Getting Greener – I Think!
Over the past few years we have become more aware of what we buy and its impact on the environment and as I get further into my retirement, we seem to be doing more to be self-sufficient and getting greener. They seem to really compliment one another.
While we are making progress on living a more green lifestyle, however we are not willing to go back to living an 1800’s farm lifestyle. We live in the modern world and enjoy the convenience and benefits of it, with all of its warts. There is a balance that we are attempting to achieve between being green and living in the modern petroleum-based world.
Gardening – We compost and are organic, which produces about 80% of our vegetable needs through our garden, we have begun to purchase what we don’t or didn’t grow from a local farm. My wife cans and freezes enough to get us through to the next harvest without buying too many vegetables.
In the future I would love to move to more heirloom produce and then save the seeds for the next year’s crop, it is both a way of being a little more frugal and getting away from modified seeds. It is one of those things we have discussed, but have not done as yet. This would be another step towards being a little more self-sufficient.
Foraging – We have permission from the neighbors to do light foraging on their properties for wild foods that grow locally i.e. berries, greens, etc. Plus I have discovered that I really like greens and have started to include: Dandelion greens, Plantains, oregano leafs, mint leaves and others as I learn what is safe to eat in the yard. One thing about it, there are always dandelions and plantains in our yard until the cold snaps.
Meat/Eggs – We buy eggs from a neighbor, who has free range chickens and use the local butcher for our meat products. We have reduced our portion serving sizes of meat – ex. Instead of a steak for each of us, now a steak feeds three and is there is usually left overs for lunch the next day. Other parts of the meal, have become the main focus of what we eat and the meat is a condiment. I don’t foresee us ever becoming vegetarians, but we have reduced the amount of meat we consume.
Hunting – I also plan to archery hunt this year, I haven’t decided about the gun season yet – I will wait a bit longer before I decide on that. Hunting to me is a more natural way of procuring meat, than simply going down to the store and buying it and plus it will get me out into nature more. Hunting isn’t for everyone, but if you eat meat, I believe that you should be willing and able to kill/process your own meat and not just rely on someone else to do it all for you.
Our recreational choices are based around human-powered motion, not motorized. We hike, snowshoe, run, walk, bike a little, do some fishing, kayaking and other outdoor activities. Now that my knee is mending, I have gotten rid of about half of the extra 30 pounds I have put on and we enjoy the outdoors more (again).
|From Photo Album|
Our main vehicle is a 2007 Subaru, which are very popular in Maine for a reason – 4WD and decent gas mileage. We also have a 1999 Dodge Dakota 4WD truck – we live in the country and it comes in very handy for hauling stuff, pulling stuff (as long as I don’t drop too many trees on it) and during winter, I haven’t had a better vehicle in the snow. The Dakota might even become a plow truck someday, but only if I can find a cheap plow set.
With our reduced need to travel now, we have discussed the need for multiple vehicles, however both are paid for and are in good shape, so we are keeping them both for the time being. Either way, we have significantly reduced our travel and travel needs with us both being at home, which has reduced our gasoline consumption considerably.
No we don’t have a McMansion, we live in a modest home on 8 acres (with some bog area), we just replaced the furnace a few ago and supplement our heating with a wood burning fireplace insert that does a decent job of keeping the main parts of the house warm (sometimes too warm according to my wife). Once the temps get below 20 degrees F, we use oil heat and burn around 400 gallons over the course of a winter. We usually cut and split 2-3 cord of wood, to get us through until warmer weather arrives consistently in May.
This year we plan to cut a little more than in the past, because we are both home to tend the fire. We selectively cut our trees, so that we are sustaining our wood lot for the long haul, not just the next couple of years. Yes I do the splitting with good old-fashioned muscle power and plan to do this for as long as possible. 🙂
Sure we would love to use solar, geothermal or wind power, but they are expensive to convert to and we made the choice to retire early, which means our income is limited. Therefore, we have to make the best of what we presently have and make small steps, not the big dramatic ones that you read or dream about doing.
We are making progress in our efforts to conserve and be more green. As we find other things that we can do – we will, while at the same time continuing to maintain the quality of life that we choose to live. Going to a more green lifestyle is all about choices, but the green choice is not always the simplest or cheapest initially, even though it might be a great choice for the long-run. We are trying for the long-term but have to stay within our budgetary constraints.