Happy Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day to all. Usually I like to do something to celebrate Earth Day. It seems a very educational thing for us homeschoolers to do. In the past we have organized trash pick up parties with friends and neighbor kids, this year we are alone. And there is no trash.
This year we will be planting lettuce, so that in 30-40 days we will be able to forgo purchasing lettuce that was grown in uni-crop fashion and shipped from who knows where. It’s a pretty small contribution, really. What I have learned to be very true, is that what’s good for me, is good for the Earth. So anywhere I can make, even a minute difference, is still a difference. As a mother, I believe that the greatest gift I give to the planet is by sharing these experiences with my children. My prayer is that they will be inspired to make greater changes.
I have many Earth friendly projects going right now. First is my super strange passion for composting. Don’t ask where this came from, but it has me fascinated. We fill a large mixing bowl of fruit and veggie scraps and egg shells to add to the pile every other day. That is a lot of waste not going into plastic garbage bags headed for the landfill. AND I will be using that compost to grow next year’s lettuce (and beets, beans, peas, squash, cauliflower and tomatoes, and hopefully asparagus). I now get to add chicken and cow waste as well, which is even more exciting. Did you know you can even add dryer lint to your compost? As soon as we get our rain barrels set up I will also be making compost tea, which is rumored to be the ideal addition to the garden. You gather some compost in muslin and tie it off to “steep” in the rain barrel. After a period of steeping you can use the tea, diluted 50/50 with water, to shower the garden with growing power. I can’t wait!! On to water, we use a lot of water. Animals need it, people need it, gardens need it. I have been talking a lot about water conservation with my family. If the sink is running, my goal is to have something catching the leftover. Because down stairs we have no water source, the extra water I collect goes down to water the chicks. It also waters the dog and is used for soaking dishes if they don’t get rinsed right away. My plan is to get a bucket and put it into the shower so when the water is heating up, I can be collecting water for use wherever it’s needed. Water is something that we really take for granted. It is also essential to our survival. Practicing water conservation is practicing being conscious of what we have and being considerate and grateful. It helps me to learn compassion for others who are not as fortunate to have clean water coming from a faucet.
I do have a couple hangups, one is plastic zip lock bags, the other, grocery bags (guaranteed I have many more). Imagine me hanging my head in shame. I have a serious problem remembering to bring the reusable grocery bags. Sure, I could buy 8 $0.99 bags each time and then I would have a collection of…about 80,000 reusable bags. I have not done this, I don’t see the point. What I can do as I am standing in line, realizing that I forgot the baaaagggssss aaggaaaiiinnn, is ask for paper AND when I need to clean out my chick habitat (doesn’t it sound so much better to say habitat?) I put all of the waste into paper bags and then COMPOST THE WHOLE BAG. YAY! So, it makes up a bit for habitually forgetting the reusable bags. I have not given up on myself and I am starting to remember them sometimes. It’s all we can really ask for, isn’t it?? Oh, and the zip locks, I kind of wish I hadn’t brought that up. They’re just so darn easy. I would very much like to significantly cut down our plastics exposure and I would rather not add more plastic to my garbage can, but it’s a tough thing to give up. I like the wax paper sandwich bags, but they’re not the same. I have lofty aspirations of cleaning out the bags and reusing them…but, that seems to be for another day. We live in a world, here in the United States, of convenience. It’s very true that convenience, “if it’s easy for me”, is king. I do understand how we got here. Our grandparents, great grandparents, and before worked for EVERYTHING, hard, back breaking work. They also worked very hard to create conveniences for us. Many of which I am very grateful for. But if everything is so easy, like packing lunches in zip lock bags, then why are we so unsatisfied? Ok, this just took a turn, sometimes essays just write themselves, you know.

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The moral of the story is there are important ways we can care for the gift we have been given, this temporary human habitat, the Earth (it is pretty fabulous, after all). Caring for it teaches us to CARE. We can all do better and we can all be proud of the ways in which we make steady progress towards working with the place we live instead of against it.
Tell me, how do you all celebrate Earth Day??

P.S. I had a lot of trouble using the correct “there” today, all of you grammar police, please forgive any mistakes I missed. 🙂

Jump and the Net Will Appear

“Jump and the net will appear” is the title of a chapter of a book that I read about a year and a half ago, The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living by Wendy Jehanara Tremayne. It pretty much catapulted me into my current lifestyle. It helped give me the courage to jump. That’s pretty much what I have been doing the last 18 months, a lot of jumping.

I have also learned that it’s true what they say. If you want something, speak it into existence. I spoke something into existence by accident. Alpacas. About 10 years ago, when my first two kids were very little, I came up with the idea that if we could just be alpaca farmers, everything would be alright. If you’re at all familiar with the fog of parenting new babies + toddlers, you may understand. Or any kind of parenting, really. Or sometimes just living. Well, anyway, somewhere I came up with this alpaca farming idea and so for 10 years I talked about it. And for about 9 of those, my husband thought I was down right crazy and my friends smiled politely, but I guess I just kept speaking this wild idea into existence, because, guess what???? I am now the proud owner of 3 lovely alpacas.

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Loki and her mom Lily. These two are inseparable and I can’t wait to look out my window and see them everyday.

 

The current joke now is “be careful that you actually want what you say you want, because it’s going to happen if you keep talking about it”.  I would also recommend doing a bit of actual research while doing the “speaking”. Of course a series of fortunate (pretending very hard to be unfortunate) events occurred in the 10 years. Also, my husband came around to my way of thinking….that following your heart will lead you to…following your heart. And it doesn’t mean all rainbows and lollipops are in store, but it means that your heart and your head can be one.

So as we were talking about what the next chapter in our lives entailed, we decided that it meant some jumping was in order and that alpacas had to be on the list. Truth is, I kind of tried to back out of the alpaca thing, shyly and selflessly attempting to give up my dream and you-know-who wouldn’t have it. He said “OH, NO, you’re getting alpacas. “We” (suddenly we) haven’t been talking about this for 10 years to wait. You’re getting your alpacas.” Plus they cost less to feed than a dog, or that’s the what the brochure says.

Here we are. Three alpacas richer. Our hearts beating with the energy of jumping. Will we have just the three as pets? Shearing them and spinning their fiber once a year? Will they support us one day as we develop an actual farm, breeding for high quality fiber and showing? Will people come from all over to visit my therapy alpacas, breathing deeply as they hum their calming greeting? Oh, I don’t know, but isn’t it exciting to know that when traveling the direction you need to, the net…appears. Because when the heart says “jump”, it’s time to jump.

Annabelle Rose

Annabelle Rose