I created a new page recently that can be found along the right nestled in there with all of my other pages. I've named it Homesteading and since it took me as long to write as a regular post, I thought I'd share it here with you! :)
Homesteading: a lifestyle of simple self-sufficiency (Wikipedia)
I love the term homesteading: It implies such a balanced and wholesome approach to life. While I'm in no way ready to give up all of the amenities of modern living (indoor plumbing is high on my list of "keepers"), I do completely and thoroughly embrace a movement that brings us back to the basics. One that reconnects us to the natural world and reminds us that we are only a tiny part of this amazing whole. It encourages us to tread lightly, with great care and reverence, as we peacefully coexist with the natural world around us.
This is my homesteading base, in the heart of New England. My home really is my haven, I rarely venture out unless forced. I adore the peace, solitude and silence that living in the country affords me. We are surrounded by trees, blue sky and quiet neighbors. Scott and I built our home back in 1999 on two acres of land. If we were embarking on the same journey today there would be much I would do differently in terms of green and sustainable living. However, at the time I was still unaware of the negative impact most of us have on our world. I was woefully ignorant of the damage our choices create on a daily, hourly basis. Live and learn. Know better, do better. :)
In October of 2011 we began generating our own energy, tapping into the vast resources of the sun. While the system does not allow us complete self sufficiency, it is a giant leap in the right direction. It isn't the only way that we use the sun though, loads upon loads of laundry are dried and disinfected by its powerful, healing rays. Mmmm, nothing beats the scent of line-dried clothes ~ heavenly. And free.
Here is where we deviate from the homesteading version of livestock. ;) Our animals bring us nothing much, other than pleasure. As vegans we don't eat eggs or drink milk of any kind so what we're left with... is poop. Yes, it comes in handy when making a batch of compost tea, but other than that our barnyard pals are simply that, pals. Scott built me this adorable shed back in the winter of 2005 when I decided that I simply must have goats. Somehow he even managed to sink posts to put up fencing while the earth was still frozen and sleeping. Yes, he's awesome. And no, you can't have him. ;)
I love chickens. Sitting and watching them dig and happily peck on a warm spring day is such a peaceful way to spend an hour... or two. There is nothing more pressing to a hen than unearthing that bug or scritch scratching in the dirt. Such a sweetly simple life.
Some of the girls, hanging out (Sugar, Ruth and Miss Echo )
Sugar (no longer with us, but adorable all the same)
The summer months find me happily digging in the dirt. Each year I watch with wonder and amazement as little, tiny seeds transform into majestic green plants, just bursting with sun-ripened veggies. It never gets old. The garden is quite large, and is a family affair. The girls and I have assigned rows, rows that our ours to water, weed and bug-pick daily. Scott's in charge of maintenance and repairs. ;)
It all begins with a seed. My new favorite company for organic seeds isSeedsOfChange.com
The work begins in the spring with fence repair, turning over the soil and stringing out row lines
Next comes the spreading of the mulch. Hands down, my favorite mulch is grass clippings. Since the clippings come from my lawn they are guaranteed to be chemical free, and if spread immediately they are pure pleasure to work with. Fragrant, soft and it stays exactly where you place it! It'll take several layers but it does an amazing job of keeping down the weeds, and breaks down easily and naturally, replenishing the soil almost as well as compost. Perfect.
My helpers ~ Jordan and Riley Mae
Scotty ~ head of maintenance :)
And quickly reach for the sun, green arms extended
Here they come... (June 2012)
Living simply and purely means many hours spent in the kitchen. We eat no packaged foods and the thought of dining in a restaurant makes me shudder. Our food is healthy, wholesome and divinely delicious. By choice we are gluten free, sugar free, artificial ingredient free, preservative free, soy free, MSG (including all its hidden forms), yeast free (except for homemade sourdough) organic vegans. There is probably more I could add to that list but I think you get the picture. If it isn't healthy, it doesn't pass my lips. My body thanks me for that every single day. :)
Once a month Scott and I come home with the car packed with bulk grains, flours and supplies. Buying in this way saves us tons and tons. Two chest freezers in our basement hold it all. Some of bags are my mom's goodies, but most all of it is ours. And by next month, we'll need it again.
Many of the following dishes can be found on my Scrumptious Recipes page. If it isn't there yet, it will be...eventually. :)
Brown rice pasta with veggies
Herbed, roasted cauliflower
Freshly baked sourdough, gluten free bread
Lentil loaf with creamy coconut sauce
Freshly juiced veggies and fruit
Carob brownies with ice cream
Oatmeal cookies with raisins
Banana bread with walnuts
Living simply is synonymous with a chemical free existence, in my mind anyway. If I can make it, I do. My homemade products are simple, safe and inexpensive. I usually sell these treasures in my Etsy shop, Backyard Dreams, but I've closed up shop for the summer. There is only so much time in a day. ;) However, some of these recipes can be found on either my Green Beauty Recipe Page or my Green Cleaning Page.
Organic cocoa butter body cream (looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?)
Organic deodorant stick
Organic hair wax
Organic bug spray
Organic lip balm
All purpose spray, window cleaner and organic cotton dishcloths
Peppermint toothpaste (you can find the recipe here)
Going back to the basics meant slowing my life down, in a very deliberate and thoughtful way. A pre-packaged, prepped "meal" (and yes, I use that term very loosely) can't be tossed in the microwave (if I owned a microwave...) if my purpose is to make kind, wise and earth friendly choices. I've found the chopping of vegetables and the simple act of pulling together a healthy and delicious meal is hugely rewarding. Hanging a load of laundry in the early morning sun, to the chorus of birds and bees is quickly grounding. Working in tandem with the soil, the sun and the rain to grow succulent organic vegetables deeply infuses me with gratitude.
I feel distinctly peaceful when I ponder my impact on this earth. Daily, hourly my choices are thoughtful and careful, based on a return to food and living as it used to be, before we thought science could do it all better. To my wonder and joy I've discovered that Mother Nature already has all the answers, to any and every question that I ask. I plan on leaving this planet knowing that I did all I could to heal and restore her. So far, I feel pretty darn good about my homesteading journey, my footprints are light and loving. I can't wait to see where they will lead me next...