Oregon Country Fairness

The Oregon Country Fair is better experienced felt than described or explained. 

Every year since 1969, a tribe of creative dreamers have transformed the banks of the Long Tom River outside Eugene, Oregon into a hippie haven that cannot be rivaled. The Oregon Country Fair is a counter-culture utopia that models how “alternative” living can create sustainable communities. 

If you’ve ever been intrigued the 60s or wish you could relive them, the Oregon Country Fair could be for you. If you could think of nothing better to do than create magical moments under an forest canopy, the Oregon Country Fair is your kind of place. Plus there are foods from around the world, solely handcrafted goods, 18 entertainment stages, drum tower, and a marching-band circus – check the official Peach Pit.  Trekking to the Oregon Country Fair may be too far for your carbon footprint, but I would encourage you to dream up new ways of celebrating sustainability and creating your own new brand of “counter-culture.” 

As a hippie kid, my Twin Sis and I were 10 days old for our first fair experience, and we started on Staff as the first TEEN crew.  I was sometimes embarrassed to have hippie parents, aren’t all parents mortifying at 13?!, but I’m now proud of my  Green Mama and Green Dads . My father has been on the recycling crew for decades now, and it’s one of the only annual events with 45,000 people that recycles and composts virtually everything, plus they reduce with real silverware now!

I’ve taken an extended “maternity leave” since our Big Guy was born, so this will be my first full weekend camping at the fair. Last year Big Guy was lucky enough to spend the whole weekend with his Auntie and Grandma! I’m really looking forward to experiencing the fair through the eyes of my children and connecting with a wholey unique tribe of sustainable dreamers.

If you want to learn more about the history and adventures of the Fair Family, check out cover story articles for the Eugene Weekly.

Have you experienced the Oregon Country Fair?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Milking It

Now that I’ve weaned Girly, I can finally talk about lactating without getting sentimental or engorged.  I chose to breastfeed for health reasons, both for my children and myself. But it was also convenient and saved us a lot of money. 

Rough estimates show that you can save at least $1500 in the first year of life . The Journal of Pediatrics research shows that breastfeeding could save billions of dollars ! The statistics are pretty startling:

The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says…About 43 percent of U.S. mothers do at least some breast-feeding for six months, but only 12 percent follow government guidelines recommending that babies receive only breast milk for six months. 

The beauty of breastfeeding is that it’s free and natural. If case you can’t help yourself, there some great green breastfeeding paraphernalia you may “need.”

I never really researched myself, but I found an in-depth article about why breastfeeding is better for the environment too. Here’s another “eco-mama’s” take on overcoming breastfeeding challenges.

Pumping is certainly the least glamorous aspect, especially if you accidentally flash the mailman like I did! I pumped for a year with both kiddos, and it can be physically exhausting, but the pay is worth it. I bought a standard Medela pump, but I found the second time around that an inexpensive hand pump actually expressed the same amount in the same time, plus at home I could nurse while pumping. You’ll need some BPA-free bottles too. I also chose cloth breast pads, rather than disposal ones, and my Big Guy loved calling them “booby socks.”

Sadly there are toxic pollutants in breastmilk , but feeding is still encouraged. It only makes me want to take action so that my Girly will be able to feed her family. I’ve been active online with MOMS: Making Our Milk Safe for almost five years now, and despite the circumstances progress is possible. 

Do feel supported or judged about breast feeding?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Yard Sale Savvy

Today’s title is a bit in jest, because I don’t consider myself to be all that savvy when it comes to yard sales. But when my neighbors decided to host a group sale, I couldn’t help but join in.

Technically, I ended up in the hole. I bought more than I sold. I had tons of kids clothes, 2 bags of books, some chair cushions and a futon cover. Virtually no families with young kids showed up, so I only sold a few jammies and onesies. The books sold well, although I wasn’t sure how to price them and I’m pretty sure that I should have headed to Powell’s for a trade before offering them up for $1. In total, I only earned $29. Yet, I felt like I came out ahead…

My neighbor had the perfect antique chase and a sweet little wooden bench seat! Both need to reupholstering, but they are exactly what I had in mind on my home wish list. Plus, I scored 5 boxes of jam and canning jars, which I was planning to purchase the very next day. I also picked up a couple of games and dress-up clothes for the kids: all for $65.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Prep the week before and plan to set up early – expect early birds
  • My neighbor sold donuts in the morning and sodas in the afternoon for $1
  • Be willing to negotiate on price, but don’t sell something for less than donation value
  • Group pricing 2 for $5 etc, to encourage bulk sales
  • Have cash and change handy
  • Crank up some music and have some fun! 
  • More tips…

Getting buyers to you sale is critical. They advertised in the newspaper, on Craig’s list, and signs. With an informal poll, generally the older generation found out from the paper, while the younger crowd hit craigslist or simply scouted by signs en route. In hind sight, I should have been more proactive about advertising via Facebook and local mom networks to help get the word out. 

Lastly, despite the bargain scores, yard sales always remind me why we try to live uncluttered and how too much stuff harms the planet and robs you in the process.

What are your tips for a successful sale?
Do you find sales worth your time and energy?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Poop Composter

Next week marks our one year anniversary from adopting our Doggy, a five year old black lab. Like our Big Guy reminded me tonight, we have more than four “people” in our family now! 

As much as our Doggy has become a family member, we still haven’t figured out the best way to contain his double-daily-duties. Hubby is the scooper, but we needed a poop composter.

First I found one online, and was pretty much sold:   The  Doggy Dooley dog poop composter  is a small bin that you bury into the ground. You pop open the lid to put poop inside, which decomposes underground. There‚Äôs an enzyme product that you sprinkle into the bin to help with decomposition. It costs about $59.

Then I found the close to freebie option: directions for making your own doggy composter!

Next I found a quick video:

Hubby dug the hole over the weekend, and with any luck we’ll have a successful and more sustainable system for doggy waste.

Do you have a doggy composter?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Farmer Fresh

Nothing says summer more than a flat of Oregon strawberries. Add some blueberries on top of some vanilla ice cream, and you’ve got a simple and fabulous desert! 

I’ve been to the farmer’s market twice this week on lunch breaks, and plan to go on Sunday too.  I’ll pick up a flat of strawberries and making my first-ever batch of strawberry jam! I agree with a fellow blogger from the Greenest Dollar who refuses to be intimidated by canning. Really it’s not rocket science, but it is more sustainable and will save you money.

I was definitely aghast to hear that  Safeway tried to host a faux farmer’s market  – minus real local farmers! It’s enough to make me want to boycott Safeway, but since it’s the only grocery store I can walk to, I don’t think driving for last minute items would pay off for the environment or our pocketbook. But since I buy most of my produce through Spud’s organic delivery, I already avoid driving and buy almost all organic.

Do you support your local farmer’s market?
Do you find good prices and unbeatable freshness?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.