Our farm began in an old house on two-thirds of an acre backing to the fairgrounds in a small, country town that will remain beloved to us for all time. There on our rented mini-farm we watched goats, chickens, alpacas, and ducks play in the back yard, grew so many pumpkins in the front yard that people speeding down the street slammed on their brakes to take a better look, and we farmed the rest of the driveway. We fell in love with oil lamps in that house. The sweet glow of old fashioned light as we read in the evenings. The gentle tick-tocking from the cuckoo clock on the wall letting us know the time as the stars came out and the moon rose.
The landlords were losing the house but we found an amazing farm on ten acres where we would live in a late eighteen-hundred’s homestead on the property near the owner’s own house. We had a wood cook stove to heat the house and cook on. For a few months in the warm autumn of that year the world looked enchanted indeed. We plotted a large garden, and gathered three cords of wood. The chickens and goats were far from the house and we missed seeing them. That winter we mastered the art of starting a fire while the house was thirty-seven degrees. We quickly realized that the small firebox was not going to help and put in a large wood stove with our own money. Of course, many of you know the ending of that dreadful tale. We were forced to leave after putting every penny into that farm.
So from friend’s house to friend’s house we went until we had enough saved to get into a beautiful, decidedly on-grid apartment. That year was fun using a switch to turn on the fireplace, turning the heat up, basking in a large tub. But the cement gets to a Farmgirl and it was time to see what was next. Agricultural land was out of the question with the loan we qualified for.
We found our homestead on the south side of a big-small town. It’s big, but everywhere you go you see folks you know and I have never met friendlier people than here in Pueblo. One third of an acre, an adobe shed with seven foot fencing made a fine chicken yard, wood floors for easy cleanup on what we knew would be our urban farm, and a wood stove held prominent position in the main room. A root cellar holds hundreds of jars and the climate here allows for prolific gardening. And dreaming.
The large grandfather clock keeps time, ticking regally and alerting us to each quarter hour and moon cycle. The wood stove heats the house well, save for the back bedrooms. We are constantly looking for ways to increase our sustainability. How can we use less? How can we spend less? How can we show the beautiful earth that we are grateful? And in return for our simplicity we find a peaceful existence of health and quiet joy.
In the city, it is nearly impossible to be off the grid. One can easily find one’s home condemned if attempted. Composting toilets are against code. City water is a given. But there are still things we can do. For us, the next step was solar power. On that first farm, it would have been impossibly expensive (particularly for a rented home), but here on our very own home and in this time, it is absolutely practical and affordable. In fact, it cost us nothing.
The solar company comes out and surveys your property, sees about light hitting the roof, and local zoning. With a credit score of 650+ you get a loan for the amount of the solar panels, which was about $10,000. $3000 is rebated back to you on your taxes. We put nothing down. The loan amount is the very same that we pay for electric every month so there is no change for us. My neighbor’s electric bill is three times higher than ours, so she would save much, much more. We pay a slight $8 charge to our utility company to “manage” our electricity. Once the panels are paid off, we only pay the $8. Our home value goes up as well. The solar panels are flat against the roof and hardly noticeable at all.
I have written many times how all of us really need to use less. Wind energy is so destructive. Obviously the power we have been creating with fracking and coal is detrimental. Solar panels never decompose. We can’t keep going on about the government and big oil. We cannot stand around with our “Save the Earth” signs and not do something ourselves. Solar was a great way for us to use considerably less resources, save thousands of trees, the equivalent of taking thousands of cars off the road, and using Father Sun for our power “needs.” (I guess refrigeration and internet are fun.) And it is completely accessible.
If you are in Colorado, call Peak View Solar. Everyone was so friendly and easy to work with. Elisa Harrelson, 719-387-7232. They have a referral program so mention us when you call! It will help me get my greenhouse going!
Other things you can do to help save resources:
Eliminate animal products from your diet.
Grow a huge garden, community garden, or support local farmers.
Drive less- get a bicycle!
Don’t buy crap. You know you don’t need that. Put it back and save the money for seeds!
A wood stove is carbon neutral.
Preserve your own food.
Go for a walk. The more you are in nature, the more inclined you will be to not hurt her.
Be grateful for life. Indeed we are lucky to be alive this day. Happy farming!