becoming a zero waste household

This post will be one in a series of our new zero waste journey.

Now I have been pretty horrible in regards to taking care of our planet up until this point. We had bins for recycling when we lived in the city. I rarely used them. I gave Truman our table scraps and then threw out what he didn’t eat. I didn’t conserve water. I ran the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer nearly everyday. I let the tap run excessively when I washed my face or washed my hands. The list goes on.

Since moving to our acreage, we have began to adopt a more waste-free lifestyle. It all began when I read this Instagram post on composting:

In recent years, only an estimated 38% of food was composted in the US. Food scraps make up about 30% of everything we throw out 😱 not only that, when we send our food scraps to the landfill, they decompose with no air, creating the greenhouse gas methane – a gas that is 34x more potent than CO2.⁣

Composting diverts food scraps from landfills and creates rich, nutrient soil that can be used to grow more food- it is truly circular!⁣

Then I went on to read this one:

“So why is it so important to keep organic matter out of landfill anyway? Won’t it just breakdown there? Well basically, no.⁣
.⁣
Landfill areas are so densely compacted that there is not enough microbes, air, light or moisture for organic matter to breakdown. Did you know that they have found 20+ year old intact carrots in landfill!?! Compared to my worms who could break down a blended carrot in a couple of hours…⁣
.⁣
When organic mater does begin to breakdown in landfill, it does so anaerobically (without oxygen), which produces greenhouse gases as a byproduct.⁣
.⁣
So by throwing your organic scraps into your kerbside bin you’re ensuring they probably wont break down – and if they do, they’ll produce green house gases.

After that, I was convinced. I told Geoff that we were going to start composting that day, and he was on board. He went outside a few days later, and built me a bin out of spare wood that we had laying around.

Now we keep a large container with a lid inside of our house where we collect everything. Then once a day, or every second day, we go outside and empty it into our compost pile. I can’t wait until we are able to use it in our garden!

Because we have to get our water hauled to us, we conserve conserve conserve. We have a 1500 gallon tank in our basement. I do the dishes in the sink every morning, making sure to not fill the sink too full. We don’t flush the toilet with every trip to the bathroom. Instead of bathing once or twice a day, I instead have a quick shower every second day. The kids, on the other hand, share a bath once a day. I wash our clothes only once a week, and hang them out to dry instead of using our dryer. We only turn the taps on low and quickly turn them off whenever we are done.

Our liquids get pumped to a spray field in our yard while our solids go to a septic tank.

We are also collecting rainwater from the eaves on the garage for all of our outdoor plants.

At the moment, I am striving towards eliminating all paper towel from our household. Producing paper towel consumes 110 million trees and 130 billion gallons of water per year. I am in the process of cutting up old towels and shirts to use them as rags. I hope to stop buying paper towel by the end of the month!

Finally, because we do not have garbage pickup, we now make a point of separating our recycling and bottles out of our trash. We take those in, and store our garbage in a bin behind our garage until it is ready to go to the dump. For now, that is our solution.

Stay tuned for my next post on further changes toward leading a more waste-free household.

Emory

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acreage video tour

Hello! Today I am publishing a video tour of our new acreage. We have neither had the time nor money to make any real improvements to the interior yet, so I thought that it would be a great idea to document it now before we do! That way, I can see the changes over the years to come. It will also allow you guys to have a better understanding of our latest home. :-)))

I will add that received a few messages with my previous post regarding everything going wrong. What I failed to mention was that our home was actually a foreclosure, which means that we bought it in “as is” condition. This made us very nervous, but at the same time we would not have been able to get it as quickly as we did or for the price that we did. So, it was a gamble (but one that paid off in the end).

Enjoy the video, lovely people!

Emory

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our 1st month on the acreage

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him,
And he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Welcome April. It has been one month since we moved into our new home, and almost every alarm bell has gone off. Literally, not figuratively. 

Early in the evening on the first day of moving, my husband called me on his last trip to the house. He was driving on the highway and he said that something was seriously wrong with his truck. His dashboard was lit up and his truck kept dying. He said that I was probably going to have to bring the kids and rescue him. It turns out that he blew the engine pulling too heavy of a load. Thankfully, he did end up making it to the house. After he unloaded everything, we went and picked him up late that night.

On the second night in our home, we woke up to a “beep beep beep beep.” Our fire alarm was going off in the hallway between our bedrooms. Geoffrey jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to get the step stool. He determined that it was just a faulty battery, and went to remove it from the ceiling. Suddenly we hear “fire! fire!” coming from the alarm. Geoff took it down and shut it off, but both of us were rattled. We have woken up in the middle of the night to a house fire in the past, and it had brought back those memories for me. I didn’t sleep for the rest the night.

We were scheduled to get our water delivered the next day. The truck came that afternoon as I was putting the kids down for a nap. Geoffrey went down into the basement to keep an eye on our water tank as it was getting filled. All of a sudden, I hear “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.” It went on and on for a few minutes until it finally stopped. Apparently, the delivery guy couldn’t tell when to stop filling the tank, and it nearly overflowed. Geoff had to grab the stool once again and unplug the alarm on the ceiling in order to silence it. At that point, I had hoped that we heard the last of alarms going off. I was wrong.

We hired a plumber to come out and take a look at our furnace and water on demand system. He showed up the following day. The furnace was making a loud squealing noise to which the plumber ended up fixing. However, he had no idea how to get our in floor heating or our hot water to turn on. He ended up leaving without solving the problem. Fast-forward to the end of the day, I had tracked down the serviceman who had originally installed everything. It turns out that our water on demand system was corroded and discontinued. So we went without hot water and heat in the basement until the end of the week when he returned with a new hot water heater. This meant that yet more money was spent, but at least we could now bathe, wash dishes, and wash our clothes.

Moving upstairs, so far the fridge and stove seemed to work just fine. Geoffrey told me to hold off on using the dishwasher because he was quite literally frightened at this point about something else breaking down. It turns out that he had reason to be. We finally tried running it after about two weeks. It worked for a few minutes then suddenly stopped and filled with smoke. If the dishwasher had an alarm, I’m sure that it would have gone off. After pulling it out and taking it apart, Geoff found the root of the problem. He fixed it that evening, put it back together, and it has worked fine ever since. Thankfully we did not have to buy a new one!

Nearer the end of the month, my brother and his family came to visit us. The day of their first trip out to see our home was the most chaotic. Geoffrey was gone and so it was up to me to host and feed them that morning, then head into town for immunizations that afternoon, come back, put the kids down for a nap, and go back into town that evening for a baptism prep course. The day was long and I was so exhausted by the end of it. Upon returning home after 8 pm with two tired children, I heard an alarm going off in the house. I quickly ran inside and left Remy and Wilder in the doorway. I threw open the basement door and our cat and dog ran out, terrified. Descending the steps, I thought that it was a fire alarm and our home was going to burn down. I went into the mechanical room, and after not seeing a fire, dismantled the fire alarm to stop the noise. The beeping was insanely loud, and was still going. Panicking, I looked around the room until I thought I heard where it was coming from. I hit the silence button and finally there was peace at last.

Worried, but too exhausted to investigate, I texted my husband (who was on a train and wouldn’t see it until the following morning) that another alarm was going off. The next day we discovered that it was for our septic tank. A very long story short, we were able to get someone to come out, unfreeze our septic tank, explain everything to Geoff for a few hours, and remedy the problem. Yet, this was not the end.

I had reached my breaking point last week upon getting a letter in the mail from Information Services Corporation. Having never in my life missed a mortgage or bill payment before, it stated that we had a tax lien on the home that we had just moved from. I quickly Googled what that meant, and nearly lost it. I became so ill. Given that it was a Sunday evening, I couldn’t call anyone until the following morning. (It turns out that it was due to our water lines getting replaced the previous year, and us going on a long-term repayment plan. Everything turned out to be fine in the end.) Laying in bed that night, I pulled up the internet on my phone and saw that Remy had typed a bunch of random letters into YouTube. Worried, I scrolled through the videos to make sure that she hadn’t seen anything bad. The last video on that page was titled “Trust God First.” Curious, and very unlike what I would normally do, I clicked on it. 

I didn’t get very far into the video before I broke down. I just started crying. Up until then (and much like after my miscarriage), I had felt like God was punishing me for some unknown reason. Was I wrong in wanting a quieter and better life for my children? Did I do something in my past that I needed to be chastised for? But then I realized that no, God was permitting these things to happen in order to test me. To test us. He is allowing them to happen, just as He will be beside me every step of the way. Much like it took us five years and having faith in Him to find this acreage, I need to have patience and cast my worries aside. That will be difficult, given that it is my nature to rush through life and worry about EVERYTHING. Yet, I want to fully start trusting in the Lord. From now on, each time I start to feel anxious about something, I will remind myself that it is His will. I will get through it when I am supposed to, and He will help me.

Here’s hoping and praying that our second month goes much smoother than our first. Thanks for following along, friends! Have a beautiful week.

Emory

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we bought an acreage

Almost five years ago to the day (though it feels much longer), we began our search for an acreage home. Having grown up on a few acreages, and my husband on a farm, we have always felt drawn to a more rural lifestyle. We started out by going north of our current city. I published my first post about our hunt here.

Since then, we have pursued homes in every possible direction. We must have looked at between thirty to fifty properties- small acreages with nicer houses, big acreages with smaller houses, nice yards, hideous yards, newer homes, older homes, ones less than ten minutes from the city, ones more than an hour from city limits, and so on. Years went by and we could not find an acreage that ticked most of our boxes. We also went through quite a few realtors during that process. In the meantime, we sold our place in the city, purchased an empty lot at a lake where we built a home, temporarily moved onto my parent’s acreage, sold the house at the lake, and returned to the city. All within the last five years. Now, I can finally say that our quest is over. We bought an acreage!

As life and luck would have it, we ended up settling on a place a few minutes from where we began searching- north of the city. While it does not have as much land as we originally wanted, it is newer and in better condition than most of the properties that we have looked at over the years. It is also completely fenced with a large garage and a finished basement (the latter of which we have never had the pleasure of owning). There are so many other positives about this home, many of which I plan to discuss in the coming months. There are also a few negatives of course, as no home is perfect. However, for right now, it is the best and most wonderful fit for our family.

I am just so thankful and grateful to God for answering my prayers, and to my husband for working hard and being able to afford this place, and putting up with my restless nature. It has been an eventful and long five years, but now I can finally say that we are home.

Emory

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our little nursery

Today I will be sharing another makeover story with you all. It is our master bedroom and nursery. Pictured above and below is what our bedroom looked like prior to our impromptu renovation.

This all began when Geoffrey had more than a week off at the beginning of August. I was 26 weeks pregnant at the time, and had spent the summer nesting. At the time we thought that we were done with renos until after I had our baby. However, being that we were planning on sharing our master bedroom with our newborn, and it was the only room that we didn’t touch since we purchased our home, I began to feel the strongest urge to do something. The walls, carpet, and baseboards were stained from the previous occupants, the fixtures were so old and grimy, and it just felt dirty. I really didn’t want to bring a new and pure child into such a gross room. Geoffrey agreed and so he set about painting the entire room white and changing the fixtures. After buying Remy a new bed, we made her bed back into a crib and brought it in our room. Below is an after photo.

Fast-forward to the beginning of September, and once again my husband was unexpectedly given more time off. (To explain- he is a train conductor that works hard and often makes enough miles before a certain date each month. When he does, he gets those remaining days off until the calendar resets. It is either between a few days to a few weeks per month! I love his job.) We had been staring at the carpet in our freshly painted room over the last few weeks, and decided that now was the time to replace it. That said, I was not able to physically help him refinish the floors this time. Not wanting to do them by himself, he said that we should pick out new flooring and get it professionally installed. I agreed. We went to our usual flooring store where they know us very well and always give us a discount. After bringing home samples, we just could not agree on a colour or style. He wanted dark laminate or carpet. I wanted light hardwood. See above.

Overwhelmed and running out of time, I said that I would sleep on it. The next morning, I cautiously told Geoff that I wanted him to refinish the floors beneath the carpet. His first response was a firm no. He didn’t want to put in the hard work himself, in addition to not knowing what state the original hardwood floors were in. I told him that we would be saving a few thousand dollars, and could do it faster than having to hire contractors. His answer was still a no. So I promised that if the floors were in terrible shape, that we would pay to cover them with laminate or hardwood. Right away, he begrudgingly started tearing out the carpet. So far, so good.

The next day he rented a floor sander and sanded the entire room. Boy, he was not happy. He was also filthy and sneezing. Inside, I was ecstatic! So was Remy! They were in better shape than I could have hoped for. See the progress below.

I think that it only took half a day to stain the floors. After that, Geoff installed the quarter round to cover the gaps. In order to help him out, I painted the trim and our dresser. It was difficult with my big belly and being 7 months pregnant, but I didn’t want him to complain anymore. I also wanted to show my appreciation for making our room over!

In the last month, we have purchased a new bed (going from a Queen to a King), area rug, and other items here and there. The room just fell into place, and we are both so pleased with it. Even though Geoff still won’t admit it, I know that he loves the floors. Plus, between saving money on flooring and buying everything when it was on sale, we saved thousands of dollars! I call that a win considering this makeover wasn’t on our to-do list anytime soon.

Additionally, we decided to hire a furnace and duct cleaning company. Our home is well over 100 years old, and we have done so many renos that have involved sanding the floors that we just wanted to make sure our air was clean for ourselves and, more importantly, for baby. After spending the morning clearing out our ducts, we were told by the technician that our home has probably never been done before. He was getting clumps of solidified black dust and other disgusting material. It took an entire day to scrub our house down after that. Now we are on a two-year rotation to have the service done. I highly recommend it!

That was the story of our latest makeover. I hope you guys enjoyed it. I also hope that it will be the last one for a long while! I don’t think that I can take many more renovations.

Emory

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  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to three (two on earth and one in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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