The great eggsperiment

I’ve mentioned before that a part of our plan here is to have chickens which are, of course, an essential ingredient in almost any permaculture design. Not only do they provide eggs and meat (not for me!), but also manure, warmth for plants in an attached greenhouse, feathers, and they help weed/till the garden as they eat insects and food wastes. In short, chickens rock. I cannot wait to get our coop built and the chickens moved in. For now I’ll content myself with eggs which are raised by someone else in their backyard. What’s great about home raised eggs is that I can request that they not be washed. You may not know this but eggs have a protective layer which keeps them perfectly edible for up to three weeks without being refrigerated. Neat, eh? This is especially important for me because I do not have, or plan to get, a refrigerator. Let me explain.

One of the primary principles of permaculture is earth care which means, in part, reducing our carbon footprint. For those of us in the U.S. this means a drastic reduction of about 90% (I’ll discuss that figure in another entry to be posted soon) if we are to have an equal share with the rest of our fellow humans. In addition to earth care there is of course the added reality of peak oil/coal/energy (peak everything really but that’s also another post for another day!).

What this means for me in my day-to-day life is that I have made a choice to not have the typical electrical appliances that most people in the U.S. take for granted as necessary for life. This brings me back to the refrigerator. Because I don’t a refrigerator I have to adapt, I have to think differently about how I use and store food. I have to make sure that the eggs I get have not been washed so that I can keep them at everyday temperatures. I no longer drink soy milk which I only really used as a creamer for coffee. Also, no cheese which I don’t miss much since I rarely ate it. It means that I have to be careful when I cook so that I’m not cooking too much. If I do have left overs I can usually keep them in a small cooler with a bit of very cold well water and eat them the next day with no ill effects.

I’ve been living without a refrigerator for nearly two months and I’m still very healthy. It has required a few modifications to my diet but nothing drastic. It’s just one step towards a smaller carbon footprint and a way of life that will likely be a fact for most of us in a future with fewer fossil fuel resources.

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2 thoughts on “The great eggsperiment

  1. woodswoman

    hi denny… we’moon in the woods here from flickr. finally found a few minutes to check out your blog, and i’m enjoying it. it’s so nice to find like minded folks out there.

    i don’t know a thing about missouri…. can you garden year round there? if not, are you planning to preserve food and if so, in what ways? w/ no fridge i suspect there’s no freezer either, so that’s not an option.

    i used to live w/o a fridge, just a hole in the floor of our kitchen, which we kept cool with frozen jugs of water from the freezer. here i think we could create a makeshift fridge pretty well utilizing the cold water of our quarry. and in a good winter there’s plenty of snow to do the job. 🙂 however freezing food is a main method of preservation for me, so that’s something to work around.

    we recently acquired chickens and i am trying to figure out the best way to integrate them into our system here. so far they are on rotational grazing, i’m thinking that in the fall i will turn them loose in the garden to do some cleanup. however i like to winter over stuff too so will have to protect from that endless scratching. 🙂 i found this link and am considering it as one way to incorporate the chickens. i’d like to free range but we are in the middle of the woods, w/ lots of predators and also random dogs coming through periodically.

  2. denny

    howdy and great to get your comment!! agreed that it is nice to find other folk with similar goals, ideals, values…

    as for gardening year round, almost for some things. our winters have been fairly mild in the past 4-5 years, imagine that!! With a bit of protection I think I’ll be able to keep chard, kale, lettuce and spinach going.

    as for preserving, yes, planning to can and dry everything that is not eaten. next year i’ll have more time to do some proper planning and will be growing enough for summer eating and preservation. We will be putting in a root cellar eventually and until then i’ll dig a barrel into the ground for cool storage. i’ll also use a window cooler during the fall and winter months. i’m willing to experiment and also willing to change/adapt my diet as needed.

    i convinced my sister to get chickens a few months back and they are loving them. i will be getting them as soon as i possibly can… this fall or spring at the latest. during the days i’ll be letting them graze in the forest garden which will be fenced in with a 5 foot fence, at least that is the initial plan though it could change… again an experiment! i’m not sure if that space will be enough. i’m also in the woods so will probably not free range them.

    it is a wonderful way of life… always busy and always learning!!

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