It’s been one year since I installed WordPress on the HighlyUncivilized domain and started to chronicle some of our projects and lifestyle changes. We kicked off the year by following the No Impact Week program, and made a commitment to keep that discipline in other projects. On one hand I’d say the year flew by, but on the other hand, when I look at everything I’ve done at work, with my family, at home, and on this project – it has been a totally packed year. Maybe that’s why I need a nap?
Inspired by Dog Island Farm’s “A year without groceries” project, we have been weighing our yarden produce and saving our seeds. This summer we brought in a meager 117 pounds of produce, but at one point during the year, organic heirloom tomatoes were as high as $5.00 per pound at Whole Foods. If we measured our savings in tomatoes, the high water mark would be $585, less our $80 investment in plants. I’m guessing we actually saved about $350 – not bad for year one, but plenty of potential left. Our garden included, tomatoes, hot peppers, green peppers, pineapple guava, blood oranges, lemons, cucumbers, yellow squash, kale, parsley, basil, sage, thyme, green beans, oregano, miniature peaches, figs, sow thistle, dandelion, lettuce, aloe, celery, and celery root. This spring I’m planning to use the saved seeds and the Soil Cube Tool we got from Clayton to get plants earlier, that have less transplant shock, and are free.
Doing more with less, and doing less with less.
After becoming a regular reader of Minimalist Packrat, we gained a renewed interest in “minimalizing” our life. I have written several articles about giving, gifting, freecycling, and reusing as I learn to unclutter and live with less. The funny thing to me is that under these layers of stuff were several really important parts of my life that I had been ignoring, health, exercise, reading and research, and music. I have less “stuff” than many people I know, but I think that if I got rid of half of what’s left, I’d still have more than enough things to keep me busy for a lifetime.
I regularly carpool at least two days a week. I’m cheating a little bit here, because my youngest son got a part time job at the same place I work, and we drive together on his work days. I also carpool with a co-worker, and still enjoy a couple of days a month of working from home. I drive 28 miles roundtrip to work, so these changes impact over 4,000 miles a year.
With a focus on our health
We started cooking again, and “uncooking” raw, vegan meals. We try to eat raw several times a week, because it’s healthy, it’s tasty, and it gives us an excuse to spend some time together doing something fun. We also go to our local Farmer’s Market almost every Sunday and buy as much of our week’s produce as we can from local farmers. This includes switching to raw milk, including for our kefir, and supporting our local raw dairy. In addition to kefir, we regularly make sauerkraut, kombucha, apple wine and beer, all organic. This food is made and stored in a wide array of bottles and containers we have saved from the landfill, and been given by neighbors, adding quite a variety of microbiology to our gut. I started doing some deep-dive research into health and nutrition, more unlearning than learning, and will be posting on that here.
And yes, STILL working on the house
My buddy Tim worked with my wife to surprise me for my birthday, and put in the rest of the shrubs and trees around the house while I was out of town. We added three Crepe Myrtle trees on the side of the house that gets all the sun. During the winter the leaves have dropped and allow full light on the windows. Between the trees and shrubs the house will have more shade to keep it cool, and the ground cover in the beds will have shade to conserve water. Lynn planted a wide variety of drought resistant plants on the sunny side, including another Lavender that we’ll use for ice cream. I’ve started adding -secret- edible garden plants to the front yard. A beautiful green vine covering the ground by the side path is actually a bed of sweet potatoes. We put seed down for a ground cover version of Thyme, added some Society Garlic under the Myrtles, and planted Elephant Garlic near some Agapanthus that neighbor Jim gifted us from his yard.
After many delays, the raised beds were converted to Hugelkultur, removing some of the successful Worm Towers, which will be reused somewhere else in the yard. We also used a bunch of free pavers and crushed rock to create a pseudo patio area for the trash cans, allowing me to take them out of the garage and create more work area, and adding a stable base for the 250 gallon water container. This is for the much ballyhooed Atmospheric Water Generator project, and yes I will start on this again soon. I have two compost bins going full force, a compost pile, and a giant worm bin.
Uncivilization is the new civilization
The more I pursue uncivilization, the more I realize it’s the civilization I was looking for this whole time. For the last year we’ve ramped up our uncivilized efforts to incorporate more of what we learned in No Impact Week 2011, and from the Zen Jedi Masters of Permaculture, Granny Tech, and SustainHillbillity. I thank them for doing what they’re doing, so that people like me can do it too. I am humbled that in our first year, tens of thousands of people have read our articles, watched our videos and talked to us on email, our website, and Facebook. I’m sure most of you arrived by accident, but thanks for staying. I’ve really learned that when I share what I know, even as a beginner, the more I get to learn. Also, thanks to Greg at Pageaccess for making me a logo that doesn’t look like two pieces of clip art stuck together, which is how I made the last logo.
Iconically speaking, 2011 should have gotten pepper sprayed, or taken an arrow to the knee.
There were a lot of things in 2011 that really sucked for me personally – hard life things, and some are ongoing. I have learned that during rough spots in life I get a chance to refocus on what is really important to me, and what my real priorities are, spiritually, emotionally, physically. I hope I can carry that forward without the challenges it took to remind me of that, and I’m definitely happy to say goodbye to 2011.
I’m looking forward to learning more with you and from you in 2012.
May the new year bring you much health and prosperity that you can share with others.