We make sure all the animals and plants - wild and domestic - on our farm have enough food and shelter to be happy and healthy. When they're sick (wild or domestic) we take care of them, get them the rest and medicine they need - usually special diets cure most disease - and otherwise do our best to be kind to them.
Every once in a while we have to take a moment to remember those often neglected and important animals that also live on our farm - us!
Today we got a brand new sleeping tent. It's a Coleman "Trailblazer" and it seems real nice. We got it on sale because the paper on the box was scratched up, sending it to the surplus outlet store. We didn't mind. We'll let you know how we like it and how it compares to our other tents.
Since we're setting it up today, here's a picture from the website, www.coleman.com
We practice in-tent-sive farming (intensive farming).... oh, that was a terrible pun. No more puns!
For those readers new to this blog or who don't know us yet, we're "intense" (get it, "in-tents?") people (with no shame of using puns). Don't worry, that'll be the last pun in this blog.
Tents are wonderful alternatives to houses or caves. When we lived in Colorado, it wasn't uncommon to drive or boat along the mountain rivers and see all the cave dwellers. Some were multimillion dollar mansions, others were primative things inhabited by wild people. Of course, when driving around on deliveries, we would see all kinds of houses too: some were multimillion dollar mansions, others were little more than shacks.
But it wasn't until we came to California that we noticed other people living in tents. Here, it is much more common: there are multi-thousand dollar yurts for the wealthy, there are rags strung up on poles for the poor. No matter how expensive, tents will have all the conveniences of a house, and more conveniences than a cave.
Caves require water and light to be brought in, but require little heat and cooling. Fire (burning gas, wood, oil, wax, or other fuel) or electricity are used for the light and heat. Water is either brought in with pumps and pipes or is bucketed in.
With houses, water and light are also needed. So is heat and cooling, if the house is not constructed well. Water is pumped or bucketed in, and light is usually brought in by way of electricity or fire places and candles. No cave torches here, please!
Tents require light in the night, and this is provided by candles, electric lanterns or an external fire. Heat is provided by gas, electricity, or fire. Some high-end tents have furnaces, but we use a space heater because we decided it was simply not cost effective to have a $5,000 dollar furnace when a $50 space heater would do the same job: the furnace might last 25 years, but even if we went through 2 heaters per year, we'd only spend $2,500.
Tents are more ecologically friendly than houses, requiring no wood lumbered or stone mined. We do use some wood in our tent as a floor, but console ourselves that we did not kill even one full tree for our floor, and that the wood we bought came from farmed forests. The stones in the retaining wall we have as landscaping about our sleeping tent came from our fields and needed no mining.
Some high end tents are works of art: painted with murals and decorated with pretty stones, gold woven into the fabric's tapestry. Our tent is made with space-age nylon and is water-repellant, sturdy enough to handle the Sierra snows.
Tents are more clean than houses or caves. A house gets mold between its walls, and the wood or stone eventually gets dirty. A cave is nearly impossible to clean well without lots of scrubbing. The cloth of our home is easily washable, and when the furniture is removed, it can be turned inside out and made very clean. Some tents are made of wood fabric that cannot be laundered, but these panels are often replaced periodically for less cost than equivilant house cleaning or repair.
Tents are more affordable than houses and more available than caves. Almost all the best caves are always occupied - if not by people, than by the bears, lions, bats, raccoons and other critters that like caves. You'd be hard pressed to construct even a modular home for less than $75,000 these days, but a "mobile" home can be acquired for $10,000. The most expensive and elaborate Yurt we could find (excepting those works of art imported from Asia) costed $9,000, and included a sauna, indoor toilet and bedroom, complete with electrical wiring and plumbing pre-installed. that's a bit better than a mobile home!
The upkeep on a house is expensive in time and money, but tents require little work. At $80, our modest tent could be replaced every year for less than what some of our extended family pays for basic house repair in the same period.
We have used many brands of tents in the past, but usually stick with REI and Coleman. We use tents for some of our mushrooms, for some of our sprouts, for storage of valuables, for everything that needs a home like we do. Our greenhouse is a tent! We love tents.
Some of our neighbors continue to kindly offer their houses and their mobile homes to us, believing that tents are inferior living environments. This is truly the spirit of America, and the generosity that made our nation great: these good people would offer their homes to their neighbor!
But now that we have had a chance to think about it, we'll out-do them: we'll offer them a tent!
If anyone wants to try out tenting, we welcome you to our farm for a night, a few days, or as long as you like. It's wonderful.