with the new high tunnel kit within, we were instantly in trouble – we had no way to unload it all, other than unloading the entire truckload by hand, a piece at a time … but then Tractor Man swooped over and made short work of the unloading project … and kept on heroing for the rest of the build, from preparing the site and the soil and leveling and setting the foundation posts with his friend’s laser level, to anchoring the massive end posts, to hoisting us up to secure the fasteners along each rib, and getting the plastic over the top when the frame was completed.

April 2015 – Neighbor Dave doing some tractormancy on a pile of aged horse manure, to prepare the soil for the new high tunnel greenhouse

“Construction went faster this week – in part because we had more experience, but largely because we had good help – Jim continued as project foreman, and we were joined by Neighbor Dave and his tractor – which allowed us to forgo awkward tippy ladder work, and instead simply work from inside the raised bucket, with all the necessary equipment and tools up with us.”

August 11, 2015

Of course, his neighborliness went far beyond tractoring … Dave was generous beyond compare – with tools, food, drink, and his time. At first, having never been exposed to such consistent and profound generosity, I thought the neighbors just thought we were super awesome … but eventually realized it was more the case that the Neighbors were super awesome, and we just so happened to have been the lucky fools that landed next to them.

“Neighbors Dave & Marcia kept our flock of hens happy throughout the winter, provided us with additional firewood to fuel both the greenhouse heater and the new WWOOFer cabin, lent us gopher traps and taught us their use, tools, and best of all, their tractor!

Plus, when I was despondent thinking I’d killed our well pump (it turned out to just be a flipped breaker in the generator), Marcia brought over rhubarb custard dessert and ice cream; I literally cannot imagine better neighbors to have.”

Dave helping inoculate shiitake logs

As we explored the neighborhood and tested our capabilities, we got ourselves into various jams – and Neighbor Dave was always incredibly willing and remarkably able to help us out of them – we dubbed the neighbors “Marquardt Search & Rescue,” after the pattern became evident over the years …

“… in short order, we were well and truly stuck, the van having excavated a pit around the front passenger tire, the van resting on a deep, soft bed of sand.

The sun was setting, we were miles from anything, with two dogs and a baby. Fortunately, when I hiked up the hill, I was able to get phone service – and even more fortunately, was able to get in touch with our amazing neighbor (and CSA Member!) Marcia, who came and rescued us, as we walked down the road in our mosquito netting, as Otis laughed and cooed and thought this novel experience was the most fun he’d had in days.

The next morning, Neighbor Dave – the other half of the Marquardt Search & Rescue Operation – came out with his truck and helped pull the van out of the sand pit it languished in …”

July 31, 2018

That wasn’t the only times we got unstuck Dave rescued us from getting ourselves stuck in the barrens .. Otis still remembers the time he saw his first rainbow, as we waited on a logging road for Tractor Man to come pull us out of the massive puddle we’d mired the Subaru in …

Dave saves us from the muck

Oftentimes, the rescues were not because we were literally stuck, but mired over our heads in projects that were made easy with Neighbor Dave’s help … they neighbors would somehow know we could use help without being asked, with heroes’ spidey-sense …

“I began the struggle of tilling through the remaining roots and weed stalks with our little walk-behind … when I heard “STOP! STOP!” through my hearing protection.

And lo and behold – like an angel there appeared Neighbor Marcia, bearing glad tidings – Neighbor Dave had the tiller attachment hooked up to their tractor, and he could come and make short work of the area I was in if we could take down the fence a bit for access. And now the thick growth has been transformed into a nice fluffy uniform soil, ready to have salad mix, beet, cilantro, and dill seeds sown directly into for the late season’s harvests.”

Neighbor Dave tilling some of the field in 2018

Dave teaches Kristin how to excavate the hole for the root cellar

Neighbor Dave unloading the huge pallets & the semi dolly (August 25, 2020)

Even this last year, as his health problems mounted, Neighbor Dave made the CSA newsletter a couple times, first with the generous bounty of grapes shared with us from the booming vineyard Dave had cultivated …

“We have one just neighboring home out here on the farm, kitty corner from us. We have always considered ourselves incredibly lucky to have them – and now you can share a little bit in our fortune with this jelly. Neighbor Dave & Neighbor Marcia aren’t just neighbors and O.G. CSA members – they’re also vignerons! OK, I had to look that word up – they cultivate a lovely vineyard, and last fall it was bursting with grapes … a bounty that they shared with us! We don’t make wine … but we sure love homemade jelly. So enjoy some unique grape jelly, made by your farmers, with wine grapes from fellow CSA members!”

June 13, 2023

… and then with an epic final tractor rescue, where we were able to witness Neighbor Dave in his zone, working his flow state, making a complex and seemingly impossible rescue look easy, his tractor not a mere machine, but an extension of his good-natured and helpful will …

Neighbor Dave evaluates the destroyed goat manure trailer

“Things seemed hopeless for the trailer and its load of fertilizer … until our friend, neighbor, and CSA member Dave rolled up on his tractor like a knight in shining armor and saved the day. He and Grandpa Jim coordinated an amazing mechanical ballet, effortlessly spinning the crippled trailer around to level it and tipping it vertically to empty it out into a pile the tractor bucket made quick work of cleaning up (transferring it to the neighbors’ larger dump trailer).”

“With that trailer along with Dave’s truck, we were able to go back and use shovels, wheelbarrows, and the skid steer to clear out about half of the barn and get the contents home to be used next year. It was a lot of work and stressful when the trailer imploded, but everything got back on track so quickly and easily – thanks to the power of experienced and kindly neighbors – that it felt like something good that happened, instead of something … well, yeah, shitty.

Sometimes you need those little tragedies as opportunities to let the good times roll, the good people shine, the serendipity and magic and blessings that surround us to reveal themselves. And sometimes it’s literally poop. I love this life …”

July 11, 2023

… and sometimes, it’s the big tragedies we need, to realize how lucky we have been – to have had Dave Marquardt as our friend, as a teacher … and as a Neighbor in the most powerful and meaningful sense of that term, in a way that I never understood a neighbor could be, until our neighbors here patiently, wordlessly taught me.

We loved you, Neighbor Dave – and if we didn’t know what we had until it was gone, I guess it’s because some things are too big, too prevalent, to really notice properly as discrete things – when they are the environment, the bedrock, the conditions that make life possible .

We do know, now … deep in our guts, in the knots in our throats, and in our hearts as we look around the Farm every day and still see Neighbor Dave, larger than life, in every direction.

His spirit is built into the foundations here, and we glimpse his twinkling smile in a visiting dragonfly, and a punny mushroom in the chicken yard.

Dave, we are going to sorely miss your living presence in our lives – but we will never be apart from your spirit here.

Thanks, Neighbor.

Operation Root Cellar

Although the field has been frozen and dead for months now, we’ve been enjoying meals from it every day –  we had kale that was indistinguishable from fresh-picked in December, and we’re enjoying perfect potatoes, carrots, beets, shiitake mushrooms, parsnips, cabbages, peppers, onions, leeks, cilantro, and parsley – all pulled as needed from the the cool humidity of our newly-completed root cellar.

There are some details to be completed still – the ventilation pipes need finishing, and the onset of hard freezes happened before we could build out the shelving or the internal door between the two rooms – but it’s likely always going to be a work in progress, like everything else here on the farm. It’s being used, and working as intended – so, done enough!

Click through the photo gallery to see how it was built …

We were awarded a grant from WWOOF-USA’s Small Farm Grant Program that helped cover a good chunk of the construction expenses – as part of it, they required that we submit a 3 minute video … so here it is for your viewing pleasure! Sorry about the awful lyrical pun.

… and if you’re really curious, here’s the grant proposal we submitted – if we hadn’t received it, I really don’t know if we would have gotten the project off the ground!

Project Proposal

As an off-grid farm, we face unique challenges in vegetable production at every step of the process.

The storage of harvested crops has been a significant obstacle, without access to the modern convenience of electric refrigeration. We have handled this as best we can for the past four years by leaving root crops in the field until ready to eat or sell them, harvesting in the early morning the same day as farmers markets and CSA deliveries, time-intensive and time-sensitive canning, avoiding crop rotations that require mass harvesting, and through cooperation with an on-grid neighbor.

We seek a more efficient and sustainable, less energy-intensive and wasteful method of food storage.

Rather than connect to the electric company or attempt to build an off-grid version of the modern solutions used by other farms in our area (i.e. a walk-in refrigerator powered by a much larger solar panel/battery system), we are looking at the age-old methods used by traditional agriculturalists across times and cultures – using the stable temperatures and moisture of the Earth itself to keep the food we grow fresher, longer.

Toward this end, our research has led us to an earthen-floored root cellar, to be built on the wooded slope near our field. This will allow us to harvest when weather and growth dictate, and store crops protected from temperature extremes, precipitation, desiccation, animals, insects, and decay until they are to be used.

Project goals:
  • Creation of a 12×12’ two-room root cellar with required temperature and humidity provided by the earth, appropriate for the off-grid short and long-term storage of crops grown on our farm
    (the front room will provide a drier storage space which is cooler in winter and warmer in summer. The variation between sections allows for better storage conditions for different crops.)
  • During severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, the root cellar will serve as storm shelter for farmers and WWOOFers.
  • Follow best practices and design considerations from the book “Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage off Fruits and Vegetables” by Mike and Nancy Bubel
The Que Sehra Farm Root Cellar furthers WWOOF-USA’s mission:
  • By working with next year’s WWOOFers to build the root cellar, and with future WWOOFers to work with the root cellar (storing fresh produce, making meals using root-cellared produce, monitoring and adjusting stored food, etc.) the Que Sehra Farm root cellar will serve to re-connect all who live, work, and eat on our farm to a pre-industrial practice found across cultures. This provides an ongoing educational exchange, reviving knowledge of essentially lost cultural practices to the young farmers of the future.
The Que Sehra Farm Root Cellar will benefit:
  • Kristin and Gabe Sehr as farmers and homesteaders, and our growing community of WWOOFers, shareholders, family, friends, neighbors … our tribe, striving to reduce our dependence upon systems which we’d prefer not to support or engage with. We will be able to produce more in our small field by harvesting storage crops as soon as they reach maturity and using the freed up space to plant another succession of crops. We will provide fresh food for our community later into the fall and winter, a major goal for our short growing season.
  • The experience we gain in root cellaring (principles, construction, use, maintenance) with be shared with WWOOFers for many years to come, and we all will bring that with us as we travel through the world to other WWOOF farms.
  • Finally, our root cellar will serve as a storm shelter for ourselves and our hosted WWOOFers. We currently have no safe space to go in the event of a tornado; the trailer homes and simple shacks that we and our guests stay in are notoriously dangerous in severe weather. This is not an insignificant concern; in our state we average 30 tornadoes each year, and many more severe thunderstorms. In 2015 we had a WWOOFer suffer a full-on panic attack when a big thunderstorm came through. I’m writing this proposal while WWOOFing in south-central Georgia, where two days of tornadoes have just killed over a dozen people in the vicinity – and we were grateful for the brick structures our host farm had for us to shelter within.  Storm safety is a meaningful secondary benefit that a root cellar would provide for us, as a WWOOF host farm.
The Que Sehra Farm Root Cellar will affect positive change:
  • By making off-grid, organic farming more economically viable, more labor-efficient, and sustainable, and by serving as an example of how this can be done for others who wish to avoid the costs and burdens of dependence upon the power grid.
  • By making it possible for us to bring a significantly greater quantity and quality of organic produce to our network of local food consumers.
Que Sehra Farm Profile

Kristin and Gabe Sehr both live and work full time on our farm from early March through late November with the help of WWOOFers, and when our land freezes, we WWOOF throughout the southern United States on other organic farms, learning new approaches & networking with like-minded people.

Our farm is on a small parcel of Sehr family land, which had been used previously for camping and hunting. With what we grow on the land, we feed ourselves, our WWOOFers, and a 25-member CSA, as well as sell produce through our local farmers market, and wholesale to local restaurants. We keep just over 1 acre in outdoor vegetable production, in addition to a 70×30’ high tunnel greenhouse, various perennial and fruit trees, and mushroom cultivation logs. We value the uncultivated areas as wildlife habitat.

Que Sehra Farm is not connected to the utility grid; our water comes from our well, our heat from the red oak trees that grow on most of our land, and our electricity needs are met by our modest solar energy system. Although we are not certified and are not interested in becoming so, we grow organically. We focus on low input methods. We hand pick pests, weed with hand tools, rotate crops for disease prevention, and apply abundant amounts of organic mulch and compost.

2017 will be our fourth year of hosting WWOOFers on our farm. When we started in 2013, WWOOFers had to sleep in tents, and we barely had enough solar power to run the lights. We’ve made many improvements since then, but still work, eat, and live side by side with the WWOOFers who come here.

We have hosted over twenty WWOOFers through the program, and plan on continuing to serve as hosts for the foreseeable future – from our first conception of radical lifestyle change, WWOOF has been the central pillar making it all possible – living simply without expensive winters or employees, forming a shifting tribe living in mutually-beneficial cooperation, depending on one another more than corporations and government.

We plan to remain small scale – avoiding the increased debt and expense that scaling-up is accompanied by. We plan to remain off grid, and continue to focus more on how we can thrive with less money, rather than how to make more, as is the standard path in our culture. A root cellar will provide security for us as homesteaders who grow as much of our own food as possible, and as farmers who earn our living from the land.

Hibernation to Germination 2017

Widget requests picking up
Widget requests picking up

Three days ago, I packed up all my wool blend socks, sweaters, long underwear, and winter boots.

some of the new chickens had never been outside before coming here. they thought that the snow was lava and went to ridiculous lengths to avoid touching it
some of the new chickens had never been outside before coming here. they thought that the snow was lava and went to ridiculous lengths to avoid touching it

I was feeling optimistic, and perhaps hoping that by taking this step I would help do my part to ensure that winter goes away for the year. I’ve been premature in my Spring-faith before – even just earlier this month a wet, heavy snow took out the gutter I’d eagerly reinstalled on the side of our high tunnel greenhouse, hoping to collect some early rainwater for the first high tunnel crops.

snow cover from inside the greenhouse
snow cover from inside the greenhouse

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when this cold snap hit – highs in the 30s, lows in the 20s. I just finished putting sheets and buckets over the raspberry canes, rhubarb, and asparagus, which are apparently just as foolishly optimistic as I.

But even with more snow and cold, it’s indubitably Spring, albeit USDA Zone 4a style. Nature’s signs are everywhere – the evening choruses of peepers have returned, the evil quack grass is lushly taunting me, we’ve had our first tick and mosquito bites, and the hungry black bears have begun their raids on the Neighbors’ birdhouses.

emerging rhubarb brain
emerging rhubarb brain

Robins are twitterpating, dandelions blooming, rhubarb and asparagus emerging from their subterranean winter slumber.

frost bow arcs over the newly-fenced field (electric polytape for the deer, and chickenwire beneath for the rabbits and raccoons)
frost bow arcs over the newly-fenced field (electric polytape for the deer, and chickenwire beneath for the rabbits and raccoons)

Human signs of Spring abound as well – we have the fence up around the field to defend against critters great and small, the loggers are back to ravaging the surround forests, and we joined the annual horde of scavengers to Bloomington’s Curbside Pickup days to get free materials for the farm.

a good haul of materials for the farm, thanks to the annual Curbside Pickup in Bloomington MN
a good haul of materials for the farm, thanks to the annual Curbside Pickup in Bloomington MN


The first big push of seeds are all done germinating, and have now moved out of the trailer (where we kept them toasty near our woodstove), and into the greenhouse.

In there, the seedlings get ample sunlight during the days, and the hot weather plants (peppers, tomatoes, etc) stay warm overnights on the rocket-heater-warmed clay bench (we’ve improved our firing routine such that they’re enjoying temperatures around 30 degrees warmer than outside, all night long).

firing the rocket mass heater for a night of warmth
firing the rocket mass heater for a night of warmth

using an infrared sensor to read the top of the barrel temp (at these high end temps, the center of the lid glows faintly although you can't see it here)
using an infrared sensor to read the top of the barrel temp (at these high end temps, the center of the lid glows faintly although you can’t see it here)


warm season crops snug under cover on the heated bench, while more hardy cool weather crops hang out in the nude
warm season crops snug under cover on the heated bench, while more hardy cool weather crops hang out in the nude

The first rows were planted in the high tunnel a couple of weeks ago – reluctantly, since we discovered that rabbits have been partying in there through the nights, and we feared devastation … but a combination of scent deterrents, homemade hot pepper spray, and wire fencing seems to have moved them on to less hostile environments.

skulking rabbit in the high tunnel
skulking rabbit in the high tunnel


In the last couple of days, the first field plants went into the ground, ready to soak up the days of rain that followed – peas, salad mix, turnips, radishes.

In other news, we’ve doing lots of spring cleaning around the farm, building a larger screen porch in preparation for the annual mosquito blood- drive, clearing out a patch of large oak-wilted trees to make room to plant new fruit trees (and to make firewood of course), plugging new mushroom logs, using the chickens to break down our abundant piles of oak leaves for use in compost, and experimenting with controlled burns in the meadows and woods on the margins of the field.


Holy shiitake! The logs we plugged two years ago are putting out tons of delicious mushrooms
Holy shiitake! The logs we plugged two years ago are putting out tons of delicious mushrooms

fresh shiitakes & fresh eggs with spicy noodle leftovers
fresh shiitakes & fresh eggs with spicy noodle leftovers

Sehr family project - Kristin with Matriarch and Patriarch Sehr, working on the expanded and improved screen porch
Sehr family project – Kristin with Matriarch and Patriarch Sehr, working on the expanded and improved screen porch

Eugene helping with the screen porch roof
Eugene helping with the screen porch roof


froooooost on the gaaaaaarlic (dum dum-dum, dum-dum dum dum, dum-dum dum, dumm dummmm!)
froooooost on the gaaaaaarlic (dum dum-dum, dum-dum dum dum, dum-dum dum, dumm dummmm!)

hens checking out the fresh;y-tilled soil. Hope they devoured some cutworms
hens checking out the fresh;y-tilled soil. Hope they devoured some cutworms

down, down, down in a burning ring of fire
down, down, down in a burning ring of fire

Fire Marshal Neighbor Marcia supervises one of our burns
Fire Marshal Neighbor Marcia supervises one of our burns


We’ve battled quack grass, spotted a fisher (a giant weasel basically), cursed the insanely-intelligent voles … and sat inside on a chilly gray day and finished this webpage update for you.

Rain and sleet cannot dampen Kristin's commitment to her post running the booster fire for the greenhouse, as we charge up the thermal mass to keep the warm season seedlings toasty through a night in the 20s
Rain and sleet cannot dampen Kristin’s commitment to her post running the booster fire for the greenhouse, as we charge up the thermal mass to keep the warm season seedlings toasty through a night in the 20s

if you look very closely, you can see me at the far end of the row, working the broadfork
if you look very closely, you can see me at the far end of the row, working the broadfork

freshly-tilled and ready to rock!
freshly-tilled and ready to rock!

Hope you, too, are enjoying this slow, beautiful transformation from winter to spring! Life is strange and beautiful, and the struggle is the joy … we’re grateful to have such lucky abundance, such interesting problems. and such folks as you in our lives. Thanks!


Craigslist Free Stuff Farm

When we left our civilized city career lives, we set a goal of spending as little money as we could, rather than focusing on ways to make more money. Toward this end, we remain disconnected from the utility grid, eat mostly our farm-grown food, and save money on toilet paper by using tree bark.

OK, that last part was a lie.

(Although we actually did look into, but reject, mullein leaf TP at one point!)

But generally, wherever we reasonably can, we avoid shopping and stores – rather than make a  purchase, we first consider getting by without it, or re-purposing something we already have (which is why a well-stocked “junk pile” is crucial).

Pile de Junkque
Pile de Junkque

We are blessed by our proximity to the Twin Cities, which seems to be one of the more active Craigslist urban areas in the country – and we’ve become pretty effective scavengers on it. As you may know, Craigslist has a “Free” section where people give things away. In many cities, this section is a ghost town populated primarily by unwanted kittens, scams, and people seeking freebies. But not Minneapolis.

If you’ve ever checked it out casually, you probably were not too impressed – lots of old TVs and couches, and if you did find something interesting and tried to make contact, it was already taken by someone else.

Perhaps, someone like us.

The trick to successful Free Craigslisting is vigilance and speed. Anything good will be quickly snatched up, so we check frequently for new posts, and respond to good ones immediately – including our phone number, names, when we can pick up, and maybe even why we want it.

When someone will be getting a ton of responses, you want to stand out from the pack – more than once we’ve been told we were selected from a bunch of emails because we’re an organic farm that wants to use the item – and not a metal scrapper just looking to melt it down for a couple bucks.

More than anything (other than maybe lucky), you need to be flexible – open to using something unexpected, and open to things coming when they come and not when you think they should. (And of course,you need a trailer or a truck to haul the larger items!)

Giving people farm tours at our end-of-season pizza party, I was constantly describing various features as coming to us “free off Craigslist” – which inspired me to try to put a list together, which led to this post.

Here are just some of the many Free Craigslist scores that we rely on at the farm:

  • Semi truck (aka the Barn)

    the semi rolls into place
    the semi rolls into place

    One thing we really lacked in the early days was storage space – places to keep things out of the elements. We really lucked out when we found a free semi truck trailer on the list – and then the means to move it out to the farm came up with ridiculous serendipity.  Parked on the edge of the field, this has become base to our solar panels and batteries, a storage area for field-related tools and supplies, a shade wall for the packing area, and a trellis for hops.

  • Farmers market trailer – born in the 60’s as a pop-up camper, transformed into an ice-fishing shack, and then put up for free adoption on Craigslist- where we found it and brought it home to become our farmers’ market trailer, used to store & haul the canopy, tables, chairs, and miscellany we need for our booth. (Kristin’s dad added a sheet metal wedge to the front to make it more aerodynamic when we found it was like pulling an open parachute down the road).


In spring of 2015, the Albatross gave us two guest bedrooms, a bathroom (now with composting toilet and gravity solar shower),and  a common area living room and kitchen – quite the upgrade, for only the cost of moving it to the farm (it was tricky to get a mover willing to haul such an antique, but we got lucky).

  • The FishHouse ice shack

16×8 feet of insulated, easily-assembled, cozy indoor space for free! This not only has served as WWOOFer housing, but also as our cold weather quarters (also came with a free woodstove), and a controlled environment for sweet potato curing and herb drying.

  • Chickens
    Usually we buy our laying flock, but we got 14 hens for free last spring.

    Kristin does a Free Chicken Selfie

  • 8×12′ Deck

  • 12×18′ Screen Porch – At certain times of day and season, mosquitoes can be a real menace – a free screenporch from someone upgrading their lake cabin’s porch to an all-aluminum version provided us with a much-needed safe haven when the vampires were swarming.

  • Fluorescent lighting – back before we built the little greenhouse, we had to start our seedlings indoors, on wire racks under lights – lights which we scored for free from an office that was switching to LEDs.
  • Fire bricks and clay – we wanted to build a wood-fired rocket mass heater for the greenhouse, on a low budget. Craigslist graciously provided … first thousands of pounds of pure clay (we have literally no clay soil to use on our land), and then piles of insulative fire bricks!

    trailerload of clay 1 of 2 (it was too heavy to take all at once)
    trailerload of clay 1 of 2 (it was too heavy to take all at once)

    from free firebricks ...
    from free firebricks …

    ... to clay greenhouse-heating bench.
    … to clay greenhouse-heating bench.
  • Raspberry bushes – hundreds of them! We just had to dig the roots up from the up-pick raspberry farm that was closing down.  

  • SO MUCH MISCELLANY… such as truck toppers (made into woodshed and chicken coop roofsfurniture, doors, windows, boards, bricks, blocks, hay bales, freezers, ladders, pallets, barrels and several 600 gallon IBC tanks for rainwater storage, water heater tanks, garden carts, two gargantuan 450 lb rolls of paper …… wooden stairs, shelves and cabinets, tons of rocks, hundreds of gallons of potting soil, a propane stove, a giant chalkboard (cut up into signs for the market booth), a clawfoot tub for off-grid hot baths …

    … loads of horse and rabbit manure, hundreds of oranges and grapefruits (made into preserves and juice, while WWOOFing down south) …… a DIY wood-fired water heater core, electric oven turned electric smoker (which we turned wood-fired) …
    … etc! I’ll amend this post as time goes on, since I have no doubt at all that Craigslist will continue to be a source of many free treasures – things that make our deliberately-low-budget lifestyle not only possible, but fun.