Purposely Getting Greener

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.

Our Progress so far:

Food

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.

Recreation

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 

Vehicles

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.

Home

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.

Summary

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.

Went to the Book Sale

Originally on Sort of Retired  – 9/17/11

One of the things I like best about this sort of retired gig is that my schedule is very flexible.

Earlier this week we heard about the local library’s annual book sale beginning at 7:00 A.M. on Friday morning.

Now in the past, I wouldn’t have been able to even think about going, but this year I got to go and didn’t feel rushed about how long I looked around.

My usual genre for reading is Heroic Fantasy with a lot of Science Fiction thrown in i.e. Terry Brooks, Dennis McKiernan or Frank Herbert and a little Edgar Rice Burroughs among others.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot those Genres available at this book sale.  I ended up going outside of my comfort zone and got the following books:

Zen in the Art of Archery  by Eugen Herrigel – When I was really into archery a ways back, this book was often commented on by archery writers and I never could find a copy, so when I saw it, I thought it would be cool to read it now.

Healing Foods by Patricia Hausman and Judith Benne Hurley – I am trying to eat better and thought it might have some interesting ideas for eating healthier.

Locksmithing by F.A. Steed – I have always been interested in how locks operate and have set out to learn more new skills, so this goes along with learning new skills.

Grandma Putt’s Old-Time Vinegar, Garlic, Baking Soda and 101 More Problem Solvers by Jerry Baker – This book goes along with my focus on being more self-reliant and using simple solutions, instead of buying complex solutions.

Crown of Shadows by C.S. Friedman – I had read books 1 & 2 of the series several years ago and never got around to getting the last book in the series.  The wife found it in her wandering around the room and asked if I wanted it.  It was the only “fantasy” book that I got yesterday.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton – Was one of those books that I read when I was in high school and loved, I got this more for being in my library and to re-read later than to read now.

Wooden by Coach John Wooden – I have always thought he was a great man, not just a great coach and thought this would be a good book to read.

The Allagash by Lew Dietz – It seemed like a good read and I enjoy reading historical books about Maine.

The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference – Gives the definitions of many of the more obscure words in fantasy novels.

Home Comfort – Life on Total Loss Farm by the people of Total Loss Farm – Was published back in the early 70’s and just sounded very interesting.

No for the most part these books go away from my favorite genre of Fantasy and will give me some other things to read.  Unfortunately, none of the gardening books that were there, looked very interesting, so I can’t learn more about gardening from this book sale :(.

Actually I am looking forward to the changes, I have been stuck in a rut for a while.