Red Pepper
Image by urbanworkbench via Flickr

As the snow falls outside and most of the leaves have fallen, I’m reminded of all the things that were not accomplished on the to-do list. Despite this, we have a cold room full of apples, pumpkins and squash, preserved fruit and vegetables in canning jars, dried goods in the kitchen and a handful of other goods including seed-saving efforts in different nooks and crannies around the house. In the coming weeks we’ll receive our grain and lentil shares from the second year of harvest in the Kootenay Grain CSA, grown in Creston, about a hundred and fifty kilometers east of us. Our shares should provide wheat and oats for the year, and lentils for a number of months, we still have some wheat remaining from last year’s crops but that was really a function of milling power. Out in the garden, we’ve sown our garlic for next year and have prepared the carrot, beet and rutabaga beds for overwintering in the ground. The straw bales we received from Creston through the Castlegar Gardening Club have been instrumental in getting this to a stage we have confidence in.

This winter, I’m hoping to rig up a bike power-train to the grain mill and will move the milling operation down to the basement. This should be less athletic than the current hand-crank method of grinding our grains for flour. Some tips on how to do this are at the Country Living Grain Mill site. If you haven’t seen this mill in action check it out.

We are far from self sustaining. We are totally on the grid for natural gas heating, hydro generated electricity for cooking, lighting and technology solutions, and City provided water and sewer utilities – but we feel more prepared for winter than we have been before. To round out our urban homestead, we’d like to have chickens (for eggs) and goats (for manure and milk), but we are waiting on the City of Castlegar to consider a proposal to allow these animals to be rasied for food production in the residential zones of the City.

Already we are planning for next spring, seeds, new garden beds, crop rotations; it feels somewhat premature, but it gives us the winter to roll these ideas around for a few months before we really need to get onto it. We’ve had guests for the past two weeks and are getting back into our normal routine as the weekend approaches. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sift through my inbox, feeds, and thoughts and make a concerted effort to output some relevant posts for next week!

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.