Archive for May, 2010

AIP Class Starts Thursday!

Sharon May 24th, 2010

Just a reminder that Aaron and I will be running our Adapting in Place Class online for six weeks, starting Thursday.  The class is asynchronous - you don’t have to be online at any particular time, just participate when you like.  The goal of the class is to help people develop a coherent plan for how to create a good and viable low energy life with what you have.  Previous participants have told us that the class was “life-changing.”

The cost of the class is $180 or equivalent barter, and I do have one remaining scholarship spot (thanks to several kind donors) available for a low income participant who couldn’t otherwise afford the class.  Email me for more info at [email protected].

Week 1  – How to evaluate what you have.  We’re going to concentrate on figuring out what the major concerns are for your place and your community.  We’ll talk about your region and its climate, culture and resources, your house itself, your community and neighborhood – the challenges you forsee and maybe ones you haven’t thought about yet, and your personal circumstances – how much money, time and energy you have to deal with it.  How does the definition of home change when we do this?  We’ll also talk about when adapting in place is not an option, or when you should consider relocating, and what your options are if you do need to leave or move.

Week 2 -  This week  will focus on your house itself – we’ll talk primarily about low energy infrastructure for heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, washing, etc…  About costs and options and choices for both private homes, renters and for communities as a whole.  We will also cover some renewable energy choices, especially low cost options.

Week 3 – We’re going to go into the walls of your building and into other mysterious home infrastructure- water, plumbing and toileting, insulation, keeping warm and cool and all the other things that your shelter does or could do for you.   We’ll also talk a bit about what’s in your soil and on your property and how to make the best possible use of it (this won’t get heavy emphasis in this class since we teach a whole class, garden design, on just this subject).
Week 4  We’ll focus on Family Issues – Sharing resources with both immediate and extended family (both biological and chosen), dealing with people who aren’t on board, building collective infrastructure, cannibalizing what you have and making do, dealing with the brother-in-law on the couch, helping kids adapt.  Also issues raised by young children,  disability, aging, college.
Week 5  - We’ll talk about finances, money, employment, retirement and savings, making do, getting along on a shoestring, thrift, starting cottage industries and businesses and community economics.  This is also when we’ll talk about transportation of all sorts. We’ll also begin discussing building a set of plans – 1 year, 5 year – to adapt to different scenarios.

Week 6 – We’ll talk about Community at every level, about how to build it, what to bring to it, how to get your neighbors to help, even if they are weird. How to get along with them even if you are weird ;-) , about models and ideas for bringing resilience and community to every level from the neighborhood to the state.  We’ll also talk about security, dealing with unrest or violence, and try and get those plans finished.

Hope you can join us!


Independence Days Update: The Marathon

Sharon May 24th, 2010

We are officially past our last frost date, and the great planting marathon has begun.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been planting for a month and a half (longer if you count indoor seed starting) but this is *it* - for the next three weeks, the gardens will be our whole and total focus (well, except for the 20 people coming to my house over Memorial Day weekend, I’ll probably pay a little attention to them too ;-) .

Everything needs to go into the ground, even as we’re building and rebuilding our garden beds, improving our soil and planting the last of the perennials and trees.  It all needs to be done yesterday, of course, but there’s a certain rhythym you get into when you are so far behind that it really doesn’t matter which of a thousand things you do next.

Meanwhile, Rosemary had 8 babies late last week, and is turning out to be a great Mom.  Sage has turned out yet again to be a really rotten Mom, and will be culled, I think.  We’re enjoying the milk flow before the inevitable drying up of the does (pre-kidding), and all is basically well.   Thankfully, since the garden is all right now.

Plant something: Apple trees, hazelnut trees, tomatoes, peppers, pennyroyal, nasturtiums, okra, corn, beans, beets, eggplant, onions, limas, sunflowers, gladioli, zinnias, cosmos, sweet peas, kale, broccoli, basil, various ornamental thingies.

Harvest something: Lettuce, chives, sorrel, bok choy, nettles, raspberry leaves, kale, beet greens, asparagus, rhubarb, milk, eggs.

Preserve something: Some rhubarb jam and some raspberry leaves.

Waste Not: Fully sorted out the kids winter clothes, gave away tons to goodwill and friends with younger children, also our winter wardrobes.  The usual, otherwise.

Want Not: Set aside some of the nicer ratty clothes for quilt making, made a bunch of new rags, patched sheets, ordered oatmeal.

Eat the Food: Asparagus and pesto risotto.

Build community food systems - donated some plant starts to a local plant sale.

Got Milk?

Sharon May 18th, 2010

Well, milk goats, that is.  You know you want them - cute, no bigger than a dog, gives the perfect amount of sweet milk for a family, fits in a backyard beautifully. friendly, cuddly…

If my rhapsodizing about Nigerian Dwarf Goats over the years has given you the yen, those in the Northeast might be interested in the new crop of babies at our friends’ place.  We bought our goats from Jamey and Carol at Weathertop Farm, and besides beautiful, healthy animals, they’ve provided endless kindness and support.  If you are looking for baby goats or milkers, you should check them out.   There will be more pictures of the new crop of babies (including Fantasia’s triplets, born when we were visiting on Saturday) by Thursday, so check back.  

We’ll probably have goats for sale later this summer and in the fall, but if you are looking to take advantage of the summer’s grass, definitely check them out!


Independence Days Update: Days of Warmth and Tomato Plants

Sharon May 17th, 2010

We had a wonderful weekend with lots of friends and socializing and absolutely no garden work, which was awesome in its way, but now, things go flat out.  Eric’s grading has to be done this afternoon, and then the Garden Serf (as he calls himself, I did not call him that) gets to slaving with his scythe (the lawn is past the capacity of the push mower) and his shovel. I really, really need to get the garden beds ready to plant, because it is going to be sunny and 70s all week.

I should not succumb to the temptation to plant out everything in sight.  It is, after all, only mid-March, and realistically, we could still have frost (last week we hit 24, remember, and my last frost date last year was freain’ June 1!!!).  Or hail (twice in late May since I’ve been here).  Or a plague of elephants (not yet, although I’m sure it will happen, since everything else does).

But it is going to be sunny and in the 70s for a whole week!!!!!  How am I to restrain myself?  How, may I ask you?

Last week was pretty good - I got the side garden beds weeded and mostly planted, except for the ones I didn’t (the perennial beds on the side of the house, the enclosed forest garden and the old herb bed which will now be something else, but I haven’t decided what yet.  Two of our main garden beds are built (all 4×20, so we only have to make…a buttload more).  The peas look good, the asparagus is doing well, I’ve got a clever plan for more asparagus.  

Two apples and two hazelnuts arrived by mail and heeled in, and the strawberries are actually mulched and replanted.   The house actually got cleaned, which is good.  But oy, am I behind. It would be really helpful if I could get some of the damned tomatoes, of which I have too many into the ground.  But I know that I will be punished if I succumb.

My big aesthetic accomplishment was turning the stone wall in the side yard into a rock garden.  Mediterranean herbs never have really liked my climate, but I’m hoping this, the ultimate in drainage and reflective warmth will do better.  It does look awfully pretty, too - I’ll try and put pictures up this week.

I’ve started to preserve rhubarb, mostly because we’re totally out of jam.  That’s about it for preserving though.  Oh, and I made ground ivy tincture, because I can.

We’ve decided that the goats are not pregnant (or rather, they are pregnant, but they aren’t kidding until August) and have relaxed our kidding watch.  On the other hand, we arrived for a weekend visit at our friends with the Nigerian Dwarf goats three minutes after the birth of triplet kids, and I’m hoping to buy their little buck, so maybe I’ll get a baby to play with anyway.  And August, of course, will be overflowing with goats and kids.

I’m having a slow day today - I’ve got brain rot or something, and I can’t focus on anything but the weather.  So forgive the weak ID report - there probably is stuff, but I’ve forgotten it all, so dazzled am I by the sight of the sunshine.

Planted: Late peas, beans, chard, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, kale, asparagus, beets, alyssum, hollyhocks, roses, lemon balm, yarrow, alpine strawberries, lettuce, bok choy, onions.

Harvested: Sorrel, chard, lettuce, garlic mustard, nettles, chickweed, kale, good king henry, raspberry leaves, rhubarb, asparagus, eggs, milk.

Preserved: Made rhubarb jam.

Waste Not: Nothing new

Want Not: Nothing new.

Eat the Food: Nothing new.

Build community food systems: Huh? 


Adapting in Place and Memorial Day Weekend

Sharon May 14th, 2010

A couple of administrative notes before I head off to a weekend involving friends, arboretum plant sales, weeding the asparagus patch, planting an alphabet garden and trying to decide if we really do need a pet sheep.

First, as some of you may remember I’m running an on-site family workshop at my house in rural upstate New York over Memorial Day weekend.  Families are coming with their kids (if any) to spend time learning about goat care, dairying, herbs, gardening, poultry, wild foods, soil building, reducing your energy usage and adapting in place.  I’ve got one spot left for a family staying at my house, and could take one or two more families if they were either camping nearby or staying at a local B and B - I’ve decided that this project is sufficiently insane that the more the merrier. Class starts Friday afternoon and ends after breakfast on Monday, all meals included family style vegetarian, kosher dairy. Payment is by donation.

I also have one free spot for someone who is willing to donate a couple of hours each day of the weekend helping out with kids activities (parents will be around, you won’t be soloing) and maybe doing some dishes.  You get free accomodations (couch or air mattress on the floor - this is not the taj mahal ;-) ), a chance to hang around and ask questions and check our place out and see everything we do, lessons in all of the above and my gratitude.

Also, Aaron and I will be offering our Adapting-In-Place Class starting Thursday, May 27.  This is an ONLINE, ASYNCHRONOUS class - that is, you don’t have to be anywhere in particular (although you do need an internet connection, but dial up is fine), and you don’t have to be online at any time in particular. 

Adapting in Place is the most fascinating, engaging and important class we teach - it takes the whole project of how do you make your life work with a lot less energy, a lot fewer resources and in possibly difficult situations, and helps people begin to develop a strategy. Now with all the money in the world and an army of perfect, like minded volunteers, any of us can do this.  But this is about making your life work gracefully, happily and well with less money and less energy - but in the actual place where you really live, and with the actual people you really have in your life.

We cover everything from going into the walls of your house or your apartment to assessing its potential for food production, working on community issues, food security, how to do all those day to day things - cooking, laundry, bathing with less or no power - the whole thing.  The goal is both to make people be prepared for more difficult times, but also to establish a way of life worth living now - that is better, cleaner, happier and fun.

The class will go six weeks from May 27 to July 1 - I’ll post a syllabus shortly.  The cost of the class is $180 or equivalent barter.  We also have five free scholarship spots for low income participants who couldn’t otherwise take the class - email if you need one with a brief explanation of why.  We gratefully accept donations also from anyone who wants to help others take the class - 100% of your donation goes to subsidizing more low income participants. 

Email me at [email protected] for more info or to register for either program.  Just fyi, I’m off for the sabbath and some other things over the weekend, so don’t expect a reply until Monday!



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