Posts Tagged ‘Resourcefulness’
I know that I have mentioned a few times that we are building a home for ourselves. Usually in Ireland when someone self-builds it either means hiring a contractor to organise the job and supply all the labour or hiring all the builders, carpenters, roofers etc yourself.
Well, we don’t usually do things the “normal” way and building our home is no different! We are doing it by ourselves, with a little help from our friends. We also have not taken the mortgage route, preferring to save the money and buy or salvage materials as we go along. Of course this does mean that we are moving slowly and the build is taking some time.
Right now we want to get the roof on and that is what we have been concentrating on this summer. We have put up most of the wall framing posts and the ridgeboard for the roof. We are using purlins which are like ridgeborads and do basically the same work – they help to hold up the rafters. The purlins run parallel to the ridgeboard, either side of the ridge equidistant from the outside walls and the ridge and they act to cut the rafter span in half.
Currently we are putting up the northern purlins and rafters. We have five rafters up and are hoping to get a few more up today. The building space is beginning to feel like a house now. For the last year we have had the floor platform up and covered with the floorboards. We have sometimes used the space as a platform for gathering with friends to drum, I have often brought up a garden chair and sat there with a coffee and a book.
Now that we have most of the wall frames up and we are putting up rafters we can feel the shape of the rooms and it is all becoming a little bit more real. It is great to look up now and really see where the roof is going. There are ways in which the slowness of the build is frustrating and there are ways in which the slowness is an advantage.
We are getting to really feel our home become real and we have the time to change wee things as we go along, make adjustments, see where the evening sun shines in, where the summer breezes come from. We will really appreciate it when the house is finished enough for us to move in – everyone says don’t move in until it is finished however our current home is becoming way too small and cluttered and is getting ready to fall apart – it was old when we bought it and really shouldn’t even have lasted as long as it has! We have been reluctant to put any time or money into repairing it as we really need to be concentrating on our new home so I think that as soon as we can we will be moving into the new house.
I am getting a bit ahead of myself though, the moving time is quite some while away yet, today we need to concentrate on getting a few more rafters up…
I was horrified to read this report, on the Organic Consumers website, about Monsanto being involved in Haiti. Anyone who is a regular visitor to this blog knows that there is no love lost between me and Monsanto. I have long had a strong disrespect for this company and their bullying tactics to further their aims in spreading the use of gm crops and increasing their profit line.
Haiti is a country that once had a self sustaining agricultural industry and I am not talking about hundreds of years ago, until relatively recently there was a thriving agricultural economy in Haiti. For more info on this please check out this link.
Obviously Haitians are now vulnerable and really need to get food growing again as soon as possible. If you do a google search on “sustainable agriculture in Haiti” you will find that there are a lot of projects underway to encourage sustainable agricultural industry there.
The hybrid seeds being supplied will produce crops that will not produce viable seed – the Haitian farmers will be unable to save seeds and go on planting as farmers have done for generations, they will be forced to buy seed every year!
I find it insidious that Monsanto are moving to get a grip on Haiti’s agricultural future and the fact that they are being aided by the USAID is reprehensible.
This is being funded by American taxpayers – whether or not they want to fund Monsanto Americans’ hard earned tax dollars are helping this genetic giant to undermine an already vunerable country. USAID is a tax-payer funded agency that promotes the United States’ interests abroad.
Please read the report about Monsantos involvement and if you live in the States and you are unhappy about this situation please think about taking some action here.
If you don’t live in the States and still want to take some action then look at the end of the page and click on the link for international supporters.
That’s my tirade over for the moment, thanks for reading
Today is Blog Action Day and this year - yip, apparently it’s a yearly event where bloggers are asked to all write about a particular social issue in order to help raise awareness, I must have missed it last year – I digress, this year it’s to highlight climate change and encourage people to increase their awareness and increase action for change.
I wondered what deep and meaningful essay I could write and decided instead to do a simple list of things that are easy to do – and therefore more likely to happen and may even save you money.
Starting with the obvious energy savers:
* Unplug your power cubes! You know the little boxes that are used to charge phones, laptops, torches, rechargeable this, that and the other…
It is not enough to unplug your device from the end of the cable, you need to unplug the charger or switch it off at the wall socket. The cube does continue to use power all the time that it is connected to the wall socket even though it is not actually charging anything.
* Change your light bulbs for energy saving bulbs. I know that they cost more although they are a lot cheaper now than some years ago. If you are on a tight budget like me then you might like to change over each bulb as the old one blows and needs replacing anyway.
The energy saving bulbs use about 80% less energy and also last a lot longer. However you still cannot use these bulbs with dimmer switches so perhaps just switch to a lower wattage incandescent bulb for your dimmer appliances. Some shops are selling energy savers which claim to be suitable for dimmers – I have been advised that they still keep blowing so don’t waste your money on them, wait for another year or so and they may have improved.
* Do switch off your tv, computers and anything else that “sleeps” or goes into stand-by mode. Unless you absolutely need to have the clock on your microwave or oven tell you the time then switch these appliances off at the wall too when not in use. I don’t know many people who actually use their oven timers anyway. Appliances on stand-by do continue to use power all the time that they are plugged in even when they are doing nothing.
* Clean your fridge regularly and keep your freezer clear of ice (other than cubes obviously) and as full as you can, it will be more efficient that way.
* Barter, swap or buy a multi-pot steamer and a pressure cooker, save energy while you are cooking.
* Eat fresh food in season and buy local. You help local producers, reduce food miles and get fresher food. Remember that some EU states such as Holland irradiate all of the fresh veg that they export!
* Support Irish dairy products instead of imported, buy organic if you can. If you can’t afford organic it is good to know that Irish non-organic yoghurt is still most likely healthier than European produced organic yoghurt.
Its not just about price or about buying local when it comes to dairy products. For me it’s because I have seen a map of Europe with all the active incinerators marked on the map, in fact I helped to create the map and it scared the cr*p out of me.
Incinerators produce dioxins which are belched out with the smoke, yes, even with chimney scrubbers, they spread for about 20kms, dioxins end up on the land, the cattle eat the grass and silage, the dioxins intensify as they move up the food chain stored in fatty tissue and milk – you get the picture.
* Ask your local shops what their stance is on selling products containing GM food stuffs. Write to their head offices too if you can. Consumer pressure does work, it may take some time to see the effects, don’t give up!
* If you have the space and the time why not grow some food? You can grow strawberries in hanging baskets by your window or door in you live in a flat or apartment without a garden.
* Gardening without a garden? Join your local community garden. If there isn’t one get some people together and start a project, see what’s involved in setting one up yourselves, lots of helpful websites out there – just google community gardens and start reading, digging, growing, eating – yummy!
* Feeling adventurous? Why not learn to build your own wind turbine? It’s really not as hard as it sounds, is good fun, you learn lots of skills and when you build one for yourself you will get an enormous amount of satisfaction as you watch it spin and generate power for you. You definitely need a garden for this project though
* Sign up with social justice websites like Avaaz You can do a lot of good by simply adding you name to petitions as they come into your email inbox, I think of it as armchair campaigning!
* Check out Skill Swap. A site where you can barter your skills and receive the benefits of other people’s skills.
* Check out Hopenhagen - it’s all about changing the Climate Change World Conference in Copenhagen into an event of Hope – it will make more sense when you read the site and please sign up
* Another site for global change is Oxfam - in their own words “As more and more people join the campaign, our voice will become louder and stronger and impossible to ignore. It is time for real action on climate change.”
* Here’s another one – a site you can sign up to and by doing so help to change things – Time for Climate Justice
I just love armchair campaigning If you have more ideas to share please let us know in the comments.
Making a change with a flick of a mouse or keyboard…
Go forth and promote change… Don’t forget to smell the flowers along the way…
We were just talking yesterday about how great our small fridge is. I expect that most Irish people take their fridges and freezers for granted and would not even consider living without one although as a nation we are not very far removed from living without them.
Rural electrification only happened in the sixties for most but not all of rural Ireland. I remember, as a child, visiting relatives (often elderly) living on small farms in the country who did not have indoor plumbing, never mind fridges.
I didn’t think that there was anything unusual about this because I grew up visiting these families and always enjoyed my visits. For me the excitement of being involved with farm animals was my main priority.
Nowadays we even have small fridges plugged into our cars for picnics and camping trips – haven’t we come a long way?
We have a small hand-me-down fridge which has no ice compartment and is relatively quiet in operation. It is only ever plugged in and switched on during the summer time.
The main reason that we don’t switch on the fridge in the winter time is that we don’t have as much power coming in from our Photovoltaic panels during the shorter winter days as we do in the “longer day seasons”.
When we finish the wind turbine we will have more power coming in, however we have enough to do us at the moment and our main priority is house-building right now. It’s more important to us to spend our time working on the house at the moment, we want to get as much building work done as possible before the winter hits.
For us it’s not so much that we don’t have enough power in the winter, it’s more a case of how we chose to use that power, what electrical needs we want to meet.
We live in a mobile home which doesn’t have an insulated floor so we utilise this cold floor space in the lower cupboards as a storage space for some food items. For example we don’t often use cows milk, we prefer for a number of reasons to use soya milk – organic when possible and non-gmo of course. We buy the milk by the box of ten cartons and we store these in the cold floor cupboard.
I guess we use this cupboard like an old fashioned pantry. We store the soya milk, fruit juice and number of other items that are best stored at colder temperatures.
Because we live in a uninsulated building we do use the stove to keep ourselves warm in the winter. We have found that by using the fridge as a cold box we can keep all of our perishable food at a much lower temperature than room temperature so that is where we store cheeses, left-over dinners, butter etc.
In fact pretty much everything that we keep in the fridge when it is switched on is also kept there over the winter when it is switched off. This system does require utilising a small door stopper to prevent the fridge becoming a little
whiffy. Other than that we have had no problem with our system of going
One advantage of having no freezer is that we need to eat ice-cream as soon as it comes in the door! We have no problem with doing that either…
Tonight’s dinner was an unqualified success and an unexpected one at that!
We were working on our house project during the day and I had been planning what to cook as I worked – I was thinking lentil burgers, because I knew we had a few eggs and some cheese, accompanied by a Mexican style rice.
When we came in for our coffee break and I put the espresso pot on the gas cooker I realised that we were running out of gas and wouldn’t have enough for cooking dinner.
Luckily we had a good bright day and received a good deal of electrical energy from the sun today – yahoo for photovoltaics!
As we were now going to use the new induction hot plate I decided to do couscous instead of rice and shorten the cooking time.
I put puy lentils on the hotplate to cook with a small handful of porridge oats and some tumeric for flavour. When this was cooked I mixed in a couple of eggs, some pine nuts, grated cheese and a few spoons of gram flour.
We were making this up as we went along! We just added enough gram flour until it looked nice and gloopy, we then decided against burgers and thought about cooking flatbread style.
Enter our old reliable cast iron pan and our new fangled induction hotplate.
What a wonderful combination of old and new. Induction cookers work on magnetism, you have to use a cooking pan which is magnetically active so old fashioned cast iron pots are just the job.
When you lift the pot the cooker stops working, the hot plate only heats the metal that is in touch with it so a small pot only activates a small part of the hotplate – wasting no excess energy.
I love the idea of cooking with magnetism because we use magnets to make the alternator in our wind turbine.
I always loved playing with magnets as a child and I love that I still play them!
The lentil dinner was real tasty too!