How big is your footprint?

I read a post from TreeHugger on Facebook today on reducing the amount of plastic we use and it got me thinking about what we do to try to be more environmentally friendly.  I’m happy to say that where we live we have a great curbside recycling program.  Paper/cardboard/plastic/metals/compost.  There’s not a very big list of what we can’t recycle or compost and it leads to us not having very much garbage at all.  I know we can still reduce that as we produce more of our own food but for now we’re down to only one garbage bag per week.

Here are just 5 ways we try to do our part.

Cloth Napkins   We stopped using paper towel and paper napkins at home quite a while ago.  I have a huge stack of cloth napkins and they can just be thrown in the washer with a load of towels so that we aren’t doing a separate wash.  I have gotten them as gifts, made some myself, found lots at yard sales/flea markets, and gotten some as hand me downs.  They are super easy to make from fabrics you have lying around the house or maybe even from an old sheet, shirt, or pillow case.

Cloth Bread Bags/Bread Box I love making bread and I used to use a lot of plastic bags to keep that bread in.  Now I use a bread box and bags aren’t required for that at all. A properly designed bread box will allow enough air to pass through to keep the bread from going moldy but not enough to dry it out as if it was left out on the counter.  If you’re like my mom and you give bread to friends and family, try using cloth bags.  It keeps the bread clean and works similar to the bread box.  No airtight bags promoting mold growth.  People are always happy to give the bags back to be reused again.  If you are using cloth bread bags just make sure you don’t wash them in a smelly detergent and don’t use fabric softener.  No one wants their beautiful bread smelling like “crisp morning air” or tasting like chemicals.

Cheesecloth One of the reasons I liked keeping paper towel in the house was for times when we cooked bacon.  I would lay out sheets of it to absorb grease when the bacon came off the pan. In order to eliminate this I tried several things but nothing would absorb the grease well enough for me.  Then I spotted some cheesecloth in the pantry and decided to give it a try.  Worked like a charm!   When I was done I would rinse it in hot soapy water in the sink to get most of the grease out and  then throw it in the laundry.  I have several of these pieces of cheesecloth dedicated to this so when they are washed I fold them and put them in a kitchen drawer until the next time I need them.  Again, no smelly soaps or fabric softener.

Reusable Shopping Bags  As much as people like to think about being environmentally friendly there are still a lot who don’t have reusable shopping bags.  Most of the comments I’ve heard are about convenience but for me the “hassle” of bring bags far outweighs the hassle of trying to find space in recycling or storing plastic bags for something else later on.    I also have less issues with broken items than if i was using flimsy plastic.  Reusable bags don’t just have to be ones you buy from a store either.  I have lots of those, but I also have cloth bags that I’ve made (good for packing meat or messy items because you can throw them in the washer) and I have some that I’ve made from the feed bags we get.

Thrift Store Shopping/Buying Used  I love the thrift stores.  Not only can I save money and find things that a lot of the times still have original price tags on, but I’m helping keep things out of the landfill.  I’ve said before that my parents are great at reusing items and re purposing things and this i something that I’ve taken to heart.  Lots of my furniture has been used, most of my wardrobe is from one thrift store or another, our kids know that they can get much more from the back to school budget if we buy second hand, and when you reuse/re purpose you end up with an interesting style that you probably won’t find anywhere else.

I hope that’s given you something to think about today.  As I come up with more recycling/reusing ideas or find things around the house that are recycle/reuse items I’ll post that for you all to see.

Have a beautiful day.

Hello, Spring. Is that you?

Some sort of plague invaded our house for nearly two months before Christmas affecting all of us at one point or another, but then January came with the promise of better things to come and health returned.

Things have improved at our house.

Hubby and I have decided that we are going to declutter the house regardless of weather or not we sell.  Downsizing the house has been on my mind for a long time but we haven’t been able to find the right property so far.  Lots of smaller houses but most of them come with smaller amounts of land.

I have cluttered the house in a different way since acquiring packing boxes for the “declutter”.  I have boxes stacked in almost every room now but it’s good for me because I’m going through everything and deciding if what we have is useful and does it have a place.  A combination of being a pack rat and being disorganized has meant that I’ve lived most of my life in chaos (as most of my family can attest to) but I am trying to change my habits so I can concentrate on the things that we really want to accomplish.  One of these days I will force myself to have a yard sale or bring it all to the local flea market and try to sell off everything I’ve boxed up.

Aside from decluttering, we are getting some neglected projects done around the house.  After only 2 1/2 years we finally got the crown moldings put on the upper cabinets in the kitchen!!!  Hubby did most of it and he did a great job.  We had to redo some cabinetry and plumbing because of frozen pipes in the kitchen so that got done as well. Again, Hubby did most of it so I have to give him a lot of the credit.  I’ll take 100% of the credit for nagging though.  🙂

On the “homestead” front, the birdies have started laying again.  Not a whole lot but for a few weeks now the brown layers have been taking turns and we have been getting 2 eggs a day.  We have two Black Stars and two Australorps and they will lay anywhere from a medium brown egg up to a large brown speckled egg.

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Black Star
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Australorp (Bucky)

And then this morning Hubby found a green/blue egg from one of our Americauna hens.  We were told when we got them that they were pure Americauna but unless you buy from a reputable breeder you can’t be sure that the line you are getting are pure.  I’m still going on the assumption that they are pure anyway and enjoy the gorgeous eggs they give us.

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Americaunas (and a Black Star) enjoying watermelon.

If we get a rooster of another breed I might try crossing them just to see what color eggs we will get.  Some people have gotten all kinds of different greens and blues from cross breeding Americaunas.

The children have decided they want to reintroduce Silkies this summer. The first ones we had were the first laying hens we owned and unfortunately a family of foxes had them for dinner one evening while we were out.

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Roo, Fluffy, and Bat Girl

That was a sad lesson for the kids and a hard lesson for us on the need to secure the bottom of animal fences.  They still want them though and are picking out names already…like Fluffy Butt.  Part of me wants to get some Showgirls, which I just found out about, and they are Silkies crossed with Naked Necks.

 

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Showgirl photo courtesy of backyardchickens.com

 

 

 

 

 

Of course I’d love to have all kinds of different chickens but I’ll settle for adding one new breed this summer…unless I find an amazing deal somewhere along the way.

 

Our flock of ducks is 30 strong and we are planning on butchering some of them soon to add to the pork and chicken we have in the freezer.  It will also create room for a new generation of ducks this summer.  We ended up with two good hatches last summer and I am anticipating at least two this summer.  We still only have Muscovies  and without a pond I am reluctant to add any other breeds of duck.

Piggies went to freezer camp on New Years day and we are planning on raising at least two more this season.  I have been researching breeds and breeders so we should be ready for piglets just over a month from now.We didnt do any hams or bacon from the last two but one of the things we have on our to do list is a smoker so I am excited about that.

Hubby didn’t have much luck with hunting this past season so no venison in the freezer for us.  We did have a good day in the woods with him on one of his hunting weekends. IMG_5547

The kids have been interested in the whole process and where he goes so he decided we should all go with him one day.

Little Man is still a bit young and it’s too hard for him to sit still but Little Miss was more than excited to go out again and she spent the whole day out with Hubby in the woods.    It turns out she’s quite a good little tracker and I expect she’ll be a hunter when she gets older.  I think Hubby will be more than happy to teach the kids all about responsible hunting!

The past few weeks I’ve been planning our garden and doing lots of research.  I have never really had a green thumb and the first summer we tried a garden it wasn’t such a success.  I have lots more knowledge and lots more ambition this year so hopefully we will have something to show for all of it at the end of the growing season. Our pantry is full of mason jars all ready for a bountiful garden harvest and I have been compiling canning recipes based on what we have planned for the garden.  I am also researching year round gardening with things like cold frames and hoop frames so that will be an interesting experiment for us as well.  Wouldn’t it be nice to go out in December and cut some kale leaves or pull up some carrots to have with dinner.

That’s my update for today.  I am working on some more instructional/informational posts for the upcoming weeks so stay tuned. I was thinking about a Facebook page as well.  We’ll see how organized I can get.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here and I plan on getting outside to do something productive this afternoon.  I hope you all are having a beautiful day where you are.

 

Getting to work.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts by different people about how they are working on their weight and that made me think about my own life and how I used to “work on my weight”.  Not any more.  Now I’m working on my health.

Too many of us have been bothered by a number on a scale but didn’t take the time to think about what that number represented.  It didn’t tell us how healthy we were.  It didn’t tell us how big or small any particular part of our bodies were.  It didn’t tell us how loving or caring we were.  It didn’t tell us anything other than the fact that the force of gravity was working…and that’s just not good enough!

We need to start looking at our bodies instead of the scales.  We need to start eating real food again and forget about processed pseudo foods.  We need to start moving and working our muscles.

Have a great day everyone and make sure you get out there and move!

Real World Learning

I saw a post on Facebook a while ago, and it’s one that I’ve seen several times before, but it made me think a little bit more about what I want from not only my life but for my children and the family as a whole.

This is the post and it came from Homesteading / Survivalism  who shared it from  Tiny House Small Homes Little Cabins Treehouses Container Home Design and I’m sure it’s showed up on several other pages as well.  I’m not promoting any specific page, just letting everyone know where it came from the day that I saw it.

common sense

I think the part of this that I want to emphasize is the teaching aspect of it. (I don’t want to get into a debate regarding rewards for children.)  Too often we get caught up in thinking that kids can only learn by sitting in a specific room in a specific chair listening to someone talk to them about the real world.  I’m a big believer in hands on learning and letting kids be kids.  There’s a lot to be said for kids learning in different ways and giving them different experiences that will help them understand a concept and be able to put it into practice.

When you are teaching them about real world things out in the real world they are learning all the math and science they need to know; gardening teaches them earth science and math, cooking teaches them chemistry/biology/math, woodworking teaches them geometry/physics/math, hiking teaches them ecology/environmentalism, knitting/sewing teaches them hand eye coordination and art,  etc.

I love being a teacher for my children and helping them learn all kinds of skills that will guide them through life.

Have a beautiful day everyone.