Thursday, July 10, 2008

Save Energy & $$

From Co-op America:
Here's how to save energy and money. Go for a big, but doable goal – 10% energy saved per year over the next five years – 50% in five years!
For the average household, 10% per year energy savings is only about 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of energy/year. Here's how doable that is:
Many families could achieve the first 1,000 kwh/year of savings by washing clothes in cold water (770 kwh/yr); placing several major electronics, such as video and stereo systems, on a surge protector that can be switched off (47kwh/year); and brushing of their refrigerator's condenser coils twice a year (392 kwh/year).
Many families could get another 1,000 kwh/year reduction by replacing half of their incandescent lighting with compact fluorescents (440kwh/year), letting the dishes in the dishwasher air dry (404kwh/year), and enabling the "sleep" function on their computer and printer to go on after five minutes of non-use (259kwh/year).
Here is a link to their site on Steps to Energy Efficiency:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I wish I were Beatrix Potter...

With food shortages and food recalls, with the housing market a bust yet somehow seeing so many people putting additions on already ridiculously large houses, with seeing sustainable & artisanal farmer's struggle to stay afloat then raise prices to where most people can't begin to dream of affording their delicious, Earth-Friendly goods ($40 for 2 lbs of cheese?!?!!), with this chicken fiasco looming over us, all I can think is: I wish I were Beatrix Potter.
I am quite sure that sounds silly to most anyone reading this, but it is what keeps rolling about in my head. Not that I want to write tales about bunnies (though that wouldn't be bad either), but it is what she did with her money that impresses me so. With the money she made from her books she bought farms. She saved farms from becoming real-estate. She made sure that they forever remained working farms. What would have become of the land over time if it weren't for her?
Everyone dreams of winning the lottery. Oh, the things they would do if only they had money of lottery-proportions! That is what I would do. I would buy farms and land and make sure they remain worked. I would give my friend Joann a farm to raise sheep on, and make sure that there was enough space and people to spin the wool into the wonderful quality yarn she knows would come from those sheep.
I would make sure the building received their power via solar-powered generators. We would use animals, along with the powers of our own bodies, to work the land rather than machines. We would raise not only heirloom fruits and veggies, but also heirloom breeds of animals.
I would make sure these farms could be multi-generational and perhaps even support mutiple families. There are so many jobs to do on a farm, why should anything be outsourced? Large farms that become mini-villages, self-sustaining throughought time.
This is my dream, my desire. I think I just saw Peter Cottontail heading straight for the garden.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sore, sick, and more news crews

Yuck, that's an awful title, but I just couldn't think of a better one. Sorry! Last Thursday I was quite suprised to see a news crew pull up in front of the house. Thought it was news 10 coming back, but nope - it was WSET/ABC 13. They were hoping for a nice, impromptu interview. I agreed, but damnit - I had on the t-shirt I had worn the day before (thankfully with no food spills on it!) and I was NOT wearing my good bra (you know the one - it keeps your girls up & looking perky, rather than looking like work-horse/milked-cow udders). Oh well. I thought I actually did a really good job with this interview. I made my points, remembered to include some important issues and so on. They took various shots of the hops, pumpkins, corn and herbs growing and then headed on their way. I wasn't shocked to hear that their next stop was City Hall & meeting with the Zoning Dept., but boy was I ever shocked to see them return and start trying to visit the neighbors!! I think that they only talked to a couple people who live across the street, but honestly, I don't know who all they talked to or what they were told by them. I really don't want to know (ok, part of me does) - I'd rather be a little ignorant here and be able to maintain a harmonious relationship with everyone rather than have sore feelings.
Mom arrived to get Shannon as they were leaving. I was getting ready to walk back into the house and get something for Mom when I tripped myself up and took a nasty little fall onto the front porch. Hit my knees pretty hard, as well as the top of my foot on the edge of the porch. Knees are as bruised as if I was earning my living in a not-so-respectable way. Along with my back where an old injury has re-inflamed, I'm a pretty sore mama these days! Who knew though that fall wouldn't be the biggest hurt suffered that day??
When I was able to see the tv report I honestly was humiliated and cried. They made it out to sound as if this was all about money, and that the reason I made our soap, shampoo, and bread was because we couldn't afford to buy it. Humiliation and sadness turned to anger and I posted a comment on their site. You can read it all here:
Thankfully, this isn't the main station people around here watch - but still. I did notice however that they quoted Chuck Aldridge (from zoning) as saying how people admit that the chickens aren't causing a problem via smell or noise, just that they don't personally like them. Well, I don't personally like how my house stinks like burnt food when the coffee shop two blocks away burns their beans, but it really is none of my business. Geez people!!
As if all this silliness and strife weren't enough the boys are in full mode. Tristan has cut his second two-year molar and the poor baby has been miserable. Snotty nose, fussy, diaper rash - he's got all of them. Shannon, of course, thinks he is sick as well and has been coughing for several days. This morning he was coughing pretty bad so I broke down and gave him some cough medicine. If anything hopefully it will make him take a nap!! I think the humidity has really gotten to them as well. We don't have AC here, just a window unit in the rooms where they sleep and nap. It usually is comfortable in the summer though, except when the humidity gets bad. And that is has been lately. So, by late afternoon we are all at each other's throats.
So, here's to the wishes of cooler weather and the lesson learned to always keep your good bra and a clean shirt handy for when the news wants to pop by!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

All the new news ...

Ok, well today has been quite a busy day around here! First, I went to City Hall to see Lisa Garst become the 3rd woman to serve on Salem City Council (YAY LISA!!!), and to see our newest mayor become elected. Congratualtions to our new Mayor, Randy Foley.
Then, at 11, channel 10 (WSLS) came out to interview me about our chickens, and how the current laws are in conflict with each other. I have to say, I felt that the piece ran a little on the negative side, but in all it was fairly good. The best thing though would be that within an hour of the piece airing on tv we had 8 more people sign our petition!!! YAY!!!! Here's to hoping THAT will continue! Here is a link for anyone who would like to check it out:
After this I invited Vickie Daulton over to see the chickens. Mrs. Daulton works on the Planning Commission in Salem and will be part of the board that 'yay' or 'nay's the decision to go before Council to allow chickens. We talked for about an hour. I tried to impress upon her, as I have other City Officials, that the current laws in the code dictate how chickens are to be kept. Currently they're worried that, while we may be responsible chicken owners, others will not and how to enforce that/what to do. I've told them they already have that in place. Perhaps I see it more simply than they do.
After this I talked with Melinda Payne who works with Planning Development in Salem. She said the current situation is that they don't know what to do, so for now, our chickens have been given a reprieve to cluck away happily. This is only mildly comforting.
Finally, we've had a slight set-back in our kwh usage & solar power commitment. Jomo, our newest puppy, is full of mischief and has COMPLETELY destroyed our solar-powered pump for our pond. Luckily, the pond came with an electric pump so we've been able to hook that up. The odd thing is that the solar pump didn't really have much of a filter on it and the water was full of algae; we knew we needed to do something, we just weren't sure what we could do cost-wise. I guess Jomo made the decision for us. When the pump was turned on the odor that began coming out of the pond was fairly foul, so we're hoping there aren't lots of dead fish in there. I suppose we'll see soon. Till then, I guess we will have to add "saving $$ for a new, improved & proper solar-pond pump & filter" to our list of things we need to be doing.