Tag Archives: oil

Politics and Marriage

Before anyone begins reading this assuming that it is an blog post focusing on the gay marriage issue in Maine, let me state that it’s nothing of the sort. (For one, that’s nothing that concerns how we run the homesteading portion of our lives, but it’s also something Joe and I agree on and are both in favor for.)

This post deals with the issue of two very like minded people who are married to one another having a difference in opinion about an environment impacting decision that will be made in our town. Currently there is a plan in the works to see a natural gas pipeline go from Kittery up through the Kennebec Valley and eventually up into Canada. This pipeline would be directly effecting towns like Augusta, Farmingdale, Fairfield, Oakland, Norridgewock, Madison, and Skowhegan.

While both we are both environmentally conscious people, we each have very different views on the pipeline. To help others see how different these views really are, we’ve decided to share them.

Tasha: I’m not happy about the gas line coming through because, instead of wasting more money by creating temporary relief to the fuel issue, that money should be used to looking at sustainable, long term fuel solutions and subsidies for those that are already using/converting to long term solutions, such as algae based bio-fuel, wood, and solar. Tax credits for curbing fuel usage would also be a bonus as well, as it would hopefully teach more people to look at their own consumption and not simply keep swapping from one form of another.

My other concerns include the environmental impact that the construction of the line will have along the Kennebec River and how the pipeline will effect the river at the crossing points. None of this information has been readily made to the public as far as the environmental impact is concerned. It’s unfortunate that so many of those for this massive project are only thinking of the monetary aspect and not the damage that might be incurred on the Kennebec Valley.  What about when this gas line is no longer usable? What good does all that damage do for the next generations? I’m not asking these questions in order to get an answer, per say, but asking them to get others thinking about the “what ifs.”

 

Joe: I’m always happy to see cleaner fuel methods moving forward and becoming available to the public.  It’s true that Natural Gas is not a permanent solution, but it IS much cleaner than fuel oil which many in the Northeast burn as their primary source of heat.  It is also more abundant in North America than oil, reducing our foreign oil needs as well as putting money into our local economies.  Natural Gas is also less expensive than current alternative heating options, excluding cord wood of course.

We all know we need to shift from our current fuel usages.  I think that this process is best to be done in baby steps gradually moving towards more sustainable practices.  Currently we are no where near close to using sustainable and safe energy sources as our primary fuels, so we need to use the best we have.  If we always use the best we have, and are always striving towards the “next generation” fuel source, we will eventually get there and we will keep our planet as clean as possible.  If we try to make the jump to fully sustainable practices too quickly, only the rich will be able to afford to do it and the mass populace won’t catch on – in fact, it could attach a stigma to the technology keeping it from ever catching on fully.  We want to make sure solar, geothermal, heat pumps, hydrogen cars, ethanol (algae and cellulose based) are ready for the big time before they are pushed as “the way to go.”  In the mean time, Natural Gas is a great stop gap – and it’s cheap to boot.  I don’t want to see us continue on with our wasteful ways simply hoping that eventually we’ll have the perfect solution when it may never come.  At a minimum it may come at a much later time and meanwhile we are destroying the world around us.  So, just like everything else, we should do the best with what we have.

As you can see, while we have two very different views on the current situation, our long-term view is the same. That being said, this shouldn’t be romanticized in any fashion. Our ability to discuss these differences is something that has taken these past eight years to build to, and as with everything, will never reach perfection. How do we do this? Simple enough: we agree to disagree, which is easy when the overall outcome that both people want to see happen is the same. Right now this is severely easy to do in the case of natural gas because it’s not something that effects our home right now and most likely won’t even be made available to us because of where we live in town. If it was to effect us directly, we would be looking at hours of research and soul searching on both our parts regarding the topic, along with some very lengthy conversations about whether or not we would utilize the product available.

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The One Year Mark

Actually, I lie, it’s been over a year. It’s been about a year and a month. We closed on our house last year on June 13th. It’s amazing the things that change in over a year.

Kiddos

Not only have we added two more children to our mix (Belle, a border collie mix, and Jacks, a mini-rex), but we also said goodbye to our beloved Guepo (common goldfish of 9.5 inches). Thankfully, his sister, Kitana, is doing well.  Aside from the loss, the family as a whole has really bonded into one that I’ve always dreamed of. While some may not think of animals as kids or family, we do. This is our family, part of what makes us multifarious.

We also had a few visitors. One of which I really felt needed to be acknowledge because he’s just so cute! I give to you Steve the Snake:

He’s a cute little garter snake that accidentally got nicked on the head with the lawn mower. We brought him in and cleaned up the cut. We used the extra fish tank as a temp home for him for a few days to make sure he healed alright. I’m happy to say that we were able to let him go a couple days ago. Since the cut wasn’t very deep, and he got very lucky, he made a full recovery.

Heating

This past year has also brought us more of a want to be self-sufficient. We’re slowly working towards having an outdoor woodboiler. Right now we have our new-to-us, used-to-someone-else oil tank that needs to go into the basement this summer. The previous one is a bit old and is a little untrustworthy. The “new” one is only 150 gallons, which is just the right size as the most we ever have delievered is 125 at a time. Plus, this means that once we have the outdoor woodboiler there is no need to fret about having too much oil just sitting there.

This past winter we only used 600 gallons of heating oil, which compared to many is nothing at all. If I remember hearing right, I think the average amount of oil a single-family household consumes a winter is 800 gallons, which puts us roughly 200 less than that. But, that’s a national statistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Maine or New England average is much higher.

Gardening/Harvesting

Last year we only had one small garden bed that contained some peas, beans, and tomatoes. This year, we increased by far! Total, we have:

  • 8 silver fir tomatoes
  • 5 sunrise cherry tomatoes
  • 6 buttercup squash plants
  • 6 pie pumpkin plants
  • 8 bell pepper plants
  • 12 sugar snap pea plants
  • 6 – 8 string bean plants
  • Lettuce
  • ~ 40 potato plants

I also went strawberry picking this past season. I currently have three cups frozen in the freezer that I hope to make strawberry-rhubarb jam with in the near future. I’m also planning on going blueberry picking.

As you can tell, part of being self-sufficient comes into learning new trades as well. For me, the big one this year will be canning. My mom was wonderful enough to bequeath to me the canning jars her and my grandmother used.


So far, I have 42 jars. Some may be used for making Yule gifts, I’m not sure yet. Mom says that she has even more jars somewhere! Here’s hoping that I can find enough things to fill them with!