Friday, July 17, 2009

Living GREEN in the Beautiful Green Mountains

The Royal Ranch on a frosty morning

Like good old Tanya Tucker, I was country when country wasn't cool and the same applies for our green practices. My kids have always called me cheap, but now I have the proper terminology; I'm as green as it gets! Well, that's not entirely true, I still have a lot of things I'd like to try and room for growth on some of my existing programs.

Living in the spectacular Rocky Mountains really reminds a person every day of why it is so important to take care of our future. It has also made some environmentally friendly practices second nature to us. The nearest grocery store is a one hour round trip affair, and that doesn't even include the pain in the butt of clipping and using coupons, making sure I always have my blue bags, and packing in every errand that needs to be done while I'm "out". I drive a large diesel truck, which I know most people would say that I am a gas hog. We find the opposite to be true; because I am very careful about making one trip, whereas many people go back and forth. We also use my truck to haul hay and llamas, so it serves the purpose of family and ranch vehicle.

I know not too many people say they like trash, but I get pretty excitable about Recycling. I started a recycling program at my kids' schools, Platte Canyon High School, Fitzsimmons Middle School and Deer Creek Elementary (yes, I have a child in each school!) and it gives me a secret little chuckle when evcn my 16 year old son privately acts proud about our recycling program. When I first talked about doing this with his school he says "yeah Mom, it makes me real proud, but do I have to tell people?", oh the love of a child.

We of course recycle here at the ranch, and things that I can't recycle, like paper plates because they get to stinky and we'd attract bears before I made my one big trip into town, I simply quit buying. Yes, we have regular dishes with every meal or snack, and I don't have a dishwasher! I even use the dishes as an opportunity; I can't believe I'm telling this, but I do my dishes in tubs (like for camping) in the sink and then can use the dishwater to water my lilacs out the back door.

As I mentioned we live in an OLD house, so some eco-friendly practices have come from necessity. For instance we are on well water and a septic system. The septic is old also, so we are very careful about what and how much goes down there. The house wasn't too efficient when we moved in, and we still have a ways to go, but new windows, added insulation, weather stripping, etc has really helped us save money, electricity and propane. Of course we use the new light bulbs, but some of the old kind simply never burn out, I think some of these bulbs have been here since good old Charlie Royal's time! I think that is the cheap part of me; why fix it if it's not broken?

I am also a master at repurposing things; yes, I think that qualifies me as a hillbilly. I have taken old metal water troughs from ranches that no longer need them and turned them into feeders for my llamas. We even used the old buildings that were left here from a 1940's Conservation Camp and turned them into our barns. I have a six seater outhouse (has been moved from it's original location-no poo involved) that works wonderfully as my tack room, and the old chicken coop works great for the llamas. We removed one wall and shored it up a bit, and it is an ideal llama shelter, as they don't really like to be completely closed up.

I haven't purchased new furniture in years, refinishing is much more satisfying. I've even turned an old milk crate into a great place for storage. I simply turned it on its side and put some cool fabric over the top, wrapped it with a neat old apron that matched the fabric and presto; the kids have a place to store all of those games and even use the pockets of the aprons for all of their controllers! When the kids like it and use it, I guess I've done a good job.

Amazingly enough this is my first year to compost. We have always been blessed to have the nutruient rich llama manure for my flowers, but now with the invention of Naked~Nure, the llama manure is spoken for. This is also my first year to garden at this high of an altitude. When Tom and I first met, we tried a garden at our rental house and the slugs ate all but three leaves of lettuce! That made me not want to try again for twenty years-Ha! I'll keep you all "posted" as to the success of my composting and vegetable gardening, but so far not so good. I planted on June 12th and have only one very visible plant growing!

I'm wondering if my posts are too long, so I'll sign off for now. I want to thank those of you who have given me so much nice feedback and support. I have gotten many messages from old friends on Facebook, wonderful support from three great ladies I like to call my Blog Mentors, and even through e-mail I've gotten some great responses. If you like what you read, tell a couple friends, if not, well....

Have a miracle of a day!

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