Our “Soft” Sustainability Targets For 2014!

There is a certain energy as Winter transitions to Spring. I’ve been thinking about it, and really now is the real start of the new year. It’s not some date on a calendar, for me I think it’s this transition from dormancy to bloom. Today was warm. Even though it might snow on Saturday, the days are going to be predominately warmer from here on out I suspect. Winter has been a four-month long psychological wasteland. Spring brings a whole new chapter. A change from the monotony and depression of Winter.

Seemingly the whole world awakens into some sort of subsurface energy that permeates from everything. The pace of days has picked up. I’ve been busy with work but also busy in my head thinking about outside; thinking about everything that will happen once the days become more reliably warm. It’s a long list.

Besides me, my fellow house mates need to get out and stretch after the long winter as well.

The other day I left the studio door open. It doesn’t close properly because of the missing strike plate. Anyway, I saw Daisy’s first foray into the real world as I pulled back into the drive after dropping the trash off at the end of the drive. Her little striped tail sauntered back inside much to my dismay. Presumably the snow did not agree with her. Now she eyes up the door every time it’s open. She’ll be a runner for sure.

I started reading my stack of orchard and farm books. Overwhelming and depressing to say the least. First off, half of the decisions that influence how well apple trees do are made before or during planting. Well that cow is out of the barn. And now the organic care and maintenance of the trees is daunting. Raising apples, or having a micro farm for that matter, is something either people with jobs do on the weekends, or farmers do. People in the middle like me have no business dreaming of such endeavors.

That’s why I’m doing it. Cause most people don’t, or say it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done. I hate being told “no”. Another reason though, it all should prove to be a pretty cool place for the kids to grow up and learn.

Like any life though, mine is figuratively walked precariously on a mountain ridge about eighteen inches wide – loose and rocky with very little margin for error. Every day I run the numbers and it could go either way. Honestly, between you and me, part of me wouldn’t mind scrapping the whole endeavor – lose the house, downsize and go live like every other “normal” person out there: golf, socialize, wait for death to come rescue me. But alas I don’t think that’s the cloth the good lord cut me from.

My sustainability thoughts have turned to “farm”. Now that we’ve been here for a while and we’ve made good progress with energy conservation, I’m ready to infuse the next round of earth-friendly living. Besides anything more on the house front would be expensive (e.g. solar water heater, photovoltaics, electric car). Micro-farm related stuff around the property is a mix of money and sweat; which means I can use my mind, and back, for free and yield results. I look at it this way: the house and infrastructure are “hard” sustainability targets, and the social, lifestyle and farm related ones are “soft” targets. This year we’re focusing on the soft ones.

Our (my) lofty goals for this year outside:

  • bees – ramp up to have three hives total, one of which provides us with honey and wax.
  • veggie garden – plant lots of sunflowers for their seeds, along with the staples that we grew last year. Also planting tea plants (for tea), lavender (for bees and drying), and kale (first time). Nixing growing peas, and so many peppers which didn’t do well.
  • guinea fowl – to eat the ticks I’ll build a little house (Joe design me a guinea house!) next to the garden and well by some baby guineas. We can even harvest their eggs and eat them when they’re older (which we won’t do). New adventure this Summer.
  • apple trees – I’ll read through the four encyclopedic books I have and attempt to know what I’m doing. I doubt we’ll have any apples this year though.
  • berries – ditto the apples. I need to figure out what I’m doing.
  • herbs – once again, I need to figure out how to grow and preserve this stuff.
  • wild flowers and clover – plant more wild flowers for the bees as well as clover for the bees and deer.
  • CSA – we joined a Community Supported Agriculture program which supplies us with locally grown produce, cheese and meat.  My goal is to migrate towards at least 50%-75% locally sourced food for our household, maybe higher.
  • Meat – I’m going to look into sourcing all of our pork, beef and chicken from local farms; talking to the farmers to understand their practices and assure their methods are humane. I am also very interested in harvesting a deer for the freezer!
  • Veggies – to offset the higher, (more fair, by the way) cost of meat and food my thought is to eat more veggies, pasta, etc. This will hopefully make us healthier too, which will lower healthcare expenses.
  • Communicate – I want to get people out here to enjoy it all, maybe go for a walk, appreciate the land and get ideas that they can take back to their homes. Regardless I want to have people over to enjoy a drink and burger or something. Working from home makes me want for human interaction. The cats are gettin’ to me. 🙂

All of this will hopefully push us closer to independence on the food front. Then after we win the lottery we can go after the hard targets.

Why do we (I) do this? Partly cause I’m crazy, but also because the world we live in is crazy. We’ve made so many bad decisions over the last 150 years that we need to start making some good ones. I’m tired of being at the mercy of what “they” tell me I have to eat and how I have to live. I won’t achieve the lofty goals in my mind, in my life time. But hopefully my kids can and to their kids it will be second nature.

By time they’re around maybe my apple trees will finally be producing apple trees.

Rodents have been eating my apple trees, and decimated our new jersey tea plants (the ones we drove to Chicago to get). I hate rodents.

Rodents have been eating my apple trees, and decimated our new jersey tea plants (the ones we drove to Chicago to get). I hate rodents.

The bees were flying. Tomorrow we're going to open the hive cause it should be 70 degrees out.

The bees were flying. Tomorrow we’re going to open the hive cause it should be 70 degrees out.

Daisy enjoying our 10" deep window sills on a sunny Spring day.

Daisy enjoying our 10″ deep window sills on a sunny Spring day.

This is why we built the house. So the cats would have sunny window sills. I'm not joking.

This is why we built the house. So the cats would have sunny window sills. I’m not joking.




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