My neighbor Steve and I had a very fine weekend at Northland Sheep Dairy learning about horses and mules as draft animals from Donn Hewes’ Teamster School. Some day, we think it would be amazing to have our own draft animals here on site… but for now, we still have a lot to learn. I was extremely excited about the possibility of learning to rebuild and repair old horse-drawn implements such as old McCormick Deering sickle bar mowers.
I’ll try to keep my notes on this weeks purchases concise. Good: Local cheese; used books; local port and brandy; car alignment check at a local service station. (Although this could get better if my friend John becomes a neighbor and is able and willing to apply his mechanic skills to cars on-site.) Bad: Some garden implements from Agway, needed because old ones broke (plastic sucks). Gas for car. Ugly: Greek mavrodaphne wine – this was something I tried years ago and wanted to sample again. However, I will soon be bottling some homemade wine from my own Concord grapevines – which (you’ll have to trust me on this) is much better than you’d think based on Concord’s reputation. Also, wings and drinks at The Haunt’s karaoke night (again). Ambiguous: Going out to eat to meet with people. These were three local, non-chain establishments: Viva Cantina, Hawi Ethiopian Restaurant, and the Rogues’ Harbor Inn. In all cases, I’m sure many of the ingredients were non-local; Rogues’ Harbor probably did the best as my sandwich included local (free range, hormone free, antibiotic free) chicken, locally baked bread, local cheese, and beer from on-site, and all 5 beers in the sampler were also made on site. Balance that against the fact that it’s the furthest of the three from my home.
It seems that now might be a good time to look in on some of the other purchases that have happened this month “in the background” – things like automatic payments for services or such things that don’t show up as receipts in my wallet.
Good: Trees from Musser Forests – they are relatively close, and once planted one hopes that the trees become a local and self-sustaining resource. CO2 offsets from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. A donation to one of my Alma Maters – no goods received, the donation will do work locally where it is received. Service contract costs for my domestic hot water system.
Bad: Water filter service contract from Aquasana – this seemed like an economical way to get filtered water, but it seems unfortunate to be shipping filters across the country. However, I only need a new one every 6mo or so, which is better than when I was using a Britta filter. Phone bills – no obvious alternative to a big national corporation for a true (works when the power goes out) land-line phone.
Ugly: Netflix subscription – this is split between me and a friend; neither of us have (or really want) cable, and both of us have relatively esoteric movie tastes (things like old episodes of Doctor Who, obscure political documentaries, and Bollywood comedies). And, because much of what I’m actually interested in isn’t available “on demand,” I actually continue to have them ship me DVDs. There are certainly other, more local forms of entertainment, but considering the relatively light weight of DVDs in the mail, I suspect this isn’t an environmental catastrophe either. Electric bills – would be nice to buy a Solarcity Powerwall, but not in the cards right now, and otherwise relying on our lovely NYSEG for power. However, by buying wind credits I can home that some of my power is coming from Black Oak Wind Farm.