It's true. I hit about four big box stores before I finally found what I was looking for: free wooden pallets. I scored six of them, almost perfect for a two-section compost bin, so we can have one "active" section where we throw all our scraps, and one section that's "cooking" all those scraps and other things into the black gold the garden loves. And for all that, I was very excited yesterday.
The reason for my seemingly silly elation is because during this transition time of moving from one house to another and dealing with the structural problems we've discovered in our "new" house, we haven't had our compost bin and weren't able to plant much of a garden (we have 13 tomato plants, pumpkin seedlings, and a handful of herbs this year). For most of our almost ten years of marriage, we've had a garden, recycled, and have composted. For the past couple years, I've been making my own yogurt and milling my own flour for baking. This stems from both a desire and necessity to save money and more importantly, a belief that we have a responsibility to care for the earth God created. But about a year ago, we wanted to take it a step further.
The opportunity to buy Green Acres came to us rather serendipitously. Although we were planning on turning our postage-stamp downtown yard into an urban garden, complete with a movable chicken coop, we really desired a bit of acreage so we could produce more of our own food and depend even less on the industrial food system that's depleted the health and wealth of America over the past several decades. In April of 2009, Byron happened to run into the owner of Green Acres (no, he wasn't aware of our little nickname for his place), and he expressed a possible interest in selling at some point. So we went home expecting a call from him like a week later.
The call didn't come for months and months. In the meantime, we gave up that hope and were content to stay in our little downtown home. We planted, composted, and spent a very busy two weeks making maple syrup from the maple tree in our front yard (it looked like a cyborg tree with the milk jugs attached to it and elicited many curious stares from neighbors and passers-by alike). We lived in a beautiful area and were blessed with a nice house and proximity to local foods and farms. And I believe that due to our insistence on eating minimally processed food, we rarely shadowed the door of the doctor's office.
And suddenly, in April of this year, we were sitting in a lawyer's office, signing lots of papers so we could move onto 5.5 acres of land, live in the house Byron's great-grandparents built, and move back to the community we'd left three years prior. We've reconnected with old friends and locals who can remember throwing hay into the loft of our barn with Byron's great-granddaddy. In a big way, it was like coming home.
Despite our discovery of termite damage and the temporary lack of floors in two of our downstairs rooms, and despite waiting for a closing date on the house we're selling, God is good and we have many grand plans for living sustainably. The other day I drew up plans for a portable chicken coop. We have 13 tomato plants, which is better than zero. We have a barn that can someday house a milk cow. I have my grain mill and plan on researching growing my own wheat. Byron is the proud caretaker of a Ford 8N tractor. We want to plant berries and fruit trees this fall; though that will be an initial investment, the last time I checked, a bag of apples was $4-$5. And I scored free pallets at a big box store. I knew those places were good for something.
This really is a brief overview of why we do what we do, and I plan on posting more on gardening, milling grains, and eventually owning chickens and a cow. Though our beginnings are humble, our hope is to inspire people to take steps - big or small - in living more sustainably.