The day I bought my small farm in New Hampshire, USA, I worked all afternoon digging out some shaggy looking yew bushes from in front of the 210 year-old farmhouse. The bushes had been broused by hungry deer all winter when the snow depth reached about a metre.
Not far from the farmhouse was a thick stand of hemlock trees growing in a boggy area. Once the ground was frozen and the snow depth started to increase, the deer “yarded” under the hemlocks for shelter at night.
During the day, the deer spread out looking for food. From this perspective, my yew bushes were like the fish n’ chips shop down the street, only without the tomato sauce.
But possession day, 1st June, 2000, was sunny and warm. An afternoon of digging and rooting with a pick axe earned me a tidy front garden, a sore back that lasted three days, and a sunburn that lasted a week.
The first day at my second property in Castlecliff also left me with a sore back and a sunburn, but for completely different reasons. Yes, a squatter had been “yarding” in our lounge over the southern winter, but my lumbar pain had nothing to do with fixing damage he/she had done.
The salt air had perforated the iron roof of the villa with a thousand and one holes, many in the form of little halos around the lead head nails. The first order of business of our eco-thrifty renovation was to put on a new top-of-the-line roof, which meant tearing off the old iron sheet by rusty sheet. Twelve hours later and I was ready for fish n’ chips, aloe vera soothing cream, and a good night’s sleep.
Partly as a result of our eco-thrifty renovation project in Castlecliff, our blog with 400 posts documenting the process from soup to nuts, this weekly column in the Chronicle, and the education work we have done in the community, I have taken a position in another provincial city. It is an amazing job for which I am well suited, but the travel takes a toll on me, my family, and the planet. In order to shorten the distance traveled we have shifted to a new home.
The bad news is that we have to leave our beloved home in Castlecliff after three and a half years of blood, sweat, tears, blisters, sunburn, laughter, dancing, singing, home-birthing and love. The good news is that our new home – a 1930s bungalow – is also in need to eco-thrifty renovation that may fill this column for many months to come.
The other good news is that on my third property I have finally wised up enough to avoid sunburn and a sore back. After shifting furniture and sundries with the help of many friends, I set myself to the real work of the day: changing the light bulbs.
Don’t laugh, there were a lot of energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs that had to be swapped out, and the bayonet type socket can be tricky to insert into a hanging ceiling lamp. After about a dozen bulb swaps, my back was a fresh as ever, although my wrist may have been temporarily fatigued. With age and a herniated disc in my back I have wised up and taken on new ways.
And speaking of new, I am happy to report that I have made my first purchase of LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. But at around $15 each, I want to be assured they will last a decade and save me over $100 each in power. What if they burn out early? What if they are of low quality?
Here is a little trick I have done with my CFL lightbulbs in the past and will continue to do with the LEDs. Take the cash register receipt and staple it to the folded up box with the bar code. Stash this away in that drawer where you keep warranty forms, insurance policies, instruction manuals, etc. If at any time you feel the bulbs have not lived up to their potential, dig out the receipt and head back to where you bought them.