Thursday, April 22, 2010

My (nearly) green home

Since this is Earth Day, I decided to show you some of the ways in my home in which I try to help our beloved Mother Earth. We only have one home and we have to do our best to keep her healthy.

(click to enlarge)

Starting at the top left and going clockwise:

  1. Our barn is built from recycled vintage barn wood. Now we can't take the credit for building it, but it was a primary reason for us choosing this house.
  2. I keep a roll of paper towels in my kitchen, but I rarely use them. I have stacks and stacks of these white cotton towels that I use instead.
  3. We raise some of our own food in the warmer months as many of you do. The older raised beds are built from a recycled wooden fence. We use horse and chicken manure and finished compost as fertilizer and we use organic methods to control pests whenever possible. The chickens are a great pest removal system, but they also like to  eat the veggies!
  4. I try to dry as much of my laundry as I can on the clothesline.
  5. A few of my reusable shopping bags, and I really do use them.
  6. Cardboard boxes that I'm getting ready to take to the recycling center, along with anything else that can be recycled. We don't have curbside recycling out here in the country, so it's up to each individual. My grandkids think I'm funny when I bring home yogurt and milk cups and other #1 plastic containers from fast food places. FYI, I do try to avoid those places, but sometimes it just happens. I'm not perfect.
  7. The rain barrel at the corner of the barn, donated by my father-in-law. We use the water to nourish the veggies in the garden. I hope soon to install one at the corner of the house for my flowers.
  8. My chickens recycle lots of vegetable and fruit scraps, even stale bread and spaghetti noodles. This watermelon was forgotten at the back of the fridge and got a little too soft. The hens don't care about that! They especially love a cold one on a hot summer day! (And I don't mean beer!)
  9. The items that my chickens can't eat go into the compost heap in the corner of the veggie garden. I include coffee grounds with the unbleached paper filters and tea bags, too. This little composting bucket sits right beside my sink.
  10. We only use cloth napkins. I made a bunch of these (some of them are fifteen years old) and I also buy them at thrift stores when I can find them.
These are but a few of the many things that I do in my home, and outside, to help preserve our precious gift. Do you love our Mother Earth as I do?

This is a slightly expanded post of one that I did at Lens.Us.Together for Earth Day.
For my blogger friends who have already commented on LUT, you don't have to comment here, unless you really, really, really want to! ;-)


California Girl said...

Helpful list and thoughtful commentary for Earth Day. Very inspiring.

How do you keep predators away from the chickens? I would love to have them but we're on a busy road. Dad raised Bantys when I was growing up but we had a big yard in So Cal and no predators except our Airedale. She liked to chase them. I wanted them in our home up on the mtn, the one we sold in Dec. but we had every kind of predator there: fox, hawks, bobcat, weasels. Are yours fenced in a chicken coop or what?

Wanda said...

I really like your little composting bucket, I need one like that! These are all things we do as well, although along with the cloth napkins and towels I do have paper napkins and 'select a size' paper towels, but a roll lasts me 2weeks or more. We do try to conserve and live green.

The Bumbles said...

I like your rain bucket. I think I'm gonna have Andy get a few of those for our yard. Our yard is so long that the hose doesn't stretch all the way to the back where we have our veg. garden so carting a watering can or connecting up the uber long hoses is a pain in the neck. If we had a few of those rain buckets around not only would it make life easier, but it would make Mother Earth happier.

We haven't ventured into composting yet although my parents do. We have the perfect environment for it. Our town dump even has a composting station for those who can't or don't have the time to do it themselves.

Our biggest contribution is to recycle, recycle, recycle. We have more recycling that trash most weeks.

alaine@éclectique said...

I'm a recycler too, Susan but how to educate my husband? I quite often find plastic in the recycle bin and have to dive into it or tip it out! It's nearly as tall as I am! They collect every fortnight here.

JackeeG4glamorous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I think we are almost the same alike are we in everyday things...minus the chickens.

I recycle, I use cloth rags instead of paper towels, I use and have used only cloth napkins, I'm constantly re-purposing all kinds of paper products. I used to compost, but in a sub-division with little back yard it's hard. My old compost caught fire once. What fun!

Tattered and Lost said...

Okay, at first I took a glance at the photos and saw the chickens and thought "Whoa! She's got her chickens playing soccer! Cool!" and then I realized what was going on. But for just a moment I flashed back to the farm show I went to as a child in Pennsylvania where they had a chicken in a box that played a toy piano. I'm just sayin'...teach those chickens to actually play soccer and you could be on the summer fair circuit.

Char said...

very cool! love the chickens and using the cloth towels - i do that too.

Susan said...

Cali Girl, so far we haven't had too much trouble with predators. We had a couple of near-misses with hawks, and of course the recent almost-encounter with the fox, who seems to have moved on. Our backyard is completely fenced, including three sides of the barn which houses the chicken coop. There's also an enclosed run for them outside the coop. There's also a lot of bushes and low fir trees that they can hide under. They can usually see the shadow of any hawks that fly over, and they hide pretty quickly.

Susan said...

Wanda, I found that sweet little bucket at Cost Plus/World Market after I wore out the other painted one I had. This one should be more durable since it's stainless steel. It has holes in the lid and a charcoal filter inside it as well. They probably sell it online.

Susan said...

Molly, I've noticed a lot more people using rain barrels recently. They're selling them at all the Home Depots and Lowe's, etc. Most of those are 55 gal. I think this one holds 80 gallons. I still have to carry the water in a pail, but not as far. When we don't get any rain for a while, we still have to run hoses from the house. Our compost is pretty rudimentary...we just throw it in a corner of the garden. Most people do it the right way..we're too lazy. :)

Susan said...

Alaine, every time I go to my daughter's house, I'm always digging stuff out of the garbage to put in the recycle bin. They just roll their eyes at me!

Susan said...

"Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters...."

Sister Jackee, I think you're right! In fact, you're even better than me at the rag using!

Now that's something I've never seen....a compost fire! That was some hot stuff in there!

Susan said...

Tattered, OMG, if only I had thought to get the soccer ball that is lying in the yard and substitute it for the watermelon! Soccer-playing chickens, indeed! LOL, ROFL, LMAO!!! Summer fair circuit, here we come!!

Susan said...

Char, that's great! Every thing we can do helps! Aren't my chickies pretty?!!

Tattered and Lost said...

Okay, as your agent...I get a 10% cut off the top of all those fair chicken soccer matches. No, not off the top of the chickens.

Susan said...

Tattered, you're as crazy as I am! LOL

And we could just feed them corn dogs and elephant ears!!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Great ideas.

Your chickens are cute. Which one is the goalie?

So many of these ideas are about going back to a time when everything wasn't disposable. It feels good to do the right thing, doesn't it.

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

I love your idea about the cotton towels instead of paper towels; I think I'll adopt that one myself.

And I love your rain barrel and all the chickens.

Susan said...

Thank you, Bella!

The goalee would be the one on the left, Little Feather!

You're so right! I've always said our mothers and grandmothers could teach us a thing or two about recycling....they invented it! Remember "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without"? We all need to get closer to that old saying.

Susan said...

Thanks, Sandy!

Learning to do without paper towels and napkins is an easy transition. It's a good start.

ds said...

Oh, it is so much easier to be green where you are than here in the 'burbs (but we do have curbside recycling pickup--Hallelujah!). I am still working on getting Mr. L-S to realize that cardboard recycles, and I covet your countertop composter...laundry on the line is a childhood memory (it's FUN to run through drying sheets)as it is not possible here. Sigh.

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Yeah, the compost fire was awesome. After that my teeaged (at the time) son loved the compost pile, like a bad science experiment. I couldn't even use all the wonderful compost I cultivated - my yard was so small. I got a huge nest of burrowing yellow jackets or some type of stinging Huge furry striped bee. We gave it up. I need to live on your acreage. Pleeeese.

Oliag said...

Love this Susan...I think I am pretty green in our house until I see how much you do...I do use cloth napkins,towels,and shopping bags, I compost, I dry at least some of our laundry outside, I recycle, but chickens are still out of my realm and my vegetable garden has been negligible the past few years....I think our yard has gotten too shady...

...Wonderful post and wonderful photo collage:)

Susan said...

ds, yes, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in the 'burbs. I've done my time there for the kids, but I won't be going back...too many restrictions. I was born a country girl and I'll die one, if I have any say in the matter. I know a lot of people don't have that choice and I am very fortunate to have what I have.

It just kills me when I see people with lots of boxes piled up by their bins on trash day! I'm sooooo tempted to stop and load it up in my van! I'm a trash-picker, too! If I see something sitting out there that can be repurposed, I'm all over it like white on rice. I've gotten some pretty good stuff, actually.

Another memory of childhood to go along with running through the sheets is making a tent over the clothesline. We loved doing that when we were kids!

Susan said...

LOL, Jackee!! I would like to have seen your son out there studying that compost heap!

Oooh, I hate yellow jackets! They are so vicious and attack without seeming provocation. We get them every fall and it's the one incidence in which I'll let the hubby use spray...I'm so afraid they will swarm the grandkids. They do make their nests in the ground and you never know they're there until you're right on them. I'm sure there must be a reason for them, but I'm not an appreciator!

You're not that far away! There's an open invitation just waiting for you and all my blogger friends!

Susan said...

Oliag, it sounds to me like you do a lot to conserve the Earth's resources, and we can only do what we can do. Shade is a huge problem in our yard, too. We have to take out a couple more trees this year. Believe me, there will be plenty left! The leaf situation here in the fall is astounding!

You might be surprised that it would be easier for you to have a few chickens than you think. Cindy at Portland Peeps lives in the city and has backyard chickens. Lots of city people have them. You just have to check your local ordinances. Most cities allow a few if they're well-housed and take care of properly. They don't usually allow roosters though, but I had to get rid of mine and I live in the country. He was starting to flog the little ones, and I couldn't take that chance. If you're really interested, you should check into it. I do it as much for knowing that my hens are humanely treated as I do because the eggs are far superior than any you can buy in a store.

Cora said...

I love it Susan...I want your chickens!! And your cats!! :)

Susan said...

Cora, I have plenty to share!! ;-}

gemma said...

I love your collage of pictures and heart warming post. We all need to do more about taking care of our earth home.

Ruth said...

Susie! I gasped when I opened your post, very late - already 3 days old!! Me so slowww.

It's gorgeous, this post, I just LOVE your collage, especially knowing what it all represents. You are inspiring and a great model. Living in the country without recyclables pickup is a pain, I have to drive 30 minutes in either direction to take it somewhere. Bleh. But it's worth it. I love using cloth napkins, and I'll never go back to paper. When people come for a visit they always feel bad to use them. We reuse them for a few days before laundering. I am trying to stick to just cold water for the laundry, but I still have it in my head that warm will get them cleaner.

Two things I haven't done yet is get the unbleached coffee filters, thank you, and the bar towels, thank you again. We did stop the paper towels. We don't have a rain barrel yet, but Don keeps talking about it.

Sometimes I have gotten a little annoyed that I seem to do more than anyone else in the house to clean out the cans and bottles, take the labels off, and get them to the tub in the laundry room for them. But I think the others are getting better. We just have to stick to it, right?

Susan said...

Thank you, Gemma, I'm glad you enjoyed it! If only I could convince some of my extended family of that notion!

Susan said...

My dear Ruthie, you are never too late to the game! Thank you for your kind words.

That would be a pain to have so far to drive for recycling. Luckily, ours is only 15 minutes and I usually combine other errands with it. It makes me happy that you're committed to doing it.

Guests always think that I'm "puttin' on the dog" when I put out the cloth napkins, and I suppose I do, because I get out the better ones, but I always explain my purpose. They're usually impressed, but I doubt that it changes anything in their homes.

I'm the same way when it comes to laundry. I try to use mostly cold water, but I still use warm for the whites and lights.

Trader Joe's has the coffee filters reasonably priced. I've tried to use the gold filter that came with my coffee maker, but I just can't stand the sludge in the bottom of my cup. Don should check out rain barrels on Craigslist. I've heard that you can get 55-gal. drums to convert fairly cheaply on there. The commercial ones are pretty expensive. We were lucky that my FIL had this one stored in his garage.

Stick-to-itiveness! That's our forte'. If you do that long enough, then it becomes a habit that you wouldn't think of breaking! You're doing a great job!

dutchbaby said...

We are co-fanatics. I practice 6 out of 10 habits on your list, probably would have been more if I was allowed chickens on our property. My sink-side compost bin looks very similar to yours. I recently bought a box of biodegradable compost liners at Costco. I love them because it makes cleanup a snap.

I admire your dedication in driving to your recycling center. Our trash company picks up all 1 through 6 recyclables from our curbside. Lucky us.

I love this post, Susan! Keep spreading the word - you are a great role model!

Cindy said...

Love this post! Your photos are beautiful! I can almost smell that spring air. That compost bucket is too cute... I need one of those. Can I come live in your barn?

Susan said...

dutchbaby, I would be over the moon if our RC took plastic up to 6!!! Currently they only take ones and twos. :-{ I'm gonna have to get up to Costco and get some of those liners...that sounds ideal. I hate cleaning out the gunk at the bottom, especially if it's been on the counter for a few days. Bleh.

Thank you, fellow fanatic!

Susan said...

Thanks, Cindyfellowchickencomposter! Well, I know you don't compost the chickens! Oh, never mind!

I got that bucket at CostPlus/World Market, possibly my second favorite store in the world! Saturday I was in Marshall's and found one almost exactly like it for about half what I paid for mine! Wouldn't ya know?

You can come live in my barn if you want, but it might get a little uncomfortable with the mice nibbling at your toes in the middle of the night! I think you would like it better in the house! ;-}

Anonymous said...

Love this post! Very inspiring. We don't have the room for a compost, but last fall I did buy a composter and so far it really has not worked :(

jeannette said...

Came from another blog -to read all the comments about your 100-cake was too funny (that's not gushing, is it?)
Love to recycle, and most of the food I buy is organic,'s hard to go totally green when living in the midst of cities (Los Angeles), close to a well known big mall! I have only a deck for plants and no yard. I still manage to air dry my clothes.