Comments on: Tell Me Your Adapting-In-Place Story http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Wed, 05 Aug 2009 16:21:22 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: Emily http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23318 Emily Tue, 04 Aug 2009 14:06:57 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23318 My husband and I currently are still employed full-time (thankfully!), so we're investing in infrastructure instead of stocks or even regular savings. Each year, we update some part of the house infrastructure: roof insulation, defunct fireplace-->fireplace insert, new well with both electric and hand pumps, wall insulation. I've taken up canning and expanded the garden, but you've heard a hundred stories like that. My husband has taken an interest in pickling; it appeals to his lab-science background, I think. ;) Finally, I've started a group called Preserving Traditions (http://preservingtraditions.org/) that operates out of the Grange to teach canning, pickling, and other kinds of cooking and preserving. We source ingredients and equipment locally, and it's all volunteer-run. We often start meetings by having people gather in groups by geography (west side, downtown, east side) and get to know their neighbors. In addition to classes, we do work days where we just get a bunch of ingredients and process them together on shared equipment. In our fist session, we did 71 jars of jam! Salsa's next...we're aiming for six gallons. :) If anyone would like to start a branch of Preserving Traditions in their area, let me know. I'm happy to help folks figure out how to make this happen in their areas. My husband and I currently are still employed full-time (thankfully!), so we’re investing in infrastructure instead of stocks or even regular savings. Each year, we update some part of the house infrastructure: roof insulation, defunct fireplace–>fireplace insert, new well with both electric and hand pumps, wall insulation.

I’ve taken up canning and expanded the garden, but you’ve heard a hundred stories like that. My husband has taken an interest in pickling; it appeals to his lab-science background, I think. ;)

Finally, I’ve started a group called Preserving Traditions (http://preservingtraditions.org/) that operates out of the Grange to teach canning, pickling, and other kinds of cooking and preserving. We source ingredients and equipment locally, and it’s all volunteer-run. We often start meetings by having people gather in groups by geography (west side, downtown, east side) and get to know their neighbors. In addition to classes, we do work days where we just get a bunch of ingredients and process them together on shared equipment. In our fist session, we did 71 jars of jam! Salsa’s next…we’re aiming for six gallons. :)

If anyone would like to start a branch of Preserving Traditions in their area, let me know. I’m happy to help folks figure out how to make this happen in their areas.

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By: Chile http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23269 Chile Mon, 03 Aug 2009 20:04:24 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23269 As you know, much of what we're doing is already up on my blog. As you will read here, we are doing a lot already but getting our own place will allow us to really step up our efforts. As I see it, our biggest hurdles are heat, water, and food. Almost everything we do boils down to dealing with those things in one way or another. Transportation: We have bikes for transportation and the capacity to carry cargo on the bikes using panniers, a trailer, or our Xtracycle bags. To enable me to use pedal power during the very hot summer months, we added an electric assist motor to my cargo (Xtracycle) bike. We hope to get a solar panel to charge the battery on it at some point. During the cooler months, we bike or walk many places. Being centrally located makes access to services and businesses easy. We do have a vehicle, not the most fuel-efficient one either. Careful planning of errands and gentle driving optimize its use. Keeping stocked up on food and supplies minimizes the need for last minute errands. Temperature control in house: We are renters and therefore have not retrofitted this house beyond weatherstripping and foil-backed insulation pressed into some windows in the summer. Keeping window coverings closed during summer days and winter nights helps with indoor temperatures. We maintain the furnace and evaporative cooler for best performance, and employ clothing strategies to help maintain comfort (cover up in winter, strip down in summer). Once we buy our own place, we will go far beyond these efforts as we can afford it: more insulation, double-paned windows, window quilts, and shutters perhaps. Cooking outside helps keep summer temperatures inside more comfortable. Currently this is done with two solar ovens used several times per week. In our own place, we'll add a rocket stove and cob oven to the outdoor cooking facilities, as well as an exterior outlet for appliances such as the rice cooker and electric grill. We hope to find a smaller house, too, to minimize utility costs. Utility use: we switched from many electric appliances and tools to manual ones. My husband sold many of his power tools and replaced them with hand tools. I use less electric appliances in the kitchen. On the wish list is converting our blender to pedal power. The new place will have a permanent pedal power station that can operate the blender and possibly a small generator as well as the grain grinder we already have. Gas use is minimized by washing laundry in cold water, hanging it on a clothesline, and taking fewer and shorter (and cooler) showers. Solar cooking helps reduce the oven's use of gas. When it is turned on, as many dishes are cooked as possible at the same time or consecutively to maximize efficiency. The thermostat is kept at a low temperature for winter and turned down very low for nighttime. Water conservation: Water is sparingly used in the first placed and usually re-used as greywater. Sponge baths are the norm with two showers per person per week only to save water. Clothes are reworn until dirty reducing laundry needs. Laundry water is sometimes re-used as greywater. This currently entails hauling water out by the bucketful but in our own place, plumbing can be set up to do this automatically. Water dispensed from any tap while waiting for hot water to come out is saved and re-used to either flush the toilet, soak clothes, or go on the garden. We'll probably install a composting toilet in our own place. Garden and landscaping plants are heavily mulched to reduce water loss from evaporation. Once we have our own place, we will install rainwater harvesting equipment. Currently, about 1/3 of our roof space redirects rainwater to two citrus trees. We also will look at the possibility of contouring to retain water on the property when we get settled. Food: 90% of our produce comes from a CSA with the rest from farmer's markets, garden, or stores. The CSA also provides most of our wheat, oats, and dry beans. As vegans, this covers a substantial portion of our diet although we also buy rice, vinegar, spices, salt, sugar, and a few other products. Not all of these are available from local sources. I preserve large quantities of food from the CSA, markets, and wild harvesting. My husband is experimenting with finding out what plants will grow well in our desert climate in traditional soil gardens and hydroponically. He also wants to do vermiculture once we have our own property. To supplement feed for our dogs, we plan to look into aquaponics and chickens (for eggs). Possessions: we take care of what we own and buy used when we can. Function is far more important to us than appearance and our home reflects this. It is comfortable but not stylish - just like my wardrobe. We also both possess relatively good health and try to take care of ourselves to maintain it. Security: we added a large dog to our family about two months ago. He is very protective and seems to have increased the protective nature of our other dog. I go to self-defense classes every week and am teaching some of the concepts to my husband. Being aware of what is going on around you when out and about goes a very long ways towards personal safety. We are not terribly concerned about zombies because one of our dogs is always hungry... Community: I've been volunteering with the CSA for about two years and enjoy the community from that group. Now that we've decided to stay in Tucson, we're actively working to form more community by getting involved with other groups. (Solar, sustainable community, vegetarian, gardening, and even weight loss) As you know, much of what we’re doing is already up on my blog. As you will read here, we are doing a lot already but getting our own place will allow us to really step up our efforts. As I see it, our biggest hurdles are heat, water, and food. Almost everything we do boils down to dealing with those things in one way or another.

Transportation: We have bikes for transportation and the capacity to carry cargo on the bikes using panniers, a trailer, or our Xtracycle bags. To enable me to use pedal power during the very hot summer months, we added an electric assist motor to my cargo (Xtracycle) bike. We hope to get a solar panel to charge the battery on it at some point. During the cooler months, we bike or walk many places. Being centrally located makes access to services and businesses easy. We do have a vehicle, not the most fuel-efficient one either. Careful planning of errands and gentle driving optimize its use. Keeping stocked up on food and supplies minimizes the need for last minute errands.

Temperature control in house: We are renters and therefore have not retrofitted this house beyond weatherstripping and foil-backed insulation pressed into some windows in the summer. Keeping window coverings closed during summer days and winter nights helps with indoor temperatures. We maintain the furnace and evaporative cooler for best performance, and employ clothing strategies to help maintain comfort (cover up in winter, strip down in summer). Once we buy our own place, we will go far beyond these efforts as we can afford it: more insulation, double-paned windows, window quilts, and shutters perhaps.

Cooking outside helps keep summer temperatures inside more comfortable. Currently this is done with two solar ovens used several times per week. In our own place, we’ll add a rocket stove and cob oven to the outdoor cooking facilities, as well as an exterior outlet for appliances such as the rice cooker and electric grill.

We hope to find a smaller house, too, to minimize utility costs.

Utility use: we switched from many electric appliances and tools to manual ones. My husband sold many of his power tools and replaced them with hand tools. I use less electric appliances in the kitchen. On the wish list is converting our blender to pedal power. The new place will have a permanent pedal power station that can operate the blender and possibly a small generator as well as the grain grinder we already have.

Gas use is minimized by washing laundry in cold water, hanging it on a clothesline, and taking fewer and shorter (and cooler) showers. Solar cooking helps reduce the oven’s use of gas. When it is turned on, as many dishes are cooked as possible at the same time or consecutively to maximize efficiency. The thermostat is kept at a low temperature for winter and turned down very low for nighttime.

Water conservation: Water is sparingly used in the first placed and usually re-used as greywater. Sponge baths are the norm with two showers per person per week only to save water. Clothes are reworn until dirty reducing laundry needs. Laundry water is sometimes re-used as greywater. This currently entails hauling water out by the bucketful but in our own place, plumbing can be set up to do this automatically. Water dispensed from any tap while waiting for hot water to come out is saved and re-used to either flush the toilet, soak clothes, or go on the garden. We’ll probably install a composting toilet in our own place.

Garden and landscaping plants are heavily mulched to reduce water loss from evaporation. Once we have our own place, we will install rainwater harvesting equipment. Currently, about 1/3 of our roof space redirects rainwater to two citrus trees. We also will look at the possibility of contouring to retain water on the property when we get settled.

Food: 90% of our produce comes from a CSA with the rest from farmer’s markets, garden, or stores. The CSA also provides most of our wheat, oats, and dry beans. As vegans, this covers a substantial portion of our diet although we also buy rice, vinegar, spices, salt, sugar, and a few other products. Not all of these are available from local sources. I preserve large quantities of food from the CSA, markets, and wild harvesting. My husband is experimenting with finding out what plants will grow well in our desert climate in traditional soil gardens and hydroponically. He also wants to do vermiculture once we have our own property. To supplement feed for our dogs, we plan to look into aquaponics and chickens (for eggs).

Possessions: we take care of what we own and buy used when we can. Function is far more important to us than appearance and our home reflects this. It is comfortable but not stylish - just like my wardrobe. We also both possess relatively good health and try to take care of ourselves to maintain it.

Security: we added a large dog to our family about two months ago. He is very protective and seems to have increased the protective nature of our other dog. I go to self-defense classes every week and am teaching some of the concepts to my husband. Being aware of what is going on around you when out and about goes a very long ways towards personal safety. We are not terribly concerned about zombies because one of our dogs is always hungry…

Community: I’ve been volunteering with the CSA for about two years and enjoy the community from that group. Now that we’ve decided to stay in Tucson, we’re actively working to form more community by getting involved with other groups. (Solar, sustainable community, vegetarian, gardening, and even weight loss)

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By: madison http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23266 madison Mon, 03 Aug 2009 18:54:37 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23266 Thought of a few more replacement systems and more thoughts: HEALTH - some knowledge of medicinal herbs, lots of OTC meds, general good health, I am also a trained doula with extensive first hand breastfeeding experience SAFETY - belt knives, mace; working on getting a bow with dozens of arrows, would like to have a dog; community and friends WASTE - know how to build composting toilets and sawdust toilets LAUNDRY - mop bucket with wringer, washboards, Zote soap, biodegradable laundry soaps. I'd also like to learn how to can (I have all the equipment) and make cheese, actually build a rocket stove (I have the book), and have a small greenhouse and some cold frames. I'd also like to build a small deck for my travel trailer and use the space underneath it for storage instead of having a storage unit in town. I am hoping also to take a foraging class this fall up in Portland. I also know how to use cloth diapers, make wool diaper covers, build rocket stoves and build cob bread ovens. :) Anyone want us???? Thought of a few more replacement systems and more thoughts:

HEALTH - some knowledge of medicinal herbs, lots of OTC meds, general good health, I am also a trained doula with extensive first hand breastfeeding experience

SAFETY - belt knives, mace; working on getting a bow with dozens of arrows, would like to have a dog; community and friends

WASTE - know how to build composting toilets and sawdust toilets

LAUNDRY - mop bucket with wringer, washboards, Zote soap, biodegradable laundry soaps.

I’d also like to learn how to can (I have all the equipment) and make cheese, actually build a rocket stove (I have the book), and have a small greenhouse and some cold frames. I’d also like to build a small deck for my travel trailer and use the space underneath it for storage instead of having a storage unit in town. I am hoping also to take a foraging class this fall up in Portland.

I also know how to use cloth diapers, make wool diaper covers, build rocket stoves and build cob bread ovens. :)

Anyone want us????

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By: madison http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23264 madison Mon, 03 Aug 2009 17:59:21 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23264 I am a single mom to a six year old boy with ADHD, who is partially deaf. We are doing our best to prepare for a low-energy future, bu I was laid off a month ago and we are barely surviving. If TSHTF today, we would instantly become refugees. We live in a travel trailer dependent upon electrical AC and propane heat. Without either, a trailer is an utterly miserable place to live! We had 18 inches of snow this winter and even with the heater going 24/7, it was very cold at either end of the trailer. Our AC broke a week ago in 105 degree heat and it was the most miserable few days of my life until friends rescued us and gave us a new AC AND installed it. God bless AC! :) If a catastrophic even occured, I would most likely be forced to abandon my trailer and most of what is in it to a storage unit and live with what I could fit into my car. There would be no option to shelter in place here. What I am able to do, however, is collect tools and skills for a lower energy life that would be applicable to wherever we end up. I have acquired replacement systems for: LIGHT - crank flashes and lanterns, candles, oil lamps, thousands of matches HEAT - warm clothing & boots, sleeping bags, LP heater. Working on getting a wood stove for the future WATER - a Big Berkey water filter, a backpack water filter, bleach, tablets, gallons and 6 gallon water carrier HOT WATER - solar showers, Kelly Kettle COOL - battery powered fans, solar chargeable batteries & COOKING - Volcano stove & charcoal, Butane stove with fuel, LP bbq with fuel, lots of cast iron cookwear, grain mill, dehydrator FOOD - 6 months worth of grains, beans, rice, herbs & spices, salt, sugar, coffee, dehydrated and canned foods; I have a small container garden with herbs and am starting winter vegetables now; am working on a CSA membership TRANSPORTATION - beat up old car that no crook in their right mind would steal that runs great, decent bikes with parts and tools, good walking shoes and boots; am working on finding a second-hand kayak. What we lack, besides a long term home, is community. While I hate to leave Oregon with it's food producing capabilities (none of which I have access to since I don't own land) and it's nice weather (which still isn't great if you are living in your car), I am gradually deciding to relocate to Colorado where my best friend and her family lives, and throw in my lot with them, as they ARE my tribe. IF TSHTF, I'd have to come as a refugee with what I can fit in my car. However, all the preps I mentioned above WOULD fit into a car, so I wouldn't come empty handed! I also have skills. I am a gardener, know cob and strawbale building, seed saver, an excellent cook, some first aid skills, soem wilderness skills etc. Adapting in place is not a real option for us. When we do find a place, I have confidence that we will be able to take part in building a viable future wherever we end up! I am a single mom to a six year old boy with ADHD, who is partially deaf. We are doing our best to prepare for a low-energy future, bu I was laid off a month ago and we are barely surviving. If TSHTF today, we would instantly become refugees.

We live in a travel trailer dependent upon electrical AC and propane heat. Without either, a trailer is an utterly miserable place to live! We had 18 inches of snow this winter and even with the heater going 24/7, it was very cold at either end of the trailer. Our AC broke a week ago in 105 degree heat and it was the most miserable few days of my life until friends rescued us and gave us a new AC AND installed it. God bless AC! :) If a catastrophic even occured, I would most likely be forced to abandon my trailer and most of what is in it to a storage unit and live with what I could fit into my car. There would be no option to shelter in place here.

What I am able to do, however, is collect tools and skills for a lower energy life that would be applicable to wherever we end up.

I have acquired replacement systems for:

LIGHT - crank flashes and lanterns, candles, oil lamps, thousands of matches

HEAT - warm clothing & boots, sleeping bags, LP heater. Working on getting a wood stove for the future

WATER - a Big Berkey water filter, a backpack water filter, bleach, tablets, gallons and 6 gallon water carrier

HOT WATER - solar showers, Kelly Kettle

COOL - battery powered fans, solar chargeable batteries &

COOKING - Volcano stove & charcoal, Butane stove with fuel, LP bbq with fuel, lots of cast iron cookwear, grain mill, dehydrator

FOOD - 6 months worth of grains, beans, rice, herbs & spices, salt, sugar, coffee, dehydrated and canned foods; I have a small container garden with herbs and am starting winter vegetables now; am working on a CSA membership

TRANSPORTATION - beat up old car that no crook in their right mind would steal that runs great, decent bikes with parts and tools, good walking shoes and boots; am working on finding a second-hand kayak.

What we lack, besides a long term home, is community. While I hate to leave Oregon with it’s food producing capabilities (none of which I have access to since I don’t own land) and it’s nice weather (which still isn’t great if you are living in your car), I am gradually deciding to relocate to Colorado where my best friend and her family lives, and throw in my lot with them, as they ARE my tribe.

IF TSHTF, I’d have to come as a refugee with what I can fit in my car. However, all the preps I mentioned above WOULD fit into a car, so I wouldn’t come empty handed!

I also have skills. I am a gardener, know cob and strawbale building, seed saver, an excellent cook, some first aid skills, soem wilderness skills etc.

Adapting in place is not a real option for us. When we do find a place, I have confidence that we will be able to take part in building a viable future wherever we end up!

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By: rdheather http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23263 rdheather Mon, 03 Aug 2009 17:59:11 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23263 Hey, Susan, you should check out the holopump from Mother Earth News-I can't remember what issue but it shows up when you search. I made one to get water from the horse's 1000 gal tank and it works! I had to modify the plans a bit, but pvc is easy to work with at least. Hey, Susan, you should check out the holopump from Mother Earth News-I can’t remember what issue but it shows up when you search.

I made one to get water from the horse’s 1000 gal tank and it works! I had to modify the plans a bit, but pvc is easy to work with at least.

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By: SuperMomNoCape http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23257 SuperMomNoCape Mon, 03 Aug 2009 13:46:29 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23257 I don't really have an adapting in place story other than just trying to do what we can to prepare within the confines of living in a rental. This summer we're concentrating on getting our water and food stores where they need to be. I'm canning and freezing as things become available from the farmers' market. We're limited in what we can actually do to our house and yard since it's a rental but we are fortunate that when this house was built, it was made very energy efficient with regards to insulation and type of windows and doors. We got the landlord's permission to add some gardens as long as they look nice and have started three 4'X4' square foot gardens with plans for two more, plus experimenting with growing in containers. The house doesn't have eavestroughs, so I put buckets under the places where the water runs off the heaviest and use those to fill rain barrels. We're only allowed to have a clothesline if we make sure that it can't be seen from the road, so we've strung lines across the top of the gazebo. The tenting for the gazebo was destroyed in a wind storm, so we figured this was a good use for the frame. Our story is small compared to others, but I did want to post a comment to let everyone know how much I'm enjoying reading what they have achieved and are in the process of achieving. It's giving me more ideas for things I can do here and now. Even things that might be able to be taken with us to the next place as with my husband's job, we know there will inevitably be a next place. I don’t really have an adapting in place story other than just trying to do what we can to prepare within the confines of living in a rental. This summer we’re concentrating on getting our water and food stores where they need to be. I’m canning and freezing as things become available from the farmers’ market.

We’re limited in what we can actually do to our house and yard since it’s a rental but we are fortunate that when this house was built, it was made very energy efficient with regards to insulation and type of windows and doors.

We got the landlord’s permission to add some gardens as long as they look nice and have started three 4′X4′ square foot gardens with plans for two more, plus experimenting with growing in containers. The house doesn’t have eavestroughs, so I put buckets under the places where the water runs off the heaviest and use those to fill rain barrels.

We’re only allowed to have a clothesline if we make sure that it can’t be seen from the road, so we’ve strung lines across the top of the gazebo. The tenting for the gazebo was destroyed in a wind storm, so we figured this was a good use for the frame.

Our story is small compared to others, but I did want to post a comment to let everyone know how much I’m enjoying reading what they have achieved and are in the process of achieving. It’s giving me more ideas for things I can do here and now. Even things that might be able to be taken with us to the next place as with my husband’s job, we know there will inevitably be a next place.

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By: Apple Jack Creek http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23245 Apple Jack Creek Mon, 03 Aug 2009 02:17:51 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23245 I don't know how much of what we do is considered "in place", since we are recent transplants to the country from the city and have done much of what we do from scratch, knowing that the future will be different than we were raised to expect. However ... once we got here, we did keep what we call "future proofing" at the top of our minds while we planned our layout, so maybe it counts. We started off with one small-ish house, well suited to a single mother and her son, with occasional visitors. Then said single mother (yep, me) got married and acquired a husband and two half time kids ... so, that meant we needed different infrastructure. We built an addition to the exisitng house, but we built it with a big difference: it is an entire 'separate house', or could be. We ended up with two houses, attached by a hallway, and each house can be entirely self contained (although sharing utility connections and laundry and such). The 'new house' has all the plumbing and wiring for a kitchen to be installed - although we didn't install anything, as we live in both houses like they were one big house - but the idea was that if things changed and we ended up with, say, adult kids living here longer, or parents needing to move in, or whatever, we would have housing that could be made to work for a variety of family configurations. We joke that we can each go into our 'own houses' and lock the doors between if we have a big fight! However, I have the kitchen, and he has the pantry so ... that's one way to encourage negotiation. :) We have solar power on the 'original house': by the time the addition was built, having grid power brought in was affordable, so we have grid backup - but, the essentials in the 'new house' (sump pump and heat circulation fan) are not hardwired to the power system, so they can be plugged into the batteries from the solar system if the power goes out (which it did yesterday and most of today, due to a storm). That means we always have lights and power in part of the place, at least, and our system can be upsized if time/money permit. Oh, and solar powers the well pump - very important. :) We have a wood stove in the 'original house' and plans to replace it with an Aussie Bakers Oven stove, and then move the original stove over to the 'new house' so both are able to be heated with wood - we live in the midst of lots of forested land that can be sustainably harvested for firewood. We have six acres, which we are determinedly fencing for sheep (we have those, too), we have a garden (which grows a lot of grass, I have discovered, but vegetables are slowly expanding year by year), and free range chickens (guarded by the LGDs who also guard the sheep). We also have a Dexter cow, trained to milk, and her calf ... the idea is that if we are really, really stuck, we'll at least have butter and eggs and lamb meat, plus whatever we can grow in the garden. The variety may be limited, but at least nobody will starve. :) If our story can help, we'll be glad to send along more info. Pictures and such on the blog, contact links are there as well, if we can be of assistance. :) I don’t know how much of what we do is considered “in place”, since we are recent transplants to the country from the city and have done much of what we do from scratch, knowing that the future will be different than we were raised to expect. However … once we got here, we did keep what we call “future proofing” at the top of our minds while we planned our layout, so maybe it counts.

We started off with one small-ish house, well suited to a single mother and her son, with occasional visitors. Then said single mother (yep, me) got married and acquired a husband and two half time kids … so, that meant we needed different infrastructure. We built an addition to the exisitng house, but we built it with a big difference: it is an entire ’separate house’, or could be. We ended up with two houses, attached by a hallway, and each house can be entirely self contained (although sharing utility connections and laundry and such). The ‘new house’ has all the plumbing and wiring for a kitchen to be installed - although we didn’t install anything, as we live in both houses like they were one big house - but the idea was that if things changed and we ended up with, say, adult kids living here longer, or parents needing to move in, or whatever, we would have housing that could be made to work for a variety of family configurations. We joke that we can each go into our ‘own houses’ and lock the doors between if we have a big fight! However, I have the kitchen, and he has the pantry so … that’s one way to encourage negotiation. :)

We have solar power on the ‘original house’: by the time the addition was built, having grid power brought in was affordable, so we have grid backup - but, the essentials in the ‘new house’ (sump pump and heat circulation fan) are not hardwired to the power system, so they can be plugged into the batteries from the solar system if the power goes out (which it did yesterday and most of today, due to a storm). That means we always have lights and power in part of the place, at least, and our system can be upsized if time/money permit. Oh, and solar powers the well pump - very important. :)

We have a wood stove in the ‘original house’ and plans to replace it with an Aussie Bakers Oven stove, and then move the original stove over to the ‘new house’ so both are able to be heated with wood - we live in the midst of lots of forested land that can be sustainably harvested for firewood.

We have six acres, which we are determinedly fencing for sheep (we have those, too), we have a garden (which grows a lot of grass, I have discovered, but vegetables are slowly expanding year by year), and free range chickens (guarded by the LGDs who also guard the sheep). We also have a Dexter cow, trained to milk, and her calf … the idea is that if we are really, really stuck, we’ll at least have butter and eggs and lamb meat, plus whatever we can grow in the garden. The variety may be limited, but at least nobody will starve. :)

If our story can help, we’ll be glad to send along more info. Pictures and such on the blog, contact links are there as well, if we can be of assistance. :)

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By: Wendy http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23243 Wendy Mon, 03 Aug 2009 01:46:19 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23243 Our adapting-in-place story here in the suburbs could actually be its own book, and while every place has its quirks, the suburbs are particularly notorious for their very antagonistic attitude toward many of the steps that are necessary for "adapting-in-place." Luckily, for me, my particular neighborhood isn't so bad, but my town is particularly restrictive, and many of the things we like to do, we can't do. At any rate, it's a very long story from the whys of our decision to stay in the suburbs to the how's of making our lot more sustainable, but the highlights in our journey include: raising small livestock (chickens, rabbits and ducks), swapping some energy-sucking systems for more efficient alternatives (on-demand hot water, clothesline instead of a dryer, woodstove instead of a furnace), edible landscaping, setting-up rain barrels, and INSULATING to reduce heat loss during the winter (as heat loss is more of an issue in Maine than keeping the house cool :). We're also trying to invest in things like hand tools that will help us in a lower energy world. We're building a really awesome library, partly because we homeschool and partly because we know we'll need the information in the books we've been collecting if we lose access to the Internet, we're taking classes in things like beekeeping, wild foraging, and woodcrafts, and my husband is learning to bowhunt. Every year we learn to can or otherwise preserve one new thing, and every year, we add something new to our landscape. Every year, we learn to live without one more modern "necessity" (like cable T.V. :). It's an ongoing process, and the only concern is that we're running out of time. We're not *there*, yet, but we're definitely closer to being okay if TSHTF tomorrow than most of the people in our neighborhood ;). Our adapting-in-place story here in the suburbs could actually be its own book, and while every place has its quirks, the suburbs are particularly notorious for their very antagonistic attitude toward many of the steps that are necessary for “adapting-in-place.” Luckily, for me, my particular neighborhood isn’t so bad, but my town is particularly restrictive, and many of the things we like to do, we can’t do.

At any rate, it’s a very long story from the whys of our decision to stay in the suburbs to the how’s of making our lot more sustainable, but the highlights in our journey include: raising small livestock (chickens, rabbits and ducks), swapping some energy-sucking systems for more efficient alternatives (on-demand hot water, clothesline instead of a dryer, woodstove instead of a furnace), edible landscaping, setting-up rain barrels, and INSULATING to reduce heat loss during the winter (as heat loss is more of an issue in Maine than keeping the house cool :).

We’re also trying to invest in things like hand tools that will help us in a lower energy world. We’re building a really awesome library, partly because we homeschool and partly because we know we’ll need the information in the books we’ve been collecting if we lose access to the Internet, we’re taking classes in things like beekeeping, wild foraging, and woodcrafts, and my husband is learning to bowhunt. Every year we learn to can or otherwise preserve one new thing, and every year, we add something new to our landscape. Every year, we learn to live without one more modern “necessity” (like cable T.V. :).

It’s an ongoing process, and the only concern is that we’re running out of time. We’re not *there*, yet, but we’re definitely closer to being okay if TSHTF tomorrow than most of the people in our neighborhood ;).

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By: sealander http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23237 sealander Sun, 02 Aug 2009 22:04:08 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23237 Purchased current 3.5 bedroom underinsulated inner city wooden doer-upper 12 years ago in partnership with husband and brother-in-law just before an upswing in the property market. The plan was to do as little as possible with it, pay it off, and then sell it and buy a place in the country where we would be totally self sufficient in everything, raise fluffy animals, give up the daily grind and thumb our noses at The Man. Twelve years later first husband is long gone, second husband, stepkid, opinionated tomcat and occasional room mates are in residence, the doer-upper is still being done up, and is now worth twice what I paid for it. Unfortunately all other properties have also doubled in price and any small block in the country requires a mortgage that needs at least two people working in the city to pay for it. So this is where the adapting in place comes in ;) Luckily I planted fruit trees even though we weren't staying. Now we get a reasonable supply of pears, plums, hazelnuts, persimmons, grapes, occasional figs, raspberries and red currants. Apples, blackcurrants, strawberries, lemons, and lemonades are coming along. (I should have had a good supply of lemons by now but I keep killing lemon trees). And I harvest walnuts and blackboy peaches from trees in the local parks. I grow herbs for teas and culinary use, and oodles of parsley. There simply isn't enough room to grow all the vegetables that we need so I focus on the things that I can grow well and that can produce a surplus to be preserved or stored. I seem to be unable to produce a decent crop of onions, celery, celeriac, brocolli or spinach, and corn takes too much room so they're all off the list now. In winter I grow leeks, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, kale, mizuna, tatsoi, kohl rabi and broad (fava) beans, plus tubers left in the ground like Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and mashua. In summer, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers (all often marginal crops here without a glasshouse), beans to eat green and for drying, lettuce, chard, orach, lambs quarters, zuchinni, potatoes, pumpkin and globe artichokes (which nobody likes but me and my greek MIL:) Nine chickens keep the bindweed under control in one corner, and they raise their own replacements and give me enough rare breed pullets to sell that they partially pay for their own feed. And since free range eggs are about 50 cents each here they definitely pay for their keep. Kitchen waste goes to a worm farm or the chickens. Garden waste and weeds goes to the compost heaps or the chickens. Human waste still gets flushed away - a composting toilet just seemed like too big a leap. Laundry is line dried or in front of the fire, or in the electric dryer in the depths of winter. As for the house renovations, so far I've insulated the ceiling with wool batts, replaced and insulated the bathroom, rewired the whole house and put a new steel roof on. Next year our old insert logburner is going to be illegal under the clean air regulations so we're looking at a freestanding model with a wetback and a cooktop. There are no actual cooking woodstoves that are approved so a cooktop is the next best thing - I figure that if we are going to have it burning all weekend in winter anyway, we might as well have a kettle and a pot of soup going on top. This project is going to suck up all the renovation money for the next couple of years so everything else will be on hold. The long term plan includes solar hot water heating, rain barrels, moving the laundry inside (currently installed in a dilapidated shed, so potential to include a greywater system there), and a new chicken shed, and acquiring a bee hive once some new treatment for the varroa mite is on the market. All of which will have to stay long term until finances permit. Given that the cost of electricity sneaks up nearly 10% a year some form of power generation would be welcome but the high cost of any home system put that out of reach. I've gradually increased the amount of food stored, and we usually have 6 months supply of grain for the chickens, but we can still do better in this area. Further storage is awaiting the installation of some shelving. Right now the overflow is piled haphazardly around the kitchen and dining room :) I reckon we're doing okay but still have a lot of work to do......... Purchased current 3.5 bedroom underinsulated inner city wooden doer-upper 12 years ago in partnership with husband and brother-in-law just before an upswing in the property market. The plan was to do as little as possible with it, pay it off, and then sell it and buy a place in the country where we would be totally self sufficient in everything, raise fluffy animals, give up the daily grind and thumb our noses at The Man.
Twelve years later first husband is long gone, second husband, stepkid, opinionated tomcat and occasional room mates are in residence, the doer-upper is still being done up, and is now worth twice what I paid for it. Unfortunately all other properties have also doubled in price and any small block in the country requires a mortgage that needs at least two people working in the city to pay for it. So this is where the adapting in place comes in ;)

Luckily I planted fruit trees even though we weren’t staying. Now we get a reasonable supply of pears, plums, hazelnuts, persimmons, grapes, occasional figs, raspberries and red currants. Apples, blackcurrants, strawberries, lemons, and lemonades are coming along. (I should have had a good supply of lemons by now but I keep killing lemon trees). And I harvest walnuts and blackboy peaches from trees in the local parks.

I grow herbs for teas and culinary use, and oodles of parsley. There simply isn’t enough room to grow all the vegetables that we need so I focus on the things that I can grow well and that can produce a surplus to be preserved or stored. I seem to be unable to produce a decent crop of onions, celery, celeriac, brocolli or spinach, and corn takes too much room so they’re all off the list now. In winter I grow leeks, garlic, carrots, beets, parsnips, kale, mizuna, tatsoi, kohl rabi and broad (fava) beans, plus tubers left in the ground like Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and mashua. In summer, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers (all often marginal crops here without a glasshouse), beans to eat green and for drying, lettuce, chard, orach, lambs quarters, zuchinni, potatoes, pumpkin and globe artichokes (which nobody likes but me and my greek MIL:)
Nine chickens keep the bindweed under control in one corner, and they raise their own replacements and give me enough rare breed pullets to sell that they partially pay for their own feed. And since free range eggs are about 50 cents each here they definitely pay for their keep.
Kitchen waste goes to a worm farm or the chickens. Garden waste and weeds goes to the compost heaps or the chickens. Human waste still gets flushed away - a composting toilet just seemed like too big a leap. Laundry is line dried or in front of the fire, or in the electric dryer in the depths of winter.

As for the house renovations, so far I’ve insulated the ceiling with wool batts, replaced and insulated the bathroom, rewired the whole house and put a new steel roof on. Next year our old insert logburner is going to be illegal under the clean air regulations so we’re looking at a freestanding model with a wetback and a cooktop. There are no actual cooking woodstoves that are approved so a cooktop is the next best thing - I figure that if we are going to have it burning all weekend in winter anyway, we might as well have a kettle and a pot of soup going on top. This project is going to suck up all the renovation money for the next couple of years so everything else will be on hold. The long term plan includes solar hot water heating, rain barrels, moving the laundry inside (currently installed in a dilapidated shed, so potential to include a greywater system there), and a new chicken shed, and acquiring a bee hive once some new treatment for the varroa mite is on the market. All of which will have to stay long term until finances permit. Given that the cost of electricity sneaks up nearly 10% a year some form of power generation would be welcome but the high cost of any home system put that out of reach.

I’ve gradually increased the amount of food stored, and we usually have 6 months supply of grain for the chickens, but we can still do better in this area. Further storage is awaiting the installation of some shelving. Right now the overflow is piled haphazardly around the kitchen and dining room :)

I reckon we’re doing okay but still have a lot of work to do………

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By: Noel in Chicago http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23223 Noel in Chicago Sun, 02 Aug 2009 15:03:05 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2009/07/31/tell-me-your-adapting-in-place-story/#comment-23223 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-chicken-coops-north-zone-31-jul31,0,355460.story This is somewhat related. It goes along the lines of the challenges we will face in trying to adapt in place. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune this past Thursday (linked above) that I was very excited to read. It was basically praising the virtues and pointing out the growth in raising chickens in your backyard in Chicago and the near suburbs. What I was somewhat surprised to read were all of the negative comments by local Chicagoans in response to this article. To summ up 90% of the 121 comments - anyone who does this is "fill in the blank" (white-trash, hillbilly, uneducated, etc.) and has no respect for their neighbors. With the rest being "how dumb... I pay 3 cents for 36 eggs at the local pesticide-mart for my eggs". Really surprising and depressing at the same time. We are working on getting some chickens to raise in our yard and it's painful to know that some people will have this negative impression of our family based upon something as normal, healthy, and worthwhile. It's also painful to realize just how far out of touch the population here is. I used to think that Chicagoans were generally more in touch and accepting of such things. Guess not. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-chicken-coops-north-zone-31-jul31,0,355460.story

This is somewhat related. It goes along the lines of the challenges we will face in trying to adapt in place. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune this past Thursday (linked above) that I was very excited to read. It was basically praising the virtues and pointing out the growth in raising chickens in your backyard in Chicago and the near suburbs. What I was somewhat surprised to read were all of the negative comments by local Chicagoans in response to this article. To summ up 90% of the 121 comments - anyone who does this is “fill in the blank” (white-trash, hillbilly, uneducated, etc.) and has no respect for their neighbors. With the rest being “how dumb… I pay 3 cents for 36 eggs at the local pesticide-mart for my eggs”. Really surprising and depressing at the same time. We are working on getting some chickens to raise in our yard and it’s painful to know that some people will have this negative impression of our family based upon something as normal, healthy, and worthwhile. It’s also painful to realize just how far out of touch the population here is. I used to think that Chicagoans were generally more in touch and accepting of such things. Guess not.

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