Friday, August 26, 2011

Guest Post: Nesting Ground

Happy Friday, everyone! East Coast friends, are you batting down the hatches, getting ready for Irene? Having witnessed several hurricanes firsthand, I speak from experience when I say: get stocked up on water (lots of it!), a radio-powered battery, food for all of your pets, canned foods for yourself and fill up the bath tub in order to have water for flushing the toilet. Oh, and don't try to drive through standing water. It never ends well!

I've got a treat for you today. Liesl and Myles of Nesting Ground are guest posting today. I adore their blog, as well as their regular "Small Farm Chronicles" on Mother Earth News. Here Liesl shares their adventures in urban homesteading in southern Alberta, Canada, with some incredible before and after yard photos and a delicious "Back Porch Sun Tea" recipe. Enjoy!

Relish the "Now"
Liesl Petersen

When we decided 7 years ago we wanted to buy a farm and grow our own food, we knew it would be a long journey to this goal-- and today, we're still not there. Land prices around here are out of reach for the average Joe, and our monthly bills aren't getting any smaller. When we were ready to purchase our first home two years ago, we just couldn't get enough money together for a farm. Instead of sprawling land, we moved into a sleepy little town in rural Alberta. But when we moved in, we relished in the fact that it was ours! Sure, our town lot is the size of a postage stamp; 125 by 50 ft to be exact. We immediately started talking about what was possible. We realized the potential in this space while we waited for the big dream.

And that's when we decided to try to do some of the things we would on our farm and do it here. And why not? Why not try while we wait? Many folks from around these parts said we were nuts and it was little more than a garden. The "back-to-the-land movement" is not quite as popular or pursued with such gusto as it is in larger Canadian cities, or in the States. Their scoffing drove us harder to push the limits.

Removing some "pretty" but water guzzling sod and replacing it with vegetables was the first step. Building a tiny greenhouse and cold frame, experimenting with easily fashioned hoop houses, preserving, baking bread and making cheese all came next! Hey, ya don't need land to do all that! We realized we could make do and enjoy what we had. Our pea-size kitchen is jungle-like all winter loaded with seedlings and grow lights--but come summer and fall, we transform it into a cannery!! After only two short years we can fill up our freezer and pantry with wholesome, homegrown food!

Sure there are a few things that aren't quite the same-- for bugs me that my town bylaw won't allow me to keep a couple of chickens for fresh eggs. But animal husbandry manuals (among with cheese making, bee keeping and living-off-the-land books) are right on the bed stand so we see them every morning and read 'em every night. For now we drive a couple of miles to our local Hutterite Colony and purchase eggs there. Finding ways to compensate for what you don't have and enjoying all that you do--that's living the good life. One thing my Mom taught me in life is resiliency and enjoying the now. It's a way to look at a situation and not just make the best of it, but really go all out.

Today I share her simple recipe for Sun Tea. No matter where you live, you can put this pitcher on a balcony, a back porch, front step, deck or even on a sunny windowsill. The heat of the sun slowly brews the tea. It's ridiculously cheap, simply delicious and the perfect refreshment. And besides, things that are slow brewed and slow cooked force you to slow down too and savor the moment.

Back Porch Sun Tea
What you need:
*Cold water
*2 tea bags {black or herbal}
*Pitcher, jug or large mason jar
*Cloth or lid to cover
*A nice sunny day

Fill up your pitcher with fresh cold water and add the tea bags. Cover the pitcher {here I use fabric remnants and an elastic band} as to keep creepy crawlers at bay. Set pitcher out in the sun. Allow to steep for several hours. You will know when it's ready because the water will be a beautiful golden hue. Discard tea bags to your composter. Pour sun-steeped tea over lots of ice and enjoy!
Delicious add in's: Try adding citrus, like lemon or orange slices, to the brew. Fresh herbs and cucumber slices are equally yummy!
To Sweeten Naturally: Skip refined white sugar and opt for a spoonful of honey added to your glass!

Thanks, Liesl. I love your approach to finding the joy in the here and now!

What about you? Got a topic you think would appeal to small measure readers? Shoot me an email at: ashleyadamsenglish(at)gmail(dot)com and let's chat about it!


EcoGrrl said...

really interesting "path" that the deck makes - it's like a river of grass with garden 'houseboats'. love seeing before & after shots!

Elaine said...

Love this post! We too have been working on our quarter acre piece of land that is not quite far enough into the country and not quite all the way in town. Doing with what you have and enjoying the now! Going to go make some sun tea.

Ashley said...

whoa! someone in my locale? it's such a small world!

elisa said...

i love the sunshine tea, very sweet. someone once told me you could power a small house with one boil of an electric kettle - i don't know if that's true, but we relish the cups of tea that come off of our wood stove in the old copper kettle! now if the sun would come out over england…

i am in such agreement about starting where you are. i'm hoping to dive right in, just where we are right now. i hope your farm comes to you soon! x

El Gaucho said...

Great before and after pictures. It's amazing how much you can fix/change/grow/redesign/amend/build in just a couple of years with nothing more than some good ideas and a bit of gusto, well done!! We love our sun tea, and have a large 5-quart glass jar that was scavenged from being recycled and now is our sun tea maker.

Megan said...

What a wonderful post! I dream of a farm, but realistically, I know that I don't have the time or energy for such a thing. But I can make my whole yard a garden, I can have chickens in my suburban neighborhood, and I have been canning like crazy! That I *can* manage.