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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Beginning of a Yardstead

Small steps, small steps. Together Tom and I have embraced the suburban homestead. My husband continues to surprise me-he is just as excited about this grand experiment as I am. My focus has been food, garden and small livestock. I have discovered he is the home efficiency guy! Our goals here are energy efficiency and self sufficiency. We are taking steps to reduce our electrical and natural gas (heat and hot water) needs, conserve water and produce a (yet to be determined) percentage of our own food, while buying as much food locally as possible.

This weekend we purchased some more CFLs- about 80% of our bulbs are now switched over. We installed a low flow shower head and fixed a dripping faucet. These are all small things but will add up quickly. We have also made a commitment to use rechargeable batteries in our house. We have a recharger but never use it!

Tom found a good site, Advanced Energy Systems, which allows you to plug in numbers from your utility bill, zip code and a few other things, then estimates how much a solar PV system or hot water system will cost along with payback time. We discovered that a hot water solar system would pay for itself in approx 2 years! That is on our list for spring.

Our garden plan is fragmented. I will have a small 'kitchen garden' here at home. Maybe a cold frame or two for early and late greens, etc. The primary garden will be at my Dad's ArkWork Farm. Once the girls are out of school we will be living in our camper on the hill 3-4 days per week at the Farm. It makes more sense to have the main garden there. I would like to experiment with square foot gardening in a raised bed. We are still working on how much to grow. I am working on a list of what we eat-how many times a month do we eat spaghetti? How many lbs of potatoes do we eat? Then work backwards to how many tomato plants do I grow?

I'll post more about the no knead bread (in the dishwasher :} ) tomorrow when I have some pictures to go with the post-that's always more fun!


fullfreezer said...

It sounds like you're making some good plans. The home efficiency stuff can really pay off.

Ruralrose said...

Yipee - you are doing it - congratulations success never looks like what we picture in our minds - square foot raised beds are the only way to go - efficiency is always the first step - i am so happy for you - you must have shared out loud with your guy cause it looks like your dreams are about to come true - what a summer it will be - there is to be a food shortage next winter good thing you are planning to put things up - most everything can be cut into little pieces and frozen in the freezer bag - worms are an excellent project for the kids and are life long allies in the garden - o i do go on - peace

ChristyACB said...

Congrats on getting it going full steam ahead!

I second Rurualrose! For efficiency at urban/suburban homesteading SFG can't be beat. I was amazed how much I could grow in such a small area with so much less work.

I think a traditional garden is easier when growing a "truck garden" in the country but for the suburbs, SFG in raised beds really makes every inch count.

On CFLs. I changed all mine, but then I changed my kitchen and bathrooms back to regular because the light seemed too dim and yellow. Did you find that also or did you get a different bulb? If not, what kind of bulb would you recommend?

Ruralrose said...

I wasn't going to comment on the bulbs - because i know i am an extremist - we replaced to save money too, but did you know these bulbs have mercury in them - there is no good way to dispose of toxic mercury - also they are banned in parts of Europe because they emit an electrical energy field that is harmful to people -

on a lighter note - come visit my blog and look at my yard today - peace all

Jason said...

Sounds great...I love it!