Lost: Homes as Units of Production

Do you consume more than you produce?

For pretty darn near all of us, the answer is ‘yes’ –

In this modern world, even for those of us who are garden-ing inclined, or terriffic sew-ers, er seamstresses/tailors?, or people who know how to nail things together — we don’t produce all that we own, or all that we need.

I am reminded, as I look in my nearly empty deep-freeze, that there is no possible way on heaven, nor on earth, that I could grow all the fresh food, and preserve all that my family would need! At least, not on the 18th of an acre on which I live. And, I’d have to focus all my time and attention on just that thing. And the kids would have to help. And,…and…and…

What was I saying? I just started hyperventilating there.

Okay, so, homes as units of production? Why bother?

There are some big reasons why we should all #1: Figure out the talents we’ve been blessed with #2: Use them to care for ourselves, our families, and our friends #3: and don’t delay.

It really feels good to do some things ourselves. Its the reason why local foods are so exciting – we know the person who grew it! We are meant to be interdependent – even if I COULD grow all my food myself, doing so would isolate me from everyone else – because, as I mentioned, hyperventally above – all the time and attention would be focused on it. But, if I can produce a couple of things, and you a couple of others, and we can swap, barter, trade, or otherwise make a gonnection, we have not only helped each other, but we’ve given each other an opportunity to use the talents we have been uniquely gifted with.

Isn’t that special?

Households used to produce more for themselves. Think about the last time you made something, instead of buying it. If you can’t even remember EVER doing that, or really can’t remember the last time, challenge yourself to reuse something to make a new item. I get crazy urges to save things and make stuff out of them. Sometimes it turns out awesome – sometimes, it tanks.

I’ve been saving onion bags for awhile. The first time I had a slew saved up, I made some pot scrubbies! They turned out pretty good — okay, not PRETTY to look at, but the definitely worked. I also hung suet cakes in them, and put them in the yard to feed winter birds.

I had this idea of making some more pot scrubbies, as I had quite a stash saved up. I had a great tutorial slideshow planned: just imagine: first, the big pile of bags, how to cut the bags so you can join them into a kind of ‘yarn’, what size needles to use, how the ‘yarn’ looks all rolled up into a nice skein, and then — last photo —– everything in the trash!!!!!!!!! AUUUUUUURRGHUADSKAJSDKJD!

As I spent over 45 minutes just on those steps, (before the trash step) and then started first knitting (total, epic fail), and then crocheting (which I did last time, only this time, my patience was just — kapow. Totally gone.). I threw the works away.


So, I am not sure how to end this post. I guess sometimes my home is a unit of production – and sometimes I’m just producing trash. But, I’m trying to find, little by little, ways to produce more, and consume less. At times, its two steps forward, and two steps back. I think that’s better, though, than mindless consumption and waste.

What do you produce? What would you like to learn more about?

The other three R’s…

Ah, remember the 80’s? Or was it the 90’s?

Whenever we started hearing the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”?

If you didn’t get enough of it back then, you’re in for a treat, because I’m posting on this topic today!


So, for Lent, I am just trying to buy less food. We keep a pretty modest food budget, and try not to buy superfluous things anyway, but I’m really concentrating on using my leftovers to the max. I’m trying to see how long I can go without buying groceries. So far, I’m out of butter. I’m relying on my chickens for eggs (and encouraging them to get with the program!), just used up my last cup of rice, and last 1/2 cup of quinoa. My pantry has beans, millet, dried mushrooms, popcorn, and some noodles. My freezer is full of meat, but I also am still using some frozen fruit from this summer. It can be a fun but intense discipline. The meals get even *more* creative around here in Lent. Its a challenge for us, but also a good way to identify with those that live solely on beans and rice, or the kids in Haiti who eat ‘cakes’ made of mud and salt to stave off hunger.


I save all kinds of things, you’d think I grew up in the 30’s. I made bird’s nests out of those drink holders you get a coffee shops. I already mentioned re-using plastic containers in my post last week. I save tea boxes for my Wildtree business, to give little door prizes at the Tastings. I really like to save and re-use cardboard boxes. As cute as all the Ikea and Container store organizers can be, I don’t really need them. I save mesh onion bags, and have crocheted pot scrubbers! I have made my own training pants for my kids with underwear, some old cloth diapers, and fleece (and I’m really not an excellent seamstress, I’m really actually pretty cheap. I just couldn’t bear the thought of spending all that money on something my kid is going to whizz in. Unless he can whizz in it many times. Case in point, I’m using mostly the original set of cloth diapers and covers up to size medium that I got when Child #1 was born, 8 years ago. Gee- WHIZZ! heh heh…get it?)

We help friend re-use their furniture by trading up if their stuff is nicer than ours. 4 boys are tough on the furniture. We’re not buying anything new until they move out. Seriously.


Do you know how much paper goes in the landfill? Tons and tons. Paper and cardboard account for 41% of all solid waste! So, corrugated cardboard, yes. Paper goes into three bins in our house – to be shredded, white paper, and magazines/newspapers. I do try hard to recycle every bit of paper possible. Of course, I have to also fully disclose (for some reason…you wouldn’t know the difference. Oh…but I WOULD….and I just couldn’t live with myself if I lied to you, dear reader) that I do sometimes toss a whole handful of paper away. But — mostly I try to stick to the plan.

You can also get rid of paper waste by actually opening junk mail, and if a page hasn’t been printed on both sides, use it in your printer, for those things that you’re not taking to the board meeting, but just are using around the house. We can make good use of this idea for school. Saves some cash, and some trees.

One item that just ticks me off is box board, and our inability to recycle it here. And yogurt and sour cream tubs and the like. Maybe someday….

What do you reuse and recycle? How do you reduce? Tell me about it.