Friday, 22 August 2014

Paper-less Towels

I love trolling through blogs and my latest fetish is, obviously, green sites and those that are experimenting with greener lifestyles.  I found a fabulous ideas on one of my adventures and now can't for the life if me find the blog again to give some credit, I will as soon as I find it again! 

*UPDATE* Found it! It was part of one of my favourite cleaning blogs! Check out the original idea here! Clean Mama

It immediately struck home with me as I am a chronic paper towel addict, I use them for everything! And I mean everything!  So the idea of being able to cut down on not only the amount of rubbish I was producing in the paper towel department but also the amount we were spending buying them in the first place!

I've decided to take the challenge, not sure how I'm going to get on not being able to just grab, wipe and dispose but only time will tell. The general jist is to only use a couple of reusable towels a day for all your paper towel needs and wash them weekly.  I hit the shops at the weekend, well one shop, the pound shop.  No idea which one but I'm sure you've got an equivalent near you.  I got four packs of three baby wash cloths! So that's 12 cloths for £4. They are a perfect size and microfibre. Not sure this is the cheapest way of getting them but it can't be bad and I got some nice colours too.  I dug out an old glass jar, it had contained raisins, I won't describe the state of the raisins when I found them, cleaned it out and Ta-daaaa! I've put the jar on my work surface in replacement of the paper towel holder so it's easy to reach and banished the paper towels to the laundry room cupboard.
I figure there is a place for paper towels in my life but a limited place, special occasions.  At the moment I am enjoying (is that the right word?) using them, I hope the novelty doesn't wear off!

If you are looking for a way to get a little greener I definitely this is a great way to go about it, and save some money too! Particularly if you are as big a paper towel addict as me!

....had a headache all day... could this be paper towel withdrawal?

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Going Green... Easy For You

So what's all this about going green? Are we all turning into hippies and opening a commune? Yes! FREE LOVE!

Only kidding, but I guess "think hippie" is not a bad mantra!  The essence of going green is, I suppose, taking responsibility for your affect on the world.  This is not meant to be preachy in anyway, not at all, the idea of being green is not to use it as a crown to strut about in. Being green is a choice but I do feel it is something to be proud of! We are doing our bit, and there is no reason it can't be something we enjoy too!

You say 'Green' to most people they think or recycling, its the biggie!  But being green, for us, is not just about recycling, although that is part of it.  It's Recycle & Reuse. It's self sufficiency & sustainability.  It's thinking about what goes down the drain even!  Saw a great quote which said when you throw something away, there is no such place as 'away'.  It all ends up somewhere.  And its true, we want to look at what we use and where we can make adjustments to the advantage of us all.  It's not a sudden change we intend, just a look at different aspects of our lives and see where we can "green it up"!  I'll have posts on each thing we do, big and little, as we do them.

But part of what I want to do is to try and show that it is easy for everyone to do something to help themselves be more green (if that is their want) and I hope that by reading along you might spot things you already do and things that you may be able to try!  Some of the things we will attempt are obviously going to be more suitable to the situation we are in but hopefully you may at least get some good ideas, and if not here's hoping it gives you at least a good read!

Lets have a look at the kind of areas we are trying to tidy up our lives...

Recycling, of course.  This seems like a no brainer, and it is highly likely that you do some kind of recycling yourself already, with council run schemes, whatever yours may be.  Our is very simplistic one blue bin, everything recyclable except glass, the end! But I think I can add in here a bit for all you gardeners, composting, wormeries and the like.  To me this is recycling turning one thing, garden or kitchen waste, into something else, plant food!  Got hens?  Kitchen scraps to eggs!  The ultimate in recycling!

Reusing.  This is much as it sounds, if you can use an item in some other way then go for it!  Whether this is some huge project where you plan to build a hen house from stuff you find by the roadside or you simply keep and refill old jars with your own homemade jam, it all helps keep stuff out of landfill and therefore reduces the impact on the planet (there's the hippy bit!).  Or perhaps simply giving a home to something someone else no longer needs but is just what you are after!

FreegleWith reuse in mind I'd love to draw your attention to Freegle, it is a great forum style site where you can go and advertise stuff you may have and are wanting to get rid of or look for things that you need that someone else may be giving away.  There is only one rule: it has to be given away free.  The main idea is to allow people to clear clutter without having to resort to drastic measures!
I am a moderator on our local group but I am not paid, this isn't a funded plug, it is just a system I truly believe in and urge you to check out your local group.  If you are interested then follow the link to the main site and find the most appropriate group for your area.

Car boot sales and markets should probably come under here somewhere, it isn't free but it once again keeps from adding to general waste and you can probably pick up a few bargains umm.. into the bargain!

Self Sufficiency.  Again, somewhat self explanatory but not something to run from anyone can be self sufficient to a small extent.  Self sufficiency relates to not only food, the first thing you think of, but also energy, think solar panels.  Again not everyone's cup of tea but never the less something that we aim to look at on both levels.

Sustainability.  This is the one that might need a bit more explaining and is probably the most 'preachy' of the ideas.  Sustainability, to me, is looking at your impact on the world as a whole and basically saying am I personally sustainable?  Kind of grim reading huh?  It is really the green idea as a whole.

As I go about my daily routine how is what I am doing effecting the environment around me.  Let me give you an example: I have just cleaned the sink, I used bleach.  Is there something else I could have used that wouldn't have been so harsh once it had left my drain?

This is one of the first lessons in green that I learned when moving to the farm and not because I intended to become an eco warrior!, just simply because we have a septic tank and you can't use any bleachy type products into a septic tank or you, essentially, break it.  We were forced to rethink how we cleaned everything, looking for the "suitable for sceptic tanks" on the back of every product.  Believe me THAT gets old fast! 

So there it is, a flying trip through what we are getting ourselves into.  We're completely nuts!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Chick in the Kitchen

I was going to start today with some of our Going Green posts but a sad discovery this morning has changed the schedule. 

Our mummy hen (a big black Silkie cross) has been raising five chicks for us. Last night they were moved into the large coop as they are now big enough. This morning one of the little girls was sitting all hunched up on the floor of the hen house looking very sorry for herself.  A quick inspection showed that there were no obvious signs of injury or unwell but she was most definitely peaky! Eyes closed and feathers all fluffed.

I scooped her up and took her to the hen hospital, a small cat carrier decked out with hay, and brought her into the house. The Hen Hospital took up residence near our stove for a bit of warmth and I dug out a makeshift hen watering kit, a glass bowl and a pipette. Why I have a pipette or where it came from I don't know, but it was in my drawer of "bits that might be handy".   

First round of chicken assisted drinking was a bit messy. Chickens don't just open their beaks and say "Ahhh". You also can't open their beaks for them and due to their make up the water can go in noses, throats or crops!  This being the case they have to do the drinking themselves and being given water via pipette is alien to them!  I've had to pipette water a poisoned crow before (long story short, vet thought I was mad, persevered anyway, crow okay! Woohoo!) so had some very minor skills.  A little drop on the side of the beak encourages them to open mouth and "do it themselves". She took some practice, as did I getting the 'dosage' right, but we got there until she announced she was done and went for a sleep. At least I assumed she did, she hadn't opened her eyes yet!

Second shot at it went better, she drank well with less coughing and spluttering and settled down again. Still no opening of eyes however. 

Our most recent attempt was seemingly hopeful although it is never a good idea to get hope up so early on, but she opened her eyes briefly and stood up when I opened the door. Admittedly she wobbled and fell down again but she at least tried!

I shall continue my ministrations to whatever outcome we are headed for.... fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Almost a Veggie Plot

We have no vegetable garden at the moment, so we have settled for a few pots outside the house.  Our few pots have allowed us to grow peas, dwarf runner beans, yellow pepper, tomatoes (cherry and normal), strawberries and a cucumber vine.  Around the corner there is a rhubarb plant but it doesn't seem as happy this year as in previous years.  It really needs to be shifted into the ground out of its pot but until the veggie garden is up and running there's nowhere for it to go!

My mum started the cucumber off for us in her greenhouse but our brilliant summer here has meant its happy in its sink!  We have a plethora of baths and sinks that seem to breed around farmyards! In keeping with our new 'keep it green' attitude they are all earmarked for something, mostly planters, as modelled by our cucumber and pepper plant. 

One of the old feeders from the byre (our lovely builders managed to save three of the five) has become a great home for a small selection of herbs, just outside the back door. I'm always wishing I had fresh herbs for my cooking... well, now I have no excuse!