I have found a substitute for creating garden beds, a new way to exert myself outside that may be more lasting than investing in flowers that are likely to become neglected and overgrown: making trails. I love to walk and run outside, and in fact I must do this daily with the dogs to keep us all happy and sane, so I’ve started carving out trails through the mostly-invasive shrubbery on the property and making existing ones a little roomier. Keeping in mind what a visiting professional pruner told me years ago while I was working at the gardens at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, I take note when I feel cramped or constricted during a walk with my partner, and I bring my pruners with me the next time to open up the path a bit.
I’ll confess that, as a sort of reparation to the Tiny Plot that we have transformed from a lovely meadow into a compacted work zone, I’ve started planting dozens of Arkansas native plants along the path that outlines that plot. So far, I’ve planted False Blue Indigo, Pinnate Prairie Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Hairy Mountain Mint, Silver Mountain Mint, Golden Glow, Indian Pink, and Penstemon. I hope they are able to thrive, re-seed, and regenerate this plot into a beautiful, wild piece of land again, once we’ve moved on…
In other news, we made a little compost-toilet off the side of our little cabin so we don’t have to walk half-asleep and mostly naked across the lawn first thing in the morning to use the potty. While having a separate shower is no big deal, we are big eaters and very regular people, and we’ve learned that a toilet is something we want easy personal access to. I love that a bucket, a toilet seat, a bin of sawdust, a few pallets, and some burlap can make a cute and functional addition. (It’s also the perfect use for the metal siding we cut out of the shipping container to make room for the door and window.) We add a generous helping of sawdust (from a woodworking friend whose shop is two miles up the road) to every deposit (toilet paper and all), and when the plastic tub under the toilet seat is about half full, we carry it over to a shared fenced-in compost pile near our neighbors, where we dump the contents and cover it with a layer of straw (a product also acquired from a local source). Is it smelly? Only if you don’t add enough absorptive sawdust or straw. And all of these nutrients eventually break down to make a gorgeous, highly coveted soil amendment, so our poop doesn’t go to “waste” at all, which feels really good.
We also avoid using of gallons of water that has to be cleaned and transported and cleaned again—just to carry our poop!
Going back to the eating–while talking with some other farm folks (with whom we hope to have a regular meal-share) over dinner the other night, it became apparent that our Tiny House is actually a vehicle for our larger dream of co-creating an intentional community, or eco-village, in this area. Once we have a sturdy home on wheels, we hope to find some property and get to work building our dream. To this end, I’ve just signed up for a visitor session that starts this fall at an ecovillage in Missouri called Dancing Rabbit. I hope to glean some of the to-do’s and not-to-do’s that they have learned over their twenty years of existence amongst the cornfields of the Midwest. It is time to learn from and follow other trail blazers if we’re going to create a world we really want to live in.
Oh yes, and as far as the Tiny House Project is concerned, we constructed a shelf to store lumber out of the way and actually enable us to access the space a bit—but that’s about as far as we’ve gotten the past couple of weeks. The much-needed and -appreciated rain that fell most of the weekend kept us from starting the shed roof of the shop, for which we have the materials (and are itching to use them!). We did get some holes for the posts dug and gravel delivered to the site in very little time, thanks to Reyes. And we were obliged to do some important indoor office work, which will be helpful in the long run, I suppose.