Edible Landscaping

Have you ever looked at your lawn and though “Yeah- tear that sucker out and fill the yard with squash!”

You have?!  Me too!

It’s something I’ve always been interested, but we’re finally making our dream a reality.  The previous owners of our house brought in truck loads of dirt and covered most of the front yard- they covered the flower beds, the natural rock retaining wall, everything.  Now, two years later, the grass is mostly moss, the lawn is lumpy, and the water drains toward the house.  They also built a retaining wall with store-bought  “wall bricks” (what ARE those things called??) along the edge of the driveway.  Unfortunately, the retaining wall was on top of old wooden edgers, which were quickly decomposing and the whole wall was leaning.

My excellent husband has spent the last few weeks with a shovel and a wheelbarrow- the retaining wall is dismantled and stacked in the backyard, and the sod has slowly been cut out square by square and carted to a compost pile at the edge of the greenbelt in the backyard.  We’ll mix it with the massive piles of leaves left over from Fall, and hopefully have plenty of compost for next year’s garden.  My daughters and I are in charge of picking all the field stones out of the dirt left behind, and then he carts that to a pile in the backyard too.  We’ll use the larger rocks to make pathways or  small walls around the vegetable plots to make raised beds.  Good thing we have lots of dirt!

Our big hope is to have enough finished by our first frost-free day to plant a large garden in the front yard- the date is officially in April.  We’ll have flowers up by the street and vegetables closer to the house.  So far he’s making amazing progress, I am so excited!

Find Humane Groceries Where You Live

You can use WSPA’s search engine to look for humane egg, dairy and meat products at your local grocery stores.  Trader Joe’s ranks highest for meat in my area- I need to go check their prices and see if my family gets to eat hamburgers this summer!

Another good resource is localharvest.org– you can search for local anything, pretty much!  There are local ranches and farms that will sell us lamb, chicken, and beef, but in such large quantities that we could never go through it all in a year with our current meals.  Maybe if I could find someone to split my portion with, then it would be a better fit for my family.

I buy my family’s eggs from a local gal I found through Craigslist.  She has a backyard flock, and sells the surplus eggs for $4.50 a dozen.  We use about 4 dozen a month- yes, they’re comparatively expensive, but they taste fantastic and are a cheaper source of protein than meat.

I teach piano, and one of my students also has a backyard flock- when the girls start laying again in the spring (they don’t have a heat lamp for them, so they took the winter off) we’ll trade eggs for lessons.  I’m excited about that!

Accidental Vegetarian

I’m not a vegetarian.  Really, I’m not.  We just…don’t eat meat all that often.

1)  It’s expensive!

2)  I’m really, really rotten at cooking big pieces of meat.  Honestly.

3)  For me, it’s complicated.  Purchase the meat- what kind?   What cut?  Package and freeze it (don’t want our roast frozen to a bloody diaper now, do we?)  Thaw the meat, season the meat, cook the meat, check for the right temperature, let it rest, try and find someone who knows how to cut it up… it’s just complicated.

4)  I can’t feel good about buying cheap meat- how was that animal treated to merit such an amazing price sticker?  Maybe if I visit a CAFO and see happy cows, I’ll change my mind.

5)  I just can’t feel good about buying meat from animals who have been grotesquely modified.  Have you seen the size of the Costco frozen chicken breasts?  Yeeminy Christmas, those poor birds probably couldn’t even stand up by the time they reached slaughter weight.  (You know about turkeys, right?  The big ones we buy for Thanksgiving?  Those poor birds have been bred so fat they can’t walk.  They have to be artificially inseminated. Poor things.)

This decision alone saves our family hundreds in grocery bills.  We currently spend $180-$300 a month to feed 2 adults and two small children.  Among my friends with similar demographics, they spend $400-$800 a month on groceries.

Welcome to a DIY Kind of Life

This site is dedicated to chronicling my family’s journey to a crunchy, do it yourself kind of life.

Take a look around you and say “I can do that!”

You’ll go pretty far.