We spent a day of work finishing up the broken concrete patio in front of the garage and removing the 7 inch layer of decomposed mulch. Over time the countless spreading of tree trimmings and straw has turned into rich and loamy compost. This soil is now being used in the new beds.   One of the beds was extended out from the house and will become a “tropical paradise” filled with bananas, ginger, papayas and more.

Another bed in the shape of a half moon will surround the cob oven and will be filled with a variety of kitchen, pot herbs and a few striking vegetables and edible flowers.   For this bed we plan to use a traditional and effective form of self irrigation by burying a couple clay pots.

The buried clay pot or pitcher method is one of the most efficient traditional systems of irrigation known. Buried clay pot irrigation uses buried, unglazed, porous clay pots filled with water to provide controlled irrigation to plants.

The water seeps out through the clay wall of the buried clay pot at a rate that is influenced by the plant’s water use. This leads to a very highly efficient irrigation system, even better than drip irrigation, and is as much as 10 times better than conventional surface irrigation.read more >>

Some of the large concrete slabs will stand on end and used to make retaining wall and raised bed area. We are also considering moving a pergola that’s on the far end of the property to the center of the yard.

As for the remaining part of the now open area, we still are working on what we’d like to have in terms of design. We’d like to incorporate more functional trellises and hardscape. There are certainly many choices and concepts that we have to consider, but we’ll first use what is on hand and free at the moment.    Getting a little ahead of ourselves, we are!  Right now, our main concern is concrete that needs to be heaved & hauled – everywhere you turn there seem to be endless piles of concrete.

Here’s something I found the other day about designing your own space.

Prison break

Here’s a excerpt from a 1975 interview with Wendell Berry (below). I like how he points out that he abstained from hiring architects, being adverse to someone else building his world. Everyone should build his own paradise and not be compelled to hire “green” or degreed this or that.   

Glad to see that we aren’t alone in such feelings. I know not everyone has the time or opportunity to DIY and this subject may cause a bit of controversy since there are many who make their living this way. But too many of us are “inmates” of other people’s design and planning, depriving ourselves of “getting dirty” and listening, learning, seeing with our own eyes and heart what are the best options for our own lives and property.

PLOWBOY: In terms of what you’ve called the “love that enforces care”?
BERRY: It’s love that keeps you walking over a place and it’s love that makes you imagine what can be done on it. More and more since Tanya and I have lived on this farm, our life has been taken up with imagining what would be possible. And we’ll be involved in that until we die, or until our energy plays out. Our life here has developed in response to this place and the potential in it. By now we’ve realized some of it, but the most exciting thing is that we know we haven’t realized very much of it.
PLOWBOY: But you let the possibilities grow and mature slowly instead of trying to do everything at once.
BERRY: That’s right, and then you start to make it real. Then you begin to make mistakes too, because that’s part of it. I don’t know the trees I’ve set out here and had to dig up because something we didn’t foresee happened. But that’s part of what you mean by organic. We could have gotten a landscape architect to come here and put this place together—and then we could have lived here like inmates. But we’re living here the way we live inside our skin; it fits us and as we change it changes.

full article >>


We took a look around the kitchen for any unnecessary electrical gadgets or small appliances to rid ourselves of (besides the Energy Star refrigerator ). There is a toaster and high powered juicer that we use occasionally.   This morning, over lunch, it was decided that the plug-in toaster will have to go, leaving only 1 electrical gadget in the entire kitchen ! Instead of the electric toaster we will use the gas stove in the meantime to toast bread or do without. It’s our goal and wip to have a completely unplugged kitchen. What appliance or gadget has you or your family decided to recently unplugged?

A step backwards is progress

As we walk the path to reduce our use consumption of wasteful products over the past five years, Justin has been shaving with a straight razor. It’s quite a fine art shaving your face with such a menacing looking object.   Thankfully, we gals have learned to reject the use of shavers (living in California where anything goes certainly helps!)

Since I am on the subject of basic hygiene, many years ago we also taught ourselves to cut our own hair.   Learning how to DIY, saves us money which can be put to better use else where (around here basic men’s hair cuts go for about $30!). The more you can do for yourself, the better off you are in both acquiring a new skill and saving yourself money.  

We have used one of those nifty electrical hair shears for cutting the guy’s hair since they like their hair cut short (saving them from the very, very time consuming job of brushing hair!!)   But this is certainly one of the very few electrical gadgets that we have that will be fazed out. Luckily, we gals know how to cut hair by hand also, so there won’t be too much trouble in shifting over.


This was in our email box, we really enjoy receiving these types of letters.   Thanks to the ducks, a friend of ours is enjoying eggs once again – wow.

Thanks for those duck eggs…
Tried my first scrambled egg since I was 3 years old this morning and I am still STANDING !!!! without having to gasp for air and having violent convulsions.
Now I need to figure out how to raise some citified ducklings in the backyard next to our pond ! ~ Johan ~

No Comments

  1. Cher says:

    I am interested in why you chose to remove the electric toaster, but you are keeping the gas stove. (I’m not trying to be a smart aleck, BTW — I really want to know what factored into your decision!)

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems that y’all are fairly self-sufficient with generating electricity, while natural gas is not a resource that you can create on the homestead. If you wouldn’t mind explaining for me, a raw beginner in the sustainable lifestyle, why you chose this way, it would be instructive.
    Thank you,

  2. Anais says:

    Hi Cher

    Thanks for commenting and pointed out a very valid observation.

    We are trying to reduce all electricity use and are certainly not advocating gas as an energy source. However, right now, it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to get rid of a toaster as we consider our options for replacing the gas stove and water heater. We are looking at buying a wood cook stove, basically solar technology is only a band-aid solution and, unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect path or solution. Solar technology still allows us to live a high paced lifestyle — only that’s it’s now “green powered.” Our path is more about taking control of our lives, slowing it down to a normal, natural pace.

    Sometimes we are frustrated with our slow progress and we try to eliminate something that isn’t necessarily used.

    I hope this makes sense — sometimes the path isn’t always clearcut.

    Wishing you much success on your journey.

    See you along the path,

  3. Anonymous says:

    Simple, conventional tools are often superior to the complex, high-tech instruments that replace them.
    Technical change ought to be guided by principles of social justice, ecological harmony, and personal dignity rather than the untrammeled pursuit of efficiency and profit.
    It is better to derive energy from renewable resources than from burning oil and coal.
    Methods of organic farming are superior to those of chemical-intensive agriculture.
    Local and regional economies are more sustainable than ones geared to global production and trade.
    The pursuit of a well-balanced life is not compatible with the speed and intensity
    of activity that today’s digital electronics demand.

  4. Anais says:

    Looks like we are on the same wave lenght with the Luddite thought process. I don’t like to label anyone but if that puts on in tune with “neo-luddite” Wendell Berry than I think we are in good company.

    Now if only I could get rid of my computer! Check out Wendell Berry’s essay on ‘Why I am Not Buying A Computer.’


  5. sashwee says:

    Your “read more” link about clay pot irrigation isn’t working. I’d like to read more. Can you fix it?

  6. Anais says:

    Thanks for informing me of the link error.

    The link has been fixed and should work


  7. Jeff says:

    We have five boys and it saves quite a bit of money doing haircuts ourselves. It also allows us to do it at our own convenience and we have some good conversations in the process. All part of Living More With Less. With a good pair of scissors, you can even give a fairly close cut if desired.


  8. Jeff says:


    If you got rid of your computer, how could you continue to inspire folks all across the country?

  9. Anais says:


    Good point 🙂

    Maybe, one day, all people will be living the exact same thing or similar and we’ll be just one of many and not need “to inspire” any more — that day would be wonderful and a victory! Another world is possible.