I'm a Canadian woman living in an off-grid tiny house on a small organic orchard farm in Nova Scotia, always aspiring to a "better"- more conscious, ecological, and organic- life.
I blog to keep my family and friends up to date; to share things I've learned and discovered with difficulty so that hopefully, it will help others who internet research to proceed with less difficulty; to maintain a practice of writing; and to create an illustrated journal of the arc of my life. I try to post every second day.
I write about my garden, my travels, Iceland, my chickens, dog, bees and other pets, books I read, and stuff that I build and make.
My husband is passionate about bicycling and he sometimes pipes up with stories about bikes and bicycling.
Sometimes I swear.
You can follow on Facebook too, but all I ever do there is put up my blog posts.
Every year, there’s that time in August when everyone you know asks if you can use any more zucchini, and then lays one on you the size of two footballs. We did not plant any zukes this year, leaving command of the garden to various squash, which preserve better.
I forgot to take a picture until after using 2/3 of the largest one (seen cut), and a preceding zucchini equalling that size, which has already been turned into muffins. Muffins are my preferred method of making zucchini edible. You can’t hide something that size in a salad. Production is well into the hundreds of muffins made so far, many of which enjoy freezer cryostasis atm. While plundering local egg resources, I’ve also been using up lots of old rye flour and cocoa in the same swoop – how I accumulated so much cocoa powder is a mystery.
This is the best zucchini muffin recipe I’ve found. Note- high zucchini to egg ratio, and you can get more zucchini in there than it calls for, too. Easy combining – I prefer “throw it all in a bowl” instructions to mincing around with delicate arcane techniques like “sifting” and “folding”. Folding is for bath towels! And very flexible. Have added sunflower seeds, pine nuts, cocoa, coconut, oil vs butter, fake eggs, dates, milk, apples, and almonds as they came to hand, and the muffins still work.
This is my favorite way to eat tomatoes, en masse! Wedged, drenched (or is that, “dredged”?) in fresh ground black pepper and swept with sea salt. Meow! Definitely can’t stop at just one. Like spoonfuls of creamed honey direct from the bucket when I was little, I can go through tomatoes like this until I feel ill.
Today my big mission, considering my current limitations, was staking the late tomatoes- the second round of starts that are just showing their first fruits. I gave the early tomates some love too- doses of organic fertilizer all around.
Most of my tomatoes are in pots but the one with free roots in the garden is eNORMous, with over a dozen thick stems loaded with giant fruit.
I wasn’t fast enough with the camera, but I watched a happy jay pull a peanut out of a tomato pot I hadn’t reached yet. I hope he was surprised as I was. There were no peanuts in there when I planted! Mayhap the jay was plundering a squirrel stash.
Leaning on a driftwood log as I sit on the rocks in a small cove of ocean-coloured Lake Minnewanka. There’s a hell of a breeze and the sun has already dropped below the mountains, so I’m a little cold, barelegged, but I have my hoodie. There’s a wader minding his own business ankle deep in the water’s edge, and I just got circled twice by a suspicious ground squirrel at close range- plump and bouncy with his racing stripe and black-eyed stare. Continue reading My brush with furred fame→
Living conscionably has to start right now. It’s nice to imagine a future life off-grid without flush toilets, and wearing the homespun wool of ethically raised squirrels, but generating mountains of garbage and emissions on the way from here to there is not ok.
Although I’m still mostly flat, especially since my physio got too ambitious and set me back a week, I’ve been planning, listing, and mapping the next few weeks, aka The Great Divesting. There’s a could-be-considered-gargantuan amount of sorting to be done, with some areas of the house gnarlier than others (basement!). I think I’m going to tone down the scariness of it by getting a storage space temporarily. Then the micro-sorting of stuff like papers and fabrics can be delayed until our time of homelessness. Who wants to be sifting tax-deductible receipts when there’s a whole house to get thru yet?
Work proceeds on getting the Farm in the Forest. The seller is very nice and honest and currently on the other side of the world, so every evening I watch breathlessly for the latest email coming in from an opposite time zone.
I’ve spent a remarkable amount of time on the phone and confuser, talking to lawyers, researching the place, the community, the resources (3 CSAs in Nova Scotia), local bloggers, negatives, planning, water testing, moving options…
So last night, “out of the blue”, like all real magic, we found a “Organic Farm in a Forest” listed on Craigslist. Ridiculously cheap, by BC standards, for 20 acres of neglected orchard and agricultural land, old farm buildings in unknown condition, in… Nova Scotia. Seeing as I was born in Newfoundland and get breathy talking about Halifax, it’s not like I’m considering buying lunar real estate sight unseen, but….close.
To say suddenly moving to Nova Scotia is HUGE is understating it a bit. I’ve been running up and down the Pacific coast for roughly 18 years now- to leave the mountains for the Atlantic is breathtaking, and totally exciting. New province, new politics, new everything. Especially to choose it over 24 hours, seeing only a sketch and google earth.
The biggest goal of my life right now is health. Turns out “health” is a very complex concept. I want physical, financial, spiritual, mental health for myself, but seeing as I’m one organism in a giant ecosystem, that includes all species, and all beings, and all humans on this planet, then my health is inextricably linked to the health of the whole planet. Racial violence, and war, and starvation, and habitat destruction, and species extinction- these are monumental tragedies and we are aware of that pain in our subtle bodies whether or not we wallow in news, or recycle, or grow organic gardens. Try as we might, we are not insulated from any of it.
I think the pervasive toxins and mega-germs and new strains of pests that get new names and chatted up in the media are a physical manifestation, or symbol, of this fact that we’ve collectively ignored for too long- that we share everything. Can’t be ignored any more. Can’t run to the hills, it rains acid there too. Germs circulate the world, we breathe each others’ air, we ingest each others’ garbage. An individual cannot hide from the whole. The “everything” we notice we’re sharing tends to be bad, but joy, ecstasy, and prayer also circle the world and affect everyone, positively.
Well, we cant say no one warned us. The verdict on small-scale farming is unanimous-”it’s F-ing hard work”.
Everyone says they had rose-coloured visions of gazing at the sun-dappled pasture over the cooling jewel-coloured jelly jars, crafting, painting, reading…and the reality involves vomiting goats and falling into bed with brutalized muscles.
But, (you couldn’t see this coming)I want to do it anyway, and insist that “it’s gonna be different.” I’m not yet 40; I make no claim to wisdom.
For me, leisure is a strong enough imperative now that I just might have the fortitude to safeguard it. I’ve long thought of myself as a lazy person trapped in the body of an incredibly energetic and effective person. I privately long to live like a cat, and I fantasize rapturously about sleep.
However, I now believe the trapped personality is a creative one, and creativity requires fallow time. 14% fallow time, by all accounts. For that, I’m long, long overdue.
My primary focus of five years was improving a house to sell, working a real job, and trying to borrow enough money to keep working on house (rinse and repeat). Continue reading Fools Rushing In→
I’ve just finished a five year project restoring a derelict house to urban desirability, and sold it. I made some money on the sale; which I am grateful for, which gives me choices.
These are my options for my sale proceeds, the way I see it:
a. fire proof safe
c. buy property
Only c seems intelligent.
I was planning my version of a caution-to-the-wind pleasure blitz, while we still have oil-soaked infrastructure fabric (an extensive BC camping/hiking tour, a trip to see Cuban sustainability initiatives, a healing retreat, a slow and thorough cross-Canada scamp on wheels), but I find that when the moment comes, it doesn’t feel right to bank the cash and have a good time. Continue reading Stumbling towards sustainable→