Archive for August, 2011

I have a long way to go…

I posted on facebook earlier today a quote about homesteading that connected me with the reason why it interests me at all.  “Homesteading is about producing more of what I truly need on a daily basis, and consuming less of what doesn’t really bring any real satisfaction anyway.”  That quote, from themorristribe.com, gets straight to the heart of homesteading for me.  Western life has become so deeply entrenched in the art of over-consumption and careless wastefulness.  We must be the least skilled people in the history of mankind.  Very few of us know how to make our own anything – we just buy it off the shelf.  From bread and jam to soap and cleaners, we are ignorant of how to make a little go a long way.  Many people would even question the need to do such a thing – make a little go a long way.  Such a thought further demonstrates my point – Western life is so centered on consumerism and convenience, with no thought being given to conserving what we have or becoming skilled in producing what we truly need.

I am excited about what the coming year holds for me.  I have many skills to learn, and many ideals to confront in myself, each one will bring new satisfaction and independence.  Independence from a way of life that demands money to pay for overpriced unnecessary items.  Independence from reliance on the seemingly unfailing stocked store shelf.  Independence from valuing ease and convenience over healthy choices and taking time for what’s truly important.  There are many levels of independence to reach in becoming a more skilled and content person when it comes to producing what I need to live, and consuming less.  But I have a long way to go.  A real long way. 

I’ve been doing some reading this week, mainly in the form of blogs and websites.  I  discovered themorristribe.com and was deeply inspired by the author’s life journey.  One post she titled “What Can I Live Without” challenged me to consider the items I use everyday, and what would be a suitable substitute for those items.  Her item was a hairdryer.  My dryer has to be replaced every year or so for about $20.  Though $20 doesn’t seem like that much money, in the pursuit of simplicity and self-reliance, could I do without it?  I think during the summer I could do without it.  I never caught the Texas big-hair bug and often sport a conservative pony tail.  But during the winter I would find it difficult to do without a hair dryer.  Who likes to freeze their ears and neck off going outside with wet hair when it’s 15 F outside? Not washing my hair every other day at least, is not really an option for me.

Miracle Powder?

I’ve been looking at ways to reuse glass jars from grocery store bought foods.  Also, how to make my own liquid laundry detergent – currently saving up jugs to try it out.  I saw some reuseable cloth snack bags today at WalMart that were $7 for 3 of them.  I wonder if I could make them for 1/2 that price?  Certainly not if I buy some cute fabric online for $10/yard.  But maybe if I used something I already have.  I read somewhere that baking soda dusted on the armpits with a powder puff works nicely in place of deodorant ???  I’m unsure about that, but I’m willing to give it a try.  The same person also has forgone dishsoap and uses baking soda to wash her dishes with.  I ordered a “glass straw” today.  Since having some dental work done on my front tooth earlier this year, I have to drink everything out of a straw to avoid tooth pain (annoying, right?).  I’ve been through my fair share of plastic straws this year.  Amazingly, the glass straw comes with a lifetime guarantee.  Interesting, huh?

So I’m looking at how to make my own health, beauty, and household products.  I’m pursuing producing some of my family’s food this coming year through raising animals and a garden, and by eating less convenience and fast food.  I’m hoping to decrease my use of plastics even further, and to increase my skill level in reusing items that I have.  I’ve given up bottled water and carry my own water bottle where ever I go.  I use green cleaners and soaps, but have yet to come around on expensive organic shampoo and conditioner (good alternative anyone?).  I buy thrift 75% of the time when it comes to my clothes and my children’s clothes, and my wardrobe is very simple at that.  I took a canning class and a bread baking class this year, and have done both of those in the months since then a number of times.  I have weaned myself off of many convenience foods and unhealthy foods and opt for many whole foods in my kitchen.  I usually always take my cloth bags when grocery shopping, and actually prefer them over plastic.

Galvanized Lanterns

Lehmans.com.... a dangerous place to surf. I want these lanterns!

But I have so far to go.  I still use paper plates almost daily.  I have no dishwasher and somehow feel justified in my paper plate usage because of that.  I prefer my clothes dryer over outdoor line drying even when it’s nice outside.  I am highly allergic to trees and grass and the last thing I need is for my clothes to be covered in tree pollen before I even put them on.  I am very attached to air-conditioning for the same reason.  Open windows doesn’t usually last too long for me.  I buy very little bulk food.  The nearest bulk bins are over an hours from my home, and very little grocery shopping gets done that far from home on a regular basis.  I have good intentions about gardening, but have yet to raise a garden that produces a large amount of food for my family.  There’s next year of course, and I can see that big beautiful garden in my mind already.  Sites like lehmans.com make me want to spend $500 in one order.  Though these tools are a good investment in the long term, part of the goal here is to be content with less, and that means spending less money.  However, if you haven’t seen that website and you like homesteading at all, you must stroll on over.

chicks

Gonna raise me some chickens!

The good news is that my first batch of baby chicks arrive this week.  A few months from now we will produced our own organic chicken for our family to eat throughout the winter.  We also have 2 pigs being processed soon which Keith helped raise when we were at World Hunger Relief Inc, and Nathan Fair has finished raising for us.  I hope to get some laying hens soon, as the intense heat is going to end soon.  I hope to raise some fall garden crops – lettuce, spinach, peas, and broccoli.  That will be the extent of our food production for 2011.  But 2012 has much more promise.

Off the grid, baby!

We have also been looking into alternative energy sources (besides public utlities) for the home we will move into after moving out of this rent house.  Right now we are looking at getting a mobile home in the country.  We learned that for the most part, solar panels take a long time to pay off and only provide a small percentage of a household’s energy needs.  We live in a very windy area, so we are considering getting a residential sized windmill to help produce our electricity.  The land we’ll live on has a natural gas well on it (family owned), so between the gas and the windmill, we’d be an energy independent household. That sounds great to me.  I may have even talked my dad into getting a windmill for his house and barn.  It pays itself off in 2-3 years, giving us free electricity from then on.  Anyone else interested?  http://www.windenergy.com/

So this is one journey I am on that I guess I have more adequately shared about here on the blog finally.  There are a few other journeys I am on… but this entry is too long already – if you made it this far.  🙂

Leave your comments below.  You know I love to read them.

Lacy