8 Reasons Why You Will Want to Work Remotely This Winter

Are you a city-dweller? Tired of the concrete jungle, endless traffic, and the constant hum of urban life? We’ve got just the antidote to your stress, fatigue, and work-related woes – welcome to our serene mountain vacation tiny home, your peaceful oasis to work remotely!  Depending on the type of work that you are involved in and if it makes sense to work away from the office, these past 2 or so years have shown that working remotely is not only doable but beneficial on many levels! Whether it’s for a weeks getaway or for a month, our tiny house could be your home away from home.

Picture this:  you wake up to a world transformed by a soft, white blanket of snow. Your cozy little home, nestled in the heart of the mountains, exudes warmth and comfort. As you step outside you take a few steps to enjoy a morning sauna… or you make your way down the hill to jump on the Slocan Valley Rail Trail for a walk or cross-country ski. The crisp, clean mountain air greets you, invigorating your senses and recharging your energy amidst the winter wonderland.  

At our mountain retreat, we’ve created an environment that fosters relaxation and creativity. Here’s why it’s the ultimate escape:

1. Remote Work Heaven: Our tiny home provides you with the ideal setup to work remotely. We’ve got high-speed Internet so that you can stay connected but you’ll have the peace and quiet you need to concentrate without any distractions.

2. Natural Beauty: The forest and mountains are your new office view. Take breaks to gaze at the snow covered peaks, where inspiration flows as freely as the mountain streams. You’ll find that nature’s beauty is the perfect backdrop for enhanced creativity.

3. Stress-Free Zone: Leave your city worries behind. Our tranquil setting invites you to hit the reset button, allowing you to focus on your work without the usual urban distractions. Escape the hustle, find your centre, and regain your inner balance.

4. Sauna Serenity: Either to start you day or end it, make use of our private cedar barrel sauna. Feel the tension melt away as you rejuvenate both body and mind. It’s a little slice of heaven and there are so many benefits to spending time in a sauna!

5. Skiing Adventures: If you’re a fan of winter sports, you’re in for a treat. Just minutes away, you’ll find the 50km Slocan Valley rail trail that is regularly groomed for cross-country skiing.  A short drive away you’ll also find several world-class downhill and cross-country skiing opportunities! Check out White Water near Nelson and Red Mountain near Rossland.

6. Laundry Convenience: We’ve got laundry facilities to keep you fresh and ready for the next day’s adventures.

7. Ultimate Privacy: Your time is your own here. No nosy neighbours, no city noise – just you, your work, and the soothing sounds of nature. A short walk to a few essential necessities means you don’t always have to get into your car.

8. A Good Night’s Sleep: Our comfortable accommodations guarantee you a peaceful night’s sleep. Rest is essential for productivity and creativity, and we’ve got you covered.

Besides all of the above benefits, we are also in close proximity to several hot springs. Ainsworth, Halcyon and Nakusp are all within driving distance and make for a great day trip!

Now, close your eyes and imagine a place where work seamlessly blends with relaxation. A place where your time is truly your own, where nature’s beauty surrounds you, and where distractions are but a distant memory. That’s what awaits you at our mountain retreat.

7 Ways to Reignite Your Inner Spark

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often find ourselves caught up in the never-ending race against time. Our to-do lists grow longer, and the demands of work, family, and personal life seem to multiply endlessly. It’s no wonder that we sometimes feel drained, burned out, and disconnected from the passion and enthusiasm that once fuelled us. In these moments, what we desperately need is a break—a pause to renew and reignite our inner spark.

The modern world is a whirlwind of activity, constantly bombarding us with stimuli. From the moment we wake up to the minute we lay our heads down to sleep, we are inundated with information, responsibilities, and the pressure to perform. In this fast-paced environment, it’s easy to lose touch with our inner selves, the very essence that makes us unique.

Our inner spark – that passion, creativity, and zest for life, is like a fire that needs tending. When we neglect it for too long, it dwindles, and we risk losing sight of what truly matters. That’s where taking a break comes in.

However, navigating change within our familiar environment often presents a formidable challenge, as breaking free from established patterns can be an uphill struggle. This is precisely where retreats (whether short, medium or long) come into play, wielding their profound influence. By physically removing ourselves from the array of distractions that home offers, we create space for potent transformations to come about naturally.

Taking a break might seem selfish. However, it’s precisely when we’re feeling overwhelmed and drained that we need a break the most. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s an act of strength and self-awareness. The Power of Pause by Terry Hershey is an excellent book that can help to show you the reasons why taking a break is an important step in maintaining balance in your life.

Reflection and Self-Discovery
When we’re constantly on the go, there’s little time for introspection. We become so focused on external demands that we forget to check in with ourselves. Taking a break provides the space and quiet necessary to reflect on our thoughts, feelings, and desires. It’s a chance to rediscover what truly matters to us, what makes us tick, and what brings us joy.

Resetting and Recharging
Imagine your mind and body as a battery. With each passing day, they lose power. A break is like plugging yourself back into the charger. It allows you to reset and recharge, both mentally and physically. Whether it’s a short walk in nature, a weekend getaway, or a more extended vacation, these moments of respite give your mind and body the opportunity to rest and recover.

Greater Enthusiasm and Effectiveness
Have you ever noticed how you return to your tasks after a break with more enthusiasm and clarity? That’s the magic of pausing. By stepping away from your routine, you create space for inspiration to flow, creativity to blossom, and enthusiasm to reignite. When you come back to your daily life, you do so with a newfound energy that enhances your effectiveness and passion.

Scheduling Regular Breaks: Make taking breaks a part of your routine. Whether it’s a daily meditation session, a weekly hike, or a yearly vacation, prioritize these moments of renewal.

Disconnecting: During your breaks, disconnect from the digital world. Put away your devices and immerse yourself in the present moment. There are many benefits to taking a digital fast.

Engaging in Activities You Love: Use your breaks to do things that truly bring you joy and relaxation. It could be reading, walking, gardening, or simply sitting in silence.

Sharing the Benefits: Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to take breaks too. A culture that values rest and renewal is a healthier and happier one. When I worked in the corporate world our department had a scheduled time each afternoon to get up and stretch together for just 5 minutes. It was a good way to bring the team together while getting some movement into the body.

In conclusion, renewing your inner spark through breaks is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for a fulfilling and sustainable life. The pause allows for reflection, resetting, and ultimately, coming back to daily life with greater enthusiasm and effectiveness. So, don’t hesitate to take that break, for it’s in those moments that you’ll find the power to reignite your inner spark and live a life that truly lights you up.

What’s a Wellness Retreat Holiday Anyway?


Well, think of it like your personal escape from the chaos of everyday life. It’s that magical place where you can finally take a breather, kick back, and find some peace and quiet. In other words, it’s your chance to hit pause on the daily grind and get in touch with your inner Zen. Life can seem a little crazy at times. Wellness retreats are like a secret hideaway where you can slow down, chill out, and rediscover yourself. The wellness retreat at Raven’s Perch has a little something for everyone. Whether you’re into yoga, meditation, detoxing, getting massages, or just doing some soul-searching, we’ve got you covered. It’s all about customizing the experience to fit your needs and wants.

Are you juggling a high-stress job, taking care of elderly parent(s), and teens while also trying to get to the gym, or visit with friends. While we may enjoy most of these activities on their own, thrown all together it can be overwhelming and hard to find time to relax. We’ve become accustomed to cramming every moment of our schedules so tightly that the idea of having spare time can trigger anxiety. What thoughts or emotions might arise when we find ourselves in a moment of tranquility without any distractions?

But this is the wonderful thing about retreats, it is all about embracing free time. It’s a chance to unplug, unwind, and disconnect from your phone! This is your golden opportunity to recharge, reflect, and have a heart-to-heart chat with yourself. No guilt about lazing around here. It’s a guilt-free zone to catch up on sleep, explore, read, write, draw, or just have a deep convo with your inner guru, asking, “What’s going on in there?”

So, what makes a Wellness Retreat Holiday different from your typical vacation?
Think about your past vacations… There’s the one where you lounge on the beach all day, another filled with non-stop sightseeing, and maybe even a shopping spree or two. These vacations are great, no doubt about it. But what sets a wellness retreat apart is what happens after you’ve packed your bags and gone back to reality.

After a wellness retreat, you don’t just come back feeling relaxed; you come back as a changed person, from the inside out. It’s not about superficial experiences; it’s about those deep, transformative moments.

And how does that happen, you ask?
Well, during a retreat, you get the time and space to rest and rejuvenate. But you also dive into activities that help you release stress, unlock hidden thoughts and emotions, and discover the root of your exhaustion. It’s a journey of self-reflection, moments of clarity, and those “aha” epiphanies that can change the trajectory of your life.

So, when should you start thinking about booking a wellness retreat?
It’s time to consider one if any of these sound familiar:
– You wake up tired most days
– Stress is your constant companion from work, life, or relationships
– You’re thinking about a career change but can’t see the path
– Life feels like it’s stuck on repeat, and you’re craving direction
– Recent tough times have left you in need of healing and space
– You’ve got that itch to find your life’s purpose
– You’re on a quest for your passions and a deeper understanding of yourself
– You’re all about improving your health and boosting your energy
– You’re standing at a crossroads, unsure of where to go next in life

So, what can a Wellness Retreat Holiday do for you?
– You’ll leave feeling refreshed and recharged
– You’ll gain insights into your life’s path and purpose
– It’s like a mental and emotional detox, releasing all those blockages
– You’ll create new healthy daily routines
– It’s a kick start for your physical well-being, finding ways to stay healthy when you’re back home
– You’ll reconnect with your inner emotions and let them flow
– You’ll see your life from a whole new perspective
– Maybe you’ll even discover new ways to express your true self

In a nutshell, while a wellness retreat won’t magically change your external circumstances, it will give you a fresh outlook on the world. It’s like a gift to yourself, a chance to learn, and an adventure into your inner self. So, what are you waiting for? Time to book that retreat and start your journey!

Life can be a challenge, find peace through healing retreats

Following on from my previous post about going with the flow and allowing plans to unfold and evolve as they need to… one of the ideas that we had originally been drawn to was to build a healing retreat on the property. The reality of the cost of building and of how we ended up utilizing the 5 acres made that idea fall away. Too many obstacles that we were unable to see past.

So, we let the idea rest. But the dream, the thought, kept nudging at my heart and my mind. Everywhere, I see the need for people to step out of their lives for even just a short while, to gain perspective, to have space to think and ground and heal – mind, body, emotion. We have many guests who tell us that they came to our out of the way little tiny home rental to take a break from work, from the weight of family commitments and just simply the burdens of life.

Very recently a young woman arrived for a month long stay. When I first met her I must admit I was concerned for her overall health. I welcomed her but just had a sense that I needed to let her be. A few days after she arrived she emerged from the rental and we had a chat. She was very open and expressed how she was dealing with many levels of trauma. I allowed her the space to talk. I mostly listened but when asked I would share thoughts and suggestions based on my own experience.

I suggested that she utilize everything that we and our property had to offer including the sauna, the sweet old claw foot bathtub, the forest, and the peaceful environment. I also suggested that she seek local health practitioners to help guide her on her journey. I witnessed her progress throughout the month and it was like watching a rose unfurl. When she got in her car to drive away and on to the next part of her journey to discover her Self and where her life path needed to go, she was a changed person. Still a seemingly fragile and delicate young woman but beneath that – a person who had had the strength and willingness to be completely vulnerable and alone – what I saw was a peaceful warrior, strong and ready to face life once more.

I am passionate about the healing journey and sharing not only my offerings but also the talents of practitioners here in the valley. I offer several yoga classes at Bindu Studio as well as personalized healing meditations, Yoga Nidra, and hands on spiritual healing at the health studio on our property.

A dream of mine has been to create private healing retreats at The Nest vacation rental to provide anywhere from 3 to 30 day long private healing retreats for one to two people at a time.

The concept is still being developed but essentially I work with guests to develop a unique and personal time for healing. Together, we build a plan for your stay depending on your needs and intentions for your retreat. You will be able to choose services from myself and health practitioners as mentioned above to support your healing journey.

Everything from minimal interactions with us but access to healing services as listed above (as well as the sauna) to lots of interactions including assistance with food prep, guidance with tools and techniques to build your optimal day that you can carry with you once you’ve finished your retreat. Or, somewhere in between, if you imagine it, let’s work together to make it happen!

If you are interested in more information please reach out, I’d be happy to talk more about this offering at Raven’s Perch with you.

In closing, here are some words from our guest who I spoke of above; she kindly wrote this testimonial of sorts for this post:

What a wonderfully restorative time! I stumbled across this listing on AirBnB – and it feels like a stroke of luck to have found a perfect little home, tucked away in the mountains. Not only did it meet my expectations – it exceeded them. Martha and Steve are incredibly welcoming and were able to offer a variety of services around the space itself, but the town of Winlaw in itself has many restorative practitioners and activities as well.
To be a bit more vulnerable, I drove into town feeling lost, un-rooted, and unwell. I made use of chiropractic, somatic massage therapy, yoga, sauna and time spent in nature itself to re-centre and re-ground. I loved how fresh the organic foods grown around the area were, and natural mineral water came straight from the tap too. I left feeling rejuvenated and re-energized to tackle life’s hurdles and changes of season again. – Melodi F.

How we use the wisdom of the Stoics to embrace the unknown, and go with the flow


When we embarked on this journey at Raven’s Perch we had a somewhat different image of how it would be. We had pictured a community of tiny homes on the lower area of the property along with a farm. Up top a few more dwellings including our home and the vacation rental. Some of these things came to fruition and some began to take shape but then evaporated into the ether due to arising circumstances.

Through the creation of our vision for this property and how we want to build our life in this small mountain community, we have remained relatively steadfast and continue to move forward despite the obstacles that come our way. When things become cloudy or when the path takes a sudden turn we seem to always return to stoicism for inspiration and strength to keep going.

Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will. Then your life will flow well.

The Epictetus quote above reminds us to guard against having rigid expectations or desires for everything to go exactly as you want. It acknowledges that life is unpredictable, and trying to force things to conform to our wishes can lead to disappointment and frustration.

Instead of imposing our desires onto reality, this quote encourages us to cultivate a mindset of acceptance and openness. It means embracing the circumstances, events, and outcomes as they naturally occur, without resistance or attachment to specific outcomes.

By adopting this perspective, the statement suggests that we will experience a sense of ease and harmony in life. When you let go of excessive control and surrender to the natural flow of life, you may find greater peace, contentment, and resilience in the face of challenges. In summary, this quote encourages a more flexible and accepting approach to life. By aligning your wishes with the unfolding reality, rather than trying to mould reality to fit your wishes, you may find greater peace and well-being.

So, while that dream of building a tiny home community is no longer a reality, we are watching an amazing permaculture farm take form. Emerald Grove is evolving beautifully under Ryan’s very capable hands. To watch the once empty field turn into a productive 1/2 acre working farm is incredible. The farm is Ryan’s blank canvas and he is the artist! Every day we are grateful for his presence and excited to see it all unfolds.

What has evolved is even better than what we had expected or intended. It’s been a great learning experience on many levels and as we continue to evolve our future plans it’s a quote that I’ll make sure to keep close at hand as a reminder.

Is there something in your life at the moment that you are trying to control or direct? How would it be if you would surrender to the flow and allow it to be what it needs to be. Could you accept an outcome other than what you’ve created in your mind? Just a thought to consider, to contemplate. Imagine that “thing” as a leaf on a flowing river and let it go without any expectation. You may be very pleased and surprised at the outcome!

Tiny Homes – A Viable Solution for Many

When you start looking into tiny homes on wheels it’s fascinating to see how creative a builder can be while still working within limited length and width parameters. Just watching a few episodes of Living Big in a Tiny House and you can see that there are seemingly unlimited ways for builders to create something very unique, special and most importantly, functional.

Recently, Cordell Pollock of VedaHawk Tiny Homes in Alberta, Canada, reached out to chat about what we’re doing here at Raven’s Perch and to introduce himself and his business. We talked about our shared passion for all things related to tiny house living but we also talked about some of the challenges faced by builders and those purchasing tiny homes. The high cost of buying and building traditional style homes makes it out of reach for most people and so tiny houses are a great option. One of the challenges that many face though, is finding a place to park their tiny home. City and rural bi-laws often prohibit any form of tiny house on wheels structure to be placed on private property.

We are lucky here at Raven’s Perch to have no restrictive zoning that prevents this type of dwellings being built or parked on the property. Where possible, other land owners here, and around the country, are creating similar opportunities for families to share the land and create community. In our region we see more and more land owners creating intentional communities that incorporate non-conventional style homes. Big Calm is one such community and worth checking out if you are interested in a beautiful place to park your home.

I really enjoyed speaking with Cordell, and so, asked him to share with you his story about himself and his business… (you can also check out his blog posts to learn more about Cordell’s life philosophy and helpful tips for tiny home living).

I strongly believe in innovation, creativity, and efficiency.
Tiny homes encapsulate all these things.

I started my company VedaHawk Tiny Homes in April of 2020 as a response to being laid-off from my previous career due to the outbreak of the pandemic. I had always wanted to build tiny houses and run my own tiny house company, so I took lemons and made my lemonade. During the first year I built my first model by myself while undergoing the CSA Z240 RV Certification process with Intertek Certification Services. Once I made it through that, I used my first build as a marketing tool to secure another build, and then another.

I wanted to build tiny homes since the first time I saw them on HGTV (pretty sure that is where we all saw them first). I was initially drawn to the idea just because I love building and they were a very neat concept, but the older I got the more I became aware of the housing issues that so many face.

Purchasing a home has become more and more of a dream for most people and no longer an achievable goal. And so, we rent, and the years go by, and we are still renting, no closer to achieving our goal of purchasing a home because the factors that have priced so many people out of the market are still there and are continuing to get worse.

Photo from VedaHawk website

I believe tiny houses are THE solution, and I believe they are the future of housing. So when I started my company, it was no longer because it seemed like a cool thing to do. I had vision, ambition, drive, and big plans. I started building for individuals and am now aiming to partner with established businesses to bring tiny houses to more people.

Once I have got my name deeper into the market, I intend to develop my own eco friendly tiny home communities. I strongly believe in innovation, creativity, and efficiency. Tiny homes encapsulate all these things, and I think everyone deserves one.

Manifest Your Dreams

When we purchased our property we knew that we wanted to share the land with a farmer. We had no idea how we would make that happen but we put that intention out, talked to people in the area and ultimately found The Young Agrarians and their land matching program. Our land matching facilitator for the area was amazing and over a period of a few months we met several potential farmers. For one reason or another none were the right fit. Many months went by and just as we thought that we wouldn’t find someone, along came Ryan!

From the start Steve and I had a great feeling about Ryan and his partner Aparna. We are so excited that they chose to join us here at Raven’s Perch and to share in the development of this sweet little property! It was all hands on deck starting early spring and it is only now that we can all take a breather and get this post published.

And, so, without further ado, this is Ryan!

My name is Ryan Morin and I was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I moved across Canada to British Columbia in 2019. That was when I was 23 years old, and I had just discovered a passion for growing and getting back to the land. Before then I was stumbling along life’s path aimlessly enjoying myself for the most part.

Being a university drop out was a confusing place to be as a young adult, so naturally I just left it all behind me and went to Australia. Traveling abroad provided the space I needed to figure things out, and refine what I really wanted to do. Along the way I met my partner Aparna who agreed to come traveling around New Zealand with me. After surviving van life together for 6 months she came back to Canada with me to build a life together.

I learnt of Young Agrarians (YA) and their land matching program in 2020 at my first farming job. I scanned their “U-Map” looking at all the opportunities across Canada. I set my sights on Nelson, BC for the 2021 season, and was working with Hailey from YA to seek out suitable land matches in the area. Upon being introduced to Martha and Steve I thought they were cool and really supportive. The land has only 1 acre of arable land, but this fit the needs of the small permaculture farm I had planned. I thought this opportunity could work for me, and so I started to build a relationship with them before committing to anything. After inoculating some logs, sharing food, and getting to know each other for that year I was feeling really good about building my farm and home on their land here in Winlaw.

That winter at the start of 2022, Aparna and I purchased our Yurt. We took the leap of faith to build our home, and my farm here. We definitely bit off more than we could chew, because this year ended up being the most challenging of our life so far. We worked extremely hard, taking no days off all summer. We worked full-time, and then every weekend commuted out to Winlaw from our previous place in Blewett (35 minutes drive). We had to do this in order to build the yurt, as well I was fulfilling the overzealous goal of growing a ¼ garden plot. The garden was a great success and was definitely worth the extra effort. I got a great yield, and provided food for our family, Martha and Steve, and many people in the community. Emerald Grove’s first season was a great success!

Now when I write this, the snow is on the ground, and my life is changing with the season. Things are slowing down, and I am taking time to regenerate. This winter I will plan for the future of the farm, and be ready next spring to do it all again, but bigger. Looking ahead my plans for Emerald Grove are to first build up the market garden. I would like to have the best ½ acre of land converted into beds for growing organic vegetables to be sold. The other ½ acre of land I will convert into a food forest that surrounds the market gardens peripherals. This will be accomplished over time by sheet mulching, and then planting different perennials trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, and self seeding annuals as well. Eventually my hope is that the whole area of the farm is a contiguous growing space chock full of captivating diversity, and abundance. This will ultimately be an expression of my growing philosophy, which seeks to balance the ideals of permaculture with the practicality of market farming.

Some of the challenges present on the land are limited space, and limited light. I named the farm Emerald Grove, because we are located on the edge of a forest. It is not a typical agricultural site. The main field has good sun exposure, because we cut down a stand of tall cedar trees, but lots of areas get less than 8 hours of sun. The soils range from a deep fertile sandy loam to rocky gravel. Another challenge is water conservation, because of the continuously dry conditions that occur here in the summer. Building up mulch layers in the food forest will be critical to minimize irrigation needs. As well it will be necessary to store water during wet seasons of the year, and use these reserves in the summer. This will prevent over using the water available in the ground, and pumping the well dry. The ideal water system would include a solar water pump that moves water to a large cistern that is uphill of the garden. This would allow us to use gravity fed irrigation, and increase available pressure.

Next spring will mark the first year of farming on my own, and as my sole source of income. It is very exciting, and also a little frightening. Financial challenges are the greatest limiting factor at the moment. I still require a cold storage, wash and pack station, and a delivery vehicle to operate commercially next year. That will be the first order of business when the snow melts. For now it is back to the drawing board to design, crop plan, order seeds, and get educated. I am grateful for all the blessings I had in 2022. I conclude this chapter by the wood stove feeling cozy for the winter.

Was it worth the wait? Heck yeah!

What started as a dream in 2018 when I first purchased land in the Slocan Valley has become a reality and we are now living in our beautiful Nomad Micro Home. The amazing Sustainable Roots Contracting team, led by Jessie Novak, did a fabulous job constructing the main home and detached rental. We came up with some ideas to put our own stamp on the original design and the end results are glorious – we could not be more pleased!

Jessie Novak and his team heading out on the last official day of the build
Jessie and his crew heading out on the last day of the build

From my last post about poop in … wow, July 2020 … to now – we’ve been very busy, and we have just received our final occupancy, so we are in! What an epic journey, not only with the project but with life in general … The pandemic certainly has disrupted many of our lives on so many levels and it can be hard to keep from feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the uncertainty of it all. Having this project has been a blessing (and, ok, sometimes a curse!) in that it has kept me focused and in the moment. The Tarot card II Pentacles pretty much says it all. This card reminds us to be patient, flexible and adaptable as we try to juggle our responsibilities.

I also love the Stoic quote below, I think it’s a good reminder for us all.

“The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately” Seneca

My biggest learnings from tackling a building project are that construction loans are not what they appear to be (don’t be tempted to get one unless you have a bank account full of money); everything will take 2 or 3 times longer than you expect and be more expensive (especially during a pandemic – plywood went up in cost by 3 times!); and you need to be flexible and adaptable. I wrote about the importance of maintaining flexibility and being adaptable quite some time ago. We’ve certainly had to be very adaptable and ready to make quick decisions, particularly over the past 10 months.

Everything happens for a reason and in it’s own time and while we were supposed to be moved in to our home in the fall, I’m glad that we ended up moving in in the winter as it is forcing us to take a breather and to rest. There will be a lot of work to do on the property in the spring and summer but for now I’m focusing on getting back to some sorely missed disciplines and practices – namely, meditation, yoga, Tarot and numerology.

I’m also looking forward to writing more regular posts! My next one will be about our beautiful little vacation rental that we call The Nest!

Let’s Talk Poop

I’ve spent my whole life until now living in places that were hooked up to city sewage systems so I’ve never had a reason or desire to understand how a septic system works.  Living in cities we don’t think about this kind of s#!t … we pour it, dump it, flush it and forget about it.  Well, unless you live in Victoria where we’re reminded often that we are flushing our poop (among other things) into the ocean (though thankfully that’s now changing with a new raw sewage filtration plant at the mouth of the harbor).  

So, now that I watched a septic system being installed and I’ll be living with this thing, I want to understand how it works.  I want to understand how to maintain it and what actually happens down there underground, in the tank and in the field.

It was great having a chance to peer into the tank before it was mostly buried.  It looked spotlessly clean – it made me wonder about all the things you could use it for (before it gets used for what it is meant, of course).

A hot tub, a fish tank? As the installer was explaining all the parts to us, he proceeded to show me the filter that I will apparently need to pull up from time to time to hose it off … 

Um… to… WHAT? I have do that? Ha ha… you’re joking, right? Nope, no joking. I think I’ll hire someone to do it.  Going rural, I guess there’s a lot of that sort of thing I’ll have to get used to – cleaning out chicken coops will be another fun adventure … more poop… 

Maintaining a safe and clean septic system is a very important part about living unattached to the city sewerage system.

I did a bit of research and found a site that discussed the best toilet paper to use.  Don’t use anything too robust, they say, as it will likely sink to the bottom of the tank and build up over time – that definitely doesn’t sound good. 

This resource gives a good selection of TP to use and includes pros and cons – who knew there was so much to consider about TP? I mean, yah, I have my favourite types based on feel – nothing feels good about sand paper down there, or the kind that basically disintegrates in your hands while you’re using it, yuck.

Basically it’s good to remember that nothing goes down the toilet except for toilet paper – NOTHING – no Kleenex, paper towels, baby wipes, tampons, kitty litter etc.  Just the right kind of toilet paper. Those leftovers in the fridge that start to look like a weird biology experiment? No way, keep that stuff out of there.

Moving on to the kitchen sink? This will be hard for me; I can’t say I’ve been overly conscious about food stuff that I put down the sink … So, I’ll have to be better at remembering that nothing goes down except for water and soap.  That grease from the bacon pan? Either use paper towels to soak it up and wipe it down or better yet scoop it out when it’s hard and put it in an old tin can … Coffee grounds? Well, these are really good in the garden, especially around hydrangea bushes and things like blueberries that like the acidity.

Of course it goes without saying that chemicals should never ever go down the toilet or sink – that means no bleach! Bleach will kill off all of the good bacteria that the septic system needs to break down the waste and keep it running well. Not to mention you’ll be contaminating the soil and that’s a hazard for everyone and everything – think of the butterflies, birds, bees and bugs. Always dispose of chemicals properly!  

For cleaning, I really love the products you can purchase at Nezza Naturals in Victoria (they ship in Canada and US!).

Or make your own! It’s so simple – lately I’ve been sprinkling baking soda and vinegar in the bathroom sink and shower to clean off soap scum – it works really well.  Lemon juice is also really great to use and it smells so nice and fresh.  You can cut a lemon in half and rub the juice on whatever area you are cleaning, squeeze out the extra juice and add it to a spray bottle that has water in it. Spray the sink or other surfaces as a disinfectant. 

Tea Tree Oil is also a really great alternative to bleach. It’s got a natural fresh scent. Just add a few drops of the oil in warm water in a spray bottle and spray any surface that needs a bit of disinfectant.

Vinegar isn’t quite as pleasant in terms of scent but with its acidic properties it makes for a great cleaning product. Again just put into a spray bottle mixed with water and start cleaning.  You can also add a bit of vinegar to your laundry – it’ll help brighten your clothes and cut through any soap residue.  Try pouring a little bit in your machine next time you do a load (not too much – you don’t want to smell like a chip shop!)

I’ve never used it myself but I hear that Castile soap is a great alternative to bleach.  It’s made with olive oil – dilute it with water and use it to scrub bathrooms, dishes and floors. You can also add it to your laundry as a detergent by adding vinegar, and baking soda.

I’ll end this poopy post with a funny story shared to me by my septic system installer.  A customer called him up complaining of a blocked septic pipe.  He went to check it out and ended up having to use a long stick or tool to poke at an obstruction.  He poked and poked and then suddenly realized that the blockage was breaking up, and breaking up fast.  He had just enough time to turn and run before a poop geyser shot poop into the sky nearly covering him in s#@t. 

When he spoke to the home owner, he asked if they used dry laundry detergent – oh no said he, never … long pause … oh… except, a few years ago my wife decided she’d make her own so, yeah, I guess we did for a time.  

So final tip, do not use dry powder for dishwasher or laundry or you might just create a poop geyser of your own.

That’s it, that’s all I’m going to say about poop (for now… until I get chickens).

Gardening by Moon Cycles

I’ve been thinking and talking about gardening and farming a lot these days with pretty much anyone I meet and I have learned so much already through these conversations! My mind is actively mulling over the potentials and opportunities that this farming project has to offer.

I find it interesting how, when we put our mind to something or begin to think in a certain way, all of a sudden it is like the answers appear! What we need to know is revealed to us in many different ways, sometimes subtle and sometimes not. Over the last week I have received an incredible amount of information that is helping me to understand the whole process of farming from many new (to me) angles and perspectives.

Yesterday I was chatting with one of my neighbours. After meeting her cat who was shyly circling me at an appropriate distance the conversation turned to chickens… we want to get chickens but are concerned with the local critters big and small (bears, eagles, ravens, wolves, and coyotes) that might want to eat them. We then started talking about gardening and she told me she was just about to transplant a rose bush because the moon was moving into Pisces. To this my ears pricked up … what is this you say? What do transplanting a rose bush and the astrological sign Pisces have in common? When I asked her to explain she proceeded to tell me about the moon cycles and how they influence gardening activities – when to plant, harvest and even build or mend fences!

When I got home I checked it out on the Farmers Almanac site and sure enough, there it was – information about Gardening by the Moon. So exciting!!! I love this stuff.

As I went down that rabbit hole it took me to a site about Biodynamic gardening, a philosophy that “works in rhythm with earth and cosmos” and how farmers that follow this holistic method understand the “subtle ways that the environment and wider cosmos influence the growth and development of plants and animals.” In 1924, the philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner offered lectures to farmers that “opened a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature.” More to study and absorb!

In the past few days I have heard through various unrelated people and conversations about the organization called WWOOF World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In their mission statement they explain that this organization is part of a “worldwide movement linking visitors with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange thereby helping to build a sustainable global community.” Perhaps this is something that we will be a part of in the future once our farm has been up and running for a few years and the infrastructure is in place.

Spring is a time of growth and transformation. We see it in nature with the trees, flowers, birds and animals coming to life. In early spring we can feel on one hand ready for action but on the other still awakening from the quiet time of winter… It is common for people to feel as though a pressure is building up within but they do not yet know how it will manifest – only to be revealed for example once the tight fern frond has fully opened to it’s ultimate form and shape by mid-spring. I for one tend to feel an underlying sensation of impatience at this time of year.

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”

Matsuo Bashō

And so for now, I will enjoy the process of doing little and absorbing much. The field in it’s current state is such a lovely place to walk and to be. Watching it change with the seasons offers much information that we will need when we start planting and growing.