Thursday, October 15, 2020

Weekend Homesteader Ideas, October-December

More than two years later...

This is a continuation of my review of my weekend homesteading ideas and goals inspired by The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess and her and her husband's blog, "The Walden Effect." I hadn't looked at this list (or the website) in five years when I went back to it in, uh, early 2018 to see if I'd accidentally achieved any of these goals. 

Now it's late 2020. So many things have changed, while still so many remain the same, which is how it goes. We've just been doing, without the show-and-tell. We're in our new (but old, 110-year-old) homestead. From the pandemic's stay-at-home guidelines have sprouted a resurgence of homesteading practices, or at least attempts to practice them—I was amused by someone's reference to their dearly departed sourdough starter when asked if they had any pets.

I don't know that our own habits have notably changed, but since it's October, now is the perfect time to finish reviewing that idea list, where we left off at October through December. My original notes are in italics.

Quick hoops - look into. The mini greenhouse we made out of a double papasan frame with just a heavy plastic sheet and some staples is akin to these cold-weather tunnels for growing vegetables, but I have not been that attentive to the garden to make good use of it or to merit an actual hoop setup. I'll file this away under possible future idea that may never happen.

Storing vegetables on the shelf - look into. I just recently was remembering our first plot in the community garden, when we grew nothing but vining plants. That winter, we did store a bunch of butternut squash in our living room bookshelves. However, since then, we haven't grown enough of our own winter vegetables or found such a great deal on them to merit stocking up and storing up for winter in this way. We're still feeling out our capabilities in our new yard, though, so it could be a potential future goal.

Scavenging biomass - horse poo? Well, we did find a friend with a horse, and we hauled a couple of trunkfulls of horse manure from the barn to our community garden plot. Only for two seasons, and then we stopped community gardening. We compost our own kitchen scraps, wood ash, fallen leaves, and vacuum contents (mostly pet fur). In our former home, I suppose you could call our raking and composting of leaves "scavenging," because the land technically belonged to the homeowners' association. We have also relieved our neighbors of their rotting jack-o'-lanterns for compost.

Apprenticeships - meh. We're not in college anymore. I rescind my "meh" here. Learning some skills hands-on would be fun. The idea of apprenticeship is that it's not a class you have to pay for, and it's not a job that pays you. I'm open to something resembling a temporary apprenticeship should an opportunity arise, but obviously, I'm not looking to grow a career from it.

Garden rotation - look into. I get the concept. I have not really had the garden space or commitment to putting the concept into practice. I'll reiterate that we're still exploring what we can (and want to) do with our space now, so I'll keep this on the goal shelf.

Roast a chicken - sure
. Done, done, and done a hundred more times. OK, maybe just dozens of times. And roast a turkey—done that. And used the carcass to make broth. And been teased about using the word "carcass."

Storing drinking water - hm. This is an emergency preparedness habit we have not yet adopted. I imagine us storing some jugs and forgetting about them, and then when the emergency happens, they're all old and gross. It needs to be an active rotation. While I continue to half-heartedly measure my interest level in such an effort, I'll keep in mind we have a water filtration kit among our camping supplies.

Diversify your income - hm. Considering that our moderate homesteading comprises more hobbies and money-saving lifestyle choices and not so much our livelihood, we aren't facing risks like "What if the chickens don't lay enough eggs?" Our uh-oh scenarios would be losing a job or facing a disastrous expense like major health or property issues. While some people are ambitious and enthusiastic about finding additional income streams via their hobbies, I don't quite like turning my hobbies into work. Instead, we'll save, save, save what we can from our day jobs and maybe look at alternative income sources as retirement supplement should we be so lucky to retire with our health and other assets intact.

Plant a fruit tree - hey, check! Yes! We planted those apple seeds, and they grew and grew and grew and produced their own apples. And then we moved. I took scions of our baby (not so baby anymore) trees, ordered dwarf rootstock, and tried grafting this spring. One of the four grafted trees remains, and I think it's dead. Sad. New goal: order some heirloom fruit trees such as a couple of apples for cidering (and eating) and a Queen Anne cherry tree like my grandma's.

Soup - um, sure. Make a delicious soup using in-season produce, check. Cold soups, hot soups, smooth soups, chunky soups. Check, check, check, check.

Essential tools - hm. While we haven't made a list of tools, we have slowly collected plenty over the years. Some new, some even found, many gifted hand-me-downs or bought used. And, with our recent move, we even culled our collection somewhat to the most-used, most-loved, and this-only-does-one-thing-once-a-year-but-it's-important. I'll expand this from lawn and home mainenace to include kitchen gadgets.

Stay warm without electricity - look into, even feasible in our situation? Further reading reveals that this is basically camping in your home. Can you stay warm and prepare food and do other essential activities if you lose power midwinter? The quick answer is, sure, for a short while. It's actually the preservation of the home in such a situation that is more concerning. Freezing pipes and all that. Two subgoals here for us: improving the energy efficiency of our new old house by repairing/restoring the original windows to their historical glory and replacing the storm windows with better ones that actually fit (next year?), and make a draft stopper for the interior front door (now). Some subgoals we've already achieved: Adding insulation to the attic, sealing gaps and cracks, improving the fit and weatherproofing of external doors.

And that's the list.

No comments:

Post a Comment