Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Happy Urban Farm

I am getting ready to graduate with my masters in environmental studies and as my classes and projects get more intense so do my desires to live sustainably. Like I have said before I grew up on a mini farm that practiced sustainable living but my poor husband did not. He grew up in the city; his closest interaction with farming was mowing the 5x10 foot lawn in front of his mom’s house.
When I decided to go back to school he was very supportive, I had originally studied government and had talked a lot about law school so he was all smiles at the thought of us boosting our family income. But then I broke the news that I was going to pursue environmentalism. He smiled and said, “Whatever makes you happy, I support you,” but he was thinking, “I have married a hippie lunatic!” He thought this again when I informed him that we were going to tear out his precious back yard lawn and start an urban farm!
So this is our new project, we are going to start urban farming. Our current garden measures 3 x 10 ft. (it runs along the side of our house), but our new one will be 10 x 30. We are starting off with 20 vegetables beds and then a 10 x 10 patch of wheat. We currently have four fruit trees along the back perimeter of our yard, by next summer we plan to have added 10 more. We also plan to add chickens in the spring for eggs and meat. We want to grow enough food to feed the entire Happy Green Life Crew and our extended families, and maybe someday have enough to sell at the farmers market.
What is exciting, besides the prospect of never having to go grocery shopping again, is that all of our family and friends want to be a part of it. All of our friends and family have offered to come and help us. Even friends of friends have gotten excited by the idea of us doing this and have offered to help; we even had offers of land if we find that our dinky back yard is holding us back!
We are so excited, and a little scared, after all this is crazy! Remember my husband is a city boy and while I may have grown up on a farm I spent the majority of the time watching 90210 in my bedroom-far far away from any farm like activity.  Luckily we have friends with knowledge! My husband is in the military and one of his fellow soldiers is a member of the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. This group offers training and grants to veterans who want to become farmers. Our friend Eric has been working for the last two months with us getting all of our preparations for our urban farm. He has taught us everything from soil testing and PH levels, to layouts and crop rotations. This weekend along with the whole Happy Green Life crew we will be putting in our first winter crop! We are all very excited! This is going to be quite an adventure for all of us. After our first crop is in we will be learning how to harvest and then rotate, and then as the spring gets near we will be looking into what to plant as the season changes. We will be looking into chickens and how to build a coop and our resident chef Michael will be teaching us green ways to cook with our garden!
I am so excited to share this crazy adventure with you guys. I am sure it is going to be full of ups and downs but I think it will be fun.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

diapeze GIVEAWAY

Pumpkin Bum diapeze Giveaway!!

Enter for your chance to win a one of a kind pumpkin bum diapeze.

One lucky winner will be selected on Sunday 10/16/11 at 12am est.

The winner will be notified via email and posted on the facebook page.

Prize value $27.00

Will ship complimentary within US and Canada

Facebook is not affiliated with this giveaway in any way.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Happy Green Diaper

So you are thinking about cloth diapers. Hooray! That means you are one step closer to saving money and the environment!

If you are thinking about cloth diapers than one thing is probably at the forefront of your mind – POOP. I remember being so worried about this part of cloth diapers. What do you do with the poop? Do I have to touch it? How messy is this going to be? Well, it really is not as bad as you are thinking. If this is one of your hang ups, here is something to try. The next time your little one has a poopy diaper, after you are done with the diaper change, take the poopy diaper into the bathroom and shake the poop into the toilet (make sure that you are close to the water when you try this you don’t want any splashing!). As you will see, most of it comes off really easy and then you can simply flush it away; and that is off of a disposable paper diaper, it is even easier off of cloth! What happens when it is mushy, and sticks to the diaper?? Well then you can just ‘swish’ it in the bowl, or get a diaper sprayer that you can really easily attach to the back of the toilet and spray it off. After a couple of times it is really easy and just like changing a disposable diaper has become second nature, so too will this.
The second thing you must be thinking and worrying about is WASHING! Well, really it is too easy! All you need is a ‘dry pail’, which simply means you don’t soak them in water. A pail liner is nice (something waterproof that will keep your pail from growing an odor) but not essential, you can wash with bleach and spray with Lysol between uses without one! It is best to wash the diapers every 2-3 days, depending on your ‘stash’ size. When it is time to wash, simply take the pail or liner to the washing machine and dump it in. As for the detergent – there are a lot of really great natural brands out there (Crunchy Clean, Clean B, Ruby Moon and many others), or you can use an unscented gentle detergent like All free and clear. The rest is just like a normal wash and dry! Make sure to read the specific instructions for the brand that of diapers that you are trying to avoid any shrinking or damaging of them. Sometimes the diapers need to be stripped (if they have built up detergent residues and seem less absorbent than usual), and that is really easy too. If this is the case – you can just wash the clean diapers with NO detergent 2-3 times on HOT. If you do not have a HE washer, you can add a squirt of Dawn to one load which will help strip them – do not try this in an HE washer it is not low sudsing!
Now you will need to decide how you are going to store the wet diapers between washes. There are a couple of different options: dry pail, wet pail or wet bag. A dry pail is the easiest way to store them and is what I use. All you need is a pail (a trash can will work) and a pail liner. You simply put the wet diapers in the pail and when it is time to wash you can take the liner and dump the whole thing into the washing machine. A wet pail is more messy and does pose a drowning risk to your child (make sure to have a secure lid on the pail if you choose to use this method). To use a wet pail you fill the pail with water and let the diapers soak before washing. Then you dump the water and diapers into the washing machine to wash them. A wet bag is a bag with a waterproof interior that you can store the diapers in. These are perfect for when you are out and about and also a good idea to keep one by the changing table. You can use the wet bag in lieu of a diaper pail if that is more convenient for you. When it is time to wash them you can simply throw the contents of the bag and the bag itself into the wash.

Cloth Diapers vs. Landfill Diapers
First, I want am not AGAINST landfill diapers. I simply prefer to use cloth because it is gentler to my baby, saves money, and well, they are just so darn cute! There are some things to consider about landfill diapers. The whole reason that they work is because of the chemicals it is just that simple! If you don’t like the idea of chemicals being close to your baby’s skin, then cloth diapers are a better solution!

Will I really SAVE MONEY?
When I started looking into cloth diapers it seemed so expensive to get started. It is a larger upfront cost to buy the cloth diapers and you do have to consider washing costs too.
The breakdown:
On average a child is potty trained between 2 and 3 years old – we will use 2 ½ as a framework for determining costs. For my costs I am going to use Huggies Snug and Dry purchased at warehouse stores for the prices.

On average disposable diapers cost over $2200 per child! Cloth diapering is not cheap initially; it seems so expensive because it is an upfront cost. With disposable diapers the cost is spread out over 2 ½ years, so it does not seem like it could add up to that much!! When you are using cloth, it is a larger upfront investment – but then you are done (unless, like me you keep finding cute prints/styles that you have to have!!).
Starting a stash early is the best way to get going with cloth! Register for cloth diapers instead of disposies! People buying you diapers will be paying the same amount to buy you a box of disposies or a couple of cloth diapers!!

How many cloth diapers do I need?
This all depends on you and your baby! How many diapers do you change in a day? I usually recommend taking that number and doubling it and that is the least amount that you should have in your stash. You should also take into account how often you want to wash them. You can become an every night washer, and then you would need fewer. If, like me, you have enough other laundry to wash, you may want to wash them ever 2-3 days and should have enough to accommodate this schedule.
With diapeze the cover can be used for a couple of diaper changes so you will need 10-12 covers to get started. You will need more diapeze inserts, usually about 15-20 depending on the number of diaper changes that you go through. The good thing is that the insert is the same size for all size covers! So once you invest in these, they will last you a really long time! They also become more absorbent with each wash, so they actually wear-in instead of wear-out! The covers do come in sizes, but most you can purchase them as your baby grows, so it is not a huge upfront investment.