Sticks and stones
Rebecca Simpson knows how to start a fire with two sticks. The 36-year-old former financial adviser can weave baskets from the willow she picks in an empty lot near her Newbury Park home. She burns oil lamps using rendered fat and makes cups from old newspaper to start seeds in her backyard greenhouse. Simpson spent four months stitching together 150 rabbit hides to make a blanket that can handle freezing temperatures. When her husky shed its undercoat for summer, she turned it into a hat and scarf. Since 2008, the busy mom has become progressively invested in a sustainable lifestyle that, earlier this year, she began documenting through her blog, Suburban Stone Age.
Though she’s been involved in organic gardening, reuse and green living for some time, it wasn’t until her husband agreed to let her raise chickens that she began journaling about it all online. “That was the match on the gasoline.
That’s what pulled it all together. That’s when I started to spill my guts.” She admits that she may be amusing only herself with her blog, but believes it is useful to “chronicle what one person can do and what it’s like to make these small changes.” Simpson says caring for chickens is easier than raising a puppy, and soon she will have more eggs than she knows what to do with. She purposefully purchased five Easter egg chickens or “Americuanas” because they lay lovely, pastel green eggs. “They are gorgeous,” she gushes. “I had to have green eggs,” she says — with or without ham. Since Simpson is not a vegetarian, the obvious next question is whether or not she plans to eat one of the chickens — the answer is yes with a caveat: “I made a promise to my son that the ones we have now will be pets, but there will come a time when I would like to raise birds for meat.” For Simpson, it’s a matter of respect for the planet’s natural resources. “If I’m going to eat chicken I need to understand what I’m eating. There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing meat for consumption.”
Survival and the taste of friendship
For many people, living a simpler, more eco-friendly life is an economic pursuit; for others it’s a political statement.
What drives Simpson is survival. “So much survival stuff is all dudes,” she says. “No one talks about a woman’s perspective. How do they care for infants, how do they live? That’s sort of my perspective: how does it look to a woman with children?” Having already accomplished much in this vein, this year she’s working up to canning. She bought herself a pressure canner to assuage her fears of contamination, and her goal is to preserve 80 percent of her tomatoes in sauce form. Nothing makes Simpson happier than serving food made from home-grown ingredients. “In the winter we had peaches and apples. They were full of character. They were like old friends coming back from the freezer,” she mused.
To follow Simpson’s journey of sustainable living, visit her blog: www.suburbanstoneage.blogspot.com.