Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Greening it up!

We're pretty green. Besides the grass, I mean....with all the rain north Florida has had this summer, green is abundant. But, I'm actually speaking to the "green" movement that is slowly sweeping the country.

I have to admit though that is isn't the global warming issue that made us go green-er (cuz we're not really buying that 100% just yet...I mean if we can't accurately predict just where a hurricane will make landfall or where an earthquake will hit... well then I have a little bit of an issue with computer models projecting weather and climate patterns 50 years into the future - not to mention the political side of the issue...sorry, but that is the way it is!) Anyway, despite our doubts about global warming, we are going green-er...for a couple of reasons.

1) This is an old house; it is an old farmhouse that may or may not have been built room by room and harvest by harvest (David has seen some signs that the family's story of room by room building may not be accurate) and as an old farmhouse, insulation was an issue. And, insulating it properly and in an environmentally friendly way makes financial sense! I mean who wants to heat the air above your attic or the ground beneath the crawlspace? Not me that is for sure.

2) This is an old house renovated by the previous owners in the most inexpensive way possible by a local handyman some would refer to as a crooked businessman who cut corners in every way possible. We usually experience those cost cutting corners when a frog or a snake or other critter peeks his head out of hole left between something or another - sometimes, it's the sudden appearance of an ivy vine that is attaching itself to a baseboard or a wall...or we just discover it as we gut another room for reno - . So room by room, we are insulating, patching holes that waste energy (and let in undesirables!) etc.

3) Being green is cost efficient.....tax incentives make it attractive, but actually it is the monthly savings on energy bills that really tell the tale. Over the past few years, we've replaced every light bulb with those long lasting energy saving ones...we've put in programmable thermostats and set them at 78 for the mid day and at 80 for nights or other hours when humans don't need the rooms to not be quite so oven-like in the heat of a Florida summer...and we got the kind that do the switch to winter temps that correspond to your summer ones so we don't have to re-program for the seasons. And we've learned that if we allow the separate upstairs heat pump to run on its programing schedule without interference from us, the downstairs unit turns on less often....much less.

4) Replacing those old kitchen appliances with the new energy efficient ones dropped our electric bill by at least $35.00 per month........! Our washer and dryer are getting up there in years - it will be interesting to see if there is an additional reduction in the cost of our energy bills when those are replaced as well (although they are Maytags and could keep going indefinitely) .

5). We're growing our own veggies as much as possible and/or as our learning curve allows....we buy as much as possible not only from the local farmers market but also recently started buying from the local butcher as well. But, if I'm to continue being honest, we didn't begin to buy locally to help the "green movement", we did it for the taste.

David and I were both country raised; me more so then him as his country was the suburb of a small town but we both remember the farmers markets and the local butcher shops that our folks frequented. In my childhood, Daddy Mac raised hogs for slaughter whenever we were stateside, and I can still taste the meats he brought home from the butcher. So it seemed a natural part of our flight from subdivision and city living to begin to shop at the markets whenever possible.

We've only just begun to purchase our meats from the local meat market, but with the first meal cooked I knew that I wouldn't be buying my meat from Wal-mart, Winn Dixie or even Publix ever again. Not only were the pork spare ribs wrapped in butcher paper which brought back memories of Dad's returning from the slaughter/butchering trips, but the flavor and tender nature of the meat were a wake up call. I turned to David and said "this makes me wonder just WHAT we are actually eating when we buy from the super markets!".

I haven't cooked beef in years - because to get a good cut of it you had to pay through the nose.....yet, the last few weeks, I've been pouring over the old cookbooks to remember just how to do it...and then I've been sitting down to a delicious meal because the meat I'm eating wasn't mass produced for Wal-mart.

And for any who think that you can't afford to buy from your local markets....I'm here to say that you can. For $12.00 at my farmer's market, I got vidalia onions, peaches, two types of lettuce, a jar of locally grown peanuts, a jar of locally grown honey...etc. As to the meat market, I got a weeks worth of beef, pork and poultry (to feed four) for $51.00!

And when you begin to cook "good" meat and fresh veggies, you find that you need to buy less of the pre-packaged, preservative filled stuff at your supermarket.....

In my humble opinion, by buying an old farmhouse and restoring it - instead of clearing trees and local fauna to build in another subdivision - we were already green. By hitting junk stands, flea markets, and antique shops for "loved" furniture, instead of buying new furniture - we were already green. But, I'm glad to say that as time goes on down here, we find ourselves living even more by the old "use it up, wear it out, make it do" school of thought....energy efficient renovations and locally purchasing of our food products when we can't produce it ourselves makes us "greener".

And, after all, as a Christian, I am to be a good steward of all that God has given me......global warming or not!

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