We started out by talking about Ellis’s book, The Woodturner’s Project Book. He approaches his wood turning projects with the care and love of an artist. He blogs about it at http://woodturnedart.wordpress.com/ .
Ellis grew up on a farm in the Oklahoma panhandle, where he learned skills which equipped him for his present circumstances.
In 2004 he and his family began building their straw bale home. They’ve lived in it through various building stages, and it’s still a work in progress. This project has provided family togetherness and plenty of lessons for home schooling their children.
Ellis talked about why he chose to build a straw bale home and gave an overview of how it was done. For anyone interested in building their own home, he recommends Simplified Design of Wood Structures. Though it doesn’t specifically deal with straw bale homes, it helped Ellis build theirs to local county standards. View other recommended reading from Ellis here.
The Heins have four garden plots which must be fenced off to keep deer out. Their Wyoming weather doesn’t allow them to grow as many warm weather crops as Ellis would like. But they grow corn, squash, onions, garlic, greens and more, which helps keep the family fed.
One unusual crop they grow is mangles, a large root crop related to sugar beets. He has started berry bushes and fruit and nut trees, too.
Ellis designed and made a couple of the tools he uses in the garden. He does some raised bed gardening and is learning more about gardening intensively. A product called Planet Food boosts productivity and flavor of cucumbers and other vegetables.
Their teenage children take produce to market to sell. Last summer they made extra money at the market by playing the cello.
Perhaps you’ve seen a guest post he did for DestinySurvival on lacto fermentation for preserving food. Ellis is also an advocate for a healthful diet.
The Heins’ modern pioneer lifestyle has called for a lot of hard work, but Ellis says it’s been worth it. He says there’s a rewarding sense of accomplishment that doesn’t come when doing computer work. There’s something special about doing labor with your hands.
Since the original link for the May 12, 2011, DestinySurvival Radio show no longer works, contact me if you’d like to have a copy of the MP3 file. It’s worth it to hear the whole interview with Ellis Hein. Then you’ll have a better idea of how one family survives by living like modern day pioneers.