Our new 4-Thirds Lifestyle. Overshoot?

Wild and wooly could best describe the past 2 months.

A Thick Skin

Ann and Gord both Elected to municipal government.

Over the past week we have been going to councillor school, and one word of advice that is repeated over and over… develop a thick skin as no matter what decision you make, half the people will think you are an idiot, and the other half will love you.   We have also become acquainted with the term ‘pecuniary’.   One of the rarest forms of pecuniary interests that any elected official has ever had to be forthright about is our contract to clean the local public washroom and collect the shit… imagine that, politicians that collect it rather than distribute it.   Though I am sure one could argue that we spread our share of manure.

Speaking of manure and trying to make sense of it, we are delving deep into our new policy and procedural manual.   I can gaurantee  that this 445 page manual is one of the most entertaining reads this week.

If you ever wanted to amend an amending motion to an amendment...

If you ever wanted to amend an amending motion to an amendment…

A day after the election, we were given a tool for the job, a thick skin.  An elk hide

Elk hide is being stretched on the woodshed.

Elk hide is being stretched on the woodshed.

to be exact, one day old, and in need to be salted, scraped, pickled, rinsed, scudded,  tanned, smoked and then shaved.  So on to a new learning process, and hopefully complete in time for Gord to make himself some elk slippers for winter.

This processing of the hide is an interesting educational adventure, especially to attempt to learn the process off the internet, trying to identify the chemical changes required for each step, and trying to replicate with non toxic materials we have here… and up front, I can say we don’t have the brains to perform a brain tanning process (Gord eagerly refused… wimp!).

We are tanning our hides with the fur on.  This is the elk hide, future slippers and cob bench covering.

We are tanning our hides with the fur on. This is the elk hide, future slippers and cob bench covering.

Instead of hydrochloric or sulphuric acid, Gord used oxalic acid; instead of brains or chrome sulphate, he is using oak leaf mulch boiled to create an organic tanning liquor; and to replicate the fatty acids that exist in the myelin sheath of the brain neurones we will be attempting to use coconut oil.   For the smoking stage, we will use cedar, thyme, and rosemary which should leave the final hide smelling wonderful enough to chew on.  Boo is smiling.

As we write this, a deer hide was also dropped off from the neighbour.    Wonderful… Gord can make Ann a skirt to go along with her slippers he made a few years back.  What a great attire for the council table; two rookie

Deer hide being pickled in salt and oxalic acid.

Deer hide being pickled in salt and oxalic acid.

councillors, whom live in a mud house, shit in a bucket, have mud couches with hides for cushions, adorned in thick skins. Beginning to look a lot more like the Flintstones.   Hope the hell the Escort station wagon doesn’t die;  else we’ll be cutting a hole in the floor and using our feet to propel us to the meetings.

Lemons in December

Summer 2014.  Curvey bed gardens in front of the south wall.  Lemons have done well with freezing Nov temperatures

Summer 2014. Curvey bed gardens in front of the south wall. Lemons have done well with freezing Nov temperatures

The gardens are settling in, though we have had a cold spell (cold for Victoria) of -4C and yet the lemons continue to flourishes on the front of the cob house in the cement beds built earlier in the year.  Winter veggies planted are growing away.  As we write, it is December 1st, and still our lunches are of salads with fresh greens, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, homemade cheese, winter quash soups, and sauerkraut.  The tea plants bloom at this time of the year, all thriving, and seeds from last years bloom have been collected, stratified and planted.

Baring the concepts of the New Economy

Additional activities  this past month, include Gord’s  presentation  for Living The New Economy, which in brief is an economy that is based on other currencies than just financial.   These other currencies are tied to other forms of capital, where transactions within natural capital, social, cultural and spiritual capitals, intellectual and experiential capitals all interact to support greater diversity in each.   Gord’s topic was “MaLNEking Eco-Sense of Permanomics”, wherein he stripped down out of his business suit to his infamous eco-sense overalls, and then out of these overalls down to his Stanfeild onsies… live streamed online in an effort to metaphorically demonstrate the need to shed our cultural layers and get down to the basics to understand true economics.   Don’t know if the audience will ever be the same, luckily there were no costume prop glitches like Janet Jackson… no nipple flips or otherwise small inappropriate items of distraction.

Another wonderful opportunity, came in the form of a request to help research and write guidelines and regulations for the Ministry of Health on Greywater and Composting Toilets.  This was a request of the ministry to one of the best qualified engineers on the topic of septic and sewage regulations.  Ann and I are are two of a team of five technical writers.

We are becoming a FARM!

Gord in the new propagation greenhouse - heated by compost and the sun.

Gord in the new propagation greenhouse – heated by compost and the sun.

We dropped off our farm application package on October 30, and while in the office they suggested that we should apply for the previous year as well.  This automatically triggers a farm site inspection, which also occurred this past week.  On arriving, the inspector was taken with everything from the fencing, water and grey water systems, the propagation green house heated by horse manure, the eco-hut sales office… but most of all was that she had never seen a farm such as this before.  She was amazed at the sheer quantity of diverse food trees and integrated systems atop this rocky hill, and commented that she was always told “this is impossible”.  She left that day with one request and one statement… “Can I bring my office up here on a tour to show them what is possible?”, and  “I never say thanks at the end of an inspection… THANK YOU!”     She also could not believe that two people pulled this off, without training, and manage it.

Homesteading Partners

We were not shy telling the Farm Assessment inspector that we are barely keeping on top of it, and that for this very reason we are looking for a couple that is wanting to dive in, live with us and continue the push.   We are looking for people who want to largely earn their livelihood from this piece of land, whether their passions are herbs and medicinals, nuts and fruits, annuals, perennials, aquaculture, animals or ????.  The opportunity will begin in the Spring of 2015 and the rent may be decreased based on skills and experience levels.  Here is a PDF with more information.  

Three wheelbarrows of winter quash harvested this year.  Most from the roof.

Three wheelbarrows of winter quash harvested this year. Most from the roof.

In our efforts to lead a 3-Thirds lifestyle it was pointed out that we have just moved into a 4-Quarters lifestyle… though our gut thinks it might be more like 4- Thirds “overshoot” lifestyle; 1/3 working for an income, 1/3 volunteering, 1/3 following our passions and growing our food, and 1/3 serving the community.  It will be interesting this next 4 years.  Three fellow councillors spoke of climate change, economics of the future, the carbon bubble, and one was prepared to speak to the dystopia we are likely to find ourselves navigating in the near future.   Will this be the period where community becomes the paramount purveyor of sanity and connection?  Quite possibly as the World Bank states that our earth is heading for a 4 degree C rise in global average temperatures by the year 2060. Most intellectuals and academics agree that global civilization cannot adapt to this rapid change.  Business as usual IS NOT an option…We either change willing or unwillingly.  We know what we would choose.  Try like hell with everything we’ve got.





4 responses to “Our new 4-Thirds Lifestyle. Overshoot?

  1. Congratulations Ann & Gord… great to have green thinkers and conservers elected, You’re an inspiration on so many levels. Where do you keep the compost in that greenhouse – under the benches? I’ve just begun to build a insulated solar greenhouse complete with 15 to 20 – 50 gallon drums of water for thermal storage. I love the idea of including the compost bins for extra heat. Well done + 4/thirds good luck….. Bruce (on Northern Vancouver Island)

    • Hi Bruce – Thanks. The compost piles kept just outside the greenhouse, about 40 cubic meters of manures and wood chips. Inside the pile is a coil of 3/4″ HDPE municipal line which is connected to the pipes that run through the benches inside the green house. The beds are heated by the thermophilic activity in the compost pile. The thermal water storage is a great idea. We have some built onto the backside of the greenhouse but did so very late in the season, so no thermal battery for us this year.
      Cheers Gord

  2. Love the greenhouse heating ideas – thanks 🙂 And looking forward to hearing how your tanning turns out. Fiona

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