Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Recycling Program in New Community

Our feet are now in West Virginia, our household goods are in the back of semi truck somewhere on the interstate, and our hearts are in limbo.  We are not sure what to think of our new digs because we are currently living in a hotel room.  As usual, the banks extended closing for at least another week because the 3rd underwriter discovered that our loan was in the wrong "class" because of the acreage.  They also requested to have handrails installed in the garage and barn.  This is not the news a buyer wants to receive three before closing when the movers had already packed all of our stuff.  So...we are trying our best to roll with the punches and not pull our hair out while living in a hotel room surrounded by fast food restaurants.  It was a bit of a letdown to not see recycle bins in the hotel and to be eating on disposable dishware the first day.  Thankfully, the hotel uses enviroware dishware which is made with recyclable material and is biodegradable; but who knows what that really means and under what conditions these items actually degrade.  It is the next best option to durable-ware though.

I challenge myself to see the glass half full and see the lack of curbside recycling as an opportunity to make a difference in this new community.  I am already conjuring up a letter that I will send to the waste haulers and city about the recycling program.  (And who knows, maybe I'm creating a job for myself??)  At this time, recycling is provided, but folks have to haul it to a facility, and at this time, I don't even know what is collected.  It is a bummer that we will have to store recyclables in the garage because that means less space to work in; BUT that also challenges us to reduce and reuse more because recycling is essentially the last resort. the meantime, we have a paper bag collecting all of our paper in the hotel room.  Looking back, I was in 4th grade (1993) when I helped deliver recycle bins to residents in my hometown with a population of 5,018 people.  This rural town in Wisconsin manages to pick up recyclables at the curb with a horse trailer today.

The glamour and glitz may be missing from their recycling program, but if there's a will, there's a way!

Propagating Plants, Gathering Roots, and Digging Up Bulbs

In a few short days, I will be standing on West Virginia soil.  With emotions changing moment to moment, I remain steadfast in completing my to-do lists and saying my "goodbye's."  My list today: unplug refrigerator (so it can defrost), gather garden plants, and take kitty to vet for her travel certificate.  For the garden plants, I gathered a few plants, some roots, and some bulbs.  The bulbs consisted of some lilies, alliums, daffodils, and crocuses.  I also propagated blueberries and a cherry bush.  This is my first experience propagating so we'll see if roots develop, especially since they will be placed in a cardboard box for about 2 weeks during travel.

For propagating, I selected healthy stalks, about 6 inches long and cut the stalk right below a node.

The stalk was then dipped in a rooting hormone powder. 

Excess powder was shaken off.

I placed some soil in a bag, made a well in the middle, and placed the stalk in the well.

Using a rubberband, I secured the bag around the stalk.  It's fairly loose to allow moisture to escape. 

Here are some of the blueberries that were propagated.  I also propagated a cherry bush---not sure if that will work, but we'll find out!

The next task was digging up some of the strawberries for the new home.  The picture above may not look like much, but this little plot provided enough strawberries for fresh-eating and filled 2 gallon freezer bags full last summer!  This strawberry patch provided the most yield for its space and required the least amount of work than other plants in the garden.  Best of all, our son picked almost all of them for us!

I filled a box about half full of strawberry plants.  I estimate there are about 50 plants total which didn't even make a dent in the patch.

The next project was gathering blackberry roots.  In the picture above, the "mother" blackberry plant is in the upper right corner and my hand in the lower left is holding two roots.  From what I found online, clip about 8 inches of root coming from the "mother" root.  

I only gathered 4 root clippings because this blackberry plant is only 3 years old.  It may have been too young to gather roots from.  Unfortunately I will never find out if the "mother" plant survives because I won't be here this summer.  I can only hope...

I also gathered two shoots from the rhubarb plant (leaving 5 behind).  Again, this is another experiment---I had to brake these 2 shoots off the main root, but also make sure that the main root I gathered had some small roots growing from it. 

I got a little shovel crazy trying to uproot the giant rhubarb mass; because of this, I broke off a root section.  I was surprised that the root was so large---about 1.25 inches in diameter!!  The root smelled like fresh rhubarb!

Emptying the Freezer & Packing

If you have ever moved a long distance, then you know how it is to go through every nook and cranny, and empty your entire refrigerator and freezer.  Our freezer was packed with pesto, tomatoes, carrots, turkey, turkey broth, pumpkin, sausages, strawberries, and blueberries.  With some planning, I carefully spaced out our turkey vegetable soup and pesto dinners.  Even Paul said, "We're having soup...again!!"  We've pretty much exhausted ourselves of the same dinners over and over.  Thankfully we have eager friends who have joined us for dinners the last couple of weeks.  It is nice to see someone else get excited about turkey pot pie and pesto pasta when I can only manage a half-smile after eating the same ingredients for 2 months.

I am very anxious about moving the several hundred full jars of canned goods across the country.  Oh, my beloved peaches...I hope to enjoy you next year!  I expect the worse...saturated cardboard boxes full of broken glass; but I am trusting the "professionals" who pack homes for a living.  To ease the anxiety, I decided to put all the rings back on the jars to keep contents from spilling completely out just in case a seal breaks.  In the process of attaching the rings, I found unsealed jar of grape juice.  This is my first jar that has gone bad!  The seal failed and the contents grew mold...Yuk! 

Besides emptying the freezer and using up condiments, our biggest area of purging has been in the garage!  The moving company won't move lumber or logs.  So....Jon and I had to look at the big sustainability picture and decide which pieces of wood were really worth moving 2,500 miles.  Without argument, we decided to keep all of our aspen logs that we collected in Laramie, WY back in 2005/2006.  To some, these logs look like firewood, but to!  We have been holding onto these logs for 5 years hoping to make more chairs, beds, and sofas for when we have a larger home.  As for the remaining 2x4's and plywood, we gave them away to friends even though the wood could be used for our next project...a chicken tractor for our new home.  It is silly to say we are attached to our wood, but we are constantly in the garage making toys, bat houses, furniture, and other things out of small pieces left over from larger projects.  I included a few pictures of our log furniture for those who may be interested.

We are attempting to sneak these logs onto the moving truck by packaging them ourselves (the moving company supposedly doesn't question items we pack) We wrapped the logs in burlap bags tied with rope and string.  The bags came from a local coffee shop and are primarily used as bee fuel for the smoker. 

In 2005/2006, Jon and I snowshoed the Rocky Mountains and cut down dead aspen trees using a hand saw with a fire permit.  We were very selective when choosing the logs and went long distances to ensure we left behind some dead wood for animals.  This is how we entertained ourselves when we had no money and a lot of time.

Our first project...a kitchen chair, waiting for the finishing touches. 

Coffee table

Uses for Dryer Lint

Dryer lint is one of those things that I started saving.  Yes, I know it's weird, but I actually started a bag specifically for lint.  I read recently that I should store lint in a tin can or glass container, but right now it's in an old plastic bag in the laundry room cupboard.  Because lint is easily combustible, it is recommended that you clean out your dryer vent on a yearly basis.  Cleaning out excess lint also increases the efficiency of your dryer, leading to shorter dryer periods and less energy consumption.  To clean the dryer vent, I pull the dryer several feet away from the wall, disconnect the vent hose from the dryer, stretch the hose, and blow the hose out with an air compressor (or leaf blower).  I also blow out the dryer vent from the inside of the dryer.

I started collecting lint in October (because of course I use a clothes line in the summer), and in 3 months I collected this much.

There are many uses for dryer lint.  One of my friends makes her own paper with lint which is super impressive!!  Click on the pictures below to see her cards.

I did a quick Google search for other dryer lint uses and here's what I found
  • Fire starter
  • Paper
  • Packing material
  • Spin it into thread and knit or crochet with it
  • Spread it in the yard for the birds (Depends on the detergents you use)
  • Make clay with it
  • Put it in your compost pile
  • Craft projects
  • Plant mulch
And for a little humor... (click to enlarge)

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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