Rancho Cappuccino Case Study: The Initiatives

http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/rancho-cappuccino-case-study-the-initiatives.aspx

How have the queries shaped our lives and our aspirations for Rancho Cappuccino? Mostly, the queries raise new questions that we ask ourselves each day. Should we keep fewer animals, for the sake of the pastures? Are we risking the long-term sustainability of our pastures? Or would it be more efficient and abundant to have a few more sheep and fewer cattle? Do we need to start the tractor today? Can we raise our own chicken feed?

Eventually, the queries lead to calls for action. When we ask ourselves these questions, the answers call for action. Our queries have placed a number of items on our agenda:

Generate more power for ourselves. Consume less from the grid. It will, initially, take some money out of savings, but we can generate electricity photovoltaically and, possibly, with wind turbines. During the writing of this we installed a solar system to heat our household water. We can enhance the efficiency of our heating and air conditioning with geothermal heat exchangers. We can agitate for net metering, so we don’t have to equip our system with expensive, toxic batteries.

Goals: Abundance, fairness and contagiousness.

Build a greenhouse for year-round vegetables. It’s not especially expensive. It’ll take a little elbow grease. Time to get busy.

Goals: Beauty, abundance, fairness and contagiousness.

Put money in savings so the mortgage could be paid off in a pinch. Currently we owe money on the farm and would have to sell it quickly if we lost much of our income. We can’t afford to protect the property with a conservation easement until we mostly own it.

Goals: Abundance and contagiousness.

Share more with local food charities.

Goals: Abundance and fairness.

Photo of Ese the goat by Bryan WelchImprove our goat herd and our hay. Our cattle and sheep thrive on a diet of grass hay in the winter, but the goats grow thin and suffer from the cold. We have been supplementing their diets with a little grain, which costs money and requires cultivation. If we bring in new bloodlines and manage our hay for goat nutrition, maybe we can wean ourselves – and the goats – off the grain.

Goals: Beauty, abundance and contagiousness.

Plant more trees. We need trees in the pastures to provide shade for the livestock. And we could use more trees in the yard, evergreens to block the north wind in the winter and deciduous species to shade the south exposure in the summer.

Goals: Beauty, abundance and contagiousness.

Fix the ugly arbor on the chicken house. I didn’t do a good job when I designed it or when I built it. I’m going to plant some aggressive vines around it and hope they give it a leafy makeover.

Goals: Beauty. Maybe abundance and contagiousness, if I can get grapes to grow on it.

The photovoltaics and the geothermal may have to wait until there’s more money in savings. We’re still working on those decisions. The trees, the goats and the hay are all long-term projects that will evolve slowly. We can share more with the food banks now and we have started on the greenhouse and the trees.

We have our work cut out for us for many years to come.

And for that, we’re grateful.


Bryan Welch is the Publisher and Editorial Director of Ogden Publications, the parent company of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Connect with him on .

For further optimistic discussion about our future, read Beautiful and Abundantby Bryan Welch and connect with Beautiful and Abundant on Facebook.