ANZ's Farms

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The 10 Elements -- How are We Doing?

The list of essential elements of urban homesteading (see yesterday's blog) just begs an evaluation of how well we are doing. So here goes:

1. Food -- organic, check. Visually appealing, I think so. 50%, no way! I'd have to really cut down on my intake to meet that goal! However, we produce 100% of our eggs and have plenty to give away (see the good neighbor element #10). I haven't bought tomatoes, tomato sauce, green/red peppers, jalapeƱos, garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, lettuce, honey, jelly/jam, applesauce or salsa in almost a year. The 10 months of the year that we are milking (we have let the does dry off while they are pregnant), we produce 100% of our milk, ice cream and yogurt. For now, I will have to buy all our meat ... I just can't bring myself to butcher our animals. They all have names and personalities.
I can do better by making more cheese (we eat alot of that); drinking more water and less Pepsi; growing and preserving green beans, peas, spinach, corn and other vegetables; root cellaring more onions (we ate what I had put away in several weeks' time) and some potatoes. One day we can expand into grains and make my own breads. The herb Stevia as a sweetner to replace sugar is a goal for this year, too. I will always have to buy some granulated sugar and coffee, chocolate and Ritz crackers.

2. Alternative energy sources -- Fail! Solar panels are so expensive. Wind turbines are in violation of city ordinances. We will have to work extra hard on energy efficiency (with things like appliances, insulated windows, extra insulation) and reducing usage. I want one of those umbrella style clothes lines for the back yard!

3. Alternative fuels -- another Fail! Alternative transportation -- there's a worthy goal. Dust off the bike, buy a lock, attach the basket ... look out, here she comes!

4. Animals for manure and food; animal husbandry -- goats, chickens and bees, check. We have lots of manure. We compost it and put it back into the garden. See #1 about animals for food.

5. Waste reduction -- doin' OK. We recycle as much as we can. The green bucket is full on trash collection day. Office papers and junk mail are shredded for the nesting boxes. The book _Little Heathen_ gives great ideas for re-purposing, like turning old socks that can't be darned again into a kitchen mop. Cloth bags accompany me to any store and my grocery gives bonus points for not consuming their plastic bags.

6. Water conservation/recovery -- check. The drought of summer 2008 taught us all how to use less water. Collected rain water and water left in the pail by the goats goes in the watering can for the greenhouse plants. And I like knowing that all water used here goes back into the ground and eventually the well to be used once more.

7. Live simply -- can you hear the kids saying "check" in unison? We don't text message or have a Blackberry. We don't have cable or satellite TV.  We don't eat out much and I can't remember the last time I went to the mall. We make our own soap, lotion, lip balm and candles as well as canning, freezing, dehydrating and root cellaring foods.

8. Self-help home and vehicle maintenance, repairs and construction -- Double check! I married the answer to this! My husband is a licensed electrician and handyman. There isn't anything he can't do. I am a good helper. Sometimes companionship is the only help I am skilled enough to offer, but he takes it gratefully.

9. Work at home -- check. My real estate business is home-based. And I am starting to sell some of my products at craft fairs and on consignment. City ordinances are strict about the nature of home-based businesses. It would violate my city's ordinances to sell my farm products from home.

10. Good neighbor -- We try to be. We have great neighbors, so it's easy. In addition to sharing our bounty, we try to keep the yard looking nice and the animal "aromas" undetectable. I pooper scoop the goats' area at lease twice daily and the chickens' each day. The composting piles are as far away from people as possible. The shed is painted to match the house and has shutters and a window box.

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