Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raising Local Food: Ward Lumber’s Poultry Day

2014 poultry dayI’ve considered raising chickens for many reasons, and not just because of the recent popularity of the backyard chicken movement. Raising my own chickens would be more than the bucolic setting where my children skip (they must skip) out the backdoor to the chicken coop to collect eggs. (If the scene is to be complete, my daughter is most likely wearing gingham and some sort of bonnet.)

The reality is less picturesque. The fewer miles my food needs to travel, the better off my family is.  With constant food recalls and salmonella poisoning as just a few reasons to be wary, finding a local source for eggs, dairy and meat is one step, in my opinion, toward good health. So for those that haven’t jumped on the chicken-raising bandwagon, attending a seminar is the perfect opportunity to find out if this is the way to bring your own food source closer to home. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hops Growing Talk Planned in Warrensburg

Franklin County hop-pickers c 1900With the ever increasing interest in locally produced foods and homesteading skills, the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District is presenting a series of informational talks in Warrensburg on agricultural topics.  The presentations are free and open to anyone with an interest.  For reservations contact Nick Rowell at (518)623-3119 or nrowell123@nycap.rr.com, as seating is limited.

The next two talks, on hops growing and soil health, will be Friday, March 28th from 6 pm to 8 pm at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Warrensburg Office at 232 Golf Course Road. Future talks are planned for May.

Hops was once a staple crop of New York farmers, but production ended about 50 years ago and the last beer made with all New York hops was produced in the 1950s.  That is until 2004 when the first new beer was brewed with all New York hops. Today a small amount of hops are being grown in Washington and Warren counties for use in the Adirondack and Paradox breweries. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cabin Life: Surviving The Chicken Tent

The Chickens InsideI can freely admit that I am not an expert in basically anything, but let me give you some advice:  Don’t share your four-hundred square foot anything with a dog, a cat, three hens, and a rooster.  Now, nothing against the chickens, but they are noisy.  And stinky.  And no matter what, the rooster will crow whenever he feels like it, regardless of your sleep schedule.

With temperatures predicted to be about thirty below zero without the wind chill, I decided that the time had come to let the chickens have a nice warm night inside.  Now, keep in mind that the chickens had not ever been inside my cabin.  Nor had Pico ever been separated from them by nothing more than a blanket.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep last night. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cabin Life: The Brown Eggs

Fresh EggsWell, the low temperature last night was still above zero for the first time in a week.  It’s not much, but it’s something to look forward to.  And then tomorrow they’re saying that the highs will be above freezing.  It has been a wild winter so far, weather-wise.

While the rest of the nation was experiencing record cold last week, we were watching the snow melt and the ruts in the driveway disappear.  Then we had bone chilling cold with nasty wind.  So much so that if I didn’t check the chicken coop every hour or so for eggs, the eggs I did find would be frozen and cracked.

One nice development out here at the cabin is that Brownie the chicken has started laying eggs too.  Nice light brown ones that make the egg carton look so pleasant.  With Whitey and Brownie laying now pretty much every day, I’m getting more eggs than I can eat.  At least when I find them unfrozen. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cabin Life: The Wet Firewood

The Little StreamAs is my new custom, I’m sitting at the table looking out the big window at the winter weather, and I’m sweating.  The new stove is amazing, but way too large for my little cabin.  A wealth of heat is not necessarily a bad thing, but having the cabin feel like a too-hot summer is a little disconcerting.

I open one of the windows a little more, since all the windows that can open, are already open.  I’m greeted with sounds that are both welcome and unwelcome at the same time.  The sound of snow and ice dripping off of the roof is nice, but the sound of freezing rain is unpleasant.  I woke to a half-inch of ice covering everything.  I can also hear the small rushing stream out back.  It typically only flows in the spring, but now it sounds like constant traffic.  It’s eerily out of place.

Around noon I went out and started my car.  I wanted to get as much ice off as possible before the second round of sleet and freezing rain began.  It was only a little below freezing, but because it was thick and took me most of an hour with the defroster and an ice scraper.  The radio playing in the car told me to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel, but I was out of beer. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cabin Life: The Chicken Diapers

Midget, aka Little Jerry SeinfeldMy off-grid, simple living, homesteading lifestyle can sometimes lead me and my thoughts down very different roads.  For instance, if you had asked me five years ago, (heck, if you had asked me five months ago) what would be occupying my thoughts this winter, chicken diapers would not have entered my mind.  But here I am, wondering if and where I can get myself some chicken diapers.

Now, I don’t just go around thinking about chicken diapers.  I actually have a very good reason for shopping around for just such a thing.  It turns out that one of my chickens is a rooster.  Poor old Midget, who is no longer so little, started crowing the other day.

I had noticed some odd behavior a few days ago, but thought that maybe she was just being a jerk to Whitey.  I was watching the chickens in their run through the window, and saw Midget jump right on Whitey’s back.  Whitey is the one laying eggs, and maybe Midget was just a little jealous.  Nope, (s)he was horny. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cabin Life: The First Eggs

The First EggsYesterday morning, I let the chickens out into their run, just like I always do.  I sprinkled some food in there and gave them my customary “Hey Ladies!”  I’ve stopped trying to keep them in the run, as they seem to get out now whenever they feel like it.

Even so, I closed the plastic over the opening in the run, and went back inside to have some tea.  Whitey is far and away my most vocal chicken, and she was squawking up a storm.  I looked out to see her relentlessly attacking the plastic covering the opening, and as I watched, she escaped.  But to my surprise, she immediately hopped back into the coop. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cabin Life: The Escapee Chickens

Whitey and MidgetThe chickens have become escape artists.  I don’t know how they figured out the elaborate trap of chicken wire and plastic that comprises the door to the run, but they’ve managed to get out for two days straight.

I don’t mind letting them roam around when I’m around.  But as the weather gets colder and the predators get more desperate for calories, I’m thinking that the door to the run may have to be reconfigured.  It’s sad to admit, but my half-assed door can’t even contain a bunch of literal bird brains.

It is nice to see them out and about in the yard though.  They have thoroughly picked over the spots where the run had been, and have even seem to have found some food left over in those spots.  I like seeing them come running up to the front door when I walk out, or see them flying for twenty or thirty feet.  They appear to be happy and content, and their tail feathers are sticking up higher than ever.  I’m not sure how much I should read into the angle of their feathers, but I heard somewhere that if their tail feathers are up, then they’re happy. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cabin Life: Wrestling With The Dark

Recycled CandlesI currently have twelve independent fires going inside of my cabin.  The one scented candle is making the mixture of burning candles, lamp oil, and spiced apple almost pleasant. Almost.

This time of year is the roughest, psychologically, out here.  When the sun starts to dip before most people eat dinner, it’s tough for me to stay positive.  Especially on a day like today, when it was overcast all day and never really that bright out, the night seems just about unbearably long. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Mouse In The Outhouse

Fall ColorsWinter is approaching, and rather more quickly than I would really like.  Sure, I’ve got the new stove and a shed chock full of dry hardwood, but I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed our summer-like fall.  “They” are calling for snow next week, but we’ll see what happens.

I had an inkling that this was coming anyway.  Yes, I know that it’s October and that it’s a reasonable assumption to think that we’ll be getting snow soon.  But last Friday, I got home from work and opened the front door.  I let Pico and the cats out to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.  But when I went inside the cabin, I found a sight that told me winter was right around the corner. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cabin Life: A Fox On The Road And A Fire In The Stove

The Lower FieldGrowing up, I lived in only two houses.   Both had fireplaces, so fall was always special to me.  From eating roasted pumpkin seeds in front of the fire to cuddling under a blanket and watching a movie while the snow fell outside, we usually had a fire going if we were home for the night.  I miss those days, but I have taken a big step towards making the cabin more like the home of my childhood.

Last week, my new (new to me) stove was delivered and installed.  There’s a shiny new chimney poking up above the peak of the cabin, and gone is the huge black box that was my old woodstove.  Of course, on the day the stove was delivered, it was close to seventy degrees out, so I could not get a fire going right away.  That did not stop me from sitting and staring at the new stove with its nice glass doors, just beckoning me to get a fire going and sit there enjoying the flames for the first time in years. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Locally Grown: The Locavore Challenge

NYLocavoreChallengeLogo“Think you’ve got what it takes to be a true locavore?”  That’s the question posed by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s (NOFA-NY) annual Locavore Challenge.  For the past 4 years, NOFA-NY has sponsored this event in recognition of National Organic Harvest Month, and it’s gaining ground.  If you are a seasoned locavore, or just starting your foray into local eating, the Locavore Challenge has something for you.

What is a locavore, exactly?   At its simplest, the word defines someone who eats locally grown food whenever possible.   How you define “locally grown” is largely a personal decision. When considering where you’d like to purchase your food you must ask yourself what distance you are willing encompass and still feel comfortable calling it “local.”  50 miles? 100 miles?  If you draw a 100-mile radius around your home in, say, Chazy, you are going to include a sizeable chunk of New York, but also decent pieces of Vermont and Canada, possibly violating your own rules to stay within New York or even the United States! » Continue Reading.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cabin Life: Installing A First Solar Panel

The PanelWell, it’s finally happened, I have electricity.  Granted, it’s not much electricity, but it’s a start.  I don’t need enough to run appliances or a whole house, just enough so that my phone and computer don’t go dead, and hopefully a light or two to read by.

A few months ago I got an e-mail from a reader who said he had an old solar panel lying around and didn’t need or want it anymore.  It was mine, he said, if I just came and picked it up.

You never know who you’re meeting through an e-mail, so I was a little wary.  So, fighting the urge to tell everyone where I was going and with whom just in case I didn’t make it back, I drove the little ways to his camp.  I did bring my girlfriend with me, you know, for protection.  » Continue Reading.



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cabin Life: The New Chicken Coop

The GirlsIt’s another beautiful summer night with fall weather.

We had a bit of a milestone out here at the cabin this week.  The chickens are no longer residing in a large box on the porch, but instead are enjoying their new digs and much larger coop.

While it’s not quite done, it is habitable and since there are no building codes or inspections for small wooden boxes, I figured the girls could use the room to stretch their wings. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cabin Life: A Rock in the Garden

The Water BarrelDespite the half inch of snow we got earlier this week, spring is rolling along.  I jerry-rigged a rain barrel, and I like not having to rely on small supply of drinking water to take care of the garden.  The thirty-five gallon barrel has a spigot on it and I set it up right next to the garden.  Unfortunately, I do not yet have the barrel set up properly.  I have a gutter that runs along the front porch, and a five gallon bucket that sits under the end of the gutter.  When we get rain and the bucket fills, I take the bucket a few feet to the barrel and dump the water in the top.  It’s not the best design, but it’s working well.

My tray of seedlings is doing OK, even though I forgot to pull them inside the other night during a frost.  Luckily all the seeds that had sprouted survived, but I have a few trays with nothing growing in them.  The carrots, spinach and tomatoes better get their acts together. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cabin Life: The Tardy Spring

Ice on a cherry logSo far, spring has been a big let down.  There were two robins in the yard this morning, hopefully representing a soon-to-be change in the weather.  Between the upper field and lower field, I’d say about two-thirds of the area is still covered in snow.  In the woods, I can post-hole my legs up to the calf when not wearing snowshoes.  Luckily, the freeze and thaw effect has left a fairly heavy crust on top of the snow, making it a little easier to walk around.

The little path that Pico and I have made to the sugar maples is a safe walk, and I have no problem doing it in sneakers.  I might break through three or four times, but the falls through the crust into the four or five inches of snow don’t seem to matter now.  The end is in sight. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cabin Life: Patiently Waiting for Spring

An Old FenceWell, they say that spring is here, but the eighteen inches of snow on the ground out here says otherwise.  While snowshoeing up in the back of the property, I took an old ax handle and checked the snow depth.  There’s still two feet of snow where the sun doesn’t shine.

I needed a break this week.  The wood stove is once again giving me problems with negative pressure causing smoke to come into the cabin.  I would be a lot more worried about this if it was December or January, but since it’s the end of March, it’s really not bothering me that much.  Obviously, the stove and the chimney need to be replaced, but now is not the time for that. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cabin Life: Reflecting On Winter, And Spring

Wood PileWell, we had a nice March thaw.  I’m not sure it really made things better, but it sure was pleasant to have a couple days of sunshine and warmth.  I was even able to let the fire go out for about thirty-six hours, marking the longest period I’ve gone without a fire in the wood stove since January.

While I enjoyed shoveling in just a shirt with no gloves necessary, I was still a little upset at having to shovel.  Needless to say, I have had more than my fill of shoveling this winter.  The driveway is passable, but not in good shape.  The ruts I made when the snow was soft are now essentially the tracks I have to take to get in and out of the cabin.  I basically have no say in how I get up and down the driveway, but so far, I’ve still been able to drive it.  I don’t mind hiking, but if it can be avoided, it seems silly to hike. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cabin Life: Spring is Near

Melting SnowThere’s a gentle thud as another icicle falls off the roof and lands in the soft, heavy snow on the ground.  It’s not that warm today, but warm enough to sit out on the porch and read for a while.  I needed a winter hat to sit out there, though the sun was warm when it poked out from behind the clouds.

There’s a noticeable difference in the amount of snow on the ground.  It’s not really melting, but it is disappearing.  Almost like the surface of the snow isn’t changing, but just sinking closer and closer to the ground.  The days haven’t been very warm, but we’re starting to get those days when it feels a little humid out.  This is the snow’s way of saying goodbye I presume. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cabin Life: A Crank Radio Companion

Psychologically, I am ready for winter to be over.  I like the snow and the skiing and the trips to the Evening Entertainmentgym that I just can’t justify when it’s nice out, but I would really like some nice warm days to come our way.  Maybe I’m not ready for winter to be completely done, but I could use a February or early March thaw.

I was sitting here reading the other night, when the radio suddenly turned off.  This is a common occurrence, due to the fact that my radio is a “solar” radio.  I put solar in quotes because this is what the radio was advertised as, but it is, in fact a crank/rechargeable radio that happens to have a small solar panel on it.

This past summer I spent a little bit of money getting solar lights and this radio.  Last winter I had used an old digital alarm clock for my radio.  That clock was the same one that’s been waking me up since I was a freshman in high school.  It was a good, old-fashioned plug in clock radio that had a battery backup so that if the power went out, your alarm would still go off.  I went through a lot of nine-volt batteries listening to NCPR last winter, so many that I had to repair the wire harness a few times.  I took that clock radio to the campground last spring and decided to leave it there when I got my new solar radio. » Continue Reading.



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