Every year at this time chaos erupts here on the urban homestead as a new year winds down and another looms over the horizon. A flurry of activites and assorted projects begin: plantings, composting, organizing, planning, scheming, dreaming– and more –all start now.. The months of Nov & Dec are vital in the overall “tone” next year’s urban homestead.
The new chicken/duck (‘hennery’) house has finally been finished — stained. That took some time because we had to apply a few coats. Until that was done, for two nights this week we had the chickens sleeping in the urban homestead’s kitchen. The beneficial bees have been moved to their new location and for a few days there were quite a few confused bees. The old goat house has been dismantled, much to Fairlight and Blackberry’s annoyance, who now look as us incredulously as if to say “what have you done to our home?” Don’t worry, goaties, the urban homestead menfolk are working on a better home (er, goat chalet) which you will be so proud off and show off to all those who visit the urban homestead.
Three large composters have had their dark, loamy contents removed and mixed in with soil. The layers of straw in the animals’ enclosure have been raked away and stacked in piles resembling a motocross-like obstacle course.
Our record still stands this year in our goal of not using any organic NPK fertilizers but there’s still a pile of lumps. Lumps that are stacked in bags on the side of the garage filled with rock dust ready to be torn open as soon as a bed gets turned over. For the short time the ground is bare and there is a coating of chalky white/grey substance before it gets turned over under a pile of rich black soil. There are seeds packets and new seed catalogs scattered everywhere, some left open to pages where new vegetables have been highlighted. A huge pile of winter squash is stored in the middle of the garage, taunting me every time I walk by. One by one the fruit trees are being pruned, denuded of their sorry looking leaves and wayward branches.
Piles of salvaged wood lay in stacks needing to be axed into smaller pieces and waiting for the time when we urban homesteaders get beyond our temperature threshold (30-40 degrees F) when layers of jackets, socks and knitted hats don’t do the job. We’ve learned to deal with cold, especially dips in temperatures to the point where we have become disciplined enough not to flip on the heat (well, because we have no electric/gas heater in the first place – that helps!)
Even though winter is usually a time to slow down, the pace here quickens a bit as we get ready for next Spring.
Tis a bit of the slice of life here on the urban homestead…. always busy and bustling.
“Lighter shade of pale” – delicate snow pea flowers
It’s funny in a way to stumble on a green tip and think to myself, “really, we’ve been doing that our whole lives” To us such a practice wasn’t something that was even on our radar as being out of the ordinary as it was just how our life was. When simple living has been my whole life I guess I see life myopically, thinking everyone is just like me. Well, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the issue, that’s not the case. Things that come second nature to us are a new reality to beginning travelers. The other day I came across an efficient eco tip here and here so thus this post…
The veteran homesteader of the household is all about conservation and for as far as I can remember we’ve always washed our clothes in cold water. Even if we were tempted to use hot water, we couldn’t because it was purposely left detached. So no worries about “cheating.’ *grin*Besides the hot water being turned off for washing clothes, the 20+ years we’ve lived in this house, the hot water has also been turned off in the bathroom sink. Head Urban Homesteader feels there is no need to fire up the gas heater to just to wash your hands or face in warm/hot water. Makes sense, so cold water is it and has been for years and years. To us that’s been life.
Yeah, sounds a bit odd, but it has been and always will be about going back to basics. It’s also efficient as the links above state and it helps to know we are doing our part to live a low impact life. I dunno if there’s anything to it, but having washed my face in cold water (no soap) for years seems like it does improve your skin, making one’s skin feel soft. We get compliments all the time about our skin. Besides our natural, homegrown diet (no meat, homegrown, organic) could it be the cold water too?
As for bathing, we also conserve by not taking a bath/ or shower every day. Every since we were kids , we youngins were subject to old fashioned pioneer practice of weekly bathings (unless absolutely necessary if one was really, really dirty). It’s a habit now – like second nature. I can remember a funny story of a how a friend fresh out of college returned back from a survival course and when asked what he learned one of his response was “I learned one needs not have to take a shower every day… ” It’s all these little steps combined that have a deep impact….
There are other lifelong sustainable practices that were implemented years ago. Another low impact measure that we’ve done for nearly 30 years is using a solar dryer (aka clothesline) to dry clothes instead of an electric dryer. Having never owned an electric dryer ever, I wonder how many pounds of carbon we’ve saved in our lifetime.
Another conservation practice we’ve done since I was little was to follow the “yellow mellow” rule when it comes to flushings. As for “possession” our home furnishings (beds, sofa, furniture, table, chairs, etc.) I would say 90% are second hand/used/hand me downs, etc. We’ve never even owned a new sofa or bed our whole lives. Good thing, too, because since we aren’t rich and can’t afford to buy eco, new furniture such a purchase could have made us sick with all the toxic chemicals. Speaking of chemicals, we’ve not owned a new car in ages. The only new car we had was a Chevy LUV truck back in the 1970s, which was shoddy, cheap and promptly rusted in two years.
Since then have only purchased/owned second hand cars and, thankfully, we have been spared the “new car smell” which is now a health concern. I guess at least with “second hand” the chemicals smell has had time to dissipate. Having lived a simple, low impact life since a young age we’ve been spared the barrage of additives, chemicals and toxic stew that contaminates our food and goods. We’ve also learned to do without and understand what really matters is life. Such life lessons are vital in this new age, an age of uncertainty and change.
Skills and knowledge that we have acquired from an early age are hopefully ingrained in us for life. Lessons learned can be passed on to other travelers who’ve exited the crowded freeway of life and have taken the road less traveled to a live a more satisfying, healthier and happier life.From occasional trolling of the green web sphere I can see that this generation is having to re learn the old ways as they journey towards a more sustainable life. Sorta reminds me of that biblical passage of a “return to the old paths.” Old traits put in place by our grandparents or even our parents (hippy generation) are indeed back again and, hopefully, will be around for a much longer duration – a lifetime and into the next generation.In this hodge podge post, I’ve just touched on a few of our longtime eco habits and tendencies. Let’s hear from our readers.
Care to share yours? Do you have eco traits you’ve been incorporating long before they become eco hip or greenstream (hey, I think I just coined a new word?).