Now recently I was asked what my stance on being ‘green’ was as I do -want- to have a green homestead. I thought about what this person had asked me and I gave them a simple answer. I believe in the ideals of a ‘green’ lifestyle and keeping the world ‘green’, however I live in the real world. The full explanation there is semi involved.
Garbage.. the Big “G” word. Garbage is an issue no matter where you live, a homestead is no different. No matter how you live you have to deal with some garbage and trash on a daily basis. I -unfortunately- have a trash pile, which I do plan of “taking care of” eventually. I have burned trash, it tends to lower the amount of solid trash you need to do ‘something’ with down to an easier level. Modern day gives us so many things that require disposal of some point/kind. Not every place has recycling either and if there is a place that offers it you have to look at the cost to you in gas/petrol to get to and from the facility. I firmly believe people should have to personally find ways to deal with their own trash issues as, until you have to for a period of time; you have no idea how much of it you generate.
Building, … hmmm there are many ‘green’ building methods out there but let us analyse a couple of them for a minute. Cordwood is a wonderful building method and is purported as a ‘green’ building method. Well, -if- you have softwoods growing on your property and don’t mind doing some clear cutting for the most part it can be. Otherwise you need to figure out the carbon footprint of getting the wood for the construction of that home/shed/whatever. Then you have what you need yo seal the log ends so they won’t rot over time. Oh yes, then the roofing materials and all those windows you want on your house. After a while the carbon cost is up there (not to mention the cost in money to you). Strawbale houses, again a ‘green’ method, but unless you have acres of straw growing on your property and you are baling it by hand after cutting and drying it; figure the fuel cost there. You also have to cover the straw bales as well after the fact to keep them from rotting away. Then if you aren’t growing the straw yourself you have to have it trucked in. So the cost in carbon is still kinda high. If you want a low carbon cost house build one out of cob, cob you have made totally on your own property. I am personally going to be building concrete dome houses here as we live in a tornado zone and near the New Madrid fault line, so I need to think about both of those factors in a permanent building.
Free Ranging Chickens…, ok I can see why this is such a ‘green’ method. However, for me it has issues big time. The one time I tried free ranging chickens they ate my garden to the ground and what they did not eat they trampled. I have less damage from deer grazing through my garden and I don’t wish to box my garden in when it’s easier for me and my disabled partner to get in and out of the garden without a boxed fence around it (‘boxed’ as chickens can/do fly). So I give my chickens a large yard and all the food either in grain ration or cut greens/bugs/table scraps they can eat and I get eggs from very happy birds.
Now for me ‘green’ principles are extremely hard to do when you are low income and pretty much have a small amount in that income to purchase they things you need to take care of your day to day life. We are low income and my partner is disabled ( former military and federal) we get money once a month to cover all bills and what we do need to buy and what we can buy extra for around here. (btw for the one person who once said I needed to get a ‘real’ job and stop playing. I spend my day caring for my disabled partner and taking care of our homestead doing 90% of the work here) We have learned a while ago that while we like the “idea” of living green we have to determine which is more necessary. Sometimes not being ‘green’ wins out due to the cost in it verses what we need to have for us or the kids here.
Maybe one of these days I will be able to be as ‘green’ as I’d like to be, but till then I look for the balance I can work with. We eat as much food we grow ourselves as we can. I compost or feed to the chickens as much of our ‘leftovers’.. or paper too; that we can do. The rest is tossed onto the pile. We reduce the amount of lighting we use to a lot of the cheapy solar garden lights except where we need “full light” for a job. We cut all our own firewood, and eventually we are converting to rocket mass heaters.
So for now that is it, I hope this helps people understand me a bit more.
Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be…