Six great moments from 2011

In no particular order, here are six of my 12 favorite memories of sustainability—defined as “relative success in low-impact, local, mindful living”—from this old year. The other six will follow tomorrow.

1. Charging our chicken-fence battery. Not because it was so great to plug the thing into the grid, but because it was the first time we’d had to do it since we first got chickens in April 2010. That means that for well over a year, the fence ran on solar power alone. No farmer will be amazed by that news—the solar setup is quite common—but for me, it was exhilarating: Part of our household runs on sun!

2. Making curried carrot coins. These, along with peach-lavendar jam, are my favorite new canning projects from 2011, and both come from a cool new canning book by ABODE contributor Jessie Knadler. It’s called Tart & Sweet and boasts a blurb from Alice Waters. (I was too busy.) Anyway, the coins were fab with Indian dinners.

3. Buying a Christmas present on craigslist. It’s a camera for my husband, and I love that it’s used—because I could actually afford it, and because it deserves a good home.

4. Saving our back porch. Well, actually, we tore it off the house. But we did it carefully, saving sections to reassemble into a woodshed. A project for 2012.

5. Venison stew. A neighbor shared the spoils of his deer-hunting adventure; we kept the meat in the freezer for a long time because we didn’t know how to cook it or even whether we liked venison. Finally got up our courage, made it into a stew with veggies and potatoes, and promptly fell in love with a super-local, organic-by-default food.

6. Observing bike culture in Madison, Wisconsin. Our summer vacation took us to this university town laced with bike lanes, bike paths and—most importantly—people of all ages and stations who seem to take it for granted that two wheels are enough to get around town.

More to come!

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