Remember how I talked about over-doing my life last month? I’m happy to report that I have relaxed quite a bit since then. Ok, I’ve been sick – first from going off my pain meds, then from the flu – but honestly, these three weeks of feeling under the weather have been a total boon. I’ve been forced to take it easy, which has given me plenty of free time to read, write in my journal, and watch TV and play new board games with my boo. God it feels good. I had seriously forgotten what it’s like to just kick it – no agenda, no never-ending task list, no pressure to be on a train of constant progress.
Right before I left home, my dad told me, “stress is self-created. It’s all in your head.” I’d learned that so many times before, but hearing come out of my dad’s mouth was a kick in the ass. As I’ve been reflecting, I realized that even though I accomplished a lot in 2015, it was all done under this reign of self-created stress that I’ve talked so much about. Here’s the amazing part – I’ve released that stress and pressure, made more free time for myself, yet feel just as productive! Even in my sickie state this month of January, I’ve already:
- Grown two batches of sprouts (alfalfa and mung)
- Completed my new worm hotel
- Started my first sourdough culture
- Helped Andrew with our first oyster mushroom colony
- Done yoga every single day
- Built ~300 yards of hiking trail
- Worked on two habitat restoration projects
- Cooked so many delicious vegan meals (Thanks Isa!!)
Yet I’ve magically also had time to nourish my soul and my relationship (and watch the whole first season of Master of None). I feel so lucky to have been able to use all the insight I gathered productively to free myself of the unnecessary stress. Of course, every day is a new day, but I finally feel like I’m not on the verge of exploding.
Anyways, although I’m happy to report on my general well-being, today I really wanted share some homestead goals I’ve been working on. A bi-product of the “doing way too much syndrome” was that I was taking on too wide a variety of projects, and thus half-assing everything. This year, I’ve decided that I was to proceed slowly with a much smaller scope. Doing too much made me feel like my homestead was all over the place, lacked focus, and thus lacked effectiveness. I want to create a vision for where I’m going and what I stand for. I feel like I’ve taken in SO MUCH information and ideas over the last year – it’s time to synthesize what I’ve been learning and find practical applications for my life. Here are the projects that are going to be the focus of this little homestead for the next six months.
We are taking our worms to the next level! My mom, sister, and I built an awesome worm new worm hotel – post to come once my new worms arrive in the mail. We have moved the operation indoors for convenience and better control of the worm’s environment. I’ve been reading more about the biology of worms, and want to understand not only their life cycle, but the entire ecosystem of the worm bin. I’m hoping that test driving this new system will help me gain the knowledge needed to one day become a worm farmer. We are using the worms in combination with mushroom growing (the fancy term is mycocomposting). Fungi are also fantastic decomposers and adding the mycelium into a composting system makes it more effective and beneficial for the plants the compost will one day feed. This is all quasi-experimental and fueled by our buddy Tradd Cotter’s book Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation. The worms are something that really caught my interest, so I am trying to take this idea and expound on it, instead of letting the worm bin sit in the corner as a project that once was.
We went through a brewing frenzy in preparation for the holidays, then fell off the wagon. Andrew and I brewed about five beers together and to be honest, I was only proud of one. We were getting too crazy with our ideas – juniper berry wit, cayanne and cocoa stout. We’ve agreed to get back to basics and try to master a few common styles – an amber ale, a porter, and perhaps some sort of lager. We’ve made A LOT of mistakes so far, but that’s just part of the process! We will never again have a flat beer because we forgot to have priming sugar, and I will never accidentally sparge double the amount of water because I wasn’t paying attention. As Charlie Papazian says, “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a Homebrew!” Homebrewing is a super fun hobby, but we need to make time for the entire process. Often, we’ve had a couple hours and tried to squeeze a brew session in, only to be left with a mass of dirty dishes that we didn’t have time to wash. I’m also thinking about joining our local homebrewing club – we need to meet more people.
No, I’m not on the Marie Kondo train, but I have been simplifying and purging our possessions over the last year. I lost a lot of weight two years ago, yet never updated my wardrobe. This resulted in everything I owned being baggy which killed my self esteem! I constantly felt embarrassed of and uncomfortable in my clothing. I’m working on simplifying and updating my wardrobe, all the way down to my shoes. Other areas on the list include: kitchen cabinets, book collections, and anything that lives “in storage.”
It’s so hard to tell with the home-buying situation if we will have an actual garden this year or not. I’m being pessimistic and banking on not. If we really are going to be fixing up a home, I won’t be able to deal with the responsibility of a garden. We’ve decided that we are going to instead focus our efforts on growing three or four different crops in pots – only the things we love the most like tomatoes, peppers, and okra. Since we won’t have a real garden, I’m also going to give myself a head start on 2017 by building an indoor seed-starting apparatus. I’m going the large metal shelving route, and plan to use the top shelf as a year round little indoor medicinal herb garden. Andrew got me Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health for Christmas, and I want to get into herbalism so bad!
Before I explain, let me say – I don’t believe in zero waste. It amazes me what Bea Johnson and her family have accomplished, but I do find it fairly extreme. My view is that the amount of human energy expended to accomplish zero waste (or damn near close) is disproportional to the benefits – both personal and environmental. That being said, I believe very strongly in incorporating zero waste principles into our lives. I believe in design standards based on zero waste. And I know that our little homestead can do a hell of a lot better in reducing our waste. I can get into specifics in a later post … but here are the big points I’m aiming for: monitoring what we are throwing away and researching ways to reuse or recycle most items; buying less plastic packaging; removing all food waste from the trash stream; recycling as much as possible by taking all hard-to-recycle items to our brand new CHaRM facility; refusing any kind of kitschy/ low grade crap/ flyers and giveaway items.
Many of you have been doing goal posts this month – I love seeing all the motivation! Best of luck and keep up the good work!