“Do you get lonely?”

I asked my friends on Facebook for inspiration for a blog post. We have transitioned to the life we are living very slowly. It took us about 5 years from reading a book about farming in Vermont (while living in a very dense, downtown area), to where we are today. This question was raised by a dear friend from my previous life, back when I was in college.

I chose to answer this question first because I remember looking at pictures of land and houses back then, and craving the sense of peacefulness those pictures evoked.

The pictures I share on social media are close to reality, they depict the essence of our life pretty accurately. But as the normal social media consumer, I do not share every details about my life. Mainly for privacy concerns, but also because I often assume that some aspects of rural life/my life is so obvious, that I tend to not share those aspects. Like how to stack wood, how to split wood, how to cook on a wood-stove. It has become second nature.

IMG_0770Picture from our main window, something I would share on social media.

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Picture from our side window, that I would probably not share on social media. We have neighbors! And a road a few yards from our house.

 

 

We have reached a routine that only seem relevant to mention when friends from a previous life or when family visit us.

So, back to the main question: “Do you get lonely?” My honest answer is “sometimes, I wish I was”. Sometimes, I wish we lived in an even more remote area, in an even smaller house. Sometimes I wish I could live in those pictures you find online when you type “off-grid living”. Sometimes, I google picture of off-grid living, and want to just escape from our life.

Our life hasn’t changed that much since moving here.
We both have a job, we have a child that attends the public preschool, and we volunteer whenever we can. I am the librarian in our little town, which means that I interact with a lot of people, even on days when I don’t feel like talking to people. Off-grid living doesn’t mean I am not connected to my community. I am still paying property taxes, I am still very much connected to my neighbors.

I have actually never felt so connected and not-lonely in my life. I am friends with people of all ages, of very different backgrounds. I am friends with people I would have never associated myself in the past. Being physically close to people, but far from other communities tend to bring us closer together. We all have something in common: we love this place we call home, and we work together to make it better. And sometimes, that is enough to forget our differences.

Freedom Rangers

Hi all,

We have a few extra meat birds (around 12) for sale. We will process them in two weeks, early September. They are Freedom Rangers, fed 100% organic feed from Green Mountain Feeds (local and organic). They are also free-ranging every day, on .05 acres. We do have fence, but it’s mainly to keep bears and foxes out. We thoroughly clean the coop every week (no deep litter, everything is cleaned out and new straw is provided). $5.5/lb (around $27.5/bird depending on how much they will weight once processed), $6 if you want it custom cut. Delivered to your house.

These birds are smaller than the one in the store, but at the end of their life, they are still able to run (and Robin makes sure he chases them around every day), and they don’t die from a heart attack.

You are welcome to come and see them before we process them, we have toys outside for little ones, and I can do a storytime and a hands-on activity (looking for eggs in the chicken coop, getting close and learning about chickens, etc.) with preschoolers.

Billings Farm

We’ve been going to Billings Farm a lot with Robin. He loves animals and can spend hours petting them. He also tries to kiss the cows, but they don’t seem to be interested.

We love Billings Farm, it’s such a great museum of Vermont’s past. We are definitely in the right place for what we want our lives to be.

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Hanging out in the garden

Spring is awesome, and the garden is looking great this year. Green beans, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, asparagus, rhubarb, blueberries, peas, corn, and cucumbers.

The house looks so pretty from the backyard, we are so lucky to live in such an amazing place. Ben started to look for wood around the house to start stacking for the winter. I can’t believe we are already thinking of next winter…

Chicken laws

I compiled a list of chicken laws for big cities in the US. All the states should be represented, and if you city is not on the list, feel free to go on municode.com and check out the law about keeping chicken in your backyard. This list was compiled in 2011, so it is up-to-date. However, before buying chickens, make sure you double check, ordinances change fast.

So here it is :

chicken laws

Cloth Diapers

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We had a new addition to our family. Actually, the first addition. Anyway, we started with disposable diapers and wow… just wow. Every time I put one in the trash, I cringe. A baby use an average of 2000 diapers per year, so around 6000 until they are potty trained. Six… thousands !!! The price per diaper is around 27 cents (7th generation or Pampers), which adds up to around $1600. Then to that, you add the price of wipes. If you use one wipe which average at $.06/wipe, it adds up at around $300. If you only use one per diaper change…
Cloth diapers is way less expensive on the long run, around $400 for 20 diapers. Add $50 for 40 organic wipes made from hemp. The disadvantage is that you need to spend the money right away, instead of buying a few diapers per week.
But just imagining that pile of 6000 diapers in the landfill makes me angry with myself, because I can avoid making that pile.
There are a lot of good cloth diapers out there. I tried the Little Beetle cloth diapers, and they make a good job. But the cloth diaper and the cover make it really big and interfere with my baby’s movements. I therefore use them during the night.

A couple of months ago, I bought a really good sewing machine. So why not put it to good use. Cloth diapers have been made and used for centuries, and looking at the Little Beetle, cloth diapers looks pretty straight forward.
You will need to find some waterproof fabric, PUL seems to be the most popular choice. Hancock Fabrics carries it sometimes, otherwise, verybaby.com has a good selection of cloth diaper fabrics. They also have patterns if you want to follow instructions. Otherwise, just take a regular disposable diaper and try to figure how they build it. If you want a free pattern, I can send you mine, just comment on this post.

One diaper will end up costing you around $5 for an All-in-One (no need for covers), and around $.60 per wipes if you choose organic fabric.

All-in-one are a good option during the day. You will want to have a mix of all-in-one, and diapers with separate covers, which I use during the night. They are bigger but are more absorbent.
Also, regular diapers are really easy to make, you can make a dozen in a few hours. Same thing for the covers.
The all-in-one is a little bit more tricky, but if you are patient enough and don’t mind trying it a few times. I strongly suggest experiencing on cheap fabric first.

Good luck !

Raising Chickens

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If you are serious about making the most out of your land, chickens are a good way to introduce animals into your urban paradise. A lot of cities across the US allows citizens to have chickens in their backyard.

A while back, when we were contemplating the idea of having animals on our small land (.15 acres total), chickens seemed like a good idea. But was our backyard big enough ? Would it take a lot of our time ?

Pros:

– they require very little time per week. Around 1 hour total (for 6 chickens).

– they are good “composter”: they poop, they scratch (just move them on your gardening patch once harvesting season is over), they eat almost anything.

– they take almost no space.

– they are docile creature, thus making them perfect if you have kids around.

– they provide eggs and meat. And eggs… and eggs… lots of them.

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– Did I mention eggs ?

Cons:

– during winter, you’ll need to change the water daily. Same thing during the hot days of summer.

– you’ll chase them a few time across your garden (and in the street if you aren’t lucky) until you found all those little places where they can fly over or crawl under. It took us a while to catch them in the act of jumping on the apple tree, then jumping on the fence to go and see what the neighborhood looked like. We thought they were crawling under the fence…

– you’ll get attach to them, and have a harder time eating meat than before.  Is that a con ?