ODDS & ENDS

The warm weekend that was predicted never materialized instead we are experiencing foggy, partly cloudy and sometimes drizzly weather. The drizzle isn’t much, but heavier rain is expected sometime this week – and we hope their forecast is right this time!

Spent a lovely time at a friend’s home for vegetarian dinner on Saturday night. We saw an old acquaintance we hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years. Find out that this fellow is into solar installation and alternative technologies and he’s friends with people we know. It’s certainly a small world.

Deliberate Life

The path towards complete freedom is one of living deliberately. This life and livelihood is certainly not for everyone and is hard for us at times. One can’t be forgetful or do things on the “spur off the moment.” Each daily action has to be planned days or hours before.  

The more we take steps backwards and becoming unplugged, the more time it takes for us to live our daily life.

For instance, one day we are hoping to/planning to purchase a wood cook stove to replace the gas stove. Now let’s say we want to take a bath – right now?  Not so fast! You’ve got to chop wood, put it in the stove, allow it to heat and then you can take your bath. So much for daily showering practice! 

Fortunately for us, it won’t be too drastic since we take baths only once a week (twice if needed) and for those wondering, no, we don’t stink (our friends can attest to that — I think?)!  

Dailybaths/showers are a western luxury and use too much precious water and energy. For as long as I can remember our family has taken weekly baths, and for years we also conserved water by not flushing the toilet following this rhyming guidance ” “if it’s brown flush it down and if yellow let it mellow.” 

It’s a shame to use perfectly good and valuable drinking water for such purposes – another wasteful western tradition.

This path is certainly a challenging one but with the looming energy or global warming crisis, I think more and more people are going to have to look what we, Westerners, come to take for granted and consider “normal.” Thankfully, we have had this opportunity to get a head start and help others with the skills and knowledge we have learned through trial and error.

It’s frustrating at times, for instance, to have to choose between using the hand washer/wringer (which takes time — hours) or the convenience of the electric washing machine ( that happens to be an energy and water saving model ), knowing that one really should use the hand washer.   Somedays you  just don’t have the time.   Washing the old-fashioned way forces you to wear less outfits.  We really have too many closets filled with clothes. A few hundred years ago, people had a couple of outfits and wore them until they were worn out.   

Here on the urban homestead, we do laundry about once or twice a week, wearing the same outer clothes (unless soiled) for days at a time.

This year I would like to depend less on store bought items from the grocery store to beauty supplies. I’ve made yogurt before a few times; but continuing to make your own with so much going on is challenging. Instead ,it’s so much more convenient ( … ah, that devious little word! ) to pick it up at the health food store. To make my own yogurt I still would have to buy milk; or for deodorant I would have to buy witch hazel and essential oils.   

So what’s the difference — buy all the ingredients or the already made product?    Well, the later choice is definitely easier, but not always satisfying.   I hope once all these new projects and construction work are completed the homestead will go back to its regular paced rhythm where we can find time to go back to making our own yogurt, deodorant or other products that we now have had to buy pre-made and packaged.   

It’s liberating to learn how to do things that are basic to survival — the true reality show. Stay tuned for our next episode!

Changes

It’s the end of an era for the unique and original bunny hutch that Jules designed.  It’s been dismantled and a he built smaller bunny hutch. The new bunny house was moved into the chicken and duck enclosure, making room for a shed to store garden tools and animal feed (which we desperately need). It was sad seeing the hutch go, but it’s for the better.

Another structure to go was our homemade solar shower built from all sorts of scraps. It’s been in need of repairs and the guys are planning on building an improved solar shower structure (one that has sides!, one that will include an outdoor urinal that will empty into a nearby compost pile.  (Human urine has been dubbed “household liquid activator” and is practically sterile, available to everyone, and a perfect nitrogenous compost catalyst). The arbor that was used for the structure of the solar shower now will become an arbor in the backyard garden, covered in pole beans in the summer.

In the garden, we just need to build two more raised beds and then we are finished with that section of the garden. The backyard is taking on a whole new look and it’s exciting being a part of it taking shape.   Plans and designs are being adjusted ,sometimes right on the spot as we go about transforming the backyard.

It’s been a constant flurry of activity these past few days, hopping from one project to another! First on the agenda is getting things in order for the soon coming compost toilet. There are so many different projects going on at once, it makes your head spin. But we are determined to tackle them and try and complete them this year (hopefully, with the help of a friend who’s a skilled carpenter) . We always like to do things ourselves, but sometimes you need a helping hand.

Countdown

There’s an urgency now to finally finish the redesigning and revamping of this site.   We’ve fooled around with it now and then. We  silently and sometimes verbally mutter to ourselves ,wondering why we have taken on such an immense task, taking up so much of our time. In the long run, we know it will be worth it when we experience the  feeling you get when you finally tackle a unorganized and cluttered room.   We are now shooting for the site to be completed sometime in February or March.

Thankfully, we are skilled enough to take on the website development ourselves; otherwise, like Jordanne often reminds us, “we couldn’t afford to pay ourselves for our work.” Doing things ourselves and relying on others as little as possible is certainly a step towards being self-sufficient and frugal. We save money this way so that we are able to purchase other more necessary items such as the compost toilet!   I believe our homeschooling experience has helped us not be afraid to tackle new things, allowing us to learn without having to take paid courses.  We learn by doing or observation.

Lots of work to be done today:
1. daily chores
2. clean up cellar and back bathroom for compost toilet installation
3. repot, divide strawberries
4. dispose of the graveled soil
5. research cisterns / price compare
6. work on website
7. find a knitted summer top pattern
8. finish knitted “thing” for a friend (not saying in case you are reading this!)
9. call Tree People about their rainwater harvesting project
10. repot taro roots
and much more

No Comments

  1. dermot says:

    The Dervaes’ most definitely do NOT stink, I can
    attest to that!

    So, as I’m about to begin a proper compost pile,
    let me see if I understand this – I can pour urine
    onto it to help activate it?

    I don’t know what the neighbours will say, but
    what the hell…

  2. Anais says:

    Dermot

    Thanks for the commenting on the fact of our not showering daily.

    I think our not having offensive BO is due to our healthful diet. I notice that when we eat properly and do at lot of outdoor activities such as gardening or hiking, even though we sweat the sweat doesn’t have an offensive smell.

    Well, as for the liquid gold in compost – that’s what I’ve read. I even read about one man who would go out into the yard and urinate on his compost pile — now I don’t think your neighbors would like that. If done discretely I am sure it wouldn’t cause too many problems. 😉

  3. gerry medland says:

    Hi Anais!
    So much sense,so much vision!Every post makes us THINK,that is a very BIG plus in a society that aims to take away our basic thought process and decide what is good for us.Yes,this way of life can and is intensive,but never do I feel I have nothing to accomplish,mental/physical.I whole heartedley agree with your musings on personal hygiene!
    I have/am using Urine as an activator on my heap and can attest that it works really well,I do this discretely and have had no complaints from my neighbours!As to our way of life,we have a choice every time we do something,my choice is I believe the same as yours,that every thing we do has a consequence,I try to make my choice beneficial,to me,to others,to the enviroment ,to the great cycle of life,THAT is being responsible!Thanks once more for making us think about what truly matters!

  4. Joshua says:

    Why are you dismantling a solar shower? It seemed odd to read that in the same post as saying that getting a wood stove would inhibit a daily showering practice.

    As far as items like yogurt, talk about something that can be produced locally! What about finding a local source, and maybe bartering a bit, or even finding a kindred soul to cooperate with to exchange services so that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING yourself? Due to the commercial (un)necessity of pastuerizing everything, and maybe throwing in a little radiation too, it can be hard for small local producers to produce such things. And if you ask me it was deliberate. But it doesn’t mean you can’t uncommercially deal with someone to get such items in exchange for something else.

    You know, considering the extremes you wish to go, it seems you guys need to set up some kind of virtual eco-village almost. A community, cooperative network so that you can divide skills and create a cooperative, local, independent economy for exchanging necessary goods and services that no single person can do everything by themselves. Basically, eliminate the need for any stores altogether just about, while creating a supportive barter economy on a human scale, one aimed at personal relationships and providing for human needs (rather than simply the goal of selling for selling’s sake and the need for constant consumptive growth).

    Also, I find half the problem with time is partly simply because we weren’t taught the basic necessities, and so have to re-learn it all for ourselves. It’s one thing to simply do it almost as second nature, it’s another if you have to be constantly learning what it is that you need to be doing!

  5. Anais says:

    Joshua

    Thank you for your comments. Of course we are NOT getting rid of the solar shower at all only improving it … if you read the post it says: “The guys are planning on building an improved solar shower, one that will include an outdoor urinal that will empty into a nearby compost pile.”

    The solar shower concept is here to stay — just being improved on since the old one was getting falling down a bit. 🙂

  6. Joshua says:

    Oops! Must have misread that.

  7. nulinegvgv says:

    PTF,

    Thanks for not shying away from a taboo subject like composting human waste. I thought I’d recommend another book on the topic.

    The Humanure Handbook
    By Joseph Jenkins

    I am able to urinate discretely in my compost pile. We live close to town but have established a “working yard” that houses the more unsightly aspects of urban homesteading. I say unsightly but I really mean things the neighbors don’t understand and therefore don’t want to look at. I think a good compost pile is beautiful. Anyway, I also save urine indoors when it’s cold or late at night. I have a small bucket that sits in a stand in the bathroom at waist (waste) height. Being a boy this system works great for me. I empty ever morning on the way to work and clean it out with an old scrub brush once a week or so. The system works great and I too can attest to the fact that it works. I have also poured urine directly onto onions and garlic as they can handle the acid level and appreciate the nitrogen. I don’t do it too often as I don’t want to throw the pf of the soil off and I don’t do it within a few months of harvest- just in the winter while next year’s bulbs are getting established.

    Also, I was wondering if you’d talk about the daily schedules of PTF in terms of man/woman hours in the future. I am urban homesteading but also working 40 hours a week at a job. I was hoping to get a better idea of how long it takes to do the things you.

    Thanks for what you do.

    Aaron

  8. Anais says:

    Aaron

    Thanks for mentioning that classic book — which, BTW we have in our own library here at PTF.

    You can read the entire book online at http://www.weblife.org/humanure/default.html

    Thanks for the suggestion – that would be something to consider. There’s certainly a lot of things that need to be written about and I jokingly tell people “we are too busy doing to write about what we are doing!” 🙂

    I think compiling man/woman hours would be vital and a good project to work on. However, I feel it may be a little complicated because sometimes within a few or 1 hour we touch on so many different tasks.

    The urban homestead is our life – our job in a sense so sometimes the boundries between those get a little blurry.

    Thanks for your comments. I look forward to more!

    Anais

  9. Anais says:

    That’s OK 🙂

  10. Anais says:

    You are welcome Gerry

    As always love your positive comments!

    We are so used to convenience and turning on this, switching on that — and what are the consequence of these choices. The bigger picture is so majically hidden from view. If we knew that by turning on a power switch we polluted a river a we SAW it – I think our actions would immediately change. But it’s slow because everything is hidden by elaborate smoke and mirrors.

    Our Western, all cosuming society will be in for a shock once we see the impact we have had. It won’t be pretty.