Six Ideas on How to Live More Sustainably

A simple google search on the “world’s trash” reveals that the United States is leading in the amount of trash generated. We produce more trash than China, which has a population four times larger than the United States. The world’s trash problem is predicted to produce 4 billion tons by 2100. Check out this video and article on “The Guy Wearing 3o Days Worth of Garbage Around NYC.” He certainly makes us think about the amount of disposable trash the average American generates.

I believe that conservation comes down to individual actions and thought processes. Awareness is important, but being willing to try something new is key. I must begin by pointing the finger at myself. I love living in the Ranchette household because one of our goals is to live sustainably.

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Lavendar and Yarrow; It’s Uses and Benefits

The Ranchettes have been busy harvesting both lavender and yarrow at our farm. We mostly use lavender and yarrow for decorative purposes. However, both lavender and yarrow have an enormous amount of medicinal and culinary benefits.

Lavender is Lavandula in Latin. It grows in temperate climates around the world. While it is used as an ornamental plant for gardens and it’s extracted oils are used commercially, it is also used in food and medicinally. Lavender has been known to alleviate anxiety and restlessness.
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The Business of Bees

Bee keeping is now a family occupation. The saga began when my friend, Lizz, gifted us, the Ranchettes, a bee hive, bee equipment, and the book “Beekeeping for Dummies.”  At first, we were quite excited, thinking “How complicated can beekeeping be?” But, then we started reading the manual “Beekeeping for Dummies.” We soon realized that if “Beekeeping for Dummies” was trying to simplify bee keeping, it was a whole lot more complicated than we originally thought. We eventually passed the bee hives and equipment onto our brother, whose wife and four children now successfully maintain four healthy bee hives.

Here are a few pointers on keeping bees, which we have learned through my brothers’ family’s endeavors.
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Simplicity; Eco-Friendly Sustainable Decorations

For years, we have made an annual trip to Colonial Williamsburg to admire hand-made decorations displayed throughout the town. Many of these decorations are created self-sustainably and with natural elements.  These ornaments surpass any plastic, store-bought ornaments a person can buy in a store. In addition, they are free, gathered from from the forests floors, seashores, and gardens. To create natural ornaments only require a little bit of creativity and elbow grease.
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Three Steps to Refurbishing Chairs

Here are three of the six chairs Jennette and Michelle recently refurbished. The backs of the chairs were falling apart and the seats were in disrepair. In a matter of three simple steps, they recreated these chairs for under $10.50 each.

    1. Sanded and spray painted the chairs with colorful Rust-Oleum purchased from Walmart. Cost: $3.86.
    2. Reupholstered the seats with upcycled wool purchased from a local second-hand store. Cost: under 50 cents.
    3. Replaced the backs of the chairs with cute tin signs they found on sale at the Hobby lobby. Cost: $6.00.

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Four Simple Steps; Preserving Herbs

At the Ranchettes farm, we have herbs flourishing in all corners of the yard. We grow Basil, Sage, French Taragon, Chives, Oregano, Dill, Cilantro, Rosemary, and Mint and use these herbs as a source of fresh culinary seasoning. Try fresh rosemary with roasted potatoes or fresh cilantro on spicy chicken soup! Delicious.

It can tend to be frustrating when these herbs go to flower or to seed and take over the garden. Consequently, we preserve and dry these herbs with the simple use of hot attic. Following are four simple steps we implemented to preserve our flowering dill, cilantro and mint. Continue reading “Four Simple Steps; Preserving Herbs”

Our Friends, the Mennonites

This past week, we were visited by our Old Order Mennonite friends from Dayton, Virginia. We grew up with these people. As a young teen, we spent our summer on their farms mostly during the summers. Many of the girls in this picture above are the children we helped babysit. Now they are all adults with children of their own. These Mennonite people have been one of the greatest influences in our lives. They live collectively, work hard, practice stewardship, worship privately, and are fiercely protective of their lifestyles. Following are four facts you may not know about Mennonites.
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Moonshine Yarrow


One of the Ranchette’s favorite flowers to plant and dry is moonshine yarrow (Latin name is Achillea). We have experimented growing many types of flowers in the many years we have lived in Virginia. Through many trial runs, we have found that yarrow grows well in Virginia soil. But, most importantly, the foraging deer in our area do not seem to eat it. Supposedly, they do not find yarrow appetizing due to it’s strong odor. Continue reading “Moonshine Yarrow”

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