Great People Searching for Sustainability!

 

Our good friends Geo and Andria agreed to answer some questions about what they think about what we want to do. Take a read…Geo+Andria2

We are Geo and Andria! We met Eva and her family and have been helping out with various projects on their property.

We spent the last year travelling and volunteering with Permaculture projects in S.E Asia, learning low input methods of providing oneself with food and shelter. We currently are living and working on an organic farm and continuing our re-education.

What sustainable initiatives are being taken in the Shuswap area?

As for sustainable initiatives in the Shuswap….I’m not sure we’ve seen any! Sustainability is a word which needs to be more rigorously defined. For example, if a delivery truck is running on reclaimed cooking oil/ bio-diesel, many would eagerly classify that service as sustainable. To look at the practice more closely, one must identify that the cooking oil was itself transported to the restaurant by a fossil fuel burning truck, processed into oil by energy intensive refining, and grown and harvested by fossil fuel burning tractors. In addition,the plants used may or may not be genetically modified plants that employ genetic use restriction technology. This is commonly known as “terminator” seed and will not reproduce, forcing the farmer to purchase seed for each subsequent planting. To be frank, there are very few truly sustainable systems, only regenerative systems and degenerative systems. If any one link in the chain is “un-sustainable,” aka degenerative, the whole system is also degenerative. Any line sloping downwards, no matter how slight, will lead, inevitably, to zero.

Geo+Andria1

What kind of benefits do you think can come from the Learning Center and Underground Greenhouse  that we are planning for? 

We’ve met lots of people who are recognizing the need for a drastic lifestyle change. However, many feel overwhelmed and are unsure of what they must do and where they should start. A learning center dedicated to this type of education would be an enormous resource in the push for regional bio-sustainability and address the issue of community. Many hands make light work!

Due to our particular climate, any sustainable food plan has to work around the inconvenient fact that plants don’t grow in the winter. While root cellars, canning, drying, preserving and smoking can give your surpluses a shelf life, a year round greenhouse would go a long way towards making eating local a more inviting prospect.

We’ve said that our center will be directly involving and supporting the community. What are your thoughts on that statement? How much of a role should community play in these kinds of initiatives?
The involvement of community in sustainable initiatives is paramount. If the greater community at large continues degenerative practices, the eco-system, on which all sustainable practices rely, will still degenerate. We have to do this together!

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A pretty awesome pair I’d say. Want to get involved? Click the link below and become a part of a different way of life! This project will help you, me, and ultimately generations to come. Anything helps!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/underground-greenhouse-for-community-sustainability-campaign

 

Contest Time!

Time for another contest!

There are two steps that must be completed to enter this contest:

1) Share our Indiegogo campaign page on facebook or twitter and tag me in it! ( @EvaLTavares or Eva Tavares on fb )

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/underground-greenhouse-for-community-sustainability-campaign

2) Guess what the object in the following picture is!

Was ist das?

Was ist das?

 

If you do both of these things you will receive the Tree Trustee perk from our campaign: A tree with your name on it in the greenhouse!

 

Happy guessing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lambie on the Line

Watch out! Here is some real life coming at you from the Shuswap. Strange things happen…

This is an email I received from my mom today:

“This morning, as usual, I opened the gate to let the sheep out into the pasture. Lambs running beside their mothers as usual. But something was amiss, evident immediately. Wee Willie Winkie was nowhere to be seen, but a furious bleating could be heard from deep within the darkness of the barn.

 

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Right away, I knew something was wrong, and imagined all kinds of terrible situations which would prevent WWW from heading out into the lush green grass beside his brother, Hamish. Had he been hurt by one of the big, adult sheep? Did he have a broken leg, or perhaps wound up in some baler twine I had forgotten to remove? Or even worse, had a predator seriously injured him during the night?

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As I ventured into the dark interior of the sheep barn, I had to be mentally and emotionally prepared for anything. Sure enough, in the gloom, I could see WWW pinned against the far wall, but standing on all four feet. Within two steps from him, I could see that something was very wrong indeed. The bungie cord, with the U shaped metal end, disappeared deep inside his mouth. The other end was attached to the wall with a fencing staple. These bungie cords were placed in a couple of spots on the wall to attach to the handles of the water buckets, keeping them secure from tipping over.My heart sank immediately as upon first inspection, it looked like he had actually swallowed the bungie cord. That would mean death due to massive damage to the interior of his throat, or at the very least, expensive surgery. I quickly but carefully secured the little fellow by clenching him between my knees, then inserted my fingers into his mouth to discover the extent of the damage.

 

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What relief to find that the bungie cord had not actually been swallowed, but had been caught in the side of his mouth, and had actually punctured through his gum and lip and the end was sticking through the side of his face. A nasty problem,  but one that could be easily solved.
With firm and sure movements, I carefully pushed the bungie cord metal end back through his cheek, through his gum, and removed it from his mouth, as one would remove a fish hook from the fish on the line. After inspection in the daylight, Wee Willie Winkie set off to find his mother and have a good drink, a little worse for wear, no doubt, with a hole in the side of his cheek and some swelling. I watched him drink normally, and then set to vigorously chomping the green grass.

 

All’s well that ends well for the lambie on the line.”

 

A Great Question

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out with the dogs…

“Isn’t it a bit contrary to have a website called off-grid?”

This was a great question I received from a lovely lady on my facebook the other day and I thought that it deserved a detailed explanation.

I think it is a common misconception that off-grid is synonymous with I-live-in-a-cabin-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-and-don’t-use-technology-or-see-people. When I had my first interview with the TV producer from New York a month or so ago, the first thing he said when he saw me was “wow, you don’t look like what I expected. I thought you would be a wild woman or something.” Because of the stereotypes around living off-grid that have been presented to us through various documentaries and the media, this kind of reaction is reasonable. And, of course, there are people who choose to live off-grid because of a need for a solitary lifestyle. But, for me and my family, this is not the case.

Off-Grid Chic

Off-Grid Chic

Living off-grid means that we are not using anything from the mainstream grids that are typically used. We love people and we are not anti-technology, but we are for the safe use of technology. We are sustaining ourselves without the help of large corporations. If you think about it for a minute, we have very little control over our living situation while living on the grid: for example, in British Columbia, BC Hydro controls our power. And, with the implementation of the Smart Grid, the dynamic of the energy grid has changed drastically  . They monitor your power usage remotely and they have the ability to shut off your power whenever they like. Because the Smart Grid uses wireless technology, it is also easier for outside people to hack into, track your daily routines, and shut down your power. There are many reasons why my family decided to go off-grid, but control and security in every facet of our living situation were two of the major factors.

 

At this point, we are completely self-sustainable with regards to our heating, electricity, and water. Now the next step is to sustain our own food consumption; if there ever comes a day when we can’t just go to a grocery store and pick up some supplies for dinner, we would like to be prepared. Wouldn’t you? Oh hey I think I have a campaign for that…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/underground-greenhouse-for-community-sustainability-campaign/x/6744858

Thanks again for the question!

 

 

Crappy Work Weekend!

This week, I have a few days off before my graduation, so I decided to go up to Sorrento, just to get back to nature and spend some time with the family. I guess in many ways I got both of those things, but this weekend’s focus was most definitely on work.

First thing on the agenda: 1 hour vegetable plots made from straw bales, cardboard and chicken manure (the recurring theme of the weekend). They are extremely easy to make and can be completed in an hour or less. Basically, the cardboard on the ground kills the grass roots underneath it so there is no need to dig up the ground; in time, the cardboard will decompose and become part of the earth. The straw bales are used to keep the manure in place. Bingo bango! Raised vegetable beds!

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Step 1

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

 

 

The next job of the day was the really crappy part…to be specific, the poultry variety of crap. Our hay fields in Sorrento were not maintained very well before we bought it so, in order to give the grass a nutrient-rich boost, my dad and I spread chicken manure everywhere. Needless to say things don’t smell the greatest around here at the moment, but surprisingly, the grass actually looks healthier after only a day of having fertilizer on it.

Of all the crap out there, chicken is my least favorite. I can deal with cow, sheep and goat. But chicken is just the worst. Despite this extreme aversion, I was pretty happy to help out because I got to drive my tractor. She doesn’t have a name, but she has been a part of our family since before I was born. She is the one piece of farm equipment I truly enjoy using and feel comfortable operating. On top of all that, look how sweet she is!

 

She has Hare (fast) function and Tortoise (slow) function

She has Hare (fast) function and Tortoise (slow) function

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Saturday was spent taking down fences;the previous owners thought that rotting fences were an asset, but we didn’t really see their point of view. I spent most of the day on the tractor, loading dead wood into the bucket and transporting it to the burn pile with the help of some new friends. Bliss and a workout.

Each day has demonstrated to  me how very important community is to what we are trying to achieve; on Friday and Saturday we had friends, family and complete strangers come to donate their services for the duration of a full day’s work (or, in some cases two). These people are all equally, if not more, excited by what we are doing. By bringing together multiple like-minded individuals, I am reassured, once again, of how important our projects are and how timely my big announcement will be in the next couple weeks…

Registered Complaint

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Dear members of the Sorrento Goat Herd,

It has come to our attention that there is desperate need for a reminder regarding your privileges as our goats. As your  owners we have given you every luxury a goat could require; top grade organic feed and hay, warm and comfortable shelter, and a never-ending supply of entertainment and rivalry  (aka our sheep). But by far the most notable privilege that you clearly do not appreciate is your freedom. You are allowed to wander wherever you like on the property until it gets dark, at which point we must put you inside to avoid wolf or bear casualties. Unfortunately you have taken this particular privilege too literally. For example, at no point are you allowed to occupy our builders’ cars! It is disruptive to the work environment and ultimately distracts everyone. Also, tractors and trailers are not approved goat territory and although you have not wrecked anything on them yet, we would prefer that you did not play games on the machinery.IMG_3755

But, the incident that provoked this reprimand is by far the most important of all these objections and must not be taken lightly: at NO point are you permitted to enter the upstairs portion of the house and frighten, knock over, or head butt the elderly woman who is now occupying this space! I have no idea why you believed it to be your right to take over this home while the aforementioned woman had her back turned, but it is most certainly unacceptable and inexcusable. Undoubtedly this woman, who you all may address as Nana, is kind and welcoming, but I cannot see her opening her house to hoofed miscreants to partake in tea while taking in the views.

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This is your first and final warning. Your wandering privileges will be suspended if you do not comply with our wishes. Please continue to roam freely and try to be content with the 80 acres of field, forest and pond we have given you. As always, your needs are our first concern and we will try to accommodate each and every request that is registered with the Barnyard Boss, as long as your needs do not reside in Nana’s kitchen.

Sincerely,

Your owners.

The people you meet on Horsefly roads…

Horsefly attracts a wide range of characters.( I’ve described one of our most colorful Horsefly encounters in “Horsefly Hospitality”) My mom and I always half-joke that we should write a novel due to the range of personalities found in the small town. For example, one of our closest neighbours is a retired secret-service agent who used to work for… well he can’t really tell us who he has worked for. Another “neighbour” is a fashion designer who uses his lake plane to go back and forth to his industry headquarters in Germany from Horsefly! But one of my fondest memories is my first meeting with Walk-About Dave.

My mom and I were returning from a jaunt at the local grocery store, which consists of…well not very much. We were just beginning our 30 minute drive back home when we saw a figure walking on the right side of the road. Framed by the afternoon sun, his white hair shone in the light. He was wearing worn blue jeans, a gingham shirt and cowboy boots. In his hand he had a cloth grocery bag that looked to be empty. His face was that of a man who had lived a long, hard life, most likely a farmer or worker who spent most of his time outdoors. Despite his tired face, his back was perfectly straight and he walked without any trouble. This was a trait that my mom and I saw in my grandfather as well, and thus we decided that the man must be about 80 years old.

mum

My mom very rarely picks up hitch hikers but she was appalled that an 80 year old man was walking on the side of the road in the hot sun. And so we pulled over and offered him a ride, which he accepted. At first he insisted that we drop him off a few minutes down the road since his home was entirely out of our way, but we in turn insisted that we take him all the way home.

Once he accepted that we weren’t going to let him walk anywhere, he began to tell us a bit about himself. He explained that he was walking back from Williams Lake where he had had a banking appointment. Now, if you know anything about the Caribou Regional District, you will know that Williams Lake is an hour away from Horsefly …by car. We were shocked!

“Did you hitch-hike?” we asked. He explained that he doesn’t have a car or bike and walks everywhere, by choice. He believes that he is doing the world a favor by not operating any kind of machinery; he implied that he had had some kind of traumatic experience at some point but he did not elucidate. He emphasized strongly that he never hitch-hikes. He does not want drivers to feel obligated to pick him up so he never actively hitch-hikes. Nevertheless, his passive approach has served him well since he is almost always gets picked up.

As we were driving and following his directions, he became increasingly excited about our surroundings. Every field and tree was fascinating and special to him. I expected that he had walked by them so many times that he had created individualized relationships with each one. They were more than just a part of the landscape, they were his family and friends.

After 45 minutes of driving we finally reached his house, a motor home on the edge of the Horsefly River. It was a beautiful spot and he proclaimed that he was the luckiest man in the world. He was so thankful for the ride, he invited us into his house. I was immediately struck by the immense smell of smoke and the lack of furniture. There was almost nothing in the house apart from that distinctive smell. The four notable objects in the house were four huge, completed puzzles that covered the majority of the kitchen floor. They had obviously been there for quite some time given that the colors had diminished significantly from sun exposure.

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Night walk at Horsefly

He then led us to the edge of the river to show us its roaring force and the steep drop that the house was situated beside. At this point I was feeling slightly uneasy about the whole visit. We had spent nearly two hours with this unknown man, and although he seemed nice enough, we knew nothing about him. And at that moment, we were alone with this stranger, beside a huge river, in the middle of nowhere, without reception or any way of communication. As my mom followed the man to peer down at the water, sordid scenes played out in my mind. My mom turned to me with a great big smile and asked if I wanted to see the river. I responded with a very definite no from my vantage point a meter or so behind her.

I think my mom got the message after that and politely explained that we should be on our way. Walk-About Dave said that he was disappointed because he had really wanted to show us his wood shed and brand-new axe. Murder Mystery 101.

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After getting home we spoke to our good friend who had lived in the area for a long time. We asked her about Walk-About Dave and his history. At first she was confused because we had said that he must be over 80. “If we are referring to the same David,” she said “he just turned 60.” Our jaws were on the floor once again. She said that there was not much known about him apart from that he had gone through some recent hardship.

Over the course of two hours, I had felt a wide variety of emotions; curiosity, intrigue, compassion, amazement, pity, anxiety, fear, general sense of impending doom…

Just a classic example of what can happen on a seemingly normal afternoon in Horsefly.