Applying Sustainability Principles
Mark checking a hive.
We try to live simply on our three acres and attempt to source food locally where possible. We maintain a closed loop nutrient system where kitchen scraps are fed to our flock of chickens, whose waste in turn we process into compost, which then is returned to the garden.
In 2013, we installed solar hot water panels for pre-heating our water. We also dry our clothes, including bed linens and towels, on a clothesline in the backyard whenever possible, which minimizes energy usage and gives the laundry a fresh, natural smell.
To further conserve energy we heat the house primarily with wood in the wintertime. The woodstove in the dining room is a favorite place to keep warm on a cold winter day.
Solar panels mounted on the garage pre-heat our water.
Bedsheets drying in the sun.
We let our chickens roam on grass during summer months, and along with the kitchen scraps, give them weeds pulled from the garden, and feed them organic grain. We obtain our grain through a barter with nearby Mint Creek Farm. We trade our honey, along with any extra eggs and drinking water for their many animals, to Mint Creek Farm for chicken feed and organic meat. In turn, Mint Creek Farm buys its grain as cleanings from nearby Janie's Mill, as their cleanings cannot be used in grain milling, but are perfectly acceptable as animal feed. To round the circle, we use flours from Janie's Mill in our baking.
On sunny winter days, the southern exposure sunroom captures substantial heat useful for warming the entire house.
In combination with solar gain from our sunroom, the catalyst-heated woodstove provides the majority of our winter warmth.
In 2022, after nearly 40 years splitting firewood by hand, Mark bought a log splitter for the job.
The wood chipper Mark uses to chip all the broken or trimmed branches that are too small for firewood.
Mulch pile from chipped branches and firewood bark. Chips are used to mulch flower beds and young trees.
Here in our sunroom are seed flats filled with onion starts that will be ready for transplant by May.
We braid and overwinter all the garlic we use throughout the year, along with onions and buckets of carrots, parsnips, beets, apples, potatoes, winter squash, and pears.
We dry apples and Asian pears and freeze a variety of vegetables including; eggplant, sweet corn, summer squash, broccoli, bitter melon, Brussels sprouts, and more.
Parsnip seeds almost ready for saving. We save some heirloom seed, such as; tomatoes, peppers, and winter squash,