Casaubon's Book

C’mon, you know you’ve always wanted to. This is the chance – if you’ve never made a comment (or you’ve made a thousand), tell me who you are and what interesting stuff you are doing to save the world – or even just to get along decently. Or tell me something interesting and cool I should know about. Or write me a haiku. I’m flexible.

I love it when I meet someone who says “Oh, I comment as…” and I meet a lot of people who say “I never comment, but I’ve always kind of wanted to.” And now you will have, if just one time! Plus, if you say “I’m a commenter” (which you now get to do) it is practically like saying “I’m a major donor” to your congressman. It gets my attention ;-).

You know you want to!

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Tegan
    July 26, 2010

    Yay I’m first!

    Well, I’m engaged (long story there… remember how we were broken up? Yeah…) and trying to convince my guy that he really really wants cute baby dairy goats. In the city. ‘Cause I’m cool like that.

    Working on gardening, working on minimizing plastic, paper usage, water usage, etc.

    Most current cross to bear is eating in vs. all of the delicious restaurants that my guy and I like to frequent…

    I think that’s about it.

  2. #2 Gayle Robison, DVM
    July 26, 2010

    When I am not having doomerish fantasies or wishing I owned a smallholding in the Upper Midwest I am fixing broken cats and blogging about all sorts of veterinary stuff.

  3. #3 Duane
    July 26, 2010

    I read Sharon’s Blog.
    It’s always interesting.
    I wish I could write.

  4. #4 Jennifer
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon!!
    I’ve only recently discovered your blog, but have been enjoying it greatly! (And of course, religiously sharing it with all I know.) I should comment more, probably… I will make that my goal for the next few posts.
    I’m a Canadian doctoral student in global governance focusing on global agricultural research networks, so I find so much of your discussions of food politics extremely fascinating. I agree with so many things you write!
    I also wanted to let you know – so you know how sometimes on Amazon it makes suggestions for books depending on what you’ve purchased in the past? The last time I was on, one book caught my name because I recognized the author’s name: yours! So… looking forward to reading your work in another form.
    And hello to all the other readers out there!

  5. #5 Karen
    July 26, 2010

    Since spring, I’m fixing up a small two family house near the center of a small city in NW CT, currently only used by my family but with co-housing plans. We’ll have to cover its many windows well come winter, but this house was designed to catch the breezes on hot summer days despite being urban with a small lot. It’s been great even through the recent heat and humidity waves. Better windows, more insulation and off grid heating capacity are in the plans.

    I’d love a farm, but this is my second favorite choice.If I needed to give up my vehicle, we could, and there’s an underused but working rail line into town. We’re building community as well. I love that I already have two other neighbors who have converted front yards to food and that the town has an active group of people working to improve downtown and get people to buy local. There’s lots of room for improvement, but there are people doing something.

    As a family, we’re learning to raise urban rabbits for fiber and food.I suspect the neighbor and I will be talking chickens soon.

    We also homeschool – sustainability figures into our learning as well as our lives. I spend a fair amount of time working to gently teach people that the options facing us aren’t always black and white and that intermediate steps are worth doing. We may get to the time that isn’t true, but right now, it gets them moving and thinking.

    I sometimes feel torn about having dogs in our urban situation, but I’m working with an old, rare, general purpose small-medium farm dog breed. It’s breed for which I see a future place on small farms. I have mostly converted their diets to locally raised food.

  6. #6 Lora
    July 26, 2010

    From Lancaster, PA. Dad’s family all Old Order Mennonite & Amish, Mom’s family Pennsylvania Dutch (big difference, do not confuse the two), grew up doing chores on the farms of aunts, uncles & cousins. When I went to grad school at one of the old land-grant universities, I was solemnly informed by most of the Ag faculty that the way my relatives farm and eat was simply impossible. The ones who conceded that it was possible, claimed that only Anabaptists could do such a thing as they had “a special relationship with god”. I am not kidding, and these people reckoned themselves to be scientists. I TA’ed some of their students who suffered through my microbiology lectures. They were not the best students ever.

    Worked for a contractor that did sterilization services of large buildings post-Sept. 11, and got to see the inside of a large slaughterhouse, do contamination analysis for a nut-processing plant, among other things. Some years later, worked for Big Pharma with many ex-Monsanto employees who had hair-raising stories to tell.

    As a result, I harbor what I am told is a completely unreasonable antipathy towards processed food and agribusiness. Currently work for Big Pharma in biotech, and get reallyfuckinannoyed when Big Ag biotech dweebs attempt to condescend to me or tell me I am anti-science. So I am very very glad you are here as a counterpoint to all the stupid “that’s impossible” crap that is flung in the direction of minimal-risk farming.

    (Note, I dunno what else to call it. “Minimize risk by diversifying crops to stabilize annual economic risk and working to build ecosystems within the boundaries of healthy ecology” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. These days I view it more like the farmer refusing to take on all the business risk that the processors refuse to take on themselves. Call it what you will.)

    Also, thanks to both my Anabaptist family and being poorer than dirt for my adolescence and a good part of adulthood, I am incurably frugal.

  7. I comment occasionally, have read your blog(s) for at least two years, and took one of your classes. I homestead on less than an acre with gardens, perennial fruits, poultry, and honey bees; blog; buy in bulk; put up food; teach cooking classes; dumpster dive at construction sites; stretch pennies; and drag my husband along on my thrivalist escapades. When I feel it could make a difference, I talk to people about peak everything, climate change, and the economy, to the extent I am able.

    I didn’t chime in on the whole “peasant” debate that just occurred, but I sometimes refer to myself as a suburban peasant. I like the word, and I think it deserves to be “taken back” by its own constituents as much as any derogatory epithet ever did.

  8. #8 brigindo
    July 26, 2010

    I’ve been reading since Zuska first directed devoted followers to your blog. A goat farm has long been a dream for my husband and I but instead I live vicariously through you.

  9. #9 Russell
    July 26, 2010

    Hmmmm…. I don’t know that I do much at all to save the world. Sometimes, I advocate for a carbon tax, but that seems pretty unlikely at this point, unless the Dems manage to sell it not as an environmental program, but as revenue increase that is alternative to other, more painful taxes.

    But I appreciate the world. Watch birds. Plant natives. Eat veggies. Oops… and fish.

  10. #10 Mike W
    July 26, 2010

    I’ve been reading your writings for a few years now, Sharon, but have never commented. I’m near Sydney, Australia, and after years of making plans but never following through, I dug over a small patch and planted my first vegetables in the garden on the weekend, in a terraced bed surrounded with discarded bricks and sandstone rocks sourced from under the house. We’ve a long way to go, but at least it’s a start.

  11. #11 Brenda
    July 26, 2010

    My husband and I could pass for survivalists, but secretly I think we’re raising food because we get a kick out of it. (Seriously, it is so exciting to look down at your plate and think, I grew this.) I’m glad you wrote Nation of Farmers because that means I didn’t have to… and so if anyone asks me why the heck I’m doing what I do, I can hand them the “manifesto.”

  12. #12 Sarah
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon, I have been reading your blog for a long time. I have a pretty gloomy view of the future and find your blog pretty positive all things considered. I love growing things, experimenting in the garden, saving seeds etc. I live in a small town and wish I had a farm. I have 7 chickens in my front yard. My kids are almost grown so I feel change in the wind!

  13. #13 derek jacoby
    July 26, 2010

    Hi,

    I followed to scienceblogs and back. I’m a master’s student at the university of victoria, in British Columbia, Canada. This summer I’m at NASA Ames at Singularity University, though. We have a set of team projects to work on, and my focus is urban farming! We’re looking at hydroponic and aeroponic growing solutions for people without yards.

    –Derek

  14. #14 Justin Corwin
    July 26, 2010

    Long-time lurker. I’m an AI researcher by day, and I help run a Hackerspace by night, and in-between I speculate and plot and wish I had more hours in the day for even more to do.

    Living in LA, and very much enjoying the bits on urban resilience here and elsewhere in the community.

  15. #15 Chris Evo
    July 26, 2010

    I just started reading your blog in the last couple of months after being completely fascinated by most of your posts that ended up in the scienceblogs select feed since I first found it, so I’m still wrapping my head around the whole sustainability issue.

    Right now I live on a pretty modest diet in a small, crowded house. Over the next year I’m going to try and do more research about what grows reliably in this part of the world and try to trick my culinarily unadventurous roommates into a more local sort of diet. We’ve already got a deal set up with a local egg provider, at least, and none of us drive very much. My dad’s taken an interest in sustainable gardening over the last few years, so I’ve started talking to him more lately to get some advice on what to plant this coming spring. Maybe next year I’ll be able to cook him something nice when he visits.

  16. #16 Fatima
    July 26, 2010

    I’m a country girl. We lived in town when we first married and I couldn’t stand not having the open countryside and a garden. I always wanted off the farm, but now I just want to grow my own food and get my hands in the dirt. Feels like home to me!
    I would never call myself an “environmentalist” because it seems to be a word far too loaded with meanings. Rather, I would say I’m a person who loves the beautiful world we’ve been given. I thank God for such beauty and abundance. I want to do my part to keep it as nice as possible for my children.
    My heart is sickened by the wasteful way we use up resources. We are slowly changing our lifestyle and frequently documenting it on my silly little blog.
    Thanks for sharing your life with us. Makes it easier to make the changes when you know you aren’t alone.

  17. #17 knutty knitter
    July 26, 2010

    I’ve been around quite a while now and occasionally comment. I have chickens but not much else – just a few veg but I do all the other stuff and teach it too so if you want a handspun jersey or a quilt or a decoration (and why not – I’ve never seen the need to be spartan to that extent!) or learn a musical instrument or mend a sock etc etc I can show you how. I also make a mean tomato relish :)

    I live in a small city with lots of trees and farmland nearby. Our house is small and old but fairly well insulated (and improving as we can afford it) with a husband and two boys, one a teen and one almost teen. I would like to be more in the garden but suffer from poor health. I do what I can.

    viv in nz

  18. #18 Sarah
    July 26, 2010

    I used to comment more than I do…maybe I’ll get back in the habit. I had delicious dinner today of tiny potatoes from the CSA farm. We just moved into a new apartment and I have a big blue room which is entirely my own and which I will fill with fiber crafts. It has room to set up the walking wheel I inherited from my great-grandmother. :-) I am learning ritual calligraphy, which is not particularly planet-saving on its own but definitely adds to my pre-industrial skillset. I’m planning to try to make ink at some point.

  19. #19 Aimee
    July 26, 2010

    Hi there
    I’ve commented a few times, been reading for about a year, and enjoyed “independence days.” my husband and I are living a semi- independent lifestyle on 5 acres in NW Washington. He is a self emplyed mechanic and master of the long term energy independence plan ( so far that means home brew biodiesel for our cars but in the. Future we hope it will include homemade wind turbines as well). I am the goatherd, chicken wrangler, kitchen witch, gardener, and cheesemaker-on-chief. We both raise our three daughters and try to live lightly. Between our own farm products and produce of our trade network, we manage to get about half our food without buying it from the store. I am slowly getting better at such preservation methods as charcuterie and brewery to add to canning and drying. My efforts are chronicled over at my blog, http://www.newtofarmlife.blogspot.com

  20. #20 Craig
    July 26, 2010

    Fine, I’ll bite…

    My wife, one year old daughter, and I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    We are decentralists, liberty activists, gardeners, readers, and travelers. I am also a software engineer, and my wife is a nurse. I publish a weekly newsletter which can be gotten from http://www.craigwwright.com.

    I love my family, my friends, Chinese martial arts (Wing Chun and Bak Mei), creating good software, reading, and being of use to others.

    I abhor top-down solutions, authoritarians, statists on all sides, busy bodies, religious zealots, eco-fascists, empire, the indolent, freeloaders, enablers of freeloaders, big government, big labor, and big business.

    Cheers!

  21. #21 Erin
    July 26, 2010

    Hi!

    I’m taking one of your online classes. I found you because a friend of mine from high school of all places (we’re 40 now) decided to move to Sweden. She currently lives in a mobile home in Massachusetts and in order to save money she all but turned off her heat this past winter. She was asking about ways to conserve/keep warm in the meantime. My googlefu brought me to your blog post on just such a topic. I’ve been hooked ever since, now with both your blogs on my menu bar and having read all 3 books. I’m a died in the wool libertarian and while you & I would probably have heated political debates, you made the most articulate arguments for the liberal side I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. And to be perfectly honest you made me change my mind about a few things and think about others a lot. You also brought to the forefront and brought direction to some things we’d been doing but not in a coherent way. Now we are almost totally local for grocery items and are on the road to producing a much larger percentage of that food as well.

    I don’t normally comment here because I am frequently reading weeks behind. Being new to a sustainable lifestyle, it still takes me a lot of time. Add in 3 active boys I home school, a few health issues for good measure and well, I’m just always running behind. :) It’s all good.

    ~Erin

  22. #22 Another Viv from NZ
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon, Iv’e been reading your blog for a few months,I’m impressed by how you cover so many topics so well. Whether it’s been about peak oil, food, managing a household or Elmo,you are always good to read.
    I live with my husband and 3 kids on 25 acres about 25 miles from a small city in the South Island of New Zealand. I drive my family to the city each day for work and school and so try hard to make up for the big carbon footprint that makes by planting hundreds of trees each year ,at home and in community projects. We grow ever increasing amounts of our own food, keep sheep and chickens. We try not to buy too much new stuff, try to fix & make and buy 2nd hand on trade me and I like to use the broadband connection at work at lunch break to read my favourite writers, usually starting with your blog. All the best, Viv

  23. #23 auntieintellectual
    July 26, 2010

    A frustrated housewife from Raleigh,
    I’d give up my car for a trolley.
    I’m in search of a way,
    To make better each day,
    But I find my own life full of folly.

  24. #24 Kate
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon,
    I am slowly trying to organize my thoughts into our story. We have four children still at home. We have cut our energy usage by 80%. We are growing 80% of our food. This year we started a CSA. We only have four members but you have start somewhere right? My husband is planning to take some produce to the farmer’s market this week using a friends spot. He will sell the friend’s produce as well. We are doing this in part for a gallon of honey and part to get some income. I work two part-time jobs. We have no health care and we don’t miss it. I have a sister who is a pediatrician but we have learned a lot about herbs and use them as an alternative. I have two asthmatics who are managing their care with herbs. They are younger than most asthmatics out there ( I have two nieces who are asthmatic and rely on medicine). The boys read science books often and amaze me with their factoids.
    We are happy even though our annual income this year will be about less than $10,000. I know that in an earlier post you were worrying about not having the safety net. It can be managed but you have to really cut out much.
    Thanks for asking.
    Take care,
    Kate

  25. #25 Mandarina
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon,
    I once commented as Mandarina on your old, old blog, and you did me the very great honour of devoting your entire next post to addressing my concern.

    Many of the things I read here (and I read you religiously) shape the way I live my life with my partner and two six year olds in Sydney – though not as much as they should.

    Australia, it seems, has the mixed fortune of evading the worst of the GFC, which I would argue has made us complacent. We’re about to head into our second “Climate Change” federal election.

    My work involves trying to re-orient financial markets towards an improved consideration of environmental and social factors. The business I work for is underpinned by public sector pension funds (many with links to the labour movement) – in my view organisations with a lot to offer as one of the “existing community groups / networks” akin to churches that could be helpful in spreading understanding, influence and action on these issues.

    I read for your entries about social and environmental issues, enjoy your entries on family and tend to skip the Independence Days updates. I find it very hard to visualise enough room on ANY farm for the amount of stuff you seem to grow – but my experience outside of the urban is limited. I do, however, fantasise about having chickens.

    I made a pact with myself when you began the Riot for Austerity that although I couldn’t sign up to that, that I would guarantee 50% down, but would expend social capital on getting a further two households per year to follow me in the project (figuring that getting my best friends’ lighbulbs changed, and their kids catching the bus instead of being driven to school have a higher cost-benefit payoff than switching off our fridge). I continue to believe there is merit in this approach for building community consensus – this being the key thing preventing greater action in this (generally) affluent, resource-rich and GFC insulated, welfare-generous, down-under juristiction. In Australia, voting is compulsory.

    I have pondered the application of permaculture principles to housework for many months, wishing to give back something for all the insight you have provided to me (and via me, to a circle of Sydneysiders). I’m still working on it.

    Thank you for blogging. You really do make a big difference.

  26. #26 Chiral
    July 26, 2010

    I’ve commented a few times. I’m Sharon, too. I found this blog since you moved to scienceblogs. I think I was bored and just clicking through the blogs looking for something interesting to read and now you’re one of the few I look at everyday.

    I’m an electrical engineer. I work on flash memory (memory cards for digital cameras, etc). I wish I could get a job doing something that is more “save-the-world”, but I haven’t been able to with my background. I’m hoping that once my SO graduates from college and gets a job that I might be able to go back to school and do something better for the second half of my life.

    I grow what I can in containers on my tiny (covered, west-facing) balcony in Silicon Valley. I want to buy a bit of land somewhere a little further east (I mentally consider the Rockies to be my mountains and would like to be closer) but have to manage to get a job over there somehow first.

    I live as close as I can to work (about 4 miles) and am trying to get to the point where I can ride my bike, but I have connective tissue problems and might never get to the point where I can do it without injuring myself.

    I shop at the farmers’ market, have been drying my own fruit and canning a bit this year. I’m building a solar dehydrator but it’s taking me longer than I’d hoped. I just stick trays in my car for now.

    I started making cheese from local cows’ milk a few months ago, but I’m not to the point where I make all of our cheese. Any hard cheese I make seems to taste like cheddar, which is a bit disappointing and gets a bit boring. I do make batches of quark and homemade granola every week or so, and we eat that every day for breakfast. I love baking bread, too, and am much better at that but I can’t handle the hot house in the summer since I don’t have A/C.

    My SO and I have saved 37 2-liter bottles of water now. I think it’s going to take us a few 3-month cycles to actually get up to the 120 I want, but we’re better now than we were.

    I also make my own soap, although since I have to buy the oils (and now, lye, thanks meth labs!) I’m not sure if that’s very environmentally friendly or not. I knit and spin yarn and I’m trying to get into weaving and sewing, but they don’t come as naturally to me.

    Mostly I guess I just try to do things as locally as possible. I don’t always succeed, but I keep on trying and get a little better at it all the time.

  27. #27 Martha Beddoe
    July 26, 2010

    Hi! I took your last adapting in place class, and got too busy with major life changes to keep up! well, it was a good class, and thanks for letting me participate.

    I garden, I’m working on living with more people at once, I buy as locally as I can, and i worry too much.

    If you have cats (and like them), here is a little bit of kitty libretto:

    O Cat! We do admire thy prowess
    But please leave outside thy dead mouwess.

    (A little bit of license there?) :-)Martha

  28. #28 Orchid
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon,
    My name is Orchid, and I’ve been lurking since mid-2006. At the time, I had my own business and was caring for my increasingly disabled former partner with M.S.. While I came for the philosophy about peak oil, living lightly, and what to do next, I stayed for how to store food and live from it. As you can imagine, our finances were taxed to the max with co-pays, despite having good health insurance from a business we shared. I became a member of a truck co-op, and started ordering dried beans, oatmeal & quinoa, and learning how to cook them in the crock pot, while getting myself urban chickens, and making cottage cheese, thus making our ends almost meet (our ends barely met, but at least they were internet dating).

    I think I’ve posted just twice, once on socks and where to find a pattern for felted boots, and once on debt.

    My family on my mom’s side had lived frugally through the depression, and so I have gardening and composting skills, and have always had a vegetable garden, even when the only place to garden was in containers in an alley.

    My business/life work is connecting people to nature through designing native plant gardens, lecturing, and doing workshops on foraged food, particularly acorns. I have a blog, but mostly use it to announce my events and provide resource links and portfolio.

    I’ve taken the permaculture design course, and while I feel that it is a very organized way to teach principles of sustainability, it is still very anthrocentric, and eurocentric. I have some difficulty with teaching people how to create more food with out promoting population limits (originally in the principles, but reworked). I feel that violates a basic ecological principle, that providing more food to a species can create overshoot in the species relative to its environment. I also have concerns about some practitioners promoting invasive plants as solutions to human problems. Nonetheless, I frequently use the principles in my design work, and taught them in my recent class on Sustainable Garden Practice at UCLA Extension. BTW, your book “A Nation of Farmers” was recommended reading in that class.

    One idea which I have meant to bring to your attention is the idea of creating mixed landraces of various plants. The best iteration of this is in Gary Paul Nabhan’s book on Vavilov, “Where Our Food Comes From,” in the chapter about Ethiopian wheat (the origin of wheat is in Ethiopia). Instead of saving just one heirloom type of a plant and replanting, some Ethiopian farmers plant up to 14 types in a field, because they have erratic weather, and some will do better than others in any given year. This avoids total crop failure from one pest or weather event. I feel this idea merits a place in the discussion of saving seed.

    I’m glad for the opportunity to de-lurk, and come out of the closet, so to speak. I recommend your blog frequently to others. I appreciate all you’ve done to help people move towards a more realistic use of energy and a more connected world, thanks again,
    Orchid

  29. #29 becca
    July 26, 2010

    I’m me. Addicted to scienceblogs. Compulsive commenter, though I lurk a fair amount here.
    I started a veggie eco-friendly co-op in undergrad, but nowadays I’m not doing much of anything to save the world. Unless trying to cure malaria counts. Oh, but a farmers market has arrived to my campus and so now I am getting most of my fresh food type food there (not my lentils though. Do lentils even grow in Pa?).

  30. #30 Adrienne
    July 26, 2010

    Hiya- I comment from time to time, but mostly take inspiration from your blogs, Sharon.

    I’m a single person trying to live as sustainably as i can in an apartment in Lawrence, Kansas, which is to say, not very. However, over the past two years I’ve gone from a totally mainstream American lifestyle to putting a heavy emphasis on eating local/ sustainable food and just being generally conscious of what I’m using or buying and where it came from and what it’s made of. I’m a knitter, and it was through blogs found through knitting that I came to be aware of sustainability issues. I don’t think I’m saving the world but I hope that sometimes my friends and family might be influenced when I say we don’t need a bunker for the Zombie Apocalypse, we need a farm.

  31. #31 Anna
    July 26, 2010

    I’ve commented a few times….though mostly I just read.

    I live on .33 acres with 6 other people, 5 goats, a few chickens, some rabbits, 4 pigeons and 2 dogs and a few cats. We’re (I’m) trying to grow as much food as I can, while working on a small farm 6 miles away, which I commute to by bike.

    My fiance and I are hoping to (after we get married) move to a slightly larger farm (say, between 2.5 to 5 acres), and raise enough crops to sell and support our selves, in a very frugal life-style.

    One of the things I’m most excited about right now is the fact that I made feta from my goat’s milk, and it’s really good.

  32. #32 curiousalexa
    July 26, 2010

    Gosh, I have no idea when I started reading your stuff Sharon! I *think* I found you via the Riot, but I’m really not sure. It’s been several years, that’s for sure. I think you had just moved to your own domain instead of blogger or wordpress or whatever.

    What am I doing? Well, homesteading really. Current population includes three pigs, about 20 chickens, two turkeys and two ducks that are more for entertainment than food, and a core rabbit herd of 18 plus an ever changing number of offspring for both meat and fur which I tan myself. I keep *trying* to grow food, but somehow plants elude me more than animals. Maybe because they die so quietly? Plus they’re waaaay down there on the ground [g].

    I’m living with a friend who owns the property while I build my own place back in the woods. I am semi-retired (aka unemployed in a rural area) so have the time to experiment if not the money. I just need to spend less time reading and more time doing, making mistakes, and doing differently!

  33. #33 D. C. Sessions
    July 26, 2010

    Yup, this really is my name. Honest.

    Electrical engineer (with chaotic education) working on analog parts of microcontrollers. Which, lately, seem to be going into a lot of smart grid applications. Yea!

    Personally? We’re doing the pilot installation of a low-water grass variety for central Arizona, grow enough stuff in the honking huge back yard to feed half of the office with foods that they can’t get in stores, demo low-water-use native landscaping that keeps the house shaded, and $HERSELF blogs and teaches about kitchen gardening in the desert.

    Some of these days I’ll sell this place and move to a small town where I don’t have to drive everywhere. Like, say, in New Mexico. I keep telling myself that.

  34. #34 Lyle
    July 26, 2010

    Oh, sure, put us on the spot why don’t you?

    Live in western Massachusetts, helping out on the family farm, taking care of about 90 cage-free (but not free range) chickens (for selling eggs from the farm and to two local stores), as well as working with my wife to take care of the farm’s vegetable gardens (there are four). Trying to work out ways to do my farm work without using power equipment, but sometimes the work needs to be done now, and (for example) the power scythe comes out when I would rather just use one of the old scythes.

  35. #35 Cathy M.
    July 26, 2010

    Hi, Sharon!

    I’ve been lurking for about a year; I found you through either/both Science Blogs and ArchDruid Report (where I comment frequently). I love your postings and have learned a lot and enjoy the encouragement! I had a major life change about 3 years ago, and now live on 3/4 acre in OR, with chickens & a garden that is a 4-circuit labyrinth (okay, the artist won over the gardener), in a tiny house that I own, w/well & septic, and I have found to my delight that alone I need less than half of what it used to cost me to live, and I enjoy cooking almost everything from scratch, and saving seed and making jams & pickles (lots of berry bushes). I can work from home, and freelance for a non-profit that encourages schoolkids to “green” their schools… I’m struggling a bit as I drop further out of the American Dream and find my friends and family looking more askance… there are large gaps in the conversations, as my life focuses more on living simply (for moral as well as economic reasons) and being able to (or at least know how to) live mostly manually (woodstove; handpump backup to well pump)just in case. I have always loved cooking & baking, gardening and almost all crafts — so I seem to have been born to self-sufficiency! It makes me an “ugly duckling” in the family, but at 54, I’ve learned that everyone chooses their journey and it’s not mine to judge. Thanks for the invite to de-lurk; I would love to comment more on yours and several blogs, but keeping a house and “homestead-ette” mostly by hand takes much of the day!!

  36. #36 Raymond R
    July 26, 2010

    I don’t usually make comments but I like your blog and I read your book – Depletion & Abundance . Keep up the good work.

    I am a 53 year old Canadian geologist with three teenagers, a cat and a wife who shares my interest in gardening

  37. #37 Jim Thomerson
    July 26, 2010

    I grew up living pretty much the life you are aspiring to. You can Google me but be aware there is a lawyer of the same name who is not me.

  38. #38 Lisa
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon,

    I’ve been reading your posts but not commenting (although I am the person who recently awarded you the Blog With Substance award).

    My husband and I have always enjoyed the intellectual exercise of figuring out what life would look like post-collapse. We think about doing some of the things that you and your husband actually are doing. Maybe someday we’ll be able to make the leap entirely.

    FWIW, I’m the only SAHM in our upscale urban neighborhood who has a huge vegetable garden, hangs her laundry out to dry, likes to discuss things like peak oil, and homeschools her kids. Needless to say, I don’t fit in. I’m looking forward to finding a location someday that’s a better fit (i.e. all by ourselves on a self-sufficient farm).

    Keep up the great work on your blog — it’s very inspiring!

  39. #39 Shira
    July 26, 2010

    I used to be nuts, for decades even, but actually, I was just ahead of the curve. Nice to have company.

    What’s with the electrical engineers, already? What happened to the coterie of librarians?

    I’m an electrical engineer.

  40. #40 Jean Smith
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Sharon, I have been following you for the last couple of years – first on “Ye Old Blog” and now here. I really enjoy the information that you share. I grew up on a medium sized cattle ranch in western South Dakota and my husband and I returned there to work after college (1973). We were looking for that simple, sustainable, low impact way of life – way back then. We lived in a “modernized” log house with electricity, running water, and a toilet that flushed. We also had a wood cookstove, electric wringer washing machine, chickens, goats and of course all the grass fed beef we could eat. It was a great life and I never imagined ever giving it up but health issues and babies required that we leave the ranch for the rural town where we now live. We have always gardened and preserved the harvest. Winters here are tough and the fresh taste of the food we “put by” is always a reminder of good things to come in the next season. I so enjoy your blog and have learned about many new things to try in my garden. Thank you so much.

  41. #41 Stacy C.
    July 26, 2010

    I’m the mom of two teenagers, living in Portland, OR. My husband is a biologist and I work on various projects from home. My most recent was a move so we could reduce our commute time and sell our overpriced house. Our son is researching urban beekeeping and my 13 yo daughter is head gardener. My sweet husband is the chicken whisperer–he clucks to them and I can’t prove it, but I think they lay better for it.

  42. #42 Justin Russell
    July 26, 2010

    Hello Sharon and friends,

    Okay. Confession time. I’ve been lurking at Casaubon’s Book for a few years and as far as I can remember, have simply read and learned but never posted a comment. Until today!

    I’m a gardening journalist based in the village of Hampton, southern Queensland, Australia, and live with my wife and three young children in a farm cottage on a bit under two acres of former dairy country. We’re doing our best to live as simply, but richly as possible. For us that means tending a productive vegetable garden, growing lots of fruit trees, keeping rare breed chickens and other small livestock, and running a small heritage fruits nursery from home. To minimise our consumption, we’ve chosen to deliberately live on or about the poverty line.

    If this all sounds a bit austere, it’s not! Our life together as a family is, other than the odd challenge or two, wonderfully idyllic and deeply fulfilling. We wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China.

    Thanks, Sharon, for the effort you’ve put into this blog to date. Yours is a voice of down-to-earth clarity and wisdom. I never fail to read your posts without either learning something new, or switching off the computer feeling inspired.

    Cheers,

    Justin

  43. #43 Ed Straker
    July 26, 2010

    I have commented often, usually to play devil’s advocate with some of your posts (which you respond to more courteously than John Michael Greer, BTW.)

    The reason I like to play devil’s advocate is that I tend to look at collapse through a psychological and ethical lens. I think finding truth and purpose despite the looming s**t-storm is the big challenge, perhaps moreso than just engineering personal survival. Along the way, whether we’re denialists or doomers, we’re dogged by cognitive biases that cloud our ability to see the world as it is and what is or isn’t feasible. Once we agree that the future’s gonna be dire, that it’s a dilemma and not a problem that can be 100% solved, we struggle with the existential questions of what to do about it.

    This is territory that Nate at The Oil Drum loves to write about in long technical essays, and the more philosophical and ethical stuff would be in the realm of Joanna Macy (I’m about to start reading her books) and deep ecology.

    But I don’t come from an academic or Buddhist background. Ultimately I’m just a Generation-X nerd, a single father, a veteran web developer and technophile to whom powerdown and green thumbs don’t come naturally. So in a way I’m a case study for what happens when someone outside of the “usual suspects” drops a red pill and struggles with the BAU vs. earth-steward dichotomy.

    In my case I’m pining away for a VT doomstead while making do as a borderline freeloader in my parents’ paid-off (but crumbling) suburban house near Boston. I’ve got tomatoes and asparagus in the front yard, three sisters in a corner of the back, grafted crabapple trees, and soon to raise a geodesic greenhous where an aboveground pool used to be.

    I took transition training last year but it’s just NOT gonna happen in this town. The demographics are completely wrong. In fact the town is becoming more McMansionized by the day. Massachusetts may have a reputation as being liberal, but I’d say it’s more “latte” than liberal in these yuppie areas.

    While I pine away for the doomstead, I’m also aware of how hard it would be to actually live that existence, and even harder without the full buy-in of my family. So I’ve been stuck in this creeping paralysis for the last couple of years, which is why I started my blog (see the URL field). It didn’t help that until the last couple of weeks I had been unemployed for 7 months.

    I’ve also used my xtranormal videos as a form of personal katharsis. (see bauchannel and astrachannel on youtube). Sort of like the Dark Mountain Project by way of Robot Chicken. Sometimes you have to mix some laughter in with the pathos.

    I enjoy reading your blog. I stopped reading peak shrink because I think she’s gotten a little too rage-filled. For the same reason, Derrick Jensen and his ilk turn me off. While I think people deserve to be called to task for outright selfishness, I think we also have to be understanding of human frailties, and try to reach people who can be reached. I don’t exactly know how to do this effectively, but maybe my role is to do it through the videos (if I ever finish my storylines).

    Anyway, sorry for using so much screen real estate.

  44. #44 Milton Dixon
    July 26, 2010

    I live in Chicago and spend my time divided between permaculture and teaching 4-yr olds to play classical guitar.

  45. #45 Anonymous
    July 27, 2010

    Homesteaded an old worn-out 40 in northern Wisconsin in the ’70′s, and still here, though now it’s an 80. Spent years planting thousands of trees and hauling tons of manure and other organic matter—whatever we could get our hands on—until today the place is full of trees and the garden soil is rich enough to grow almost anything. My advice: do these things while you’re young and strong and let the trees and soil be the main part of your “retirement account.” However, on a homestead there is no true retirement and we still work to finish a house, grow food, make firewood, and much more. It’s a struggle, but worth it.

    Are younger, would-be back-to-the-landers aware of Helen and Scott Nearing? They inspired me 40 years ago and their books are still worthy of consideration, though the problems of their time seem pretty simple compared to what we face today. Sharon is just about the perfect writer for these times.

  46. #46 This Scientist
    July 27, 2010

    I’m a biology graduate student slowly forming educated opinions on sustainable living and what “organic” really means. Thanks for being a huge part of that education! I mostly read the canning/farming/dairying posts, as I’m interested in the possibility of having some land and chickens and goats after I graduate. I love the step-by-step detail of your posts, mixed with the personal anecdotes. I am consistently amazed at your thoroughness and knowledge!!

  47. #47 Will
    July 27, 2010

    Hi Sharon,

    I ran into you at NESEA’s Building Energy 10, after your talk, which was great- I work in Waterbury, CT, trying to figure out how to get people to buy any kind of energy retrofit instead of granite counter tops. It’s mostly a challenge every day. I appreciate your ability to offer constructive advice without any pretending we’re not in a bad spot- thanks!

  48. #48 Kyle
    July 27, 2010

    Hi, Sharon,
    I love reading your blog, though I’m always a lurker, never a commenter. I’m the program manager for an educational tv station, married with two kids. My wife teaches gifted and talented first graders. We live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, UT, on a (very) small urban farm, only a half-acre total; lots of vegetables, a few fruit trees, getting some chickens and rabbits soon. We have a large peony patch, a leftover from when my wife’s grandparents owned the place.
    I’d like to switch our home to solar power, but having a hard time coming up with the cash. (The last bid I received was $52,000). If only I knew how to do it myself.
    Another future project is beekeeping – some friends have a few hives, and they’re going to teach us.
    We live in an older neighborhood, with a lot of gardeners as neighbors. Some have chickens, and there are even some horses down the street, in a corral that was grandfathered in when the area was rezoned as residential. It’s also a diverse area, with neighbors from the Netherlands, Italy, Morocco, Mexico, and others I’m not sure of. We share our vegetables and get great food in return. All-in-all a good place to live.
    Thanks for all of the interesting material here. My favorite pastimes are reading and learning, and I get to both with your blog.

  49. #49 Charlotte (not my real name)
    July 27, 2010

    Hi Sharon,

    I got your “Depletion and Abundance” from the library last year, read it, and felt the whole time like “wow, this is a book that I could have written myself, except that I can’t write that well.” So I’ve been following your blog(s) faithfully since, and really enjoy your posts and insightful writing.

    I am happily pursuing backyard farming (sadly our town doesn’t allow chickens… yet… a few friends and I are working on that!), but I’m growing tons of stuff, experimenting with others (potatoes in partial shade under a Norway maple? Well, they’re growing – fall will show whether they’re actually producing anything!), and over the last year have gotten a lot more conscious about being prepared for who-knows-what disasters. Just ordered a wood stove to be installed later this month, and a manual grain mill; these were the last two big items missing from the list.

    Of your posts, I most enjoy descriptions of your everyday life (the baby goat post was phantastic!), and especially what you specifically do (rather than philosophically waxing about it – though that’s sometimes important, too) in preparation for peak oil induced disasters.

    Keep posting! Thanks.

  50. #50 craftydabbler
    July 27, 2010

    Hi, I found you back during the R4A. I got very discouraged because of mold problems. I couldn’t dry clothes indoors or let my heat get below 67°. I wasn’t ever very vocal, but then I completely dropped contact. I re-found you recently. I’m glad I did. Keep going, posting, being such an inspiration. Thank you!

  51. #51 AnneT
    July 27, 2010

    I blog my travels more than I do what I do at home. But indicative of my life, I suppose, is that I spent the evening before my departure on my current trip coaching my neighbor in how to do pressure canning. She’s done it before with my help, but wanted a refresher. Another neighbor was there and the two also told me of their plans to construct an outdoor baking oven. Then just yesterday my husband and I were at a historic ranch museum and were able to sample some bread fresh out of a horno. I’m sharing some garden space with another friend, who is watering my garden while I am away and overseeing some fall crop seedlings in her indoor sun room. We’ll share the fall crops.

    Oh, and I’ve used your “Piece by Piece — Responding to the Crisis” in a weekend workshop on how we can live in right relationship with the earth for a regional gathering of Quakers here in Ontario.

  52. #52 Cathy
    July 27, 2010

    I’m about to start chemistry grad school in Colorado. I’ve been reading your blog since it moved to scienceblogs; I may or may not have commented before but I never manage to remember what name I used. I’ll have a garden, even if it might not be more than scallions in pots. I’d like to have backyard chickens, but don’t know whether my living situation will permit it. I really like to make jam, and am cheap to the point that I probably won’t get a fridge.

  53. #53 C.Ll.Graves
    July 27, 2010

    Been following this (and the last blog) with interest – thanks for the writing! Got some urban agriculture going in a (large) friend’s back gardening the middle of the city (Cardiff, capital of wales) and working to get a community garden for an asylum-charity established. Also trying to get peak-oil awareness translated into Welsh, which is tough!

  54. #54 Eva
    July 27, 2010

    I’ve been following you after my husband who writes a blog called Restoring Mayberry pointed you out to me as an excellent read, he was right. I live in the middle of Co. Kildare in Ireland with my Mother, Husband and 6 year old daughter. We have a large garden that is coming along nicely which will supply the majority of our veggie needs by next year. We are also planning on keeping a few chickens just as soon as we can find the time to build a good chicken run which will keep the foxes out. In my spare time I work for a large College in the center of Dublin to which I commute every morning by bus. I dream of completely getting out of the rodent race someday but in the meantime am making changes step by step.

  55. #55 tim-10-ber
    July 27, 2010

    Hello Sharon — my name is Elizabeth. I having been reading your blogs for a few years and have done a couple of your classes. I have a question…Is it possible to follow just your blog on facebook vs all of the other items on the science blogs…I see the other articles post but not yours…

    thanks and keep up the great work –

    Elizabeth

  56. #56 Natimukjen
    July 27, 2010

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and read Sharon’s blogs regularly. I also read James Howard Kunstler, The Automatic Earth, Dmitry Orlov, John Michael Greer, Richard Heinberg and some others. You all complement each other so well and I feel blessed to be able to read all you wonderful people on the internet. I won’t miss a lot of the trappings of modern life as The Long Emergency unfolds, but if we lose the internet we will have lost a truly marvellous thing.I would love to say I also read local Australian equivalents of the above but there aren’t any. So what am I doing to make a difference? We are about to renovate our house to get it as close as possible to passivhaus standard – a difficult and expensive thing to retrofit. We had to go back into debt to do this but after hearing Stoneleigh’s presentation to the Transition Conference in Devon, and her interview on Two Beers with Steve, I’m doubting the wisdom of this. However we are too far along with the process to stop it now. This is a great area to live – I’m within easy walking distance of all facilities including public transport and a large hospital. But most of the houses around here were the cheap urban sprawl of their day (some 40 or more years ago). Because of the great location houses sell for more than a million dollars, but then they are so shoddy and renovating is so expensive, they get knocked down and replaced (usually) with 3 smaller ones. There are fewer and fewer back gardens around here now as a result. We had hoped that our renovation job and the productive garden that is under development could serve as an example of what can be done as an alternative, but most people just think we’re crazy. I gave up my IT job at an insurance company to learn more useful skills for a different future. I’ve been learning to do all sorts of things, such as bottling fruit, making bread and sausages. For a while I maintained a blog of all the things we were doing, starting with re-insulating our roof, and going through the business of establishing a veggie patch and harvesting my first potatoes. But no one ever read it and besides it was under my real name, so I stopped and indeed deleted my entire website. We’ve re-arranged the patterns of our lives so that all the essentials are obtained locally or by bike (or electrified train at the bottom of my street at a pinch). This also helps with getting fit. We still use our car but only for luxuries, so that it can be easily divested when times get tougher. My latest project is curtain making. When I lived in the UK for 6 years, my best friend was a professional curtain maker and I worked as her labourer. She taught me about interlined curtains – curtains made of 3 layers, the middle one like quilter’s batting so that they have wonderful insulating properties. Curtains in Australia aren’t made that way – generally they are only 2 layers with the lining being coated in thick plastic to block out sunlight in the summer. But we have way more cold days than hot ones so good curtains have a role to play in reducing energy used for heating. My first attempt will be curtains for my brother’s house, as his retrofit job is already finished. He has installed double glazed windows, still very rare here, but insulating curtains will still help. After the main renovating job is finished, we want to build a kitchen with a wood stove as a separate small building in the garden. This is because we don’t plan to use it all the time and a burning wood stove in the house on a hot day would be a liability. We have days up to 45 degrees (I don’t know what that is in fahrenheit – we gave up the imperial measurements system in Australia in the 1970′s). My daughter is about to lose her job as it is being outsourced to Asia – yes we are following that same silly self destructive path here, so we are thinking of doing a cheese making course. She’s also going to help me clear out our clutter and sell all my knick knacks on ebay because my collections are just nuts. She’s very good at making jams and pickles, and she wants to help me process my garden produce. We are also getting chickens. So we are having a great life and have much to look forward to.

  57. #57 Timinator
    July 27, 2010

    I used to be a scientist, and I read many ScienceBlogs because it makes me feel like I’m still part of it.

    I’m a mechanical engineer by training. I’ve done research in fluid dynamics (my only paper was on multispan tube vibration damping in fluids). I’ve been a test engineer doing thermal vacuum testing of spacecraft and space components. But then I went into IT/telecom/networking to make real money 12 years ago and have not returned. These days I’m managing sales and operations at a satellite communications company in Australia. So still heavily involved in tech, if not pure science.

    But I still blog about my twin loves of music and science. It keeps my toe in the water, and makes me feel like I haven’t completely lost the world I love. And I’ve got some strong feelings about the damage we can do – and are doing – to the planet, and believe that we need to get accessible, believable knowledge out there to all.

    Keep blogging. It helps me keep in touch.

  58. #58 Anna
    July 27, 2010

    My husband and I homestead in southwest Virginia. We focus on the simpler side of homesteading in our lives and on our blog.

    We live in a trailer older than both of us that we found sans windows in a trailer park and got for free (“If you can haul it away, you can have it.”) We grow all of our vegetables, freezing for the winter, and our fruit trees and bushes are starting to bear. We have laying hens, and this year experimented with broilers (but want to figure out a more sustainable method of raising meat chickens that doesn’t involve masses of storebought feed — working on a forest pasture.)

    Our family and friends think we’re crazy since we have to walk half a mile to get to the house and don’t have indoor plumbing, but we’re slowly building up our life the way we like it.

  59. #59 Laney
    July 27, 2010

    Hi, Sharon. I’m a librarian in Arkansas and have been reading your blog for about three years, mostly lurking, but occasionally commenting.

    Live on 2.5 acres with my husband and daughter. Grow a garden, have berry bushes, fruit and nut trees, and chickens. Plan to butcher our first meat birds next week — say a prayer for me! Collect self-sufficiency books.

    Things I feel guilty about: driving to work, buying/eating industrial meat, keeping the A/C set at 80 degrees. My greatest achievement: raising a bread-baking, chicken-wrangling 13-year-old who is pushing me farther and faster down the road of adapting than I would otherwise be.

    Love your blog. Any chance of bringing back the post-apocalyptic book club?

    Laney

  60. #60 another_grad
    July 27, 2010

    Life sciences grad student here, found you through Science Blogs. Living in suburban hell and counting the years until I can move. I don’t grow my own food yet but I would like to someday, and I do make all my own bread and as much of my food from scratch as I can (this summer’s experiment has been pickles).

  61. #61 chris seymour
    July 27, 2010

    I’ve been reading your blog for several years and have bought and read all three of your books. You were my inspiration to learn to knit socks. I have made several pairs and have taught a friend to make them as well. We have been living in California in the Sierra Nevada foothills on 5 acres for the past 30 years. My husband and my grown son and I have a garden and orchard, chickens and ducks, dogs and cats. We started solar cooking in summer of 2009 and this year the new project is a beehive. Thank you for finding time in your obviously busy day to keep your blogs going.

  62. #62 Michelle
    July 27, 2010

    Hi, Sharon! I’ve been lurking at Causabon’s Book and The Chatelaine’s Keys for about 2 years now…thanks for the kick in the pants to finally post a comment. I am a wife and stay at home mom with 2 kids, living in SE Pennsylvania. I’ve been struggling with living a more sustainable lifestyle, and with bringing my husband and kids on board, since my big “Ah ha!” moment 2 years ago. Unfortunately, that was after we bought the corporate house with all the trappings. What were we thinking? Since it is not feasible to move at this time, we are trying to make the best of it. We have a large garden, with plans for additional beds next year. I’ve planted fruit and nut trees, perennial vegetables and fruit bushes, and we have chickens for the first time this year (hens and broliers). I have vowed never to buy meat from the grocery store again, and we’ve sourced a couple of local farms for beef and dairy as well as goat products.

    I am grateful for blogs like yours and others, which provide me with the encouragement, knowledge and inspiration to continue doing what I’m doing.

    Michelle

  63. #63 Phil Plasma
    July 27, 2010

    I enjoyed reading your posts on ROE2 way back after having been struck dumb when I found the latoc website. Since then I’ve been following your on-line writing pretty consistently, only skipping your longest of posts when I am shortest of time.

    We…
    …live in a suburb of Montreal
    …buy our vegetables from an organic CSA from June to November
    …buy a bulk purchase of meat from an associated farmer once a year
    …capture rain for the garden
    …grow tomatoes, garlic, sweet corn, sweet potato, strawberries, spinach, rhubarb and a few others
    …would love to grow more but are limited in sun due to the mature trees that surround our yard
    …moved closer to work to reduce out commute
    …use a push lawnmower in the summer and a shovel in the winter
    …occasionally bring up climate change and/or peak oil as a topic of conversation

  64. #64 Green Assassin Brigade
    July 27, 2010

    I have my own modest blog where I occassionaly reveal my Doomer fixation.

    I’m an executive for the Local Green party of Canada group, CSA member, actively supporting local democracy groups, modest home, got rid of our second car, walk to transit for work,

    I’m canning, gardening, seed saving,and try live more frugally all the time, all the while preaching to all I meet why its important.

  65. #65 Green Assassin Brigade
    July 27, 2010

    oh,

    and harrassing everyone I know to read your books, esp Depletion and abundance.

  66. #66 Peter
    July 27, 2010

    I live north of Pittsburgh, PA in a real honest-to-goodness small town. My 1/10th acre lot is slowly becoming less yard and more garden as I incrementally tear up sod to establish another bed for something or other. A few laying hens will be coming in a couple weeks to be our first (and probably only) animals. After all, the town frowns on running a farm in your backyard, so the goat will have to wait :)

    I am a consumate lurker on many blogs, including this one. I find the pace of commenting far outstrips my ability to respond in a timely and relevant fashion, so I mostly just skip the comments. The internet is way too much of time-suck for me already. There are weeds to pull and they don’t stop growing while I try to keep up with the blogosphere.

  67. #67 Rune Dimmick
    July 27, 2010

    Hi Sharon,
    I might have commented before, but I have to say that you are a favorite blogger. I appreciate your compassionate and well reasoned writing, and the fact that you face the issues squarely, and without flinching… too much anyway. Keep up the good work. I like hearing about your family and life on the farm. Our kids are all grown now, but at one time we were in much the same situation. It was a hard but happy time.

    All the Best,

    Rune

  68. #68 Heather
    July 27, 2010

    Wow, what a great response! Long time reader, rather than commenter, but will take this opportunity…On “ye olde blogge’ you had two posts that each dealt brilliantly with the intersection of climate change, resource depletion, and economic turmoil. One was titled along the lines of “rock meet hard place”, one had astrophysicist in the title, both were fantastic, and neither show up on my searches of the archives….links would be good, reposts even better, some very important concepts in those posts….pretty please???

  69. #69 Carolyn
    July 27, 2010

    This is my first comment to your blog, and only because you asked for it. I feel that any time you spend reading ME means less time YOU have to write…and I can’t have that! :-)

    I’m “adapting in place.” Four years ago, hubby and I moved into an Energy Star home much closer to my job. He works from home, so a zero commute for him is no change, but we cut my commute by 2/3.

    On our .25 acre, we have planted 3 fruit trees (so far), and the property already had tons of blackberry bushes in the back yard. We’re managing to get a veggie garden up every other year or so; I’m working on improving that. Oh, and this year we added a rain barrel!

    Thanks to your blog, we’ve been building up our pantry, getting to know our neighbors (nurses, doctors, and teachers–we lucked out!), and contributing to our local food pantry. And “when the zombies come,” we stand a good shot at being the local library–the house with all the books to help restart civilization. :-)

    Thank you, Sharon! If shyness prevents me from ever posting again, I want you to know you are changing lives for the better. Please keep up the good work!

  70. #70 Ben
    July 27, 2010

    My wife and I live in the old residential part of what was once a small town but has been growing like ringworm lately. Fortunately we’re close to downtown, and away from the outer ring of Ye Olde Meadowesbrooke Townehomes, or whatever they’re calling the latest residential subdivisions. We moved here one year ago.

    We’re gradually working on increasing our self-sufficiency — every year we try something new. I put in a big garden this spring, and am going to experiment with extending the season. We’ve planted apples and cherries and berries, dug a pond (mostly for aesthetics, but when there’s too much duckweed we compost the excess), brewed mead and beer, put in a beehive, compost our own compostables (and steal the neighbors’ grass clippings for our pile), buy at the local farmer’s market when we can, and lately have been canning like mad. My wife thinks that putting chickens in enforced proximity to a beehive would be a disaster waiting to happen. I haven’t yet come up with a good answer to that; assistance would be appreciated.

    The plans for this winter and next year include: installing a composting toilet, increasing the house’s thermal efficiency, putting in cold frames, and learning blacksmithing. And somewhere in the middle of all that, we’re having a baby.

    I just bought all your books and am working through them — Independence Days was very inspiring. Thanks a lot!

    – Ben

  71. #71 jlene18
    July 27, 2010

    I live in Albuquerque (though hubs and I are originally from Missouri) with my hubs and 2 daughters, and I’ve been reading for a while. Basically I just live vicariously through you *grin*, but we one day hope to have some land…we do what we can on our apartment porch in the city, for now.

  72. #72 Betsy R
    July 27, 2010

    Sharon, thanks for being such an inspiration/ model/ focal point for post-apocalyptic living. I like Kate’s term “thrivalist” to describe it.

    I’ve been following you for 3 years and took the garden design class from you and Aaron. I live with my husband on 1/2 acre in a Central TX city of 50,000 and have an extensive garden and orchard, 5-star green rated house, and do most of our transportation by bike. We buy mostly used goods and our average monthly electric usage is 300kWh, even in AC season. With other people, I’ve co-founded 3 organizations to increase local awareness of sustainable issues.

    We’ve been living with the earth in mind for 35 years, gradually fine-tuning our skills and reducing our impact, but it’s very frustrating how slowly our culture is responding to threats that have been evident for so long. Part of the problem is that there are so few models for how good life could be when we get rid of all the extraneous material goods and change our wasteful lifestyle. That’s why I value your blog. Thank you.

  73. #73 DennisP
    July 27, 2010

    I’ve been reading your blog for probably 8 or 10 months. Generally well-written and argued, always entertaining. But I do wonder that somebody who occasionally exhibits “diarhea of the keyboard” can find the time to publish as many, well-written posts as you do.

    I’m retired, 67 yo, started gardening 5 years ago and now have a 2500 sq.-ft. garden in which the weeds continue to make a monkee out of me. But we have had good crops of squash, onions, green beans, tomatoes, etc. This year we discovered how productive broccoli and cabbage plants can be (with all the rain we are having: 11 inches so far in July!).

    Formerly an academic economist, taught for 30+ years and would now be unemployable because of my rapidly changing views about the real world of dirt,unsustainable agric., peak oil, and so many other things I never knew about and that so many economists still don’t know about, including my former academic colleagues. Grad school is simply extended brainwashing.

    Have read your book Depletion and Abundance and need to re-read it more carefully. In the main I’m pretty much in tune with you, though I will disagree occasionally. Have posted an occasional rare comment. As one commenter above said, the I-Net really sucks up the time if one is not careful.

  74. #74 CW
    July 27, 2010

    We’re apartment dwellers in SW Ontario so, sadly, it’s just a balcony garden for us (with grow lights for overwintering the perennial herbs.) We’ve got an organic CSA share though and (with a little help from Independence Days) a burgeoning local pantry.

    With an addition to the family due in a few months we are making a concious effort to set the right example from day one. You, through books, blog and lifestyle, go a long way to helping us define that example.

  75. #75 Sarah Worrel
    July 27, 2010

    I usually lurk, and have commented perhaps a handful of times.

    I live in suburbia, and am trying to adapt my household to a lower-energy lifestyle. We’re not doing anything amazingly special, but baby steps add up and there are ideas for the future when we’re not so strapped for cash.

    I’ve requested Independence Days from the library, and hopefully that will provide new ideas that I can begin implementing soon.

    You’ve given me the itch to start growing my own food. I will get my hands in the dirt!

    Thank you for sharing your life with us, and continuing the work of helping us all find solutions.

  76. #76 jill
    July 27, 2010

    You’re very persuasive! :)
    Longtime reader, gardening as much as I can here in the desert, it’s downtime right now but I’m plotting what will go in the fall garden. Longterm, I hope to get a small bit of land somewhere cold (not here), build a snug cobhouse, grow more things and be as self sufficient as I can be. I’ve been using and studying herbs for many years, I’m especially excited about adaptogens I can grow like Tulsi (saved lots of seeds too!) I feel that the art of keeping oneself healthy is of vital importance presently and the future.

    What I especially love about your blog is that there’s never any hysteria around the issues you present, therefore little of the hopelessness and desperation that can go along with it.

    Thank you for all the great information!

  77. #77 owlfan
    July 27, 2010

    I’ve been reading you for about 2 years maybe (although I went back and read all the old posts over time as well). I read avidly, comment infrequently. I really enjoyed meeting you when you came to a conference in Macon, GA last fall. As well as meeting a fellow reader.

    I live in the suburbs of Atlanta with my DH and 2 sons, pre-teen and teen. We have a garden (a block away in my mom’s back yard – due to lack of sun in our yard) that we are slowly expanding. It’s about 15×15 now, about a third bigger this year than last. I consider chickens, but I doubt my HOA would approve (though no one says anything about the laundry strewn around my back deck (only place with any sun in my yard)). I’ve seen a few more people with clothes lines in the neighborhood recently despite a HOA ban. We may yet try chickens – who knows.

    I remember a piece you wrote several years ago as to where you saw things in 5 or 10 years. I would love to see another similar piece of how you envision life in 5 and 10 years from now.

  78. #78 Sue
    July 27, 2010

    Hi, I’ve commented once before on your old blog. I met you in Maine a couple of years ago and bought your book “A Nation of Farmers”. I loved the book, started reading your blog, and haven’t stopped. Yours is the first blog I read every day (at work, I’m a receptionist so have time), and I take a lot away from it, both practical and philosophical.

    I live on a 50×100 lot and have 8 apple trees (6 in a nursery which will have to be moved), a peach tree, two asian pears, and various blueberry bushes and raspberries. I also have a fig tree in a pot which is getting it’s first fruit this year! Have two apricot trees in pots I planted from local seed. I grow a lot of my own food including potatoes and sweet potatoes. I catch rain water for my garden, hang out my clothes, and am trying to use less energy in the house. I’m intrigued by the idea of living witout a refrigerator or converting a freezer.

    Keep up the good work!

  79. #79 Claire
    July 27, 2010

    I comment pretty often because I only read a handful of blogs and because I mostly enjoy the conversation on yours. I’m a 53 year old married, no kids suburbanite, former chemist. The DH is a former electrician/mechanic/meter reader. We live near St. Louis, MO, a few miles from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. I found you through a review of D&A in Permaculture Activist; at that time I never read blogs. We live simply for multiple reasons, have since the mid 90s, find ourselves both wanting to and having to reduce consumption even further, took one of your courses last year to help with that. I hang out here for the why-to and how-to both, and to share what little we’ve learned along the way when it seems appropriate.

  80. #80 Casey
    July 27, 2010

    Hi Sharon, I’ve commented a few times, but I’m a lurker and borderline sharon zealot. My poor husband knows exactly who you are…”sharon said…” is a common phrase in our house. So, been reading your blog for a couple, maybe three years now, and have all your books and bought copies for others. I made a lot of life changes after finding you, and dmitry. You spoke to what my gut was saying and I felt confirmed. You complete me. ; ) seriously though, y’know how you look around and think “I can’t be the only one” Then I found you. I love that you are smart and sassy and curse as much as I do. I read you religiously EVERYDAY! Ok, so what have I done with all the info you’ve given me. Well, my husband, son and I moved out of the phoenix desert and said so long to the house with the big carbon footprint and matching mortgage payment. I looked around and knew that was not where I wanted to be when TSHTF. I’m a floridian, and had been pining for home, so home is where we are now. I couldnt be happier. We are both lucky enough to have kept our phoenix jobs and telecommute from home. We downsized our house to just about 1000 sq ft on 1/2 acre near a nice river and harbor. I still havent worked out the long term ramifications of climate change on my choice of location–rising seas and increased storms, and now have to factor in the oil spill and all the horrors associated. I’m also a zealot over microorganisms. Recently gave a presentation for the sustainability group at the very large insurance company I work for..via conference call. I don’t buy commercial cleaners or any fertilizers or pesticides. I drive about 25 miles a week, to daycare and back, and have a prius to do it in. I started buying local beef and pork–raised 10 miles down the road. I go to the farmers market every saturday for local produce. Garden season starts late next month. I’ve been preparing my soil and my potager is approx 35x 55, so I should be knee deep in produce by november. We have a flock of chickens that are almost two years old. I’ve passed out enough eggs to the neighbors that I’m having chicken converts. one neighbor is now up to five birds and a lady who fought me over my birds is now considering getting some of her own. AMAZING! Since the gulf oil spill and my feeling of responsibility for the death and destruction (I could post long about this) I have embraced the riot for austerity. I had been procrastinating, but one picture of an oiled pelican with outstretched arms in silent scream was all I needed. We are already doing very well. I think we are approximately 60%-our biggest issue being food which is a result of a time deficiency. With a pretty stressful and demanding job, and a 3 year old, I rely on restaurants too often. At least I’m supporting local businesses, but I need to get a handle on this. Its a problem. I grew up in s. fl w/o A/C and know I can do it again. have been planting trees and bamboo for passive cooling and plan to leave the a/c off next summer. of course, my husband is being dragged along. Going to get the house insulated and install nice bahama shutters to keep the house cool during the hot afternoons.
    But, The biggest thing I’m doing, which is the scariest really, is that I’ve been bringing up peak oil, population density, climate change, self sufficiency–you name it, in conversation with my coworkers. They think I’m a loon, but they hear me, and it will slowly sink in. Management had us all watch a DVD a couple weeks ago that was essentially about population..no discussion followed which was disappointing, but I think it was an eye opener for alot of people. Management perspective, I think, related to boomers retiring, but they had some very startling stats in this video about population growth, energy use, and such, so I have hope it will help people segue into new areas of understanding. We’ll see. Keep up the good work. Don’t fret over the science blog thing…I’ll follow you wherever you go and continue to tell people about you. Take care.

  81. #81 Don
    July 27, 2010

    Sharon:
    I comment occasionally. I try to read your blog every day, if I can. I live in Columbus, Ohio, in an area that is best described as suburban sprawl, even though we’re inside the city limits. We have enough of a plot to put in a large garden. I started last year and have added to it this year. Next year, I’m going to take your advice and plant some root vegetables (probably potatoes). I also hope to grow some wine grapes and indulge my interest in wine making again. (Before we moved to Columbus twelve years ago, we lived in Bowling Green, a small college town in northwest Ohio. I had a nice garden there with a small vineyard.)

    I’m not sure how I found your blog–it might have been through the Energy Bulletin site. I have copies of A Nation of Farmers and Depletion and Abundance. I’ve read the former and have the latter on my reading list.

    ‘m an English composition and technical writing instructor at two local community colleges. My wife is library supervisor for the Ohio Historical Society. Our biggest problem with trying to be sustainable here is auto dependence. Although we bicycle and I ride the bus downtown, it’s really hard to do anything around here without using a car.

    Cheers,
    Don

  82. #82 dveej
    July 27, 2010

    I’m “dveej,” a SoCal baby-boomer.
    Astyk isn’t your typical doomer:
    Crusading and daring,
    Yet menshlich and caring,
    And blessed with a great sense of hoomer.

  83. #83 NM
    July 27, 2010

    I’m a newspaper reporter in western Oregon; husband and I are looking for land to buy, so we can start a small farm. I’m trying to figure out how to operate non-mechanically, no-till, permaculture, but have more questions than answers…it appears to be something people have a lot of experience with on the single family garden level, less on the farm scale.
    Meanwhile, we live in a suburb; have planted a couple of apple trees, a quince, sweet cherry, pie cherry, grapes (seeded, I’m sorry to say; what were we thinking?!), three garden beds, rhubarb, raspberries, and a whole lot of heirloom and modern English roses, most of which are languishing in the shade of the giant maple that shades our house from the afternoon sun. Subscribe to an organic nearly-year-round CSA that provides too much food. I do a fair amount of canning, drying and freezing in my spare time. We have two dogs and two cats, most of them rescues in one form or another; one goal is to start making my own pet food one of these days. At the moment, the main project is getting the house ready to sell; it needs quite a bit of work.

  84. #84 Kevin Wilson
    July 27, 2010

    I’ve commented a few times, have been reading for… a year or a bit more. Have converted my partner to “Sharon” too although he doesn’t read the blog, just the books. I live in a small Canadian West Coast town, ferry and air access only so we are kind of self-contained, though definitely not self sufficient – ferry-dependent is more like it.

    Our family grows a veg and fruit and herb garden (getting bigger every year as we tear up more grass), and we don’t buy industrial meat any more – which means we’re about 80% vegetarian with occasional local meat. Our front yard is largely in potatoes, sunflowers and amaranth this year which gets quite a bit of interested looking from people walking up and down. A lot more gardens have appeared on our street (and around town generally) this year, though only one is directly under my active help – that belongs to the biker guy who moved in next door and has not only started a garden but got himself 6 illegal chickens!

    We are currently putting a new metal roof on the house and have rain barrels ready to be hooked up once that’s done. A woodstove is on the list for this summer too, since we are currently all-electric. We just built a rudimentary solar food dryer from cardboard and plastic – and ran a workshop helping others to build 9 more, which you can see pics of on our Transition group’s site, linked from my name. It works well for herbs and thin stuff like zucchini chips, but takes a long time for thick juicy stuff like cherries. A better dryer is in our future. We canned a lot of food last year, have eaten most of it, and will do more this year. Expansion of our food storage amount and organisation is also a current project. We take the car off the road for the summer, but unfortunately biking to and from work is not practical for my partner in the winter and the buses don’t run late enough for his shifts. Maybe soon: our town mayor is gung-ho for better public transportation. I work from home so have a real short commute – about 10 feet :)

    I’m involved with our Farmers Institute (I market gardened on a small scale for a few years and have kept up my involvement), chair the Seedy Saturday organising committee each year (which has lead to being accosted on the bus for gardening advice, LOL), and founded our Transition Town initiative last year. As a logging and papermill town, Transition is an interesting sell, but we also have a strong arts and alternative component to the community who have shown a lot of interest. We’re still working on connecting with more traditional folks though.

    Right now I am mulling how to get a car share going in our small neighbourhood – came across an older lady who lives across the street and is very interested, so I’m thinking about who else might be, and how we might work it.

    Sometimes we get scared that all we’re doing is not enough, can never be enough: but mostly we just keep doing as much as we can do, and talking to others to get them moving, and enjoying the journey. I like to stop and watch the bugs in a square foot of grass occasionally. There’s an amazing number and variety of them.

  85. #85 David Syzdek
    July 27, 2010

    I really enjoy reading your blog. You are an excellent writer. I serve on a sustainability committee at work and I work in endangered species protection in the desert southwest. Keep up the good writing!

  86. #86 Clelie
    July 27, 2010

    Hi Sharon,

    Reading everyone else’s comments is fun! Neat to hear what people are up to.

    I’m a Mom with a desk job that keeps bees in the city and teaches other how. I get around on my bike. I participate in a network of collective houses- the houses share food and resources within the house and are also now starting to create stronger links between the houses and sharing knowledge and resources there. I’m working with a group of friends to organise a compassionate communication camping retreat focused on community and parenting. I’m super excited that many people in my direct everyday community are going to be able to attend. I’ve been studying NVC for a couple years and I am excited to have it finally go live with the people I see everyday. ;)

    I really enjoy your blog(s) and your books- though sometimes I feel like I’m behind and why haven’t I put food aside in storage yet? Guess I’ve been too busy building community and working with the bees.

  87. #87 Rob
    July 27, 2010

    Hi Sharon,
    I’ve been following your writing for two years now, found your writings through The Oil Drum and loved your comments there. Have two of your books. Live in Denver currently, but slowly building up 40 acres of Colorado high prairie land into something we can migrate to in a few years and run a small family farm (was out there this weekend building a root cellar). your writings are an inspiration. Please keep up the great work.

  88. #88 KiwiRach
    July 27, 2010

    I’m a frugal kiwi gal living in the UK with three homeschooling boys, an ethicist husband, half an allotment and a bicycle I can take all three children on. I’ve been reading your blog(s) for about a year now and enjoy them because as my husband says they pander to all my prejudices.

  89. #89 Christina
    July 27, 2010

    I’m not a very good commenter, but I love reading your blog! Your posts are always fascinating, inspirational, and give me a little kick in the butt to try to live better with less, even though my tiny basement apartment isn’t exactly homesteading material. I’m very glad you’re sticking it out on ScienceBlogs for now through the big kerfuffle, you’ve been one of my favorites since I got here.

  90. #90 jlpicard2
    July 27, 2010

    Haven’t posted this year yet (posted 2007 through 2009). I have purchased all of your books, but haven’t read them all yet. I probably haven’t missed too much after reading the blogs faithfully for so many years.

    Prep for the future (according to this blog and The Automatic Earth) is slower now than in the past, but that is more indicative of what has already been done. Progress is slow and steady. Learn some more, try something new, plant another bush or tree that produces something edible, etc. I live in Ohio.

  91. #91 Psunflwr
    July 27, 2010

    I’m a long time reader. I came to you because Kunstler came to speak at the Prairie Festival at the Land Institute in Salina KS and that took me to The Oil Drum and you and Automatic Earth and the Peak Oil Shrink and Dmitry Orlov, etc.

    I’ve been moving towards this life style all my life. I’m old enough (55) that I was privileged to learn how to can, bake, sew, knit and crochet from my mother and my aunts and garden from my father and grandfather. My mother doesn’t understand why I still do it and says “I was born in the wrong century!”

    I’m also a lawyer. Thirteen years ago I moved back to Kansas and set up shop as a solo practitioner in estate planning and probate. In spite of what some peak oilers snidely say about lawyers, I’m pretty confident that if we have slow collapse ala Greer I’ll still be needed.

    My home is two miles from my office and I’m easy walking distance from church, the coffee shop, grocery store and other shopping.

    I have a garden which is sadly too shady and also neglected since I hate really hot weather and mosquito bites aggravate my rheumatoid disease. But I love the farmer’s market and keep my winter larder well supplied that way.

  92. #92 Alice Y.
    July 27, 2010

    Hello. I’ve done a couple of your courses. It’s good to have your company on this road of making big changes.
    I’m a scientist, a Quaker, just about start on the big adventure of a new urban community farm in my neighbourhood in the West Midlands of the UK. Wish us luck!

  93. #93 Lindsay
    July 27, 2010

    I’ve just been reading for a couple months and have never commented. I try to avoid wasting a lot of time on the computer so you are the only sustainability blog I read and I consider it time well spent. I live with my husband on the campus of the small college where I work in rural southern Manitoba. This year we dug up a corner of a lawn on campus to start a small community garden for students and staff. Having our first baby this winter and trying to feed it well right from the start!

  94. #94 Margaret
    July 27, 2010

    I’m 58, married and live 75 miles northwest of Chicago (on the train line which is a real plus). I have gardened for a long time but always have alot more to learn. We also raise meat chickens, egg layers, a few pigs and turkeys. Two pet goats also reside here. I love goats and we used to have quite a few more when our daughter raised them for 4H. Our house is way too big due to the fact we added on considerably when my three disabled brothers moved in with us. The now live in group homes not too far from us but we can’t sell this big place now so struggle to keep up with both the house, animals, garden, my brothers and our jobs.

  95. #95 ChristineH
    July 27, 2010

    I don’t know when I started reading your blogs but it’s been a while now. Long enough for hubby to know who I’m talking about when I say “Sharon”. (He also knows who “Carla” is too, btw. ;)) Squealed with delight the first time you referred to the zombie apocalypse simply because I knew then that there was at least one other person out there who would get my jokes. Have only commented a few times.

    Spend my days in a toxicology lab, hubby does geotechnical engineering type stuff. We live with my father (or does he live with us? I can’t tell the difference) on my family’s original homestead in Ontario. Seven generations of my family born, raised and farmed here, although we got out of the farming business while I was still young. Sometimes I look at our empty barns and feel sad. Working on getting those barns full again and a possible eighth generation as well. Most of our neighbors have been here for generations too, and everyone watches out for each other and helps when they can. It’s a great place to live.

    We try hard to be as self sufficient as possible. Big gardens in a joint effort with my brother and his family (they live across the road) with a portion going to the food bank. We don’t raise our own meat (hard to do when you’re away 11 hours a day), so we get it from friends who do. Most of them are throwbacks as well and we get things like grass fed beef for a fraction of the grocery store prices. We barter when we can and promote community ties. I nag people relentlessly about growing their own vegetables and have managed to convince a few. This year I am keeping track of what comes out of our gardens and translating it into grocery store prices in hopes of convincing a few more.

    I admire women in science, women who farm and anyone who thinks for themselves. I dislike stereotypes, hate pina coladas and am generally indifferent about being caught in the rain.

  96. #96 Kerri in AK
    July 28, 2010

    I don’t know how I found Casaubon’s Book but I do remember it was early in 2007 right after I returned to Alaska from five years in Wisconsin. You voiced all what was building up inside me and it was a relief to finally know why I was so discomfited with Life As Usual.

    I’ve commented a few times over the years and took the first Food Storage class and the Design course you taught with Aaron. I’ve been so impressed with your work that I practically made my sister take your last Food storage class.

    While I call Anchorage Alaska home (despite being born and spending 22 years in Florida) and have spent a great deal of energy and money adapting to that place, I made a recent and major career shift and now find myself at the Pilsdon-at-Malling community in southeast England as a volunteer. We grow a lot of vegetables – which about half the people won’t eat and our gardening practice is monocropping whole rows of the same thing, rip up everything at the end of the year and then rototill in the spring. “Excess” produce we sell on at our stand by the street (because no one cares about food preservation and storage). We have a large greenhouse that needs some new panes and has several grape vines (the grapes we eat and sell to the larger community) and we start our bedding plants and a lot of the vegies in there during the late winter. We have somewhere around 40 chickens and barely seem to use all that many eggs but we do sell several dozen a week to the abbey next door and to the larger community. There are a few rain barrels – but I’m the only one using them. Everyone else drags miles of hose to water things. However, we’re looking at some water restrictions and discussions have started up on getting more barrels. We buy nearly all our food at a giant supermarket and it’s all about how cheap can we buy it. I’ve come close to having sharp words over some of this. We recycle – sort of. Way too much of leftover food and recyclables end up in the trash. I could whinge on and on.

    It’s been eye-opening experience living in community. There aren’t enough willing hands to do all the day-to-day stuff so time to put food by, try new gardening techniques, work out water storage plans and that sort of thing end up going to the bottom of the priority list. It’s easy to think that I could fill the void but I can’t. Maybe in bits and snatches but not like I want to. Cooking a meal for up to 17 people takes two to three hours particularly when using fresh foods (meal preparers almost always cook solo) so when I sign up for three or four meals a week, there goes up to twelve hours of awake time. This is not a well oiled machine!

    Done with the moan and a whinge. I do love this place regardless of how much it is SO not how I’d like things to be done. I’m hoping that my experiences here will help with any future intential community building. Also, there is a grassroots movement in England of people who want to live sustainably and that’s heartening.

    Could never have done this without poring over all your blog posts, taking your classes and reading your books. Thank you!

    Kerri in AK (but in Kent, UK currently)
    PS I’m one of the librarians!

  97. #97 Andy Brown
    July 28, 2010

    I went away for a week to Pennsylvania, camping in the woods and decamping on relatives, and return to find that you’ve been prolific as usual and it will take me a few days to catch up with yours and other’s blogging. I’m a cultural anthropologist who works at communications consulting for non-profits and advocacy groups. We research into the cultural and cognitive models that people use to think (or not think) about public policy issues. It’s sobering to really look at how ill-prepared Americans are to understand, much less solve the problems that are coming (have come) down the pipeline. Though I work in the US mostly, my fieldwork as an anthropologist was in Kazakhstan in the mid-nineties. I studied how people (who had expected much better for their futures) managed to get by in tough, confusing times. Really watching how people mustered their resources (material, cultural, political, social) colors how I think about the adaptations we will all be making. One of the things that kept me reading your blog (and I’m a newcomer) is how clearly you lay out the essential problems (and opportunities) of muddling through. As well as the fact that you are already muddling through and this seems grounding and humbling. I’m trying to time my own jump from off the juggernaut of destruction and your thoughts are a huge help. How you manage to write so much is a complete mystery to me, and I can only conclude you have elves to help you out. (Locally, cobblers elves haven’t had much to do lately, so I guess it’s Bloggers elves now.)

  98. #98 Rue
    July 28, 2010

    Just starting to read,
    But I can feel my mind tingle –
    Sorry, that sounds gross.

  99. #99 Valerie
    July 28, 2010

    I have been reading for three years (or possibly more?) and have never commented, so your call to “de-lurk” seemed particularly appropriate for me. I always had an interest in improving my skills and knowledge in the kitchen and the garden, but only connected this with environmental and peak oil concerns in 2007.

    I used to live three blocks from where I worked and used my bike or my feet to get most places, and got most of my food from local sources. This past year I moved and took a higher-paying job with a longer commute in order to allow a significant other to attend graduate school to be an elementary school teacher (and to support him financially). I justified it myself with the thought “ah, the things we do for love . . . “, which I suppose is a good excuse for a lot of things. We will be moving (next week) to the small city in Indiana where my job is, and I will again be walking or biking. This new community has a number of people interested in low-impact living, so I hope for new opportunities here.

    What I am doing to prepare for the future sometimes seems minimal, but I believe that the key is being aware and having the ability to disengage from many of the conveniences of modern life. I’ll stick to my gardening, bread-making, and composting for now.

    I appreciate Sharon’s continued voice of reason (and sense of humor)!

  100. #100 Tom
    July 28, 2010

    You asked so I have commented.

    I make the world decent by protecting your (and other’s) identity online (yay security).

    Something interesting in my haiku:

    Everyone loves to
    talk about themselves but now
    its time to play games

  101. #101 Katharine
    July 28, 2010

    I’ve actually commented a few times. I have no idea how I found your blog – I think I must have found a link to a specific post, and I no longer remember which one, but I do remember I read it three times in a row because it was so good.

    I’m a conservative – I proudly call myself a crunchy con, but I refuse to call myself Republican. I’m more Libertarian, anyway. So you know you have at least one crazy conservative reading you. I enjoy it even when I disagree with you, because I don’t often hear the perspective you present – and at least half the time I wholeheartedly agree with you!

    I live with my husband and two dogs in a teeny little house in a small town, with nearly a quarter of an acre yard, where we have a jungly garden in the back. We can walk and bike to the library, the bank, our church, and the post office. If we get some baskets for our bikes we could go to the grocery store under our own power too. I’m learning to make our own bread and I like to find recipes for homemade soaps and cleaning solutions and things. I don’t like politics so I prefer individual change, and being libertarian-ish I am more comfortable with ground-up saving the world anyway.

  102. #102 k8
    July 28, 2010

    I’m an infrequent commenter. I started reading Science Blogs because I like science. And I stayed because I like the discussion. I have a small garden (it’s just me) because I believe in being more self sufficient and eating locally, which I mostly do because we have a vibrant farmer’s market here in South Dakota. I like dreaming about having my own farm, though.

  103. #103 karin
    July 28, 2010

    My name is Karin. I homestead in Maine. I leave my IDC updates on ye olde blogge. I writ poetry and wax about country living at my little blog.

    One of the most important tips I have learned from you olde blogge is to label my food storage. Hasn’t failed me yet;)

    Thanks for being the human you are and keep on knitting!

  104. #104 Tru
    July 29, 2010

    Still roofing my house in aluminum standing seam, the old fashioned way with an anvil and hammer.

    -Tru.

  105. #105 Briel
    July 29, 2010

    Recent (fine, Dec. 09) foofy liberal arts graduate, completely unemployable and living off unemployment with my mother and her social security check. Deliriously happy. I’ve been reading since mid-Sophomore year and you basically gave me a way to feel that my desire to live in poverty as a subsistence farmer made sense. I’m not a doomer, I’m a farmer that uses to doom to explain my life choice to others. :)

    Farming, canning, living in a community where my great-grandfather is still discussed. Living where everyone understands the apocalypse, even if they prefer to discuss it in terms of Revelations instead of CNN.

    I might wish I were a bit further into the mountains, but here is fine for now.

    Dumped the out of town banker and am now dating a barely literate red-neck. He may not have money, and we don’t discuss Kant, but he loves the turtles too.

  106. #106 Diane
    July 29, 2010

    Hi, Sharon,

    I’m a latecomer to this “Delurking” conversation. I hope you are still checking in on the comments. I barely have time to keep up with reading your blog, let alone writing comments; I have to conclude that you must write as fast as I read! I have taken your classes and had some delightful phone conversations with you as a result. I have never commented on your blog.

    I’m a single, 63-year-old woman in Oklahoma. I’m very fortunate to have a job as a computer programmer and to be able to work from home since February. I’m also fortunate to live on 5 acres which I am working to turn into a farmette rather than an open field. I have a passel of chickens and I have goats. A year ago I had 6 goats and now I have 45! I bought out a herd of goats, goats had 24 babies, and here we are. I have a handyman working for me a couple of days a week who is building fences and shelters for the goats, a slow process, as you know.

    I planted a couple dozen fruit trees this year, and some blackberry and raspberry bushes. My vegetable gardening is minimal. I did establish 6 square foot garden beds this year, but most of my energy goes toward the goats rather than the garden.

    So there, now I’ve commented!

    Diane

  107. #107 Calum McFarlane
    July 30, 2010

    I found your writings via the RoE2 list. Through your blog, I stumbled on Messrs Orlov and Greer, and thereby onto many other authors. So you led me into the more human side of looking at our current collective slow-motion catastrophe.

    I live in semi-urban south Manchester, in the North West UK. I’m trying to learn to garden with no garden, and capitalise on having a fiancee who wants to get chickens. I’m trying to strike the balance between believing that what I do might make a difference, and not feel terrified that it’s all entirely pointless. Most of all, as an atheist / humanist, I’m trying to live a ‘good’ life now – because I’m not expecting another chance. I think you can take credit for changing my definition of what constitutes a ‘good’ life for the better.

  108. #108 christina
    July 30, 2010

    i’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and really enjoy it. this is my first comment.

    i live in metro-atlanta with my husband and two children who were formerly cloth-diapered and are now homeschooled.

    i’m trying to figure out how to garden on a .67ac, deeply-shaded lot. i’m also trying to figure out how to get around my county’s ordinances which allow rabbits, but not chickens. in preparation, though, our next big home-improvement project will be replacing our decrepit asphalt-shingle roof with a new metal one, and installing rain barrels.

    keep on writing! you’re a voice of reason and inspiration!

  109. #109 Eric
    July 31, 2010

    I don’t know how I found you – other than it was during my lunchtime blog meanderings; possibly you made a comment on Greenpa’s blog and I followed you here…. Anyways, I’ve been reading your exploits for the last few months and I love your perspective and the way you present yourself! I comment occasionally. I want to homestead in a few years and, right now, I am collecting information about what I want to do.

    Eric

  110. #110 Perry
    July 31, 2010

    This is my first post to any blog, ever! I just started reading your blog a few days ago. I am a born-again homesteader. My first attempt ended 25 years ago. A divorce and unwieldy commute were the main culprits. I had a quarter acre garden, milk goats, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, and cows. I did pretty well considering the amount of time I had to spend in the big city. Fast forward 25 years. Now I am retired and a vegetarian. I have 2.5 acres in the upper foothills of Northern California. I had to do a little clearing to make way for a half acre garden/orchard. Several months ago I came across Independence Days. What a great book! I can’t thank you enough. I am a avid believer in the Theory of Anyway. It reaffirmed my desire to grow as much of my own food as possible and reminded me about how little I know. I have been doing as much reading as possible. It’s like drinking from a fire hose. I have a small flock of chickens and a couple of ducks. The chickens just started laying. In the meantime, they have been making some fine organic fertilizer. What I really need are some bees! I wasn’t planning to raise bees, but it is going to be pretty hard to garden without these great little pollinators. Stocking the pantry is progressing. A very late frost wiped out my apple and pear crop (the former owners were nice enough to plant a couple of apple trees and a pear tree). I just finished eating the applesauce I put up from last year’s crop. It was my daily treat for almost 6 months.

  111. #111 Laura
    July 31, 2010

    Hi Sharon, I think I found you through Jim Kunstler’s site, and I like your gentler tone.
    I coordinate a new Farm to School program (as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer) in northwestern Montana, working on getting more local food into the schools and educating all ages about sustainable agriculture. I’m also organizing a local Global Work Party on Oct. 10, inspired by Bill McKibben and 350.org. I’m thankful to be able to work at home.
    I’m a 54 y.o. retired journalist, living on a modest income from free-lancing and renting out my 3 spare bedrooms to other AmeriCorps workers. I’ve turned my front, side and back yards into food gardens, coaxing a surprising decent harvest out of 1/10th of an in-town acre that’s mostly in partial shade. Right now I’m learning to can, dehydrate, and winter-harvest from cold frames. Plans are to adopt a few chickens next spring.
    Our valley has a few folks who recognize we’re living in The Long Emergency, but my family and friends don’t want to think about it, let alone discuss it. I figure the best I can do is learn all the practical skills I can, and be there to help others descend to a simpler life as inevitable events progress. Sharon, you’re a huge help with these extremely challenging tasks, plus you always give me plenty to think about. Wish I could be as smart as you!

  112. #112 Daniel
    August 2, 2010

    Hello.

    I’m a Swede and read (most) of what you write with great joy. I especially like your more “theoretical” texts about PO and its consequences.

    I have a Swedish-language PO blog as of two years and gain a new subscriber to my RSS flow ever week. I have even set up an English-language version copy of the blog (http://life-after-oil.blogspot.com/), but have not written anything there since before the summer (busy spring).

    I’m also a member of a ecovillage-in-the-making – we bought land/a farm one year ago. There are some similarities between what we want to accomplish there and the life you currently live. When/if I move there with my family (not so easy family- and work-wise with only-sort-of-PO-aware wife, two small kids and both of our employments in academia), I will definetly get Nigerian dwarf goats! If they can handle upstate NY, they can handle Sweden.

    Me and my family struggle between the admittedly comfortable life we live in central Stockholm and the skill set and attitude that will be needed in the future. I am personally more of a thinker/writer than a doer and try to do my best to educate and convince people about PO and what needs to be done. Perhaps Sweden is a good place to be WTSHTF. There are some things I think are an advantage to us (small, relatively sparesly populated country, 50% of electricity generated by water (the rest is nuclear), well-educated reasonable cooperation-oriented people for the most part (but living in denial like everybody else), but also other factors that are not so good (many are overly confident/dependent on the state and have high expectations of politicians/the political process – few *do* things on a personal/community level).

    I have “Depletion and abundance” in my booshelf but unread for now together with 30 other PO-related must-read books. I will get around to it and will also write a long, fat juicy blog post about eventually (I go for weekly 10 000+ character posts/mini-essays). If I like it, I will buy more of your books.

    Best to you and your family! Do get in touch if you ever happen to pass Europe/Sweden by – although I don’t think the chance is that great.

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  114. #114 Jerah
    August 2, 2010

    I’ve introduced myself before, and commented occasionally, but what the heck…

    My husband, son and I live in Brooklyn, NY. Since I started reading your blog a few years ago, we’ve become CSA members, gardeners, worm composters, canners, home brewers, home vintners, sauerkraut-makers, picklers, and bike riders.

    I lead food preservation workshops at my community garden and for our CSA, and I’m also the garden coordinator this year! And I just started gardening 3 years ago, after a lifetime of living in megacities… Anything is possible, folks. :)

    Inspirational read of the month: Farm City, by Novella Carpenter. Wonderful, hilarious writing that’s honest about dealing with urban poverty, and really inspiring for us city-dwellers.

  115. #115 beehive composter
    September 24, 2010

    Hi Sharon, I’m Ramil and I just like to share my thoughts on Beehive composter which is one of the most essential beehive materials that should be taken into consideration. Bee droppings can also be useful as natural fertilizer for our garden soil. So it is advisable to purchase our composter that is beneficial and practical to use.