I've started a twitter account lately, and I find it super addictive. I had a big problem coming up with the name of my twitter handle, though. @ShonaWatt was already taken, and I didn't want to do the old cheesy AOL style ShonaWatt87 or something like that. So I tried to think of what defines me these days, or what I really care about. And I really care about....my homestead.
When you think of a homestead, you probably think of Little House on the Prairie with men in overalls and women churning butter. I'm really into doing and making things (especially food) myself, and in the past year I've made my own cider, wine, jam, pickles, yogurt, salsa, grown my own potatoes, harvested my own honey, and foraged for wild plants. I am a wee bit back to the land. Okay, well think Laura Ingalls with a desk job in the city + a blog + facebook, and that's me.
But like so many of my friends who dream of having farms, there's no way I can afford my little plot of land right now. Nor would I want to completely disconnect from the internet and city life, as I am still relatively young and don't want to be totally isolated in the woods just yet.
So I do what I can - I grow sprouts and very sad looking plants on my apartment windowsill, I buy seasonal fruit in bulk and then make jam, freeze, or dry them, and I got my friends together to squish 50 pounds of apples to make cider in my kitchen (never again).
Luckily, my parents bought a little country house when they were my age, and my family has been super fortunate to be able to have this piece of heaven. And last year for my birthday, they gave me a piece of it. Not for real - I don't have any paperwork or anything, but I got some.
I got a field. You are probably not at all impressed. A field with a rusty swingset! Let me walk you through it.
First, on the left-hand side, we have the two beehives. If you don't know this already, bees are super fascinating, and there is NOTHING better than fresh honey that you snatched from the hive. Getting stung sucks. I love the bees, they hate me.
Next to the beehives, there's an apple tree that makes really sour, small apples. They have been feeding deer for years, and since my first act as a landowner was not to mow my side of the field, the deer also now sleep there. At first I thought it was super cool, until I realized that they were also eating all of my garden.
one part of the garden
My garden is a constant source of pride and frustration. I only check on it every two weeks, and there no fence around it, so I basically spend two hours weeding it per month, and I occasionally I manage to beat everything else to a pea or a zucchini. The semi-cool thing is that I make this garden every year by laying down cardboard and vegetable scraps in the fall, and by spring it really improves the soil. This year the radishes, kale, and basil have been doing well, so it's not a total loss. Next year I'm building a fence.
The swingset? We've had this swingset rotting around for a while now, and at first I was going to turn it into a little greenhouse with a plastic tarp. But then I realized that wouldn't work because I would never be able to water them that way, so I turned it into a giant trellis for peas.
Towards the back of the field, I have a big potato patch. Not much weeding necessary, potatoes don't need too much attention, and I also have some zucchini, squash, and cucumbers.
It's no 5 acre-farm, and I know it doesn't look like much. But I build onto it every year, and eventually I would love a greenhouse, chickens, more bees, and a bigger garden with an actual fence. One day I'd like to live out here - if someday we ever get internet in the country. Until then - this is my tiny homestead.
Last night, we broke a lamp. It was a fairly hideous, second hand ceramic lamp (sorry, whoever we got it from!). It fell off the table and got chipped, and then a few hours later, it got knocked off the table again and smashed. I took that as a sign that finally, this lamp's time in our collection of second and third hand furniture, was over. Yesss!
There are two pretty embarrassing qualities about me (actually there are a lot more, but hey, let's start with two), and they are: 1) I am extremely cheap, as in, I would much rather get something for free or cheap from someone else than buy a totally new one, and 2) I am really, really, really bad at math and putting things together. For the daughter of a family of engineers, I clearly missed a gene somewhere.
Anyway. These two qualities are good background info because they set you up for tonight's project: I made a new lamp! Out of the old one that I broke!
Since the actual lighting and cord part of the lamp still worked, I wanted to make another lamp out of it. I've seen lamps and chandeliers made out of mason jars lately, and I think they look really cool, in a hipster and kind of cheap-o way. But there was a long metal rod that housed the light cord up through the ceramic parts of the lamp, and that thing wasn't coming off, nor did I know of a gigantic mason jar that would hold it.
Luckily for me (and unluckily for my partner), I have kept a cool-looking bottle since November, in case I needed to use it one day. And with a little bit of fiddling, I made:
Just to prove that it actually works
The bottle is pretty sturdy, which is why I chose it instead of a wine bottle. The metal rod was really long, so to cover up the empty space at the top, I cut a plastic cork in half and stuck it in. I just happened to have a cork...it's one of the other projects that I'm planning, which hopefully you will one day see if it's not too embarrassing. I swear, I'm not a hoarder.
Not bad for someone who can't figure out how to build IKEA furniture or put up new curtains, eh?
I'm an eco-conscious girl from Montreal, Quebec. I'm currently an adjunct science professor at Champlain College of Vermont (Montreal Campus). I'm interested in any opportunities to expand my experience with grassroots activism, climate change legislation, or environmental education.