A permaculture trifecta…

Dear Reader,

A while back, I mentioned that I’d be posting about non-gardening acts that fit naturally into a permaculture lifestyle (“And now for something not entirely different…”).  While those acts percolated deep within the good intentions section of my brain, I promptly dropped the ball on sharing them with you.  Today I happened upon a (not new) web site that reminded me of one of them, and delightfully morphed that single idea into three interconnected, socially and personally responsible, healthy ones:  three great acts that act great together!

The site is “The Great American Apparel Diet.”  On the “About” page, the project is described as, “…a group of women and two men who have decided to go on a diet of sorts.  A fast really.  We are completely eliminating ‘new apparel’ from our diets for one year…We all have our reasons for embarking on this project but it all gets down to this…who are we without something hip and new in our closets?  We shall see.”  Of course, the year has lapsed and the project has ended.  But reading the information on this site is no less apt for the task at hand, which is to detach from consumerism in all its toxic forms and embark on a permaculture lifestyle through reduction.  Allow me to explain.

I buy almost all my clothes at Goodwill.  This is not only because I care about the middle third of reduce/reuse/recycle, but because I am cheap.  And it doesn’t hurt that I can take advantage of the shoppers’ high that others experience, when they cast off the excess name-brand items purchased on a whim.  I find that the high I experience when I find, say, a mint condition Orvis jacket for manly man for $5.99 is far greater than I ever experienced buying new items in the department store, even from the sale rack.  I mean, it may be on sale, but they’re still not giving it away.

This focus on Goodwill as a wardrobe source has resulted in two problems:  first, I find it easy to forgive myself for spending $20 frequently, even if I am walking out with a bagful of goodies; and second, I have more clothes than I have room to store or time to wear.  Both of these problems violate the first third of the three r’s:  reduce.  I need to reduce both my spending on and my hoarding of clothing I just don’t need.  The Great American Apparel Diet aimed to reduce not only its members’ carbon footprint but their spending.  Reducing spending has more positive effects than I have time to list, and I’m sure that you, Reader, are aware of them anyway.

And then there’s the third form of reduction:  me.  I weigh too much – way too much.  And Goodwill has made it easy for me to simply edge up a size when necessary.  I literally have a basement full of boxes of pants and skirts that I can’t fit into.  I have enough clothes that, if I could wear them, I could probably wear something different everyday for a year.  So, the hoarding problem isn’t simply one of wanting something new (new to me, anyway); it’s also a problem based in the criminal neglect of my body and the need to cover it with something.

The moral of this story is my need to reduce:  the amount of stuff I have, the amount of money I spend, and the amount of weight I carry.  Eating clean and living closer to the earth will lend itself to all these goals, starting with the last one and working back toward the first.  Reduction in the physical realm will allow my life to flourish in permaculture because it will clean up my body, my house, my finances, and allow me to really connect with the value of true abundance.

JMW

Drumroll please…

Dearly Missed Reader,

I’m back, baby!!

I’ve been thinking about Rousseau’s Garden, and I’ve been thinking about you.  This crazy-ass weather has made my bulbs come up, which are sure to suffer from the inevitable ice storm right around the corner.  Nevertheless, the moderate temperatures and the notification that we are now in a new USDA plant hardiness zone (uh, thank you, global warming?) has got my gardening muscles flexing.  I’ve already started planning how to completely renovate the site manly man set up last year, what I want to grow, and how many more birds to add to our flock.  2011 was a year of personal challenges (those of you who know me personally know what they were and are — hoo boy), and 2012 promises to be a bear as well.  But I am determined to stay close to the ground and share my triumphs and bloopers with you, Dear Reader.  I look forward to your feedback and suggestions and your friendly bon mots at my expense.

Let’s Go!

JMW

I’d apologize, but…

Reader,

I have decided to accept that blogging is a time-to-time activity for me.  I genuinely appreciate everyone’s interest in our project and its implications, and I love being able to share what we’re doing with you.  And, while this act of contrition is probably unnecessary, it makes me feel better to “say” it.  So, thanks for listening — now and in the future.

JMW

Roots…

Dear Reader,

The first season living with Rousseau’s Garden was challenging, rewarding, exasperating, exciting, and inspirational.  My free time is spent mostly thinking about new ways to look at and develop this project; eventually, I would very much like to be a “professional” homesteader so that all my time can be spent that way.  The garden had its hits and misses, and I’m prepared to make new and better choices next season.  The chickens have been utterly and completely wonderful; bringing them into our family was absolutely the right thing to do.  The additions and amendments we’ve made on our property have led to a very enjoyable outdoor life for our family and friends.  I’ve read soooooo much about urban homesteading, it’s felt like being in school again — in a good way :)  I’ve learned about sustainable practices that I didn’t even know existed and that I certainly didn’t think I’d enjoy, but I do!  My children know where food comes from and enjoy participating in its cultivation.  But the most important thing that’s come out of Rousseau’s Garden so far is not easily described.

What I deem the most important early outcome has been the existential roots that our family has been able to put down.  For years, the manly man and I have sought peace and contentment through massive change — and it’s been as counter-productive as it sounds.  By dedicating ourselves to this project, we’ve come to love our home, our neighborhood, and our newly discovered sense of place.  We are feeling more settled and attached to the simple joy of caring for our property in a way that is productive and not vain in the service of conformity.  We no longer put down grass seed or water the grass we have.  We no longer worry about bare patches; instead, we see them as opportunities or as places where the chickens spent some happy time.  We finally put up a small barn that has allowed us to take better care of what we have instead of replacing it every year.  We don’t just sit on the deck; we sit all over the yard and are amazed at the vistas we’ve missed for so long.  In addition to our increased vegetable gardening, we are putting in fruit bushes and trees that will be beautiful and abundant.  We’ve attracted a fascinating variety of wildlife and love knowing that we have an hospitable environment that they enjoy as much as we are finally beginning to.

The best part of all is that we’ve just begun.  There is so much to do, in terms of permaculture, learning, and living, and it’s all before us, yet to happen.  I imagine a lush and variegated, almost fairy-tale like miniature forest of beautiful foods and flowers, flora and fauna, and us sitting contentedly in the middle of it all.  I imagine jars and jars of delicious food put up in the pantry, full of sunshine for cold days.  I imagine my laundry blowing in the breeze while my boys excitedly announce the arrival of each new egg.  And, for the first time, I know that it is all possible.

Until next time,

JMW

 

Here’s the deal…

Dear Reader,

My neglect of this blog project is not a reflection on Rousseau’s Garden, or an indication of lack of productivity.  I have several theories as to how I became so distant, but the bottom line is that summer is madness at our house.  Chickens, dog, cats, 4 and 6 year old boys, gardening, grading, housework — it all got the better of me, and my more cerebral pursuits went into hibernation.  Needless to say, there is much to catch up on, sharing-wise, and I will do my best to recapture this eventful summer and its products, mistakes, and inspiration.

Sincerely,

JMW

“I’m so confused about what just happened to me…”

Dear Reader,

The title of this post is a direct quote from all three chickens, who have now all laid their first egg!  Day one of laying was a decidedly stressful experience for each of them.  They didn’t all lay for the first time on the same day, but each did in quick succession over the course of two days.  Nutman (leader of the pack and not-so-aptly-named by my little bear) is still perturbed by the laying experience, and keeps pecking a hole in one end of each of her eggs.  We’re hoping she’ll give up on that since chickens quickly develop a taste for eggs if allowed to eat them.

The first egg, laid from the roost, and inedible :(

So tiny, so cracked

I made a squash and tomato dish with goat cheese, garlic and paprika tonight, and baked the first four edible eggs on top.  I neglected to take a picture of it; rest assured, it was very pretty and very delicious!  As production — and size — picks up, we should have many fantastic, eggy culinary experiences to share.

Until next time,

JMW

Friends I could have had…

Reader,

This is a post I made on Facebook, but it’s relevant to this blog so I’m reposting it here.  On a related note, I am starting to get my homesteader blogging mojo back, so I’ll regale you with new (and original to this blog) posts very soon.

after an enjoyable evening with a long-time friend, i stopped to pick up several perfect-condition animal cages (sweet!) in front of a house a few doors down that the owners were getting rid of as part of their move.  we started a conversation (this is midnight, btw), in which i discovered that she’s a vet, they have a 3 1/2 yo daughter, they’ve been talking about us (nicely) to their friends and calling us the “garden people,” and they’re super cool.  she even gave me a big bag of girl-baby stuff for a friend’s son’s friend.  they are, by now, halfway to florida, where they are relocating.  we’ve lived near each other for almost 6 years, have kids close in age, and just met over some discarded items that caught my eye.  when i was a kid, i knew EVERYONE on my street.  we weren’t friends with everyone, but our family knew them.  there are people on my street i’ve tried to engage in conversation who won’t acknowledge me when we’re outside.  the political sociologist in me wants to write a paper.  the human in me is sad.  the citizen in me is frustrated at the whole “bowling alone” phenomenon and how we’ve insulated ourselves into a society of lost opportunities for contact and camaraderie.  my two cents for the day.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.