The weekend in pictures

View from inside

Originally uploaded by espring4224

It’s been a beautiful July 4th weekend. The pergola was finished this week, and it’s a joy to have the shades up and not be panting from the heat in the living room. It extends the living space outdoors and dapples the room with shade reminiscent of my favorite forests. My parents and grandma came for pergola viewing and dinner – grilled local sausages – and it was  a really pleasant evening.

I’ve been pretty busy this weekend; I planted some impatiens, black-eyed Susans, and peppers in the rock-walled bed underneath. I transplanted seven gray dogwood shrubs to our berm from the yard of someone who is trying to keep them out of her prairie (Thanks, D!). My handy-with-all-yard-things neighbor mowed and plowed under 1200 square feet in the back yard, creating my wheat field. (See more pics.) For now, I’ve planted most of it in a mix of rye, alfalfa, and radishes, and one section is done in field peas. Probably won’t harvest anything from this area – the crops are to add organic matter, crowd out weeds, break up the hardpan, and bring nutrients up from the subsoil. It’ll get winter wheat in October

Or maybe not; turns out he and his dad grow wheat and oats, and I can buy chem-free grains directly from them. Some things really are more efficiently grown at scale like that. But I think I will still put in some wheat, if only to see what it’s like to do all that harvesting by hand with a sickle and thresh it by hand (or foot, as the case may be). They also have nine horses, and therefore an abundant supply of manure, to which I am welcome. They’ll even use the tractor to load my truck. Perfect, because I’m planning on trying sheet mulching for another big garden area, and I need a bunch of manure for that. Maybe next weekend…

Talking with my neighbor really made me shift my thinking. We will never be self-sufficient on an acre and a half; even if we could grow food for 2, we’d never be able to grow heating and cooking fuel. They have 160 acres, parts in a well-managed woodlot, parts tilled, and parts swamp and wild – they are set up for self-sufficiency. But they are also well set-up to be one node of a self-sufficient neighborhood, and really, that’s the goal. As gas becomes more expensive, you’re going to want to meet all your needs within walking or biking distance. So, step 1, reduce your needs, and step 2, divvy up the work and resource production so everyone has something to contribute and barter.

Hmm, maybe instead of wheat, I should try sunflowers…DIY biodiesel, anyone?



  1. TeacherPatti said,

    July 7, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Since we live in the city, we’d have to be part of a self-sufficient neighborhood (you will see our backyard on Saturday, and it’s obvious it wouldn’t feed two of us!!) I’d love to have a bartering system set up in some type of community.

    The only thing that really scares me about having to get stuff close to home is the idea of getting medicines. No one has really talked about this yet. My husband is a Type One diabetic, and if the insulin stops coming, he dies. I have a disability myself and if my medicine stopped coming, I could feasibly die. This is something that I spend too much time thinking/fussing about….

  2. Michelle said,

    July 19, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Your pergola sounds beautiful. I love the pic.

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