New milk stand with recycled materials: reused 1x4s, old metal base from the basement’s concrete washtubs, and our daughter’s old table’s top. It is wider than it needs to be: I intend to sit on it to milk her. “Scootch over, sister!”
I got an interesting technology request the other day from a reader.
She’s trying to do more things herself, whether it’s growing or preserving or just looking at lifestyle choices. Considering that many people reading this blog are on a similar path, I must mention that where she is making this quest is a little different: it’s in a now-peaceful, war-ravaged country, and she’s not completely at home in the language. She doesn’t have the liberty of being able to choose which big-box store to shop in for her greenhouse plastic or her canning jars or gardening equipment. She can’t just go to the local library to read up on these things. And simply ordering goods over the internet is not exactly something one can do in a not-fully-operational state. Even considering her circumstances, though, there are many parallels we can draw to our own quests: sometimes it’s money that’s the limit, sometimes it’s time, sometimes, it’s know-how. But always, we should consider what’s appropriate.
The great equalizer, thankfully, is the internet! So much information found “out there,” some of dubious value certainly, but if you have your own bullsh*t-o-meter pretty highly tuned, you can find some gems. What I recommended to her is that she’s got the great good fortune to be living in an area that’s not as cold as Michigan (!) so there is a lot open to her, greenery-wise. You don’t need a lot of technology to grow your own food: a hoe, a shovel, maybe a garden fork and a decent hand tool can be found in any corner of the globe. Seeds are cheap. And compost happens everywhere….even north of the arctic circle.
So grow more of your own, and try to grow it year-round. Build your own cold frame or greenhouse to extend the season. Use scraps! There’s no shame at all in recycling; you’re making a better environmental choice by reusing what you can find. My first cold frame was a transparent plastic sweater box, frankly, the first winter I lived here: that’s where I sprouted my first salads and hardened off my tomato plants. And you don’t need to can things if you can try to figure out a way of growing year-round. Swear off tomatoes for half a year if you have no way of preserving them, but…drying the small ones is something most people can do in their ovens or on the roofs of their buildings in the summer sun. Pickling, lacto-fermenting, and salt-curing are other methods of preserving one’s harvest. As is a root cellar: that could simply be a box in your basement or garage, it doesn’t need to be a proper cellar.
I think so much of this…whatever it is I am doing (homesteading? DIY?) is simply a mindshift. I could not duplicate what I was eating before, so I switched our diet. (I can no longer walk to get sushi, for example, or a cappuccino, or that delivered-to-my-door CSA, or get Thai food delivered; but I can get fresh eggs and fruit and garden produce.) It’s not the same; it’s different. And it takes longer, and I have less time. (I am a parent now too so I’m dividing that time pie into pretty thin slices, come to think of it.) But I am far happier for learning these new skills, for choosing to live this life, financial challenges, failed harvests, blisters and all.
Here’s a few sources of decent information:
- Organic Gardening
- Vegetable Growing Guide from Cornell University
- Mother Earth News
- Backwoods Home’s articles by Jackie Clay
The only thing I had to buy was the hook and eye to keep the head gate locked. This was her maiden voyage so I hadn’t set the eye yet. Appropriate technology: no milking machine, just me and a bucket and a milk stand. Oh and a goat!