septic systems (2)

Handmade/Homemade: The Half Acre Homestead

When I start working on a book, it’s like setting out on an ocean voyage without a map. I get a theme, an idea, some kind of coherence on a subject,* then start.

When I built my first house in Mill Valley in the early ’60s, my friend Bob Whiteley and I laid out the foundation lines in chalk on the ground. “What do we do now, Bob,” I asked.

Bob said “This,” and took pick and shovel and started digging the foundation trench.

It’s been my M.O. all my life. When I don’t know what to do, I start. Things (usually) sort themselves out in the process. (I know, I know, I’ve said all this before…)

This book is about the tools and techniques Lesley and I have evolved in building a home and growing food (and creating a bunch of things) on a small piece of land over a 40+-year period.

I started by writing it in chapters: The House / The Kitchen / Kitchen Tools / The Garden / Garden Tools / Chickens / Food / Foraging/ /Fishing / The Shop / Shop / Shop Tools / Roadkill / Critters…What we’ve learned; what’s worked, what hasn’t…

Then I went through some 50,000 digital pictures and picked out 7-800 photos, printed them out contact sheets (12-up) and started organizing them under the above categories.

Next step: starting to put pages together; I am totally excited. I have (kind of unknowingly) been gathering material for this book for decades.

Now I gotta get out of here. Not only is it a gorgeous fresh spring day, but it’s my time of the year. Tauruses are feelin good…

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Washing Dishes

We wash dishes by hand (in a rectangular Rubbermaid dishpan), rinse and place in this drying rack/storage unit, built maybe 20 years ago by Lew Lewandowski.

When we had goats, I had installed a dishwasher, but found that we practically had to wash the dishes first (so as not to have food particles going into the septic system). Plus it used a lot of water and electricity, so I took it out and we’ve used this system ever since.

Another feature in this kitchen is a 5-gallon electric water heater right under the sink. While I’m not fond of electrically-heated water, this unit is so small, it’s energy-efficient, and we get instant hot water.

We use rubber spatulas to get food off plates, pots, and pans; edible scraps go to chickens, non-edibles (coffee grounds, avocado pits, etc.) go in a stainless step-operated trash can for the compost pile.

After I finish the book on the ’60s, I plan to do one titled The Half-Acre Homestead, all that I’ve learned abut building and raising food over 50 years.

Apropos of nothing here, the Amazon series “Sneaky Pete” is wonderful. Great story, fabulous acting all around.

I’m off for Oregon early tomorrow morning.

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