Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sorry for the break...

This whole house building process is S T R E S S F U L.  We have made lots of progress, though - the windows are all in, almost all of the interior walls are done, the electric has been started, and we started framing the garage.  Our goal is to have the whole house sealed up by the end of next weekend - garage finished, side porch erected, and roof trusses set.  Ambitious , yes.  But doable.

I need to start blogging more to get my thoughts down on this new lifestyle we are going to embark on.  It has become incredibly important to us lately that we source our food as locally as possible.  I have found a local winter CSA and we got a shipment last week.  Lettuce, collard greens, bok choy, and shitake mushrooms just to name a few of the things we got.  Lettuce in the middle of winter?!  And man oh man is it delicious.  The CSA is from Fish Hawk Acres, which gathers local food from farmers within a 100 mile radius and also buys global things which are sustainably grown.  We look forward to ordering more from this CSA until we get our gardens started.

We also have been sourcing our meat as locally as possible.  We are fortunate that there are a number of farmers in our area who sell meat.  There is also a local meat market that makes their own sausage.  My dad will soon be harvesting his steer, Waylon, so we will have plenty of beef when we move and get our freezer set up.  Local meat is incredibly important to us.  We want to eat meat from an animal that has lived it's life like an animal should - not like the animals in CAFO (confined animal feeding operations).  Sure, the meat in the supermarket is cheap.  But, do you know where it came from?  Can you talk to the farmer who raised the animal?  Are you aware of the practices of the farm where it was raised?  These are all things that matter to us.  We want to start raising our own meat animals when we move and get established.  We want to really appreciate where our food came from instead of trying to find the best deal in the supermarket on bulk meat.

Another area we are exploring is ways to have our farm make some profit.  We would ideally like for the farm to pay for the mortgage, at least through the summer months.  Ideally, this would be through some sort of niche thing we could find to market locally.  Perhaps fresh cut flowers, grains, or heirloom tomatoes.  We have so many ideas!

Another point to ponder...this was brought up by one of my favorite bloggers/authors, Deborah Nieman.  She and her family moved from Chicago to the country to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  They live on 32 acres and produce thousands of pounds of food - from vegetables and fruits to meat and milk from their animals.  They chose not to sell at Farmer's Markets but instead to become as self sufficient food wise as possible.  As she said in an interview I listened to recently, it's better to preserve your own food than to sell at the local market only to have to grocery shop at a store for 6 months out of the year.  How true. 

So, we need to balance our goals with reality.  Our goal - which will probably take 5-10 years to get to - is to produce most, if not all of our own food.  We want to have large heirloom vegetable gardens that give us fresh produce year round, as well as plenty to preserve.  We want to establish an heirloom orchard with varieties of apples and other fruits not commonly found in the supermarket.  We also hope to grow berries - blue, black, and strawberries.  We want to have free range chickens for delicious eggs.  We also want to raise meat birds for home raised chicken dinners.  We would like to have either a dairy cow or dairy goats to produce all of our own milk and cheese.  We would like to raise our own pigs for pork.  And Dan would like to have a successful vineyard to make our own wine.  It is incredibly ambitious, but we are passionate about growing our own food in our backyard and we will do what it takes to get there.  And we hope you will follow along on our journey.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Taking advantage of the view

We are so excited for the view that we have at the new house.  We have nothing the obstructs it, sans the towers from the nearby power plants which are pretty tiny in the distance.  The design of our house is passive solar, which means we are trying to harness the power of the sun to heat our home.  We have a 2 story concrete wall, which will be faced with brick.  The purpose of this wall is to retain thermal mass during the day, which will be released through the night.  This will hopefully eliminate the need for heat over the winter, other than supplemental heat from our woodstove.

The other feature of the house, which we both really love, is a lot of south facing glass.  This equals a LOT of windows on the south side of our house.  Our master bedroom especially has some nice large windows.  Today while we were out there, I was day dreaming of putting a window seat with built in bookcases in.  I could just imagine myself sipping hot tea while knitting or reading and enjoying the snow fall or sun shining outside.  Dan is on board with this, so now I just have to figure out how to make it all work in the room layout wise!  Does anyone have a window seat?


 It's starting to look like a real house!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Goals

Goals.  Resolutions.  Winning outcomes (fancy pants Weight Watchers term).  Hopes.  Dreams.

Our number one goal for the year is to finish our new house and move in!  We hope to move in by the end of May so that we don't have to renew our lease.  And well, spending time out at the new house constantly reaffirms to us that we are indeed doing the right thing :-)  Kole absolutely loves being out there.  And we have some pretty kick butt views from all of our windows!

All other goals pale in comparison to the first, really.  But, here goes:

-- Start a small garden. 
   I already ordered seed from Seed Savers Exchange.  I plan to utilize the lasagna gardening technique (ooohhh...I see a potential blog post!).  I had a list a mile long of seeds and garden ideas, but Dan reined me in a bit.  What we don't grow ourselves we hope to get at the Farmer's Market. 

-- Can and freeze as much as we can.
   Well, we have a walk in pantry, a root cellar, and plan to get another freezer for the basement.  While our eventual goal is to preserve most, if not all, of our food, we have to start somewhere.  I got some canning resources for Christmas and am already making lists of what I want to try.

-- Get some chickens.
   This will probably be a late summer project.  We would love to get some chicks, but for starters we might look into some pullets locally.  We could get chicks next year to start!

We have sooo many ideas for what we are going to do with the place when we get more established out there.  I hope to tell you all about them, but that is for another post. 

I should add in one more goal: start blogging more!  While this blog is to document our progress on the house, I want to develop my skills as a blogger.  I hope to start writing about all kinds of things.  Stay tuned - 2012 is going to be G R E A T!