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Archive for December, 2014

Every year, people make dumb resolutions that they never keep. I am personally not into making these resolutions because it never works for me. I have to do something because I want to, not because I made a resolution. But if you are one who chooses to make a resolution, I challenge you to make it a good one this year.
Resolve to do something that you have always wanted to do, but have never done because it was too hard, too risky, too crazy, or any other excuse you have come up with. Do something truly meaningful that you have shied away from for a long time.
I present you with this challenge because I know that it will be worth it for you in the long run. We moved out here, which many think was crazy, brave, dangerous, silly, scary, etc. But it was so worth it. It has been so hard on us this year, as the first step often is. But we are living our dream. All the “blood, sweat, and tears” are going to be worth what we have to show for ourselves. It is an amazing feeling to know that we have started. I want to share this feeling with everyone else. So come up with something that will mean the world to you and make it your resolution. And actually do it. You won’t regret it. Well, maybe you will for a day or two, but then everything will fall into place and you will be as amazingly happy as we are.
By the way, I would love to hear what you decide to do!

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Forgive me for the facebook “like and share” on the bottom.  I couldn’t find this anywhere else.

 

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I found you through your blog. What is your blog and/or project about?

“Vegetablurb.wordpress.com is mostly about soil; what grows in it, what makes it better, how I’ve messed it up, why I’ve been fascinated by it for almost 40 years. The blog doesn’t have history. It’s pretty new, unlike me, and unlike soil. I hope that changes gracefully, but if not, it’s still a cathartic thing, writing a blog.”

I believe that you are someone who is helping to change the world in your own way. How do you think what you are doing is making things better?

“I have to think smaller than changing the world. My brain’s not that big. Maybe helping to change a little bit of a tiny piece of the world. I find myself on a different end of the political spectrum than most of those who commit to an earth-first lifestyle. But I don’t dismiss the benefits or ideals of that way of life, and in fact admire folks who build a self-sustaining world around themselves. I haven’t used synthetic chemicals or fertilizers in my garden for almost four decades, and I supplement our home’s heat with deadwood culled from our property, and reuse the green and brown materials created in our woods and yard and house.

image_1-1 This year’s garden

But in my estimation, family comes first. So that’s what I tend to above all. One of the things I’m proudest of is that my youngest daughter has the organic gardening bug. If you pass a passion to the next generation, it hits the ground running with all that experience behind it. When you consider it, that’s the essence of how humanity has moved forward. Then comes the other thing I love; gardening. Of course they both make the world better, family and gardening, in very small ways. Small things often make a bigger difference than large ones.”

Many people, myself included, have not always been on this particular path. What inspired you to start doing what you are doing?

“My Dad was a quiet master gardener. He had the greatest vegetable garden with the blackest soil that you could imagine. Unpretentious and bountiful. Then I stumbled onto the organic gardening concept in 1976 when I married and my new bride and we bought our first home. I came across Organic Gardening magazine and started watching Crockett’s Victory Garden on PBS. I wish it were something more prosaic, but it is what it was. We had rock-hard clay soil at the new home, but I hauled in trailers-full of horse manure, and suddenly things happened. It grew. My garden grew well. Hooked and fascinated.

image_2 copy My son and a friend in 1984

A few years later we found a small rundown farm and started growing market produce like asparagus and strawberries. We’ve raised chickens, steers, pigs, turkeys, ducks, bees and sheep. Now our livestock consists of two cats who won’t die and some worms. I’ve never strayed from the principle of organic gardening, but Lord knows I’ve made a bucket- full of idiot mistakes in pursuit of it.”

image_3 copy A 1980s version of myself (center) and a couple of friends relaxing

Doing things that are not the “norm” are sometimes difficult to get going with. What advice would you give to someone who may be out there trying to start their own unique adventure?

“Your adventure will be unique. It’s a given. Don’t force it. Steer yourself toward what you love, and be willing to compromise in small ways during the the journey. The journey is everything. It’s good to consider how you live your life. And I thank you Sarah, for encouraging just that in such an interesting way.”

One of my new favorite things is making mistakes.  Every mistake you make gains you more in knowledge than you would have ever gained if you had been successful and not made the mistake.  Well, often anyways.  You do always learn something from your mistakes and that makes it worth while.  The more I accept this, the better off I am!  I am able to do so much more without the fear of mistakes in my life. One of the big things that I am trying to share with this project is that by bettering your own life and leading by example you are helping to change the world.  Often, without even realizing.  By living a good life and sharing what you learn, you are helping.  It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Thanks again to Vegtablurb for your help with the project.  Be sure to check out his blog!

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Stop and Smell the Roses

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2015: Year One

We have been living in Maine for one year come spring.  We really didn’t get much done other than to observe the land and do a ton of planning.  Very little actual work on improving the lot.  While observation is very important to our setup, I’m not going to count it as having accomplished anything.  That is why 2015 is going to be year one.  And it is going to be a big year.  We will be setting up to live on the land permanently as soon as winter starts to break.  Yes, we lived out on the lot in a little tent for two months, but we ended up back in an apartment renting because we just weren’t able to get enough done to make it safely through the winter.  While this was disappointing, it was what we had to do and now we are getting ready to try again.  For real this time.  We have lots of work to do, and it will be a challenging spring, summer, and fall.  But by winter, we plan to be ready to stay put this time.  To really be living on our land. We have high hopes and are maybe planning too much, but we know that.  We are going to get as much done as we can and assume that not everything we try to do will get done.  And that is alright.  As long as we have a winter proof place to live we will be doing great.  Here is our list of things to do this year, only kind of in order:

1. Set up the wall tent.

This will be our home (hopefully) until winter strikes.  We want to get out of our apartment as soon as possible so the tent will not be set up to live in long term.  This should save us a bunch of time and get us on the land quicker.  There will not be plumbing (probably) or electricity.  Just 4 walls, a roof, and a wood stove.  Our original plan was to live in this tent for 2 years or so, but we have decided to attempt a small house instead.

2. Set up a composting toilet.

Not much to say about this one.  We just need a place to go.

3.  Plant a garden.

We want to grow some of our own food this year.  Hopefully half or more of our vegetables will be grown in our garden.  I plan on doing a bunch of canning and storing in a root cellar.  I want to learn about the beds I have set up and see which ones do well and which ones don’t.  I plan on doing a lot of observing and collecting a lot of information about how much we plant, how much yield, and how long the food lasts.  This will help me to plan next years garden which will hopefully provide even more for us.  We will be planting a few random herbs as well as the garden.

4. Set up the outdoor kitchen.

The wall tent will be small and hot.  Not a place to be cooking in the summer.  It will be much nicer to be able to cook outside in the fresh air while watching the children play (or fight).  There will be a wood stove in the tent that we can cook on if we need to, but the outdoor kitchen will be the main area we use.

5. Set up a warm shower.

I have to work a full time job as a nurse.  I need to be able to shower regularly.  While we were camping out this past spring, I would shower for work and freeze every time.  Not going to be ok with that all the time.  We need to plan a semi enclosed shower room with warm water.  I don’t need a steaming hot shower every night, but I’m not going to freeze either.  We will have a small bathtub set up for the kids too.  They will be playing in the mud every single day and will need a lot of baths.  I’m hoping that I can just put a shower stall of some sort in the back of the wall tent and fill a camp shower with boiled water.  Nothing fancy.

6. Set up a cistern.

We need to store water for the whole winter and will need a cistern set up that won’t freeze.  There are backup plans, but the cistern would be really nice to have so that we aren’t hauling and melting snow all the time.  The hope is that the cistern will run plumbing into the house so that we aren’t going outside in a snowstorm to get water to do dishes.  Not that we would even do that.  But we might need to shower in a snow storm, so semi running water would be nice in the bathroom at least.

7. Root cellar.

We plan on setting up a very rustic root cellar to store al the food we have canned to stash for the winter.  We won’t have electricity and so no fridge either.  Therefore, in the summer, we will need a place to keep food cool.  We may also set up a rustic cooling system of some kind for milk, but we haven’t figured that one out yet.

8. Living fence.

I started a few plants this past year for the living fence.  Plants that should be easy to propagate from clippings.  That way I can hopefully just clip and root and stick them in the ground.  The willow I have should be just clip and stick in the ground.  Since willow itself can be used as rooting hormone, I should be able to stick the clippings right in the ground.  I will let you know if that really works.

9. Build a small house.

As I had mentioned before, we hope to build a straw bale house to live in for a few years while we build our future home.  I’m sure by the end of this year you will be bored to tears with straw bale building from me, so I won’t go in to much detail here. Good luck to you all on your own goals for the year and Happy New Year!

2015 Goals

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A Straw Bale House

We have been doing a lot of planning and making decisions over the past few weeks.  Up until then, we planned to live in the wall tent for likely a couple years.  We were going to put it on a platform and have insulated walls with a wooden frame.  It was going to be very well set up to last us.  The more we got to thinking about this, the more we knew this wasn’t quite what we wanted, and not quite as fast.  So, plans have changed.  The new plan is to go with straw bale.  We can get our wall tent/canvas cabin set up without the platform or insulated walls very quickly.  That gets us out on the land for the summer in this tent.  It will be very rustic.  No electric, no running water, likely a camp shower and a composting toilet.  We will have a wood stove inside for heat if we need it (this depends on how quick we get out there) and cooking.  Bare minimum basics to live for the summer.  Once the tent is up and livable, we move out of the apartment, into the tent, and start construction.  This (hopefully) will get us into the house before it gets to be winter and pouring snow.

Our focus right now is on learning as much as we possibly can about straw bale building and planning the build before winter breaks.  That gives us at least two months, likely three, before the tent can be put up.  A couple days ago, I ordered two books:  Serious Straw Bale and More Straw Bale Building.  This will allow us to have something in hand once we don’t have such easy access to the internet.  I am also spending tonight, and many other nights, watching videos.  Here are a few: How to Build a Strawbale House in 6 DaysBuilding Your Own Straw Bale HomeBenefits Of Straw Bale ConstructionBuilding and Living Off the Grid in an Idaho Strawbale Home (this one is if you have extra cash).  And finally my collection of links for more information.

 

 

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I found you through your blog. What is your blog and/or project about?
“I started my blog www.nurturegreen.wordpress.com just over a year ago with the aim of documenting my Permaculture diploma and the journey it takes me on. My blog has evolved to be wider than just my Diploma work and includes lots of things I am doing that are related to positive change, like learning how to eat a whole food diet, running an outdoor playgroup and repurposing my children’s clothes into quilts. I want my blog to be pleasing to look as well as informative. I take lots of photographs and my blog provides a platform to show these. I enjoy reading other peoples blogs too and it is great to connect with other bloggers out there who are on a similar path to myself.”
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I believe that you are someone who is helping to change the world in your own way. How do you think what you are doing is making things better?
“I am constantly educating myself and my family about Permaculture, creating sustainable systems and patterns in my life and striving for ways of living lightly that help rather than harm our amazing planet. I am aiming for voluntary simplicity, stripping away layers of unnecessary consumer driven ‘stuff’ that occupy our time and eats up our money. Over the years we have opted out of watching TV, stopped taking foreign holidays, and no longer buy processed food.  As a family we have chosen to be financially poor but time rich. This time is devoted to raising our kids, helping the local community, growing food and spreading the message that there is a different way of living available to us all. I have a long way to go before I feel satisfied with what I have achieved but I am happy to be on this path.”
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Many people, myself included, have not always been on this particular path. What inspired you to start doing what you are doing?
“I have always been interested all all things ‘green’ and decided to go veggie at 8 years old. Gardening is in my blood and as soon as I had my own garden I loved nothing more than spending time outdoors with my hands in the earth making things grow. I went to art college and was exposed to interesting people all doing their own thing slightly a step away from the ordinary folk. I felt at home there. Twelve years ago, Joe, my now husband and I, brought a bus and set about doing it up as a campervan. We had amazing adventures in that bus and it seemed to draw like-minded people towards us. I first heard the word “Permaculture’ from a family in a similar bus that we stumbled across in a muddy field in wet and wild Wales. We ended up spending a few days together talking about our fears for the futures and the hope offered by Permaculture. It felt wonderful to have found a movement that brought together so many of my interests and I set out to learn more. I have since found a fabulous Permaculture teacher called Hannah Thorogood and she has inspired me to change my career path from Arts education to Environmental education.”
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Doing things that are not the “norm” are sometimes difficult to get going with. What advice would you give to someone who may be out there trying to start their own unique adventure?
“I would say you are not alone! It can be reassuring and inspiring to find out about other people working in similar areas to yourself, so do some research, join local groups and get yourself into relevant networks. Find a local PDC (Permaculture design certificate) and take this course to give you a great grounding in Permaculture and the tools to take out and make positive changes in the world. I would also advice that you start small and set yourself achievable challenges. One of my favourite Permaculture Principles is ‘Use small and slow solutions’ You can change your behaviour and your life, but do it one step at a time rather than thinking you have to do everything at once. You have the most power over yourself and your immediate family, so make changes there and your sphere of influence may stretch further than you think. I believe that one small stone dropped into a lake has far reaching ripples.”
You pointed something out to me that I had never really thought about before.  We all get into things for very different reasons.  I found permaculture while trying to find a way to raise my family and feed them well.  We wanted to get away from standard society and the ugliness that goes with it.  We want good food and to be around people who think in ways similar to us.  We wanted our children to grow up without video games and television, but rather trees and mud.  Everything about permaculture, homesteading, and natural homes brought our dreams together.  The environmental aspect of permaculture was an added bonus.  I was always conscious of waste and not polluting, but it was a part of my goal, not the main goal.  But if you think about it, the environment is very important in raising a family as well.  Thank you for broadening my horizons!
Thank you again for helping me with this project.  I really appreciate the work you did for me and look forward to keeping up with you and your blog, Nurture Green.  If you like what you have read here, be sure to check out the blog!

 

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