Our Home and The Earth

Since moving into our little mobile home I have become even more aware of our daily impact on the earth and its resources. Every day I am confronted head on by what goes in and what goes out of our humble abode. From the start we made a few choices that would help to limit our impact on the environment around us and we hope to do even more to leave the smallest footprint possible.

Instead of using the normal toilet that was already in place we decided to remove it and put in a composting toilet. This was done for several reasons but our principle motivating factors were to facilitate the move without having to worry about setting up where the waste would go and to limit our water usage. In France most rooms have a separate water closet for the toilet so it was easy for Fañch to remove the original one and replace with our composting toilet.

Some people may be skeptical about this contraption but I can assure you that it makes for an excellent environmentally and economically-friendly addition to the house. With a compost toilet you never have to worry about plumbing issues or clogged toilets. We also use it to dispose of all our vegetable and food scraps, reducing the waste that heads to trash cans and landfills.

No, the smell does not appear to be any worse than a regular bathroom. Any odors are limited by the addition of sawdust that is sprinkled in the toilet after use. Every few days the bucket is removed and dumped into a larger composting area which is also used for clippings from the lawn.

When Fañch hooked up the water to our home he also installed the pipes that would evacuate the water from the two sinks and the shower. The pipes carry the water outside and lead to a hole he dug. He will eventually fill the hole with rocks to help with the filtration of the water back into the ground but for now there is just a large hole.

This has proven to be quite fascinating for me but also eye-opening. Every time we wash the dishes or one of us takes a shower we can clearly see the quantity of water that was used. It has encouraged me to make a few changes such as turning off the water in the shower whenever it is not being used to rinse off. I also try to avoid turning on the faucet every time I want to rinse a dish, instead using the water that is already in the sink.

For now the adjustments are a good start and we hope to continue outfitting our home to keep its impact minimal.

A New Year, A New Nest

Having returned from our holiday trip to the U.S., Fañch and I set to work in early January preparing for our move to the farm. I had just passed the French driving test which facilitated our leaving behind of city life (and all the public transportation that comes along with it) in favor of living back at Fern Island Farm.

In a few years time Fañch and I will live in the main farmhouse. His parents have purchased a new home on the farm’s property but will not settle into it for another couple of years, the time it takes to install running water, rebuild the roof, and lay down some flooring other than packed earth. The 80-something year old gentleman living in the stone cottage had not done much to modernize it since the generations that had called it home before him.

While this work is being done Fañch and I have decided to install a little mobile home on the property instead of continuing to rent elsewhere. Our two main motivations were wanting to be closer to the farm and wanting to find a way to save money in order to redirect more of it towards my student loan payments.

So as the new year rolled in we visited a few potential homes before finally settling on one. Despite its small square footage, the space feels light and airy, with several large windows letting in sunlight and offering views of the pasture outside. It was no easy feat getting it from the driveway at the farm to the location we had decided to place it. After a month of near constant rainfall the fields were soaked. Using the tractor to pull a mobile home across two of these fields ended before it could begin when the trailer supporting the home sank into a muddy rut. Three weeks went by before Fañch was able to pull it free, this time with a larger tractor and one-of-a-kind homemade skis he had fabricated to place beneath the trailer’s wheels, allowing it to slide across the still wet fields.

I have had a lot of fun decorating it this past week. Both of us are looking forward to this spring when the cows will return to pasture and the green expanse beyond our windows is filled with them happily munching on grass and alfalfa.

our spare room/office
Fañch stabilizing the home

dining area
Yesterday Fañch and I also set out to do something we have been planning since last summer. When we started talking about marriage I knew I didn’t want the typical diamond ring. I have never been much of a ring person (as proven by the fact I have lost nearly every ring I have ever owned) and so we brainstormed other things we could do to mark our engagement. We decided on planting a tree together at the farm.

So we set out Sunday afternoon and went for a long walk through the farmland. Fañch had a few particular fields in mind where he thought we might find an abundance of oak saplings to choose from. Sure enough there was no shortage of the young trees and we soon found one to our liking. With a few good scoops of the shovel Fañch had the earth around the roots loosened up and the tree removed from its corner of the field.

With the sapling in hand we took back off across the fields, our boots squelching with each step in the soaked earth. Arriving at the chosen field Fañch got back to work digging a small hole for us to replant our oak. A few minutes later we were filling the hole back in being careful not to let any large rocks tumble in with the dark soil.

I feel so much more attached to this little sapling than I could have to a ring. All last night as strong winds whistled through the countryside I kept thinking of the young oak tree and hoping it hadn’t been yanked from its fresh bed of soil by the gusts. The place we planted it is along a newly formed embankment that borders recently acquired fields. We can’t wait to watch it grow along with the pasture surrounding it and our own relationship together at Fern Island Farm.

found a good sapling!
ready to bring it to its new home a few fields over
post-planting along one of the new embankments surrounding new fields for pasture