Becoming Greener

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Becoming greener….

Seems like a pretty simple task doesn’t it. Well I have found it quite difficult lately and was wondering what every one else is doing to become greener and maybe solve some of my problems.

Sometimes when I have to make a decision I can’t find a good answer and must compromise.

I love to purchase as much as I can from local growers, producers, and artists but in my effort to reduce the amount of driving I do leaves me limited choices some times. The curse of not living near a big city and having the local supplies spread out all over the county. So I try to purchase as much as I can while I’m there and make fewer trips.

 

 

Things I have already done:

  • Changed all the light bulbs I can to energy star bulbs, some I haven’t found replacements for yet.
  • Run the oil lamps often, I have antique lamps and wall hangers in every room of the house. I LOVE THEM. I have seen reproductions at Lehman’s. I love this web site and have purchased many things from them. It’s always very nice quality.
  • Don’t turn on the lights if I don’t have to. (I’m trying to figure out how to reduce the ghost loads in the house without driving my dear husband nuts!)
  • Use only baskets or cloth shopping bags for my weekly trip to town and the farmer’s market.
  • Try not to use extra paper products. I will never be completely paper free around here. But only have paper plates, cups, napkins when someone else brings them over because they feel sorry for me not having them. They just don’t get the paper thing,… yes my dear sister I am talking about you.
  •  Make all my own natural cleaning supplies: laundry soap, dish soap, and household cleaners.
  • Wash laundry only in cold water and hang clothes on the clothesline. Some times I have to use the dryer but not often.
  • Try not to buy anything in plastic! but it sneaks in the house when I’m not looking and some things I must have only come packaged in plastic.(This is my argument for wanting a goat or two, I HATE PLASTIC MILK BOTTLES.)
  • Compost everything I can.
  • Buy local produce and products when available.
  • Don’t put my produce or meats in additional plastic bags for the ride home, this drives me nuts when the nice girl at the check out tries to put my produce into a plastic bag for me, I have been known to take them back out and give her a talk about plastic…I usually end up taking the bag with me anyway because when you insist the tomatoes come out of the bag, the nice girl puts the bag in her trash can, making me bite my lip even more.
  • Cook all our meals, and bread.
  • Have an energy efficient heating system (It’s propane but my son has asthma and can’t have a wood stove) The heat has to be on 70 in the winter because of other family members special needs.)
  • Only run the AC when I must, (because of other family members special needs.)
  • Energy effecient appliances, windows, and well insulated house.
  • Hang insulated curtains in the winter and open and close as needed to let the sun in or keep the heat in/out.
  • Only use the dishwasher when full and don’t use the drying cycle.
  • Buy used books or rent from the library. Don’t buy movies.
  • Buy only cotton, wool or other natural fabrics for clothes and furnishings.
  • Make and use my own salves, tea, herbs for minor illness and injury.

Things I am working on:

  • learning to crochet my own dishcloths.
  • learning to make my own bar soap.
  • Build a chicken coop from reclaimed lumber for more chickens. (for our own eggs, feathers, meat)
  • Researching goats to add to the farm. (For our own milk, cheeses, meat) Looking at the Kinder Goat.
  • Building a new garden for 09′ I haven’t planted one in several years, the woodchucks got the best of me. I’m really liking the square foot raised garden.
  • Can, freeze, dehydrate as much as possible.
  • Buying more canning jars.
  • Spend more time foraging for nuts and fruit when in season. Even if we don’t like to eat them I can trade for something I do want or sell them. Wild purple grapes would be a good one, I can make jelly and trade or sell it.
  • Using a solar power fence charger. Currently we are running an electric with a battery back up. We were using just battery but in the cold winter it’s not dependable and the animals get out.

Things I would consider:

  • Add a small green house to start my own seeds. Currently I buy starter plants from the grower down the road. I would really have to think about the cost of this vs. 6 heirloom tomato plants for $2.00. Or perhaps a growing shelf with lights to start plants.
  • Adding solar power for our hot water. Currently we have a very effecient electric hot water heater and should last us many more years.
  • Buying and raising our own pigs again. We did this several years ago but I couldn’t come up with enough feed for them without buying grain. I could plant extra rows of vegies for them and dehydrate for use the following spring and early summer before the garden starts producing. Our growing season is late May-early Sept. and production on most vegies is in late July-Sept. I would of course put them in the frezer before winter, having smaller weight pigs. Our last ones provided around 60lbs. of meat.
  • Everything in small deliberate steps will win the challenge for me. What are you doing or going to do this comming year?

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    Posted on November 17, 2008, in House Budgets, Planning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

    1. We ponder the pig feeding problem ourselves. This was our second year. We are thinking that we would grow and early, mid-season and late season sweet corn. We would have feed starting in July. We also would grow a pumpkin patch just for the pig. We also have many old apple trees in our area and usually find old windfall apples that we forage for the pig. And during canning season he gets all the veggie and fruit scraps. But, alas we must buy some feed. We stretch some of the feed with local oats and barley.

      Next spring, our new chickens will be laying enough eggs to pay for their own feed. We also plan to rotate pasture them with our sheep so that they can free range and keep the flies down.

      We try to buy second hand whenever possible as a way to be green. And I feed my one vice by buying only local yarn.:)

    2. Hi Karin,

      I too used the apples and pumpkins but these were at the very end of the growing season for me.

      I’m not sure all the work of growing then dehydrating food and saving until the next spring worth all the effort compaired to the cost of the grain.

      We have friends who leave buckets at all the local supermarkets for the veggies they toss. It’s an ongoing mess and more trouble than it seems to be worth. Much of what they do get is spoiled and ends up in the compost not the pig pen.

      What have you got for chickens? I have been looking at and trying to purchase the Black Java. There seems to be only a couple of breaders in the US even though they are an american bird. They seem to be just what I want, and came before the NH Reds that do so well here. Chicken are great insect eaters…:)

      I LOVE local yarn and hope to some day learn to spin and grow my own….natural dyed wool is a weakness of mine.

      Karyn

    3. Hi Karyn

      We have Barred Rock Chickens that will be ready to lay by January. WE also have a few geriatric ladies of Rhode Island Red variety that we are letting free range in the garden right now.

      As for feed for the spring piggie; we give him pig feed when he is little and get some sour milk from a local farmer. My Hubby brings home slop from the cafeteria at the school he teaches at. We also butcher our own pig to defray even further the cost of keeping a pig. We would like to give just organic feed to our pig, but, wow, is that expensive. So we start him off on pig feed and then when he is bigger we move him to all stock feed . It has a lower protein content but by then he is getting corn from the garden. We are really looking to find local sources for bulk grains such as oats and barley and culled dry beans so that we aren’t supporting companies like Cargill. Doing this would cut the cost further from 20 cents a pound for feed to 2-3 cents a pound using local grains. All of our critters could eat this too so we would be saving alot of money. It feels more secure during the tough economic times to have a local source.

      We also have 3 sheep. A shetland ewe and southdown/ dorset ewe and ram. WE maybe getting a whethered Romney to keep our ram company this winter. So I would have some nice fiber to work with. Hubby went to shearing school last spring. We keep them for wool, lawn mowing and poop.

      We also have a whethered goat for packing and hauling firewood and hay.

      Karin

    4. Hi Karin,

      I love barred rocks and had some a few years back. They lived a long life and after about 6 years went into the freezer. We kept them a year after they stopped laying, why I’m not sure…

      I am looking or should I say am going to find some Java chickens to fill our coop with in the spring.

      Local grain is a problem here too unless you have the space and equipment to grow your own, which we don’t.

      Yes the cost of raising a few pigs is rising it’s almost better to purchase the meat on ” the hoof ” at the end of the season and send straight to the butcher. We used to butcher our own but with my husbands health we can’t do it any more.

      I would love to have a few sheep and Kinder goats, but it’s just small steps at a time for me and the chickens are next on the list. They must be so useful and a joy to have around.

      Have a great day
      ~Karyn

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