We are living a rural lifestyle and I can’t believe how much time I researching how we are going to be self-suffcient in the future. That said, we learned about peak oil and started planning in 2005 and we have only covered the tip of the ice berg when it comes to being self-sufficent.
I have gardened for over 30 years and can say with confidence – growing nearly all my own food is a different ball game than having a hobby garden for a few fresh veggies over summer. After 4 years of going at it – we are at least providing 80% of our fruit and veggies and this is the first year I got my small production on chickens going – enough to give us all the chicken we want. We have dairy goats and they produce about 30% of our dairy. Not much, but better than nothing.
As of late, I have made some extreme changes in our game-plan A. We used to want to grow sugar beets for ethanol and we will most likely grow some. But I recently heard about propane and how flex-fuel it can be in that methane is a replacement for propane or natural gas.
So, we are planning on changing our electrical system to a propane powered system. This is going to cut our electric bill (which the rates have tripled since we moved here) down to around $30/month. It will also allow us to use more power for the farm needs….water pumping, garden watering, and the like. The only thing around here that doesn’t need water is our no mowing grasses – everything else is so bone dry now!
If porpone becomes too high a fuel cost, we can make methane from both human and animal waste before it goes to the garden composter. Though methane and propane are interchangable, its still not as dense an energy as gas.
IWe can do this with powering a truck too. For people who are connected to natural gas lines, they only need to plug into a special gas unit and re-fuel the vehicle. And again, if the fuel becomes too high, then methane is an option.
We have entirely re-thought about how we are doing our gardens too. The old way of clearing and planting, then weed, weed and weed until harvest is not only time consuming, its also impossible to do when the weather doesn’t coopeerate. Today its like 100 degrees out there and the weeds are taking off …again.
This summer, we are going to try to make narrow chicken tractors and put some hens in there to go between the row crops and clean up weeds before the weeds over take the crops. The problem with that is the design is only 18 inches wide and 12 foot long so they might end up tipping over.
The tomatoes, green peppers, melons, cantaloupe, pumpkins and cold crops alll need to on plastic or some way to not spend too much time weeding. I do small bio-intensive spring lettuces, spinach and greens but I also plan on eventually doing them all in plastic. Finally, we planted no mowing grasses near the house and buildings and I want to expand the plantings of no mow grass to the garden and wooded pathes. That reduces the mowing task and energy use down to 2 times a year, verses the mowing every week.
The plans for the rain collection system haven’t changed….much. Collecting rain water hasn’t changed, but last winter I monitored the temperature in our old root cellarand I’ve decided to store the water there and use it as a mini-geo-thermal system to store cold water there until July for less home cooling costs and if the water is warmed by August, it might add some warmth into the winter. Today, the outside temps are over 90 degrees and the root cellar is 67 so it might happen sooner than later….